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What We’re Listening to This Week

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR And DAVID VEST

Scott Miller and the Commonwealth: Citation
(Sugar Hill)

Scott Miller has been called
the Springsteen of Tennessee, which sounds like an oxymoron to
me. But this record by the former leader of the V-Roys is fueled
by brutal rocking and smart and gritty lyrics from the edgier
precincts of Appalachia.

Bruce Robison: Eleven
Stories
(Sustain Records)

I got started listening to
Bruce Robison, the gangly singer-songwriter from Austin, the
back way: through his wife, the sunny alt country singer Kelly
Willis. Robison, whose sister-in-law is the quite Dixie Chick,
Emily Robison, writes as deftly as that sad icon of the Austin
sound, Townes Van Zandt but, unlike Van Zandt, Robison’s voice
does justice to the emotional complexities his music. Every one
of these songs is a gem, but the duet with Willis on “More
and More” is a true thing of beauty.

Daddy: At
the Women’s Club
(Cedar Creek Music)

Okay, I know rock music is
long dead, having ex-sanguinated the moment Grand Funk Railroad
mis-struck their first powerchord. So I don’t know what you’d
call the music that Daddy plays: electrified Americana, perhaps.
Daddy doesn’t rock, per se; they just kick ass. Imagine the Sex
Pistols by way of Waylon Jennings. That’s as close as I can come
to putting a label on songs such as “I Miss Ronald Reagan,”
recorded live before a raucus crowd in Frankfort. That’s Frankfort,
Kentucky, dude.

Ralph Stanley: Clinch
Mountain Gospel
(Rebel Records)

If the voice of God ever calls
my name, I expect it to sound like Ralph Stanley’s on “I
Am Weary.” Bluegrass gospel at its most thanatic.

 

Anita O’Day: Sings
the Most
(Polygram)

I remember her from the wonderful
film, “Jazz on a Summer Day”, her voice airy, luscious,
swinging. O’Day may be the great white jazz singer. You got the
sense that she truly was an improviser, who took as much from
Charlie Parker or Monk as from Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday.
Diana Krall seems rigid and canned in comparison with O’Day–but
what do you expect from someone who married Elvis Costello? Anita
O’Day died this week and perhaps an era of American music died
with her. There are lots of O’Day recordings to choose from,
but she never sounded sharper than on this brisk set from the
1950s with the Oscar Peterson Trio.

Jeffrey St. Clair’s music writings (as well as CPers Ron
Jacobs, David Vest and Daniel Wolff) can be found in Serpents
in the Garden
. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net.

David Vest …


Julie London, About
the Blues
(Blue Note)

I looked for this album after
flipping channels and catching London opposite Robert Mitchum
in “The Wonderful Country,” which also featured Satchel
Paige in the cast. Why do I keep forgetting what a fine singer
she was? The intelligence and presence of her phrasing are legendary,
and “Meaning of the Blues” and “Dark” say
that needs to said about her voice, not to mention her soul.

Mary Black, Full
Tide
(Curb)

Amazon is still listing this
CD as an import, but it’s available for $9.99 on iTunes. Black
is a singer’s singer, not given to belting, with phenomenal breath
control. She never oversings a song, but she’s got plenty of
power when it’s called for. Her latest effort features two Dylan
covers, “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” and “To Make
You Feel My Love”. “Straight As A Die” is sensational.

Oscar Peterson, Solo
Oscar
(Live) (Pablo)

I have seen serious jazz critics
spin the fact that Peterson sprang onto the scene more or less
fully formed in his technique as a “failure to develop.”
What crap. If it leaves them speechless, there must be something
wrong with it, right?

David Vest’s latest CDs are: Serve
Me Right To Shuffle
and Way
Down Here (Live)
. He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
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