Silver Moons

The Pop & Jazz blog

Bowie’s 70th

His departure is still fresh, his afterglow yet vivid. To Bowie!

8 January 2017

Music of 2014

Last year’s release roster reads like a Tower Records marquee from 30 years ago: Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Suzanne Vega, Bryan Ferry, Jackson Browne, Chick Corea, Annie Lennox, U2, Robert Plant—even Pink Floyd. While only a few of these folks crested my top songs, most of their albums merit listening. I remain tickled that so many are sustaining their creative powers for so long. The artists here are like old friends, people I’ve grown up listening to. Some are peers—people I’ve followed with interest, comparing our responses to life as it unfolds. One is an actual friend. Some, of course, are much younger than me (Taylor Swift, Ben Howard, others). I don’t listen with age in mind, but it’s interesting to note, in part because it sheds light on why there’s so much music being made. People get going and they don’t stop! We never had an inkling that this would be the case in rock ‘n’ roll, despite living examples from jazz and classical music.

New music continues to be refashioned from styles of yore. Meghan Trainor’s smash hit “All About That Bass” resembles nothing so much as ’50s girl pop (lyrics excepted!), and “Wolverine Blues” from Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein channels the carefree spirit of horn music from the 1920s. Performance chops are in far greater supply than compositional sparks, making cover songs more appealing every day. Singing talents like Usher and Jennifer Hudson languish for want of material. There’s no shortage of heartfelt, but relatively few people are writing lyrics that speak to me. We have craftspeople who use colorful words, find interesting rhymes, and get their meters right—gifted wordsmiths who know how to fit words to music. But where are the musical poets who start the conversation on different terms, inspiring our lives and calling our tears? Several are among the folks who made my list.

The Best Songs of 2014 from PopAndJazz on 8tracks Radio.

20 July 2015

50—no, make that 100—albums from 1985 that still sound great

CockRobinThe singles-oriented UK weekly New Music Express recently published a compelling list of 50 albums released in 1985 that still sound great today. They nailed most, but far from all, of what I regard as “the biggies” of that fertile year. Without pausing at NME‘s head scratchers, here’s another 50, in no particular order. Let’s make it an even hundred.

Cock Robin (Cock Robin)
Strength (The Alarm)
Fine Young Cannibals (Fine Young Cannibals)
That’s Why I’m Here (James Taylor)
Welcome to the Real World (Mr. Mister)
White City: A Novel (Pete Townshend)
Brother Where You Bound (Supertramp)
Music from the Film Birdy (Peter Gabriel)
Aerial Boundaries (Michael Hedges)
Fables (Jean-Luc Ponty)

Hybrid (Michael Brook)
Power Windows (Rush)
Flaunt the Imperfection (China Crisis)
The Small Price of a Bicycle (The Icicle Works)
Song X (Pat Metheny)
Black Codes (From the Underground) (Wynton Marsalis)
Listen Like Thieves (INXS)
Silvertone (Chris Isaak)
Be Yourself Tonight (Eurythmics)
High Country Snows (Dan Fogelberg)

Macalla (Clannad)
Go West (Go West)
Lone Justice (Lone Justice)
Shaken ‘n’ Stirred (Robert Plant)
Picture Book (Simply Red)
Mosaic (Mark Egan)
Flags (Patrick Moraz & Bill Bruford)
No Rest for the Wicked (New Model Army)
Voices (Roger Eno)
Soul to Soul (Stevie Ray Vaughan)

The Rhythmatist (Stewart Copeland)
Beat Hotel (The Bongos)
Visions of Excess (The Golden Palominos)
Play Deep (The Outfield)
Heyday (The Church)
Open the Door (Pentangle)
Under a Raging Moon (Roger Daltrey)
Good Morning Kiss (Carmen Lundy)
Dangerous Moments (Martin Briley)
Tales of the New West (The Beat Farmers)

Vocalese (The Manhattan Transfer)
25 O’Clock (The Dukes of Stratosphear)
Most of the Girls Like To Dance… (Don Dixon)
The Pink Opaque (Cocteau Twins)
Cielo e Terra (Al di Meola)
The Power Station (The Power Station)
The Dream of the Blue Turtles (Sting)
The Speckless Sky (Jane Siberry)
Across a Crowded Room (Richard Thompson)
Meets the Mothers of Prevention (Frank Zappa)

19 February 2015