Pink: I’m Not Dead
Think Pink: Fun, dramatic, intelligent, silly and poignant those are just a few of the adjectives that describes Pink’s fourth album, I’m Not Dead. The title was lifted from ridiculous gossip that was running around the rumor mill last year, and it’s just one of fourteen tracks that is taken from the best album this newlywed has delivered since her sophomore 2001 effort, M!ssundaztood. The album kicks off with the hit single “Stupid Girls,” which is a parody of the Paris-Lindsay-Jessica “dumb blonde” stereotype that engulfs the Hollywood landscape. The song is also on its way to becoming another Top 10 single in Pink’s short but rapidly expanding discography. The album, which debuted in the Top 10 in a dozen countries, also solidifies Pink’s reputation as one of the most diverse and serious pop/rock/R&B recording artists of the 21st century. Every song on this album is a highlight, including the second single “Who Knew,” which has yet to be released. It’s a pop/rocker in the vain of Kelly Clarkson’s smash “Since U Been Gone.” Other outstanding cuts include the politically charged “Dear Mr. President,” which is sung with the incomparable Indigo Girls. In its message, Pink and the Girls address ol’ W by asking “What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away? And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?” The song is a beautifully harmonized ballad, but never deters from the inept decisions this current administration has made. Listen to the tracks “Long Way To Happy,” “U*Ur Hand,” and “Nobody Knows” to find their way to radio. They have “hit singles” written all over them. If you ever had any doubts about Pink portraying legendary songstress Janis Joplin in the upcoming feature The Gospel According To Janis, they should be diminished once you hear her wail on the bluesy number “The One That Got Away.” It’s eerily close to Joplin’s indistinguishable vocals. There’s a hidden bonus song that’s uncredited, but when listening to the CD, it comes on as Track #14. It’s also the most personal track on the CD titled “I Have Seen The Rain,” written and sung by Pink’s father, James Moore, with Pink on harmonies. Mr. Moore is a veteran of Vietnam and according to Pink’s commentary, “He wrote this song over 40 years ago.” It’s the first song she ever learned, and had the pleasure to record with her father. It’s the perfect cap to an album that will make you smile, make you melancholy, make you think, but most importantly, make you fall in love with Pink (if you haven’t already) and make you want to hear it over and over again, as I have done since I first put it in the player. This is one CD that’ll stay in my machine, as well as in my head, for many months to come.
Gay Games Chicago 2006: Various Artists
Pole Vaulting, Anyone?: If you’re looking for a new compilation of dance tracks that will keep you moving with the tightest and best mixes I’ve heard since my last circuit party, look no more. The first of two CD’s that benefit the Gay Games just arrived, and it is one splendid non-stop party that runs just over 70 minutes. It is superbly mixed by DJ Joe Bermudez and flawlessly produced by Nick De Base and Jeremy Rosen. The CD kicks off with Fallen Angel’s “City Life” (Ian Carey Vocal Mix) and begins a journey that will transport you through 11 additional tracks that include Vernessa Mitchell’s “Love Will Find A Way,” Deborah Cox’s “House Is Not A Home,” as it seamlessly segues to Debby Holiday’s “Bring It On,” through Janice Robinson’s #1 mega smash “Dreamer” and ultimately winds up in the capable beats of Deep Dish and the closing thump of “Say Hello.” I always get excited about non-stop dance collections, but there are so many on the market, I have to be discerning and tell you only about the very best. This is by far the finest I’ve heard amongst the crowded marketplace in a long time. If you’re not familiar with DJ Joe Bermudez, chances are you’re familiar with his mixes that include radio hits from Shakira to Kelly Clarkson to several pop recording artists making their way to the top of the charts with the help of this mix master. “It’s quite an honor to be selected to mix the official CD of the Chicago Gay Games,” says Bermudez. “I put together an energetic mix to be enjoyed by all. For the athlete preparing to compete or the fan looking to enjoy the festivities, these songs will provide some musical motivation while simply making you feel good.” I think Mr. Bermudez is being modest. These songs don’t make me simply feel good they make me simply feel great! If you’d like to attend Gay Games VII, they will take place July 15-22, 2006, in the great city of Chicago. If you are unable to make it to Virgin Megastore or Tower Records, you can log on to www.gaygameschicago.org and www.centaurmusic.com to purchase this compilation. The second volume will be available in early summer, just prior to the Opening Ceremonies of the Gay Games.
Wed-Rock: A Benefit For Freedom To Marry Various Artists
Going To The Chapel: Two years ago, April 28, 2004 to be exact, there was a benefit held at Crobar in New York City for Gays and Lesbians to have the freedom to be married. Those lucky enough to have attended will never forget the power of the star-studded line-up of comedians, actors and musicians that evening. Broadway sensation Alan Cumming opened the show with the Fred Ebb-John Kander number “Married,” followed by the iconic Lou Reed performing a spoken rendition of his 1973 legendary transgender hit “Walk On The Wild Side.” Lady Bunny then appeared and proceeded to emcee the evening’s introductions. The first was indie rock band Le Tigre who performed “Hot Topic,” followed by one of the event’s producers and performers, John Cameron Mitchell, most noted for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Superstar Margaret Cho then took the stage and proceeded to bash the Bush administration but why not? If someone has to do it, it might as well be Margaret. She was funny as hell, all the while keeping focused on the matters at hand. Most people’s speeches of that nature would’ve made your blood boil, but coming from the quick-witted intelligence that Cho possesses, she never strayed from the importance of what this night was all about, all the while keeping the audience in stitches. Musician Bob Mould performed his wonderful rock song “See A Little Light,” before the inimitable Sandra Bernhard took the stage for a comedic monologue titled “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” hysterically pondering the importance of Kylie Minogue and her retail line of undergarments, as she told the audience that she was “wearing one of Kylie’s bra’s” that night. With her trademark vocals, Bernhard softly began singing the Carly Simon signature song “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be,” and then ended her set with the Gary Lucas-penned “Follow.” Ben Jelen (Pronounced Yelen) took the stage to rough it up a little with the Tracy Chapman song “Talkin’ About A Revolution,” which was followed by one of the best song performances of the evening, Moby with vocalist Laura Dawn performing the Buffalo Springfield Vietnam-era track “For What It’s Worth.” The original lyrics fit stunningly into the feel of the benefit’s cause. The rock band Sleater-Kinney performed two songs, their original composition “Step Aside” and the Creedence Clearwater Revival jewel “Fortunate Son” appropriately dedicated to George W. Bush. Rounding out the festivities was John Cameron Mitchell performing a poignant rendition of “Two-Headed Boy” and Margaret Cho returned to the stage to join Mitchell to close the show with “Origin of Love.” After listening to this CD, the only thing you’ll feel is missing is that you didn’t get to see this show live. Perhaps it will be available on DVD one day, but until that time, relive the magic of that special night with this CD. If you’ve ever lost your passion for this cause, I guarantee, this set will reignite it.
Bruce Springsteen: We Shall Overcome The Seeger Sessions
If you’re a Springsteen fan, chances are you’ll be picking this CD up anyway, so no need to sell you on this. If you’re a fan of intelligent lyrics and the folk/rock genre, this latest album from The Boss is his finest since he released Born In The U.S.A over two decades ago. No kidding! Yes, it’s true that he covered songs by folk pioneer Pete Seeger, but if you’re looking for “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” and “If I Had A Hammer,” you’re not gonna find those here. Instead, Springsteen has done what he hasn’t done in a very long time he’s reminded us that he’s a rock artist that knows how to take a lyric and make them all his own, even if they were written decades ago by somebody else. There’s no holding him back either, he’s belting out these numbers the way he did all those years ago, as if to prove that he still can. And believe me, he can. There’s no mumbling on this album, this is Bruce with his blue collar wail and his foot stomping jamboree. Absent is the E Street Band, but Bruce’s back-up musicians are just fine with their lively backing vocals, their violins, their bass and Springsteen’s signature, ever-present horn section. Just to give the album an authentic Seeger feel, a banjo is almost always heard throughout this energetic 13 track-set. Highlights include the kick-off track, “Old Dan Tucker,” and Bruce’s vocals soar on “Jesse James.” “O Mary Don’t You Weep” will keep you wide awake and wanting more. Bruce turns it down a notch for a couple of songs, most notably the Seeger staple “We Shall Overcome.” Instead of the usual marching fare, he delivers the lyrics in a softer, poetic manner than you might expect, and the result is magnificent. As a bonus, this CD also comes as a Dual Disc and offers two bonus songs, “Buffalo Gals” and “How Can I Keep From Singing?” as well as a making-of-the-album documentary. The songs are also presented in PCM Stereo Versions. If you have a top-of-the-line system, whether it’s in your car or home, believe me, you’ll hear the difference. Even if you don’t, Springsteen’s renditions are so good, listening to them on a transistor radio would do them justice. We Shall Overcome should not be overlooked. It’s that good.
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris: All The Roadrunning
Why do you think the duet format has been so irresistible over the years? Whether it’s Dolly Parton hooking up with a then-recognizable Kenny Rogers or a more unlikely team of Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello, the match-up always seems to intrigue people. I know it does me. From a marketing standpoint, it’s also a brilliant move. I may not have bought a Lionel Richie album, but I was certain to if Diana Ross was involved. Duets go way back, and for good reasons. The latest being the wonderful, if not unconventional pairing of Dire Straits rocker Mark Knopfler and the silky voice of country/folk crooner Emmylou Harris. Of the 12 tracks, there are 10 original penned stories from Knopfler himself, while Harris adds one of the most gorgeous tracks, “Belle Starr” to the set. The only thing missing is that after hearing the Harris original, it makes you wish she would’ve had a bit more input. But don’t despair, her sensational vocals are all over this set, whether it’s harmonizing on the opener “Beachcombimg” or singing full and strong on the spectacular “This Is Us,” which happens to be one of the best tracks on the CD. Other highlights include “Rollin’ On” with Knopfler on harmonies, “Right Now,” and the gorgeous and heartfelt ballad that closes the set, “If This Is Goodbye.” When the pair equally share the stage, the results are truly splendid. If you’re a fan of either one of these artists, you will not be disappointed. If you’re not a fan of either, I bet you will be after hearing these songs sung with lusciousness. Knopfler and Harris take the duet format and turn it into a wonderful marriage. In other words, it’s a perfect match.
Lauren Mayhew: All The Mayhem
The dictionary defines “Mayhem” as riotous confusion; havoc. As the title of this CD, I’d say they hit the nail on the head. This debut album from this 20 year-old beauty is as “in your face” as you can get, and that’s a good thing! She could’ve taken the industry’s suggestion and gone the way of the pop tart, especially with her killer looks, but Mayhew stuck to her guns and released one of the best female rock and roll records I have heard in a long time. This beauty also has brains. She not only sang these tracks in a more-than-convincing rebellious rock and roll attitude, she also co-wrote more than half of the CD’s 11 tracks, including the kick-ass opener, “Sinking.” Other tracks that highlight this Hi NRG set include “Butterball,” “Lucky Chosen” and the beautifully crafted mid-tempo rock ballad “Much Better Off.” If you’re going to lift a classic track from another female rock icon, you might as well borrow from the best that’s exactly what she did with the Stevie Nicks hall of fame staple “Gold Dust Woman.” Lauren Mayhew started out on the CBS soap Guiding Light as a child actress, and is currently attending UCLA. It’s comforting to know when she graduates from college, she’ll already have earned her first degree of merit from this outstanding CD. All The Mayhem deserves all the accolades it’s been receiving. I’m just thrilled I got to add my own they’re well deserved.
© 2006 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.