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Listen Up! 1/2/02
Wednesday, Jan. 2
George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass," Capitol Records. This is the first
time I've sat down and listened to this album since George passed away last
month. It sounds even better than I remember it, and I remember it fondly.
George had written and squirreled away so many great songs, and he never
sang with more passion than he did on this first post-Beatles recording.
Phil Spector's production is masterful, explosive when necessary, subtle
(yes, I said subtle and Phil Spector in the same breath) when the songs need
quiet. The rhythms are way more propulsive than I remember - try listening
to the drum track alone on "My Sweet Lord." Occasionally, the chords
provided by the horns and the keyboards sound fifteen years ahead of their
time in pop music. We've sold dozens of this album of late, way more than
anything else George ever did. I don't want to take anything away from the
great music he made with the Beatles or on later solo records, but he never
did anything more perfect than this record.
Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney, "Fancy Meeting You Here," Bluebird Records.
They've remastered this extraordinary example of old-school bon vivant pop
singing, recorded just three months before I popped out of my mother's womb
back in 1958. Crosby and Clooney make for a delightful pair, both
effortlessly swinging, both loving the lyrics and melodies of the conceptual
round-the-world trip they take for this record. The exoticisms built into
the arrangements may be a little dated, but they are never cloying or
overwhelming; the focus is on delivering these great songs, and the vocal
powers of these two great singers.
AC/DC, "Back in Black," Atco Records. Thud thud thud. Crackle, snap, bang!
Scream, repeat those riffs, chop those guitars and basses. And, believe it
or not, sprinkle in melody here and there. Rock'n'roll has rarely been more
essential, more primal, more unbelievably, generously, deliriously sexy.
Their best album ever, and one of the best records ever made.
Busta Rhymes, "The Best of Busta Rhymes," Rhino Records. Busta is that rare
thing in hip-hop, a veteran of some dozen years making records, with little
or no loss of quality along the way. So, as he switches labels (and gets way
more gangsta in the process), it's cool to have this nice little
retrospective of his classics. Now, I don't watch much music video on TV, so
I have to take the words of everybody else in the office. Apparently, Busta
is the best rap video artist around. They're all raving about each song's
video, while I'm just thinking, man, this song would be great to hear in a
strip club. Hey, it's like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Two, two, two great
uses in one.