Title - 'Don't Take Away The Music: The Remix Project'
Artist - Tavares
For those not in the know, Tavares (also now known as The Tavares Brothers) are an American R&B, funk, and soul music group, composed of five Cape Verdean-American brothers. Born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, they would later move to New Bedford, Massachusetts. They were inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
In truth, 1975 turned out to be their most successful year chartwise, with a Top 40 Pop album (In the City), the #25 hit "Remember What I Told You to Forget", and their biggest hit, the Top 10 Pop/#1 R&B smash "It Only Takes a Minute", which was later successfully covered by both Jonathan King and Take That, and sampled by Jennifer Lopez. They parlayed this success into a spot as an opening act for The Jackson 5. KC and The Sunshine Band was also on this tour.
"Minute" was followed by a string of hits: "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel" (1976), "Don't Take Away the Music" (1976), and "Whodunit" (1977, another #1 R&B hit). In 1977 they also recorded "I Wanna See You Soon", a duet with Capitol labelmate Freda Payne which received airplay on BBC Radio 1 but failed to chart.
SoulMusic Records is now proud to present a specially-compiled CD of remixes of five (5) of the major hits by this beloved international hitmakers. Compiled and created by top European remix producer Ben Liebrand, this incredible 11 track CD features four of their biggest hits; inclusive of a US disco version of "It Only Takes A Minute", making its CD debut along with the Liebrand-penned instrumental "One Minute".
Personally, I'm a HUGE fan of Tavares and so this CD arriving for review was always going to get right of way into my CD player! I have to also admit though that 11 tracks, but with only four songs (and two of those are just one song each) does seem to be stretching it out a wee bit thin, but I loaded the CD and let the music take me away!
First up was the title track, "Don't Take Away The Music (Remix)", but at just under four minutes, it was, basically, just the radio/single version. Great to hear again, sure, but that's about it. Then came "It Only Takes A Minute (Remix)", which again falls into the four minute radio/single version. The remainder rise above that four minute mark, some just, so please don't think that this is some form of 12" remix music show, for (save for a couple) it is not.
Up next are two more versions of "It Only Takes A Minute", the first a Disco Version (making its CD debut), the next an Extended Remix that nearly hits the eight minute mark. Now that's when my jam came out and I fell back in love with the band, their music. "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel" is up next, as both a Remix version and an Irresistible Angel Mix - which, with regard the later, is a rather splendid, nearly nine minute long slice of Heaven.
"More Than A Woman" is up next via two versions. The first is a simple Remix, the second an Extended Remix, clocking in at just under seven minutes. The song is just so uplifting, such a joy to still listen to today. Then comes the aforementioned instrumental "One Minute", which is followed by "Whodunnit (Extended Remix)", but Liebrand rounds out this CD in style, and comes full musical circle, with an eight minute long "Don't Take Away The Music (Hands Off The Music Mix)".
Remastered by Donald Cleveland, this 2016 release follows the label’s reissue of seven Capitol albums by the group – “Love Storm” (SMCR-5127), “Hard Core Poetry” (SMCR-5097), “Love Uprising” (SMCR-5065), “Madam Butterfly” (SMCR-5064), “Supercharged” (SMCR–5045), “Sky-High!” (SMCR-5023) and “In The City” (SMCR-5022). Stellar notes by renowned U.S. writer Kevin Goins include quotes from members of the group.
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Title - 'Save The Children: Expanded Edition'
Artist - The Intruders
For those not in the know, The Intruders were an American soul music group most popular in the 1960s and 1970s. As one of the first groups to have hit songs under the direction of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, they had a major influence on the development of Philadelphia soul. The Intruders are also noted for having 24 R&B chart hits, including 6 R&B Top Tens, and 14 chart hits in the Billboard Hot 100, including their signature song, the million-selling Top 10 smash, "Cowboys to Girls".
Big Break Records is proud to present Save The Children, adding to the list of classic PIR titles released by the label. Featuring two extended Tom Moulton mixes and liner notes by Christian John Wikane, Save The Children is an essential addition to any Philly Soul, R&B and Disco fans collection.
In truth, by the time The Intruders had released their highly acclaimed album Save The Children in 1973, they were already established as one of the leading R&B groups of their era. Having amassed 20 hit R&B singles and three albums the classic line-up of Sam 'Little Sonny' Brown, Eugene 'Bird' Daughtry, Robert 'Big Sonny" Edwards and Phil Terry came back together to record their fourth of five albums for Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's associated enterprises.
1. "Save the Children"
2. "Mother and Child Reunion"
3. "I Wanna Know Your Name"
4. "To Be Happy Is the Real Thing"
5. "I'll Always Love Mama"
6. "Memories Are Here to Stay"
8. "Hang on in There"
9. "(Win, Place or Show) She's a Winner"
10. "Travelling Home"
11. "I'll Always Love My Mama (A Tom Moulton Mix)"
12. "(Win, Place or Show) She's a Winner (A Tom Moulton Mix)"
We kick things off with the title track, the ultra smooth R&B of "Save The Children", a song that just oozes itself all over and out of your speakers. An anthemic track if ever there was, and running at just over seven minutes, it's followed by one of my own personal Intruders favorites, the free flowing "Mother and Child Reunion". Man, just listen to this track in your car, windows down, on a hot summers day and all your troubles will simply fly away!
Next up is the slow paced balled, "I Wanna Know Your Name", which in turn is backed by the piano-led, mid tempo, "To Be Happy Is The Real Thing", and then the uptempo, horn-a-plenty beauty "I'll Always Love My Mama". "Memories Are Here To Stay" is next, and that's backed by the last song on the original album, the powerfully sung, rigid even, "Teardrops".
The bonus tracks begin with the racetrack-inspired "(Win, Place or Show) She's A Winner", "Travelling Home", a nearly ten minute long "I'll Always Love My Mama (A Tom Moulton Mix)", and then bringing this expanded edition CD to a close we get "(Win, Place or Show) She's A Winner (A Tom Moulton Mix)". Beginning completely differently to the race track announcer that began the original single, it now brings a warm, fuzzy orchestrated feeling to the song.
A grand expanded edition of this original 1973 album from Cherry Red Records, for sure, and although I still have no idea as to what, or why the back photograph is on this release, or why The Intruders felt like never wearing any shirts when they did photo calls, all in all, Save The Children: Expanded Edition is one of the stand out highlights of the aforementioned record label's releases this year.
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Title - 'I'm Ready: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Natalie Cole
For those not in the know, the late Natalie Cole was an American singer-songwriter, and actress. The daughter of Nat King Cole, she rose to musical success in the mid-1970s as an R&B artist with the hits "This Will Be," "Inseparable," and "Our Love." After a period of failing sales and performances due to a heavy drug addiction, Cole re-emerged as a pop artist with the 1987 album Everlasting and her cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac".
In the 1990s, she re-recorded standards by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and also won Cole numerous Grammy Awards. She sold over 30 million records worldwide.
Sadly, on December 31, 2015, Cole died at the age of 65 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, due to congestive heart failure.
SoulMusic Records is proud to present an expanded edition of I’m Ready, the sole album recorded by the legendary Natalie Cole for Epic Records. The original eight-track 1983 album is supplemented by four cuts produced by famed musician Stanley Clarke which remained in the vaults until they were included in a ‘90s U.S. reissue of the original LP.
1. "Too Much Mister"
2. "I Won't Deny You"
3. "I'm Ready"
4. "Keep It on the Outside"
5. "Time (Heals All Wounds)"
6. "(I'm Coming) Straight from the Heart"
7. "Where's Your Angel"
8. "I'm Your Mirror"
9. "Winner (Takes All)"
10. "Azz Iz"
11. "Movin' on"
12. "How Can You Stop?"
I'm Ready is a rather lovely album, all told. Originally just 8 tracks long, you can especially feel the Stanley Clarke influence on the four bonus tracks, that's for sure. It begins with "Too Much Mister", a cut that begins and ends with gentle high hats, and showcases her "Pink Cadillac vocal R&B stylings" that would come to the fore five years later. The snappy, happy, guitar peaked "I Won't Deny You" is yet another precious diamond on this album, and is backed by the title track, the piano-led, R&B guitar steered, and dusky-sung "I'm Ready".
The storytelling of "Keep It On The Outside" is next and is followed by the 80's pop (quite literally) sounds of "Time (Heals All Wounds)" and then that bleeds perfectly into the keyboard-led ballad, "(I'm Coming) Straight From The Heart". The synth is loud and proud here on the funky "Where's Your Angel", which also happens to be one of my personal favs, and then the original album comes to a close with the stirring, string undercurrent of the ballad "I'm Your Mirror".
The four bonus tracks begin with "Winner (Take All)", a rather wonderful, and deeply funk driven track that has absolutely nothing to do with ABBA, sorry! Another synth-driven underlay is to then be found on the brilliant "Azz Iz", a cut that lives up to its crazy title. A foot tapper all the way through, you can just hear Whitney Houston singing this, that's for sure. Then comes the incredibly funky "Moving' On", complete with a beat that just begs you for a dancefloor, before the album comes to a close with the cool R&B grooves of "How Can You Stop".
The original album reached peak positions of number 182 on the Billboard 200 and number 54 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart, but deserved much higher on this listening. I think you will also agree once you give this a spin, believe me on that.
Remastered by Nick Robbins, this 2016 SoulMusic Records reissue follows the label’s release of two other Cole classics, “Natalie…Live!” (SMCR-5009) and “Thankful,” an expanded edition (SMCR-5028) and includes insightful notes by renowned U.S. writer Justin Kantor and a personal tribute to Natalie by SoulMusic.com founder David Nathan, who began interviewing her in 1975.
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Title - 'TRANE 90' [4-CD]
Artist - John Coltrane
For those not in the know, John Coltrane, also known as "Trane" was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and was later at the forefront of free jazz. He led at least fifty recording sessions during his career, and appeared as a sideman on many albums by other musicians, including trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk.
As his career progressed, Coltrane and his music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. Coltrane influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant saxophonists in music history. He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane and a special Pulitzer Prize in 2007.[ His second wife was pianist Alice Coltrane and their son Ravi Coltrane is also a saxophonist.
His death, aged just 41 in 1967, left an aching chasm at the heart of an art form and nearly fifty years after his passing his legacy continues to inform much of what is thought of as innovative within contemporary jazz. Even more unbelievably, a staggering nine decades have passed since the birth of this still controversial figure, a man whose music continues to generate passionate debate both for and against.
Trane 90 presents a four-disc anthology charting his journey from sideman to star, covering his seminal work with leaders including the aforementioned Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, through his horn for hire phase as one of New York's hottest new jazz talents, in which he recorded with everyone from fellow tenor Sonny Rollins to avant-garde gurus Cecil Taylor and George Russell, onto the formation of his own quartet, a unit that was to change both the pace and the face of jazz.
Classic Coltrane performances such as "Moment's Notice", "Giant Steps", "Naima" and "Chasin' The Trane" are included, as are his scene stealing solos on tracks with Miles Davis ("So What") and Thelonious Monk ("Trinkle Tinkle"). Also included in this glorious package is a major new essay on Coltrane by saxophonist and author Simon Spillett. Complete with period photographs and a bonus CD of live material (tracing Coltrane's career back to his early work with Dizzy Gillespie and Johnny Hodges), it provides the ultimate opportunity to witness Coltrane building his own legend, step by step.
Disc 1: 1. Stablemates
2. Trane's Blues
3. Dear Old Stockholm
4. Well, You Needn't
5. Monk's Mood
6. Trinkle Tinkle
7. Straight, No Chaser
8. So What
9. On Green Dolphin Street (Live)
Disc 2: 1. Straight Street
2. Moment's Notice
3. Good Bait
4. Giant Steps
6. Blues To Bechet
8. Chasin' The Trane
Disc 3: 1. Tenor Madness
2. Bob's Boys
4. Two Bass Hit
6. West 42nd Street
8. Just Friends
9. Bags & Trane
10. Grand Central
Disc 4: 1. Birks' Works 2. Don't Blame Me
3. Max Is Making Wax
4. Tune Up
5. Bye Bye Blackbird
6. My Favourite Things
8. Body And Soul
Simply put, TRANE 90 is, for all intents and purposes, the complete John Coltrane collection. Chronicling his career from start to finish, his history is laid out bare for everyone to delve into here. When he died in 1967 it left a gaping hole in the music industry, but this fills it back up - even if it is just a temporary listening experience.
That said, it's just what you need on a day when you have nothing to do, when the weather isn't cooperating, and you are indoors, milling around. You slip one of these CDs in (man, I wish they had made this as a vinyl LP set too!), maybe even slip your headphones on, and allow yourself to be guided into the world of Trane.
Title - 'Songs of Faith'
Artist - Dee Dee Sharp
For those not in the know, Dee Dee Sharp is an American R&B singer, who began her career recording as a backing vocalist in 1961. In 1962 she began a string of successful Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hits: "Slow Twistin'" (with Chubby Checker) (#3) for which she was uncredited on the label, "Mashed Potato Time" (#2), "Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)" (#9), "Ride" (#5) and "Do the Bird" (#10).
Both "Mashed Potato Time" and "Ride" each sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs. "Do the Bird" provided her only entry in the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at #46 in April 1963. In 1967, she married record producer and Philadelphia International co-founder Kenny Gamble (and subsequently began recording under the name Dee Dee Sharp-Gamble) although the couple later divorced in 1980.
Now she is back via ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. with a newly-rereleased Songs of Faith album. Having now listened to this CD twice through, and not knowing about Ms. Sharp beforehand, I can honestly say that Dee Dee Sharp is one fine singer who deserves to have album's like this see the light of day once again. Especially given that it's now been 54 years since she released Songs of Faith!
Brilliant orchestrations surround a voice that defies description straight from the off with this collection of twelve tracks composed of early gospel hymns, spiritual blessings, and even rumblings of country, the stirring 'Peace In The Valley' (Thomas A. Dorsey) is up first. That's followed by the slower 'He', the known-throughout bounce of 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands', the Choir-backed 'I Believe', and then both the gentle sway of 'Vaya Con Dios', and then the anthemic, and also now uber well known 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
The gospel-inspired 'It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)' is next, and is backed by the 'We'll Walk Together', a track that allows Sharp's voice to truly soar. The more grounded ballad 'Heavenly Father' is next, and is followed by the fast, countrified ditty 'Up Hill'.
Sharp even gets to sing a Broadway song, in the shape of the immense 'Climb Every Mountain' from The Sound of Music. And she does it with style to spare, for Sharp's rich, lush, and on some occasions even powerful voice moves through each selection here with confidence and grace. Add the lush orchestration that backs her at every turn, inclusive of the last track, 'I'll Make You Mine' and this CD is a must have for all fans of female singers who, simply put, need to be heard more of today.
To bring you up to date on the lady her, Dee Dee Sharp still attends Philadelphia’s Third Eternal Baptist Church where Eubie Gilbert, her grandfather, served as pastor when she was a child and vividly recollects the Songs of Faith sessions. “Most of these were done in one or just a few takes. I love singing with live orchestras and I’d been singing most of these songs for my whole life so it was easy.”
She continued, “Singing gospel has always been my heart’s desire and while this album isn’t ‘gut gospel,’ I love these songs. I sang ‘Climb Every Mountain’ at my Junior High School graduation from Thomas Fitzsimons Junior High and my grandfather was there. I remember him in the audience just beaming."
Also, this new edition of Songs of Faith includes insightful liner notes by Gayle Wald, Professor of English and American Studies at George Washington University and author of Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock–and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
The album had been out of print and is now be available once again as ABKCO Records has released this reissue on October 21st, 2016 on CD and in digital formats.
Title - 'The Intimate Keely Smith: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Keely Smith
You may well not have known of Dorothy Jacqueline Keely within the music business, indeed, you may not have either known of the artist she chose to become, Keely Smith, but in the 1950s you most certainly knew of her husband - Louis Prima.
Keely is an American jazz and popular music singer who enjoyed popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and who not only collaborated with her husband, but among others Frank Sinatra.
But well before all of that, Keely first showed a natural aptitude for singing at aged just 14. The Portsmouth, Virginia native started singing with a naval air station band led by Saxie Dowell and at 15, she got her first paying job with the Earl Bennett band.
Keely made her professional debut with Prima in 1949, where on stage she often played the "straight guy" in the duo to Prima's wild antics. Of course, they also recorded many duets, including Johnny Mercer's and Harold Arlen's "That Ol' Black Magic", which was a Top 20 hit in the US in 1958.
In 1959, Keely and Prima were awarded the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus for "That Ol' Black Magic" and the duo followed that up with the minor successes "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen"; a revival of the 1937 Andrews Sisters hit.
Keely and Prima's act was a mainstay of the Las Vegas lounge scene for much of the 1950s. Though her actual voice was not used, she was caricatured as "Squealy Smith" in Bob Clampett's 1960 Beany and Cecil episode "So What and the Seven Whatnots," a Snow White spoof in a Vegas setting.
Amazingly, between her debut album I Wish You Love (1957) on Capitol Records and her last album, Vegas '58 - Today (2005) on Concord, she has recorded 21 albums. In 1965, Keely recorded The Intimate Keely Smith on Reprise Records and now via Real Gone Records, and released this past October 14th, 2016, we are lucky enough to have it re-released, and this time in a glorious Expanded Edition.
This concept album itself is, without a shadow of a doubt, something that you are either going to love, adore even, or want to turn off three songs in. That would be a mistake, but understandable if stoic, yet heart-rendering, haunting, yet bass line melodic piano ballads are not your cup o' tea.
With Keely's voice up front and personal, crystal clear and alone, bare and surprisingly forceful, a solitary piano and light drum and high hat for company, from the moment 'Somebody Loves Me' is brought forth, and is backed by both 'As Long As He Needs Me' and 'Blame It One My Youth', you know how the remainder of the album will pan out.
Keely, in her day, was one of the world's most popular entertainers, I was also taken aback to learn that she retained the rights to the five albums she made for Reprise Records. That never really happens in this day and age, so for this The Intimate Keely Smith to finally come out on CD, it seems the people at Real Gone Music have struck gold. For, and in conjunction with Keely and her family, they are also now going to release all of those Reprise Records albums on CD for the first time; and all as Expanded Editions.
Produced by Keely’s husband-to-be & Reprise hitmaker Jimmy Bowen, The Intimate Keely Smith continues on in the same aforementioned musical vein with 'He Needs Me', 'Sinner or Saint', 'It Had To Be You', a rendition of Frank Sinatra's 'Time After Time', 'Nancy / You Are My Sunshine', her take on Billie Holiday's infamous 'God Bless the Child', 'You'll Never Know', and then 'The Whippoorwill'.
The two bonus tracks that make this an Expanded Edition are 'Twin Soliloquies (Wonder How It Feels)', a duet with Frank Sinatra (a track from the The Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre Presents South Pacific album), and the one and only upbeat, complete with orchestra track, 'No One Ever Tells You'. Rare in and unto itself, it is a non-LP single of the King-Goffin-Spector track arranged by Jack Nitszche and also produced by Bowen.
Title - 'Live at Kramus Deluxe Studio' (EP)
Artist - Grit
So, for those not in the know, Grit are a French music ensemble who have just released a 3-track EP entitled Live at Kramus Deluxe Studio via Greasy Records.
The Parisian four-piece (Marcus Linon, Guitar & Vocals; Matthieu Vial-Collet, Guitar & Vocals; Quentin Rochas, Bass & Vocals; and Florian Gouėllo, Drums & Vocals) have been gaining a lot of media and fan attention in the past few months and having worked hard to be where they are, now find themselves on the brink of something big, bold and very, very exciting.
The first track on the new EP, 'G.F.Y' (which pleasantly stands for Go F**k Yourself) is full on sound! Blaring out, attacking every sense your body contains, it's a musical assault that once the vocals kick in, suddenly remind you of the "softer side" of the Grunge era circa late '90s.
The guitar fest that holds 'Ready or Not' together is, for me, the best of the three tracks. It's just got a little bit of everything and removes them from the aforementioned Grunge and into an early Green Day period. The third track, 'Sister' keeps them in that late '90s/early '00s vibe. The lightest music on the EP, combined with the other two, it shows a fluid continuity, but at the same time showcases their musical diversity.
Sure the EP is just a tad over ten minutes, but the catured levels of raw, unadulterated energy make you desperate to keep the EP on rotation. And therein lies their biggest secret, for the more you play this music, the better each song becomes! A rarity in this business, but yeah, these three songs grow on you, do get better with each listen, and actually become more cohesive, mature even the more you listen. I cannot wait to hear a full-length album from them, and once you've listened to this EP, you'll think the same way too, trust me.
Title - 'Horse'
Artist - Slaves on Dope
For those not in the know, Slaves on Dope is a Canadian nu metal band based in Montreal, Canada. The band was formed in 1993 by Jason Rockman, Kevin Jardine and Avrum Nadigel, in the midst of the "grunge" explosion. They were highly influenced by this particular sound early on in the live shows and recordings, although at that time the Canadian music scene had yet to even embrace nu/alternative metal music.
Of course, all that changed and over the years nu metal has been more than welcomed into the musical fold by the masses. Releasing their debut album One Good Turn Deserves Another in 1998, then following that up with Inches From The Mainline (2000), Metafour (2003), and Over The Influence (2012), Slaves On Dope returns with their fifth full-length album Horse via the ILS Group.
Their most powerful album to date, recorded at Uplift Studios in Montreal, the album is dedicated 'to all the alcoholics and addicts suffering in the world' as a theme of hope and recovery winds through each song. Also, and interestingly enough, the cover art is an original painting created especially for the release by Marvel Comics artist Marco Rudy.
The pounding, guitar fest of 'Electric Kool Aid' is up first, and backed by the soaring 'Health Food And Heroin', the "lighter" fare of both 'Freebasing' and 'K-Hole', and then both 'Script Writer' (featuring Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, a founding member of, of course, the hip hop group Run–D.M.C.), and the brilliant guitar slinging of my own personal favorite on the album, 'Interplanatery Mission' (featuring Bill Kelliher, the rhythm guitarist of heavy metal band Mastodon).
'Liquid Sunshine' (featuring Bad Brains frontman HR) brings more of their nu metal to the fore, albeit with a slightly pop substance to it, and that's backed by 'Codependency' featuring Lee-La Baum of The Damn Truth. The album then rounds out with the drum-tastic 'P&P' and the perfect cherry on the musical cake, 'Disco Biscuit'.
Title - 'Reminiscence'
Artist - Tyler Reese
You may not know his name, as I admittedly didn't, but once you've heard his new album, Reminiscence (out November 4th, 2016) you'll want to know all about this most talented guitarist, trust me.
His name is Tyler Reese and he is, quite easily, one of the most talented musicians that I have ever had the pleasure to be asked to review in the past decade. His new album, the aforementioned Reminiscence is an eleven song show-and-tell for Reese, on which he showcases his ambitious guitar prowess through a vast jazz soundscape.
Beginning with the delicate, precise acoustic plucking tour de force 'Moving On', that's followed by the vibrant electricity of 'Breaking Point' and then both the frenetic jazz bounce of 'Out of Orbit' and the piano-led 'Reflections'. One of my own personal favs is 'Astrotermination', which is like a speeding train rounding corners, leaning into curves, bending the known logic for both safety and control.
'2Funk' is, as you would imagine, a funky R&B experience that Prince's NPG would have been proud to call their own, and that's backed by the jazz pop flow of 'Escapade'. Next up is the haunting guitar work of the title track, 'Reminiscence', a cut that seems to stretch out, to meld with your soul before your very ears, and that's followed by the back-in-the-day Charlestonesque 'Headed Out.'
The beautiful, stunningly gorgeous 'Emancipation' is brought forth next and is a pure delight to behold. Yet another of my favorites from the album, it rounds out the 10 track CD just perfectly. There is, however, a bonus track on this CD entitled 'Moving On - Radio Version', which actually brings the album full circle very nicely.
Simply put, Tyler Reese's new album Reminiscence features a solid collection of some of the most original, heartwarming, and thoroughly addictive guitar playing that the genre has ever witnessed. Whether he be gracefully strumming, rocking out, or flashing back to a golden era, Reese's fretwork is both captivating and engaging at all times.
Title - 'Ampersand, Vol. 2'
Artist - IZZ
For those not in the know, IZZ is a New York based progressive rock band. Its music is inspired by such classic progressive groups as Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Renaissance and is often infused with pop hooks ą la The Beatles. The band's name comes from the nickname of baseball relief pitcher Jason Isringhausen, who was once on the New York Mets, a team favored by bass guitarist John Galgano.
Over the years, IZZ (Tom Galgano - keyboards, vocals; John Galgano - bass, guitar, vocals, keyboards; Paul Bremner - guitars; Greg DiMiceli - acoustic drums, percussion; Brian Coralian - acoustic and electronic drums, percussion; Anmarie Byrnes - vocals; and Laura Meade - vocals) has performed at American progressive rock festivals RoSfest, NEARfest, The Rogue Independent Music Festival,CalProg, and ProgDay.
IZZ has just released their ninth new album, Ampersand, Volume 2, this past October 11th, 2016. Following on from Volume 1's release back in 2004 (Doone Records), it is comprised of 12 brand new studio tracks. Chock full of both long and short tracks, it's true to say that Ampersand, Volume 2 contains songs that highlight the band’s passion for songwriting, melody and diversity of styles and sounds.
The first track is 'Penelope', a song that allows Galgano and Byrnes to join musical vocal forces alongside the backdrop of his brother's keyboards. A beautiful, hauntingly so song, it is followed by the upbeat 'Fine', a cut that travels along nicely atop an acoustic guitar path. Next up is the Galgano sung 'Burn (If You Let It)', a track that he commands from start to finish, once again with a keyboard/piano back drop. That's followed by the all coming together, plugged in, '70s flashback styling of 'Take Me By The Hand', 'The Telephone', the lovely, ethereal 'Forever' from Meade, and then the frenetic guitar plucking of 'Hail Double Knob, Children of Mars.'
Galgano takes the vocals again on the delicate 'Again and Again', before a sturdy, controlling keyboard piano comes to the fore on '84th and Amsterdam.' The upbeat, frenzied seeding train piano back drop accompanies Galgano on 'Ascension in Time', which is backed by some stupendous guitar playing on my own personal favorite song on the album, the brilliant 'Spellbound in the Vortex.' The album is then rounded out by the longest track, the psychedelic trip known as 'Ready To Go.'
Complete with tight vocal male and female harmonies, expert acoustic and electric guitar playing, with songs that start slow and then evolve into stand alone prog tracks, and wonderful keyboard solo's by Tom Galgano, Ampersand, Volume 2 is one of IZZ's strongest albums to date. Simply put, their follow up to Volume 1 does not disappoint.
"Fine" - Lyric Video
Title - 'Jazz Loves Disney' (Compilation)
Artist - Various
I mean, come on now, who doesn't love Disney? And, for that matter, who doesn't like Jazz? Combine the two passions from their own worlds and you get an album quite like no other from Verve Records. Out November 18th, 2016, Jazz Loves Disney is already now one of my favorite Disney albums covered by some of the best Jazz greats known to the business.
There’s something very special about Disney songs and the music from the magic kingdom’s films and cartoons. It’s music that remind us of a special time, a time when we young and such is the magical feeling that they conjure up that they unleash our inner child. Walt Disney was a fan of jazz, so they say, so this new album seems like the perfect partner to accompany some of his finest musical works.
We kick off in style with Jamie Cullum's version of "Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat", and that's backed by a ultra lush, smokey vocalized "He's A Tramp" from Melody Gardot. Then comes one of my own personal favs on this incredible album, the bossa nova spin of "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (French Version)" from Grammy-nominated American jazz singer Stacey Kent. Next up is a stirring performance (does he ever do any other kind) of "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Gregory Porter, and that's followed by "Why Don't You Do Right?" from French singer China Moses.
Raphael Gualazzi is up next with his rendition of the beloved by kids (and adults still) "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)". The Italian singer and pianist really puts a delightful spin on the song and ensures it will go down, in my mind, as one of the most played tracks on this entire album. Not to say that any are fillers, because there just isn't, for next we get the wonderful instrumental "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" (The Rob Mounsey Orchestra), and then a stunning "You've Got A Friend In Me" from Hugh Coltman.
The now infamous "Let It Go" from Frozen is this time performed, and more than adequately, by French national Anne Sila, and then along comes everybody's go-to Disney sing-along favorites, "The Bare Necessities", performed here by both Melody Gardot and Raphael Gualazzi. My goodness, what an incredible take on the song they collectively bring, and yes, it is an obvious stand out highlight.
British band Laika next bring us "Once Upon A Dream" and that's followed by "Un jour mon prince veindra" from Nikki Yanofsky. This exquisite, truly unique album is then brought to a close with New York-based ensemble The Hot Sardines giving us a fantastic rendition of "I Wanna Be Like You" that would give any other band who tried the same a severe run for their money, trust me.
Man, that trumpet playing is just out of control and together with everyone in the ensemble coming together as one, this is, without a shadow of a doubt, my own personal favorite (and I think, once you have played this CD, you will wholeheartedly agree with me also).
1. Jamie Cullum – “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” – from The Aristocrats
2. Melody Gardot – “He’s A Tramp” – from Lady And The Tramp
3. Stacey Kent – “Bibbidi Bobbodo Boo” (French version) – from Cinderella
4. Gregory Porter – “When You Wish Upon A Star” – from Pinocchio
5. China Moses – “Why Don’t You Do Right” – from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
6. Raphaėl Gualazzi – “I Wanna Be Like You” – from The Jungle Book
7. The Rob Mounsey Orchestra – “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” – from Cinderella
8. Hugh Coltman – “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” – from Toy Story
9. Anne Sila – “Let It Go” – from Frozen
10. Melody Gardot & Raphaėl Gualazzi – “The Bare Necessities” – from The Jungle Book
11. Laika – “Once Upon A Dream” – from Sleeping Beauty
12. Nikki Yanofsky -“Someday My Prince Will Come” – from Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
13. The Hot Sardines – I Wanna Be Like You (French version) – from The Jungle Book
Title - 'Freedom, Now!'
Artist - Free Human Zoo
For those not in the know, Free Human Zoo (Laurent Skoczek, Samy Thiébault, Nico Feuger, Emmanuel Guerrero, and Matthieu Rosso et Gilles Le Rest) are a French ensemble whose music combines the elements of Jazz, Rock, Jazz-Rock, Pop, Prog, Folk, and so much more.
Their new album is entitled Freedom, Now! is a 4-track collection of songs that are both emotional and sensitive, whilst at the same time both void of grounding and chock full of immense free spirit.
The fun, upbeat "Borokoni" is up first, and wow, they immediately grab you, wanting you up on your feet. I mean, if the chords had arms they would be swinging you in jazz / prog moves around the room! The more precise, thoughtful "Amour moteur, Matrice" is next and showcases exactly what this highly talented ensemble can do.
"Aspettando la Primavera" turns the heat down somewhat, and ebbs and flows in a most beautiful, delicate even style. The last track is "Maniacus", a cut that seems to follow the traits of how improvisational jam sessions come to be. With dynamic peaks and troughs throughout, it's yet another highlight of this incredible album from Free Human Zoo.
Official Free Human Zoo Website
Title - 'Jaguar Jesus' [Explicit]
Artist - J French
If you have not thus far heard of musician J French, once this album comes out, the songs hit the radio, you're gonna want to know a whole lot more about him, trust me.
The son of Grammy-winning reggae percussionist and vocalist Brother Num (Burning Spear), Jamal French aka J French is an accomplished rapper, multi-instrumentalist and producer based in Oklahoma City.
Having been a rapper since he was 12 years old, over the subsequent years J French has been quietly composing his rhymes and creating his lyrics to bring forth to an adoring public. For those that know him love him, and those that don't know of hm (myself included) find a core within his music that we can all too easily relate to.
J French, who also plays cornet, piano and drums, has worked with several rappers in the Oklahoma-Texas scene over the years, but it was his childhood time, split between his Harlem-based father and his mother's home in Edmond, OK, where he really began soaking up the musical spoils that both the East Coast and the Midwest had to offer.
He has just released a new EP entitled Too A.M. this past April 2016 and now come December 9th, 2016 via IV League Entertainment, his will be bringing out his high anticipated debut album, Jaguar Jesus.
1. X-Ray Vision (03:29) 2. Electric Paris (03:34) 3. Unsatisfied II (03:49) 4. Ultra Bass (03:16) 5. White Chocolate Droppa Interlude (00:20) 6. Check (02:53) 7. Reign (03:49) 8. Dallas (02:44) 9. Sure (03:20) 10. Up There (02:35) 11. Such an Art (03:20) 12. Clouds (03:39)
The album is smooth, it's structured, it's chock full of hipsway and technique. The lead single 'Dallas' is a gem all unto itself, the storytelling within it, well, you just know it's obviously something that J French experienced himself. J French knows this music, raps perfectly to every rhyme and rhythm like it's a second language to him.
He may well have been in trouble for a while back in the day, but nothing from his negative past ever makes it through to his lyrics, to his music. J French knows where he need to go from here. He's always trying to climb, to make the next best move for him. This album, for now, is that move.
"Dallas" - Official Music Video
Title - 'My Little Pony: It's a Pony Kind of Christmas'
Artist - Various
For those not in the kiddie-land / parenting know, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - It's a Pony Kind of Christmas is a brand new holiday album containing original holiday-themed songs and new versions of traditional public domain Christmas songs, along with an extended version of The Heart Carol.
It also features performances by the cast of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic (so, no stand in's simply brought on board just to knock the songs out and leave!) along with the Phoenix Chamber Choir of Vancouver on several tracks, including the opening title track, 'It's a Pony Kind Of Christmas'.
Re-released on CD on October 7th, 2016 and on on-demand streaming and digital media on November 6th, 2015, this delightful 15-track album also contains five brand-new tracks from "A Hearth's Warming Tail," the 2016 holiday episode of Discovery Family's popular My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated television series.
So, after the euphoric title track, which also puts the whole MLP gang up front and center vocally, next up is the fast paced 'Jingle Bells' from Rainbow Dash, the ballad 'Deck the Halls' from Rarity & Phoenix Chamber Choir (PCC), the anthemic 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' (Twilight Sparkle & PCC), the stirring 'Silent Night' (Fluttershy & PCC), and then both the fun 'Twelve Days of Christmas' from Pinkie Pie (what's a cherry chugger?!), and Pop Fly with 'Last Year I Got Coal for Christmas.'
'Jolly ol' St. Nick' from Spike is next, with the triumphant 'Days Gone By (Auld Lang Syne)' by Apple Jack, Appleblom & Granny Smith, and that's backed by 'The Heart Carol' (PCC), 'Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again' from Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie & Fluttershy. The swashbuckling 'Say Goodbye to the Holiday' from Starlight Glimmer is my personal favorite on here, and that's followed by Applejack & Starlight Glimmer on 'The Seeds of the Past.' The CD then rounds out with Pinkie Pie on the upbeat dance fest 'Pinkie's Present', and then the soaring 'Luna's Future' by Princess Luna.'
A wonderful treat for all My Little Pony fans, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - It's a Pony Kind of Christmas is most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, the best stocking stuffer they could ever hope to open come Christmas Day. This re-released expanded version, due to those aforementioned new five songs from A Hearth's Warming Tail, also comes with a very colorful booklet and a collectible poster!
Title - 'Mike Watt - ring spiel tour ’95'
Artist - Mike Watt
Listening to this 2LP vinyl music experience the first thing that comes to mind is, Wow! That's quickly followed by "Where has this been hiding for the past 21 years?! Well, luckily for all us audiophiles and true blue lovers of great music, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release – as an aforementioned 2LP vinyl, CD and digital album – Mike Watt’s “ring spiel” tour ’95 live concert recording, on Friday, November 11th, 2016.
Personally, I'm listening to the 150g standard 2LP vinyl offering of this incredible “ring spiel” tour ’95, but, and fellow audiophiles please take note now, for there will also be made available a limited edition 2LP vinyl 12″ orange colored set!!
Available for the first time commercially in any format, “ring spiel” tour ’95 is a thrilling audio document of ‘the man in the van with a bass in his hands’ trailblazing 1995 solo tour, recorded on May 6th at the legendary Metro club in Chicago, featuring an all-star backing band.
Ok, even though it was 1995, vinyl was still being actively made, so there is no reason that this same-year show, recorded at the Metro in Chicago, couldn't have been released right after the tour had ended that year. At least that way, even as CDs were running rampant within the recording industry also, we could have at least been enjoying this live performance for two decades now!
Anyway, and for those of you who are not in the know, Mike Watt is the influential punk rock bassist/musician whose bands MINUTEMEN and fIREHOSE helped define the sound and direction of rock. In February 1995, Columbia Records released ball-hog or tugboat?, the first solo release by Watt. Also known as ‘The Wrestling Album,’ ball-hog or tugboat? featured the punk pioneer’s collaborations with artistic peers and descendants, such as Henry Rollins, Flea, Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Adam Horovitz, Mike Diamond, Frank Black, Dave Pirner, Evan Dando, Nels Cline, Pat Smear, Dave Grohl and Eddie Vedder, among many other friends, ‘getting into the ring’ with Watt.
In March 1995, Columbia Records announced that Watt would be hitting the road for the first time as a solo artist. Members of opening bands Hovercraft and Foo Fighters – Vedder, Grohl, Smear and drummer William Goldsmith – subsequently joined headliner Watt on-stage as eager participants of the jaw-dropping back-up band heard on the “ring spiel” tour ’95 album.
The first track, a Daniel Johnson cover, 'Walking The Cow' introduces us to Watt's low, gruff singing tone instantly, and from then on it you kinda get a feel for what you're in for. Next up is 'Big Train' (a Chip & Tony Kinman cover), the faster-paced, and punk-assured 'Formal Introduction', the speeding train, and Vedder-backed 'Against the 70's', and then both the slow pacing of 'Drove Up from Pedro' and the blistering Vedder-led composition, 'Habit'.
The guitar fest 'Makin' the Freeway' is up next and is backed by the thoughtful guitar work and lyrics of 'Chinese Firedrill'. The pace is stepped up once again on 'Piss-Bottle Man', the out of control, yet paced guitar work of 'Forever ... One Reporter's Opinion', and then both the Williams-inspired drum fest behind my personal fav on the album, the funky pop bounce of 'E-ticket Ride', and then the rant of 'Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing'.
Next up is 'Coincidence is Either Hit or Miss', a track that once again, albeit for longer, allows Williams to conduct the track's flow from his drum kit, and that's followed by a Blue Öyster Cult cover, 'The Red and the Black' from Vedder and company. The album then comes to a close with just Watt's bass and Goldsmith's drums for the methodical, beat poetry music styling of his take on 'Secret Garden' (a Madonna cover, believe it or not), and then the jangly guitar work of 'Powerful Hankerin'.
It was Watt's first solo tour and if he might not be the world's greatest vocalist, his singing is honest and fits this collection of tunes from the Minutemen, fIREHOSE, and his then-brief solo career with a few covers thrown in. Occasionally the guitarists are given room to shine but mostly it's up to Watt's always-inventive bass playing to make each track resonate. Which he does, each and every time, track after track.
Mike Watt @ Twitter!
Title - 'Lovesick' (EP)
Artist - Jordan Hurwitz
For those not in the know, at least for right now, Jordan Hurwitz is a singer/songwriter. At age 16, she came out with her first album on iTunes called Infinity. At the age of 17, she released her second album on iTunes called The New Me. At the age of 18, she released her third album called Here I'll Stand, produced by Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, et al) at his very own Tarpan Studios.
Now aged 19, and Jordan is preparing to release a new 6-track album, again with Narada. Entitled Lovesick, it will be released via Tarpen Studios on December 9th, 2016.
Each song here in this set of six focuses on emotions and experiences that Hurwitz has herself enduring this past year. Never one to shy away from how real life can twist and turn your emotions like their on one crazy rollercoaster of a ride, her level of lyrical depth is both commendable and exciting.
Whether it be a story of heartbreak within 'Obilterate My Heart' (a duet with Tarpan artist Cornell "C.C." Carter), or the stunning title track, 'Lovesick', each song begins with a statement, flirts with optimism, and breaks through with boundless resolution.
In truth, no matter if it's the tongue in cheek pop song 'I Love Your Abs', the poignant ballad 'Power', the stoic Blues-feel of 'Riverbank' or even 'Hurricane', this new album is as good as anything Narada has been involved with, in my opinion. I mean, just 'Lovesick' alone, with its Latin beats, engaging hipsway rhythm might just be as close to a genuine Top 10 radio hit as Hurwitz has ever been - and deservedly so, trust me.
Jordan @ Twitter!
Title - 'Heart - Live at The Royal Albert Hall'
Artist - Heart
In June 2016 Heart made their first ever live appearance at London's famous Royal Albert Hall. To make the sold-out night even more special the band were accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who added further depth and an epic scale to Heart's songs.
Well, let me begin by fully admitting that I have loved Heart ever since, well, hang on, I'm not that old, so since their mid-80's resurgence, I guess. I then floated back into their deep, oh so deep musical past and fell in love all over again - with voices that just don't seem to have changed at all over the years.
For Heart's first ever live appearance at London's famous Royal Albert Hall in 2016 (released on multiple formats Dec. 2nd, 2016 via Eagle Rock), and for the first time ever also, backed by the spectacular Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this sold-out night must have gone down in the band's history as one of their go-to memories for great things they accomplished as a musical unit.
With the RPO adding a depth, a splendid resonance, and an epic scale to Heart's songs, listening from the very off you can see how polished the two units are: Heart strong and steadfast, the RPO on note and on fire behind them at every musical turn. The set includes all the hits, all the fan favorites, of course, all the radio play must-hear's, along with some new and reinterpreted tracks from their most recent, and 16th studio album, Beautiful Broken.
The chemistry between band and orchestra is simply magical watching them come together. I mean, from the opening song, which this CD just roars into, "Magic Man", the power behind Ann Wilson's vocals is out of control still. That and the fact that the vibrancy, the crisp urgency, the full-ahead tempo is obvious from the start. "Thank you very much and welcome," announces Ann. "We're Heart and we're very honored to be here tonight. I'd like to now introduce you to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra," she adds, before they lead her into a mystical "Heaven".
"We're going to be playing songs from all parts of out long career," Ann tells the audience, "and we're going to start at the beginning," she adds, as the band roll into the beautiful "Dreamboat Annie". A simply unbelievably powerful "What About Love" is the first time we really get to hear the stonking string power of the RPO, as it, quite literally, lifts the song, and Ann's vocals clear up and nearly out of the Royal Albert Hall. Applauded like their hands would drop off, the audience knew it was something special to behold also.
The acoustic guitar-led rocker "Jump" is next (no, not the Van Halen one, settle down!), and that's backed by the orchestral delights of the playful "Sweet Darlin" from their fifth studio album, Bébé le Strange in 1980. After thanking the audience, the tone is brought down for the new piano ballad "Two", which is followed by my favorite Heart duo back-to-back: "These Dreams" and the Nancy-sung "Alone". Now, and in full disclosure, the former was lacking the thrust it normally would hold, and the latter sounded as if it was being sung/performed at half speed!
"Thank you", Ann says. "That's the Angel singing there," she adds, with a nod to her sisters vocals, as they then turn the tempo back up on the thunderous title track from their new album, "Beautiful Broken". "Mashallah!" is up next from their Fanatic album of 2012, and the always-brilliant-to-hear, acoustic guitar-fed "Silver Wheels" backs it just perfectly. That leads into a rousing "Crazy On You" before Ann says goodnight, on behalf of her and the band. Thanking the audience for joining them on this special night, the gently strummed "Sand" is next brought forth.
The hauntingly stunning "No Quarter" is next, and after the deserved applause has died down, the evening is brought to a close with a mesmerizingly brilliant "Barracuda" and then, after Ann once again thanks the crowd, finally, the blood pumpin' oldie "Kick It Out".
Heart - Ann Wilson (Vocals); Nancy Wilson (Guitar & Vocals)
Benjamin Smith (Drums); Daniel Rothchild (Bass); Craig Bartock (Guitar); Christopher Joyner (Keyboards) - just couldn't have sounded, or played any better here, and with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nick Davies, he held them tight, orchestrated (!) and align to everything that the rockers threw at them.
1. Magic Man 2. Heaven 3. Dreamboat Annie 4. What About Love 5. I Jump 6. Sweet Darlin' 7. Two 8. These Dreams 9. Alone 10. Beautiful Broken 11. Mashallah! 12. Silver Wheels / Crazy On You 13. Sand 14. No Quarter 15. Barracuda 16. Kick It Out
Title - 'The Official Bootleg: Archive-Vol. 1' (6CD)
Artist - John Wetton
The Official Bootleg: Archive-Vol 1 is an astounding six CD live archive release from the rock icon, John Wetton. Showcasing Asia and King Crimson lead vocalist Wetton at his musical and lyrical finest, he covers over 50 tracks, across six incredible live CDs, and across the world also. Inclusive of some of his most favored, critically beloved tracks down through the years, this new collection (and only, seemingly the first volume at that) is both expansive and comprehensive.
Indeed, this Official Bootleg Archive collects together three of Wetton's previously released Official Bootlegs - which have been out of print for nearly 10 years! The audio has been given a 2016 remastering with the new artwork having been given the full approval by Wetton himself.
All done with his highly distinctive voice at the helm, this double album of live material collects together a pair of of Wetton's acoustic solo concerts for radio broadcasts from back in the day. The 2001 XM radio broadcast was an official website only title over 10 years ago and has never had a commercial release. The 1998 Swedish radio broadcast (previously unreleased) was thought lost in a fire, until a duplicate of the master tapes was found; thanks to a long and tireless search by Wetton's fans!
As a singer, bassist and songwriter, Wetton initially rose to fame as the lead singer of King Crimson and thereafter Wetton formed UK with Eddie Jobson and later he was the lead singer for the supergroup Asia, his biggest commercial success. On The Official Bootleg, Wetton takes his love for his work, his own orchestrations, and brings them to life; one sumptuous live flashback chord at a time.
The first two CDs represent Live In Argentina 1996 (October 19th) at the Broadway Theatre, Buenos Aires. The first CD brings us 10 tracks, the second 7 tracks and it's a musical feast for all ASIA lovers, trust me. In truth though, all the CDs are just that, in their own ways, at their own levels.
1. In the Dead of Night
2. Sole Survivor
3. Only Time Will Tell
4. Voice of America
5. Book of Saturday
6. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
7. Thirty Years
8. Hold Me Now
10. Rendezvous 6:02
1. Thomas Lang's Drum Solo
2. Caught in the Crossfire
3. Easy Money
4. Battle Lines
5. Heat of the Moment
7. Don't Cry
[John Wetton - Lead Vocals, Bass and Acoustic Guitars; Thomas Lang - Drums; Billy Liesegang - Guitar; Martin Orford - Keyboards and Vocals].
Next up is Live in Osaka 1997 (October 2nd) at Club Quattoro, Osaka, Japan, and boy, this is my personal favorite of the triple live set. Chock full of as many ASIA tracks as one can cram into a live show, Wetton is on his finest vocal form here also, in my humble opinion.
Disc: 3 -
2. The Last Thing on My Mind
3. Sole Survivor
4. I Can't Lie Anymore
6. John Young's Solo
9. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
10. The Night Watch
11. Hold Me Now
12. Only Time Will Tell
Disc: 4 -
1. Rendezvous 6:02
2. Thomas Lang's Drum Solo
3. Easy Money
4. In the Dead of the Night
5. After All
6. Heat of the Moment
8. Don't Cry
[John Wetton - Lead Vocals, Bass and Acoustic Guitars; Thomas Lang - Drums; Billy Liesegang - Guitar; John Young - Keyboards and Vocals].
The third live show is Live at the Sun Plaza Tokyo 1999 (August 5th) at the Sun Plaza, Tokyo, Japan and is just the most perfect wrap to this trio of live Wetton shows. A bit less ASIA and a bit more solo, Prog work, this Sun Plaza show is yet another stunning showcase of what Wetton does live.
Disc: 5 -
1. The Circle of St. Giles
2. The Last Thing on My Mind
3. Sole Survivor
4. Battle Lines
5. Book of Saturday
6. Martin Orford's Solo
8. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
9. Hold Me Now
10. The Night Watch
11. Only Time Will Tell
12. In the Dead of the Night
Disc: 6 -
1. Easy Money
2. After All
3. Rendezvous 6:02
4. Time Again
6. Heat of the Moment
7. Don't Cry
[John Wetton - Lead Vocals, Bass and Acoustic Guitars; Steve Christey - Drums and Percussion; Dave Kilminster - Guitar and Vocals; Martin Orford - Keyboards and Vocals].
Admittedly, and as you can see with your own eyes, indeed once you make this purchase, with your own ears, there is a lot of repetitiveness here track wise. ASIA songs are aplenty, and they don't differ from one another that much show to show, so you have to be accepting of that going in.
Also, we seem to be rather inundated with live John Wetton gigs on CD recently. Having put out a live album recorded back in 2013, the decidedly varying degrees of success entity, New York Minute (albeit recorded with The Les Paul Trio at the infamous Iridium in New York), his Live Via Satellite 2CD brought forth 1998 and 2002 live recordings also.
Regardless, Wetton still harbor those legendary vocals that we all know and love and so hearing these tracks, one after another is nothing more than a real pleasure. Buy this amazing 6CD box-set collection today and immerse yourself into the wondrous musical world of John Wetton - and all he can do for your current state of mind.
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Memories In Rock, Live In Germany' [3LP]
Artist - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
"Toto. I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" opens up, as always, a Rainbow gig, and as the Oz music winds its mysterious notes around the applauding crowd, Side A of the first vinyl of three brings us "Medley: Over The Rainbow" which leads straight into a Ritchie Blackmore short guitar moment, before bleeding into "Highway Star". The rampant "Spotlight Kid" (complete with wicked Jens Johanssen keyboard highlight) is next, and, as vocalist Ronnie Romero incites the crowd to get loud, is backed by a feature-length version of "Mistreated".
Side B opens with Romero asking the crowd to sing with him, and wave their hands in the air, and then we're into the brilliant flashback track "16th Century Greensleeves". Next up is my all-time favorite Rainbow track, "Since You Been Gone", which here opens a little different to the rock version I've ever known. But that changes as soon as we get to the chorus, but Romero is now Graham Bonnet and so it's a pale imitation let down for me, sorry. The mega "Man On The Silver Mountain" is up next and during the lengthy track, Romero even has time to acknowledge the original lead singer, the one, the only Ronnie James Dio.
The reason we have this in our hands to review is that in June of 2016, legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore made many long held dreams come true for his fans as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow played three concerts in Europe; two in Germany and one in England. The two German shows at Loreley and Bietigheim were caught on camera to produce Memories In Rock – Live In Germany, which will be released via Eagle Rock Entertainment on Blu-ray+2CD (as well as on DVD+2CD). A Deluxe version (DVD, Blu-ray & 2CD in a 48 page hardback photobook), along with a 3LP version (180gm vinyl, and of which we are reviewing for you here today), will be available as an import on December 2nd, 2016.
Side A of the second vinyl brings forth the infamous ballad "Catch The Rainbow" before the rarely heard live instrumental "Difficult To Cure (Beethoven's Ninth)" is next upon us. Yet another of my later-era Rainbow cuts, the guitar work from Blackmore is out of this world spectacular and is also inclusive of a drum solo from David Keith that's instantly backed by solo turns from each of the band members.
Side B opens with Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers" and Romero reveals that the next song is his favorite, "Stargazer". Yet another fantastic, pounding song in the Rainbow arsenal, by now I'm getting tired of hearing Romero's in-between songs quips! Sure he sings well enough, definitely in the RJD mode, for sure, but not speaking English as well as he thinks he does, it just gets annoying after a while, sorry!
Anyway, Side A of the third vinyl begins in fighting form with "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll", and yet again Romero asking for the fans to raise their hands in the air to the music. Another deep cut favorite of mine, it's definitely one of the better tracks here, although you can hear Romero us running out of vocal gas. FYI: You will know this for yourself every time a lead singer offers the front row the chance to sing the boisterous chorus lines! Up next is "Child In Time / Woman From Tokyo" and is a winding, diving, musical work of art.
Side B from the third vinyl brings us the guitar fest "Black Night" and then ends perfectly with the Deep Purple monster, "Smoke On The Water". Sure we've heard this song so many times, and sung by so many different lead singers, but with his RJD vocal edge, and Blackmore on fire, Romero chooses the last song on this incredible 3LP vinyl set to showcase his best set of vocals, in my humble opinion.
So, come the end of this comprehensive Rainbow anthology of a musical ride, it has to be said that there's too much Deep Purple for my liking and I would have rather preferred to have some "Street Of Dreams" or the always-brilliant-to-hear "I Surrender". perhaps? And so, Romero might well not be Bonnet or RJD, but he takes control of the vocals here very aptly - if not memorably.
The band line-up for this incredible show featured Ritchie Blackmore (Guitar); Ronnie Romero (Vocals); David Keith (Drums); Bob Nouveau (Bass); Jens Johanssen (Keyboards); Candice Night (Backing Vocals); and Lady Lynn (Backing Vocals) ... although to say I ever really heard the lovely ladies over the guitars and drums would be a fib, sorry!
Title - Curved Air - 'Curved Space & Infinity'
Artist - Curved Air
A slight recap for those wishing to know more, is that the brilliant, uber talented Curved Air are a pioneering British progressive rock group formed in 1970 by musicians from mixed artistic backgrounds, including classical, folk, and electronic sound.
The resulting sound of the band was a mixture of progressive rock, folk rock, and fusion with classical elements. However, did you know that along with High Tide and East of Eden, Curved Air were one of the first rock bands after It's a Beautiful Day and The United States of America to feature a violin.
Indeed, Curved Air released eight studio albums (the first three of which broke the UK Top 20) and had a hit single with 'Back Street Luv' (1971) which reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart.
Over the following years the band broke up several times, they were even sued by their British label Chrysalis (1974), and with jail time hovering over them due to a HUGE tax bill owed, they just managed to pay that off also.
Curved Air, as a group were largely inactive for the next three decades but in 2008 founding members Sonja Kristina, Florian Pilkington-Miksa, Daryl Way and (briefly) Francis Monkman decided to get back together after a hiatus of 32 years. Over the next few years, the band went through a few personnel changes with signer Kristina and original drummer Pilkington-Miksa being the only original members left.
This revitalized the band, and in 2012 they released a brand new live album, Live Atmosphere. The new musicians that stepped in - guitarist Kit Morgan, bassist Chris Harris, keyboard player Robert Morton, and violinist Paul Sax - each now managed to put their very own signature styles on the CA music experience and for that they enhanced the band no end.
Whereas Live Atmosphere included potent new versions of many of the band's classic early 1970's repertoire, in 2016 they followed that up with The Curved Air Rarities Series Vol 1: Tapestry of Propositions. An hour long version of Propositions recorded live at fourteen different locations during 2013/2014, it is now itself followed up by Curved Space / Infinity, the second volume of the Cured Air Rarities Series. Indeed, as you can well imagine, both these albums, packaged together are a must-have for fans of the band and instrumental improvisational music.
Disc: 1 -
1. Towards Tomorrow
2. Sea of Tranquillity
3. Baghdad Cafe / Return to Calvary / Towards Infinity
4. Sol y Sombra
5. Harp Riff
6. Free Tibet
7. Blue Yonder Blues
8. Playing Away
Disc: 2 -
6. Celestial Dance
Released this past November 11th, 2016 via Cherry Red Records (UK), Curved Space & Infinity - The Curved Air Rarities Series, Volume 2 (to give it it's correct title) is yet another symphony of perfection from Curved Air. I mean, in truth, knowing this band, their music over the years, how could it possibly be anything other than greatness personified?
That said, we should mention that this instrumental double CD set is the only Curved Air release not to feature lead singer Sonja Kristina, but has been released with her full support and blessing. Indeed, the line-up on Curved Space, which was released before as Francis Monkman’s “Jam” but now features two previously unreleased bonus tracks, includes: Francis Monkman (guitar); Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums); and Rob Martin (bass).
The line-up on Infinity, which are all-new 2016 studio recordings includes: Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums); Kirby Gregory (guitar); and Robert Norton (keys).
Chock full of compositions that were created entirely in the moment and were genuinely inspired by what was around the artists at the time, with regard the name Infinity, it encapsulates the spirit of freedom with which the three artists approached the making of the album and the limitless possibilities of creating music in the moment. So, come one now, doesn't that just want to me you go run and buy this incredible 2CD work of musical art?
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Too Late To Hate'
Artist - Lucifer's Friend
Lucifer's Friend, for my money, were one of the first true metal bands of the 70's. Their debut self-titled album is pure metal. Not thrash, not hate, not BS attitude, and not stupidly simple three-chord progressions. The album contained MUSIC, real music, in the style of the 1970s that was (and still is) called "heavy metal".
Which is why I was very excited to learn that Lucifer's Friend had reformed in 2015, some 20+ years after they last played together! With that aforementioned self-titled debut having made them famous among connoisseurs of 70's metal / hard rock, they most definitely pioneered the prog rock genre.
Although, one interesting thing to remember is the band produced 11 albums, and every single one of them was done in a different style! Which means that their first album was their only heavy metal album, even though a few tracks on the others albums might qualify as "metal".
After original lead singer John Lawton left them for a gig with Uriah Heep in 1976, the band continued releasing albums, but finally broke up in 1982. Briefly reforming in 1994 for their ninth album (Sumo Grip), by fan request (quite literally), German hard rock band Lucifer's Friend came back together in 2015 - and recorded it!
And so Live @ Sweden Rock 2015 was born, and was quickly followed by a brand new Best Of compilation, entitled Awakening. Now here in 2016, and via their very own Lucifer's Records, once again, this past November 18th Lucifer's Friend released their first true new studio album since 1981, Too Late To Hate. With a line-up of John Lawton (Vocals); Peter Hesslein (Guitar); Dieter Horns (Bass); Stephan Eggert (Drums); and Jogi Wichmann (Keyboards), these guys couldn't have made a better album at this time. It's just that good.
1 Demolition Man
2 Jokers & Fools
3 When Children Cry
4 Straight For The Heart
5 Tell Me Why
6 Don’t Talk To Strangers
7 I Will Be There
8 This Time
10 Sea Of Promises
11 Brothers Without A Name
12 When You’re Gone (Live)
Inclusive of a bonus live version of "When You're Gone" brand new songs such as "Demolition Man," "I Will Be There," "Sea of Promises," "Tears" and, amongst others, the brilliant "Don't Talk To Strangers" make this a 12-track work of musical art.
Title - 'Takeaway'
Artist - Richard Palmer-James
For those not in the know, much like me (and yet I love this band, weirdly enough), Richard Palmer-James is an English musician, best known for having written lyrics for several songs by the progressive rock group King Crimson in the early 1970s.
In fact, Palmer-James got his start in the music business playing in various Bournemouth bands: The Corvettes, The Palmer-James Group (formed with Alec James), Tetrad, and Ginger Man, all of which included John Wetton on bass and vocals. Palmer-James was a founding member of Supertramp, playing guitar and singing vocals, as well as writing the lyrics for their self-titled debut album under the name Richard Palmer. He also co-wrote the lyrics of "Goldrush", a song written during his days in the band but not recorded until their 2002 album Slow Motion.
Palmer wrote lyrics for three of King Crimson's albums: Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. He did not participate in any of King Crimson's recordings, but worked with John Wetton and David Cross after Robert Fripp disbanded the group in 1974.
And now Palmer-Richards brings us Takeaway, amazingly his very first solo album. Something of a surprise release, it's clear from listening to the man himself that he felt that enough was enough, and that having written for hordes of other musicians, and sat back and witnessed their success at his own hands, that the spotlight had to be readjusted: "Having spent the last few decades writing words for other people to sing, and thus being obliged to comply with the ambitions and sensibilities of others, I wanted to present a collection of songs that are uncompromisingly my own."
"I've been trying them out in club and pub appearances as a singer/songwriter, and they seem to work, but I'm very curious to see what sort of reaction this album production, which was realized with the indispensable help of a few talented colleagues from the Munich music scene, might elicit."
"The recordings differ stylistically from most of the stuff I worked on as a hired hand - probably because I enjoy playing acoustic instruments and writing pieces which involve storytelling.”
The first cut here is the tambourine-inspired "Aerodrome" and that's backed by both the upbeat, foot tapper' "A Very Bad Girl" and then the laid back approach to love, "Baker's Dozen". Containing one of the best pieces of advice I think I have ever heard, "Don't look back at bridges burned. Let the rivers flow", that's followed by the Tom Pettyesque "Chances Passing", the upbeat Deliverance guitar twanging of "Dance for Me", the slow poke "Halfremembered Summer", and then the gentle pop bounce of "Honest Jim".
The storytelling of "Highway Code" is a delight, and makes you think that there are some personal Palmer-James growing up memories embedded here along the way. Next is "Doing Time" which is followed by the easy-flow of the piano-driven"Guano Blues" and the beautiful "Saving You from Drowning". The album then comes to a close with both the most upbeat track on the album "So We Meet Again", and then rounds out with the title track ballad, "Takeaway".
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'No Spare Planet'
Artist - Esquire III
In case you were wondering, Esquire is a London based rock band formed by Nikki Squire, the ex-wife of Chris Squire from Yes, and debuted on the Geffen label. The band then followed up with a second album in 1997 called Coming Home and this brand new album, No Spare Planet finally completes the Esquire trilogy.
The band (and, let's be honest, that's a rather brilliant name for a band thereafter from the ex Squire!) has championed a unique and sophisticated sound and they straddled traditional music boundaries and essentially unleashed an innovative style of progressive rock that was varied, accessible and modern.
An Esquire album is an event, a rare occasion when fans receive new music and this, Esquire III comes two decades after the last album and brings the band right up to date.
Having now listened to both the first two albums, you can tell from the lyrics that Squire was definitely soul-searching, as she is here again on the end-of-trilogy album No Spare Planet. From what I can garner through the years, she wanted to write and sing her own songs, but didn't, at the time, know how that could happen. She needed other players to work with, but with all the people she knew already more than established, that meant their work schedules were booked.
Listening to this third album, it seems Squire is more happier in her own skin, not replying on others that might have been able to help her, should their schedules open up. The first track is the transcendent "Ministry of Life" and that's backed by the more pop-like "She Said", the Annie Lennoxesque "Human Rhythm", the smooth vibe of "Tonight" and the gentle Peter Gabrielesque "Friends & Enemies".
In truth, listening to this new album there is still something magical and mysterious about Esquire. However, given that this third studio album is a collection of the last songs that Squire wrote with her long term collaborator, co-writer, bass player and best friend Nigel McLaren (who sadly passed away on Sunday 7th June 2015), the spiritual undercurrent might just be what is propelling it also.
The soaring "It's Over" is next, and that's backed by the eclectic "Where Is the Love", before the album wraps up with the beautiful "Stay Low", and then finally the stunning, and best track on the album, "Heaven Blessed".
In conclusion, No Spare Planet is just as good as you had hoped it would be. Combining a unique and sophisticated sound, straddling traditional music boundaries and essentially unleashing an innovative style of modern day prog rock, Esquire are as good today as your memory deems to remind you back when they released their self-titled album in 1987.
Title - 'Legacy Live' [2CD]
Artist - The Outlaws
For those not in the know, The Outlaws are a Southern rock/country rock band best known for their 1975 hit "There Goes Another Love Song", as well as the song "Green Grass and High Tides", from the same album, plus their 1980 cover of the Stan Jones classic "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky".
For more than 40 years, the southern rock band has brought out solid, reliable music, celebrated triumphs, endured tragedies and survived legal nightmares to remain one of the most beloved bands within their genre. And now this band of six brothers come together to bring us Legacy Live, a brand-new live 2CD that was released this past November 11th, 2016 on Steamhammer/SPV.
Along with founding members Paul and Yoho, the band features now several of Southern Rock's most respected veterans. Lead guitarist and longtime Outlaw Chris Anderson is well known for his collaborations with artists that include Dickey Betts, Lucinda Williams, Hank Williams Jr., and Skynyrd. Co lead guitarist Steve Grisham who joined the band in mid 2013 following the medical leave of guitarist Billy Crain is a former member of the Soldiers of Fortune era Outlaws, a noted songwriter whose tracks include The Henry Paul Band's Top 40 hit Keepin Our Love Alive, and a co founder of the Southern Rock all stars, Brothers of the Southland.
Keyboardist/vocalist Dave Robbins is a co founding member of Blackhawk and has written hit songs for artists that include Restless Heart, Kenny Rogers and Eric Clapton. Bassist/vocalist Randy Threet has performed with Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood and Blackhawk, and is familiar to TV audiences from USA Network's Nashville Star.
Disc: 1 -
1. There Goes Another Love Song
2. Hurry Sundown
3. Hidin Out In Tennessee
4. Freeborn Ma
5. Born To Be Bad
6. Song In The Breeze
7. Girl From Ohio
10. Grey Ghost
Disc: 2 -
1. South Carolina
2. So Long
4. Cold Harbor
5. Trail Of Tears
6. It's About Pride
8. Knoxville Girl
9. Green Grass & High Tides Forever
10. Ghost Riders
In my humble opinion, The Outlaws had some of the best harmonies ever displayed by a rock and roll band. And their guitar playing was second to none. Hughie Thomasson and Billy Jones could easily compete with the Allmans, Skynyrd and any other Guitar tandem. The song "Green Grass and High Tides" is one of the greatest songs ever, and both "Hurry Sundown" and "Ghost Riders" come a close second.
Thus, this double album of all their hits live is as good as it gets within the genre with these folk, of that have no doubt. The Outlaws brought forth their "Guitar Army" into the limelight with many famous cuts featuring some of the most amazingly blistering fast lead guitar solos ever recorded. Sure they may not be as "heated" a-fret nowadays, but the song remains the same, if y'all know what I mean.
Title - 'Standing Right Here: The Anthology'
Artist - Melba Moore
As we are most assurdly all aware at this juncture of the music scene, Melba Moore (born Beatrice Melba Hill) is an American singer, actress and entertainer. Moore, the daughter of saxophonist Teddy Hill and R&B singer Bonnie Davis, was always someone I had a lot of time for when it came to her brand of music. Topping that list was always me gal, Donna Summer, but Melba came in just behind her, that's for sure.
In 1975 Moore signed with Buddah Records and released the critically successful R&B album, Peach Melba, which included the minor hit, "I Am His Lady". The following year she scored her first significant hit with the Van McCoy-penned "This Is It", which reached the Billboard Hot 100, the top-20 position on the R&B chart, and top-10 in the UK, becoming her biggest success in that country. 'This is It' also became the number 1 disco track in the UK for that year.
In 1976 she scored her third Grammy nomination with the R&B ballad "Lean on Me", which had been recorded originally by Vivian Reed and later by Moore's idol Aretha Franklin who recorded the song as a B-side to her 1971 hit "Spanish Harlem". The song is most notable for Moore's extended long note at the end. In 1983 she re-recorded the song as a tribute to McCoy, who had died four years earlier.
Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Moore struggled to match the success of "This Is It" with minor R&B/dance hits, gaining another hit with 1979's "You Stepped Into My Life", which was released on Epic Records and hit the top 20 on the R&B charts.
This brand new 2CD release from SoulMusic Records aka Cherry Red Records (UK) 'Standing Right Here: The Anthology, The Buddah & Epic Years encompasses rather perfectly both those noted record label eras, barely leaving anything out. Indeed, the first of the two discs draws from Melba’s four Buddah albums, including her work with producers Van McCoy and Eugene McDaniels.
Disc 1: Lean On Me, The Buddah Years (1975-1977) -
1. I Am His Lady
2. If I Lose
3. Must Be Dues
4. Natural Part of Everything
5. This Is It (US 12"¯ Single)
6. Stay Awhile
7. Lean on Me
8. One Less Morning
9. Good Love Makes Everything Alright (US 12"¯ Single)
10. The Way You Make Me Feel
11. So Many Mountains
12. The Long and Winding Road
13. Ain't No Love Lost
14. The Greatest Feeling
15. My Sensitive, Passionate Man
16. Standing Right Here
17. Living Free
18. I Don't Know No One Else to Turn to
19. Just Another Link
The second disc covers the Epic Records years and as it turns out, is much more of a collectors item. Chock full of US 12" Single Mixes and UK Special Disco Remixes and such, the disc is a pure joy to behold musically. Indeed, this second CD focuses on tracks from her three Epic albums, produced by the Philly team of McFadden & Whitehead and Pete Bellotte amongst others.
Disc 2: You Stepped Into My Life, The Epic Years (1978-1980) -
1. You Stepped Into My Life
2. There's No Other Like You
3. Pick Me Up, I'll Dance (US 12" Mix)
4. Where Did You Ever Go
5. Miss Thing (US 12Ā" Single)
6. Need Love
7. Night People (US 12" Single)
8. Hot and Tasty
9. Burn (UK Special Disco Remix)
10. Everything's So Good About You (US 12"¯ Single)
11. Next to You
12. Rest Inside My Love
13. Something on Your Mind
14. You Stepped Into My Life (US Special Disco Version)
This stellar quality CD package – which includes superb mastering by Nick Robbins and notes with renowned UK writer Charles Waring - also features extensive quotes from Melba herself specifically for this anthology.
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Thrust ' / 'Man-Child' / 'Secrets'
Artist - Herbie Hancock
Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock, more better known as simply Herbie Hancock is a highly regarded American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer and actor. Starting his career with Donald Byrd, he shortly thereafter joined the Miles Davis Quintet where Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound.
He was also one of the first jazz musicians to embrace synthesizers and funk music. Hancock's music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs "cross over" and achieved success among pop audiences.
To date, Hancock's best-known compositions include "Cantaloupe Island", "Watermelon Man" (later performed by dozens of musicians, including bandleader Mongo Santamarķa), "Maiden Voyage", "Chameleon", and the singles "I Thought It Was You" and pop edgy "Rockit". His 2007 tribute album River: The Joni Letters won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album ever to win the award, after Getz/Gilberto in 1965.
So, as you can tell, Herbie Hancock has always been at the cutting edge of popular music and so having already released in a previous 2CD set this year both his albums Sunlight (1977) and Feets Don’t Fail Me Now (1979), Robinsongs has once again rounded up more of his best into yet another 2CD package - but this time they've gone one better and made it a threesome!
Included in this brand new package are three of Herbie Hancock’s greatest Jazz Funk albums to date: Thrust (1974), Manchild (1975) and Secrets (1976). Released via Cherry Red Records (UK) this past November 18th, 2016, combining these three albums in one complete package, has again allowed all fans of both jazz and Hancock himself to invest their time in these two CDs worth of some of his best work quite like never before.
But, and here's the thing for me, they have strangely decided to spread Man-Child out over both the discs! So you get the first two thirds of the album on CD1, the latter third beginning CD2 before Secrets kicks in. It's all very weird to me and, in truth, I have never seen anything like this happen before. Although I'm sure it has, but not on my watch!
Anyway, and regardless, this digitally remastered 2CD set begins with Thrust. Released in 1974 it was the follow up to the platinum selling album Headhunters and reached #13 on the Billboard album chart; exactly the same chart position as Headhunters. The album featured only four tracks, but this brand new Robinsongs' version gives you the single edits of the four tracks as bonus tracks.
This jazz-funk creation was Hancock's thirteenth album overall and as much as it may well only have four tracks, had a running time of over 40 minutes regardless. It begins with the near-11 minute long "Palm Grease" (my favorite of the quartet), runs into "Actual Proof", dives in and through "Butterfly", before surfacing with "Spank-a-Lee". Interestingly enough, "Actual Proof" was originally written for the film The Spook Who Sat By the Door.
Manchild (1975) is probably Herbie's funkiest album and features the single "Hang Up Your Hang Ups" which featured great guitar licks by Wah Wah Watson. The album also featured Louis Johnson (Brothers Johnson), Stevie Wonder and Harvey Mason to name but a few. Again the album fared really well making #21 on the Top 200 albums chart. This reissue includes the 7" versions of "Hang Up Your Hang Ups" and "Sun Touch" as bonus tracks.
Herbie's seventeenth studio album, it most definitely represents his further departure from the "spacey, higher atmosphere jazz," as he referred to it, of his earlier career. Indeed, Hancock uses more funk based rhythms around the hi-hat, and snare drum. The tracks are characterized by short, repeated riffs by both the rhythm section, horns accompaniment, and bass lines.
It also had less improvisation from the whole band and more concentrated grooves with brief solos from the horns and Hancock himself on synthesizer and Fender Rhodes piano on top of the repeated riffs. Interestingly enough, this album features the addition of electric guitar to his new sound, which he started only five years prior to this album with Fat Albert Rotunda.
Secrets (1976) kicks off with the jazz funk classic "Doin' It" which featured both Wah Wah Watson and Ray Parker Jr on guitar, it doesn't get funkier than that. And once again there are the single edits of "Doin' It" and "People Music" included as bonus tracks.
The album clearly followed from its predecessor Man-Child. As ever, Paul Jackson's basslines were critical, and the other regular member Bennie Maupin continued to provide most of the solos alongside Hancock. Man-Child had seen the addition of electric guitar to Hancock's sound, and Secrets saw the guitar's place in the arrangements rise to crucial importance throughout.
Although summery and mellow, the album was far from lounge music, with some extremely abstract and intense sections, particular in the latter half; it is also entirely instrumental beside the "Jus' keep on doin' it" chants of the opening track. Subsequent Hancock albums saw the addition of more vocoded lead vocals and disco influences.
This brand new Thrust / Man-Child / Secrets 2CD package includes liner notes from MOJO’s Lois Wilson, and aside from that weird-ass splitting of the Man-Child album over the two CDs, is as complete a serving of these three albums there has ever been (I'd dare to say).
Disc: 1 -
1. Palm Grease
2. Actual Proof
5. Palm Grease (7" Single Version)
6. Actual Proof (7" Single Version)
7. Butterfly (7" Single Version)
8. Spank-A-Lee (7" Single Version)
9. Hang Up Your Hang Ups (7" Single Version)
10. Sun Touch (7" Single Version)
12. Hang Up Your Hang Ups
13. Sun Touch
14. The Traitor
Disc: 2 -
2. Steppin' in It
4. Doin' It
5. People Music
6. Cantelope Island
8. Gentle Thoughts
9. Swamp Rat
10. Sansho Shima
11. Doin' It (7" Single Version)
12. People Music (7" Single Version)
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Orange Sunshine' - Music from the Motion Picture
Artist - Matt Costa
'Orange Sunshine' was one of the most anticipated films at the SXSW festival this year. The film is the never-before-told story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love - a spiritual group of surfers and hippies in California, which became the largest supplier of LSD during the 60s and 70s.
Indeed, furthermore, 'Orange Sunshine' is a true story, and now a documentary from Orange County about how a little art gallery and spiritual commune in Laguna Beach ran by friends became the biggest drug distribution network in the world!
The stunning, laid back soundtrack features music in the style of the era, composed by singer-songwriter Matt Costa. Costa, for those not in the know, is a singer-songwriter from Huntington Beach, California. He has released seven self-recorded EPs, and five full-length CDs, to date, the last of which was his EP Anchor & the Albatross in 2016.
Costa, of Portuguese descent, has crafted a decidedly perfect 70's musical accompaniment to the film. One minute we feel the spirit of the Doors, the next some early Rolling Stones, but when it comes to the score moments, well, set alone, they either jingle-jangle or methodically crawl their way through a winding, eclectic musical undercurrent here for the lush 'Orange Sunshine'.
1. Brotherhood Theme
2. Orange Take Over
3. Oran Jazz Syd
4. Born In My Mind
5. Call My Name
6. Mike and Carol
7. Feds Follow
8. Soul Full of Orange
9. Orange Guru
11. The Fuzz
13. Twelve Oranges
14. Sit With Timothy
15. Smug Smugglers
16. Melt Orange
17. A Separate Peace
A Doors moment can definitely be heard in tracks such as "Oran Jazz Syd", the Stones in "Soul Full Of Orange", even the Mamas & Papas in "Born In My Mind", and then you get something as acoustic guitar lush as "Mike And Carol" to weave it all together. Trippy hippy even comes to the fore on "Orange Guru", but one of my own personal favorites has to be the jazz fusion melodies on the simply brilliant "The Fuzz".
Title - 'Trolling for Dreams'
Artist - John McCutcheon
For those not in the know, John McCutcheon is an American folk music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has produced 38 albums since the 1970s. He is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer, and is also proficient on many other instruments including guitar, banjo, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, and jawharp.
McCutcheon's music has, since the 1990s, increasingly evolved into heartland rock-influenced ballads, while he still occasionally performs purer folk music, particularly when playing the dulcimer. Indeed, McCutcheon is one of those rare folk musician/song writers who can actually make a living from folk music.
His brand of peaceful, yet invigorating music that can be enjoyed as background music or for concentrated listening is always welcomed, which means when he releases this brand new album in early February, 2017, everyone in love with the genre will race to buy it.
Entitled Trolling for Dreams, is a tour-de-force of his writing abilities. Complete with an incredible 14 new songs, McCutcheon sings of love, loss, aging, the passing of his father, songwriting, and even has time to lay down a tribute to storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham ("She Is").
2. Y’all Means All
3. The Dance
4. Sharecropper’s Song
5. Between Good and Gone
6. The Reason I’m Here
7. She Is
8. Three Chords and the Truth
9. The Bible
10. New Man Now
11. Waltz ‘Round the Kitchen
12. This Is Not a Song
13. This Ain’t Me
Together with a band that backs him perfectly at every musical turn, Trolling for Dreams showcases a musician still writing, still playing, still singing at the highest of levels. We begin with the beautiful, storied tale of "Gone", which bleeds gently into the gentle "Y'all Means All", a lyrically tale about his youth, about family. Another favorite of mine is "Between Good and Gone", a story of traveling on the hard roads of life, whilst the slight mid-tempo beat to "The Reason I'm Here" is another stand out.
Indeed, these mentioned along with the others on this brand new album are some of the most thought provoking songs of his career, if I might stick my neck out and say. So if you love folk music, and you love McCutcheon, then you have no excuse not to have this fine album in your record collections come February 3rd, 2017!
'Trolling for Dreams' CD Purchase Link
John McCutcheon @ Twitter!
Title - 'Devil On An Indian'
Artist - The Raptor Trail
The Raptor Trail have been slowly plotting their course over the last 25 plus years. Founding members John Meyer and Matthew Mayes had been kicking around the idea of recording something together for decades. Finally in 2014, the planets aligned and the idea actually transcended into a studio recording project which later came to be called The Raptor Trail.
"The Raptor Trail" was actually the first song that Meyer and Mayes wrote together for the project, and it snowballed from there, with “Gravity x Ten” following, and then ten more songs over the course of the next year.
Their self titled album which was released in May 2015 received a warm reception from diehard Jupiter Coyote fans, as well as many publications from the Progressive rock side of the scale. Then in 2016 they released their sophomore album, New World, which found the band stretching it's musical wings with particular attention to vocal harmonies and acoustic based themes.
Now, and veritably hot on the heels of that critically-acclaimed second album, melodic prog trio The Raptor Trail have just released their brand new third album, Devil On An Indian.
The Raptor Trail comprises of: Gene H. Bass - Drums, Percussion; Matthew B. Mayes - Vocals, Guijo, Acoustic Guitars, Acoustic Banjo; and John M. Meyer - Lead, Slide, Fretless & Acoustic Guitars, G-Strings, Bass, Weird Noises, Background Vocals, and all come together quite like never before on this massively constructed concept album.
You see, Devil On An Indian deals with the internal spiritual warfare that stems from a young man coming to grips with his Native American Indian heritage after being raised in 21st century white Christian morality. A near life ending motorcycle accident in the desert continues a mystical, poetic, and spiritual journey of self awareness and understanding, concluding that the heart of man is inherently evil.
Set to 10 songs in three movements that seamlessly segue from one song to another, ending with the apocalyptic demise of the world (!), we ease in with the storytelling of "Ten Bears" before "How the West Was Won" and the guitar fest of "Quaker Pets" come forth.
The thought provoking, evocative slap hands-on-drums "Dream Catcher" is easily one of my own personal favorites here, and that's backed by the beautiful "Wolf Medicine", the soaring "Doorstep", and both the interestingly titled "Froth Squelch" and distant memories of "Without a Trace". This terrific album then wraps up with a powerful duo in both "The Vanishing Point" and then the full tilt ride of "Red Giant".
Title - 'Dårskapens Monotoni'
Artist - Kaipa Da Capo
Right then, and for those not in the know (and definitely count me in that group), in 2014, original KAIPA members Roine STOLT, Ingemar Bergman (drums) and Tomas ERIKSSON (Bass) re-grouped under the name KAIPA DA CAPO to play the old music from the first three albums as well as brand new music.
To complete the team they called Mikael STOLT (vocals, guitar), brother of Roine, and Max LORENTZ (keyboards). After a series of concerts in 2015 the group started the recording of a new album in June 2016, and the fruits from that recording session were released on September 30th, 2016 as Dårskapens Monotoni (Folly Monotony, in a literal translation, if that helps any).
The new album is comprised of seven song all performed in the traditional KAIPA sound with songs sung in Swedish. These 70's vintage progsters (as they like to be called) combine swirling symphonic soundscapes together with folk fusion moments, laying them all down on a bed of epic cinematic movements.
So, for everyone that knows of KAIPA, and have always been in love with that "classic KAIPA sound", you're most definitely in business here. For, and having now listened to some of their older stuff, I can say that this new album contains versions of their old musical selves along with new melodic twists that will please you greatly. Produced by Roine himself Dårskapens Monotoni, and released under his own label Foxtrot Records, the highly imaginative art work is from Rick Jacobi.
Kaipa Da Capo @ Facebook!
Kaipa Da Capo @ Twitter!
Title - 'BandZilla Rises!!!'
Artist - Richard Niles' BandZilla
For those not in the know, but soon will be after reading this review, acclaimed jazz composer/arranger Richard Niles used his background in jazz and pop to create BandZilla , a modern big band at the cutting edge of contemporary technology in 1987. Niles formed the band after performing on Grace Jones' Slave To The Rhythm and Swing Out Sister's Breakout albums.
Indeed, they soon became the featured house band on the British Channel 4 series “Don’t Miss Wax”, a vehicle for popular American comedienne Ruby Wax. The band performed and recorded with many contemporary stars including Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Swing Out Sister, Meat Loaf, Pee Wee Herman and Denice Williams.
Their only studio album (at the time) BandZilla - Blue Movies (1989) featured the cream of London’s young jazz and studio players including trumpeters Guy Barker and John Thirkell, R&B singer Clive Griffin and keyboard master Peter John Vetesse.
But now evolution has become them, and come the moment, come the band, for Richard Niles BandZilla have just released (November 18th, 2016) a brand new album, aptly entitled BandZilla Rises!!!. This 20+ piece jazz-fusion orchestra playing furious funk, sleazy soul, punk jazz and heartfelt ballads have got back together, for the most part, and brought their fans a wonderful 14 track jog back down memory lane of what they can do.
From the moment the spoken word intro to the title track "BandZilla Rises!!!" bleeds seamlessly into "Live As One", you know you're in for a funky jazz experience of a lifetime. Knowing that Niles, who isn't known as a musician, also gets to play guitar on the album just adds some fun spice to the mix, in my opinion. He's invested, and so must we be. Better known as a songwriter, these lyrics are some of his best, again in my humble opinion, and range from the comic-political (Randy Brecker singing “You Can’t Get There From Here”) to involved story songs such as “Tip For A Toreador” and the sultry, smoky basement jazz club sway of “The Alligator From West 15th.”
Produced by Niles and trumpet star John Thirkell (Uptown Funk) features jazz icon Randy Brecker, popstar Leo Sayer, Daisy Chute (All Angels), vocal virtuoso Kim Chandler, Brazilian singer Clarice Assad, Polish chanteuse Julia Zuzanna, soul man Lamont Dozier Jr. and some of the greatest players on earth, BandZilla Rises!!! is one of the most adventurous-sounding albums that I think I have ever heard - and yet everything works to a tee. Well played, Richard Niles. Well played, Sir.
Title - 'Left Of Center'
Artist - Bob Beland
For those not in the know, Bob Beland is a 64 year-old renowned LA singer/songwriter southpaw who is releasing his new album, his fourth now Left Of Center on his own independent label Wrong Way Works!
Having performed in bands such as Southpaw, Bates Motel, The Fury and more, and having written and recorded original music from 1973 to the present, and having chosen not to remain in the band (Bates Motel) when they were chosen to open for Sparks, he got his first solo record deal in 1980, and so continued his diverse musical career some four decades on.
We kick off with some drums (from the late David Beebe), and then atop a gentle undercurrent of African-influenced back beats (and lyrical answer backs), Beland brings forth "It's Alright With Me, Mr. Bob". An original analog recording from 1983, it's backed with the upbeat, and freeflowing pop bounce of "Off The Handle." The 70's hipsway guitar vibe of "The Lost Highway", for me one of the best tracks on this new album, ensure that you are by now, even just three songs in, highly invested in the album; interested to see where it goes. Possibly an inside joke to his 1993 album Amnesia Lane, regardless, the song is devilishly good.
The guitar flop-bounce of "Some Friends Of Mine" ("Loose change underneath the seat, is always a special kind of treat") quickly turns into a power track. Soaring in all directions, slides incorporated for good measure, even including a fake fade out, it's another highlight that showcases Beland's grounded lyrical sensibilities. That's followed by the hop-skip of "It'll Take Overtime", a track where, for perhaps the first time on the album, Beland's vocals are more naked than before.
The storytelling honky tonk of "Sloppy Joe" (a salute to Leiber & Stoller) is up next and features a backwater appeal to it that's hard to stop yourself from foot-tappin' to midway through, and that's followed by the slow-poke "Ain't Goin' Back To That", and then the thought-provoking observations of "Cold". Complete with harmony vocals from singer/songwriter Dan Navarro, it flows beautifully.
Another highlight is the lovely ballad "Who'll Save The World?", a poignant look at today's society and how we seem to say a lot of things, without actually moving forward, and then the album is rounded out by the short, Kurtzweil piano ballad 'One Bright Burning'.
Finally, within the liner notes, Beland pays special thanks and appreciation to Marty Korth, Dale Mitchell, Willie McEachern, The Legendary Fontenelle DuClaw, Bobby Pickett and Dan Navarro for their time and talents, to Daniel Simon for going the extra mile(s) and to Len Horowitz for the hospitality and entertainment.
'Left Of Center' Digital Download Purchase Link
Title - 'Reloaded'
Artist - Al Atkins
For those not in the know, Al Atkins is a British heavy metal vocalist, best known for his association with a very early incarnation of Judas Priest. Indeed, it was actually a whole other named band that had formed in the West Midlands area in 1969 fronted by Atkins, that bassist Bruno Stapenhill renamed Judas Priest. The band played their first gig on 25 November 1969 and disbanded in April of 1970. The band was subsequently reinvented, but without Atkins and company.
As of 2012, Atkins has fronted the band Atkins/May Project, which also features guitarist Paul May. Atkins has also contributed session vocals for the heavy metal opera project, Lyraka and in 2013, and now Atkins brings forth a brand new solo album entitled Reloaded. A 10 track collection of his favorite songs written between his days in Judas Priest to the Holy Rage days (2010), Reloaded is coming out via Gonzo Multimedia.
Featuring special guest appearances by Ian Hill of Judas Priest (who actually performed on the original recordings of some of these classics), John McCoy (ex-Gillan), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) - who duets with Al on "Victim Of Changes" - a solo from Roy "Z" Ramirez of Halford, Japanese guitarist Tsuyoshi Ikedo from Unveil Raze, Australia's Stu "Hammer" Marshall of Death Dealer, Chris Johnson from Holy Rage, Rob Allen on drums, and longtime friend and collaborator, guitarist and producer of many of Al's albums, Paul May.
2. Mind Conception
3. A Void To Avoid
4. Coming Thick And Fast
5. Heavy Thoughts
6. Never Satisfied
7. Money Talks
8. Cradle To The Grave
9. Love At War
10. Victim Of Changes
11. Mind Conception (Demo Extract) [Bonus Track]
Phew! So, with all these tracks having appeared in various forms on many albums over the past forty years, what Reloaded does is bring to the fore the Al Atkins of today to re-embody the spirit that they had originally been created with. To reinvigorate them. To re-birth them for a whole new generation.
As for the album itself musically, every song is what you would expect to hear from Atkins. He still has his vocals, he still has that Judas Priest lyrical and musical vibe about him, and Tsuyoshi Ikedo's guitar work is simply stunning. Rob Allen's drumming it tight throughout, and I also loved the solo from Roy "Z" Ramirez on the last track "Victims Of Changes".
In fact, Reloaded also features a bonus track that is an excerpt of a guitar solo from the very first Judas Priest demo, "Mind Conception" featuring Hill on bass and K.K. Downing on guitar. Now that's a gem of a never-heard treat for all Judas Priest fanatics if ever I heard one!
Also, and for a limited time only, Aktins has teamed up with PledgeMusic.com to offer his fans some very special Reloaded packages. Aside from just ordering a digital download of the album upon its release, you can order signed Reloaded CDs, tshirts, hoodies, signed posters, and even a hand-written lyric sheet from Atkins!
Pledge Music Campaign - 'Reloaded' Purchase Link
Title - 'The Roadmap In Your Head'
Artist - Spirits Burning & Clearlight
For those not in the know, and taking them one at a time, Spirits Burning is a musical collective that has released a combination of ambient, jazz and full-on space rock with input from many of the genre's luminaries; most notably Gong's Daevid Allen (who sadly passed away in 2015) and members of Hawkwind.
Overseen by American composer/producer Don Falcone, both he and Cyrille "Clearlight" Verdeaux of Clearlight have collaborated in Spirits Burning (under the name Spirits Burning & Clearlight). Which leads me perfectly into Clearlight, an instrumental stoner rock band from New Orleans, Louisiana. They are also known as The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight due to other bands using the same original name.
The Roadmap In Your Head is the 13th studio album from the Spirits Burning space rock collective, and the second to feature the aforementioned keyboardist Cyrille "Clearlight" Verdeaux. Roadmap also has a very strong Gong presence, as it includes performances by four musicians from Gong's Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy (Daevid Allen, Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett, Didier Malherbe), and four members of the current Gong (Ian East, Fabio Golfetti, Dave Sturt, Kavus Torabi).
The Roadmap In Your Head is a 14 step musical journey that from start to finish ensues once you undertake its musical journey, you will never come out the other side quite feeling the same as when you went in. Released this past November 4th, 2016 on Gonzo Multimedia, the album, as you would indeed fully expect, is a labyrinth of ambient, jazz and full-on space-rock with input from many of the genre's luminaries.
1. The Roadmap In Your Head (3:56)
2. Sun Sculptor & The Electrobilities (3:50)
3. The Birth Of Belief (8:38)
4. Coffee For Coltrane (6:58)
5. Isolation In 10 80 (2:55)
6. Mrs. Noonness (4:12)
7. The Old College Sky Is Where We Left It (1:28)
8. Fuel For The Gods (13:05)
9. Early Evening Rain (3:31)
10. Black Squirrel At The Root Of The Staircase (7:34)
11. Outsiders Parachute In (5:48)
12. Déją Vu (2:25)
13. La Rue Inconnue (4:48)
14. Roadmaps (The Other Way) (5:59)
This truly wonderful, expertly created, beautifully sculptured new album begins with a sense of the Middle East as we open upon the title track of the album. It's not much later that we're knee deep into the second longest track, "The Birth Of Belief", a work of art that wafts you along on an electric jazz journey. Guitar solos are aplenty here also, especially within both "Coffee For Coltrane" and "Mrs. Noonness", but for me, personally, it's the expertly crafted depths of the 13 minute long "Fuel For The Gods" that is the real cherry on the fusion cake here.
Tracks like "Isolation In 10 80", "The Old College Sky Is Where We Left It" and "Déją Vu" are quick instrumental stepping stones to the meatier recordings, made to sooth your soul as you pass through the album. The album comes to a close with the nearly 8 minutes long jazz fusion beauty "Black Squirrel At The Root Of The Staircase", the intuitive "La Rue Inconnue", and closes with "Roadmaps (The Other Way)"; a song written and sung by the late Gong legend, Daevid Allen.
Here on Roadmap, putting the sonic avenues together there are no less that thirty-five amazing musicians and that's inclusive of not only the beloved members of the Gong global family, but some very special newbies also. Paul Booth (Steve Winwood), Theo Travis (David Gilmour), Judy Dyble, and Jonathan Segel from Camper Van Beethoven. Returning are Hawkwind family members Steve Bemand, Nik Turner, and Bridget Wishart, plus Albert Bouchard (BÖC).
Title - 'Oxygčne 3'
Artist - Jean-Michel Jarre
For those not in the know, Jean-Michel Jarre is a French composer, performer, and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient, and new-age genres, and known as an organizer of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.
His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygčne. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies. Oxygčne was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979 Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times.
More albums were to follow (inclusive of Oxygčne 7–13 - otherwise known as Oxygčne 2 - in 1997), but his concert that same year served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events, and he is now perhaps as well known as a performer as he is as a musician.
And now, the pioneer in his field has just released the finale piece to his trilogy for its 40th anniversary, Oxygčne 3. The new album is released as a CD, an LP on 180g vinyl, or as a Digital version. But wait, there's more, for the Oxygčne Trilogy is also available to buy as a 3CD digipack or a Digital version also. And yes, you've guessed it, also being released is an Oxygčne Trilogy Box-Set, comprising of the 3CD, a 3LP Vinyl and a Coffee Table Book!
For my money, Jean Michel Jarre pulled of an incredible move when he released Oxygčne in 1976. He made the world of electronic music safe for composers. While a small, select few folk were making music with the earlier synthesizers of the day, most of them either concentrated on making novel reinterpretations of classical, cold, mechanical drones, or music that was intentionally robotic (ala Kraftwerk).
Now, whilst I love just about all of the aforementioned artists, Oxygčne was the first album that made me think of synthesizers as instruments as opposed to toys. Indeed, Oxygčne was created on an 8 track tape recorder with very few instruments, so gave Jarre no other choice than being a musical minimalist. Here on Oxygčne 3 he has notably tried to keep this minimalist approach going with some piqued sonic moments built around one or two elements only; ala the first volume.
Jarre has done this here in the third volume by making the songs play out like a classical composition. Each movement has distinct and original melodies and each sounds like it could hold its own as a song unto itself. The themes also sound like they could be as organic and enveloping as the album title suggests; this was earthy music long before the term "new age" got slapped on everything that was vaguely atmospheric and meditative.
Also, a couple of the movements are mostly brooding and synth heavy, with the occasional computerized rhythm - a definite and distinct throwback to his earlier days working on the original (where there, within the liner notes, he referred to the sound as a "Rhythmin' computer".
As for the wickedly brilliant, and poignant art work for Oxygčne 3, once more Jarre re-visits Michel Granger’s original work, simply shifting from another angle; which was exactly aligned with the approach he obviously had to create this new chapter in his music. It's been said that he kindly asked Michel Granger’s permission to perform a 3D model of his creation in order to change the angle of the visual, which he amicably accepted, of course.
In closing, Oxygčne 3 is a wonderment of synth notes combined with delicate piano lines that creep willingly between the cracks of his work. Warm, sensual at times undertones adorn his work, providing both flashback and forward-thinking moments to occur en masse. Indeed, all his known soundscapes still remain here after 40 years, most as anthemic as ever, but now they have been rewired for today's listener.
'Oxygene 3' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Karyn White: Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Karyn White
For those not in the know, the lovely Karyn White is an American singer who was popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Indeed, the woman whose hits always seemed to accompany my romantic exploits around that time, is still best known today for her R&B singles; "Superwoman" (1989), "Secret Rendezvous" (1989), "The Way You Love Me" (1988), and the Billboard Hot 100 number one single "Romantic" (1991).
White's self-titled debut album Karyn White was released in 1988. It was produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface and achieved platinum status. From that album came the hit singles "The Way You Love Me", "Secret Rendezvous" (#6 in the U.S.), "Superwoman" and "Love Saw It" a duet with Babyface. White was also nominated in the Best R&B/Urban Contemporary New Artist category for the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards along with being nominated for two Grammy Awards. In actual fact, White became the first female artist to have their first three solo releases hit #1 on the R&B charts.
This brand new Karyn White: Deluxe Edition 2CD, just released via BBR (Big Break Records) through Cherry Red Records marks the 30th anniversary of White’s first hit and features bonus songs and remixes galore. And I mean GALORE, for not only is the original album of nine (9) tracks on the first disc, but seven more songs also, with another 12 on the second disc. So, if you're counting along at home, that means you get an incredible 19 bonus tracks (which include some very rare promotional remixes).
1. The Way You Love Me
2. Secret Rendezvous
3. Slow Down
5. Family Man
6. Love Saw It (Duet with Babyface)
7. Don't Mess with Me
8. Tell Me Tomorrow
9. One Wish
10. Love on the Line
11. Language of Love
12. Facts of Love - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White
13. True Confessions - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White
14. Back in Love - Jeff Lorber Featuring Michael Jeffries & Karyn White
15. Not Thru Being with You - Michael Jeffries with Karyn White
16. The Way You Love Me (Hype Mix)
I have to admit that re-listening to this album is like flashing back to a warm, fuzzy era of my life that I am so sorry to have left behind. Songs have a way to do that, I understand, but a whole album? I mean, there just isn't a "filler" out of the nine original album tracks. Not one. The opening cut is the New Jack Swing of her first single, "The Way You Love Me", and that's backed by the mid-tempo, and yet upbeat ballad "Secret Rendezvous."
Another track in the same vein, although less peppy is "Slow Down" and that's followed by her second single, the even slower, smooth and sultry ballad, "Superwoman". The R&B funk of "Family Man" is next (and no, it's not the Hall & Oates pop track), and that's backed by the beautiful, poetic third single "Love Saw It" With six out of the nine tracks written by Babyface, L.A. Reid, and Daryl Simmons, the original album comes to a close with the Janet Jacksonesque "Don't Mess With Me", the tender ballad "Tell Me Tomorrow", and then the mid-tempo R&B "One Wish".
This album came out and radio went wild for it, but let's not forget that as much as a lot of the grunt work was done by both L.A. Reid and Babyface, it's really Karyn's major hits that helped them Babyface become the successful producer and songwriter he is today. The other tracks included on this Deluxe Edition, some also produced by Jeff Lorber, are just as solid, but those hits, man, those hits!
We kick off the expanded hits parade here on the first disc with the brilliant Janet Jacksonesque duo of "Love On The Line" (which showcases her vocal range as perfectly as any other White song I've ever known) and the funk of "Language Of Love". A trio of Jeff Lorber accompanied tracks are up next, and they begin with the guitar funk vibe of "Facts Of Love" (which is such a solid, so very solid cut), and that's backed by the soul flow of "True Confessions".
"Back In Love" is next, but it's actually a Lorber song that features both Karyn White and Mike Jeffries. The first disc is then rounded out with the BEST song of the expanded tracklisting (on either side, for my liking), the hyper R&B funk of the Jimmy Jam-inspired "Not Thru Being With You", once again featuring Jeffries on co-vocals. The last track is a Hype Mix of "The Way You Love Me" and that allows the first disc to come full circle very nicely.
1. Facts of Love (Actuality Mix) - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White
2. True Confessions (The Left Bank Mix) - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White
3. The Way You Love Me (Club Mix)
4. Secret Rendezvous (Extended Remix)
5. Superwoman (Long Version)
6. Not Thru Being with You (The Club Fire Mix) - Michael Jeffries with Karyn White
7. Facts of Love (Passion Mix) - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White
8. The Way You Love Me (Paul Simpson Remix)
9. Secret Rendezvous (White House Remix)
10. Facts of Love (Fact #1) -Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White
11. The Way You Love Me (New York Groove Edit)
12. Secret Rendezvous (Secret Drive Time Radio Edit)
The second disc features those aforementioned rare and promotional remixes and, for the most part, are as deserved a place on this incredible 2CD set as anything that has gone before it. Of course, we get songs that due to their expanded nature, just seemingly go on a wee bit too long, but then that's exactly what you paid your money for when it came to these kinds of 12" Vinyl Singles back then. "Facts of Love (Actuality Mix)" is up first, and is backed nicely by "True Confessions (The Left Bank Mix)".
One of my favorite two 12" recordings here come one after the other, as we next get "The Way You Love Me (Club Mix)" and "Secret Rendezvous (Extended Remix)", and they are backed by "Superwoman (Long Version)", the pulsating "Not Thru Being With You (The Club Fire Mix)" and "Facts of Love (Passion Mix)". With regard "Not Thru Being With You", from what I can recall, if you check out their black and white music video for the song, it is so infectious it will have you up and dancin' before the second chorus comes-a-knockin'!
"The Way You Love Me (Paul Simpson Remix)" and "Secret Rendezvous (White House Remix)" are up next, followed by a really well done "Facts of Love (Fact #1)", and a smooth "The Way You Love Me (New York Groove Edit)". The second disc is then rounded out by "Secret Rendezvous (Secret Drive Time Radio Edit)" and as that song fades out, if you're a fan like me, you'll simply go back to the first disc (the better of the two, for me) and start the listening process all over again!
This Karyn White: Deluxe Edition 2CD color booklet also includes exclusive interviews with Karyn White, Daryl Simmons and Jeff Lorber, and is presented in a super jewel case complete with a 20-page booklet and detailed liner notes.
'Karyn White: Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Black Butterfly: The Essential Niecy'
Artist - Deniece Williams
For those not in the know, the uber talented Deniece Williams is an American singer–songwriter and record producer. Best known for hits such as "Free" (1976), "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" (1978), "Silly" (1981), "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" (1982), "Let's Hear It for the Boy" (1984), and for her duets with Johnny Mathis, the lady known simply as Niecy now has her complete career retrospective Black Butterfly album released as a wonderful 40th Anniversary 2CD Collection.
This wondrous, and first ever 2CD complete career retrospective of Deniece Williams is chock full of all her chart hit singles from 1976-1989, and is just the most perfect introduction or indeed late night flashback to one of the genre's most beloved singers.
2. Baby Baby My Love's All for You (Single Version)
3. What Two Can Do
4. I Found Love
5. It's Gonna Take a Miracle
6. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late (Duet with Johnny Mathis)
7. Waiting By the Hotline
8. It's Your Conscience (Single Version)
9. Waiting (Single Version)
11. If You Don't Believe
12. God Is Amazing
13. You're All I Need to Get By (Duet with Johnny Mathis)
14. That's What Friends Are For
15. The Boy I Left Behind
16. I've Got the Next Dance (12" Version)
17. 'Cause You Love Me Baby
18. When Love Comes Calling
We first get the beautifully-sung (but then again, weren't they all) "Free", which is a great way to hear the crystal clear vocal tones of Niecy. The slight pop bounce of "Baby Baby My Love's All for You (Single Version)" is next, and that's backed by "What Two Can Do", a track that upped the stakes in the music that backed her. This time we get horns, keys and even some contorted funk beats, all which back Neicy's vocals perfectly. The brilliant disco pop of "I Found Love" is next, and is followed by both the smooth R&B of "It's Gonna Take A Miracle" and then the brilliant duet with Johnny Mathis, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late".
Up next is the jagged R&B soul of "Waiting By the Hotline", a track that shows how open Neicy was to trying something a little different with her sound. It actually reached #29 on the R&B chart in 1982 and was well received everywhere it was heard. Then comes the flowing "It's Your Conscience (Single Version)", a song that brings forth Niecy's heavenly soprano perfectly. Under the guidance of producer Thom Bell, she had someone at the helm who always got the best out of her.
Next up is "Waiting (Single Version)", as lush a ballad as you'll ever hear, and that's followed by the soulfulness of "Silly", the stillness of "If You Don't Believe", the uplifting Gospel side of her on "God Is Amazing", and then the glorious, worldwide hit duet with Johnny Mathis, "You're All I Need To Get By". Just look at the cover of that single and see the love for their song beaming directly from their eyes alone. I love that front cover of the 7" Single, I honestly do. Always have done, always will do. Next up is "That's What Friends Are For", a cut that oozes her soul on every word, and wow, just listen to the instrumental run at the end. Wonderful.
The R&B funky horns and delicate keys of "The Boy I Left Behind" is next, and that's followed by an incredible "I've Got the Next Dance (12" Version)" which just pumps up the disco dancefloor amps on this first disc to the max. At over six minutes in length, it's a massive highlight of the entire collection, trust me! The disc then rounds out with both the mid-tempo ballad "Cause You Love Me" and the sped-up dance moves of "When Love Comes Calling".
1. Let's Hear It for the Boy (12" Version)
2. Do What You Feel (Single Version)
3. Without Us - Theme from "Family Ties" (Duet with Johnny Mathis)
4. I Can't Wait (Single Version)
5. I'm So Proud
6. Black Butterfly
7. Next Love
8. Never Say Never (12" Version)
9. Wiser and Weaker
10. I Confess (Single Version)
11. All I Need
13. Every Moment (Single Remix)
14. This Is As Good As It Gets
15. You're All That Matters
16. Love Won't Let Me Wait (Duet with Johnny Mathis)
17. Why Can't We Fall in Love
The second disc, which is veritably bursting at the seams with musical greatness, kicks off in FINE style with her massive '80s hits, "Let's Hear It for the Boy (12" Version)" - and, in truth, if ever you wanted to hear the song again, it had to be the 12 Single Version, we all know that - and that's backed by both the poppy "Do What You Feel (Single Version)" and yet another duet with Johnny Mathis, her slow jam for the Theme from 'Family Ties', "Without Us". Then comes the upbeat, Katrina & The Wavesesque "I Can't Wait (Single Version)", which is in turn backed by the slow ballad "I'm So Proud".
The collection album title, "Black Butterfly" is stunning, and showcases Niecy's vocal range, once more, and that's followed by the slow-building-to-funky "Next Love". The gentle pop bounce of "Never Say Never (12" Version)" is next and another of the top quality highlights on this new set, and that's backed by both the electro dance pop of "Wiser and Weaker" and then the saxophone-led "I Confess (Single Version)". The smooth R&B of "All I Need" is backed by a lovely song of faith and worship, "Healing", and that is followed by the static guitar-led pop of "Every Moment (Single Remix)" and then the piano ballad "This Is As Good As It Gets".
This quite insanely exquisite 2CD collection comes to a close with the quietly expansive, beautiful "You're All That Matters" which in turn is followed by both her last duet with Johnny Mathis, "Love Won't Let Me Wait", and then closes with the stunning, simply stunning softy sung ballad "Why Can't We Fall in Love".
This wondrous, and first ever 2CD complete career retrospective of Deniece Williams, which includes all of her chart hit singles from 1976-1989, is newly-remastered with rare single mixes and presented in a deluxe digipak complete with a 24-page booklet and detailed liner notes.
'Black Butterfly: The Essential Niecy' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Let's Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story'
Artist - Archie Bell and the Drells
For those not in the know, the fabulously talented Archie Bell and the Drells was an American R&B vocal group from Houston, Texas, and one of the main acts on Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records.
The band's hits include "Tighten Up", "I Can't Stop Dancing" (both 1968), "There's Gonna Be A Showdown", "Girl You're Too Young" (1969), "Here I Go Again" (also a UK hit in 1972), "Soul City Walk" (1975), "Let's Groove", "Everybody Have A Good Time" (1977), and "Don't Let Love Get You Down" (1976).
Many of their Atlantic hits were produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, including the minor 1969 hit "Here I Go Again" which became such a massive hit on the Northern Soul scene that it prompted a UK reissue which made #11 in 1972, just after the group had parted ways with Atlantic. Continuing with producer Prince Philllip Mitchell, the group signed to Henry Stones Glades Records in 1973 and released a few singles including the hit "Dancing To Your Music" (R&B #11/Pop #61).
Big Break Records (via Cherry Red Records) has just released Let's Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story, the 50th Anniversary Collection and trust me when I say it's a doozy, ladies and gentlemen! Complete with all of the group’s chart hit singles and dance classics from 1967-1979, there are also some 12" Single mixes on here too!
1. Tighten Up (Part 1)
2. Dog Eat Dog
3. A Thousand Wonders
4. A Soldier's Prayer, 1967
5. I Can't Stop Dancing
6. Do the Choo Choo
7. Love Will Rain on You
8. (There's Gonna Be a) Showdown
9. Go for What You Know
10. I Love My Baby
11. Just a Little Closer
12. Girl You're Too Young
13. My Balloon's Going Up
14. Here I Go Again
15. A World Without Music
16. Don't Let the Music Slip Away
17. Get It from the Bottom
18. I Wish
19. Wrap It Up
20. Deal with Him
21. I Just Want to Fall in Love
22. Love at First Sight
23. Archie's in Love
24. I Can't Face You Baby
25. Dancing to Your Music
26. Ain't Nothing for a Man in Love
27. You Never Know What's on a Woman's Mind
28. Girls Grow Faster Than Boys
Now, being that there are an INCREDIBLE 44 songs on this 2CD collection, I won't be going into each and every one of them, as usual. But, I will highlight the, well, highlights, in my humble opinion. Such as the first track out the gate, "Tighten Up (Part 1)" which is a drummers haven from the off. Like a jam session coming together, the track is a flashback to an era when coaxing instruments to come and jam, one by one, was seen as a joyous method of establishing the band to their audience.
The next track is another favorite of mine, "Dog Eat Dog", and no, not just because it has the same title as my all-time favorite band, Adam & The Ants. It's a seamless R&B soulful moment of chart pop and flows perfectly, as do both "I Can't Stop Dancing" and "Do the Choo Choo". The foot-tappin' continues ever onward with tracks such as the soul sway of "Girl You're Too Young", "My Balloon's Going Up" and their hit "Here I Go Again".
Other lovely, heartwarming tracks on the first disc include the upbeat, and infectious groove on "Get It From The Bottom", the Hammond organ-inspired "Love at First Sight", the chitty-chatty fun of "Archie's in Love", and both "I Can't Face You Baby" and groovy ("Never had the nerve before, to get up on the floor") "Dancing to Your Music".
1. I Could Dance All Night
2. Let's Groove
3. The Soul City Walk
4. Dance Your Troubles Away
5. Nothing Comes Easy
6. Don't Let Love Get You Down
7. Where Will You Go When the Party's Over
8. Everybody Have a Good Time
9. Glad You Could Make It (12" Disco Version)
10. It's Hard Not to Like You
11. I've Been Missing You
12. On the Radio
13. Old People
15. Show Me How to Dance
16. We Got 'Um Dancin' (12" Disco Version)
The upbeat flow of "I Could Dance All Night" kicks off the second disc of 16 tracks, and in some fine style. The true sound of Philadelphia track is a Soul Train classic, and is backed by the introductory (quite literally) soul sounds of "Let's Groove" and then the groove line under "The Soul City Walk". Another fine song, and one that showcases a softer, more methodical side to the band is "Where Will You Go When the Party's Over', and then the vocals gymnastics of "Everybody Have a Good Time".
The second disc is then brought to a close with tracks such as "Glad You Could Make It (12" Disco Version)", a funky, funky song to extend at the best of times, the gentle balladry flow of "I've Been Missing You", and the funky grooving of "On the Radio". The last two tracks are gems also, with "Show Me How to Dance" ("I've got to dance like I've got ants in my pants") and the 12" Disco Version of "We Got 'Um Dancin'" bringing a close to an outstanding collection from Archie Bell and the Drells to, hopefully, a whole new generation of listeners.
Newly remastered with rare single mixes and presented in a super jewel case complete with a 20-page booklet and detailed liner notes, Let's Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story, the 50th Anniversary Collection is a must for all Soul, Pop, Funk and Disco fans everywhere!
'Let's Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Basia
For those not in the know, Barbara Trzetrzelewska, known simply as Basia is a Polish singer-songwriter and record producer. She established a successful international recording career featuring characteristically Latin-flavoured jazz-pop crossover songs during the late 1980s and early 1990s and the late 2000s and 2010s, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan.
Indeed, she is actually noted for possessing a wide vocal range, approximately three octaves that span from contralto to soprano tessituras, as well as her singular jazz-influenced styling and multi-layered harmonies.
Her third studio album, The Sweetest Illusion, was released in 1994 and was a moderate success in the U.S. market selling over half-million copies, but globally it became another million-seller. Mixed by the then-highly sought after David Bascombe (who had contributed to Oleta Adams' debut effort) the project marked the end of a ten-year working relationship with mixmaster Phil Harding and a step into more sophisticated territory.
The Sweetest Illusion included a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, "Drunk on Love", but if you listen to it again today (especially if you have it on vinyl, like I do), you'll still not understand how at least three other tracks didn't make it onto the high radio airplay lists of the time.
But now, and for the first time ever, The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition, the third solo album from Basia, has been digitally remastered and expanded and released via Cherry Red Records.
Following the success of both Time And Tide and London Warsaw New York, Basia's debut and sophomore albums, respectively, this third album was her final major-label release of the 1990s, though a live album and a greatest hits collection followed. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on December 14, 1994 for sales in excess of 500,000 units within the U.S., and earned Basia her first (and so far only) chart-topper on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart with "Drunk on Love".
1. Drunk on Love
2. Third Time Lucky
4. She Deserves It/Rachel's Wedding
5. An Olive Tree
6. The Sweetest Illusion
7. Perfect Mother
8. More Fire Than Flame
9. Simple Pleasures
10. My Cruel Ways
11. The Prayer of a Happy Housewife
12. Drunk on Love (Radio Edit)
13. Third Time Lucky (Radio Edit)
14. Yearning (Edit)
Indeed, it's that very same track that begins our incredible, and comprehensive journey into the world of Basia, for "Drunk In Love" opens this wondrous album. The freeflowing, jazzy pop of the song is infectious from the start, and is backed by the softer mid-tempo "Third Time Lucky", then the delicate "Yearning", the storytelling of "She Deserves It / Rachel's Wedding" and then the Latin flow of "An Olive Tree".
Next up is the album title song, the trippy bounce of "The Sweetest Illusion" and it is one of the finest songs to showcase just how great her vocal range truly is. The highs and lows encountered by Basia here give the track an ebb and flow that transcends a lot of her previous work. "Perfect Mother" slows things down and sounds like a song from the heart here from Basia, and that's backed by the lush "My Fire Than Flame". "Simple Pleasures" is just a pure delight to behold, and then both "My Cruel Ways" and the brilliant "The Prayer Of A Happy Housewife" round out the original album. Included on this first disc also are the Bonus Track Single Versions of "Drunk On Love (Radio Edit)", "Third Time Lucky (Radio Edit)" and then finally "Yearning (edit)".
1. Half a Minute (Remix)
2. Angels Blush
3. Waters of March
4. Clear Horizon
5. Go for You
6. Drunk on Love (Instrumental)
7. Third Time Lucky (Instrumental)
8. Yearning (Instrumental)
9. She Deserves It (Instrumental)
10. An Olive Tree (Instrumental)
11. The Sweetest Illusion (Instrumental)
12. Perfect Mother (Instrumental)
13. More Fire Than Flame (Instrumental)
14. Simple Pleasures (Instrumental)
15. My Cruel Ways (Instrumental)
16. The Prayer of a Happy Housewife (Instrumental)
17. Angels Blush (Instrumental)
18. Go for You (Instrumental)
The second disc brings us a slew of Instrumentals, which tend to, after about the halfway mark, quietly blend into one another. But that's ok, for as much as it's Basia's unique vocals that guide us through each song she brings us, when these same tracks come at us unaccompanied by her, well, they transform into some very delightful background music to whatever you are doing in your life at that time.
That said, the second disc actually kicks off with several Bonus Track Additional Recordings, such as "Half A Minute", a freeflowing jazz ensemble mood swing that is beyond fantastic to hear. If you are not familiar with the song, well, allow me to enlighten you to one of the best songs released in the mid'80s. Basia was part of a jazz-pop trio (who originally performed as Bronze) Matt Bianco and sang on their debut album Whose Side Are You On? Released in 1984 the album was a BIG hit across Europe, selling more than 1.5 million copies and brought forth two top 30 hits on the UK Singles Chart: "Get Out of Your Lazy Bed" and "Half a Minute".
Moving on and we next get "Angels Blush", a stunningly beautiful Christmas track and that is followed by the lyrically fast and poetic "Waters Of March", the stoic "Clear Horizon", and then the delicate styling of "Go For You". Then comes the blast of Instrumentals, which has been detailed above, and begin with "Drunk On Love" and end with "Go For You".
1. Drunk on Love (Extended Dance Mix)
2. Third Time Lucky (New Version)
3. Drunk on Love (Downtown Radio Edit)
4. Drunk on Love (Roger's Ultimate Anthem Mix)
5. Drunk on Love (Downtown Club Mix)
6. Drunk on Love (40 Oz of Love Dub)
7. Drunk on Love (Hands in the Air Dub)
8. Third Time Lucky (Vokal Mix)
9. Third Time Lucky (Bad Luck Mix)
10. Third Time Lucky (Instrumental Mix)
Deluxe editions of both her previous two titles were released on the Cherry Pop label and continue to be strong sellers and it's now shock as to why. They are not only GREAT albums, but in these wonderful deluxe and expanded editions they showcase so much more depth to each track, and the remixes and B-sides that accompanied them at the time, that you know you're getting as much of Basia as they can possibly squeeze!
That said, and here on the third disc, we only get two (2) songs, but they are two of the stand out tracks, at that. You will need patience and belief in where the extended and remixes tracks are headed sometimes, but each version of both "Drunk On Love" and "Third Time Lucky" are solid, enjoyable and importantly, relevant to what Basia was sounding like, and recording like at the time the album came out in 1994.
Chock full of Bonus Tracks revealing both Remixes and Alternative Versions of both song, I mean, wow, who knew she had recorded so many versions of each song back then in the first place? I'm a BIG fan and even I didn't know. I even went upstairs, went through all my Basia 12" Singles (yes, that's vinyl to you kids!) and could only find a couple of these on the singles she released from The sweetest Illusion. No worries though, for they are all here and more on this third disc (tracklisting noted above), and it wraps up a stunning 3CD collection that, for my money, slightly outshines the previous two in her Cherry Red Records Deluxe Edition arsenal.
This 3 disc set comes with a beautifully designed, carefully researched, and spectaculary detailed 24-page full color booklet that contains brand new liner notes, lyrics, photos, an illustrated discography, comprehensive credits, and written contributions from producer Dave Bascombe, plus track annotations from Basia and Danny White.
'The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Stranded In Reality' [30CD Box-Set]
Artist - Ian Hunter
For those not in the know, Ian Hunter is an English singer-songwriter who is best known as the lead singer of the English rock band Mott the Hoople, from its inception in 1969 to its dissolution in 1974, and at the time of its 2009 reunion.
Indeed, Hunter was a musician and songwriter before joining Mott the Hoople, and continued in this vein after he left the band. He embarked on a solo career despite ill health and disillusionment with commercial success, and often worked in collaboration with Mick Ronson, David Bowie's sideman and arranger from the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars period.
Ian Hunter's last studio album, Fingers Crossed (2016) unveiled ten new, self-penned songs including his much-anticipated homage to David Bowie "Dandy". Recorded at HOBO Studios in New Jersey, and co-produced by Hunter and Andy York, the record features his magnificent Rant Band and was the follow-up to 2012's acclaimed When I'm President.
But never one to sit around and let time pass him by, Hunter is readying to unleash an incredible 30CD Box-Set upon the world! Stranded In Reality is a strictly Limited Edition Box Set for sale to worldwide customers exclusively through www.ProperMusic.com only.
The career of the British rock great and Mott the Hoople icon Ian Hunter is celebrated with this 30-disc Anthology box set, Stranded in Reality, containing a swathe of rare and previously unreleased recordings and film. Compiled and curated by Ian and recognised Hunter-Mott biographer Campbell Devine, the project is the ultimate celebration of the artist's hugely influential and sparkling solo work. Covering the years 1975 to 2015, Stranded in Reality comprises 17 original albums on 19 CDs, 9 "new" discs of intriguing rare and unreleased tracks plus 2DVDs.
All of Ian's classic solo albums are contained in the box set including expanded Anniversary Editions of Ian Hunter, All-American Alien Boy, You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic and Welcome to the Club, plus special unique bonus track discs of Short Back n' Sides, All of The Good Ones Are Taken, The Artful Dodger, Strings Attached, Shrunken Heads and When I'm President.
The new albums are titled Tilting the Mirror (Rarities 2CD), If You Wait Long Enough for Anything, You Can Get it on Sale (Live 1979-81 2CD), Bag of Tricks (Live Volumes 1, 2 and 3), Acoustic Shadows and Experiments. The box presents many unheard and "lost" songs from Ian's archive including 'San Diego Freeway', 'Nobody's Perfect' and 'Salvation' as well as rarely performed live versions of 'Wild East', 'While You Were Looking At Me', 'The Outsider' and a 2008 acoustic concert.
A visual 2 disc set, It Never Happened, features promo, live and archive material, and most of the footage has not been issued commercially on DVD until now. The project includes a complete 1979 Hunter Ronson concert from London's Hammersmith Odeon and a TV film from the same tour, live in Toronto. Collectively, the albums and DVD's offer music fans a rock 'n' roll jackpot of over 400 tracks!
Lavishly presented in an LP-size deluxe box with custom Escher-style cover (which alone I think sells it!), the collection also contains an 88-page hardback book with comprehensive essay, rare memorabilia and Ian Hunter "Track by Track" for every song, a stunning facsimile Shades newspaper featuring classic historic press features, an Alien Boy lithograph personally signed by Ian and original and brand new album artwork in replica card sleeves.
Phew! Am I right!! Well, as much as a) it hasn't been released yet, and b) it's too damn expensive to be sent one for review, the company we work with were kind enough to send us a lovely 7-track EP, amusingly entitled Sampling In Reality!
1. "A Little Rock 'n' Roll (Pre-Rant outtake)" (05:20)
2. "Your Eyes" (from Shrunken Heads EP) (03:48)
3. "Waterlow" (Trio Studio Version) (03:11)
4. "Sons 'n' Lovers" (Live Acoustic 2008) (05:01)
5. "When I'm President" (Live Acoustic 2013) (05:47)
6. "American Music" (Early Version) (03:48)
7. "Sweet Jane" - Ian Hunter and Tribes (04:39)
The tracks are a lovely taster for what is going to come, with the opening mid-tempo rocker "A Little Rock 'n' Roll (Pre-Rant outtake)" setting the tone very nicely. The mellow, acoustic vibe of "Your Eyes' shows Hunter's versatility, and the two live tracks taken from Hunter's acoustic tours are always a nice gem to come across.
So, save up your pennies, as this 30-CD Box-Set is gonna set you back at least $250 or more, me lil' Hunter and gathers!
'Stranded In Reality' CD Box-Set Purchase Link
Title - 'Capture the Sun'
Artist - Hollywood Monsters
For those not in the know, Hollywood Monsters is an American hard rock supergroup formed in 2014. The band members are: Steph Honde (vocals, guitars), Don Airey (keyboards) (Deep Purple, previously played in Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Ozzy Osbourne, Michael Schenker Group and others), Vinny Appice (drums) (previously played in DIO, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Kill Devil Hill and others), Tim Bogert (bass) (previously played in Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, and Beck, Bogert & Appice).
Their brand new album Capture The Sun ups the ante of the band's 2014 debut album with special guest performances by Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge), Tracy G (ex-Dio), Neil Murray (Whitesnake), Danko Jones, and many others.
The opener, "Mysteries Of Life" is a mish-mash of TV-spoken white noise for just 48 seconds, before the death-metal vibe of "Evilution" is upon us. The speed it rocks it's amazing it stays on track, but that it does, and is backed perfectly by the mid-tempo (for them) rocker "Always Crashing the Same Car", the fast pop of "It's A Lie", and both the guitar ballad "Waiting" and the piano-led "Don't Let It Happen".
"Another Day in Grey, Pt. 2" picks up the pace again and keeps it up with "Everything Is Going to Be Alright", before we head into the searing, soaring guitar work of the ballad "Dreams". One of the best tracks on the album for me, that's followed by another ballad in the form of "King For A Day", which in turn is backed by the accelerated title track, "Capture The Sun."
This devilishly good album is then brought to a flourish of a close with "Sweet Thing / Candidate / Sweet Thing (Reprise)", with the final track, a Whitesnake cover of "Fool for Your Loving" as a Bonus Track. Not quite having the power to match DC's original vocals, it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the closest I've heard any band get even close to the original.
Hollywood Monsters @ Facebook!
'Capture The Sun' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'The Sessions'
Artist - Joe Lynn Turner
As I'm sure you all know by now, Joe Lynn Turner is an American singer known for his works with hard rock band Rainbow. During his career, Turner fronted pop rock band Fandango, had the short-lived collaboration for neoclassical metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen and Deep Purple.
From the mid 1990s, he worked with various musical groups (progressive rock band Mother's Army, funk rock duo Hughes Turner Project, AOR side project Sunstorm, etc.), while pursuing a solo career. He is currently the vocalist for Rated X, based on Mother's Army. Their album was released in 2014.
Personally, I have always been a massive Rainbow fan, although the early years with Ritchie Blackmore were a wee bit OTT for me, the JLT years were good, but the Graham Bonnet years were fantastic! Anyway, moving on, and as we also were lucky enough to get a live album from JLT this year, Street Of Dreams - Boston 1985, as the year comes to a close we are also given the early Christmas gift of The Sessions from Deadline Music / Cleopatra Records.
Here on this quite brilliant new CD, the man STILL best known for fronting Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, presents this excellent collection of his studio work recording supercharged versions of rock classics! Featuring guest appearances by Michael Schenker (UFO), Steve Lukather (Toto), Steve Morse, Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), and more, trust me when I say if you area fan of that era of music, or Rainbow in general, The Sessions is gonna make make your Christmas Day rock!
1. "Stone Cold" (with Vivian Campbell)
2. "Lunatic Fringe"
3. "Let the Music Do the Talking" (with Al Pitrelli, Carmine Rojas & Pat Torpey)
4. "Mirror Mirror" (with Icarus Witch)
5. "Hellraiser" (with Steve Lukather, Billy Sherwood, Jay Schellen & Paul Taylor)
6. "14 Years"
7. "Dance The Night Away" (with Reb Beach)
8. "Back in Black" (with Phil Collen)
9. "All Shook Up" (with Michael Schenker
10. "Babe I’m Gonna Leave You" (with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Tony Franklin & Doane Perry)
11. "All Day and All of the Night" (with Brad Gillis, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright)
12. "Bloody Well Right" (with Dave Kerzner)
13. "The Seeker" (with Leslie West)
14. "Jungle Love" (with Steve Morse)
15. "Two Minutes To Midnight" (with Richie Kotzen)
16. "Fat Bottomed Girls" (with Reb Beach)
17. "Riders On The Storm" (with Tony Kaye & Steve Cropper)
We kick off a "Stone Cold" lite featuring guitar wizard, and ex-Whitesnake guitarist Vivian Campbell alongside him, and that's backed by a trippy, yet spot on "Lunatic Fringe", a searing, soaring guitar fest within "Let the Music Do the Talking" (with Al Pitrelli, Carmine Rojas & Pat Torpey), and then both "Mirror Mirror" (with Icarus Witch), and ye another pulsating guitar fest on "Hellraiser" featuring Steve Lukather, Billy Sherwood, Jay Schellen & Paul Taylor.
The rock pop of "14 Years" is next, and that's followed by the lite pop bounce of "Dance The Night Away" featuring current Whitesnake guitarist Reb Beach along for the ride. Man, it has to be said that Turner bends, twists and contorts his vocal chords into the vein of whoever sang the covers included here, for in that last one he sounds just like DLR, and here on "Back In Black" (featuring Phil Collen of Def Leppard) he actually, truly comes across as Brian Johnson.
"All Shook Up" with Michael Schenker is yet another prime example of how Turner makes a song his own, when the needs must, and that's backed by both the beautiful acoustic guitar balled "Babe I’m Gonna Leave You" with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Tony Franklin & Doane Perry. The raucous "All Day and All of the Night" with Brad Gillis, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright is a powerhaus of a Kinks rendition, and could well be my own personal favorite here amongst the 17 tracks, and that's followed by a playful "Bloody Well Right" with Dave Kerzner. Kerzner has worked with artists and bands such as Alan Parsons, Genesis, Francis Dunnery, Neil Peart, and Keith Emerson, to namea few, so you know this song is another stand out highlight.
A massive-sounding, and possible the loudest Turner gets to sing on this new album "The Seeker" with Leslie West is next, but the Steve Miller Band take on the pop-lite "Jungle Love" with Steve Morse doesn't fit in here, sorry. Iron Maiden's rampaging "Two Minutes To Midnight", here with Richie Kotzen for company, puts Turner back to his best, and then the album is brought to a close with both "Fat Bottomed Girls" (again with Reb Beach), and a stonking "Riders On The Storm" with Tony Kaye & Steve Cropper.
Joe Lynn Turner @ Twitter
'The Sessions' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'It's Christmas Time with Gary Wilson'
Artist - Gary Wilson
For those not in the know, 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.
And active is what he truly is once again for following hot on the footsteps of his album, Alone With Gary Wilson (2015), which was in turn followed by his last album earlier this very year, It's Friday Night with Gary Wilson, we now get welcomed into his Christmas world with It's Christmas Time with Gary Wilson, released via Cleopatra Records this past October 28th, 2016.
1. "Lonely Holiday (Intro)"
2. "A Christmas Tree For Two"
3. "I Saw Santa Dancing In The Dark"
4. "A Sled Ride Tonight"
5. "The Snow"
7. "Cindy Wants To Cry"
8. "Wintertime In Johnson City"
9. "It’s Snowing In Endicott"
10. "Lost In The Snow"
11. "She Danced Near The Frozen Lake"
12. "A Date For New Year’s Eve"
13. "Santa Claus Is Coming To My Lonely Town"
14. "Lonely Holiday (Exit)"
Kicking off with the trippy one minute electro mish-mash of "Lonely Holiday (Intro)", we soon get on with the real show with the hippy-trippy "A Christmas Tree For Two" ("I don't want to cut down a tree, it makes me sad when it starts to bleed"), the sing-along, should be a classic Holiday track "I Saw Santa Dancing In The Dark", and both "A Sled Ride" and the frenetic white noise of "The Snow".
Another fun, hippy-drippy chant is to be lovingly found within "Holiday" which is followed by "Cindy Wants To Cry" and the arcade game soundtrack vibe to "Wintertime In Johnson City". In much the same la-la vein, we next get "It’s Snowing In Endicott", and I think this happens to also be my own personal favorite on this collection of 14 new tracks.
"Lost In The Snow" is up next. A partner piece to "It's Snowing In Endicott", it's a fun storytelling adventure, and that's backed by the beautiful (honestly - ok, well, as beautiful as Wilson can get in these moments, I guess!) "She Danced Near The Frozen Lake". Up next is the keyboard funk pop of "A Date For New Year’s Eve" and then the album rounds out with the closest we're gonna get to a traditional Christmas song, "Santa Claus Is Coming To My Lonely Town", and then the album book ends with another electro mish-mash of white noise in the one minute long "Lonely Holiday (Exit)".
Gary Wilson on Facebook
'It's Christmas Time with Gary Wilson' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Shoot The Moon'
Artist - Roger Street Freidman
For those not in the know, Brooklyn born and Long Island based Roger Street Friedman was born into a creative household. His father was an artist, his mother was a writer, and his two older brothers were budding guitarists. Everyone was passionate about music. At 18, Friedman left home to join the rock band The Walk as their bassist, recruited by veteran producer and engineer Michael Wright (who previously had worked with megastars Foreigner).
That didn't work out as planned, so he took off to Colorado and ended up skiing for a few years. He then spent the next twenty-eight years in a fulfilling career, but wandering aimlessly in and out of musical pursuits until the loss of his parents, and an unexpected blessing, awoke the music within.
Shoot The Moon (out January 13th, 2017) is Roger Street Friedman's reflection of life as an unpredictable and wondrous journey. The 13-song collection reveals an artist who has come into his own and created a boldly adventurous and masterful album.
Brought together via a Pledge Music campaign, before we take a listen to it, I'll let Roger explain more about its creation himself: "I am very excited to be releasing my second album Shoot The Moon. My band and I, along with a number of incredible guests, have been in the studio since last July and are getting ready to release the album in January. This PledgeMusic campaign is a way to share exclusive content with you in exchange for your support of the project at whatever level you choose."
"I am also donating a percentage of the proceeds of the campaign to Human Rights Watch, which does amazing work with refugees all over the world. So I hope you'll check out the video and then check out this link to join the campaign!! Thank You!! Roger."
1. "Puffs of Smoke"
3. "No Safe Place"
5. "Tidal Wave"
7. "Pour Me Another"
8. "Where Are You Tonight"
10. "Shoot The Moon"
11. "Love of a Mother"
12. "Nothin's Worth Nothin'"
13. "Wonder (For Jonathan)"
Opening with the blues-rocker "Puffs of Smoke" ("Lovers come and lovers go, just like puffs of smoke. Dreams my come, dreams may go. Just like puffs of smoke. Friends may come, and friends may go. Just like puffs of smoke. Life it comes and life it goes. Just like puffs of smoke"), we move swiftly into the harmonized acoustic vibe (at first) of "Everyday" and then the gentle countrified handling of "No Safe Place".
The guitar strumming pace is picked up in the stunning "Hideaway", a track that might just well be my personal favorite among the 13. That's followed by the Gospel-inspired "Tidal Wave", which in turn is backed by the upbeat "Tomorrow". A slight lean into a Mariachi backbeat is brought forth next on "Pour Me Another", where the storytelling of toasting parents, inclusive of both a Texas and Western Mexico ambiance is lyrically, and musically entrancing.
The guitar twanging of "Where Are You Tonight" is a reflective track, in more than one way, whilst the thought provoking question of mortality within "Paradise" is one for the ages. The fun blues pop of the title track "Shoot The Moon" is as joyous as Friedman gets, and yet with it being a true stand out here, one has to wonder why he didn't raise the tempo a little more often.
A track dedicated to his mother, and all mothers, come to think of that, is the beautiful "Love of a Mother", and that's backed by yet another soul searching, deeply emotive "Nothin's Worth Nothin'". This truly incredible, breathtakingly heartfelt album is then brought to a close with "Wonder (For Jonathan)", which compliments, and bows down to Creation for having enabled him to have such as good a son as Jonathan.
A nicely balanced release of 13 tracks together with Friedman's voice sounding as great as ever, means that Shoot The Moon is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening. More than that, you'll beg for it to be on vinyl, for this album fully deserves to be an LP - just to hear it on a turntable, man, now that's what I want for Christmas!
Roger Street Freidman @ Facebook!
'Shoot The Moon' CD Purchase Link
Title - '3 Minutes To Midnight'
Artist - Lawson Rollins
Lawson Rollins, is an award-winning American guitarist and composer from North Carolina noted for his virtuoso fingerstyle technique and melodic compositional skills featured in his recordings.
His music spans is generally classed as Latin jazz and world music, with elements of samba, bossa nova, Middle Eastern music, classical guitar, flamenco, and shred guitar. He often employs fast minor scales and diminished scale solo runs to his compositions which are executed in the flamenco picado style.
Here on his seventh solo album 3 Minutes To Midnight (releasing January 20th, 2017), guitarist and composer Lawson Rollins once again takes the listener on a magical musical journey. Characterized, as always, by an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, Brazilian, and Arabic music fused with Spanish guitar, once the album begins, just that one opening burst of high energy sets the tone for the entire listening experience.
1. "3 Minutes to Midnight"
2. "Light the Way"
3. "Island Time"
5. "Driving Force"
8. "Time Shift"
10. "Split Second"
12. "Mary's Rock"
Opening with the playfully upbeat title track, "3 Minutes to Midnight", listening to Rollins' fingers burn up and down his guitar makes you just marvel more at the man's creative musicianship. The tempo is brought down a little next on "Light the Way", but Rollins' delightful, entrancing guitar styling is none the less intoxicating, of that be sure. "Island Time" is next and is followed by the aptly-titled "Sway" - a track that will have you doing just that as you make your (s)way around your office, home, or even right there in your car seat!
In truth, to an extent, the same can be said of the hypnotic "Driving Force" (which is very apt if you are listening to the track whilst driving), and that's followed by the gentle Latin funk of "Southbound" and then the hipsway, finger-snappin' freeflow melodies of "Stringdance" is upon us. "Timeshift" and "Reveal" are up next, but it's "Split Second" that takes me away here on this album. You only have to close your eyes and you are in bathed in all the Eastern flavors that only a truly gifted musician can conjure up. It is a simply stunning track. The album is then rounding out with both "Eternal" and then the beautiful balladeering of "Mary's Rock".
A nicely balanced release of 12 tracks together with Rollins' exquisite guitar work as great as ever, means that 3 Minutes to Midnight is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening. More than that, you'll beg for it to be on vinyl, for this album fully deserves to be an LP - just to hear it on a turntable, man, now that's what I want for Christmas!
'3 Minutes To Midnight' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Mozart in the Jungle, Season 3'
Artist - Various
For those not in the know, the two-time Golden Globe® and Emmy Award® winning series, 'Mozart in the Jungle', is all about sex, drugs-and classical music - and shows that what happens behind the curtains at the symphony can be just as captivating as what happens on stage.
The half-hour comedic drama series is written by Oscar®-nominated writer and director Roman Coppola, actor and musician Jason Schwartzman, and Tony®-nominated writer and director Alex Timbers and is based on the critically acclaimed memoir 'Mozart in the Jungle' by Blair Tindall.
Season three opens in the midst of a grand Italian adventure with Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal, who won the Best Actor Golden Globe® for his performance) taking on a brand new artistic challenge. Hailey (Lola Kirke) travels across Europe with the Andrew Walsh Ensemble, finding it s not everything that she'd hoped.
Thus, to compose a musical background big enough, strong enough to hold this season high among the watching masses, Sony Masterworks turned to, well, their masters! The soundtrack for Mozart in the Jungle, Season 3 features both standard classical repertoire from Mozart and Beethoven as well as music written especially for the series by contemporary composers Nico Muhly and Missy Mazzoli.
1. Les Filles des Cadix - Ana Marķa Martķnez
2. Pa-Pa-Pa-Papagena! - James Levine
3. No. 2 in E minor (Allegretto grazioso) - George Szell
4. Impromptu (Thomas's piece) - Joshua Bell
5. Don Giovanni, K.527: "Lą ci darem la mano" - Plįcido Domingo
6. Die junge Nonne, D.828 - Ana Marķa Martķnez
7. Fidelio, Op. 72: March from Act I - Sir Colin Davis
8. Allegro aperto - Franēois Leleux
9. A lenda do caboclo - Yo-Yo Ma
10. Amy Fisher - Ana Marķa Martķnez
11. Carmen: Chanson bohčme - Ana Marķa Martķnez
12. Allegro Molto - Adrian Leaper
Indeed, the rather delightful, breathtaking at times soundtrack also includes Joshua Bell, who made an appearance in the second season, plus performances by Yo-Yo Ma, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and other superstars from the classical music world.
The CD comes with an 8-page booklet which contains full page color photos on the pages along with track listing, composer and performer credits.
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Penny Dreadful Seasons 2 & 3'
Artist - Abel Korzeniowski
‘Penny Dreadful’ was a highly-inventive series on Showtime that features some of literature’s most terrifying character, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and other iconic figures from the novel Dracula that are lurking in the darkest corners of Victorian London. A psychological thriller at its heart, composer Abel Korzeniowski (born in Krakow, Poland) has written an incredible work of art to back their every move.
The series premiered on Showtime on May 11th, 2014, the first in an eight-episode season. However, after the third season finale on June 19th, 2016, series creator John Logan announced that Penny Dreadful had ended as the main story had reached its conclusion.
Here on the brilliant 2CD set of Penny Dreadful - Seasons 2 and 3 we get no less that 48 more original scores. Compositions that allow ‘Penny Dreadful’ (starring Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Josh Harnett, etc.) to weave together the aforementioned classic horror origin stories into something that stands proudly alongside; and within the shadows when required.
Disc: 1 - 1. The Unquiet Grave (1:25)
2. Memento Mori (3:53)
3. Verbis Diablo (1:50)
4. Poison (5:51)
5. We Are Dangerous (2:19)
6. Vanessa's Dream (2:46)
7. Ethan's Waltz (1:26)
8. Until The Storm's Past (1:57)
9. The Cutwife of Ballentree Moor (3:41)
10. Joan Clayton (4:00)
11. Killing Sir Geoffrey Hawkes (2:59)
12. Dolls Have Hearts (4:44)
13. Melting Waltz (3:23)
14. Little Deceptions (:58)
15. Gossamer Tennis (1:18)
16. House Of Wax (1:58)
17. Weapon. Ritual. Superstition. (2:11)
18. Ghost Waltz (2:51)
19. Breaking The Spell (1:18)
20. Wallpapers (4:47)
21. Entering The Castle (2:26)
22. Coffins (2:25)
23. Know Your Master (6:04)
24. Little Scorpion (1:17)
25. Be True (3:57)
Disc: 2 - 1. The Master (2:44)
2. New Mexico (4:25)
3. Las Cruces (2:27)
4. Dr. Jekyll (2:26)
5. Madness (2:53)
6. Nocturnal Danger (2:10)
7. False Mirrors (2:14)
8. Guardian Angels (3:16)
9. Common Red Fox (3:03)
10. We Butcher Them (2:01)
11. Us And Our Kin (1:46)
12. Rejection (2:34)
13. Ethan Kills (3:33)
14. White Room (2:57)
15. One Day Soon (1:11)
16. Revelation (6:04)
17. House Of The Night Creatures (4:17)
18. Such Is Our Power, Such Is Our Kingdom (2:41)
19. All Light Will End (2:50)
20. Werewolves (2:14)
21. Let It End (6:43)
22. Boat to Africa (4:41)
23. Explorer's Club (Season One Bonus Track) (2:54)
As composer Abel Korzeniowski (‘W.E’, ‘A Single Man’) has himself said, “The themes of Penny Dreadful represent both different characters and abstract ideas,” and that is a brilliant way to sum up this lush work of musical art.
From the off, and the main title of season 2, ‘The Unquiet Grave,’ it’s obvious that the theme of ‘Penny Dreadful’ is one of a meaningful study of Victorian London. A study of dark beauty, something that can be terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time, such tracks as ‘The Cutwife of Ballentree Moore,’ ‘Melting Waltz,’ ‘Little Deceptions,’ and from the third season, opening composition ‘The Master’, 'We Butcher Them', 'Such Is Our Power', and both 'Werewolves' and the haunting 'Let It End', immediately pull you into the world where these characters exist.
One of the most unusual Gothic horror stories to hit TV since ‘American Horror Story,’ Korzeniowski’s soundtrack lingers long on the mind; long after you have stopped it playing!
Title - 'Outlander: Season 2' (Original TV Soundtrack)
Artist - Bear McCreary
'Outlander' is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. Developed by Ronald D. Moore and produced by Sony Pictures Television and Left Bank Pictures for Starz, the show premiered on August 9th, 2014.
It stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, a married World War II nurse who in 1945 finds herself transported back to the Scotland of 1743, where she encounters the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings.
Here on the excellent follow up to Season One's score, which Bear also did, of course, I honestly think that he has exceeded all my expectations! In truth, and in my own humble opinion, I believe this one is even better than Season One. Then again, I love the show and I love the music Bear brings alive so I might be slightly biased, I guess.
These incredible 22 compositions gives the listener nearly 90 minutes worth of quality music to lose themselves within (so, perhaps don't be driving when you listen to this CD!) Bear’s due diligence in extensively researching music from both 1740’s France and of the Jacobite era is apparent in each and every note, which has been perfectly placed and played.
Also included with this CD is a photo-booklet where Bear has written a beautiful explanation of how composing the scores for 'Outlander' affected him both personally and professionally, making him a better musician. Again, and maybe I've actually overstated this by now (sorry), but I now own both Season One and Season Two scores, but there’s something magical, nay mystical about this one.
Title - 'Hairspray LIVE! Original NBC Soundtrack'
Artist - Various
If this passed you by (and shame on you if it did!), on December 7th, 2016 NBC embarked on its latest musical holiday tradition: Hairspray LIVE! A 3-hour live event production based on the Grammy Award® and Tony Award®-winning Best Musical broadway show (2002) and the Golden Globe® nominated movie musical (2007).
Hairspray LIVE! takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Plump teenager Tracy Turnblad's dream is to dance on "The Corny Collins Show," a local TV program. When against all odds Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters, including the resident dreamboat, Link; the ambitious mean girl, Amber; an African American boy she meets in detention, Seaweed; and his mother, Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a local record store. Tracy's mother is the indomitable Edna, and she eventually encourages Tracy on her campaign to integrate the all-white "Corny Collins Show."
Hairspray LIVE! stars exciting newcomer Maddie Baillio, Dove Cameron, Kristin Chenoweth, Garrett Clayton, Harvey Fierstein (recreating his Tony Award®-winning performance), Ariana Grande, Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short, Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph, with special appearances by Billy Eichner, Sean Hayes, Andrea Martin and Rosie O'Donnell.
The cast is phenomenal. Newcomer Maddie Baillio has a nice voice and performs well as the show's lead. From the original Broadway cast, Harvey Fierstein reprises his tony-award winning role as Edna Turnblad and he's just as enjoyable and fun to listen to as he was back in 2002. Kristin Chenoweth is right combination of nasty and over-the-top as Velma Von Tussle.
Having only known him for his dancing, I was pleasantly surprised by Derek Hough's abilities as a singer. I'm not a fan of Arianna Grande (nothing wrong with her, her music just isn't for me), but I couldn't help but feel she was a perfect fit for the role of Penny. And, above everyone else, Jennifer Hudson shines as Motormouth Maybelle. Her powerhouse voice makes her the highlight of this WONDERFUL, and colorful soundtrack.
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'A Man And His Guitar, Live From The Franklin'
Artist - Travis Tritt
For those not in the know, James Travis Tritt is an American country music singer, songwriter, and actor. He signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1989, releasing seven studio albums and a greatest hits package for the label between then and 1999. In the 2000s, he released two albums on Columbia Records and one for the defunct Category 5 Records.
Indeed, seven of his albums (and yes, that is counting the Greatest Hits) are certified platinum or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); the highest-certified is 1991's It's All About to Change, which is certified triple-platinum.
Tritt has also charted more than 40 times on the Hot Country Songs charts, including five number ones — "Help Me Hold On," "Anymore," "Can I Trust You with My Heart," "Foolish Pride", and "Best of Intentions" — and 15 additional top ten singles.
The man who has received two Grammy Awards, both for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: in 1992 for "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," a duet with Marty Stuart, and again in 1998 for "Same Old Train", a collaboration with Stuart and nine other artists, and who has received four awards from the Country Music Association, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1992, may have always had his musical style defined by mainstream country and Southern rock influences, but wow, what a career - and what a man, in general (as anyone who's ever met him).
Having released The Calm After... (2013), here in 2016 we now get a really wonderful double act of music and visual Tritt entertainment (although sold separately) on A Man And His Guitar, Live From The Franklin Theatre. Sold as a 2-CD set or a lovely DVD, the new musical performance package showcases one of the worlds greatest country stars, alone, perched on a stool, solo with his guitar, and still at his best.
Disc 1: 1. “It’s All About the Money” (Donny Kees, Jody Harris)
2. “Where Corn Don’t Grow” (Mark Alan Springer, Roger Murrah)
3. “The Pressure Is On” (Hank Williams, Jr.)
4. “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” (Jill Colucci, Stewart Harris)
5. “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man” [with James Otto] (Kostas)
6. “Country Club” (Catesby Jones, Dennis Lord)
7. “Country Ain’t Country” (Carson Chamberlain, Casey Beatherd, Teresa Boaz)
8. “500 Miles Away From Home” (Bobby Bare, Charles Williams, Hedy West)
9. “Here’s a Quarter” (Travis Tritt)
10. “Best of Intentions” (Travis Tritt)
11. “Drift Off to Dream” (Travis Tritt, Stewart Harris)
12. “Help Me Hold On” (Travis Tritt, Pat Terry)
Disc 2: 1. “Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” [with Marty Stuart] (Ronny Scaife, Marty Stuart)
2. “Pickin’ at It” [with Marty Stuart] (Travis Tritt)
3. “Come and Go Blues” (Gregg Allman)
4. “Anymore” (Travis Tritt, Jill Colucci)
5. “I Walk the Line” (Johnny Cash)
6. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” (Waylon Jennings)
7. “A Long Time Ago” (Waylon Jennings, Shel Silverstein)
8. “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (Patsy Bruce, Ed Bruce)
9. “Lone Wolf” (Hank Williams, Jr.)
10. “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” (Darrell Scott)
11. “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” (Jerry Chestnut)
12. “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde” (Walt Aldridge, James LeBlanc)
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, Travis Tritt" are the words that open the recording, and after a subtle, quietly acknowledged "Thank you" back from Tritt, he settles onto his stool and eases into "It's All About The Money", which he backs up with both "Where Corn Don't Grow" and "The Pressure Is On".
As the album title reveals, the shows was recorded at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tenn., during an unplugged solo concert for all his fans. A Man and His Guitar brings forth more hits and favorite album tracks, such as "I'm Gonna Be Somebody", "300 Miles away From Home", "Help Me Hold On", and even some brilliant covers such as "I Walk The Line" and a stunning Waylon Tribute Medley.
Also including personal stories from Tritt about his life and influences, and what he has learned during his long and successful career in the country music world, we get to listen to Marty Stuart joining Tritt on the second CD. Joining him on such songs as “Pickin’ at It” as well as for “Whiskey Ain’t Workin’,” James Otto also helps out on “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man.”
A nicely balanced release of 24 tracks together with Tritt's still remarkable voice sounding as great as ever, means that A Man And His Guitar, Live At The Franklin Theatre is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening. More than that, you'll beg for it to be on vinyl, for this album fully deserves to be an LP - just to hear it on a turntable, man, now that's what I want for Christmas!
Travis Tritt @ Twitter!
Travis Tritt @ Facebook!
Title - 'Unplugged - Live at Muhle Hunziken' [CD/DVD]
Artist - Philipp Fankhauser & Margie Evans
For those not in the know, Philipp Manuel Fankhauser is a Swiss blues musician and songwriter. Indeed, several of his albums have charted in the top ten of the Swiss hit parade, such as Love Man Riding, which peaked at No. 7, Home, which peaked at No. 2, Try My Love, which peaked at No. 3, and even this brand new collaborative live album with Margie Evans, which peaked at No. 4.
Released in February 2016, this incredible album Unplugged - Live at Mühle Hunziken is a joyful reunion between two musical souls who have grown up in awe of each other. Indeed, Evans even agreed to be a guest star on his first album, the self-titled Philipp Fankhauser.
This CD (and DVD) set was recorded over three sold-out nights at the famed Mühle Hunziken in Rubigen, Switzerland and showcases two immense musical talents at the top of their collective games.
1. "If You Ain't Been to Houston" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
2. "Going to Dallas" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
3. "Too Little Too Late" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
4. "Try My Love" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
5. "Home Town (Thun)" [Live] - Philipp Fankhauser
6. "I Got a Love" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
7. "Love Man Riding" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
8. "God Bless the Child" (Live) - Margie Evans
9. "Drowning in the Sea of Love" (Live) - Margie Evans
10. "I'll Be Around" (Live) - Margie Evans
11. "Stop & Forgive" (Live) - Margie Evans
12. "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
13. "Everyday I Have the Blues" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
14. "Time for Christ" (Live) - Margie Evans
15. "Members Only" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
The performance(s)-to-have-been-at concert begins with Fankhauser on "If You Ain't Been to Houston", which he blends smoothly into both ""Going to Dallas" and the soul-searching, heart wrenching "Too Little Too Late". "Try My Love" is then followed by the upbeat, slow blues funk of "Home Town (Thun)", and next come both "I Got a Love" and "Love Man Riding".
A stunning performance of "God Bless the Child" is backed by "Drowning in the Sea of Love", which has its very own old school Motown feel to it; which I found to be delightful. A stand out track here on an album chock full of gems, that's backed by the slow Gospel ballad "I'll Be Around". Complete with soul searching lyrics, that's followed by "Stop & Forgive", before the fun these two have back and forth on "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You" comes to the fore. One of my own personal favorites here, in truth, their playful tit-for-tat's of adoration and love for one another are perfect.
That's backed by the uptempo, finger-snappin' smokey jazz club feel of "Everyday I Have the Blues", which in turn is followed by the piano-led Evans solo, "Time for Christ". Fankhauser then brings the musical roadshow to a close with an exquisite "Members Only" ("Don't being your check book, bring your broken heart. It's members only tonight"), which rounds this album off perfectly.
The DVD has all those aforementioned tracks on it and also lovingly adds three bonus tracks: The throaty, deep down torment of "Trouble Trouble" is breathtaking, as is the duet with Fankhauser on the Evans-led "Let's Straighten It Out". The other track, and indeed the actual show closer on the DVD is "Nature Song (Life's Rainbow)" and the DVD even has a Special Feature with regard a Behind the Scenes look at both artists and the show.
A nicely balanced release of 15 album tracks (with regard the CD), together with both Fankhauser and Evans' vocals sounding as great as ever, means that Unplugged - Live at Muhle Hunziken is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening. More than that, you'll beg for it to be on vinyl, for this album fully deserves to be an LP - just to hear it on a turntable, man, now that's what I want for Christmas!
Margie Evans, vocals - Philipp Fankhauser, vocals and acoustic guitar - Marco Jencarelli, acoustic guitar - Hendrix Ackle, acoustic piano and Wurlitzer - Angus Thomas, acoustic bass - Richard Spooner, drums - Lukas Thoeni, trumpet and flugelhorn - Thomi Geiger, tenor saxophone.
'Unplugged' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'The First Of A Million Kisses: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Fairground Attraction
For those not in the know, Fairground Attraction were a British folk and soft rock band. They are best known for their hit song 'Perfect' and the subsequent single 'Find My Love', and for helping to launch the career of lead vocalist Eddi Reader.
Based around the brilliant songwriting of founder Mark Nevin and the remarkable voice of Reader, Fairground Attraction established themselves overnight as one of the UK's most popular bands of the late 1980s with the release of the classic single 'Perfect' and it's parent (and only) album The First Of A Million Kisses - 1989's Brit Awards Album Of The Year.
The First Of A Million Kisses is now reissued and expanded (oh boy, is it ever expanded) this January 16th, 2017 via Cherry Red Records (UK). Including nine (9) previously unreleased recordings - four previously unreleased songs and five demos - and eight (8) other non-album tracks only previously issued on long out of print Live In Japan release, this 2-CD set is a must-have for all fans of the band.
Compiled with songwriter and bandleader Mark Nevin the sleeve notes include interviews with both Mark Nevin and singer Eddi Reader. Inclusive also of a bunch of rarely-heard 7" single B-sides (remember them!), this immense, and highly warranted 2-CD collection begins gently with the soothing sway of 'A Smile In A Whisper' and backs it with the aforementioned number one hit single, 'Perfect'. The finger-snappin' song that reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in 1988, even today when listened back to is as fresh-sounding, as joyous, as vibrant, as hopeful as it was back all those years ago.
The lovely, Irish storytelling behind 'Moon On The Rain' is next and is followed by both subtle mid-tempo 'Find My Love' and then the song from whence their name originated, 'Fairground Attraction'. The vocal range of Reader is brought to the fore on the beautiful 'The Wind Knows My Name', which is backed by the upbeat, New Orleans jazz flow of 'Clare', the laid back memories of 'Comedy Waltz', and then both another finger-snappin' track in 'The Moon Is Mine' and the slow burn of 'Station Street'. Next up, and rounding out the original album, are the love story pairing of both 'Whispers' and 'Allelujah'.
Bringing together a unique blend of folk, jazz, country, and cajun elements, and inclusive of ten songs intended for its follow-up (for, and sadly, this was the only album released by the band before their break-up in 1990), the bonus tracks on the first disc continue the Fairground Attraction vibe just perfectly. First we get 'Falling Backwards', then comes the beautiful 'Mythology', before the family struggles brought forth within 'Trying Times'. One of my own personal favorites is the upbeat, Latinesque vibe of 'Winter Rose' where the instruments are given the floor, Reader's vocals acting much like backing vocals.
For 'Ay Fond Kiss' we get back to the ethereal vocal performance stance from Reader, before heading into 'You Send Me', the guitar-flirty 'Watching the Party'. The first disc is this incredible double album then comes to a close with the haunting medieval lyrical flirtation of 'Jock O' Hazeldean' and then the slow blues and snare drum appeal of 'The Game of Love'.
The second disc opens with the under-two-minutes long, almost solo acoustic 'Mystery Train', before heading into a stunning Beatles cover, 'Do You Want to Know a Secret?' Wow, what a delightfully beautiful, just perfect rendition it is and not one I'd ever heard from them before now. Next up is a live snapshot of the band from their Japan dates ('The Waltz Continues', 'Don't Be a Stranger', 'Dangerous', 'I Know Why the Willow Weeps', 'Home to Heartache', 'Fear Is the Enemy of Love', 'Broken By a Breeze', 'Goodbye to Songtown' - before a select run of Demo's are loving remastered for our listening pleasure.
With their collective instrumentation mainly acoustic, but in part inclusive of a double bass and basic, non-intrusive rhythmic percussion, all overlaid by Nevin's tight, clean and distinctive guitar solos, those kick off with 'I May Never Be Queen', 'Prayer To St Valentine', 'Swing Trumpet' and then ebb seamlessly into 'Red Ribbon', 'Find My Love', 'Mythology' and 'Station Street'. This 19 track second disc then comes to a close with both 'The Moon Is Mine' and a stunning cover of American country music artist Patsy Cline's recorded 'Walking After Midnight (Version)'.
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Naked Radio'
Artist - Pink Fairies
For those not in the know, the Pink Fairies are an English rock band initially active in the London (Ladbroke Grove) underground and psychedelic scene of the early 1970s. They promoted free music, drug taking and anarchy and often performed impromptu gigs and other agitprop stunts, such as playing for free outside the gates at the Bath and Isle of Wight pop festivals in 1970, as well as appearing at Phun City, the first Glastonbury and many other free festivals including Windsor and Trentishoe.
Well, the wait for something new from the legendary Pink Fairies is now over, because they are releasing their brand new album - the first in over three decades - this January. Entitled Naked Radio and released via Gonzo Multimedia, it is the first studio recording by the majority of this line-up of the band since Kill Em and Eat Em in 1987.
Fronted by Andy Colquhoun, who shared guitar duties with Larry Wallis on this album and was also the legendary late Mick Farren’s long-time MD and collaborator in The Deviants, the band reformed in 2013. Joining Andy on guitar and echoing their original twin drummer line-up, is George Butler from the “Previously Unreleased” EP replacing the long-departed John Alder. Also featured is Brighton chanteuse and percussionist Jaki Windmill.
Indeed, the Pink Fairies also played a selected number of UK shows through 2014 and 2015 and now much to the excitement of Pink Fairies fans worldwide, the new album Naked Radio - which was brought together via a Pledge Music campaign - is now available to order.
1. Golden Bud
2. The Hills Are Burnin'
3. Runnin' Outa Road
4. When the Movie's All Thru
5. I Walk Away
6. You Lied to Me
7. Midnite Crisis
8. Stopped at the Border
10. Down to the Wire
11. Skeleton Army
13. Naked Radio
14. Deal Deal
In truth, this brand new album (their fifth studio album) from the Pink Fairies could also be simply construed as one mighty acid drop flashback to an era of music long gone, but it is so much more than that. For it is also a must-have for all true lovers of music. It is heartfelt, it is raw, and it is, for the most part, a musical showcase that defies time.
Having played a lot of these tracks live back in 2015 and 2016, the band have also fully admitted that out of all 14 of the tracks they like the title track 'Naked Radio' the best. And, to be quite fair, it does stand out as being one of the more fully rounded from the quintet.
Inclusive of three songs culled from the late Mick Farren-written lyrics - 'Naked Radio', 'Skeleton Army' and ' When the Movie's All Thru' (sung by Andy Colquhoun) - it's been 45 years since their very first studio album, nearly 30 years since their last album, and, well, it's as if they never left the recording studio. Sure their sound might not be as hectic as it once was, especially in the drumming department, but the Pink Fairies still know how to recreate a musical moment in time here on Naked Radio.
Drummer Russell Hunter has also admitted he doesn't think there will ever be another Pink Fairies album after this one so my advice would be to buy this new album, hopefully on its pink vinyl 2LP set via Pledge Music, put the needle down, and just let the wondrous spirit of upbeat, good-time rock and roll-fused psychedelia '70s sounds all sink (back) in.
'Naked Radio' - Official Video
Pledge Music Campaign Link
Title - 'NOW That's What I Call Music! Vol. 61'
Artist - Various
As expected as both snow and sun (well, at least here in Michigan) on a yearly basis, the world's best-selling, multi-artist series NOW That's What I Call Music! is back with its 61st edition. Although, if truth be told, the idea was stolen / borrowed from the UK, as they are on about their 90th version of the series, it just means they are now older than the US, that's all! [Which, in general, we all already knew!]
All that malarkey aside, 'NOW That's What I Call Music! 61' is yet another jam-packed 16 track party animal, including chart dance floor and ballad hits from THE biggest stars to hit our radios most recently. That and the fact that, as seems to be their own growing custom, Sony Music Entertainment have included as an added bonus six (6) new tracks from what they claim to be "hot up and coming artists!"
We kick-off with the BRILLIANT '24k Magic' from Bruno Mars, before heading into Maroon 5 featuring Kendrick Lamar's 'Don't Wanna Know', a cut that always gets me groovin' here in the office. Next up is 'Scars to Your Beautiful' from Alessia Cara, and that's backed by both 'Side To Side' from Arianna Grande featuring Nicki Minaj and DJ Snake featuring Justin Bieber on the highly addictive 'Let Me Love You'.
The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk with 'Starboy' is one of the true highlights here, and that's followed by 'Black Beatles' (Rae Sremmurd featuring Gucci Mane), 'Broccoli' (D.R.A.M. featuring Lil Yachty), and both 'Juju on that Beat' from Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall, and then the always-great-to-listen-to 'That's My Girl' from Fifth Harmony.
'All Time Low' from Jon Bellion is next, and that's backed by both 'In The Name Of Love' from Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha and Hey Violet's fun rampage 'Guys My Age'. The massive hit single of the year 'Treat You Better' from the massive breakout artist of the year, Shawn Mendes is next, and then the hit parade comes to a close with both 'This Town' from Niall Horan and gnash featuring Olivia O'Brien on 'I Hate U, I Love U'.
The six (6) songs that now make up the end of this compilation, tracks that Sony Music Entertainment hope will be "tomorrow's biggest hits" are: Citizen Four with 'Testify', Dagny featuring BŲRNS on 'Fool's Gold', Jojo featuring Wiz Khalifa with the brilliant 'No Apologies', then come 'Burn Break Crash' (Aanysa X Snakehips), 'Alaska (Maggie Rogers), and the rather impressive 'Old School' from Urban Cone.
Title - 'NOW That's What I Call 90s Pop'
Artist - Various
This brand new CD collection of 'NOW That's What I Call 90s Pop' (not to be confused with the previously-released 'NOW That's What I Call The 90s' compilation from 2010, is a collection of what Sony believe to have been the best, brightest, longstanding with regard the chart test of life tracks by various artists.
Containing a superb mix of various well known, and oft times beloved pop songs from the 1990’s, this 18 song set is streamlined, sure, but at the same time just perfect to slip into your car CD player and let loose on - your roof top off, or simply all windows down.
We kick-off with one of the 90s all-time musical dancefloor champions, 'Gettin' Jiggy Wit It' from Will Smith, and that's backed by both '... Baby One More Time' from Britney Spears and then the stunning 'Genie In A Bottle' from Christina Aguilera.
Next up is Brandy & Monica's 'The Boy Is Mine' (more R&B flavored, but ok), and that is followed by 'Waterfalls' from TLC, 'Whatta Man' (from Salt-N-Pepa featuring En Vogue), 'Motownphilly' from Boyz II Men, and then both 'Posion' from Bell Bov Defoe and (a new one on me!) 'Rumpshaker' from Wreckx-N-Effect.
As you can see, this middle section of the release has definitely mined the R&B, Soul and Rap sections of the hit parade throughout that decade, and I can think of a whole bunch of other deserved, and real pop songs in said decade that could have replaced them, but Sony is stretching its wings far and wide over genres here to appease everyone - which I can understand, sure.
Next up is Bobby Brown's funky 'Humpin' Around' and that's backe dby one of the stand out tracks of that decade, let alone music in general, C+C Music Factory's mighty fine 'Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)'. Featuring Freedom Williams on vocals, it is still a massive song on the dance floor today.
Then comes 'This Is How We Do It' from Montell Jordan, before we leave that mid section of R&B, Soul and Rap for the more poppier side of the 90s, as Everything But The Girl's 'Missing (Todd Terry Remix) and Sheryl Crow's 'All I Wanna Do' (love the video for this track, due to her new hair style at that time) come forth.
The CD is then rounded out by the always-highly-fun, but quickly annoying 'MMMBop' from Hanson, Ricky Martin's brilliant Latin-flavored 'Livin' La Vida Loca', the New Kids On The Block with 'Step By Step', and then finally, bringing it all home just perfectly, the Backstreet Boys with 'I Want It That Way'.
Title - 'The Classics' [Sony Classical]
Artist - Hans Zimmer
For those not in the know, Hans Zimmer is a German composer and record producer. Since the 1980s, he has composed music for over 150 films. His works include The Lion King, for which he won Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1994, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Thin Red Line, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar.
Indeed, Zimmer spent the early part of his career in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States. He is the head of the film music division at DreamWorks studios and works with other composers through the company that he founded, Remote Control Productions.
For his brand new release, aptly entitled 'The Classics', Zimmer along with his label, Sony Classical chose some well-known artists from their roster and had them join the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for 12 “cues” – four minute or so pieces that formed themes in films like “Gladiator”, “The Dark Night”, “Man of Steel” (the Superman-related film without a John Williams score), “The Lion King” (the “This Land” theme, not the songs you hum), “Inception”, and “Interstellar”.
A daring, yet enterprising endeavor, whilst much of the music among the 12 tracks has a slow, classical rhythm, the excerpt from the “Interstellar” score builds and builds and then ... well, it abruptly ends! Being that it's actually also the last track on the album, it's much like the sound a recording would make if it ran out of tape!
A 58 minute journey into the mind, and soul of Hans Zimmer, 'The Classics' is an hours worth of pure, unadulterated, wordless music that - if you allow it to - will transport you through time and space. Also, it should be noted that the CD has an 8-page booklet, with three of the pages filled with brief notes on each track. Lovely.
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Title - 'Rockeando El Pavimento'
Artist - Lujuria
Lujuria are one of the hardest working bands from Spain! Hitting the road once more with a full slate of shows starting in early 2017, Lujuria will be bringing their brand new and specialized brand of erotically charged metal to the stage to play live also.
Indeed, the espańol band Lujuria (translated “Lust”) who formed in 1993 last brought out a full-length album in 2012 entitled Sexurrección, so this new one Rockeando El Pavimento (out now on Cleopatra Records) has been long awaited, of that have no doubt.
The album kicks off in high flying guitar style with 'Autopista', which for me is quite easily one of my favorite tracks on the album. The pace, the energy is amazing and even though they sing in Spanish, you kinda know what they are trying to lyrically say regardless. The English-sung 'Feel So High' could have been recorded in the heyday of metal, it's just that good too, and that's backed by both 'Bar Whisky Bar' and the dark 'Cabaret 11 AM'
Next up is the funky 'Caceria' which is followed by '24', the ballad 'Down', and then both the early NY punk sounds of 'Dr. Brujo' and the fast-paced speeding train of 'Desertor'. Containing a touch of G N' R, next up is the playful hipsway of 'Intravenus', which is backed by the guitar-lickin' 'Ira'. This rich album is then rounded out by the pop rock of 'Ritual', the thunderous rock of 'Viernes Oscuro' and then finally the scream and shout of 'Voltios'.
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Title - 'Burston'
Artist - Segregates
OK, for those not in the know, Segregates are a power trio (Smell - Bass; Dr. J. Horn - Guitar; and Filthy Deviant Bilo - Drum) out of the UK (York, if you would like to be more precise) whose debut album is a perfect fit for fans of Motörhead, punk, and chaos! Indeed, the band have already shared the stage with longtime Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell!
This incredible, and I don't use that word lightly here, Motörhead-inspired band/debut album kicks off with the ferocious 'Segreates', which is followed by the rock-pop metal sound of 'Rock 'N' Roll' and then the bass-led pairing of both 'Living Nightmare' and 'Miss 'B' Havin'.
The thunderous, and guitar-heavy 'Let Battle Commence' is one of my own personal favorites out of the eleven, but then it backs it up with another brilliant, enthusiastic track in 'Traitor Collaborator'. With a vibrating depth of bass line and some controlled speed drumming we next get 'Sweet Vengeance' and with none of the tracks being that long, 'Stay Awake' and 'Step Aside' are quickly up next.
The power chords never stop, the Motörhead vibe as strong, as honorable as it was at the start, and so it's no surprise to learn that 'No Regrets' sounds like its straight out of the Lemmy songbook from back in the day. Truly, no word of a lie. Just listen to it yourselves. Then both 'Turn It Loose' and the album closer, an actual Motörhead cover of 'Riding With The Driver' featuring Tim Atkinson on bass round out the musical adventure.
Trust me, once this album has finished, especially that last track, if you don't reach for your Motörhead vinyl LPs and throw them on, inspired by Segregates' incredible likeness, well, Lemmy will judge you thereafter, sorry!
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Title - 'Before I Forget: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Jon Lord
For those not in the know, and shame on you if you fall into that category, Jon Lord was an English composer, pianist, and Hammond organ player known for his pioneering work in fusing rock with classical or baroque forms, especially with Deep Purple, as well as Whitesnake, Paice Ashton Lord, The Artwoods, and The Flower Pot Men.
In 1968, Lord co-founded Deep Purple, a hard rock band of which he was regarded as the leader until 1970. Together with the other members, he collaborated on most of his band's most popular songs. He and drummer Ian Paice were the only continuous presence in the band during the period from 1968 to 1976, and also from when it was reestablished in 1984 until Lord's retirement from Deep Purple in 2002.
Following Deep Purple's split in 1976, Lord joined Whitesnake for their 1978 debut Trouble. Personally, Lord's time, along with drummer Cozy Powell has always been my favorite era of Whitesnake. I saw them live twice back in the UK with both Lord and Powell and Neil Murray and Bernie Marsden all combining to ensure that Coverdale's vocals were backed by an undercurrent of blues rock. It was an incredible time for the band, for the artists, and well before all that MTV pop-video song nonsense!
Anyway, I digress for Before I Forget was originally released on Harvest Records in June 1982, at around the very same time that Lord was moonlighting from said gig with Whitesnake. Featuring a highly impressive cast of supporting musicians, including Whitesnake's aforementioned Bernie Marsden and Neil Murray on guitar and bass respectively, drumming legends Ian Paice (Deep Purple and Whitesnake), the aforementioned drum God Cozy Powell (Jeff Beck, Rainbow, Whitesnake, MSG & Black Sabbath) and Simon Philips (Judas Priest, Jeff Beck, MSG, Mike Oldfield and Toto), Before I Forget has now been digitally remastered and turned into an Expanded Edition via Cherry Red Records in the UK.
1. 'Chance on a Feeling'
2. 'Tender Babes'
3. 'Hollywood Rock and Roll'
4. 'Bach Onto This'
5. 'Before I Forget'
6. 'Say It's All Right'
8. 'Where Are You?'
9. 'Going Home (7" B-Side)'
10. 'Ravel's Pavane (Outtake)'
11. 'Bach Onto This (7" Single Edit)'
13. 'For a Friend'
Before I Forget is an incredible album, featuring a largely conventional eight-song line-up, no orchestra, no huff no puff. In truth, the bulk of the songs are either mainstream rock tracks or, specifically on the vinyl flip side, a series of very English classical piano ballads (sung by mother and daughter duo, Vicki Brown and Sam Brown - wife and daughter of entertainer Joe Brown) along with vocalist Elmer Gantry.
The album starts with the free flowing Hammond Organ delight 'Chance On A Feeling' that showcases all that Lord was musically good at in one easy-going moment. The atmospheric 'Tender Babes' (especially at the start) is a cross between Christchurch at Dawn and a day out at a Renaissance Festival, and that's backed by the oh-so funky 'Hollywood Rock and Roll'. One of my own personal favorites here, the track is just a delight to hear and replay over and over.
'Bach Onto This' is the most orchestrated of any of the tracks, his Hammond organ playing taking him, and us to whole new levels of appreciation and wonderment. The longest track also, at a staggering eight minutes, it is backed by the title track itself, 'Before I Forget'. More gentle, forlorn piano work than electronic Hammond, Lord's soul is opened up on this cut, of that have no doubt. As aforementioned, this vinyl flip side tones down all that Hammond key play, especially here on 'Say It's All Right', his duet with Vicky Brown.
'Burntwood' is not like the others, as they say, for it is a stirring, sea swept encounter with Earth as could only ever be musically visualized through the eyes of Lord himself. From the very first key stroke to it's illuminating end, the track is one of the ages. The original album then comes to a close with 'Where Are You?' which features, in a renowned way also, not just my humble opinion, one of the best piano ballads ever. Containing a truly beautiful melody along with guest vocalist Elmer Gantry, it's a stunning way to bring the album to a close.
This Expanded Edition of Before I Forget continues onward with 'Going Home' (7" B-Side), a rather upbeat, soaring, and at times funky cut that shows us just how good B-Sides really were back in the day (FYI: It was the B-Side to 'Bach Onto This'). Myself, I loved B-Sides, for not many people ever flipped over their prized 7" single more than once to hear what else said artist might have had to say. Next up is the a beautiful, oh my God so beautiful 'Ravel's Pavane' (Outtake) which is as breathtakingly mesmerizing to listen to today as I'm sure it was back then.
Next up is 'Bach Onto This' (7" Single Edit), the delightfully playful 'Lady', and then this wonderful Before I Forget: Expanded Edition comes to a close with the near seven minute long piano ballad 'For A Friend.' Haunting as much as it is beautiful, the track is a true gem in and unto itself and fully deserves to be the culminating track here on this Expanded Edition.
FYI: The full color booklet contains contemporary photos from the release of the album and liner notes from bassist Neil Murray.
'Before I Forget: Expanded Edition' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Midnight Highway'
Artist - Quinn Sullivan
For those not in the know, and shame on you if you fall into that category, Quinn Sullivan is a 17 year-old American singer and guitarist from New Bedford, Massachusetts. He began taking guitar lessons at age three and went on to study his chosen profession with Brian Cass of The Overclock Orchestra and the Toe Jam Puppet Band as well as Stan Belmarce.
Indeed, the first original song he wrote with Chris Waters was titled "Sing, Dance, Clap Your Hands" which gave him the platform to garner his very first national media attention at age six when he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Things just got better and better for him as next he was asked by Buddy Guy to come up on stage and play during a performance at the Zeiterion Theater in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 2007.
His incredible ride didn't end there for Quinn then made a guest appearance on Buddy Guy's Grammy-nominated album Skin Deep. Released in 2008, his solo can be heard on the track “Who's Gonna Fill Those Shoes."
Along with having performed on stage with Buddy Guy as well, in July of 2009 he performed alongside B.B. King and in July of that same year he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He was also featured on NBC's The Today Show. Later that same year he opened for Buddy Guy on his East Coast tour, played his own set at the summer music festival Lollapalooza, and even had a slot on the Austin City Limits Festival that October.
His single, 'Summer of Love,' was released in 2009 with his debut album, Cyclone having come out in February 2011. He went on tour in the summer of that year with Buddy Guy to promote it. Going on to play such venues as both Austin City Limits Music Festival and BB King's Blues Club in New York City in 2011, he released his sophomore album Getting There in 2013, and now has brought out his third album, Midnight Highway via Provogue Records here in 2017.
Having listened to the previous two albums, it's easy to note that Quinn's songwriting and vocal delivery have both cultivated themselves, for the opening track 'Something For Me' is as raw, as down and dirty (vibe wise) as anything he's brought forth. The pop sense of 'Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming' runs in the opposite direction to that lead track, and that's backed by the dreamy mid-tempo guitar, title track ballad 'Midnight Highway.'
Some uptempo fun comes to the fore next in 'Crazy Into You', which actually manages to stand out here very nicely amongst a 13 track album of various lyrical strengths. The gentle guitar playing of 'Eyes For You' is an album filler, and 'Lifting Off' sounds like a '90s track from an up and coming British band. Another slow ballad is next in the form of 'She Gets Me', which is itself followed by the much better uptempo guitar fest 'Rocks', before we're back into ballad territory with 'Going.'
As you might well be able to distinguish for yourselves right around this point, Quinn seems to love his ballad abilities, and that's just fine, truly, but they are just storming the castle here - too many at too frequent a-times. For my money, and also from the words spoken to me by others that tuned into this CD listening experience here in the office, Quinn finds his musical mark on the blues rock sounds - both vocally and guitar wise. He is just so much more notably at home on those upbeat tracks, much more so than the contrived balladeer work.
Next up, and to prove my point, the brilliantly funky 'Graveyard Stone' picks the album off the floor and breathes life back into it, but that doesn't last for long as the piano-led 'Big Sky' instantly quietens things right back down again. A lovely track, sure, no question, but sandwiched between the rock of 'Graveyard Stone' and a (vocally stunning) cover of George Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', it's just an odd placement choice. The album then rounds out with some stand alone showcasing guitar work on 'Buffalo Nickel'.
Produced by multiple Grammy winner Tom Hambridge, who also does double duty as Quinn's studio and road drummer, this third album will stand the test of time, sure, but when Buddy Guy tells you to "go for it", well, I'm guessing he means take the genre by the tail and swing it as hard and as fast as possible to see what spills out! Quinn has still yet to do that here on Midnight Highway, but the signs are good that if he can follow through on Guy's words, that his future recordings will be taken very seriously.
'Midnight Highway' CD / LP / MP3 Purchase Links
Title - 'Womack Style'
Artist - Binky Womack
For those not in the know, and shame on you if you fall into that category, Womack Style is the latest album project from Binky Womack, a member of one of the most iconic music families of all time.
Binky has his own studio in Burbank, California (The Ear Hole Recording Studio) and acts as a producer to many top line artists. He also has a publishing company, Bindelari Music, which is represented by World Domination Music for the world excluding North America. Bindelari is also the vehicle for new acts such as Jae, as well as Binky's own material.
The majority of the songs found here on the eclectic Womack Style are originals by Binky. And so, with all instruments being played by him and overall production in his hands, this is truly “Womack Style” music.
First up is the hard funk groove of 'Sunday Morning', and that's followed by both the smooth R&B flow of 'Just Enough' and the methodical, staggered vocal harmonies of 'Nobody Loves Me Like You'. The rock edge of 'Me and My Guitar', a track that allows Binky to slip easily into other genres of music other than his comfort zone is next.
'Malibu Nights' recounts romantic nights with the sand beneath their feet, whilst the R&B, finger-clicking late night soul of 'Love Addict' shows yet another side to Binky. That's followed by both 'Must Be Nice' and then the hipsway sing-along 'When You're Wrong'.
Another superb showcase for Binky's voice, that's backed by my own personal favorite track on this album, the stunning, simply stunning 'Gravity'. The soulful R&B ballad 'I'm In Love' is next, and then the album comes to a close with a raucous pair of guitar-led, and uber pumped tracks: 'Love Is' and then, backed by some pulsating guitar work, 'Put Something Down on It'.
'Womack Style' CD Purchase Link
Binky Womack @ Twitter!
Title - 'Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works'
Artist - Max Richter
For those not in the classical know, Max Richter is a German-born, British composer who has spearheaded a renewed interest in neo-classical composition and the convergence of contemporary classical and alternative popular musical styles since the early 2000s.
Richter is classically trained, having graduated in composition from the Royal Academy of Music and studied with Luciano Berio in Italy, but he is influenced equally by punk and popular forms of electronic music.
One of my favorite Richter albums was The Blue Notebooks, which was his second solo album (2004), and where that lay somewhere between minimal music, movie soundtracks, ambient and trip-hop, two years back the acclaimed British composer then brought forth a new landmark recording: Sleep. If you recall, the entire album is eight hours long (ie: the equivalent of a nights rest) and is genuinely intended to send the listener to sleep. "It's an eight-hour lullaby," said its composer, Richter.
Now the uber talented Richter brings us yet another incredible musical outing with Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works via Deutsche Grammophon. His eighth solo album, Three Worlds presents the sort of compositions we've come to expect: a perfect blend of neo-classical and ambient, with electronics scattered throughout. But this time around, the album structure feels more coherent, more ordered than past efforts.
Perhaps this is because the music was written for a ballet that is centered around three of Virginia Woolf's novels. Regardless, Three Worlds is the sort of album that requires a listen-through from beginning to end. It passes through classical pieces of yearning to apprehensive electronics and concludes in the titanic closing track, which clocks in around 20 minutes too short (in my own humble opinion, of course).
In closing, Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works has been found to be rather excellent for relaxing around my home and even calming the atmosphere in my office at work. Richter's music is very mellow, soft, and easy to just drift off to. Consisting mostly of piano and strings, the music has a calming effect within it's simplicity. Others here in the aforementioned office have made comparisons to Michael Nyman and I would most certainly agree.
Title - 'Philip Glass: Piano Works'
Artist - Vķkingur Ólafsson
For those not in the classical know, Philip Glass is an American composer and is considered one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century.
Glass's compositions have been described as minimal music, similar to other "minimalist" composers including La Monte Young, Steve Reich and Terry Riley. However, Glass has described himself instead as a composer of "music with repetitive structures", which he has helped evolve stylistically.
Vķkingur Ólafsson is much sought-after by international conductors, orchestras and artists as both a chamber and concert musician. Now 32, he graduated in 2008 from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Robert McDonald, and has since released three albums on Dirrindķ, the label he set up in 2009.
Last year he contributed two solo piano pieces and the Valse des fleurs for piano four hands to Deutsche Grammophon’s 30-CD Stravinsky Complete Edition. Ólafsson is also Artistic Director of the annual Reykjavķk Midsummer Music festival, which he founded in 2012, and last year took over from Martin Fröst as curator of Sweden’s Vinterfest.
Now out via Deutsche Grammophon is an incredible set of works from Icelandic pianist Vķkingur Ólafsson, Philip Glass: Piano Works. Having signed an exclusive agreement with Ólafsson, Deutsche Grammophon had already announced they were looking to aid him in bringing out a wide "range of innovative recording projects" and this one most definitely falls squarely within that statement.
Phillip Glass: Piano Works is book-ended by two pieces from the Glassworks suite. As one listens to the opening track entitled "Openings", it is immediately clear that this is not your ordinary classical piano solo material. Instead it feels more abstract, definitely modern. Can classical music be modern? Absolutely. The album's closing track is confusingly also titled "Openings", and in fact is a reworked version of the same piece, this time featuring the Siggi String Quartet.
The 11 remaining tracks are from various "Etudes", and all but one is just Ólafsson. That one other track is "Etude No. 2" (track 3) and is, again a reworked version (by Christian Badzura) that also features the Siggi String Quartet. Complete with 13 tracks and a running time of @ 79 minutes, Philip Glass: Piano Works is a pure delight from start to finish. Well harnessed and restrained at just the right moments, this album of Philip Glass piano solos by one of the rising stars in the classical music world is a must have for any discerning collector of such musical ilks.
Title - 'Renée Fleming: Distant Light'
Artist - Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra & S. Oramo
For those not in the classical know, the uber talented Renée Fleming is an American opera singer and soprano whose repertoire encompasses Richard Strauss, Mozart, Handel, bel canto, lieder, French opera and chansons, jazz and indie rock.
Fleming has a full lyric soprano voice and has performed coloratura, lyric, and lighter spinto soprano operatic roles in Italian, German, French, Czech, and Russian, aside from her native English. She also speaks fluent German and French, along with limited Italian.
Her signature roles include Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, the title role in Dvořįk's Rusalka, the title role in Massenet's Manon, the title role in Massenet's Thaļs, the title role in Richard Strauss's Arabella, the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, and the Countess in Capriccio.
This delightful, vibrant new release Distant Light finds her drive early on by placing her mark on Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915, op 24" (which at just over 15 minutes, was actually composed for another soprano in the mid 1950s), then flows beautifully into several compositions that truly sound composed specifically for her.
These are Anders Hillborg's "The Strand Setting" (20 minutes) and they truly allow Fleming to showcase her incredible musical attributes. Her voice is so professionally supported by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Sakamo Oramo. Indeed, and at this stage of her career, why not, but she seems so comfortable with herself and this improves the richness of her voice.
This stunningly-crafted album then rounds out with some classical arrangements of contemporary works from, of all unexpected artists, Björk. Taking on three of the Icelandic singer, songwriter, producer, DJ, and actress's works, she begins with "Virus", then comes "Jóga" (a stunning track in its own right, and the first single from her 1997 album Homogenic), and ends with "All Is Full of Love".
Fleming's artistic freedom to explore so much on one recording is stand up and applaud fantastic and the fact that Decca continually allows her (or commissions her even) is tantamount to creative genius - on both their parts.
Title - 'J. S. Bach: The Six Keyboard Partitas'
Artist - Charles Owen
For those not in the classical know, The Six Keyboard Partitas, BWV 825–830, are a set of six harpsichord suites written by Johann Sebastian Bach, published from 1726 to 1730 as Clavier-Übung I, and the first of his works to be published under his direction. They were, however, among the last of his keyboard suites to be composed, the others being the six English Suites, BWV 806-811 and the six French Suites, BWV 812-817.
In keeping with a nineteenth-century naming tradition that labelled Bach's first set of Suites English and the second French, the Partitas are sometimes referred to as the German Suites. This title, however, is a publishing convenience; there is nothing particularly German about the Partitas.
In comparison with the two earlier sets of suites, the Partitas are by far the most free-ranging in terms of structure. Unlike the English Suites, for example, wherein each opens with a strict prelude, the Partitas feature a number of different opening styles including an ornamental Overture and a Toccata.
OK, history lesson now over, here on J. S. Bach: The Six Keyboard Partitas (a 2CD set, out now thru AVIE Records), Pianist Charles Owen takes it upon himself to breathe new life into these Partitas' - and, it has to be said, the man recognized as one of the finest British pianists of his generation undertakes a task that he also shines throughout on.
With an extensive series of performances and recordings to his name, Owen is one of those rare pianists who plays all he undertakes in a manner that denotes his passion to his craft in stunning gravitas. “I have only once in my life listened to all six Partitas played on a single evening, [and] the sense of a journey, of being on a pilgrimage, was extraordinary.” So says pianist Charles Owen regarding this set of compositions by J. S. Bach that are amongst the greatest literature for the keyboard.
CD 1 (70.02)
Partita No. 1 in B-Flat Major, BWV 825 (18.42)
1. I. Praeludium (1.57)
2. II. Allemande (3.17)
3. III. Corrente (2.55)
4. IV. Sarabande (5.26)
5. V. Menuets I & II (2.55)
6. VI. Gigue (2.14)
Partita No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 826 (19.48)
7. I. Sinfonia (4.34)
8. II. Allemande (4.22)
9. III. Courante (2.21)
10. IV. Sarabande (3.22)
11. V. Rondeaux (1.33)
12. VI. Capriccio (3.36)
Partita No. 4 in D Major, BWV 828 (30.51)
13. I. Ouverture (5.44)
14. II. Allemande (8.36)
15. III. Courante (3.14)
16. IV. Aria (2.11)
17. V. Sarabande (5.35)
18. VI. Menuet (1.33)
19. VII. Gigue (3.58)
CD 2 (72.58)
Partita No. 3 in A Minor, BWV 827 (19.47)
1. I. Fantasia (1.57)
2. II. Allemande (3.35)
3. III. Corrente (2.57)
4. IV. Sarabande (4.12)
5. V. Burlesca (2.26)
6. VI. Scherzo (1.15)
7. VII. Gigue (3.25)
Partita No. 5 in G major, BWV 829 (20.13)
8. I. Praeambulum (2.22)
9. II. Allemande (4.05)
10. III. Corrente (1.39)
11. IV. Sarabande (4.24)
12. V. Tempo di Minuetto (1.53)
13. VI. Passepied (1.43)
14. VII. Gigue (4.07)
Partita No. 6 in E Minor, BWV 830 (32.53)
15. I. Toccata (7.39)
16. II. Allemande (3.41)
17. III. Corrente (4.39)
18. IV. Air (1.21)
19. V. Sarabande (7.11)
20. VI. Tempo di Gavotta (2.13)
21. VII. Gigue (6.09)
Title - 'Rhapsodie: 20th-Century Clarinet Classics'
Artist - Todd Levy & Jeannie Yu
Grammy Award-winning clarinetist Todd Levy, who holds the principal chairs with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Santa Fe Opera, presents Rhapsodie: 20th-Century Clarinet Classics, an astonishing array of classic 20th century works for his instrument.
The rich palette of colors and immense versatility of the clarinet is on full display in impressionistic Debussy and Ravel, Cubanisto-style Bernstein, pastoral Finzi, the folk idioms of Bartok, klezmer inspiration by Bela Kovacs, blues-infected Libby Larsen and genre-bending Paquito DRivera.
Joined by Jeannie Yu, herself an uber talented soloist and collaborative artist who has performed on WQXR in New York, WOI in Des Moines, IPR in Interlochen, WFMT in Chicago, and numerous chamber music series such as the Northwestern University Winter Chamber Music Series, the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music North, Three Bridges Chamber Music Festival, Frankly Music Series, Chamber Music Milwaukee, MidSummers Music, and the Rembrandt Chamber Players Series in Chicago of which she is a member, and both Rene Izquierdo (guitar) and Elena Abend (piano), Rhapsodie: 20th-Century Clarinet Classics is an incredible album of music that all fans of such musical ilk need to rush out to buy, trust me.
Principal clarinetist Todd Levy's fluid tone and expressive phrasing is paramount, front and center throughout here and deservedly so. For on this brand new CD from AVIE Records, the classical music world gets yet another compelling amount of musical evidence that there is still life to be found in the old works - more so, if you have the right people to hand to bring it forth.
Title - 'Works by Franck, Kurtįg, Previn, Schumann'
Artist - Augustin Hadelich and Joyce Yang
For those not in the classical know, Grammy Award-winner Augustin Hadelich has established himself as one of the great violinists of his generation. He has performed with every major orchestra in the U.S., many on numerous occasions, as well as an ever-growing number of major orchestras in the UK, Europe, and the Far East. He is consistently cited for his phenomenal technique, poetic sensitivity, and gorgeous tone.
Joyce Yang is a classical pianist who first gained international renown during the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, in which she was awarded the silver medal. Just 19 years old, Yang was the competition's youngest participant at the time and during the same competition, Joyce was also awarded both the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for Best Performance of Chamber Music, as well as the Beverley Taylor Smith Award for the Best Performance of a New Work.
Here on the just-released Works by Franck, Kurtįg, Previn, Schumann both the Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich and superb Pianist Joyce Yang come together to produce a plethora of pyrotechnics and an abundance of musical imagination.
This unique recital program pairs two 19th-century repertory staples – Sonatas by Franck and Schumann – with 20th-century fare by Kurtįg and Previn, a combination Augustin and Joyce have performed to widespread acclaim in their frequent joint performances.
André Previn (b.1929)
Tango Song and Dance
1. I. Tango: Passionately (5:20)
2. II. Song: Simply (4:41)
3. III. Dance: Jazz feeling (5:39)
Robert Schumann (1810–1856)
Sonata No.1 in A minor, Op.105
4. I. Mit leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck (7:35)
5. II. Allegretto (3:47)
6. III. Lebhaft (5:30)
György Kurtįg (b.1926)
Tre Pezzi, Op.14e
7. Öd und traurig (3:13)
8. Vivo (1:16)
9. Aus der Ferne (2:29)
César Franck (1822–1890)
Sonata in A major
10. I. Allegretto ben moderato (6:01)
11. II. Allegro (8:16)
12. III. Ben moderato: Recitative-Fantasia (7:31)
13. IV. Allegretto poco mosso (6:02)
With a total running time of 67:27, Works by Franck, Kurtįg, Previn, Schumann by Augustin Hadelich and Joyce Yang is one of those albums that, if you are in love with the musical ilk, will have you hitting replay every time the music climaxes. This album of classical revisions is just that good, trust me.
Title - 'Brahms: String Sextets, Live'
Artist - Cypress String Quartet
For those not in the classical know, the Cypress String Quartet are a professional classical chamber music ensemble founded in San Francisco, California in 1996.
Sadly though, the quartet - Cecily Ward, violin; Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello - announced early in 2016 that they would be disbanding in the summer of that same year after 20 fulfilling years of performing together. Indeed, a Farewell Concert was presented by the Cypress at the Green Room of the War Memorial Building on June 26th, 2016.
As a culmination of the group’s work together, the Cypress’s recording of the complete Beethoven String Quartets was released on AVIE Records in May 2016, but now - and heralding the Cypress's 20th anniversary as well as the group's valedictory season (2016), AVIE Records has brought out Brahms: String Sextets, Live Recording that couples the Cypress along with both Barry Shiffman (viola) and Zuill Bailey (cello).
With this final album, the Cypress completes its remarkable legacy in an innovative flourish, recording the two Brahms Sextets in both high-resolution digital and analogue formats, live before a studio audience at Skywalker Sound, where they shared the Scoring Stage with the aforementioned long-time friends and collaborators Barry Shiffman (viola) and Zuill Bailey (cello).
For me, it's Ms. Jennifer Kloetzel that stand out here, for not only being noted for her elegant playing throughout her career, it's the way she digs deep, exploring each and every musical curve as if it were to be her last chance to. Cellist Kloetzel has concertized throughout the United States, Europe and Asia and being a founding member of the Cypress String Quartet, she, along with her band of merry men, bring forth on 'Brahms: String Sextets, Live Recording a stunning take on Johannes Brahms's "String Quartet No. 1 in B Flat Op. 18" and "String Quartet No. 2 in G Op. 36".
[For fans that want to go deeper into this recording, the CD booklet includes original Program Notes by Jan Swafford.]
Title - 'The St. James' Recital'
Artist - Stephen Tharp
For those not in the classical know, Stephen Tharp is an American organist, and has been notged as being "one of the most brilliant concert organists around these days."
Additionally, he has given masterclasses at Yale University, Westminster Choir College, Cleveland Institute of Music, and other venues, as well as served on jurys for competitions at Juilliard and Northwestern University. Tharp has recorded numerous CDs, including the complete organ works of Jeanne Demessieux, which won him the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.
From 1995 to 1997, he was the organist at St. Patrick's Cathedral. From 1998 to 2002, he was Associate Organist at St. Bartholomew's. During the 2013/2014 season, he was Artist-in-Residence at the Grace Church in Manhattan.
In 2008, Tharp was appointed as the official organist for the New York visit of Pope Benedict XVI. Tharp is listed in the Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. He was also featured in a number of full programs on American Public Media's Pipedreams. In addition, he was awarded the 2011 International Performer of the Year by the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
In addition to being a composer and transcriber in his own right, Tharp is a frequent performer of modern works, having premiered works by Philip Moore, Anthony Newman, Thierry Escaich, and others.
Phew! Well, enough about the talented Mr. Tharp and let's get into his new recording now out via Acis Records, The St. James' Recital. An incredible recital that showcases the artist and his instrument (the magnificent Schoenstein organs at St James, Madison Avenue, New York City), along with Schoenstein & Co. Organs, the recording is simply magnificent.
1. Suite pour orgue, Op. 5: No. 3, Toccata (7:32)
2. Prelude on 'Iam Sol Recedit Igneus' (11:56)
3. Toccata and Fuga Sinfonica on B.A.C.H.: No. 1, Toccata (2:45)
4. Toccata and Fuga Sinfonica on B.A.C.H.: No. 2, Fuga (5:28)
5. Die Walkure, WWV 86B: "Wotan's Farewell" / "Magic Fire Music" (Arr. for Organ) (14:02)
6. Danse Diabolique (5:26)
7. Scherzo in G Minor, Op. 49: No. 2, Allegro (5:51)
8. La valse, M. 72 (11:39)
Being also that this is a World Premiere Live Recording, listening to The St. James' Recital takes on a whole new level of interest. From Marice Durufle's work of "Toccata", on to Richard Wagner's "Wotan's Farewell", through to both George Baker's "Danse Diabolique" and Maurice Ravel's album closing "La Valse", Tharp's musical magic is woven majestically throughout.
Title - 'Aida'
Artist - Aida Garifullina and Cornelius Meister and RSO
For those not in the classical know, Aida Garifullina is a Russian operatic soprano of Tatar origin. She was the winner of the 2013 Operalia competition and has featured in a number of productions staged at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg and the Wiener Staatsoper.
Indeed, Garifullina's career received a significant boost when she won first prize in the aforementioned Operalia 2013. At the contest, there were arias of Nanetta ("Falstaff"), Snow Maiden (the “Snow Maiden”), Susanna ("Le nozze di Figaro"), and Juliet ("Montagues and Capulets" Bellini). In October of that same year she was awarded the title "Honored Artist of the Republic of Tatarstan" and a Commendation Certificate of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan.
During 2013 and 2014 she was featured in a number of prominent performances, alongside the likes of Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Dmitry Hvorostovsky. In 2014 she performed at the Rosenblatt Recitals held at the Wigmore Hall, London and in 2015 she signed a recording contract with Decca Records.
Indeed, since the beginning of the 2014/2015 season, she has been an ensemble member of the Vienna State Opera. Her debut album of music, the self-titled Aida is a simply stunning work of musical art and showcases Aida's soaring vocals with tremendous clarity and smooth transition of notes. Simply put, this is an extraordinary album and deserves to be heard by lovers of classical music, of her, and of music in general.
Aida was just released on Feb 3rd, 2017 via Decca Records and includes music by Gonoud, Delibes, and from Russian composers Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. With a running time of 58:51 it also includes music from anonymous composers and has Cornelius Meister as conductor along with the RSO-Wien symphonieorchester.
Personally, I first got introduced to Aida via her work on the 'Florence Foster Jenkins' soundtrack, where she performs a stunningly beautiful version of "Delibes: The Bell Song". [She ALSO portrayed the French-American soprano star Lily Pons in the film, for those playing along at home]. Oh, and for the record, actors Meryl Streep and Simon Helberg follow it up with their own version on that track-listing, but nothing beats Aida's version - sorry, Meryl.
In closing, it has to be noted that Aida Garifullina's vocals, looks, attitude are all top notch and here work here on Aida will make the hairs stand up on your arms. She is as equally talented as she is beautiful and commands that as much truth and verve are embroiled evenly within every note she brings forth, each and every time.
Title - 'Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon'
Artist - Mstislav Rostropovich
For those not in the classical know, Mstislav Leopoldovich "Slava" Rostropovich was a Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor and considered to be one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. In addition to his interpretations and technique, he was well known for both inspiring and commissioning new works, which enlarged the cello repertoire more than any cellist before or since.
Indeed, he inspired and premiered over 100 pieces, forming long-standing friendships and artistic partnerships with composers including Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Henri Dutilleux, Witold Lutosławski, Olivier Messiaen, Luciano Berio, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Norbert Moret, Andreas Makris and Benjamin Britten.
Rostropovich was internationally recognized as a staunch advocate of human rights, and was awarded the 1974 Award of the International League of Human Rights. He was married to the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya and had two daughters, Olga and Elena Rostropovich.
In March 2017, Mstislav Rostropovich would have turned 90. To celebrate this anniversary of one of the greatest cellists of all time, Deutsche Grammophon presents this truly encyclopaedic box-set which, for the first time, brings together Slavas complete recordings for Decca, Philips, and the Yellow Label (as cellist, pianist & conductor).
Entitled Rostropovich - Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon, this incredible 37CD set is as good as it gets, truly. With the collective highlights including the legendary 1968 Dvorak Cello Concerto with Herbert von Karajan, no less than three versions of the Schubert String Quintet (with Taneyev, Emerson & Melos) and famed recordings he made with Martha Argerich, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Benjamin Britten, Sviatoslav Richter and Rudolf Serkin, also included is perhaps what was his most fulfilled musical partnership, that with his wife, the great Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, whom he accompanied as both conductor (Tosca, Pique Dame) and pianist.
As a cellist, Rostropovich played a vast repertory that included works written for him by some of the 20th century’s greatest composers. Indeed, here on the Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon, Rostropovich showcases how he was able to make his cello sing in an extraordinary range of musical accents. In the big Romantic showpieces, he dazzles listeners with both his richly personalized interpretations and a majestic warmth of tone. His graceful accounts of, for example, the Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello illuminated the works’ structural logic as well as their inner spirituality.
But for my money, he was at his most eloquent, and also his most freewheeling, in Russian music, particularly in the symphonies of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Man, just listening to them today makes the hair still stand up on my arms and neck. Funnily enough, and whilst listening to the beautiful, stirring music within this stunning box-set, I also just learned that Rostropovich became famous beyond musical circles as a symbol of artistic conscience and his defiance of the Soviet regime. A man of many talents, many means, and many beliefs, for sure.
Aside from the fact that Warner has a competing box of Rostropovich's EMI and Warner recordings (40 CDs, 3 DVDs) entitled Mstislav Rostropovich - Cellist of the Century - The Complete Warner Recordings, the virtue of these recordings here on Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon by Rostropovich have been extolled for decades. So, for my money, this is the definitive best of Rostropovich in one place. What a deal! Buy it now. You won't regret it.
In this box-set you will find thirty (3) CDs (all stereo) recorded between 1960 and 2002: Deutsche Grammophon (23), Decca (4) and Philips (3) with Rostropovich the cellist on seventeen of the CDs. Rostropovich the conductor is on eleven CDs (including two complete operas) and you even get two (2) CDs of Rostropovich the pianist, accompanying his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya in Russian songs.
They are all housed in slim cardboard jackets that all come with modified "original jacket" formats (ie: LP artwork on the front, but no program notes on the back, just track-listings). Also included are seven (7) CDs of Soviet Melodiya recordings (six mono, one stereo) originally licensed to Westminster Records and a 74 page booklet with index.
CD1 SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A minor, op.129
TCHAIKOVSKY: Rococo Variations
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
CD2 DVORAK: Cello Concerto in B minor, op.104
TCHAIKOVSKY: Rococo Variations
Berliner Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan
CD3 GLAZUNOV: Chant du ménéstrel, op.71
SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto no.2, op.126
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa
CD4 BOCCHERINI: Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major G 479
VIVALDI: Cello Concerto in C major, RV 398
TARTINI: Cello Concerto in A major
VIVALDI: Cello Concerto in G major, RV 413
Collegium Musicum Zürich/Paul Sacher
CD5 SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C major, D 956
Melos Quartet/Rostropovich (2nd cello)
CD6 CHOPIN: Cello Sonata op.65
SCHUMANN: Adagio & Allegro in A flat, op.70
CHOPIN: Introduction & Polonaise brillante in C major, op.3
CD7 BRAHMS: Cello Sonatas No.1 op. 38 & No.2 op.99
CD8 BEETHOVEN: String Trios op.3, 8 & 9/1-3
Anne-Sophie Mutter/Bruno Giuranna
CD9 BEETHOVEN: String Trios op.3, 8 & 9/1-3
Anne-Sophie Mutter/Bruno Giuranna
CD10 SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C major, D 956
Emerson String Quartet/Rostropovich (2nd cello)
CD11 MESSIAEN: Concert ą quatre
Catherine Cantin/Heinz Holliger/Yvonne Loriod /Orchestre de l’Opéra Bastille/ Myung-Whun Chung
BERNSTEIN: 3 Meditations from “Mass”
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein
CD12-13 BEETHOVEN: Cello Sonatas 1-5
CD14 BRITTEN: Cello Sonata in C major, op.65
SCHUMANN: 5 Stücke im Volkston
DEBUSSY: Cello Sonata
CD15 BRITTEN: Cello Symphony op.68
HAYDN: Cello Concerto in C major (Cadenzas: Britten)
English Chamber Orchestra/Benjamin Britten
CD16 BRITTEN: Cello Suites No.1 op.72 & No.2 op.80
CD17 SCHUBERT: Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D 821
BRIDGE: Cello Sonata
CD18 RACHMANINOV: Cello Sonata in G minor, op.19
CHOPIN: Introduction and Polonaise brillante for Cello and Piano in C major, op.3
RACHMANINOV: Vocalise op.34/14 (version for cello and piano)
SCHUBERT: Impromptu in G flat major D 899/3 (transcribed for cello and piano by Jascha Heifetz & Mstislav Rostropovich)
SCHUMANN: Kinderszenen op.15: Nr. 7 Träumerei (version for cello and piano)
CD19-20 HAYDN: Piano Trio in G minor, Hob. XV: 19
BEETHOVEN: Piano Trio in E flat major, WoO38
SCHUMANN: Piano Trio no. 1 in D minor, op.63
HAYDN: Piano Trio in D major, Hob. XV: 16
BEETHOVEN: Piano Trio in B flat major, op.97 “Archduke”
Emil Gilels/Leonid Kogan
CD21 FAURÉ: Piano Quartet No.1 in C minor, op.15
Emil Gilels/Leonid Kogan/Rudolf Barshai
CD22 SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C major, D 956
Taneyev Quartet/Rostropovich (2nd cello)
CD23 SAINT-SAĖNS: Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, op. 33
Symphony Orchestra of the All-Union Radio/Gregory Stolyarov
SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A minor, op.129
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Samuil Samosud
GLAZUNOV: Chant du Ménestrel op.71
Moscow Youth Symphony Orchestra/Kyril Kondrashin
CD24 CHOPIN: Introduction & Polonaise brillante in C major, op.3
GRANADOS: Goyescas: Intermezzo
BORODIN: Prince Igor: Dance of the Polovtsian Maidens
PROKOFIEV: Cinderella: Adagio
POPPER: Elfentanz, op.39
R. STRAUSS: Stimmungsbilder, op.9: No.2 An einsamer Stelle
SCHUMANN: Stücke im Volkston, op.102: 4, 1, 3
HANDEL: „Dettingen“ Te Deum in D, HWV 283: Vouchsafe, O Lord
PAGANINI: Moto perpetuo, op.11
CD25 SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto in A minor, op.54
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor, op.21
Martha Argerich/National Symphony Orchestra of Washington
CD26 TCHAIKOVSKY: “Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Lake” Suites
CD27 TCHAIKOVSKY: “Nutcracker” Suite, Andante cantabile op.11, Capriccio Italien op.45
CD28 SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5 in D minor, op.47
National Symphony Orchestra of Washington
CD29 PROKOFIEV: Romeo & Juliet Suites nos. 1 & 2, op.64
National Symphony Orchestra of Washington
CD30 RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor, op.30
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No.3 in C major, op.26
Mikhail Pletnev/Russian National Orchestra
CD31-32 PUCINI: Tosca
Galina Vishnevskaya/Franco Bonisolli/Matteo Manuguerra/Orchestre National de France
CD33-35 TCHAIKOVSKY: Pique Dame
Gougaloff/Vishnevskaya/Resnik/Weikl/Iordachescu/Schwarz/Popp/Choeur Tchaikovsky/Maītrise de Radio France/Orchestre National de France
CD36 RACHMANINOV: Songs op.26/12, 4/4, 34/8, 14/11, 34/14
GLINKA: Somnenie, Ja pomnju cudnoe mgnoven’e, Kak sladko s toboju mne byt, K nej, Tol’ko uznal ja tebja, Venecianskaja noc, Zavoronok, Barkarola
CD37 MUSSORGSKY: Songs & Dances of Death
TCHAIKOVSKY: Songs, op.6/6, 2, 1
PROKOFIEV: 5 Songs to Poems of Akhmatova, op.27
Title - 'Emmet Cahill's Ireland'
Artist - Emmet Cahill
For those not in the know, over the past four years, Emmet Cahill’s life has been transformed from a young man pursuing a career in classical music to being plunged into the world of touring across cities and performing to thousands of fans with world renowned Irish music show Celtic Thunder.
After three years of phenomenal success, including three albums shooting to number 1 on the world billboard charts, in 2015 Emmet decided to carve out his own unique identity as a solo artist. Now here in 2017 and he has just released the simply stunning, heartfelt 11 track musical wonderment Emmet Cahill's Ireland via Legacy Recordings.
Emmet Cahill's Ireland is a collection of Irish classics that have been passed down from generation to generation from celebrated Irish tenor and member of Celtic Thunder Emmet Cahill. Indeed, the album offers the very best of the traditional Irish repertoire with song selections including: "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen," "An Irish Lullaby," "My Cavan Girl," "Macushla," and more.
"Some songs people will recognize", Cahill himself admits, "but there will definitely be a few unexpected numbers in there. I’m in a creative process at the moment of finding the sound that really represents me well and will suit me best going forward."
With a running time of just 39 minutes, the album isn't going to take up too much of your time but trust me when I say that once you have heard it in full, you will be replaying it quite a few times thereafter. Tracks that stand out for me personally are both "Sweet Sixteen" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling", but another incredible retelling is the age-old "Danny Boy". Wow, does Cahill reinvent the soul, the depth, the heart behind this one track or what.
For here in Emmet Cahill's Ireland the former lead singer for the iconic Irish band Celtic Thunder has nailed each and every song as if he had simply set out to record new tracks from scratch. Each one is poignant to the point that his vocal manner showcases his talent in such a crisp, clean way you could swear he wrote the damn songs!
1. "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" 2. "An Irish Lullaby" 3. My Cavan Girl" 4. "Macushia" 5. Sweet Sixteen" 6. Danny Boy" 7. "Oft in the Stilly Night" 8. "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" 9. "Wild Mountain Thyme" 10. The West's Awake" 11. "The Parting Glass".
Emmet Cahill @ Facebook!
Emmet Cahill @ Twitter!
Title - 'Harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together'
Artist - Harry Belafonte
For those not in the know, Harry Belafonte is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and social activist. One of the most successful African-American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s.
His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) is the first million selling LP by a single artist. Indeed, Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing "The Banana Boat Song", with its signature lyric "Day-O". He has recorded in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards. He has also starred in several films, most notably in Otto Preminger's hit musical Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957) and Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).
The Legacy Of Harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together is an essential single-disc anthology of Harry Belafonte's biggest hits and timeless classics. Just released via Legacy Recordings, it also includes a new re-recording of one of the great pop standards in the Belafonte catalog, "Island In The Sun" entitled "When Colors Come Together (Our Island In The Sun)," performed by a children's choir.
With each track handpicked by Harry Belafonte, When Colors Come Together provides a complete overview of his musical career, bringing together his biggest hits and most socially conscious performances alongside songs that are simply near and dear to his heart.
1. "When Colors Come Together (Our Island in the Sun)"
2. "Jump in the Line"
3. "Banana Boat (Day-O)"
4. "All My Trials"
5. "Empty Chairs"
8. "Turn the World Around"
9. "Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)"
10. "Abraham, Martin and John"
11. "On Top of Old Smokey
12. "Jamaica Farewell"
13. "Brown Skin Girl"
14. "Island in the Sun"
15. "Those Three Are on My Mind"
16. "Try to Remember"
17. "Mary's Boy Child"
18. "Look Over Yonder / Be My Woman, Gal (Live)"
19. "Pastures of Plenty (Live)"
Released in advance of Harry Belafonte’s 90th birthday on March 1st, 2017, and with the singer's son, David Belafonte, as the executive producer of the anthology, The Legacy Of Harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together is a truly stunning work of musical art.
Sure you all probably know the songs by now, but just the new version of the title track "When Colors Come Together (Our Island in the Sun)” is enough to make this new collection something special. Co-written by Belafonte and Irving Burgie, you might recall that the original served as the title song from the controversial 1957 film Island in the Sun.
Reflecting on his song choices over the course of his career, Belafonte himself says, “I often looked for songs that were easy to sing and melodies that were easy to hum because I felt those songs endured longer with audiences who heard them. Sure enough, that idea had value because a lot of times people remember the songs, sing the lyrics, refer to them."
"I found that the more diverse my songs were and the more I sang the songs closely related to the cultures from which these songs came, the more that culture, that community, that place in the world gravitated towards what it was that I did.”
Harry Belafonte @ Facebook!
Harry Belafonte @ Twitter!
Title - 'Tanna (Original Score)'
Artist - Antony Partos
'Tanna' is a 2015 Australian-Vanuatuan film set on the island of Tanna in the South Pacific, depicting the true story of a couple who decided to marry for love, rather than obey their parents' wishes. In some ways similar to Romeo and Juliet, the movie is based on an actual marriage dispute.
The film won the Audience Award Pietro Barzisa at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival. It was also selected as the Australian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards, and was nominated for the award in January 2017.
Composed by Antony Michael Partos, an Australian film and TV composer who specializes in creating scores that blend both acoustic and electronic elements with a mix of world musical instruments, the soundtrack is now available for all to own via Lightyear Entertainment.
With Partos's other feature film credits including Animal Kingdom (AFI Award for Best Feature Score), The Rover, Disgrace, The Home Song Stories (AFI Award for best feature score) and Unfinished Sky (AFI Award for best feature score), this quite delightful, heartfelt and poignant album of sweeping music begins with the floating "First Love" and quickly steps up the tension within the pipe-laden "Hidden Enemy". Next comes the lush ambiance of "The Secret", the stirring "Enemy Territory", the emphatic "The Volcano", and then both "The Spirit Awakens" and vast wasteland's vibe of "Taboo".
With a running time of 25:29, 'Tanna' may not be the longest album of original score work, but it is one of the most spacial aware, if that have no doubt. For the way in which composer Antony Partos creates his cinematic soundscapes are, one by one, both alluring and masterful. 'Tanna' continues on with "Abscond", the haunting "Reunion", and then rounds out with both the eerie "Hostile Land" and "Death Beckons".
1. 'First Love' (1:14)
2. 'Hidden Enemy' (0:22)
3. 'The Secret' (0:42)
4. 'Enemy Territory' (1:32)
5. 'The Volcano' (4:56)
6. 'The Spirit Awakens' (2:09)
7. 'Taboo' (3:26)
8. 'Abscond' (1:27)
9. 'Reunion' (2:54)
10. 'Hostile Land' (1:53)
11. 'Death Beckons' (4:54)
'Tanna' @ Facebook!
'Tanna' Movie Trailer
Title - 'Planets + Persona'
Artist - Richard Barbieri
For those not in the know, Richard Barbieri is an English synthesizer player, keyboardist and composer. Originally coming to prominence in the late-1970s and early-1980s as a member of new wave pioneers Japan (and their brief 1989–1990 reincarnation as Rain Tree Crow), more recently he is known as the keyboard player in the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree, of which he has been a member since 1993.
Personally, I am a HUGE fan of EVERYTHING that Japan EVER did! There, got that out into the open now. As aforementioned, Barbieri started his musical career with the group Japan in 1974. Within a year the band was signed to the Hansa/Ariola label and began work on a debut album.
Although initially perceived as a "hyped" band, Japan went on to record five studio albums culminating in the groundbreaking Tin Drum which stayed in the UK Albums Chart for a year. They were one of the most successful chart bands in Europe and Asia in 1982 despite the increasingly experimental nature of their music.
Now Barbieri is about to unleash a brand new, and highly anticipated album, Planets + Persona via Kscope Records on March 17th, 2017. Having now listened to it twice through, these seven (7) stellar tracks are as expansive, as indepth, as heartfelt as anything Barbieri has orchestrated into his work in a long time.
Planets + Persona is the third Barbieri solo album, but the first to feature such an incredible wide ranging scope of instrumentation. Vintage analogue synthesizers combine with acoustic performances and jazz elements and add in some contorted vocals (though they are never anything one can truly discern ie: language), and Barbieri's skillful compositions are bound to entice you to hit replay.
1. "Solar Sea" (7:30)
2. "New Found Land" (7:17)
3. "Night Of The Hunter" (10:44)
4. "Interstellar Medium" (5:38)
5. "Unholy" (8:58)
6. "Shafts Of Light" (6:39)
7. "Solar Storm" (6:22)
Planets + Persona uses Barbieri's unique take on synthesized sounds and gels them smoothly with organic instrumentation to create vivid, colorful and all-encompassing soundscapes for the listener on each of the seven enterprisingly tactile tracks.
Recorded in London, Italy and Sweden, this is truly Barbieri’s most ambitious solo work to date with a central theme of duality that runs through the album. The title itself, Planets and Persona alludes to this, and the dialectic theme is a constant throughout the contrasting and shape-shifting sounds of the album.
Richard Barbieri @ Facebook!
'Planets + Persona' Purchase Page
Title - 'Passion'
Artist - Buzz Cason
For those not in the know, Buzz Cason is an American rock singer, songwriter, producer and author and was a founding members of The Casuals, Nashville's first rock and roll band. Together with Richard Williams and Hugh Jarrett of The Jordanaires he recorded as The Statues for Liberty and in 1960, Cason started a solo career under the pseudonym Garry Miles, and had a number 16 hit in 1960 with "Look For A Star".
So, and as much as you still may not know who Buzz Cason is you've definitely heard his songs down the years, of that be sure. They have appeared in versions by The Beatles ("Soldier of Love"), Pearl Jam, U2, Gloria Estefan and Arthur Alexander and a whole lot more!
He's been both a Chipmunk and a Cricket. And he is a man of Passion. Ergo, and showing such on his sleeve now for all to see, Passion (out now via ArenA Recordings) is his ninth album of this millennium - which says a lot about the output of a man whose career started in the 50s.
From his home in Nashville, Buzz has been one of the earliest Roots/Rock/Americana/Country proponents and this brand new album shows just that with eleven new songs he wrote or co-wrote. We begin the journey with the title song itself, "Passion", a track that encapsulates everything that Buzz still feels about life and the industry just perfectly. Next up are the perfectly paired "Bread" and "Will You Love Me", and they are backed by both "Walkin'" and "That The Way It Is".
After decades in the music business you would think that Buzz would be just going through the "paycheck motions" here, but this new album is as fine as most anything he has musically conjured up beforehand. "Like A Dog" is a storytelling work of art, and that's backed by both "Just As Gone" and, for my money, the best track on the album, "The Ballad Of Berry Hill."
Following the success of Troubadour Heart (2014), and Record Machine (2015), Passion's passion is worn, as aforementioned, on Buzz's musical sleeve here, because each and every one of these 11 new tracks continues to shine a light on his undying love of music. Recorded at the Cason family studio Creative Workshop in Berry Hill, Nashville, it rounds out perfectly with "Escape", "Fear" and "We Soldiered On", which is yet another stand out track to listen to.
“This record is intensely special for me," Buzz himself says, "since we molded elements from various genres musically from my career and attempted to make a recording that will satisfy the taste of the diverse listener". Mission accomplished, Buzz. Mission well and truly accomplished.
3. "Will You Love Me?"
5. "That's The Way It Is"
6. "Like A Dog"
7. "Just As Gone"
8. "The Ballad Of Berry Hill"
11. "We Soldiered On"
Buzz Cason @ Facebook!
2/5 - Nashville, TN - ACME Feed & Seed
2/11 - Nashville, TN - In-Store Record Release Party at Grimey's
2/14 - Lafayette, LA - The Grouse Room
2/15 - Houston, TX - Cactus Music Store (in-store)
2/16 - Snyder, TX - The Horny Toad Pub & Grub
2/17 - Spicewood, TX - Poodies Hilltop Road House
2/18 - Boerne, TX - Random Beer Garden
2/19 - Fort Worth, TX - Magnolia Motor Lodge
3/5 - Nashville, TN - ACME Feed & Seed
3/22 - Sheridan, WY - BlackTooth Brewery
3/23 - Fort Collins, CO - Avogadro's Number
3/25 - Denver, CO - Swallow Hill
Title - 'Ape Shifter'
Artist - Ape Shifter
For those not in the know, German progressive rock ensemble APE SHIFTER have just released their debut self-titled album, Ape Shifter via Maximum Booking Records. Complete with an outrageous in-your-face album cover, combined with their quite brilliant band name, Ape Shifter the album is an 11 track celebration of how prog rock sounds today.
Chock full of all instrumental tracks, it brings together those rockin' 70's riffs, but here plays them off against a punk rock ferocity, adds in swirls of arching metal grooves, and presents an eclectic prog rock album quite like none I've encountered in the past decade. Simply put, and by the band themselves, Ape Shifter is an "Intense Simian Instrumental Rock from the nasty pits of the Hellabrunn Zoo".
01 "Uhluhtc" 03:33)
02 "Revolution Summer" (03:10)
03 "Desert Rock" (03:27)
04 "Dopamatic" (04:27)
05 "Hot Rod" (02:34)
06 "Verdammt" (03:54)
07 "Dead Tuna Boogie" (02:58)
08 "Ratchet Attack" (05:08)
09 "Sakrotani" (03:13)
10 "Brain-O-Mat" (03:47)
11 "Superhero Helden" (02:30)
Recorded in July of 2016 by Jürgen Schlachter at 36music in Leipheim, Germany, Ape Shifter (Jeff Aug: guitar; Florian Walter: bass; Kurty Münch: drums) have brought all their knowledge of the prog world, thrown it into the wunderworld and unleashed a guitar and drum ferocity of sounds that I dare you not to be nothing more than highly impressed with.
[FYI: Jeff Aug is also a Guinness™ world record holder setting the world record for the “most concerts performed in different countries in 24 hours” twice (2009, 2012)!]
Ape Shifter @ Facebook!
27.01.2017 DE-Leipzig, Naumanns im Felsenkeller (with Shotgun Valium)
28.01.2017 DE-Dessau, Cadillac (with Jeff Aug solo performance)
03.03.2017 DE-Weikersheim, Club W71
04.03.2017 DE-Immenstadt, Rainbow (official album release concert!)
09.03.2017 DE-Karlsruhe, KoHi
10.03.2017 NL-Tilburg, Little Devil*
11.03.2017 NL-Landgraaf, Oefenbunker*
12.03.2016 DE-Düsseldorf, Pitcher*
17.03.2017 DE-Reutlingen, Franz.K (as support for WHO KILLED BRUCE LEE!)
27.04.2017 DE-Burgkunstadt, TECnet
28.04.2017 DE-Schwerin, Speicher
29.04.2017 DE-Erfurt, Museumskeller HsD (w/ Shotgun Valium)
30.04.2017 DE-Berlin, Supamolly (special guest: JUD)
*with special guest Chris Haskett's Amplified Ambition (Rollins Band guitarist!)
Title - 'Demon'
Artist - Le Seul Elément
For those not in the know, French experimental noise wave artist Le Seul Elément have just released their debut album entitled Demon. Featured in the horror film 'Devil's Domain' starring Michael Madsen (Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs) the album also includes a guest appearance by darkwave darlings Bestial Mouths.
Combining elements of piano, noise and darkwave, weaving textures and melodies with incredible skill, from start to finish this debut album is something truly astonishing to behold. Creating, building sonic soundscapes that ebb and flow like liquid, Demon is an album whose Gothic undertones are as much an insight into the music as the actual tones set forth by Le Seul Elément.
Indeed, Demon is a rare solo project from a French artist who has mainly been involved in collaborative projects, but nonetheless one that showcases an extraordinary depth to the artist, that's for sure. Seemingly able to collaborate and work singularly, Le Seul Elément creates a unique sonic world for the creation Demon; one that abounds with a passion, a love, a devotion for their haunting artistic explorations.
1. "C. abyssal" (05:32)
2. "Mersey mad beat" (07:31)
3. "Rien n'est beau comme on l'imagine" (08:34)
4. "24D" (04:30)
5. "Demone" (05:10)
6. "U.V.E.R." (04:44)
7. "Decrepitude love" (02:08)
8. "Bestial Mouths - Her eyes (feat. Lynette | Bestial Mouths)" (04:30)
9. "Run" (05:29)
10. "Soho (feat. thisquietarmy)" (10:38)
Le Seul Elément @ Facebook!
Title - 'Return of Judge Roughneck'
Artist - Neville Staple
For those not in the know, Neville Staple is a Jamaican born English singer for the two-tone ska band, The Specials as well as his own combo, The Neville Staple Band, and who also sang with Ranking Roger in Special Beat.
Staple was born in Manchester, Jamaica. Neville left Jamaica to live in the English town of Rugby, Warwickshire at the age of five but later moved to Coventry. He was initially active in the sound system scene, forming his own crew called "Jah Baddis". Neville was a regular fixture at the Locarno ballroom in Coventry where he met the resident DJ there, Pete Waterman.
The rest, as they say, is now history, for having high profile turns in The Specials, Fun Boy Three, and Special Beat, Staple then worked for many years in the US with various bands. One of those was The Hitmen, which included providing a soundtrack for the movie, 'Vampires Anonymous' along with some extensive touring.
Return of Judge Roughneck is the brand new studio album from ska's reigning Rude Boy, Judge Roughneck himself, Neville Staple. Here on one highly addictive listening of an album, Staple continues his critically acclaimed solo career with an album of new material plus several bonus dub mixes.
1. "Return Of Judge Roughneck"
3. "Down My Street"
5. "Crime Don’t Pay"
6. "Gang Fever"
7. "Politician Man"
8. "Maga Dog"
10. "Be Happy"
11. "Sweet Sensation"
12. "Enjoy Yourself - Ragtime Lounge Mix" (Feat. Jessy Greene)
13. "Maga Dub"
14. "Crime Dub"
15. "Roadblock - Slam Door Dub Mix" (by Ed Rome)
16. "Dub Fever"
17. "Jah Baddis Dubplate"
18. "Dub Street"
19. "Bang Bang"
20. "Dub Crazy" (Feat. Jessy Greene)
21. "Legal Dub"
The album opens up with the Judge himself issuing a case of GBH against the plantiff, before the musical vibe lightens for a more poppy appeal takes over on both "Bangarang" and "Down My Street". The latter is my own personal favorite on the album, but others that run it close are tracks such as "Crime Don't Pay" (ad it's trumpet backbone), "Maga Dog", and both a redo of Jimmy Soul's "Be Happy" and a joyous "Enjoy Yourself (Ragtime Lounge Mix)".
Trust me when I tell you that if you loved The Special, adored Fun Boy Three and still stand in front of that mirror in the bathroom for the English Beat, than the Return of Judge Roughneck is just what your musical doctor ordered!
Featuring guest appearances by former Geraldine Fibbers and The Jayhawks violinist Jessy Greene as well as producer Ed Rome, Staple keeps the ska alive with his renditions and new material here on his welcome return to the music scene.
Neville Staple Band @ Facebook!
Title - 'Robby Krieger: In Session'
Artist - Robby Krieger
For those not in the know, Robert Alan "Robby" Krieger is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter best known as the guitarist of the rock band the Doors, and as such has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Krieger wrote or co-wrote many of the Doors' songs, including the hits "Light My Fire", "Love Me Two Times", "Touch Me", and "Love Her Madly". After the Doors disbanded, Krieger continued his performing and recording career with other musicians including former Doors band mates John Densmore and Ray Manzarek.
He is also listed multiple times by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
Robby Krieger: In Session is a brand new collection containing rare studio sessions from one of the boldest rock guitarists of all-time, that's for damn sure. Featuring an incredible roster of guest appearances including Jackson Browne, Hawkwind's Nik Turner, Asia's sadly-now-departed John Wetton, Styx's Tommy Shaw, Star Trek's William Shatner and others, along with these exclusive new mixes the album also includes a bonus live track that has never been released on CD before!
1. Across the Universe Feat. Jackson Browne
2. Hypernova Feat. Nik Turner
3. Empty Spaces Feat. Billy Sherwood
4. Where We Belong (Remix) Feat. Tony Kaye
5. Don't Leave Me Now Feat. Tommy Shaw
6. Brain Damage Feat. Geoff Downes
7. School Feat. Rod Argent
8. Deep Down Feat. William Shatner
9. Little Drummer Boy
10. All You Need Is Love Feat. John Wetton
11. Bonus Track
12. Back Door Man (Live)"
For those of you that not only know of Krieger, but of the music he has spent so much of his life embroiled within, this track-listing should come as no surprise to you. Ir kicks off in fine guitar-laden style with a cover of the Beatles’ “Across the Universe” featuring Jackson Browne and culminates with their “All You Need is Love,” a track featuring the late ASIA great, John Wetton.
Inbetween we get some musical delicacies in the form of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” (featuring Yes/ASIA keyboard wizard Geoff Downes), Supertramp’s always brilliant “School” (featuring Rod Argent), and amongst others this wonderful new collection features two exclusive, never-before-released mixes of "Hypernova (Inner Space Mix)" (featuring Nik Turner) and "Where We Belong (Prism Mix)" (featuring Tony Kaye). [The less said about William Shatner on "Deep Down" is for the best in my book, sorry].
The Bonus Track is a never-before-heard live recording of the Doors’ “Back Door Man”, as aforementioned, available on CD for the first time here on In Session.
Don't miss this incredible collection available everywhere February 17th, 2017 from Purple Pyramid Records / Cleopatra Records.
Robby Krieger @ Facebook!
Title - 'Can I Have My Money Back: Remastered & Expanded'
Artist - Gerry Rafferty
For those not in the know, Gerald "Gerry" Rafferty was a Scottish singer-songwriter best known for his solo hits "Baker Street", "Right Down the Line" and "Night Owl", as well as "Stuck in the Middle with You" recorded with the band Stealers Wheel.
Now Digitally Remastered and made into an Expanded Edition (albeit by just the one track only), Can I Have My Money Back? was the first solo album by Gerry Rafferty in 1971. The album was well received, but performed poorly in charts and sales, in part because Rafferty had just left a well known band, The Humblebums. The album also saw Joe Egan come on board, and the pair formed Stealers Wheel shortly afterwards.
1. "New Street Blues"
2. "Didn't I?"
3. "Mr Universe"
4. "Mary Skeffington"
5. "The Long Way Round"
6. "Can I Have My Money Back?"
7. "Sign on the Dotted Line"
8. "Make You, Break You"
9. "To Each and Everyone"
10. "One Drink Down"
11. "Don't Count Me Out"
12. "Half a Chance"
13. "Where I Belong"
14. "So Bad Thinking" (Bonus Track)"
This critically acclaimed well produced fusion of folk and rock influences may not have set the world alight back in the day, but here now, Digitally Remastered tracks such as opener "New Street Blues" simply sound crisper, have an added depth to them. It's just so jazzy, so bluesy, so upbeat and freeflowing. Simply put, just this one track is enough to sell this album to me!
The softer, gentler guitar work of "Didn't I?" is next and is backed by "Mr. Universe", a track that showcases the guitar work Zed Jenkins perfectly. Chock full of short songs, none so elaborate as his longer creations, this means that there is more room for mood changes, twists and turns within all the melodies. Next up is the beautiful Ukulele-played ballad "Mary Skeffington" and that's backed by the Beatles-sounding piano ballad "The Long Way Round".
The musical pop "rap" that opens the title track, the honky tonk "Can I Have My Money Back?" is one of the stand out highlights of this album and showcases Rafferty's musical talents wonderfully. The gentle piano work that gradually builds of "Sign On The Dotted Line" is up next, and that's followed by the upbeat joy of "Make You, Break You", the Renaissance feel of "To Each and Everyone", "One Drink Down" (complete with a nod to Rafferty's Bar), and then "Don't Count Me Out".
The stunning "Half a Chance" and original closing track "Where I Belong" are the perfect pair to do just that, bringing an album to an end that, for the most part, should have been given more of a chance to breathe within the public forum back in the day. Here with the freeflowing Bonus Track of "So Bad Thinking" (originally released as the B-side of the 7" single of the album title track), the new booklet features a new essay and fully restores the original album artwork.
In truth, there´s always something good in the universe to make us feel happy and thus, I am happy that I personally found a special one in this delightful album from Gerry Rafferty. I hope you take my word and buy this now Digitally Remastered and Expanded Edition CD from Cherry Red Records (UK).
Also, it should be mentioned that the aforementioned distinctive cover design was by John Patrick Byrne and was the start of a long working relationship between Rafferty and the playwright.
'Can I Have My Money Back: Remastered & Expanded' CD Purchase Link
Title - 'All the Colours of The Spectrum: 1964-1970'
Artist - The Spectrum
For those not in the know, Spectrum is an Australian progressive rock band which formed in April 1969 and broke up in April 1973. The original line-up was Mark Kennedy on drums, Lee Neale on organ (ex-Nineteen87), Bill Putt on bass guitar (ex-Lost Souls), and Mike Rudd on guitar and lead vocals (ex-Chants R&B, The Party Machine).
In August 1970 Kennedy was replaced by Ray Arnott on drums. These members also performed under the alter ego, Indelible Murtceps, from 1971 to 1973. Spectrum had a number-one hit, "I'll Be Gone" (January 1971), on the Go-Set National Top 60 singles chart.
After Spectrum and Indelible Murtceps disbanded, Putt and Rudd formed Ariel. In 1999 the pair formed Spectrum Plays the Blues, which later trimmed their name back to Spectrum. Sadly though, on 7th August 2013 Bill Putt died, after a heart attack.
Now we can all enjoy this incredible 2CD set All The Colours Of The Spectrum: Complete Recordings 1964-1970, which has just been released via Cherry Red Records (UK). Indeed, this first-ever official anthology of The Spectrum's career features all of their singles, the 1970 UK LP The Light Is Dark Enough, their contribution to the soundtrack of the little-known 1968 film The Bliss Of Mrs Blossom, their unissued-at-the-time theme tune for Captain Scarlet and, perhaps most notably of all, recordings that have only previously been released on their insanely rare and largely-unknown 1969 Venezuelan-only album.
1. Samantha's Mine
2. Saturday's Child
3. Portobello Road
4. Comes the Dawn
5. Headin' for a Heatwave
6. I Wanna Be (Happy) with You
7. London Bridge Is Coming Down
8. Tables and Chairs
9. Let's Live for Love
10. Little Red Boat By the River
11. Forget Me Not
12. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
13. Music Soothes the Savage Breast
14. Just What I Was Looking for Today
15. It Doesn't Seem to Matter
16. Cool Water
18. The Tale of Wally Toft
21. Captain Scarlet (Closing Theme)
1. Mr Jenkins' Brand New Boots
2. The Walrus and the Horse
5. The Light Is Dark Enough
6. Little Girl
7. Asking You
8. Roll Over Beethoven
9. Bye Bye Birdie
10. Please Mr Postman
11. You Really Got a Hold on Me
12. What's That?
13. Sweet Little Sixteen
14. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' on
15. Hide and Seek
16. My Babe
17. Dancing in the Streets
18. Shoppin' Around
Phew, I know, right! So let's delve right into his incredible collection and as the lead lyrics of Disc 1 opener "Samantha's Mine" are sung, "I feel so good, I feel so fine" that's exactly how I feel when listening to this wonderful, truly delightful flashback album of musical goodness. That's followed by the flip side of "Samantha's Mine", "Saturday's Child", a nice cover of the song written by David Gates and popularized by The Monkees. The lush "Portobello Road" is a showcase for that very same London street and market, and that's backed by the jingly-jangly "Comes The Dawn", the orchestratedly-stunning "Headin' For A Heatwave", and then both the upbeat, frenetic even "London Bridge Is Coming Down" and the fun sing-along "Tables And Chairs".
Next up is another sing-along in for the form of "Let's Live For Love" which is backed by "Little Red Boat By The River", "Forget Me Not", a bouncy cover of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and then that singles' B-side, the euphoric "Music Soothes The Savage Breast". "Just What I Was Looking For Today" is then followed by "It Doesn't Seem To Matter", the delightfully trippy "Cool Water", and then both the stand-up-and-be-heard "Free" and the stand out track on this first side (for me), the bluesy guitar and organ work of "The Tale of Wally Toft".
The first side then rounds out with the hand clappin' appeal of "Glory", which is backed by both the country twangin' "Nodnol" and then their now infamous "Captain Scarlet (Closing Theme)". In truth, the band really benefited from a connection to Gerry Anderson's TV series of the same name, because the Captain's fictional organization was coincidentally called "SPECTRUM"!
Disc 2 kicks off in fine style with the upbeat "Mr. Jenkins' Brand New Boots" and follows that same vibe with both "The Walrus And The Horse" and the mid-tempo ballad, "Mandy". "Jacqueline" keeps that mood flowing nicely, before the simply brilliant piano track, "The Light Is Dark Enough". For me, this one is the stand out track on this second disc of their music. Next up is "Little Girl", a track that brings Motown soul to the bands repertoire. The B-side "Asking You" is next, and that is backed by their cover of the Chuck Berry-written "Roll Over Beethoven".
Another cover comes along next and, as a fan of the blues, I can tell you they nail this one perfectly. Tackling Sonny Boy Williamson's "Bye Bye Bird", the band are on top form back here, undertaking it as if it was the most natural musical side step undertaken. Another Beatles cover comes in the form of "Please Mr. Postman" and that's backed by a really heartfelt cover of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' "You Really Got A Hold On Me". The trippy pop of "What's That?" is next and is followed by both anther Chuck Berry cover, "Sweet Little Sixteen" and then a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis' musical monster "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On".
The smooth ballad "Baby What You Want Me To Do" is next, and then comes "My Baby", before the album rounds out perfectly with the power trio of "Dance In The Street", a cover of Elvis Presley's "Shoppin Around", and finally a magnificent cover of Clyde McPhatter's 1962 hit "Lover Please".
With the addition of their obscure 1965 debut single for EMI and a 1964 album that they cut (as Group Five) for the French market, All The Colours Of The Spectrum is the definitive document of a fascinating but hitherto little-documented band. It features a 16 page booklet with some priceless period photos and memorabilia as well as the Spectrum story from the cradle to the grave, with reminiscences from founder member Tony Atkins.
2CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Songs From The Swinger & Other Swingin' Songs'
Artist - Ann-Margret
For those not in the know, Ann-Margret is a Swedish-American actress, singer, and dancer. As an actress, she is best known for her roles in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Tommy (1975), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Grumpier Old Men (1995).
She has won five Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards. In 2010, she won her first Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Indeed, her singing and acting careers span five decades, starting in 1961; initially, she was billed as a female version of Elvis Presley. She had a minor hit in 1961 and a charting album in 1964, and scored a disco hit in 1979. In 2001, she recorded a critically acclaimed gospel album, and an album of Christmas songs from 2004 continues to be available.
Just released via Cherry Red Records (UK), we now have the luxury of listening to Songs from The Swinger and Other Swingin' Songs and taking in, once more, those warm singing tones of the wonderful Ann-Margret. 'The Swinger' and 'The Pleasure Seekers', films featuring the charismatic Swedish actress Ann-Margret are quintessential 1960s Hollywood pop cinema; light and frothy, flawed, but full of period bric-a-brac and stylish music.
Indeed, the title song of 'The Swinger' was written by André and Dory Previn and the score composed by Marty Paich with additional arrangements by Johnny Williams and Quincy Jones. The score of 'The Pleasure Seekers' was created by Lionel Newman and Alexander Courage (the latter destined to compose Star Trek's iconic music) and features four selections written by the Sammy Cahn - Jimmy Van Heusen song-writing team, each performed by Ann-Margret.
1. The Swinger
2. By Myself
3. I Just Want to Make Love to You
4. Swinger's Holiday
7. You Came a Long Way from St. Louis
8. The Good Life
9. After the Lights Go Down Low
10. I Wanna Be Loved
11. Kelly's Dance
12. That Old Black Magic
13. Madrid / the Pleasure Seekers
14. Blue Moon Cha-Cha
15. Next Time
16. Romantic Bossa Nova
17. Tender Moment
18. The Pleasure Seekers Bossa Nova
21. Something to Think About
22. The Terrace
23. Costa Del Sol
24. Everything Makes Music When You're in Love
25. Prado Museum
26. End Title (the Pleasure Seekers)
We kick off in fine Ann-Margret swingin' style with "The Swinger (From the Paramount Picture "The Swinger")", a track that should have you up and movin' your hips in seconds of the needle hittin' the wax. Ok, well, in this case the laser hitting the CD, I guess. Anyhoo, you get the point and so next up is the mid-tempo ballad Ann-Margret "By Myself" and that's backed by her raunchy take on "I Just Want to Make Love to You". The frenetic "Swinger's Holiday (From the Paramount Picture "The Swinger") by Marty Paich is next and that's backed by Ann-Margret back on the sultry "More (Theme from "Mondo Cane")".
Next up she brings us what turns out to be one of my own personal favorites on this collection, "Pure" and she then backs that with the guitar and trumpet roller coaster vibe of "You Came a Long Way from St. Louis". She puts her vocals to fine use on the beautiful "The Good Life (From the Paramount Movie "The Swinger"), before the fun "After the Lights Go Down Low" comes forth.
Next up is the low down and sultry smooth plea sung within "I Wanna Be Loved (Sung in the Paramount Picture "The Swinger")", before the new collection rounds out with the frenetic Latin-inspired "Kelly's Dance (From the Paramount Picture "The Swinger")" and then finally Ann-Margret's (to my mind) mumbled-at-times, but yet still mesmerizing) "That Old Black Magic (Sung in the Paramount Picture "The Swinger")".
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'World Clique: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Deee-Lite
For those not in the know, Deee-Lite (Lady Miss Kier, DJ Dmitry and Towa Tei) is an American house and club/dance music group, formed in New York City. The group's best-known single is "Groove Is in the Heart", which was released from their 1990 debut album, World Clique, and was a Top 10 hit in multiple countries.
Released in 1990, their debut album World Clique garnered initial success in the UK, where it peaked at #14 on the UK Albums Chart in September 1990. Simultaneously, the album entered the Billboard 200 at #180 for the week of September 15 in the US. Fueled by the success of "Groove Is in the Heart", World Clique continued to climb the chart for several weeks, peaking at #20 for the week of November 24. Indeed, in December 2016, Billboard magazine ranked them as the 55th most successful dance artists of all-time.
Remixes formed a huge part of Deee-Lite's clubland culture, and Cherry Red Records (UK) have just released this incredible, and totally deee-litful (sorry!) 2CD World Clique: Expanded Edition for our listening pleasures. It includes fourteen choice, varied takes on both singles and album tracks inclusive of extended radio versions to deep funky house breaks.
As a bonus, the jam-packed second disc provides a fabulous snapshot of global nightlife in the early 1990s through the eyes, and sounds of Lady Miss Kier and co.
1. Deee-Lite Theme
2. Good Beat
3. Power of Love
4. Try Me on... I'm Very You
5. Smile on
6. What Is Love?
7. World Clique
9. Groove Is in the Heart
10. Who Was That?
11. Deep Ending
12. Build the Bridge
13. Groove Is in the Heart (Peanut Butter Radio Mix)
14. Good Beat (Turn Up the Radio Mix)
15. Power of Love (Turn Up the Radio Mix)
16. Riding on Through!
17. Groove Is in the Heart (Meeting of the Minds Mix)
18. How Do You Say... Love (A Delicious Joey Pal Dub)
19. E.S.P. (Ouijee Extended Mix)
20. What Is Love? (Rainbow Beard Mix)
21. Good Beat (Extend the Beat Mix)
22. Power of Love (Sampladelic Remix)
23. Build the Bridge (Holographic House Groove Mix)
24. What Is Love? (Holographic Goatee Mix)
25. Good Beat (Pal Joey's Shake Your Body to the Beat Mix)
26. Groove Is in the Heart (Jelly Jam Beats)
I actually met Lady Miss Kier after a show they performed here in Detroit some 20 years ago. I was meant to meet her before the show, but they arrived very late to the venue, played a delayed show to it longest moments allowed, then she spent some solo time alone backstage before @ 3am I was ushered back to meet her! Anyway, as we had a lovely chat, and as the original album opens with the funky, jazzy trumpet and bass beat sounds of "Deee-Lite Theme" (as did the live show that night, that moment in time comes flooding back to me instantly.
Next up is the dance floor smash "Good Beat" which is backed by the house hit "Power Of Love" and then the Bootsy-driven "Try Me On ... I'm Very You". The slow trumpet groove of "Smile On" (which, for my money was ahead of its time) is next and that's followed by "What Is Love?", a cut that proves that Deee-Lite were no one hit wonders. Oh, and for those still wondering, the spoken words are from Mark Twain and are the opening lines on 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' by Tom Clay (1971).
Next up is the funky title track itself, "World Clique" and that's backed by the psychic power melodic pop rock of "E.S.P.". Again, a massive track well ahead of its time and that's backed by their massive worldwide mega hit, the highly infectious "Groove Is In The Heart" ("How do you say Deee-Groovy? How do you say Deee-Gorgeous? How do you say Deee-Lite, Deee-Lite, Deee-Lite, Deee-Lite ...").
Introduced to us by a trumpet reveille, "Who Was That?" is another gem here on World Clique and with the dynamic pairing of both "Deep Ending" and the sedate, yet still trippy "Build The Bridge" bringing the original album (disc 1) to a close, I am already relishing the chance to listen to this first side through again!
But, onward we must as their is a musical treasure trove of wonderment now to be found here on the second disc. Starting with "Groove Is in the Heart (Peanut Butter Radio Mix)" and 14 tracks later culminating with "Groove Is in the Heart (Jelly Jam Beats)", it seems someone assigned to the creation of this 2CD set got a wee bit carried away with the mixing board. For we get three versions of "Groove", three versions of "Good Beat", two of both "Power Of Love" and "What Is Love?", and one each of "Riding On Through!", "E.S.P.", "Build A Bridge" and "How Do You Say ... Love".
CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Say It Again: Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Jermaine Stewart
For those not in the know, Jermaine Stewart was an American R&B singer best known for his 1986 hit single "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off", which reached number 2 in both the UK and Canada. It also reached number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
In truth, and usually I'm better than this, but I had no idea that Jermaine had passed away back in 1997. I'm still taken aback having discovered this fact in writing this intro. Anyway, having released his debut album The Word Is Out in 1984 and followed it up with Frantic Romantic in 1986, his third album Say It Again was released in 1988.
Now released as a special expanded 2CD edition via Cherry Red Records (UK), Say It Again: Deluxe Edition includes the 12 original album tracks plus 20 related bonus tracks - including many A-sides / B-sides and Extended Versions.
1. Don't Talk Dirty to Me
2. Say It Again
3. Get Lucky
4. Got to Be Love
5. Dress It Up
6. Don't Have Sex With Your Ex
7. Is It Really Love?
8. Call It a Miracle
10. My House
11. She's a Teaser
12. My Body
13. Say It Again (Single Version)
14. You Promise
15. Get Lucky (Single Version)
17. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Single Version)
18. Is It Really Love? (Single Version)
1. Say It Again (Extended John Robie Remix)
2. Get Lucky (Extended Remix)
3. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Extended Remix)
4. Is It Really Love? (Extended Mix)
5. Say It Again (Extended Remix)
6. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Remix Edit)
9. Say It Again (the Jingle Mix)
10. Get Lucky (New York Mix)
11. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Radio Edit)
12. Get Lucky (Dub)
13. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Dub)
14. Is It Really Love? (Dub)
We kick off this pop funk dance extravaganza with the brilliant pop dance floor flow of "Don't Talk Dirty to Me" which he backs up perfectly with the title track itself, "Say It Again". That smooth pop goodness is then followed up with what has to be my own personal favorite off the original album, the quite stunning, pop perfect bounce of "Get Lucky". The Janet Jacksonesque "Got To Be Love" is next and is backed by both the pop attitude of "Dress It Up" and the song that we should all pay heed to, "Don't Have Sex With Your Ex".
"Is It Really Love?" hardens up the beats once more, whilst the electro funk of "Call It a Miracle" and the dance floor glide of "Eyes" is yet another showcase of emotion that Jermaine could portray via song. "My House' brings the beat back up again, and that's backed by the fun and lite, easy and breezy "She's a Teaser". The hip-hop vibes of "My Body" round out the original album, but this expanded edition now adds to the party.
"Say It Again (Single Version)", "You Promise" (the B-side to his "Say It Again" 7" single) and then "Get Lucky (Single Version)" are up first, with the first disc rounding out with "Imagine (We're In Love)" (the B-side of his "Get Lucky" 7" single), and then both "Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Single Version)" and "Is It Really Love? (Single Version)".
Easily one of the best '80s artists of this ilk that there was, inclusive of acts such as Janet Jackson, 5Star, Taylor Dayne, Debarge and so, this second disc of gems that begins with "Say It Again (Extended John Robie Remix)" and culminates 14 tracks later with "Is It Really Love? (Dub)" is most definitely one of the BEST second disc's of remixes and extended versions I've come across for an artist in a long, long time.
On an album that featured vocal contributions from artists such as Jody Watley, Deniece Williams, James Ingram, Josie James, and Wanda & Pam Hutchinson from The Emotions, this new 2CD collection disc 2 includes remixes by the respected producer/mixer Phil Harding ("Say It Again" – Extended Remix / The Jingle Mix / "Get Lucky" – Extended Remix / New York Mix / Dub, with other Phil Harding remixes included (jointly credited with his long-term creative partner Ian Curnow) being: "Don’t Talk Dirty To Me" – Extended Remix / Dub / "Is It Really Love?" – Single Version / Extended Remix / Dub.
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Title - 'Well I Ask You: The Complete 60s Recordings'
Artist - Eden Kane
For those not in the know, Eden Kane is an English pop singer best known as a former teen idol in the 1960s. He has also recorded under his birth name (Richard Graham Sarstedt) and with his backing group the Downbeats. Indeed, he is the older brother of musicians Peter Sarstedt and Clive Sarstedt, whom he has collaborated with on numerous Sarstedt Brothers albums.
He had success in the early 1960s as a pop star appealing to a teenage audience with hits including "Well I Ask You" which was a UK No.1 hit in 1961, before moving to the United States, where he began an acting career.
In addition to all of Eden’s Pye, Decca and Fontana recordings, this new 2-CD set entitled Well I Ask You: The Complete 60s Recordings also boasts his rarest offerings which followed, from three elusive singles only available in Australia/New Zealand to an obscure Bell 45 from 1970. Thereafter, Eden reverted to his real name, but reactivated the Eden Kane moniker for a one-off single in 1980.
1. You Make Love So Well
2. Hot Chocolate Crazy
3. Well I Ask You
4. Before I Lose My Mind
5. Get Lost
6. I'm Telling You
7. Forget Me Not
8. A New Kind of Lovin'
9. I Don't Know Why
10. Music for Strings
11. House to Let
12. I Told You
13. Sounds Funny to Me
14. Someone Wants to Know
15. Kiss Me Quick
16. My Little Sue
18. Something Tells Me
19. Another Spring
20. My Time of Evening
21. Ten Out of Ten
22. That's for Me
23. Tomorrow Night
24. I Won't Believe Them
25. Like I Love You
26. Come Back
27. Boys Cry
1. Don't Come Crying to Me
2. Rain, Rain, Go Away
3. Guess Who It Is?
4. Hangin' Around
5. Gonna Do Something About You
6. If You Want This Love
7. Have I Done Something Wrong?
8. Gonna Send You Back to Georgia
9. I Know a Man
10. Sticks and Stones
11. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
12. Shoppin' Around
13. I (Who Have Nothing)
14. On Broadway
15. I Should Care
17. The Last Leaf
18. Magic Town
19. The Whole World Was Crying (With the Dambeats)
20. Gotta Get Through to You
21. A Million Ants
22. My Whole World Is Tumbling Down
23. In the Day of My Youth
24. Time, Love, Hope, Life
25. It Doesn't Matter Anymore
26. Reason to Believe
27. I Played It Like a Fool
28. I Think I Died and Went to Heaven
29. Pulling Me Thru the Bad Times
Wow! Now this has got to be one of the most jam packed-with-gems albums that has ever come out on double disc. Stacked to the gills with no less than 56 songs, if you didn't know about Eden Kane beforehand (like me, admittedly), or if you did but wanted to have all his recordings in one, crystal clear CD spot, then Well I Ask You: The Complete 60s Recordings is the release for you all!
As there are just too many songs to tackle to review completion here, I'll simple review a few that stood out to me. Not that the remainder didn't, but there are always going to be some that have a little more to say for themselves on any album. Point in case is the opener, "You Make Love So Well" which is as perky, as fluid as that era could provide. "Hot Chocolate Crazy" is not only a great title, but inclusive of what I could have sworn was the precursor to the Benny Hill theme, it's just a brilliant pop song. It's title song "Well I Ask You" is, as expected, a track with a hook that deserved to be a #1 hit for Eden in 1961.
Other tracks off the first side that held my ear include the upbeat, Presley-sounding "A New Kind Of Lovin'" and the rockier sounds of "Boy's Cry", with the second disc providing the fun pop sway of "Hangin' Around", "Charade", "A Million Ants", and both "Magic Town" and the collection closer, the surprisingly disco-esque "Pulling Me Thru The Bad Times" with The Downbeats.
Compiled and curated with the full cooperation of Eden Kane, Well I Ask You: The Complete 60s Recordings pays due respect to an artist who still tours to this day.
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Title - 'Johann Sebastian Bach'
Artist - Rafał Blechacz
For those not in the classical know, Rafał Blechacz is a Polish classical pianist. Blechacz began piano lessons at the age of five, and enrolled in the National Arthur Rubinstein Music School in Bydgoszcz three years later. In May 2007, he graduated from the Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz with professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń.
He won second prize at the Artur Rubinstein in Memoriam Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz in 2002, second prize at the 4th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in 2003 (no first prize was awarded), and first prize at the International Piano Competition in Morocco in 2004.
On October 21, 2005, he became the sole recipient of all five first prizes at the 15th International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, taking First Prize and the polonaise, mazurka, sonata, and concerto prizes. No other pianist has achieved this feat.
The now 31-year-old winner of that very same aforementioned 2005 International Chopin Piano Competition, has been immersed in Bach since his childhood and has cultivated a strikingly natural eloquence in his mature interpretations of the composer's keyboard works.
Here on his brand new album, the aptly and simply entitled Johann Sebastian Bach Blechacz adds yet another stunning bow to the Deutsche Grammophon repertoire.
1. Italian Concerto in F major
2. Partita No.1 in B flat major
3. Four Duets
4. Fantasia and Fugue in A minor
5. Partita No.3 in A minor
6. Jesus bleibet meine Freude
The album includes some really big pieces, such as the Italian Concerto, one of Blechacz's signature pieces along with Partita No. 1 and the album closing Jesus bleibet meine Freude.
Blechacz’s set of Johann Sebastian Bach's work here is an exciting, alive recording, one in which the performer’s tremendous technique married to a sense of drama and a palpable enjoyment in presentation culminates in a recording of true, pristine excellence.
Indeed, even if one feels his work exceeds somewhat the just of the movement at times, Blechacz gives no quarter in his headlong enthusiasm to make these pieces thrilling. So, and for that fact alone his work should be not only highly recommended, bit seen live to be fully appreciated.
Title - 'New Era'
Artist - Andreas Ottensamer
For those not in the classical know, Andreas Ottensamer is an Austrian clarinetist and is the principal clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic. Ottensamer commenced his musical studies in 1999 on piano in his hometown and then at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, on violoncello with Wolfgang Herzer and then from 2003 clarinet with Johann Hindler.
Ottensamer is also enrolled as a student at Harvard University in the United States. Ottensamer first gained his orchestral experience as substitute clarinet in the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic and is a former member of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra.
In October 2009, he was a fellow of the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic. From July 2010 to February 2011, he was solo clarinetist of the German Symphony Orchestra, Berlin and since March 2011 he fills the position of solo clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic.
The first prize winner of several competitions with the instruments of clarinet, piano and cello, Ottensamer has performed as soloist and chamber musician worldwide with partners such as the Vienna Virtuosi (members of the Vienna Philharmonic), the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and performers including Leif Ove Andsnes, Angelika Kirchschlager, Julian Rachlin and Yo-Yo Ma.
Now, brilliant Clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer presents a dazzling selection of the clarinet's early repertoire from 18th Century Mannheim on the aptly entitled New Era. Inclusive of works by J. and C.P. Stamitz, Mozart and Danzi the dazzling new album also features duets with Albrecht Mayer
and Emmanuel Pahud, two of the great wind soloists of our time; and Ottensamer's friends and colleagues at the Berliner Philharmoniker.
1-3. J. STAMITZ Clarinet Concerto in B flat major
4-6. DANZI Concertino for Clarinet, Bassoon and Orchestra in B flat major op. 47
7. MOZART "Se viver non degg'io"
8. DANZI Fantasy on "La ci darem la mano"
9. MOZART "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto"
10-12. C. STAMITZ Clarinet Concerto No. 7 in E flat major
Ottensamer is joined by the Kammerakademie Potsdam for this recording and along side each other the recording is as strong as anything this young man has ever done, in my humble opinion. Beautiful sweet clarinet sound and projection combine to bring forth an impeccable clarinet technique here on New Era.
Ottenshamer's performance is smooth as silk, his control of micro-dynamics is truly remarkable. From start to finish, I found this album a highly enjoyable listening experience and I know you will also. Ergo, I recommend New Era to all lovers of classical clarinet work the world over for this is as good as it gets. Of that, have no doubt.