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  Listen Up! 4/1/03 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Apr. 1

Rosco Gordon, “Memphis Tennessee,” Stony Plain Records. This came out three years ago, a swingin’, jumpin’, explosive old-time r’n’b album. Gordon’s prime was in the early 50s. In 2000, he sounded every bit as forceful, and a whole lot more experienced and worldly, as he ever did. With producer Duke Robillard delivering the classic sound he needs, Gordon made a terrific return to form.

Albert Ayler, “Music is the Healing Force of the Universe,” Impulse! Records. The old-school avant-vocalist is a bit hard to take, though she does intone the magical title line that sets up Ayler’s purpose. Ayler squonks his way through some blues and some completely far-out jazz. As overtones fly, you realize that he’s sending out a message of love for everything in existence, which makes this record sound pretty cool even after 35 or more years.

The White Stripes, “Elephant,” V2 Records. These guys get worse the more you listen to them. They cannot play their instruments well at all, they don’t make up for that with any kind of imagination. The Burt Bacharach cover is atrocious. The blues stuff is sloppy and meaningless. The rock elements are pro forma nods at old school punk. I really can’t think of a single good thing to say about this entire album.

--Steve Pick

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