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New Album Releases 05/27/08: Usher, John Hiatt, Al Green, Return To Forever, Cyndi Lauper, Bobby Womack & More

Is it just me, or does this list just keep getting shorter and shorter each week?

Anyway, no matter. Before we get to this week’s new album releases, a few housekeeping items are in order, as my ever faithful comrades Mark Saleski and Tom Johnson have once again abandoned me this week.

Not to worry. I fully expect both to be back here with their weekly picks in due course. In the meantime, we’ve recruited an ace pair of backup hitters.

Many of you already know El Bicho for his music reviews at BC, as well as a member in good-standing of those tireless champions of good taste in entertainment, The Masked Movie Snobs. Señor Bicho joins us here in just a bit to talk about the Bobby Womack reissues headed your way this week.

Likewise, Pico should be a familiar face to anyone who reads BC music regularly for his incisive jazz reviews, and for his music columns, One Track Mind and Quickies. Pico will also be joining us today to talk about the new one by the great John Hiatt.

Meanwhile, on to the business at hand.

The biggie this week is Usher’s new Here I Stand. This release follows his breakthrough 2004 album Confessions, as well as his newfound marital status (that old Beatles standby, “sorry girls, he’s married” definitely applies here). By all accounts, married life has done little to alter Usher’s lyrical themes of young romance and the bump and grind sort of thing that goes right alongside it. BC’s own Clayton Perry posted a more in-depth review earlier this week which you can check out by going here.

All-time R&B great Al Green is also back this week with his Lay It Down. Green gets assistance here from John Legend and members of the Roots, bringing a contemporary spin to his classic soul sound. The dance oriented Bring Ya to the Brink is “Fungirl” Cyndi Lauper’s first album of new material in 12 years. The classic lineup of the great jazz-fusion band Return To Forever has a double-disc Anthology out just in time for their big reunion tour this summer.

And now without further adieu, we bring you…

El Bicho’s Masked Music Pick: The Best of Bobby Womack: The Soul Years

If your musical collection is lacking soul, May 27th is the perfect day to rectify that situation with the help of Bobby Womack. He gets a label-spanning best-of available digitally and on CD, a great choice for those new to him. Seven albums from 1968 to ‘76 — six of which hit the R&B charts — make their digital debuts, and a newly discovered 1972 concert recording from New York’s Apollo Theater will be released.

Before making it as a solo artist, Womack worked with Sam Cooke, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin. With that pedigree, it’s no surprise he created smoldering ballads (“That’s The Way I Feel About Cha”), funky grooves (“Woman’s Gotta Have It”),
and unique interpretations of classics (“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”). Do yourself a favor and “Check It Out” even if the music shop is in that bad neighborhood “Across 100th Street.” It will be well worth it.

Pico’s Quick Pick: John Hiatt – Same Old Man

A John Hiatt release is always an event, if for no other reason than to listen to songs for the first time that will eventually be covered by others. Since around the turn of the century, Hiatt has been going through cycles of albums that alternately rock energetically (usually with his Goners band) with the more quiet, introspective, folksy type of music.

Same Old Man falls squarely into the latter category. I didn’t really care for the Dylanesque-to-a-fault “Old Days” that leads off the album, but Hiatt quickly redeemed himself on the following “Love You Again” and the rest of the songs range from good to damned good. Even though North Mississippi All Star Luther Dickinson is carried over from 2005’s Master Of Disaster, I didn’t hear his electric guitar much (if at all). This is countrified blues folk music and the light accompaniment only brings Hiatt’s considerable songcraft further out to the fore. Which is right where it belongs.

Here are all of this week’s new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:

Al Green
Lay It Down
Blue Note
Smooth Soul, Soul, Retro-Soul

John Hiatt
Same Old Man
New West
Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Heartland Rock

Here I Stand
La Face

Ellen Allien
Bpitch Control
Experimental Techno, Techno, Minimal Techno

Horace Andy
On Tour
Roots Reggae

David Benoit
Contemporary Jazz

Jean-Guy Boisvert
Le Livre des Mélancolies
Atma Classique
Contemporary Music for Clarinet and String Quartet

The Browns
The Complete Hits
Collectors’ Choice Music
Nashville Sound/Countrypolitan, Traditional Country

Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby Presents Badfoot Brown and the Bunions Bradford Funeral & Marching Band

Sarah Cunningham
Play This Passionate
Music for Bass Viol

The Dutchess [Deluxe]
Urban, Pop-Rap

Ron Franklin
Ron Franklin
Alternative Country-Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter

Eliza Gilkyson
Beautiful World
Red House
Contemporary Folk, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Folk-Rock

Andy Griggs
The Good Life
Contemporary Country, Progressive Bluegrass, Country-Folk, Neo-Traditionalist Country, Alternative Country, New Traditionalist

Heaven And
Sweeter as the Years Roll By
Experimental Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental

The Herbaliser
Same as It Never Was
Ambient Breakbeat, Electronica, Trip-Hop

I Love Math
Getting to the Point Is Beside It
Alternative Country-Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock

Jamies Elsewhere
Guidebook for Sinners Turned Saints
Emo, Punk-Pop, Post-Grunge

Julie Ocean
Long Gone and Nearly There
Transit of Venus
Indie Pop

Marek Konstantynowicz
Morton Feldman: The Viola in My Life
Contemporary Chamber Music

Cyndi Lauper
Bring Ya to the Brink
Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Dance-Pop

Peggy Lee
All Aglow Again [Bonus Tracks]
Collectors’ Choice Music
Vocal Jazz, Traditional Pop

Peggy Lee
The Lost ’40s & ’50s Capitol Masters
Collectors’ Choice Music
Vocal Jazz, Traditional Pop, Swing, Torch Songs, Show Tunes, Vocal Pop

Peggy Lee
Make It with You/Where Did They Go
Collectors’ Choice Music
Vocal Jazz, Traditional Pop

Peggy Lee
Then Was Then, Now Is Now!/Bridge Over Troubled Water [Bonus Tracks]
Collectors’ Choice Music
Vocal Jazz, Traditional Pop

Life Is Sweet
Indie Pop

Gerry Mulligan
Modern Sounds
West Coast Jazz, Cool

On the Run
Emo, Indie Rock

One Flew South
Last of the Good Guys
Country-Rock, Americana, Soft Rock, Contemporary Country, Roots Rock

James Sinclair
Charles Ives: The Three Orchestral Sets
Modern Orchestral Music

Original Soundtrack
Sex and the City
New Line
Film Music, Soundtracks, Pop/Rock, Urban, Dance-Pop

James Pants(editors note: winner of NAR’s best name this week, hands down)
Electro, Turntablism, Club/Dance, Dance-Pop

Return to Forever
The Anthology
Fusion, Jazz-Rock

The Smithereens
Live in Concert! Greatest Hits and More
Pop/Rock, Hard Rock, Bar Band, Power Pop

Various Artists
Coolest Songs in the World, Vol. 5
Wicked Cool
Indie Rock, Garage Rock Revival

Various Artists
Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump
Highlife, Afro-Beat, Afro-Pop

Walter Meego
New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Indie Electronic, Indie Rock

Bobby Womack
The Best of Bobby Womack: The Soul Years
Soul, Smooth Soul, Quiet Storm, Southern Soul, Funk

About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.

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