Top Ranking Albums of July 2012
Jimmy Cliff – Rebirth [Sunpower 2012]
Rodriguez – Cold Fact [Light in the Attic Records 2008]
Cutty Ranks – Full Blast [Philip Music 2012]
Courtney John – From Letters to Words [Jamaica Records 2012]
Snoop Lion – La La La [Berhane Sound System 2012]
Damian Marley & Skrillex – Make t Bun Dem [Big Beat Records 2012]
Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming [Daptone Records 2011]
Lutan Fyah – Truly [One Drop Productions 2012]
Alejandro Escovedo – Big Station [Fantasy Records 2012]
Menny Moore – Menny’s Book of Riddims [Troback Sound 2012]
Jay Farrar – New Multitudes [New Rounder 2012]
Easy Star All-Stars – Billie Jean EP [Easy Star Records 2012]
Nas – Life is Good [Def Jam 2012]
Last night I went to see the documentary Gasland at the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The environmental consequences of gas drilling are tremendous. The industry harms humans, animals, and rivers around the country. This particular film focused on the dire impacts of fracture drilling around the United States. Peaceful rural people seemed to suffer the most from the destructive drilling practices. The fracturing caused farmers’ water supplies to be tainted and even poisoned. In some cases the water could be lit on fire. That’s right so much gas has seeped into water reserves that water (that once ran pure) can now be lit on fire.
This film is a warning, and not of the Al Gore alarmist type. It is an objective treatment of an issue that has been muddied by the natural gas industry. It is shocking to see the environmental damage wrought by the gas companies, but it is even more shocking when one considers this is but one of the many large energy producers (coal, oil, and gas) polluting our communities. Between the big producers it is amazing that we can still breathe. And I am not even talking about carbon emission. I’m talking about arsenic, acids, and other major hazardous chemicals.
Filmmaker and now modern-day muckraker Josh Fox has put together an excellent expose of the gas industry. There is a reason the gas industry runs so many commercials on television, radio, and billboards. It is a brainwashing campaign to dupe regular citizens into supporting a harmful and destructive, yet lucrative practice. Fort Worth, Texas and the industrialization of the Barnett Shale plays a central role in this film, especially the plight of the tiny community of Dish, Texas. This topic is not only of global significance it is of the utmost local importance. HBO will be showing this film soon. Catch it on cable if you can. If not, go see this great award-winning (it won a Sundance award) film! I even found parts of it on youtube.
Plus I really like Fox’s use of the banjo and the Woody Guthrie song “This Land Land Is Your Land.” The song is appropriate, especially when exploring the opening of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands during the Bush-Cheney years. Much of the public lands of the American West were exploited by natural gas extraction. And much of the water tables in the surrounding areas were completely ruined. Josh Fox hopes that his beloved creek in Pennsylvania will escape such a fate. Hopefully, Fox’s film will shed a bright light on the supposedly “clean energy” industry. In light of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Texas needs to reevaluate our energy sources, strategies, production, and needs.
The Top Albums of September 2009
The masterful singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie told stories with his music. He sang songs about the plight of immigrants, farmers, and workers. He told the story of America. He represented the common man. This new collection of Woody Guthrie music is superb. It contains everything from the well-known mainstream hits “This Land Is Your Land,” “Going Down The Road (I Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way),” and “Hard Ain’t It Hard” to some of politically charged ballads like “Tear The Facists Down,” “You Gotta Go Down And Join The Union,” and “Jesus Christ.”
The legendary folk singer mastered the folk hero ballads like “Pretty Boy Floyd,” “Stackolee,” “John Henry,” and “Harriet Tubman’s Ballad Part 1.” The collection contains fun classic folk songs “More Pretty Girls Than One,””Brown’s Ferry Blues,” and “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” and captures the storytelling abilities of the man with tunes like “The Sinking Of The Reuben James.”
Furthermore Woody Guthrie had an extensive catalog with wonderful children songs like “My Daddy (Flies A Ship In The Sky)“ and magnificent New Deal era tales of bringing power and jobs to the country in celebratory tales like “Grand Coulee Dam.” This is an amazing collection with good quality sound. In this new era of economic hardships the sounds of the Great Depression and New Deal seem to be a perfect soundtrack for the “Hard Travelin’” ahead.
- Woody Guthrie – My Dusty Road [Rounder 2009]
- Phish – Joy [Jemp Records 2009]
- Soja – Born In Babylon [DMV Records]
- Willie Nelson – American Classic [Blue Note 2009]
- Polvo – In Prism [Merge Records 2009]
- Casual Sax – Baby I’m Black [Wonder Sound 2009]
- Pearl Jam – Backspacer 
- A.A. Bondy – When The Devil’s Loose [Fat Possum Records 2009]
- Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3 [Roc Nation 2009]
- Pitbull – Rebelution [Jive 2009]
- Rodrigo y Gabriella – 11:11 [ATO Records 2009]
- John Fogerty – The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again [Verve Forecast 2009]
- Busy Signal – Hott Ed [Greensleeves 2009]
- The Black Crowes – Before The Frost…Until The Freeze [Silver Arrow Records 2009]
- Yonder Mountain String Band – The Show [Frog Pad Records 2009]