Arts & Events » Music

Now Hear This

New music from Iggy & the Stooges, Erykah Badu, Mose Allison and more.


Iggy & the Stooges, “Raw Power: Legacy Edition” (Columbia/Legacy)
“I don't think he likes us!” squeals a woman near the soundboard at Richard's in Atlanta, while Iggy Pop squirms and squawks on stage. In 1973 audiences didn't quite know what to make of Iggy & the Stooges, the Michigan power-punk band famous for its volatile live shows and confrontational frontman. Their third album, “Raw Power,” lived up to its name with eight blasts of rude blues riffs and unprecedented unhinged vocals. While it wasn't a hit at the time (how could it have been?), “Raw” has only grown in stature since then as ground zero for punk. Legacy's reissue remasters the album without losing that rawness, then adds one disc of rarities, another featuring that live show at Richard's, and a DVD featuring a short documentary. For such a primal, stripped-down album, this package is almost too lush, but “Search and Destroy” and “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell” retain their menace and mystery 40 years later. HHHHHStephen M. Deusner

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, “Dirty Shirt Rock 'n' Roll: The First Ten Years” (Shout! Factory)
Some Blues Explosion fans who followed the band from its early-'90s beginnings felt it later sold out. Listeners who loved the discordant, irreverent grind of Spencer's previous act, Pussy Galore, and the Explosion's first two albums, complained that on 1994's “Orange” LP, the band turned away from its scuzz-rock roots and watered down its sound to something more palatable for the college radio masses. Listening to these highlights of the Blues Explosion's recorded output, '92-'02, that complaint is difficult to accept. The fractured blues of “Blues X Man,” the dirty soul of “Afro,” the sweat-soaked propulsion of “Wail” — no, the group was just as raw and ragged on 2002's “Plastic Fang” album as it was on “Crypt Style,” released 10 years earlier. This new compilation includes standout tracks from the band's albums, as well as singles, alternate versions, remixes, unreleased live material and examples of collaborations with the likes of Rufus Thomas, Dan the Automator, Dub Narcotic Sound System, Money Mark, Beck and R.L. Burnside. The anthology might have represented the band better had it contained more choice album cuts and fewer odds and ends, but it's the latter that will make the collection indispensable to longtime fans. HHHHIBrian Greene


Erykah Badu, “New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh” (Universal Motown Records) 
R&B wild child Erykah Badu returns with imagination and an intensified meditative bent for the second part of her planned “Amerykah” trilogy. The effect is a much lighter, more fluid offering than its decidedly socio-political predecessor, “New Amerykah, Pt. 1.” Badu exudes the playfulness that originally endeared her to so many with delightfully nutty excursions such as “You Loving Me.” Other standouts: “Umm Hmm” feels like the perfect song for trying on clothes in a funky, posh shop; “20 Feet Tall” is a lingering, emotionally bare song about how one forgets the back-and-forth scorekeeping of relationships when the mood is set for reconciliation. Going beyond the standard song format, “Out My Mind, Just in Time” easily competes with radio darling “Window Seat” with the breadth of its separate, unbridled movements. “Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)” borrows the sweet Roy Ayers sample Biggie Smalls made famous with his “Get Money” collaboration with Lil' Kim. “Fall in Love (Your Funeral)” solidifies the album's focus on romantic relationships and makes Badu's latest ideal for spring while piquing interest for the third and final “Amerykah” installment. HHHHIWilliam Ashanti Hobbs



Mose Allison “The Way of the World” (Anti-)
Thank you, producer Joe Henry, for persuading the great Mose Allison back into the studio after a 12-year hiatus. The 82-year-old jazz, country and blues pianist and singer — covered by the Clash, Elvis Costello and the Who, among others — still has the goods. Backed by a group of California musicians providing tasteful accompaniment, including use of a mandola and a slide guitar, Allison is free to showcase his swinging piano style and trademark warm humor that are too cool for most schools. His daughter Amy Allison penned the delightfully bluesy “Everybody Thinks You're An Angel” and provides ebullient, throwback vocals with her father on the closing duet, Buddy Johnson's “This New Situation.” Whether he's singing about growing old — the great Willie Dixon rewrite “My Brain” with lines like “my brain is losing power/1,200 neurons every hour,” religion (“Modest Proposal”), or performing a spry instrumental (“Crush”) the Mississippi-born Allison hasn't lost a step. His mellowed Beatnik hepcat vibe still feels both cosmopolitan and down-home in its charms, a living link between jazz and blues. Somebody should bring this weathered but sure-fingered legend to town: CenterStage, anyone? HHHHIBrent Baldwin

Local Bin

Dynamic Truths “Understanding Is Overrated” (Little Black Cloud)
I wasn't here for most of the '90s, so it was a pleasure to finally hear this melodic post-punk group that slipped through the cracks. The Dynamic Truths feature the great Bob Schick (Honor Role) on vocals, David Jones on guitar and keys and Bill Walker (Coral) on drums. The well-known, solid musicianship remains a constant. It can sound like classic '80s college rock at times (hear the creeping bass of “Profit from Loss”) or a jagged cross between early Echo and the Bunnymen and poppy HA¬sker DA¬, yet this material was recorded in the mid-to-late '90s with 12 of 15 tracks never released because Merge Records dropped the group when it became inactive. Thanks in part to devoted local fan Tracy Keats Wilson, the remixed and remastered material now can be heard in all its angsty, rocking glory. It's amazing how cohesive it sounds, the taut rhythm section and swaths of echoing guitar, considering there are several recording line-ups and rotating bassists (including Chip Jones from Honor Role) as well as guests, such as John Gotschalk of One Ring Zero playing keys. The entire thing is imminently listenable — the brooding “Headed for the Halfway House” feels like a minor '90s alt-rock classic — but my personal favorites are the more aggressive, uptempo tracks such as “Bus Stop” (imagine danceable Fugazi) and the stand-out infectious rocker, “Sailors of the Highway,” led by Schick, who always delivers his emotional lyrics with intense focus, having clearly heard his share of Gang of Four and Fall records. The group never toured and played only a few shows, which is too bad; it was worthy of more fans in Richmond and beyond. This is a limited run of 250 CDs and you can find them through Little Black Cloud, Merge Records, Plan 9 and Deep Groove records. HHHHIBrent Baldwin


Add a comment