Adele Vs. Beyoncé: The Battle Royale!
A sincere wish that all of this blog's fine readers--the ones in Oklahoma, Miami, East Lansing, Michigan, that weird chick from Vermont and the other guy--had a fantastic Thanksgiving and are ready, willing and able to have the holiday season of a lifetime!
Yes, it would be nice if that were what I was offering!
But instead, after collecting all the new music release information available to me, I've decided that a mildly entertaining Christmas might be all that's in store for us! Especially if that's a holiday we celebrate!
For it would appear that this week offers little more that repackaged goods by former superstars or video collections largely put together haphazardly to ensure that your hard-earned dollars are spent on mildly entertaining musical afterthoughts rather than life-affirming albums that will play a major part in your joyous memories of a lifetime!
And if I didn't know better, I'd say that many record companies are purely out there intending to make money rather than promote our general welfare!
Still, I bought a new hat this weekend, and it brings me great joy! Hopefully this new Beyoncé DVD will do the same for you! I'm told a hairpin will, as is the case with my fine new hat, keep it in place!
Adele: Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Columbia) How fortunate for all of us that Adele's label wisely agreed to release this wonderful live DVD/CD package more than two years ago--well before her most recent album became an international sales sensation!--and now, coincidentally, there may be some consumer interest in purchasing it! Especially since it contains all of her hits! I mean, can you think of a more perfect holiday gift? All we need now is for this babe to be nominated for a Grammy or two! But musically, there's little to argue with here, and kudos to the label for pointing out that this set contains "mature language"! Frankly, onstage discussions regarding health care plans, reliable undergarments for the elderly and a "spectacular" recipe for apple pan dowdy do leave me a bit breathless! A masterpiece? Sure, why not?
Beyoncé: Live at Roseland: Elements of 4 (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition) (Columbia) I should point out that this fine DVD is actually the work of Beyoncé Knowles, rather than the better known superstar Beyoncé Diaz of Mexico City--that's the problem with assuming you can just run around out there without using your last name and expect people to recognize you--but, that said, this is a fine collection by the rising, photogenic and delightfully pregnant American singer, once of Destiny's Child, who rather unfortunately was captured picking her teeth for the cover picture of this set, but what the heck--eating for two does strange things to people! Prominent here are several of my favorite Beyoncé songs, including an extended version of "No, No, No" that runs into a full 47 parts, the classic "Bills, Bills, Bills" and the wonderfully redundant "Jumpin Jumpin"! Word has it that her other songs feature more sophisticated titles--I suspect "1+1" may be what people have in mind--but any way you look at it, this young woman is such a fine dancer this thing has to sound great! I wish I was famous!
Kylie Minogue: Aphrodite: Les Folies (Astralwerks) If you're like me, you like to drive home after a hard day at work, strip down to your underthings, pop open a can of beer or two, and watch a gorgeous, quite literally unobtainable international superstar dance around onstage surrounded by stylish dudes while fabulous dance music pounds loudly in the background! This great new CD/DVD set offers it all: 2 CDs to listen to during your drive home, perhaps inspiring you to stop at the neighborhood convenience store in anticipation of what's to come, and a DVD to watch, use your pause control with however you see fit, and generally sweat your way to the conclusion of another fabulous work week! And if your friends call up wanting to go out for drinks? "Dude, another time," you can tell them. "I'm watching 'The Birth Of Aphrodite'!" Between you and me? If they had jobs, they'd be doing the same thing!
Hot Chelle Rae: Whatever (RCA) If, at times, you ask yourself "Whatever happened to good ol' rock 'n' roll? You know, the music that makes you get up out of your chair, dance around in front of the mirror, grab a hairbrush and pretend you're singing and maybe playing an air guitar or two?"--well, wonder no more! It's simply gone away! Vanished! It's no more! It never existed! And you know what? I'm OK with that! That's why I like to listen to Hot Chelle Rae--who I'm told had a No.1 Hot AC radio hit earlier this year!--while I'm getting a new tattoo, buying candy at Rite-Aid, or skating to the shoe store! One review called their music "fizzy sing-alongs," and I'm completely in agreement! I like the sound the bubbles make in your glass after you've dropped in the Fizzies! Cherry? As always, the best!
Trey Songz: Inevitable (Songbook) I've always been partial to R&B superstar Trey Songz, probably because of his hit "I Invented Sex"! I mean, come on--if you invented sex, wouldn't you want to brag about it too? That's kind of cool! Still, the man's humility is a bit off-putting: That he would not only decide to record another album--or mini-album in this case--but refer to its making as "inevitable," implying he's fully aware that by putting it out there in the marketplace he's asking you to part with your hard-earned cash rather than buying food for your family, giving it to charity, or perhaps saving it up for a bigger and better album by an older, established artist who might be bold enough to record under his actual birth name, is...well...simply rarely done! Plus there's five songs on this thing, not three, so he's quite generous, in his way! Pictured at right on his album cover!
The Smashing Pumpkins: Gish, Siamese Dream deluxe reissues (both EMI) It may indeed be time to sit back and reevaluate the works of the most prominent bands who arose when humans were still using the "alternative rock" tag as if it had any meaning whatsoever! Among those bands were, of course, the Smashing Pumpkins--whose star may have faded somewhat over time, but whose work here, especially on the 1993 Siamese Dream, still sounds solid, adventurous, and--considering that we're talking about Billy Corgan and all that his name has come to evoke--much less whiny than many of us remember! Both sets include the original albums remastered, a bonus disc of related demos and more, and fine live performances at Chicago's Metro on DVD that underscore the band's comparative uniqueness, especially considering the otherwise dreary early '90s era. Artfully put together, these discs depict a fine band beginning their ascent and are well worth your purchase.
Gorillaz: The Singles Collection 2001-2011 (Virgin) If it seems too soon for a Gorillaz hits collection, the title alone indicates that 10 years has passed--and that's time enough for us to evaluate whether a purposefully cartoonish band filled with fictional characters who are, on occasion, fine musicians, have what it takes to be remembered as cherished icons or instead may now be remembered as fortunate flukes who, thanks to brain-impoverished radio programmers, the public's general lack of taste, and nothing else really going on, actually get to release a greatest hits set! But where the heck is "Radio Free Europe"?
The Rolling Stones: Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live In Texas DVD (Eagle Rock) There are those who maintain that 1978's Some Girls was the very last "good" Rolling Stones album--and you know who you are--which, say what you will, must mean that a live DVD/CD document of the tour they spent promoting it might portray their last "good" tour. Maybe, and maybe not. But this collection is inarguably great stuff: Prime material, the band at their peak, still adventurous, comparatively young and athletic, and genuinely newsworthy. Capturing the band during a dramatic moment in their lengthy career--Keith Richards had legal issues, Ronnie Wood was finally fitting in, even their album cover was predictably problematic--and right before their tours became the regularly recurring spectacles they grew to be, this is essential, worthwhile music you'll probably enjoy more than you might expect.
Twisted Sister: From the Bars To The Stars (Eagle Rock Entertainment) It's difficult to find fault with Twisted Sister, whose rise to prominence in the early '80s managed to bridge the glitter-appeal aspect of the earlier New York Dolls and even Mott The Hoople with the dopey thud rock that would later dominate pop radio. Still, you may need to be a real fan to splurge for this very generous 5-DVD collection, which spotlights the New York dudes rocking during all stages of their career extending to interviews shot earlier this year. With a recurring setlist that features the likes of "You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll," "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll," "Bad Boys Of Rock 'N' Roll," "Rock 'N' Roll Saviors," and "I Wanna Rock," the band's devotion to the form was, shall we say, comparatively unprecedented and, in retrospect, kind of sweet. Sadly, however, rock 'n' roll could be stopped--and in fact was, briefly, in 2003! But that was for just a few months! If you like Twisted Sister, you'll love this.
Taylor Swift: Speak Now World Tour Live (CD/DVD) (Big Machine) It recently struck me that I'd failed to mention the release of this live set by one of America's most popular artists! I apologize! After all, if I don't mention it, how will anyone ever find out about it? She's quite talented!