Buried Alive: Live in Maryland
The New Barbarians (Wooden)
Between Stones tours in 1979, Ron Wood and Keith Richards put together an all-star band—including bassist Stanley Clarke, Meters drummer Ziggy Modeliste, and ex-Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan—for a short U.S. tour. Wood had just released a solo disc, and Richards was trying to keep out of jail after getting busted for heroin in Canada. They came through Maryland in May and played a ragged but exhilarating show at the Capitol Centre in Largo. At least that's how I always remembered it—at age 14, I was in the audience that night. It was my third concert, after seeing Chuck Berry and Aerosmith the previous year. For 25 years, I'd recounted the highlights: Wood and Richards, full of swashbuckling charm, trading guitar licks on Berry's "Sweet Little Rock and Roller" and straining to sing even the most basic melodies; Clarke and Modeliste getting funky on Freddie Scott's "Am I Grooving You?"; Richards sitting at the piano and crooning Tammy Wynette's "Apartment No. 9"; and the band tearing through Richards's "Before They Make Me Run." This two-CD set, recorded at the Capitol Centre show, confirms that those were, indeed, the highlights, and the Richards-does-Wynette tune qualifies as nothing short of a revelation. But what I didn't remember was how sloppy the rest of the set was. Even by garage-band standards, it was ragged, but still worth the $9.35 ticket.
Do the Boomerang: the Music of Junior Walker
Don Byron (Blue Note)
Who knew that Don Byron, the avant-garde clarinetist known for his eclectic good taste and tongue-in-cheek arrangements, liked Junior Walker enough to pick up the saxophone for a sincere and straightforward homage to the Motown great? Byron is, indeed, a fan, and thanks to the playing of local Hammond B-3 star George Colligan, he manages to make Walker's material even funkier and grittier—and that's quite an achievement.
Beach House (Carpark)
Like Mazzy Starr tinkering with a Casio, this Baltimore duo weds languorous vocals to simple electronic instrumentation, often with sublime and sensual results. The niece of French composer/arranger Michel Legrand, singer Victoria Legrand sounds like a shy, indifferent chanteuse, as she shadows Alex Scally's hushed instrumental tracks on tunes such as "Apple Orchard," "Auburn and Ivory," and " Childhood." The song "Master of None" deserves to be in heavy rotation in any iTunes playlist—it's simply one of the best songs of the year.