Monday, August 18, 2008

I spend way too much on music

I have purchased more new music this year than in the last five combined, and the year isn't over yet.  The reason for that is the sheer number of artists from my younger days that are releasing albums of new material.  I swear it's 1983 all over again!  Some of the artists have never gone away, but just released new albums.  Others have been away a long, long time (so it seems) and have decided to bless my ears with their sounds.  In no particular order, here's what's happening:

The B-52s released Funplex.  I was never much of a fan before or after "Roam," but I was converted by that song.  Funplex never quite reaches that level for me, but oh-my-goodness was a fun record it is!

Asia rose from its ashes with Phoenix.  While the album never gets better than Alpha or Astra -- that is to say, it's not as spectacular as their debut -- it is still a respectable Asia effort.  The first track of the album is pure "Sole Survivor" though.

While there isn't a new Yaz(oo) album this year, there is the fabulous In Your Room box set...and Alison Moyet's The Turn.  Yes, I know that her record has been out for nearly a year abroad, but it was just released a couple of months ago in the US of A, so it counts as this year to me.  I could listen to her sing all day.

Twenty-five years ago, Donald Fagen released the amazing The Nightfly.  This year, his co-conspirator in Steely Dan has a new album.  Walter Becker's Circus Money is more of the same, really, but I can never get enough.

On the hard rock front, there's new releases from (shock) Whitesnake and Alice Cooper and (horror) Judas Priest.  Whitesnake's Good To Be Bad is a straightforward pop-metal effort that is surprisingly not bad.  Alice Coopers Along Came A Spider is also an accomplished effort, also a concept album.  Judas Priest also came up with a concept album, Nostradamus that, while musically and vocally well-performed, is pretentious and ridiculous.  I'd have loved it to be better, but if the evil glowing-eyed Nostradamus on the cover doesn't serve as a warning to stay away, I don't know what else will.  Did I mention Def Leppard?  Songs From The Sparkle Lounge is surprisingly not bad for a group that I thought had finally disbanded!  Oh, and then there's Motley Crue.  Not a great record, but a fun one.  Lots of sex and profanity.

Carly Simon gave us Hello Big Man in 1983 and this year gifted us with This Kind Of Love.  For her first album of new material in hundreds of years, she's done pretty well with this release, including my favorite new track "People Say A Lot."

Chicago has released their "lost" 1992 album, Stone Of Sisyphus.  It's a pretty good album and has aged well really. There's none of that sappy Peter Cetera, and that earns it extra points from me.

Perhaps my biggest surprise this year was the release of Journey's Revelation.  It was a pleasant surprise.  The new vocalist is truly on Steve Perry's level and the new material is quite good!  The drawback is that I had to get it at Sam's Club.

In a year of surprising releases, Donna Summer's Crayons is right up there.  I thought that I was going to have a heart attack from the glee of anticipation.  When it finally arrived I was not disappointed.  Okay, I actually was a little.  Summer's virtue is her transcendent voice.  Many are the hours that her singing transported me into better places.  Crayons has far too much vocal manipulation in the production for my taste.  The songs are strong and witty, but I want to here Donna sing, not a vocoder-ized version.  Sakes people.  Wasn't Cher enough?

Cyndi Lauper says "fuck" on her new record, Bring Ya To The Brink!  My goodness, she's all grown up now.  And released a fuckin' good record too.

John Mellencamp's new effort doesn't have a "Jack And Diane" on it, but it's still a good, if depressing, release. Life Death Love And Freedom gives a little bit of all of the elements in the title, with an emphasis on mortality.

Tom Petty is back, but without the Heartbreakers, but with his first band, Mudcrutch.  Their self-titled debut (thirty years later) is a neo-country-rock effort with excellent musicianship and another vocalist to offset Petty's whine.  The nine-minute "Crystal River" is my fave from the record.

Madonna got her dance on (again) with Hard Candy and I like to dance.  I keep waiting for her to make another Like A Virgin, but my fear is that she'll make another Erotica.  This is neither, but it's quite listenable.

Another big surprise is Rick Springfield's Venus In Overdrive.  Probably his best since his 80s heyday (I agree with the critics here).  I think I just like him, guilty pleasure though that might be.

R.E.M. gave us Accelerate.  

Steve Winwood pumped out Nine Lives.  

Sparks released Exotic Creatures Of The Deep which so far sports my favorite song of the year, "Let the Monkey Drive."

Thomas Dolby's live effort, The Sole Inhabitant, is a CD/DVD set showcasing his recent tour.  It's good to hear all of these songs in fresh performances.  I think I like Dolby more than I thought I did, and for "Windpower" much more than "She Blinded Me With Science."

Still to come this year, Queen's The Cosmos Rocks (being released here a month later than in Europe, which pisses me off) and Pretenders' new one, Break Up The Concrete."  The rumor mill says that U2 might have a new album late this year.

All that's missing really is David Bowie, Rolling Stones, and a reunion of A Flock Of Seagulls!

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