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The Crossing - December 2005 Edition

Hello again. It’s december in mid-America and if all went well it’s December where you are too. No one can believe that it is indeed the last month of the year. Well, at least, I can’t. Well, I suppose I could. I’ll try. I’ll work on it. How’s that sound? Like last year’s December edition of The Crossing, I chose not to do an artist of the month and instead, took up the enormous task of trying to recapitulate an entire year’s worth of music. Always a head-scratcher!

For starters, last year I made a small list of artists ‘expected to have new albums in 2005’. Let’s see how that turned out:

  • The Badlees -  this Pennsylvania quintet seems to have either broken up or are busying themselves with solo projects. Firmly in the ‘where are they now’ file.
  • Better Than Ezra - Released ‘Before The Robots’ and are currently touring as far as I know.
  • Buffalo Tom - Believe it or not, this Massachusetts trio has reconvened, been out playing shows in the Mass. area and are expected to deliver their first album since ‘Smitten’ sometime in 2006.
  • Casbah Club - Let me remind you, this is the band made up of Simon Townshend (brother of Pete of The Who fame), two former members of Big Country and one former member of The Jam. There has been squabbling among the ranks, but their debut may see the light of day finally at and all will rejoice!
  • King’s X - Released the return-to-form ‘Ogre Tones’ and are currently touring.
  • Son Volt - Released the solid ‘Okemah and the Melody of Riot’ and are currently touring.
  • Gin Blossoms - The long-time ‘original’ five members are back together (minus the ‘really’ original member, the late Doug Hopkins) and are apparently re-recording a new album and looking for a record deal. Hopefully this will appear in 2006; ten years after the release of ‘Congratulations I’m Sorry’.
  • Jayhawks - On indefinite hiatus....which, of course, only means they will be back ‘someday’.
  • Will Kimbrough - Still guesting on albums by Jeff Black and Kate Campbell, while indeed working on a new album. Let’s hope he finally gets that released!

I also had a short list of hopes for 2005. Let’s take a look:

  • To see U2 - this will come true when they visit St. Louis this mid-month. Can’t wait!
  • For Bill Mallonee to front a full rocking band! - This has been and still is a ‘work in progress’ that will, if I could will this into actualization, will really will actually really, really will happen really, we can hope, please! Pretty please! Sugar on top! etc. Bill’s ‘body of work’ deserves this more than anybody I know.
  • For Marcus Hummon to release a new record - Notable Nashville songwriter Marcus did indeed release ‘Nowhere To Go But Up’. Note-to-self:need to listen to this more.
  • For Rush to return to the studio - Apparently this has been and is currently happening. I have read that Rush has been in pre-production for a new album. This ROCKS so bad that only true Rush fans could possibly understand!
  • For Bruce Springsteen to return to the studio - Bruce not only returned to the studio, but released ‘Devils & Dust’ in March of this year. Can you say ‘stealth’?
  • And maybe for these bands to reform (Midnight Oil - they reformed for a benefit show for last year’s tsunami disaster. I don’t think you can ever really rule them out in reforming and doing another album. James - former singer Tim Booth released a solo album and the band hasn’t done a thing without him as far as I know. Del Amitri - singer Justin Currie has been busy and is expected to release a solo album this year or a new album with Del Amitri or possibly even both. Cross fingers.)

On to the live arena:

I only went to a handful of shows this year and all were pretty excellent.....including Son Volt, The BoDeans, John Mellencamp with John Fogerty, Over The Rhine, Bill Mallonee, Social Distortion and Stroke 9. U2 this month might top them all!

As we are all aware of, there were many albums released in 2005. A pretty stellar year I’d say overall.

My top albums for 2005 (not in any order):

  • Over the Rhine - “Drunkard’s Prayer” (Listening to Karin Bergquist sing these decidedly more ‘personal’ songs with her beautiful voice is just not a difficult thing to do even if the subject matter is troubling.)
  • Bill Mallonee - “Friendly Fire”/”Hit And Run” (The ever-prolific Bill has been stalled as of late, but he did manage to release two albums this year. I prefer the really stripped down immediacy of “Hit And Run” but both albums are very welcome additions to an already extraordinarily impressive canon of work. Look for “Permafrost” in 2006.)
  • Bruce Springsteen - “Devils & Dust” (His days of writing more ‘personal’ albums may be over, but Bruce can still write a song like no other.) 
  • Black 47 - “Elvis Murphy’s Green Suede Shoes” (Leader Larry Kirwan has turned it up a notch with this mostly rocking follow-up to “New York Town”.)
  • Son Volt - “Okemah and the Melody of Riot” (A solid return under the Son Volt name for Mr.Jay Farrar. I’ve been on a massive Jay Farrar kick as of late listening to Son Volt and his solo albums as well.) 
  • King’s X - “Ogre Tones” (I thought the weak spot of this album was with the lyrics, but the overall sound is exactly how King’s X fans like their King’s X. They sound absolutely awesome on this Michael Wagener produced set.)
  • Charlie Sexton - “Cruel and Gentle Things” (Much more low-key than his previous album “Under The Wishing Tree”, this is an album that rewards with patience and grace. The first track ‘Gospel’ may be the song of the year in my book.) 
  • Neil Young - “Prairie Wind” (What a career Neil Young has had and if this is anything near the coda...let’s hope it’s not...then he has done his work just fine with this accessible album of songs about life and looking back on a life lived well. Simply good stuff!)
  • Nanci Griffith - “Hearts In Mind” (Nanci always seems like she’s on the verge of retirement, but when you don’t hear from her, she pops up with another collection of great songs. I think this is her best since “Flyer” back in 1994. Full of richly observed songs about today’s world.) 
  • Stryper - “Reborn” (An experiment, take ‘hair band’ from mid to late '80’s and insert them in the middle of the '00’s. What would they sound like? Take 70 parts nu-metal makeover, add 30 parts Stryper as you remember them. Result: old band comes alive again with new sound with added familiarity. Not bad and fun to listen to.)

Honorable mention:

  • Blue Rodeo - “Are You Ready?”
  • Great Big Sea - “The Hard and the Easy”
  • Cowboy Junkies - “Early 21st Century Blues”
  • Kate Campbell - “Blues and Lamentations”
  • David Gray - “Life In Slow Motion”
  • Glen Phillips - “Winter Pays For Summer”
  • Doug Pinnick - “Emotional Animal”
  • The Proclaimers - “Restless Soul”
  • Nickel Creek - “Why Should The Fire Die?”
  • Sufjan Stevens - “Come On Feel The Illinoize!” (Just seeing if you’re paying attention. Actually I haven’t heard this yet. I know. Shock! Horror! But, I have heard “Seven Swans”, so there! ;-) It’s on my list to hear.)

For 2006.......possible new albums from:

  • Tom Petty (in March)
  • REM
  • The Hooters
  • Rush
  • Wilco
  • Counting Crows
  • John Gorka
  • Bob Seger
  • ....and the aforementioned artists already mentioned above.
        On to the new stuff....

Many, many DVD’s coming out this time of year. Almost seems like there are more DVD’s than CD’s and that may be the case until things start to heat up again sometime around February and March.

And now a note from the editor, actually, just me, Chris, your host. If you are new to this CD and DVD buying game, always remember that titles and “especially” release dates are subject to change. I’m sure you are all well aware of this by now. Let me tell you a story, once upon a time I went up to the local Best Buy to see if I could find the latest album from Neil Young. Now, I had written on this here Crossing that it was available on such and such a date. Well, the date was a totally different such so I was just as miffed as probably you were when you realized The Crossing had got it wrong. Anyhow, to make a long, uninteresting story short, we here, that means me, at The Crossing try our best to get release dates as accurate as possible. To help from being overly panicked the next time a release date falls thru and you know The Crossing says it is etched in stone, maybe it’s best to start thinking of The Crossing, from time to time anyway, as something like a gives you a guide that something may happen, but it may not actually happen as foretold. Good advice, is it not? I’m starting to remind myself of this advice myself. Did that make sense? Oh well, nevermind. Another thing to remember is that there are always different versions of things now-a-days...such as dualdiscs with the audio on one side and the video on the other side. There’s also single CD’s, two disc sets, sometimes limited edition sets, also CD and DVD combo sets. My advice, and I’ve been doing this since I could crawl, is to always check all of the stock from any given artist and pick out the one you want. Most of you know this, but for the younger set and for those buying for others. You know who you are. It’s good advice. Also, with somethings you can’t find, it’s just a waiting game and will eventually come out. The most important thing is to NOT panic! Are we all relaxed now?

Okay, happy hunting and as always thanks for reading The Crossing and visiting the Phantom Tollbooth.

If we didn’t know you were there, we may or may not be here also! Think about that one.

Okay, ......let’s get to it:

Recently released and not mentioned in last edition:

     * Bright Eyes - Motion Sickness (live album.)
     * Over The Rhine - “Live” (Limited edition signed live album available for preorder at
     * The Mob - “The Mob” (This should be out as of 11/29.)
     * Diana Krall - “Christmas Songs”
     * Kate & Anna McGarrigle - “McGarrigle Christmas Hour”
     * Rick Danko - “Cryin’ Heart Blues”
     * Robin Trower - “Another Days Blues”
     * Tony Martin - “Scream”
     * City & Colour - “Sometimes” (import.)
     * Christy Moore - “Burning Times” (import.)
     * Alex Lloyd - “Alex Lloyd” (import.)
     * Omar Rodriguez - “Omar Rodriguez” (import.)
     * Place Vendome - “Place Vendome”
     * Nightwish - “High Hopes”
     * Various Artists - “She Will Have Her Way” (Tribute album to Tim and Neil Finn; import.)
     * The Who - “Tommy & Quadrophenia” (DVD compilation boxset.)
     * Journey - “Live In Houston on the Escape Tour. (DVD/CD combo set.)
     * The Outfield - “Live” (Available at
     * INXS - Rockstar: INXS (DVD.)
     * Murderball - DVD
     * Rush - “Complete Tour Books: 1977-2004” (Combined tourbooks throughout the years; limited to 500 signed copies; 400 pages with
       introduction by Neil Peart; available at


    * White Stripes - “Walking With A Ghost” (EP.)
    * Sugarcult - “Start Static”
    * P.O.D. - “Testify”
    * Peter Mayer - “Midwinter”
    * Korn - “See You On The Other Side”
    * Jon Anderson - “In Elven Lands: The Fellowship” (Singer of the band Yes; inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien could you tell?)
    * Tori Amos - “Original Bootleg Series” (12 CD boxset.)
    * The Eurythmics - “Boxed” (8 CD boxset.) 
    * Various Artists - “Our New Orleans”
    * Ben Folds - “Live In Perth” (DVD.)
    * Pink Floyd - “Pulse” (2 DVD set; first time on DVD.)
    * Cinderella Man - DVD 
    * Fantastic Four - DVD
    * Spanking The Monkey - DVD (1994 film; first time on DVD.)
    * Ladies In Lavender - DVD
     * Beck - “Guerolito” (Remix album; new date.)
     * Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (Score.)
     * Outkast - “Idlewild” (w/DVD.)
     * Howie Day - “Live From...” (6 track EP.)
     * Link Wray - “Law Of The Jungle”
     * Neil Peart - “Anatomy Of A Drum Solo” (DVD; Rush’s drummer and lyricist.)
     * The Island - DVD
     * The 40 Year Old Virgin - DVD
     * Bad News Bears ‘05 - DVD
     * Valiant - DVD

     * Guns ‘N Roses - “Welcome To The Jungle: The Very Best of G’NR” (Available in 1 and 2 CD sets.)
     * Ryan Adams - “29”
     * Jamie Foxx - “Unpredictable” (yes, the actor.)
     * Serenity - DVD
     * Four Brothers - DVD
     * The Brothers Grimm - DVD
     * The Exorcism Of Emily Rose - DVD
     * Must Love Dogs - DVD
     * Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill - DVD

     * Dark Water - DVD
     * Grizzly Man - DVD
     * Cafe Lumiere - DVD


     * Wedding Crashers - DVD
     * Broken Flowers - DVD
     * The Cave - DVD


     * We Are Scientists - “With Love And Squalor”
     * The Constant Gardener - DVD
     * Red Eye - DVD
     * Hustle & Flow - DVD
     * Transporter 2 - DVD


     * Be Good Tanyas - “TBA”
     * Lord Of War - DVD
     * Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room - DVD
     * The Man - DVD
     * Two For The Money - DVD
     * Junebug - DVD


     * Roseanne Cash - “Black Cadillac”
     * The Strokes - “First Impressions Of Earth”
     * Yellowcard - “Lights And Sounds”
     * Duncan Sheik - “White Limousine”
     * Flightplan - DVD
     * The Aristocrats - DVD

     * Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride - DVD


     * A State Of Mind - DVD


     * Proof - DVD 


     * Queensryche - “Operation: Mindcrime II”
     * Evanescence - “TBA”
     * The Greatest Game Ever Played - DVD


     * Live - “Songs From Black Mountain”


(Actually, this is the whole song recorded on only a twelve string acoustic guitar by Charlie Sexton.)

Don’t you look out your window.
Don’t you peek through the door.
Cause you just might find the thing that scares you
I ain’t talking about the devil man.
Ain’t talking about ghost.
Just that shapeless thing that’s made us sorrows host.

Too much information might cripple your soul.
The world is challenging your faith, more than you
If you’re looking for forgiveness.
You better hit your knees.
If you’re asking Jesus, you better ask him please.

Now everybody’s searching.
So many are lost.
They serve themselves no matter what the cost.
Yea the path is narrow and the ground is hard. 
No streets of gold, down here only broken and marred.

A lonely night is a recurring thing.
Empty rooms and not a word to sing.
So I look to the hymns when my spirit sinks.
Don’t look for Jesus, he’s closer than you think.

Now when the preacher shamed you.
Yea the preacher lied.
He may say you’re damned
but it ain’t he who decides.
And the people shunned you like some people do.
But the words they spoke, were as useful as one shoe.

Happiness is a slippery thing.
Like a pig and grease.
Something’s coming and I hope it’s peace.
Well it’s bound to happen. I know he understands.
I’m sure that Jesus holds it in his hands.

Charlie Sexton from the song “Gospel” off the album Cruel And Gentle Things.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!

Be good to each other.


Chris Barlow


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