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Title - 'Technicolor'
Artist - Sweet Lizzy Project

Every debut album represents a journey, but few have come as far or struggled so tenaciously for the chance to be heard on their own terms as Cuba's Sweet Lizzy Project.

The five-piece rock band (Lisset Diaz - singer and acoustic guitar; Miguel Comas - lead guitar, producer, and background vocals; Wilfredo Gatell - keyboards and background vocals; drummer Angel Luis Millet, and bass player Alejandro Gonzalez) built a strong following in its native Havana with scant resources or infrastructure to support them, in a cultural setting where they could never be entirely themselves.

When American roots rockers The Mavericks' lead singer Raul Malo, whose parents emigrated from Cuba in 1960, got to know the band, he sponsored them for US work visas and signed them to their record company in late 2017.

The band made the bold decision to move to Nashville, where they recorded their sophomore album Technicolor [out 2/21] at Blackbird Studios.

1. 'Technicolor'
2. 'Turn up the Radio'
3. 'Ain't Nobody to Call'
4. 'Tu Libertad'
5. 'The Flower's in the Seed' (feat. The Mavericks)
6. 'What Was Happening to Me'
7. 'These Words'
8. 'Travel to the Moon'
9. 'Vuelta Atrás'
10. 'December 31st'

Sweet Lizzy’s songs, all original and penned in English, are reflective of the members’ wide range of ages, from their 20´s to 40´ which combined with their Latin heritage means that once you press play you will soon lose yourself within all the quite wondrous selections of flavorful hipsway and exciting rhythms.

From the very off, the orchestrally imbued title track sweeps you away in a haze of summer daze and endless blue skies, whilst the pop rock feel of 'Ain't Nobody to Call' reminds you of their more grounded approach to conquering America.

But we also are treated to the Cuban-flavored 'Turn up the Radio' and the lush ballad 'Tu Libertad,' which both ensure the album comes complete with a bed of subtle Latin undertones.

Malo says Sweet Lizzy Project has the work ethic required to dive into the crowded American market. At the same time, he's tempering expectations. "As much as they achieved in Cuba on a local and regional level, here you're starting all over again and you're on the bottom rung of the ladder."

"We've been outsiders from the start," counters Lisset. "In Cuba, we were swimming against the tide by singing rock 'n' roll in English. It took us time to gain respect by the institutions that would let us play our music."

"And then we had a chance to come here, and we're outsiders again. But that's ok. We just want to play."

Sweet Lizzy Project @ Facebook

Sweet Lizzy Project @ Twitter

Title - 'In This Town You're Owned'
Artist - Robert Vincent

For those not in the know, Robert Vincent is a prolific UK singer/songwriter and busy touring artist who released his debut album back in 2013.

But it was being awarded the inaugural Emerging Artist Award from Bob Harris in 2016 and subsequently being invited to perform on BBC4’s Old Grey Whistle Test: For One Night Only that really helped raise his profile and propel him to #1 on the iTunes country chart.

Indeed, 2018 saw him receive the UK Album Of The Year Award from the UK Americana Music Association for his 2017 release I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins, and now signed to Nashville’s Thirty Tigers, he releases his follow-up album, In This Town You're Owned on February 14th, 2020.

1. 'This Town'
2. 'My Neighbours Ghost'
3. 'The Kids Don't Dig God Anymore'
4. 'The Ending'
5. 'Conundrum'
6. 'Husk Of A Soul'
7. 'I Was Hurt Today But I'm Alright Now'
8. 'The End Of The War'
9. 'If You Were You'
10. 'Cuckoo'

The opening track 'This Town' showcases the depth and breadth of Vincent's vocal styling perfectly. Produced by Brit Award winning Ethan Johns, Vincent's American roots music combined with some stellar guitar work instantly bodes well for the listener about to indulge in his 10-track new album.

The upbeat, hand-clappin' and countrified 'My Neighbours Ghost' is also my own personal favorite here and that's backed by the ambient dreamscape whirling of 'The Kids Don't Dig Go Anymore,' the heartfelt ballad 'The Ending,' and the mid-tempo rhythmic Americana of 'Conundrum.'

Another stand out track is the ethereal musicianship and musings found within 'Husk Of A Soul,' which is backed by the somber balladeering eloquence of 'I Was Hurt Today But I'm Alright Now.'

This quite magnificent, plainly spoken and yet earnestly evoked new album then rounds out with the quietly impassioned 'The End Of The War,' the woken ponderings of 'If You Were You,' and then finally comes to a close with the sprightly melodic 'Cuckoo.'

Amazon 'This Town' Digital Single Purchase Link

Robert Vincent @ 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 - 'High Times in the Dark'
Artist - The Claudettes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Claudettes @ Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gina Kronstadt @ Facebook

Title - 'Instant In Time'
Artist - Paige Cora

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paige Cora @ Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

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

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

Title - 'Special EFX Allstars'
Artist - Special EFX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Trippin 'N' Rhythm Records @ Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Hazell Dean @ Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Exclusive new remixes for 2020!

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

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

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

+ Previously unreleased!

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

Official 2CD/DVD Purchase Link

Kim Wilde @ Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+ Previously unreleased

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+ Previously unreleased
* Exclusive new remixes for 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official 2CD/DVD Purchase Link

Kim Wilde @ Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+ Previously unreleased

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

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

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

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

+ Previously unreleased
* Exclusive new remixes for 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official 2CD/DVD Purchase Link

Kim Wilde @ Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official 2CD Purchase Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Other Side'
Artist - Nektar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Return'
Artist - Deep Energy Orchestra

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official Purchase Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'Joy'
Artist - Gentlemen's Academy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Art in America @ Facebook!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Convey @ Facebook!

Title - 'Truce'
Artist - Markus Reuter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al Gold @ Facebook!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Calle Loíza Jazz Project @ Facebook!

Title - 'Just Words'
Artist - Lynne Hanson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Lynne Hanson @ Facebook!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supersuckers @ Facebook!

Title - 'Old Habits Die Hard'
Artist - Junkyard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Junkyard @ Facebook!

Title - 'Ruination'
Artist - Virgil Donati

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Virgil Donati @ Facebook!

Virgil Donati @ Twitter!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CDbaby CD Purchase Link

Doug MacDonald @ Picuki!

Doug MacDonald @ Facebook!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apple Digital Purchase Link

Wyatt Edmondson @ Facebook!

Title - 'Connexion'
Artist - Peppino D'Augostino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peppino D'Augostino @ Facebook!

Peppino D'Augostino @ Instagram!

Title - 'Better' [EP]
Artist - Karney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links

The Karney Band @ Facebook! Anna Karney @ Twitter!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official CD Purchase Link

Dokken @ Facebook!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

RJ & The Assignment @ Twitter!

RJ & The Assignment @ Facebook!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Glacier Veins @ Facebook

Glacier Veins 'Driveway' (Official Music Video)

Glacier Veins Merch Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Elgeti Quartet @ Facebook

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gloria Reuben @ Facebook

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Escape'
Artist - Adam Hawley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Time CD 1: 75.50

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

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

Total Time CD2: 74.58

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

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

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

Official CD Purchase Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon CD Purchase Link