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DJ Supply

Title - 'High Times in the Dark'
Artist - The Claudettes

For those not in the know, The Claudettes fuse Windy City piano blues with the full-throttle energy of rockabilly and punk, jazz-age echoes of burlesque and vaudeville and the sultriness of '60s pop-soul to write a thrilling new chapter in American roots music.

Johnny Iguana (ex-Junior Wells/Otis Rush) works the piano alongside singer Berit Ulseth, bassist/singer Zach Verdoorn and co-founder drummer Michael Caskey and together, The Claudettes probe both personal and national moods on their brand new album, High Times in the Dark (a follow up to the band's acclaimed Dance Scandal at the Gymnasium! in 2018), out April 3rd, 2020 via Forty Below Records.

1. 'Bad Babe, Losin' Touch'
2. '24/5'
3. 'I Swear to God, I Will'
4. 'Creeper Weed'
5. 'Grandkids, Wave Good-Bye'
6. 'One Special Bottle'
7. 'Declined'
8. 'I Don't Do That Stuff Anymore'
9. 'Most Accidents Happen'
10. 'You Drummers Keep Breaking My Heart'
11. 'The Sun Will Fool You'

Produced by Grammy winner Ted Hutt (Violent Femmes, Old Crow Medicine Machine), this richly atmospheric album kicks off in some fine style with the silky smooth R&B soul of 'Bad Babe, Losin' Touch' which is backed by an upturn in rhythm on the piano-led beauty '24/5,' the slink and shuffle of 'I Swear to God, I Will,' and then the lo-fi punk groove of 'Creeper Weed.'

The finger-snappin' hipsway of the shameless contempt for the poor 'Grandkids, Wave Good-Bye' is most definitely another highlight on this new album and that's followed by the mid-tempo swirling bourbon blues of 'One Special Bottle.'

The funky piano backbeat to what I assume to be the lead single, 'Declined' is a sparkling gem of a musical jewel here and that's backed by the laid back, tender vibe of the duet 'I Don't Do That Stuff Anymore.'

The album then rounds out with the vintage drum and bass swing of the media-driven fear-mongering 'Most Accidents Happen,' the sweet storytelling of 'You Drummers Keep Breaking My Heart,' and then rounds out with Ulseth showcasing her wonderful vocals in a most hauntingly, almost crystalline manner on the heartbreak piano ballad 'The Sun Will Fool You.'

The Claudettes @ Facebook

Title - 'Holster Your Silver'
Artist - Brian Johannesen

For those not in the know, it's been a rough year for Chicago, Ill. native Brian Johannesen.

The same week he closed on his first house in Iowa City, IA, his mother-in-law went onto life support. Although she pulled through, her health steadily declined over the following months, leading to endless doctor appointments, hospital stays, rehab stints, and several months living with Brian and his wife.

All the while, Brian was trying to finish his second full-length solo album, the quite stunning Holster Your Silver. Sadly, last April, she passed away in that home where Brian's new music was to be heard coming to fruition.

Describing his music as “Midwestern, rustic, road-worn, introspective and restless,” if his late mother-in-law were to have heard any of the nine tracks in progress, she must assuredly have been smiling, for each track is embraced by a midwestern passion for all-things life, loved and lost.

Indeed, whilst some of the songs were written before any of this happened, they took on new meaning as he watched a loved one passing. Ergo, the album inherited a haunting tone, dealing with personal issues like anxiety, loss and a struggle to come to terms with an increasingly unjust political climate.

Furthermore, these themes manifested themselves in an honest, lyric-forward collection of songs that offers a glimpse into the mind of a songwriter coming to grips with the real word.

1. 'Somewhere Down The Line'
2. 'Copper Queen'
3. 'Tired (Last Time I Saw Her)'
4. 'Way Back Down There'
5. 'If I Thought That I Could Win'
6. 'Music Business Blues Breakdown'
7. 'Damn These Saints'
8. 'Fremont'
9. 'Holster Your Silver'

Sounding like an old school, mid-60s country album (much in the same vein as a Johnny Cash) combined with Springsteen's 'River' era, but now edged and driven forward by a modern day country vocal, Holster Your Silver (due out January 31st, 2020) is, without a shadow of a doubt, an album that doesn't beg to be heard, but moreover commands you unadulterated attention early on.

A troubadour himself, Johannesen's Americana music is firmly rooted the Midwest, albeit collecting tidbits of life from Iowa City by way of Nashville, of course.

Drawing inspiration from his heroes like John Prine, Guy Clark and the aforementioned Bruce Springsteen, he writes about everyday life with sincerity and sometimes even applies a little tongue in cheek notation.

Stand out tracks for me songs such as the captivatingly wearisome 'If I Thought That I Could Win,' the upbeat, anthemic hoedown vibe of 'Music Business Blues Breakdown,' and the title track, a most glorious ballad about unwavering whilst healing brings the album to a close.

With Holster Your Silver, which was produced by Ryan Joseph Anderson and recorded by Luke Tweedy at Flat Black Studios), Johannesen takes a mighty fine step forward, leaning into a craft he has worked at for over a decade.

The result is a songwriter finding his own voice that is powerful, delicate, artful, and accessible all at the very same time.

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'October Comes Too Soon'
Artist - Gina Kronstadt

For those not in the know, jazz singer-songwriter Gina Kronstadt was in a vulnerable head space not too long ago. Saddled with the physical challenge of an eight-month recovery from multiple shoulder surgeries that could have spelled the end of her 43-year career as a first-call violinist, Kronstadt turned to writing as therapy.

This not only provided a much needed creative outlet after feeling stifled by not being able to play her beloved instrument for so long, but opening up her heart in such a way enabled her to write a new collection of intimate vignettes that give voice to some of her own relationships and romantic experiences.

Thus her brand new third album, entitled October Comes Too Soon is due out on March 20th, 2020 via Falloff Records.

1. 'A Simple Man'
2. 'IRL'
3. 'The Threat of Love'
4. 'Forever In A Row'
5. 'October Comes Too Soon'
6. 'Love Game'
7. 'Maybe I Trusted'
8. 'Who'll Save You?'

Simply put, October Comes Too Soon is a rather luscious 8-song collection of songs that largely find Gina musing on the nexus between what makes great friendships work between men and women, and the x-factor that looms over the possibilities for the deeper intimacy of love.

Opening with the smooth jazz crossover wonderment of 'A Simple Man' (which extolls the fundamental gentleman qualities that once set her heart ablaze), tracks that follow, such as the sultry 'The Threat of Love' (a confessional about a seductive man who possesses intoxicating allure), and the airy Latin-tinged 'Forever in a Row' (inspired by a friend’s phrase that poetically extends the virtues of true-blue-pal-dome into something beyond infinity), all come together to help form a collection that, as a live set, would soothe any burdened soul.

Add to that tracks such as my immediate go-to favorite here, the '80s synth-framed, funky horn jam of 'Love Game' and the hauntingly romantic 'Maybe I Trusted' (which also features a magnificent solo on clarinet by Bob Sheppard (Chick Corea), and you should by now have gotten the picture.

"Every song I've created comes out after being inspired and then I literally have no choice but to let the music out," Gina explains.

"If I'm not moved by something or someone, there are no songs. This record is no different. It's my personal therapy, and I felt such focus and love while creating it."

Gina Kronstadt @ Facebook

Title - 'Instant In Time'
Artist - Paige Cora

For those not in the know, singer-songwriter Paige Cora is set to release her debut album, Instant in Time, on January 24th, 2020.

Written and produced by the Ft. Erie, Ontario-based artist herself, engineered and mixed by Jae Daniel, and mastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London by Christian Wright (Ed Sheeran, Franz Ferdinand), Instant in Time showcases an exceedingly confident performer defining her voice whilst also serving as both a bold manifesto and, of course, introduction.

1. 'Bicycle Bells'
2. 'Stray Balloons'
3. 'The Good Side of Desire'
4. 'Instant In Time'
5. 'Facing The Grass'
6. 'Long Goodbye'
7. 'Echoes'
8. 'Rafa's Theme'
9. 'Forest Pine'

The album opens with the orchestrally heartfelt and sanguine 'Bicycle Bells,' a track that chronicles a tragic event that occurred in a Toronto public park, and its purposely hopeful aftermath.

Next up is the aching retreat of 'Stray Balloons' which is backed seamlessly by the guitar-led beauty 'The Good Side of Desire.' The free flowing, hipsway fun of the title track is itself followed by the dream-like acquiescence of 'Facing The Grass.'

The piano-led storytelling of remembrance within the aching 'Long Goodbye' makes this one of my own personal favorites and definitely brings forth Cora's vocals range perfectly and that's backed by a change of pace in the light and breezy, gentle foot-tappin gem 'Echoes.'

This quite brilliant, and deeply cultured debut album then rounds out with the 25 second piano mastery of 'Rafa's Theme' and then comes to a close with the atmospherically unconstrained, gently pure synth offering, 'Forest Pine.'

Cora, who grew up surrounded by music and with a musician father, started out in musical theater, performing arts camp, and acting lessons.

In high school, she started a band with some classmates, which went on, eventually, to become the art-rock, avant-pop, Toronto-based band The Ruby Spirit.<. As lead singer, she channeled her inner grunge-glam rocker with elaborate stage clothes like something out of “Ziggy Stardust” meets “Cabaret.”

Her time with the band, which lasted from her teens to her mid-20s, was marked by success and press praise in Canada as well as touring both north and south of the border.

"Everything I do musically fuels one of my main goals in life, which is to one day expand our own farm and have more animals there,"Cora explains. "That's one of the determining factors - the 'why' behind the art."

"There's always the artist's goal of, 'I'm an artist, and I need to create.' But I feel animals give me this other momentum. They drive this other energy that serves me really well. It keeps me inspired."

Paige Cora @ Facebook

Title - 'Jesus of Sad' [EP]
Artist - Salim Nourallah

For those not in the know, celebrated Texas singer/songwriter/producerSalim Nourallah has been releasing solo albums since 2003 with his seventh, the 21-song, double album, Somewhere South of Sane, having been released in the fall of 2018.

With some notable production credits including the Old 97’s, Deathray Davies, Rhett Miller, and The Damnwells, Nourallah has been recording and producing music from his Pleasantry Lane Studios in Dallas for as many years as he’s been making his own.

He’s also in a supergroup trio called NHD – Nourallah, Harvey, Dezen. The H in NHD, Billy Harvey, is another accomplished songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist cut from the same cloth as Mr. Lowe and Mr. Nourallah.

Indeed, Salim also enlisted Billy’s help last year to record the four songs that make up his forthcoming Jesus of Sad EP, due out February 7th, 2020 via Palo Santo Records.

1. 'Jesus of Sad'
2. 'Born with a Broken Heart'
3. 'This Doesn't Feel Like Peace, Love or Understanding'
4. 'Misanthrope'
5. 'Misanthrope' (piano version)

This tremendous, achingly poignant and highly observant new EP opens with the gently melodic hipsway of the title track (itself a wry nod to Nick Lowe’s debut record), with the tender finger-snappin' genial funk of 'Born with a Broken Heart' comes along next.

The mid-tempo, mid-'70s flashback cut 'This Doesn't Feel Like Peace, Love or Understanding' is my own personal stand out cut here. An energetic, yet controlled piece, it complete with some fuzzy guitar work it's, simply put, a musical gem of the highest order.

The album then comes to a close with two versions of the same some, 'Misanthrope.' Originally written with Rhett Miller, Salim's own version here still features a lot of his own personal experiences, it's just less alt-country now and more, well, as the second version is aptly subtitled, piano-based.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Salim Nourallah tour dates (* denotes date with Rhett Miller)

Jan 31 – Dallas, TX / YAM
Feb 4 – Rochester, NY / Abilene Bar & Lounge*
Feb 5 – Toronto, ON / Horseshoe Tavern*
Feb 6 – Buffalo, NY / The 9th Ward*
Feb 7 – Shirley, MA / Bull Run*
Feb 8 – South Salem, NY / The Heights*
Feb 9 – Washington, DC / Black Cat*

Title - 'Special EFX Allstars'
Artist - Special EFX

For those not in the know, three and a half decades after releasing Special EFX’s self-titled debut album, multi-faceted composer/guitarist Chieli Minucci is still blazing innovative trails in contemporary jazz.

Continuously finding that musical sweet spot between in the pocket, radio ready pop/soul/funk and progressive, freewheeling world fusion, he actually launched a fresh chapter in the ever-evolving, Grammy nominated group’s career with the release of their 2017 Trippin 'N' Rhythm debut Deep As The Night.

Special EFX featuring Chieli Minucci’s latest album, the intriguingly titled All Stars (due out this February 14th, 2020 via Trippin 'N' Rhythm) is one of their most ambitious, eclectic and adventurous ever.

Capturing the explosive, yet well-attuned synergy the guitarist has shared on the road with various lineups of renowned longtime musical collaborators these past few years, the gloriously well rounded 14-track album is already an Album of the Year contender for me.

1, 'Mr. Marzipan'
2. 'Sunset Passion Juice'
3. 'Hanky Panky Boys'
4. 'Little Wing'
5. 'Empathy'
6. 'Two Dancing'
7. 'Arise'
8. 'Wake Up'
9. 'Sweet Memories of You'
10. 'Kampala'
11. 'Great Escape' (Part 1)
12. 'Great Escape' (Part 2)
13. 'Flows Like Water'
14. 'One Stick and A Stone'

Listening to his sumptuous new album and it is clearly evident that Special EFX now is a true collective, with varying elements and artists coming together to execute and build powerfully upon Minucci’s expansive musical vision.

Opening with the stuttered funk, and trumpet/flugelhorn work of Tatum Greenblatt on 'Mr. Marzipan,' they then quieten the tone for the smooth 'Sunset Passion Juice,' before bringing us a delightful mid-tempo slide into 'Hanky Panky Boys,' and then comes the drum and guitar-led 'Little Wing.'

A complete ground up re-imagining of the Jimi Hendrix classic, it also features jazz/R&B singer Maysa Leak on vocals.

The laidback groove of 'Empathy' (which features Lao Tizer on acoustic grand piano) is then backed by the perky Celtic ambiance (brought forth by Nelson Rangell on flute) of 'Two Dancing,' the tender and cultivated sounds of Antoine Silverman on the violin for the all-too short 'Arise,' the funky hipsway of 'Wake Up,' and then the delicate nylon electric guitar work of Chieli Minucci comes to the fore on the simply divine 'Sweet Memories of You.'

This quite breathtakingly sublime album then comes to a close with the frenetically restrained 'Kampala,' the two-part 'Great Escape,' and then rounds out with the staggered spirit of 'Flows Like Water' (featuring sax work from David Mann), and then my own personal favorite, the atmospheric 'One Stick and A Stone' (featuring Steve Adelson on the Chapman Stick).

Composed, produced, arranged by Minucci, the new album captures the current eclectic, yet cohesive group dynamic with a multitude of colorful styles, from big brass funk and smooth jazz to powerhouse rock/soul.

Although Minucci’s acoustic and electric guitars (and his occasional keyboards, organ and colorful beats) are prominently featured throughout, All Stars (true to its title) is fashioned as a diverse ensemble in the spirit of classic fusion outfits.

For, and much like Return to Forever and Weather Report, here we discover that not only does every player get ample time in the spotlight, but it's obvious that some songs are actually written as exclusive showcases for them too.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Trippin 'N' Rhythm Records @ Facebook

Title - 'Heart First: Deluxe Edition' [2CD]
Artist - Hazell Dean

For those not in the know, Hazell Dean is an English dance-pop singer, who achieved her biggest success in the 1980s as a leading Hi-NRG artist.

Indeed, she is best known for the top ten hits in the United Kingdom 'Searchin' (I Gotta Find a Man)', 'Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)' and 'Who's Leaving Who,' and has also worked as a songwriter and producer.

Furthermore, this doyenne of the dance floor for over four decades is also the pivotal artist who gave Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW) their first Top Ten smash with the cutting-edge Hi-NRG sound of the aforementioned ‘Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)’ – thereby paving the way for their hits with Dead Or Alive, Bananarama, Kylie and countless others.

Cherry Pop / Chery Red Records (UK) is about to release a brand new double CD Deluxe Edition of Heart First, the classic 1984 debut album from perennial pop icon and dance floor diva, Hazell Dean.

This first album project for legendary production and songwriting powerhouse Stock Aitken Waterman, Heart First features the classic hits ‘Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)’ (UK #4), ‘Back in My Arms (Once Again)’ and ‘No Fool (For Love)’ (both UK #41) alongside the previous signature smash ‘Searchin’’ (UK #6), a collaboration with another mainstay of the Hi-NRG scene, Ian Anthony Stephens.

Given a sparkling new remaster from the original analogue tapes, this definitive edition of the album also features extensive bonus material.

Included here is a comprehensive collection of sought-after full-length mixes of all the singles, several of them long out-of-print or previously unissued on CD.

Indeed, and at Hazell’s own request, the standout title track 'Heart First' has been remixed for 2020 by acclaimed producer Matt Pop. Using the original 1984 multi track parts, this fabulous new version of a long-time fan favorite is made available exclusively on this release.

Hazell’s very first Top 75 success came in early 1984 with the double A-side single release of her sterling dance floor interpretation of the Barbra Streisand classic ‘Evergreen’, together with one of her own compositions, ‘Jealous Love’ (of which both 7” and extended 12” versions of each track feature here).

Hazell’s self-penned 1984 Song for Europe entry ‘Stay in My Life’ (intended for single release, but eclipsed by the runaway success and eventual reissue of ‘Searchin’’) is also included, alongside the B-sides ‘Young Boy In The City’ and ‘Take Me Home’.

CD 1:
1. 'Back in My Arms (Once Again)'
2. 'Searchin''
3. 'Break the Rules'
4. 'Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)'
5. 'You're Too Good to Be True'
6. 'Back in My Arms (Once Again)' [Reprise]
7. 'Heart First'
8. 'No Fool (For Love)'
9. 'Harmony'
10. 'Devil in You'
11. 'Everything I Need'
12. 'Evergreen'
13. 'Jealous Love'
14. 'Stay in My Life'
15. 'Young Boy in the City'
16. 'Take Me Home'
17. 'No Fool (For Love)' [7" Mix]
18. 'You're Too Good to Be True' [Extra Beat Boys Remix]
19. 'Searchin'' [12" Version]
20. 'Evergreen' [Extended Version]

In truth, this entire album (let alone the second disc of remixes and such) perfectly reflects the true quality of the year 1984 in the UK dance scene.

As all us British fans who enjoyed the '80s for all they were worth know all too well, all SAW tracks are thumping dance tunes and this collection does not disappoint.

I mean, from the off we get the fantastic quartet of 'Back in My Arms (Once Again),' 'Searchin' (I Gotta Find a Man),' 'Break the Rules' and the always-fantastic to hear 'Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go),' which are all, and still today, some of the best examples of '80s Hi-NRG pop.

Sure Hazell hit it big with the club hit 'Searchin'' but other songs sparkle here like the anthemic 'Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go),' the title track (with a great chorus) 'Heart First,' and the beautiful 'Harmony' (with its thoughtful lyrics and soaring vocals).

Straight down the line the entire original album, inclusive of the reworked for 2020 title track, means that '80s Hi-NRG dance music is Back - and well worth revisiting!

CD 2:
1. 'Heart First' [Matt Pop Club Mix]
2. 'Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)' [Dance Mix]
3. 'Back in My Arms (Once Again)' [Dance Mix]
4. 'No Fool (For Love)' [Dance Version]
5. 'Jealous Love' [Extended Version]
6. 'Searchin'' [Megamix]
7. 'Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)' [Extended Remix]
8. 'No Fool (For Love)' [The Murray Mix]
9. 'Searchin'' [Instrumental]
10. 'No Fool (For Love)' [Part Two Instrumental]
11. 'Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)' [Dub Mix]
12. 'No Fool (For Love)' [Dubajoker Mix]

Quite a lot of nice extended and remixed gems to be found here on the second disc, such as the 12" mix of 'Whatever I Do' (which over 8 minutes long and is an alternate mix), as compared to the original 12" single that runs close to 7 minutes (which can be found on her Greatest Hits CD).

One of the 12" versions of 'No Fool (For Love)' on here is the Dubajoker Mix), which also happens to be on the Greatest Hits CD, but it's still a great way to end the musical journey, that's for sure.

Sadly though, don't expect to find any lost Stock Aitken Waterman gems on here re: the original 7" single B-sides because, and in total honesty, none of them ever had the "classic" SAW sound anyway!

This Deluxe Edition also boasts a expanded 20-page booklet including an brand new track-by-track commentary from Hazell, an illustrated discography, additional photos and lyrics.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Hazell Dean @ Facebook

Title - 'Kim Wilde: Expanded Edition' [2CD/DVD]
Artist - Kim Wilde

For those not in the know, Kim Wilde became an overnight sensation back in 1981 courtesy of the worldwide success of her single ‘Kids In America’, which offered a very British twist on the new wave energy and glamour of Blondie.

In due course, Kim would enjoy numerous hits throughout the 1980s, first on RAK Records (with help from father Marty and brother Ricky) and then later on MCA (when she took up songwriting herself and toured with Michael Jackson and David Bowie).

On the back of Kim’s acclaimed recent studio set Here Come The Aliens (and companion live collection), her first three albums, namely Kim Wilde, Select and Catch As Catch Can are being treated to deluxe 2CD+DVD and vinyl reissues.

Collectively, this represents the entirety of her output for RAK.

Each album is being presented as a plush 2-CD plus DVD expanded gatefold wallet boasting a raft of previously unissued tracks and new remixes, as well as new colored vinyl editions.

All of the tracks have been remastered from fresh transfers of the original analogue tapes.

All of the new and previously unheard material has been given the blessing of Kim herself. Additionally, each package includes lyrics, rare photos and memorabilia plus new sleeve notes written by Kim Wilde expert Marcel Rijs.

Kim’s self-titled debut album reached #3 in the UK charts when originally issued in 1981, fueled by the hit singles ‘Kids In America’ (UK #2, Australia #3, USA #25, etc.), ‘Chequered Love’ (UK #4, Australia #9), and ‘Water On Glass’ (UK #11).

Also included are a host of brand new ‘19:81’ remixes (which is a rather great way of naming them, if you ask me).

Interestingly enough, none of the singles from this album were ever originally issued as 12” mixes but, exclusively for this release, new mixes of ‘Kids In America’, ‘Chequered Love’ and ‘Water On Glass’ have been created from the original multi track reels.

These include faithful 80s-style extended versions and more radical reinterpretations of these classic hits.

The bonus DVD includes promo videos for ‘Kids In America’ and ‘Chequered Love’ (plus a previously unedited “shower” version, which had survived since 1981 only on a VHS tape in Kim’s own collection), and four performances from Top Of The Pops.

Disc 1: Kim Wilde
1. 'Water on Glass'
2. 'Our Town'
3. 'Everything We Know'
4. 'Young Heroes'
5. 'Kids in America'
6. 'Chequered Love'
7. '2-6-5-8-0'
8. 'You'll Never Be So Wrong'
9. 'Falling Out'
10. 'Tuning in Tuning on'
11. 'Shane'
12. 'Boys'
13. 'Water on Glass' [7" Version]
14. 'Tuning In Tuning On' [7" Version]

As those trickling, tinkly sounds emerge of 'Water on Glass' and are suddenly met by drums and then guitars (and later dynamite synth work), the song is instantly recognizable to all us Wilde fans. The foot-tappin' beauty is a massive fan-favorite and is just the most perfect way to kick off the album.

The ominous at first and then youthfully (dis)passionate 'Our Town' is a beauty and is backed by the funky guitar and slap bass of the smooth hipsway of 'Everything We Know,' the anthemic, fist-punching 'Young Heroes,' and the now iconic UK Singles Chart hits 'Kids in America' and the pulsating 'Chequered Love.'

The perky pop-flow, horn bounce of '2-6-5-8-0' has always been one of my favorite album tracks and for my money should have been a single too and that's followed by the mysterious storytelling of 'You'll Never Be So Wrong' and then the guitar-led 'Falling Out.'

This newly expanded edition then brings us a nice touch in three bonus tracks that were the original 7" single B-sides. The first is the moody, spacy synth of 'Tuning In Tuning On,' the young girl yearnings of 'Shane,' and then the frenetic synth work of 'Boys.'

This version then rounds out with 7" versions of both 'Water on Glass' and 'Tuning In Tuning On' (that sound no different to the album versions, in truth).

Disc 2: Kim Wilde: The 19:81 Mixes
1. 'Kids in America' [Luke Mornay Remix]*
2. 'Chequered Love' [Matt Pop Extended Version]*
3. 'Water on Glass' [Eddie Said & Luke Nutley Extended Version]*
4. 'Kids in America' [Popfidelity Allstars Remix]*
5. 'Chequered Love' [Matt Pop Alternative Mix]*
6. 'Water on Glass' [Project K: Project Kim]*
7. 'Kids in America' [Neutrophic Remix]*
8. 'Kids in America' [D-Bop's Bright Lights Mix]
9. 'Kids in America' [Popfidelity Allstars Instrumental]
10. 'Chequered Love' [Matt Pop Instrumental]*
11. 'Water on Glass' [Eddie Said & Luke Nutley Instrumental]*
12. 'Kids in America' [Luke Mornay Instrumental]*

* Exclusive new remixes for 2020!

As for this second disc of remixes, well, being a diehard fan I can accept them with open arms, but if you were only a passing fan of Kim's down the years, and moreover maybe just one of the '80s and early '90s, in general, the repetitive thumping beats and digitally zapped enhancements will most likely be too much for you.

Disc 3: Kim Wilde: The Videos
1. 'Kids in America'
2. 'Chequered Love'

Disc 3: Kim Wilde: Kim At The BBC Videos
3. 'Kids in America' [On Top of the Pops]
4. 'Chequered Love' [On Top of the Pops]
5. 'Water on Glass' [On Top of the Pops]
6. 'Kids in America' [On Top of the Pops: TOTP's Christmas Party]
7. 'Chequered Love' [Unedited 'Shower Version']+ Bonus Footage

+ Previously unreleased!

Kim Wilde remains a perennial icon of British pop with an adoring global fanbase and next year she will continue to enjoy a high profile as she embarks on her lengthy 2020 The Greatest Hits Tour!

Official 2CD/DVD Purchase Link

Kim Wilde @ Facebook

Title - 'Select: Expanded Edition' [2CD/DVD]
Artist - Kim Wilde

For those not in the know, Kim Wilde became an overnight sensation back in 1981 courtesy of the worldwide success of her single ‘Kids In America’, which offered a very British twist on the new wave energy and glamour of Blondie.

In due course, Kim would enjoy numerous hits throughout the 1980s, first on RAK Records (with help from father Marty and brother Ricky) and then later on MCA (when she took up songwriting herself and toured with Michael Jackson and David Bowie).

On the back of Kim’s acclaimed recent studio set Here Come The Aliens (and companion live collection), her first three albums, namely Kim Wilde, Select and Catch As Catch Can are being treated to deluxe 2CD+DVD and vinyl reissues.

Collectively, this represents the entirety of her output for RAK.

Each album is being presented as a plush 2-CD plus DVD expanded gatefold wallet boasting a raft of previously unissued tracks and new remixes, as well as new colored vinyl editions.

All of the tracks have been remastered from fresh transfers of the original analogue tapes.

All of the new and previously unheard material has been given the blessing of Kim herself. Additionally, each package includes lyrics, rare photos and memorabilia plus new sleeve notes written by Kim Wilde expert Marcel Rijs.

Kim’s second album Select was a UK Top 20 hit when originally released in 1982. It includes the hit singles ‘Cambodia’ (UK #12, Australia #2) and ‘View From A Bridge’ (UK #16, Australia #2).

Bonus tracks include the previously unreleased out-take ‘He Will Be There’, the non-album single ‘Child Come Away’ (UK #43), the Japanese single ‘Bitter Is Better,’ and two B-sides (‘Watching For Shapes’ and ‘Just Another Guy’).

Also included are a host of brand new ‘19:82’ remixes, which are rather well titled, if I say so myself.

Interestingly enough, none of the singles from Select were ever originally issued as 12” mixes but, exclusively for this release, new mixes of ‘Cambodia’, ‘View From A Bridge’ and ‘Child Come Away’ have been created from the original multi track reels.

These include faithful 80s-style extended versions and more radical reinterpretations of these classic hits.

The bonus DVD includes promo videos for ‘Cambodia’, ‘View From A Bridge’ and ‘Child Come Away’, plus two performances from Top Of The Pops and one on the BBC’s Nationwide Special: The British Rock & Pop Awards.

Disc 1: Select
1. 'Ego'
2. 'Words Fell Down'
3. 'Action City'
4. 'View from a Bridge'
5. 'Just a Feeling'
6. 'Chaos at the Airport'
7. 'Take Me Tonight'
8. 'Can You Come Over'
9. 'Wendy Sadd'
10. 'Cambodia-Reprise'

Disc 1: Select: Bonus Tracks
11. 'Child Come Away'
12. 'Bitter Is Better'
13. 'He Will Be There'+
14. 'Watching for Shapes'
15. 'Just Another Guy'
16. 'Bitter Is Better' [Instrumental]+

+ Previously unreleased

We begin with the fast synth explosion 'Ego' which is backed seamlessly by the adamant angst of 'Words Fell Down,' the pacey guitar synth, poptastic brilliance of 'Action City,' the atmospheric hit single 'View from a Bridge,' and then the swirling 'Just a Feeling.'

The frenetic poplicious chords of 'Chaos at the Airport' has always been my favorite non-single track off the album, and one that I have always wished had been a single with a great video, and that's followed by the lush synth waves of 'Take Me Tonight.'

The old-fashioned swing-formatted love song 'Can You Come Over' is next and then the original album rounds out with the smooth 'Wendy Sadd,' and then the foot-tappin' storytelling brilliance of the hit single 'Cambodia-Reprise' (and then a rather rad 'Reprise' version too).

Added as bonus tracks on this first disc we then get the non-album single 'Child Come Away' (which until today I didn't even know was a thing), the Japan-exclusive rarity 'Bitter Is Better' (an advertisement for the B&L Bitter Lemon company), and then the previously unreleased pop ditty 'He Will Be There.'

This expanded first disc then rounds out with he guitar-pop of 'Watching for Shapes,' the pacey pop bounce of 'Just Another Guy,' and then an instrumental version of 'Bitter Is Better.'

Disc 2: Select: Session Selections
1. 'Ego [Rough Mix]+ 2. 'Words Fell Down [Original Mix]+ 3. 'Action City [Instrumental Demo]+ 4. 'Just a Feeling[Rough Mix]+ 5. 'Chaos at the Airport [Rough Mix]+ 6. 'Take Me Tonight [Original Mix]+

Disc 2: Select: The 19:82 Mixes
7. 'Cambodia' [Matt Pop Extended Version]*
8. 'View from a Bridge' [Luke Mornay Remix]*
9. 'Child Come Away' [Matt Pop Remix]*
10. 'Cambodia' [Luke Mornay Urbantronik Mix]*
11. 'View from a Bridge' [Raw Remix]
12. 'Child Come Away' [Matt Pop Instrumental]*
13. 'Cambodia' [Matt Pop Instrumental]*
14. 'View from a Bridge' [Luke Mornay Instrumental]*
15. 'Cambodia' [Luke Mornay Urbantronik Instrumental]*

+ Previously unreleased
* Exclusive new remixes for 2020

As for this second disc of remixes, the first six tracks are rough versions and demos of what the songs would eventually become. In truth, save for some quieter moments where synth or guitar would eventually fill it, they aren't overly exciting, sadly.

That said, the stand out highlight is an accelerated 'Action City (Instrumental Demo)' that simply rocks the whole non-vocal genre from back in the day, that's for damn sure!

The remaining nine tracks are now termed as 19:82 mixes and actually only feature three (3) tracks - 'Cambodia,' 'View from a Bridge,' and Child Come Away - that have all been given x3 new leases of remixed life (inclusive of four instrumentals).

The best of these is the 100% brilliant, and so stand out it hurts, reggae-esque hipsway of 'View from a Bridge (Luke Mornay Remix).' Wow, what a quite excellent remix and also too the last cut, 'Cambodia' (Luke Mornay Urbantronik Instrumental)', which is a brand new, and relatively smooth bass beater.

So, well, being a diehard fan I can accept them with open arms, but if you were only a passing fan of Kim's down the years, and moreover maybe just one of the '80s and early '90s, in general, the repetitive thumping beats, digitally zapped enhancement moments, and the aforementioned instrumentals will most likely be too much for you.

Disc 3: Select: The Videos
1. 'Cambodia'
2. 'View from a Bridge'
3. 'Child Come Away'

Disc 3: Select: Kim At The BBC Videos
4. 'Cambodia' [On Top of the Pops]
5. 'View from a Bridge' [On Top of the Pops]
6. 'View from a Bridge' [On Nationwide Special: The British Rock & Pop Awards]

Kim Wilde remains a perennial icon of British pop with an adoring global fanbase and next year she will continue to enjoy a high profile as she embarks on her lengthy 2020 The Greatest Hits Tour!

Official 2CD/DVD Purchase Link

Kim Wilde @ Facebook

Title - 'Catch As Catch Can: Expanded Edition' [2CD/DVD]
Artist - Kim Wilde

For those not in the know, Kim Wilde became an overnight sensation back in 1981 courtesy of the worldwide success of her single 'Kids In America,' which offered a very British twist on the new wave energy and glamour of Blondie.

In due course, Kim would enjoy numerous hits throughout the 1980s, first on RAK Records (with help from father Marty and brother Ricky) and then later on MCA (when she took up songwriting herself and toured with Michael Jackson and David Bowie).

On the back of Kim's acclaimed recent studio set Here Come The Aliens (and companion live collection), her first three albums, namely Kim Wilde, Select and Catch As Catch Can are being treated to deluxe 2CD+DVD and vinyl reissues.

Collectively, this represents the entirety of her output for RAK.

Each album is being presented as a plush 2-CD plus DVD expanded gatefold wallet boasting a raft of previously unissued tracks and new remixes, as well as new colored vinyl editions.

All of the tracks have been remastered from fresh transfers of the original analogue tapes.

All of the new and previously unheard material has been given the blessing of Kim herself. Additionally, each package includes lyrics, rare photos and memorabilia plus new sleeve notes written by Kim Wilde expert Marcel Rijs.

Kim’s third album, Catch As Catch Can was originally issued in autumn 1983 and includes the UK hit singles ‘Love Blonde’ (#23) and ‘Dancing In The Dark’ (#67).

The two singles from Catch As Catch Can were Kim’s first to be released in extended 12” vinyl mix form. In addition to those mixes by Ricky Wilde and Nile Rodgers, this release features two new ‘19:83’ mixes created from the original multi track reels.

These include a faithful, but refreshed Special Re-Mix of ‘Love Blonde’ and a more radical reinterpretation of the album standout ‘Can You Hear It’.

Bonus tracks include ‘Rain On’ (a previously unreleased out-take from the album sessions), the previously unheard original RAK Mix of ‘Dancing In The Dark’, the B-side ‘Back Street Driver’ and a Disconnect DJ-only extended edit of ‘Sparks’ plus a host of unreleased session out-takes.

The bonus DVD includes promo videos for ‘Love Blonde’ and ‘Dancing In The Dark’, plus two performances from Top Of The Pops and two more on the BBC shows Harty and Crackerjack, plus a 1984 TV commercial.

Disc 1: Catch As Catch Can
1. 'House of Salome 2. 'Back Street Joe 3. 'Stay Awhile 4. 'Love Blonde 5. 'Dream Sequence 6. 'Dancing in the Dark 7. 'Shoot to Disable 8. 'Can You Hear It 9. 'Sparks 10. 'Sing It Out for Love'

First up on this highly underrated album is 'House of Salome,' a pulsatingly sultry synth and sax track that is a wonderful way to showcase the older Kim and her vocals.

Next up is the pop one-two beats of 'Back Street Joe' (am album track I'd forgotten about a long time ago), and then the space haze love story 'Stay Awhile.'

With this third album, and as much as it kept largely to the electronic-heavy style of its predecessor, Kim departed from the formula every now and again to bring us some mature tracks. None more so than the stand out, finger-snappin, foot-tappin' pop brilliance of the jazzy 'Love Blonde.'

That's backed by the ethereal, at times trippy 'Dream Sequence' and then comes the second single from the album, 'Dancing in the Dark.' Penned by proven hitmaker Nicky Chinn ('Kiss You All Over' and 'Mickey') and Paul Gurvitz, the song is a throbbing synth beauty to listen to even today.

Bringing the original album to a close are the mysteriously hauntingly effective 'Shoot to Disable,' the mid-tempo twinkling ballad 'Can You Hear It,' and then the poptastic beats of 'Sparks' and the pop smoothness of 'Sing It Out for Love.'

Disc 1: Catch As Catch Can: Bonus Tracks
11. 'Rain On'+
12. 'Back Seat Driver'+
13. 'Love Blonde' [7" Version]
14. 'Dancing in the Dark' [RAK Mix]+
15. 'Can You Hear It' [7" Version]
16. 'Love Blonde' [Extended Version]
17. 'Dancing in the Dark' [Nile Rodgers Extended Version]
18. 'Dancing in the Dark' [Instrumental]
19. 'Dancing in the Dark' [Full Instrumental]+

+ Previously unreleased

The previously-unreleased, mid-tempo sway of the out-take cut ‘Rain On’ is lovely to hear now from those sessions, so too the B-side track ‘Back Street Driver.’

As for the others, they are all good, but as we get four (4) versions of 'Dancing in the Dark,' well, they become musical overkill very quickly. That said, the previously unheard original (and wonderfully funky) RAK Mix of that very same track is a great addition.

Disc 2: Catch As Catch Can: Sessions
1. 'House of Salome' [Rough Mix]+
2. 'Back Street Joe' [Original Mix]+
3. 'Stay Awhile' [Rough Mix]+
4. 'Dream Sequence' [Instrumental Demo]+
5. 'Dancing in the Dark' [Rough Mix]+
6. 'Shoot to Disable' [Rough Mix]+
7. 'Can You Hear It' [Rough Mix]+
8. 'Sparks' [Rough Mix]+
9. 'Sing It Out for Love' [Rough Mix]+
10. 'Sail On' [Original Version]+
11. 'Shoot to Disable' [Original Mix]+
12. 'House of Salome' [Instrumental]+
13. 'Dream Sequence' [In Reverse]+

Disc 2: Catch As Catch Can: The 19:83 Mixes
14. 'Love Blonde' [Popfidelity Allstars Special Re-Mix]*
15. 'Sparks' [Extended' [Edit]
16. 'Can You Hear It' [Project K: Project Kim]*
17. 'Love Blonde' [Popfidelity Allstars Instrumental]*

+ Previously unreleased
* Exclusive new remixes for 2020

As for this second disc of remixes, the first thirteen tracks are rough versions, demos and instrumentals born from what the songs would eventually become. In truth, save for some quieter moments where synth or guitar would eventually fill it, they aren't overly exciting, but I did quite like the saxy appeal of the previously-unreleased 'Stay Awhile' (Rough Mix) and the synth hipsway of 'Dream Sequence' (Instrumental Demo).

The remaining four tracks are now termed as 19:83 mixes and are great to hear in their newly-remixed and newly-imagined versions with the stand out for me being the trance-like approach to 'Can You Hear It' (Project K: Project Kim).

So, being a diehard fan I can accept them with open arms, but if you were only a passing fan of Kim's down the years, and moreover maybe just one of the '80s and early '90s, in general, the repetitive thumping beats, digitally zapped enhancement moments, and the aforementioned instrumentals will most likely be too much for you.

Disc 3: Catch As Catch Can: The Videos
1. 'Love Blonde'
2. 'Dancing in the Dark'

Disc 3: Catch As Catch Can: Kim At The BBC Videos
3. 'Love Blonde' [On Top of the Pops - 1st Performance]
4. 'Love Blonde' (On Top of the Pops - 2nd Performance]
5. 'Dancing in the Dark' [On Harty]
6. 'Dancing in the Dark' [On Crackerjack]
7. 'TV Ad'
8. 'The Very Best of Kim Wilde [1984 TV Advert] (Bonus Footage)

Kim Wilde remains a perennial icon of British pop with an adoring global fanbase and next year she will continue to enjoy a high profile as she embarks on her lengthy 2020 The Greatest Hits Tour!

Official 2CD/DVD Purchase Link

Kim Wilde @ Facebook

Title - 'Modern Music: Expanded & Remastered Edition'
Artist - Be-Bop Deluxe

For those not in the know, Be-Bop Deluxe were an English progressive rock band who achieved critical acclaim and moderate commercial success during the mid to late 1970s.

The band's sound emerged as a mixture of glam rock, prog rock and straightforward rock and roll, where science fiction imagery was common in the lyrics; along with the more traditional themes of love and the human condition.

Esoteric Recordings (via Cherry Red Records UK) have just released a newly remastered and expanded 2 CD edition of Modern Music, the legendary 1976 album by Be-Bop Deluxe.

Recorded in June and July 1976 at Abbey Road Studio Three, Modern Music was the fourth album by Be-Bop Deluxe and the second to feature the line-up of Bill Nelson (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Charles Tumahai (bass, vocals), Andy Clark (keyboards), and Simon Fox (drums).

Following on from the success and critical praise for the band’s previous album Sunburst Finish, the album was once more co-produced by Bill Nelson and John Leckie.

Much of the material appearing on the album was conceived by Bill Nelson whilst Be-Bop Deluxe were undertaking their first tour of the USA in March 1976.

The wonderful and expansive Modern Music “suite” which dominated the album was inspired by Bill’s experiences of America, the disillusionment with the US music business and a longing for home.

Beside the fine achievement of the suite, Modern Music also featured other fine songs such as 'Orphans of Babylon,' 'Kiss of Light,' 'The Bird Charmers Destiny,' and the epic 'Down on Terminal Street,' all of which ensured that the album was a hit in both the UK and the USA.

This expanded reissue has been newly remastered from the original master tapes and features an additional 19 bonus tracks drawn from a stunning new stereo mix from the original multi-track tapes by award winning engineer Stephen W. Tayler.

It also features previously unreleased outtakes from the album sessions and a rare single B-side, 'Shine.'

CD 1:
1. 'Orphans of Babylon'
2. 'Twilight Capers'
3. 'Kiss of Light'
4. 'The Bird Charmers Destiny'
5. 'The Gold at the End of My Rainbow'
6. 'Bring Back the Spark'
7. 'Modern Music'
8. 'Dancing in the Moonlight (All Alone)'
9. 'Honeymoon on Mars'
10. 'Lost in the Neon World'
11. 'Dance of the Uncle Sam Humanoids'
12. 'Modern Music (Reprise)'
13. 'Forbidden Lovers'
14. 'Down on Terminal Street'
15. 'Make the Music Magic'
16. 'Shine' (B-Side of Single)

CD 2: (The New Stereo Mixes)
1. 'Orphans of Babylon'
2. 'Twilight Capers'
3. 'Kiss of Light'
4. 'The Bird Charmers Destiny'
5. 'The Gold at the End of My Rainbow'
6. 'Bring Back the Spark'
7. 'Modern Music'
8. 'Dancing in the Moonlight (All Alone)'
10. 'Honeymoon on Mars'
11. 'Lost in the Neon World'
12. 'Dance of the Uncle Sam Humanoids'
13. 'Modern Music (Reprise)'
14. 'Forbidden Lovers'
15. 'Down on Terminal Street'
16. 'Make the Music Magic'
17. 'Shine' [Bonus Track]
18. 'Forbidden Lovers (First Version)' [Bonus Track]
19. 'The Bird Charmer's Destiny (First Version)' [Bonus Track]

To my mind and ear, Modern Music is just filled to the brim with incredible melodic ideas that keep flowing like a wondrous spring of breathtaking musical brilliance throughout!

It's fine writing and musicianship keep this recording floating like a feather on sweetly scented winds and with ace guitarist Bill Nelson's (the Bop behind Be-Bop Deluxe) guitar transcending everything it comes within ear shot of, well, now having this wondrous expanded edition in my hand, life is great once more.

His miraculous tone, phrasing, fluid leads and expert rhythm playing embellish these songs with the joy of a man gifted well beyond most guitarists.

Furthermore, he gives you a listening experience that is seldom rivaled and although Modern Music is not a heavy album by any means, it definitely makes a huge impact on the listener ready to be enveloped by it's warm embrace.

Many Be-Bop Deluxe fans might say Sunburst Finish is their favorite Be-Bop Deluxe album and yes, sure, of course it's a right royal doozy, but then Live In The Air Age came out and many of those songs were on there and just amazingly done with even more energy!

So, for me, this album was the one that grabbed me and never let me go, even after all these years. Jumping rock subgenres like the beautiful ballad, 'Down On Terminal Street' to the funky fusion energy of 'Dance of the Uncle Sam Humanoids,' Modern Music is a whole greater than it's sum.

Filled with exotic shades and colors and enough down to earth simplistic beauty to give any listener years of enjoyment, simply put, Modern Music exemplifies perfectly the group's soaring space-age sound, and the sound of the era.

Oh, and this is an absolutely fabulous remastering of Be-Bop Deluxe’s studio masterpiece. For the album sounds as fresh and groundbreaking as when it was first released. Kudos, Esoteric and Cherry Red. Kudos.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - Mitch Ryder & Detroit Wheels: Sockin' It To You
Artist - Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels

For those not in the know, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels may well be the most underrated rock band in American music history.

Despite his string of influential mid-sixties chart hits and his undeniable influence over a string of late sixties and early seventies bands, he still remains inexplicably absent from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Since about 1975 onwards one of his biggest fans, Bruce Springsteen, has incorporated into his show a segment he calls “The Detroit Medley” based on two of Mitch’s biggest hits.

Amongst those bands who acknowledge how much they benefitted from Mitch Ryder’s breakout from the Detroit rock scene were The MC5, Alice Cooper and Bob Seger.

Until Mitch Ryder began to fill Detroit’s rock clubs to capacity the city’s musical contributions were dominated by Motown and Detroit’s soul singers both male and female took all of the accolades.

A local DJ brought him to the attention of Bob Crewe who was by 1966 one of the hottest producers in America responsible for a non-stop string of hits by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons since 1962.

Ryder’s first 45 tanked but the second ‘Jenny Take A Ride’ was a top ten smash and surprisingly his only British hit peaking at #33. This hit set the style for the bands career over the next three years and was a medley of Little Richard’s ‘Jenny, Jenny, Jenny’ and the R&B standard, ‘See, See Rider’.

Released on February 28th, 2020 via RPM Records / Cherry Red Records UK, Sockin It To You: Complete Dynovoice / New Voice Recordings features three CDs containing all five of their albums for Crewe plus all of the non-LP 45 releases; including one LP and several single sides making their CD debut.

Disc One features the albums Take A Ride -- which includes the single hit, ‘Jenny Take A Ride’ -- and Breakout -- which features the hit singles, ‘Devil with A Blue Dress’, ‘Little Latin Lupe Lu’ and ‘Breakout’.

CD 1: (Take A Ride, 1966)
1. 'Shake a Tail Feather'
2. 'Come See About Me'
3. 'Let Your Lovelight Shine / Turn on Your Lovelight'
4. 'Just a Little Bit'
5. 'I Hope'
6. 'Jenny Take a Ride'
7. 'Please, Please, Please'
8. 'I'll Go Crazy'
9. 'I Got You (I Feel Good)'
10. 'Sticks and Stones'
11. 'Bring It on Home to Me'
12. 'Baby Jane (Mo, Mo Jane)'

Being British, but having lived in the Detroit suburbs now for nearly 30 years, I can honestly say that I may never have seen Mitch Ryder or the Detroit Wheels live, but man have I been hearing about them a musical folklore ever since I arrived!

Released in the wake of their smash hit single 'Jenny Take a Ride,' the rest of the album mostly consists of cover versions of recent R&B hits of the time.

The two exceptions are 'I Hope' and 'Baby Jane' which were previously released as B-sides. 'I Hope' is a lovely little ditty of a ballad whilst 'Baby Jane' is actually a very enjoyable Dylanesque track.

As for those R&B covers, they aren't bad, but they really can't match up with the original versions. One big mistake they made here was playing three James Brown songs in a row. I mean, Mitch is a great singer, but attempting to cover James Brown is pure foolishness!

CD 1: (Breakout …!!!, 1966)
13. 'Devil with a Blue Dress on -Good Golly Miss Molly'
14. 'Walking the Dog'
15. 'I Had It Made'
16. 'In the Midnight Hour'
17. 'Oo Poo Pah Doo'
18. 'I Like It Like That'
19. 'Little Latin Lupe Lu'
20. 'You Get Your Kicks'
21. 'Shakin' with Linda'
22. 'Stubborn Kind of Fellow'
23. 'Any Day Now'
24. 'I Need Help'
25. 'Breakout'

So, simply put, if you like '60s R&B with exciting, stripped-down heartfelt music and vocals, Breakout was the album for you, my friends! Mitch Ryder's sophomore album, it contains the endlessly covered hit, 'Devil with a Blue Dress / Good Golly Miss Molly,' one of the greatest of the mid-'60s rockers if ever there was!

But this album is far from a one-hit wonder. It includes the band's excellent version of 'Little Latin Lupe Lu,' and nice versions of Marvin Gaye's 'Stubborn Kind of Fellow' and even Wilson Pickett's 'In the Midnight Hour.'

But my personal favorites are the ones that create a kind of frantic party atmosphere that was for me Mitch's signature sound and his raw, powerful vocals.

The title tune is a great example. There is a sense of excitement and desperation in the tune that is still irresistible so many years later. I also love 'Shakin' with Linda,' with its very fine guitar work, 'You Get Your Kicks,' and 'I Had It Made.'

Disc Two features the album Sock It to Me and the singles ‘Sock It to Me Baby’ and ‘Takin’ All I Can Get’. Next comes the album All Mitch Ryder Hits, a compilation set that featured one new track, a version of the Motown hit for The Marvelettes, ‘Too Many Fish in The Sea’ and the vintage novelty song, ‘Three Little Fishes’.

This was a marketing ploy very popular in the '60s to include one or two "new" recordings in greatest hits collections. Note that RPM Records have decided not to include the rest of the album as all of the tracks are already featured here over this expansive collection.

Disc Two ends with an album never before released on CD, Mitch Ryder Sings the Hits. This was a collection put together by Crewe after he had parted company with Ryder and features remixes and overdubs on a collection of songs released on previous albums and singles.

Some of the tracks are very different whilst others are presented in a more subtly modified form. Typically, Crewe also included two tracks that were previously unissued on LP: ‘Ruby Baby/Peaches On A Cherry Tree’ and a version of ‘You Are My Sunshine’.

CD 2: (Sock It To Me, 1967)
1. 'Sock It to Me - Baby 2. 'I Can't Hide It 3. 'Takin' All I Can Get 4. 'Slow Fizz (Instrumental) 5. 'Walk on By 6. 'I Never Had It Better 7. 'Shakedown 8. 'A Face in the Crowd 9. 'I'd Rather Go to Jail 10. 'Wild Child'

This was the third, and last, album by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Unlike their previous albums, which featured a lot of covers of recent R&B hits, this album consists almost entirely of original material (the exception being a cover of Dionne Warwick's hit 'Walk On By,' which was actually added to the album at the last minute).

The best known song here is the title hit, but there are a lot of other great songs like 'Takin' All I Can Get,' 'I Never Had It Better' and 'I'd Rather Go To Jail.'

In fact, the use of originals rather than covers makes this Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels best album, in my humble opinion.

CD 2: (All Mitch Ryder Hits, 29167)
11. 'Too Many Fish in the Sea - Three Little Fishes

Mitch Ryder truly impacted the way a lot of us listen to rock and soul music to this day. His two and a half to three minute anthems really molded the minds of those teens playing his music and going to his shows.

As aforementioned, these songs were the only "new" ones on his All Mitch Ryder Hits compilation and were his frenetic version of the Motown hit 'Too Many Fish in The Sea' (The Marvelettes), and a 30 second charge at the vintage novelty song (originally recorded by Kay Kyser and His Band), ‘Three Little Fishes.'

CD 2: (Mitch Ryder Sings The Hits, 1967)
12. 'Let Your Lovelight Shine / Turn on Your Lovelight'
13. 'Walking the Dog'
14. 'Sticks and Stones'
15. 'I Like It Like That'
16. 'Please, Please, Please'
17. 'Ruby Baby / Peaches on a Cherry Tree'
18. 'Come See About Me'
19. 'Walk on By'
20. 'Stubborn Kind of Fellow'
21. 'You Are My Sunshine'
22. 'I Got You'

Not a greatest hits record, but instead a collection by the unsung hero of Detroit rock 'n' roll and blue-eyed soul blowing through cover after cover, giving his own unique treatment to everyone from The Supremes to The Drifters and Allen Toussaint to Rufus Thomas.

This is no Pat Boone cleaned up for the refined upper middle class honky set, no sir, for this is rough and tough balls-to-the-wall R&B that rocks as hard (or indeed harder) than the originals with Ryder's signature guttural howl leading the way!

Disc Three completes the package with an album that was intended to launch a solo career and a collection of 45-only tracks several of which are making their CD debut.

The album features the hit single ‘What Now My Love’ and ‘Blessing in Disguise’, ‘One Grain of Sand’, ‘Lights of The Night’ and ‘Ring Your Bell’ make their first appearance on a CD.

The set is completed by, and I kid you not, a radio promo spot with Mitch telling teens how to keep their room tidy!

CD 3: (What Now My Love, 1967)
1. 'Let It Be Me'
2. 'I Make a Fool of Myself'
3. 'Born to Lose'
4. 'If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)'
5. 'What Now My Love'
6. 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' on'
7. 'Sally Go 'Round the Roses'
8. 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man'
9. 'I Need Lovin' You' History has it that four engineers and three recording studios helped producer Bob Crewe and arranger Hutch Davie create a concept album of sorts for singer Mitch Ryder on Crewe's Dynovoice Records release, What Now My Love.

Side one has always been called "19 minutes and 56 seconds that cover the lifetime of a love affair" and holds five tracks which are of the same mellow cloth Frankie Valli's solo records were cut from at this point in time.

Side two is that "blues-rock" that is Ryder's domain, his trademark scream working well on what they call "15 minutes and 50 seconds of instant party!"

'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On' and 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man' is the material expected by the fans of 'Sock It to Me Baby' and 'Devil With a Blue Dress On,' and those fans get that sort of thing here!

CD 3: (45s)
11. 'Blessing in Disguise'
12. 'One Grain of Sand'
13. 'Joy'
14. '(You've Got) Personality - Chantilly Lace'
15. 'Lights of the Night'
16. 'Baby I Need Your Loving - Theme for Mitch'
17. 'Ring Your Bell'
18. Radio Promo

Opening with the late night howl of 'Blessing in Disguise,' the slow-clap, gentle hipsway of a track is pure unadulterated dynamite even today to hear. More of the same can be found within both 'One Grain of Sand' and 'Joy,' but then we get a live version of his blended covers '(You've Got) Personality' and 'Chantilly Lace.'

The beautiful ballad 'Lights of the Night' is a lovely change of pace here on this selection of 45s, and that's backed by another live cut in the form of 'Baby I Need Your Loving - Theme for Mitch,' a downright slow-n-funky 'Ring Your Bell,' and then a brilliant 30 second Radio Promo about how to keep your house clean!

The extensive booklet comes with detailed informative historical notes and numerous reproductions of news stories and reviews from the pages of American trade magazines like Billboard and Cashbox.

It also contains full details of the peak chart positions of all of the singles and LPs from Billboard, Cashbox and Record World, America’s leading music trade magazines.

All in all, this is the most comprehensive 65-track ultimate tribute to the early chart riding career of Mitch Ryder who is still on the road today and will be touring Europe again in 2020.

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Other Side'
Artist - Nektar

For those not in the know, Nektar (which is German for Nectar) is an English progressive rock band originally based in Germany.

Throughout the 1970s, Nektar released a series of acclaimed albums, scoring chart success in Germany (where the British band was based) and later in the USA (where the band relocated).

Following the passing of original guitarist / vocalist Roye Albrighton in 2016, fellow founder members Derek “Mo” Moore (bass, vocals), Ron Howden (drums, vocals) and Mick Brockett (lyrics, visual conceptions) reunited along with Randy Dembo (bass, 12-string guitar), Ryche Chlanda (guitar, vocals) and Kendall Scott (keyboards) to begin work on a new album.

Thus, Esoteric Antenna along with Cherry Red Records UK have just released the rather stunning new studio album by the legendary band Nektar, The Other Side.

Ryche Chlanda originally recorded with Nektar in 1978, and for The Other Side the band updated some of those ideas which evolved in the basement of Mo Moore’s house in Chatham, New Jersey. Ron Howden, Mo and Ryche collaborated on much of the music heard on the album.

Furthermore, the 1978 unrecorded song ‘Skypilot’ has evolved into ‘Skywriter’ in 2020 and is featured here also.

1. 'I'm on Fire'
2. 'Skywriter'
3. 'Love Is / the Other Side'
4. 'The Light Beyond'
5. 'Look Thru Me'
6. 'Y Can't I B More Like U' (2020)
7. 'Drifting'
8. 'Devil's Door'

‘I’m On Fire’ is the musical adaptation of a poem written by Mo for his soon-to-be wife, Nicki, during that same time period of 1978 with the closing track, ‘Devil’s Door’, having originally been performed live in 1974, but never featured on any Nektar album.

Updated and recorded for this album, the song features the presence of the late Roye Albrighton on the introduction to the track, whose wonderful guitar part was taken from a live soundboard recording made in 1974.

Kendall Scott’s distinctive and versatile keyboard presence has enhanced this considerably, whilst Randy Dembo, who originally joined Nektar in 2004, brings a uniting presence on 12-string and bass guitars, rounding out the instrumental arrangements.

Ron Howden has been a continual driving force of the band, weathering all versions of Nektar since its conception in 1969. With Mick Brockett now back in the fold (with his visual concepts and ideas as an essential part of the band making the music and light theatre a reality).

Having taken to Kickstarter to get the proposed album some traction, the band explained their reasoning as a to why they chose to do just that.

"The reason we chose Kickstarter is to generate the necessary funds and freedom to do this album in a suitable manner without a record company. We would like to release a CD, a DVD on the "Making of the New Album" where we showcase our writing and tweaking of the music."

"A double-vinyl album, all with excellent artwork by our friend and collaborator, Helmut Wenske, the original artist in the tradition of classic Nektar, is another thing we would like to do."

"After the album is released in 2020, we will make a Blu-Ray/DVD with the light show so you, our fans, can have music and visuals that you can take home with you."

Simply put, The Other Side is a stunning album from a legendary band and each track is as amazing as you could only hope them to be.

A real return to form, if you will, the whole album is filled with amazingly tasty jam sessions, chock loads of wickedly soothing, and delicious tempo changes and chord progressions, and even has some rather ripping guitar moments and keyboard silos too!

Lest we forget the '70s-esque, hippyish lyrics that get brought forth too, of course! Trust me when I say that The Other Side is as good as anything Nektar have done before -- and yes, I know, that's saying something, but this album backs that up in spades!

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Return'
Artist - Deep Energy Orchestra

The Return, the second release by the eclectic group, Deep Energy Orchestra fuses prog-rock, jazz, and classical influences along with the global genres of Indian and Flamenco.

The record (out February 21st, 2020 via 7D Media) features Trey Gunn (King Crimson, The Security Project), Fareed Haque (Sting, Zawinul Syndicate, Billy Cobham), V. Selvaganesh (Shakti with John McLaughlin, Masters of Percussion), the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, and many other world-class musicians performing the unique compositions of Jason Everett aka Mister E including 'Moksha: The Elimination of All Duality', a 17-minute sonic story of a soul.

1. 'Moksha I - The Village'
2. 'Moksha II - The Battle'
3. 'Moksha III - The Journey'
4. 'Moksha IV - The Return'
5. 'Zyryab'
6. 'Call Of Kali'
7. 'Grapes For Khan'
8. 'Resolve'
9. 'Mysterious World'

Pressing play, sitting back and allowing the music to wave over, and course through you, it's evident from the off that listeners of The Return will be taken on a musical journey from Spain to India to outer-space and beyond with grooves that move the body and melodies that stir the spirit.

The aforementioned 'Moksha: The Elimination of All Duality' is a tremendous musical work of art that plays out through four acts and tells the story of a soul, from starting in a traditional village, to a battle with death, to a liberated soul, and then the Return to this world with musical echoes of the past and present.

Other tracks such as the ethnic calling of 'Zyryab' (by Paco de Lucia) and the atmospheric 'Call Of Kali' are equally as momentous in their creations, meaning that if your requirement for a wondrous musical evening of listening is high performance art combined with superb compositional work, well my friends, The Return is here for you.

Official Purchase Link

Title - 'Romanticizer' [EP]
Artist - Ugly Runner

For those not in the know, the three-piece rock band from North Carolina, Ugly Runner, have recently released their quite brilliant 6 track EP, Romanticizer.

Bringing forth a sound that isn't the norm for prog rock, and which has been described as "the perfect combination of California Punk and British R&B" (Essentially Pop), the band - Brett J Kent (bass), Stephen Britt (vocals/guitar), and Russell Walker (drums) - may well not be your stereotypical rock 'n' roller, but man, their sound is compulsory listening.

1. 'You Keep Me Up'
2. 'How Lovely You Are'
3. 'When the Reaper Comes'
4. 'She Was Your Girl'
5. 'This Time of Year'
6. 'Too Much TV'

Guitar strikes first against drum for the late '60s trash that creates 'You Keep Me Up' and kicks things off nicely and that's backed by the arcing guitar work of 'How Lovely You Are,' and then the steadfast 'When the Reaper Comes.'

The Beatles reborn come around next on the brilliant hipsway of 'She Was Your Girl,' which is followed by the achingly fervent 'This Time of Year,' with the guitar and drum jam of 'Too Much TV' bringing things to a rapturous close.

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'Joy'
Artist - Gentlemen's Academy

For those not in the know, Gentlemen's Academy is a quite wonderful new group led by guitarists Mike Marks and Patrick Klein (The Lizards) and also featuring lyricist Randy Pratt (Cactus & The Lizards).

Having just released (November 20th, 2019, via CD Baby) their brilliant new soft rock album Joy, the 11 track album comes complete with half a dozen excellent soft rock genre singers (some you might know, some you won't know, but should), that bring life to all these tracks as if they were all still stuck in the late '80s, early '90s.

1. 'What the Rain's For'
2. 'Be Brave for Love'
3. 'The Keepin' Kind'
4. 'Heaven Must Have Told You'
5. 'Paradise'
6. 'Fantastic Planet'
7. 'When We Were Young'
8. 'Tears of Joy'
9. 'Always Is Forever'
10. 'Crush'
11. 'Teetering'

The album kicks off with the mid-tempo ballad 'What the Rain's For' and backs that up with the Steve Perryesque 'Be Brave for Love,' the rocker 'The Keepin' Kind,' and then both the balladeering reach of 'Heaven Must Have Told You,' and the Steely Danesque lite pop rock breeze of 'Paradise.'

Next up is 'Fantastic Planet' which is followed by the beautiful acoustic guitar ballad 'When We Were Young,' and then we get the poppy 'Tears of Joy,' and then the summer breeze of 'Always Is Forever.'

This album of melodic masterpieces then rounds out with the reminiscent storytelling of 'Crush,' and comes to a close on the mid-tempo wanderlust of 'Teetering.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Cloudborn' [Reissue]
Artist - Art in America

For those not in the know, Art in America (founded in Detroit, MI in 1980 and who reformed in 2000) was the first rock band to feature a concert pedal harp.

The original band lineup includes three family members: Chris Flynn (guitar, lead singer, songwriter), Dan Flynn (drums) and Shishonee Flynn (harp, koto, tamboura, vocals) and Jim Kuha (bass, vocals, songwriter).

The first Art in America (the self-titled 1983 album) was released on Sony/Pavilion and was rereleased in 2008.

The second album, Cloudborn has now been beautifully remastered and includes seven bonus songs (including two "live-in-concert" tracks) and was re-released this past August 1st, 2019 via Edgewater Records.

1. 'A Tale of the Unexpected'
2. 'I Am I'
3. 'Someday'
4. 'Drool'
5. 'The New Swami'
6. 'Someone Called My Name'
7. 'For Shelly'
8. 'When We Were Young'
9. 'Facelift'
10. 'Don't Look Down'
11. 'No Wonder'
12. 'Goodbye My Love / Mind's Eye / Peace of Mind'

On an album that features a delightfully comfortable and never errand prog feel, whilst still managing to employ catchy hooks and embracing lyrics, they begin with the foot-tappin' 'A Tale of the Unexpected' and back that up with the pop rock of 'I Am I,' the beautiful summer breeze of 'Someday,' the mid-tempo rocker 'Drool,' and then the lite prog bounce of 'Someone Called My Name.'

The free flowing pop rocker 'The New Swami' is next and is followed by the prog ballad 'For Shelly,' and the dulcet, divinely magical 'When We Were Young,' and 'Facelift.'

This quite stunning album then rounds out with the drum-led rocker 'Don't Look Down,' the gentle pop bounce of 'No Wonder,' and then brings the project to a close with the near nine minute work of musical art, the progtastic 'Goodbye My Love / Mind's Eye / Peace of Mind.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Art in America @ Facebook!

Title - 'City of Skin and Bone'
Artist - Convey

For those not in the know, Convey pride themselves on putting their own spin on rock music that feels familiar, but also looks toward the future of the genre.

Many years and miles separate where Convey stands now from when guitarist Jahan Rajabi and singer Ben Cohen met in high school and carved out their first tunes in a Boston basement.

They joined up with resident Rush disciple Cory Massing at Berklee College of Music before moving westward to Los Angeles to cast the final mold for what Convey would be.

It was there that they rounded out the ranks with bassist Luke Dennis and linked up with Jim Kaufman, who took a keen interest in their sleek sound.

Having self-released an EP in the Fall of 2016 and their viral video hit 'Speed Dial', Convey has remained largely hidden for the past year; incubating ideas, fleshing them out, and not settling until the grooves cut as deep as the vocals soar.

Producer Jim Kaufman (Atlas Genius, Night Riots, Anti-Flag) has helped graft their appreciation for legendary acts like Led Zeppelin and Tool to a living love of Queens of the Stone Age and Circa Survive which has yielded their debut LP City of Skin and Bone (out now via Revival Recordings).

1. 'Devour'
2. 'Inside Out'
3. 'The Way'
4. 'Terror'
5. 'Locked in a Car'
6. 'Nutrition'
7. 'Crayon'
8. 'Boiler Room'
9. 'Freaks'
10. 'City of Skin and Bone'

The one-two punch of 'Devour' showcases the band at their best, really allowing singer Ben Cohen to delve deep into his vocal bag of tricks, and that's backed by the funky 'Inside Out,' the atmospheric 'The Way,' and then the pop rock of 'Terror' and the impassioned 'Locked in a Car.'

The at-first mid-tempo lullaby of 'Nutrition' that suddenly breaks into a guitar tour de force is one of my own personal favorites here and that's followed by the finger-snappin' Crayon,' the low ebb vibe of 'Boiler Room,' and then rounds out with the fervent 'Freaks,' and then the observant storytelling found within the title track, 'City of Skin and Bone.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Convey @ Facebook!

Title - 'Truce'
Artist - Markus Reuter

For those not in the know, Markus Reuter is a German composer who has earned critical acclaim throughout Europe and America for his work as a composer, guitar player, guitar designer, sound designer, producer and teacher.

Well, the über-innovative guitar maestro Reuter seizes the reigns on this just-released, and groundbreaking trio effort Truce that also features both Fabio Trentini and Asaf Sirkis.

MoonJune Records’ historic 100th release features a full frontal aural assault from the trio in as much as Truce brings forth some prominent, and textural wizardry and melodic flair, but most strikingly some rather bone-crushing touch guitar playing.

1. 'The Truce'
2. 'Swoonage'
3. 'Bogeyman'
4. 'Be Still My Brazen Heart'
5. 'Power Series'
6. 'Let Me Touch Your Batman'
7. 'Gossamer Things'

Ably supported by the fiery, inspired rhythms of the aforementioned ace veteran timekeeper Asaf Sirkis, and renowned Italian bass phenomenon and producer Fabio Trentini, the trio ventures through a melange of exotic sonic fare which pushes the boundaries of the traditional power trio well beyond established norms.

The album opens with the funky bass lines and drum tracking of the title track 'The Truce,' before bringing us the magnificently ethereal 'Swoonage.'

Next up is the fuzzy guitar and key work of the foot-tappin' 'Bogeyman' which in turn is followed by the achingly introspective 'Be Still My Brazen Heart.'

Next up is the drum-led sonic experience 'Power Series,' which is backed by the mysteriously entitled musical wonderment that makes up 'Let Me Touch Your Batman,' with this rather captivating new album rounding out with my own personal favorite, the free flowing beauty of 'Gossamer Things.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'Al Gold's Paradise'
Artist - Al Gold

Well, and for those not already in the know, if you were ever curious to discover what Blues and Roots music born in New Jersey would (or, more aptly, should) sound like, please just come sit down and listen to this brand new album from Al Gold.

Releasing March 6th, 2020, Al Gold's Paradise is a fantastic jazz 10-track journey that filters what you know and love about jazz through the natured nurture of the northeastern U.S. state of New Jersey.

1. 'That's My Baby'
2. 'Paradise (Downhome)'
3. 'Tramps Take Linden'
4. 'Mr. Banker'
5. 'Ramblin' Pony Blues'
6. 'Boogie In the Dark'
7. 'Got A Mind'
8. 'Won't Sleep Tonight'
9. 'Paradise (Uptown)'
10. 'Maplehood Limbo'

On an album that began at home, with Al's own band, the Suburban Rhythm Kings - drummer Jerry Cordasco, guitarist Tom Rice and bassist Terry Hemmer, they got a good groove going instantly whilst noodling.

Joining them on this project, to help flesh out the material (and concept) are some wonderful musicians who all love and/or were based in New Jersey. Musicians such as guitarist Mitch Eisenberg, jazz organist Jared Gold, pianist Eric Heilner, up and coming guitarist/singer Cassiday Rain, saxophonist with Matt "Guitar" Murphy for many years, Baron Raymonde, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and Blues Award-winner Johnny Sansome, jazz and blues heavyweight Dave Stryker, and ROOTS singer/songwriter and guitarist Anthony Tamburro.

Ably supported by all these wondrous musicians, Al kicks things off with the drum-lead in for the mid-tempo funk of 'That's My Baby' and backs that up seamlessly with the slow harmonica roll of 'Paradise (Downhome),' the toe-tappin' growl of 'Tramps Take Linden,' and both the frenetic boogie of 'Mr. Banker' and the brilliant guitar hipsway of 'Ramblin' Pony Blues.'

The sweet harmonica-driven 'Boogie In the Dark' is also one of my own personal favorites and that's followed by the piano jazz excellence of 'Got A Mind,' the laid back, provokingly poignant guitar blues of 'Won't Sleep Tonight,' and then the album rounds out with mid-tempo jam 'Paradise (Uptown)' with the fervent 'Maplehood Limbo' bringing things to a close.

Al Gold @ Facebook!

Title - 'There Will Never Be Another You'
Artist - Calle Loíza Jazz Project

For those not in the know, the famous street in Santurce, Puerto Rico, named Calle Loíza, has a long and colorful history as a center of culture and artistic creativity.

Historically, in the late 1800s, it was an important and heavily traveled section of the road passing through Santurce for laborers from the town of Loiza en route to San Juan.

The Bomba rhythms are also known to have origins near Calle Loíza among other areas in Puerto Rico, most notably the town of Loiza.

Back in 1990, pianist Mark de Oca and drummer Jimmy Rivera formed a quartet at the Apple Jazz Club on Calle Loíza in Santurce, Puerto Rico, meeting bassist Tony Batista and guitarist Andre Avelino.

Three decades later the quartet reunited, adding two trumpets, flute, guiro and two percussionists for their new recording, There Will Never Be Another You

Released earlier this month, the Calle Loíza Jazz Project performs eight jazz standards, paying tribute to such heroic figures as Puerto Rican trumpeter Juancito Torres, Dave Valentin, Mongo Santamaria, Carlos "Patato" Valdes, and Jerry Gonzalez.

1. 'Seven Steps To Heaven'
2. 'Some Day My Prince Will Come'
3. 'Stolen Moments'
4. 'Dolphin Dance'
5. 'Old Folks'
6. 'In Your Own Sweet Way'
7. 'Well You Needn’t'
8. 'There Will Never Be Another You'

In addition to alternating trumpet solos from Melvin Jones and Gordon Vernick, sparkling flute playing from Xavier Barreto, and many memorable spots by Monts de Oca on piano, There Will Never Be Another You is most notable for its use of Puerto Rican rhythms (played by drummer Rivera, congero Javier Oquendo, guitarist Avelino, bassist Batista, Candido Reyes on guiro, and Ivan Belvis plus special guest spots for Brazilian percussionist Reinel Lopez).

The album kicks off in some fine style with the frenetic, yet cultured trumpet playing alongside bomba rhythms on 'Seven Steps To Heaven' and backs that up with the longest track on the album at over ten minutes, the highly atmospheric cha cha cha rhythms of 'Some Day My Prince Will Come.'

The finger-snappin' beauty of 'Stolen Moments' is then followed by the gentle hipsway of 'Dolphin Dance' - and both showcase mighty fine new treatments - with a relaxed bolero approach brought forth for 'Old Folks' along next.

This truly magical album then rounds out with the upbeat, carnival feel of 'In Your Own Sweet Way' (complete with Jones trumpet solo), a playful cover of Thelonious Monk's 'Well You Needn’t,' and then comes to a close with the free flowing title track, 'There Will Never Be Another You.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Calle Loíza Jazz Project @ Facebook!

Title - 'Just Words'
Artist - Lynne Hanson

For those not in the know, Canadian singer/songwriter Lynne Hanson has just released her seventh studio album, Just Words this February 7th, 2020.

The new album marks something of an artistic departure for Hanson, who purposely tapped producer Jim Bryson (Oh Susanna, Skydiggers) to push and pull her outside of her comfort zone.

Contoured and textured, the result is a more powerful sound than on efforts past, more Steve Earle than Gillian Welch, with a vulnerable underbelly.

1. 'True Blue Moon'
2. 'Hearts Fade'
3. 'Long Way Home'
4. 'Just Words'
5. 'Higher Ground'
6. 'Clean Slate'
7. 'Such a Random Thing'
8. 'Lollipops and Roses'
9. 'Every Minute in Between'
10. 'Hemingway's Songbird'
11. 'Would You Still'

Relating the perils of falling for a poet, the first song (and single) from the album 'True Blue Moon' kicks things off nicely and immediately showcases Hanson's effortless, yet gently imbued folk vocals.

The reaching 'Hearts Fade' is one of my own favorites here with its affable hipsway and that's backed by the Americana ballad 'Long Way Home,' the gritty storytelling of bullying on the title track 'Just Words,' and then the finger-snappin' reach for forgiveness on 'Higher Ground.'

The smoothly free flowing need for acceptance on 'Clean Slate' is another cultured track and that's followed by a look at fate on 'Such a Random Thing,' a song with such a rhythmic back beat that if you close your eyes you could be seated on an old train making its way through the forest-choked Animas Valley, and then the lo-fi blues of 'Lollipops and Roses.'

This quite stunning seventh album then rounds out with 'Every Minute in Between,' the reminiscing of 'Hemingway's Songbird,' and then comes to a close on the upbeat 'Would You Still.'

Hanson is already starting to play songs from the new album on her Canadian tour this month. She plans to tour the U.S. heavily in 2020; tour dates will be announced soon.

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Lynne Hanson @ Facebook!

Title - 'M.M.X.X'
Artist - Sons of Apollo

For those not in the know, Sons of Apollo - former Dream Theater members, and prog legends Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex-Guns N' Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force) - have just released (and on the back of their massive live album from 2019 Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony), their highly impressive new second studio album, M.M.X.X. (released January 17th, 2020 via Inside Out Music).

1. 'Goodbye Divinity'
2. 'Wither to Black'
3. 'Asphyxiation'
4. 'Desolate July'
5. 'King of Delusion'
6. 'Fall to Ascend'
7. 'Resurrection Day'
8. 'New World Today'

This quite boomingly magnificent album opens with the flag-bearing 'Goodbye Divinity', the first single released from the album and one that combines all the musicianship elements that make SOA the band they are.

Complete with Sherinian's synths and a killing riffs courtesy of Thal and Sheehan, that's backed by the heavy-hitting, Portnoy-awoken double pedal work on 'Wither to Black.'

Next up is the all out prog of 'Asphyxiation,' a track that incorporates both fantastic guitar solos and one hell of a catchy chorus, and that's followed by the powerful 'Desolate July' (which allows Soto's aching balladeering to meld beautifully with Sherinian’s piano playing.

'King of Delusion' is a seamless sidle from the last track because it opens with more piano work, but trust me when I say there's a darker side to it's classical underbelly once it begins to breathe life.

Then comes a fast-paced, heavy metal cut showcasing Portnoy’s immense drumming, 'Fall to Ascend,' which is backed by the group musicianship of 'Resurrection Day.' The album then rounds out with the longest track on the album (at nearly 17 minutes), the epic opus 'New World Today.'

A little history on this album and how it came to be is that keyboardist Derek Sherinian and drummer Mike Portnoy agreed that the album would benefit from a bigger chemistry between members, and those who had already performed live together over 80 times by the time of the album production.

Both of them, joined by guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, met at Portnoy's home studio in Pennsylvania and wrote the whole album in around three weeks. The album was recorded in around eight months, with each member being able to work in their own home studios.

Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto wrote all the lyrics, with Sherinian helping him with some of the melody lines. He commented that he admired Soto's bluesy voice, which he thought contrasted with the more operatic vocals of other progressive metal bands.

Because the album was released in the beginning of a decade, Portnoy decided to name it "MMXX" (2020 in Roman numerals) and commenting on the cover, which was again created by Thomas Ewerhard, he said "For the first record, we had a mythological feel. This time around though, there's a much more futuristic style to what we've got."

"It has a very 21st century appeal. And the band crest is more polished, cleaned up and a lot more modern than last time, when it had an old fashioned look."

M.M.X.X. is now available as a standard CD package, Limited Edition 2 CD package with instrumental and a cappella versions, 2 LP + CD package, and digital download.

Amazon CD (Standard Edition) Purchase Link

Sons of Apollo @ Facebook

Sons of Apollo @ Twitter

Title - 'Play That Rock n' Roll'
Artist - Supersuckers

For those not in the know, the brand new 13th studio album from the Supersuckers Play That Rock n' Roll is out now via Acetate Records.

The Supersuckers are an American rock band formed in November 1988 as The Black Supersuckers in Tucson, Arizona.

Following the relative success of their 1997 foray into country music with the release of Must've Been High, they have since gone on to play country shows under various names.

Tracked over the course of four sweltering days at Willie Nelson's Austin, TX studio, Play That Rock n' Roll rocks with an amphetamine intensity, delivering muscular riffs, big choruses and more than a few tricks up it's sleeve.

1. 'Ain’t Gonna Stop'
2. 'Gettin’ Into Each Other’s Pants'
3. 'Deceptive Expectations'
4. 'You Ain’t The Boss Of Me'
5. 'Bringin’ It Back'
6. 'Play That Rock ‘n’ Roll'
7. 'That’s A Thing?'
8. 'Last Time Again'
9. 'Die Alone'
10. 'Dead Jail Or Rock ‘n’ Roll'
11. [Hidden Track]

Right from the off, the rockin' punk vibe of 'Ain't Gonna Stop' opens your ears up to what to expect from the album, and boy, is it a catchy MF!

The tongue in cheek 'Gettin' Into Each Other's Pants' is backed seamlessly by both 'Deceptive Expectations,' the late night sing-along 'You Ain’t The Boss Of Me,' and then the frenetic 'Bringin' It Back.'

The brilliant rock-pop hipsway of the title track 'Play That Rock ‘n’ Roll' is another stand out highlight here and that's followed by more tongue in cheek sarcasm within the brilliant 'That’s A Thing?'

The drum-led 'Last Time Again' is then backed by much-in-the-same-vein 'Die Alone,' with a rousingly spirited cover of Michael Monroe's 'Dead, Jail or Rock n' Roll' and a "hidden track" (aka a long overdue revival of the Allen Toussaint penned 'A Certain Girl'), rounding things out perfectly.

Simply put, raw, immediate and often times hilarious, Play That Rock n' Roll is the album a band makes after slugging it out on the road for thirty years (barring a one year hiatus while Eddie battled throat cancer). Amazon CD Purchase Link

Supersuckers @ Facebook!

Title - 'Old Habits Die Hard'
Artist - Junkyard

For those not in the know, Junkyard is an American hard rock band formed in 1987 in Los Angeles, California, with members previously in Minor Threat, Big Boys, Decry and Dag Nasty.

Back in 1992, Junkyard was a well-oiled machine, their previous two releases performed well, they had multiple videos in rotation on MTV, and successful club and arena tours under their belt.

Looking to infuse more of their musical sensibilities into their third effort, they began writing and recording and in a short few months, they had compiled over 20 songs.

The new material reflected more of their alt/punk roots, which was not much of a directional change considering their strong punk pedigree.

The band drew comparisons with Guns N' Roses (which, like Junkyard, signed with Geffen Records) and in 2015, Junkyard released two brand-new songs 'Faded' b/w 'The River' on Unison Music Group.

In 2017, Junkyard released its first album since 1991, High Water and on November 22nd, 2019, Acetate Records released the band's 1992 studio album, Old Habits Die Hard.

Selling it as "the lost 1992 album," Junkyard (via Acetate) have opened the vault and blown the dust off a killer collection of recordings that still sound as fresh, as ballsy and as lyrically relevant today as they did some 18 years ago.

1. 'Introduction'
2. 'Pushed You Too Far'
3. 'Out Cold'
4. 'Tried & True'
5. 'Fall to Pieces'
6. 'Blue Sin'
7. 'Holdin' On'
8. 'Staredown'
9. 'I Come Crawling'
10. 'Hangin' Around'
11. 'Take Me Home'
12. 'One Foot In The Grave'

Kicking off with a throaty introduction (courtesy of local LA icon Donnie Popejoy), guitarist Brian Baker's opening riffs instantly take us on a pop-rock journey with the brilliant strut and swagger of 'Pushed You Too Far.'

They then back this up with the one-two bounce of 'Out Cold,' the soulful mid-tempo ballad 'Tried & True,' and then the frenetic 'Fall to Pieces.'

David Roach's vocals have always impressed me and incorporating as he does the vibes of Gary Moore, Vince Neil and Axel Rose, it ensures that all these rocking blues, and guitar-backed boogies are as golden as they could have ever hoped to be.

Next up, and at times channeling both the aforementioned Moore and even Elvis Presley, is the lo-fi blues of 'Blue Sin' and that's followed by the rocker 'Holdin' On,' the powerful 'Staredown,' and then the love angst of 'I Come Crawling.'

This quite brilliant "lost" album then rounds out with the contrified, melancholic Poisonesque ballad duet 'Hangin' Around,' the feverish 'Take Me Home,' and then comes to a close with the guitar fest jam of 'One Foot In The Grave.'

As for the major label's rush to jump on the next popular music trend quickly back in the day as this album was being readied, well, that unceremoniously led to Junkyard's demise.

"At this point, Nirvana's Nevermind album had been out a few months and we all kinda knew which way the wind was blowing," singer David Roach recalls. "We didn't really officially break up as a band, it was as simple as the party's over."

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Junkyard @ Facebook!

Title - 'Ruination'
Artist - Virgil Donati

For those not in the know, Virgil Donati is an Australian drummer, frequent drum clinician and a producer who is currently playing with Icefish and his own various bands among other projects. Also proficient at the keyboard, Donati has performed with Jack Jones (Irwin Thomas) in a Van Halen tribute band in Melbourne known as Hans Valen prior to the bands The State and Southern Sons.

On his brand new album, Ruination, once again, Virgil brings together extraordinary young talent from all parts of the globe, that delivers intensely searing, heartfelt music.

Blurring the boundaries between fusion and progressive, instrumental and vocal, Virgil's most recent touring band is featured on this record - Andre Nieri guitar, Junior Braguinha bass, Chris Clark keys, along with many special guests, including Anton Davidyants and Evan Marien on bass, Julian Lage, Marco Sfogli, Carl Mörner Ringström, and Matteo Mancuso on guitar, Steve Hunt (Allan Holdsworth), Alex Argento, and a reunion of sorts, Joe Chindamo (Loose Change) on keys, and vocalist/guitarist Irwin Thomas, aka Jack Jones (Southern Sons).

1. 'Castle Bastards'
2. 'Back to Me'
3. 'Ruination'
4. 'The Crack'
5. 'Eleven Pt. 2'
6. 'The Quiet Place'
7. 'The Last Night That I Lived'
8. 'Time Is a Lie'
9. 'Pinprick'
10. 'Out of the Dirt'
11. 'If There Were None'

The album begins with funky drums meshed with aggressive guitar chord work on 'Castle Bastards' which then melds into the storytelling of 'Back To Me,' the rockier title track 'Ruination,' and then both the frenetic 'The Crack' and the playful skip and bounce of 'Eleven Pt. 2.'

The aggressively soaring 'The Quiet Place' is next and is followed by the beautifully sonic 'The Last Night That I Lived.' 'Time Is A Lie' is then backed by the speed drumming showcase 'Pinprick,' the keyboard and bass guitar prog delight 'Out Of The Dirt,' and then the album rounds out with the quietly atmospheric 'If There Were Nothing.'

“I’ve had the fortune to work with some outstanding talent for this record, and this is a testament to the incredible musicians who were able to pull off the challenging playing I was demanding of them,” Donati says.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Virgil Donati @ Facebook!

Virgil Donati @ Twitter!

Title - Tell It To Me: The Johnson City Sessions Revisted
Artist - Various

Released in August 2019 in conjunction with the 90th Anniversary celebration of the Johnson City sessions, Tell It To Me: Revisiting the Johnson City Sessions 1928-1929 is intended to demonstrate what music historian Ed Ward meant when he tweeted "Johnson City Sessions: Lots more fun than the Bristol Sessions. Fewer stars, more insight into a vanished world."

Intended to distill onto a single CD the groundbreaking research found on Bear Family Records' award-winning 4-CD boxed set, The Johnson City Sessions: Can You Sing or Play Old-Time Music?' (BCD 16083, released in 2013), Tell It To Me offers 25 essential highlights from Columbia Records' historically significant location recording sessions in Johnson City, Tennessee, in 1928 and 1929.

1. 'Tell It To Me' (Grant Brothers & Their Music)
2. 'Home Town Blues' (Roane County Ramblers)
3. 'Johnson City Blues' (Clarence Greene)
4. 'Louise' (Proximity String Quartet)
5. 'The Battleship Maine' (Richard Harold)
6. 'Roll On Buddy' (Charlie Bowman & His Brothers)
7. 'Old Lady And The Devil' (Bill & Belle Reed)
8. 'I'll Be Ready When The Bridegroom Comes' (McVay & Johnson)
9. 'When The Roses Bloom for the Bootlegger' (Earl Shirkey & Roy Harper)
10. 'I Ain't A Bit Drunk' (George Roark)
11. 'Just Over The River' (Garland Brothers & Grinstead)
12. 'Green Valley Waltz' (McCartt Brothers & Patterson)
13. 'Pride Of The Ball' (Blalock & Yates)
14. 'When We Go A-Courtin'' (George Wade & Francum Braswell)
15. 'I'm Just A Black Sheep' (Jack Jackson)
16. 'Evalina' (Wyatt & Brandon)
17. 'Just Pickin'' (Roy Harvey & Leonard Copeland)
18. 'God Will Take Care Of You' (The Spindale Quartet)
19. 'Moatsville Blues' (Moatsville String Ticklers)
20. 'Three Men Went A-Hunting' (Byrd Moore & His Hot Shots)
21. 'The Coo-Coo Bird' (Clarence Ashley)
22. 'Down On Penny's Farm' (The Bentley Boys)
23. 'Old Lonesome Blues' (Bowman Sisters)
24. 'The Last Gold Dollar' (Ephraim Woodie & The Henpecked Husbands)
25. 'Powder And Paint' (Ira & Eugene Yates)
26. 'Buttermilk Blues' (Ellis Williams)

Listening to the incredible, and still just so vibrantly imbued 26 recordings on this excellent compilation (which also comes with an impressive, and highly informative 40-page booklet and features a new essay in which Grammy Award-nominated liner notes writer Ted Olson describes the Johnson City sessions, sets them into historical context, and assesses their lasting historical impact), it's no wonder that you instantly become enthralled by the music.

Inclusive of some of the most iconic and influential recordings from the 1920s, the compilation includes works from Clarence Ashley's original recording of 'The Coo-Coo Bird,' Charlie Bowman's 'Roll On, Buddy,' Byrd Moore and His Hot Shots' 'Three Men Went A Hunting,' Bill and Belle Reed's 'Old Lady And The Devil,' and the Bentley Boys' 'Down On Penny's Farm.'

Because Tell It To Me showcases the usual state-of-the-art sound engineering generally associated with releases from Bear Family, these nine-decade-old recordings sound warm and clear - indeed, just as if they were made yesterday.

From the very off, with Grant Brothers & Their Music bringing us the foot-tappin' title track 'Tell It To Me,' you know what you are in for and so can settle back into your favorite comfy chair, close your eyes and allow the sounds to lovingly transport you back.

Presenting a diverse and dynamic overview of Appalachia's vernacular music at the cusp of the Great Depression this wondrous compilation also represents a range of genres and styles, seamlessly showcasing both secular and sacred material.

Thematically unified by the fact that all of the tracks hail from commercial location recording sessions held by Columbia Records in Johnson City, Tennessee, it's truly something know that recent assertions by discerning aficionados of 78 RPM records have confirmed that those sessions generated a particularly memorable canon of historical recordings.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Mid Century Modern'
Artist - The Coachella Valley Trio

For those not in the know, a trio consisting of Doug MacDonald on guitar, Larry Holloway on bass and Tim Pleasant behind the drum kit, The Coachella Valley Trio have just released their brilliant new album, Mid Century Modern (via Dmac Music).

Taking inspiration from the beauty of their Palm Springs home, its glorious weather and retro architecture, Mid Century Modern is a collection of four originals and seven standards that are brought forth complete with some rather magnificent, and exquisitely sublime instrumentation.

1. 'My Shining Hour'
2. 'Lance Or Lot'
3. 'Cat City Samba'
4. 'Tram Jam'
5. 'What's New'
6. 'Give Me The Simple Life'
7. 'Stranger In Paradise'
8. 'I Hadn't Anyone Till You'
9. 'Woody 'N You'
10. 'Bossa Nueva'
11. 'The Way You Look Tonight'

The spirited guitar work and light percussion of 'My Shining Hour' kicks things off rather nicely and that's followed by the more laid back approach to 'Lance Or Lot.'

Next up is the fervent 'Cat City Samba' which is backed by the free flowing, and lushly orchestrated 'Tram Jam,' the playfulness of 'What's New,' and the finger-snappin' vibe of 'Give Me the Simple Life.'

We then get some cultured jazz precision on 'Stranger in Paradise,' which is backed by the upright bass-led 'I Hadn't Anyone Till You,' the swift pacing of 'Woody 'N You,' with the album then rounding out with an intrepid rendition of 'Bossa Nueva' (featuring Big Black), and then a fantastic, stand alone jazz rendition of 'The Way You Look Tonight.'

CDbaby CD Purchase Link

Doug MacDonald @ Picuki!

Doug MacDonald @ Facebook!

Title - 'If I Don't Try' [EP]
Artist - Wyatt Edmondson

For those not in the know, Wyatt Edmondson is an American singer-songwriter from Montgomery, Alabama.

The 25-year old moved to Nashville in 2017 and will release his a brand new EP on February 21st, 2020 entitled If I Don't Try.

But the road hasn't been easy or kind for Edmondson, for when he was 15 he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition, which will cause him to lose his sight over time.

Initially a setback, music moved him forward—literally from Alabama to Nashville—to pursue his dream.

By 2015, Edmondson, still in college at the time, released his debut EP, Higher Ground and has steadily delivered more music throughout the past several years, including follow up Lover’s Lake (2016).

All along, he has continuously fine-tuned his songwriting and sound to arrive here now at his rather splendid new third EP, the aforementioned If I Don’t Try.

1. 'If I Don't Try'
2. 'Amber'
3. 'Room For Two'
4. 'You Said It, I Meant It'
5. 'Lovers Lake'

Edmondson's love for country music blossoming within his unique blend of Southern roots and rock, is mighty obvious here on the EP that he pulled in producers Shawn Byrne and Ryan Youmans for.

From the off and the uplifting title song 'If I Don't Try' is one filled with hope, light, and love, as are the other four tracks, of course.

Digging deeper into his own takes, his own perspectives on his life thus far, tracks such as 'Amber,' the story of a girl Edmondson knew growing up that took a leap of faith and the delightful shrug-it-off fun of 'Room For Two' are next.

They are followed by the lead single and relationship heartache and inner turmoil of 'You said It, I Meant It' and then the EP rounds out with another dip into 'Lovers Lake,' this time captured as a full band arrangement.

Simply put, If I Don't Try is Edmondson wearing his heart on his sleeve, and embracing life's toughest moments with stride and maturity. Indeed, this is his love letter to all of the go-getters out there.

Apple Digital Purchase Link

Wyatt Edmondson @ Facebook!

Title - 'Connexion'
Artist - Peppino D'Agostino

For those not in the know, Peppino D'Agostino was once a young Sicilian artist who left Italy over 30 years ago with the dream of “playing with the greatest guitarists”.

Peppino has indeed achieved his dream and he’s now firmly planted in the Who’s Who of the guitar world.

Peppino D'Agostino emerged on the acoustic guitar scene in the early '80s as a leading member of the second wave of the great finger stylists that helped redefine the instrument in the ’90s.

His remarkable technique, penchant for open tunings, and percussive effects are the basis of his unique compositional style which has been inspiring musicians and audiences alike for decades.

Add to that his natural warmth, playfulness, and broad musical tastes and you have the recipe for what he calls “minestrone music”.

His virtuosity and his emotional charge have also had a significant influence on the younger generation of fingerstyle guitarists.

D'Agostino continues to evolve and grow in ways that would have been hard to predict when he first showcased his melodic yet emotionally intense style on the recordings Acoustic Spirit, Close to the Heart, and Every Step of the Way (which was named one of the top three acoustic guitar albums of all time by Acoustic Guitar magazine readers).

D'Agostino’s simultaneous immersion in the classical guitar and rock worlds, has culminated in so wondrously imbued recordings down the years, but to my ear, perhaps none so much as this new album, Connexion (due out April 3rd, 2020 via A-Train Entertainment).

1. 'High Plains Guitarra'
2. 'Dancing with Shadows'
3. 'Head Case'
4. 'Buster'
5. 'Mara's Sleeping Song'
6. 'Mexican Sunrises'
7. 'Liam's Song'
8. 'Stammi Vicino'
9. 'Jenny's Goodbyes'
10. 'Beauty in the Abyss'

So some six years since his last album Penumbra, D'Agostino has collected enough new and relevant material to produce this highly original, and wholly inspiring new recording.

Containing ten sophisticated, yet always melodic compositions that are technically complex and always enthusiastically passionate, from the very first track, 'High Plains Guitarra,' you are instantly carried away to an unforgettable era of '60s Western movie making.

With that one inspired by the renowned film composer Ennio Morricone, the next track 'Dancing with Shadows' nods toward the Doo Wop genre of the '40s and the ghosts of the old ballrooms that once were in Torino.

One of my personal favorites amongst the bunch is the energy found within 'Head Case,' a track that was inspired by the unpredictable Laws of Chaos.

'Buster' is another fine, stand alone track and was written for the late musician and guitarist Buster B. Jones, whereas the stunning beautiful 'Mara's Sleeping Song' is his version of a piece written by the mandolin virtuoso Caterina Lichtenberg.

With that song also featuring Huey Lewis & The News' Stef Burns doubling down on the beautiful melody and improvising masterfully throughout, the next song 'Mexican Sunrises' is about dreaming of laying beneath a sunset in Baja California, Mexico.

'Liam's Song' is dedicated to a boy of the same name who D'Agostino befriended a long time ago, whereas 'Stammi Vicino' was written together with the legendary rock star Vasco Rossi and, once again features the electric guitar work of Burns.

Rounding this quite magnificent album out we have 'Jenny's Goodbyes,' dedicated to, well, Jenny, a woman that left his life all too soon, and then comes to a close with a track about dreaming of the whales, the beautiful creatures of the deep oceans, 'Beauty in the Abyss.'

Peppino D'Agostino @ Facebook!

Peppino D'Agostino @ Instagram!

Title - 'Better' [EP]
Artist - Karney

For those not in the know, over the past 20 years Anna Karney has been releasing music as a true independent artist.

She started her own label in the 1990’s and released 4 full length albums and 3 EPs of original music.

Her earlier albums included many well-known Bay Area musicians and in 2010 she began forming the Karney Band, which has been performing all over the Bay Area and throughout California ever since.

Karney is set to release a new EP titled Better on February 28th, 2020 and it's a quite stunning collection of original new songs together with a remix, and a cover of 'Ramble On,' one of Karney’s favorite Led Zeppelin songs.

1. 'Better'
2. 'Trust'
3. 'Ramble On'
4. 'Snake Oil Salesman'
5. 'Round and Round'

As I'm sure all you fans of Karney already assumed before the EP was made available, for my money also this new mini-album is as good, if not better (sorry, had to) than anything Anna has done thus far.

I mean, sure, Anna's been making great music for many years, but here on Better she focuses in on social justice and positive messages quite like never before.

Ergo, Anna's lyrical content offers a sardonic and sometimes straightforward approach to many of the issues facing people today, with a message of hope resonating throughout every song she writes.

Inspiration, obsession, and constant chaos in the news are the motivators for her new songs. How can a social justice songwriter stay silent during these trying times? The answer is, she can't!

Despite this, the first track and title song 'Better' shifts focus to the positive and offers the listener an uplifting message of hope and courage.

With Anna holding down guitar, various piano, organ and strings sounds, and lead and background vocals on all five of the new songs, it's no wonder they all have a familiar feel and imbued depth to them.

On Better, Anna (aka Karney) remains inspired with the new players in the lineup around her. These include bassist Kevin White (The Chuck Prophet Band), guitarist Erik Smyth (Mo'fessionals, Too Short), and also returning on guitar James DePrato (The Chuck Prophet Band).

Drummer Jeff Herrera remains the steady backbeat of the group, and horn section heavyweights include trumpet player Bill Ortiz (Santana, Tony Toni Tone) and Sax/Electric Bassoonist Paul Hanson (Bela Fleck, Billy Cobham).

Purchase Links

The Karney Band @ Facebook! Anna Karney @ Twitter!

Title - 'Solitary' [Reissue]
Artist - Don Dokken

For those not in the know, Don Dokken is an American heavy metal vocalist, best known for being the lead singer, occasional guitarist, and founder of the band Dokken.

Furthermore, he is known for his vibrato-laden, melodic vocal style which has made him an influential figure in American hard rock and heavy metal.

After enjoying mainstream success with Dokken, he parted ways with the band in 1988 and pursued a solo career. His 1990 solo album, Up from the Ashes, spawned two singles, and achieved modest success.

He released his second solo album, titled Solitary in 2008 and it was a stylistic departure from his Dokken material.

Don reformed Dokken in the early 1990s and has been continuing on with the band ever since. Indeed, he is the only remaining original member of Dokken and even joined forces with TTM Guitars to create his very own Don Dokken Signature Model TTM Guitar.

As aforementioned, Solitary was his 2008 acoustic rock album and was only originally sold to fans attending his tour for the album.

Released on October 21st, 2008, exactly eighteen years after his first solo album, Up from the Ashes, it has now been reissued with 3 extra tracks this past January 31st, 2020 via Deadline Music (a division of Cleopatra Records), to once again showcase the iconic vocalist at his most vulnerable best.

1. 'In The Meadow'
2. 'I’ll Never Forget'
3. 'Where The Grass is Greener'
4. 'Jealous'
5. 'Ship of Fools'
6. 'You Are Everything'
7. 'Venice'
8. 'Sarah'
9. 'My Heart Will Go On'
10. 'The Tragedy'
11. 'Someday'
12. 'All That Love Can Be'

Beginning things with the mellow renaissance-vibed 'In The Meadow,' he follows that with more of the same in 'I’ll Never Forget,' the harder ballad 'Where The Grass is Greener,' and then both the delicate piano work of 'Jealous' and the relationship-harbored 'Ship of Fools.'

The mid-tempo lullaby 'You Are Everything' is one of my own personal favorites here and is backed by the beautiful acoustic guitar work and balladeering on both 'Venice' and 'Sarah.'

Rounding this reissued album out is a cover of the Celine Dion masterpiece 'My Heart Will Go On' ("I did the 'Titanic' song by Celine Dion. I redid it, which is, like, well, everybody said nobody can do the 'Titanic' song because you can't compete with that original version; but it's brilliant because I Don Dokken-ized it!"), another renaissance-imbued track in 'The Tragedy,' and then the album comes to a close with the calming 'Someday,' and then the erstwhile piano work of 'All That Love Can Be.'

Joining Dokken on Solitary were The Firm and Blue Murder bassist Tony Franklin, guitarists Wyn Davis, Michael Thompson and Steve Ornest, drummers Frank Lentz, Gary Ferguson and Vinnie Colaiuta, and Baton Rouge singer Kelly Keeling.

Dokken is currently working on material on a new studio album, tentatively due later this year via Silver Lining Music, the label owned by Thomas Jensen, one of the founders of Germany's Wacken Open Air festival.

The group's first disc since 2012's Broken Bones will feature Dokken's current lineup — which includes Dokken, bassist Chris McCarvill and guitarist Jon Levin.

Official CD Purchase Link

Dokken @ Facebook!

Title - 'Hybrid Harmony'
Artist - RJ & The Assignment

For those not in the know, RJ (aka Reginald Johnson) is a native of Chicago’s south side and has been privileged to work professionally as a musician for over 15 years.

RJ embarked on his journey as a musician learning to play by ear in his home church. Empowered by his natural music ability and personal drive, RJ pursued classical music training and mentoring by some of the best in the industry.

RJ’s music knowledge base and overall musicianship rapidly progressed, and soon thereafter afforded him opportunities to gain experience playing keys in live shows and studio for some of Chicago’s and the music industry’s greatest artists.

Through JK Melody Productions, RJ has contributed to music through writing, producing and performing with various artists, thus affirming his level of musicianship not only as a player but also as a songwriter, arranger, composer, and producer.

Over the years RJ’s work continues to impress critics, as the feedback notably describes RJ as skillful, creative, and consistent across multiple genres of music including; jazz, R&B, neo-soul, and gospel.

On his brand new album, Hybrid Harmony (out January 24th, 2020), he teams up with drummer Terry Wesley II, either Jason Bolden, Donald Phillips or Eric Runquist on bass, occasionally guitarist Johnny Johnson and tenor-saxophonist Julian Tanaka, and the additional instruments of Tom Schuman plus, on some selections, singers Klaiton Johnson, Kiara Brown, Aja Hawkins, and Alisha Webster.

1. 'I’m Tryin’' (4:06)
2. 'My Mean Ol’ Aunt' (4:47)
3. 'Walk In Your Light' (3:30)
4. 'Hybrid Harmony' (5:37)
5. 'Prototype' (4:19)
6, 'Autumn Steps' (3:47)
7. 'Everybody Wants To Rule the World' (4:15)
8. 'Between Now and Never' (6:35)
9. 'Can’t Nobody' (4:05)
10. 'After Service' (3:31)

Johnson’s delightfully dynamic piano musings and snappy old school-tinged R&B workings are immediately brought to the fore here, as from the off on 'I'm Tryin' the track oozes R&B warmth via the vocals of Kaiton Johnson.

On an album that includes seven RJ originals, next up is the funky 'My Mean Ol’ Aunt' (complete with interjections of humorous put downs), the soothing 'Walk In Your Light,' and then comes the generous, and highly pleasing title track, 'Hybrid Harmony' (which uses two of the singers as wordless vocalists in the opening ensemble).

On 'Prototype,' the truly beautiful and breathtakingly entwinned vocals of Kaiton Johnson and Aja Hawkins’ voices coming together, as if finishing each other sentences off, is particularly enjoyable and that's backed by the gentle hipsway of 'Autumn Steps.'

Kiara Brown then gets to take ahold of their cover of Tears For Fears' big pop hit 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World,' 'Between Now And Never' features Julian Tanaka’s soulful tenor, and then the album rounds out with the slow funk roll of 'Can't Nobody,' and then the modern jazz piece 'After Service' grooves out to us via RJ’s acoustic piano.

As leader of a multi-talented band, RJ – who has vibed with everyone from Jennifer Hudson to Buddy Guy and Boyz II Men - opens the sonic floor here on Hybrid Harmony to compelling instrumental spotlights by saxophonist Julian Tanaka and lead guitarist Johnny Johnson.

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

RJ & The Assignment @ Twitter!

RJ & The Assignment @ Facebook!

Title - 'Abandoned in the Stranger's Room' [2CD]
Artist - Epic Tantrum

For those not in the know, one of prog rock’s most promising new bands, Epic Tantrum (which is now one of my most favorite band names ever!) have just-released (January 20th, 2020) their quite brilliant debut double CD, Abandoned in the Stranger's Room.

Containing elements of prog rock, jazz, and heavy metal, Epic Tantrum’s debut double disc offering is a double dip assortment of wonderment, that's for sure.

Epic Tantrum is comprised of members Peter - guitar, vox; Paul - guitar, vox; Greg - bass, vox; and Z - drums and the origins of the band started in 2007 when Peter and Paul began recording instrumental classical guitar pieces.

They enjoyed working together and decided to write and record original material in Paul's studio, known as The Strangers Room.

Inspired by the creative process of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, the two wrote songs and tinkered with them until they were satisfied, at which point they brought in friends to round out their recording sessions.

That's when Paul's longtime friend Z joined the band as the drummer. They named this collaboration Epic Tantrum, and recorded a demo entitled ‘31st’ and ‘Mary.'

Over the next few years, with several starts and stops, they continued to write and record material - but the goal of a full band remained elusive.

In 2016 Greg joined the band as bassist and the hard work of finishing their debut album kicked into full gear.

On the first CD of this debut album, entitled Abandoned, it features studio recordings of previously unreleased material. Whereas the second CD, entitled The Stranger’s Room features live versions of songs from Abandoned as well as material that appeared on previously released demos.

CD 1: Abandoned
1. 'Don't Bother … '
2. 'Unfold'
3. 'Accessory'
4. 'Fables Of Fortune'
5. 'Outside The Wire'
6. 'Into The Clutch'
7. 'Letting Go'
8. 'False Idols'
9. 'A Howling'
10. 'Abandoned'

The first disc opens with an achingly industrial curve before 'Don't Bother … ' reveals itself as a prog rock beauty, and that's backed by the gentle acoustic guitar work of 'Unfold,' the early Metallica feel of 'Accessory,' and then a rousing rock one-two on 'Fables Of Fortune' and 'Outside The Wire.'

The short, building piece 'Into The Clutch' enables you to catch your breath, before we're told not to take it personally from the start of the mid-tempo brilliance of 'Letting Go.'

A quite magnificent, soaring work is then brought forth in 'False Idols' which is backed by more proof that Epic Tantrum have the goods to succeed on 'A Howling' and then the pulsating rock prog blues of 'Abandoned.'

CD 2: In the Stranger’s Room (Live)
11. 'Baillee's Gone Again'
12. 'Franklin Park Blues'
13. 'Letting Go'
14. 'Now I Know'
15. 'Accessory'
16. 'Fables Of Fortune'
17. 'The Artist'
18. 'Don't Bother …'
19. 'Drown'

This live second disc opens with the drum-led 'Baillee's Gone Again' and follows that up seamlessly with the deep prog funk of 'Franklin Park Blues' and then another version of 'Letting Go.'

One of my own personal favorites here is the foot-tappin' R&B prog rock brilliance of 'Now I Know' which is followed by another shot of 'Accessory' and another hit of 'Fables Of Fortune.'

The second disc then rounds out with the cultured prog meets Steely Danesque 'The Artist,' another burst of 'Don't Bother …' and then the album comes to a close with the subtle thunder of 'Drown.'

The album also features a cover design by Ioaniss of DangerousAge Graphics, who has designed covers for King Crimson, Dream Theater, Sepultura and many more.

Official 'Letting Go' Lyric Video

Official CD Purchase Link

Epic Tantrum Merch Purchase Link

Title - 'The World You Want to See'
Artist - Glacier Veins

For those not in the know, Glacier Veins (Malia Endres - vocals, guitar; Kyle Woodrow - bass; Jason Espinoza - guitar and Tyler Groce - drums) is a dream punk band from Portland, OR.

It began as the solo project and dream of vocalist/guitarist and songwriter, Malia Endres, in 2015 and has grown to incorporate more friends and musicians in that dream.

In 2016, Glacier Veins released their debut EP Clear Your Head, which emphasizes emotion in their music and lyrics and the band earned a spot on the Portland date of the 2016 Warped Tour and played the 2017 Treefort Fest in Boise, ID.

Their second EP Dreamspace, released in the fall of 2017 (via Common Ground Records), connected with the band’s mindset of always dreaming and creating tangibility.

Glacier Veins' brand new full-length album, The World You Want to See is out February 28th, 2020 (via Equal Vision Records) and is everything that you wished and hoped it would be.

1. 'Feel Better Now'
2. 'Talk'
3. 'Everything Glows'
4. 'Another Feeling'
5. 'Set My Mind'
6. 'Driveway'
7. 'Circles'
8. 'Time'
9. 'Perception'
10. 'Remember This'

Inclusive of all the musical alt goodness that their previous two EPs were so abiding within, The World You Want to See is a 10 track musical wonderment that mesmerizes, invigorates and tantalizes your mind, body and soul in equal measures.

Stand out tracks such as the impassioned 'Talk,' the free flowing pop rock of 'Circles,' and the alt belter 'Everything Glows,' showcase a band that are more than comfortable baring their still-harbored collective passion for early '90s alt rock music.

"'Everything Glows' was one of the last songs we wrote for The World You Want To See," Malia shares, "and it ended up feeling like it captures the main theme of the whole record—creating and surrounding yourself with good energy and a meaningful perspective on the life you’re living."

"We wrote this song in Los Angeles on a day off during tour," she continues. "It all flowed so naturally after being inspired by the shows we were playing, the people we were spending time with, and the experiences we were having around that time."

"I was feeling very grateful and surrounded by magic. We all get so energized and excited when we play this song so we wanted to share those feelings visually through the music video. I’m hoping it brings some extra light to your day.”

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Glacier Veins @ Facebook

Glacier Veins 'Driveway' (Official Music Video)

Glacier Veins Merch Link

Title - 'Dawn Comes Quietly'
Artist - Sarah Elgeti Quartet with Friends

For those not in the know, Danish performer/composer Sarah Elgeti, who in 2008 received the Holbæk Jazz Award, has just recently released her brand new album, the rather beautiful Dawn Comes Quietly via Gateway Music.

On the 11 track album, Elgeti showcases superbly her talent as a magnificent musician on tenor sax, flute, and bass clarinet, whilst highlighting the obvious fact that she sure has some composing chops to her credit too.

This delightfully vibrant new recording under the banner of the Sarah Elgeti Quartet (which includes Nils Raae – keyboards/harmonica; Anders Krogh Fjelsted – bass; and Henrik Holst Hansen – drums) emphasizes her compositional skills on nine works, whilst indulging in a couple of classics (done her way, of course) lovingly borrowed from her fellow countryman, Carl Nielsen.

1. 'Magical Thinking'
2. 'Whereto?'
3. 'Changing Whispers'
4. 'A Lot of People - A Lot of Sad Stories'
5. 'Autumn'
6. 'Crazy Destiny'
7. 'Introspection'
8. 'Gather Courage'
9. 'Snow'
10. 'En Sommeraften'
11. 'Tit Er Jeg Glad'

Having composed the quartet's repertoire of contemporary jazz that combines the lyrical expression of the powerful and expressive as a whole, the album begins with the charmingly soothing 'Magical Thinking' and backs that up seamlessly with both the late night/early morning, smoky underground jazz club vibe of 'Whereto?' and then the gorgeous early '70s France feel of 'Changing Whispers.'

The steadfast 'A Lot of People - A Lot of Sad Stories' is up next and is followed by the sultry vocals of 'Autumn,' the finger-snappin' beauty 'Crazy Destiny,' the inner longing felt within 'Introspection,' and then the mid-tempo warmth of 'Gather Courage.'

Elgeti's work rounds out with the dulcet 'Snow' and then we get the two renditions of the aforementioned Nielsen. The first a rather bewitchingly perky 'En Sommeraften,' the second a sexy, lo-fi 'Tit Er Jeg Glad.'

The collective "friends" ensemble is: Sidsel Storm - vocals; Alexander Kraglund - violin; Søren Birkelund - clarinet; and Marianne Cæcilia Eriksen - baritone saxophone.

Sarah Elgeti Quartet @ Facebook

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'For All We Know'
Artist - Gloria Reuben & Marty Ashby

On their brand new album, For All We Know (out February 21st, 2020 via MCG Jazz), Gloria Reuben & Marty Ashby have teamed up for the second time to perform a collection of tunes, intimately exploring the beautiful, sometimes painful, oftentimes mystifying nature of love and relationships.

Trust me when I say that all 10 tracks featured here on the rather enthralling emotive For All We Know carry the listener through the myriad of emotions that entwines the heart while one wishes for a love, wins a love or loses a love.

1. 'I'll Close My Eyes'
2. 'A Time For Love'
3. 'Time After Time'
4. 'For All We Know'
5. 'I Get Along Without You Very Well'
6. 'The People That You Never Get To Love'
7. 'Maybe You'll Be There'
8. 'How High The Moon'
9. 'Where Do You Start?'
10. 'Sing My Heart'

Simply put, Gloria Reuben has such a beautiful voice that my attention was held throughout the entire album. You simply sink into it, allowing it to swaddle you, embrace you at every sung note, every backing chord played that it drifts in on.

From the very first track, the beautiful 'I'll Close My Eyes' on through to the sultry 'Time After Time' and 'The People That You never Get To Love,' to the gently yearning notes of 'How High The Moon,' and album closer 'Sing My Heart,' For All We Know translates into being a truly beautiful album from start to finish.

With the talented Marty Ashby at her side, here on this second outing for the pair, they have upped the stakes and brought forth a collection of amazingly sung and played love songs.

A quite wondrous, and not run-of-the-mill selection of material means that once you purchase the album you yourself will fall in love with Gloria’s elegantly refined voice (so be careful just how close you play it to your own sweetheart!)

As an actress, singer and social activist, Reuben has amassed impressive credentials in television, film, theater and music.

Many will remember Reuben as the HIV+ health care professional “Jeanie Boulet” on the hit NBC series ER, a role that garnered her two Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination.

Since then, she has had multiple regular starring roles in a variety of other television series, including Raising The Bar and Falling Skies and film appearances including Elizabeth Keckley, in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Reasonable Doubt.

Gloria Reuben @ Facebook

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Escape'
Artist - Adam Hawley

For those not in the know, guitarist Adam Hawley recently burst on to the music scene and soon revealed himself to us all as a celebrated and innovated artist, composer and band leader.

Originally signed to Maurice White's (founder of Earth, Wind & Fire) label Kalimba Music, Adam's first two albums, Double Vision and Just The Beginning, spawned an incredible six #1 hits, an unprecedented feat for a new artist.

He now sets out on his own label, MBF Entertainment, to bring forth his highly anticipated third album, Escape (due out February 28th), which features Rick Braun, Najee, Jeff Ryan, Michael Lington, Marcus Anderson & Kat Hawley.

1. 'Tokyo Groove'
2. '99 and Counting'
3. 'Saturday Morning'
4. 'To the Top'
5. 'Señorita'
6. 'Escape'
7. 'Sunday Swing'
8. 'Can't Stop'
9. 'Thinking of You'
10. 'Rain'

As all his fans already know, Adam’s albums adopt themes and thus as he composed the title cut for Escape he felt transported. That feeling inspired the rest of the music he wrote for this quite brilliant new collection.

Setting his electric guitar into motion from the off, the smooth jazz-pop energy of 'Tokyo Groove' (which sounds as if the legendary George Benson had stepped into the studio) is the first track out the canon and that's backed by the soul power (courtesy of Michael Lington) of '99 and Counting.'

Up next is the mid-tempo vibe (with sax courtesy of Keith McKelley) of 'Saturday Morning,' with the new single off the album, the funky, one-two bounce of 'To The Top' (featuring Jeff Ryan) arriving soon thereafter.

Adam then nestles in alongside his vocalist wife, Kat for the breathtaking, Latin-tinged pop resonance of 'Señorita,' with trumpet legend Rick Braun then joining him on the vibrant title track, 'Escape.'

That funky one-two rhythmic bounce is back again on 'Sunday Swing,' a track that if you're not moving your hips to or tappin' your feet to clearly shows you haven't got the volume quite right on your stereo, with 'Can't Stop' (featuring Marcus Anderson on sax) backing it seamlessly.

Smooth jazz saxophonist and flautist Najee steps up next and weaves his legendary flute styling through one of my own personal favorites, the sublime 'Thinking Of You,' and then the album comes to an acoustic guitar close with mesmerizingly beautiful cover of 'Rain.'

Anchoring the beats and grooves throughout Escape, drummer Eric Valentine and bassists Nathaniel Kearney Jr. and Ian Martin are longtime and frequent Hawley co-conspirators.

Percussionist Ramon Yslas adds nuance and Carnell Harrell supplements with vibrant harmonies via his keyboards, organ and synth.

“When I wrote Escape, it really took me away to another, special place," Hawley explains. "The groove, the vibe, it just transported me to a place of chill and Zen. That [then] became the theme that runs through the entire record.”

Adam Hawley @ Facebook

Adam Hawley @ Instagram

Adam Hawley’s Escape Tour plays the following concert dates (additional shows will be added):

February 1st Spaghettini Seal Beach, CA
February 14th Blu Jazz Akron, OH
February 15th Lin Rountree Valentine's Gala Detroit, MI
February 27th Suite Food Atlanta, GA
February 28th Tin Pan Richmond, VA
March 1st Jerry Green and Friends Louisville, KY
March 27th Earl Klugh’s Weekend of Jazz Colorado Springs, CO
March 28th Uptown Music Fest Tampa, FL
May 9th Smooth Chicago Chicago, IL
May 23rd Jazz-Funk Connection Colorado Springs, CO
May 24th Mayor Jazz Fest Las Cruces, NM
May 29th-June 5th Dave Koz Cruise Voyage 1 Amsterdam and the British Isles
June 5th-June 12th Dave Koz Cruise Voyage 2 Amsterdam and the British Isles
August 24th Norfolk Jazz Fest Norfolk, VA
September 13th Oxnard Jazz Fest Oxnard, CA
October 10th-11th Barbados Jazz Excursion Barbados
November 6th Florida Smooth Jazz Weekend Daytona Beach, FL

Title - 'The Long 17th Century' [2CD]
Artist - Daniel-Ben Pienaar

For those not in the know, Daniel-Ben Pienaar is garnering an international reputation for his recordings and concert appearances.

The ever-inquisitive pianist Pienaar, who has a particular interest in early music and in the Viennese classics and early Romantics, now presents his latest works, The Long 17th Century: A Cornucopia of Early Keyboard Music (out February 7th, 2020 via AVIE Records).

The Long 17th Century refers to the period from the late 1500s to the early 1700s, an era noted for forward-thinking individuality and invention in all areas of life.

This two-and-a-half hour recital surveys a pan-European variety of styles, genres and techniques, and comprises 36 works, each by a different composer, many not recorded before on a modern piano.

CD 1:
1. Giovanni Picchi (1571/2–1643)
Toccata (from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book) (3.42)
2. Tarquinio Merula (1595–1665)
Capriccio cromatico (2.42)
3. Francisco Correa De Arauxo (1584–1654)
Tiento de medio registro de tiple de decimo tono (4.35)
4. Matthias Weckmann (c.1616–1674)
Canzon (III) in D minor (2.23)
5. António de Macedo (?–?)
Ricercare a quatro de 4o tom (4.10)
6. Pablo Bruna (1611–1679)
XI. Tiento de falsas de 6o tono (1.15)
7. Giovanni Gabrieli (c.1557–1612)
Canzon quarta a4 (1.40)
8. Louis Couperin (c.1626–1661)
Duo in G minor (1.54)
9. Alfonso Ferrabosco I (1543–1588)
Fantasia with G final (2.59) 10. Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643)
Toccata cromaticha per l’elevatione (from Fiori Musicali) (4.42)

11. Giovanni Maria Trabaci (c.1575–1647)
Gagliarda Seconda, Ottava (from Libro Primo) (2.06)
12. Giovanni Maria Radino (d.1607)
Galliarda Seconda (1.08)
13. Peter Philips (c.1561–1628)
Pavan in G (the ‘1580’ Pavan) (3.24)
14. Matthew Locke (c.1621–1677)
Suite III in C: Prelude – Almain – Corant – Saraband – Jig (5.55)
15. William Tisdale (b.c.1570)
Almand (from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book) (1.22)
16. Melchior Schildt (1592/3–1667)
Paduana lagrima (after Dowland) (4.30)
17. Georg Muffat (1653–1704)
Partita IV in F (short version): Prelude – Rigaudon – Lepescheuses (4.27)
18. Johann Jakob Froberger (1616–1667)
Partita II in A (from Libro Quarto): Allemande – Gigue – Courante – Sarabande (7.55)
19. Jacques C. de Chambonnières (1601/2–1672)
Pavane l’Entretien des Dieux (3.59)
20. Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665–1729)
Rondeau in G minor (from Pièces de clavecin, Livre 2) (1.00)
21. Thomas Tomkins (1572–1656)
A Sad Pavan for These Distracted Times (3.40)
22. John Coprario (c.1570–1626) (set by Farnaby)
A Maske (from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book) (0.52)
23. Giles Farnaby (c.1563–1640)
The Old Spagnoletta (from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book) (2.01)
24. Heinrich Scheidemann (c.1595–1663)
Galliarda in D minor (3.22)

Total Time CD 1: 75.50

CD 2
1. Johann Caspar Kerll (1627–1693)
Passacaglia in D (6.12)
2. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621)
Mein junges Leben hat ein End (5.06)
3. Juan Bautista Cabanilles (1644–1712)
Pasacalles de 1o tono (5.32)
4. William Byrd (1539/40–1623)
Walsingham (6.04)
5. John Bull (1562/3–1628)
Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La (I) (from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book) (5.18)
6. Dietrich Buxtehude (1637/9–1707)
Variations on ‘La Capricciosa’ (15.49)
7. Michael Praetorius (1571–1621)
Zwei Variationen: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren (4.33)

8. Johann Kuhnau (1660–1722)
Sonata Quarta ‘Hiskia agonizzante e risanato’: Il lamento di Hiskia per la morte annociatagli e le sue preghieri ardenti – La di lui confidenza in Iddio – L’allegrezza del Rè convalescente (7.39)
9. António Correa Braga (fl. c.1695–d.1704)
Batalha de 6o tom (5.54)
10. Bernardo Pasquini (1637–1710)
Toccata con lo scherzo del cuccó (3.35)
11. Gaspard le Roux (c.1660–1707)
La Favoritte (3.31)
12. Jean–Henri D’anglebert (1629–1691)
Tombeau de Mr. De Chambonnières (5.41)

Total Time CD2: 74.58

Recorded between March 27th-28th and July 9th-10th, 2018, at the Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London, mastered by Phil Hobbs, with sound engineer work by Andrew Lang, and mapping and editing by Daniel-Ben Pienaar himself, of course, The Long 17th Century: A Cornucopia of Early Keyboard Music is, and quite easily, one of the most magnificent works of historical classical that I have heard in a long, long time.

From start to finish, spread over these two luxurious CDs, Pienaar brings for a most gloriously multi-faceted opus of material that bewitches and mesmerizes in equal measures.

Easily one of the most compelling and completely satisfying works of classical performances ever drawn to the world of home entertainment, these fresh, spontaneous, original readings are a breath of fresh air within the genre.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Clairières'
Artist - Nicholas Phan & Myra Huang

For those not in the know, American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction.

Praised for his keen intelligence, captivating stage presence and natural musicianship, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies.

Also an avid recitalist, in 2010 he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) to promote art song and vocal chamber music.

Acclaimed by Opera News as being among the top accompanists of her generation, pianist Myra Huang regularly performs in recitals and chamber music concerts around the world.

In addition to many chamber music concerts and recitals at the Palau De Les Arts in Valencia, Spain, she recently performed recitals at Carnegie Halls Weill Hall, the University of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with tenor Nicholas Phan, and at Carnegie Halls Zankel Hall with soprano Susanna Phillips.

On Clairières (released January 17th, 2020, via AVIE Records), Grammy Award-nominated tenor Phan and pianist Myra Huang pay homage to Lili and Nadia Boulanger, two exceptional composers of the 20th century who have often been overlooked in favor of their male counterparts.

At the heart of the album is Lilis song cycle (8-20) Clairières dans le ciel alongside which are a selection of songs set to poetry by the sisters contemporaries Verlaine, Maeterlinck, Jammes and Samain.

1. Versailles
2. Heures ternes
3. Reflets
4. Attente
5. Cantique
6. La mer
7. Soleils couchants
8-20. Clairières dans le ciel
21. Soir d'hiver

Performed within a quite breathtakingly layered, and at all times beautiful performance, everything about Clairières is not only perfection to a point of exquisite reach, but moreover actually suits Nicholas Phan’s voice.

Combining his vocally ranging styling with the impressive and highly dedicated work from his pianist, Myra Huang, they both bring forth a masterful and profound sense of musical justice to the vocal works by the Boulanger sisters.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Eleki Album'
Artist - The Coffin Daggers

For those not in the know, The Coffin Daggers are an instrumental surf punk band from New York that delivers an all out attack on the senses!

Comprised of Viktor Venom on Lead Guitar, Theremin, Echoplex; Rob Morrison - Keyboard, Rhythm Guitar; Peter Klarnet - Bass; and Alex Rochinski - Drums, The Coffin Daggers draw from diverse influences, ranging from Dick Dale, Henry Mancini, Link Wray, and the Cramps.

Viktor Venom, one of the founders of Nausea, started the group early in 1999 and Vik's punk influences (he has also worked with Reagan Youth and Chaos UK) have always given the bands music a unique melodic sensibility.

The new album from the modern surf rock icons is entitled Eleki Album (out now via Cleopatra Records) and it features cover versions of vintage Japanese surf rock (known as "Eleki") from homegrown bands such as Yuzo Kayama, The Spacemen, The Sharp Five and Takeshi Terauchi!

1. 'Black Sand Beach'
2. 'That Sweet Girl'
3. 'Flower Blooming in the Rain'
4 'Guitar Komori Uta'
5. 'Ringo Mura Kara'
6. 'Shinonome Bushi'
7. 'Chidori No Kyoku'
8. 'Murasaki No Yoake'
9. 'Namida No Jujuro'
10. 'Ginza Lights'
11. 'Yozora No Hoshi'
12. 'Yume Wa Yoru Hiraku'
13. 'Monkey Crazy'
14. 'Kojo No Tsuki'

The album kicks off in ravenous form with the mid-tempo beach sway of 'Black Sand Beach' and much in the same vein backs that up with 'That Sweet Girl,' 'Flower Blooming in the Rain,' with the quieter 'Guitar Komori Uta' along thereafter.

To be very honest, and as much as this album is a lot of fun, vibrant and catchy throughout, most all the tracks eventually blend into one and so everything from 'Ringo Mura Kara' through to the penultimate 'Monkey Crazy' makes for one far out musical wave!

But then they save a real change of pace until last with their rendition of 'Kojo No Tsuki,' a Japanese (obviously) song written in the Meiji period.

Oh, and just so you are fully aware, the Eleki Album is also available on both CD and limited edition RED vinyl!

Official CD Purchase Link

Official RED Vinyl Purchase Link The Coffin Daggers @ Facebook!

Title - 'Benjamin Bernheim'
Artist - Benjamin Bernheim

With his mature musicianship, powerful stage presence and engaging, approachable persona, French tenor Benjamin Bernheim stands out from the operatic crowd.

Born in Paris, Bernheim grew up in Geneva, where he studied violin and piano, before starting singing lessons at age 10 at the local conservatory.

At age 18, he began his studies at the HEM Lausanne Conservatory (now called HEMU), under the tutelage of Gary Magby.

Following the completion of his studies, he was accepted into the Opera Studio at Opernhaus Zürich for the 2008/2009 season.

In April 2019, he signed a long-term exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon and his enthralling, totally compelling debut album for the yellow label is out now.

1. Massenet: Werther
2. Donizetti: L'elisir d'amore
3. Gounod: Roméo et Juliette
4. Verdi: La Traviata
5. Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
6. Verdi: Rigoletto
7. Massenet: Manon
8. Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
9. Gounod: Faust
10. Verdi: Luisa Miller
11. Godard, B: Dante, Op. 111
12. Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24
13. Puccini: La Bohème

Showcasing the breadth and depth of his exceptional talent in a wide-ranging selection of tenor arias, accompanied by the Prague Philharmonia under the baton of Emmanuel Villaume, Bernheim presents a varied program drawn from the Italian, Russian and French operatic repertoire.

With an immaculate, dare I say beautiful voice, one instilled with both a sense of naturally enriched poise and perfection, Bernheim is a superb singer.

Opening with the yearning of Massenet: Werther and backing it with the quietly paced Donizetti: L'elisir d'amore and then the strongly poised, playful at times Gounod: Roméo et Juliette, Bernheim showcases the fact early on that he is at his very best bringing forth the French works born of the late 19th Century.

The achingly magnificent Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin is one of my personal favorites here and is backed by other stand out such as the stunningly magnificent fullness of Gounod: Faust, the profoundly provoking Godard, B: Dante, Op. 111, and ends with the free flowing, tantalizingly beautiful Puccini: La Bohème.

Title - 'Elgar'
Artist - Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Following his breakout moment as the first black musician to win BBC's Young Musician of the Year Award in 2016 and a "standout" (NPR) performance at TRH the Duke & Duchess of Sussex's wedding, 20-year-old Sheku Kanneh-Mason releases a new album featuring Elgar's Cello Concerto.

Performed with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, it is complemented by a collection of pieces from Elgar's time, chosen by Sheku as a reflection of different moods and influences.

1. TRAD. 'Blow the Wind Southerly'
2. ELGAR Nimrod
3-6. ELGAR Cello Concerto
7. ELGAR Romance
8. BRIDGE Soring Song
9. TRAD. Scarborough Fair
10. BLOCH Prelude
11. FAURE Elégie
12. KLENGEL Hymnus

Marking the young cellist’s second album on Decca Classics, Elgar, the centerpiece of Sheku Kanneh-Mason's newest Decca Classics album is the Cello Concerto of Sir Edward Elgar, with nine shorter works surrounding it.

Of those nine, one is original work for a cello ensemble, the 'Hymnus' of Julius Klengel, another is for string quartet, and the other 7 works are various arrangements for cello and other string instruments, including one solo cello arrangement by Sheku himself.

Other works on this quite breathtakingly ambient new album include an arrangement of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ from the Enigma Variations, Fauré’s Elégie in C minor, and arrangements of traditional songs ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘Blow the Wind Southerly’.

To my ear, it's plainly obvious that the love of the artist for performing folk-songs finds its expression in this compilation in 'Blow the Wind Southerly' - arranged by the artist for solo cello - and 'Scarborough Fair' - specifically arranged for cello and guitar in order to blend the sounds of the two instruments.

This recording is made in the new Dolby Atmos sound, which picks up every detail for as immersive and ‘high definition’ an experience of Elgar’s sublime music as you might have in an intimate live concert setting. It makes for a stunning listen.

“All the pieces are connected, either exercising similar emotions to the Cello Concerto, or written around the same time,” Sheku explains. “It’s how I feel about the music that really motivates me to work and discover and develop my own ideas – that’s what keeps me going.”

The recording – made at Abbey Road studios – comes off the back of the news of Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s appointment as MBE, and his new role as Ambassador of inner-city music charity, London Music Masters.

Title - 'Plaisir d'Amour'
Artist - Angela Gheorghiu & Alexandra Dariescu

Winner of five Gramophone Awards, twice recipient of Female Artist of the Year from the Classic Brits, and also in 2018 she received the `Victoire d'Honneur' award in France, Angela Gheorghiu returns to Decca to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her legendary La Traviata with Sir Georg Solti on the just-released Plaisir d'Amour.

A 23-track album featuring rare and classic songs never before recorded by Gheorghiu, and accompanied by her compatriot Alexandra Dariescu the recital opens with Romanian songs and includes such classics as Apres un reve, Tosti’s ideale, Strauss’ Morgen and the Chopin Tristesse.

1. Stephãnescu: Cantecul fuierasului din feeria
2. Stephãnescu: Mandrulita de la munte
3. Debussy: Nuit d'étoiles
4. Debussy: Beau Soir
5. Fauré: Songs (3), Op. 7
6. Fauré: Cinq Melodies 'de Venise', Op. 58
7. Rachmaninov: Songs (6), Op. 8
8. Rachmaninov: Songs (12), Op. 14
9. Paisiello: La Molinara
10. Bellini: Vaga luna che inargenti
11. Tosti: Ideale
12. Tosti: Sogno
13. Tosti: La serenata
14. Rameau: Le Grillon
15. Chopin: Études (12), Op. 10
16. Martini, J P: Plaisir d'amour
17. Hahn, R: Chansons grises
18. Strauss, R: Morgen!
19. Strauss, R: Cäcilie
20. Balfe: The Bohemian Girl
21. Brediceanu: Cine m-aude cantand
22. Villa-Lobos: Floresta do Amazonas, W 551
23. Obradors: Canciones clásicas españolas

For this release, Angela takes us on a journey through the highs and lows of romance across eight countries around the world.

Opening with two playful compositions from Stephãnescu in both Cantecul fuierasului din feeria and Mandrulita de la munte, other stand out moments include the yearning Debussy pairing of Nuit d'étoiles and Beau Soir, the achingly magnificent Vaga luna che inargenti (Bellini), and for my money, both the delicate piano work of Dariescu on Hahn's Chansons grises and the storytelling within Balfe's The Bohemian Girl.

The piano accompaniment of the wondrous Dariescu highlight Angela's voice almost to perfection here which means that she is, and without a shadow of a doubt, still able to move us with her lushly passionate and orchestrated vocal tones.

"I have always enjoyed singing lieder and songs in different languages, because not only are these musical jewels, they are also little universes or complete stories in just a few pages," Angela explains.

"It is like a competition with yourself, challenging your interpretative force and vocal resistance. I wanted to record the vast repertoire on this disc for the first time with a real concert pianist and Alexandra Dariescu is one of the most important young pianists of our time; her touch, sensibility, force, charisma and personality have conquered me."

"She is eclectic and full of courage in trying new experiences, just as I am. I hope the public all over the world will like it as much as we are enjoying offering it."

Title - 'New York Moment'
Artist - JC Hopkins Biggish Band

For those not in the know, JC Hopkins Biggish Band have yet another album on the Big Apple horizon, the rather vibrantly excellent New York Moment, set for release in March 2020 via Twee-Jazz Records.

The new long player’s title nods to that moment when the fast paced metropolitan life, and all of its challenges, fades away when a great artist hits just the right notes.

The songs and the sound of the album encapsulates ‘The New York Experience,’ celebrating a very current, living spirit of jazz and song on display every Saturday night as the Biggish Band play their weekly residency at Minton’s - the birthplace of bebop.

1. 'Beguiled' (Nico and Joy)
2. 'One of Those Days' (Vanisha)
3. 'The Wonderful Things to Come' (Joy)
4. 'We Can Change the World' (Nico)
5. 'Oh, Kitty' (Shawn)
6. 'Better Git It In Your Soul' (Julian)
7. 'What Would You Say?' (Joy and Nico)
8. 'Sublime Beauty' (Vanisha)
9. 'Lulu' (Nico)
10. 'Close Your Eyes'(Joy)
11. 'The Children Will Lead Us' (Alicyn)

JC Hopkins Biggish Band, led by the bandleader, songwriter and producer for which it’s named, is a ten piece jazz orchestra that features four dynamic young vocalists who do a palpably stellar job of interpreting Hopkins’ new original compositions.

Nico Sarbanes has a sound and look reminiscent of a young Sinatra only he plays trumpet like Clifford Brown. Joy Hanson’s voice is both evocative and ebullient as she sings both ballads and more swinging material effortlessly.

Vanisha-Arleen Gould brings a more bluesy sound to the numbers where she is featured and Shawn Whitehorn’s baritone on 'Oh, Kitty' is, well, simply breathtaking.

Indeed, all four are distinctive singers and performers. The group’s tenor saxophonist Drew Vandewinkle, is responsible for most of the arrangements on the album which have been honed by the regularity of their routinely sold out weekly engagements as Minton's Playhouse (in New York on 118th Street) house band.

Musicians: Joy Hanson, Nico Sarbanes, Vanisha Gould, Shawn Whitehorn and Alicyn Yaffee: Vocals JC Hopkins - piano, Nico Sarbanes - trumpet solos, Drew Vandewinckle - arranger and tenor sax, Jason Marshall - Baritone sax, Julian Pressley - alto sax, Beserat Taffesse - trombone, Walter Cano - trumpet, Evan Hyde - drums, Kaisa Maenshivu - upright bass.

Title - 'Moment Of Clarity'
Artist - Paul Shaw Qunitet

For those not in the know, and in addition to playing percussion and drum set with the United States Air Force Falconaires big band, veteran drummer Paul Shaw has co-led the jazz quintet, Inside Out, since 2000.

He was also a member of the Atlanta based quartet, The Swing Association, voted best jazz group in Atlanta during Paul's tenure and has played with jazz notables as diverse as Rufus Reid, Bill Watrous, Tom Coster, Johnny O'Neal, Jacques Lesure, Donald Harrison, Jiggs Whigham, Oscar Brown Jr., and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

As an Air Force drummer, Paul's pop credits include performances or recordings with Amy Grant and Vince Gill, CeCe and BeBe Winans, Nashville based Christ Church Choir, Lee Greenwood, Wynonna Judd, Mark Anthony, Celine Dion, and Blues Traveler.

He has also performed with country session greats Tom Morell, John Hughey, Herby Wallace, and the great Johnny Hiland. Furthermore, Paul taught jazz ensemble, private lessons, and composed for the drum & bugle corps at the United States Air Force Academy.

Paul and his wife, Melanie, formed the singer/songwriter duo Acoustic Station 12 years ago and he has written music and lyrics for over 60 of their songs.

He is currently pursuing doctoral work, teaching privately, and performing in the New York City area, but only after releasing his debut solo recording, the quite brilliantly upbeat Moment Of Clarity (out March 13th, 2020 via Summit Records).

1. 'Heartland'
2. 'Shapeshifter'
3. 'Song For Everyone'
4. 'Mary Oliver'
5. 'Peekaboo'
6. 'Moment Of Clarity'
7. 'Showdown'

Featuring Paul on drums, Alex Sipiagin on trumpet, Brad Shepik on guitar, Gary Versace on piano, and Drew Gress on acoustic bass, the album begins with the soulful, dulcet and yet at all times invoking 'Heartland,' and backs that up seamlessly with the developing stature of 'Shapeshifter' and then the pleasantly methodical 'Song For Everyone.'

In keeping in tune with those rhythmic evolutions, Paul then brings us the quietly playful 'Mary Oliver,' which he follows by turning up the tempo a wee bit on the finger-snappin' 'Peekaboo.'

The album then rounds out with the cultured, yet faintly sterner approach of the title track, 'Moment Of Clarity,' and then comes to a close on the funky trumpet-driven 'Showdown.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'the loser'
Artist - David Lang

An opera in one act for solo baritone voice, solo piano and ensemble, David Lang's the loser (released February 7th, 2020 via Cantaloupe Music) has been lauded by the New York Times as a "boldly unconventional" work, and that's almost putting it mildly!

For those not in the know, 'the loser' is based on the Thomas Bernhard's 1983 novel of the same name, in which an anonymous narrator and once-promising concert pianist retells the story of his friend's suicide.

As it turns out, both were students in the same master class, taught by Vladimir Horowitz, as a young Glenn Gould and Gould’s nickname for the suicidal Wertheimer was, of course, “the loser.”

Playing in the shadow of Gould brings both to the realization that true greatness will never be theirs, wrecking both their lives forever.

scene 1 - even glenn gould, our friend (12:07)
scene 2 - strangely enough (07:22)
scene 3 - it's not my way (08:03)
scene 4 - glenn is the victor (06:44)
scene 5 - those who live in the country (04:37)
scene 6 - I’m the survivor (05:33)
scene 7 - glenn died at the perfect moment (03:17)
scene 8 - the loser was a born loser (10:44)
for glenn gould [bonus track] (14:03)

It opens with all three studying piano with Vladimir Horowitz at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in the early 1950s.

Within scene 1 ("even glenn gould, our friend") the narrator reveals the untimely, and yet natural death of Gould, recanting it as if he were a passive town crier back in the day making people aware of the daily news.

In scene 2 ("strangely enough"), the narrator’s memories bring forth how he first met Gould, atop a mountain top, strangely enough called Suicide Mountain, before scene 3 ("it's not my way") reveals more about the man; especially how he found humor in the way a piano was delivered!

In scene 4 ("glenn is the victor"), recants a story of the death by hanging of Wertheimer, whilst revealing that Glenn had had his stroke during the Goldberg Variations and in scene 5 ("those who live in the country") is a sterner, leaner recap of how one not born in the country shows a distinct lack of taste, with it also being harmful to their health.

The buoyant scene 6 ("I’m the survivor") is a passage of reflection, about being the last man standing, whilst scene 7 ("glenn died at the perfect moment") the perky speech informs us that a natural death always occurs at the perfect moment (unlike suicide).

The opera ends with scene 8 ("the loser was a born loser"), a recounting of how the sole survivor had known from the off that he would indeed be the last man standing, due to having pegged the other two as losers from the off.

Ending on the most beautiful, if not at times strained and sorrowful, near-15 minute bonus track "for glenn gould," 'the loser' is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most innovative and daringly magnificent acts of operatic storytelling I have had the pleasure to encounter in the past few decades.

As David Lang himself tells it, "The story is not at all about Gould, Horowitz, or classical music. On one level, the novel is an intense tour-de-force of character development, as the narrator tells you more about himself and his world."

"In its own strangely beautiful way, however, it's also about perfectionism, hard work, how we justify our lives to ourselves, and how we learn to appreciate beauty and become alienated from it at the same time."

Featuring Rod Gilfry (baritone), Conrad Tao (piano) and the Bang on a Can Opera Ensemble conducted by Lesley Leighton, 'the loser' premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2016 and made its west coast premiere at the LA Opera in early 2019.

Tracked in New York and Los Angeles, the studio recording recaptures what the LA Times described as "a mesmerizingly virtuosic performance by Rod Gilfry, destined for the annals of opera."

'the loser' is Lang’s third full-length opera recording with Cantaloupe Music. This past October, the label released Lang’s anatomy theater.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Intuition'
Artist - Rändi Fay

For those not in the know, Rändi Fay (lyricist and vocalist) is a former veterinarian who began her professional songwriting and performing career at age 50; her strongest musical influences being jazz, 60’s & 70’s classic hits, music theater and classical music.

Aaron Zinsmeister (composer, producer, synths & orchestration) has a degree in music and recording technology, and has played in bands since his teens with influences from symphonic metal to video game soundtracks to classical orchestration.

From this award winning, dynamic pair not only has a dramatic new genre of music emerged - one that blends the best of their creativity into a symphonic electronica - but a full-length, 11-track opus of an album too, entitled Intuition.

1. 'Firefly'
2. 'Jezebel'
3. 'Mystified'
4. 'Uncaged'
5. 'Serenity'
6. 'Intuition'
7. 'Lone Wolf'
8. 'Melancholia'
9. 'East of Pain'
10. 'River of Time'
11. 'Rise in Love'

This quite breathtaking new concept album (that, as a whole, explores people's dualities) opens with the palpitating beauty of 'Firefly,' a commentary on our contemporary obsessions with superficial appearances and augmented personal realities, and that's backed by both the mesmerizingly, opulently dark 'Jezebel,' and the delicate electronic euphoria of 'Mystified.'

The drama, shifts and textures of symphonic electronica cross the boundaries of generations and genre, exploring human emotion with no holds barred continues onward with the seamless pairing of the roustabout 'Uncaged' and the beautiful 'Serenity,' before we land on the pulsating, absolutely dancefloor-ready, Hi-NRG euro beats of the title track, 'Intuition.'

A cut that evokes everything that is great about their produced sound, let alone both Fay and Zinsmeister themselves, of course, the ideal song for anyone whose partner is shrouded in mystery is up next within the mid-tempo lead single 'Lone Wolf.'

Fay’s poetic lyrics and transcendent vocals set to dramatic production and dynamic melodies are once again brought to the fore on the achingly driven, affecting shroud of depression found with the 'Melancholia' tale, and then the sitar-driven melodies of 'East of Pain.'

This quite expansive, and uniquely told from the heart opus of a storytelling album then rounds out with the heartfelt orchestrations and alluring elegance of both 'River of Time,' and then the euphoric album closer 'Rise in Love' (“Rise with me/Rise above/Together we’ll rise in love”).

As Fay herself says, "Intuition is an album of 11 passionate songs woven into an honest story of discovery and love. We've held nothing back while creating a new sound, symphonic electronica!"

"From intimate to epic, our music is edgy and elegant, a captivating blend of poetic lyrics, expressive melodies and dynamic virtual orchestrations, a spectrum of emotion and musical expression."

Rändi Fay @ Facebook

Rändi Fay @ Twitter

Rändi Fay @ Instagram

Title - 'Ridiculous Lengths'
Artist - Luke Skyscraper James

For those not in the know, Luke Skyscraper James was the singer/guitarist with the original line up of Fáshiön music (1978- 80).

In 1979 Fáshiön music released their first album, Product Perfect, but in 1980 Luke quit the band - let alone the music business - and disappeared.

His current bands are The Ghost of Luke James with Eric S. Anderson, and The Pull of Autumn with Daniel Darrow.

Funnily enough, it was actually Eric S. Anderson - who founded Pachyderm Studios (Nirvana, Soul Asylum, P.J.Harvey) before himself quitting the music scene and turned his talents to film directing (Six Feet Under, Dexter) - who connected with Luke through social media; encouraging Luke to return to writing and recording new music (together).

The result was the aforementioned duo The Ghost of Luke James and their debut release being a 5-song EP (Cool Electric Blue) – a new recording, some 40 years after Luke’s first release.

And now the man himself has taken a few more musical steps forward and brought forth a brand new solo album entitled Ridiculous Lengths (released January 10th, 2020).

1. 'Good News From Home'
2. 'Crazy World'
3. 'Way Back Home'
4. 'Feel Like I Felt'
5. 'Got To Give You All My Loving'
6. 'The Ghost of Luke James'
7. 'Nobody'
8. 'Losing You'
9. 'Fun House'
10. 'River Of This Night'
11. 'No Time To Make Enemies'

The album kicks of with the mid-tempo hipsway of 'Good News From Home,' then backs that up with the countrified, albeit densely-laden vocals of 'Crazy World,' and then the provincial vibe of 'Way Back Home' comes along next.

Some gentle, sweeping at times synth provide a lush layering for Luke's most heartfelt, and natural vocal to come to the fore on 'Feel Like I Felt' which he follows with the poppy, foot-tappin' jaunt of 'Got To Give You All My Loving.'

The drum-led Americana feel of 'The Ghost of Luke James' makes this a delightful stand out track, and yet another one where Luke allows the rawness of his vocals to ride the waves of the song perfectly, and that's backed by the atmospheric storytelling of 'Nobody.'

The guitar tempo is then raised on (for me, at least) the best track on the album, 'Losing You' - a track that highlights Luke's British brogue way more than any other track.

The album then rounds out with the moody melancholy of 'Fun House,' the gentle thigh-slappin' rhythms and vocal style akin to Robbie Robertson of 'River Of This Night,' and then comes to a close with the throaty 'No Time To Make Enemies.'

Official Digital Purchase Link

The Ghost of Luke James @ Facebook!

Title - 'Bewitched (Not Bothered, Not Bewildered)'
Artist - Suzanna Ross

For those not in the know, Suzanna Ross sings in New York City at jazz and cabaret venues. Indeed, she has performed in NYC at many venues, including the Metropolitan Room, Don't Tell Mama, Triad Theater, Pangea, TOMI Jazz, and for the Jazz Series at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

Suzanna sings a wide range of music from jazz, French chansons, pop, to movie songs and Bossa Nova and has also sung at New Jersey's famed jazz club, Trumpets.

Her brand new album, Bewitched (Not Bothered, Not Bewildered) came out in December 2019 and is an enthralling collection of all those aforementioned musical genres and more.

1. 'Haven’t We Met'
2. 'Bewitched'
3. 'Dreamer'
4. 'Ces petits riens'
5. 'Mr. Wonderful'
6. 'Summer Me, Winter Me'
7. 'Parlez moi de lui'
8. 'My Favorite Things'
9. 'Laura'
10. 'For Me Formidable'
11. 'Come to Baby, Do!'
12. 'Over the Rainbow'
13. 'Boomerang Baby'
14. 'There’s a Kind of Hush'
15. 'Live for Life'

From the American, French, and British songbooks, melodies and lyrics from some of the best songwriters throughout the decades - classic and new - Suzanna first brings us the gentle hipsway of 'Haven't We Met' and backs that up seamlessly with the gentle finger-snappin' title track, the laid back flow of 'Dreamer,' and then both the French-sung 'Ces petits riens' and the quietly related 'Mr. Wonderful.'

The heat gets turned up a wee bit for the one-two jazz punch of 'Summer Me, Winter Me' which is followed by another French-sung ballad in 'Parlez moi de lui,' and then the Christmas bounce and sway of 'My Favorite Things.'

The piano-led beauty 'Laura' (a theme song from the 1944 film noir) is also one of my personal favorites and that's then backed by the late night, smoky club vibe of 'For Me Formidable,' and then the foot-tappin' jaunt 'Come to Baby, Do!'

This quite delightful, fresh and breezy new album then rounds out with a heart-rendering 'Over the Rainbow,' the upright bass-backed 'Boomerang Baby,' and then comes to a close with the pop elegance of 'There’s a Kind of Hush,' and then finally the lush ballad 'Live for Life.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Suzanna Ross @ Facebook

Title - 'Brown Book'
Artist - Denise Mangiardi

For those not in the know, vocalist/composer Denise Mangiardi is an award winning jazz singer and classical composer hailing from New York City currently living in London, England (where she runs ‘Alices Loft’ recording studio where she helps other artist produce their works).

Denise has also received her masters and post graduate in composition from Trinity Laban in London and is a prolific classical composer; having written 3 full-scale orchestral works as well as many chamber pieces.

The quality and uniqueness of her work has meant she has received numerous commissions for her classical talents, including "Songs of the Rainforest". This full-scale orchestral piece had its world premier performed by Orchestra Toronto in December 2012.

After taking a break from recording to focus on her aforementioned London studio, Denise has just released her latest album, Brown Book. An album that incorporates all that is great about the genre, it also allows us to quickly note that her beautiful voice has been absent from our lives for just far too long.

1. 'Soundscapes 1'
2. 'The Exchange'
3. 'Brown Book'
4. 'Day Time Kind of Girl'
5. 'Horn Song'
6. 'My Beauty'
7. 'Castle in the Sky'
8. 'Red Bouquet'
9. 'Waves'
10. 'Soundscapes 2'

Opening with the unveiling beauty of 'Soundscapes 1,' she blends that seamlessly with both the beguiling majesty of 'The Exchange,' the storytelling of the title track 'Brown Book,' and then the sexy allure of 'Day Time Kind of Girl.'

The longest track on the album, the jazzy hipsway of the near-eight minute 'Horn Song' is then followed by the smooth 'My Beauty,' and then the upright bass-led 'Castle in the Sky.'

This quite stunningly perceived and orchestrated new album then rounds out with the folky 'Red Bouquet,' the orchestral soundscape elegance of 'Waves,' and then comes to a close with the short, yet vibrantly assertive 'Soundscapes 2.'

Musicians: Denise Mangiardi - vocals; Mark Soskin - Piano; Jay Anderson - bass; Tony DaGradi - Tenor; Maurizio Ravalico - Percussion, and Jeff Boudreaux - drums.

This wondrous new album also features Tenor players Dave O’Higgins and Jerry Bergonzi, as well as New Orleans-based Brian Seeger on guitar, along with 5 orchestral arrangements composed by Denise for a 32 piece string orchestra.

Official Digital Purchase Link

Denise Mangiardi @ Facebook

Title - 'Shark NATO on a Plane'
Artist - Funk Shui NYC

For those not in the know, New York City can be loud, dense, and funky!

It can make you smile and want to dance and it also possesses a unique beauty and energy.

Funk Shui NYC plays music that represents this great metropolis allowing listeners to hear from the very first played note that the band enjoys playing together.

The 13 member band plays funk, lounge and even rock music with all its members being some of New York City's well known free lance musicians.

Indeed, after several years of playing in groups as sidemen, Dave Morgan and Rob Susman saw an opportunity to make our their music current, relevant, intricate, and a blast!

They were able to attract players who were technically skilled and creatively minded and who, as they put it, didn't want to be so serious all the time!

After a few years of playing in New York City night clubs, they decided to record some of the material and so have just released their ZOHO debut recording, Shark NATO on a Plane!

1. 'Shark NATO on a Plane'
2. 'July Groove/September Funk'
3. 'What Barney' (The Barney Miller Theme)
4. 'Summertime'
5. 'Into the Fourth Dimension'
6. 'Professional Development'
7. 'Rock Bottom'
8. 'Blue Jay Way'
9. 'I Feel Free'
10. 'Everything I Gonna Do Gonna Be Funky'

Featuring all-new compositions, arrangements and solos that represent the pride, joy and humor of Funk Shui NYC's members, they open with the bombastic title track 'Shark NATO on a Plane' and back that up with the addictively funky beats of 'July Groove/September Funk.'

The old school swing beats, inclusive of the melodic line from the long running TV show, of 'What Barney' (The Barney Miller Theme) are next and are backed by both the hold-the-phone introduction and melodies of the George Gershwin tune 'Summertime,' and then the equally hypnotic layers contained within 'Into the Fourth Dimension.'

Next comes one of my own personal favorites in the funky boogie shuffle of 'Professional Development,' which they follow nicely with the layered 'Rock Bottom,' and then comes the triumphant psychedelic work of George Harrison's 'Blue Jay Way.'

This most vibrant, and fresh of albums then rounds out with the euphoric tribute to Ginger Baker on 'I Feel Free' and then comes to a close with the fervent retro lounge appeal of 'Everything I Gonna Do Gonna Be Funky.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Funk Shui NYC @ Facebook

Title - 'All Things Go'
Artist - Mighty Oaks

For those not in the know, Mighty Oaks (and definitely not to be confused with the psychedelic rock group from Canada with the same name) are an indie/folk rock trio made up of Ian Hooper (US), Claudio Donzelli (Italy) and Craig Saunders (UK).

Based in Berlin, Germany, they formed in 2010 and in early 2014 they released their first LP, Howl, on Universal Records.

The album peaked at #10 on the Official German charts with several singles charting as well. They have since released a second LP, Dreamers (2017), and an EP, Storm (2017), and on February 7th, 2020 they released their third full-length album, All Things Go.

1. 'All Things Go'
2. 'I Need You Now'
3. 'Tell Me What You're Thinking'
4. 'Forget Tomorrow'
5. 'Lost Again'
6. 'Aileen'
7. 'What You Got'
8. 'Crazy'
9. 'Fly To You'
10. 'Light the World on Fire'
11. 'Kids'

This quite brilliant new album begins by invoking lush, harmonious folk melodies on the title track, before bringing us the pull of past relationships within the pairing of 'I Need You Now' and the pleading of 'Tell Me What You're Thinking.'

The pop bounce of 'Forget Tomorrow' makes for a lovely windows down, summer drive and those tight, three-part harmonies and effusive, largely acoustic-driven folk anthems are back on both 'Lost Again' and 'Aileen.'

Their upbeat pop sense is shown perfectly again on the fervent 'What You Got' which is followed by the lighters up, stadium balladeering of 'Crazy.'

The beautiful 'Fly To You' is my own personal favorite here and then the album rounds out with the anthemic 'Light the World on Fire,' and comes to a close on their lyrically artistic viewpoint of our world today within 'Kids.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Mighty Oaks @ Facebook

Title - 'Rising'
Artist - Thor

For those not following along at home, the mighty Thor unleashes yet another storm of metallic fury with this all new studio album!

Featuring Thor’s classic ’80s metal sound combined with modern influences to create a potent blend of old and new that has kept this metal Viking thriving for over 4 decades, Rising is released February 28th, 2020 via Deadline Music / Cleopatra Records.

For those not in the know, Thor actually started out as a concept band in 1973.

They were first called Centaur and then Mikl Body Rock, both of which were the brainchild of Jon Mikl, a vocalist, musician and body building champion who won titles such as Mr. USA and Mr. Canada.

It was around that time that Mikl decided to combine muscle with music and thusly, Mikl Body Rock toured throughout North America seeking fame and to garnish enough attention to secure a record deal (which, of course, they did).

At the time the press dubbed them "Kings of Muscle Rock" or "Warriors of Gladiator Rock" and Mikl and his band loved every second of it.

1. 'Wormhole'
2. 'Defend Or Die'
3. 'The Game Is On! (Stadium Mix)'
4. 'We. Will. Destroy. You.'
5. 'The Rut'
6. 'Rising'
7. 'The Party Never Ends'
8. 'Power Mask'
9. 'Son Of Thunder'
10. 'Starmaster'

Here on their brand new 10-track album Rising, it's obvious straight from the off that nothing has changed within their sound; and for that we must salute them!

The Canadian metal God Thor and his band (Ted Jedlicki, Bass; Tom Croxton, Drums; Matt Hamilton, Guitar, and co-producer by Kevin Stuart Swain) bring forth one hell of a loud and proud album here, trust me.

Thor immediately gets down and dirty on the heavy opening duo 'Wormhole' and 'Defend Or Die,' which showcase the dedication to the cause of both Jedlicki and Hamilton, before launching into the melodic rock of 'The Game Is On! (Stadium Mix)' and then crunching 'We. Will. Destroy. You.'

Following in much the same vein, 'The Rut' is next and then come the two tracks co-written by Swain, title track 'The Rising' and then the prolific 'The Party Never Ends.'

Heading into the final bend and we get Mikl's track 'Power Mask' (written about love, about how when you break up with someone you tend to wear a mask for a while after to hide the pain), and then the album comes to a close with the powerhaus duo of 'Son Of Thunder' and 'Starmaster.'

Oh, and just so you are fully aware, the Rising album is also available on both CD and limited edition GOLD vinyl!

Official CD Purchase Link

Official GOLD Vinyl Purchase Link

Thor @ Facebook!

Title - 'Gary Wilson is Tormented'
Artist - Gary Wilson

For those not following along at home, the brand new album from the twisted mind of weird music pioneer Gary Wilson was just released this past Valentine's Day!

Entitled Gary Wilson is Tormented (out now via Cleopatra Records), it's the most of days to experience the oddly romantic, broken soul yearnings that inflect every note of Wilson's oeuvre!

Gary Wilson is an experimental musician/performance artist best known for his 1977 album You Think You Really Know Me, after which he promptly retired from recording and performing concerts!

He slowly gained a strong cult following during the 1980s and 1990s, and in the early 2000s became active again. His last album, The King of Endicott was released February 8th, 2019.

1. 'A Special Day'
2. 'Happy Birthday to My Girl'
3. 'Life with the Sin Eater'
4. 'The Sin Eater'
5. 'You Looked Cool in Outer Space'
6. 'The Merry Go Round'
7. 'Midnight and You'
8. 'I Married Lisa Last Night'
9. 'It's Almost Midnight'
10. 'Frank Roma Is Tormented'
11. 'Where Did You Go'
12. 'Tormented'
13. 'Where Is Linda'
14. 'The Wind'
15. 'Gary Lives in the Twilight Zone'
16. 'A Sad Town'

Here on his brand new 16-track album Gary Wilson is Tormented, the undisputed King of weirdo bedroom rock triumphantly returns and kicks things off in his usual chatty style with the .30 second 'A Special Day' which bleeds seamlessly into the psych trip of the sing-along 'Happy Birthday to My Girl.'

'Life with the Sin Eater' is another .30 second work of instrumental wonderment and that's followed by the happy hippy vibe of 'The Sin Eater.' Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the dreamy and free flowing 'You Looked Cool in Outer Space' which is backed by the minute long storytelling of 'The Merry Go Round.'

Wilson's brand of off the cuff melodies is symbolized perfectly on the pop jaunt of 'Midnight and You' which is backed by another minute long instrumental piano cut, 'I Married Lisa Last Night.'

The psych dancefloor shuffle of 'It's Almost Midnight' is pure, unadulterated joy to behold, with the musically, and purposely all-over-the-place short 'Frank Roma Is Tormented' up next.

Wilson gets back on musical track with 'Where Did You Go,' before the spoken word title cut 'Tormented' is upon us. The upbeat and jovial 'Where Is Linda' is another solid cut, and is backed by the minute long trippy meandering of 'The Wind.'

This highly eclectic album then rounds out with the fun 'Gary Lives in the Twilight Zone' and comes to a close on the spoken word storytelling of 'A Sad Town.'

Official CD Purchase Link

Gary Wilson @ Facebook!

Title - 'Not My God'
Artist - Not My God

For those not in the know, two leaders of underground industrial – Tim Sköld (ex-Marilyn Manson) and Nero Bellum – have combined forces on this debut album for their brand new project, Not My God.

Featuring 13 all-new compositions of pulsating, throbbing industrial matched with darkly disturbing lyrical themes – none created for the faint of heart - The pair are no strangers to working together, having both served as live bandmembers for the other's projects — Sköld as the guitarist for Psyclon 9 and Bellum as the keyboardist for Sköld.

However, their new Not My God project marks their first artistic collaboration, writing and recording together on a studio album.

1. 'Fiction'
2. 'Until The Pain Is Gone'
3. 'Sowing Discord'
4. 'Murder Suicide'
5. 'Equalizer'
6. 'Birthright'
7. 'Decay, Decay'
8. 'First Blood'
9. 'Nevermore'
10. 'Right Now'
11. 'Persephone'
12. 'Cold Black'
13. '13'

The NIN-esque approach to 'Fiction' opens your mind to what could have been a heavily melodic, albeit industrially weighty album, but things immediately, and thematically, change soon thereafter.

The Gary Numan-esque 'Until The Pain Is Gone' is backed by the plodding 'Sowing Discord' and 'Murder Suicide,' before we get somewhat back on industrial synth track with 'Equalizer.'

The pace slows again for the lumbering 'Birthright' with the Gothic overtones of the two men coming to the fore on 'Decay, Decay.' 'First Blood' takes our guys back into the darkness of the underground, with the Goth synch hammer punches of 'Nevermore' backing it perfectly.

As the album rounds out, we get the best track on the album (for me, anyway) the industrial electronica of 'Right Now,' the revealing 'Persephone,' and then the album comes to a close with the steely, stirring 'Cold Black,' and then the aptly titled thirteenth, and final track, '13.'

Oh, and just so you are fully aware, the Not My God album is also available on both CD (in a special digipak case) and limited edition CLEAR 2LP vinyl (only 300 made!)

Official CD Purchase Link

Official CLEAR 2LP Vinyl Purchase Link

Official Not My God - 'Fiction' Music Video!

Title - 'Zobop'
Artist - Henrik Cederblom

For those not in the know, Swedish guitarist Henrik Cederblom has just released yet another quite masterful 8-track album entitled Zobop (via Kakafon Records) that melds his devout love for 21st century instrumental jazz-fusion and ethnic Scandinavian folk music.

What's that? You've never heard of such a thing? Well, trust me when I say if ever there was music to be heard, to be absorbed, to be devoured within the head, heart and soul, it's anything brought forth by the uber talented Cederblom.

1. 'Giragala'
2. 'Fillevaeren'
3. 'Franx'
4. 'Sköldpaddan'
5. 'Drömmen'
6. 'Happy Buddha'
7. 'Zobop'
8. 'Bergrummet'

On an album where ambience, traditional folk, classical and in many ways soundtrack elements are combined together with some rather transcendent work, the album begins with the free flowing beauty of 'Giragala' which is backed by the upbeat jazz notes of 'Fillevaeren,' the drifting Americana of 'Franx,' and then my own personal favorite, the melodic meandering of 'Sköldpaddan.'

Another jazz-weaved gem is 'Drömmen' which is backed seamlessly by the gentle one-two rhythms of 'Happy Buddha,' and then this quite exquisite album rounds out with the frenetic title track 'Zobop,' coming to a close with the structured metabolism of 'Bergrummet.'

Musicians: Henrik Cederblom, electric guitars, lap steel; Viktor Turegård, electric bass; Tapha Ndiongue, drums; Sten Källman, sax, percussion; and Finn Björnulfson, percussion on 'Zobop.

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Henrik Cederblom @ Facebook!

Title - 'Nights at the Surf Motel'
Artist - Håkon Høye

A dash of soul, a pinch of gospel, a spoonful of blues and pint of good ol' Rock 'n' Roll perfectly captures the ambiance and spirit behind the just released Nights At The Surf Motel (via Big H Records), Håkon Høye's sophomore album.

Filled with originals penned in collaboration with long time co-writer Bill Troiani, the magnificent 10-track album is steeped in classic Blues, Rock and Americana; but the lyrics are contemporary.

Ergo, what we get is rather much a noir love affair of anticipation, longing, good times, lost love and, of course, turmoil.

1. 'Junkyard of Dreams'
2. 'Stay Awhile'
3. 'One Floor Down'
4. 'Good Thing'
5. 'You Must Believe Me'
6. 'Sweet Sugar You'
7. 'My Darkest Hour'
8. 'Time Will Tell'
9. 'Wastin' Time with You'
10.'Nights at the Surf Motel'

Kicking things of in mighty fine piano blues style, up first is the foot-tapper 'Junkyard of Dreams' which is backed by the balladeering of 'Stay Awhile,' the uber funky 'One Floor Down,' and then both the slow-poke grind of 'Good Thing' and the Motown-esque, finger-snappin' beauty 'You Must Believe Me.'

Next up is the mid-tempo crawl of 'Sweet Sugar You' which is followed by 'My Darkest Hour,' which brings Høye's impeccably honed guitar skills to the fore.

The album then rounds out with the buzzy dusty Americana road cut 'Time Will Tell,' the jittery lo-fo funk of 'Wastin' Time with You,' and then comes to a close with the late night, smoky underground bar, blues-jazz fusion, 'Nights at the Surf Motel.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Håkon Høye @ Facebook!

Title - 'Far From Home'
Artist - Aubrie Sellers

For those not in the know, Aubrie Sellers is an American country music singer and songwriter.

Oh, and she is also the daughter of singer/songwriters Jason Sellers and Lee Ann Womack; and the stepdaughter of music producer Frank Liddell.

Sellers's debut album, New City Blues, was released on January 29th, 2016, through Carnival Music with many of the songs co-written with Adam Wright.

She was also featured on Dr. Ralph's 2015 album, Ralph Stanley and Friends: A Man of Constant Sorrow, where she sang 'White Dove' with her mother, Lee Ann Womack.

Well, rising singer/songwriter Aubrie Sellers has just released her brand new sophomore album, Far From Home this past February 7th, 2020, via Soundly Music, and trust me when I say that it's a stone cold doozy!

On an album where her terrific voice melds seamlessly together with wondrous orchestrations, Aubrie and producer Liddell have produced a quite breathtakingly emotive new album.

1. 'Far From Home'
2. 'My Love Will Not Change' (featuring Steve Earle)
3. 'Lucky Charm'
4. 'Worried Mind'
5. 'Drag You Down'
6. 'Going Places'
7. 'Glad'
8. 'Haven't Even Kissed Me Yet'
9. 'Troublemaker'
10. 'Run'
11. 'Under The Sun'
12. 'One Town's Trash'

This highly affective new album opens with the yearning of the title track, 'Far From Home,' and backs that up seamlessly with the Steve Earle-infused, twangin' foot-stomper 'My Love Will Not Change,' the mid-tempo, fuzzy guitar vibe of 'Lucky Charm,' and then both the haunting 'Worried Mind' and the poppy 'Drag You Down.'

The tempo gets slowed down for the trippy 'Going Places' which is backed by the drum-led beat of 'Glad,' the balladeering of 'Haven't Even Kissed Me Yet,' and then the Americana/country rock of 'Troublemaker.'

The album then rounds out with the longingly thoughtful gaze of 'Run,' the mid-tempo country of 'Under The Sun,' and then comes to a close with the upbeat fun ride of 'One Town's Trash.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Aubrie Sellers @ Facebook!

Aubrie Sellers @ Twitter!

Title - 'Death Club 1981-1993' [CD+DVD]
Artist - Christian Death

For those not in the know, Christian Death is an American gothic rock band formed in Orange County, California, in 1979 by Rozz Williams.

With major line-up changes over the years, Christian Death has retained their relentlessly confrontational stand against organized religion and conventional morality throughout.

Williams was eventually joined by guitarist Rikk Agnew of the band Adolescents, James McGearty on bass guitar and George Belanger on drums.

Indeed, this line-up was responsible for producing the band's best known work, their 1982 debut album Only Theatre of Pain, which was highly influential in the development of the style of music known as deathrock; as well as on the American gothic scene which also produced bands such as Kommunity FK and 45 Grave.

Following the release of Only Theatre of Pain, Christian Death's line-up had fallen apart, and by the time of the band's second album, Catastrophe Ballet (1984), Rozz was joined by Valor Kand of tour mates Pompeii 99 on vocals and guitar.

Following the release of the band's third album, Ashes, in 1985, Williams left the band and was controversially replaced by Valor as frontperson of the band, with no original members of the band remaining, causing a divide in the band's fanbase that has continued to this day.

Releasing on March 13th, 2020 via Cleopatra Records, Death Club 1981-1993 is an ultra rare live concert film of Christian Death from 1990.

Featuring original band founder Williams on lead vocals along with Eva O, it also brings to the fore Rikk Agnew on guitars, Casey Chaos on bass, and Vic (Cujo) on drums.

1. 'Dogs' (2:54)
2. 'Deathwish' (2:14)
3. 'Cavity - First Communion' (4:09)
4. 'Rome's Distress' (3:17)
5. 'Cervix Couch' (4:59)
6. 'The Drowning' (4:02)
7. 'Ashes' (7:16)
8. 'The Luxury Of Tears' (6:59)
9. 'Spectre' (3:56)
10. 'Haloes' (3:40)
11. 'This Mirage' (2:24)
12. 'The Angels (Cruciform)' (3:53)
13. 'Venus In Furs' (5:20)
14. 'Psalm (Maggots Lair)' (3:36)
15. Audio Interview With Rozz Williams (11:58)
16. Christian Death vs Creux Lies - 'Spiritual Cramp (Halloween 2019)' [Bonus Track]

Live at The Mason Jar, January 14th, 1990
1. 'Intro
2. 'Cavity - First Communion'
3. 'Figurative Theatre'
4. 'Burnt Offerings'
5. 'Dodo'
6. 'Mysterium Iniquitatis'
7. 'Dream For Mother'
8. 'Spiritual Cramp'
9. 'Romeo's Distress'
10. 'Resurrection - Sixth Communion'
11. 'Deathwish'
12. 'Sleepwalk'
13. 'Dogs'
14. 'Cavity - First Communion' (Media Blitz TV Performance)
15. 'Romeo's Distress' (Media Blitz TV Performance)
16. Interview with Rozz Williams & Christian Death
17. Interview with Rikk Agnew

Simply put, Death Club 1981-1993 is essentially to Christian Death/Rozz fans what Crackle is to Bauhaus devotees - a sampler of the bands best years with Rozz as frontman, plus some extra little goodies to make this CD+DVD package worth buying to anyone who already owns all of the albums highlighted here.

The only album cuts NOT included are those from The Iron Mask (understandably, as it's only re-recordings of most of these songs anyway), The Rage Of Angels and Christian Death's various live releases, which weren't particularly good anyways.

Included though are the semi-hard to find Invocations studio cuts, which include 'Haloes', 'This Mirage' and the rarer Spectre (Love Is Dead)' as well as plenty of DVD extras - including their show live at The Mason Jar on January 14th, 1990, their wicked excellent appearance on Media Blitz, and also interviews with both Rozz and Rikk Agnew from the bands early days.

For the uninitiated, buy this CD+DVD and think of it as Christian Death footnotes. Then go buy the albums you can find still. For established Rozz fans the rare inclusions and DVD extras make this a must have to complete the Christian Death history and should be accompanied with a purchase of their Shadow Project DVD … And Then There Was Death.

As noted, this two-disc Deluxe Digi-Pak also includes a Bonus Audio concert CD and a rather brilliants 12-page booklet inside!

Amazon CD+DVD Combo Purchase Link

Christian Death @ Facebook!

Title - 'New Shoes: Kind of Blue at 60' [2CD]
Artist - Schapiro 17

For those not in the know, New York big band Schapiro 17's brand new album re-imagines Miles Davis' legendary, and ultimately landmark album Kind of Blue by turning the music into virtually new compositions using Davis' tunes as the starting point.

Here on this stunning new 2CD set New Shoes: Kind of Blue at 60 (out April 10th, 2020 via Summit Classical), Schapiro 17 (led by Jon Schapiro) translate the lean sound of the sextet that assembled in the spring of 1959 into the widescreen colors of a jazz ensemble in the tradition of the Ellington and Basie bands of the '40s.

CD 1:
1. 'Boiled Funk' (11:54)
2. 'Foiled Bunk' (3:05)
3. 'So What' (14:03)
4. 'Boiled Funk 2: Dark Of Night' (3:55)
5. 'Blue In Green' (10:02)

CD 2:
1. 'Boiled Funk 3: Worth Your While' (2:26)
2. 'All Blues' (12:08)
3. 'Boiled Funk 4: Old Feet, New Shoes' (5:14)
4. 'Flamenco Sketches' (9:52)
5. 'Boiled Funk 5: A Smile' (5:41)
6. 'Freddie Freeloader' (12:25)
7. 'Boiled Funk / Theme' (4:28)

Listening to the new orchestrations, it's plainly obvious that sometimes the sound hints at the sort of orchestration you hear on Charles Mingus records; such as the brilliant Ah-Um (recorded the same year as Kind of Blue and in the same room - the Columbia church studio on East 30th street).

That Schapiro and many of his band members took part in the BMI workshops taught by Jim McNeely (himself influenced by the founding instructor of the workshop Bob Brookmeyer), accounts in part for the unique inheritance of this tradition of orchestrated jazz.

In Schapiro's scores this is not at all a form of antiquarianism but of pushing that style to the outer limits of invention without ever ceasing to swing.

The Miles tunes are intercut with original charts, six pieces all called 'Boiled Funk.' The title is a rearrangement of the letters k i n d o f b l u e, and while the resulting music is not exactly funky, the anagram is a good way to think about what it means to make new things from a set of given elements.

The whole recording is in a fundamental way true to the spirit of Miles' restless and mercurial inventiveness as he was, in addition to so many other things, a powerful and original interpreter of other people's tunes.

Opening with the exquisite piano and horns of 'Boiled Funk,' it's obviously not quite correct to say that New Shoes: Kind of Blues at 60 features arrangements of the five songs on Miles's album.

Moreover, they are more like entirely new compositions, which happen to take the Miles material as a starting point.

Works such as the pronounced piano work from Roberta Piket on 'Foiled Bunk,' the free flowing jam of 'So What,' and both the stringent horn work of 'Boiled Funk 2: Dark of Night' and the lush swing of 'Blue In Green,' all come together to produce a quite magnificent, breezy yet cultured first disc.

The frenetic, yet at all times steadied trumpet work of 'Boiled Funk 3: Worth Your While' is a masterful way to open the second disc and is backed seamlessly by the exuberant 'All Blues,' the funky horns of 'Boiled Funk 4: Old Feet, New Shoes,' and both the lush 'Flamenco Sketches' and the gentle, dance hall passion sway of 'Boiled Funk 5: A Smile.'

The second disc then rounds out with the horn orchestrations of 'Freddie Freeloader,' with the finger-snappin' hipsway of 'Boiled Funk / Theme' bringing the new set to a triumphant close.

Musicians: Jon Schapiro (composer, conductor, arranger); Bryan Davis (trumpet); Andy Gravish (trumpet); Eddie Allen (trumpet); Noyes Bartholomew (trumpet); Deborah Weisz (trombone); Alex Jeun (trombone); Nick Grinder (trombone); Walter Harris (bass trombone); Rob Wilkerson (alto saxophone); Ben Kono (alo saxophone); Candace DeBartolo (also saxophone); Paul Carlon (tenor saxophone); Rob Middleton (tenor saxophone); Matt Hong (baritone saxophone); Roberta Piket (piano); Sebastian Noelle (guitar), Evan Gregor (bass)l; and Jon Wikan (drums).

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Schapiro 17 @ Facebook

Title - 'Passion Flower: The Music of Billy Strayhorn'
Artist - John DiMartino

For those not in the know, John diMartino is a composer, arranger, jazz pianist producer and educator, based in New York City.

John has recorded numerous CDs on the High Note and Venus Records (Japan) labels as a leader, and with Freddy Cole, Gloria Lynn, Houston Person, and Nicki Parrott.

Featuring Raul Midon, Eric Alexander, Boris Kozlov, and Lewis Nash, and “Mazel” (Yiddish Songs, re-imagined) with Janis Siegel, DiMartino will be releasing his brand new album Passion Flower: The Music Of Billy Staryhorn this April 10th, 2020 (via Sunnyside Communications, Inc).

1. 'Johnny Come Lately'
2. 'Lush Life'
3. 'Rain Check'
4. 'Star-Crossed Lovers (Pretty Girl)'
5. 'Isfahan (Elf)'
6. 'Chelsea Bridge'
7. 'Daydream'
8. 'Passion Flower'
9. 'U.M.M.G'
10. 'Blood Count'
11. 'Take the a Train'
12. 'A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing'
13. 'Absinthe (Lament for An Orchid)'
14. 'Lotus Blossom'

Here on Passion Flower: The Music Of Billy Staryhorn, John and his all-star quartet swing their collective way through 14 of Strayhorn's most significant compositions.

Combining inventive solos with momentum-flowing panache, the album begins with the mid-tempo, finger-snappin' beauty of 'Johnny Come Lately' and then follows that with the ornate 'Lush Life' (featuring Raul Midon on vocals).

Next up is the joyous soft shoe shuffle of 'Rain Check' which is in turn backed with the quietly elegant bossa nova of 'Star-Crossed Lovers (Pretty Girl),' and then their rendition of one of Strayhorn's finest works, the spiritedly pleasing 'Isfahan (Elf).'

Next up is the aching ballad 'Chelsea Bridge' and the playful 'Daydream' (in 3/4 time) and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the late night, underground smoky jazz club vibe of the title track itself, 'Passion Flower.'

The uptempo swing of 'U.M.M.G' is then followed by a rather haunting duo performance of 'Blood Count' (Strayhorn's very last composition), with the up-tempo frenetic, yet controlled brilliance of 'Take the a Train' along next.

This quite magnificent new album then rounds out with a thoughtful piano rendition of the ballad 'A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing,' Strayhorn's lesser known work 'Absinthe (Lament for An Orchid),' and then comes to a close on another tender piano rendition, this time for 'Lotus Blossom.'

Musicians: John Di Martino - piano, arrangements; Eric Alexander - tenor saxophone; Boris Kozlov - bass; Lewis Nash - drums; and Raul Midon - vocal ('Lush Life').

Amazon CD Purchase Link

John DiMartino @ Facebook

Title - 'The Complete Keen Years: 1957-1960'
Artist - Sam Cooke

For those not in the complete know, and kicking off a year-long celebration of the 90th anniversary of Sam Cooke’s birth, starting this January 24th, 2020, ABKCO Records have released the magnificently remastered, and extensive 5CD Box-Set The Complete Keen Years: 1957-1960.

The Complete Keen Years: 1957–1960, collects Sam Cooke’s body of work as he began releasing secular albums, stepping away from The Soul Stirrers where he found great success as a gospel singer.

Indeed, Cooke had been releasing and dominating the gospel sales market over the six years previous to 'You Send Me' and 'Summertime' being released.

Most avid fans know of Cooke's meteoric rise to fame with his first Keen recording of 'You Send Me,' a record that sold the world over into the millions.

However, few of his newer fans know of his early training and experience with groups of gospel and spiritual singers, among them the aforementioned Soul Stirrers and the Pilgrim Travelers.

An experience that, to a great extent, prepared Cooke for the long, hard road to stardom and fame.

Indeed, it was not until Cooke divorced himself from the Soul Stirrers that he began to sing in the popular vein. But in leaving – for the most part – the spiritual field of music, Sam still kept one of the most important elements in spiritual singing and transferred it into his popular vocalizing. - his sense of sincerity.

For it is this natural quality of expression that helped to mold Cooke’s future in the field of popular music.

Within this newly remastered collection are his unique versions of standards alongside performances that showcase his songwriting skills.

Sam Cooke defined himself as a voice ahead of his time elevating the sound of soul at the turn of the decade.

The Complete Keen Years: 1957–1960 offers the Sam Cooke aficionado an opportunity to experience all of Cooke’s Keen album and single tracks for a comprehensive overview of his time at the label.

The 5-CD set includes the content of his five originally released Keen LPs plus multiple bonus tracks, a total of 65 tracks in all.

Also included in this box are rare photographs and ephemera from the Keen archives alongside voluminous liner notes by writer Michael Corcoran.

Disc 1 – Sam Cooke (originally released on Keen in 1958)
1) 'You Send Me'
2) 'The Lonesome Road'
3) 'Tammy' 5) 'Moonlight In Vermont'
6) 'Canadian Sunset'
7) 'Summertime, Pt. 2'
8) 'Around the World'
9) 'Ain’t Misbehavin’'
10) 'The Bells of St. Mary’s'
11) 'So Long' 12) 'That Lucky Old Sun'

The first volume of the set offers the thirteen tracks that comprise Cooke’s 1958 LP debut for Keen Records, simply titled Sam Cooke (and also known as Songs By Sam Cooke).

Presented in mono and featuring the Bumps Blackwell Orchestra as the backing band, the perfect mix of rhythm and blues, traditional pop, and swing meant that when Cooke's voice was added there was simply no way the album couldn't chart!

And chart it did, for complete with the lush orchestrations of the lead single 'You Send Me,' the album that also included 'Summertime (Part 2),' 'Ain’t Misbehavin’,' 'That Lucky Old Sun' and also 'Danny Boy,' went up to #16 on the Billboard Album Charts.

Disc 2 – Encore (originally released on Keen in 1958)
1) 'Oh, Look at Me Now'
2) 'Someday'
3) 'Along the Navajo Trail'
4) 'Running Wild'
5) 'Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive'
6) 'Mary, Mary Lou'
7) 'When I Fall in Love'
8) 'I Cover the Waterfront'
9) 'My Foolish Heart'
10) 'Today I Sing the Blues'
11) 'The Gypsy'
12) 'It’s the Talk of the Town'

Once again backed by Bumps Blackwell, the cover art depicts the singer swinging with jazz musicians behind him, which is just the most perfect illustration of the sound of the album.

On this second album in the set, Cooke kicks things off with 'Oh, Look at Me Now' (a song strongly associated with Frank Sinatra, who first recorded it with Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra) and never looks back!

Including other such Cooke-interpreted standards as 'Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,' 'When I Fall In Love,' 'I Cover the Waterfront,' and 'The Gypsy,' the album is a tight doozy of a euphoric sound, that's for sure.

Disc 3 – Tribute to The Lady (originally released on Keen in 1959)
1) 'God Bless the Child'
2) 'She’s Funny That Way'
3) 'I’ve Gotta Right to Sing the Blues'
4) 'Good Morning Heartache'
5) 'Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness (If I Do)'
6) 'Comes Love'
7) 'Lover Girl (Man)'
8) 'Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off'
9) 'Lover Come Back to Me'
10) 'Solitude'
11) 'They Can’t Take That Away from Me'
12) 'Crazy She Calls Me'

Sam Cooke’s elegant 1959 salute to Billie Holiday, Tribute to The Lady, is the third album here in this box-set, and is also brought forth in mono (as originally recorded and released).

As aforementioned, the album was recorded in tribute to jazz vocalist Billie Holiday, who died later that year, but the session that covers a select group of songs from her catalog must have been a magnificently joyous occasion; listening now, once again to his renditions of her songs.

All the tracks are songs the incomparable Lady Day made famous, and as Cooke presents this humble musical salute to her, it brings back many nostalgic memories of days listening to her music in my back yard on a beautiful sunny day.

Trust me when I say that this is a sincere tribute by a young Cooke, who had the skill and vocal finesse to inject many of the same heart warming qualities and feelings into a song that the great Lady Day had.

Inclusive of 'God Bless The Child,' 'I’ve Gotta Right To Sing The Blues,' 'Good Morning, Heartache' and 'Crazy She Calls Me,' Cooke found his voice not by imitating popular singers but weaving his own interpretation of songs made notable by others.

Disc 4 – Hit Kit (originally released on Keen in 1959)
1) 'Only Sixteen'
2) 'All of My Life'
3) 'Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha'
5) 'Win Your Love For Me'
6) 'Lonely Island'
7) 'You Send Me'
8) 'Love You Most of All'
9) '(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons'
10) 'Little Things You Do'
11) 'Let’s Go Steady Again'
12) 'You Were Made For Me'
13) 'Lonely Island' (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
14) 'Win Your Love For Me' (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
15) 'Almost In Your Arms (Theme from Houseboat)' (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
16) 'Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha' (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
17) 'Little Things You Do' (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
18) 'Only Sixteen' (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
19) 'Let’s Go Steady Again' (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
20) 'With You' (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
21) 'Ee-I-Ee-I-Oh a/k/a Ee-Yi-Ee-Yi-Oh' (Stereo) [Bonus Track]

The aptly named Hit Kit, when originally released by Keen in 1959 was a compilation of the singer’s most popular songs and they comprise the first 12 tracks on the fourth disc in the set.

The package of previously released singles was assembled, according to sources at the time, for "quick commercial consumption," and comes complete with the original mono versions of 'Only Sixteen,' 'Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha,' 'Win Your Love For Me' and 'You Were Made For Me.'

Featuring some totally smoking up-tempo tunes, wailing ballads, and even interesting pop and novelty material, Hit Kit was Cooke at his commercial peak in the early '60s and is, all by itself, well worth having in your collection.

Those 12 tracks are now augmented here by a quite wondrous nine bonus tracks including six rare stereo Keen singles.

Disc 5 – The Wonderful World Of Sam Cooke (originally released on Keen in 1960)
1) '(What A) Wonderful World'
2) 'Desire Me'
3) 'Summertime, Pt. 1'
4) 'Almost in Your Arms (from “Houseboat”)'
5) 'That’s Heaven to Me'
6) 'No One (Can Ever Take Your Place)'
7) 'With You'
8) 'Blue Moon'
9) 'Stealing Kisses'
10) 'You Were Made for Me'
11) 'There I’ve Said It Again'
12) 'I Thank God'
13) 'Steal Away' (Album Version) [Bonus Track]
14) 'Deep River' [Bonus Track]
15) 'One Hour Ahead of the Posse' [Bonus Track]
16) 'Ee-I-Ee-I-Oh a/k/a Ee-Yi-Ee-Yi-Oh' [Bonus Track]
17) 'So Glamorous' [Bonus Track]
18) 'Steal Away' (Single Version) [Bonus Track]

Cooke’s last album release for Keen was The Wonderful World Of Sam Cooke and took its title from '(What A) Wonderful World,' written by Cooke with Lou Adler and Herb Alpert; the latter music industry legends were on staff at Keen at that time.

An early soul masterpiece that continues to stand the test of time, it contains some of Cooke's greatest studio recordings, Inclusive of well-known hits from the peak of his career, such as '(What a) Wonderful World,' 'Desire Me,' 'No One (Can Ever Take Your Place),' and 'Summertime,' it also throws into the mix tracks that come from his spiritual background, such as both 'I Thank God' and 'That's Heaven to Me.'

The six bonus tracks include both a “gospelized” and the originally released versions of 'Steal Away' and 'Deep River' along with non-LP tracks such as both 'One Hour Ahead of the Posse' and 'So Glamorous.'

Amazon 5CD Box-Set Purchase Link

ABKCO Records @ Facebook

Title - 'Fabulous Day' [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Patsy Thompson

For those not in the know, Canadian born Singer-Songwriter Patsy Thompson made her way to Texas, and back, and now West Coast audiences will only be the better for it!

Now they can experience her rich, moving voice, raw edged rough one moment, smooth and tender the next, always dear and soulful, in songs with catchy turns of phrases and such universal themes as love, loss, dreams, and partying your socks off!

Her sound is a textured blend of driving beat, growly blues with a bit of Canada's airy accent, with some Texas twang, molded by the influence of musicians she loves: Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, KoKo Taylor, Bob Seger, and Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson to name but a few.

Here on her just-released sixth album, Fabulous Day, and having already released the precursory first single, 'I Think About You,' I have personally now listened to this new 10 track album (on vinyl, nonetheless) twice through and thus can reveal that it is, without a shadow of a doubt, a genuinely heartfelt, and emotionally honest musical gem of the highest order.

Side A:
1. 'Fabulous Day'
2. 'Neon Lights'
3. 'Picking You Up'
4. 'Dreamin'
5. 'I Can't Be In Love With You Tonight'

Side B:
6. 'Misery And Gin'
7. 'Passion'
8. 'Someone To Blame'
9. 'Joy Ride'
10. 'I Think About You'

The album kicks things off in fine style with the slow country, finger-snappin' roll of 'Fabulous Day,' and backs that up with the smooth Americana, storytelling vibe of 'Neon Lights,' and then the frenetically controlled country sing-along 'Picking You Up' (featuring Bruce Bouton - Garth Brooks - on steel guitar).

The laid back, twanging guitars of 'Dreamin' combined with Patsy's delicious vocals make this one of my own personal favorites here, and luckily for all us fans of her voice, her balladeering forté comes to the fore again on the stalwart beauty of 'I Can't Be In Love With You Tonight.'

The flip side to this vinyl album - lyrically built around new beginnings, to leave bad situations and negative people and start over - next gives us the passionate 'Misery And Gin' and then the gentle Latin hipsway of the deliciously orchestrated 'Passion.'

Our musical journey then rounds out with the rockin' country roots of 'Someone To Blame,' the majestic Americana of the foot-tappin' 'Joy Ride,' with the upbeat Christmas cut 'I Think About You' bringing the album to a close.

Patsy Thompson - Official 'Picking You Up' Music Video

Amazon Fabulous Day Digital Album Purchase Link

CD Baby 'I Think About You' Digital Single Purchase Link

Patsy Thompson @ Facebook

Patsy Thompson @ Twitter

Patsy Thompson @ Instagram

Patsy Thompson @ YouTube

Title - 'Fabulous Day'
Artist - Patsy Thompson

For those not in the know, Canadian born Singer-Songwriter Patsy Thompson made her way to Texas, and back, and now West Coast audiences will only be the better for it!

Now they can experience her rich, moving voice, raw edged rough one moment, smooth and tender the next, always dear and soulful, in songs with catchy turns of phrases and such universal themes as love, loss, dreams, and partying your socks off!

Her sound is a textured blend of driving beat, growly blues with a bit of Canada's airy accent, with some Texas twang, molded by the influence of musicians she loves: Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, KoKo Taylor, Bob Seger, and Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson to name but a few.

Here on her just-released sixth album, Fabulous Day, and having already released the precursory first single, 'I Think About You,' I have personally now listened to this new 10 track album twice through and thus can reveal that it is, without a shadow of a doubt, a genuinely heartfelt, and emotionally honest musical gem of the highest order.

1. 'Fabulous Day'
2. 'Neon Lights'
3. 'Picking You Up'
4. 'Dreamin'
5. 'I Can't Be In Love With You Tonight'
6. 'Misery And Gin'
7. 'Passion'
8. 'Someone To Blame'
9. 'Joy Ride'
10. 'I Think About You'

The album kicks things off in fine style with the slow country, finger-snappin' roll of 'Fabulous Day,' and backs that up with the smooth Americana, storytelling vibe of 'Neon Lights,' and then the frenetically controlled country sing-along 'Picking You Up' (featuring Bruce Bouton - Garth Brooks - on steel guitar).

The laid back, twanging guitars of 'Dreamin' combined with Patsy's delicious vocals make this one of my own personal favorites here, and luckily for all us fans of her voice, her balladeering forté comes to the fore again on the stalwart beauty of 'I Can't Be In Love With You Tonight.'

Next up on this vibrant new album - one lyrically built around new beginnings, to leave bad situations and negative people and start over - is the passionate 'Misery And Gin,' and then comes the gentle Latin hipsway of the deliciously orchestrated 'Passion.'

Our musical journey then rounds out with the rockin' country roots of 'Someone To Blame,' the majestic Americana of the foot-tappin' 'Joy Ride,' with the upbeat Christmas cut 'I Think About You' bringing the album to a close.

Patsy Thompson - Official 'Picking You Up' Music Video

Amazon Fabulous Day Digital Album Purchase Link

CD Baby 'I Think About You' Digital Single Purchase Link

Patsy Thompson @ Facebook

Patsy Thompson @ Twitter

Patsy Thompson @ Instagram

Patsy Thompson @ YouTube

Title - 'Iron Starlet'
Artist - Connie Han

With the release of her 2018 Mack Avenue Music Group debut, Crime Zone, 23-year old pianist/keyboardist Connie Han seized the attention of the jazz world and firmly established herself as a fast-rising star on the scene.

That stratospheric ascent continues on her captivating follow-up, Iron Starlet, due out April 10th, 2020.

Having now listened to the recording twice through, I can definitely report that the sumptuous, yet steeled core of this new album is rooted in its rhythmic drive; anchored by the trio of Connie, bassist Ivan Taylor and drummer/producer Bill Wysaske.

They are joined by the stellar frontline of saxophonist Walter Smith III (returning from Crime Zone) and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, an ideal pairing to realize the compelling blend of sophistication and grit that Connie herself imbues into every piece.

1. 'Iron Starlet'
2. 'Nova'
3. 'Mr. Dominator'
4. 'For The O.G.'
5. 'Hello To The Wind'
6. 'Detour Ahead'
7. 'Captain's Song'
8. 'Boy Toy'
9. 'The Forsaken'
10. 'Dark Chambers'

This breathtakingly smooth, vibrantly alive sophomore album kicks things off in fine style with the electrifying title track, before slowing things down for the orchestrated pacing of 'Nova,' the mid-tempo piano key funk of 'Mr. Dominator,' the gentle frenetic work of 'For The O.G.' and then the lush 'Hello To The Wind' (complete with tempered tenor sax work from Walter Smith III).

Next up is the quietly opulent beauty of both 'Detour Ahead' and 'Captain's Song' (both showcasing how instruments barely touched, barely noticeably there in the background can still warmly embrace a track) with the upbeat 'Boy Toy' along next.

The album then rounds out with the playfully ornate 'The Forsaken,' and then comes to a close with the triumphant, almost celebratory 'Dark Chambers' (once again complete with a magnificent Walter Smith III interlude and also solid trumpet work from Jeremy Pelt).

When discussing her new album, Connie is unafraid of using the word tradition, secure in the fact that she’s not a throwback but a fresh voice inheriting a legacy of powerful voices and raw power expressed through jazz.

“This band can go from the blues to the esoteric,” she says. “But we always strive to bring out the darkness, grit and depth in this music as much as possible."

"Those are the elements that we’re inspired by and the values that we hold quite dear.”

“The intention of this music is to continue a legacy of tough, primal, raw but still intellectually engaging straight-ahead jazz,” she continues. "I am an aspiring star in this music, but I am not a naïve, uncertain girl that people wrongly associate with that term.”

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - '5 Years Of Modern Funk'
Artist - Austin Boogie Crew Records

For those not in the know, Austin Boogie Crew Records (ABC) is an independent music label specializing in modern funk, a slightly underground genre that shares its DNA with a lot of big artists like Anderson Paak, Bruno Mars, and Tuxedo.

Founded in Texas in 2014, ABC Records is on a mission to showcase the breadth of modern new music inspired by 1980's boogie, the synth-heavy sound that has remained influential since its inception and reemerged in a big way over the last decade.

Since their official launch, ABC Records has branched out across states and countries to create a diverse and inclusive catalog of artists, releasing 15 projects from 14 different artists from around the world, and moving 7,500 Vinyl records in the process.

The artists highlighted on the ABC roster are known for their ability to intertwine classic funk sounds with a myriad of other genres, including R&B, electronic, hip-hop, and even indie.

A new compilation CD showcasing the diverse talents of the ABC Records crew, 5 Years Of Modern Funk is due to be released on March 27th, 2020 and is as good as you could ever hope it would have been, trust me!

1. Diamond Ortiz - 'Goodies'
2. Solar Shield - 'Reesis'
3. Solar Shield - 'Beeturia'
4. Rojai - 'Finest Girl' (FT. Sally Green)
5. Rojai - 'So Special' (FT. G. Vargas)
6. Rojai - 'Soul Step' (FT. Sally Green)
7. Trailer Limon - 'Love Don't Pay the Bills' (FT. E. Live)
8. Trailer Limon - 'Dancing with Somebody' (FT. B. Bravo)
9. Starship Connection - 'Do It 4 U'
10. XL Middleton - 'Enjoyable Sunburn'
11. XL Middleton - 'Nervous'
12. XL Middleton - 'Digital Devils'
13. Lowmac - 'Late Nights'
14. Computa Games - 'Do Your Thing' (FT. K-Maxx)
15. Computa Games - 'Feel Right 2Nite'
16. B & the Family - 'A Good Time' (Buscrates Remix)
17. B & the Family - 'Just Want to Love Ya'
18. Moniquea - 'Closer'
19. Jonny Tobin - 'Sunrise'
20. Jonny Tobin - 'Super Genesis'
21. Spence - 'Ear to Ear'

The 21-track CD is an impressive collection of amazing artists that bridge generations, from modern funk heavy hitters like XL Middleton, to legends of the first boogie wave such as B & The Family (whose front man Brian Morgan played guitar on Rappers Delight back in '79).

San Francisco native Diamond Ortiz made his first appearance on ABC Records with 'Goodies,' a smooth but dance floor friendly EP; with that lead single being the opening track on this compilation also.

Solar Shield creates exuberant compositions that elegantly walk a tightrope between modern funk and electronic beats, and kicked off the ABC Records discography with a bang in 2014 with his 'Reesis' 45 (which backs up Ortiz's cut nicely on this new album).

Rojai (pronounced ROW-JUH ), a San Francisco born crooner, released his first soul-infused solo LP Strut Down with ABC Records. Trailer Limon has been leaving his imprint on the modern funk scene since 2010 as one half of The Pendletons with classic singles like 'Waiting On You' and 'Let Me Turn You On.'

Starship Connection members B.Bravo and Teeko have also been putting the Bay on the map for years with their unmistakable brand of hip-hop infused funk.

The first international release on ABC Records came courtesy of Swedish producer Lowmac, who draws heavily upon the G-Funk sound in his production.

Coming by way of New Orleans and San Francisco respectively, Computa Games members Quickie Mart and Kung Fu Chris make unique, heavy hitting dance cuts.

Queen of Modern Funk and prolific California singer Moniquea made waves on ABC Records with 'Closer' (which also appears here in its latter stages), an infectious electro love jam produced by Spence.

Vancouver artist Jonny Tobin is an accomplished keyboardist, songwriter, and session player known for his jazzy lo-fi sound. And last, but not least, ABC Records founder Spence is a native of Austin, TX, whose debut funk EP 'Love Adventure' is a vision of beach boogie through an exotic lens; a warm combination of modern funk, hip-hop, and jungle sounds.

Kicking off in fine style with the aforementioned duo of Diamond Ortiz's smooth synth funk of 'Goodies' and Solar Shield's harder edged 'Reesis,' the brilliant, finger-snappin' funk of their other track here 'Beeturia' is also a lush joy to behold.

The Rojai trio of the bass slapped funk lines of 'Finest Girl' (featuring Sally Green), the hand-clappin' beauty 'So Special' (featuring Vargas), and the slow roll of 'Soul Step' (featuring Sally Green) are, without a shadow of a doubt, some of the highlights to be found here on an album aplenty with them.

The one-two funk of Trailer Limon's 'Love Don't Pay the Bills' (featuring E. Live) backed with the lush lo-fi approach to 'Dancing with Somebody' (featuring B. Bravo) are definitely top notch cuts also, along with the hip-hop synth of Starship Connection's 'Do It 4 U.'

The trio from XL Middleton begins with the dancefloor vibe of 'Enjoyable Sunburn,' then comes the harder funk of 'Nervous,' with the last of them bring the brilliant '80s hip hop synth work found within 'Digital Devils.'

Lowmac's twisting and turning synth work on 'Late Nights' is then backed by a double from Computa Games. The first is the down and funky 'Do Your Thing' (featuring K-Maxx) which is followed by the pulsating dancefloor cut 'Feel Right 2Nite.'

Next up are a couple from B & the Family such as the true flashback vibe of 'A Good Time' (Buscrates Remix) and its twin throwback cut 'Just Want to Love Ya.'

The synth pip-pop computer game sounds of Moniquea's 'Closer' soon become the intriguing back beat for what is a really luscious track, and then we get a jazzy lo-fi double from Jonny Tobin - 'Sunrise' and 'Super Genesis' - before the album rounds out with the ABC Records founder Spence's keyboard work on the addictively exotic 'Ear to Ear.'

Amazon Purchase Link

Title - 'Turn Of The Cards [3CD+DVD Box-Set]'
Artist - Renaissance

For those not in the know, Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit 'Northern Lights' and progressive rock classics like 'Carpet of the Sun', 'Mother Russia', and 'Ashes Are Burning'.

They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences.

Characteristic elements of the Renaissance sound are Annie Haslam's wide vocal range, prominent piano accompaniment, orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesiser, and versatile drum work.

The band created a significant following in the northeast United States in the 1970s, and that region remains their strongest fan base.

The original line-up included two former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relf's sister Jane Relf.

They intended to put "something together with more of a classical influence" and so Renaissance was born; and the band released a studio album in 1969, and another in 1971.

Subsequently, John Tout replaced Hawken on keyboards, followed by a period of high turnover of musicians until the "classic line-up" of Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established; although none of them were in the original band.

They were assisted with lyrics on many songs from Cornish poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger.

From 1972 to 1979 Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at Carnegie Hall with Tony Cox conducting the New York Philharmonic.

The 1980s were a lean time for them, with personnel changes, and two relatively unsuccessful studio albums, leading to disbandment in 1987.

Two different offshoots of Renaissance existed at the same time at one stage in the mid-1990s. The band re-formed in 1998 to record Tuscany, which was eventually released in 2001; however, they disbanded again the next year.

2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance. Led by Haslam and Dunford, following that aforementioned hiatus of some years, the reformed Renaissance undertook live work, performing much praised concerts in the USA and Japan in 2010 and 2011.

On March 27th, 2020 Esoteric Recordings (via Cherry Red Records UK) will release a newly re-mastered and expanded four-disc clamshell box edition of the classic album, Turn Of The Cards by the great band.

Released in 1974, the album was an artistic triumph and heralded the band’s commercial breakthrough in the United States.

This expanded edition has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and also features an entire concert at The Academy of Music in New York City on May 17th, 1974 (with a 24-piece orchestra) over two bonus CDs which has been newly mixed from the original 16-track master tapes.

It includes live versions of songs from the album, along with classics such as ‘Can You Understand’, ‘Carpet of the Sun’, ‘Prologue’ and a 25 minute version of ‘Ashes Are Burning’ featuring guest Andy Powell (of Wishbone Ash) on lead guitar.

The fourth disc is a DVD (NTSC / Region Free) which features a new 5.1 Surround sound and high-resolution stereo mix of Turn Of The Cards.

The set also includes the previously unreleased song ‘Everybody Needs a Friend’, recorded during the sessions for the album and the rare single edit of ‘Mother Russia’.

Oh, and if all that wasn't enough, this spectacular new release also features an illustrated booklet with a new essay featuring interviews with Annie Haslam, Terry Sullivan and Jon Camp.

CD 1: Turn Of The Cards (1974)
1. 'Running Hard'
2. 'I Think of You'
3. 'Things I Don't Understand'
4. 'Black Flame'
5. 'Cold Is Being'
6. 'Mother Russia'

1974's Turn Of The Cards was the fifth Renaissance album, and once again, it's a masterpiece of classical/prog rock. Once more, the band's music is magically lush, sweeping and magnificent, with Annie Haslam's goddess-like voice leading the way.

All six songs are outstanding, played and sung to perfection by Haslam and performed to extreme precision by guitarist Michael Dunford, et al.

I mean, if you don't know now, I'll say it again: Renaissance were / are a phenomenal band who deserved a much bigger worldwide audience then what they had.

Their music is just that entertainingly good and this Turn Of The Cards is yet another simply brilliant album from Renaissance.

Listening to it here again on this newly remastered edition, I'm loving their sound all over again. Nothing has changed down the years for we still hear those interwoven strains of classically influenced music, tempered by harmonies and balance arranged by a carefully orchestrated rock ensemble - which included traditional piano and contemporary synthesizer among others - today in music that has "borrowed" from their sound down the years.

With all of this classical influence punctuated by lyrics that represent the very essence of the self-discovery of the times all done with a trace of nostalgic longing, cuts such as 'Running Hard,' 'Things I Don't Understand' and the excellent 'Mother Russia' all still reverberate within today's world.

CD 1: Bonus Tracks
7. 'Everybody Needs A Friend' (Previously unreleased - Recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley on March 23rd, 1974)
8. 'Mother Russia' (Single Edit) (Previously Unreleased)
9. 'Things I Don't Understand' (New Stereo Mix)
10. 'Black Flame' (New Stereo Mix)
11. 'Mother Russia' (New Stereo Mix)'

With Turn Of The Cards such a beautifully crafted album, expertly sung and played album, filled with lush, orchestral progressive pop-rock that's guaranteed to sweep you away, it was obvious that their live performance of it would be just as musically enticing.

Listening to it here on this newly remastered edition, and Haslam's vocals are just as exquisite, as lushly ornate as they ever were now live.

Keyboardist John Tout uses the acoustic piano exclusively with some minor organ and harpsichord work, and does not use synthesizers at all on this recording (if they are used, they are buried deep in the mix).

Electric guitars are also absent, which further emphasizes the classical approach. Perhaps the only thing missing from this recording is the "tap-tap-tap" of an impatient conductor tapping his baton on the stand!

It is only John Camps bass work and to a much lesser extent, Terence Sullivan's drumming that lend the rock aspect to the compositions. I might add that Terence Sullivan is a very sensitive drummer (he is more of a symphony percussionist) and engages in a dialogue with the acoustic piano rather than bulldozing over it.

This is largely attributable to his emphasis on cymbal/high-hat/snare work rather than heavy beats on the bass drum/floor toms.

Overall, the pieces on Turn of the Cards include three short works that range from three minutes on up to just over six minutes ('I Think Of You,' 'Black Flame,' and 'Cold Is Being') and three longish pieces in the near-ten minute range ('Running Hard,' 'Things I Don't Understand,' 'Mother Russia').

Played live, as I'm sure it was also in the studio, there are some absolutely beautiful and haunting moments on this live set, including my own personal favorite, 'Cold Is Being' -- which is based on Albinoni's excessively melodramatic Adagio for Organ and Strings in G minor.

CD 2: Live at The Academy of Music, NYC, May 17th, 1974
1. 'Can You Understand'
2. 'Black Flame'
3. 'Carpet of the Sun'
4. 'Cold Is Being'
5. 'Things I Don't Understand'
6. 'Running Hard'

CD 3: Live at The Academy of Music, NYC, May17th, 1974
1. 'Ashes Are Burning'
2. 'Mother Russia'
3. 'Prologue'

DVD: Turn Of The Cards - 5.1 Surround Sound & High-Resolution Stereo Mixes
1. 'Running Hard'
2. 'I Think Of You'
3. 'Things I Don't Understand'
4. 'Black Flame'
5. 'Cold Is Being'
6. 'Mother Russia'

3CD+DVD Box-Set Purchase Link

Renaissance Touring @ Facebook

Title - 'The Wolf And The Skull'
Artist - The Folsom Project

From the mind of composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Romsam Malpica, a new way of presenting cinematic atmospheres through an audiovisual experience has been born under his moniker The Folsom Project.

A mix of Orchestral Rock, Trap, and Trip-hop, The Folsom Project draws inspiration from Romsam’s experience with film scoring and dark sound design, which he explores here on his uniquely enthralling debut cinematic concept album, The Wolf & The Skull (out now via Wolf's Skull Records).

1. 'Chapter 1: The Wolf & The Woods'
2. 'Awaken'
3. 'Dr. Schmidth'
4. 'Ali'
5. 'Iceland'
6. 'Chapter 2: The Lady In White'
7. 'The Red Room'
8. 'The Storm Is Coming'
9. 'Just a Boy'
10. 'Chapter 3: Lamb Or Wolf'
11. 'Last One'
12. 'The Wolf'
13. 'The Skull'
14. 'Chapter 4: Ballad of The Death'
15. 'Chapter 5: Year Zero'

This highly affective album opens with the drummed heartbeat of 'Chapter 1: The Wolf & The Woods,' a cut that leads us perfectly by the hand into what is to unfold before us.

Next up is the stirring 'Awaken,' the passive industrial steel of 'Dr. Schmidth' (which, as Romsam himself calls, "the villain's ballad"), and then the piano-led dark blues of 'Ali.'

Goth attributes lusciously entwine within 'Iceland' - a track that explores a conversation between the secondary characters Ali and Bob, aka The Skull - and that's backed by the lighter, one-two pop funk vibe of 'Chapter 2: The Lady In White.'

The playfully enchanting ballad 'The Red Room' is up next and is followed by the elemental gathering of 'The Storm Is Coming,' the storytelling of 'Just a Boy,' and then the countryfied 'Chapter 3: Lamb Or Wolf.'

A cold Nordic pressure is brought forth next within 'Last One,' which is backed by Latin guitar and trip-hop coming together for 'The Wolf,' before the angry, grunge-infused harbinger of the opus, 'The Skull' is unleashed.

This quite magnificent album the rounds out with the menace of 'Chapter 4: Ballad of The Death,' before coming to a close on the unworldly, and yet at times elegantly ethereal, 'Chapter 5: Year Zero.'

The Folsom Project was conceived in 2015 while Romsam was studying music production for a year at Pyramind in downtown San Francisco, CA.

Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Romsam was inspired by his new surroundings, and he took the name of the street where his SF Music Academy was located for The Folsom Project.

It was here that Romsam Malpica began to develop the concept of an “audible action thriller.”

The resulting debut album, The Wolf & The Skull is a soundtrack to the story he tells of a sick and troubled doctor in charge of a biochemical lab in the middle of the woods.

The doctor works on the mysterious Folsom Project, which hides a dark truth. The story is told through the eyes of The Wolf, an animalistic creature that awakens in the woods with no memory and a thirst for vengeance; and explores The Wolf’s journey to unravel the truth about his past and stop the doctor at all costs.

Official Purchase Links

The Folsom Project @ Facebook!

Title - 'Stage' [2CD]
Artist - Great White

For those not up to speed, Great White is an American hard rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1977 who gained popularity during the 1980s and early 1990s.

The band released several albums in the late 1980s and gained airplay on MTV with music videos for songs like 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy' with the band reaching their peak popularity with the album of the same name in 1989.

The band continued to release new material into the 1990s, although weirdly none of their material charted in the United States. The band broke up in 2001 and soon thereafter, lead singer Jack Russell started to tour with Tony Montana, Robby Lochner (Rob Halford), Dan McNay (Montrose), Dicki Fliszar (Bruce Dickinson) as Jack Russell's Great White.

Sadly, Great White made headlines for all the wrong reasons when in 2003 a Rhode Island nightclub at which they were playing caught fire, leading to the deaths of 100 people, including band member Ty Longley.

Great White reformed in 2006, but in 2011, Russell left the band again, starting to tour once more as Jack Russell's Great White.

Professionally recorded, engineered and mastered to the finest sonic quality that sounds better today than it was upon its initial release in 1995, this brand new reissue of the long out of print live album from hard rockers Great White Stage is back out now (via Deadline Music / Cleopatra Records).

Showcasing the band tearing up the stage in California in 1994 and 1993 it has been professionally rerecorded, engineered and remastered to the finest sonic quality that makes their live shows sound better today than they were upon their initial release back in 1995!

CD 1: Stage One - recorded live at The House of Blues in Los Angeles, California, 1994
1. 'Train To Nowhere'
2. 'Sail Away'
3. 'House of Broken Love'
4. 'Maybe Someday'
5. 'Congo Square'
6. 'Gone With The Wind'
7. 'Afterglow'

CD 2: State Two - recorded live at The Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim, California, 1993
1. 'Face the Day'
2. 'Old Rose Motel'
3. 'Babe I’m Gonna Leave You'
4. 'Rock Me'
5. 'Can’t Shake It'
6. 'Once Bitten Twice Shy'
7. 'Love is Lie'

As for the Stage albums, well, in truth, they were actually put together by Alan Niven, Great White's former manager, as a contractual release for Zoo Entertainment back in the day.

So what we get are the first seven tracks of CD 1 are from a 1994 House of Blues benefit concert (Stage One) and the other seven songs that form CD 2 are from a 1993 Anaheim show (Stage Two).

Featuring several tracks of which were previously featured as a bonus on the studio album Sail Away - and where the initial Japanese pressing was a two-disc set and featured one bonus track for each show - this grouping of both live shows together for this one release has been done meticulously and sounds as raw and as passionate as you could ever have hoped!

As aforementioned, the soundboard recordings still hold up well today and with the band rolling through all their hits of the time, well, it's nothing but a genuine rock 'n' roll keepsake from Great White for their fans.

What we get are 14 tracks over two CDs that feature the classics such as ‘Rock Me,’ ‘Sail Away,' and 'Love Is A Lie,' along with two covers of Aussie Band The Angels' 'Face The Day’ and ‘Can’t Shake It,’ plus the Ian Hunter song they made their very own ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’.

Having been long out of print, vocalist Jack Russell reflects back on the shows, saying: "These were two of the best live shows the band ever recorded. They definitely captured us firing on all 8!"

"The band has always been an exceptional band live and this album really captured the heart of what GREAT WHITE was all about. It's rare when a you have a show where you're proud of every single moment — these were two gigs that I can honestly say that about!"

CDs come packaged in a special mini-LP sleeve while the vinyl comes in a deluxe gatefold jacket and WHITE vinyl!

FYI: This release will be followed later this year by very special acoustic album from Jack Russell's Great White called Once Bitten Acoustic Bytes, coming May 1st, 2020.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Official 2LP White Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Outlaws'
Artist - Rose Tattoo

For those not up to speed, Rose Tattoo are the true rock and roll outlaws and first and last gang in town rumbled into existence in late 1976 with a New Year’s Eve debut at Sydney’s legendary Bondi Lifesaver.

The band was the vision of Pete Wells, former bassist with Sydney heavy metal kids, Buffalo, his master plan embellished by ex-Band of Light bassist, Ian Rilen.

With Wells on slide guitar and Rilen on bass, former Buster Brown singer, Angry Anderson was recruited along with rhythm guitarist Mick Cocks and drummer Dallas “Digger” Royal and they set about destroying eardrums and venues across Australia!

On stage, Rose Tattoo look like nothing on earth but Rose Tattoo. They stand out from the mass of bands in satin pants like a raw steak in a vegetarian restaurant.

All those words like raw, uncompromising, savage – they all apply, but they're not enough. Rose Tattoo have something more than that.

The band gives an impression of overwhelming masculinity, a totally urban, night time jungle maleness that if considered objectively, would be awe inspiring, making an audience afraid rather than irresistibly drawn to go along with the band. It has something to do with having more than a hint of humor.

Angry´s voice is a harsh roar capable of instant reversal into surprising sweetness. Ian Rilan´s bass and Digger´s drumming hurtle the sound along so fast and hard you expect to see steam rising from the bass.

Sparks flying from the drumsticks. Michael Cocks guitar fills and runs are always more than just rhythm guitar; he provides the link in an already solid, complete three piece unit for Peter Wells to take off from, sending knife sharp slide slicing down your spine, creating that plummeting elevator sensation in your stomach!

And Angry, standing with his legs spread wide, totally caught up, sings rage and fury in a voice like a clenched fist!

Well, Australia's legendary bad boys of vintage hard rock storm the shores of the States once again with this superb revisitation of their debut album Outlaws, which now also comes complete with a previously-unreleased track from the same era!

1. 'One Of The Boys'
2. 'Sweet Love (Rock N’ Roll)'
3. 'Tramp'
4. 'Snow Queen'
5. 'Rock N’ Roll Outlaw'
6. 'The Butcher And Fast Eddy'
7. 'Remedy'
8. 'TV'
9. 'Stuck On You'
10. 'Astra Wally'
11. 'Bad Boy For Love'
12. 'Nice Boys'
13. 'Rosetta' (Bonus Track)

From the off and founding member and vocalist Angry Anderson leads the assault with his powerhouse voice on the cool punk opener 'One Of The Boys' which they back up with both the Rod Stewartesque 'Sweet Love (Rock N’ Roll)' and the drum-led beauty 'Tramp.'

The rock 'n' roll is dialed up for the '70s-vibed, Status Quoesque brilliance of 'Snow Queen' which is followed by Zeppelinesque 'Rock N’ Roll Outlaw,' the slow poke rock roll of 'The Butcher And Fast Eddy,' and then more of the high octane guitar stuff that they are known for on 'Remedy.'

More of their brilliant brand of meat and potatoes rock 'n' roll is up next within the lo-fi punk of 'TV' and is backed by the countryfied, twanging guitar work of 'Stuck On You,' which in turn is backed by one of their longest cuts, the balls to the wall fervor of 'Astra Wally.'

More of that vibe, tinged with a sugary spoonful of Lynyrd Skynyrd is brought to the fore on 'Bad Boy For Love,' before the album rounds out with fan favorite 'Nice Boys' and then the mid-tempo love song bonus track 'Rosetta' (which was originally recorded in Washington in 1980 and put on the unreleased Scarred For Life album).

FYI: Angry and the boys will be touring the US for the very first time ever in support of this release starting in May and more overseas dates are being scheduled!

Outlaws is now available on both CD and in a deluxe gatefold 2LP vinyl set in your choice of silver or red colors!

Official CD Purchase Link

Official Red/Silver Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Vibrasonic'
Artist - Vibes Alive

On their third album, Vibrasonic the duo behind Vibes Alive, vibraphonist Dirk Richter and guitarist Randall Crissman, invoke a sonic storm of contemporary jazz alchemy with hints of funk, soul and intrigue that drive their fresh and energetic tracks.

The new album also features Grammy Award winning key-boardist Jeff Lorber (who has joined Richter and Crissman for all three Vibes Alive album), legendary drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and Jimmy Johnson on bass and Luis Conte on percussion.

1. 'Sweet Vibes'
2. 'Vibrasonic'
3. 'Windchime'
4. 'Earthtones'
5. 'Waterfall'
6. 'Going Home'
7. 'Daydream'
8. 'Rainy Day'
9. 'Spy'
10. 'Guitar Noir'

On this absolutely superbly-crafted record, one just so beautifully shaped by Dirk and Randall's uniquely layered compositions and visionary blend of vibes and guitar, right from the lush, free flowing opening track 'Sweet Vibes' you know you're in for a right royal musical treat.

The compelling ride of the title track is then backed by the brilliant electric fretwork of Crissman coming to the fore on 'Windchime,' which in turn is followed by the magnetic melodies within the beautifully haunting 'Earthtones.'

Crissman uses a nylon string guitar to pour sensitive hues into the next track, the conscious 'Waterfall,' which is followed by the responsive orchestrations of 'Going Home.'

The imaginatively engaging discourse on 'Daydream' makes for a track that might well end up being one of your go-to's when you are choosing a track at random to permeate your day, with 'Rainy Day' setting a definitive, and contemplative tone thereafter.

This quite magnificent album, one reminiscent of Spyro Gyra in their early smooth jazz days, then rounds out with Lorber’s summoned organ squall that powers 'Spy' along, with the recording coming to a close on the hypnotic elegance of 'Guitar Noir.'

“Vibes Alive is a creative endeavor based on the friendship that I’ve had with Randall since we met when we were in college," Dirk Richter explains. "Randall and I always got off on the way the Hammond organ, pianos and guitars sounded."

"Then getting into mallet percussions, specifically the vibraphone, because of the frequencies that are created – the overtones – the possibilities for harmonic enhancement, that kind of takes you to the next level."

"We wanted the music to be alive, to be spontaneous and creative and we want that creativity to lean into the idea of a good universe, of love for the planet and of love for your neighbor."

"Vibes Alive is that connection between what you love and what you feel most in love with and how to be creative in the midst,” adds Richter about the duo’s inception and purpose.

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Title - 'Club Rendezvous'
Artist - Sasha's Bloc

Welcome to Club Rendezvous, a place both inviting and mysterious, lost in time but pulsing with the thrill of the moment.

Step inside and be greeted by the hard-boiled and the heartbroken, as sultry femmes fatale brood at the bar and the elite meet near the bandstand.

This is the utterly fantastically yet vividly imagined speakeasy noir conjured by Moscow-born bassist and bandleader Alexander Gershman with his collaborator, multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning writer/producer Charlie Midnight.

Performed by Gershman’s brainchild, the Los Angeles ensemble Sasha’s Bloc, their brand new album Club Rendezvous (out now via AG Entertainment) is the band’s most ambitious creation to date.

A concept album co-produced and co-written by Gershman and Midnight, it features dazzling vocals by the band’s multi-talented 23-year-old singer Nikki Lorenzo.

1. 'Rendezvous'
2. 'A Kiss for a Kiss'
3. 'Swing and Swagger'
4. 'Cigarettes, Coffee and Champagne'
5. 'Going to Extremes'
6. 'Memory in Black and White'
7. 'Boogie Side of Town'
8. 'Written with the Blues'
9. 'Land of Noir'
10. 'Alley Cat'
11. 'I Choose Happiness'
12. 'Crazy Love'
13. 'Time out of Time'

Kicking things off in style with the low-slung trumpet-led beauty 'Rendezvous,' they back that up seamlessly with the sultry ballad 'A Kiss for a Kiss,' the magnificent Charleston dance floor fury of 'Swing and Swagger,' and then both the lush 'Cigarettes, Coffee and Champagne' and the male-told storytelling of 'Going to Extremes.'

This concept album told through 13 connected musical numbers continues onward with the lo-fi trumpet-led ballad 'Memory in Black and White,' the upbeat Charleston dance fever of 'Boogie Side of Town,' and then the piano bar blues of 'Written with the Blues' and the mid-tempo 'Land of Noir.'

This quite incredible album then rounds out with the sultry, finger-snappin' 'Alley Cat,' the free flowing, big jazz band buoyancy of 'I Choose Happiness,' and comes to a close on the elegance of 'Crazy Love' and then the nostalgic, yearning vibe of 'Time out of Time.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Your Horizon Too'
Artist - Under The Lake

For the past 25 years, Portland, OR's ever-evolving Under The Lake lineup has garnered many notable accomplishments including: nominations for Best Pop-Jazz Album and Best Pop-Jazz Group in the 1994 San Diego Music Awards; and Up For Air was listed by WBJB (NY/NJ) as one of the top 10 releases for 1996.

Lest we forget to mention that Black Entertainment Television's BET on Jazz included the song 'The Slider' on their Jazz Discoveries CD released and distributed by BMG Direct (1997); Radio and syndicated broadcast of songs from both CDs nationally and internationally; and their 1994 release Dive In was listed as Chartbound for 5 weeks on Gavin's NAC tracking.

Indeed, Under The Lake's (currently Jayson Tipp, keyboards; Nathan Brown, bass guitar; Richard Sellers, drums; Patrick Yandall, electric/acoustic guitar; and Quintin Gerard W., tenor, soprano, saxes and flutes) recordings continue to be heard streaming on Spotify, GooglePlay, and iTunes, and releasing April 3rd, 2020 is their brand new album, Your Horizon Too (via Mind In Overdrive, Inc.).

The new album contains a collection of 10 original tunes along with covers of The Sylistics' 'People Make The World Go 'Round' and Steely Dan's 'Josie,' and three Radio Edit cuts too.

1. 'It's Your Horizon Too'
2. 'People Make The World Go 'Round'
3. 'Bridgetown'
4. 'Wishing It All Away'
5. 'Last Week'
6. 'Side Two'
7. 'You Forgot Your Ticket'
8. 'Diego Nuevo'
9. 'Josie'
10. 'This One Too'
11. 'Trip To The Grove'
12. 'Stealing The Night'
13. 'It's Your Horizon Too' (Radio Edit)
14. 'Side Two' (Radio Edit)
15. 'This One Too' (Radio Edit)

As noted above, with all the tracks also featuring former saxophonist-flutist Gerard W. and core members, bassist Brown and drummer sellers, UTL have once again come seamlessly together to marry jazz and funk into such alluring dance tracks; making for yet another album that simply has to be in any self-respecting jazz fans collection.

Tracks like the opening title cut 'It's Your Horizon Too' and both 'Bridgetown' and 'Last Week' showcase the hard-driving, bottom-heavy persona of that musical hybrid perfectly, with cuts such as 'Diego Nuevo,' 'This One Too,' and the album-ending 'Stealing The Night' excellent examples of solidly-structured grooves complete with balanced melodies and musicianship.

In closing, and whether it be their own work or the two aforementioned covers (that, on a side note, they totally make their own), Under The Lake do an excellent job of showcasing their own individual style and instrumentation in a joyous collaborative fashion here on their fifth album.

See them live whenever they come to your town and buy this, and ALL their previous CDs today!

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'Toy Story 4'
Artist - Randy Newman

The fourth Randy Newman soundtrack for the 'Toy Story' franchise features two new songs, the jazzy, uber catchy, and Grammy-nominated 'I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away' and 'The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy' sung by Chris Stapleton.

The latter is a pleasant vintage country number better suited to Stapleton's voice than Newman's and works well in the film when it comes to be.

Newman's score also includes the familiar themes from the previous movies, but incorporates new ones - such as for the new character Forky - must have been a lot of fun for the veteran composer.

1. 'You've Got a Friend in Me' - Randy Newman
2. 'I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away' - Randy Newman
3. 'The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy' - Chris Stapleton
4. 'Operation Pull Toy'
5. 'Woody's Closet of Neglect'
6. 'School Daze'
7. 'Trash Can Chronicles'
8. 'The Road to Antiques'
9. 'A Spork in the Road'
10. 'Rubber Baby Buggy Butlers'
11. 'Buzz's Flight & a Maiden'
12. 'Ducky, Bunny & Tea'
13. 'Moving at the Speed of Skunk'
14. 'Bo Peep's Panorama for Two'
15. 'Three Sheeps to the Wind'
16. 'Sneaking and Antiquing'
17. 'Recruiting Duke Caboom'
18. 'Prepping the Jump'
19. 'Let's Caboom!'
20. 'Cowboy Sacrifice'
21. 'Operation Harmony'
22. 'Duke's Best Crash Ever'
23. 'Gabby Gabby's Most Noble Thing'
24. 'Parting Gifts & New Horizons'
25. 'The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy (Soundtrack Version)'
26. 'Plush Rush!'

Here we are again riding the saddle into a new adventure and with our trusted composer Randy Newman who has long been a part of the franchise since the beginning! Oh boy, what a treat it is to have him produce the score for this wondrous fourth installment, 'Toy Story 4.'

When you already have established characters such as Woody and Buzz, you know they have their themes set in stone. So yes, to those wondering, there are a few flashback themes here for our two central characters, given that they are on screen for a lot of the movie!

But, whenever you hear their themes in todays day and age the nostalgia factor hits all kinds of sweet spots within you and a nostalgia trip all the way back to the golden age comes rushing over you.

I mean, come on now, Randy hits the ball right out of the park with this magnificent, vibrant and totally immersive 26-track soundtrack and it is a pure joy to behold from start to finish.

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Title - 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (OST)
Artist - John Williams

Lucasfilm and visionary director J.J. Abrams join forces to take you back again to a galaxy, far, far away as Star Wars returns to the big screen with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The magnificent, soaring soundtrack from the legendary, five-time Academy Award-winning composer, John Williams was released a while ago, but wow, it was just too good not to give a second glance to!

This score, which earned John Williams his 50th Oscar nomination, delivers in exactly the way one would expect from that galaxy far, far away, trust me!

May the Force be with you, always, my friends.

1. 'Main Title and The Attack on the Jakku Village'
2. 'The Scavenger'
3. 'I Can Fly Anything'
4. 'Rey Meets BB-8'
5. 'Follow Me'
6. 'Rey's Theme'
7. 'The Falcon'
8. 'That Girl with the Staff'
9. 'The Rathtars!'
10. 'Finn's Confession'
11. 'Maz's Counsel'
12. 'The Starkiller'
13. 'Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle'
14. 'The Abduction'
15. 'Han and Leia'
16. 'March of the Resistance'
17. 'Snoke'
18. 'On the Inside'
19. 'Torn Apart'
20. 'The Ways of the Force'
21. 'Scherzo for X-Wings'
22. 'Farewell and The Trip'
23. 'The Jedi Steps and Finale'

The great John Williams does it again! This soundtrack is melodically beautiful and moving. Rey's theme is feminine and yet strong at the same time.

I have loved John's music for many, many years and he is, without a shadow of a doubt, a musical genius and I am so glad that I can hear his music during my lifetime.

He conveys so much emotion in his music which has deeply moved me, always allowing my inner spirit to soar when listening to his work; and, of course, this magnificent soundtrack.

The most substantial new composition for 'The Force Awakens,' is a jaunty, adventurous piece with an optimistic, ascending string and woodwind melody, entitled 'Rey's Theme.'

One could be forgiven for feeling that it belongs in an Indiana Jones movie than in Star Wars, for Abrams self-consciously models himself on Stephen Spielberg, after all.

'The Ways of The Force' is a musical duel between the motifs Williams has written for Kylo Ren and Rey. He mirrors the ebb and flow of the duel between Ren and Rey by alternating the melody between cells of Rey’s theme and cells of Ren’s.

Each character’s theme vies to dominate the melody, before both are superseded by The Force Theme – which intervenes, decisively, on Rey’s side.

Another stand out cut track for me is 'The Jedi Steps' which borrows from and advancing on 'Rey’s Theme,' but with great expectation written into a lyrical, ascending string-and-woodwind melody that pulls away before reaching harmonic resolution.

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Title - 'Frozen 2' (OST)
Artist - Various

Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land here the follow up to the worldwide smash hit, 'Frozen 2.'

They set out to find the origin of Elsa's powers in order to save their kingdom.

Starring returning voice talents of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathon Groff and featuring Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown, this wondrous new soundtrack CD includes all new music by Bobby and Kristen Lopez.

1. 'All is Found' - performed by Evan Rachel Wood
2. 'Some Things Never Change' - performed by Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff
3. 'Into the Unknown' - performed by Idina Menzel featuring AURORA
4. 'When I Am Older' - performed by Josh Gad
5. 'Reindeer(s) are Better than People (Cont.)' - performed by Jonathan Groff
6. 'Lost in the Woods' - performed by Jonathan Groff
7. 'Show Yourself' - performed by Idina Menzel and Evan Rachel Wood
8. 'The Next Right Thing' - performed by Kristen Bell
9. 'Into the Unknown' - performed by Panic! At The Disco
10. 'All is Found' - performed by Kacey Musgraves
11. 'Lost in the Woods' - performed by Weezer

In all truth, this brand new 'Frozen 2' album is well worth it for Idina Menzel’s voice alone, but everyone in the cast, it goes without saying, is phenomenal at what they do also.

I’m particularly awed by the range of emotion we get from Kristen Bell as Anna, but found that the soundtrack overall seemed quite short compared to some of the other Disney movie soundtracks.

Such as the 'Moana' soundtrack and the one for the original 'Frozen' film are much longer, so I'm not too sure how much was left out, but the one song I really wish they’d included here is the beautiful song of 'Welcome' performed by the Northuldrans when they learn the origin of Anna and Elsa’s mother.

And sure, nothing beats 'Let It Go' from the original, but the big ballad here 'Into the Unknown' is most definitely hauntingly beautiful and sticks in your head just like the other one!

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Descendants 3' (OST)
Artist - Various

The teenagers of Disney's most infamous villains (Sofia Carson, Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart) return to the Isle of the Lost to recruit a new batch of villainous offspring to join them at Auradon Prep here in the third installment of 'Descendants.'

Featuring seven brand-new songs plus six additional tracks, music has always been a big part of the Descendants films and 'Descendants 3' is no different and keeps the tradition effortlessly flowing.

1. 'Good to Be Bad' - by Dove Cameron & Sofia Carson & Booboo Stewart & Cameron Boyce & Jadah Marie & Anna Cathcart
2. 'Queen of Mean' - by Sarah Jeffery
3. 'Do What You Gotta Do' - by Dove Cameron & Cheyenne Jackson
4. 'Night Falls' - by Dove Cameron & Sofia Carson & Booboo Stewart & Cameron Boyce & Thomas Doherty & China Anne McClain & Dylan Playfair
5. 'One Kiss' - by Sofia Carson & Dove Cameron & China Anne McClain
6. 'My Once Upon A Time' - by Dove Cameron
7. 'Break This Down' - by Dove Cameron & Sofia Carson & Booboo Stewart & Cameron Boyce & China Anne McClain & Mitchell Hope & Thomas Doherty & Dylan Playfair & Sarah Jeffery & Jadah Marie & Brenna D'Amico & Zachary Gibson
8. 'Dig A Little Deeper' - China Anne McClain
9. 'Did I Mention' - by Mitchell Hope
10. 'Rotten To The Core (D3 Remix)' - by Dove Cameron & Sofia Carson & Booboo Stewart & Cameron Boyce & China Anne McClain & Thomas Doherty & Sarah Jeffery & Jadah Marie
11. 'Happy Birthday' - by Sarah Jeffrey
12. 'VK Mashup' - by Dove Cameron & Sofia Carson & Booboo Stewart & Cameron Boyce
13. 'Descendants 3 Score Suite' - by David Lawrence

Opening with 'Good to Be Bad,' a cut that instantly feels related to 'Rotten to the Core' and 'Ways to Be Wicked,' that familiar sound and tempo are well represented here throughout.

The highest charting track following the album’s debut is up next in the form of 'Queen of Mean,' and that's backed by Cheyenne Jackson and Dove Cameron singing the country-infused big band song 'Do What You Gotta Do.'

'Night Falls' is a sequel, of sorts, to 'It’s Going Down' (from 'Descendants 2') and that's followed by Sofia Carson's brilliant 'One Kiss,' the Dove Cameron ballad 'My Once Upon a Time,' and both the jazzy R&B of 'Break This Down' and then China Anne McClain's rendition of Mama Odie’s song from The Princess and the Frog, 'Dig a Little Deeper.'

Ben’s .30 second proposal song 'Did I Mention' is followed by the 'Rotten to the Core (D3 Remix),' which is more a re-recording with Uma and Harry added to the cast and some new lyrics added.

Sarah Jeffrey then brings us her version of 'Happy Birthday,' with the album coming to a close on 'VK Mashup (which is nothing more than the three opening songs from the three films having been spliced together in a rather hurried manner, if truth be told), and then closes on 'Descendants 3 Score Suite' (a five minute sample of score melodies from the film by David Lawrence).

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Title - 'DCappella'
Artist - Various

Known for their reimagined classics from the Disney songbook and beyond, seven dynamic voices make up this Disney dream team known as DCappella.

With versions of Disney songs from classics including 'The Little Mermaid,' 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'The Lion King' and 'Aladdin,' DCappella offers a fresh new twist on favorites we all love.

For here on this quite brilliant new 13-track album, there isn't a single musical misstep, as it is vibrantly perfect from start to finish!

1. 'Tune Up'
2. 'The World Es Mi Familia'
3. 'Friend Like Me'
4. 'How Far I'll Go'
5. 'Let It Go/Do You Want to Build a Snowman?'
6. 'I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)'
7. 'You'll Be in My Heart'
8. 'When She Loved Me'
9. 'Trashin' the Camp'
10. 'Part of Your World/A Whole New World'
11. 'Step in Time'
12. 'Immortals'
13. 'Remember Me'

For those not in the know, these new a cappella singing sensations DCappella came together as a result of a nationwide search for the best vocal performing talent in a cappella and stage.

Contemporary a cappella pioneer Deke Sharon is the group's co-creator, music director, arranger, and album producer.

As I was listening to this new album, it was mentioned to me that DCappella sounds like the closest you would get to Disney outside the parks themselves. And I can concur with that as this group of great voices, wondrous collected harmonies, and the way they make the ever-so slight changes to their artistic brand license is refreshingly evident and joyous also.

The group consists of seven members covering various voice parts, including: Antonio Fernandez – Vocal Percussion; Joe Santoni – Bass; Morgan Keene – Soprano; Orlando Dixon – Baritone; RJ Woessner – Tenor; Shelley Regner – Mezzo; and Sojourner Brown – Alto.

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Title - 'Avengers: Endgame' (OST)
Artist - Alan Silvestri

The grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured the Avengers ranks compels the remaining Avengers to take one final stand in Marvel Studios' grand conclusion to twenty-two films, 'Avengers: Endgame.'

Here on the, simply put, invigoratingly phenomenal 28-track score by Alan Silvestri, we take the rollercoaster ride that our heroes do, albeit rather more safely from the comfort of our own homes.

1. 'Totally Fine'
2. 'Arrival'
3. 'Where Are They?'
4. 'Becoming Whole Again'
5. 'I Figured It Out'
6. 'Perfectly Not Confusing'
7. 'You Shouldn't Be Here'
8. 'The How Works'
9. 'One Shot'
10. 'Snap Out Of It'
11. 'So Many Stars'
12. 'Watch Each Other's Six'
13. 'I Can't Risk This'
14. 'He Gave It Away'
15. The Tool of a Thief'
16. 'The Measure of a Hero'
17. 'In Plain Sight'
18. 'Whatever It Takes'
19. 'Not Good'
20. 'I Was Made For This'
21. 'Tres Amigos'
22. 'Worth It'
23. 'Portals'
24. 'The One'
25. 'You Did Good'
26. 'The Real Hero'
27. 'Go Ahead'
28. 'Main On End'

This magnificent, pulsating and euphoric, and yet at times deeply saddening album begins where 'Infinity War' concluded with the dementedly confused Thanos score which instantly plants us at the center of the decimation.

From there it's everyone dealing with their post-decimation sense of grief, struggling to move on (like real life). The track 'Arrival' captures that sense of relief when you discover that someone you thought you'd lost has survived a devastating ordeal.

Intimately tearful more than triumphant, later we get an emotional reprisal of those feelings from 'Made for This.' There are also familial moments like 'Snap Out of It' that makes you long for those conversations with lost loved ones you never got to have.

As I say though, it's not all doom and gloom for most of the middle tracks are lighter and resurgent. There's even some good mischievous jazz blended in here and there, but when we get to the most powerfully triumphant track, 'Portals' the music soars into something so much bigger than an imminent superhero all-star victory!

From start to end, and overall, this excellent 'Avengers: Endgame soundtrack from the composing legend Alan Silvestri is a joyful monument to everything the MCU has given us. Truly magnificent.

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Title - 'John Cage: Lollipops' [3CD]
Artist - John Cage

For those not in the know, John Cage (1912-1992) was an American composer, philosopher, poet, music theorist, artist, printmaker, and amateur mycologist.

A pioneer of percussion, chance, and electronic music, Cage was one of the most influential American composers of the twentieth century.

His influence on the popular arts of the 1960s was considerable; the Beatle Paul McCartney and Frank Zappa of the Mothers of Invention being numbered among his disciples.

He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance in America, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham.

Furthermore, Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4’ 33”, the three movements of which are performed without a single note being played.

The late ’50s, early '60s was the period in which the works of John Cage first began to be represented by a quantity of recordings.

Released March 20th, 2020 via El Records / Cherry Red Records UK, this brand new 3CD edition combines two important large-scale performances.

The first is the indispensable 25-Year Retrospective Concert, which so admirably showcased the composer’s broad spectrum of interests (and the first recording to include audible audience disagreement since the riot at the premiere of Déserts by Edgard Varèse in Paris in 1954).

The second is Indeterminacy: New Aspect of Form in Instrumental and Electronic Music, which finds Cage reading 90 short Zen-like stories, each punctuated by piano and tape interjections by his long-time musical collaborator, David Tudor.

Disc: 1
1. "Six Short Inventions for Seven Instruments" (1934)
2. "First Construction in Metal" (1939)
3. "Imaginary Landscape No. 1" (1939)
4. "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs" (1942)
5. 'Quartet"
6. "Duo"
7. "Sonata I"
8. "Sonata II"
9. "Sonata III"
10. "Sonata IV"
11. "First Interlude"
12. "Sonata V"
13. "Sonata VI"
14. "Sonata VII"
15. "Sonata VIII"
16. "Second Interlude"
17. "Music for Carillon No.1" (1952)
18. "Williams Mix" (1952)

Disc: 2
1. "Concert for Piano and Orchestra" (1957-58)
2. "Double Music" (1941)
3. "Part One'"
4. "Part Two"

Disc: 3
1. "Part Three"
2. "Part Four"
3. "Cartridge Music" (1960)
4. "Fontana Mix" (1958)

These works are complemented by the original tape realization of the Fontana Mix sound collage, assembled by the composer in Italy; Double Music, which explores the percussive qualities of metal and the challenging Cartridge Music, a manipulation of phonograph cartridges, where, Cage warns, "all sounds, even those ordinarily thought to be undesirable, are accepted."

Well, and simply put, this 3CD set is a most brilliant concert experience from one of the most engaging composers of the modern day within John Cage.

His work continues to inspire contemporary artists in dance, visual art, performance art, and music and from listening to these three CDs back to back, you can clearly understand why.

Sure, playing Devil's Advocate, and as much as I personally do love the experimental and the extreme in all its components here yes, there are some more mundane acts to be founds here amongst his engaging moments; but only if you allow them to be so, of course.

Most of Cage's major works are represented here in this wondrous 3CD collection, such as his percussion pieces, his prepared piano, even his tape music.

Start here with the engrossing 25-Year Retrospective Concert and then smother yourself immediately thereafter with the expansive offering Indeterminancy; for you will not regret it.

Presented chronologically, the works increasingly tested the patience of the audience, eventually prompting audible protests.

Following the conventionally modernist "Six Short Inventions for Seven Instruments," listeners hear the delightful "First Construction in Metal," a percussion-driven piece from 1939 that bridges Edgar Varese with the composer's fascination with Balinese gamelan music, which would achieve sublime form in his compositions for prepared piano several years hence.

Though almost 20 years old at the time of the concert, the amazing "Imaginary Landscape No. 1," with its high-frequency recordings, struck and stroked cymbals, and piano, must have sorely tested even the most benevolently inclined audience in 1958, but those at town hall appear to have greeted it warmly, if somewhat tentatively.

Here Cage’s interest in technology, Eastern philosophies, and the concept of “silence” and “chance” as related to composition come to the fore as he plays some of his most significant and controversial pieces of his career, several of which (“Six Short Inventions for Seven Instruments”, “She Is Asleep”, “Music for Carillon”, and “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra” [in which Merce Cunningham took the part of the conductor – the “living clock” – and David Tudor that of the pianist]), were performed here for the first time ever.

This concert created quite a stir for its time, with many journalists and audience members loudly complaining “this isn’t music”!

The idea behind Indeterminacy was, like many Cagean ideas, essentially simple and audaciously original. Cage read 90 stories, his speed determined by the story's length.

In another room, beyond earshot of Cage, David Tudor, pianist and veteran Cage collaborator, performed miscellaneous selections from Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra and played pre-recorded tape from Cage's Fontana Mix.

The resulting collaboration is an astounding piece of "music," and a fine introduction to the innovations of John Cage.

In closing, and featuring prepared piano pieces, cartridge music and more, this newly brought forth collection comes complete with a truly great recording of a most iconic concert, along with Cage reading 90 short Zen-like stories; which has to be heard to be believed, trust me.

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Aladdin' (OST)
Artist - Alan Menken

A thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney's 1992 animated classic, 'Aladdin' is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future.

The film was written by John August and Guy Ritchie, directed by Guy Ritchie, and stars: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, and Numan Acar.

1. 'Arabian Nights (2019)' – Will Smith
2. 'One Jump Ahead' – Mena Massoud
3. 'One Jump Ahead (Reprise)' – Mena Massoud
4. 'Speechless (Part 1)' – Naomi Scott
5. 'Friend Like Me' – Will Smith
6. 'Prince Ali' – Will Smith
7. 'A Whole New World' – Mena Massoud & Naomi Scott
8. 'One Jump Ahead (Reprise 2)' – Mena Massoud
9. 'Speechless (Part 2)' – Naomi Scott
10. 'A Whole New World (End Title)' – ZAYN & Zhavia Ward
11. 'Friend Like Me (End Title)' [feat. DJ Khaled] – Will Smith
12. 'Speechless (Full)' – Naomi Scott
13. 'The Big Ship' – Alan Menken
14. 'Agrabah Marketplace' – Alan Menken
15. 'Aladdin’s Hideout' – Alan Menken
16. 'Jasmine Meets Prince Anders' – Alan Menken
17. 'Breaking In' – Alan Menken
18. 'Returning the Bracelet' – Alan Menken
19. 'The Dunes' – Alan Menken
20. 'Simple Oil Lamp' – Alan Menken
21. 'The Cave of Wonders' – Alan Menken
22. 'The Basics' – Alan Menken
23. 'Escape from the Cave' – Alan Menken
24. 'Prince Ali’s Outfit' – Alan Menken
25. 'Until Tomorrow' – Alan Menken
26. 'Aladdin’s Second Wish' – Alan Menken
27. 'Never Called a Master Friend' – Alan Menken
28. 'Harvest Dance' – Alan Menken
29. 'Jafar Becomes Sultan' – Alan Menken
30. 'Hakim’s Loyalty Tested' – Alan Menken
31. 'Most Powerful Sorcerer' – Alan Menken
32. 'Carpet Chase' – Alan Menken
33. 'Jafar Summons the Storm' – Alan Menken
34. 'Jafar’s Final Wish' – Alan Menken
35. 'Genie Set Free' – Alan Menken
36. 'The Wedding' – Alan Menken
37. 'Friend Like Me (Finale)' – Alan Menken

Personally, I was unaware of Will Smith's musical background and so was amazed at his reach here on this soundtrack! If you recall, the one and only Robin Williams was primarily an actor and so much of his singing on the 1992 soundtrack was spoken word.

Regardless, Mena Massoud as Aladdin was very good, but here in this live action remake, Naomi Scott is simply terrific!

There were some welcome changes to the lyrics in this version too, mostly to things that were problematic in the 1992 version (such as celebrating the idea that Prince Ali has slaves, however culturally appropriate it might have been for the setting).

Another great addition was that Jasmine has her own song (albeit too short, even with a reprise). This grants her a "theme" that is used in the score to good effect.

The score itself is Alan Menken all over, and very recognizably so, as anyone who is a Newsies fan (or of any other Disney score he has done) can tell you.

I listen to a lot of soundtracks and scores and I won't physically purchase one that doesn't interest me. Sure this CD was given to us to review, but still, trust me when I say that 'Aladdin' (2019) doesn't disappoint!

In closing, this sumptuous and exotically captivating soundtrack album is fun and lively, and you simply cannot help but sing aloud to the songs you know, learn the new ones with repeat plays, and stop from moving your hips to the intoxicating rhythms!

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'MZM'
Artist - Miya Masaoka, Zeena Parkins & Myra Melford

For those not in the know, the new trio of Myra Melford, Zeena Parkins, and Miya Masaoka (aka MZM) recently released a rather luscious new self-titled album (out now via Infrequent Seams Records).

Each made an indelible mark in the last three or four decades of experimental music, and their improvisations blend together all of the various histories that evolved from their disparate activities.

From sound-art to noise rock to modern jazz, each are known both for their extensive output as leaders and their work with a who's who of adventurous music: Bjork, Nels Cline, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas, Mark Dresser, Fred Frith, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Tin Hat, Christian Wolff, and many others.

1. 'Red Spider'
2. 'Bug'
3. 'Saturn'
4. 'Eight-Burst'
5. 'Retina'
6. 'Taurus'
7. 'Southern Owl'
8. 'Spiral'
9. 'Ant'
10. 'Rosette'

This album features ten improvised pieces from these aforementioned three, showcasing their most innovative instrumentational stylings, blending harp, piano, and koto with electronic sounds.

Opening with the skittish 'Red Spider' this experimental album of the highest quality then moves seamlessly into the deeper 'Bug,' the more spacial 'Saturn,' and then the harsher notes and chords of 'Eight-Burst.'

Then comes 'Retina' which is backed by the tautness of 'Taurus,' which in turn is followed by the metalistic hopscotch 'Southern Owl.' The album then rounds out with the ethereal 'Spiral,' the scratchy 'Ant,' and then comes to a close on the spiritually solvent 'Rosette.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Solar Wind'
Artist - Joëlle Leandre, Robert Dick & Miya Masaoka

For those not in the know, Solar Wind is a 12-track set of virtuosic collective improvisations with Robert Dick on flute, bass flute, contrabass flute, and piccolo flute; Joelle Leandre on contrabass; and Miya Masaoka on koto and percussion.

Dick and Leandre also punctuate the conversation with their voices on four pieces, as the three come together. Recorded in the studio in NYC in 2018, these quite succinct dialogs that balance abstraction and passionate intention are as unique and as diverse, and as astounding enthralling as anything you have ever heard before, trust me.

1. 'Whispering of the Stars'
2. 'Speed of Silence'
3. 'Chronotype'
4. 'Pagophagia'
5. 'Dinoflagellates'
6. 'Prepsychotic Philosophers'
7. 'Blue Fugates'
8. 'Solar Wind'
9. 'On Time's Edge'
10. 'How Old is Your Shadow?'
11. 'Friends of the Sun'
12. 'Adiabatic'

Featuring so rather wondrous, and deeply innovative instrumentational stylings, the first track 'Whispering of the Stars' showcases perfectly what this trio can do. The frenetic 'Speed of Silence' is then backed by the pulsating tribal depth of 'Chronotype' and that in turn is followed by the skittish 'Pagophagia.'

Next up is the melodrama of 'Dinoflagellates' with the stalking, yet quietly pensive 'Prepsychotic Philosophers' and the controlled mania of 'Blue Fugates' along next.

For all intents and purposes, the title track 'Solar Wind' sounds just like you would expect it to, bristling with the use of wood instruments and breathy cycles and that's backed by the aching 'On Time's Edge.'

The sawing buzz of 'How Old is Your Shadow?' is along next and then the album rounds out with the Eastern flavors of 'Friends of the Sun,' before coming to a close on the more steadfast and rounded piece, 'Adiabatic.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'Beyond the Horizon'
Artist - Lauren Scott

For those not in the know, Lauren Scott's passion for the lever harp inspires her interpretations of atmospheric works by 20th century composers ranging from John Cage and Peter Maxwell Davies to Lennon & McCartney, as well as her own ambient compositions, here on her quite terrific debut solo album, the just-released Beyond the Horizon (out now via AVIE Records).

Born in Australia, UK-based Lauren performs with many of the country's leading orchestras, in West End shows, on commercial recordings, and for radio and TV.

Active in the international harp community, Lauren avidly fosters the next generation of harp players, and has had her music published and performed world-wide.

Lauren's new album Beyond the Horizon casts a twilight glow on the unique qualities of the traditional lever harp (also known as the Celtic harp) and the kaleidoscopic colors it produces, sonorities that Lauren enhances with extended techniques including note bending and percussive effects in her own music.

Lauren Scott (b. 1970)
1. 'Elegy' (4:46)
from Adventures for Lever Harp
2. 'Free Running' (Book 2) (2:00)
3. 'Blue Moon Rising' (Book 2) (3:28)
4. 'First Flight of Spring' (Book 1) (2:39)

Douwe Eisenga (b. 1961)
5. 'For Mattia' (8:02)

Monika Stadler (b. 1963)
6. 'Away for a While' (from New Shoots – Old Roots) (4:14)

Lauren Scott
7. 'Gypsy Dance' (from Adventures for Lever Harp, Book 2) (3:39)

John Cage (1912 – 1992)
8. 'In a Landscape' (8:38)

Peter Maxwell Davies (1934 – 2016)
9. 'Farewell to Stromness' (4:10)

Lauren Scott
10. 'Beyond the Horizon' (4:25)
11. 'Celestial Spirals' (4:18)

John Lennon (1940 – 1980) and Paul McCartney (b. 1942)
12. 'Across the Universe' (4:22)

Lauren Scott
13. 'Crepuscule' (from Adventures for Lever Harp, Book 2) (6:14)

The result is a beautiful and distinctive album with broad appeal, which is shown clearly from the gentle gossamer opening from her own work, 'Elegy.' For 'Free Running' the musical flow captures that title perfectly as shutting your eyes you could happily be taken away to a sumptuous Far East land where the waters flow crystal blue and the grass is as green as you have ever seen.

The more delicate 'Blue Moon Rising' is then backed by the free flowing beauty of 'The first Flight if Spring' (which is rather apt as I am writing this review on the very first day of Spring!)

A soft approach is taken for Douwe Eisenga's 'For Mattia,' which she then follows with the gentle hipsway of 'Away for a While' from Monika Stadler. Another of Lauren's works is then brought forth in the form of the luscious 'Gypsy Dance,' before a journey into the awe inspiring world of John Cage's 'In a Landscape' is brought forth.

We then get what is my own personal favorite here, the ornate beauty of the simply stunning 'Farewell to Stromness' (from Peter Maxwell Davies), which she follows seamlessly with her own fibrous title track, 'Beyond the Horizon.'

That is backed by another of Lauren's work, the translucent 'Celestial Spirals,' with the album rounding out with a magnificently delicate 'Across the Universe' (from, of course, John Lennon and Paul McCartney) and then closes with Lauren's very own 'Crepuscule.'

Official CD Purchase Link

Lauren Scott @ Facebook


Title - 'Where Only Stars Can Hear Us'
Artist - Karim Sulayman & Yi-heng Yang

For those not in the know, in life and music, Grammy Award-winning tenor Karim Sulayman is a master storyteller.

Hence, Where Only Stars Can Hear Us is a journey through the songs of Franz Schubert, a composer who was able to capture joy and sorrow in a single moment like no other.

Karim's voyage traverses themes of darkness and yearning, guided throughout by moonbeams and shining stars and along for the ride is his partner, historical keyboardist Yi-heng Yang; who plays on a fortepiano built by Joseph Simon in Vienna in 1830, adding an air of authenticity from Schubert's time.

Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828)
1. 'Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren, D360' (3.22)
2. 'Die Sterne, D939' (2.56)
3. 'Die Sternennächte, D670' (3.12)
4. 'An die Laute, D905' (1.30)
5. 'Alinde, D904' (4.00)
6. 'Abends unter der Linde, D235' (2.16)
7. 'An den Mond, D193' (3.29)
8. 'Die Forelle, D550' (2.14)
9. 'Des Fischers Liebesglück, D933' (7.14)
10. 'Am Meer (Schwanengesang, D957: No.12)' (4.12)
11. 'Abendbilder, D650' (5.01)
12. 'Nacht und Träume, D827' (3.47)
13. 'Der Vater mit dem Kind, D906' (4.01)
14. 'Erlkönig, D328' (4.07)
15. 'Der Winterabend, D938' (7.18)
16. 'An den Mond, D259' (3.14)
17. 'Nachtgesang D119' (3.35)
18. 'Das Rosenband, D280' (1.40)

Opening with the stoic, yet breathtakingly generous 'Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren, D360,' progressing on through with such works as the hop and skip of 'Die Sterne, D939,' the free flowing perkiness of 'Alinde, D904,' and both the more pronounced 'An den Mond, D193' and the breathy, Spring-like ambiance of 'Abendbilder, D650' showcase the best of this Sulayman and Yang partnership.

Add to that the orchestral brilliance of 'Der Winterabend, D938,' with the album rounding out with the euphoric nature of both 'Nachtgesang D119' and 'Das Rosenband, D280,' and the combination of the velvety tenor and the sublimely skilled pianist culminates a collection of astonishing skill and class to the utmost perfection.

Official CD Purchase Link

Yi-heng Yang @ Facebook


Title - 'Love is ...' [EP]
Artist - Sophie Fatu

For those not in the know, Sophie Fatu appeared on America's Got Talent Season 13 when she was only 5 years old.

Making her the youngest contestant in AGT history, she auditioned with Frank Sinatra’s 'My Way' and earned Yes votes from all four judges.

In the Judge Cuts, Sophie next sang 'New York, New York,' and although she didn’t make it through to the next round, there was a notably cute moment when Simon told Sophie that his son Eric had a crush on her (Eric, who was hanging out with his dad on set, ran away embarrassed!)

Outside of America’s Got Talent, Sophie has recorded popular Frank Sinatra covers on her YouTube channel and has also since appeared on Little Big Shots and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Released via Extraordinary Records just before Christmas, Sophie's adorable 6-track debut EP Love is … showcases this young lady for all she's worth, whilst announcing to her fans and followers that she most assuredly has one foot already firmly on the ladder of success.

1. 'Ain't That a Kick in the Head?'
2. 'Goody Goody'
3. '(Love Is) The Tender Trap'
4. 'All the Way'
5. 'Feeling Good'
6. 'High Hopes'

Kicking things off in fine style with the euphoric 'Ain't That a Kick in the Head?' Sophie backs that up seamlessly with the finger-snappin' 'Goody Goody' and then slow things down with the mid-tempo '(Love Is) The Tender Trap.'

The swaying ballad 'All the Way' is one of her best here, as she doesn't need to reach high end piercing notes and simply allows them to fall gracefully within her range, and she backs that up with the enigmatic 'Feeling Good,' with the EP coming to a close on the bombastic swing of 'High Hopes.'

Listening to this debut EP and it's obvious through every track that Sophie is exuberantly happy, perhaps even smiling her way through the entire recording process.

And why wouldn't she, as Sophie Fatu has everything she needs to succeed in the palm of her hand. Or, more precisely, in her young, but most powerful voice.

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Sophie Fatu @ Facebook

Sophie Fatu @ Instagram

Sophie Fatu @ YouTube


Title - 'Legacy'
Artist - Michael Johnathon

The just-released Legacy CD is an epic journey through the modern world of music, from Pete Seeger to the modern day collapse of the record industry.

Each verse is a chapter, part of the history of modern music, from Pete Seeger to Dylan, Bill Monroe to John Denver, Hip Hop to the aforementioned collapse of the record industry as we knew it.

It is a story of struggle, dreams, believing, hope, aspirations and failure. And, ultimately, victory.

It's the story of every artist facing the inevitable truth that things have changed and how it's getting harder for artists to meet their own audience.

1. 'Legacy'
2. 'Winter Rose'
3. 'Blue Skies'
4. 'Rain'
5. 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door'
6. 'The Coin'
7. 'Loyalty'
8. 'The Twinkie Song'
9. 'Like A Rolling Stone'
10. 'Woody's Poem'

This quite breathtakingly passionate new compilation opens with the title track, a folksinger’s life brought forth through an epic nine minute opus, and that's backed seamlessly by the quietly melodic, Beatlesesque beauty of 'Winter Rose,' and then the banjo-inspired majesty of 'Blue Skies.'

The stunning gossamer of the shortest track on the album, the under two-minute new original song 'Rain' still makes it one of my own personal favorites, and that's followed by a reworked, yet no less wistful, and thoroughly rousing rendition of 'Bob Dylan's 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door.'

Another original song is up next in the form of 'The Coin.' Another impassioned bout of storytelling that's then backed by the luscious melodies of 'Loyalty' and then the upbeat folk-Americana of 'The Twinkle Song.'

This quite magnificent album then rounds out with another ardent take on a Dylan song, this time the "confrontational lyrics" associated with 'Like A Rolling Stone,' before coming to a close with the passionate piano notes and spoken word lyrics of 'Woody's Poem.'

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Mahler: Symphony No. 8'
Artist - Yannick Nézet-Séguin/The Philadelphia Orchestra

For those not in the know, in September 2018, Yannick Nézet-Séguin became the third Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012 and the Orchestre Métropolitain of Montreal since 2000, he became Honorary Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra after being their Music Director from 2008 to 2018 (He is also Honorary Member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe).

Yannick has worked with many leading European ensembles and enjoys close collaborations with Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker, Bayerischer Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester and Chamber Orchestra of Europe; between 2008 and 2014, he was also Principal Guest Conductor of London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin's new Mahler recording, Mahler: Symphony No. 8 marks a return to the core symphonic repertoire with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Billed as the “Symphony of a Thousand,” exploring themes of redemption through the power of love, the performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of its music director in March 2016 marked – almost to the day – the 100th anniversary of the glorious U.S. premiere by the very same orchestra in 1916, then conducted by Stokowski.

Performed live with the added edge as also being a tribute to Leopold Stokowski - as aforementioned, the man who first performed and recorded Mahler 8 in America - this American performance of the work is simply magnificent.

With the playing of the Philadelphia Orchestra as incredible as you could only hope and wish it to be, Nézet-Séguin's conducting is ardently energetic, but nonetheless at all times passionately thoughtful.

From the off, and no matter how dense the orchestrations, it remains clear and crisp throughout. With all the tempo relationships from one section to the next combining effortlessly with the abundance of subtle shifts, everything here is just so perfectly, and at all times organically blended.

Official Purchase Link

Title - 'Five Man London Jam' [2LP Vinyl]
Artist - Tesla

For those not in the know, Tesla is an American rock band formed in Sacramento, California in late 1981 by bassist Brian Wheat and guitarist Frank Hannon.

Lead vocalist Jeff Keith, drummer Troy Luccketta, and guitarist Tommy Skeoch joined them by 1984. By 1986, the band had changed from its glam-derived sound to a 'rootsier' direction under a new name: Tesla.

In 1996, the band disbanded, with members devoting themselves to solo projects. In 2000, they reformed, but Tommy Skeoch departed the band in 2006 and was replaced by Dave Rude.

They have sold 14 million albums in the United States to date and now the legendary American rock band will release their new live album, Five Man London Jam worldwide on March 27th, 2020 (via UMe).

The album is a live performance of some their most iconic songs from their catalog. Recorded when Tesla (Brian Wheat – Bass / Piano / Backing Vocals; Frank Hannon – Guitars / Backing Vocals; Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals; Troy Luccketta – Drums / Percussion; and Dave Rude – Guitar / Backing Vocals) visited the famed iconic recording studio Abbey Road Studios for a one-night musical event, Five Man London Jam captures the band performing many fan favorite songs from their legendary arsenal.

Side A:
1. 'Comin' Atcha Live' / 'Truckin'
2. 'Tied To The Tracks'
3. 'We Can Work It Out'
4. 'Signs'

Side B:
5. 'What You Give'
6. 'California Summer Song'
7. 'Forever Loving You'

Side C:
8. 'Miles Away'
9. 'Paradise'
10. 'Call It What You Want'

Side D:
11. 'Stir It Up'
12. 'Into The Now'
13. 'Love Song'

The album, which documents their June 2019 performance at the aforementioned London's Abbey Road Studios, will be available on CD, as two vinyl LPs (which is what we are reviewing here for you today - and which there will also be a limited edition Red & Blue vinyl released!) and digital formats.

Oh, and the show itself, named in reference to their 1990 Five Man Acoustical Jam show from 1990 (which was recorded live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the Trocadero Theatre during a short run of acoustic shows organized to fill downtime while supporting Mötley Crüe on a leg of their Dr. Feelgood tour), was also filmed in 4K high-definition for a companion Blu-Ray release.

Using acoustic guitars instead of the electric for which hard rock/heavy metal bands such as Tesla are traditionally known, what we get are laid back and totally excellent renditions of some of their fan favs, along with, of course, their biggest hit, the catchy brilliance of 'Signs.'

A cover version originally from the band Five Man Electrical Band, who also had a hit with the song, some of the other tracks they chose to perform that day include 'Love Song' and 'The Way It Is' (hits from their album prior to this recording, The Great Radio Controversy), and even a cheeky cover of the Grateful Dead ditty 'Truckin'.'

Sadly, unlike the original, there are no redo's of covers such as both the Rolling Stones' 'Mother's Little Helper' or Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Lodi', but we do get, especially given where they were recording, is a rather delightful cover of the The Beatles' 'We Can Work It Out'.

Also inclusive here, and also what makes this album (which HAS to be listened to, and fully experienced on vinyl, my friends, trust me!) very special is it features the live debut of their 2019 cut 'California Summer Song', from their latest album Shock (of which both 'Tied To The Tracks' and 'Forever Loving You' also appear).

So, yeah, that's right, you read it correctly, the hard rocking, creatively sonic, face crushing Tesla you once knew and loved has left the building here and has been lovingly replaced by a more mellow, cultured version of the band.

Sure Jeff Keith's vocals are a wee bit gravelly, seemingly torn and raw at times stretching for notes you don't think he'll ever reach, and yet he manages to, each and every time.

But this is the modern day Tesla and one that still takes their music seriously, wanting to give fans something different after all these years.

Their last album Shock was also somewhat over polished, not really featuring any hard and fast songs, but when you sing and perform as much as Tesla do, well, everything has to be finely retuned along the way; or the wheels will come right off!

Funnily enough, and given that Def Leppard's Phil Cohen had produced that last album for them, you can definitely hear acoustic Leppard here in this recording.

Most likely down to Keith's vocal approach being very similar to Joe Elliott's, Tesla still play and record classic rock - and God Bless them for that!

Official 2LP Vinyl Purchase Link

Official 2LP RED & BLUE Vinyl Purchase Link

Official Blu-ray Purchase Link

Click Here To Watch The Video For 'We Can Work It Out'

Tesla @ Facebook

Tesla @ Twitter

Produced by Tesla, Five Man London Jam is being released in conjunction with the group’s upcoming North American tour dates that will run throughout 2020:

Tesla 2020 North American tour
Apr 10: Toppenish Legends Casino Hotel, WA
Apr 11: Wendover Peppermill Concert Hall, NV
Apr 14: El Cajon The Magnolia, CA
Apr 15: Phoenix Celebrity Theatre, AZ
Apr 17: Las Vegas House of Blues, NV
Apr 18: Tucson Pima County Fair, AZ
Apr 21: Wichita The Cotillion, KS
Apr 22: Peoria Civic Center, IL
Apr 24: Harris Island Resort Casino, MI
Apr 25: Harris Island Resort Casino, MI
Apr 28: Grand Rapids 20 Monroe Live, MI
Apr 29: Indianaplois Murat Theatre, IN
May 01: Niagara Falls The Rapids Theatre, NY
May 02: Columbia Merriweather Post Pavilion, MD
May 30: Paso Robles Vina Robles Amphitheatre, CA
May 31: Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl, CA
Jun 03: Denver The Mission Ballroom, CO
Jun 05: Thackerville Winstar World Casino, OK
Jun 06: Topeka Stormont Vail Events Center, KS
Jun 07: St Louis Hollywood Casino, MO
Jun 09: Nashville Ascend Amphitheatre, TN
Jun 10: Huber Heights Rose Music Center, OH
Jun 12: Welch Treasure Island Resort & Casino, MN
Jun 13: Chicago Rosemont Horizon, IL
Jun 14: Cuyahoga Falls Blossom Music Center, OH
Jun 16: Boston Rockland Trust Bank Pav, MA
Jun 17: Wilkes Barre Mohegan Sun Arena, PA
Jun 19: Holmdel PNC Bank Arts Center, NJ
Jun 20: Gilford Bank of NH Pavilion at Meadowbrook, NH
Jun 23: Long Island Jones Beach, NY
Jun 25: Philadelphia Mann Center for Performing Arts, PA
Jun 26: Pittsburgh S&T Bank Music Park, PA
Jun 27: Clarkston DTE Energy Music Theatre, MI
Oct 27: Playa Mujeres The Sands Festival at Dreams Golf Resort & Spa, Mexico

Title - 'Hunted'
Artist - Anna Calvi

For those not in the know, 18 months after the release of Hunter, which explored sexuality and breaking the laws of gender conformity, Anna Calvi has revisited her initial, more intimate recordings of those songs.

The versions on the just-released Hunted (Domino Music) find her masterful guitar playing and formidable vocals distilled to their bare essence, in the company of collaborators Courtney Barnett, Joe Talbot (IDLES), Charlotte Gainsbourg and Julia Holter.

Indeed, the tracks on Hunted shine under the light of a different lens, one that brings the innate fragility of the compositions to the forefront and exquisitely melds together the dichotomy of the hunter and the hunted, the primal and the beautiful, the vulnerable and the strong.

1. 'Swimming Pool' (feat. Julia Holter) [Hunted Version]
2. 'Hunter' [Hunted Version]
3. 'Eden' (feat. Charlotte Gainsbourg) [Hunted Version]
4. 'Away' [Hunted Version]
5. 'Don’t Beat The Girl out of My Boy' (feat. Courtney Barnett) [Hunted Version]
6. 'Wish' (feat. Joe Talbot of IDLES) [Hunted Version]
7. 'Indies or Paradise' [Hunted Version]

In completely acoustically reworking all seven of these tracks here on Hunted, Calvi has managed to sculpture some honest to God ethereal gems that, in some ways, exceed the created working that went before them.

Opening with the haunting 'Swimming Pool' (featuring the almost angelic register of Julia Holter), the track now takes on a shimmering glaze, one that simply transports you to a whole other place than the original dared to.

The twanging, electronically countryfied 'Hunter' is an impassioned lean forward from the genesis of the original, and is backed seamlessly by her impalpable 'Eden.'

Featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg’s whispered entreaties, that is then followed by the raw, honest, stripped down and laid bare quiet stillness of 'Away' which is backed by a rather faithful version of her alt-pop track 'Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy’ (featuring Courtney Barnett).

This quite incredible new 7-track EP then rounds out with the jangly fuzz guitar work found on 'Wish' (which features Joe Talbot from IDLES bringing forth his own brand of alt-angst), and then comes to a close on the foreboding, empowering guitar rock cut, 'Indies or Paradise.'

Anna Calvi will also soon embark on her first North American tour in support of Hunter and Hunted.

The headline dates in April are part of a run that also includes the previously-announced Coachella performance, all dates below:

03/30 @ Palais Montcalm - Quebec City, QC
04/01 @ Mod Club - Toronto, ON
04/02 @ Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL
04/05 @ Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY
04/06 @ Rough Trade NYC - Brooklyn, NY
04/09 @ The Echo - Los Angeles, CA
04/11 @ Coachella - Indio Valley, CA
04/15 @ The Independent - San Francisco, CA
04/18 @ Coachella - Indio Valley, CA
05/29 @ All Points East - London, UK
08/06 @ Haldern Pop Festival - Haldern, DE
09/19 @ Reeperbahn Festival - Hamburg, DE

Official CD Purchase Link

Official RED Vinyl LP Purchase Link

Anna Calvi @ Facebook

Anna Calvi @ Instagram

Anna Calvi @ Twitter

Title - 'Outside the Window'
Artist - Gooch and the Motion

For those not in the know, and with the message of hope instead of hopelessness running brazenly through it, widely acclaimed disabled Blues rocker and band leader Ryan “Gooch” Nelson’s South Jersey-based Gooch and the Motion have just released their long-awaited sophomore album.

Entitled Outside the Window, and to be honest, no matter the genre, the Motion’s blues-based groove weaves through the music with seamless flow and continuity.

Returning to produce is nine-time Grammy winner Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo (Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Lauryn Hill, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan), who also produced the band’s 2016 debut (Comin’ Home).

Nicolo says Gooch and the Motion has “a one-of-a-kind sound that also makes you nostalgic for artists you’ve listened to in the past," and listening to this new album (which I've done twice now, back-to-back), well, it's hard to deny that.

1. 'Do You Feel'
2. 'Lead Me to Glory'
3. 'Leave the Guitar with Me'
4. 'New Orleans'
5. 'Party Jam'
6. 'Pray'
7. 'Roll It Up'
8. 'Up All Night'
9. 'Walk Alone'
10. 'When I’m Gone'
11. 'Zodiac'

Opening with the mid-tempo, lo-fi angst of 'Do You Feel' ("Don't tell me I don't have a reason to fight"), next up is the foot-tappin' growl of 'Lead Me to Glory,' which itself is backed by the upbeat, break up bounce of 'Leave the Guitar with Me,' and then the funky blues swagger of 'New Orleans.'

Next up is the short, yet still terrific '70s funk groove of 'Party Jam,' and that's then backed seamlessly by the harmonica-driven slow jam 'Pray.'

One of my own personal favorites here is the stoic, yet rhythmic, Americana rendering of 'Roll It Up,' which is followed by the gentle finger-snappin' brilliance of 'Up All Night.'

This quite magnificent album then rounds out with the Caribbean flow of 'Walk Alone,' then the lush acoustic/electric guitar harmonies of 'When I'm Gone,' before coming to a close on the slow-cooked blues rocker 'Zodiac.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Watch the documentary trailer for 'The Motion: Gooch’s Journey' here!

Gooch and the Motion @ Facebook

Gooch and the Motion @ Instagram

Gooch and the Motion @ Twitter

Gooch and the Motion @ YouTube

Title - 'California Dream'
Artist - Tom Sless

With ceaseless creativity, an ear for the just-right melody and lyric, and with a passion for song, the singer, songwriter, and guitar slinger known as Tom Sless writes songs and produces music that evoke his disappointments, hopes, joys, and loves.

With a vibe that alternates between the celebratory country rock of Luke Combs, the nod-and-a-wink humor of Sturgill Simpson, and the rough-hewn folksiness of Donovan Woods, Sless carries us along with him on a soulful ride down the winding roads of life and love on his wonderful debut album, California Dream.

1. 'California Dream'
2. 'Taking Me Back'
3. 'Astronaut'
4. 'Ready To'
5. 'Why Oh Why'
6. 'Coming Home'
7. 'Gimme the Breeze'
8. 'Too Much on My Mind'

Kicking off with Americana rock of the title track, Tom immediately gets our attention, and as we progress, his musical messages carry us along on his rich journey.

Those richly layered sounds which flow evenly throughout the vocals and instruments alike continues onward with both the upbeat country rocker 'Taking Me Back' and then comes the country-folk pop-bounce of 'Astronaut.'

On this quite excellent, and well rounded album (which Tom co-produced with John Bottrell - Christina Perri, Mike Posner), Tom next brings us the Southern, James Tayloresque rocker 'Ready To.'

That's backed up by the downcast, yet emotionally heartfelt moment of the album, 'Why Oh Why,' which relates to the Thousand Oaks, CA shooting, and the fires that happened thereafter.

The country crooner, the Darius Ruckeresque 'Coming Home' is the followed by the raucous guitar-driven 'Gimme the Breeze,' with the album rounding out with the looping, pedal steel-driven studio jam 'Too Much on My Mind.'

In closing, Tom loves the journey he’s been on, and California Dream gives him the chance to share his outlook on life. “This album came out when it did,” he says, “in part because it’s a huge part of my building up to a realization of myself.”

Tom’s insightful lyrics and catchy tunes are all about “breaking free of what is happening now, creating your own mindset, and letting yourself go into what makes you feel free, and what you are passionate about.”

Official Purchase Links

Tom Sless @ Facebook

Tom Sless @ Instagram

Tom Sless @ YouTube

Title - Destination Rachmaninov: Piano Ctos & Transcripts
Artist - Daniil Trifonov

For those not in the know, this simply incredible, limited-edition vinyl combines all four Rachmaninov piano concertos and transcriptions from Daniil Trifonov's acclaimed Destination Rachmaninov album series, Departure and Arrival, into one wondrous 4LP set.

Phenomenal Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov traverses the four piano concertos of his musical idol, Sergei Rachmaninov, accompanied by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Brimming with passion, spirituality and technical fireworks, the journey represents an Olympian test for the interpreter while offering an intimate chronicle of life transformed by social, political and cultural currents at the end of the 20th century.

Trifonov's virtuosity and poetic devotion to these concerti is augmented by a selection of his own Rachmaninov transcriptions, including an exclusive, extended version of the beloved Vocalise.

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

LP 1 - Side A:
1. The Silver Sleigh Bells, op. 35, 1st movt. (6:56)
Transcription for piano solo: Daniil Trifonov
Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, op.1
2. 1. Vivace - Moderato - Vivace (13:08)

This magnificent 4LP vinyl recording opens with Trifonov’s own transcription of music from Rachmaninov’s choral-orchestral masterpiece, The Silver Sleigh Bells.

Trifonov himself has said that “The work’s fluid energy is highly pianistic, even if it is challenging for the performer to sustain a legato line and soft dynamic range through so much elaborate passagework,” and yet any such challenges are fully mastered in Trifonov’s performance; and his idiomatic transcription would convince anyone that the work was originally written for the piano.

An excellent and most appropriate introduction to Piano Concerto No.1, of that I'm sure you are all well aware by now, furthermore, this is a fantastic performance of The Bells and one that openly resonates throughout.

Indeed, his playing of the up-next concertos is interesting in that he takes slower tempi in certain movements and sections of movements (such as in the 2nd movement of the 1st concerto and in the 3rd movement coda of the 3rd concerto).

Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia orchestra provide what well may be the finest orchestral contribution in any set I know and Trifonov shows us why he is such a hot commodity now a days.

If you were not aware, Philadelphia was Rachmaninoff's orchestra where he recorded all of his concertos and the Rhapsody under Stockowski and Ormandy.

LP 2 - Side B:
1. 2. Andante (7:20)
2. 3. Allegro vivace (7:47)
3. Vocalise, op. 34, no. 14 (3:34)
Transcription for piano solo: Daniil Trifonov

Trifonov gives every phrase, every note, every color and every nuance expression with the most coherent, passionate, reflective and stunning musicianship here on this second side; and one that contains the highly impressive Vocalise.

Vocalise is also an expression of deep spiritual longing. The work begins with a motif prefiguring the opening solo piano statement of the Third Concerto, with tightly woven relations between notes, and close, chromatic interrupted progressions.

It's here that Trifonov's transcription heightens the poignant intensity of its feeling.

LP 2 - Side A:
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op. 18
1. Moderato - Piu vivo - Allegro - Maestoso (Alla marcia) - Moderato (11:14)
2. Adagio sostenuto (11:47)

Wow! I mean, the technical aspect of Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op. 18 is simply flawless here. Complete with such brilliant energy and touch from the man himself, the phrasing of the Partia is quite striking alone.

I mean, this often-recorded and played Second features Trifonov’s combination of possessed frenzy and ardent lovemaking, belaying his unswervingly amazing technique.

Each note can be easily identified, yet they cascade smoothly like a pulsating waterfall. The combination of strength and tenderness more than validate why I love Trifonov and his dedicated performances.

Indeed, and telling it like it is, Trifonov is a true master and this has to be, if only in my own humble opinion, one of the greatest works he has done thus far.

He plays lighter and faster than some, but the clarity and poetry is there in spades in the concertos and the Philadelphia Orchestra offers superb support throughout, of course.

LP 2 - Side B:
1. 3. Allegro scherzando - Moderato - Allegro scherzando - Presto - Moderato - Allegro scherzando - Alla breve. Agitato - Presto - Maestoso - Risoluto (12:16)
Suite from J.S. Bach's Partita for Violin solo in E major BWV 1006
Transcription for piano
2. 1. Preludio. Non allegro (3:48)
3. 2. Gavotte (2:45)
4. 3. Gigue (1:42)

As always, it's simply terrific to hear Trifonov perform these pieces with the masterful Philadelphia Orchestra playing the same pieces Rachmaninov played with them.

Also loved the very playful Bach transcription from Shostakovich in the middle of these works. The soulful, introspective aspect to Rachmaninov's musical expression, his symbiosis of cultural nostalgic and spiritual longing, comes to its fullest expression in the Partita suite.

What occurs deep within this particular movement is a good example of pianist and conductor masterful control over tempo changes. The peek of the musical phrase is emphasized with slowing down, holding all the weight, while right afterward the pianist takes us back to the original tempo with his solo re-entering.

On other performances, it would have sounded too “romanticized” – here it sounds just right.

LP 3 - Side A:
Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, op. 30
1. 1. Allegro ma non tanto (17:26)

Rachmaninoff’s No. 3 is one of my all-time favorite works, as is also Horowitz’s 1951 with Reiner and 1978 with Ormandy. Trifonov’s recording is one to retain however, does not outrank Horowitz, in my humble opinion.

Looking deeper into this third movement, here in sonata-rondo form, it's another opportunity for flashy brilliance, which Trifonov and the Philadelphians clearly relish.

Certainly, we hear why Rachmaninov himself thought so highly of this concerto and was so often frustrated when concert promoters did not share that enthusiasm.

That said, Trifonov's interpretations, well, they are, nevertheless, convincing, and come across as heartfelt and sincere. The emotional communication in the performances is key here as they are very moving performances, one and all.

LP 3 - Side B:
1. 2. Intermezzo. Adagio - attacca: (11:19)
2. 3. Finale. Alla breve (14:25)

There are truly very few players today that can bring the clarity that Trifonov himself does in the composer's polyphonic textures, and do it at top speed besides.

Give it a moment to sink in, and it will sweep you along. Sample the first movement of Intermezzo. Adagio and you will be as spellbound hearing it for the first time (via Trifonov) and still more so twenty listens later, you have my word.

Furthermore, and in lesser hands, the music could have been overly flashy and loud, moving from one climax to the next, but Trifonov and Nézet-Séguin are clearly focused on allowing the music to continually grow and expand into the overwhelming hymn of praise unleashed in the coda.

LP 4 - Side A:
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, op. 40
1. 1. Allegro vivace (10:06)
2. 2. Largo (7:05)

If you heard some hidden treasures in the Second Concerto’s score, then you’re in for a treat in this version of the Fourth, maybe even more impressive a performance than the second.

One has to admit the piece’s small weaknesses; it’s not as accessible, seductive or well-organized a composition as the other three concertos, but it certainly can’t be dismissed or ignored for lack of originality.

Indeed, the performance of the Fourth Concerto, which Rachmaninov premiered in Philadelphia in 1927, is equally exceptional here to my mind.

The orchestra’s ability to weave silky, technicolor webs of sound comes into its own here, just as the extraordinary crispness and rhythmic precision of Trifonov’s playing is showcased to near perfection in the most glorious finale.

LP 4 - Side B:
1. 3. Allegro vivace (9:24)
2. Vocalise, op. 34 no. 14 (long version) (5:09)
Transcription for piano solo: Daniil Trifonov (Bonus Track)

On the album-ending Allegro vivace, whether the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Seguin is swept up in the excitement or simply draws on institutional memory (Rachmaninov himself played the concerto with the orchestra under Eugene Ormandy in 1941), the strings have rarely sounded so penetrating and rich.

There’s also a rather tremendous verve and dash in the finale, too, which the score clearly invites – particularly if you recall the original Allegro scherzando, rather than the Allegro vivace of the revision.

Oh, and whether Trifonov’s opening solo in the slow movement strays over the border between expressive and self-indulgent maybe a personal matter.

As with the aforementioned shorter version, Vocalise here is curiously subdued at first and then, just as curiously, the tone hardens as the texture grows; especially here on this long version.

in closing, what strikes the most about Trifonov and Nézet-Séguin’s version is how modern it can sound in the right hands. I mean, finally you could hear Rachmaninov looking forward to the 20th century rather than looking back to the 19th.

Official 4LP Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Oper auf Deutsch' [15 CD Box-Set]
Artist - Various

Simply put, this masterful 15 CD Box-Set is a real, genuine treasure trove for opera lovers and tells the astonishing story of an era when all the many municipal opera houses in the German-speaking world performed the standard repertoire from Bizet to Verdi in the local language only.

Indeed, artists like Fritz Wunderlich had to relearn their roles when they performed on the international stage. Later, it was Karajan who broke with tradition and insisted that operas should be performed in their original language.

Ergo, Oper Auf Deutsch (out now via, of course, Deutsche Grammophon), contains all of the repertoire over 15 CDs - which are also available digitally – including 9 of the 15 albums for the first time ever!

Previously German record companies have released a number of operas sung in German, often as highlights, as the international market for complete recordings in the original language was too small for the budgets required, but this is the very first time that the complete repertoire has been brought together within one masterfully curated collection.

CD1: *Bizet: Carmen – Highlights
CD2: *D’Albert: Tiefland – Highlights
CD3: *Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana / *Leoncavallo: Der Bajazzo – Highlights
CD4: Lortzing: Zar Und Zimmermann – Highlights
CD5: Mozart: Die Hochzeit Des Figaro, K. 492 – Highlights
CD6: *Offenbach: Hoffmanns Erzählungen – Highlights
CD7: Puccini: La Bohème – Highlights
CD8: *Rossini: Der Barbier Von Sevilla – Highlights
CD9: Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin, Op.24 – Highlights
CD10: *Thomas: Mignon – Highlights
CD11: *Verdi: Aida – Highlights
CD12: *Verdi: Die Macht Des Schicksals – Highlights
CD13: Verdi: La Traviata – Highlights
CD14: Verdi: Nabucco – Highlights
CD15: *Verdi: Rigoletto – Highlights

* First digital release

The fifteen operatic highlights, sung in German, that are included in Oper Auf Deutsch were all created via major studio productions of the 1960s.

The casts are exceptional and feature the greatest voices of the period, even in minor roles, including Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Brigitte Fassbaender, Ernst Haefliger, Irmgard Seefried, Rita Streich, Sándor Kónya, Ingeborg Hallstein, Hans Hotter, Inge Borkh, Franz Crass, Gisela Vivarelli, Martti Talvela and many more.

The collection includes the first CD release of Carmen featuring Gisela Litz, Ernst Kozub, Franz Crass, Badische Staatskapelle and Marcel Couraud.

Not that I can bestow endless written praise on all these 15 titles (well, I guess I could, but it would be the longest CD review in history!), so what I'll do instead is pick out some of my own highlights.

First up, quite literally, is Bizet: Carmen featuring Gisela Litz and company and my oh my what an incredible, heart poundingly invigorating work it truly is.

Trained in Hamburg, following her studies, Gisela Litz began her stage career at the Staatstheater of Wiesbaden. In 1952 she came to the Staatsoper of Hamburg, at which she had a long, successful career.

She appeared there, among other things, in March 1954 in the premiere of the opera Die Heirat by B. Martinù. She achieved great successes with appearances in Munich, Rome, Lisbon, Brussels and Buenos Aires.

On the evening of the 31st performance of Carmen, Bizet died of a heart attack brought on by a throat affliction (probably cancer). He was 36.

Carmen rapidly grew in popularity. Had Bizet lived another few months he would have experienced its total triumph; another three years and he would have seen it produced in almost every major opera house in Europe.

There are many good recordings of Carmen, one of the most popular operas of all, but this one included here has shot straight to the top of my list, for sure.

Gisela Litz proves the star of the set, as she should be since she sings the eponymous heroine. She sings with an extraordinarily rich and steady mezzo that enables her to inflect her lines with insight and passion.

For me, Litz effaces all memories of those how have since gone by in the role, with her performance as honest, sensitive, and recognizably Bizet's Carmen as no one has ever quite managed.

The next stand out for me us Puccini: La Bohème, where this particular performance, for me, is a definitive gem also.

As with all the recordings, it follows a practice little employed in the 21st century, but still in active if already declining use in the middle of the last century, that of singing an opera in a language other that in which it was written; that being German here rather than Italian.

The casting however, is imposing by any contemporary standard, with Pilar Lorengar, Rita Streich, Sándor Kónya and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the lead roles with Albert Erede leading the Staatskapelle Dresden.

Pilar's voice has a velvety sweetness that no other tenor can capture. And a very young Streich sings with such youth and innocence that she just breaks your heart.

Indeed, the whole cast sings with great feeling and they sound as though they are really enjoying themselves.

Next up would be Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin, Op.24, which has gone down as being his most popular romantic opera, of course.

Perhaps more than the others, this 1960's recording actually has the whiff of an earlier age about it; something to do with the rather harsh sound and an element of the old-fashioned "stand and sing" style in the delivery of the cast, one assumes.

No problems with uncertain accents or verbal inflexions here; these are artists with the music in their blood.

As is often the case, the rather mature Tatyana - Evelyn Lear, around fifty here - is rather more convincing as the married woman than the naïve ingenue of the first act, but she successfully lightens her voice to begin with; and despite a few shrill top notes delivers a sympathetic portrayal very much in the style of a young Vishnevskaya - her rival and compatriot. She is clearly an intelligent artist and the occasional lack of vocal allure is compensated for by her identification with the role. Her Onegin, Fritz Wunderlich was blessed with an exceptionally attractive, vibrant, light baritone, yet could be a maddeningly stand-offish singer; sometimes failing to make much effort to complement his beauty of tone with a comparable depth of characterization.

But his is a slow-burn approach, rather like the performance as a whole, and by the time we get to that unbearably poignant final meeting of the deux amants manqués their desperation is palpable.

Lastly I would plump for Verdi: La Traviata, for these is so much in this recording to warrant repeated listening. Hilde Guden uses her rather dark and smoky voice to great effect. As vocal acting and intelligent singing Gudenn's performance is as good as anything I know since the time of Callas.

As far as the eponymous tragic-heroine is concerned La Traviata is an opera of two distinct parts. In Act 1 the role demands a coloratura soprano of lightness and agility. Acts 2 and 3 on the other hand require a voice of greater weight and color.

These qualities are obviously necessary if the singer portraying Violetta is adequately to characterize and express her emotional circumstances and mental state.

Without over-stressing the issue, Claudia Hermann breathtakingly conveys Violetta’s actions and plight seamlessly, painstakingly perfectly in all of the three acts on this recording.

In his insightful liner notes for the Oper Auf Deutsch 15-CD Box-Set, Jürgen Kesting observes, “It was Herbert von Karajan who during his time as ‘general music director of Europe’ insisted that operas should be performed in their original language in Vienna, Salzburg and Milan."

"This was not just the result of musical and linguistic considerations: it also allowed every star singer to appear in his or her signature roles in major opera houses all over the world.”

Official 15CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'Shadow of Doubt'
Artist - Satin Nickel

For those not in the know, NYC-based folk-pop band, Satin Nickel, will release their first full-length album, Shadow of Doubt, on April 10th, 2020.

Satin Nickel was formed in 2017, a collaboration between Morgan Hollingsworth and Samantha Aneson — two songwriters who met while studying theater at the University of California, Irvine.

They began writing together after relocating to NYC and found a musical spark. After creating a catalog of music, ranging in styles from Folk to Blues to Indie, they played a couple shows together, cementing their passion for the project.

The following winter, they met fellow theater artists and future bandmates Nikola Balac (Drums) and Ariana Karp (Cello), and after a couple months of rehearsing, they recorded their debut EP and began playing venues in Brooklyn.

Adding bassist Andrew Shewaga to the group, they recorded this quite brilliant full-length debut, Shadow of Doubt.

1. 'Train Song'
2. 'Call It'
3. 'Secondhand Smoke'
4. 'Last Night'
5. 'Just Keep Running'
6. 'Free'
7. 'Ballad Of Yankee Jim'
8. 'Good Love'
9. 'The Shadow of Doubt'

The album kicks off in some fine style with the upbeat, one-two Americana bounce of 'Train Song,' before gliding seamlessly into the guitar-led, lo-fi groove of 'Call It' (a song inspired by the personal experiences of Aneson).

The quite wondrous, old school vinyl listening experience approach to 'Secondhand Smoke' is next, and then comes the luscious acoustic ballad 'Last Night.'

Up next is my own personal favorite, the upbeat, guitar-laden, foot-tappin' rock of 'Just Keep Running' (which has Hollingsworth take the lead), which is backed by the acoustic, aching balladeer beauty of 'Free.'

The raw, country-hued, Cash-esque storytelling of 'The Ballad of Yankee Jim' is up next, with the album rounding out with the sublime lo-fi wonderment of 'Good Love,' and then comes the ambient at times, ragged rock-tinged vibes of the title track, 'The Shadow of Doubt.'

Pre-Sale Purchase Links

Satin Nickel @ Facebook

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Satin Nickel Merch Store

Title - 'Fiesta Global'
Artist - Flor Bromley

For those not in the know, a Latin fusion party for kids and parents alike, Fiesta Global abounds in a profusion of creativity, color, Latin rhythms, and beautiful sound while showcasing Flor Bromley's vocal abilities, songwriting talent, and stylistic fluency.

Flor is a bilingual recording artist, actress, singer/songwriter, storyteller and puppeteer. She is originally from Lima, Peru where she graduated from La Escuela de Teatro de la Universidad Catolica with a degree in Acting and Theatre Education. In 2007, she moved to New York to live in her dream city.

In addition, Fiesta Global features contributions from a virtual Who's Who of Latin performers that includes Latin GRAMMY winner 123 Andrés, Noemi Gasparini (of Latin GRAMMY-winning Flor de Toloache), Latin GRAMMY nominee Damaris, Mexico's renowned Claudio Vega, and family music favorite Jazzy Ash, all backed up by an all-star instrumental and vocal team.

Arriving on April 24th, 2020, Fiesta Global brings to the party musical genres from up and down the Western Hemisphere: Peruvian marinera, Mexican son jarocho, NOLA jazz, punk rock, Brazilian batacuda, Colombian cumbia, and more, all done with a breathtaking air of "hands on" authenticity and cultural respect.

1. 'Fiesta'
2. 'We Came To America'
3. 'Lalalalala (Cumbia)' (featuring 123 Andres)
4. 'Vida'
5. 'Bamba' (featuring Claudio Vega)
6. 'Panuelo' (featuring Damaris)
7. 'Otono'
8. 'Salta'
9. 'Balloon Party' (featuring Jazzy Ash)
10. 'Superheroe'
11. 'Vinimos A America'

Her debut album, Chiqui Music Boom was also a music experience that encompassed rhythms and sounds from around the world, including Peruvian Festejo, Brazilian Samba, Mexican Mariachi, Bluegrass, and Rock n’ Roll.

So going into this brand new sophomore album you kinda already know you are in safe hands for a melodically fun good time!

The album opens with the drum-led, fiesta fun-filled vibe of, well, 'Fiesta,' of course, with the lower-tempo'd, English-sung 'We Came To America' up next.

The beautiful, Colombian hipsway of 'Lalalalala (Cumbia)' (featuring 123 Andres) is next and is backed by the beautiful acoustic guitar work of 'Vida.'

The tempo rises for their version of the well-known 'Bamba' (featuring Claudio Vega) and that is backed by the trumpet-led 'Panuelo' (featuring Damaris).

The quieter, lo-fi 'Otono' is a real gem here and is backed by the SKA-influenced brilliance of 'Salta' and then the upbeat, poppy energy (no pun intended) of 'Balloon Party' (featuring Jazzy Ash) is next.

The album then rounds out with the guitar rocker 'Superheroe' before coming to a close on the gentle fiesta vibe of 'Vinimos A America' sung in Flor's native tongue.

"Growing up Peruvian, I listened to a mix of very different musical genres," Flor explains. "When I first met producer Sinuhé Padilla, I told him I wanted to make an album that mixes all the musical rhythms from my youth."

"He's a musical encyclopedia who knows and plays all Latin rhythms with ease. His trajectory is vast; he's worked with Lila Downs, Flor de Toloache, and Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, to name just a few. Having him on board for Fiesta Global is very special."

Flor Bromley @ Facebook

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Flor Bromley @ Instagram

Flor Bromley @ YouTube

Title - 'Note to Self'
Artist - Jah9

For those not in the know, Jah9 (Janine Elizabeth Cunningham) was born in Montego Bay in Saint James, Jamaica. Her father was a Baptist minister and her mother was a teacher and social worker.

She spent much of her childhood in Falmouth, Trelawny and in 1991 the family moved to Kingston. After a period at the university she commenced realizing her musical passion - which has often been described as "jazz on dub", because her singing voice is influenced by Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, partly combined with the dancehall sound of Sizzla and the more potent dub rhythms similar to those of Augustus Pablo.

In 2013 her first album New Name appeared which was followed by the "self-titled" 9 (2016) and then a year later Mad Professor Meets Jah9 in the Midst of the Storm (2017).

And come March 13th, 2020, Jah9 returns with the highly-anticipated Note To Self (via VP Records).

The culmination of more than two years of touring and recording, a true voice of the reggae renaissance, Jah9 is a powerful writer and inspiring performer primed to take her spot at center stage in the genre.

The album blends productions from reggae veteran Clive Hunt with appearances from Pressure and Chronixx and presents a spectrum styles and perspectives. 1. 'Heaven (Ready Fi Di Feeling)'
2. 'Ma'at (Each Man)'
3. 'Mindstorm'
4. 'Note To Self (Okay)' (Feat. Chronixx)
5. 'Field Trip'
6. 'Never Race (A Way)' (Feat. Akala)
7. 'Hey You'
8. 'Highly (Get To Me)'
9. 'Feel Good "The Pinch"'
10. 'Love Has Found I'
11. 'You And I' (Feat. Pressure Busspipe)
12. 'Ready To Play' (Feat. Tarrus Riley)
13. 'The Reflection'
14. 'Could It Be'
15. 'In The Beginning'

Wow, this album is simply INCREDIBLE! Refreshing, invigorating and as present in the here and now as anything that I've come across in a long time.

It opens with the dub spirit of Jah9's powerful femiNINE energy on 'Heaven (Ready Fi Di Feeling),' and backs that up with the dancehall hipsway of 'Ma'at (Each Man)' and then the short spoken word, dedication of mind and space coming together to aid the self within 'Mindstorm.'

With its gentle head bounce and foot-tap beats, the title track 'Note To Self (Okay)' featuring Chronixx is one of the obvious stand out highlights here and that's followed by the Caribbean pop rock vibe of 'Field Trip.'

Next up is the uplifting 'New Race (A Way)' featuring British rapper and poet Akala, which is backed by the laid back, yet welcomingly perky tones of 'Hey You,' and then another absolute gem in the luscious R&B mid-tempo 'Highly (Get To Me).'

Jah9's chrysalis of dub poetry sparks positive thoughts of our own bodies within 'Feel Good "The Pinch"' and referencing the King once more, Jah9 then glides into the rhythmic beauty of 'Love Has Found I.'

Jah9's sophomore album with VP Record's continues onward with the old school, free flowing magnificence of 'Love Has Found I,' then comes the one-two sway of 'You And I' (featuring Pressure Busspipe).

The album then rounds out with the lavish 'Ready To Play' (featuring Jamaican-American reggae singer and member of the Rastafari movement, Tarrus Riley), the spoken word contemplation of 'The Reflection,' and then comes to a close with the R&B pop sway of 'Could It Be' and another short spoken word moment, one embodying her faith, entitled 'In The Beginning.'

Official 'Note to Self' CD Purchase Link

Jah9 @ Facebook

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Jah9 @ YouTube

Title - 'Mozartissimo'
Artist - Rolando Villazòn

For those not in the know, Rolando Villazòn's brand new album Mozartissimo is a personal retrospective including his very own favorite tracks.

With famous arias from his Mozarts Operas “Don Giovanni”, “Così fan tutte”, “Die Entführung aus dem Serail”, “Le nozze di Figaro”, “La clemenza di Tito” and “Die Zauberflöte,” Villazòn presents them in a new tailor-made selection curated by, of course, the man himself.

Indeed, here on Mozartissimo, Villazón emerges from behind the characters he has portrayed on the operatic stage in selections that offer a more personal portrait of the singer and his relationship with Mozart; his second such collection since 2014's Mozart: Concert Arias.

Don Giovanni
1. Dalla sua pace
2. Il mio tesoro intanto

Così fan tutte
3. Un'aura amorosa del nostro Tesoro
4. Tradito, schernito dal perfido cor

Die Entführung aus dem Serail
5. Hier soll ich dich denn sehen...Aber wie soll ich in den Palast kommen?
6. Konstanze, dich wiederzusehen, dich! O wie ängstlich, o wie feurig
7. Wenn der Freude Tränen fließen
8. Ich baue ganz auf deine Stärke

Le nozze di Figaro
9. In quegli anni in cui vai poco

La clemenza di Tito
10. Del più sublime soglio
11. Ah, se fosse intorno al trono
12. Se all'impero, amici dei

Die Zauberflöte
13. Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja
14. Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen
15. Papagena! Papagena! Papagena!
16. Pa-Pa-Papagena!-Pa-Pa-Papageno!
17. Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen

Misero! O sogno o son desto? - Aura, che intorno spiri K 431 (425b)
18. Misero! O sogno o son desto? -
19. Aura, che intorno spiri K 431 (425b)
20. Con ossequio, con rispetto K 210

From the magnificent, vibrantly effective, at times euphoric opening of the duo offering from Don Giovanni - Dalla sua pace and Il mio tesoro intanto, you know you're in for an incredible night's musical entertainment.

The quieter mid-tempo of Così fan tutte's duo of Un'aura amorosa del nostro Tesoro and the swelling In qual fiero contrasto … Tradito, schernito are also magnificent to hear and they are backed seamlessly by a sold, if not whimsical quartet from Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

Next up is a solo piece from Le nozze di Figaro in the perky In quegli anni in cui val poco which in turn is followed by a beautiful trilogy of work from La Clemenza di Tito.

A resoundingly free flowing quintet comes to the fore next in the uplifting majesty of the wood wind-aided Die Zauberflöte (of which the opening work Der Vogelfänger bin ich, ja is my own personal favorite), and then the album comes to a close on three works recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London in 2012: the robust Misero! O sogno…Aura che intorno spiri, K431, the spellbinding Misero! O sogno…Aura che intorno spiri, K431, and then the skittering Con ossequio, con rispetto, KV 210.

In the album notes, Rolando shares a short message he wrote to Mozart upon first completing Mozart’s Letters, Mozart’s Life (edited by Robert Spaethling):

“I just finished reading your letters and all I want to say is: hey, Amadé, don’t go away, keep talking to me, my dear friend. But what follows is silence."

"So I take the score of Don Giovanni and the sparkling notes jump from the pages, and your voice breaks the silence. Oh, my most beloved composer, my dearest friend, señor Mozart de mi corazón, we still have so much, so much to talk about. My ears are open, my soul is ready, my voice is yours. ¡Vámonos!”

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Rolando Villazòn @ Facebook

Title - 'Out to Sea 3: The Storm'
Artist - Fernando Perdomo

For those not in the know, rather like myself, in all truth, Fernando Perdomo is an American singer-songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer.

Originally from Miami Beach, Florida, he co-produced Linda Perhacs' second album The Soul Of All Natural Things which holds the record for longest span of time between first and second records at 44 years!

Released May 4th, 2018, via Forward Motion Records, Out to Sea was the debut Instrumental Progressive Rock Album by Perdomo; who is also the guitarist and bassist of The Dave Kerzner Band.

Then in 2019 came the sequel, Out to Sea 2 and fast on its heels we now get his brand new album, the third in the trilogy of works dedicated to the source material, Out to Sea 3: The Storm. (both also put out by Forward Motion Records).

1. 'Out To Sea 3 Theme' (2:45)
2. 'Wonder' (4:38)
3. 'Cycles' (3:30)
4. 'The Storm' (5:38)
5. 'The Great Known' (4:09)
6. 'Frenzy' (3:31)
7. 'Tambourines of Malmo' (4:10)
8. 'The U.F.O. Club' (2:48)
9. 'Doom Is Often Loud' (3:28)
10. 'The Crab' (2:58)
11. 'Dawn' (3:12)
12. 'Wonder (Magnatone Version)' (4:18) - Bonus Track [Digital Only]

The album draws inspiration from classic '70s art rock albums by the likes of Steve Hackett, Peter Banks, Steve Howe, and Jan Akkerman, whilst at the same time, Perdomo has also written tracks solely poignant to the thematic stance of the trilogy.

With all instruments on the album, save for brass birds by Cyndi Trissel, having been played by Perdomo himself - including Guitars, Keyboards, Bass, and Drums - we begin in fine style with the absolutely beautiful 'Out To Sea 3 Theme.'

That's backed seamlessly by the gentle psych touch of 'Wonder,' then the soaring prog guitar work of 'Cycles,' and then the thoughtful, acoustic guitar plucked sensibility of 'The Storm.'

One of my own personal favorites here is the free flowing prog and synth work of 'The Great Known,' which is followed by a song that sums itself up just perfectly, the frenetic 'Frenzy.'

The magnificently layered 'Tambourines of Malmo' is yet another stand out cut and that's backed by the excellent slap and funky wah-wah guitar work of 'The U.F.O. Club' and the more stoic vibe of 'Doom Is Often Loud.'

The album then comes to a close with the playful ditty 'The Crab' and rounds out with the gentle, softly thoughtful and pensively expectant 'Dawn.'

The digital version also includes the bonus track of 'Wonder (Magnatone Version).'

Acclaimed artist Paul Whitehead painted the cover image for Out to Sea 3: The Storm (as he did on the first and second within the trilogy) with other covers by Whitehead including: Trespass, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot by Genesis.

Official CD Purchase Link

Fernando Perdomo @ Facebook!

Title - 'Destinations'
Artist - Darryl Way

If you have never heard the name Darryl Way before, allow me to bring you up to date.

Born in Taunton, Somerset, England (yes, where they make the Cider!), Way is a British rock and classical musician who was a founding member of Curved Air.

He actually co-wrote their only hit single, 'Back Street Luv' and is best known as a violinist - although he also plays keyboards and guitar.

He began his musical training at Dartington College of Arts, and later studied at the Royal College of Music. When he met Francis Monkman, they formed the band Sisyphus, which evolved into Curved Air.

The just-released Destinations (via Right Honourable Records / Cherry Red Records UK), is the new studio album by Way and features ten new rock instrumentals, with a variety of influences and sound effects enriching the style and delivery of the pieces.

1. 'Downtown LA' (4:40)
2. 'Metropolis' (4:45)
3. 'The Stars' (5:30)
4. 'The Wild West' (6:15)
5. 'A Rainy Day in Vienna' (5:41)
6. 'The Restless City' (3:31)
7. 'Riviera Blue' (5:08)
8. 'Antigua Bay' (4:06)
9. 'Freedom Road' (4:11)
10. 'Mystic Mountain' (5:15)

The album opens up with the atmospheric, frenetic 'Downtown LA' and backs that up with the free flowing majesty of 'Metropolis,' the gilded ambiance of 'The Stars,' and then the mid-tempo, plains-spread-for miles 'The Wild West.'

A quite stirring, operatic rendition of 'A Rainy Day in Vienna' is brought forth next and that's backed by the frantic 'The Restless City' and then the mellow, at times vibrantly Mediterranean guitar work of 'Riviera Blue' waves over us.

This beautiful album then rounds out with the soft rock guitar hues of 'Antigua Bay,' the foot-tappin', rockin' blues of 'Freedom Road,' and then comes to a close on the luscious overtones of 'Mystic Mountain.'

Darryl Way said of this new instrumental album, "Destinations is a collection of 10 pieces that set out to conjure up images of far off and exotic locations like Antigua, or imagined settings like Metropolis or Mystic Mountains."

"Like my previous album, Vivaldi's Four Seasons in Rock, Destinations could be described as program music; music that evokes atmospheres and impressions."

In closing, here on Destinations, sure, yeah, there are still hints of Curved Air, but after a few listens it becomes clear that this is Darryl Way - all the Way through.

Official CD Purchase Link

Curved Air @ Twitter

Curved Air @ Facebook!

Title - 'Crossover'
Artist - David Cross & Peter Banks

For those not in the know, David Cross was a member of King Crimson during the 1970s and the late Peter Banks was the original guitarist in YES.

Coming together on this brand new album, Crossover (out now via Noisy Records / Cherry Red Records UK), the guitar and violin parts for the album were actually all recorded on the August 10th, 2010 in an afternoon of improvisation.

The resultant album was produced by Tony Lowe and David Cross and the guest appearances were recorded during 2018 and 2019 and features: Pat Mastelotto; Tony Kaye; Billy Sherwood; Randy Raine-Reusch; Andy Jackson; Oliver Wakeman; Jay Schellen; Jeremy Stacey and Geoff Downes.

Furthermore, and sadly, this is the last new album of material from the late Peter Banks, who passed away in 2013, and had wanted to see this material released.

1. 'Rock To A Hard Place' (feat. Jeremy Stacey, Geoff Downes)
2. 'Upshift' (feat. Tony Kaye, Billy Sherwood, Oliver Wakeman, Jay Schellen)
3. 'The Smile Frequency' (feat. Randy Raine-Reusch, Oliver Wakeman)
4. 'The Work Within' (feat. Andy Jackson)
5. 'Missing Time'
6. 'Plasma Drive' (feat. Pat Mastelotto, Billy Sherwood, Oliver Wakeman)
7. 'Laughing Strange' (feat. Jeremy Stacey, Tony Kaye)
8. 'Crossover'

The album opens up with the magnificent pop prog rock ebb and flow of 'Rock To A Hard Place' (featuring Jeremy Stacey and Geoff Downes) and follows onward with the poignant, at times purposely jagged guitar excellence of 'Upshift' (featuring Tony Kaye, Billy Sherwood, Oliver Wakeman and Jay Schellen).

Next up is orchestrated prog psych of 'The Smile Frequency' (featuring Randy Raine-Reusch and Oliver Wakeman), then comes the euphoric nature of 'The Work Within' (featuring Andy Jackson), before we are swept away by the orchestrated, achingly organic melodies of 'Missing Time.'

The album then rounds out with the atmospheric, spacial majesty of 'Plasma Drive' (featuring Pat Mastelotto, Billy Sherwood and Oliver Wakeman), with the jam session 'Laughing Strange' (featuring Jeremy Stacey and Tony Kaye) and the shimmering title track bringing things to a close.

Official CD Purchase Link

David Cross Music @ Twitter

David Cross Music @ Facebook

Title - 'Real Life'
Artist - Chris Standring

One of contemporary urban jazz's most prolific hitmakers since the late '90s with 13 Billboard Top 10 singles and 6 #1's, Chris Standring takes the opportunity on his 13th solo album to acknowledge the sometimes harsh twists and turns of Real Life.

Yet rather than give into circumstances beyond his control, the British born, L.A. based guitarist offers a truly uplifting way forward on this joyful soul-jazz infused retro-flavored set (out March 20th, 2020 via Ultimate Vibe Recordings).

Indeed, whilst Standring tackles all the guitars, keyboards and programming, here on Real Life he calls on L.A.’s best to help bring his eclectic sonic palette alive: Mitchel Forman (piano) Andre Berry (bass), Kevin Axt (upright bass), Matt Rohde and Hans Zermulen (Fender Rhodes), Chris Coleman and Dave Karasony (drums) and Ronnie Gutierrez (percussion).

1. 'Is There A Doctor In The House?'
2. 'Out Of The Blue'
3. 'Whatever She Wants'
4. 'In Other Words'
5. 'What Goes Around'
6. 'Living The Poetry'
7. 'Another Train'
8. 'Tell Me A Bedtime Story'
9. 'This Mess Is A Place'
10. 'Prelude From Bach Cello Suite 1'

The atmospheric 'Is There A Doctor In The House?' is a brilliant way to open any album, especially one as vibrational as this, and that's backed by the finger-snappin' joy of 'Out Of The Blue,' the funky one-two drum and guitar line of 'Whatever She Wants,' and then the lush orchestrations of 'In Other Words.'

Up next is the upbeat fun of 'Shake You Up,' which is backed seamlessly by both the mood-setting R&B shuffle of 'What Goes Around' and then the funky R&B approach to the vocalized 'Living The Poetry' (featuring Vanessa Haynes) comes thereafter.

The beautiful, gossamer-edged 'Another Train' is next and that's backed by the percussion-led 'Tell Me A Bedtime Story,' with the album coming to a close on the breezy 'This Mess Is A Place' and then the unexpected, but nonetheless adored, solo guitar orchestrations of 'Prelude From Bach Cello Suite 1.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Chris Standring @ YouTube

Title - 'Vegas Blue'
Artist - Brian Tarquin Project

Las Vegas, Nevada, Mandalay Bay Hotel, October 1st, 2017. This was the site of a tragic and, all too familiar, occurrence involving a deadly mass shooting at the hands of a deranged gunman.

What began that evening as a peaceful and celebratory country music concert ended in bullet-riddled chaos and carnage for countless patrons and innocent by-standers.

This latest recording project, Vegas Blue (released March 27th, 2020 via BHP Music-Guitar Trax Records, LLC) from multi-Emmy winning guitarist/producer/engineer Brian Tarquin and company is dedicated to helping the families and survivors of this horrific mass shooting.

And, in doing so, may also shine the spotlight on the need for sensible, responsible and humane gun laws and safety.

For if music is, indeed, a supreme healer then one needs look no further than this visionary endeavor.

1. 'Distant Light'
2. 'Lights of Las Vegas'
3. 'Demonic'
4. 'Tomorrow's Another Day'
5. 'Vegas Blue'
6. 'Evil In Men's Hearts'
7. 'Forgiveness'
8. 'Know Me'
9. 'Hallowed Ground'
10. 'Run for Cover'
11. 'Distant Heart (Vocal Reprise)'

The free flowing excellence of 'Distant Light' opens the album and showcases the guitar trio of Tarquin, Hal Lindes and Steve Morse seamlessly.

That's backed by the almost-jazz rocker 'Lights of Las Vegas' (which comes complete with vocals from Phil Naro), the primal reach of 'Demonic,' and then comes the uplifting, healing guitar chants of the Toto-esque 'Tomorrow's Another Day.'

The laid back, Gary Moore-esque beauty of the title track 'Vegas Blue' makes the track my own personal favorite here and that's followed by both the taut jazz-grooved R&B tension brought forth by Tarquin and Tony Carey on guitar, Don Black on sax for 'Evil In Men's Hearts,' and then the temperature is brought down for Naro's 'Forgiveness.'

Its companion piece is the upbeat 'Know Me' with the heavier 'Hallowed Ground' (featuring Trey Gunn's resounding bass lines) backing it up. The album then comes to a close on the guitar-infused supreme urgency (that we can only assume the crowd had coursing through them on that fateful night) of 'Run for Cover,' and then concludes with a vocal reprise of 'Distant Light.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Belle Époque' [2CD]
Artist - Daniel Hope

For those not in the know, British violinist Daniel Hope has toured the world as a virtuoso soloist for 30 years and is celebrated for his musical versatility as well as his dedication to humanitarian causes.

Winner of the 2015 European Cultural Prize for Music, whose previous recipients include Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Hope appears as soloist with the world’s major orchestras and conductors, also directing many ensembles from the violin.

Since the start of the 2016/17 season Hope is Music Director of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra – and from the 2018/19 Season also Music Director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco.

In 2019 he became Artistic Director of the Frauenkirche Cathedral in Dresden, and from 2020 he will assume the role of President of the Beethovenhaus Bonn, an honorary position following in the footsteps of Kurt Masur and Joseph Joachim.

Daniel Hope's new concept double album Belle Époque highlights classical repertoire that emerged in the gilded era bookended by the Franco-Prussian War and the start of World War I.

Uniting late Romantic and Impressionist pieces as well as early works from the Second Viennese School, the album features favorites such as Massenet's Meditation, Debussy's Rêverie, and Strauss's Morgen, as well as rarely heard masterpieces by Schoenberg, Rachmaninoff, and Elgar.

For Hope, the Belle Époque has long held a consuming fascination. “I often wish I had a time machine to go back to the salons of Paris, indeed to that entire age. It was a time when people started to question the very idea of art.”

CD 1 - Orchestral Music
1-4 Chausseon: Concerto in D major
5 Debussy: Rêverie
6 Massenet: Mêditation
7 R. Strauss: Morgen!
8 Schoenberg: Notturno
9 Elgar: Chanson de matin
10 Elgar: Introduction and Allegro

CD 2 - Chamber Music
1 Rachmaninov: Romance
2 Schoenberg: Piece in D Minor
3 Zemlinsky: Serendae in A Major
4-7 Koechlin: 4 Little Pieces
8 Fauré: Andante
9 Ravel: Sonate posthume
10 Berg: Schließe mir die Augen beide
11 Enescu: Impromptu concertant
12 Fauré: Morceau de lecture
13 Juon: Berceuse
14 Berg: Winter
15 Bridge: Valse russe
16 Debussy: La Fille aux cheveux de lin
17 Kreisler: Liebesleid
18 Hahn: À Chloris
19 Debussy: Minstrels
20 Webern: 4 Pieces

With an exquisite run time of two and a half hours, this wonderfully brought together musical collection takes in the sights and sounds of Europe, taking magnificent musical snapshots of major cultural centers of the time — London, Paris and Vienna.

Spread of two discs and containing four evenly-spaced, and beautifully complete works, the first disc opens with an arrangement for strings and solo violin of Debussy’s Rêverie. Here, Hope effortlessly embodies the spirit of a daydream with the string colors and textures contrasting elegantly with Hope’s melodious tone.

Further on and another stand out for me here is the quite majestic La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin, albeit this time with pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips at Hope's side.

Here Hope’s violin emphasis ebbs and flows, ultimately yielding, allowing his pianissimos to flourish admirably within their designated resonance.

Another stunning work is the salon movement Piece in D Minor, a highly melodious miniature, stylistically speaking, which is played lyrically by Hope and Crawford-Phillips.

Berg’s Winter from “Jungenlieder” is a right royal doozy of a track here also, along with Webern’s Four Pieces for Violin and Piano Op. 7. These alone characterize Webern’s concise musical idiom for all to hear, providing some welcome contrast on this extensive album.

Musicians: Daniel Hope – violin; Mojca Erdmann – Soprano; Simon Crawford-Phillips – Piano; Stefan Dohr – Viola; Jane Berthe, Harp; Maria Todtenhaupt – Harp; Lise de la Salle – Piano; Yibai Chen – Cello and Zürcher Kammerorchester.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Daniel Hope @ Facebook

Title - Variance III: The ‘Torsten In Queereteria’ Remixes
Artist - Andy Bell

For those not in the know, Variance III – The ‘Torsten In Queereteria’ Remixes is the third solo album by Andy Bell (Erasure) performing as alter-ego Torsten, a gender-fluid, semi-immortal who, having loved and lost many during an unnaturally elongated life, is left haunted by his lifetime of bittersweet memories.

Torsten is a role Andy Bell first took up at the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival in 2014 in “Torsten The Bareback Saint”, and a role reprised by him in the critically acclaimed, 2016 follow up, “Torsten The Beautiful Libertine” which enjoyed a sell-out run at London’s Above The Stag Theatre.

The first album, Variance II: The Torsten The Beautiful Libertine Remixes came out in 2016, with the follow-up Torsten in Queereteria being released in 2019.

Variance III – The ‘Torsten In Queereteria’ Remixes (releasing March 20th, 2020 via SFE / Cherry Red Records) is a strictly limited edition 1,000 CD pressing of an outré, ultra-synth, pop-dance remix celebration of tracks from Erasure singer Andy Bell’s cult-theatrical side project, Torsten.

This quite magnificent album features two reworks by electronic pop legends Bronski Beat who have dance remixed the fans’ two most popular Andy Bell is Torsten songs, ‘I Don’t Like’ and ‘We Hadn’t Slept For Twenty Years’ in their signature retro electropop style!

Furthermore, Euro-poptastic remixer Matt Pop has created an evocative dance floor smash from the emotional Andy Bell is Torsten torch song ‘Not Opting Out’; this definitive remix is Andy Bell’s personal favorite of all the reworks ever done from his critically acclaimed Torsten songbook.

Previous Andy Bell collaborators, synth wizards Shelter, have also remixed a variant upbeat version of the Andy Bell is Torsten single ‘We Hadn’t Slept For Twenty Years’, a song celebrated by delighted audiences as the heart wrenching closing song of the recent ‘Queereteria TV’ stage show.

A further highlight is the deftly atmospheric electronic re-working of ‘Lowland Lowriders’ by Jerome Froese (ex-Tangerine Dream).

Variance III also includes two completely new songs ‘Lead Me’ and ‘Judgement’ that are exclusive to this album!

And as if there couldn't possibly be any more to report about this delicious album, well, the CD also includes four bonus tracks, a variant Andy Bell solo version of ‘If We Want To Drink A Little’ (previously a duet on the ‘Queereteria’ album with Hazel O’Connor), as well as the edit versions of songs, as issued to radio stations, of ‘Silence Is Golden’, ‘Not Opting Out’ and ‘We Hadn’t Slept For Twenty Years’, the last of which boasts alternative lyrics!

1. 'Not Opting Out (Matt Pop Club Mix)'
2. 'We Hadn't Slept for Twenty Years (Bronski Beat Remix)'
3. 'I Don't Like (Bronski Beat Remix)'
4. 'Lowland Lowriders (Jerome Froese Retouched Mix)'
5. 'We Hadn't Slept for Twenty Years (Shelter's New Mix)'
6. 'Lead Me'
7. 'Judgement'
8. 'If We Want to Drink a Little (Andy Bell Solo Version)' [Bonus Track]
9. 'Silence Is Golden (Radio Edit)' [Bonus Track]
10. 'We Hadn't Slept for Twenty Years (Radio Version)' [Bonus Track]
11. 'Not Opting Out (Matt Pop Radio Edit)' [Bonus Track]

Phew, so, well, let's get on with the show, as they say, and kicking things off with the soaring 'Not Opting Out (Matt Pop Club Mix),' that synth-pop gem is then backed by both the stoic, balladesque 'We Hadn't Slept for Twenty Years (Bronski Beat Remix)' and then the punchy one-two synth of 'I Don't Like (Bronski Beat Remix).'

The mid-tempo, hazy, meandering one minute, focused the next track 'Lowland Lowriders (Jerome Froese Retouched Mix)' is then followed by another 'We Hadn't Slept for Twenty Years (Shelter's New Mix),' and then comes the sumptuous '70s R&B, funky groove-led, 'Lead Me.'

The mid-tempo, self-orchestrated solo dance floor turn 'Judgement' is then followed by four bonus tracks. First up is the artsy, tuneful spoken word ditty 'If We Want to Drink a Little (Andy Bell Solo Version),' with the mildly angst-ridden at times, self-reflecting at others, 'Silence Is Golden (Radio Edit)' up next.

This quite fluently brilliant remix album then rounds out with Radio versions of both 'We Hadn't Slept for Twenty Years (Radio Version)' and then 'Not Opting Out (Matt Pop Radio Edit)' brings the album to a close.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Heritage II: Demos/Alternate Takes' [RSD CD]
Artist - America

For those not in the know, America is an American rock band that was formed in London in 1970 by Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley.

Achieving significant popularity in the 1970's, the trio was famous for its close vocal harmonies and light acoustic folk rock sound. The band released a string of hit albums and singles, many of which found airplay on pop/soft rock stations.

The band came together shortly after the members' graduation from high school, and a record deal with Warner Bros. Records followed. Its debut 1971 album, America, included the transatlantic hits 'A Horse with No Name' and 'I Need You'; Homecoming (1972) included the single 'Ventura Highway'; and Hat Trick (1973), a modest success on the charts that fared poorly in sales, included one minor charting song 'Muskrat Love'.

1974's Holiday featured the hits 'Tin Man' and 'Lonely People'; and 1975's Hearts generated the number one single 'Sister Golden Hair' alongside 'Daisy Jane'.

History: America's Greatest Hits, a compilation of hit singles, was released the same year and was certified multi-platinum in the United States and Australia.

Peek left the group in 1977 and their commercial fortunes declined, despite a brief return to the top 10 in 1982 with the single 'You Can Do Magic'. The band's final Top 40 hit was 'The Border', which reached no.33 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.

The group continues to record material and tour with regularity. Its 2007 album Here & Now was a collaboration with a new generation of musicians who credited the band as an influence.

America won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist and were nominated for Best Pop Vocal Group at the 15th Annual Grammy Awards in 1973. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2006 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.

For the upcoming Record Store Day 2020, Omnivore Recordings has announced the release of Heritage II: Demos/Alternate Takes. This CD features 11 previously-unissued demos and alternate tracks from 1971-1976, including the long-rumored 13 minute acoustic jam 'Jameroony'.

1. 'CORNWALL BLANK' (Demo #2)
2. 'JAMEROONY' (Acoustic Jam)
3. 'MANDY' (Demo)
4. 'IN MAN' (Backing Track With Backing Vocals)
6. 'YOU' (Vocals/Strings Excerpt)
7. 'MAD DOG' (Demo/Track Mix With Backing Vocals)
8. 'SIMPLE LIFE' (Alternate Mix)
9. 'LOVELY NIGHT' (Demo)
10. 'TODAY’S THE DAY' (Alternate Mix)
11. 'AMBER CASCADES' (Acoustic Mix/Take 3)
12. 'LETTER' (Alternate Mix)
13. 'JET BOY BLUE' (Alternate Mix)

Complete with liner notes by the band’s Gerry Beckley himself, this collection picks up where the first volume (released in 2017) left off, centering mostly on the beginning of the Sir George Martin era.

George Martin produced seven albums by America and Heritage II focuses in on demos and alternate takes from the Holiday, Hearts, and Hideaway albums from 1974–1976.

Opening with the symphonic majesty of 'Cornwall Blank,' they back that up with their acoustic guitar jam 'Jameroony,' with both the lo-fi 'Mandy' and the breezy 'Tin Man' along next.

The beautiful storytelling found within the magnificent 'What Does It Matter' are backed by soaring majesty of 'You,' the foot-tappin' ditty 'Mad Dog,' and then the lush piano work on 'Simple Life' comes forth.

Next up is the jaunty lo-fi bounce of 'Lovely Night' which is followed by delicate piano work and enveloping lyrics of 'Today's The Day,' with the light acoustic guitar of 'Amber Cascade' a definite highlight here.

The album then rounds out with the low slung bass vibe of 'Letter' and closes on the quite brilliant, '70s poptastic flow of 'Jet Boy Blue.'

If you stay tuned, an addition after that last track includes a long lost TV advert from back in the day which is an advert for their Gold (greatest hits) album of the time.

Fun to listen to today, you also get to hear many snippets of their greatest hits, which is never a bad thing.

I mean, simply put, if you the music of America, and care to savor some aspects of the recording process, you realize here on this second album (and the first, of course) just how much raw talent Gerry, Dewey and Dan had even in the early years doing covers while honing their writing skills and musical craft.

Complete with quite wondrous, free flowing three-part harmonies like you've never heard before, for my money, all their albums are sublime, but this collection lets you peek behind the curtains into their creative process.

As detailed above, you get to hear for the very first time, an unreleased Gerry Beckley song, 'Mandy,' demos of songs from Holiday ('What Does It Matter' and 'Mad Dog'), outtakes from Hearts ('Simple Life') and alternate mixes from Hideaway ('Amber Cascades' and 'Today’s The Day').

For me, this heritage sequel album can also smoothly serve as a gateway, or a fine introduction, to any listeners that aren't familiar with their early albums.

Even in their "home demo" state, these songs still shine, and Beckley and his partners sound inspired and confident. Whether it be the known album tracks or the outtakes, quite simply, this is just a sheer pleasure to listen to and I would love to hear more jewels like this from the America vaults.

In addition to all those aforementioned gems, there’s a real rarity included herein from 1971, the aforementioned acoustic instrumental jam by Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek entitled, 'Jameroony' (lasting nearly 13 minutes!)

Unearthed from the band’s archives, this track has been rumored for years but only just found recently.

So, and in closing, this is a really lovely, enjoyable and soothingly pleasant collection of songs from a group that broke out big only a few years later. So even if you are not an America fan, this would be good listening for you, given the "music" being put out today!

Official CD & Vinyl LP Purchase Link

Title - 'Something New: Unreleased Gold' [RSD CD]
Artist - Andrew Gold

For those not in the know, Andrew Gold was an American singer, songwriter, musician and arranger whose works included the US Top 10 single 'Lonely Boy' (1977), as well as 'Thank You for Being a Friend' (1978) and the UK Top Five hit 'Never Let Her Slip Away' (1978).

He had further international chart success in the 1980's as the lead singer of Wax, a collaboration with English musician and songwriter Graham Gouldman.

In the mid-’80s and early ’90s, Andrew’s song 'Thank You for Being a Friend' was used as the theme for the hugely successful NBC-TV sitcom The Golden Girls and from 1992–1999, Andrew was the TV theme voice of the Paul Reiser-Helen Hunt comedy star 'Mad About You'.

Gold was a multi-instrumentalist who played guitar, bass, keyboards, accordion, synthesizer, harmonica, saxophone, flute, drums and percussion, and more arcane musical instruments such as ukulele, musette, and harmonium.

He was also a producer, sound engineer, film composer, session musician, actor, and painter.

For the upcoming Record Store Day 2020, Omnivore Recordings has announced the release of Something New: Unreleased Gold, a collection of sixteen previously-unissued tracks by Andrew Gold from 1973.

For this musical journey begins way back in 1973, where, and like so many singer songwriters in Los Angeles, Andrew Gold was just another talented guy looking for a record deal.

Brought to Clover Recorders by producer Chuck Plotkin (Bruce Springsteen), Gold set out to lay down the many songs he had written that he’d hoped would land him a recording contract.

Over a period of many months, Plotkin and Gold recorded numerous songs that would ultimately land him a deal with Asylum Records who would release his first album in the fall of 1975.

Interestingly, none of the songs recorded in 1973, save for reworked versions of 'Resting In Your Love' and 'A Note From You' would appear on any of Andrew’s four solo albums over the next several years ... until now!

1. 'SOMETHING NEW' (Band Version)
2. 'COME DOWN TO ME' (Solo Demo)
7. 'PRISONER' (Band Version)
8. 'TEN YEARS BEHIND ME' (Solo Demo)
9. 'TIMOTHY COREY' (Solo Demo)
10. 'ALMOST LOVE' (Solo Demo)
11. 'PENNY ARCADE' (Solo Demo)
12. 'DON’T BRING ME DOWN' (Solo Demo)
15. 'A NOTE FROM YOU' (Alternate Band Version) [CD/DIGITAL BONUS TRACKS]

Andrew Gold was one of those people that appeared behind the scenes in so many ways that most people have heard, but not everyone knew it.

Personally, I have long stood in awe of his multi-instrumental and vocal talent, being most impressed, initially, by the fact that he played every instrument on Linda Ronstadt's smash 'You're No Good' back in 1975!

He was just so capable and so versatile and whether it be lead and rhythm guitar, piano, bass, drums, or simply wearing the cap of producer, arranger, or composer, Gold was the epitome of a musical genius; and a class act to boot.

This newly-released album is a true treasure trove to be explored for all his fans, and even those curiously passing on by. Furthermore, these 16 tracks offer an insight into a musical mind that was just exploding with creativity.

Even though these songs, for the most part, have never been released before, making them a pure, unadulterated delight to behold here and now, there still is not one bad song on this impressive collection.

Opening with the Beatles-esque 'Something New, the song reveals perfectly what kind of a musical experience you are in for, and blends seamlessly into both the piano-led ditty 'Come Down To Me' and the acoustic guitar work of 'What You Do Is What You See.'

Gold is back at the piano for the lovely 'The World Tomorrow Brings,' which is backed here by more acoustic guitar on 'You are Somewhere Within Me,' the tuneful piano storytelling within 'Sometimes When A Man's On His Own,' and both the mind-tempo rock guitar of 'Prisoner' and the lo-fi acoustic guitar of vibe of 'Ten Years Behind Me.'

Next up we get some funky piano work for 'Timothy Corey' before Gold once again relaxes and brings forth the lo-fi pop elegance of 'Almost Love.' Another couple of turns at the piano brings us 'Penny Arcade' and then he raises the tempo somewhat for 'Don't Bring Me Down' (and no, it's not a cover of the famous ELO song, sorry!).

This quite beautiful album of lost gems then rounds out with the pop bounce of 'Resting In Your Love,' the feisty piano playing of 'Joseph,' the funky, upbeat guitar of 'A Note From You,' and then comes to a close with one more turn at the piano providing us with the beautiful 'To Be Someone.'

“There’s so much that even Andrew’s fans don’t know about him,” says Leslie Kogan, the person in charge of every aspect of her late husband’s considerable catalog. “For instance, being the Beatles freak that he was, Andrew released a great, trippy album called Greetings From Planet Love, by his one-man band, Fraternal Order Of All."

"He also had a terrific Techno-Pop group, called Wax, with (10cc pop genius) Graham Gouldman and Andrew wrote songs for artists like Wynona Judd and Celine Dion."

From the liner notes by two-time Grammy® Award-winning producer Peter Asher: "I suppose the science of genetics made it incredibly unlikely that Andrew could have been born without musical talent."

"His father was Ernest Gold, the Academy Award-winning composer and his mother was Marni Nixon, who provided the singing voice for West Side Story, The King And I, and My Fair Lady."

So, take a listen to Something New, a look back into the beginning of the musical artistry of Andrew Gold, truly a hidden gem waiting to shine.

Official CD & Vinyl LP Purchase Link

Title - 'The Birthday Party: Expanded Edition' [2CD]
Artist - The Idle Race

For those not in the know, The Idle Race were a British rock group from Birmingham in the late 1960s and early 1970s who had a cult following but never enjoyed mass commercial success.

In addition to being the springboard for Jeff Lynne, the band holds a place of significance in British Midlands' pop-rock history as a link between The Move, Electric Light Orchestra, the Steve Gibbons Band and Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders.

By the time the band signed to Liberty Records, the prodigiously-talented Lynne – several years younger than his new colleagues – had been promoted to front man status, blossoming as the band’s chief songwriter while also taking lead vocals.

After ‘Skeleton And The Roundabout’ had attracted much airplay but fallen just short of the charts, the band cut their debut album. Issued in October 1968, the idiosyncratic The Birthday Party gave notice of a major new talent on the British pop scene.

A dazzling creation that matched Beatle-ish melodic flair and witty, surreal vignettes with the heightened ambition of psych-era British studio pop, the set attracted rave reviews and the support of Radio One DJ's including Kenny Everett.

Sadly, however, The Birthday Party failed to sell in any great quantity after Liberty mysteriously chose not to issue a single in support of the release (‘I Like My Toys’ was scheduled to appear, but cancelled at the last minute), and the wider world wouldn’t notice Lynne until he joined The Move in early 1970.

Now acknowledged as a classic album of song-based British psychedelic pop, The Birthday Party finally gets the attention that it deserves with this definitive new 2-CD package (out now via Grapefruit Records / Cherry Red Records UK).

The original stereo album is joined by alternative versions, stand-alone singles and, most notably of all, the first-ever official CD release of the original, substantially different mono version of the LP, taken from the original masters.

CD 1: Mono
1. 'Skeleton and the Roundabout'
2. 'Happy Birthday'
3. 'The Birthday'
4. 'I Like My Toys'
5. 'Morning Sunshine'
6. 'Follow Me Follow'
7. 'Sitting in My Tree'
8. 'On with the Show'
9. 'Lucky Man'
10. 'Don't Put Your Boys in the Army, Mrs. Ward'
11. 'Pie in the Sky'
12. 'The Lady Who Said She Could Fly'
13. 'End of the Road'

Bonus Tracks:
14. '(Here We Go Round) the Lemon Tree'
15. 'My Father's Son'
16. 'Imposters of Life's Magazine'
17. 'Knocking Nails Into My House'
18. 'Lucky Man' (Alternative Version)
19. 'Follow Me Follow' (Alternative Version)
20. 'Days of the Broken Arrows'
21. 'Worn Red Carpet'
22. 'Days of the Broken Arrows' (Alternative Version)

CD 2: Stereo
1. 'Skeleton and the Roundabout'
2. 'Happy Birthday'
3. 'The Birthday'
4. 'I Like My Toys'
5. 'Morning Sunshine'
6. 'Follow Me Follow'
7. 'Sitting in My Tree'
8. 'On with the Show'
9. 'Lucky Man'
10. 'Don't Put Your Boys in the Army, Mrs. Ward'
11. 'Pie in the Sky'
12. 'The Lady Who Said She Could Fly'
13. 'End of the Road'
14. 'Sitting in My Tree' (Alternative Version) [Bonus Track]

The original 13 tracks, now inclusive of 9 bonus cuts, are an amazing piece of work to listen to today as I'm sure they were back then.

Totally original, clever, witty, anecdotal songs from the golden age of pop, they seamlessly capture every one of the threads that span through the English underground of the time.

From Edwardian storytelling to eclectic instrumentation, the timeless tale of fairground rivalry is certainly up there with any of the movement’s most sainted moments, from 'Skeleton And The Roundabout' on through to 'End Of The Road.'

But, and as much as I am a HUGE ELO fan, The Idle Race were not just Jeff Lynne and some guys. They were a solid four piece unit who's individual personalities and musical skills blended together to make some of the most uniquely fascinating tunes of all time.

Beatles-influenced but totally themselves, chock full of strange sound effects, buzzing mellotrons, tinkling harpsichords, great harmonies and the like, The Birthday Party gave us fans tracks like 'I Like My Toys,' 'Lucky Man,' and the simply heavenly brilliance of 'The Lady Who Said She Could Fly' to travel onward with; which we all have done.

From the joyously trippy, similar in tone to a few of the more "out there" '60s psych bands, but definitely more cultured, more formulated, Lynne's refreshing melodies and lyrics were fully developed very early and especially fully realized here.

Interestingly enough, the second disc (Stereo) ends with 'Sitting In My Tree' (alternative version), because the original stereo LP had the track as mono; as no stereo mix was ever made of the song.

This expanded edition has retained that presentation, but included a 1976 rechanneled version as the bonus cut.

Also, for those that will recall, the inside sleeve art included a mock birthday feast attended by many British celebrities, including most of the Radio 1 disc jockeys, the Beatles, the Duke of Windsor, actor Warren Mitchell (in his role as Alf Garnett), and group leader Jeff Lynne - as an eight-year-old schoolboy!

A digipak release, this essential set features a 24-page booklet containing numerous rare photos and memorabilia as well as a new essay on the album.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - 'A Whole Lot of Freedom'
Artist - Surrender Hill

For those not in the know, years before forming the Americana duo Surrender Hill, husband and wife songwriters Robin Dean Salmon and Afton Seekins chased their own muses as solo artists.

Salmon was an award-winning punk rock front man who'd spent the first half of his adolescence in South Africa. During the early '80s, his family relocated to a longhorn ranch in Texas, where Salmon found himself listening to a cross-cultural mix of Bob Wills, the Sex Pistols, Marty Robbins and the Clash.

Meanwhile, Seekins grew up splitting her time between an Alaskan fishing village and an Arizona frontier town. Summers were spent in one location; school years were spent in another.

Throughout it all, she honed her talent for dancing, eventually moving to New York City during her 20's and finding success as a choreographer.

Unable to resist the need to pursue songwriting, she later headed back to Arizona, where she turned the contents of her personal journal into the lyrics of her very first songs.

And now the North Georgia-based Americana duo Surrender Hill will release their highly-anticipated fourth album (2015's self-titled debut, 2017's Right Here Right Now, and 2018's Tore Down Fences), A Whole Lot of Freedom, on April 3rd, 2020 (via Blue Betty Records).

1. 'A Whole Lot Of Freedom'
2. 'Turn This Train Around'
3. 'Winter's End'
4. 'Carry On'
5. 'Broken Down Car'
6. 'Chase Me Down'
7. 'Beautiful Wren'
8. 'Lucky Star'
9. 'Spend On Love'
10. 'Healing Song'
11. 'Will You Pass Me By'
12. 'Wanderer'
13. 'Winter In America'
14. 'I'm Gonna Get It Right'
15. 'Waiting On A Dream'
16. 'Badge Of a Punk Rock Band'
17. 'Live For Today'
18. 'The Ballad Of Rebel Wingfield'

From start to finish, and covering an AMAZING 18 tracks (that said, there's actually 22 on the double vinyl LP!), A Whole Lot Of Freedom is a roots-rock record filled with harmonized vocals, electric guitar, and swooning fiddle.

A soundtrack to taking new chances and meeting challenges head-on, set to a backdrop of entwined melodies and rustic orchestration, the songs were inspired by experiences the couple had on the road, stories from their youth growing up, stories told by family, and - of course - the feelings and experiences that come up when you have a child.

Splitting the album's vocal and songwriting duties with each other, it was indeed the birth of their child that actually played a huge role in the songwriting.

Woven together with a thread of some version of freedom in all the songs on the album, whether it be on the title track or the young Cash-esque delivery of 'Turn This Train Around,' their voices wrap around one another to create the most perfect loving harmonies.

In closing, Surrender Hill, whose name was taken from the landmark in South Africa where the Anglo-Boer War came to a close, have created one of those albums that will both embody and enrich your heart and soul with every listen.

Surrender Hill @ Facebook

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Surrender Hill @ Instagram

Title - 'Dixie Highway'
Artist - Outlaws

For those not in the know, with the release of Dixie Highway, the Outlaws once again blaze a route that is as familiar to the faithful as it is unflinching in its mission.

Indeed, the Outlaws will celebrate their 45th anniversary since the release of the first album with the release of this brand new album Dixie Highway (out now via SPV / Steamhammer).

The band who released legendary albums like Hurry Sundown and Ghost Riders and are spoken of within the same genre as both Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet as being one of the biggest Southern Rock bands there has ever been.

In 2016, the band, still led by original members Henry Paul and Monte Yoho, released the much acclaimed live album Legacy Live, but this new one takes the band back to their roots; and is the first one of new and reworked material since 2012.

1. 'Southern Rock Will Never Die'
2. 'Heavenly Blues'
3. 'Dixie Highway'
4. 'Over Night from Athens'
5. 'Endless Ride'
6. 'Dark Horse Run'
7. 'Rattlesnake Road'
8. 'Lonesome Boy from Dixie'
9. 'Showdown'
10. 'Windy City's Blue'
11. 'Macon Memories'

As you would expect, from the very off the Outlaws' (Henry Paul; Monte Yoho, drums; Randy Threet, bass, vocals; Steve Grisham, guitars, vocals; Dave Robbins, keyboards, vocals; Dale Oliver, guitars, vocals; Jaran Sorenson, drums, and guest guitarist Billy Crain) distinctive sound is up and running, with the rocker 'Southern Rock Will Never Die' opening the gates and admirably leading the way.

That's backed by an old favorite, a remake of 'Heavenly Blues' from their third album, and then we get the thunderous 'Dixie Highway' (itself taken from a southern rock supergroup project called Brothers of the Southland).

Next up is the funky Southern guitar rock of 'Over Night from Athens,' which in turn is followed by the mid-tempo rock of 'Endless Ride.'

We then get the balladeering vibe of 'Dark Horse Run' (sung by Steve Grisham) which is then backed by the hyper ZZ Top-esque 'Rattlesnake Road,' and then some passionate storytelling within 'Lonesome Boy from Dixie' (written by Tommy Crain of CDB fame).

The brilliant, searing guitar work of 'Showdown' (their new 'Waterhole') is one massive highlight here, and then the album rounds out with a remake of the Frank O'Keefe demo, 'Windy City's Blue' (which features some memorable guitar from Dale Oliver and Steve Grisham's passionate vocals), before coming to a close with a song about the Allman Brothers Band, 'Macon Memories.'

In closing, the music, the lyrics, the vocals, the overall enthusiasm of the guitar play here is beyond incredible, and is still simply top notch throughout. Bravo, Outlaws! Bravo!

Official 'Dixie Highway' Purchase Links

Outlaws @ Facebook

Outlaws @ Twitter

Outlaws @ Instagram

Outlaws @ YouTube

OUTLAWS USA Tour Dates 2020
FEB 8 River City Casino & Hotel @ ST. LOUIS, MO
FEB 14 Parker Playhouse @ FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
FEB 16 The Plaza Live @ ORLANDO, FL
MAR 5 Lyric Theatre @ STUART, FL
MAR 7 Seminole Casino @ IMMOKALEE, FL
MAR 8 Ponte Vedra Concert Hall @ PONTE VEDRA, FL
MAR 27 Space at Westbury Theater @ WESTBURY, NY
MAR 28 Carlisle Theatre @ CARLISLE, PA
MAR 29 The Lamp @ IRWIN, PA
MAR 31 Daryl's House @ PAWLING, NY
APR 1 Warehouse @ FAIRFIELD, CT
APR 2 Infinity Hall @ NORFOLK, CT
APR 3 Stadium Theatre @ WOONSOCKET, RI
APR 4 Infinity Hall @ HARTFORD, CT
MAY 24 Cumberland Caverns Live @ MCMINNVILLE, TN
JUN 26 Elevation 27 @ VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
JUN 28 Rock, Ribs, & Ridges @ AUGUSTA, NJ

Title - 'Anemone'
Artist - Vito Dieterle

For those not in the know, New York saxophonist Vito Dieterle - who has owned and operated The Django, Silver Lining and Little Branch jazz clubs - has brought together a small ensemble to bring forth a large jazz sound that is rather befitting of any cocktail hour that you yourselves might now find self-isolating within.

Featuring Vito on tenor saxophone, Ben Paterson on organ, Kris Kaiser on guitar, and Aaron Seebe on drums, Anemone (released this past March 1st, 2020 via Ride Symbol Records) is a quite beautifully stunning collection of nine tracks that will definitely enhance your isolation mood.

1. 'Dream Dancing'
2. 'You Said It'
3. 'Minor Chant'
4. 'Lush Life'
5. 'That's Earl, Brother'
6. 'Chelsea Bridge'
7. 'Work'
8. 'Just In Time'
9. 'Anemone'

Opening with the lo-fi lounge jazz of 'Dream Dancing' (Cole Porter) they back that up seamlessly with the upbeat hipness of 'You Said It' (Tommy Turrentine), the swing of 'Minor Chant' (Stanley Turrentine), and then both the sumptuously gorgeous 'Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn) and the vibrant 'That's Earl, Brother' from Dizzy Gillespie.

Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the gentle, almost inching 'Chelsea Bridge' (from Billy Strayhorn), with the spirited 'Work' (Thelonious Monk) backing it, before the album rounds out with the magnificent dance vibe of 'Just In Time' (Jule Styne), coming to a close on the sensuous, and Vito's own, title track, 'Anemone.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Vito Dieterle @ Twitter

Vito Dieterle @ Facebook

Title - 'Status Sphere'
Artist - Vito Dieterle and Joel Forrester

For those not in the know, New York saxophonist Vito Dieterle - who has owned and operated The Django, Silver Lining and Little Branch jazz clubs - has brought together a small ensemble to bring forth a large jazz sound that is rather befitting of any cocktail hour that you yourselves might now find self-isolating within.

Featuring Vito on tenor saxophone and Joel Forrester on piano, Status Sphere (released this past March 1st, 2020 via Ride Symbol Records) celebrates Thelonious Monk, in bringing us six tunes by Monk and five originals; that evoke the spirit of the great man.

1. 'Work' (4:08)
2. 'Crepuscle With Nellie' (7:27)
3. 'Mock Time' (3:37)
4. 'Ruby My Dear' (6:36)
5. 'Requiem For Anthony' (5:36)
6. 'Let’s Call This' (4:09)
7. 'About Françoise' (4:33)
8. 'Pannonica' (7:31)
9. 'Ba-Lu-Bolivar Ba-Lues Are' (2:26)
10. 'Don’t Ask Me Now' (3:38)
11. 'The Comeback' (3:14)
12. 'Crepuscle With Nellie (Alternate Take)' (7:28)

Presenting an album that will definitely enhance your isolation mood, it opens with the playful 'Work,' and backs that up with the yearning thoughtfulness of 'Crepuscle With Nellie.'

Next up is the perky 'Mock Time,' with both the one-two elegance of 'Ruby My Dear' and the lush lo-fi sophistication of 'Requiem For Anthony' following.

The upbeat 'Let’s Call This' is followed by the laid back, almost balladeer approach to 'About Françoise,' which is then backed by my own personal favorite on the album, the orchestrated grandeur of 'Pannonica.'

The album then rounds out with the short, but sweet, bubbly sax work of 'Ba-Lu-Bolivar Ba-Lues Are,' their methodical musical play off on 'Don’t Ask Me Now,' the sunny 'The Comeback,' before coming to a close with another shot at 'Crepuscle With Nellie (Alternate Take).'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Vito Dieterle @ Twitter

Vito Dieterle @ Facebook

Title - 'Vision For Rhythm'
Artist - Vanderlei Pereira & Blindfold Test

For those not in the know, drummer Vanderlei Pereira leads the dynamic Brazilian jazz sextet Blindfold Test, which boasts unusual front line of woodwinds and wordless vocal, backed by a burning rhythm section.

Their brand new album, Vision Rhythm (out May 22nd, 2020 via Jazzheads Records), features diverse styles of Brazilian music filtered through a Jazz sensibility, and includes Vanderlei's originals as well as compositions by some of Brazil's greatest contemporary artists.

Furthermore, all the musicians of Blindfold Test wear blindfolds during the performance of some of the band's more challenging material in order to "level the playing field" ... for Vanderlei, if I hadn't mentioned it before, is actually blind himself.

1. 'Misturada (Mixing)'
2. 'Ponto de Partida (Point of Departure)'
3. 'Chapeu Palheta (Straw Hat)'
4. 'Mercado Modelo'
5. 'O Que Ficou (What Remains)'
6. 'The Cry and The Smile'
7. 'Partido Leve'
8. 'Corrupiao (Oriole)'
9. 'Les Matins de Rixensart (The Mornings of Rixenhart)'
10. 'Alma Brasileira (Brazilian Soul)'
11. 'De Volta a Festa (Back to the Party)'
12. 'Vision for Rhythm'

Opening with the frenetic, yet controlled 'Misturada (Mixing)' they back that up seamlessly with much of the same for 'Ponto de Partida (Point of Departure),' the dance floor passion of 'Chapeu Palheta (Straw Hat),' and then both the acoustic guitar-led hipsway of 'Mercado Modelo' and the late night, smooth jazz flow of 'O Que Ficou (What Remains).'

Next up is the atmospheric wanderings of 'The Cry and The Smile' which is followed by the upbeat, perky 'Partido Leve,' the wood wind elegance of 'Corrupiao (Oriole),' and then one of my own personal favorites, the quietness of mood found within the artful ambiance of 'Les Matins de Rixensart (The Mornings of Rixenhart).'

Then we get another quite magnificently vibrant track in the form of 'Alma Brasileira (Brazilian Soul),' before the album rounds out with the all-encompassing, bouncy world beauty of 'De Volta a Festa (Back to the Party),' coming to a close with the drum-led, showcasing brilliance of 'Vision for Rhythm.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link @ Twitter

Vanderlei Pereira @ Facebook

Title - 'Cadillac Walk'
Artist - Jay Willie & James Montgomery

Intro from Jay Willie himself: "Artists may come and artists may go, but Detroit born legend James Montgomery has performed in the forefront of the blues for over four decades".

"In my younger days, I first saw him perform locally around the New England circuit with his own James Montgomery Band and the Shaboo Allstars."

"James always had fantastic musicians that knew how to keep a funky groove including the late great Matt Murphy and Charles Calmese. When I saw James fronting these bands, he had an energy onstage that I had never seen before."

"It was great musicians playing off of each other, never knowing what to expect next other than that it would be exciting and funky."

"In 1973, James had a Capricorn Records release, 'First Time Out' which I really dug. Later he caught everyone's attention when he released a funky version of the Huey Piano Smith song, 'Don't You Just Know It' under the title 'The Gooba Gooba' Song, produced by Allen Toussaint."

"Not only is James a musical star in his own right, but he also had an extensive history with some of my other musical heroes and influences."

"This includes Johnny Winter and James Cotton both of whom he had very close relations with. [Oh, and] James is also currently working on James Cotton's biography."

"James Montgomery also has a long friendship and musical relationship with my band mate, and drummer Bobby T. Torello, as a result of both touring with Johnny Winter."

"I felt there was a musical compatibility with our tastes in music and mutually respected artists, past and present. In 2016, I asked Bobby to contact James to see if James would front our band for an upcoming performance scheduled in Hartford CT at Black Eyed Sally's Southern Kitchen and Bar."

"Although we were not needing additional vocals or an additional harmonica player, what a thrill it would be to have a blues legend and front man that our the band honored and had a strong mutual respect for."

"I was surprised and overjoyed that James agreed, and it was a great show and wonderful experience."

As for the Jay Willie Blues Band, well, they have had the pleasure and successful experience of producing five previous releases on the ZOHO Roots label, between 2013 and 2017.

As a result, Willie has earned enough creative and technical credits to qualify as a voting member and District Advocate for the Grammy Awards New York Chapter.

And so, all these years in the making, releasing on April 10, 2020 via Zoho Roots Music, Jay Willie and James Montgomery finally come together as one on their brand new album, Cadillac Walk.

Coming to your town to shake things up soon, the majority of the ten tracks on this vibrantly pulsating new album pay homage to early R&B influences of Willie's, including Johnny Winter, the Rolling Stones, Willie Cobbs, Tampa Red and Mink DeVille.

1. 'Three Cool Cats'
2. 'Cadillac Walk'
3. 'Neighbor Neighbor'
4. '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'
5. 'Detroit Blues'
6. 'Give Me One Reason'
7. 'Montgomery Boogie'
8. 'I'm Yours And I'm Hers'
9. 'Eatin' Dry Onions'
10. 'Mean Town Blues'

Opening with The Coasters' finger-snappin' slickness of 'Three Cool Cats' they back that up with a song actually written by pop artist Moon Martin, but given a whole new work out in 1977 by Mink DeVille, the sexy slide guitar of the title track, 'Cadillac Walk.'

Their harmonica-driven version of Jimmy Hughes' 'Neighbor Neighbor' is a right doozy, for sure, and then we get a magnificent, earthy, lo-fi R&B cover of the Stones' '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction).'

Tampa Red's 'Detroit Blues' features not only Montgomery on vocals and harmonica, but a brilliant example of finger picking guitar style, similar to that of Willie Brown, from Willie, and that's backed by a quite remarkably atmospheric take on Tracy Chapman's 'Give Me One Reason.'

The full on, harmonica-driven rush that is Wes Montgomery's very own instrumental 'Montgomery Boogie' also happens to be one of my own personal favorites here, and that's backed by the funky blues of Johnny Winter's always-brilliant-to-hear (in any form) 'I'm Yours And I'm Hers.'

The album then comes to a close on the rambunctious Willie Cobbs' gem 'Eatin' Dry Onions,' before sadly coming to a close on the mid-tempo, storytelling blues of another Johnny Winter musical gem, 'Mean Town Blues.'

Jay Willie - guitar, slide guitar, vocals; James Montgomery - vocals, harmonica; Paul Opalach - bass, lap steel, keys, simulated horns; Bobby T Torello - drums with Lee-Ann Lovelace - vocals (2, 6) and Kyle Mangold - backing vocals (1).

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Jay Willie Blues Band @ Facebook

James Montgomery @ Facebook

Title - 'Solid'
Artist - Boney James

Solid is four-time GRAMMY nominated saxophonist Boney James' seventeenth album as a leader and will be released by Concord Records, April 17th, 2020.

The highly anticipated Solid follows up his smash 2017 release Honestly which became his eleventh #1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Album.

Sometimes, inspiration is slow in coming, evasive and stubborn. Other times, if an artist is very fortunate, it simply flows, the music practically writing itself.

That’s how Solid, the latest release from Boney James came to be. “This record really flowed at an unusually quick pace,” Boney says. “There was a lot of positive energy in making this music. Solid is a very upbeat record. As I was writing them, these songs put a smile on my face.”

Featuring eleven original songs and inclusive of R&B star Kenny Lattimore on the single 'Be Here,' the record is an uplifting collection of the highest order, that's for sure.

"This new music is a reaction to how stressful the world feels these days," Boney continues. "Music is a respite, it’s always ‘solid’ and it never lets me down."

1. 'Full Effect'
2. 'Solid'
3. 'The Bottom Line'
4. 'Luna'
5. 'On The Path'
6. 'Be Here' (feat. Kenny Lattimore)
7. 'Tonic'
8. 'Just So'
9. 'Fresh Air'
10. 'Sundance'
11. 'Last Train Home'

All of Solid’s eleven tracks were produced and written or co-written by James with three songs — 'Full Effect,' 'Tonic' and the title track — were built from licks played at sound-check by touring guitarist Kendall Gilder on the road in support of Honestly.

"I said, hey, what’s that riff you’re playing?” Boney recalls, “And Kendall said, ‘that’s just something I’m messing around with.’ I got my iPhone and recorded them, then took it home and wrote the songs!”

Four other songs were initiated by longtime James collaborator, acclaimed writer/producer Jairus ‘J-Mo’ Mozee (Anderson Paak, Nicki Minaj, Anthony Hamilton). One of those, 'Be Here,' was ultimately transformed into Solid’s Adult Urban single featuring special guest Kenny Lattimore; best known for his Top 10 R&B hit 'For You.'

The album opens with the lush, drum-led 'Full Effect' which Boney backs up seamlessly with the lavishly layered title track 'Solid,' the seductive 'The Bottom Line,' and then one of my own personal favorites here, the opulent majesty of 'Luna.'

Next up is the beautiful balladeer work of 'On The Path' which is followed by both the sumptuous R&B flow of 'Be Here' (featuring Kenny Lattimore), and then the jazz funk vibe of 'Tonic.'

Then comes the palatial crispness of 'Just So' which is backed by the thoughtful approach and free flowing techniques employed within 'Fresh Air,' the finger-snappin' beat of 'Sundance,' and then comes to a close with the beating jazz heart of 'Last Train Home.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

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Title - 'Myriad'
Artist - The Lovetones

For those not in the know, Australian psychedelic rock band The Lovetones released their debut album, Be What You Want, in 2002 through Bomp! Records

With comparisons made at the time hailing Matthew J. Tow's songwriting as being worthy of comparisons to Ray Davies, Bowie, Lennon and McCartney, after a successful tour of Australia, Tow joined The Brian Jonestown Massacre in 2003.

In 2004, The Lovetones released the Stars EP, which coincided with their support of The Brian Jonestown Massacre on their tour of Australia.

The second album, Meditations, was released through New York's Tee Pee Records in late 2005 and in June 2006, The Lovetones completed a European tour across 12 countries with The Brian Jonestown Massacre in support of Meditations (which was released in Europe through Tee Pee/Cargo Records).

The Lovetones recorded their third album, Axiom, during 2006, with sessions split between Figment Studios in Hollywood and the Sydney Opera House Recording Studio. It was released in June 2007, once again, through Tee Pee Records.

Their fourth album, Dimensions, was released November 4th, 2008 in Australia through Undercover Records and April 6th, 2009 in North America through Planting Seeds Records.

Matthew J. Tow and The Lovetones now return with their newest masterpiece of indie-psych, Myriad (out now via Cleopatra Records).

The band's sixth studio album, and their first since 2009, Tow is now back with his beloved band and brings with him a stunning brilliant cavalcade of ten solid tracks for the ride!

1. 'The Circle Turns'
2. 'About the Girl'
3. 'The Milkman of Human Kindness'
4. 'Caylus 74'
5. 'Everything You've Ever Had'
6. 'Rescue'
7. 'Modern Life Is Killing Me'
8. 'Caylus (Reprise)'
9. 'Walk Away'
10. 'I'll Never Be That Guy'

With all ten tracks coming complete with their renowned use of a masterful symphonic string vibe embracing the most acute of melodic sound waves, up first is the slow burning 'The Circle Turns' which is backed by the first single, and lusciously gorgeous 'About the Girl.'

Next up is the beautifully Lennon & McCartneyesque pairing of 'The Milkman of Human Kindness' and 'Caylus 74,' with the tenderly anthemic 'Everything You've Ever Had' backing them nicely.

Their brand of upbeat, jangly guitars amidst layered harmonies is brought nicely to the fore on 'Rescue' which is backed seamlessly by the somewhat darkly opinionated 'Modern Life Is Killing Me,' with a quick 'Caylus (Reprise)' blending in at its end.

The album then comes to a close on the magnificent, '60s-embodied, rose-tinted psych glasses of both 'Walk Away' and one of my own personal favorites on this new album, the slow-trip of 'I'll Never Be That Guy.'

'About The Girl' (Official Music Video)

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The Lovetones @ Facebook!

Title - 'Dreaming'
Artist - Missing Persons featuring Dale Bozzio

For those not in the know, the voice of '80s new wave icons Missing Persons, Dale Bozzio, returns with a rather outstanding new studio album of cover songs and originals.

Produced by the multi-talented Adam Hamilton (David Hasselhoff / William Shatner), Dreaming offers lush keyboards and atmospheric interpretations of some classic rock/pop songs brought to life by Bozzio’s unmistakable voice.

Inclusive of three original compositions, that still demonstrate Bozzio’s relevance to the modern electronic genre which her original band inspired, the 12-track album is out now via Cleopatra Records.

1. 'California Dreamin’
2. 'Lipstick'
3. 'Dreaming'
4. 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place'
5. 'Playing With Fire'
6. 'Just What I Needed'
7. 'This Is The Day'
8. 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
9. 'Images Of Heaven'
10. 'Incense And Peppermints'
11. 'This Time'
12. 'In The Rain'

Opening with a tricky cover of 'California Dreamin’ (The Mamas & Papas), Bozzio slow steps her way through the track, always careful to maintain the original rhythm, but not afraid to sharpen the edges with some mid-'80s New Wave fuzz.

The bouncy, perky, first up of the trio of originals here is 'Lipstick,' which then bleeds into the beautifully hauntingly melodies of the new title track, 'Dreaming.'

Next up is an ambitious cover of The Animals' 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' which, for my money, works better in some places than others, and that's backed by both a stunning version of 'Play With Fire' (the Rolling Stones), and then a full-on, early '90s, all out industrial synth attack on The Cars' 'Just What I Needed.'

Bozzio's version of The The's magnificent 'This Is The Day' is good, but underwhelming, but she makes up for that on her simply magnificent, reverb reinvention of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' (New Order).

Next up is a synth-tastic remake of 'Images Of Heaven' (Peter Godwin) which is followed by the fun pop bounce of Strawberry Alarm Clock's '60s classic 'Incense And Peppermints.'

This, in all journalistic honesty, bravely sculptured musical treat from Bozzio (which is available on both CD and limited edition PINK vinyl), then rounds out with the last of the new tracks, the forthright 'This Time,' and then comes to a close with a stellar rendition of The Dramatics' 'In The Rain.'

Missing Persons featuring Dale Bozzio @ Facebook!

Official CD Purchase Link

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