Cratedigger: The Beach Boys, "Surf's Up"

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Considering my favorite Beach Boys album is a daunting task. Of course there’s the monolithic Pet Sounds, standing out there in the field, towering above everything else. So let’s just put that aside for awhile. What inevitably happens is that my choice changes from time to time. The Beach Boys Today, Sunflower, and Holland have all been favorites at one time or another. Lately I’ve started to reconsider the virtues of Surf’s Up, which was released by Reprise on the Beach Boys’ Brother Records imprint in 1971.

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Cratedigger: The Beach Boys - "Surf's Up" | Popdose
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Popdose 2010: Ken Shane's Top Albums of the Year

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It’s no secret that people love lists. That’s why you see so many blogs and traditional media outlets deploying them, especially at this time of the year. What is perhaps a bit less well known is that people like making lists too. That’s why you’ve seen a number of my colleagues at Popdose posting their personal picks this week, in addition to the overall Top Albums of the Year list that will appear tomorrow. I am certainly no exception. I look forward to presenting my year-end picks.

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Popdose 2010: Ken Shane's Top Albums of the Year | Popdose
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CD Review: Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, "III/IV"

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III/IV (PaxAm) is the fifth studio album by Ryan Adams & the Cardinals. It comes by its title as a result of the fact that it was recorded during the same 2006 sessions that yielded Easy Tiger (which was recorded with the Cardinals but billed as a solo album). Had the double album been released at the time it would have been the band’s third and fourth albums. The sessions, which were scheduled to take two weeks, ended up going on for six months and produced some 60 tracks, most of which have been languishing in the vault until now. Why these songs did not see the light of day at the time remains a mystery, but Adams is nothing if not enigmatic. He is also one of the most prolific and talented songwriters of the decade, and III/IV is his masterpiece.

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CD Review: Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, "III/IV" | Popdose
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Soul Serenade: Sly & the Family Stone, "Stand"

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When “Everyday People” raced to the top of the pop and R&B charts in late 1968, it became incumbent on Sly & the Family Stone to come up with a great album. That is exactly what they did. Stand!, the band’s fourth album, would turn out the be the breakthrough that they had been looking for. The album was released by Epic Records on May 3, 1969, and reached #13 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart, and #3 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart.

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Soul Serenade: Sly & the Family Stone, "Stand" | Popdose
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Cratedigger: The Young Rascals, "The Young Rascals"

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When I was a kid, one of the highlights of the year was the family trip to a Catskill Mountains resort for a week of fun in the snow, eating, relaxation, eating, entertainment, eating … you get the idea. It seems like we never went to the same resort twice, but I liked them all. The big climax to the week was a Saturday evening nightclub show that featured some of the top names in showbiz. That usually meant comedienne Totie Fields, who seemed to follow us from resort to resort, and was inevitably the Saturday night headliner every year. I didn’t care. She was funny. I was even more interested in the dance teams that would open the show. The thing that they all had in common is that the female partner would go into the wings after each number, and emerge with one less piece of clothing on.

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Cratedigger: The Young Rascals, "The Young Rascals" | Popdose
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CD Review: Black Dub, "Black Dub"

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A few months back, word began to spread about a new Daniel Lanois project called Black Dub. I first became aware of the band when Lanois and singer Trixie Whitley appeared on the Ron and Fez show on SiriusXM and played a couple of songs, including an unforgettable acoustic version of the stunningly soulful “Surely.” A little bit of research revealed several powerful YouTube videos of the band shot live in Lanois’ LA studio. At that point, there was some vague talk of an album, and although it took awhile to get here the self-titled Black Dub album (Jive Records) is here, and it was well worth the wait.

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CD Review: Black Dub, "Black Dub" | Popdose
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Cratedigger: The Blues Project, "Projections"

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Last Saturday I attended the WFMU Record Fair in New York City. The annual show is something of a “don’t miss” for record collectors, particularly those of the vinyl persuasion. People come from all over the country, and fly in from other parts of the world, to attend the three-day show. This is cratedigging at its best, and you wouldn’t believe that prices that some records fetch.
My main goal this year was to start building up my collection of 45s again. Once upon a time I had a glorious collection which has seemed to disappear into thin air over the years. I’ve still got a bunch of good singles from the late ’70s – early ’80s, the Clash, Sex Pistols, etc., but I had my eye on ’60s music this year. So I journeyed into New York City, want list in hand.


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Cratedigger: The Blues Project, "Projections" | Popdose
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CD Review: Richard and Linda Thompson, "Shoot Out the Lights (Deluxe Edition)"


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Shoot Out the Lights became a legendary album not just on the basis of the brilliant music it contained, but for the circumstances that surrounded its creation. For years popular opinion has held that it was an album recorded by a couple in the throes of the disintegration of their relationship. The facts that some of the songs were several years old at the time of the recording, and that Linda Thompson was very much pregnant during the recording sessions do nothing to dispel the myth, and indeed if you listen to these songs with that myth in mind, you can make quite a case for marital discord.

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CD Review: Richard and Linda Thompson, "Shoot Out the Lights" (Deluxe Edition) | Popdose
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CD Review: War On Drugs, "Future Weather"

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There is nothing pristine about the new (12″ vinyl or digital download only) War On Drugs EP,
Future Weather (Secretly Canadian). No one will be winning awards for audio recording. In fact, it’s a bit of a mess. But it’s one of those messes that manages to perfectly reflect the times that produced it.
Even calling it an EP is not quite correct. Yes, there are just eight songs, and the whole thing clocks in at less than 30 minutes, but there is a cohesiveness at work here that is not usually found on EPs. The Dylan comparisons are both valid, and too easy. If War On Drugs sounds like Dylan, it’s Dylan funneled through some sort of narcotic haze.


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CD Review: War On Drugs, "Future Weather" | Popdose
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CD Review: Bob Dylan, "The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 - The Witmark Demos"


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In January, 1961, Bob Dylan arrived, unknown, in New York City. It wasn’t long before he was making the rounds of the “basket houses” (so called because the performers earned whatever they could collect in baskets that were passed around) of Greenwich Village. Things really got started for Dylan when NY Times music critic Robert Shelton wrote a positive review of a September Dylan performance at Gerde’s Folk City.

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CD Review: Bob Dylan, "The Bootleg Series Volume 9 - The Witmark Demos" | Popdose
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Blu-ray Review: The Rolling Stones, "Ladies and Gentlemen the Rolling Stones"

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Considering that the Rolling Stones aren’t touring, and that there has been no new music from them recently, 2010 has turned out to be a pretty big year for Stones fans. Earlier this year, we got a splendid reissue of what is arguably the band’s best album,
Exile On Main Street, complete with 10 previously unreleased tracks. Then in June we got Stones In Exile, a terrific documentary about the making of Exile. Now Eagle Rock Entertainment has released the final piece of the puzzle, the thoroughly captivating Ladies & Gentlemen the Rolling Stones.

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Blu-ray Review: The Rolling Stones, "Ladies & Gentlemen the Rolling Stones" | Popdose
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CD Review: Angie Mattson, "Skeleton Arm" | Popdose

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Let’s face it, being the opening act on a show is a pretty thankless job. Yes, it does give an artist an opportunity to reach an audience that she otherwise could not reach, but more often than not, that audience doesn’t care to listen. It’s rare indeed when an opening act manages to cut through the ennui (and sometimes outright hostility) and impress an audience. So a couple of years ago when I went to Atlantic City to see Justin Currie on his first solo US tour a couple, I really had no expectations, and even less interest in the opening act, a singer/songwriter by the name of Angie Mattson. As you’ve probably figured out by now, it turned out to be one of those rare nights. Mattson delivered a memorable set under difficult circumstances, and made a bunch of new fans.

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CD Review: Angie Mattson, "Skeleton Arm" | Popdose http://popdose.com/cd-review-angie-mattson-skeleton-arm

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John Lennon: Real Love, The Artist At 70 | Popdose

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John Lennon would have been 70 years old today. It’s been nearly 30 years since his tragic death in New York City, and the world continues to mourn his loss. Some of the Popdose staff has gathered together to pay tribute to the man who meant so much to us.

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John Lennon: Real Love, The Artist at 70 | Popdose http://popdose.com/john-lennon-real-love-the-artist-at-70

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Cratedigger: Ben Folds and Nick Hornby, "Lonely Avenue" | Popdose

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The news of an impending collaboration between indie music darling Ben Folds and the acclaimed British novelist Nick Hornby was intriguing to say the least. That collaboration has now resulted in an album called Lonely Avenue, and I’m pleased to report that it more than lives up to expectations.

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Cratedigger: Ben Folds and Nick Hornby, "Lonely Avenue" (Win a Copy!) | Popdose http://popdose.com/cratedigger-ben-folds-and-nick-hornby-lonely-avenue-win-a-copy

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CD Review: Robert Plant, "Band of Joy" | Popdose

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I’ve never been as much of a Led Zeppelin fan as, well, pretty much everyone that I know. Oh sure, there are definitely Zeppelin songs that I like, but that often has more to do with something Jimmy Page plays, or the epic power of John Bonham’s drumming, than it does with Robert Plant’s vocals. There are exceptions. For example, I think that Plant’s vocal performance on the live version of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” from The Song Remains the Same is fantastic. But overall, Robert Plant has never done much for me.

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CD Review: Robert Plant, "Band of Joy" | Popdose http://popdose.com/cd-review-robert-plant-band-of-joy

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CD Review: Crowded House, "Intriguer" | Popdose

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There aren’t many musical events more welcome than a new album from Crowded House. That’s largely because you know what you’re going to get, and I mean that in the best possible way: a collection of finely crafted songs, replete with lovely melodies, wistful, intelligent lyrics, and appealing harmonies. I’m happy to report that Intriguer (Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group) is no exception.

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CD Review: Crowded House, "Intriguer" | Popdose

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CD Review: Alejandro Escovedo, "Street Songs of Love" | Popdose

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I’ll tell you one thing right from the jump; Alejandro Escovedo’s new album, Street Songs of Love (Fantasy/Concord Music Group), may be my favorite album of the year from a production standpoint. Of course one might expect as much when Tony Visconti is in the producer’s chair. Visconti was responsible for albums from a few minor characters called T. Rex, David Bowie, U2, and Morrissey back in the day. He knows a thing or two about how to make electric guitars sound, well, electric. Throw in some cool songs co-written by Escovedo and Chuck Prophet, and guest stints from Ian Hunter and some guy named Springsteen, and you have the makings of something pretty cool.

Read more: CD Review: Alejandro Escovedo, "Street Songs of Love" | Popdose

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Cratedigger: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, "Deja Vu"


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They were called the American Beatles. No one took that too seriously, but for a time they were the biggest band in the world, leaping into the vacuum created by the dissolution of the famous Liverpool quartet. For some, they were the classic supergroup, with four bona fide stars (hey, the Hollies had a lot of hits). For others, they were the personification of rock and roll excess. All of that means nothing to me because I write about music, and when it comes to music, you either have it, or you don’t. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young had it, in spades.

Read more: Cratedigger: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, "Deja Vu" | Popdose

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