Author: Don Allred

  • Orange Juice for Everyone

    The synthesizer’s bubbling like a mischievously well-tuned fart as the meat-market beat starts, and why wouldn’t it? After all, it’s nearly 1983—ancient astronauts like Bowie and Roxy were luring their robot-disco tricks home to rock all the way back in ’75. All the more reason for young Edwyn Collins, frontman of Orange Juice, to march […]

  • David Byrne’s Raucous Luaka Bop Label Turns 21

    Is “Ponta De Lança Africano (Umbabarauma)” really about where slaves arrived in Brazil? Or did I just expand a mental legend over the years, trying to explain and contain the unsettling, unsettled poise and expanse of Jorge Ben’s rolling, grinding samba soul classic? Literally, it’s about soccer, but the key line “um ponta de lan […]

  • Revisiting the Curt, Cosmic Populism of Creedence Clearwater Revival

    Behold! Fantasy has unveiled 40th-anniversary editions of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s first six LPs, packed onto individual CDs with remastered, pungent-for-digital sound and three to five bonus tracks apiece, generally well-chosen. (Bayou Country needed them most.) Green River sports two officially “unfinished” but sturdy and intriguing instrumentals. Two “jams” (concise run-throughs) with members of Booker T. […]

  • Patti Smith & Kevin Shields’s The Coral Sea

    From the ambered memory and legacy of the artist-collector Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989), his friend and colleague Patti Smith has drawn “the passenger M,” whose name appears thus in her 1996 prose poem The Coral Sea, now a performance piece done in collaboration with My Bloody Valentine guitar hero Kevin Shields. M’s abbreviation mark washes away […]

  • James McMurtry’s Just Us Kids

    “We Can’t Make It Here,” the relentlessly calm, guitar-and-kickdrum-powered opener of James McMurtry’s 2005 album, Childish Things, was also the first shot of political plainspeak across this veteran singer-songwriter-bandleader’s usual Texastentialist panorama of gray-sky lucidity and neon highway jungles. “Cheney’s Toy,” the first single from McMurtry’s new (and built like a brick shithouse) Just Us […]

  • Die! Die! Die!’s Promises, Promises

    “So much for blue skies! What about the future?” Thus New Zealand’s young punks, Die! Die! Die!, fling exhortations back at a preacher who’s told them, “You must believe!” They aren’t really asking, but they also aren’t echoing Johnny Rotten, that cunning London Irish drop-out, caterwauling “No-o-o/Fu-u-t-yahh” in a faux-cockney parody of a muezzin calling […]

  • Os Mutantes’ Mutantes Live—Barbican Theater, London, 2006

    In 1968, Brazil’s junta finally had enough of the Beatles-loving, samba-screwing, monstrous teen prodigies who called themselves Os Mutantes. All three principles—singer-guitarist Sergio Baptista Dias and singer-keyboardist Arnaldo Baptista (bolstered by the audio gizmos of offstage sibling Claudio), times exhilarating, occasionally subversively bridal-gowned vocalist Rita Lee—were exiled, along with other impudent artsos of the tropicália […]

  • Pylon’s Gyrate Plus

    “Cool” begins with a march, which Pylon’s propeller finely chops, letting the chips fly and fall where they may. No hurry. But nothing too laid-back, either—not in a small Southern town, where everybody who isn’t dead is aware that too-easy F.U.N. is as boring as everything else. So, despite not being as adaptable as Athens, […]

  • Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth and Collected Works

    As Young Marble Giants’ “Searching for Mr. Right” begins, a mocking tick-tock is suddenly pulled through a phasing effect—the result sounds a bit like a loo being flushed. Young Alison Statton calmly sings of another wasted evening, just a cigarette away from the graffiti guitar of Stuart Moxham and the richly burping bass of Philip […]

  • Jason Isbell’s Sirens of the Ditch

    The Drive-By Truckers’ Jason Isbell has now gone solo, but he hadn’t yet quit the band while recording Sirens of the Ditch—cut with most of the current Truckers and their regular guests, the record smoothly lures and detours familiar, ’70s-based rock-blues-country sounds and expectations while highlighting Isbell’s character-actor flair. “I’m a brand-new kind of actress/I’m the […]

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