Grammy Nominees 20011: (Jive/Grammy)
The Golden Globes are done for this year which means there are only 33 award shows to go. I know these type of shows are popular but I get award show burn out pretty quickly.
Anyway, as you can tell from this CD, the Grammy Awards are on the horizon and this Nominees package is well worth checking out with its loaded 19 tracks and wide variety of fine music.
It is ironic that this collection starts off with Cee Lo Green and his Internet sensation F*!% You, which has been cleaned up for this anthology for airplay with the title Forget You, while I kinda liked his version on Steven Colbert where the offending title was changed to Fox News.
New wonder child Bruno Mars makes a couple of appearances here with his hit with B.o.B on Nothin’ On You and his own solo song Just The Way You Are.
This collection would not be complete without the club crossover hits from the likes of Lady GaGa, Katy Perry and Eminem with Rihanna.
Other fine contributions come from the pens of Lady Antebellum, John Mayer (with Taylor Swift), Sade, Miranda Lambert, Arcade Fire, Train (a live version of their smash Hey, Soul Sister) and Maroon 5.
The only weak song here is Adam Lambert’s Whataya Want From Me where I have often held true that simply repeating a song title over and over again ad nauseum isn’t really songwriting.
Finally, the closing song here is a surprise visit from the Glee cast and their anthemic Don’t Stop Believing that is bound to raise a few eyebrows.
For the most part, a solid sampler of the past year’s biggest hits.
I am not sure if there will be a separate, co-release of hip hop and rap that the Grammy crew have released in the past but there is precious little urban music here.
Gran Turismo 5
Lang Lang has become a big star in classical music where he was a child prodigy while growing up in Manchuria.
He made his first public appearance at the tender age of only five years but his meteoric rise has been nothing short of phenomenal.
I like the fact he is so young and that he is still a huge fan of video games and hence his being hired to provide music for Gran Turismo 5 as this new CD is subtitled The Official Soundtrack to that game.
Land Lang plays the ivories here without accompaniment on all 11 eclectic tracks that includes Bach’s Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring, Pete Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (not the whole thing, just the Dance Of The Sugarplum Fairies), Liszt’s Liebestraum, Holst’s The Planets (Jupiter), Chopin’s Minute Waltz and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer (made famous from the film The Sting).
All these are mellow and restful piano pieces but L. Lang picks up the pace for the hectic Precipitata by Prokofiev which is the official music for the aforementioned video game.
Billy Joel: Lovesongs, She’s Always A Woman (Sony, Legacy)
Billy Joel’s first Greatest Hits package was a two-CD set released way back in 1985.
This new collection is maxed out at 18 tracks but this is only a single CD, meaning a lot of Joel’s past glories have been left on the editing floor.
However, this anthology was hand picked by the Piano Man himself and it is, I believe, designed for the upcoming Valentine’s day with the focus on love songs as suggested by the clever title: Billy Joel Lovesongs—meaning Billy J. loves songs or that these are love songs?
As a romantic collection there is no narrative songs like his lengthy hit Piano Man, nor are there any rockers such as Big Shot, My Life or It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me (Joel’s reactionary shot at late ’70s new wave that sort of put him on the back burner as perhaps an old codger thing of the past).
But there are lots of down-tempo favourites such as Just The Way You Are, Honesty, And So It Goes, She’s Got A Way (live) and of course Shameless that became a big hit as a crossover country song for Garth Brooks.
A solid collection even without Joel’s more popular up-tempo hits.
Brothers: World Gone Crazy (HOR Records)
Here is yet another fine album that got lost in the huge number of releases issued during the last mad Yuletide season.
This is the Doobie Brothers’ first new studio album in 10 years but more importantly it is their first new album since their ’70s heydays and dozens of hit with producer Ted Templeman.
If this album was released when Les Frères Doobie were in their zenith, World Gone Crazy would have been hailed as the best of their classic rock albums as this is a surprisingly strong set of songs with tremendous musicianship.
The Doobies have expanded their palate with a touch of Latino rock on Old Juarez, some island rhythms on A Brighter Day and some jazzy funk on the sophisticated Don’t Say Goodnight that features old stable mate Michael McDonald singing.
Old fans will enjoy the China Grove-styled rock of Chateau while the Doobies seemed to have channeled a little of Bob Seger’s classic Old Time Rock And Roll on their original Young Man’s Game.
An unexpectedly solid album from veterans who just keep soldiering on with great aplomb.