review Archive

DVD Review: Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones

Sometimes I cringe a bit when learning that there’s been made a new film purporting to explore a notorious scandal or controversy of the past. There’s a very high likelihood that the story has been played out as far as it can go absent new information, and a nearly as great chance that the film

Album Review: King Solomon Hicks – Harlem

Opening with Leon Russell’s “I’d Rather Be Blind” underscores the point that King Solomon Hicks is no blues purist. His reading of the song – first cut by Freddie King in 1972 on his Russell-produced Texas Cannonball – owes a debt to the kind of blues played by the Mad Dogs and Englishmen aggregation. And

Album Review: Bill Kirchen – The Proper Years

What to make of possible hyperbole? When I read that Bill Kirchen is known as “The Titan of the Telecaster,” I wasn’t at all sure what to think. At first I thought I was wholly unfamiliar with his work. A cursory big of digging reminded me that he was a longtime member of Commander Cody

Album Review: Martin Denny — Exotic Moog

Introduced in the middle 1960s, Dr. Robert A. Moog’s invention – the Moog Modular synthesizer – changed the musical landscape. Groundbreaking releases like Switched on Bach made it plain that the formidable instrument was more than a cold mass of technology, more than a gimmick. But that didn’t stop a rush of artists charging into

Yes’ ‘Drama’ at 40: A Critical Look Back at the Band’s Most Controversial LP

It’s accepted conventional wisdom now that the 1980s were a tough time for progressive rock. The subgenre enjoyed its heyday – commercially and critically – beginning in the very late 1960s and continuing into the mid- to later part of the ‘70s. And while the revisionist notion that punk “killed” prog is wildly overstated –

Ben Folds Five’s Debut at 25

In 1997, Ben Folds Five’s second album, Whatever and Ever Amen took the charts by storm. By ’90s measures as unlikely an act as could be imagined, the North Carolina-based group succeeded with a piano-led (and guitar-free) approach at the height of the grunge era. The band’s second full-length was buoyed on the strength of

Album Review: Big Bill Broonzy — The Midnight Special

Big Bill Broonzy’s musical influence is incalculable. And even though he recorded prolifically, a new archival release is an important addition to his body of work. A solo acoustic performance, Midnight Special: Live in Nottingham 1957 showcases Broonzy’s myriad assets. Foremost among those are his fine and expressive voice, his peerless selection of material, his

Album Review: ‘Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones’ Soundtrack

There are at least three categories of film soundtrack albums. One is a collection of songs, scores, cues and the like, often by a single composer/artist, music created expressly for a film or television show. Another is what my esteemed colleague Derrick Bang (author of the new two-volume book series on Crime and Spy Jazz)

Album Review: Various Artists — Saving for a Custom Van

Grammy Award-winner Adam Schlesinger died on April 1 of complications from COVID-19. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist gained fame for his work as a member of power pop band Fountains of Wayne, indie pop combo Ivy and other projects. He also wrote music for other artists and for television and films. Among his most celebrated

Book Review: Eddie Floyd with Tony Fletcher — Knock! Knock! Knock! on Wood

Eddie Floyd is best known for his 1966 hit single, “Knock on Wood.” Backed by the Stax band Booker T & the MGs, Floyd delivered a powerful, soulful and highly memorable performance, one that earned him a place in soul music history. He did a lot more of note before and after, though: he was