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What We’re Listening to This Week

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.

January 17, 2019
Stan Cox
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
David Schultz
Trump vs the Constitution: Why He Cannot Invoke the Emergencies Act to Build a Wall
Paul Cochrane
Europe’s Strategic Humanitarian Aid: Yemen vs. Syria
Tom Clifford
China: An Ancient Country, Getting Older
Greg Grandin
How Not to Build a “Great, Great Wall”
Ted Rall
Our Pointless, Very American Culture of Shame
John G. Russell
Just Another Brick in the Wall of Lies
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers Strike: Black Smoke Pouring out of LAUSD Headquarters
Patrick Walker
Referendum 2020: A Green New Deal vs. Racist, Classist Climate Genocide
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Uniting for a Green New Deal
Matt Johnson
The Wall Already Exists — In Our Hearts and Minds
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Flailing will get More Desperate and More Dangerous
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Three
January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
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