Insider Gossip
  Monthly Hot Picks
  Book Reviews
  CD Reviews
  Concert Reviews
  DVD Reviews
  Game Reviews
  Movie Reviews
  Gerard Butler ('Angel Has Fallen')
  Constance Wu ('Hustlers')
  NEW! Weston Cage Coppola & Jesse Kove ('D-Day')
  Natalie Portman ('Lucy In The Sky')
  NEW! Renée Zellweger ('Judy')
  Sony Legacy Record Store Day 2019 [Black Friday]
  NEW! Saoirse Ronan ('Little Women')
  Sophie Turner/Jessica Chastain ('Dark Phoenix')
  Chloë Grace Moretz ('Greta')
  John C. Reilly ('Stan & Ollie')
  Octavia Spencer ('Ma')
  Danny Boyle ('Yesterday')
  Mark Hamill ('Child's Play')
  Richard E. Grant ('Can You Ever Forgive Me?')
  Ella Hunt ('Anna and the Apocalypse')
  Barry Jenkins ('If Beale Street Could Talk')
  Use Pro-Exterior Shine For ALL Your Outdoor Needs!
  Michigan Siding Company for ALL Your Outdoor Needs
  Moobs 'The Canary' Dingus
  '70s - Eric Burdon (The Animals / WAR) (2014)
  '70s - Gary U.S. Bonds (2013)
  '70s - Donna Summer (2003)
  '70s - STYX (2013)
  '70s - KC & The Sunshine Band (2013)
  '70s - Thin Lizzy (2011)
  '70s - Steve Hackett (2011)
  '70s - Dionne Warwick (2014)
  '70s - Ray Thomas (The Moody Blues) (2015)
  '70s - Sweet (2015)
  '70s - David Essex (2015)
  '80s - The Original Bucks Fizz (2013)
  '80s - Naked Eyes (2006)
  '80s - Rick Springfield (2006)
  '80s - Billy Squier (2006)
  '80s - Midge Ure / Ultravox (2013)
  '80s - The Outfield (2006)
  '80s - Survivor (2006)
  '80s - Edward Tudor-Pole (2013)
  '80s - Heaven 17 (2013)
  '80s - Matchbox (2013)
  '80s - Nik Kershaw (2013)
  '80s - Visage / Steve Strange (2013)
  '80s - ABC (2007)
  '80s - Tommy Tutone (2006)
  '80s - Berlin (2005)
  '80s - The Motels (2006)
  '80s - Bow Wow Wow (2006)
  '80s - The NEW Cars (2006)
  '80s - Thomas Dolby (2007)
  '80s - Deborah Gibson (2007)
  '80s - Scorpions (2007)
  '80s - The Bangles (2007)
  '80s - Nils Lofgren (2009)
  '80s - Tears For Fears (2008)
  '80s - Nik Kershaw (2006)
  '80s - Cutting Crew (2009)
  '80s - ABC (2008)
  '80s - Wang Chung (2009)
  '80s - Fàshiön [Music]
  '80s - Air Supply (2009)
  '80s - Lita Ford (2009)
  '80s - Jonathan Butler (2013)
  '80s - Nik Kershaw (2010)
  '80s - Paul Young (2010)
  '80s - Hazell Dean (2010)
  '80s - Toyah (2010)
  '80s - OMD (2010)
  '80s - Will Powers (2010)
  '80s - Scorpions (2010)
  '80s - Chas & Dave (2010)
  '80s - Sinitta (2010)
  '80s - Musical Youth (2010)
  '80s - The Barron Knights (2010)
  '80s - Level 42 (2010)
  '80s - Brother Beyond (2010)
  '80s - Junior Giscombe (2010)
  '80s - Imagination (2010)
  '80s - Owen Paul McGee (2010)
  '80s - Alannah Myles (2010)
  '80s - Paul Hardcastle (2010)
  '80s - The Original Buck Fizz (2010)
  '80s - Steve Blacknell ('80's VJ /MTV Host)
  '80s - The English Beat (2010)
  '80s - Boy Meets Girl (2010)
  '80s - Jon Lord (Whitesnake) (2012)
  '80s - Modern Romance (2010)
  '80s - Doctor & The Medics (2010)
  '80s - Ex-Simple Minds (2010)
  '80s - Mai Tai (2010)
  '80s - Dexys / Kevin Rowland (2014)
  '80s - Terence Trent D'Arby (2009)
  '80s - Yazz (2010)
  '80s - Jona Lewie (2010)
  '80s - Hugh Cornwell & Clem Burke
  '80s - Blondie (2010)
  '80s - The Belle Stars (2010)
  '80s - DEVO (2013)
  '80s - Big Country (2011)
  '80s - T'Pau (2010)
  '80s - Mr. Mister (2010)
  '80s - Kajagoogoo (2011)
  '80s - Jon Anderson (2011)
  '80s - Katrina & The Waves (2011)
  '80s - Status Quo (Andy Bown, 2011)
  '80s - Status Quo (John 'Rhino' Edwards, 2011)
  '80s - Nazareth (2011)
  '80s - Men Without Hats (2011)
  '80s - John Foxx (2011)
  '80s - ZZ Top (2013)
  '80s - Information Society (2014)
  '80s - Nine Below Zero (2015)
  '80s - Rusty Egan (2015)
  '80s - Tygers of Pan Tang (2015)
  '80s - Holly Johnson (2015)
  '80s - 10,000 Maniacs (2015)
  '80s - Right Said Fred (2015)
  '80s - The Selecter (2015)
  '80s - ZZ Top (2015)
  '90s - Julia Fordham (2002)
  '90s - Department S (2013)
  '90s - Ozzy Osbourne / Black Sabbath (2012)
  '90s - Steve Lukather / Toto (2011)
  '90s - Steel Pulse (2013)
  '90s - Europe (2010)
  '90s - Judas Priest (2010)
  '90s - Marillion (2013)
  '90s - Richard Marx (2011)
  '90s - Hall & Oates (2011)
  '90s - Urge Overkill (2011)
  '90s - Doro Pesch (2011)
  '90s - Queensryche (2011)
  '90s - Hugh Cornwell /The Stranglers (2013)
  '90s - Tracy Bonham (2014)
  '90s - Marcella Detroit (2015)
  '90s - Thunder (2015)

6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Black & White Night [30th Anniversary Edition]'
Artist - Roy Orbison

For those not in the know, and with that said, why on earth wouldn't you already know this, but the late, great Roy Orbison (also known by his nickname "The Big O"), was an American singer-songwriter and musician, best known for his trademark sunglasses, distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads.

Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country and western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top 40, including "Only the Lonely", "Crying", and "Oh, Pretty Woman".

The rest, as they say, is history and so as much as its been said his career stagnated from 1965 through the entire 1970s, come the mid-1980s, Roy Orbison (who, yes, had been out of the limelight for quite some time), suddenly found that his song, “In Dreams” was being prominently featured in David Lynch’s landmark 1986 film noir 'Blue Velvet.'

As fate would have it, suddenly that hit film along with the chart topper from another era helped reignite interest in the "Big O" and so on September 30th, 1987, Orbison, then 51, staged a remarkable comeback with the help of guest musicians whom he had influenced: Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Jennifer Warnes.

The all-star concert at the Ambassador Hotel’s Cocoanut Grove night club was filmed a television special and broadcast as Roy Orbison & Friends: Black & White Night on Cinemax the following January, sadly, less than a year before the icon’s untimely passing.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of that very same renowned televised comeback concert in Los Angeles, Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings has teamed up with Roy’s Boys LLC, the Nashville-based company founded by the late icon’s sons to administer their father’s catalog and safeguard his legacy for a special commemorative album release.

Ergo, what we have here is a delicious Black & White Night (30th Anniversary Edition) 2LP vinyl set that includes three tracks omitted from the original 1989 live album of the same name.

Released on October 18th, 2019, the film Black & White Night 30 will also be made available in its entirety, and will feature prominently on the Roy Orbison YouTube channel come October 23rd.

This re-imagined, re-edited, remastered and expanded version of the original television special was released as both as a CD/DVD set and as a CD/Blu-ray set in 2017 by Roy’s Boys and Legacy Recordings, but trust me when I say, listening to it now on lush newly-remastered 180-gram vinyl just makes my skin tingle!

Side A:
1. "Only the Lonely"
2. "Leah"
3. "In Dreams"
4. "Crying"
5. "Uptown"

Side B:
1. "The Comedians"
2. "Blue Angel"
3. "It's Over"
4. "Running Scared"
5. "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)"

Side C:
1. "Mean Woman Blues"
2. "Candy Man"
3. "Ooby Dooby'
4. "Blue Bayou'
5. "Go! Go! Go! (Down the Line)"

Side D:
1. "(All I Can Do Is) Dream You"
2. "Claudette"
3. "Oh, Pretty Woman" (Live, Alternative Version)
4. "Oh, Pretty Woman"

Listening to these tracks, one after the other, flipping the vinyl over at the end of each side-finishing cut, it can begin to feel like you've entered unto something that there is no going back on for the night.

His voice, his unmistakable vocal tone is timeless, let alone those of all his famous guests, which makes every single one of these songs a listening experience all of, and unto itself.

I mean, no one, but no one had the kind of timber, melody, and operatic voice that Roy Orbison possessed. He could sway and slide into the highest notes with the greatest of ease, unleashing one hit song or beloved album track after another.

They just all, quite literally, flowed from his mouth and with no insidious chatter in between, well, we are presented with a pure, beautiful, unadulterated live show of soulful music from this Texan who left us far too soon.

Listening along in the knowledge that Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes, and K.D. Lang are his back up singers, and that he has alongside him such greats as Bruce Springsteen Tom Waits, a young, unabashed Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther and Steven Soles - let alone the fact that his backing band that night was the TCB Band, which accompanied Elvis Presley from 1969 until his death in 1977 - and you already know that this recording (in all its forms) will live on forever in the annals of music/film history.

It's also, even if you are not a fan, an experience that should be undertaken by all lovers of when music was real. Nothing is over dubbed, nothing is highly accentuated, everything is as real, as honest as it was when he stepped up to the mic in 1987 with his friends.

In 2017, Roy’s youngest son Alex Orbison and his co-editor Luke Chalk went back and re-edited the television special, using previously unseen shots from the hundreds of hours of footage that existed from the seven-camera shoot.

They also restored the program to reflect the correct set order, so that viewers could see Roy, brilliantly backed by Elvis Presley’s TCB Band (James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, Jerry Scheff, Ron Tutt), blast through massive Orbison hits such as “Only the Lonely, “In Dreams” and “Crying” just as the star-studded live audience witnessed them on that very night.

Black & White Night 30 was born.

In 1989, the audio from the original television special was posthumously released on CD, LP and cassette as A Black And White Night Live by Roy Orbison And Friends.

This single disc album excluded the song “Claudette,” and it also left off “Blue Angel,” which was recorded that night, but didn’t air as part of the original television special.

Hence, this new 2LP vinyl collection of Black & White Night (30th Anniversary Edition) includes those tracks, as well as an alternate version of Roy’s smash hit “Oh, Pretty Woman,” in addition to the original version originally aired, now in the order in which they were performed.

Housed in a deluxe and beautiful gatefold jacket, Black & White Night (30th Anniversary Edition) also comes with a download card for all 19 tracks.

Official 2LP Vinyl Purchase Link

Official Roy Orbison Store

Official Roy Orbison YouTube Channel

Title - 'Big Little Lies [Music From Season 2]' (2LP)
Artist - Various

For those not in the know, ABKCO Music & Records actually released its second 'Big Little Lies' soundtrack digitally on July 19th, just ahead of the July 21st season finale of the multiple Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning series.

That was immediately followed with the CD on September 6th, and a quite wondrous 2LP vinyl in gatefold sleeve on September 27th, 2019.

Big Little Lies: Music from Season 2 of the HBO® Limited Series includes music by Willie Nelson, Charles Bradley and the Spinners and is highlighted by previously unreleased exclusive tracks by Leon Bridges and Jim James.

Side A:
1. 'I'll Be Around' - The Spinners (Episode 1)
2. 'Good Thing Gone' - Elle King (Episode 2)
3. 'Harvest Moon' - Cassandra Wilson (Episode 1)

Side B:
4. 'Until You Came Into My Life' - Ann Peebles (Episode 6)
5. 'The Fade Out Line' - Phoebe Killdeer and The Short Straws (Episode 1)
6. 'Great Big Bundle of Love' - Brenton Wood (Episode 2)
7. 'Let Love Stand A Chance' - Charles Bradley (feat. Menahan Street Band) (Episode 2)

Side C:
8. 'Baby' - Donnie & Joe Emerson (Episode 5)
9. 'Dreams' - POP ETC (Episode 4)
10. 'That Was Yesterday' - Leon Bridges (Episode 7)
11. 'Why Can't We Live Together' - Jim James (Episode 4)

Side D:
12. 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain' - Willie Nelson feat. Paula Nelson (Episode 7)
13. 'Piece of My Heart' - Christina Vierra and The Ryan Rehm Band (Episode 7)
14. 'Shake Sugaree' - Elizabeth Cotten and Brenda Evans (Episode 6)

In truth, Big Little Lies [Music From Season 2] is a rather solid, if not stand alone studio album that, once again, melds and weaves various musical influences into and throughout the TV series.

Side A opens with The Spinners' beloved first hit, 'I'll Be Around' (played in the very first episode when the Monterey Five greet each other on the first day of school), and then follows on with both the raw, earthy, breathy tone of 'Good Thing Gone' (from Elle King) and then the crystalline beauty of the ballad 'Harvest Moon' from Cassandra Wilson (which plays whilst Celeste drives home and remembers the good moments with Perry while Mary Louise cooks dinner).

Side B opens with the always-a-delight-to-hear 1974 hit 'Until You Came Into My Life' from Ann Peebles, which in turn is followed by Phoebe Killdeer & The Short Straws' finger-snappin' gem 'The Fade Out Line' (which plays at the open air bar while Jane and Celeste are having a drink together).

Next up is the pep and bounce flow of 1970's 'Great Big Bundle Of Love' from Brenton Wood with 2013's 'Let Love Stand A Chance' from Charles Bradley now being enforced here by the Brooklyn, New York-based instrumental group, the Menahan Street Band.

Side C opens with Donnie And Joe Emerson late '70s smooth roll 'Baby,' and then comes one of the stand out tracks for me on this entire 2LP set, POP ETC's magnificently lush take on Fleetwood Mac's infamous 'Dreams.'

Played as Madeline is out of bed early and watching the light of the sunrise against the ocean while drinking coffee, that right royal musical gem is backed seamlessly by a pair of previously unreleased songs: Leon Bridges' 'That Was Yesterday' and Jim James' Why Can't We Live Together by Jim James cover of Timmy Thomas's gorgeous, spare soul mantra from 1973.

Side D opens with Willie Nelson and his daughter Paula on Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain,' and baks that up with an absolutely blistering take on Janis Joplan's 'Piece Of My Heart' by Christina Vierra and The Ryan Rehm Band.

Finally bringing the musical show to a close is an amazing trip down memory lane on 'Shake Sugaree,' from Elizabeth Cotten on guitar and her twelve year-old great grandchild Brenda Evans singing from back in 1967.

2LP Vinyl Amazon Purchase Link

ABKCO @ Facebook

Title - Silver Dreams – Complete Albums 1975-1980 [6CD]
Artist - The Babys

In truth, The Babys are probably better known for what their various members achieved later in their careers; singer John Waite’s massive solo success with the single ‘Missing You’ in 1984, and keyboard player Jonathan Cain, who would go on to be a principal member and song writer with Journey.

In fact you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Babys were an American band, such was their impact on the US during the latter half of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, but their origins go back to London in 1974.

For that's when keyboard player Mike Corby met Adrian Millar, who were joined by Wally Stocker on lead guitar, Tony Brock on drums, and singer/ bass guitarist John Waite.

Although an album was recorded and shelved in 1975, it is now included here on this incredible 6-CD Box-Set Silver Dreams – Complete Albums 1975-1980 (out November 29th, 2019 via Cherry Red Records UK) as “The Official Unofficial Babys Album”.

For the debut album proper they signed to Chrysalis Records in 1976 to release their eponymous debut, The Babys. Co-produced by Bob Ezrin, The Babys set their stall out from the beginning as melodic rockers, propelled by John Waite’s bluesy, soulful vocals.

Disc: 1 - The Babys (1976)
1. 'Looking for Love'
2. 'If You've Got the Time'
3. 'I Believe in Love'
4. 'Wild Man'
5. 'Laura'
6. 'I Love How You Love Me'
7. 'Rodeo'
8. 'Over and Over'
9. 'Read My Stars'
10. 'Dying Man'
11. 'If You've Got the Time' (Alternative Mix/Version)
12. 'Head Above the Waves' (Single B-Side)
13. 'If You've Got the Time' (Mono)

In truth, The Babys shipped their corporate rock, self-titled debut LP as the snot nosed punk scene was taking hold.

The recording rides high out of the block behind the album's two strongest tracks. The pulsating 'Looking For Love' provides a hot introduction to the Chrysalis-signed group, as big drums and a throbbing bass line drive the muscle flexing rocker, which also features a tasty guitar solo.

The quartet chase the ass kickin' opener with two-minutes of pure power pop magic via the infectious, lay-it-on-the-line 'If You've Got the Time'.

Chock full of slick production, thanks to the tandem of studio veteran Bob Ezrin and Brian Christian, sure this debut is hit 'n' miss throughout the ten original tracks, but it's also a great flag-bearing standard set for what was about to come.

Released within a year, 1977’s Broken Heart featured the hit singles ‘Isn’t It Time’ (US #13 & UK #45) and ‘Silver Dreams’.

This time the album was produced by Ron Nevison, famed for his work for The Who, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Bad Company, as well as Chrysalis label mates UFO.

Disc: 2 Broken Heart (1977)
1. 'Wrong or Right'
2. 'Give Me Your Love'
3. 'Isn't It Time'
4. 'And If You Could See Me Fly'
5. 'The Golden Mile'
6. 'Broken Heart'
7. 'I'm Falling'
8. 'Rescue Me'
9. 'Silver Dreams'
10. 'A Piece of the Action'
11. 'Money (That's What I Want)'
12. 'Silver Dreams' (Mono)
13. 'Isn't It Time' (Single Edit)
14. 'Isn't It Time' (Mono)

After debuting with the Bob Ezrin and Brian Christian-produced The Babys LP, John Waite and company turned to Ron Nevison to man the board for the Broken Heart recording sessions in 1977.

Nevison's touch is all over the ten song sophomore effort from The Babys, as evident by the strings that accompany album opener 'Wrong or Right' and grandiose closer 'A Piece of the Action'.

The sound is also cleaner, and Waite's vocals are given more attention on Broken Heart then their debut.

Buried between the A-side accessible duo of 'Isn't It Time' and the mellow five-minute arrangement of 'The Golden Mile', Broken Heart breaks loose with the all-about-swagger 'And If You Could See Me Fly'.

Written by Waite, 'And If You Could See Me Fly' may be the shortest cut from Broken Heart, but it packs muscle with a cool stop/start riff, cowbell fills and a hot guitar solo.

Sticking with Ron Nevison for 1978’s Head First, The Babys had trimmed down to a three-piece of John Waite, Wally Stocker and Tony Brock.

Peaking at #22, Head First was their highest charting US album, and features the singles ‘Every Time I Think Of You’ (US #13) plus the title track, ‘Head First’.

Disc: 3 - Head First (1978)
1. 'Love Don't Prove I'm Right'
2. 'Every Time I Think of You'
3. 'I Was One'
4. 'White Lightning'
5. 'Run to Mexico'
6. 'Head First'
7. 'You (Got It)'
8. 'Please Don't Leave Me Here'
9. 'California'
10. 'Head First' (Single Edit)
11. 'Every Time I Think of You' (Single Edit)
12. 'Head First' (Mono)
13. 'Every Time I Think of You' (Mono)

For my money, Head First is arguably The Babys' best album as it combines the early classic rock sound of this British band with the power-poppier, new-wavy elements of their later albums.

Songs like 'Every Time I Think of You', 'I Was One' and 'Head First' are simply irresistible, even today, and together, once more with the production values of Ron Nevison, no wonder it was their best-received album to date.

Produced by Keith Olsen, famed for his platinum work with the Rick Springfield, Pat Benatar, Heart, Whitesnake, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon, by 1980’s Union Jacks The Babys had been joined by Jonathan Cain on keyboards and Ricky Phillips on bass.

It features the singles ‘Midnight Rendezvous’ and ‘Back On My Feet Again’, mono versions of these tracks are also included as bonus tracks.

Disc: 4 - Union Jacks (1980)
1. 'Back on My Feet Again'
2. 'True Love True Confession'
3. 'Midnight Rendezvous'
4. 'Union Jack'
5. 'In Your Eyes'
6. 'Anytime'
7. 'Jesus, Are You There?'
8. 'Turn Around in Tokyo'
9. 'Love Is Just a Mystery'
10. 'Midnight Rendezvous' (Single Edit)
11. 'Intro' (Live in Cleveland)
12. 'Broken Heart' (B-Side - Live in Cleveland)
13. 'Money (That's What I Want)' (B-Side - Live in Cleveland)
14. 'Everytime I Think of You' (Live in Cleveland)
15. 'Isn't It Time' (Live in Cleveland)
16. 'Head First' (Live in Cleveland)
17. 'Back on My Feet Again' (Mono)
18. 'Midnight Rendezvous' (Mono)

Into the '80s with The Babys, and the group wasted no time getting down to melodic rock business with 'Back on My Feet Again', the made-for-radio opener from Union Jacks.

While not as popular as the group's seventies hit singles (namely 'Isn't It Time' and 'Every Time I Think of You'), 'Back on My Feet Again' managed to sneak into the Billboard Top 40 for a few weeks, peaking at number 33.

Interestingly enough, 'Back on My Feet Again' was the final single issued by The Babys to chart. The Babys' high gloss Union Jacks effort adds 'True Love, True Confession', the late night cruisin' 'Midnight Rendevous', and the building A-side closing title track and 'Anytime'.

The live tracks are a joy to behold, given that I personally had never heard them before. At times rough, perhaps raw, but always chock full of '80s ambiance and rockin' guitars and vocals, they are the true gold to be found on this disc, that's for sure.

Sticking with producer Keith Olsen, and maintaining the same line-up as Union Jacks, their fifth and final album in as many years was 1980’s On The Edge.

Now featuring mono versions of ‘Turn And Walk Away’ and ‘Postcard’, The Babys split shortly after the album’s release.

Disc: 5 - On The Edge (1980)
1. 'Turn and Walk Away'
2. 'Sweet 17'
3. 'She's My Girl'
4. 'Darker Side of Town'
5. 'Rock 'N' Roll Is (Alive and Well)'
6. 'Downtown'
7. 'Postcard'
8. 'Too Far Gone'
9. 'Gonna Be Somebody'
10. 'Love Won't Wait'
11. 'Turn and Walk Away' (Mono)
12. 'Postcard' (Mono)

In truth, a pretty good effort for The Baby's, but better if you consider the fact that it was the bands swan song. The first half (Side One, as it were), is so much better than what follows, but perhaps showcases the fact that the band seemed to have moved apart and lost enthusiasm in the studio by then.

And whilst not as angry and deeply written as the previous masterpiece, Union Jacks, it is still full of good rock three minute sing-alongs! A worthy ending to a small, but eventful career of The Babys, for sure.

As a bonus this collection’s 6th disc kicks off with the live, promo only Live At The Tower Theatre, Philadelphia from a 1977 concert whilst promoting their debut record.

To complete the picture we go back to their very first recordings, with the aforementioned The Official Unofficial BABYS Album.

Disc: 6 - The Official Unofficial BABYS Album (1978)
1. 'Lookin' for Love'
2. 'Rodeo'
3. 'Wild Man'
4. 'If You've Got the Time'
5. 'I Believe in Love'
6. 'Give Me Your Love'
7. 'If You Could See Me Fly'
8. 'Bitch or Angel'
9. 'I Wear Your Ring'
10. 'I'm Falling'
11. 'Time on My Hands'
12. 'You'll Get Yours'
13. 'Do It Nice'
14. 'Step in Line'
15. 'Rainy Day'
16. 'Jack the Lad'
17. 'If You Could See Me Fly'

This collection is interesting if not for the songs themselves, then for the insight into the early Babys that this collection provides.

Stand out tracks include the Corby-penned gem, 'Jack the Lad,' as well as 'You'll Get Yours,' 'Do It Nice,' and the early version of the Corby/Waite classic, 'I'm Falling.'

Many of these demos were recorded before lead guitarist, Walt Stocker, joined the band and feature Corby handling the guitar - and in impressive form, I might add.

This collection is evidence that Corby is an excellent guitarist as well as keyboardist, which he is more known for. It also reveals his proficiency as a songwriter and leaves no doubt that he was a very important part of their sound.

The Babys - Silver Dreams: The Complete Albums 1975-1980 is a fitting and thorough testament to a band that truly deserved to crossover into mainstream success.

Title - 'Magdalene'
Artist - FKA Twigs

Tahliah Debrett Barnett, known professionally as FKA twigs, is an English singer and songwriter raised in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England.

She became a backup dancer after moving to South London when she was 17 years old and made her musical debut with the extended plays EP1 (2012) and EP2 (2013).

Her debut studio album, LP1, was released in August 2014 to critical acclaim, peaking at #16 on the UK Albums Chart and #30 on the US Billboard 200 (it was later nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize).

She released the M3LL155X EP in 2015 to further critical praise and subsequently, her work has been described as "genre-bending", drawing on various genres including electronic music, trip hop, R&B, and avant-garde.

The follow up to FKA twigs’ critically acclaimed Brit Award and Mercury Prize nominated debut LP1 (which was also regarded as one of the best albums of 2014), Magdalene is out November 8th, 2019 (via Young Turks, once again).

Inclusive of Top 40 rapper Future, who appears on the album’s second single 'Holy Terrain,' continuing a run of rap collaborations including an appearance on A$AP Rocky’s Testing album.

1. 'Thousand Eyes'
2. 'Home With You'
3. 'Sad Day'
4. 'Holy Terrain' [Explicit]
5. 'Mary Magdalene'
6. 'Fallen Alien'
7. 'Mirrored Heart'
8. 'Daybed'
9. 'Cellophane'

On an album where almost every track is built upon a base piano line, each one gradually adding to the musical impressions and expressions that FKA twigs wishes us to behold, its easy to quickly sense that you are in the presence of something ravishingly exquisite here.

At times Tori Amos and a young Kate Bush, but yet at all times still her unique self, tracks such as the lush album closer 'Cellopane' stand out to me, but it's when she loses herself within a song - such as 'Holy Terrain' [Explicit] featuring Future - that you know this recording is one of her most accomplished and, one imagines, self-pleasing to date.

Which runs alongside the opposing, underlying theme here of a woman brought to her knees, exhausted and shattered with and by life. She has had enough of the prying eyes from both public and personal quarters, is sick and tired of failed personal and public relationships, and yet is still standing (somewhat) strong.

Tracks such as the rhythmical title cut 'Mary Magdalene' and the impressively cultured 'Fallen Alien' showcase how she can turn the direction she is headed in on a dime, shapeshifting both the melody and the narrative in such a way that her voice takes on a whole new level of magical expression.

Another great track is the cinemascope ballad 'Sad Day,' where she pushes all known boundaries of what we've come to know of her music, once again refusing to conform to traditional arrangements.

In short, FKA twigs' music is unpredictable, always sonic, and without a shadow of a doubt, luxuriously expressive, soulful and full of pathways that explore regions both known and once-unknown.

Whether she tinges her vocal approach with choral or operatic stylings, or delves into a breezy layer of digital manipulation, or is just tuned into her bare, stripped and raw and emotive vocal, everything here on Magdalene is as incredible as you could have ever hoped it would be.

FKA twigs will tour the US in November with a theatrical performance that debuted in May to universal acclaim as well as several major festivals (Afropunk Brooklyn and Atlanta, Flog Gnaw) and has already undergone a Press campaign that includes: September i-D cover, multi-page feature in Vogue October issue, television appearances and more.

Official 'Magdalene' Purchase Links

Title - 'Stronger Now'
Artist - Carol Albert

Healing is a process and there is no substitute for time. As we move through each phase, we grow stronger.

Carol Albert has been very open about her recovery from the unexpected loss of her husband in 2014, letting go on the soul-soothing album Fly Away Butterfly.

On the cover of her upcoming brand new album Stronger Now (due out January 31st, 2020), we quickly see that Carol’s radiant smile has indeed returned.

Furthermore, the delicate, gossamer wings of a butterfly have evolved into powerful, feathery wings, mighty and capable of fending for herself while gracefully soaring to new heights.

And that is exactly what the award-winning composer, pianist, keyboardist and vocalist does on the aptly-named Stronger Now, which she produced with two-time GRAMMY® winner Paul Brown and Lew Laing.

1. 'Stronger Now' (3:43)
2. 'Love Again' (4:03)
3. 'Perfect Sunday' (4:03)
4. 'For The Moment' (4:24)
5. 'Femme Flight' (Album Version) (4:25)
6. 'Winter Rain' (5:31)
7. 'Sun's Out' (Album Version) (3:55)
8. 'I Am Fine' (4:39)
9. 'Moon On The Water' (4:23)
10. 'Til We Meet Again' (5:27)

On the album opener, the empowered, soaring title track, Carol immediately makes her listeners aware she has begun moving forward and is now ready to embrace her ornately luxuriant and vibrant piano work once again.

Setting her emotional journey to music, it's been said that Carol wrote Stronger Now intimately journaling her period of refortification.

Indeed, throughout the ten-song set, Albert summons the courage to again feel joy, love and laughter balanced with healthy periods of reflection, solitude and introspection.

Tracks such as both the melodic, uplifting 'Love Again' and the fragrant Latin jazz escapade 'Perfect Sunday' (the latter inclusive of Lee Thornberg's horns) are pure, unadulterated joys to behold, and are backed seamlessly by both 'For The Moment' (which features Paul Brown on guitar), and my own personal favorite, the gently frenetic Latin jazz fusion of Carol's impassioned piano work (combined with flutist Ragan Whiteside and saxophonist Magdalena Chovancova) on 'Femme Flight' (Album Version).

The weighty sojourn of 'Winter Rain' showcases another side, another mood shall we say, of Carol's chosen art form, but she doesn't hang around there too long before she's bursting into the light once again on the revitalizing 'Sun’s Out.'

As if needing to calm people's nerves about how she is handling the passing of her late husband, up next is a recurring mantra to them in the form of the reassuring 'I Am Fine,' with a career defining piece of piano poetry up next within 'Moon On The Water.'

The album then rounds out with the ode to her late husband, the sanguine, hope-threaded 'Til We Meet Again,' which complete with Daniel Baraszu’s stirring acoustic guitar, elevates the track just enough for us to feel that Carol is closing that previously-performed chapter on this period of her life and is now welcoming the next.

Featuring: Paul Brown (guitar), Dan Baraszu (guitar), Lil John Roberts (drums), Jay Williams (drums), Sam Sims (bass), Ragan Whiteside (flute), Magdalena Chovancova (sax), Joseph Patrick Moore (bass), and many other talented musicians.

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Carol Albert @ Facebook

Carol Albert @ Twitter

Title - 'Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival'
Artist - Daniil Trifonov

For those not in the know, Grammy Award winning Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov – winner of Gramophone’s 2016 Artist of the Year award – has made a spectacular ascent of the classical music world as a solo artist, champion of the concerto repertoire, chamber and vocal collaborator, and composer.

Combining consummate technique with rare sensitivity and depth, his performances are a perpetual source of awe. “He has everything and more … tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” marveled pianist Martha Argerich.

Trifonov recently added a first Grammy Award to his already considerable string of honors, winning Best Instrumental Solo Album of 2018 with Transcendental, a double album of Liszt’s works that marks his third title as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist.

As The Times of London notes, he is “without question the most astounding pianist of our age.”

After the highly acclaimed album Destination Rachmaninov – Departure Daniil Trifonov concludes his Rachmaninov project with a coupling of the composer’s Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3.

On Destination Rachmaninov: Arrival (released via Deutsche Grammophon), gifted pianist Trifonov once again teams with The Philadelphia Orchestra as conducted by the also gifted Yannick Nézet-Séguin for a continued unique and highly successful approach to Rachmaninov.

1 The Silver Sleigh Bells (op. 35, 1st movt.)
2-4 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in F Sharp minor (op. 1)
5 Vocalise (op. 34 no 14)
6-8 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in D minor (op. 30)

Including Trifonov’s own transcriptions of Rachmaninov’s famous, beloved, heart-rending Vocalise and virtuosic The Silver Sleigh Bells, it's the latter that begins the journey here. The choral-orchestral masterpiece is simply magnificent to behold and is a near seven minute, at times frenetically controlled, work of impassioned beauty.

The four-part Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in F Sharp minor (op. 1) is less corybantic, instead choosing to flow sweetly, gently, curving and bending in the air as if it were in flight.

Vocalise is a short, but sweet melody and Trifonov dedicates his meticulous time to in rather splendid fashion and then comes Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in D minor (op. 30).

On what could easily have become a rather flashy, even loud piece, given that it builds and falls, ebbs and flows, with peaks and troughs throughout, luckily Trifonov and Nézet-Séguin are more clearly focused on allowing the music to continually grow and swell naturally.

As always, their combined technical prowess is flawless and it all conveys such an energy and finesse of touch throughout. Indeed, the balance between piano and orchestra, especially during the opening gambit and its accompaniments is phenomenal.

Amazon Purchase Link

Title - 'The Roots Of Great White (1978-1982)'
Artist - Dante Fox

From the vault of powerhouse vocalist, Jack Russell, comes this almost lost gem of early demo recordings featuring Russell’s earliest recorded collaborations with guitarist Mark Kendall, which formed the foundation of ’80s hard rock icons Great White!

Includes songs that would eventually find their way onto Great White’s 1984 self-titled debut album, such as 'In Love' (later re-written as 'On Your Knees') and 'Money' (later rewritten as 'Stick It'), Dante Fox's The Roots Of Great White (1978-1982) is now available on both CD and limited edition BLUE vinyl!

1. 'In Love'
2. 'Last time'
3. 'Motor Love'
4. 'Money'
5. 'Head Over Heels'
6. 'There's No Way'
7. 'Front Row Girl'
8. 'The Strike'
9. 'Bead In The Rain'
10. 'Lonnie Never Lied'
11. 'Stay Away'
12. 'Need Your Love'
13. 'On The Run'
14. 'She's Got Fever'
15. 'Calling You'
16. 'Space Age Rocker'
17. 'The Blues'

Kicking things off with the raucous 'In Love,' the more melodic 'Last Time' is then backed by both the one-two punch of the guitar-heavy 'Motor Love' and the mid-'80s rock brilliance of 'Money.'

The thunderous 'Head Over Heels' is one of my own personal favorites here from the new bunch, and that's backed seamlessly by both 'There's No Way' and the pulsating 'Front Row Girl.'

A bout of strident guitars come to the fore on 'The Strike' which is followed by the foot-tappin' fervency of 'Bead In The Rain,' the soaring 'Lonnie Never Lied,' and then both out and out rockers 'Stay Away' and 'Need Your Love.'

'On The Run' has a (obviously) nice late-'80s rock vibe to it and is backed by the methodical, rock by numbers 'She's Got Fever,' with the album rounding out with both the billowing 'Space Age Rocker,' and then the guitar-tastic, finger-snappin' blues melodies of 'The Blues.'

Official CD Purchase Link

Official BLUE Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Zeitgeist'
Artist - Frank Wyatt And Friends

Simply put, Frank Wyatt & Friends delves into his musical career and take you on a fantastic journey with a new Pedal Giant Animals production, Zeitgeist!

Zeitgeist is a collaborative music endeavor featuring members of the progressive rock bands Happy The Man, Oblivion Sun, and the Pedal Giant Animals project.

The recording project started out as an idea for a Happy The Man reunion CD, but evolved to include many other musicians so another Pedal Giant Animals project was born!

The music was produced in the studios of the respective artists and at Crafty Hands Studio using state of the art recording technologies as well as some old school hardware and techniques.

So, of course, this wonderfully unique gathering of such great musicians always promised to deliver a beautiful and exciting musical experience and here on the brand new album, Zeitgeist that promise has been well and truly fulfilled.

1. 'Zeitgeist'
2. 'Leaving '
3. 'Twelve Jumps'
4. 'Eleventh Hour '
5. 'The Approach'
6. 'Fred's Song'
7. 'To Venus (Perelandra Mvt. I, Andante)'
8. 'The Green Lady (Perelandra Mvt. II, Allegretto con moto) '
9. 'The Golden Feast (Perelandra Mvt.III, Allegro)'
10. 'Blessed Be He (Perelandra Mvt. IV, Presto)'

Opening with the introductory storytelling title track 'Zeitgeist,' the beautifully lush, swaying 'Leaving' is next and that's backed by both the perky, free flowing keyboard work of 'Twelve Steps' and then the mid-tempo ballad 'Eleventh Hour.'

The melodic renascence of 'The Approach' is yet another magnificent example of the key work to be discovered on this brilliant new album and that's followed by Wyatt's own piano work on the ambient 'Fred's Song.'

The lavishness of 'To Venus (Perelandra Mvt. I, Andante)' is simply breathtaking to behold and is backed seamlessly by the building, ethereal, soaring work of 'The Green Lady (Perelandra Mvt. II, Allegretto con moto).'

The album then comes to a close with the playful, yet fully harmonized and palatial 'The Golden Feast (Perelandra Mvt.III, Allegro)' and then rounds out with forthright, chivalric even 'Blessed Be He (Perelandra Mvt. IV, Presto).'

Frank Wyatt, Piano, Keyboards - Bill Brasso, Drums - Stan Whitaker, Guitar, Vocals - David Hughes, Bass - Cliff Fortney, Vocals - David Rosenthal, Keyboards - Rick Kennell, Bass - Chris Mack, Drums - Peter Princiotto, Sitar - Mike Beck, Percussion - Ron Riddle, Drums - Kit Watkins, Keyboards Joe Bergamini, Drums and Andrew Colyer on Keyboards.

FYI: The Zeitgeist project digital download includes a .jpg version of the entire CD booklet that ships with the physical CD.

Official 'Zeitgeist' Purchase Link

Title - 'Bury'd Alive'
Artist - Chantel McGregor

For those not in the know, Chantel McGregor has been performing live gigs since the age of 12, schooled at a music college and achieved a First Class Honors Degree in Popular Music.

Along with her current band members, Colin Sutton on bass and Thom Gardner on drums, they form an awesome power trio playing an eclectic mix of blues based tunes, composed by Chantel.

Ranging from traditional blues numbers complimented perfectly by the purity of her singing voice, to a much more raunchy blues rock style, it's clearly obvious that Chantel is a musical force to be reckoned with.

Chantel released her debut album, the critically acclaimed Like No Other in 2011 and followed that up with the highly anticipated sophomore release Lose Control in 2015.

Her new album, Bury'd Alive recorded at the prestigious Apex in Bury St Edmunds on March 29th, 2019, is a live album that encapsulates everything great about Chantel in the pulsating 11 track set.

1. 'Take The Power'
2. 'Killing Time'
3. 'Like No Other'
4. 'Caught Out'
5. 'Eternal Dream'
6. 'Lose Control'
7. 'Inconsolable'
8. 'Your Fever'
9. 'April'
10. 'Walk On Land'
11. 'Freefalling'

The powerhaus track 'Take The Power' showcases Chantel's guitar and vocal prowess brilliantly and that's backed seamlessly by both 'Killing Time,' and then the tranquil storytelling of the night after within 'Like No Other' ("My head pounds more than my heart").

Another monstrous guitar session comes to the fore in the rockin' blues of 'Caught Up,' with the ballad 'Eternal Dream' along next. The raucous 'Lose Control' is one of my own personal favorites and is followed by yet another ballad, this time the dulcet 'Inconsolable.'

With the heavy, thumping, pounding 'Your Fever' showing us that Chantel's not afraid to take the darker rock road, up next is the atmospheric ballad 'April,' the melodic 'Walk On Land,' and then the album rounds out with the billowing blues of 'Freefalling.'

Official CD Purchase Link

Chantel McGregor @ Facebook

Chantel McGregor @ Twitter

Title - 'True North'
Artist - Lawson Rollins

For those not in the know, few artists inhabit their music as seamlessly as multiple award-winning, Billboard Top 10 ranked guitarist and composer Lawson Rollins.

He plays his instrument with a soulful intensity that combines the stimulating rhythmic drive of rumba, salsa, and samba with graceful melodic finesse and free-flowing improvisational flair.

Over the past 20 years, Lawson’s albums have landed in the Billboard Top 10 World Music Chart and spawned several Billboard Top 30 contemporary jazz hits, winning him an ever growing fan base attracted by his melodic, exhilarating solos and exotic, cross-genre instrumentation performed by internationally renowned musicians.

On his upcoming new album True North (due out January 17th, 2020 via Infinita Records), Lawson offers 12 new original compositions that showcase the guitarist at the peak of his compositional skills with his aforementioned melodic and improvisational flair on full display.

1. 'True North'
2. 'With The Wind'
3. 'Perpetual Motion'
4. 'Bluewave Bossanova'
5. 'South Beach'
6. 'Full Sail'
7. 'Dead Ahead'
8. 'Yearning To Know'
9. 'Year Abroad'
10. 'Nostalgia'
11. 'In The Shadows'
12. 'The Winding Road'

Playing like he has a smile permanently adorning his face, the opening title track is a wondrously free-flowing work of music enjoyment and is backed seamlessly by both the electronic infused intensity of 'With the Wind' and then the exuberant vibe of 'Perpetual Motion.'

The heartrending bossa nova sway of 'Bluewave Bossanova' is a magical work to behold and is followed by the atmospheric 'South Beach,' and then the airy hipsway of 'Full Sail.'

Much like 'With The Wind,' 'Dead Ahead' is one of those tracks that showcase a playing style that is unlike anything Lawson has ever done. With new textures augmenting the familiar sound of his main instrument, the acoustic nylon string guitar, there's a more intense focus on melodic expression on this new album.

The achingly divine 'Yearning To Know' is one of my own personal favorites and is backed by the Latin beauty 'Year Abroad,' with the playful 'Nostalgia' along next.

On an album that spans the range of emotions and moods that have come to characterize the expansive and unexpected musical journey Lawson has offered fans throughout his career, both the hauntingly subtle ambiance of 'In The Shadows,' and the sprightful bounce and flow of 'The Winding Road' bring the album to the most perfect of closes.

On True North, Lawson is most definitely back to doing what he is most known and admired for: staying true to the direction of his artistic inner compass and delivering the kind of inimitable guitar playing, creative instrumentation, and memorable compositions his fans have come to love.

Band: Lawson Rollins (nylon string guitar, slide guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, drum programming), Davo Bryant (percussion), Dan Feiszli (bass), Mads Tolling (violin), and Stephen Duros (additional keyboards and electric guitar on ‘With the Wind’).

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Punk Rock Christmas 2'
Artist - Various

Put away the pumpkins, kids, it's time to hang the fishnet stockings, trim the plastic, spittle-flecked tree and celebrate another Punk Rock Christmas!

Following on the heels of the massively successful originator, Punk Rock Christmas (released in 2015), comes another collection of holiday favorites performed by an even larger gathering of punk rock all-stars.

Now inclusive of, amongst others, Tsunami Bombs, The Rumjacks, The Members, The Vibrators, Reagan Youth, Down By Law, Naked Aggression, Johnny Thunders and more, the album is available as a CD (in a stocking-sized digipak!) and on beautiful RED vinyl - a perfect gift for the punk rock lover in your life!

1. Tsunami Bomb – 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'
2. The Rumjacks – 'Christmas In Killarney'
3. Naked Aggression – 'What We Buy'
4. The Members – 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)'
5. Pulley – 'O Holy Night'
6. Dave Smalley & The Bandoleros – 'Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree'
7. MDC – '(Merry Christmas) World’s On Fire'
8. The Queers – 'Ramones Christmas'
9. The Vibrators – 'Santa Had To Go Into Rehab'
10. Ship Thieves – 'Who Put The Gum In Santa’s Whiskers'
11. Amber Pacific – 'Merry Christmas Happy Holiday'
12. Reagan Youth – 'Punk Rock Christmas'
13. Down By Law – 'Merry Christmas (Feels So Right)'
14. Bankrupt – 'When Johnny Saved Christmas'
15. Punchline – 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' 17. Unsteady Heights – 'Around Christmas' [CD ONLY]
18. The Spears – 'Christmas Sucks (You Stupid F**ks!)' [CD ONLY]
19. High Wire – 'Where Are You Christmas?' [CD ONLY]
20. Splinter – 'Fairy Tales' [CD ONLY]
21. Walter Etc. – 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' [CD ONLY]
22. Slap Of Reality – 'Last Christmas' [CD ONLY]
23. Down And Outs – 'Merry Christmas Everybody' [CD ONLY]
24. Chief State – 'All I Want For Christmas' [CD ONLY]
25. The Widows – 'Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas' [CD ONLY]
26. Johnny Thunders – 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer'

This manically, thumping, pounding, punk rockin' Christmas delight kicks off in fine style with Tsunami Bomb's 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,' and then backs it up brilliantly with the frenetic Celtic rendering of 'Christmas In Killarney' (The Rumjacks), the surprisingly tuneful 'What We Buy' (Naked Aggression), and then both the spot on atmospheric brilliance of 'Happy Xmas (War Is Over)' (The Members), and the frenzied musical assault of Pulley on 'O Holy Night.'

Dave Smalley & The Bandoleros bring us a pulsating 'Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,' which is followed by MDC's '(Merry Christmas) World’s On Fire,' The Queers' excellent rendition of 'Ramones Christmas,' and then come two of my own personal favorites, The Vibrators with 'Santa Had To Go Into Rehab,' and the furious 'Who Put The Gum In Santa’s Whiskers' from Ship Thieves.

The most melodic track is 'Merry Christmas Happy Holiday' from Amber Pacific and that's backed by a melancholic Reagan Youth on 'Punk Rock Christmas.' The music then gets cranked back up for Down By Law's 'Merry Christmas (Feels So Right),' and then the mid-tempo onslaught of Bankrupt's 'When Johnny Saved Christmas.'

Another melodic cut is up next in the form of Punchline's 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),' which is neatly backed by the authoritive vibe of 'Father Christmas' (Parasites), the upbeat rockin' punk of 'Around Christmas' (Unsteady Heights), and both the naughty punk raunch of The Spears' drumtastic 'Christmas Sucks (You Stupid F**s!),' and the fanatical 'Where Are You Christmas?' from High Wire.

The PIL-esque 'Fairy Tales' from Splinter is up next and is followed by the low key, unpunk-like Walter Etc.'s rendition of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,' with a rockin' and rollickin' version of Wham!'s 'Last Christmas' by Slap Of Reality along next.

The album then rounds out with the Down And Outs on a brilliant cover of Slade's 'Merry Christmas Everybody,' the melodic punk of 'All I Want For Christmas' (Chief State), and then both The Widows with 'Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas,' and a quite excellent blues rendition of 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer' from Johnny Thunders.

Official CD Purchase Link

Official RED Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Holidaze in Lumania'
Artist - Barnes & Barnes

Cult icons Barnes & Barnes return with their first album of all-new original material in over a decade!

The demented duo who brought you the Dr. Demento Show's #1 most-requested song of all-time, the classic novelty hit 'Fish Heads', take on the holidays with their brand new release, Holidaze in Lumania (out now via Demented Punk Records.

Featuring 15 all-new bizarre comedy songs centered on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and beyond, trust me when I say you have to hear this album to believe it!

1. 'Christmas in Lumania' (3:12)
2. 'Down by Candy Cane Lane' (2:55)
3. 'Horny at the Holidays' (3:09)
4. 'Hanukkah at our House' (2:38)
5. 'Kwanzaa's Here Again' (2:37)
6. 'Why Mommy, Why Do You Cry?' (3:01)
7. 'Santa's Gone on Strike' (2:01)
8. 'It's Christmas Time and I Am Not with You' (2:56)
9. 'Jesus is Groovy' (1:46)
10. 'I've Got Some Presents for Santa' (2:32)
11. 'The Angel of Death is Near' (1:56)
12. 'I am a Flying Reindeer' (4:13)
13. 'Christmas is Coming Better Start Running' (1:51)
14. 'Santa Claus is a Martian' (3:03) - EXCLUSIVE BONUS TRACK
15. 'Silent Night, Holy Newt' (2:02)

The album kicks of in some fine style with the sing-along acoustic ballad 'It's Christmas in Lumania,' and backs that up with the infectious backbeat of 'Down by Candy Cane Lane' ("My girlfriend's quite a looker, that's why she's a hooker"), the trippy psych of 'Horny at the Holidays,' and then both the flatulence-noted 'Hanukkah at Our House,' and the gentle sway of 'Kwanzaa's Here Again.'

The interesting storytelling found within 'Why Mommy, Why Do You Cry?' will have you thinking about things from your own past, whilst both the melodic 'Santa's Gone on Strike' ("He's been shot at. He's been tasered. And most the elves he hates") and the rather lovely hipsway of 'It's Christmas Time and I Am Not with You' follow neatly along.

The short but sweet 'Jesus Is Groovy' is up next and is backed by the atmospheric 'I've Got Some Presents for Santa,' and then the cry for help of 'The Angel of Death Is Near' is followed by the psych rock of 'I Am a Flying Reindeer.'

This quite magnificent album then rounds out with 'Christmas Is Coming Better Start Running,' the CD Bonus Track of 'Santa Claus is a Martian,' and then comes to a close with a very, oh-so very creepy 'Silent Night, Holy Newt.'

FYI: As noted above, CD and vinyl editions of this incredible new album include an exclusive bonus track NOT available digitally or anywhere else!

Official CD + LP Purchase Links

Title - 'Haymarket Station'
Artist - Aaron Stroessner Quartet

For those not in the know, from a small town in Wisconsin, Aaron Stroessner grew up a self-taught rock guitarist until college, when he started studying music by day and following unheralded blues master Paul Black around Madison, WI by night.

Stroessner’s love of Black’s music deepened his interest in blues and eventually jazz, after transferring to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

At Berklee, and subsequently, for many years in New York City, Stroessner befriended an extraordinary group of jazz musicians who would influence his development in unexpected ways.

In an act of rebellion, he returned to his roots, playing original rock with the somewhat infamous band Sweetybomb, whose post-punk penchant for the Pixies was an early influence.

Stroessner subsequently created his country-punk-grunge-pop band, Dead Left, singing and playing with fellow guitarist Zeke Zima, bassist Bob Roe, and drummer Brian Delaney.

Dead Left released four independent CDs over several years and performed regularly in the rock clubs of New York City and in ASCAP, SESAC, and Berklee College showcases.

After a brief stint acting in Los Angeles, Stroessner eventually came to the University of Nebraska to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Guitar.

For a city its size, Lincoln has a healthy music scene, with notable blues, roots and rock clubs. Indeed, it was during and after graduate school, Aaron wrote the songs on this brand new album (out January 24th, 2020), Haymarket Station, still telling stories, just no longer with words.

Indeed, Haymarket Station is undoubtedly a jazz recording, with extensive improvisations throughout with its ten songs amazingly all recorded in a single day by GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer Tom Ware.

1. 'Amtrak'
2. 'Kief'
3. 'Mayday'
4. 'There and Back'
5. 'Ocho Rios'
6. 'Blue Shoe Samba'
7. 'Django Unchained'
8. 'Big and Strong'
9. 'Blue Tooth'
10. 'Outside Inn'

Also featuring Kevin Lloyd on keys, Mitchell Benson on bass, and Andrew Wray on drums, the Aaron Stroessner Quartet debut Haymarket Station (which has also been sponsored by Lincoln's Capital Jazz Society) is a quietly ambitious ten track album that gently resonates with good, honest vibes throughout.

Kicking off with the upbeat and funky vibe of 'Amtrak,' they back that seamlessly with both the island-flavored (hey, at least to me) 'Kief,' and then the lo-fi, late night jazz club feel of the beautiful 'Mayday.'

The rockin' 'There and Back' is also one of my favorites here and truly showcases Aaron's guitar skills, and is backed by a laid back skat cat melody within 'Ocho Rios,' the fun and perky 'Blue Shoe Samba,' and then the gentle sway of 'Django Unchained.'

The album then rounds out with another rocker, this time the strategic 'Big and Strong,' the finger-snappin' hipsway of 'Blue tooth,' and then comes to a close with some moderated jazz/blues within 'Outside Inn.'

And so, containing some rather memorable themes set in creative explorations of mood and style, and with inspirations cryptically referenced in titles such as 'Amtrak,' 'Kief,' 'There and Back' and 'Django Unchained' paying homage to John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Jeff Beck, and the MJQ, for me, Haymarket Station is, quite easily, already one of my favorite albums of 2020 (and I just know it will be one of yours too).

Aaron Stroessner Quartet @ Facebook

Title - 'Lean Into The Letter'
Artist - Lee Penn Sky

For those not in the know, Michigan-born folk singer/songwriter Lee Penn Sky plays folk-oriented songs that span the Americana range, and are rooted in his Michigan childhood and the high-plains desert of Idaho, where he now resides.

He has an affinity for Texan songwriters like Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, and Willie Nelson and whilst these artists inform Lee Penn Sky’s music, he doesn’t emulate his heroes.

Poetic yet unadorned songwriting, his metaphorical lyrics have a way of cutting to the heart of the matter. Indeed, his presentation is often compared to Colin Hay's solo work and has a unique, rootsy, direct and often melancholic style of conveying his lyrics, mixed with his rich baritone voice, lends to a very intimate feeling performance.

Lee will be releasing his brand new album, Lean Into The Letter this coming January 17th, 2020, and it chronicles the discovery of a letter sent from Israel in 1958 from a relative - Jacov Nistel - that was believed to have perished in the Holocaust.

Jakov, in fact, survived his ordeals, though the rest of his family was killed by the Nazis. After Jakov immigrated to Israel, Lee and his family were able to locate Jacov’s sons and grandchildren and travel to Israel to unite with them.

This letter and subsequent events inspired a collection of songs giving life to Jacov’s story of loss, defiance and rebuilding as well as Lee’s thoughts on the current political and religious tensions in the Holy Land.

1. 'One in a Million'
2. 'Dead Sea is at a Boil'
3. 'Jumped from the Train'
4. 'Solomon'
5. 'Not Your Carpenter'
6. 'Hallelujah'
7. 'Jesse'
8. 'Walk Away from My Garden'
9. 'Seabird'
10. 'Worry About Gomorrah'
11. 'Lean Into the letter'
12. 'A Penny Saved'

Lovingly chock full of Americana and folk songs inspired by the discovery of this long lost letter from his relative, Lee begins with the incredibly heartfelt storytelling of 'One in a Million' and 'Dead Sea is at a Boil,' and backs them up with both the rawness of truth within 'Jumped from the Train,' and the stoic ambiance of 'Solomon.'

Lee brings some jangly guitar work to the fore on 'Not Your Carpenter' and follows that up with the profound drum mantra found within 'Hallelujah,' the lighter acoustic fare of 'Jesse,' then 'Walk Away from My Garden,' and then the lo-fi, mid-tempo Americana vibe of 'Seabird.'

One of my own personal favorites on this album is the expert tunesmith milieu of 'Worry About Gomorrah' ("I will not go amongst the lepers. I cannot save their souls. I am not Jesus Christ. Man, I'm not even whole"), with the gentle, foot-tappin' heart of the title song next, meaning the album rounds out with the soulful folk of 'A Penny Saved.'

Lee Penn Sky @ Facebook

Title - 'Heavenly Bodies: Expanded Collection'
Artist - Bill Bruford's Earthworks

For those not in the know, Bill Bruford is the original drummer in Yes and was a long-term member of King Crimson before devoting his career to jazz.

Having already spent twenty years on the cutting edge of modern rock percussion, Bill Bruford formed Earthworks in 1986, as a deliberate return to his roots in jazz.

Availing himself of the brightest young talent on the burgeoning U.K. jazz scene, namely keyboardist and tenor horn player Django Bates, and saxophonist Iain Ballamy, both best known as frontrunners with the anarchic big band Loose Tubes, Bruford encouraged the use of rock technology with jazz sensibility – the hall mark of Earthwork’s stylish approach.

By letting in air and light, and adding a little wit and wisdom, they produced a particularly British antidote to the increasingly grotesque jazz fusion scene.

Heavenly Bodies: Expanded Collection is a chronological career-spanning compilation of Bill Bruford's band Earthworks with the booklet now including newly written liner notes and a second disc that also features rare tracks which cannot be found elsewhere.

CD 1:
1. 'Stromboli Kicks'
2. 'Making a Song and Dance'
3. 'Up North'
4. 'Candles Still Flicker in Romania's Dark'
5. 'Pigalle'
6. 'My Heart Declares a Holiday'
7. 'Temple of the Winds'
8. 'Nerve'
9. 'Gentle Persuasion'
10. 'It Needn't End in Tears'
11. 'Libreville'
12. 'Dancing on Frith Street'
13. 'Bridge of Inhibition'

CD 2:
1. 'No Truce with the Furies'
2. 'Dewey-Eyed, Then Dancing'
3. 'A Part, and Yet Apart'
4. 'Revel Without a Pause'
5. 'The Sound of Surprise'
6. 'White Knuckle Wedding'
7. 'Youth'
8. 'Rosa Ballerina'
9. 'Thud'
10. 'Blues for Little Joe'

In truth, the original compilation has been out of print for some time and so it is a rare gem of a treat to have this in my hands today, that's for sure.

This expanded re-release (which was released on November 15th, 2019 via Bruford's own Summerfold Records) was overseen personally by Bill Bruford and so means we get the concise, yet lovingly curated version that only he would have wanted to bring out.

What's obvious from the off is that, and as much as I myself enjoy contemporary jazz, I would personally have enjoyed this a wee bit more if it weren't for the overbearing amount of electric drums.

So much so that it is very hard, for a layman like me, to differentiate the unique sounds of Bill's drumming from the electric programmed ones.

That said, this collection from one of the best drummers in the world still manages to capture the jazz essence they were obviously going for, with the overall harmonious percussion nurturing a gloriously sweeping blanket of warmth throughout.

In closing, Heavenly Bodies: Expanded Collection is a great set of modern jazz from England (which, as a jazz country, has always been far behind from the States, in truth), in which Bruford himself has said, "... serves as the ideal ‘beginners’ guide’ for newcomers to the band."

"Progressive Jazz isn’t a million miles from Progressive Rock: both genres prioritize change from inside and out. People would come away from our gigs saying “I didn’t think I liked jazz, but if that’s jazz, I love it!”, he adds.

"Heavenly Bodies - The Expanded Collection is the perfect jumping-off point to dip your toes in the water.”

Amazon 2CD Purchase Link

Bill Bruford's Earthworks Website

Summerfold Records Website

Title - 'Breakdown: A Compilation 1995-2019'
Artist - Dave Kerzner

For those not in the know, Dave Kerzner is a progressive rock artist and producer who has been making music since the mid-90s with artists such as Kevin Gilbert of Toy Matinee and others.

In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning band Sound of Contact with Simon Collins and co-wrote/produced their debut album Dimensionaut.

Since then, Kerzner has released two highly acclaimed studio solo albums New World and Static as well as several live albums and a lot of music made with an array of collaborative projects such as his band In Continuum (featuring special guests Steve Hackett of Genesis and more), Mantra Vega (a transatlantic project with former Mostly Autumn singer Heather Findlay), Lo-Fi Resistance (with Randy McStine), and star-studded tribute albums with his side project Sonic Elements.

Breakdown: A Compilation 1995-2019 collects together Dave Kerzner's best works as he approaches his 25th Anniversary as a professional musician in 2020.

Indeed, the 2CD set includes many rare and alternate versions of his best known tracks. The songs date back to when Kerzner played in Kevin Gilbert's band Thud (1995) to his work with Sound of Contact, Lofi Resistance, Mantra Vega and In Continuum, in addition to his solo studio and live albums.

CD 1:
1. He Lie'
2. Ocean of Stars (Alt Version)'
3. Nothing'
4. Static (Live)'
5. New World (Live)' (Feat. Francis Dunnery)
6. The Truth Behind (Live)'
7. Reckless (Live)'
8. My Old Friend (Alt Version)'
9. Joytown (Live)'
10. Into the Sun (Alt Version)'

CD 2:
1. Paranoia (2019 Version)'
2. Breakdown'
3. Scavengers'
4. No Readmission'
5. Crash Landing'
6. Every Corner (Inst Version)'
7. Island Reprise'
8. All That Is' (Feat. Jon Davison)
9. Only Breathing Out'
10. Omega Point (Live)'
11. Not Coming Down (Live)'

Having been released this past November 15th, 2019 via Cherry Red Records (UK), this collection of 21 songs on 2CDs translates to a magnificent 2+ hours of music, all created and produced by Kerzner.

Starting off with an homage to Kevin Gilbert and Kerzner's days playing with his band Thud, a rare live version of Kevin's song 'Joytown' is a massive stand out highlight here.

Also inclusive of brand new versions of songs like 'Only Breathing Out' - which he originally wrote and recorded with Sound of Contact - as well as the song 'All That Is' - from the soon to be released sophomore In Continuum album Acceleration Theory Part 2: Annihilation - it's the latter that has me praising the music Gods every time it comes on.

Featuring guest vocalist Jon Davison of Yes, it was co-written between Kerzner and Yes co-founder Jon Anderson and is just a sheer musical marvel worth every penny you will spend on purchasing this new album.

The title track of the album, 'Breakdown' is actually an outtake from Kerzner’s solo album Static and just adds perspective to the sampling of some of the best songs of Kerzner's music career on offer here.

In addition to this, the collection offers alternate versions of songs from LoFi Reistance’s Chalk Lines and Mantra Vega’s The Illusion’s Reckoning, with some absolutely stellar instrumental versions being spliced in between.

“Because a lot of my songs have ended up on albums from different bands and projects, as opposed to being easily found on my solo albums, I thought it would be nice to bring a taste of each together in one double CD package at an attractive price to introduce a body of my work to new listeners,” says Kerzner.

"While doing this compilation, I also wanted to include previously unreleased outtakes, alternate studio tracks and live versions of songs from these albums so this collection would appeal to those who already have my albums and want more.”

Kerzner is joined by world-class musicians on this compilation including Steve Hackett of Genesis, Jon Davison of Yes, Francis Dunnery of It Bites, Durga and Lorelei McBroom of Pink Floyd, Fernando Perdomo, Randy McStine of The Fringe, Marco Minnemann of Steven Wilson & The Aristocrats, Nick D'Virgilio of Big Big Train, Matt Dorsey of Sound of Contact, Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, Heather Findlay of Mantra Vega and Mostly Autumn, Ruti Celli, Andy Robbins, Christine Leakey, David Kilminster of Roger Waters' band, Alex Cromarty of Mantra Vega, Stuart Fletcher of Sea Horses, Chris Johnson of Mantra Vega and more!

Amazon 2CD Purchase Link

Dave Kerzner @ Facebook

Title - 'Downes Braide Association: Live In England'
Artist - Downes Braide Association

For those not in the know, Downes Braide Association [DBA] is the musical collaboration between the legendary Geoff Downes (Buggles, ASIA and YES) and Chris Braide who joined forces as the result of their close friendship and passion for music.

DBA is a labor of love for both Downes and Braide and together they form a unique combination, having already produced three critically acclaimed albums; with Skyscraper Souls being their most ambitious yet.

Live in England (released December 6th, 2019 via Cherry Red Records UK) is the duo’s fourth release and first live album.

Recorded at their first ever concert at the UK’s Trading Boundaries on September 28th, 2018, it features brand new Roger Dean artwork that is not only highly evocative of the bands music, but simply magnificent to behold.

CD 1:
1. 'Skyscraper Souls'
2. 'Machinery of Fate'
3. 'Live Twice'
4. 'Vanity'
5. 'Suburban Ghosts'
6. 'Bolero / Video Killed the Radio Star'
7. 'Glacier Girl'
8. 'Angel on Your Shoulder'

CD 2:
1. 'Tomorrow'
2. 'Lighthouse'
3. 'Skin Deep'
4. 'Darker Times'
5. 'Finale'
6. 'Heat of the Moment'
7. 'The Smile Has Left Your Eyes'
8. 'Dreaming of England'

1. 'Skyscraper Souls'
2. 'Machinery of Fate'
3. 'Live Twice'
4. 'Vanity'
5. 'Suburban Ghosts'
6. 'Bolero / Video Killed the Radio Star'
7. 'Glacier Girl'
8. 'Angel on Your Shoulder'
9. 'Tomorrow'
10. 'Lighthouse'
11. 'Skin Deep'
12. 'Darker Times'
13. 'Finale'
14. 'Heat of the Moment'
15. 'The Smile Has Left Your Eyes'
16. 'Dreaming of England'

Simply put, if you are a fan of well-crafted prog pop rock with its core still firmly based in the wondrous '80s, DBA (let alone this album) are for you, trust me.

Here on the magnificent live capsule of DBA, the band take on a heavy load of work from their current-at-the-time album whilst adding in along the way a few snippets from the brilliant Suburban Ghosts.

Personally, I would have loved to have heard more from their 2012 debut Pictures Of You - such as ‘The Radiant Children’ or even the title track - but that was not the set they were offering us.

Regardless, throughout this expansive and very colorful show the duo are synched at every turn, ably aided by Andy Hodge (bass) and Dave Colquhoun (guitar).

Big Big Train’s David Longdon provides additional vocals and flute (especially on ‘Tomorrow’) although a female vocal on ‘Skyscraper Souls’ goes un-credited. Also on backing track, Barney Ashton-Bullock adds a bit of thespian drama with narration.

As for my own personal highlight, it's when Braide and company leave the stage to Downes and for the next seven minutes, he brings us the beautifully crafted, lush and sweepingly ornate 'Bolero / Video Killed the Radio Star.'

Listen to 'Bolero / Video Killed the Radio Star' (Live) Here!

Reflecting on the performance, Yes keyboardist Downes says, "It was a most memorable evening last September at the iconic Trading Boundaries venue and we believe we have managed to capture the magic of the whole night."

"As well as songs from our albums we have added some extra special treats and we hope it gives a rare insight into the special songwriting and production relationship Chris and I have developed over the last decade on the journey that is DBA."

"We sincerely hope you enjoy the music with us, from this very special occasion, in a raw and live setting, and we thank you for all your support."

Braide adds, "After many requests for DBA to perform live, Geoff and myself, along with the excellent musicianship of Andy Hodge, Dave Colquhoun, David Longdon, Barney Ashton Bullock, finally took to the stage for the first time at the stunning Trading Boundaries."

"It was a wonderful evening surrounded by friends and the beautiful English countryside and this live album is a great document of that magical evening and encapsulates what DBA is all about.”

Amazon 2CD+DVD Purchase Link

Title - 'Screens'
Artist - District 97

For those not in the know, District 97 is undoubtedly the most musically adventurous rock band in the world to feature an American Idol Top 10 Female Finalist!

Formed in the Fall of 2006 by drummer/primary composer Jonathan Schang, keyboardist Rob Clearfield, bassist Patrick Mulcahy and guitarist Sam Krahn, the band drew upon influences from heavy metal to avant-garde jazz.

The foursome from Chicago honed a no-holds barred style of eclectic and intricate Instrumental Rock before deciding the right vocalist was needed to complement their sound: enter 2007 American Idol Top 10 Female Finalist, Leslie Hunt.

With a look, sound, and stage presence comparable to a young Ann Wilson from Heart, Leslie's dynamic performances pushed the band into a new direction that forged a unique marriage between accessible, catchy vocal melodies and an adventurous instrumental prowess.

She was followed shortly thereafter by one of Chicago's finest guitarists, Jim Tashjian.

With this new blend of charisma and stellar musicianship in place, their live shows over the past several years at festivals such as RoSfest, Prog Dreams II and V, and numerous appearances across the USA, UK and Europe cemented the band as a force to be reckoned with onstage as well as in the recording studio.

Hybrid Child, the band’s 2010 debut on record label Laser’s Edge, immediately made a big impression worldwide with their sophomore album, 2012's critically-acclaimed Trouble With Machines further proving the band was the real deal.

By now they had also attracted the attention of legendary bassist and vocalist John Wetton (King Crimson/UK/Asia), who sang the role of Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes on Schang’s 'The Perfect Young Man.'

The band took to the studio in 2014 to record the new material they'd been honing at home and on the road with the resulting album, In Vaults being released in June of 2015.

In August 2015, Rob Clearfield and Patrick Mulcahy left the group and were succeeded by Andrew Lawrence and Tim Seisser, respectively. 2018 saw the band complete a much-lauded North American 10th Anniversary Tour, as well as completing tracking for their brand new and just-released album Screens, their highly-anticipated fourth studio album; and first with the new lineup.

Released October 11th, 2019 via the UK's venerable record label Cherry Red Records, the album showcases the fact that, and without a shadow of a doubt, District 97 continues to prove to be one of the most unique bands in modern Prog.

1. 'Forest Fire'
2. 'Sheep'
3. 'Sea I Provide'
4. 'Bread & Yarn'
5. 'Trigger'
6. 'After Orbit Mission'
7. 'Shapeshifter'
8. 'Blueprint'
9. 'Ghost Girl'

Their incredible fourth album, as expected, continues onward with their signature sound and yet now includes excellent growth levels of certain musical complexities within their melodies.

A sign of progression, sure but also one of confidence within each other to be able to extend and grow their sound, at times even the lyrical content complete with prerequisite vocals are seemingly enhanced this time round.

The instrumental solos and musical groundwork here on the nine tracks are as competent and as cultured as ever, and even though the music can come across a wee bit too heavy and maybe even dark at times (due to the guitars and bass, of course), overall it's still a rather brilliant musical experience to behold.

Tracks such as 'Sheep' are more dynamic, moving from quiet, thoughtful passages to sections that feature jazzy piano riffs to other parts that are quite progressive and heavy, whereas opener 'Forest Fire' is just a fast and heavy ride.

One of the stand outs here for me is when Jim joins Leslie on vocals on 'Bread & Yarn,' a track that begins somewhat pensively with a nice melody and a hesitant keyboard accompaniment, but soon erupts into a more intensified and complex cut.

In closing, and if you wanted even more proof of just how good this band are, iconic drummer Bill Bruford (Yes/King Crimson/Genesis) told Rolling Stone Magazine (10/29/19), "There’s a great band out of Chicago called District 97, who are very good, and they’re here in the U.K. right now. And you know, it’s the next generation of so-called progressive guys who played much better than we ever played."

Amazon CD Purchase Link

District 97 @ Facebook

Title - 'Electric Regions'
Artist - Udo Pannekeet

For those not in the know, Udo Pannekeet (current bass player of FOCUS) graduated from the Conservatory of Amsterdam where during his education he was part of the trio Isotope.

In 2002 he started his own quintet Pitch Pine Project, featuring Martijn van Iterson, Tom Beek, Chris Strik en Rob van Bavel. The group got a lot of critical acclaim in the Netherlands as well as outside of it.

Pitch Pine Project played at the North Sea Jazz Fetival twice, and in 2008 even performed with famous trumpet player Randy Brecker as a guest soloist.

Afterwards Udo became a member of the Tim Langedijk Trio, featuring Hans van Oosterhout on drums. He has been with them for over eight years now and they’ve released four CD’s, pianist Jasper van t’ Hof collaborating on the CD November.

As sideman Udo has played with many formations. He co-produced projects like Tom Beek’s Bigtime and Bliss as well as Ingeborg Helder’s Light Works.

Udo teaches at the conservatories in Tilburg, Haarlem and Enschede.

The latest solo album, Electric Regions (out November 15th, 2019 via In and Out of Focus Records) features an epic-length track, along with new compositions written throughout Udo's career and recorded here for the first time.

The album also features a guest appearance on guitar from Focus bandmate Menno Gootjes. The tenth release on the band's own label it is also, in my humble opinion, one of his finest to date.

1. 'Electric Regions Part One' (23;15)
2. 'Integration Yes' (5:50)
3. 'Little Nura' (3:02)
4. 'The Antibes Situation' (4:50)
5. 'Cocon Cocon' (6:17)

To my ear, the quite stunning Electric Regions is a distant cousin to the early recordings of Finland’s Pekka Pohjola, circa Harakka Bialoipokku.

Conjuring up the absolute sublimity of those jazzy workout albums, and at times even their Island albums - sans the Eastern vibe, of course - there is a lot to love here on this transient new recording.

It opens with the opus 'Electric Regions Part One' which is a rather beautiful and free flowing musical journey that simply breaks and crashes over and through you on a continual basis.

Udo’s bass literally throbs throughout the piece, while trumpets, saxes, keyboards, guitar, and flute spiral and float in an amazing array of melodies.

Up next is 'Integration Yes' which brings forth Udo's carefree, yet sculptured jazz, allowing a piano to "sing" its praises. Then comes the slower, bass-pulsed and contemplative track 'Little Nura,' which is backed by the urgent jazz-rock mellowed at all turns by some sumptuous sax, 'The Antibes Situation.'

This quite magnificent album then rounds out with 'Cocon Cocon,' a track that ponders a wee bit from the off, but soon erupts into happy fusion, which abruptly ends, only to flow into a silent sunset.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Udo Pannekeet @ Facebook

Title - 'Too Much Information'
Artist - Bernie Shaw & Dale Collins

For those not in the know, Bernie Shaw is the lead singer of the legendary band Uriah Heep and amazingly enough, this is his very first album project outside of the band.

Dale Collins is a multi-instrumentalist and producer in Canada and the duo have been long term friends and worked together in bands when Bernie lived in Canada.

Indeed, the duo worked on songs many years ago, but have now re-recorded, and from scratch, all their songs together to create this brand new studio album, Too Much Information (out September 20th, 2019 via Cherry Red Records UK).

1. 'So Many Times'
2. 'Alone'
3. 'Here We Go'
4. 'Too Much Information'
5. 'Sad Song' 7. 'Just A Little Bit'
8. 'Rock On'

The melodic rock of 'So Many Times' opens the album, showcasing perfectly what's to come and is backed seamlessly by both the acoustic guitar work on 'Alone' and mid-tempo AOR of 'Here We Go.'

The title track is a lush ride and brings forth both Shaw's vocal depth along with the duo's guitar and drum work and is backed by both the AOR ballads 'Sad Song' and their tribute to the late guitar God, 'Hey Jimi.'

This quite remarkable and just oh-so orchestrated and cultivated album then rounds out with the prog rock ambiance of 'Just A Little Bit,' coming to a close with a blues rock cover of David Essex's big 1973 hit, 'Rock On.'

Of the LP, Shaw has said, "This album has been a long time in the making as Uriah Heep still occupies almost 200 days of my year! But we've done it! I'm very proud of the end result."

"Working from two sides of the world is not an easy task, but the power and the energy of these songs shine through. I can't wait for the reaction from both the Heep fans and beyond! Rock on!"

Collins has added, "It's been a long journey to make this album. Thanks to the thousands of fans who have followed the process and corresponded with me throughout. I am very pleased to see it completed."

The album is available as a CD, 180-gram LP, download and on streaming platforms.

The CD is a six-panel digipack which matches many of the recent Uriah Heep releases and back catalogue re-releases, so the album will look great sitting alongside the band's catalogue in a fan's collection!

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Crimson Guitar: Tribute To King Crimson'
Artist - Fernando Perdomo

For those not in the know, Fernando Perdomo is a powerhouse of the LA music scene who lives and breathes music and where LA Weekly dubbed him as “The millennial answer to Todd Rundgren”.

A veteran already at just 37, he has made a name for himself as an in-demand producer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.

Perdomo is a product of the eclectic record collection he put together at an early age as a regular customer in every thrift store and flea market in Miami.

Furthermore, he also owns and operates Reseda Ranch Studios in Reseda, California. Some of his projects have included folk legend Linda Perhacs, Dean Ford, Andy Pratt, Rebecca Pidgeon, Cristina Vane, Jacob Jeffries, The Dirty Diamond, and his TV work extends to projects such as Honda, Target, McDonalds, Goya, Dunkin' Donuts, Toyota, Shameless and even Dexter.

The Crimson Guitar (out November 15, 2019 via Forward Motion Records) is the eagerly anticipated fifth full-length album by Fernando Perdomo, guitarist and bassist of The Dave Kerzner Band and Jakob Dylan's Echo In The Canyon Band.

As you can well imagine from the title, the album is a tribute to King Crimson and has been a noted labor of love for Perdomo.

1. 'Peace (A Theme)'
2. 'Islands'
3. 'I Talk to the Wind'
4. 'Formentera Lady'
5. 'Starless'
6. 'Prince Rupert Awakes'
7. 'Erudite Eyes'
8. 'Moonchild'
9. 'Book of Saturday'
10. 'The Court of the Crimson King'

For all fans of King Crimson who are just passing through, inquisitive of what Perdomo has been doing here on this album, I can inform you that The Crimson Guitar: A Tribute to King Crimson lovingly spans their first seven albums.

Excluding anything from Starless and Bible Black, but including 'Erudite Eyes' from The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp – which, of course, gave the world this precursor to the Crimson sound on 'Suite No. 1,' later known as 'Song of the Gulls,' there’s also a batch of wonderfully wacky pop songs to be found, of course.

In truth, I honestly feel that every Crimson fan would love to have been this talented to have recorded this album so the work done on it by Perdomo is obviously both heartfelt and born of true, honest devotion.

The album opens with a brief 'Peace (A Theme)' before the highly melodic 'Islands' comes abounding. That's backed by the gentle acoustic touch found on 'I Talk To The Wind,' which in turns is backed by both a beautiful guitar rendition of 'Tormentera Lady' and then 'Starless' simply dips majestically into your very soul.

Then comes the medieval stance to 'Prince Rupert Awakes' (a version that echoes the original from the brilliant Lizard superbly), and that is followed by more of the jazzy renaissance vibe on 'Erudite Eyes.'

'Moonchild' is a rather dreamy affair, whilst 'Book of Saturday' is rendered with acoustic tension, before the album rounds out with Perdomo's masterful last interpretative turn of the cards on 'In the Court of the Crimson King.'

"I was not like the other kids in school," Perdomo explains. "I grew up in Miami Beach, Florida in the '80s and '90s. I discovered King Crimson via a discount cassette tape rack at Camelot Music at the Omni Mall."

"My first three tastes of KC were Islands, Lizard and USA. I was 11 years old. My Brain expanded with this incredible music flowing through me!"

"I was learning the guitar precisely when this music hit me like a train. Classical lessons led me to experiment re-arranging KC for solo guitar."

"These arrangements that I created as a tween are what you hear on this record, made as a 38 years old. I hope these recordings bring out the beauty in the incredible compositions."

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'In Terra Cognita? The Music Of The Rock Opera'
Artist - JJ Chardeau

For those not in the know, French musician and composer JJ Chardeau, has launched his rock opera 'Magical Music Man' on CD, Download and Streaming platforms with the album In Terra Cognita? (out November 22rd, 2019 via L Records).

The premise of the rock opera is: When his on board computer fails Magical Musical Man learns that he will crash on a planet reportedly inhabited by Degenerates, called Earth.

In a panic he sees only one salvation: calling God the great alchemist-creator of the universe to his rescue. Thus appears God (portrayed by Jean-Claude Drouot) but He has no memory of the human kind.

He only remembers a quarrel between the first couple of humans about an apple. So God agrees to accompany Magical Musical Man to Earth to find out what happened to human kind!

1. 'Evolution (Magical Musical Man Ouverture)'
2. 'Dream in Moscow'
3. 'Black Taj Mahal'
4. 'Farewell Lhassa'
5. 'DMZ'
6. 'Frisson Nippon'
7. 'Les Larmes Du Pacifique'
8. 'Nunavut'
9. 'The Last Rockaway'
10. 'Pablo Tequila'
11. 'Machu Picchu'
12. 'Cabale Kabyle'
13. 'Wall of Laments'
14. 'Tchad'
15. 'The End? (Magical Musical Man Finale)'

This quite spectacular album - which features special guests including Mark Andes (Canned Heat, Spirit), Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra), Brian Auger (Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones), Jason Scheff (Chicago), Alex Ligertwood (Santana), Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp, John Fogerty), John McFee (Doobie Brothers), Danny Seraphine (Chicago), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Michael Sadler (Saga), Chris Pinnick (Chicago), and Hank Linderman (America, Chicago) - opens with the symbiotic rhythmic bounce of 'Evolution (Magical Musical Man Ouverture)' (featuring Mark Andes, John McFee & Jason Scheff), and backs that up with both the ornately delicate, piano-created beauty of 'Dream In Moscow' (featuring Alex Ligertwood, Martin Barre, Jerry Goodman, Mark Andes & Danny Seraphine) and the spoken word 'Black Taj Mahal.'

The lush, ethereal 'Farewell Lhassa' (featuring Jason Scheff, Mark Walker, Francis Décamps, Martin Barre & John McFee) is one of the stand out highlights here for me, and that's followed by gentle frenetic 'DMZ' (featuring Mark Andes, Kenny Aronoff, Brian Auger & Jerry Goodman), the orchestral magnificence of 'Frisson Nippon' (featuring Mark Andes), and then the colorful and lighthearted 'Les Larmes Du Pacifique' (featuring Kohann, Marc Andes, Kenny Aronoff, John Helliwell & John McFee).

The sterner 'Nunavut' (featuring Francis Décamps, John McFee & Jean-Claude Drouot) is next and is backed by the free flowing prog rock pairing of 'The Last Rockaway' (featuring Michael Sadler, Mark Andes, Chris Pinnick & John Helliwell) and 'Pablo Tequila' (featuring Martin Barre, Francis Décamps & Hank Linderman).

Next up is another of my own highlights, the other-worldly, mellow beauty of 'Machu Picchu' (featuring Jason Scheff, Martin Barre, Hank Linderman & John McFee), and then comes the eastern hipsawy of 'Cabale Kabyle' (featuring Martin Barre & Fifi Chayeb).

This quite wondrous new concept rock album then rounds out with a wee bit more of that previous eastern vibe incorporated within the rock confines of 'Wall Of Laments' (featuring Jason Scheff, Martin Barre, Hank Linderman & John McFee), the finger-snappin' rhythms of 'Tchad' (featuring Christian Décamps, Lulendo, Chris Pinnick, Francis Décamps & John Helliwell), and then comes to a close with the forthright, yet cultured, drum-led 'The End? (Magical Musical Man Final).'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - Beethoven: Complete Symphonies [5CD/Blu-ray Audio]
Artist - Andris Nelsons/Wiener Philharmoniker

For those not in the know, Andris Nelsons is a Latvian conductor and is also currently the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Luckily for all us fans of his, Grammy-winning conductor Andris Nelsons takes on the full cycle of Beethoven's eternal symphonies, leading the Vienna Philharmonic in a series of new recordings all made at the Vienna Musikverein.

The cycle, entitled Beethoven: Complete Symphonies [5 CD/Blu-ray Audio] was released this past October 4th, 2019 via Deutsche Grammophon, and also includes (as noted) a rather stunning Blu-ray Audio with the complete repertoire in True HD sound quality.

Beethoven has been central to Andris Nelsons’ work since he began his career in the early 2000s. The Latvian conductor received outstanding reviews for his 2013-14 Beethoven cycle with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was critically acclaimed for more recent Beethoven performances as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Leipzig Gewandhausorchester.

In March and April this year he joined the Vienna Philharmonic, the world’s supreme Beethoven orchestra, for a series of concerts including works by the composer in Vienna, Hamburg and Hanover, and for the final recording sessions of their complete symphony cycle at the Vienna Musikverein.

Nelsons said it was an honor and a privilege to be invited to perform and record the symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic.

“The journey of interpreting Beethoven’s symphonies signifies a great opportunity, responsibility and challenge, but in the end, it’s not about me, it’s purely about the genius and universal quality of Beethoven’s music, which speaks to each and every individual,” Andris Nelsons explains.

"Of course, I need to have a vision, and our task as musicians is to find a fulfilling way of presenting Beethoven’s ideas to listeners, but this will always be very subjective and deeply personal.”

CD 1:
Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 "Eroica"

CD 2:
Symphonies Nos. 2 & 4

CD 3:
Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 "Pastoral"

CD 4:
Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8

CD 5:
Symphony No. 9

Blu-Ray Audio:
Symphonies Nos. 1-9

In truth, there are nearly 200 full cycles Beethoven’s nine Symphonies, performed by practically all respected orchestras and conductors out there today.

I mean, on Deutsche Grammophon alone, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra has few notable cycles: Bohm, Bernstein, Abbado (in his early, often overlooked cycle) and Thielemann.

There’s also Rattle’s digital cycle on Warner (originally EMI), not to mention many single Symphonies recordings.

In other words, 250 celebrations or not, Adris Nelsons (the leading conductor of his generation) is entering a crowded field, including cycles by the Wiener Philharmoniker, whom he personally chose for this recording.

Beethoven’s nine symphonies reveal the unique qualities of his compositional art, which astonished his contemporaries. They also reflect the turbulent age in which he lived and demonstrate the remarkable changes he wrought in the genre itself.

Each work marks a new step from the one before: from the more conventional First, still reminiscent of Haydn and Mozart, via the revolutionary Eroica, with its incredible expressive range, the Fifth and Sixth, both radical in their different ways, and the dancelike vitality of the Seventh, to the wholly original, dramatic and life-affirming Ninth, whose message for humanity has long transcended the concert hall.

To the best of my recollections, the last time a record label captured and released a complete Beethoven cycle with the Wiener Philharmoniker (aka Vienna Philharmonic) was in 2014, with Christian Thielemann conducting.

Not a well received project, as I recall, and one lacking audacity and boldness, here on this brand new release, Andris Nelsons attempts to refresh the said same Beethoven cycle in a way that we all deserve to hear it.

And for the most part, he does just that. Whilst symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 lack the depth and heart that Rafael Kubelik poured into this multi-ensemble enterprise back in 1976 (No.1 with the London Symphony Orchestra and No. 2 with the Concertgebouworkest), symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 are beautifully reminiscent of the old days with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt with the Vienna Philharmonic too; steady tempos, smooth phrasing, and compelling brass, without the violent whims.

Symphony No. 6 is sweet and tender with even the storm being tamed and symphonies Nos. 5 and 7 are carefully played and articulated; repealing the Carlos Kleiber pandemonium curse for good, me thinks.

Symphony No. 8 reminds me of Kubelik in Cleveland; sweet and often robust when necessary, however, it doesn't top Bernstein's 1963 recording with the New York Philharmonic, in my humble opinion.

And lastly, the 9th lacks the Herculean, cathartic strength that it was born to possess, but still remains a rather fine sterile execution; although it leaves the audience craving for more of that cathartic elixir.

In closing, the performances found here on Beethoven: Complete Symphonies [5 CD/Blu-ray Audio] - which also marks the start of Deutsche Grammophon’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth next year - most definitely, and without a shadow of a doubt, capture a remarkable, and always endearing cycle.

The sound is excellent and the beauty of the wind instruments was clearer than I have ever heard (especially on the included Blu-ray Audio CD), but what really sets this cycle apart, and again, for the most part, is the sense of performance.

For when conductors with big personalities partner with the Vienna Philharmonic, the results can swing strongly into good favor with audiences, or dive deeply into the mires of negativity.

Here we find a middle of the road approach, if I'm being totally honest. Maintaining a higher standard of culled sounds from musicians obviously performing music they must love dearly, its finest, stand out moments are in the Second, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Symphonies.

Lastly, a shout out to Deutsche Grammophon, who did a astonishing job on sound production; the brass instruments are sharp and crispy, woodwinds are sweet and creamy, and the strings are smooth and often robust.

Camilla Nylund – Soprano
Gerhild Romberger – Mezzo
Klaus Florian Vogt – Tenor
Georg Zeppenfeld – Bass
Wiener Singverein
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Andris Nelsons – Conductor

Official Purchase Links

Title - 'There's Always Tomorrow' [EP]
Artist - Bonzo Squad

For those not in the know, the musical collaborative effort spearheaded by saxophonist Corbin Andrick known as Bonzo Squad is taking on Chicago one show and one melted face at a time!

Specializing in locked-in grooves accented with advanced harmony, Bonzo Squad is sure to bring you to your metaphorical/musical knees with its bold flavors and striking stage presence.

Bonzo Squad is a collaborative ensemble that crosses the boundaries of genre with the virtuosic abilities of its members.

The music is not only meant to feel good, but allow audiences to lose themselves within it. In 2014, Corbin Andrick asked Andrew Lawrence to join him, Andrew Vogt, and Zack Marks at Lilly's for the weekly house band set.

Soon after Bonzo Squad was born. With Vogt's overwhelming positivity, Marks's back pocket, Lawrence's musical honesty, and Andrick's good vibe leadership, the Squad puts the smiles on the faces, that's for damn sure!

On their new EP, There's Always Tomorrow, Bonzo Squad unleashes rockfish grooves that, while infectious, are never predictable.

1. '83' (02:44)
2. 'Remedy' (06:43)
3. 'Empathy' (01:38)
4. 'Hungry Hungrey Hippos' (01:58)
5. 'iO' (06:12)
6. '#Smaeshtag' (03:47)
7. 'There's Always Tomorrow' (05:29)

The deep jazz funk of opener '83' is a joy to behold and is backed by the more free flowing hipsway of 'Remedy,' with the groove slowing down for the all-too quick 'Empathy.'

Another track under two minutes is the finger-snappin' brilliance of the drum-led 'Hungry Hungry Hippos,' which is followed by the lush dulcet piano work of 'iO.'

The band really come to the fore, in my humble opinion, on the all-in splendor of '#Smaeshtag,' with the EP coming to a close with the intriguing title track, 'There's Always Tomorrow.'

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Bonzo Squad @ Facebook

Title - 'Zajal'
Artist - Dave Soldier

For those not in the know, Dave Soldier’s new project Zajal is a work of music art that features ancient poetry born through stellar players and singers from the Gypsy flamenco, Arabic, klezmer, Iranian, Greek, and jazz worlds.

Produced by Pedro Cortes, the major figure in Gypsy flamenco music in North America, the lyrics are in medieval Hebrew, Arabic and Spanish; from Andalusia and its environs, 900-1400 AD.

This “Golden Age of Hebrew Poetry” and “Golden Age of Arabic Poetry” initiated virtually the entire Western song repertoire, meaning Schubert, the Beatles, Hank Williams, opera and most of the other art and pop music of our world.

1. 'Raqib' (The Spy)
2. 'Ma’an Walnaar' (Water and Fire)
3. 'Ya Za’iri Fid Doha' (My Visitor in the Morning)
4. 'B’Abi' (My Father)
5. 'Bi-moa' (Without Myself)
6. 'The Stars of Country Music Greet the Spring'
7. 'Eretz Sfarad' (Land of Spain)
8. 'No Me Mordaz Habibi' (Don’t Bite Me Baby)
9. 'Krav' (Battle)
10. 'Beautiful Boy'
11. 'Hal-dara Zabyu al-Hima' (If)

The upbeat, rather vibrant hipsway of 'Raqib' (The Spy) begins our mesmeric musical journey and that's followed by both 'Ma’an Walnaar' (Water and Fire) featuring the tonally incredible vocals of Triana Bautista, and then the more stoic 'Ya Za’iri Fid Doha' (My Visitor in the Morning) featuring Maurice Chedid.

The lush beauty of 'B’Abi' (My Father) is next and is followed by the gentle ebb and flow of 'Bi-moa' (Without Myself), and then comes an English-sung version of 'The Stars of Country Music Greet the Spring' (featuring David Castellano).

The rich and textured 'Eretz Sfarad' (Land of Spain) is one of my own favorites here and that's backed by the frenetic, and yet at all times controlled Flamenco guitar work on 'No Me Mordaz Habibi' (Don’t Bite Me Baby).

The sumptuous 'Krav' (Battle) is one that truly showcases and embraces the depth of vocal fullness and reach of the singer, and then the album rounds out with the mid-tempo buoyance of 'Beautiful Boy,' and then comes to close with the stirring resonance of 'Hal-dara Zabyu al-Hima' (If).

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Dave Soldier @ Facebook

Title - 'Sundoor' [Vinyl]
Artist - Dustin O'Halloran

For those not in the know, Dustin O’Halloran is a composer based in Berlin and Los Angeles and who founded indie rock band Devics with singer Sara Lov; whom he met while studying art at Santa Monica College.

In 2004, he released his first record as a solo artist, Piano Solos and has gone on to release four more solo records, the latest of which is an EP entitled Sundoor.

He has also gone on to score a number of films and TV shows, including Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006), Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy (2011) and Jill Soloway’s Transparent (2014–) - of which he was awarded a Primetime Emmy Award for his original Transparent theme - and the upcoming BBC and FX miniseries A Christmas Carol.

Dustin O’Halloran collaborated with Hauschka (Volker Bertelmann) to score Lion (2017), and they won an AACTA Award for their score and were nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA.

The two collaborated again to score The Current War (2017), and soon after Dustin O’Halloran collaborated with Bryan Senti to score the TV show Save Me (2018–). His most recent score was for Marc Turtletaub’s Puzzle, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.

The aforementioned Sundoor is a site specific piece of music in collaboration with visual artist Slater Bradley for “Sundoor at World’s End” installation at the Church of Mary Magdalene in Venice, Italy in 2017.

The American Slater Bradley is a cross-disciplinary artist. His works, which move between painting, photography and installation examine the fields of science and faith and connections between the mechanisms of the universe, have already been exhibited at the Guggenheim and Whitney Museum in New York.

His works explore collective spiritual experience, sacred sites, and personal history are examined based on topics of transcultural cosmology, philosophy, and mythology.

1. '196 Hz (Pt. 1)' (1:43)
2. '196 Hz (Pt. 2)' (1:54)
3. '196 Hz (Pt. 3)' (4:12)
4. '196 Hz (Pt. 4)' (3:00)
5. '196 Hz (Pt. 5)' (4:25)
6. '196 Hz (Pt. 6)' (5:12)

O’Halloran’s Sundoor EP (released November 8th, 2019 via Deutsche Grammophon) features a single 20-minute piece entitled ‘196 Hz’, and is broken up into six works. (A new album, which will be his first solo studio album since 2011’s acclaimed Lumiere, will be released in 2020).

Having listened to it twice through now, back-to-back, it's true that each work resonates seamlessly within one another, even, at times, allowing you moments to wonder if you keep hearing the same movements time and time again.

And maybe you are, in one way or another, for the world-renowned Reykjavík/Los Angeles-based pianist and composer O'Halloran has created a 20 minute work that not only makes you think, but also submerges you into a world that aches for your attention.

And so, much like aforementioned artist Slater Bradley's "Sundoor at World's End" installation at the Church of Mary Magdalene in Venice, Italy, during the Venice Biennale, Sundoor in all its parts is a quite magnificent, and encapsulating work of art that will live with you long after the final notes have dissipated from your turntable speakers.

Amazon Vinyl Purchase Link

Dustin O'Halloran @ Facebook

Title - 'Remixes & Rarities' [3CD]
Artist - Hot Chocolate

Cherry Pop (UK) will release the latest release in their Remixes & Rarities series this upcoming February 7th, 2020, from one of my all-time favorite bands of the era, Hot Chocolate.

This 3CD compilation features a wide selection of rare and hard to find extended versions, remixes and b-sides by one of the best loved, successful and enduring bands of the 1970s and 1980s.

The British soul band, formed by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson, remarkably had a big hit single at least once every year from 1970 to 1984, and their 1975 song 'You Sexy Thing' made the Top 10 in three decades!

In 1970, Hot Chocolate, with the help of record producer Mickie Most, began releasing tracks that became hits, such as 'Love Is Life', 'Emma', 'You Could Have Been a Lady' (a US and Canadian hit for April Wine), and 'I Believe in Love'.

All those releases were on the RAK record label, owned by Most. Brown and bassist Tony Wilson wrote most of their original material, and also provided hits for Herman's Hermits ('Bet Yer Life I Do'), Julie Felix ('Heaven is Here'), and Mary Hopkin ('Think About Your Children').

Gradually the band started to become UK Singles Chart regulars. One of the hits from this period, 'Brother Louie', actually featured a guest spoken vocal from Alexis Korner.

However, it was in the disco era of the mid-1970s that Hot Chocolate became a big success. A combination of high production standards, the growing confidence of the main songwriting team of Wilson and Brown, and tight vocal harmonies enabled them to secure further big hits such as 'You Sexy Thing' and 'Every 1's a Winner', which were also US hits, peaking at #3 (1976) and #6 (1979), respectively.

On a side note, in case you were interested, 'Every 1's a Winner' featured a distinctive distorted guitar riff by Harvey Hinsley using a Roland GR-500.

After Wilson's departure for a solo career, that included a 1976 album I Like Your Style, Brown assumed all songwriting duties. Wilson was initially replaced by Brian Satterwhite; before Satterwhite departed the band and Olive switched to bass as his primary instrument.

In 1977, after 15 hits, they finally reached #1 with 'So You Win Again'. It was one of the few of their recordings that was not written, at least partly, by Brown (the track was a Russ Ballard composition).

The band became the only group, and one of just three acts, that had a hit in every year of the 1970s in the UK charts (the other two being Elvis Presley and Diana Ross).

Hot Chocolate continued well into the 1980s, and clocked up another big hit record with 'It Started with a Kiss', in 1982, which reached #5 in the UK.

In all, the group charted 25 UK Top 40 hit singles and this incredible new 3CD set features 36 tracks, including extended versions and remixes of some of Hot Chocolate’s best known songs.

Along with that are many 7" single b-sides with a number of these tracks making their first ever appearance on CD here.

Disc: 1
1. 'So You Win Again (Stereo)'
2. 'So You Win Again (Mono)'
3. 'So You Win Again'
4. 'West End of Park Lane'
5. 'Every 1's a Winner' (12" Version)
6. 'Going Through the Motions' (12" Version) (2011 Remaster)
7. 'Mindless Boogie' (Extended Version)
8. 'The Girl Is a Fox'
9. 'Gimme Some of Your Lovin''
10. 'I've Got You on My Mind'
11. 'Are You Getting Enough of What Makes You Happy?' (12" Version)

Now, as much as I'm a HUGE Fan of this band, always have been since their explosion onto the music scene (for me, at least) in the early '70s, I'm definitely not a big fan of when sets come out with the same song back-to-back-to-back (especially right out the gate).

Here that happens with three versions of 'So You Win Again' (Stereo, Mono and single mix), which, and as much as it is a great song to listen to, loses its gleam after the third spin. The smooth R&B story of a lady of the night within 'West End of Park Lane' is still lovely to hear and that's backed by a brilliant 'Every 1's a Winner' (12" Version) and then the funky soul of 'Going Through the Motions' (12" Version) (2011 Remaster).

The paranoia-filled 'Mindless Boogie' (Extended Version) has always been an interesting song to me, and then comes the rarity 'The Girl Is a Fox,' which was only ever released as a Flexi-disc 7" single back in the day. The b-side to 'No Doubt About It' is next in the form of 'Gimme Some of Your Lovin', with the first CD rounding out with 'I've Got You on My Mind' and then comes the forceful, guitar-heavy funk of 'Are You Getting Enough of What Makes You Happy?' (12" Version).

Disc: 2
1. 'You'll Never Be So Wrong' (12" Version)
2. 'Robot Love'
3. 'A Night to Remember'
4. 'Bed Games'
5. 'Got to Get Back to Work'
6. 'It's My Birthday'
7. 'Heartache No.9' (Extended Remix)
8. 'Heartache No.9' (Dub Version)
9. 'Every 1's a Winner' (Extended Groove Mix)
10. 'Every 1's a Winner' (Groove Mix)
11. 'Every 1's a Winner'(Groove Mix Bonus Beats)
12. 'Every 1's a Winner' (Sexy Remix)
13. 'Heaven Is in the Backseat of My Cadillac' (D.D. Convertible Mix)
14. 'Heaven Is in the Backseat of My Cadillac' (D.D. Mix)

The bass guitar-led early '80s track 'You'll Never Be So Wrong' is a lush song and is backed seamlessly by both the dancefloor funk of 'Robot Love' and then the b-side to 'Chances,' the laid back soul of 'A Night to Remember.'

The b-side to their 1982 chart hit 'Girl Crazy' (a UK #7 hit), 'Bed Games' is an interesting musical direction that Hot Chocolate took, and that's backed by the b-side to the single 'What Kinda Boy You Looking For (Girl),' the beautiful 'Got to Get Back to Work.'

Next up is the b-side to 'Tears on the Telephone,' the poppy beat of 'It's My Birthday,' which is followed by the downright brilliant, feet-tappin' grooves of 'Heartache No.9' (Extended Remix and Dub Version). Then we get four (4) versions of the big hit 'Every 1's a Winner' (Extended Groove Mix, Groove Mix, Groove Mix Bonus Beats and Sexy Remix)!

This second disc rounds out with the bass and drum heavy melodic thump of 'Heaven Is in the Backseat of My Cadillac' (D.D. Convertible Mix and D.D. Mix).

Disc: 3
1. 'You Sexy Thing' (Extended Replay Mix)
2. 'You Sexy Thing' (Ben Liebrand Remix)
3. 'You Sexy Thing' (Sexy Bonus Beats)
4. 'You Sexy Thing' (Sexy Instrumental)
5. 'No Doubt About It' (Tequila Mix)
6. 'No Doubt About It' (Little Tequila Mix)
7. 'Hot Chocolate Megamix (Emma/So You Win Again/You Sexy Thing/Every 1's a Winner/You Could've Been a Lady/Heaven Is in the Back Seat of My Cadillac)'
8. 'You Sexy Thing' (Winner Mix) 12"
9. 'You Sexy Thing' (The Winner Mix) 7"
10. 'The Sexy Single Mix (You Sexy Thing/Every 1's a Winner/So You Win Again/No Doubt About It/You Sexy Thing)'
11. 'Are You Getting Enough Happiness' (12" Version) (2011 Remaster)

The third and final disc opens with four (4) versions of their massive hit 'You Sexy Thing' (Extended Replay Mix, Ben Liebrand Remix, Sexy Bonus Beats and Sexy Instrumental), and that's backed by one of my all-time HC favorites, the intergalactic 'No Doubt About It' (Tequila Mix and Little Tequila Mix).

Released on a promotional CD in the Netherlands in 1998, 'Hot Chocolate Megamix (Emma/So You Win Again/You Sexy Thing/Every 1's a Winner/You Could've Been a Lady/Heaven Is in the Back Seat of My Cadillac)' is actually a lot of fun to listen to, but then that's backed by two MORE versions of 'You Sexy Thing' (Winner Mix, 12" Mix and The Winner Mix, 7" Version).

Another track previously only released on that aforementioned promotional CD in the Netherlands in 1998 is 'The Sexy Single Mix (You Sexy Thing/Every 1's a Winner/So You Win Again/No Doubt About It/You Sexy Thing),' which much like the first one, is also a joy to behold.

'Are You Getting Enough Happiness' (12" Version) (2011 Remaster)' rounds the set off nicely, and as much as there are simply just way too many remixes of each song that sound the same each time, I can honestly say listening to this Remixes & Rarities 3CD set has floated me back to a time that was much simpler, easier on the eye and a musical joy to behold with the release of each and every glorious 7" single.

Title - 'Albums 1979-1982'
Artist - Matchbox

7T's / Cherry Red Records (UK) will release a quite stunning 65 track, 4CD box-set rounding up all of Rockabilly Revival band Matchbox’s recordings for Magnet Records between 1979 and 1982 this upcoming February 7th, 2020.

Housed in a sturdy clam shell box, each disc comes in a card wallet depicting the original LP art on the front. The 20 page booklet comes complete with in-depth liner notes plus pictures of all relevant singles sleeves and memorabilia.

Matchbox were formed in Middlesex, in 1971 by Iain "Houndog" Terry, Fred Poke, Jimmy Redhead, and Wiffle Smith.

After 1978, the line-up consisted of Graham Fenton (lead vocalist), Steve Bloomfield (lead guitar, vocals), Gordon Scott (rhythm guitar), Fred Poke (bass guitar) and Jimmy Redhead (drums).

Redhead had left in 1973, Smith in 1977 and Lupton in 1978 to tour with Chuck Berry. Dick Callan joined Matchbox on guitar, saxophone and violin until approximately 1985, writing many of the band's B-sides.

The band also appeared in the 1980 film Blue Suede Shoes which detailed the revival of 1950s rock 'n' roll music scene at the time.

Matchbox's biggest hits included 'Rockabilly Rebel' (Bloomfield, 1979), 'Midnite Dynamos' (Bloomfield, 1980), a cover of The Crickets' 'When You Ask About Love' (their only top five hit), and 'Over the Rainbow' (adapted musical song, 1980).

Their last single, 'I Want Out' (Brian Hodgson/Ray Peters/Tony Colton, 1983) from their album, Crossed Line, was produced together with the late, great Kirsty MacColl.

In 1989, Graham Fenton put together a band with Iain Terry, Bob Burgos, Howard Gadd and Greg Gadd. They called themselves Graham Fenton's Matchbox.

They recorded six albums in the early 1990s and the most popular Matchbox line-up actually reformed in 1995. The band have been playing live all over Europe since their comeback, especially in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Finland and Sweden (on occasions Iain Terry and Dave Dix were used as replacements for Bloomfield and Poke).

The first disc is their self-titled debut for the label which reached #44 in the UK chart. It contains the hit singles ‘Rockabilly Rebel’ (#18) and ‘Buzz Buzz A Diddle It’ (#22) as well as the non-charting ‘Black Slacks’.

The album now comes with four (4) bonus tracks, including two recorded under the name of Cyclone.

Disc: 1 - Matchbox (aka Rockabilly Rebel), 1979
1. 'Rockabilly Rebel'
2. 'Buzz Buzz a Diddle It'
3. 'Seventeen'
4. 'Tell Me How'
5. 'Hurricane'
6. 'Everybody Needs a Little Love'
7. 'Rockin' at the Ritz'
8. 'Hi-Fly Woman'
9. 'Love Is Going Out of Fashion'
10. 'Poor Boy'
11. 'Lord Mr. Ford'
12. 'Black Slacks'
13. 'Mad Rush'
14. 'I Don't Wanna Boogie Alone'
15. 'Palisades Park'
16. 'Crazy Haze'

As I'm sure you already know, Matchbox never failed to deliver not only other people's songs to the highest of standards, but also those of their lead guitarist Steve Bloomfield.

This debut album is fantastic, simply a rock 'n' roll joy to behold, all the way from the raucous, finger snappin' fun of 'Rockabilly Rebel' and 'Buzz Buzz A Diddle It,' on through both 'Hurricane' and 'Rockin' At The Ritz,' to the old Cyclone tracks, culminating in both 'Palisades Park' and 'Crazy Haze.'

The second disc is 1980’s Midnite Dynamos album which reached #23 in the British charts. The title track gave the band a #14 hit single and the album also includes the #4 smash ‘When You Ask About Love’.

The eight bonus cuts include the #15 hit ‘Over The Rainbow/You Belong To Me’ as well as two ultra-rare Japanese only singles, ‘I’m A Lover Man’ and ‘Little Lonely Girl’.

Disc: 2 - Midnite Dynamos, 1980
1. 'Midnite Dynamos'
2. 'Shocked N Shattered'
3. 'Checkin' Out'
4. 'C'mon Let's Go'
5. 'Marie Marie'
6. 'Southern Boys'
7. 'Back-Row Romeo'
8. 'Sixteen Chicks'
9. 'Sweet Lolita'
10. 'When You Ask About Love'
11. 'Jelly Roll'
12. 'Back Here in Boston'
13. 'Stranger in Nevada'
14. 'Love Is Going Out of Fashion (New Version)'
15. 'Scotted Dick'
16. 'You've Made a Fool of Me'
17. 'Over the Rainbow / You Belong to Me'
18. 'Don't Break Up the Party'
19. 'Stay Cool'
20. 'I'm a Lover Man'
21. 'Little Lonely Girl'

In truth, Midnite Dynamo's is a more slick, commercial album than their previous self titled album. The singles that they released from the album, 'When you ask about Love' and 'Midnite Dynamo's' were definitely for the more "bubblegum rock 'n' roll-orientated fans, but they worked well, for sure.

It also includes some great Steve Bloomfield originals like the title track, plus 'Checking Out', 'Sweet Lolita' and 'Stranger In Nevada' (a surprise instrumental).

Gordon Scott's version of 'Marie Marie' is far superior (in MHO) to the hit version by Shakin' Stevens and Graham Fenton's vocals on the other tracks, such as 'C'mon Let's Go', 'Southern Boys' and 'Sixteen Chicks' are downright superb!

It's also now nice to see some of the original B-sides from the 7" singles now having been added to this CD as they fully deserve to be.

The third disc is their Flying Colours album which contained the hit singles ‘Babe’s In The Wood’ (#46) and ‘Love’s Made A Fool Of You’ (#63).

Disc: 3 - Flying Colours, 1981
1. 'Love's Made a Fool of You'
2. 'Heartaches By the Number'
3. 'Angels on Sunday'
4. 'Lone Star Dreamers'
5. 'Bonaparte's Retreat'
6. 'Whiplash'
7. 'Babe's in the Wood'
8. 'Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes'
9. 'You're the One'
10. '24 Hours'
11. 'Wish I'd Never (Said Hello)'
12. 'Arabella's on Her Way'
13. 'Tokyo Joe'
14. 'Springheel Jack'
15. 'City Women'

A quite fantastic album from my childhood days from the band, the obvious stand out tracks here are the noted hit single (‘Babe’s In The Wood’ and 'Love's Made A Fool Of You’), sure, but other cuts such as the brilliant, finger snappin' joy of 'Heartaches By the Number,' the gentle mid-tempo hipsway of 'Bonaparte's Retreat,' and the frenetic '24 Hours' are also songs that could have been (should have been) hit singles.

The final disc is the 1982 LP Crossed Line, released here on CD for the first time. It features the #63 hit single ‘One More Saturday Night’ plus their collaboration with the late Kirsty MacColl on ‘I Want Out’.

Disc: 4 - Crossed Line, 1982
1. 'One More Saturday Night'
2. 'I Ain't Taking No Prisoners'
3. 'Crossed Line'
4. 'Mad Bad & Dangerous'
5. 'I Want Out' (Featuring Kirsty MacColl)
6. 'Rollin' On'
7. 'Riding the Night'
8. 'Gate Crashing'
9. 'Hot Loving'
10. 'Dreamers Sometimes Do'
11. 'Mean 'N' Evil'
12. 'Ain't Much Fun'
13. 'Heaven Can Wait'

Well, as you can clearly see from the cover art of this album, Matchbox may well have changed their image, relaxing into jeans, colorful tshirts and denim jackets, but their music remained British rockabilly to the core.

Opening with the finger-snappin' power swing of 'One More Saturday Night,' the title track is an addictive, sax-led beauty, and the harder-edged 'Mad Bad & Dangerous' is a growled beauty too.

More frenetic vocals and sounds come to the fore on the brilliant energy shown within 'Riding The Night,' and their duet with Kirsty MacColl on the frenetic pop of 'I Want Out' is still a massive joy to behold; even all these years later.

Title - 'A Jazz Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band'
Artist - Big Band of Brothers

Released in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band’s debut album, A Jazz Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band (released November 22, 2019 via New West Records) is a wonderful, and highly inventive 10-song set of jazz interpretations of Allman Brothers Band favorites.

Featuring Marc Broussard and Ruthie Foster on vocals on two songs each, the Big Band of Brothers also features Jack Pearson on guitar (who performed as a member of the Allman Brothers Band from 1997 to 1999) along with the celebrated trombonist Wycliffe Gordon of Jazz at Lincoln Center fame (here as a featured soloist on 'Don’t Want You No More,' and who actually wrote the arrangement for 'Statesboro Blues.')

1. 'Statesboro Blues' (feat. Marc Broussard)
2. 'Don't Want You No More' (feat. Wycliffe Gordon)
3. 'It's Not My Cross to Bear' (feat. Ruthie Foster)
4. 'Hot 'Lanta'
5. 'Whipping Post' (feat. Marc Broussard)
6. 'Stand Back' (feat. Jack Pearson)
7. 'Dreams'
8. 'In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed'
9. 'Don't Keep Me Wonderin'' (feat. Ruthie Foster)
10. 'Les Brers In A Minor'

This quite mesmerizing, dazzling even album kicks off in some fine smooth jazz style with Marc Broussard bringing his usual brand of Bayou Soul to 'Statesboro Blues,' which is backed seamlessly by the sterner Ravenscroft Jazz Resident Wycliffe Gordon incredible trombone work on 'Don't Want You No More,' and then a passionate 'It's Not My Cross to Bear' (featuring blues and folk singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster).

The perky, '70s-infused vibrancy of 'Hot 'Lanta' is followed one of my own personal favorites on the album, the gloriously embodied 'Whipping Post' (again featuring Marc Broussard) and that's backed by 'Stand Back,' featuring the soulful slide guitarist Jack Pearson).

The mood is brought back down for a moment on the soft shoe shuffle vibe for 'Dreams' and then on the lo-fi, '70s soft psych soundtrack of 'In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed,' with the album then rounding out with the pulsating 'Don't Keep Me Wonderin'' (again featuring Ruthie Foster), and the finally a 12 minute version of 'Les Brers In A Minor.'

French for 'The Brothers In A Minor,' the song is an instrumental written by Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts and was one of the first songs the band recorded without Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident about four months before.

Berry Oakley's bass line is prominent in the Allman Brothers original, but sadly, Oakley himself died later that year in a motorcycle accident similar to the one that killed Duane Allman.

The 15-piece Big Band of Brothers was produced by Mark Lanter, Charles Driebe and John Harvey and was recorded and mixed by Eric Bates at Bates Brothers Recording in Hueytown, AL.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Albare Plays Jobim'
Artist - Albare

Guitarist and composer, Albare was born in Morocco and grew up in Israel and France. Although he joined at age eight the Music Conservatory in his hometown in Israel for two years, his musical development was completely self-taught.

These days, as Albare has lost his central vision faculties due to an genetic illness, his playing is completely by ear.

In 1972 Albare discovered the sound of Jobim while watching Marcel Camus’s cult film, Orpheus Negro. The haunting melodies and unique compositions left a profound impression on the young guitarist and inspired Albare to study and play the melodic style for which he is now known for.

Furthermore, in 1993 Albare launched his first album, Acid Love which was a smash hit #1 on the JJJ radio play list.

Albare Plays Jobim (released January 3rd, 2020 via Alfi Records) is his sixth collaboration with Phil Turcio and fifth with Joe Chindamo. Indeed, it is also his second collaboration with Antonio Sanchez and first with Ricardo Rodriguez.

Overall though, Albare plays Jobim is his 12th album and of his romantic exploration of Jobim’s enchanting melodies, Albare says: “As Jobim was such an influence in my playing, I feel this album is overdue and I am now ready to express the intense beauty of these melodies to my own satisfaction.”

1. 'One Note Samba' (3:44)
2. 'Corcovado' (4:59)
3. 'Chega De Saudade' (3:28)
4. 'Orfeu Negro' (4:52)
5. 'Desafinado' (5:06)
6. 'Água de Beber' (4:54)
7. 'Double Rainbow' (3:41)
8. 'Águas de Março' (3:47)
9. 'Wave' (5:19)
10. 'Brazil' (3:56)

Having listened to this album twice through now, back to back, I can confirm that this Jobim-inspired music combines sophisticated compositions with exuded amounts of finesse and talented compassion throughout to bring forth a quite magnificent musical experience.

This tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim is a masterful exercise in how to instill a new love, devotion, and heartfelt awe into tracks that obviously embraced their own original passion back when they were created.

Taking ten tracks from the Brazilian composer, pianist, songwriter, arranger and singer - who himself was widely considered as one of the great exponents of Brazilian music, of course - smoothing their edges, adding a little bit of spice, and then heating things up in a way only Albare can, Albare Plays Jobim is one of those album that must surely top any self-respecting Jazz lovers Top 10 lists for 2020.

Guitars: Albare, Piano, string arrangement and conductor: Joe Chindamo, Drums: Antonio Sanchez, and Bass: Ricardo "Ricky" Rodriquez.

Title - 'The Peace Concert Versailles'
Artist - Yuja Wang

The Vienna Philharmonic, led by Franz Welser-Möst and supported by an all-star line-up, among them pianist Yuja Wang, performed a concert of pieces highlighting war and peace in commemoration of the end of WWI.

100 years after the first of the devastating human catastrophes of the 20th century officially ended at Versailles, a group of inspired musicians gathered at the historic site for a concert that is now available on film and CD (released November 15th, 2019 via Deutsche Grammophon).

1. W.A. Mozart, Ouverture to “Die Zauberflöte”, KV 620
2-6. C. Debussy: Sirènes from “Trois Nocturnes”
7. G. Holst: Mars, the Bringer of War from “The Planets”, op.32
8. R. Wagner: Funeral March from “Götterdämmerung”, Wwv 86d
9-10. M. Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major
11. R. Vaughan Williams: Dirge for Two Veterans from “Dona nobis pacem”
12-15. L.v.Beethoven: Agnus Dei from “Missa solemnis” in D Major, op.123
16. Ch. Ives: The Unanswered Question

Featuring a setlist quite like no other - with works including Holst (Mars from The Planets), Ravel (Piano Concerto for the Left Hand), Wagner (Funeral March from Gotterdammerung), and Beethoven (Agnus Dei from the Missa Solemnis) - this never-heard-before compilation of deeply moving musical pieces stunningly highlights numerous aspects of war and peace via fluid, and at times, pulsating music.

This is how the Wiener Philharmoniker, led by Franz Welser-Möst and supported by an all-star line-up, among them singular pianist Yuja Wang, tackled the highly anticipated concert in commemoration of the end of the 1st World War.

Opening with the spritely Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K620: Overture, the next set of works (Debussy: Nocturnes, L. 91 / 3. Sirènes) are an absolute beauty to behold. They grow from the stoic, lowly, aching seeds of both Modérément animé and Un peu plus lent, then bathing within En animant, surtout dans l'expression, before climaxing in the passionate Revenir progressivement au Tempo I – En augmentant peu à peu and then the thought provoking 'Tempo I – Plus lent et en retenant jusqu'à la fin.'

The worldly renowned epic Holst: The Planets, Op. 32 and the stern endeavors found within Wagner: Gotterdammerung are magnificently reproduced here and are backed seamlessly by Ravel: Piano Concerto in D major (for the left hand) - with the flinty Lento leading us into the playful piano work of Allegro - Tempo I.

Next is the uplifting, at times soaring Vaughan Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem which is followed by the operatic wonderment of Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123 - Agnus Dei. This breathtaking concert then rounds out with the five minute salute found within Ives, C: The Unanswered Question.

100 years after the first of the devastating humane catastrophes of the 20th century officially ended at Versailles, a group of inspired musicians gathered at the historic site for a concert that will live on in the memory of those who have seen or heard it.

This incredible, simply divine and heartfelt new CD The Peace Concert Versailles is that result and it is one that will live long in the memory of the casual listener also.

Official CD Purchase Link

Yuja Wang @ Facebook

Title - 'Johann Sebastian Bach Piano & Reworks'
Artist - Víkingur Ólafsson

For those not in the know, possessing a rare combination of passionate musicality, explosive virtuosity and intellectual curiosity, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has won all the major prizes in his native country, including four Musician of the Year prizes at the Icelandic Music Awards as well as The Icelandic Optimism Prize.

His latest release, an incredible 2CD album (released November 1st, 2019 via Deutsche Grammophon), combines the original Bach album, a collection of both well-known and rarely performed pieces by the famous Baroque composer, including transcriptions by Busconi, Rachmaninov, Siloti, and Víkingur himself; and Bach Reworks, an album of new arrangements of Víkingur's Bach transcriptions from electronic artists such as Valgeir Sigurðsson and Ben Frost, Peter Gregson, and Ryuichi Sakamoto.

In truth, and having listened to these two discs back-to-back now three times over, it's the overall curation of the pieces that is matched only by his musicality and technical skills.

Sure we live in a world that has hardly been deprived of a steady unveiling of Bach recordings, but here on Works & Reworks, it's plainly clear that Víkingur has done his best to re-educate us.

With no piece longer than five to six minutes, and with a handful under a minute, the collection feels aerated and accessible, leaning itself more toward the mind of those with attention deficit.

Indeed, not since Wilhelm Kempff's recording of works by Bach in the 1950s have I gotten so much out of Bach's music (for keyboard) on repeated listening.

This Icelandic genius has marvelous fingers and a feeling for Bach, of that there is no arguing. And thus if his interpretation of the Fantasy and Fugue in A minor does not attain the level of Edwin Fisher's, for instance, you could hardly ask for more in the other works on the first disc, trust me.

The Reworks disc allows Víkingur to rethink his Bach approach and take things to an even more contemporary space. Thus allowing a fine musical blend of his own award-winning recordings with electronic music to continue onward within his musical love.

Featuring musicians and composers such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ben Frost, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Hildur Guðnadóttir, admittedly this isn't my favorite collection of works by Víkingur - a few tracks are full of invasive electronic, and at times unidentified noises that use the full mechanism of the piano via a fuzz bass - but it is still an adventurous, and adeptly spirited culling of Bach, that's for sure.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Víkingur Ólafsson @ Facebook

Title - 'Encores'
Artist - Nelson Freire

For those not in the know, Nelson Freire has long been seen as a connoisseur’s pianist, but a series of superb recordings have raised his profile to the extent that he is now thought of as one of today’s universally recognized great musicians.

Whether playing the great warhorses of the repertoire or the gentlest miniatures, he brings to his performances a level of quiet thoughtfulness that puts him in a class of his own.

Now the legendary Brazilian pianist celebrates his 75th birthday with a new album. A delightful collection of personal piano favorites entitled Encores it was released on his birthday, October 18th, 2019 via Decca Classics.

The 30 tracks range from Purcell to Rachmaninov; Scarlatti to Shostakovich and also present to us 12 of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, along with such treasures as the Sgambati Mélodie de Gluck, the Paderewski Nocturne and Albeniz’s Navarra.

This quite stunning recital of works brings forth Freire's undeniable qualities just perfectly. With each work encapsulating his sense of occupying within a rich, lush, sensitive and expressive piano tone, each piece breathes and pulsates just as beautifully now as they once did.

Indeed, Freire finds and hones all this beautiful music, encapsulating it within strokes of art that lovingly reflect the musical phrases contained within each.

Using his Steinway concert model D to perfection here, these new recordings not only match Freire's tone within its registers and balanced musical expressions, but fine tune their immaculate nuances to birth works that are both delightful and excitingly addictive.

My personal favorites here are the two Rachmaninov’s Preludes, notably the expansive, deeply felt, B minor, which is heard alongside the gently melancholic G Sharp Minor, both played with unforced eloquence.

This new release also comes complete with a quite wondrous 23-page booklet that features 15 photos reflecting Freire's wonderful and exciting career.

Written in English, French and German, the details also add information about the artist and his rather colorful career.

1. Giovanni Sgambati Mélodie de Gluck
2. Henry Purcell Hornpipe
3. Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in D minor K.64 (Gavotta)
4. Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in B minor K.377 (Allegrissimo)
5. Zygmunt Stojowski Vers l’azur (Aspirations Op. 39, No 1)
6. Ignacy Jan Paderewski Nocturne
7. Richard Strauss/Leopold Godowsky Ständchen (Serenade) Op. 17, No. 2
8-19. Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book I, Op. 12 1.Arietta
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book I, Op. 12 2. Vals
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book I, Op. 12 5. Folkevise
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book II, Op. 38 1.Berceuse
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book III, Op. 43 2. Ensom Vandrer
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book III, Op. 43 4. Liden Fugl
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book III, Op. 43 6. Til våren
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book IV, Op. 47 4. Halling
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book V, Op. 54 1.Gjetergutt
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book VIII, Op. 65 6. Bryllupsdag på Troldhaugen
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book IX, Op. 68 3. For dine føtter
Edvard Grieg Grieg 12 Lyric Pieces
Book IX, Op. 68 5. Bådnlåt
20. Anton Rubinstein Mélodie in F (Deux Mélodies Op 3, No 1)
21. Alexander Scriabin Poéme in F sharp major (Deux poèmes, Op 32, No 1)
22. Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in B minor Op 32, No 10
23. Sergei Rachmaninoff Prelude in G sharp minor Op 32, No 12
24-26. Dmitri Shostakovich - Three Fantastic Dances Op 5
27. Enrique Granados Quejas, o La Maja y el ruiseñor (Complaint, or the Girl and the Nightingale) Goyescas No 4
28. Federico Mompou Jeunes filles au jardin (Scenes d’Enfants)
29. Isaac Albéniz arr. Leopold Godowsky Tango
30. Isaac Albéniz Navarra

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Mystery Man' [Vinyl]
Artist - Jonny Couch

A former punk drummer, the Brooklyn-based Jonny Couch reinvented himself as a solo artist in 2016 via the shockingly strong Animal Instinct EP.

Indeed, Animal Instinct introduced the world to Couch's soulful, synth-laced pop, earning him labels like "a Bryan Ferry pop crooner" (Louder Than War) and "unpolished and charming" (High Times).

Released this past August 2nd, 2019 via Damaged Sofa Records, Couch's full-length debut Mystery Man was released to high acclaim within the business and rightly so.

Side A:
1. 'Mystery Man' (3:30)
2. 'Vertigo' (3:14)
3. 'Irrational Hearts' (3:30)
4. 'Lullaby' (3:07)
5. 'Survival in the Summer' (3:16)

Side B:
6. 'Impossible Dreamer' (3:13)
7. 'Shadow Eyes' (2:20)
8. 'Upside Down' (2:26)
9. 'Delusions of Grandeur' (2:54)
10. 'Framed' (4:01)

Listening to the new album on vinyl, the way all music should be admired, it opens with the fluctuating '80s grooves and swirling tones of the brilliant title track 'Mystery Man,' and backs that up with the sterner '90s vibe of 'Vertigo,' the free flowing, guitar led 'Irrational Hearts,' and then the mood quietens for 'Lullaby.'

Couch's vocal approach is just so mid-'80s / early-'90s conditioned that the songs are so welcoming to all of us music lovers of a certain age.

And although it took me a few moments, songs such as the aforementioned 'Lullaby' simply ooze those notable tones of a young Chris DeBurgh, which makes listening to Couch even more pleasurable.

Next up, and bringing Side A to a close, is the enormous synth pop of 'Survival in the Summer,' which is yet another glorious stand out track here.

Side B opens with the drum-led, foot-tappin' beauty 'Impossible Dreamer,' a track that is not only one of my own personal favorites, but comes complete with a pinch of Liam Gallagher swagger to it, and that's backed by the gently frenetic 'Shadow Eyes.'

The methodical, psych groove of the mid-tempo 'Upside Down' is another musical gem to behold, with the album rounding out nicely with the pop bounce of both 'Delusions of Grandeur' and 'Framed.'

“My favorite bands are Cheap Trick and Buzzcocks, but this is more of a personal record than a band effort, highly influenced by power pop solo artists like Nick Lowe,” Couch explains.

"Also, some of my favorite New Romantic artists, such as Roxy Music, Duran Duran, Psychedelic Furs. There is a neo-noir theme throughout the album too, starting with the title track, ‘Mystery Man'."

"I am a big fan of neo-noir films like Drive, Body Heat, and most of Brian DePalma’s movies.”

Amazon Purchase Links

Jonny Couch @ Facebook

Title - 'Third Eye'
Artist - Bill Grogan's Goat

For those not in the know, Bill Grogan’s Goat combines solid Detroit rock with traditional Celtic melodies to produce a truly unique sound, tightly combining traditional songs with reels, jigs, and hornpipes at a pace that will challenge the Lord of the Dance himself!

Indeed, highland pipes, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, bouzouki, and penny whistle, accompanied by rock and roll bass, guitar, and drums, breathe new life into time-honored songs of love, war and whiskey.

Originally released back on October 31st, 2017 (but being given a fresh spin today here at, Third Eye (which was also voted Third Best Album of 2017 by Shite and Onions Website and podcast!) is a collection of 14 tracks that instantly transport you to a different, yet incredibly welcoming time and place.

1. '3rd I'
2. 'The Hewry Highwayman'
3. 'Andro Des Morts'
4. 'The Burning of Cork'
5. 'Raggle Taggle Gypsy'
6. 'Knockdhu Reel Set: The Knockdhu Reel / The Pigeon on the Gate / The Banshee'
7. 'Ye Jacobites by Name'
8. 'Paddy's Dead'
9. 'Mary Mac'
10. 'Wild Mountain Thyme'
11. 'The Devils Trumpet: The Gravel Walk / The Glass of Beer'
12. 'The Blacksmith'
13. 'Haul Away Joe'
14. 'Third Eye'

The album opens with sixty seconds plus of sonic ambience on '3rd I' before cranking the jams up for the dynamic storytelling of 'The Hewry Highwayman' and then the Celtic brilliance of 'Andro Des Morts.'

Being an old school rocker, 'The Burning of Cork' is one of my own personal favorites here and that's backed seamlessly by both the upbeat, fun and poetically frenetic 'Raggle Taggle Gypsy' and the thunderous Celtic rock epic 'Knockdhu Reel Set: The Knockdhu Reel / The Pigeon on the Gate / The Banshee.'

The gentle balladry of 'Ye Jacobites by Name' is a rather lovely midway respite, but that's over all too soon when their '70s punk rock attitude comes barreling to the fore on the explosive 'Paddy's Dead.'

The finger-snappin' hipsway of 'Mary Mac' calms everything down once again and that's followed by a wondrous flowing wave of Celtic sounds on 'Wild Mountain Thyme,' and then a mix of early '80s synth grooves, boisterous rock guitars, fluid bagpipes all set to a solid drum beat on 'The Devils Trumpet: The Gravel Walk / The Glass of Beer.'

This quite remarkable album then comes to a close with the beautiful acoustic guitar work of 'The Blacksmith,' the boisterous lo-fi punk of 'Haul Away Joe,' and then rounds out with the title track 'Third Eye' - the perfect sixty seconds plus ambient book end.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Poxmen Of The Horslypse: A Tribute To Horslips
Artist - Various

For those not in the know, a super-talented collection of musicians have come together to bring forth Poxmen Of The Horslypse: A Tribute To Horslips, a punk 'n' roll tribute to legendary Celtic rockers Horslips.

Horslips are an Irish Celtic rock band that compose, arrange and perform songs frequently inspired by traditional Irish airs, jigs and reels.

Furthermore, the group are regarded as 'founding fathers of Celtic rock' for their fusion of traditional Irish music with rock music and went on to inspire many local and international acts.

They formed in 1970 and retired in 1980 for an extended period. Their name originated from a spoonerism on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse which became "The Four Poxmen of The Horslypse."

Featuring music from: The Langer's Ball, Bill Grogan's Goat, The Mahones, Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers), Mark Cunningham, The Radiators from Space (Phil Chevron of The Pogues), The Indulgers, Dun Ringles, The Teraways, Gerard Smith, The Gobshites (with help from Richie Ramone), and The Larkin Brigade, Poxmen Of The Horslypse: A Tribute To Horslips (out and being reviewed today on lush vinyl) is, quite easily, one of the most passionate and heartfelt recordings I have heard in such a long time.

Originally released back on January 2nd, 2017 (but being given a fresh spin today here at, Poxmen Of The Horslypse: A Tribute To Horslips (released via Shite 'n' Onions Records, and which has also been dedicated to the memory of Anne McConnell-Strong), is a collection of 12 tracks spread over the vinyl LP and a lovely 7" vinyl single.

Side A:
1. 'Sword of Light' - The Langer's Ball
2. 'Dearg Doom' - Bill Grogan's Goat
3. 'The Shamrock Shore' - The Mahones
4. 'Warm Sweet Breath of Love' - Jake Burns
5. 'Fantasia (My Lagan Love)' - Mark Cunningham

Side B:
6. 'The Lady Wrestler' - The Radiators from Space
7. 'Trouble (With a Capital T)' - The Indulgers
8. 'Speed the Plough' - Dun Ringles
9. 'Come Back Beatles' - The Teraways
10. 'Ferdia's Song' - Gerard Smith

7" Single (Side A)
1. 'The Man Who Built America' - The Gobshites

7" Single (Side B)
2. 'New York Wakes' - The Larkin Brigade

This Celtic-punk tribute to Horslips opens with the frenetically controlled 'Sword of Light' (The Langer's Ball), and backs that up with the rocker 'Dearg Doom' (Bill Grogan's Goat) and then the melodic Celtic ramblings found within the traditional 'The Shamrock Shore' (The Mahones).

The first side of this completely brilliant vinyl album rounds out with Jake Burns (the lead singer of veteran Irish rockers Stiff Little Fingers) on 'Warm Sweet Breath of Love,' and then some sumptuous underlying '80s synth work on 'Fantasia (My Lagan Love)' from Mark Cunningham.

The second side of the vinyl record opens with the storytelling of 'The Lady Wrestler' (The Radiators from Space), the upbeat, lo-fi Celtic rocker 'Trouble (With a Capital T)' (The Indulgers), and then the mid-tempo guitar rock of 'Speed the Plough' from Dun Ringles.

The second side then comes to a close with the joyous jam and ode to the Beatles on 'Come Back Beatles' (The Teraways) and wraps with the Celtic warmth of 'Ferdia's Song' from Gerard Smith.

The 7" single that accompanies this excellent album has 'The Man Who Built America' (The Gobshites, featuring drums by Richie Ramone) as it's lead track, with the flip side being the excitable 'New York Wakes' from The Larkin Brigade.

Poxmen Of The Horslypse: A Tribute To Horslips is available as a vinyl LP that comes complete with a lovely 7" single. 250 copies have been pressed, with 50 green vinyl and 200 black (both containing the aforementioned 7" single on black vinyl).

Official Vinyl LP Purchase Link

Title - 'Instant In Time'
Artist - Paige Cora

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paige Cora @ Facebook