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Home » New Album Releases, 8-7-2007: Peter Case, Billy Joe Shaver, Public Enemy

New Album Releases, 8-7-2007: Peter Case, Billy Joe Shaver, Public Enemy

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There are several interesting possibilities this week, but I can specifically recommend Peter Case's new album Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John. "24 Hours" begins the album with a song that will certainly be on the best of list at the end of the year. This song has some of the best hooks Case has conjured up in awhile, as well as his usual literate lyrics. Besides that though, this song also has the benefit of guest Richard Thompson on guitar and vocals, which really makes this a proper record.

Interestingly though, Thompson's contribution of vocal harmonies on "24 Hours" did even more to benefit the song than his fancy guitar. Thompson's guitar playing is certainly a nice bonus, but Peter Case himself is actually a pretty fair picker. He's mostly got the fancy pickin' covered. But that second voice was really critical in the mix.

Billy Joe Shaver is Everybody's Brother. This album seems to be interested in spiritual themes, with Jesus specifically mentioned by name in three of the songs. This includes "You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ," a duet with Johnny Cash rescued from an old demo. The album was produced by John Jr. I'd be real interested to hear what kind of Jesus songs are coming out of the guy who kicked my ass with "Jesus Christ Is Still the King" just two years ago. I'm particularly interested in that according to this article, Mr Shaver seems to think that the ghost of Johnny actually helped him write the seven-minute epic title song "Everybody's Brother."

Harry Shearer has a new album of Songs Pointed and Pointless. There are not many comedians as musical as Mr Shearer. I'm skeptical about overtly comic records. I so don't care to hear repeatedly about Adam Sandler's red sweatshirt. But Shearer was part of the brain trust for Spinal Tap and the Folksmen. That's another level of art. This might would deserve a listen, then.

For an album called Camp Meeting, I would have expected that Bruce Hornsby was making a gospel album. Turns out that he's going jazz, and fairly hardcore at that. He's taking a stab at Coltrane's "Giant Steps." He's also doing Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser."

James Brown The Singles, Vol. 3: 1964-1965 sounds like something a fellow would need to hear. These 40 songs on two CDs seem to suggest as many as 20 singles in two years. While these are from roughly the peak of his creative power, I know no more than a half dozen of these songs. This sounds intriguing.

I'm not familiar with these recordings, but my eye was caught by a five CD set of early Chet Atkins, and for under $30. The Early Years 1946-1957 sounds pretty interesting.

Public Enemy has a new album, How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul???. Now, they once managed to make one good album, and maybe a couple of worthwhile singles. But, predictably, they years ago devolved into cheesy agit-prop. This dumbass album title pretty well lays out their shtick. Public Enemy are, of course, paragons of soul. You know they are, cause they're black and they're "mad" – though all that mad is an increasingly obvious contrivance.

The PE problem is summed up in this Amazon product description obviously written by some record company flack:

Public Enemy's been pioneers in combining verbal acumen with technological advances, performance artistry and theatricality, thematic integrity and artistic control. In an era where mega-national corporations dominate the marketplace and many rappers prefer being popular to being relevant, Public Enemy remain vibrant and topical. They've also forged and maintained a creative legacy that has a timeless quality, yet gives listeners intricate and compelling slices of life from the various eras in which these songs were conceived. They are not entertainers or performers but scribes and commentators providing insight and information through rhymes and music that has uplifted and still inspires legions of fans.

Well no, they are NOT scribes and commentators, or are so only incidentally. They are, theoretically, musicians. They're making and selling songs, not writing newspaper stories. But in all that gushing PR verbiage, it doesn't even occur to them to say anything about PE being musicians, much less songwriters. That lack of interest in musicianship is the main problem with Public Enemy, and the main reason they don't sell. Those still inspired legions of fans have lifted the album to #4,232 on the Amazon sales chart.

By the way, there's a simple answer to the titular question of this album: Write some real songs.

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

The Brunettes Structure and Cosmetics Sub Pop
Indie Pop

Peter Case Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John Yep Roc
College Rock, Contemporary Folk, Folk-Rock, New Wave, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter

Kat DeLuna 9 Lives Epic
Urban, Club/Dance, Latin Pop

Mirah and Spectratone International Share This Place KLP
Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter

American Brass Quintet Jewels Summit
Music for Brass Quintet

Teodoro Anzellotti Chanson Discrete Winter & Winter
Contemporary Music and Baroque Arrangements for Accordion

Chet Atkins The Early Years 1946-1957 JSP
Finger-Picked Guitar, Country Boogie, Instrumental Country, Nashville Sound/Countrypolitan, Country-Pop, Traditional Country

Andy and the Bey Sisters 'Round Midnight Prestige
Vocal Jazz, Standards, Hard Bop, Soul-Jazz

James Brown The Singles, Vol. 3: 1964-1965 Hip-O Select.Com/Polydor

Billy Burnette/Shawn Camp The Bluegrass Elvises, Vol. 1 Thirty Tigers
Contemporary Country, Country-Pop, Country-Rock

Constantine Constantine 6th Place
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock

Drowning Pool Full Circle Eleven Seven
Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, Post-Grunge

Emerson, Lake & Palmer Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends Sanctuary
Prog-Rock/Art Rock, Album Rock

Ella Fitzgerald & Billie Holiday At Newport Verve
Vocal Jazz, Traditional Pop, Standards, Swing, Ballads, Classic Female Blues, American Popular Song

Ella Fitzgerald Live at the Savoy 1939-40 Hep
Vocal Jazz, Traditional Pop, Standards, Swing, Classic Female Blues

Flight of the Conchords The Distant Future Sub Pop
Comedy Rock

Robben Ford Truth Concord
Modern Electric Blues

Fuel Angels & Devils Epic
Post-Grunge, Alternative Metal

Ezra Furman & the Harpoons Banging Down the Doors Minty Fresh
Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter

Gallon Drunk From the Heart of Town [Bonus Tracks] Sartorial
Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk Blues

Gallon Drunk Tonite… The Singles Bar [Bonus Tracks] Sartorial
Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk Blues

Gallon Drunk You, the Night…and the Music [Bonus Tracks] Sartorial
Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk Blues

Coleman Hawkins At Newport Live Verve Labels
Mainstream Jazz, Bop

Billie Holiday Remixed & Reimagined Legacy
Vocal Jazz

Bruce Hornsby Camp Meeting Sony Legacy

Alan Jackson 16 Biggest Hits Legacy
Neo-Traditionalist Country, New Traditionalist, Contemporary Country

Jennifer Gentle A New Astronomy A Silent Place
Neo-Psychedelia, Indie Rock

Jonas Brothers Jonas Brothers Hollywood
Pop/Rock, Teen Pop

June Make It Blur Victory
Punk-Pop, Alternative Pop/Rock, Emo

Kris Kristofferson 16 Biggest Hits Legacy
Outlaw Country, Singer/Songwriter, Progressive Country, Soft Rock, Country-Rock, Traditional Country

Magnolia Electric Co Sojourner So Hood Records
Alternative Country-Rock, Indie Rock

Pablo Marquez Musica del Delphin ECM
Renaissance Music for Guitar

Marissa Nadler Song 3: Bird on the Water Peacefrog
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

Ksenia Nosikova Lera Auerbach: Flight and Fire Profil
Contemporary Music for Piano

Okkervil River The Stage Names Jagjaguwar
Indie Rock, Folk-Pop

Operator Soulcrusher Atlantic
Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Album Rock

Dmitry Sitkovetsky Rodion Shchedrin: Parade a la russe Haenssler Classic
Contemporary Chamber Music

Original Soundtrack Superbad [Soundtrack] Lakeshore
Film Music, Soundtracks, Funk, Blaxploitation

Gretchen Peters Burnt Toast & Offerings Curb
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Country-Folk, Country-Pop, Americana

Oscar Peterson Trio At Newport Live Verve Labels
Bop, Mainstream Jazz

Plies The Real Testament Atlantic / Wea
Southern Rap, Gangsta Rap

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals This Is Somewhere Hollywood
Alternative Country-Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter

The Pretty Things Balboa Island Zoho
Freakbeat, British Invasion, Rock & Roll, British Blues

Public Enemy How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul??? Slam Jamz

David Ruffin Gentleman Ruffin Warner Bros.
Motown, Soul

Leon Russell Angel in Disguise MRI
Country Boogie, Boogie Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Country-Rock, Blues-Rock, Rock & Roll, R&B

Joe Satriani Surfing with the Alien [CD/DVD] Sony Legacy
Guitar Virtuoso, Pop/Rock, Instrumental Rock

Billy Joe Shaver Everybody's Brother Compadre
Americana, Outlaw Country, Honky Tonk, Singer/Songwriter, Country-Rock, Progressive Country

Harry Shearer Songs Pointed and Pointless Courgette
Satire, Observational Humor

Ralph Stanley Early Classics: The King Recordings Time/Life WEA
Bluegrass, Traditional Bluegrass, Bluegrass-Gospel, Contemporary Bluegrass, Appalachian Folk

UGK Underground Kingz [Bonus DVD] Zomba
Dirty South, Southern Rap, Gangsta Rap, Hardcore Rap

Various Artists The Best of Newport '57: 50th Anniversary Collection Verve Labels
Mainstream Jazz, Jazz Blues, New Orleans Jazz, Classic Jazz, Hard Bop, Post-Bop, Swing, Bop, Big Band

Various Artists Thai Pop Spectacular: 1960s-1980s Sublime Frequencies
Asian Pop, Foreign Language Rock

Jennifer Warnes Famous Blue Raincoat [Bonus Tracks] Shout
Soft Rock, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Zap Mama Supermoon Heads Up
Worldbeat, World Fusion, Acappella, Afro-Pop, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock

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  • JC Mosquito

    Billy Joe Shaver has always written from a spiritual perspective, as in “If I give my soul to Jesus / Will she take me back again?” From If I Give My Soul.

    And, from The Hottest Thing in Town, there’s the honky tonk side of him too:

    “She can lick her lips, roll her hips
    And really make you smile
    She’s got everybody’s number
    She’s making all the rounds
    She’s a hell of a heavenly ball of fire
    The hottest thing in town”

    That’s Billy Joe Shaver: one of America’s most underrated and unheralded songwriters.

  • Al Barger

    Yes, God bless Billy Joe Shaver.

  • TommyShortt

    Thats cool Billy Joe Shaver is my Favorit songwritter. I sing is songs some To
    Thank you so much