Things have been moving slowly for The Project, but I figured it was high time I checked in.The Didjits
-- I cannot heap enough praise on this band. Love love love love'em. All of it. 'Nuff said.Marlene Deitrich
-- Why the heck do I have TWO CDs of Marlene Dietrich "singing"? One of them is mostly in German, which probably helps her phrasing (I wouldn't really know) but doesn't change the fact that she's pretty much tuneless. I enjoy watching
her sing in movies, but divorced from the visuals, this stuff is pretty much pointless. And yet... I probably can't bring myself to get rid of them. Such is my sickness.Digibot
-- these guys have been tearing up Madison stages for as long as I can remember. Improv punk rock. They are playing TONIGHT at Mr. Roberts. You should go. They are special.Varetta Dillard
-- Ms. Dillard never achieved much fame but she's as good as anyone singing early rock-and-r&b stuff (the bulk of her recordings I have date from '56-'61.) Like so many folks looking for hits, the material isn't always up to her talent (could anyone make something called "Square Dance Rock" worth listening to?) but when she was on (particularly in her recordings for the Triumph and Cub labels) she's pretty fantastic. I can't find most of my faves on YouTube, but these will do to give you a sense of her vocal prowess:"Good To Me"Scorched"Dion
-- And speaking of great vocals. Wow. Dion was one of the best. His stuff with The Belmonts is legendary for a reason (and it really was him that made those sides shine, as the Belmonts-without-Dion recordings I have make plain.) And he continued making quality records for at least a couple years after he ditched his backup group for solo stardom. His first two solo LPs, Runaround Sue
and Lovers Who Wander
are both first-rate records, which was certainly not the norm for the era, even if they followed the accepted pattern of hits-plus-covers-as-filler. But Dion's got unique phrasing and a heckuva range, so he manages to put his personal stamp on covers like "Little Star, "In The Still Of The Nite" and "Take Good Care Of My Baby". Check out what he does with a much-covered track like "Kansas City"
. I've heard lots of versions of that (incuding better ones), but nobody else sang it like he did.
His "comeback" album Dion
(the one with "Abraham, Martin and John") is a little more troublesome. I've always had a soft spot for the hit but the album is a mess. His medley of "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" and "Everybody's Talkin'" almost works, but "Purple Haze" is atrocious, as is his terrible reading of "Both Sides Now". Over-produced and trying way too hard to be relevant, it still manages to showcase his fantastic vocals, but buries them under so much orchestration (I've never heard so many harps!) that the end result is not very interesting listening.Dire Straits
-- I don't listen to these guys much anymore, but I sure used to love'em. Making Movies
remains my fave, but Love Over Gold
is pretty good too. Knopfler really does have a unique sound, although the band does go on too long on many (if not most) songs. At their worst when they're "rocking out" ("Solid Rock" and "Twistin' By The Pool", as examples, try too hard to generate excitement that really isn't there) or when Knopfler thinks he's being funny ("Industrial Disease" is the low-point of Love Over Gold
.) Worst of all, of course, is when he's gay-baiting, like on the atrocious "Les Boys". Ick. Not that anyone needs me to tell them this probably, but avoid the CD-era best-of Sultans of Swing: The Very Best Of Dire Straits
. Its tracks are poorly chosen and rely way too heavily on Brothers And Arms
and whatever-the-hell-the-next-album-nobody-cares-about was. (It's not the "very best" of Dire Straits if it doesn't include "Skateaway"
Next up... The fabulous girl group sounds of The Dixie Cups!