I recently watched The History of the Eagles and was struck by their description of Jackson Browne’s composition method. The Eagles (when they were Linda Ronstadt’s backup band) and Browne were neighbours and they would overhear him working through tunes, their description of such tunes as “Doctor My Eyes” sounding like those moments in Keith Jarrett concerts where searching leads to a melodious breakthrough. I hadn’t heard anything from Browne since the early 80s, Lawyers in Love being the last Browne album I had heard for the last few decades. What a fortuitous surprise to find 2014’s Standing in the Breach.
For a while in the late 70s it seemed there were two main kinds of parties, one exclaimed the living room you were in was “Detroit Rock City” and the other twirled around in maxi or midi skirts whispering rumours of “Second Hand News.” Where I lived, no one—at least at parties—played The Clash, The Sex Pistols, or even XTC. I have to admit that I haven’t listened to Rumours or Destroyer for a very, very long time, can’t face those too familiar chords and harmonies. Both bands were the height of excess for that era, what with one breathing fire from behind stage makeup and other demanding a waterbed boardroom, and their music is forever associated with those excesses of the 70s. With Fleetwood Mac touring again, I searched out their new album and found that it is a mysterious “maybe” album, yet to be released, even though they are on tour and working together as a group. Stevie Nicks has a new one out, though.
Moby proved he could record just about anything and hit #1 in the charts when he released the rather low-key ambient album, Hotel, in 2005. Though it has to be mentioned that it was given as a freebee with the spoonful of sugar that was known as Hotel proper. Hotel Ambient is a pretty straightforward ambient album, the sort that could easily be used with most slideshows without interfering with the viewer in any way. Still, it did very well, just as most everything else has in the Moby brand. So why has he chosen to release an expanded version in 2014? Well to expand it, of course, and perhaps to give it a road test on its own.
Bryan Ferry’s latest, Avonmore, may suffer from the respect given to his back catalogue, but if you can look past what once was you will enjoy a very fine album. Avonmore sounds like an updated version of Roxy Music’s best output, those mid-70s art rock albums, though it has a very definite life of its own. It’s one of those LPs I expected nothing from because a friend of mine told me it wasn’t worth the effort of listening to and the reviews were lukewarm. When I heard “Soldier of Fortune” and “Driving Me Wild” I was immediately impressed and had one of those awakening moments, actually recalling what it was like to listen to new music back in the 70s. It’s a good feeling.