Album Review: Explorer Tapes

As someone who follows such things – and as such ought to know better – I nevertheless continue to be amazed whenever I learn about a promising act that recorded an album only to find it shelved. It’s the musical version of that iconic final scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark,

Album Review: Laura Nyro — Trees of the Ages

Laura Nyro was a talent of staggering dimensions. Not only was the New York singer-songwriter possessed of a preternatural ability to write enduing melodies – many of which were hits for other artists – but she was a powerful presence on her own recordings. The controversial and notorious alleged-disaster of a performance at Monterey Pop

Album Review: Mumps — Rock & Roll This, Rock & Roll That

American pop culture consumers of a certain age (aka television viewers) will recall An American Family, a groundbreaking PBS documentary series that first aired in 1973. Setting aside the fact that the program is to blame for the subsequent rise of “reality” (sic and ugh) television, it was nonetheless important in many ways. One of

30 Days Out, August 2021 #2: Peter Holsapple, Jamie Laval, Pop Evil, Free Radio

Asheville is in the process of reasserting its place as a go-to market for intriguing, compelling musical artists. Full-scale national touring is gradually coming back, but for now – with some notable exceptions – regional and local acts tend to dominate the events calendars of our music venues. This edition of 30 Days Out takes

Album Review: Peggy Lee — Something Wonderful

A casual listener might only be able to name “Fever” – and possibly “Is That All There Is” – but Peggy Lee scored a lengthy run of hit singles. The primary arc of her career ran from the early ‘40s (when she was the singer in Benny Goodman’s big band) through 1974, when she hit

Album Reviews: ‘Richard Pryor’ and ‘Craps (After Hours)’

Comedy albums are unique in the album world. Unlike music, for most listeners, they’re a one-and-done affair. You may well have bought Robin Williams’ Reality: What a Concept when it was released in 1979, but if you’re like me, you listened, enjoyed, and then moved on, rarely taking it off the shelf for another spin.

Always Finish What You Started: Van Dyke Parks on ‘Orange Crate Art’ (Part 3 of 3)

Continued from Part Two… Parks recalls a visit to a friend in rural Virginia, nearly 2500 miles due East from southern California. “I went past, Galax, where the Old Fiddlers Convention is held,” Parks remembers. “It inspired me to write ‘My Jeanine,’ [set] in a place that doesn’t exist and a time I haven’t forgotten.”

Always Finish What You Started: Van Dyke Parks on ‘Orange Crate Art’ (Part 1 of 3)

Though he never sought the role – nor does he wear it comfortably – Van Dyke Parks is something of a cult figure in music. An idiosyncratic musical storyteller of all he surveys, remembers and imagines, Parks filters his ideas through a distinctly American sensibility, one that exists resolutely outside of the rock and pop

Hundred-word Reviews: February 2021, Part 3

These five are all archival, reissue and/or compilation releases. There’s even a vinyl release here. Wolfgang Lackerschmid & Chet Baker – Quintet Sessions 1979 I was only recently introduced to the sublime collaborative genius of Lackerschmid and Baker via this release. Now, from the same era, comes this archival release. It’s even better, featuring as

Album Review: Little Richard — The Rill Thing

By the end of the 1960s, it was reasonable to assume that Little Richard’s rock ‘n’ roll career was moribund. Though he was one of music’s most important figures, by 1958 he had forsaken secular music in favor of gospel. And while he would return to rock in the ‘60s, too often he and his