Nuggets: Al Green, ‘Sounds Eclectic,’ Richard Wright, Foo Fighters

[22 September 2008]

By Ben Wener

The Orange County Register (MCT)

Al Green: His comeback on Blue Note Records, begun with 2003’s “I Can’t Stop” and restoring him to the ways of his indelible ‘70s albums, was extended earlier this year with arguably the best work he’s done since the ‘70s, give or take an overlooked gospel gem or two. Kudos are due to the Roots’ production duo Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and James Poyser, who manage to expertly evoke his Hi Records feel without merely placing the master back in the old neighborhood. Cameos help, too—Anthony Hamilton for two, Corinne Bailey Rae and John Legend for one apiece—and the all-star studio band, featuring the Dap-Kings Horns, lays it down sweet. But it’d all be meatless tribute without Green’s unmistakable voice, which I swear sounds every bit as rapturously overcome as it ever did in his heyday, and always in just the right spots.

“Sounds Eclectic: The Next One”: The sixth assortment culled from KCRW’s Nic Harcourt-hosted “Morning Becomes Eclectic” program maintains the series’ must-own stature for collectors of rare-on-air indie stuff. Pretty though it is, I’ve got enough versions of the Swell Season’s “Falling Slowly” to last me a while, and I’m still not feeling the Ting Tings, or Bat for Lashes for that matter. But I’m happy to have the Spoon track, amused by Architecture in Helsinki, and pleased to have made the acquaintance of Goldspot and Orange Lights. You, on the other hand, should first meet the catchiest song here, Oliver Future’s “Stranger Than Stranger.” Also: the Shins, a spotty live bunch if ever there were one, were born for on-air in-studio intimacy. Also-also: “Live at KEXP,” a similar series from Seattle’s public radio outlet, just issued its 20-track fourth volume, featuring exclusives from an even cooler lineup: Vampire Weekend, the National, Fleet Foxes, the Hold Steady, British Sea Power, !!!, Calexico, the Raveonettes, Atmosphere, Elbow ... and that’s only half.

Richard Wright: That haunting turnaround from “Time” back to “Breathe”? The stately sadness of “The Great Gig in the Sky”? The beauty of “Us and Them”? Those light-as-air harmonies? That was all Wright, the Pink Floyd pianist and keyboardist, who died last week at 65—and those were just his standout contributions to “The Dark Side of the Moon”; imagine “Wish You Were Here” without his digital bath of synthscapes. Presumably now all of that will-Floyd-ever-tour-again talk will forever subside. Now I’m even more grateful they were able to set aside differences to perform those four songs at Live 8 in 2005. And I’m thankful I was able to listen and watch him play during one of his last local appearances, at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre supporting David Gilmour. He’ll be greatly missed.

By now most Foo Fighters fans have probably heard: During a BBC Radio 1 interview the other day Dave Grohl announced that the band is about to go quiet for an extended period of time.

“We’ve never really taken a long break, I think it’s time,” he told DJ Chris Moyles. “After doing Wembley (Stadium, which they filled for two dates in June, with guest appearances by Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones), we shouldn’t come back there for 10 years because we’ve played to everybody. I think it’s time to take a break and come back over when people really miss us.”

My favorite (and most astute) reaction to this news was a comment on Idolator, one of the dozens of blogs that hurriedly posted about the hiatus Thursday morning: “This just means that we’ll be getting THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST, THE BEST OF FOO: 1995-2007 before a new studio album.”

I’d agree with that—though will it be three years before that next studio album comes? Five? Seven? More?!? Presumably Grohl and Taylor Hawkins and the rest will now enjoy downtime at home with family—and we may be subjected to more of Hawkins’ Coattail Riders side project (which, I’ll admit, I didn’t hate). But doncha think these guys will get pretty restless before too long?

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