The U.S.-Mexico border isn’t open, but a migrant surge and a mishmash of messages and policies have created another crisis
Culture Notable CDs
Style: Thirty-five career-spanning classics: some in their entirety, others spliced and interwoven, all remixed either a little or a lot.
Worldview: That when it comes to new ways of marketing the most popular canon in rock 'n' roll, one should never say never.
Overall quality: The imaginative blending of these songs into a dreamy, seamless whole makes them seem less like nostalgia and more like emotions recollected in tranquility.
Style: Luxuriously produced, multilingual opera-lite for the adult-contemporary demographic.
Worldview: "Don't give up. / It's just the weight of the world. / When your heart's heavy, I, / I will lift it for you. . . . / If silence keeps you, I, / I will break it for you. . . . / If darkness blinds you, I, / I will shine to guide you."
Overall quality: Treads the fine line between easy and not-so-easy (queasy?) listening.
Style: More luxuriously produced, multilingual opera-lite for the adult-contemporary demographic.
Worldview: That Italian is the language of love; that if one Josh Groban is good, four are better; that Andy Warhol meant it when he said, "Always leave them wanting less."
Overall quality: Ideal for anyone who ever thought the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" would sound better sung in Italian by four operatic tenors emoting at full volume.
Style: Blues, country, gospel, rock 'n' roll.
Cautions: Some bluesman vulgarity.
Worldview: "Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air. / Tomorrow keeps turning around. / We live and we die. We know not why. / But I'll be with you when the deal goes down."
Overall quality: Lyrics irrigated by a stream of romantic and religious consciousness and a voice that can simultaneously afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
Style: Middle-of-the-road guitar rock, with brief detours into mellowness and metal.
Worldview: That there is too an upside to breaking up: The resulting loneliness and pain bring the very clichés to mind without which mediocre, romantically challenged rockers would have nothing to say.
Overall quality: The latest American Idol contestant to parlay his tube appeal into a major-label contract continues that show's tradition of foisting homogenized predictability upon the public.
For years country-music fans have experienced the album that Johnny Cash recorded at San Quentin in 1969 with the solo turns by Carl Perkins, the Carter Family, and the Statler Brothers excised. Now, nine years after releasing At Folsom Prison in its entirety, Columbia/Legacy has released the complete At San Quentin (with an accompanying DVD of a U.K. TV special documenting the event) and in so doing revealed the concert to have been even more deserving of its legendary status.
Only recently having abandoned drugs and embraced Christ, Cash has moments sacred and profane, but there's no denying the love and empathy that he feels for both his music and the inmates or that their enthusiastic response urges all of the performers to pull out the stops. Cash is obviously the star, singing 22 of the 31 songs, but Perkins, the Carters, and the Statlers (especially on the Glen Campbell--penned gospel song "Less of Me") shine very brightly as well. - Arsenio Orteza