Before we dive into this week's new album releases, we need to make mention of one very noteworthy item that doesn't even show up on this week's AMG list.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band have just released a four song E.P. of Magic Tour Highlights.
Following on the experiments of bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, this E.P. is also available only as an MP3 download through the usual outlets such as Amazon, iTunes, etc. The difference here is that you will have to pay for it ($2.99 at Amazon). But it's all for a great cause, as the parties involved have all agreed to donate the profits to the Danny Federici Melanoma Fund, the memorial charity set up to honor the memory of the late, great E Street Band keyboardist.
Some great stuff here too, all featuring a great lineup of guest artists in various onstage turns with Springsteen recorded at different points over the course of the barnstorming Magic world tour. The guests include Roger McGuinn (on the Byrds classic "Turn Turn Turn"), Tom Morello (a scorching guitar solo on "The Ghost Of Tom Joad"), Alejandro Escovedo, and Danny himself in his final performance with the E Street Band doing his signature tune "Sandy." Definitely well worth the $2.99.
John Mellencamp's new album Life Death Love and Freedom also arrives this week.
The T-Bone Burnett produced album is a more stripped down effort from Mellencamp, following his minor commercial comeback with last year's Freedom's Road, and features rootsier sounding songs like "My Sweet Love" and the politically charged "Jena." This album is also noteworthy because it is the first ever to be recorded using Burnett's said to be revolutionary sounding HD CODE technology.
The biggest noisemaker coming out of the hip-hop world this week comes from Nas, whose new self-titled release may as well be sub-titled The N Word, which in fact, in less politically correct terminology, it actually was at one point. Controversial album title aside, this is said to be Nas' most thought provoking lyrical statement to date — addressing concerns of race, politics, and the once unheard of, yet now possible and perhaps even probable, idea of a Black American president.
Not to be upstaged by Nas, David Banner's new The Greatest Story Ever Told likewise addresses some hot-button issues, not the least of which include our government's response to the Katrina tragedy. Banner mixes these concerns with plenty of his trademark dirty south gangsta anthems.
Wrapping things up before we turn it over to Mark Saleski, is the Hold Steady's with their new, curiously titled Stay Positive. I only label this one curious, because much of what is dealt with in the lyrics comes in the form of a boozy, druggy haze despite the overall big sound combining elements of punk, garage, and — dare I say it — big arena rock.
There's something both endearing and inspiring about a musician who is just as comfortable hammering out meat & potatoes bar band tunes as he is living in the altered reality of Sun Ra. That man is Terry Adams. As one of the masterminds behind NRBQ (You don't have any of their records? Shame on you!), he's made a metric ton of impossibly great rock records.
But then there's his other side. That of "out there" jazz. You don't really get a hint of this if you listen to NRBQ's stuff. This record features Terry on celesta and prepared piano. That's about all I know. Sometimes, you've just got to take a chance.
Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide:
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Dirty South, Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap, Gangsta Rap
Dirty Pretty Things
Romance at Short Notice
The Hold Steady
Indie Rock, American Trad Rock, Rock & Roll
Political Rap, Hardcore Rap, East Coast Rap, Hip-Hop
Marches and Dances
Marches and Dances for Orchestra
Post-Bop, Modern Creative
Love to Make Music To
Indie Electronic, Experimental Techno
No End in Sight: The Very Best of Foreigner
Album Rock, Arena Rock, Pop/Rock, Hard Rock
Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
The Motown Years
Pop, Doo Wop
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Lo-Fi
Keep on Walkin'
Contemporary Bluegrass, Progressive Bluegrass
Psychedelic Pop, British Psychedelia
The Imagined Village
The Imagined Village
Neo-Traditional Folk, Alternative Folk, Worldbeat
Jet Black Stare
In This Life
Post-Grunge, Hard Rock
Wenzel Ludwig Edler von Radolt: Viennese Lute Concertos
Baroque Music for Lute and Ensemble
Life Death Love and Freedom
Pop/Rock, Roots Rock
Strength in Numbers
Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du Temps
Modern Chamber Music
Soundtracks, Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Singer/Songwriter
The Dark Knight [#1]
Original Score, Soundtracks
Original Broadway Cast
Passing Strange [Original Broadway Cast]
Musicals, Cast Recordings
Graffiti the World [Universal Republic]
Southern Rap, Rap-Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Around the Bend
Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards It Did
End Titles: Stories for Film
Electronica, Ambient Breakbeat, Trip-Hop, Alternative Dance
From the Valleys: The Best of the Welsh Choirs
Welsh Choral Music
Dance-Pop, Pop Idol, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Club/Dance