September 27, 2006 Every month seems to bring another rediscovered talent from the golden age of soul music — someone who was little more than a footnote during the outbreak of amazingness that distinguishes that fertile era. What makes Lorraine Ellison's case puzzling is the remarkable consistency of her work.
September 20, 2006 Muddy Waters' 1968 blues-rock hybrid Electric Mud works as an intermittently spirited experiment, a loosely structured attempt at moving an icon beyond the traditional. The legend sounds like a lost soul from the Delta who's wandered into the exaggerated druggy debauchery of a hippie movie.
September 19, 2006 By the time Dr. Octagon's science-fiction caper in miniature ends, countless styles and funk attitudes have been blurred together, subsumed into the rare bit of contemporary hip-hop that fully commits to celebrating genuine weirdness.
September 13, 2006 Johnny Paycheck's Gospel Time in My Fashion was recorded in 1966, during a period when many country stars were doing gospel projects. It stands apart because Paycheck's sweet voice can't fully mask the orneriness underneath — and because the songs, even the waltzes, move at a brisk, buoyant clip.
September 6, 2006 Based on star power alone, this document of London rock circa 1971 should have been huge. Among the A-list friends gathered to support the Incredible String Band's Mike Heron on his solo outing are Richard Thompson, Steve Winwood, John Cale of The Velvet Underground, Ronnie Lane, Elton John and members of The Who.
September 5, 2006 Bob Dylan's nine-minute "Ain't Talkin'" saunters along at a measured gait that inspires the author to savor mystic gardens and this "weary world of woe." He doesn't seek out company — he intends to take his troubled secrets with him. He is, as he notes repeatedly, not talking, just walking.
August 30, 2006 Vaughan was, arguably, the foremost interpreter of Brazilian music in jazz history. Recorded three years before she died, Brazilian Romance is her equivalent of Johnny Cash's American Recordings — full of contemporary spirit, propelled by a timeless voice.
August 28, 2006 Bob Dylan is 65, an age at which many people expect to slow down. The revered songwriter is doing the opposite. In the last two years, he's launched his own weekly satellite radio program, the Theme Time Radio Hour. This week brings a CD called Modern Times, the first new songs Dylan has released in five years.
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August 25, 2006 The backbeat of Gov't Mule's "Mr. High and Mighty" is a heavy-lidded blast of '70s stomp-rock — Foghat's "Slow Ride" functions as a not-so-distant cousin. But rather than extol stoner virtues, the song expresses indignation over the doings of the craven and powerful.
August 23, 2006 It's stupefying that Karen Dalton remains, even in this crate-digging age, largely unknown: She was a singer of transfixing nuance and uncommon emotional control. If her debut album appeared new today, Dalton could have easily become a phenomenon of at least Madeline Peyroux proportions.
August 16, 2006 Many contemporary listeners know Ry Cooder as the producer and guitarist behind Buena Vista Social Club, the 1997 project that revived the careers of long-forgotten Cuban ballad singers. Lost among his early works is an eclectic little under-loved gem: Boomer's Story.
August 16, 2006 In the crowded field of indie rock, a band's first few albums are crucial. They establish the band's sound and expand its fanbase. But Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards breaks those rules with its second CD, All This Time. Instead of sticking to its workmanlike gritty blues rock, the band has developed a more open, expansive and personal sound.
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August 15, 2006 As with many of the pianist and chamber-pop composer's songs, "I Don't Feel So Well" only becomes compelling as it goes along. Step by careful step, Vienna Teng builds the song outward, until what began in an 18th-century manor in old Europe becomes a gaudy bit of dance entertainment in a boisterous Buenos Aires bar.
August 9, 2006 Even if you've never sought out the music of Donny Hathaway, you've probably felt his presence: His low-key, insistent way of interpreting a song has been emulated by virtually every contemporary soul and R&B singer. But still his records remain under-appreciated.
July 26, 2006 Lenine immortalizes a local legend in a song that deftly connects bits of old and new Brazil. The beat has funk in it, but also elements of maracatu, the northeastern Brazilian rhythm Lenine has helped to modernize with percussion loops.
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