Title - 'Note to Self'
Artist - Jah9
For those not in the know, Jah9 (Janine Elizabeth Cunningham) was born in Montego Bay in Saint James, Jamaica. Her father was a Baptist minister and her mother was a teacher and social worker.
She spent much of her childhood in Falmouth, Trelawny and in 1991 the family moved to Kingston. After a period at the university she commenced realizing her musical passion - which has often been described as "jazz on dub", because her singing voice is influenced by Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, partly combined with the dancehall sound of Sizzla and the more potent dub rhythms similar to those of Augustus Pablo.
In 2013 her first album New Name appeared which was followed by the "self-titled" 9 (2016) and then a year later Mad Professor Meets Jah9 in the Midst of the Storm (2017).
And come March 13th, 2020, Jah9 returns with the highly-anticipated Note To Self (via VP Records).
The culmination of more than two years of touring and recording, a true voice of the reggae renaissance, Jah9 is a powerful writer and inspiring performer primed to take her spot at center stage in the genre.
The album blends productions from reggae veteran Clive Hunt with appearances from Pressure and Chronixx and presents a spectrum styles and perspectives.
1. 'Heaven (Ready Fi Di Feeling)'
2. 'Ma'at (Each Man)'
4. 'Note To Self (Okay)' (Feat. Chronixx)
5. 'Field Trip'
6. 'Never Race (A Way)' (Feat. Akala)
7. 'Hey You'
8. 'Highly (Get To Me)'
9. 'Feel Good "The Pinch"'
10. 'Love Has Found I'
11. 'You And I' (Feat. Pressure Busspipe)
12. 'Ready To Play' (Feat. Tarrus Riley)
13. 'The Reflection'
14. 'Could It Be'
15. 'In The Beginning'
Wow, this album is simply INCREDIBLE! Refreshing, invigorating and as present in the here and now as anything that I've come across in a long time.
It opens with the dub spirit of Jah9's powerful femiNINE energy on 'Heaven (Ready Fi Di Feeling),' and backs that up with the dancehall hipsway of 'Ma'at (Each Man)' and then the short spoken word, dedication of mind and space coming together to aid the self within 'Mindstorm.'
With its gentle head bounce and foot-tap beats, the title track 'Note To Self (Okay)' featuring Chronixx is one of the obvious stand out highlights here and that's followed by the Caribbean pop rock vibe of 'Field Trip.'
Next up is the uplifting 'New Race (A Way)' featuring British rapper and poet Akala, which is backed by the laid back, yet welcomingly perky tones of 'Hey You,' and then another absolute gem in the luscious R&B mid-tempo 'Highly (Get To Me).'
Jah9's chrysalis of dub poetry sparks positive thoughts of our own bodies within 'Feel Good "The Pinch"' and referencing the King once more, Jah9 then glides into the rhythmic beauty of 'Love Has Found I.'
Jah9's sophomore album with VP Record's continues onward with the old school, free flowing magnificence of 'Love Has Found I,' then comes the one-two sway of 'You And I' (featuring Pressure Busspipe).
The album then rounds out with the lavish 'Ready To Play' (featuring Jamaican-American reggae singer and member of the Rastafari movement, Tarrus Riley), the spoken word contemplation of 'The Reflection,' and then comes to a close with the R&B pop sway of 'Could It Be' and another short spoken word moment, one embodying her faith, entitled 'In The Beginning.'
Official 'Note to Self' CD Purchase Link
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Title - '20/20'
Artist - The Walk-A-Bout
For those not in the know, Aussie-American acoustically driven rock ‘n’ roll quintet The Walk-A-Bout hail from the artistic East End of Long Island, New York.
On the back of their well-received 2018 release, Things Are Looking Up, The Walk-A-Bout (Darren “Sully” Sullivan, Kevin Anderson, Drew Bertran, and Dave Christian), and who are also joined here by bass player Keenan Zach for the writing and recording, will soon be releasing their brand new album, 20/20 come June 5th, 2020.
Featuring ten wondrous new tracks that lovingly embrace such different musical styles as funk, rock, world, latin, folk, prog and even a dash of psychedelia, whilst maintaining a pop sensibility within each song structure, the album was produced by Andrew Michael Bertrand and mastered by Roger Lian.
1. 'Victory Parade'
2. 'Date Nut Porridge'
3. 'Tale Of The Vibe Rider'
5. 'I Am'
6. 'Get Me To The Station'
7. 'Dark Roads'
9. 'Trash Talkin'
10. 'Taking It West'
This visceral, emotional, fun, and socially conscious new collection kicks things off nicely with the first single released, the mid-tempo, guitar funk of 'Victory Parade,' and backs that up with en masse of multi-genre cavorts, all seamlessly enriched with a manifold of musical styles.
As noted, the lyrical subject matter is just as varied as the musical stylings, moving from such ideas as social consciousness, introspection, love/infatuation, triumph exploratory notions, to even the lyrical sounds of the native Australian instrument the didgeridoo.
Indeed, this is a record written by the band for the people. There is quite literally something on this album for everyone.
Another extremely noteworthy factor is the sound. The album was solely on 2 inch analog tape, which gives it a strong sense of harmonic unity amongst all of the instruments.
This wonderful fidelity truly displays the strong continuity between each song, thus making for a most enjoyable listen.
In closing, this sonic journey is The Walk-A-Bout! Am honest album of profound art rock and a release destined to be a classic, as they say.
Official Pre-Order Purchase Links
Title - 'Wooden Cave'
Artist - Thin Lear
For those not in the know, Queens-based songwriter Matt Longo (aka Thin Lear) has always been drawn to the stories of forgotten eccentrics, but never haunted by their subjects.
And yet, upon the reading of 1920's occultist Netta Fornario, and her misunderstood demise on a tiny island off of Scotland, he unearthed the inspiration for a surreal and ethereal collection of songs, the upcoming new album Wooden Cave (July 24th, 2020, via Egghunt Records).
Pulling influence from the insular world of Astral Weeks, the melodic adventurousness of Harry Nilsson, and the eclecticism of Shuggie Otis, Thin Lear creates songs existing on a sonic and lyrical island of their own.
Indeed, Wooden Cave, written for outsiders like Netta, radiates with a sonic glow that harkens back to '70's-era studio obsessives, familiar and surprising in equal measure, like a face from a dream.
2. 'Wooden Cave'
3. 'A Simple Phrase'
4. 'The Guesthouse'
5. 'Death in a Field'
6. 'I Thought I Was Alone'
8. 'Different Tune'
9. 'Behold You Now'
10. '93 Heap'
11. 'Your Family'
This quite magnificent, effervescent album of earnest, genuine musical melodies and orchestrated quality, opens with the yearning embrace of 'Netta,' which is backed by the soulful grappling of the title track, before bringing us both the nakedly raw ambition of 'A Simple Phrase' and the drum led, foot-tappin' rhythms of 'The Guesthouse.'
Next up is the melodic, Americana ambiance of 'Death in a Field' which is backed seamlessly by the earnest 'I Thought I Was Alone' and then comes my own personal favorite on this album, the upbeat, summer's day, '70s carriage train ride of 'Maniacs.'
The album then rounds out with the beautifully soulful ebb and flow of 'Different Tune,' another gentle foot-tapper in the form of 'Behold You Now,' the at-times gravely sober, yet rising throughout '93 Heap,' before the hungering ballad 'Your Family' brings this quite wondrous album of, at times ornate, at others psychedelically-tinged melodic folk to a close.
Official Pre-Order Purchase Links
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Title - 'Secrets Are The Best Stories'
Artist - Kurt Elling
For those not in the know, Secrets Are The Best Stories (released April 3rd, 2020) is the new album from acclaimed vocalist and Grammy-winning artist Kurt Elling.
Featuring renowned pianist Danilo Pérez, and released on the British label, Edition Records, this cohesively vibrant and alluring new album showcases the two maestros as they enhance and lift the dual works.
Ergo, this wondrous collaboration not only marks a vital new musical gem between two of the greats within music, but is an album that confirms Kurt Elling as the male vocalist of his generation – one who has the presence, the message and the artistic vision to stand out from the rest.
1. 'The Fanfold Hawk (for Franz Wright)' (2.44)
2. 'A Certain Continuum' (5.06)
3. 'Stays' (5.28)
4. 'Gratitude (for Robert Bly)' (6.21)
5. 'Stage I' (5.05)
6. 'Beloved (for Toni Morrison)' (9.32)
7. 'Stages II, III' (4.26)
8. 'Song Of The Rio Grande (for Oscar and Valeria Martinez-Ramirez)' (4.56)
9. 'Rabo de Nube' (3.20)
10. 'Esperanto' (5.01)
11. 'Epílogo' (1.33)
Here, on what is now easily one of my own personal Top 5 albums of the year thus far, Elling adds evocative new lyrics to compositions by greats like Pérez’s iconic collaborator Wayne Shorter, late fusion bass genius Jaco Pastorius, and visionary composer/arranger Vince Mendoza, and to pieces from Pérez’s own catalogue.
Along with his own compelling narratives, Elling adapts the works of contemporary poets Franz Wright and Robert Bly, the 19th century abolitionist poet Frances E.W. Harper and Nobel-winning author Toni Morrison.
Opening with the dulcet majesty of 'The Fanfold Hawk (For Franz Wright),' they back that up seamlessly with the beautiful percussion of 'A Certain Continuum,' the late night jazz club feel of 'Stays,' and then both the evoking 'Gratitude (For Robert Bly)' and the stoic recalling of 'Stage I.'
Next up is the truly beautiful 'Beloved (For Toni Morrison)' (complete with a super lush sax solo), which is followed by 'Stages II, III' and the playful 'Song of the Rio Grande (For Oscar and Valeria Martinez-Ramirez).'
This quite magnificent album then rounds out with the Spanish-sung 'Rabo de Nube,' the gentle hipsway of 'Esperanto,' and then rounds out with the short piano work of 'Epílogo.'
To help them amplify this musical outcry, Elling and Pérez gather together a remarkable ensemble. The core of the band is formed by the singer’s longtime bassist Clark Sommers, in-demand drummer Johnathan Blake and Brazilian percussion master Rogerio Boccato.
They’re joined by a retinue of stellar special guests, including alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, guitarist Chico Pinheiro, and Román Díaz, a revered elder statesman of Cuban percussion.
Kurt Elling: Voice
Danilo Pérez: Piano, Rhodes
Clark Sommers: Bass
Johnathan Blake: Drums
Rogerio Boccato: Percussion
Román Díaz: Percussion (Track 2)
Miguel Zenón: Alto Saxophone
Chico Pinheiro: Guitar
Amazon CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Siren Songs'
Artist - Siren Songs
For those not in the know, Siren Songs is the brand-new musical collaboration between Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels and they have just released their very first album, the eponymous Siren Songs, on May 29th, 2020.
Featuring powerhouse vocalists, musicians, and national touring artists, the longtime best friends showcase gorgeous harmonies and unique arrangements performed on a variety of stringed instruments (banjo, dulcimer, viola) here on the quite breathtaking Siren Songs.
1. 'Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon'
5. 'Chelsea Morning'
7. 'Angel From Montgomery'
8. 'For Good'
9. 'Time After Time'
The album opens with the lush, ornate American beauty of 'Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon' which they back seamlessly with a banjo-inspired cover of Dolly Parton’s classic 'Jolene.' [The song was selected by Parton herself and Netflix as their favorite rendition during the #JoleneChallenge].
That's followed by the well known lullaby for a white flower found high in the Austrian Alps, and which was also the inspiration for the Waltz, a wonderfully gentle, dulcet rendition of 'Edelweiss.'
The balladeering harmonies of the acoustic guitar-led '100' is one of my own personal favorites here, and then the tempo is stoked up for the foot-tappin' Joni Mitchell track 'Chelsea Morning.'
Next comes the affable elegance of the alluring 'Gray,' another banjo-inspired rendition, this time of John Prine's 'Angel From Montgomery,' and then this delightfully perfect album rounds out with a delicate rendition of 'For Good' (from 'Wicked'), and then a stirringly ambient cover of the timeless Cyndi Lauper ballad, 'Time After Time' closes the album.
Featuring a mix of both original songs written by Grinels ('Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon,' '100,' and 'Gray'), as well as a selection of folk and Americana favorites, Siren Songs is already one of my Top 10 albums of 2020!
Siren Songs @ Facebook
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Siren Songs @ YouTube
Title - 'Create My Own World'
Artist - Greg Lato
For those not in the know, award-winning pop musician and songwriter Greg Lato adds to his impressive body of work with the July 24th, 2020 release of his first children’s album, Create My Own World, featuring two-time Grammy winning children’s entertainer Bill Harley as special guest.
Create My Own World presents a fun and inspiring soundscape in these challenging times through music as relatable to kids as it is nostalgic for parents.
The album is influenced by '70s and '80s pop artists like Hall & Oates, Phil Collins, Todd Rundgren, and The Cars, with a taste of Lenny Kravitz and the Rolling Stones thrown in for good measure.
With its songs about imagination, creativity, exploration, kindness, and family, Create My Own World helps kids look beyond a life of quarantine and distance learning to a future when they will truly be able to create their world anew.
1. 'I Like Sprinkles'
2. 'Imaginary Friend'
3. 'Hi Gene'
4. 'I Can't Find My Sock!'
5. 'Snow Day'
6. 'Create My Own World'
8. 'Exploring Nature'
9. 'Two Slow Snails'
10. 'Share My Stuff'
11. 'You Weren't A Kid, You're A Dad!'
12. 'What Daddies Do (I Will Be With You)'
This vibrantly colorful album opens with the EDM pop-bounce of 'I Like Sprinkles' and backs that up with the spoken word storytelling of 'Imaginary Friend,' and then the masterful drum and synth vibe of 'Hi Gene' (a story about keeping up our levels of hygiene).
The euphoric alt-rock of the absent-minded 'I Can't Find My Sock!' is a foot-tappin' beauty and is followed by another spoken word track, 'Snow Day.'
Next up is the youthful, day dreaming exuberance of the title track and that is backed by a rich, lush reggae back beat on the uplifting 'Try' (which was written to accompany Lato’s sing-along children’s book of the same title).
Another spoken word track is up next in the form of the call to step away from all our technology, 'Exploring Nature' which Lato follows with the folk Americana of the confidence parable 'Two Slow Snails' (featuring Bill Harley), and then the upbeat pop rock of 'Share My Stuff.'
The album then rounds out with the spoken word tale of parental growth within 'You Weren't A Kid, You're A Dad!' before coming to a close with the heartwarming 'What Daddies Do (I Will Be With You).'
Greg Lato @ Facebook
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Title - 'The Trojan Albums Collection' [2CD]
Artist - Prince Far I
For those not in the know, by the time Michael Williams aka the late Prince Far I (sadly, he was murdered the September 15th, 1983) became established as a recording artist in the mid-Seventies, he was in fact already a veteran of the Jamaican music scene, having begun deejaying early the previous decade.
His deep, slow and deliberate delivery, allied to his consistently hard-hitting commentaries proved popular with reggae fans around the world, most notably in the UK, where his work strongly resonated with the punk generation.
In 1979, Far I signed with Trojan Records, cutting a quartet of vocal albums for the company over a four-year period, but in September 1983, soon after the release of his “Musical History” LP, he was senselessly murdered while visiting a friend in Portmore, Jamaica.
This brand new 2CD set entitled The Trojan Albums Collection (releasing May 15th, 2020 via Cherry Red Records UK) brings together the entirety of the influential DJ’s vocal recordings for Trojan, which is today widely regarded to be his finest work.
CD 1: From Sin
1. 'Free from Sin'
2. 'When Jah Ready You Got to Move'
3. 'Call on I in Trouble'
4. 'Don't Deal with Folly'
5. 'Light of Fire'
6. 'Reggae Music'
7. 'Go Home on the Morning Train'
9. 'I and I Are the Chosen One'
CD 1: Jamaican Heroes
10. 'Deck of Life'
11. 'The Vision'
12. 'Natty Champion'
13. 'Read a Chapter'
14. 'Golden Throne'
15. 'Jamaican Heroes'
16. 'Prison Discipline'
17. 'Musical History'
18. 'Jah Will Provide'
19. 'David' [Bonus Track]
Featuring three of the original albums that are now making their CD debut, one of the most iconic and influential Jamaican artists of all time kicks things off with the Free Of Sin (1979) album, and in particular, the natty dread of the title track backed by the one-two hipsway of 'When Jah Ready You Got to Move' and 'Call on I in Trouble.'
Produced by Prince Far I and engineered by Sylvan Morris and Errol Brown, next up is the drum-led 'Don't Deal with Folly' which is followed by the rhythmic beauty of both 'Light of Fire' and 'Reggae Music.'
This particular album then rounds out with the dutiful 'Go Home on the Morning Train' (recorded for "the King"), 'Siren,' and then comes to a close on the storytelling of 'I and I Are the Chosen One.'
Next up on the first disc is the Jamaican Heroes (1980) album, which opens with the reverberating 'Deck of Life' and backs that up seamlessly with both the measured vibe of 'The Vision,' and the natty dread, boxing-inspired 'Natty Champion.'
'Read a Chapter' is then followed by the slo-mo fuzz of 'Golden Throne,' the upbeat effervescence of the title track, and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the foot-tappin' reggae elegance of 'Prison Discipline.'
This tremendously melodic and highly empowered album (whose featured musicians included Roots Radics and The Flying Lizards) then rounds out with the uptempo 'Musical History,' the low-slung 'Jah Will Provide,' and closes on a bonus track that Prince Far I actually himself calls 'Dub Do Africa,' but on this new CD is entitled 'David.'
CD 2: Voice Of Thunder
1. 'Ten Commandments'
2. 'Tribute to Bob Marley'
3. 'Hold the Fort'
4. 'Every Time I Hear the Word'
5. 'Head of the Buccaneer'
6. 'Shall Not Dwell in Wickedness'
7. 'Give I Strength'
8. 'Kingdom of God'
9. 'Coming in from the Rock'
CD 2: Musical History
11. 'Everytime I Talk About Jah'
12. 'Prince Far I Come Again'
13. 'Tell Them About Jah Love'
14. 'More We Are Together'
15. 'At the Cross'
16. 'Working for My Saviour'
17. 'I Don't Know Why I Love Jah So'
18. 'What You Gonna Do on Judgement Day'
19. 'Take Heed Frontline'
The second disc opens with his brilliant Voice Of Thunder (1981) album, and notably the biblical reggae of 'Ten Commandments' which is smoothly backed by both the magnificent 'Tribute to Bob Marley' and then the melodic twinkling of 'Hold the Fort.'
Next up is the atmospheric 'Every Time I Hear the Word,' the rhymical hipsway of 'Head of the Buccaneer' and the dancefloor track 'Shall Not Dwell in Wickedness,' with another stand out being the horn-inspired 'Give I Strength' following.
This album then rounds out with reverberation of 'Kingdom of God,' the guitar-led 'Coming in from the Rock,' and closes on the majestically lo-fi 'Skinhead.'
The second album on the second disc (which was also released the year of his death) is Musical History (1983), which opens with the bounce-an-sway of both 'Everytime I Talk About Jah' and 'Prince Far I Come Again,' the storytelling of 'Tell Them About Jah Love,' and then the low brow reggae of both 'More We Are Together' and 'At the Cross.'
Then we get another passionate track in the form of the earnest 'Working for My Saviour,' more Prince Far I storytelling within 'I Don't Know Why I Love Jah So,' with the album rounding out on the gentle bounce of 'What You Gonna Do on Judgement Day,' and then coming to a close on the sermon known as 'Take Heed Frontline.'
Official 2CD Purchase Link
Title - 'More Trouble' [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Marvin Gaye
For those not in the know, More Trouble is a collection of bonus tracks and alternate takes from Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man sessions, and taken from the Trouble Man: 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition.
Released on April 3rd, 2020 (via Motown Select / UMe), and all now on vinyl for the very first time, the soundtrack to the 1972 Ivan Dixon-directed film of the same name, Trouble Man was the first album to be written and produced solely by Gaye.
This wondrous 9-track More Trouble (released as a delightful gatefold jacket that, in keeping with albums theme, is an alternate to the iconic one on the original soundtrack) collects tracks from Trouble Man’s recording sessions, including an unedited version of ‘“T” Plays It Cool’ and an extended version of the titular song.
1. 'Main Theme From Trouble Man' (2) (Alternate Take With Strings)
2. '“T” Plays It Cool' (Unedited)
3. 'Poor Abbey Walsh, Part 2' (Take 1)
4. 'Trouble Man' (Extended Version)
5. 'Theme From Trouble Man' (Vocal Version)
1. 'Main Theme From Trouble Man' (Vocal Version)
2. '“T” Stands For Trouble' (Unedited Vocal Version)
3. '“T” Stands For Trouble' (Alternate Version)
4. 'Trouble Man – Trouble Man Original Score'
Side A (of this luscious, absolutely magnificent new vinyl release) opens with a gently moderated, yet fervently impatient wailing guitar, which bleeds into the two and a half minute piano, saxophone and drum masterpiece 'Main Theme From Trouble Man' (2) (here as an alternate version with orchestrated strings added), and that's backed by the longer, sterner, drum-led backbeat of the much-sampled '“T” Plays It Cool' (Unedited).
The sumptuous, saxophone-driven 'Poor Abbey Walsh, Part 2' (Take 1) is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold, and is backed by a rousing, and extended version of the title track, with the first side coming to a close with some oh-so sweet horn play that simply melts the soul on the two minute vocal version of 'Theme From Trouble Man' (which was featured in the film’s opening sequence, but not on the soundtrack).
Side B pretty much gives us more of the same, which ain't no bad thing, kicking things off with a vocalized version of 'Main Theme From Trouble Man' before unveiling two versions of '“T” Stands For Trouble' (an unedited, and very rare vocal, and an alternate version).
Culminating the musical experience with a quite magnificent 'Trouble Man – Trouble Man Original Score' (which showcased Gaye's trademark duet of high and low vocals), much like the original soundtrack album, each and every track here is as smooth as silk to the ears.
It's that classic Motown sound from Marvin Gaye, when songwriters had something to say and sang their own songs. For me, not only was Trouble Man one of the more underrated, overlooked and understated soundtracks of the '70s, but it most assuredly captures the great man at his musical peak.
While 1971's What's Going On and 1973's Let's Get It On are regularly acknowledged as Soul masterpieces (let alone name-checked by everyone who is anyone in love with music that genuinely touches you), real Marvin Gaye devotees have always had a rush of blood to the head at the mere sight of 1972's Trouble Man (which Gaye himself rated as some of his best work).
These 1972 outtakes, and which have been stunningly remastered by UMe for vinyl, are the newest celebration of Gaye’s unrivalled legacy and a further illustration of a significant chapter in his discography.
Indeed, all the tracks have been mixed in high resolution audio from Motown’s original 16-track session reels by the famed John Morales, and remastered by Alex Abrash at AA Mastering.
The title track from Trouble Man was one of the album’s few vocal cuts. It became a #7 hit on Billboard‘s Hot 100 in January 1973, reaching #4 on the R&B chart.
The vinyl More Trouble echoes the design of the original album, with an alternative image of Gaye on the gatefold cover.
Additional photography includes scans of the original session tape boxes.
There are also new liner notes by musicologist Dr. Andrew Flory, who wrote the essay for the Trouble Man: 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition gatefold jacket.
A gifted, visionary talent, Gaye tragically died April 1st, 1984, just one day before his 45th birthday. Three years later, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
With More Trouble as proof, Gaye continues to hold his place as one of the greatest singers, composers and producers of all time.
Official 'More Trouble' [Vinyl LP] Purchase Links
Title - 'Once Bitten Acoustic Bytes'
Artist - Jack Russell's Great White
For those not up to date with the goings on of this band, vocalist and co-founder of legendary ‘80s hard rock group Great White, Jack Russell, has just released his brand new, and very special acoustic album, Once bitten Acoustic Bytes (out now via Cleopatra Records).
Revisiting the band’s 1987 multi-platinum masterpiece Once Bitten it features some of their biggest and most recognizable GW hits, such as 'Save Your Love' and 'Rock Me.'
Aided by the likes of guitarist Robby Lochner (who also produced and mixed the album), longtime Great White bassist Tony Montana (now on guitar), bassist Dan McNay and drummer Dicki Fliszer, these songs have been stripped to their emotional core, spotlighting the intensely passionate story at the heart of each song.
1. 'Lady Redlight'
2. 'Gonna Getcha'
3. 'Rock Me'
4. 'All Over Now'
6. 'Never Change Heart'
7. 'Fast Road'
9. 'Save Your Love'
10. 'Babe (I'm Gonna Leave You)'
This quite magnificent, and highly enlightening new album opens with the drum and guitar-led, mid-tempo 'Lady Redlight' (a track that veritably still begs to be unleashed at full pelt!), and backs that up with the early AC/DC-esque 'Gonna Getcha,' and then a rather wondrous lo-fi version of 'Rock Me.'
The upbeat 'All Over Now' is the followed by lowdown rockin' blues of 'Mistreater' (which features some fine, skedaddling fret work from Montana), and that's followed by the mid-tempo 'Never Change Heart.'
Fliszer comes to the fore on the speeding train approach to his acoustic drum rhythm that drives 'Fast Road,' and that's backed by the resoundingly brilliant 'Livin' On The Edge.'
This inventive, and empowering new acoustic album then rounds out with their unforgettable ballad 'Save Your Love,' which is now embodied with an impassioned hymn-like yearning, with the album coming to a close on the heartfelt 'Babe (I'm Gonna Leave You).
Jack Russell explains “Once Bitten is one of my favorite albums that we did. I always wondered what it would sound like done acoustically."
"The experience recording this unplugged version was really neat. It brought back a lot of memories of the original recording session, things I had forgotten about."
"Interestingly, the songs that I thought wouldn’t translate acoustically like ‘Livin’ On The Edge’ and ‘Never Change Heart,’ the heavier songs, came out the best."
"Now, I’m looking forward to doing it again for Twice Shy!”
Once Bitten Acoustic Bytes will be available everywhere starting May 1st, 2020 on digital as well as CD and a limited edition BLUE vinyl LP from Deadline Music, a division of Cleopatra Records, Inc.
Official Purchase Links
Title - 'Have A Good Time But ... Get Out Alive!'
Artist - Iron City Houserockers
For those not in the know, Love's So Tough, the 1979 debut from the Iron City Houserockers, established the Pittsburgh-bred group on a national level, garnering important recognition, most notably from legendary journalist Greil Marcus (Rolling Stone).
The band had created a unique sounding blend of blue collar rock informed by their influences which included a deep love of Chicago blues, early rock and roll and old school soul, all mixed together with dollops of the then-current sounds of punk and new wave added in.
Their second album, 1980's Have A Good Time (But Get Out Alive), found them recording in New York City with an incredible supporting cast.
Cleveland International's Steve Popovich and Marty Mooney tapped Mick Ronson (David Bowie) to co-produce the sessions, with additional input coming from Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) and Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny)."We were a particularly effective concert band at the time We just wanted to kick your ass and tear the place down."
"That's the attitude we had and then you had these guys that joined us who had much more experience recording," he further explains. "They brought a little bit of sophistication to the whole process. You have the English guys and then you had the New Jersey guys and then you has us from Pittsburgh and on paper, it never should have worked. But somehow it did. Everything just fell into place."
Cleveland International Records is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Have A Good Time ... But Get Out Alive! with a new expanded reissue that is available on both CD and Vinyl (bonus tracks available via a download card).
Grushecky worked with his son, Johnny (who also plays guitar in the current version of the band) and his sound engineer, Brian Coleman, to compile a second disc with an additional 16 tracks, all previously unreleased.
It features more than an hour's worth of demos and rarities, including alternate takes and in some cases, songs that didn't make the final running order of the original album, adding an intriguing chapter to the existing legend of the record."We always went into a local studio in Pittsburgh and I would write songs," Grushecky continues. "Some of the guys would bring in some ideas and we would demo everything,"
"Most of the demos, when we were recording them, we weren't setting out to make a final product. So a lot of this stuff is just first and second takes to see what the song sounded like."
Going through reel-to-reel tapes and even some cassettes that had been in boxes for decades, Grushecky found he had an abundance of material.
"At first, I thought we were just going to include a couple of extra tracks on this reissue. Then I started finding all of these different things and I started to get excited about it," he says. "You know, to some people, I'm sure it would be like a great lost Iron City Houserockers record."
1. 'Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive)'
2. 'Don't Let Them Push You Around'
3. 'Pumping Iron'
5. 'Price of Love'
7. 'We're Not Dead Yet'
9. 'Old Man Bar'
10. 'Junior's Bar'
11. 'Runnin' Scared'
12. 'Rock Ola'
Featuring a vibrantly magnificent 12 tracks, this completely rockin' collection from one of the most wholly underrated bands of the day, still stands loud and proud today, trust me!
Featuring some great vocals and lyrics from Joe Gruschecky, the guys open with the drum and guitar-led title track with the harmonica-driven 'Don't Let Them Push You Around' along next.
The one-two guitar bounce of 'Pumping Iron' is then backed by the subtle piano lead into the mid-tempo wonderment of 'Hypnotized,' before the free flowing, high flying majesty of 'Price of Love' is brought forth.
The temperature is turned back up for the Springsteen-esque 'Angela' which is followed by the melodic piano and drum core of 'We're Not Dead Yet.'
This pulsating album continues onward with their salute to Debbie Harry on the fast-paced 'Blondie, the gentle guitar and accordion-driven 'Old Man Bar' (featuring Gil Snyder), and then the Springsteen brand of guitar rock returns for 'Junior's Bar.'
The album then rounds out with the rockin' blues of 'Runnin' Scared' with the low key storytelling of 'Rock Ola' bringing the album to a close.
1. 'Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive)' [Demo]
2. 'Don't Let Them Push You Around' [Demo]
3. 'Pumping Iron' [Demo]
4. 'Don't Stop The Music' [Demo]
5. 'Angela' [Demo]
6. 'Price Of Love' [Demo]
7. 'Hold Out' [Demo]
8. 'Rock Ola' [Demo]
9. 'Struggle & Die' [Demo]
10. 'Rock Ola' [Extended]
12. 'Runnin' Scared'
13. 'Runnin' Scared' #2'
14. 'Hypnotized' (A Work In Progress)
15. 'Rooster Blues'
16. 'Do Wah Diddy'
This most perfect missing link between Springsteen's E Street Band and Petty's Heartbreakers continues bringing the good stuff here on this second disc of musical gems.
First up are lower key demos of 'Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive),' 'Don't Let Them Push You Around' and 'Pumping Iron,' before we get 'Don't Stop The Music,' a totally rockin' blues cut, complete with harmonica backbeat.
Next up are more tentative demos, such as the second take of 'Angela' and 'Price Of Love,' which are backed by both the foot-tappin' 'Hold Out' and a demo of 'Rock Ola.'
The gradual build of musicianship and storytelling of 'Struggle & Die' makes this one of my own personal favorites of these outtakes, and that's followed by an extended version of 'Rock Ola.'
We then get a fervent 'Charlena/Blondie' blend, which is backed by two versions of 'Runnin' Scared,' a chitty-chatty 'Hypnotized' (A Work In Progress) jam, before this second disc closes on the harmonica and guitar brilliance of the Lightnin' Slim track 'Rooster Blues' (which sounds like 9 Below Zero had entered the building), and then an accelerated The Exciters cut (although it was made famous by Manfred Mann), 'Do Wah Diddy'
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Title - 'Stories To Live Up To'
Artist - Harvey Dalton Arnold
For those not in the know, Harvey Dalton Arnold is a singer, guitarist and North Carolina-native who has a passion for the blues.
He sold millions of albums as a member of southern-rock band The Outlaws from 1976-80 and has, amongst oh-so many others around the world, played at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall.
Harvey performs a left-handed finger-picking style coupled with slide playing on electric and acoustic guitars and over the years has received much acclaim for founding and performing with The Harvey Dalton Arnold Blues Band.
Arnolds’s first solo release was the 2013 blues album Outlaw, but here on his sophomore effort, Stories To Live Up To (out now via Music Maker Recordings), the talented musician brings forth a collection of songs and stories that showcase his writing and influences to perfection.
1. 'Stay Here with Me'
2. 'Early Bird'
3. 'What's On Your Mind'
4. 'Poor Boy'
5. 'When The Sun Goes Down'
6. 'Lone Outlaw'
7. 'Gotta See Ya'
8. 'Put Me BaCK'
9. 'Catfish Blues'
The original southern rocker opens his new set (of which six out of the nine vocals were done live) with the upbeat R&B slide of 'Stay Here with Me,' and then backs that up with the guitar-led rocker 'Early Bird,' the down south, slow poke, open G slide guitar work of 'What’s on Your Mind,' and then comes the mid-tempo storytelling ballad 'Poor Boy.'
The dirty blues of 'When the Sun Goes Down' is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold and that's followed by a chance for Arnold's vocal expertise to come to the fore on the rural ode to founding Outlaws member Hughie Thomasson, 'Lone Outlaw.'
The album - which features both bass player Zev Katz, and drummer Charlie Drayton – then rounds out with the old school rockin' of 'Gotta See Ya,' the Johnny Winter-influenced, rock guitar bounce of 'Put Me Back,' before coming to a close on the free flowing rawness of 'Catfish Blues.'
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Title - 'XX'
Artist - Brian Culbertson
Instead of being on stage in Pittsburgh, one week into a planned 70+ date coast-to-coast concert tour set up to launch his milestone twentieth album release, the aptly titled XX (Roman numerals for twenty), R&B/jazz/funk multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson was at home, marking the occasion by hanging out with a glass of wine and entertaining fans via his popular Facebook Live broadcast!
While The XX Tour that was to start April 1st with shows booked through June had to be pushed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the new album’s retro-charged first single, 'Get Up!' (featuring Mr. Talkbox & Marcus Anderson) entered Billboard at #6, and soon after produced the hitmaker’s 33rd #1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Charts.
1. 'Get Up!'
2. 'Dance Like This'
3. 'The Hangout'
4. 'Prelude To More Thank Thankful'
5. 'More Than Thankful'
6. 'It's A Love Thing'
7. 'Time Flies'
8. 'Sexy Love'
9. 'Keep Movin'
10. 'The Truth'
11. 'Intro To Looking Back'
12. 'Looking Back'
As aforementioned, Culbertson opens with the uptempo, slap bass, old school funky groove of 'Get Up!' and backs that up with the late-'70s dancefloor slide of 'Dance Like This' (featuring Bootsy Collins), the the near-seven minute mid-tempo, horn-fluent masterpiece 'The Hangout' (featuring Ray Parker Jr., albeit not in a vocal capacity), and then we get a quick, dulcet prelude moment before the free flowing R&B of 'More Thank Thankful' (featuring Avery*Sunshine aka Denise Nicole White) comes forth.
With Culbertson having written and produced XX, it's obvious listening to it that he has taken a fresh approach to his writing process, in that he has incorporated a little bit of everything from his expansive career to bring forth 12 tracks that enable your mind, body and soul to simply soar; no matter what may currently be weighing you down.
All those previously upbeat and ultra funky grooves get tempered for the luscious, streamlined piano melodies found within 'It's A Love Thing,' the finger-snappin' suppleness of 'Time Flies,' and then 'Sexy Love' (featuring guitar work from Maze’s Jubu Smith), with Everette Harp's saxophone attributes coming to the fore on the pop-jazz bounce of 'Keep Movin.'
This quite magnificent album then rounds out with the love song 'The Truth' (featuring the soulful R&B vocals of Noel Gourdin), with the short intro to 'Looking Back' then bleeding into the full track (featuring New Orleans native Patches Stewart on trumpet) closing the album.
"This album was about creating lots of different moods, which is a little different for me in terms of what I’ve done over the last several albums that were more conceptual and consistent from beginning to end - either the romantic side of things, a funk album, straight-ahead jazz trio or what not", Culbertson explains.
"I deliberately set out to have no one genre or one style in mind; just give people a total mix of everything that I do – funky instrumentals, jazz, R&B slow jams, gospel, pop, and straight-up funk”, he continues, adding that he hopes the collection will uplift listeners during this unprecedented time of social distancing and economic uncertainty.
“The fact that it’s coming out during this time when everyone is under stay at home orders, I hope it does lift people up. That’s what music does."
"That’s the beauty of music. It makes you feel better. It takes you out of whatever place you’re in at the moment. It transports you. That’s why I love making music."
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Title - 'Music Unites'
Artist - Rocco Zifarelli
For more than 20 years Rocco Zifarelli has worked alongside the famous movie music composer Ennio Morricone, with whom he has recorded many award-winning scores (Academy Award, Golden Globe, Bafta, etc) and performed in many tours around the world.
Published 20 years after the acclaimed Lyndon (Via VenetoJazz-Universal) this brand new album Music Unites continues on the same musical concept, that concerns instrumental electric jazz and jazz-rock in general, with 10 tracks describing a series of experiences of musical life in Rome, New York and especially in Paris.
1. 'Northern Line' (7:47)
2. 'Aural' (6:02)
3. 'Le Clan Des Siciliens' (6;11)
4. 'The Untouchables' (4:59)
5. 'Ballad For Mr. Kromback' (4:11)
6. 'Essential Blues' (8:04)
7. 'With The Help Of God, Shine' (6:38)
8. 'Abidjan' (4:32)
9. 'Aural - reprise' (3:27)
10. 'The Untouchables - alt. take' (4:53)
For this quite magnificent musical experience, Music Unites prompted Rocco to bring together a number of great musicians with whom he had collaborated with in the past.
These included: Paco Sery (Ivory Coast) on drums, Linley Marthe (Mauritius Island) on bass; the rhythm section of Joe Zawinul Syndicate; Italian electric and acoustic bass stars Dario Deidda and Pippo Matino; Russian trumpeter Alex Sipiagin; and two DJ’s and sound designers Freddy Jay (Paris) and Yassin Africancuts (Brussels), amongst others.
Featuring a lot of musical variety, original and non-original compositions, including two revisited Morricone’s themes, Music Unites is most definitely an album that brings together people, cultures and sounds to formulate an expansive, and worldly backbeat to guide us all, in these darks times, through and out the other side.
Opening with the soaring, cultural magnificence of 'Northern Line', he backs that up seamlessly with the uber-frenetic, DJ-mastered 'Aural' and then relaxes us back into a revisiting of Morricone's very own 'Le Clan Des Siciliens.'
That's backed by another dynamic delve into Morricone's past on the now electronically sampled, and guitar heavy 'The Untouchables' which he follows with the lush Latin approach to 'Ballad for Mr. Kromback' and then the upbeat, guitar-twanging, funky brilliance of 'Essential Blues (with lyrics by Joe Bowie).
The reverberating electronics of 'With the Help of God, Shine' have quickly made this track the stand out for me personally, and that's backed by more frenetic DJ-propelled beats within 'Abidjan,' with the album rounding out on the gentle acoustic guitar work of 'Aural (Reprise),' and then closes out on the drum-led exuberance of 'The Untouchables (Alternative Take).'
Says Rocco, “This record is the story of my musical and private life, through the ten tracks, like the chapters of an autobiographical book."
"It’s also a journey, a long journey in all senses, was conceived from the point of view of the compositional ideas many years ago, shortly after the release of my first and only album Lyndon, but had a very long gestation, due to many factors both external and personal, changes of human and artistic life mainly influenced by the massive events that have affected the whole world in the last twenty years."
"During this time I traveled a lot, for tours and concerts, and lived in some world great musical cities. Especially my three years in Paris, after joining the Defunkt, where I met many African artists who were able to express depths of their native cultures."
"Even now Paris absorbs these important influences and, in musical terms, trains generations of extraordinary esteemed all over the world. All that already happened in New York since forever, but not with African born artists, really hard to arrive in the US."
"It is not a coincidence that Joe Zawinul has taken so many musicians of the last Syndicate in Paris, even if they were not originally from France.”
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Title - 'Strings for Peace: Premieres For Guitar & Sarod'
Artist - Amjad Khan, Sharon Isnin, Amaan & Ayaan Bangash
On this groundbreaking ZOHO release, Strings for Peace: Premieres For Guitar & Sarod (out May 22nd, 2020 via ZOHO Music), multiple Grammy winner, guitarist Sharon Isbin explores the richness of North Indian classical music with Ustad (maestro) Amjad Ali Khan, representing the sixth generation of sarod masters.
Khan has also been guru to his two amazingly talented sons, Amaan Ali and Ayaan Ali Bangash also featured on this recording, in four ragas arranged for Sharon Isbin.
1. 'By The Moon' - raga behag' (13:26)
2. 'Love Avalanche - raga mishra bhairav' (3:57)
3. 'Romancing Earth - raga pilu' (16:38)
4. 'Sacred Evening - raga yaman' (16:36)
For those not in the know, a raga (or raag) is a melodic framework for improvisation akin to a melodic mode in Indian classical music and so this quite magnificent musical experience opens with the first of the new quartet, the transcendent celestial opus 'By The Moon' - raga behag' which is seamlessly backed by the shorter, upbeat, tabla-backed fare of 'Love Avalanche - raga mishra bhairav.
Next we get a scenically beautiful 30 minutes of music in the form of two pieces: the folksy resonance of 'Romancing Earth - raga pilu' which is backed by the modulating flourishes of 'Sacred Evening - raga yaman.'
In recent years father and sons have turned their attention more and more towards collaborations with musicians from other great traditions, especially Western classical music, seeking ways in which their Indian music finds resonances and parallels in other music; so that the Western musicians concerned can find a way into Indian music without the years of formal training expected of an Indian.
An obvious connection featured in this album is that the sarod and guitar are both leading plucked stringed instruments of their respective traditions.
The sarod does not have frets, and this enables it better to replicate the essential slides and other embellishments demanded of raga performance.
Thus it requires a guitarist of the caliber of Sharon Isbin to interact with no fewer than three sarod masters. In the words of Amjad Ali Khan himself, "each of the artists brings the spirit of sharing the great unique treasures of their own artistic traditions, as well as finding common ground in ragas and medieval modes."
"The idea is to achieve a cross-fertilization at both the cellular and cosmic levels of two classical music traditions, which are often held to be radically different."
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Title - 'Affinity'
Artist - Sharon Isbin
Acclaimed for her extraordinary lyricism, technique and versatility, multiple GRAMMY-Award winner Sharon Isbin was named the 2020 Musical America Worldwide Instrumentalist of the Year; the first guitarist ever to receive the coveted honor in its 59 year award history.
Isbin has appeared as soloist with over 200 orchestras and has given sold-out performances in many of the world’s finest halls, including New York’s Carnegie and Geffen Halls, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, et al.
Isbin’s catalogue of over 30 albums from Baroque, Spanish/Latin and 20th Century to crossover and jazz-fusion, has sold nearly a million copies and reflects her remarkable versatility.
Her two latest releases in May 2020 of world premiere recordings of music composed for her are Strings for Peace, with India’s legendary Amjad Ali Khan in a program of ragas for guitar, sarod and tabla, and this one here, Affinity (featuring Chris Brubeck’s acclaimed concerto for guitar and orchestra).
1. 'Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra' (16:08)
2. 'El arpa del guerrero' (4:04)
3. 'La huida de los amantes por el valle de los ecos' (4:09)
4. 'Balada de la doncella enamorada' (5:52)
5. 'Waltz No. 3 Natalia' (feat. Colin Davin) (2:59)
6. 'Seven Desires for Guitar' (10:56)
7. 'Listen ...' (3:48)
8. 'This Night of Love ...' (2:18)
9. 'Your Beauty ...' (4:55)
On this historic ZOHO release, Isbin performs multi-faceted and virtuosic new works for guitar, written for her by four leading composers.
From the Africa-influenced El Decameron Negro by iconic Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer, through the Chinese and Spanish influenced Seven Desires by Tan Dun, to Richard Danielpour's song cycle Of Love and Longing and the jazz and world music-influenced Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra by Chris Brubeck, Isbin gives her inimitable imprint to, and vastly enriches major new repertoire for guitar.
This beautiful, simply divine new album opens with the perky, playful 'Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra' and backs that up with the dulcet guitar work of 'El arpa del guerrero,' the cautious 'La huida de los amantes por el valle de los ecos,' and then the third of the El Decameron Negroes, the tender 'Balada de la doncella enamorada.'
The whirlingly stupendous majesty of 'Waltz No. 3 Natalia' (feat. Colin Davin) is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold and is followed by the sterner, more pronounced tenures of 'Seven Desires for Guitar' (featuring work by classical composer and pianist, Tan Dun).
An operatic trilogy Of Love and Longing rounds out the album, with the first being the expansive 'Listen ...' which is followed by the shorter, Spanish-guitar inspired 'This Night of Love ...', with the mood evoking 'Your Beauty ...' bringing the album to a close.
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Title - 'Live at the Paramount'
Artist - Ruthie Foster Big Band
On January 26th, 2019, the Ruthie Foster Big Band took the stage at the historic Paramount Theater in Austin, TX to perform a set of live big band era tracks that would make up her new album.
Featuring arrangements by Miles Davis alum John Beasley and bandleader John Miller, Ruthie Foster’s latest album Live at the Paramount evokes Sinatra, Ellington, Ella and other swing-era greats on collection of favorite originals and dynamic covers.
2. 'Brand New Day'
3. 'Might Not Be Right'
4. 'Ring Of Fire'
5. 'Stone Love'
6. 'The Ghetto'
7. 'Death Came A Knockin' (Travelin' Shoes)'
8. 'Singin' The Blues'
9. 'Runaway Soul'
10 .'Woke Up This Morning'
11. 'Joy Comes Back'
12. 'Phenomenal Woman'
13. 'Fly Me To The Moon'
14. 'Mack The Knife'
The album opens with Ruthie's daughter Mai, who then herself, and to rapturous applause, introduces her own mother to the packed house.
That leads us neatly into the one-two punch of 'Brand New Day,' which is followed by both the mid-tempo love song 'Might Not Be Right' (written with the great William Bell) and then a beautiful, laid back cover of Johnny Cash's infamous 'Ring Of Fire.'
Next up is Foster playing testimony via the uproarious 'Stone Love,' with that being backed by the lo-fi ballad 'The Ghetto,' the hip shakin' magnificence of 'Death Came A Knockin' (Travelin' Shoes),' and then the foot tappin' vibes of the mid-tempo 'Singin' The Blues.'
Backed by a guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, drummer, ten horn players, vocalists, and conductor, the upbeat 'Runaway Soul' is a joy to behold and is backed by the soulful R&B of 'Woke Up This Morning' and then the joyous New Orleans hipsway of 'Joy Comes Back.'
This delightfully vibrant live album then rounds out with the sung poem by Maya Angelou, 'Phenomenal Woman,' a cover of Frank Sinatra's 'Fly Me To The Moon,' with another cover in the form of the Bobby Darin-made famous hit from 1959 (although her dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald), the finger-snappin' excellence of 'Mack The Knife.'
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Title - 'We Still Go To Rodeos'
Artist - Whitney Rose
For those not in the know, Austin, Texas based recording artist Whitney Rose has just released her fifth studio recording, We Still Go to Rodeos this past April 24th, 2020.
Rose is an award winning internationally lauded and critically acclaimed vocalist and songwriter whose music bends genres and transcends international boundaries.
Furthermore, Rose has been covered in major outlets like The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Fader, UPROXX and international outlets like Fashion Magazine, Glamour, and Esquire.
In 2016 Rose won the ECMA Award for Country Album of the Year and in 2019 she won Honky Tonk Female of the Year at The Ameripolitan Awards.
She has also performed on stages or recorded with artists such as The Mavericks, Raul Malo, Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart, Jason Isbell, Redd Volkaert, Earle Poole Ball, The Proclaimers, Reverend Horton Heat, Midland, and many more.
Her new album, We Still Go To Rodeos (whose cover art always reminds me of Bobby Charles' self-titled 1972 album cover) features twelve original Whitney Rose recordings and was produced by Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Hole, The Pixies, Uncle Tupelo, Lou Reed).
1. 'Just Circumstance'
2. 'Home With You'
3. 'Believe Me, Angels'
4. 'In A Rut'
5. 'A Hundred Shades Of Blue'
6. 'I'd Rather Be Alone'
7. 'You'd Blame Me For The Rain'
8. 'Fell Through The Cracks'
9. 'Don't Give Up On Me'
10. 'Better Man'
11. 'Thanks For Trying'
12. 'We Still Go To Rodeos'
On Rose’s first record away from the Canadian-based Six Shooter Records, and on her own label MCG, the album opens with the upbeat, jangling guitar storytelling of 'Just Circumstance,' which she backs up seamlessly with both the mid-tempo 'Home With You' and the pedal steel-driven 'Believe Me, Angels.'
As all fans of hers will have themselves noted even just three songs in, where Rose's previous album had delved more into '60s vibes, here We Still Go To Rodeos focuses more on the use of '80s and early '90s soundscapes.
Perhaps none more so than both the lo-fi punk of 'In A Rut' and the lusciously divine, softly psych flow of 'A Hundred Shades Of Blue.'
They are then backed by the melodic 'I'd Rather Be Alone,' the foot-tappin' 'You'd Blame Me For The Rain,' and both the yearning of 'Fell Through The Cracks' and the light, breezy acoustic work of 'Don't Give Up On Me.'
Rose's rock 'tude comes back for the upbeat 'Better Man,' which is backed by the reaching, emphatic arc of 'Thanks For Trying,' before the album comes to a close on the lonesome, harmonica-driven country title track, 'We Still Go To Rodeos.'
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Title - 'Songs I Can't Live Without'
Artist - Marshall Chapman
For those not in the know, Marshall Chapman is an American singer-songwriter-author who was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
To date she has released thirteen critically acclaimed albums, with her 2013 release, Blaze of Glory, having been hailed as a masterpiece.
Chapman's fourteenth album, Songs I Can’t Live Without was just released this past May 15th, 2020 (her eighth on TallGirl Records) and is an album of classics that had always been on Chapman’s bucket list to record.
"The songs I write have always been so personal,” Chapman says. “I needed a break. I was getting tired of living myself into a corner, just so I could write myself out.”
1. 'Tower Of Song'
2. 'Turn The Page'
3. 'I Fall In Love Too Easily'
4. 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow'
5. 'I Still Miss Someone'
6. 'Don't Be Cruel'
7. 'Tennessee Blues'
8. 'After Midnight'
10. 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands'
This quite breathtakingly raw, and openly honest and passionate album opens with Leonard Cohen’s gruff 'Tower Of Song,' which Chapman sings for the first time while recording it and that's backed by an earthy 'Turn The Page' (Bob Seger) and then a slow poke turn at Chet Baker's 'I Fall In Love Too Easily' is brought forth.
A breathy, fuzzy guitar vibe is given to Carole King's 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' before we get a dedicated homage to Johnny Cash on his 'I Still Miss Someone' and then a lo-fi, gently acoustic hipsway cover of Elvis Presley's 'Don't Be Cruel.'
Chapman brings a hauntingly evocative southern crawl to Bobby Charles' 1972 hit 'Tennessee Blues,' which is backed by J.J. Cale's renowned 'After Midnight,' with the album coming to a close on a truly prophetic rendering of the traditional 'He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands.'
Chapman explains, “'He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands' is the first song I remember singing as a child. I was eight years old. It was a big hit on the radio by an English singer named Laurie London. It’s one of those songs you know the minute you hear it."
"When we first tracked this album, another song was the closer. But it just didn’t seem quite right. So for days and days I thought about a replacement."
"Then it hit me that a gospel song might be the ticket. I considered 'I Shall Not Be Moved,' but then I remembered 'He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.'"
"The day we recorded this was the day of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. I was driving to the studio in East Nashville, and when I saw all the flags at half mast, I had to pull over to the side of the road."
"There I jotted down notes for the recitation that you hear at the end of this recording. I hope you enjoy this as much as we enjoyed recording it.”
Marshall Chapman is currently featured in “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s” at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville. The exhibit will run until Feb. 14th, 2021.
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Title - 'Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos'
Artist - John Stewart
For those not in the know, in a career spanning more than four decades, John Stewart swiftly progressed from his beginnings in a southern California garage band, through folk groups The Cumberland Three and The Kingston Trio, to a successful solo career.
He contributed well over 40 albums and more than 600 songs to our musical universe and thus his song catalog is not only staggering in volume, but it’s also loaded with classic compositions.
Most will know Stewart’s songwriting from 'Daydream Believer' by The Monkees (and Anne Murray) or his own Lindsey Buckingham-produced, 'Gold,' a #5 hit in 1979, but just as impressive are 'Runaway Train' from Rosanne Cash’s 1987 King’s Record Shop album, 'Sweet Dreams Will Come' on Nanci Griffith’s Little Love Affairs, or 'Mother Country' from Stewart’s own 1969 California Bloodlines album; which was used to usher the Apollo 11 spacecraft safely back to Earth after its historic journey.
Omnivore is has just released John Stewart's Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos this past May 8th, 2020 and it is an album that contains a lot of rare, and previously unreleased gems from the great songwriter.
It features four tunes found here that wound up on The Kingston Trio’s Children Of The Morning album released in 1966 with one of them, 'The Spinnin’ Of The World,' getting a second airing on 1979s hit album, Bombs Away Dream Babies; which yielded the aforementioned charting single, 'Gold, with two other songs, 'Midnight Wind' and 'Lost Her In The Sun' also making the Top 40.
Three duets with Buffy Ford Stewart foreshadow Signals Through The Glass album which the singing partners, and later husband and wife team, would release on Capitol Records in 1968.
This collection also features five tracks that would form nearly half of Stewart’s classic California Bloodlines album released in 1969. Of particular note, 'July, You’re A Woman' makes its first recorded appearance here alongside demos for 'Mother Country' and 'The Pirates Of Stone County Road.
1. 'Livin' That Way' (Demo)
2. 'When You're Been Away For A Long Time' (Demo)
3. 'Down The Highway You Go' (Demo)
4. 'Lock All The Windows' (Demo)
5. 'Rambler Get On Board' (Demo)
6. 'Shackles & Chains' (Demo)
7. 'One More Chapter Is Gone' (Demo)
8. 'Being Born Again' (Demo)
9. 'Long Life' (Demo)
10. 'Children Of The Morning' (Demo)
11. 'The Spinnin' Of The World' (Demo)
12. 'Draft Age Today' (Demo)
13. 'The Pirates of Stone County Road' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
14. 'One Tiny Grain of Sand' (Demo)
15. 'July, You're A Woman' (Demo)
16. 'Big Sur' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
17. 'Mother Country' (Demo)
18. 'She Believes In Me' (John Stewart with Buffy Ford Stewart) (Demo)
19. 'Hey Sarrey' [1959 Bonus Demo]
Opening with the upbeat 'Livin' That Way' and the passionate embrace of 'When You're Been Away For A Long Time,' next up is the pure country of 'Down The Highway You Go' ("I know I shouldn't cry, but I've got freedom in my eyes"), and then the earnest duo of 'Lock All The Windows' and 'Rambler Get On Board.'
The gentle warbling vocals of Stewart come to the fore on the uptempo 'Shackles & Chains,' and that's followed by the storytelling of 'One More Chapter Is Gone,' the sing-along, tambourine-backed 'Being Born Again,' and then the gentle pop sounds of 'Long Life' and the lushly ornate 'Children Of The Morning.'
More vocal reverberations are showcased on 'The Spinnin' Of The World' which is backed by the reminiscing of 'Draft Age Today,' the gently melodic 'The Pirates of Stone County Road' (fetauring Buffy Ford Stewart), and then both the low key 'One Tiny Grain Of Sand' and the Simon & Garfunkel-esque 'July, You're A Woman.'
The beautiful 'Big Sur' (featuring Buffy Ford Stewart) is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold, and that's followed by 'Mother Country,' with 'She Believes In Me' (again featuring Buffy Ford Stewart), and the banjo-driven bonus track 'Hey Sarrey' bringing the collection to a close.
In 2001, Stewart was honored by the World Folk Music Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award and continued to perform live until nearly 2008.
Thus, here on Old Forgotten Altars: The 1960s Demos, Omnivore honors his life’s work and legacy with this peek behind the curtain into his songwriting process while he was making his way from The Kingston Trio to his solo career.
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Title - 'New York at Night'
Artist - Willie Nile
For those not in the know, New York at Night is the 13th studio album from veteran rock 'n' roll troubadour Willie Nile, and the strongest manifestation to date of his deep affinity for the city.
The album's 12 new originals exemplify the artist's trademark mix of romance, idealism, humor, emotional urgency and a true believer's passionate embrace of all things rock 'n' roll.
Nile's abiding passion for his town animates such tunes as 'New York Is Rockin' and the album's title track. "New York City has always inspired me," states Willie. "I've lived in Greenwich Village for many years now, and I still love being there."
"The energy, the grit, and the mystery of it all fills my heart with wonder. Most of these songs were written in New York or were inspired by it in one way or another."
Nile recorded New York at Night (released May 15th, 2020 via River House Records) just across the river, at Weehawken, N.J.'s Hobo Sound, co-producing with longtime collaborator Stewart Lerman (Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Patti Smith) and backed by his longtime live band.
The album also features well renowned guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Steuart Smith (Eagles, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell), pianist Brian Mitchell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, B.B. King), and an assortment of backing vocalists including singer-songwriters Frankie Lee and James Maddock, and veteran singers Tawatha Agee and Vaneese Thomas.
1. 'New York Is Rockin'
2. 'The Backstreet Slide'
3. 'Doors Of Paradise'
4. 'Lost and Lonely World'
5. 'The Fool Who Drank The Ocean'
6. 'A Little Bit Of Love'
7. 'New York at Night'
8. 'The Last Time We Made Love'
9. 'Surrender The Moon'
10. 'Under This Roof'
11. 'Downtown Girl'
12. 'Run Free'
This vibrantly earthy album opens with the upbeat sing-along 'New York Is Rockin' and backs that up with the low slung guitar work of 'The Backstreet Slide,' then the lo-fi reverb of 'Doors Of Paradise,' and then the mid-tempo, early '90s rock vibe of the terrific 'Lost and Lonely World.'
The drum-led beats of 'The Fool Who Drank The Ocean' ("I'm as mad as a hatter, I'm as drunk as Lord. I've been stumbling backward, falling on my soul") are then backed by the AOR ballad 'A Little Bit Of Love' and then the rambunctious title track 'New York at Night' ("I went into the subway and it felt just like a dream. Saw a fella going by covered in whipped cream") bursts forth.
Nile's ornate piano ballad, the yearning 'The Last Time We Made Love' makes it one of the stand out highlights here for me, and that's followed by the rockin' late '80s vibe of 'Surrender The Moon.'
The album then rounds out with the passionate, balladeering promises of 'Under This Roof,' before the tempo is raised once again for the thunderous 'Downtown Girl,' with the album coming to a close on the freewheeling, Springteen-esque 'Run Free.'
Amazon CD Purchase Link
Willie Nile @ Facebook
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Willie Nile @ Instagram
Title - 'Truth'
Artist - Mrs. Fun
For those not in the know, Mrs. Fun plays complex, sophisticated and adventurous nu jazz.
A unique blend of off-center jazz, ultra-funk, spoken word rap, and their own brand of neo-cabaret, also incorporated are highly intelligent lyrics, stellar musicianship, and a dynamic stage presence.
The Mrs. Fun sound is derived from Connie Grauer's funky bass-driven keyboard playing, combined with Kim Zick's skillful in-the-pocket drumming.
Voted Best Contemporary Jazz Group by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry(WAMI) three consecutive years, Grauer and Zick have also received WAMI awards for Best Instrumentalist: keyboards and drums.
Given that improvisation is the driving force of Mrs. Fun, Grauer has also received awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best Stage Entertainer.
Their new album, Truth is out now via Funtime Records and is a quite magnificent 13-track set that lovingly envelopes all the troupes noted above, and yet still manages to discover new ones along its expressive way.
2. 'Process In The Purpose'
3. 'Tula's Turnaround'
5. 'Silent Mist / How Insensitive'
6. 'Soulful Strutt'
8. 'I Don't Want to Know Your Name'
8. 'Light My Fire'
9. 'House Party'
9. 'Orange Grove'
10. 'Space Port / Pinocchio'
11. 'Let Me Live My Lie'
12. 'Calm Before The Storm'
The album kicks things off in fine style with the layered, drum-led '19' which is backed by both the spoken word 'Process In The Purpose' and then the more frenetic 'Tula's Turnaround.'
That fast-pace bleeds seamlessly into 'Silent Mist / How Insensitive,' but is culled somewhat for their dulcet rendition of Young-Holt Unlimited's 1968 hit 'Soulful Strut' (which in turn was the backing instrumental track from Barbara Acklin's 'Am I the Same Girl,' if you were ever curious!).
The heated pace is turned back up again for the pacey, yet orchestrated magnificence of 'Zawinul' and then we get the lush jazz-pop demeanor of 'Don't Want to Know Your Name.'
Their upbeat and fun rendition of The Doors' infamous 'Light My Fire' also makes this one of my own personal favorites and that's backed by both the controlled, yet clearly maniacal 'House Party,' and then the vibe of foreign espionage in the air for 'Orange Grove.'
This vibrantly magnificent album then rounds out with the tremendous, foot-tappin' urgency of 'Space Port / Pinocchio,' the spoken word, mid-tempo lo-fi 'Let Me Live My Lie,' and then comes to a close with their harmonious coming together for 'Calm Before The Storm.'
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Mrs. Fun @ Facebook
Mrs. Fun @ YouTube
Title - 'Invisible'
Artist - Nick D'Virgilio
For those not in the know, on July 3rd, 2020 Nick D'Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock's Beard, Genesis) will release his brand new sophomore solo album Invisible via Sweetwater Sounds.
Featuring members of Dream Theater, King Crimson, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, The Flower Kings, and even Sophia D’ Virgilio on background vocals, amongst others, Invisible is the second solo studio album by American drummer and multi-instrumentalist musician Nick D’Virgilio
The wondrous album comes in, amongst other forms, this lovely CD edition housed in a digipack and includes a booklet with lyrics and credits; along with a second “drum booklet” with precise and detailed information of the gear used in each of the songs.
3. 'Turn Your Life Around'
4. 'I’m Gone'
5. 'Money (That’s What I Want)'
6. 'Waiting For No One'
7. 'Snake Oil Salesman'
8. 'Where’s The Passion'
11. 'In My Bones'
12. 'Wrong Place, Wrong Time'
13. 'Not My Time To Say Goodbye'
14. 'I Know The Way'
The musical story of a man who is unhappy with where his life has ended up, the album opens with a quite stirring 'Prelude' before the gently melodic orchestrations of the title track then give way to the guitar and drum rock of 'Turn Your Life Around,' with the free flowing synth soft rock vibe of 'I’m Gone' up next.
D'Virgilio's ambient guitar ballad-take of the track written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy, 'Money (That’s What I Want)' is an interesting rendition, and that's backed by both the lo-fi piano cut 'Waiting For No One,' and then the upbeat rocker 'Snake Oil Salesman.'
One of my own personal favorites here is the atmospheric growth found within 'Where’s The Passion' which is backed by the London Underground-sourced intro, and then grunge-like guitar work of 'Mercy.'
More AOR is brought forth on the thunderous prog venture 'Overcome,' which is followed in much the same vein by 'In My Bones,' before another stand out, the sturdy guitar and synth rocker 'Wrong Place, Wrong Time.'
This quite vibrantly enthusiastic and wondrously creative album then rounds out with the mid-tempo 'Not My Time To Say Goodbye,' coming to a close on the foot-tappin' pop rock of 'I Know The Way'
Nick explains, "During down time in my booth – while touring with the Cirque Du Soleil show Totem – I would write music and after a while I started to amass a bunch of riffs, melodies, song ideas, and more."
"The word invisible kept coming to mind. It got me thinking of people that truly have the hard jobs in our world. Or no job at all."
"The outliers. The ones we all take for granted. The ones we will never know but if they were not there then our lives would not be the nearly the same."
"It was at that point I knew I wanted to write a concept record. Something I had never done before. I had the idea and knew it was a concept I wanted to peruse more."
"I studied, I asked questions, I watched, I listened and learned the best that I could. While this story is fiction, I did draw upon some of my own experiences and sprinkled them in throughout."
"The main thing this record did for me is reaffirm my strong belief that we are all here for something. Whether it be small or huge. Whether everyone knows your name or not. We all have a purpose. Find yours.”
With the recording process split between the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London (including full string and brass sections) and the world class Sweetwater Studios in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Invisible boasts star turns from luminaries such as guitarists Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) and Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), bassists Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) and Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Steve Hackett), plus keyboard players Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) and Jem Godfrey (Frost*).
Official Invisible Purchase Links
Nick D'Virgilio @ Facebook
Nick D'Virgilio @ Twitter
Title - 'Blues Comin' On'
Artist - Joe Louis Walker
For those not in the know, Joe Louis Walker, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner, and who has just celebrated a career that exceeds a half a century, come June 5th, 2020 will release a brand new album Blues Comin' On (via Cleopatra Blues Records).
With his legacy as a prolific torchbearer for the blues already cemented in musical folklore, looking back on his rich history, Walker shares, “I’d like to be known for the credibility of a lifetime of being true to my music and the blues."
"Sometimes I feel I’ve learned more from my failures, than from my success. But that’s made me stronger and more adventurous. And helped me create my own style."
"I’d like to think that when someone puts on one of my records they would know from the first notes, ‘That’s Joe Louis Walker.'”
1. 'Feed the Poor' (feat. Jorma Kaukonen)
2. 'Blues Comin' on' (feat. Eric Gales)
3. 'Someday, Someway' (feat. Carla Cooke & Lee Oskar)
4. 'The Thang' (feat. Jesse Johnson)
5. 'Old Time Used to Be' (feat. Keb' Mo')
6. 'Come Back Home' (feat. Mitch Ryder)
7. 'Bowlegged Woman, Knock-Kneed Man' (feat. Waddy Wachtel)
8. 'Awake Me Shake' Me (feat. Carla Cooke)
9. 'Lonely Weekends' (feat. David Bromberg)
10. 'Seven More Steps' (feat. Albert Lee)
11. 'Uptown to Harlem' (feat. Jellybean Johnson)
12. '7 & 7 Is' (feat. Arlen Roth & Charlie Harper)
Soulful blues phenom Joe Louis Walker is joined by a host of talented friends and peers on this superb studio album.
Featuring guest performances by fellow blues icons Keb' Mo', Eric Gales, and Albert Lee plus Detroit soul singer Mitch Ryder, harmonica virtuoso Lee Oskar, Hot Tuna's Jorma Kaukonen, punk rock vocalist Charlie Harper, legendary session player Waddy Wachtel, and many others, Blues Comin' On virtually explodes with the passionate playing and soulful melodies that have made Walker a favorite among true blues aficionados all around the world.
Opening with the mid-tempo, Hammond-inspired 'Feed the Poor' (feat. Hot Tuna's Jorma Kaukonen), the album continues onward in fine style with the hot to trot title track 'Blues Comin' on' (feat. blues-rock guitarist Eric Gales), the laid black, smooth groove of 'Someday, Someway' (feat. daughter of the legendary Sam Cooke, Carla & Cooke and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar), and then both the poppin' blues of 'The Thang' (feat. blues-rock guitarist Jesse Johnson), and the harmonica-driven, pre-release single 'Old Time Used to Be' (feat. both Keb' Mo' and John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful).
Next up is the smooth blues soul of 'Come Back Home,' featuring Detroit's very own local hero Mitch Ryder, and that's followed by more harmonica on the funky 'Bowlegged Woman, Knock-Kneed Man' (feat. legendary session player Waddy Wachtel), and then a quite resoundingly soulful 'Awake Me Shake' Me (once again, featuring Carla Cooke).
The album then rounds out with the foot-tappin', old school vibe of 'Lonely Weekends' (feat. multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg), the guitar-led 'Seven More Steps' (feat. English guitarist Albert Lee, and his unique fingerstyle and hybrid picking technique), and comes to a close on the pop funk of 'Uptown to Harlem' (feat. Jellybean Johnson, best known as the drummer for The Time), before the temperature is turned up for the Iggy Pop-esque vibe of '7 & 7 Is' (feat. both guitarist Arlen Roth and punk rock vocalist Charlie Harper).
Amazon CD Purchase Link
Joe Louis Walker @ Facebook
Joe Louis Walker @ Twitter
Title - 'Blues For A King'
Artist - Shirley King
For those not in the know, the daughter of blues legend B.B. King, Shirley, shines on this spectacular, star-packed album entitled Blues For A King (out June 19th, 2020 via Cleopatra Blues Records).
Indeed, Shirley is a seasoned vocalist who performed regularly with her father and has continued to be an ambassador in the blues world after his passing.
Featuring an amazing cast of blues legends, including Joe Louis Walker, Robben Ford, Elvin Bishop, Junior Wells, as well as Pat Travers, Steve Cropper and more, Blues For A King is yet another blues home run from the King family!
1. 'All Of My Lovin’ (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
2. 'Feelin’ Alright' (feat. Duke Robillard)
3. 'I Did You Wrong' (feat. Elvin Bishop)
4. 'That’s All Right Mama' (feat. Pat Travers)
5. 'Can’t Find My Way Home' (feat. Martin Barre)
6. 'Johnny Porter' (feat. Arthur Adams)
7. 'Feeling Good' (feat. Robben Ford)
8. 'Give It All Up' (feat. Kirk Fletcher)
9. 'Gallows Pole' (feat. Harvey Mandel)
10. 'Hoodoo Man Blues' (feat. Junior Wells & Joe Louis Walker)
11. 'At Last' (feat. Steve Cropper)
This simply mesmerizing new Motown/blues album opens with the beautiful hipsway of 'All Of My Lovin’ (feat. Joe Louis Walker) and righteously backs that up with both a Gospel-esque rendition of Traffic's/Joe Cocker's 'Feelin’ Alright' (feat. the Fabulous Thunderbirds' guitarist Duke Robillard) and then the smokin’ hot original 'I Did You Wrong' (feat. the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's guitarist, Elvin Bishop).
Next up we get an absolutely rockin' 'That’s All Right Mama' (feat. Pat Travers) which is followed by a guitar-led rendition of Blind Faith's 'Can’t Find My Way Home' (feat. Martin Barre), the throaty, down South vibe of 'Johnny Porter' (originally by The Temptations, and feat. the Medon, Tennessee-born Arthur Adams), and then a sumptuous, brassy rendition of Nina Simone's 'Feeling Good' featuring Robben Ford).
This electrifying album then rounds out with the finger-snappin' Motown appeal of 'Give It All Up' (feat. the electric blues guitar work of Kirk Fletcher), a Mississippi-grown reworking of Led Zeppelin's 'Gallows Pole' (feat. the truly innovative guitar work of Harvey Mandel), and then comes to a close on Junior Wells' 'Hoodoo Man Blues' (now a duet with King, feat. the man himself alongside Joe Louis Walker), and then a faithful rendition of the Etta James classic 'At Last' (feat. "The Colonel," Steve Cropper).
Official CD Purchase Link
Shirley King @ Facebook
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Title - 'Benefit For Moogy Klingman'
Artist - Todd Rundgren's Utopia
Todd Rundgren's Utopia Benefit For Moogy Klingman is a very limited edition 4CD+2DVD multimedia box-set of live performances from Todd Rundgren's renowned prog rock project Utopia, and is as good as it gets for all their fans, trust me!
Indeed, these very special concerts were planned as fundraising events to help cover medical expenses incurred by founding Utopia member, and beloved Rundgren partner, Moogy "Mark" Klingman.
This expansive set (due out May 1st, 2020 via Purple Pyramid - Cleopatra Records) covers two full length concerts, plus contains a 12-page booklet featuring photos and liner notes documenting these spectacular shows.
Disc 1: Highline Ballroom - New York, NY - January 29th, 2011
1. 'Moogy's Boogie'
2. 'Never Never Land'
3. 'Crying in the Sunshine'
4. 'Lady Face'
5. 'Dust in the Wind'
6. 'Utopia Theme'
7. 'Freak Parade'
8. 'Another Life'
9. 'The Ikon'
Disc 2: Highline Ballroom - New York, NY - January 29th, 2011
1. 'Heavy Metal Kids'
2. 'The Wheel'
3. 'Set Me Free'
4. 'Do Ya'
5. 'Last Ride'
6. 'Just One Victory'
7. 'Sons of 1984'
8. '(You Got to Have) Friends'
Disc 3: Peekskill Performing Arts Center - Peekskill, NY - November 18th, 2011
1. 'Utopia Theme'
2. 'Freak Parade'
3. 'Heavy Metal Kids'
4. 'Another Life'
5. 'Something's Coming'
6. 'The Seven Rays'
Disc 4: Peekskill Performing Arts Center - Peekskill, NY - November 18th, 2011
1. 'Do Yah'
2. 'The Wheel'
3. 'The Ikon'
4. 'Freedom Fighters'
5. 'Just One Victory'
Disc 5: Live Concert DVD from Highline Ballroom
Disc 6: Live Concert DVD from Peekskill Performing Arts Center
So, with Moogy “Mark” Klingman having fallen ill and as his health deteriorated and his medical bills began to pile up, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia reformed for special benefit engagements to raise money for their dear friend.
The result was an astounding coming together in music and a spirit of compassion as former Utopia members, including Mr. Klingman himself, stepped on the stage behind their leader, Todd Rundgren, and gave the fans an incredible concert, one they would remember for a lifetime.
The first disc (and the first half of the Highline Ballroom, New York, NY - January 29th, 2011 show) opens with the precise, crystal clear acoustic piano playing of the jazzy 'Moogy's Boogie,' and backs that up with the dulcet tones of 'Never Never Land,' the languishing 'Crying in the Sunshine,' and then both the transcendent, twinkling keys of 'Lady Face,' and then a magnificent 'Dust in the Wind' (and no, not the Kansas song!)
Next up is a raucous 15-minute opus in the form of 'Utopia Theme,' which is backed by the expansive 10-minute, drum-led duo of the epic 'Freak Parade' and then 'Another Life,' which in turn sees the first disc round out with the 18-minute fan favorite 'The Ikon.'
The second disc then brings us the second half of the Highline Ballroom show from 2011, and opens with the guitar heavy rocker 'Heavy Metal Kids' and backs that up with the more sedate, harmonica-driven meanderings of 'The Wheel,' with the foot-tappin' pop excellence of 'Set Me Free' along next.
A cover of ELO's magnificent 'Do Ya' is for me, a die hard ELO fan since birth, an unadulterated joy to behold and that's followed by the dulcet 'Last Ride' and then the orchestrated, reverb guitar-influenced 'Just One Victory.'
The poppy, upbeat, Motown-esque beats of 'Sons of 1984' are along next and hen the concert (and second disc) comes to a close with their heartfelt, deeply motivating rendition of '(You Got to Have) Friends.'
Discs three and four contain much the same setlist, albeit not as expansive, this time from their live show at the Peekskill Performing Arts Center - Peekskill, NY - November 18th, 2011.
And then we get the luxury of discs five and six being DVDs that house both the aforementioned concerts.
Official 4CD+2DVD Purchase Link
Todd Rundgren @ Facebook
Todd Rundgren @ Twitter
Title - 'The Garden' [EP]
Artist - Den of Ashes
Ash Beck, the grandson of early Country & Western entertainers John and “Texas Peggy” Clemens / The Wyoming Ramblers circa 1930s – 1950s (who toured and shared friendships with The Carter Family, Tex Ritter, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash), has just released his brand new EP (and his third studio album), the sweetly melancholic The Garden (out now via Starry Eyed Records).
The singer-songwriter better known as Den of Ashes creates and presents his music as a unique and intimate exploration into the human condition of love, hope, dreams and even death.
The moody melodic songs are about lost moments in time which means there is a rare loneliness there within the deep rich vocals and western tonality, which captures the very essence of the Western landscape.
1. 'Adam and Eve'
3. 'Avenue of Stars'
4. 'Adam and Eve' (Extended Version)
This creatively ornate, musically sublime 4-track EP begins with the lo-fi troubadour vibe of 'Adam and Eve' ("I don't want to fade away, but the rain came down like cellophane, and she just vanished in the haze, and she was"), and that's followed by the harmonica-driven, soulful, earnest reverence of 'Rain.'
Next up is the storytelling of 'Avenue of Stars,' a lonesome reflection of days gone by on this darkly moody, yet thoroughly melodic soundtrack into a journey of solitude, and then the EP wraps on an extended version of 'Adam and Eve.'
Official Digital Purchase Link
Den of Ashes @ Facebook
Title - 'All That Matters'
Artist - Lights Out
Being hailed as "The Nation's #1 Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons," Philly-based groupLights Out brings a lead singer whose voice is virtually identical to Frankie Valli himself, and the group's harmonies, engaging personality, and a fully choreographed show keeps audiences captivated from beginning to end.
Their brand new album All That Matters (released April 9th, 2020 via GSO Records) also features the original title track song that has garnered much attention around the world for it's inspirational message during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
With proceeds from the song being lovingly donated to the 1st Responders Children's Fund, the single (itself released worldwide this past April 20th, 2020) was composed by members Chris James and Danny Goscicki.
With fellow group member Chad Moroz suggesting the track be released as a single, complete with fourth band member Rob, 'All That Matters' is a melodic, blue-eyed soul, harmonized work of musical brilliance that ensures a smile to the soul will come to anyone who plays or simply hears it.
Watch The Official Music Video Here!
1. 'The Emptiness'
2. 'Takin’ My Time'
3. 'One More Chance'
4. 'All That Matters'
5. 'The Best Thing in My Life'
6. 'To Be With You'
7. 'I Walk Alone'
8. 'The Song the Echoes Tell'
9. 'Carry On'
10. 'If I Do'
11. 'Stand By Me' (with special guest Ben Vereen)
12. 'Surfin’ U.S.A.'
13. 'December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)'
As for the new album, it features 13 tracks that encompass the sheer vocally harmonized majesty of this quartet to their most magnificent best.
Here you will find nine originals along with four covers, in the form of The Beach Boys’ 'Surfin’ U.S.A.,' The Four Seasons’ 'December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),' Mr. Big’s 'To Be With You,' and a rather stupendous, zestful hip-pop rendition of Ben E. King's 'Stand By Me' (featuring a guest appearance by show business titan Ben Vereen - who himself gained prominence for his performances in the original Broadway productions of the musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, for which he received a Tony Award nomination, and Pippin, for which he won the 1973 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical).
Kicking off in some fine style with the *NSYNC/BSB-esque 'The Emptiness' they back that up with the mid-tempo, reverb rap of 'Takin’ My Time' and then both the soaring ballad 'One More Chance' and the aforementioned new single, 'All That Matters.'
The gentle hipsway of 'The Best Thing in My Life' is then backed by a faithful rendition of Mr. Big's acoustic guitar ballad 'To Be With You,' a soothing piano ballad in the form of 'I Walk Alone,' and then one of my own personal favorites here, the upbeat, early '90s hip-pop synth of 'The Song the Echoes Tell.'
The heartfelt storytelling of 'Carry On' is then followed by the tenderly smooth groove R&B of 'If I Do,' the wildly modernized 'Stand By Me' (featuring Ben Vereen), with the album coming to a close on Lights Outs' signature sound, the dutifully frenetic 'Surfin’ U.S.A.' and then the finger-snappin' excellence of 'December 1963 (Oh, What a Night).'
Digital Purchase Link
Lights Out @ Facebook
Lights Out @ Twitter
Title - 'Float Back To You'
Artist - Holy Hive
For those not in the know, Homer Steinweiss, the Brooklyn based soul-funk drumming staple, always had a soft spot for folk music. Paul Spring, a young idealist folk singer traveling the country, always had a beautiful falsetto in his back pocket.
Little did these two know, when they met on a girlfriend’s family farm in central Minnesota, a musical journey would ensue in which traditions of folk and soul music could cross pollinate to form Holy Hive.
After enlisting a studio assistant named Joe Harrison to join the band on bass, a sound started to form — warm and pleasant like a riverside camp fire while steady and hypnotizing like a silent night train.
A year-long monthly residency of gigs at Sunny’s Bar in Brooklyn, and a couple years working together in a Queens recording studio amassed into collection of songs musing on love and loss with lyrics inspired by ancient Greek poetry, 19th century Irish ballads, and '60s soul music.
Gathering steady momentum from their spring 2019 Harping EP featuring Mary Lattimore and Sasami and a handful of 45rpm singles, Holy Hive’s debut album Float Back To You is being released on June 19th, 2020 via Big Crown Records.
3. 'Blue Light'
4. 'Oh I Miss Her So '
5. 'Float Back To You'
6. 'Be Thou By My Side'
7. 'Didn't You Say'
8. 'Embers To Ashes'
9. 'Cynthia's Celebration'
10. 'Red Is The Rose'
11. 'You Will Always Be By My Side Forever'
12. 'Sophia's Part'
A melodic, lo-fi drum beat gentle introduces us to the dreamy '60s ambiance of 'Broom,' with the jangly guitar work of 'Hypnosis' (which also has a touch of a Marvin Gaye backbeat at times) and then the drum-led majesty of 'Blue Light' seamlessly following along.
When then get the summer's breeze of 'Oh I Miss Her So,' a track that showcases the vocal range of Spring just perfectly, with the resilient ambiance of the regulated musical heartbeat of the title track, 'Float Back To You' along next.
Some dulcet, yet orchestrated acoustic guitar work is found next in 'Be Thou By My Side' ("I've lived like a baker, but I've loved you like a King"), and that's backed by the funky, almost Motownesque 'Didn't You Say' and then the translucent 'Embers To Ashes.'
The instrumental 'Cynthia's Celebration' is a beautiful track that simply begs to be absorbed, and is backed by the western plains appeal of 'Red Is The Rose,' with the album rounding out with the earnest 'You Will Always Be By My Side Forever,' and coming to a close on the ethereally unwinding 'Sophia's Part.'
Unlike many bands of today, spending time with Holy Hive means you not only get to listen and enjoy their music at first blush, but after a few more listens, their layered musical creations reveal, one and all, a much deeper, and ultimately, profoundly soulful experience.
Official Purchase Links
Holy Hive @ Facebook
Title - 'Look Out Where You're Going'
Artist - Nicole Mercedes
For those not in the know, based out of Brooklyn, Nicole Mercedes is a dream pop multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter who creates a sound that is perfectly pop and haunting all at once.
Collaborating with producer Joe Rogers (Laura Stevenson, Rubblebucket, etc.), and mostly recording in her bedroom, Mercedes has achieved that elusive coexistence of brain-staining tunefulness and hauntingly evocative aura – the stuff of long afternoons gazing through rainy panes, or the throbbing craving for even temporary escape.
On her new album Look Out Where You're Going (releasing June 19th, 2020), the engrossingly artful, dedicatedly ambiance of Nicole's expansive chamber pop gives the listener eight ways to fall in love with her sound (trust me, you'll be head of heels in under three!).
1. 'Last Hike'
7. 'At Ease'
Not one for long song titles, the album kicks off with the esoteric ambiance of 'Last Hike,' and backs that up with the building, echoing and fuzzy electronic bed of drum-led orchestrations that make up 'Filters,' before the first single 'Stoop,' a lush, floating work of musical art weaves its way forward on a bed of luxuriant synths and ghostly guitars.
Next up is the gentle yearning of 'Motel,' which is seamlessly backed by the magnificently atmospheric 'Watering,' and then the lo-fi indie vibe of 'Thumbelina' is brought forth.
This quite amazingly ambient, always gorgeous, and at times even transcendent album then rounds out with the foot-tappin' resonance of 'At Ease, before coming to a close on the raw, acoustic guitar work and vocal sonority of 'Mediterranean.'
Official Purchase Link
Nicole Mercedes @ Facebook
Nicole Mercedes @ Spotify
Nicole Mercedes @ Instagram
Title - 'Brillance Indéniable'
Artist - Alana Youssefian & Le Bien-Aimé
For those not in the know, award-winning baroque violinist Alana Youssefian and her ensemble Le Bien-Aimé have just released their brand new musical showcasing of the brilliant, but seldom-heard French violinist and composer Louis-Gabriel Guillemain.
On the quite magnificent Brillance Indéniable (out April 3rd, 2020 via AVIE Records), Guillemain, who from an early age possessed an above-average amount of precociousness, also went on to serve in the court of King Louis XV.
His symphonies are as uplifting and innovative as his sonatas are astonishingly virtuosic. While his compositions tested the abilities of his contemporaries, his lasting legacy may have been his knack for bridging the baroque and classical styles; seamlessly adapting to shifting tastes in music and art of his time.
Here on Brillance Indéniable, Youssefian, the young, New York-based violinist who is a rather sought-after soloist for baroque, classical, and romantic repertoire, most definitely rises to the challenges of Guillemain's technical demands with ease.
Furthermore, she has been honored with the top prize in The Juilliard Schools Historical Performance Concerto Competition and a coveted fellowship by The English Concert in America.
1-4 'Violin Sonata in B Minor, Op. 1 No. 3' (10:56)
5-6 'Symphony in G Major, Op. 14 No. 6' (12:18)
8-10 'Violin Sonata in C Minor, Op. 1 No. 8' (12:43)
11-13 'Symphony in G Major, Op. 6 No. 1' (10:56)
14-15 'Violin Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 1 No. 6' (9:07)
16-18 'Symphony in E-Flat Major, Op. 14 No. 2' (11:11)
This delightful program brings forth three of Guillemain’s virtuosic Op.1 sonatas with three of his more ostentatious and disarming symphonies, with the works now purposely scored for a trio sonata ensemble.
Opening with the stirring, impassioned, yet diligently, and tightly orchestrated four-parter 'Violin Sonata in B Minor, Op. 1 No. 3,' that is seamlessly followed by the faster, more vibrantly alert three-parter 'Symphony in G Major, Op. 14 No. 6.'
Up next is the structured playfulness of the three-part 'Violin Sonata in C Minor, Op. 1 No. 8' which is backed by my own personal favorite, the three-part ballroom swirl of 'Symphony in G Major, Op. 6.'
This simply magnificently evoking collection of new recordings from Alana Youssefian & Le Bien-Aimé then rounds out with the yearning of the two-part 'Violin Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 1 No. 6' (9:07), before coming to a close on the upbeat flare of the three-parter 'Symphony in E-Flat Major, Op. 14 No. 2.'
Official Brillance Indéniable CD Purchase Link
Title - 'High North' [EP]
Artist - Jakob Magnússon
For those not in the know, Jakob Magnússon is an Icelandic composer, keyboard player, film director and producer.
In Iceland he is best known as the keyboardist and one of the founders of the multi-artistic band Stuðmenn, with which he has so far produced 17 albums (the last being 2017's Astraltertukubbur: Ásgeir Óskarsson).
He has also directed, produced and starred in several films, and released several solo albums with a number of famous jazz musicians from the United States.
For a period of the 1990s he was the cultural attaché of the Icelandic embassy in London and since 2002, aside from playing in Stuðmenn and recording new albums, Magnússon is the co-owner and manager of the advertisement agency Bankastræti in Reykjavík.
Magnússon studied music in California and during his time in the U.S. he started his own band with Carlos Rios (guitar), Steve Anderson (bass) and David Logeman (drums) and released several albums with jazz-influenced music.
On these albums he also involved many talented musicians such as Bill Champlin, Vinnie Colaiuta, Neil Stubenhaus, Abe Laboriel, Ernie Watts, Tom Scott, Peter Banks all of them heavily renowned names in Jazz and Jazz Fusion.
Magnússon has also been a studio musician for a number of American and Icelandic artists, and is known for his distinctive and tasteful keyboard solos and brilliant treatment of the Rhodes piano and various synthesizers.
And so now, as we globally come to terms with an unknown pandemic, Jakob Magnússon has brought forth a brand new EP to soothe our worried souls.
Released this past May 8th, 2020 via Woodward Avenue Records, High North us a five-track, 20 minute musical amalgam of, at times, shimmering and swaying, other times organic and old school, and yet always free flowing and soul-jazz cool hooks and vibes.
1. 'Karlsson's Arrival' (4:27)
2. 'Hook, Line & Sinker' (3:30)
3. 'Caption This' (3:59)
4. 'Reykjavik Romp' (3:38)
5. 'Next To You' (4:11)
Opening this lush five song set - one he wrote with two-time Grammy-winning producer/guitarist Paul Brown - with the euphoric hipsway of 'Karlsson's Arrival,' Magnússon - aka the popular, eminently grooving artist formerly known as "Jack Magnet" - backs that seamlessly up with the finger-snappin' R&B smooth jazz vibe of 'Hook, Line & Sinker'.
Next up is the first single released from the EP, and my own personal favorite, the sleek and silky funk of 'Caption This.' Opening with some gorgeous '70s guitar work from Brown, it's followed by the trumpet-inspired, low-slung groove of 'Reykjavik Romp,' with the EP coming to a close on the soulfully ornate 'Next To You.'
"The title High North refers to my Icelandic origins," Magnússon explains. "I come from what used to be considered the outskirts of the habitable world."
"Iceland used to be seen as a very remote, cold little island somewhere between Moscow and Washington, but thanks to international aviation, telecommunications and social media, it is now more and more seen as the most ideal and desirable location in the whole world."
"Living here gives you a different set of values and the musical life in Iceland has for years been blessed by free musical education for all, the presence of American radio and television networks, and some great American musicians and producers like Paul Brown who have been coming here for years to play and produce local talent. I´ve certainly benefitted from this," he adds.
"We were lucky to have one of the world´s foremost bass players here to lay the foundations with us, jazz-funk maverick Johann Asmundsson," Magnússon continues, "who has provided some of the key elements to the sound of renowned groove-jazzers Mezzoforte.”
As for the major inspiration for the EP opener, 'Karlsson’s Arrival,' he reveals that it's a "... a toss around the musical horn that affords each player the moment to shine by offering clever retorts in response to Magnusson’s deft keyboard calls."
High North was not only created as an international collaboration between the Reykjavik-based Magnússon and the Los Angeles-based Brown, but the utilization of other talented musicians also.
Flugelhorn player Snorri Sigurdsson, trumpeter Ari Bragi Karason and vocalist Ragnhildur Gisladottir are among the Icelandic musicians contributing to the collection with most of the grooves anchored by the Icelandic rhythm section formed by percussionist Lenny Castro, bassist Johann Asmundsson, and drummers Lew Laing and Thor Thorvaldsson.
Amazon Purchase Links
Title - 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World'
Artist - La Lucha
For those not in the know, La Lucha is a Tampa Bay-based trio that consists of three friends from three different parts of the world; Colombia, Mexico & United States.
Their music ventures boldly into a wide variety of musical styles, offering an appealing and fun mix of genres under the jazz umbrella.
Indeed, the combination of their musical versatility and varied musical influences makes for compelling virtuosic performances.
John, Alejandro, and Mark – raised in Mexico, Colombia, and Florida, respectively – met up in a practice room at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, in 2006.
The three were soon best friends, and the musical experiences from their younger years, collectively from punk to heavy metal, salsa to classical, were all grist for the mill as they delved into learning and creating jazz.
Their energies and cultural backgrounds melded, and La Lucha became known for a sound with lots of Latin rhythms, combining jazz and American Songbook standards with their self-described ‘twisted arrangements’ of 80s and 90s pop tunes, and originals by each of the guys.
Here on their brand new album, Everybody Wants To Rule The World, La Lucha (which means 'the fight, or struggle') are joined by, amongst others, all-star musicians Houston Person, Ken Peplowski and Chuck Redd.
1. 'Por La Tarde' (ft. Ken Peplowski & Diego Figueiredo)
2. 'Space Oddity'
3. 'Lullaby of The Leaves/Lullaby of Birdland' (ft. Chuck Redd)
4. 'Blues For Houston Person' (ft. Houston Person & Chuck Redd)
5. '1+2' (ft. Melissa Aldana)
6. 'The Sundering'
7. 'Otra Vez' (ft. Melissa Aldana & Ken Peplowski)
8. 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)' (ft. Ken Peplowski)
9. 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' (ft. Melissa Aldana)
11. 'Dance Dance Dance'
12. 'She's Like The Wind'
13. 'Samba Pra Diego' (ft. Ken Peplowski, Chuck Redd, & Diego Figueiredo)
The band, who view their collective name as a positive reminder to overcome whatever one needs to, including the obstacles found in living with a commitment to an artistic life, kick off this vibrant album with the gradual build to a spirited and lively 'Por La Tarde (featuring jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Ken Peplowski and Grammy nominated Brazilian jazz guitarist Diego Figueiredo) and back that up with both the low-key 'Space Oddity' and then the perky 'Lullaby of The Leaves/Lullaby of Birdland' (featuring jazz drummer and vibraphonist Chuck Redd).
Chuck, along with the titular jazz tenor saxophonist, Houston Person, is back once more on the upbeat vibrancy of 'Blues For Houston Person' and then we get one of my own personal favorites, the late night, smoky underground jazz club vibe of both '1+2' (featuring Chilean tenor saxophonist, Melissa Aldana), and then 'The Sundering.'
The Brazilian samba vibe of 'Otra Vez' (featuring Aldana and Peplowski) is up next and is elegantly followed by the yearningly laid back orchestrations of 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)' (featuring Peplowski), another low key rendition, this time of the title track 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' (featuring Aldana), and then the mid-tempo free flow of 'Lilis.'
This quite magnificent album the rounds out with the foot-tappin' elegance of 'Dance Dance Dance,' the most passionately resonant, soulful rendition of 'She's Like The Wind' that I've ever heard, and then comes to a close with the playful 'Samba Pra Diego' (featuring the trio of Peplowski, Redd, and Figueiredo).
Official Digital Purchase Link
La Lucha @ Facebook
La Lucha @ Twitter
Title - 'Live at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar'
Artist - Tania Grubbs Quintet
For those not in the know, Live at Maureen's Jazz Cellar (released this past January 20th, 2020) was recorded live on May 24th, 2019 at Maureen’s Jazz Cellar in Nyack, NY and marks the premiere of the Live at Maureen's recording series.
Indeed, the venue itself was named in honor of pianist David Budway’s late sister Maureen Budway who was an enormously talented vocalist and a close personal friend of exceptional jazz singer Tania Grubbs.
When world-renowned trumpeter Sean Jones described Tania, he said knowing her has been a joy, “not only because of her skill as an artist but because of her connection to humanity.”
Furthermore, there probably couldn’t be two more perfect words to describe not only Tania but her fascinating, beautiful music: joy and humanity.
Here on this brand new album, Tania went about carefully selecting the songs for this project, spending a great deal of time thinking about the repertoire of music she’d been perfecting over the years.
On this 12 track new album, the Tania Grubbs Quintet features David Budway on piano, Tania’s husband and Pittsburgh Symphony member Jeff Grubbs on bass, Ron Affif on guitar and, James Johnson III on drums.
1. 'A Flower is a Lovesome Thing'
2. 'Bird on a Wire'
5. 'Hope Is the Thing with Feathers'
7. 'The Peacocks'
9. 'Harvest Moon'
10. 'I Remember'
11. 'Wichita Lineman'
12. 'Don’t Take Your Love Away from Me'
In addition to several original compositions, the album kicks off with a spirited rendition of 'A Flower is a Lovesome Thing' (by Pittsburgh’s own Billy Strayhorn), which she backs up seamlessly with the summer breeze appeal of Leonard Cohen’s 'Bird on a Wire' and then some mid-tempo jazzy pop sway found within Joni Mitchell's 'Love.'
The intricate majesty of 'Peace' is then brought forth and that is followed by 'Hope Is the Thing with Feathers,' a nod to Tania's love of poetry and literature, whilst also borrowing the text from Emily Dickinson.
Next up is some stand up bass funk combined with Tania's excellent scat work on 'Ornithology' which is followed by the ornate 'The Peacocks (A Timeless Place),' the exuberant 'Autumn,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites, a quite magnificent version of Neil Young’s 'Harvest Moon.'
The album then rounds out with the delicate 'I Remember,' which is backed by a Julia Fordhamesque cover of Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman,' finally coming to a close with the gently finger-snappin' jauntiness of 'Don't Take Your Love from Me.'
Amazon Purchase Links
Tania Grubbs @ Facebook
Tania Grubbs @ Twitter
Title - 'The Ridge'
Artist - Julian Taylor
For those not in the know, Canadian singer-songwriter, Julian Taylor recently premiered the first title track single from his just-released new album, The Ridge (set for release on CD, vinyl, and via most digital platforms on June 19th, 2020 via Howling Turtle Inc.)
Of West Indian and Mohawk descent, the Toronto music scene staple and a musical chameleon Taylor reveals a myriad of ties through his music, which are showcased to perfection within his previous ten albums in the last two decades; each themselves a dramatic departure from its predecessor.
Here on The Ridge, we get eight tracks that are firmly rooted in folk Americana, all of them lovingly embedded with lush instrumentation and a wilderness-like, Rocky Mountain-evoking ambiance.
1. 'The Ridge'
2. 'Human Race'
3. 'It's Not Enough'
4. 'Over The Moon'
5. 'Ballad of a Young Troubadour'
6. 'Be With You'
7. 'Love Enough'
8. 'Ola, Let's Dance'
The songs on The Ridge (which is itself named after the town Maple Ridge, British Columbia) deal with themes that are especially poignant to Taylor, if not now all of us, given what the world is going through - such as love, loss, and a yearning desire for the human race to prevail against numerous hardships.
Indeed, his lyrics follow a poignant journey of his younger self and as he has grown older, also tries to look at as many silver linings as possible to balance his experiences out.
Kicking things off with the title track, a song that if you close your eyes and allow yourself to drift way to, you'll swear has a certain low slung 'Riders On The Storm' vibe to it, that's backed by the smooth, lo-fi, country porch-livin' majesty of 'Human Race.'
Next up is the stirring guitar work and deep, soulful vocal stance of both 'It's Not Enough' and the harmonious 'Over The Moon,' and then the sweepingly orchestrated, foot-tappin' 'Ballad of a Young Troubadour.'
This rather wonderful new album then rounds out with the gently lo-fi 'Be With You,' then the mid-tempo, percussion-led blues of 'Love Enough,' before coming to an all-too-soon close on the storytelling of time and what it is and what it was, the reality of completeness, and the profound message that we are because of what it is, found within 'Ola, Let's Dance.'
Co-produced by Taylor and longtime collaborator Saam Hashemi, mixed by Hashemi, and mastered by Noah Mintz, The Ridge was recorded at The Woodshed, a Toronto-area studio owned by a Canadian alt-country stalwarts Blue Rodeo.
Album Credits: Vocals, Guitar, Piano - Julian Taylor Drums & Conga - Gene Diabo Bass - Barry Diabo Piano, Dobro Guitar - Derek Downham Pedal Steel - Burke Carroll Percussion - Saam Hashemi Fiddle – Miranda Mullholland Backing Vocals – Sheila Carabine & Amanda Walther (DALA) Cello – Kevin Fox Percussion – and Saam Hashemi.
Official 'The Ridge' Purchase Link
Julian Taylor @ Facebook
Julian Taylor @ Twitter
Julian Taylor @ Instagram
Title - 'San Fernando Beat' [EP]
Artist - Sandy McKnight with Fernando Perdomo
For those not in the know, an in-demand session bassist since the '70s, Sandy McKnight has worked with Todd Rundgren and other top-name artists as a session player.
He's had over 500 songs published, over 200 recorded and covered by various artists, and has produced hundreds of recordings for other artists.
Along with that he has has also written for TV, the stage, and some sketch comedy shows!
Indeed, he is the creator/writer/director of the TV pilot 'The Ragamuffins of Love,' which includes his original music and he also created and produced a TV pilot, 'Perry' (that can still be seen online).
Now the great man brings us his latest musical exploits San Fernando Beat (out March 5th, 2020), a vibrant 6-song EP that also features Fernando Perdomo.
Fernando Perdomo is a powerhouse of the LA music scene who lives and breathes music LA Weekly dubbed him as “The millennial answer to Todd Rundgren.”
A veteran at 37, he has made a name for himself as an in-demand producer, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.
Amongst many other things, he co-produced Linda Perhacs' second album The Soul Of All Natural Things, which holds the record for longest span of time between first and second records (44 years).
1. 'Facing the End of the World'
2. 'Single Flowers'
3. 'Chloe's Gone'
4. 'Heart in Your Hands'
5. 'Any Time of Day'
This most perfect summers day enhancement opens with the pop bounce of the jangling guitar-driven, hook laden 'Facing the End of the World,' and backs that up with the bass guitar-led, unmistakable Elvis Costello-esque brilliance of 'Single Flowers.'
Next up is the '60s gentle pop bounce of 'Chloe's Gone' which they back up with a pinch of the Beatles' psychedelic sensory experiences found within 'Heart in Your Hands.'
Some exuberant '70s light pop fun is found within the free flowing 'Any Time of Day' with the EP coming to a close on the lyrically intriguing, Costello-esque nostalgia of 'Fake.'
Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Beyond Images'
Artist - Jordan Seigel
While Jordan Seigel emerged from Berklee College of Music a decade ago as a promising young jazz pianist, you’re more likely to have heard his music on the big screen than in a jazz club over the intervening years.
Since returning to his native Los Angeles in 2010, Seigel has accumulated a host of impressive credits as a composer and orchestrator for film and television - including work on such high-profile projects as The Twilight Zone, Ant-Man and the Wasp, The LEGO Movie 2, and Empire.
On his vibrant debut album, Beyond Images, he brings his musical worlds together in a vibrant and eclectic collection of original pieces inspired by cinema’s greatest composers.
Due out July 17th, 2020, over the 11 tracks, Beyond Images effortlessly combines the inventiveness and interplay of jazz with a feverish touch that perfectly resonates film-like scoring.
2. 'Something's Up'
3. 'Intro I'
4. 'The Lake House'
5. 'No Chance'
6. 'The Woods'
7. 'The Baker Street Caper'
8. 'Intro II'
9. 'Song For Porter'
10. 'Monkey In the Wilderness'
11. 'The Abyss'
Featuring bassist Alex Boneham (Billy Childs, Sara Gazarek) and drummer Christian Euman (Jacob Collier, Kurt Elling) who use their shared experience at the Monk Institute to piece together the vigorous rhythm section along with saxophonist/flutist Natsuki Sugiyama, a frequent collaborator on Seigel’s film scores, the quartet open with the nostalgic nod to Jon Brion on 'Departure' and back that up seamlessly with both the wily tip of the cap to John Williams on 'Something's Up,' before we glide gently into 'Intro I.'
Next up on this album, where as you might well have guessed by now, each of the eleven new compositions is wholly dedicated to, and inspired by, some of Seigel’s favorite film composers, is the quite magnificent 'The Lake House' (which channels Randy Newman), and that is backed by the layered musical wonderment of 'No Chance' (for Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, and which brings forth an incredible vocal performance from singer-songwriter Keeley Bumford), the mysterious allure of a jazzy Hitchcockesque score within 'The Woods' (albeit for Bernard Herrmann), and then Seigel formulates a heist score underlay reminiscent of the great Henry Mancini for 'The Baker Street Caper.'
After yet another slide into musical euphoria on 'Intro II,' this album, chock full of earnest jazz tones and waves together with genuinely rendered film music aesthetics, rounds out with a loving nod to Ennio Morricone on 'Song For Porter' (although the song was actually named after Seigel's dog), the magnificently embodied heartbeat of Jerry Goldsmith within 'Monkey In The Wilderness,' and then closes out with the exquisite oscillations of 'The Abyss' (Thomas Newman).
Incorporating piano trio, woodwind quintet, string quartet, vocals, vibraphone, guitar, mandolin and percussion in varying, kaleidoscopic combinations, Beyond Images is already one of my Top 10 albums of 2020, and I know, given your own listening experience, it could well be one of yours too.
“I wanted to create music that transports people to another place, the same way that a great movie can do,” Seigel explains. “Film scores have that power; a beautiful song at the right moment can make an entire audience cry or jolt them with an adrenaline rush during a chase scene. I hope to bring that type of emotional reaction to my own music.”
Official Pre-Purchase Links
Jordan Seigel @ Facebook
Jordan Seigel @ YouTube Channel
Title - 'Winterreise'
Artist - Madre Vaca
For those not in the know, based in Jacksonville, FL. Madre Vaca is a collective of artists focused on making creative music whose core members include: Benjamin Shorstein, Jonah Pierre, and Jarrett Carter.
Almost 200 years ago, Franz Schubert was in the throes of a disease that would ultimately claim his life as he penned the gorgeous and haunting song cycle, Winterreise.
Winterreise is a story of a young man who takes leave from the home of his beloved in the middle of the night, in the dead of winter, unlikely to ever see her again.
Arranged for jazz octet, Madre Vaca's interpretation of Winterreise - out June 4th, 2020 via MVR, and pronounced Vin-Tuh-Rize-Uh - is also the German word meaning Winter Journey and magnifies the timelessness and versatility of Schubert's music.
1. 'Good Night' (7:01)
2. 'The Weathervane' (3:54)
3. 'Frozen' (4:23)
4. 'Loneliness' (5:04)
5. 'The Gray Head' (4:34)
6. 'The Crow' (6:55)
7. 'Last Hope' (4:12)
8. 'The Stormy Morning' (3:30)
9. 'The Sun Dogs' (2:24)
10. 'The Hurdy-Gurdy Man' (3:42)
Arranged from 10 of Schubert's 24 songs comprising the Winterreise song cycle and dedicated to Franz Schubert and Nicole Nissim Shorstein, the band open with the highly emotive brilliance of 'Good Night' and back that up with both the perky dancefloor turn of 'The Weathervane' and then the slightly sterner, more precise and dedicated 'Frozen.'
Up next is the gentle Latin hipsway of 'Loneliness' which is followed by the lo-fi, late night piano, smoky jazz club appeal of 'The Gray Head,' the upbeat and melodic wonderment of 'The Crow,' and then the dulcet, yet orchestrated jam session 'Last Hope.'
This quite vibrantly brilliant new album then rounds out with the euphoric jazz swaying of the trumpet-led 'The Stormy Morning,' the quietly, even stoic at times, German-sung to a crisp piano backing 'The Sun Dogs,' before coming to a close with the finger-snappin' jazz and blues elegance of 'The Hurdy-Gurdy Man.'
Juan Rollan – saxophone
Steve Strawley – trumpet
Lance Reed – trombone
Jonah Pierre - piano
Jarrett Carter - guitar
Mike Perez – bass
Benjamin Shorstein – drums
Milan Algood – percussion
Official Purchase Link
Madre Vaca @ Facebook
Title - 'Quatro'
Artist - John Finbury
For those not in the know, John Finbury’s new album Quatro (out June 1st, 2020) premieres new music with broad Latin American and Spanish influences, mixed and matched in an unorthodox fashion.
Alternating vocal and instrumental tracks, the album was produced by Latin Grammy winner Emilio D. Miler, and features Magos Herrera on vocals, Chano Domínguez on piano, John Patitucci on bass, and Antonio Sánchez on drums.
1. 'Llegará El Día' (4:47)
2. 'Independence Day' (4:29)
3. 'La Madre De Todos Los Errores' (5:46)
4. 'All The Way To The End' (6:33)
5. 'Comenzar' (6:06)
6. 'Salón Jardín' (4:27)
7. 'Romp' (6:23)
This visceral, emotional, and heartfelt new album opens with the impassioned and sultry 'Llegará El Día,' which is followed by both the lucid piano work found on 'Independence Day' and then the mercurial 'La Madre De Todos Los Errores.'
Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the English-vocalized 'All The Way To The End,' which in turn is followed by the earthy, upright bass-led 'Comenzar.'
This attractively passionate album then rounds out with the elegant, free flowing piano work of 'Salón Jardín,' coming to a close with the drum led, funky grooves of 'Romp.'
Recorded over two sessions in New York in 2019, Quatro is both a celebration of cultural diversity and immigration, and a condemnation of those who seek restriction based upon prejudice.
Though written and recorded before the world was stunned by a pandemic that has hindered our ability to gather and celebrate, Quatro presents a musical meeting place that strives to bridge that distance, and convey the certainty that we are better together.
Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Acres of Diamonds'
Artist - Anthony Garcia
For those not in the know, based in Austin, TX, Anthony Garcia is a songwriter, guitarist, classically trained pianist and vocalist.
Indeed his style is cinematic Americana, a genre that interweaves songwriting with expanding, quasi orchestral sections.
Furthermore, Garcia’s music mixes a range of influences: Zeppelin and Hendrix; Townes Van Zandt and Leonard Cohen; and haunting violin inspired by J.S. Bach.
On his brand new album, the soon-to-be released Acres of Diamonds (June 25th, 2020), Garcia reveals nine tracks that emote days of yesteryear, combined with dusty folk trails and lo-fi Americana blues.
1. 'Santa Rosa'
2.' Fire Song'
4. 'The Wind'
5. 'Haunted Hotels'
6. 'My Hands Are My Eyes'
7. 'For Your Love'
9. 'Acres of Diamonds'
This ingrained, emotional album opens with the impassioned, wistful and earthy 'Santa Rosa,' which is backed by both the upbeat, gently frenetic 'Fire Song' and then the low-slung guitar work of 'Apparitions' is brought forth.
Next up is the delicately precise, artful and acoustic guitar work of 'The Wind,' which in turn is followed by the imparted, heartfelt empathy of 'Haunted Hotels,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites here, the punchy guitar and drum-led, mid-tempo rocker 'My Hands Are My Eyes.'
The album then rounds out with an elegantly yearning storytelling of love within 'For Your Love,' the nostalgic feel of days gone by on 'Jane,' and then comes to a close on the tender, lo-fi, Americana title track ballad, 'Acres of Diamonds.'
Garcia plays regularly in Austin and the surrounding Texas Hill Country, and expands his route occasionally into West Texas, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Mexico and even Colorado.
He has also toured and continues to tour in Germany, France, Ireland, and most recently, Switzerland.
A four year stint in South Korea as an English teacher allowed Garcia to travel and perform in East and South East Asia as well.
Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Magdalen Accepts the Invitation'
Artist - Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold
For those not in the know, Mark Olson was raised in Minnesota by a family of farmers and teachers and in 1985, he co-founded the Jayhawks, with whom he made five LPs.
Ingunn Ringvold comes from Larvik, Norway, the home of Thor Heyerdahl. She studied the Qanon with Arax, a master musician in Vanadzor, Armenia, where she learned how to harness great strength in her performance style.
This third collaboration between Americana pioneer Olson (Jayhawks) and Norwegian singer/multi-instrumentalist Ringvold, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation mines a Death Valley isolation chamber folk/pop sound awash with dramatic darkness and vivid light.
While continuing along the Americana-cobbled roads they took on their first two albums, the husband-and-wife duo here explore lesser traveled musical territories here.
The album sounds like you are out in the desert all alone, remembering childhood experiences and music and the joy took place.
Says Olson, "The writing of the new music is the desert I long to return to. This valley of sounds is where I really want to be and what takes up the most time in my consciousness."
1. 'Pipestone I Won't Be Back'
2. 'You'll Find the Morning'
3. 'Excelsior Park'
4. 'Christina Hi'
5. 'April in Your Cloud Garden'
6. '31 Patience Games'
7. 'Children of the Streetcar'
8. 'Silent Mary'
9. 'Elmira's Fountain'
10. 'Black Locust'
This new, and original 10-track album - which was done on a Nagra field recorder, which further enhances the albums unvarnished sonic textures - opens with the lo-fi Americana of 'Pipestone I Won't Be Back' (named after Pipestone Minnesota, a town made of Sioux Quartzite buildings), and backs that up seamlessly with both the early '70s jangly pop of 'You'll Find the Morning' and the hippyesque-vibe of 'Excelsior Park' (named after the old amusement park on Lake Minnetonka).
Next up is the free flowing majesty of 'Christina Hi' which is followed by more '70s-esque melodies found within 'April in Your Cloud Garden,' the gentle ebb and flow of '31 Patience Games' (written in South Africa where Mark and Ingunn were married), and the absolutely magnificent, summers breeze ambiance of 'Children of the Streetcar.'
On an album where Olson did all the analog engineering whilst Ringvold did the digital aspects, this music gorgeous music continues onward with the piano-led 'Silent Mary,' the perfectly married harmonies of 'Elmira's Fountain' (a song begun in Vanadzor, Armenia about a real fountain where the couple met their host, Elmira), and then comes to a close on the lo-fi folk Americana of 'Black Locust' (named after Black Locust tree seeds).
Mark and Ingunn live now in the California desert, and they tour off and on internationally almost every year.
Official CD, Vinyl LP and Digital Purchase Links
Mark Olson @ Facebook
Title - 'Last Call: Live at The Music Box'
Artist - The Choir
For those not in the know, in 2018, when Omnivore Recordings released The Choir’s first full length platter in the group’s history, no one knew what impact the release of that recording would have.
Indeed, the group, in its many different manifestations during the '60s, had released several singles, including a Top 10 smash ('It’s Cold Outside') in the group’s hometown of Cleveland.
The song would reach #68 on the Billboard national charts, but the garage rock band whose many different members went on to form other important bands like Raspberries and James Gang, had never made an album of their own before, just assorted singles from 1966–1968.
So 50 years on, when the tapes of an aborted album were found, mixed and released as Artifact: The Unreleased Album to unanimous critical acclaim, the 1968 version of The Choir suddenly found itself back in the limelight with a decision to make.
Would they choose to reclaim their vision and perform live, back where they came from, the home of rock ’n’ roll, Cleveland, Ohio. Or would they continue to languish in the annals of music folklore?
Choosing the former option, Omnivore Recordings has just released (May 29th, 2020) Last Call: Live At The Music Box, The Choir’s 50th anniversary performance captured live at Cleveland’s Music Box the night of September 20th, 2019.
1. 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale'
2. 'Anyway I Can'
3. 'Love Really Changed Me'
5. 'Shine On Brightly'
6. 'I Can't Stay In Your Life'
7. 'That's The Way God Planned It'
8. 'Boris' Lament'
9. 'What About You'
10. Have I No Love To Offer'
Opening with a stirring, if not sub-Gothic rendition of Procol Harum's majestic 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale,' they move seamlessly onward with the drum-led, mid-tempo rocker 'Anyway I Can,' a euphoric cover of Spooky Tooth's 'Love Really Changed Me,' and both the AOR of 'Ladybug' and another Procol Harum cover, this time the prog rock of 'Shine On Brightly.'
The late '70s upbeat pop vibe of 'Can't Stay In Your Life' is then backed by the Billy Preston classic 'That's The Way God Planned It' (although some words are changed, for whatever reason), and then both their 1994 hit 'Boris' Lament' and then the Blues swagger of 'What About You.'
This jam packed first disc then rounds out with the heartfelt yearning of 'Have I No Love To Offer' and comes to a close on the harmonious Hammond organ-driven 'America.'
2. 'If There Are Men'
3. 'David Watts'
4. 'It's All Over'
5. 'Mummer Band'
6. 'For Eric'
7. 'Salty Dog'
8. 'Good Times'
9. 'MacArthur Park'
10. 'It's Cold Outside'
12. 'Ramblin' Gamblin' Man'
The second disc opens with the pop rocker 'Kaleidoscope' which is followed by the tunefully free flowing 'If These Are Men,' a cover of The Kinks' infamous 'David Watts,' and then both the lo-fi piano ballad 'It's All Over,' and then the foot-tappin' ode to joy 'Mummer Band.'
Next we get the artful piano work found within 'For Eric,' which is backed by another Procol Harum track, their magnificent 1969 'A Salty Dog,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites, 'Good Times' (aka 'Gonna Have a Good Time'); a song by the Easybeats, originally released as a single in Australia in 1968.
A memorable version of Jimmy Webb's wondrous 'MacArthur Park' (made famous by both Richard Harris and Donna Summer) is next and is followed by a lo-fi rearrangement of their own hit 'It's Cold Outside' -- to reflect the current musical makeup of the group which includes Ken Margolis (keyboards), Phil Giallombardo (organ), Randy Klawon (guitars), Denny Carleton (bass) and Jim Bonfanti (drums) -- with the album closing on the last of their Procol Harum covers, this time their 1974 'Conquistador,' wrapping up with a thunderous Bob Seger tribute on 'Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.'
Official Purchase Links
The Choir 'Last Call' Music Trailer
Title - 'Orange Crate Art' [2CD]
Artist - Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks
For those not in the know, in 1966, when Brian Wilson prepared the follow up to his masterpiece Pet Sounds, he employed the services of Mississippi born Van Dyke Parks as lyricist for The Beach Boys next album, SMiLE.
As history would soon document, SMiLE became the most famous unreleased album in rock history, it’s “completion” not seeing daylight until a Grammy®-award winning box set in 2012.
SMiLE’s original plan was to incorporate many different elements of American music in an avant-garde fashion, its musical format leaps and bounds ahead of anything that existed contemporaneously.
As SMiLE quickly grew in legendary terms, Brian and Van Dyke each went their separate musical ways, only to reunite briefly in 1972 for The Beach Boys classic 'Sail On Sailor.'
So it was perhaps with great apprehension and excitement that these two musical giants should finally reunite in 1994 for some unfinished business.
This time, however, the mission would be complete. The musical terrain familiar - a paean to California - Omnivore Recordings has just released (June 19th, 2020) the 25th anniversary special edition of Orange Crate Art by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks.
By 1994, the roles had been reversed and it was Van Dyke who coaxed Brian into the studio to be the singer of nearly a dozen new songs he had written as a tribute to his home away from home.
Parks writes in the liner notes, “Though my roots are somewhere else, far away, my limbs are here in Southern California (for) it's here that I have struggled desperately for a sense of place."
Orange Crate Art is a continuum of that which stood, freeze-frame, at the release of SMiLE.
Twenty-five years on, this album which sounds like nothing before or since, has been majestically re-mastered by multi-Grammy® award winner Michael Graves.
1. 'Orange Crate Art'
2. 'Sail Away'
3. 'My Hobo Heart'
4. 'Palm Tree and Moon'
5. 'Wings of a Dove'
6. 'Summer in Monterey'
7. 'San Francisco'
8. 'Hold Back Time'
9. 'My Jeanine'
10. 'Movies Is Magic'
11. 'This Town Goes Down at Sunset'
13. 'Rhapsody In Blue' (Outtake)
14. 'Our Love Is Here To Stay' (Outtake)
15. 'What A Wonderful World' (Outtake)
The first disc opens with the lush, harmonious magnificence of the title track and that is backed by the finger-snappin' melodies of 'Sail Away,' the mid-tempo pop of 'My Hobo Heart,' and then the summers breezes of both 'Wings of a Dove' and the magnificent 'Palm Tree and Moon.'
The beautiful 'Summer in Monterey' is followed by the early '70s pop sensibilities of 'San Francisco,' then comes the gentle hipsway of 'Hold Back Time,' and then the melodious, Appalachia love song, 'My Jeanine.'
With people down the years having incorrectly assumed that because Brian Wilson's name is listed first, this is a Brian Wilson album -- it really isn't -- Van Dyke Parks ensures throughout to make it his own, sure, especially during the snatches of Americana in words and melody, but its the harmonizing from Brian Wilson that truly brings the songs together.
Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the sweet-sounding, shoulder dip and sway of 'Movies Is Magic,' with the original album rounding out with the storytelling of 'This Town Goes Down at Sunset,' and closing on the stirring arrangements of the longest track, the simply divine orchestrations of 'Lullaby.'
Complete now with outtakes of 'Rhapsody In Blue,' 'Our Love Is Here To Stay' and 'What A Wonderful World,' and with the second disc housing a generous collection of eleven instrumental versions, this is finally the ultimate edition of Orange Crate Art that their fans have been collectively waiting for.
1. 'Orange Crate Art' (Instrumental)
2. 'Sail Away' (Instrumental)
3. 'My Hobo Heart' (Instrumental)
4. 'Wings of a Dove' (Instrumental)
5. 'Palm Tree and Moon' (Instrumental)
6. 'Summer in Monterey' (Instrumental)
7. 'San Francisco' (Instrumental)
8. 'Hold Back Time' (Instrumental)
9. 'My Jeanine' (Instrumental)
10. 'Movies Is Magic' (Instrumental)
11. 'This Town Goes Down at Sunset' (Instrumental)
Orange Crate Art is available on vinyl for the very first time and the deluxe CD package contains three previously-unreleased bonus tracks as well as instrumental track versions of 11 of the album’s songs.
Official Purchase Links
Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks 'Orange Crate Art' Music Trailer
Title - 4 Newly Expanded CDs from The Staple Singers!
Artist - The Staple Singers
For those not in the know, Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award recipients and Rock & Roll and Gospel Hall of Fame inductees The Staple Singers are an American musical treasure.
In the ’50s, The Staple Singers were among the greatest of the post-war gospel groups. The ’60s found them recording for a variety of labels like Vee-Jay, Riverside, Epic, and ultimately Stax, pioneering the “soul-folk” sound.
By the end of the decade they were soul music superstars, with hits like 'I Know a Place' and 'I’ll Take You There.'
During the ’70s, they had 13 singles on the U.S. Pop chart and 20 on the U.S. R&B chart.
Besides recording, touring and chasing songs up the charts, the group also found time to not only appear in music-related motion pictures like Wattstax (1972) and The Band’s The Last Waltz (1976), but they also contributed to the Sidney Poitier-directed film soundtrack Let’s Do It Again, with music produced by Curtis Mayfield.
This, their first post-Stax effort, sent the title track, 'Let’s Do It Again,' to the number one spot on both the Pop and R&B charts.
Though the hits slowed after the mid-’70s, the Staples did have a #5 dance chart hit with a cover of the Talking Heads’ song 'Slippery People' in 1984.
Mavis Staples had been releasing solo albums dating back to 1969’s self-titled effort on Stax, but started to pick up the release tempo and carry the family business forward with a pair of albums for the Paisley Park label under the direction of Prince in 1989 and 1993.
She continues performing and releasing albums on Anti- Records to this day, working with artists and producers Ry Cooder, Jeff Tweedy, Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, and Ben Harper, among others.
The always-wondrous Omnivore Recordings will reissue four 1970s released by the group — the Curtis Mayfield-produced Let’s Do It Again soundtrack and Pass It On on June 5th, 2020, and then Family Tree, produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, and Unlock Your Mind, produced by Chicago soul giant Eugene Record, on June 26th, 2020.
Pass It On: Expanded Edition (1976)
1. 'The Real Thing Inside of Me / Party'
2. 'Take Your Own Time'
3. 'Sweeter Than The Sweet'
4. 'Love Me, Love Me, Love Me'
5. 'Pass It On'
6. 'Making Love'
7. 'Take This Love of Mine'
8. 'Precious, Precious'
9. 'Sweeter Than The Sweet' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
10. 'Love Me, Love Me, Love Me' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
As I'm sure we all are fully aware, The Staples Singers have been making religious and secular music albums for a long time. As aforementioned, they got a few national hits out of Memphis with Stax records, but their finest albums were recorded in Chicago.
Freedom Highway on Columbia/Epic and the two Curtis Mayfield productions Let's Do It Again and this record, Pass It On are of The Staples' very best work, in my humble opinion.
This particular recording possesses all of the elements of soul starting with compositions and guitar accompaniment of Curtis Mayfield with Pops, Mavis and the Staples family singing with carefree abandon.
The band, including Phil Upchurch, Lucky Scott and Master Henry Gibson burn on every track making sure that Pass It On has gone down as containing some real top shelf soul tracks.
In his liner notes, Grammy®-Award winning writer (and Stax musicologist) Rob Bowman sets the scene for Pass It On's reissue: “Basking in the glow of the tremendous acclaim for their first post-Stax album, the Curtis Mayfield-produced Let’s Do It Again, both The Staple Singers and their record company had every reason to believe that they could count on substantive commercial success for the foreseeable future."
“In early summer 1976, Pops, Mavis, Cleotha, and Yvonne were once again ensconced at Mayfield’s Curtom Studios in Chicago. As was the case with Let’s Do It Again, backing was provided by the crack Curtom house band: Mayfield himself, handling the lead guitar chores, with Phil Upchurch and Gary Thompson playing rhythm guitar, Joseph ‘Lucky’ Scott holding down the bass chair, Master Henry 3 Gibson conjuring up his supernaturally funky conga and bongo parts, the trap drum kit split between Quinton Joseph and Donelle Hagen, with Rich Tufo playing keys and crafting the arrangements."
'Pass It On: Expanded Edition' CD Official Purchase Link
Let’s Do It Again: Expanded Edition (1975)
1. 'Let's Do It Again'
2. 'Funky Love'
3. 'A Whole Lot of Love'
4. 'New Orleans'
5. 'I Want to Thank You'
6. 'Big Mac'
7. 'After Sex'
9. 'This Train' (Controllers) [Bonus Track]
10. 'You Ain't Fooling Me' (Controllers) [Bonus Track]
11. 'Somebody's Gotta Win' (Controllers) [Bonus Track]
This Curtis Mayfield-penned and The Staple Singers-performed soundtrack to the highly successful 1975 comedy film starring Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby and Jimmie Walker spawned a hit #1 song in the title track (on both the R&B and Pop charts) with Gil Askey and Rich Tufo both being responsible for the arrangements.
As Stax neared bankruptcy, The Staples signed with Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label for this soundtrack album and, as aforementioned, the title track was a #1 hit with 'New Orleans' reaching #70 -- returning The Staples to the upper echelons of the charts for the last time.
Let’s Do It Again, the movie, was a big hit, too. It was a blaxploitation buddy comedy, the second of three from director Sidney Poitier.
Poitier teamed up with the Bill Cosby and the two played clueless everyman husbands attempted to pull off a big con by fixing a boxing match.
Jimmie Walker, already making a name for himself on Good Times, plays the hopeless boxer Bootney Farnsworth, and Poitier and Cosby turn him into a contender by hypnotizing him. Calvin Lockhart plays a crime boss named Biggie Smalls; that’s where the name comes from.
In his liner notes for Let’s Do It Again, Bowman explains: “Soundtrack albums are a genre unto themselves. They often contain a great title song, but commonly the bulk of the material on these albums are extended versions of instrumental bits that were written to serve the visual narrative of the film rather than to be listened to repeatedly unto themselves."
"In the case of Let’s Do It Again, the title track, ‘New Orleans’ and the soul nourishing melody and groove of ‘I Want To Thank You’ make this particular soundtrack an absolutely essential part of The Staple Stingers’ oeuvre. When it was originally released, the album reached #5 on the R&B album charts and #20 on the pop charts.”
'Let's Do It Again: Expanded Edition' CD Official Purchase Link
Family Tree: Expanded Edition< (1977)
1. 'Family Tree'
2. 'What You Doing Tonight'
3. 'See A Little Further (Than My Bed)'
4. 'I Honestly Love You'
5. 'Hang Loose'
6. 'Let's Go To The Disco'
7. 'Color Me Higher'
8. 'Boogie For The Blues'
9. 'I Honestly Love You' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
10. 'Let's Go To The Disco' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
I mean, and straight off the bat, the way Mavis does 'I Honestly Love You,' making it her own, to this day, well, in my humble opinion, no one has come close to her style or delivery!
So if you hadn't guessed already, Family Tree returned the group to a more familiar Staples sound. Once again, Pop is heard, and Cleo and Yvonne are upfront of the mix with Mavis.
Eugene Record's production of the album - featuring strong vocal and rhythm tracks - captures the energy in The Staples' performance. Tracks such as 'Boogie For The Blues' and 'Let's Go To The Disco' - two of the best songs on the album - were written by Aretha's sister Carolyn Franklin.
Let's Go to the Disco' has the fastest bassline in town, and the strings make Van McCoy sound plain, so whilst The Staples' message may not be very substantial, the sound is still good.
In his liner notes for Family Tree, Bowman explains: "For Family Tree, the decision was made to hire a very different Chicago-based producer and songwriter, Eugene Record."
"Record had come to fame in the early 1970s with the Chi-Lites, co-writing and singing lead on a string of hits including ‘Have You Seen Her,’ ‘Oh Girl’ and ‘(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People'."
"When the Chi-Lites’ label, Brunswick Records, ran into financial difficulty in 1975, Record opted to go solo and signed a four-album deal with Warner Bros., the same label that The Staple Singers were signed to.”
'Family Tree: Expanded Edition' CD Official Purchase Link
Unlock Your Mind: Expanded Edition (1979)
1. 'Chica Boom'
2. 'Don't Burn Me'
3. '(Shu-Doo-Pa-Poo-Poop) Love Being with a Fool'
4. 'Show Down'
5. 'Unlock Your Mind'
6. 'Handwriting on the Wall'
7. 'Mystery Train'
8. 'Leave It All Up to Love'
9. 'I Want You to Dance'
10. 'God Can'
11. 'Chica Boom' (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
Featuring two songs by American funk and soul singer/songwriter Paul Kelly, a cult favorite, and a personal vocal hero of mine, Kelly should have gotten The Staples to sing more of his tunes because they sound better interpreting them than he does!
Kelly's 'God Can' and 'Don't Burn Me,' benefit from the singing and recording technique because, in all truth (sorry), Kelly's own recordings sounded like he cut them in a closet!
The productions by Jerry Wexler and Barry Becket are first-class but the material is third-rate, in truth (again, sorry). Other than the two Paul Kelly songs, 'Leave It All Up to Love,' and the percolating 'Chica Boom,' there's not much else to get excited for on their one before last album.
The album was produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett, aside from those other songs, there isn’t a whole lot happening with this one, but it has a nice, even pop/gospel flow to it and for that alone, it's worthy of a delightful reissue.
In his liner notes for the Unclock Your Mind reissue, Bowman writes: "As the sun rose on January 1st, 1978, The Staple Singers were struggling to stay relevant."
"Over the past quarter century the group had risen through the ranks of the gospel world, single-handily founded the sub-genre soul folk and had become soul music superstars when they recorded for Stax Records in the first half of the 1970s."
"After Stax encountered financial trouble leading to eventual bankruptcy, the Staples signed a three-album deal with Warner Bros. The new arrangement got off to a great start with the group’s first post-Stax single, the Curtis Mayfield written and produced ‘Let’s Do It Again,’ topping the charts in late 1975."
"Since then the Staples had recorded a second album with Mayfield, 1976’s Pass It On, and a third Warner Bros. album produced by former Chi-Lite Eugene Record, 1977’s Family Tree."
"With each new release, the group found themselves slipping further and further down the R&B charts while missing the pop charts altogether. A radical solution was called for."
All these new editions feature liner notes from Grammy®-Award winning author, Rob Bowman and add all single edits issued for the album as bonus tracks.
The reissues are produced and remastered by Grammy®-winners, Cheryl Pawelski and Michael Graves respectively, and include photos and ephemera in the booklets.
'Unlock Your Mind: Expanded Edition' CD Official Purchase Link
Title - 'Pure Tango'
Artist - Julio Botti
In late 2017, maestro Julio Botti was introduced to pianist Matias Lanfranco in Botti's hometown of Bell Ville, which is about 200 kilometers south of Cordoba.
It was there that they performed a few tunes together, clicking instantly.
Lanfranco hails from a more traditional tango tradition that features folkloric music, whereas Botti integrates modern jazz and nuevo tango. Yet they blended seamlessly.
Their music caught the attention of many in the audience, which led to the duo performing at the Teatro Coliseo in Argentina on September 8th, 2018.
The concert was a sold out giant success, but it was also a somber event. "I realized that it would likely be the last concert that my mother would witness," said Botti.
His mother who had struggled valiantly against cancer was experiencing an advancement of the illness. Tragically and sadly, she passed away just four months after the concert.
Wanting to pay tribute and honor his mother, Botti knew what he had to do: record an album that featured music from that seminal concert, the last one where she heard her virtuoso son perform.
Botti and Lanfranco poured themselves into selecting the repertoire and crafting sophisticated arrangements. Lanfranco came to New York to record the set, first tracking saxophone and piano, and later the rest of the instruments and vocals in Cordoba, Argentina.
"I'm very happy with how the album turned out," said Botti, who also commended Lanfranco for his remarkable professionalism and for demonstrating maturity beyond his years. "This production is a new path for me, celebrating traditional tango, music which I had never performed, but was always somewhere within me."
Ergo, Pure Tango is a blend between the vivid colors that traditional tango offers, with its traditional instrumentation and the compelling sound of Botti’s saxophone.
He brings rich experience to his performances, as he phrases and interprets the melodies with dexterity and elegance.
This vibrant new album balances fresh and modern without losing the vintage sound of the old guard of tango rhythms, arrangements, and repertoire.
1. 'Taquito Militar' (3:11)
2. 'Cualquiera De Estas Noches' (3:48)
3. 'El Día Que Me Quieras' (4:44)
4. 'Cuando Llueve' (4:53)
5. 'El Último Café' (3:54)
6. 'Oro Y Plata' (3:54)
7. 'Nostalgias' (4:46)
8. 'Zamba Del Chaguanco' (4:31)
9. 'Una Canción' (4:21)
10 'Recordando' (5:24)
11. 'Nunca Tuvo Novio' (4:43)
Opening with the perky piano and sax melodies of 'Taquito Militar' (which, as most all do, features Leonardo Pedrozo Avila on bass), up next is the more elegantly profound 'Cualquiera De Estas Noches' (featuring vocals from María Jose Rojas and Valeria Martín on violin), the artistic charm of 'El Día Que Me Quieras,' and then both Gustavo Gancedo's Spanish guitar-led 'Cuando Llueve,' and the passion of 'El Último Café' are brought forth (the latter, once again featuring the lush vocals of Rojas).
The upbeat and funky 'Oro Y Plata' (featuring Silvia Lallana on vocals and Federico Seimandi on bass) is next and that's backed by the yearning of 'Nostalgias' (featuring Alejandro Colombatti on bandoneon), which in turn is followed by the expressive 'Zamba Del Chaguanco' (again featuring vocals from Lallana, with Gancedo on guitar, and Mario Gusso on percussions).
This delightful album then rounds out with the soulfully ardent 'Una Canción' (featuring vocals from Rojas), the wistful 'Recordando' (featuring Qunitino Cinalli on percussion), and then comes to a close with the lo-fi masterpiece, 'Nunca Tuvo Novio.'
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Julio Botti @ Facebook
Title - 'Bluesville'
Artist - Swingadelic
For those not in the know, on their fourth ZOHO CD release, Bluesville, NY City's premier swing orchestra gives the unique Swingadelic treatment to 12 vintage big band blues of Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, Count Basie, Ray Charles and others, and two band member originals.
Swingadelic began in 1998 as the neo-swing movement was cresting. Upright bassist Dave Post gathered his jazz & blues playing friends together to play engagements at New York City's Supper Club, Swing 46 and Windows On The World, the former restaurant atop of the World Trade Center.
As the swing scene waned the band was able to turn to swing dance groups, concerts, festivals, schools and private engagements to keep active.
The band plays about 100 dates per year and has traveled from Maine to Atlanta and has maintained a residency for eight years at Swing 46 in NYC - where it performs every other Monday as a ten piece "little big band."
Celebrating their 22nd Anniversary this May with the release of their 8th album, the aforementioned Bluesville the band that has been recording for the ZOHO Music label since 2011 now unleash 14 tracks that are sure to get both your heart and feet pumping!
1. 'The Late, Late Show' (Vocal)
2. 'I Love The Life I Live'
3. 'Harlem Nocturne'
4. 'Mary Ann'
5. 'What's Your Story, Morning Glory'
6. 'Parchman Farm'
7. 'Lonely Avenue'
8. 'El Blues Eas Mujer'
9. 'I Don't Know'
10. 'Riff’n on McGriff’n'
11. 'Fool's Paradise'
12. 'The Mooche'
13. 'You're Humbuggin' Me'
14. 'The Late Late Show' (Instrumental)
Opening with the finger-snappin' delight, and definitive nod toward the great Count Basie Orchestra on 'The Late, Late Show' (sung by John Bauers with Bryan Davis on the trumpet solo), they back that up seamlessly with both the blues shuffle of 'I Love The Life I Live' (sung by Neal Pawley, with Bill Easley on sax and Kyle Koehler on the Hammond B3 organ), and then the lush, lo-fi orchestrations of 'Harlem Nocturne' (featuring Audrey Welber on alto and Boo Reiners wailing on lap steel, on this classic Earle Hagen arrangement).
Next we get a loving rendition of Ray Charles' 'Mary Ann' (featuring Bauers on vocals), which is followed by one of my all-time Ella Fitzgerald songs, the sexy blues of 'What’s Your Story, Morning Glory' (sung here by Vanessa Perea).
Then we get another stand out cut in the form of Mose Allison’s 'Parchment Farm' (sung by Mitch Woods, with Andy Riedel on guitar and Philly's Jimmy Coleman on drums), and that is backed by another Ray Charles hit 'Lonely Avenue' (featuring Bauers on vocals, a bari sax solo by John DiSanto, and Koehler on organ).
Another track done to perfection is up next and is one where the worlds of blues and pop collide. With the blues inspired by Danish Latin Jazz vibes player Cal Tjader, and the master of pop, Quincy Jones also standing loud and proud, and with guitar by Joe Taino and trombone by Alex Jeun, 'El Blues Esa Mujer' is a hip shakin', right royal beauty, that's for sure.
The sultry R&B, smoky jazz club vibe of 'I Don’t Know' featuring Ruth Brown, the original vocalist on this Brook Benton tune, is then followed by the funky guitar work on 'Riff’n on McGriff’n' from Riedel (which also features Koehler on organ), and then the lowbrow yearning of Charles Brown's 'Fool's Paradise' (with vocals again from Bauers).
This quite magnificent, stunningly observant and dedicated to its artful cause album then rounds out with Duke Ellington's infamous 1928 hit 'The Mooch' (featuring solos by Ken Robinson on clarinet, Reiners on guitar and Carlos Francis on trumpet), Lefty Frizzell's upbeat 'You’re Humbuggin’ Me' (sung by Riedel with Pawley on trombone), and then comes to a close on the so-nice-they-did-it-twice, 'The Late, Late Show' (instrumental).
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Title - 'I Wish I Knew'
Artist - Susie Meissner
For those not in the know, a major jazz and swing singer, Susie Meissner always seems to have a smile in her voice.
In addition to her very appealing tone and impeccable musicianship, the enthusiasm that she displays when she performs is infectious.
She always swings and is an excellent improviser yet the lyrics that she interprets are especially important to her. “When I perform a song,” says Susie, “I want to express the emotions of the words, so the listener is experiencing the lyrics the way that the writer intended. I’m never casual about the lyrics.”
Her skill at reviving and revitalizing classic songs is very much in evidence throughout her recordings.
Susie’s fourth CD, I Wish I Knew (out July 17th, 2020, via Lydian Jazz Records) is the singer’s second release featuring a stellar group of Philly-based musicians: trumpeter John Swana, saxophonist Larry McKenna, bassist Lee Smith and drummer Byron Landham.
In addition, Meissner invited some longtime collaborators from outside Philadelphia: pianist/arranger John Shaddy, guitarist Paul Meyers and master clarinetist Ken Peplowski.
1. 'The Great City'
2. 'I Wish I Knew'
3. 'It Could Happen to You'
4. 'I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face'
7. 'Hello Young Lovers'
8. 'The Shadow of Your Smile'
9. 'Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye'
10. 'In a Mellow Time'
11. 'You Go to My Head'
12. 'The Party's Over'
Opening with the robust, yet refined swing of 'This Great City,' itself an homage to New York by Curtis Lewis, for my money the album just gets better and better throughout its wondrous collection of 12 new recordings.
Obviously comfortable at any tempo, next up is the dulcet piano lullaby title track, complete with saxophone from McKenna, 'I Wish I Knew,' which is backed seamlessly by the calmly collected 'It Could Happen to You' (Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Burke), the beautiful cut from the 1956 musical My Fair Lady, 'I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face,' and both the gentle hipsway of 'Pionciana' (Nat Simon with lyrics by Buddy Bernier), and a stunning seven minute rendition of the stirring Burt Bacharach and Hal David track 'Alfie.'
From the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I, we then get a simply magnificent 'Hello Young Lovers,' 'The Shadow of Your Smile' (better known as the Love Theme from The Sandpiper), before another stand out cut, the timeless Cole Porter ballad 'Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye' (which, once again, features McKenna on saxophone).
This quite purposely heartfelt, and emotively passionate album then rounds out with the Duke Ellington-composed 'In a Mellow Time,' the J. Fred Coots with lyrics by Haven Gillespie musical wonderment of 'You Go to My Head,' before finally coming to a triumphant close, and one highlighted by an enthralling bass solo by Smith, on 'The Party's Over' (first introduced in the 1956 musical comedy Bells Are Ringing by Judy Holliday).
Susie Meissner @ Spotify
Susie Meissner @ Apple Music
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Susie Meissner @ YouTube
Title - 'Self Control: Expanded Edition' [2CD]
Artist - Laura Branigan
For those not in the know, Laura Branigan (July 3rd, 1952 – August 26th, 2004) was an American singer, songwriter, and actress.
Her signature song, the platinum-certified 1982 single 'Gloria', stayed on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 36 weeks, then a record for a female artist, peaking at #2 (it also reached #1 in Australia and Canada).
In 1984, she reached #1 in Canada and Germany with the U.S. #4 hit 'Self Control' and she also had further success in the United Kingdom with both 'Gloria' and 'Self Control' making the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
Seeing her greatest level of success in the 1980s, Branigan's other singles included the Top 10 hit 'Solitaire' (1983), the U.S. AC chart #1 'How Am I Supposed to Live Without You' (1983), the Australian #2 hit 'Ti amo' (1984), and 'The Power of Love' (1987).
She also contributed songs to motion picture and television soundtracks, including the Grammy and Academy Award-winning Flashdance soundtrack (1983), and the Ghostbusters soundtrack (1984).
In 1985, she won the Tokyo Music Festival with the song 'The Lucky One', but her chart success began to wane as the decade closed and after her last two albums -- Laura Branigan (1990) and Over My Heart (1993) -- garnered little attention, she generally retired from public life for the rest of the 1990s.
She began returning to performing in the early 2000s, most notably appearing as Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical Love, Janis, but sadly, and as she was recording new music and preparing a comeback to the music industry, she died at her home in August 2004 from a previously undiagnosed cerebral aneurysm.
Indeed, with her most successful album being 1984's platinum-selling Self Control, Cherry Pop UK have just released a quite wondrous new 2CD Expanded Edition of her third studio album.
Self Control was released, I kid you not, on April 1st, 1984, by Atlantic Records. The album peaked at #23 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Internationally, it charted within the top five in several continental European countries.
1. 'The Lucky One'
2. 'Self Control'
3. 'Ti Amo'
5. 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow'
7. 'Silent Partners'
8. 'Breaking Out'
9. 'Take Me'
10. 'With Every Beat of My Heart'
Disc One features the original Self Control album that was released in April 1984. Recorded in Los Angeles and Munich with production by Jack White and Robbie Buchanan it also features renowned musicians such as Harold Faltermeyer (synthesizers), John Robinson (drums), Paul Jackson Jr. (guitar), Nathan East (bass) and Michael Landau (guitar).
This album, and one that I've always had a soft spot for growing up in the UK, opens with the fun, mid-'80s Steinman-esque pop bounce of 'The Lucky One' (and where the video showed off Branigan's horse riding abilities) and that's backed by the lush, gentle pop hipsway of Branigan's cover version of Raf's 'Self Control'.
Next up is her cover of Umberto Tozzi's mid-tempo ballad 'Ti Amo' which is itself followed by the synth and drum-led bass line of 'Heart,' the yearning magnificence of the Gerry Goffin and Carole King beauty 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' and then the synth-laden 'Satisfaction.'
The piano and percussion-orchestrated ballad (complete with wailing guitar break) 'Silent Partners' is then backed by the frenetic workout duo of both 'Breaking Out' and 'Take Me,' with the original album rounding out with Branigan showcasing her husky vocal tones to pure perfection on the euphoric 'With Every Beat of My Heart.'
1. 'Self Control' (Extended Version)
2. 'Self Control' (Edit)
3. 'Self Control' (Classic Summer Mix 1992)
4. 'Self Control' (117 BPM Club 1992)
5. 'The Lucky One' (Single Version)
6. 'The Lucky One' (Jack White Mix)
7. 'The Lucky One' (John Robie Mix)
8. 'Satisfaction' (Single Version)
9. 'Satisfaction' (Special Dance Mix)
10. 'When' (Single Version)
11. 'Hot Night' (From "Ghostbusters" Original Soundtrack)
Disc Two features all the related bonus material of Laura Branigan from this period. There are four (4) versions of her international hit, ‘Self Control’ (inclusive of two remixes of the track dating back to a German re-release of the track in 1992), with her follow up single 'The Lucky One' being featured three (3) times.
There are also two (2) versions of ‘Satisfaction’, with the track before last, the Branigan-written 'When' (Single Version) being a magnificent, if not at times haunting mid-tempo ballad that aches and yearns for her rhetorical question to be answered.
Culminating with the synth pop delight 'Hot Night' from the Ghostbusters soundtrack, Disc Two packs in a lot of various mixes of only three songs which, sure, for fans they are all rather lovely to hear even today, but in some cases, a little overkill at the same time.
This 2CD expanded edition features the original album artwork, extensive sleeve notes and a comprehensive UK Discography and is the most comprehensive collection of this period of her career.
Laura Branigan released seven studio albums for Atlantic Records spanning 1982-1993 enjoying considerable domestic and international success.
Official 2CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Chaos Islands'
Artist - Zanov
For those not in the know, electronic music composer and synthesizer virtuoso, Zanov has been active one the musical scene since 1976.
He studied piano and guitar, but the turning point was in summer 1975, when he discovered the fascinating world of synthesizers that was to follow.
Indeed, he set up his home studio with legendary synthesizers as EMS VCS3, ARP 2600, RMI harmonic synthesizer and started to compose.
Zanov had to understand the scientific foundations of sound synthesis and master the various playing techniques to a certain level of routine, to play and compose in a fluid way, while being led by his personal emotions.
In France, he is one of the first musicians to innovate in the universe of electronic music, breaking the limits of conventional music, caring about details and perfection.
He composed three albums between 1976 and 1982 (Green Ray, Moebius and In Course of Time), which are engraved in the memories of electronic music lovers.
It was then that Zanov took a self-imposed, and long hiatus, but music kept playing an important part in his mind, and so come 2014, he kickstarted his music bent and brought out Virtual Future (which was followed in 2016 by Open Worlds).
For his brand new album, Chaos Islands (due out June 15th, 2020), Zanov found his inspiration in the Chaos Theory, which has guided his thinking for a very long time.
For he composes music that is both simple and complex, orderly and unpredictable, from which emerge beauty, emotions and surprises at the edge of chaos.
1. 'Edge of Chaos Island' (7:16)
2. 'Inception Island' (6:18)
3. 'Strange Attractor Island' (6:52)
4. 'Three Body Island' (6:46)
5. 'Phase Space Island' (8:10)
6. 'Instability Island' (6:57)
7. 'Emergence Island' (6:17)
This quite vibrantly remarkable new spatially sonic journey of an album opens with the orchestral, cinematic essence of 'Edge of Chaos Island' and follows that seamlessly with both the, at times, foreboding, yet always ethereal 'Inception island' and then the synth scenescape of 'Strange Attractor Island.'
Next up is the creeping, eerily effervescent score 'Three Body Island' which is backed by the early '80s synth work of 'Phase Space Island,' the dense, thought provoking dearth of 'Instability Island,' before the album comes to a close on the somewhat lighter, wave-inspired 'Emergence Island.'
Official Purchase Link
Zanov @ Facebook!
Title - 'Destination Venus'
Artist - Steinar Karlsen
For those not in the know, on his fifth album, Destination Venus, Norwegian guitar wizard Steinar Karlsen continues his musical journeys within in the landscape of instrumental rock.
Inspired by artists such as Ry Cooder, Marc Ribot and Pink Floyd Destination Venus is a spectacular and extraterrestrial travel you will remember for a long time.
On his brand new album (out May 8th, 2020), which contains twelve original compositions and which was recorded in Amper Tone, Oslo, Norway, Karlsen -- whose other albums include: Ulydium (2011), Hanens død (2013), Tog til Sunnfjord (2015), and Tur (2015) -- Karlsen continues to being forth his excellent, and highly dedicated love for instrumental music.
1. 'The Goodbye' (4:59)
2. 'Night Flight' (2:24)
3. 'The Karman Line' (3:32)
4. 'Weightless' (0:58)
5. 'Picnic on the Moon ' (2:33)
6. 'Space Camel' (3:09)
7. 'Monsters' (3:45)
8. 'The Trip' (3:15)
9. 'Red Skies' (1:46)
10. 'Venus' (2:36)
11. 'A Billion Stars' (5:02)
12. 'Acid Rain' (1:57)
Karlsen opens with the cool, mid-tempo, lo-fi surf flow of 'The Goodbye' and backs that up seamlessly with the short, but sweet, perky and yet darkly feisty 'Night Flight,' the drum-led 'The Karman Line' and then, at just under a minute, the effervescent 'Weightless.'
Next up is the light and breezy hipsway of 'Picnic on the Moon' which is followed by the thoughtful, constructively scenic 'Space Camel,' and then both the ghostly dancefloor shuffle of 'Monsters,' and then the bright and bouncy ambiance of 'The Trip.'
The album then rounds out with a short delve into the Heavens on 'Red Skies,' the bouncy pop vibe found within 'Venus,' and then comes to a close on one of my own personal favorites, the thoughtful, precisely intricate, hopefully and aspirational, and yet yearning and longing of 'A Billion Stars,' and then ends with the industrial laser tones and drum-saddled back beat of 'Acid Rain.'
Official Purchase Link
Steiner Karlsen @ Facebook!
Title - 'Harmony Tales'
Artist - Pablo Embon
For those not in the know, Pablo Embon has released an amazing 19 albums to date with all his music having been performed, recorded, mixed and produced by himself.
Pablo originally hails from Argentina, where he learned from famed classical guitarist Eduardo Isaac and from an early age poured his time and energy into crafting every detail of this instrumental exhibition of his albums.
Amongst the 12 tracks here on his brand new album, Harmony Tales (out May 11th, 2020), there are a multitude of jazz stylings, which all ebb and flow magnificently throughout this quite breathtaking new musical experience.
1. 'Vintage Lover' (5:07)
2. 'Calling Out' (5:30)
3. 'For the Ones You Love' (4:03)
4. 'Nothing Left Behind' (4:27)
5. 'Song of India' (4:47)
6. 'Taste of Freedom' (2:47)
7. 'My Little Magic Box' (4:19)
8. 'The Voice of Truth' (5:21)
9. 'Too Far, Too Close' (4:55)
10. 'Midnight Lullaby' (3:19)
11. 'Our Time' (5:41)
12. 'The Best of Me (Remix)' (3:50)
Opening with the breezy ambiance of 'Vintage Lover,' that's backed by the dulcet piano work of 'Calling Out,' the beautiful, gentle hipsway of 'For the Ones You Love,' and then both the quietly orchestrated 'Nothing Left Behind' and the enthralling, almost cinematic depth of 'Song of India.'
Next up is the short, but sweet perkiness of 'Taste of Freedom' which is backed seamlessly by one of my own personal favorites, the melodic 'My Little Magic Box.'
The upbeat 'The Voice of Truth' is another stand out track here and is followed by the earnest approach to 'Too Far, Too Close,' and the temperate tranquility of 'Midnight Lullaby,' with the album coming to a close on the free flowing 'Our Time,' and then a simply divine 'The Best of Me (Remix).'
Amazon Purchase Link
Pablo Embon @ Facebook!
Title - 'Champagne And Brass'
Artist - Moon Over Mountain
For those not in the know, Moon Over Mountain is Kenneth Lee Roberts and Megan Buness, and this quite wonderful duo ensemble was formed in 2012 -- where they began to work out a fresh new sound; unlike any other in the world today.
Profoundly moving, at times painfully beautiful, the music of Moon Over Mountain cannot easily be forgotten once heard.
With its mix of New Age Pop and electronic instrumental music, their debut album The Colors Of Life (2019) impressed music fans, young and old, from all around the world.
Now, here in 2020, group founders Roberts and Buness return with their sophomore album, Champagne And Brass (released March 6th, 2020).
With this second album, the duo continue onward with their subtle and sublime approach to both vocal and instrumental music.
The 12-track album offers yet another memorable blend of instrumental and keyboard-based electronica, along with some experimental, yet accessible songs with vocals.
Some come with lyrics and some with synthesized, wordless vocals that serve to entertain and even startle the listener, all in a good way, of course.
1. 'Champagne & Brass' (3:20)
2. 'First Snowfall' (4:30)
3. 'Alone in the City' (4:05)
4. 'Have Our Dreams Come to This?' (5:49)
5. 'Close to My Heart' (2:06)
6. 'The Man Who Spoke 10,000 Truths' (5:14)
7. 'Evening Falls' (4:02)
8. 'Kyoto 21' (1:21)
9. 'Colorado Dreaming' (6:23)
10. 'Passing Sacred Ground' (2:50)
11. 'Welcome to Life' (3:26)
12. 'A O C' (3:43)
Opening with the euphoric title tack, 'Champagne & Brass,' they back that with the more tranquil, Far East-inspired 'First Snow,' the gently drum-led 'Alone in the City,' and then my own personal favorite here, the magnificently vibrant, alluring and ambient 'Have Our Dreams Come to This?.'
Next up is the short, Choir-inspired, and multi-tracked 'Close to My Heart,' which is followed by the slightly sterner, yet nonetheless serene, wordless electronic vocals of 'The Man Who Spoke 10,000 Truths,' and then the beautifully vocalized 'Evening Falls.'
At just over a minute, we next get the experimental vibe of 'Kyoto 21' which is backed by the longest track on the album, at just over six minutes, the foot-tappin' 'Colorado Dreaming,' a profoundly earnest 'Passing Sacred Ground,' with the album coming to a close on the mid-tempo orchestrations of 'Welcome to Life,' ending with an upbeat electronic party in the form of ' A O C' (which is dedicated to Congresswoman Cortez from NYC).
Amazon Purchase Link
Moon Over Mountain @ Facebook!
Title - 'Blues With Friends'
Artist - Dion
Blues With Friends, the new studio album of blues originals from Dion, is packed with a great batch of songs written during a productive time coming off his latest release.
When the legendary Joe Bonamassa was eager to be involved, it inspired Dion, who turns 81 on July 18th, to invite others to join the project. He says, "I wanted the best musicians alive like Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Van Morrison and more to take them in unexpected directions. Wayne Hood, my producer, brought out the best of them."
1. 'Blues Comin' On' (with Joe Bonamassa)
2. 'Kickin' Child' (with Joe Menza)
3. 'Uptown Number 7' (with Brian Setzer)
4. 'Can't Start Over Again' (with Jeff Beck)
5. 'My Baby Loves To Boogie' (with John Hammond)
6. 'I Got Nothin' (with Van Morrison & Joe Louis Walker)
7. 'Stumbling Blues' (with Jimmy & Jerry Vivino)
8. 'Bam Bang Boom' (with Billy Gibbons)
9. 'I Got The Cure' (with Sonny Landreth)
10. 'Song For Sam Cooke (Here In America)' (with Paul Simon)
11. 'What If I Told You' (with Samantha Fish)
12. 'Told You Once In August' (with John Hammond & Rory Block)
13. 'Way Down (I Won't Cry No More)' (with Stevie Van Zandt)
14. 'Hymn To Him' (with Patti Scialfa & Bruce Springsteen)
Released this past June 5th, 2020 via KTBA Records (a new label, started by Bonamassa and his manager Roy Weisman, that is an offshoot of Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation), this terrific album opens with the pulsating blues rock of 'Blues Comin’ On' (featuring Joe Bonamassa) and backs that up with the two-step boogie of 'Kickin' Child' (featuring Joe Menza), the finger-snappin' funk, and old-fashioned Gospel number in the style of the Golden Gate Quartet, of 'Uptown Number 7' (featuring Brian Setzer's rockabilly riffs), and then the tempo is brought down for the mid-tempo, country blues ballad 'Can’t Start Over Again' (featuring Jeff Beck).
Next up is the down south, harmonica-driven 'My Baby Loves To Boogie' (featuring John Hammond), which is backed by some lowdown and funky guitar grooves within 'I Got Nothin’ (featuring Van Morrison and Joe Louis Walker), with one of my own personal favorites, the lush evenflow of 'Stumbling Blues' (featuring both Jimmy and Jerry Vivino) along next.
The swamp shuffle blues rock of 'Bam Bang Boom' (featuring Billy Gibbons, a song about Dion meeting his wife) is then backed by both the upbeat and rapturous 'I Got The Cure' (featuring Sonny Landreth), and then the simply exquisite Americana folk hipsway 'Song For Sam Cooke (Here In America)' (a duet featuring Paul Simon) is brought forth.
'What If I Told You' featuring Samantha Fish is a lovely Summer's day breeze of a track and that's followed by 'Told You Once In August' (a foot-tappin', steel guitar, porch-swayin' get together of raw Delta blues, featuring both John Hammond and Rory Block), with the album coming to a close on mid-tempo rock of 'Way Down (I Won’t Cry No More)' (featuring Stevie Van Zandt), and then the Americana storytelling of 'Hymn To Him' (featuring the layered vocals of Patti Scialfa, and a beautiful, soulful guitar solo from Bruce Springsteen).
"I wanted an album of songs that were strong and memorable and told stories that were worth telling<" Dion further explains. "The blues have been at the heart of my music since the early 1960s."
"‘The Wanderer’ is a 12-bar blues and I was covering Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed in my early years at Columbia — much to the dismay of my corporate masters.”
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Title - 'Color Wheel'
Artist - Aaron Jay Kernis
For those not in the know, Pulitzer Prize recipient and GRAMMY award-winner Aaron Jay Kernis is one of Americas most performed composers.
Indeed, both works on this brand new album exemplify his creative approach to orchestral composition, sharing elements in common, such as virtuoso percussion writing and the use of variation form.
Color Wheel (released June 12th, 2020 via Naxos American) -- which was composed especially for the Philadelphia Orchestra's opening concerts in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and in celebration of the orchestra's centennial -- is an exuberant miniature concerto for orchestra with a wide array of contrasts, whilst 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon" explores the coexistence of opposing musical forces to powerful, pensive, and touching effect.
Champions of new American music, the Nashville Symphony and its music director Giancarlo Guerrero had premiered numerous works, and received 13 GRAMMY Awards including two for Best Orchestral Performance.
Among their award-winning recordings include works by Michael Daugherty, Stephen Paulus, and Jennifer Higdon.
The two works on this recording share much in common: from the virtuosic, percussion-rich approach to orchestral writing to the fundamental use of variation as a unifying and essential creative compositional approach.
Though written more than 15 years apart, the two works are like related family members – one brash and exuberant, the other more serious and pensive in intent, though no less bold in manner.
1. 'Color Wheel' (2001) (22:30)
2. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": I. Out of Silence' (11:20)
3. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": II. Thorn Rose (Weep Freedom) [After G.F. Handel]' (12:17)
4. 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": III. Fanfare Chomelodia' (5:50)
Opening with the twenty-two minute title track, 'Color Wheel' -- which is actually dedicated, with love, to Kemis' wife, Evelyne Luest -- it is a most vibrant, at times Disney-esque, at others both furtive and adventurous, whilst always triumphantly confident in its soaring passages track, that then bleeds seamlessly into some fervent and rather, at times, foreboding dips and swirls found within 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": I. Out of Silence.'
In much the same vein, yet tinged with a more hopefully, playful spell of free flowing musical wonderment, 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": II. Thorn Rose (Weep Freedom) [After G.F. Handel]' is then backed by the shortest piece, the just under six minute, at times delicate and anchored, yet almost always harboring a flighty spirit of 'Symphony No. 4 "Chromelodeon": III. Fanfare Chomelodia.'
"Two visual elements have influenced Color Wheel,' Kernis explains. "Color Wheels are tools used by artists and designers "that teach color relationships by organizing colors in a circle so you can visualize how they relate to each other"."
"Most Color Wheels show primary colors and myriads of related hues. I feel that this piece concentrates on the bolder contrasts of basic primary colors."
"I sometimes see colors when I compose, and the qualities of certain chords do elicit specific sensation in me — for example, I see A major as bright yellow."
"I've also been fascinated with Sufi whirling dervishes and their ecstatic spinning. This work may have some ecstatic moments but it is full of tension, continuous energy and drive."
"Harmonically it explores a wide gamut of colors, from huge overtone-derived chords, strongly contrasting levels of consonance and dissonance and occasional touches of jazz harmony and syncopation -- re-surfacing from a period of study during high school at the old Temple University Annex on Walnut Street."
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Title - 'The Explorers Club' [Vinyl]
Artist - The Explorers Club
For those not in the know, The Explorers Club, who have been lauded for “brightening our winters with their patented
brand of sun-kissed beach-pop” (Shindig! Magazine), will release two albums simultaneously through Goldstar Recordings (digitally June 12th, 2020 and on Vinyl and CD July 12th, 2020).
The Explorers Club (which we have on lovely yellow vinyl here now and will be reviewing directly from) showcases a dozen originals from the self-styled sunshine pop band featuring multi-part vocal harmonies and lush melodies reminiscent of ‘60s and ‘70s groups such as The Beach Boys, The Turtles and The Association.
To Sing And Be Born Again is a ten-part love letter to their influences, consisting entirely of covers that were originally recorded by The Lovin’ Spoonful, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Herb Alpert, The Zombies and more.
The Explorers Club is the brainchild of Jason Brewer, who founded the band in his native Charleston, SC before relocating to Nashville.
With several songs featured on such shows as The O.C. and How I Met Your Mother and with three albums already under their belts –
Freedom Wind (2008), Grand Hotel (2012) and 2016’s Together – this June’s twin releases are Brewer’s most ambitious undertaking to date.
2. 'One Drop Of Rain'
3. 'Love So Fine'
5. 'Don't Cry'
6. 'It's Me'
8. 'Dream World'
9. 'Say You Will'
10. 'Somewhere Else'
12. 'Look To The Horizon'
The exuberantly harmonious 'Ruby' kicks Side A off in some fine style and that's followed by the lush, mid-tempo hipsway duo of 'One Drop Of Rain' and 'Love So Fine.'
Then comes the peaceful summer breeze of 'Mystery' and the lo-fi work of '60s musical art, 'Don't Cry,' which is backed by the foot-tappin' inflections of 'It's Me,' with the first side of this vinyl coming to a close on the gently orchestrated, bossa nova wonderment of 'Dawn.'
Side B opens with one of my own personal favorites, a delve into the formative days of the Beach Boys-esque 'Dream World,' and then this quite magnificent, and truly dedicated to the spirit of an era gone by album continues onward with the summer assonance of 'Say You Will.'
The upbeat, tambourine psych pop of 'Somewhere Else' is next with the album rounding out on the absorbing 'Dreamin', with the Phil Spector-inspired 'Look To The Horizon' bringing our flashback journey to an end -- well, until you flip the vinyl over and start the process all over again, of course! (which I sincerely urge you to do).
On one level, The Explorers Club stands in stark contrast to its companion album; where To Sing and Be Born Again is all covers, this self-titled release is a collection of a dozen originals.
But once one moves beyond that surface difference, it’s clear that both are the product of a unified creative and aesthetic vision.
Brewer’s production choices almost always employ “real” instruments: string sections are strings, trumpets are brass. And when synthesizers crop up, they sound like what they are.
So even though The Explorers Club isn’t really a group at all, its music is unfailingly real and organic in nature.
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Title - 'Adeva! Ultimate' [4CD Expanded Edition]
Artist - Adeva
For those not in the know, this expansive 4CD set of Adeva’s eponymous debut album brings together the most comprehensive collection of this seminal house/R&B release.
Originally released in August 1989, the album went on to sell in excess of 300,000 copies in the UK.
Adeva actually hails from New Jersey in the USA, but found her career taking shape in the UK when, after an indie single release on Easy Street Records, she was then signed by Cooltempo/Chrysalis.
This resulted in two albums, Adeva! and Love Or Lust and numerous singles being released.
In 1997 she released an album New Direction for Distinctive Records, but not before collaborating with Frankie Knuckles on two singles and the album.
The first CD features the 10 tracks of the original album plus seven bonus tracks with the single versions of five tracks, ‘Respect’, ‘Warning!’, ‘I Thank You’, ‘Beautiful Love’ and ‘Treat Me Right’.
Plus there’s the Club mix of ‘I Thank You’ and the dub mix of ‘Warning!’.
2. 'Treat Me Right'
3. 'I Thank You'
4. 'So Right'
5. 'In & Out of My Life'
7. 'I Don't Need You'
8. 'Beautiful Love'
10. 'Musical Freedom'
11. 'I Thank You' (Club Mix)
12. 'Warning!' (Dub Mix)
13. 'Respect' (Single Version)
14. 'Warning!' (Single Version)
15. 'I Thank You' (Single Version)
16. 'Beautiful Love' (Single Version)
17. 'Treat Me Right' (Single Version)
The album opens with the sonic reach of the single 'Respect' (UK #17), and backs that up with the mellower 'Treat Me Right (UK #62), the low key R&B, dancefloor shuffle of 'I Thank You' (UK #17), and then both the Loleatta Holloway-esque 'So Right,' and the dancefloor passion of 'In & Out of My Life.'
The powerful 'Warning!" (yet another UK #17!) is up next and is followed by the dubstep dance of 'I Don't Need You,' the smooth and soulful 'Beautiful Love,' and then both Russ Kip Moore's sax-led magnificence on 'Promises,' with, for my money, the albums standout track, 'Musical Freedom' (UK #22) featuring Paul Simpson and Carmen Marie bringing the original album to a close.
This expanded edition now adds a pumped up 'I Thank You (Club Mix),' a funky 'Warning! (Dub Mix) instrumental,' and then simply Single Versions of 'Respect,' 'Warning!', 'I Thank You,' 'Beautiful Love' and 'Treat Me Right.'
The second CD features 13 tracks of remixes, dub versions plus bonus beats of the singles including Dancin’ Danny D’s remix of ‘Respect’ along with five other mixes of the track.
There’s two remixes of ‘Warning!’ – High On Hope Mix and Zanzibar Mix and these are accompanied by the ‘I Thank You’ Remixes – Original Club Mix, The New Jersey Mix, Somehouse Somewhere Mix, and Paul Simpson’s The Philadelphia Mix.
1. 'Respect' (Dancin' Danny D Remix)
2. 'Respect' (Bonus Beats)
3. 'Respect' (Accapella)
4. 'Respect' (Extended Version)
5. 'Respect' (Rough Mix)
6. 'Respect' (Longer Dub Version)
7. 'Warning!' (High on Hope Mix)
8. 'Musical Freedom' (Adeva with Paul Simpson)
9. 'Warning!' (Zanzibar Mix)
10. 'I Thank You' (Original Club Mix)
11. 'I Thank You' (The New Jersey Mix)
12. 'I Thank You' (Somehouse Somewhere Mix)
13. 'I Thank You' (The Philadelphia Mix)
Featuring six (6) versions of 'Respect,' four (4) versions of 'I Thank You,' two (2) versions of 'Warning!' and one of 'Musical Freedom,' if you aren't Adeva'd out come the end of this second CD, you're obviously doing it wrong!
The third CD includes five ‘I Thank You’ mixes, two of which are by the Dancing Divas with their Club mix and Rhythm Mix, Love To Infinity provide two mixes, plus there’s remixes of the single ‘Beautiful Love’ including the Classic Club and Dream mixes by Frankie Knuckles.
Oh, and its 7" single B-side, ‘Promises’ also has three mixes included!
1. 'I Thank You' (Philly Dub Mix)
2. 'I Thank You' (Love to Infinity Mix)
3. 'I Thank You' (Dancing Divas Club Mix)
4. 'I Thank You' (Dancing Divas Rhythmn Mix)
5. 'I Thank You' (Love to Infinity Edit)
6. 'Beautiful Love' (Extended Mix)
7. 'Promises' (Extended)
8. 'Beautiful Love' (Instrumental)
9. 'Beautiful Love' (Remix)
10. 'Promises' (Truth Mix)
11. 'Beautiful Love' (Classic Club Mix)
12. 'Promises' (Broken Mix)
Again, we have an overload of certain tracks here, especially 'I Thank You' which comes at us five (5) more times (which now makes 9 times over the two discs, for those playing along at home!).
Snuggled lovingly amongst the four (4) versions of 'Beautiful Love' is one of my all-time Adeva favorites, the lesser known B-side 'Promises,' a funky dancefloor work of musical art, for sure.
The fourth, and final CD boasts four mixes of the sixth single from the album, ‘Treat Me Right’, various rare Smack Productions remixes of ‘Warning!’ that featured on a US only 12” single.
Other mixes include ‘Warning!’ 7” Edit and Capitol mix, the B-sides ‘Love To See You Dancing’ and ‘Love Is Special’.
1. 'Treat Me Right' (Smack Mix)
2. 'Love Is Special'
3. 'Treat Me Right' (Big Jam Mix)
4. 'Treat Me Right' (The Trumped Mix)
5. 'Treat Me Right' (The Taj Mahal)
6. 'Treat Me Right' (The JZJ Mix)
7. 'Warning!' (Capitol Mix)
8. 'Warning!' (You've Been Warned Mix)
9. 'Warning!' (Serious Lies Mix)
10. 'Warning!' (The Emergency Mix)
11. 'Warning!' (Final Warning Mix)
12. 'Warning!' (Dubstrumental)
13. 'Love to See You Dancing' (LP Version)
Well, what we have here are more versions of songs we've already had flooded down the pipeline at us, such as six (6) versions of 'Warning!' (which now makes eight in total), but we also get five (5) versions of 'Treat Me Right,' along with (for me, the true gold dust finds here, the 7" single B-side tracks, the light and fizzy 'Love Is Special' and mid-tempo, dancefloor slide of 'Love To See You Dancing’.
This 4 CD collection comes in a capacity wallet, with each CD in a paper wallet featuring related Adeva sleeve images from the period.
There is also a 24 page booklet including sleeve notes and a UK Discography which is housed within an outer sleeve featuring the original cover artwork.
Remixers featured across this 4CD set includes Frankie Knuckles, Smack Productions, Dancin’ Danny D, Paul Simpson, Dancing Divas, Love To Infinity, JZJ and Tony Humphries.
Official 4CD Purchase Link
Title - 'To Sing And Be Born Again' (Vinyl)
Artist - The Explorers Club
For those not in the know, The Explorers Club, who have been lauded for “brightening our winters with their patented
brand of sun-kissed beach-pop” (Shindig! Magazine), will release two albums simultaneously through Goldstar Recordings (digitally June 12th, 2020 and on Vinyl and CD July 12th, 2020).
The Explorers Club showcases a dozen originals from the self-styled sunshine pop band featuring multi-part vocal harmonies and lush melodies reminiscent of ‘60s and ‘70s groups such as The Beach Boys, The Turtles and The Association.
To Sing And Be Born Again (which we have on lovely vinyl here now and will be reviewing directly from) is a ten-part love letter to their influences, consisting entirely of covers that were originally recorded by The Lovin’ Spoonful, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Herb Alpert, The Zombies and more.
The Explorers Club is the brainchild of Jason Brewer, who founded the band in his native Charleston, SC before relocating to Nashville.
With several songs featured on such shows as The O.C. and How I Met Your Mother and with three albums already under their belts –
Freedom Wind (2008), Grand Hotel (2012) and 2016’s Together – this June’s twin releases are Brewer’s most ambitious undertaking to date.
The impetus for this stems from the overwhelmingly positive reaction the band received after releasing several cover songs as free
downloads leading up to their sophomore release.
1. 'I Wonder What She's Doing Tonite'
2. 'She'd Rather Be With Me'
3. 'Roses And Rainbows'
5. 'The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)'
6. 'Maybe After He's Gone'
7. 'Can't Find The Time'
8. 'Say You Will'
9. 'This Guy's In Love With You'
10. 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore'
This foot-tappin, arms raised, exuberantly wonderful potpourri of songs from 1965-68 opens with 'I Wonder What She's Doing Tonite' (Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hartis), which is then backed by the shoulder-dippin', horn-backed 'She'd Rather Be With Me' (The Turtles), the summer melodies of 'Roses And Rainbows' (a pre-Three Dog Night Danny Hutton), the guitar pop of 'Kicks' (Paul Revere & The Raiders), and then Side A rounds out with a light and breezy, yet lovingly faithful 'The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)' (by Bob Dylan via Manfred Mann).
Side B opens with the psych pop of 'Maybe After He's Gone' (The Zombies), which is followed by the gentle musical waves lapping at the shore notes of 'Can't Find The Time' (by the “Bosstown Sound” band
Orpheus, as well as a latter chart entry by Rose Colored Glass, here featuring former-BNL's Steven Page), and then my own personal favorite, the amiable hipsway of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s 'Didn't Want To Have To Do It' (here featuring Jay Gonzalez of Drive-By Truckers).
Coming to a close on Brewer's simply divine rendition of Herb Alpert's 'This Guy's In Love With You,' and then finishing on a triumphal 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore' (Frankie Valli/The Walker Brothers), if this album had come out in the '60s, it would have been a monster hit, and deservedly so.
“I still get asked about those songs," Brewer explains, discussing the aforementioned positive reaction the band received after releasing several cover songs as free downloads, "so there is obviously a demand for a covers album.”
“I had a brand new album just about finished, which I think is one of the strongest things I’ve ever done. I figured I’ve got access to all this studio time and I’ve got some players to pull in to do it, so I’ll do an album of ‘60s covers, too."
"I just got to work and I finished both albums at the same time. It was an opportunity to give back to our hardcore followers who have
loved the band for over ten years now.”
"I had a solid lineup of musicians working with me on the previous
albums and I catered to their tastes, but this time around I made the record that I wanted to make,” Brewer adds.
Official Purchase Links
Title - 'Love'
Artist - Staring Into Nothing
For those not in the know, Southern California based Staring Into Nothing wields a foundation of melodic rock to explore the human experience and venture into new musical/thematic terrain.
Members Steve Rogers (keys/vocals) and Kurt Barabas (bass/vocals/guitars) craft their sound with a love for strong melody and musical virtuosity.
Taking a Steely Dan-esque approach in the recording studio, the band has a revolving cast of world class collaborators.
In November of 2017, Staring Into Nothing’s debut album Power delves deeply into the many ways power is used to manipulate, control, and subjugate people.
Staring Into Nothing’s latest album Love (out now via Antares Records) probes the multiplicity and evolution of romantic love.
The album was produced and mixed by Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson, Steve Morse, Ulver) and features an exceptional line up of musicians including: Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Santana, Ringo Starr) on drums, Victor Bisetti (Los Lobos) on percussion, Mike Keneally (Zappa, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani) on guitars, Trey Gunn (King Crimson, John Paul Jones) on Warr Guitar, and Danny T. Levin (Iggy Pop, Twenty One Pilots, Vampire Weekend) on horns.
Lending her voice to the album, Savannah Rogers is featured as lead vocals on two tracks, including the 18-minute journey that is ‘Towers: The Ecstasy & The Agony’.
5. 'The Thin Line'
6. 'Beautiful Delusion'
7. 'Only Love'
8. 'The Ties That Bind'
9. 'Find Our Way Back'
10. 'To All'
12. 'Amazing Grace'
This quite magnificent album opens with the ambient rock of 'Winter,' which is followed up by the more upbeat 'Spring,' the euphoric 'Summer,' and then the early '70s psych rock feel of 'Autumn.'
The trippy dips and swirls of 'The Thin Line' makes this one of my own personal favorites and that's backed by the melodic notes of 'Beautiful Delusion,' and then both the harmonious, mid-tempo flow of 'Only Love' and the psych pop of 'The Ties That Bind.'
The sterner guitar rock of 'Find Our Way Back' is then followed by the more lush roll out of 'To All,' with the album coming to a close on the the foot-tappin' hipsway of 'Ashes,' with 'Amazing Grace' (no, not that one!) bringing this glorious musical experience to a close.
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Title - 'Life Motion'
Artist - Intelligent Music Project V
For those not in the know, the global rock inspiration Simon Phillips (drums and percussion, musical co-producer) joins once again the all-star line up assembled by Milen Vrabevski, MD to bring us the new album, Life Motion.
The team features the voice of Ritchie Blackmore`s Rainbow – Ronnie Romero (lead vocals) and the progressive vocal of the London based rock band River Hounds – Richard Grisman (vocals) and the great voice of John Payne (ex-Asia).
Intelligent Music Project V by Milen Vrabevski, MD showcases the chemistry and the creative style of all his previous IMP projects (I-IV): rich, guitar-centric, inspiring lyrics and empowering melodies.
The magic and high-end sound completed with the top-notch experts such as Ivo Stefanov (keyboards) and Simon Phillips himself, who are musical co-producers of Life Motion.
The band is completed with some of the leading Bulgarian musicians such as Bisser Ivanov (guitars) and Ivaylo Zvezdomirov (bass).
1. 'A Kind of Real Life'
2. 'Don't Let Them Win'
3. 'Where I Belong'
4. 'Letting Me In'
5. 'We Keep On Running'
6. 'By the Side of the Minute'
7. 'Run Away'
8. 'The Final Act'
10. 'Every Time'
12. 'The Things in Your Mind'
On an album that encompasses all things that move us forward in life, the ensemble open with the free flowing AOR of 'A Kind of Real Life' and that's backed by the guitar rock of 'Don't Let Them Win,' the quietly euphoric 'Where I Belong,' the anthemic, fist-pumping 'Letting Me In,' and then the down low, gruff rock 'n' roll of 'We Keep On Running.'
Up next is the beautiful mid-tempo piano ballad 'By the Side of the Minute,' the musical rock climb of one of my own personal favorites, 'Run Away,' and then we get the another ballad, this time incorporating the formidable storytelling found within 'The Final Act.'
Legendary drummer Simon Phillips (Toto, Protocol, Mike Oldfield, The Who) adds two solos for the songs 'Reflecting' and 'Rising,' with the ballad 'Every Time' sandwiched in between, before the album comes to a close on the orchestral magnificence of 'The Things in Your Mind.'
Milen Vrabevski, MD says: “I would like my children to grow up with the ideas I share in my albums, and instead of teaching them lectures about those ideas, I use the language of music, which is very universal and easy to understand.”
official Purchase Links
Title - 'Crash Test Kid'
Artist - Sammy Brue
For those not in the know, a native of Portland, Oregon, now living in Ogden, Utah,Sammy Brue released his debut album I Am Nice in mid-2017 via New West Records to widespread critical acclaim.
Brue has been writing songs since he was 10 years old after receiving an acoustic guitar from his father for Christmas. Long influenced by the Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Leadbelly, and Woody Guthrie songs played in the family car for years, Sammy quickly embraced the instrument and wrote his first song within two months.
Before signing to New West Records, Sammy self-released two EPs, the latest being I Don’t Want You To Leave in 2015.
Now on the back of his aforementioned New West full-length debut and a 2018 EP, Down with Desperation, Brue has brought forth arguably his finest work to date, his sophomore outing Crash Test Kid (out now, once again, via New West).
2. 'Die Before You Live'
3. 'Teenage Mayhem'
4. 'True Believer'
5. 'Pendulum Thieves'
6. 'Crash Test Kid'
9. 'Skatepark Doomsday Blues'
10. 'What You Give'
11. 'Paint It Blue'
This quite magnificent, fresh and abundantly jubilant new album opens with the raw vocal and acoustic guitar work of 'Gravity,' which is seamlessly backed up with the upbeat 'Die Before You Live,' the early '80s punk angst of 'Teenage Mayhem,' and then the quieter, balladeering melodies of 'True Believer.'
Brue has always been an artist seemingly wise beyond his years, but on Crash Test Kid he often gets at the heart of a matter or melody with just a simple, but insightful turn of phrase or cleverly-picked guitar.
Perhaps none more so than both the glorious storytelling of 'Pendulum Thieves' and the open-hearted observance of the title track, 'Crash Test Kid.'
The encouraging buoyancy of both 'Megawatt' and 'Fishfoot' make for a lively third chapter to the albums rhythmic anecdotes, and then the new recording rounds out with the yearning vocal reach and exquisite pitch of 'Skatepark Doomsday Blues,' the foot-tappin' 'What You Give,' before closing out on the teenage longing for acceptance found within 'Paint It Blue.'
"Music has just been a part of my life since I was very young," Brue explains. "It's been like my football or my soccer"
"I stopped going to school to do it, because I thought if I could put seven hours a day into music, imagine where it's going to take me!"
Official Purchase Links
Sammy Brue @ Facebook
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Sammy Brue @ Twitter
Title - 'Live at the Baked Potato'
Artist - Soft Machine
In 2018, Soft Machine (Roy Babbington, bass - John Etheridge, guitar - John Marshall, drums and Theo Travis on saxes, flute, and Fender Rhodes) released the well-received album called Hidden Details and following that release, they toured the world in 2018 and 2019.
Anyone who went to see them were treated to an excellent set of jazz fusion and rock of old and new tunes, played with tremendous fire and drive.Live at the Baked Potato (out now via MoonJune Records) is a quite magnificent 12 track follow-up; and one worthy of a broader listenership.
2. 'Out-Bloody-Rageous, Part 1'
4. 'Hazard Profile, Part 1'
5. 'Kings And Queens'
6. 'The Tale Of Taliesin'
7. 'Heart Off Guard'
8. 'Broken Hill'
9. 'Fourteen Hour Dream'
10. 'The Man Who Waved At Trains'
11. 'Life On Bridges'
12. 'Hidden Details'
Containing several Soft Machine classics from the '70s in addition to new tracks from their Hidden Details album of 2018, this live recording from their 50th Anniversary World Tour 2019/2020 (produced by Theo Travis, co-produced by Soft Machine themselves, and with Leonardo Pavkovic acting as executive producer), opens with the translucent majesty of 'Out-Bloody-Intro' and then slides seamlessly into the funky jam of 'Out-Bloody-Rageous, Part 1,' the drum-led 'Sideburn,' and then bring us both the Hendrix-esque (which is no surprise, as they were contemporaries of, and shared stages with, Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd and the Jimi Hendrix Experience back in the day) and sax-enfused 'Hazard Profile, Part 1,' and the laid back 'Kings And Queens.'
The quietly progressive, yet always thoughtful 'The Tale Of Taliesin' is then followed by the short, but pronounced guitar work of 'Heart Off Guard' and the dulcet prog flight of 'Broken Hill,' backing those up with the foot-tappin', flute enhanced wonderment of 'Fourteen Hour Dream.'
Creating their own train-like ambiance, next up is one of my own personal favorites, the free-wheeling ambiance of 'The Man Who Waved At Trains,' with the album coming to a close on the soaring sax delights of 'Life On Bridges,' and then the seven minute long, free for all jam, 'Hidden Details.'
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Title - 'An Idealist's Handbook'
Artist - Noshir Mody
For those not in the know, Noshir Mody is a stimulating and creative fusion guitarist displaying a beautiful tone, versatility, and inventive ideas on his picturesque originals.
Indeed throughout his career, he has recorded and performed consistently rewarding and thought-provoking sets of original music.
Born and raised in Bombay, India, Mody is self-taught on guitar. He has stated that his early inspirations included Indian classical music, Al DiMeola's Elegant Gypsy, music from Bollywood, and rock along with the modern jazz guitar masters.
Mody's latest set, An Idealist’s Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020 (due out July 3rd, 2020), debuts a selection of thought-provoking originals that are filled with strong melodies, superior and versatile guitar playing, along with warm vocals by Kate Victor.
The album features Mike Mullan on alto and tenor saxophone, Benjamin Hankle on trumpet and flugelhorn, Campbell Charshee on piano, Yuka Tadano on bass, Jarrett Walser on drums and, on two of the five main pieces, the aforementioned Kate Victor on vocals.
2. 'Sketching "Illusions Grow"'
3. 'Illusions Grow'
4. 'Sketching "Ol' Splitfoot"'
5. 'Ol' Splitfoot'
6. 'Illustrating "Rise"''
7. 'Sketching "Under A Starlit Sky (2020)"'
8. 'Under A Starlit Sky (2020)'
10. 'Illusions Grow (Reprise)'
On an album where the philosophical and hopeful lyrics combine seamlessly with inventive jazz solos to form a vibrant, and memorable work, first up we have the free flowing seven minute 'Radha,' which Mody backs with the minute and a half lead in 'Sketching "Illusions Grow"' to the actual near nine minute long track, the oh-so luscious overtones of 'Illusions Grow.'
Next up is another quick lead in, this time a one minute 'Sketching "Ol' Splitfoot"' which, of course, then brings us the magnificently dreamy ambiance of the seven minute 'Ol' Splitfoot,' and then we get the soaringly vocalized 'Illustrating "Rise".'
This stunningly authentic, and wholly spiritualized album then rounds out with the short 'Sketching "Under A Starlit Sky (2020)"' which bleeds beautifully into the low slung guitar work of 'Under A Starlit Sky (2020),' with the grandeur of a longer 'Rise,' and then the vocalized 'Illusions Grow (Reprise)' bringing the album to a close.
Always displaying a highly individual sound on the guitar and a fresh imagination, Noshir Mody is heard in top form throughout his timely new album, the quite magnificent An Idealist’s Handbook: Identity, Love and Hope in America 2020.
Noshir Mody @ Facebook
Noshir Mody @ Twitter
Title - 'Human Rites Trio'
Artist - Jason Kao Hwang
For those not in the know, Jason Kao Hwang and his longtime bandmates Ken Filiano (bass) and Andrew Drury (drums) could only have made this recording now, after having persevered – individually and collectively – through life’s trials and errors to get to this point of effortless musical mastery, where they can converse freely and eloquently in a language created together over years of collaboration.
Certainly, the intimate experience of engaging with this music as a trio for at least a year, testing it in concert after concert, making revisions and discoveries all along the way, has engendered a truly remarkable depth of shared feeling and common understanding among them.
The music of Jason Kao Hwang (composer/violin/viola) explores the vibrations and language of his history. His compositions are often narrative landscapes through which sonic beings embark upon extemporaneous, transformational journeys.
Andrew Drury is a drummer, composer, and organizer who has performed in 30 countries and on 70 recordings, recently recognized by All About Jazz as “one of the most adventurous drummer/percussionists in creative music today, and a dedicated humanitarian.”
Ken Filiano, bass player, composer, improviser, has been performing throughout the world for thirty years, collaborating with leading artists in multiple genres, fusing the rich traditions of the double bass with his own seemingly limitless inventiveness.
On their brand new album, Human Rites Trio, and as explained by Hwang himself, "Each composition is a progression of gestures, songs, movements and locations that bring participants into a state of discovery and compassion."
"Within these Human Rites, individual voices are empowered to be fully expressive so that each moment is unpredictable and deeply intentional."
"This psychic intensity, both sacred and sacrificial, provokes a heightened awareness that unifies Listeners and Musicians within a spiritual entrainment."
"As we hear ourselves within music we become Music, which is no longer a performance but an affirmation of justice and celebration of life."
1. 'Words Asleep Spoken Awake: Part I' (6:45)
2. 'Words Asleep Spoken Awake: Part II (9:02)
3. 'Conscious Concave Concrete' (9:31)
4. '2 AM' (6:06)
5. 'Battle for the Indelible Truth' (11:49)
6. 'Defiance' (9:44)
Opening with the two-part ambiance of 'Words Asleep Spoken Awake,' the methodical way that Hwang’s compositions channel through his trio’s vibrant chemistry, perfectly encapsulates the increasingly syncopated chromatic string lines (especially those found in the frenetic Part II), providing a recurring frame of reference for mutually responsive interplay.
Weaving funk, swing, and free sections together with consistent thematic coherence, up next is the the melodic, at times Middle Eastern-esque, drum led wonderment of the near ten minute 'Conscious Concave Concrete.'
Inclusive of a rubato viola solo that serves as a pivot into the powerful blues groove that follow, that in turn is backed by the a transgression of conventional generic boundaries within the ornately highly strung elegance of '2 AM.'
The near-12 minute opulence of the pure, thrusting, raw string-shredding expressionism through hybrid Afro-Asian ecumenicism, of the dynamic 'Battle for the Indelible Truth' is a breathtaking work of musical art, in and unto itself, and then the album comes to a close on the fingering-finesse, and drum/percussion, dynamic call and response between composition and improvisation core found within 'Defiance.'
"I wish to thank Andrew Drury and Ken Filiano for their creativity, dedication and friendship,' Hwang continues.
"This CD was completed during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. The music honors all the heroic doctors, nurses, and frontline workers who are saving so many lives. The music is also dedicated to the memory of all the people whom we tragically lost to this terrible disease."
Title - 'Avocado'
Artist - Rolie Polie Guacamole
For those not in the know, Jersey natives Frank Gallo & Andrew Tuzhilin created Rolie Polie Guacamole in 2006 while living in Brooklyn, NY.
Over the next 15 years, they’ve played thousands of shows, recorded seven records, receiving top picks from Boston.com, Time Out NY Kids, and Time Out Chicago.
Winner of the prestigious Parents’ Choice® and NAPPA Awards, Rolie Polie Guacamole has developed a smart, parent-friendly musical style that dresses up original tunes and classic covers with vibrant harmonies and deft instrumental layers, plugging in a sizzling electric current of rhythm that lights up lyrics humming with relevance and humor.
Avocado, the bands 7th album (out June 19th, 2020) continues in this tradition broadening the genre of the band whilst continuing to bring forth a technically savvy, and imaginative sound that speaks to children, whilst reminding their parents of the golden age of 1990s music.
2. 'Ay Batta Batta'
3. 'Basketball Jane'
4. 'Fire Truck'
5. 'Dancing on the Sun'
6. 'A Very Quiet Song'
8. 'Pizza Pie'
10. 'Persevering Penguins & Pals'
11. 'Sammi the Cat'
12. 'Jingle Bells'
13. 'Avocado (outro)'
The new album opens with the mid-tempo, sing-along title track, 'Avocado,' and backs that up with the frenetic 'Ay Batta Batta,' a gentle, Rush-like rock ode to Baseball, and then comes an early 90’s Rap story within 'Basketball Jane' (featuring Katie Mullins as Jane).
Next up is a new rendition of a fan favorite, Ivan Ulz’s 'Fire Truck' where the band, whilst working with recording legend Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, PJ Harvey), now embellish it with a new lo-fi punk angst vibe.
The near seven-minute 'Dancing on the Sun' sends the young listeners into space and around the solar system, inclusive of a hot-foot chorus one minute, a lush and gentle moon walk the next, and once they are back to terraferma we get the languid solace of the perfectly-entitled 'A Very Quiet Song.'
The Spanish-sung 'Aguacate' is up next, as the anthem returns as an appetizer for the fun, and weirdly instructional singalong 'Pizza Pie,' and then the kids rock of 'iScream' is up next.
Some rather fine storytelling comes to the fore next on 'Persevering Penguins & Pals,' where Frank and Andrew make a theme song for their OG fans Moorea & Jasper Friedmann (who published their first book “Meet the Persevering Penguins & Pals”).
This highly inventive, fun and bouncy album the rounds out with the longest track on the album, the Brooklyn feline storytelling of the near-ten minute 'Sammi the Cat,' a festively pre-Christmas 'Jingle Bells,' and then comes to a close on a thirty second outro of 'Avocado.'
Rolie Polie Guacamole @ Facebook
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Rolie Polie Guacamole @ YouTube
Title - 'Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine'
Artist - John McCutcheon
For those not in the know, John McCutcheon is an American folk music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has produced 40 albums to date since the 1970s.
Indeed, he is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer, and is also proficient on many other instruments including guitar, banjo, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, and jawharp.
This prolific folk instrumentalist and singer has now brought out a brand new, and completely unexpected album, Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine (out now, and only available as a download directly from John's website (see below).
Sequestered in his cabin in the North Georgia mountains, McCutcheon had returned from an Australian tour in mid-March, and due to COVID-19 had gone straight into a self-imposed quarantine.
It was there that McCutcheon proceeded to write a song a day for three weeks, fueled by long conversations with friends and long walks where he reflected on the past, present, and future.
With his characteristic humor and his winning way as a storyteller, McCutcheon pays tribute to health care workers, offers an homage to John Prine, and ponders the ambiguities of human nature in this collection of moving songs.
1. 'Front Line'
2. 'The Night That John Prine Died'
3. 'Sheltered in Place'
4. 'In Bristol Bay'
6. 'One Hundred Years'
7. 'Six Feet Away'
8. 'That's All'
9. 'Hallelujah Morning'
11. 'My Dog Talking Blues'
12. 'When All of This Is Over'
13. 'The Donkey'
14. 'The Bean'
15. 'Monet Refuses The Operation'
17. 'Traveler's Rest'
18. 'The Night That John Prine Died' (Original Lyrics)
The well-traveled troubadour (here in a much stripped-down setting, not only providing the vocals, but acoustic/resophonic guitars and piano parts and more, I wouldn't wonder), kicks things off with 'Front Line,' an adamantly strummed tribute to the hourly stress that all health care and essential workers have found themselves for months now.
He then backs that up with the passionately heartfelt, somber storytelling of an ode to the beloved late singer/songwriter on 'The Night That John Prine Died' (with its opening chords riding on a phrase from 'These Days,' poignantly honoring Prine, whilst artfully revivifying him in the chorus also), and then the ornate 'Sheltered in Place.'
The mid-tempo guitar flow of a melodic look at blue-collar life in Alaska’s fisheries industry within 'In Bristol Bay' is up next and is followed by stern nod-and-a-wink reminiscing of 'Control,' the dulcet, gospel piano work of the hymn-like 'One Hundred Years,' and then both the Celtic-tinged ballad 'Six Feet Away' and the Simon & Garfunkel-esque 'That's All.'
The fervently upbeat 'Hallelujah Morning' is then backed by the lonesome underlay of 'Vespers,' with the perky fun of 'My Dog Talking Blues,' the free flowing folk of both 'When All of This Is Over' and 'The Donkey,' with the spoken word, Merle Travis-inspired ode to the simple, but oh-so plentiful bean.
The gilded folk embroidery of 'Monet Refuses The Operation' allows McCutcheon to shine to absolute perfection, and then comes a rather humorous narrative (told from the perspective of our long-suffering planet) within 'Earth,' and then the album closes on the opulent Americana of 'Traveler's Rest,' and an "original lyric" version (which runs at just 19 seconds and, buyer beware, features a naughty word!) of 'The Night That John Prine Died.'
With his keen eye for the great within the small, his captivating storytelling, and his ability to go for the funny bone and the heart at once, Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine is truly vintage McCutcheon.
Official 'Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine' Digital Download Purchase Link
John McCutcheon @ Facebook
Title - 'Pop 85/95'
Artist - Neal Smith
For those not in the know, legendary Alice Cooper Group, HOF drummer Neal Smith has just-released a brand new album, Pop 85/95 via Kachina Records.
Smith's new "retro pop" album signifies the music style and time period in which he wrote these songs between 1985 and 1995 with the songs, along with the actual album concept, all being both overtly sexy and politically incorrect!
Furthermore, Smith's 11 new songs represent all aspects of relationships, falling in and out of love in a simpler bygone era before Coronavirus, politically correctness and the new world disorder.
With the onslaught of glam hair bands and heavily homogenized rock of the 1980’s, Smith was looking for a new direction for his songwriting.
Inspired by another drummer, songwriter, singer Phil Collins, he turned from writing hard rock to a slicker, more pop rock songwriting style.
In the late 1980’s he took four of his new songs into the studio and recorded them. One of the songs, 'Secret Eyes' helped land a recording deal with newly formed record company called Grudge Records.
Along with Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper fame), Joe Bouchard (Blue Oyster Cult fame), Charlie Hune (Ted Nugent fame) and lead guitarist Jay Jesse Johnson (also known as “Triple J”), a new band called Deadringer was formed and signed by Grudge Records.
Deadringer recorded an album in 1989 called Electrocution Of The Heart featuring the aforementioned single 'Secret Eyes, but the album and band were all short lived after Grudge Records' quick demise!
However, after Deadringer, and well into the 1990’s, Neal continued writing songs with Johnson in this pop rock style and decades later, well into the New Millennium, Smith was searching through his archives of music and found those songs that he composed and recorded between the years of 1985 and 1995.
Inspired by Johnson's amazing lead guitar work, Neal polished the songs and brought them back to life with the help of two of his best friends, Peter Catucci (bass guitar of Killsmith) and Rick Tedesco (guitarist/engineer).
Now, much to the excitement of his fans worldwide, Neal Smith’s Pop 85/95 is available digitally and on CD.
1) 'If I Only Had You'
2) 'Dying To Love You'
3) 'Secret Eyes'
4) 'Love Sets The Night On Fire'
5) 'Distant Drum'
6) 'I Wanna Be Good, But I Don't Know How'
7) 'Love Can Run, Love Can Hide'
8) 'In A Heartbeat'
9) 'Fly Home Sweet Angel'
10) 'I Love You To Death'
11) 'All My Eyes Can See'
Opening with the mid-tempo AOR of 'If I Only Had You,' that's followed by the lush ballad 'Dying To Love You,' which in turn is followed by the Smith-sung single, the foot-tappin' 'Secret Eyes,' and then the synth-led ballad 'Love Sets The Night On Fire.'
Next up is the mid-tempo, percussion-enhanced 'Distant Drum' which is backed by the free flowing melodic guitar work of 'I Wanna Be Good, But I Don't Know How,' with the rock guitars fully engaged for the mid'80s AOR of 'Love Can Run, Love Can Hide.'
The album then rounds out with the drum-led 'In A Heartbeat,' the soaring guitar work found on the yearning for a departed loved one within 'Fly Home Sweet Angel,' with dynamic drums and guitars working in harmony for the euphoric 'I Love You To Death,' before coming to a close on the passionate outreach of 'All My Eyes Can See.'
"In the 80’s and 90’s Rap, Hip Hop, Pop and even Rock music was being recorded with synthesized programmed drums," Neal Smith explains. "I understood that this was a new wave of recording percussion."
"But what I did not like was many of the synthesized drum tracks were being programmed by engineers and musicians who were not even drummers."
"Disappointed and inspired by that fact, I began a new phase of songwriting by programming synthesized drums on my recordings. The last eight songs on my new CD POP 85/95 is a collection of songs I wrote from that era featuring synth drums I programmed myself."
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Neal Smith @ Facebook
Title - 'Porter Plays Frishberg - Unsung'
Artist - Randy Porter
For those not in the know, Jazz pianist Randy Porter has a refined understanding of improvisation and the spontaneous communication between musicians.
As a Steinway Artist, Porter draws from a rich palette of sonorities found within his imagination and the depths of the piano.
Indeed, Porter has performed with many jazz greats, including Freddy Hubbard, Art Farmer, Benny Golson and Charles McPherson. With the Charles McPherson Quartet, he has traveled throughout the US and in Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and China.
Furthermore, the Randy Porter Trio was also nominated for the 60th Grammy Awards for the album, Porter Plays Porter with Nancy King.
His brand new album, Porter Plays Frishberg - Unsung, is a tribute album to songs by Dave Frishberg, and is to be released this very month via HeavyWood Records.
Featuring Randy Porter on piano, John Wiitala on bass, and Todd Strait on drums, Porter also arranged, performed, engineered, mixed, and mastered this project at HeavyWood Studios.
2. 'Listen Here'
3. 'I’m Hip'
4. 'Heart’s Desire'
5. 'I Want to Be a Sideman'
6. 'You are There'
7. 'Dear Departed Past'
8. 'Wheelers and Dealers'
9. 'Little Did I Dream'
10. 'Peel Me a Grape'
11. 'Do You Miss New York?'
With all the 12 songs songs written by Dave Frishberg, except for: 'I’m Hip' (by Bob Derough and Frishberg), 'Heart’s Desire' (by Alan Broadbent and Frishberg), 'You Are There' and 'Little Did I Dream' (by Johnny Mandel and Frishberg), combined with some heartfelt, and at times intricately orchestrated arrangements by Porter, Porter Plays Frishberg - Unsung already features prominently in my own personal Top 10 albums of the year.
Opening on the light and breezy 'Snowbound' that then blends seamlessly into the fine dining accompaniment 'Listen Here,' the mid-tempo, layered funk of 'I’m Hip,' and then both the lush 'Heart’s Desire' and the perky 'I Want to Be a Sideman.'
The quietly poetic 'You are There' is then backed by the more precise sounds of 'Dear Departed Past' with the down low vibe of 'Wheelers and Dealers' nicely following along.
The highly-spirited 'Little Did I Dream' is then backed by the near-eight minute jam of 'Peel Me a Grape,' with the album coming to a close on the ornate 'Do You Miss New York?' and then the luxuriant 'Zanzibar.'
“A growing number of listeners and musicians have come to appreciate Dave Frishberg as a composer, lyricist and pianist, yet his name is still relatively little known to the larger public," Porter explains.
"Most recordings of Frishberg’s music or lyrics understandably feature vocalists. My hope is that Dave’s music also has the prominence to reach you Unsung."
"Perhaps by now, even with a purely instrumental interpretation, we can sense his message through the melody, the humor through the harmony, and the rhyming through the rhythm; not unlike his predecessors achieved through the other timeless jazz standards of the Great American Songbook. Hope you enjoy.”
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Title - 'Dance / Cello Concerto'
Artist - Inbal Segev / London Philharmonic Orchestra
This formidable release features Inbal Segev performing Elgars emotive Cello Concerto coupled with Dance, an inspiring new work by Grammy-nominated English composer Anna Clyne that was commissioned by Inbal.
Dance / Cello Concerto, released this past June 5th, 2020 via AVIE Records, also features Marin Alsop conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
It was actually Marin who introduced Inbal to Anna, sparking a special synergy between the three women and whilst Anna was composing Dance, a five-movement concerto inspired by the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi, further connections organically ensued.
Anna Clyne (b. 1980)
1. I. when you’re broken up (4:43)
2. II. if you’ve torn the bandage off (4:07)
3. III. in the middle of the fighting (4:18)
4. IV. in your blood (5:30)
5. V. when you’re perfectly free (6:13)
Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934)
Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85
6. I. Adagio – Moderato (7:50)
7. II. Lento – Allegro molto (4:32)
8. III. Adagio (4:45)
9. IV. Allegro – Moderato – Allegro, ma non-troppo – Poco più lento – Adagio (11:56)
Opening with Clyne's 5-part Dance, 'when you’re broken up' is a poignantly heart-rendering piece, which is backed by the sterner, more proficiently determined 'if you’ve torn the bandage off,' and then an effortless calm at the center of any storm fully resides in the organic 'in the middle of the fighting.'
That feeling permutates into 'in your blood,' which itself then bleeds into the vibrantly energetic, sharp tones and deliberate movements of 'when you’re perfectly free.'
The second piece is Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85, and opens with the ornate magnificence of 'Adagio – Moderato,' before adding moments of upbeat dips and swirls within 'Lento – Allegro molto.'
A truly beautiful, quiet, and utterly pleasing 'Adagio' follows those moments perfectly, before the work rounds out with the near-12 minute long, breathtakingly lavish 'Allegro – Moderato – Allegro, ma non-troppo – Poco più lento – Adagio.'
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Title - 'The Austrian Connection'
Artist - Sarah Beth Briggs
Much lauded for her interpretations of Hans Gáls concerto and chamber music works, Sarah Beth Briggs now presents the composers beguiling Three Preludes alongside well-loved works by three of his greatest Austrian forebears: Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Schubert.
Following meticulous examination of the original scores, Briggs sensitively translates the authentic character of each work to the resources of a modern piano with revelatory results.
A leading recitalist, concerto soloist, and chamber musician, and a long-standing pupil of the late Denis Matthews, Briggs gained a Hindemith Scholarship to study chamber music in Switzerland with celebrated violist Bruno Giuranna, and continued her studies there with renowned Arrau pupil, Chilean pianist Edith Fischer.
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)
1. Variations on Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser (7.28)
Piano Sonata in C, Hob. XVI/50 (15.25)
2. Allegro (6.33)
3. Adagio (6.19)
4. Allegro molto (2.33)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310 (20.11)
5. Allegro maestoso (5.56)
6. Andante cantabile con espressione (11.08)
7. Presto (3.07)
Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828)
Piano Sonata in A, D. 664 (21.00)
8. Allegro moderato (8.09)
9. Andante (5.14)
10. Allegro (7.37)
Hans Gál (1890 – 1987)
Three Preludes, Op. 65 (1944) (9.28)
11. Vivacissimo (2.40)
12. Lento e tranquillo (4.35)
13. Presto grazioso e con anima (2.13)
The Austrian Connection, released this past June 5th, 2020 via AVIE Records, opens with Haydn's magnificently tempered, ornately embroidered 'Variations on Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser,' before moving seamlessly in his three-part 'Piano Sonata in C, Hob. XVI/50.'
The vibrantly perky 'Allegro' opens, before giving us the more thought-provoking 'Adagio,' with the upbeat, cheery jaunt of 'Allegro molto' bringing Haydn piece to an end.
Up next is Mozart's 'Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310,' whose 'Allegro maestoso' is simply a free flowing, and passionate work of musical art all by itself.
That's followed by the more precise key work of 'Andante cantabile con espressione,' before the expansively bubbly 'Presto' rounds out that work.
Schubert's 'Piano Sonata in A, D. 664' is my own personal favorite here, opening, as it does, with the dulcet majesty of 'Allegro moderato,' before bringing forth the softly orchestrated 'Andante' and then the always-a-joy-to-behold, enthusiastic ambiance of 'Allegro.'
The last work is Gál's short 'Three Preludes, Op. 65' which opens on the frenetically determined, yet at all times cultured, key work of 'Vivacissimo,' which is then backed by the delicately graceful 'Lento e tranquillo,' with Gál's piece, along with Briggs' work coming to a close on the excited fervor of 'Presto grazioso e con anima.'
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Title - 'Move On!'
Artist - Purdie Fabian Oswanski
On this, their first album together, Move On!, the trio of Purdie Fabian Oswanski bring forth (and for the first-ever) an album of organ and bass, playing original jazz funk and also incorporating amazing surprises, such as a swinging, grooving 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic.'
On this quite vibrantly magnificent new album, the living legend of the drums himself Bernard “Pretty” Purdie comes together with journeyman musicians Ron Oswanski (Hammond B-3 organ) and Christian Fabian (electric bass) for a recording that is, simply put, quite like nothing you ever expected to hear!
1. 'The Red Plaza'
2. 'BPP Blues'
3. 'Can’t You See (You’re Doin’ Me Wrong)'
5. 'Got Groove? (Pt. 2)'
6. 'Love You Madly'
7. 'Move On!'
8. 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic'
9. 'So What'
Opening with the funky jam of 'The Red Plaza' that's backed by Oswanski's prowling organ work alongside Purdie's wonderful groove solo on 'BPP Blues,' which is followed by the finger-snappin' mid-tempo, breezy flow of 'Can’t You See (You’re Doin’ Me Wrong)' and then the Fabian's bass lines come into play on the the magnificent '84-85.'
That bass is also front and center on 'Got Groove? (Pt. 2),' a track that actually showcases the collective indominable spirit that this trio has for their chosen genre, and that's followed by the low key, late night piano bar, lush tones of 'Love You Madly.'
The funky, drum-led title track 'Move On!' is one of my own personal favorites here, and that's backed by their wonderful cover of 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' (also known as 'Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory' outside the US), with their cover of Miles Davis' 1959 'So What' bringing the album to a comforting flashback close.
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Title - 'Local Nomad EP'
Artist - Local Nomad
For those not in the know, capturing Paul Simons '70s aesthetic and the pop sensibility of Gnarls Barkley, Local Nomad’s sound is marked by soulful vocals, ethereal synths, and lustrous drum beats.
The pseudonym of multi-instrumentalist Michael Desmond, he is a dad rock powerhouse who shakes hands with pop — with two fingers crossed behind the back—breaking a promise to adhere to the mainstream of the genre, fusing it with delivery of indie-rock electricity.
Indeed, and as he himself has always said, "Local Nomad represents the constant searching for oneself. Abandoning a sedentary life," and here on the quite brilliant new 5-Track, self-titled EP, Local Nomad ensures that our lives are further enriched by showcasing warm, soulful vocals that amiably drift between dream-like synths and glossy drum beats.
1. 'Love Is Gone'
3. 'Getting Old Is A Bitch'
4. 'Young Vampires'
Opening with the spacious, perky, free flowing, early '90s Brit pop sounds of 'Love Is Gone,' that's backed by the free flowing, windows down on the road, summer breeze through your fingers vibe of 'Gates.'
The methodical hipsway of the mid-tempo 'Getting Old Is A Bitch' is then backed seamlessly by my own personal favorite track here, the one minute quietly RHCP-esque balladeering, the next the lo-fi emo pop flow of 'Young Vampires' (a song about unhealthy relationships), with the final track actually being Local Nomad's own favorite, 'Summertime.'
A track that captures his dry sense of humor perfectly, whilst still evoking a classic nostalgic emotional quality, the song is essentially a time capsule that represents what summer was like for him (and maybe you also) as a kid.
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Title - 'Know Say Or See'
Artist - Benny Rubin Jr. Quartet
For those not in the know, Benny Rubin Jr. is a Flint, Michigan born, Detroit raised tenor and alto-saxophonist now based in New York.
Rubin Jr. gained early experience playing saxophone in church. Indeed, he discovered jazz, graduated from the Detroit School of Arts, and worked locally with many top local musicians including Wendell Harrison, performing at the 2016 Detroit Jazz Festival with the Detroit Jazz Festival Youth All-Stars.
Since moving to New York, Rubin has played with renowned artists such as Roy Hargrove, Reggie Workman, Barry Harris and Winard Harper and in 2017 formed his very own Quartet (Rubin Jr. on Alto and Tenor Sax; Lex Korten on Piano; Adam Olszewski on Bass; and JK Kim on Drums).
That Quartet's quite wondrous debut album, Know Say Or See was released this past June 8th, 2020 and features eight tracks that distinctly reflect on the times we are all currently in.
1. 'Know' (6:42)
2. 'Say' (4:59)
3. 'Darn That Dream' (5:24)
4. 'NYC Urge' (5:46)
5. 'Kiss Me Right' (8:05)
6. 'Flint Water Crisis' (7:55)
7. 'Down They Go' (11:07)
8. 'Or See' (7:49)
Having made a strong impression with his debut, What's Next, his sophomore album as a leader covers a lot of current topics, along with allowing for Rubin Jr. to express some of his own personal, heart on the sleeve thoughts too.
The Quartet performs six of Rubin's originals along with some rather fresh renditions of two standards here on Know Say Or See, opening with the lo-fi, low slung appeal of the sax and bass duet 'Know.'
They then back that up with the perky, yet explorative piano work of 'Say,' the bass-led beauty 'Darn That Dream,' and then comes the rip-roarious 'NYC Urge' (an original based on Joe Henderson's 'Inner Urge'), and the mid-tempo hipsway swing of Horace Silver's 'Kiss Me Right.'
The piece closest to his heart is obviously the musically disjointed, always evolving 'Flint Water Crisis' (named after a public health crisis that started in 2014, after the drinking water source for the city of Flint, Michigan was changed), and then the album comes to a close on the 11 minute, John Coltrane-esque 'Down They Go,' and then the comforting, spiritually absorbed jam of 'Or See.'
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Benny Rubin Jr. @ Facebook!
Title - 'You Must Believe In Spring'
Artist - Sue Anne Gershenzon
For those not in the know, Sue Anne Gershenzon has been a professional singer her whole life singing On Broadway, Off Broadway in Opera Houses, Regional Theaters, Concert Halls and Clubs.
Releasing on August 1st, 2020, Sue Anne's quite delightful debut album (complete with magnificent jazz back-up) is You Must Believe In Spring, and where one may well try to categorize her singing, simply put, Sue Anne lives in, and inhabits her songs quite like no other vocalist.
Taking her listeners on the journey of a life lived, lessons learned, and hope for the future, with her regular pianist and arranger Glafkos Kontemeniotis serving as her co-producer, Sue Anne's beautiful voice is showcased to perfection of 11 classic songs.
1. 'I Thought About You'
2. 'With so Little to Be Sure Of'
3. 'So Many Stars'
4. 'The Fool on the Hill'
5. 'When Sunny Gets Blue'
6. 'A Child Is Born'
7. 'Deed I Do'
8. 'Good Morning Heartache'
9. 'Straighten up and Fly Right'
10. 'East of the Sun'
11. 'You Must Believe in Spring'
Joined by tenor-saxophonist Joel Frahm, trombonist Ryan Keberle, bassist Sean Smith, drummer Dave Meade, Brandon Vazquez on trumpet, Bashiri Johnson on percussion and a string trio comprised of Megan Gould on violin, Karen Waltuch on viola and Noah Heffeld on cello, this magnificent, dreamy at times, heart rendering at others, debut album opens with the lush swing of 'I Thought About You,' and follows that up with the quietly dulcet flow of the Stephen Sondheim ballad 'With so Little to Be Sure Of,' and then comes the oh-so gentle, graceful hipsway of 'So Many Stars,' and a daring jazz rendition of the Beatles' 'The Fool on the Hill.'
The soft shuffle and expressive vocal of 'When Sunny Gets Blue' is a stand out here for me and that's followed by the magnificent jazz standard 'A Child Is Born' and the perky 'Deed I Do.'
Sue Anne's deep dive into the Billie Holiday-sung 'Good Morning Heartache' is yet another moment to be fully savored here, and that's backed by the vibrant Nat King Cole 'Straighten up and Fly Right,' with the album rounding out with the Brooks Bowman-written 'East of the Sun,' closing on the heart rendering Bill Evans classic, here a special duet with Kontemeniotis, 'You Must Believe in Spring.'
"This project has been a four-year labor of love in collaboration with my brilliant arranger and co-producer Glafkos Kontemeniotis," Sue Anne explains. "We are supported by some of the greatest musicians in the country and I think the result is one you will enjoy."
"The album is a linear story. It represents a time in my life of great challenges and struggle. I have learned that with love and caring for ourselves and each other one can emerge from anything."
"As we all struggle through these challenging times, it is my hope that this CD will offer you inspiration to persevere and to thrive."
"We All Must Believe in Spring."
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Sue Anne Gershenzon @ Facebook!
Title - 'Born Innocent'
Artist - Alcatrazz
For those not in the know, the hard-hitting, melodic heavy metal band Alcatrazz will once again throw down a studio gauntlet on July 31st, 2020 with the absolutely pulsating Born Innocent (via Silver Lining Music).
Their first studio venture since 1986’s Dangerous Game, alongside the unique vocal prowess and range of star front man and founding member Graham Bonnet (Rainbow), Born Innocent also features fellow founding members Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea.
Complete with classic album art that features the mighty rock itself, Born Innocent is a journey into the sort of heavy, melodic and supremely articulated hard rock that is a cornerstone of the likes of Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group; territory Alcatrazz successfully strode in the ‘80s before going on hiatus.
Born Innocent also features guest appearances from Chris Impellitteri, who wrote the music and played all guitars on the arpeggio-powered title track, with Bonnet’s vocals soaring to old-school heights, as did the late Bob Kulick for the majestic 'I Am The King.'
Virtuoso Japanese guitar maestro Nozomu Wakai similarly wrote and played guitars on the double-kick steel-plated Irish warrior ode 'Finn McCool,' while the six-string legend that is Steve Vai wrote 'Dirty Like The City.'
Besides the supreme musicianship, Born Innocent features genuine storyteller lyrics courtesy of Bonnet who revels in showing he loves the scent of an entertaining tale, proudly illustrated on the storming lead single 'Polar Bear' which bristles with robust old-world adventure.
Though Alcatrazz might well have been "born innocent," their new album shows they’ve obviously learnt some robust and rawkus things along the way!
1. 'Born Innocent'
2. 'Polar Bear'
3. 'Finn McCool'
4. 'We Still Remember'
5. 'London 1666'
6. 'Dirty Like The City'
7. 'I Am The King'
8. 'Something That I Am Missing'
9. 'Paper Flags'
10. 'The Wound Is Open'
11. 'Body Beautiful'
12. 'Warth Lane'
13. 'For Tony'
Opening with the squealing guitars and frenetic drum back beat of the title track 'Born Innocent,' that's backed seamlessly by the head down, hair toss guitar rock of 'Polar Bear,' the thunderously melodic 'Finn McCool,' and then both the mid-tempo keyboard and guitar amalgamation ballad 'We Still Remember' and the powerhaus rocker 'London 1666.'
Their brand of roaring rock continues onward with the full on 'Dirty Like The City,' a track that truly encapsulates how good Bonnet's vocals still are, which is followed by the balls out frenzy of 'I Am The King' and then the cacophonous, black metal-esque 'Something That I Am Missing.'
The more upbeat, chest puffed out, head held high rocker 'Paper Flags' is next, and is backed by one of my own personal favorites, the unadulterated metal rock of 'The Wound Is Open.'
At times veering into Tygers of Pan Tang-esque work, the drum-led 'Body Beautiful' is up next and is followed by the stunning, ethereal at times, guitar work of 'Warth Lane,' with the album coming to a close on the black sheep of the album, the brass percussion and raw Bonnet vocalization of 'For Tony.'
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Silver Lining Music Website
Title - 'The Living Room Concert [Expanded]'
Artist - Anthony Phillips
For those not in the know, Esoteric Recordings will be releasing the incredible, and remastered and expanded edition of The "Living Room" Concert by original Genesis guitarist and celebrated solo artist and composer Anthony Phillips this July 17th, 2020.
Originally released in May 1995, the album featured highlights of a live solo performance by Phillips which was recorded on March 21st, 1993 as part of the Living Room Concert Series for the US Radio program Echoes; a daily program of contemporary instrumental music.
The show was broadcast on 120 public radio stations in America on 25th June, 1993.
For the performance, Phillips selected a number of acoustic guitar and piano pieces, drawing mainly on tracks originally released on the albums The Geese and The Ghost, Private Parts and Pieces and A Catch at The Tables.
He also included two pieces from New England, the eighth volume in the Private Parts & Pieces series and a solo 12-string version of the first movement of a Guitar Quintet that he had composed in 1976; which had subsequently been scored with parts for strings and wind instruments, Conversation Piece.
2. 'Which Way the Wind Blows'
3. 'Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times'
4. 'Conversation Piece'
6. 'Field of Eternity'
8. 'Lights on the Hill'
9. 'Last Goodbyes'
12. 'Jaunty Roads'
13. 'Let Us Now Make Love'
14. 'Lucy: An Illusion'
Released back in 1995 as part of Phillips' "Living Room" concert series, which in itself was a quaint tradition that started in folk music circles and had since moved into some of the smaller genres of prog by then, the actual idea was that the musician in question would subsequently perform at the house of a generous (heavily donating) fan.
But because Phillips has always been so, well, for the sake of a more medical term, stage shy, his first foray into these "Living Room" concerts was actually done by not even leaving his very own front room!
Hence, the radio broadcast came directly from Phillips' own living room, which might explain why the recorded results are both low key and very intimate.
Opening with the delicate 'Reaper,' the lush orchestrations of the magnificent 'Which Way the Wind Blows' then bleed seamlessly into the near 12-minute work of music art, the Mike Rutherford co-written 'Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times.'
More of that ye olde vibe come through on 'Conversation Piece' which is itself backed by the jaunty guitar work of 'Flamingo,' the free flowing, ethereal at times 'Field of Eternity,' and then the heart rendering recollections of 'Sistine.'
The original album then rounds out with the thoughtfully stirring 'Lights on the Hill,' the ornate piano work of 'Last Goodbyes,' coming to a close with one of the best tracks (in my humble opinion), the fabulously fable like storytelling of 'Sleepfall.'
Unavailable on CD for many years, The "Living Room" Concert has been remastered and expanded to include three previously unreleased tracks recorded for the original broadcast: 'Jaunty Roads', 'Let Us Now Make Love' and 'Lucy: An Illusion'.
The first of those is the sweet and joyful, albeit short 'Jaunty Roads' which is backed by the seven minute, delicately piano-led 'Let Us Now Make Love,' with the mid-tempo pop prog ballad 'Lucy: An Illusion' rounding out the newly added trio.
Phillips' solo performances on guitar and piano with occasional vocals are simple yet assured here throughout, and his between-song banter is endearingly awkward.
It's unavoidable, however, that Phillips' material - possibly because he's never wanted to be a live performer - is simply not particularly suited to the stage.
In its original studio version, 'Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times' is a marvelous tapestry of interlocking classical guitar filigrees. However, live, it by necessity sounds a bit weedy and much less harmonically inventive, so to speak.
The two solo piano pieces at the end of the album, 'Last Goodbyes' and 'Collections' are more melodically interesting and richer sounding, especially the latter, and so as much as The "Living Room" Concert is clearly for Anthony Phillips fans only, it still remains a quite wonderful musical document, nonetheless.
This Esoteric Recordings edition restores the original artwork and includes new liner notes by Anthony Phillips archivist Jon Dann.
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Title - 'Self Made Man'
Artist - Larkin Poe
For those not in the know, Rebecca & Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe are singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist sisters creating their own brand of Roots Rock 'n' Roll: gritty, soulful, and flavored by their southern heritage.
Originally from Atlanta and currently living in Nashville, they are actually real-life descendants of tortured artist and creative genius Edgar Allan Poe.
After a remarkable two-year run that saw them earn a Grammy Award nomination for their last chart-topping studio album while touring the world from Nashville to New Zealand and back again, Larkin Poe have returned with what is undeniably their most wide-reaching, artistically adventurous, and self-determined work to date.
Once again taking the producer reins and releasing on their own Tricki-Woo Records label, Self Made Man (released June 12th, 2020) sees the multi-instrumentalist sister duo pushing their music and message towards hitherto unexplored terrain.
1. 'She's a Self Made Man'
2. 'Holy Ghost Fire'
3. 'Keep Diggin'
4. 'Back Down South'
5. 'Tears of Blue to Gold'
6. 'God Moves on the Water'
7. 'Every Bird That Flies'
9. 'Danger Angel'
11. 'Easy Street'
Inspired by their epic world travels, yet still powerfully rooted in the creative heritage of their beloved American South, they open with the powerful rock opera vibe of 'She's a Self Made Man,' back that up with the rock hipsway of 'Holy Ghost Fire,' and then bring us the more melodically leveled 'Keep Diggin', the lowdown blues of 'Back Down South,' and the upbeat, lighter guitar work of the nostalgic, finger-snappin' 'Tears of Blue to Gold.'
'God Moves on The Water' is a Gospel-vibed, hand-clappin' beauty and that's backed by the mid-tempo slide guitar, Eastern-infused rock of 'Every Bird That Flies,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the hard-hitting, Chicago blues of 'Scorpion.'
This quite vibrant and yet fully grounded album then rounds out with some brilliant bluesy guitar work found on 'Danger Angel,' the rough and ready 'Ex-Con,' and then comes to a close on the upbeat and perky, clap-long melodies of the late night, front porch-esque feel of 'Easy Street.'
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Larkin Poe @ YouTube
Title - 'The Proper Years' [2CD]
Artist - Bill Kirchen
For those not in the know, and telling it like it is, upon tallying how many decades he’s worked as a professional guitar slinger, Telecaster master Bill Kirchen quips, “Well, they don't make 50 years like they used to.”
They don’t often make careers like his, either. From performing with his Who Knows Pickers jug band in Ann Arbor High School’s senior talent show (also on the program: the future Iggy Pop), to birthing the Americana genre with the original “hippie country band,” Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, this affable Austinite has been everywhere, man, flying alongside some of the planet’s coolest cats — including the Jesus of Cool, Nick Lowe, and Lowe’s old protégé, Elvis Costello.
In fact, playing guitar has been his only job ever since. Over a ten-year period commencing in 2006, he made albums exclusively at Proper Records' Specific Sound studio in London.
Thus, all thirty-eight tracks, including some bonus material, are available come July 24th, 2020 (via The Last Music Company) in a quite magnificent, retrospective 2CD package, aptly entitled The Proper Years.
Featuring guest spots from the aforementioned Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, Kirchen also teams up with Paul Carrack, Commander Cody, Dan Hicks, Maria Muldaur, Butch Hancock, and many more in this tour-de-force of Americana and Alt. Country.
1. 'Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
2. 'Rocks Into Sand' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
3. 'Get A Little Goner' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
4. 'Skid Row In My Mind' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
5. 'Working Man' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
6. 'Soul Cruisin'' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
7. 'Truth Be Told' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
8. 'Devil With The Blue Dress'
9. 'One More Day' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
10. 'Heart Of Gold' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
11. 'If It's Really Got To Be This Way' (with Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins)
12. 'Bump Wood'
13. 'Shelly's Winter Love' (with Paul Carrack and Nick Lowe)
14. 'Man In The Bottom Of The Well' (with Elvis Costello)
15. 'I Don't Work That Cheap' (with Commander Cody)
16. 'Time Will Tell The Story'
17. 'Husbands And Wives' (with Chris O'Connell)
18. 'Open Range' (with Blackie Farrell)
19. 'Arkansas Diamond'
1. 'Word To The Wise' (with Dan Hicks)
2. 'Ain't Got Time For The Blues' (with Maria Muldaur)
3. 'Valley Of The Moon' (with Norton Buffalo)
4. 'Too Much Fun'
5. 'Tell Me The Reason'
6. 'Down To Seeds And Stems'
8. 'Rockabilly Funeral'
9. 'Womb To The Tomb'
10. 'Flip Flop'
11. 'Swing Fever'
12. 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry'
13. 'Truck Stop At The End Of The World'
14. 'Mama Hated Diesels'
15. 'Hot Rod Lincoln'
16. 'Talkin' About Chicken'
17. 'Think It Over' (with Austin de Lone)
18. 'Oxblood' (with Butch Hancock)
19. 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' (with Austin de Lone)
A well-balanced mix of engaging originals and wonderfully rendered covers, The Proper Years admirably conveys the Telecaster titan's versatility as a player and singer — one of the first to mash up rockabilly, country, Western swing, honky-tonk, jump blues, jazz, boogie-woogie and even the “psychedelic folk rock” he played with the Seventh Seal, the band he formed while attending the University of Michigan.
Kicking off in some fine old school rockin' swing style with the brilliant 'Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods' (the first of ten tracks accompanied by Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins, the latter a Welsh singer, songwriter, rock and roll pianist and accordionist), Kirchen then flows seamlessly into the countrified lo-fi ramble of 'Rocks Into Sand,' the mid-tempo honky tonk of 'Get A Little Goner' (which also features frequent contributor Sarah Brown; coincidentally also raised in Ann Arbor), and then the ballad 'Skid Row In My Mind' and the reverb club rock of 'Working Man.'
A musician more interested in sounding like Doc Watson than Eric Clapton, and whose main guitar was crafted by Rick Kelly of Carmine Street Guitars from 200-year-old pine floorboards recycled from film director Jim Jarmusch’s loft, next up is the gentle hipsway of 'Soul Cruisin' and balladeering craftmanship of 'Truth Be Told,' and then both the finger-snappin', slow roll flow of a later in life version of the song made into a hit by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels in 1966, 'Devil With The Blue Dress' and the perky 'One More Day' (once again featuring both Nick Lowe and Geraint Watkins - as are the next two tracks).
Taking a trip into the hue of Cash country, we head into 'Heart Of Gold' and then the mid-tempo lullaby of 'If It's Really Got To Be This Way' is brought forth. The tempo is punched back up for 'Bump Wood,' the harmonious magnificence of Merle Haggard’s 1971 ballad 'Shelly's Winter Love' (with Paul Carrack and Nick Lowe), and then we get my own personal favorite here, the Elvis Costello-enhanced 'Man In The Bottom Of The Well.'
The vibrant Hammond-inspired storytelling of 'I Don't Work That Cheap' (with Commander Cody) is yet another stand out cut and that's followed by the gentle foot-tappin' beats of 'Time Will Tell The Story.'
The alluring majesty of 'Husbands And Wives' (with former Asleep at the Wheel’s Chris O’Connell) is up next, with the first CD rounding out with the Americana vibe of both 'Open Range' (with guitarist Blackie Farrell) and then closing out with 'Arkansas Diamond.'
The second disc opens with the chatty musical reminiscing of 'Word To The Wise' (with Dan Hicks, who sadly died in 2016) and then follows that up with the mid-tempo, dulcet swing of 'Ain't Got Time For The Blues' (with folk and blues singer Maria Muldaur), the honky tonk 'Valley Of The Moon' (with Norton Buffalo, who played harmonica with the Airmen and Moonlighters, and who also passed away shortly after recording), and then jacks that rock guitar vibe up with 'Too Much Fun,' the foot-tappin' melodies of 'Tell Me The Reason,' and then the low slung ballad 'Down To Seeds And Stems.'
A devoted Anglophile, thanks to two aunts who married Brits, Kirchen began recording for the British label (distributed in the U.S. under the Proper American name) after owner Malcolm Mills promised, “I'm going to give you the best deal you've had in 25 years.”
He did, too, as personified in the fact that Mills not only supports Kirchen’s recorded output, he also supports the guitarist onstage, right alongside engineer/bassist Paul Riley.
Up next we get the precise finger-pickin' style, let alone a tutorial in how to play the bass, on the gently frenetic 'Semi-Truck,' which he backs up with the lo-fi 'Rockabilly Funeral,' the reminiscing of 'Womb To The Tomb,' and then both the funky 'Flip Flop' and the delightfully jaunty 'Swing Fever.'
The brilliant, laid back rock ambiance of 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry' is yet another highlight here, and that's backed by the more controlled frenzy of the Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen hit 'Truck Stop At The End Of The World,' and then comes the fun tone of 'Mama Hated Diesels' and the fast-paced storytelling of 'Hot Rod Lincoln.'
The Americana-countrified track 'Talkin' About Chicken' is always a finger-snappin' delight to behold, and that's backed by the vocal reaching expertise of 'Think It Over' (with keyboardist Austin de Lone), with this wondrous 2CD package coming to a close on the fully charged 'Oxblood' (with Butch Hancock), and then ends with a Tom Petty-esque rendition of Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' (once again with de Lone).
A mere 50 years later, and it's obvious that Kirchen’s still having a blast playing and making music. In fact, he’s even planning another tour with Riley and Mills, but as for releasing this new package, he says, “[It] nicely puts a bow on a whole, very enjoyable period of my life.”
“Not that it's over,” he adds quickly. “I mean, I’ve got more stuff in the works.”
Then he cracks, “Don’t tell anybody, but it's not as hard as it looks!”
CD Purchase Link
Bill Kirchen @ Facebook
Title - 'Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures' [2CD]
Artist - Mandoki Soulmates
L.A.-based indie label Cleopatra Records and Hungarian-born songwriter/producer/musician Leslie Mandoki, the mastermind behind the living, breathing art rock project Mandoki Soulmates, have just released the first full-length album since the two entities joined forces earlier this year.
Coming out on Cleopatra’s venerated progressive rock imprint, Purple Pyramid, home to such artists as Nektar, Tangerine Dream, Hawkwind-alumni project Hawkestrel, and Rick Wakeman, the album entitled Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures is actually a double album adding the 45-minute Prog Rock suite Hungarian Pictures, based on a musical concept by Deep Purple’s Jon Lord and ELP’s Greg Lake, to the original Living In The Gap album.
As with his other projects under the Mandoki Soulmates banner, Leslie Mandoki has brought together a Murderer’s Row of rock icons and musicians from some of the biggest names in prog and classic rock including Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson plus current and former members of Toto, Cream, Supertramp, ELP, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, and the list goes on!
The coming together of such a diverse cast perfectly expresses the album’s lyrical theme of unity, which couldn’t be a more timely message for today’s world.
Living in the Gap:
1. 'Living in the Gap'
2. 'Young Rebels'
3. 'Turn the Wind'
4. 'Where We Belong'
5. 'Let the Music Show You the Way'
6. 'Too Much Pride'
7. 'Old Rebels'
8. 'Welcome to Real Life'
9. 'Hottest Queen of Cool'
10. 'Wake Up'
11. 'Mother Europe'
12. 'I'm Not Your Enemy'
1. 'Sessions in the Village'
2. 'Utopia for Realists'
3. 'Transylvanian Dances'
4. 'You'll Find Me in Your Mirror'
5. 'Return to Budapest'
7. 'The Torch'
Opening with the pulsating one-two AOR punch of the title track 'Living in the Gap,' this concept double album about tribalism continues on seamlessly with the lush mid-tempo flow of both 'Young Revels' and 'Turn the Wind,' with the beautiful ballad 'Where We Belong' and the heartfelt and meaningful, acoustic guitar ballad 'Let the Music Show You the Way' along next.
For 'Too Much Pride' the band wander effortlessly into their jazz mode, and that's followed by the mid-tempo, foot-tappin' 'Old Rebels,' the sax-led 'Welcome to Real Life,' and then both the finger-snappin' hipsway of 'Hottest Queen of Cool' and the quite brilliant pop funk flow of 'Wake Up.'
Featuring flute work and vocals from Jethro Tull's very own Ian Anderson, the world historically slipping through our hands yearning of 'Mother Europe' is up next with the first album coming to a close with the Hammond vs. guitar masterpiece 'I'm Not Your Enemy.'
The second disc, Hungarian Pictures, opens with the dulcet piano and percussion work of 'Sessions in the Village,' and follows that up with the shoulder-to-shoulder, gently euphoric sway 'Utopia for Realists,' the near 20 minute 'Transylvanian Dances' and the soulful rhapsody of 'You'll Find Me in Your Mirror.'
This beautiful album then rounds out with the delicate, Sting-esque renderings of 'Return to Budapest,' the drum and percussion-led, all out musical behemoth 'Barbaro,' before coming to a close on the thought-provoking 'The Torch.'
If you are lucky enough to get the Box-Set Limited Deluxe Edition of this release, which features an expansive, glossy and oh-so colorful (and heavy) book along with both the vinyl 2LP and 2CD editions, trust me when I say that you will be experiencing a little bit of Heaven, my friends.
As for the overall release, Mandoki himself explains in the album’s video trailer (click link below), “We know that music is the greatest unifier…[These are] songs against division, from the old rebels to the young rebels. This is our time to take a breath for a better world.”
Watch the Entire Album Trailer Here!
Having already topped the Amazon Classic Rock Charts in Germany, Living In The Gap + Hungarian Pictures is poised to bring a whole new audience in North America, South America, the UK and beyond into the Soulmates’ family of fanatics.
LESLIE MANDOKI – vocals, drums, percussion & udu
BOBBY KIMBALL – vocals
CHRIS THOMPSON – vocals
IAN ANDERSON – vocals & flute
JACK BRUCE – vocals & bass
PETER MAFFAY – vocals
NICK VAN EEDE – vocals
DAVID CLAYTON-THOMAS – vocals
JULIA MANDOKI – vocals
AL DI MEOLA – guitars
MIKE STERN – guitars
RANDY BRECKER – trumpet & flügelhorn
ADA BRECKER – tenor & soprano saxophone
BILL EVANS – tenor & soprano saxophone
JOHN HELLIWELL – tenor, soprano, alto saxophone & clarinet
TILL BRÖNNER – trumpet
CORY HENRY – Hammond, piano & Rhodes
SIMON PHILLIPS – drums
TONY CAREY – vocals, Hammond & piano
JESSE SIEBENBERG – vocals
RICHARD BONA – bass & vocals
STEVE BAILEY – 6-string fretless bass
Amazon 2CD Purchase Link
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Title - 'Night Kisses: A Tribute to Ivan Lins'
Artist - Eddie Daniels
Off the heels of Grammy-nominated album, Heart of Brazil, comes jazz clarinet icon Eddie Daniels' new project, Night Kisses: A Tribute to Ivan Lins (out August 7th, 2020 via Resonance Records).
Paying tribute to the world-renowned Brazilian musician/composer Ivan Lins, it brings Daniels together with legendary jazz pianists Dave Grusin and Bob James, plus top-shelf trio-Josh Nelson, Kevin Axt, Mauricio Zottarelli - and the Grammy-winning Harlem Quartet.
Featuring songs from Lins' classic `70s/'80s albums and new arrangements by Kuno Schmid and Josh Nelson, Night Kisses allows fans old and new to once again immerse themselves in the Latin Grammy-winning Brazilian musicians work.
Eddie Daniels is that rarest of rare musicians who is not only equally at home in both jazz and classical music, but excels at both with breathtaking virtuosity.
Eddie first came to the attention of the jazz audience as a tenor saxophonist with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. When Thad and Mel first organized their band in 1966 to play Monday nights at the Village Vanguard in New York (where it still plays), Eddie was one of the first musicians they called.
Eddie Daniels is clearly a renaissance musician, a virtuoso in both jazz and classical music, recipient of unreserved accolades from his peers, from critics, and from the public.
Having been an active performer and songwriter of Brazilian popular music and jazz for over thirty years, 75 year-old Ivan Lins has seen his own songs covered by such notables as Patti Austin, David Benoit, George Benson, Michael Bublé, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Horn, Quincy Jones, the Manhattan Transfer, Sérgio Mendes, Jane Monheit, Lee Ritenour, Sarah Vaughan, Diane Schuur, Sting, Barbra Streisand, and oh-so many more.
1. 'A Voz Do Povo' (The Voice of the People)
2. 'Pano de Fundo' (Backdrop)
3. 'Mãos de Afeto' (Hands of Affection)
4. 'D’Aquilo Que Eu Sei' (That Which I Know)
5. 'Velas Içadas' (Hoisted Sails)
6. 'Dinorah, Dinorah'
7. 'Cantor Da Noite' (The Night Singer)
8. 'Quadras De Roda: O Passarinho Cantou' (The Little Bird Sang)
9. 'Amor' (Love)
10. 'Lembra' (Remember)
11. 'Depois dos Temporais' (After the Storms)
12. 'A Noite' (The Night)
Produced by Resonance founder and co-president George Klabin with arrangements by pianists Josh Nelson, Kuno Schmid, Dave Grusin and Bob James, Daniels kicks things off in fine style with the building euphoria, and subsequent liveliness of 'A Voz Do Povo,' and backs that up with the country lane drive, windows down vibe of 'Pano de Fundo,' the dulcet, and measured hue of 'Mãos De Afeto' (featuring Dave Grusin), and the sonically free-wheelin' majesty of 'D'Aquilo Que Eu Sei.'
Next up is the cinematically-imbued 'Velas Içadas' which is followed by the perky ambitions of 'Dinorah Dinorah,' the mid-tempo decadence of 'Cantor Da Noite,' some rather playful notes found within 'Quadras De Roda,' and then the laid back, soulful late night jazz club ambiance of the ballad 'Amor.'
This quite delightfully orchestrated new album then rounds out with the quiet, piano-led ballad 'Lembra' (featuring Bob James), the sweepingly gorgeous 'Depois Dos Temporais' (featuring Dave Grusin), and then comes to a close on Umansky's cello work on 'A Noite,' and finally an original composition, the wistful 'Ivante' (again with Dave Grusin and also Bob James).
“It’s jazz, it’s beauty and it opens the heart,” is how six-time GRAMMY-nominated horn player Eddie Daniels describes his brand new album, Night Kisses: A Tribute to Ivan Lins.
“I was kind of befuddled because I loved the music, but I didn’t know if I could live up to the kind of heart that Ivan puts into the music that is so soulful," he continues.
"He became so special to me because of his singing, the heart – it’s raw, beautiful and emotional. I kept saying ‘How am I going to live up to this on a clarinet or a saxophone?’"
"The great thing about George [producer and conceptualizer, George Klabinis] that he wanted to do music that was not so popular, that was older music by Ivan Lins, so you could say that most of this music I knew nothing of,” Daniels adds, himself a New Yorker who has lived in Santa Fe for several decades.
Eddie Daniels – Clarinet, Flute, Tenor Sax
Bob James – Piano, Keyboards
Dave Grusin – Piano
Josh Nelson – Piano
Mauricio Zottarelli – Drums
Kevin Axt – Bass
Ilmar Gavilan – 1st Violin
Melissa White – 2nd Violin
Jaime Amador – Viola
Felix Umansky – Cello
Official CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Tomorrow Seems Like Yesterday'
Artist - Peter Galperin
For those not in the know, Peter Galperin writes songs about the people, places and things he loves, with a healthy combination of humor, skepticism, and honesty.
He admits to what he doesn't understand and questions what he already knows, in a unique musical style that fuses world rhythms with rock, country and folk melodies.
Here on this sixth album, Tomorrow Seems Like Yesterday, Galperin's theatrical rock and pop sensibilities come to the fore, once again, to bring us seven brand new tracks of pure, unadulterated musical genius.
1. 'Nature of Your Kind'
2. 'Never Too Young'
3. 'Digital Friend'
4. 'Don't Need to Know'
5. 'Another Drink'
6. 'As Good as It Gets'
7. 'Won't Let Go'
Recorded at Virtue and Vice Studios, Brooklyn, NY, Galperin kicks things off with a quite wondrous brass intro to the whistling pop fun of 'Nature of Your Kid,' and backs that up with the mid-tempo rock of 'Never Too Young,' and then the finger-snappin', elegant pop stroll of the harmonious 'Digital Friend'.
The acoustic guitar-led 'Don't Need to Know' is a joy to behold and is followed by more whistling on the upbeat 'Another Drink,' with the album rounding out with his jangly flashback on life found within 'As Good as It Gets,' and then coming to a close on the harmonica-driven 'Won't Let Go.'
Official Purchase Link
Peter Galperin @ Facebook
Title - 'In A Vigil State'
Artist - The Grand Undoing
For those not in the know, The Grand Undoing is a rotating collective of like-minded players anchored by founder, lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Seth Goodman.
Their critically acclaimed 2016 release, Sparks Rain Down From The Lights Of Love, was a hard act to follow. Yet the band kept the groove going, and then some.
The brand new, and highly anticipated fourth album by the Boston-based The Grand Undoing, In A Vigil State (releasing August 14th, 2020 via Secret Candy Rock Records) boasts 10 songs that delve into the changing seasons of life, and the dichotomy of being both very small yet of the infinite.
Indeed, Goodman deconstructs and reconstructs his way into a sonic space that’s beyond the past, present and future. He grabs you right away with inventive arrangements and delights you by infusing each with sonic surprises, then weaves it all together with a dazzling studio sheen.
1. 'Into The Glitter' (5:18)
2. 'A Little Piece Of Ground' (2:36)
3. 'Highway (You Can Ride Away)' (4:32)
4. 'Wave' (4:38)
5. 'See All I See' (3:04)
6. 'Darkness' (4:03)
7. 'Sunsetter' (4:40)
8. 'Silver Songs' (3:18)
9. 'Step In' (3:14)
10. 'Giving All My Things Away' (4:35)
Formulated from an intentional decision not to repeat himself, Goodman's conscious effort to broaden his musical horizons and not fall back into comfortable, all-too familiar ground, is showcased to perfection here on In A Vigil State.
From the opening track, the breezy, yet darkly upbeat 'Into the Glitter,' you know you have an album of great meaning, of earnest depth, of true, unadulterated resonance coming out of your speakers, for it veritably oozes a magnificent, profound, retro pop swagger, that has been missing from all "music" made in the past 30+ years.
"Ride out the summer on a crystal chandelier
One more for the road and the reasons
that we're even standing here
Bang bang the essence of the frozen heart's brigade
they left the stage when the lights went down
I'm wishing they were still around But I’m afraid they've ascended somehow
into the glitter,
forever, in the sky
while we're sitting here broken, in the mire, looking high"
I mean, come on now, who even lyrically thinks like this any more?! I could go on in much the same gushingly poetic vein about each track, but suffice to say that In A Vigil State, chock full of complex background vocal arrangements, and at times featuring a heavy, but never overwhelming use of the Mellotron, and which noticeably contains a far more involved production aesthetic than prior endeavors, is, quite easily, my favorite album of 2020.
For me, although I'm sure you all will have your own personal favorites, other stand outs here are 'A Little Piece Of Ground,' a song about trying to find meaning and peace amidst an unending cycle of making progress and then being thwarted, the pure power pop ambiance of 'Wave,' and 'Darkness, a track about the inevitability of death, and the grief, helplessness, and ultimate beauty that typically accompanies it, all come together to help form what could well be the most musically and lyrically satisfying album of recent times.
A labyrinth of creatively mixed tracks, all themselves embracing the ethos of prog, psychedelia, alt-punk, and pop rock, the new album brings forth an abundance of catchy hooks and driving beats, and will, without a shadow of a doubt, have you replaying it over and over.
Current Line-Up: Any Plaisted (drums), Dave Westner (bass, keys and percussion), Tom Henneberry (guitars), Chris Coughlin (keys), Ted Powers (back up singer), and BJ Cole, Dana Colley and Chris Nole.
The Grand Undoing @ Facebook
Title - 'Press On'
Artist - Peter Himmelman
For those not in the know, Peter Himmelman is a critically lauded rock troubadour, a Grammy nominated creator of children's music, an Emmy nominated film and television composer, a visual artist, pioneering webcast host, and founder of Big Muse, an organization devoted to the development of innovation and leadership skills.
The prolific Minneapolis-weaned singer-songwriter and muse recently moved from his longtime home of Santa Monica, Calif. to the upper west side of New York, just to shake things up (and see fellow members of his species on the city streets, which is not always the case in L.A.).
He’s also become a first-time grandfather during the Quarantine, his new grandson depicted on the album cover art on his brand new album, Press On (due out July 31st, 2020 via his own label, Himmasongs).
The 13-track album, which was recorded live in Los Feliz, California in a total of just three days, and solely on his acoustic guitar, was originally musically way more however. "I’d written a slew of about 40 new songs and eventually left them behind for the ones that appear on Press On,” Himmelman explains. "I needed to make something that was different enough to justify people listening to another Peter Himmelman record.”
1. 'Suite for Tambourine and Hand Claps'
2. 'This is How it Ends'
3. 'The Wall of the Trumpets and the Clatter of the Hoofbeats'
4. 'Press On'
5. 'A Place in Your Heart'
6. 'Straw and Kerosene'
7. 'Flying Sideways 'cross the Blacktop'
8. 'Truth Proffered in a Hard Time'
9. 'Outside Looking In'
10. 'Wither You Go'
11. 'It Seems We Never Rest'
12. 'Big Red Moon'
13. 'This is My Offering'
Opening with the laid back, folk rock ambiance of 'Suite for Tambourine and Hand Claps' he backs that up with the album's first single, the dulcetly magnificent 'This is How it Ends' and then follows that up with both the simply divine, rock guitar-led 'The Wall of the Trumpets and the Clatter of the Hoofbeats' and then the gritty storytelling of the title track.
The Gospel-tinged, lush love song 'A Place in Your Heart' is one of the stand out moments here, and that's followed by the upbeat, rawly strummed melodies of 'Straw and Kerosene,' the foot-tappin' 'Flying Sideways 'cross the Blacktop,' and then the truly melodious 'Truth Proffered in a Hard Time.'
The tempo comes right back down for the ballad 'Outside Looking In,' raises once more for the rattlesnake boogie of 'Wither You Go,' then we get the mid-tempo, finger-snappin' vibe of 'It Seems We Never Rest,' before the album comes to a close on the beautiful, enriched piano ballad 'Big Red Moon,' and then the acoustic guitar balladeering of 'This is My Offering.'
The session for Press On involved bassist/co-producer Matt Thompson, drummer Jimi Englund, keyboardist Chris Joyner, and longtime Himmelman collaborator/guitarist Greg Herzenach.
Co-producer and engineer Sheldon Gomberg made sure the live takes were left as unadulterated as possible, with any overdubs obviously kept to the barest minimum.
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Peter Himmelman @ Facebook
Peter Himmelman @ Twitter
Title - 'The Boy in the Sailor Suit: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Dave Cousins
For those not in the know, Esoteric Recordings have just released a new remastered and expanded edition of the 2007 solo album by Strawbs founder, Dave Cousins.
The Boy in the Sailor Suit was Cousins’ second solo album, appearing thirty-five years after his first solo outing Two Weeks Last Summer.
Indeed, the album was a fine collection of personal songs and was produced by Chris Tsangarides.
For the recording sessions Cousins assembled a fine cast of musicians; Miller Anderson (guitar), Chas Cronk (bass), Ian Cutler (fiddle) and Chris Hunt (drums) with guests Chris Ball (piano), Tony Attwood (organ) and Elizabeth & Francis Tophill (vocal harmonies).
The ensemble was to be known as The Blue Angel Orchestra, a reference to the epic track on Cousins’ first solo album.
Following a few days rehearsal in Teddington, the album was recorded and mixed in just a week at Chris Tsangarides’ studio in Kent, with most tracks recorded live, giving the album a fine spontaneity.
Furthermore, the finished album was widely praised upon its release by both Strawbs fans and critics alike and now, here once again, this time remastered and expanded, well, it lives on again in all its musical splendor.
1. 'Never Take Sweets from a Stranger'
2. 'Mellow Moon'
3. 'The Smile You Left Behind'
4. 'Calling Out My Name'
5. 'Mother Luck'
6. 'Wish You Were Here'
7. 'Skip to My Lou'
8. 'Lonely Days, Lonely Nights'
9. 'Bringing in the Harvest'
10. 'Hellfire Blues'
11. 'Never Take Sweets from a Stranger' (Live)
12. 'Skip to My Lou' (Live 2009)
13. 'Hellfire Blues' (Live 2009)
Opening with the wonderful pop bounce of 'Never Take Sweets from a Stranger,' he backs that up with the laid back, hazy lazy swirling psych ambiance of 'Mellow Moon,' the earnest storytelling of 'The Smile You Left Behind,' and both the mid-tempo guitar rock of 'Calling Out My Name' and then the rockier 'Mother Luck.'
The Celtic-boned 'Wish You Were Here' is followed by Cousins' rendition (if only on the chorus) of 'Skip to My Lou' (which here he turns into a lo-fi Creole folk song), and then comes the magnificent, low-key tales of love from yonder days, 'Lonely Days, Lonely Nights.'
More Celtic-inspired vibes are brought to the fore on the forlorn, tinged with sadness mood of 'Bringing in the Harvest' with the original album closing on the blues-rocker, 'Hellfire Blues.'
Unavailable for some years, The Boy in the Sailor Suit has been newly re-mastered and expanded to include three bonus tracks, featuring live performances of songs from the album, recorded in the USA in 2008 and in the UK in 2009.
The first is 'Never Take Sweets from a Stranger' (recorded at Shank Hall, Milwaukee on March 18th, 2008), with both 'Skip to My Lou' and 'Hellfire Blues' both recorded at the Strawbs' 40th Anniversary Celebration, Twickenham, on the 12th/13th of September, 2009.
This release features the original artwork and booklet liner notes by Dave Cousins.
Official CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Transitory' [EP]
Artist - Dr. Chrispy
For those not in the know, Dr. Chrispy is an award-winning aeronautical engineer, and music producer who has spent the last 15 years tragically torn between two loves: Music and Space Exploration.
Having worked at NASA for almost five years inventing new kinds of spacecraft, Chris went on to co-found the company Planet Labs, which launched and monitors over 200 spacecraft that create a daily map of the global environment.
Transitory, his fifth release due out August 7th, 2020, and which follows the release of his 2018 debut album VHS, the 2019 singles 'Drive' and 'Voyager at the Heliopause', and the subsequent VHS Remixed album, the EP is a collection of short stories, each one a first person narrative from a different speaker.
With the stories woven over old school beats and instrumentation, every track features sampled monologues or dialogue with a mixture of live, sampled, and electronic instruments to create a nostalgic feeling that is simultaneously comforting yet unfamiliar.
Indeed, there’s a four-on-the-floor beat and some outside-the-box instrumentation for the dance genre, including saxophone.
With this new release, Dr. Chrispy explores the unconventional, but presents it in a familiar and digestible format with mid-tempo dance beats.
The three different tracks, each with distinct themes, cycle from morning, to afternoon, to evening, mirroring our own self-reflections as we move through our day.
We are different people late at night than we are early in the morning; who we really are is transitory.
1. 'Transitory Morning' (Emotional Dynamics)
2. 'Transitory Afternoon' (Pioneer Material)
3. 'Transitory Evening' (Afro Travel) feat. Haji Mike
4. 'Transitory Evening' feat. Haji Mike (Med Dred Afro Jungle Remix)
5. 'Transitory Evening' feat. Haji Mike (Synthapex Remix)
6. 'Transitory Afternoon' (Psybolord Remix)
7. 'Transitory Morning' (Aeronexus Remix)
Working throughout with contributing artists to bring their own unique perspectives to the EP, The Stunt Man (aka Greg Mindorff) is a music producer, DJ, fellow space enthusiast, and Grammy-nominated mastering engineer from Vancouver who mastered the entire Transitory experience.
The three 'Transitory Evening' tracks feature Haji Mike, an artist who takes whatever he puts his musical mind to and takes it to another level completely.
Indeed, he contributed dub poetry vocals to the track 'Transitory Evening (Afro Travel)' track, and it simply has to be heard to be believed, trust me.
Haji Mike started DJ'ing music in 1979 and as a musician is known for his hybrid of Jamaican dancehall and Cypriot melodies which he calls “Vraggamuffin,” and he is also a dub poet and DJ playing on various radio stations around the world.
The 'Afro Jungle remix is also the creation of producer, composer, and arranger Med Dred, a roots, reggae, and dub melodica soloist and reggae music specialist.
On the third iteration, contributing a remix of that same track, Hadfes Oblivion is the man behind Synthapex. With a background in metal, Hadfes Oblivion has played in a number of bands and now, with Synthapex, is exploring the electronic and synth wave genres.
'Transitory Afternoon' features Psybolord, a Moscow-based producer who has gone from deathcore to electronic music. He seamlessly merges techno with Russian folk motifs, and classical music organically gets along with synth wave and French-electro.
Closing the EP is a remix of the track 'Transitory Morning' from Aeronexus, a solo project by Harry Rowlands, who expertly produces '80s movie soundtrack-inspired tracks mixed in with synth wave.
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Title - 'Kingmaker: Everything Changed 1991-1995' [5CD]
Artist - Kingmaker
For those not in the know, Kingmaker were explosive ‘new cool rock’ and part of the pre-Brit Pop indie rock scene in the early 1990s.
Kingmaker released 10 singles / EP's during the period 1991-1995 signed to Chrysalis.
Everything Changed: 1991-1995' (released July 31st, 2020) is the definitive Kingmaker document and is also the most complete collection of Kingmaker's recordings available.
It is a comprehensive 5CD set of almost 90 tracks, combining the band's three studio albums Eat Yourself Whole (1991), Sleepwalking (1993) and In The Best Possible Taste (1995) along with two CDs packed full of bonus material.
Disc One - Eat Yourself Whole (1991):
2. 'Really Scrape the Sky'
3. 'Two Headed, Yellow Bellied Hole Digger'
7. 'When Lucy's Down'
9. 'Lady Shakespeare's Bomb'
10. 'Everything in Life'
11. 'High As a Kite'
12. 'Where You Stand' [Bonus Track]
13. 'Join the Human Race' [Bonus Track]
14. 'This Time This Town This Sea' [Bonus Track]
15. 'Wonderful Garden' [Bonus Track]
16. 'Pockets of St. Malachi' (Live) [Bonus Track]
17. 'Really Scrape the Sky' (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
18. 'Revelation' (Bombay Mix) [Bonus Track]
A veritable must-have for any fan of the band and indie rock fans everywhere, the first disc features the 10 tracks of the band’s first album, Eat Yourself Whole plus seven related bonus tracks.
I was actually around and living in the UK when Kingmaker first formed and started to impact the charts, in a low level way, and in truth, well, the band were for sure built up with much hype with the press as being the next new thing of a musical era that in the blink of an eye they had already been forgotten about.
That said, Kingmaker's first album (UK #29) is easy to get into, features some very catchy tracks and the singles released won them the most attention during the early '90s, and rightly so.
There were actually two (2) versions released of the album, one for the UK and the other for the US. The UK version had 'Wave' and 'Everything In Life' instead of 'Where You Stand' and 'Eat Yourself Whole' that were on the US version.
Personally, I think the track listing was a let down on the US version as there just wasn't the same consistency as there was on the UK version.
Stand out tracks, in my humble opinion, were 'Really Scrape The Sky,' 'Freewheeling,' 'Loveless/Defamed,' 'When Lucy's Down' and 'High As A Kite.'
Disc Two - Sleepwalking (1993):
1. 'Playground Brutality'
2. 'Armchair Anarchist'
3. 'Queen Jane'
4. 'Sad to See You Go'
5. 'Help Yourself'
6. 'Tomorrow's World'
7. 'Ten Years Asleep'
8. 'Honesty Kills'
9. 'Sequinned Thug'
10. 'Sleepwalking in the Five O'Clock Shadow'
11. 'Stay Free'
12. 'Pyromaniacs Anonymous'
13. 'Eat Yourself Whole' [Bonus Track]
14. 'Pyjama Girl' [Bonus Track]
15. 'Highway's Gate' [Bonus Track]
16. 'Everything's Changed (Since You've Been to London)' [Bonus Track]
17. 'Kissing Under Anaesthetic' [Bonus Track]
18. 'Stained and Sinking Fast' [Bonus Track]
This second disc features the 12 tracks off their second album, Sleepwalking plus six bonus tracks.
With the mix of excellent musicianship, catchy tunes and Loz Hardy's bitter world view lyrics, the combination made Kingmaker stand out from their peers during the early '90s with this, their sophomore album (UK #15).
It's a shame Kingmaker never got any more popular than they were at this juncture of their career, but as aforementioned, the musical tide changed, the press moved onto other bands, and this band just ebbed gently away.
But, as for this great album, to my mind, the best songs on here have to be 'Armchair Anarchist,' 'Sad To See You Go,' 'Ten Years Asleep' and 'Honesty Kills' - but, trust me, all the other songs are equally brilliant.
Disc Three - Bonus Tracks:
1. 'Genuine Liar'
2. 'Lady Madonna'
3. 'When Lucy's Down' (Live)
5. 'High As a Kite' (Live)
6. 'Hard Times' (Live)
7. 'Broadmoor Hotel'
8. 'Don't Come Over'
9. 'I'm in Love'
10. 'Queen Jane' (E.P. Version)
11. 'Your Place'
12. 'Electric Sue'
13. 'No Way Out'
14. 'Sequinned Thug' ('92 Version)
15. 'Sick and Angry Children'
16. 'Flesh Phobia'
17. 'Saturday's Not What It Used to Be'
18. 'Armchair Anarchist' (Live)
19. 'Highway's Gate' (Live)
20. 'Freewheeling' (Live)
Now we get into the true melodic heart of the band, with this third disc featuring 20 Bonus Tracks sourced from the band’s numerous EP, 12” and CD single releases.
Oh boy, now this is truly the Kingmaker, tune-making goldmine here as tracks that should have been on vinyl 12"s and such, were now being sourced out by newly manufactured CD singles!
They never sounded the same and they sure weren't as collectible as our beloved 7" single and 12" single poster bags and picture discs, but here they were anyway, all brought forth on nice and shiny "indestructible" discs!
Again, this disc is worth the price of the entire box-set alone as it features stand out cuts such as 'Broadmoor Hotel,' 'Electric Sue,' 'Flesh Phobia,' and vibrant, raw live cuts of 'High As a Kite,' 'Hard Times' and two of my own favorites, the always excellent to hear 'Armchair Anarchist' and the brilliant 'Freewheeling.'
Disc Four - In The Best Possible Taste (1995):
1. 'In the Best Possible Taste (Part 2)'
2. 'You and I Will Never See Things Eye to Eye'
3. 'Hey, Birdman'
4. 'Frustrated Gangster'
5. 'Story of My Life'
6. 'Sometimes I Think She Takes Me Along Just for the Ride'
7. 'One False Move'
8. 'Side By Side'
9. 'A Fool Like You'
10. 'End of the Line'
11. 'In the Best Possible Taste (Part 1)'
12. 'Backroom Boys' [Bonus Track]
13. 'Another Bad Dose of Home Truths' [Bonus Track]
14. 'Dissatisfaction Guaranteed' [Bonus Track]
15. 'Amateur's Lullaby' [Bonus Track]
This fourth disc features the band’s third and final studio album, In The Best Possible Taste plus four bonus tracks.
In truth, this final studio offering (UK #79) from the pre-Brit-pop UK darlings was a rather pompous, sprawling expression of bandleader/singer/songwriter Loz Hardy's considerable talent and ego!
A little too serious to be taking seriously, Hardy tries a little too hard to be clever, and his Billy Idol-meets-glam rock delivery comes off a little cartoonish at times.
That said, the near-epic 'Sometimes I Think She Takes Me Along Just for the Ride' is a fine example of Hardy's ability to make interesting, existential pop despite his propensity for excessive and unnecessary verbiage.
So yeah, some of the tracks were vividly sarcastic and some were even fanciful tunes of the highest order, but the world had lost interest in them and so this album was released, as they say, wrong time, wrong place.
Disc Five - Extra Bonus Tracks:
1. 'If You Were Mine'
2. 'Friends in Low Places'
4. 'Warm Heart, Cold Feet'
5. 'You and I Will Never See Things Eye to Eye' (Single Edit)
6. 'Bitch of a Son'
7. 'You of All People'
8. 'Everything's Changed Since You've Been to London)' (Live)
9. 'Eat Yourself Whole' (Live)
10. 'Every Teenage Suicide' (Live)
11. 'Really Scrape the Sky' (Thompson / Barbiero Mix)
12. 'Every Teenage Suicide'
13. 'Strip Away'
14. 'Never Too High to Fall'
15. 'Lies Before Kisses'
16. 'Loose Lips Sink Ships'
17. 'Gimme Shelter'
The fifth and final disc features even more bonus tracks, inclusive of some more live tracks, b-sides and extra mixes.
Chock full of Loz Hardy's snarky witticisms peppered throughout, this is yet another wondrous selection of Extra Bonus Tracks that will have you falling back in love with the band at their best.
All the music here, as a whole, gels a lot better as a group, as they did in their singular pockets spread across their musical timeline, that's for sure.
With Hardy having found his thunder completely stolen soon after Sleepwalking by Oasis, whose Jam/Smiths worship was transformed into something truly spectacular, on balance, any song around that time, and subsequent live tracks and b-sides were much more enjoyable to listen to, in my humble opinion.
Thus, the stand out tracks here for me are 'You and I Will Never See Things Eye to Eye' (Single Edit), 'Every Teenage Suicide,' 'Strip Away,' all the live cuts, and especially the US remix of 'Really Scrape The Sky' by Thompson & Barbiero.
Everything Changed has been made with the full cooperation of the band and includes photographs and memorabilia from their personal archives that are featured within the accompanying 28-page booklet.
Each CD comes in a paper wallet featuring original album and single artwork. Alongside a full UK discography there are sleeve notes written by bassist, Myles Howell.
Title - 5 Doo-Wop Recording CDs from Coed Records
Artist - Various
For those not in the know, five collections by doo-wop groups on the influential Coed Records label will be released this year by Omnivore Recordings.
The titles include: The Rivieras (The Coed Singles), The Duprees (with two separate volumes, The Coed Singles and The Coed Albums: You Belong to Me/Have You Heard), The Crests (The Best of the Crests featuring Johnny Mastro: 16 Fabulous Hits), and Adam Wade (The Coed Albums: And Then Came Adam/Adam and Evening).
All five will be available on CD and Digital and the actual street dates for the Rivieras and the Duprees’ The Coed Singles is July 24th, 2020; street date for the Crests is July 31st; and the Duprees’ The Coed Albums and Adam Wade on August 7th.
Based in New York’s legendary Brill Building — home to pop and Tin Pan Alley songwriters and labels through the 1950s and ’60s — Coed Records was the fledgling venture of ex-big bandleader George Paxton and business partner Marvin Cane.
The two founders were more into Glenn Miller than doo-wop, but they hired a stable of R&B-savvy songwriters. And as the youngsters who dominated the record-buying public stocked up on Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, and Ricky Nelson platters, Coed nurtured vocal groups who could handle the classic pop standards of a bygone era, yet update those chestnuts enough to appeal to a new generation of listeners.
Among the label’s biggest hits were the Crests’ '16 Candles' and the Duprees’ 'You Belong to Me' and 'Why Don’t You Believe Me,' all included in Omnivore’s reissues.
Coed thrived from its inception in 1958 until 1965 and one of its most famous employees was promotion man Jerry Moss, a future founder of A&M Records with Herb Alpert.
The Rivieras: The Coed Singles
1. 'Count Every Star'
2. 'True Love Is Hard To Find'
3. 'Moonlight Serenade'
4. 'Neither Rain Nor Snow'
5. 'Our Love' (The Rivieras with Orch. under the direction of George Paxton)
6. 'Midnight Flyer' (The Rivieras with Orch. under the direction of George Paxton)
7. 'Since I Made You Cry' (The Rivieras with George Paxton & His Orchestra)
8. '11th Hour Melody' (The Rivieras with George Paxton & His Orchestra)
9. 'Moonlight Cocktails'
10. 'Blessing Of Love'
11. 'My Friend John'
12. 'Great Big Eye'
13. 'Stay In My Heat'
14. 'Easy To Remember'
15. 'El Dorado'
17. 'My Silent Love' [Bonus Track]
18. 'Serenade In Blue' [Bonus Track]
With precise vocal harmonies and meaningful lyrics, The Rivieras grew out of late ’50s, R&B/doo-wop ensembles; they ran through the names Five Bob-O-Links, the Four Arts, and El Rivieras before settling on The Rivieras.
Purveyors of classic New Jersey doo-wop in the ballad style, they made their mark covering tunes that had been made famous by big bandleaders such as Ray Anthony and Glenn Miller.
Omnivore now brings us all of their Coed singles, plus two bonus tracks, amounting to all the released output by the group.
One of the sleeper groups of the doo-wop era, The Rivieras took pure pop songs and turned them into R&B balladry. Which wasn't exactly what Glenn Miller had in mind when he and his first came up with 'Moonlight Serenade' and 'Moonlight Cocktails,' but then Artie Shaw didn't exactly think he was telegraphing R&B when former swing saxophonist Earl Bostic turned his 'Temptation' into an early soul stomper, either!
But The Rivieras were good at locking onto a thematic formula, from the moment their version of 'Moonlight Serenade' got into the top fifty. They were also clever harmony singers, a few cuts beyond the more commercial vocal groups of the time.
They left a legacy as both a group you'd love to hear serenade you and your woman at the local dance - and the guys you want to be part of setting the mood when you hop up to Lover's Lane; if you can find them!
The Rivieras: The Coed Singles CD Official Purchase Link
The Duprees: The Coed Albums: You Belong To Me/Have You Heard
You Belong To Me
1. 'You Belong To Me'
3. 'Why Don't You Believe Me'
4. 'September In The Rain'
5. 'Take Me As I Am'
6. 'The Things I Love'
7. 'My Own True Love' (Tara’s Theme from Gone With The Wind)
8. 'As Time Goes By'
9. 'Let's Make Love Again'
10. 'These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)'
11. 'My Dearest One'
12. 'I Wish I Could Believe You'
Have You Heard (featuring Joey Vann)
1. '(It's No) Sin'
2. 'I'd Rather Be Here In Your Arms'
5. 'I Gotta Tell Her Now'
6. 'It Isn't Fair'
7. 'Have You Heard'
8. 'Love Eyes'
9. 'Gone With The Wind'
10. 'So Little Time'
11. 'The Sand And The Sea'
12. 'Where Are You'
Signed to Coed in 1962 from a demo tape, The Duprees — some of them still teenagers upon signing — combined the sounds of big band orchestrations with harmony-heavy vocals.
Their remake of the Jo Stafford hit 'You Belong to Me' was a #7 hit in the summer of 1962 and was also their Coed debut.
They landed their second single, 'My Own True Love' (a song widely known as “Tara’s Theme” from the film Gone With the Wind), at #13.
The chart hits kept coming through the fall of 1964, when lead vocalist Joey Vann departed in an attempt at a solo career (Coed issued his debut single.)
Though the group carried on, signing to Columbia and Heritage, their heyday was at Coed. The Coed Singles features all the Duprees’ A- & B-sides for the label, while their two LPs are collected on The Coed Albums.
These guys had a sound that was similar to other Doo Wop groups but with their own unique harmony and easy to listen to voices. Their harmony is as good as any of the top groups of that era and just a step below Dion and the Belmonts.
Known more for their ballads it was certain that when one of them was played at a sock hop, the floor would be packed with slow dancers.
Every song on this two-album CD is easy to listen too. Those that you'll remember (or if you weren't around in that era, the ones that were their biggest hits) 'You Belong To Me,' 'Have You Heard,' and 'My Own True Love' are here and bring back memories of last dances.
One of my own personal favorites, 'Why Don't You Believe Me,' has the sound of a slow big band era song, but with Doo Wop harmony and performed with excellence.
The Duprees: The Coed Albums: You Belong To Me/Have You Heard CD Official Purchase Link
The Duprees: The Coed Singles
1. 'You Belong To Me' (The Duprees)
2. 'Take Me As I Am' (The Duprees)
3. 'My Own True Love' (Tara's Theme from Gone With The Wind) (The Duprees)
4. 'Ginny' (The Duprees)
5. 'I Wish I Could Believe You' (The Duprees)
6. 'I'd Rather Be Here In Your Arms' (The Duprees)
7. 'Gone With The Wind' (The Duprees)
8. 'Let's Make Love Again' (The Duprees)
9. 'I Gotta Tell Her Now' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
10. 'Why Don't You believe Me' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
11. 'The Things I Love' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
12. 'My Dearest One' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
13. 'Have You Hear' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
14. 'Love Eyes' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
15. '(It's No) Sin' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
16. 'The Sand And The Sea' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
17. 'Where Are You' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
18. 'Please Let Her Know' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
19. 'So Many Have Told Me' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
20. 'Unbelievable' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
21. 'So Little Time' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
22. 'It Isn't Fair' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
23. 'I'm Yours' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
24. 'Wishing Ring' (The Duprees featuring Joey Vann)
25. 'Try To Remember' (Joey Vann with Artie Wayne Singers)
26. 'My Love, My Love' (Joey Vann with Artie Wayne Singers)
The Duprees: The Coed Singles CD Official Purchase Link
The Crests: The Best of the Crests featuring Johnny Mastro: 16 Fabulous Hits
1. '16 Candles'
2. 'A Year Ago'
3. 'Six Nights A Week'
4. 'Angels Listened In'
5. 'Gee (But I'd Give The World)'
6. 'Step By Step'
7. 'I Thank The Moon'
8. 'Pretty Little Angel'
9. 'Journey Of Love'
10. 'Trouble In Paradise'
11. 'Earth Angel'
12. 'Flower Of Love'
13. Always You'
14. 'If My Heart Could Write A Letter'
15. 'Molly Mae'
16. 'Isn't It Amazing'
Though there were other integrated ’50s vocal groups, The Crests demonstrated that musical and racial harmony went hand in hand.
From the liner notes by Bill Dahl: “Several integrated 1950s vocal groups preceded them, notably the Meadowlarks and Del-Vikings, but this young quartet from the lower East Side of Manhattan took the concept to the ultimate."
"Powerhouse lead singer John Mastrangelow (shortened to Mastro and then Maestro), born May 7, 1939 and of Italian-American ancestry, was joined by African American first tenor Talmadge “Tommy” Gough and bass singer J.T. Carter and second tenor Harold “Chico” Torres, who was of Puerto Rican descent. They found heavenly unity by crooning sweet doo-wop.”
One of the best groups of their day, this new collection includes their biggest hit, 'Sixteen Candles' as well as other hits like 'Trouble in Paradise,' 'The Angels Listened In' and one of my all-time Crests favorites, the excellent 'Step By Step.'
Simply put, this is just real music in a time when optimism needs to be both felt and heard and anyone listening to these songs can only ever be left with smiles on both their lips and hearts.
The Crests: The Best of the Crests featuring Johnny Mastro: 16 Fabulous Hits CD Official Purchase Link
Adam Wade: The Coed Albums: And Then Came Adam/Adam and Evening
And Then Came Adam
2. 'Teller Her For Me'
3. 'Just In Time'
4. 'First Love'
6. 'So In Love'
9. 'A Moment Of Madness'
10. 'I Had The Craziest Dream'
11. 'I'm Wise'
12. 'Around The World'
Adam And Evening
1. 'Sleepy Time Gal'
2. 'We Kiss In A Shadow'
3. 'Polka Dots and Moonbeams'
4. 'Gloria's Theme' (from Butterfield 8)
5. 'Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry'
6. 'Canadian Sunset'
7. 'My Reverie'
8. 'I Have Dreamed'
9. 'I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night'
10. 'For You'
12. 'The Party's Over'
Not many singers went directly from being on the team of the world’s top polio vaccine researchers to making a string of hit records. In fact, there’s only one: Adam Wade.
Blessed with a fine-tuned set of pipes tailor-made for sustained pop success, Wade scored his first hit for Coed in late 1959 and developed into one of the label’s top stars.
From his debut album, And Then Came Adam, Wade sent two songs up the charts. 'Tell Her for Me' made it to #66, and 'Ruby' fared a little better at #58.
His follow up album, Adam and Evening, saw the song 'Gloria’s Theme' check in at #74. Though his single releases fared far better than album cuts, Wade’s albums were lush affairs with ornate arrangements and harmony-laden choruses courtesy of the Bel-Aire Singers.
Unfortunately for Wade, toward the end of 1961, his most successful year, the principals at Coed dissolved their partnership, necessitating a label switch by the singer.
The interruption blunted any momentum that Coed had been building for him. He moved over to Epic, but only hit the charts once more in 1965.
To my mind, Adam Wade is a singer in the Johnny Mathis mold who enjoyed a string of hits during the first years of the 1960's, and was a flagship artist for the Brill Building-based Coed label.
In the years before he went on to become a high-profile TV presenter and actor, Wade's music career showcases him performing across the pop spectrum, underlining that he was an incredibly versatile, and classy vocalist.
For the record, no pun intended, in 1975 he became the first African-American to host a prime-time game show called Musical Chairs which ran from June to October on CBS, followed in 1976 by a regular stint on The Sonny & Cher variety show, and in 1978 appeared for 6 months in a Las Vegas production of Guys And Dolls with an all-black cast.
Adam Wade: The Coed Albums: And Then Came Adam/Adam and Evening CD Official Purchase Link
Title - 'The Complete Collection' [6CD Box-Set]
Artist - Nick Kamen
In truth, Nick Kamen (born Ivor Neville "Nick" Kamen) was, without doubt, one of the most famous faces of the '80s, both as a model, and a pop star.
After scoring his first top 5 hit, 'Each Time You Break My Heart', Nick went on to have major success across Europe with four albums and several #1 singles.
Now, for the first time, Cherry Red has released an expansive collection of his entire recorded output during the '80s and '90s.Nick Kamen: The Complete Collection (in stores and online July 24th, 2020 via Cherry Red Records UK), the 6CD Box-Set features the international smash hits 'Each Time You Break My Heart' (co-written by Madonna), 'Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever', 'Nobody Else', 'Tell Me', 'Bring Me Your Love', 'I Promised Myself' and 'Oh How Happy.'
It also contains two previously unreleased songs, 'So Sad' a cover of the Everly Brothers classic, and 'Right On Track', originally a million selling '80s hit for The Breakfast Club.
Disc One - Nick Kamen (1987):
1. 'Win Your Love'
2. 'Open the Door to Your Heart'
3. 'Nobody Else'
4. 'Into the Night'
5. 'Come Softly to Me'
6. 'Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever'
7. 'Each Time You Break My Heart'
8. 'The Man in Me'
9. 'Any Day Now'
10. 'Help Me Baby'
11. 'Baby After Tonight'
12. 'Miss You'
13. 'Each Time You Break My Heart' (Dance Mix)
14. 'Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever' (Extended Dance Mix)
15. 'Nobody Else' (7" Version)
16. 'Open the Door to Your Heart' (Extended Version)
17. 'Each Time You Break My Heart' (Instrumental)
Also containing detailed liner notes, including new contributions from producers Stephen Bray and Toby Andersen, the box-set opens with Nick Kamen, which was obviously the British singer's eponymous debut album (UK #34), released by the WEA record label in 1987.
Long out of print on as an original CD and vinyl, in truth, and as much as you may still think of Kamen as a manufactured product (thanks, Madonna), this is still a great pop album from start to finish.
Personally, I've been a fan since the release of 'Each Time You Break My Heart' and being a collector of (basically) anything that got releases back in the day, I unashamedly also have all his albums (and 7" and 12" singles too!)
He should have been a superstar in America, but the teenage girls were already heavily into bands such as Duran Duran and Culture Club. I mean, shit, even Spandau Ballet couldn't crack the teen US pop market back then!
But, and playing Devil's Advocate here, sure, the old songs sung by Kamen aren't exactly pushing the boat out, nor are they particularly brilliant, but they sounded great, and that's what counted back then! Oh, and, of course, that Madonna-penned song just put Kamen soaring to the top of the charts and into a mass of teen hearts!
With the debut album featuring the hit singles 'Each Time You Break My Heart' (UK #5), 'Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever' (UK #16), 'Nobody Else' (UK #47), 'Come Softly to Me' (Italy #19) and 'Win Your Love' (Italy #13), this expanded disc now adds a quite brilliant trio of extended and dance mixes.
Disc Two - Us (1988):
1. 'Bring Me Your Love'
2. 'Turn It Up'
4. 'This Is Really Love'
5. 'Count on Me'
6. 'Tell Me'
7. 'I Can't Live Without Your Love'
8. 'Wonders of You'
9. 'Steal Love'
10. 'Better Be Good Tonite'
11. 'Bring Me Your Love' (7" Version)
12. 'Tell Me' (Extended Mix)
13. 'Bring Me Your Love' (Extended Mix)
14. 'Turn It Up' (12" Mix)
15. 'Tell Me' (Dub Mix)
16. 'Don't Hold Out'
In 1988, and following quickly on the heels of all his chart successes in both the UK and Italy, Kamen's sophomore album Us was released.
Yet another solid collection that instantly reminds the listener of where they were come the late '80s, and what the state of the record collections looked like, Us is pure, unadulterated nostalgia all the way.
OK, sure, it wasn't an album that lit the charts up in the UK (although it was #2 in Italy), and sure it was notably his least popular, but artistically it is his best album (in my humble opinion).
Catchy dance-pop tunes like the magnificent, Madonna-created chorus of 'Tell Me' (UK #40) make this album gold, along with opener 'Bring Me Your Love' (Italy #13).
'Count on Me' and 'Wonder of You' are well mixed with pure pop, as is 'This is Really Love,' with the beautiful, yearning ballad 'Steal Love' near the end one of the best of the year, for me.
Now inclusive of a quartet of extended and dub mixes, the stand outs here for me are both the brilliant 'Tell Me' (Extended Mix) and the excellent 'Turn It Up' (12" Mix).
Disc Three - Move Until We Fly (1990)
1. 'I Promised Myself'
2. 'Oh How Happy'
3. 'Looking Good Diving'
4. 'Somebody's Arms to Hold Me'
5. 'Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um'
6. 'Take Back My Hand Child'
7. 'We Can Make It'
8. 'Agony & Ecstasy'
9. 'You Are'
10. 'I Want More'
11. 'Move Until We Fly'
12. 'Love Street'
13. 'Sacrifice Your Reputation'
14. 'Oh How Happy' (7" Version)
15. 'Looking Good Diving' (7" Version)
16. 'Agony & Ecstasy' (7" Version)
17. 'I Promised Myself' (Independiente Mix)
Overstepping, for whatever reason, Kamen's 1988 album Loving You, next up is his 1990 entry, Move Until We Fly (Austria #4).
Opening with the low key, mid-tempo 'I Promised Myself' (UK #50, Austria #1), and backing it with the Edwin Starr classic 'Oh How Happy' (Italy #37), it was when we go to the mellow reach of 'Looking Good Diving' that the chart hits in any country seemed to just dry up completely.
The lo-fi soul of 'Somebody's Arms to Hold Me' is backed by Kamen's attempt at the Curtis Mayfield classic 'Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um,' which in turn is followed by the upbeat 'Take Back My Hand Child' and the soulful turn of 'We Can Make It.'
The original album then rounds out with the lush 'Agony and Ecstacy,' and then come three more all also written exclusively by Kamen, the funky 'You Are,' the steamy dancefloor groove 'I Want More,' and then closes on the electronic drum pad beats of the title track.
Now inclusive of six extra tracks, there's nothing extended or remixed about them, which is solely to do with the fact that by now, Kamen was wearing down, his pop stardom star dulling with every 7" single released, and where once each track was a heartfelt dance outreach, the entire Us album were just plain, mid-tempo tracks.
Disc Four - Whatever, Whenever (1992)
1. 'We'll Never Lose What We Have Found'
2. 'Whatever, Whenever'
3. 'You're Not the Only One'
4. 'Nothing Rhymes Now'
5. 'Did I Imagine You'
6. 'This Is Our Time'
7. 'Don't You Know'
8. 'I Need You'
9. 'There Was a Time in America'
10. 'You and I Are Here'
11. 'I'll Find Another Way'
12. 'We'll Never Lose What We Have Found' (7" Version)
13. 'I Know Where You Are'
14. 'We'll Never Lose What We Have Found' (Club Mix)
15. 'You're Not the Only One' (Youth Sa Roush Mix)
16. 'You're Not the Only One' (Extended Mix)
Released in 1992, and flatlining on the album charts in any country, Whatever, Whenever would prove to be the straw that broke the camels back, my friends.
Kicking things off with the guitar rock of 'We'll Never Lose What We Have Found,' Kamen then slides into the piano-led, funky tambourine beats of the title track, and then the lo-fi, mid-tempo pop duo of 'You're Not the Only One' and 'Nothing Rhymes Now.'
The upbeat, acoustic (yet plugged in) guitars of 'Did I Imagine You' make this a stand out track, and is backed by the funky pop-hop 'This Time Is Our Time,' then comes the Eastern-tinged 'Don't You Know' and the ballad 'I Need You.'
The original album then rounds out with the pop-lite 'There Was a Time in America,' the keyboard-infused 'You and I Are Here,' and then closes out on another, albeit this time more heavily-endowed, Eastern-inspired beat track, 'I'll Find Another Way.'
So, as you can clearly see, without Kamen's unique brand of late '80s funk and sexy singing, and without Madonna throwing him a chorus here and there, Whatever, Whenever is an album in search of hooks and melodies, sadly.
Now inclusive of five extra tracks, those include two different versions of the best track on the album, 'You're Not the Only One.'
Disc Five - Remixes & Rarities, Volume 1
1. 'Each Time You Break My Heart' (Shep Pettibone Extended Version)
2. 'Win Your Love' (The Love Mix)
3. 'Nobody Else' (Arthur Baker Dance Mix)
4. 'Come Softly to Me' (12" Version)
5. 'Nobody Else' (Jellybean 12" Version)
6. 'Each Time You Break My Heart' (US Mix)
7. 'Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever' (Alternative Mix)
8. 'Oh How Happy' (Bubble Mix)
9. 'Tell Me' (Instrumental)
10. 'Bring Me Your Love' (Instrumental)
11. 'Agony & Ecstasy' (Instrumental)
12. 'Looking Good Diving' (Instrumental)
13. 'Oh How Happy' (Instrumental)
14. 'I Promised Myself' (Instrumental)
15. 'Agony & Ecstasy' (Dawn Mix)
16. 'Lonely Boy'
OK, now we're cookin', all you Kamen fans, for here on Disc's Five and Six we get two complete CDs of his remixes, extended and alternative versions, along with, sadly, a slew of instrumentals (which are only ever useful - for any one, at any time - if you wish to use them for karaoke, of course!).
Volume 1 brings us stand out cuts such as, well shit, the opening five tracks re: 'Each Time You Break My Heart' (Shep Pettibone Extended Version), which is easily the best version of the song ever produced, 'Win Your Love' (The Love Mix), yet another corker from the 12" single vaults, the vibrantly excellent 'Nobody Else' (Arthur Baker Dance Mix), and then both 'Come Softly to Me' (12" Version) and 'Nobody Else' (Jellybean 12" Version).
Disc Six - Remixes & Rarities, Volume 2
1. 'US Megamix'
2. 'Nobody Else' (Alternative 12" Mix)
3. 'Oh How Happy' (Wow How Hippy Mix)
4. 'Looking Good Diving' (Extended Mix)
5. 'Count on Me' (7" Version)
6. 'So Sad'
7. 'Right on Track'
8. 'Oh How Happy' (G.U.C.C.I. Mix)
9. 'Take Back My Hand Child' (Alternative Version)
10. 'Win Your Love' (Instrumental)
11. 'Wonders of You' (Backing Track)
12. 'Somebody's Arms to Hold Me' (Instrumental)
13. 'You Are' (Instrumental)
14. 'You're Not the Only One' (Instrumental)
15. 'Come Softly to Me' (Backing Track)
16. 'Oh What a Night'
Continuing the extended love for all-things Kamen, yes, sadly, we still get en masse of instrumentals (which now also features two "Backing Track's" into the mix too), regardless, Volume 2 brings more mixes to the party.
Stand out tracks here are, and without a shadow of a doubt, the pulsating 'US Megamix' (simply cracking, from start to finish), the pumped up 'Nobody Else' (Alternative 12" Mix), and the gospel-tinged beauty 'Oh How Happy' (Wow How Hippy Mix).
Featuring 20 previously-unreleased mixes in this magnificent 6-CD Box-Set from Cherry Red Records UK, a package that also includes two previously unreleased songs in ‘So Sad’ (the Everly Brothers number) and ‘Right On Track’, a cover of the song by American band The Breakfast Club (who Madonna and Stephen Bray both drummed for at different points in time!), Nick Kamen: The Complete Collection is a collector's wet dream!
Title - 'The Barfly Sessions, Vol. 1'
Artist - Heidi Newfield
For those not in the know, a good-timing, honky-tonkin’, band-leading, song-writing, love-song-singing, blues-harp-blowing, tradition-nurturing, genre-busting, crowd-carrying, full-hearted flag bearer for all that’s true about music, that's Heidi Newfield.
At least, that’s her right now – at once the embodiment of an accomplished career and the promise of artistry still to come.
Music fans know Heidi for fronting Trick Pony, which rode songs including 'Pour Me,' 'On A Night Like This' and 'It’s A Heartache' to awards, acclaim and packed houses nationwide.
Armed with a collaborative history of platinum selling albums, Top 20 singles, ACM and AMA Awards to her credit, her distinctive voice and high-octane energy launched forward into a much-anticipated solo career.
Indeed, she is recognized for a remarkable evolution as a solo artist, writing and recording the poignant 'Johnny & June' from a deeply personal place.
More than a radio hit and impetus for a fist full of Academy of Country Music nominations, the song brought Newfield’s multi-faceted creativity into the sharper relief it deserved.
Through clear-eyed experience and musical passion in full flame, she continues to entertain, deepen the relationship with her core fans and win over new audiences.
Now in a deeply creative place in her solo career, singer-songwriter-harpist Heidi Newfield will be releasing her solo album, The Barfly Sessions, Vol. 1 this coming August 28th, 2020.
1. 'I Won't Wait Around'
2. 'Three Things'
4. 'Wrong Side of the Bottle'
5. 'Wait For It'
6. 'The Blues is My Business' (featuring Delbert McClinton)
7. 'Love Blind'
8. 'When Heaven Falls'
9. 'Whitley's Tombstone' (featuring Randy Houser)
10. 'I Could Fall 4 U' (featuring Jim Lauderdale)
12. 'Bring This House Down'
13. 'Temporary Fix (For A Permanent Scar)'
14. 'Come Hell or High Water Blues'
On this vibrantly honest, real and heartfelt album, Newfield (who co-produced with Jim “Moose” Brown, who, in addition to being a hit-making songwriter and producer, is known for playing Hammond B3, guitar and as the band leader of Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band) opens with the soaring 'I Won't Wait Around' and backs that up with the thoughtfully earnest ballad 'Three Things,' the countrified Gospel vibe of the title track, and then both the harmonica-driven 'Wrong Side of the Bottle' and the beautiful, lo-fi flow of 'Wait For It.'
Up next is a song driven purely by the incredible harmonica playing of Delbert McClinton, the foot-tappin' duet 'The Blues is My Business' which she backs up seamlessly with the low key 'Love Blind,' the gentle, acoustically yearning guitar work and tender vocals of the ballad 'When Heaven Falls,' and then comes the atmospheric balladry of 'Whitley's Tombstone' (featuring Randy Houser).
The tempo finally gets turned up for the frenetically cultured beauty 'I Could Fall 4 U' (featuring Jim Lauderdale) which is followed by the deep, down South, harmonica-driven blues of 'Whiskeytown,' the mid-tempo, free flowing country ease of 'Bring This House Down,' before the album comes to a close on the raw, earthy ballad 'Temporary Fix (For A Permanent Scar)' and the anthemic 'Come Hell or High Water Blues.'
Heidi Newfield @ Facebook
Heidi Newfield @ Twitter
Heidi Newfield @ Instagram
Heidi Newfield @ YouTube
Title - 'Energize (Remastered)'
Artist - The Vibrators
For those not in the know, legendary Punk Rock pioneers The Vibrators have just reissued their 2002 release Energize as a crackin' new remastered edition via Deko Entertainment.
Remastered by Alan Douches (High on Fire, Mastodon, The Misfits, et al) and now including the live bonus track 'She's the One You Need', with liner notes by Vive Le Rock’s Eugene Butcher, the 17-track album sounds as freshly vibrant today as I'm sure it did back then.
With a career lasting over forty years, original vocalist/guitarist Ian "Knox" Carnochan, bassist Pat Collier, guitarist John Ellis (Peter Gabriel) and drummer Eddie originally formed The Vibrators in February 1976, and their first gig was supporting The Strangers at Hornsey Art College in North London.
Early in 1977 the band supported Iggy Pop (with David Bowie on keyboards) on a UK tour, and released the classic 'Baby Baby' single, followed by their first album Pure Mania on Epic Records which spent five weeks in the UK Top 75, peaking at #49.
A second single from the album - but a live version - 'London Girls', came out in the summer of 1977, followed by 'Automatic Lover' (March 1978), which not only reached #35 in the charts, but also got the band on the UK's infamous chart show, Top Of The Pops (TOTP).
Headed up by founding members Knox (Lead Vocals/Guitar) and John 'Eddie' Edwards (Drums) and joined by Robbie Tart (Bass), the album was produced by original bassist Pat Collier.
1. 'X-Files' (2020 Remaster)
2. 'Your Love Is Fading Away' (2020 Remaster)
3. 'So Far Down' (2020 Remaster)
4. 'New Brain' (2020 Remaster)
5. 'Rock The Kids' (2020 Remaster)
6. '3/4 Angelina' (2020 Remaster)
7. 'Animals' (2020 Remaster)
8. '2night' (2020 Remaster)
9. 'Brand New' (2020 Remaster)
10. 'General Purpose' (2020 Remaster)
11. 'Jukebox Light' (2020 Remaster)
12. 'Tears Are Falling' (2020 Remaster)
13. 'Moonlight' (2020 Remaster)
14. 'I Knew It Must Be Love' (2020 Remaster)
15. 'Shine' (2020 Remaster)
16. 'No More' (2020 Remaster)
17. 'Shake Some Action' (2020 Remaster) [Bonus Track]
OK, in all truth, The Vibrators may well not be as good a band as even they believe themselves to be (or to have once been), but they do still remind me a great deal of the Ramones (when they were themselves starting out).
That very same sense of stupid fun and bludgeoning power prevails throughout each song, especially here on Energize, which was, for my money, the best album by The Vibrators since their minor late '70s heyday.
Songs like 'New Brain' ("Her new brain says I’m no longer cool and it won't let me see her 'cos it's working to rule"), 'Animals,' 'General Purpose' and even '3/4 Angelina' (a song about a psychopath dismembering his victim), are all hardly in-depth tunes, chock full of nuances, but they still remain, one and all, irresistibly silly, in their own sweet ways.
But, more than these, there are three tracks on Energize that perfectly highlight why fans have never left their side: 'Jukebox Light' contains an infectious riff right out of the Marc Bolan play book; 'No More' contains (quite possibly) the greatest guitar refrain Big Country never wrote; and lastly, the hard-hitting 'So Far Down,' which is just simply one of the best songs the band have ever recorded (in my humble opinion, of course).
Knox himself looks back on the album and remarks, “I hadn't listened to any of this album for years, but I was shocked at how good the lyrics were and how on fire my guitar playing is. This album has lot’s of great moments - so give it a spin!”
Energize's greatest virtue isn't the fact that it's glorious business as usual, but the implausibility of that business still being glorious.
But a couple of choruses of the pounding 'New Brain' are all you need to hear before Energize re-energizes all your old enthusiasm, and The Vibrators' vibrations are, once again, as powerful as ever.
Amazon CD Purchase Link
The Vibrators @ Facebook
Title - 'John The Revelator'
Artist - John Fusco and the X-Road Riders
For those not in the know, Vermont bluesman John Fusco and his band the X-Road Riders will follow up their acclaimed 2019 self-titled debut with the 20-track double album John the Revelator, due out July 31, 2020 on Checkerboard Lounge Recordings.
More than three decades after, as a teenager, Fusco ran away from his Vermont home to Louisiana and Mississippi, returning with a semi-autobiographical screenplay called Crossroads, the writer-musician returned to the south to film his Netflix hit The Highwaymen, finding time to jam with Cody Dickinson and deliver the aforementioned album.
Here on John The Revelator he comes back with 18 new songs and two covers spread across the two discs.
1. 'John The Revelator'
2. 'Baker Man'
3. 'Bone Deep'
4. 'It Takes A Man'
5. 'Ophelia (Oh, I Feel Ya)'
6. 'Don't Mess Up A Good Thing'
7. 'Applejack Brandy'
8. 'Why You Chose Me'
9. 'Bad Dog'
10. 'Snake Oil Man'
1. 'Song For Peter'
3. 'Hottest Part Of The Flame'
4. 'Language Of Angels'
5. 'Fool's Fire'
6. 'Baby, Let's Not Borrow'
7. 'Moonstone Lady'
8. 'Motel Laws Of Arizona'
9. 'Good Money After Bad'
10. 'The Sun Also Rises'
For this expansive new album, Fusco has assembled a cast of modern blues stars: Dickinson (the North Mississippi Allstars), who produced Fusco’s first, appears behind the board again and also contributes background vocals, drums, bass, guitars, dobro, piano, and electric washboard.
Vocalist Risse Norman, who has toured and recorded with the North Mississippi Allstars and Samantha Fish, also returns. They are joined by new Fusco collaborator Sarah Morrow, former trombonist for Ray Charles and bandleader for Dr. John.
The big-name collaborations also extend to the album’s cover, which features artwork by Bobby Whitlock, best known as a keyboard player for Sam & Dave, Delaney & Bonnie, and Derek & the Dominoes, among others.
Oh, and Fusco also brings back his “northern chapter” of the X-Road Riders from his Vermont home.
Opening with the atmospheric, Gospel-laced, evocatively moody title track, 'John The Revelator' (itself a cover of a blues standard made famous by Son House), Fusco backs that up seamlessly with the gruff slide guitar, stripped-down sound of 'Baker Man,' the Hammond and harmonica-led, bawdy blues rocker 'Bone Deep,' the upbeat and funky horn work of 'It Takes A Man,' and then the piano and organ masterpiece 'Ophelia (Oh, I Feel Ya).'
The Gospel and blues-influenced duet 'Don't Mess Up A Good Thing' is definitely one of the stand out tracks here on the first disc, and that's followed by the lo-fi, tender reminiscing of 'Applejack Brandy,' the lonesome, road weary flow of 'Why You Chose Me,' coming to a close on the soulful Hammond and light guitar work of 'Bad Dog' and the three ring circus appeal of the satirical 'Snake Oil Man.'
The second disc opens with the quietly passive ballad 'Song For Peter' which is followed by the mid-tempo jaunt of 'Jacqueline'
("She comes walking out her front door, big sweet smile like Mary Tyler Moore"), the low down, percussive tale of doomed lovers within 'Hottest Part Of The Flame,' and then some achingly heartfelt recall is found within 'Language Of Angels,' before we get Fusco's excellent guitar work coming to the fore on 'Fool's Fire.'
Another stand out track for me is the piano and guitar masterpiece, combined with Fusco's trademark vocals, 'Baby, Let's Not Borrow,' which is backed by the gilded 'Moonstone Lady,' the gentle blues rocker that encapsulates those down-and-out drifters of 'Motel Laws Of Arizona,' the Hammond and Horn-enriched, Gospel and blues 'Good Money After Bad,' coming to a close on the warmly expansive 'The Sun Also Rises.'
“The first album was a loose, high-octane jam sesh, and Cody hit the record button. This next one digs into some deeper emotional clay as with ‘Language of Angels,’ ‘Applejack Brandy,’ and ‘Ophelia,’” says Fusco of the more subdued, gospel-laced material he cut at Meadowlark on the studio’s grand piano.
“Braiding the more emotional ballads in with the raw blues rockers and traditional blues stuff, it makes the album a little more unexpected and mercurial.”
John Fusco @ Twitter
Title - 'The Dream That Holds This Child'
Artist - The Sweet Water Warblers
For those not in the know, if the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, then The Sweet Water Warblers are no exception.
Comprised of Michigan songbirds Rachael Davis, Lindsay Lou, and May Erlewine, the folk trio’s organic vocal harmonies and seamlessly interwoven instrumentation leaves listeners breathless.
The Sweet Water Warblers came together in 2014, for a single performance at the Hoxeyville Music Festival upon request by the promoter.
From the beginning, there was a unique connection between the three artists, a bond forged by a mutual passion for social change and expansion of the soul through music.
With three-part vocal harmonies that are sublime, the singing sirens and multi-instrumentalists saw the release of their first EP, With You, in 2017.
The repertoire swinging from gospel and bluegrass to soul and even joyful interpretations of pop, The Warblers have just released their first full studio album, The Dream That Holds This Child this past May 15th, 2020.
Produced by Dan Knobler (Lake Street Dive, Caroline Spence), the album serves to empower and uplift spirits, and offer refuge, solidarity and support through its focus on modern femininity.“Our sound is a place of refuge. Its roots are deep, and its arms are stretched open wide,” says Lou. “This is the gospel of creating beauty from pain."
“We recognize an imbalance in the imagery and symbolism of the divine,” adds Davis. “When we sing gospel, we sing from a source deep within us that honors and elevates the feminine as much as the masculine.”
1. 'Turn To Stone'
2. 'Wishing Well'
3. 'Something More'
4. 'Mad At You'
7. 'Right With Me'
8. 'Righteous Road'
9. 'Do You Know The Chorus'
10. 'Mother's Voice'
Opening with the gently ornate 'Turn To Stone,' they follow that up with the Stevie Nicks-esque, mid-tempo rocker 'Wishing Well,' the lo-fi 'Something More,' and then both the Dixie Chicks-esque, foot-tappin' 'Mad At You' and then the Gospel-infused, handclapping passion of 'Hallelujah' is brought to the fore.
The beautiful, free flowing, driving with the windows down, arm out catching the warm breeze 'Summertime' is up next and is followed by the earnest 'Right With Me,' the spiritual 'Righteous Road,' and then the album comes to a close on the banjo-led 'Do You Know The Chorus' and then the simply breathtaking, collectively ethereal ambiance of 'Mother's Voice.'
Official Purchase Link
The Sweet Water Warblers @ Facebook
The Sweet Water Warblers @ Instagram
Title - 'The Big Game'
Artist - OGD
For those not in the know, The Big Game is the debut release from OGD featuring Derek Olivero (guitars, lead vocals), Bobby Gavin (drums), and Dave DeRanieri (bass).
The NYC-based power-trio recorded the album with legendary drummer Jerry Marotta as producer in upstate New York at Dreamland Recording Studios.
Hailing from the ashes of Outland, Olivero and DeRanieri joined forces with Gavin to form OGD creating modern day rock with shades of Rush, Kiss, and even Clutch.
The Big Game (out August 24th, 2020) features 10 original compositions co-written by Olivero, Gavin, DeRanieri.
1. 'Young Love'
2. 'Sweet Life'
3. 'The Word'
4. 'Out in the West',br>
5. 'Innocence Ran'
6. 'Setting Sun'
8. 'Scary Night'
Opening with the guitar and drum-led, forceful rocker 'Young Love,' they back that up with some funky guitar work on 'Sweet Life,' then follow that up seamlessly with the constructively free flowing 'The Word,' the atmospheric storytelling of 'Out In The West,' and then the, what seems at first, beautiful acoustic guitar ballad, that soon bleeds into the full on rock of 'Innocence Ran.'
The drum led 'Setting Sun' is then backed by the '90s grunge guitar rock sounds of 'Dreamland,' the powerhaus, gruffly vocalized 'Scary Night,' coming to a close on the frenetically sculptured 'Unknown,' and then the thoughtful, instrument showcasing 'Outland' wraps things up nicely.
“I love the record we made. I love these maniacs. We are now lifelong friends and the record is finally about to hit the airwaves. ‘The Big Game’ watch for the videos. Seek out the music. I mean what I say.” - Jerry Marotta
Famed album cover designer Hugh Syme (Rush, Aerosmith, Dream Theater) was recruited to create a package for the CD and vinyl harking back to the pre-digital days of rock-n-roll including a 20 page booklet of Hugh’s art.
Official Purchase Link
OGD @ Facebook
Title - 'Soca Gold 2020'
Artist - Various
Dance, wine, parade and jump!
It’s time to move to the sounds of SOCA.
Soca music is a celebration of Caribbean rhythms and contemporary global dance beats.
Soca Gold 2020 is a blend of Caribbean, African, Latin and Western Dance Music flavors.
For over 20 years, this annual compilation has presented the best songs from breaking and biggest artists in the genre.
Out July 31st, 2020 this latest 2020 compilation features the annual highlight of summer celebrations throughout the Caribbean diaspora.
Showcasing the best new music from established hit makers (Bunji Garlin, Iwer George, Tony Prescott) and exciting developing artists (Jus D, Hypasounds, Jamesy P), Soca Gold 2020 will make your temperature rise!
1. 'Wet Fete' - Iwer George & Viking Ding Dong
2. 'Dive' - Fay-Ann Lyons
3. 'Freaky Gal' - Menace XL & Rucas HE
4. 'Don't Stop' - Supa Mario
5. 'The Struggle' - Bunji Garlin
6. 'Touch' - Jus D
7. 'I Can't Help Myself' - Edwin Yearwood
8. 'Anna Anna' - GI
9. 'Omalay' - Super Blue & Ravi B
10. 'Wine Low' - Bunji Garlin & Fay-Ann Lyons
11. 'Some Time' - Leadpipe & Just Jay
12. 'Fair Sa (Feh Sa)' - Hypasounds
13. 'It Ain't Me' - Lil Rick
14. 'Doh Give Ah' - Jamesy P
15. 'Party' - Tony Prescott
16. 'Manita' - Rikki Jai (feat. Neniita)
17. 'Especially' - Ricky T
The 2CD set also includes a DJ mix disc by Frankie P aka #MaddYute.
We begin with the frenetic dancefloor, smart collaboration on 'Wet Fete' featuring Iwer George & Viking Ding Dong and that's backed by the sultry swirl of 'Dive' from Fay-Ann Lyons, the mighty solid 'Freaky Gal' from both Menace XL & Rucas HE, and then Supa Mario's pounding 'Don't Stop,' and then comes one of the baddest Soca artists ever, the brilliant Bunji Garlin with 'The Struggle.'
Jus D's infectious rhymes and rhythm's are brought to the fore on the reggae synth hit 'Touch,' which is backed by The General himself, Edwin Yearwood's fabulously free flowing 'I Can't Help Myself,' the story of a market vender, 'Anna Anna' from GI, and then the old school Calypso/Soca vibe of 'Omalay' from Super Blue & Ravi B.
Next up is the powerful, yet sexy 'Wine Low' from Bunji Garlin & Fay-Ann Lyons and that's backed by a song you will definitely need to find a dance partner for, the rhythmic 'Some Time' from Leadpipe & Just Jay.
The electronic sound of reggae comes to the for on 'Fair Sa (Feh Sa)' by Hypasounds and that's followed by Lil Rick's rambunctious 'It Ain't Me,' the funky 'Doh Give Ah' from Jamesy P, the big bad Soca sounds of Tony Prescott on 'Party,' before closing out with one of the dancefloor stand outs here, the vibrant 'Manita' (from Rikki Jai, featuring the Venezuelan señorita herself, Neniita), and then we get the tough rhythms of Ricky T's 'Especially.'
As aforementioned, the second disc features a DJ mix disc by Frankie P Spoil Bratzz.
Official 2CD Purchase Link
Title - 'Together We Stand'
Artist - Richie Spice
For those not in the know, celebrated reggae artist Richie Spice has a new album out now entitled Together We Stand (VP Records).
Recorded at various studios in Kingston, Jamaica, including the Marley family’s Tuff Gong, and including productions by seasoned producers Clive Hunt, Stephen Stanley and Element Music Group (formerly 5th Element), the album also features input from Chronixx, Dre Island and Kathryn Aria.
Richie Spice has recorded 9 albums for VP Records, including his critically acclaimed debut recording Spice in Your Life.
Other key releases include Streets To Africa, Gideon Boot which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae chart, in May 2008 and Book of Job in 2011.
1. 'Blessings (The Album Intro)'
2. 'Together We Stand'
3. 'Di Dub Dance'
4. 'Eyes To See The World'
5. 'Beautiful Life' (feat. Kathryn Aria)
7. 'Valley of Jehoshaphat (Red Hot)'
8. 'I Use The Herbs'
10. 'Unity We Need' (feat. Chronixx)
11. 'Mother Nature'
12. 'Murderer' (feat. Dre Island)
13. 'De Stress'
14. 'There's A Way (Remix)'
15. 'Put This In The Schools'
Together We Stand musically presents to you, from the insight of our own living iconic legend Richie Spice, the love and togetherness of humanity, the protection of nature, the love and respect for women, and advocating for the youths through social welfare and the true teachings of Jah.
Indeed, Richie Spice has never ceased, over the years, to lift the banner for the freeing of the herb (Ganja) and even now that the herb is taking world center stage in medicine, recreation and wealth the singer is still holding the torch.
The album opens with the atmospheric, spoken word envibed 'Blessings (The Album Intro)' and then bleeds seamlessly into the invigorating title track 'Together We Stand,' the islands hipsway of 'Di Dub Dance' and then both the euphoric 'Eyes To See The World' and the magnificently sunny disposition and ambiance of 'Beautiful Life' (feat. Kathryn Aria).
Next up is the reggae groove of 'California' which is followed by the dancehall vibe of 'Valley of Jehoshaphat (Red Hot),' the methodical 'I Use The Herbs,' and then the hip-pop of 'Dabbin'' and one of my own personal favorites, the free flowing 'Unity We Need' (feat. Chronixx).
That's followed by the reggae bounce of 'Mother Nature,' which is backed by the thematic 'Murderer' (feat. Dre Island), the gentle breeze of 'De Stress,' the rhythmic melodies of 'There's A Way (Remix),' coming to a close on the one-two dub step of 'Put This In The Schools.'
Amazon Purchase Link
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 - 'Flamin' Groovies Now' [Reissue]
Artist - Flamin' Groovies
For those not in the know, the band that played a major role in the evolution of power pop and are considered a forerunner of punk rock, the Flamin' Groovies, are readying to reissue two of their most popular, and now-classic albums: Now (July 10th) and Jumpin' In the Night (August 7th).
While it took a long and torturous five years for the Flamin' Groovies to find their way back to an American record deal (with Shake Some Action), 18 months later the band had a follow-up ready.
And while 1978's Now isn't quite as cohesive as the album that preceded it, in many respects the band sounds at once tighter and more relaxed (with some time on the road firming up the rhythm section) while giving the songs a bit more room to swing.
The band lost guitarist James Ferrell during the post-Shake Some Action tour, but former Charlatans picker Mike Wilhelm proved to be a more than simpatico replacement on these sessions.
And while leader Cyril Jordan didn't come up with another new song as transcendent as 'Shake Some Action,' 'All I Wanted' comes pretty close.
But it's significant that most of the songs on Now are covers, and while all of them are played with love, enthusiasm, and the right period flair, the chance to listen to some newly original material was obviously limited here.
1. 'Feel A Whole Lot Better' (2:26)
2. 'Between the Lines' (4:15)
3. 'Ups and Downs' (3:07)
4. 'Move It' (2:57)
5. 'Take Me Back' (2:50)
6. 'Reminiscing' (2:03)
7. 'Good Laugh Mun' (2:55)
8. 'Yeah My Baby' (3:55)
9. 'House of Blue Lights' (2:18)
10. 'Blue Turns to Grey' (2:29)
11. 'Paint It Black' (3:04)
12. 'All I Wanted' (3:02)
13. 'Don't Put Me On' (4:12)
14. 'There's A Place' (1:50)
Released about two years after their great Shake Some Action album, the Flamin' Groovies had once again changed their sound, beginning with that well regarded previous album to this.
Working with producer Dave Edmunds (one of my all-time favorite musicians) again, they continued to do great covers of pop tunes from the sixties, as well as throwing into the mix some terrific original songs too.
What I like here is their selection, choosing some obscure songs that I myself wasn't actually familiar with, but that they did a fantastic job introducing them to me.
Also, their own original songs are great too, and to my mind, the Groovies never really got enough credit for their intuitive moments of originality.
Anyhoo, moving on and this now reissued album contains great covers of songs from the Byrds, the Beatles' lesser know 'There's a Place,' the Rolling Stones (especially their rarity, 'Blue Turns to Grey'), Paul Revere & the Raiders' 'Ups and Downs,' and even a quite magnificent pre-Beatles Cliff Richard song, 'Move It.'
Oh, and for my money, Now also has one of their best original songs, 'Between the Lines.' This whole album sounds great and the team behind it has done a wondrous job in the remastering department.
• Cyril Jordan: Lead/rhythm guitars, guitars, mellotron, vocals
• Chris Wilson: Vocals, Rhythm guitar, harpsichord
• Mike Wilhelm: Lead/rhythm guitars
• George Alexander: Bass/vocals
• David Wright: Drums
• All percussion: David Chris, George
• Dave Edmunds: Piano, guitar on 'Move It' and Piano, vocals on 'Yeah My Baby'
Official Purchase Link
Flamin' Groovies @ Facebook
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Flamin' Groovies @ Instagram
Title - 'Jumpin' in the Night' [Reissue]
Artist - Flamin' Groovies
For those not in the know, the band that played a major role in the evolution of power pop and are considered a forerunner of punk rock, the Flamin' Groovies, are readying to reissue two of their most popular, and now-classic albums: Now (July 10th) and Jumpin' In the Night (August 7th).
While it took a long and torturous five years for the Flamin' Groovies to find their way back to an American record deal (with Shake Some Action), 18 months later the band had a follow-up ready, and it was Now.
And while 1978's Now wasn't quite as cohesive as the album that preceded it, this third, and last of the Flamin' Groovies late-'70s albums for Sire, Jumpin' in the Night storms out of the gate with the title song (a top-shelf rocker that brings the muscle of the Flamingo-era lineup of the Groovies to the more style-conscious British Invasion sonics of Cyril Jordan's version).
Though Jumpin' in the Night never rocks that hard or that well again, it does sound decidedly tighter and tougher than 1978's Flamin' Groovies Now, and guitarist Mike Wilhelm, a new addition to the Now lineup, is much better integrated into their wall of guitars, with the Groovies sounding more solid than they did a year before.
1. 'Jumping In the Night' (3:24)
2. 'Next One Crying' (2:36)
3. 'First Plane Home' (3:50)
4. 'In the U.S.A.' (3:20)
5. 'Down, Down, Down' (2:49)
6. 'Yes I Am' (2:35)
7. 'Werewolves of London' (3:37)
8. 'It Won't Be Wrong' (1:57)
9. 'Please, Please Me' (2:00)
10. 'Tell Me Again' (2:00)
11. 'Absolutely, Sweet Marie' (3:15)
12. '5D (Fifth Dimension )' (2:41)
13. 'Lady Friend' (2:31)
Unlike the first two albums, which were produced by Dave Edmunds Jumping in the Night was produced by group member Cyril Jordan in collaboration with Roger Bechirian.
However, there is no apparent difference in the sound, and Edmunds' spirit shines throughout the album.
The first Sire album, Shake Some Action, was characterized by fine original songwriting mixed with some solid cover version and with Edmunds’ fine feeling for pure clear sound, and the album has become a power-pop classic.
The sequel Now suffered a bit from more uneven songwriting, but it was still a fine album in the same vein of its predecessor.
In truth, the same thing can be said about this album. Fine sound and somewhat uneven original songwriting, but otherwise a solid album that easily measures up to Now.
Group members Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson are, like on the previous two albums, behind the original songs. As a songwriting team they are distinguished with catchy tunes that bear clear signs of inspiration from The Beatles and The Byrds.
Six songs the duo contributed to this album, and with fine cuts such as 'Yes I Am,' 'Tell Me Again' and 'First Plane Home,' they present themselves from their strongest side.
The other three are song solid enough, but less significant, in my humble opinion.
Among the cover songs we get two Byrds songs, '5D' and 'Lady Friend,' which are as good as you could even hope them to be. Especially the latter, which here is given an interpretation that actually makes it more immediately catchy than The Byrds themselves!
Also the Stones' '19th Nervous Breakdown' and Dylan's 'Absolutely Sweet Marie' are given right royal treatments here, with the highlight for me, the Groovies' jangly Rickenbacker cover of Warren Zevon's 'Werewolves of London.'
• Cyril Jordan: Lead/rhythm guitars, mellotron, vocals
• Chris Wilson: Vocals, Rhythm guitar, harpsichord
• Mike Wilhelm: Lead/rhythm guitars
• George Alexander: Bass/vocals
• David Wright: Drums
Oh, and for my money, as aforementioned, 'Jumpin' in the Night' also has one of their best original songs, the blistering title track. Indeed, this whole album sounds great and the team behind it has done a wondrous job in the remastering department.
Official Purchase Link
Flamin' Groovies @ Facebook
Flamin' Groovies @ Twitter
Flamin' Groovies @ Instagram
Title - 'Only A Man'
Artist - Joee Corso
For those not in the know, genuine, forgiving and weathered like your favorite pair of jeans, singer-songwriter Joee Corso’s debut album for Woodward Avenue Records, Only A Man was released digitally and then on CD this past June 12th, 2020.
Written by Corso on his acoustic guitar, the set produced by two-time GRAMMY winner Paul Brown provides an inviting showcase for the earnest storyteller to spin his melodic yarns amidst folksy Americana rhythms.
1. 'Havana Winds'
2. 'Garden of Love'
3. 'Starlight Chandelier'
4. 'Young Lovers and Friends'
5. 'Last Time Around'
6. 'My Love'
7. 'We Gone'
8. 'One More Shot'
9. 'Only A Man'
10. 'Young Lovers and Friends (Reprise)'
The album opens with the gentle, slide guitar harmonies and islands hipsway of 'Havana Winds,' and backs that up with the mid-tempo, slow rockers 'Garden of Love' (which also features Wendy Moten) and 'Starlight Chandelier,' with the acoustic, easy-going reminiscing ballad 'Young Lovers and Friends' and the cheeringly optimistic 'Last Time Around' (which itself features mandolin and guitar from Davey Johnstone, who has been playing in Elton John’s band for 45 years) along next.
Then we get one of my own personal favorites, the beautiful, albeit haunting ballad 'My Love,' which is followed by the countrified, foot-stomper 'We Gone' (a song about regaining your freedom), the storytelling of love gone wrong in 'One More Shot, coming to a close on the lush, introspective title track, 'Only A Man,' and then ends with the cautiously rambunctious 'Young Lovers and Friends (Reprise).'
“The album stands up as something that’s an honest reflection of who I am as an artist and captures my voice in a perfectly imperfect way,” says Corso, who has already begun writing songs for the follow up.
Amazon Purchase Link
Joee Corso @ Facebook
Joe Corso @ Instagram
Title - 'All The Misery Money Can Buy'
Artist - Gasoline Lollipops
For those not in the know, Gasoline Lollipops front man, Clay Rose was raised between an outlaw, truck-driving father in the mountains of Colorado and a country song-writing mama in the sticks outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
Clay’s penchant for open roads and trouble making are the backbone of the Gas Pops’ sound. The rest of the band consists of Don Ambory, Scott Coulter, “Bad” Brad Morse, and Kevin Matthews who all come equipped with music degrees from Chicago, Boston, Jacksonville, and Denver, respectively.
They each add flavors of their own background and heritage, further diversifying the band’s signature sound.
Fresh out of the legendary Dockside Studio in Lafayette, Louisiana, Gasoline Lollipops are promoting their new album, All The Misery Money Can Buy (out September 11th, 2020), which pursues happiness and the American Dream to the end of the rainbow and chokes on a pot of gold.
Gas Pops collaborated with Clay’s song-writing Mama, Donna Farar ('Last Thing I Needed' recorded by Willie Nelson and Chris Stapleton) to create this politically-charged union of soul music and Southern rock.
1. 'All The Misery Money Can Buy'
2. 'Dying Young'
3. 'Train To Ride'
4. 'Lady Liberty'
5. 'Get Up!'
6. 'Nights Are Short'
7. 'Flesh and Bone'
8. 'Taking Time'
9. 'Bound For Glory'
Opening with the blues majesty of 'All The Misery Money Can Buy,' they then back that up with the lo-fi ballad 'Dying Young,' the troubadour invoking Americana of 'Train To Ride,' and then both the upbeat rock of 'Lady Liberty' and the gently frenetic 'Get Up!'
Up next is the gentle ballad 'Nights Are Short' which is followed by the twanging guitars and Hammond key work of 'Flesh and Bone,' the drum-led, slow poke 'Taking Time,' the gruffly-sung 'Bound For Glory,' with the album rounding out on the low brow, sorrowful rendering of 'Gypsy,' and closing on the foot-tappin' growth of both storytelling and vocals of 'Sinnerman.'
Amazon Purchase Link
Gasoline Lollipops @ Facebook
Title - 'Mariposas Cantan'
Artist - José Rizo's Mongorama
For those not in the know, José Rizo, the popular and influential disc jockey who hosts the long-running Jazz On The Latin Side on KKJZ (KJazz 88.1 FM) in Los Angeles is also notable as a bandleader and songwriter.
Indeed, in 2011 he founded Mongorama, a nonet inspired by conguero Mongo Santamaria’s early 1960s band.
Their third album, Mariposas Cantan (due out September 18th, 2020 via Saungu Records) following Mongorama and Baila Que Baila, features flutist Danilo Lozano (the group’s musical director), tenor-saxophonist Justo Almario, violinist Dayren Santamaria, pianist Joe Rotondi, bassist Ross Schodek, Joey De Leon on congas, Alfredo Ortiz on bongo, guiro and chekere, the late timbale master Ramon Banda (whose place is taken by George Ortiz on half of the set), singer James Zavaleta, conguero Joey De Leon, and a few guests, including: trombonist Francisco Torres who wrote nine of the arrangements and co-wrote five songs with Rizo.
Ramon Banda was one of the greatest timbale players in Latin jazz and, sadly, Mariposas Cantan is his final recording. Banda, who played with Poncho Sanchez for years, recorded with Cal Tjader, and was also a jazz drummer with organist Joey DeFrancesco, recorded six of the selections of Mariposas Cantan before becoming very ill and passing away.
In fact, his last recorded solo is on the track 'Mongorama,' with the entire album also now dedicated to him. This vivrantly alive album also includes Rizo’s 'Descarga Ramon Banda,' an exuberant piece performed by the full group plus Francisco Torres as a final farewell.
1. 'Mambo Mindoro'
2. 'Mariposas Cantan'
3. 'Helen of Jazz'
4. 'Fiesta De Charangueros'
5. 'A Little Dab'll Do Ya'
6. 'Quiero Menudo'
9. 'Watermelon Man'
10. 'Descarga Ramon Randa'
11. 'Como Fue'
12. 'East L.A. Meets Napa'
In truth, there are oh-so many highlights to Mariposas Cantan, especially given that it magnificently opens on Cal Tjader’s upbeat and oh-so vibrant 'Mambo Mindoro' (which also features violinist Santamaria) and backs that up seamlessly with the free flowing melodies of the title track love song sung by James Zavaleta, 'Mariposas Cantan,' the piano-led 'Helen of Jazz' (itself a tribute to the late disc jockey Helen Borgers who requested flutist Lozano on this piece) and then brings forth Alfredo Ortiz singing on 'Fiesta De Charangueros.'
Next up is the methodical, slow dance moves of 'A Little Dab'll Do Ya,' the fun swing of 'Quiero Menudo,' with the heat turned up next for 'Mongorama' and then we get two of the stand out tracks for me personally, the Latin hipsway of the playful 'Quindimbia' (where both Zavaleta and flutist Lozano interact to perfection), and the funky strides and beats of the ever-popular 'Watermelon Man.'
This emotively charged album then rounds out with the gently frenetic Latin vibes of 'Descarga Ramon Randa,' the dancefloor, slow shuffle ballad (featuring Yoshigei Rizo) of 'Como Fue,' closing on the melodiously perky 'East L.A. Meets Napa.'
Amazon Purchase Link
José Rizo's Mongorama @ Facebook
Title - 'When Lights Are Low'
Artist - Kenny Kotwitz & the LA Jazz Quintet
For those not in the know, a few years ago, producer Peter Maxymych, a big fan of the Art Van Damme Quintet, organized a group to bring back the classic sound for The Montreal Sessions.
That release featured one of Van Damme's few students, accordionist Kenny Kotwitz.
Now, in the centennial of Van Damme's birth, the LA Jazz Quintet has been organized with Kotwitz providing colorful arrangements in addition to his accordion.
Filled with studio and jazz veterans, each of whom have an endless number of credits, the LA Jazz Quintet consists of Kotwitz, guitarist John Chiodini, vibraphonist Nick Mancini, bassist Chuck Berghofer, and drummer Kendall Kay.
Although all of the musicians are superior soloists, the emphasis throughout their brand new recording, When Lights Are Low (which is released on August 1st, 2020 via PM Records) is on the sound of the ensemble, the blend between the instruments and relaxed tempos.
1. 'When Lights Are Low'
3. 'Cry Me A River'
5. 'When Sunny Gets Blue'
6. 'Crazy She Calls Me'
7. 'Darn That Dream'
8. 'Harlem Nocturne'
10. 'Mood Indigo'
11. 'Polka Dots and Moonbeams'
12. 'Stairway To The Stars'
13. 'When Lights Are Low (Reprise)'
Opening with the ornately beautiful, flowing ambiance of the title track, 'When Lights Are Low,' that's congenially followed by the delicate 'Skylark,' the mischievous 'Cry Me A River,' the slow dance magnificence of 'Estate,' and then both the melodious shuffle of 'When Sunny Gets Blue' and then the cautiously breezy 'Crazy She Calls Me.'
Then we get treated to the free flowing 'Darn That Dream' which itself is backed by the inquisitive notes of 'Harlem Nocturne,' the early evening perkiness of 'Manhattan,' and then one of my own personal favorites, the late night in Paris-inspired 'Mood Indigo.'
This musically transcendent new album then rounds out with the lush 'Polka Dots and Moonbeams,' the delicate orchestrations of 'Stairway To The Stars,' and comes to a close on 'When Lights Are Low (Reprise).'
Musicians: Kenny Kotwitz - Accordion and Celeste; John Chiodini - Guitar(s); Nick Mancini - Vibraphone; Chuck Berghofer - Upright bass; and Kendall Kay - Drums and Percussion.
Kenny Kotwitz @ Facebook
Title - Official Bootleg Box Set, Volume Three: 1995-2010
Artist - Glenn Hughes
For those not in the know, Glenn Hughes has been quite rightly hailed as “The Voice Of Rock”, as this 6CD live box set Official Bootleg Box Set, Volume Three: 1995-2010 ably testifies.
With vocals soaked in blues and soul, Hughes has fronted many legendary rock acts, including Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Hughes-Thrall, Trapeze and Black Country Communion.
Disc One - Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK 17th November 1995: Part 1:
2. 'Big Time'
3. 'The Liar'
4. 'Muscle And Blood'
5. 'You Are The Music'
6. 'Your Love Is Alright'
8. 'This Time Around'
9. 'Coast To Coast'
Disc Two - Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, UK 17th November 1995: Part 2:
1. 'Way Back To The Bone'
2. 'First Step Of Love''
3. 'You Fool No One'
4. 'You Keep On Moving'
5. 'Gettin' Tighter'
Spread across two discs, the set (at a venue named for the 10th Century English noblewoman who founded the city) kicks off with songs from what were Glenn’s more recent solo offerings, with the young Gary Moore-esque rocker ‘Big Time’, his pure, unadulterated vocal power on ‘The Liar’ and the funky rockin' blues of ‘Push’, before Trapeze classics such as the near nine minute slow burnin' blues of ‘Coast To Coast’ and AOR beauty ‘Way Back To The Bone’.
It wouldn’t be a Glenn show without featuring Deep Purple Mk3 and Mk4 hits, with his own personal takes on the excellent ‘This Time Around’ and ‘You Keep On Moving,’ his AOR cut of ‘Gettin’ Tighter’ (from 1975’s Come Taste The Band), a quiet blistering ‘You Fool No One’ and then two of DP's early hits, title tracks from both their 1974 albums, 'Burn' and massively-engaging 'Stormbringer.'
The following day Glenn made a live appearance at the more intimate LA2 in London, on 18th November 1995 (CD3).
Disc Three - Astoria 2, London, 18th November 1995:
1. 'Big Time'
2. 'Muscle And Blood'
3. 'You Are The Music'
4. 'Your Love Is Alright'
6. 'Coast To Coast'
7. 'Way Back To The Bone'
8. 'First Step Of Love'
9. 'You Fool No One'
10. 'Gettin' Tighter'
Unsurprisingly, much of the set replicates that from Wolverhampton, and no bad thing as Glenn revisits songs from across his long and varied musical journey, from Trapeze to Purple to his solo renaissance in the 1990s.
Stand out cuts here, not mentioned for the live discs above, include the near 8 minute, slow and smoky blues of 'Coast To Coast,' the full on guitar blues of 'Your Love Is Alright,' and the frenetic, and at times funky guitar onslaught of 'Gettin' Tighter.'
13 years later saw Glenn performing an exclusive acoustic show at Esquires in Bedford on 3rd May 2008 (CD4), celebrating the 40th anniversary of Deep Purple.
Disc Four - Esquires, Bedford, UK 3rd May 2008:
1. 'Coast To Coast'
2. 'I Found A Woman'
4. 'It's About Time'
6. 'This Time Around / Owed To "G"'
7. 'Will Our Love End'
8. 'Nights In White Satin'
9. 'Don't Let Me Bleed'
10. 'Holy Man'
11. 'You Keep On Moving'
As well as the expected Purple classics, such as the near 10 minute, Hammond-led rock blues of ‘Mistreated’, ‘This Time Around’ / ‘Owed to “G”', the gorgeous mid-tempo, gentle rock ambiance of ‘Holy Man’, ‘You Keep On Moving’ and ‘Stormbringer’, Glenn also includes a rare airing of his debut solo single, a quite stunning, reaching at times, horn-influenced rock ballad ‘I Found A Woman’ (from his debut solo LP, Play Me Out).
Also including a cover of The Moody Blues’ ‘Nights In White Satin,’ this live set comes complete with his near 8 minute 'Seafull,' a cut that almost begs to be an instrumental, yet still features moments of lyrics.
The final two discs feature a show recorded at the Spring & Airbrake, Belfast on 9th October 2010 (CD5 & 6).
Disc Five - Spring & Airbrake, Belfast, NI 9th October 2010: Part 1:
1. 'Muscle And Blood'
2. 'Touch My Life'
4. 'Sail Away'
6. 'You Kill Me'
7. 'Can't Stop The Flood'
9. 'Don't Let Me Bleed'
Disc Six - Spring & Airbrake, Belfast, NI 9th October 2010: Part 2:
1. 'Keepin' Time'
2. 'Steppin' On'
3. 'Soul Mover'
Kicking off with Hughes–Thrall’s killer rocker ‘Muscle And Blood’ (which comes from their self-titled album of 1982, and which, quite possible, showcases Hughes vocal reach at its absolute finest), the solo songs such as the foot-tappin' rocker ‘Orion’ (from Soul Mover), the guitar wizardry of ‘You Kill Me’ (from The Way It Is), and the SRV approach to ‘Can’t Stop The Flood’ (from Building The Machine) are included in a show that climaxes with the title track to the Addiction album, and finally, of course, Deep Purple’s 'Burn'.
Whilst every effort has been made to produce the best possible audio, limitations in the material drawn from various, non-standard, and unofficial sources means that the quality may not be up to the standard usually expected.
All tracks have been included for their historical importance, and to present an alternative anthology of Glenn Hughes live on stage from 1995-2010.
Purple Records have also reissued expanded collections of Glenn’s solo catalogue, including Play Me Out, Feel, Addiction, The Way It Is, Return Of Crystal Karma and Building The Machine.
Glenn Hughes also appears on the reissued 3CD set of 1974’s The Butterfly Ball And The Grasshopper’s Feast by Roger Glover And Friends, also on Purple Records.
Title - 'Message from Groove and GW'
Artist - The Radam Schwartz Organ Big Band
For those not in the know, Hammond B3 Organist and Jazz pianist, Radam Schwartz has built his reputation over the last 35 years playing with such great musicians as Arthur and Red Prysock, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Al Hibler, David Fathead Newman, Russell Malone, Cecil Brooks III and Jimmy Ford.
Indeed, he continues to make music history today playing with renowned artists, Bill Saxton, Iron City, The Spirit of Life Ensemble and many others.
Radam also has been a jazz educator for many years, with several generations of young musicians being mentored by him.
He served as music director at the Jazz Institute of New Jersey for close to 20 years, also served as an artist-in-residence at Middlesex County Arts High School, taught at the Jazz Academy in Red Bank, NJ, Jazz Connections in Montclair NJ. Jazz House Kids, and is the director of the Rutgers Newark Mosaic Jazz Ensemble.
And so, one of the pacesetters of the jazz organ, Schwartz teams up with drummer David F. Gibson and the Abel Mireles Jazz Exchange Big Band for a brand new album, entitled Message from Groove and GW (August 15th, 2020 via Arabesque Records).
1. 'Trouble Just Won't Go Away' (Radam Schwartz)
2. 'Blues Minor' (John Coltrane)
3. 'Ain't No Way' (Carolyn Franklin)
4. 'Dig You Like Crazy' (Radam Schwartz)
5. 'What to Do' (Abel Mireles)
6. 'Between the Sheets' (Rudolph Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Jr, Ronald Isley, E. Isley, M. Isley)
7. 'Message from Groove and GW' (Radam Schwartz)
8. 'A Path To Understanding' (Peter Lin)
9. 'Work Song' (Charles Mingus)
10. 'Von Gott' (J.S. Bach)
Quite easily one of the most swingingly sublime, groovingly funky, and musical BIG big band albums of the year, tracks such as the toe-tappin' magnificence of one of Radam's original tunes, 'Dig You Like Crazy,' let alone the funky rhythms and wondrous blues instrumental aggregation on the title track, 'Message From Groove and GW,' immediately showcase the fact that with four trumpets, five saxophonists, two trombone players, a guitarist and drummer making up Radam's outfit, sweet musical harmony is the the only, and most natural end product.
Add to that some stellar collective work on their covers of The Isley Brothers’ 'Between the Sheets,' mesmerizing turns on both John Coltrane’s 'Blues Minor' and Charles Mingus' 'Work Song' (not to be confused with the Nat Adderley composition), and even getting somewhat meditative on the J.S. Bach ballad, and album closer 'Von Gott,' for all intents and purposes, this all-encompassing collection might well be the must have, feel good album of the year!
Radam Schwartz @ Facebook