Hurple Hoopla

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Favorites of 2010

Here it is, my annual favorite albums list for 2010. These are in no particular order.

Jason & The Scorchers – Halcyon Times

Yes, with this album making the list, I am probably showing my bias. Still, I am a Tennessee-born, Nashville (the town) loving rocker, and so I have to love these guys. I think it’s a law or something. When I first found out about this album, and the circumstances surrounding it, I was nervous. “There’s no way these guys can make anything as good as they did way back when,” was what I thought… “and without two of the founding members? Pah!” Boy, was I wrong. This is easily Jason and Warner’s best collection of songs since Lost & Found, and the new lineup is an amazing rock ‘n’ roll outfit. Plus, Perry Baggz IS on the album, just not playing drums. I hope this is not the last we hear from these guys. Welcome back, please don’t go away again.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Mojo

Live in the studio = Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at their best. The songs are all good, too.

Elvis Costello - National Ransom

A special message to all those who had given up on Elvis Costello and his music as has-been material: You are all idiots.

Neil Young - Le Noise

Neil Young, an electric guitar, and an attitude. That’s all that’s on this album. That’s all it needs. Thank god for Neil Young.

John Mellencamp - No Better Than This

The sounds of a man travelling through time to his vision of the most important musical achievements of the 20th century. Read about the lengths Mellencamp went to in order to make this album, and be amazed. Then, listen to it and you will realize that he didn’t just recreate a mood, he made music that would have fit in perfectly. An amazing accomplishment. This album, and the one before it “Life, Death, Love, Murder” are career highs for Mellencamp. He’s never made better music.

The Black Keys - Brothers

I discovered this band with this album. Well, this is the first album I listened to from them, anyway. I actually discovered them while visiting my family in Tennessee over the summer. I walked down into the basement where my brother was watching a live DVD from the band and liked what little I saw of that enough to check out this album. It’s just all-around good stuff.

Los Lobos - Tin Can Trust

To me, just about anything this band records will make this list. This album is no different. Just an all-around great band making great music.

Southern Culture On The Skids - Kudzu Ranch

This is, I think the most fun SCOTS have been for an entire album. And that’s why you listen to SCOTS, to have fun.

Carolina Chocolate Drops - Genuine Negro Jig

I don’t remember how I discovered these guys. But, I am glad I did. This is the most honest, heartfelt and real “old time” music being made today. And the subtext of an all-African-American band playing these songs, and reclaiming the heritage of the origins of this type of music strikes a much needed social message. I can’t wait for their next album, and the one after that… And the one after that…

Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

I have never seen a crowd pogo to folk music, until I witnessed this band’s performance at Bonnaroo this past summer*. Powerful songs performed by a powerful band. Plus, I am amazed at how well this album has done on the charts. It’s always nice to see a deserving artist get the recognition they deserve.

Honorable Mentions:

The Avett Brothers - Live, Volume 3

Richard Thompson - Dream Attic

The Black Crowes - Croweology

Plus, here’s my favorite reissues of the past year:

Bob Dylan - Witmark Demos

What a pleasure to hear Dylan in all his early ragged glory.

The Promise – Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen’s cast-offs are better than most people’s major statements. Amazing.

The Who - Live At Leeds (Super Deluxe Edition)

Whenever a new prime-period Who concert surfaces it’s a revelation. After hearing the Leeds and the following night’s Hull shows back to back, I have to ask, “how could anybody play in a band in front of Keith Moon?”

Live At Hollywood High – Elvis Costello

Prime period Elvis Costello, pissed off at the world and naming names. Post-punk in all it’s glory.

On The Rural Route 7609 – John Mellencamp

Everything here is great… except the price.

The John Lennon Signature Box

I wrote all about this here

The Badfinger Remasters (Magic Christian Music, No Dice, Straight Up, Ass)

The most tragic story in rock ‘n’ roll history has got to be the story of this band. Here, though, are the Apple albums in all their Beatle-esque glory. Badfinger were a great band, and there’s more great music on these 4 discs than just about any other 4 disc collection that you could name. And, No Dice and Straight Up are two of the greatest albums in rock history. The sonics have been greatly improved from the 90’s CD releases of these albums, and so have the bonus tracks.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


That is it! I am done!

Obama breaks another promise; rich will get their tax breaks

This is ridiculous! I mean if I had wanted republican policies from the President, I would have voted for the republican! And so would have everybody else!

I give up. I am through offering support to this White House. If they can't stand up for this, then they have no backbone at all. I will not vote for Barak Obama again. If the only choices are him and a republican, I'll stay home.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Deluxe Edition

So, what’s with the recent trend with such horrible quality archival releases on CD recently?

Let me explain the question. Over the past few weeks I’ve gotten the following archival “Deluxe Edition” CDs, with a short explanation of what’s “bad” about them.

Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run – While the bonus tracks are nice, there’s only 9, 5 of which have been previously released (and the other 4 have Linda mixed loud enough to hear her off-key warbling, so that’s not good either). But it’s being released as a 2 CD set, and a “Deluxe” set at that, even though all 18 songs will fit on one disc and still leave over 5 minutes of room. I mean, if you have the space… USE it! Or don’t. Just don’t waste a second disc when everything fits on one. Oh, and they really frakked the edit between “No Words” and “Picasso’s Last Words.” I mean, wow, what was a nice seamless edit is suddenly horribly… off. Do they not have quality control anymore? Did nobody listen to the album before marking it “fini?”

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Damn The Torpedos – Same problem as the McCartney set. Good bonus material, but only a few items we’ve not heard before, and definitely not enough to use up a second disc. I’ve not listened to this one yet, but I bet it suffers from loudness issues (the McCartney did too) just from knowing what Petty thinks about the issue from interviews with him over the past few years. The CD will be mixed too loud, but the Blu-Ray version will be mixed “Audiophile.” OK, I’ve lestened to some of it now. It is mixed loud… and it also has some bad edits between tracks. What the…? Are they not getting people to check the tracking on these things before marking the project complete? What’s happening is that the mark between tracks is off, so that the previous song is not completely faded out before the player jumps to the next track..

The Monkees – Head – This is a Rhino Handmade, which means very limited edition, and expensive. This is the one that probably ticks me off the most. 3 discs, $60. One of the discs wasted on a 1968 radio interview with Davy Jones. That’s fine for a freebie bonus disc, but making me pay $20 for it as part of the set? Pah! Then there’s the fact that it’s Davy… the least interesting of the 4 guys. Ha! But, there’s also an issue with the extra cuts. We get the original album in stereo, and mono, then an “alternate version” of the album in stereo, and an “alternate mix” of the album in mono. That’s pretty much it. The only other extra is the “concert” that was filmed for the “Circle Sky” performance in the movie. That’s just 3 songs and the filmmakers getting specific reaction shots. Do we need 15 minutes of, audio only, a guy saying, “now let’s have everybody scream!” or, “Now, just this section, scream!”

Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out The Lights – Another Rhino Handmade, this one just 2-disc and $40. Here’s my complaints about it. Disc 1 contains the original album, and nothing more. The original album is only 38 minutes long. And, every previous CD release of the album has had a bonus cut, “Living In Luxury,” that is not on the “Deluxe Edition,” at all, even on the 2nd disc. The 2nd disc is a 1982 live concert from Richard & Linda Thompson, one of the last they ever did together, before their divorce. So that’s nice to have and all, but where’s the missing song? ARGH!

Which reminds me, I have similar complaints with the recent Badfinger reissues. It’s nice to have them sounding better, and the new bonus tracks are great… But, they are completely different bonus tracks from the original CD releases of the albums, and those old bonus cuts are nowhere to be found in the new slate of reissues.

Okay. I am done whining now.