KEITH RICHARDS’ “LIFE” (with James Fox)
√ Bob Recommended
This book is everything you hoped for and more. Keith has not only produced some of the most sensual and exciting music of the rock ‘n’ roll era, but he has been a symbol for everything that was enticing and alarming about the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. In more than 550 pages, he strives to tell us the things about his colorful life that we want to know—both the tabloid-ish things and the moments of musical invention. The 60s and 70s decades were such a dangerous time for Richards that it’s amazing how he survived the drug-fueled, renegade path he took. We hear about the good and dark times with Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg and the rest of the celebrated Stones extended family. Crucially, he speaks candidly about his up and down relationship with Mick Jagger—how he felt Jagger would feel threatened and try to sabotage any friendships Keith tried to build apart from him. But he also keeps reminding us of his passion for music, and shares the creation of such Stones landmarks as “Satisfaction,” “Honky Tonk Women” and “Start Me Up” and more. Ultimately, Richards emerges from the years of self-destruction and he discovers it’s a pretty good place to be. He finds saneness and love (with model Patti Hansen) and delights in being a family man. By the end of the book, he’s so relaxed and down to earth that he’s even sharing his recipe for bangers and mash. This isn’t, however, just the tale of a survivor. It’s the story of a man who realizes all that he has to be thankful for and, in the final pages of the book; he comes across as a sensible, humble and loyal. Richards moves beyond the image to share a piece of himself. “Life” is revealing, intimate, engaging and most surprising, even a bit sweet.
ELVIS COSTELLO’S “NATIONAL RANSOM” (Hear Music)
√ Bob Recommended
Rock ‘n’ roll’s second great man named Elvis has made a couple dozen albums since the classic “My Aim Is True” in the late 1970s. It sometimes feels like he’s made twice that many because he has packed so many images and ideas into every collection. Not everything has worked in recent years, but this time he’s again in top form. There’s such fury in the opening track that you could picture him listening to his old, high-energy gem “Pump It Up” before stepping into the studio to record it. Besides a solid, thoughtful body of songs, some of which speak to the national psyche, the album benefits from employing several of the musical styles that have interested the Englishman over the years, including music hall. Another inspired piece in producer T Bone Burnett’s remarkable, growing legacy.
MUMFORD & SONS’ “SIGH NO MORE” (Glassnote)
√ Bob Recommended
If you like the Avett Brothers (and you should) or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (and you should), this English quartet is mining much of the same musical soil. There’s a rustic, country, folk, even bluegrass spirit flowing through the tracks, along with a winning youthful optimism that is underscored in the title track, when they declare, “Love, it will not betray, dismay or enslave you / It will set you free.” But, rest assured, the band touches on enough dark or melancholy moments to keep the music rooted in reality. The good news here is the album has found an audience in the U.S. “Sign No More” has been on the Billboard charts for more than half the year.
Slight, but Rachel McAdams is terrific
This charming, but light tale of an ambitious young TV executive’s attempts to try to pump life into a stale morning TV show (and her own workaholic existence) is much more entertaining than its 57 score on www.metacritic.com would suggest. The story itself has the stale aura of week-old bread, but Rachel McAdams is winning in every scene, whether she’s asked to do slapstick or to touch us with tenderness. It’s an example of perfect casting and an actress finding her voice on the screen. Diane Keaton, Harrison Ford and Jeff Goldblum also respond well in supporting roles. For those expecting something daring and or revolutionary, “Morning Glory” may be annoying. For its quiet pleasures, however, the film is a warm, unexpected treat.
Clichés collide with furious action
This action-drama comes roaring down the tracks with such speed and force that the first hour just sweeps you away even though you know director Tony Scott is going to eventually run out of energy and dynamic shots. And sure enough things sputter for a while until Scott regains his touch and things start roaring again in the film’s final minutes. The runway train is such a menacing force that it could be a nominee for best villain if there was an Oscar category. There are too many clichés in the story (starting with the pairing of a grizzly railroad veteran with a new kid on the job) to make the film more than a simple popcorn diversion, but on the action scenes are sometimes stunning.