Showing posts from August, 2004

New Release Tuesday (August 31, 2004)

I'm seriously looking forward to hearing the new Ray Charles and Blue Nile albums released today. The Blue Nile's High retains the classic Blue Nile sound and style. Given this band's past proclivity for pot, the title may help explain the long layoff periods between Blue Nile albums. I've only heard the lead track "The Days of Our Lives" which not only sounds great, but sounds like it could just as easily have been from any of their previous records. Ray Charles' duet album Genius Loves Company, could wind up being his biggest selling album ever, based on the two tracks I've heard so far, "Here We Go Again" with Norah Jones and "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word" with Elton John. Other singing partners include James Taylor, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, and Van Morrison. Being that the album was co-produced by Phil Ramone, it's kind of sur

k.d. lang - Hymns of the 49th Parallel (Nonesuch, 2004)

On first listen, this new k. d. lang album sounds great. It's all songs by Canadian singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell (2 tracks), Neil Young (2 tracks), and Leonard Cohen (2 tracks). Also represented are Ron Sexsmith, Bruce Cockburn, and Jane Siberry (2 tracks), along with one co-written by lang. The production by lang and Ben Mink is perfect, and the vocal performance is impeccable. I'd always sort of appreciated lang's work from a distance until Dave sent a copy of her Tony Bennett duet album, A Wonderful World, which is just fantastic from start to finish. She's amazingly talented in any music form she chooses, from country to jazz & pop standards to folk and singer songwriter classics. Thumbs up. Last Saturday (8/28/04) she appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition and did a nice interview with live performance segment. You can listen to it along with a bonus live track here:

Garden State (2004)

Never having seen Scrubs , Zach Braff was a total unknown to me, making all the more impressive his debut as a film actor, writer, and director; perhaps the Woody Allen or maybe more appropriately the Albert Brooks of the next generation. Garden State, categorized by AMG as an "offbeat romantic comedy" is a terrific first effort. Braff's acting is good, his character seems flawed but likeable, his direction is good, but what really makes this movie special is Braff's writing which is constantly fresh and funny. The only fault I can find with this picture is that the underlying plot device of having Braff's character Andrew Largeman be responsible at age 9 for an accident that left his mom a parapalegic is emotionally manipulative and somewhat derivative of a similar scenario used in 1980's Academy Award winning best picture, Ordinary People . Largeman spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood insulated from his emotions by an array of anti-depres

Rock & Soul Revue - PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ, 7/09/04

Here's my review and setlist as posted on the AWB website. Garden State Arts Center - Holmdel, NJ - Review Posted By: William Kates Date: Saturday, 10 July 2004, at 2:40 p.m. I can't believe I almost passed on the Rock 'N' Soul 2004 Revue tour, having seen AWB so many times and what with the ticket price and opening act placement I wasn't going to bother, but after reading all the accounts on this board, the prospect of Fred V playing with Michael McDonald's band and the show ending jam session gave me another thought, so yesterday I drove up to north Jersey and bought a ticket at the door and I am so glad I did. It was a perfect night, clear, warm but not hot or humid. The venue was beautiful too, very much like the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia and other roofed/open air facilities. The venue's only drawback was the lame food concession. The show was fantastic. AWB came on at 6:30pm on the dime and began their forty minute set with maybe t

Julia Fordham - That's Life Released, 8/10/04

That's Life , Julia Fordham's worthy followup to Concrete Love (2002) was released on Tuesday August 10th in the U.S. This is a great record and I'm looking forward to her September live shows in New York and Philadelphia. I'll post a complete review soon. News and samples are available here:

Rock & Soul Revue Slide Show

AWB posted a nice slide show of the Rock 'n' Soul Revue tour (first leg) which plays with a live version of "Work to Do" which Fred V. just kindly identfied in answer to my request, as being from the Face to Face live CD. This is the song that leads off the closing set where AWB, Hall & Oates and Michael McDonald all join together for the finale with all of their bands combined on stage. The short haired skinny sax man is the aforementioned Fred V. of AWB, the other sax player is Charles DeLint from Hall & Oates' band. Allan Gorrie of AWB is the guy seen singing in most of the shots (other than Hall & Oates or Michael McDonald). Klyde Jones of AWB is also seen singing, mostly sharing the mike with Michael McDonald's (female) drummer who sang backup during the finale. Onnie McIntyre (AWB's guitarist) shows up in a few pictures - he's the guitarist wearing a baseball cap. Use the high-res version if you have cable or dsl connection. H

The Dead - Tweeter Center, Camden, NJ, 8/08/04

I'm firmly convinced that Warren Haynes has replaced James Brown as "the hardest working man in show business." Not like he wasn't already active enough as a member of the Allman Brothers Band while still maintaining an active career with his own band, Gov't Mule. This year he's released a solo acoustic CD recorded live at Bonnaroo, plus he's become a member of the Dead for this year's summer tour. He's even doing solo acoustic concerts on his days off from the Dead tour which rolled through Philadelphia (at the Camden waterfront) this weekend Saturday and Sunday, with Haynes doing a solo concert Monday at the Zellerbach Theater. The progression of my interest that led finally to the Tweeter began with the Allmans' other guitarist Derek Trucks, whose excellent solo records came to my attention in 2003 (thanks, Dave) which caused me to check out that year's first new Allman's album in many years, Hittin' the Note which featured t

Falcon Ridge 2004 - Day Four

Day Four (Sunday July 25th) - Sunday dawned beautiful at Long Hill Farm. After awakening exactly at 6am, I hoofed it down to the Mainstage with my tarp extra early for the last day, arriving at 6:30, just in time to hear the festival person in charge say something on the order of "go for it" and in mere moments, the last tarp run for 2004 was done. Delighted to have a found half hour, I enjoyed another shower, this time with no line and no wait at all. Back at the campsite, we lingered over more campstove Wawa coffee and fresh cooked oatmeal before striking camp. The process of packing up went on past the 10am start of the first set at the Workshop Stage, which was called "Fiddler A Dram," however I very much appreciated the private fiddle & whistle concert live from the next tent site that went on for just about the entire time that it took to take down the tent and load the car. By the time the packing was finished, the sunscreen applied, and the car moved do

I, Robot (2004)

In what may be a classic case of the benefit of going into a movie with lowered (or no) expectations and then being pleasantly surprised, I am happy to say that I was thoroughly entertained by I, Robot , more so than at most of the science fiction/action/adventure blockbusters released in the last several years. Will Smith excels in the skeptical cop role, even in spite of his apparent need to show off his huge muscles at any given opportunity. Smith's character quickly establishes his anti-robot bias and then is given the task of investigating the apparent suicide (or was it murder by robot) of James Cromwell's scientist who not only was the father of robotic science, but personally created the more advanced line of robots who go haywire as the film unspools. The plot which is "inspired by" Isaac Asimov's classic collection of short stories is well conceived and provides just enough philosophical man vs. machine mumbo jumbo to make the movie interesting to those

Falcon Ridge 2004 - Day Three

Day Three (Saturday July 24th) - Saturday was the weather redeemer for Friday as the sun burned off the mist, the sky cleared and graced us with a gorgeous Berkshires summer day. I got down to the Mainstage even earlier than Friday and yet the perimeter of the seating area was again largely surrounded by folks brandishing tarps. The festival authority person lorded the power humorously announcing the time as "six fifty-six," then "six fifty-seven," then "six fifty-eight," then "six fifty-eight and a half" which was a real groaner. After placing the tarp in basically the same spot as Friday, I availed myself of a shower. The line was short and quick and the shower facility was drastically improved over what we had in 1999. Feeling like a person again back at the campsite we fired up the borrowed camp stove for fresh brewed Wawa coffee and cooked oatmeal with maple syrup; nothing like roughing it. We pretty much stuck to the Mainstage Saturday, wi

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

It's gratifying to know that the spy movie is alive and well with the Bourne series, and I basically like Matt Damon in this role, however The Bourne Supremacy has two basic problems - the screenwriting and the direction. I'd have preferred more psychological drama and less chase; considering that the first hour is almost all chase with almost no plot development, if you haven't recently viewed The Bourne Identity to refresh on the premise, you'll be at a loss to understand what is going on and why. I could almost overlook the weak writing if not for Paul Greengrass' directing style. This movie is filmed almost entirely with handheld cameras, super closeups, and relentless quick cuts. The result is literally painful to watch; my eyes began to hurt within the first fifteen minutes. I wanted to move the camera back a few feet in just about every scene. Franka Potente does a nice turn as the girlfriend, but she bites it during the first reel. Let's hope they enli

Falcon Ridge 2004 - Day Two

Day Two (Friday July 23rd) - An integral part of the Falcon Ridge experience is the laying of the tarp at 7am. Mainstage rules went into effect on Friday, and by the time I arrived at the stage at about 6:45am, early risers had already lined the perimeters on all sides of the seating area, waiting for the okay signal at 7:00 to stake (and I do mean stake as many secure their tarps with tent stakes) out seating locations for that day's concert. Cool Morning - The day's music began at 10am on the Workshop Stage with "Cool Morning" which not coincidentally happens to be the title of Sloan Wainwright's current CD. Wainwright was joined in the morning song swap by Lowen and Navarro, Ellis Paul and Nerissa & Katryna Nields. Each artist gave a nice sampling of their music with Lowen and Navarro seeming to be (unintentionally) bent on breaking all of the rules that Vance Gilbert taught the aspiring singer-songwriters yesterday. Gather the Family - Another nice

Keane - Hopes and Fears (Interscope, 2004)

Poking around the Virgin Megastore in Chicago last night, I ran across a sale price of $7.99 on this CD accompanied by a money-back satisfaction guarantee. This combination of offers combined with a quick scan on the listening station proved irresistable and I am happy to report that Virgin need not worry about a return. This is melodic pop music, thick and lush at times, sort of like Tears for Fears crossed with the Alan Parsons Project (the softer melodies like "Time"). The sound is keyboard based with bass, drums, and very strong vocals that don't hesitate to soar into falsetto, bringing to mind Brian Wilson; not that it sounds like the Beach Boys, it doesn't. There are likely many more reference points in British pop/rock of the 80's and 90's (Danny Wilson), but this is original and ear-friendly stuff. The quality seems consistent from first track to last. Based on first listen this sounds like a winner.