Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Charlotte 500, Lap 23: Bert and Gert's

It seems like most of what I've put on my list has to do with eating, but I've been sitting on this one for a few months because I forgot all about it. Bert and Gert's in North Charlotte off US21 may not be my favorite, but that's because of what I ordered rather than the quality of the food - I just had to try the fried squash, which was disappointing. And I've learned, when it comes to BBQ, don't order the sandwiches. The thick bread required to keep the pork together fills you up unnecessarily and doesn't add anything to the experience.
The best part, in my opinion, is the decor, which consists entirely of classic rock album covers stuck on the wall, with bands including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Journey, the Doors, and many more.

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Christmas Music Review

One of the recent developments in the entertainment industry that bothers me the most is the demise of the CD industry, and, along with it, the likely end of the album as a means of delivering music to the public. Listening to a good album is like reading a good novel - it's entertaining, fulfilling, maybe even moving if it pushes beyond good and reaches great. It's not all about the quality of each song, but involves such things as theme, organization, structure, sequence - all those terms they teach in English 101. Anyway...with even such stores as Borders ditching their CD inventory, I put a lot of music on my Christmas wish list in hopes the generous people in my life would give me the gift of music. So, now that I've finally used all my gift cards, rewards, and holiday discounts, here is a review of the music most recently added to my library, not that anyone asked.

1) The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: The Pogues are what happens when the boys who've been at the pub all night watching the band, pints of Beamish or Guiness in hand, find themselves on the stage rather than at the bar. A wonderful ruckus, blending punk, folk, and traditional Irish, The Pogues are a tremendous lot of fun. Great songwriting, with a few traditionals thrown into the mix, and you've got what could be the greatest musical story-telling treat this side of Johnny Cash. Rum, Sodomy, and the Last, named after a quote never actually spoken by Winston Churchill, is one of two albums considered to be The Pogues best. My favorites on this album are "Sally MacLennane", "Dirty Old Town", and one of the best war songs of all time "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda."

2) The Pogues - If I Should Fall From Grace With God - I think this is the best Pogues album and its hard to pick out my favorites, but "Fiesta", "Sketches of Spain", and "Turkish Song of the Damned" are always fun. "Fairy Tale of New York" is an off-kilter, hilarious Christmas song, sung as a dialogue between a man and a woman whose relationship has seen better days.

3) Elvis Presley - The Essential Elvis - Not really an album, but I figured that anyone who likes rock and roll has to have some Elvis on the shelf, and, as the title says, these are the essential tunes.

4) Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand - Interesting collaboration between a man accused of being a heavy metal pioneer and a woman who is probably the most recognized name in bluegrass. I like "Killing the Blues" (now being used in a JC Penney commercial) and "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)" which won a grammy.

5) Merle Haggard - Chicago Wind - The lyrics are a bit hamhanded, but I still like the album, which, surprisingly, contains an Iraq war protest song, as well as a libertarian-sounding song that protests against our government in general.

6) Willie Nelson - Phases and Stages - 1974 concept album about the break-up of a marriage. "Bloody Mary Morning" is the best, and most famous, song.

7) Willie Nelson - Yesterday's Wine - 1972 concept album about one man's life from birth to death. The title song and "Me and Paul" are the best songs.

8) Johnny Cash - Live at San Quentin - "Wreck of the Old '97" is my favorite on the lively (pun not quite intended) number one album from 1968. Also features June Carter Cash, the Statler Brothers, and some other people I can't remember at the moment.
9) Sara Groves - Tell Me What You Know - This one sounds best in the car at high volume, not what you'd normally say about Sara Groves. No particular song stands out, but the whole package works fairly well.

10) Iris DeMent - Infamous Angel - Iris DeMent has a unique voice that you'll only find in folk music. "Our Town" - a brilliant song about the decay of a small town - is one of my favorite ever.

11) Alison Krauss and Union Station - New Favorite - This album is a fairly standard AKUS record. "The Boy Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn" and "The Lucky One" are probably the best songs, but it depends on my mood.

12) The Lonesome River Band - Carrying the Tradition - The best bluegrass in my collection. The Lonesome River Band was the home of Dan Tyminski before he joined Alison Krauss and Union Station.