Home / New Album Releases, 5-1-2007: Tori Amos, Joan Armatrading, Warren Zevon, Rush

New Album Releases, 5-1-2007: Tori Amos, Joan Armatrading, Warren Zevon, Rush

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Among several promising new releases this week, cool people are most excited about Tori Amos and her American Doll Posse. I'm a sucker for this freaky preacher's kid, but you have to take her with a grain of salt. On the one hand, she wrote "Crucify" and "God" and "Spark." On the other hand, she doesn't seem to put much stock in basic pop music communication, and tends to become willfully obscure musically and lyrically to the point of disappearing up her own belly button with records that can't mean much to anyone but herself.

This album apparently is supposed to be some kind of a concept album voiced by no less than five alter egos, her doll posse. There are apparently separate MySpace pages and blogs for each character. This is just the kind of arcane foolishness that has frequently overwhelmed her great talents as an actual songwriter and musician. On the other hand, a song title like "Fat Slut" promises the more direct attack that might likely result in a fine song. I'm just saying, a good hook and a comprehensible lyrical point will do you more good than a MySpace blog for "Pip" or "Isabel."

young Tori AmosPlus, she's got some properly disdainful liberal political commentary in tracks like the opening "Yo George." "Is this just the madness of King George/You have the whole nation on all fours." One need not hear the musical execution of a disrespectful and condescending denunciation of Chimpy McHitler such as this to see that it's obviously an Important Artistic Statement.

Joan Armatrading has written a lot of great songs over the years, though she's never sold near the records that an obvious impersonator like Tracy Chapman has. Ms Armatrading is generally considered some range of a singer-songwriter type, but the new Into the Blues is just that – featuring her electric blues guitar playing on 13 original compositions.

Warren Zevon walking in a hazeWarren Zevon has a new album of recently re-discovered 30 year old song demos called Preludes. About half of them appear to be solo piano performances, and half of them full band arrangements. This album sounds particularly promising on a couple of levels. For starters, there are at least a half dozen song titles here that I don't recognize.

Beyond that, Zevon's songs were not necessarily served that well in the early years by the slick Jackson Browne LA studio production sound. I've been digging on the re-mastered Stand in the Fire live album lately, and it strikes me that nearly every one of those performances is stronger than the more well known album version.

Rush has a new album called Snakes & Arrows. In theory, I want to like Rush more than I do, but after about 1981 all their albums sound alike to me. But what do I know? This album is currently #2 at Amazon.

In the way of re-issues, there are a couple of new Elvis Costello compilations on Hip-O records. The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years is a pretty good basic 22 song collection, though there's little obvious reason why an established fan would buy it. If you were looking for an intro to Elvis collection for an Elvis newbie, I'd recommend the DVD compilation The Right Spectacle.

Then there's the Rock and Roll Music album. The idea of a good Elvis Costello ROCK collection is, broadly, an outstanding idea. But the selection of songs is somewhat weak in the song quality, and on top of that not a particularly "rockin" selection. "Clean Money" or "Honey Are You Straight or Are You Blind?" are just not among his better songs. "Tiny Steps" is a good song, but not particularly a good example of "ROCK." Plus, they somehow managed NOT to pick his most classic and famous punk rockin' gesture "Radio Radio." Seems like that'd have to be Ground Zero for such a thing.

Here's the complete list of this week's major new album releases, courtesy AMG:

Michael Buble Call Me Irresponsible 143/Reprise
Vocal Jazz, Adult Contemporary, Traditional Pop

Dinosaur Jr. Beyond Play It Again Sam
Indie Rock

Feist The Reminder Cherry Tree/Interscope
Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative Pop/Rock

Miranda Lambert Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Sony
Contemporary Country, Country-Pop, Traditional Country

A Plus My Last Good Deed Hieroglyphics Imperium
Alternative Rap, West Coast Rap, Underground Rap

ALO Roses & Clover Brushfire
Jam Bands

Dave Alvin Live from Austin TX New West
Heartland Rock, Americana, Roots Rock, Singer/Songwriter

Tori Amos American Doll Posse Epic
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

Joan Armatrading Into the Blues 429
Folk-Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Folk-Pop, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter

Attractive and Popular Money Equals Magic Gold Standard Legends
Indie Rock

Shelley Berman Live at the Improv Varese Sarabande
Standup Comedy

Leonard Bernstein Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; An American in Paris Sony
Modern Orchestral Music

B.R.M.C. Baby 81 RCA
Noise Pop, Indie Rock

Corbin Bleu Another Side Hollywood
Teen Pop, Dance-Pop, Urban

Elvis Costello's infamous 1977 SNL performanceElvis Costello The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years Hip-O
College Rock, British Punk, Pub Rock, New Wave, Punk, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Pop/Rock, Singer/Songwriter

Elvis Costello Rock and Roll Music Hip-O
College Rock, British Punk, Pub Rock, New Wave, Punk, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Pop/Rock

Tadd Dameron with John Coltrane Mating Call Prestige/OJC

Booker Ervin Freedom Book Prestige/OJC
Hard Bop, Post-Bop

The Fall of Troy Manipulator Equal Vision
Post-Hardcore, Progressive Metal

Frog Eyes Tears of the Valedictorian Absolutely Kosher
Indie Rock, Post-Punk, Post-Rock/Experimental

Robbie Fulks Revenge Yep Roc
Alternative Country, Singer/Songwriter, Neo-Traditionalist Country, Neo-Traditional Folk, Roots Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

Glenn Gould Bach: Italian Concerto; Partitas Nos. 1 & 2; etc. Sony
Baroque Keyboard Music

Randall Hall Neither Proud Nor Ashamed: New Music for Saxophone Innova
Contemporary Music for Saxophone

Harumi Harumi Fall Out
Psychedelic Pop, Psychedelic

Ari Hest The Break-In Columbia/Red Ink
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter

Angelique Kidjo Djin Djin Razor & Tie
Contemporary Reggae, Afro-Pop, Afro-Beat, Worldbeat, Club/Dance, World Fusion

Kimberley Locke Based on a True Story Curb
Adult Contemporary, Pop/Rock

Ne-Yo Because of You Def Jam

Andres Segovia The Best of Andres Segovia Hip-O
Baroque, Post-Romantic and Modern Music for Guitar

US Army Chorus Songs of the Soldier: 26 Time Honored Classics Altissimo
Military Music for Chorus and Band

Original Soundtrack Dirty Dancing [20th Anniversary Edition] RCA/Legacy
Soundtracks, Brill Building Pop, Girl Group, Pop/Rock, Doo Wop, Soft Rock, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Rock & Roll, R&B, Soul

Original Soundtrack Spider-Man 3: Music from and Inspired By Warner Bros.
Emo, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Soundtracks, Alternative Pop/Rock

Pentangle The Time Has Come Castle
British Folk-Rock, British Folk, Folk-Rock

Puppini Sisters Betcha Bottom Dollar Verve
Harmony Vocal Group, Vocal Pop, Alternative Pop/Rock

Rush Snakes & Arrows Atlantic
Album Rock, Prog-Rock/Art Rock, Hard Rock, Arena Rock

Blake Shelton Pure BS Warner Bros.
Contemporary Country, Country-Rock

Larry Sparks The Last Suit You Wear McCoury
Contemporary Bluegrass, Traditional Bluegrass

Various Artists High School Musical: The Concert Walt Disney
Teen Pop, Television Music, Soundtracks

Various Artists World Circuit Presents [Nonesuch] Nonesuch/World Circuit
Pan-Global, Aboriginal Folk, Cha-Cha, Afro-Brazilian, African Folk, Son, Bolero, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Rhumba, Afro-Cuban, Mambo, Afro-Pop, Mbira, Salsa, Ethnic Fusion

Patrick Wolf The Magic Position Low Altitude
Indie Rock

Warren Zevon Preludes New West
Singer/Songwriter, Album Rock, Pop/Rock, Hard Rock

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  • Mat Brewster

    “Self-promotion and links to one’s own site(s) is not allowed.”
    -Blogcritics Policy

    Glad to see everybody follows the rules.

  • Dear Mat- I’ve got a big site with a lot of relevant stuff. Folks interested in Tori Amos, for example, might likely be interested in my related essays and photo galleries.

    On the other hand, some punk ass hata with no website that anyone would give a rat’s ass about probably should not be wasting time and server space with the keystrokes to put in worthless links – or stories, for that matter.

  • “Self-promotion and links to one’s own site(s) is not allowed.”
    -Blogcritics Policy

    Um, what the hell is the point of Blogcritics if we aren’t allowed to point to things on our own blogs? That might just be one of the dumbest rules I’ve seen on BC.

  • Eric Olsen

    The policy is against gratuitous self-linking and promotion – the issue is balance and reasonableness.

    Every writer is promoting him/herself with every article they write for BC. Please recall that every story has two automatic links links back to the writer’s site, plus however many links they put in their author’s bio – so in Al’s case there are 7 links back to his site in every article. He is hardly link deprived.

    I would say, though, that if a writer hosts pics on his/her own site, there is certainly nothing wrong with linking the pics back to the site – such as a a pic hosting site as Flickr requires. In addition, readers interested in these artists may very well be interested in Al’s galleries of those artists, further justifying the pic links.

  • Mat Brewster

    I’m confused on the policy then. It explicitly states that linking directly back to your blog in the article content is verboten. It also states that more than three links in the author bio is forbidden.

    Yet Al routinely breaks these rules and gets away with it.

    My problem isn’t so much with the links, but that certain people seem to be able to break them and nothing is said or done about it.

    I realize there is a difference in linking back to your blog blindly, and linking to something quasi-relevant to the article at hand, but this difference is not stated in the policy.

  • Brother Olsen- Thank you for that clarification and amplification. I try to provide useful value in links to any website. Mr Brewster is either practicing for a law degree with his curious hata’s antipathy to links in my story, or he’s really not got much to do with his time.

    Since he’s so interested in requiring justification of my links, I’ll note that each of the photos link to artist archives. The Warren Zevon section includes several essays and 100 photos. The Tori Amos link includes three essays and 50 photos. The Elvis Costello link will get you two dozen+ essays and about 200 photos.

    And thanks for asking.

  • What is the song Fat Slut about?