Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2015-09-04

2015-09-04

Elvin Bishop: Can't Even Do Wrong Right (Alligator, 2014) (Folksy) (University of) Chicago bluesman holds onto his chops--also his wits, except about the internet ("Everybody's in the Same Boat," "Let Your Woman Have Her Way") *

Leonard Cohen: Can't Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour (Columbia/Legacy, 2015) Trust your Zen uncle to rehash a rehash the classy way. Although half these ten live songs are so old they precede the scam that cost him the royalties on his 20th-century catalogue, he not only performs them anyway but resuscitates relative obscurities, which in the case of the "Field Commander Cohen"-"I Can't Forget" opener have more relevance now than when he was a mere 50. On two new ones he's feeling too feeble to make love and too pissed to make nice. On the George Jones cover, his bass is just as deep if not as puissant as that superhuman's. And capping it all off is a monologue about the stages of aging, which he's copyrighted just in case some scamster gets any funny ideas. A-

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard: Django and Jimmie (Legacy, 2015) They do enjoy themselves, but although you'd think Willie wrote the buoyant one about the world going to pot, instead he wrote the lugubrious one about dreams going to die ("It's All Going to Pot," "Missing Ol' Johnny Cash," "Live This Long") ***

Boz Scaggs: A Fool to Care (429, 2015) In which the vital signs of 2013's Memphis are juiced by both his shift of symbolic locale to New Orleans and his dawning suspicion that the world is going to hell in a bank statement. For more on the latter, proceed directly to the Bonnie Raitt duet "Hell to Pay." He's so mad he wrote it himself. But mostly he resets forgotten gems like Al Green's "Full of Fire," Huey Smith's "High Blood Pressure," and Bobby Charles's long-neglected "Small Town Talk." The opener is "Rich Woman," the same Dorothy LaBostrie curio that led Robert Plant and Alison Krause's Raising Sand. Sashaying so weathered and jaunty, not to mention so New Orleans, Boz's is better. His best album since Silk Degrees in goddamn 1976, and by a wide margin. A-

Bruce Springsteen: High Hopes (Columbia, 2014) Overstatement is his weakness, and Tom Morello definitely doesn't rein in him, but only cynics resist his skill set ("Harry's Place," "Dream Baby Dream") *

Richard Thompson: Still (Fantasy, 2015) Meaning of title: at 66, "still" the horny seeker who loves his guitar more than his girl--by a lot ("Guitar Heroes," "Long John Silver") **

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