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Cherry Pop

Title - 'Don't Take Away The Music: The Remix Project'
Artist - Tavares

For those not in the know, Tavares (also now known as The Tavares Brothers) are an American R&B, funk, and soul music group, composed of five Cape Verdean-American brothers. Born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, they would later move to New Bedford, Massachusetts. They were inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

In truth, 1975 turned out to be their most successful year chartwise, with a Top 40 Pop album (In the City), the #25 hit "Remember What I Told You to Forget", and their biggest hit, the Top 10 Pop/#1 R&B smash "It Only Takes a Minute", which was later successfully covered by both Jonathan King and Take That, and sampled by Jennifer Lopez. They parlayed this success into a spot as an opening act for The Jackson 5. KC and The Sunshine Band was also on this tour.

"Minute" was followed by a string of hits: "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel" (1976), "Don't Take Away the Music" (1976), and "Whodunit" (1977, another #1 R&B hit). In 1977 they also recorded "I Wanna See You Soon", a duet with Capitol labelmate Freda Payne which received airplay on BBC Radio 1 but failed to chart.

SoulMusic Records is now proud to present a specially-compiled CD of remixes of five (5) of the major hits by this beloved international hitmakers. Compiled and created by top European remix producer Ben Liebrand, this incredible 11 track CD features four of their biggest hits; inclusive of a US disco version of "It Only Takes A Minute", making its CD debut along with the Liebrand-penned instrumental "One Minute".

Personally, I'm a HUGE fan of Tavares and so this CD arriving for review was always going to get right of way into my CD player! I have to also admit though that 11 tracks, but with only four songs (and two of those are just one song each) does seem to be stretching it out a wee bit thin, but I loaded the CD and let the music take me away!

First up was the title track, "Don't Take Away The Music (Remix)", but at just under four minutes, it was, basically, just the radio/single version. Great to hear again, sure, but that's about it. Then came "It Only Takes A Minute (Remix)", which again falls into the four minute radio/single version. The remainder rise above that four minute mark, some just, so please don't think that this is some form of 12" remix music show, for (save for a couple) it is not.

Up next are two more versions of "It Only Takes A Minute", the first a Disco Version (making its CD debut), the next an Extended Remix that nearly hits the eight minute mark. Now that's when my jam came out and I fell back in love with the band, their music. "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel" is up next, as both a Remix version and an Irresistible Angel Mix - which, with regard the later, is a rather splendid, nearly nine minute long slice of Heaven.

"More Than A Woman" is up next via two versions. The first is a simple Remix, the second an Extended Remix, clocking in at just under seven minutes. The song is just so uplifting, such a joy to still listen to today. Then comes the aforementioned instrumental "One Minute", which is followed by "Whodunnit (Extended Remix)", but Liebrand rounds out this CD in style, and comes full musical circle, with an eight minute long "Don't Take Away The Music (Hands Off The Music Mix)".

Remastered by Donald Cleveland, this 2016 release follows the label’s reissue of seven Capitol albums by the group – “Love Storm” (SMCR-5127), “Hard Core Poetry” (SMCR-5097), “Love Uprising” (SMCR-5065), “Madam Butterfly” (SMCR-5064), “Supercharged” (SMCR–5045), “Sky-High!” (SMCR-5023) and “In The City” (SMCR-5022). Stellar notes by renowned U.S. writer Kevin Goins include quotes from members of the group.

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Title - 'Save The Children: Expanded Edition'
Artist - The Intruders

For those not in the know, The Intruders were an American soul music group most popular in the 1960s and 1970s. As one of the first groups to have hit songs under the direction of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, they had a major influence on the development of Philadelphia soul. The Intruders are also noted for having 24 R&B chart hits, including 6 R&B Top Tens, and 14 chart hits in the Billboard Hot 100, including their signature song, the million-selling Top 10 smash, "Cowboys to Girls".

Big Break Records is proud to present Save The Children, adding to the list of classic PIR titles released by the label. Featuring two extended Tom Moulton mixes and liner notes by Christian John Wikane, Save The Children is an essential addition to any Philly Soul, R&B and Disco fans collection.

In truth, by the time The Intruders had released their highly acclaimed album Save The Children in 1973, they were already established as one of the leading R&B groups of their era. Having amassed 20 hit R&B singles and three albums the classic line-up of Sam 'Little Sonny' Brown, Eugene 'Bird' Daughtry, Robert 'Big Sonny" Edwards and Phil Terry came back together to record their fourth of five albums for Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's associated enterprises.

1. "Save the Children"
2. "Mother and Child Reunion"
3. "I Wanna Know Your Name"
4. "To Be Happy Is the Real Thing"
5. "I'll Always Love Mama"
6. "Memories Are Here to Stay"
7. "Teardrops"
8. "Hang on in There"
9. "(Win, Place or Show) She's a Winner"
10. "Travelling Home"
11. "I'll Always Love My Mama (A Tom Moulton Mix)"
12. "(Win, Place or Show) She's a Winner (A Tom Moulton Mix)"

We kick things off with the title track, the ultra smooth R&B of "Save The Children", a song that just oozes itself all over and out of your speakers. An anthemic track if ever there was, and running at just over seven minutes, it's followed by one of my own personal Intruders favorites, the free flowing "Mother and Child Reunion". Man, just listen to this track in your car, windows down, on a hot summers day and all your troubles will simply fly away!

Next up is the slow paced balled, "I Wanna Know Your Name", which in turn is backed by the piano-led, mid tempo, "To Be Happy Is The Real Thing", and then the uptempo, horn-a-plenty beauty "I'll Always Love My Mama". "Memories Are Here To Stay" is next, and that's backed by the last song on the original album, the powerfully sung, rigid even, "Teardrops".

The bonus tracks begin with the racetrack-inspired "(Win, Place or Show) She's A Winner", "Travelling Home", a nearly ten minute long "I'll Always Love My Mama (A Tom Moulton Mix)", and then bringing this expanded edition CD to a close we get "(Win, Place or Show) She's A Winner (A Tom Moulton Mix)". Beginning completely differently to the race track announcer that began the original single, it now brings a warm, fuzzy orchestrated feeling to the song.

A grand expanded edition of this original 1973 album from Cherry Red Records, for sure, and although I still have no idea as to what, or why the back photograph is on this release, or why The Intruders felt like never wearing any shirts when they did photo calls, all in all, Save The Children: Expanded Edition is one of the stand out highlights of the aforementioned record label's releases this year.

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Title - 'I'm Ready: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Natalie Cole

For those not in the know, the late Natalie Cole was an American singer-songwriter, and actress. The daughter of Nat King Cole, she rose to musical success in the mid-1970s as an R&B artist with the hits "This Will Be," "Inseparable," and "Our Love." After a period of failing sales and performances due to a heavy drug addiction, Cole re-emerged as a pop artist with the 1987 album Everlasting and her cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac".

In the 1990s, she re-recorded standards by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and also won Cole numerous Grammy Awards. She sold over 30 million records worldwide.

Sadly, on December 31, 2015, Cole died at the age of 65 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, due to congestive heart failure.

SoulMusic Records is proud to present an expanded edition of I’m Ready, the sole album recorded by the legendary Natalie Cole for Epic Records. The original eight-track 1983 album is supplemented by four cuts produced by famed musician Stanley Clarke which remained in the vaults until they were included in a ‘90s U.S. reissue of the original LP.

1. "Too Much Mister"
2. "I Won't Deny You"
3. "I'm Ready"
4. "Keep It on the Outside"
5. "Time (Heals All Wounds)"
6. "(I'm Coming) Straight from the Heart"
7. "Where's Your Angel"
8. "I'm Your Mirror"
9. "Winner (Takes All)"
10. "Azz Iz"
11. "Movin' on"
12. "How Can You Stop?"

I'm Ready is a rather lovely album, all told. Originally just 8 tracks long, you can especially feel the Stanley Clarke influence on the four bonus tracks, that's for sure. It begins with "Too Much Mister", a cut that begins and ends with gentle high hats, and showcases her "Pink Cadillac vocal R&B stylings" that would come to the fore five years later. The snappy, happy, guitar peaked "I Won't Deny You" is yet another precious diamond on this album, and is backed by the title track, the piano-led, R&B guitar steered, and dusky-sung "I'm Ready".

The storytelling of "Keep It On The Outside" is next and is followed by the 80's pop (quite literally) sounds of "Time (Heals All Wounds)" and then that bleeds perfectly into the keyboard-led ballad, "(I'm Coming) Straight From The Heart". The synth is loud and proud here on the funky "Where's Your Angel", which also happens to be one of my personal favs, and then the original album comes to a close with the stirring, string undercurrent of the ballad "I'm Your Mirror".

The four bonus tracks begin with "Winner (Take All)", a rather wonderful, and deeply funk driven track that has absolutely nothing to do with ABBA, sorry! Another synth-driven underlay is to then be found on the brilliant "Azz Iz", a cut that lives up to its crazy title. A foot tapper all the way through, you can just hear Whitney Houston singing this, that's for sure. Then comes the incredibly funky "Moving' On", complete with a beat that just begs you for a dancefloor, before the album comes to a close with the cool R&B grooves of "How Can You Stop".

The original album reached peak positions of number 182 on the Billboard 200 and number 54 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart, but deserved much higher on this listening. I think you will also agree once you give this a spin, believe me on that.

Remastered by Nick Robbins, this 2016 SoulMusic Records reissue follows the label’s release of two other Cole classics, “Natalie…Live!” (SMCR-5009) and “Thankful,” an expanded edition (SMCR-5028) and includes insightful notes by renowned U.S. writer Justin Kantor and a personal tribute to Natalie by founder David Nathan, who began interviewing her in 1975.

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Title - 'TRANE 90' [4-CD]
Artist - John Coltrane

For those not in the know, John Coltrane, also known as "Trane" was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and was later at the forefront of free jazz. He led at least fifty recording sessions during his career, and appeared as a sideman on many albums by other musicians, including trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk.

As his career progressed, Coltrane and his music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. Coltrane influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant saxophonists in music history. He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane and a special Pulitzer Prize in 2007.[ His second wife was pianist Alice Coltrane and their son Ravi Coltrane is also a saxophonist.

His death, aged just 41 in 1967, left an aching chasm at the heart of an art form and nearly fifty years after his passing his legacy continues to inform much of what is thought of as innovative within contemporary jazz. Even more unbelievably, a staggering nine decades have passed since the birth of this still controversial figure, a man whose music continues to generate passionate debate both for and against.

Trane 90 presents a four-disc anthology charting his journey from sideman to star, covering his seminal work with leaders including the aforementioned Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, through his horn for hire phase as one of New York's hottest new jazz talents, in which he recorded with everyone from fellow tenor Sonny Rollins to avant-garde gurus Cecil Taylor and George Russell, onto the formation of his own quartet, a unit that was to change both the pace and the face of jazz.

Classic Coltrane performances such as "Moment's Notice", "Giant Steps", "Naima" and "Chasin' The Trane" are included, as are his scene stealing solos on tracks with Miles Davis ("So What") and Thelonious Monk ("Trinkle Tinkle"). Also included in this glorious package is a major new essay on Coltrane by saxophonist and author Simon Spillett. Complete with period photographs and a bonus CD of live material (tracing Coltrane's career back to his early work with Dizzy Gillespie and Johnny Hodges), it provides the ultimate opportunity to witness Coltrane building his own legend, step by step.

Disc 1: 1. Stablemates 2. Trane's Blues 3. Dear Old Stockholm 4. Well, You Needn't 5. Monk's Mood 6. Trinkle Tinkle 7. Straight, No Chaser 8. So What 9. On Green Dolphin Street (Live)

Disc 2: 1. Straight Street 2. Moment's Notice 3. Good Bait 4. Giant Steps 5. Naima 6. Blues To Bechet 7. Africa 8. Chasin' The Trane

Disc 3: 1. Tenor Madness 2. Bob's Boys 3. Soultrane 4. Two Bass Hit 5. Pristine 6. West 42nd Street 7. Manhattan 8. Just Friends 9. Bags & Trane 10. Grand Central

Disc 4: 1. Birks' Works 2. Don't Blame Me 3. Max Is Making Wax 4. Tune Up 5. Bye Bye Blackbird 6. My Favourite Things 7. Impressions 8. Body And Soul

Simply put, TRANE 90 is, for all intents and purposes, the complete John Coltrane collection. Chronicling his career from start to finish, his history is laid out bare for everyone to delve into here. When he died in 1967 it left a gaping hole in the music industry, but this fills it back up - even if it is just a temporary listening experience.

That said, it's just what you need on a day when you have nothing to do, when the weather isn't cooperating, and you are indoors, milling around. You slip one of these CDs in (man, I wish they had made this as a vinyl LP set too!), maybe even slip your headphones on, and allow yourself to be guided into the world of Trane.

Title - 'Songs of Faith'
Artist - Dee Dee Sharp

For those not in the know, Dee Dee Sharp is an American R&B singer, who began her career recording as a backing vocalist in 1961. In 1962 she began a string of successful Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hits: "Slow Twistin'" (with Chubby Checker) (#3) for which she was uncredited on the label, "Mashed Potato Time" (#2), "Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)" (#9), "Ride" (#5) and "Do the Bird" (#10).

Both "Mashed Potato Time" and "Ride" each sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs. "Do the Bird" provided her only entry in the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at #46 in April 1963. In 1967, she married record producer and Philadelphia International co-founder Kenny Gamble (and subsequently began recording under the name Dee Dee Sharp-Gamble) although the couple later divorced in 1980.

Now she is back via ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. with a newly-rereleased Songs of Faith album. Having now listened to this CD twice through, and not knowing about Ms. Sharp beforehand, I can honestly say that Dee Dee Sharp is one fine singer who deserves to have album's like this see the light of day once again. Especially given that it's now been 54 years since she released Songs of Faith!

Brilliant orchestrations surround a voice that defies description straight from the off with this collection of twelve tracks composed of early gospel hymns, spiritual blessings, and even rumblings of country, the stirring 'Peace In The Valley' (Thomas A. Dorsey) is up first. That's followed by the slower 'He', the known-throughout bounce of 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands', the Choir-backed 'I Believe', and then both the gentle sway of 'Vaya Con Dios', and then the anthemic, and also now uber well known 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

The gospel-inspired 'It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)' is next, and is backed by the 'We'll Walk Together', a track that allows Sharp's voice to truly soar. The more grounded ballad 'Heavenly Father' is next, and is followed by the fast, countrified ditty 'Up Hill'.

Sharp even gets to sing a Broadway song, in the shape of the immense 'Climb Every Mountain' from The Sound of Music. And she does it with style to spare, for Sharp's rich, lush, and on some occasions even powerful voice moves through each selection here with confidence and grace. Add the lush orchestration that backs her at every turn, inclusive of the last track, 'I'll Make You Mine' and this CD is a must have for all fans of female singers who, simply put, need to be heard more of today.

To bring you up to date on the lady her, Dee Dee Sharp still attends Philadelphia’s Third Eternal Baptist Church where Eubie Gilbert, her grandfather, served as pastor when she was a child and vividly recollects the Songs of Faith sessions. “Most of these were done in one or just a few takes. I love singing with live orchestras and I’d been singing most of these songs for my whole life so it was easy.”

She continued, “Singing gospel has always been my heart’s desire and while this album isn’t ‘gut gospel,’ I love these songs. I sang ‘Climb Every Mountain’ at my Junior High School graduation from Thomas Fitzsimons Junior High and my grandfather was there. I remember him in the audience just beaming."

Also, this new edition of Songs of Faith includes insightful liner notes by Gayle Wald, Professor of English and American Studies at George Washington University and author of Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock–and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

The album had been out of print and is now be available once again as ABKCO Records has released this reissue on October 21st, 2016 on CD and in digital formats.

Title - 'The Intimate Keely Smith: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Keely Smith

You may well not have known of Dorothy Jacqueline Keely within the music business, indeed, you may not have either known of the artist she chose to become, Keely Smith, but in the 1950s you most certainly knew of her husband - Louis Prima.

Keely is an American jazz and popular music singer who enjoyed popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and who not only collaborated with her husband, but among others Frank Sinatra.

But well before all of that, Keely first showed a natural aptitude for singing at aged just 14. The Portsmouth, Virginia native started singing with a naval air station band led by Saxie Dowell and at 15, she got her first paying job with the Earl Bennett band.

Keely made her professional debut with Prima in 1949, where on stage she often played the "straight guy" in the duo to Prima's wild antics. Of course, they also recorded many duets, including Johnny Mercer's and Harold Arlen's "That Ol' Black Magic", which was a Top 20 hit in the US in 1958.

In 1959, Keely and Prima were awarded the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus for "That Ol' Black Magic" and the duo followed that up with the minor successes "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen"; a revival of the 1937 Andrews Sisters hit.

Keely and Prima's act was a mainstay of the Las Vegas lounge scene for much of the 1950s. Though her actual voice was not used, she was caricatured as "Squealy Smith" in Bob Clampett's 1960 Beany and Cecil episode "So What and the Seven Whatnots," a Snow White spoof in a Vegas setting.

Amazingly, between her debut album I Wish You Love (1957) on Capitol Records and her last album, Vegas '58 - Today (2005) on Concord, she has recorded 21 albums. In 1965, Keely recorded The Intimate Keely Smith on Reprise Records and now via Real Gone Records, and released this past October 14th, 2016, we are lucky enough to have it re-released, and this time in a glorious Expanded Edition.

This concept album itself is, without a shadow of a doubt, something that you are either going to love, adore even, or want to turn off three songs in. That would be a mistake, but understandable if stoic, yet heart-rendering, haunting, yet bass line melodic piano ballads are not your cup o' tea.

With Keely's voice up front and personal, crystal clear and alone, bare and surprisingly forceful, a solitary piano and light drum and high hat for company, from the moment 'Somebody Loves Me' is brought forth, and is backed by both 'As Long As He Needs Me' and 'Blame It One My Youth', you know how the remainder of the album will pan out.

Keely, in her day, was one of the world's most popular entertainers, I was also taken aback to learn that she retained the rights to the five albums she made for Reprise Records. That never really happens in this day and age, so for this The Intimate Keely Smith to finally come out on CD, it seems the people at Real Gone Music have struck gold. For, and in conjunction with Keely and her family, they are also now going to release all of those Reprise Records albums on CD for the first time; and all as Expanded Editions.

Produced by Keely’s husband-to-be & Reprise hitmaker Jimmy Bowen, The Intimate Keely Smith continues on in the same aforementioned musical vein with 'He Needs Me', 'Sinner or Saint', 'It Had To Be You', a rendition of Frank Sinatra's 'Time After Time', 'Nancy / You Are My Sunshine', her take on Billie Holiday's infamous 'God Bless the Child', 'You'll Never Know', and then 'The Whippoorwill'.

The two bonus tracks that make this an Expanded Edition are 'Twin Soliloquies (Wonder How It Feels)', a duet with Frank Sinatra (a track from the The Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre Presents South Pacific album), and the one and only upbeat, complete with orchestra track, 'No One Ever Tells You'. Rare in and unto itself, it is a non-LP single of the King-Goffin-Spector track arranged by Jack Nitszche and also produced by Bowen.

Title - 'Live at Kramus Deluxe Studio' (EP)
Artist - Grit

So, for those not in the know, Grit are a French music ensemble who have just released a 3-track EP entitled Live at Kramus Deluxe Studio via Greasy Records.

The Parisian four-piece (Marcus Linon, Guitar & Vocals; Matthieu Vial-Collet, Guitar & Vocals; Quentin Rochas, Bass & Vocals; and Florian Gouëllo, Drums & Vocals) have been gaining a lot of media and fan attention in the past few months and having worked hard to be where they are, now find themselves on the brink of something big, bold and very, very exciting.

The first track on the new EP, 'G.F.Y' (which pleasantly stands for Go F**k Yourself) is full on sound! Blaring out, attacking every sense your body contains, it's a musical assault that once the vocals kick in, suddenly remind you of the "softer side" of the Grunge era circa late '90s.

The guitar fest that holds 'Ready or Not' together is, for me, the best of the three tracks. It's just got a little bit of everything and removes them from the aforementioned Grunge and into an early Green Day period. The third track, 'Sister' keeps them in that late '90s/early '00s vibe. The lightest music on the EP, combined with the other two, it shows a fluid continuity, but at the same time showcases their musical diversity.

Sure the EP is just a tad over ten minutes, but the catured levels of raw, unadulterated energy make you desperate to keep the EP on rotation. And therein lies their biggest secret, for the more you play this music, the better each song becomes! A rarity in this business, but yeah, these three songs grow on you, do get better with each listen, and actually become more cohesive, mature even the more you listen. I cannot wait to hear a full-length album from them, and once you've listened to this EP, you'll think the same way too, trust me.

Title - 'Horse'
Artist - Slaves on Dope

For those not in the know, Slaves on Dope is a Canadian nu metal band based in Montreal, Canada. The band was formed in 1993 by Jason Rockman, Kevin Jardine and Avrum Nadigel, in the midst of the "grunge" explosion. They were highly influenced by this particular sound early on in the live shows and recordings, although at that time the Canadian music scene had yet to even embrace nu/alternative metal music.

Of course, all that changed and over the years nu metal has been more than welcomed into the musical fold by the masses. Releasing their debut album One Good Turn Deserves Another in 1998, then following that up with Inches From The Mainline (2000), Metafour (2003), and Over The Influence (2012), Slaves On Dope returns with their fifth full-length album Horse via the ILS Group.

Their most powerful album to date, recorded at Uplift Studios in Montreal, the album is dedicated 'to all the alcoholics and addicts suffering in the world' as a theme of hope and recovery winds through each song. Also, and interestingly enough, the cover art is an original painting created especially for the release by Marvel Comics artist Marco Rudy.

The pounding, guitar fest of 'Electric Kool Aid' is up first, and backed by the soaring 'Health Food And Heroin', the "lighter" fare of both 'Freebasing' and 'K-Hole', and then both 'Script Writer' (featuring Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, a founding member of, of course, the hip hop group Run–D.M.C.), and the brilliant guitar slinging of my own personal favorite on the album, 'Interplanatery Mission' (featuring Bill Kelliher, the rhythm guitarist of heavy metal band Mastodon).

'Liquid Sunshine' (featuring Bad Brains frontman HR) brings more of their nu metal to the fore, albeit with a slightly pop substance to it, and that's backed by 'Codependency' featuring Lee-La Baum of The Damn Truth. The album then rounds out with the drum-tastic 'P&P' and the perfect cherry on the musical cake, 'Disco Biscuit'.

Title - 'Reminiscence'
Artist - Tyler Reese

You may not know his name, as I admittedly didn't, but once you've heard his new album, Reminiscence (out November 4th, 2016) you'll want to know all about this most talented guitarist, trust me.

His name is Tyler Reese and he is, quite easily, one of the most talented musicians that I have ever had the pleasure to be asked to review in the past decade. His new album, the aforementioned Reminiscence is an eleven song show-and-tell for Reese, on which he showcases his ambitious guitar prowess through a vast jazz soundscape.

Beginning with the delicate, precise acoustic plucking tour de force 'Moving On', that's followed by the vibrant electricity of 'Breaking Point' and then both the frenetic jazz bounce of 'Out of Orbit' and the piano-led 'Reflections'. One of my own personal favs is 'Astrotermination', which is like a speeding train rounding corners, leaning into curves, bending the known logic for both safety and control.

'2Funk' is, as you would imagine, a funky R&B experience that Prince's NPG would have been proud to call their own, and that's backed by the jazz pop flow of 'Escapade'. Next up is the haunting guitar work of the title track, 'Reminiscence', a cut that seems to stretch out, to meld with your soul before your very ears, and that's followed by the back-in-the-day Charlestonesque 'Headed Out.'

The beautiful, stunningly gorgeous 'Emancipation' is brought forth next and is a pure delight to behold. Yet another of my favorites from the album, it rounds out the 10 track CD just perfectly. There is, however, a bonus track on this CD entitled 'Moving On - Radio Version', which actually brings the album full circle very nicely.

Simply put, Tyler Reese's new album Reminiscence features a solid collection of some of the most original, heartwarming, and thoroughly addictive guitar playing that the genre has ever witnessed. Whether he be gracefully strumming, rocking out, or flashing back to a golden era, Reese's fretwork is both captivating and engaging at all times.

Title - 'Ampersand, Vol. 2'
Artist - IZZ

For those not in the know, IZZ is a New York based progressive rock band. Its music is inspired by such classic progressive groups as Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Renaissance and is often infused with pop hooks ŕ la The Beatles. The band's name comes from the nickname of baseball relief pitcher Jason Isringhausen, who was once on the New York Mets, a team favored by bass guitarist John Galgano.

Over the years, IZZ (Tom Galgano - keyboards, vocals; John Galgano - bass, guitar, vocals, keyboards; Paul Bremner - guitars; Greg DiMiceli - acoustic drums, percussion; Brian Coralian - acoustic and electronic drums, percussion; Anmarie Byrnes - vocals; and Laura Meade - vocals) has performed at American progressive rock festivals RoSfest, NEARfest, The Rogue Independent Music Festival,CalProg, and ProgDay.

IZZ has just released their ninth new album, Ampersand, Volume 2, this past October 11th, 2016. Following on from Volume 1's release back in 2004 (Doone Records), it is comprised of 12 brand new studio tracks. Chock full of both long and short tracks, it's true to say that Ampersand, Volume 2 contains songs that highlight the band’s passion for songwriting, melody and diversity of styles and sounds.

The first track is 'Penelope', a song that allows Galgano and Byrnes to join musical vocal forces alongside the backdrop of his brother's keyboards. A beautiful, hauntingly so song, it is followed by the upbeat 'Fine', a cut that travels along nicely atop an acoustic guitar path. Next up is the Galgano sung 'Burn (If You Let It)', a track that he commands from start to finish, once again with a keyboard/piano back drop. That's followed by the all coming together, plugged in, '70s flashback styling of 'Take Me By The Hand', 'The Telephone', the lovely, ethereal 'Forever' from Meade, and then the frenetic guitar plucking of 'Hail Double Knob, Children of Mars.'

Galgano takes the vocals again on the delicate 'Again and Again', before a sturdy, controlling keyboard piano comes to the fore on '84th and Amsterdam.' The upbeat, frenzied seeding train piano back drop accompanies Galgano on 'Ascension in Time', which is backed by some stupendous guitar playing on my own personal favorite song on the album, the brilliant 'Spellbound in the Vortex.' The album is then rounded out by the longest track, the psychedelic trip known as 'Ready To Go.'

Complete with tight vocal male and female harmonies, expert acoustic and electric guitar playing, with songs that start slow and then evolve into stand alone prog tracks, and wonderful keyboard solo's by Tom Galgano, Ampersand, Volume 2 is one of IZZ's strongest albums to date. Simply put, their follow up to Volume 1 does not disappoint.

"Fine" - Lyric Video

Title - 'Jazz Loves Disney' (Compilation)
Artist - Various

I mean, come on now, who doesn't love Disney? And, for that matter, who doesn't like Jazz? Combine the two passions from their own worlds and you get an album quite like no other from Verve Records. Out November 18th, 2016, Jazz Loves Disney is already now one of my favorite Disney albums covered by some of the best Jazz greats known to the business.

There’s something very special about Disney songs and the music from the magic kingdom’s films and cartoons. It’s music that remind us of a special time, a time when we young and such is the magical feeling that they conjure up that they unleash our inner child. Walt Disney was a fan of jazz, so they say, so this new album seems like the perfect partner to accompany some of his finest musical works.

We kick off in style with Jamie Cullum's version of "Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat", and that's backed by a ultra lush, smokey vocalized "He's A Tramp" from Melody Gardot. Then comes one of my own personal favs on this incredible album, the bossa nova spin of "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (French Version)" from Grammy-nominated American jazz singer Stacey Kent. Next up is a stirring performance (does he ever do any other kind) of "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Gregory Porter, and that's followed by "Why Don't You Do Right?" from French singer China Moses.

Raphael Gualazzi is up next with his rendition of the beloved by kids (and adults still) "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)". The Italian singer and pianist really puts a delightful spin on the song and ensures it will go down, in my mind, as one of the most played tracks on this entire album. Not to say that any are fillers, because there just isn't, for next we get the wonderful instrumental "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" (The Rob Mounsey Orchestra), and then a stunning "You've Got A Friend In Me" from Hugh Coltman.

The now infamous "Let It Go" from Frozen is this time performed, and more than adequately, by French national Anne Sila, and then along comes everybody's go-to Disney sing-along favorites, "The Bare Necessities", performed here by both Melody Gardot and Raphael Gualazzi. My goodness, what an incredible take on the song they collectively bring, and yes, it is an obvious stand out highlight.

British band Laika next bring us "Once Upon A Dream" and that's followed by "Un jour mon prince veindra" from Nikki Yanofsky. This exquisite, truly unique album is then brought to a close with New York-based ensemble The Hot Sardines giving us a fantastic rendition of "I Wanna Be Like You" that would give any other band who tried the same a severe run for their money, trust me.

Man, that trumpet playing is just out of control and together with everyone in the ensemble coming together as one, this is, without a shadow of a doubt, my own personal favorite (and I think, once you have played this CD, you will wholeheartedly agree with me also).

1. Jamie Cullum – “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” – from The Aristocrats

2. Melody Gardot – “He’s A Tramp” – from Lady And The Tramp

3. Stacey Kent – “Bibbidi Bobbodo Boo” (French version) – from Cinderella

4. Gregory Porter – “When You Wish Upon A Star” – from Pinocchio

5. China Moses – “Why Don’t You Do Right” – from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

6. Raphaël Gualazzi – “I Wanna Be Like You” – from The Jungle Book

7. The Rob Mounsey Orchestra – “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” – from Cinderella

8. Hugh Coltman – “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” – from Toy Story

9. Anne Sila – “Let It Go” – from Frozen

10. Melody Gardot & Raphaël Gualazzi – “The Bare Necessities” – from The Jungle Book

11. Laika – “Once Upon A Dream” – from Sleeping Beauty

12. Nikki Yanofsky -“Someday My Prince Will Come” – from Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs

13. The Hot Sardines – I Wanna Be Like You (French version) – from The Jungle Book

Title - 'Freedom, Now!'
Artist - Free Human Zoo

For those not in the know, Free Human Zoo (Laurent Skoczek, Samy Thiébault, Nico Feuger, Emmanuel Guerrero, and Matthieu Rosso et Gilles Le Rest) are a French ensemble whose music combines the elements of Jazz, Rock, Jazz-Rock, Pop, Prog, Folk, and so much more.

Their new album is entitled Freedom, Now! is a 4-track collection of songs that are both emotional and sensitive, whilst at the same time both void of grounding and chock full of immense free spirit.

The fun, upbeat "Borokoni" is up first, and wow, they immediately grab you, wanting you up on your feet. I mean, if the chords had arms they would be swinging you in jazz / prog moves around the room! The more precise, thoughtful "Amour moteur, Matrice" is next and showcases exactly what this highly talented ensemble can do.

"Aspettando la Primavera" turns the heat down somewhat, and ebbs and flows in a most beautiful, delicate even style. The last track is "Maniacus", a cut that seems to follow the traits of how improvisational jam sessions come to be. With dynamic peaks and troughs throughout, it's yet another highlight of this incredible album from Free Human Zoo.

Official Free Human Zoo Website

Title - 'Jaguar Jesus' [Explicit]
Artist - J French

If you have not thus far heard of musician J French, once this album comes out, the songs hit the radio, you're gonna want to know a whole lot more about him, trust me.

The son of Grammy-winning reggae percussionist and vocalist Brother Num (Burning Spear), Jamal French aka J French is an accomplished rapper, multi-instrumentalist and producer based in Oklahoma City.

Having been a rapper since he was 12 years old, over the subsequent years J French has been quietly composing his rhymes and creating his lyrics to bring forth to an adoring public. For those that know him love him, and those that don't know of hm (myself included) find a core within his music that we can all too easily relate to.

J French, who also plays cornet, piano and drums, has worked with several rappers in the Oklahoma-Texas scene over the years, but it was his childhood time, split between his Harlem-based father and his mother's home in Edmond, OK, where he really began soaking up the musical spoils that both the East Coast and the Midwest had to offer.

He has just released a new EP entitled Too A.M. this past April 2016 and now come December 9th, 2016 via IV League Entertainment, his will be bringing out his high anticipated debut album, Jaguar Jesus.

1. X-Ray Vision (03:29) 2. Electric Paris (03:34) 3. Unsatisfied II (03:49) 4. Ultra Bass (03:16) 5. White Chocolate Droppa Interlude (00:20) 6. Check (02:53) 7. Reign (03:49) 8. Dallas (02:44) 9. Sure (03:20) 10. Up There (02:35) 11. Such an Art (03:20) 12. Clouds (03:39)

The album is smooth, it's structured, it's chock full of hipsway and technique. The lead single 'Dallas' is a gem all unto itself, the storytelling within it, well, you just know it's obviously something that J French experienced himself. J French knows this music, raps perfectly to every rhyme and rhythm like it's a second language to him.

He may well have been in trouble for a while back in the day, but nothing from his negative past ever makes it through to his lyrics, to his music. J French knows where he need to go from here. He's always trying to climb, to make the next best move for him. This album, for now, is that move.

"Dallas" - Official Music Video

Title - 'My Little Pony: It's a Pony Kind of Christmas'
Artist - Various

For those not in the kiddie-land / parenting know, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - It's a Pony Kind of Christmas is a brand new holiday album containing original holiday-themed songs and new versions of traditional public domain Christmas songs, along with an extended version of The Heart Carol.

It also features performances by the cast of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic (so, no stand in's simply brought on board just to knock the songs out and leave!) along with the Phoenix Chamber Choir of Vancouver on several tracks, including the opening title track, 'It's a Pony Kind Of Christmas'. Re-released on CD on October 7th, 2016 and on on-demand streaming and digital media on November 6th, 2015, this delightful 15-track album also contains five brand-new tracks from "A Hearth's Warming Tail," the 2016 holiday episode of Discovery Family's popular My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated television series.

So, after the euphoric title track, which also puts the whole MLP gang up front and center vocally, next up is the fast paced 'Jingle Bells' from Rainbow Dash, the ballad 'Deck the Halls' from Rarity & Phoenix Chamber Choir (PCC), the anthemic 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' (Twilight Sparkle & PCC), the stirring 'Silent Night' (Fluttershy & PCC), and then both the fun 'Twelve Days of Christmas' from Pinkie Pie (what's a cherry chugger?!), and Pop Fly with 'Last Year I Got Coal for Christmas.'

'Jolly ol' St. Nick' from Spike is next, with the triumphant 'Days Gone By (Auld Lang Syne)' by Apple Jack, Appleblom & Granny Smith, and that's backed by 'The Heart Carol' (PCC), 'Hearth's Warming Eve Is Here Once Again' from Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie & Fluttershy. The swashbuckling 'Say Goodbye to the Holiday' from Starlight Glimmer is my personal favorite on here, and that's followed by Applejack & Starlight Glimmer on 'The Seeds of the Past.' The CD then rounds out with Pinkie Pie on the upbeat dance fest 'Pinkie's Present', and then the soaring 'Luna's Future' by Princess Luna.'

A wonderful treat for all My Little Pony fans, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - It's a Pony Kind of Christmas is most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, the best stocking stuffer they could ever hope to open come Christmas Day. This re-released expanded version, due to those aforementioned new five songs from A Hearth's Warming Tail, also comes with a very colorful booklet and a collectible poster!

Title - 'Mike Watt - ring spiel tour ’95'
Artist - Mike Watt

Listening to this 2LP vinyl music experience the first thing that comes to mind is, Wow! That's quickly followed by "Where has this been hiding for the past 21 years?! Well, luckily for all us audiophiles and true blue lovers of great music, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release – as an aforementioned 2LP vinyl, CD and digital album – Mike Watt’s “ring spiel” tour ’95 live concert recording, on Friday, November 11th, 2016.

Personally, I'm listening to the 150g standard 2LP vinyl offering of this incredible “ring spiel” tour ’95, but, and fellow audiophiles please take note now, for there will also be made available a limited edition 2LP vinyl 12″ orange colored set!!

Available for the first time commercially in any format, “ring spiel” tour ’95 is a thrilling audio document of ‘the man in the van with a bass in his hands’ trailblazing 1995 solo tour, recorded on May 6th at the legendary Metro club in Chicago, featuring an all-star backing band.

Ok, even though it was 1995, vinyl was still being actively made, so there is no reason that this same-year show, recorded at the Metro in Chicago, couldn't have been released right after the tour had ended that year. At least that way, even as CDs were running rampant within the recording industry also, we could have at least been enjoying this live performance for two decades now!

Anyway, and for those of you who are not in the know, Mike Watt is the influential punk rock bassist/musician whose bands MINUTEMEN and fIREHOSE helped define the sound and direction of rock. In February 1995, Columbia Records released ball-hog or tugboat?, the first solo release by Watt. Also known as ‘The Wrestling Album,’ ball-hog or tugboat? featured the punk pioneer’s collaborations with artistic peers and descendants, such as Henry Rollins, Flea, Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Adam Horovitz, Mike Diamond, Frank Black, Dave Pirner, Evan Dando, Nels Cline, Pat Smear, Dave Grohl and Eddie Vedder, among many other friends, ‘getting into the ring’ with Watt.

In March 1995, Columbia Records announced that Watt would be hitting the road for the first time as a solo artist. Members of opening bands Hovercraft and Foo Fighters – Vedder, Grohl, Smear and drummer William Goldsmith – subsequently joined headliner Watt on-stage as eager participants of the jaw-dropping back-up band heard on the “ring spiel” tour ’95 album.

The first track, a Daniel Johnson cover, 'Walking The Cow' introduces us to Watt's low, gruff singing tone instantly, and from then on it you kinda get a feel for what you're in for. Next up is 'Big Train' (a Chip & Tony Kinman cover), the faster-paced, and punk-assured 'Formal Introduction', the speeding train, and Vedder-backed 'Against the 70's', and then both the slow pacing of 'Drove Up from Pedro' and the blistering Vedder-led composition, 'Habit'.

The guitar fest 'Makin' the Freeway' is up next and is backed by the thoughtful guitar work and lyrics of 'Chinese Firedrill'. The pace is stepped up once again on 'Piss-Bottle Man', the out of control, yet paced guitar work of 'Forever ... One Reporter's Opinion', and then both the Williams-inspired drum fest behind my personal fav on the album, the funky pop bounce of 'E-ticket Ride', and then the rant of 'Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing'.

Next up is 'Coincidence is Either Hit or Miss', a track that once again, albeit for longer, allows Williams to conduct the track's flow from his drum kit, and that's followed by a Blue Öyster Cult cover, 'The Red and the Black' from Vedder and company. The album then comes to a close with just Watt's bass and Goldsmith's drums for the methodical, beat poetry music styling of his take on 'Secret Garden' (a Madonna cover, believe it or not), and then the jangly guitar work of 'Powerful Hankerin'.

It was Watt's first solo tour and if he might not be the world's greatest vocalist, his singing is honest and fits this collection of tunes from the Minutemen, fIREHOSE, and his then-brief solo career with a few covers thrown in. Occasionally the guitarists are given room to shine but mostly it's up to Watt's always-inventive bass playing to make each track resonate. Which he does, each and every time, track after track.

Mike Watt @ Twitter!

Title - 'Lovesick' (EP)
Artist - Jordan Hurwitz

For those not in the know, at least for right now, Jordan Hurwitz is a singer/songwriter. At age 16, she came out with her first album on iTunes called Infinity. At the age of 17, she released her second album on iTunes called The New Me. At the age of 18, she released her third album called Here I'll Stand, produced by Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, et al) at his very own Tarpan Studios.

Now aged 19, and Jordan is preparing to release a new 6-track album, again with Narada. Entitled Lovesick, it will be released via Tarpen Studios on December 9th, 2016.

Each song here in this set of six focuses on emotions and experiences that Hurwitz has herself enduring this past year. Never one to shy away from how real life can twist and turn your emotions like their on one crazy rollercoaster of a ride, her level of lyrical depth is both commendable and exciting.

Whether it be a story of heartbreak within 'Obilterate My Heart' (a duet with Tarpan artist Cornell "C.C." Carter), or the stunning title track, 'Lovesick', each song begins with a statement, flirts with optimism, and breaks through with boundless resolution.

In truth, no matter if it's the tongue in cheek pop song 'I Love Your Abs', the poignant ballad 'Power', the stoic Blues-feel of 'Riverbank' or even 'Hurricane', this new album is as good as anything Narada has been involved with, in my opinion. I mean, just 'Lovesick' alone, with its Latin beats, engaging hipsway rhythm might just be as close to a genuine Top 10 radio hit as Hurwitz has ever been - and deservedly so, trust me.

Jordan @ Twitter!

Title - 'Heart - Live at The Royal Albert Hall'
Artist - Heart

In June 2016 Heart made their first ever live appearance at London's famous Royal Albert Hall. To make the sold-out night even more special the band were accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who added further depth and an epic scale to Heart's songs.

Well, let me begin by fully admitting that I have loved Heart ever since, well, hang on, I'm not that old, so since their mid-80's resurgence, I guess. I then floated back into their deep, oh so deep musical past and fell in love all over again - with voices that just don't seem to have changed at all over the years.

For Heart's first ever live appearance at London's famous Royal Albert Hall in 2016 (released on multiple formats Dec. 2nd, 2016 via Eagle Rock), and for the first time ever also, backed by the spectacular Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, this sold-out night must have gone down in the band's history as one of their go-to memories for great things they accomplished as a musical unit.

With the RPO adding a depth, a splendid resonance, and an epic scale to Heart's songs, listening from the very off you can see how polished the two units are: Heart strong and steadfast, the RPO on note and on fire behind them at every musical turn. The set includes all the hits, all the fan favorites, of course, all the radio play must-hear's, along with some new and reinterpreted tracks from their most recent, and 16th studio album, Beautiful Broken.

The chemistry between band and orchestra is simply magical watching them come together. I mean, from the opening song, which this CD just roars into, "Magic Man", the power behind Ann Wilson's vocals is out of control still. That and the fact that the vibrancy, the crisp urgency, the full-ahead tempo is obvious from the start. "Thank you very much and welcome," announces Ann. "We're Heart and we're very honored to be here tonight. I'd like to now introduce you to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra," she adds, before they lead her into a mystical "Heaven".

"We're going to be playing songs from all parts of out long career," Ann tells the audience, "and we're going to start at the beginning," she adds, as the band roll into the beautiful "Dreamboat Annie". A simply unbelievably powerful "What About Love" is the first time we really get to hear the stonking string power of the RPO, as it, quite literally, lifts the song, and Ann's vocals clear up and nearly out of the Royal Albert Hall. Applauded like their hands would drop off, the audience knew it was something special to behold also.

The acoustic guitar-led rocker "Jump" is next (no, not the Van Halen one, settle down!), and that's backed by the orchestral delights of the playful "Sweet Darlin" from their fifth studio album, Bébé le Strange in 1980. After thanking the audience, the tone is brought down for the new piano ballad "Two", which is followed by my favorite Heart duo back-to-back: "These Dreams" and the Nancy-sung "Alone". Now, and in full disclosure, the former was lacking the thrust it normally would hold, and the latter sounded as if it was being sung/performed at half speed!

"Thank you", Ann says. "That's the Angel singing there," she adds, with a nod to her sisters vocals, as they then turn the tempo back up on the thunderous title track from their new album, "Beautiful Broken". "Mashallah!" is up next from their Fanatic album of 2012, and the always-brilliant-to-hear, acoustic guitar-fed "Silver Wheels" backs it just perfectly. That leads into a rousing "Crazy On You" before Ann says goodnight, on behalf of her and the band. Thanking the audience for joining them on this special night, the gently strummed "Sand" is next brought forth.

The hauntingly stunning "No Quarter" is next, and after the deserved applause has died down, the evening is brought to a close with a mesmerizingly brilliant "Barracuda" and then, after Ann once again thanks the crowd, finally, the blood pumpin' oldie "Kick It Out".

Heart - Ann Wilson (Vocals); Nancy Wilson (Guitar & Vocals) Benjamin Smith (Drums); Daniel Rothchild (Bass); Craig Bartock (Guitar); Christopher Joyner (Keyboards) - just couldn't have sounded, or played any better here, and with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nick Davies, he held them tight, orchestrated (!) and align to everything that the rockers threw at them.

1. Magic Man 2. Heaven 3. Dreamboat Annie 4. What About Love 5. I Jump 6. Sweet Darlin' 7. Two 8. These Dreams 9. Alone 10. Beautiful Broken 11. Mashallah! 12. Silver Wheels / Crazy On You 13. Sand 14. No Quarter 15. Barracuda 16. Kick It Out

Title - 'The Official Bootleg: Archive-Vol. 1' (6CD)
Artist - John Wetton

The Official Bootleg: Archive-Vol 1 is an astounding six CD live archive release from the rock icon, John Wetton. Showcasing Asia and King Crimson lead vocalist Wetton at his musical and lyrical finest, he covers over 50 tracks, across six incredible live CDs, and across the world also. Inclusive of some of his most favored, critically beloved tracks down through the years, this new collection (and only, seemingly the first volume at that) is both expansive and comprehensive.

Indeed, this Official Bootleg Archive collects together three of Wetton's previously released Official Bootlegs - which have been out of print for nearly 10 years! The audio has been given a 2016 remastering with the new artwork having been given the full approval by Wetton himself.

All done with his highly distinctive voice at the helm, this double album of live material collects together a pair of of Wetton's acoustic solo concerts for radio broadcasts from back in the day. The 2001 XM radio broadcast was an official website only title over 10 years ago and has never had a commercial release. The 1998 Swedish radio broadcast (previously unreleased) was thought lost in a fire, until a duplicate of the master tapes was found; thanks to a long and tireless search by Wetton's fans!

As a singer, bassist and songwriter, Wetton initially rose to fame as the lead singer of King Crimson and thereafter Wetton formed UK with Eddie Jobson and later he was the lead singer for the supergroup Asia, his biggest commercial success. On The Official Bootleg, Wetton takes his love for his work, his own orchestrations, and brings them to life; one sumptuous live flashback chord at a time.

The first two CDs represent Live In Argentina 1996 (October 19th) at the Broadway Theatre, Buenos Aires. The first CD brings us 10 tracks, the second 7 tracks and it's a musical feast for all ASIA lovers, trust me. In truth though, all the CDs are just that, in their own ways, at their own levels.

Disc: 1
1. In the Dead of Night 2. Sole Survivor 3. Only Time Will Tell 4. Voice of America 5. Book of Saturday 6. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes 7. Thirty Years 8. Hold Me Now 9. Quilmes 10. Rendezvous 6:02

Disc: 2
1. Thomas Lang's Drum Solo 2. Caught in the Crossfire 3. Easy Money 4. Battle Lines 5. Heat of the Moment 6. Starless 7. Don't Cry

[John Wetton - Lead Vocals, Bass and Acoustic Guitars; Thomas Lang - Drums; Billy Liesegang - Guitar; Martin Orford - Keyboards and Vocals].

Next up is Live in Osaka 1997 (October 2nd) at Club Quattoro, Osaka, Japan, and boy, this is my personal favorite of the triple live set. Chock full of as many ASIA tracks as one can cram into a live show, Wetton is on his finest vocal form here also, in my humble opinion.

Disc: 3 - 1. Intro 2. The Last Thing on My Mind 3. Sole Survivor 4. I Can't Lie Anymore 5. Battlelines 6. John Young's Solo 7. Arkangel 8. Emma 9. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes 10. The Night Watch 11. Hold Me Now 12. Only Time Will Tell Disc: 4 - 1. Rendezvous 6:02 2. Thomas Lang's Drum Solo 3. Easy Money 4. In the Dead of the Night 5. After All 6. Heat of the Moment 7. Starless 8. Don't Cry

[John Wetton - Lead Vocals, Bass and Acoustic Guitars; Thomas Lang - Drums; Billy Liesegang - Guitar; John Young - Keyboards and Vocals].

The third live show is Live at the Sun Plaza Tokyo 1999 (August 5th) at the Sun Plaza, Tokyo, Japan and is just the most perfect wrap to this trio of live Wetton shows. A bit less ASIA and a bit more solo, Prog work, this Sun Plaza show is yet another stunning showcase of what Wetton does live.

Disc: 5 - 1. The Circle of St. Giles 2. The Last Thing on My Mind 3. Sole Survivor 4. Battle Lines 5. Book of Saturday 6. Martin Orford's Solo 7. Emma 8. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes 9. Hold Me Now 10. The Night Watch 11. Only Time Will Tell 12. In the Dead of the Night

Disc: 6 - 1. Easy Money 2. After All 3. Rendezvous 6:02 4. Time Again 5. Starless 6. Heat of the Moment 7. Don't Cry

[John Wetton - Lead Vocals, Bass and Acoustic Guitars; Steve Christey - Drums and Percussion; Dave Kilminster - Guitar and Vocals; Martin Orford - Keyboards and Vocals].

Admittedly, and as you can see with your own eyes, indeed once you make this purchase, with your own ears, there is a lot of repetitiveness here track wise. ASIA songs are aplenty, and they don't differ from one another that much show to show, so you have to be accepting of that going in.

Also, we seem to be rather inundated with live John Wetton gigs on CD recently. Having put out a live album recorded back in 2013, the decidedly varying degrees of success entity, New York Minute (albeit recorded with The Les Paul Trio at the infamous Iridium in New York), his Live Via Satellite 2CD brought forth 1998 and 2002 live recordings also.

Regardless, Wetton still harbor those legendary vocals that we all know and love and so hearing these tracks, one after another is nothing more than a real pleasure. Buy this amazing 6CD box-set collection today and immerse yourself into the wondrous musical world of John Wetton - and all he can do for your current state of mind.

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Memories In Rock, Live In Germany' [3LP]
Artist - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

"Toto. I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" opens up, as always, a Rainbow gig, and as the Oz music winds its mysterious notes around the applauding crowd, Side A of the first vinyl of three brings us "Medley: Over The Rainbow" which leads straight into a Ritchie Blackmore short guitar moment, before bleeding into "Highway Star". The rampant "Spotlight Kid" (complete with wicked Jens Johanssen keyboard highlight) is next, and, as vocalist Ronnie Romero incites the crowd to get loud, is backed by a feature-length version of "Mistreated".

Side B opens with Romero asking the crowd to sing with him, and wave their hands in the air, and then we're into the brilliant flashback track "16th Century Greensleeves". Next up is my all-time favorite Rainbow track, "Since You Been Gone", which here opens a little different to the rock version I've ever known. But that changes as soon as we get to the chorus, but Romero is now Graham Bonnet and so it's a pale imitation let down for me, sorry. The mega "Man On The Silver Mountain" is up next and during the lengthy track, Romero even has time to acknowledge the original lead singer, the one, the only Ronnie James Dio.

The reason we have this in our hands to review is that in June of 2016, legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore made many long held dreams come true for his fans as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow played three concerts in Europe; two in Germany and one in England. The two German shows at Loreley and Bietigheim were caught on camera to produce Memories In Rock – Live In Germany, which will be released via Eagle Rock Entertainment on Blu-ray+2CD (as well as on DVD+2CD). A Deluxe version (DVD, Blu-ray & 2CD in a 48 page hardback photobook), along with a 3LP version (180gm vinyl, and of which we are reviewing for you here today), will be available as an import on December 2nd, 2016.

Side A of the second vinyl brings forth the infamous ballad "Catch The Rainbow" before the rarely heard live instrumental "Difficult To Cure (Beethoven's Ninth)" is next upon us. Yet another of my later-era Rainbow cuts, the guitar work from Blackmore is out of this world spectacular and is also inclusive of a drum solo from David Keith that's instantly backed by solo turns from each of the band members.

Side B opens with Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers" and Romero reveals that the next song is his favorite, "Stargazer". Yet another fantastic, pounding song in the Rainbow arsenal, by now I'm getting tired of hearing Romero's in-between songs quips! Sure he sings well enough, definitely in the RJD mode, for sure, but not speaking English as well as he thinks he does, it just gets annoying after a while, sorry!

Anyway, Side A of the third vinyl begins in fighting form with "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll", and yet again Romero asking for the fans to raise their hands in the air to the music. Another deep cut favorite of mine, it's definitely one of the better tracks here, although you can hear Romero us running out of vocal gas. FYI: You will know this for yourself every time a lead singer offers the front row the chance to sing the boisterous chorus lines! Up next is "Child In Time / Woman From Tokyo" and is a winding, diving, musical work of art.

Side B from the third vinyl brings us the guitar fest "Black Night" and then ends perfectly with the Deep Purple monster, "Smoke On The Water". Sure we've heard this song so many times, and sung by so many different lead singers, but with his RJD vocal edge, and Blackmore on fire, Romero chooses the last song on this incredible 3LP vinyl set to showcase his best set of vocals, in my humble opinion.

So, come the end of this comprehensive Rainbow anthology of a musical ride, it has to be said that there's too much Deep Purple for my liking and I would have rather preferred to have some "Street Of Dreams" or the always-brilliant-to-hear "I Surrender". perhaps? And so, Romero might well not be Bonnet or RJD, but he takes control of the vocals here very aptly - if not memorably.

The band line-up for this incredible show featured Ritchie Blackmore (Guitar); Ronnie Romero (Vocals); David Keith (Drums); Bob Nouveau (Bass); Jens Johanssen (Keyboards); Candice Night (Backing Vocals); and Lady Lynn (Backing Vocals) ... although to say I ever really heard the lovely ladies over the guitars and drums would be a fib, sorry!

Title - Curved Air - 'Curved Space & Infinity'
Artist - Curved Air

A slight recap for those wishing to know more, is that the brilliant, uber talented Curved Air are a pioneering British progressive rock group formed in 1970 by musicians from mixed artistic backgrounds, including classical, folk, and electronic sound.

The resulting sound of the band was a mixture of progressive rock, folk rock, and fusion with classical elements. However, did you know that along with High Tide and East of Eden, Curved Air were one of the first rock bands after It's a Beautiful Day and The United States of America to feature a violin.

Indeed, Curved Air released eight studio albums (the first three of which broke the UK Top 20) and had a hit single with 'Back Street Luv' (1971) which reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart.

Over the following years the band broke up several times, they were even sued by their British label Chrysalis (1974), and with jail time hovering over them due to a HUGE tax bill owed, they just managed to pay that off also.

Curved Air, as a group were largely inactive for the next three decades but in 2008 founding members Sonja Kristina, Florian Pilkington-Miksa, Daryl Way and (briefly) Francis Monkman decided to get back together after a hiatus of 32 years. Over the next few years, the band went through a few personnel changes with signer Kristina and original drummer Pilkington-Miksa being the only original members left.

This revitalized the band, and in 2012 they released a brand new live album, Live Atmosphere. The new musicians that stepped in - guitarist Kit Morgan, bassist Chris Harris, keyboard player Robert Morton, and violinist Paul Sax - each now managed to put their very own signature styles on the CA music experience and for that they enhanced the band no end.

Whereas Live Atmosphere included potent new versions of many of the band's classic early 1970's repertoire, in 2016 they followed that up with The Curved Air Rarities Series Vol 1: Tapestry of Propositions. An hour long version of Propositions recorded live at fourteen different locations during 2013/2014, it is now itself followed up by Curved Space / Infinity, the second volume of the Cured Air Rarities Series. Indeed, as you can well imagine, both these albums, packaged together are a must-have for fans of the band and instrumental improvisational music.

Disc: 1 - 1. Towards Tomorrow 2. Sea of Tranquillity 3. Baghdad Cafe / Return to Calvary / Towards Infinity 4. Sol y Sombra 5. Harp Riff 6. Free Tibet 7. Blue Yonder Blues 8. Playing Away 9. Rose

Disc: 2 - 1. Elevation 2. Labyrinth 3. Expansions 4. Aphelion 5. Megalith 6. Celestial Dance

Released this past November 11th, 2016 via Cherry Red Records (UK), Curved Space & Infinity - The Curved Air Rarities Series, Volume 2 (to give it it's correct title) is yet another symphony of perfection from Curved Air. I mean, in truth, knowing this band, their music over the years, how could it possibly be anything other than greatness personified?

That said, we should mention that this instrumental double CD set is the only Curved Air release not to feature lead singer Sonja Kristina, but has been released with her full support and blessing. Indeed, the line-up on Curved Space, which was released before as Francis Monkman’s “Jam” but now features two previously unreleased bonus tracks, includes: Francis Monkman (guitar); Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums); and Rob Martin (bass).

The line-up on Infinity, which are all-new 2016 studio recordings includes: Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums); Kirby Gregory (guitar); and Robert Norton (keys).

Chock full of compositions that were created entirely in the moment and were genuinely inspired by what was around the artists at the time, with regard the name Infinity, it encapsulates the spirit of freedom with which the three artists approached the making of the album and the limitless possibilities of creating music in the moment. So, come one now, doesn't that just want to me you go run and buy this incredible 2CD work of musical art?

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Title - 'Too Late To Hate'
Artist - Lucifer's Friend

Lucifer's Friend, for my money, were one of the first true metal bands of the 70's. Their debut self-titled album is pure metal. Not thrash, not hate, not BS attitude, and not stupidly simple three-chord progressions. The album contained MUSIC, real music, in the style of the 1970s that was (and still is) called "heavy metal".

Which is why I was very excited to learn that Lucifer's Friend had reformed in 2015, some 20+ years after they last played together! With that aforementioned self-titled debut having made them famous among connoisseurs of 70's metal / hard rock, they most definitely pioneered the prog rock genre.

Although, one interesting thing to remember is the band produced 11 albums, and every single one of them was done in a different style! Which means that their first album was their only heavy metal album, even though a few tracks on the others albums might qualify as "metal".

After original lead singer John Lawton left them for a gig with Uriah Heep in 1976, the band continued releasing albums, but finally broke up in 1982. Briefly reforming in 1994 for their ninth album (Sumo Grip), by fan request (quite literally), German hard rock band Lucifer's Friend came back together in 2015 - and recorded it!

And so Live @ Sweden Rock 2015 was born, and was quickly followed by a brand new Best Of compilation, entitled Awakening. Now here in 2016, and via their very own Lucifer's Records, once again, this past November 18th Lucifer's Friend released their first true new studio album since 1981, Too Late To Hate. With a line-up of John Lawton (Vocals); Peter Hesslein (Guitar); Dieter Horns (Bass); Stephan Eggert (Drums); and Jogi Wichmann (Keyboards), these guys couldn't have made a better album at this time. It's just that good.

Tracklisting: - 1 Demolition Man 2 Jokers & Fools 3 When Children Cry 4 Straight For The Heart 5 Tell Me Why 6 Don’t Talk To Strangers 7 I Will Be There 8 This Time 9 Tears 10 Sea Of Promises 11 Brothers Without A Name 12 When You’re Gone (Live)

Inclusive of a bonus live version of "When You're Gone" brand new songs such as "Demolition Man," "I Will Be There," "Sea of Promises," "Tears" and, amongst others, the brilliant "Don't Talk To Strangers" make this a 12-track work of musical art.

Title - 'Takeaway'
Artist - Richard Palmer-James

For those not in the know, much like me (and yet I love this band, weirdly enough), Richard Palmer-James is an English musician, best known for having written lyrics for several songs by the progressive rock group King Crimson in the early 1970s.

In fact, Palmer-James got his start in the music business playing in various Bournemouth bands: The Corvettes, The Palmer-James Group (formed with Alec James), Tetrad, and Ginger Man, all of which included John Wetton on bass and vocals. Palmer-James was a founding member of Supertramp, playing guitar and singing vocals, as well as writing the lyrics for their self-titled debut album under the name Richard Palmer. He also co-wrote the lyrics of "Goldrush", a song written during his days in the band but not recorded until their 2002 album Slow Motion.

Palmer wrote lyrics for three of King Crimson's albums: Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. He did not participate in any of King Crimson's recordings, but worked with John Wetton and David Cross after Robert Fripp disbanded the group in 1974.

And now Palmer-Richards brings us Takeaway, amazingly his very first solo album. Something of a surprise release, it's clear from listening to the man himself that he felt that enough was enough, and that having written for hordes of other musicians, and sat back and witnessed their success at his own hands, that the spotlight had to be readjusted: "Having spent the last few decades writing words for other people to sing, and thus being obliged to comply with the ambitions and sensibilities of others, I wanted to present a collection of songs that are uncompromisingly my own."

"I've been trying them out in club and pub appearances as a singer/songwriter, and they seem to work, but I'm very curious to see what sort of reaction this album production, which was realized with the indispensable help of a few talented colleagues from the Munich music scene, might elicit."

"The recordings differ stylistically from most of the stuff I worked on as a hired hand - probably because I enjoy playing acoustic instruments and writing pieces which involve storytelling.”

The first cut here is the tambourine-inspired "Aerodrome" and that's backed by both the upbeat, foot tapper' "A Very Bad Girl" and then the laid back approach to love, "Baker's Dozen". Containing one of the best pieces of advice I think I have ever heard, "Don't look back at bridges burned. Let the rivers flow", that's followed by the Tom Pettyesque "Chances Passing", the upbeat Deliverance guitar twanging of "Dance for Me", the slow poke "Halfremembered Summer", and then the gentle pop bounce of "Honest Jim".

The storytelling of "Highway Code" is a delight, and makes you think that there are some personal Palmer-James growing up memories embedded here along the way. Next is "Doing Time" which is followed by the easy-flow of the piano-driven"Guano Blues" and the beautiful "Saving You from Drowning". The album then comes to a close with both the most upbeat track on the album "So We Meet Again", and then rounds out with the title track ballad, "Takeaway".

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Title - 'No Spare Planet'
Artist - Esquire III

In case you were wondering, Esquire is a London based rock band formed by Nikki Squire, the ex-wife of Chris Squire from Yes, and debuted on the Geffen label. The band then followed up with a second album in 1997 called Coming Home and this brand new album, No Spare Planet finally completes the Esquire trilogy.

The band (and, let's be honest, that's a rather brilliant name for a band thereafter from the ex Squire!) has championed a unique and sophisticated sound and they straddled traditional music boundaries and essentially unleashed an innovative style of progressive rock that was varied, accessible and modern.

An Esquire album is an event, a rare occasion when fans receive new music and this, Esquire III comes two decades after the last album and brings the band right up to date.

Having now listened to both the first two albums, you can tell from the lyrics that Squire was definitely soul-searching, as she is here again on the end-of-trilogy album No Spare Planet. From what I can garner through the years, she wanted to write and sing her own songs, but didn't, at the time, know how that could happen. She needed other players to work with, but with all the people she knew already more than established, that meant their work schedules were booked.

Listening to this third album, it seems Squire is more happier in her own skin, not replying on others that might have been able to help her, should their schedules open up. The first track is the transcendent "Ministry of Life" and that's backed by the more pop-like "She Said", the Annie Lennoxesque "Human Rhythm", the smooth vibe of "Tonight" and the gentle Peter Gabrielesque "Friends & Enemies".

In truth, listening to this new album there is still something magical and mysterious about Esquire. However, given that this third studio album is a collection of the last songs that Squire wrote with her long term collaborator, co-writer, bass player and best friend Nigel McLaren (who sadly passed away on Sunday 7th June 2015), the spiritual undercurrent might just be what is propelling it also.

The soaring "It's Over" is next, and that's backed by the eclectic "Where Is the Love", before the album wraps up with the beautiful "Stay Low", and then finally the stunning, and best track on the album, "Heaven Blessed".

In conclusion, No Spare Planet is just as good as you had hoped it would be. Combining a unique and sophisticated sound, straddling traditional music boundaries and essentially unleashing an innovative style of modern day prog rock, Esquire are as good today as your memory deems to remind you back when they released their self-titled album in 1987.

Title - 'Legacy Live' [2CD]
Artist - The Outlaws

For those not in the know, The Outlaws are a Southern rock/country rock band best known for their 1975 hit "There Goes Another Love Song", as well as the song "Green Grass and High Tides", from the same album, plus their 1980 cover of the Stan Jones classic "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky".

For more than 40 years, the southern rock band has brought out solid, reliable music, celebrated triumphs, endured tragedies and survived legal nightmares to remain one of the most beloved bands within their genre. And now this band of six brothers come together to bring us Legacy Live, a brand-new live 2CD that was released this past November 11th, 2016 on Steamhammer/SPV.

Along with founding members Paul and Yoho, the band features now several of Southern Rock's most respected veterans. Lead guitarist and longtime Outlaw Chris Anderson is well known for his collaborations with artists that include Dickey Betts, Lucinda Williams, Hank Williams Jr., and Skynyrd. Co lead guitarist Steve Grisham who joined the band in mid 2013 following the medical leave of guitarist Billy Crain is a former member of the Soldiers of Fortune era Outlaws, a noted songwriter whose tracks include The Henry Paul Band's Top 40 hit Keepin Our Love Alive, and a co founder of the Southern Rock all stars, Brothers of the Southland.

Keyboardist/vocalist Dave Robbins is a co founding member of Blackhawk and has written hit songs for artists that include Restless Heart, Kenny Rogers and Eric Clapton. Bassist/vocalist Randy Threet has performed with Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood and Blackhawk, and is familiar to TV audiences from USA Network's Nashville Star.

Disc: 1 - 1. There Goes Another Love Song 2. Hurry Sundown 3. Hidin Out In Tennessee 4. Freeborn Ma 5. Born To Be Bad 6. Song In The Breeze 7. Girl From Ohio 8. Holiday 9. Gunsmoke 10. Grey Ghost

Disc: 2 - 1. South Carolina 2. So Long 3. Prisoner 4. Cold Harbor 5. Trail Of Tears 6. It's About Pride 7. Waterhole 8. Knoxville Girl 9. Green Grass & High Tides Forever 10. Ghost Riders

In my humble opinion, The Outlaws had some of the best harmonies ever displayed by a rock and roll band. And their guitar playing was second to none. Hughie Thomasson and Billy Jones could easily compete with the Allmans, Skynyrd and any other Guitar tandem. The song "Green Grass and High Tides" is one of the greatest songs ever, and both "Hurry Sundown" and "Ghost Riders" come a close second.

Thus, this double album of all their hits live is as good as it gets within the genre with these folk, of that have no doubt. The Outlaws brought forth their "Guitar Army" into the limelight with many famous cuts featuring some of the most amazingly blistering fast lead guitar solos ever recorded. Sure they may not be as "heated" a-fret nowadays, but the song remains the same, if y'all know what I mean.

Title - 'Standing Right Here: The Anthology'
Artist - Melba Moore

As we are most assurdly all aware at this juncture of the music scene, Melba Moore (born Beatrice Melba Hill) is an American singer, actress and entertainer. Moore, the daughter of saxophonist Teddy Hill and R&B singer Bonnie Davis, was always someone I had a lot of time for when it came to her brand of music. Topping that list was always me gal, Donna Summer, but Melba came in just behind her, that's for sure.

In 1975 Moore signed with Buddah Records and released the critically successful R&B album, Peach Melba, which included the minor hit, "I Am His Lady". The following year she scored her first significant hit with the Van McCoy-penned "This Is It", which reached the Billboard Hot 100, the top-20 position on the R&B chart, and top-10 in the UK, becoming her biggest success in that country. 'This is It' also became the number 1 disco track in the UK for that year.

In 1976 she scored her third Grammy nomination with the R&B ballad "Lean on Me", which had been recorded originally by Vivian Reed and later by Moore's idol Aretha Franklin who recorded the song as a B-side to her 1971 hit "Spanish Harlem". The song is most notable for Moore's extended long note at the end. In 1983 she re-recorded the song as a tribute to McCoy, who had died four years earlier.

Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Moore struggled to match the success of "This Is It" with minor R&B/dance hits, gaining another hit with 1979's "You Stepped Into My Life", which was released on Epic Records and hit the top 20 on the R&B charts.

This brand new 2CD release from SoulMusic Records aka Cherry Red Records (UK) 'Standing Right Here: The Anthology, The Buddah & Epic Years encompasses rather perfectly both those noted record label eras, barely leaving anything out. Indeed, the first of the two discs draws from Melba’s four Buddah albums, including her work with producers Van McCoy and Eugene McDaniels.

Disc 1: Lean On Me, The Buddah Years (1975-1977) - 1. I Am His Lady 2. If I Lose 3. Must Be Dues 4. Natural Part of Everything 5. This Is It (US 12"ť Single) 6. Stay Awhile 7. Lean on Me 8. One Less Morning 9. Good Love Makes Everything Alright (US 12"ť Single) 10. The Way You Make Me Feel 11. So Many Mountains 12. The Long and Winding Road 13. Ain't No Love Lost 14. The Greatest Feeling 15. My Sensitive, Passionate Man 16. Standing Right Here 17. Living Free 18. I Don't Know No One Else to Turn to 19. Just Another Link

The second disc covers the Epic Records years and as it turns out, is much more of a collectors item. Chock full of US 12" Single Mixes and UK Special Disco Remixes and such, the disc is a pure joy to behold musically. Indeed, this second CD focuses on tracks from her three Epic albums, produced by the Philly team of McFadden & Whitehead and Pete Bellotte amongst others.

Disc 2: You Stepped Into My Life, The Epic Years (1978-1980) - 1. You Stepped Into My Life 2. There's No Other Like You 3. Pick Me Up, I'll Dance (US 12" Mix) 4. Where Did You Ever Go 5. Miss Thing (US 12Â" Single) 6. Need Love 7. Night People (US 12" Single) 8. Hot and Tasty 9. Burn (UK Special Disco Remix) 10. Everything's So Good About You (US 12"ť Single) 11. Next to You 12. Rest Inside My Love 13. Something on Your Mind 14. You Stepped Into My Life (US Special Disco Version)

This stellar quality CD package – which includes superb mastering by Nick Robbins and notes with renowned UK writer Charles Waring - also features extensive quotes from Melba herself specifically for this anthology.

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Title - 'Thrust ' / 'Man-Child' / 'Secrets'
Artist - Herbie Hancock

Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock, more better known as simply Herbie Hancock is a highly regarded American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer and actor. Starting his career with Donald Byrd, he shortly thereafter joined the Miles Davis Quintet where Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound.

He was also one of the first jazz musicians to embrace synthesizers and funk music. Hancock's music is often melodic and accessible; he has had many songs "cross over" and achieved success among pop audiences.

To date, Hancock's best-known compositions include "Cantaloupe Island", "Watermelon Man" (later performed by dozens of musicians, including bandleader Mongo Santamaría), "Maiden Voyage", "Chameleon", and the singles "I Thought It Was You" and pop edgy "Rockit". His 2007 tribute album River: The Joni Letters won the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album ever to win the award, after Getz/Gilberto in 1965.

So, as you can tell, Herbie Hancock has always been at the cutting edge of popular music and so having already released in a previous 2CD set this year both his albums Sunlight (1977) and Feets Don’t Fail Me Now (1979), Robinsongs has once again rounded up more of his best into yet another 2CD package - but this time they've gone one better and made it a threesome!

Included in this brand new package are three of Herbie Hancock’s greatest Jazz Funk albums to date: Thrust (1974), Manchild (1975) and Secrets (1976). Released via Cherry Red Records (UK) this past November 18th, 2016, combining these three albums in one complete package, has again allowed all fans of both jazz and Hancock himself to invest their time in these two CDs worth of some of his best work quite like never before.

But, and here's the thing for me, they have strangely decided to spread Man-Child out over both the discs! So you get the first two thirds of the album on CD1, the latter third beginning CD2 before Secrets kicks in. It's all very weird to me and, in truth, I have never seen anything like this happen before. Although I'm sure it has, but not on my watch!

Anyway, and regardless, this digitally remastered 2CD set begins with Thrust. Released in 1974 it was the follow up to the platinum selling album Headhunters and reached #13 on the Billboard album chart; exactly the same chart position as Headhunters. The album featured only four tracks, but this brand new Robinsongs' version gives you the single edits of the four tracks as bonus tracks.

This jazz-funk creation was Hancock's thirteenth album overall and as much as it may well only have four tracks, had a running time of over 40 minutes regardless. It begins with the near-11 minute long "Palm Grease" (my favorite of the quartet), runs into "Actual Proof", dives in and through "Butterfly", before surfacing with "Spank-a-Lee". Interestingly enough, "Actual Proof" was originally written for the film The Spook Who Sat By the Door.

Manchild (1975) is probably Herbie's funkiest album and features the single "Hang Up Your Hang Ups" which featured great guitar licks by Wah Wah Watson. The album also featured Louis Johnson (Brothers Johnson), Stevie Wonder and Harvey Mason to name but a few. Again the album fared really well making #21 on the Top 200 albums chart. This reissue includes the 7" versions of "Hang Up Your Hang Ups" and "Sun Touch" as bonus tracks.

Herbie's seventeenth studio album, it most definitely represents his further departure from the "spacey, higher atmosphere jazz," as he referred to it, of his earlier career. Indeed, Hancock uses more funk based rhythms around the hi-hat, and snare drum. The tracks are characterized by short, repeated riffs by both the rhythm section, horns accompaniment, and bass lines.

It also had less improvisation from the whole band and more concentrated grooves with brief solos from the horns and Hancock himself on synthesizer and Fender Rhodes piano on top of the repeated riffs. Interestingly enough, this album features the addition of electric guitar to his new sound, which he started only five years prior to this album with Fat Albert Rotunda.

Secrets (1976) kicks off with the jazz funk classic "Doin' It" which featured both Wah Wah Watson and Ray Parker Jr on guitar, it doesn't get funkier than that. And once again there are the single edits of "Doin' It" and "People Music" included as bonus tracks.

The album clearly followed from its predecessor Man-Child. As ever, Paul Jackson's basslines were critical, and the other regular member Bennie Maupin continued to provide most of the solos alongside Hancock. Man-Child had seen the addition of electric guitar to Hancock's sound, and Secrets saw the guitar's place in the arrangements rise to crucial importance throughout.

Although summery and mellow, the album was far from lounge music, with some extremely abstract and intense sections, particular in the latter half; it is also entirely instrumental beside the "Jus' keep on doin' it" chants of the opening track. Subsequent Hancock albums saw the addition of more vocoded lead vocals and disco influences.

This brand new Thrust / Man-Child / Secrets 2CD package includes liner notes from MOJO’s Lois Wilson, and aside from that weird-ass splitting of the Man-Child album over the two CDs, is as complete a serving of these three albums there has ever been (I'd dare to say).

Disc: 1 - 1. Palm Grease 2. Actual Proof 3. Butterfly 4. Spank-A-Lee 5. Palm Grease (7" Single Version) 6. Actual Proof (7" Single Version) 7. Butterfly (7" Single Version) 8. Spank-A-Lee (7" Single Version) 9. Hang Up Your Hang Ups (7" Single Version) 10. Sun Touch (7" Single Version) 11. Man-Child 12. Hang Up Your Hang Ups 13. Sun Touch 14. The Traitor

Disc: 2 - 1. Bubbles 2. Steppin' in It 3. Heartbeat 4. Doin' It 5. People Music 6. Cantelope Island 7. Spider 8. Gentle Thoughts 9. Swamp Rat 10. Sansho Shima 11. Doin' It (7" Single Version) 12. People Music (7" Single Version)

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Title - 'Orange Sunshine' - Music from the Motion Picture
Artist - Matt Costa

'Orange Sunshine' was one of the most anticipated films at the SXSW festival this year. The film is the never-before-told story of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love - a spiritual group of surfers and hippies in California, which became the largest supplier of LSD during the 60s and 70s.

Indeed, furthermore, 'Orange Sunshine' is a true story, and now a documentary from Orange County about how a little art gallery and spiritual commune in Laguna Beach ran by friends became the biggest drug distribution network in the world!

The stunning, laid back soundtrack features music in the style of the era, composed by singer-songwriter Matt Costa. Costa, for those not in the know, is a singer-songwriter from Huntington Beach, California. He has released seven self-recorded EPs, and five full-length CDs, to date, the last of which was his EP Anchor & the Albatross in 2016.

Costa, of Portuguese descent, has crafted a decidedly perfect 70's musical accompaniment to the film. One minute we feel the spirit of the Doors, the next some early Rolling Stones, but when it comes to the score moments, well, set alone, they either jingle-jangle or methodically crawl their way through a winding, eclectic musical undercurrent here for the lush 'Orange Sunshine'.

1. Brotherhood Theme 2. Orange Take Over 3. Oran Jazz Syd 4. Born In My Mind 5. Call My Name 6. Mike and Carol 7. Feds Follow 8. Soul Full of Orange 9. Orange Guru 10. Elucidation 11. The Fuzz 12. Modjeska 13. Twelve Oranges 14. Sit With Timothy 15. Smug Smugglers 16. Melt Orange 17. A Separate Peace

A Doors moment can definitely be heard in tracks such as "Oran Jazz Syd", the Stones in "Soul Full Of Orange", even the Mamas & Papas in "Born In My Mind", and then you get something as acoustic guitar lush as "Mike And Carol" to weave it all together. Trippy hippy even comes to the fore on "Orange Guru", but one of my own personal favorites has to be the jazz fusion melodies on the simply brilliant "The Fuzz".

Title - 'Trolling for Dreams'
Artist - John McCutcheon

For those not in the know, John McCutcheon is an American folk music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has produced 38 albums since the 1970s. 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.

McCutcheon's music has, since the 1990s, increasingly evolved into heartland rock-influenced ballads, while he still occasionally performs purer folk music, particularly when playing the dulcimer. Indeed, McCutcheon is one of those rare folk musician/song writers who can actually make a living from folk music.

His brand of peaceful, yet invigorating music that can be enjoyed as background music or for concentrated listening is always welcomed, which means when he releases this brand new album in early February, 2017, everyone in love with the genre will race to buy it.

Entitled Trolling for Dreams, is a tour-de-force of his writing abilities. Complete with an incredible 14 new songs, McCutcheon sings of love, loss, aging, the passing of his father, songwriting, and even has time to lay down a tribute to storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham ("She Is").

1. Gone 2. Y’all Means All 3. The Dance 4. Sharecropper’s Song 5. Between Good and Gone 6. The Reason I’m Here 7. She Is 8. Three Chords and the Truth 9. The Bible 10. New Man Now 11. Waltz ‘Round the Kitchen 12. This Is Not a Song 13. This Ain’t Me 14. Longing

Together with a band that backs him perfectly at every musical turn, Trolling for Dreams showcases a musician still writing, still playing, still singing at the highest of levels. We begin with the beautiful, storied tale of "Gone", which bleeds gently into the gentle "Y'all Means All", a lyrically tale about his youth, about family. Another favorite of mine is "Between Good and Gone", a story of traveling on the hard roads of life, whilst the slight mid-tempo beat to "The Reason I'm Here" is another stand out.

Indeed, these mentioned along with the others on this brand new album are some of the most thought provoking songs of his career, if I might stick my neck out and say. So if you love folk music, and you love McCutcheon, then you have no excuse not to have this fine album in your record collections come February 3rd, 2017!

'Trolling for Dreams' CD Purchase Link

John McCutcheon @ Twitter!

Title - 'Devil On An Indian'
Artist - The Raptor Trail

The Raptor Trail have been slowly plotting their course over the last 25 plus years. Founding members John Meyer and Matthew Mayes had been kicking around the idea of recording something together for decades. Finally in 2014, the planets aligned and the idea actually transcended into a studio recording project which later came to be called The Raptor Trail.

"The Raptor Trail" was actually the first song that Meyer and Mayes wrote together for the project, and it snowballed from there, with “Gravity x Ten” following, and then ten more songs over the course of the next year.

Their self titled album which was released in May 2015 received a warm reception from diehard Jupiter Coyote fans, as well as many publications from the Progressive rock side of the scale. Then in 2016 they released their sophomore album, New World, which found the band stretching it's musical wings with particular attention to vocal harmonies and acoustic based themes.

Now, and veritably hot on the heels of that critically-acclaimed second album, melodic prog trio The Raptor Trail have just released their brand new third album, Devil On An Indian.

The Raptor Trail comprises of: Gene H. Bass - Drums, Percussion; Matthew B. Mayes - Vocals, Guijo, Acoustic Guitars, Acoustic Banjo; and John M. Meyer - Lead, Slide, Fretless & Acoustic Guitars, G-Strings, Bass, Weird Noises, Background Vocals, and all come together quite like never before on this massively constructed concept album.

You see, Devil On An Indian deals with the internal spiritual warfare that stems from a young man coming to grips with his Native American Indian heritage after being raised in 21st century white Christian morality. A near life ending motorcycle accident in the desert continues a mystical, poetic, and spiritual journey of self awareness and understanding, concluding that the heart of man is inherently evil.

Set to 10 songs in three movements that seamlessly segue from one song to another, ending with the apocalyptic demise of the world (!), we ease in with the storytelling of "Ten Bears" before "How the West Was Won" and the guitar fest of "Quaker Pets" come forth.

The thought provoking, evocative slap hands-on-drums "Dream Catcher" is easily one of my own personal favorites here, and that's backed by the beautiful "Wolf Medicine", the soaring "Doorstep", and both the interestingly titled "Froth Squelch" and distant memories of "Without a Trace". This terrific album then wraps up with a powerful duo in both "The Vanishing Point" and then the full tilt ride of "Red Giant".

Title - 'Dĺrskapens Monotoni'
Artist - Kaipa Da Capo

Right then, and for those not in the know (and definitely count me in that group), in 2014, original KAIPA members Roine STOLT, Ingemar Bergman (drums) and Tomas ERIKSSON (Bass) re-grouped under the name KAIPA DA CAPO to play the old music from the first three albums as well as brand new music.

To complete the team they called Mikael STOLT (vocals, guitar), brother of Roine, and Max LORENTZ (keyboards). After a series of concerts in 2015 the group started the recording of a new album in June 2016, and the fruits from that recording session were released on September 30th, 2016 as Dĺrskapens Monotoni (Folly Monotony, in a literal translation, if that helps any).

The new album is comprised of seven song all performed in the traditional KAIPA sound with songs sung in Swedish. These 70's vintage progsters (as they like to be called) combine swirling symphonic soundscapes together with folk fusion moments, laying them all down on a bed of epic cinematic movements.

So, for everyone that knows of KAIPA, and have always been in love with that "classic KAIPA sound", you're most definitely in business here. For, and having now listened to some of their older stuff, I can say that this new album contains versions of their old musical selves along with new melodic twists that will please you greatly. Produced by Roine himself Dĺrskapens Monotoni, and released under his own label Foxtrot Records, the highly imaginative art work is from Rick Jacobi.

Kaipa Da Capo @ Facebook!

Kaipa Da Capo @ Twitter!

Title - 'BandZilla Rises!!!'
Artist - Richard Niles' BandZilla

For those not in the know, but soon will be after reading this review, acclaimed jazz composer/arranger Richard Niles used his background in jazz and pop to create BandZilla , a modern big band at the cutting edge of contemporary technology in 1987. Niles formed the band after performing on Grace Jones' Slave To The Rhythm and Swing Out Sister's Breakout albums.

Indeed, they soon became the featured house band on the British Channel 4 series “Don’t Miss Wax”, a vehicle for popular American comedienne Ruby Wax. The band performed and recorded with many contemporary stars including Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Swing Out Sister, Meat Loaf, Pee Wee Herman and Denice Williams.

Their only studio album (at the time) BandZilla - Blue Movies (1989) featured the cream of London’s young jazz and studio players including trumpeters Guy Barker and John Thirkell, R&B singer Clive Griffin and keyboard master Peter John Vetesse.

But now evolution has become them, and come the moment, come the band, for Richard Niles BandZilla have just released (November 18th, 2016) a brand new album, aptly entitled BandZilla Rises!!!. This 20+ piece jazz-fusion orchestra playing furious funk, sleazy soul, punk jazz and heartfelt ballads have got back together, for the most part, and brought their fans a wonderful 14 track jog back down memory lane of what they can do.

From the moment the spoken word intro to the title track "BandZilla Rises!!!" bleeds seamlessly into "Live As One", you know you're in for a funky jazz experience of a lifetime. Knowing that Niles, who isn't known as a musician, also gets to play guitar on the album just adds some fun spice to the mix, in my opinion. He's invested, and so must we be. Better known as a songwriter, these lyrics are some of his best, again in my humble opinion, and range from the comic-political (Randy Brecker singing “You Can’t Get There From Here”) to involved story songs such as “Tip For A Toreador” and the sultry, smoky basement jazz club sway of “The Alligator From West 15th.”

Produced by Niles and trumpet star John Thirkell (Uptown Funk) features jazz icon Randy Brecker, popstar Leo Sayer, Daisy Chute (All Angels), vocal virtuoso Kim Chandler, Brazilian singer Clarice Assad, Polish chanteuse Julia Zuzanna, soul man Lamont Dozier Jr. and some of the greatest players on earth, BandZilla Rises!!! is one of the most adventurous-sounding albums that I think I have ever heard - and yet everything works to a tee. Well played, Richard Niles. Well played, Sir.

Title - 'Left Of Center'
Artist - Bob Beland

For those not in the know, Bob Beland is a 64 year-old renowned LA singer/songwriter southpaw who is releasing his new album, his fourth now Left Of Center on his own independent label Wrong Way Works!

Having performed in bands such as Southpaw, Bates Motel, The Fury and more, and having written and recorded original music from 1973 to the present, and having chosen not to remain in the band (Bates Motel) when they were chosen to open for Sparks, he got his first solo record deal in 1980, and so continued his diverse musical career some four decades on.

We kick off with some drums (from the late David Beebe), and then atop a gentle undercurrent of African-influenced back beats (and lyrical answer backs), Beland brings forth "It's Alright With Me, Mr. Bob". An original analog recording from 1983, it's backed with the upbeat, and freeflowing pop bounce of "Off The Handle." The 70's hipsway guitar vibe of "The Lost Highway", for me one of the best tracks on this new album, ensure that you are by now, even just three songs in, highly invested in the album; interested to see where it goes. Possibly an inside joke to his 1993 album Amnesia Lane, regardless, the song is devilishly good.

The guitar flop-bounce of "Some Friends Of Mine" ("Loose change underneath the seat, is always a special kind of treat") quickly turns into a power track. Soaring in all directions, slides incorporated for good measure, even including a fake fade out, it's another highlight that showcases Beland's grounded lyrical sensibilities. That's followed by the hop-skip of "It'll Take Overtime", a track where, for perhaps the first time on the album, Beland's vocals are more naked than before.

The storytelling honky tonk of "Sloppy Joe" (a salute to Leiber & Stoller) is up next and features a backwater appeal to it that's hard to stop yourself from foot-tappin' to midway through, and that's followed by the slow-poke "Ain't Goin' Back To That", and then the thought-provoking observations of "Cold". Complete with harmony vocals from singer/songwriter Dan Navarro, it flows beautifully.

Another highlight is the lovely ballad "Who'll Save The World?", a poignant look at today's society and how we seem to say a lot of things, without actually moving forward, and then the album is rounded out by the short, Kurtzweil piano ballad 'One Bright Burning'.

Finally, within the liner notes, Beland pays special thanks and appreciation to Marty Korth, Dale Mitchell, Willie McEachern, The Legendary Fontenelle DuClaw, Bobby Pickett and Dan Navarro for their time and talents, to Daniel Simon for going the extra mile(s) and to Len Horowitz for the hospitality and entertainment.

'Left Of Center' Digital Download Purchase Link

Title - 'Reloaded'
Artist - Al Atkins

For those not in the know, Al Atkins is a British heavy metal vocalist, best known for his association with a very early incarnation of Judas Priest. Indeed, it was actually a whole other named band that had formed in the West Midlands area in 1969 fronted by Atkins, that bassist Bruno Stapenhill renamed Judas Priest. The band played their first gig on 25 November 1969 and disbanded in April of 1970. The band was subsequently reinvented, but without Atkins and company.

As of 2012, Atkins has fronted the band Atkins/May Project, which also features guitarist Paul May. Atkins has also contributed session vocals for the heavy metal opera project, Lyraka and in 2013, and now Atkins brings forth a brand new solo album entitled Reloaded. A 10 track collection of his favorite songs written between his days in Judas Priest to the Holy Rage days (2010), Reloaded is coming out via Gonzo Multimedia.

Featuring special guest appearances by Ian Hill of Judas Priest (who actually performed on the original recordings of some of these classics), John McCoy (ex-Gillan), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) - who duets with Al on "Victim Of Changes" - a solo from Roy "Z" Ramirez of Halford, Japanese guitarist Tsuyoshi Ikedo from Unveil Raze, Australia's Stu "Hammer" Marshall of Death Dealer, Chris Johnson from Holy Rage, Rob Allen on drums, and longtime friend and collaborator, guitarist and producer of many of Al's albums, Paul May.

1. Winter
2. Mind Conception
3. A Void To Avoid
4. Coming Thick And Fast
5. Heavy Thoughts
6. Never Satisfied
7. Money Talks
8. Cradle To The Grave
9. Love At War
10. Victim Of Changes
11. Mind Conception (Demo Extract) [Bonus Track]

Phew! So, with all these tracks having appeared in various forms on many albums over the past forty years, what Reloaded does is bring to the fore the Al Atkins of today to re-embody the spirit that they had originally been created with. To reinvigorate them. To re-birth them for a whole new generation.

As for the album itself musically, every song is what you would expect to hear from Atkins. He still has his vocals, he still has that Judas Priest lyrical and musical vibe about him, and Tsuyoshi Ikedo's guitar work is simply stunning. Rob Allen's drumming it tight throughout, and I also loved the solo from Roy "Z" Ramirez on the last track "Victims Of Changes".

In fact, Reloaded also features a bonus track that is an excerpt of a guitar solo from the very first Judas Priest demo, "Mind Conception" featuring Hill on bass and K.K. Downing on guitar. Now that's a gem of a never-heard treat for all Judas Priest fanatics if ever I heard one!

Also, and for a limited time only, Aktins has teamed up with to offer his fans some very special Reloaded packages. Aside from just ordering a digital download of the album upon its release, you can order signed Reloaded CDs, tshirts, hoodies, signed posters, and even a hand-written lyric sheet from Atkins!

Pledge Music Campaign - 'Reloaded' Purchase Link

Title - 'The Roadmap In Your Head'
Artist - Spirits Burning & Clearlight

For those not in the know, and taking them one at a time, Spirits Burning is a musical collective that has released a combination of ambient, jazz and full-on space rock with input from many of the genre's luminaries; most notably Gong's Daevid Allen (who sadly passed away in 2015) and members of Hawkwind.

Overseen by American composer/producer Don Falcone, both he and Cyrille "Clearlight" Verdeaux of Clearlight have collaborated in Spirits Burning (under the name Spirits Burning & Clearlight). Which leads me perfectly into Clearlight, an instrumental stoner rock band from New Orleans, Louisiana. They are also known as The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight due to other bands using the same original name.

The Roadmap In Your Head is the 13th studio album from the Spirits Burning space rock collective, and the second to feature the aforementioned keyboardist Cyrille "Clearlight" Verdeaux. Roadmap also has a very strong Gong presence, as it includes performances by four musicians from Gong's Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy (Daevid Allen, Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett, Didier Malherbe), and four members of the current Gong (Ian East, Fabio Golfetti, Dave Sturt, Kavus Torabi).

The Roadmap In Your Head is a 14 step musical journey that from start to finish ensues once you undertake its musical journey, you will never come out the other side quite feeling the same as when you went in. Released this past November 4th, 2016 on Gonzo Multimedia, the album, as you would indeed fully expect, is a labyrinth of ambient, jazz and full-on space-rock with input from many of the genre's luminaries.

1. The Roadmap In Your Head (3:56)
2. Sun Sculptor & The Electrobilities (3:50)
3. The Birth Of Belief (8:38)
4. Coffee For Coltrane (6:58)
5. Isolation In 10 80 (2:55)
6. Mrs. Noonness (4:12)
7. The Old College Sky Is Where We Left It (1:28)
8. Fuel For The Gods (13:05)
9. Early Evening Rain (3:31)
10. Black Squirrel At The Root Of The Staircase (7:34)
11. Outsiders Parachute In (5:48)
12. Déjŕ Vu (2:25)
13. La Rue Inconnue (4:48)
14. Roadmaps (The Other Way) (5:59)

This truly wonderful, expertly created, beautifully sculptured new album begins with a sense of the Middle East as we open upon the title track of the album. It's not much later that we're knee deep into the second longest track, "The Birth Of Belief", a work of art that wafts you along on an electric jazz journey. Guitar solos are aplenty here also, especially within both "Coffee For Coltrane" and "Mrs. Noonness", but for me, personally, it's the expertly crafted depths of the 13 minute long "Fuel For The Gods" that is the real cherry on the fusion cake here.

Tracks like "Isolation In 10 80", "The Old College Sky Is Where We Left It" and "Déjŕ Vu" are quick instrumental stepping stones to the meatier recordings, made to sooth your soul as you pass through the album. The album comes to a close with the nearly 8 minutes long jazz fusion beauty "Black Squirrel At The Root Of The Staircase", the intuitive "La Rue Inconnue", and closes with "Roadmaps (The Other Way)"; a song written and sung by the late Gong legend, Daevid Allen.

Here on Roadmap, putting the sonic avenues together there are no less that thirty-five amazing musicians and that's inclusive of not only the beloved members of the Gong global family, but some very special newbies also. Paul Booth (Steve Winwood), Theo Travis (David Gilmour), Judy Dyble, and Jonathan Segel from Camper Van Beethoven. Returning are Hawkwind family members Steve Bemand, Nik Turner, and Bridget Wishart, plus Albert Bouchard (BÖC).

Title - 'Oxygčne 3'
Artist - Jean-Michel Jarre

For those not in the know, Jean-Michel Jarre is a French composer, performer, and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient, and new-age genres, and known as an organizer of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.

His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygčne. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies. Oxygčne was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979 Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times.

More albums were to follow (inclusive of Oxygčne 7–13 - otherwise known as Oxygčne 2 - in 1997), but his concert that same year served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events, and he is now perhaps as well known as a performer as he is as a musician.

And now, the pioneer in his field has just released the finale piece to his trilogy for its 40th anniversary, Oxygčne 3. The new album is released as a CD, an LP on 180g vinyl, or as a Digital version. But wait, there's more, for the Oxygčne Trilogy is also available to buy as a 3CD digipack or a Digital version also. And yes, you've guessed it, also being released is an Oxygčne Trilogy Box-Set, comprising of the 3CD, a 3LP Vinyl and a Coffee Table Book!

For my money, Jean Michel Jarre pulled of an incredible move when he released Oxygčne in 1976. He made the world of electronic music safe for composers. While a small, select few folk were making music with the earlier synthesizers of the day, most of them either concentrated on making novel reinterpretations of classical, cold, mechanical drones, or music that was intentionally robotic (ala Kraftwerk).

Now, whilst I love just about all of the aforementioned artists, Oxygčne was the first album that made me think of synthesizers as instruments as opposed to toys. Indeed, Oxygčne was created on an 8 track tape recorder with very few instruments, so gave Jarre no other choice than being a musical minimalist. Here on Oxygčne 3 he has notably tried to keep this minimalist approach going with some piqued sonic moments built around one or two elements only; ala the first volume.

Jarre has done this here in the third volume by making the songs play out like a classical composition. Each movement has distinct and original melodies and each sounds like it could hold its own as a song unto itself. The themes also sound like they could be as organic and enveloping as the album title suggests; this was earthy music long before the term "new age" got slapped on everything that was vaguely atmospheric and meditative.

Also, a couple of the movements are mostly brooding and synth heavy, with the occasional computerized rhythm - a definite and distinct throwback to his earlier days working on the original (where there, within the liner notes, he referred to the sound as a "Rhythmin' computer".

As for the wickedly brilliant, and poignant art work for Oxygčne 3, once more Jarre re-visits Michel Granger’s original work, simply shifting from another angle; which was exactly aligned with the approach he obviously had to create this new chapter in his music. It's been said that he kindly asked Michel Granger’s permission to perform a 3D model of his creation in order to change the angle of the visual, which he amicably accepted, of course.

In closing, Oxygčne 3 is a wonderment of synth notes combined with delicate piano lines that creep willingly between the cracks of his work. Warm, sensual at times undertones adorn his work, providing both flashback and forward-thinking moments to occur en masse. Indeed, all his known soundscapes still remain here after 40 years, most as anthemic as ever, but now they have been rewired for today's listener.

'Oxygene 3' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Karyn White: Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Karyn White

For those not in the know, the lovely Karyn White is an American singer who was popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Indeed, the woman whose hits always seemed to accompany my romantic exploits around that time, is still best known today for her R&B singles; "Superwoman" (1989), "Secret Rendezvous" (1989), "The Way You Love Me" (1988), and the Billboard Hot 100 number one single "Romantic" (1991).

White's self-titled debut album Karyn White was released in 1988. It was produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface and achieved platinum status. From that album came the hit singles "The Way You Love Me", "Secret Rendezvous" (#6 in the U.S.), "Superwoman" and "Love Saw It" a duet with Babyface. White was also nominated in the Best R&B/Urban Contemporary New Artist category for the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards along with being nominated for two Grammy Awards. In actual fact, White became the first female artist to have their first three solo releases hit #1 on the R&B charts.

This brand new Karyn White: Deluxe Edition 2CD, just released via BBR (Big Break Records) through Cherry Red Records marks the 30th anniversary of White’s first hit and features bonus songs and remixes galore. And I mean GALORE, for not only is the original album of nine (9) tracks on the first disc, but seven more songs also, with another 12 on the second disc. So, if you're counting along at home, that means you get an incredible 19 bonus tracks (which include some very rare promotional remixes).

Disc: 1: 1. The Way You Love Me 2. Secret Rendezvous 3. Slow Down 4. Superwoman 5. Family Man 6. Love Saw It (Duet with Babyface) 7. Don't Mess with Me 8. Tell Me Tomorrow 9. One Wish 10. Love on the Line 11. Language of Love 12. Facts of Love - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White 13. True Confessions - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White 14. Back in Love - Jeff Lorber Featuring Michael Jeffries & Karyn White 15. Not Thru Being with You - Michael Jeffries with Karyn White 16. The Way You Love Me (Hype Mix)

I have to admit that re-listening to this album is like flashing back to a warm, fuzzy era of my life that I am so sorry to have left behind. Songs have a way to do that, I understand, but a whole album? I mean, there just isn't a "filler" out of the nine original album tracks. Not one. The opening cut is the New Jack Swing of her first single, "The Way You Love Me", and that's backed by the mid-tempo, and yet upbeat ballad "Secret Rendezvous."

Another track in the same vein, although less peppy is "Slow Down" and that's followed by her second single, the even slower, smooth and sultry ballad, "Superwoman". The R&B funk of "Family Man" is next (and no, it's not the Hall & Oates pop track), and that's backed by the beautiful, poetic third single "Love Saw It" With six out of the nine tracks written by Babyface, L.A. Reid, and Daryl Simmons, the original album comes to a close with the Janet Jacksonesque "Don't Mess With Me", the tender ballad "Tell Me Tomorrow", and then the mid-tempo R&B "One Wish".

This album came out and radio went wild for it, but let's not forget that as much as a lot of the grunt work was done by both L.A. Reid and Babyface, it's really Karyn's major hits that helped them Babyface become the successful producer and songwriter he is today. The other tracks included on this Deluxe Edition, some also produced by Jeff Lorber, are just as solid, but those hits, man, those hits!

We kick off the expanded hits parade here on the first disc with the brilliant Janet Jacksonesque duo of "Love On The Line" (which showcases her vocal range as perfectly as any other White song I've ever known) and the funk of "Language Of Love". A trio of Jeff Lorber accompanied tracks are up next, and they begin with the guitar funk vibe of "Facts Of Love" (which is such a solid, so very solid cut), and that's backed by the soul flow of "True Confessions".

"Back In Love" is next, but it's actually a Lorber song that features both Karyn White and Mike Jeffries. The first disc is then rounded out with the BEST song of the expanded tracklisting (on either side, for my liking), the hyper R&B funk of the Jimmy Jam-inspired "Not Thru Being With You", once again featuring Jeffries on co-vocals. The last track is a Hype Mix of "The Way You Love Me" and that allows the first disc to come full circle very nicely.

Disc: 2: 1. Facts of Love (Actuality Mix) - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White 2. True Confessions (The Left Bank Mix) - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White 3. The Way You Love Me (Club Mix) 4. Secret Rendezvous (Extended Remix) 5. Superwoman (Long Version) 6. Not Thru Being with You (The Club Fire Mix) - Michael Jeffries with Karyn White 7. Facts of Love (Passion Mix) - Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White 8. The Way You Love Me (Paul Simpson Remix) 9. Secret Rendezvous (White House Remix) 10. Facts of Love (Fact #1) -Jeff Lorber Featuring Karyn White 11. The Way You Love Me (New York Groove Edit) 12. Secret Rendezvous (Secret Drive Time Radio Edit)

The second disc features those aforementioned rare and promotional remixes and, for the most part, are as deserved a place on this incredible 2CD set as anything that has gone before it. Of course, we get songs that due to their expanded nature, just seemingly go on a wee bit too long, but then that's exactly what you paid your money for when it came to these kinds of 12" Vinyl Singles back then. "Facts of Love (Actuality Mix)" is up first, and is backed nicely by "True Confessions (The Left Bank Mix)".

One of my favorite two 12" recordings here come one after the other, as we next get "The Way You Love Me (Club Mix)" and "Secret Rendezvous (Extended Remix)", and they are backed by "Superwoman (Long Version)", the pulsating "Not Thru Being With You (The Club Fire Mix)" and "Facts of Love (Passion Mix)". With regard "Not Thru Being With You", from what I can recall, if you check out their black and white music video for the song, it is so infectious it will have you up and dancin' before the second chorus comes-a-knockin'!

"The Way You Love Me (Paul Simpson Remix)" and "Secret Rendezvous (White House Remix)" are up next, followed by a really well done "Facts of Love (Fact #1)", and a smooth "The Way You Love Me (New York Groove Edit)". The second disc is then rounded out by "Secret Rendezvous (Secret Drive Time Radio Edit)" and as that song fades out, if you're a fan like me, you'll simply go back to the first disc (the better of the two, for me) and start the listening process all over again!

This Karyn White: Deluxe Edition 2CD color booklet also includes exclusive interviews with Karyn White, Daryl Simmons and Jeff Lorber, and is presented in a super jewel case complete with a 20-page booklet and detailed liner notes.

'Karyn White: Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Black Butterfly: The Essential Niecy'
Artist - Deniece Williams

For those not in the know, the uber talented Deniece Williams is an American singer–songwriter and record producer. Best known for hits such as "Free" (1976), "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" (1978), "Silly" (1981), "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" (1982), "Let's Hear It for the Boy" (1984), and for her duets with Johnny Mathis, the lady known simply as Niecy now has her complete career retrospective Black Butterfly album released as a wonderful 40th Anniversary 2CD Collection.

This wondrous, and first ever 2CD complete career retrospective of Deniece Williams is chock full of all her chart hit singles from 1976-1989, and is just the most perfect introduction or indeed late night flashback to one of the genre's most beloved singers.

Disc: 1: 1. Free 2. Baby Baby My Love's All for You (Single Version) 3. What Two Can Do 4. I Found Love 5. It's Gonna Take a Miracle 6. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late (Duet with Johnny Mathis) 7. Waiting By the Hotline 8. It's Your Conscience (Single Version) 9. Waiting (Single Version) 10. Silly 11. If You Don't Believe 12. God Is Amazing 13. You're All I Need to Get By (Duet with Johnny Mathis) 14. That's What Friends Are For 15. The Boy I Left Behind 16. I've Got the Next Dance (12" Version) 17. 'Cause You Love Me Baby 18. When Love Comes Calling

We first get the beautifully-sung (but then again, weren't they all) "Free", which is a great way to hear the crystal clear vocal tones of Niecy. The slight pop bounce of "Baby Baby My Love's All for You (Single Version)" is next, and that's backed by "What Two Can Do", a track that upped the stakes in the music that backed her. This time we get horns, keys and even some contorted funk beats, all which back Neicy's vocals perfectly. The brilliant disco pop of "I Found Love" is next, and is followed by both the smooth R&B of "It's Gonna Take A Miracle" and then the brilliant duet with Johnny Mathis, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late".

Up next is the jagged R&B soul of "Waiting By the Hotline", a track that shows how open Neicy was to trying something a little different with her sound. It actually reached #29 on the R&B chart in 1982 and was well received everywhere it was heard. Then comes the flowing "It's Your Conscience (Single Version)", a song that brings forth Niecy's heavenly soprano perfectly. Under the guidance of producer Thom Bell, she had someone at the helm who always got the best out of her.

Next up is "Waiting (Single Version)", as lush a ballad as you'll ever hear, and that's followed by the soulfulness of "Silly", the stillness of "If You Don't Believe", the uplifting Gospel side of her on "God Is Amazing", and then the glorious, worldwide hit duet with Johnny Mathis, "You're All I Need To Get By". Just look at the cover of that single and see the love for their song beaming directly from their eyes alone. I love that front cover of the 7" Single, I honestly do. Always have done, always will do. Next up is "That's What Friends Are For", a cut that oozes her soul on every word, and wow, just listen to the instrumental run at the end. Wonderful.

The R&B funky horns and delicate keys of "The Boy I Left Behind" is next, and that's followed by an incredible "I've Got the Next Dance (12" Version)" which just pumps up the disco dancefloor amps on this first disc to the max. At over six minutes in length, it's a massive highlight of the entire collection, trust me! The disc then rounds out with both the mid-tempo ballad "Cause You Love Me" and the sped-up dance moves of "When Love Comes Calling".

Disc: 2: 1. Let's Hear It for the Boy (12" Version) 2. Do What You Feel (Single Version) 3. Without Us - Theme from "Family Ties" (Duet with Johnny Mathis) 4. I Can't Wait (Single Version) 5. I'm So Proud 6. Black Butterfly 7. Next Love 8. Never Say Never (12" Version) 9. Wiser and Weaker 10. I Confess (Single Version) 11. All I Need 12. Healing 13. Every Moment (Single Remix) 14. This Is As Good As It Gets 15. You're All That Matters 16. Love Won't Let Me Wait (Duet with Johnny Mathis) 17. Why Can't We Fall in Love

The second disc, which is veritably bursting at the seams with musical greatness, kicks off in FINE style with her massive '80s hits, "Let's Hear It for the Boy (12" Version)" - and, in truth, if ever you wanted to hear the song again, it had to be the 12 Single Version, we all know that - and that's backed by both the poppy "Do What You Feel (Single Version)" and yet another duet with Johnny Mathis, her slow jam for the Theme from 'Family Ties', "Without Us". Then comes the upbeat, Katrina & The Wavesesque "I Can't Wait (Single Version)", which is in turn backed by the slow ballad "I'm So Proud".

The collection album title, "Black Butterfly" is stunning, and showcases Niecy's vocal range, once more, and that's followed by the slow-building-to-funky "Next Love". The gentle pop bounce of "Never Say Never (12" Version)" is next and another of the top quality highlights on this new set, and that's backed by both the electro dance pop of "Wiser and Weaker" and then the saxophone-led "I Confess (Single Version)". The smooth R&B of "All I Need" is backed by a lovely song of faith and worship, "Healing", and that is followed by the static guitar-led pop of "Every Moment (Single Remix)" and then the piano ballad "This Is As Good As It Gets".

This quite insanely exquisite 2CD collection comes to a close with the quietly expansive, beautiful "You're All That Matters" which in turn is followed by both her last duet with Johnny Mathis, "Love Won't Let Me Wait", and then closes with the stunning, simply stunning softy sung ballad "Why Can't We Fall in Love".

This wondrous, and first ever 2CD complete career retrospective of Deniece Williams, which includes all of her chart hit singles from 1976-1989, is newly-remastered with rare single mixes and presented in a deluxe digipak complete with a 24-page booklet and detailed liner notes.

'Black Butterfly: The Essential Niecy' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Let's Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story'
Artist - Archie Bell and the Drells

For those not in the know, the fabulously talented Archie Bell and the Drells was an American R&B vocal group from Houston, Texas, and one of the main acts on Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records.

The band's hits include "Tighten Up", "I Can't Stop Dancing" (both 1968), "There's Gonna Be A Showdown", "Girl You're Too Young" (1969), "Here I Go Again" (also a UK hit in 1972), "Soul City Walk" (1975), "Let's Groove", "Everybody Have A Good Time" (1977), and "Don't Let Love Get You Down" (1976).

Many of their Atlantic hits were produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, including the minor 1969 hit "Here I Go Again" which became such a massive hit on the Northern Soul scene that it prompted a UK reissue which made #11 in 1972, just after the group had parted ways with Atlantic. Continuing with producer Prince Philllip Mitchell, the group signed to Henry Stones Glades Records in 1973 and released a few singles including the hit "Dancing To Your Music" (R&B #11/Pop #61).

Big Break Records (via Cherry Red Records) has just released Let's Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story, the 50th Anniversary Collection and trust me when I say it's a doozy, ladies and gentlemen! Complete with all of the group’s chart hit singles and dance classics from 1967-1979, there are also some 12" Single mixes on here too!

Disc: 1: 1. Tighten Up (Part 1) 2. Dog Eat Dog 3. A Thousand Wonders 4. A Soldier's Prayer, 1967 5. I Can't Stop Dancing 6. Do the Choo Choo 7. Love Will Rain on You 8. (There's Gonna Be a) Showdown 9. Go for What You Know 10. I Love My Baby 11. Just a Little Closer 12. Girl You're Too Young 13. My Balloon's Going Up 14. Here I Go Again 15. A World Without Music 16. Don't Let the Music Slip Away 17. Get It from the Bottom 18. I Wish 19. Wrap It Up 20. Deal with Him 21. I Just Want to Fall in Love 22. Love at First Sight 23. Archie's in Love 24. I Can't Face You Baby 25. Dancing to Your Music 26. Ain't Nothing for a Man in Love 27. You Never Know What's on a Woman's Mind 28. Girls Grow Faster Than Boys

Now, being that there are an INCREDIBLE 44 songs on this 2CD collection, I won't be going into each and every one of them, as usual. But, I will highlight the, well, highlights, in my humble opinion. Such as the first track out the gate, "Tighten Up (Part 1)" which is a drummers haven from the off. Like a jam session coming together, the track is a flashback to an era when coaxing instruments to come and jam, one by one, was seen as a joyous method of establishing the band to their audience.

The next track is another favorite of mine, "Dog Eat Dog", and no, not just because it has the same title as my all-time favorite band, Adam & The Ants. It's a seamless R&B soulful moment of chart pop and flows perfectly, as do both "I Can't Stop Dancing" and "Do the Choo Choo". The foot-tappin' continues ever onward with tracks such as the soul sway of "Girl You're Too Young", "My Balloon's Going Up" and their hit "Here I Go Again".

Other lovely, heartwarming tracks on the first disc include the upbeat, and infectious groove on "Get It From The Bottom", the Hammond organ-inspired "Love at First Sight", the chitty-chatty fun of "Archie's in Love", and both "I Can't Face You Baby" and groovy ("Never had the nerve before, to get up on the floor") "Dancing to Your Music".

Disc: 2: 1. I Could Dance All Night 2. Let's Groove 3. The Soul City Walk 4. Dance Your Troubles Away 5. Nothing Comes Easy 6. Don't Let Love Get You Down 7. Where Will You Go When the Party's Over 8. Everybody Have a Good Time 9. Glad You Could Make It (12" Disco Version) 10. It's Hard Not to Like You 11. I've Been Missing You 12. On the Radio 13. Old People 14. Strategy 15. Show Me How to Dance 16. We Got 'Um Dancin' (12" Disco Version)

The upbeat flow of "I Could Dance All Night" kicks off the second disc of 16 tracks, and in some fine style. The true sound of Philadelphia track is a Soul Train classic, and is backed by the introductory (quite literally) soul sounds of "Let's Groove" and then the groove line under "The Soul City Walk". Another fine song, and one that showcases a softer, more methodical side to the band is "Where Will You Go When the Party's Over', and then the vocals gymnastics of "Everybody Have a Good Time".

The second disc is then brought to a close with tracks such as "Glad You Could Make It (12" Disco Version)", a funky, funky song to extend at the best of times, the gentle balladry flow of "I've Been Missing You", and the funky grooving of "On the Radio". The last two tracks are gems also, with "Show Me How to Dance" ("I've got to dance like I've got ants in my pants") and the 12" Disco Version of "We Got 'Um Dancin'" bringing a close to an outstanding collection from Archie Bell and the Drells to, hopefully, a whole new generation of listeners.

Newly remastered with rare single mixes and presented in a super jewel case complete with a 20-page booklet and detailed liner notes, Let's Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story, the 50th Anniversary Collection is a must for all Soul, Pop, Funk and Disco fans everywhere!

'Let's Groove: Archie Bell & The Drells Story' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Basia

For those not in the know, Barbara Trzetrzelewska, known simply as Basia is a Polish singer-songwriter and record producer. She established a successful international recording career featuring characteristically Latin-flavoured jazz-pop crossover songs during the late 1980s and early 1990s and the late 2000s and 2010s, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan.

Indeed, she is actually noted for possessing a wide vocal range, approximately three octaves that span from contralto to soprano tessituras, as well as her singular jazz-influenced styling and multi-layered harmonies.

Her third studio album, The Sweetest Illusion, was released in 1994 and was a moderate success in the U.S. market selling over half-million copies, but globally it became another million-seller. Mixed by the then-highly sought after David Bascombe (who had contributed to Oleta Adams' debut effort) the project marked the end of a ten-year working relationship with mixmaster Phil Harding and a step into more sophisticated territory.

The Sweetest Illusion included a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, "Drunk on Love", but if you listen to it again today (especially if you have it on vinyl, like I do), you'll still not understand how at least three other tracks didn't make it onto the high radio airplay lists of the time.

But now, and for the first time ever, The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition, the third solo album from Basia, has been digitally remastered and expanded and released via Cherry Red Records.

Following the success of both Time And Tide and London Warsaw New York, Basia's debut and sophomore albums, respectively, this third album was her final major-label release of the 1990s, though a live album and a greatest hits collection followed. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on December 14, 1994 for sales in excess of 500,000 units within the U.S., and earned Basia her first (and so far only) chart-topper on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart with "Drunk on Love".

Disc: 1: 1. Drunk on Love 2. Third Time Lucky 3. Yearning 4. She Deserves It/Rachel's Wedding 5. An Olive Tree 6. The Sweetest Illusion 7. Perfect Mother 8. More Fire Than Flame 9. Simple Pleasures 10. My Cruel Ways 11. The Prayer of a Happy Housewife 12. Drunk on Love (Radio Edit) 13. Third Time Lucky (Radio Edit) 14. Yearning (Edit)

Indeed, it's that very same track that begins our incredible, and comprehensive journey into the world of Basia, for "Drunk In Love" opens this wondrous album. The freeflowing, jazzy pop of the song is infectious from the start, and is backed by the softer mid-tempo "Third Time Lucky", then the delicate "Yearning", the storytelling of "She Deserves It / Rachel's Wedding" and then the Latin flow of "An Olive Tree".

Next up is the album title song, the trippy bounce of "The Sweetest Illusion" and it is one of the finest songs to showcase just how great her vocal range truly is. The highs and lows encountered by Basia here give the track an ebb and flow that transcends a lot of her previous work. "Perfect Mother" slows things down and sounds like a song from the heart here from Basia, and that's backed by the lush "My Fire Than Flame". "Simple Pleasures" is just a pure delight to behold, and then both "My Cruel Ways" and the brilliant "The Prayer Of A Happy Housewife" round out the original album. Included on this first disc also are the Bonus Track Single Versions of "Drunk On Love (Radio Edit)", "Third Time Lucky (Radio Edit)" and then finally "Yearning (edit)".

Disc: 2: 1. Half a Minute (Remix) 2. Angels Blush 3. Waters of March 4. Clear Horizon 5. Go for You 6. Drunk on Love (Instrumental) 7. Third Time Lucky (Instrumental) 8. Yearning (Instrumental) 9. She Deserves It (Instrumental) 10. An Olive Tree (Instrumental) 11. The Sweetest Illusion (Instrumental) 12. Perfect Mother (Instrumental) 13. More Fire Than Flame (Instrumental) 14. Simple Pleasures (Instrumental) 15. My Cruel Ways (Instrumental) 16. The Prayer of a Happy Housewife (Instrumental) 17. Angels Blush (Instrumental) 18. Go for You (Instrumental)

The second disc brings us a slew of Instrumentals, which tend to, after about the halfway mark, quietly blend into one another. But that's ok, for as much as it's Basia's unique vocals that guide us through each song she brings us, when these same tracks come at us unaccompanied by her, well, they transform into some very delightful background music to whatever you are doing in your life at that time.

That said, the second disc actually kicks off with several Bonus Track Additional Recordings, such as "Half A Minute", a freeflowing jazz ensemble mood swing that is beyond fantastic to hear. If you are not familiar with the song, well, allow me to enlighten you to one of the best songs released in the mid'80s. Basia was part of a jazz-pop trio (who originally performed as Bronze) Matt Bianco and sang on their debut album Whose Side Are You On? Released in 1984 the album was a BIG hit across Europe, selling more than 1.5 million copies and brought forth two top 30 hits on the UK Singles Chart: "Get Out of Your Lazy Bed" and "Half a Minute".

Moving on and we next get "Angels Blush", a stunningly beautiful Christmas track and that is followed by the lyrically fast and poetic "Waters Of March", the stoic "Clear Horizon", and then the delicate styling of "Go For You". Then comes the blast of Instrumentals, which has been detailed above, and begin with "Drunk On Love" and end with "Go For You".

Disc: 3: 1. Drunk on Love (Extended Dance Mix) 2. Third Time Lucky (New Version) 3. Drunk on Love (Downtown Radio Edit) 4. Drunk on Love (Roger's Ultimate Anthem Mix) 5. Drunk on Love (Downtown Club Mix) 6. Drunk on Love (40 Oz of Love Dub) 7. Drunk on Love (Hands in the Air Dub) 8. Third Time Lucky (Vokal Mix) 9. Third Time Lucky (Bad Luck Mix) 10. Third Time Lucky (Instrumental Mix)

Deluxe editions of both her previous two titles were released on the Cherry Pop label and continue to be strong sellers and it's now shock as to why. They are not only GREAT albums, but in these wonderful deluxe and expanded editions they showcase so much more depth to each track, and the remixes and B-sides that accompanied them at the time, that you know you're getting as much of Basia as they can possibly squeeze!

That said, and here on the third disc, we only get two (2) songs, but they are two of the stand out tracks, at that. You will need patience and belief in where the extended and remixes tracks are headed sometimes, but each version of both "Drunk On Love" and "Third Time Lucky" are solid, enjoyable and importantly, relevant to what Basia was sounding like, and recording like at the time the album came out in 1994.

Chock full of Bonus Tracks revealing both Remixes and Alternative Versions of both song, I mean, wow, who knew she had recorded so many versions of each song back then in the first place? I'm a BIG fan and even I didn't know. I even went upstairs, went through all my Basia 12" Singles (yes, that's vinyl to you kids!) and could only find a couple of these on the singles she released from The sweetest Illusion. No worries though, for they are all here and more on this third disc (tracklisting noted above), and it wraps up a stunning 3CD collection that, for my money, slightly outshines the previous two in her Cherry Red Records Deluxe Edition arsenal.

This 3 disc set comes with a beautifully designed, carefully researched, and spectaculary detailed 24-page full color booklet that contains brand new liner notes, lyrics, photos, an illustrated discography, comprehensive credits, and written contributions from producer Dave Bascombe, plus track annotations from Basia and Danny White.

'The Sweetest Illusion: 3CD Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Stranded In Reality' [30CD Box-Set]
Artist - Ian Hunter

For those not in the know, Ian Hunter is an English singer-songwriter who is best known as the lead singer of the English rock band Mott the Hoople, from its inception in 1969 to its dissolution in 1974, and at the time of its 2009 reunion.

Indeed, Hunter was a musician and songwriter before joining Mott the Hoople, and continued in this vein after he left the band. He embarked on a solo career despite ill health and disillusionment with commercial success, and often worked in collaboration with Mick Ronson, David Bowie's sideman and arranger from the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars period.

Ian Hunter's last studio album, Fingers Crossed (2016) unveiled ten new, self-penned songs including his much-anticipated homage to David Bowie "Dandy". Recorded at HOBO Studios in New Jersey, and co-produced by Hunter and Andy York, the record features his magnificent Rant Band and was the follow-up to 2012's acclaimed When I'm President.

But never one to sit around and let time pass him by, Hunter is readying to unleash an incredible 30CD Box-Set upon the world! Stranded In Reality is a strictly Limited Edition Box Set for sale to worldwide customers exclusively through only.

The career of the British rock great and Mott the Hoople icon Ian Hunter is celebrated with this 30-disc Anthology box set, Stranded in Reality, containing a swathe of rare and previously unreleased recordings and film. Compiled and curated by Ian and recognised Hunter-Mott biographer Campbell Devine, the project is the ultimate celebration of the artist's hugely influential and sparkling solo work. Covering the years 1975 to 2015, Stranded in Reality comprises 17 original albums on 19 CDs, 9 "new" discs of intriguing rare and unreleased tracks plus 2DVDs.

All of Ian's classic solo albums are contained in the box set including expanded Anniversary Editions of Ian Hunter, All-American Alien Boy, You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic and Welcome to the Club, plus special unique bonus track discs of Short Back n' Sides, All of The Good Ones Are Taken, The Artful Dodger, Strings Attached, Shrunken Heads and When I'm President.

The new albums are titled Tilting the Mirror (Rarities 2CD), If You Wait Long Enough for Anything, You Can Get it on Sale (Live 1979-81 2CD), Bag of Tricks (Live Volumes 1, 2 and 3), Acoustic Shadows and Experiments. The box presents many unheard and "lost" songs from Ian's archive including 'San Diego Freeway', 'Nobody's Perfect' and 'Salvation' as well as rarely performed live versions of 'Wild East', 'While You Were Looking At Me', 'The Outsider' and a 2008 acoustic concert.

A visual 2 disc set, It Never Happened, features promo, live and archive material, and most of the footage has not been issued commercially on DVD until now. The project includes a complete 1979 Hunter Ronson concert from London's Hammersmith Odeon and a TV film from the same tour, live in Toronto. Collectively, the albums and DVD's offer music fans a rock 'n' roll jackpot of over 400 tracks!

Lavishly presented in an LP-size deluxe box with custom Escher-style cover (which alone I think sells it!), the collection also contains an 88-page hardback book with comprehensive essay, rare memorabilia and Ian Hunter "Track by Track" for every song, a stunning facsimile Shades newspaper featuring classic historic press features, an Alien Boy lithograph personally signed by Ian and original and brand new album artwork in replica card sleeves.

Phew! Am I right!! Well, as much as a) it hasn't been released yet, and b) it's too damn expensive to be sent one for review, the company we work with were kind enough to send us a lovely 7-track EP, amusingly entitled Sampling In Reality!

1. "A Little Rock 'n' Roll (Pre-Rant outtake)" (05:20)
2. "Your Eyes" (from Shrunken Heads EP) (03:48)
3. "Waterlow" (Trio Studio Version) (03:11)
4. "Sons 'n' Lovers" (Live Acoustic 2008) (05:01)
5. "When I'm President" (Live Acoustic 2013) (05:47)
6. "American Music" (Early Version) (03:48)
7. "Sweet Jane" - Ian Hunter and Tribes (04:39)

The tracks are a lovely taster for what is going to come, with the opening mid-tempo rocker "A Little Rock 'n' Roll (Pre-Rant outtake)" setting the tone very nicely. The mellow, acoustic vibe of "Your Eyes' shows Hunter's versatility, and the two live tracks taken from Hunter's acoustic tours are always a nice gem to come across.

So, save up your pennies, as this 30-CD Box-Set is gonna set you back at least $250 or more, me lil' Hunter and gathers!

'Stranded In Reality' CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'Capture the Sun'
Artist - Hollywood Monsters

For those not in the know, Hollywood Monsters is an American hard rock supergroup formed in 2014. The band members are: Steph Honde (vocals, guitars), Don Airey (keyboards) (Deep Purple, previously played in Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Ozzy Osbourne, Michael Schenker Group and others), Vinny Appice (drums) (previously played in DIO, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Kill Devil Hill and others), Tim Bogert (bass) (previously played in Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, and Beck, Bogert & Appice).

Their brand new album Capture The Sun ups the ante of the band's 2014 debut album with special guest performances by Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge), Tracy G (ex-Dio), Neil Murray (Whitesnake), Danko Jones, and many others.

The opener, "Mysteries Of Life" is a mish-mash of TV-spoken white noise for just 48 seconds, before the death-metal vibe of "Evilution" is upon us. The speed it rocks it's amazing it stays on track, but that it does, and is backed perfectly by the mid-tempo (for them) rocker "Always Crashing the Same Car", the fast pop of "It's A Lie", and both the guitar ballad "Waiting" and the piano-led "Don't Let It Happen".

"Another Day in Grey, Pt. 2" picks up the pace again and keeps it up with "Everything Is Going to Be Alright", before we head into the searing, soaring guitar work of the ballad "Dreams". One of the best tracks on the album for me, that's followed by another ballad in the form of "King For A Day", which in turn is backed by the accelerated title track, "Capture The Sun."

This devilishly good album is then brought to a flourish of a close with "Sweet Thing / Candidate / Sweet Thing (Reprise)", with the final track, a Whitesnake cover of "Fool for Your Loving" as a Bonus Track. Not quite having the power to match DC's original vocals, it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the closest I've heard any band get even close to the original.

Hollywood Monsters @ Facebook!

'Capture The Sun' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Sessions'
Artist - Joe Lynn Turner

As I'm sure you all know by now, Joe Lynn Turner is an American singer known for his works with hard rock band Rainbow. During his career, Turner fronted pop rock band Fandango, had the short-lived collaboration for neoclassical metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen and Deep Purple.

From the mid 1990s, he worked with various musical groups (progressive rock band Mother's Army, funk rock duo Hughes Turner Project, AOR side project Sunstorm, etc.), while pursuing a solo career. He is currently the vocalist for Rated X, based on Mother's Army. Their album was released in 2014.

Personally, I have always been a massive Rainbow fan, although the early years with Ritchie Blackmore were a wee bit OTT for me, the JLT years were good, but the Graham Bonnet years were fantastic! Anyway, moving on, and as we also were lucky enough to get a live album from JLT this year, Street Of Dreams - Boston 1985, as the year comes to a close we are also given the early Christmas gift of The Sessions from Deadline Music / Cleopatra Records.

Here on this quite brilliant new CD, the man STILL best known for fronting Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, presents this excellent collection of his studio work recording supercharged versions of rock classics! Featuring guest appearances by Michael Schenker (UFO), Steve Lukather (Toto), Steve Morse, Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Brad Gillis (Night Ranger), and more, trust me when I say if you area fan of that era of music, or Rainbow in general, The Sessions is gonna make make your Christmas Day rock!

1. "Stone Cold" (with Vivian Campbell)
2. "Lunatic Fringe"
3. "Let the Music Do the Talking" (with Al Pitrelli, Carmine Rojas & Pat Torpey)
4. "Mirror Mirror" (with Icarus Witch)
5. "Hellraiser" (with Steve Lukather, Billy Sherwood, Jay Schellen & Paul Taylor)
6. "14 Years"
7. "Dance The Night Away" (with Reb Beach)
8. "Back in Black" (with Phil Collen)
9. "All Shook Up" (with Michael Schenker
10. "Babe I’m Gonna Leave You" (with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Tony Franklin & Doane Perry)
11. "All Day and All of the Night" (with Brad Gillis, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright)
12. "Bloody Well Right" (with Dave Kerzner)
13. "The Seeker" (with Leslie West)
14. "Jungle Love" (with Steve Morse)
15. "Two Minutes To Midnight" (with Richie Kotzen)
16. "Fat Bottomed Girls" (with Reb Beach)
17. "Riders On The Storm" (with Tony Kaye & Steve Cropper)

We kick off a "Stone Cold" lite featuring guitar wizard, and ex-Whitesnake guitarist Vivian Campbell alongside him, and that's backed by a trippy, yet spot on "Lunatic Fringe", a searing, soaring guitar fest within "Let the Music Do the Talking" (with Al Pitrelli, Carmine Rojas & Pat Torpey), and then both "Mirror Mirror" (with Icarus Witch), and ye another pulsating guitar fest on "Hellraiser" featuring Steve Lukather, Billy Sherwood, Jay Schellen & Paul Taylor.

The rock pop of "14 Years" is next, and that's followed by the lite pop bounce of "Dance The Night Away" featuring current Whitesnake guitarist Reb Beach along for the ride. Man, it has to be said that Turner bends, twists and contorts his vocal chords into the vein of whoever sang the covers included here, for in that last one he sounds just like DLR, and here on "Back In Black" (featuring Phil Collen of Def Leppard) he actually, truly comes across as Brian Johnson.

"All Shook Up" with Michael Schenker is yet another prime example of how Turner makes a song his own, when the needs must, and that's backed by both the beautiful acoustic guitar balled "Babe I’m Gonna Leave You" with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Tony Franklin & Doane Perry. The raucous "All Day and All of the Night" with Brad Gillis, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright is a powerhaus of a Kinks rendition, and could well be my own personal favorite here amongst the 17 tracks, and that's followed by a playful "Bloody Well Right" with Dave Kerzner. Kerzner has worked with artists and bands such as Alan Parsons, Genesis, Francis Dunnery, Neil Peart, and Keith Emerson, to namea few, so you know this song is another stand out highlight.

A massive-sounding, and possible the loudest Turner gets to sing on this new album "The Seeker" with Leslie West is next, but the Steve Miller Band take on the pop-lite "Jungle Love" with Steve Morse doesn't fit in here, sorry. Iron Maiden's rampaging "Two Minutes To Midnight", here with Richie Kotzen for company, puts Turner back to his best, and then the album is brought to a close with both "Fat Bottomed Girls" (again with Reb Beach), and a stonking "Riders On The Storm" with Tony Kaye & Steve Cropper.

Joe Lynn Turner @ Twitter

'The Sessions' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'It's Christmas Time with Gary Wilson'
Artist - Gary Wilson

For those not in the know, Gary Wilson is an experimental musician/performance artist best known for his 1977 album You Think You Really Know Me, after which he promptly retired from recording and performing concerts. He slowly gained a strong cult following during the 1980s and 1990s, and in the early 2000s became active again.

And active is what he truly is once again for following hot on the footsteps of his album, Alone With Gary Wilson (2015), which was in turn followed by his last album earlier this very year, It's Friday Night with Gary Wilson, we now get welcomed into his Christmas world with It's Christmas Time with Gary Wilson, released via Cleopatra Records this past October 28th, 2016.

1. "Lonely Holiday (Intro)"
2. "A Christmas Tree For Two"
3. "I Saw Santa Dancing In The Dark"
4. "A Sled Ride Tonight"
5. "The Snow"
6. "Holiday"
7. "Cindy Wants To Cry"
8. "Wintertime In Johnson City"
9. "It’s Snowing In Endicott"
10. "Lost In The Snow"
11. "She Danced Near The Frozen Lake"
12. "A Date For New Year’s Eve"
13. "Santa Claus Is Coming To My Lonely Town"
14. "Lonely Holiday (Exit)"

Kicking off with the trippy one minute electro mish-mash of "Lonely Holiday (Intro)", we soon get on with the real show with the hippy-trippy "A Christmas Tree For Two" ("I don't want to cut down a tree, it makes me sad when it starts to bleed"), the sing-along, should be a classic Holiday track "I Saw Santa Dancing In The Dark", and both "A Sled Ride" and the frenetic white noise of "The Snow".

Another fun, hippy-drippy chant is to be lovingly found within "Holiday" which is followed by "Cindy Wants To Cry" and the arcade game soundtrack vibe to "Wintertime In Johnson City". In much the same la-la vein, we next get "It’s Snowing In Endicott", and I think this happens to also be my own personal favorite on this collection of 14 new tracks.

"Lost In The Snow" is up next. A partner piece to "It's Snowing In Endicott", it's a fun storytelling adventure, and that's backed by the beautiful (honestly - ok, well, as beautiful as Wilson can get in these moments, I guess!) "She Danced Near The Frozen Lake". Up next is the keyboard funk pop of "A Date For New Year’s Eve" and then the album rounds out with the closest we're gonna get to a traditional Christmas song, "Santa Claus Is Coming To My Lonely Town", and then the album book ends with another electro mish-mash of white noise in the one minute long "Lonely Holiday (Exit)".

Gary Wilson on Facebook

'It's Christmas Time with Gary Wilson' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Shoot The Moon'
Artist - Roger Street Freidman

For those not in the know, Brooklyn born and Long Island based Roger Street Friedman was born into a creative household. His father was an artist, his mother was a writer, and his two older brothers were budding guitarists. Everyone was passionate about music. At 18, Friedman left home to join the rock band The Walk as their bassist, recruited by veteran producer and engineer Michael Wright (who previously had worked with megastars Foreigner).

That didn't work out as planned, so he took off to Colorado and ended up skiing for a few years. He then spent the next twenty-eight years in a fulfilling career, but wandering aimlessly in and out of musical pursuits until the loss of his parents, and an unexpected blessing, awoke the music within.

Shoot The Moon (out January 13th, 2017) is Roger Street Friedman's reflection of life as an unpredictable and wondrous journey. The 13-song collection reveals an artist who has come into his own and created a boldly adventurous and masterful album.

Brought together via a Pledge Music campaign, before we take a listen to it, I'll let Roger explain more about its creation himself: "I am very excited to be releasing my second album Shoot The Moon. My band and I, along with a number of incredible guests, have been in the studio since last July and are getting ready to release the album in January. This PledgeMusic campaign is a way to share exclusive content with you in exchange for your support of the project at whatever level you choose."

"I am also donating a percentage of the proceeds of the campaign to Human Rights Watch, which does amazing work with refugees all over the world. So I hope you'll check out the video and then check out this link to join the campaign!! Thank You!! Roger."

1. "Puffs of Smoke"
2. "Everyday"
3. "No Safe Place"
4. "Hideaway"
5. "Tidal Wave"
6. "Tomorrow"
7. "Pour Me Another"
8. "Where Are You Tonight"
9. "Paradise"
10. "Shoot The Moon"
11. "Love of a Mother"
12. "Nothin's Worth Nothin'"
13. "Wonder (For Jonathan)"

Opening with the blues-rocker "Puffs of Smoke" ("Lovers come and lovers go, just like puffs of smoke. Dreams my come, dreams may go. Just like puffs of smoke. Friends may come, and friends may go. Just like puffs of smoke. Life it comes and life it goes. Just like puffs of smoke"), we move swiftly into the harmonized acoustic vibe (at first) of "Everyday" and then the gentle countrified handling of "No Safe Place".

The guitar strumming pace is picked up in the stunning "Hideaway", a track that might just well be my personal favorite among the 13. That's followed by the Gospel-inspired "Tidal Wave", which in turn is backed by the upbeat "Tomorrow". A slight lean into a Mariachi backbeat is brought forth next on "Pour Me Another", where the storytelling of toasting parents, inclusive of both a Texas and Western Mexico ambiance is lyrically, and musically entrancing.

The guitar twanging of "Where Are You Tonight" is a reflective track, in more than one way, whilst the thought provoking question of mortality within "Paradise" is one for the ages. The fun blues pop of the title track "Shoot The Moon" is as joyous as Friedman gets, and yet with it being a true stand out here, one has to wonder why he didn't raise the tempo a little more often.

A track dedicated to his mother, and all mothers, come to think of that, is the beautiful "Love of a Mother", and that's backed by yet another soul searching, deeply emotive "Nothin's Worth Nothin'". This truly incredible, breathtakingly heartfelt album is then brought to a close with "Wonder (For Jonathan)", which compliments, and bows down to Creation for having enabled him to have such as good a son as Jonathan.

A nicely balanced release of 13 tracks together with Friedman's voice sounding as great as ever, means that Shoot The Moon is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening. More than that, you'll beg for it to be on vinyl, for this album fully deserves to be an LP - just to hear it on a turntable, man, now that's what I want for Christmas!

Roger Street Freidman @ Facebook!

'Shoot The Moon' CD Purchase Link

Title - '3 Minutes To Midnight'
Artist - Lawson Rollins

Lawson Rollins, is an award-winning American guitarist and composer from North Carolina noted for his virtuoso fingerstyle technique and melodic compositional skills featured in his recordings.

His music spans is generally classed as Latin jazz and world music, with elements of samba, bossa nova, Middle Eastern music, classical guitar, flamenco, and shred guitar. He often employs fast minor scales and diminished scale solo runs to his compositions which are executed in the flamenco picado style.

Here on his seventh solo album 3 Minutes To Midnight (releasing January 20th, 2017), guitarist and composer Lawson Rollins once again takes the listener on a magical musical journey. Characterized, as always, by an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, Brazilian, and Arabic music fused with Spanish guitar, once the album begins, just that one opening burst of high energy sets the tone for the entire listening experience.

1. "3 Minutes to Midnight"
2. "Light the Way"
3. "Island Time"
4. "Sway"
5. "Driving Force"
6. "Southbound"
7. "Stringdance"
8. "Time Shift"
9. "Reveal"
10. "Split Second"
11. "Eternal"
12. "Mary's Rock"

Opening with the playfully upbeat title track, "3 Minutes to Midnight", listening to Rollins' fingers burn up and down his guitar makes you just marvel more at the man's creative musicianship. The tempo is brought down a little next on "Light the Way", but Rollins' delightful, entrancing guitar styling is none the less intoxicating, of that be sure. "Island Time" is next and is followed by the aptly-titled "Sway" - a track that will have you doing just that as you make your (s)way around your office, home, or even right there in your car seat!

In truth, to an extent, the same can be said of the hypnotic "Driving Force" (which is very apt if you are listening to the track whilst driving), and that's followed by the gentle Latin funk of "Southbound" and then the hipsway, finger-snappin' freeflow melodies of "Stringdance" is upon us. "Timeshift" and "Reveal" are up next, but it's "Split Second" that takes me away here on this album. You only have to close your eyes and you are in bathed in all the Eastern flavors that only a truly gifted musician can conjure up. It is a simply stunning track. The album is then rounding out with both "Eternal" and then the beautiful balladeering of "Mary's Rock".

A nicely balanced release of 12 tracks together with Rollins' exquisite guitar work as great as ever, means that 3 Minutes to Midnight is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening. More than that, you'll beg for it to be on vinyl, for this album fully deserves to be an LP - just to hear it on a turntable, man, now that's what I want for Christmas!

'3 Minutes To Midnight' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Mozart in the Jungle, Season 3'
Artist - Various

For those not in the know, the two-time Golden Globe® and Emmy Award® winning series, 'Mozart in the Jungle', is all about sex, drugs-and classical music - and shows that what happens behind the curtains at the symphony can be just as captivating as what happens on stage.

The half-hour comedic drama series is written by Oscar®-nominated writer and director Roman Coppola, actor and musician Jason Schwartzman, and Tony®-nominated writer and director Alex Timbers and is based on the critically acclaimed memoir 'Mozart in the Jungle' by Blair Tindall.

Season three opens in the midst of a grand Italian adventure with Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal, who won the Best Actor Golden Globe® for his performance) taking on a brand new artistic challenge. Hailey (Lola Kirke) travels across Europe with the Andrew Walsh Ensemble, finding it s not everything that she'd hoped.

Thus, to compose a musical background big enough, strong enough to hold this season high among the watching masses, Sony Masterworks turned to, well, their masters! The soundtrack for Mozart in the Jungle, Season 3 features both standard classical repertoire from Mozart and Beethoven as well as music written especially for the series by contemporary composers Nico Muhly and Missy Mazzoli.

1. Les Filles des Cadix - Ana María Martínez
2. Pa-Pa-Pa-Papagena! - James Levine
3. No. 2 in E minor (Allegretto grazioso) - George Szell
4. Impromptu (Thomas's piece) - Joshua Bell
5. Don Giovanni, K.527: "Lŕ ci darem la mano" - Plácido Domingo
6. Die junge Nonne, D.828 - Ana María Martínez
7. Fidelio, Op. 72: March from Act I - Sir Colin Davis
8. Allegro aperto - François Leleux
9. A lenda do caboclo - Yo-Yo Ma
10. Amy Fisher - Ana María Martínez
11. Carmen: Chanson bohčme - Ana María Martínez
12. Allegro Molto - Adrian Leaper

Indeed, the rather delightful, breathtaking at times soundtrack also includes Joshua Bell, who made an appearance in the second season, plus performances by Yo-Yo Ma, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and other superstars from the classical music world.

The CD comes with an 8-page booklet which contains full page color photos on the pages along with track listing, composer and performer credits.

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Penny Dreadful Seasons 2 & 3'
Artist - Abel Korzeniowski

‘Penny Dreadful’ was a highly-inventive series on Showtime that features some of literature’s most terrifying character, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and other iconic figures from the novel Dracula that are lurking in the darkest corners of Victorian London. A psychological thriller at its heart, composer Abel Korzeniowski (born in Krakow, Poland) has written an incredible work of art to back their every move.

The series premiered on Showtime on May 11th, 2014, the first in an eight-episode season. However, after the third season finale on June 19th, 2016, series creator John Logan announced that Penny Dreadful had ended as the main story had reached its conclusion.

Here on the brilliant 2CD set of Penny Dreadful - Seasons 2 and 3 we get no less that 48 more original scores. Compositions that allow ‘Penny Dreadful’ (starring Timothy Dalton, Eva Green, Josh Harnett, etc.) to weave together the aforementioned classic horror origin stories into something that stands proudly alongside; and within the shadows when required.

Disc: 1 - 1. The Unquiet Grave (1:25) 2. Memento Mori (3:53) 3. Verbis Diablo (1:50) 4. Poison (5:51) 5. We Are Dangerous (2:19) 6. Vanessa's Dream (2:46) 7. Ethan's Waltz (1:26) 8. Until The Storm's Past (1:57) 9. The Cutwife of Ballentree Moor (3:41) 10. Joan Clayton (4:00) 11. Killing Sir Geoffrey Hawkes (2:59) 12. Dolls Have Hearts (4:44) 13. Melting Waltz (3:23) 14. Little Deceptions (:58) 15. Gossamer Tennis (1:18) 16. House Of Wax (1:58) 17. Weapon. Ritual. Superstition. (2:11) 18. Ghost Waltz (2:51) 19. Breaking The Spell (1:18) 20. Wallpapers (4:47) 21. Entering The Castle (2:26) 22. Coffins (2:25) 23. Know Your Master (6:04) 24. Little Scorpion (1:17) 25. Be True (3:57)

Disc: 2 - 1. The Master (2:44) 2. New Mexico (4:25) 3. Las Cruces (2:27) 4. Dr. Jekyll (2:26) 5. Madness (2:53) 6. Nocturnal Danger (2:10) 7. False Mirrors (2:14) 8. Guardian Angels (3:16) 9. Common Red Fox (3:03) 10. We Butcher Them (2:01) 11. Us And Our Kin (1:46) 12. Rejection (2:34) 13. Ethan Kills (3:33) 14. White Room (2:57) 15. One Day Soon (1:11) 16. Revelation (6:04) 17. House Of The Night Creatures (4:17) 18. Such Is Our Power, Such Is Our Kingdom (2:41) 19. All Light Will End (2:50) 20. Werewolves (2:14) 21. Let It End (6:43) 22. Boat to Africa (4:41) 23. Explorer's Club (Season One Bonus Track) (2:54)

As composer Abel Korzeniowski (‘W.E’, ‘A Single Man’) has himself said, “The themes of Penny Dreadful represent both different characters and abstract ideas,” and that is a brilliant way to sum up this lush work of musical art.

From the off, and the main title of season 2, ‘The Unquiet Grave,’ it’s obvious that the theme of ‘Penny Dreadful’ is one of a meaningful study of Victorian London. A study of dark beauty, something that can be terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time, such tracks as ‘The Cutwife of Ballentree Moore,’ ‘Melting Waltz,’ ‘Little Deceptions,’ and from the third season, opening composition ‘The Master’, 'We Butcher Them', 'Such Is Our Power', and both 'Werewolves' and the haunting 'Let It End', immediately pull you into the world where these characters exist.

One of the most unusual Gothic horror stories to hit TV since ‘American Horror Story,’ Korzeniowski’s soundtrack lingers long on the mind; long after you have stopped it playing!

Title - 'Outlander: Season 2' (Original TV Soundtrack)
Artist - Bear McCreary

'Outlander' is a British-American television drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. Developed by Ronald D. Moore and produced by Sony Pictures Television and Left Bank Pictures for Starz, the show premiered on August 9th, 2014.

It stars Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall, a married World War II nurse who in 1945 finds herself transported back to the Scotland of 1743, where she encounters the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and becomes embroiled in the Jacobite risings.

Here on the excellent follow up to Season One's score, which Bear also did, of course, I honestly think that he has exceeded all my expectations! In truth, and in my own humble opinion, I believe this one is even better than Season One. Then again, I love the show and I love the music Bear brings alive so I might be slightly biased, I guess.

These incredible 22 compositions gives the listener nearly 90 minutes worth of quality music to lose themselves within (so, perhaps don't be driving when you listen to this CD!) Bear’s due diligence in extensively researching music from both 1740’s France and of the Jacobite era is apparent in each and every note, which has been perfectly placed and played.

Also included with this CD is a photo-booklet where Bear has written a beautiful explanation of how composing the scores for 'Outlander' affected him both personally and professionally, making him a better musician. Again, and maybe I've actually overstated this by now (sorry), but I now own both Season One and Season Two scores, but there’s something magical, nay mystical about this one.

Title - 'Hairspray LIVE! Original NBC Soundtrack'
Artist - Various

If this passed you by (and shame on you if it did!), on December 7th, 2016 NBC embarked on its latest musical holiday tradition: Hairspray LIVE! A 3-hour live event production based on the Grammy Award® and Tony Award®-winning Best Musical broadway show (2002) and the Golden Globe® nominated movie musical (2007).

Hairspray LIVE! takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Plump teenager Tracy Turnblad's dream is to dance on "The Corny Collins Show," a local TV program. When against all odds Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters, including the resident dreamboat, Link; the ambitious mean girl, Amber; an African American boy she meets in detention, Seaweed; and his mother, Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a local record store. Tracy's mother is the indomitable Edna, and she eventually encourages Tracy on her campaign to integrate the all-white "Corny Collins Show."

Hairspray LIVE! stars exciting newcomer Maddie Baillio, Dove Cameron, Kristin Chenoweth, Garrett Clayton, Harvey Fierstein (recreating his Tony Award®-winning performance), Ariana Grande, Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short, Ephraim Sykes and Shahadi Wright Joseph, with special appearances by Billy Eichner, Sean Hayes, Andrea Martin and Rosie O'Donnell.

The cast is phenomenal. Newcomer Maddie Baillio has a nice voice and performs well as the show's lead. From the original Broadway cast, Harvey Fierstein reprises his tony-award winning role as Edna Turnblad and he's just as enjoyable and fun to listen to as he was back in 2002. Kristin Chenoweth is right combination of nasty and over-the-top as Velma Von Tussle.

Having only known him for his dancing, I was pleasantly surprised by Derek Hough's abilities as a singer. I'm not a fan of Arianna Grande (nothing wrong with her, her music just isn't for me), but I couldn't help but feel she was a perfect fit for the role of Penny. And, above everyone else, Jennifer Hudson shines as Motormouth Maybelle. Her powerhouse voice makes her the highlight of this WONDERFUL, and colorful soundtrack.

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'A Man And His Guitar, Live From The Franklin'
Artist - Travis Tritt

For those not in the know, James Travis Tritt is an American country music singer, songwriter, and actor. He signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1989, releasing seven studio albums and a greatest hits package for the label between then and 1999. In the 2000s, he released two albums on Columbia Records and one for the defunct Category 5 Records.

Indeed, seven of his albums (and yes, that is counting the Greatest Hits) are certified platinum or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); the highest-certified is 1991's It's All About to Change, which is certified triple-platinum.

Tritt has also charted more than 40 times on the Hot Country Songs charts, including five number ones — "Help Me Hold On," "Anymore," "Can I Trust You with My Heart," "Foolish Pride", and "Best of Intentions" — and 15 additional top ten singles.

The man who has received two Grammy Awards, both for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals: in 1992 for "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," a duet with Marty Stuart, and again in 1998 for "Same Old Train", a collaboration with Stuart and nine other artists, and who has received four awards from the Country Music Association, and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1992, may have always had his musical style defined by mainstream country and Southern rock influences, but wow, what a career - and what a man, in general (as anyone who's ever met him).

Having released The Calm After... (2013), here in 2016 we now get a really wonderful double act of music and visual Tritt entertainment (although sold separately) on A Man And His Guitar, Live From The Franklin Theatre. Sold as a 2-CD set or a lovely DVD, the new musical performance package showcases one of the worlds greatest country stars, alone, perched on a stool, solo with his guitar, and still at his best.

Disc 1: 1. “It’s All About the Money” (Donny Kees, Jody Harris) 2. “Where Corn Don’t Grow” (Mark Alan Springer, Roger Murrah) 3. “The Pressure Is On” (Hank Williams, Jr.) 4. “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” (Jill Colucci, Stewart Harris) 5. “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man” [with James Otto] (Kostas) 6. “Country Club” (Catesby Jones, Dennis Lord) 7. “Country Ain’t Country” (Carson Chamberlain, Casey Beatherd, Teresa Boaz) 8. “500 Miles Away From Home” (Bobby Bare, Charles Williams, Hedy West) 9. “Here’s a Quarter” (Travis Tritt) 10. “Best of Intentions” (Travis Tritt) 11. “Drift Off to Dream” (Travis Tritt, Stewart Harris) 12. “Help Me Hold On” (Travis Tritt, Pat Terry)

Disc 2: 1. “Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” [with Marty Stuart] (Ronny Scaife, Marty Stuart) 2. “Pickin’ at It” [with Marty Stuart] (Travis Tritt) 3. “Come and Go Blues” (Gregg Allman) 4. “Anymore” (Travis Tritt, Jill Colucci) 5. “I Walk the Line” (Johnny Cash) 6. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” (Waylon Jennings) 7. “A Long Time Ago” (Waylon Jennings, Shel Silverstein) 8. “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (Patsy Bruce, Ed Bruce) 9. “Lone Wolf” (Hank Williams, Jr.) 10. “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” (Darrell Scott) 11. “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” (Jerry Chestnut) 12. “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde” (Walt Aldridge, James LeBlanc)

"Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, Travis Tritt" are the words that open the recording, and after a subtle, quietly acknowledged "Thank you" back from Tritt, he settles onto his stool and eases into "It's All About The Money", which he backs up with both "Where Corn Don't Grow" and "The Pressure Is On".

As the album title reveals, the shows was recorded at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tenn., during an unplugged solo concert for all his fans. A Man and His Guitar brings forth more hits and favorite album tracks, such as "I'm Gonna Be Somebody", "300 Miles away From Home", "Help Me Hold On", and even some brilliant covers such as "I Walk The Line" and a stunning Waylon Tribute Medley.

Also including personal stories from Tritt about his life and influences, and what he has learned during his long and successful career in the country music world, we get to listen to Marty Stuart joining Tritt on the second CD. Joining him on such songs as “Pickin’ at It” as well as for “Whiskey Ain’t Workin’,” James Otto also helps out on “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man.”

A nicely balanced release of 24 tracks together with Tritt's still remarkable voice sounding as great as ever, means that A Man And His Guitar, Live At The Franklin Theatre is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening. More than that, you'll beg for it to be on vinyl, for this album fully deserves to be an LP - just to hear it on a turntable, man, now that's what I want for Christmas!

Travis Tritt @ Twitter!

Travis Tritt @ Facebook!

Title - 'Unplugged - Live at Muhle Hunziken' [CD/DVD]
Artist - Philipp Fankhauser & Margie Evans

For those not in the know, Philipp Manuel Fankhauser is a Swiss blues musician and songwriter. Indeed, several of his albums have charted in the top ten of the Swiss hit parade, such as Love Man Riding, which peaked at No. 7, Home, which peaked at No. 2, Try My Love, which peaked at No. 3, and even this brand new collaborative live album with Margie Evans, which peaked at No. 4.

Released in February 2016, this incredible album Unplugged - Live at Mühle Hunziken is a joyful reunion between two musical souls who have grown up in awe of each other. Indeed, Evans even agreed to be a guest star on his first album, the self-titled Philipp Fankhauser.

This CD (and DVD) set was recorded over three sold-out nights at the famed Mühle Hunziken in Rubigen, Switzerland and showcases two immense musical talents at the top of their collective games.

1. "If You Ain't Been to Houston" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
2. "Going to Dallas" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
3. "Too Little Too Late" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
4. "Try My Love" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
5. "Home Town (Thun)" [Live] - Philipp Fankhauser
6. "I Got a Love" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
7. "Love Man Riding" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
8. "God Bless the Child" (Live) - Margie Evans
9. "Drowning in the Sea of Love" (Live) - Margie Evans
10. "I'll Be Around" (Live) - Margie Evans
11. "Stop & Forgive" (Live) - Margie Evans
12. "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
13. "Everyday I Have the Blues" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser
14. "Time for Christ" (Live) - Margie Evans
15. "Members Only" (Live) - Philipp Fankhauser

The performance(s)-to-have-been-at concert begins with Fankhauser on "If You Ain't Been to Houston", which he blends smoothly into both ""Going to Dallas" and the soul-searching, heart wrenching "Too Little Too Late". "Try My Love" is then followed by the upbeat, slow blues funk of "Home Town (Thun)", and next come both "I Got a Love" and "Love Man Riding".

A stunning performance of "God Bless the Child" is backed by "Drowning in the Sea of Love", which has its very own old school Motown feel to it; which I found to be delightful. A stand out track here on an album chock full of gems, that's backed by the slow Gospel ballad "I'll Be Around". Complete with soul searching lyrics, that's followed by "Stop & Forgive", before the fun these two have back and forth on "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You" comes to the fore. One of my own personal favorites here, in truth, their playful tit-for-tat's of adoration and love for one another are perfect.

That's backed by the uptempo, finger-snappin' smokey jazz club feel of "Everyday I Have the Blues", which in turn is followed by the piano-led Evans solo, "Time for Christ". Fankhauser then brings the musical roadshow to a close with an exquisite "Members Only" ("Don't being your check book, bring your broken heart. It's members only tonight"), which rounds this album off perfectly.

The DVD has all those aforementioned tracks on it and also lovingly adds three bonus tracks: The throaty, deep down torment of "Trouble Trouble" is breathtaking, as is the duet with Fankhauser on the Evans-led "Let's Straighten It Out". The other track, and indeed the actual show closer on the DVD is "Nature Song (Life's Rainbow)" and the DVD even has a Special Feature with regard a Behind the Scenes look at both artists and the show.

A nicely balanced release of 15 album tracks (with regard the CD), together with both Fankhauser and Evans' vocals sounding as great as ever, means that Unplugged - Live at Muhle Hunziken is one of those albums that quickly becomes addictive listening. More than that, you'll beg for it to be on vinyl, for this album fully deserves to be an LP - just to hear it on a turntable, man, now that's what I want for Christmas!

Margie Evans, vocals - Philipp Fankhauser, vocals and acoustic guitar - Marco Jencarelli, acoustic guitar - Hendrix Ackle, acoustic piano and Wurlitzer - Angus Thomas, acoustic bass - Richard Spooner, drums - Lukas Thoeni, trumpet and flugelhorn - Thomi Geiger, tenor saxophone.

'Unplugged' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The First Of A Million Kisses: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Fairground Attraction

For those not in the know, Fairground Attraction were a British folk and soft rock band. They are best known for their hit song 'Perfect' and the subsequent single 'Find My Love', and for helping to launch the career of lead vocalist Eddi Reader.

Based around the brilliant songwriting of founder Mark Nevin and the remarkable voice of Reader, Fairground Attraction established themselves overnight as one of the UK's most popular bands of the late 1980s with the release of the classic single 'Perfect' and it's parent (and only) album The First Of A Million Kisses - 1989's Brit Awards Album Of The Year.

The First Of A Million Kisses is now reissued and expanded (oh boy, is it ever expanded) this January 16th, 2017 via Cherry Red Records (UK). Including nine (9) previously unreleased recordings - four previously unreleased songs and five demos - and eight (8) other non-album tracks only previously issued on long out of print Live In Japan release, this 2-CD set is a must-have for all fans of the band.

Compiled with songwriter and bandleader Mark Nevin the sleeve notes include interviews with both Mark Nevin and singer Eddi Reader. Inclusive also of a bunch of rarely-heard 7" single B-sides (remember them!), this immense, and highly warranted 2-CD collection begins gently with the soothing sway of 'A Smile In A Whisper' and backs it with the aforementioned number one hit single, 'Perfect'. The finger-snappin' song that reached number one on the UK Singles Chart in 1988, even today when listened back to is as fresh-sounding, as joyous, as vibrant, as hopeful as it was back all those years ago.

The lovely, Irish storytelling behind 'Moon On The Rain' is next and is followed by both subtle mid-tempo 'Find My Love' and then the song from whence their name originated, 'Fairground Attraction'. The vocal range of Reader is brought to the fore on the beautiful 'The Wind Knows My Name', which is backed by the upbeat, New Orleans jazz flow of 'Clare', the laid back memories of 'Comedy Waltz', and then both another finger-snappin' track in 'The Moon Is Mine' and the slow burn of 'Station Street'. Next up, and rounding out the original album, are the love story pairing of both 'Whispers' and 'Allelujah'.

Bringing together a unique blend of folk, jazz, country, and cajun elements, and inclusive of ten songs intended for its follow-up (for, and sadly, this was the only album released by the band before their break-up in 1990), the bonus tracks on the first disc continue the Fairground Attraction vibe just perfectly. First we get 'Falling Backwards', then comes the beautiful 'Mythology', before the family struggles brought forth within 'Trying Times'. One of my own personal favorites is the upbeat, Latinesque vibe of 'Winter Rose' where the instruments are given the floor, Reader's vocals acting much like backing vocals.

For 'Ay Fond Kiss' we get back to the ethereal vocal performance stance from Reader, before heading into 'You Send Me', the guitar-flirty 'Watching the Party'. The first disc is this incredible double album then comes to a close with the haunting medieval lyrical flirtation of 'Jock O' Hazeldean' and then the slow blues and snare drum appeal of 'The Game of Love'.

The second disc opens with the under-two-minutes long, almost solo acoustic 'Mystery Train', before heading into a stunning Beatles cover, 'Do You Want to Know a Secret?' Wow, what a delightfully beautiful, just perfect rendition it is and not one I'd ever heard from them before now. Next up is a live snapshot of the band from their Japan dates ('The Waltz Continues', 'Don't Be a Stranger', 'Dangerous', 'I Know Why the Willow Weeps', 'Home to Heartache', 'Fear Is the Enemy of Love', 'Broken By a Breeze', 'Goodbye to Songtown' - before a select run of Demo's are loving remastered for our listening pleasure.

With their collective instrumentation mainly acoustic, but in part inclusive of a double bass and basic, non-intrusive rhythmic percussion, all overlaid by Nevin's tight, clean and distinctive guitar solos, those kick off with 'I May Never Be Queen', 'Prayer To St Valentine', 'Swing Trumpet' and then ebb seamlessly into 'Red Ribbon', 'Find My Love', 'Mythology' and 'Station Street'. This 19 track second disc then comes to a close with both 'The Moon Is Mine' and a stunning cover of American country music artist Patsy Cline's recorded 'Walking After Midnight (Version)'.

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Naked Radio'
Artist - Pink Fairies

For those not in the know, the Pink Fairies are an English rock band initially active in the London (Ladbroke Grove) underground and psychedelic scene of the early 1970s. They promoted free music, drug taking and anarchy and often performed impromptu gigs and other agitprop stunts, such as playing for free outside the gates at the Bath and Isle of Wight pop festivals in 1970, as well as appearing at Phun City, the first Glastonbury and many other free festivals including Windsor and Trentishoe.

Well, the wait for something new from the legendary Pink Fairies is now over, because they are releasing their brand new album - the first in over three decades - this January. Entitled Naked Radio and released via Gonzo Multimedia, it is the first studio recording by the majority of this line-up of the band since Kill Em and Eat Em in 1987.

Fronted by Andy Colquhoun, who shared guitar duties with Larry Wallis on this album and was also the legendary late Mick Farren’s long-time MD and collaborator in The Deviants, the band reformed in 2013. Joining Andy on guitar and echoing their original twin drummer line-up, is George Butler from the “Previously Unreleased” EP replacing the long-departed John Alder. Also featured is Brighton chanteuse and percussionist Jaki Windmill.

Indeed, the Pink Fairies also played a selected number of UK shows through 2014 and 2015 and now much to the excitement of Pink Fairies fans worldwide, the new album Naked Radio - which was brought together via a Pledge Music campaign - is now available to order.

1. Golden Bud
2. The Hills Are Burnin'
3. Runnin' Outa Road
4. When the Movie's All Thru
5. I Walk Away
6. You Lied to Me
7. Midnite Crisis
8. Stopped at the Border
9. Spellbound
10. Down to the Wire
11. Skeleton Army
12. Mick
13. Naked Radio
14. Deal Deal

In truth, this brand new album (their fifth studio album) from the Pink Fairies could also be simply construed as one mighty acid drop flashback to an era of music long gone, but it is so much more than that. For it is also a must-have for all true lovers of music. It is heartfelt, it is raw, and it is, for the most part, a musical showcase that defies time.

Having played a lot of these tracks live back in 2015 and 2016, the band have also fully admitted that out of all 14 of the tracks they like the title track 'Naked Radio' the best. And, to be quite fair, it does stand out as being one of the more fully rounded from the quintet.

Inclusive of three songs culled from the late Mick Farren-written lyrics - 'Naked Radio', 'Skeleton Army' and ' When the Movie's All Thru' (sung by Andy Colquhoun) - it's been 45 years since their very first studio album, nearly 30 years since their last album, and, well, it's as if they never left the recording studio. Sure their sound might not be as hectic as it once was, especially in the drumming department, but the Pink Fairies still know how to recreate a musical moment in time here on Naked Radio.

Drummer Russell Hunter has also admitted he doesn't think there will ever be another Pink Fairies album after this one so my advice would be to buy this new album, hopefully on its pink vinyl 2LP set via Pledge Music, put the needle down, and just let the wondrous spirit of upbeat, good-time rock and roll-fused psychedelia '70s sounds all sink (back) in.

'Naked Radio' - Official Video

Pledge Music Campaign Link

Title - 'NOW That's What I Call Music! Vol. 61'
Artist - Various

As expected as both snow and sun (well, at least here in Michigan) on a yearly basis, the world's best-selling, multi-artist series NOW That's What I Call Music! is back with its 61st edition. Although, if truth be told, the idea was stolen / borrowed from the UK, as they are on about their 90th version of the series, it just means they are now older than the US, that's all! [Which, in general, we all already knew!]

All that malarkey aside, 'NOW That's What I Call Music! 61' is yet another jam-packed 16 track party animal, including chart dance floor and ballad hits from THE biggest stars to hit our radios most recently. That and the fact that, as seems to be their own growing custom, Sony Music Entertainment have included as an added bonus six (6) new tracks from what they claim to be "hot up and coming artists!"

We kick-off with the BRILLIANT '24k Magic' from Bruno Mars, before heading into Maroon 5 featuring Kendrick Lamar's 'Don't Wanna Know', a cut that always gets me groovin' here in the office. Next up is 'Scars to Your Beautiful' from Alessia Cara, and that's backed by both 'Side To Side' from Arianna Grande featuring Nicki Minaj and DJ Snake featuring Justin Bieber on the highly addictive 'Let Me Love You'.

The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk with 'Starboy' is one of the true highlights here, and that's followed by 'Black Beatles' (Rae Sremmurd featuring Gucci Mane), 'Broccoli' (D.R.A.M. featuring Lil Yachty), and both 'Juju on that Beat' from Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall, and then the always-great-to-listen-to 'That's My Girl' from Fifth Harmony.

'All Time Low' from Jon Bellion is next, and that's backed by both 'In The Name Of Love' from Martin Garrix & Bebe Rexha and Hey Violet's fun rampage 'Guys My Age'. The massive hit single of the year 'Treat You Better' from the massive breakout artist of the year, Shawn Mendes is next, and then the hit parade comes to a close with both 'This Town' from Niall Horan and gnash featuring Olivia O'Brien on 'I Hate U, I Love U'.

The six (6) songs that now make up the end of this compilation, tracks that Sony Music Entertainment hope will be "tomorrow's biggest hits" are: Citizen Four with 'Testify', Dagny featuring BŘRNS on 'Fool's Gold', Jojo featuring Wiz Khalifa with the brilliant 'No Apologies', then come 'Burn Break Crash' (Aanysa X Snakehips), 'Alaska (Maggie Rogers), and the rather impressive 'Old School' from Urban Cone.

Title - 'NOW That's What I Call 90s Pop'
Artist - Various

This brand new CD collection of 'NOW That's What I Call 90s Pop' (not to be confused with the previously-released 'NOW That's What I Call The 90s' compilation from 2010, is a collection of what Sony believe to have been the best, brightest, longstanding with regard the chart test of life tracks by various artists.

Containing a superb mix of various well known, and oft times beloved pop songs from the 1990’s, this 18 song set is streamlined, sure, but at the same time just perfect to slip into your car CD player and let loose on - your roof top off, or simply all windows down.

We kick-off with one of the 90s all-time musical dancefloor champions, 'Gettin' Jiggy Wit It' from Will Smith, and that's backed by both '... Baby One More Time' from Britney Spears and then the stunning 'Genie In A Bottle' from Christina Aguilera.

Next up is Brandy & Monica's 'The Boy Is Mine' (more R&B flavored, but ok), and that is followed by 'Waterfalls' from TLC, 'Whatta Man' (from Salt-N-Pepa featuring En Vogue), 'Motownphilly' from Boyz II Men, and then both 'Posion' from Bell Bov Defoe and (a new one on me!) 'Rumpshaker' from Wreckx-N-Effect.

As you can see, this middle section of the release has definitely mined the R&B, Soul and Rap sections of the hit parade throughout that decade, and I can think of a whole bunch of other deserved, and real pop songs in said decade that could have replaced them, but Sony is stretching its wings far and wide over genres here to appease everyone - which I can understand, sure.

Next up is Bobby Brown's funky 'Humpin' Around' and that's backe dby one of the stand out tracks of that decade, let alone music in general, C+C Music Factory's mighty fine 'Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)'. Featuring Freedom Williams on vocals, it is still a massive song on the dance floor today.

Then comes 'This Is How We Do It' from Montell Jordan, before we leave that mid section of R&B, Soul and Rap for the more poppier side of the 90s, as Everything But The Girl's 'Missing (Todd Terry Remix) and Sheryl Crow's 'All I Wanna Do' (love the video for this track, due to her new hair style at that time) come forth.

The CD is then rounded out by the always-highly-fun, but quickly annoying 'MMMBop' from Hanson, Ricky Martin's brilliant Latin-flavored 'Livin' La Vida Loca', the New Kids On The Block with 'Step By Step', and then finally, bringing it all home just perfectly, the Backstreet Boys with 'I Want It That Way'.

Title - 'The Classics' [Sony Classical]
Artist - Hans Zimmer

For those not in the know, Hans Zimmer is a German composer and record producer. Since the 1980s, he has composed music for over 150 films. His works include The Lion King, for which he won Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1994, the Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Thin Red Line, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar.

Indeed, Zimmer spent the early part of his career in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States. He is the head of the film music division at DreamWorks studios and works with other composers through the company that he founded, Remote Control Productions.

For his brand new release, aptly entitled 'The Classics', Zimmer along with his label, Sony Classical chose some well-known artists from their roster and had them join the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for 12 “cues” – four minute or so pieces that formed themes in films like “Gladiator”, “The Dark Night”, “Man of Steel” (the Superman-related film without a John Williams score), “The Lion King” (the “This Land” theme, not the songs you hum), “Inception”, and “Interstellar”.

A daring, yet enterprising endeavor, whilst much of the music among the 12 tracks has a slow, classical rhythm, the excerpt from the “Interstellar” score builds and builds and then ... well, it abruptly ends! Being that it's actually also the last track on the album, it's much like the sound a recording would make if it ran out of tape!

A 58 minute journey into the mind, and soul of Hans Zimmer, 'The Classics' is an hours worth of pure, unadulterated, wordless music that - if you allow it to - will transport you through time and space. Also, it should be noted that the CD has an 8-page booklet, with three of the pages filled with brief notes on each track. Lovely.

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Title - 'Rockeando El Pavimento'
Artist - Lujuria

Lujuria are one of the hardest working bands from Spain! Hitting the road once more with a full slate of shows starting in early 2017, Lujuria will be bringing their brand new and specialized brand of erotically charged metal to the stage to play live also.

Indeed, the espańol band Lujuria (translated “Lust”) who formed in 1993 last brought out a full-length album in 2012 entitled Sexurrección, so this new one Rockeando El Pavimento (out now on Cleopatra Records) has been long awaited, of that have no doubt.

The album kicks off in high flying guitar style with 'Autopista', which for me is quite easily one of my favorite tracks on the album. The pace, the energy is amazing and even though they sing in Spanish, you kinda know what they are trying to lyrically say regardless. The English-sung 'Feel So High' could have been recorded in the heyday of metal, it's just that good too, and that's backed by both 'Bar Whisky Bar' and the dark 'Cabaret 11 AM'

Next up is the funky 'Caceria' which is followed by '24', the ballad 'Down', and then both the early NY punk sounds of 'Dr. Brujo' and the fast-paced speeding train of 'Desertor'. Containing a touch of G N' R, next up is the playful hipsway of 'Intravenus', which is backed by the guitar-lickin' 'Ira'. This rich album is then rounded out by the pop rock of 'Ritual', the thunderous rock of 'Viernes Oscuro' and then finally the scream and shout of 'Voltios'.

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Title - 'Burston'
Artist - Segregates

OK, for those not in the know, Segregates are a power trio (Smell - Bass; Dr. J. Horn - Guitar; and Filthy Deviant Bilo - Drum) out of the UK (York, if you would like to be more precise) whose debut album is a perfect fit for fans of Motörhead, punk, and chaos! Indeed, the band have already shared the stage with longtime Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell!

This incredible, and I don't use that word lightly here, Motörhead-inspired band/debut album kicks off with the ferocious 'Segreates', which is followed by the rock-pop metal sound of 'Rock 'N' Roll' and then the bass-led pairing of both 'Living Nightmare' and 'Miss 'B' Havin'.

The thunderous, and guitar-heavy 'Let Battle Commence' is one of my own personal favorites out of the eleven, but then it backs it up with another brilliant, enthusiastic track in 'Traitor Collaborator'. With a vibrating depth of bass line and some controlled speed drumming we next get 'Sweet Vengeance' and with none of the tracks being that long, 'Stay Awake' and 'Step Aside' are quickly up next.

The power chords never stop, the Motörhead vibe as strong, as honorable as it was at the start, and so it's no surprise to learn that 'No Regrets' sounds like its straight out of the Lemmy songbook from back in the day. Truly, no word of a lie. Just listen to it yourselves. Then both 'Turn It Loose' and the album closer, an actual Motörhead cover of 'Riding With The Driver' featuring Tim Atkinson on bass round out the musical adventure.

Trust me, once this album has finished, especially that last track, if you don't reach for your Motörhead vinyl LPs and throw them on, inspired by Segregates' incredible likeness, well, Lemmy will judge you thereafter, sorry!

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Title - 'Before I Forget: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Jon Lord

For those not in the know, and shame on you if you fall into that category, Jon Lord was an English composer, pianist, and Hammond organ player known for his pioneering work in fusing rock with classical or baroque forms, especially with Deep Purple, as well as Whitesnake, Paice Ashton Lord, The Artwoods, and The Flower Pot Men.

In 1968, Lord co-founded Deep Purple, a hard rock band of which he was regarded as the leader until 1970. Together with the other members, he collaborated on most of his band's most popular songs. He and drummer Ian Paice were the only continuous presence in the band during the period from 1968 to 1976, and also from when it was reestablished in 1984 until Lord's retirement from Deep Purple in 2002.

Following Deep Purple's split in 1976, Lord joined Whitesnake for their 1978 debut Trouble. Personally, Lord's time, along with drummer Cozy Powell has always been my favorite era of Whitesnake. I saw them live twice back in the UK with both Lord and Powell and Neil Murray and Bernie Marsden all combining to ensure that Coverdale's vocals were backed by an undercurrent of blues rock. It was an incredible time for the band, for the artists, and well before all that MTV pop-video song nonsense!

Anyway, I digress for Before I Forget was originally released on Harvest Records in June 1982, at around the very same time that Lord was moonlighting from said gig with Whitesnake. Featuring a highly impressive cast of supporting musicians, including Whitesnake's aforementioned Bernie Marsden and Neil Murray on guitar and bass respectively, drumming legends Ian Paice (Deep Purple and Whitesnake), the aforementioned drum God Cozy Powell (Jeff Beck, Rainbow, Whitesnake, MSG & Black Sabbath) and Simon Philips (Judas Priest, Jeff Beck, MSG, Mike Oldfield and Toto), Before I Forget has now been digitally remastered and turned into an Expanded Edition via Cherry Red Records in the UK.

1. 'Chance on a Feeling'
2. 'Tender Babes'
3. 'Hollywood Rock and Roll'
4. 'Bach Onto This'
5. 'Before I Forget'
6. 'Say It's All Right'
7. 'Burntwood'
8. 'Where Are You?'
9. 'Going Home (7" B-Side)'
10. 'Ravel's Pavane (Outtake)'
11. 'Bach Onto This (7" Single Edit)'
12. 'Lady'
13. 'For a Friend'

Before I Forget is an incredible album, featuring a largely conventional eight-song line-up, no orchestra, no huff no puff. In truth, the bulk of the songs are either mainstream rock tracks or, specifically on the vinyl flip side, a series of very English classical piano ballads (sung by mother and daughter duo, Vicki Brown and Sam Brown - wife and daughter of entertainer Joe Brown) along with vocalist Elmer Gantry.

The album starts with the free flowing Hammond Organ delight 'Chance On A Feeling' that showcases all that Lord was musically good at in one easy-going moment. The atmospheric 'Tender Babes' (especially at the start) is a cross between Christchurch at Dawn and a day out at a Renaissance Festival, and that's backed by the oh-so funky 'Hollywood Rock and Roll'. One of my own personal favorites here, the track is just a delight to hear and replay over and over.

'Bach Onto This' is the most orchestrated of any of the tracks, his Hammond organ playing taking him, and us to whole new levels of appreciation and wonderment. The longest track also, at a staggering eight minutes, it is backed by the title track itself, 'Before I Forget'. More gentle, forlorn piano work than electronic Hammond, Lord's soul is opened up on this cut, of that have no doubt. As aforementioned, this vinyl flip side tones down all that Hammond key play, especially here on 'Say It's All Right', his duet with Vicky Brown.

'Burntwood' is not like the others, as they say, for it is a stirring, sea swept encounter with Earth as could only ever be musically visualized through the eyes of Lord himself. From the very first key stroke to it's illuminating end, the track is one of the ages. The original album then comes to a close with 'Where Are You?' which features, in a renowned way also, not just my humble opinion, one of the best piano ballads ever. Containing a truly beautiful melody along with guest vocalist Elmer Gantry, it's a stunning way to bring the album to a close.

This Expanded Edition of Before I Forget continues onward with 'Going Home' (7" B-Side), a rather upbeat, soaring, and at times funky cut that shows us just how good B-Sides really were back in the day (FYI: It was the B-Side to 'Bach Onto This'). Myself, I loved B-Sides, for not many people ever flipped over their prized 7" single more than once to hear what else said artist might have had to say. Next up is the a beautiful, oh my God so beautiful 'Ravel's Pavane' (Outtake) which is as breathtakingly mesmerizing to listen to today as I'm sure it was back then.

Next up is 'Bach Onto This' (7" Single Edit), the delightfully playful 'Lady', and then this wonderful Before I Forget: Expanded Edition comes to a close with the near seven minute long piano ballad 'For A Friend.' Haunting as much as it is beautiful, the track is a true gem in and unto itself and fully deserves to be the culminating track here on this Expanded Edition.

FYI: The full color booklet contains contemporary photos from the release of the album and liner notes from bassist Neil Murray.

'Before I Forget: Expanded Edition' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Midnight Highway'
Artist - Quinn Sullivan

For those not in the know, and shame on you if you fall into that category, Quinn Sullivan is a 17 year-old American singer and guitarist from New Bedford, Massachusetts. He began taking guitar lessons at age three and went on to study his chosen profession with Brian Cass of The Overclock Orchestra and the Toe Jam Puppet Band as well as Stan Belmarce.

Indeed, the first original song he wrote with Chris Waters was titled "Sing, Dance, Clap Your Hands" which gave him the platform to garner his very first national media attention at age six when he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Things just got better and better for him as next he was asked by Buddy Guy to come up on stage and play during a performance at the Zeiterion Theater in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 2007.

His incredible ride didn't end there for Quinn then made a guest appearance on Buddy Guy's Grammy-nominated album Skin Deep. Released in 2008, his solo can be heard on the track “Who's Gonna Fill Those Shoes."

Along with having performed on stage with Buddy Guy as well, in July of 2009 he performed alongside B.B. King and in July of that same year he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He was also featured on NBC's The Today Show. Later that same year he opened for Buddy Guy on his East Coast tour, played his own set at the summer music festival Lollapalooza, and even had a slot on the Austin City Limits Festival that October.

His single, 'Summer of Love,' was released in 2009 with his debut album, Cyclone having come out in February 2011. He went on tour in the summer of that year with Buddy Guy to promote it. Going on to play such venues as both Austin City Limits Music Festival and BB King's Blues Club in New York City in 2011, he released his sophomore album Getting There in 2013, and now has brought out his third album, Midnight Highway via Provogue Records here in 2017.

Having listened to the previous two albums, it's easy to note that Quinn's songwriting and vocal delivery have both cultivated themselves, for the opening track 'Something For Me' is as raw, as down and dirty (vibe wise) as anything he's brought forth. The pop sense of 'Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming' runs in the opposite direction to that lead track, and that's backed by the dreamy mid-tempo guitar, title track ballad 'Midnight Highway.'

Some uptempo fun comes to the fore next in 'Crazy Into You', which actually manages to stand out here very nicely amongst a 13 track album of various lyrical strengths. The gentle guitar playing of 'Eyes For You' is an album filler, and 'Lifting Off' sounds like a '90s track from an up and coming British band. Another slow ballad is next in the form of 'She Gets Me', which is itself followed by the much better uptempo guitar fest 'Rocks', before we're back into ballad territory with 'Going.'

As you might well be able to distinguish for yourselves right around this point, Quinn seems to love his ballad abilities, and that's just fine, truly, but they are just storming the castle here - too many at too frequent a-times. For my money, and also from the words spoken to me by others that tuned into this CD listening experience here in the office, Quinn finds his musical mark on the blues rock sounds - both vocally and guitar wise. He is just so much more notably at home on those upbeat tracks, much more so than the contrived balladeer work.

Next up, and to prove my point, the brilliantly funky 'Graveyard Stone' picks the album off the floor and breathes life back into it, but that doesn't last for long as the piano-led 'Big Sky' instantly quietens things right back down again. A lovely track, sure, no question, but sandwiched between the rock of 'Graveyard Stone' and a (vocally stunning) cover of George Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', it's just an odd placement choice. The album then rounds out with some stand alone showcasing guitar work on 'Buffalo Nickel'.

Produced by multiple Grammy winner Tom Hambridge, who also does double duty as Quinn's studio and road drummer, this third album will stand the test of time, sure, but when Buddy Guy tells you to "go for it", well, I'm guessing he means take the genre by the tail and swing it as hard and as fast as possible to see what spills out! Quinn has still yet to do that here on Midnight Highway, but the signs are good that if he can follow through on Guy's words, that his future recordings will be taken very seriously.

'Midnight Highway' CD / LP / MP3 Purchase Links

Title - 'Womack Style'
Artist - Binky Womack

For those not in the know, and shame on you if you fall into that category, Womack Style is the latest album project from Binky Womack, a member of one of the most iconic music families of all time.

Binky has his own studio in Burbank, California (The Ear Hole Recording Studio) and acts as a producer to many top line artists. He also has a publishing company, Bindelari Music, which is represented by World Domination Music for the world excluding North America. Bindelari is also the vehicle for new acts such as Jae, as well as Binky's own material.

The majority of the songs found here on the eclectic Womack Style are originals by Binky. And so, with all instruments being played by him and overall production in his hands, this is truly “Womack Style” music.

First up is the hard funk groove of 'Sunday Morning', and that's followed by both the smooth R&B flow of 'Just Enough' and the methodical, staggered vocal harmonies of 'Nobody Loves Me Like You'. The rock edge of 'Me and My Guitar', a track that allows Binky to slip easily into other genres of music other than his comfort zone is next.

'Malibu Nights' recounts romantic nights with the sand beneath their feet, whilst the R&B, finger-clicking late night soul of 'Love Addict' shows yet another side to Binky. That's followed by both 'Must Be Nice' and then the hipsway sing-along 'When You're Wrong'.

Another superb showcase for Binky's voice, that's backed by my own personal favorite track on this album, the stunning, simply stunning 'Gravity'. The soulful R&B ballad 'I'm In Love' is next, and then the album comes to a close with a raucous pair of guitar-led, and uber pumped tracks: 'Love Is' and then, backed by some pulsating guitar work, 'Put Something Down on It'.

'Womack Style' CD Purchase Link

Binky Womack @ Twitter!

Title - 'Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works'
Artist - Max Richter

For those not in the classical know, Max Richter is a German-born, British composer who has spearheaded a renewed interest in neo-classical composition and the convergence of contemporary classical and alternative popular musical styles since the early 2000s.

Richter is classically trained, having graduated in composition from the Royal Academy of Music and studied with Luciano Berio in Italy, but he is influenced equally by punk and popular forms of electronic music.

One of my favorite Richter albums was The Blue Notebooks, which was his second solo album (2004), and where that lay somewhere between minimal music, movie soundtracks, ambient and trip-hop, two years back the acclaimed British composer then brought forth a new landmark recording: Sleep. If you recall, the entire album is eight hours long (ie: the equivalent of a nights rest) and is genuinely intended to send the listener to sleep. "It's an eight-hour lullaby," said its composer, Richter.

Now the uber talented Richter brings us yet another incredible musical outing with Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works via Deutsche Grammophon. His eighth solo album, Three Worlds presents the sort of compositions we've come to expect: a perfect blend of neo-classical and ambient, with electronics scattered throughout. But this time around, the album structure feels more coherent, more ordered than past efforts.

Perhaps this is because the music was written for a ballet that is centered around three of Virginia Woolf's novels. Regardless, Three Worlds is the sort of album that requires a listen-through from beginning to end. It passes through classical pieces of yearning to apprehensive electronics and concludes in the titanic closing track, which clocks in around 20 minutes too short (in my own humble opinion, of course).

In closing, Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works has been found to be rather excellent for relaxing around my home and even calming the atmosphere in my office at work. Richter's music is very mellow, soft, and easy to just drift off to. Consisting mostly of piano and strings, the music has a calming effect within it's simplicity. Others here in the aforementioned office have made comparisons to Michael Nyman and I would most certainly agree.

Title - 'Philip Glass: Piano Works'
Artist - Víkingur Ólafsson

For those not in the classical know, Philip Glass is an American composer and is considered one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century.

Glass's compositions have been described as minimal music, similar to other "minimalist" composers including La Monte Young, Steve Reich and Terry Riley. However, Glass has described himself instead as a composer of "music with repetitive structures", which he has helped evolve stylistically.

Víkingur Ólafsson is much sought-after by international conductors, orchestras and artists as both a chamber and concert musician. Now 32, he graduated in 2008 from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Robert McDonald, and has since released three albums on Dirrindí, the label he set up in 2009.

Last year he contributed two solo piano pieces and the Valse des fleurs for piano four hands to Deutsche Grammophon’s 30-CD Stravinsky Complete Edition. Ólafsson is also Artistic Director of the annual Reykjavík Midsummer Music festival, which he founded in 2012, and last year took over from Martin Fröst as curator of Sweden’s Vinterfest.

Now out via Deutsche Grammophon is an incredible set of works from Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, Philip Glass: Piano Works. Having signed an exclusive agreement with Ólafsson, Deutsche Grammophon had already announced they were looking to aid him in bringing out a wide "range of innovative recording projects" and this one most definitely falls squarely within that statement.

Phillip Glass: Piano Works is book-ended by two pieces from the Glassworks suite. As one listens to the opening track entitled "Openings", it is immediately clear that this is not your ordinary classical piano solo material. Instead it feels more abstract, definitely modern. Can classical music be modern? Absolutely. The album's closing track is confusingly also titled "Openings", and in fact is a reworked version of the same piece, this time featuring the Siggi String Quartet.

The 11 remaining tracks are from various "Etudes", and all but one is just Ólafsson. That one other track is "Etude No. 2" (track 3) and is, again a reworked version (by Christian Badzura) that also features the Siggi String Quartet. Complete with 13 tracks and a running time of @ 79 minutes, Philip Glass: Piano Works is a pure delight from start to finish. Well harnessed and restrained at just the right moments, this album of Philip Glass piano solos by one of the rising stars in the classical music world is a must have for any discerning collector of such musical ilks.

Title - 'Renée Fleming: Distant Light'
Artist - Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra & S. Oramo

For those not in the classical know, the uber talented Renée Fleming is an American opera singer and soprano whose repertoire encompasses Richard Strauss, Mozart, Handel, bel canto, lieder, French opera and chansons, jazz and indie rock.

Fleming has a full lyric soprano voice and has performed coloratura, lyric, and lighter spinto soprano operatic roles in Italian, German, French, Czech, and Russian, aside from her native English. She also speaks fluent German and French, along with limited Italian.

Her signature roles include Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, the title role in Dvořák's Rusalka, the title role in Massenet's Manon, the title role in Massenet's Thaďs, the title role in Richard Strauss's Arabella, the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, and the Countess in Capriccio.

This delightful, vibrant new release Distant Light finds her drive early on by placing her mark on Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915, op 24" (which at just over 15 minutes, was actually composed for another soprano in the mid 1950s), then flows beautifully into several compositions that truly sound composed specifically for her.

These are Anders Hillborg's "The Strand Setting" (20 minutes) and they truly allow Fleming to showcase her incredible musical attributes. Her voice is so professionally supported by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Sakamo Oramo. Indeed, and at this stage of her career, why not, but she seems so comfortable with herself and this improves the richness of her voice.

This stunningly-crafted album then rounds out with some classical arrangements of contemporary works from, of all unexpected artists, Björk. Taking on three of the Icelandic singer, songwriter, producer, DJ, and actress's works, she begins with "Virus", then comes "Jóga" (a stunning track in its own right, and the first single from her 1997 album Homogenic), and ends with "All Is Full of Love".

Fleming's artistic freedom to explore so much on one recording is stand up and applaud fantastic and the fact that Decca continually allows her (or commissions her even) is tantamount to creative genius - on both their parts.

Title - 'J. S. Bach: The Six Keyboard Partitas'
Artist - Charles Owen

For those not in the classical know, The Six Keyboard Partitas, BWV 825–830, are a set of six harpsichord suites written by Johann Sebastian Bach, published from 1726 to 1730 as Clavier-Übung I, and the first of his works to be published under his direction. They were, however, among the last of his keyboard suites to be composed, the others being the six English Suites, BWV 806-811 and the six French Suites, BWV 812-817.

In keeping with a nineteenth-century naming tradition that labelled Bach's first set of Suites English and the second French, the Partitas are sometimes referred to as the German Suites. This title, however, is a publishing convenience; there is nothing particularly German about the Partitas.

In comparison with the two earlier sets of suites, the Partitas are by far the most free-ranging in terms of structure. Unlike the English Suites, for example, wherein each opens with a strict prelude, the Partitas feature a number of different opening styles including an ornamental Overture and a Toccata.

OK, history lesson now over, here on J. S. Bach: The Six Keyboard Partitas (a 2CD set, out now thru AVIE Records), Pianist Charles Owen takes it upon himself to breathe new life into these Partitas' - and, it has to be said, the man recognized as one of the finest British pianists of his generation undertakes a task that he also shines throughout on.

With an extensive series of performances and recordings to his name, Owen is one of those rare pianists who plays all he undertakes in a manner that denotes his passion to his craft in stunning gravitas. “I have only once in my life listened to all six Partitas played on a single evening, [and] the sense of a journey, of being on a pilgrimage, was extraordinary.” So says pianist Charles Owen regarding this set of compositions by J. S. Bach that are amongst the greatest literature for the keyboard.

CD 1 (70.02)
Partita No. 1 in B-Flat Major, BWV 825 (18.42)
1. I. Praeludium (1.57)
2. II. Allemande (3.17)
3. III. Corrente (2.55)
4. IV. Sarabande (5.26)
5. V. Menuets I & II (2.55)
6. VI. Gigue (2.14)

Partita No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 826 (19.48)
7. I. Sinfonia (4.34)
8. II. Allemande (4.22)
9. III. Courante (2.21)
10. IV. Sarabande (3.22)
11. V. Rondeaux (1.33)
12. VI. Capriccio (3.36)

Partita No. 4 in D Major, BWV 828 (30.51)
13. I. Ouverture (5.44)
14. II. Allemande (8.36)
15. III. Courante (3.14)
16. IV. Aria (2.11)
17. V. Sarabande (5.35)
18. VI. Menuet (1.33)
19. VII. Gigue (3.58)

CD 2 (72.58)
Partita No. 3 in A Minor, BWV 827 (19.47)
1. I. Fantasia (1.57)
2. II. Allemande (3.35)
3. III. Corrente (2.57)
4. IV. Sarabande (4.12)
5. V. Burlesca (2.26)
6. VI. Scherzo (1.15)
7. VII. Gigue (3.25)

Partita No. 5 in G major, BWV 829 (20.13)
8. I. Praeambulum (2.22)
9. II. Allemande (4.05)
10. III. Corrente (1.39)
11. IV. Sarabande (4.24)
12. V. Tempo di Minuetto (1.53)
13. VI. Passepied (1.43)
14. VII. Gigue (4.07)

Partita No. 6 in E Minor, BWV 830 (32.53)
15. I. Toccata (7.39)
16. II. Allemande (3.41)
17. III. Corrente (4.39)
18. IV. Air (1.21)
19. V. Sarabande (7.11)
20. VI. Tempo di Gavotta (2.13)
21. VII. Gigue (6.09)

Title - 'Rhapsodie: 20th-Century Clarinet Classics'
Artist - Todd Levy & Jeannie Yu

Grammy Award-winning clarinetist Todd Levy, who holds the principal chairs with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Santa Fe Opera, presents Rhapsodie: 20th-Century Clarinet Classics, an astonishing array of classic 20th century works for his instrument.

The rich palette of colors and immense versatility of the clarinet is on full display in impressionistic Debussy and Ravel, Cubanisto-style Bernstein, pastoral Finzi, the folk idioms of Bartok, klezmer inspiration by Bela Kovacs, blues-infected Libby Larsen and genre-bending Paquito DRivera.

Joined by Jeannie Yu, herself an uber talented soloist and collaborative artist who has performed on WQXR in New York, WOI in Des Moines, IPR in Interlochen, WFMT in Chicago, and numerous chamber music series such as the Northwestern University Winter Chamber Music Series, the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music North, Three Bridges Chamber Music Festival, Frankly Music Series, Chamber Music Milwaukee, MidSummers Music, and the Rembrandt Chamber Players Series in Chicago of which she is a member, and both Rene Izquierdo (guitar) and Elena Abend (piano), Rhapsodie: 20th-Century Clarinet Classics is an incredible album of music that all fans of such musical ilk need to rush out to buy, trust me.

Principal clarinetist Todd Levy's fluid tone and expressive phrasing is paramount, front and center throughout here and deservedly so. For on this brand new CD from AVIE Records, the classical music world gets yet another compelling amount of musical evidence that there is still life to be found in the old works - more so, if you have the right people to hand to bring it forth.

Title - 'Works by Franck, Kurtág, Previn, Schumann'
Artist - Augustin Hadelich and Joyce Yang

For those not in the classical know, Grammy Award-winner Augustin Hadelich has established himself as one of the great violinists of his generation. He has performed with every major orchestra in the U.S., many on numerous occasions, as well as an ever-growing number of major orchestras in the UK, Europe, and the Far East. He is consistently cited for his phenomenal technique, poetic sensitivity, and gorgeous tone.

Joyce Yang is a classical pianist who first gained international renown during the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, in which she was awarded the silver medal. Just 19 years old, Yang was the competition's youngest participant at the time and during the same competition, Joyce was also awarded both the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for Best Performance of Chamber Music, as well as the Beverley Taylor Smith Award for the Best Performance of a New Work.

Here on the just-released Works by Franck, Kurtág, Previn, Schumann both the Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich and superb Pianist Joyce Yang come together to produce a plethora of pyrotechnics and an abundance of musical imagination.

This unique recital program pairs two 19th-century repertory staples – Sonatas by Franck and Schumann – with 20th-century fare by Kurtág and Previn, a combination Augustin and Joyce have performed to widespread acclaim in their frequent joint performances.

André Previn (b.1929)
Tango Song and Dance
1. I. Tango: Passionately (5:20)
2. II. Song: Simply (4:41)
3. III. Dance: Jazz feeling (5:39)

Robert Schumann (1810–1856)
Sonata No.1 in A minor, Op.105
4. I. Mit leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck (7:35)
5. II. Allegretto (3:47)
6. III. Lebhaft (5:30)

György Kurtág (b.1926)
Tre Pezzi, Op.14e
7. Öd und traurig (3:13)
8. Vivo (1:16)
9. Aus der Ferne (2:29)

César Franck (1822–1890)
Sonata in A major
10. I. Allegretto ben moderato (6:01)
11. II. Allegro (8:16)
12. III. Ben moderato: Recitative-Fantasia (7:31)
13. IV. Allegretto poco mosso (6:02)

With a total running time of 67:27, Works by Franck, Kurtág, Previn, Schumann by Augustin Hadelich and Joyce Yang is one of those albums that, if you are in love with the musical ilk, will have you hitting replay every time the music climaxes. This album of classical revisions is just that good, trust me.

Title - 'Brahms: String Sextets, Live'
Artist - Cypress String Quartet

For those not in the classical know, the Cypress String Quartet are a professional classical chamber music ensemble founded in San Francisco, California in 1996.

Sadly though, the quartet - Cecily Ward, violin; Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello - announced early in 2016 that they would be disbanding in the summer of that same year after 20 fulfilling years of performing together. Indeed, a Farewell Concert was presented by the Cypress at the Green Room of the War Memorial Building on June 26th, 2016.

As a culmination of the group’s work together, the Cypress’s recording of the complete Beethoven String Quartets was released on AVIE Records in May 2016, but now - and heralding the Cypress's 20th anniversary as well as the group's valedictory season (2016), AVIE Records has brought out Brahms: String Sextets, Live Recording that couples the Cypress along with both Barry Shiffman (viola) and Zuill Bailey (cello).

With this final album, the Cypress completes its remarkable legacy in an innovative flourish, recording the two Brahms Sextets in both high-resolution digital and analogue formats, live before a studio audience at Skywalker Sound, where they shared the Scoring Stage with the aforementioned long-time friends and collaborators Barry Shiffman (viola) and Zuill Bailey (cello).

For me, it's Ms. Jennifer Kloetzel that stand out here, for not only being noted for her elegant playing throughout her career, it's the way she digs deep, exploring each and every musical curve as if it were to be her last chance to. Cellist Kloetzel has concertized throughout the United States, Europe and Asia and being a founding member of the Cypress String Quartet, she, along with her band of merry men, bring forth on 'Brahms: String Sextets, Live Recording a stunning take on Johannes Brahms's "String Quartet No. 1 in B Flat Op. 18" and "String Quartet No. 2 in G Op. 36".

[For fans that want to go deeper into this recording, the CD booklet includes original Program Notes by Jan Swafford.]

Title - 'The St. James' Recital'
Artist - Stephen Tharp

For those not in the classical know, Stephen Tharp is an American organist, and has been notged as being "one of the most brilliant concert organists around these days."

Additionally, he has given masterclasses at Yale University, Westminster Choir College, Cleveland Institute of Music, and other venues, as well as served on jurys for competitions at Juilliard and Northwestern University. Tharp has recorded numerous CDs, including the complete organ works of Jeanne Demessieux, which won him the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

From 1995 to 1997, he was the organist at St. Patrick's Cathedral. From 1998 to 2002, he was Associate Organist at St. Bartholomew's. During the 2013/2014 season, he was Artist-in-Residence at the Grace Church in Manhattan.

In 2008, Tharp was appointed as the official organist for the New York visit of Pope Benedict XVI. Tharp is listed in the Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. He was also featured in a number of full programs on American Public Media's Pipedreams. In addition, he was awarded the 2011 International Performer of the Year by the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

In addition to being a composer and transcriber in his own right, Tharp is a frequent performer of modern works, having premiered works by Philip Moore, Anthony Newman, Thierry Escaich, and others.

Phew! Well, enough about the talented Mr. Tharp and let's get into his new recording now out via Acis Records, The St. James' Recital. An incredible recital that showcases the artist and his instrument (the magnificent Schoenstein organs at St James, Madison Avenue, New York City), along with Schoenstein & Co. Organs, the recording is simply magnificent.

1. Suite pour orgue, Op. 5: No. 3, Toccata (7:32)
2. Prelude on 'Iam Sol Recedit Igneus' (11:56)
3. Toccata and Fuga Sinfonica on B.A.C.H.: No. 1, Toccata (2:45)
4. Toccata and Fuga Sinfonica on B.A.C.H.: No. 2, Fuga (5:28)
5. Die Walkure, WWV 86B: "Wotan's Farewell" / "Magic Fire Music" (Arr. for Organ) (14:02)
6. Danse Diabolique (5:26)
7. Scherzo in G Minor, Op. 49: No. 2, Allegro (5:51)
8. La valse, M. 72 (11:39)

Being also that this is a World Premiere Live Recording, listening to The St. James' Recital takes on a whole new level of interest. From Marice Durufle's work of "Toccata", on to Richard Wagner's "Wotan's Farewell", through to both George Baker's "Danse Diabolique" and Maurice Ravel's album closing "La Valse", Tharp's musical magic is woven majestically throughout.

Title - 'Aida'
Artist - Aida Garifullina and Cornelius Meister and RSO

For those not in the classical know, Aida Garifullina is a Russian operatic soprano of Tatar origin. She was the winner of the 2013 Operalia competition and has featured in a number of productions staged at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg and the Wiener Staatsoper.

Indeed, Garifullina's career received a significant boost when she won first prize in the aforementioned Operalia 2013. At the contest, there were arias of Nanetta ("Falstaff"), Snow Maiden (the “Snow Maiden”), Susanna ("Le nozze di Figaro"), and Juliet ("Montagues and Capulets" Bellini). In October of that same year she was awarded the title "Honored Artist of the Republic of Tatarstan" and a Commendation Certificate of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan.

During 2013 and 2014 she was featured in a number of prominent performances, alongside the likes of Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Dmitry Hvorostovsky. In 2014 she performed at the Rosenblatt Recitals held at the Wigmore Hall, London and in 2015 she signed a recording contract with Decca Records.

Indeed, since the beginning of the 2014/2015 season, she has been an ensemble member of the Vienna State Opera. Her debut album of music, the self-titled Aida is a simply stunning work of musical art and showcases Aida's soaring vocals with tremendous clarity and smooth transition of notes. Simply put, this is an extraordinary album and deserves to be heard by lovers of classical music, of her, and of music in general.

Aida was just released on Feb 3rd, 2017 via Decca Records and includes music by Gonoud, Delibes, and from Russian composers Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. With a running time of 58:51 it also includes music from anonymous composers and has Cornelius Meister as conductor along with the RSO-Wien symphonieorchester.

Personally, I first got introduced to Aida via her work on the 'Florence Foster Jenkins' soundtrack, where she performs a stunningly beautiful version of "Delibes: The Bell Song". [She ALSO portrayed the French-American soprano star Lily Pons in the film, for those playing along at home]. Oh, and for the record, actors Meryl Streep and Simon Helberg follow it up with their own version on that track-listing, but nothing beats Aida's version - sorry, Meryl.

In closing, it has to be noted that Aida Garifullina's vocals, looks, attitude are all top notch and here work here on Aida will make the hairs stand up on your arms. She is as equally talented as she is beautiful and commands that as much truth and verve are embroiled evenly within every note she brings forth, each and every time.

Title - 'Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon'
Artist - Mstislav Rostropovich

For those not in the classical know, Mstislav Leopoldovich "Slava" Rostropovich was a Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor and considered to be one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. In addition to his interpretations and technique, he was well known for both inspiring and commissioning new works, which enlarged the cello repertoire more than any cellist before or since.

Indeed, he inspired and premiered over 100 pieces, forming long-standing friendships and artistic partnerships with composers including Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Henri Dutilleux, Witold Lutosławski, Olivier Messiaen, Luciano Berio, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Norbert Moret, Andreas Makris and Benjamin Britten.

Rostropovich was internationally recognized as a staunch advocate of human rights, and was awarded the 1974 Award of the International League of Human Rights. He was married to the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya and had two daughters, Olga and Elena Rostropovich.

In March 2017, Mstislav Rostropovich would have turned 90. To celebrate this anniversary of one of the greatest cellists of all time, Deutsche Grammophon presents this truly encyclopaedic box-set which, for the first time, brings together Slavas complete recordings for Decca, Philips, and the Yellow Label (as cellist, pianist & conductor).

Entitled Rostropovich - Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon, this incredible 37CD set is as good as it gets, truly. With the collective highlights including the legendary 1968 Dvorak Cello Concerto with Herbert von Karajan, no less than three versions of the Schubert String Quintet (with Taneyev, Emerson & Melos) and famed recordings he made with Martha Argerich, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Benjamin Britten, Sviatoslav Richter and Rudolf Serkin, also included is perhaps what was his most fulfilled musical partnership, that with his wife, the great Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, whom he accompanied as both conductor (Tosca, Pique Dame) and pianist.

As a cellist, Rostropovich played a vast repertory that included works written for him by some of the 20th century’s greatest composers. Indeed, here on the Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon, Rostropovich showcases how he was able to make his cello sing in an extraordinary range of musical accents. In the big Romantic showpieces, he dazzles listeners with both his richly personalized interpretations and a majestic warmth of tone. His graceful accounts of, for example, the Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello illuminated the works’ structural logic as well as their inner spirituality.

But for my money, he was at his most eloquent, and also his most freewheeling, in Russian music, particularly in the symphonies of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Man, just listening to them today makes the hair still stand up on my arms and neck. Funnily enough, and whilst listening to the beautiful, stirring music within this stunning box-set, I also just learned that Rostropovich became famous beyond musical circles as a symbol of artistic conscience and his defiance of the Soviet regime. A man of many talents, many means, and many beliefs, for sure.

Aside from the fact that Warner has a competing box of Rostropovich's EMI and Warner recordings (40 CDs, 3 DVDs) entitled Mstislav Rostropovich - Cellist of the Century - The Complete Warner Recordings, the virtue of these recordings here on Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon by Rostropovich have been extolled for decades. So, for my money, this is the definitive best of Rostropovich in one place. What a deal! Buy it now. You won't regret it.

In this box-set you will find thirty (3) CDs (all stereo) recorded between 1960 and 2002: Deutsche Grammophon (23), Decca (4) and Philips (3) with Rostropovich the cellist on seventeen of the CDs. Rostropovich the conductor is on eleven CDs (including two complete operas) and you even get two (2) CDs of Rostropovich the pianist, accompanying his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya in Russian songs.

They are all housed in slim cardboard jackets that all come with modified "original jacket" formats (ie: LP artwork on the front, but no program notes on the back, just track-listings). Also included are seven (7) CDs of Soviet Melodiya recordings (six mono, one stereo) originally licensed to Westminster Records and a 74 page booklet with index.

CD1 SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A minor, op.129 TCHAIKOVSKY: Rococo Variations Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky

CD2 DVORAK: Cello Concerto in B minor, op.104 TCHAIKOVSKY: Rococo Variations Berliner Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan

CD3 GLAZUNOV: Chant du ménéstrel, op.71 SHOSTAKOVICH: Cello Concerto no.2, op.126 Boston Symphony Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa

CD4 BOCCHERINI: Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major G 479 VIVALDI: Cello Concerto in C major, RV 398 TARTINI: Cello Concerto in A major VIVALDI: Cello Concerto in G major, RV 413 Collegium Musicum Zürich/Paul Sacher

CD5 SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C major, D 956 Melos Quartet/Rostropovich (2nd cello)

CD6 CHOPIN: Cello Sonata op.65 SCHUMANN: Adagio & Allegro in A flat, op.70 CHOPIN: Introduction & Polonaise brillante in C major, op.3 Martha Argerich

CD7 BRAHMS: Cello Sonatas No.1 op. 38 & No.2 op.99 Rudolf Serkin

CD8 BEETHOVEN: String Trios op.3, 8 & 9/1-3 Anne-Sophie Mutter/Bruno Giuranna

CD9 BEETHOVEN: String Trios op.3, 8 & 9/1-3 Anne-Sophie Mutter/Bruno Giuranna

CD10 SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C major, D 956 Emerson String Quartet/Rostropovich (2nd cello)

CD11 MESSIAEN: Concert ŕ quatre Catherine Cantin/Heinz Holliger/Yvonne Loriod /Orchestre de l’Opéra Bastille/ Myung-Whun Chung BERNSTEIN: 3 Meditations from “Mass” Israel Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein

CD12-13 BEETHOVEN: Cello Sonatas 1-5 Sviatoslav Richter

CD14 BRITTEN: Cello Sonata in C major, op.65 SCHUMANN: 5 Stücke im Volkston DEBUSSY: Cello Sonata Benjamin Britten

CD15 BRITTEN: Cello Symphony op.68 HAYDN: Cello Concerto in C major (Cadenzas: Britten) English Chamber Orchestra/Benjamin Britten

CD16 BRITTEN: Cello Suites No.1 op.72 & No.2 op.80 Benjamin Britten

CD17 SCHUBERT: Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D 821 BRIDGE: Cello Sonata Benjamin Britten

CD18 RACHMANINOV: Cello Sonata in G minor, op.19 CHOPIN: Introduction and Polonaise brillante for Cello and Piano in C major, op.3 RACHMANINOV: Vocalise op.34/14 (version for cello and piano) SCHUBERT: Impromptu in G flat major D 899/3 (transcribed for cello and piano by Jascha Heifetz & Mstislav Rostropovich) SCHUMANN: Kinderszenen op.15: Nr. 7 Träumerei (version for cello and piano) Alexander Dedyukhin

CD19-20 HAYDN: Piano Trio in G minor, Hob. XV: 19 BEETHOVEN: Piano Trio in E flat major, WoO38 SCHUMANN: Piano Trio no. 1 in D minor, op.63 HAYDN: Piano Trio in D major, Hob. XV: 16 BEETHOVEN: Piano Trio in B flat major, op.97 “Archduke” Emil Gilels/Leonid Kogan

CD21 FAURÉ: Piano Quartet No.1 in C minor, op.15 Emil Gilels/Leonid Kogan/Rudolf Barshai

CD22 SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C major, D 956 Taneyev Quartet/Rostropovich (2nd cello)

CD23 SAINT-SAËNS: Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, op. 33 Symphony Orchestra of the All-Union Radio/Gregory Stolyarov SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto in A minor, op.129 Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Samuil Samosud GLAZUNOV: Chant du Ménestrel op.71 Moscow Youth Symphony Orchestra/Kyril Kondrashin

CD24 CHOPIN: Introduction & Polonaise brillante in C major, op.3 GRANADOS: Goyescas: Intermezzo Alexander Dedyukhin BORODIN: Prince Igor: Dance of the Polovtsian Maidens Naum Walter PROKOFIEV: Cinderella: Adagio POPPER: Elfentanz, op.39 Alexander Dedyukhin R. STRAUSS: Stimmungsbilder, op.9: No.2 An einsamer Stelle SCHUMANN: Stücke im Volkston, op.102: 4, 1, 3 Vladimir Yampolsky HANDEL: „Dettingen“ Te Deum in D, HWV 283: Vouchsafe, O Lord Naum Walter PAGANINI: Moto perpetuo, op.11 Vladimir Yampolsky

CD25 SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto in A minor, op.54 CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor, op.21 Martha Argerich/National Symphony Orchestra of Washington

CD26 TCHAIKOVSKY: “Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Lake” Suites Berliner Philharmoniker

CD27 TCHAIKOVSKY: “Nutcracker” Suite, Andante cantabile op.11, Capriccio Italien op.45 Berliner Philharmoniker

CD28 SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5 in D minor, op.47 National Symphony Orchestra of Washington

CD29 PROKOFIEV: Romeo & Juliet Suites nos. 1 & 2, op.64 National Symphony Orchestra of Washington

CD30 RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor, op.30 PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No.3 in C major, op.26 Mikhail Pletnev/Russian National Orchestra

CD31-32 PUCINI: Tosca Galina Vishnevskaya/Franco Bonisolli/Matteo Manuguerra/Orchestre National de France

CD33-35 TCHAIKOVSKY: Pique Dame Gougaloff/Vishnevskaya/Resnik/Weikl/Iordachescu/Schwarz/Popp/Choeur Tchaikovsky/Maîtrise de Radio France/Orchestre National de France

CD36 RACHMANINOV: Songs op.26/12, 4/4, 34/8, 14/11, 34/14 GLINKA: Somnenie, Ja pomnju cudnoe mgnoven’e, Kak sladko s toboju mne byt, K nej, Tol’ko uznal ja tebja, Venecianskaja noc, Zavoronok, Barkarola Galina Vishnevskaya

CD37 MUSSORGSKY: Songs & Dances of Death TCHAIKOVSKY: Songs, op.6/6, 2, 1 PROKOFIEV: 5 Songs to Poems of Akhmatova, op.27 Galina Vishnevskaya

Title - 'Emmet Cahill's Ireland'
Artist - Emmet Cahill

For those not in the know, over the past four years, Emmet Cahill’s life has been transformed from a young man pursuing a career in classical music to being plunged into the world of touring across cities and performing to thousands of fans with world renowned Irish music show Celtic Thunder.

After three years of phenomenal success, including three albums shooting to number 1 on the world billboard charts, in 2015 Emmet decided to carve out his own unique identity as a solo artist. Now here in 2017 and he has just released the simply stunning, heartfelt 11 track musical wonderment Emmet Cahill's Ireland via Legacy Recordings.

Emmet Cahill's Ireland is a collection of Irish classics that have been passed down from generation to generation from celebrated Irish tenor and member of Celtic Thunder Emmet Cahill. Indeed, the album offers the very best of the traditional Irish repertoire with song selections including: "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen," "An Irish Lullaby," "My Cavan Girl," "Macushla," and more.

"Some songs people will recognize", Cahill himself admits, "but there will definitely be a few unexpected numbers in there. I’m in a creative process at the moment of finding the sound that really represents me well and will suit me best going forward."

With a running time of just 39 minutes, the album isn't going to take up too much of your time but trust me when I say that once you have heard it in full, you will be replaying it quite a few times thereafter. Tracks that stand out for me personally are both "Sweet Sixteen" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling", but another incredible retelling is the age-old "Danny Boy". Wow, does Cahill reinvent the soul, the depth, the heart behind this one track or what.

For here in Emmet Cahill's Ireland the former lead singer for the iconic Irish band Celtic Thunder has nailed each and every song as if he had simply set out to record new tracks from scratch. Each one is poignant to the point that his vocal manner showcases his talent in such a crisp, clean way you could swear he wrote the damn songs!

1. "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" 2. "An Irish Lullaby" 3. My Cavan Girl" 4. "Macushia" 5. Sweet Sixteen" 6. Danny Boy" 7. "Oft in the Stilly Night" 8. "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" 9. "Wild Mountain Thyme" 10. The West's Awake" 11. "The Parting Glass".

Emmet Cahill @ Facebook!

Emmet Cahill @ Twitter!

Title - 'Harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together'
Artist - Harry Belafonte

For those not in the know, Harry Belafonte is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and social activist. One of the most successful African-American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s.

His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) is the first million selling LP by a single artist. Indeed, Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing "The Banana Boat Song", with its signature lyric "Day-O". He has recorded in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards. He has also starred in several films, most notably in Otto Preminger's hit musical Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957) and Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

The Legacy Of Harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together is an essential single-disc anthology of Harry Belafonte's biggest hits and timeless classics. Just released via Legacy Recordings, it also includes a new re-recording of one of the great pop standards in the Belafonte catalog, "Island In The Sun" entitled "When Colors Come Together (Our Island In The Sun)," performed by a children's choir.

With each track handpicked by Harry Belafonte, When Colors Come Together provides a complete overview of his musical career, bringing together his biggest hits and most socially conscious performances alongside songs that are simply near and dear to his heart.

1. "When Colors Come Together (Our Island in the Sun)"
2. "Jump in the Line"
3. "Banana Boat (Day-O)"
4. "All My Trials"
5. "Empty Chairs"
6. "Matilda"
7. "Angelina"
8. "Turn the World Around"
9. "Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)"
10. "Abraham, Martin and John"
11. "On Top of Old Smokey
12. "Jamaica Farewell"
13. "Brown Skin Girl"
14. "Island in the Sun"
15. "Those Three Are on My Mind"
16. "Try to Remember"
17. "Mary's Boy Child"
18. "Look Over Yonder / Be My Woman, Gal (Live)"
19. "Pastures of Plenty (Live)"

Released in advance of Harry Belafonte’s 90th birthday on March 1st, 2017, and with the singer's son, David Belafonte, as the executive producer of the anthology, The Legacy Of Harry Belafonte: When Colors Come Together is a truly stunning work of musical art.

Sure you all probably know the songs by now, but just the new version of the title track "When Colors Come Together (Our Island in the Sun)” is enough to make this new collection something special. Co-written by Belafonte and Irving Burgie, you might recall that the original served as the title song from the controversial 1957 film Island in the Sun.

Reflecting on his song choices over the course of his career, Belafonte himself says, “I often looked for songs that were easy to sing and melodies that were easy to hum because I felt those songs endured longer with audiences who heard them. Sure enough, that idea had value because a lot of times people remember the songs, sing the lyrics, refer to them."

"I found that the more diverse my songs were and the more I sang the songs closely related to the cultures from which these songs came, the more that culture, that community, that place in the world gravitated towards what it was that I did.”

Harry Belafonte @ Facebook!

Harry Belafonte @ Twitter!

Title - 'Tanna (Original Score)'
Artist - Antony Partos

'Tanna' is a 2015 Australian-Vanuatuan film set on the island of Tanna in the South Pacific, depicting the true story of a couple who decided to marry for love, rather than obey their parents' wishes. In some ways similar to Romeo and Juliet, the movie is based on an actual marriage dispute.

The film won the Audience Award Pietro Barzisa at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival. It was also selected as the Australian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards, and was nominated for the award in January 2017.

Composed by Antony Michael Partos, an Australian film and TV composer who specializes in creating scores that blend both acoustic and electronic elements with a mix of world musical instruments, the soundtrack is now available for all to own via Lightyear Entertainment.

With Partos's other feature film credits including Animal Kingdom (AFI Award for Best Feature Score), The Rover, Disgrace, The Home Song Stories (AFI Award for best feature score) and Unfinished Sky (AFI Award for best feature score), this quite delightful, heartfelt and poignant album of sweeping music begins with the floating "First Love" and quickly steps up the tension within the pipe-laden "Hidden Enemy". Next comes the lush ambiance of "The Secret", the stirring "Enemy Territory", the emphatic "The Volcano", and then both "The Spirit Awakens" and vast wasteland's vibe of "Taboo".

With a running time of 25:29, 'Tanna' may not be the longest album of original score work, but it is one of the most spacial aware, if that have no doubt. For the way in which composer Antony Partos creates his cinematic soundscapes are, one by one, both alluring and masterful. 'Tanna' continues on with "Abscond", the haunting "Reunion", and then rounds out with both the eerie "Hostile Land" and "Death Beckons".

1. 'First Love' (1:14)
2. 'Hidden Enemy' (0:22)
3. 'The Secret' (0:42)
4. 'Enemy Territory' (1:32)
5. 'The Volcano' (4:56)
6. 'The Spirit Awakens' (2:09)
7. 'Taboo' (3:26)
8. 'Abscond' (1:27)
9. 'Reunion' (2:54)
10. 'Hostile Land' (1:53)
11. 'Death Beckons' (4:54)

'Tanna' @ Facebook!

'Tanna' Movie Trailer

Title - 'Planets + Persona'
Artist - Richard Barbieri

For those not in the know, Richard Barbieri is an English synthesizer player, keyboardist and composer. Originally coming to prominence in the late-1970s and early-1980s as a member of new wave pioneers Japan (and their brief 1989–1990 reincarnation as Rain Tree Crow), more recently he is known as the keyboard player in the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree, of which he has been a member since 1993.

Personally, I am a HUGE fan of EVERYTHING that Japan EVER did! There, got that out into the open now. As aforementioned, Barbieri started his musical career with the group Japan in 1974. Within a year the band was signed to the Hansa/Ariola label and began work on a debut album.

Although initially perceived as a "hyped" band, Japan went on to record five studio albums culminating in the groundbreaking Tin Drum which stayed in the UK Albums Chart for a year. They were one of the most successful chart bands in Europe and Asia in 1982 despite the increasingly experimental nature of their music.

Now Barbieri is about to unleash a brand new, and highly anticipated album, Planets + Persona via Kscope Records on March 17th, 2017. Having now listened to it twice through, these seven (7) stellar tracks are as expansive, as indepth, as heartfelt as anything Barbieri has orchestrated into his work in a long time.

Planets + Persona is the third Barbieri solo album, but the first to feature such an incredible wide ranging scope of instrumentation. Vintage analogue synthesizers combine with acoustic performances and jazz elements and add in some contorted vocals (though they are never anything one can truly discern ie: language), and Barbieri's skillful compositions are bound to entice you to hit replay.

1. "Solar Sea" (7:30)
2. "New Found Land" (7:17)
3. "Night Of The Hunter" (10:44)
4. "Interstellar Medium" (5:38)
5. "Unholy" (8:58)
6. "Shafts Of Light" (6:39)
7. "Solar Storm" (6:22)

Planets + Persona uses Barbieri's unique take on synthesized sounds and gels them smoothly with organic instrumentation to create vivid, colorful and all-encompassing soundscapes for the listener on each of the seven enterprisingly tactile tracks.

Recorded in London, Italy and Sweden, this is truly Barbieri’s most ambitious solo work to date with a central theme of duality that runs through the album. The title itself, Planets and Persona alludes to this, and the dialectic theme is a constant throughout the contrasting and shape-shifting sounds of the album.

Richard Barbieri @ Facebook!

'Planets + Persona' Purchase Page

Title - 'Passion'
Artist - Buzz Cason

For those not in the know, Buzz Cason is an American rock singer, songwriter, producer and author and was a founding members of The Casuals, Nashville's first rock and roll band. Together with Richard Williams and Hugh Jarrett of The Jordanaires he recorded as The Statues for Liberty and in 1960, Cason started a solo career under the pseudonym Garry Miles, and had a number 16 hit in 1960 with "Look For A Star".

So, and as much as you still may not know who Buzz Cason is you've definitely heard his songs down the years, of that be sure. They have appeared in versions by The Beatles ("Soldier of Love"), Pearl Jam, U2, Gloria Estefan and Arthur Alexander and a whole lot more!

He's been both a Chipmunk and a Cricket. And he is a man of Passion. Ergo, and showing such on his sleeve now for all to see, Passion (out now via ArenA Recordings) is his ninth album of this millennium - which says a lot about the output of a man whose career started in the 50s.

From his home in Nashville, Buzz has been one of the earliest Roots/Rock/Americana/Country proponents and this brand new album shows just that with eleven new songs he wrote or co-wrote. We begin the journey with the title song itself, "Passion", a track that encapsulates everything that Buzz still feels about life and the industry just perfectly. Next up are the perfectly paired "Bread" and "Will You Love Me", and they are backed by both "Walkin'" and "That The Way It Is".

After decades in the music business you would think that Buzz would be just going through the "paycheck motions" here, but this new album is as fine as most anything he has musically conjured up beforehand. "Like A Dog" is a storytelling work of art, and that's backed by both "Just As Gone" and, for my money, the best track on the album, "The Ballad Of Berry Hill."

Following the success of Troubadour Heart (2014), and Record Machine (2015), Passion's passion is worn, as aforementioned, on Buzz's musical sleeve here, because each and every one of these 11 new tracks continues to shine a light on his undying love of music. Recorded at the Cason family studio Creative Workshop in Berry Hill, Nashville, it rounds out perfectly with "Escape", "Fear" and "We Soldiered On", which is yet another stand out track to listen to.

“This record is intensely special for me," Buzz himself says, "since we molded elements from various genres musically from my career and attempted to make a recording that will satisfy the taste of the diverse listener". Mission accomplished, Buzz. Mission well and truly accomplished.

1. "Passion"
2. "Bread"
3. "Will You Love Me?"
4. "Walkin'"
5. "That's The Way It Is"
6. "Like A Dog"
7. "Just As Gone"
8. "The Ballad Of Berry Hill"
9. "Escape"
10. "Fear"
11. "We Soldiered On"

Buzz Cason @ Facebook!

2/5 - Nashville, TN - ACME Feed & Seed
2/11 - Nashville, TN - In-Store Record Release Party at Grimey's
2/14 - Lafayette, LA - The Grouse Room
2/15 - Houston, TX - Cactus Music Store (in-store)
2/16 - Snyder, TX - The Horny Toad Pub & Grub
2/17 - Spicewood, TX - Poodies Hilltop Road House
2/18 - Boerne, TX - Random Beer Garden
2/19 - Fort Worth, TX - Magnolia Motor Lodge
3/5 - Nashville, TN - ACME Feed & Seed
3/22 - Sheridan, WY - BlackTooth Brewery
3/23 - Fort Collins, CO - Avogadro's Number
3/25 - Denver, CO - Swallow Hill

Title - 'Ape Shifter'
Artist - Ape Shifter

For those not in the know, German progressive rock ensemble APE SHIFTER have just released their debut self-titled album, Ape Shifter via Maximum Booking Records. Complete with an outrageous in-your-face album cover, combined with their quite brilliant band name, Ape Shifter the album is an 11 track celebration of how prog rock sounds today.

Chock full of all instrumental tracks, it brings together those rockin' 70's riffs, but here plays them off against a punk rock ferocity, adds in swirls of arching metal grooves, and presents an eclectic prog rock album quite like none I've encountered in the past decade. Simply put, and by the band themselves, Ape Shifter is an "Intense Simian Instrumental Rock from the nasty pits of the Hellabrunn Zoo".

01 "Uhluhtc" 03:33)
02 "Revolution Summer" (03:10)
03 "Desert Rock" (03:27)
04 "Dopamatic" (04:27)
05 "Hot Rod" (02:34)
06 "Verdammt" (03:54)
07 "Dead Tuna Boogie" (02:58)
08 "Ratchet Attack" (05:08)
09 "Sakrotani" (03:13)
10 "Brain-O-Mat" (03:47)
11 "Superhero Helden" (02:30)

Recorded in July of 2016 by Jürgen Schlachter at 36music in Leipheim, Germany, Ape Shifter (Jeff Aug: guitar; Florian Walter: bass; Kurty Münch: drums) have brought all their knowledge of the prog world, thrown it into the wunderworld and unleashed a guitar and drum ferocity of sounds that I dare you not to be nothing more than highly impressed with.

[FYI: Jeff Aug is also a Guinness™ world record holder setting the world record for the “most concerts performed in different countries in 24 hours” twice (2009, 2012)!]

Ape Shifter @ Facebook!

27.01.2017 DE-Leipzig, Naumanns im Felsenkeller (with Shotgun Valium)
28.01.2017 DE-Dessau, Cadillac (with Jeff Aug solo performance)
03.03.2017 DE-Weikersheim, Club W71
04.03.2017 DE-Immenstadt, Rainbow (official album release concert!)
09.03.2017 DE-Karlsruhe, KoHi
10.03.2017 NL-Tilburg, Little Devil*
11.03.2017 NL-Landgraaf, Oefenbunker*
12.03.2016 DE-Düsseldorf, Pitcher*
17.03.2017 DE-Reutlingen, Franz.K (as support for WHO KILLED BRUCE LEE!)
27.04.2017 DE-Burgkunstadt, TECnet
28.04.2017 DE-Schwerin, Speicher
29.04.2017 DE-Erfurt, Museumskeller HsD (w/ Shotgun Valium)
30.04.2017 DE-Berlin, Supamolly (special guest: JUD)
*with special guest Chris Haskett's Amplified Ambition (Rollins Band guitarist!)

Title - 'Demon'
Artist - Le Seul Elément

For those not in the know, French experimental noise wave artist Le Seul Elément have just released their debut album entitled Demon. Featured in the horror film 'Devil's Domain' starring Michael Madsen (Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs) the album also includes a guest appearance by darkwave darlings Bestial Mouths.

Combining elements of piano, noise and darkwave, weaving textures and melodies with incredible skill, from start to finish this debut album is something truly astonishing to behold. Creating, building sonic soundscapes that ebb and flow like liquid, Demon is an album whose Gothic undertones are as much an insight into the music as the actual tones set forth by Le Seul Elément.

Indeed, Demon is a rare solo project from a French artist who has mainly been involved in collaborative projects, but nonetheless one that showcases an extraordinary depth to the artist, that's for sure. Seemingly able to collaborate and work singularly, Le Seul Elément creates a unique sonic world for the creation Demon; one that abounds with a passion, a love, a devotion for their haunting artistic explorations.

1. "C. abyssal" (05:32)
2. "Mersey mad beat" (07:31)
3. "Rien n'est beau comme on l'imagine" (08:34)
4. "24D" (04:30)
5. "Demone" (05:10)
6. "U.V.E.R." (04:44)
7. "Decrepitude love" (02:08)
8. "Bestial Mouths - Her eyes (feat. Lynette | Bestial Mouths)" (04:30)
9. "Run" (05:29)
10. "Soho (feat. thisquietarmy)" (10:38)

Le Seul Elément @ Facebook!

Title - 'Return of Judge Roughneck'
Artist - Neville Staple

For those not in the know, Neville Staple is a Jamaican born English singer for the two-tone ska band, The Specials as well as his own combo, The Neville Staple Band, and who also sang with Ranking Roger in Special Beat.

Staple was born in Manchester, Jamaica. Neville left Jamaica to live in the English town of Rugby, Warwickshire at the age of five but later moved to Coventry. He was initially active in the sound system scene, forming his own crew called "Jah Baddis". Neville was a regular fixture at the Locarno ballroom in Coventry where he met the resident DJ there, Pete Waterman.

The rest, as they say, is now history, for having high profile turns in The Specials, Fun Boy Three, and Special Beat, Staple then worked for many years in the US with various bands. One of those was The Hitmen, which included providing a soundtrack for the movie, 'Vampires Anonymous' along with some extensive touring.

Return of Judge Roughneck is the brand new studio album from ska's reigning Rude Boy, Judge Roughneck himself, Neville Staple. Here on one highly addictive listening of an album, Staple continues his critically acclaimed solo career with an album of new material plus several bonus dub mixes.

1. "Return Of Judge Roughneck"
2. "Bangarang"
3. "Down My Street"
4. "Lunatics"
5. "Crime Don’t Pay"
6. "Gang Fever"
7. "Politician Man"
8. "Maga Dog"
9. "Run"
10. "Be Happy"
11. "Sweet Sensation"
12. "Enjoy Yourself - Ragtime Lounge Mix" (Feat. Jessy Greene)

Dub Specials:
13. "Maga Dub"
14. "Crime Dub"
15. "Roadblock - Slam Door Dub Mix" (by Ed Rome)
16. "Dub Fever"
17. "Jah Baddis Dubplate"
18. "Dub Street"
19. "Bang Bang"
20. "Dub Crazy" (Feat. Jessy Greene)
21. "Legal Dub"

The album opens up with the Judge himself issuing a case of GBH against the plantiff, before the musical vibe lightens for a more poppy appeal takes over on both "Bangarang" and "Down My Street". The latter is my own personal favorite on the album, but others that run it close are tracks such as "Crime Don't Pay" (ad it's trumpet backbone), "Maga Dog", and both a redo of Jimmy Soul's "Be Happy" and a joyous "Enjoy Yourself (Ragtime Lounge Mix)".

Trust me when I tell you that if you loved The Special, adored Fun Boy Three and still stand in front of that mirror in the bathroom for the English Beat, than the Return of Judge Roughneck is just what your musical doctor ordered!

Featuring guest appearances by former Geraldine Fibbers and The Jayhawks violinist Jessy Greene as well as producer Ed Rome, Staple keeps the ska alive with his renditions and new material here on his welcome return to the music scene.

Neville Staple Band @ Facebook!

Title - 'Robby Krieger: In Session'
Artist - Robby Krieger

For those not in the know, Robert Alan "Robby" Krieger is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter best known as the guitarist of the rock band the Doors, and as such has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Krieger wrote or co-wrote many of the Doors' songs, including the hits "Light My Fire", "Love Me Two Times", "Touch Me", and "Love Her Madly". After the Doors disbanded, Krieger continued his performing and recording career with other musicians including former Doors band mates John Densmore and Ray Manzarek.

He is also listed multiple times by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Robby Krieger: In Session is a brand new collection containing rare studio sessions from one of the boldest rock guitarists of all-time, that's for damn sure. Featuring an incredible roster of guest appearances including Jackson Browne, Hawkwind's Nik Turner, Asia's sadly-now-departed John Wetton, Styx's Tommy Shaw, Star Trek's William Shatner and others, along with these exclusive new mixes the album also includes a bonus live track that has never been released on CD before!

1. Across the Universe Feat. Jackson Browne 2. Hypernova Feat. Nik Turner 3. Empty Spaces Feat. Billy Sherwood 4. Where We Belong (Remix) Feat. Tony Kaye 5. Don't Leave Me Now Feat. Tommy Shaw 6. Brain Damage Feat. Geoff Downes 7. School Feat. Rod Argent 8. Deep Down Feat. William Shatner 9. Little Drummer Boy 10. All You Need Is Love Feat. John Wetton 11. Bonus Track 12. Back Door Man (Live)"

For those of you that not only know of Krieger, but of the music he has spent so much of his life embroiled within, this track-listing should come as no surprise to you. Ir kicks off in fine guitar-laden style with a cover of the Beatles’ “Across the Universe” featuring Jackson Browne and culminates with their “All You Need is Love,” a track featuring the late ASIA great, John Wetton.

Inbetween we get some musical delicacies in the form of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” (featuring Yes/ASIA keyboard wizard Geoff Downes), Supertramp’s always brilliant “School” (featuring Rod Argent), and amongst others this wonderful new collection features two exclusive, never-before-released mixes of "Hypernova (Inner Space Mix)" (featuring Nik Turner) and "Where We Belong (Prism Mix)" (featuring Tony Kaye). [The less said about William Shatner on "Deep Down" is for the best in my book, sorry].

The Bonus Track is a never-before-heard live recording of the Doors’ “Back Door Man”, as aforementioned, available on CD for the first time here on In Session.

Don't miss this incredible collection available everywhere February 17th, 2017 from Purple Pyramid Records / Cleopatra Records.

Robby Krieger @ Facebook!

Title - 'Can I Have My Money Back: Remastered & Expanded'
Artist - Gerry Rafferty

For those not in the know, Gerald "Gerry" Rafferty was a Scottish singer-songwriter best known for his solo hits "Baker Street", "Right Down the Line" and "Night Owl", as well as "Stuck in the Middle with You" recorded with the band Stealers Wheel.

Now Digitally Remastered and made into an Expanded Edition (albeit by just the one track only), Can I Have My Money Back? was the first solo album by Gerry Rafferty in 1971. The album was well received, but performed poorly in charts and sales, in part because Rafferty had just left a well known band, The Humblebums. The album also saw Joe Egan come on board, and the pair formed Stealers Wheel shortly afterwards.

1. "New Street Blues"
2. "Didn't I?"
3. "Mr Universe"
4. "Mary Skeffington"
5. "The Long Way Round"
6. "Can I Have My Money Back?"
7. "Sign on the Dotted Line"
8. "Make You, Break You"
9. "To Each and Everyone"
10. "One Drink Down"
11. "Don't Count Me Out"
12. "Half a Chance"
13. "Where I Belong"
14. "So Bad Thinking" (Bonus Track)"

This critically acclaimed well produced fusion of folk and rock influences may not have set the world alight back in the day, but here now, Digitally Remastered tracks such as opener "New Street Blues" simply sound crisper, have an added depth to them. It's just so jazzy, so bluesy, so upbeat and freeflowing. Simply put, just this one track is enough to sell this album to me!

The softer, gentler guitar work of "Didn't I?" is next and is backed by "Mr. Universe", a track that showcases the guitar work Zed Jenkins perfectly. Chock full of short songs, none so elaborate as his longer creations, this means that there is more room for mood changes, twists and turns within all the melodies. Next up is the beautiful Ukulele-played ballad "Mary Skeffington" and that's backed by the Beatles-sounding piano ballad "The Long Way Round".

The musical pop "rap" that opens the title track, the honky tonk "Can I Have My Money Back?" is one of the stand out highlights of this album and showcases Rafferty's musical talents wonderfully. The gentle piano work that gradually builds of "Sign On The Dotted Line" is up next, and that's followed by the upbeat joy of "Make You, Break You", the Renaissance feel of "To Each and Everyone", "One Drink Down" (complete with a nod to Rafferty's Bar), and then "Don't Count Me Out".

The stunning "Half a Chance" and original closing track "Where I Belong" are the perfect pair to do just that, bringing an album to an end that, for the most part, should have been given more of a chance to breathe within the public forum back in the day. Here with the freeflowing Bonus Track of "So Bad Thinking" (originally released as the B-side of the 7" single of the album title track), the new booklet features a new essay and fully restores the original album artwork.

In truth, there´s always something good in the universe to make us feel happy and thus, I am happy that I personally found a special one in this delightful album from Gerry Rafferty. I hope you take my word and buy this now Digitally Remastered and Expanded Edition CD from Cherry Red Records (UK).

Also, it should be mentioned that the aforementioned distinctive cover design was by John Patrick Byrne and was the start of a long working relationship between Rafferty and the playwright.

'Can I Have My Money Back: Remastered & Expanded' CD Purchase Link

Title - 'All the Colours of The Spectrum: 1964-1970'
Artist - The Spectrum

For those not in the know, Spectrum is an Australian progressive rock band which formed in April 1969 and broke up in April 1973. The original line-up was Mark Kennedy on drums, Lee Neale on organ (ex-Nineteen87), Bill Putt on bass guitar (ex-Lost Souls), and Mike Rudd on guitar and lead vocals (ex-Chants R&B, The Party Machine).

In August 1970 Kennedy was replaced by Ray Arnott on drums. These members also performed under the alter ego, Indelible Murtceps, from 1971 to 1973. Spectrum had a number-one hit, "I'll Be Gone" (January 1971), on the Go-Set National Top 60 singles chart.

After Spectrum and Indelible Murtceps disbanded, Putt and Rudd formed Ariel. In 1999 the pair formed Spectrum Plays the Blues, which later trimmed their name back to Spectrum. Sadly though, on 7th August 2013 Bill Putt died, after a heart attack.

Now we can all enjoy this incredible 2CD set All The Colours Of The Spectrum: Complete Recordings 1964-1970, which has just been released via Cherry Red Records (UK). Indeed, this first-ever official anthology of The Spectrum's career features all of their singles, the 1970 UK LP The Light Is Dark Enough, their contribution to the soundtrack of the little-known 1968 film The Bliss Of Mrs Blossom, their unissued-at-the-time theme tune for Captain Scarlet and, perhaps most notably of all, recordings that have only previously been released on their insanely rare and largely-unknown 1969 Venezuelan-only album.

Disc: 1
1. Samantha's Mine 2. Saturday's Child 3. Portobello Road 4. Comes the Dawn 5. Headin' for a Heatwave 6. I Wanna Be (Happy) with You 7. London Bridge Is Coming Down 8. Tables and Chairs 9. Let's Live for Love 10. Little Red Boat By the River 11. Forget Me Not 12. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da 13. Music Soothes the Savage Breast 14. Just What I Was Looking for Today 15. It Doesn't Seem to Matter 16. Cool Water 17. Free 18. The Tale of Wally Toft 19. Glory 20. Nodnol 21. Captain Scarlet (Closing Theme)

Disc: 2
1. Mr Jenkins' Brand New Boots 2. The Walrus and the Horse 3. Mandy 4. Jacqueline 5. The Light Is Dark Enough 6. Little Girl 7. Asking You 8. Roll Over Beethoven 9. Bye Bye Birdie 10. Please Mr Postman 11. You Really Got a Hold on Me 12. What's That? 13. Sweet Little Sixteen 14. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' on 15. Hide and Seek 16. My Babe 17. Dancing in the Streets 18. Shoppin' Around

Phew, I know, right! So let's delve right into his incredible collection and as the lead lyrics of Disc 1 opener "Samantha's Mine" are sung, "I feel so good, I feel so fine" that's exactly how I feel when listening to this wonderful, truly delightful flashback album of musical goodness. That's followed by the flip side of "Samantha's Mine", "Saturday's Child", a nice cover of the song written by David Gates and popularized by The Monkees. The lush "Portobello Road" is a showcase for that very same London street and market, and that's backed by the jingly-jangly "Comes The Dawn", the orchestratedly-stunning "Headin' For A Heatwave", and then both the upbeat, frenetic even "London Bridge Is Coming Down" and the fun sing-along "Tables And Chairs".

Next up is another sing-along in for the form of "Let's Live For Love" which is backed by "Little Red Boat By The River", "Forget Me Not", a bouncy cover of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" and then that singles' B-side, the euphoric "Music Soothes The Savage Breast". "Just What I Was Looking For Today" is then followed by "It Doesn't Seem To Matter", the delightfully trippy "Cool Water", and then both the stand-up-and-be-heard "Free" and the stand out track on this first side (for me), the bluesy guitar and organ work of "The Tale of Wally Toft".

The first side then rounds out with the hand clappin' appeal of "Glory", which is backed by both the country twangin' "Nodnol" and then their now infamous "Captain Scarlet (Closing Theme)". In truth, the band really benefited from a connection to Gerry Anderson's TV series of the same name, because the Captain's fictional organization was coincidentally called "SPECTRUM"!

Disc 2 kicks off in fine style with the upbeat "Mr. Jenkins' Brand New Boots" and follows that same vibe with both "The Walrus And The Horse" and the mid-tempo ballad, "Mandy". "Jacqueline" keeps that mood flowing nicely, before the simply brilliant piano track, "The Light Is Dark Enough". For me, this one is the stand out track on this second disc of their music. Next up is "Little Girl", a track that brings Motown soul to the bands repertoire. The B-side "Asking You" is next, and that is backed by their cover of the Chuck Berry-written "Roll Over Beethoven".

Another cover comes along next and, as a fan of the blues, I can tell you they nail this one perfectly. Tackling Sonny Boy Williamson's "Bye Bye Bird", the band are on top form back here, undertaking it as if it was the most natural musical side step undertaken. Another Beatles cover comes in the form of "Please Mr. Postman" and that's backed by a really heartfelt cover of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' "You Really Got A Hold On Me". The trippy pop of "What's That?" is next and is followed by both anther Chuck Berry cover, "Sweet Little Sixteen" and then a cover of Jerry Lee Lewis' musical monster "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On".

The smooth ballad "Baby What You Want Me To Do" is next, and then comes "My Baby", before the album rounds out perfectly with the power trio of "Dance In The Street", a cover of Elvis Presley's "Shoppin Around", and finally a magnificent cover of Clyde McPhatter's 1962 hit "Lover Please".

With the addition of their obscure 1965 debut single for EMI and a 1964 album that they cut (as Group Five) for the French market, All The Colours Of The Spectrum is the definitive document of a fascinating but hitherto little-documented band. It features a 16 page booklet with some priceless period photos and memorabilia as well as the Spectrum story from the cradle to the grave, with reminiscences from founder member Tony Atkins.

2CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Songs From The Swinger & Other Swingin' Songs'
Artist - Ann-Margret

For those not in the know, Ann-Margret is a Swedish-American actress, singer, and dancer. As an actress, she is best known for her roles in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Tommy (1975), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Grumpier Old Men (1995).

She has won five Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards. In 2010, she won her first Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Indeed, her singing and acting careers span five decades, starting in 1961; initially, she was billed as a female version of Elvis Presley. She had a minor hit in 1961 and a charting album in 1964, and scored a disco hit in 1979. In 2001, she recorded a critically acclaimed gospel album, and an album of Christmas songs from 2004 continues to be available.

Just released via Cherry Red Records (UK), we now have the luxury of listening to Songs from The Swinger and Other Swingin' Songs and taking in, once more, those warm singing tones of the wonderful Ann-Margret. 'The Swinger' and 'The Pleasure Seekers', films featuring the charismatic Swedish actress Ann-Margret are quintessential 1960s Hollywood pop cinema; light and frothy, flawed, but full of period bric-a-brac and stylish music.

Indeed, the title song of 'The Swinger' was written by André and Dory Previn and the score composed by Marty Paich with additional arrangements by Johnny Williams and Quincy Jones. The score of 'The Pleasure Seekers' was created by Lionel Newman and Alexander Courage (the latter destined to compose Star Trek's iconic music) and features four selections written by the Sammy Cahn - Jimmy Van Heusen song-writing team, each performed by Ann-Margret.

1. The Swinger 2. By Myself 3. I Just Want to Make Love to You 4. Swinger's Holiday 5. More 6. Cute 7. You Came a Long Way from St. Louis 8. The Good Life 9. After the Lights Go Down Low 10. I Wanna Be Loved 11. Kelly's Dance 12. That Old Black Magic 13. Madrid / the Pleasure Seekers 14. Blue Moon Cha-Cha 15. Next Time 16. Romantic Bossa Nova 17. Tender Moment 18. The Pleasure Seekers Bossa Nova 19. Zig-a-Dig-a-Ding-Boom-Bah 20. Adiocita 21. Something to Think About 22. The Terrace 23. Costa Del Sol 24. Everything Makes Music When You're in Love 25. Prado Museum 26. End Title (the Pleasure Seekers)

We kick off in fine Ann-Margret swingin' style with "The Swinger (From the Paramount Picture "The Swinger")", a track that should have you up and movin' your hips in seconds of the needle hittin' the wax. Ok, well, in this case the laser hitting the CD, I guess. Anyhoo, you get the point and so next up is the mid-tempo ballad Ann-Margret "By Myself" and that's backed by her raunchy take on "I Just Want to Make Love to You". The frenetic "Swinger's Holiday (From the Paramount Picture "The Swinger") by Marty Paich is next and that's backed by Ann-Margret back on the sultry "More (Theme from "Mondo Cane")".

Next up she brings us what turns out to be one of my own personal favorites on this collection, "Pure" and she then backs that with the guitar and trumpet roller coaster vibe of "You Came a Long Way from St. Louis". She puts her vocals to fine use on the beautiful "The Good Life (From the Paramount Movie "The Swinger"), before the fun "After the Lights Go Down Low" comes forth.

Next up is the low down and sultry smooth plea sung within "I Wanna Be Loved (Sung in the Paramount Picture "The Swinger")", before the new collection rounds out with the frenetic Latin-inspired "Kelly's Dance (From the Paramount Picture "The Swinger")" and then finally Ann-Margret's (to my mind) mumbled-at-times, but yet still mesmerizing) "That Old Black Magic (Sung in the Paramount Picture "The Swinger")".

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'World Clique: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Deee-Lite

For those not in the know, Deee-Lite (Lady Miss Kier, DJ Dmitry and Towa Tei) is an American house and club/dance music group, formed in New York City. The group's best-known single is "Groove Is in the Heart", which was released from their 1990 debut album, World Clique, and was a Top 10 hit in multiple countries.

Released in 1990, their debut album World Clique garnered initial success in the UK, where it peaked at #14 on the UK Albums Chart in September 1990. Simultaneously, the album entered the Billboard 200 at #180 for the week of September 15 in the US. Fueled by the success of "Groove Is in the Heart", World Clique continued to climb the chart for several weeks, peaking at #20 for the week of November 24. Indeed, in December 2016, Billboard magazine ranked them as the 55th most successful dance artists of all-time.

Remixes formed a huge part of Deee-Lite's clubland culture, and Cherry Red Records (UK) have just released this incredible, and totally deee-litful (sorry!) 2CD World Clique: Expanded Edition for our listening pleasures. It includes fourteen choice, varied takes on both singles and album tracks inclusive of extended radio versions to deep funky house breaks.

As a bonus, the jam-packed second disc provides a fabulous snapshot of global nightlife in the early 1990s through the eyes, and sounds of Lady Miss Kier and co.

Disc 1:
1. Deee-Lite Theme 2. Good Beat 3. Power of Love 4. Try Me on... I'm Very You 5. Smile on 6. What Is Love? 7. World Clique 8. E.S.P 9. Groove Is in the Heart 10. Who Was That? 11. Deep Ending 12. Build the Bridge

Disc 2:
13. Groove Is in the Heart (Peanut Butter Radio Mix) 14. Good Beat (Turn Up the Radio Mix) 15. Power of Love (Turn Up the Radio Mix) 16. Riding on Through! 17. Groove Is in the Heart (Meeting of the Minds Mix) 18. How Do You Say... Love (A Delicious Joey Pal Dub) 19. E.S.P. (Ouijee Extended Mix) 20. What Is Love? (Rainbow Beard Mix) 21. Good Beat (Extend the Beat Mix) 22. Power of Love (Sampladelic Remix) 23. Build the Bridge (Holographic House Groove Mix) 24. What Is Love? (Holographic Goatee Mix) 25. Good Beat (Pal Joey's Shake Your Body to the Beat Mix) 26. Groove Is in the Heart (Jelly Jam Beats)

I actually met Lady Miss Kier after a show they performed here in Detroit some 20 years ago. I was meant to meet her before the show, but they arrived very late to the venue, played a delayed show to it longest moments allowed, then she spent some solo time alone backstage before @ 3am I was ushered back to meet her! Anyway, as we had a lovely chat, and as the original album opens with the funky, jazzy trumpet and bass beat sounds of "Deee-Lite Theme" (as did the live show that night, that moment in time comes flooding back to me instantly.

Next up is the dance floor smash "Good Beat" which is backed by the house hit "Power Of Love" and then the Bootsy-driven "Try Me On ... I'm Very You". The slow trumpet groove of "Smile On" (which, for my money was ahead of its time) is next and that's followed by "What Is Love?", a cut that proves that Deee-Lite were no one hit wonders. Oh, and for those still wondering, the spoken words are from Mark Twain and are the opening lines on 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' by Tom Clay (1971).

Next up is the funky title track itself, "World Clique" and that's backed by the psychic power melodic pop rock of "E.S.P.". Again, a massive track well ahead of its time and that's backed by their massive worldwide mega hit, the highly infectious "Groove Is In The Heart" ("How do you say Deee-Groovy? How do you say Deee-Gorgeous? How do you say Deee-Lite, Deee-Lite, Deee-Lite, Deee-Lite ...").

Introduced to us by a trumpet reveille, "Who Was That?" is another gem here on World Clique and with the dynamic pairing of both "Deep Ending" and the sedate, yet still trippy "Build The Bridge" bringing the original album (disc 1) to a close, I am already relishing the chance to listen to this first side through again!

But, onward we must as their is a musical treasure trove of wonderment now to be found here on the second disc. Starting with "Groove Is in the Heart (Peanut Butter Radio Mix)" and 14 tracks later culminating with "Groove Is in the Heart (Jelly Jam Beats)", it seems someone assigned to the creation of this 2CD set got a wee bit carried away with the mixing board. For we get three versions of "Groove", three versions of "Good Beat", two of both "Power Of Love" and "What Is Love?", and one each of "Riding On Through!", "E.S.P.", "Build A Bridge" and "How Do You Say ... Love".

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Title - 'Say It Again: Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Jermaine Stewart

For those not in the know, Jermaine Stewart was an American R&B singer best known for his 1986 hit single "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off", which reached number 2 in both the UK and Canada. It also reached number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

In truth, and usually I'm better than this, but I had no idea that Jermaine had passed away back in 1997. I'm still taken aback having discovered this fact in writing this intro. Anyway, having released his debut album The Word Is Out in 1984 and followed it up with Frantic Romantic in 1986, his third album Say It Again was released in 1988.

Now released as a special expanded 2CD edition via Cherry Red Records (UK), Say It Again: Deluxe Edition includes the 12 original album tracks plus 20 related bonus tracks - including many A-sides / B-sides and Extended Versions.

Disc: 1
1. Don't Talk Dirty to Me 2. Say It Again 3. Get Lucky 4. Got to Be Love 5. Dress It Up 6. Don't Have Sex With Your Ex 7. Is It Really Love? 8. Call It a Miracle 9. Eyes 10. My House 11. She's a Teaser 12. My Body 13. Say It Again (Single Version) 14. You Promise 15. Get Lucky (Single Version) 16. Imagine 17. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Single Version) 18. Is It Really Love? (Single Version)

Disc: 2
1. Say It Again (Extended John Robie Remix) 2. Get Lucky (Extended Remix) 3. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Extended Remix) 4. Is It Really Love? (Extended Mix) 5. Say It Again (Extended Remix) 6. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Remix Edit) 7. Places 8. Search 9. Say It Again (the Jingle Mix) 10. Get Lucky (New York Mix) 11. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Radio Edit) 12. Get Lucky (Dub) 13. Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Dub) 14. Is It Really Love? (Dub)

We kick off this pop funk dance extravaganza with the brilliant pop dance floor flow of "Don't Talk Dirty to Me" which he backs up perfectly with the title track itself, "Say It Again". That smooth pop goodness is then followed up with what has to be my own personal favorite off the original album, the quite stunning, pop perfect bounce of "Get Lucky". The Janet Jacksonesque "Got To Be Love" is next and is backed by both the pop attitude of "Dress It Up" and the song that we should all pay heed to, "Don't Have Sex With Your Ex".

"Is It Really Love?" hardens up the beats once more, whilst the electro funk of "Call It a Miracle" and the dance floor glide of "Eyes" is yet another showcase of emotion that Jermaine could portray via song. "My House' brings the beat back up again, and that's backed by the fun and lite, easy and breezy "She's a Teaser". The hip-hop vibes of "My Body" round out the original album, but this expanded edition now adds to the party.

"Say It Again (Single Version)", "You Promise" (the B-side to his "Say It Again" 7" single) and then "Get Lucky (Single Version)" are up first, with the first disc rounding out with "Imagine (We're In Love)" (the B-side of his "Get Lucky" 7" single), and then both "Don't Talk Dirty to Me (Single Version)" and "Is It Really Love? (Single Version)".

Easily one of the best '80s artists of this ilk that there was, inclusive of acts such as Janet Jackson, 5Star, Taylor Dayne, Debarge and so, this second disc of gems that begins with "Say It Again (Extended John Robie Remix)" and culminates 14 tracks later with "Is It Really Love? (Dub)" is most definitely one of the BEST second disc's of remixes and extended versions I've come across for an artist in a long, long time.

On an album that featured vocal contributions from artists such as Jody Watley, Deniece Williams, James Ingram, Josie James, and Wanda & Pam Hutchinson from The Emotions, this new 2CD collection disc 2 includes remixes by the respected producer/mixer Phil Harding ("Say It Again" – Extended Remix / The Jingle Mix / "Get Lucky" – Extended Remix / New York Mix / Dub, with other Phil Harding remixes included (jointly credited with his long-term creative partner Ian Curnow) being: "Don’t Talk Dirty To Me" – Extended Remix / Dub / "Is It Really Love?" – Single Version / Extended Remix / Dub.

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Title - 'Well I Ask You: The Complete 60s Recordings'
Artist - Eden Kane

For those not in the know, Eden Kane is an English pop singer best known as a former teen idol in the 1960s. He has also recorded under his birth name (Richard Graham Sarstedt) and with his backing group the Downbeats. Indeed, he is the older brother of musicians Peter Sarstedt and Clive Sarstedt, whom he has collaborated with on numerous Sarstedt Brothers albums.

He had success in the early 1960s as a pop star appealing to a teenage audience with hits including "Well I Ask You" which was a UK No.1 hit in 1961, before moving to the United States, where he began an acting career.

In addition to all of Eden’s Pye, Decca and Fontana recordings, this new 2-CD set entitled Well I Ask You: The Complete 60s Recordings also boasts his rarest offerings which followed, from three elusive singles only available in Australia/New Zealand to an obscure Bell 45 from 1970. Thereafter, Eden reverted to his real name, but reactivated the Eden Kane moniker for a one-off single in 1980.

Disc: 1
1. You Make Love So Well 2. Hot Chocolate Crazy 3. Well I Ask You 4. Before I Lose My Mind 5. Get Lost 6. I'm Telling You 7. Forget Me Not 8. A New Kind of Lovin' 9. I Don't Know Why 10. Music for Strings 11. House to Let 12. I Told You 13. Sounds Funny to Me 14. Someone Wants to Know 15. Kiss Me Quick 16. My Little Sue 17. Romance 18. Something Tells Me 19. Another Spring 20. My Time of Evening 21. Ten Out of Ten 22. That's for Me 23. Tomorrow Night 24. I Won't Believe Them 25. Like I Love You 26. Come Back 27. Boys Cry

Disc: 2
1. Don't Come Crying to Me 2. Rain, Rain, Go Away 3. Guess Who It Is? 4. Hangin' Around 5. Gonna Do Something About You 6. If You Want This Love 7. Have I Done Something Wrong? 8. Gonna Send You Back to Georgia 9. I Know a Man 10. Sticks and Stones 11. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes 12. Shoppin' Around 13. I (Who Have Nothing) 14. On Broadway 15. I Should Care 16. Charade 17. The Last Leaf 18. Magic Town 19. The Whole World Was Crying (With the Dambeats) 20. Gotta Get Through to You 21. A Million Ants 22. My Whole World Is Tumbling Down 23. In the Day of My Youth 24. Time, Love, Hope, Life 25. It Doesn't Matter Anymore 26. Reason to Believe 27. I Played It Like a Fool 28. I Think I Died and Went to Heaven 29. Pulling Me Thru the Bad Times

Wow! Now this has got to be one of the most jam packed-with-gems albums that has ever come out on double disc. Stacked to the gills with no less than 56 songs, if you didn't know about Eden Kane beforehand (like me, admittedly), or if you did but wanted to have all his recordings in one, crystal clear CD spot, then Well I Ask You: The Complete 60s Recordings is the release for you all!

As there are just too many songs to tackle to review completion here, I'll simple review a few that stood out to me. Not that the remainder didn't, but there are always going to be some that have a little more to say for themselves on any album. Point in case is the opener, "You Make Love So Well" which is as perky, as fluid as that era could provide. "Hot Chocolate Crazy" is not only a great title, but inclusive of what I could have sworn was the precursor to the Benny Hill theme, it's just a brilliant pop song. It's title song "Well I Ask You" is, as expected, a track with a hook that deserved to be a #1 hit for Eden in 1961.

Other tracks off the first side that held my ear include the upbeat, Presley-sounding "A New Kind Of Lovin'" and the rockier sounds of "Boy's Cry", with the second disc providing the fun pop sway of "Hangin' Around", "Charade", "A Million Ants", and both "Magic Town" and the collection closer, the surprisingly disco-esque "Pulling Me Thru The Bad Times" with The Downbeats.

Compiled and curated with the full cooperation of Eden Kane, Well I Ask You: The Complete 60s Recordings pays due respect to an artist who still tours to this day.

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Title - 'Johann Sebastian Bach'
Artist - Rafał Blechacz

For those not in the classical know, Rafał Blechacz is a Polish classical pianist. Blechacz began piano lessons at the age of five, and enrolled in the National Arthur Rubinstein Music School in Bydgoszcz three years later. In May 2007, he graduated from the Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz with professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń.

He won second prize at the Artur Rubinstein in Memoriam Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz in 2002, second prize at the 4th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in 2003 (no first prize was awarded), and first prize at the International Piano Competition in Morocco in 2004.

On October 21, 2005, he became the sole recipient of all five first prizes at the 15th International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, taking First Prize and the polonaise, mazurka, sonata, and concerto prizes. No other pianist has achieved this feat.

The now 31-year-old winner of that very same aforementioned 2005 International Chopin Piano Competition, has been immersed in Bach since his childhood and has cultivated a strikingly natural eloquence in his mature interpretations of the composer's keyboard works.

Here on his brand new album, the aptly and simply entitled Johann Sebastian Bach Blechacz adds yet another stunning bow to the Deutsche Grammophon repertoire.

1. Italian Concerto in F major
2. Partita No.1 in B flat major
3. Four Duets
4. Fantasia and Fugue in A minor
5. Partita No.3 in A minor
6. Jesus bleibet meine Freude

The album includes some really big pieces, such as the Italian Concerto, one of Blechacz's signature pieces along with Partita No. 1 and the album closing Jesus bleibet meine Freude.

Blechacz’s set of Johann Sebastian Bach's work here is an exciting, alive recording, one in which the performer’s tremendous technique married to a sense of drama and a palpable enjoyment in presentation culminates in a recording of true, pristine excellence.

Indeed, even if one feels his work exceeds somewhat the just of the movement at times, Blechacz gives no quarter in his headlong enthusiasm to make these pieces thrilling. So, and for that fact alone his work should be not only highly recommended, bit seen live to be fully appreciated.

Title - 'New Era'
Artist - Andreas Ottensamer

For those not in the classical know, Andreas Ottensamer is an Austrian clarinetist and is the principal clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic. Ottensamer commenced his musical studies in 1999 on piano in his hometown and then at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, on violoncello with Wolfgang Herzer and then from 2003 clarinet with Johann Hindler.

Ottensamer is also enrolled as a student at Harvard University in the United States. Ottensamer first gained his orchestral experience as substitute clarinet in the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic and is a former member of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra.

In October 2009, he was a fellow of the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic. From July 2010 to February 2011, he was solo clarinetist of the German Symphony Orchestra, Berlin and since March 2011 he fills the position of solo clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic.

The first prize winner of several competitions with the instruments of clarinet, piano and cello, Ottensamer has performed as soloist and chamber musician worldwide with partners such as the Vienna Virtuosi (members of the Vienna Philharmonic), the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and performers including Leif Ove Andsnes, Angelika Kirchschlager, Julian Rachlin and Yo-Yo Ma.

Now, brilliant Clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer presents a dazzling selection of the clarinet's early repertoire from 18th Century Mannheim on the aptly entitled New Era. Inclusive of works by J. and C.P. Stamitz, Mozart and Danzi the dazzling new album also features duets with Albrecht Mayer and Emmanuel Pahud, two of the great wind soloists of our time; and Ottensamer's friends and colleagues at the Berliner Philharmoniker.

1-3. J. STAMITZ Clarinet Concerto in B flat major
4-6. DANZI Concertino for Clarinet, Bassoon and Orchestra in B flat major op. 47
7. MOZART "Se viver non degg'io"
8. DANZI Fantasy on "La ci darem la mano"
9. MOZART "Batti, batti, o bel Masetto"
10-12. C. STAMITZ Clarinet Concerto No. 7 in E flat major

Ottensamer is joined by the Kammerakademie Potsdam for this recording and along side each other the recording is as strong as anything this young man has ever done, in my humble opinion. Beautiful sweet clarinet sound and projection combine to bring forth an impeccable clarinet technique here on New Era.

Ottenshamer's performance is smooth as silk, his control of micro-dynamics is truly remarkable. From start to finish, I found this album a highly enjoyable listening experience and I know you will also. Ergo, I recommend New Era to all lovers of classical clarinet work the world over for this is as good as it gets. Of that, have no doubt.

Title - 'Black & White Night 30'
Artist - Roy Orbison & Friends

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

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

The rest, as they say, is history, but reliving his wonderful Black & White Night 30 (now out in a stunning new CD/DVD or CD/Blu-ray set), it's clear to me that this was Roy Orbison at his best. I mean, rarely will you find a performance of this caliber out there today. An All-Star line-up is the icing on the cake as this incredible show includes some outstanding harmonies from Jennifer Warnes, Bonnie Raitt and K.D.lang.

Adding a new dimension to Roy's already classic style each time I listen to this timeless music I can expect no less than the requisite chills. Or as his Wilbury brother, George Harrison once said, "I get chicken skin, goose bumps from hearing him". No small compliment there. Lost to the ages too soon, this is a great way to remember a wonderful artist, and a time well worth re-living over and over again. Sit back and enjoy, my friends for if you've not heard or seen this live recording before, well, you're about to have your minds blown!

Backed by Elvis Presley’s TCB Band of Ron Tutt (drums), Jerry Scheff (bass), Glen D. Hardin (piano) and James Burton (electric guitar), augmented by Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Alex Acuna, Tom Waits and T Bone Burnett, with that aforementioned backing chorus of K.D. Lang, Jennifer Warnes, Bonnie Raitt, and inclusive also of J.D. Souther, Steven Soles and Jackson Browne, add to that a quartet of violins and violas and you've got a show, my friends. You've got the show to have been at.

Recorded at the Cocoanut Grove in Hollywood’s Ambassador Hotel, the program was cablecast on Cinemax and released as a live album. It’s subsequently been reissued on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, CD, SACD and was turned into a PBS fundraising perennial. And now, and as aforementioned, Black & White Night 30 is a re-imagined, re-edited, remastered and expanded version of the original television special, available both as a CD/DVD set and as a CD/Blu-ray set on February 24th, 2017.

We begin with a lush 'Only The Lonely' (a song that has always made me love music the way it should be made), the gentle love song 'Leah', the poignant 'In Dreams', the iconic 'Crying', the upbeat 'Uptown', and then both 'The Comedians' and a song that showcases Roy's vocal range stunningly, 'Blue Angel'. A beautifully orchestrated, and highly resonating 'It's Over' is next and that's followed by 'Running Scared', a finger-snappin' 'Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)', the old school rock 'n' roll vibe of 'Mean Woman Blues' (which also features some brilliant guitar work), and then the Doo-Wop of 'Candy Man', the guitar fest of 'Ooby Dooby', and 'Blue Bayou'.

One of my favorite tracks 'Go! Go! Go! (Down The Line)' is next and is backed by the upbeat '(All I Can Do Is) Dream You)', which in turn is followed by the guitar-laden fun of 'Claudette', before the album comes to a close with two versions of 'Oh, Pretty Woman' (one being an Alternative Version). Man, it has to be said that when he makes that growling sound, it's as skin tingling to hear today as it was back then, or even when it was first unleashed.

With the video portion of this package featuring the bonus of an Intro, it's actually also been re-edited by Roy's youngest son Alex Orbison. Indeed, the entire program has been restored to reflect the correct set order as the audience who attended the show saw it. Liner notes written by son Roy Orbison Jr. are included in the packaging as well as a treasure trove of bonus content.

Indeed, and with that in mind, Black & White Night 30 includes a previously unseen alternate version of 'Oh, Pretty Woman', a previously unseen performance of 'Blue Angel' and, oh, wait for it ... even a secret concert performed by the band after the audience had left of five songs featuring alternate takes of: 'Dream You', 'Comedians', 'Candyman', 'Claudette', and 'Uptown'. [The audio for the concert is available on CD with buyers of Black & White Night 30 receiving a download code for access to the audio records of the aforementioned secret concert.]

Additionally included is a brand new 33-minute mini-documentary consisting of rehearsal footage and pre and post show interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and more. Also included is a photo montage consisting of twenty still photos from the show and new photos of show memorabilia, mostly unused and unseen in any context.

Listening to all these tracks live, one after the other, can begin to feel like you've entered unto something that there is no going back on, that's for sure. His voice, his unmistakable vocal tone is timeless, which makes every single one of these tracks an experience all of its own. It's also, even if you are not a fan, an experience that should be undertaken by all lovers of when music was real. Nothing is over dubbed, nothing is highly accentuated; everything is as real, as honest as it was when he stepped into that recording booth each time, for each track, over each passing year.

Roy Orbison 'Black & White Night 30' Purchase Link

Title - 'The Man From Snowy River And Other Themes'
Artist - Bruce Rowland

For those of you not in the know, Bruce Rowland is a well-known Australian composer. He composed the soundtrack for the 1982 movie 'The Man from Snowy River', as well as the soundtrack for its 1988 sequel 'The Man from Snowy River II' (which has the United States title of 'Return to Snowy River', and the United Kingdom title of 'The Untamed').

Both films were based on Banjo Paterson's poem The Man from Snowy River. His other film scores include Now and Forever (1983), Phar Lap (1983), Bushfire Moon (1987), Cheetah (1989), Weekend with Kate (1990), Gross Misconduct (1993), Andre (1994), Lightning Jack (1994), Zeus and Roxanne (1997) and the TV movie Tidal Wave: No Escape (1997).

He composed a special Olympics version of the main theme of 'The Man from Snowy River Suite', as well as conducting the orchestra, for the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics which were held in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

With the soundtrack from the wonderful family film 'The Man From Snowy River' already now being established as one of the most memorable movie soundtracks ever composed, Varese Sarabande have just released The Man From Snowy River And Other Themes for Piano. Complete with 12 tracks that explore his work, and showcase it perfectly at the very same time, this music from Bruce Rowland fills the soul with it's powerful orchestration over and over.

1. Jessica’s Theme (from The Man From Snowy River) (3:30)
2. All the Rivers Run (Theme from the MiniSeries) (5:43)
3. Sea Ballet (from Andre) (2:36)
4. Taming Paint (from Ponderosa) (2:55)
5. Gunsmoke — The Last Apache (2:11)
6. Choices (from Backstage) (2:08)
7. Main Theme (from The Cup) (2:52)
8. We’ll Be Thinking of You (from Adventure Island) (3:10)
9. Love Theme (from Anzacs) (2:18)
10. Pharlap (2:47)
11. By The Fireside (from The Man From Snowy River 2) (2:16)
12. Suite from The Man From Snowy River (7:52)

Every time I listen to his works I am swept away, my mind encapsulated by the stirring, at times magical music that comes forth from Rowland's fingertips. I mean, and in all honesty, if you close your eyes and allow yourself to be taken away by this CD, you can almost visualize each scene from the segments of movies they are lovingly taken from as it plays.

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Title - 'Wheeler (Music From The Motion Picture)'
Artist - Wheeler Bryson

For those of you not in the know, 'Wheeler' is a new movie that follows an aspiring country singer-songwriter who moves to Nashville looking for a break. The film eavesdrops documentary-style on confessional songs that may have viewers seeking out more of the music and story of Wheeler Bryson.

Directed by Ryan Ross and shot with only a minimal script in fly-on-the-wall documentary style, the film stars Dorff (who also wrote and produced the film and music, and who is also from a Country music family) as the aforementioned Wheeler Bryson, a troubled Texas musician who takes a late-in-life journey to Nashville to share his introspective songs while coming to terms with an unbearable loss.

1. Wheeler (:59)
2. Pour Me Out Of This Town (4:07)
3. Fever (3:40)
4. Wind * (4:48)
5. Ryman (:19)
6. She’s Only 20 (4:34)
7. Tribe (3:36)
8. Rainbow Slide* (4:54)
9. Showed Me The Way * (4:24)
10. Move On (3:57)
11. Runner * (4:34)
12. Perfect Disaster (4:00)
13. Eulogy (1:01)
14. New Mister Me - Performed by Kris Kristofferson (3:12)

With the help of key allies on the ground, 'Wheeler' converses with real people in real locations, with every musical number performed live. The line between reality and fiction blurs as Wheeler chases his dream in this touching tribute to old school country legends.

Tracks like the harmonica driven title opener 'Wheeler' are stirring, and really capture the tone of the movie in just it's oh-too-short less-than-a-minute length. The brilliant 'Pour Me Out Of This Town' is a fun night out of a song, whereas both 'Fever' and 'Wind' are low-tempo Country storytelling grinds. The heartfelt ballad 'Ryman' is next and is backed by the gritty 'She's Only 20', the piano ballad 'Tribe', the slow poke 'Rainbow Slide' and then the piano-driven 'Showed Me The Way'.

The beautiful black and white feel of 'Move On' is next and that's followed by the energetic 'Runner', the hard country soul of 'Perfect Disaster', before another harmonic-driven cut in 'Eulogy' is brought forth. A perfect musical bookend to Wheeler's story, the Bonus Track on this quite stunning new album is 'New Mister Me', written and performed by Kris Kristofferson.

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Title - 'Gastank' + 'The Phantom of the Opera'
Artist - Rick Wakeman

For those not in the know, prog legend Rick Wakeman is an English keyboardist, songwriter, television and radio presenter, and author. He is best known for being in the progressive rock band Yes across five tenures between 1971 and 2004 and for his solo albums released in the 1970s.

Wakeman also pursued solo projects throughout the 1980s that varied in levels of success; his most successful album was 1984, released in 1981, which was followed by his minor pop hit single, "Glory Boys", from Silent Nights (1985). He hosted the television show Gastank, and produced the first of many New-age and ambient albums.

In 1988, he co-formed Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe which led to his third Yes stint until 1992. He returned twice more between 1995 and 2004, during which he completed several more solo projects and tours, including venturing into Christian music. Wakeman continues to perform concerts worldwide in various capacities.

Wakeman's discography includes over 90 solo albums that range from several musical styles. He has made many television and radio appearances; in recent years he became known for his contributions to the BBC comedy series Grumpy Old Men and his radio show on Planet Rock that aired from 2005 to 2010. Wakeman has written three books; an autobiography and two memoirs. Wakeman will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Yes in 2017.

As aforementioned above, Gastank was an English television show that aired between 1982–1983 on Channel 4. Hosted by Rick Wakeman and Tony Ashton the show featured a mix of interviews with 1970s musicians and impromptu performances where the guest artist would join Rick and his house band in playing re-arranged versions of their classic songs, or entirely new pieces created for the show.

The format was very informal with the setting likened to a bar where Wakeman would interview the guest over a drink or two followed by their performance in front of a small studio audience sitting in groups at tables. Wakeman would frequently cite the show as an opportunity for musicians from different bands to get the opportunity to work together.

During its run, the show featured guests as diverse as: Rick Parfitt, Ian Paice, Steve Hackett, Maggie Bell, Roy Wood, Andy Fairweather Low, John Entwistle, Godley and Creme, Suzy Quatro, Donovan, The Strawbs, Eric Burdon, Chris Farlowe, Frankie Millar, Phil Lynott, Alvin Lee, and many others.

“For many years, many of you have been asking us to release this material from the show I presented with Tony Ashton back in the early '80s", Rick Wakeman himself explains. "Gastank was an opportunity for iconic musicians from different bands to get the opportunity to perform live together."

"I can now happily announce that much of Gastank is now available. I hope it brings back memories and for those not around when the programmes went out, enjoy some unique performances.”

Indeed, now out for the first time on DVD, all the episodes of Gastank along with a CD of these now seminal music performances of Rick and his guests is available for all to purchase. Created exclusively on late last year, you could also opt to purchase the incredible Special Limited Edition Box-Set, of which there will only be 750 of in circulation:

Double DVD – Nearly 6 hours of footage, every second of the shows shown back in the day
Triple CD – of all the musical performances
Double CD – of all the interviews
Replica AAA pass
“The Gas Tank Interviews – by Rick Wakeman” book
Signed (by Rick Wakeman) and numbered certificate

The other newly-released gem is the legendary 1925 Lon Chaney film 'The Phantom of the Opera' which is brought to life with a specially commissioned Rick Wakeman soundtrack. This is the first time this version of the film has been issued on DVD, as such the images have been fully restored and the soundtrack remastered.

The DVD also has several bonus features; a Rick Wakeman commentary, a Christopher Lee introduction, a Rick and the Phantom featurette, and an Original Trailer also. The soundtrack double CD is the original Rick Wakeman unedited soundtrack and contains the original mixes of the songs. All different to what eventually appeared on his album Phantom Power, this quite stunning edition contains a single DVD and double CD.

Disc: 1
1. The Phantom of the Opera, Part One

Disc: 2
1. The Phantom of the Opera, Part Two

Disc: 3
1. The Phantom of the Opera with Introduction By Christopher Lee

Indeed, now out for the first time on DVD, the Lon Chaney silent movie 'Phantom of the Opera' together with Rick Wakeman’s soundtrack comes together in a Limited Edition Box-Set also. Complete with a signed and numbered certificate, and once again created exclusively on late last year, you could also opt to purchase this incredible Limited Edition Box-Set:

Single DVD
Double CD
Signed by Rick Wakeman and numbered certificate
2 x Reproduction Lon Chaney 10˝ x 8˝ photos
4 x A4 Reproduction “Lobby Cards Taken from the original artwork

As aforementioned, Phantom Power was a 1990 album by Rick Wakeman, written as a modern day soundtrack for a re-release of the 1925 silent film 'The Phantom of the Opera.' Although the tracks have been remodeled here for this stunning new release, their collective verve remains the same. Essentially, they present the musical highlights to the score Wakeman provided Universal in 1989 when they decided to update the 1925 adaptation.

If the purists weren’t already offended by the color tinting added to the ensuing drama, the wholly un-traditional score would have had them in fits of apoplexy. Not only do we get Wakeman's contemporary keyboard motifs, but actual songs in both the rock genre and more operatic entries in between. These in turn are brought to life by long-time stalwarts of the Wakeman sound such as Ashley Holt, Chrissie Hammond and opera tenor Ramon Ramedios; with their respective talent really broadening the scope of the production.

Rick Wakeman @ Twitter

'Gastank' CD/DVD Purchase Link

'Phantom of the Opera' CD/DVD Purchase Link

Title - 'Preghiera - Rachmaninov Piano Trios'
Artist - Gidon Kremer-Daniil Trifonov-Giedr Dirvanauskait

For those not in the classical know, Gidon Kremer is celebrating his 70th birthday on (February 27th, 2017) here with a special chamber music program together with outstanding young pianist Daniil Trifonov and renowned cellist Giedr Dirvanauskait; both of whom he personally chose for this recording.

Gidon Kremer, the Latvian classical violinist, artistic director and founder of Kremerata Baltica is in fine form here alongside his two chosen musical counterparts. Both Giedr Dirvanauskait and Daniil Trifonov are without a shadow of a doubt, connected by deep bonds of friendship and an intensive partnership on the concert stage throughout these works of musical art.

1. Preghiera - Arrangement after the Adagio sostenuto from Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2
2. Moderato - Allegro vivace
3. Quasi variazione
4. Allegro risoluto - Moderato
5. Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor

Here on Preghiera - Rachmaninov Piano Trios, both works bear the subtitle Elegiaque (elegiac), wherein both are dark, passionate works, composed under the influence of Tchaikovsky; the first is a short, one-movement piece rich in typically Slavic sentimentality, the second was written as a personal memorial to Tchaikovsky himself, alternately celebrating the life and grieving the loss of the great Russian composer of whom Rachmaninov said Of all the people and artists whom I have had occasion to meet, Tchaikovsky was the most enchanting. His delicacy of spirit was unique.

In truth, you have to experience Kremer's plushness of tone to truly believe his status as one of the greatest violinists of he contemporary age. This new recording provides more evidence than necessary for this claim, and the breadth of styles covered between the trio is highly impressive. Indeed, Kremer's occasional use of rubato lends a Romantic quality to all of this andante results are unique and memorable. Transforming such a familiar piece into an unfamiliar masterpiece is nothing short of brilliant. I could go on, but I will exit with an enthusiastic recommendation for this delightful new recording.

Also included as a special bonus is Preghiera (Prayer), Fritz Kreisler's touching transcription for violin and piano of the famous theme from Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto.

Title - 'Sonic Cinema'
Artist - Zero Times Everything

For those not in the prog know, Zero Times Everything (Richard Sylvarnes – Kaoss Pads, Loops, Synths, Rhythms, Guitars, Vocal), Pietro Russino – Guitars, Loops, Violin, and Tony Geballe – Guitars, Synths, Loops) first met at Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft Seminars at Claymont Court, then formed a group to provide live music for Richard Sylvarnes' epic film “The Last Words of Dutch Schultz”.

ZXE continued playing live to Richard's works, developing a rich vocabulary of music and exploration far beyond their original intention. Once they made their debut with “Dutch Schultz”, ZXE was asked to play at the inaugural NY Festival of Light in 2013, and then to perform at the opening ceremony of the 2014 NYFOL. The band haven't looked back ever since.

About to release their debut album, Sonic Cinema on April 21st, 2017 via 7D Media, Zero Times Everything (ZXE) is a progressive rock trio (or as they themselves term their music, "avant garde ambient glitchcore and pan-ethnic post-industrial pre-cambrian serial noise proto-punk neocortex") that needs to be heard on a wider scale, that's for sure. This ten track album is, to my mind, as good as it gets in this genre.

1. And Now This....
2. Events In A Field
3. LED
4. Accident
5. Natron 40
6. Ghost
7. Kapital
8. Vox Populi
9. Schizoid
10. (The Cathedral Of All Saints)

Complimenting flowing, and in some cases ever decreasing circles of musical differences in sound, these some might say experimental tones (such as on 'Ghost') are as stirring, as poignant a look into the minds of these guys than anything else on the album. Kicking off with the steadily growing, static-heavy 'And Now This ...', they back that with the stunning ambiance of 'Events In A Field' and then the stirring funk of 'LED'.

The mid-tempo throbbing, and at times fuzzy intensity of 'Accident' is next with the more technology-created stuttering of the short track 'Natron' up next. The spacial elements contained within 'Ghost' are brought forth next, with the raucous beats of 'Kapital' combining eloquently with the spoken word thereafter.

Culminating in what turns out to be a new fourteen minute political opus ('Vox Populi'), then comes 'Schizoid', before the truly soul provoking tones of '(The Cathedral Of All Saints)' bring the album to a close. So, and in my humble opinion, Sonic Cinema is, from start to finish, one of the surefire contenders for Best Album of The Year. Believe me and buy this album yourself. Or don't believe me and miss out on an incredible audio experience.

Zero Times Everything @ Facebook

Title - 'Miked Up' (feat. Michael Pennick)
Artist - E-Life 7

For those not in the know, Three 2 Go Music introduces E-Life 7(EL7) featuring Michael Pennick with his debut CD Miked Up. EL7 unites some of Western NY’s finest musicians including; keyboardists Rodney Spears and Charlie Crymes Jr., guitarist Ron Walker, drummer and percussionist Tim Webb and bassist Mike Pennick.

There's also a special appearance by Ken Whitman (tenor sax), with Walter Kemp III, Van Taylor (keyboards), Joey Diggs and Dee Osbourne (vocals) also featured heavily on Miked Up.

EL7 is the brain child of Ron Walker and Mike Pennick long time members of Buffalo Music Hall of Fame R&B recording artists The Exoutics. Indeed, it should also be known that EL7 fully acknowledges the musical and spiritual influence of past and present members of The Exoutics and you can feel their influence here on this 14 track CD.

1. 'Sunday Night' (03:21)
2. 'Chaos' (02:37)
3. 'Second Level' (04:19)
4. 'Smooth Ride' (04:30)
5. 'Inner Beauty' (04:56)
6. 'That Girl' (04:58)
7. 'Tony Rome' (05:22)
8. 'Sunrise' (04:22)
9. 'Feelin' You' (06:26)
10. 'Before The Storm' (05:50)
11. 'Miked Up' (04:40)
12. 'Beautiful Day' (04:06)
13. 'Tony Rome (Radio Edit)' (04:42)
14. 'Feelin' You (Radio Edit)' (04:31)

We begin with the upbeat and joyous funk of 'Sunday Night' and move beautifully into both the frenetic drumming of 'Chaos' (as well a titled track if ever there were one) and the flowing 'Second Level'. The jazz sax flow of 'Smooth Ride' is next and that's followed by the laid back bass strumming of 'Inner Beauty', and upbeat remake of Stevie Wonder’s 'That Girl', the late night groove of 'Tony Rome' and then both 'Sunrise' and the all out funk groove of 'Feelin' You'.

With Rodney’s unique keyboard skills accenting, complimenting perfectly the keyboard foundations laid by Charlie, Tim’s intricate drum touch reinforces rhythmic, melodic bass lines and spicy guitar licks throughout. When blended together, this unique sound has come together just perfectly here on Miked Up.

The more laid back late night sway of 'Before The Storm' is next and that's followed by the title track, 'Miked Up', the jazz lite 'Beautiful Day' and then rounding the album out both 'Tony Rome (Radio Edit)' and 'Feelin' You (Radio Edit)'.

So, as the band themselves have overly stressed, life is short so enjoy it! And that means go out and buy this fantastic CD today. Oh, and what does EL7 stand for? Enjoy Life 7 days a week, my friends. It's just as simple as that.

Title - 'Day Dream'n'
Artist - Omeri

For those not in the know, Three 2 Go Music is proud to introduce singer/songwriter Omeri and his debut album Day Dream'n, set to be released in stores and online worldwide on March 24th, 2017. This musically diverse album features catchy hooks, colorful, hypnotic melodies, and will have listeners nodding their heads and tapping their feet as they enjoy the lyrics.

Omeri prides himself on being open to different genres and styles of music and has already stated that "I'm always looking for new challenges and ways to express myself" And here on his quite stunning debut Day Dream'n, he has most assuredly accomplished those musical ways.

1. 'Day Dream'n'
2. 'Guess I'll Be Waiting'
3. 'Read Your Mind'
4. 'Don't Look For Me'
5. 'Genuine Love'
6. 'One Night'
7. 'Day Dream'n (Extended)'
8. 'One Night (Reprise)'

Growing up in the inner city of Buffalo, New York, his turbulent teen years brought about new experiences and forced him to decide very quickly which path in life he wanted to follow. Raised by his godmother, Omeri's early years were far from "normal." His mother was a troubled professional dancer, while his father chose the fast street life; Omeri used music as his escape.

The album opens up with the title track itself, 'Day Dream'n', a very upbeat and melodic track if ever there was. The funky guitar funk of 'Guess I'll Be Waiting' is next and that's backed by both 'Read Your Mind' and the lush ballad 'Don't Look For Me.'

The mid-tempo flow of 'Genuine Love' is up next and that's backed by one of the best tracks on this album, in my humble opinion, the heartfelt love song 'One Night.' the album is then rounded out by a couple of redo's in the shape of 'Day Dream'n (Extended)' and then, and at just over a minute in length, 'One Night (Reprise)'.

Title - 'All for Nothin'
Artist - J-Bella

For those not in the know, Three 2 Go Music is proud to introduce singer/songwriter J-Bella to the public. Someone who has made singing not only a passion, but something that has influenced every facet of her life, her debut album All For Nothin is out March 24th, 2017.

Growing up listening to artists like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, J-Bella doesn’t sing just to be heard, but has even gone so far as to put her personal diary into lyrics from this aforementioned new album, All For Nothin.

Ensuring that every word is sung from the heart, additional musical influences include Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. “I love how they tell stories with their songs while they simultaneously blow audiences away with the beauty of their sound,” says J-Bella, as she helps promote the album that, in truth, once listened to needs no promotion to become a top selling album - it's just that good.

1. 'Shine (Remix)'
2. 'I Choose You'
3. 'All For Nothin'
4. 'Game'
5. 'Haters'
6. 'Up Down'
7. 'Shine'
8. 'Shine (Bonus Mix)'

The album opens up with the upbeat R&B finger-snappin' sway of 'Shine (Remix)' and backs it up with both the piano ballad 'I Choose You' and the hand on heart title track, 'All For Nothin'. 'Game' is next and is followed by the brilliant, and genuinely heartfelt ballad 'Haters'. The R&B old school funk of 'Up Down' is also my favorite track from this great album, and that's backed by the radio edit single 'Shine', with the album coming to a close with 'Shine (Bonus Mix)'.

Following in the historic footsteps of the greats that have preceded her, J-Bella is poised to blaze a whole new trail with All For Nothin; and deservedly so. Listen to this album online then (come March 24th) go and physically buy it for it will be something that you simply cannot stop playing, of that you have my word.

Title - 'Walking In Twos' [EP]
Artist - Amanda Abizaid

For those not in the know, singer/songwriter Amanda Abizaid is releasing a new EP in support of, a non-profit organization that helps children get the best education possible through the betterment of existing schools, working “from the inside out.”

Amanda Abizaid was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to an American mother and a Mexican/Lebanese father. She traveled the Middle East and Europe with her family before the age of ten, when she moved with her mother and brother to the United States. Along with her four sisters, she formed a band and developed a talent for harmonies.

Walking In Twos, the aforementioned new EP features the legendary Stephen Stills, and is a 7-track CD that also includes two diverse mixes of the titular song, which was inspired by Amanda’s experiences with the Aeta Filipino children. The EP also features other original songs and will release worldwide on all digital platforms March 3rd, 2017, along with a limited physical release.

Simply put, the project’s goal is to create a self-sufficient revenue stream using proceeds from the song's downloads and streams to buy school supplies for the Aeta children of the Philippines.

1. 'Walking In Twos' (featuring Stephen Stills)
2. 'Lion's Den'
3. 'Set It Up'
4. 'Release Me'
5. 'One Love'
6. 'Promises Of Love'
7. 'Walking In Twos (Electronica Remix)'

Along with the stand out titular track, in both its forms, the other tracks are equally as memorable, especially the brilliantly cool, and original acoustic reggae-rock track 'One Love'. But, in truth it's the opening track, which showcases not only Abizaid's delicate vocals, but the beautiful choir-like harmonies behind her. Complete with children singing a whole chorus unto themselves, the aforementioned 'One Love' is a pure joy to behold.

Seriously, and together with its message, it's as good a reggae tune as I've heard in the past few years. In this day and age, it's a rare sight, a woman attempting reggae, but here Abizaid embraces the genre turning the musical outlet into a masterstroke of a song. Another track that pleases the soul is the bi-lingual 'Promises Of Love', a track that not only speaks to us (quite literally) in different ways, but incorporates a transforming trip-hop back beat (featuring Egyptian oud player Ahmed Kamal).

And the trip-hop is also prevalent, and courses beautifully through an earlier track, 'Set It Up', a song that also features World flute melodies, with 'Lion’s Den' being a simpler, acoustic rock melded with subtle moments of electronica musical delight. 'Release Me' is an ambient electronic track, another bi-lingual musical moment also, and one co-produced with Mixman Shawn.

Amanda Abizaid @ Twitter

Amanda Abizaid @ Facebook

Title - 'The Man In The High Castle Seasons 1 & 2'
Artist - Henry Jackman & Dominic Lewis

For those of you not in the know, The Man in the High Castle is an American dystopian alternative history television series produced by Amazon Studios, Scott Free, Headline Pictures, Electric Shepherd Productions and Big Light Productions.

Taking place in 1962—in an alternate history of the world in which the Axis powers won World War II and subdivided the world, splitting the United States into two powers, the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States—the series follows characters from both sides whose destinies intertwine after coming into contact with a series of propaganda films that show a vastly different history from that of their own.

Loosely based on the 1962 novel of the same name by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick, the just-released soundtrack to The Man in the High Castle contains the first two seasons of the highly acclaimed TV series over two discs.

Disc: 1 - 1. Edelweiss (1:23) 2. Alternate Outcome (3:21) 3. Chapter 12 Verse 5 (3:44) 4. Neuland (1:33) 5. The Crown Prince's Speech (3:07) 6. Attentater (2:32) 7. The Grasshopper Lies Heavy (3:34) 8. A Grave Situation (4:47) 9. Unofficial Treaties (1:47) 10. Too Good For This World (1:42) 11. Fate Is Fluid (4:20) 12. Vorsatz (4:11) 13. The Necklace (1:21)

Disc: 2 - 1. Kintsugi (1:33) 2. Juliana's Letter (4:00) 3. Cherry Blossoms (3:42) 4. Lebensborn (3:12) 5. Dinner and a Funeral (2:09) 6. Donning The Suit (3:04) 7. Leaving Work Early (1:20) 8. Kotimichi (2:20) 9. Plague To The Pharaohs (3:58) 10. Fulfilled Prophecy (1:27) 11. Skyrockets in Flight (1:34) 12. Verrater (2:42) 13. Hitler Youth (2:42) 14. Hawthorne Abendsen (3:08) 15. Tomorrow Belongs To Me (2:37)

Indeed, Season 1 is composed by both Henry Jackman and Dominic Lewis, whilst Season 2 is Lewis alone. To my mind, Composer Lewis has helped create an overall score that mixes the familiar and the foreign into a sound that includes recurring themes for specific characters and orchestration links the actions of characters heard throughout the series.

Lewis attached certain sounds and instruments to the main characters: a cello highlights Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos), while notes from a French horn accompany scenes with Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank). The composer then created a fast-paced piano theme that links the characters through the course of the series. Using classical orchestration as the basis of the score, he morphs tones and notes, manufacturing a soundscape that’s vaguely familiar yet completely foreign.

“I wanted to use Western orchestration as the tent pole, then twist it with sound design created from organic things,” Lewis himself has said about his work.

Though known by some for his producing, programming, and writing work in the pop and electronic realms, Henry Jackman is best known as a film composer for action and animated features such as X-Men: First Class, Big Hero 6, and Captain America: Civil War. Born in Hillingdon of suburban London, England, his work here on The Man in the High Castle is just as warranted as Lewis', and just as thought provoking, of that you can be assured.

What Jackman brings to the table here is a common theme running through many of the tracks also, sure, but when the theme is as powerful and electric as it can get, it's his tried and tested depth of experimentation that brings a startling climax to most of them. Unlike many soundtracks, most of his tracks continue to build as the scene progresses and then when it hits the aforementioned climax, it stays there. Content within itself without being overly abusive to the listener. The two composers together on Season 1 bring, for me, the best out of the soundtrack to both seasons, but buy it for yourself and you can make your own minds up.

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Founder - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'
Artist - Carter Burwell

For those of you not in the know, The Founder stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc in the little known story behind the biggest food retailer in the world – McDonalds.

Indeed, and as a stand alone movie, the story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers' innovative fast food eatery, McDonald's, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness is one of true passion, true inspirational meaning to us all.

So, to add an underlying score to such a euphoric story was always going to be the hardest part. For, you know the story, the success before the movie even starts, so the last thing you want is to be distracted by a "bouncy" score and such.

So Carter Burwell, coming off his highly acclaimed and Oscar nominated score for Carol, was the most perfect of choices. Delivering yet another top notch composition, Carter (also known for having scored nearly all the Coen Brothers’ films) coupled together a handful of 50's and 60's favorites (from Doris Day and Norman Greenbaum, to the Penguin Café Orchestra and The DixieAires (amongst others) and brings to us a memorable, and yet not overpowering back beat to this sensational film.

1. San Bernardino (1:37)
2. Multimixer Man (2:45)
3. Mister Tap Toe (Performed by Doris Day
with Paul Weston & His Orchestra and The Norman Luboff Choir) (2:15)
4. Persistence (1:23)
5. I’m Not Like I Used To Be (Performed by The DixieAires) (2:16)
6. First Taste (1:59)
7. The Creation Of The Burger (1:43)
8. Sh! Baby's Asleep (Performed by Orin Tucker and His Orchestra with Bonnie Baker & The Bodyguards) (2:59)
9. The Arches (2:30)
10. Overnight Sensation (1:40)
11. Tennis Court (2:06)
12. Music For A Found Harmonium (Performed by Penguin Café Orchestra) (3:39)
13. Flags And Steeples (2:06)
14. Franchise For America (:58)
15. Be Right One Time (1:29)
16. Slow Down Baby (Performed by Bob Gaddy and His Alley Cats) (2:44)
17. Crass Commercialism (3:27)
18. Fifty-Fifty Love (Performed by The Ramblers) (2:46)
19. A Team (2:32)
20. Ray Rallies Troops (2:34)
21. Minneapolis (1:02)
22. Pennies From Heaven (Performed by Michael Keaton and Linda Cardellini)(1:36)
23. A Wolf In The Henhouse (1:17)
24. Ray Confronted (1:21)
25. Surprise Inspection (1:02)
26. Franchise Realty Road Show (1:52)
27. Fortune Favors The Bold (1:57)
28. Blank Check (1:20)
29. Divorce (1:58)
30. Let’s Make A Deal (1:35)
31. Secret To Success (2:54)
32. Number One (:58)

CD Purchase Link

Title - ' xXx: Return Of Xander Cage'
Artist - Brian Tyler and Robert Lydecker

For those of you not in the know, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is a brand new American action film directed by D. J. Caruso and written by F. Scott Frazier. It stars Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Toni Collette and Samuel L. Jackson and is the third installment in the 'xXx' franchise; and a sequel to both 'xXx' (2002) and 'xXx: State of the Union' (2005).

The original 'xXx' film grossed 277 million at the box office and Vin Diesel’s global profile has never been higher as a result of the Fast and Furious chain. In this latest adventure, Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.

Composer Brian Tyler, who was the primary composer for the Fast and Furious soundtracks, including last year’s 'Furious 7' was just the most perfect choice ever to take control of the musical helm here. Alongside Emmy-nominated composer Robert Lydecker (TVs 'Sleepy Hollow'), the duo have created 21 tracks that both power on through and at just the right time, slow the roll to a mid tempo fluctuating pulse; as if their own lives depended on it also.

Tyler, who in the past year has also helmed blockbusters such as 'The Avengers: Age of Ultron', 'Now You See Me 2', 'Truth', 'Criminal' and 'The Disappointments Room' tackles each cinematic moment solidly and together with Lydecker, their ensure that this soundtrack score resonates with each scene that plays out.

For, and as you would fully expect, Tyler brings all the electronic tricks and gizmos that makes the whole Fast & Furious series what it is. With plenty of upbeat rhythms and techno that pulses throughout, be aware though that Tyler sure can spin a soulful and heartfelt melody out of them too.

1. xXx The Return of Xander Cage (4:05)
2. Xander Cage ... Live and In Concert (1:55)
3. I Live for This $#!% (4:15)
4. Windfall (2:22)
5. Carte Blanche (3:01)
6. Launched (4:08)
7. The Last Great Adventure (5:38)
8. Pandora’s Box (2:58)
9. Rock, Paper, Scissors, Grenade Launcher (2:19)
10. A New Ride (2:42)
11. Tattoos and Triangulation (3:34)
12. Evolution (5:42)
13. Wave Riders (3:45)
14. Twenty Two and a Half (3:05)
15. Battle of the X’s (5:33)
16. Not So Special Forces (2:42)
17. Read Between the Lines (3:51)
18. Besting the Best of the Best (2:28)
19. xXx Incorporated (2:40)
20. Xero Gravity (2:38)
21. Brotherhood (1:35)

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Emerger'
Artist - Carptree

For those of you not in the know, Carptree is progressive, symphonic rock music from Sweden. Formed in 1997 in Stockholm, Sweden, by songwriters Niclas Flinck (vocals) and Carl Westholm (keyboards and production), from 2001-2010 they released five albums and have performanced live all over the world.

Now, come April 7th, 2017, Carptree will release their brand new album, the quite stunning Emerger. With a physical vinyl LP out on May 5th, 2017 via Reingold Records, Carptree's latest musical venture is, to my mind at the very least, their best yet.

A true work of prog rock art, and a heartfelt one at that, Emerger couldn't have been any better titled for this new album has had some of its songs, in various manners, cluttering their collective minds for years now. "This album was a really slow starter," admits the band themselves. "We started already in 2014 with some of the songs, the first two song was 'Fleeting Deep' and 'Ultimately Lifeless' which both have taken a lot of different shapes along the process."

"'Between Extremes' is also a song that has been around in different shapes for many years. First we recorded it in 2009, but was not happy and cut it down to a short version which ended up on Nymf 'Between Extremes, Prelude', then rewrote it and planned to release it as a single in 2012, but was not happy with the result."

"So again we rewrote it and when we recorded it with Jesper Skarin on the drums and Carl rerecorded everything with just his Fender Rhodes and organ and we were finally happy with it. That's why we wanted to release that song already in May 2016 as a Maxi single to give that special song a chance to stand on it's own.”

I mean, just listening to the immense opening track, the eight minute long opus 'The Fleeting Deep' should kick off your day on a high, positive note. The frenetic building, soaring styling coupled with Niclas Flinck's unmistaken, and haunting at times vocals never lets go of your senses thereafter or throughout.

The steady pace of 'Between Extremes' (yet another eight minute track of wonderment) is perhaps my own personal favorite here. With a hint of the original Marillion running throughout it, its back beat, more rock than prog aspects are a joy to behold; as are each and every track here on Emerger.

1. The Fleeting Deep
2. Between Extremes
3. The River
4. Ultimately Lifeless
5. Never To Return And Never Ever Leave
6. Porous
7. Immersive Attention
8. Dwindle Into Greatness (Bonus Track, New Mix)

Inclusive of a remixed version of their 'Dwindle Into Greatness' track, which was originally the B-side of the Maxi single released in May 2016), the aforementioned vinyl LP will also feature the other 7 tracks; and will be released as two versions: Black and Transparent Marine Blue) via FOSFOR Creation label.

Carptree @ Facebook

Title - 'The Failure of Words'
Artist - Yang

For those of you not in the know, Yang's first album A Complex Nature came out in 2004 on Cuneiform Records. They had some fantastic reviews for the record from all over the world and so started to play concerts all over Europe. Living in Nice at that time, but with guitarist Frédéric having moved to Paris, it became more and more difficult to get together for Yang.

However, they managed to release a sophomore album Machines, which they also put out themselves, but sadly, and like most self-productions was not a big success due to a lack of marketing and serious promotion.

But now, and after six years away from the music world, Yang (which in the Tao De Jing means the force of opening and making a statement to the world) are back with a third album opus on The Failure of Words. Having brought it together through a very public crowdfunding project via, Yang (Federic L'Epee / guitars, keyboards; Laurent James / guitars; Nico Gomez / bass; and Volodia Brice / drums) are now ready to reclaim their Swedish prog rock crown.

1. El Diablo (7:18)
2. Six Four Five (5:21)
3. Iago (4:12)
4. 9/8 Variations (8:03)
5. Babel Inside (6:02)
6. Slow Flow (Flux Lent) (5:29)
7. Indecision (5:40)
8. Decroissance (Degrowth) (5:28)
9. Healing (Guerison) (6:09)

Recorded at Le Cri de la Tarente studio, La Ciotat, France and with all songs composed by Frederic L'Eppe (except "Iago": Gomez-L'Eppe), this new album was well worth the wait, trust me. From the off, the jangling guitar and drum jam of 'El Diablo' leads you down a rhythmic prog rock path that never once takes its foot off the pedal. Never losing its way, the melodic, softer if you will 'Six Four Five' is a sheer delight to behold, with the bass-led, but drum held 'Iago' yet another perfect track to behold.

Although all great in their own right, another couple of stand out cuts for me are both 'Slow Flow (Flux Lent)' (perfectly titled for what comes forth) and the massive sounding, energy-filled 'Décroissance (Degrowth)'. Bringing it all to a close with the stirring, the haunting at times 'Healing (Guérison)', The Failure of Words showcases a band back to their very best.

Yang @ PledgeMusic

Title - 'D-I-V-O-R-C-E / Stand By Your Man' [Import]
Artist - Tammy Wynette

For those not in the know, although quite how is beyond me, Tammy Wynette was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of country music's best-known artists and biggest-selling female singers.

Indeed, Wynette was called the "First Lady of Country Music", and her best-known song, "Stand by Your Man", is one of the best-selling hit singles by a woman in the history of country music. Many of her hits dealt with classic themes of loneliness, divorce, and the difficulties of life and relationships.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Wynette charted 20 No. 1 songs and along with Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, she is credited with having defined the role of women in country music during the 1970s.

This brand new CD contains classic country music, the real McCoy featuring a truly one voice-of-a-kind singing timeless country songs. Here together on the same one disc CD are two albums headed up by ground-breaking classics, ‘D-I-V-O-R-C-E’ and ‘Stand By Your Man’, songs that assured the future of a rising star back in the late 1960s.

1. 'Gentle on My Mind'
2. 'Honey (I Miss You)'
3. 'The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde'
4. 'All Night Long'
5. 'Sweet Dreams'
6. 'Yesterday'
7. 'D-I-V-O-R-C-E'
8. 'Come on Home'
9. 'When There's Fire in Your Heart'
10. 'Kiss Away'
11. 'Lonely Street'

Known as the singer with a sob in her voice who frequently lived the heartache and heartbreak heard in the lyric of many of her songs, Wynette's D.I.V.O.R.C.E. was her third studio album. Released in 1968 it unpredictably reached number 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart; given that her first two failed to. The album opener is the fast guitar twanging of 'Gentle On My Mind', and boy, what a way to open any album, at any time, in any era. The paced 'Honey (I Miss You)' is yet another delight ("... slipped and almost fell and you laughed until you nearly cried"), and that's backed by both backwoods vibrant storytelling of 'The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde' and then the mid-tempo seduction of 'All Night Long'.

The lush 'Sweet Dreams' is next and in addition to the new material that was featured here, the album contained covers of songs that had been recent hits for Glen Campbell, Ronnie Dove, Bobby Goldsboro, The Beatles, Kitty Wells, and Patsy Cline. And that's what we get next, a haunting cover of The Beatles' 'Yesterday', before both the title track single 'D-I-V-O-R-C-E'(which reached number 1 on the Country Singles chart) and the piano ballad 'Come on Home'. This first album of the two then rounds out with the upbeat fun of 'When There's Fire in Your Heart', the slow guitar twang remorse of of 'Kiss Away', and then the heartfelt 'Lonely Street.'

12. 'Stand By Your Man'
13. 'It's My Way'
14. 'Forever Yours'
15. 'I Stayed Long Enough'
16. 'It Keeps Slipping My Mind'
17. 'My Arms Stay Open Late'
18. 'I've Learned'
19. 'Cry, Cry Again'
20. 'Joey'
21. 'If I Were a Little Girl'
22. 'Don't Make Me Go to School'

Released in 1969, Wynette's massive Stand By Your Man album reached No. 2 on the Billboard Albums chart, and rightfully so. Kicking off with the titular song, the now worldwide hit 'Stand by Your Man', the track was co-written by Wynette and Billy Sherrill. Originally recorded by Wynette and released as a single in the United States in September 1968 it proved to be the most successful record of Wynette's career, and is one of the most recorded songs in the history of country music. Furthermore, the song was placed at number one on CMT's list of the Top 100 Country Music Songs.

Following that was always going to be a hard act, but both the tender pairing of the romantic 'It's My Way' and 'Forever Yours' do just that admirably. The feisty telling-it-like-it-is 'I Stayed Long Enough' is next and is followed by both the flowing 'It Keeps Slipping My Mind' and the lush orchestrations behind 'My Arms Stay Open Late.'

One of my favorite Wynette tracks on this second album is the countrified R&B of 'I've Learned' and that's followed by the Latin sway of 'Cry, Cry Again' and then a track that really showcases her superb vocals, 'Joey.' This second album of the one disc set then comes to a close with the piano-led 'If I Were a Little Girl', and then heartbreaking daughter to mother plea, 'Don't Make Me Go To School.'

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Title - 'The Sea Of Love: Expanded Edition'
Artist - The Adventures

For those not in the know, The Adventures were a Northern Irish rock band, formed in Belfast in 1984. The band later moved to London where they signed to Chrysalis Records and released their first single in 1984.

Following their debut album released a year later the group moved to Elektra Records and scored their biggest hit, 'Broken Land'. The song was written by guitarist Pat Gribben and reached number 20 in the UK Singles Chart, and was also the most played song on BBC Radio 1 in 1988.

The band were actively recording and touring from 1984 up until 1993, but despite the backing of Simon Fuller, the Adventures never achieved a significant commercial breakthrough. In recent years, the band have reformed to play low key live gigs and festivals in Belfast, although no further studio recordings have been made.

This brand new The Sea Of Love: Expanded Edition reissue is the first time that alnum has been revisited on CD in nearly 30 years. The eight bonus tracks are culled from the various singles plucked from the album – ‘Broken Land’, ‘One Step From Heaven’ and ‘Drowning In The Sea Of Love’.

1. 'Drowning in the Sea of Love'
2. 'Broken Land'
3. 'You Don't Have to Cry Anymore'
4. 'The Trip to Bountiful (When the Rain Comes Down)'
5. 'Heaven Knows Which Way'
6. 'Hold Me Now'
7. 'The Sound of Summer'
8. 'When Your Heart Was Young'
9. 'One Step from Heaven'
10. 'Broken Land (Acoustic Version)'
11. 'Don't Stand on Me'
12. 'Stay Away'
13. 'The Curragh of Kildare'
14. 'Drowning in the Sea of Love (Single Version)'
15. 'One Step from Heaven (Extended Remix)'
16. 'Instant Karma'
17. 'Broken Land (Single Version)'

The first track (which was also their second single released from the album) is the brilliant, poetic 'Drowning In the Sea Of Love', a track that resonates now as much as did when it was first written/recorded back some 30 years ago. The stunning, oh my God, hands down effortlessly brilliant first single from the album 'Broken Land' still sits with me today as a radio memory from my youth (and yes, I also have both the 7" and 12" vinyl's of it). Next up is flowingly free opus 'You Don't Have To Cry Anymore', and that's backed by both 'The Trip To Bountiful (When The Rain Comes)' and the upbeat synth pop of 'Heaven Knows Which Way.'

'Hold Me Know' sees the band doing their best Simple Minds impression (go on then, I dare you to listen to it and not hear a young Simple Minds vine there in the mix), the lovely jubbly days of our youth in 'The Sound Of Summer', and then the original album comes to a close with the euphoric 'When Your Heart Was Young' and the third single, the beautiful mid-tempo 'One Step From Heaven.'

All contained on the one disc, next up is 'Broken Land (Acoustic Version)', which having not heard for the past 30 years, still proved to be an uplifting experience for me today. The immense piano and guitar work behind the original version is now replaced with a gentle set of piano work, and along with the removal of electric guitars and with lead singer Terry Sharpe's haunting vocals tempered, well, it was a really lovely musical experience. [FYI - It is the bonus track on the 12" vinyl and the CD Single of the original 'Broken Land single, released in 1988].

The B-Side to their 'Broken Land' 7" Single, 'Don't Stand On Me' is up next and is a rip-roaring cut, that's for sure. Indeed, it always makes me question why it was relegated to a B-Side in the place, for, to be quite honest, it's a great track. Moving on and 'Stay Away' is then followed up by the deep, thoughtful storytelling of 'The Curragh of Kildare'. Also known as 'The Winter it is Past', it's a folk song particularly associated with the Irish tradition and here The Adventures do it sweet justice.

'Drowning in the Sea of Love (Single Version)' sounds just like the album track, 'One Step from Heaven (Extended Remix)' is much the same as the original too, save for some stretched out instrumental moments, but the end of this Expanded Edition of The Sea Of Love is saved nicely by a stunning cover of John Lennon's 'Instant Karma'. Originally the B-Side of 'One Step From Heaven', the album is then rounded out 'Broken Land (Single Version)'.

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Title - 'Remixes & Rarities' [Import]
Artist - A Flock Of Seagulls

For those not in the know, A Flock of Seagulls are an English new wave and synthpop band originally formed in 1980 in Liverpool by Michael "Mike" Score (keyboards, vocals) and his brother Alister "Ali" James Score (drums); with their most famous line-up consisting of the Score brothers along with Francis Lee "Frank" Maudsley (bass) and Paul Reynolds (guitar).

The group had a string of international hit singles including "I Ran (So Far Away)" (1982), "Space Age Love Song" (1982), "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" (1982), and "The More You Live, the More You Love" (1984). They became notable in the 1980s for their video for "I Ran (So Far Away)" and even won a Grammy Award for the album track, "D.N.A." (from A Flock of Seagulls) in 1983 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Come March 31st, 2017 and a very unique 2CD collection sourced from A Flock Of Seagulls’ 7″ and 12″ singles and featuring rare mixes, remixes and b-sides (many appearing on CD for the first time in the UK) will be released entitled Remixes & Rarities.

Sourced from the material from the original production master tapes, Remixes & Rarities the CD booklet features a brand new design as front cover, along with a full UK discography with many of the band’s front covers and lyrics of the band’s singles.

Disc: 1
1. I Ran (So Far Away) (U.S. 7" Version) 2. Space Age Love Song (7" Version) 3. Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) (7" Version) 4. Nightmares (7" Version) 5. Rosenmontag (Shorter Version) 6. Transfer Affection (7" Version) 7. I Ran (Live) 8. It's Not Me Talking (7" Version) 9. Never Again (7" Version) 10. Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) (Long Version) 11. Nightmares (12" Version) 12. Committed (Short Version) 13. The Traveller (Live) 14. The More You Live the More You Love (Full Moon Mix)

Disc: 2
1. I Ran (Longer Version) 2. Never Again (The Dancer) (12" Version) 3. Heartbeat Like a Drum (Full Length Version) 4. Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) (U.S. Edit 12" Promo Version) 5. The Flight of Yuri Gagarin (Full Length Version) 6. Rosenmontag (Long Version) 7. Nightmares (U.S. 12" Promo Version) 8. I Ran (So Far Away) (Edited Version) 9. Never Again (The Dancer) (Re-Mix) 10. Space Age Love Song (Live) 11. Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) (Short Version) 12. Who's That Girl (She's Got It) (Instrumental) 13. Single Medley

Stepping through the tulips of the tracks that stand out amongst this diamond plethora of fantastic AFOS history, all the 7" Versions are everything that you've heard before, so when we get something on the first disc such as live versions of both 'I Ran (So Far Away) (Live)' and 'The Traveller' it catches your attention. Those and a 12" Version of 'Nightmares' alongside a rather interesting 'The More You Live The More You Love (Full Moon Mix)' are craftily snuck away amongst all those aforementioned 7" Versions and, weirdly, Short Versions of hits and such.

The second disc is much more of a treasure trove of musical goodies for us fans, for a great 'I Ran (So Far Away) (Longer Version)' kicks it all off in style. That's backed by a stunning, and lesser heard 'Never Again (The Dancer) (12" Version), which itself is followed by 'Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) (U.S. Edit 12" Promo Version)' and, to my mind, an unearthed gold nugget in the form of 'The Last Flight Of Yuri Gagarin (Full Length Version)' that clocks in at just over seven glorious minutes.

Another lesser heard track is 'Rosenmontag (Long Version)' which is a joy to hear in this longer form, and that's coupled with a great Re-Mix of 'Never Again (The Dancer)' and live version of 'Space Age Love Song'. Again adding in between the cracks more Promo versions (that don't differ all that much from what we're used to having heard over the past 30 years), and some Short Versions and even an Instrumental ('Who's That Girl (She's Got It)'), the second disc rounds out with a hit 'Single Medley'. Not a bad track, but, again, all stuff we've heard before on the radio, just quickly cobbled together.

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Title - 'Live At George’s Club 20'
Artist - Curtis Knight [featuring Jimi Hendrix]

Known for his connection to Jimi Hendrix, Mont Curtis McNear aka Curtis Knight, was an American musician who sadly passed away in 1999. Originally being backed by a group of musicians he coined as Don Covay's Goodtimers, that all changed when he renamed them The Squires.

Now, as much as the recently released You Can't Use My Name The RSVP PPX Sessions (2015) from Curtis Knight & The Squires also came with the sales-inspiring tagline "feat. Jimi Hendrix," and as much as it was also released as an Authorized Hendrix Family Edition CD (through the Experience Handrix label), Dagger Records has now followed that up with another Curtis Knight [featuring Jimi Hendrix] album of cuts, Live At George’s Club 20 - December 1965 & January 1966.

Initially released on CD, but to be followed by a spectacular double vinyl LP version for Record Store Day on April 21st, 2017, this latest Hendrix-involved album has never officially been released in the U.S. before. So, that alone might well bring more eyes to the prize, so to speak, but that aside, these recordings showcase Hendrix's explosive guitar work and lead vocal performances that we all subsequently fell in love with.

Indeed, it was that very same on stage, live action passion for his chosen art that Animals bassist Chas Chandler witnessed less than a year before becoming his manager and moving him to England to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Then known as Jimmy James, the 23 year-old Hendrix was brought into his pre-Squires band the Lovelights by Curtis Knight and told to do what he does best. Listening to each one of these 15 tracks (given that the first is simply the grainy introduction and the last is a band outro), sure the tracks are raw, overly loud in places, distorted even, but the passion Hendrix was asked to bring is thread throughout like snake poison.

1) Introduction
2) Killing Floor
3) Last Night
4) Get Out Of My Life Woman
5) Ain’t That Peculiar
6) Mercy, Mercy
7) I’m A Man
8) Driving South
9) Baby What You Want Me To Do
10) I’ll Be Doggone
11) Sweet Little Angel
12) Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go
13) Travelin’ To California
14) What I Say
15) Land Of 1000 Dances
16) Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)
17) Band Outtro
Already somewhat of a veteran, having already toured and recorded with, among others, the Isley Brothers and Little Richard, Hendrix controlled everything there was to on stage over these live recorded gigs in late 1965, early 1966. Indeed, these recordings, all made at George’s Club 20 in Hackensack, NJ serve today as a musical flashback to a time when live music meant not just lined up starring at the band playing, whilst only your feet moved. For, and as can be witnessed on the back cover art of this incredible release, the band played on whilst the audience danced their hearts out, not one person stood still watching Hendrix and the guys performing.

A testament to the band and the danceability of their music, if you look closely enough at that aforementioned back cover art, you'll also see Hendrix is "playing" his guitar with his teeth! I kid you not. I mean, had you have known who this 23 year-old was going to turn out to be, you would have stood gazing, awestruck at just that musical feat alone. But no, he was just a brought-into-the-mix guitar man, a slinger for hire at the time, and he did his job to a tee for Knight and his guys.

As for "his guys", for these performances the Lovelights were bassist Ace Hall, drummer Ditto Edwards and saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood, who all blended perfectly with Hendrix to bring the crowd en mass of hip shakin' rock and roll, soul and blues songs of the day.

After the aforementioned introduction we get a blistering cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s 'Killing Floor' which is then backed by both 'Last Night' and a down and dirty 'Get Out Of My Life Woman.' 'Ain't That Peculiar' is a brilliant guitar fest of a song, and that in turn is followed by Don Covay's 'Mercy, Mercy,', 'I'm A Man', 'Driving South' (Albert Collins), and then 'Baby What You Want Me To Do' and a stunning rendition of the Marvin Gaye hit 'I'll Be Doggone.'

The delightful 'Sweet Little Angel' is up next and is a pure joy to behold and then comes the unadulterated rock 'n' roll beats of 'Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go', with 'Travelin' To California', Ray Charles' 'What I Say' and Chris Kenner’s 'Land of 1000 Dances' up next. The frenetic 'Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)' is the last cut of these live recordings, before the band outro is played for the rapturous applause that can be heard for them that night.

With all the 17 tracks newly mixed by Eddie Kramer, the new CD has had its audio lovingly restored by removing all overdubs and effects, so fans can now hear what Chas Chandler did in that nightclub over a half century ago. It should also be known that Bernie Grundman mastered Live At George’s Club 20 1965 & 1966 for optimum audio fidelity.

This is an incredible, nostalgic and delightfully rock 'n' roll blues album that, I for one, am so happy has at long last been allowed to come to the fore of our music attentions. Furthermore, it is a rich reminder to the new generation that real music was being made a long time before all this modern day, regurgitated sh*t was, sadly, marketed as being the songs of this decade!

Title - 'Game On!'
Artist - Tina Guo

For those not in the know, Tina Guo is a Chinese cellist and erhuist from Shanghai. Indeed, she has developed an international multi-faceted performance and recording career as a cellist, electric cellist, erhuist, and composer known for her distinctive sound, videos that showcase her talent against theatrical backdrops and elaborate costumes, mastery in a wide range of genres, and improvisatory style in major motion picture, television, and game scores.

At age five, she moved to the United States and has since gone on to appear as a soloist with the San Diego Symphony, the State of Mexico National Symphony, the Thessaloniki State Symphony in Greece, the Petrobras Symphony in Brazil, and the Vancouver Island Symphony in British Columbia.

Guo recorded her first solo CD, Autumn Winds in 2011. A classical/new-age album her other album releases include Journey (2011), Ray of Light (2014), Eternity (2014), Cello Metal (2015, and which for my money featured one of the best album covers that I've seen in a long, long time), Peter Katar & Tina Guo on Inner Passion (2016), Tina Guo & Composers for Charity, A Cello Christmas, and many stand alone singles.

And so now, the evolution of internationally acclaimed cellist, Tina Guo has sprung forth once more as her wondrous, vibrant debut album for Sony Masterworks, Game On! is out now. This highly dynamic and dramatic album showcases some of the most popular and well-known video game music with epic orchestral arrangements led by Tina Guo's high-octane solos on electric and acoustic cello.

1. The Legend of Zelda
2. Final Fantasy VII
3. Chrono Trigger
4. World of Warcraft
5. Skyrim
6. Uncharted: Nate's Theme
7. Super Mario Bros.
8. Pokémon
9. Journey
10. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
11. Halo
12. Metal Gear Solid
13. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: Main Titles
14. Tetris

Included on this album of truly blockbuster video game music highlights are such top selling chart hits as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Halo, alongside such all-time classics such as Mario, Zelda and Final Fantasy. Add to that some critically acclaimed titles revered for their music such as Journey, Chrono Trigger and Metal Gear Solid, and Game On! (which is also such a great title) is ready to be adored - and rightly so.

Tina has performed to millions of people across the globe in sold-out venues from Carnegie Hall to Wembley Arena. She has shared the stage with some of music's biggest names including The Foo Fighters, Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Al Di Meola, Carlos Santana, Far East Movement, Ariana Grande, Skrillex and many more.

So, and with all that said, check out this new CD and once you fall in love with it, which you will, please know that Tina Guo will be touring extensively in the U.S. with Hans Zimmer and orchestra throughout 2017.

Title - 'Patriots and Poets'
Artist - Dailey & Vincent

For those not in the know, Dailey & Vincent is an American bluegrass and country music group composed of Jamie Dailey (guitar, bass, vocals), Darrin Vincent (mandolin, guitar, bass, vocals), Jeff Parker (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Patrick McAvinue (fiddle), Jessie Baker (banjo, guitar) , Aaron "Tex" McCune (guitar, bass vocals), and Shaun Richardson (guitar, mandolin, vocals).

Indeed, the multi-GRAMMY® nominees and three-time International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainers of the Year were formally inducted into the Grand Ole Opry March 11th, 2017 by Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show and Jeannie Seely. Furthermore, the duo had been invited to join the Opry by Marty Stuart during their 100th Opry appearance in December, which was an honor unto itself.

Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, backed by one of the best bands on tour today, are some of the most reputable and elite entertainers in American music; bluegrass, traditional country and gospel music. The concoction of the fantastically instinctive vocal blends of Dailey’s tenor and Vincent’s reedy harmonies has gained them well-deserved praise for their own distinctive style and worldwide recognition as American Music gold.

Shit, the boys have also garnered world-wide attention with their first national, top-rated television series, “The Dailey & Vincent Show,” on RFD TV and over 500 airings of their PBS special “Dailey & Vincent ALIVE - In Concert.” Their most recent CD, Dailey & Vincent ALIVE, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass charts and remained at the top position for over 15 weeks.

1. 'Gimme All the Love You Got'
2. 'Beautiful Scars'
3. 'Baton Rouge'
4. 'Until We're Gone' (featuring Taranda Greene)
5. 'Bill and Ole Elijah'
6. 'Unsung Heroes'
7. 'Spring Hill'
8. 'God's Love' (featuring Doyle Lawson)
9. 'California' (featuring Steve Martin)
10. 'Here Comes the Flood' (featuring Dave Rawlings)
11. 'That Feel Good Music'
12. 'He's Been So Good to Me'
13. 'No Place Love Won't Go' (featuring Bela Fleck)
14. 'That's What We're Put Here To Do'
15. 'America, We Love You'

Now they have brought out one of their best albums to date, in my humble opinion, the highly emotional, highly impressive Patriots and Poets via BFD (distributed via RED). What makes this all-original, genre-crossing album one of their best is the way the boys still continue to have a solid backbone mix of traditional bluegrass and gospel music, but for this eighth album have wrung a few beat changes with more upbeat songs combined lovingly with some just perfect slow sing-along anthems.

The harmonies on these 15 tracks are simply stunning, truly. For my money, Jamie Dailey has one of the purest (and highest) high tenor voices in the business and Darrin Vincent's vocals offer the perfect blend needed to create some memorable vocals combined. Among the album's strongest cuts (although they really are all great) are 'Beautiful Scars', 'Unsung Heroes', 'God's Love' (featuring Doyle Larson), 'California' (which features a very special verse by comedic and bluegrass enthusiast, and actor Steve Martin!), 'He's Been Good To Me', and the album closer 'America We Love You'.

Title - 'Songs Our Dads Wrote'
Artist - Wilson Fairchild

For those not in the know, Wilson Fairchildis a country music duo made up of Wil and Langdon Reid from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. These two men, referred to as “the Reid boys,” are highly acclaimed songwriters who have been writing, performing and playing music together their whole lives.

They both have been writing songs since their teenage years in between baseball and football games and girls, of course. Along with recording their own music, such artists as the Statler Brothers, Ricky Skaggs and Dailey & Vincent have also recorded their songs.

So yes, that means their songwriting gamut spans through the country, bluegrass and gospel fields. Indeed, and to spread their musical word a little farther now, Wilson Fairchild have just released a brand new album, Songs Our Dads Wrote, which hit stores this past February 7th, 2017 via Sony Red / BFD.

1. 'Left Handed Woman'
2. 'I'll Even Love You (Better Than I Did Then)'
3. 'How Are Things in Clay, Kentucky?'
4. 'She's Too Good'
5. 'Second Thoughts'
6. 'Some I Wrote'
7. 'Guilty'
8. 'A Letter From Shirley Miller'
9. 'He Went to the Cross Loving You'
10. 'The Statler Brothers Song'

This brand new, and highly stylized album features nine tracks originally co-written by their fathers, Harold and Don Reid, along with a special Wilson Fairchild penned tribute track, 'The Statler Brothers Song'. The album kicks off with 'Left Handed Woman', a track that virtually hums along on a brilliant harmonica back beat, with the more toned down tale of 'I'll Even Love You Better Than I Did Then', the lonesome harmonica driven 'How Are Things in Clay, Kentucky?', and then both 'She's Too Good' and the countrified 'Second Thoughts'.

'Some I Wrote' is a delightful storytelling yarn, and one you just know is as true as the day is long, and that's backed by the upbeat, train-a-comin' roll of 'Guilty', an old Statler Brothers hit originally released in 1983. With original Statler Brothers member Jimmy Fortune joining in on the vocals, it's a pure delight to sit back and close your eyes to.

The ballad 'A Letter from Shirley Miller' is next with the album rounding out with the Gospel flow of 'He Went to the Cross Loving You', and that aforementioned new track, 'The Statler Brothers Song'.

Wilson Fairchild @ Facebook

Title - 'I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone: Lazarus Edition'
Artist - James Luther Dickinson

For those not in the know, James Luther Dickinson was an American record producer, pianist, and singer who fronted, among others, the Memphis, Tennessee-based band Mud Boy and the Neutrons.

Dickinson was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and subsequently raised in Chicago and Memphis. He attended Baylor University as a drama major and eventually graduated from the University of Memphis, where he became acquainted with pioneering music journalist Stanley Booth.

Following graduation, he played on recording sessions for Bill Justis and recorded at Chips Moman's American Studios. Dickinson recorded what has been described as the last great single released by Sun Records — "Cadillac Man" b/w "My Babe" by The Jesters (1966) — playing piano and singing lead on both sides despite not being an actual member of the group.

Sadly, and after an illustrious career, the Memphis musician and record producer who worked with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Primal Scream died aged 67 of heart failure in August of 2009.

Amongst a plethora of musical endeavors throughout his star-studded career, in 1996 it was actually Dickinson's sons, Luther and Cody, who formed the group the North Mississippi Allstars. They also began playing on their father's sessions – Willy DeVille's 1999 album Horse of a Different Color, produced by Dickinson, is an excellent example of the family at work – and on Dickinson's several solo albums recorded over the past decade, which mixed blues, rock and beat poetics. In the 1990s the Dickinson's set up Zebra Ranch recording complex in Hernando, Mississippi.

I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone: Lazarus Edition is Jim's 5th album released on Memphis International Records. The Lazarus Edition is the second album culled from his Friday, June 2nd, 2006 concert on the stage of the New Daisy Theater on Beale Street. He is backed by the North Mississippi All Stars, which as you now know was inclusive of his sons Luther on guitar and vocals and Cody on bass and vocals along with de facto/honorary son Chris Chew on bass plus session jack-of-all-tracks Jimmy Davis on guitar and vocals.

This brand new Lazarus Edition album, to be released by Memphis International Records on vinyl April 4th, and on CD April 7th (and will also include a free MP3 download of the album) includes unreleased tracks from that live recording along with two historical live tracks featuring legendary Sun Records rhythm section band members including Roland Janes, Stan Kessler, Cowboy Jack Clement, Billy Lee Riley and J.M. Van Eaton.

1) 'Redneck, Blue Collar (unedited)'*
2) 'Lazarus'*
3) 'All Out of Blue'*
4) 'Hadacol Boogie'*

5) 'Fraulein'*
6) 'Band Intro'*
7) 'Somewhere Down the Road'*
8) 'Midnight River'*
9) 'Ubangi Stomp'+
10) 'I Forgot to Remember to Forget'+

*Recorded June 2, 2006 at the New Daisy Theater
+Recorded 1983 at Beale Street Music Festival

So, and for the record (no pun intended), I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone: Lazarus Edition is a retelling, in part, consisting of eight tracks recorded on June 2nd, 2006 at the New Daisy Theater on Beale Street in Memphis, together with both 'Ubangi Stomp' and 'I Forgot to Remember to Forget', which are both culled from a Dickinson performance at the Beale Street Music Festival in 1983. On that occasion he was backed by renowned Sun Records rhythm section band members Roland James, Stan Kessler, Cowboy Jack Clement, Billy Lee Riley and J.M. Van Eaton.

I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone is a reflection of Dickinson's lifelong affinity for songs that have style, substance and, are at the same time, truthful. The blues roots of his art is present in songs from the Furry Lewis and Sleepy John Estes catalogs along with tracks emblematic of Jim's career-long relationship with folk and soul music, all which he seamlessly transformed into sanctified rock 'n' roll in the barrel house tradition.

Indeed, and as anyone that knows of him will testify, Dickinson is very much alive on these incendiary tracks reaffirming the prescient contention that gives this remarkable set its title. That said, and yet still highly appropriately, the recording is also quite rough and unpolished. But that's not at all a problem though for Jim's gravelly voice suits the songs perfectly.

Backed by the North Mississippi All-Stars, in my humble opinion, tracks such as 'Red Neck, Blue Collar' (which appears here now as an unedited version for the first time), 'Never Make Your Move Too Soon,' and both 'Truck Drivin' Man' and the newly added 'I Forgot To Remember To Forget' are all stand out tracks. But that said, and as much as the entire album is a musical gem to behold, my actual stand out favorite is the deep down, dirt road crawling lyrics of 'Lazarus.' My God, the over five minutes long track encapsulates everything great about Dickinson right there in the one song.

In fact, I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone still feels to this day as if it's the one Dickinson would have wanted to go out on. It's how he would have wanted to be remembered. Surrounded by his favorite band. I'm listening right now to the new vinyl album and it's a stunningly beautiful album. Whether it be the original copy or this new Lazarus Edition, there is no doubt in my mind music like this still deserves to be heard.

It should also be known that 'I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone' is also to be released that very same day as a book; a memoir of sorts by the late Memphis musical legend. In the book, the man known simply as Jim Dickinson (1941-2009) proves he was not only rightly revered by such luminaries as Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Replacements, and Alex Chilton; patriarch of the North Mississippi Allstars, but that he was also a world-class storyteller. Read it and learn. That's all I can say.

Title - 'Eterniverse Déjŕ Vu'
Artist - Light Freedom Revival

For those not in the know, Canadian singer-songwriter John Vehadija has assembled a stellar cast for the project Light Freedom Revival, and their new album Eterniverse Déjŕ Vu was just released on March 7th, 2017.

Accompanying him are Billy Sherwood (Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards), Oliver Wakeman (Lead Keyboards), Eric Gillette (Lead Guitar) and Marisa Frantz (Harmony Vocals) as a like minded group of spiritual individuals who have joined together on this 13 track LP to lend their own skilled touches to help create a bigger sound in order to explore the concept of how consciousness and positive energy shape all our future destinies.

Here on Eterniverse Déjŕ Vu, John Vehadija has taken his artistic and imaginative background from a poet early on and used it as fuel to pursue his true calling as a professional musician, extending to the universe his gift of unique songwriting for all to enjoy.

01. 'New Lightspace Age'
02. 'An Idea of Freedom'
03. 'Where Words Fail'
04. 'Dream Again'
05. 'Form Hope'
06. 'Eterniverse Déjŕ Vu'
07. 'They Fit You In'
08. 'Go Amplify The Feeling'
09. 'Starting Over'
10. 'Place Of Power'
11. 'Stay Strong With Me'
12. 'Positive Light Code'
13. Enjoy The Now

Mastered by Maor Applebaum and with the vividly colorful and highly artful cover artwork done by Ed Unitsky, this wonderful progressive rock ensemble album begins with 'New Lightspace Age', a light, breezy, flowing track that was not anything I actually expected. Prog rock to me has always seemed heavier, more thoughtful in its bass lines, but here the Light Freedom Revival actually take heed from their name and play it out so too.

With that said, 'An Idea of Freedom' could be part two of the opening track, they are just so perfectly placed together here, and they are both followed by the storytelling and guitar work of 'Where Words Fail', the quieter pairing of 'Dream Again' and 'Form Hope', and then the fun gentle bounce of the title track, 'Eterniverse Déjŕ Vu'.

'They Fit You In' is more like the prog rock I've known before. Still grounded in the lighter spectrum of the genre, searing guitar work abounds, but for my money, it's one of my personal favorites on this brilliant new album. A slight reggae tip can be found freeflowing through 'Go Amplify The Feeling' and that's backed by 'Starting Over' and then the more stoic 'Place of Power'.

The pop bounce is back for 'Stay Strong With Me' and that is followed by the freneticly sung and played 'Positive Light Code' (a track that sounds like it's RPM's have simply been sped ever-so-slightly up!) and then the album is rounded out by the soft cushion chords of 'Enjoy the Now'.

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Non-Stop: Mexico to Jamaica'
Artist - Ozomatli

For those not in the know, Ozomatli is a six-piece band playing primarily Latin, hip hop, and rock music, formed in 1995 in Los Angeles. Indeed, they are known both for their vocal activist viewpoints and their wide array of musical styles - including salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, rap, and others.

The highly acclaimed multi-Grammy winning Latin-fusion group formed in 1995 and has since released seven studio albums - their eighth, Non-Stop: Mexico to Jamaica out May 5th, 2017. The group, also known for advocating for farm-workers' rights and immigration reform return on the aforementioned new album with an homage to their roots reinterpreting traditional and contemporary Mexican songs using signature Jamaican riddims!

The album features a bevy of superstar guest appearances including Juanes, Regulo Caro, Gaby Moreno, and Kyle McDonald (of Slightly Stoopid) plus additional production by famed Jamaican producers Sly & Robbie!

1. Eres
2. Como la Flor
3. Oye Mi Amor
4. Bésame Mucho Feat. Herb Alpert
5. Noa Noa Feat. Juanes
6. La Bamba Feat. Kyl McDonald of Slightly Stoopid
7. Solamente Una Vez Feat. Gaby Moreno
8. Andar Conmigo Feat. Regula Caro
9. De Paisano a Paisano
10. Evil Ways
11. Tragos Amargos
12. Volver Volver Feat. Mariachi Divas
13. Land of 1000 Dances Feat. G-Love & Chali 2Na
14. Come and Get Your Love

The opening track, 'Eres' is a pure, hipsway of culture, romance and sweat, as the longest track on the album is, for my money, also one of the true stand out highlights. The reggae bounce of 'Como la Flor' not only elevates your spirits, but showcases the vocal ranges brought forth by the band. The musical pace is picked up on the harder edged 'Oye Mi Amor', with the slo-mo slip-slide of 'Bésame Mucho' (featuring Herb Alpert) yet another highlight.

'Noa Noa' (featuring Juanes) is next and is backed by a Caribbean flow rendition of 'La Bamba' (featuring Kyle McDonald of Slightly Stoopid), before the pace is brought acoustically down for 'Solamente Una Vez', featuring the delightful voice of Gaby Moreno.

'Andar Conmigo' (featuring Regula Caro) keeps the reggae party going, and that's followed by the highly spirited and upbeat trumpet playing of 'De Paisano a Paisano' and the techno, slight EDM-vibes of 'Evil Ways.' A cover of the 1969 song from Santana, it's sung in English and is yet another stand out track on this album chock full of greatness.

All aboard the Caribbean train for Ramon Ayala's 'Tragos Amargos', before the subtle, paced, balladeer work of 'Volver Volver' (featuring Mariachi Divas) comes forth. For those not up on the scene, The Mariachi Divas with Cindy Shea is an all-female mariachi band based in Los Angeles, CA. Formed in 1999, Shea and her crew make this some something a little special, it has to be said.

This rich, vibrant, and colorful album then comes to a close with a stunning English-sung cover of Wilson Pickett's 'Land of 1000 Dances' (featuring G-Love & Chali 2Na), and then 'Come and Get Your Love'. Another English-sung track, this one a cover of Redbone's massive 1974 hit, it is a terrific firework of a song that makes you want to hear so much more from Ozomatli.

Timed to enable you all to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with them, Ozomatli are at their free flowing best here on Non-Stop: Mexico to Jamaica. To my mind, over the years Ozomatli has moved away from the fusion style of music they pioneered on their earlier albums, and toward a more radio-friendly pop-centric sound. While their music was still fun and catchy, this fall back to their comfort zone of heritage suits them perfectly.

Ozomatli @ Twitter

Title - 'Brit Eyed Soul'
Artist - Billy Valentine

One of the most renowned and influential voices of our time, not to mention the soulful voice heard in Sons Of Anarchy as well as the theme song of Boston Legal, now brings forth this superb tribute to Britain's most celebrated songwriters.

From The Stones to The Beatles, The Clash to Elvis Costello - you've never heard these songs sound as good as when Billy Valentine reinterprets them with a dramatically soulful twist.

For those not in the know, Billy Valentine was one half of The Valentine Brothers, an American recording act in the late 1970s and 1980s. Comprising himself and his brother John, they didn't set the charts alight, but one of their biggest hits, as singers and songwriters, was 'Money's Too Tight (To Mention)' - which reached #41 in the R&B chart in 1982 and was later recorded with greater worldwide success by Simply Red.

1. 'Beast of Burden'
2. 'Do You Really Want to Hurt Me'
3. 'How Long'
4. 'More Than a Woman'
5. 'Holding Back the Years'
6. 'Watching the Wheels'
7. 'Here, There and Everywhere'
8. 'First Cut Is the Deepest'
9. 'Train in Vain'
10. '(I Guess That's Why) They Call It the Blues'
11. 'Roll with It'
12. '(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding'

Now, in all truth, whether the fact I'm British has something to do with my adoration for this new album from Billy or not, it has to be said that I have now played it four (4) times, completely through each time. Oh, and people in the office are asking to take it so they can listen to it on their journey home!

Having come to life via Indiegogo, a website where entrepreneurial projects come to life, amplified by a community of backers who believe the world benefits when every idea gets a crowdfunding service as backing, it raised $11,740 USD via 70 backers. Having now come to life as a CD, for my money Brit Eyed Soul is, simply put, one of the best albums of 2017.

So, the man who was born two days after Valentine's Day on the 16th February, and who has always stated that his music has always been about the love, kicks off this richly beautiful album with The Rolling Stones cut, 'Beast Of Burden' A soulful, gentle blues sway of a cover, it's just perfect musical fodder to get your appetites wet for more. The next two songs he makes his own, in a way that I never expected to hear before. His soulful blues vocals wrap themselves lovingly around the Culture Club hit 'Do You Really Want To Hurt Me' and that's backed by one of my own personal favorites on this album, 'How Long'. Originally a 1974 hit by Ace, Billy tackles both this and the former as if they were his own originals.

Next up is a beautiful Bee Gees cover of 'More Than A Woman' and that's followed by one of his own hits from 1966, made famous by Simply Red in 2009, 'Holding Back The Years.' Having fully admitted that he and his studio musicians went through 60 or 70 songs to get the right fit for this album, one I'm personally glad this next one made the grade. John Lennon's 'Watching The Wheels' is a pure, unadulterated pleasure to listen to at any time, but now Billy twists and turns it a little and wow, these new soulful layers make this track something fresh.

The mid tempo ballad 'Here, There and Everywhere' is a sweet rendition of the Beatles' classic, and he continues his British take on Blue Eyed Soul with his version of Rod Stewart's classics 'First Cut Is The Deepest.' An ambitious cover of punk rock band The Clash's 'Train In Vain' is the most adventurous of all of them, but Billy wins out - just.

Now, I've never heard this next song from Elton John done anywhere, any time, any place before now, but Billy sure does nail it. '(I Guess That's Why) They Call It The Blues' is covered with perfection here and never having heard it done so before, I have to applaud Billy for making the choice to attempt it. The self-proclaimed "messenger" then brings us this album to a close with the sweeping blues of 'Roll With It' (Steve Winwood), and then a simply devastatingly brilliant cover of Elvis Costello's '(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding'.

Title - 'The Ghost of Hope'
Artist - The Residents

For those not in the know, The Residents are an American art collective best known for avant-garde music and multimedia works. Since their first official release, Meet the Residents (1974), the group has released over sixty albums, numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects, and ten DVDs.

They have undertaken seven major world tours and scored multiple films. Pioneers in exploring the potential of CD-ROM and similar technologies, the Residents have won several awards for their multimedia projects. Indeed, Ralph Records, a record label focusing on avant-garde music, was started by the band.

Throughout the group's existence, the individual members have ostensibly attempted to operate under anonymity, preferring instead to have attention focused on their art output. Much outside speculation and rumor has focused on this aspect of the group. In public, the group appears silent and costumed, often wearing eyeball helmets, top hats and tails—a long-lasting costume now recognized as its signature iconography.

And so, and following their aforementioned long tradition of projects based on narrative themes, The Residents are pleased to announce the release of The Ghost of Hope, an historically accurate album based on ... train wrecks!

Pursuing this theme in both a literal and metaphorical sense, the group discovered a series of vintage news articles highlighting the dangers of train travel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by the era's elegant language, the group then contrasted that eloquence against the sheer horror of these devastating events, resulting in an album that sounds both startlingly new and curiously nostalgic.

Using the familiar elements of music, spoken voice, sound effects and audio textures, The Residents have constructed a highly original series of tone poems quite unlike the music of anyone else - except, of course, The Residents. The Ghost of Hope also features guest collaborator Eric Drew Feldman - who has worked with everybody cool, so he's a perfect fit here - and will be released March 24th, 201 via MVD Audio.

1. 'Horrors Of The Night' (7:20)
2. 'The Crash At Crush' (6:47)
3. 'Death Harvest' (7:21)
4. 'Shroud Of Flames' (5:44)
5. 'The Great Circus Train Wreck Of 1918' (6:59)
6. 'Train Vs. Elephant' (4:05)
7. 'Killed At A Crossing' (9:02)

Musically, The Ghost of Hope is a sonic train ride (sorry) all of its own, for the musically terrain it travels and covers therein is sure going to be familiar to their legion of fans. For, to my mind, this new seven track album is a mighty fine sonic flashback to their Eskimo album (1979). Back then they were exploring soundscapes that they themselves didn't even know could/would fit together.

Here on The Ghost of Hope that philosophy seems to be back in full swing, as their musical exploration continues, working the idea of narrative into the music, allowing their musings to flow seamlessly throughout at all times. A totally new concept, as always (and as much as it's morbid, it sure seems to have stoked their collective fires), this album is as vibrant, as adventurous, as left of center as anything I have heard in the past decade.

With the plan being to release several videos for the albums tracks as time progresses, and with the digi-pak booklet accompanying The Ghost of Hope a spectacular accompaniment companion to the train tales being told (ie: it features details about the stories behind each of the songs as well as photographs), if you are a fan of The Residents, then this is the new soundtrack to your lives going forth, trust me.

The Residents @ Facebook!

Title - 'Gaeseki Dream Machine'
Artist - Dazed Marrow

For those not in the know, and as per the substantially acute words written within their own biography, somewhere between sinister, foreboding nightmares and sublime and celestial dreams, you will find Dazed Marrow.

An electronic musician currently based in South Korea, he refuses to be defined or directed. Indeed, Dazed Marrow manipulates electronic signals to produce music that reflects emotions, colors and his own personal thoughts.

Also, like any true artist of their chosen genre, he never considers a song finished, but views it as an ongoing organic process of creation and revision.

1. Intro
2. Venturing Into Etherea
3. Insomnia Euphoria
4. In Your Heart
5. Feel Better My Friend
6. Outside-In (Lucid Dream)
7. A Short One
8. Synergy
9. Binary Brain
10. The Universe
11. RQN Piano
12. Glass Jar
13. The Wait
14. Daeseki Gream Machine
15. Codex Gigas
16. Outro (Remix of JackCote†)

The new album, Gaeseki Dream Machine is a vibrantly alive work of sonic art and is something that one would fully expect to "see" take over the prestigious Art Galleries of today. Released this past March 3rd, 2017 via Cleopatra Records, Dazed Marrow produces some of the most sonically haunting soundscapes I've heard recorded in a long, long time.

With each track a stand alone, musically and thematically, and yet each textured and veritably haunting at the same time, shutting your eyes you could forgive yourself for allowing your mind to believe that you were at the Planetarium, or some other such Space-inspired venue.

Transcendent soundscapes such as 'Insomnia Euphoria' and 'Outside-In (Lucid Dream)' are, without a shadow of a doubt, audible works of art, and yet something like the crashing, audio tearing of 'Synergy' reminds you, much like life, not all tracks were created equally. The joyfully flowing, sped up key work of 'Rqn Piano' is another peculiar delight, as too is the rain-inspired 'Feel Better My Friend', along with my own personal favorite on the album, the melancholic mood melody of 'In Your Heart'.

The new album features all new material and rounds out with an exclusive remix of music by Washington-based witchhouse artist JackCote† (aptly entitled 'Outro').

Dazed Marrow @ Facebook!

Title - 'Red Reign' [EP]
Artist - Red Reign

For those not in the know quite yet, Red Reign were originally formed in summer of 2013 in Richmond. Singer/guitarist Carlton “Bubba” McMichael and drummer Sam "Sammy Lee" Bendhiem started the group, after leaving a cover band to pursue all original music and a month after putting the plan together, bassist Larry Moore was added to the band. Guitarist Stevie Shred was then added in early fall of 2015 to complete the band.

After releasing their debut full-length album Chasing Shadows in 2015, the group have now released their follow-up, a self-titled EP of five tracks that will blow your collective minds; it's just that feckin' good.

Overseen by Grammy-nominated producer, David Ivory (Halestorm, Roots, Silvertide), drummer Lee explained how they came to work with Ivory in the first place. "After signing with Chipster PR, we were directed to David Ivory, to help with the rewriting and rearrangement of songs for our upcoming CD. David made the songs flow better rhythmically and brought in fresh ideas, to build on the original foundation of the songs. He also brought a different vision of how the songs were played, to put the band in more of a mainstream direction.”

Well, whatever Ivory did has worked a treat for Red Reign's new EP, for each track is a well orchestrated, powerfully tuneful, and highly emotive collection of musical rock wonderment.

The opening track, 'Not That Way' is a true rock out gem, 'Toxic' a more frenetic venture, 'Chains' puts Red Reign back on track, with the heavier 'Red Reign' and the more melodic 'What Is Love For' rounding out the EP. Personally, I like the band more when they are rockin' the vibes of the '80s/'90s, but I understand they want to vary their scope here on the new material.

Red Reign @ Facebook

Digital EP Purchase Link

Title - 'From Two Balconies'
Artist - EchoTest

For those not in the know, and having met through the Three of a Perfect Pair Music Camp in 2011, bassists Julie Slick and Marco Machera started collaborating in April 2014 to play a short run of shows in Tuscany, after Julie's European tour with The Crimson ProjeKCt.

Very spontaneously, some brand-new songs were written during a couple of days rehearsals and played to very appreciative Italian audiences. The impromptu ‘bass duets’ ended up being so satisfying and well-received that Julie and Marco eventually decided to write more material together and record an album.

Nearly one month later, Fourth Dementia (2014) was completed. It wasn't quite what one would expect from a couple of traditionally low end instruments for the recording reinvents the role of solo electric bass and brilliantly displays the songwriting abilities of the duo. Nonetheless, it's a captivating combination of loop music, ambient soundscapes and interlocking bass patterns, always melodic yet aggressive and edgy at times.

The duo, now subsequently known as EchoTest then completed the recording and production of their second effort, Le Fil Rouge (2015), also with the help of their fan base, contributing to a fundraiser on Kickstarter. And now, here in 2017, Echotest's third, and to my mind, most wholly impressive album of ten tracks is brought forth - and what an incredibly well-rounded album it truly is.

This modern prog rock band with a classic vibe that incorporates two bassists playing more than 4 strings, combined with Machera's harmonious and pitch perfect vocals; lest we forget new member Alessandro Inolti on drums, Zach Lopresti on guitar and vocals, and Jenny Founds on vocals and keyboard, have come together to bring us From Two Balconies - a release that should be in everyone's Top 10 of best albums of 2017.

Featuring guest work from Pat Mastelotto, Tim Motzer, Ali Wadsworth, Ian Gray, Greg Rosen, and Sarah Anderson, From Two Balconies is most certainly a rather distinct departure from the heavily instrumental and bass-dominated aforementioned albums of theirs, but that's not to say they have strayed too far from their successful musical path.

For here on their third album they have managed to escalate their sound, cull it even, in such a way that nothing is wasted; nothing slips through the cracks; everything sounds a lot tighter, less methodically wayward, so to speak.

Indeed, and as Slick herself as pointed out, the ten tracks chronicle a contemporary tragedy, the resulting resonance of characters trapped in a tempestuous tormented limbo. It features lead vocals on 7 out of 10 tracks where Mashera takes control of a few songs, the others run by both Mike Visser (Imaginary Tricks) and Claire Wadsworth.

It should also be made known that the incredible artwork was done by the legendary Derek Riggs and the actual package is a rather lovely, very colorful DigiPak which contains an 8 page booklet. Indeed, if you purchase this CD from their Bandcamp link (see below) there's also a mighty fine chance that both Slick and Mashera will have also signed it. Oh, and your purchase also includes unlimited streaming of the new album via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more!

EchoTest @ Bandcamp

Echotest @ Facebook

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Black Room' - Motion Picture Soundtrack
Artist - Savant

For those not in the know, Aleksander Vinter, better known by his alias Savant (let alone Blanco, formerly Vinter in Hollywood, Vinter in Vegas and a few others), is a Norwegian musician.

In 2009, he released his debut album, Outbreak, billed as Vinter in Hollywood. Outbreak was nominated in the electronic music category for the 2009 Norwegian Grammy Awards. Vinter signed with SectionZ Records in 2010 and put out a second album, Mamachine, this time billed as Vinter in Vegas. In 2011, he released his third album Ninür under the moniker Savant.

Having released an incredible 12 albums since 2012 (!), now electronic superstar Savant proudly presents his first ever film score. Featuring powerful symphonic movements mixed with dark and immersive ambient soundscapes, it also includes additional music by Arthur "The God Of Hellfire" Brown, country legend Lynn Anderson, Brainticket and more!

'The Black Room' is a sexy and thrilling horror film that stars Natasha Henstridge (Species), scream queen Lin Shaye (A Nightmare On Elm Street, Insidious) and Dominique Swain (Lolita). Paul and Jennifer Hemdale have just moved into their dream house. But their happy marriage is about to be put to the test as they slowly discover the secret behind the black room in the cellar. Something else is already living in their new home and it is growing stronger every day!

1. Tarkus - the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Title Sequence) 2. The Black Room 3. Rose Garden - Lynn Anderson 4. Shut the Fuck Up 5. Dawn 6. Two Years Later 7. The Basement 8. Mr. Fix-It 9. Bathtime 10. Seduction 11. Morning After 12. Washing Machine 13. Paul's Possession 14. Lebanese I 15. Flashback 16. Fire - Arthur Brown 17. Black Sand - Brainticket 18. Lebanese II 19. Wall of Pleasure 20. Elephant Man 21. There's Nobody Out There 22. The Library 23. The Confrontation 24. Prepare Her 25. You're Starting to Scare Me 26. The Black Womb 27. Let's Make a Baby 28. End Credits

Just so you know how good this OST really is, and how distinctive a sound he has created, Savant has already been nominated for a Grammy Award in his home country of Norway, has had both singles and albums scale the iTunes and Billboard charts, and has been called by none other than deadmau5 "the change that electronic dance music needs."

Ergo, the EDM superstar has expanded his talented range into movie soundtracks in such a manner that nobody within the business dare overlook him as a choice for future films of this ilk that's for damn sure. I mean, just the title track 'The Black Room' is like a minute's wondrous flashback to an era when horror movies creeped you out by just the music alone!

Then, and completely out of the blue (unless you are watching the film, of course) Lynn Anderson's country-lite pop hit 'Rose Garden' is upon us and that's backed by the chilling, spine-tingling violin work found on 'Shut the F**k Up.'

After a mid-section inclusive of both Arthur Brown's 'Fire' and Brainticket's 'Black Sand', the film soundtrack, as expected, takes a turn for the more mysterious. 'There's Nobody Out There', 'You're Starting To Scare Me', 'The Black Womb' and 'Back to the Drawingboard, Bitch' are all created in such flowing, orchestral manners (especially the latter one), that come the finale 'End Credits' (or even the Extended Version found on the below-mentioned digital download), your breath has been taken by Savant; of that have no doubt.

Also, this superb, chilling, soundtrack was released on CD March 1, 2017 and can be found as a special digital download that includes three (3) bonus tracks!

Savant @ Bandcamp

The Black Room Movie @ Facebook

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Great Un-American Songbook: Vols I & II'
Artist - The Ed Palermo Big Band

For those not in the know, which included me, The Ed Palermo Big Band is a big band that has been active for over thirty years, playing the compositions and arrangements of their leader, saxophonist Ed Palermo. In fact, the band is well known for Palermo's arrangements of the music of Frank Zappa, amongst others of that ilk.

Ed Palermo started playing the alto saxophone and the guitar in high school because, unlike most all of us, he already knew he wanted to be a musician. Early influences that pushed him in that direction were the Beatles and the Mothers of Invention, but Palermo first discovered a love for the music of Edgar Winter while in high school.

This inspired him to emulate musicians such as Cannonball Adderley, Phil Woods, and Charlie Parker. In college he switched from alto saxophone to tenor saxophone due to influences from John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, and David Liebman. After graduating college, Palermo moved to New York in order to become a jazz tenor saxophonist.

At this point, an album called Impact by Charles Tolliver inspired him to try his hand at arranging. Palermo looked to his friend Dave LaLama, already an arranger, for advice and he began to compose and arrange music. Soon he began playing with Tito Puente, and during this time, assembled a group which later expanded into the big band bearing his name.

After Frank Zappa's death in 1993, Palermo decided to play a show of all Frank Zappa music. Before the show, Palermo posted a notice on an internet bulletin board. The turnout to the show was the largest that the Ed Palermo Big Band had had to date.

Following on from that, and recording their first Zappa album, and playing shows at The Iridium in New York City (for 10 years), this 18-piece big band steer away from Zappa for once and bring forth some tracks that will appease the jazz heads and Brit rock lovers in the world alike.

Inspired big-band arrangements of the Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby,' '21st Century Schizoid Man,' 'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,' the Crazy World of Arthur Brown's 'Fire,' the Beatles' 'Don't Bother Me,' Radiohead's 'The Tourist,' Miles Davis's 'Nardis', and so much more (from Jethro Tull to Green Day), released via Cuneiform Records, The Great Un-American Songbook, Volumes I & II [Explicit] is one extraordinary compilation of music.

This highly prolific 2CD set opens with the Beatles' 'Good Morning, Good Morning' (which opens with someone shooting a bleating goat!) and never lets up the stream of quality renditions, all orchestrated perfectly, one after the other. The fun ragtime bounce of The Move's 'Open Up Said the World at the Door' (written by ELO's Jeff Lynne) is next and that's backed by the Rolling Stones' piano beauty 'We Love You', a simply stunning 'Eleanor Rigby' (which, done in their own way, doesn't even sound like the original, trust me) and then Jeff Beck's 'Definitely Maybe.'

The delicate chimes of Cream's 'As You Said' is next, and that's backed by the prog rock orchestrated, Zapperish dips and swerves of King Crimson's powerful ballad 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 2.' Carrying on the Crimson tide of music, their frenetic '21st Century Schizoid Man' is tackled next, with a saxophone taking center stage here just delightfully. A deeper sax is the back beat to Blodwyn Pig's infamous 'Send Your Son to Die', before the first disc rounds out with the tremendously lush and yet vibrant 'Edward, the Mad Shirt Grinder' from Nicky Hopkins w/ Quicksilver Messenger Service. At over ten minutes long it is easily the longest of the 21 tracks contained on this epic double CD set.

The second disc begins with 'America/American Idiot' (a nice combination of The Nice first followed by a seamless transition into Green Day's massive chart hit. Most all of these tracks don't have vocals, but Jethro Tull's 'Beggar's Farm' does and wow, what a treat it is to hear the song sung in this new manner. 'Bitches Crystal' from Emerson, Lake and Palmer is next, but it's the brilliant 'Wreck of the Hesperus' (Procol Harum) that takes the musical biscuit for me here. It's one of the best tracks, vocal, and as tuneful now as it ever was. A sheer delight to hear like this from this band.

Next up is the sedate 'Diamond Dust' (Jeff Beck) and that's backed by the gentle pacing of 'The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys' from Traffic. Yet another quite brilliant rendition, The Ed Palermo Big Band make it truly their own here. 'Fire' from Arthur Brown is done well enough, but doesn't stray too far from the original, save for some swirly Zappa-like piano/organ playing, before an amazing cover of the Radiohead track, 'The Tourist.'

Seemingly not done with the song, 'Don't Bother Me/Nardis/Don't Bother Me (Reprise)' are all brought together (the Beatles/Miles Davis) for seven minutes, before this second CD is brought to a close with a pair of Beatles tracks: the danceable fun jig of 'I Wanna Be Your Man' and then the quietly peaceful, slumber-like ode 'Good Night.'

Title - 'J. S. Bach: St. John Passion'
Artist - Apollo's Fire/Baroque Orchestra/Jeannette Sorrell

For those not in the classical know, one of the various contributors to this wondrous J. S. Bach: St. John Passion CD isApollo's Fire. Named for the classical God of music and the sun, Apollo’s Fire was founded in 1992 by the award-winning young harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell.

Sorrell envisioned an ensemble dedicated to the baroque ideal that music should evoke the various Affekts or passions in the listeners. Thus, Apollo’s Fire is a collection of creative artists who share Sorrell’s passion for drama and rhetoric.

Indeed, Sorrell is recognized internationally as a leading creative voice among early-music conductors. She has been credited by the U.K.’s BBC Music Magazine for forging “a vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music… a seductive vision of musical authenticity.”

Also hailed as “one of the world’s finest Baroque specialists” (St. Louis Dispatch), Sorrell was one of the youngest students ever accepted to the prestigious conducting courses of the Aspen and the Tanglewood music festivals.

Sorrell’s vision for the production of 'J. S. Bach: St. John Passion' sought to bring immediacy and clarity to Bach’s dramatic structure through several means. The “action” (storytelling) scenes take place on a specially lit platform in the center of the orchestra. All of the characters – Jesus, Pilate, Peter, etc. – perform their roles from memory, physically confronting each other on the platform.

The “reflective” arias, in which Bach takes us outside of the story to contemplate what just transpired, are performed at the front of the stage, away from the drama platform. In the extended “mob” scene of the Trial Before Pilate and up through the climactic Condemnation of Jesus, half of the chorus is placed amongst the audience, shouting at Pilate from the aisles.

Ergo, this audio recording from the dramatic production presented in Cleveland and New York, March 2016, brings to life all those sounds, all those emotions as they were originally laid out. Even more enticing is that this very same new 2CD release also includes a deluxe booklet that features extensive photos and an URL link to the video of the live action show.

Title - 'The Italian Job'
Artist - Various Artists

For those not in the classical know, Adrian Chandler and his period-instrument ensemble La Serenissima present The Italian Job: Baroque Instrumental Music from the Italian States (to give it its full name), a feast of instrumental colour featuring oboes, bassoons, trumpets, trombone, timpani, strings and continuo, by some of the finest composers of the Italian baroque.

The music on this recording comes from four cities with a rich musical heritage: Venice (Albinoni, Caldara, Vivaldi), Bologna (Torelli), Padua (Tartini) and Rome (Corelli).


Antonio Caldara (c. 1671 – 1736)
Sinfonia for 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, timpani, violin, strings & continuo in C (15.00)
1. Allegro (5.31)
2. Andante, piano [e] staccato (4.47)
3. Allegro (4.42)

Arcangelo Corelli (1653 – 1713)
Sinfonia to Santa Beatrice d’Este for strings & continuo in D minor (10.11)
4. Grave (2.35)
5. Allegro (1.41)
6. Adagio (0.44)
7. Largo assai (2.57)
8. Vivace (2.13)

Giuseppe Tartini (1692 – 1770)
Concerto for violin, strings & continuo in E, D 51 (16.49)
9. Allegro (6.39)
10. Grave “Tortorella bacie…” (5.29)
11. Allegro assai (4.41)

Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741)
Concerto ‘alla rustica’ for 2 oboes, strings & continuo in G, RV 151 (4.16)
12. Presto (1.10)
13. Adagio (1.07)
14. Allegro (1.58)

Concerto for bassoon, strings & continuo in C, RV 467 (11.11)
15. Allegro (4.08)
16. Adagio (2.54)
17. Allegro (4.08)

Tomaso Albinoni (1671 – 1751)
Concerto for 2 oboes, strings & continuo in F, Op 9/3 (11.07)
18. Allegro (4.37)
19. Adagio (2.32)
20. Allegro (3.58)

Giuseppe Torelli (1658 – 1709)
Sinfonia for 4 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 violins, 2 cellos, strings & continuo in C, G 33 (7.45)
21. Allegro (3.49)
22. Adagio (0.25)
23. Allegro (3.30)

Total Running Time: 76.23

Recorded between August 23rd and 26th, 2016, in St John’s, Smith Square, London, England, and produced, engineered and edited by Simon Fox-Gál, The Italian Job: Baroque Instrumental Music from the Italian States is a lushly orchestrated, concise and unwavering look at Italian life through a time piece. True, yes, I first imagined it to be the soundtrack to the Michael Caine movie (1969) of the same name, but still, wow, what a wondrous work of musical art this soundtrack to Italian life truly is.

Title - 'Score'
Artist - 2Cellos

For those not in the know, not unlike myself, 2Cellos is a cello duo, consisting of classically trained Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser. Signed to Sony Masterworks since 2011, they have released four albums and play instrumental arrangements of well-known pop and rock songs as well as classical and film music.

Indeed, the duo perform internationally and have been featured on several US TV shows including Glee and even TV's big hit show, The Bachelor.

Their aforementioned fourth album is entitled Score and Šulić and Hauser released it this past March 17, 2017. Recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra it includes a wide array of television and film music, all performed in their own personal, and highly creative ways.

To mark the album's release, 2Cellos released their official YouTube video for their Game of Thrones Medley, which garnered over 1 million views in just two days!

1. Game of Thrones Medley
2. May it Be
3. For the Love of a Princess
4. Love Story
5. Cinema Paradiso
6. Moon River
7. Love Theme from The Godfather
8. My Heart Will Go On
9. Rain Man Theme
10. Cavatina
11. Malena
12. Schindler's List Main Theme
13. Titles from Chariots of Fire
14. Now We are Free

As you can well have already guessed from its title, Score contains a variety of themes that have driven some of the biggest blockbusters in film and television history. Here though 2Cellos provide each of them with a fresh new treatment, inclusive of that aforementioned new arrangement of Ramin Djawadi's melodies that score Game of Thrones.

Also includes are Oscar-winning themes from James Horner's Titanic ("My Heart Will Go On"), John Williams' Schindler's List and Vangelis's Chariots of Fire, as well as "For the Love of a Princess" from Braveheart (also by Horner); "May It Be" from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (introduced in the film by Enya); and the inspiring "Now We Are Free" from Gladiator, by the film's composer Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard and Klaus Badelt.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Score is an album full of beautiful music and one that you will never regret having added to your collections. That said, in truth, the whole Game of Thrones medley is the most energetic performance of the album; the rest simply beautiful, orchestrated to perfection background works to my mind.

2Cellos have truly established themselves as an innovative classical-pop/rock duo who take their classical instruments into the contemporary repertoire, leaving nothing behind. Meaning, however they recreate these hit tracks, they do it full on, never going at them halfhearted. These guys know that they have something special in their hands, in their heads, in their hearts and use it to ultimate perfection here on the stunning Score.

Title - 'Month Of Sundays' [EP]
Artist - Mark Duda

For those not in the know, not unlike myself, Mark Duda is an artist from New York City’s East Village who sings, plays guitar, and writes great original rock and punk songs. Over his storied career, he has worked with a who’s who of New York rock and roll royalty, and helped to carry the torch for bands and artists such as the New York Dolls, Dead Boys, and Johnny Thunders, into the 21st Century.

1. Month Of Sundays
2. Murder On Delancey
3. Standoff Love
4. Worse For Wear
5. Connection
6. Subway Song

His thunderous, raucous new six-track EP (out on April 14, 2017 via True Rock) kicks off with the Axel Rose-esque vocals (at times) of the title track, 'Month Of Sundays', and backs that up with both 'Murder On Delancey' and 'Standoff Love.' The guitar work from Cheetah Chrome (from The Dead Boys) along with the drums from Bobby Rondinelli (from The Handful) make 'Murder On Delancey' rock out even more, but in truth, the guitar work throughout all these tracks is top notch.

Personally, I love the old school E-Street feel to the saxophone opening of 'Standoff Love' also. Indeed, each and every one of the six cuts provides us with real rock music to listen to - not that prefabricated radio top 10 pop fluff we always seem to get.

The album, which is as much a tribute to the music and club scenes of '70s and '80s Lower Manhattan as it is a representation of some of the very current sounds and energy that can be found in the Big Apple, includes musician workmanship from Handful band mate Jimi K. Bones (who also co-wrote half the songs) on guitar, percussion and backing vocals; Thommy Price (from Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, Scandal) on drums; and Kenny Aaronson (from Stories) on bass.

Month Of Sundays continues ever onward with 'Worse For Wear', a track that slows the pace just enough to still make us aware its a rock song of sorts, then the cowbell-infused '70s feel of the quite brilliant 'Connection', with the EP coming to an all-too-soon close with the folk rocker 'Subway Song.'

Having written, or at least co-written all the songs on this brand new EP, Mark Duda is in top form on Month of Sundays. Performing songs that seamlessly blend traditional rock with elements of punk and doo wop, Duda's vocals are raw, real, and edgy, but at no times does he over do it. He's in control throughout and this EP is the most perfect example of a man still in love with his chosen profession.