Known Johnson

December 18, 2007

Catching up

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 8:35 pm

It’s been an insane couple of weeks. I’ve been forcing myself to do a little less computing in my downtime to alleviate some problems I’ve been having with my hand, so that’s why it’s been so quiet here. In the mean time, I’ve been keeping busy – picked up the new Genesis box, about which I’m writing a review when I have some time and don’t feel like my hand is an impediment, along with shorter reviews for a couple of older releases that I’ve yet to address, two of many – my New Year’s Resolution may very well be to review, review, review a lot more stuff. I’ve slacked off on reviewing lately and need to get back to that. There may be another change happening soon but I’m not quite decided on that – I’ll talk about it more when I feel more confident about how I feel. If you’ve been paying attention here you might have a clue what it is.

What is up with Amy Winehouse? I almost feel ashamed to be such a big fan of Back to Black with her current behavior. Jesus, Amy, clean up your act. Between the drugs and the ridiculous court-related antics, it’s getting embarrassing to try and sell people on this fantastic album of yours. I get the feeling we’ll be very lucky to get a third album out of her, or, really she’ll be very lucky to get a third album out of herself. Future’s not looking too bright for her at the moment.

On the other hand, with this neo-soul movement going on, it’s allowed some other acts to step up behind her to shine a little in the reflected glow of her spotlight. Currently I’m enjoying the hell out of Bettye LaVette’s Scene of the Crime, which features modern southern-rockers Drive-by Truckers backing her for a real interesting twist on R&B/soul. This is the real deal – LaVette’s gritty voice oozes decades of hard knocks, and her delivery feels like catharsis for her. Check out her previous album, I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, which is comprised entirely of songs by women – her taken on Aimee Mann’s “How Am I Different” is a gut-wrenching reinvention.

But, to be completely honest, I’ve been hooked on Genesis lately. Yes, that Genesis – the much-reviled 80s “power trio” Genesis. Not only are the remix/remasters fantastic sounding, I’m coming around to believing that they really are filled with some basically great music. Sure, there’s some junk in there, but I’ve had a lot more fun listening to these four albums than I have in listening to a lot of other things lately – something I didn’t quite expect, especially from Invisible Touch. It was a weird time, and you can’t blame Genesis entirely for reacting the way they did. Self-preservation was key. Think back and you’ll realize that while they were turning out some big pop hits, they were also doing some pretty damned weird stuff at the time – “Mama” certainly is not the kind of song anyone would expect from a band capable of following it with something like “That’s All” and then following that with another weird epic, “Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea.” But I should stop – I’ve got more to say that might as well be saved for my review.

Not only that, but I picked up their recent live set, Live Over Europe 2007 and . . . I love it. It’s much, much stronger than I anticipated, pretty much blowing away the deeply flawed Live: The Way We Walk sets that came out back in 1992. If you like Genesis with Phil Collins, you really should give this a shot. You may be very pleasantly surprised.

What can I say? I’m an unrepentant fan. There is no help for me.


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