The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Saturday, January 11, 2003
MUSIC 2002: Next week the season of musical Oscars begins (how many ceremonies are there now? 600?) with the American Music Awards. My own favorites for 2002 follow, but with a difference: I made pretty much no effort to keep up with new releases, so this list simply features the 10 best CDs I bought last year, regardless of when they were published. Even the new albums are mostly made of older material.

1. Bob Dylan:
Live 1975 (2002)

His best concert album. Ever.

2. Sir Douglas Quintet: 1+1+1=4/The Return of Doug Saldaña (1970/71)

The reissue of the year: two of Doug Sahm's finest albums, one of them never before available on CD. The songs range from honky-tonk to jump blues to psychedelia to jazz -- if a musical style has ever drifted through Texas, Sahm can (a) play it brilliantly and (b) combine it casually with everything else.

3. Louis Armstrong: The Best of the Hot 5 and Hot 7 Recordings (2002)

A new collection of old music, recorded from 1926 to 1929 and released in countless forms since then. Surely you don't need me to tell you how good Louis Armstrong was?

4. The Klezmatics: Possessed (1997)

For lack of a better term, I'll call this avant-klezmer.

5. Penelope Houston: Birdboys (1988)

Sublime folk-rock from a punk pioneer. (Before she went solo, Houston was in the Avengers.) For years I only had a pirated tape of this out-of-print album; now, thanks to the Internet, you and I can acquire the CD directly from the artist. Best track: "Putting Me in the Ground."

6. The Beatles: Revolver (1966)

As with Birdboys, an illicit tape of this has been in my collection for years. In 2002 I finally got around to buying the damn CD.

7. André Popp: Delirium in Hi-Fi (1957)

Popp does to the recording studio what Spike Jones did to the jazz band.

8. Johnny Cash at Madison Square Garden (2002)

Cash's most recent studio album was a mixed bag -- but with this brilliant live set from 1969 hitting stores at the same time, who could complain? Bloggers caught between hawkish and dovish sympathies will especially enjoy the singer's declaration, re: Vietnam, that he's "a dove with claws."

9. Manu Chao: Clandestino (1998)

A European folky/punk who digs hip hop, too.

10. Clarence Gatemouth Brown: Gate Swings (1997)

One of the great bluesmen gets a swinging big band. If you don't like this music, you're un-American.

Honorable mention:

Beck: Sea Change (2002)
Dave Davies: Bug (2002)
The Quintessential Billie Holiday: 1933-1935 (1987)
The Holy Modal Rounders: I & II (1964)
Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

posted by Jesse 2:42 AM
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