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  Listen Up! 10/29/03 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Oct. 29

Al Green, ďI Canít Stop,Ē Blue Note Records. When I started this column, the idea was that I would write something about every record ever played in the office at Vintage Vinyl. Eventually, I came to my senses. There are just times when Iím too busy to pay attention to the music, or there are some records that simply donít generate a single thought in my head. The thing I miss about the original idea, though, is that I intended to wind up writing many times about the same records. We do play certain things several days in a row up here, you know. Well, today, Iím listening to the new Al Green album for the third time, and Iím unabashedly in love with it. I mean, really, how am I supposed to resist those rolling grooves, those punchy horns, the sensuous backing vocals, and the cries and moans and soaring falsetto testaments of Al Green himself? The title track will easily fit on an updated greatest hits collection someday, and Iím thinking a few other cuts here will grab me as much sooner or later. Thereís not a weak link in the bunch. Score one for the nostalgists among us.

Ryan Adams, ďLove Is Hell Pt. 1,Ē Lost Highway. This is Ryanís love letter to English rock music of the 80s. Echo and the Bunnymen, the Waterboys, Lloyd Cole, all sorts of things from the olden days get mixed in here. Not the songwriting quality, alas, just the vaguest outline of the sound. Not unlistenable, mind you, but why hear this when the real records are out there, and they have stronger melodies?

Various Artists, ďNo Thanks! The 70s Punk Rebellion Sampler,Ē Rhino Records. Darn near every song on the four-CD box set from whence we got the sampler to play in the store is seared into my mind and body with the most clarity and excitement of anything I ever experienced in my life. These were the records that changed me from a suburban geek kid with no direction at all into somebody who thought the world was full of possibility and delight. I played them a million times, and I love them as much as Iíve ever loved any music. Yeah, as Iíve grown older, I can hear the limitations of some of these musicians more than I could at the time, but the passion and the urgency and the sense of adventure and discovery get better and better all the time. How this stuff sounds to young people today, who live in a world where punk rock is just another choice, and one that has existed for 27 years at that, is beyond me. Kids, in my day, this music would get you ostracized like youíd never been hated before, and at the same time, it filled you with an understanding of how much better the world would be when we all spoke for ourselves. The only thing all the records on this box really have in common is that spirit of communicating exactly what everybody saw and felt and believed and thought, hang the technical limitations. It was pushing the limits, and discovering that you could be different from everybodyís expectations. It was and is goddam beautiful.

--Steve Pick

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