The Early Bird: New Big Releases Reviewed 9-15-17 – 9-21-17
Let’s start with classic rock 2017 style, so, of course, the first album is, in fact, classic folk rock. Yusuf/Cat Stevens’ remarkable new album finds him returning to the sound that made him a hero with The Laughing Apple, that otherworldly skill at turning nursing rhymes inside out, a version of himself we haven’t heard from, really and exactly, since Teaser and Tea. It isn’t an exact replica because the voice is older and the songs aren’t as great, but they are close and they are here. “Grandsons” and “See What Love Did To Me” are perfect fasiniles. Grade: A-. The Foo Fighters spread their wings with Adele’s buddy,Greg Kurstin, performing production chores on Concrete And Gold. Like the album title, it makes sense till you think about it: a musically ambitious album going from White Album era “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” to business as usual “Run,” nothing last two listens, which is one more than usual. Grade: C+. Madonna’s best album since at least Music, gets the live treatment on Rebel Heart Tour (Live), the tour was way and above the best time I’ve ever seen her on stage and though what the album does is give us the songs is just that, culled from her Sydney, Australia concerts in March 2016., that is more than enough. Grade: B+. Every couple of years Ringo Starr releases another album, and every couple of years I give him a C+ when he deserves a D+. This year’s Ringo Give More Love includes “We’re On the Road Again,” a song he wrote with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, and “Laughable,” written with Peter Frampton… well, what can you do? “Laughable” is the best song on the album. Grade: C+.
On the new singles releases front, a remix first as Lorde gets the tenderly voice Khalid, rapper Post Malone, and neo-soul SZA, to a very good song to start with, “Homemade Dynamite” (Grade: B+) and Bjork’s spiritually powerful and taking off from where Vulnicura left off only starker. It takes time for Bjork to reach the pleasure center (though hearing her declaration “I care for you” is powerful stuff), so consider this Grade: B, preliminary. Finally Sia’s “Rainbow” (from the kids movie “My Little Pony”) is absolutely awesome, catchy enough for children but constructed for me. Grade: B+
What else? The eponymous debut of Prophets Of Rage sounds like Chuck D over hard rock guitar in ways they don’t live on stage (Grade: B-) though it’s better than the four songs we’ve already heard lead me to believe. The JD is the man who destroyed the Knicks, and JD And The Straight Shot’s Good Luck And Goodnight (Grade: D+) is the worst album of the week by a long shot