Lonnie Liston Smith & the Cosmic Echoes – Expansions (Flying Dutchman RCA – SF8434)

While it’s not always true, the chances are that if the cover’s cool, the album’s gonna be cool as well (and even more so if you’ve got Bob Thiele to produce and Nat Hentoff to do your liner notes). It was certainly true of this funky spiritual jazz Lp by former Miles Davis and Pharoah Sanders sideman Lonnie Liston Smith. While it’s much slicker, breezier and more rhythmically rich, there’s a whiff of Alice Coltrane circa Journey to Satchidananda on Expansions–maybe it’s the vaguely middle eastern inspired solos. There are also a couple vocal tracks urging the listener to “expand your mind” and so on which I have to imagine must have sounded a bit threadbare by 1975, though I’m not sure if it was just mind expansion Smith had in mind:  “[M]any thanks to the Creator for all the beautiful women in the galaxy,” reads his dedication. “Their inspiration enhanced the creation of this album.”

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 11:17 am  Comments (4)  

David Bowie – Let’s Dance


(New York, USA) — David Bowie today announced the formation of a limited company to sell credibility bonds to both new and established musicians.  In exchange for designated cash advances, Mr. Bowie will offer BowieCred, a range of service products to benefit the recipient.

“Obviously, Mr. Bowie is a highly conscientious artist and will not allow his credibility to be co-opted by just anyone,” explained BowieCred CEO Howie Mortgenstern.  “An extremely rigorous vetting process will proceed the sale of any BowieCred shares.”

The product ranges include the Bronze Hunky Dory level in which Mr. Bowie positively mentions your album in interview, the Silver Prettiest Star level where he is seen at one of your gigs, the Gold Pin Ups level where you are allowed to hob nob publicly with Mr. Bowie and finally the Platinum “Heroes” level in which he produces and/or appears as guest artist on your album.

BowieCred actually has a genesis dating back to the 1970s, when Mr. Bowie offered songwriting, production and guest appearence work to Lou Reed and Mott The Hoople.  Perhaps the most famous recipient of BowieCred (then known as Defries Bonds) was Iggy Pop, who availed himself of the deluxe package which included songwriting, production, touring duties as well as partying in Berlin. Recent beneficiaries of BowieCred include New York alternative band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at whose shows Mr. Bowie was spotted in 2005.

The bonds will have a life-span limited to the currency of the purchasing artist’s given album, but can be renewed, at discount, for future releases. BowieCred will be downgraded or, in extreme cases, surrendered if Mr. Bowie feels his credibility being squandered, as happened on the 1982 Lp Hot Space where Mr. Bowie wiped his vocals from the song “Cool Cat” and made Queen replace them with Billy Squier.

While there is no question that Mr. Bowie’s imprimatur is still a solid investment, the value of his actual music has been lowered from an A3 rating (the seventh highest rating) to Baa3, one notch above junk status. Some date the waning of Bowie’s personal credibility around 1983 co-incident with the release of that year’s Let’s Dance Lp, a decidedly commercial album co-produced by Nile Rogers which self-consciously simplified his musical and lyrical approach with very loud Tony Thompson drums.  Though nowhere near as bad as some may remember, it is still not a patch on Mr. Bowie’s brilliant series of albums in the 1970s.

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm  Comments (5)