Title - 'Collective Expression'
Artist - Vance Provey, Bob Gorry, Paul Gunsberg
For those not in the know, Collective Expression (out June 19th, 2020 via NHIC Records), the debut album from the improvising trio of Vance Provey (Trumpet), Bob Gorry (Guitar), and Paul Gunsberg (Drums and Saxophone), is a focused musical exploration with three distinct personalities combining into a unified expression of the musical moment.
Indeed, the trio has a cohesive sound contrasting Provey’s luxurious trumpet tone providing sharp attacks, inventive motifs and languid long tones with Gorry’s guitar work that varies from rapid fire lines to melodic counterpoint to ambient encouragement.
Gunsberg’s drums propel everything with an unhurried pulse and layers of compelling rhythms while his abstract soprano saxophone takes things to a whole new level.
1. 'Cyclone' (2:27)
2. 'Extraction' (6:41)
3. 'Miles to Go' (6:43)
4. 'Convolution' (10:27)
5. 'Strap Hanger' (5:27)
6. 'Savage Detectives' (3:37)
7. 'Iron Mike' (8:27)
8. 'Still Time' (4:41)
Opening with the at times spiraling, deftly alert, and yet always fervently, and melodically jarring 'Cyclone,' they then back that up with the laid back 'Extraction,' the thoughtful presence of 'Miles to Go,' and then the aching yearn, strived for and reached, musical arc that only certain instruments can make within 'Convolution.'
Next up is the playful 'Strap Hanger,' the overlapping, dulcet, yet always ornate foundation building of 'Savage Detectives,' which they back with the Outer Limits-esque, quietly sculptured bluster of 'Iron Mike,' before closing this musical work of art with the, at times, elegant, skating and sliding maneuvers of 'Still Time.'
Simply put, Collective Expression is a wonderful testament to interaction and improvisation that expands and contracts, grinds and soars. From the lively introduction that is 'Cyclone' to the ever-evolving 'Miles to Go,' the dialogue between the players — their melodies, timbre, and pace — is continually shifting as they respond to each other's individual and collective voices.
Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Whoosh!'
Artist - Deep Purple
For those not in the know, in recent years, Deep Purple has progressively moved into new areas, piquing the interest of fans who were not born when the mighty Purple machine ruled the music world.
Their holy grail of In Rock (1970), Machine Head (1972) and Made In Japan (1973) catapulted Deep Purple to the top in concert grosses and album sales around the world, with tracks such as 'Smoke On The Water' ascending them to mega-status.
The band’s 20th studio album inFinite has become one of their most successful albums ever, braking chart records accumulated by the hard rock legends over an impressive 50-year history.
Their brand new album Whoosh! (released August 7, 2020 via Ear Music) sees Deep Purple for the third time joining forces with producer Bob Ezrin, who invited the band to Nashville to write and record new songs.
1. 'Throw My Bones'
2. 'Drop the Weapon'
3. 'We're All the Same in the Dark'
4. 'Nothing at All'
5. 'No Need to Shout'
6. 'Step by Step'
7. 'What the What'
8. 'The Long Way Round'
9. 'The Power of the Moon'
10. 'Remission Possible'
11. 'Man Alive'
12. 'And the Address'
13. 'Dancing in My Sleep'
This quite magnificent album opens with the invigorating boot-tappin' 'Throw My Bones' and then backs that up seamlessly with the Hammond-led rocker 'Drop the Weapon' and follows those up with the mid-tempo AOR of 'We're All the Same in the Dark,' the melodically precise, and highly orchestrated guitar work of 'Nothing at All,' and then both 'No Need to Shout' and the magnificent organ work found within the euphoric one-two punch of 'Step by Step.'
Next comes one of my own personal favorites, the early MeatLoaf-esque rocker of 'What the What,' which is followed by the AOR of 'The Long Way Round,' and then comes another musical delight in the form of the airy, mid-tempo ballad 'The Power of the Moon.'
Then comes another stand out track, the absolutely stunning, fuzzy guitar work and Hammond back bone of 'Remission Possible' which is backed by the atmospheric, spatial rock elegance of 'Man Alive,' with the album coming to a close on the full on blues rocker 'And the Address,' closing on the mid-tempo velocity of bounce found on 'Dancing in My Sleep.'
“We’ve included everything that made the whole band smile, including Bob Ezrin. We’ve always enjoyed making music and having the incredible luxury of a loyal audience.” - Steve Morse.
Whoosh! will be available as Limited CD+DVD Mediabook (incl. the 1h feature “Roger Glover and Bob Ezrin in conversation” and, for the first time, the full live performance at Hellfest 2017 as video), 2LP+DVD Edition, Limited Boxset and Digital on August 7th, 2020.
Official Purchase Links
Deep Purple @ Facebook
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Deep Purple @ YouTube
Title - 'The Southwest Sky and Other Deams'
Artist - Karen Jonas
For those not in the know, Equally prolific on the road and in the studio, Fredericksburg, VA based Country and Americana artist, Karen Jonas, has toured non-stop since her 2014 debut album Oklahoma Lottery, gathering steady creative and critical momentum through 2016's Country Songs; 2018's Butter; and last year's Lucky, Revisited, which debuted at #13 on the EuroAmericana Chart.
Sharing stages with the likes of Dale Watson, Alabama, Joe Ely, Bob Schneider, Robert Earl Keen, and Amanda Shires, Jonas' heartfelt compositions and nuanced timbre have entranced intimate house concerts, rowdy honky-tonks, and outdoor festivals alike.
An official showcasing artist at last year's SXSW, she was also nominated for a 2018 Ameripolitan Award, and recently named 'Best Country/Americana Artist' by the Washington Area Music Awards.
Karen Jonas' fifth album, The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams (out August 28th, 2020 via Yellow Brick Road) is a flashback-fueled fever dream of Americana songcraft and storytelling.
Taking the vast desert expanses of the American Southwest as her backdrop, Jonas embroiders small-town snapshots into vivid explorations of our inner struggle between ambition and inaction.
The Virginia singer-songwriter's most accomplished and evocative expression to date, The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams captures that aching space between romantic dream-state and numb reality like few before.
1. 'The Last Cowboy (at the Bowling Alley)'
2. 'Out In Palm Tree Paradise'
4. 'Pink Leather Boots'
5. 'Maybe You’d Hear Me Then'
6. 'Be Sweet to Me'
7. 'Farmer John'
8. 'Barely Breathing'
9. 'Better Days'
10. 'Don’t Blink Honey'
Here on the gathered together 10 vignettes that make up The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams, Jonas sets her central themes, creates their characters, all connected by through lines of setting and circumstance, so elegantly, so insightfully, that if you close your eyes, scenes play out in my mind from the lyrics being afforded you.
Opening with the Mexican/Latin guitar intro'd 'The Last Cowboy (at the Bowling Alley)' and the pedal steel guitar-licked 'Out In Palm Tree Paradise,' we next get a pair of upbeat country rockers in 'Tuesday' and the highly infectious, almost rockabilly rhythms of 'Pink Leather Boots,' and then comes the troubadour storytelling of 'Maybe You’d Hear Me Then.'
One of my own personal favorites is up next in the form of the old school rock 'n' roll of 'Be Sweet to Me,' which is followed by the moody blues, southern gothic-imbibed 'Farmer John,' a tale of another relationship gone wrong on 'Barely Breathing,' before the album rounds out with the hopeful 'Better Days,' closing on the melodic melancholy of 'Don’t Blink Honey.'
"I capture these faint ghosts of stories – some my own; some not,” says Jonas, poetic even in conversation. “Oil derricks peck on forever, little mosquitoes sucking the blood of the Earth … Watching with detachment the infiniteness of the land and the stories that seem to add up to nothing.”
Backing comes from her long time collaborator Tim Bray on guitars, with Tom Hnatow on pedal steel and Wurlitzer, Seth Morrissey on bass and Seth Brown on drums.
Amazon Purchase Links
Karen Jones @ Facebook
Karen Jonas @ Twitter
Karen Jonas @ Instagram
Title - 'Freeze, Melt'
Artist - Cut Copy
For those not in the know, beloved Australian electronic act, Cut Copy return with their third single for 2020, 'Like Breaking Glass,' out now via Cutters Records/The Orchard.
The track is taken from the four-piece’s greatly anticipated sixth studio album, Freeze, Melt, to be released on Friday, August 21st, 2020.
Initially the bedroom recording project of Dan Whitford, Cut Copy evolved into a full-fledged band with guitarist Tim Hoey, drummer Mitchell Scott, and bass player Ben Browning.
The quartet’s studio albums include In Ghost Colours, which Pitchfork named as one of the best albums of 2008 and among the top albums of the 2000s, and 2011’s Zonoscope, which won two ARIA Awards and was nominated for a GRAMMY®.
Their last album, 2017’s Haiku From Zero, represented the band at their most refined and efficiently emotive.
Taking a listen now to this sixth album, Freeze, Melt, and along with their previously-released singles, 'Love Is All We Share' and 'Cold Water,' the entire body of work showcases an expansion yet refining in their sound over the past three years, while maintaining a legacy unmatched in Australian music since their inception.
Written during an especially cold European winter, the collection takes an evocative turn finding slowed meaning and influence from emotional manipulations that feed into their work but have never taken center stage, ultimately shaping a headier journey inward while lyrically exploring love in strange times. A treat for the mind, as well as the body.
1. 'Cold Water'
2. 'Like Breaking Glass'
3. 'Love Is All We Share'
4. 'Stop, Horizon'
5. 'Running In The Grass'
6. 'A Perfect Day'
8. 'In Transit'
Opening with the translucent electro pop of 'Cold Water,' it's backed by the free flowing synth of 'Like Breaking Glass,' a track that wouldn't have been out of place in the early '80s, and that's backed by the dream state ambiance of 'Love Is All We Share,' and then comes the simply divine orchestrations of 'Stop, Horizon.'
Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the synth pop bounce of 'Running In The grass,' which is followed by the transcendent milieu of 'A Perfect Day,' with the album rounding out with the delicately jaunty, keyed tones of 'Rain,' closing on the Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) vibe of 'In Transit.'
Official Purchase Link
Cut Copy @ Facebook
Cut Copy @ Twitter
Cut Copy @ Instagram
Title - 'Mixed Emotions'
Artist - Nohokai
For those unaware, Hawaiian-born Emcee/Producer Nohokai has just released his new album Mixed Emotions across digital and online music platforms today via Perfect Time Music Group.
Nohokai has created an underground hip-hop debut for the ages enlisting an all-star cast of guests for the album that reads like a lineup worthy of a festival.
The album is a nod to the true school of hip-hop sound with Nohokai providing boom-bap production style beats for an A-list to unleash some hard-hitting bars courtesy of R.A. The Rugged Man, Locksmith, Chino XL, ILL BILL, Gift of Gab, and more!
2. 'A Level' (feat. True Justice & Casual)
3. 'Catch the Wave' (Feat. Gift Of Gab)
4. 'Asphalt' (Feat. R.A. The Rugged Man, Big Earth)
5. 'Careless' (feat. DJ Gi Joe & Diabolic)
6. 'Burden of Proof' (Feat. Pep Love)
7. 'Limitless' (feat. Tone Spliff & Apathy)
8. 'Final Destination' (feat. DJ Gi Joe & Nems)
9. 'Was' (Feat. Chino XL)
10. 'Golden Goose' (Feat. Slaine & Rite Hook)
11. 'Nothing More I Can Say' (Feat. Locksmith)
12. 'Life is But A Dream' (Feat. Eligh)
13. 'Where the Party At' (feat. DJ Eclipse, Ill Bill, Matt Maddox)
Opening with the short, but ever-so-sweet 'Introkai,' we move seamlessly into the gentle rap of 'A Level' (feat. True Justice & Casual), the heavier-toned rap of 'Catch the Wave' (Feat. Gift Of Gab), the melodic run-on of 'Asphalt' (Feat. R.A. The Rugged Man, Big Earth), and then both the Eminem-esque 'Careless' (feat. DJ Gi Joe & Diabolic) and the best track on here (in my humble opinion), the boot-tappin' 'Burden of Proof' (Feat. Pep Love).
Next up is the free-flowing rap of 'Limitless' (feat. Tone Spliff & Apathy) which is followed by the lighter fare of 'Final Destination' (feat. DJ Gi Joe & Nems), the rhymical hipsway, complete with speedster-spitting, hard center rap of 'Was' (Feat. Chino XL), the lyrically intriguing 'Golden Goose' (Feat. Slaine & Rite Hook), and then rounds out with the easy going flow of 'Nothing More I Can Say' (Feat. Locksmith), the melodic 'Life is But A Dream' (Feat. Eligh), closing on the hard-hitting 'Where the Party At' (feat. DJ Eclipse, Ill Bill, Matt Maddox).
As he matured, Nohokai quickly realized that performing as an MC wasn’t his true calling and instead turned to the studio as his rightful place in the hip-hop ecosystem.
Now as a grown man with a growing list of responsibilities, Nohokai has put everything he’s got into this full-length debut as a producer.
The result is a polished, mature, aggressive sound that rings of the same urgency Nohokai feels for his musical abilities.
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Title - 'The Loneliness In Me'
Artist - Rachel Brooke
For those not in the know, Rachel Brooke returns on The Loneliness In Me, her newest solo album with a sound reminiscent of Nashville’s golden era with a decidedly twenty-first century sensibility.
The twelve songs are meditations on the wild strangeness of loss: losing love and the familiar, as well as old selves, direction, and dreams.
Since her last solo effort, A Killer’s Dream (2012), Brooke weathered the watershed of losing her father, from whom she learned her love of music, and worked on collaborative projects with Modern Mal (The Misanthrope Family Album, 2017) and Lonesome Wyatt (Bad Omen, 2015).
Indeed, this brand new collection has the beauty and charm of a shape-shifter: part classic country songwriting, anchored in the tradition of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, part post-millennium mysticism, echoing forth from the Northern Michigan woods about the why and wherefores of where she’s been.
1. 'It Ain't Over 'Til You're Crying'
2. 'Great Mistake'
3. 'The Hard Way'
4. 'The Loneliness In Me'
5. 'Picture On The Wall'
6. 'It Won't Be Long'
7. 'Ghost Of You'
8. 'The Lovelle Stockade Blues'
9. 'Lucky And Alone'
10. 'The Awful Parts Of Me'
11. 'Undecided Love'
12. 'I Miss It Like It's Gone'
Recorded in Traverse City, Michigan with a hell of a lot of Detroit in its heart, the album opens with the delicate reverb vocal ballad 'It Ain't Over 'Til You're Crying' and back rubs that with the mid-tempo foot-tapper 'Great Mistake,' the yearning hardships of 'The Hard Way,' and then both the upbeat and barnstorming vibe of the title track, The Loneliness In Me,' and the piano-led, gentle hipsway of 'Picture On The Wall.'
We then get one of my own personal favorites, the mellow bluegrass imminence of 'It Won't Be Long,' which is followed by the beautifully languishing 'Ghost Of You,' the mid-tempo step, hip, dip, move of 'The Lovelle Stockade Blues', and then the lonesome ballad 'Lucky And Alone.'
This thematically exquisite album then rounds out with the low slung, western plains ambiance of 'The Awful Parts Of Me,' the tender, yet strong of heart 'Undecided Love,' closing on the languishing lament of 'I Miss It Like It's Gone.'
Chock full of sly-eyed humor and wry phrasing that is second nature to Brooke, given her experience as a girl playing bluegrass with her father, as with previous releases, Brooke’s accompaniment includes a trove of talented musicians, many of whom she feels lucky to count amongst her kith and kin.
A stellar new addition is Detroit’s legendary Dave Feeny on pedal steel, giving this album a direct lineage to Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, on which he also performs his magic on pedal steel.
Official Purchase Links
Rachel Brooke @ Facebook
Rachel Brooke @ Twitter
Rachel Brooke @ Instagram
Title - 'Rarities' [2CD]
Artist - Mariah Carey
For those not in the know, those wonderful people over there at Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings have just released Mariah Carey's quite stunning "new" album, the 2CD (August 19th, 2020).
Featuring previously-unreleased tracks along with many B-sides and even a live concert recording from Tokyo during her Daydream tour, this 32-track package is tremendous musical value for all her devoted fans (although, and sadly, it doesn't include anything from the long out-of-print alt-rock album that Carey secretly made in 1995 under the band name Chick).
So, as we know, a great artist has hits. A truly extraordinary one has those as well as "hidden treasures" that extend to the deepest, darkest recesses of their discography.
And then there’s Mariah Carey! Having had 19 chart-toppers, now has been the most perfect of time to release a barrage of beloved deep cuts on a 2CD set worth of flawless material that was obviously just sitting in a Sony vault somewhere.
Mimi finally dusts those pop relics off and gives them a chance to shine on this excellent new double album, the aptly-named The Rarities.
On a collection that just doesn't have the right to sound as incredible as it truly does (given, for the most part, these are all throwaway tracks), it might not "flow smoothly" for a lot of people listening in (due to the way that Carey's rhythm and tones ebb and flow from song to song), but taken as a whole, this new playlist is honestly as good as it gets.
Take 'Here We Go Around Again,' an outtake from the singer’s blockbuster 1990 self-titled debut, where Carey willfully channels The Jackson 5's sense of youthful pop-soul.
Listening to it now, it does feel dated, a little old school next to songs like 'Cool On You,' but it’s still hard to understand how something this effortlessly charming and catchy didn’t make the final cut of Mariah’s debut album.
Mariah Carey - 'Here We Go Around Again' (Official Audio)
Indeed, for my money, the same applies to 'Can You Hear Me,' a stunning ballad penned for Emotions. Carey co-wrote this schmaltzy, but effective ballad with Barry Mann, the veteran songwriter best known for the run of foundational ’60s pop hits and given that Mimi was well into her ballad era, this is AC-offering could have been a chart-topper, in my humble opinion.
Mariah Carey - 'Can You Hear Me' (Official Audio)
But then again, some of the living legend’s best songs have ended up in strange places. Which takes us to the smattering of B-Sides on The Rarities.
'Do You Think Of Me,' the synth-drenched, mid-tempo ballad that served as the B-Side to 'Dreamlover,' still shines bright, while 'Everything Fades Away' and 'Slipping Away' still come across as legendary musical interludes to my ear.
While much of The Rarities is admittedly ballad-heavy, there are a handful of upbeat, and powerhouse moments. 'All I Live,' probably a Music Box reject, is a winning example of early ’90s R&B-lite with the diva’s pivot into that genre more pronounced on 'One Night,' an urban groove that probably scared the execs at Columbia at the time!
Opening in full-on Church gospel mode, with Carey backed by a small choir that includes Kelly Price, it actually ranks as one of Mariah’s first collaborations with Jermaine Dupri, a creative relationship that would bear a lot of fruit in coming years.
While we’re on the topic of upbeat bops, it would be remiss of me to ignore the original version of the lead single from her star-crossed 2001 movie musical Glitter, 'Loverboy.'
In fact, this ditty gets a special writeup in Mariah’s memoir, partly because it was the genesis of Mimi’s legendary beef with Jennifer Lopez (AKA She Who Is Unknown)!
The story goes that the 19-time chart-topper originally wanted to sample Yellow Magic Orchestra’s 1978 hit 'Firecracker' on 'Loverboy,' but Tommy Mottola was allegedly feeling petty and snatched it for J.Lo’s 'I’m Real.'
Strangely, I think it all worked out for the best because, and personally, I prefer the version of 'Loverboy' that samples Cameo’s 'Candy,' while the 'Firecracker'-sampling on 'I’m Real' is an undeniable groove.
Mariah Carey - 'Loverboy (Firecracker - Original Version) (Official Audio)
In any case, it’s fascinating to hear this demo, but of all these rare tracks on this 2CD release, for my money Mariah’s stunning cover of Irene Cara’s 'Out Here On My Own' might be my all-time favorite.
Her vocal on this track is heaven sent and, thematically, it makes complete sense for Mimi. She clearly connects with the lyrics, and sings every line straight from the heart.
Another highlight for me is 'Cool On You,' an upbeat track that probably stems from her E=MC² era and finds our heroine in full club mode.
It’s light and feathery fun that gets stuck in your head after the very first listen and that takes us to the final stretch of The Rarities, which is by far the most eclectic.
There’s more Church music brought forth on the ballad 'I Pray,' which Mariah penned for Lina Robins-Tamure (formerly Paul Robbins), 'Mesmerized' a curiously sedate mid-tempo that was supposed to appear in The Paperboy, a live cover of Ella Fitzgerald’s 'Lullaby Of Birdland' (which was recorded during her tour behind 2014’s Me. I Am Mariah The Elusive Chanteuse), and lead single, the '90s-throwback collaboration with Lauryn Hill, 'Save The Day' — which is as timely now as a song that was written in 2011 can be.
Mariah Carey - 'Lullaby of Birdland' (Live - Official Audio)
The real jewel in the crown, however, is Mimi’s superfluous acoustic remake of 'Close My Eyes' from Butterfly. My goodness, few songs capture the power of the superstar’s voice and pen as well as this one, trust me, but if one were to try and topple it, that would be her version of Harry Nilsson's 'Without You.'
Recorded at the Tokyo Dome in 1996, she quite literally, and unreservedly, belts this maudlin ’70s power ballad out the park! Oh, and another track here taken from that live show (which, as a whole, is the complete second disc), 'Anytime You Need a Friend,' is also a showcase for a peak-form Carey - a ballad that slowly gives way to a house remix that blurs the lines between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
In closing, The Rarities is obviously essential listening for fans, but well worth diving into for general music lovers. After all, this is an important piece of pop history, my dear friends. Of that fact, have no doubt.
CD 1: The Rarities
1. 'Here We Go Around Again' (1990)
2. 'Can You Hear Me' (1991)
3. 'Do You Think of Me?' (1993)
4. 'Everything Fades Away' (1993)
5. 'All I Live For' (1993)
6. 'One Night' (1995)
7. 'Slipping Away' (1996)
8. 'Out Here on My Own' (2000)
9. 'Loverboy' (2001 – Firecracker Original Version)
10. 'I Pray' (2005)
11. 'Cool on You' (2007)
12. 'Mesmerized' (2012)
13. 'Lullaby of Birdland' (2014 – Live)
14. 'Save the Day' (2020 – with Lauryn Hill)
15. 'Close My Eyes' (2020 – Acoustic)
CD 2: Live at The Tokyo Dome (1996)
1. 'Daydream Interlude (Fantasy Sweet Dub Mix)' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
2. 'Emotions' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
3. 'Open Arms' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
4. 'Forever' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
5. 'I Don't Wanna Cry' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
6. 'Fantasy' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
7. 'Always Be My Baby' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
8. 'One Sweet Day' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
9. 'Underneath the Stars' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
10. 'Without You' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
11. 'Make It Happen' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
12. 'Just Be Good To Me' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
13. 'Dreamlover' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
14. 'Vision of Love' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
16. 'Hero' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
17. 'Anytime You Need a Friend' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
18. 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' (Live at the Tokyo Dome)
Title - 'Yours, Millie McGuire'
Artist - Millie McGuire
For those not in the know, which is admittedly most of us, Millie McGuire, a 20-year-old singer from Chapel Hill, N.C., is not famous, not yet, but is about to release a debut album that is going to change that status completely!
You see, behind the scenes, musicians are talking. Such as Mike Mills (R.E.M., Baseball Project), with whom she appeared in Big Star’s Third concerts, who says Millie is his “favorite new voice of the last five years."
Indeed, Millie's debut album, Yours, Millie McGuire, gradually evolved over the last several years, as Millie found herself as a writer.
Producer Chris Stamey recalls: “I first met Millie during someone else’s session, where she seemed genuinely interested in learning about the studio."
"She was still in high school then. With no expectations I suggested she drop by and try to sing a demo for me and in return I’d show her how to stand at a mic and how headphones worked."
"Ha! To my surprise, she was a natural: She glanced at the sheet music, nailed the tune (‘I Fall in Love’) in about 15 minutes — and that’s the vocal that’s on the record today.”
It was what he calls a “Sam Phillips surprise” — the dream of every producer, that one day a remarkable singer will simply walk in off the street unexpectedly.
1. 'I Am Yours'
2. 'There's A Place'
3. 'One More Moment'
4. 'Two' (feat. Dan Wilson)
5. 'Tomorrow's Too Soon'
6. 'I Fall In Love (So Easily)'
7. 'Here's How We Start Again'
8. 'Your Last Forever After'
9. 'Dream a Little Dream of Me'
10. 'Dear Friend'
This quite breathtakingly raw, honest, and lushly orchestrated album opens on the, at first ornate piano composition, and then free flowingly symphonious of 'I Am Yours,' and backs that up with the gentle guitar and horn work of 'There's A Place,' the melodic hipsway of 'One More Moment,' the tenderly rhythmic 'Two' (a duet with co-producer Dan Wilson), and then the forgivingly euphoric 'Tomorrow's Too Soon.'
Next up is the beautifully breezy 'I Fall in Love so Easily,' which is followed by the country twang of 'Here's How We Start Again,' the at-times ethereal love song 'Your Last Forever After,' a deliciously unpretentious, studio one-take cover of the 1931 Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra hit 'Dream a Little Dream of Me,' and then closes on the tender ballad 'Dear Friend.'
Official 'Two' Music Video
Official 'There's A Place' Music Video
Official 'I Am Yours' Music Video
Official 'I Fall In Love (So Easily)' Music Video
Official Purchase Links
Millie McGuire @ Facebook
Millie McGuire @ Twitter
Millie McGuire @ Instagram
Millie McGuire @ YouTube
Title - 'Royal Tea'
Artist - Joe Bonamassa
If you know anything about Joe Bonamassa - the post-millennium's breakout bluesman/pre-eminent Anglophile - you'll know that a lifelong ambition is to blow the roof off Abbey Road!
Ergo, his brand new album Royal Tea brings Bonamassa full circle, and with the backdrop of Abbey Road demanded British Blues, he is found here reconnecting with the guitar-slinging kid who stumbled across Jeff Beck Group, John Mayall, Cream, etc. in his dad's vinyl collection.
Co-written by notables like ex-Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden, ex-Cream lyricist Pete Brown, and UK national-treasure, piano man Jools Holland (Squeeze), Royal Tea (due out October 23rd, 2020 via J&R Adventures) is a simply stunning, 10-track blues fest that was also recorded at, where else, the legendary Abbey Road Studios.
1. 'When One Door Opens'
2. 'Royal Tea'
3. 'Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye'
4. 'Lookout Man'
5. 'High Class Girl'
6. 'A Conversation With Alice'
7. 'I Didn't Think She Would Do It'
8. 'Beyond The Silence'
9. 'Lonely Boy'
Opening with the longest track on the album, the deeply, and resonantly thunderous 'When One Door Opens,' that's followed by the slow roll storytelling of the title track 'Royal Tea,' the simply stunning, deeply yearning, balladeering orchestrations of the lead single 'Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye,' the massive sound of 'Lookout Man,' and then the down South, slow poke shuffle of 'High Class Girl.'
Up next is the mid-tempo hipsway of 'A Conversation With Alice,' one of my own personal favorites, the free flowing, Hendrix-esque majesty of 'I Didn't Think She Would Do it,' then we get the quietly atmospheric ambiance of 'Beyond The Silence,' before rounding out on the upbeat and funky 'Lonely Boy' (no, it has nothing to do with Andrew Gold), closing on the foot-tappin' elegance of the beautiful 'Savannah.'
Bonamassa is known for taking risks and venturing into uncharted territory throughout his wide-ranging career but now he has found a new way to surprise his fans and music lovers.
Royal Tea brings Bonamassa full-circle. “This whole adventure,” admits Joe, “was a bucket-list thing for me.”
This album reconnects the 43-year-old with the guitar-slinging kid from upstate New York, who, as aforementioned, stumbled across the best of British blues music in his dad’s vinyl collection – whose influences have shaped him to be the player he is today. "I would have been about twelve years old, and it was the sound I heard in my head. Like, ‘OK, I’m in. That’s what I want to be’.”
Official Purchase Links
Joe Bonamassa @ Facebook
Joe Bonamassa @ Twitter
Joe Bonamassa @ Instagram
Joe Bonamassa @ YouTube
Title - 'Expected To Fly' [EP]
Artist - Eddy Lee Ryder
For those not in the know, Eddy Lee Ryder has just released her debut EP, Expected to Fly (out now via Head Bitch Music).
A ready and willing mistress of everything from murder ballads to love songs and upbeat party tunes, Ryder’s intricate storytelling twists and turns over staccato electric guitars, moody piano, and center-stage drums that nod to the extravagance of the ‘80s.
A classically trained musician and opera singer, Ryder was obsessed with music of all genres growing up. Falling in love with Peter Gabriel and Fleetwood Mac helped push her to start writing her own songs.
As she grew, she began to take inspiration from eclectic people she met while driving around the country, as well as examining her own life.
1. 'Expected To Fly'
2. 'Silver Chain'
3. 'There In Dreams'
4. 'Small Apartment'
Opening with the soulful, foot-tappin' AOR of the Fleetwood Mac-esque title track, 'Expected To Fly,' that's backed by the free flowing, at times lyrically vibrated, Nicks-infused 'Silver Chain,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the beautiful track, 'There In Dreams.'
The foot-tappin' '80s-ibued, Go-Go's elegance of 'Small Apartment' (which also contains noted passages of '50s all-girl group harmonies) is up next and then the vibrant EP closes on her strongest vocal performance, the deeply emotive, low slung 'Vultures.'
The exuberant title track captures that recognizable moment when desperation becomes either a breakthrough or a big fall. “I think it’s a mix of feeling both defeated and hopeful,” Ryder says.
That dichotomy is also evident in 'Silver Chain,' which is about “... wanting to live a wild and carefree life, but also having that fear that you might end up being an old decrepit person sitting in a bar,” Ryder explains. “It’s seeing that future closing in on you.”
Perhaps the most vulnerable song on the EP, 'There In Dreams,' is about Ryder’s father who passed away when she was 16, and how she hopes he is proud of her when she sees him in her dreams.
'Vultures' ponders a toxic relationship over piano and prickling snare drum, and in 'Small Apartment,' Ryder puts herself under a microscope, telling the true tale of a disgruntled downstairs neighbor.
'Small Apartment' (Official Music Video)
'Silver Chain' (Official Music Video)
Official Purchase Links
Eddy Lee Ryder @ Facebook
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Eddy Lee Ryder @ Instagram
Eddy Lee Ryder @ Spotify
Title - 'Color and Passion'
Artist - Blake Aaron
For those unaware, right out of the gate with two #1 Billboard singles and one #1 single on the Radiowave / Groove Jazz charts for the entire year 2019, the soon-to-be released Color and Passion (September 18th, 2020, via Innervision Records) is already feeling like a greatest hits CD for Blake Aaron.
While many fans know him from his years of hosting the popular syndicated The Blake Aaron Radio Show with Tina Anderson, since the early 2000s, he’s also become one of the genre’s most inventive, adventurous and stylistically eclectic guitarist and artists.
Now a Billboard #1 producer himself as well as artist with his self-produced, silky-smooth Fall for You, Aaron also teams up with hit producers Darren Rahn with the #1 Billboard single, 'Groovers and Shakers', the #1 for all of 2019 Radiowave single, 'Drive', and with Adam Hawley for the upcoming single, 'Sunday Strut'.
1. 'Fall for You'
2. 'Groovers and Shakers' (feat. Darren Rahn)
3. 'Sunday Strut' (Feat. Najee)
6. 'Color and Passion'
8. 'Riviera Nights'
9. 'Godfather Brown'
10. 'Weekend in Paradise'
11. 'Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing' (feat. Kim Scott)
Heading full-throttle into his second decade as a recording artist, the multifaceted guitarist, composer, producer and media personality opens up this brand new album with the summer driving, windows down, sun shining catchiness of 'Fall for You' and then backs that up seamlessly with the free-flowing magnificence of 'Groovers and Shakers' (featuring Darren Rahn, although you would swear George Benson was in the mix too), and the funky, brass-enhanced 'Sunday Strut' (featuring Najee).
Next up is the light and breezy 'Drive' and the infectious, foot-tappin' vibe of 'Vivid,' which are in turn followed by the beautiful balladry (enhanced by his nylon string guitar) of the title track, 'Color and Passion' and the delightfully playful, Soca-inspired 'Daylight.'
My own personal favorite here on this quite vibrantly orchestrated new album is up next in the form of the feisty Latin hipsway of 'Riviera Nights,' which is backed by a downright funky tribute to the great JB on 'Godfather Brown,' with this soulful fusion of sounds and styles rounding out with the reggae-tinged appeal of 'Weekend in Paradise,' closing on a barnstorming take of Stevie Wonder’s 1973 hit 'Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing' (feat. Kim Scott).
Amazon Purchase Links
Blake Aaron @ Facebook
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Blake Aaron @ Instagram
Title - 'Sweet Little Truths: EMI Years 1992-1996'
Artist - Tasmin Archer
Cherry Pop UK are about to release a brand new 53 track, 3CD collection of her '90s recordings from the great Tasmin Archer.
Sweet Little Truths: The EMI Years 1992-1996 offers up expanded editions of both Archer's EMI albums, remastered for the first time since their original release, and adds a whole array of bonus mixes, B-sides, and live tracks to a third rarities disc.
Tasmin Archer blazed onto the charts in 1992 with the unforgettable #1 single ‘Sleeping Satellite’. The record went on to become a significant hit worldwide, including the U.S.A, and was quickly followed by a top 10 Gold-certified album, Great Expectations.
Further top 40 hits followed, and a critically acclaimed second album, Bloom, produced by the legendary Mitchell Froom, in 1996.
Disc One - Great Expectations: Expanded Edition (1992):
1. 'Sleeping Satellite'
3. 'Lords of the New Church'
4. 'When It Comes Down To It'
6. 'The Higher You Climb'
7. 'In Your Care'
8. 'Somebody's Daughter'
10. 'Ripper Inside'
11. 'Halfway To Heaven'
12. 'Man At The Window' (Acoustic Version)
13. 'Sea of Rest'
14. 'Strings of Desire'
15. 'Real Oh So Real'
16. 'Sleeping Satellite' (Acoustic Version)
17. 'In Your Care' (U.S. Radio Edit)
18. 'Lords of the New Church' (Radio Edit)
19. 'Arienne' (Radio Edit)
20. 'Somebody's Daughter' (Radio Edit)
By the '90s, music had started to die (in my humble opinion) and whilst the '80s greats could be relied on in 1992 (Kim Wilde, Sandra Cretu, Cathy Dennis and Annie Lennox, et al), out of nowhere, in a year of trite, monotonous dance-dirges and by-the-numbers trash-guitar indie rockers, Tasmin Archer rose like the eagle she namechecks with the beautiful, utterly captivating and magical 'Sleeping Satellite.'
A song that rose spectacularly from a low lying chart placing to make #1 in a month, it's actually amazing how, sometimes even in dire times, the realization of a grand, creative and good idea can be rewarded.Grand Expectations in 1992.
'Sleeping Satelite' is a staple of radio stations, and remains gorgeous, but no one should dismiss the album, for each of the remaining 10 tracks are concrete strong.
Aching, heart-rending ballads, with a delicious minimalist approach ('Ripped Inside', 'In Your Care', 'When It Comes Down To It') puts her winsome, aching vocals forefront.
Subjects here range from disregarding the world for space-exploration (the big hit), financially decimated townships, bogus religious leaders on the enticing swoop of intriguingly chosen third single 'Lords of the New Church', to the impoverished and the build-'em-up-to-knock-em-down regime of the business the lady now finds herself in; since her long-awaited but disappointing sophomore album consigned her to the scrapheap!
Disc Two - Bloom (Expanded Edition) (1996):
1. 'Sweet Little Truth'
2. 'After Hell'
3. 'One More Good Night With The Boys'
4. 'Rain Falling'
5. 'I Like It So'
6. 'Breaking My Back'
7. 'I Would Love To Be Right'
8. 'You Made a Fool of Me'
10. 'Give In With Grace'
11. 'In Your Garden'
13.' Itchycoo Park'
14. 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds'
15. 'Obeah Wedding' (Live)
17. 'Deep Dark Truthful Mirror'
18. 'All Grown Up'
19. 'New Amsterdam'
As aforementioned, and since her long-awaited, but disappointing sophomore album ('Bloom') consigned her to the scrapheap, personally, I don't see why it was so torn apart by the press / media at the time.
Tasmin still featured songs that were multi-pronged, intelligently approached and featured pure good-old fashioned instrument playing, alongside a select choice of well-constructed melody and winning choruses, but listening to it again today (with fresh ears, so to speak), sure, it's massively lacking in the hook-filled memorable winners arena, but it's just not that bad, truly.
That all said, you can listen to many good songs on Bloom, like 'Sweet Little Truth', 'One More Good Night with the Boys', 'I Would Love to Be Right', 'You Made a Fool of Me', 'Give in with Grace' and even the magical 'In Your Garden.
On a couple of the songs, cellist Caroline Lavelle is one of the musicians, while Mitchell Froom is the producer and one of the musicians too.
Oh, and this expanded edition now also contains her cover of Elvis Costello's brilliant 'Shipbuilding,' which she actually had released in 1994 as a stand alone EP (that itself featured a wonderful 8 tracks), along with her very rare version of ‘Itchycoo Park.’
As for why it "failed," well, it's an age old business story, I'm afraid. EMI Records were not supportive of the material that Tasmin had recorded, deeming it too uncommercial and too removed from the sound of her debut album.
Indeed, Tasmin and her songwriting partner John Hughes had to fight for almost a year with EMI executives to get the album released in the form they wanted it to be. Sadly, that didn't help their cause as it only reached #95 on the UK Albums Chart that year of release.
Disc Three - One More
1. 'Sleeping Satellite' (Extended Version)
2. 'Lords of the New Church' (Remix)
3. 'Ripped Inside' (12” Version)
4. 'The Higher You Climb' (Remix)
5. 'When It Comes Down To It' (12” Version)
6. 'Ripped Inside' (Ben Chapman Mix)
7. 'Sleeping Satellite' (Fitz Mix)
8. 'In You Care' (Live)
9. 'Lords of the New Church' (Live)
10. 'Steeltown' (Live)
11. 'Man At The Window' (Live)
12. 'After Hell' (Live)
13. 'Rain Falling' (Live)
14. 'Sleeping Satellite' (Rock Version)
The third and final disc is entitled One More and is a collection of 14 fully remastered alternative and extended mixes of her singles, but moreover features nearly all the aforementioned Shipbuilding EP live collection of songs (which include covers of songs written by Elvis Costello).
Given that, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Tasmin parted ways with her major label back in the day after her sophomore slump, she actually didn't make another album for 10 years, and then brought out 2006’s On.
So, and with not much having been heard of her since, and her only other release that comes close to this expanded feel being EMI’s 2009 The Best of Tasmin Archer - which also includes remixes, 12″ extended versions, et al - this new Cherry Red UK 3CD release 'Sweet Little Truths: EMI Years 1992-1996 is the dawn of yet another joyous deep dive back into an era of music seemingly long since forgotten, and yet resounding still has a heartbeat much stronger than most all music being force fed us today!
This 3CD Box-Set also adds detailed liner notes, photos and a complete discography to the package.
Title - 'Oculus: Nothing Is Sacred'
Artist - Markus Reuter
For those unaware, one of the 21st century's most joyously unconventional, innovative musicians and composers, Markus Reuter, under the auspices of MoonJune Records (October 16th, 2020), is pleased to offer the initial Oculus project, Nothing Is Sacred: an album which hails as one of the most brilliant, spellbinding and immediately essential ensemble works in decades.
Joined by a stellar cast - featuring legendary King Crimson alumnus, violinist/keyboardist, David Cross; the extraordinary veteran timekeeper Asaf Sirkis, and fretless bass virtuoso (and renowned producer) Fabio Trentini; with contributions from fellow guitar pioneer, Mark Wingfield, and the iconic West Coast USA ambient pioneer, keyboardist Robert Rich - Markus employs a more premeditated, disciplined, yet radically divergent approach to group performance on this monumental session.
Reuter, a German composer who has earned critical acclaim throughout Europe and America for his work as a composer, guitar player, guitar designer, sound designer, producer and teacher, now brings forth this quite wondrous new album, that, and I think it's obvious to say, within its creative process, unearthed new avenues for even more profound levels of musical communication ventured.
1. 'Nothing is Sacred' (Dice II) [12:32}
2. 'The Occult' (Dice I) [12:54]
3. 'Bubble Bubble Bubble Bath' (Wink) [12:52]
4. 'Solve et Coagula' (Ghost) [10:46]
5. 'Bubble Bubble Bubble Song' (Sighs) [12:07]
Opening on the magnificent ambient opulence of the title track, next up is the drum-led, industrial percussion of 'The Occult,' which in turn is backed by the extravagantly avant-garde 'Bubble Bubble Bubble Bath,' another drum-led, yet this time orchestrally sweeping opus 'Solve et Coagula,' with the hour long album closing on the layered keyboard soundscapes of 'Bubble Bubble Bubble Song.'
FYI:Oculus, is the name Reuter gave to the unique pitch diagrams used in composing this music: each grid presents 16 musical pitches, arrayed in a form that resembles an eyeball (and there is a blank representation of the grid in the liner notes).
Official Purchase Link
Markus Reuter @ Facebook
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Markus Reuter @ Instagram
Title - 'Sun Trance'
Artist - Markus Reuter
For those unaware, one of the 21st century's most joyously unconventional, innovative musicians and composers, Markus Reuter, supported by an eleven-piece ensemble cast, embarks on a most ambitious project of sorts.
Recorded in front of a live audience in Mannheim, Germany, in 2017, Sun Trance (out October 16th, 2020 via MoonJune Records) could perhaps best be described as a sort of trance-avantgarde-psychedelic sonic hybrid.
His enticing textural work aside, Markus Reuter's guitar work has never sounded bigger or more commanding. His huge, shrieking overdriven tones carry the music to some shimmering (and pleasantly surprising) heights.
The guitar passages expose complexities, nuance and harmonic possibilities that reflect not only the perspective of an imaginative, intuitive improviser, but also the insight and acumen of a profound composer.
You can get lost in this music, but, rest assured, it will find you. Essential feeding for the more ravenous, yet refined, of progressive and avant-garde packs.
Reuter, a German composer who has earned critical acclaim throughout Europe and America for his work as a composer, guitar player, guitar designer, sound designer, producer and teacher, now brings forth this quite wondrous new album, that, and together with cover artwork by Ritxi Ostáriz, not only showcases a musician at the top of his game, but also highlights a textured, cultured rhythm of self being.
Commissioned by Prof. Dennis Kuhn on behalf of Mannheimer Schlagwerk (a percussion ensemble based in Mannheim, Germany), Sun Trance brings forth a quite magnificent, fluid, heartfelt and layered recording, performed by six percussionists, plus six additional players on bass clarinet, electric guitar, electric bass, synthesizer, drums, and the composer's own touch guitar and soundscapes.
Having listened to this piece twice now, I find it absolutely amazing to since learn that Reuter's guitar work was largely improvised on the day, his musical expertise being just so profoundly dedicated, so expertly grounded.
Given that Reuter is an exceptional soloist, you should know from the off that his work here is most definitely not a guitar concerto based around the great man.
No, for Sun Trance is a slowly evolving piece that alluringly centers around a base line of pattern repetition and lush use of percussion, all laid down on a bed of harmonically structured soundscapes throughout.
Official Purchase Link
Markus Reuter @ Facebook
Markus Reuter @ Twitter
Markus Reuter @ Instagram
Title - 'Shapeshifters'
Artist - Reuter Motzer Grohowski
For those not in the know, on the 18th of August, in the year 2019 AD, a shapeshifting experiment was conducted at a sonic laboratory in Brooklyn, NYC.
The experiment involved three principle participants: touch guitarist & sonic pioneer. Markus Reuter; the equally able, agile and adventurous guitarist and sonic texturist, Tim Motzer (who also painted the cover art); and the extraordinary chronological conductor, Kenny Grohowski - each proficient in the mysterious art of 'sonic shapeshifting'.
For there were, most certainly, some superhuman skills on display; a session which defied conventional logic, entrancing and astounding all the on-hand observers; and a recording which thumbs its nose at convention, while fully embracing its alien roots.
Morphing, gleefully, at will - yet again, referencing shapeshifting through the spinning of another timeless epic and finding all three principle participants at their most sensitive, transformational best.
Thus, here on this brand new album, Shapeshifters (out October 16th, 2020 via MoonJune Records), a rare, alluring euphonious feast awaits all those that dare come on inside and touch the musical spirits within.
1. 'Dark Sparks' [22:46]
2. 'Transmutation' [18:23]
3. 'Cyphers' [14:01]
4. 'Burn to Aether' [08:49]
Reuter, a German composer who has earned critical acclaim throughout Europe and America for his work as a composer, guitar player, guitar designer, sound designer, producer and teacher, opens with the, at times, ominously cultured, ethereal-steeled, gently pulsating, connotated orchestrations of 'Dark Sparks' and backs that up with the more industrially driven, swirly and guitar-flourished 'Transmutation.'
That is itself followed by the, at times, heated desert sizzle and yet, at others, the outer worlds, spacial, atmospheric magnificence of 'Cyphers,' closing on the drum-led beats, steady guitar and evenflow rhythms of 'Burn to Aether.'
Official Purchase Link
Markus Reuter @ Facebook
Markus Reuter @ Twitter
Markus Reuter @ Instagram
Title - 'Misadventure'
Artist - Diana DeMuth
For those not in the know, Diana DeMuth released her debut album, the quite magnificent Misadventure this past September 25th, 2020 via Creaky Gate Records.
Restless and ready to pave her own way, DeMuth has burst onto the singer-songwriter scene with an arresting perspective about life, love and self-discovery.
Growing up on the coast of Massachusetts, DeMuth was immersed in a bohemian upbringing where she moved from place to place with hippie parents.
That same restless spirit inhabited DeMuth. After seeing The Avett Brothers from the front row when she was 13, she was enamored with their raw performance and hunger on stage.
Indeed, in that very same moment, she knew she wanted to be an artist one day. So at 19, after going to college for one week, DeMuth left because she was certain music was her path.
For the past five years, she’s focused on just that, spending her time traveling and playing small gigs around America, while waitressing and honing her craft.
1. 'Hotel Song'
2. 'Into My Arms'
3. 'Rose of Nantucket'
4. 'The Young & The Blind'
5. 'Steady Rolling'
8. 'All The Liars'
9. 'In Ivory White'
10. 'Already Gone'
In her travels, DeMuth spent time in London. Feeling aimless, she ended up writing the opening track, the melodically dulcet 'Hotel Song.' “I just busted out of this hotel / Took all of my belongings / And I ran for it,” DeMuth belts out in the opening line over stark keys.
For DeMuth, the song was a breaking point: a door opening into a new chapter of her life. The track’s vagabond chorus evokes the liberating feeling of driving down an empty road with nothing but your dreams, destiny and the windows down.
Next up is the foot-tapping, euphorically upbeat beauty, 'Into My Arms' which is backed by the lo-fi wanderlust of 'Rose of Nantucket,' the immensely sanguine, pop bounce storytelling of 'The Young & The Blind,' and then the piano-led ballad, and cover of a Two Gallants’ track, 'Steady Rolling.'
The gently vibrant, mid-tempo singalong 'Signs' is yet another glorious allowance for us to listen to the unique vocal expertise brought forth by DeMuth, and that's followed by the low key Americana found within both 'Photographs' and the exultant 'All The Liars,' with the album rounding out on the delicate, graceful piano work of 'In Ivory White,' closing on the Americana folk sensibilities of 'Already Gone.'
DeMuth delves deeper into the message and inspiration of the song, 'Into My Arms' by saying: "Into My Arms is about breaking away from what holds you back, like small town talk, toxic relationships, dead-end jobs, and how liberating that feels."
"It’s the kind of song you stomp your foot and sing at the top of your lungs to. Whenever I sing it I’m always reminded of summers when I was young and driving around late at night with the windows down."
"There’s a joy to it that I love and it’s message speaks to the album as a whole. I hope people feel that joy and release when they listen.”
As for 'Steady Rolling,' DeMuth says: “Every time I play Steady Rolling I feel it in my bones. Something about this song and the way we recorded it feels unhinged and honest; it’s a pillar of the album."
"My producers Simone Felice and David Baron helped guide me to a place of being able to sing this in the raw and emotive way it wanted to be heard. I felt strongly about putting this song out now given the current climate and how uncertain these times are."
"I feel like the world needs music now more than ever and to feel connected through it. There’s a line in the chorus that goes, ‘And if you should ever need me, I’ll go wherever you lead me’."
"At its core, Steady Rolling is about humanity and how powerful and unrelenting our need for one another is.”
Official Purchase Links
Diana DeMuth @ Facebook
Diana DeMuth @ Instagram
Diana DeMuth @ YouTube
Title - 'Babygirl'
Artist - CF Watkins
For those unaware, Americana-pop singer-songwriter, CF Watkins, has announced her new album, Babygirl, due out October 16th, 2020, on Whatever’s Clever Records.
The first single, 'Frances,' is out now and showcases Watkins’ signature style, melding folk and country references with contemporary pop.
Based in Brooklyn for the past nine years, Watkins’ Americana-pop style embodies the influences of her North Carolina roots. Performing since the age of fourteen, she has shared the stage with acts like Langhorne Slim, Future Birds, Chatham County Line, Wilder Maker, Lowland Hum, and Alpenglow.
Her 2016 debut release, I Am New, as well as the single, 'Frances and Jack,' were produced by Daniel Goans of Lowland Hum at White Star Studios.
Filled with conscious themes of empowerment, Babygirl (and its title track), are both a coming of age story and an ode to female friendship. “Romances have come in and out of my life,” says Watkins, “But through it all, the relationships that continue to open my heart the most are grounded in the women I’ve known.”
1. 'The Tell'
7. 'Come Around'
9. 'New Hampshire'
10. 'Little Thing'
11. 'White Nights'
Opening on the drum-led, quietly mid-tempo lushness of 'The Tell,' that then bleeds seamlessly into the stroll and roll of 'Changeable,' the euphoric ambiance of the title track 'Babygirl,' the stoically evolving 'Dogwood,' and then the smoothly orchestrated, mid-tempo guitar work of 'Holly' is brought forth.
The foot-tappin', train-tracked vibe of 'Frances' (a song about Watkins’ late grandmother, whom she never met) is a stand out track here, and that's backed by the free flowing majesty of 'Come Around,' the fiddle-imbued 'Westfield,' rounding out with the upbeat ballad 'New Hampshire,' the infectious groove of 'Little Thing,' coming to a close on the passively emotive ballad 'White Nights.'
Watkins describes Babygirl as “... an album meant for other women to hear - with songs that are vulnerable and powerful. Sometimes that meant turning a feeling of self-consciousness and lack of confidence into a sort of rallying cry,” which is abundantly evident on 'The Tell.'
"I was not feeling confident about myself when I sat down to write, but instead of writing about that, I decided to write it as if I was confident, as if I knew I was enough, as if I believed I didn’t need anyone’s approval - because I thought the more I sang it, the more I might start to believe it.”
For the recording of Babygirl, Watkins collaborated with Max Hart, a producer and multi-instrumentalist who has previously worked with artists like The War On Drugs, Katy Perry, and Melissa Etheridge.
The album portrays her growth as both a person and a woman. “When I think about my last album, I feel I was writing songs about weakness,” Watkins says. “With this album, I made a conscious effort to write songs about the power of choosing yourself.”
'The Tell' Official Music Video
CF Watkins @ Facebook
CF Watkins @ Instagram
CF Watkins @ Twitter
CF Watkins @ YouTube
Title - 'More From the Levee'
Artist - Chris Smither
Guitarist. Bluesman. Interpreter. Touring musician. “One of the absolute best singer-songwriters in the world” (Associated Press).
And all this for more than 50 years. Chris Smither is an American original whose genius is both in his effortless, distinctive, rippling guitar (as he tells it, “one-third John Hurt, one-third Lightnin’ Hopkins and one-third me”) and in his reimagining the acoustic blues as a vehicle for rich, philosophically complex lyrics.
His songs offer a commentary on the human condition that only he can put pen to. They pull from deep in his soul, making for a kind of reflection, a timeless introspection.
More From the Levee, Smither’s 18th album (released October 2nd, 2020 via Signature Sounds), continues the milieu of his 50-year retrospective Still on the Levee (2014).
Reconnecting with his roots, Smither recorded the latter, a double album, in New Orleans at the fabled Music Shed. What resulted were 24 fresh takes on his songs with help from some very special guests including the legendary Allen Toussaint and Loudon Wainwright III.
With his fingers as supple as his voice, Smither effortlessly delivered the other half of his signature sound on Still on the Levee: the back-porch feel of intricate acoustic blues picking accompanied by his own boot-heel-on-wood rhythms.
More From The Levee contains ten of these gems, including fan favorites 'Drive You Home Again,' 'Caveman,' and a new Smither original titled 'What I Do.'
Producer Dave Goodrich says, "We still had extraordinary performances left in the vault, another irreducible collection of Chris's songs full of great performances, intimate and immediate. It's a truly special recording, a snapshot of some powerful music-making."
1. 'Lonely Time'
3. 'Drive You Home Again'
4. 'I Am The Ride'
5. 'What I Do'
6. 'Let It Go'
7. 'Hey Hey Hey'
8. 'The Caveman'
9. 'Old Man Down'
10. 'Father's Day'
With this new album also marking Smither's first vinyl release in over 35 years, it opens with the uptempo Americana blues of 'Lonely Time,' and backs that up with Country-light ambiance of 'Confirmation,' the foot-tappin', low slung blues magnificence of 'Drive You Home Again,' the lo-fi storytelling of 'I Am The Ride,' and then the light and breezy new track 'What I Do.'
Up next is the delicate at times, yet honest and storied blues calling of 'Let It Go' which is followed by the mid-tempo, travelin' Americana of 'Hey Hey Hey,' with the album rounding out with the beautiful guitar work of 'The Caveman,' the dug deep and firmly rooted soothsayer vibe of 'Old Man Down,' closing on the low brow reminiscing of 'Father's Day.'
In addition to Smither's core recording session band of producer David Goodrich, Billy Conway, Anita Suhanin, and Jimmy Fitting, More From the Levee features the aforementioned Allen Toussaint on 'Let It Go,' and members of Morphine on the haunting 'Drive You Home Again.'
Also making its debut is a brand new Chris Smither song 'What I Do,' a nod to his childhood and formative years in New Orleans.
'Lonely Time' Official Music Track
Official Purchase Link
Chris Smither @ Facebook
Chris Smither @ Instagram
Chris Smither @ Twitter
Chris Smither @ YouTube
Title - 'Weathering The Storm, Vol.1'
Artist - Rob Williams
For those not in the know, Richmond, VA-based Americana/roots rock singer-songwriter Rob Williams is set to release his fourth album, Weathering the Storm, Vol. 1, on August 28, 2020 via Evertone Records.
A natural storyteller who crafts melodies and narratives with intelligence and ease, Williams is known for his compelling, character-driven songs, and, with his new album, he shares his most moving and intimate work yet.
Full of beauty and balance, each track reveals the characteristic poise and brightness of Williams’ songwriting, blending the relaxed, free-wheeling spirit of old classic country with a new, more modern consciousness.
2. 'Me and You'
3. 'Falling Sky'
4. 'A Hard Time'
5. 'Only Heaven Knows'
6. 'Long Distance'
7. 'Moon's Light'
8. 'Ghostwriter (Rosie and Justin)'
9. 'Good with the Changes'
Opening with the foot-tappin' melodies of 'Nameless,' Williams backs that up with the beautifully strummed, sunshine acoustic 'Me and You,' the harder edged guitar work of 'Falling Sky,' and then we get the troubadour-infused 'A Hard Time' and the rootsy, lo-fi flow of 'Only Heaven Knows.'
The one-two, mid-tempo hipsway of 'Long Distance' is up next and is followed by the ornately orchestrated wonderment of 'Moon's Light,' with the album rounding out on the folk storytelling of 'Ghostwriter (Rosie and Justin),' closing on the flirtatious, piano-embedded back bone of the good ol' fashioned rocker 'Good with the Changes.'
While the album title may conjure images of the country’s recent tornado devastation or the general upheaval of American life in 2020, the root inspiration is Williams’ personal experience with depression.
An album that blends elegance, approachability, and a refreshing amount of candor, Weathering the Storm, Vol. 1 features driving acoustic guitar rhythms, warm horn harmonies, and the introduction of newer elements like raw electric guitar and textured vocal effects.
The songs on the album reside between the rough calm of alt-rock bands like The Wallflowers and the open-hearted, windows-down purity of artists like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
'Nameless' Official Music Track
'Me And You' Official Music Track
'Moon's Light' Official Music Track
'Only Heaven Knows' Official Music Track
Official Purchase Link
Rob Williams @ Facebook
Rob Williams @ Instagram
Rob Williams @ Twitter
Evertone Records @ Facebook
Title - 'Reincarnated' [Pure Audio Blu-ray + CD]
Artist - Hazar
For those not in the know, on his new album Reincarnated (out now via Immersive Audio Network, and thanks to Pure Audio Blu-Ray, brought to us with an almost 3D sound experience in Dolby Atmos that clearly enhances and accentuates the "live" sound), Hazar shows an outstanding virtuosity and masters a congenial interplay, alternating with sonorous melodies, fast solo lines and breathtaking technique, while always adding new emotional depth to his playing.
For the recordings he collaborated with jazz guitarist Michael Sagmeister who contributed as a supervisor at his side. The tracks were recorded in a studio where Miles Davis made his recordings during his lifetime and mastered at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London.
More than ten years ago Hazar caused a sensation with his album Virtuoso, on which he played Paganini, Mozart and Bach with the saz on only three strings.
His artistry with long-necked lutes in perfect form, Hazar turned to the guitar at the height of his career.
As the title of Hazar's album suggests, Reincarnated marks a new era in his life, that is based on an impressive background.
1, 'Made for Wesley'
2. 'Spain' (featuring Al Di Meola)
3. 'Bossa Dorado'
4. 'Black Orpheus'
5. 'Made In France'
7. 'For Sephora'
8. 'Donna Lee'
9. 'Le Vieux Tzigane'
Also featuring special guest guitar virtuoso Al Di Meola, this quite magnificent album opens with the stunningly profound guitar mastery of 'Made for Wesley' and backs that up with one of the albums stand out tracks, the delightfully perky 'Spain' (featuring Al Di Meola).
We then get the, at first, piano-led, then the gentle acoustic guitar work of the immaculately orchestrated 'Bossa Dorado,' the playfully funky 'Black Orpheus,' and another stand out cut, the warmly inviting, yet vibrant tempo of 'Made In France.'
Next up is a delectable rendition of Gershwin's evergreen 'Summertime' which is itself backed by the free flowing 'For Sephora,' his wondrous reinterpretation of Charlie Parker's 'Donna Lee,' with the album gracefully closing on the instrumentalists virtuoso skills coming to the fore on the breathtaking 'Le Vieux Tzigane'
2.0 PCM 24Bit / 96kHz
5.1 DTS-HD MA 24Bit / 48kHz
7.1.4 Auro-3D 11.1 24Bit / 48kHz
mShuttle: 3D Binaural, FLAC
Official Purchase Link
'Bossa Dorado' (Official Music Video)
'Black Orpheus' (Music Video)
'Spain' (Music Video)
Hazar @ Instagram
Hazar @ Facebook
Title - 'Bucket List'
Artist - Jim Waller Big Band
For those not in the know, Jazz musician and educator Jim Waller, who played with Los Blues, has produced a big band album at the University of the Incarnate Word's state of the art recording studio.
Entitled Bucket List, and featuring Jacqueline Sotelo on some of the tracks, the album is readily available now and even has a vinyl release planned.
1. 'Samba for Suzell' (feat. Will Kennedy)
2. 'I Love Being Here With You' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo)
3. 'New Blue Funk'
4. 'Blues for Los Blues'
5. 'Georgia on My Mind' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo)
6. 'Waltz for Laura'
7. 'Rhapsondy in Blue'
8. 'Why Don't You Do Right' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo)
9. 'Funksuite 109' (feat. Will Kennedy)
10. 'Goody Goody' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo)
11. 'Honky Tonk'
12. 'God Bless the Child' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo)
13. 'This Is It'
Opening with the finger-snappin exuberance of 'Samba for Suzell' (feat. Will Kennedy), they back that up seamlessly with the energetic swing of 'I Love Being Here with You' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo), and then the free flowing, book end duo of 'New Blue Funk' and 'Blues for Los Blues' and then give us a rather sultry rendition of the Ray Charles classic 'Georgia on My Mind' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo).
The tempo is then turned up for the feisty 'Waltz for Laura' before we get a brand new arrangement of George Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue,' which is followed by the moody hipsway of 'Why Don't You Do Right' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo), the funky, Hammond-inspired 'Funksuite 109' (feat. Will Kennedy) and then the laid back, lusciously orchestrated tones of 'A Ballad for Bob.'
The album then next brings us the vibrantly imbued, foot-tappin' beauty 'Goody Goody' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo), the blues guitar work of 'Honky Tonk,' and then rounds out with a delightfully observant rendition of Billie Holiday's 'God Bless the Child' (feat. Jacqueline Sotelo), closing on the upbeat and flirtatiously infectious 'This Is It.'
Apple Music Purchase Link
Title - 4 Little Richard Expanded CDs from Omnivore Record
Artist - Little Richard
For those not in the know, Omnivore Recordings continues its series of expanded reissues of Little Richard’s ’70s and ’80s albums, firstly with key comeback albums, 1970’s The Rill Thing and then 1971’s King of Rock and Roll (out September 18th, 2020), with 1972’s The Second Coming and 1986’s Lifetime Friend both set for release on October 23rd, 2020.
These four (4) collections continued the rocker’s successful album career, which followed his explosive, genre-launching run of late ’50s singles on Specialty Records: 'Tutti Frutti,' 'Long Tall Sally,' 'Rip It Up,' 'Lucille,' 'Keep A-Knockin’' and more, as well as his gospel recordings in the ’60s.
Packaging for all four (4) titles features photos, ephemera, and a new essay from Bill Dahl.
Most recording artists are lucky to enjoy one successful comeback. As befit a rock ’n’ roll pioneer on his exalted scale, Little Richard waged several.
Once upon a time, when he was racking up a non-stop string of mid-’50s smashes for Specialty Records producer Bumps Blackwell with his blistering New Orleans-cut 'Tutti Frutti,' 'Long Tall Sally,' and 'Rip It Up,' the Georgia Peach was deemed too uninhibited and unpredictable for TV variety shows to present to the nation.
Little Richard returned in 1970 with The Rill Thing and instead of sticking around his adopted home of Los Angeles, Richard set out for Rick Hall’s FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record the album for Reprise, joined by Bumps, who was now his manager.
The Rill Thing: Expanded Edition
1. 'Freedom Blues'
2. 'Greenwood, Mississippi'
3. 'Two-Time Loser'
4. 'Dew Drop Inn'
5. 'Somebody Saw You'
6. 'Spreadin’ Natta, What’s The Matter?'
7. 'The Rill Thing'
8. 'Lovesick Blues'
9. 'I Saw Her Standing There'
10. 'Shake Your Hand (If You Can)' [Bonus Track]
11. Radio Spot A [Bonus Track]
12. Radio Spot B [Bonus Track]
13. 'I Saw Her Standing There (Single Edit)' [Bonus Track]
Had Little Richard's rock `n' roll career ended with his 1957 turn to the ministry, he'd still be remembered as a powerful, flamboyant singer who reeled off a string of unforgettable, incendiary singles for Art Rupe's Specialty Records.
His early `60s return to rock, fueled in part by attention from the British Invasion, resulted in some good sides in his signature style, but it wasn't until his 1970 signing with Reprise that he really found an updated sound that made the most of his gospel power and rock `n' roll fire.
Recorded in Muscle Shoals, the rhythm section on these sessions is propulsive and the electric guitars swampy. Richard's gospel-based belting turns out to be a perfect fit for the solid rhythms, heavy bass lines and superb sax solos.
A couple of tracks, notably Esquerita's 'Dew Drop Inn' (kicking off with the drum riff that opened 'I Hear You Knockin''), capture the abandon of Richard's 1950s sides, but others, such as the album's lead-off single, 'Freedom Blues' and the Allman-styled blues 'Two-Time Loser' are funkier and deeper in message.
Richard is in stellar voice throughout, adding a testifying edge to Travis Wammack's swampy 'Greenwood, Mississippi' and belting out the original 'Spreadin' Natta, What's the Matter?'
A New Orleans' styled cover of 'Lovesick Blues' is almost unrecognizable as the song Hank Williams took to the top of the charts, and the closing arrangement of the Beatles' 'I Saw Her Standing There' adds horns and a Southern sound.
Indeed, the album's 10-minute title track is a Crusaders-styled instrumental with Richard on electric piano backed by horns, guitar and a punchy rhythm section.
This reissue features the remastered comeback album, plus the single-only 'Shake A Hand (If You Can)' — originally recorded by Richard in 1959, and later covered by LaVern Baker, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, and others — radio ads, and more.
The Rill Thing: Expanded Edition CD - Official Purchase Link
No one expected the power of Little Richard’s return in 1970 with The Rill Thing. The following year’s King of Rock And Roll helped demonstrate that it was no fluke.
This time, instead of handling the production and arranging duties himself, Richard handed those responsibilities off to the multi-talented H.B. Barnum, a widely-respected actor, musician, vocalist, arranger and producer who was on call for the likes of the Supremes, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin and Lou Rawls among others.
King of Rock and Roll: Expanded Edition
1. 'King Of Rock And Roll'
2. 'Joy To The World'
3. 'Brown Sugar'
4. 'In The Name'
5. 'Dancing In The Street'
6. 'Midnight Special'
7. 'The Way You Do The Things You Do'
8. 'Green Power'
9. 'I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry'
10. 'Settin’ The Woods On Fire'
11. 'Born On The Bayou'
12. 'In The Name (Version 2)' [Bonus Track]
13. 'Why Don't You Love Me' [Bonus Track]
14. 'Still Miss Liza Jane' [Bonus Track]
15. 'Open Up The Red Sea' [Bonus Track]
16. 'Mississippi' [Bonus Track]
17. 'Settin' The Woods On Fire' [Bonus Track]
From originals to covers of Motown classics, The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hank Williams, and Hoyt Axton’s 'Joy To The World' (made famous by Three Dog Night), there was no doubt who sat on the throne of popular music.
This time around, 'Green Power' was selected as the single with its flip, 'Dancing In The Street,' but no chart action was to be had. Though Don Peterson’s striking cover photo likely attracted more than one taker browsing the record stores in ’71.
This is a more flamboyant and self-celebrating affair than its predecessor, from the album's title track to the lengthy, self-aggrandizing introduction he gives himself on the cover of Hoyt Axton's 'Joy to the World.'
In fact, those who remember Richard's television appearances in the 1970s ("Shut up!") will recognize the character here.
As great as were the brassy, bass-heavy arrangements of The Rill Thing, Barnum's production update doesn't work. Richard's belting vocals sound out-of-time against the flaccid, near-disco arrangements of the aforementioned 'Joy to the World' and 'Brown Sugar.'
Better are the funky, hyperventilating reinterpretation of 'Dancing in the Street' and the soul shout of 'Midnight Special,' though here again the early `70s backing vocals are dated.
Richard's original 'In the Name' is sung in a compelling croon, and 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' works well in its Stax-styled arrangement.
The album's closing cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Born on the Bayou' fits nicely enough, but it reveals more about Richard's impact on John Fogerty than it provides an opportunity to create something new.
That all said, Richard does sound engaged, but his producer wasn't able to craft a compelling showcase for his vocals, nor help him select material that offered the best vehicles for interpretation.
This reissue features the remastered album plus six bonus tracks, (including session material, radio ads, and more).
King of Rock And Roll: Expanded Edition CD - Official Purchase Link
Naming his third album for Reprise The Second Coming may have been pushing the outrageousness a bit far, but considering his previously LP was titled King Of Rock And Roll it was clear that humility was not Little Richard’s strongest attribute.
However, it was more a nod to the concept of the album, than the ego of the artist.
Reuniting with Robert “Bumps” Blackwell and a host of studio musicians from the ’50s, the studio team was met by some of the top session players of the early ’70s at The Record Plant in Los Angeles to cut the album.
Notable players like Lee Allen, Jim Horn, Earl Palmer, Chuck Rainey, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow were on hand for the proceedings.
The Second Coming: Expanded Edition
1. 'Mockingbird Sally'
2. 'Second Line'
3. 'It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way How You Do It '
4. 'The Saints'
5. 'Nuki Suki'
6. 'Rockin’ Rockin’ Boogie'
7. 'Prophet Of Peace'
9. 'Sanctified, Satisfied Toe-Tapper'
10. 'Money Is' [Bonus Track]
11. 'Do It – To It' [Bonus Track]
12. 'Mockingbird Sally (Single Edit)' [Bonus Track]
13. 'Money Is (Single Edit)' [Bonus Track]
After the Muscle Shoals swamp-rock of 1970's The Rill Thing and the misfire mélange of `50s rock and `70s R&B on 1971's King of Rock And Roll, Richard third's and final album for Reprise splits the difference.
The rock `n' roll sides, recorded with many of the New Orleans players who backed Richard's 1950s sessions, are shorn of the dated neo-disco touches H.B. Barnum added to the preceding album, and though the grooves never cut as deep as the earlier Muscle Shoals session, there's a good helping of funk here.
Indeed, Lee Allen provides fat sax tone, and Earl Palmer anchors the second line beats with greatest of ease.
Producer Bumps Blackwell's work is more husky here than on his and Richard's seminal mid-50s sides, mixing the funky jazz sounds of New Orleans with a bit of Stax soul.
As on the Muscle Shoals sessions, Richard sounds comfortable, if not always as energized. 'When the Saints Go Marching In' is ignited by Richard's revival-pitch vocal and superb playing by both Palmer and Allen, and the funk continues on the mostly instrumental 'Nuki Suki,' with Richard's clavinet and the saxophone's yelps giving way to short, lascivious vocal breaks.
A wah-wah-and-bass groove provides the foundation of 'Prophet of Peace,' and the closing 'Sanctified, Satisfied Toe-Tapper' is a seven-minute instrumental.
The album's most unusual track is a co-write with Sneaky Pete Kleinow, 'It Ain't What You Do, It's the Way You Do It,' featuring Kleinow's steel guitar.
Richard and Blackwell's original rock `n' roll grooves show themselves on 'Rockin' Rockin' Boogie' and 'Thomasine.' While this isn't as inventive or forward thinking as The Rill Thing, it's a great deal more solid than King of Rock `n' Roll, and deserved larger commercial success at the time.
This reissue contains the original release, plus single edits, and tracks from the 1971 film $ (starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn), composed by Quincy Jones.
The Second Coming: Expanded Edition CD - Official Purchase Link
After the 1984 release of his autobiography, The Quasar Of Rock And Roll, Little Richard decided to come out of retirement.
It had been seven years since his last record, the gospel-focused God’s Beautiful City, and over a decade from his 1970s return album run on the Reprise label (The Rill Thing, King Of Rock And Roll, and The Second Coming, plus the one that Reprise shelved at the time, Southern Child).
For the new album, Richard went overseas to record in London with a powerhouse band including Billy Preston, Muscle Shoals guitarist Travis Wammack, bassist Jesse Boyce, and drummer James Stroud with producer Stuart Colman at the helm. Warner Bros., unleashed Lifetime Friend in 1986.
With ten tracks of rock ’n’ roll mixed with spiritual lyrics (and even an early rap appearance), the release was another return to form. His third coming, one could say!
The album’s blistering opener 'Great Gosh A’Mighty' (co-written with Billy Preston) would even be recut by Richard for the film Down And Out In Beverly Hills, nearly cracking the Top 40.
Two other tracks, 'Operator' and 'Somebody’s Comin’,' would both also make chart appearances in the UK.
Lifetime Friend: Expanded Edition
1. 'Great Gosh A’Mighty'
3. 'Somebody’s Comin’'
4. 'Lifetime Friend'
6. 'I Found My Way'
7. 'The World Can’t Do Me'
8. 'One Ray Of Sunshine'
9. 'Someone Cares'
10. 'Big House Reunion'
11. 'Operator (Single Edit)' [Bonus Track]
12. 'Operator (Extended Mix)' [Bonus Track]
Little Richards' previous Gospel recordings were traditional, with the exception of the incredible, uptempo 'He Got What He Wanted (But He Lost What He Had)', which was really traditional meets the big beat.
Funnily enough, as a side note, whilst Richard was headlining for The Beatles in 1962, it was a Top 40 UK hit!
Well, that record did not make the charts at home, and like a lot of his non-secular material, did not make it onto an album either, including the original version of this album.
For my money, 'I Found My Way' is a simply terrific rap-meets-rock arrangement, with inspirational lyrics toboot, along with an exhilarating 'Destruction,' which is yet another exciting, uplifting number.
Sadly, it is well known now that Richard had a terrible automobile accident about halfway through the sessions and apparently flew back home to film a part in a TV show; all whilst still being plagued by those injuries until his dying day.
As a result, some cuts are more powerful than others. But the underlying fact is that Richard sounded good to great on these enjoyable, excellent numbers.
That said, a wee bit too much over-production really hurts the medium-tempo 'Operator,' which was one of the tracks recorded before the accident and it's been said that his soaring voice - here covered with trendy techno effects of the time - were totally unnecessary.
However, his version of 'Great Gosh A-Mighty' is not the same recording as the one found on the soundtrack to the movie Down And Out In Beverly Hills,' just so you know, as that one is a ballbuster, for sure!
It's a more driving, rough sound (believe it or not) and despite running a tad too long, and featuring a sax solo inhibited by a presumptive dishrag lodged inside, it's a fine effort, nonetheless.
Overall though, Producer Stuart Coleman did a very good job here, mixing the best of the old and new, providing a bright showcase for a great singer with several very respectable and relevant tunes still to showcase.
This reissue adds both the single edit and an extended mix of the single 'Operator,' and the packaging contains photos, ephemera, and new liner notes for Bill Dahl.
As Dahl writes in his liners, “Rock ’n’ roll never had a better friend than Little Richard Penniman. He devoted most of his life to it."
"Lifetime Friend was his last great recorded statement, and even if Long Tall Sally, Miss Molly, and Lucille weren’t in the choir, Richard gave the album his heavenly best.”
Lifetime Friend: Expanded Edition CD - Official Purchase Link
Official Little Richard Trailer
Title - 'Fifth Season'
Artist - Ben Zucker
For those unaware, the just-released Fifth Season (on the artist-run collective Amalgam Records) is the bandleader debut of multi-instrumentalist composer and improviser Ben Zucker.
Currently based in Chicago, Ben's music draws upon a varied practice combining experimental forms and styles, the product of studies and collaborations across North America and the UK.
Ultimately, his concerns as a music maker are about experience, and how we come to understand the world as it unfolds in real time and place ourselves in it in new yet responsible (response-able) ways.
The music of Fifth Season, in particular, enables active collaboration and creativity through setting up improvised contexts via narrative text.
By using long-form prose descriptions of gestures and textures, the forms of the music are guided yet open-ended, and content is constantly made anew in the moment.
It has allowed the music to come to life in many different ways in the hands of various performers, who are able to bring their vocabularies to the fore and merge it with the "notation".
Adam Shead (John Dikeman, Jason Stein, leader of the Adiaphora Orchestra), Eli Namay (Jer'af, Phil Sudderberg, Gilded Records), and Mabel Kwan (Ensemble Dal Niente, Deerhoof, Restroy) likewise represent a wide range of the city's strong communities of new music.
1. 'Sussurigation A'
2. 'Fifth Season: I'
3. 'Fifth Season: II'
4. 'Fifth Season: III'
5. 'Fifth Season: IV'
6. 'Moths Eating the Wallpaper of Concorde'
7. 'Sussurigation B'
8. 'Sixth Skin Pataforming'
Opening this vibrantly alive, always alluring and truly enticing album, and one of such incredibly documented musical communications and explorations at that, is the lo-fi magnificence of the vibraphone-infused, and briskly enhanced percussion work of 'Sussurigation A' which in turn is backed by the four chapters of the title track.
First is 'Fifth Season: I,' a chance for the tempo to be raised somewhat and that's followed neatly by the drum-led 'II,' then both we get the explorative precision of 'III,' and finally the flirtatiously perky, upright bass work and key work of 'IV.'
The longest track at just under 12 minutes here on the album is the impressive instrumentation shown within the hallowed, spatial confines of 'Moths Eating the Wallpaper of Concorde', where yet more experimental visions are fleshed out, with the album rounding out with the, at times, coquettish chamber music of 'Sussurigation B' eventually feeding into the darker, industrialized at times, stretched, contorted and even cinematic in nature, 'Sixth Skin Pataforming.'
Ben Zucker - Vibraphone
Mabel Kwan - Piano
Eli Namay - Upright bass
Adam Shead - Drums
'The Tell' Official Purchase Link
Ben Zucker @ Facebook
Title - 'Casually Containing Rage' [EP]
Artist - Potter's Daughter
For those not in the know, the international art pop band Potter’s Daughter was formed in NYC while North Pocono native Dyanne Potter Voegtlin (piano, vocals, composer) was studying classical piano performance at the Manhattan School of Music.
The group performed regularly in NYC, as well as in northeastern PA, and has been featured on radio and TV.
Back in July of 2018, they joined forces with longtime friend, Amit Chatterjee, (producer, arranger, and guitarist), Ian C. Voegtlin (composer, guitarist, saxophonist), Randy Crafton (percussion), and Walter Sitz (drums) and released their stunning debut album, The Blind Side.
In August of 2019 they then released a Potter's Daughter single, 'Blood and Water' (which also featured a very special guest artist, Annie Haslam from Renaissance on vocals), which was followed in November of that year by another single, the aptly-named 'This Winter's Child.'
Melodic Revolution Records has now announced the release of a brand new Potters’ Daughter EP entitled Casually Containing Rage, with the title speaking differently to each of the three songs on the EP - but especially to their song about racial injustice, 'We Could Be.'
1. 'To My Love'
2. 'Accidentally Like a Martyr'
3. 'We Could Be'
The opening track of the trio, 'To My Love' is a completely new arrangement from their song that appeared on their debut album, The Blind Side, but their take on the wondrous Warren Zevon 'Accidentally Like A Martyr' (also known as one of the best break-up songs ever written!) is definitely the stand out track here for me.
The last track is a politically-charged, highly motivated, and yet calmly sung and serenely orchestrated one, that tells the story of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black American man who was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill.
It proclaims we need to all come together, that we can all be better than this (act), and that those in power must prove their collective understanding of where the world stands today.
'We Could Be' (Official Music Video)
Official CD EP / Digital Purchase Link
Potter's Daughter @ Facebook
Title - 'Sobering Times'
Artist - Ricky Byrd
For those not in the know, former Joan Jett & the Blackhearts guitarist Ricky Byrd will be releasing his long-anticipated third solo album, Sobering Times this coming September 29th, 2020 via Kayos Records.
In much the same vein, this follow-up to Byrd’s 2017 album, Clean Getaway, is a brand new collection of 12 tracks that both reflect on, and offer hope to, people recovering from their own personal addictions.
Being released on the 33rd anniversary of the day Byrd started his very own journey to sobriety, the album features contributions from veteran musicians such as longtime Blackhearts drummer Thommy Price, ex-Billy Joel drummer Liberty DeVitto, former Wings drummer Steve Holley, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes keyboardist Jeff Kazee, and longtime Saturday Night Live band singer Christine “The Beehive Queen” Ohlman.
1. 'Quittin’ Time (Again)'
3. 'Hear My Song'
5. 'I Come Back Stronger'
6. 'Starlit Night'
7. 'Recover Me' (featuring Willie Nile)
8. 'Ain’t Gonna Live Like That'
9. 'Pour Me'
10. 'The Bottle Let Me Down'
11. 'Life Is Good'
12. 'Just Like You'
Opening with the melodic, mid-tempo 'Quittin’ Time (Again),' he backs that up seamlessly with 'Together,' 'Hear My Song,' and 'Tired,' with the steeled, standing tall ambiance of the Springsteen-esque 'I Come Back Stronger' (a collaboration with Richie Supa, who co-wrote several well-known Aerosmith tunes),up next.
On an album dominated by confessions (Ricky used for 18 years, on a daily basis), that include, but are not limited to, blackouts, memory loss, a smorgasbord of regrets, and endless bouts of self-pity and lonesome days lost, a lot of those flashbacks are covered in tracks such as 'Starlit Night,' 'Recover Me' (which features veteran singer/songwriter Willie Nile), and one of my own personal favorites, the personal deep dive, and co-write with Emily Duff) of 'Ain’t Gonna Live Like That.'
This distinctively heartfelt new album rounds out with the reflectively connected duo of 'Pour Me' and his cover of the Merle Haggard classic 'The Bottle Let Me Down,' the vibrantly uplifting 'Life Is Good,' before closing on the earnest yearning of 'Just Like You.'
"It gives me great pleasure to shout at the top of my lungs (inside) that my next CD, Sobering Times, is complete. Took bloody long enough," Byrd laughs.
"This new one follows the same theme as the previous CD Clean Getaway, with songs that speak to addiction, recovery, hope and a change for the better."
"Loud and proud rockers, beautiful acoustics and all points in between. I have a fantastic batch of new tunes that I've been playing in my recovery music groups at treatment facilities the past year or so, and it's now time to pass them on to the rest of you."
"The players are top notch as usual including Steve Holley, Liberty DeVitto, Rich Pagano and my old bandmate with the Blackhearts Thommy Price on drums," Byrd continues.
"Bob Stander is on bass and Jeff Kazee is on the keys. If that weren’t enough, we have my soul sister Christine (The Beehive Queen) Ohlman, who along with B3 Kazee did a mighty fine job of singing backgrounds with me."
You can order Sobering Times now at www.RickyByrd.com on CD and digitally (Signed CDs will also be available).
Byrd was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 as a member of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.
Ricky Byrd @ Facebook
Ricky Byrd @ Instagram
Ricky Byrd @ Twitter
Ricky Byrd @ YouTube
Title - 'Songs From Isolation'
Artist - Dane Clark and the Backroom Boys
For those not in the know, Dane Clark has just released Songs From Isolation on August 21st, 2020 (via Thundersound Records), the first pandemic-themed and pandemic-spawned rock album to be issued while COVID-19 continues to ravage the country.
Indiana-based Clark is well known as the touring and recording drummer in John Mellencamp’s band and is an accomplished vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who has previously recorded and released six critically lauded albums; all featuring a range of guest musicians, including Carlene Carter, Donovan, Ian Hunter, Mickey Raphael and members of Moby Grape.
Clark’s basement home studio served as headquarters for the effort to musically chronicle these extraordinary times with collaborating musicians working out of their own respective workspaces on the project.
With touring at a standstill and concerts non-existent, Clark found himself locked down at home in Anderson, IN and living on unemployment insurance during the early weeks of the pandemic.
1. 'You'll All Be Hearin' From Me'
2. 'Six Feet Away'
3. 'Ain't Gettin' Out Of Bed Today'
4. 'Killin' Time'
5. 'After The Rain'
6. 'Sitting In Limbo'
7. 'Your Heart's Still Mine'
8. 'When The Panic Sets In'
10. 'Keep The Lights On'
11. 'You'll All Be Hearin' From Me Reprise'
12. 'Long Road Back'
13. 'Keep The Lights On' (Acoustic Version) [CD Bonus Track]
This rambunctious album opens with the harmonica-driven (courtesy of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian) beauty 'You'll All Be Hearin' From Me' and backs that up seamlessly with the piano-led, mid-tempo 'Six Feet Away,' and then comes the harmonious ballad 'Ain't Gettin' Out Of Bed Today,' the magnificent '60s flashback ambiance of 'Killin' Time,' and both the Mellencamp-esque rocker 'After The Rain' (which is no surprise, given that Clark has been his drummer now for some 24 years!), and the percussion-imbued, countrified AOR of 'Sitting In Limbo.'
Next up is the Springsteen-esque rocker 'Your Heart's Still Mine,' which is followed by the atmospherically euphoric guitar work of 'When The Panic Sets In,' the drum-led, one-two prog rock punch of 'Isolation,' the down South, Hammond-inspired, the slow roll of 'Keep The Lights On' (which is a duet with his daughter, Abigail Clark), before rounding out on a brief harmonica and guitar driven stand off on 'You'll All Be Hearin' From Me Reprise,' closing on the laid back, '70s AOR of 'Long Road Back' (which again features his daughter, Abigail).
Also inclusive of 'Keep The Lights On' (Acoustic Version) [a CD Bonus Track], you can now watch their brand new single 'Keep The Lights On' - Dane Clark, John Sebastian and Abigail Clark with The Backroom Boys by clicking this link!
"Greetings from isolation music fans! I sincerely hope everyone is staying safe and healthy in body, mind and spirit. These last few months have sure been a wake up call to me, as I’m sure they have to all of you."
"With live music virtually nonexistent and all recording sessions cancelled, I found a way to keep busy. Start a new band and make an album (and a batch of videos) about this pandemic!"
"On August 21st I am releasing Songs From Isolation by Dane Clark and the Backroom Boys featuring John Sebastian, Abigail Clark and Jason Sturgeon."
"This 12 song album was recorded by all involved from their own workspaces and mixed by me at my Thundersound Studio. And yes, we are VERY honored to have the legendary John Sebastian, on harmonica and guitar, as part of our line up."
"The band is rounded up by myself on drums and vocals, Troye Kinnett on all manner of keyboards and vocals, Randy Melson on bass guitar, Erik Scull on guitars and vocals, and my daughter Abigail Clark on vocals."
"My old friends Jason Sturgeon (vocals) and Scott Kemper (piano) are also featured on the album. We will be releasing electronically everywhere, as well as in CD format, which will be available from my website."
"We hope to be able to play the whole record from top to bottom in a few venues before the end of the year, but we will have to see how that works out pandemically."
"Miss playing music for you all and hope to see everyone soon!"
You can order Songs From Isolation now at www.DaneClark.com on CD.
Dane Clark @ Facebook
Dane Clark @ Twitter
Dane Clark @ YouTube
Title - 'Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music & Memories'
Artist - Various
For those not in the know, well, get ready to hear the music of Fred Rogers like you’ve never heard it before!
Mister Rogers’ songs have been reimagined and newly recorded into a tapestry of popular musical styles here in the truly magnificent Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music & Memories (out now via BFD Music).
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood when you hear Fred’s songs uniquely interpreted and performed by legendary award-winning artists: Kellie Pickler, Mickey Dolenz (lead singer of The Monkees), Vanessa Williams, Sandi Patty, Rita Wilson, Lee Greenwood, Jim Brickman, Jaci Velasquez, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. (original members of The Fifth Dimension), The Cowsills, Tom Bergeron, and Jon Secada.
After fifty years on television, Fred Rogers is back the spotlight again. The success of the Morgan Neville documentary and the already highly-beloved film featuring Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers, have rekindled a love and affection that inspired Fred Rogers to be known as “America’s Favorite Neighbor.”
But on this album, it’s all Fred’s music! Fred Rogers wrote over two hundred songs for his show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Under the direction of two-time Grammy and Emmy winning producer/arranger Dennis Scott, this recording offers fans of a one-of-a kind collection featuring Mister Rogers’ most memorable songs performed by some of the most recognizable voices in pop music.
1. 'WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR' - THE COWSILLS
2. 'YOU CAN NEVER GO DOWN THE DRAIN' - JACI VELASQUEZ
3. 'SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE GOOD' - RITA WILSON
4. 'PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL DAY' - MICKY DOLENZ
5. 'MANY WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU' - VANESSA WILLIAMS
6. 'SOME THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND' - TOM BERGERON
7. 'THIS IS MY HOME' - JIM BRICKMAN
8. 'LET'S BE TOGETHER' - MARILYN MCCOO AND BILLY DAVIS, JR.
9. 'PLEASE DON'T THINK IT'S FUNNY' - SANDI PATTY
10. 'IT'S SUCH A GOOD FEELING' - KELLIE PICKLER
11. 'WHEN THE DAY TURNS INTO NIGHT' - LEE GREENWOOD
12. 'PODEMOS SER AMIGOS' - JON SECADA
13. 'THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU' - THE ENSEMBLE
In a world of popular music plagued by depressing lyrics, banal melodies, and glass-shattering vocal acrobatics, Thank You, Mister Rogers rises head and shoulders above the mediocre soundtrack we are confronted with in our daily lives.
This is an album with a remarkable array of talent; singers who can actually express a thought with feeling, clever and catchy arrangements, intelligent harmonies, and an overall sound palette that tells you that everything is all right in the world.
A perfect collection of hand-crafted songs then can be enjoyed by children of all ages, yet sophisticated enough for their parents and grandparents.
The album takes you on a journey through different styles, many voices and personalities, all united by an evident love of Fred Rogers' music and the sweet vibrations that permeate his songs.
To put such a compendium together and make it gel must have been complicated, but producer Dennis Scott seems to have a genius for such endeavors, which have won him well-deserved Grammys in past years.
And Scott adds a touching coda to the album with his own composition, 'Thank You for Being You,' which rounds out the album within the sweetness of an ensemble recording.
"Each song in this collection is different from the other and each singer has made it their own. Fred would be delighted to know that his music lives on to new generations.” - David Newell (Mr. McFeely from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood").
"I Love it. And Fred would have loved it” - Joanne Rogers.
You can order Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music & Memories now at Amazon on CD.
'Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music and Memories' Tribute Album - Promotional Reel
Title - 'Words & Music: Newly Remastered Compilation'
Artist - Ray Thomas
For those not in the know, Words & Music: Newly Remastered Compilation is a brand collection of recordings celebrating the musical life and work of Ray Thomas.
Ray was a founder member of The Moody Blues, a band whose legacy and classic albums need no introduction. When the band went on a hiatus in the mid-'70s, Ray recorded two solo albums for the band's Threshold label: From Mighty Oaks and Hopes, Wishes & Dreams.
Sadly, Ray passed away in January 2018 leaving behind a wonderful legacy of work, including his very last song (co-written and recorded with the Welsh musician Ryland Teifi): 'Dada's Song', a piece which lyrically paid homage to Ray's Welsh ancestry.
This compilation gathers together a collection of songs from the first line-up of the Moody Blues, Ray's solo album and includes the first ever release of 'Dada's Song'.
1. 'It Ain't Necessarily So'
2. 'From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)'
3. 'How Can We Hang on to a Dream'
4. 'I Wish We Could Fly'
5. 'High Above My Head'
6. 'Adam and I'
7. 'Love Is the Key'
8. 'Rock-A-Bye Baby Blues'
10. 'Didn't I'
11. 'Within Your Eyes'
12. 'We Need Love'
13. 'The Last Dream'
14. 'The Trouble with Memories'
15. 'Dada's Song'
Opening with the Magnificent Moodies' slow poke version of 'It Ain't Necessarily So, featuring Thomas on lead vocals (and, for my money, one of their best songs from their R&B years 1964-66), next up is the terrific 'From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)' (which Pinder himself once likened the background vocals on this track to those on 'Nights in White Satin'), and then the delicately beautiful 'How Can We Hang on to a Dream' (which I personally first heard by The Nice with Keith Emerson).
After those opening Moodies songs, we then get Thomas' sweepingly magnificent vocals onward, perhaps nonemoreso than here on 'I Wish We Could Fly,' which is backed by the foot-tappin' High Above My Head' (which bears a canny resemblance to Elton John's 'Elderberry Wine'), the relaxing melodies of 'Adam and I,' and then both the passionate 'Love Is the Key' and the lazy-hazy, overlooked gem 'Rock-A-Bye Baby Blues.'
Next up is the truly beautiful, soaring 'Migration' which is followed by some '70s soul music at its finest within 'Didn't I,' the Folk with a touch of Psychedelia track 'Within Your Eyes,' and then the incredible orchestral arrangement of 'We Need Love.'
This quite magnificent new compilation then rounds out with the piano-led ballad 'The Last Dream,' the yearning of 'The Trouble with Memories,' coming to a righteous close on the aforementioned very last song that Thomas recorded, his beautiful homage to to his homeland of Wales, 'Dada's Song.'
It also includes a bonus DVD (NTSC / Region 0) which features the 5.1 surround sound mix of Ray's 1975 album From Mighty Oaks, the 1975 promotional video of 'High Above My Head' and the new video for 'Dada's Song' exclusively shot for this release.
Words, Pictures & Music From Mighty Oaks - 5.1 Surround Sound Mix
From Mighty Oaks (5.1 Surround Mix)
Hey Mama Life (5.1 Surround Mix)
Play It Again (5.1 Surround Mix)
Rock-a-bye Baby Blues (5.1 Surround Mix)
High Above My Head (5.1 Surround Mix)
Love Is The Key (5.1 Surround Mix)
You Make Me Feel Alright (5.1 Surround Mix)
Adam And I (5.1 Surround Mix)
I Wish We Could Fly (5.1 Surround Mix)
Visual Content: High Above My Head (1975 Promotional Film)
Visual Content: Dada’s Song (Official Video)
The booklet features many tributes from those who worked with him, including former band mates Denny Laine and Mike Pinder.
Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Touched By Love'
Artist - Yola Nash
For those not in the know, growing up stifled by the communist regime in Poland and an abusive, alcoholic father, Yola Nash found solace by escaping into music where she feels safe and protected.
With her personal experiences in love serving as muse for her songs that paint the complete color palate of human emotions, Nash’s sophomore Touched By Love album (which comes a decade after her debut, Another Girl), was released August 26th, 2020 via YoStar Recordings.
What we get is the jazz singer-songwriter at her finest, on this intimate six-song acoustic set that she produced with GRAMMY-winning jazz pianist Edsel Gomez (Dee Dee Bridgewater) serving as musical director.
1. 'Lies and Wishes'
2. 'I Miss You Loving Me'
3. 'Ready For Love'
4. 'Dance With Me'
5. 'Forbidden Love'
6. 'Lololove Me'
This thoroughly seductive, truly heartfelt and earnest new album opens with the mid-tempo, one-two Latin dancefloor hipsway of 'Lies and Wishes,' and backs that up with the soulful ballad 'I Miss You Loving Me,' and then the smooth, finger-snappin' grooves of the beautiful 'Ready for Love.'
The, at times, sultry spoken-worded passion of 'Dance with Me' (the lone song not penned by Nash) is then followed by the mid-tempo, dancefloor rendezvous of 'Forbidden Love,' with the short album coming to a close on the passionately imploring resonance of 'Lololove Me.'
“The songs were inspired by my life, beautiful love and longing for it, or tremendous pain, betrayal, burning questions or just hunger for hope," Yola explains.
"All of those powerful emotions that needed to be shared and expressed. The world needs more love, hope and the spirit of never ever giving up."
"I’m here as living proof that bad times always pass and good things always prevail,” further explains Nash, who arrived in New York City over 15 years ago, not knowing any English or anyone or having any place to go, with only the $1,000 that she borrowed from her late mother, Danusia, to whom the album is dedicated.
“I’m creating my purposeful path every day with my determination. I hope my story and my music will inspire people to be stronger and dream big, especially now during these challenging times, so they can find a creative way through the impossible waters and the impossible becomes possible,” Nash concludes.
You can digitally order Touched By Love now at www.YolaNash.com.
Yola Nash @ Facebook
Yola Nash @ Instagram
Yola Nash @ Twitter
Title - 'Playing It Forward'
Artist - Alexander Zonjic
For those not in the know, serving as the artistic director for nearly a dozen music festivals and concert series throughout Michigan ordinarily keeps contemporary jazz flutist Alexander Zonjic super busy from March through September; in addition to maintaining his own active performance schedule.
But with most of the events shelved this year due to coronavirus concerns, Zonjic was able to find time to finish his first album in more than ten years, Playing It Forward, his 13th album, released October 9th, 2020 via his company’s Hi-Falutin Music label.
GRAMMY-winning keyboardist Jeff Lorber produced the set with the exception of the first single, 'Motor City Sway,' a throwback R&B groove inspired by Zonjic’s adopted home of Detroit, which was written and produced by Pieces of a Dream’s keyboardist James Lloyd.
Indeed, the single has been one of the most added songs on Billboard BDS chart two weeks in a row, with the album title making obvious reference to the phrase paying it forward: something the philanthropic Zonjic is big on doing throughout the Metro Detroit region, where the Windsor, Ontario native has been a multimedia personality ever since he began hosting a WVMV morning radio show in 1998 and expanded to weekly television hosting duties for his own show, “Alexander Zonjic: From A to Z,” three years ago.
1. 'Jazz Café'
4. 'Night Crawler'
5. 'Motor City Sway'
6. 'Playing It Forward'
8. 'Living In The Past'
9. 'Nature Boy'
10. 'Bottom Heat'
11. 'Rolling In The Deep'
Along with a half a dozen new songs (five of which were penned or co-penned by Lorber), Zonjic has also reimagined five cover tunes for flute with fresh arrangements, and opens this delightful new album with the delightfully smooth, and yet flirtatiously perky new track 'Jazz Café' and backs that up with the quirkly hip 'Benita,' the jazz swagger of 'Hipster,' and then brings us a stunningly funky reimagining of Bob James' Night Crawler' (Zonjic who was actually discovered by the GRAMMY and Emmy-winning contemporary jazz keyboard icon, whilst playing in Detroit’s famous Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in 1981!).
Next we get those aforementioned funky Motown grooves of 'Motor City Sway' (which also includes 14-year-old South African keyboard phenom Justin-Lee Schultz on his talkbox), which is followed by the virtuoso fusion vibe of the title track, 'Playing It Forward,' the new Lorber-penned, smoothly orchestrated 'Musaic' (a song also co-written and recorded by guitarist Chuck Loeb, who passed in 2017), and then a right royal beauty in the form of Jethro Tull's 'Living In The Past.'
Being a flute player who began as a teenage rock guitarist, Zonjic has been repeatedly asked ever since the '80s when he was going to record a Jethro Tull song. Well, now we know that day has finally arrived as it is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the stand out highlights here on this new album.
“A mix of originals and covers is a format that was very successful from a retro standpoint during the great era of CTI Records that came out of New York and made records by Hubert Laws, George Benson and Bob James," Zonjic explains. "There was always a mixture of cool arrangements of covers along with originals,” he adds.
The album then rounds out with a magnificently dulcet, almost big band, jazz flute style arrangement of Nat King Cole's lush 'Nature Boy,' a track originally written and recorded by legendary trombone player, Raul de Souza's 'Bottom Heat,' before coming to a close on the new pop classic 'Rolling In The Deep,' which showcases the Selected of God gospel choir.
Explains Zonjic, “‘Rolling In The Deep’ was not inspired by Adele, but by watching Aretha Franklin sing it on David Letterman’s show."
"Whilst listening, it dawned on me that it would make a great flute song. Lorber put this great track together and I got ahold of Selected of God, who I had seen on ‘America’s Got Talent’ and in an Eminem video. That’s from where the magic came.”
As for the album, “When we got into this pandemic, people really started to play it forward," Zonjic explains. "For us, our connection with Detroit has always been this back-and-forth relationship and us finding ways to give back.""We love the people of Detroit and do a lot of fundraisers for more than a dozen nonprofit organizations. My son and I came up with Playing It Forward and I like the energy of it."
"It’s a very forward momentum record. There’s a lot of energy,” Zonjic reveals, himself a three-time Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards winner (including International Broadcaster of the Year) and a 15-time Detroit Music Awards winner).
You can order Playing It Forward now at myiesstore.com/alexanderzonjic as a CD or digitally.
Alexander Zonjic @ Facebook
Alexander Zonjic @ Instagram
Alexander Zonjic @ Twitter
Title - 'The Red Planet'
Artist - Rick Wakeman
For those not in the know, Rick Wakeman, best known as keyboard player in progressive rock band Yes, has just released The Red Planet - a serious return to "Wakeman Prog" (out now via Madfish Records).
Harking back to Wakeman's critically acclaimed 1973 debut The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Red Planet features eight newly composed pieces based around a central subject matter.
Indeed, Rick's blown the dust off his favorite analog keyboards and along with his latest keys has used the same formula he devised when making his debut album and the equally legendary Criminal Record.
Upon being asked about the expectations of his prog fans, that they are hoping he will have shoved the "Prog Fader" up to 11, he replied, "That could be a problem ... as it's already at 14!"
1. 'Ascraeus Mons' (5:52)
2. 'Tharsis Tholus' (6:16)
3. 'Arsia Mons' (6:10)
4. 'Olympus Mons' (5:20)
5. 'The North Plain' (6:53)
6. 'Pavonis Mons' (7:13)
7. 'South Pole' (7:35)
8. 'Valles Marineris' (10:02)
Without a shadow of a doubt, The Red Planet - complete with his backing band The English Rock Ensemble - showcases Rick’s aforementioned return to his heavier keyboard sounds that he made famous during The Six Wives–era.
Proving that as much as you may well be able to still teach an old dog news tricks, that the dog itself might well be able to still show you the life it once had as a puppy, The Red Planet also shows us that Rick himself is not showing any signs of slowing down.
Furthermore, and not just for my money, trust me, but this brand new, and absolutely stellar and sonically charged new album is still quite the journey for Rick to have invited us all along on.
Returning to his roots with his orchestral and harder approach, The Red Planet sums up the spatial ambiance of where all the prog rock fans once came to worship at the feet of their keyboard master ("Oh Rick, take us to the 'Centre of the Earth' again, let us go to 'Close to the Edge' and sail the 'Topographic Ocean' once more!").
Listening to this new album reminds me of Return to the Centre of the Earth, with the Moog played throughout the album one that transports you back to his glory days.
Perhaps more so, this new album is very '70s sounding, complete with lots of time signature changes of his expansive prog rock era. A joy to behold from start to finish, there is also a lovely 10-page color inlay booklet that reveals facts about the making of the album and the planet itself, Mars.
- Rick Wakeman / keyboards
- Dave Colquhoun / guitars
- Lee Pomeroy / bass
- Ash Soan / drums
Amazon Purchase Link
Rick Wakeman @ Facebook
Rick Wakeman @ Instagram
Rick Wakeman @ Twitter
Title - 'Fireworker'
Artist - Gazpacho
For those not in the know, for nearly twenty years, Gazpacho have reigned as the kings of atmospheric and affective art rock.
That’s certainly no small feat, as the subgenre is full of wonderfully moody, ornate, and emotional artists; yet, none of them manage to achieve the same level of exquisite baroque resonance and hypnotically introspective weight as the Norwegian sextet.
As a result, they never fail to provide awe-inspiring examinations of the human condition, and their latest observation, Fireworker (out now via Kscope Records) is no exception.
For it is undoubtedly among their greatest achievements, as well as bring one of the most profound pieces of music you’ll hear in 2020.
Conceptually, the album follows the band’s tradition of blending grand philosophical quandaries, stimulating literary leanings, and haunting personal turmoil.
In a way, it acts as the culmination of the themes and techniques that’ve decorated earlier collections, combining the fatalistic isolation of Night and Missa Atropos; the ill-fated narrative drama of Tick Tock and Soyuz; and the hefty theological/scientific contemplations of Demon and Molok.
Beyond that, its central premise (that humanity has always been controlled by an infallible and omniscient creature determined to propagate at any cost) means that Fireworker comes across like the overarching umbrella under which all of its predecessors occur.
1. 'Space Cowboy'
Fireworker is a single “trip” broken into five chapters but meant to be appreciated all at once and, unlike Night, is one where Gazpacho’s recurring protagonist is investigating the labyrinthian hive of his own psyche to engage in a Bergman-esque confrontation with the “Fireworker.”
Indeed, this journey is even represented by the Wimmelbilder cover, which, as usual, was designed by collaborator Antonio Seijas and depicts “the billions of neurons that create the cave of the mind”.
That all said, and taking the album track-by-track, this magnificent opus opens with 'Space Cowboy.' The so-called "inner battle" of the album, it features alternating layers of choral arrangements and vocal meanderings, whilst always enticing us to hang on in there; no matter how many supposed endings they tease.
Up next is the slower 'Hourglass,' chock full of beautiful ambiance and stunning, fluent and magical orchestrations galore, especially come its finale, that is then backed by the title track itself, 'Fireworker,' a folk-rock sound, if you will, and one that leans into a heavier stance than the band are usually known for at times, but one with a definitive cinematic scope to it.
We then get the dulcet melodies of 'Antique,' which features some gorgeous, supple, and even artful early '80s subtle electronica rhythms, with the album coming to a close on the ten minute epic, 'Sapien,' a reserved work, for the most part, sure, but one that still ebbs and flows accordingly to its very own operatic heartbeat, nonetheless.
In closing, Fireworker is truly life-changing experience, so you would be wise to turn off all of the lights, clear your mind as best you can, and prepare to meet the Fireworker.
Keyboardist Thomas Andersen elucidates: “There’s an instinctual part of you that lives inside your mind, separate from your consciousness. I call it the ‘Fireworker’ or the ‘Lizard’ or the ‘Space Cowboy.’ It’s an eternal and unbroken lifeforce that’s survived every generation, with a new version in each of us."
"It’s evolved alongside our consciousness, and it can override us and control all of our actions.” In order to get us to do what it wants, he clarifies, the “Fireworker” will silence the parts of our mind that feel disgust or remorse so that we’re unable to stop it."
"The conscious part of our mind, Andersen notes, will actually “rationalize and legitimize” those thoughts and actions so that we never discover the beast behind-the-scenes."
"No matter how we feel about ourselves in terms of identity, accomplishments, and value, we’re all just vessels — or “Sapiens” — that the creature uses until it no longer needs us."
“If you play along,” Andersen explains, “It’ll reward you like a puppy and let you feel fantastic; if you don’t, it’ll punish you severely.”
Official Purchase Links
Gazpacho @ Facebook
Gazpacho @ Instagram
Gazpacho @ Twitter
Gazpacho @ YouTube
Title - 'Bare as Bone, Bright as Blood'
Artist - The Pretty Things
For those not in the know, the acoustic and gritty Bare as Bone, Bright as Blood is the remarkable, and totally unexpected 2020 album by The Pretty Things, who remained the tainted, dark Rock royalty they always were until the very end.
May 15th, 2020 marked the death of Phil May, the legendary lead singer with The Pretty Things and at the time of his death, Phil was hugely excited about the impending release of the first-ever, all-acoustic Pretty Things album, which had recently been completed.
Unfortunately, the songs will never be heard live with Phil’s voice, but that doesn't diminish the power of this remarkable record which stands as a touching tribute to one of the most significant artists of a rightly celebrated generation (and beyond).
1. 'Can't Be Satisfied' (03:04)
2. 'Come Into My Kitchen' (04:17)
3. 'Ain't No Grave' (03:58)
4. 'Faultline' (04:22)
5. 'Redemption Day' (05:22)
6. 'The Devil Had A Hold Of Me' (04:16)
7. 'Bright As Blood' (04:44)
8. 'Love In Vain' (04:17)
9. 'Black Girl' (02:37)
10. 'To Build A Wall' (04:25)
11. 'Another World' (03:56)
12. 'I'm Ready' (03:43) [Bonus Track]
In truth, Bare As Bone, Bright As Blood has little in common with The pretty Things past work, save for the fact that it is wholly unique and an absolute first.
That said, arguably, this record is as ground-breaking as the band’s seminal psychedelic masterpiece S. F. Sorrow, which is acknowledged as the first Rock Opera.
Inclusive of the lead single 'Bright as Blood,' which features May and Dick Taylor embracing a moving bluegrass overtone, inclusive of Jon Wigg’s fiddle and Sam Brother’s banjo, that are woven together by writer George Woosey’s driving guitar, and the simply beautiful, vulnerably-sung, folk/Americana of 'To Build A Wall,' this album, which is reminiscent of the heart of Depression-era Mississippi, is truly, and already, an album for the ages.
Overall, it features a mix of source material; standards the band has featured in its set for years; some semi-contemporary compositions by unexpected, existing and established artists (but of a younger generation); original recordings penned by old friends and new finds.
There is a connection across the 55-year timespan between the start-up Pretties, and this newly emerging, acoustic and roots Pretty Things.
This is work stripped bare and reflects the frailties and insecurities of gathering age, ill health, painful failure and memorable success. It is a reflection on two long, long lives in art and music that have always been at the cutting edge.Bare as Bone, Bright as Blood is the work of two old men who are acting their age, maybe for the first time ever!
If their health and energy is depleted, their skill, insight and experience is not, with the result that they have made a remarkable, exciting, unexpected and thought-provoking record, that is, against all the odds, another singular “first” for an already groundbreaking band.
Official Purchase Links
The Pretty Things @ Facebook
Title - 'Interconnected'
Artist - Mark Vickness
For those not in the know, Mark Vickness began his musical training on piano at age six.
The road from there to the modern fingerstyle guitarist he is today included a bachelor’s and master’s degree in composition, studies in classical piano, guitar, sitar and tabla.
Add to all that years as a performing jazz guitarist, composer and arranger, several film scores and two decades of recording and performing as the instrumental half of the acoustic fusion duo, Glass House (with singer David Worm - and which has thus far released three CD’s and an EP), and you can clearly see a man dedicated, still, to honing his craft.
Mark’s performing experience spans a huge range of genres from free improvisation to West African drum and dance ensembles, from Motown and funk bands to big band jazz and orchestral conducting.
Indeed, Mark has a unique approach to solo modern fingerstyle guitar. He plays custom instruments including a baritone guitar built by renowned luthier Michael Greenfield, an eight string guitar which Mark helped design with luthier Matt Mustapick and an eighteen string acoustic double neck.
In addition to original tunings and the extended use of percussive effects, tapping, harmonics and effects, Mark employs sympathetic resonance in how he strings and tunes his guitars to produce a lush, rich sound.
Three years after releasing his debut solo CD, Places, Mark has just released his brand new album, Interconnected. Featuring four new solo modern fingerstyle compositions and four original pieces with his new ensemble (who are also named Interconnected), the ensemble brings together two-time Grammy-winning violinist, Mads Tolling, cellist Joseph Hebert, Dan Feiszli on upright and electric bass and tabla virtuoso, Ty Burhoe.
1. 'Interwoven' (ensemble)
2. 'Grey Skye' (solo)
3. 'Hot Apple Stuff' (ensemble studio version)
4. 'Bodega Blue' (solo)
5. '6 in 7' (ensemble)
6. 'Mia Lucia' (solo)
7. 'For Every Child' (trio)
8. 'Hot Apple Stuff' (live) (ensemble)
9. 'One Day Over A Thousand' (solo)
A totally unique artistic vision, Mark along with Interconnected approach musical creation as a solemn opportunity to express the interconnectedness of humanity, and of all things, through the universal language of music here on Interconnected, which culminates in an exquisite work of musical art.
This magnificent, truly magical at times, free flowing and oh-so wonderfully rich embodiment of free-form Jazz, classical guitar, amidst a sea of New Age and Folk-inspired, modern day compositions, opens with the gorgeous, cinematic at times 'Interwoven' (ensemble) and backs that up with the Latin-flavored acoustic guitar work of 'Grey Skye' (solo), the playful, Celtic-embroidered 'Hot Apple Stuff' (ensemble studio version), and then we get both the sterner, more stoically imbued guitar work of 'Bodega Blue' (solo) and the ethereally-inspired, hypnotic Celtic vibe of '6 in 7' (ensemble).
The ornate guitar work of 'Mia Lucia' (solo) is up next and is followed by the precise, yet soothingly opulent 'For Every Child' (trio), a live recording of 'Hot Apple Stuff' (ensemble), with the album closing on the sweepingly melodious milieu of 'One Day Over A Thousand' (solo).
“The music on this recording is intended to convey interconnectedness, the reality that we live in an interconnected, interdependent world, that we are all one human race," Mark explains.
"Instrumental music is an ideal means of expressing this because it is a universal language. This ensemble is comprised of musicians who are capable of a wide range of styles from different cultures and different eras."
"I worked hard to write this music with interconnectedness in mind, within each piece individually and in the relationships between the pieces themselves. Some of the pieces on Interconnected come from a deeply personal place."
"'For Every Child' was written for every person who has either experienced or known someone who has gone through the trauma of losing their innocence to childhood sexual abuse as I did before age ten."
"'One Day Over A Thousand' is dedicated to all those who lost their lives to Covid-19, and to my dear friend Holli Ross, who died while this piece was being written.”
Official 'Interwoven' Music Video
Mark Vickness @ Facebook
Title - 8 New Releases from Matt Smith!
Artist - Matt Smith
For those not in the know, Matt Smith, a Capital District-raised, Austin-based artist, has just released eight (8) new albums as well as ten digital releases from his catalog of recordings!
The albums - all curated from the 10 previous albums that have been released since the start of his solo career - will be available everywhere music is streamed or bought and hard copies of the albums are available through Austin’s Waterloo Records and at www.6stringranch.com.
When asked about why he was releasing them all now, Matt Smith says, "It’s an election year and there’s COVID. I had them all ready, and rather than dribble them out, why not put it all out at once? That way, I can get back to work on new material.”
Smith has been working on the flagship release, Being Human for four years. The album addresses broad themes of love, death and spirituality, along with timely issues such as immigration, narcissism and addiction.
Comprised of eight new tracks, it opens with the smooth hipsway of 'Sanctuary' which is backed up seamlessly by the rhythmic, one-two vibe of the title track, 'Being Human,' the tremendously funky 'Everybody Wanna Do the Don't,' and then the guitar rock of 'I Got the Girl.'
Up next is the ornately beautiful storytelling of 'How We Got to Here,' which is followed by the mid-tempo rocker 'Down in the Hole,' the free flowing positivity of 'God Is Watching over You,' with the album closing on the slow blues, last dance sway of 'I'd Do Anything for You.'
Parlor is a solo acoustic instrumental album recorded entirely on an 1890’s Thompson and Odell parlor guitar that has been handed down through four generations of the Smith family.
Opening with the Romani-French, jazz-esque beauty '29th St Rag,' that's backed by the gentler orchestrations of 'First Love,' the stunningly precise fretwork of 'Blue as Blue Can Be,' the foot-tappin', guitar-slappin' melodies of 'Spring In My Step,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the scholarly 'Daydreams.'
Next up is the slow, lowdown blues swagger of 'Blues in the Parlor' which is backed by the ornate, laid back and reflective 'After the Goldrush,' the wondrously articulated theme within 'Slacker,' and then the buoyant, and somewhat perky 'Dressing For Church.'
We then get yet another fantastic track in the form of the free-wheelin' majesty of 'Traveling Man,' which is backed by the exotic 'Desert Meditation,' with the album rounding out on playfully funky 'Isla Mujeres,' closing on the one-minute epilogue, 'That’s All Folks!'
Chop Shop – Live at Strange Brew was recorded at the legendary south Austin venue during the band’s weekly Sunday afternoon residency.
Chop Shop was Smith’s trio that used song format as a platform for creativity and improvisation, featuring Smith, along with Ed Friedland (bass) and Bryan Austin (drums).
Opening with the thunderous blues rock of 'Tough Guy / Tsurfin' the Tsunami,' that's followed by the blues funk of 'Trust Yourself,' the lowdown and staggered guitar work of 'Shelter from the Storm,' before bringing the levels down for the Down South ballad, 'Shades of Grey.'
A cover of folk rock musician Stephen Stills' 'Love The One Your With' is up next and is followed by the guitar melodies of 'Greenfield Grove,' a song written by Tony Joe White in 1967 and popularized by R&B vocalist Brook Benton in 1970, 'Rainy Night in Georgia,' coming to a close on the frenetic guitar work of 'Too Much / Smell My Mandolin,' a sloth-like rendition of James Brown's 'I Feel Good,' and, finally, a finger-snappin' jam in the form of 'Blueswalk.'
Matt Smith’s World – Live at the Saxon Pub features Smith, along with Austin pros Ernie Durawa (drums), David Webb (keyboards, vocals), Joe Morales (sax, flute, vocals), Aaron Lack (steel pan, percussion, vocals) and Mark Epstein (bass).
The album was recorded by Richard Vannoy during the band’s weekly residency at the iconic venue.
Yet another brilliant live album, this one opens with the Gospel blues of 'Struggle On' and backs that up with the rock guitar and Hammond exploitations of 'Walk the Talk,' the piano blues of 'Simple Song,' the mid-tempo hipsway of 'Dance with Me' and then the smooth guitar rock of 'Six Degrees of Separation.'
Next up is the seven minute long, rock and reggae-influenced jam 'Jazzhaus' which is followed by the their version of 'Love the One You're With,' the lowbrow, slopping Parisian blues of 'Junkie for Your Love,' rounding out with the low light, late night smoky club vibe of 'What Will I Do Without You,' closing on the frenetically magnificent, cultured guitar frenzy of 'Hot Club of Brooklyn.'
Matt Smith: 1988-2020, Vols. 1-4 round out the eight-album release.
Vol. 1 - Upstate NY: 1988-1994 opens with the frenzied 'Happy Jack,' the blues rock of 'Elevator of Love,' the lush AOR pop of 'Shine Your Light on Me,' the upbeat, guitar rush of 'Dancing' on the Blue Ball,' and then both the frenetic tinkling and guitar work of 'Lickety Pick' and the gentle storytelling of 'Reason to Be.'
The Springsteen-esque 'House of Fire' is next and is followed by the rocker 'Runnin' Just as Fast as I Can,' the ornate guitar blues of 'Falling in Love Again,' the funky 'Perfect World,' and then rounds out on the gut-wrenching honesty of 'Not That I'm Afraid of Love,' closing on the melodic AOR, and sax-imbued 'After All These Years.'
Vol. 2 - NYC: 1994-2005 opens with upbeat and perky outlook of 'Beauty and Light' which is backed by the old school feel of 'Big White Moon,' the searingly tender, Springsteen-esque 'Ballad of the Lower East Side,' the low slung blues of 'Shelter from the Storm' and then the low key acoustic guitar work of 'Holy Ground'
The appropriately titled 'Big Fun' is all sorts of just that, and is followed by the beautifully melodic 'Greenfield Grove,' the deep guitar funk of 'Ashes in the Wind,' the meaningful hopes and wishes of 'One Perfect Moment,' and then we get a stand out gem in the form of the upbeat, and always generous Louisiana funk n' roll that resides within 'Montreal.'
The guitar jam of 'Touch Guy' is then backed by the Hawaiian harmonies of 'Alo Moana,' with the album coming to a close on the ferociously fervent 'Djeet Yit?'
Vol. 3 - NYC/Austin: 2005-2011 opens with his version of 'A Rainy Night in Georgia,' and that's backed by the mid-tempo, percussion-imbued ballad 'Save Your Love for Me,' and the low slung, tender duo of 'Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying' and 'I Wish You Love.'
The sultry blues rock comes back for 'I Want to Love You' which is followed by the deeply sung and resonating 'Junkie for Your Love,' the acoustic storytelling of 'Jesus in Mexico,' the tempo turned up for 'Struggle On,' the album rounding out on the blues rock of 'Six Degrees of Separation,' and then closing on the mid-tempo AOR of 'How It's Gotta Be,' and the always amazing to hear freneticism of 'Hot Club of Brooklyn.'
The very last album of the eight (8) just released, Vol. 4 - Austin: 2011-2020 opens with the thunderous blues rock of live tracks 'Trust Yourself,' his rendition of 'Love the One You're With,' and then the slow 'n' easy 'Shades of Grey.'
Next up we get some acoustic renderings, firstly in the form of the light and breezy 'Daydreams,' the ornately cultured 'First Love,' the playful, yet always dedicated guitar work of 'Isla Mujeres,' and then we the frenetically sculptured 'Traveling Man.'
This album then rounds out with a trio of live tracks, the first being the rocker 'Simple Song,' the funky blues of 'Walk the Talk,' the album coming to a close on the romantically free flowing 'Dance with Me.'
Other Matt Smith albums that have been re-released digitally are:
Matt Smith Band / Whisper to a Scream / Tanqueray Rocks: Live at The Ritz / Delta Radio / Black and White / Big Fun / Free Beer and Chicken / What I Feel for You / Chop Shop / and Matt Smith’s World.
Currently the co-owner of 6-String Ranch studios in Austin, Smith has produced and engineered over 100 commercially-released albums, television commercials and film soundtracks.
As a session musician, he has played multiple instruments for many artists in New York and Austin. He is accomplished on a wide range of stringed instruments including acoustic, electric, and baritone guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, dobro, sitar, Mohan vina, steel guitar, ukulele, saz, cumbus, charango and tiple.
As a musician, teacher, producer and author, Smith has dedicated himself to the art and craft of making music for over 30 years.
He was a senior music instructor for the National Guitar Workshop, leading workshops in Connecticut, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Austin, Nashville, Florida, Seattle, Oakland, the United Kingdom and Germany.
It’s not only difficult to find someone with Smith’s breadth of experience, but equally rare to find someone who shares his knowledge so generously with colleagues.
Matt Smith @ Facebook
Official CD/Digital Purchase Links
Title - 'Speak to the Sky'
Artist - James Marienthal
For those not in the know, Silver Wave Records has just released the magnificent Speak to the Sky by its owner and founder, recording artist James Marienthal.
Available on CD and all digital platforms, Speak to the Sky features all original compositions, inspired by Marienthal's explorations playing music in nature, along with deep listening, and tuning into divine resonance.
Furthermore, it is a prayer from the heart, spoken in musical tongues through flutes, voice, strings and bells.
Indeed, the stirring sounds of Native American flute prevail on this recording, enhanced by ethereal vocal harmonies and various string instruments, with poignant surprises that captivate the imagination.
1. 'First Breath'
2. 'Wondering Who'
3. 'Speak to the Sky'
5. 'Navajo Twilight'
6. 'Returning Home'
7. 'Silence Seen'
8. 'A Terraplace of Time'
Three of the tracks on Speak to the Sky were even recorded at The Tank Center for Sonic Arts, the same uniquely reverberant sound chamber where Marienthal recorded his first album, Mysteries of the
Night, Alive Inside The Tank in 2018.
A skilled improvisor, this time he dives into a deep solo
conversation while The Tank offers back its beautiful reflections of long reverberating flute tones overlapping with bells and other creative sounds made with breath and percussion.
These tracks combine perfectly with the rest of the album's studio tracks, three of which feature stunning vocal accompaniment by talented singer Arwen Ek, and the deeply reverent title track with
Grammy winning producer Tom Wasinger playing lap steel guitar.
Although there really isn't a bad one, persay, in the set, for me, the stand outs would be the immensely resonating, wood wind ambiance of the title track, the lush, peaceful and almost hypnotic 'Wondering Who,' the beautiful, spacious solo piano piece 'Silence Seen,' and then the moving ambiance of 'A Terraplace of Time,' that majestically rounds out this diverse collection of peacefully contemplative music.
To the creator of life:
Thank you for this opportunity to be human
To be both divinely beautiful and perfectly flawed
To feel joy sorrow love fear and gratitude
To love deeply both my self
and my brothers and sisters on this journey
To feel connected in my community and in my solitude
Thank you for the freedom to explore life on earth
and all its challenges and blessings
with open mind and strong heart
all my relations. ~ JM
You can order Speak to the Sky now at Amazon.
James Marienthal @ Facebook
James Marienthal @ YouTube
James Marienthal @ Instagram
Title - 'Aloha Radio Hawaii'
Artist - Various
For those not in the know, Aloha Radio Hawaii, produced in Dolby Atmos, is a delightful musical journey to the Golden Age of Hawaiian song.
Blending traditional Hawaiian classics with American fusion music – known as hapa haole – this thirteen-track masterpiece tells the story of the Islands and the true meaning of ‘aloha’ through vibrant, multidimensional sound.
The team behind the album includes producer Yunchuan Ye; four-time Grammy winning sound engineer, Dave Way; several veteran U.S. Hawaiian musicians; and singer Tavita Te’o.
The immersive retro-nostalgic sound they cultivate is the definition of paradise found and here within these thirteen tracks, the true depth of dedicated sentimentality shines through.
Indeed, legendary engineer Dave Way builds upon his impressive and star-studded career, and joining him is producer Yunchuan Ye, as well as musicians Ken Emerson, Dean Parks, Jim Kimo West, Aubrey Richmond, Nick Mancini, Tavita Te’o, David P. Jackson, and James Cruce.
1. 'Aloha Oe'
2. 'My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua'
3. 'Hilo March'
4. 'Moana Chimes'
5. 'Hula Blues'
6. 'Sentimental Journey'
7. 'Hanalei Medley'
8. 'Sweet Lei Mokihana'
9. 'Honolulu March'
10. 'Song of the Islands'
11. 'Na Ali’i'
12. 'Nani Waimea'
13. 'Mai Poina Oe Ia’u'
This magnificent experience of the ‘aloha’ spirit is oh-so majestically encapsulated here in their mastery of dozens of vintage instruments, including ukulele, Hawaiian steel guitar, electric guitar, vibraphone, and more.
Recorded in the legendary Henson Studios, Los Angeles using the aforementioned Dolby Atmos immersive sound, where "Sound has never sounded so good!", this enthrallingly magnificent tribute to the Golden Age of Hawaiian Song brings forth beloved singer Tavita Te'o (presented here, shall we say, as our honorable Master of Ceremonies), as he takes us on our journey through the intoxicating sounds from back in the day; when Hawaiian and American popular culture had the whole world dreaming about Little Grass Shacks!
Rhymoi's producer, Yuchuan Ye selceted thirteen classic songs from the traditional Hawaiian and Hapa Haole repertoire dating from the late 19th century to the mid-19th century.
It is the story of the Hawaiian Islands in sound, a musical memory that blends native Hawaiian and American cultures.
It is also a musical journey not to leave untaken for, and together with the the aforementioned group of veteran U.S Hawaiian musicians and their dozens of priceless antique guitars of various shapes and sounds, let alone other vintage instruments, Aloha Radio Hawaii abounds with authentically recreated performances from the Golden Age of Hawaiian song in full, and oh-so most glorious, retro-nostalgic sound.
You can order Aloha Radio Hawaii now at www.enmusicworld.com.
Title - 'Ad Infinitum'
Artist - Crown Of Glory
For those not in the know, although, in truth, it should be well known by now, Switzerland is fertile ground for outstanding metal bands.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine this Swiss scene without Crown Of Glory.
The band has been quite active in the scene for years and has made a name for itself, whilst building a huge fan base, by means of countless concerts in their home country, Germany, Spain and Italy - among many other big names such as Alice Cooper, Five Finger Death Punch, H.E.A.T or Hammerfall.
Simply put, Crown Of Glory - Hene Muther (vocals), Markus Muther (guitar), Hungi Berglas (guitar), Jonas Lüscher (bass), Lukas Soland (drums), and Oliver Schumacher (keyboards) - who established their music in the melodic metal genre with influences from AOR and power metal, are what is breathtakingly great about the genre today.
Their strength clearly lies in the catchy hook lines which capture the audience already after the first listening. The compositions cover quite a huge range of the above-mentioned music styles, but still know how to surprise again and again with unexpected tunes.
Thus, it is not without reason that the first two albums of the band, A Breath of Life and King For a Day, were celebrated and praised in European metal magazines.
And now the band bring us their much-anticipated third album, Ad Infinitum (out now via Fastball Records).
The first single from the album, 'What I'm Made Of' was released in May 2020, and showcases the vibe of the 12 new tracks perfectly. Crown Of Glory also brought in Thomas Plec Johansson (H.E.A.T., Soilwork, Night Flight Orchestra, Gathering Of Kings, Nocturnal Rites) to mix and master the album and Rolf Munkes (Crematory) to co-produce it.
2. 'Something' (featuring Seraina Telli)
3. 'Let's Have A Blast'
4. 'Emporium Of Dreams'
7. 'Glorious Nights'
8. 'Make Me Believe'
9.' Master Of Disguise'
10. 'What I'm Made Of'
11. 'Until I'm Done'
12. 'Say My Name'
With a sound akin to bands like Pretty Maids, Stratovarius, Royal Hunt and Edguy, the band open with some reverberated warning sounds (think the sound akin to a Chernobyl outbreak!) before breaking into the drum-led masterpiece 'Emergency,' backing that up with the stunning, dual layered 'Something' (featuring Seraina Telli, ex-Burning Witches and now Dead Venus), and then the guitar-opened ferocity of 'Let's Have A Blast.'
Next up is the melodic thunder of 'Emporium Of Dreams, which is followed by the soaring ballad 'Surrender,' with the frenetic pace picked up again on 'Infinity' (which I could swear also features an underlaid backdrop of John Carpenter's Halloween theme), and then we get one my own personal favorites, the gorgeous piano-lead in, quickly followed by the one-two drum rhythms, and gentle synth backdrop of 'Glorious Nights.'
We then get the wondrous synth key-led majesty of 'Make Me Believe' which is backed by the free flowing, growling guitar work of 'Master Of Disguise,' and the album then rounds out with the lead single, the hook-laden, and oh-so catchy rock of 'What I'm Made Of,' closing on the AOR of both 'Until I'm Done' and 'Say My Name.'
Ad Infinitum will be released as a CD, Digital Download, and a quite brilliant DOUBLE 12" White Vinyl edition!
You can order Ad Infinitum now at www.fastball-music.com.
'What I'm Made Of'- Official Music Video
Crown Of Glory @ Facebook
Crown Of Glory @ Instagram
Crown Of Glory @ YouTube
'What I'm Made Of'- Official Music Video
Title - 'Dust To Come'
Artist - =fudge=
For those not in the know, =fudge=, the pioneers of the synth-metal polarize with their unique, provocative show. their modern fusion of synthetic and handmade music rounded off by a progressive stage performance.
Ergo, in their eyes, light and sound are a meant to be enjoyed as a total work of art you must see (and hear) to truly become one with their sound.
=fudge= was founded in December 2012 by Chris Techritz, Paul Curtis, Maximilian Amberger and Sebastian Michaelis. Just a few months later, in the summer of 2013, =fudge= won the Haix Band Contest, successfully competing against several other newcomer acts.
Following the release of their first EP Never Stop Firing (2014), =fudge= wrote the title song for the same-titled indie film “Bittersweet Revenge” in 2015.
With a new drummer (Jake Curtis) and bass player (Daniel Hauer), they have been composing new songs since 2016 and will release their debut full-length album, Dust To Come this coming October 16th, 2020 (via Fastball Records).
2. 'Into the Whispers'
3. 'The Summoning'
5. 'Mechanical Human'
6. 'I'm a Wolf'
7. 'Death To Man'
8. 'Dust To Come'
12. 'For Those Who Live in Fear'
13. 'Dust To Come' (Part II)'
14. 'Bittersweet Revenge'
With the bands music strengths clearly upped since their EP debut, this new collection of highly versatile, at times playful, but all nonetheless straightforward and =fudge= centric, the band opens with the steely, building undertones of the just-under two minute instrumental 'Silently' which then breaks into the poundingly euphoric 'Into the Whispers,' the frenetic 'The Summoning,' and then comes, atop a brilliant bass guitar backdrop, the growled 'GODS.'
The melodic, even at times, foot-tappin' vibes of 'Mechanical Human' is up next and that's backed by the lower imbibed angst of the mid-tempo "ballad" 'I'm a Wolf,' with the child-like, rhythmic vocals of the :47 second 'Dust To Man' album break, which is then followed by the industrially mighty title track, 'Dust To Come.'
Next we get the impassioned fervor of 'Thousand' which is backed by a one minute orchestral instrumental ('Reprise'), before we're back on musical track with the drum-led 'Confession,' the hand-clapper 'For Those Who Live in Fear,' with the album closing on a spoken word, 10 minute opus in the form of 'Dust To Come' (Part II),' and then the 8 minute epic 'Bittersweet Revenge.'
As to content, =fudge= play with i. a. classic horror themes which lyrically fit in seamlessly with the musical framework.
The visual presentation of the band and band members as well as the realization of the video clip for the horror story song 'The Summoning' set an obvious direction.
Quite in line with this, the band produced a comic book limited to 1000 copies and numbered consecutively which will be offered as part of a special bonus package together with the album.
You can order Dust To Come now at www.fudge-official.com.
'The Summoning' (Official Music Video)
=fudge= @ Facebook
=fudge= @ Twitter
=fudge= @ Instagram
=fudge= @ YouTube
Title - 'Concertos for Oboe'
Artist - Mary Lynch / Harrison Linsey
For those not in the know, equally adept at writing music for the concert hall, film, television, and the theatre, Christopher Tyler Nickel’s award-winning music has been heard in over 160 countries.
Indeed, his experience as an oboist instills a confidence to compose with an exhilarating freedom to explore the vast expressive range of the instrument, from lyrical and plaintive to acerbic and brittle.
On the just-released Concertos for Oboe (out now via AVIE Records), the world-premiere recordings of these three concertos for oboe and its lower-pitched siblings the oboe damore and bass oboe receive dazzling performances by Mary Lynch, principal oboe of the Seattle Symphony, and Harrison Linsey, oboist with the Washington D.C.-based National Symphony Orchestra.
Grammy Award-winning David Sabee, a tireless advocate of contemporary classical music, conducts the Seattle-based Northwest Sinfonia.
Christopher Tyler Nickel (b. 1978)
Concerto for Oboe (2012)
1. I. Andante (forcefully) (9.59)
2. II. Andante (8.11)
3. III. Allegro (with driving energy) (10.28)
Concerto for Oboe d’amore (2014)
4. I. Andante (5.57)
5. II. Andante misterioso – Andante agitato – Andante (12.20)
Concerto for Bass Oboe (2016)
6. I. Andante (9.15)
7. II. Adagio (5.34)
8. III. Allegro agitato (6.50)
Total time: 68.52
Opening with the three pieces of Concerto for Oboe (2012), the euphoric majesty of Andante (forcefully) is backed by the more understated wonderment of the second work of Andante, with the powerful urgency of Allegro (with driving energy) rounding the work out beautifully.
Full of life, hopes, dreams and inventive imagination abounding throughout, next we get the two pieces that make up Concerto for Oboe d’amore (2014).
Opening with the quietly awe inspiring Andante, its second work, the quiet soothing, delicately soaring trio of Andante misterioso – Andante agitato – Andante, make this one of my own personal favorites.
These magnificent variations and rather, at times, beautifully arresting compositions, then round out with the masterful Concerto for Bass Oboe (2016).
Opening with the quietly ornate passion of Andante, the yearning of Adagio is next brought forth, with the more pronounced, deliberately agitated, at times, yet perky and broad stroked tones, of Allegro agitato then closing the work.
You can order Concertos for Oboe now at www.Avie-Records.
Harrison Linsey @ www.kennedy-center.org
Title - 'Cross That Line: Expanded Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Howard Jones
Cherry Red Records have just released a newly remastered and expanded edition of Howard Jones' fourth album, Cross That Line.
Released in March 1989, the album was produced by Jones with Ian Stanley, Chris Hughes, and Ross Cullum – all of whom had worked with Tears For Fears earlier in the 1980s.
The album reached #64 in the UK album charts and #65 in the US album charts. It featured two singles, ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘Everlasting Love’ and both singles were top 30 hits in the US and minor hits in the UK.
In addition to these two singles the track 'Powerhouse' was remixed by Danny D (producer behind the acid house artist D-Mob) and released to clubs.
Packaged in a digipack with a fully illustrated 16-page booklet containing a brand new sleeve note and track by track annotation about Cross That Line by Howard Jones as told to acclaimed writer Anil Prasad.
Featuring an expanded selection of previously unreleased studio versions and remixes plus newly remastered tracks, it also includes a DVD (NTSC/Region Free) containing a brand new interview with Howard Jones from May 2020 discussing Creating the Cross That Line album, a Track By Track Commentary as well as Promotional Videos.
1. 'The Prisoner'
2. 'Everlasting Love'
4. 'Last Supper'
5. 'Cross That Line'
6. 'Out Of Thin Air'
7. 'Guardians Of The Breath'
8. 'Fresh Air Waltz'
9. 'Wanders To You'
10. 'Those Who Move Clouds'
11. 'Modern Man'
12. 'The Brutality of Fact'
13. 'Power of The Media'
14. 'Powerhouse' (Danny D 12" Edit)
Howard Jones’ fourth album shifts from the lighter sound of his previous One to One, back to that of his first two releases, Human's Lib and Dream Into Action, although the lyrics remain of a mainly romantic nature, and he also incorporates occasional moments of strong, crunching guitars.
Not everything can stand the test of time in life, but Jones' 'Everlasting Love' certainly does! This song has a great beat and makes you want to stop what you're doing and start dancing. Take it for a test drive and don't forget your dancing shoes!
So, the opening half (as it was originally a vinyl LP, of course) is where the music is at its best, with 'The Prisoner', the aforementioned 'Everlasting Love', the fairly dynamic 'Powerhouse' (showing his first attempt at a really dance/funk-orientated number), and the ballad 'Last Supper' approaching his best work; although the latter does show up Jones' vocal limitations, while 'Out of Thin Air' is a beautiful piano solo.
After that track, and into the second half, things get a bit moody, to be honest, as 'Guardians of the Breath' and 'Those Who Move Clouds' are haunting pieces which, especially on the latter, bring in a variety of instruments which produce a cacophony of sound.
Whilst the similar-sounding duo 'Cross That Line' and 'Wanders to You', with their brass groove hooks, are not terribly inspiring and even after all these years, I'm still not sure what to make of them both.
Overall, Cross That Line has much to recommend it and yet sadly, Jones’ popularity was fading at the time of its release. Making way for such incredibly and legendary talented performers as New Kids on the Block, Rick Astley, Debbie Gibson, and Tiffany, Jones has at least continued to release albums on occasion, of which they are ALL well worth seeking out.
1. 'The Prisoner' (Alternative 7" Mix)*
2. 'Everlasting Love' (Julian Mendelsohn Mix)*
3. 'Modern Man' (Early Mix)*
4. 'Powerhouse' (7"Instrumental Mix)*
5. 'Fresh Air Waltz' (Early Mix)*
6. 'The Prisoner' (The Portmeirion Mix)
7. 'Rubber Morals'
8. 'Have Your Heard The News?'
9. 'Powerhouse' (Danny D 7" Edit)
10. 'The Prisoner' (US 7" Edit)**
11. 'Everlasting Love' (Original Mix - AKA The Institute Mix)**
12. 'Cross That Line' (Early Mix)*
13. 'Powerhouse' (Early Mix)*
14. 'The Prisoner' (AC Edit)*
15. 'Powerhouse' (Danny D Acid Mix Edit Version 1)*
* PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
** PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED DIGITALLY
1. 'Everlasting Love' (Instrumental Mix)*
2. 'The Prisoner' (Battery Studio Mix 1)*
3. 'Powerhouse' (7" Alternative Mix)*
4. 'Everlasting Love (Julian Mendelsohn TV Mix)*
5. 'The Prisoner' (Original Album Mix)*
6. 'Cross That Line' (Marquee Rehearsal, 18th June 1988)*
7. 'Powerhouse' (Marquee Rehearsal, 18th June 1988)*
8. 'Rubber Morals' (TV Mix)*
9. 'Everlasting Love' (Alternative Institute Mix)*
10. 'The Prisoner' (Instrumental Mix)*
11. 'Powerhouse' (TV Instrumental Mix)**
12. 'Everlasting Love' (808 Mix)
13. 'Powerhouse' (Danny D Acid Mix Edit Version 2)*
14. 'Everlasting Love' (Peter Collins Master Mix)*
15. 'Powerhouse' (Alternative Album Mix - AKA Danny D Delay Mix)*
* PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Disc Four: DVD
1. Interview with Howard Jones, May 2020:
• Creating Cross That Line
• Track By Track Commentary
2. 'Everlasting Live' (Promo Video)
3. 'The Prisoner' (Promo Video)
4. 'Everlasting Love' (Alternative Version) (Promo Video)
This prestigious album is being re-issued in two formats, the Deluxe Expanded Edition reviewed here today and a beautiful Limited Edition Silver vinyl with inner bag.
Title - 'Hiya'
Artist - Chuck Charles
For those not in the know, Hiya is the brand new solo album from Chuck Charles, aka Charlie of The Bigfellas and half of Leaders In The Clubhouse, and it explores everything from TV and shopping, to love, death and the existential meaning of life (and roughly in that order!).
Inclusive of 15 new songs (14 originals and a cover of The Killers), and recorded with lots of musicians who've already played with Charlie in The Bigfellas and Leaders In The Clubhouse musical family, you can expect plenty of the usual piano and horn moments, now with 33% more guitars added in!
Fans of Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, Fountains Of Wayne, Chuck Prophet, Modest Mouse or The Decemberists will simply adore this new album, and welcome it into their hearts and listening spaces.
Oh, and there are also some rather unabashed George Harrison and Bob Dylan tributes that appear in the middle of the album, for all those playing along at home.
1. 'My TV Friends'
2. 'All Those Pretty Colors'
3. 'Key To A Door'
4. 'Deja Vu'
5. 'Like A Maggie's Positively Leopard-Skin Homesick Blues'
6. 'Independence Day'
7. 'Ugly Butterfly'
8. 'The Lobby'
9. 'Lebanese Prison'
11. 'The Naked Truth'
12. 'Read My Mind'
13. 'Were You Close'
14. 'Oh My'
15. 'So Long'
This quite bright, breezy, and wondrously imaginative album opens with the mid-tempo, jaunty one-two AOR of 'My TV Friends,' and backs that up with the '70s-esque, fun pop-rock hipsway of 'All Those Pretty Colors,' before quieting things down for the lush ballads 'Key To A Door' and Deja Vu.'
Next up is the funky guitar rock, harmonica-driven brilliance of 'Like A Maggie's Positively Leopard-Skin Homesick Blues,' which is followed by the Beatles-esque 'Independence Day,' the lo-fi, waning piano ambiance of 'Ugly Butterfly,' and then the, at times, gently frenetic, at others softly peaceful and calming orchestrations of the short instrumental 'The Lobby.'
We then get the '70s psych revolutions of the half-speed enbibed 'Lebanese Prison,' which is backed by the mid-tempo, making amends storytelling of 'Lift,' the slow, late night, smoky underground piano bar groove of 'The Naked Truth,' and then comes the stout, precise and clear piano work of the early Billy Joel-esque 'Read My Mind.'
The album then rounds out with the free flowing, low tempo majesty of 'Were You Close,' coming to a close on the passively reflecting 'Oh My,' and then we get the beautiful ornate, euphorically passionate, and complete with a searing guitar solo, piano ballad, 'So Long.'
Previous records have been praised by the likes of Bruce Hornsby, Van Dyke Parks and Robert Christgau. Some descriptive reviews highlights have said, "Words that I would kill to hear on primetime radio", "Zevonesque", "Trust me, allowing these guys to be the soundtrack to my valuable drinking time is no minor praise", and "Should you expect to see them accepting a Grammy next year? Probably not, but don't hold that against them, hold it against the Grammys!"
Hiya was released September 29th, 2020 and available on most streaming formats such as iTunes, Amazon Music and Spotify as well as on The Bigfellas site and merch store.
You can order Hiya now at www.bigfellas.net.
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Title - 4 Brand New Select-O-Hits CDs!
Artist - Various
For those not in the know, Hindsight Records, known for timeless recordings tastefully enhanced for today’s listeners will release new albums by Patti Page and Peter Myers.
Adjunct company, Country Rewind Records who brings unreleased traditional Country music into the contemporary era will release new projects by Merle Travis and Tex Ritter.
The new music will be available on October 2nd, 2020, distributed by Select-O-Hits and available to order on associated websites for Hindsight Records and Country Rewind Records website as well as all digital music platforms for streaming and download to include Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora and more.
First up us Patti Page's This Can’t Be Love. A part of the Hindsight Records-Reimagined Series, the project was produced by John Forbes with Tom Gramuglia assuming the role of Executive Producer.
This Can't Be Love
1. 'Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me'
2. 'Blue Moon'
3. 'This Can’t Be Love'
4. 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart'
5. 'I‘ll Never Smile Again'
6. 'Exactly Like You Again'
7. 'Don’t Blame Me'
8. 'It All Depends On You'
9. 'I Can’t Get Started With You'
10. 'It Started All Over Again'
11. 'The Prisoner’s Song'
12. 'The Glory Of Love Again'
13. 'You’ve Changed Again'
14. 'Goody Goodbye Again'
When one thinks of Clara Ann Fowler, known better by her stage name Patti Page, it is of a very appealing pop and country vocalist who had a giant hit with 'Tennessee Waltz' and recorded other best sellers; including the popular novelty song 'How Much Is That Doggie In The Window.'
More than 60 years after her heyday in the 1950s, she is still remembered today for her warm voice and accessible style. But even her longtime fans will likely be surprised by the music on this release, for Patti Page is not generally thought of as a jazz singer.
However early in her career and on a few occasions later in the 1950s, she showed that she sounded quite at home swinging jazz standards.
On Nov. 30th, 1950 and Nov. 16th, 1951, Patti Page cut two sessions that were recorded for radio use. The singer is heard backed by the great pianist Lou Stein and his quartet on a set of tunes that were mostly from the swing era.
Those performances were not sold to the general public and instead were designed for radio stations to use as fill-ins between shows in case their live programs ended early.
Indeed, after the mid-1950s, the performances went unheard for decades before their rediscovery.
Hindsight’s reissue of these classic performances with the Lou Stein quartet sound brand new for they have been enhanced quite tastefully by the arrangements and orchestrations of John Forbes for his Sentimental Pops Orchestra.
Official CD Purchase Link
Next ups is Oye Como Va from The Hollywood Jazz Orchestra. Directed by Peter Myers, it is was released on the Hindsight Records label and produced and directed by Peter Myers, with the Executive Producer on the project being Thomas Gramuglia.
Oye Como Va
1. 'Oye Como Va'
2. 'The Trolly Song'
3. 'Senor Blues'
4. 'Love For Sale'
5. 'Star Crossed Lovers'
6. 'The Hornet'
7. 'Tonight, Tonight, Tonight'
8. 'Try A Little Tenderness'
9. 'Oye Como Va (Radio Version)'
10. 'Michael and Hank (Billy Jean and Peter Gunn)'
11. 'Three Trios'
12. 'The Chicken'
Myers drew his band members from the large amount of Southern California talent that he had seen through the years. Every guy in this band is a strong soloist and is also prepared to play in an ensemble.
The 15-piece orchestra, which consists of four trumpets, three trombones, five saxophones, the leader’s piano, bass, and drums plus guest percussionist Alex Acuna, has performed at a variety of top-notch venues but after five years had not made an official recording.
For over a half-century, Peter Myers has been a very prolific arranger and composer, writing for a countless number of films, television series, theater productions, studio orchestras, famous stars, symphonies, and jazz greats.
However he had one goal that was unfulfilled until five years ago. “I had been working in the movie business and television business for 35 years and felt it was time to retire from that. I decided to put a big band together and have some fun.”
The 15-piece orchestra, which consists of four trumpets, three trombones, five saxophones, the leader’s piano, bass, and drums plus guest percussionist Alex Acuna, has performed at a variety of top-notch venues but after five years had not made an official recording. “This is something that I’ve been meaning to do for some time. I spoke with Gordon Goodwin about a studio and an engineer, telling him that I was getting to ready to record our first record."
"He said ‘It’s long overdue’ and I got the point. I’m a pretty prolific arranger and there are over 100 charts in the book from the past five years."
"I selected songs that the guys played very very well and that our audiences loved. By the way, all of the performances on this recording were first takes; we didn’t do a second take on any of the songs.”
Official CD Purchase Link
Next we get Merle Travis's Sixteen Tons on the Country Rewind Records-Western Heritage Collection, and which was produced by Rex Allen Jr. for Boxer Productions with Thomas Gramuglia as Executive Producer.
1. 'Cincinnati Lou'
2. 'Cannonball Rag'
3. 'Common Folks Common Folks Don't'
4. 'Midnight Special'
5. 'I'll See You In My Dreams'
6. 'Louisiana Boogie'
7. 'Sixteen Tons'
8. 'Lawdy, What A Gal'
9. 'I Am A Pilgrim'
10. 'Merle's Boogie Woogie'
11. 'Kentucky Means Paradise'
12. 'If You Want It, I've Got It'
13. 'Fat Gal'
14. 'John Henry'
15. 'That's All'
This recording of Merle Travis’s music is one that even his most ardent fans never expected to hear, but now these tracks have been saved for posterity. “The talent that the man had has been greatly overlooked in my opinion, until now,” says the album’s producer, Rex Allen Jr.
"With this album, the world will really see what a huge influential talent he was.”
Entitled Sixteen Tons, a song written by Merle Travis about a coal miner, based on life in mines in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, Travis first recorded the song at the Radio Recorders Studio B in Hollywood, California, on August 8yh, 1946.
Cliffie Stone played bass on the recording and it was first released in July 1947 by Capitol on Travis's album Folk Songs of the Hills (which went on to become a gold record.
That said, and as a lot of his songs' lyrics often discussed both the lives and the economic exploitation of American coal miners, he is also known for songs such as 'Re-Enlistment Blues,' 'I am a Pilgrim,' and 'Dark as a Dungeon.'
However, it is his unique guitar style, still called "Travis Picking" by guitarists, as well as his interpretations of the rich musical traditions of his native Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, for which he is best known today.
These tracks were ‘reimagined’ under the direction of producer Rex Allen Jr. “My concept on this album, when I started listening to these tracks, I didn’t just hear country,” Rex says. “I heard more rockabilly and I heard New Orleans jazz. To me it represents a combination of what Merle Travis was."
"He was a folk singer, yes; but he also was one of the keynote guys when it came to rockabilly. He could hold his own when it came to New Orleans jazz.”
Official CD Purchase Link
Finally we get Tex Ritter's The Songs Of The West which is released on the Country Rewind Records-Western Heritage Collection, and which has been produced by Jim Farrell and co-produced by Rex Allen Jr., with Executive Producer on the project being Tom Gramuglia.
The Songs Of The West
1. 'Best Time Of All'
2. 'You Will Have To Pay'
3. 'Have I Stayed Away Too Long'
4. 'I Dreamed Of A Hillbilly Heaven'
5. 'Remember The Alamo'
6. 'The Wayward Wind'
7. 'Boll Weevil'
8. 'Green Grow The Lilacs'
9. 'Beaumont Rag'
10. 'A Fallen Star'
11. 'Cielito Lindo'
12. 'These Hands'
13. 'I've Lived A Lot In My Time'
14. 'High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)'
Woodward Maurice, better known as Tex Ritter, was a true multimedia celebrity, a star of stage, screen, records and radio, and it is on radio that the recordings on this album came to life.
An American country music singer and actor popular from the mid 1930s into the 1960s, and the patriarch of the Ritter acting family (son John, grandsons Jason and Tyler, and granddaughter Carly), he is also a well-deserved member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The recordings on this album have a unique origin. “Tex recorded these tracks for broadcast on the radio and these versions of the songs were never commercially released,” notes Jim Farrell, who produced Tex Ritter: The Songs of the West.
Farrell took on the project of producing this collection after Country Rewind Records president Thomas Gramuglia rescued the ‘lost’ master tapes that required expert forensic recovery to bring them to twenty-first century audio quality.
Official CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Love Italian Style'
Artist - Perry Canestrari
Perry Canestrari is one of the most beloved singers to come from Canada in recent memory.
With names like, Michael Buble`, Celine Dion, Brian Adams and many others, Perry Canestrari, “the pride of Montreal” tops the list as one of the Canada’s most beloved male singers.
Perry, who sings in multiple languages, “treats singing like an inheritance” and thus, with this passion for the traditions of Italian music and it’s history, has brought forth Perry’s latest release on Stradivari Classics, Love Italian Style: Arrivederci Roma.
Love Italian Style was the creation of label executive, Thomas Gramuglia, of Hindsight Records. Produced by John F. Forbes, this album was carefully crafted to showcase some of the greatest Italian songs of all time.
Perry’s performances are exquisite and masterful. Also included in the repertoire are a couple of great American pop songs delivered by the Montreal Tenor with all of the passion one would expect from such an accomplished artist.
2. 'Arrivederci Roma'
3. 'Il Mondo'
4. 'Amore Scusami'
6. 'Neapolitan Medley: Vicin O Mare / Santa Lucia / Funiculi Funicula'
7. 'My Way'
8. 'O Sole Mio'
9. 'Perdere L’amore'
11. 'Love Story'
12. 'Opera Medley: Nessun Dorma / La Donna é Mobile / Ave Maria'
Opening with the lush orchestrations of 'Malafemmena,' that's backed by the sweepingly magnificent 'Arrivederci Roma,' the impassioned 'Il Mondo,' the rousing 'Amore Scusami,' and then we get the simply breathtaking reach and range of 'Caruso.'
Next up is the four minute blend entitled 'Neapolitan Medley: Vicin O Mare / Santa Lucia / Funiculi Funicula,' which is followed by Canestrari's low key take on Sinatra's 'My Way,' then we get one of my own personal favorites here, the pronounced vocal expertise of 'O Sole Mio' (which was actually made famous by Elvis Presley in his version of 'It’s Now or Never.')
Then we get another stand out, in my humble opinion, the melodic hipsway of 'Perdere L’amore,' then the one-two shuffle of Domenico Modugno's 'Volare,' rounding out with free flowing deliciousness of Andy Williams' '(Where Do I Begin?) Love Story,' closing on the six minute blend of 'Opera Medley: Nessun Dorma / La Donna é Mobile / Ave Maria.'
You can order Love Italian Style now at Amazon.
Title - 'Are You Serious?' + 'Idiot Optimism'
Artist - Van Duren
For those not in the know, a Memphis pop icon, Van Duren was not only a contemporary of Big Star, but also played with that band’s alumni Chris Bell and Jody Stephens in the Baker Street Regulars, in 1976.
As a solo artist he was managed by Andrew Loog Oldham (The Rolling Stones) and his 1978 debut album, Are You Serious?, found folks comparing him to artists like Todd Rundgren and Paul McCartney.
He recorded a second album that was shelved and, 20 years later, released without his involvement. Now, and thanks to the acclaimed 2018 documentary film Waiting: The Van Duren Story and its soundtrack, many have recently encountered Van Duren for the first time, while those who knew of him discovered what became of him.
Now, both Are You Serious? and Idiot Optimism will be available on CD, LP, Limited-Edition Colored Vinyl, and (for the first time) Digital (October 30th, 2020 via Omnivore Recordings), with liner notes by the artist himself.
Up first is Are You Serious?, which features thirteen originals written by Duren (with Jody Stephens being the only co-writer on one track).
Complete with packaging featuring new liner notes from Van and previously unseen photos, it’s time to get serious about the album that has had collectors searching high and low for a copy for years!
Are You Serious?
1. 'Chemical Fire'
2. 'This Love Inside'
3. 'Oh Babe'
5. 'Grow Yourself Up'
7. 'Positive (Wedding Song)'
8. 'New Year's Eve'
9. 'So Good To Me (For The Time Being)'
10. 'Yellow Light'
11. 'For A While
12. 'Stupid Enough'
13. 'The Love That I Love'
Opening with the drum-led AOR rocker 'Chemical Fire,' that's backed up seamlessly by the gentle guitar fest 'This Love Inside,' the mid-tempo, foot-tappin' 'Oh Babe' following along next.
The dulcet beauty of the piano piece 'Waiting' is simply a beautiful ballad to behold in these crazy times, and that's followed by the Beatles-esque 'Grow Yourself Up,' the soft guitar work of 'Guaranteed,' and then soothing piano ballad 'Positive (Wedding Song)' is brought forth.
Next up is the Wings-esque 'New Year's Eve' which is backed by the euphonious 'So Good To Me (For The Time Being),' his interestingly intro'd AOR take on the nightly news, 'Yellow Light,' rounding out on the playful 'For A While,' the beautifully all-embracing 'Stupid Enough,' closing on the acoustic guitar work of the transcending stellar ballad 'The Love That I Love.'
Official Are You Serious? Purchase Link
After the release of Are You Serious?, Van Duren immediately returned to the studio—recording 14 tracks (one being a medley of two songs) that rivaled his tremendous debut.
But, the album was shelved and didn’t see the light of day for two decades, when inexplicably, it was released in Japan without any input from the artist.
The story is chronicled in the acclaimed documentary Waiting: The Van Duren Story. Now, at long last—Idiot Optimism returns on CD as Van originally intended it to look and sound (plus, it makes its first-ever appearance on double vinyl and Digital).
With full creative control from Duren, this reissue of Idiot Optimism is packaged with new art, liners from Van outlining the story of the album, and many previously unseen photos.
It features 14 originals and a cover of Chris Bell’s (Big Star) 'Make A Scene,' and with this new edition having been remastered from the original analog tapes, Idiot Optimism has never looked nor sounded better.
1. 'Bear With Me All The Way'
2. 'Make A Scene'
3. 'Tennessee, I'm Trying'
4. 'Convincing Convictions'
6. 'Life In Layers'
7. 'What's Keeping You?'
8. 'Torn In Half'
9. 'Hand Over Hand'
10. 'Andy, Please'
11. 'Woman Needs Man Needs Woman'
12. 'Mabel (I'm Amazed)'
13. 'Reminds Me Of Me'
14. 'Medley: Love At The Heart Of It / Mad At The Moon'
This brilliant sophomore album opens with the foot-pumpin' and vocal elegance of 'Bear With Me All The Way' and the free flowing 'Make A Scene,' before giving us the mellow mid-tempo groover 'Tennessee, I'm Trying,' and the low slung guitar work of 'Convincing Convictions.'
Next up is the bouncy, '70s pop vibe of 'That' which is followed by the drum-led rocker 'Life In Layers,' the piano ballad masterpiece 'What's Keeping You?,' the euphoric, high flying ambiance of 'Torn In Half' and then the Jon Anderson, prog-esque wonderment of 'Hand Over Hand' is brought out to play.
A melodic ease is found within 'Andy, Please,' which is backed by the foot-tapper 'Woman Needs Man Needs Woman,' with the album rounding out with the Paul McCartney-esque (I mean, come on, just look at the reworked title!) 'Mabel (I'm Amazed),' the majestic guitar work of 'Reminds Me Of Me,' closing on the brilliantly heartwarming sounds and melodies within the 'Medley: Love At The Heart Of It / Mad At The Moon.'
Official Idiot Optimism Purchase Link
Duren explains, “After the unexpected success of my first album, Are You Serious? and the wild tour that followed its release in 1978, the label asked for a second album."
"I took over the role of producer/ringmaster as we began recording in early autumn ’78. Working now and then over the next 16 months, the album was completed in early 1980, a collection of 15 songs I dubbed Idiot Optimism."
"The new songs shifted from the solo multi-instrumentalist thing to a more ‘live band’ approach. Progressive pop rock with some R&B edge."
"After a huge dispute with the label, the album was shelved and I walked away. It was finally issued on CD by Japan’s Airmail Recordings in 1999 (although the mastering — from the former label — was not great)."
"Now remastered from the original mixes, the album shines like never before. Forty years on, I still consider Idiot Optimism to be right at the top of my discography."
"And through the magical powers of the good folks at Omnivore Recordings, this album and the first, Are You Serious? have not only been restored but improved upon, with top-notch mastering and terrific packages that truly enhance the listening experience. Turn it up!”
Omnivore Van Duren Reissues Trailer/a>
Title - 'A Merry 'Hee-Haw' Christmas'
Artist - Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
For those not in the know, Buck Owens & The Buckaroos were untouchable in the 1960s! Their classic Bakersfield brand of country sent hit after hit up the charts, even Christmas tunes weren’t safe from the Buckaroos magic!
Buck and His Buckaroos recorded two classic Christmas albums for Capitol, first Christmas With Buck Owens And His Buckaroos in 1965 and three years later, Christmas Shopping in 1968.
Not only did both albums make the Billboard Christmas Album Chart (Christmas With charted multiple times — #12 in 1965, and #23 in both 1966 and 1967, and #31 for Christmas Shopping on) - but they both threw off charting singles as well.
'Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy (Daddy Looked A Lot Like Him)' drawn from Christmas With Buck Owens And His Buckaroos proved to be so popular a holiday favorite, it charted twice, hitting #2 in 1965 and two years later in December ’67 revisiting the charts and making it to #18.
In 1968, it was the title track of the second classic Christmas offering, Christmas Shopping that made it to #5.
Going back to the holiday well in 1970, Capitol cashed in again with a double LP distillation of the two albums called A Merry "Hee Haw" Christmas, which would chart at #34.
For that compilation, two songs were omitted, one from each original album, and they’ve been reinstated for Omnivore’s reissue. 'All I Want For Christmas Is My Daddy' and 'It’s Not What You Give' were left off the Christmas Shopping disc, while 'Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy (Daddy Looked a Lot Like Him)' was lost from the Christmas With album — a curious omission since it was the most successful Christmas single ever offered by Buck!
Making its CD and digital debut November 13th, 2020 via Omnivore Recordings, A Merry “Hee Haw” Christmas is now augmented with four bonus tracks. 'All I Want For Christmas Is My Daddy,' 'Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy (Daddy Looked A Lot Like Him)' and two Toys For Tots public service announcements, originally issued on a 1972 Capitol promotional single now round out the program.
Newly remastered from the original analog master tapes by Grammy® Award-winning engineer, Michael Graves, these holiday favorites sparkle and shine like never before.
1. 'Christmas Shopping'
2. 'Christmas Time Is Near'
3. 'The Jolly Christmas Polka'
4. 'All I Want For Christmas Is My Daddy'
5. 'Merry Christmas From Our House To Yours'
6. 'Good Old Fashioned Country Christmas'
7. 'One Of Everything You Got'
8. 'Home On Christmas Day'
9. 'Christmas Schottische'
10. 'A Very Merry Christmas'
11. 'It's Not What You Give'
12. 'Tomorrow Is Christmas Day'
13. 'Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy (Daddy Looked A Lot Like Him)'
14. 'Blue Christmas Lights'
15. 'Christmas Ain't Christmas'
16. 'Jingle Bells'
17. 'All I Want For Christmas Dear Is You'
18. 'Santa's Gonna Come In A Stagecoach'
19. 'Christmas Time's A Comin''
20. 'Blue Christmas Tree'
21. 'Here Comes Santa Claus Again'
22. 'Christmas Morning'
21. 'It's Christmas Time For Everyone But Me'
22. 'Because It's Christmas Time'
23. Toys For Tots (Version 1)
24. Toys For Tots (Version 2)
Produced by Grammy® Nominated- and Award-winning producers, Patrick Milligan and Cheryl Pawelski with estate approval, this quite joyous, and at times playfully raucous, album opens up the spirt of the Holidays with the rambunctious 'Christmas Shopping,' the low key 'Christmas Time Is Near,' the frenetic sounds of 'The Jolly Christmas Polka,' and then we get Hawaiian ambiance of 'All I Want For Christmas Is My Daddy,' the slow poke 'Merry Christmas From Our House To Yours,' and then the perky twanging of both 'Good Old Fashioned Country Christmas' and 'One Of Everything You Got.'
Up next is the upbeat and foot-tappin' 'Home On Christmas Day' which is followed by that quaint, old school, traditional feel of 'Christmas Schottische,' the harmonious 'A Very Merry Christmas,' the ballad 'It's Not What You Give,' the twanging guitar flourish of 'Tomorrow Is Christmas Day,' and then fun 'Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy (Daddy Looked A Lot Like Him),' the lonesome plea of 'Blue Christmas Lights,' the ballad 'Christmas Ain't Christmas' and then drum-led, "Hawaii Five 0"-esque intro to 'Jingle Bells' is brought forth.
Next up is the Islands sway of 'All I Want For Christmas Dear Is You,' which is backed by the foot-tappin', country hipsway of 'Santa's Gonna Come In A Stagecoach,' the upbeat 'Christmas Time's A Comin',' the slow waltz of 'Blue Christmas Tree,' before this chock full of real, honest to God goodness comes to a close, with the cheerful 'Here Comes Santa Claus Again,' the melodious, jingle bells-imbued 'Christmas Morning,' the lonesome, yearning ballad 'It's Christmas Time For Everyone But Me,' the joyful 'Because It's Christmas Time,' ending on two Toys For Tots radio spots.
Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Tales of the Soul'
Artist - Devin B. Thompson
For those not in the know, soul music is a deep well, and the mercury-voiced Devin B. Thompson plumbs the form to its depths in Tales of the Soul, the Chicago-based singer-songwriter’s striking Severn Records bow, which arrives October 30th, 2020.
Co-produced by Thompson, Severn founder David Earl, and pianist-musical director Kevin Anker, the 11-track release was recorded at the label’s Annapolis, Maryland, studio.
The collection features the company’s ace house band: Anker, guitarist Johnny Moeller, organist Benjie Porecki, bassist Steve Gomes, and drummer Robb Stupka.
The group’s earthy yet silken sound is augmented by a four-piece horn section, a hip-pocket chorus of background vocalists, and storied guitarist Robben Ford, who guests on two tracks.
1. 'Love To See You Smile'
2. 'I'm Gonna Cry A River'
3. 'Something You Can Do Today'
4. 'Back Together'
5. 'I Ain't No Good'
6. 'Get Home Tonight'
7. 'Can't Get Over You'
9. 'Read Your Mind'
10. 'Time After Time'
11. 'Tell Me'
Opening with the euphoric Gospel sounds of 'Love To See You Smile' that's backed by the mid-tempo, horn and organ-imbued flow of 'I'm Gonna Cry A River,' the gentle, Choir -like hipsway of 'Something You Can Do Today,' and then both the soulful R&B of 'Back Together' and the funky 'I Ain't No Good.'
Next up is the harmonious, one-two soul rhythm of 'Get Home Tonight,' which is followed by the slow roll of 'Can't Get Over You,' the lush 'Deeper,' the guitar-led pop funk of 'Read Your Mind,' rounding out on the Gospel-inspired 'Time After Time,' closing on the uptown, upbeat, foot-tappin' melodies of 'Tell Me.'
Tales of the Soul is the culmination of a musical career that began in Thompson’s early teens in the city of Joliet, just southwest of the Windy City.
He was the product of a musical family, and, like many a soul great, he has a church background: His father was a choir singer whose voice attracted the attention of the famed producer Thom Bell, and his sister also led a choir.
"I was playing trumpet and singing background in my older brother’s band,” Thompson recalls. “We started getting paid to play in variety shows when I was 14 or 15 years old, in Joliet. We’d play at places like the Ebony Terrace, the Sheraton Hotel, lounges.”
He increasingly segued into singing as the group played shows around the Midwest. “Because I was a horn player,” he says, “at first I didn’t really look to vocalists as any kind of inspiration."
"I was looking at instrumentalists — Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Guitar Watson. Those were the people I gravitated towards. Later on it was Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, the Staples, Donny Hathaway."
"Then I was introduced to the music of Joe Williams, the jazz singer, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett. I didn’t become interested in songwriting until I heard Prince, who became my favorite artist.”
Ultimately, the performer who would have the greatest impact on Thompson’s style and career was someone he knew personally.
“Willie Newsome was a huge influence,” he says. “I knew this man all my life. It’s a funny thing. I had a record player in my room, and I would go through all my dad’s old 45s."
"I threw one on and went, ‘Man, this is great. Who is this, Dad?’ The label said Frankie Newsome, and I didn’t know anybody named Frankie Newsome. He said, ‘Man, that’s Willie!’"
"He had a lot of records under different monikers — Little Willie Parker, Willie Parker, and Frankie Newsome.”
Thompson and Newsome eventually worked together in a Chicago-based society band, the Georgia Francis Orchestra. In 2015, some of Newsome’s highly prized singles for small Windy City labels attracted the attention of an English promoter, who featured him on a major Northern Soul festival in Manchester.
In closing, and although it was created half a continent away from his Midwestern stomping grounds, Devin B. Thompson’s Severn debut Tales of the Soul proved to be a surprising, and yet highly rewarding experience for the musician; as it will for listeners too.
Amazon Purchase Link
Title - 'DarWin II: A Frozen War'
Artist - DarWin
For those not in the know, following the release of his critically acclaimed debut album, Origin Of Species in early 2019, DarWin will release his follow up album, Darwin 2: A Frozen War on November 6th, 2020 via his own record label.
Once more DarWin has assembled a stunning ensemble of musicians, which means that DarWin II: A Frozen War continues the core collaboration with: Simon Phillips (drums, Toto/The Who/Jeff Beck), Matt Bissonette (Elton John, David Lee Roth, Ringo Starr) and DarWin. Joining them are powerhouse players Billy Sheehan (bass, Mr Big/ Steve Vai/Winery Dogs), Guthrie Govan (guitar, Aristocrats/Asia/Hans Zimmer/Steven Wilson), Greg Howe (guitar, Michael Jackson/Justin Timberlake), Derek Sherinian (keyboards, Dream Theater/Alice Cooper/Black Country Communion), and more!
This second album builds on the themes of Origin Of Species, with the first single 'Nightmare Of My Dreams' featured a stunning video centered around the theme of the recent wildfires; having also been filmed in areas of Australia directly affected.
The other tracks build on DarWin’s sound – drawing the best elements of progressive rock with a depth of vocal soundscapes and songwriting.
Indeed, there is a generous amount of guitar shred and heavy grooves on display for the rock faithful who demand athletic performances, but at the same time there are ethereal, pop and prog moments too, that combine perfectly to embody and gel the project.
1. 'Nightmare Of My Dreams' (7:07)
2. 'Future History' (5:39)
3. 'Eternal Life' (5:32)
4. 'A Frozen War' (7:31)
5. 'Another Year' (5:10)
Opening with the stirring, operatic, cultured orchestral prog mayhem of sound that resides in the melodic 'Nightmare Of My Dreams,' that's backed by the gentler, soothsaying AOR tale 'Future History.'
Next up - from the man singlehandedly opening our eyes, hearts and ears to the future of humanity and the challenging world around us - is my own personal favorite, the harmonious, pop rock of 'Eternal Life,' which is followed by a countdown into the thunderous, at times, passive and spoken word warnings, of 'A Frozen War,' coming to a close on the acoustic guitar-led, yet upbeat and poppy duet 'Another Year.'
The album is also be available in spectacular Double-Colored Eco-Vinyl Gatefold LP with a 30cm x 20cm poster included!
The first LP will be the standard album track listing, as above, whereas the second LP features new interpretations of various songs from the first two albums.
Highlighting the orchestral or unplugged performances of the earlier tracks, they were all mixed and rearranged by mastermind Simon Phillips, and show a more delicate and emotional side to the DarWin recordings.
The full track listing for the second LP of this magnificent Double-Colored Eco-Vinyl Gatefold LP is:
1. 'Escape the Maze' (Orchestral)
2. 'Nightmare of My Dreams' (Orchestral)
3. 'Slowly Melting' (Unplugged)
4. 'Forever' (Orchestral)
1. 'One Horizon' (Unplugged)
2. 'Rise' (Orchestral)
3. 'Last Chance' (Orchestral)
4. 'Another Year' (Acapella)
DarWin says. “We completed this album under extraordinary circumstances. The writing for the album continued as we wrapped Origin of Species in 2018, and our worlds were turned upside down by wildfires and viral pandemics."
"We’re grateful to the amazing group of musicians, artists and professionals who participated in this project. Almost no aspect of the creative process was “typical,” with team members spread out around the world, and often under lock down."
"We had our instruments, our technologies, and a passion for musical creativity. We hope that the emotion and resilience of this time period will come through these recordings.”
DarWin @ Facebook
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DarWin @ Spotify
Title - '2¢'
Artist - Douglas Olsen
For those not in the know, Douglas Olsen has been a freelance trumpeter for over 25 years performing jazz and world music.
Indeed, he plays solo and/or lead trumpet with many of New England’s top bands and has also been a featured soloist with Scary Pockets, Iguie Castrillo Latin Jazz Orchestra, Latin Logic, Vibra Tropical, Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, USAF Band of Liberty, Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra, Berklee College of Music Faculty Bigband, Big Apple Circus, Aretha Franklin, and Little Anthony and the Imperials.
Furthermore, Doug has recorded extensively on pop/rock, swing, jazz, and latin CD’s, including: The Brian Thomas/Alex Lee-Clark Bigband, The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, The Fernando Huergo Bigband, The New World Jazz Composers Octet, A Collective Directive, “Prozac Nation” by Bellevue Cadillac (featured on the The Sopranos and Shallow Hal), and jazz vocalist Michelle Mailhot’s 'A Happy Madness.'
Olsen's brand new album, 2¢ (out now), features a collection of both new and older compositions, with the addition of a few arrangements of his favorite covers to have performed over the years.
2. '2 Cents'
3. 'Algo Bueno'
5. 'Miles Rumba'
6. 'Critical Mass'
8. 'Una Para Ti'
Opening with the free flowing majesty of 'Tailwind,' next up is the quieter, more relaxed title track, which is backed by the gently frenetic Latin-styling of the 1942 jazz standard written by Dizzy Gillespie, 'Algo Bueno,' which is itself followed by both the uptempo swing of 'Rat-Race' and the Gendrickson Mena Diaz-written 'Miles Rumba.'
One of my own personal favorites, the delightful 'Critical Mass' is up next and is backed by the Latin hipsway of 'Boperation' (from Howard McGee and Fats Navarro), with the album rounding out on the dulcet, late night underground dive bar ambiance of 'Un Para Ti,' closing on the thrashingly fervent, yet at all times cultured 'Passage.'
You can order 2¢ now at Amazon.
Title - 'I Can Still Hear You'
Artist - Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche
For those not in the know, this past spring, Suzzy Roche and her daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche headed down to Nashville to make their third album together.
Suzzy had written a batch of songs, informed both by personal loss — her sister, Maggie, and her mother died in 2017 — and her sense of the societal havoc stemming from the 2016 election.
Suzzy wrote these close-to-the-heart (and bone) songs with Lucy always in mind to sing them.
The two were just a week or so into their recording sessions with producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin (who had produced Lucy’s last two solo albums) when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Suzzy and Lucy had to return quickly to their homes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, respectively, for the quarantine lockdown.
It was a scary, bleak time but they didn’t abandon the album, even though Suzzy admits she felt like giving up many times — “Like, why bother, the world is coming to an end.”
However, she credits Lucy, Jordan, Helen Vaskevitch (assistant engineer), Stewart Lerman (who wound up mixing the record) and Dick Connette (StorySound Records) with keeping the project going. “Although this wasn’t the plan we originally made, and although it was trying at times,” Lucy shares, “we made it work and I actually think this is my favorite of our duo recordings.”
Thus, I Can Still Hear You (out October 30th, 2020 via Storysound Records), conceived out of personal loss and turmoil, arrives at a time of global loss and turmoil.
The eleven thought-provoking tracks - which includes eight soul-searching, thought-provoking originals and three perfectly chosen covers, along with guest appearances by Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls - explore themes of good and evil, youth and mortality, the absurd and the serious, the real and the imagined, and the connection between what is present and what is gone.
Each of their albums together have documented a specific time and this one, according to Suzzy, “... probably is the darkest, but at the same time, it’s the most fanciful too. This time, there seemed an extra urgency about it.”
1. 'I Can Still Hear You'
3. 'Talkin' Like You (Two Tall Mountains)'
4. 'I Think I Am A Soul'
5. 'Swan (Duck) Song'
6. 'Factory Girl'
7. 'Get the Better'
9. 'Joseph D.'
11. 'Bein' Green'
Opening with the melodious lead single, which also serves as the titular tune, it is Lucy’s only solo composition here, and was written after returning from Nashville, at a time when New York was transformed from the City That Never Sleeps to a relative ghost town.
That's backed by a track that asks the question of Why is a human heart so mean? within 'Ruins,' a simply breathtaking cover of Connie Converse’s 'Talkin' Like You (Two Tall Mountains),' and both the lo-fi harmonious ambiance of, and a fitting bed for the gossamer vocals of Lucy, 'I Think I Am A Soul' (and which features Indigo Girls’ Emily Saliers on guitar), and then the congenial 'Swan (Duck) Song' (a deceptively simple fable-like setting which tells a sobering story about waddling your way through despair to get to a better place).
Next up is a traditional ballad that appeared on The Roches’ 1980 record Nurds, with this rendition featuring Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray, 'Factory Girl,' which is followed by one of my own personal favorites, the relatable storytelling of 'Get the Better,' the perky 'Little' (an ode to the children’s book character Stuart Little; albeit one not as "cute" as you might be led to initially believe), and the tale of a cruel misogynist is brought forth within 'Joseph D.', with the album rounding out on the previously unreleased Maggie Roche song 'Jane,' closing on its best-known cover, 'Bein’ Green,' of Sesame Street fame.
In closing, listening to the songs, one after another, their heartfelt lyrics and lushly orchestrated melodies all magnificently coming to the fore, I Can Still Hear You definitely does stand as a special project for both Lucy and Suzzy. “In a time when so many people are suffering,” Suzzy confides, “you hope that you can put something out into the world that will comfort, not in any saccharine way, but in the truest way you know how to.”
Lucy adds, “I think the impact of this time on the music and on us remains unseen in some way. It’s still unfolding, but it feels like a mysteriously timed project and I really am glad to get it out into the world.”
You can order I Can Still Hear You now at www.suzzyandlucy.com.
Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche - 'I Can Still Hear You' Video
Title - 'The Gathering'
Artist - Amber Weekes
A popular and youthful jazz singer, Amber Weekes has released her first Christmas album, The Gathering (out October 1st, 2020).
Here, she utilizes Mark Cargill’s arrangements for a cast of top Los Angeles-based musicians including pianists Josh Nelson, Tony Campodonico, and Eddy Olivieri, bassists John B. Williams, Adam Cohen, and Kevin Brandon, drummers Fritz Wise, Sinclair Lott, and Nathaniel Scott, guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr, Doug MacDonald, and Jacques Lesure, tenor-saxophonist Rickey Woodard, trumpeter Andrew Carney, and a string section.
Amber Weekes was born in Los Angeles to a pair of singers whose heritage as Harlemites was an important influence. A vocalist from an early age, she has sung in a countless number of Southern California clubs and venues, and performed at the New Rochelle Jazz Festival in New York and at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
Amber studied singing with such teachers as Gwendolyn Wyatt, Phil Moore Jr, Catherine Hansen, Sue Fink and, most importantly, Sue Raney. She made her recording debut with her ’Round Midnight album and recently released Pure Imagination.
On The Gathering, she performs consistently stimulating versions of Yuletide favorites, plus throws in a few surprises too!
1. 'The Christmas Waltz'
2. 'I’ll Be Home For Christmas' (featuring Paul Jackson, Jr.)
3. 'My Romance (Christmas Mix)'
4. 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus'
5. 'Some Children See Him'
6. 'What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve'
7. 'Winter Wonderland'
8. 'Silent Night'
9. 'Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!'
10. 'The Gathering'
Opening with the begins with her cheerfully lush rendition of 'The Christmas Waltz' she backs that up seamlessly with a low key, bossa-nova treatment of 'I’ll Be Home For Christmas,' which includes a rarely heard verse, and also features Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar.
The Rodgers and Hart classic 'My Romance' (with a hint of jingle bells motivating it) showcases Amber's genuine warmth for the song, whilst singing out-of-tempo, creating a dreamlike atmosphere, and then we get the vibrantly upbeat and fun 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' - treated here to a swing vibe that also allows both Woodard’s tenor and pianist Campodonico's key work to elegantly come to the fore.
Next up is a simply divine 'Some Children See Him,' which allows Amber's oh-so tender vocals to lovingly blend in with Ernie Fields Jr’s haunting bagpipes, the heartwarmingly joyous 'What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve' is up next, and then we are treated to an exuberantly free flowing 'Winter Wonderland.'
A rather delightfully sweet version of 'Silent Night' is chock full of wondrous, if not understated motion and comes complete with Nelson on keyboards, and then the album rounds out with a buoyantly carefree 'Let It Snow,' before closing on the soulfully inspiring and delightfully festive Christmas original 'The Gathering (featuring an impressive violin solo from Mark Cargill).
A delightful presence in Southern California’s jazz scene, Amber Weekes’ memorable voice, versatility and expressive style makes her one to watch and The Gathering a Christmas jazz album that one should not miss.
Amber Weekes @ Facebook
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Title - 'Light of the Sun'
Artist - Paul Winter
For those not in the know, seven-time Grammy® Award winner Paul Winter's new album, Light of the Sun, will be released on November 13th, 2020 via the Living Music label.
Showcasing his signature sax voice for the first time, Winter has produced the most personal musical offering of his 60-year recording career.
Indeed, Light of the Sun is a milestone in Paul Winter’s long musical journey; the first album he has made in which he is the featured soloist throughout.
“Since I organized my first little band in Altoona at age 12, I have always worn two musical hats: as player and bandleader,” Winter says. “But my love for playing sax has most often been overshadowed by my fascination with bands and ensembles of all kinds.”
With his early jazz sextet and with the Paul Winter Consort, which has been his forum since 1968, Winter has usually been content to play as a member of the ensemble.
The premise of his bands has always been that of a musical democracy: everybody is featured, but the overall ensemble sound is primary. However, he has long harbored the dream of creating an entire album featuring his beloved soprano sax.
“This year, having recently turned 80, I figured it was as good a time as any to do it,” Winter says.
The 15 pieces of the album include a series of new compositions, along with unique reinterpretations of iconic chestnuts from Winter’s odyssey.
Included is a trilogy of pieces featuring voices from what he calls “the greater symphony of the Earth,” saluting our three realms of ocean (Dolphin), air (Wood Thrush), and land (Wolf).
1. 'Sun Singer'
2. 'My Father's Smile'
3. 'Dolphin Morning'
5. 'Primavera (Spring)'
6. 'The Well-Tempered Wood Thrush'
7. 'Quiet Now'
9. 'Wolf Eyes'
10. 'Canto Triste (Sad Song)'
11. 'Sweet Home'
12. 'Canyon Chaconne'
14. 'Winter's Dream'
15. 'Inner Peace'
This quite magnificently majestic album, structured as a journey with the Sun through the morning, afternoon, evening, and night of a day, and also through the seasons of the year, opens on the wistful ambiance of both 'Sun Singer' and the piano elegance of 'My Father's Smile,' before we are served up some signature Winter sax work on 'Dolphin Morning,' which is backed by the dulcet 'Hymn' and the Latin guitar-imbued 'Primavera (Spring).'
Next up is the atmospheric 'The Well-Tempered Wood Thrush' which is followed by the stirring 'Quiet Now,' the subtle flow of 'Turning' (which, to my ear, also has a whispered undercurrent of Manilow's 'Could It Be Magic' tracking it!), another highly atmospheric, wolf-calling track in the form of the aptly-entitled 'Wolf Eyes,' and then the oh-so politely gentle, Latin hipsway of 'Canto Triste (Sad Song).'
Next is the lushly orchestrated piano work of 'Sweet Home' which is backed by another atmospheric piece, the earthy 'Canyon Chaconne,' with the album rounding out on the delightful 'Wintersong,' the Church-like tranquility of 'Winter's Dream,' closing on the stoic, yet mesmerizing gossameriness of 'Inner Peace.'
Masterful keyboardists accompany Winter’s saxophone, including Paul Halley on piano and the pipe organ of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and pianists Jeff Holmes, Denny Zeitlin, and Don Grusin.
Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves plays on three tracks, and cellist Eugene Friesen on two.
"Light of the Sun is my testament as a sax player,” adds Winter. “And in saying this, I don’t mean to imply it is my last. Actually, I’m intending it to be my first. When you arrive at 80, you need to be ready for something new.”
Pre-Order the Album By CLICKING HERE!
Paul Winter @ Facebook
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Paul Winter Consort @ YouTube
Title - 'For What It's Worth' [CD Single]
Artist - Rebecca Angel
Having already released the Christmas single 'My Favorite Time of Year' (2015) and then 'Jet Samba' (2016), Rebecca Angel then brought out her sultry and soulful debut EP, What We Had (2018).
Drawing from a fresh whirlwind of classic and contemporary influences, that was followed by the 2019 singles 'Thoughts & Prayers,' 'Summer Song,' and another Christmas single, a cover of the Christmas classic 'Santa Baby' (originally recorded in 1953 by the late Eartha Kitt).
And now, the emerging NYC-based singer is back once again with the highly anticipated new single, 'For What It's Worth' (out October 26th via Timeless Grooves Records).
A cover of the Stephen Stills-written, Buffalo Springfield-sung 'For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound) (often shortened to simply 'For What It's Worth'), it was originally recorded on December 5th, 1966, released as a single on Atco Records on December 23rd, 1966, and peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the spring of 1967.
Whilst striving never to alter such a classic song, but simply remodel it, Angel brings forth a rather soulful twist on Stephen Stills timeless protest classic.
Indeed, Angel's jazz inflections here on this reimagining are undoubtedly a testament to the producer, veteran jazz/R&B keyboardist/producer Jason Miles, and they are mesmerizingly anchored by an array of top session musicians, including: guitarist Dean Brown, bassist Reggie Washington, drummer Gene Lake, and percussionist Bashiri Johnson.
It also features powerful soloing by Brown and Rebecca's father, Dennis Angel, on trumpet, as well as some excellently layered vocal feathering from the magnetically inspirational singer Maya Azucena.
'For What It's Worth' is scheduled to be released on October 26th, 2020 on Timeless Groove Records.
Rebecca Angel @ Facebook
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Rebecca Angel @ Instagram
Rebecca Angel @ YouTube
Official 'For What It's Worth' CD Single Purchase Link
Title - 'Love & Desperation'
Artist - Rick Shea
If Rick Shea’s new album, Love & Desperation had a motto, it would likely be, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
The Southern California Americana artist’s 12th album — due from Anaheim, Calif.-based Tres Pescadores Records on October 23rd, 2020 as a physical and digital release respectively — is the product of unique recordings sessions that were the product of the unique challenges facing musicians in the year 2020.
Singer-songwriter-guitarist Shea is, of course, no stranger to the studio. In addition to the work he has produced under his own name, he has compiled a formidable résumé that dates back to the ‘80s.
His instrumental and vocal talents have been employed in the late Chris Gaffney’s Cold Hard Facts and Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men, and he has worked with singer-songwriter Katy Moffatt and rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson.
Indeed, Rick began sessions for a new record in the spring of 2019 at his home studio Casa de Calora in Covina, employing top-flight talent such as drummer Shawn Nourse (Dwight Yoakam, I See Hawks in L.A.) bassist Jeff Turmes (Mavis Staples), and his longtime collaborator Dave Hall.
Work had progressed when the coronavirus pandemic brought the country to a standstill in early 2020. So Shea and his collaborators went the digital route, in their own backyards.
“It’s not a good time to be in a room all together these days,” Rick says. “And everybody’s trying to be as careful as they can. So I worked with guys who were set up to record.”
Thus, Nourse ended up cutting new drum parts at his own home studio Nourse by Northwest; accordionist/organist Phil Parlapiano of Dead Rock West tracked at his Electricdog Studio; Skip Edwards, best known as Dwight Yoakam’s longtime keyboardist, worked at his Studio 401; and accordionist David Jackson laid down his parts at (where else) StudioDave.
Rick adds, “The natural sound of this record is a testament to how good these guys are. I think they did just a wonderful job.”
But he admits that the old ways are still preferable: “More and more, it’s easier to move in this direction. But it’s hard to beat getting a group of guys into a room together.”
1. 'Blues, Stop Knockin' at My Door'
2. 'Blues at Midnight'
3. '(Down at the Bar at) Gypsy Sally's'
4. 'Love and Desperation'
5. 'She Sang of the Earth'
6. 'Big Rain Is Comin', Mama'
7. 'Tender Hearted Love'
8. 'Juanita, Why Are You So Mean'
9. 'The World's Gone Crazy'
10. 'Nashville Blues'
11. 'Mystic Canyon'
12. 'Texas Lawyer'
Part autobiography and part commentary, the songs are a reflection of these modern times, and he opens with the honky-tonk of 'Blues, Stop Knockin' at My Door' (a rockabilly number by swamp rocker Al Ferrier that was covered by bluesman Lazy Lester) and backs that up with the low slung twang of 'Blues at Midnight,' the upbeat, rattlesnake percussional storytelling of '(Down at the Bar at) Gypsy Sally's,' and then we get the driving, lonesome troubadour offering of the title track, 'Love and Desperation.'
The earnest country values of 'She Sang of the Earth' (a ballad collaboration with Kim Ringer, daughter of the late, respected singer-songwriter Jim Ringer) makes this one of my own personal favorites, and that's backed by the heartfelt anxiety of 'Big Rain Is Comin', Mama' (albeit a nice country two-step that also happens to be about impending doom), the lo-fi balladeering of 'Tender Hearted Love,' and then comes the feisty dancefloor polka of 'Juanita, Why Are You So Mean' (the title originating from the name of his wife Susie’s mom).
A mainstay of the California country, folk and honky-tonk scene (I mean, he's definitely up there with the likes of Tom Russell and Dave Alvin), a literate, melodic songsmith and a great guitarist toboot, Rick then brings us the forlorn renderings of 'The World's Gone Crazy' (a song written after having watched a particularly harrowing episode of The Rachel Maddow Show), which is followed by the gentle guitar twangs found within the cautionary tale 'Nashville Blues,' with the album rounding out on the ornately atmospheric instrumental 'Mystic Canyon,' closing on the Mariachi noir narrative appeal of 'Texas Lawyer' (which itself was inspired by the work of hardboiled novelist Elmore Leonard, and interestingly, is now the third time the song has appeared on a record).
“I got a lot of my musical education, for better or worse, in the bars and honky tonks in San Bernardino where I grew up, and ‘Blues at Midnight’ is a pretty good reflection of that," Rick explains about the song.
"‘(Down at the Bar at) Gypsy Sally’s’ borrows its title from Townes Van Zandt’s song ‘Tecumseh Valley.’ The scene is what I imagined some nights in some of the places I played and having some fun with it."
"It’s about the characters I looked at in those joints for years. That was their life – hanging out in bars, and having their little scene, their little hustle going."
“That’s kind of the way the album progressed,” Rick continues, “and it’s also the product of these times that we’re living in. To me, blues is what most popular music is based on, in the words of the great Townes Van Zandt ‘there’s two kinds of music, the blues and everything else is just Zippity Do Dah.’”
Rick Shea @ Facebook
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Rick Shea @ iTunes
Rick Shea @ YouTube
Title - 'Misfit's Jubilee'
Artist - Jim White
For those not in the know, the ever-elusive Americana maverick Jim White returns with his most upbeat, hallucinogenic record to date.
Known for his catalog of dark ruminations on all things Southern, White’s latest outing, Misfit’s Jubilee, (out October 30th, 2020 via Fluff & Gravy Records) features a nonstop parade of manic, blue-collar conflagrations exploring realms dark and light, mystic and mundane, cynical and heartfelt; all presented within a buoyant, hook-laden sonic framework.
Misfit’s Jubilee draws from an array of original songs penned by White over the span of several decades — scattered among the recent compositions are songs back-burnered in previous epochs by White’s major label handlers, this after said songs were deemed too extreme for his “brand”.
With no such middle-man constraints this go-round, in Misfit’s Jubilee, White has found the perfect vehicle to unleash his twisted take on southern folk rock.“A motel’s as good a place as any to let your demons fly!”
1. 'Monkey In A Silo'
2. 'Wonders Never Cease'
3. 'Sum of What We've Been'
4. 'There Would I Be'
5. 'Smart-Ass Reply'
6. 'The Mystery of You'
7. 'Highway of Lost Hats'
8. 'Fighting My Ghosts Again'
9. 'My Life's A Stolen Picture'
10. 'The Divided States of America'
Plunging headlong into Misfit’s Jubilee one central truth emerges — the further White dives into the material, the deeper said material gets, culminating with the closing couplet of epic show stoppers - he opens with the translucently strident 'Monkey In A Silo,' which is backed by the mid-tempo, fuzzy rockabilly-imbued 'Wonders Never Cease,' and then comes the, at first ornate and translucent, but soon free flowingly, windows down, Americana-leaning of 'The Sum Of What We've Been.'
Next up is the transcendent guitar and harmonica rock out of 'Where Would I Be' and then with the rampantly euphoric guitar fest of 'Smart Ass Reply' backing that up nicely, the album - recorded primarily at Studio Caporal in Antwerp, Belgium - unabashedly begins to showcase a stark reminder that this record marks a noticeable departure from White's usual hopscotch approach to collaboration.
A fact mainly due to there not being a bevy of celebrated guest artists and studios scattered across the globe this time around. Indeed, all this album has accompanying it is multi-instrumentalist White, his long time drummer Marlon Patton, plus trusted Belgian sidemen Geert Hellings (guitar/banjo) and Nicolas Rombouts (electric and stand-up bass/keys).
That said, the pared down chemistry on display here totally lends Misfit's Jubilee a sonic integrity that continues onward with the melancholy, piano-driven 'The Mystery Of You,' the atmospheric, and darkly comedic 'Highway of Lost Hats,' the one-two rock-popera of 'Fighting My Ghosts Again," rounding out with the banjo-led, foot-tappin' Americana kitsch of 'My Life’s A Stolen Picture' (replete with stadium anthem chants and shout-outs to Bigfoot), with that ribald mood quickly displaced by the most overtly political song on the record, 'The Divided States of America.' (which I could swear opens with the underbelly melody of Hall & Oates' 'I Can't Go For That').
A scathing indictment of the sorry state of affairs in his homeland, White’s deadpan delivery brilliantly underscores the banal evil at play presently in the US and brings the new musical adventure - and one that far exceeds any of White's previous efforts - to a most perfect close.
You can order Misfit's Jubilee now at www.FluffandGravy.com.
Jim White @ Facebook
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Jim White @ YouTube
Title - 'Littoral Zone: Percussion for Mollusks'
Artist - Julian Gerstin
For those not in the know, for over 40 years, Julian Gerstin has performed and studied a wide variety of music.
His main styles are traditions of Martinique, Cuba, Ghana (Ewe) and Brazil; popular music from those same countries as well as Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and other Caribbean islands; Balkan music; and jazz.
He has performed styles ranging from punk to choral music, Mexican son to zydeco, but the main styles are the Caribbean and jazz, with a taste of the Balkans.
He likes music that makes him think. And music that makes him sweat.
Indeed, he performs on a wide variety of percussion instruments: tanbou bèlè, a drum from Martinique; Cuban instruments including conga, bongó, cajón, and shekere; Brazilian samba instruments such as surdo, pandeiro, repinique, timbal and agogo; the tappan drum from Bulgaria/Macedonia; and many others, including washboard and donkey’s jawbone.
His jazz sextet, the Julian Gerstin Sextet, has released two CDs, The One Who Makes You Happy and The Old City. Playing with musicians around the world, Julian has recorded with the afrobeat band Kotoja, South Africa's Zulu Spear, jazz experimentalist Joel Harrison, and Puerto Rican folkloric ensemble Bomba de Aqui.
Ergo, a brilliant and continually creative percussionist, Julian's brand new album, Littoral Zone (out October 15th, 2020), showcases him as a soloist on percussion, berimbau, ocarina, whistles, and wordless vocals.
He is joined on three numbers by Steve Rice on marimba and on one by Anna Patton (clarinet on 'Corculum cardissa'), but otherwise the focus is entirely on Julian.
1. 'Voluta musica'
2. 'Dentalium elephantium'
4. 'Spirula spirula'
5. 'Littorina littorea'
6. 'Corculum cardissa'
7. 'Doris prismatica'
8. 'Crepidula fornicata'
9. 'Volva volva'
11. 'Telescopium telescopium'
12. 'Janthina janthina'
13. 'Hexaplex radix'
14. 'Argonauta argo'
15. 'Diálogo de los caracoles rapidos'
16. 'Vampyrotheusis infernalis'
17. 'Littoral Zone'
Opening with the magnificently atmospheric, jungle-vibed 'Voluta musica,' the tempo rises for the gently frenetic 'Dentalium elephantium,' and them comes the quieter, melodic hipsway of 'Purpura,' the one-two, foot-tappin' beats of 'Spirula spirula,' the drum-led 'Littorina littorea,' and then both the horn-imbued 'Corculum cardissa' and the just-under-a-minute 'Doris prismatica.'
Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the rhythmic 'Crepidula fornicata,' which is followed by the Caribbean-flavored 'Volva volva,' the passively soothing 'Grimpotheusius,' the funky 'Telescopium telescopium,' and then both the jangly percussion of 'Janthina janthina' and the vibrational shuffle of 'Hexaplex radix.'
Bringing the album into its last musical turn, up next is the free flowing, underwater engrained majesty of 'Argonauta argo,' the rawness of 'Diálogo de los caracoles rapidos,' the album closing on the fervent drums of 'Vampyrotheusis infernalis,' and then the staggered horn and drum, gloriously lumbered musical mechanism of the title track itself.
Julian in his own words on this new album:
"I’m a percussionist. I also really like mollusks."
"For the past three years I’ve been recording music for some of my favorite mollusks. Like the aptly named 'Voluta musica.' And 'Littorina littorea,' our beloved periwinkle, tenaciously clinging to rocks at the waterline."
"'Janthina janthina,' which floats around the world’s oceans in a nest of bubbles. The terrifyingly named mini-squid, 'Vampyrotheusis infernalis.' And more. Seventeen songs in all."
"This is my first solo release. My jazz sextet, the Julian Gerstin Sextet (imaginative name, eh?), has two CDs that you can get as rewards with this one."
"I’ve also recorded with afrobeat band Kotoja, jazz experimentalist Joel Harrison, Puerto Rican folkloric ensemble Bomba de Aquí, and many others. (None of those groups make songs about mollusks.)"
"The music on Littoral Zone draws from my experiences with folkloric and band styles from Cuba, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Turkey, Egypt, Bulgaria."
"The music may evoke some of those traditions, but it's from none of them. The rhythms, combinations of instruments, and musical forms are all invented."
"Shout outs to Steve Rice for adding marimba to three tracks, and Anna Patton for clarinet on 'Corculum cardissa,' the heart cockle."
Julian Gerstin: percussion, vocals, berimbau, ocarina, whistles
Anna Patton: clarinet on 'Corculum cardissa'
Steve Rice: marimba on 'Purpura,', 'Grimpotheusis,' 'Argonauta argo'
Title - Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein Plus [8CD Box]
Artist - Bobby Bare
For those not in the know, no artist recorded more Shel Silverstein songs than veteran country singer Bobby Bare.
Indeed, his 1972 cover of Silverstein's bittersweet 'Sylvia's Mother' launched a professional relationship that led to an enduring friendship.
Lullabys, Legends And Lies (1974) remains an exercise in pure imagination, establishing Bare as a major album artist and yielded 'Marie Laveau,' Bare's first chart-topping single.
Furthermore, among Silverstein's wry sagas about winners, losers, and lonely all-night cafés, you'll discover charming children's songs and touching, affectionate love ballads. A complicated man, that Silverstein.
If most people associate the late Shel Silverstein with his children's literature, others remember his cartoons and graphic travelogues for Playboy.
By contrast, relatively few recognize this Chicago native as a prolific songwriter, penning such hits as Johnny Cash's 'A Boy Named Sue,' Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show's 'The Cover Of Rolling Stone,' Tompall Glaser's 'Another Log On The Fire,' and Loretta Lynn's 'One's On The Waycorn.'
During the late '70s, Silverstein shifted his creative focus to playwriting and children's books, but he continued crafting clever songs specifically for Bare.
By the mid-'80s, Bare had recorded more than 100 Silverstein originals.
Out now, Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein, Plus is the first comprehensive collection of this material, and is accompanied by a quite wondrous 128-page hardcover book.
Complete with eight (8) CDs (with a total playing time of 476:39 minutes), which include 137 tracks, 25 of them previously unissued, six (6) albums appear complete, including integral songs by other writers.
The long-unheard Great American Saturday Night includes three songs missing from a recent independent label release.
The Box-Set contains an LP-sized, lavishly illustrated 128-page hardcover book that contains song lyrics and a discography.
In a conversation with Hank Davis, Bare recalls his years working with Silverstein, and Dave Samuelson documents the songwriter's multiple creative pursuits.
That all said, there is also to be found a disclaimer within the liner notes from author Dave Samuelson: “Newcomers to the Bare/Silverstein catalog should note several of these recordings contain language that may surprise if not shock more sensitive ears."
"Always the iconoclast, Silverstein generally directed his ribald, often dark humor to a predominantly male audience. His world straddled both the Playboy philosophy and the bohemian Beat Generation of the 1950s."
Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends And Lies
1. 'Lullabys, Legends And Lies'
3. 'Marie Laveau'
4. 'Daddy What If'
5. 'The Wonderful Soup Stone'
6. 'The Winner'
7. 'In The Hills Of Shiloh'
8. 'She's My Ever Lovin' Machine'
9. 'The Mermaid'
10. 'Rest Awhile'
11. 'Bottomless Well'
12. 'True Story'
13. 'Sure Hit Songwriters Pen'
14. 'Rosalie's Good Eats Cafe'
Taking it from the top, in 1973, Bare commissioned Silverstein to write the songs for a concept album of story songs. The album was a great one and (to my mind) clearly showcases the fact that Bare was probably the greatest interpreter of Silverstein songs next to Dr. Hook.
As for the album itself, well, Bare has always been able to project the feel of a culture that I personally grew up in and miss terribly. So to hear him sing these songs back from the day here, and listen to the words as they peel away 60 years, whilst I get to see, hear, feel, and even taste the total experience of my youth, it just doesn't get any better than that.
'Rosalies Good Eats Cafe' was in every little cow town, railroad town and truck stop of my Wyoming growing up and I still cannot listen to 'Daddy What If' (featuring young Bobby, Jr. making his debut) without a tear coming to my eye.
Add to that 'Paul,' a tale about Paul Bunyan's sexual appetite (!) and it truly is a quite marvelous collection of real country - not "new country" - songs that, and without a lot of added "twang", resonates with me today as much as it did back then.
Bare's in great form throughout, spinning yarns with a smile and a hint that there's some truth to be found amid the fanciful stories. Silverstein found other singers to connect with his material, but never anyone who connected so fully, or for so long, as Bare.
Hard Time Hungrys plus
1. 'Hard Time Hungrys'
2. '(Taxes On) The Farmer Feeds Us All'
4. 'Two For A Dollar'
5. 'Back Home In Huntsville Again'
6. 'Daddy's Been Around The House Too Long'
7. 'Warm And Free'
8. 'Able-Bodied Man'
9. '$100,000 In Pennies'
10. 'Bottles And Boxes'
11. 'Truck Driver, Truck Driver'
12. 'The Unemployment Line'
13. 'Too Much Blues'
14. 'Things To Sell'
15. 'Door To Door'
16. 'Poor Blues'
16. 'It's Good To Know The Sun's Still Shinin' Somewhere'
17. 'Lead Me Back Home'
Now, fair warning, this album will bring a tear to your eye, especially with 'Two For A Dollar,' which paints the picture of the dispersal of treasured family furniture and effects through the impersonal reality of an auction sale.
It takes you into the hard world of prison with 'Back Home In Huntsville Again' and shows the family dislocation caused when 'Daddy's Been Around The House Too Long'.
Bit it will also have you smiling with 'Warm and Free' as we learn how to make the best of an opportunity. '$100,000 In Pennies' teaches us with a smile that even a successful crime can have problems whereas 'Bottles And Boxes (contributed by Roger Murrah) is a classic in the vein of 'Streets of London'.
Originally culminating on the 'Unemployment Line,' it takes true genius to use a single subject to evoke a range of emotions. This album achieves this eloquently and, furthermore, when you've listened to it a few times, you will soon realize that you have laughed, cried and loved - all based on the fact that for some, life is hard or just plain unfair.
But it is done so well that that you will feel lifted by the experience of hearing it, and, if you have a soul, a lot closer to those people in society who are doing it the hard way.
This was the album that introduced me to Silverstein and Bare and from the very off, it was a massive revelation for me. If you have any poetry in your soul, you must hear it!
Singin' In The Kitchen plus
1. 'Singin' In The Kitchen'
2. 'The Monkey And The Elephant'
3. 'Lovin' You Anyway'
4. 'Where'd I Come From'
5. 'Ricky Ticky Song'
6. 'The Giving Tree'
7. 'You Are'
8. 'The Unicorn'
9. 'Cloudy Sky'
10. 'She Thinks I Can'
11. 'Scarlet Ribbons'
12. 'See That Bluebird'
13. 'Sylvia's Mother'
14. 'You Know Who'
15. 'Staying Here With Me'
16. 'The Wheel'
17. 'Love And Flowers'
18. 'The Stranger'
20. 'Bald Headed Woman'
21. 'Baby Wants To Boogie'
22. 'Brian Hennessey'
23. 'Climbin' The Ladder And Climbin' The Walls'
24. 'Yes, Mr. Rodgers'
I mean, what more could you want - as a devoted Bobby Bare musical follower - than an album showcasing Bare and his family singing and enjoying themselves, quite literally, "in the kitchen"? [OK, for the record, Bare's loose, live-in-the-studio vibe makes the listener believe that they're really hearing the Bare family singing around the kitchen table!].
Bare's voice (from 1974) is mellow, often funny and always moving and we gleefully listen along. And as we laugh at 'The Unicorn' (a classic Irish Rovers song), we imagine our own kitchen with 'Where'd I Come From' and be utterly moved by the good, honest and openly symbolic song 'The Giving Tree.'
Bare's wife, Jeannie, is a competent vocalist, and Bare brings a measure of solid professionalism to the effort by performing a couple of songs solo, reinforcing the fact that this really is such a cute album.
This concept kids album is all Siverstein songs (bar two) and is a prime example of a supreme wordsmith and an absolute joy to listen to from start to finish, of course.
Simply put, when you're feeling down, this is the album to play!
Stray Bare Tracks
1. 'Sweet Larraine'
2. 'Lemme Be Something'
4. 'Make It Pretty For Me Baby'
6. 'It Ain't Easy'
7. 'February Snow'
8. 'Sing For The Song'
9. 'From The Jungle To The Zoo'
10. 'Too Many Nights Alone'
11. 'Greasy Grit Gravy'
12. 'They Held Me Down'
13. 'This Guitar Is For Sale'
14. 'There's An 18 Wheeler In Front Of The Ritz Hotel'
15. 'More Like The Movies'
16. 'Hattie Halle And Big Dupree'
Bare recorded songs by other writers during the latter half of the 1970s—1977, which brought 'Me And McDill,' a salute to Bob McDill — but he still found a way to fit Silverstein songs onto his other concept albums (1975’s Cowboys and Daddys) and kept him by his side when he took a stab at crossover success with Bare, his 1978 debut for Columbia.
This quite magnificent Box-Set collects these tunes, as well as several unreleased cuts, as a pair of 'Stray Bare Tracks' discs, collections that have more in common with the middle-aged crazies of Down & Dirty and Drunk & Crazy than the redneck hippie dreamer of Lullabys, Legends and Lies.
The contrast between these two phases is startling. The first three records are intimate and sweet, sometimes hinting at earthier concerns, but their good intentions triumph over their devilish instincts.
That’s not the case with the rest of the material on the box. Once Bare and Silverstein grew comfortable with each other, they indulged in each other’s strengths and excesses as only a pair of close friends can.
Appropriately, as the pair’s familiarity increased, the music turned bolder, even burly, with the productions accumulating some slick period flair.
Bare’s records wound up pitched halfway between swaggering outlaw and smooth Urban Cowboy country-pop crossover, a transition that suited Silverstein’s narrowing of vision.
Of the unheard tracks on this first disc, the stand out, for me, is '18 Wheeler Parked at the Ritz Hotel,' which offers a vivid snapshot of Silverstein's way with words.
"This song is a great example of Shel [Silverstein] being such a visual writer," Bare says. "Most of his songs were like movies to me. That's why I recorded so many of them. I never saw them as poems; they were like watching a movie. I could see faces on all the characters. They were that clear to me."
Bare tells motion picture-quality stories, too, when explaining the song's title and its creation.
"The Ritz hotel was based on a Holiday Inn in Nashville," Bare says. "It's not there anymore, and it wasn't one of their fancier properties. Both Shel and I had stayed there. When I was 28 I had my tonsils out and I actually recovered at this 'Ritz Hotel'.
"I remember the recording session pretty well," he continues. "There were a lot of pretty girls there. Pretty girls in Nashville are usually aspiring singers, so we put them to work and got them to sing on the session. I doubt they expected that to happen when they came by to watch."
More Stray Bare Tracks
1. 'Nobody Wants To Go Home'
2. 'Childhood Hero'
3. 'A Week On The Town (Gone As A Goose)'
4. 'Yard Full Of Rusty Cars'
5. 'When She Cries'
6. 'Cold Day In Hell'
7. 'So Good To So Bad'
8. 'The Diet Song' (Version 1)
9. 'When Hippies Get Older'
10. 'Jennifer Johnson And Me'
11. 'Me And Jimmie Rodgers'
12. 'You Jumped Off The Gravy Train'
14. 'Drinkin' From The Bottle'
15. 'Someplace To Come When It Rains'
16. 'Stacy Brown Got Two'
17. 'The Jogger'
18. 'Three-Legged Man'
19. 'Rodeo Queen'
20. 'The Diet Song' (Version 2)
Where he once devoted himself to myths and finding the mysteries in everyday lives, he now busied himself with mundanities of modern life: telling dirty jokes, sucking on a glass of wine at TGI Fridays, and cursing diets.
He still could summon some genuine pathos—as late as 1983, Bare cut the hard barroom weeper 'Drinkin’ from the Bottle' — but these '(More) Stray Tracks' also show how Silverstein sometimes like to push Bare right up to the edge and the singer happily went along.
With its chorus of “Does anybody here want to f**k or fight,” the title track off 'Great American Saturday Night' itself is testament to this fact!
The Complete Great American Saturday Night
1. 'Great American Saturday Night'
2. 'Red-Neck Hippie Romance'
3. 'Kids Today'
4. 'Dirty Ol' Me'
5. 'The Diet Song'
6. 'Paintin' Her Fingernails'
7. 'Goodnight Little Houseplant'
8. 'I Can't Sleep'
9. 'The Living Legend'
10. 'They Won't Let Us Show It At The Beach'
11. 'The Day All The Yes Men Said No'
13. 'Whiplash Will'
14. 'Me And Jimmie Rodgers'
15. 'Someone To Talk To'
16. 'Great American Saturday Night'
As I'm sure you all know by now, weirdly, this album was not supposed to see the light of day because at the time Bobby was leaving RCA for Columbia records and so RCA just kept it stored in their vault until now.
That said, RCA did release a 45 single of the track 'Redneck Hippie Romance,' but that aside, this is another of his concept albums recorded in 1978 about the happenings on any given Saturday Night.
This long-unheard album now includes three songs missing from a recent independent label release (including the excellent 'They Held Me Down') and highlights a man in mighty fine vocal and lyrical form.
Much in the same humorous vein as Bare and Silverstein's other collaborations, but with a little more salty language than what we've heard before, the tracks contain audience applauding/cheering - albeit all having been recorded in a studio.
With an overall sound a bit more raw and not as polished as a studio album, to my ear it's highly reminiscent of Bare's live 'Down and Dirty' album released a couple years later.
Track highlights include 'Redneck Hippie Romance,' 'The Diet,' 'The Living Legend,' 'They Won't Let Us Show It At The Beach,' and the classic 'Me and Jimmie Rodgers.'
Down & Dirty
1. 'Good For Nothing Blues (Funky Water)'
3. 'Some Days Are Diamonds'
4. 'Tequila Sheila'
5. 'Rock Star's Lament'
6. 'Crazy Again'
7. 'Tecumseh Valley'
8. 'Blind Willie Harper'
9. 'Rough On The Living'
10. 'Down To My Last Come And Get Me'
11. 'Quaaludes Again'
12. 'Goin' Back To Texas'
13. 'I Can't Watch The Movie Anymore'
One of the greatest live recordings ever made, by 1979, Bare had been recording for 25 years, yet when he strapped on a Fender Telecaster and recorded live in the studio a rough and rowdy album with a bunch of Nashville's finest musicians, he was set to hit new highs in an illustrious career.
Down & Dirty is both a glorious last hurrah for the "outlaw movement and a touchstone for the "new country" of bands in the spotlight at that time, such as Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson etc.
Bare's band rocks and rolls, swings and strolls through 13 tracks from a rejuvenated Bare. The humor is in large supply, the poignancy is everywhere, but it's the tune selection that makes this is such a killer record.
For every outrageous Silverstein song ('Numbers,' 'Qualudes Again') there is a tender, sensitive or just plain poetic masterpiece. In the words of Bill Graham, "Bobby Bare is the Bruce Springsteen of country music".
Stand outs include, 'Tecumseh Valley,' written by the legend himself, Townes Van Zandt, 'I Can't Watch The Movie Anymore' written by Jerry Foster and Bill Rice, 'Some Days are Diamonds (Some Days Are Gold)' written by another great, Dick Fellar, both 'Rock Stars Lament' written by Fred Koller, and 'Crazy Again' written by Bob McDill.
Drunk & Crazy
1. 'Drunk And Crazy'
2. 'Food Blues'
3. 'The World's Last Truck Drivin' Man'
4. 'I Can Almost See Houston From Here'
5. 'If That Ain't Love'
6. 'Rock And Roll Hotel'
7. 'This Much Rain'
8. 'Song Of The South'
9. 'Appaloosa Rider'
10. 'Bathroom Tissue Paper Letter'
11. 'Willie Jones'
12. 'Gotta Get Rid Of This Band'
13. 'Drinkin' And Druggin' And Watchin' TV'
14. 'Your Credit Card Won't Get You Into Heaven'
15. 'I've Never Gone To Bed With An Ugly Woman'
16. 'Desperados Waiting For A Train'
Now, for the record (no pun intended), this album is most definitely the "darker side" of Bare's comic wit, as they show through in his lyrics quite like never before.
They are not politically correct either, but for those of us who can take a joke and not get your panties in a wad, it's still pretty damn hilarious, sorry!
That said, lyrics like "Baby I'm sorry I done you like that, I called you a name and I gave you a whack, then I spit in your eye and gave your wrist a twist, but if that ain't love what is?" and "I called up the police, swore that you stole my car, then showed some nekid pictures of you down at the bar, then I pointed out the part of me that you used to kiss and if that ain't love what is?" are a wee bit naughty, I fully admit, but again, it's all meant as a joke by family man Bare.
Like I say, if you understand it's a joke and you take it the way it was intended you'll love it, as you would have done all his other work, on and off from Silverstein.
The highlights for me include the Charlie Daniels song 'Willie Jones,' which also features Charlie Daniels singing along with Bare, and his rendition of Bob McDill's 'Song Of The South' too.
The story of how Bare met Silverstein paints an equally rich picture of a fast friendship.
"One night, I think it was in November during the CMA week, there was a big party out at Harlan Howard's house," Bare recalls. "All the big songwriters were there and Shel was there too. I had met him before through Chet [Atkins]."
"So we were talking and I told Shel I wanted to do a concept album but nobody really got the idea. This was on Saturday night. On Monday morning about 10 AM I got a call from Shel saying 'I've got you an album.'"
"I said, 'When can I hear it?,' and he says 'How about this afternoon?,'" Bare adds. "He was calling from Chicago. And he got on a plane and brought the album with him. He had spent the weekend putting the whole thing together, including the title - Lullabys, Legends and Lies."
"I know one of the songs was 'The Winner,' which I thought was the funniest thing I'd ever heard. I went into the studio and we did three or four of the songs and I told him, 'Yeah, Shel, this is going to work.'"
Sadly, Silverstein died from a heart attack on May 10th, 1999. He was 68 years old.
Bare, an Ohio native, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013. His lengthy recording career has included a stint with the Old Dogs, a supergroup which also featured Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings and Mel Tillis.
'Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein plus' (8-CD Deluxe Box Set) Unwrapping Video!
Official 8CD Box-Set Purchase Link
Title - '50 Years Of Jethro Tull' [2CD]
Artist - Martin Barre
For those not in the know, Martin Barre celebrates his own 50th anniversary with Jethro Tull with new double CD set, 50 Years Of Jethro Tull (releasing November 6th, 2020 via Store For Music).
One of the lauded and respected rock guitarists ever to walk the planet, Martin’s dynamic, expressive, explosive guitar playing was paramount to Jethro Tull’s live and recorded sound, starting with his debut on the band’s classic second album, Stand Up (1969), right up to the band’s eventual demise in 2012.
His unique sound and style contributed enormously to the band’s success, which includes numerous Billboard-charting albums, eleven gold and five platinum albums, a Grammy Award for the Crest of a Knave album in 1988, and album sales exceeding 75 million units.
Ergo, 50 Years Of Jethro Tull is a very personal, and revealing collection of both live and studio tracks, carefully chosen by Martin Barre himself, and one that he himself feels illustrates and illuminates his work with Tull over an incredible half century.
It also includes four (4) previously-unreleased bonus tracks from the upcoming live DVD recorded at The Wildey Theatre, Illinois, in May 2019.
The first disc features Martin and his band doing live in-studio electric performances of Jethro Tull songs - both classic tracks and deep album cuts from Tull’s earlier day (with new arrangements with Martin and his band putting their own stamp on these amazing songs).
The second disc features Martin and his band doing their own new versions of primarily classic acoustic songs from various periods of Tull’s legendary catalog.
1. 'My Sunday Feeling'
2. 'For a Thousand Mothers'
3. 'Hymn 43'
4. 'Love Story'
6. 'Song for Jeffrey'
7. 'Back to the Family'
8. 'Nothing to Say'
9. 'Hunting Girl'
11. 'Steel Monkey'
12. 'Nothing is Easy'
13. 'New Day Yesterday'
The first disc contains the Live at Factory Underground set, although the "live" aspect isn't a concert setting, moreover the set was recorded "live" in a studio.
Here Barre is joined by Dan Crisp on vocals/guitar, Alan Thomson on bass/vocals and drummer Darby Todd and together they combine to form a very tight ensemble. One that brings to the fore such musical brilliance as a lovely selection of deep Tull cuts.
Such as a gently reworked rendition of 'Back To The Family,' the whirlwind ambiance of 'Steel Monkey,' and my own personal favorite, the time-defying 'Sealion.'
1. 'Wond'ring Aloud'
2. 'Someday the Sun Won't Shine'
3. 'Life is a Long Song'
4. 'Cheap day Return'
5. 'Under Wraps'
6. 'One White Duck'
7. 'Still Loving you Tonight'
8. 'The Waking Edge'
10. 'Locomotive Breath'
11. 'Slow Marching Band'
12. 'Warchild' (Bonus)
13. 'Bungle in the Jungle' (Bonus)
14. 'Heavy Horses' (Bonus)
15. 'Songs from the Wood' (Bonus)
However, that all said, the second disc is where you'll find the meat and potatoes of this Tull extravaganza. Simply put, it is an acoustic set which allows Barre and company to breathe new life into old classics.
By adding female vocalists Alex Hart and Becca Langsford, their orchestrated underlay to the tracks brings forth a resoundingly layered mood which reinvigorates each track for 2020.
My goodness, they sound bloody fantastic and truly allow for a whole new life to now live and breathe through each newly-created perspective of these beautifully arranged old school tracks.
"However you look at it, 50 years is a sizable chunk of time, to say the least," Barre explains, "and December 1968 was spent furiously rehearsing the music that would become the album Stand Up."
"We were locked in a grotty basement club in Soho, London and on a diet of hot tea and cheese and tomato sandwiches, we four musicians aka Jethro Tull, got to know each other a little better and finally testing the water, went on tour to debut the new music."
"At first the blues fans that traditionally followed Tull, weren't at all sure of the change but, slowly they got caught up in the beginnings of something they realized was very different and possibly very special."
"From 1969 onwards, we toured Europe, Scandinavia, the UK, USA and onwards to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, as well as every territory that welcomed western rock music and especially those who invited Jethro Tull."
"Many times, we were the first rock band into a country, as we always looked for new experiences and unknown areas to explore with new fans to be won !!! It was an incredibly rewarding time."
"We were young and hungry for music. We were full of energy and determination."
"Every year saw new albums, changes in musical direction and bigger and better shows. To highlight any one show or any particular album does an injustice to the others."
"We were riding the crest of a wave and finally we were rewarded a Grammy for all this immense body of work and commitment."
"Sadly in 2011, Ian took the decision to disband Tull and concentrate on his solo career. So, after a period of writing new music and careful planning, I returned to the road, touring and recording with the same vigor and belief that we had all shown in the early years."
"My respect and love of Tull's musical heritage has inspired me to keep alive our huge repertoire, but without turning my back on my love of writing my own music."
"Personally, I'm looking forward to year 51 and beyond!"
Martin Barre @ Facebook
Jethro Tull's Martin Barre Band @ Butlins Great British Rock & Blues 2015
Jethro Tull - 'My Sunday Feeling,' Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival, 1970