New Recordings: "Art of McCartney," Maya Angelou, the Thompsons
Sure, he's written a lot of great songs, but it's still hard to figure out why this double-disc tribute album needs to exist. Here's the concept: Producer Ralph Saul takes the cute Beatle's own road band into Abbey Road studios and lets the big-name likes
The Art Of McCartney
nolead ends Sure, he's written a lot of great songs, but it's still hard to figure out why this double-disc tribute album needs to exist. Here's the concept: Producer Ralph Saul takes the cute Beatle's own road band into Abbey Road studios and lets the big-name likes of Billy Joel, Steve Miller, Corinne Bailey Rae (who does a nice job with "Blackbird"), Def Leppard, Kiss, and Chrissie Hynde take Macca's place on arrangements that rarely stray far from the originals. Pulling from both the solo years and Beatles songs that are mostly McCartney's, it succeeds when the singers have such indubitable presence that everything they sing becomes their own. Dr. John puts his gris-gris on "Let 'Em In," and Smokey Robinson eases into "So Bad." The tribute is also on fine footing when self-confident senior citizens like Bob Dylan ("Things We Said Today") or Willie Nelson ("Yesterday") follow their own artistic imperatives and transform the songs as they see fit. Otherwise it comes across as unnecessary McCartney karaoke.
- Dan DeLuca
nolead begins Maya Angelou
nolead ends nolead begins Caged Bird Songs
nolead ends nolead begins (Smooch ***)
nolead ends Maya Angelou is regarded as a poet, earth mother, and as Oprah's mentor, judging from O's autobiographical fiction. And Angelou had still another side: that of singer. Her handsome vocals were first heard on the 1957 album Miss Calypso, and she lent her voice to recordings by jazz flutist Herbie Mann, soul duo Ashford & Simpson, and socially conscious rapper Common, among others.
On the posthumously released Caged Bird Songs (produced by RoccStar and Shawn Rivera), a wise, warmly humorous album, Angelou's cadences are refined to a clean hip-hop groove. Her language, whether prose, song, or poetry, is redolent in musicality and rhythm. Take the previously published "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" on this album. Read it and you'll feel its funky sway. On this wise, warmly humorous album, Angelou acts like any other MC: bragging here ("I'm the best that ever done it," she snaps on "Pow Pow"), Auto-Tune there ("On Aging"), and turf-claiming ("Harlem Hopscotch") throughout. Caged Bird Songs closes with the gospel-folk traditional "Pilgrim of Sorrow" and its aspirations toward heaven. It's an elegant homage to Angelou's grace in the face of God.
- A.D. Amorosi
nolead begins Thompson
nolead ends nolead begins Family
nolead ends nolead begins (Fantasy ***1/2)
nolead ends Teddy Thompson, the impetus behind this project, wondered what a "Thompson family" album would sound like. Given the talents involved - including those of parents Richard and Linda, siblings Kami and Jack, and himself - you'd have to figure it would sound pretty good. And it does.
The individual members bring their own songs to the table, and if one thing unites them it's their distinct lack of sentimentality. "I'm going to have to say that I'm not thrilled about you," Richard declares on his prickly folk-rocker "One Life at a Time," while Linda urges the listener to "take the sadness, take the pain, let it go" on the stately piano ballad "Perhaps We Can Sleep."
Teddy opens with the acoustic autobiographical "Family" and also contributes the accusatory country-rocker "Right." Kami, working with her husband, James Walbourne, adds melodic pop to the mix with "Careful," and the pair punctuate this celebration of family on a deliciously ironic note with the country-folk lament "I Long for Lonely."
- Nick Cristiano
New Recordings: Top Albums in the Region
TOP ALBUMS IN THE REGION
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1 1 Taylor Swift 1989 1
2 2 Foo Fighters Sonic Highways -
3 3 Pink Floyd Endless River -
4 4 Garth Brooks Man Against Machine -
5 6 Nick Jonas Nick Jonas -
6 13 Barbra Streisand Partners 4
7 10 Bette Midler It's the Girls 3
8 9 Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour 6
9 8 Various Artists 2
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10 14 Damien Rice -
My Favourite Faded Fantasy
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 11/29/14 © 2014
New Recordings: On Sale Tuesday
ON SALE TUESDAY
5 Seconds of Summer, Good Girls.
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Andy Stott, Faith in Strangers.
Various Artists, The Many Faces of Black Sabbath.