Title - '20/20'
Artist - The Walk-A-Bout
For those not in the know, Aussie-American acoustically driven rock ‘n’ roll quintet The Walk-A-Bout hail from the artistic East End of Long Island, New York.
On the back of their well-received 2018 release, Things Are Looking Up, The Walk-A-Bout (Darren “Sully” Sullivan, Kevin Anderson, Drew Bertran, and Dave Christian), and who are also joined here by bass player Keenan Zach for the writing and recording, will soon be releasing their brand new album, 20/20 come June 5th, 2020.
Featuring ten wondrous new tracks that lovingly embrace such different musical styles as funk, rock, world, latin, folk, prog and even a dash of psychedelia, whilst maintaining a pop sensibility within each song structure, the album was produced by Andrew Michael Bertrand and mastered by Roger Lian.
1. 'Victory Parade'
2. 'Date Nut Porridge'
3. 'Tale Of The Vibe Rider'
5. 'I Am'
6. 'Get Me To The Station'
7. 'Dark Roads'
9. 'Trash Talkin'
10. 'Taking It West'
This visceral, emotional, fun, and socially conscious new collection kicks things off nicely with the first single released, the mid-tempo, guitar funk of 'Victory Parade,' and backs that up with en masse of multi-genre cavorts, all seamlessly enriched with a manifold of musical styles.
As noted, the lyrical subject matter is just as varied as the musical stylings, moving from such ideas as social consciousness, introspection, love/infatuation, triumph exploratory notions, to even the lyrical sounds of the native Australian instrument the didgeridoo.
Indeed, this is a record written by the band for the people. There is quite literally something on this album for everyone.
Another extremely noteworthy factor is the sound. The album was solely on 2 inch analog tape, which gives it a strong sense of harmonic unity amongst all of the instruments.
This wonderful fidelity truly displays the strong continuity between each song, thus making for a most enjoyable listen.
In closing, this sonic journey is The Walk-A-Bout! Am honest album of profound art rock and a release destined to be a classic, as they say.
Official Pre-Order Purchase Links
Title - 'Secrets Are The Best Stories'
Artist - Kurt Elling
For those not in the know, Secrets Are The Best Stories (released April 3rd, 2020) is the new album from acclaimed vocalist and Grammy-winning artist Kurt Elling.
Featuring renowned pianist Danilo Pérez, and released on the British label, Edition Records, this cohesively vibrant and alluring new album showcases the two maestros as they enhance and lift the dual works.
Ergo, this wondrous collaboration not only marks a vital new musical gem between two of the greats within music, but is an album that confirms Kurt Elling as the male vocalist of his generation – one who has the presence, the message and the artistic vision to stand out from the rest.
1. 'The Fanfold Hawk (for Franz Wright)' (2.44)
2. 'A Certain Continuum' (5.06)
3. 'Stays' (5.28)
4. 'Gratitude (for Robert Bly)' (6.21)
5. 'Stage I' (5.05)
6. 'Beloved (for Toni Morrison)' (9.32)
7. 'Stages II, III' (4.26)
8. 'Song Of The Rio Grande (for Oscar and Valeria Martinez-Ramirez)' (4.56)
9. 'Rabo de Nube' (3.20)
10. 'Esperanto' (5.01)
11. 'Epílogo' (1.33)
Here, on what is now easily one of my own personal Top 5 albums of the year thus far, Elling adds evocative new lyrics to compositions by greats like Pérez’s iconic collaborator Wayne Shorter, late fusion bass genius Jaco Pastorius, and visionary composer/arranger Vince Mendoza, and to pieces from Pérez’s own catalogue.
Along with his own compelling narratives, Elling adapts the works of contemporary poets Franz Wright and Robert Bly, the 19th century abolitionist poet Frances E.W. Harper and Nobel-winning author Toni Morrison.
Opening with the dulcet majesty of 'The Fanfold Hawk (For Franz Wright),' they back that up seamlessly with the beautiful percussion of 'A Certain Continuum,' the late night jazz club feel of 'Stays,' and then both the evoking 'Gratitude (For Robert Bly)' and the stoic recalling of 'Stage I.'
Next up is the truly beautiful 'Beloved (For Toni Morrison)' (complete with a super lush sax solo), which is followed by 'Stages II, III' and the playful 'Song of the Rio Grande (For Oscar and Valeria Martinez-Ramirez).'
This quite magnificent album then rounds out with the Spanish-sung 'Rabo de Nube,' the gentle hipsway of 'Esperanto,' and then rounds out with the short piano work of 'Epílogo.'
To help them amplify this musical outcry, Elling and Pérez gather together a remarkable ensemble. The core of the band is formed by the singer’s longtime bassist Clark Sommers, in-demand drummer Johnathan Blake and Brazilian percussion master Rogerio Boccato.
They’re joined by a retinue of stellar special guests, including alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, guitarist Chico Pinheiro, and Román Díaz, a revered elder statesman of Cuban percussion.
Kurt Elling: Voice
Danilo Pérez: Piano, Rhodes
Clark Sommers: Bass
Johnathan Blake: Drums
Rogerio Boccato: Percussion
Román Díaz: Percussion (Track 2)
Miguel Zenón: Alto Saxophone
Chico Pinheiro: Guitar
Amazon CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Siren Songs'
Artist - Siren Songs
For those not in the know, Siren Songs is the brand-new musical collaboration between Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels and they have just released their very first album, the eponymous Siren Songs, on May 29th, 2020.
Featuring powerhouse vocalists, musicians, and national touring artists, the longtime best friends showcase gorgeous harmonies and unique arrangements performed on a variety of stringed instruments (banjo, dulcimer, viola) here on the quite breathtaking Siren Songs.
1. 'Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon'
5. 'Chelsea Morning'
7. 'Angel From Montgomery'
8. 'For Good'
9. 'Time After Time'
The album opens with the lush, ornate American beauty of 'Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon' which they back seamlessly with a banjo-inspired cover of Dolly Parton’s classic 'Jolene.' [The song was selected by Parton herself and Netflix as their favorite rendition during the #JoleneChallenge].
That's followed by the well known lullaby for a white flower found high in the Austrian Alps, and which was also the inspiration for the Waltz, a wonderfully gentle, dulcet rendition of 'Edelweiss.'
The balladeering harmonies of the acoustic guitar-led '100' is one of my own personal favorites here, and then the tempo is stoked up for the foot-tappin' Joni Mitchell track 'Chelsea Morning.'
Next comes the affable elegance of the alluring 'Gray,' another banjo-inspired rendition, this time of John Prine's 'Angel From Montgomery,' and then this delightfully perfect album rounds out with a delicate rendition of 'For Good' (from 'Wicked'), and then a stirringly ambient cover of the timeless Cyndi Lauper ballad, 'Time After Time' closes the album.
Featuring a mix of both original songs written by Grinels ('Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon,' '100,' and 'Gray'), as well as a selection of folk and Americana favorites, Siren Songs is already one of my Top 10 albums of 2020!
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Title - 'The Trojan Albums Collection' [2CD]
Artist - Prince Far I
For those not in the know, by the time Michael Williams aka the late Prince Far I (sadly, he was murdered the September 15th, 1983) became established as a recording artist in the mid-Seventies, he was in fact already a veteran of the Jamaican music scene, having begun deejaying early the previous decade.
His deep, slow and deliberate delivery, allied to his consistently hard-hitting commentaries proved popular with reggae fans around the world, most notably in the UK, where his work strongly resonated with the punk generation.
In 1979, Far I signed with Trojan Records, cutting a quartet of vocal albums for the company over a four-year period, but in September 1983, soon after the release of his “Musical History” LP, he was senselessly murdered while visiting a friend in Portmore, Jamaica.
This brand new 2CD set entitled The Trojan Albums Collection (releasing May 15th, 2020 via Cherry Red Records UK) brings together the entirety of the influential DJ’s vocal recordings for Trojan, which is today widely regarded to be his finest work.
CD 1: From Sin
1. 'Free from Sin'
2. 'When Jah Ready You Got to Move'
3. 'Call on I in Trouble'
4. 'Don't Deal with Folly'
5. 'Light of Fire'
6. 'Reggae Music'
7. 'Go Home on the Morning Train'
9. 'I and I Are the Chosen One'
CD 1: Jamaican Heroes
10. 'Deck of Life'
11. 'The Vision'
12. 'Natty Champion'
13. 'Read a Chapter'
14. 'Golden Throne'
15. 'Jamaican Heroes'
16. 'Prison Discipline'
17. 'Musical History'
18. 'Jah Will Provide'
19. 'David' [Bonus Track]
Featuring three of the original albums that are now making their CD debut, one of the most iconic and influential Jamaican artists of all time kicks things off with the Free Of Sin (1979) album, and in particular, the natty dread of the title track backed by the one-two hipsway of 'When Jah Ready You Got to Move' and 'Call on I in Trouble.'
Produced by Prince Far I and engineered by Sylvan Morris and Errol Brown, next up is the drum-led 'Don't Deal with Folly' which is followed by the rhythmic beauty of both 'Light of Fire' and 'Reggae Music.'
This particular album then rounds out with the dutiful 'Go Home on the Morning Train' (recorded for "the King"), 'Siren,' and then comes to a close on the storytelling of 'I and I Are the Chosen One.'
Next up on the first disc is the Jamaican Heroes (1980) album, which opens with the reverberating 'Deck of Life' and backs that up seamlessly with both the measured vibe of 'The Vision,' and the natty dread, boxing-inspired 'Natty Champion.'
'Read a Chapter' is then followed by the slo-mo fuzz of 'Golden Throne,' the upbeat effervescence of the title track, and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the foot-tappin' reggae elegance of 'Prison Discipline.'
This tremendously melodic and highly empowered album (whose featured musicians included Roots Radics and The Flying Lizards) then rounds out with the uptempo 'Musical History,' the low-slung 'Jah Will Provide,' and closes on a bonus track that Prince Far I actually himself calls 'Dub Do Africa,' but on this new CD is entitled 'David.'
CD 2: Voice Of Thunder
1. 'Ten Commandments'
2. 'Tribute to Bob Marley'
3. 'Hold the Fort'
4. 'Every Time I Hear the Word'
5. 'Head of the Buccaneer'
6. 'Shall Not Dwell in Wickedness'
7. 'Give I Strength'
8. 'Kingdom of God'
9. 'Coming in from the Rock'
CD 2: Musical History
11. 'Everytime I Talk About Jah'
12. 'Prince Far I Come Again'
13. 'Tell Them About Jah Love'
14. 'More We Are Together'
15. 'At the Cross'
16. 'Working for My Saviour'
17. 'I Don't Know Why I Love Jah So'
18. 'What You Gonna Do on Judgement Day'
19. 'Take Heed Frontline'
The second disc opens with his brilliant Voice Of Thunder (1981) album, and notably the biblical reggae of 'Ten Commandments' which is smoothly backed by both the magnificent 'Tribute to Bob Marley' and then the melodic twinkling of 'Hold the Fort.'
Next up is the atmospheric 'Every Time I Hear the Word,' the rhymical hipsway of 'Head of the Buccaneer' and the dancefloor track 'Shall Not Dwell in Wickedness,' with another stand out being the horn-inspired 'Give I Strength' following.
This album then rounds out with reverberation of 'Kingdom of God,' the guitar-led 'Coming in from the Rock,' and closes on the majestically lo-fi 'Skinhead.'
The second album on the second disc (which was also released the year of his death) is Musical History (1983), which opens with the bounce-an-sway of both 'Everytime I Talk About Jah' and 'Prince Far I Come Again,' the storytelling of 'Tell Them About Jah Love,' and then the low brow reggae of both 'More We Are Together' and 'At the Cross.'
Then we get another passionate track in the form of the earnest 'Working for My Saviour,' more Prince Far I storytelling within 'I Don't Know Why I Love Jah So,' with the album rounding out on the gentle bounce of 'What You Gonna Do on Judgement Day,' and then coming to a close on the sermon known as 'Take Heed Frontline.'
Official 2CD Purchase Link
Title - 'More Trouble' [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Marvin Gaye
For those not in the know, More Trouble is a collection of bonus tracks and alternate takes from Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man sessions, and taken from the Trouble Man: 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition.
Released on April 3rd, 2020 (via Motown Select / UMe), and all now on vinyl for the very first time, the soundtrack to the 1972 Ivan Dixon-directed film of the same name, Trouble Man was the first album to be written and produced solely by Gaye.
This wondrous 9-track More Trouble (released as a delightful gatefold jacket that, in keeping with albums theme, is an alternate to the iconic one on the original soundtrack) collects tracks from Trouble Man’s recording sessions, including an unedited version of ‘“T” Plays It Cool’ and an extended version of the titular song.
1. 'Main Theme From Trouble Man' (2) (Alternate Take With Strings)
2. '“T” Plays It Cool' (Unedited)
3. 'Poor Abbey Walsh, Part 2' (Take 1)
4. 'Trouble Man' (Extended Version)
5. 'Theme From Trouble Man' (Vocal Version)
1. 'Main Theme From Trouble Man' (Vocal Version)
2. '“T” Stands For Trouble' (Unedited Vocal Version)
3. '“T” Stands For Trouble' (Alternate Version)
4. 'Trouble Man – Trouble Man Original Score'
Side A (of this luscious, absolutely magnificent new vinyl release) opens with a gently moderated, yet fervently impatient wailing guitar, which bleeds into the two and a half minute piano, saxophone and drum masterpiece 'Main Theme From Trouble Man' (2) (here as an alternate version with orchestrated strings added), and that's backed by the longer, sterner, drum-led backbeat of the much-sampled '“T” Plays It Cool' (Unedited).
The sumptuous, saxophone-driven 'Poor Abbey Walsh, Part 2' (Take 1) is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold, and is backed by a rousing, and extended version of the title track, with the first side coming to a close with some oh-so sweet horn play that simply melts the soul on the two minute vocal version of 'Theme From Trouble Man' (which was featured in the film’s opening sequence, but not on the soundtrack).
Side B pretty much gives us more of the same, which ain't no bad thing, kicking things off with a vocalized version of 'Main Theme From Trouble Man' before unveiling two versions of '“T” Stands For Trouble' (an unedited, and very rare vocal, and an alternate version).
Culminating the musical experience with a quite magnificent 'Trouble Man – Trouble Man Original Score' (which showcased Gaye's trademark duet of high and low vocals), much like the original soundtrack album, each and every track here is as smooth as silk to the ears.
It's that classic Motown sound from Marvin Gaye, when songwriters had something to say and sang their own songs. For me, not only was Trouble Man one of the more underrated, overlooked and understated soundtracks of the '70s, but it most assuredly captures the great man at his musical peak.
While 1971's What's Going On and 1973's Let's Get It On are regularly acknowledged as Soul masterpieces (let alone name-checked by everyone who is anyone in love with music that genuinely touches you), real Marvin Gaye devotees have always had a rush of blood to the head at the mere sight of 1972's Trouble Man (which Gaye himself rated as some of his best work).
These 1972 outtakes, and which have been stunningly remastered by UMe for vinyl, are the newest celebration of Gaye’s unrivalled legacy and a further illustration of a significant chapter in his discography.
Indeed, all the tracks have been mixed in high resolution audio from Motown’s original 16-track session reels by the famed John Morales, and remastered by Alex Abrash at AA Mastering.
The title track from Trouble Man was one of the album’s few vocal cuts. It became a #7 hit on Billboard‘s Hot 100 in January 1973, reaching #4 on the R&B chart.
The vinyl More Trouble echoes the design of the original album, with an alternative image of Gaye on the gatefold cover.
Additional photography includes scans of the original session tape boxes.
There are also new liner notes by musicologist Dr. Andrew Flory, who wrote the essay for the Trouble Man: 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition gatefold jacket.
A gifted, visionary talent, Gaye tragically died April 1st, 1984, just one day before his 45th birthday. Three years later, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
With More Trouble as proof, Gaye continues to hold his place as one of the greatest singers, composers and producers of all time.
Official 'More Trouble' [Vinyl LP] Purchase Links
Title - 'Once Bitten Acoustic Bytes'
Artist - Jack Russell's Great White
For those not up to date with the goings on of this band, vocalist and co-founder of legendary ‘80s hard rock group Great White, Jack Russell, has just released his brand new, and very special acoustic album, Once bitten Acoustic Bytes (out now via Cleopatra Records).
Revisiting the band’s 1987 multi-platinum masterpiece Once Bitten it features some of their biggest and most recognizable GW hits, such as 'Save Your Love' and 'Rock Me.'
Aided by the likes of guitarist Robby Lochner (who also produced and mixed the album), longtime Great White bassist Tony Montana (now on guitar), bassist Dan McNay and drummer Dicki Fliszer, these songs have been stripped to their emotional core, spotlighting the intensely passionate story at the heart of each song.
1. 'Lady Redlight'
2. 'Gonna Getcha'
3. 'Rock Me'
4. 'All Over Now'
6. 'Never Change Heart'
7. 'Fast Road'
9. 'Save Your Love'
10. 'Babe (I'm Gonna Leave You)'
This quite magnificent, and highly enlightening new album opens with the drum and guitar-led, mid-tempo 'Lady Redlight' (a track that veritably still begs to be unleashed at full pelt!), and backs that up with the early AC/DC-esque 'Gonna Getcha,' and then a rather wondrous lo-fi version of 'Rock Me.'
The upbeat 'All Over Now' is the followed by lowdown rockin' blues of 'Mistreater' (which features some fine, skedaddling fret work from Montana), and that's followed by the mid-tempo 'Never Change Heart.'
Fliszer comes to the fore on the speeding train approach to his acoustic drum rhythm that drives 'Fast Road,' and that's backed by the resoundingly brilliant 'Livin' On The Edge.'
This inventive, and empowering new acoustic album then rounds out with their unforgettable ballad 'Save Your Love,' which is now embodied with an impassioned hymn-like yearning, with the album coming to a close on the heartfelt 'Babe (I'm Gonna Leave You).
Jack Russell explains “Once Bitten is one of my favorite albums that we did. I always wondered what it would sound like done acoustically."
"The experience recording this unplugged version was really neat. It brought back a lot of memories of the original recording session, things I had forgotten about."
"Interestingly, the songs that I thought wouldn’t translate acoustically like ‘Livin’ On The Edge’ and ‘Never Change Heart,’ the heavier songs, came out the best."
"Now, I’m looking forward to doing it again for Twice Shy!”
Once Bitten Acoustic Bytes will be available everywhere starting May 1st, 2020 on digital as well as CD and a limited edition BLUE vinyl LP from Deadline Music, a division of Cleopatra Records, Inc.
Official Purchase Links
Title - 'Have A Good Time But ... Get Out Alive!'
Artist - Iron City Houserockers
For those not in the know, Love's So Tough, the 1979 debut from the Iron City Houserockers, established the Pittsburgh-bred group on a national level, garnering important recognition, most notably from legendary journalist Greil Marcus (Rolling Stone).
The band had created a unique sounding blend of blue collar rock informed by their influences which included a deep love of Chicago blues, early rock and roll and old school soul, all mixed together with dollops of the then-current sounds of punk and new wave added in.
Their second album, 1980's Have A Good Time (But Get Out Alive), found them recording in New York City with an incredible supporting cast.
Cleveland International's Steve Popovich and Marty Mooney tapped Mick Ronson (David Bowie) to co-produce the sessions, with additional input coming from Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) and Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny)."We were a particularly effective concert band at the time We just wanted to kick your ass and tear the place down."
"That's the attitude we had and then you had these guys that joined us who had much more experience recording," he further explains. "They brought a little bit of sophistication to the whole process. You have the English guys and then you had the New Jersey guys and then you has us from Pittsburgh and on paper, it never should have worked. But somehow it did. Everything just fell into place."
Cleveland International Records is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Have A Good Time ... But Get Out Alive! with a new expanded reissue that is available on both CD and Vinyl (bonus tracks available via a download card).
Grushecky worked with his son, Johnny (who also plays guitar in the current version of the band) and his sound engineer, Brian Coleman, to compile a second disc with an additional 16 tracks, all previously unreleased.
It features more than an hour's worth of demos and rarities, including alternate takes and in some cases, songs that didn't make the final running order of the original album, adding an intriguing chapter to the existing legend of the record."We always went into a local studio in Pittsburgh and I would write songs," Grushecky continues. "Some of the guys would bring in some ideas and we would demo everything,"
"Most of the demos, when we were recording them, we weren't setting out to make a final product. So a lot of this stuff is just first and second takes to see what the song sounded like."
Going through reel-to-reel tapes and even some cassettes that had been in boxes for decades, Grushecky found he had an abundance of material.
"At first, I thought we were just going to include a couple of extra tracks on this reissue. Then I started finding all of these different things and I started to get excited about it," he says. "You know, to some people, I'm sure it would be like a great lost Iron City Houserockers record."
1. 'Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive)'
2. 'Don't Let Them Push You Around'
3. 'Pumping Iron'
5. 'Price of Love'
7. 'We're Not Dead Yet'
9. 'Old Man Bar'
10. 'Junior's Bar'
11. 'Runnin' Scared'
12. 'Rock Ola'
Featuring a vibrantly magnificent 12 tracks, this completely rockin' collection from one of the most wholly underrated bands of the day, still stands loud and proud today, trust me!
Featuring some great vocals and lyrics from Joe Gruschecky, the guys open with the drum and guitar-led title track with the harmonica-driven 'Don't Let Them Push You Around' along next.
The one-two guitar bounce of 'Pumping Iron' is then backed by the subtle piano lead into the mid-tempo wonderment of 'Hypnotized,' before the free flowing, high flying majesty of 'Price of Love' is brought forth.
The temperature is turned back up for the Springsteen-esque 'Angela' which is followed by the melodic piano and drum core of 'We're Not Dead Yet.'
This pulsating album continues onward with their salute to Debbie Harry on the fast-paced 'Blondie, the gentle guitar and accordion-driven 'Old Man Bar' (featuring Gil Snyder), and then the Springsteen brand of guitar rock returns for 'Junior's Bar.'
The album then rounds out with the rockin' blues of 'Runnin' Scared' with the low key storytelling of 'Rock Ola' bringing the album to a close.
1. 'Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive)' [Demo]
2. 'Don't Let Them Push You Around' [Demo]
3. 'Pumping Iron' [Demo]
4. 'Don't Stop The Music' [Demo]
5. 'Angela' [Demo]
6. 'Price Of Love' [Demo]
7. 'Hold Out' [Demo]
8. 'Rock Ola' [Demo]
9. 'Struggle & Die' [Demo]
10. 'Rock Ola' [Extended]
12. 'Runnin' Scared'
13. 'Runnin' Scared' #2'
14. 'Hypnotized' (A Work In Progress)
15. 'Rooster Blues'
16. 'Do Wah Diddy'
This most perfect missing link between Springsteen's E Street Band and Petty's Heartbreakers continues bringing the good stuff here on this second disc of musical gems.
First up are lower key demos of 'Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive),' 'Don't Let Them Push You Around' and 'Pumping Iron,' before we get 'Don't Stop The Music,' a totally rockin' blues cut, complete with harmonica backbeat.
Next up are more tentative demos, such as the second take of 'Angela' and 'Price Of Love,' which are backed by both the foot-tappin' 'Hold Out' and a demo of 'Rock Ola.'
The gradual build of musicianship and storytelling of 'Struggle & Die' makes this one of my own personal favorites of these outtakes, and that's followed by an extended version of 'Rock Ola.'
We then get a fervent 'Charlena/Blondie' blend, which is backed by two versions of 'Runnin' Scared,' a chitty-chatty 'Hypnotized' (A Work In Progress) jam, before this second disc closes on the harmonica and guitar brilliance of the Lightnin' Slim track 'Rooster Blues' (which sounds like 9 Below Zero had entered the building), and then an accelerated The Exciters cut (although it was made famous by Manfred Mann), 'Do Wah Diddy'
Amazon CD/Vinyl Purchase Links
Title - 'Stories To Live Up To'
Artist - Harvey Dalton Arnold
For those not in the know, Harvey Dalton Arnold is a singer, guitarist and North Carolina-native who has a passion for the blues.
He sold millions of albums as a member of southern-rock band The Outlaws from 1976-80 and has, amongst oh-so many others around the world, played at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall.
Harvey performs a left-handed finger-picking style coupled with slide playing on electric and acoustic guitars and over the years has received much acclaim for founding and performing with The Harvey Dalton Arnold Blues Band.
Arnolds’s first solo release was the 2013 blues album Outlaw, but here on his sophomore effort, Stories To Live Up To (out now via Music Maker Recordings), the talented musician brings forth a collection of songs and stories that showcase his writing and influences to perfection.
1. 'Stay Here with Me'
2. 'Early Bird'
3. 'What's On Your Mind'
4. 'Poor Boy'
5. 'When The Sun Goes Down'
6. 'Lone Outlaw'
7. 'Gotta See Ya'
8. 'Put Me BaCK'
9. 'Catfish Blues'
The original southern rocker opens his new set (of which six out of the nine vocals were done live) with the upbeat R&B slide of 'Stay Here with Me,' and then backs that up with the guitar-led rocker 'Early Bird,' the down south, slow poke, open G slide guitar work of 'What’s on Your Mind,' and then comes the mid-tempo storytelling ballad 'Poor Boy.'
The dirty blues of 'When the Sun Goes Down' is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold and that's followed by a chance for Arnold's vocal expertise to come to the fore on the rural ode to founding Outlaws member Hughie Thomasson, 'Lone Outlaw.'
The album - which features both bass player Zev Katz, and drummer Charlie Drayton – then rounds out with the old school rockin' of 'Gotta See Ya,' the Johnny Winter-influenced, rock guitar bounce of 'Put Me Back,' before coming to a close on the free flowing rawness of 'Catfish Blues.'
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Title - 'XX'
Artist - Brian Culbertson
Instead of being on stage in Pittsburgh, one week into a planned 70+ date coast-to-coast concert tour set up to launch his milestone twentieth album release, the aptly titled XX (Roman numerals for twenty), R&B/jazz/funk multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson was at home, marking the occasion by hanging out with a glass of wine and entertaining fans via his popular Facebook Live broadcast!
While The XX Tour that was to start April 1st with shows booked through June had to be pushed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the new album’s retro-charged first single, 'Get Up!' (featuring Mr. Talkbox & Marcus Anderson) entered Billboard at #6, and soon after produced the hitmaker’s 33rd #1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Charts.
1. 'Get Up!'
2. 'Dance Like This'
3. 'The Hangout'
4. 'Prelude To More Thank Thankful'
5. 'More Than Thankful'
6. 'It's A Love Thing'
7. 'Time Flies'
8. 'Sexy Love'
9. 'Keep Movin'
10. 'The Truth'
11. 'Intro To Looking Back'
12. 'Looking Back'
As aforementioned, Culbertson opens with the uptempo, slap bass, old school funky groove of 'Get Up!' and backs that up with the late-'70s dancefloor slide of 'Dance Like This' (featuring Bootsy Collins), the the near-seven minute mid-tempo, horn-fluent masterpiece 'The Hangout' (featuring Ray Parker Jr., albeit not in a vocal capacity), and then we get a quick, dulcet prelude moment before the free flowing R&B of 'More Thank Thankful' (featuring Avery*Sunshine aka Denise Nicole White) comes forth.
With Culbertson having written and produced XX, it's obvious listening to it that he has taken a fresh approach to his writing process, in that he has incorporated a little bit of everything from his expansive career to bring forth 12 tracks that enable your mind, body and soul to simply soar; no matter what may currently be weighing you down.
All those previously upbeat and ultra funky grooves get tempered for the luscious, streamlined piano melodies found within 'It's A Love Thing,' the finger-snappin' suppleness of 'Time Flies,' and then 'Sexy Love' (featuring guitar work from Maze’s Jubu Smith), with Everette Harp's saxophone attributes coming to the fore on the pop-jazz bounce of 'Keep Movin.'
This quite magnificent album then rounds out with the love song 'The Truth' (featuring the soulful R&B vocals of Noel Gourdin), with the short intro to 'Looking Back' then bleeding into the full track (featuring New Orleans native Patches Stewart on trumpet) closing the album.
"This album was about creating lots of different moods, which is a little different for me in terms of what I’ve done over the last several albums that were more conceptual and consistent from beginning to end - either the romantic side of things, a funk album, straight-ahead jazz trio or what not", Culbertson explains.
"I deliberately set out to have no one genre or one style in mind; just give people a total mix of everything that I do – funky instrumentals, jazz, R&B slow jams, gospel, pop, and straight-up funk”, he continues, adding that he hopes the collection will uplift listeners during this unprecedented time of social distancing and economic uncertainty.
“The fact that it’s coming out during this time when everyone is under stay at home orders, I hope it does lift people up. That’s what music does."
"That’s the beauty of music. It makes you feel better. It takes you out of whatever place you’re in at the moment. It transports you. That’s why I love making music."
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Title - 'Music Unites'
Artist - Rocco Zifarelli
For more than 20 years Rocco Zifarelli has worked alongside the famous movie music composer Ennio Morricone, with whom he has recorded many award-winning scores (Academy Award, Golden Globe, Bafta, etc) and performed in many tours around the world.
Published 20 years after the acclaimed Lyndon (Via VenetoJazz-Universal) this brand new album Music Unites continues on the same musical concept, that concerns instrumental electric jazz and jazz-rock in general, with 10 tracks describing a series of experiences of musical life in Rome, New York and especially in Paris.
1. 'Northern Line' (7:47)
2. 'Aural' (6:02)
3. 'Le Clan Des Siciliens' (6;11)
4. 'The Untouchables' (4:59)
5. 'Ballad For Mr. Kromback' (4:11)
6. 'Essential Blues' (8:04)
7. 'With The Help Of God, Shine' (6:38)
8. 'Abidjan' (4:32)
9. 'Aural - reprise' (3:27)
10. 'The Untouchables - alt. take' (4:53)
For this quite magnificent musical experience, Music Unites prompted Rocco to bring together a number of great musicians with whom he had collaborated with in the past.
These included: Paco Sery (Ivory Coast) on drums, Linley Marthe (Mauritius Island) on bass; the rhythm section of Joe Zawinul Syndicate; Italian electric and acoustic bass stars Dario Deidda and Pippo Matino; Russian trumpeter Alex Sipiagin; and two DJ’s and sound designers Freddy Jay (Paris) and Yassin Africancuts (Brussels), amongst others.
Featuring a lot of musical variety, original and non-original compositions, including two revisited Morricone’s themes, Music Unites is most definitely an album that brings together people, cultures and sounds to formulate an expansive, and worldly backbeat to guide us all, in these darks times, through and out the other side.
Opening with the soaring, cultural magnificence of 'Northern Line', he backs that up seamlessly with the uber-frenetic, DJ-mastered 'Aural' and then relaxes us back into a revisiting of Morricone's very own 'Le Clan Des Siciliens.'
That's backed by another dynamic delve into Morricone's past on the now electronically sampled, and guitar heavy 'The Untouchables' which he follows with the lush Latin approach to 'Ballad for Mr. Kromback' and then the upbeat, guitar-twanging, funky brilliance of 'Essential Blues (with lyrics by Joe Bowie).
The reverberating electronics of 'With the Help of God, Shine' have quickly made this track the stand out for me personally, and that's backed by more frenetic DJ-propelled beats within 'Abidjan,' with the album rounding out on the gentle acoustic guitar work of 'Aural (Reprise),' and then closes out on the drum-led exuberance of 'The Untouchables (Alternative Take).'
Says Rocco, “This record is the story of my musical and private life, through the ten tracks, like the chapters of an autobiographical book."
"It’s also a journey, a long journey in all senses, was conceived from the point of view of the compositional ideas many years ago, shortly after the release of my first and only album Lyndon, but had a very long gestation, due to many factors both external and personal, changes of human and artistic life mainly influenced by the massive events that have affected the whole world in the last twenty years."
"During this time I traveled a lot, for tours and concerts, and lived in some world great musical cities. Especially my three years in Paris, after joining the Defunkt, where I met many African artists who were able to express depths of their native cultures."
"Even now Paris absorbs these important influences and, in musical terms, trains generations of extraordinary esteemed all over the world. All that already happened in New York since forever, but not with African born artists, really hard to arrive in the US."
"It is not a coincidence that Joe Zawinul has taken so many musicians of the last Syndicate in Paris, even if they were not originally from France.”
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Title - 'Strings for Peace: Premieres For Guitar & Sarod'
Artist - Amjad Khan, Sharon Isnin, Amaan & Ayaan Bangash
On this groundbreaking ZOHO release, Strings for Peace: Premieres For Guitar & Sarod (out May 22nd, 2020 via ZOHO Music), multiple Grammy winner, guitarist Sharon Isbin explores the richness of North Indian classical music with Ustad (maestro) Amjad Ali Khan, representing the sixth generation of sarod masters.
Khan has also been guru to his two amazingly talented sons, Amaan Ali and Ayaan Ali Bangash also featured on this recording, in four ragas arranged for Sharon Isbin.
1. 'By The Moon' - raga behag' (13:26)
2. 'Love Avalanche - raga mishra bhairav' (3:57)
3. 'Romancing Earth - raga pilu' (16:38)
4. 'Sacred Evening - raga yaman' (16:36)
For those not in the know, a raga (or raag) is a melodic framework for improvisation akin to a melodic mode in Indian classical music and so this quite magnificent musical experience opens with the first of the new quartet, the transcendent celestial opus 'By The Moon' - raga behag' which is seamlessly backed by the shorter, upbeat, tabla-backed fare of 'Love Avalanche - raga mishra bhairav.
Next we get a scenically beautiful 30 minutes of music in the form of two pieces: the folksy resonance of 'Romancing Earth - raga pilu' which is backed by the modulating flourishes of 'Sacred Evening - raga yaman.'
In recent years father and sons have turned their attention more and more towards collaborations with musicians from other great traditions, especially Western classical music, seeking ways in which their Indian music finds resonances and parallels in other music; so that the Western musicians concerned can find a way into Indian music without the years of formal training expected of an Indian.
An obvious connection featured in this album is that the sarod and guitar are both leading plucked stringed instruments of their respective traditions.
The sarod does not have frets, and this enables it better to replicate the essential slides and other embellishments demanded of raga performance.
Thus it requires a guitarist of the caliber of Sharon Isbin to interact with no fewer than three sarod masters. In the words of Amjad Ali Khan himself, "each of the artists brings the spirit of sharing the great unique treasures of their own artistic traditions, as well as finding common ground in ragas and medieval modes."
"The idea is to achieve a cross-fertilization at both the cellular and cosmic levels of two classical music traditions, which are often held to be radically different."
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Title - 'Affinity'
Artist - Sharon Isbin
Acclaimed for her extraordinary lyricism, technique and versatility, multiple GRAMMY-Award winner Sharon Isbin was named the 2020 Musical America Worldwide Instrumentalist of the Year; the first guitarist ever to receive the coveted honor in its 59 year award history.
Isbin has appeared as soloist with over 200 orchestras and has given sold-out performances in many of the world’s finest halls, including New York’s Carnegie and Geffen Halls, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, et al.
Isbin’s catalogue of over 30 albums from Baroque, Spanish/Latin and 20th Century to crossover and jazz-fusion, has sold nearly a million copies and reflects her remarkable versatility.
Her two latest releases in May 2020 of world premiere recordings of music composed for her are Strings for Peace, with India’s legendary Amjad Ali Khan in a program of ragas for guitar, sarod and tabla, and this one here, Affinity (featuring Chris Brubeck’s acclaimed concerto for guitar and orchestra).
1. 'Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra' (16:08)
2. 'El arpa del guerrero' (4:04)
3. 'La huida de los amantes por el valle de los ecos' (4:09)
4. 'Balada de la doncella enamorada' (5:52)
5. 'Waltz No. 3 Natalia' (feat. Colin Davin) (2:59)
6. 'Seven Desires for Guitar' (10:56)
7. 'Listen ...' (3:48)
8. 'This Night of Love ...' (2:18)
9. 'Your Beauty ...' (4:55)
On this historic ZOHO release, Isbin performs multi-faceted and virtuosic new works for guitar, written for her by four leading composers.
From the Africa-influenced El Decameron Negro by iconic Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer, through the Chinese and Spanish influenced Seven Desires by Tan Dun, to Richard Danielpour's song cycle Of Love and Longing and the jazz and world music-influenced Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra by Chris Brubeck, Isbin gives her inimitable imprint to, and vastly enriches major new repertoire for guitar.
This beautiful, simply divine new album opens with the perky, playful 'Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra' and backs that up with the dulcet guitar work of 'El arpa del guerrero,' the cautious 'La huida de los amantes por el valle de los ecos,' and then the third of the El Decameron Negroes, the tender 'Balada de la doncella enamorada.'
The whirlingly stupendous majesty of 'Waltz No. 3 Natalia' (feat. Colin Davin) is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold and is followed by the sterner, more pronounced tenures of 'Seven Desires for Guitar' (featuring work by classical composer and pianist, Tan Dun).
An operatic trilogy Of Love and Longing rounds out the album, with the first being the expansive 'Listen ...' which is followed by the shorter, Spanish-guitar inspired 'This Night of Love ...', with the mood evoking 'Your Beauty ...' bringing the album to a close.
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Title - 'Live at the Paramount'
Artist - Ruthie Foster Big Band
On January 26th, 2019, the Ruthie Foster Big Band took the stage at the historic Paramount Theater in Austin, TX to perform a set of live big band era tracks that would make up her new album.
Featuring arrangements by Miles Davis alum John Beasley and bandleader John Miller, Ruthie Foster’s latest album Live at the Paramount evokes Sinatra, Ellington, Ella and other swing-era greats on collection of favorite originals and dynamic covers.
2. 'Brand New Day'
3. 'Might Not Be Right'
4. 'Ring Of Fire'
5. 'Stone Love'
6. 'The Ghetto'
7. 'Death Came A Knockin' (Travelin' Shoes)'
8. 'Singin' The Blues'
9. 'Runaway Soul'
10 .'Woke Up This Morning'
11. 'Joy Comes Back'
12. 'Phenomenal Woman'
13. 'Fly Me To The Moon'
14. 'Mack The Knife'
The album opens with Ruthie's daughter Mai, who then herself, and to rapturous applause, introduces her own mother to the packed house.
That leads us neatly into the one-two punch of 'Brand New Day,' which is followed by both the mid-tempo love song 'Might Not Be Right' (written with the great William Bell) and then a beautiful, laid back cover of Johnny Cash's infamous 'Ring Of Fire.'
Next up is Foster playing testimony via the uproarious 'Stone Love,' with that being backed by the lo-fi ballad 'The Ghetto,' the hip shakin' magnificence of 'Death Came A Knockin' (Travelin' Shoes),' and then the foot tappin' vibes of the mid-tempo 'Singin' The Blues.'
Backed by a guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, drummer, ten horn players, vocalists, and conductor, the upbeat 'Runaway Soul' is a joy to behold and is backed by the soulful R&B of 'Woke Up This Morning' and then the joyous New Orleans hipsway of 'Joy Comes Back.'
This delightfully vibrant live album then rounds out with the sung poem by Maya Angelou, 'Phenomenal Woman,' a cover of Frank Sinatra's 'Fly Me To The Moon,' with another cover in the form of the Bobby Darin-made famous hit from 1959 (although her dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald), the finger-snappin' excellence of 'Mack The Knife.'
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Title - 'We Still Go To Rodeos'
Artist - Whitney Rose
For those not in the know, Austin, Texas based recording artist Whitney Rose has just released her fifth studio recording, We Still Go to Rodeos this past April 24th, 2020.
Rose is an award winning internationally lauded and critically acclaimed vocalist and songwriter whose music bends genres and transcends international boundaries.
Furthermore, Rose has been covered in major outlets like The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Fader, UPROXX and international outlets like Fashion Magazine, Glamour, and Esquire.
In 2016 Rose won the ECMA Award for Country Album of the Year and in 2019 she won Honky Tonk Female of the Year at The Ameripolitan Awards.
She has also performed on stages or recorded with artists such as The Mavericks, Raul Malo, Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart, Jason Isbell, Redd Volkaert, Earle Poole Ball, The Proclaimers, Reverend Horton Heat, Midland, and many more.
Her new album, We Still Go To Rodeos (whose cover art always reminds me of Bobby Charles' self-titled 1972 album cover) features twelve original Whitney Rose recordings and was produced by Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Hole, The Pixies, Uncle Tupelo, Lou Reed).
1. 'Just Circumstance'
2. 'Home With You'
3. 'Believe Me, Angels'
4. 'In A Rut'
5. 'A Hundred Shades Of Blue'
6. 'I'd Rather Be Alone'
7. 'You'd Blame Me For The Rain'
8. 'Fell Through The Cracks'
9. 'Don't Give Up On Me'
10. 'Better Man'
11. 'Thanks For Trying'
12. 'We Still Go To Rodeos'
On Rose’s first record away from the Canadian-based Six Shooter Records, and on her own label MCG, the album opens with the upbeat, jangling guitar storytelling of 'Just Circumstance,' which she backs up seamlessly with both the mid-tempo 'Home With You' and the pedal steel-driven 'Believe Me, Angels.'
As all fans of hers will have themselves noted even just three songs in, where Rose's previous album had delved more into '60s vibes, here We Still Go To Rodeos focuses more on the use of '80s and early '90s soundscapes.
Perhaps none more so than both the lo-fi punk of 'In A Rut' and the lusciously divine, softly psych flow of 'A Hundred Shades Of Blue.'
They are then backed by the melodic 'I'd Rather Be Alone,' the foot-tappin' 'You'd Blame Me For The Rain,' and both the yearning of 'Fell Through The Cracks' and the light, breezy acoustic work of 'Don't Give Up On Me.'
Rose's rock 'tude comes back for the upbeat 'Better Man,' which is backed by the reaching, emphatic arc of 'Thanks For Trying,' before the album comes to a close on the lonesome, harmonica-driven country title track, 'We Still Go To Rodeos.'
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Title - 'Songs I Can't Live Without'
Artist - Marshall Chapman
For those not in the know, Marshall Chapman is an American singer-songwriter-author who was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
To date she has released thirteen critically acclaimed albums, with her 2013 release, Blaze of Glory, having been hailed as a masterpiece.
Chapman's fourteenth album, Songs I Can’t Live Without was just released this past May 15th, 2020 (her eighth on TallGirl Records) and is an album of classics that had always been on Chapman’s bucket list to record.
"The songs I write have always been so personal,” Chapman says. “I needed a break. I was getting tired of living myself into a corner, just so I could write myself out.”
1. 'Tower Of Song'
2. 'Turn The Page'
3. 'I Fall In Love Too Easily'
4. 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow'
5. 'I Still Miss Someone'
6. 'Don't Be Cruel'
7. 'Tennessee Blues'
8. 'After Midnight'
10. 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands'
This quite breathtakingly raw, and openly honest and passionate album opens with Leonard Cohen’s gruff 'Tower Of Song,' which Chapman sings for the first time while recording it and that's backed by an earthy 'Turn The Page' (Bob Seger) and then a slow poke turn at Chet Baker's 'I Fall In Love Too Easily' is brought forth.
A breathy, fuzzy guitar vibe is given to Carole King's 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' before we get a dedicated homage to Johnny Cash on his 'I Still Miss Someone' and then a lo-fi, gently acoustic hipsway cover of Elvis Presley's 'Don't Be Cruel.'
Chapman brings a hauntingly evocative southern crawl to Bobby Charles' 1972 hit 'Tennessee Blues,' which is backed by J.J. Cale's renowned 'After Midnight,' with the album coming to a close on a truly prophetic rendering of the traditional 'He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands.'
Chapman explains, “'He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands' is the first song I remember singing as a child. I was eight years old. It was a big hit on the radio by an English singer named Laurie London. It’s one of those songs you know the minute you hear it."
"When we first tracked this album, another song was the closer. But it just didn’t seem quite right. So for days and days I thought about a replacement."
"Then it hit me that a gospel song might be the ticket. I considered 'I Shall Not Be Moved,' but then I remembered 'He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.'"
"The day we recorded this was the day of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. I was driving to the studio in East Nashville, and when I saw all the flags at half mast, I had to pull over to the side of the road."
"There I jotted down notes for the recitation that you hear at the end of this recording. I hope you enjoy this as much as we enjoyed recording it.”
Marshall Chapman is currently featured in “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s” at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville. The exhibit will run until Feb. 14th, 2021.
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Title - 'Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos'
Artist - John Stewart
For those not in the know, in a career spanning more than four decades, John Stewart swiftly progressed from his beginnings in a southern California garage band, through folk groups The Cumberland Three and The Kingston Trio, to a successful solo career.
He contributed well over 40 albums and more than 600 songs to our musical universe and thus his song catalog is not only staggering in volume, but it’s also loaded with classic compositions.
Most will know Stewart’s songwriting from 'Daydream Believer' by The Monkees (and Anne Murray) or his own Lindsey Buckingham-produced, 'Gold,' a #5 hit in 1979, but just as impressive are 'Runaway Train' from Rosanne Cash’s 1987 King’s Record Shop album, 'Sweet Dreams Will Come' on Nanci Griffith’s Little Love Affairs, or 'Mother Country' from Stewart’s own 1969 California Bloodlines album; which was used to usher the Apollo 11 spacecraft safely back to Earth after its historic journey.
Omnivore is has just released John Stewart's Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos this past May 8th, 2020 and it is an album that contains a lot of rare, and previously unreleased gems from the great songwriter.
It features four tunes found here that wound up on The Kingston Trio’s Children Of The Morning album released in 1966 with one of them, 'The Spinnin’ Of The World,' getting a second airing on 1979s hit album, Bombs Away Dream Babies; which yielded the aforementioned charting single, 'Gold, with two other songs, 'Midnight Wind' and 'Lost Her In The Sun' also making the Top 40.
Three duets with Buffy Ford Stewart foreshadow Signals Through The Glass album which the singing partners, and later husband and wife team, would release on Capitol Records in 1968.
This collection also features five tracks that would form nearly half of Stewart’s classic California Bloodlines album released in 1969. Of particular note, 'July, You’re A Woman' makes its first recorded appearance here alongside demos for 'Mother Country' and 'The Pirates Of Stone County Road.
1. 'Livin' That Way' (Demo)
2. 'When You're Been Away For A Long Time' (Demo)
3. 'Down The Highway You Go' (Demo)
4. 'Lock All The Windows' (Demo)
5. 'Rambler Get On Board' (Demo)
6. 'Shackles & Chains' (Demo)
7. 'One More Chapter Is Gone' (Demo)
8. 'Being Born Again' (Demo)
9. 'Long Life' (Demo)
10. 'Children Of The Morning' (Demo)
11. 'The Spinnin' Of The World' (Demo)
12. 'Draft Age Today' (Demo)
13. 'The Pirates of Stone County Road' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
14. 'One Tiny Grain of Sand' (Demo)
15. 'July, You're A Woman' (Demo)
16. 'Big Sur' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
17. 'Mother Country' (Demo)
18. 'She Believes In Me' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
19. 'Hey Sarrey' [1959 Bonus Demo]
Opening with the upbeat 'Livin' That Way' and the passionate embrace of 'When You're Been Away For A Long Time,' next up is the pure country of 'Down The Highway You Go' ("I know I shouldn't cry, but I've got freedom in my eyes"), and then the earnest duo of 'Lock All The Windows' and 'Rambler Get On Board.'
The gentle warbling vocals of Stewart come to the fore on the uptempo 'Shackles & Chains,' and that's followed by the storytelling of 'One More Chapter Is Gone,' the sing-along, tambourine-backed 'Being Born Again,' and then the gentle pop sounds of 'Long Life' and the lushly ornate 'Children Of The Morning.'
More vocal reverberations are showcased on 'The Spinnin' Of The World' which is backed by the reminiscing of 'Draft Age Today,' the gently melodic 'The Pirates of Stone County Road' (fetauring Buffy Ford Stewart), and then both the low key 'One Tiny Grain Of Sand' and the Simon & Garfunkel-esque 'July, You're A Woman.'
The beautiful 'Big Sur' (featuring Buffy Ford Stewart) is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold, and that's followed by 'Mother Country,' with 'She Believes In Me' (again featuring Buffy Ford Stewart), and the banjo-driven bonus track 'Hey Sarrey' bringing the collection to a close.
In 2001, Stewart was honored by the World Folk Music Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award and continued to perform live until nearly 2008.
Thus, here on Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos, Omnivore honors his life’s work and legacy with this peek behind the curtain into his songwriting process while he was making his way from The Kingston Trio to his solo career.
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Title - 'New York at Night'
Artist - Willie Nile
For those not in the know, New York at Night is the 13th studio album from veteran rock 'n' roll troubadour Willie Nile, and the strongest manifestation to date of his deep affinity for the city.
The album's 12 new originals exemplify the artist's trademark mix of romance, idealism, humor, emotional urgency and a true believer's passionate embrace of all things rock 'n' roll.
Nile's abiding passion for his town animates such tunes as 'New York Is Rockin' and the album's title track. "New York City has always inspired me," states Willie. "I've lived in Greenwich Village for many years now, and I still love being there."
"The energy, the grit, and the mystery of it all fills my heart with wonder. Most of these songs were written in New York or were inspired by it in one way or another."
Nile recorded New York at Night (released May 15th, 2020 via River House Records) just across the river, at Weehawken, N.J.'s Hobo Sound, co-producing with longtime collaborator Stewart Lerman (Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Patti Smith) and backed by his longtime live band.
The album also features well renowned guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Steuart Smith (Eagles, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell), pianist Brian Mitchell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, B.B. King), and an assortment of backing vocalists including singer-songwriters Frankie Lee and James Maddock, and veteran singers Tawatha Agee and Vaneese Thomas.
1. 'New York Is Rockin'
2. 'The Backstreet Slide'
3. 'Doors Of Paradise'
4. 'Lost and Lonely World'
5. 'The Fool Who Drank The Ocean'
6. 'A Little Bit Of Love'
7. 'New York at Night'
8. 'The Last Time We Made Love'
9. 'Surrender The Moon'
10. 'Under This Roof'
11. 'Downtown Girl'
12. 'Run Free'
This vibrantly earthy album opens with the upbeat sing-along 'New York Is Rockin' and backs that up with the low slung guitar work of 'The Backstreet Slide,' then the lo-fi reverb of 'Doors Of Paradise,' and then the mid-tempo, early '90s rock vibe of the terrific 'Lost and Lonely World.'
The drum-led beats of 'The Fool Who Drank The Ocean' ("I'm as mad as a hatter, I'm as drunk as Lord. I've been stumbling backward, falling on my soul") are then backed by the AOR ballad 'A Little Bit Of Love' and then the rambunctious title track 'New York at Night' ("I went into the subway and it felt just like a dream. Saw a fella going by covered in whipped cream") bursts forth.
Nile's ornate piano ballad, the yearning 'The Last Time We Made Love' makes it one of the stand out highlights here for me, and that's followed by the rockin' late '80s vibe of 'Surrender The Moon.'
The album then rounds out with the passionate, balladeering promises of 'Under This Roof,' before the tempo is raised once again for the thunderous 'Downtown Girl,' with the album coming to a close on the freewheeling, Springteen-esque 'Run Free.'
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Title - 'Truth'
Artist - Mrs. Fun
For those not in the know, Mrs. Fun plays complex, sophisticated and adventurous nu jazz.
A unique blend of off-center jazz, ultra-funk, spoken word rap, and their own brand of neo-cabaret, also incorporated are highly intelligent lyrics, stellar musicianship, and a dynamic stage presence.
The Mrs. Fun sound is derived from Connie Grauer's funky bass-driven keyboard playing, combined with Kim Zick's skillful in-the-pocket drumming.
Voted Best Contemporary Jazz Group by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry(WAMI) three consecutive years, Grauer and Zick have also received WAMI awards for Best Instrumentalist: keyboards and drums.
Given that improvisation is the driving force of Mrs. Fun, Grauer has also received awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Stage Entertainer.
Their new album, Truth is out now via Funtime Records and is a quite magnificent 13-track set that lovingly envelopes all the troupes noted above, and yet still manages to discover new ones along its expressive way.
2. 'Process In The Purpose'
3. 'Tula's Turnaround'
5. 'Silent Mist / How Insensitive'
6. 'Soulful Strutt'
8. 'I Don't Want to Know Your Name'
8. 'Light My Fire'
9. 'House Party'
9. 'Orange Grove'
10. 'Space Port / Pinocchio'
11. 'Let Me Live My Lie'
12. 'Calm Before The Storm'
The album kicks things off in fine style with the layered, drum-led '19' which is backed by both the spoken word 'Process In The Purpose' and then the more frenetic 'Tula's Turnaround.'
That fast-pace bleeds seamlessly into 'Silent Mist / How Insensitive,' but is culled somewhat for their dulcet rendition of Young-Holt Unlimited's 1968 hit 'Soulful Strut' (which in turn was the backing instrumental track from Barbara Acklin's 'Am I the Same Girl,' if you were ever curious!).
The heated pace is turned back up again for the pacey, yet orchestrated magnificence of 'Zawinul' and then we get the lush jazz-pop demeanor of 'Don't Want to Know Your Name.'
Their upbeat and fun rendition of The Doors' infamous 'Light My Fire' also makes this one of my own personal favorites and that's backed by both the controlled, yet clearly maniacal 'House Party,' and then the vibe of foreign espionage in the air for 'Orange Grove.'
This vibrantly magnificent album then rounds out with the tremendous, foot-tappin' urgency of 'Space Port / Pinocchio,' the spoken word, mid-tempo lo-fi 'Let Me Live My Lie,' and then comes to a close with their harmonious coming together for 'Calm Before The Storm.'
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Title - 'Blues For A King'
Artist - Shirley King
For those not in the know, the daughter of blues legend B.B. King, Shirley, shines on this spectacular, star-packed album entitled Blues For A King (out June 19th, 2020 via Cleopatra Blues Records).
Indeed, Shirley is a seasoned vocalist who performed regularly with her father and has continued to be an ambassador in the blues world after his passing.
Featuring an amazing cast of blues legends, including Joe Louis Walker, Robben Ford, Elvin Bishop, Junior Wells, as well as Pat Travers, Steve Cropper and more, Blues For A King is yet another blues home run from the King family!
1. 'All Of My Lovin’ (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
2. 'Feelin’ Alright' (feat. Duke Robillard)
3. 'I Did You Wrong' (feat. Elvin Bishop)
4. 'That’s All Right Mama' (feat. Pat Travers)
5. 'Can’t Find My Way Home' (feat. Martin Barre)
6. 'Johnny Porter' (feat. Arthur Adams)
7. 'Feeling Good' (feat. Robben Ford)
8. 'Give It All Up' (feat. Kirk Fletcher)
9. 'Gallows Pole' (feat. Harvey Mandel)
10. 'Hoodoo Man Blues' (feat. Junior Wells & Joe Louis Walker)
11. 'At Last' (feat. Steve Cropper)
This simply mesmerizing new Motown/blues album opens with the beautiful hipsway of 'All Of My Lovin’ (feat. Joe Louis Walker) and righteously backs that up with both a Gospel-esque rendition of Traffic's/Joe Cocker's 'Feelin’ Alright' (feat. the Fabulous Thunderbirds' guitarist Duke Robillard) and then the smokin’ hot original 'I Did You Wrong' (feat. the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's guitarist, Elvin Bishop).
Next up we get an absolutely rockin' 'That’s All Right Mama' (feat. Pat Travers) which is followed by a guitar-led rendition of Blind Faith's 'Can’t Find My Way Home' (feat. Martin Barre), the throaty, down South vibe of 'Johnny Porter' (originally by The Temptations, and feat. the Medon, Tennessee-born Arthur Adams), and then a sumptuous, brassy rendition of Nina Simone's 'Feeling Good' featuring Robben Ford).
This electrifying album then rounds out with the finger-snappin' Motown appeal of 'Give It All Up' (feat. the electric blues guitar work of Kirk Fletcher), a Mississippi-grown reworking of Led Zeppelin's 'Gallows Pole' (feat. the truly innovative guitar work of Harvey Mandel), and then comes to a close on Junior Wells' 'Hoodoo Man Blues' (now a duet with King, feat. the man himself alongside Joe Louis Walker), and then a faithful rendition of the Etta James classic 'At Last' (feat. "The Colonel," Steve Cropper).
Official CD Purchase Link
Shirley King @ Facebook
Shirley King @ Twitter
Title - 'Benefit For Moogy Klingman'
Artist - Todd Rundgren's Utopia
Todd Rundgren's Utopia Benefit For Moogy Klingman is a very limited edition 4CD+2DVD multimedia box-set of live performances from Todd Rundgren's renowned prog rock project Utopia, and is as good as it gets for all their fans, trust me!
Indeed, these very special concerts were planned as fundraising events to help cover medical expenses incurred by founding Utopia member, and beloved Rundgren partner, Moogy "Mark" Klingman.
This expansive set (due out May 1st, 2020 via Purple Pyramid - Cleopatra Records) covers two full length concerts, plus contains a 12-page booklet featuring photos and liner notes documenting these spectacular shows.
Disc 1: Highline Ballroom - New York, NY - January 29th, 2011
1. 'Moogy's Boogie'
2. 'Never Never Land'
3. 'Crying in the Sunshine'
4. 'Lady Face'
5. 'Dust in the Wind'
6. 'Utopia Theme'
7. 'Freak Parade'
8. 'Another Life'
9. 'The Ikon'
Disc 2: Highline Ballroom - New York, NY - January 29th, 2011
1. 'Heavy Metal Kids'
2. 'The Wheel'
3. 'Set Me Free'
4. 'Do Ya'
5. 'Last Ride'
6. 'Just One Victory'
7. 'Sons of 1984'
8. '(You Got to Have) Friends'
Disc 3: Peekskill Performing Arts Center - Peekskill, NY - November 18th, 2011
1. 'Utopia Theme'
2. 'Freak Parade'
3. 'Heavy Metal Kids'
4. 'Another Life'
5. 'Something's Coming'
6. 'The Seven Rays'
Disc 4: Peekskill Performing Arts Center - Peekskill, NY - November 18th, 2011
1. 'Do Yah'
2. 'The Wheel'
3. 'The Ikon'
4. 'Freedom Fighters'
5. 'Just One Victory'
Disc 5: Live Concert DVD from Highline Ballroom
Disc 6: Live Concert DVD from Peekskill Performing Arts Center
So, with Moogy “Mark” Klingman having fallen ill and as his health deteriorated and his medical bills began to pile up, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia reformed for special benefit engagements to raise money for their dear friend.
The result was an astounding coming together in music and a spirit of compassion as former Utopia members, including Mr. Klingman himself, stepped on the stage behind their leader, Todd Rundgren, and gave the fans an incredible concert, one they would remember for a lifetime.
The first disc (and the first half of the Highline Ballroom, New York, NY - January 29th, 2011 show) opens with the precise, crystal clear acoustic piano playing of the jazzy 'Moogy's Boogie,' and backs that up with the dulcet tones of 'Never Never Land,' the languishing 'Crying in the Sunshine,' and then both the transcendent, twinkling keys of 'Lady Face,' and then a magnificent 'Dust in the Wind' (and no, not the Kansas song!)
Next up is a raucous 15-minute opus in the form of 'Utopia Theme,' which is backed by the expansive 10-minute, drum-led duo of the epic 'Freak Parade' and then 'Another Life,' which in turn sees the first disc round out with the 18-minute fan favorite 'The Ikon.'
The second disc then brings us the second half of the Highline Ballroom show from 2011, and opens with the guitar heavy rocker 'Heavy Metal Kids' and backs that up with the more sedate, harmonica-driven meanderings of 'The Wheel,' with the foot-tappin' pop excellence of 'Set Me Free' along next.
A cover of ELO's magnificent 'Do Ya' is for me, a die hard ELO fan since birth, an unadulterated joy to behold and that's followed by the dulcet 'Last Ride' and then the orchestrated, reverb guitar-influenced 'Just One Victory.'
The poppy, upbeat, Motown-esque beats of 'Sons of 1984' are along next and hen the concert (and second disc) comes to a close with their heartfelt, deeply motivating rendition of '(You Got to Have) Friends.'
Discs three and four contain much the same setlist, albeit not as expansive, this time from their live show at the Peekskill Performing Arts Center - Peekskill, NY - November 18th, 2011.
And then we get the luxury of discs five and six being DVDs that house both the aforementioned concerts.
Official 4CD+2DVD Purchase Link
Todd Rundgren @ Facebook
Todd Rundgren @ Twitter
Title - 'The Garden' [EP]
Artist - Den of Ashes
Ash Beck, the grandson of early Country & Western entertainers John and “Texas Peggy” Clemens / The Wyoming Ramblers circa 1930s – 1950s (who toured and shared friendships with The Carter Family, Tex Ritter, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash), has just released his brand new EP (and his third studio album), the sweetly melancholic The Garden (out now via Starry Eyed Records).
The singer-songwriter better known as Den of Ashes creates and presents his music as a unique and intimate exploration into the human condition of love, hope, dreams and even death.
The moody melodic songs are about lost moments in time which means there is a rare loneliness there within the deep rich vocals and western tonality, which captures the very essence of the Western landscape.
1. 'Adam and Eve'
3. 'Avenue of Stars'
4. 'Adam and Eve' (Extended Version)
This creatively ornate, musically sublime 4-track EP begins with the lo-fi troubadour vibe of 'Adam and Eve' ("I don't want to fade away, but the rain came down like cellophane, and she just vanished in the haze, and she was"), and that's followed by the harmonica-driven, soulful, earnest reverence of 'Rain.'
Next up is the storytelling of 'Avenue of Stars,' a lonesome reflection of days gone by on this darkly moody, yet thoroughly melodic soundtrack into a journey of solitude, and then the EP wraps on an extended version of 'Adam and Eve.'
Official Digital Purchase Link
Den of Ashes @ Facebook
Title - 'All That Matters'
Artist - Lights Out
Being hailed as "The Nation's #1 Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons," Philly-based groupLights Out brings a lead singer whose voice is virtually identical to Frankie Valli himself, and the group's harmonies, engaging personality, and a fully choreographed show keeps audiences captivated from beginning to end.
Their brand new album All That Matters (released April 9th, 2020 via GSO Records) also features the original title track song that has garnered much attention around the world for it's inspirational message during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
With proceeds from the song being lovingly donated to the 1st Responders Children's Fund, the single (itself released worldwide this past April 20th, 2020) was composed by members Chris James and Danny Goscicki.
With fellow group member Chad Moroz suggesting the track be released as a single, complete with fourth band member Rob, 'All That Matters' is a melodic, blue-eyed soul, harmonized work of musical brilliance that ensures a smile to the soul will come to anyone who plays or simply hears it.
Watch The Official Music Video Here!
1. 'The Emptiness'
2. 'Takin’ My Time'
3. 'One More Chance'
4. 'All That Matters'
5. 'The Best Thing in My Life'
6. 'To Be With You'
7. 'I Walk Alone'
8. 'The Song the Echoes Tell'
9. 'Carry On'
10. 'If I Do'
11. 'Stand By Me' (with special guest Ben Vereen)
12. 'Surfin’ U.S.A.'
13. 'December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)'
As for the new album, it features 13 tracks that encompass the sheer vocally harmonized majesty of this quartet to their most magnificent best.
Here you will find nine originals along with four covers, in the form of The Beach Boys’ 'Surfin’ U.S.A.,' The Four Seasons’ 'December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),' Mr. Big’s 'To Be With You,' and a rather stupendous, zestful hip-pop rendition of Ben E. King's 'Stand By Me' (featuring a guest appearance by show business titan Ben Vereen - who himself gained prominence for his performances in the original Broadway productions of the musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, for which he received a Tony Award nomination, and Pippin, for which he won the 1973 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical).
Kicking off in some fine style with the *NSYNC/BSB-esque 'The Emptiness' they back that up with the mid-tempo, reverb rap of 'Takin’ My Time' and then both the soaring ballad 'One More Chance' and the aforementioned new single, 'All That Matters.'
The gentle hipsway of 'The Best Thing in My Life' is then backed by a faithful rendition of Mr. Big's acoustic guitar ballad 'To Be With You,' a soothing piano ballad in the form of 'I Walk Alone,' and then one of my own personal favorites here, the upbeat, early '90s hip-pop synth of 'The Song the Echoes Tell.'
The heartfelt storytelling of 'Carry On' is then followed by the tenderly smooth groove R&B of 'If I Do,' the wildly modernized 'Stand By Me' (featuring Ben Vereen), with the album coming to a close on Lights Outs' signature sound, the dutifully frenetic 'Surfin’ U.S.A.' and then the finger-snappin' excellence of 'December 1963 (Oh, What a Night).'
Digital Purchase Link
Lights Out @ Facebook
Lights Out @ Twitter
Title - 'Float Back To You'
Artist - Holy Hive
For those not in the know, Homer Steinweiss, the Brooklyn based soul-funk drumming staple, always had a soft spot for folk music. Paul Spring, a young idealist folk singer traveling the country, always had a beautiful falsetto in his back pocket.
Little did these two know, when they met on a girlfriend’s family farm in central Minnesota, a musical journey would ensue in which traditions of folk and soul music could cross pollinate to form Holy Hive.
After enlisting a studio assistant named Joe Harrison to join the band on bass, a sound started to form — warm and pleasant like a riverside camp fire while steady and hypnotizing like a silent night train.
A year-long monthly residency of gigs at Sunny’s Bar in Brooklyn, and a couple years working together in a Queens recording studio amassed into collection of songs musing on love and loss with lyrics inspired by ancient Greek poetry, 19th century Irish ballads, and '60s soul music.
Gathering steady momentum from their spring 2019 Harping EP featuring Mary Lattimore and Sasami and a handful of 45rpm singles, Holy Hive’s debut album Float Back To You is being released on June 19th, 2020 via Big Crown Records.
3. 'Blue Light'
4. 'Oh I Miss Her So '
5. 'Float Back To You'
6. 'Be Thou By My Side'
7. 'Didn't You Say'
8. 'Embers To Ashes'
9. 'Cynthia's Celebration'
10. 'Red Is The Rose'
11. 'You Will Always Be By My Side Forever'
12. 'Sophia's Part'
A melodic, lo-fi drum beat gentle introduces us to the dreamy '60s ambiance of 'Broom,' with the jangly guitar work of 'Hypnosis' (which also has a touch of a Marvin Gaye backbeat at times) and then the drum-led majesty of 'Blue Light' seamlessly following along.
When then get the summer's breeze of 'Oh I Miss Her So,' a track that showcases the vocal range of Spring just perfectly, with the resilient ambiance of the regulated musical heartbeat of the title track, 'Float Back To You' along next.
Some dulcet, yet orchestrated acoustic guitar work is found next in 'Be Thou By My Side' ("I've lived like a baker, but I've loved you like a King"), and that's backed by the funky, almost Motownesque 'Didn't You Say' and then the translucent 'Embers To Ashes.'
The instrumental 'Cynthia's Celebration' is a beautiful track that simply begs to be absorbed, and is backed by the western plains appeal of 'Red Is The Rose,' with the album rounding out with the earnest 'You Will Always Be By My Side Forever,' and coming to a close on the ethereally unwinding 'Sophia's Part.'
Unlike many bands of today, spending time with Holy Hive means you not only get to listen and enjoy their music at first blush, but after a few more listens, their layered musical creations reveal, one and all, a much deeper, and ultimately, profoundly soulful experience.
Official Purchase Links
Holy Hive @ Facebook
Title - 'Look Out Where You're Going'
Artist - Nicole Mercedes
For those not in the know, based out of Brooklyn, Nicole Mercedes is a dream pop multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter who creates a sound that is perfectly pop and haunting all at once.
Collaborating with producer Joe Rogers (Laura Stevenson, Rubblebucket, etc.), and mostly recording in her bedroom, Mercedes has achieved that elusive coexistence of brain-staining tunefulness and hauntingly evocative aura – the stuff of long afternoons gazing through rainy panes, or the throbbing craving for even temporary escape.
On her new album Look Out Where You're Going (releasing June 19th, 2020), the engrossingly artful, dedicatedly ambiance of Nicole's expansive chamber pop gives the listener eight ways to fall in love with her sound (trust me, you'll be head of heels in under three!).
1. 'Last Hike'
7. 'At Ease'
Not one for long song titles, the album kicks off with the esoteric ambiance of 'Last Hike,' and backs that up with the building, echoing and fuzzy electronic bed of drum-led orchestrations that make up 'Filters,' before the first single 'Stoop,' a lush, floating work of musical art weaves its way forward on a bed of luxuriant synths and ghostly guitars.
Next up is the gentle yearning of 'Motel,' which is seamlessly backed by the magnificently atmospheric 'Watering,' and then the lo-fi indie vibe of 'Thumbelina' is brought forth.
This quite amazingly ambient, always gorgeous, and at times even transcendent album then rounds out with the foot-tappin' resonance of 'At Ease, before coming to a close on the raw, acoustic guitar work and vocal sonority of 'Mediterranean.'
Official Purchase Link
Nicole Mercedes @ Facebook
Nicole Mercedes @ Spotify
Nicole Mercedes @ Instagram
Title - 'Brillance Indéniable'
Artist - Alana Youssefian & Le Bien-Aimé
For those not in the know, award-winning baroque violinist Alana Youssefian and her ensemble Le Bien-Aimé have just released their brand new musical showcasing of the brilliant, but seldom-heard French violinist and composer Louis-Gabriel Guillemain.
On the quite magnificent Brillance Indéniable (out April 3rd, 2020 via AVIE Records), Guillemain, who from an early age possessed an above-average amount of precociousness, also went on to serve in the court of King Louis XV.
His symphonies are as uplifting and innovative as his sonatas are astonishingly virtuosic. While his compositions tested the abilities of his contemporaries, his lasting legacy may have been his knack for bridging the baroque and classical styles; seamlessly adapting to shifting tastes in music and art of his time.
Here on Brillance Indéniable, Youssefian, the young, New York-based violinist who is a rather sought-after soloist for baroque, classical, and romantic repertoire, most definitely rises to the challenges of Guillemain's technical demands with ease.
Furthermore, she has been honored with the top prize in The Juilliard Schools Historical Performance Concerto Competition and a coveted fellowship by The English Concert in America.
1-4 'Violin Sonata in B Minor, Op. 1 No. 3' (10:56)
5-6 'Symphony in G Major, Op. 14 No. 6' (12:18)
8-10 'Violin Sonata in C Minor, Op. 1 No. 8' (12:43)
11-13 'Symphony in G Major, Op. 6 No. 1' (10:56)
14-15 'Violin Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 1 No. 6' (9:07)
16-18 'Symphony in E-Flat Major, Op. 14 No. 2' (11:11)
This delightful program brings forth three of Guillemain’s virtuosic Op.1 sonatas with three of his more ostentatious and disarming symphonies, with the works now purposely scored for a trio sonata ensemble.
Opening with the stirring, impassioned, yet diligently, and tightly orchestrated four-parter 'Violin Sonata in B Minor, Op. 1 No. 3,' that is seamlessly followed by the faster, more vibrantly alert three-parter 'Symphony in G Major, Op. 14 No. 6.'
Up next is the structured playfulness of the three-part 'Violin Sonata in C Minor, Op. 1 No. 8' which is backed by my own personal favorite, the three-part ballroom swirl of 'Symphony in G Major, Op. 6.'
This simply magnificently evoking collection of new recordings from Alana Youssefian & Le Bien-Aimé then rounds out with the yearning of the two-part 'Violin Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 1 No. 6' (9:07), before coming to a close on the upbeat flare of the three-parter 'Symphony in E-Flat Major, Op. 14 No. 2.'
Official Brillance Indéniable CD Purchase Link
Title - 'High North' [EP]
Artist - Jakob Magnússon
For those not in the know, Jakob Magnússon is an Icelandic composer, keyboard player, film director and producer.
In Iceland he is best known as the keyboardist and one of the founders of the multi-artistic band Stuðmenn, with which he has so far produced 17 albums (the last being 2017's Astraltertukubbur: Ásgeir Óskarsson).
He has also directed, produced and starred in several films, and released several solo albums with a number of famous jazz musicians from the United States.
For a period of the 1990s he was the cultural attaché of the Icelandic embassy in London and since 2002, aside from playing in Stuðmenn and recording new albums, Magnússon is the co-owner and manager of the advertisement agency Bankastræti in Reykjavík.
Magnússon studied music in California and during his time in the U.S. he started his own band with Carlos Rios (guitar), Steve Anderson (bass) and David Logeman (drums) and released several albums with jazz-influenced music.
On these albums he also involved many talented musicians such as Bill Champlin, Vinnie Colaiuta, Neil Stubenhaus, Abe Laboriel, Ernie Watts, Tom Scott, Peter Banks all of them heavily renowned names in Jazz and Jazz Fusion.
Magnússon has also been a studio musician for a number of American and Icelandic artists, and is known for his distinctive and tasteful keyboard solos and brilliant treatment of the Rhodes piano and various synthesizers.
And so now, as we globally come to terms with an unknown pandemic, Jakob Magnússon has brought forth a brand new EP to soothe our worried souls.
Released this past May 8th, 2020 via Woodward Avenue Records, High North us a five-track, 20 minute musical amalgam of, at times, shimmering and swaying, other times organic and old school, and yet always free flowing and soul-jazz cool hooks and vibes.
1. 'Karlsson's Arrival' (4:27)
2. 'Hook, Line & Sinker' (3:30)
3. 'Caption This' (3:59)
4. 'Reykjavik Romp' (3:38)
5. 'Next To You' (4:11)
Opening this lush five song set - one he wrote with two-time Grammy-winning producer/guitarist Paul Brown - with the euphoric hipsway of 'Karlsson's Arrival,' Magnússon - aka the popular, eminently grooving artist formerly known as "Jack Magnet" - backs that seamlessly up with the finger-snappin' R&B smooth jazz vibe of 'Hook, Line & Sinker'.
Next up is the first single released from the EP, and my own personal favorite, the sleek and silky funk of 'Caption This.' Opening with some gorgeous '70s guitar work from Brown, it's followed by the trumpet-inspired, low-slung groove of 'Reykjavik Romp,' with the EP coming to a close on the soulfully ornate 'Next To You.'
"The title High North refers to my Icelandic origins," Magnússon explains. "I come from what used to be considered the outskirts of the habitable world."
"Iceland used to be seen as a very remote, cold little island somewhere between Moscow and Washington, but thanks to international aviation, telecommunications and social media, it is now more and more seen as the most ideal and desirable location in the whole world."
"Living here gives you a different set of values and the musical life in Iceland has for years been blessed by free musical education for all, the presence of American radio and television networks, and some great American musicians and producers like Paul Brown who have been coming here for years to play and produce local talent. I´ve certainly benefitted from this," he adds.
"We were lucky to have one of the world´s foremost bass players here to lay the foundations with us, jazz-funk maverick Johann Asmundsson," Magnússon continues, "who has provided some of the key elements to the sound of renowned groove-jazzers Mezzoforte.”
As for the major inspiration for the EP opener, 'Karlsson’s Arrival,' he reveals that it's a "... a toss around the musical horn that affords each player the moment to shine by offering clever retorts in response to Magnusson’s deft keyboard calls."
High North was not only created as an international collaboration between the Reykjavik-based Magnússon and the Los Angeles-based Brown, but the utilization of other talented musicians also.
Flugelhorn player Snorri Sigurdsson, trumpeter Ari Bragi Karason and vocalist Ragnhildur Gisladottir are among the Icelandic musicians contributing to the collection with most of the grooves anchored by the Icelandic rhythm section formed by percussionist Lenny Castro, bassist Johann Asmundsson, and drummers Lew Laing and Thor Thorvaldsson.
Amazon Purchase Links
Title - 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World'
Artist - La Lucha
For those not in the know, La Lucha is a Tampa Bay-based trio that consists of three friends from three different parts of the world; Colombia, Mexico & United States.
Their music ventures boldly into a wide variety of musical styles, offering an appealing and fun mix of genres under the jazz umbrella.
Indeed, the combination of their musical versatility and varied musical influences makes for compelling virtuosic performances.
John, Alejandro, and Mark – raised in Mexico, Colombia, and Florida, respectively – met up in a practice room at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, in 2006.
The three were soon best friends, and the musical experiences from their younger years, collectively from punk to heavy metal, salsa to classical, were all grist for the mill as they delved into learning and creating jazz.
Their energies and cultural backgrounds melded, and La Lucha became known for a sound with lots of Latin rhythms, combining jazz and American Songbook standards with their self-described ‘twisted arrangements’ of 80s and 90s pop tunes, and originals by each of the guys.
Here on their brand new album, Everybody Wants To Rule The World, La Lucha (which means 'the fight, or struggle') are joined by, amongst others, all-star musicians Houston Person, Ken Peplowski and Chuck Redd.
1. 'Por La Tarde' (ft. Ken Peplowski & Diego Figueiredo)
2. 'Space Oddity'
3. 'Lullaby of The Leaves/Lullaby of Birdland' (ft. Chuck Redd)
4. 'Blues For Houston Person' (ft. Houston Person & Chuck Redd)
5. '1+2' (ft. Melissa Aldana)
6. 'The Sundering'
7. 'Otra Vez' (ft. Melissa Aldana & Ken Peplowski)
8. 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)' (ft. Ken Peplowski)
9. 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' (ft. Melissa Aldana)
11. 'Dance Dance Dance'
12. 'She's Like The Wind'
13. 'Samba Pra Diego' (ft. Ken Peplowski, Chuck Redd, & Diego Figueiredo)
The band, who view their collective name as a positive reminder to overcome whatever one needs to, including the obstacles found in living with a commitment to an artistic life, kick off this vibrant album with the gradual build to a spirited and lively 'Por La Tarde (featuring jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Ken Peplowski and Grammy nominated Brazilian jazz guitarist Diego Figueiredo) and back that up with both the low-key 'Space Oddity' and then the perky 'Lullaby of The Leaves/Lullaby of Birdland' (featuring jazz drummer and vibraphonist Chuck Redd).
Chuck, along with the titular jazz tenor saxophonist, Houston Person, is back once more on the upbeat vibrancy of 'Blues For Houston Person' and then we get one of my own personal favorites, the late night, smoky underground jazz club vibe of both '1+2' (featuring Chilean tenor saxophonist, Melissa Aldana), and then 'The Sundering.'
The Brazilian samba vibe of 'Otra Vez' (featuring Aldana and Peplowski) is up next and is elegantly followed by the yearningly laid back orchestrations of 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)' (featuring Peplowski), another low key rendition, this time of the title track 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' (featuring Aldana), and then the mid-tempo free flow of 'Lilis.'
This quite magnificent album the rounds out with the foot-tappin' elegance of 'Dance Dance Dance,' the most passionately resonant, soulful rendition of 'She's Like The Wind' that I've ever heard, and then comes to a close with the playful 'Samba Pra Diego' (featuring the trio of Peplowski, Redd, and Figueiredo).
Official Digital Purchase Link
La Lucha @ Facebook
La Lucha @ Twitter
Title - 'Live at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar'
Artist - Tania Grubbs Quintet
For those not in the know, Live at Maureen's Jazz Cellar (released this past January 20th, 2020) was recorded live on May 24th, 2019 at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar in Nyack, NY and marks the premiere of the Live at Maureen's recording series.
Indeed, the venue itself was named in honor of pianist David Budway’s late sister Maureen Budway who was an enormously talented vocalist and a close personal friend of exceptional jazz singer Tania Grubbs.
When world-renowned trumpeter Sean Jones described Tania, he said knowing her has been a joy, “not only because of her skill as an artist but because of her connection to humanity.”
Furthermore, there probably couldn’t be two more perfect words to describe not only Tania but her fascinating, beautiful music: joy and humanity.
Here on this brand new album, Tania went about carefully selecting the songs for this project, spending a great deal of time thinking about the repertoire of music she’d been perfecting over the years.
On this 12 track new album, the Tania Grubbs Quintet features David Budway on piano, Tania’s husband and Pittsburgh Symphony member Jeff Grubbs on bass, Ron Affif on guitar and, James Johnson III on drums.
1. 'A Flower is a Lovesome Thing'
2. 'Bird on a Wire'
5. 'Hope Is the Thing with Feathers'
7. 'The Peacocks'
9. 'Harvest Moon'
10. 'I Remember'
11. 'Wichita Lineman'
12. 'Don’t Take Your Love Away from Me'
In addition to several original compositions, the album kicks off with a spirited rendition of 'A Flower is a Lovesome Thing' (by Pittsburgh’s own Billy Strayhorn), which she backs up seamlessly with the summer breeze appeal of Leonard Cohen’s 'Bird on a Wire' and then some mid-tempo jazzy pop sway found within Joni Mitchell's 'Love.'
The intricate majesty of 'Peace' is then brought forth and that is followed by 'Hope Is the Thing with Feathers,' a nod to Tania's love of poetry and literature, whilst also borrowing the text from Emily Dickinson.
Next up is some stand up bass funk combined with Tania's excellent scat work on 'Ornithology' which is followed by the ornate 'The Peacocks (A Timeless Place),' the exuberant 'Autumn,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites, a quite magnificent version of Neil Young’s 'Harvest Moon.'
The album then rounds out with the delicate 'I Remember,' which is backed by a Julia Fordhamesque cover of Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman,' finally coming to a close with the gently finger-snappin' jauntiness of 'Don't Take Your Love from Me.'
Amazon Purchase Links
Tania Grubbs @ Facebook
Tania Grubbs @ Twitter
Title - 'The Ridge'
Artist - Julian Taylor
For those not in the know, Canadian singer-songwriter, Julian Taylor recently premiered the first title track single from his just-released new album, The Ridge (set for release on CD, vinyl, and via most digital platforms on June 19th, 2020 via Howling Turtle Inc.)
Of West Indian and Mohawk descent, the Toronto music scene staple and a musical chameleon Taylor reveals a myriad of ties through his music, which are showcased to perfection within his previous ten albums in the last two decades; each themselves a dramatic departure from its predecessor.
Here on The Ridge, we get eight tracks that are firmly rooted in folk Americana, all of them lovingly embedded with lush instrumentation and a wilderness-like, Rocky Mountain-evoking ambiance.
1. 'The Ridge'
2. 'Human Race'
3. 'It's Not Enough'
4. 'Over The Moon'
5. 'Ballad of a Young Troubadour'
6. 'Be With You'
7. 'Love Enough'
8. 'Ola, Let's Dance'
The songs on The Ridge (which is itself named after the town Maple Ridge, British Columbia) deal with themes that are especially poignant to Taylor, if not now all of us, given what the world is going through - such as love, loss, and a yearning desire for the human race to prevail against numerous hardships.
Indeed, his lyrics follow a poignant journey of his younger self and as he has grown older, also tries to look at as many silver linings as possible to balance his experiences out.
Kicking things off with the title track, a song that if you close your eyes and allow yourself to drift way to, you'll swear has a certain low slung 'Riders On The Storm' vibe to it, that's backed by the smooth, lo-fi, country porch-livin' majesty of 'Human Race.'
Next up is the stirring guitar work and deep, soulful vocal stance of both 'It's Not Enough' and the harmonious 'Over The Moon,' and then the sweepingly orchestrated, foot-tappin' 'Ballad of a Young Troubadour.'
This rather wonderful new album then rounds out with the gently lo-fi 'Be With You,' then the mid-tempo, percussion-led blues of 'Love Enough,' before coming to an all-too-soon close on the storytelling of time and what it is and what it was, the reality of completeness, and the profound message that we are because of what it is, found within 'Ola, Let's Dance.'
Co-produced by Taylor and longtime collaborator Saam Hashemi, mixed by Hashemi, and mastered by Noah Mintz, The Ridge was recorded at The Woodshed, a Toronto-area studio owned by a Canadian alt-country stalwarts Blue Rodeo.
Album Credits: Vocals, Guitar, Piano - Julian Taylor Drums & Conga - Gene Diabo Bass - Barry Diabo Piano, Dobro Guitar - Derek Downham Pedal Steel - Burke Carroll Percussion - Saam Hashemi Fiddle – Miranda Mullholland Backing Vocals – Sheila Carabine & Amanda Walther (DALA) Cello – Kevin Fox Percussion – and Saam Hashemi.
Official 'The Ridge' Purchase Link
Julian Taylor @ Facebook
Julian Taylor @ Twitter
Julian Taylor @ Instagram
Title - 'San Fernando Beat' [EP]
Artist - Sandy McKnight with Fernando Perdomo
For those not in the know, an in-demand session bassist since the '70s, Sandy McKnight has worked with Todd Rundgren and other top-name artists as a session player.
He's had over 500 songs published, over 200 recorded and covered by various artists, and has produced hundreds of recordings for other artists.
Along with that he has has also written for TV, the stage, and some sketch comedy shows!
Indeed, he is the creator/writer/director of the TV pilot 'The Ragamuffins of Love,' which includes his original music and he also created and produced a TV pilot, 'Perry' (that can still be seen online).
Now the great man brings us his latest musical exploits San Fernando Beat (out March 5th, 2020), a vibrant 6-song EP that also features Fernando Perdomo.
Fernando Perdomo is a powerhouse of the LA music scene who lives and breathes music LA Weekly dubbed him as “The millennial answer to Todd Rundgren.”
A veteran at 37, he has made a name for himself as an in-demand producer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.
Amongst many other things, he co-produced Linda Perhacs' second album The Soul Of All Natural Things, which holds the record for longest span of time between first and second records (44 years).
1. 'Facing the End of the World'
2. 'Single Flowers'
3. 'Chloe's Gone'
4. 'Heart in Your Hands'
5. 'Any Time of Day'
This most perfect summers day enhancement opens with the pop bounce of the jangling guitar-driven, hook laden 'Facing the End of the World,' and backs that up with the bass guitar-led, unmistakable Elvis Costello-esque brilliance of 'Single Flowers.'
Next up is the '60s gentle pop bounce of 'Chloe's Gone' which they back up with a pinch of the Beatles' psychedelic sensory experiences found within 'Heart in Your Hands.'
Some exuberant '70s light pop fun is found within the free flowing 'Any Time of Day' with the EP coming to a close on the lyrically intriguing, Costello-esque nostalgia of 'Fake.'
Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Winterreise'
Artist - Madre Vaca
For those not in the know, based in Jacksonville, FL. Madre Vaca is a collective of artists focused on making creative music whose core members include: Benjamin Shorstein, Jonah Pierre, and Jarrett Carter.
Almost 200 years ago, Franz Schubert was in the throes of a disease that would ultimately claim his life as he penned the gorgeous and haunting song cycle, Winterreise.
Winterreise is a story of a young man who takes leave from the home of his beloved in the middle of the night, in the dead of winter, unlikely to ever see her again.
Arranged for jazz octet, Madre Vaca's interpretation of Winterreise - out June 4th, 2020 via MVR, and pronounced Vin-Tuh-Rize-Uh - is also the German word meaning Winter Journey and magnifies the timelessness and versatility of Schubert's music.
1. 'Good Night' (7:01)
2. 'The Weathervane' (3:54)
3. 'Frozen' (4:23)
4. 'Loneliness' (5:04)
5. 'The Gray Head' (4:34)
6. 'The Crow' (6:55)
7. 'Last Hope' (4:12)
8. 'The Stormy Morning' (3:30)
9. 'The Sun Dogs' (2:24)
10. 'The Hurdy-Gurdy Man' (3:42)
Arranged from 10 of Schubert's 24 songs comprising the Winterreise song cycle and dedicated to Franz Schubert and Nicole Nissim Shorstein, the band open with the highly emotive brilliance of 'Good Night' and back that up with both the perky dancefloor turn of 'The Weathervane' and then the slightly sterner, more precise and dedicated 'Frozen.'
Up next is the gentle Latin hipsway of 'Loneliness' which is followed by the lo-fi, late night piano, smoky jazz club appeal of 'The Gray Head,' the upbeat and melodic wonderment of 'The Crow,' and then the dulcet, yet orchestrated jam session 'Last Hope.'
This quite vibrantly brilliant new album then rounds out with the euphoric jazz swaying of the trumpet-led 'The Stormy Morning,' the quietly, even stoic at times, German-sung to a crisp piano backing 'The Sun Dogs,' before coming to a close with the finger-snappin' jazz and blues elegance of 'The Hurdy-Gurdy Man.'
Juan Rollan – saxophone
Steve Strawley – trumpet
Lance Reed – trombone
Jonah Pierre - piano
Jarrett Carter - guitar
Mike Perez – bass
Benjamin Shorstein – drums
Milan Algood – percussion
Official Purchase Link
Madre Vaca @ Facebook
Title - 'Quatro'
Artist - John Finbury
For those not in the know, John Finbury’s new album Quatro (out June 1st, 2020) premieres new music with broad Latin American and Spanish influences, mixed and matched in an unorthodox fashion.
Alternating vocal and instrumental tracks, the album was produced by Latin Grammy winner Emilio D. Miler, and features Magos Herrera on vocals, Chano Domínguez on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Antonio Sánchez on drums.
1. 'Llegará El Día' (4:47)
2. 'Independence Day' (4:29)
3. 'La Madre De Todos Los Errores' (5:46)
4. 'All The Way To The End' (6:33)
5. 'Comenzar' (6:06)
6. 'Salón Jardín' (4:27)
7. 'Romp' (6:23)
This visceral, emotional, and heartfelt new album opens with the impassioned and sultry 'Llegará El Día,' which is followed by both the lucid piano work found on 'Independence Day' and then the mercurial 'La Madre De Todos Los Errores.'
Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the English-vocalized 'All The Way To The End,' which in turn is followed by the earthy, upright bass-led 'Comenzar.'
This attractively passionate album then rounds out with the elegant, free flowing piano work of 'Salón Jardín,' coming to a close with the drum led, funky grooves of 'Romp.'
Recorded over two sessions in New York in 2019, Quatro is both a celebration of cultural diversity and immigration, and a condemnation of those who seek restriction based upon prejudice.
Though written and recorded before the world was stunned by a pandemic that has hindered our ability to gather and celebrate, Quatro presents a musical meeting place that strives to bridge that distance, and convey the certainty that we are better together.
Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Magdalen Accepts the Invitation'
Artist - Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold
For those not in the know, Mark Olson was raised in Minnesota by a family of farmers and teachers and in 1985, he co-founded the Jayhawks, with whom he made five LPs.
Ingunn Ringvold comes from Larvik, Norway, the home of Thor Heyerdahl. She studied the Qanon with Arax, a master musician in Vanadzor, Armenia, where she learned how to harness great strength in her performance style.
This third collaboration between Americana pioneer Olson (Jayhawks) and Norwegian singer/multi-instrumentalist Ringvold, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation mines a Death Valley isolation chamber folk/pop sound awash with dramatic darkness and vivid light.
While continuing along the Americana-cobbled roads they took on their first two albums, the husband-and-wife duo here explore lesser traveled musical territories here.
The album sounds like you are out in the desert all alone, remembering childhood experiences and music and the joy took place.
Says Olson, "The writing of the new music is the desert I long to return to. This valley of sounds is where I really want to be and what takes up the most time in my consciousness."
1. 'Pipestone I Won't Be Back'
2. 'You'll Find the Morning'
3. 'Excelsior Park'
4. 'Christina Hi'
5. 'April in Your Cloud Garden'
6. '31 Patience Games'
7. 'Children of the Streetcar'
8. 'Silent Mary'
9. 'Elmira's Fountain'
10. 'Black Locust'
This new, and original 10-track album - which was done on a Nagra field recorder, which further enhances the albums unvarnished sonic textures - opens with the lo-fi Americana of 'Pipestone I Won't Be Back' (named after Pipestone Minnesota, a town made of Sioux Quartzite buildings), and backs that up seamlessly with both the early '70s jangly pop of 'You'll Find the Morning' and the hippyesque-vibe of 'Excelsior Park' (named after the old amusement park on Lake Minnetonka).
Next up is the free flowing majesty of 'Christina Hi' which is followed by more '70s-esque melodies found within 'April in Your Cloud Garden,' the gentle ebb and flow of '31 Patience Games' (written in South Africa where Mark and Ingunn were married), and the absolutely magnificent, summers breeze ambiance of 'Children of the Streetcar.'
On an album where Olson did all the analog engineering whilst Ringvold did the digital aspects, this music gorgeous music continues onward with the piano-led 'Silent Mary,' the perfectly married harmonies of 'Elmira's Fountain' (a song begun in Vanadzor, Armenia about a real fountain where the couple met their host, Elmira), and then comes to a close on the lo-fi folk Americana of 'Black Locust' (named after Black Locust tree seeds).
Mark and Ingunn live now in the California desert, and they tour off and on internationally almost every year.
Official CD, Vinyl LP and Digital Purchase Links
Mark Olson @ Facebook
Title - 'Last Call: Live at The Music Box'
Artist - The Choir
For those not in the know, in 2018, when Omnivore Recordings released The Choir’s first full length platter in the group’s history, no one knew what impact the release of that recording would have.
Indeed, the group, in its many different manifestations during the '60s, had released several singles, including a Top 10 smash ('It’s Cold Outside') in the group’s hometown of Cleveland.
The song would reach #68 on the Billboard national charts, but the garage rock band whose many different members went on to form other important bands like Raspberries and James Gang, had never made an album of their own before, just assorted singles from 1966–1968.
So 50 years on, when the tapes of an aborted album were found, mixed and released as Artifact: The Unreleased Album to unanimous critical acclaim, the 1968 version of The Choir suddenly found itself back in the limelight with a decision to make.
Would they choose to reclaim their vision and perform live, back where they came from, the home of rock ’n’ roll, Cleveland, Ohio. Or would they continue to languish in the annals of music folklore?
Choosing the former option, Omnivore Recordings has just released (May 29th, 2020) Last Call: Live At The Music Box, The Choir’s 50th anniversary performance captured live at Cleveland’s Music Box the night of September 20th, 2019.
1. 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale'
2. 'Anyway I Can'
3. 'Love Really Changed Me'
5. 'Shine On Brightly'
6. 'I Can't Stay In Your Life'
7. 'That's The Way God Planned It'
8. 'Boris' Lament'
9. 'What About You'
10. Have I No Love To Offer'
Opening with a stirring, if not sub-Gothic rendition of Procol Harum's majestic 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale,' they move seamlessly onward with the drum-led, mid-tempo rocker 'Anyway I Can,' a euphoric cover of Spooky Tooth's 'Love Really Changed Me,' and both the AOR of 'Ladybug' and another Procol Harum cover, this time the prog rock of 'Shine On Brightly.'
The late '70s upbeat pop vibe of 'Can't Stay In Your Life' is then backed by the Billy Preston classic 'That's The Way God Planned It' (although some words are changed, for whatever reason), and then both their 1994 hit 'Boris' Lament' and then the Blues swagger of 'What About You.'
This jam packed first disc then rounds out with the heartfelt yearning of 'Have I No Love To Offer' and comes to a close on the harmonious Hammond organ-driven 'America.'
2. 'If There Are Men'
3. 'David Watts'
4. 'It's All Over'
5. 'Mummer Band'
6. 'For Eric'
7. 'Salty Dog'
8. 'Good Times'
9. 'MacArthur Park'
10. 'It's Cold Outside'
12. 'Ramblin' Gamblin' Man'
The second disc opens with the pop rocker 'Kaleidoscope' which is followed by the tunefully free flowing 'If These Are Men,' a cover of The Kinks' infamous 'David Watts,' and then both the lo-fi piano ballad 'It's All Over,' and then the foot-tappin' ode to joy 'Mummer Band.'
Next we get the artful piano work found within 'For Eric,' which is backed by another Procol Harum track, their magnificent 1969 'A Salty Dog,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites, 'Good Times' (aka 'Gonna Have a Good Time'); a song by the Easybeats, originally released as a single in Australia in 1968.
A memorable version of Jimmy Webb's wondrous 'MacArthur Park' (made famous by both Richard Harris and Donna Summer) is next and is followed by a lo-fi rearrangement of their own hit 'It's Cold Outside' -- to reflect the current musical makeup of the group which includes Ken Margolis (keyboards), Phil Giallombardo (organ), Randy Klawon (guitars), Denny Carleton (bass) and Jim Bonfanti (drums) -- with the album closing on the last of their Procol Harum covers, this time their 1974 'Conquistador,' wrapping up with a thunderous Bob Seger tribute on 'Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.'
Official Purchase Links
The Choir 'Last Call' Music Trailer
Title - 'Orange Crate Art' [2CD]
Artist - Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks
For those not in the know, in 1966, when Brian Wilson prepared the follow up to his masterpiece Pet Sounds, he employed the services of Mississippi born Van Dyke Parks as lyricist for The Beach Boys next album, SMiLE.
As history would soon document, SMiLE became the most famous unreleased album in rock history, it’s “completion” not seeing daylight until a Grammy®-award winning box set in 2012.
SMiLE’s original plan was to incorporate many different elements of American music in an avant-garde fashion, its musical format leaps and bounds ahead of anything that existed contemporaneously.
As SMiLE quickly grew in legendary terms, Brian and Van Dyke each went their separate musical ways, only to reunite briefly in 1972 for The Beach Boys classic 'Sail On Sailor.'
So it was perhaps with great apprehension and excitement that these two musical giants should finally reunite in 1994 for some unfinished business.
This time, however, the mission would be complete. The musical terrain familiar - a paean to California - Omnivore Recordings has just released (June 19th, 2020) the 25th anniversary special edition of Orange Crate Art by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks.
By 1994, the roles had been reversed and it was Van Dyke who coaxed Brian into the studio to be the singer of nearly a dozen new songs he had written as a tribute to his home away from home.
Parks writes in the liner notes, “Though my roots are somewhere else, far away, my limbs are here in Southern California (for) it's here that I have struggled desperately for a sense of place."
Orange Crate Art is a continuum of that which stood, freeze-frame, at the release of SMiLE.
Twenty-five years on, this album which sounds like nothing before or since, has been majestically re-mastered by multi-Grammy® award winner Michael Graves.
1. 'Orange Crate Art'
2. 'Sail Away'
3. 'My Hobo Heart'
4. 'Palm Tree and Moon'
5. 'Wings of a Dove'
6. 'Summer in Monterey'
7. 'San Francisco'
8. 'Hold Back Time'
9. 'My Jeanine'
10. 'Movies Is Magic'
11. 'This Town Goes Down at Sunset'
13. 'Rhapsody In Blue' (Outtake)
14. 'Our Love Is Here To Stay' (Outtake)
15. 'What A Wonderful World' (Outtake)
The first disc opens with the lush, harmonious magnificence of the title track and that is backed by the finger-snappin' melodies of 'Sail Away,' the mid-tempo pop of 'My Hobo Heart,' and then the summers breezes of both 'Wings of a Dove' and the magnificent 'Palm Tree and Moon.'
The beautiful 'Summer in Monterey' is followed by the early '70s pop sensibilities of 'San Francisco,' then comes the gentle hipsway of 'Hold Back Time,' and then the melodious, Appalachia love song, 'My Jeanine.'
With people down the years having incorrectly assumed that because Brian Wilson's name is listed first, this is a Brian Wilson album -- it really isn't -- Van Dyke Parks ensures throughout to make it his own, sure, especially during the snatches of Americana in words and melody, but its the harmonizing from Brian Wilson that truly brings the songs together.
Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the sweet-sounding, shoulder dip and sway of 'Movies Is Magic,' with the original album rounding out with the storytelling of 'This Town Goes Down at Sunset,' and closing on the stirring arrangements of the longest track, the simply divine orchestrations of 'Lullaby.'
Complete now with outtakes of 'Rhapsody In Blue,' 'Our Love Is Here To Stay' and 'What A Wonderful World,' and with the second disc housing a generous collection of eleven instrumental versions, this is finally the ultimate edition of Orange Crate Art that their fans have been collectively waiting for.
1. 'Orange Crate Art' (Instrumental)
2. 'Sail Away' (Instrumental)
3. 'My Hobo Heart' (Instrumental)
4. 'Wings of a Dove' (Instrumental)
5. 'Palm Tree and Moon' (Instrumental)
6. 'Summer in Monterey' (Instrumental)
7. 'San Francisco' (Instrumental)
8. 'Hold Back Time' (Instrumental)
9. 'My Jeanine' (Instrumental)
10. 'Movies Is Magic' (Instrumental)
11. 'This Town Goes Down at Sunset' (Instrumental)
Orange Crate Art is available on vinyl for the very first time and the deluxe CD package contains three previously-unreleased bonus tracks as well as instrumental track versions of 11 of the album’s songs.
Official Purchase Links
Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks 'Orange Crate Art' Music Trailer
Title - 4 Newly Expanded CDs from The Staple Singers!
Artist - The Staple Singers
For those not in the know, Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award recipients and Rock & Roll and Gospel Hall of Fame inductees The Staple Singers are an American musical treasure.
In the ’50s, The Staple Singers were among the greatest of the post-war gospel groups. The ’60s found them recording for a variety of labels like Vee-Jay, Riverside, Epic, and ultimately Stax, pioneering the “soul-folk” sound.
By the end of the decade they were soul music superstars, with hits like 'I Know a Place' and 'I’ll Take You There.'
During the ’70s, they had 13 singles on the U.S. Pop chart and 20 on the U.S. R&B chart.
Besides recording, touring and chasing songs up the charts, the group also found time to not only appear in music-related motion pictures like Wattstax (1972) and The Band’s The Last Waltz (1976), but they also contributed to the Sidney Poitier-directed film soundtrack Let’s Do It Again, with music produced by Curtis Mayfield.
This, their first post-Stax effort, sent the title track, 'Let’s Do It Again,' to the number one spot on both the Pop and R&B charts.
Though the hits slowed after the mid-’70s, the Staples did have a #5 dance chart hit with a cover of the Talking Heads’ song 'Slippery People' in 1984.
Mavis Staples had been releasing solo albums dating back to 1969’s self-titled effort on Stax, but started to pick up the release tempo and carry the family business forward with a pair of albums for the Paisley Park label under the direction of Prince in 1989 and 1993.
She continues performing and releasing albums on Anti- Records to this day, working with artists and producers Ry Cooder, Jeff Tweedy, Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, and Ben Harper, among others.
The always-wondrous Omnivore Recordings will reissue four 1970s released by the group — the Curtis Mayfield-produced Let’s Do It Again soundtrack and Pass It On on June 5th, 2020, and then Family Tree, produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, and Unlock Your Mind, produced by Chicago soul giant Eugene Record, on June 26th, 2020.
Pass It On: Expanded Edition (1976)
1. 'The Real Thing Inside of Me / Party'
2. 'Take Your Own Time'
3. 'Sweeter Than The Sweet'
4. 'Love Me, Love Me, Love Me'
5. 'Pass It On'
6. 'Making Love'
7. 'Take This Love of Mine'
8. 'Precious, Precious'
9. 'Sweeter Than The Sweet' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
10. 'Love Me, Love Me, Love Me' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
As I'm sure we all are fully aware, The Staples Singers have been making religious and secular music albums for a long time. As aforementioned, they got a few national hits out of Memphis with Stax records, but their finest albums were recorded in Chicago.
Freedom Highway on Columbia/Epic and the two Curtis Mayfield productions Let's Do It Again and this record, Pass It On are of The Staples' very best work, in my humble opinion.
This particular recording possesses all of the elements of soul starting with compositions and guitar accompaniment of Curtis Mayfield with Pops, Mavis and the Staples family singing with carefree abandon.
The band, including Phil Upchurch, Lucky Scott and Master Henry Gibson burn on every track making sure that Pass It On has gone down as containing some real top shelf soul tracks.
In his liner notes, Grammy®-Award winning writer (and Stax musicologist) Rob Bowman sets the scene for Pass It On's reissue: “Basking in the glow of the tremendous acclaim for their first post-Stax album, the Curtis Mayfield-produced Let’s Do It Again, both The Staple Singers and their record company had every reason to believe that they could count on substantive commercial success for the foreseeable future."
“In early summer 1976, Pops, Mavis, Cleotha, and Yvonne were once again ensconced at Mayfield’s Curtom Studios in Chicago. As was the case with Let’s Do It Again, backing was provided by the crack Curtom house band: Mayfield himself, handling the lead guitar chores, with Phil Upchurch and Gary Thompson playing rhythm guitar, Joseph ‘Lucky’ Scott holding down the bass chair, Master Henry 3 Gibson conjuring up his supernaturally funky conga and bongo parts, the trap drum kit split between Quinton Joseph and Donelle Hagen, with Rich Tufo playing keys and crafting the arrangements."
'Pass It On: Expanded Edition' CD Official Purchase Link
Let’s Do It Again: Expanded Edition (1975)
1. 'Let's Do It Again'
2. 'Funky Love'
3. 'A Whole Lot of Love'
4. 'New Orleans'
5. 'I Want to Thank You'
6. 'Big Mac'
7. 'After Sex'
9. 'This Train' (Controllers) [Bonus Track]
10. 'You Ain't Fooling Me' (Controllers) [Bonus Track]
11. 'Somebody's Gotta Win' (Controllers) [Bonus Track]
This Curtis Mayfield-penned and The Staple Singers-performed soundtrack to the highly successful 1975 comedy film starring Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby and Jimmie Walker spawned a hit #1 song in the title track (on both the R&B and Pop charts) with Gil Askey and Rich Tufo both being responsible for the arrangements.
As Stax neared bankruptcy, The Staples signed with Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label for this soundtrack album and, as aforementioned, the title track was a #1 hit with 'New Orleans' reaching #70 -- returning The Staples to the upper echelons of the charts for the last time.
Let’s Do It Again, the movie, was a big hit, too. It was a blaxploitation buddy comedy, the second of three from director Sidney Poitier.
Poitier teamed up with the Bill Cosby and the two played clueless everyman husbands attempted to pull off a big con by fixing a boxing match.
Jimmie Walker, already making a name for himself on Good Times, plays the hopeless boxer Bootney Farnsworth, and Poitier and Cosby turn him into a contender by hypnotizing him. Calvin Lockhart plays a crime boss named Biggie Smalls; that’s where the name comes from.
In his liner notes for Let’s Do It Again, Bowman explains: “Soundtrack albums are a genre unto themselves. They often contain a great title song, but commonly the bulk of the material on these albums are extended versions of instrumental bits that were written to serve the visual narrative of the film rather than to be listened to repeatedly unto themselves."
"In the case of Let’s Do It Again, the title track, ‘New Orleans’ and the soul nourishing melody and groove of ‘I Want To Thank You’ make this particular soundtrack an absolutely essential part of The Staple Stingers’ oeuvre. When it was originally released, the album reached #5 on the R&B album charts and #20 on the pop charts.”
'Let's Do It Again: Expanded Edition' CD Official Purchase Link
Family Tree: Expanded Edition< (1977)
1. 'Family Tree'
2. 'What You Doing Tonight'
3. 'See A Little Further (Than My Bed)'
4. 'I Honestly Love You'
5. 'Hang Loose'
6. 'Let's Go To The Disco'
7. 'Color Me Higher'
8. 'Boogie For The Blues'
9. 'I Honestly Love You' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
10. 'Let's Go To The Disco' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
I mean, and straight off the bat, the way Mavis does 'I Honestly Love You,' making it her own, to this day, well, in my humble opinion, no one has come close to her style or delivery!
So if you hadn't guessed already, Family Tree returned the group to a more familiar Staples sound. Once again, Pop is heard, and Cleo and Yvonne are upfront of the mix with Mavis.
Eugene Record's production of the album - featuring strong vocal and rhythm tracks - captures the energy in The Staples' performance. Tracks such as 'Boogie For The Blues' and 'Let's Go To The Disco' - two of the best songs on the album - were written by Aretha's sister Carolyn Franklin.
Let's Go to the Disco' has the fastest bassline in town, and the strings make Van McCoy sound plain, so whilst The Staples' message may not be very substantial, the sound is still good.
In his liner notes for Family Tree, Bowman explains: "For Family Tree, the decision was made to hire a very different Chicago-based producer and songwriter, Eugene Record."
"Record had come to fame in the early 1970s with the Chi-Lites, co-writing and singing lead on a string of hits including ‘Have You Seen Her,’ ‘Oh Girl’ and ‘(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People'."
"When the Chi-Lites’ label, Brunswick Records, ran into financial difficulty in 1975, Record opted to go solo and signed a four-album deal with Warner Bros., the same label that The Staple Singers were signed to.”
'Family Tree: Expanded Edition' CD Official Purchase Link
Unlock Your Mind: Expanded Edition (1979)
1. 'Chica Boom'
2. 'Don't Burn Me'
3. '(Shu-Doo-Pa-Poo-Poop) Love Being with a Fool'
4. 'Show Down'
5. 'Unlock Your Mind'
6. 'Handwriting on the Wall'
7. 'Mystery Train'
8. 'Leave It All Up to Love'
9. 'I Want You to Dance'
10. 'God Can'
11. 'Chica Boom' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
Featuring two songs by American funk and soul singer/songwriter Paul Kelly, a cult favorite, and a personal vocal hero of mine, Kelly should have gotten The Staples to sing more of his tunes because they sound better interpreting them than he does!
Kelly's 'God Can' and 'Don't Burn Me,' benefit from the singing and recording technique because, in all truth (sorry), Kelly's own recordings sounded like he cut them in a closet!
The productions by Jerry Wexler and Barry Becket are first-class but the material is third-rate, in truth (again, sorry). Other than the two Paul Kelly songs, 'Leave It All Up to Love,' and the percolating 'Chica Boom,' there's not much else to get excited for on their one before last album.
The album was produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, aside from those other songs, there isn’t a whole lot happening with this one, but it has a nice, even pop/gospel flow to it and for that alone, it's worthy of a delightful reissue.
In his liner notes for the Unclock Your Mind reissue, Bowman writes: "As the sun rose on January 1st, 1978, The Staple Singers were struggling to stay relevant."
"Over the past quarter century the group had risen through the ranks of the gospel world, single-handily founded the sub-genre soul folk and had become soul music superstars when they recorded for Stax Records in the first half of the 1970s."
"After Stax encountered financial trouble leading to eventual bankruptcy, the Staples signed a three-album deal with Warner Bros. The new arrangement got off to a great start with the group’s first post-Stax single, the Curtis Mayfield written and produced ‘Let’s Do It Again,’ topping the charts in late 1975."
"Since then the Staples had recorded a second album with Mayfield, 1976’s Pass It On, and a third Warner Bros. album produced by former Chi-Lite Eugene Record, 1977’s Family Tree."
"With each new release, the group found themselves slipping further and further down the R&B charts while missing the pop charts altogether. A radical solution was called for."
All these new editions feature liner notes from Grammy®-Award winning author, Rob Bowman and add all single edits issued for the album as bonus tracks.
The reissues are produced and remastered by Grammy®-winners, Cheryl Pawelski and Michael Graves respectively, and include photos and ephemera in the booklets.
'Unlock Your Mind: Expanded Edition' CD Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Pure Tango'
Artist - Julio Botti
In late 2017, maestro Julio Botti was introduced to pianist Matias Lanfranco in Botti's hometown of Bell Ville, which is about 200 kilometers south of Cordoba.
It was there that they performed a few tunes together, clicking instantly.
Lanfranco hails from a more traditional tango tradition that features folkloric music, whereas Botti integrates modern jazz and nuevo tango. Yet they blended seamlessly.
Their music caught the attention of many in the audience, which led to the duo performing at the Teatro Coliseo in Argentina on September 8th, 2018.
The concert was a sold out giant success, but it was also a somber event. "I realized that it would likely be the last concert that my mother would witness," said Botti.
His mother who had struggled valiantly against cancer was experiencing an advancement of the illness. Tragically and sadly, she passed away just four months after the concert.
Wanting to pay tribute and honor his mother, Botti knew what he had to do: record an album that featured music from that seminal concert, the last one where she heard her virtuoso son perform.
Botti and Lanfranco poured themselves into selecting the repertoire and crafting sophisticated arrangements. Lanfranco came to New York to record the set, first tracking saxophone and piano, and later the rest of the instruments and vocals in Cordoba, Argentina.
"I'm very happy with how the album turned out," said Botti, who also commended Lanfranco for his remarkable professionalism and for demonstrating maturity beyond his years. "This production is a new path for me, celebrating traditional tango, music which I had never performed, but was always somewhere within me."
Ergo, Pure Tango is a blend between the vivid colors that traditional tango offers, with its traditional instrumentation and the compelling sound of Botti’s saxophone.
He brings rich experience to his performances, as he phrases and interprets the melodies with dexterity and elegance.
This vibrant new album balances fresh and modern without losing the vintage sound of the old guard of tango rhythms, arrangements, and repertoire.
1. 'Taquito Militar' (3:11)
2. 'Cualquiera De Estas Noches' (3:48)
3. 'El Día Que Me Quieras' (4:44)
4. 'Cuando Llueve' (4:53)
5. 'El Último Café' (3:54)
6. 'Oro Y Plata' (3:54)
7. 'Nostalgias' (4:46)
8. 'Zamba Del Chaguanco' (4:31)
9. 'Una Canción' (4:21)
10 'Recordando' (5:24)
11. 'Nunca Tuvo Novio' (4:43)
Opening with the perky piano and sax melodies of 'Taquito Militar' (which, as most all do, features Leonardo Pedrozo Avila on bass), up next is the more elegantly profound 'Cualquiera De Estas Noches' (featuring vocals from María Jose Rojas and Valeria Martín on violin), the artistic charm of 'El Día Que Me Quieras,' and then both Gustavo Gancedo's Spanish guitar-led 'Cuando Llueve,' and the passion of 'El Último Café' are brought forth (the latter, once again featuring the lush vocals of Rojas).
The upbeat and funky 'Oro Y Plata' (featuring Silvia Lallana on vocals and Federico Seimandi on bass) is next and that's backed by the yearning of 'Nostalgias' (featuring Alejandro Colombatti on bandoneon), which in turn is followed by the expressive 'Zamba Del Chaguanco' (again featuring vocals from Lallana, with Gancedo on guitar, and Mario Gusso on percussions).
This delightful album then rounds out with the soulfully ardent 'Una Canción' (featuring vocals from Rojas), the wistful 'Recordando' (featuring Qunitino Cinalli on percussion), and then comes to a close with the lo-fi masterpiece, 'Nunca Tuvo Novio.'
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Title - 'Bluesville'
Artist - Swingadelic
For those not in the know, on their fourth ZOHO CD release, Bluesville, NY City's premier swing orchestra gives the unique Swingadelic treatment to 12 vintage big band blues of Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, Count Basie, Ray Charles and others, and two band member originals.
Swingadelic began in 1998 as the neo-swing movement was cresting. Upright bassist Dave Post gathered his jazz & blues playing friends together to play engagements at New York City's Supper Club, Swing 46 and Windows On The World, the former restaurant atop of the World Trade Center.
As the swing scene waned the band was able to turn to swing dance groups, concerts, festivals, schools and private engagements to keep active.
The band plays about 100 dates per year and has traveled from Maine to Atlanta and has maintained a residency for eight years at Swing 46 in NYC - where it performs every other Monday as a ten piece "little big band."
Celebrating their 22nd Anniversary this May with the release of their 8th album, the aforementioned Bluesville the band that has been recording for the ZOHO Music label since 2011 now unleash 14 tracks that are sure to get both your heart and feet pumping!
1. 'The Late, Late Show' (Vocal)
2. 'I Love The Life I Live'
3. 'Harlem Nocturne'
4. 'Mary Ann'
5. 'What's Your Story, Morning Glory'
6. 'Parchman Farm'
7. 'Lonely Avenue'
8. 'El Blues Eas Mujer'
9. 'I Don't Know'
10. 'Riff’n on McGriff’n'
11. 'Fool's Paradise'
12. 'The Mooche'
13. 'You're Humbuggin' Me'
14. 'The Late Late Show' (Instrumental)
Opening with the finger-snappin' delight, and definitive nod toward the great Count Basie Orchestra on 'The Late, Late Show' (sung by John Bauers with Bryan Davis on the trumpet solo), they back that up seamlessly with both the blues shuffle of 'I Love The Life I Live' (sung by Neal Pawley, with Bill Easley on sax and Kyle Koehler on the Hammond B3 organ), and then the lush, lo-fi orchestrations of 'Harlem Nocturne' (featuring Audrey Welber on alto and Boo Reiners wailing on lap steel, on this classic Earle Hagen arrangement).
Next we get a loving rendition of Ray Charles' 'Mary Ann' (featuring Bauers on vocals), which is followed by one of my all-time Ella Fitzgerald songs, the sexy blues of 'What’s Your Story, Morning Glory' (sung here by Vanessa Perea).
Then we get another stand out cut in the form of Mose Allison’s 'Parchment Farm' (sung by Mitch Woods, with Andy Riedel on guitar and Philly's Jimmy Coleman on drums), and that is backed by another Ray Charles hit 'Lonely Avenue' (featuring Bauers on vocals, a bari sax solo by John DiSanto, and Koehler on organ).
Another track done to perfection is up next and is one where the worlds of blues and pop collide. With the blues inspired by Danish Latin Jazz vibes player Cal Tjader, and the master of pop, Quincy Jones also standing loud and proud, and with guitar by Joe Taino and trombone by Alex Jeun, 'El Blues Esa Mujer' is a hip shakin', right royal beauty, that's for sure.
The sultry R&B, smoky jazz club vibe of 'I Don’t Know' featuring Ruth Brown, the original vocalist on this Brook Benton tune, is then followed by the funky guitar work on 'Riff’n on McGriff’n' from Riedel (which also features Koehler on organ), and then the lowbrow yearning of Charles Brown's 'Fool's Paradise' (with vocals again from Bauers).
This quite magnificent, stunningly observant and dedicated to its artful cause album then rounds out with Duke Ellington's infamous 1928 hit 'The Mooch' (featuring solos by Ken Robinson on clarinet, Reiners on guitar and Carlos Francis on trumpet), Lefty Frizzell's upbeat 'You’re Humbuggin’ Me' (sung by Riedel with Pawley on trombone), and then comes to a close on the so-nice-they-did-it-twice, 'The Late, Late Show' (instrumental).
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Title - 'Self Control: Expanded Edition' [2CD]
Artist - Laura Branigan
For those not in the know, Laura Branigan (July 3rd, 1952 – August 26th, 2004) was an American singer, songwriter, and actress.
Her signature song, the platinum-certified 1982 single 'Gloria', stayed on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 36 weeks, then a record for a female artist, peaking at #2 (it also reached #1 in Australia and Canada).
In 1984, she reached #1 in Canada and Germany with the U.S. #4 hit 'Self Control' and she also had further success in the United Kingdom with both 'Gloria' and 'Self Control' making the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
Seeing her greatest level of success in the 1980s, Branigan's other singles included the Top 10 hit 'Solitaire' (1983), the U.S. AC chart #1 'How Am I Supposed to Live Without You' (1983), the Australian #2 hit 'Ti amo' (1984), and 'The Power of Love' (1987).
She also contributed songs to motion picture and television soundtracks, including the Grammy and Academy Award-winning Flashdance soundtrack (1983), and the Ghostbusters soundtrack (1984).
In 1985, she won the Tokyo Music Festival with the song 'The Lucky One', but her chart success began to wane as the decade closed and after her last two albums -- Laura Branigan (1990) and Over My Heart (1993) -- garnered little attention, she generally retired from public life for the rest of the 1990s.
She began returning to performing in the early 2000s, most notably appearing as Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical Love, Janis, but sadly, and as she was recording new music and preparing a comeback to the music industry, she died at her home in August 2004 from a previously undiagnosed cerebral aneurysm.
Indeed, with her most successful album being 1984's platinum-selling Self Control, Cherry Pop UK have just released a quite wondrous new 2CD Expanded Edition of her third studio album.
Self Control was released, I kid you not, on April 1st, 1984, by Atlantic Records. The album peaked at #23 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Internationally, it charted within the top five in several continental European countries.
1. 'The Lucky One'
2. 'Self Control'
3. 'Ti Amo'
5. 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow'
7. 'Silent Partners'
8. 'Breaking Out'
9. 'Take Me'
10. 'With Every Beat of My Heart'
Disc One features the original Self Control album that was released in April 1984. Recorded in Los Angeles and Munich with production by Jack White and Robbie Buchanan it also features renowned musicians such as Harold Faltermeyer (synthesizers), John Robinson (drums), Paul Jackson Jr. (guitar), Nathan East (bass) and Michael Landau (guitar).
This album, and one that I've always had a soft spot for growing up in the UK, opens with the fun, mid-'80s Steinman-esque pop bounce of 'The Lucky One' (and where the video showed off Branigan's horse riding abilities) and that's backed by the lush, gentle pop hipsway of Branigan's cover version of Raf's 'Self Control'.
Next up is her cover of Umberto Tozzi's mid-tempo ballad 'Ti Amo' which is itself followed by the synth and drum-led bass line of 'Heart,' the yearning magnificence of the Gerry Goffin and Carole King beauty 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' and then the synth-laden 'Satisfaction.'
The piano and percussion-orchestrated ballad (complete with wailing guitar break) 'Silent Partners' is then backed by the frenetic workout duo of both 'Breaking Out' and 'Take Me,' with the original album rounding out with Branigan showcasing her husky vocal tones to pure perfection on the euphoric 'With Every Beat of My Heart.'
1. 'Self Control' (Extended Version)
2. 'Self Control' (Edit)
3. 'Self Control' (Classic Summer Mix 1992)
4. 'Self Control' (117 BPM Club 1992)
5. 'The Lucky One' (Single Version)
6. 'The Lucky One' (Jack White Mix)
7. 'The Lucky One' (John Robie Mix)
8. 'Satisfaction' (Single Version)
9. 'Satisfaction' (Special Dance Mix)
10. 'When' (Single Version)
11. 'Hot Night' (From "Ghostbusters" Original Soundtrack)
Disc Two features all the related bonus material of Laura Branigan from this period. There are four (4) versions of her international hit, ‘Self Control’ (inclusive of two remixes of the track dating back to a German re-release of the track in 1992), with her follow up single 'The Lucky One' being featured three (3) times.
There are also two (2) versions of ‘Satisfaction’, with the track before last, the Branigan-written 'When' (Single Version) being a magnificent, if not at times haunting mid-tempo ballad that aches and yearns for her rhetorical question to be answered.
Culminating with the synth pop delight 'Hot Night' from the Ghostbusters soundtrack, Disc Two packs in a lot of various mixes of only three songs which, sure, for fans they are all rather lovely to hear even today, but in some cases, a little overkill at the same time.
This 2CD expanded edition features the original album artwork, extensive sleeve notes and a comprehensive UK Discography and is the most comprehensive collection of this period of her career.
Laura Branigan released seven studio albums for Atlantic Records spanning 1982-1993 enjoying considerable domestic and international success.
Official 2CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Chaos Islands'
Artist - Zanov
For those not in the know, electronic music composer and synthesizer virtuoso, Zanov has been active one the musical scene since 1976.
He studied piano and guitar, but the turning point was in summer 1975, when he discovered the fascinating world of synthesizers that was to follow.
Indeed, he set up his home studio with legendary synthesizers as EMS VCS3, ARP 2600, RMI harmonic synthesizer and started to compose.
Zanov had to understand the scientific foundations of sound synthesis and master the various playing techniques to a certain level of routine, to play and compose in a fluid way, while being led by his personal emotions.
In France, he is one of the first musicians to innovate in the universe of electronic music, breaking the limits of conventional music, caring about details and perfection.
He composed three albums between 1976 and 1982 (Green Ray, Moebius and In Course of Time), which are engraved in the memories of electronic music lovers.
It was then that Zanov took a self-imposed, and long hiatus, but music kept playing an important part in his mind, and so come 2014, he kickstarted his music bent and brought out Virtual Future (which was followed in 2016 by Open Worlds).
For his brand new album, Chaos Islands (due out June 15th, 2020), Zanov found his inspiration in the Chaos Theory, which has guided his thinking for a very long time.
For he composes music that is both simple and complex, orderly and unpredictable, from which emerge beauty, emotions and surprises at the edge of chaos.
1. 'Edge of Chaos Island' (7:16)
2. 'Inception Island' (6:18)
3. 'Strange Attractor Island' (6:52)
4. 'Three Body Island' (6:46)
5. 'Phase Space Island' (8:10)
6. 'Instability Island' (6:57)
7. 'Emergence Island' (6:17)
This quite vibrantly remarkable new spatially sonic journey of an album opens with the orchestral, cinematic essence of 'Edge of Chaos Island' and follows that seamlessly with both the, at times, foreboding, yet always ethereal 'Inception island' and then the synth scenescape of 'Strange Attractor Island.'
Next up is the creeping, eerily effervescent score 'Three Body Island' which is backed by the early '80s synth work of 'Phase Space Island,' the dense, thought provoking dearth of 'Instability Island,' before the album comes to a close on the somewhat lighter, wave-inspired 'Emergence Island.'
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Title - 'Destination Venus'
Artist - Steinar Karlsen
For those not in the know, on his fifth album, Destination Venus, Norwegian guitar wizard Steinar Karlsen continues his musical journeys within in the landscape of instrumental rock.
Inspired by artists such as Ry Cooder, Marc Ribot and Pink Floyd Destination Venus is a spectacular and extraterrestrial travel you will remember for a long time.
On his brand new album (out May 8th, 2020), which contains twelve original compositions and which was recorded in Amper Tone, Oslo, Norway, Karlsen -- whose other albums include: Ulydium (2011), Hanens død (2013), Tog til Sunnfjord (2015), and Tur (2015) -- Karlsen continues to being forth his excellent, and highly dedicated love for instrumental music.
1. 'The Goodbye' (4:59)
2. 'Night Flight' (2:24)
3. 'The Karman Line' (3:32)
4. 'Weightless' (0:58)
5. 'Picnic on the Moon ' (2:33)
6. 'Space Camel' (3:09)
7. 'Monsters' (3:45)
8. 'The Trip' (3:15)
9. 'Red Skies' (1:46)
10. 'Venus' (2:36)
11. 'A Billion Stars' (5:02)
12. 'Acid Rain' (1:57)
opens with the cool, mid-tempo, lo-fi surf flow of 'The Goodbye' and backs that up seamlessly with the short, but sweet, perky and yet darkly feisty 'Night Flight,' the drum-led 'The Karman Line' and then, at just under a minute, the effervescent 'Weightless.'
Next up is the light and breezy hipsway of 'Picnic on the Moon' which is followed by the thoughtful, constructively scenic 'Space Camel,' and then both the ghostly dancefloor shuffle of 'Monsters,' and then the bright and bouncy ambiance of 'The Trip.'
The album then rounds out with a short delve into the Heavens on 'Red Skies,' the bouncy pop vibe found within 'Venus,' and then comes to a close on one of my own personal favorites, the thoughtful, precisely intricate, hopefully and aspirational, and yet yearning and longing of 'A Billion Stars,' and then ends with the industrial laser tones and drum-saddled back beat of 'Acid Rain.'
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Steiner Karlsen @ Facebook!
Title - 'Harmony Tales'
Artist - Pablo Embon
For those not in the know, Pablo Embon has released an amazing 19 albums to date with all his music having been performed, recorded, mixed and produced by himself.
Pablo originally hails from Argentina, where he learned from famed classical guitarist Eduardo Isaac and from an early age poured his time and energy into crafting every detail of this instrumental exhibition of his albums.
Amongst the 12 tracks here on his brand new album, Harmony Tales (out May 11th, 2020), there are a multitude of jazz stylings, which all ebb and flow magnificently throughout this quite breathtaking new musical experience.
1. 'Vintage Lover' (5:07)
2. 'Calling Out' (5:30)
3. 'For the Ones You Love' (4:03)
4. 'Nothing Left Behind' (4:27)
5. 'Song of India' (4:47)
6. 'Taste of Freedom' (2:47)
7. 'My Little Magic Box' (4:19)
8. 'The Voice of Truth' (5:21)
9. 'Too Far, Too Close' (4:55)
10. 'Midnight Lullaby' (3:19)
11. 'Our Time' (5:41)
12. 'The Best of Me (Remix)' (3:50)
Opening with the breezy ambiance of 'Vintage Lover,' that's backed by the dulcet piano work of 'Calling Out,' the beautiful, gentle hipsway of 'For the Ones You Love,' and then both the quietly orchestrated 'Nothing Left Behind' and the enthralling, almost cinematic depth of 'Song of India.'
Next up is the short, but sweet perkiness of 'Taste of Freedom' which is backed seamlessly by one of my own personal favorites, the melodic 'My Little Magic Box.'
The upbeat 'The Voice of Truth' is another stand out track here and is followed by the earnest approach to 'Too Far, Too Close,' and the temperate tranquility of 'Midnight Lullaby,' with the album coming to a close on the free flowing 'Our Time,' and then a simply divine 'The Best of Me (Remix).'
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Pablo Embon @ Facebook!
Title - 'Champagne And Brass'
Artist - Moon Over Mountain
For those not in the know, Moon Over Mountain is Kenneth Lee Roberts and Megan Buness, and this quite wonderful duo ensemble was formed in 2012 -- where they began to work out a fresh new sound; unlike any other in the world today.
Profoundly moving, at times painfully beautiful, the music of Moon Over Mountain cannot easily be forgotten once heard.
With its mix of New Age Pop and electronic instrumental music, their debut album The Colors Of Life (2019) impressed music fans, young and old, from all around the world.
Now, here in 2020, group founders Roberts and Buness return with their sophomore album, Champagne And Brass (released March 6th, 2020).
With this second album, the duo continue onward with their subtle and sublime approach to both vocal and instrumental music.
The 12-track album offers yet another memorable blend of instrumental and keyboard-based electronica, along with some experimental, yet accessible songs with vocals.
Some come with lyrics and some with synthesized, wordless vocals that serve to entertain and even startle the listener, all in a good way, of course.
1. 'Champagne & Brass' (3:20)
2. 'First Snowfall' (4:30)
3. 'Alone in the City' (4:05)
4. 'Have Our Dreams Come to This?' (5:49)
5. 'Close to My Heart' (2:06)
6. 'The Man Who Spoke 10,000 Truths' (5:14)
7. 'Evening Falls' (4:02)
8. 'Kyoto 21' (1:21)
9. 'Colorado Dreaming' (6:23)
10. 'Passing Sacred Ground' (2:50)
11. 'Welcome to Life' (3:26)
12. 'A O C' (3:43)
Opening with the euphoric title tack, 'Champagne & Brass,' they back that with the more tranquil, Far East-inspired 'First Snow,' the gently drum-led 'Alone in the City,' and then my own personal favorite here, the magnificently vibrant, alluring and ambient 'Have Our Dreams Come to This?.'
Next up is the short, Choir-inspired, and multi-tracked 'Close to My Heart,' which is followed by the slightly sterner, yet nonetheless serene, wordless electronic vocals of 'The Man Who Spoke 10,000 Truths,' and then the beautifully vocalized 'Evening Falls.'
At just over a minute, we next get the experimental vibe of 'Kyoto 21' which is backed by the longest track on the album, at just over six minutes, the foot-tappin' 'Colorado Dreaming,' a profoundly earnest 'Passing Sacred Ground,' with the album coming to a close on the mid-tempo orchestrations of 'Welcome to Life,' ending with an upbeat electronic party in the form of ' A O C' (which is dedicated to Congresswoman Cortez from NYC).
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Title - 'Blues With Friends'
Artist - Dion
Blues With Friends, the new studio album of blues originals from Dion, is packed with a great batch of songs written during a productive time coming off his latest release.
When the legendary Joe Bonamassa was eager to be involved, it inspired Dion, who turns 81 on July 18th, to invite others to join the project. He says, "I wanted the best musicians alive like Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Van Morrison and more to take them in unexpected directions. Wayne Hood, my producer, brought out the best of them."
1. 'Blues Comin' On' (with Joe Bonamassa)
2. 'Kickin' Child' (with Joe Menza)
3. 'Uptown Number 7' (with Brian Setzer)
4. 'Can't Start Over Again' (with Jeff Beck)
5. 'My Baby Loves To Boogie' (with John Hammond)
6. 'I Got Nothin' (with Van Morrison & Joe Louis Walker)
7. 'Stumbling Blues' (with Jimmy & Jerry Vivino)
8. 'Bam Bang Boom' (with Billy Gibbons)
9. 'I Got The Cure' (with Sonny Landreth)
10. 'Song For Sam Cooke (Here In America)' (with Paul Simon)
11. 'What If I Told You' (with Samantha Fish)
12. 'Told You Once In August' (with John Hammond & Rory Block)
13. 'Way Down (I Won't Cry No More)' (with Stevie Van Zandt)
14. 'Hymn To Him' (with Patti Scialfa & Bruce Springsteen)
Released this past June 5th, 2020 via KTBA Records (a new label, started by Bonamassa and his manager Roy Weisman, that is an offshoot of Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation), this terrific album opens with the pulsating blues rock of 'Blues Comin’ On' (featuring Joe Bonamassa) and backs that up with the two-step boogie of 'Kickin' Child' (featuring Joe Menza), the finger-snappin' funk, and old-fashioned Gospel number in the style of the Golden Gate Quartet, of 'Uptown Number 7' (featuring Brian Setzer's rockabilly riffs), and then the tempo is brought down for the mid-tempo, country blues ballad 'Can’t Start Over Again' (featuring Jeff Beck).
Next up is the down south, harmonica-driven 'My Baby Loves To Boogie' (featuring John Hammond), which is backed by some lowdown and funky guitar grooves within 'I Got Nothin’ (featuring Van Morrison and Joe Louis Walker), with one of my own personal favorites, the lush evenflow of 'Stumbling Blues' (featuring both Jimmy and Jerry Vivino) along next.
The swamp shuffle blues rock of 'Bam Bang Boom' (featuring Billy Gibbons, a song about Dion meeting his wife) is then backed by both the upbeat and rapturous 'I Got The Cure' (featuring Sonny Landreth), and then the simply exquisite Americana folk hipsway 'Song For Sam Cooke (Here In America)' (a duet featuring Paul Simon) is brought forth.
'What If I Told You' featuring Samantha Fish is a lovely Summer's day breeze of a track and that's followed by 'Told You Once In August' (a foot-tappin', steel guitar, porch-swayin' get together of raw Delta blues, featuring both John Hammond and Rory Block), with the album coming to a close on mid-tempo rock of 'Way Down (I Won’t Cry No More)' (featuring Stevie Van Zandt), and then the Americana storytelling of 'Hymn To Him' (featuring the layered vocals of Patti Scialfa, and a beautiful, soulful guitar solo from Bruce Springsteen).
"I wanted an album of songs that were strong and memorable and told stories that were worth telling<" Dion further explains. "The blues have been at the heart of my music since the early 1960s."
"‘The Wanderer’ is a 12-bar blues and I was covering Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed in my early years at Columbia — much to the dismay of my corporate masters.”
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Title - 'Color Wheel'
Artist - Aaron Jay Kernis
For those not in the know, Pulitzer Prize recipient and GRAMMY award-winner Aaron Jay Kernis is one of Americas most performed composers.
Indeed, both works on this brand new album exemplify his creative approach to orchestral composition, sharing elements in common, such as virtuoso percussion writing and the use of variation form.
Color Wheel (released June 12th, 2020 via Naxos American) -- which was composed especially for the Philadelphia Orchestra's opening concerts in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and in celebration of the orchestra's centennial -- is an exuberant miniature concerto for orchestra with a wide array of contrasts, whilst 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon" explores the coexistence of opposing musical forces to powerful, pensive, and touching effect.
Champions of new American music, the Nashville Symphony and its music director Giancarlo Guerrero had premiered numerous works, and received 13 GRAMMY Awards including two for Best Orchestral Performance.
Among their award-winning recordings include works by Michael Daugherty, Stephen Paulus, and Jennifer Higdon.
The two works on this recording share much in common: from the virtuosic, percussion-rich approach to orchestral writing to the fundamental use of variation as a unifying and essential creative compositional approach.
Though written more than 15 years apart, the two works are like related family members – one brash and exuberant, the other more serious and pensive in intent, though no less bold in manner.
1. 'Color Wheel' (2001) (22:30)
2. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": I. Out of Silence' (11:20)
3. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": II. Thorn Rose (Weep Freedom) [After G.F. Handel]' (12:17)
4. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": III. Fanfare Chomelodia' (5:50)
Opening with the twenty-two minute title track, 'Color Wheel' -- which is actually dedicated, with love, to Kemis' wife, Evelyne Luest -- it is a most vibrant, at times Disney-esque, at others both furtive and adventurous, whilst always triumphantly confident in its soaring passages track, that then bleeds seamlessly into some fervent and rather, at times, foreboding dips and swirls found within 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": I. Out of Silence.'
In much the same vein, yet tinged with a more hopefully, playful spell of free flowing musical wonderment, 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": II. Thorn Rose (Weep Freedom) [After G.F. Handel]' is then backed by the shortest piece, the just under six minute, at times delicate and anchored, yet almost always harboring a flighty spirit of 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": III. Fanfare Chomelodia.'
"Two visual elements have influenced Color Wheel,' Kernis explains. "Color Wheels are tools used by artists and designers "that teach color relationships by organizing colors in a circle so you can visualize how they relate to each other"."
"Most Color Wheels show primary colors and myriads of related hues. I feel that this piece concentrates on the bolder contrasts of basic primary colors."
"I sometimes see colors when I compose, and the qualities of certain chords do elicit specific sensation in me — for example, I see A major as bright yellow."
"I've also been fascinated with Sufi whirling dervishes and their ecstatic spinning. This work may have some ecstatic moments but it is full of tension, continuous energy and drive."
"Harmonically it explores a wide gamut of colors, from huge overtone-derived chords, strongly contrasting levels of consonance and dissonance and occasional touches of jazz harmony and syncopation -- re-surfacing from a period of study during high school at the old Temple University Annex on Walnut Street."
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Title - 'Adeva! Ultimate' [4CD Expanded Edition]
Artist - Adeva
For those not in the know, this expansive 4CD set of Adeva’s eponymous debut album brings together the most comprehensive collection of this seminal house/R&B release.
Originally released in August 1989, the album went on to sell in excess of 300,000 copies in the UK.
Adeva actually hails from New Jersey in the USA, but found her career taking shape in the UK when, after an indie single release on Easy Street Records, she was then signed by Cooltempo/Chrysalis.
This resulted in two albums, Adeva! and Love Or Lust and numerous singles being released.
In 1997 she released an album New Direction for Distinctive Records, but not before collaborating with Frankie Knuckles on two singles and the album.
The first CD features the 10 tracks of the original album plus seven bonus tracks with the single versions of five tracks, ‘Respect’, ‘Warning!’, ‘I Thank You’, ‘Beautiful Love’ and ‘Treat Me Right’.
Plus there’s the Club mix of ‘I Thank You’ and the dub mix of ‘Warning!’.
2. 'Treat Me Right'
3. 'I Thank You'
4. 'So Right'
5. 'In & Out of My Life'
7. 'I Don't Need You'
8. 'Beautiful Love'
10. 'Musical Freedom'
11. 'I Thank You' (Club Mix)
12. 'Warning!' (Dub Mix)
13. 'Respect' (Single Version)
14. 'Warning!' (Single Version)
15. 'I Thank You' (Single Version)
16. 'Beautiful Love' (Single Version)
17. 'Treat Me Right' (Single Version)
The album opens with the sonic reach of the single 'Respect' (UK #17), and backs that up with the mellower 'Treat Me Right (UK #62), the low key R&B, dancefloor shuffle of 'I Thank You' (UK #17), and then both the Loleatta Holloway-esque 'So Right,' and the dancefloor passion of 'In & Out of My Life.'
The powerful 'Warning!" (yet another UK #17!) is up next and is followed by the dubstep dance of 'I Don't Need You,' the smooth and soulful 'Beautiful Love,' and then both Russ Kip Moore's sax-led magnificence on 'Promises,' with, for my money, the albums standout track, 'Musical Freedom' (UK #22) featuring Paul Simpson and Carmen Marie bringing the original album to a close.
This expanded edition now adds a pumped up 'I Thank You (Club Mix),' a funky 'Warning! (Dub Mix) instrumental,' and then simply Single Versions of 'Respect,' 'Warning!', 'I Thank You,' 'Beautiful Love' and 'Treat Me Right.'
The second CD features 13 tracks of remixes, dub versions plus bonus beats of the singles including Dancin’ Danny D’s remix of ‘Respect’ along with five other mixes of the track.
There’s two remixes of ‘Warning!’ – High On Hope Mix and Zanzibar Mix and these are accompanied by the ‘I Thank You’ Remixes – Original Club Mix, The New Jersey Mix, Somehouse Somewhere Mix, and Paul Simpson’s The Philadelphia Mix.
1. 'Respect' (Dancin' Danny D Remix)
2. 'Respect' (Bonus Beats)
3. 'Respect' (Accapella)
4. 'Respect' (Extended Version)
5. 'Respect' (Rough Mix)
6. 'Respect' (Longer Dub Version)
7. 'Warning!' (High on Hope Mix)
8. 'Musical Freedom' (Adeva with Paul Simpson)
9. 'Warning!' (Zanzibar Mix)
10. 'I Thank You' (Original Club Mix)
11. 'I Thank You' (The New Jersey Mix)
12. 'I Thank You' (Somehouse Somewhere Mix)
13. 'I Thank You' (The Philadelphia Mix)
Featuring six (6) versions of 'Respect,' four (4) versions of 'I Thank You,' two (2) versions of 'Warning!' and one of 'Musical Freedom,' if you aren't Adeva'd out come the end of this second CD, you're obviously doing it wrong!
The third CD includes five ‘I Thank You’ mixes, two of which are by the Dancing Divas with their Club mix and Rhythm Mix, Love To Infinity provide two mixes, plus there’s remixes of the single ‘Beautiful Love’ including the Classic Club and Dream mixes by Frankie Knuckles.
Oh, and its 7" single B-side, ‘Promises’ also has three mixes included!
1. 'I Thank You' (Philly Dub Mix)
2. 'I Thank You' (Love to Infinity Mix)
3. 'I Thank You' (Dancing Divas Club Mix)
4. 'I Thank You' (Dancing Divas Rhythmn Mix)
5. 'I Thank You' (Love to Infinity Edit)
6. 'Beautiful Love' (Extended Mix)
7. 'Promises' (Extended)
8. 'Beautiful Love' (Instrumental)
9. 'Beautiful Love' (Remix)
10. 'Promises' (Truth Mix)
11. 'Beautiful Love' (Classic Club Mix)
12. 'Promises' (Broken Mix)
Again, we have an overload of certain tracks here, especially 'I Thank You' which comes at us five (5) more times (which now makes 9 times over the two discs, for those playing along at home!).
Snuggled lovingly amongst the four (4) versions of 'Beautiful Love' is one of my all-time Adeva favorites, the lesser known B-side 'Promises,' a funky dancefloor work of musical art, for sure.
The fourth, and final CD boasts four mixes of the sixth single from the album, ‘Treat Me Right’, various rare Smack Productions remixes of ‘Warning!’ that featured on a US only 12” single.
Other mixes include ‘Warning!’ 7” Edit and Capitol mix, the B-sides ‘Love To See You Dancing’ and ‘Love Is Special’.
1. 'Treat Me Right' (Smack Mix)
2. 'Love Is Special'
3. 'Treat Me Right' (Big Jam Mix)
4. 'Treat Me Right' (The Trumped Mix)
5. 'Treat Me Right' (The Taj Mahal)
6. 'Treat Me Right' (The JZJ Mix)
7. 'Warning!' (Capitol Mix)
8. 'Warning!' (You've Been Warned Mix)
9. 'Warning!' (Serious Lies Mix)
10. 'Warning!' (The Emergency Mix)
11. 'Warning!' (Final Warning Mix)
12. 'Warning!' (Dubstrumental)
13. 'Love to See You Dancing' (LP Version)
Well, what we have here are more versions of songs we've already had flooded down the pipeline at us, such as six (6) versions of 'Warning!' (which now makes eight in total), but we also get five (5) versions of 'Treat Me Right,' along with (for me, the true gold dust finds here, the 7" single B-side tracks, the light and fizzy 'Love Is Special' and mid-tempo, dancefloor slide of 'Love To See You Dancing’.
This 4 CD collection comes in a capacity wallet, with each CD in a paper wallet featuring related Adeva sleeve images from the period.
There is also a 24 page booklet including sleeve notes and a UK Discography which is housed within an outer sleeve featuring the original cover artwork.
Remixers featured across this 4CD set includes Frankie Knuckles, Smack Productions, Dancin’ Danny D, Paul Simpson, Dancing Divas, Love To Infinity, JZJ and Tony Humphries.
Official 4CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Love'
Artist - Staring Into Nothing
For those not in the know, Southern California based Staring Into Nothing wields a foundation of melodic rock to explore the human experience and venture into new musical/thematic terrain.
Members Steve Rogers (keys/vocals) and Kurt Barabas (bass/vocals/guitars) craft their sound with a love for strong melody and musical virtuosity.
Taking a Steely Dan-esque approach in the recording studio, the band has a revolving cast of world class collaborators.
In November of 2017, Staring Into Nothing’s debut album Power delves deeply into the many ways power is used to manipulate, control, and subjugate people.
Staring Into Nothing’s latest album Love (out now via Antares Records) probes the multiplicity and evolution of romantic love.
The album was produced and mixed by Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson, Steve Morse, Ulver) and features an exceptional line up of musicians including: Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Santana, Ringo Starr) on drums, Victor Bisetti (Los Lobos) on percussion, Mike Keneally (Zappa, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani) on guitars, Trey Gunn (King Crimson, John Paul Jones) on Warr Guitar, and Danny T. Levin (Iggy Pop, Twenty One Pilots, Vampire Weekend) on horns.
Lending her voice to the album, Savannah Rogers is featured as lead vocals on two tracks, including the 18-minute journey that is ‘Towers: The Ecstasy & The Agony’.
5. 'The Thin Line'
6. 'Beautiful Delusion'
7. 'Only Love'
8. 'The Ties That Bind'
9. 'Find Our Way Back'
10. 'To All'
12. 'Amazing Grace'
This quite magnificent album opens with the ambient rock of 'Winter,' which is followed up by the more upbeat 'Spring,' the euphoric 'Summer,' and then the early '70s psych rock feel of 'Autumn.'
The trippy dips and swirls of 'The Thin Line' makes this one of my own personal favorites and that's backed by the melodic notes of 'Beautiful Delusion,' and then both the harmonious, mid-tempo flow of 'Only Love' and the psych pop of 'The Ties That Bind.'
The sterner guitar rock of 'Find Our Way Back' is then followed by the more lush roll out of 'To All,' with the album coming to a close on the the foot-tappin' hipsway of 'Ashes,' with 'Amazing Grace' (no, not that one!) bringing this glorious musical experience to a close.
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Title - 'Life Motion'
Artist - Intelligent Music Project V
For those not in the know, the global rock inspiration Simon Phillips (drums and percussion, musical co-producer) joins once again the all-star line up assembled by Milen Vrabevski, MD to bring us the new album, Life Motion.
The team features the voice of Ritchie Blackmore`s Rainbow – Ronnie Romero (lead vocals) and the progressive vocal of the London based rock band River Hounds – Richard Grisman (vocals) and the great voice of John Payne (ex-Asia).
Intelligent Music Project V by Milen Vrabevski, MD showcases the chemistry and the creative style of all his previous IMP projects (I-IV): rich, guitar-centric, inspiring lyrics and empowering melodies.
The magic and high-end sound completed with the top-notch experts such as Ivo Stefanov (keyboards) and Simon Phillips himself, who are musical co-producers of Life Motion.
The band is completed with some of the leading Bulgarian musicians such as Bisser Ivanov (guitars) and Ivaylo Zvezdomirov (bass).
1. 'A Kind of Real Life'
2. 'Don't Let Them Win'
3. 'Where I Belong'
4. 'Letting Me In'
5. 'We Keep On Running'
6. 'By the Side of the Minute'
7. 'Run Away'
8. 'The Final Act'
10. 'Every Time'
12. 'The Things in Your Mind'
On an album that encompasses all things that move us forward in life, the ensemble open with the free flowing AOR of 'A Kind of Real Life' and that's backed by the guitar rock of 'Don't Let Them Win,' the quietly euphoric 'Where I Belong,' the anthemic, fist-pumping 'Letting Me In,' and then the down low, gruff rock 'n' roll of 'We Keep On Running.'
Up next is the beautiful mid-tempo piano ballad 'By the Side of the Minute,' the musical rock climb of one of my own personal favorites, 'Run Away,' and then we get the another ballad, this time incorporating the formidable storytelling found within 'The Final Act.'
Legendary drummer Simon Phillips (Toto, Protocol, Mike Oldfield, The Who) adds two solos for the songs 'Reflecting' and 'Rising,' with the ballad 'Every Time' sandwiched in between, before the album comes to a close on the orchestral magnificence of 'The Things in Your Mind.'
Milen Vrabevski, MD says: “I would like my children to grow up with the ideas I share in my albums, and instead of teaching them lectures about those ideas, I use the language of music, which is very universal and easy to understand.”
official Purchase Links
Title - 'Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine'
Artist - John McCutcheon
For those not in the know, John McCutcheon is an American folk music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has produced 40 albums to date since the 1970s.
Indeed, he is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer, and is also proficient on many other instruments including guitar, banjo, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, and jawharp.
This prolific folk instrumentalist and singer has now brought out a brand new, and completely unexpected album, Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine (out now, and only available as a download directly from John's website (see below).
Sequestered in his cabin in the North Georgia mountains, McCutcheon had returned from an Australian tour in mid-March, and due to COVID-19 had gone straight into a self-imposed quarantine.
It was there that McCutcheon proceeded to write a song a day for three weeks, fueled by long conversations with friends and long walks where he reflected on the past, present, and future.
With his characteristic humor and his winning way as a storyteller, McCutcheon pays tribute to health care workers, offers an homage to John Prine, and ponders the ambiguities of human nature in this collection of moving songs.
1. 'Front Line'
2. 'The Night That John Prine Died'
3. 'Sheltered in Place'
4. 'In Bristol Bay'
6. 'One Hundred Years'
7. 'Six Feet Away'
8. 'That's All'
9. 'Hallelujah Morning'
11. 'My Dog Talking Blues'
12. 'When All of This Is Over'
13. 'The Donkey'
14. 'The Bean'
15. 'Monet Refuses The Operation'
17. 'Traveler's Rest'
18. 'The Night That John Prine Died' (Original Lyrics)
The well-traveled troubadour (here in a much stripped-down setting, not only providing the vocals, but acoustic/resophonic guitars and piano parts and more, I wouldn't wonder), kicks things off with 'Front Line,' an adamantly strummed tribute to the hourly stress that all health care and essential workers have found themselves for months now.
He then backs that up with the passionately heartfelt, somber storytelling of an ode to the beloved late singer/songwriter on 'The Night That John Prine Died' (with its opening chords riding on a phrase from 'These Days,' poignantly honoring Prine, whilst artfully revivifying him in the chorus also), and then the ornate 'Sheltered in Place.'
The mid-tempo guitar flow of a melodic look at blue-collar life in Alaska’s fisheries industry within 'In Bristol Bay' is up next and is followed by stern nod-and-a-wink reminiscing of 'Control,' the dulcet, gospel piano work of the hymn-like 'One Hundred Years,' and then both the Celtic-tinged ballad 'Six Feet Away' and the Simon & Garfunkel-esque 'That's All.'
The fervently upbeat 'Hallelujah Morning' is then backed by the lonesome underlay of 'Vespers,' with the perky fun of 'My Dog Talking Blues,' the free flowing folk of both 'When All of This Is Over' and 'The Donkey,' with the spoken word, Merle Travis-inspired ode to the simple, but oh-so plentiful bean.
The gilded folk embroidery of 'Monet Refuses The Operation' allows McCutcheon to shine to absolute perfection, and then comes a rather humorous narrative (told from the perspective of our long-suffering planet) within 'Earth,' and then the album closes on the opulent Americana of 'Traveler's Rest,' and an "original lyric" version (which runs at just 19 seconds and, buyer beware, features a naughty word!) of 'The Night That John Prine Died.'
With his keen eye for the great within the small, his captivating storytelling, and his ability to go for the funny bone and the heart at once, Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine is truly vintage McCutcheon.
Official 'Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine' Digital Download Purchase Link
John McCutcheon @ Facebook
Title - 'Local Nomad EP'
Artist - Local Nomad
For those not in the know, capturing Paul Simons '70s aesthetic and the pop sensibility of Gnarls Barkley, Local Nomad’s sound is marked by soulful vocals, ethereal synths, and lustrous drum beats.
The pseudonym of multi-instrumentalist Michael Desmond, he is a dad rock powerhouse who shakes hands with pop — with two fingers crossed behind the back—breaking a promise to adhere to the mainstream of the genre, fusing it with delivery of indie-rock electricity.
Indeed, and as he himself has always said, "Local Nomad represents the constant searching for oneself. Abandoning a sedentary life," and here on the quite brilliant new 5-Track, self-titled EP, Local Nomad ensures that our lives are further enriched by showcasing warm, soulful vocals that amiably drift between dream-like synths and glossy drum beats.
1. 'Love Is Gone'
3. 'Getting Old Is A Bitch'
4. 'Young Vampires'
Opening with the spacious, perky, free flowing, early '90s Brit pop sounds of 'Love Is Gone,' that's backed by the free flowing, windows down on the road, summer breeze through your fingers vibe of 'Gates.'
The methodical hipsway of the mid-tempo 'Getting Old Is A Bitch' is then backed seamlessly by my own personal favorite track here, the one minute quietly RHCP-esque balladeering, the next the lo-fi emo pop flow of 'Young Vampires' (a song about unhealthy relationships), with the final track actually being Local Nomad's own favorite, 'Summertime.'
A track that captures his dry sense of humor perfectly, whilst still evoking a classic nostalgic emotional quality, the song is essentially a time capsule that represents what summer was like for him (and maybe you also) as a kid.
Official Purchase Link