Los Straitjackets: Rock En Español, Vol. 1
I saw this band a few weeks ago open for Los Lobos at a transcendent free concert by the river in Albany. They're Anglo musicians who wear Mexican wrestling masks, and have made this album of Spanish language versions of 60s pop songs. "Hang on Sloopy" becomes "Hey Lupe" etc... also including "Loco te patina el Coco" (Wild Thing) and "El Microscopicio bikini" (Dizzy Miss Lizzie). Featuring the best instrumentalists you've never heard before, plus the vocal stylings of Big Sandy. An essential purchase, and then check out the segment Terry Gross did with them on
Passe em Casa
This is the most infectious, melodic, emotional music I've heard in years, by three giants of Brazilian pop music: Maria Montes, Arnaldo Antunes and Carlhinos Brown. The DVD of these sessions is even better. A total delight. Give one to all your friends.
Levi Stubbs' Tears
Billy Bragg: Talking with the Taxman
Let us now praise Billy Bragg. "Mixing pop and politics, he asks me what the use is," the Bard of Barking once wrote about an interviewer. "I offered him apologies and my usual excuses." None necessary, Bill. All his early albums are handsomely repackaged and loaded with extra goodies. Start with this album, and this heartbreakingly beautiful song, then if you really want some fun, buy the box set, it comes with a DVD. Go see David at RebelRebel on Bleecker Street, and tell him I sent you.
Seu Jorge: The Life Aquatic
Rebel Rebel: A great David Bowie song. Also the name of my favorite CD store in the village at 319 Bleecker. And now part of a delightful album of acoustic versions of David Bowie song sung in Portugeuese. Indescribably delicious.
Cat Power: The Greatest
She has a voice like syrup, she recorded this album with Al Green's band, she's a gifted songwriter...why is this the first Cat Power album I've ever heard? It won't be the last.
Waltz for Debby
Bill Evans: complete village vanguard recordings
My day goes like this: I make a pot of Darjeeling tea. I read two, maybe three newspapers. I start working on the computer and start listening to Bill Evans. I do both all day. If you love jazz, if you've never listened to jazz, you'll love Bill's records from the 1960s. This set captures his most famous trio at their most famous gig.
Great Big Kiss
Johnny Thunders: So Alone
I used to hear this song on the great, still going strong Vin Scelsa's show on WNEW-FM, and now the New York proto-punk album to beat the band is out on CD. You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory indeed.
Come On/Let's Go
Paul Weller: As Is Now
The Modfather is back, although he does look unhealthily like a Gallagher brother in the video... I liked the Jam, didn't care for the Style Council, loved Paul Weller's first two solo albums, been disappointed with some of his product since then --but the new one's a grower.
michael penn: Mr. Hollywood, Jr. 1947
A return to form from one half of one of rock's greatest couples. This is the first song from an album of stunners, a song cycle every bit as brainy as Aimee's.
I could have chosen any song by this wonderful new band. See my post over there on the right column about a recent enchanted evening for more about Hem.
Tom Holt: The Portable Door
A good introduction to a writer who also wrote a wonderful book about Snow White and the Seven Samurai. Not quite as wonderful as Terry Pratchett, but in the same class and almost as prolific. Bet you can't read just one.
Jane and Michael Stern: Two for the Road
I still have my first edition, much stained and dog-eared, of the Sterns' 1975 classic Roadfood but now I'm happy to share my affection for my heroes with their growing audience of readers and fellow travelers at www.roadfood.com. This memoir with recipes is great fun and inspirational too, as in the classic chapter What Would Jesus Eat?
Joe Jackson: a cure for gravity
Joe Jackson is smart, a great writer, and insightful about his life leading up to success in music. Growing up in Portsmouth, going to musical college, playing for drunks, traveling in grotty vans; Jackson paid his dues and here's the proof.
The Vesuvius Club
A naughty pleasure, a James Bond movie written by Oscar Wilde, a shocking example of loose morals in Edwardian England. Lucifer Box is a painter/secret agent whose service to the Crown takes him on wild, pulse-quickening adventures. More please!
Tony Hawks: Round Ireland with a Fridge
It's about just what the title says. A very funny man made a very drunk bet and found himself having to hitch-hike around Ireland with a (small) refrigerator. Mayhem ensues. All Ireland rallies to his cause, well, not all Ireland...
This great novel is, in part, about one of my favorite subjects, crabs. It's also about a search for identity in the 1970s, and it's written by my cousin, OK? Buy this book and find out something you didn't know about Alaska.
Norman Lindsay: The Magic Pudding
Noman Lindsay was a great Australian artist, writer and free thinker. His children's classic is virtually unknown in the U.S. Fun fact: The movie Sirens with Elle McPherson is about Lindsay, and for a fleeting second a toy Puddin' appears on screen. I'm surely the only man in America who went to see that movie to catch a glimpse of a stuffed toy.
Kinky Friedman: A Case of Lone Star
In his first career, Kinky Friedman led a band called the Texas Jewboys and recorded classics like "They don't make Jews like Jesus anymore." Much sex, drugs and rock and roll later, Kinky started writing comic detective novels starring himself and populated with real people and events. I'm stealing his formula for my novel, Murder in the Propaganda Factory, but my hat's off to the Kinkster. News Flash: Kinky's hat is finally in the ring --he's a candidate for Texas Governor. More at www.kinkyfriedman.com!!
Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair: A Novel
In another 1985, in the London suburb of Croydon, lliterary detective Thursday Next is after arch-villain Archeron Hades, who's been kidnapping characters like Jane Eyre and threatening to undo great fiction. Are the (five so far) Thursday Next novels the funniest, most interesting and intelligent series of books now being written? With all apologies to Terry Pratchett (a close #2), I'd have to say yes.
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OK, so I'm obsessed with Richard Nixon. Lots of people, well three at least, share my mania, and some of them are big time media stars. (You know who you are, Al Franken and Harry Shearer). This is about the night I had dinner with some of the team from the Senate Watergate committee. I brought some of my favorite artifacts, like my life size inflatable Nixon. (What, you've never seen one?)