Last Week's Purchases

Merle Haggard, "Sing Me Back Home" The death (and subsequent reissue and movie treatments) of Johnny Cash has pushed the legacy of Merle Haggard into the shadows. Yet the recent release of ten classic 60’s albums (on two-fer sets) proves that Haggard was every bit as transcendent. The plaintive morning-after plea of “Sing Me Back Home” ranks as one of the greatest country songs of any era.

Van Morrison, "Your Cheating Heart" Van Morrison is one of those vocalists that could sing the phone book with conviction. I guess it’s only inevitable that at some point in his career he would tackle classic country tunes. While “Pay the Devil” surely doesn’t rank as one of his greatest albums, Morrison’s soulful vocals puts to shame all but a few of the current country chart-toppers.

Neko Case, "Hold On" I guess we’re on a bit of a country role this week. Neko Case isn’t truly a country artist, but her beautiful voice has always been reminiscent of Patsy Cline. “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” is her best album to date…and that’s saying a lot.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, "Ramblin' Man" This is one collaboration that should never have worked. Campbell, the former chanteuse of Belle and Sebastian, paired with the grunge king lead singer of Screaming Trees? Yet “Ballad of the Broken Seas” does work in a darker Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra sort of way.

Exene Cervenka & the Original Sinners, "Born Yesterday" The co-lead singer of X hasn’t faired as well on solo projects as John Doe…until now. “Sev7en” is full-on roots rock that isn’t all that much different than latter-day X, but it’s refreshing to hear Cervenka in charge.

T. Rex, "Metal Guru" (Demo version) Although T. Rex is primarily known in America for “Get It On”, in the early 70’s he was England’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll star. Rhino Records is reissuing most of the T. Rex catalog in two disc sets, filled with outtakes, demos, and live material. “The Slider” may be the best of the bunch, although all of them have their moments.

Mudhoney, "Hard On For War" It’s a shame that the true creators of grunge never truly capitalized on the scene they created. Fifteen years later, though, they are the only band left from the early Seattle scene. There’s nothing new about “Under a Billion Suns”; they’re still loud and…uh, grunge-y.

Mogwai, "Glasgow Mega-Snake" Scotland’s biggest band has yet to make a mark in America, but that could change with “Mr. Beast”, their loudest album to date. The band has ditched most of the samplers and other electronic equipment and the result is what Mojo calls “an ultramodern rock masterpiece”.


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