November 17, 2009 |
John Mayer "Battle Studies" Columbia 1/2 On the high-contrast black-and-white cover photo of John Mayer's latest studio album, the singer, songwriter and guitarist's hands are pulling at the collar of a thick winter coat. It seems as though he's trying to brace against the onset of frosty conditions; the overall effect is fairly Morrissey-esque. That's no coincidence -- in themes and tone, Mayer shows a lot in common with the great romantic fatalist of '80s Brit pop: He's "Perfectly Lonely" in the song with that title, and he opens the collection with "Heartbreak Warfare," about the ways we hurt the ones we ostensibly love.
February 10, 1985 |
"V.U." The Velvet Underground. Verve/PolyGram. This is the long-lost "fourth" Velvet album that stayed unreleased for 15 years, presumably because it was ahead of its time. It still is. Although most of these 10 tunes later surfaced on various Lou Reed solo albums, bootlegs and the incredible "1969--Live" LP (itself issued in '74), there are noticeable differences, particularly in Reed's vocals--warmer and less affected than in his '70s daze.
September 12, 1999 |
In 1997, Mellencamp convened his touring band at an Indiana studio to record some old songs in sessions that were stripped down and surprisingly raw. The results, finally released here, are not quite revelatory, but suggest how Mellencamp might have better followed the promise of his 1985 "Scarecrow" album. Like that acclaimed record, such tracks as "Love and Happiness" demonstrate why passion wins over craftsmanship every time.