Thursday, July 8, 2010

Don Dixon to Taj Mahal: Six One-Line Reviews (2000)

(As published in the Times of Acadiana ... )

Don Dixon, The Invisible Man (Gadfly). Yep, the ’80’s alterna-pop talent scout and producer, with vocals, hooks, and experiments that suggest there’s an Elvis Costello inside him struggling to get out.

Elf Power, Vainly Clutching at Phantom Limbs (Arena Rock). A ’94 underground classic unearthed, with its hooks, distortion, droning experimentalism, and patina of having been recorded in the family basement still intact.

John Hammond, Best of the Vanguard Years (Vanguard). A twenty-three-track, white-blues retrospective spanning ’64 to ’79 and featuring most of the Band plus all of Mike Bloomfield on six tracks.

Emmylou Harris, Last Date (Eminent). The Everly and Haggard covers work, the Springsteen cover doesn’t, the Stills-Young and Buck Owens covers split the difference, and the two bonus tracks beat them all.

John Hiatt, Crossing Muddy Waters (Vanguard). A more accurate title: Crossing Muddy Waters with the Band on the Back Porch Unplugged.

Taj Mahal, Best of the Private Years (Private). This isn’t “the best” of Mahal’s Private years mainly because it isn’t Señor Blues, his best Private album, but it is lively R&B fun, and none of the oldies sound taken for granted.

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