Culling The Herd: Carlene Carter, The Cars, Cesar Rosas, Cheap Trick, etc.

Read the original 'Culling the Herd" post here.

And NOW, I've added iTunes links.  Click the title of the song / album, and buy it directly from iTunes!  Yay!

Carlene Carter, "I Love You 'Cause I Want To" - 4 stars, Dig it.

Carlene Carter is June Carter's daughter, Johnny Cash's stepdaughter, and was married to Nick Lowe...that's a pretty good pedigree, both genetic and not.  As is wont for that group, she's had some rough times with relationships, drugs, and bad press.  Anyway, I found this one during a dig into current (at the time) rockabilly, although she is almost invariably described as a country artist.  It's a good shouter of a song.

The Cars, "My Best Friend's Girl" - 4 stars.  Digit.

I had a friend in college that used to say that The Cars were the first new wave band.  He was wrong, of course, but they did help push rock / pop music a little bit further in that direction, and were one of the few true new wave acts to show up on rock radio.  Their first, self-titled record is chock full of staples from my high school dances:  "Just What I Needed" and "Good Times Roll" both immediately bring me back to the MCC cafeteria, in the dark, wishing I had enough guts to ask someone to dance.  For some reason, "My Best Friend's Girl" is the only song I have.  But it's a good one.

The Cars, "It's All I Can Do" - 5 stars.  Dig it.
The Cars, "Let's Go" - 4 stars.  Dig it.

I don't remember "Candy-O" as being as good an album as their debut (except for the cover art, of course), but the high points - the two songs here - are awfully high.  Great, great songs.

The Cars, "You Might Think" - 2 stars.  Dump it.
The song itself is okay, I guess, but I can't hear it without thinking of a bug with Ric Ocasek's face on it being swatted by a supermodel.  I don't want to ever think of that again...and for that image, it *has* to go.

Cass McCombs, "Don't Vote" - 1 star.  Dump it.

Some sort of political screed, too earnest by half.  Or more.  Gack.

The Cave Singers, "Leap" - 2 star.  Dump it.

Kinda just lays there.

Cesar Rosas, "Soul Disguise" - 5 stars.  Dig it.

If David Hidalgo is the Richie Valens half of the vocals for Los Lobos, Cesar is the rootsy shouter...his grit (and dirty guitar work) has always been a perfect counterpoint to Hidalgo's lilt.  I've written somewhat dismissively of 'counterpoint' types before - Christine Perfect's work with Fleetwood Mac being a perfect example of someone who is lovely in limited doses but kinda boring over a whole album.  That's not the case here, at all:  There's enough variation in approach and tone that it *never* loses vitality, and some of these songs - "Little Heaven", "Struck", "Shack and Shambles", and "Soul Disguise" are among my favorite songs.  The voice here is instantly recognizable, but it never seems like a group of Los Lobos songs or outtakes (see the John Flansburgh record "Mono Puff" for an example of this), but fully-formed and able to stand on its own merits.  The one slight exception is the affecting ballad "Better Way" - Rosas does a truly *wonderful* job with it (and, again - it's great on its own), but I can't help but wonder what Hidalgo's voice might do with it.  That doesn't even qualify as a minor quibble however.  This is a great record.

Chad and Jeremy, "A Summer Song" - 4 stars.  Dig it.

I'm not sure how this landed in my iTunes, but it's a classic 60s modpop song.  How can you not like this one?

Cheap_Trick_In_Color.jpg

Cheap Trick, "In Color" - 4 stars.  Dig it.

I think I've mentioned my love for Merlin Mann before...he's introduced me to many, many things that I might never have found without him.  Comic Books, for one.  GTD.  Lotsa stuff.  He's a big music fan / musician and has some of the same taste for hook-laden power pop that I do.  He mentioned this record a while back, saying that the band hated the original version (they thought it was over-produced) and that they decided to re-record it 21 years later.  This is that recording.
It holds up remarkably well, partially because they really know how to write a hook and partially because the (new) production is really quite good...sharp, clean, and simple.  There are some terrific songs here.  "Big Eyes" and "Downed" are both good.  "Southern Girls" is pretty good, "Come On Come On" too.  There's some cheese here, which is probably unavoidable, and a couple get the axe.  Interestingly, the one song I really wanted to hear - "I Want You To Want Me" - is probably the weakest song; where the live version is sharp and vital (still), this version is nigh unlistenable.  Still, a lost, rediscovered gem in general...