Sound Bites Black Keys, Nancy Wilson, McCartney Tribute & More – Music – Buzz
This week’s edition of Sound Bites could have contained more than twice as many titles as what appears here, so fast and furious that new releases keep coming. Here’s a sample of some of the best new material I’ve heard released over the past two weeks.
The Black Keys – “Delta Kream” (Nonesuch)
Not only fans of The Black Keys but blues fans in general should flock to this collection of rocking country hills blues recorded on the fly over two afternoons in December 2019. For their 10th LP, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney takes a look at some of the traditional blues music from the Mississippi Hills that was so influential in their formation. “These songs are still as important to us today as they were the first day Pat and I started playing together,” Auerbach said in a statement. Standards like “Crawling King Snake” (here in two versions) rub shoulders with less often covered blues tunes associated with artists RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Big Joe Williams. The performances are uniformly excellent and feature contributions from Burnside guitarist Kenny Brown and Kimbrough bassist Eric Deaton. The sound is sufficiently rich, dark, deep and frightening.
Leftover Salmon – “Brand New Good Old Days” (compass)
For over 30 years, this Colorado-based jam group has dabbled in a myriad of genres while remaining rooted in bluegrass and Cajun music. A great spirit of fun is found in the 10 new tracks of “Brand New Good Old Days”, as evidenced by the surprising opening cover of “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden which stands out like a flaming barn. John Hartford’s “Category Stomp” is revisited in a fairly faithful version highlighted by fanciful picking. Conway Twitty’s “Boogie Grass Band” is a perfectly chosen cover that sounds like it was written for this band. The title track, along with the uplifting close-up of “We’re Coming” is not only musically exciting, but contains a message about living the moment that strikes at home for many of us after the worry. and the uncertainty of the past 14 months: “We may never know about the sky tomorrow, so take it as it comes, one way or another, we’ll get by.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “When God Was Great” (Hellcat / Epitaph)
Despite its premiere in the midst of the pandemic, Mighty Mighty Bosstones frontman Dicky Barrett says his band’s 11th album represents the most fun these ska rockers have had in the studio. The proof is the festive atmosphere of the album and the strength of the material. It’s no small feat that the Bosstones built one of their best efforts nearly four decades after they first reunited in Boston. The reality of the outside world has infiltrated the pandemic-themed “Move” studio, but these guys prefer lightness over gravity. “When we tried to flatten the curve I was ready and willing and able. But you got a hell of a nerve because you took it off the table, ”Barrett sings in the call and answer. A left-field reggae version on CCR’s “Long As I Can See the Light” might sound like an odd inclusion, but it works and the message fits.
Nancy Wilson – “You and Me” (Carry On Music)
Besides the occasional soundtracks, this album represents Heart’s guitarist’s first official solo effort. Wilson’s instantly recognizable voice is as warm as ever on the Friends-themed opening title cut, one of the original eight here, a collaboration with longtime partner / sometimes writing partner Sue Ennis. Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins and Duff McKagen of Guns N ‘Roses join rocker “Party at the Angel Ballroom,” one of the strongest cuts here. Wilson revamps Bruce Springsteen‘s September 11th-themed “The Rising” for a world in recovery mode in the wake of Covid. Pearl Jam’s version of “Daughter” carries the weight of the original as Wilson pushes his voice to bring home the song’s anti-abuse message. Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” with an appearance by Sammy Hagar, is taken at a faster pace while retaining the spirit of the original. Wilson tackles our current divisive period on “The Inbetween”, another out of the ordinary track that sounds like a hit. She sends love to a recently deceased friend on the brief closing acoustic instrumental piece “4 Edward”, a tribute to Eddie Van Halen. Overall, “You and Me” is an impressive solo debut by Wilson and hopefully a pointer to his next move with Heart.
Ram On – “The 50th Anniversary Tribute to Paul and Linda McCartney’s ‘Ram’ (various artists) (Spirit of Unicorn Music)
Paul McCartney’s second solo album, “Ram,” has undergone a remarkable critical reassessment in recent years. Initially and inexplicably pummeled by critics but loved by fans, “Ram”, in its original form, is an almost perfect collection of inspired writing, performance and production. This has been this fan’s favorite Macca LP for over 40 years, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I listened to this reinvented “Ram” recorded by a large and diverse group of musicians, including three appearing on the original. Guitarist David Spinozza is returning to play roles he played 50 years ago, as is Marvin Stamm who played on Paul’s “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”. Original “Ram” drummer Denny Seiwell co-produced and performed on a number of tracks. The roster here exceeds 100 as the songs mostly (and luckily) stay close to the original arrangements. Join the Ram-fest: Pat Sansone from Wilco, Eric Dover from Jellyfish, Davey Johnstone from Elton John’s band, Carnie Wilson, Dan Rothchild from Tonic, Dave Depper from Death Cab for Cutie, Will Lee from The Fab Faux (and Letterman’s old) group) and dozens of others. Nothing here beats the original but that was not the point. It’s clearly a labor of love from great players who tip the hat to one of their personal favorite albums while hopefully inspiring their own fans to go back and dig into that treasure. timeless with fresh ears.