Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brian Wilson

Music and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson and Capitol Records are partnering with newspapers all across the US for an exclusive premiere of Brian Wilson's new album, That Lucky Old Sun.

From August 22 to September 1, more than 50 newspaper and TV station websites, including USA Today, will exclusively offer full streaming audio of Wilson's new album before its September 2 release.

Viewers to the websites will be able to listen to the full 38-minute album in sequence or skip ahead or back to individual tracks.

For the release of his new studio album, That Lucky Old Sun, Wilson has returned to Capitol Records, his original label home. The new album will be released on CD, limited edition CD/DVD, and digitally on September 2. The album was released today (August 19) as a limited edition vinyl LP.

Brian Wilson describes That Lucky Old Sun as an "interwoven series of 'rounds' with interspersed spoken word," and as an autobiographical travelogue of sorts. The new studio album is produced by Wilson and was created with his acclaimed band at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, where he first recorded in 1962.

Brian says, "This music is really special to me and I hope that everyone will enjoy it!"

Brian Wilson will tour with his band this fall, performing songs from That Lucky Old Sun and his classic hits.

Mississippi Records

So Mighty: Mississippi Records

MISSISSIPPI RECORDS IS a small, independent reissue label that has been releasing vinyl-only compilations of obscure but first-rate music from around the world for the past five years, ranging from '70s Thai orchestral music to Scottish anarchy punk and beyond.

The label has gained in notoriety in recent months, however, due to the popularity of its blues and gospel reissues, which have been appearing more and more frequently in local record stores and attracting superlatives from roots enthusiasts across the country.

Ranging from pre-war Piedmont blues to '70s gospel quartets, below are reviews for some of Mississippi Records' most popular releases.

» Various Artists, "Life Is a Problem"

Sure, rock 'n' roll may be the devil's music, but this album shows that the Lord's music sounds just as good accompanied by a screeching electric guitar. With recordings dating from the 1940s to the 1970s, these 13 tracks present some of the rawest and frenzied electric gospel ever put on tape. Never mind the apparent contradiction in Elder Charles Beck's "Rock N' Roll Sermon Pt. 1 & 2," in which Beck preaches against rock music over an equally blistering rock workout; this album reveals that the fervor and passion of spiritual music mixes well (almost too well) with the fire of the electric guitar.

Standout Track: The Crumb Brothers' "Seat in the Kingdom," recorded sometime in the late '50s/early '60s, is a broiling gospel number featuring the vocal hysterics of the family quartet's 10-year-old singer, 'Sugar.' Over a churning guitar rhythm, Sugar belts out a defense of the group's young age to those who doubt their true desire, and does it with such raw intensity it's hard to believe there were ever any suspicions in the first place.

» Skip James, "1931 Sessions"

One of the legends of delta blues, Skip James' high falsetto and deftness at both the guitar and piano should have made him a music star; sadly, like many musicians of his day, the Depression ruined any chance he had at a music career shortly after he recorded for Paramount in 1931, and he didn't record again until his rediscovery in 1964. The 12 tracks here, culled from his original sessions, show why blues enthusiasts sought him out so intensely during the '60s blues revival: His expert and unique style of finger-picking gave his guitar a menacing, haunting tone, and his falsetto can run shivers up anyone's spine. In addition, the excellent remastering and restoration of the recordings presents James' work clearer and cleaner than any compilation before.

Standout Track: Fans of the Coen Brothers' "O Brother Where Art Thou" will recognize "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues," sung by the character Tommy Johnson in the movie and included in the accompanying soundtrack; it's one of James' best numbers, with his methodical guitar work and soaring moan giving the already-dark song an intense, lingering feel.

» Various Artists, "Last Kind Words: 1926-1953"

A compilation of country-blues music from the 1920s to the 1950s, "Last Kind Words" presents a good introduction to the world of country blues by mixing in the obscure with well known. More common names such as Blind Willie McTell, Memphis Minnie, Geechie Wiley and Robert Wilkins blend seamlessly with the less familiar Cannons' Jug Stompers and LuLu Jackson, and all the tracks expound classic country-blues musicianship. As with the Skip James album, the restoration quality of the recordings makes the tracks sound clearer and crisper, making it well worth picking up.

Standout Track: There's no denying the evocative veracity of Wiley's "Last Kind Words" and Wilkins' "That's No Way to Get Along," both classic recordings found on many blues comps, but Kid Prince Moore's "Church Bells" certainly belongs in the same canon. Moore's nimble finger picking and sweet vocal tone makes his version the definitive version of this traditional blues song, narrowly edging out fellow blues artist Ralph Willis and, yes, the Smothers Brothers, who recorded it in 1963.

» Washington Phillips, "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?"

East Texas traveling preacher Washington Phillips recorded 18 distinctive and lush gospel numbers between 1927 and 1929; his uniqueness was based primarily on his instrument of choice, believed to be the long-since-extinct dolceola. From most accounts, it was an odd amalgamation of a zither, piano and guitar, and produces a haunting, ethereal fog of noise that sounds somewhat like a toy piano plugged into a reverb amp. It's a perfect accompaniment to Phillips' sweet, spiritual crooning, and the 12 tracks compiled here represent some of his best recordings.

Standout Track: The title track is probably Phillips' best known, a melody in which Phillips states at the beginning that he may not know what happens in Heaven, but "it's my business to stay here and sing about it." Being a preacher, Phillips' lyrics often read more like a sermon than a song, and Phillips alternates between philosophically musing on what either the poor, sick or heartbroken are doing now that they've reached the promised land, all over the hazy sounds of his dolceola.

» Some Mississippi Records titles are available through Forced Exposure.

Written by Express contributor Paul Vivari
Images courtesy Mississippi Records

New Vinyl Releases:

Afrika Bambaataa: Planet Rock: The Album (reissue) [vinyl]
Alkaline Trio: Good Mourning (limited edition reissue) [vinyl]
Anarbor: The Natural Way EP
Brainiac: Hissing Prigs in Static Couture (reissue) [vinyl]
Brian Wilson: That Lucky Old Sun [vinyl]
Captain Beefhart: Dustsucker (2-disc green vinyl) [vinyl]
Dandy Warhols: Earth To The Dandy Warhols [vinyl]D
Dirty Three: Horse Stories (reissue) [vinyl]
Everest: Ghost Notes [vinyl]
The Ex & Tortoise: In the Fishtank EP (reissue) [vinyl]
Fiery Furnaces: Remember (2-disc live album) [vinyl]
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain (reissue) [vinyl]
Gorilla Biscuits: Start Today (reissue) [vinyl]
Jim Boggia: Misadventures In Stereo (vinyl]
MakeUpBreakUp: We Prefer Not To... EP
Mr. Bungle: Disco Volante (reissue) [vinyl]
PJ Harvey: Rid of Me (reissue) [vinyl]
Stereolab: Chemical Chords [vinyl]
Thao: We Brave Bee Stings & All [vinyl]