I downloaded a few albums this weekend. Im not into buying CDs anymore, and being a member of the Mac cult, the iTunes store is my favorite place to get tunes. Here is what I listened to this weekend:
Bryan Ferry has covered Bob Dylan songs throughout his solo career (e.g. A Hard Rains a-Gonna Fall and Its All Over Now Baby Blue), but never has he done an entire album of Dylan. The title refers less to his style of music than the material performed, but Dylanesque is different from slick productions (Boys and Girls, Taxi), overworked masterpieces (Mamouna), and even eclectic returns to form (Frantic). Vocally, Ferry treats Dylan with his own familiar style instead of copying Dylans, and the music, while low key, is Ferry at his most spontaneous. Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues and All Along The Watchtower evoke Ferrys solo work from the 1970s, while he avoids the typical rock and roll temptations in doing Knockin On Heavens Door and transports the listener. Dylanesque is very fresh mainly because Ferry loves the songs. Definitely worth a second and a third listen.
A Beastie Boys album without the rap. Its hard to imagine, but they pull this one off. To The 5 Boroughs was their love letter to New York, serving up affectionate addresses, pointed satire, and post-9/11 anger with old school hip hop. Here, in The Mix-Up, they forsake odd lyrics and samples, and just jam (an approach done a decade ago with Ill Communication) and they are excellent musicians. No hip hop here, just the Beastie Boys doing their take on music they enjoy very much such as jazz, blues, and bossa nova. Overall, very groovy.
Ive been a longtime fan of Paul Wellers music in its various incarnations: The Jam, The Style Council, and his solo stuff. Ive had Confessions of a Pop Group on LP and CD and now I have a nice digital version of it thanks to some of the Style Councils catalogue being released on iTunes. The artsy, pretentious answer to Wham! in the 1980s, the Style Council predated stylish acts such as the Pet Shop Boys, Saint Etienne, and the Brand New Heavies (Paul Weller plugged them once in a radio interview and thats how I got into them). Like a previous album Our Favourite Shop, Confessions shares the Marxist politics and the blue-eyed soul, R&B groove, but is less pop accessible. Weller and company attempt more sophisticated ballads, funkier grooves, and even 1960s style surf music. However, this is their last full length album, as their post-Confessions Promised Land (very much house music) ultimately killed them. Confessions of A Pop Group holds up to the test of time more than some other Style Council albums, but this is not an album for the casual listener.