I’m counting the grains and they’re so sharp: the best of Wire

Well, I figured Graham Lewis and Colin Newman deserved a snotty reappraisal. My piece on Wire’s 154 triggered a a week’s worth of hate (e)mail when such things existed. Intended as provocation, the essay pretends the rest of Wire’s career didn’t exist, and it’s only then that the Graham Lewis show pieces I hated makeContinue reading “I’m counting the grains and they’re so sharp: the best of Wire”

New and true and gay: The best of Luther Vandross

Eleven years ago, I wrote a consideration of Luther Vandross for Stylus. Many of my points now embarrass me, but I’ll post it anyway. To call Luther Vandross the greatest R&B singer of the era reminds me of what my French teacher said about Victor Hugo: greatest isn’t “necessarily” the best. Yet listening to theContinue reading “New and true and gay: The best of Luther Vandross”

Don’t hold back — just have a good time: Janet Jackson

Deflating expectations with modesty, “No Sleeep” is a perfect first single, the first Janet Jackson single since 2006 to bear the co-writing/co-production credit Janet Jackson-Jimmy Jam-Terry Lewis and no one else. This partnership, thirty years old now, has weathered New Jack, Dre, wardrobe malfunctions, and the death of brother Michael. I can’t trace the momentContinue reading “Don’t hold back — just have a good time: Janet Jackson”

Air can hurt you too: Talking Heads 1980

Vinyl copies were available, but spottings were rare, like female cardinals in South Florida. I saw one in the late nineties; I bought a Japan album instead or some shit. So when Rhino issued The Name of This Band is Talking Heads twelve years ago I got as excited as David Byrne on stage. WhatContinue reading “Air can hurt you too: Talking Heads 1980”

‘Like the lion of Judah, I’ll strike my enemies down’

I was supposed to review Art Official Age for a publication but the request got pulled; it would’ve been the first new Prince album in whose honor I wrote a few hundred words since Planet Earth in 2007 (I still don’t mind “Breakfast Can Wait.” Oh well). Below is that review, published in Stylus andContinue reading “‘Like the lion of Judah, I’ll strike my enemies down’”

Bryan Ferry, afraid of his shadow

Bryan Ferry is a marvel. After releasing this farrago, the minor pleasures of Olympia and Avonmore were like a glass of cold Pellegrino after a day of beer drinking. From the cheapo cover to the indifferent song selection Dylanesque is the dullest album with his name on it. ———————— Bryan Ferry Olympia July 3, 2007Continue reading “Bryan Ferry, afraid of his shadow”

No time to be a decent lover: Paul McCartney’s Memory Almost Full

As my readers know, I like a few Paul McCartney solo albums. Certainly they know my affections for synth/New Wave experiments like McCartney II and ’80s megapop like Press to Play. In 2007 I reviewed one of his many billed comebacks. This one worked. Here’s my Stylus review: —————– Paul McCartney Memory Almost Full 6-08-2007Continue reading “No time to be a decent lover: Paul McCartney’s Memory Almost Full”

Love on the rocks: Brokeback Mountain

Many budding gay men learned about the power of spit lube from Brokeback Mountain, for which we should be grateful to Annie Proulx and director Ang Lee. In 2016 it’s hard to believe this Hollywood weeper started such chatter in early 2006: talk show appearances in which an uncomfortable Jake Gyllenhaal and less uncomfortable HeathContinue reading “Love on the rocks: Brokeback Mountain”

Mustaches and gay panic: The Killers

For a couple years I got more hate mail for this piece than anything I’d written to date. I was happy to be proven right: Brandon Flowers’ queer envy and talents finally meshed on the daft and intermittently powerful The Desired Effect, and he shaved the mustache. ——————– The Killers Sam’s Town 10-02-06 More thanContinue reading “Mustaches and gay panic: The Killers”

Al Green: It’s all okay

The streaming age hasn’t made appraisal of Al Green’s catalog easier. When the wedding standards from Greatest Hits pop up on Spotify, I understand why the young hate weddings and old people. From breakthrough Al Green Gets Next to You through Al Green is Love, the R&B singer-songwriter-sensualist recorded full length statements, boasting album tracksContinue reading “Al Green: It’s all okay”

The aesthete meets the laptop: Scritti Politti

When I reviewed my second favorite record of 2006, millennial appreciation of Scritti Politti was in its pupal stage. I myself didn’t own Cupid & Psyche ’85 until early 1999; during the Rodney Jerkins and Timbaland era of R&B and hip hop it sounded of the moment (I still don’t own the album he releasedContinue reading “The aesthete meets the laptop: Scritti Politti”