Goodie Mob reunited for their new album, “Age Against the Machine,” but the foursome’s offering seems more like the CeeLo Green show.
It is Goodie Mob’s first album in 14 years as a complete group .
But Green, a six-time Grammy winner, clearly stands out with ease alongside his longtime group mates for much of the 17-track album. While the others have some shining moments, Green’s talents shine brighter on this project.
His soulful vocals and lyrics are strong and digestible on songs such as “Nexperience” and “Ghost of Gloria Goodchild.” He sings about his first interracial relationship on “Amy,” and talks about how his burgeoning star appeal as a solo artist has given him some advantages in life on “Power.”
Goodie Mob’s messages are thought-provoking and insightful throughout their fifth album. They touch on topics from bullying (the Janelle Monae-assisted “Special Education”) to artistry in music (“State of the Art (Radio Killa”)) to race (“Kolors”).
Jonathan Landrum Jr.
The Associated Press
In the latest entry of his ongoing vault-diving releases, Bob Dylan revisits one of his least-heralded albums. “Self Portrait,” released in 1970, is remembered less today for its music than the classic first line of a Rolling Stone magazine review by Greil Marcus that greeted it: “What is this (expletive)?”
It was hard not to see why. The cultural icon baffled his fans with a badly-produced collection of minor compositions, some live cuts, covers of traditional folk and blues songs and even contemporary songs like “The Boxer.” Marcus, who writes the liner notes for this four-disc box set, wisely doesn’t step back from that assessment. He shouldn’t. Time doesn’t improve the work.
It seems amazing four decades later that an artist of Dylan’s caliber would take such a hands-off attitude toward his art, packing up his basic tracks and sending them to a Nashville producer who adds some truly cringe-worthy arrangements. Maybe that was precisely the point.
Two of the discs in this box are primarily Dylan’s original recordings with several outtakes, most with minimal arrangements. They’re almost uniformly better than what was on the original “Self Portrait.” There are a handful of interesting curios: a version of “If Not for You” with a haunting violin accompaniment, an unreleased studio session with George Harrison and a full band version of “I Threw It All Away.”
Disc three is a recording of the 1969 concert at the Isle of Wight festival, which interrupted a period of seclusion for Dylan.
Although the “Self Portrait” sessions seemed strange at the time, Dylan’s subsequent work gives it more context. Still performing regularly at 72, Dylan’s concerts keep his formidable catalogue alive along with an American blues, rock and folk tradition that predates even him. These 1970 recordings make clear that even back then, Dylan was constantly inspired by it.
Through the years, Dylan’s bootleg series has provided some real thrills, and interesting new perspectives on his work. This one doesn’t. Only completists will find something interesting.
The Associated Press
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved