Cool Spins

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Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

I could simply list the dozen songs on the soundtrack to the imminent Lionsgate film Pride, and anyone who remembers 1970s soul music will rush out (or log on) to buy the album. Here goes: "Back Stabbers," "Express Yourself," "I'll Take You There," "It's Your Thing," "Love Train," "Bridge Over Troubled Water" sung by Aretha!...But there's more to say about this soundtrack. The songs were chosen not only for their sheer greatness and authenticity in the context of a film set in the '70s, but also for the inspirational vibe they share. The film portrays African-American swimmers in Philadelphia whose coach encourages them to compete in a very "white" sport, and these songs are full of the honesty and drive that suffused the civil rights struggle in that era. The song selections are excellent, and the collection is mastered seamlessly and respectfully. (Nobody's rubbed out that bit of distortion at the beginning of "Express Yourself," for example.) Also included is a new John Legend song, "Dare to Dream," for those with more modern R&B leanings.

Must Play: Tracks 2-12

LISTEN: Audio Clip
"Express Yourself" MP3

Soundtrack Producer/Music Supervisor: Jay Faires. "Dare to Dream" Producers: Aaron Zigman, Jerry Hey, John Legend. "Dare" Recording Engineer: Michael Stern. "Dare" Mixer: Tommy Vicari. "Dare" Recording Studio: Conway Studios (Los Angeles). Mastering: Chris Bellman, Bernie Grundman Mastering (Hollywood).
—Barbara Schultz

Graham Parker
Don't Tell Columbus

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GP's third album for Bloodshot is further evidence that this artist/indie relationship is an inspired match. The former pub rocker has never stopped writing and recording incisive rock 'n' roll songs, but Don't Tell Columbus—like his previous Bloodshot efforts, Your Country and Songs of No Consequence—has a really enjoyable, sometimes subtle Americana feel to it, and displays more of the songwriter's sense of humor than was evident in many of his later albums for Razor & Tie. Once the "name" artist fronting the first-class Rumour, Parker plays a lot of the music himself on Columbus (guitars, bass, lap steel, harmonica, kazoo and percussion), with some support from co-producer Mike Gent (drums, percussion, backing vocals, guitar on a few tracks), keyboardist Ryan Barnum and a couple of backing vocalists. Still, the album feels very live and vibrant, and no one else sounds like GP.

Must Play: "I Discovered America"

Producers: Graham Parker, Mike Gent, Seth Powell. Engineer: Seth Powell. Mixer: Dave Cook. Studios: LRS Recording Studio (Hurley, NY), Soundcheck Republic (Chatham, NY). Mastering: Toby Mountain/Northeastern Digital (Southboro, MA).

LISTEN: Audio Clip
"I Discovered America" MP3
—Barbara Schultz

Metheny Mehldau Quartet

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This is the second outing from the always inventive and lyrical jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau—last year’s Metheny Mehldau was mostly duets, with just a couple of tunes that included Mehldau’s regular rhythm section of bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. This time around the group songs dominate (seven,  to four duets), and the result is an album with more rhythmic punch (as you’d expect) and also more sonic variety. Each of the leaders’ personalities is given plenty of room throughout, and their tandem work is always sympathetic—it’s a true collaboration in the best sense. I like the spaciousness of the group tunes, the sense of hearing four guys in a big room, in sync with each other. By contrast, the duets feel like little poems in between the more fleshed out full-band stories. Metheny varies his guitars throughout, using a 42-string axe (whatever the hell that is!) on one of the duets, a regular acoustic on another, and a synth guitar to wonderful effect on two other songs. Highly recommended to fans of both leaders.

Must Play: “A Night Away,” “The Sound of Water”

Producer: Pat Metheny. Engineers: Pete Karam (tracking, additional mixing), Rob Eaton (mixing). Studio: Right Track (NYC). Mastering: Ted Jensen/Sterling Sound (NYC)
—Blair Jackson