Throwback Thursday Album (a few days late): Sheryl Crow’s “Sheryl Crow”

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I haven’t always been a fan of Sheryl Crow.

I’m going to date myself here but when Tuesday Night Music Club dropped, I wasn’t particularly fond of “Leaving Las Vegas.” It was slow sounding, and back then I was still a rap and hip hop head listening to WuTang Clan, Biggie, with the few rock bands that snuck into my tape (yes I was around for tapes) collection – Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M, The Black Crowes, etc. These were all artists that kept me awake, alert, and entertained. And I wasn’t thrilled with Sheryl’s voice overall. The, like most teens my age, “All I Wanna Do” dropped, and I instantly changed my tune towards her. It was fast, funny, and had a great melody. Pretty much pop rock gold, which turned into platinum for her. Followed by “Can’t Cry Anymore” and I was pretty much hooked.

Then her second album, “Sheryl Crow,” finally arrived. I remember vividly ordering the tape from our campus store (which stopped selling cassettes and instead sold cds for EVERY artist) and once it arrived, I was completely blown away with it. She produced it, which back then and now for that matter – for a woman to produce her own music – pretty much unheard of  unfortunately. While Bill Botrell was behind the debut album production, this one was Sheryl. Plus 1. It was filled with just absolute greatness. I can’t say back in 1996 offhand that every cassette I owned was great from beginning to end, but THIS album my dear friends was. Every song to me, was a potential single, and every song had a message, hiding behind the pop rock and the quirky sound effects. The melodies worked extremely well with her voice and the lyrics were simple yet effective. And let’s face it on a “A Change Would Do You Good,” there were hand claps. I’m a fan of the hand claps. More songs need hand claps. That was a no brainer hit.

“If It Makes You Happy” to this day makes me laugh – not in a mean way, but the chorus kills me. “If It makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. If It makes you happy then why the hell are you so sad?” Why does it kill me? Because this chorus reigns true to life to this day, 21 years later. Things that make people happy should make us happy, not sad. If it makes us sad, then we shouldn’t continue to do things that make us sad. It’s just that simple. Plus 2. I also love the fact that while she sings the chorus, it comes completely across as shouting to me – as if she was trying to drive the idea home. I hear ya Sheryl. I hear ya. Even my mom thought this was a hit and she doesn’t like anyone.

Another favorite of mine, “Sweet Rosalyn,” is about a woman who keeps her head above water, working just enough to get by but she needs something to keep her going, to continue the fight, to keep her moving forward as they say. My favorite line is “Well, maybe we all could use a little grace to know when to run and when to stay in one place.” It’s not a long song lyrically, but it still makes an impact with the instrumentation. Between the slide, the dobro, and twangy guitars, I was pretty much sold on this one. Sheryl throws down on this one y’all. Check out this video of it.

 

 

I will always support Sheryl because I remember her fighting with Walmart in regards to the song, “Love is a Good Thing.” For those who don’t know, there’s a lyric about kids who use guns they purchased at Walmart. At that time, it was very true. And Walmart didn’t take too kindly to her statement (despite the stories hitting the news revealing where the guns came from) and removed her album from the stores. She stood firm though, and she didn’t give in. That to me, was completely awesome. And fierce. You rule Sheryl. She wanted it to be known that we need to do something about gun control. She sings it so nonchalantly but in doing so, made a big statement. Plus 3.

The opener, “Maybe Angels” is the song that kicked off my love for this album…the piano in particular. It just sounds so weird with the guitar riff that it fits. So weird. But it fits. And the subject matter about not being able to feel angels, but they are around. “I swear they’re out there, I swear…” It’s a mid tempo toe tapper (Say that FIVE times fast. I dare you. It’s ok. I’ll wait.” She finds angels to be mysterious, but she knows..she has a feeling…that the unexplained..can only be answered by angels. The rockers who have passed away, they’re coming back too. Ok, Sheryl. I believe you.

I won’t go on and on, but this is truly a great album. From beginning to end, it entertains, and you hear something different with each listen. AND she broke the dreaded second album slump AND the “Best New Artist” curse that hits many after winning a Grammy. Thank you Sheryl for releasing a perfect pop gem. My ears thank you as well.

 

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Gambino’s Game Plan…

It’s hard to pinpoint Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino. He’s a writer, an actor, an entertainer, a rapper, and now … it seems a funk master. I’ve been a fan of his music for a few years now. His lyrics are honest, heartfelt, and in some regards, just plain weird but entertaining – ranging from his self proclaimed nerdiness, growing up in middle class life, racism, and relationships. There’s a lot going on in that mind of his. And now he’s back with a new album called, “Awaken, My Love!” This album hands down, threw me. Goodbye to the rhymes for this project, he concentrated on making an old school funk, rock, and r&b album that would make George Clinton and Bootsy Collins proud. I was quite surprised really. But that’s what an artist does – always throws you. You should never expect the same thing. And Donald delivers. From the opening track, “Me and Your Mama,” a standout rock and funk song where he illustrates his singing chops, lines right up with there with the best of them, to “Boogieman,” and “Zombies,” it’s just a roller coaster of fun.. It’s exciting, and I appreciate him taking a complete left turn with his music. As someone who listens to rock music, and is Black, I definitely applaud anyone else who is Black and is in the music field to stretch and break boundaries of what Black artists are used to doing in music.

I’m not going to go on and on like most critics do about albums. Most of you won’t read it anyway. Just trust me when I say this album is worth the time and the listen. It’s 40 plus minutes of pure funky entertainment. And I most add that Donald’s voice as a singer isn’t bad at all. Usually I joke, “all rappers want to act, and all actors want to sing” but in his case, he’s pretty good. The time away from doing music has served him well and he came back with a vengeance. This album is a musical head trip. With every listen I hear something new and that’s how music should be, at least in my opinion – never boring, always intriguing. “Anything less would be uncivilized.” So come. Feel alive with the Gambino and travel inside his mind for a while. It’s worth it.

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Podcast #43. Electric Boogie..

Fellow Earbudders,

I’m back with another one right before the end of the year. I don’t know if I’ll make another year ender podcast, but stay tuned for my favorite 30 albums of 2015 post. It’s a doozy.. Until then, enjoy this show of dance, shakin’, and lovin’…

Click it.. click it!!! CLICK ITTTTTT!

Podcast #43

 

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Uma Thurman (feat. Wiz Khalifa) [Remix] – Fall Out Boy
Do What You Wanna Do (MYNC Radio Edit) – Nile Rodgers
Indestructible (feat. DBX) – Armin van Buuren
Temptation – Escort
Keep On (feat. Green Velvet) – Catz ‘N Dogz
In the Wild – Capital Kings
Til The Money Runs Out – !!!
We Are Not Alone (Fei-Fei Remix) – Basement Jaxx
When You See Me – Computer Magic
Pay My Rent – DNCE
We Continue – Dam-Funk
Milky Way – Air Waves
The First Heartbreak – Matthew Ryan
No Liars – Matthew Good
Life Is a Fear – Editors
Life is Long – Laura Stevenson
Philip the Engineer – JR JR
Smoke Around the Bend – Small Black
Happy Song – Bring Me the Horizon

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Lianne La Havas’ Reign – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC 9.23.15

I’ve said there seems to be a lack of true r&b and soul music in this day and age. But there is one artist that disputes my theory – Lianne La Havas. I had the pleasure of seeing her live at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. She’s a London born talent, with more talent in her little finger than many of the pop stars who call themselves singers today. She put on a perfectly smooth show, making quick and easy transitions from song to song. She’s on tour to promote her new album, “Blood.” She performed songs from that album, as well as her debut album, “Is Your Love Big Enough?” She’s a guitarist, an arranger, a songwriter, and quite the vocalist. She combines soul and a little bit of folk and thew in a LOT of her heart to make for a beautiful show hour plus show. Here is a clip of one of my favorite songs, Au Cinema. I suggest you listen to her two albums, and catch her while you can. You won’t be disappointed. Standouts include, “Unstoppable,” “Au Cinema,” “IYLBE,” “Forget,” and “What You Don’t Do.” Her voice is heaven. Her presence is commanding. It was a beautiful night, full of beautiful music.

 

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Podcast #5 for 2014. Bouncy Bouncy Bouncy …

As I battle this thing called major depression, it’s getting a bit harder for me to do this podcast. But I’m continuing to do it. I’m always hoping music will make me feel a bit better. And this list of folks does make life a bit more bearable. So I thought, as usual, I’d share with the crowd. It’s a lot of bouncy, dance-y, off the wall stuff folks. Usually I like to put together a mixture, but this time I found myself, for the sake of staying sane and stable, drawn to dance tunes or thought provoking tunes. You have been warned. So as I take another pill for the night, sit back, and relax. Thanks for listening.

Stream Here

Download Here

 

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Click the image for an even BIGGER image, because size matters.

 

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Meeker Warm Energy – Lone

Nothing Can Compare – Abi Ryan

Buffalo – Alt-J featuring Mountain Man

Appreciate Me [Trip To Paradise Mix] – Amuka

Mother & Father – BROODS

Until It’s Gone – Linkin Park

Overthinking – Ryan Hemsworth

Pulsing (Feat. Nina K) – Tomas Barfod

Gone And Found – Mø

Artifice – SOHN

Drive – Those Darlins

Page One – Charlatans UK

Crazy Fool – Girls Aloud

Spectre – Tycho

In the Summer (Brookes Brothers Remix) – Crystal Fighters

What Are You Waiting For? – Paradise Fears

Over Your Shoulder – Chromeo

The Passenger – Alison Mosshart & The Forest Rangers

That’s a wrap folks … for now anyway..

 

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PS – Sorry this is late, but happy pride to all my gay, bi, and transgendered buds. Rock on.