The Curse of Rupert Murdoch

My New Nation column is called “Acknowledging the Rot” and it’s about the belatedly-recent-but-nevertheless-welcome transformation of the MSM’s impression of the Murdoch empire. You can find it here.


Pizzarelli and Molaskey at the Carlyle:

This will likely be the only time that John Pizzarelli & Jessica Molaskey are compared to the Allman Brothers band, but the fact with with the latter’s March runs at the Beacon now a thing of the past, John and Jessica’s annual run at the Café Carlyle has become the most dependable great-time in the city.

They are both profoundly talented and they seem to get along weirdly well, especially for people who are married. Pizzarelli plays brilliant guitar, sings decently and is the gold standard in stage patter. Molesky sings and schmoozes and does wonderful things with the Joni Mitchell songbook on her new cd, but they really live in the classics—Gershwin, Porter, Kern, even the occasional previously crappy post-Beatle McCartney song. (They’re not all crappy, but Pizzarelli seems to appreciat the challenge of reviving the crappy ones.) Their new show is called “The Little Things You Do Together,” borrowed from a Stephen Sondheim composition from Company.

I apologize to Jessica but the highlight of the show is the final encore when Pizzarelli performs—as he did last year—a stupid song called “I Like Jersey Best,” by Joe Cosgriff in which he imitatates Dylan, Springsteen, the Beach Boys, James Taylor, and a bunch of people I can’t remember anymore. But they were really good imitations and the lyrics were funny and forgettable, which means you have to go see it if you want to experience it. Yes the Carlyle is crazy expensive but the Allmans weren’t cheap either. If you’re looking for an anniversary or a birthday celebration, and you can futz with the dates, trust me, you won’t regret this choice.

(Update: Glad I did not go on the evening about which Jessica felt compelled to write this on Facebook: “Last night at the Carlyle we had a first. 51 privileged millennials from Texas had a birthday party at our show ( which was completely sold out with people who come to see us every year.) they were disgustingly drunk they talked made fun of us, danced wandered in and out and pretty much ruined the night for everyone. I mean in almost twenty years of doing high end cabaret in NYC (trust me we have seen it all ) this was different. This is Trumps America now. Rich, tasteless, classless entitled, no empathy BRATS!! I want to thank all of our wonderful friends who were there and gracefully endured these Neanderthals. MAKE AMERICA SMART AGAIN!!!”)

I also caught a show at City Winery by Shawn Colvin and Her Band doing a A Few Small Repairs 20th Anniversary Tour w/ Special Guests Larry Campbell & Teresa Campbell.

Colvin, in from Austin was celebrating her breakthrough album which she wrote with her ex, John Levanthal, who showed up as a surprise guest, joining a band that featured the multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell and his vocalist wife Teresa Williams, (this is getting to be a theme here). There’s a 20th anniversary edition of A Few Small Repairs just out on Columbia/Legacy with a bunch of live performances culled from the Sony Music archives, plus enhanced artwork including newly-written liner notes by Shawn and Leventhal and recently discovered archival photos.

I keep seeing Campbell & Williams everywhere I go, last time was with Hot Tuna, where she did the Grace Slick vocals on the Airplane segment of the show. Collectively, they’ve played with Dylan Paul Simon, Little Feat, Phil Lesh, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Mavis Staples, and, for a long time as part of Levon Helm ramble. (Campbell is kind of the musical president of Woodstock.) They’ve got two albums out now. The second one is called “Contraband Love” and together with these shows, it shows off their unmatched musical education. I particularly loved their version of Reverend Gary Davis’ “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning,” a Hot Tuna staple, which reminds me, Jack and Jorma will be doing four nights at City Winery at the end of this month, to replace their annual Beacon show. Maybe you can get standing room. In the meantime, spend an evening with Larry and Teresa and you won’t be disappointed.

Leonard Bernstein at Rose Hall:

Last weekend at Jazz@Lincoln Center, the Orchestra paid tribute to Leonard Bernstein. This was one of the most interesting shows I’ve seen them do in the 30 years we have been together (sort of). Nobody thinks of Bernstein as a jazz composer. But he was really (like Mr. Ellington) beyond category. Arranged by Richard DeRosa—who reminded me a little of my junior high music teacher and Vincent Gardner, who, decidedly did not--the program was heavy with West Side Story and On the Town as well as a beautiful “Lamentation (Jeremiah) from Symphony #1 that I had never heard. (Has anyone?) The version of “Somewhere” that DeRosa arranged as part of a WSS medley took off in so many exciting directions simultaneously that it would have justified the entire evening even if it had been boringly ritualistic and overly respectful, which thanks to Mr. Marsalis’ self-confidence, J@LCO surely has never been. Next up in Rose Hall is another visit from Steve Miller, this one with Jimmy Vaughan and Charley Musselwhite the weekend of December 1 and the always Big Band Holiday shows beginning 12/14 with the great Cat Russell and Kenny Washington. I’m also planning on a few shows at Dizzy’s this season, like Sherman Irby’s New Christmas show and the Carlos Henriquez Octet: The Latin Side of Dizzy. You can find it all at See you there.

Begin Holliday Gift-Giving Guide:

John Lee Hooker Box Set:

Thanks to Concord Record’s Craft Recordings for pulling togher the comprehensive five cd John Lee Known collection, “King of the Boogie.” This is a primary document of the blues. If you are unfamiliar with Hooker, who died in 2011, you will be surprised at how much classic rock n roll derives from his deceptively simple music and lyrics, the best of which dates from the fifties. endures as one of the true superstars of the blues genre. In this package, you get 100 songs on five CDs with a deep cuts you’d have to be a collector to have heard before, a nice 54-page book of rare photos and liner notes by the historian Jas Obrecht and Hooker’s manager Mike Kappus.

Bob Dylan in His Gospel Time: Trouble No More — The Bootleg Series Vol. 13/1979-1981

I knew everyone was going to want to like Dylan’s Christian period once this box came out. And here we are, and everyone does. (I wrote about Dylan’s Christian period in Foreign Policy, here last year or so) And come to think of it, its reputation is not as bad as I remember. “ “Gotta Serve Somebody” is a great song, even though you absolutely don’t gotta. “Slow Train Coming” won a Grammy in 1979. (Here’s a live version from 1981)

This box set includes countless performances of his Christian material on eight CDs and a DVD called Trouble No More: A Musical Film, which has lots of performances, rehearsals and a kind of movie. reviewed here, that includes stage and rehearsal performances from 1979-1981, as well as entirely new footage with an actor as a preacher, and shot in a church.

The sound, everyone seems to agree, is great. And so are the performances. Remastered by Steve Addabo, Chris Shaw and Mark Wilder (Jeff Rosen, Steve Berkowitz and Gregg Geller are the producers), the band is a still-sounding great Dylan on vocals, keyboards, harmonica and guitar; Fred Tackett on guitar; Tim Drummond on bass; Jim Keltner on drums; Dewey Lindon “Spooner” Oldham on keyboards; and Terry Young on piano and vocals. The backup singers are also first class, including Clydie King, MonaLias Young, Regina McCarary, Mary Elizabeth Bridges and Gwen Evans. Elsewhere in this box you can also find Carolyn Dennis, Benmont Tench, Willie Smith, Danny Kortchmar, Madelyn Quebec, Mark Knopfler, Helena Springs.

It’s not 100 percent Christian music. You get live versions of “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” but it’s mostly multiple version of songs like “Are You Ready?”, “Saved,” “Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody,” “Solid Rock,” “Pressing On” along with “Slow Train” and “Gotta Serve….” It’s all great with the debateable exception of the songs themselves. Me, I can only get behind a few of them. And to be fair (and honest) some of these come as a revelation, which I guess is the point of this—since so many people, myself included, wrote off this music when it was first released. I’m not writing it off entirely now. Still it’s work to find the pearls here. You might want to go with the two-cd highlights if you are not a Dylan completist.

David Bowie Box Set

David Bowie’s career is getting the same royal treatment that Dylan’s (and Miles’s) is, with every period meticulously documented with remasters and archives and boxes and essays and photos and with “A New Career in a New Town (1977 – 1982)” there is almost an embarassment of riches.

This is the third in a series of box sets spanning Bowie’s career. It began with “David Bowie ‘Five Years’ (1969-73) and “David Bowie “Who Can I Be Now? (1974-76). And the people who put these together do a beautiful job. This one is an eleven CD box that is focused on the the so-called ‘Berlin Trilogy’ of albums mad with Tony Visconti and Brian Eno which ended with “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).“

It’s got all kinds of stuff you’d have had to pay thousands for to collect and then would be too inconvenient ever to play. Most exciting is the new “Lodger” (Tony Visconti 2017 Mix)’ There’s also a new compilation called “Re:Call 3,” with previously uncollected single versions, non-album singles and b-sides, and songs featured on soundtracks. The ‘Baal’ E.P. in its entirety here for the first time and so are ‘Beauty And The Beast’ (extended version) and ‘Breaking Glass’ (Australian single version). The box’s book is 128 pages with previously unpublished photos by photographers including Anton Corbijn, Helmut Newton, Andrew Kent, Steve Schapiro, among others, and notes from Visconti.

Here’s the list of everything included:

Low (remastered) (1CD)

"Heroes" (remastered) (1CD)

“Heroes” E.P. (remastered) (CD EP)*

Stage (remastered) (2CD)*

Stage (2017) (remastered) (2CD)

Lodger (remastered) (1CD)

Lodger (Tony Visconti 2017 Mix) (1CD)*

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1CD)

Re:Call 3 (non-album singles, single versions and b-sides) (remastered) (1CD)*

And here is what is on the ReCall cd:

1. "Heroes" (single version)

2. Beauty And The Beast (extended version)

3. Breaking Glass (Australian single version)

4. Yassassin (single version)

5. D.J. (single version)

6. Alabama Song

7. Space Oddity (1979 version)

8. Ashes To Ashes (single version)

9. Fashion (single version)

10.Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (single version)

11.Crystal Japan

12.Under Pressure (single version) - Queen and David Bow

Bertolt Brecht's Baal

13.Baal's Hymn

14.Remembering Marie A.

15.Ballad Of The Adventurers

16.The Drowned Girl

17.The Dirty Song

18.Cat People (Putting Out Fire) (soundtrack album version)

19.Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy * - David Bowie and Bing Crosby

The Who Box Set:

Finally, I am spending a lot of time with the latest Who box, called Maximum As & Bs. It’s five cds of singles and b-sides which combines the four previous 7' singles box set. This collects 86 songs from the Brunswick, Reaction, Track and Polydor labels beginning with the band s first single, as the High Numbers Zoot Suit backed by 'I'm The Face. The packaging is really tight, each of the five CDs, has its own separate wallets, in a handsome lift-off box with a 48 page booklet with lots of information on each track and period photos. Oh and hey, the music is great. I actually have it on all the time, which surprises me, since I was feeling like the Who had been played out in my life for the past few years, but this box has rejuvenated my love for them and now it reigns o’er me. It’s also not that expensive

Also, Green Acres

Are you nostalgic for “Green Acres” as the place to be? If so, there’s a complete series box for that too. I thought I might be. I’m not, but maybe you are. On to Hooterville on fully 24 DVDs. That over 4245 minutes of Arnold the Pig, etc…

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