2018 came to a close with a rash of celebrity music releases 

Thanks to the workings of fate and record industry accountants, 2018 came to a close with a rash of celebrity music releases, with The Boss’ Springsteen on Broadway (Columbia) eclipsing all others. The double CD and Netflix film hew to the formula of Springsteen’s recently closed Broadway residency, overflowing with apparent warmth, covering songs from more than four decades. Nevertheless, the site NJ.com’s scathing assessment legitimately asked whether the show’s high prices and formalist structure betrayed Springsteen’s adherence to working-class values.

More informal fun might be had by cranking up Dennis Quaid & The Sharks’ Out of the Box (Omnivore), a Farfisa-heavy mix of originals and covers (including a top-notch “L.A. Woman”) that offer the most playful Hollywood outing since Johnny Depp jammed with Gibby Haynes. The intensity is equaled by Get Your Shit Together (Big Legal Mess) from Hunt Sales Memorial. Sales, the son of Soupy Sales and former session drummer for Iggy Pop and Tin Machine, combines gritty rock and sarcastic country-rock on a dozen hard-hitting tracks. It would be nice to say the same of Jeff Goldblum’s The Capitol Studio Sessions (Decca), which features exquisite delivery on Goldblum’s part — but piano-driven vocal jazz seemed tired 50 years ago, and hasn’t improved with age.

The 1975 also belong in the celebrity list, since lead singer Matthew Healy’s histrionic delivery often seems a Broadway parody. The band is unusually restrained on the new A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships (Dirty Hit/Interscope), which offers 15 stark and often minimalist observations like “Surrounded by Heads and Bodies.” If the album has a limitation, it’s the mix of autotune and extended silences that place distance between Healy and the listener. Still, not all celebrities can be Bruce Springsteen, or even Bradley Cooper.


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