ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 14, 2000
By Steve Newton
Sometimes I feel like I don’t know anything at all about popular music. Maybe you feel that way too—like I don’t know anything at all about popular music. I just don’t understand how a hate-filled sicko like Eminem can be revered by millions. Or how a band as consistently lame as Wide Mouth Mason can be touted as one of this country’s best. Then again, if those are the only acts I can think of right now that really bug me, what am I whining about?
Steve Earle Transcendental Blues It’s a long way from “Copperhead Road” to the streets of Dublin, but the irrepressible Earle makes a triumphant detour into Celtic territory, with help from accordionist Sharon Shannon and tin-whistle ace Dan Gillis.
John Hiatt Crossing Muddy Waters Bluegrass- and gospel-tinged folk music is not my usual cuppa beer, but Hiatt’s engrossing tales of life’s trials and tribulations made a believer out of me.
B.B. King & Eric Clapton Riding With the King The King of the Blues is 75, but he sings and plays like a young lion, trading sharp licks and smooth vocals with Clapton on 12 wonderful tracks. A heavenly collaboration for blues-guitar freaks and music lovers in general.
Joe Satriani Engines of Creation The Bay Area fretmaster brings a futuristic electro-vibe to his always adventurous rock-guitar stylings, but the techno tinge never overrides the human, fingers-on-strings element.
Steve Vai The 7th Song Steve Vai is one of the most astounding rock guitarists alive, but his recorded works have been inconsistent, promoting flash over substance. On this disc—subtitled Enchanting Guitar Melodies: Archives Vol. 7—Vai compiles his most mellifluous guitar ballads, and there are some real beauties. (Check out local alt-metal legend Devin Townsend’s vein-bustin’ vocal acrobatics on “Touching Tongues”.)
Davie Allan & the Arrows Live Run Playing to a tiny crowd at Club Westworld in Van Nuys, California, the King of the Fuzz Guitar goes hog-wild on choice originals like “Encounter” and “Corridor of Fear”, and classy covers of Henry Mancini’s “Experiment in Terror” and the Yardbirds’ “Shapes of Things to Come”.
Huevos Rancheros Muerte Del Toro Until Vancouver’s Falcons come roaring back with their long-awaited follow-up to 1998’s Queen of Diamonds, Calgary’s Huevos Rancheros are well-suited to wear the crown as Canada’s instro-rock kings.
Ozric Tentacles Waterfall Cities This psychedelic trance-rock jam band from Britain may be the one to jolt progressive rock back to life in the 21st century. Hopefully, that awakened giant will then kick the living shit out of gangsta rap.
Southern Culture on the Skids Liquored Up and Lacquered Down Southern-fried white-trash roots-boogie never sounded better. And, judging by the eight hilariously posed band photos included here, never looked better either.
Willie Nelson Milk Cow Blues I’m as surprised as anyone that a Willie CD ended up on my top 10, but this is one killer blues album, and here are eight reasons why: B.B. King, Susan Tedeschi, Jonny Lang, Keb’ Mo’, Francine Reed, Dr. John, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Jimmie Vaughan. Willie and his classic songs make 10.