Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Sound Check


cd Max WellmanMax Wellman

“You Must Believe in Spring”


Lou Reed and Metallica got together a couple years ago to collaborate on an album called “Lulu.” It was an unmitigated disaster and arguably the worst album of 2011. “You Must Believe in Spring” isn’t an unmitigated disaster. But it is a bit of a mess. Wellman’s idea is an ambitious one: combining the jazz and contemporary standards that are his stock and trade with the artistic delicacy of a classical string quartet. It’s a fusion that’s been done well in the past, but Wellman’s take is too unfocused to really capture the imagination. It’s creative, daring and beautiful at times but ultimately misses its mark, which is a shame because the strings on their own are beautiful, and this is probably the best Wellman’s silky voice has ever sounded. But it’s in the alchemy where things become more iron than gold. CV



cd Peter-GabrielPeter Gabriel

“And I’ll Scratch Yours”


It’s a good thing that Peter Gabriel has now been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because at the rate he’s going, he won’t have enough goodwill left to get elected as dog catcher by this time next year. “And I’ll Scratch Yours” is the second half of his two-album covers project. Part one, “Scratch My Back,” was released in 2010 and managed to alienate just about everyone who heard it, including most of the artists Gabriel covered. Thusly wronged, the artists Gabriel covered three years ago are now each given their turns at taking the piss out of Gabriel’s own work: Arcade Fire covers “Games Without Frontiers” like it killed their dog; Lou Reed’s treatment of “Solsbury Hill” is brutally unlistenable. Even the tracks that work — Regina Spektor’s handling of “Blood of Eden” — only do so because they manage to feel merely unnecessary, as opposed to violently mean-spirited. CV

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