I am officially a hardcore hater of Bob Dylan's recent Sinatra period (surely 5 albums' worth of material is more than enough for anyone!) but I'm enjoying the hell out of listening to his Gospel period in the form of Columbia's official Bootleg release Trouble No More. I found these two releases, Cynthia Gooding and Forgotten Sessions, from Dylan's earliest years, and they are great. The Hard To Find series is also great.
Mavis Staples has a new album out, with major help from Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. It manages to sound modern and classic at the same time. Well worth a listen. Also, catch her live if you can. I saw her open for Dylan and perform at San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Festival in 2016 and she still got it! Good time to give another listen to The Staple Singers and their classics from the 60's. I always love it when politics and art combine (maybe I should qualify that as liking when good politics and good art combine...) and the Staple Singers provided the soundtrack for much of the Civil Rights and anti-war protests back in the day... and maybe they will again when the new protests start. Keep your eyes on the prize, folks...
I don't need any excuses to listen to Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. They're always great.
Queen's News Of The World is out with 2 bonus discs. The hard, fast version of "We Will Rock You" is a real revelation, even all these years later.
Sufjan Stevens' new album contains various remixes of previously releases songs. Probably not a good intro to him as an artist, but I'm giving it a try. He certainly seems like the kind of artist I should like, although the "critic's darling" label makes me cautious...
Talib Kweli has a new album out. He was able to take some time-out from his full-time job fighting racists and racism on Twitter to make this album. He's very talented and I'll always love him for his Black Star project with Mos Def/Yasiin Bey. He's got great flow and can deliver the maximum number of syllables per line humanely possible. And may the gods bless him for fighting the good fight online.
The new Morrissey album has not grabbed my attention yet, but I love the hell out of the new Bonnie "Prince" Billy album. It's flawless! Noel Gallagher's new album is better than brother Liam's. Worth a listen.
The playlist is rounded out by some golden oldies from Mississippi John Hurt, Christy Moore, The Louvin Brothers, Fairport Convention, Hank Snow, and the reggae-based classic movie soundtrack The Harder They Come. My attempt at a Hank Snow revival (at least for myself) has become somewhat derailed after learning that he campaigned for George Wallace in 1968, which means he was probably a horrible racist (or at least supporting one... ...much of the hate we see in among Trump supporters and the alt-right in 2017 have their roots in the 1968 George Wallace racialist campaign for president. I will note; however, that George Wallace, humbled by a would-be assassin's bullet which left him in a wheelchair, ultimately rejected racism and segregation.).
So amazing to hear Richard Thompson playing with Sandy Denny, Simon Nicol, Iain Matthews and Fairport Convention in the 60's... and even more amazing that Richard is still recording and touring (I will see him here in California next week) and is still great!