Author

Tom Sinclair

How Green Day saved rock -- and their own career

Green Day

Inside the sold-out Sporthalle arena in Hamburg, Germany, the last notes of the Ramones’ ”Blitzkrieg Bop” fade into the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Green Day’s introductory music of choice. Before you can say ”Hey, ho, let’s go,” the band — singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, 32, bassist Mike Dirnt, 32, and drummer Tré Cool, 31 — tears into the snarling title track of its current album, American Idiot. ”Don’t want to be an American idiot,” bellows Armstrong. ”One nation controlled by the media.”

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The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 9)

Bob Dylan | MAN ON THE STREET Bob Dylan

The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 9), this two-CD set of early demos from Bob Dylan’s folkie phase, includes familiar tunes and a bunch of solid obscurities. If there’s nothing truly revelatory, it’s still a dandy opportunity to eavesdrop on the future mouthpiece of a generation finding his voice (sometimes awkwardly). And it’s a hoot hearing our hero occasionally get tangled up in his own ? verbosity. B

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Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition

Miles Davis | MAN, MYTH, LEGEND Miles Davis

Is Bitches Brew’s rep as the album that jump-started the fusion movement justified? This latest iteration of Davis’ 1970 opus (here appended with outtakes, a bonus live CD and DVD, and a newly minted facsimile of the original vinyl LP) provides ample opportunity to mull that and other musical questions. Trust us: Any one of these singular extrapolations can still transport you light-years away from reality in a heartbeat. A

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No Better Than This, John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp is such an old-timey, small-town kind of guy that he recorded his new album in mono. That’s entirely fitting, since quite a few of this baker’s dozen of new tunes (produced by T Bone Burnett) sound like lost classics plucked from scratchy old 78 rpm discs. Compelling and heartfelt, No Better Than This feels tantalizingly timeless. Recommended to anyone who’s spent the past few years obsessively revisiting Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft. A?

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No Better Than This

John Mellencamp is such an old-timey, small-town kind of guy that he recorded his new album in mono. That’s entirely fitting, since quite a few of this baker’s dozen of new tunes (produced by T Bone Burnett) sound like lost classics plucked from scratchy old 78 rpm discs. Compelling and heartfelt, No Better Than This feels tantalizingly timeless. Recommended to anyone who’s spent the ? past few years obsessively revisiting Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft. A?

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Praise & Blame

Tom Jones (Musician) | IT'S NOT UNUSUAL Tom Jones

People scoffed when Tom Jones showed up in Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary series The Blues alongside the likes of Eric ?Clapton. But Mr. ”What’s New, Pussycat?” has an unmistakable flair for black vernacular music. On Praise & Blame, the singer revels in gutbucket and gospel, delivering 12 emotionally charged sermon-songs with raw-throated abandon. Who knows? He might yet get some respect from blooze purists. B+

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Street Songs of Love

Alejandro Escovedo | TENDER HEART Alejandro Escovedo

Previously dubbed ”Austin’s answer to Bruce Springsteen” in these pages, Alejandro Escovedo here gets an assist from the Boss himself as the great man drops in on one track. That’s a fitting imprimatur, since Street Songs of Love, produced by Tony Visconti (T. Rex, David Bowie), feels every bit as classic and immediate as, say, Springsteen’s The River. Hints of glam and punk inform the rootsy proceedings, giving these alternately gritty and lyrical songs a satisfying glow. A?

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Something for Everybody

Devo | LATER IS NOW Devo

A comeback album from Devo, the quintessential new-wave novelty act seems a bemusing prospect. But if you stop asking ”Why?” you’ll likely find yourself surrendering to the band’s herky-jerky hooks and machinelike swing on Something for Everybody. And if the ”Don’t taze me, bro” bit in ”Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man)” feels dated, the wry political commentary of ”Sumthin’?” is impressively spot-on. B

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Mojo

Tom Petty, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | TAKIN' THEIR TIME Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tuneful and gently flowing, Mojo is endowed with the qualities diehards expect from Tom ”Watch Me Rock Out Without Breaking a Sweat” Petty. What it lacks is instant classics (didn’t he used to be good for a few per album?). Even so, a handful of these new songs come within spitting distance of past glories. As Petty sings on the last track, ”That’s good enough for me.” B

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