See the original "Culling The Herd" post here.

The Bird and The Bee, "Rayguns Are Not The Future" - 5 stars. Dig It.

I wish I could remember where I found these guys. I came across a video for…something. Can't for the life of me remember what it was, a product intro or something. The backing music was this frothy slow groove of a dance record that just sauntered along and made me feel happy. As often happens, I was not the first person to watch that video and wonder who made the song - the comments section (usually a very, very scary place) identified it as "Polite Dance Song," by a group called "The Bird and The Bee." I immediately downloaded the whole record.

The first song - "Fanfare" - was…not promising. It's only a few seconds of synth, which I don't mind all that much, but…well, who do you people think you are, Copland? Really? "Fanfare?"

It turned out that I shouldn't have worried. The pretension of calling the first track "Fanfare" is quickly forgotten as soon as it ends. The next track - "My Love" - is an absolute delight, every bit as light and delicious as "Polite Dance Song," and the rest of the record is just as good. The high points - "Love Letter To Japan," "What's In The Middle," "Birthday" - are some of my favorite songs at the moment, and I find myself going back to the whole record again and again. Even the songs that I suspect won't hold up as well - "Meteor," for one - are really good once they get going. Buy this record.

Blur, "There's No Other Way" - 5 stars. Dig it.

This one has a really quick review:  It's a great motherfucking song. The end.

Bob Marley, "Legend" - 4 stars. Dig it.

My freshman year in college. I've finally found some cool people to hang out with. Randy and Ricky (yeah, I know, an unfortunate roommate pairing based on name) live down the hall, like to have a couple of beers, know some older guys that can buy. One night, we're just sitting around playing cards and listening to music, and Bob Marley comes on. I'm vaguely aware of him, mostly from Brad Winicki making jokes about how every album cover has Marley smoking a joint, but the music is really a revelation. Where I figured it was all drug music, it's so much more. Tuneful, soulful, catchy - it washes over me and I'm hooked. It's just. So. Good.

And it still is. Most of the songs, it should be noted, have become warhorses. I've just heard them so many times…but they still grab me immediately, unlike the Beatles catalog. I think that's because it feels like I found Marley on my own, somehow, while the Beatles were something I was supposed to think was great.

Everyone should own some Marley.

Bonnie Raitt

Oh, Bonnie. I had been hearing your name for years. Rolling Stone always loved you, but I was too busy listening to the Thompson Twins to get your stuff. Then I read that Don Was was producing your next record…but still I stayed away. Then you won a Grammy. And you had me.

"Nick of Time" - 5 stars. Dig it.

Yeah, Don Was. Of Was (not Was), "Walking the Dinosaur" fame. Don't judge me.  Anyway. So I bought the record.  It was fantastic, and it still holds up.  Part of it is her slide guitar work, always fluid and effortless.  The other part is that voice - also fluid, but throaty, and sexy, full of all the hard years that preceded its recording.  They were hard years - drugs, alcohol, historically bad relationships, critical success but commercial mediocrity - and this record feels like an awakening somehow.  The songwriting is great, as well.  She always had a knack for the blues, but here she only does a couple of her own songs ("Nick of Time" and "The Road Is My Middle Name"), both terrific, but she also shows great taste in covers.  John Hiatt's "Thing Called Love" is the most obvious example, but Bonnie Hayes' "Have A Heart" and, especially, "Love Letter" are great, too.  It's just a terrific record, top to bottom, and another example of the benefit of deciding to listen to every song I own.  A re-revelation.

Bonnie Raitt, "Luck of The Draw" - 4 stars.  Dig it.

I remember getting this record right after its release, and while I liked it, I couldn't help but think of it as "Nick of Time Part 2," and listening to the two of them one after the other, it still feels that way.  The guitar work, the voice, the clean production, it's all there.  But, while it's essentially the same group of writers (John Hiatt, Bonnie Hayes, a couple by Bonnie herself) the song selection isn't quite as good top to bottom.  The high points ("Something To Talk About," Good Man, Good Woman," Raitt's "Come To Me" and by the way, I say that phrase a lot, don't I?) are close to that of "Nick of Time" and sometimes exceed it.  It just doesnt' seem to grab me in the same way.  Another Re-revelation, though.

"The Bonnie Raitt Collection" - 5 stars.  Dig it.

I usually don't go for compilations.  I like listening to most music in the context of its entire album.  On the other hand, I don't listen to albums anymore anyway, so I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

Anyway - "Collection" is a great, great intro to Bonnie's output pre-Don Was, and it highlights what a kickass broad she must have been back in the day.  "Finest Lovin' Man", "Love Me Like A Man," "No Way To Treat A Lady" - they're all just fab.  The centerpiece of both this record and Raitt's live shows, though, is John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery," and again, it's a re-revelation.  Just an amazing song.

I'm SO glad I picked these up again.  Bonnie is awesome.
AuthorMatthew Riegler