A couple of weeks ago, I made my shot at "picking the Grammys."
Overall, I did pretty well – correctly picking about 50 percent (not bad since each category had five or six choices). While I was amazed that the Grammy voters thought Steely Dan was still a force in pop music (demonstrating a clear age-gap in the active voters of the Academy and what's really going on in music today — I got two e-mails the next day asking me who they were!) I was unsurprised when U2, Eminem and Faith Hill took more than one category. The final results (compared with my picks) are now online.
The soundtrack for the Keanu Reeves/Charlize Theron romance Sweet November is on the shelves. The Warner Sunset/Reprise soundtrack opens with "Cellophane," a contemplative rock song from Amanda Ghost's excellent debut album and continues with a typically airy Enya song "Only Time," a moody Depeche Mode-style track from bt in "Shame" and a new Stevie Nicks track, "Touched By an Angel." Paula Cole and Dolly Parton pair up to duet on the new delicately strummed, Cole-penned ballad "Heart Door," and k. d. lang, Barenaked Ladies and Robbie Williams also contribute tracks, ("Off the Hook" and "Rock DJ," respectively). There are also classics from Jackie Wilson ("Baby Work Out") and Bobby Darin ("The Other Half of Me").
While the movie Valentine may sound like it should have a romantic soundtrack, this horror movie is loaded with hard rockin' techno-based music. The Warner Sunset soundtrack includes a remix of Rob Zombie's "Superbeast" and the "Voodoo Mix" of Static-X's "Love Dump," along with Marilyn Manson's "Valentine's Day." The disc also includes Amanda Ghost's pounding "Filthy Mind," Snake River Conspiracy's "Breed," Orgy's "Opticon," Deftones' "RX Queen," and tracks from Linkin Park, bt, Soulfly, Filter and more.
Columbia's Legacy label continues its American Milestones series of reissues with Rodney Crowell's 1988 breakthrough album Diamonds & Dirt. This classic rockabilly/country roots album contained "She's Crazy For Leaving and "After All This Time," as well as his duet with then-wife Roseanne Cash, "It's Such a Small World.". The disc also included backing musicianship from future stars Vince Gill and Mark O'Connor. The reissue includes three bonus tracks as well – "I've Got My Pride But I Got To Feed The Kids," "It's Lonely Out," and "Lies Don't Lie."
Warner Bros. and Rhino Records go the reissue trail one better and have released a Deluxe Edition of Alice Cooper's seminal Billion Dollar Babies LP on CD. This 1973 disc features one of his signature tracks, "No More Mr. Nice Guy," along with the title track, "Elected," "Hello, Hooray," and "Generation Landslide." The new Deluxe version also includes a second CD filled with live recordings from 1973 concerts, and a couple of studio outtakes. Included on the live disc are nearly all the songs from Billion Dollar Babies (including "Sick Things," and "I Love The Dead,") as well as his first hit, "Eighteen."
Prefab Sprout never really took off on these shores (they never even charted on the Billboard Top 100). But I remember playing the splendid driving mix of echo, harmonica and picked guitar of "Faron Young" whenever I could 15 years ago on college radio. Now Epic's Legacy label has put together The Collection, a two-CD, 38-song retrospective of the British band led by the smooth silky pipes and songs of Paddy McAloon. You can hear the production style of the '80s (think ABC, Simply Red and the like) in the sheen of the reverb and the snap of the synthesizers throughout these songs. If you missed 'em the first time, this is like a trip to an unremembered, but pleasantly familiar past.
Capitol has released a 34-song set spanning Minnie Riperton's career. Petals, The Minnie Riperton collection, includes her two 1975 hits "Lovin' You" and "Inside My Love," as well as many unreleased performances and rare tracks.
Rhino has released The Very Best of Dr. Demento, spotlighting the quirky, goofy songs that perennially appear on the syndicated Dr. Demento Radio Show. Included are Tom Lehrer's "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park," "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Yoda," Bryan Bowers' "The Scotsman," Barnes & Barnes' "Fish Heads," Hank, Stu, Dave & Hank's "My Dead Dog Rover," Freddie Blassie's "Pencil Neck Geek," Ogden Edsl's "Dead Puppies," Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" and Dr. Demento's own version of "Shaving Cream," along with eight others.
Rolling Stone magazine has connected with Rhino Records to put together a couple of collections. Rolling Stone Presents The '70s California Sound offers a meager 10 tracks, including Fleetwood Mac's "You Make Loving Fun," America's "Ventura Highway," Ambrosia's "How Much I Feel," The Grateful Dead's "Truckin'," Orleans' "Still The One," Firefall's "You Are The Woman" and Pure Prairie League's "Amie," among others.
The 10-track Rolling Stone Presents Classic Rock includes Deep Purple's signature "Smoke On The Water," ZZ Top's "Legs," Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel Like We Do (Live)," Foreigner's "Hot Blooded," Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker," Genesis' "Turn It On Again," and more.
Both discs offer some great, time period-defining tracks. But given the wide subjects, you'd think they could have nearly doubled the song count.