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Showing posts from December, 2006

135. Vince Gill - These Days (2006)

In country, artists who compose their own material are the exception rather than the rule. And yet here we have Vince Gill, who has not only released 4 albums simultaneously (a feat not even matched by Prince), but also had a hand in writing all 43 songs.

As many admirers as Gill has (myself included), none would have considered him an artistic force. Maybe it's time to change that. As with any sprawling project, there are some duds, but there are also plenty of gems. Here's the scoop on the four discs, by the numbers:

Disc One: Workin' On A Big Chill (The Rockin' Record)

Happy Love Songs: 5
Sad Heartbreak Songs: 2
Church Songs: 0
Murder Ballads: 0
Wanderin' Man Songs: 3

Guest Artists: Gretchen Wilson, Rodney Crowell, BekkaBramlett, Michael McDonald

Lowlights:
Cowboy Up (bravado-laced hick song more suited to Toby Keith)
Workin' On A Big Chill (a beach bum tune more suited to Jimmy Buffett)
Rhythm Of The Pourin' Rain (uncomfortably horny and unsexy)

Highlights:
Love&…

134. Robbie Williams - Rudebox (2006)

Talk about contrast. Robbie Williams' previous effort, 2005's Intensive Care, was the most focused of his career. Now we have Rudebox, which is easily the most all-over-the-map album he's made.

I should be in no way surprised. Williams has proven himself an adept musical chameleon over the years. There was the Eltonesque balladry of Angels, the faux-hip-hop of Kids, the 50s crooning of Swing When You're Winning, the cock rock of Cursed, the Bowie posing of Radio, the ska experiment of Tripping, and so on. The difference with Rudebox is that all of those styles and more are compressed into a single album.

The record features 5 unexpected covers, along with 11 original collaborations with various electro-pop producers/composers. On the surface it seems like a completely overindulgent project, but if you take each song individually, it's clear that Williams' gift for pop magic is fully intact.

More than anything, this is a dance record. It starts with the earl…

2006: Top Ten

It's once again that magical time when we summarize a year's worth of music consumption into a couple of handy lists.

Check out my pal Richard Nelson's picks on Highway 290 Revisited.

Soul Asylum – The Silver Lining

read the review

A Twin Cities supergroup featuring an ex-Prince drummer, an uber-producer, an ex-Replacement, a member of Golden Smog and a guy who dated Winona Ryder make the best album of a 20-year career.





Dixie Chicks - Taking The Long Way

read the review

After the gentle, easy-going Home, it’s nice to hear the Chicks get fired up and passionate. I guess Bush is good for something.







Ronnie Milsap – My Life

read the review

I actually hate 2 of these 11 songs. But I love the other 9. In fact, they stand with any other of the other fine tunes Milsap has recorded in his long career.






The Roots - Game Theory

read the review

One of the rare rap albums that manages to give an instant thrill but also deepens with every listen.







Elton John - The Captain & The Kid

read …

2006: Best Of The Rest

#11:
Regina Spektor – Begin To Hope

Some years it’s very easy to make that cut at 10, but when you have an eccentric, varied, mysterious album like Begin To Hope, it’s almost painful! Witness the demented nostalgia of That Time, the heart-broken beauty of Samson and the irresistible bounce of Fidelity. If Bjork and Fiona Apple recorded an album together, this is how it’d turn out.


Biggest Disappointment:
Glen Phillips – Mr. Lemons

Last year’s number one artist took a frightening tumble with an all-too-appropriately-titled effort.


Biggest Surprise:
Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere

Every year seems to produce at least one left-field success story. Who would've thought it’d be Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse teaming up for an exceedingly weird vanity project that could have just as easily slipped into obscurity? If you’d told me that at the beginning of the year, I’d have called you, well, crazy. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)




Guiltiest Pleasure:
Corinne Bailey Rae – Corinne Bailey Rae

Why should I feel …