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Alison Krauss & Union Station – So Long So Wrong
As usual, it is Alison’s beautiful vocals that give it that "high, lonesome sound." There are 13 vocal songs and one instrumental on this two-record set. Krauss is the lead vocalist on eight of the songs and Union Station members share the other lead vocals. The virtuoso musicians comprising the group are Barry Bales (acoustic bass), Ron Block (banjo, guitar), Adam Steffey (mandolin), and Dan Tyminski (guitar). Of course Krauss started her career as a violinist (fiddler to the bluegrass world) and she doesn’t leave that instrument out either.
Bette Midler – The Divine Miss M
Oh, behave! Bette Midler’s sparkling, energy-pulsing 1972 debut features the singer honing her trademark brassy personality as well as showing off an intimate, raw edge that fell by the wayside later in her career. Witness her forlorn, melancholic, and heartbroken moods, all conveyed with supreme emotion on several riveting ballads. But this LP is no downer. Midler offsets any bleakness with playfully campy songs laced with unadulterated enthusiasm and joyous defiance. This is a diva lover’s delight. The music is astonishingly alive. A superstar is born!
Bette Midler – The Rose
Bette Midler’s first leading role in a musical remains her best. As the soundtrack for that film, The Rose spotlights The Divine Miss M’s outstanding performance as a character in the persona of Janis Joplin. Midler received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and while the record contains no visuals, it punctuates the raw emotion and show-stopping persuasion that the singer brings to upbeat, rollicking fare composed in tribute to the late Joplin. Her reading of “When A Man Loves a Woman” remains definitive and unique for being sung from a female’s perspective.
Billy Joel – Piano Man
Piano Man is the second studio album by the American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on November 9, 1973. Joel's first recording with Columbia Records, Piano Man emerged from legal difficulties with his former label, Family Productions, and became his breakthrough album. However, the Family Productions print logo was used until 1986. "Joel grew up playing in rock bands, but a California hiatus as a lounge pianist (under the name Bill Martin) saw him pecking out standards for lost souls. 'It was all right,' he said. 'I got free drinks and union scale, which was the first steady money I'd made in a long time.'" - Rolling Stone
Bob Dylan – Another side of Bob Dylan
Of the first of two transitional albums in which Dylan moved beyond protest, and then beyond folk music. Here, in songs like Chimes of Freedom and My Back Pages, he suggested that social issues were much more complicated than the increasingly polarized times made them seem. His lyrics, meanwhile, also became more complicated and poetic. Other singers would mine this album for hits with All I Really Want to Do and It Ain't Me, Babe.
Bob Dylan – Blood on The Tracks
In this album he is as personal and as universal as Yeats or Blake; speaking for himself, risking that dangerous opening of the veins, he speaks for us all. The words, the music, the tone of voice speak of regret, melancholy, a sense of inevitable farewell, mixed with sly humor, some rage, and a sense of simple joy. They are the poems of a survivor. The warning voice of the innocent boy is no longer here, because Dylan has chosen not to remain a boy. It is not his voice that has grown richer, stronger, more certain; it is Dylan himself.
Bob Dylan – Desire [Limited Edition No. 000449]
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine If Blood on the Tracks was an unapologetically intimate affair, Desire is unwieldy and messy, the deliberate work of a collective. And while Bob Dylan directly addresses his crumbling relationship with his wife, Sara, on the final track, Desire is hardly as personal as its predecessor, finding Dylan returning to topical songwriting and folk tales for the core of the record. It's all over the map, as far as songwriting goes, and so is it musically, capturing Dylan at the beginning of the Rolling Thunder Revue era, which was more notable for its chaos than its music. And, so it's only fitting that Desire fits that description as well, as it careens between surging folk-rock, Mideastern dirges, skipping pop, and epic narratives. It's little surprise that Desire doesn't quite gel, yet it retains its own character -- really, there's no other place where Dylan tried as many different styles, as many weird detours, as he does here. And, there's something to be said for its rambling, sprawling character, which has a charm of its own. Even so, the record would have been assisted by a more consistent set of songs; there are some masterpieces here, though: "Hurricane" is the best-known, but the effervescent "Mozambique" is Dylan at his breeziest, "Sara" at his most nakedly emotional, and "Isis" is one of his very best songs of the '70s, a hypnotic, contemporized spin on a classic fable. This may not add up to a masterpiece, but it does result in one of his most fascinating records of the '70s and '80s -- more intriguing, lyrically and musically, than most of his latter-day affairs.
Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
This album in sum, is the protean Bob Dylan as of the time of the recording. By the next recording, there will be more new songs and insights and experiences. Dylan can't stop searching and looking and reflecting upon what he sees and hears. "Anything I can sing," he observes, "I call a song. Anything I can't sing, I call a poem. Anything I can't sing or anything that’s too long to be a poem, I call a novel. It's hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter, one of considerable skill, imagination, and vision. At the time, folk had been quite popular on college campuses and bohemian circles, making headway onto the pop charts in diluted form, and while there certainly were a number of gifted songwriters, nobody had transcended the scene as Dylan did with this record.
Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’ [Special Limited Edition No. 000557]
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine If The Times They Are a-Changin' isn't a marked step forward from The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, even if it is his first collection of all originals, it's nevertheless a fine collection all the same. It isn't as rich as Freewheelin', and Dylan has tempered his sense of humor considerably, choosing to concentrate on social protests in the style of "Blowin' in the Wind." With the title track, he wrote an anthem that nearly equaled that song, and "With God on Our Side" and "Only a Pawn in Their Game" are nearly as good, while "Ballad of Hollis Brown" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" are remarkably skilled re-castings of contemporary tales of injustice. His absurdity is missed, but he makes up for it with the wonderful "One Too Many Mornings" and "Boots of Spanish Leather," two lovely classics. If there are a couple of songs that don't achieve the level of the aforementioned songs, that speaks more to the quality of those songs than the weakness of the remainder of the record. And that's also true of the album itself -- yes, it pales next to its predecessor, but it's terrific by any other standard.
Bob Dylan and The Band – The Basement Tapes
The Basement Tapes is that it is Americana, as Dylan and the Band pick up the weirdness inherent in old folk, country, and blues tunes, but it transcends mere historical arcana through its lively, humorous, full-bodied performances. Dylan never sounded as loose, nor was he ever as funny as he is here, and this positively revels in its weird, wild character.
Bobby Darin – Love Swings
Love Swings is one of the most unheralded and underappreciated Bobby Darin albums. Released in July of 1961 and arranged by Torrie Zito, it remained on the charts for only ten weeks and peaked at a disappointing number 92 . Love Swings is an album of standards written by, among others, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers & Hart, and Ira Gerswhin. This is one of Bobby Darin's most sophisticated albums and is deserving of being in print. If you like the brassy, swinging sound of Two of a Kind and are not afraid of crying in your martini, then this LP may be your favorite Bobby Darin album.
Carole King – Music
Released on the heels of her breakthrough, Tapestry, Carole King’s Music is every bit the equal of its more famous predecessor, a Number One smash that features impeccable songwriting, infallible melodies, and extraordinary piano playing. In short, everything that’s made King an institution. After of years of being overshadowed, this 1971 singer-songwriter classic has finally been given the audiophile treatment it’s long deserved.