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4Play: Duffy, Carole King & James Taylor, Trey Gunn, The Bombastic Meatballs featuring Chad Smith

Ross Boissoneau - December 13th, 2010
Duffy – Endlessly (Mercury)
The Welsh pop chanteuse has teamed up with producer/composer Albert Hammond for a set of songs that hit all the bases: there are string-laden, melancholy mood pieces (“Don’t Forsake Me”), electro-house beats (“Lovestruck”), pure pop for now people (“Girl”), jangly alternative acoustic rock (“Breath Away” and the title track). Throughout, Duffy’s little girl voice matches passion with compassion. Think Petula Clark meets Claire Grogan. Like those two singers, the voice can become too thin or simply wear on the listener after a while. But the songs stand up to repeated listens, the accompaniment is spot-on, and if the listener can get used to or even enjoy her little-girl voice, there’s much to be savored here.


Carole King/James Taylor – Live at the Troubador (Hear Music)
Recorded during their joint tour, old friends James Taylor and Carole King revisit a past shared through their music by boomers everywhere. Yes, the hits from yesteryear are all there: “Carolina in my Mind,” “It’s Too Late,” “Smackwater Jack,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “You’ve Got a Friend” and ten others. The concert is duplicated on the accompanying DVD, and the booklet includes classic photos from today and the original recording sessions for Tapestry and Sweet Baby James. With three-fourths of the original Section – Danny Kortchmar, Lee Sklar and Russ Kunkel – Taylor and King hit all the right notes. No, there aren’t any surprises, but try to find anyone who says that’s a problem.



Trey Gunn – I’ll Tell What I Saw (7d Media)
This compilation from the one-time King Crimson bassist and stick player hits a lot of, well, bases. Ambient rock soundscapes, thumping drum & bass explorations, instrumentals and vocal tracks – and that’s on just the first tune! This two-CD collection includes material from various band, solo and duo excursions. Gunn’s music is ever-restless, and titles like “Misery, Misery, Die, Die,” “Thick and Thorny” and “Absinthe & a Cracker” offer a hint at the worlds he explores. Unfortunately, there’s nothing here from Crimson or his new UKZ project with Eddie Jobson, an offshoot of prog/fusion band UK (which was itself an offshoot of ‘70s-era Crimson), but what is here is adventurous, occasionally melodic and always interesting.

The Bombastic Meatbats featuring Chad Smith – More Meat (Warrior)
Hold on! The drummer for The Red Hot Chili Peppers has taken his cue from the jam-heavy sound of Brand X or Greg Howe, with a set of bracing, in-your-face tracks that find the funk in fusion. This doesn’t sound like what one might expect from a drummer’s solo album. The drum solos are few and far between, instead leaving the space mostly to guitarist Jeff Kollman, and he grabs it with gusto. Keyboard player Ed Roth fills the remaining spaces, often with ‘70s-style sounds from his electric piano and wonderfully out-of-tune clavinet. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Smith and bassist Kevin Chown grabs the beat and wrestles it into submission. There’s not much subtlety here. That’s just too bad.
 
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