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HuffPost Reviews: Alice In Chains, Rosanne Cash, Kiss, and more, plus a Brandi Carlile Interview, and This Week's New Albums

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AN INTERVIEW WITH BRANDI CARLILE

Mike Ragogna: Brandi, how does your new album Give Up The Ghost differ from your previous releases?

Brandi Carlile: Well, the first one was recorded before we ever got a record deal, so we recorded it by ourselves with a series of pseudo-producers, engineers, and studios, and a lot of it was recorded in my house. It was supposed to be a compilation of b-sides from this really large body of work that we'd written. We recorded it ourselves as something to sell at shows, and we got a record deal when Columbia signed that record with us, though that record was more like a demo. Then on The Story, we worked with T-Bone Burnett, and we recorded live to tape, set-up in a room like it was a stage. We kind of played a show in its entirety every day, and we would choose performances to make the record with very little, if any, overdubbing. We're proud of that record for that reason, because it was so true-to-form. But on this new one, we all agreed to take things to the extreme, not just musically, but lyrically. We recorded live to tape again, but this time, we layered things onto the music after we captured the heart of the recording. We added things like multiple harmonies and extra instruments that we don't normally play, string arrangements, and collaborations. So we really took this record to the limit.

MR: You give a lot of credit on this project to your band members Tim and Phil Hanseroth and they've been with you since the beginning. What is your relationship with the brothers?

BC: Our relationship is that of a band, for sure. We've known each other for so long, playing as a band since the beginning of our record deal. Even before that, we played in bars together for a couple years around Seattle before we ever got signed. We go on the road, we record everything in the studio, and we also write most things together. We write separately as well, but we do a lot of collaborating and split things right down the middle which is cool, it's like a trifecta of a partnership.

MR: What are the mechanics of writing with them?

BC: It's really different, really random. Like sometimes, I'll write a song, we'll get together and practice and they'll just learn it. And sometimes, one of them will write a song and come to practice with it and I'll just learn to sing it. But then, sometimes, we'll sit down with the skeleton of a song and all three of us will put it together. The way that we split things with each other evenly--not just money, but credit and time--makes it so that all of our writing is in the best interests of the song. Nobody has any questions about why a person wants to contribute, it can only be to make it better.

MR: Ya gotta love Phil's credit on "That Year" that reads he did "absolutely nothing"...

BC: You noticed it? (laughs) I was wondering how many people would notice that...Phil Hanseroth: absolutely nothing!

MR: What's the story behind "That Year"?

BC: When I was sixteen, I lost a close friend in high school to suicide. He was sixteen too. At the time, I had this really extreme belief system, I had no coping skills for a sixteen-year-old, and I was just really immersed in myself. When we lost him, I was able to deal with it by completely writing him off, making it out to be some sort of selfish decision-making. Ten years went by, I never thought about it or talked about it, but I had a dream and woke up and wrote this song. I just kind of realized through that process that it didn't happen to me, it was something that happened to him, and it probably wasn't a decision at all, it was probably really sick. So I was able to make peace with that situation by writing a song about him being my friend again.

MR: Is it a coincidence that you have that song sequenced on your album following "Dreams"?

BC: There was a conscious way of sequencing the record, like I wanted the first line of it to be "I went out looking for the answers and never left my town, I'm not good at understanding but good at standing ground." And I wanted the last line to be, "Poor dear, out here, everybody stumbles on fear, who cares if you're scared, everyone is on their own..." I wanted it to be lyrically cohesive.

MR: One of the great lines in your first song, "Looking Out," is "...some people get religion, some people get the truth..." Ain't that the truth.

BC: Yup!

MR: How did you score Elton John to play on your album?

BC: He's been my greatest hero since I was about eleven years old. Going in to make this record, the process was so much bigger than me that I just thought, "Well, what can be larger than to have Mr. Larger Than Life, Captain Fantastic play piano on this one song that reminds me so much of the early Elton John records that really influenced me personally, like Tumbleweed Connection.

MR: And one of his great wingmen was Paul Buckmaster who arranged Elton's strings. It looks like he arranged yours too.

BC: Yeah, it's no secret that Paul Buckmaster is one talented arranger, he's brilliant....absolutely and unequivocally brilliant. He was a huge part of those early records, so much so that Elton included pictures of him on the albums. So there were pictures of Paul Buckmaster on my wall when I was twelve years old. I knew that Elton John--not unlike my situation--was a band, you know?

MR: It's like you can consider Buckmaster was part of the band in the same way that George Martin was part of The Beatles.

BC: ...and Elton still has the same band he had in the late sixties.

MR: And Bernie Taupin is still in the picture. Are you familiar with one of their great mid-career collaborations, "Cold As Christmas"?

BC: Oh, I f***ing love "Cold As Christmas." I love Too Low For Zero, I listened to that record on repeat for years. I know every single Elton John record, and people are always like, "How did you feel about Elton John in the eighties?" You know, Leather Jackets, Sleeping With The Past, and Breaking Hearts? He can do no wrong. I love all those eighties records. For the eighties, he was pretty god-damned good!

MR: He blends so well into the rhythm section on "Caroline." How did you tuck Mr. Larger Than Life into the mix?

BC: I didn't tuck him in, he just did what he does. I knew what he would do before I even went in there because that's what inspired the song, what Elton John would play if he had the song in his hand. He said he didn't know what the hell he was going to play, then he went in and did it in one take.

MR: Elton also sings background vocals on the track.

BC: He wasn't even going to sing, I had to ask him in the studio, and he was like, "Alright, I'll give it a go."

MR: Benmont Tench plays on your album as well. Are you a Tom Petty fan?

BC: I'm a Petty fan from the ether. Like I love his music but I never delved into it like I should and like I will. Benmont was a Rick Rubin recommendation, he really added a lot. He played organ on "Pride And Joy" and really delicate piano on "I Will." There's a level of musicianship when you're dealing with somebody like Benmont that I don't have, I'm just not qualified.

MR: For your last two albums, you and the Hanesroths start out playing live, though this time, you're overdubbing a lot over those performances. Does the live element enhance your studio experience?

BC: It's easy to get a gut-wrenching, energetic live performance on the road because you have people's energy to feed off of--you have a thousand people pouring their energy onto one point on the stage, and you feel it, which makes it easy to deliver a powerful performance. But when you're in the studio, you're all alone, and you've got to find that energy in other places and sometimes, it's just not there. So everybody teams up to do a live performance, and if everybody's energy isn't in the same place, and you're not excited, it just doesn't happen. That's what makes being in the studio as opposed to playing live so complicated. You have to really reach to find energy when it's not being hurled towards you at a thousand miles an hour from an audience.

MR: It seems like there's a general theme of "distance" or "separation" that involves all the characters, your relationships, and even in the subtext implied by the haunting string arrangements and guitars on the album.

BC: Yeah, you're exactly right on that, you completely nailed the whole concept. That's why it's called Give Up The Ghost. It's a leaving behind of one's self. We were so afraid of writing a record about being on the road or about the inside of a tour bus that we realized that we were going to have to leave ourselves behind in big ways and write about big things in our past and our future. What was going on day-to-day was a non-relatable topic. Your subconscious is so much more honest with you than your environment.

MR: Are you writing about relationships that you actually were in or from a more objective perspective?

BC: I wish I were as talented as, like, Bernie Taupin, then I could write stories about things that happened in my mind. But, really, I'm just writing from my personal experience. Even if it is from the past, fears of the future, or dreams that I have, I'm usually writing from my own heart and mind. I haven't figured out quite yet how to branch out into stories. In other words, I would be a terrible fiction writer. I would be in the non-fiction section of Border's.

MR: When you write with the other guys, are you the lyricist?

BC: Often times I am, but when they're the lyricists, it's usually when the song is finished, because they really thought about it, poured their heart into it, and there isn't a lot of space for change. The song "Oh Dear" is an exception, Phil and I wrote the lyrics together on that one.

MR: Are Tim and Phil writing from the experiences they're having in their own lives or are they writing for you?

BC: Well, they're certainly not writing for me. I think they're writing from both of their own experiences, and they have talents that I don't have. Phil has the talent to write stories and to use his imagination. Tim has the ability to write love songs from his heart that are sweet without any sort of malice. So, they're absolutely imperative to my songwriting lyrically as well as musically.

MR: What's going on with your tour?

BC: This tour is like...it's just the best tour ever. I'm having so much fun.

MR: Who's backing you up on the road?

BC: I'm touring with Tim and Phil, and our longtime cellist, Josh Neumann, and our new drummer who's the best addition to our band. Her name is Alison Miller, and she's the hardest-hitting rock dude we've ever played with.

MR: What other acts are on your tour?

BC: Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls is going to support soon, Katie Herzig is out with us right now--she's a young woman from Nashville that we get all blown away by. Angel Taylor just got off the road with us, and we had this really great rock 'n' roll band from North Carolina called The Noises 10 at the beginning of the tour. We had four openers on this tour and I'm excited about who's going to come with us next time.

MR: Do you feel like you're helping some of these acts when they go out on the road with you?

BC: It's like they're helping me out! You just feel good and inspired. I mean, they're just so f***ing happy to be there in their van. They're making drives that I'm sleeping through, and they inspire me every day. It feeds the soul because we were there for years opening for bands...and probably will be again. That's how life goes.

MR: How do you feel you've grown as a person through the touring, making records, and from everything that's happened to you since you were playing with the Hanesroth brothers before you had your record deal?

BC: I think I've grown mostly from traveling and seeing and experiencing the things I've been singing about. As a person, I've grown closer to other people. Like, I thought that being an artist who travels on the road and is away from home a lot would make me more introverted. But it turns out that when you share a forty-five foot space with nine dudes, you actually become less introverted. (laughs) And I've grown a lot spiritually and intellectually. Such are the mid-twenties.

Brandi Carlile - Give Up The Ghost

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Tracks:

1. Looking Out
2. Dying Day
3. Pride And Joy
4. Dreams
5. That Year
6. Caroline
7. Before It Breaks
8. I Will
9. If There Was No You
10. Touching The Ground
11. Oh Dear

Take a look at this live version of Brandi Carlile's "Dreams":

Alice In Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue

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With Layne Staley's death, Alice In Chains was all but done. But after the fourteen years following 1995's Alice In Chains, here we are with something that sounds a lot like what the group probably would have had they returned to the studio a just couple years later. This new album's opener, "All Secrets Known," offers "a new beginning," acknowledging it's "time to start living," and, overall, Black Gives Way To Blue does that in the bigger sense. After working on various solo and post-Alice projects, guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell, drummer Sean Kinney, and bassist Mike Inez bring guitarist/vocalist/newbie William DuVall into the tribe, and expertly carry on the band's fine tradition of moody alt-rock-pop.

The reunion had been in the making since the group's reformation in 2005 to tour in support of Indonesia's tsunami victims, this altruistic endeavor probably re-bonding the brooding brothers better than any random studio noodlings or commercial strategy could. So, throughout the new album, the rock and writing is solid, sometimes even rivaling Alice In Chains Mach I's flannel-est moments, with their acoustic tracks "Your Decision" and "When The Sun Rose Again" nicely remedying runs of same-tempo'd but smartly produced grunge. That would be the main complaint about the record, not enough tempo variation; but each song offers something unique, whether it be in the lyrics' messages, the dissonant to melodic chord structures, or the new, great vocal pairing of Cantrell and DuVall. Plus that touching title track is a killer--actually, a heartbreaker--and it says more about the band's healing process than any shrink's assessment would. Plus it features Elton John on piano (raise your hand if Elton is NOT playing on your record). START HERE: "Private Hell," "Check My Brain," and "Black Gives Way To Blue"

Tracks:
1. All Secrets Known
2. Check My Brain
3. Last Of My Kind
4. Your Decision
5. A Looking In View
6. When The Sun Rose Again
7. Acid Bubble
8. Lessons Learned
9. Take Her Out
10. Private Hell
11. Black Gives Way To Blue

Here's a live performance of "Black Gives Way To Blue" from September 9, 2009:

Rosanne Cash - The List

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When Rosanne Cash was 18, her famous country star of a dad gave his daughter a list of 100 essential country songs written by the likes of Hank Williams and Nashville songwriters such as Harlan Howard. Creating an album that sounds as reverential as it is original, Rosanne--with her husband/producer John Leventhal--selected twelve songs from her father's list that complimented each other topically as well as sonically.

"The vetting process was kind of multi-layered because there were some songs that clearly I couldn't do," Rosanne told Juli Thanki in an interview that appeared on The 9513's website. "My father had kind of a musicologist's sensibility, so the list really encompassed every critical moment in the evolution of American music--at least Southern American music, folk and protest songs, Southern blues and gospel, and Appalachian [music]. He covered every base, and I knew I couldn't do another version of 'This Land Is Your Land' or Jimmie Rodgers' 'Waiting For A Train,' so that was part of the process. We just started thinking about which ones really suited my voice, which ones I loved all these years and sung to myself for the last 30 years. Some we tried and they didn't work, so we ended up with these."

One of the songs that works best is her cover of the blues traddy "Motherless Children." Rosanne's assertive delivery emphasizes the lyrics' position of strength whereas previous unconscious reads by less talented interpreters reduce the title characters to ones you would pity. One great revelation of The List is that Rosanne sounds incredibly comfortable representing the blues, albeit a modernized version that includes using modern sounds to simulate the days of recording antiquity. Her team-up with Elvis Costello on "Heartaches By The Number" sounds like something vintage from her own seventies catalog, her benefiting from her vocal partner's over-dabbling in these kinds of country-fections as of late.

The light swing of "Miss The Mississippi" and "Take These Chains From My Heart," in a way, sets the "country" parameters for the album, though on the latter song, Rosanne sounds more like she did during her country-pop prime. Her vocals still are very warm and "real," and they inject honesty and authenticity into the more country-sounding tracks "Long Black Veil" (with Wilco's Jeff Treedy), "She's Got You," and "Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow." The same can be said about her delivery on folkier tracks like "Girl From The North Country," and the touching "500 Miles" that the recently departed Mary Travers probably would have enjoyed immensely.

The album gets a superstar appearance by Bruce Springsteen on "Sea Of Heartbreak," his harmony perfectly snuggling (sorry John) with Rosanne's vocals (as the chorus melody clearly shows it's the ancestor of Chip Taylor's "Son Of A Rotten Gambler"). Another famous visitor includes Rufus Wainwright who shows up on "Silver Wings," and Rosanne's daughter Chelsea Crowell, an independent artist that is self-releasing her first record, also joins in. Although her forecasted projects include the release of her own memoirs, this project ties-in with author Michael Streissguth's Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, The List, And The Spirit Of Southern Music, and there is a sequel planned for the album that the artist is excited to begin recording. "I've already been thinking about Volume Two," Rosanne told Thanki, "and John says, 'Can we please just get this one out?'" START HERE: "I'm Movin' On" and "She's Got You"

Tracks:
1. Miss The Mississippi
2. Motherless Children
3. Sea Of Heartbreak - with Bruce Springsteen
4. Take These Chains From My Heart
5. I'm Movin' On
6. Heartaches By The Number - with Elvis Costello
7. 500 Miles
8. Long Black Veil - with Jeff Tweedy
9. She's Got You
10. Girl From The North Country
11. Silver Wings - with Rufus Wainwright
12. Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow

Check out Rosanne Cash's video for "I'm Movin' On":

Dan Fogelberg - Love In Time

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Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg's death on December 16, 2007, passed almost without notice. The music industry was getting ready to shutter its corporate operations for its traditional two-week Christmas vacation, and, by that year, the biz had moved so far beyond any concern for Fogelberg and his music that his finally succumbing to prostate cancer was a blip on most entertainment magazines' radars. There were no big farewells, no celebrity reminiscences to speak of, and Dan Fogelberg quickly disappeared into the mists of the seventies and eighties pop landscapes as if he were a one-hit wonder. Sadder still was that the general public was left with a handful of "oldies" that Top Forty radio rendered unlistenable by years of repetitious plays.

The original airplay saturation of his singles bestowed Fogelberg with temporary fame and limited wealth at the expense of his image as an artist with a big vision, one worthy of competing with the best of the singer-songwriters of those previously-referenced decades. His early albums Home Free (with "To The Morning," "Stars," "Be On Your Way," and "Looking For A Lady") Souvenirs (with "Part Of The Plan," "Illinois," and "The Long Way"), Netherlands (with its heavily-orchestrated title track, "Dancing Shoes," and "Scarecrow's Dream"), and Phoenix (with its anti-nuke anthem "Face The Fire," and the hits "Heart Hotels" and "Longer") were all must haves because of the high caliber of Fogelberg's songwriting and performances that proudly wore the instantly recognizable Laurel Canyon, country-rock crest. But the artist's popularity also fell victim to the public's Southern California fatigue, the same that affected artists such as Linda Ronstadt, J.D. Souther, the Eagles, Andrew Gold, Karla Bonoff, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and everyone in the House of Byrds.

Now that you've been prepped, the lowdown on Love In Time is that it's easily his best album since all of the above seventies releases hit the racks. The reason? This posthumous project was prepared by Fogelberg to be his last release, it building records out of early demos and outtakes he discovered while sifting through live recordings. With the artist himself musically supplying all of the rhythm section--his usual approach--Love In Time is pure Fogelberg, the album sounding like it could have been the natural follow-up to Phoenix instead of his bloated The Innocent Age. Nine of the album's twelve songs are originals, the standouts including the philosophical, finger-picked acoustic number "A Growing Time" that's just as classic as your favorite, early Fogelberg song; "The Colors Of Eve" that revisits "Longer" territory; and "Nature Of The Game" that, spiritually, is almost as much Stephen Stills as it is Dan Fogelberg. Love In Time's two cover songs--Larry Hickman's "Soft Voice" and Neil Young's "Birds"--are revelations in that they point to a path not taken by the singer-songwriter. Had the voice of Dan Fogelberg taken on the music and lyrics of, let's say, George Jones or Hank Williams, it might have changed some minds that pegged him as purely a syrupy balladeer.

Since there is a very real possibility this may be the last archival studio material allowed a proper release, this is the best Dan Fogelberg album you're going to own beyond his career-building, aforementioned releases. For fans and casual admirers, this final project will leave a sweet impression of the artist and may even cause a little mistiness after the last song's lingering strings play out. That's because they parallel the opening of Home Free's very first song, "To The Morning," artistically bringing Fogelberg's musical legacy full circle. That beautiful attention to detail is what made the best Dan Fogelberg albums sound extremely musical which, evidently, always was part of the plan. START HERE: "Birds" and "A Growing Time"

Tracks:
1. Love in Time
2. Soft Voice
3. So Many Changes
4. Come To The Harbor
5. A Growing Time
6. The Colors Of Eve
7. Diamonds To Dust
8. The Nature Of The Game
9. Sometimes A Song
10. Days to Come
11. Birds

Kiss - Sonic Boom (2 CD/DVD Edition)

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"At long last (Kiss), have you no decency?" Uh, no, not when it comes to products and marketing...and not to worry, you can still order your Kiss coffin from their vast catalog of dubious chachkis. Yup, here comes Kiss again with an expanded version of these Sachi & Sachi wannabes' latest album, Sonic Boom, the latest bauble by the be-make-up'd foursome (with good guy Tommy Thayer sharing the hype).

As fans have put it, they've been given one new song for each of the eleven years that have passed since the release of their last studio album, Psycho Circus, and, overall, the originals on this new album--especially "Modern Day Delilah," "Danger Us" (as in "...danger you, danger me, danger us"...don't ask) "Never Enough," and "When Lightening Strikes" (the latter nicely sung by Thayer, co-penned with Paul Stanley)--will rock you as they hook you. The best thing about Sonic Boom is that it wears no make-up, meaning it's classic rock Kiss before they took on every musical fad for relevance. No brain surgery here which is perfect since that's the way we prefer our Kiss; therefore, no further description of the album is needed. (Fans will also love that the Sonic Boom cover was designed by Michael Doret who created Kiss' Rock And Roll Over album artwork.)

So, that's what you get with the first or "main" disc. The second disc contains passable re-records that are about as necessary as another live Kiss CD. And since someone just brought up "live" Kiss, why, there also is a DVD with just that, you know, in case you don't own more than your fair share.

"The purpose of this album isn't to let people know we're still around, it's to let people know we can knock out anybody who's out there," said Paul Stanley about Sonic Boom. He's right. Kiss' energy and showmanship--considering this is a band of quintigenarians--still can knock you out. Recorded live during their Kiss Alive 35 tour in South America, the "boys" still do put on a kick-ass show, and their DVD, filmed in Buenos Aires, is the best part of the expanded package. Oh, you lucky Wal-Mart and Sam's Club shoppers...what, you didn't know? This expanded set is only on sale at those two outlets. Marketing genius? START HERE: "Hot And Cold"

Tracks:

Disc One
1. Modern Day Delilah
2. Russian Roulette
3. Never Enough
4. Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)
5. Stand
6. Hot And Cold
7. All For The Glory
8. Danger Us
9. I'm An Animal
10. When Lightening Strikes
11. Say Yeah

Disc Two
1. Deuce
2. Detroit Rock City
3. Shout It Out Loud
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Calling Dr. Love
6. Love Gun
7. I Was Made For Lovin' You
8. Heaven's On Fire
9. Lick It Up
10. I Love It Loud
11. Forever
12. Christine Sixteen
13. Do You Love Me?
14. Black Diamond
15. Rock & Roll All Nite

DVD
Live in Buenos Aires

Believe your own lyin' eyes by watching Kiss perform "Modern Day Delilah" at Detroit's Cobo Arena on September 26, 2009:

Meshell Ndegeocello - Devil's Halo

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On Devil's Halo, singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello's recordings span from pop to light avant-garde, combining those unlikely styles and many others in-between to create the most satisfying amalgam of her eight-album career. You not only can hear this bassist's Jaco Pastorius and Sting influences, but, as producer, she also employs some of the best tricks hip-hop (with some beats) and minimalist Juno-era artists have circulated. The songwriting covers low key/high concept subject matter such as what's discussed in the slyly multi-tempo'd "Crying In Your Beer" (more like shots of Glenlivet), and there's the simplistic instrumental title track that says much without a single word. "Die Young," with its retro-synth use, well-intentioned "I hope you all die young" sentiment (you have to hear the context), Peter Gabriel/Robbie Robertson atmospherics, and Sade-meets-Joan Armatrading with Sarah Cracknell affectations create something that combines external inspiration with internal exploration for something you probably have never heard the likes of before.

But then, most of this highly original album does that. Because of its abundance of sensuous sonic experiments (think Roxy Music, Robert Fripp, and Pat Metheny), much of the project could be categorized as "progressive quiet storm"; but there also are energized, rhythm-generated, character observations like "Lola" (who "... drinks until she passes out on the floor") that, conceptually, have much in common with the archetypes that populated Joni Mitchell's The Hissing Of Summer Lawns. Guests include Lisa Germano, Oren Bloedow, and Mark Kelley, their performances melting into the aural stew. Warning: The opening track "Slaughter" will, at first, fool you into thinking it's Sade, but then it breaks into electric-guitar driven passages that would have the Astrid Gilberto disciple calling her lawyer. While we're making the comparison, if you're curious where Sade should have ended up after all these years, listen to "Tie One On" and "White Girl," two tracks that might have you itching to hear about the sweetest taboo from Meshell this time out. START HERE: "Bright Shiny Morning" or "Slaughter"

Tracks:
1. Slaughter
2. Tie One On
3. Lola
4. Hair Of The Dog
5. Mass Transit
6. White Girl
7. Love You Down
8. Devil's Halo
9. Bright Shiny Morning
10. Blood On The Curb
11. Die Young
12. Crying In Your Beer

Here is streaming audio of "Slaughter":

...and here is streaming audio of "Mass Transit":

Vince Guaraldi - The Definitive Vince Guaraldi

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Unless our parents were pretty hip about Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Mingus, etc., the majority of us probably had our first exposure to jazz music through the keyboard twinklings of Vince Guaraldi via A Boy Named Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, etc. Although, technically, Guaraldi played Latin jazz, he supplied some of the most melodic piano jazz of the fifties and sixties. He wasn't just another Erroll Garner who mostly is associated with cocktail lounge riffings; Guaraldi was more hep (complete with a thick handlebar moustache) and less pedal-heavy than Garner, and he associated with club cats like Cal Tjader.

Due to his popular trio and ensemble recordings--especially his famous Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus (on the 1959 French/Portuguese art film) and his accidental, b-side hit single "Cast Your Fate To The Wind"--Guaraldi's brand of jazz became quite a popular sub-genre for a while, his being added to a Latin slate of artists that included the likes of Stan Getz. And, of course, what secured him a place in the hearts of future generations were his contributions to Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" TV franchise that, to this day, indoctrinate young'ns by the millions.

The Definitive Vince Guaraldi is an economical overview of his Fantasy recordings, though any scholarly or even casual review of his legacy should have happened loooong before now. And it's a bit of a crime that, for some reason, he isn't deemed worthy of a real career box set, especially given that it could include his many appearances on other jazzists' projects. That said, this double disc plays beautifully, featuring almost every signature Guaraldi recording (hey, where are "Outra Vez" and "Zelao"?), and it includes a duet with guitarist Bola Sete and virtually all of his memorable Charlie Brownisms.

But on the downside, it's missing a couple of interesting pieces of the Guaraldi story, such as his music with the San Francisco Boys Chorus from 1968, and his Warner Bros. tracks that feature the pianist's vocal and guitar debuts. Still, you probably should trade-in his Greatest Hits CD for credit on this new double since it's got more meat on its bones. Guaraldi's detractors always labeled his style as nothing more than classy "supper music," and this collection certainly won't change their minds. It is un petit repas that fans should savor slowly as they wait for Godot or the appearance of that unlikely box set someday. Sadly, given the shape of today's music marketplace, Godot's got the best shot here. START HERE: "Cast Your Fate To The Wind"

Tracks:

Disc One
1. Calling Dr. Funk
2. Fascinating Rhythm
3. Never Never Land
4. Fenwyck's Farfel
5. A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing
6. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise
7. Samba de Orpheus
8. Cast Your Fate To The Wind
9. Manha de Carnival
10. Moon River
11. Jitterbug Waltz
12. On Green Dolphin Street
13. Star Song
14. The Days Of Wine And Roses

Disc Two
1. Mr. Lucky
2. Corovado
3. Work Song
4. Ginza Samba
5. The Girl From Ipanema
6. El Matador
7. Oh, Good Grief
8. Linus And Lucy
9. Charlie Brown Theme
10. The Great Pumpkin Waltz
11. Thanksgiving Theme
12. Christmas Is Coming
13. Christmas Time Is Here (instrumental version)
14. Skating
15. Theme To Grace
16. Autumn Leaves (previously unreleased version)
17. Blues For Peanuts (previously unreleased)

Here's a fan's retrospective of Vince Guaraldi's career set to "Cast Your Fate To The Wind":

THIS WEEK'S NEW ALBUMS:

Todd Agnew - Need
Air - Love 2
Alela & Alina - Alela & Alina (EP)
The Aliens - Luna
Rusty Anderson - Born On Earth
Aqua - Greatest Hits
Arch Enemy - The Root of All Evil
Asylum Street Spankers - God's Favorite Band
Backstreet Boys - This Is Us
Big Kenny - The Quiet Times Of A Rock And Roll Farmboy
Blue Collar Comedy Tour - The Best Of Blue Collar Comedy Tour (double disc)
Brakesbrakesbrakes - Rock Is Dodelijk
Elliott Brood - Mountain Meadows
The Candace Brooks Band - The Chase
Luke Bryan - Doin' My Thing
Built to Spill - There Is No Enemy
Brandi Carlile - Give Up The Ghost
George Carlin - FM & AM (reissue)
Rosanne Cash - The List
Exene Cervenka - Somewhere Gone
Ray Charles - The Spirit Of Christmas (reissue)
Vic Chesnutt - Skitter On Take Off
The Clientele - Bonfires On The Heath
Joe Cocker - Live At Woodstock
The Dan Band - Ho: A Dan Band Xmas
Betty Davis - Is This Love Or Desire
Kirsten DeHaan - Thorns On A Crown
John Denver - Live In The USSR
Dr. Hook - Pleasure & Pain / Sometimes You Win... (two-fer reissue)
Duran Duran - Rio (expanded edition, double disc)
Duran Duran - Live At Hammersmith '82 (CD/DVD)
Destino3 - Forte
Mike Doughty - Sad Man Happy Man
Eddie And The Hot Rods - The Singles Collection
Tinsley Ellis - Speak No Evil
Bill Engvall - Aged And Confused
Everclear - In A Different Light
The Fall Of Troy - In The Unlikely Event
Fool's Gold - Fool's Gold
Lita Ford - Wicked Wonderland
The Gossip - Music For Men
Vince Guaraldi - The Definitive Vince Guaraldi
Calvin Harris - Ready For The Weekend
Grant Hart - Hot Wax
Hawk Nelson - Live Life Loud
Hockey - Mind Chaos
The Irish Tenors - The Irish Tenors Christmas
Jamie T - Kings & Queens
The Jesus Lizard - Pure (EP reissue)
The Jesus Lizard - Head (reissue)
The Jesus Lizard - Liar (reissue)
The Jesus Lizard - Goat (reissue)
The Jesus Lizard - Down (reissue)
Daniel Johnston - Is And Always Was
Toby Keith - American Ride
KISS - Sonic Boom
Blake Lewis - Heartbreak On Vinyl
Dean Martin - My Kind Of Christmas
Michael McDonald - This Christmas
Mission Of Burma - The Sound, The Speed, The Light
Morphine - At Your Service (double disc)
The Mountain Goats - The Life Of The World To Come
Maria Muldaur - Maria Muldaur And Her Garden Of Joy
Nazareth - Nazareth / Exercises (two-fer reissue)
N'dambi - Pink Elephant
Meshell Ndegeocello - Devil's Halo
Willie Nelson - Shotgun Willie (vinyl)
New Order - Technique (vinyl)
New Order - Power, Corruption & Lies (vinyl)
New Order - Low-Life (vinyl)
New Order - Brotherhood (vinyl)
New Order - Technique (vinyl)
Noah And The Whale - The First Days Of Spring
Nothington - Roads, Bridges And Ruins
Nick Oliveri - Death Acoustic
Joe Perry - Joe Perry ... Have Guitar Will Travel
Port O'Brien - threadbare
Powerman 5000 - Somewhere On The Otherside Of Nowhere
Rascal Flatts - Greatest Hits / Volume 1 (double disc)
The Raveonettes - In And Out Of Control
Redemption - Snowfall On Judgment Day
Relient K - Forget And Not Slow Down
Jimmy Ruffin - Ruff 'N Ready (reissue)
Santana - Marathon: 30th Anniversary Edition
Scorpions - Pure Instinct
Vonda Shepard - The Best of Ally McBeal: The Songs Of Vonda Shepard
Frank Sinatra - Christmas With Sinatra And Friends
Meaghan Smith - The Cricket's Orchestra
JD Souther - Rain: Live At The Belcourt Theatre
Spandau Ballet - Gold: The Best Of Spandau Ballet (CD/DVD)
Steel Panther - Feel the Steel
Sufjan Stevens and Osso - Run Rabbit Run
Tiësto - Kaleidoscope
Tokio Hotel - Humanoid
Toto - Fahrenheit (reissue)
Conway Twitty - 12 Number One Hits
Uriah Heep - The Early Years
Various Artists - Def Jam 25 (box set)
Various Artists - The Motown Collection (box set)
Various Artists - NOW That's What I Call A Country Christmas
Various Artists - Refugees: An Anthology Of The Famous Charisma Label: 1969-1978
Various Artists - 12" Dance: The Definitive Collection, 1978-1995 (3 CDs)
Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy
The Very Best - Warm Heart Of Africa
BeBe & CeCe Winans - Still

...AND IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE LAND OF GLEE:

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