Bruce Springsteen — High Hopes (Columbia) — According to the liner notes, Bruce Springsteen started cobbling together the idea for this collection of re-recorded versions of previously released material and covers during an Australian tour where Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello was subbing for Little Steven Van Zandt.
While diehard fans wishing that Springsteen would go back to the Jersey bar band playbook might be put off, what this represents is a mature artist still willing to take chances. And while the choice of Morello might seem odd given his pedigree as a rap rock innovator, the lefty pro-labor leanings reflected by his Nightwatchmen alter-ego gibes well with the iconic heartland rocker’s blue collar roots.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings — Give the People What They Want (Daptone Records) — Aretha Franklin may be the Queen of the Soul, but Sharon Jones and her Dap-Kings are arguably the keepers of the rhythm and blues flame. One listen to Jones’s fifth album with her crew and it’s hard to argue that point. From the opener “Retreat!” with its Motown cadence, glockenspiel and strident guitar riffs, the Queens resident and her Brooklyn-based compatriots proceed to churn out a steady stream of vibrant soul over the span of a breezy 30-plus minutes. On “You’ll Be Lonely,” Jones issues fair warning over a swampy groove while the echoey harmonies, piquant horn charts and slight touch of tambourine make “Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up and Breaking Up Over Again)” is the perfect soundtrack for reconciliation. Elsewhere, “Long Time, Wrong Time” and “Get Up and Get Out” have the stylistic stamp of Curtis Mayfield and vintage doo-wop all over them respectively. The proceedings are capped off by “Slow Down, Love,” a sultry number that sounds like the love child of Dionne Warwick and the late Isaac Hayes. With Jones currently fighting a battle against pancreatic cancer, we can only hope this is the latest of many more stellar albums by this extremely talented soul shouter.
Buddy Guy – Rhythm & Blues (RCA) — A bridge between the heyday of the ’50s and ’60s Chicago blues scene and subsequent generations of six-string warriors, Buddy Guy began an improbable comeback dating back to 1991’s Damn Right I Got the Blues and continued unabated. For his latest, Guy and producer Tom Hambridge came up with the idea of one disc of R&B and another of blues. The distinction really isn’t all that clear. Instead, what you have here is a showcase for the septuagenarian’s still-impressive fretwork and gritty singing. With a project of this significant scope, it’s no surprise that numerous famous fans lined up to participate albeit with varying results. While piano playing howler Beth Hart more than holds her own on the horn-goosed “What You Gonna Do About Me” and young buck Gary Clark, Jr. is equally impressive on the snappy shuffle “Blues Don’t Care,” Kid Rock’s embarrassingly profane reading of “Messin’ With the Kid,” the signature song by Guy’s late collaborative partner Junior Wells, is flat out embarrassing.
Original Soundtrack — Muscle Shoals (Republic) — Tucked into the top northwest corner of Alabama, Muscle Shoals might just be another quiet burg in the Deep South were it not for the enormous amount of classic music that’s emerged from Rick Hall’s FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios since the late 1950s. Last year’s stellar documentary Muscle Shoals reflected its importance as not only a music scene as vital as anything in Memphis or Detroit, but a place where the creative process was colorblind despite what racial turmoil may have been going on during the studio’s heyday.
Marshall Crenshaw & the Bottle Rockets
@ the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts,
37 W. Main St. 8 p.m. $50, $40.
Call him the pop equivalent of Forrest Gump. In addition to crafting a well-respected solo career that’s found a number of other artists covering his compositions, Marshall Crenshaw’s muse has found his finger in many different pies. He was a member of the road-show version of Beatlemania, played Buddy Holly in La Bamba, authored a number of rock & roll-themed books and toured as a member of DKT/MC5, a band of MC5 survivors. His latest endeavor finds him touring with The Bottle Rockets, a St. Louis outfit whose founding member Brian Henneman was a guitar tech/sideman with y’alternative legends Uncle Tupelo and whose self-titled 1992 debut and 1994 follow-up The Brooklyn Side were recently given the deluxe reissue treatment by Chicago imprint Bloodshot Records.
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