I don’t want to be too obvious about this excellent new collection of 32 Paul Simon songs, but the key to this set is simply in the title—Songwriter.
This collection is not designed as a Greatest Hits package although there are many hits here, but the focus is on Simon the genius songwriter. As a result, gems such as Slip Sliding Away, Duncan, You Can Call Me Al and 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover are not on Songwriter, whereas several ‘album’ cuts are that I suppose illustrate better the song craft of our main man.
Furthermore, Simon’s signature song Bridge Over Troubles Water is performed here by Aretha Franklin (Simon probably not wanting to be compared to Art Garfunkle), while the 2011 live take of The Sound Of Silence has some gorgeous acoustic jazz guitar.
There are scads of single and two-disc Greatest Hits collections on the market from Paul Simon who actually started recording in the 1950s and if you are looking for just the hits, one of these may be what you are after.
This new beautifully appointed two-disc set has all the lyrics to the songs within and help justify the anthology’s title.
I actually got this disc a week before Halloween but I just cannot bring myself to cover a Christmas release before November.
However, Michael Buble’s new album, simply titled Christmas, cuts to the chase with 15 tracks of warm and comfy seasonal fare with mostly secular songs like It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Holly Jolly Christmas, Santa Baby and two sacred songs in Ave Maria and Silent Night.
As expected, this is a light and breezy affair where I suppose the highlights are recorded with big time outside help. Buble offers a nice take of White Christmas with the re-emerging Shania Twain, while the duet with the Puppini Sisters Jingle Bells is styled like a WWII boogie song a la The Andrew Sisters.
There is a generous folky version of Mis Deseos/Feliz Navidad with Thalia to close out the disc.
My fave track was Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas where Buble channels a little Bing Crosby charm.
Solid family fare with a swinging, easy going attitude.
The New Cities;
Kill The Lights (Sony)
This group opened for Avril Lavigne a couple of weeks ago but the major arena gig doesn’t seem to have done much for their career. Their single, Heatwave, barely made a ripple over the airwaves and I think this may have a correlative in the career of Lavigne herself.
On the back liner of Kill The Lights the six-member group looks like a typical cute boy band whereas the inside liner photo makes The New Cities look like they might have been fans of The Clash at one time.
Lavigne too is having her own identity problems. Her new mature sound away from chasing Sk8er boys and binge shopping to a mature adult, single mom didn’t resound with her old fans as much as she had hoped for and multiple hits just did not materialize.
The New Cities also sound like a band with identity issues with the faux rebellion of The New Rule and the quasi-hedonism of The Hype (a failed single) all wrapped up in cheery goodtime summer pop.
Also using an ’80s sample from Baltimora and his Tarzan Boy is a little too late and cheesy for a summer could-have-been hit with the aforementioned Heatwave.
This band out of Montreal isn’t inspiring me to write “a band to watch.”
Jason Derulo; Future History (Warner)
This is young 21-year-old Jason Derulo’s second album after the platinum success of his self-titled debut that was an international smash with top charting hits like Watcha Say, In My Head and Ridin’ Solo.
This new disc, titled Future History, suffers from the classic “difficult second album” syndrome in that it isn’t very good and pales in comparison to its predecessor. This album only barely scraped into the top 30 and a couple of weeks later it is nowhere to be found in the top 100 album sales charts in Canada or Derulo’s native USA.
He has scored only a couple of minor hits with the club-centric It Girl and the goofy I Don’t Wanna Go Home that samples Harry Belafonte’s classic Day O (The Banana Boat Song) as in the lyrics “daylight come and I don’t wanna go home” that bemoans the end of yet another night of clubbing.
Derulo continues his uninspired music with a goofy sample of Toto’s Africa for the plodding mid-tempo Fight For You.
I have nothing in general against club pop music but Future History is just too average in a very overcrowded field.
Jason Derulo’s Future History is—passed.