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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments

Neil Young's 1980's country music phase wasn't appreciated by his record label at the time but the fans accepted it, certainly more than they did what came previously: dips into computer music (Trans) and Rockabilly (Everybody's Rockin'), which was digitally recorded. Somehow digital recording and Rockabilly don't go together but it took Neil a while to figure that out. And that Rockabilly record had Neil in an odd mood. Read his biography "Shakey" and it was clearly a difficult time in his life.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 0 comments

Street playing string bands played some of the best music I heard at this year's SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. The Carolina Chocolate Drops out of Durham, North Carolina are one of the few African-American string bands plying the trade today. The trio plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, harmonica, bones (yes, bones) and other traditional instruments on this 10"  four tune EP. The group had a Grammy Award® winning album for "best traditional folk album" with their 2010 CD release "Genuine Negro Jig" also on Nonesuch.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments

The late New York Times rock critic Robert Palmer once wrote a Billy Joel review that was so scathing, so mean, so nasty and couched in personal terms, that even I, a fellow Billy Joel detractor (perhaps even a "hater" back then), cringed with embarrassment.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments

It's easy to imagine a generation of young guitar students wearing out the grooves of this set of  "urban instrumental surf music."

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments

A Ken Burns ten part PBS special will project itself onto your inner movie screen as Pat Conte plays on 19th century fiddle and banjo and occasionally vocalizes a set of old American tunes the accompanying press release describes as "old-time, primitive blues and archaic songs...". 

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments

The music made by the Australian group Dead Can Dance during their seventeen year existence resembled soundtracks to imaginary movies. The core duo of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, who were also an item at the time, moved to the U.K. a year after the group's founding in 1981. They issued their first album on 4AD in 1984. 

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 0 comments

This review was but a few words from being finished and a fumbling finger destroyed the whole thing. I hate when that happens! I'm not going to try to reproduce it. Too painful. So let me summarize what I'd written: yes The Four Tops and the other Motown acts were slick and aimed at white America, and the Chess stuff was much hipper, but this was great pop stuff nonetheless.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments

The iconoclastic singer Harry Nilsson lived hard and mostly sang softly. His Los Angeles debauchery with his pal John Lennon and the resulting outcast behavior including being tossed with Lennon from The Troubadour for heckling The Smothers Brothers is well known, as are many of the songs he wrote, including "One" covered by  Three Dog Night and "Cuddly Toy" covered by The Monkees.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments

The prolific, smoky-voiced Irish folk/rock singer Eleanor McEvoy has had an almost twenty year recording career, first on major labels, where she enjoyed mainstream success but after getting caught in an excess of red tape, she extricated herself and began recording for independents.  

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments

No one before sang quite like Stevie Wonder  does on this groundbreaking album, but everyone did afterwards. Wonder's tonality and phrasing on Talking Book were breakthroughs in soul/pop vocalizing.

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