Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff
Hip-shaking blues from Taj Mahal, a documentary tribute to Pete Seeger, karaoke-style singalong to 'Mamma Mia!' and more.
Forty hip-shaking years
No artist has stretched the definition of blues like Taj Mahal. Besides traditional delta and New Orleans-style blues, Taj has added West Indian, African, reggae, and Hawaiian slack-key styles to his big blues tent. Celebrating his 40th year of making records, he continues his mastery of the blues with Maestro. It's a hip-shaking collection of standards such as "Scratch My Back" and "Diddy Wah Diddy," plus some great new Taj originals. Special guests Jack Johnson, Los Lobos, and Ziggy Marley help make this a memorable anniversary, indeed.
Darkest Hugo of the Euro Deception
If you're forming your own rock band and desperate for a cool name, check out bandnamemaker.com. When you type your name – your mother's, best friend's, anyone's – into the "optional word" box, 10 crazy combinations jump back at you. It's not just future rockers who'll have a laugh.
A father of American folk – and an artist who's still performing as a spry near-nonagenarian – Pete Seeger shrugged off both political persecution and pressure to bend to commercialism to spin a long career sewing joy through music. With his battered banjo, Seeger has enthralled crowds of adults and schoolchildren (his favorite audience) with his genuine zeal for participatory performance. Along the way he's cleaned up the Hudson River and poked at the folly of wars. Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, new on DVD, is an uplifting depiction of a hopeful humanitarian and family man.
No limits Norah
Silky voiced Norah Jones appeared on the hip PBS music showcase, "Austin City Limits" back in June 2007 in a half-hour performance. On Sept. 2, an extended version of the show arrives on hi-def DVD, Norah Jones: Live from Austin, Texas. The sultry songstress sings 18 of her old and new songs. The release also marks the debut of a new collector's vinyl edition series, which launched Aug. 5.
Already the most successful movie musical of all time, "Mamma Mia!" has just introduced a Sing-Along Edition at cinemas. ABBA lyrics scroll across the bottom of the screen, so the audience can join dancing screen queen Meryl Streep and her crew belting out "Super Trouper," "Honey, Honey," "Voulez-Vous," and more. Another plus: Audience participation will give Pierce Brosnan's solos a welcome boost.
Even long-reigning kings sometimes need to prove their worth. BB King and his queen, Lucille (the name of the musician's signature guitar), have teamed up with music producer T-Bone Burnett to do just that on One Kind of Favor. Gone is the slick production of King's recent output. In comes the sound of a live band as the world's most famous bluesman lays down bee-sting licks on tracks such as "Tomorrow Night" and "Blues Before Sunrise." Proof, indeed, that his majesty still holds court.