The coronavirus challenged compassion-providing ministries in new ways
She Remembers Everything (Deluxe Edition)
On this album’s second song, Cash commits herself to doing what she does best: exploring “the undiscovered country between a woman and a man.” Not that it’s her only terrain. “8 Gods of Harlem” addresses (with help from Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello) disquiet on the inner-city front, and the title song finds her (with help from Sam Phillips) exploring the undiscovered country within herself. But the male-female vortex keeps drawing her back, as do Americana musical settings that throw her melodies into evocatively shadowy relief.
Hearts of Glass
Beth Nielsen Chapman
Chapman’s lyrics are so forthright, her chord progressions so inevitable, and her singer-songwriterly voice and instrumentation so unassuming that it’s easy to miss the telling details—her rhyming “diving headlong off the overpass” with the album’s title in “Epitaph for Love” or the sandwiching of the abusive-marriage sketch “Rage on Rage” (one of several rerecordings) between the bouncy “Enough for Me” and the sweet “You’re Still My Valentine.” Then there’s the ghostly coda that stands athwart her maudlin-bound Alzheimer’s song, whispering “Stop.” It’s stunning.
Look Now (Deluxe Edition)
Elvis Costello & the Imposters
Twenty years after his Burt Bacharach collaboration Painted from Memory, Costello reignites the torch that he’s obviously still carrying for his nonagenarian hero. Bacharach co-wrote only three of these songs, but all of them (with the exception of the Costello/Carole King outlier) bear traces of his sense and sensibility. Still, the album belongs to Costello, who hasn’t corralled this many instantly memorable melodies or—maybe because the lyrics rank among his (or Bacharach’s or King’s) most natural and sympathetic—sung this naturally or sympathetically in years.
Although “We Will Rock You” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” have been excised from the Live Aid performance that’s this album’s obvious selling point, they do appear elsewhere in the program (the former in a clever studio-to-live splice). On the whole, however, like the film to which they function as an approximate soundtrack, the proceedings recycle highlights and skim a surface long familiar to cognoscenti. And, also like the film, the tale that lies therein is every bit as cautionary as it is celebratory.
Rhino Records’ new four-CD collection Phil Collins Plays Well with Others proves that during his nearly 50-year career its subject has been much more than Genesis’ drummer or a one-man ’80s pop juggernaut. He has, for instance, been a highly sought after hired gun. Discs 1 through 3 document his contributions to 47 different projects by over 30 different acts and in the process trace his development from an arty prog-rocker to an ego-checking chameleon who has never met a genre that he doesn’t like.
Disc 4 focuses, or at least narrows down, Collins’ eclecticism. Subtitled Live 1981-2002, it begins with rock royalty (George Harrison, Bee Gees), downshifts into jazz both classic (Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones) and contemporary (the Buddy Rich Big Band), and ends with more rock royalty (Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker). It culminates mid-disc with an amazing “Pick Up the Pieces” that even at 21 minutes never wears out its welcome. —A.O.