|Madnezz / Backcornerz||Backcornerz||5:52|
Bridget St. John has a small legion of fans willing to do battle for their hero, but to most she sounds like a pleasant, secondary British folk-rock artist of the early 1970s. Those impressions won't be changed by this, her third album, mixing low-key originals with covers of songs by Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly, as well as one of her most popular tracks, an interpretation of the traditional folk tune "Lazarus." Simply put, St. John doesn't come within bow-and-arrow range of Sandy Denny or Maddy Prior. She favors a low, slightly husky delivery that sometimes brings to mind what Marianne Faithfull might have sounded like in the late '70s had Faithfull's voice lowered naturally, instead of being ravaged. Reserve can be effective, but it sounds like St. John would need to be roasted over an open flame before her temperature rose.
[The album was reissued on CD in 1995, with the addition of eight bonus tracks from a live performance in 1972.]
As can be expected with a collection that spans the years 1966 to 1971, a time when the stylistic curve changed by the month, Grapes of Wrath is wildly inconsistent. The music is certainly derivative, but the songs are fairly accomplished derivations, so much so that listening to the collection becomes an exercise in "pick the influence." "If Anyone Should Ask" pounds like a Dave Clark Five garage outtake (and, thus, not on a level with actual DC5); "Not a Man" is subpar "Mr. Tambourine Man folk-rock (and as the "in sound" of 1967, received considerable local airplay); "Irene" is an answer to the New Vaudeville Band's "Winchester Cathedral" with a bit of Beatles and the Lovin' Spoonful thrown in; "Life's Not for Me (Only for You)" is a post-Revolver, sitar-singed raga dirge, completely of its time, but still enjoyable; and "If She Leaves Me" betrays debts, as does much of the recorded output here, to John Lennon. The Grapes of Wrath really began coming into their own as writers and musicians in 1968, reaching its undeniable early peak with "Have a Good Time on Me." Despite the wall of guitars that opens the song, "Have a Good Time on Me" is a fine piece of soulful pop/rock, like the Buckinghams without horns, but it is even more complex, adding a nice section in the middle as well as a coda coated in Beatles/Beach Boys harmonies. There was more decent music to follow, namely "Makin' It Through 71," a personal narrative on main songwriter Steve Whitehurst's difficult year (but also a walk through a Paul McCartney-styled, late-Beatles rocker) and "Shades of Lillian White," which marries the pretty acoustic work of George Harrison and McCartney circa White Album and Let It Be. But even those were disjointed in parts, as the band began fracturing. Grapes of Wrath won't change anyone's world, but it is a visible window into the changing face of pop music during the Vietnam era.
Sony’s triple-disc 2010 set The Music of Dan Fogelberg is a thorough budget-line retrospective of the singer/songwriter’s career. Most of Fogelberg’s hits are bunched on the first disc (and they’re almost all here, outside of some smaller hits like “Lost in the Sun” and “Down the Road”), leaving space on the rest of the compilation for fan favorites and album tracks. While this may not be assembled with the kind of exacting touch that characterizes bigger, more expensive box sets, it offers a generous portion of Fogelberg’s best music at a nice price.
As a celebration of "Tom" Jobim's 60th birthday in 1987, a Brazilian consort simply called the Organization sponsored an album that anthologized his output as a composer. Jobim made the final choices of 24 tunes, recorded them with his band of family and friends, and the results were released privately in a limited edition. Recorded at around the same time as Passarim, it's possible that Jobim did not want this retrospective to compete with his new material. Not until 1995 did the Brazilian arm of BMG put out a commercial edition of this project in a very handsome two-CD box with a beautifully illustrated 38-page color booklet (alas, the contents could have been easily squeezed onto only one CD). It's far from a casual project, obviously carefully rehearsed and polished; rather it's an intimate one, using a minimum of resources, backed only by Jobim's simply-stated piano on several tracks. There is the expected quota of greatest hits like "Desafinado," "One Note Samba," "Chega de Saudades," and "Wave," yet the bulk of the material is not very familiar, often dispatched in to-the-point slices that sometimes clock in at less than two minutes. Jobim also takes a personal flyer by including his countryman Heitor Villa-Lobos' haunting "Seresta No. 5," with just himself on piano backing Danilo Caymmi's vocal, followed by his own "Modinha." Jaques Morelenbaum provides the occasional string arrangements and cello solos, again keeping things uncluttered and decidedly less ambitious than Claus Ogerman's charts on a previous Jobim retrospective, Terra Brasilis. Sometimes the arrangements are unpredictable; "The Girl From Ipanema" omits the words of the first chorus, picking up the thread on the bridge, and the stunning "Estrada do Sol" shifts gears several times. The feeling of saudade is very much front and center on Jobim's birthday present to himself -- he later said that this was his favorite album -- and all of his connoisseurs should try to hunt it down in the import bins.