Thursday, June 02, 2005

And now...round three of MIXED BAG PROJECT REVIEWS!


The originators of this feast submitted theirs together, simultaneously saving on postage and providing a cute double-CD pack.

Highlights: "Bad 'n' Ruin", the opening cut from Faces' 1971 long player Long Player, is a longtime favorite of mine. Alt-country chanteuse Tift Merritt is someone I've been interested in for some time now, and this was a good track. Love that Flaming Lips tune, "Spark That Bled", from one of my favorite albums, Soft Bulletin. Santana's "Samba Pa Ti" is a nice mellow instrumental from early in the Santana Band's history, before Carlos's style became schtick. The Springsteen cut was good, and it was unknown to me which makes me think it was from The Rising, which I don't own. "Dancing Queen" is a great, great ABBA song that I never seem to get tired of, especially the chord changes and melody on the chorus. I can't say that about many other songs in their catalogue.

Subject for further research: Merritt. I was already interested, though.

No Harm No Foul: Interesting to hear the bookend cuts from Los Super Seven. I'm a big fan of Los Lobos, especially their 90's Mitchell Froom period, and I remember thinking I should get those albums when they were released. I never did. The two cuts chosen remind me a lot of the instrumentals on the Lobos albums- sometimes tuneful, and well played, I'm sure, but usually they get skipped in favor of the vocal tracks. The Joe Jackson track is a good one, but I'm very tired of it; "Pressure Drop" by Toots and the Maytals is one of the few reggae tracks that grabs me, but it doesn't blow me away all that much. Believe it or not, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is not one of my favorite Beatles songs. It's very good, and this Anthology demo, like many of its brethren, is interesting at first but doesn't improve on further listens. Actually, I kinda liked George's "All Things Must Pass" demo from that same collection. No clue who Paul Pena is, or why he's all that different from Los Lobos or Los Lonely Boys or Los Mexicanos Genericos Bloozrock group, but this was a lively and attractive cut. Gov't Mule is a band that I've heard a lot about, but never really heard that much from- it was OK, but I'm not compelled to listen over and came across as fairly standard Southern-boogie tinged hard rock. Speaking of which, the Allmans cut, a live version of "Blue Sky" was tuneful but a little overlong, as live versions tend to be. The Jerry Garcia track was a pleasant shuffle, not too hard on the ears, but more often as not the Dead and their spinoffs dont grab me where I feel it. I've always regarded Susan Tedeschi as a run-of-the-mill whitebread blues singer- it doesn't help that I'm just not all that interested in contemporary blues music as it's practiced these days...too hidebound and formulaic. She sounds a lot like Bonnie Raitt on this track, which does choogle along agreeably.

The Rest: Just not a fan of Green Day, as I've said before, or Iron Maiden.

Re-listenability: Moderately low. I can see me coming back to hear the Merritt, Allmans, and the Toots tracks, but little else.


Highlights: "Soul Singing" by the Black Crowes, from the one Crowes CD I don't have. Don't know why I haven't picked it up by now; perhaps my disappointment with By Your Side and the subsequent Chris Robinson album. I've never really been into Phish, even though I've heard the odd cut that I liked- "Heavy Things" is another, poppy and light. You can't go wrong with the Man in Black, and it's incredibly hard to fuck up "Ghost Riders in the Sky". The back-to-back bluegrass double shot with Alison Krause and Claire Lynch was highly agreeable; I like bluegrass OK, even more so live. A nice funkyrocky track from John Mellencamp follows, and sounds good after the bluegrass. I think, Kelly, you would have liked what we played at WLOC back in the day. Of course, the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky" is a classic, and while not one of my top 20 favorite Fabsongs, it's always welcome. I liked the Jack Johnson selection, too- he's someone I've spent a fair amount of time listening to the last couple of years.

Subjects for further research: Claire Lynch, perhaps, and I definitely need to pick up Lions one of these days. I'm sure I can find it cheap.

No harm, no foul: Gov't Mule pops up again here, same as the Allman Bros.; see my comments on Lefty's mix. I have a love-hate regard for the Eagles, and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" (one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar back in the day) is a pleasant enough early track from their debut. They weren't quite as smug back then.

The rest: String Cheese Incident is a slightly more twangy version of the Dave Matthews Band, and I despise the funk-prog lite of the DMB; Portly soul man Luther Vandross doesn't work as well for me as he does the ladies; the next time I hear "Steal My Sunshine" by Len will be once too many; and while I'm not a Billy Joel hater "Tell Her About It" is not a favorite. And I'm sorry- I like Yes OK, love much of their pre-1978 output, and am mostly inclined to like the rest- but "I've Seen All Good People", with its fingernails-on-a-blackboard intro and chorus, makes me want to stick pencils in my ears to make it stop.

Re-listenability: Moderately high, much to like here.

THE DED MIX, from Logan Polk.

Highlights: I kinda-sorta liked Jet's debut album, and "Last Chance" is a fine, AC/DC-ish track. Of course I have nothing but love for Al Jardine's contribution to Pet Sounds, "Sloop John B", recorded by Brian at his suggestion; Soul Asylum's "I Did My Best" is a strong cut from an undeservedly overlooked album; the Beck cut, "Girl", bops along nicely- I like Beck, mostly. I considered putting something from Sea Change, another considered-by-me underrated album, on my mix CD. Counting Crows is a funny band for me- I like their hits a lot, but get really bored really fast with their full-length albums. Go figure. Anyway, I've always liked "Hanginaround". Catchy as hell, just like you want your hits to be. Hard to beat the crooning of Mr. Smooth, Nat King Cole, and "Stardust" is a favorite standard of mine, with a lovely string arrangement, the likes of which nobody seems to know how to write anymore.

Subjects for further research: none.

No harm no foul: Don't know anything about John Oszajca, and his salsa-rock-cum-Tijuana Brass "Valley of the Dolls" is kinda hokey and tuneful at the same time, kinda like the Mavericks. Of all the classic rock bands, Creedence Clearwater Revival has given me the most problems. Their output was strong, and I like nearly all of it, but I rarely am compelled to go back to it. To this day, I don't own a single CCR album. Phantom Planet was new to me, but their "Lonely Day" is tuneful enough for repeat listens. The rockish Willie Nelson track might grow on me, who knows. It's way overproduced. The live version of "Drown" by Son Volt is OK, but doesn't really add to the studio version. The Eagles' "Desperado" is a nice song which I'm very tired of. We get another live version which doesn't really improve on its predecessor.

The rest: I can take or leave most hip-hop, and the Jay-Z/Linkin Park, Kanye West, and Bubba Sparxxx tracks are no exception. Don't hate 'em, and it's kinda cool to have that h-to-the-izzay song after hearing it all these years, but I can't see me thumping 'em when i drive down the street. After kinda liking "Man in the Box", I was bored silly by the rest of Alice in Chains' turgid output...but at least "Would?" has a riff at its base that you can remember 10 minutes later. And personal to Robert Downey Jr.: dude, don't quit your day job, such as it is...Mel Torme you're not.

Re-listenability: Moderately low. There are a few cuts I'll come back to, I'm sure.

I'm thinking Fred Hembeck has a good idea- take all the tracks I like from all the Mixed Bag CDs and make a "Best of the best" sampler.

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