Mark Rosen   PoOPlist 2006

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1. JAMES HUNTER - People Gonna Talk
50% Sam Cooke, 50% Boz Scaggs, 50% Georgie Fame and a dash of every soul singer who ever lived. Soulful, understated and terrifically out of synch with the rest of the music world. The best 60s soul record in the last 36 years.

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Mash-ups between different artists often serve to widen the parameters of artists’ songs and explore the music’s surprising possibilities. It would be foolhardy to attempt to improve/alter/fine tune/redefine the originals, simply because the originals are so sacrosanct, That would be heavy meddle. But this has great novelty value so sacrilege, my ass. And I have to admit, the excitement of going into a store and buying a “new” Beatles album was pretty damn nostalgic. Even if it was Best Buy, not Sam Goody or EJ Korvettes, and I could listen to it as soon as I got in my car.

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3. THE DIXIE CHICKS - Taking the Long Way
This CD has heart, soul, anger and politics. “Not Ready To Make Nice” is one of the most powerful songs in recent memory. While the Chicks sound more like mid-70s Fleetwood Mac than country, this record draws much of its balls (its ovaries?) from the fact that it is a country record. It’s been said that the best art is created during periods of Republican leadership. George W deserves a mention in the credits. And go see Shut Up and Sing.

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4. THE LITTLE WILLIES - The Little Willies
Country music for a small jazzy combo that actually sounds like they’re having a blast tinkering with both formulas. Extra kudes to Norah Jones for her insistence that she get absolutely no added recognition on this CD (and on the band’s late night TV appearances). Just one of the Willies.

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5. THE SADIES - In Concert: Volume 1
The Sadies slide effortlessly between mountain gospel, surf guitar, Workingman’s Dead-like cosmic country to spagwestern music. And that’s during the first four songs. If you don’t like one style, just wait a minute and a half. These Canadians are the American band of the year. Their show at the Bearsville Theater was the best show I saw all year. It was also the only show.

DEAN GRAY - American Edit
“Dean Gray,” aka DJs Party Ben and team9, mash Green Day’s American Idiot with twenty-one other musical artists and one bullshit artist (George W. Bush). More politically pointed than Green Day’s original, this is the aural rendition of BJ Armstrong’s “subliminal mindfuck America,” a Musical Where’s Waldo, the surreal deal. This was available online for all of one week in December of 2005.

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7. THE KLEZMATICS (Lyrics by Woody Guthrie) - Wonder Wheel
While Bragg and Wilco tried to re-create Guthrie’s paths of Americana glory, the Klezmatics wring Brooklyn ethnicity out of his Mermaid Avenue catalog. Coneyana, anyone?

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8. MATTHEW SWEET AND SUSANNA HOFFS - Under the Covers: Vol. 1
Matt and Suzy add “sweet”ness and shimmer to some well-traveled 60s songs and make them their own. This won’t change the world one bit but there’s always room for one more melody-driven set of songs.

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9. NEKO CASE - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Ethereal and impossible to categorize, this outing makes it no easier to compare her to any other singer. Best Keyboardist in a Supporting Role: Garth Hudson.

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10. NEIL YOUNG - Living With War
More than once, this CD reminded me of how I felt when I heard “Ohio” on the radio four days after Kent State, except for the radio part. Its no-frill artwork and live-in-the-studio, thrown together feel pretty much define this project. I’m still baffled by how few artists have turned to the war for inspiration.

11. RICHARD THOMPSON - The Life and Music of Richard Thompson
I swear, this box set must weigh about 10 pounds. The music is wonderful (although marred occasionally by some subpar audio) and the packaging even better. The 172 page book is as engaging as the music. Full of surprises for even the most ardent RT fan.

This is klezmer with a multikultural twist, or what a Mexican bar mitzvah band might sound like.

13. SOLOMON BURKE - Nashville
In one song, Burke sings of being “caught in a vicious circle between two worlds.” He could be describing the worlds of soul and country but in Burke’s big hands, the marriage sounds natural and ever so comforting, never vicious.

14. REGINA SPEKTOR - Begin To Hope
On her most tuneful album, Regina comes across like Fiona Apple with a sense of humor. In other words, not really like Fiona Apple. Watch for the Brill Building influence that mischievously “pops” up now and then. Question: Is heart really a 14 syllable word?

15. CAT POWER - The Greatest
Her wonderfully sympathetic straight-outta-Memphis band adds a layer of soul to parched and tortured voice.

16. HOWE GELB - ‘Sno Angel Like You
The weird factor is no stranger to Howe Gelb records. The weird here arrives in the Voices of Praise Gospel Choir and the unlikely gumbo of gospel and Gelb’s Arizona sandpop, giving Gelb’s cryptic nonsequiturs the gravity of God.

17. NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE - Live at the Fillmore East: March 6 & 7, 1970
A snapshot of Neil when he was not only young at heart but actually young. Plus, I was there in the tenth row, also young.

This one epitomizes reserved, tasteful singing and playing. Stay clear of the live one though.

19. VARIOUS ARTISTS - Five Way Street: A Tribute to Buffalo Springfield
For what it’s worth, it’s hard to imagine just how different music would be today if Neil Young, Steven Stills and Richie Furay had never met one another. Suffice to say, the twenty-one bands represented here would never have existed. Or about a quarter of the artists on this list, for that matter.

20. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Starring his new loosey, goosey, rollicking and rolling band. “American Land” on the expanded edition (thanks a lot, $ony!) is classic Springsteen. I just don’t remember Bob Seger doing any of these songs.

21. THE RACONTEURS - Broken Toy Soldiers
I never really liked most of the 70s bands that these guys nick. I can take or leave Jack White and his Stripes. I like Brandon Benson but not enough for last year’s CD to have made my 2005 POOP. Yet all these sounds that I’ve heard so often sound pretty cool stirred up in one pot. My only reservation is that as I am typing this, it took me three attempts to spell their name correctly.

NOT IN STORES BUT IN MY CD PLAYER (for argument’s sake, 22-25):
22. The hundreds of mash-ups I downloaded this year
23. My mixed CDs of Beatles mash-ups and Motown mash-ups - two volumes each
24. Two homemade CDs of the Funk Brothers performing hits without Martha, Marvin, Smokey, et al.
25. “Just Like Everybody Else Does: The Smiths Covers - Volumes 1-4” [thanks, Kev]

· Rockin’ Bones: 1950s Punk & Rockabilly - great sounding 4 CD set with great notes from Rhino
· From Boppin’ Hillbilly To Red Hot Rockabilly and We’re Gonna Rock, We’re Gonna Roll OK sounding 4 CD boxes, each with 100+ songs, good notes and about $24 each from Proper UK

·	BOB DYLAN - Modern Times
·	RAY DAVIES - Other People’s Lives

·	Syd Barrett					         
·	James Brown					              
·	Ahmet Ertegun					              
·	Arthur Lee  
·	Grant McLennan
·	Wilson Pickett
·	Gene Pitney                                                                                    
·	Tower Records