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  Listen Up! 2/18/03 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Kate & Anna McGarrigle, “Dancer With Bruised Knees,” Hannibal Records. The second McGarrigles album remains the crown jewel in a stunning career. Back in 1977, when this came out, it was theoretically possible for a pair of gentle-voiced singer songwriting sisters to storm the pop charts. Linda Ronstadt covered one of their songs, if I recall correctly (it’s on the first album, which isn’t in front of me, so I’m forgetting the name because I’m a dunce sometimes). So, they went about shaping a perfect album, a collection of melodies so exquisitely beautiful and carefully crafted you’d think they simply fell from the stars. These songs are funny, mournful, wise, searching, and full to the brim with everyday experience. I could play this album a million times and never get to the bottom of its treasures.

Jackie McLean, “Jackknife,” Blue Note Records. It’s 1965, and McLean leads a crack team in the studio on five nifty little compositions. The most impressive is trumpeter Charles Tolliver’s “On the Nile,” which is reminiscent of what Coltrane was doing in the early 60s, very portentious and very powerful. All the playing on this record is great, particularly the very young Jack DeJohnette on drums.

Iggy Pop, “Nude & Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop,” Virgin Records. How ridiculous to think you could actually do a “Best of” for Iggy without making a big box set containing the first two Stooges albums, much of “Raw Power,” “The Idiot,” and “Lust For Life,” as well as a lot of other great songs not included here. Not that this is an unlistenable album, it just doesn’t serve as a coherent introduction to the man. He embodies too much, he changes direction too often, and when he gets raw and dangerous, you don’t want to suddenly hear him morph into the crooning father figure he became in the late 80s.

--Steve Pick

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