Elvis Costello: “Taking Liberties”
Like most collections of rarities, B-sides and previously unreleased tracks, there are a lot of great songs on this album (which crams 20 tracks onto one slab of vinyl) – but that doesn’t make it a great album. Costello’s fascination with American country music was already evident in 1980 – long before country was cool – but those tracks (“Radio Sweetheart,” “Black & White World,” “Stranger in the House”) just don’t mesh well with the more punk-infused New Wave cuts like “Clean Money,” which kicks off side 1. Still, there’s enough interesting material here to justify repeat listenings.
MC Hammer: “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em”
Don’t you judge me.
Bootsy’s Rubber Band: “Player of the Year”
The first time you listen to this record, start with side 2 – that’s where the funk is. In fact, the first three cuts have more than enough high-energy funk to balance out the slow jamz on side 1, which, to be honest, leave me kind of cold. Gotta let Bootsy be Bootsy, baby.
Ron Franklin: “Ron Franklin”
Stripped-down Americana folk-rock singer/ songwriter stuff, with a bit more electric guitar than you might expect. Strong Dylan influences, especially late-60s vintage. Makes me want to light one up on the back porch while I soak up the tunes and the late afternoon sun.
Sparklehorse + Fennesz: “In the Fishtank #15”
I’ve had this record for maybe four years now, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. Some beautifully resonant acoustic guitar, some atmospheric and cinematic electronic sounds, and then some dissonant noise that goes nowhere. Still, it manages to hang together somehow, and I do keep putting it on the turntable – so it must have something going for it.