A+ List – 90s Rap

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I’ve decided to jump into the game with my own somewhat random A+ list, the first being focused on ‘90s rap. Two things to remember. One, this is not an attempt at an all-inclusive list. Two, money talks, but it don’t sign and dance and it don’t walk.

De La Soul – The Essential List

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On Valentine’s Day weekend, De La Soul made the large majority of their catalogue (their first six studio albums and some rarities/greatest hits packages) available for free download. I, of course, jumped on it like a junkie seizing a clean needle

Iris DeMent, Kessler Theater, Saturday, February 15th, 2014, Reviewed

Posted by & filed under Live.

There is a timeless element to DeMent, given her universal themes and the bedrock simplicity of her musical accompaniment. Beyond those aspects, it is her bravery – her emotional honesty and intelligence and passion – that makes DeMent a major artist. She is genuine and moving and a truly gifted songwriter.

Steve Fromholz Remembered

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Fromholz, described by one long time friend as a “traveling party” and a “cornucopia of fun,” developed sincere connections with intimate audiences and he will not be soon forgotten by serious Texas music fans. Give “The Texas Trilogy” if you haven’t heard it.

Pete Seeger Reconsidered – Thoughts From a Punk Rock Cynic

Posted by & filed under Opinion.

“Hey, let’s sing this song together that will end war, poverty, injustice, and bee stings,” always seemed a bit soft in the noodle to me. I’d rather hear about Joey Ramone’s need to sniff glue. However, on the passing of Pete Seeger, it struck me how little conversation there was about his contributions to music

Joe Ely, Fort Worth Stock Show, Friday, January 31st, 2014, Reviewed

Posted by & filed under Live.

Ely’s strength is that he writes good songs and covers even better ones. On this evening, he oddly alternated between a high energy rocker and a slow tempo number throughout the entire evening. As passionate as he is as a performer, I don’t think he would be physically capable of phoning in a gig, he never transcends his material.

Essential New Wave Tracks, Part II

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In the second and final look at essential new wave tracks, we go beyond silly looking hair to chronicle yellow hazmat suits, energy dome hats, and the death of Marc Bolen. I hope the chorus of “People Who Died” leaves my brain before Valentine’s Day

Essential New Wave Tracks, Part I

Posted by & filed under Lists.

As punk music croaked commercially in the U.S. in the late ‘70s, its safer kid sister, “new wave,” was introduced as an alternative marketing term. What exactly was “new wave”? Everything that had a beat and wasn’t metal was thrown into that category at one point

The Arkansas Mixtape, Part II

Posted by & filed under Lists.

You surely remember the life changing first article of this series, which chronicled Arkansas based artists including Johnny Cash, Louis Jordan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and, for symmetry’s sake, twelve other acts. In this second, and regretfully final, article on this subject, we survive scalding grits, salute ersatz Samoans, and share a bit too much information at the outhouse

The Arkansas Mixtape, Part One

Posted by & filed under Lists.

If you are traveling through Arkansas or live in Arkansas or want to pretend that you are in Arkansas, you’d like to have some local music to enjoy. Sure, you could spin some tunes that mention Little Rock, but you would rather listen to artists with true Arkansas roots

Moon Mullican – Laying Pipe All Day

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There are several theories on how he received that name; the most common belief was that it was shorthand for “Moonshine.” He was billed as the King of the Hillbilly Piano Players, but Moon Mullican was a key link in the transition from Western swing music to honky-tonk and then on to rock ‘n’ roll.

Steve Crawford’s Top 25 Songs of 2013

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I’m sure I’ll discover more songs from 2013 that would displace some of these entries, but this is a solid list. If you haven’t heard “City Swan” by Neko Case or “Turn the Radio On” by the Suburbs, I highly recommend you check them out. Also, the entire Christianity meets old school funk album by the Relatives is a wah-wah pedal, fuzztone gas.

Robert Hilburn's "Johnny Cash: The Life" Reviewed

Posted by & filed under Books.

It’s all well and good that Cash was admired by Bob Dylan and Tom Petty and Bono and various rock critics and was a peer of Elvis and Jerry Lee and Carl Perkins. However, it’s somewhat mystifying that Hilburn would rely on third party quotes and recognition instead of trying to define the gravitas of Cash in his own voice.

Let’s Have a Good Cry – A Dozen Weeper Keepers

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On Thursday afternoons, rock nyc has its“Good Cry” meeting, where we discuss our lost loves, crushed dreams, and any terminal illnesses we might have. I once excitedly started the meeting by stating that my son had aced his college final in International Relations and Helen Bach backhanded me from Manhattan to Brooklyn. My jaw hurt, but the pizza was still good

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Begging for Irrelevance

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As the RRHOF becomes more desperate for repeated visitors to their Cleveland pyramid and their online gift shop, the lowest common denominator will continue to define cultural excellence. At the 2023 induction ceremony, P. Diddy will strut across the stage and proclaim repeatedly with great bravado that, “It’s all about the Benjamins!”

The 100 Best Songs of the 1990s

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Lester’s vision of cultural atomization became a reality in the 1990s, as audiences segmented into different genres/sub-genres and fewer artists impacted mass culture as a whole. Therefore, everyone’s ‘90s list will be radically different

Thirteen from ‘13

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he provides support to a friend and potential love interest that dies prematurely of cancer. Not the feel good hit of the summer, but the wallop is devastating

The 100 Best Songs of the 1980s

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By cherry picking the goodies, we can appreciate what Prince and Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen did for the mainstream, while Husker Du and R.E.M. and the Replacements gave hope to the left of the dial listeners.

100 Greatest Songs of the '70s

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The ’70s were a long time ago. Here are the 100 best songs of the decade. Song #87 was also one of the most popular songs of 2013. I do not know why I am typing sentences like Hemingway wrote in “A Farewell to Arms.” I will stop now.

The 100 Greatest Songs of the 1960s

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The 1960s were a rich era in popular music and one could easily list 500 outstanding songs from that decade. Bob Dylan and The Beatles created musical templates that others have followed ever since, while Stax, Motown, and Muscle Shoals provided ample competition against the British invasion.

The 159 Greatest Songs of the 1950s

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Reflecting the diversity of the era, there are entries by Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Muddy Waters, and Hank Williams. Elvis Presley deservedly owned the era commercially and artistically, but one Charles Edward Anderson Berry could play a guitar just like a ringing the bell.

The 25 Greatest Country Songs of the 90s

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As rap and grunge music became more popular in the early ‘90s, a large white audience shifted away from Top 40 and contemporary rock music toward country radio. Nobody benefited more from this than Garth Brooks. As the decade went on, hit machines like Faith Hill and Shania Twain sounded more like pop stars than traditional Nashville acts

The 30 Greatest Country Songs of the 1950s

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The Board of Directors at rock nyc typically restricts these lists to 25 songs, but I pushed this list to thirty so I wouldn’t have to artificially limit the number of Hank Williams entries. I have enough to explain to St. Peter without adding that oversight to my resume. OK, let’s start drinking and cheating, 1950s style.

The 25 Greatest Country Songs of the 80s

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Nobody would argue that the 1980s was a classic era for country music – the genre was filled with middle of the road soft dreck and popsickle production values. John Anderson embodied the hard country aesthetic at the beginning of the ‘80s and Randy Travis carried the banner at the decade’s end. Steve Earle and Rosanne Cash helped us through the tough times

“When Dallas Rocked” Documentary Review

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While Dallas was busy promoting the next Molly Hatchet gig, Austin created an artistically supportive climate that eventually swallowed Dallas commercially. Due to the ultra-conservative environment, one musician commented that his goal was to make enough money to get out of Dallas

Shuggie Otis Kessler Theater, Dallas, TX October 4th, 2013 Reviewed

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Shuggie often seems emotionally detached from the music. He’s not an authoritative vocalist, his lyrics are well crafted and instantly forgettable, he doesn’t rely on memorable hooks or catchy choruses. As a guitarist, whether replicating Hendrix style blasts or tossing out rapid-fire blues licks, he generally seems more of a technician than an emotionally engaged artist.

The 25 Greatest Stax on Wax Tracks

Posted by & filed under Track Reviews.

As Sun’s influenced waned in the early 1960s, Stax Records opened on McLemore Avenue in Memphis and would become the home for guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Duck Dunn, drummer Al Jackson, Jr., organist Booker T. Jones, as well as songwriters David Porter and Isaac Hayes

Elvis Costello Is Not the Hulk Hogan of Popular Music

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Shouldn’t every red blooded American know that early in his career Mr. Terry Bollea, who later morphed into the Hulkster, was once billed as “Sterling Golden” and was a heel? And, I would argue, the whole “good guy/bad guy” issue entirely misses the point when it comes to Elvis Costello.

Cheap Trick Has the Sue Me, Sue You Blues

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On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Richard Nielsen, Thomas Peterson, and Robin “I’ve Never Used a Nickname” Zander have sued Bun E. Carlos (Brad Carlson), claiming that their long time drummer was “validly removed from the board of Cheap Trick Unlimited Inc and two other band-related corporations.”

John Anderson -The Essential List

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He separated himself from the Nashville assembly line crowd by writing and performing not just traditional hard country music (which was a pretty daring artistic statement in 1980), but also by incorporating elements of rock and bluegrass