A guy knows what he’s going to get when he buys a Bob Seger record: rock and roll played on a straight four beat. Add in a dash of new country guitar pickin’ and you have a Bob Seger album for the new millennium. It used to be such an album was something to look forward to with eager anticipation, as I fondly recall doing for Like a Rock in the mid-80’s. But Seger’s songwriting has diminished over the years, his ability to find a new, unique, interesting way to play an E-chord exhausted, and what’s left is a collection of familiar sounding songs.
There’s nothing wrong with Ride Out, Seger’s latest album, released this week. If you liked his last number of albums, you’ll like this one well enough. The collection of decent songs, in fact, improve on multiple listens, and the early released songs, Detroit Made, Hey Gypsy and The Devil’s Right Hand after a few weeks of listening are my favorites on the album. The same can’t be said, however, of You Take Me In, the early release balled which was boring on first listen, and boring now that’s it’s heard in the context of a full album.
Seger has a go at politics with It’s Your World, a song in which he decries the state of the world without offering solutions (it is a bit rich, the multi-millionaire singer complaining about cash is king), and if the depth of Your World amounts to the depth of Seger’s politics, it’s a good thing there’s 50-years between here to The Ballad of the Yellow Beret. His attempt at Americana, Adam and Eve, also fails pretty miserably.
Hey Gypsy, on the other hand, Seger’s tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, is an album highlight. You’ve never heard a Texas shuffle played so squarely, so tightly on the beat, as this, but it works magnificently and will likely be a strong addition to Seger’s live set in his upcoming tour. The acoustic song, Listen, one of the bonus songs on the Deluxe Edition of Ride Out, is another highlight of the album.
There’s a number of good enough songs on Ride Out, but let’s also be clear, there’s no Hollywood Nights or Rock and Roll Never Forgets, no ballads as good as Mainstreet, no acoustic numbers of the calibre of Night Moves or Against the Wind. If your looking for Seger to find that magic touch he had from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s you’ll be disappointed. But if your looking for Seger to meet or exceed what he has done the last couple of albums, he has.
The Devils Right Hand
Adam and Eve
It’s Your World
All of the Roads
You Take Me In
Gates of Eden
Listen (Deluxe Edition only)*
The Fireman’s Talkin’ (Deluxe Edition only)*
Let the Rivers Run (Deluxe Edition only)*
*(Note: There is a Target only CD version with 2 extra songs)
Abba were my parents 70’s rock band. It has taken me years to appreciate what they are, the songwriting, the musicality, the entertainment value. So I was looking forward to Live At Wembley Arena, the chronicle of Abba’s Nov 10, 1979 Abba concert, the last of a six night residency at London’s famous Wembley Arena. While it’s a good album, everything that is/was wrong with Abba is in high evidence. The disco beat to too many songs, the horrible stage patter, the bad schtick between the performers onstage. You can almost hear the bell bottoms and sequins at times.
The above aside, however, it is an album loaded with hits and, not always the same thing, good songs. Abba, if nothing else, crafted high quality songs wrapped up in a catchy pop beat. whether it’s mature relationship songs like Knowing Me, Knowing You or The Name of the Game or pop wrapped up in historical allegory like Waterloo, Abba had a number of good songs.
Live At Wembley Arena’s is an excellent album, if you can overlook the sound of the clothes.
If it Wasn’t For the Nights
As Good as New
Knowing Me, Knowing You
Money, Money, Money
I Have a Dream
Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)
The Name of the Game
Thank You For the Music
Why Did it Have to be Me
Intermezzo No. 1
I’m Still Alive
Summer Night City
Take a Chance on Me
Does Your Mother Know
Hole in Your Soul
The Way Old Friends Do
I received the Super Deluxe Edition of Tears for Fears Songs From The Big Chair this week, and listening reminded me that these guys were pretty good.
A favourite story comes from Curt Smith, who s of the Tears for Fears videos, they are “an endless source of amusement for my children: ‘Oh my god, you’ve got braids in your hair!’”
Here’s one without the braids, Everybody Wants to Rule the World - I completely forgot about, and love, the gas pump dancers:
Meanwhile guys, there’s a new Bond girl in town… meet Lea Seydoux
All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities
Big weekend last if you are Venice. Not the inhabitants of that once proud Principality, but Venice itself: the Palazzo’s, the Grand Canal, the little wooden boats not seen since Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The Clooneys and his wife, formerly Amal Alamuddin, tied the knot at the Aman Hotel on the Grand Canal.
Clooney was very pretty in black tux, while Alamuddin was tall and ruggedly handsome in red. The guest list was full on A-list, assuming you consider Anna Wintour and Cindy Crawford A-list, two people every media outlet I saw couldn’t help but splash across their pages.
And while George and Alamuddin went for the big show style wedding the real star of the show was the gorgeous city of Venice, which is currently holding for George Clooney’s agent, who is none to pleased with it.
More trouble for former very cute teen star Amanda Bynes. Now a 28-year old for teen star, trouble has managed to find her. Saturday night, at somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3AM, Bynes was stopped by the CHiPs guys (no not Erik Estrada, the real ones) and arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled subsistence. She was then booked and remained in custody until noon Sunday, when she was released on $15,000 bond.
Question: Where was Frankie Muntz to keep Bynes out of trouble, I always that was his job.
Cat Stevens, aka Yusaf Islam, is tired of self imposed obscurity, has booked a concert tour of six cities. The man who once agreed that a Fatwa against Salmon Rushdie for daring to write The Satanic Verses was proper and correct. Now he has the gall to call his little tour the Peace Train Tour, so you can be sure there be lots of hectoring the don’t agree with cold blooded murder types in the audience on their evilness.
Anyway, he has cancelled his New York show because the tickets are paper tickets, not pdf files that people print themselves or something. Remarkably, this doesn’t seem to be an environmental complaint, but something about scalpers being able to resell paper tickets, but not printed PDF tickets, or something.
Look, bottom line here: if you go see this fuck-wad who dislikes free speech and thinks murdering authors whose works disagree with his world view is OK, shame on you.
Sad news out of the AC/DC camp. With a new album ready to come down the pipe, and tour plans being made, the band has announced that rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young is suffering from Dementia. Reports are that the 62-year old Young, brother of lead guitarist/perennial school boy Angus, is already in long term care.
Oh dear! Charlie Sheen is back in the news, and it ain’t good.
Sheen is being investigated by LAPD for battery against a dental technician and assault with a deadly weapon against his dentist. The story is Sheen went to the dentist for an abscess while high on crack. When the technician put the gas mask on him, he freaked, flailing his arms and hitting the technician. When the dentist finally came in, Sheen allegedly pulled a knife on him.
Nobody was hurt, but it’s reported the LAPD plans to send the case on to the D.A. to decide if charges will be laid.
I’ve never quite got why Styx has been a much maligned act through the years. Oh sure they can be a little slick, almost perfect sounding, but really, that’s worse than Neil Young’s guitar being out of tune? According to a number of critics, yes. For some strange reason, Styx always got the too smooth, too good label. Much of the blame must fall of Dennis DeYoung, who has one of those voices that never misses a note and sounds effortless.
With his new album/DVD Dennis Dennis DeYoung And The Music Of Styx Live In Los Angeles (2CD/DVD), DeYoung runs his seven piece band through 17 Styx songs badly in need of re-examination. DeYoung’s voice is, at 67-years old, still almost flawless, still rings out like a bell. Evidence suggests there has been no age related deterioration of DeYoung’s talents.
The songs stand up very well, and the quality of songwriting stands out throughout the CD. It was fun to rediscover songs like Crystal Ball and Suite Madame Blue which are excellent, as is much of the music. Hearing Mr. Roboto after all these years, on the other hand, feels like watching Billy Squire playing Rock Me Tonight, full dance included.
But Mr. Roboto is the exception, and a re-hear of Lady, Too Much Time on My Hands, Rockin’ the Paradise, Foolin’ Yourself and Come Sail Away is well worth the listen. Blue Collar Man particularly stands out.
The CD of Dennis DeYoung And The Music Of Styx Live In Los Angeles (2CD/DVD) really is a good solid collection, and worth the listen.
Due in stores October 17th in Europe and October 21st in North America, and is available on 2CD/DVD, Blu-Ray and digital. As well, the television special, An Evening With Dennis DeYoung And The Music Of STYX concert special airs on AXS-TV, on October 21st, 2014.
- The Message (intro)
- The Grand Illusion
- Blue Collar Man
- Show Me The Way
- Mr. Roboto
- Crystal Ball
- Don’t Let It End
- Too Much Time On My Hands
- Rockin’ The Paradise
- Desert Moon
- Foolin’ Yourself
- Suite Madame Blue
- The Best Of Times
- Come Sail Away.
- The Grand Illusion
- Blue Collar Man
- Show Me The Way
- Mr. Roboto
- Crystal Ball
- Don’t Let It End
- Too Much Time On My Hands
- Desert Moon
- Babe; Foolin’ Yourself
- Suite Madame Blue
- The Best Of Times
- Come Sail Away.
Jimmy Page’s pictorial autobiography, Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, gets it’s regular edition release on October 14th, so the pre-release press has begun.
Today we get two articles, one in Variety magazine where Steve Chagollan has a review of the book, and another at The Guardian, which offers a glimpse at a dozen of the 600 photos in the book.
At Variety, Chagollan says of the book:
Anybody interested in what girl Page was seeing or what bad habits he was falling into won’t find them here — for good or bad. But within the sparse entries are true nuggets, such as the fact that the first Led Zeppelin album took all of 30 hours to record “with vision, improvisation, attitude and a bulletproof blueprint.” Page also writes about recording the group’s nameless fourth album at an English country manor in Headley, Hampshire, “to lock in and condense the creative energy.”
Page’s book is, to be sure, different than most autobiographies. Originally released as a collector book on high quality photographic paper and in extremely limited release, it sold for $500-800 (£395- £695). It is strictly pictorial, with text amounting to not much more than a snippet to describe the picture.
The Guardian gallery will give you a taste of what Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page is going to be like, only with 50x more pictures.
Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page can be preordered now, and s in stores October 14th, at a price point much more in line with what the average fan would be willing to pay.
Many biography’s die in the early chapters. Struggling to bring life to somebody who would become something, but was really still just some schlub, has defeated many biographers. Fred Schruers’ Billy Joel seems to suffer from this in reverse. The first chapter is a must read, and one of the most compelling chapters of any biography I’ve ever read. The last third to quarter of the book however, dwells endlessly on Joel’s career and life since he recorded his last album, 1993’s River of Dreams, over 20-years ago.
Opening with Joel’s family history, his Jewish industrialist grandparents leaving Nazi Germany by stealth, and arriving in Long Island via Switzerland and Cuba, the first chapter of Billy Joel is an excellent and fascinating piece of history. Billy’s early years is covered quickly enough and interestingly enough, something that’s not always true, or even often true, in a biography. The minutiae of childhood has bogged down many a biography, that’s simply not a problem here.
Joel’s career years cover the majority of the book, from his early band to River of Dreams, and all the important details seem to be accurate and intact: his first, disastrous album, his move to LA, Piano Man, his rise to prominence and most productive commercial years, his divorce from his first wife (and manager) Elizabeth and discovering his next manager, her brother, had ripped him off leaving him virtually broke.
It’s the later, post River of Dreams years that Billy Joel bogs down. A story that moved along fairly nicely suddenly overwhelms with details. Thus we get far more than we need about his courtship of Christie Brinkley (and not enough on their split), as well as his romance with third wife Katie Lee, minute details of a concert here, a concert there, and far too much from Joel’s day to day activities, that felt at times like bad name dropping (biking with Bruce Springsteen as one example).
Fred Schruers Billy Joel is a good, easy read, and enjoyable look at one of those rather ordinary people who made the absolute most of what they had, often at the expense of his personal life. And edit and a trim of the last quarter of the book and it could be an excellent one.
Billy Joel is available Oct. 28 at all your usual book buying outlets.
All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities
More naked celebrity photo’s hacked from someones cloud account have been relleased, and by celebrity I mean Kim Kardashian. Actually, that’s not fair. Vanessa Hudgens and Hope Solo also had shots leaked, and I’ve heard of and know Vanessa Hudgens work, and Hope Solo is an Olympic Gold Medalist. Yet all the headlines says “Kim Kardashian, and others” or some such. It must be galling to these women who’ve actually accomplished something to be second fiddle to fat assed, ugly, done nothing meaningful in life, Kim Kardashian.
Oh, they’re probably not happy about their nude pictures hitting the internet either. Bummer weekend all ’round, I would say.
TMZ has been talking to male celebrities, and many are apparently “scared” that they’re next for the hacked nudie pics treatment.
Here at Fluffernutter World Headquarters the weekend was spent in secret meetings working on a contingency plan lest our own pictures become leaked. After a particularly long Saturday night meeting/sleep that ran well into Sunday morning, it was remembered I’ve never actually taken nude pictures of myself, never had anyone else take such pictures and certainly never saved any such thing to an online account.
Maybe TMZ could do a story about which male celebrities are “scared” so we’ll know who was vein enough to take pictures of themselves and dumb enough to save them online. At the Fluffernutter World Headquarters betting pool, this writer is down for “all of them.”
Sorry ladies, he’s taken… this weekend Venice is expecting to see the marriage of the last half-year or so as confirmed bachelor George Clooney will wed lawyer Amal Alamuddin.
Details are being kept rather secret, but Clooney is expected to wed Alamuddin either Saturday or Monday (so bet on Sunday or Friday)at the Palazzo Cavalli, a 16th century Venetian palace on the Grand Canal. Police will close off weekends around the Palazzo to prevent crowds forming, because apparently Venetians are now like North Americans and have nothing whatsoever to do with their life.
Congratulations to the happy couple, and sorry to the ladies who had hopes…
This morning I woke up to a third downloadable song from the new Bob Seger album, Ride Out. Those who pre-ordered on iTunes got Detroit Made and You Take Me In when they pre-ordered, and this morning got the Steve Earle song The Devils Right Hand. Frankly, I’ll take the Steve Earle version over the Seger by a wide margin (which is convenient as it’s on Copperhead Road, an album everyone and anyone should own).
With the three songs released, it is fair to start making some judgements on Ride Out, and the only one I can come to is it’s another OK Bob Seger album.
Bearing in mind that pre-releases tend to be the best songs, or at least the most commercial, Detroit Made, You Take Me In and The Devils Right Hand have to be seen as a disappointment. The first and last are both good enough rockers, but they’re both covers: has Seger even penned a really good rock song since Lock and Load 20-years ago? You Take Me In, on the other hand, is a ho-hum ballad, no better or worse than Wait For Me which he released as a single 8-years ago. Neither song stands out, neither song is really much of anything, either good or bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bough the album, as I have every Seger album, I’m a fan, a pretty big one. But Seger hasn’t released a truly noteworthy album since Like a Rock, maybe The Fire Inside if your being generous. He has fallen into a sound, a very specific sound since the early 90’s. There is no reason to expect Ride Out to be any different, but disappointedly anyway, it appears it isn’t.
Lots of artists these days, 30+ years into their career as rock star, are putting out albums that sound like mediocre versions of their last good album - or worse, mediocre versions of the album after their last good album. John Mellencamp, nee Cougar, isn’t one of them.
Mellencamp is, and always has been, a storyteller. His new album, Plain Spoken, released on Tuesday at the usual outlets, is proof of this. The ten songs set is a collection of vignettes told in the classic John Mellencamp style. However, while Mellencamp can hardly help but sound like himself after 22 albums, Plain Spoken does not sound like a rehash of previous efforts.
There’s no A-1 songs on Plain Spoken, no Jack and Dianne or Cherry Bomb, no Key West Intermezzo, not even a Walk Tall. But there’s also no dogs here. It’s an album of those second tier songs that dominate Mellencamp’s albums, good songs, maybe a few that could crack the old top 30 charts, but no big hits, no song to make you stop dead in your tracks. Just good solid songs, written by a master storyteller. Nothing at all wrong with that.
- Troubled Man
- Sometimes There’s God
- The Isolation of Mister
- The Company of Cowards
- Tears in Vain
- The Brass Ring
- Freedom of Speech
- Blue Charlotte
- The Courtesy of Kings
- Lawless Times
When Black Country Communion split the different factions went different directions. While Joe Bonamassa returned to “full time solo artist”, Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham joined forces with guitarist Andrew Watt and created California Breed. The betting at the time was California Breed would be an exciting new band, and Bonamassa would continue to make serviceable, yet sort of boring albums. The betting was wrong. California Breed’s debut album was a dreary 45 minutes of Glenn Hughes screamers, uninteresting and uninspired volume-rock.
Bonamassa, on the other hand, has returned with a fantastic blues album called Different Shades of Blue. The album features Bonamassa playing in various different blues formats and playing guitar better than he ever has. As a player he is, in fact, on fire throughout the album. Vocally, Bonamassa sounds like he learned a few lessons in his time beside Glenn Hughes, and he has a more versatile singing range than he has shown previously.
My hopes were not high for Different Shades of Blue in large part because his last album, Driving Towards the Daylight was so disappointing. Full of mediocre songs that lacked life, my personal expectations were not good that he could re-reach the form of The Ballad of John Henry a few albums back. But things changed when he released the single for the title track a month back. It is a pure guitarists blues song. And Bonamassa is brilliant on it, having a “Since I’ve Been Loving You” performance (guitarists can offer no higher praise). I keep re-listening to it, and I have been trying to figure out, when was the last time an established artist had a song this good? and I can’t come up with the answer. Possibly Springsteen somewhere on The Rising album. Maybe I have to go back as far as 1992 and Delbert McCLinton’s Everytime I Roll The Dice.
But the album doesn’t start and end with Different Shades of Blue. It is the best song, bar none, on an album full of great performances of great songs. Oh Beautiful!, Love Ain’t a Love Song, Heartache Follows Wherever I Go,So, What Would I Do are all excellent. And while some songs do suffer from Bonamassa’s tendency towards feeling soulless, those are few and by no means lousy songs. There is, in fact, not a bad song on the album, and more than a few great ones.
Different Shades of Blue will be released today and can be bought at your usual online sources, but really, run to the store and get it now. It’s simply too good to wait.
Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)
Love Ain’t a Love Song
Living on the Moon
Heartache Follows Wherever I Go
Never Give All Your Heart
I Gave Up Everything For You
Different Shades of Blue
Get Back my Tomorrow
So, What Would I Do
Saturday Fluffernutter: The If This Blog is So Good, How Come He Writes it in His Underwear? Edition
All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities
Yaa, to Mayam Bialik, Seldon’s Big Bang girlfriend Amy. This week she took to her lifestyle blog to comment on a Billboard for Ariana Grande’s upcoming album, My Everything.
Noticing the Biillboard, which features Grande wearing very little, plus stilettos (nothing but her Keds, as the old song goes). Bialik asked first, what is she actually selling? then continued:
Why is she in her underwear on this billboard though? And if she has talent (is she a singer), then why does she have to sell herself in lingerie?
There’s more but… she’s profoundly right. If Ariana Grande had any kind of chops, she wouldn’t need to sell herself to sell her music. But the truth is, how you look in lingerie is far more important to the music industry than how you sing. We live in a world were Janis Joplin couldn’t get heard and Linda Ronstadt would be told to lose some weight and dress far less modestly. We, and the music, suffer for it.
As for Bialik, she makes her living in a Hollywood were the only unacceptable sin is the sin of prudishness. Sitting in judgement sits poorly by the people she surrounds herself with, and comments such as she has made could be career killers. Good on her.
Kanye West is an idiot, full stop.
During a concert in Australia last week, West demanded - DEMANDED - that the crowd, every last person, stand up, or he couldn’t continue. He singled out a guy in a wheelchair, before realizing he wasn’t Joe Biden, and it’s not cool to demand wheelchair bound people stand.
The usual suspects, of course are outraged.
So am I, but for completely different reasons. Who the hell does this overpaid, under-talented dickwad think he is demanding anything of the paying customers?
“I can’t do this show until everybody stand up[sic],” he told the crowd (note, none of the press reports I saw indicated the grammatical error.) Oh, yea? Is that in your contract: no show unless everybody stands? If not, then shut up and sing.
Look, it’s one thing to encourage the audience to stand, but to actually single out a paying customer and demand he do so, or else I don’t sing, that’s beyond absurd.
Those people paid good money, money, unlike West, they worked hard for, money, unlike West, they don’t have an unlimited store of. West, on the other hand, was being paid a lot of that money to entertain the folk. If the folk decides he should sing show tunes while balancing teacups on his nose, then West should make like Flipper, not the other way around.
The laziest trick in entertainment journalism is combining celebrity couple names to save typing a few letters and the word “and.” Typing Bennifer instead of Ben and Jennifer is about as lazy as you can get. Worse yet is the talking heads, who throw out Brangelina without so much as a knowing blush that they sound like idiots. Heaven forbid you speak all those letters.
The worst however, the absolute positive proof that the dumbest, most unoriginal, most uncreative people on the planet all go into entertainment journalism is “Chavril.” When Chad Kroeger and Avril Lavigne surprisingly married fourteen months ago, columnists and Ben Mulroney’s alike were quick to show just how dumb, how uninteresting they really were, and quickly dubbed the couple Chavril. No more!
It appears the couple is heading for divorce. After a year-and-a-half marriage and one creepy Japanese video that bordered on kiddy porn (which is the natural outcome when you combine kiddy punk and pop metal). Kroeger has reportedly been parading around L.A. telling people “it’s over.”
Not to overly amuse in other peoples misery, but thank God to see the end of the linguistic horror Chavril.
“Hey Martha,” you imagine Willard from Iowa saying on the first of two days of the holiday of a lifetime to the big city, “lets go see that there Times Square first.” Heading out of their fancy hotel (with a coffee maker in the bedroom, for gosh sakes), over to Broadway and south towards 42nd street. “Look at all the lights,” Willard says walking south on Broadway. “Look there, that’s where that David Letterman fellow does his show.” Approaching Times Square Willard and Martha are surprised to discover it’s closed. “Closed?” says Willard. “How do you close an intersection?”
Answer: you be a narcissist TV star, and you pay to have it shut down. If Willard and Martha’s two days in the city get disrupted, well sucks to be them.
Ryan Serhant, narcissist and host of Million Dollar Listings did just that, shutting down Times Square to propose to his girlfriend. Being oh, so important, and a bended knee over dinner not obvious enough, Serhant enlisted the help of the Mayor’s office (because that’s the Mayor’s job!?!?) and the NYPD to propose to his fiancé, nee girlfriend Emilia Bechrakis.
Professional camera crew being in tow (the scene will appear on his TV show), pictures quickly made it to various media outlets. So nice for Narcissus and Emilia, but what of Willard and Martha? Oh well, they’ll get to Times Square on their next trip to New York… in the next life.
I’m not a big Jack White fan. Nothing against him per se, just find I don’t like his voice and his production style. That said, he’s something that used to be common, but has become very rare nowadays, he’s a musician who’s in it for the music. He’s one of those guys who thinks being able to make great music is why he’s in the making music business, money is a side benefit.
This week he had an onstage rant against some of his peers. Noting that lots of acts lip synch nowadays, he turned his guns on fellow rockers The Foo Fighters who, while not accused of lip synching, do carry as third guitarist onstage to, according to White, cover up mistakes.
He then set his sights on Rolling Stone magazine, “mocking them for running articles such ‘15 outfits that will blow your mind that Taylor Swift wore this month…’” Interesting, I suppose, that he didn’t note teh Rolling Stone has also become the official tabloid of the Democratic Party, but you can’t have everything in one rant.
Good on Jack White. The music business has become a joke, Rolling Stone leading the demise, and lip synching epidemic (Beyonce being the latest to be caught out in Paris this week), and should be a career ender . But he’s also dead right on bands padding the lineup, thereby saving the performers your paying to see from actually having to create music while performing is just as dishonest.
It reminds one of the old Brittany Spears line, when asked by a young fan what was the hardest part of her job, she answered “singing and dancing at the same time.” So she eschewed the singing bit, farming out the job to an MP3 file, and upped her ticket price so you could watch her dance. It’s what they all do, when there not sitting around wondering why their business is dying.
One likes to believe in the freedom of music.Rush - Spirit of Radio.
So did you get screwed over last week? Turn on your iPhone, iPod, iPad and discover somebody put free music there? Granted, it had the little cloud symbol beside it, requiring an actual download (or, you turned on automatic download and therefore, got what you asked for), but really, who wants a free U2 album, brand new to boot? Who would accept it as a gift when it could otherwise be bought for just $9.99?
When U2 released their new album as a free giveaway to all iTunes users last week, the level of complaint was astounding. People who didn’t want it complained that it was automatically put in their account, even though a)you still had to actively download it and b)if you didn’t download it by Saturday, it disappeared off your account. This week will sure to be filled with complaints iTunes took away their U2. Except they didn’t: they made it available, then they made it unavailable.
The complaints didn’t just stem from the manner of the giveaway, but a fair complaint against U2 could also be heard. Haven’t had a good album since the 80’s/90’s/ever, complained some. Giving away their music is proof they are a has-been band/corporate band/no good. All, more or less false.
I’m not a U2 fan, haven’t bought an album by them since The Joshua Tree and have never seen them in concert. Not my band, although I don’t automatically switch off the radio just because it’s U2. I really can take them or leave them, and am not sure I’ve even heard anything off their previous couple of albums, although I suppose I must have. But what the hell, Songs of Innocence was being given away, why not give it a listen.
If you didn’t download it because it pissed you off that they gave it to you, or you think U2 is a has been band, then you should know you missed out on something good. This “not a U2 fan” has listened to it a number of times, and like Songs of Innocence very much.
It opens with The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone) a complete rocker that U2 doesn’t do enough of, and doesn’t get credit for doing then they do. Credit or no, The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone) is an excellent song, maybe their best since 2000’s Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of or even 1998’s Sweetest Thing.
But Songs of Innocence is not a song song album, and there’s a lot more good stuff than just The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone). California (There is No End To Love), Iris (Hold Me Close), Raised By Wolves and The Troubles are all excellent, while This is Where You Can Reach Me Now intros like a great, unheard 70’s era Stones song.
Oh sure, a band that has been recording and touring together for 35-years with the same four guys, without a single lineup change, are going to have “a sound.” Bono will always sing like Bono, and The Edge has a definitive guitar style. So yes, Volcano or Sleep Like a Baby Tonight may suffer from being U2-ish, and a Cederwood Road is probably about Aids in Africa or Ghandi or some other important topic that can’t be discerned by merely listening to the lyrics, and yes, Bono still hasn’t found a rhyme for Nicaragua. All excellent reasons, I suppose, to not listen to a free album. But if you let your distaste for the way it was distributed stop you from getting Songs of Innocence, then you let yourself miss a great album.