The worst of Neil Young 1968-2003

If Neil Young announced his conversion to Hinduism it would surprise no one, for the musician has treated repetition with mantra-like fealty. Mantras are mostly simple. His weakest moments happen when, stimulated by binge-watching several hours of Wolf Blitzer, he assumes fans want him to say Important Things. Whether rockin’ with Ronnie ‘n’ Nancy, mewlingContinue reading “The worst of Neil Young 1968-2003”

Ranking #91 singles, U.S. edition: 1988-1994

It ain’t hard to tell why Nas tops this chart. Crisp, mercy-free, and devoid of humor, Nas sounded like no one in 1994 except Rakim, hence the lack of pop crossover. But I could’ve gone with S-Express. Chuck Eddy: “The relentlessness of the maximalist electronics, more corny than campy but usually neither, puts it over.Continue reading “Ranking #91 singles, U.S. edition: 1988-1994”

October reading

At my library, this weekend doubling as an early voting site, a pair of Cuban-American women in their seventies muttered darkly and gasped on seeing our “Cubanos Con Biden” poster. Because even septuagenarian Cuban-American women understand social media, they whipped out their phones as if at a sighting of blue-eyed ground-doves. For two hours weContinue reading “October reading”

Ranking #72 singles, U.S. edition: 1989-1993

Pet Shop Boys’ cover/medley of U2/Four Seasons was, I must stress, an eye opener for whoever heard it in 1991. Treating U2 and Frankie Valli as if they were equals? To give “Where the Streets Have No Name” a new sequencer carburetor? Never mind. This fusion of camp and poignancy represents the peak of NeilContinue reading “Ranking #72 singles, U.S. edition: 1989-1993”

Ranking #69 singles, U.S. edition: 1974-1977

A crinkly, duck-walking rarity of a Hot 100 appearance, Neil Young wrote and sang “Walk On” to rebuke contemporaries for writing and singing Hot 100 appearances. On The Beach went gold in 1974 in the shadow of Harvest (1972), and he knew it; the music, its second side especially, was among his most despondent, ofContinue reading “Ranking #69 singles, U.S. edition: 1974-1977”

I’d like to put you in a trance: Madonna’s ‘Erotica’ at 30

Happy birthday to Erotica, the darkest and most exhilarating album of Madonna’s career. 1992 came draped in black bunting. A month earlier R.E.M. had released Automatic for the People, a rummage through memories of film star adoration and swimming nude with dear friends as age, marriage, and AIDS snuffs out those loved ones. Apt toContinue reading “I’d like to put you in a trance: Madonna’s ‘Erotica’ at 30”

Kore-eda’s ‘Broker’ floats on its own amiability

Observing his characters with warmth, alert to their failures, Hirokazu Kore-eda approaches filmmaking like a man on a park bench: the din of conversation, the white noise of traffic, and the warmth of the sun don’t distract him from a vocation in which being there is just enough. A devotee of the rigorous side ofContinue reading “Kore-eda’s ‘Broker’ floats on its own amiability”

Ranking #90 singles, U.S. edition: 1981-1989

Talk Talk began their step away from their post-New Pop chart efflorescence with “Life’s What You Make It,” a leisurely exploration of the title’s possibilities very much of its time thanks to David Rhodes (of Peter Gabriel’s band) and his guitar interjections and leader Mark Hollis’ piano hook. Its taciturnity was a virtue during aContinue reading “Ranking #90 singles, U.S. edition: 1981-1989”

Ranking #89 singles, U.S. edition: 1989-1996

A city agleam with the confidence in its power to amuse, Miami in the mid ’90s achieved a new peak of cosmopolitan glamour. Tracks like Le Click’s “Tonight is The Night” offered themselves for public consumption during the ebb tide of freestyle; we sure loved our Coronas and La Bouches and Culture Beats. What TheContinue reading “Ranking #89 singles, U.S. edition: 1989-1996”