Worthwhile Grammys

15 02 2012

The Grammys are always a surefire way to slam pop music and the industry that supports it. Any awards show that honors Jethro Tull as best heavy metal band or heap loads of recognition upon an artist based purely on sales is bound to be an easy annual tackling dummy.

That’s no slight to Adele, by the way. She’s got a fantastic voice, the taste to match, and a marvelous sense of humor. She’s taking five years off? Good for her. If only most artists could, or would, do the same instead of caving into the demand for more product and money.

The Grammys have a serious side however, one that gets no recognition during prime time. Here are some awards that don’t cater to mass tastes and touch upon some beautiful recordings from the past year, each worth a listen.

— Best Historical Album: “Band on the Run (Paul McCartney Archive Collection – Deluxe Edition),” Paul McCartney. You can’t keep a great record down.

— Best New Age Album: “What’s It All About,” Pat Metheny. It’s new age only in texture. It’s jazz in its soul and worth hearing, as are loads of Pat’s records. 

— Best Americana Album: “Ramble at the Ryman,” Levon Helm. Well deserved, not only for some great music but also for setting a new standard in touring. Levon doesn’t come to you; you go to Leon. 

— Best Pop Instrumental Album: “The Road From Memphis,” Booker T. Jones. Pop? I suppose. Instrumental? Yes. Turn it up.

— Best Blues Album: “Revelator,” Tedeschi Trucks Band. Nice to see both recognized for their enormous talents. This is also the best Delaney & Bonnie album in years. Yes, that’s a compliment.

— Best Surround Sound: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (Super Deluxe Edition). Too bad you have to buy a huge package just to get the 5.1 mix. That’s the attraction and it should be an ala carte option.

— Best Jazz Instrumental Album: “Forever,” Corea, Clark & White. This is Out There‘s favorite jazz release of the past year. Plenty of power, harmony, and improv.

— Best Improvised Jazz Solo: “500 Miles High,” Chick Corea. Dunno about best solo, but it’s pretty good.

— Best World Music Album: “Tassili,” Tinariwen. Recorded at night, in the desert. How bad can that be?