New Sets Mine American History Print
Music - Music News
Written by John M. James   
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 02:41

Song of America Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno presents a grand, glorious history of this land in Song of America, a (literally) red, white, and blue three-CD set that opens with a "Lakota Dream Song" from 1492 and travels all the way to the Civil Rights movement and beyond. Rather than drag out scratchy 78s, Reno enlisted a train car of today's finest to join the nation in songs that defined us. Highlights include John Wesley Harding's "God Save the King," Marah standing over "John Brown's Body," Jake Shimabukuro's ukulele transformation of "Stars & Stripes Forever," Suzy Bogguss putting on the gloves of "Rosie the Riveter," and Devendra Banhart's suburban tour of "Little Boxes." Modern classics are represented as well, from Ben Taylor's cover of Neil Young's "Ohio" to The Dynamites' funk of James Brown's "Say It Loud (I'm Black & I'm Proud)."

As Tom Waits writes in the introduction, "It was a time when songs were tools for living." The early 20th Century is captured in People Take Warning: Murder Ballads & Songs of Disaster 1913-1938 on the Tompkins Square Records imprint. The three-CD box set features Furry Lewis, Charlie Patton, Uncle Dave Macon, and more.

The four-CD hardbound set Four Decades of Folk Rock from Time Life collects 71 songs ranging from Bob Dylan, The Byrds, and Donovan from the 1960s through artists of the '90s such as Billy Bragg, John Hiatt, and Mazzy Star. Surprises are plentiful and spot-on, from Fred Neil, The Stone Ponies, and Pentangle to the Indigo Girls, Uncle Tupelo, and Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey's "Angel" from 1995.


Television Alert:


The Tonight Show with Jay Leno flips on LCD Soundsystem tonight, Cold War Kids on Thursday, and the Editors on Friday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien boasts Rogue Wave this evening, Ben Harper on Friday, and Rilo Kelly on Monday overnight; The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson presents Ben Lee on Thursday and 50 Cent on Monday overnight; Jimmy Kimmel Live adds up Mute Math this evening, KT Tunstall on Thursday, and Sea Wolf on Tuesday overnight; and The Henry Rollins Show on IFC features Ryan Adams this weekend.


New Releases Coming Tuesday, September 25:


Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (XL Recordings)

The Bird & the Bee - Please Clap Your Hands (Blue Note) this five-song CD EP features a cover of the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love?"

Sir Richard Bishop - Polytheistic Fragments (Drag City) solo acoustic guitar instrumentals from the Sun City Girls co-founder, channeling the spirit and bumble-bee fretboard runs of Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, and John Fahey

Nappy Brown - Long Time Coming (Blind Pig) good-time big-band blues featuring a cover of Willie Dixon's "Who"

The Darjeeling Limited - original motion picture soundtrack (Abkco) Indian film scores peppered with The Kinks and Rolling Stones

Decemberists - Perfect Crime #2 (Capitol) digital-download or 12-inch-vinyl EP with remixes by Junior Boys, A Touch of Class, and Diplo

Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade (New West) produced by Dust Brother John King, the new album features a cover of Tom Waits' "Down in the Hole," which will also serve as the fifth-season credits theme for HBO's The Wire - in which Earle plays a small reoccurring role; also available on 180-gram audiophile vinyl LP and a deluxe CD/DVD package

Eskimo Joe - Black Fingernails Red Wine (Rykodisc) domestic issue of this worthy Australian hit

Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace (Roswell/RCA) with guest guitarist Kaki King on "The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners"

Freezepop - Future Future Future Perfect (Cordless) featuring the icy cold "Less Talk More Rokk," found inside the Guitar Hero II video game

The Glass - Couples Therapy (Plant Music) stylish, sweaty, pumped-up electronica

Herbie Hancock - River: The Joni Letters (Verve) exploring covers of Joni Mitchell songs with guest vocalists Norah Jones, Leonard Cohen, Tina Turner, and Corinne Bailey Rae

His Name Is Alive - Xmmer (Silver Mountain) coy, ambitious, layered return of the experimental duo, coaxing sweet melodies from the mysterious Andrea Francesca Morici

Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog (Sub Pop) also available on vinyl

Dan Kaufman - Force of Light (Tzadik) somber, fascinating audio project based on the works of poet and Holocaust survivor Paul Celan

LVX Collective - 50.5.10 (Green Tea) trip-hop dub affair from On-u Sound alumni Dave Harrow and percolating rapper Zen

Bob Marley - Exodus (Island) 30th-anniversary reissue celebrated in a new book, CD/DVD set, theatre tour of the film Live at The Rainbow, and a specially licensed t-shirt

Matt Pond PA - Last Light (Altitude) featuring a duet with Neko Case in the slow, beautiful dance of "Taught to Look Away"

Midtown Dickens - Oh Yell! (307 Knox) breathtakingly fresh alt-folk duo of two young women from Durham, North Carolina, talking back to Mr. Big Stuff and lovin' on rain, Saturday mornings, banjos, and Tetris

Joni Mitchell - Shine (Hear Music) all-new Starbucks-associated release, featuring a new accordion-fueled spin through her own "Big Yellow Taxi," and a song adapted from a Rudyard Kipling poem

Ewan Pearson - Piece Work (!K7) two-CD set of remixes of songs by Goldfrapp, the Chemical Brothers, Pet Shop Boys, Moby, and Ladytron

The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Wolfgang's Big Night Out (Surfdog) a dozen big-band sizzlers based upon works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Strauss, and Mozart

Billy Joe Shaver - Everybody's Brother (Compadre) with friends Marty Stuart, Kris Kristofferson, Bill Miller, and Tanya Tucker, and closing out with the late, great Johnny Cash on "You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ"

Bruce Springsteen - Magic (Columbia) vinyl-only advance release of his new album, not out on CD for another week

Supagroup - Fire for Hire (Foodchain) red-hot boogie blues, featuring tracks from the upcoming film National Lampoon's College

Tiny Masters of Today - Bang Bang Boom Cake (Great Society) whirlwind fuzzfest from 13-year-old Ivan and his 11-year-old sister Ida, anchored by drummer Russell Simins of Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion with cooler-than-cool babysittin' guests DJ Atsushi Numata, Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fred Schneider of the B-52's, and Kimya Dawson of Moldy Peaches

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