Tonight's the night!
Rhino Records' annual Rhino Musical Aptitude Test (RMAT) takes place across the country via the Internet and at select Tower Records stores. The top scorers will take home a JVC Home Theatre System with a DVD Audio-Video player, 32-inch TV and a copy of every CD Rhino releases for the rest of your life (or Rhino's, whichever ends first). The RMAT can be taken live on the Internet or at Chicago's Tower Records (2301 N. Clark St.). Check the Web for more at www.rhino.com/rmat/
Speaking of Rhino, the premier re-release/reissue label has just unleashed two new box sets …The Gram Parsons Anthology captures 46 songs on a double CD that spans the country rock songwriter's entire career. During his influential life, Parsons was a member of the International Submarine Band, The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers. All of those stints are represented on Disc One of this compilation, while Disc Two focuses on his solo career which began in 1972 when he began working with newcomer Emmylou Harris. Parsons died a year later at the age of 26 of a heroin overdose, never having scored a Top 40 hit under his own name, but leaving behind a legacy of songs which have continued to influence country rock artists to this day. Rhino has also released a two-CD anthology of Emmylou Harris material. Emmylou Harris Anthology: The Warner/Reprise Years covers her 23 top 10 country singles, including four crossover pop hits of the mid-70s-early '80s: "If I Could Only Win Your Love," "Here, There and Everywhere," "That Lovin' You Feeling Again" (with Roy Orbison) and "Mister Sandman." The anthology also includes B-sides and hard- to-find tracks like the Rodney Crowell-penned "Precious Love."
Whole New You
There are some sections of Shawn Colvin's latest album that don't quite keep the listener's attention — some slower yawn-inducers towards the CD's end. But when Colvin and her songwriting partner John Leventhal hit it right … they are unbeatable. And with their latest collaboration, they've hit it right in several spots — there are some true gems on Whole New You.
It's been five years since Colvin's Grammy-winning breakthrough album A Few Small Repairs and its ubiquitous hit "Sunny Came Home." Since then she has gotten married, had a child and in some ways, had to rediscover herself and her muse to write Whole New You. The journey for her may have been long, but the result is a warm, solid album of gentle ballads and thoughtful lyrics about life and relationships and dreams and characters who yearn for a different life.
Opening with the lilting "A Matter of Minutes," a familiar-sounding Colvin track, the album then slips into its most infectious song, "Whole New You." The album's title track is an upbeat singalong with a building cheery chorus that ironically supports a lyric that finds the singer musing that everything might be better if you were a whole other you.
"Nothing Like You" is a back porch folky strummer with the simple love message boiled down well: "I have seen a miracle or two/and they're nothing like you."
"Anywhere You Go," again steps up the rhythm a bit for a big chorus with "woo-hoo" backgrounds and another lilting Colvin lyric about following love to the end. "Bonefields" slows it down briefly as she paints portraits of Illinois and Arkansas life.
The album's second best track turns up mid-way through the CD in the piano and guitar anthem "Bound to You," wherein Colvin again sings of love, vows and dedication: "I'm bound to you there's no in-between/like the earth below and the sky of blue are bound to me and you."
The album slips into lower gear for its last third; the character study of "Roger Wilco" is smooth but ultimately forgettable, as is the dreamy "Mr. Levon." It all closes with "I'll Say I'm Sorry Now," a quiet piano hymn both evocative and still as she tenders a precursing apology: "for everything I do/that will tear at you/let me say I'm sorry now."
Whole New You is a gentle love letter to life, and a perfect backdrop for a lazy afternoon or quiet evening of listening and reflection.