The subject of Lily Keber’s fascinating documentary Bayou Maharaj: The Tragic Genius of James Booker, the late, queer New Orleans piano legend James Booker was a gifted performer with a serious substance abuse problem. He died at 43 in 1983. Booker was so unpredictable that he was able to make only a few studio albums. To coincide with the release of the documentary film about him, Classified, considered his masterwork, has been reissued as Classified: Remixed and Expanded. It’s an exceptional 22-track crash course in Booker. Almost half of the songs were previously unreleased, including the extraordinary Booker original “I’m Not Sayin’,” which says plenty about his talent.
Krissy Krissy, a 23-year-old out singer-songwriter will perform in Madison on Oct. 2 at The Frequency. The show starts at 8 p.m.
She’s touring with the all-female bands Hunter Valentine and Girl in A Coma this fall. The tour – 20-plus dates in the United States and Canada – began in Nashville on Sept. 8.
The reissue of the Cotillion Records compilation Funky Christmas gets off to a fabulously funky start with “May Christmas Bring You Happiness” by a quintet called Luther. Led by the late Luther Vandross (shortly before his disco breakthroughs with Bionic Boogie and Change, and his subsequently soaring solo career), both of Luther’s tracks (including the other Vandross original “At Christmas Time”) are the main reasons to unwrap this disc. Margie Joseph’s “Christmas Gift” and “Feeling Like Christmas” also rank high on the list.
In a year when some of rap’s heavyweights pushed their craft either creatively (in the case of Kanye West’s innovative Yeezus), or by breaking new marketing ground (such as Jay Z’s Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail), the smaller ambitions of Eminem seem quaint. Eminem is frequently criticized for rarely exiting his comfort zone, constantly returning to familiar subject matter. The autobiographical and celebrity-baiting of his past few albums felt stale and juvenile.
Kenny Rogers, "You Can't Make Old Friends" (Warner Bros.)
Kenny Rogers enters his 75th year with an album that blends the familiar with the challenging, seeking new hits and pursuing new ideas even as he enters the Country Music Hall of Fame this fall.
A step back in time proved to be a forward-looking move for Elton John.
Upon the suggestion of producer T Bone Burnett, the 66-year-old singer reverted to a musical format he used when starting out more than four decades ago. The new album features John, his piano and vocals backed primarily by bass and drums, with subtle embellishments.
The Beatles, “On Air - Live At the BBC, Vol. 2” (Universal)
“The Beatles: The BBC Archives 1962-70,” by Kevin Howlett (HarperCollins)
Out singer/songwriter Patty Larkin is approaching her 30th year as a recording artist. Her latest disc is the radiant and raw Still Green (Signature Sounds). An extraordinary guitarist, Larkin stretches the bounds of traditional folk, incorporating influences ranging from jazz to rock — with the occasional bit of programming thrown in.
Frankly Music, the revolving chamber group established by virtuoso violinist Frank Almond, is designed to “unstuff” the classics, making them more accessible to a wider audience.
Janelle Monae finally gave birth this week. No, it wasn’t a little baby, but a bundle of music that she says was just as labor-intensive.
“I just feel like this is a baby and I’m ready to have a C-section or this baby is ready to come,” Monae said of “The Electric Lady,” released Sept. 10.