I'm one of the many codgers who bemoans the commercialization of Christmas and I'm given to offering my lamentations about who the crassness feels like it comes earlier every year. I mean it when I say it but it would probably be a hell of a lot more believable if I didn't get so damn excited to see what the fall and winter will bring in terms of new releases. As we turn the calendar to September, we can quote Bob Dylan: “Things should start to get interesting right about now.” He's right.
There are different kinds of “big” new releases. There is the kind that is big to me and the kind that's big to everyone else. Because I write this column and not everyone else, we'll start with the release that's most important to me.
The Black Crowes
Before The Frost…Until The Freeze
We should have seen this coming. Some of you probably did. Once Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and others demonstrated you can just give it away there was no doubt Black Crowes would one day follow in those footsteps. This is just so… them. For Radiohead, it was name your own price. Trent Reznor first offered multiple packages at different price points, including free. He then actually gave away The Slip. The Black Crowes have opted for a buy one, get one free concept.
Before The Frost picks up where Warpaint left off. I know people think all Black Crowes albums pick up where the last one left off, but that's Maxim lazy and we're better than that here at Blogcritics. With all due respect to the talented guitarists who've played with the band, Luther Dickinson was born for this gig. His slide work is tailor made not only for this band but for these songs.
Oh, and one more thing: that isn't overdubbed applause. These albums were cut live in the studio in front of an audience.
I Look To You
Okay, so now here's one for everybody else. I'm not buying this one but I'm at the right age to remember when Whitney Houston sold records and won Grammys on pace with Michael Jackson and Madonna. Okay, she never sold Thriller numbers but her soundtrack for The Bodyguard moved a ridiculous number in its time and she'd had some pretty massive hits long before that. I remember when there was a wholesomeness and purity to Houston's image. I remember when the children were the future and learning to love yourself was the greatest love of all. Then came Bobby Brown, scandal, and drugs. Bobby's gone and now Whitney and her mentor Clive Davis are trying to launch a comeback for one of the great R&B/pop singers of all time.
I'm not a Houston fan, per se, but it doesn't take a great set of ears to appreciate that she had a once in a generation voice. She was special. How much of that is left? We're about to find out. I'm not always a sucker for a comeback, but I am this time. I hope she knocks this one out of the park and reclaims a piece of her former title among the elites.
Here's the rest of your list for this week:
The Black Crowes
Before the Frost/Until the Freeze
Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities 2003-2008
I Look to You
The Apples in Stereo
#1 Hits Explosion
Works for Two Pianos by Debussy & Ravel
When the Devil's Loose
Live at Dylan's Cafe, Washington D.C., December 1987
Rick Danko & Richard Manuel
Live at O'Toole's Tavern, Scranton, PA, December 1985
The Chronic [Re-Lit and From the Vault]
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer [Limited Edition 3.0]
Emmy the Great
Liam Finn + Eliza Jane
Champagne in Seashells
Claus Peter Flor
Josef Suk: Asrael Symphony
Nicola Porpora: Arias
Haydn Trio Eisenstadt
Dedicated to Haydn
John Lee Hooker
Live at Soledad Prison/Never Get Out of These Blues Alive
David Russell Hulme
Edward German: Tom Jones
Insane Clown Posse
Bang! Pow! Boom! [Blue]
The Jamie Neverts Story
Deborah Lurie/Danny Elfman
The Marshall Tucker Band
The Essential Marshall Tucker Band [Limited Edition 3.0]
Keep It Unreal [10th Anniversary Edition]
Sorority Row [Soundtrack]
Essential Ozzy Osbourne [Limited Edition 3.0]
Reverend Horton Heat
Laughin' & Cryin' with Reverend Horton Heat
Love Don't Make You Juliet
Susanna & the Magical Orchestra
These United States
Everything Touches Everything
Those Bastard Souls
Twentieth Century Chemical [Bonus Tracks]
Artwork [Limited Edition] [CD/DVD]
Definitive Jux Presents, Vol. 4
The Roots of Led Zeppelin
The Man I Want to Be