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  Listen Up! 12/31/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Dec. 31

Mick Taylor, “A Stone’s Throw,” Cannonball Records. As a singer, he’s a great guitarist. As a songwriter, he’s a great guitarist who doesn’t want to show off. As a solo artist, he’s a great side-man. As an interpreter of a great song like Bob Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell,” he’s unaware of the mystical power inherent in the song. As a record, this is mildly diverting, instantly forgettable.

Bruce Cockburn, “The Trouble With Normal,” Rounder Records. I’ll let you in on the secret. The trouble with normal, according to Cockburn, is it always get’s worse. True enough, especially when you figure that Cockburn has spent so much of his career decrying the shitty way the haves treat the have-nots. I think we’d all like to switch back to the way things were 20 years ago in that regard. Anyway, we’re talking about the music here, and, sad to say, this album doesn’t exactly hold up well. As with many of Cockburn’s four thousand or so records, there are some pretty melodies here, and some dull ones. The production, which included all sorts of interesting for the time little tricks, kind of limits the music from reaching its potential. Of course, Cockburn has always struck me as having more potential than he lets out; he teases me now and again, but he rarely makes me care for very long.

--Steve Pick



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