A Poem Is A Naked Person, a film about Leon Russell by Les Blank:
Les Blank’s mind-blowing glimpse into the phantasmagoric world of Mr. Russell circa the early 1970s. Classic footage of Leon Russell, “Hank Wilson,” George Jones, Willie Nelson, John T. Floore, the Armadillo World Headquarters, Jim Franklin, J.J. Cale, Melba Montgomery, Bradley’s Barn, Pete Drake, Charlie McCoy, and the rest of the recently feted Nashville Cats intercut with scenes of the like that only Blank seems to catch on film.
The ‘5’ Royales — Soul & Swagger: The Complete ‘5’ Royales, 1951–1967:
This is the type of reissue that we love: immaculate sound, well-researched, and obviously a labor of love. Whether gospel, doo wop, R&B or mixing the three into a proto-soul, The ‘5’ Royales prove their own peculiar genius. (And as always, the guitar playing of Lowman “Pete” Pauling is pure joy.)
Tommy McClain — “Before I Grow Too Old”:
Written by an all-star pairing of Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, and Bobby Charles, “Before I Grow Too Old” made its debut as a 1960 Fats B-side. In 1968, McClain resurrected the song and transformed it into a Swamp Pop gem. While Fats uses the horn charts as an instrumental break, McClain puts them front and center with that slinky guitar part, all of which is in support of his double-tracked vocals in the full blossom of their teenage swoon glory. If you want to teach someone about tone, everything here sounds just about perfect.
Kendrick Lamar — “Alright”:
Everything is coming up Kendrick lately, and with artistic vision and talent like this, it’s for good reason.
Roger Miller, early RCA singles:
Though Roger Miller’s contemporaries thought he might be crazy, they nearly all agreed he exhibited genius. These two collections of early 1960s RCA Victor singles epitomize how Miller’s unique songwriting, vocal virtuosity, and zaniness transcended the straitjacket Nashville sound. History still doesn’t seem to know what to do with him, and Roger Miller may still be country music’s best-kept secret.