Every time I watch an international music awards ceremony on television, I get depressed. Because I know that, even with all our music talent and money, our so-called entertainment industry will never be able to match up.
There was a time when we had a pop music scene, and a variety of artists, who wrote and produced their own music and gained much fame and success. However dated they may look now, they had set the standard then, for an independent non-film music scene.
We know the names, we know the songs, but all that was more than ten years ago. Where is all that today? Why are there only multi-genre bands supposedly carrying the mantle of non-film music?
Why do all the winners of all these waste-of-time music reality shows recede into the bottomless pit of obscurity? Why are we allowing our precious talent to be chewed up and spit out by mediocre electronic media that we spend hours being manipulated by?
Understand that the music labels cannot dictate terms anymore. The bare-as-bones music channels are heaving their last breaths, as they struggle to compete against the doubly mediocre general entertainment channels.
And radio, which, at times, offers some glimmer of hope to these independent music artistes, are like sad-faced clowns that hide behind happy make-up for a mass audience, consistently burying themselves under their own voice.
Aren’t we inspired enough anymore, to unite for the common good of music, that so needs to break free from the shackles of campy chocolate-faced, dumb-starlet-led, corporate-spreadsheet-programmed disillusioners? Think about it…If I may say so.
Red Velvet Car
Twenty years after their 1990 album Brigade topped the charts, veteran rock sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson bring back the ‘heart’ sound we all loved so well. Well, at least the ones who remember. But I would suggest that new ears approach this as the first Heart album that you will hear and work your way backwards. I would say skip the previous two releases in between and go straight to Brigade. Coming back to Red Velvet Car, age has brought much wither to the 60 year-old voice of lead singer Ann Wilson, but the resonance remains. And that, my friends is the ‘heart’ of this album.
Band of Joy
The Led-master returns once again with a reunion of sorts. Band of Joy was the band that Robert Plant and John Bonham were a part of before they joined Led Zeppelin. So this time around, minus the legendary Bonham, but using the name, Plant has created another work of staggering genius. It’s amazing how Plant sticks to his earthy sound and gives a new spin to long-forgotten music. Songs like House of cards by Richard and Linda Thompson, Harms swift way by Townes Van Zandt, amidst traditional folk ditties like Cindy I’ll marry you someday make for some splendid listening. But you ain’t heard nothing till you blast the amazing Angel dance.
Indian cover bands will be happy to hear this one. Phil Collins has taken classic Motown songs and recreated them note-for-note. This is his first solo album in eight years and I have a mixed reaction to it. As much as I love the Motown sound and ’60s soul, it is one thing to hear it as it is and another to recreate it. Although Collins has often referenced the sound in earlier albums through hits like, Sussudio and You can’t hurry love, a cover of the Supremes classic, it is this whole-hearted focused effort that brings about a fresh take on the songs. One will find a lot of the ‘known’ Motown hits absent, the exceptions being Papa was a rolling stone (The Temptations), and Uptight (Stevie Wonder) among the (by today’s standards) obscure, Loving You is sweeter than ever (The Four Tops) or Jimmy Mack (Martha & The Vandellas). So go listen to these ‘covers’ and seek out the originals.
How great are the blues as a genre! ...The simplest of forms of song that can be interpreted in so many ways. And one of its great interpreters has always been Eric Clapton. This is his 19th studio album. and as he completes a 45-plus year career in music, what better way than to celebrate the blues with a little help from his friends? And when the friends are legends like Jim Keltner, Willie Weeks, Walt Richmond, JJ Cale, Sheryl Crow, Steve Winwood and Derek Trucks, there can only be fireworks. A heady mix of new material and some stellar covers, (‘Autumn leaves’… sublime!). This is one for the collection and after a long time, a Clapton album will be raved about again.