Mark Knopfler’s latest release, Tracker, continues the fusion, diversity, and exploration of genres that made the three-CD Privateering such an interesting—if disjunctive—listening experience. Knopfler continues to explore the same sounds and themes but he leans more heavily towards the Celtic-Dire Straits direction, achieving a fusion that often works very well indeed.
The first moments of Bob Dylan’s latest release, Shadows in the Night, remind the listener of Billy Holiday’s timeless version of “I’m a Fool to Want You.” And that’s the problem with this album and many of the other cover albums that are coming out these days: the tunes have been done better before. There’s nothing wrong with an artist feeling nostalgic and putting out some cover songs from long ago, but—just as okay risotto often causes a yearning for great risotto—most listeners will feel compelled to go back to Holiday, Sinatra, or even Harry Nilsson. If you are not familiar with other versions of the songs though, are you ever in for a treat.
We have found some newer bands over the years that sound like they are classics from the 60s or 70s but The Blakes take the prize for best Now-Then band. By times a little like The Kinks, by others more psychedelic—but always a classic sound, The Blakes are one of those rare bands that bridge the past and present without sounding like an oddity or, worse still, a cover band. And while their sound could have been pressed in vinyl back in the 60s and fit right in, it sure sounds good now.
I had the exact same experience with the new Buzzcock’s album as I did with Johnny Marr’s Playland . One might expect a lessening, a slacker set of strings and a more pensive, looking-back kind of feel to these late-career albums. Not so. Marr’s sophomore solo release, Playland, shows there’s no slackening in these eleven solid tunes.