Showing posts from November, 2004

Top Ten of 2004

It still seems a bit early to be finalizing such a list, but this is xpn's world and we just live in it, so here goes: Julia Fordham – That’s Life (Vanguard) It’s rare when an album achieves the quality of Concrete Love (2002) , with songwriting, performance and production excellence. It’s rarer still when the next album is essentially a continuation of the same session with another batch of superb songs, perfectly executed, a true gift. Nellie McKay – Get Away From Me (Columbia) After almost overlooking this record when I first received an advance copy in late 2003 (the first listen didn’t register), it ultimately took control of my car player like no other release in recent memory. A witty, wise, wordy, and tuneful debut; that she was just seventeen (you know what I mean) when this was written and recorded makes it all the more remarkable. k.d. lang – Hymns of the 49th Parallel (Nonesuch) Lang’s enormous talent is put to best use in this tribute to Canadian songwriters. Ever

24 Hours in NYC w/Dave, Holly & Soraya

Holly Palmer and Emm Gryner brought their mini tour of the Northeast to New York City on Saturday night at the Fez, and after warmup shows at The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA on Thursday and at The Call in Providence, R.I. on Friday where Holly played opening act to audiences who knew little of her material, the Fez show was a homecoming of sorts where Holly headlined and gave what may have been her best performance ever. I'll leave it to Dave Curtis to cover the details in a review he plans to write for Holly's website, which I will also post here as soon as it's done. The pressure was on me to record the show on Holly's behalf, as arranged by Dave, Holly, and her manager. Having never done this before (at least in a professional capacity), I quickly realized what I should have brought (more sturdy tripod, headphones, flashlight), however in spite of the limitations, I managed to record a beautiful looking video using brother Paul's Hi-8 Sony Handicam, and we also got

Phil Roy - Tower Records, Philadelphia, 11/16/04

David Dye brought the World Cafe to Tower Records in Philadelphia tonight to celebrate the retail release of Live at the World Cafe, Vol. 17 - Three Flights Up . For live music, he enlisted Phil Roy, a native Philadelphian singer-songwriter, best known for his song "Hope in a Hopeless World" which has been recorded by Paul Young, Pops Staples, and Widespread Panic who recorded it thinking it was a Pops Staples composition, according to Roy. Roy played acoustic guitar and sang, accompanied by John Lilly of the Hooters (the Philadelphia band, not the restaurant) on lead acoustic guitar and fellow Philly-local Ben Arnold on keyboards, who also played on Roy's original recording of "Hope in a Hopeless World." After starting with a new tune ("Willow") to be included on his forthcoming CD, his set consisted of his best known songs, "Hope in a Hopeless World" which featured a blazing acoustic guitar solo by Lilly, "Undeniably Human," &q

It's That Time of Year Again, WXPN's Top Fifty Albums of 2004

Being it's now less than two weeks till Thanksgiving, I guess we can give xpn some slack in starting their drive for listeners to submit top ten lists for 2004 so early. As a year with some great new music, this will be both easy and hard; easy in that my one, two and three are locked in, hard in that there are easily thirty-nine great records all seemingly worthy of one of the seven remaining spots on the list. Even narrowing it down, there are still about fifteen that are strongly resisting elimination - I may have to give them all another spin or two. To get in the spirit, and partially because it was finally just posted this week to the Rambles website, here is my review again of the Julia Fordham CD, That's Life , which has a lock as my number one. Here's my Rambles review (pre-blog) of Nellie McKay's Get Away From Me which is residing happily in my number two slot. Anyo

Wawa: Great Coffee, Great Muzak

Not only does Wawa sell the best coffee on the planet, not only does Wawa sell the best diet iced tea on the planet, not only are they open 24 hours/day with many convenient locations in the mid Atlantic states, not only do their locations with gasoline sell it at the lowest possible price, but now Wawa officially has the best muzak I've ever encountered. Up till now I've occasionally felt sort of stupid for enjoying the baby boomer oldies that play over the sound system in every Wawa store, but today while I was pouring my late afternoon cup of steaming java, I realized that I was hearing Valerie Carter's version of Ooh Child (the old Five Stairsteps hit) from her Wild Child album (1978), one of the best and most overlooked albums ever. This album was my holy grail to find on CD for many years until I finally found a Japanese pressing at an affordable price in Montreal some years ago. Way to go Wawa. Wawa Website: A Talk With Valerie Carter: http

Eleni Mandell & Shivaree - The Point, 10/27/04

Eleni Mandell did another superb set at The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA on Wednesday night, opening for Shivaree. It was her second time here in the last few months, both times as opening act; it's time they booked her to headline. In any case, the small but appreciative audience was treated to a nice sampling of her five albums, concentrating on her latest, the excellent Afternoon . Mandell played acoustic guitar and sang, accompanied only by an upright bass. On the Tom Waits cover it was just bass, voice and finger snaps - just awesome. Iowa City Look Out Below American Boy (dedicated to John Kerry) Just a Dream Afternoon Dreamboat The One That Got Away (Incredible version of the Tom Waits song, holding glass of wine) It's Raining (Allen Toussaint) Maybe, Yes He Lied It was the last night of this tour, and Mandell had no problem selling out the last of the CDs she brought, leaving none to carry back to L.A. Unbeknownst to most everyone in attendance at this show (in

Joe Sample - World Cafe Live, 10/22/04 & WXPN Studio Tour

It was a good thing that this show was not advertised as a solo piano performance because I might not have flipped for the $30 ticket price, in which case we would have missed one of the most unique and special musical experiences ever. As it turned out, this was a rare oppotunity to hear a true jazz master render a virtuosic recital of the history of American music on piano. Sample's musical knowlege and experience is truly encyclopedic. You can enjoy this musical history lesson yourself on Sample's latest release, Soul Shadows from which he played everything save for the title track (which is the only vocal on the record). In concert, each tune was prefaced with an explanation of its significance, including detailed descriptions of the places and times from which these compositions originated. To perform this material, Sample channels the players of the time to let you hear these songs as they would have been heard back then. All of the songs were great to hear but some were