Show 171: Astral Week Dissection, Reviews of Kelly Clarkson & K'naan, Greg's DIJ
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1 Prince has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to distribution, but now he is joining the ranks of musicians who have made deals with big box merchandisers. His new 3-disc collection will be sold exclusively at Target later this month for just $11.98. Previously he tried to deliver an album through The Daily Mail and also bundled wtih concert tickets. No Doubt is following that suit. They are offering the band’s entire catalog for free along with the purchase of a concert ticket. Seems like a pretty good deal for consumers, but may not be as good of a deal to independent retailers.
2 Van Morrison recorded and released his masterpiece Astral Weeks 41 years ago, and to celebrate he released a live version of the album. This gave Jim and Greg a perfect opportunity to look back at Astral Weeks with a Sound Opinions Classic Dissection. Astral Weeks didn’t produce huge hits, but as Jim and Greg explain, this record is unique from any other in Van Morrison’s collection, and in fact, in rock history. It melds rock, blues, folk and jazz in such a way that makes it hard to define. The jazz musicians who contributed to this sound were guitarist Jay Berliner, drummer Connie Kay and bassist Richard Davis. But, in addition to the music, Jim and Greg both marvel at the emotions conveyed by the songs on Astral Weeks. You hear Van Morrison struggle with the search for home and the impermanence of life. It’s as much a poem as it is an album, making it a classic in the Sound Opinions’ book.
3 America’s first “Idol” Kelly Clarkson has a new album out called All I Ever Want. Clarkson’s last release was a stinker even by label head Clive Davis’ standards, so this was her chance at redemption. Did she succeed? Jim likes a lot of feminist pop punk, but he’s mystified by Kelly Clarkson’s appeal. That said, half of this album is undeniably catchy pop rock. He has no use for the other half, however, which is full of soggy ballads. Jim gives the album a Burn It. Greg can see why fans are taken with the singer. She has an endearing personality and a great voice. But her conservative production choices overshadow any good ideas Clarkson might be trying to get across. All I Ever Want is far from what Greg wants; he gives it a Trash It rating.
4 Next up Jim and Greg review the second album from rapper K’Naan. In his songs K’Naan describes the tough streets he grew up on. And we believe him. Before settling in Ontario, K’Naan lived in Mogadishu. You can hear his African roots in the music, along with reggae and hip hop beats. Greg finds this hybrid really fresh. But, the record falls down when he tries to be too diverse. Greg gives Troubadour a Burn It. Jim wonders if he’s just in a better mood today. He agrees that some of the diverse cameos like Adam Levine and Kirk Hammett are totally unnecessary. But K’Naan has a strong voice and his songs have a strong sense of melody. The record gets a Buy It rating from Jim.
5 Recently Greg’s been thinking about whatever happened to soul singer D’Angelo. He made what Greg would consider a masterful album in 2000. Voodoo put D’Angelo at the heart of the Neo soul movement, but that’s the last we’ve heard from him. Greg can’t explain the disappearance, but he can relive the singer’s glory days with this week’s Desert Island Jukebox song “Devil’s Pie.”
Songs Featured in Show #171
Chesterfield Kings, “She Told Me Lies,” Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era - 1976-1995, 2005
Prince, “My Name is Prince,” The Love Symbol Album, 1992
Van Morrison, “The Way Young Lovers Do,” Astral Weeks, 1968
Shadows of Night, “Gloria,” Gloria, 1966
Van Morrison, “Brown Eyed Girl,” Blowin’ Your Mind!, 1967
The Modern Jazz Quartet, “Willow Weep for Me,” Fontessa, 1956
Charles Mingus, “Track C - Group Dancers,” The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, 1963
Van Morrison, “Astral Weeks,” Astral Weeks, 1968
Van Morrison, “Ballerina,” Astral Weeks, 1968
Van Morrison, “Beside You,” Astral Weeks, 1968
Van Morrison, “Sweet Thing,” Astral Weeks, 1968
Van Morrison, “Cyprus Avenue,” Astral Weeks, 1968
Van Morrison, “Madame George,” Astral Weeks, 1968
Van Morrison, “Slim Slider,” Astral Weeks, 1968
The Secret Machines, “Astral Weeks,” The Road Leads Where Its Led, 2005
Kelly Clarkson, "My Life Would Suck Without You," All I Ever Wanted, 2009
Kelly Clarkson, "Whyyouwannabringmedown," All I Ever Wanted, 2009
K'Naan, "T.I.A.," Troubadour, 2009
K'Naan, "ABCs," Troubadour, 2009
D'Angelo, "Devil's Pie," Voodoo, 2000
Blondie, "Call Me," American Gigolo, 1980
Morrissey, "Life is a Pigsty," Ringleader of the Tormentors, 2006
U2, "Unknown Caller," No Line on the Horizon, 2009