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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - The Beatles and India (Songs Inspired by the Film)
Artist - Various

For those unaware, the newly-released double album, Songs Inspired By The Film The Beatles And India features a diverse cast of Indian artists (Vishal Dadlani, Kiss Nuka, Benny Dayal, Dhruv Ghanekar, Karsh Kale, Nikhil D’Souza, Anoushka Shankar, Farhan Ahktar, Soulmate and many others) all bringing their own musical styles, as well as contemporary and classical Indian influences and techniques to the record.

The album features Beatles’ songs written during their stay in Rishikesh, India including Mother Nature’s Son, Revolution, Sexy Sadie, Dear Prudence, Child of Nature among others. It also includes songs from their incredible catalogue which were colored by their earlier leanings to the magical sounds of India.

The hypnotic, lyrical soundtrack for The Beatles and India was written by award-winning composer Benji Merrison and recorded at Abbey Road Studio 2, the legendary home of The Beatles recording sessions, Budapest, Hungary and Pune, India.

Both a classically trained composer and a skilled music producer and engineer, Benji has scored music for projects across film, television, installations and events. His distinctive musical voice is in high demand and he is known for SAS: Red Notice, Forces of Nature with Brian Cox, Dynasties, General Magic.

CD 1: Songs Inspired By The Film
1. Tomorrow Never Knows (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Kiss Nuka
2. Mother Nature’s Son (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Karsh Kale / Benny Dayal
3. Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon) Performed by Soulmate
4. Across The Universe (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Tejas / Mali
5. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me And My Monkey) (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Rohan Rajadhyaksha / Warren Mendonsa
6. I Will (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Shibani Dandekar / Neil Mukherjee
7. Julia (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Dhruv Ghanekar
8. Child of Nature (John Lennon) Performed by Anupam Roy
9. The Inner Light (George Harrison) Performed by Anoushka Shankar / Karsh Kale
10. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Raaga Trippin
11. Back In The USSR (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Karsh Kale / Farhan Ahktar
12. I’m So Tired (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Lisa Mishra / Warren Mendonsa
13. Sexy Sadie (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Siddharth Basrur / Neil Mukherjee
14. Martha My Dear (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Nikhil D’Souza
15. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Parekh & Singh
16. Revolution (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Vishal Dadlani / Warren Mendonsa
17. Love You To (George Harrison) Performed by Dhruv Ghanekar
18. Dear Prudence (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) Performed by Karsh Kale / Monica Dogra
19. India, India (John Lennon) Performed by Nikhil D’Souza

This quite stunningly opulent new album opens on the pulsatingly translucent Tomorrow Never Knows by Kiss Nuka and an on the nose Mother Nature’s Son by Karsh Kale and Benny Dayal and those are backed up by a rousing, rap-imbibed Gimme Some Truth by Soulmate, a beautiful Across The Universe by Tejas and Mali Manoj, the funky rocker Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me And My Monkey) by Rohan Rajadhyaksha and Warren Mendonsa, and then we get breathtaking I Will by Shibani Dandekar and Neil Mukherjee.

Next up is the mid-tempo pop bounce of Julia by Dhruv Ghanekar and a quite spinetingling rendition of Child of Nature by Anupam Roy, and they themselves are followed by the stirringly ambient The Inner Light by Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale, the poptastic, lowed power pop of The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill by Raaga Trippin, a fairly frenetic, electronic-enhanced Back In The USSR by Karsh Kale and Farhan Ahktar, and the comes the gentle hipsway of I’m So Tired by Lisa Mishra and Warren Mendonsa.

Along next is one of my own personal favorites, the gentle funk rock of Sexy Sadie by Siddharth Basrur and Neil Mukherjee and then the handclapping extravaganza of Martha My Dear by Nikhil D’Souza, a heavenly Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) by Parekh and Singh, the album rounding out on the thunderous, jangling guitars of Revolution by Vishal Dadlani and Warren Mendonsa, an atmospherically-charged Love You To by Dhruv Ghanekar, the album closing on the ethereal Dear Prudence by Karsh Kale and Monica Dogra and a foot-tapping India, India by Nikhil D’Souza.

CD 2: Original Score - Composed by Benji Merrison
1. Main Titles
2. Diminutive Yogi
3. Crazy Trailblazer
4. Selling Like Hotcakes
5. A Few Lessons
6. Something Very Grateful
7. Rishikesh Bridge
8. Jai Guru Dev
9. A Simple Existence
10. Old Ashram
11. The Prayer Room
12. 50 Years Ago
13. Feeling and Heart
14. All Of India
15. Birthday Party
16. Spiritual Teacher
17. A Dealbreaker
18. Secrets Revealed
19. Down To Kerala
20. Small Gift To The World
21. End Credits

The award-winning film, The Beatles And India, is a unique historical chronicle of the enduring love affair between The Beatles and India that started more than half a century ago.

Rare archival footage, recordings and photographs, eye-witness accounts and expert comments along with location shoots across India bring alive the fascinating journey of George, John, Paul and Ringo from their high octane celebrity lives in the West to a remote Himalayan ashram in search of spiritual bliss that inspires an unprecedented burst of creative songwriting.

It is the first serious exploration of how India shaped the development of the greatest ever rock band and their own pioneering role bridging two vastly different cultures.

The Beatles And India was directed by Ajoy Bose and co-directed by Peter Compton. The film was produced by Reynold D’Silva (Renoir Pictures / Silva Screen Productions) with executive producers Adam Greenup and Keith Ferreira.

The documentary won Best Film Audience Choice and Best Music at the 2021 UK Asian Film Festival.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - Distant Voices
Artist - David Janeway – ‘Distant Voices’

For those unaware, pianist David Janeway has just released his third trio recording, Distant Voices, on Steeplechase Records.

Indeed, this is the first recording for his working trio that features Billy Hart on drums and Cameron Brown, bass.

During this time of Covid, Janeway looks back and pays tribute to the many jazz pianists that have inspired and influenced him throughout his career.

There are selections by Hank Jones, Walter Bishop Jr. Bill Evans and Ellington as well as tributes written for Ahmad Jamal, Larry Willis, Cedar Walton and Herbie Hancock.

This is an exciting and interactive trio that demonstrates a connected symbiosis between the players. Michael Nastos writes in his review, “This is an excellent recording, and the more you listen, the more compelling the music becomes. This could easily be one of the Top Ten Jazz CD’s on 2021, and maybe one for the ages.”

3. BLUE SERGE (4:58)
4. MOONTRANE (4:20)
5. GARDENIA (6:21)
6. ONE FOR CEDAR (5:07)
7. BRIGITTE (4:59)
9. EXCURSION (5:01)
11. IN PASSING (3:14)
12. NEFERTITI (6:53)
13. MOVIN’ ON (5:42)

Opening this vibrantly heartfelt new album are the lushly free flowing orchestrations of both SWEET AND LOVELY and MINOR CONTENTION and they are backed seamlessly by the more dulcetly ambient BLUE SERGE, the upbeat and perky MOONTRANE, the late night, smoky club-imbibed, upright bass-led GARDENIA and then get the swinging hipsway of ONE FOR CEDAR and the low, cultured ebb of BRIGITTE.

Up next are two of my own personal favorites here on this new album, the pairing of the gently fervent WALTZ FOR ZWEETIE and the faster-paced EXCURSION, the forthright appeal of ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL, the album rounding out on the unadulterated gossamer of IN PASSING, the finger-snapping delights of NEFERTITI, closing on the upright bass-led, late night wonderment of MOVIN’ ON.

Janeway was born in Rochester, New York. He began studying classical piano at the age of five after moving to Detroit in 1960. Growing up in Detroit in the 60s and 70s, he became immersed in the rich tradition of R&B and Jazz, which afforded him the opportunity to work with such iconic artists, the Supremes, Marcus Belgrave, Wendall Harrison, Roy Brooks and many others before moving to NYC in 1978. After moving to New York City in 1978, Janeway studied with the late Albert Dailey for two years.

Active on the NYC scene since then, he has performed at Zanzibar, Visiones, Sonny’s, Village Gate for the Salsa Meets Jazz series, J’s, Sweet Basil, Sweet Rhythm, Cleopatra’s Needle, Birdland, Jazz Forum, and other NYC clubs. Janeway performed at the NYC Salsa Festival at Madison Square Garden in 1980, the Detroit Jazz Festival along with other festivals and clubs throughout the US and Europe.

He has played and/or recorded with Valery Ponomarev, Tom Harrell, Art Farmer, Sonny Fortune, Harvie S, Eddie Henderson, Benny Golson, David “Fathead” Newman, Bobby Sanabria, Angel Canales and Sabor, Jr. Cook, Michal Urbaniak and many others. Janeway has previously collaborated with Billy Hart and Sonny Fortune as a leader on his album, Inside Out, released on Timeless in 1993.

David Janeway - piano, Fender Rhodes
Cameron Brown – bass
Billy Hart – drums

Official Website

Title - Treasure Isle Presents The Hottest Hits Albums Set
Artist - Various

In the late ’70s, the influence of rock steady on the burgeoning sound of dancehall was duly recognized by a number of Jamaica’s longest-standing producers, who delved deep within their archives to re-release many of their finest and most influential works from the previous decade.

Of all the re-issues of vintage material from this period, none proved more popular than the ‘Hottest Hits’ albums series, each of which comprised a dozen rock steady and early reggae tracks from the vaults of Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle catalogue.

Now, at long last, all three original albums in the series are issued together in this essential 3CD set entitled Treasure Isle Presents The Hottest Hits Albums Collection (releasing November 19th, 2021 via Cherry Red Records, UK).

Also featured are three newly curated volumes, plus an array of bonus recordings, culminating in 84 tracks of solid gold Treasure Isle gems.

Disc One:
1. Those Guys – The Sensations
2. Come On Little Girl – Melodians
3. Loving Pauper – Dobby Dobson
4. Midnight Hour – The Silvertones
5. Heartaches – Vic Taylor
6. Cry Tough – Alton Ellis & The Flames
7. Queen Majesty – The Techniques
8. Get On The Right Track – Phyllis Dillon
9. I’ll Never Fall In Love – The Sensations
10. The Tide Is High – The Paragons
11. Things You Say You Love – The Jamaicans
12. It’s Raining – The Three Tops
13. Girl I’ve Got A Date – Alton Ellis & The Flames
14. Every Day Is Like A Holiday – The Sensations
15. Love Is A Treasure – Freddie McKay
16. Don’t Stay Away – Phyllis Dillon
17. You Don’t Need Me – Melodians
18. My Girl – Techniques
19. Perfidia – Phyllis Dillon
20. La La Means I Love You – Alton Ellis
21. Travelling Man – The Techniques
22. I’ll Get Along Without You – Melodians
23. Moonlight Lover – Joya Landis
24. I Wish It Would Rain – Techniques
25. It’s You I Love – Techniques
26. Happy Go Lucky Girl – The Paragons
27. Love Is All I Had – Phyllis Dillon
28. Ain’t That Loving You – Alton Ellis

One of the most popular Jamaican music album series of all time and one which now includes many of the greatest Treasure Isle tracks, this first disc opens on the gentle rhythmic hipsway of both the charming Those Guys (The Sensations) and Come On Little Girl (by the melodious Melodians) and follows those up with the rocksteady bounce of Loving Pauper (Dobby Dobson), a quite magical rendition of Midnight Hour (The Silvertones, complete with McCook’s magic horns!), a lush Heartaches (Vic Taylor), the heartwarming trio of Cry Tough (Alton Ellis & The Flames), a rocksteady Queen Majesty (The Techniques) and the forthright Get On The Right Track (Phyllis Dillon), and then we get the reggae-pop bounce and flow of I’ll Never Fall In Love (The Sensations), the warmth and richness of The Tide Is High (The Paragons, and of which only today I have realized Blondie never wrote!), and the duo of the fervent Things You Say You Love (The Jamaicans), and the melodic hipsway of It’s Raining – The Three Tops.

Next up is old school rocksteady reggae of Girl I’ve Got A Date (Alton Ellis & The Flames) and the laid back rhythms of Every Day Is Like A Holiday (The Sensations) which are in turn followed by the ska-flavored, dub bounce of Love Is A Treasure (Freddie McKay), the upbeat and perky, harmonica-driven Don’t Stay Away (Phyllis Dillon), the storytelling ebb and flow of You Don’t Need Me (Melodians), the exquisite, high pitched melodies of My Girl (Techniques), the lushly sung, and at times veritable spoken-word wonderment of the rocksteady Perfidia (Phyllis Dillon), the free flowing La La Means I Love You (Alton Ellis) and then comes the old school vibes of Travelling Man (The Techniques).

Up next is the brilliantly melodic, rocksteady hipsway of I’ll Get Along Without You (Melodians) and the lush orchestrations of Moonlight Lover (Joya Landis) and they are backed by the the harmonic reggae of I Wish It Would Rain (Techniques), with four bonus tracks no included: the Curtis Mayfield-esque It’s You I Love (Techniques), the vibrantly on fire Happy Go Lucky Girl (The Paragons), this first disc closing on the reggae-pop flow of Love Is All I Had (Phyllis Dillon) and Ain’t That Loving You, from the Bob Marley of his time, Alton Ellis.

Disc Two:
1. Remember That Sunday – Alton Ellis & Phyllis Dillon
2. Wear You To The Ball – The Paragons
3. Love Is Not A Gamble – Techniques
4. Stealing Stealing (alt mix) – John Holt
5. Boom Shaka Lacka (alt version) – Hopeton Lewis & The Chosen Few
6. Tonight Is The Night – Claudette Miller
7. The Love That A Woman – Phyllis Dillon
8. Sinners – Justin Hinds & The Dominoes
9. There Comes A Time – Techniques
10. What More Can I Do – Clive & Doreen
11. Ali Baba – John Holt
12. Willow Tree – Alton Ellis
13. Only A Smile – The Paragons
14. You Don’t Care – Techniques
15. Angel Of The Morning – Joya Landis
16. Weather Report (Only Living Boy In New York) – The Tennors
17. True, True, True – Ken Parker
18. Last Train To Expo ’67 – Melodians
19. Woman Of The Ghetto – Phyllis Dillon
20. Baba Boom – The Jamaicans
21. The Same Song – The Paragons
22. What Does It Take – Alton Ellis
23. I’m In The Mood For Love – Techniques
24. Black Bird – Rosalyn Sweat & The Paragons
25. Tonight – John Holt
26. Rock Steady – Alton Ellis & The Flames
27. Kiss An Angel Good Morning – Ken Parker
28. Once A Man, Twice A Child – Justin Hinds & The Dominoes

The second disc opens on a track truly from the golden era of Jamaican music, the duet Remember That Sunday (Alton Ellis & Phyllis Dillon) and the rocksteady, pitch perfect vocals of Wear You To The Ball (The Paragons) and follows those up seamlessly with the beautiful melodies of Love Is Not A Gamble (Techniques), the polished reggae sound of Stealing Stealing (alt mix) (John Holt), the laid back mid-tempo vibes of Boom Shaka Lacka (alt version) (Hopeton Lewis & The Chosen Few), and the come the trio of the lushly orchestrated Tonight Is The Night (Claudette Miller), the simply divine The Love That A Woman (Phyllis Dillon) and the splendid Sinners, featuring the unique voice, the genius that was Justin Hinds (& The Dominoes).

Next up is the upbeat and friendly There Comes A Time (Techniques) and the summers breeze reggae flow of the duet What More Can I Do (Clive & Doreen) and they are in turn backed by one of Trojan records greatest ever recordings, Ali Baba by John Holt, the sweet, lovingly simple Willow Tree (Alton Ellis), the bass-tastic Only A Smile (The Paragons), the delightfully beautiful You Don’t Care (Techniques, featuring the voice of the late, great Pat Kelly), the cool rocksteady vibe of both Angel Of The Morning (Joya Landis) and Weather Report (Only Living Boy In New York) (The Tennors), and then we get the Studio 1 stylings of True, True, True (Ken Parker) and the spirited rocksteady of Last Train To Expo ’67 from the Melodians.

The last chapter of this second disc opens on the songbird vocals of Woman Of The Ghetto from Phyllis Dillon and the July afternoon sun’s rays of Baba Boom (The Jamaicans) and follows those up with the John Holt-sung The Same Song (The Paragons), the soulful What Does It Take (Alton Ellis), the legendary I’m In The Mood For Love (Techniques), with the five bonus tracks being the brilliantly joyous duet Black Bird (Rosalyn Sweat & The Paragons), the poignant Tonight (John Holt), the disc rounding out on the obvious rocksteady grooves of Rock Steady (Alton Ellis & The Flames), the countrified storytelling of Kiss An Angel Good Morning by Ken Parker, closing on the healing music of Once A Man, Twice A Child from Justin Hinds & The Dominoes.

Disc Three:
1. On The Beach – The Paragons
2. You’ve Made Me So Happy – Alton Ellis
3. I’ll Be Lonely – John Holt & Joya Landis
4. I Can’t Hide – Ken Parker
5. Save A Bread – Justin Hinds & The Dominoes
6. You Have Caught Me – Melodians,
7. Kansas City – Joya Landis
8. Why Birds Follow Spring – Alton Ellis & The Flames
9. My Best Girl – The Paragons
10. Jimmy Brown (The Three Bells) – Ken Parker
11. Do It Right – The Three Tops
12. One Life To Live – Phyllis Dillon
13. Breaking Up – Alton Ellis & The Flames
14. Sister Big Stuff – John Holt
15. Don’t Touch Me Tomato – Phyllis Dillon
16. Help Me Make It Through The Night – Ken Parker
17. Silver Bird – Melodians
18. Oowee Baby, Baby I Love You – Alton Ellis
19. Out De Light – Joya Landis
20. Everybody Bawling – Melodians
21. Midnight Confessions – Phyllis Dillon
22. If I Could Rule This World – Alton Ellis
23. Mighty Redeemer – Justin Hinds & The Dominoes
24. Mercy Mercy Mercy – The Paragons
25. Baby Love – The Sensations
26. Boys And Girls Reggae – Phyllis Dillon
27. I Can’t Stop Now – Alton Ellis & The Flames
28. Drink Milk – Justin Hinds & The Dominoes

Features numerous major Jamaican hits from the rock steady era, the third and final disc opens on the gentle rocksteady bounce of On The Beach (The Paragons) and the straightforward, rustic You’ve Made Me So Happy (Alton Ellis) and they are followed perfectly by the blissful melodies of the duet I’ll Be Lonely (John Holt & Joya Landis), the percussion-led I Can’t Hide (Ken Parker), the inspirationally ageless Save A Bread (Justin Hinds & The Dominoes), the melodious You Have Caught Me (Melodians), a big tune from the time in Kansas City from Joya Landis, the sweet soul music of Why Birds Follow Spring (Alton Ellis & The Flames), the golden vocals of John Holt on My Best Girl (The Paragons), the reggae lite Jimmy Brown (The Three Bells) (Ken Parker), the fresh sounds of Do It Right (The Three Tops – who knew there were less than Four?!), and then come the Studio 1 gems One Life To Live (Phyllis Dillon) and Breaking Up from Alton Ellis & The Flames.

Next up is the golden oldie of high reggae status Sister Big Stuff (John Holt) and the beautiful Don’t Touch Me Tomato from the Queen of Reggae herself, Phyllis Dillon, and those are followed by an absolute belter of a track, the hipsway of Help Me Make It Through The Night (Ken Parker), the lush vibe of Silver Bird (Melodians), the reggae-pop bounce of Oowee Baby, Baby I Love You (Alton Ellis), the cracklingly authentic Out De Light (Joya Landis), then comes the dancehall flow of Everybody Bawling (Melodians), the soulful Midnight Confessions (Phyllis Dillon) and the mystical If I Could Rule This World by Alton Ellis.

This third disc continues onward with the always-fantastic-to-hear Mighty Redeemer by Justin Hinds & The Dominoes and the rocksteady beats of Mercy Mercy Mercy (The Paragons) with the four bonus tracks being the dancehall ebb and flow of Baby Love (The Sensations), the spirited reggae gold of Boys And Girls Reggae (Phyllis Dillon), the box-set coming to a close on the delightful reggae bounce of I Can’t Stop Now by Alton Ellis & The Flames, and the highly-underrated track Drink Milk from Justin Hinds & The Dominoes.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Jarvis Cocker (& Friends)

For those unaware, ABKCO Records will, of course, also release the original soundtrack to The French Dispatch, the new Wes Anderson film with an ensemble cast that includes Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Christoph Waltz, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and Anjelica Huston.

With an original score by Academy Award™ winning composer Alexandre Desplat, the film’s original soundtrack will be released on CD and all digital platforms in conjunction with the Searchlight Pictures theatrical release of the film on October 22, 2021. The 2xLP vinyl edition will follow in early 2022.

However, along with Desplat’s gorgeous score, the album also features Jarvis Cocker’s impassioned cover of the French pop hit Aline, originally written and recorded by French pop icon Christophe.

Thus expanding on the universe of The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson and Jarvis Cocker decided to collaborate on an entire album of French material from the same period entitled Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top – containing songs associated with artists like Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot and Jacques Dutronc.

This unique companion album has musical backing provided by JAR VIS... plus Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab) featured on the duet Paroles, Paroles (the pre-order of Limited Super Deluxe Set from ABKCO contains the vinyl album, a double-sided poster and a limited edition 45 of Aline b/w Paroles, Paroles).

Side A:
1. Dans Ma Chambre (written by Pedro Espinoza Prieto, originally performed by Dalida)
2. Contact (written by Serge Gainsbourg, originally performed by Brigitte Bardot)
3. La Tendresse (written by Hubert Yves Adrien Giraud, Noel Roux, originally performed by Marie LaFôret)
4. Amour, Je Te Cherche (written by Nino Ferrer, originally performed by Nino Ferrer & Radiah)
5. Les Gens Sont Fous, Les Temps Sont Flous (written by Jacques Lanzmann, Jacques Dutronc, originally performed by Jacques Dutronc)
6. Il Pleut Sur La Gare (written by Areski Belkacem, Brigitte Fontaine, originally performed by Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem)

The first track out the gate of this highly-anticipated new vinyl LP (whose title translates to Boredom Songs by Tip-Top; which is Jarvis Cocker’s character piece, so to speak) is the swarthy, royal elegance of Dans Ma Chambre (featuring Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor organ) and the gently perky, freshly crisp, theatrical and space-themed Contact (which also features Bishi Bhattacharya on sitar) and they are followed by the emotively heartfelt La Tendresse, the seductively orchestrated Amour, Je Te Cherche, the first side rounding out on the early ‘70s-imbed, jangled rock of Les Gens Sont Fous, Les Temps Sont Flous and the rhythmically melodious Il Pleut Sur La Gare.

Side B:
1. Paroles, Paroles (written by Matteo Chiosso, Giancarlo Del Re, Giovanni Ferrio, originally performed by Dalida & Alain Delon)
2. Requiem Pour Un Con (written by Serge Gainsbourg, Michel Jean Piette Colombier, originally performed by Serge Gainsbourg in the film Le Pacha)
3. Mon Ami La Rose (written by Cécille Caulier, Jacques Lacome D’Estalenx, originally performed by Françoise Hardy)
4. Mao Mao (written by Gérard Guégan, Gérard Hugé, originally performed by Claude Channes in the film La Chinoise )
5. Elle Et Moi (written by Pascal Jean Michel Valadon, Aaron Gilbert, Alex Payne, Jean Pierre Cerrone, originally performed by Max Berlin)
6. Aline (written by Daniel Georges Jacq Bevilacqua, originally performed by Christophe)

The flip side on this luscious vinyl LP opens on the luxurious warmth of the duet with Lætitia Sadier (founding member of the London-based avant-pop band Stereolab) on Paroles, Paroles and then the gently rambunctious Requiem Pour Un Con, which are in turn backed by the romantic luring found within Mon Ami La Rose, the finger-snapping, toe-tapping, psychedelic rhythms of Mao Mao (which also features Anna McKinney on vocals), the album closing on the sophisticated, funky hipsway of Elle Et Moi and the tantalizingly majestical, lavishly bombastic Aline.

The French Dispatch revolves around a fictitious expatriate magazine that tells three stories published in this legendary journal. It celebrates writers and the thrill of great storytelling. Music plays a key and distinct role in each of the “chapters” of the film. Renown pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is featured in the film’s score and contributes a series of stunning solos on the recordings.

  ABKCO will offer a Super Deluxe Set containing the Double-LP of The French Dispatch (Original Soundtrack), a Limited Edition set of The French Dispatch Art Cards, a double-sided poster and for the first fans to order, a printed copy of The French Dispatch Magazine.

Official ABKCO Purchase Link

Official Listen and Pre-Order Aline Pre-Order Purchase Links

Official Pre-Order Purchase Links for French Dispatch

Official Listen and Pre-Order Animated Car Chase Pre-Order Purchase Links

Title - An Evening with John Patitucci & Andy James
Artist - John Patitucci & Andy James

On the just-released An Evening with John Patitucci & Andy James, two gifted performers join forces to conjure an intimate evening of captivating music.

At a time when jazz aficionados around the world have been starved for musical experiences, the album recreates the sultry atmosphere of a candlelight nightclub as some of the most revered musicians in modern jazz perform classic standards.

Out now via Le Coq Records, An Evening with John Patitucci & Andy James features nearly 90 minutes of scintillating music featuring an incomparable ensemble.

In addition to James’ mesmerizing vocals and Patitucci’s bass mastery, the album boasts arrangements by piano great Bill Cunliffe for an ensemble that includes saxophonists Chris Potter and Rick Margitza, trumpeter Terell Stafford, guitarists Chico Pinheiro and Jake Langley, keyboardists John Beasley and Jon Cowherd, percussionist Alex Acuña, drummers Vinnie Colaiuta, Marcus Gilmore and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, along with powerful horn and string sections.

1. Autumn In New York (feat. Chris Potter, Bill Cunliffe & Vinnie Colaiuta)
2. Besame Mucho (feat. Chris Potter, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Bill Cunliffe & John Beasley)
3. I Love You And Don’t You Forget It (feat. Chris Potter, Bill Cunliffe, Dan Higgins, Michael Dease & Alex Acuña)
4. To Dream As One (feat. Chris Potter, Jon Cowherd, Marcus Gilmore, Alex Acuña & Adam Rogers)
5. Moonlight In Vermont (feat. Terell Stafford, Vinnie Colaiuta & Bill Cunliffe)
6. Day Dream (feat. Vinnie Colaiuta, Bill Cunliffe & Alex Acuña)
7. Blackbird (feat. Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Alex Acuña, Bill Cunliffe, John Beasley & Charlie Bisharat)
8. When I’m With You (feat. Terell Stafford, Vinnie Colaiuta, John Beasley & Alex Acuña)
9. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (feat. Chris Potter, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Alex Acuña & John Beasley)
10. Unchain My Heart (feat. Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Terell Stafford, Alex Acuña & Bill Cunliffe)
11. Fire & Rain (feat. Vinnie Colaiuta, John Beasley, Rick Margitza, Alex Acuña & Jon Cowherd)
12. Burn For Love (feat. Chris Potter & Vinnie Colaiuta)
13. Some Other Time (feat. Vinnie Colaiuta, John Beasley, Rick Margitza, Alex Acuña & Jon Cowherd)
14. Laura (feat. Vinnie Colaiuta & Bill Cunliffe)
15. More Than You Know (feat. Vinnie Colaiuta, Bill Cunliffe & Chris Potter)
16. My Heart Belongs To Daddy (feat. Vinnie Colaiuta, John Beasley & Bill Cunliffe)
17. Angel Eyes (feat. Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuña, Charlie Bisharat & Bill Cunliffe)

This simply heavenly, vocally velvety adorned new album opens on the sumptuous Autumn In New York and the tranquil embrace of Besame Mucho and backs those up with the vibrantly delicious upswing of I Love You And Don’t You Forget It, the lush orchestrations of To Dream As One and then the beautifully crafted balladry of Moonlight In Vermont.

Next up is the ornate flow of Day Dream and the gentle toe-tapper Blackbird and they are in turn followed by the seductive ode within When I’m With You, the gentle Latin vibe found within Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and then we are brought forth the upbeat and full bloodied Unchain My Heart.

Along next is the sultry Fire & Rain and the slow burn (all pun intended) of Burn For Love and they are backed perfectly by the hopeful yearn of Some Other Time, the album rounding out on the mesmerizingly stellar Laura, the dulcet outreach of More Than You Know, closing on the joyously naughtily-sung My Heart Belongs To Daddy and then the pure piano gossamer of Angel Eyes is unwound for us to delight in.

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Title - Turn To Crime
Artist - Deep Purple

For those unaware, and still requisite with a strong tailwind from last year’s chart leading album Whoosh!, Deep Purple surprises with new album Turning To Crime (earMUSIC) on November 26th, 2021 produced by Bob Ezrin.

Turning To Crime arrives only 15 months after Whoosh! – Deep Purple’s 21st studio album, which received acclaim by critics who praised the creative strength of a band that continues evolving with every release, and prestigious chart achievements (3rd consecutive #1 in Germany, #4 in the UK, and topped the US Independent Album and Hard Music Albums charts).

1) 7 And 7 Is
2) Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu
3) Oh Well
4) Jenny Take A Ride!
5) Watching The River Flow
6) Let The Good Times Roll
7) Dixie Chicken
8) Shapes Of Things
9) The Battle Of New Orleans
10) Lucifer
11) White Room
12) Caught In The Act [Medley: Going Down /Green Onions / Hot ‘Lanta /Dazed and Confused / Gimme Some Lovin’]

This new release, which is also Deep Purple’s first album of tracks that weren’t written by the band and thus are a collection of songs previously recorded by other artists, opens on the amped proto-punk of the first single, Arthur Lee and Love’s 7 And 7 Is and then the joyous blues of Huey “Piano” Smith’s Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu and never looks back thereafter.

Up next is one of the early crossovers between blues rock and heavy metal, their version of the call and response vocalized melodies of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well, the gritty thunder of Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels’ Jenny Take A Ride! and both the laid back rhythm’s of Bob Dylan’s Watching The River Flow and the finger-snapping roll of Ray Charles & Quincy Jones’s Let The Good Times Roll, with one of my own personal favorites from the album, the piano-led, Southern-grilled Little Feat’s Dixie Chicken backing those up nicely.

A stormingly energetic rendition of The Yardbirds’s Shapes Of Things is along next and is followed seamlessly by the gently fervent thigh slapper The Battle Of New Orleans (Lonnie Donegan/Johnny Horton), a magnificently rock raucous cover of Bob Seger System’s Lucifer, the album rounding out on a resoundingly precise rendition of Cream’s White Room, closing on the jam fest that is Caught In The Act; which is primarily a medley that more than adequately comprises: Going Down (Freddie King) / Green Onions (Booker T. and the M.G.’s) / Hot ‘Lanta (The Allman Brothers Band) / Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin) / Gimme Some Lovin’ (The Spencer Davis Group).

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Title - 35th Anniversary Collection [4CD]
Artist - Jaki Graham

For those unaware, after making her singing debut and winning with a clear victory at the school’s Christmas talent contest with Michael Jackson’s Ben, it was only a matter of time before Jaki would sign her first record deal.

Following stints with One Night Affair at the age of 17, the SRO Band and then Ferrari, it was when Jaki recorded a session for the jazz funk group, Medium Wave, that she was spotted by a talent scout and signed with EMI in 1983.

It took EMI to channel her image and style into the correct direction, to form the soul seductress she is today. Her single entitled What’s the Name of Your Game? gave Jaki her first TV appearance on the children’s TV program Crackerjack. Heaven Knows became the title track of her debut album.

Could it Be I’m Falling In Love? marked a significant collaboration in Jaki’s career, and is a song that remains a timeless 80’s classic. Reaching No.5 in the British charts in March ’85, her second and last hit duet entitled Mated again received wide critical acclaim.

When Jaki had the opportunity to take center stage, there were no holds barred. Her powerful voice, positive energy and radiance were injected in every one of her performances and Round and Around became Jaki’s first successful solo hit reaching No.9 in June ’85.

Jaki’s hits have remained fresh, uncomplicated and modern. Set Me Free remains an ageless pop classic after rocketing to No.7 in the British charts in May ’86, an anthem of that era.

Breaking Away followed and offered her first location shoot abroad, charting at a respectable No.14 in August ‘86. Step Right Up brought Jaki back to her trademark high energy, up tempo pop hits and gave her yet another Top 20 hit in November ‘86.

In the same year, Michael McDonald came into Jaki’s life looking for a female singer to accompany him on the track On My Own for his UK Tour. Michael, who has worked with some of the most influential names in showbiz, personally chose Jaki over a stream of UK female vocalists.

After hearing her voice, he was quoted as saying that Jaki was ‘one of the best singers Britain has ever produced’. A deep friendship and mutual respect grew between the two artists and to this day, Jaki continues to be a special guest on the UK legs of Michael’s tours.

Towards the end of the 80’s, sales and figures provided by Billboard magazine had established Jaki as Britain’s most successful black female artist ever. Not surprisingly, Jaki’s success was not limited to the shores of the United Kingdom.

People of every culture and language from every corner of the globe loved her natural vocal perfection. The distinct, powerful delivery, coupled with her warm and compassionate ease seemed to melt the barriers of language, color and creed.

Denmark, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Africa – places she had only ever dreamed of visiting – loved her and her fan base grew worldwide.

Her third album with EMI, From Now On was produced in 1987, coinciding with Jaki achieving a Guinness World Record for being the first black British female solo artist to have 6 consecutive Top 10 / 20 hits, unheard of by a black British female at that time.

The just-released Jaki Graham: 35th Anniversary Collection is a wondrous 4CD Box-Set (via Cherry Red Records, UK) celebrating the 35th anniversary of Jaki Graham’s aforementioned albums Heaven Knows and Breaking Away (released in 1985/86).

Furthermore, this is the first widely available reissue of the Heaven Knows album since 1986. Featuring the most comprehensive collection of Jaki’s EMI albums plus loads of related bonus tracks including 12” mixes, remixes of the singles and B-sides from the period, this is truly the ultimate collection for all Jaki’s fans around the world.

Heaven Knows contains two UK Top 20 singles - Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, a duet with David Grant that peaked at #5 and Round And Around that reached #9.

Breaking Away enjoyed extensive chart success across Europe and produced four UK Top 20 singles, Mated, again duetting with David Grant and peaking at #20, Set Me Free #7, Breaking Away #16 and Step Right Up #15.

CD 1: Heaven Knows (1985)
3. COULD IT BE I’M FALLING IN LOVE (Duet with David Grant)
8. LOVING YOU (Duet with Derek Bramble)
12. COULD IT BE I’M FALLING IN LOVE (7” VERSION) (Duet with David Grant) [Bonus Track]*
14. VICTIM OF EMOTION [Bonus Track]*
15. WHO’S MAKING UP YOUR MIND [Bonus Track]*

CD 1 features the Heaven Knows album plus bonus tracks including UK single versions of Heaven Knows (Feels So Good), Once More With Feeling and her duet, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love with Linx frontman David Grant, plus the US remixes of Once More With Feeling and What’s The Name Of Your Game.

For my money, this album somehow hits the mark where others do not of the era. The synths are effervescent, the hooks are great, there is a lot of cool jazziness and the overall energy is palpable throughout.

Opening on the gently rambunctious synth-pop Round and Around and then the lushness of the title track, next up is the smooth R&B groove of the lovely duet with David Grant Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, the ballad I Fell For You, the mid-tempo Hold On and then we get more synth-pop in the shape of The Facts of Life.

Next up is the fast paced rhythms of You’re Mine and the beautiful ballad with Derek Bramble, Loving You, and they are backed by the poppy What’s the Name of Your Game, the finger-snapping Stay the Way You Are, with the bonus tracks amounting to a fair few 7” mixes, with the fast-pacing of Once More With The Feeling and the punchy Victim of Emotion thrown in for good measure.

At the very least, it has aged way better than Janet Jackson and her massive Control album or, in truth, whatever Whitney Houston was putting out at the time.

CD 2: Bonus Tracks + Extended Versions

CD 2 features 12 tracks of extended versions plus remixes including the hard to find Revolutionary Mix of Round And Around and US remixes of Once More With Feeling and What’s The Name Of Your Game.

Also included are Freeze You Out and Greatest Smile, both previously unreleased tracks sourced from the tape archives.

CD 3: Breaking Away (1986)
5. LET’S GET BLUE (Duet with Derek Bramble)
9. THE CLOSEST ONE (Duet with Derek Bramble)
11. MATED (Duet with David Grant)
15. MATED (EXTENDED VERSION) (Duet with David Grant) [Bonus Track]

CD 3 features Jaki’s 1986 album Breaking Away plus 4 bonus tracks including single versions of Breaking Away and Step Right Up and extended versions of Set Me Free and Mated.

This is a great sophomore album by Jaki, one that features production by Derek Bramble which sounds similar to Stock Aitken Waterman’s more soulful style of the time (the style they gave to Princess, Mel & Kim, Haywoode and O’chi Brown, amongst others).

For me the best two songs are the singles that open the album, the fast-synth-pop of Set Me Free and the, at first, aching balladry then swift pop sense of Breaking Away, but subsequent tracks such as the lushly orchestrated Still In Love, the gentle Caribbean sway of Love Under Moonlight, the duet pairing with Derek Bramble of both Let’s Get Blue and the upbeat funk of The Closest One (let alone her brilliant duet with David Grant on Mated) being stand outs too.

In truth, it is an excellent album to listen to, even now, but it is just oh-so great to see the en masse of bonus mixes and extras now collected here on the fourth disc too (some appearing for the very first time).

CD 4: Bonus Tracks
11 LUV 2 MUCH (TOO MUCH 12”)

* denotes appearing on CD for the first time

CD 4 includes various mixes and remixes from the Breaking Away period including two mixes of Set Me Free, three of Breaking Away, two of Step Right Up and Still In Love along with a three track Mega Mix featuring Set Me Free, The Closest One and Step Right Up.

The collection comes in a box with each CD in individual wallets featuring related Jaki Graham sleeve images from the period, with a 20 page booklet including sleeve notes and a UK Discography.

Official 4CD Purchase Link

Title - Ethereal Kinks
Artist - Samuel Mösching

For those unaware, Samuel Mösching is a professional guitarist, composer and bandleader who has headlined performances internationally, including in the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, England and Argentina, being accompanied by illustrious artists like Isaiah Collier, Marquis Hill, Makaya McCraven, John Stowell, Mars Williams, Rusty Jones, Gerry Hemingway, Adrian Mears, Maggie Brown, et al.

As a composer, he has written hundreds of pieces mostly in jazz and modern classical context. Samuel’s talent has been recognized by his peers all over the world.

After hearing Mösching, John Hollenbeck, who is one of the most influential composers and drummers of our time once said: “Samuel’s time feel is as strong as a tree.”

Samuel Mösching started playing the guitar at the age of ten. His talent got recognized during his first lessons. His teacher was able to see, past the young student’s hyperactive and unfocused energy, a remarkable ability capable of picking up instrumental skills.

Following his intuition, Samuel created his own style because he was not listening to other music improvisers at that point. This early start and relative isolation in his jazz education turned into a boon for Mösching and can partially be credited for his highly evolved style that has been described as both highly original and modern.

At the age of 13, Samuel Mösching started to play electric bass and drums. As a listener, he was more focused on Punk and Reggae at this point. His interests for Jazz and classical music came up at the age of 15. The first album he bought was more or less a random pick at the record store for him.

Crescent by John Coltrane. It is still Samuels’ favorite album.

After listening to hundreds of jazz albums in a couple of months, his favorite musicians became Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Brad Mehldau, Wayne Shorter and the pianist Bill Evans.

His debut album with the New Samuel Mösching trio was released in 2013. In 2015 Samuel Mösching released his first solo album Room 3 and in 2016, one year after the passing of drummer Rusty Jones, the album Some Other Tree got released on ears&eyes Records.

Now the skilled jazz guitarist with his own sound has used the Pandemic period to record his latest solo album, Ethereal Kinks (releasing February 18th, 2022).

While four fine musicians (two bassists and two drummers) make one appearance apiece (there are guests on both bass and drums on the track Winnemac), otherwise Samuel plays all of the instruments (guitar, bass, drums and synth) in addition to contributing a full set of new compositions.

1. No Dancing (feat. Renda ’Victoria’ Jackson)
2. Beauty And The Beast Roleplay
3. Disconnect
4. Mental Illness
5. Modesta (feat. Juan Pastor)
6. Strict Dancer
7. Winnemac (feat. Jeremiah Hunt & Reuben Gingrich)
8. Indigenous
9. Melanie
10. Better Than Me
11. The Belief In Magic

This rather beautiful, at times mesmerizingly flirtatious new album opens on the upbeat and joyfully funky No Dancing (feat. Renda ’Victoria’ Jackson) and the gently fervent jazz waltz Beauty And The Beast Roleplay and backs those up with the moody, medium-slow strut of Disconnect, the mid-tempo hipsway of Mental Illness and then the fun and relaxed flow of Modesta (feat. Juan Pastor) is brought forth.

Next up is the precise, methodically free flowing guitar work of Strict Dancer and the lushly orchestrated jam of Winnemac (feat. Jeremiah Hunt & Reuben Gingrich) which are in turn followed by the laid back blues of Indigenous, the Latin-embraced beauty of Melanie, the album rounding out on the foot-tapping melodies of Better Than Me, coming to a close on the upbeat and finger-snapping grooves of The Belief In Magic.

Official Website

Samuel Mosching @ Facebook!

Samuel Mosching @ Twitter!

Samuel Mosching @ Instagram!

Samuel Mosching @ YouTube!

Title - Unstructured Time for Jazz Septet
Artist - Amos Gillespie

For those unaware, Unstructured Time for Jazz Septet (releasing February 4th, 2022) is an original work about finding introspective peace in a loud world.

It was started in 2019 and after quite a few delays, including pandemic delays, finally finished in 2020, receiving its premiere on April 29th, 2021 at the Fulton Street Collective in Chicago.

The album features leader Amos Gillespie (alto sax) along with Alexandra Olsavsky (voice), Andy Schlinder (tenor sax), Gustavo Cortinas (drums), Paul Bedal (piano), Casey Nielsen (guitar) and Dan Thatcher on bass.

1. Shades of Red (10:45)
2. Deconstructed (4:34)
3. Like a Blossom (5:00)
4. Nothing Changes (6:16)
5. Tangerine Road (4:50)
6. Sleepless (4:06)
7. Fewer Words (2:57)
8. Silence is Your Own (3:16)
9. Juiced (4:11)

This bountifully vibrant new album opens on the upbeat fanfare of the project, the ten minute opus Shades of Red and the beautifully, strongly sung (by Alexandra Olsavsky) Deconstructed and backs those up seamlessly with the delicate offering of Like a Blossom and the gentle, foot-tapping melodies of Nothing Changes.

Next up is the more forthright, highly charged Tangerine Road and then we get Olsavsky’s vocals alighting on the gentle hipsway of Sleepless with the album, the light-hearted Fewer Words, and with the album rounding out on the ornate, yet sculptured beauty of her-sung Silence is Your Own, it finally closes (albeit all too soon) on the excitement of Juiced.

All tracks are written and arranged by Amos Gillespie @ 2021 Recorded, mixed and mastered by Tyler Rice at Transient Studios in Chicago.

Cover photo, by Amos Gillespie, features Connect Origins to Destinations (2009), from the Mile of Murals project curated by Rogers Park business alliance.

Official Website

Amos Gillespie @ Facebook!

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Amos Gillespie @ YouTube!

Title - Lasting
Artist - Echoes

For those unaware, set for an October 15th, 2021 release, Lasting is the third album by the up-and-coming group of young jazz musicians Echoes.

Reedist Max Bessesen, percussionist Matt DiBiase, Drummer Chase Kuesel, and bassist Evan Levine make up the leaderless collective, whose sound blends futuristic electronica with jazz improvisation, while dabbing with electronic instruments, loops, and triggers for an additional layer of intricacy.

Their music pairs futuristic electronica with focused improvisations to create a sound that is uniquely their own. Inspired by 21st-century musical ideals of cross-pollination and experimentation, the group augments its already unorthodox instrumentation with a variety of electronic instruments, loops, and triggers to explore new sonic and rhythmic territory.

Simply put, each member show off their personal styles throughout, with each composing two of the tracks that make up the album.

1. Jamfest
2. Taylor
3. Off Switch
4. Flipbook
5. Asbury
6. Wasted
7. Attics
8. Lasting

This charismatically translucent new album opens on gently frenetic orchestrations of Jamfest (... a tongue-in-cheek piece for a good time, says Bessesennd) and the simply beautiful, ornately sculptured rhythms of Taylor (which are worked around an adaptation of a beatboxing performance by Taylor McFerrin, which Kuesel adeptly translates to the drum kit) and then we get the emotional landscapes found within the organic Off Switch and the melodic, playful and perky ambiance of the rather delightful Flipbook.

Next up are the layered grooves found within Asbury (which Levine titled after his hometown of Asbury Park, NJ) which is in turn followed by the divinely cultured Wasted (a tale of relationships, nights, sobriety ... all wasted away and explored here in these forlorn at times, gently romantic, yet always contemplative movements), with the album rounding out on the jazz and blues-lite grooves of Attics, closing on the almost ethereally meditative Lasting.

Taken as a whole, Lasting finds an ensemble equally interested in joyful interplay and melancholic reflection. It is a strong and compelling effort, and an important document from an ensemble that is poised to refine its unique voice on the international stage for years to come.

Official Website

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Echoes @ Soundcloud!

Title - Bach: Sonatas for Viola Da Gamba
Artist - Sarah Cunningham / Richard Egarr

For those unaware, legends of the period-performance community Sarah Cunningham and Richard Egarr need little introduction with their contributions to recorded music garnering critical acclaim from early music aficionados across the decades.

They join forces for their AVIE Records debut recording of J.S. Bach’s celebrated Sonatas for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord together with Cunningham’s dazzling Organ Trio Sonata and Flute Partita arrangements to conclude the program.

The Gamba Sonatas have long-established themselves as a staple in the cello/gamba repertoire, notably extending their fame into popular culture with the Adagio from Sonata No. 3 featuring (alongside with Bach’s solo suites) in Anthony Minghella’s 1990 BAFTA award-winning movie “Truly, Madly, Deeply”, starring Alan Rickman and Juliet Stephenson.

Sonata No. 1 in G BWV 1027 for viola da gamba & harpsichord
1. I. Adagio 4.02
2. II. Allegro ma non tanto 3.39
3. III. Andante 2.20
4. IV. Allegro moderato 3.13

Sonata No. 2 in D BWV 1028 for viola da gamba & harpsichord
5. I. [Adagio] 1.51
6. II. Allegro 4.01
7. III. Andante 4.17
8. IV. Allegro 4.09

Sonata No. 3 in G minor BWV 1029 for viola da gamba & harpsichord
9. I. Vivace 5.33
10. II. Adagio 4.56 SINGLE AV2499 (15 November)
11. III. Allegro 3.57

Organ Trio Sonata No. 3 in D minor BWV 527
arranged by Sarah Cunningham for viola da gamba & harpsichord
12. I. Andante 4.55
13. II. Adagio e dolce 5.01
14. III. Vivace 4.00

15. Flute Partita in A minor BWV 1013: I. Allemande 9.22
arranged by Sarah Cunningham for viola da gamba solo (transcribed to D minor)

With Sarah Cunningham widely recognized as one of the foremost viola da gambists worldwide, to my mind it’s actually Richard Egarr’s harpsichord exploration and exceptional elegance that leads the way here, for the entire opening Sonata No. 1 in G BWV 1027 is as wondrously sculptured, as delightfully crisp, as rewardingly ambient as one could ever have imagined or hoped for (the last contrapuntal movement, although not labelled as a bourrée, makes reference to this dance form by commencing with a quaver figure on the fourth beat of the bar).

Cunningham comes more to the fore within the more precisely orchestrated Sonata No. 2 in D BWV 1028, the first movement beginning with the gamba introducing a thematic fragment repeated by the harpsichord whilst the following movement includes echos and from the first one, especially of the latter half of the first movement - whereas the third movement is in the rhythm of a siciliano, followed by a fast movement in 6/8 time.

Then the sterner, more cultured, deeper-structured Sonata No. 3 in G minor BWV 1029 brings Egarr back to the spotlight. The sonata begins with a theme by the viola da gamba, which is soon joined by the harpsichord. This is driven forward with lively figuration. The middle movement, in B♭ major, allows the parts to intertwine even more, ending with the allegro, which begins with repeated notes in the gamba part soon to be taken up by the lower harpsichord part.

Closing these works - from the late 1730s and early 1740s - on the sweeping three-part elegance of Organ Trio Sonata No. 3 in D minor BWV 527 and the stand alone brilliance of the Cunningham-arranged Bach, J S: Partita in A minor for solo flute, BWV1013, recorded at the United Church of New Marlborough, Southfield, Massachusetts, in November 2017, this stunningly opulent recording is one that could even be heard in homes across the world this Holiday season.

Sarah Cunningham, viola da gamba Jane Julier, 2003, after Bertrand.

Richard Egarr, harpsichord David Rubio, Duns Tew (Oxford), 1977, after Taskin (from the collection of Peter Sykes).

Official Purchase Link

Title - Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday [1970-1973]
Artist - Phillip Goodhand-Tait

For those unaware, these Phillip Goodhand-Tait is a renowned English singer-songwriter, producer and keyboard player. Through a long and varied career, dating back to his roots in the ‘60s club scene with The Stormsville Shakers, he has written songs covered by the likes of The Love Affair (including several hits), Gene Pitney and Roger Daltrey, played harmonium for Chris De Burgh and produced bands as diverse as Magnum, Venom, Climax Blues Band and Kid Creole And The Coconuts.

A new 4-CD collection documenting Phillip Goodhand-Tait’s prolific early ‘70s solo era entitled Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday - Complete Recordings 1970-1973 will released December 17th, 2021 via Cherry Red Records (UK) and features four albums originally released on DJM (after he was signed to the label alongside another promising singer-songwriter, Elton John).

All four titles – Rehearsal (1970), I Think I’ll Write A Song (1971), Songfall (1972) and the self-titled Phillip Goodhand-Tait (1973) – finally make their debut on CD in the UK.

Compiled and overseen with Phillip’s full involvement and blessing, Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday pays testament to his skills as both performer and composer.

Furthermore, each album features bonus tracks originally tucked away on 7” singles, as well as the added delight of three recordings from the previously unissued soundtrack for the 1971 film Universal Soldier.

CD 1: Rehearsal (1970)

Rehearsal, the first of the quartet, boasts string arrangements from Robert Kirby (Nick Drake, Elton John, etc.), the perfect accompaniment for Phillip’s many songs co-written with John Cokell.

The beautiful rock-pop hipsway of CHILDREN OF THE LAST WAR opens this quite brilliant new box-set and that is backed by the joyous musical ode CLIMB ABOARD MY BUS, the swarthy IN MY WORLD, the piano ballad ONE ROAD, the vaudeville-esque (HEAVEN HELP) BELINDA, and then we get the laid low LEAN ON ME and the upbeat TRAMP.

Next up are the smooth pop vibe of both GONE ARE THE SONGS OF YESTERDAY and ONCE I THOUGHT which are in turn followed by the soaringly joyful RUN SEE THE SUN, the quiet ballad JEANNIE, the mid-tempo WHEN TOMORROW COMES, the original album rounding out on the piano balladry of THE DOOR IS CLOSING, closing on two bonus tracks: the summer sunshine of both LOVE HAS GOT HOLD OF ME and TOO PLEASED TO HELP.

CD 2: I Think I’ll Write A Song (1971)
12. I DIDN’T KNOW MYSELF [Bonus Track]
13. EVERYDAY (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
15. OH RYKER * [Bonus Track]
17. COLD NIGHT (Instrumental Version) * [Bonus Track]

* Previously unissued tracks from Universal Soldier soundtrack

By the time of I Think I’ll Write A Song (1971), the band had mastered live performances and the record had a heavier, more guitar-based feel.

Up first is the jubilant title track I THINK I’LL WRITE A SONG which is backed by the lushly orchestrated duo of WHO LAID YOUR LIVING DOWN and the countrified twang of IN THE OLD COUNTRY, the funky OH ROSANNA, the heartfelt balladry of COLD NIGHT, the mid-tempo AOR of FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET, and then comes another earnest, albeit mid-tempo ballad in the form of SILVERWING, the foot-tapping JINGLE JANGLE MAN and then the dulcet PARENTS EYES.

Next up is the joyfully frenetic MEDICINE MAN (complete with studio chit-chat before it) with the original album rounding out on the laid back piano ballad DRINK IN THE SUNSHINE, with five bonus tracks, inclusive of the rock-blues of I DIDN’T KNOW MYSELF, the lonesome EVERYDAY (Single Version), the psych rocker THAT’S WHY A WOMAN NEEDS A MAN and OH RYKER, closing on the foot-tapper MOTORWAYS AND PARKING BAYS and the ornate instrumental COLD NIGHT (Instrumental Version) [the latter three tracks all previously unissued tracks from Universal Soldier soundtrack].

CD 3: Songfall (1972)
13. CITY STREETS [Bonus Track]

I Think I’ll Write A Song reverted to a more intimate style, while Songfall featured guest musicians including Ray Cooper and Rick Wakeman and re-interpretations of Buddy Holly’s Everyday and the Everly Brothers When Will I Be Loved.

This splendidly fine album opens on the beautifully balladry of MOON and the gently upbeat BLUE DAY, before reverting back to the piano for his virtually unrecognizable cover of Buddy Holly’s EVERYDAY, the Elton John-esque LEON, the low slung THE DESERTER and then both the foot-tapping COUNTRY GREEN AHEAD and the quietly countrified ballad WHEN WILL I BE LOVED? (a cover of the Every Brothers).

Up next is the gently jaunty NOT REALLY HERE RIGHT NOW and the tambourine-induced PROCESSED and they are followed by another earnest piano work on CHILD OF JESUS, the affable guitar work of NEW MOON TONIGHT the original album rounding out on the Randy Newman-esque WHEN THAT DAY COMES, closing on the solitary bonus track CITY STREETS.

CD 4: Phillip Goodhand-Tait (1973)
11. ALMOST KILLED A MAN [Bonus Track]
12. SWEET EMOTION [Bonus Track]

The eponymous, self-titled final album of the quartet (1973), benefits greatly from DJM’s huge worldwide success with a greater recording budget, opening on the piano and guitar funk of FIVE FLIGHT WALK UP and the soaring ache of I THINK I CAN BELIEVE, before heading into the accordion-infused ONE MORE RODEO, the festive rock-pop sounds of TEENAGE CANTEEN, before coming back down for the amiable balladry of both FOREVER KIND OF LOVE and the mid-tempo YOU ARE.

Up next is the preppy EMILE and the sweeping REACH OUT FOR EACH OTHER which are followed by the troubadour ode SUGAR TRAIN, the atmospheric, birds chirping, water flowing ambiance of WARM SUMMER RAIN, with the three additional bonus track being the quietly reflective ALMOST KILLED A MAN, the upbeat and joyful SWEET EMOTION, the album (and the four CD set, coming to a close on the euphorically tainted JESUS DIDN’T ONLY LOVE THE COWBOYS.

Official 4CD Purchase Link

Title - Mud: The Albums 1975-1979 [4CD]
Artist - Mud

Mention the name Mud to most Americans - even those neck-deep in the ’70s revival - and the likely result will be a blank stare.

In England, however, between 1974 and 1976, Mud was one of the hottest rock & roll acts there was, charting a series of monster hit singles and recording a pair of delightful oldies-oriented albums.

They were never a profoundly philosophical band, and never pretended to be. The group played music to have a good time, and merely asked that others join in, which millions of Brits did for a few years.

Formed in February 1966, their earlier success came in a pop and then glam rock style, while later hits were influenced by 1950s rock and roll, and they are best remembered for their hit singles Dyna-mite, Tiger Feet, which was the UK’s best-selling single of 1974, and Lonely This Christmas which reached Christmas number 1 in December 1974.

After signing to RAK Records and teaming up with songwriters/producers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the band had fourteen UK Top 20 hits between 1973 and 1976, including three number ones.

Mud: The Albums 1975-1979 (releasing December 17th, 2021 via Cherry Red Records UK) is a 62 track, 4CD clamshell box-set covering the albums recorded by ’70s legends Mud between 1975 and 1979.

CD 1: Use Your Imagination (1975)
1. RU Man Enough
2. She’s Got The Devil In Her Eyes
3. Don’t Knock It
4. Maybe Tomorrow
5. 43792 (I’m Bustin’ You)
6. Hair Of The Dog>br> 7. L’L’ Lucy
8. Show Me You’re A Woman
9. Bird Dog
10. Use Your Imagination
11. Under The Moon Of Love
12. My Love Is Your Love [Bonus Track]
13. Don’t You Know [Bonus Track]

Disc One is 1975’s Use Your Imagination album which reached #33 in the UK charts. It features the Top 10 singles L’L’ Lucy (#19 in Germany) and Show Me You’re A Woman (#43 in Germany).

In 1975 Mud decided they didn’t need to be puppets of the highly successful songwriters/producers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman any longer. While the duo had written all the band’s hits like Tiger Feet and Dyna-mite, the group had been penning their own B-sides and felt they could strike out on their own without striking out.

Their first self-penned single L’L’Lucy was a hit reaching number ten and the album Use Your Imagination reached number 33. Not exactly smashes, but enough to keep the band in the spotlight.

The album was a bit of a departure from their previous records which were loaded with covers of rock classics and seemed nothing more than placeholders between Chinn/Chapman singles.

There are only two covers here, a silly reggae take of the Everly Brothers’ Bird Dog and a rollicking take of Curtis Lee’s Under the Moon of Love (which later became a hit for Showaddywaddy with a very similar arrangement).

The rest are composed by the band or contemporary songwriters and are a mixed bag of glammy rockers and ’50s-styled ballads.

CD 2: It’s Better Than Working! (1976)
1. It Don’t Mean A Thing
2. Beating Round The Bush
3. I’ve Got A Song
4. Sweet And Sour Lady
5. All I’ve Got To Give
6. Nite On The Ties
7. How Many Times?
8. Don’t Talk To Me
9. Blagging Boogie Blues
10. Vambo Rools
11. Moving On
12. Shake It Down [Bonus Track]
13. Laugh, Live, Love [Bonus Track]
14. Time And Again [Bonus Track]
15. Nite On The Tiles (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
16. Lean On Me [Bonus Track]
17. Grecian Lament [Bonus Track]
18. Beating Round The Bush (Single Version) [Bonus Track]

The second disc is the It’s Better Than Working! album which contains the singles Beating Round The Bush and Nite On The Tiles (#37 in Germany). Among the bonus tracks is the UK #7 smash hit Lean On Me (#44 in Germany) and the #12 hit Shake It Down (#45 in Germany).

The follow-up to 1975’s Use Your Imagination, It’s Better Than Working! caught Mud continuing to pursue the twin directions laid out by their most recent hits - one eye on a distinctly Showaddywaddy-shaped brand of rock & roll revivalism, and the other firmly grasping the soft rock softball that had served former stablemates Smokey so well.

Neither was it an altogether desultory decision, Night on the Tiles handed the band one more in the long sequence of hit singles that had sustained them since 1973, while a taste of Mud’s eye for the unusual was delivered by an unlikely cover of Alex Harvey’s Vambo Rools.

Beating Round the Bush and the amusingly titled Blagging Boogie Blues, too, captured more than a soupçon of the quartet’s early endearing goofiness, rendering It’s Better Than Working! a stronger album than might have been expected.

CD 3: Rock On (1978)
1. Burn On Marlon
2. Let Me Get (Close To You)
3. Walk Right Back
4. Who You Gonna Love
5. Slow Talking Boy
6. Careless Love
7. Drift Away
8. Gotta Good Reason
9. Too Much Of Nothing
10. Cut Across Shorty
11. Let Me Out [Bonus Track]
12. Just Try (A Little Tenderness) [Bonus Track]
13. Gives You The Good Times Now [Bonus Track]
14. We’ve Got To Know [Bonus Track]
15. Let Me Get (Close To You ) (Single Version) [Bonus Track]

1978’s Rock On album can be found on Disc Three which features the 45s Slow Talking Boy, Cut Across Shorty, Drift Away and Just Try (A Little Tenderness).

In 1977, with Private Stock in financial difficulties, the band moved to RCA and brought out the diligently created Rock On. Their first single on that label and from that album was Slow Talking Boy, a folk rock song composed by John Kongos, and featuring Davis playing a Vox 12-string guitar-mandolin.

They actually performed this song on BBC TV’s Top of the Pops, but without reaping any chart success. Mud’s next single, Just Try (A Little Tenderness), was their final appearance on any major national chart, stalling at No. 98 in Australia.

Three more singles, all cover versions, followed in 1978 before RCA dropped the band and Gray quit for a solo career; the original band continued for a short while with female vocalist Margo Buchanan in Gray’s place, releasing an unsuccessful single for Carrere, before finally disbanding in 1979.

CD 4: As You Like It (1979)
1. Dream Lover
2. It’s A Show
3. 1-2 Love
4. Heaven Was Meant For You
5. As You Like It
6. You’ll Like It
7. So Fine
8. Right Between The Eyes
9. Touchdown
10. Why Do Fools Fall In Love / Book Of Love
11. Run Don’t Walk [Bonus Track]
12. Can’t Stop [Bonus Track]
13. Don’t Ever Change [Bonus Roly Track]
14. Yes I Do [Bonus Roly Track]
15. Car Friends [Bonus Roly Track]

The final disc is the band’s last studio album, As You Like It which includes the You’ll Like It and Why Do Fools Fall In Love / Book Of Love singles.

Among the bonus tracks are two rare singles recorded under the name of Roly which appear for the first time on CD.

Mud’s sixth album could be regarded as very much a return to the spirit of former glories, a mass of rock & roll-era cover versions delivered in inimitable style by frontman Les Gray, and lacking only the magic touch of former backroom boys Nicky Chinn and Michael Chapman to bring the hits flowing once again.

It could be, but it sadly isn’t (well, not completely). The year since Mud’s last album had seen Gray spin off a solo hit with his cover of A Groovy Kind of Love and, though he never repeated the feat in his own right, Mud felt duty bound to try following suit - with the usual large helping of Showaddywaddy thrown in for good measure.

Dream Lover, Book of Love, and Why Do Fools Fall in Love? all feel like an unholy collision between the two styles, while the band’s self-composed material is aimed so unerringly at the heart of the prawn cocktail brigade that any hint of charm or humor has been wrung out of the music.

That all said, there are some great tunes to be found on this album, but they also sound like a band going through the motions, their choice of songs somewhat matted, and long before the producer finished layering in the last line of saccharin.

The booklet contains detailed liner notes by ‘70s expert Phil Hendriks plus repro’s of relevant sleeves from around the globe.

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Title - In The Name Of Love: The Elektra Years 1979-1984
Artist - Grover Washington Jr

SoulMusic Records (via Cherry Red Records UK) is about to release In The Name Of Love: The Elektra Years 1979-1984 (December 17th, 2021), a musically masterful collection of five albums by the incomparable Grover Washington Jr, specifically covering his tenure with Elektra Records from 1979-1984.

Rightfully considered a pioneer and one of the most influential musicians in the smooth jazz movement that began to emerge in the early ‘70s, Grover’s stellar work as a saxophonist hit a new plateau of popular acceptance with his recordings for Elektra, highlights of which include the million-selling Winelight LP featuring the timeless classic Just The Two Of Us (featuring renowned singer/songwriter Bill Withers) and The Best Is Yet To Come, the title track of which features special guest Patti LaBelle.

CD 1: Paradise (Expanded Edition) (1979)
1. Paradise
2. Icey
3. The Answer In Your Eyes
4. Asia’s Theme
5. Shana
6. Tell Me About It Now
7. Feel It Comin’
8. Tell Me About It Now (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
9. Feel It Comin’ (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]

Grover Washington Jr. made his mark early on with hit recordings for Kudu and Motown. After he switched to Elektra, the soulful saxophonist debuted on the label with Paradise, a decent and rather harmonious effort.

Washington (on soprano, tenor, flute and baritone) plays quite well as do the members of his septet (which include violinist John Blake, guitarist Richard Steacker and bassist Tyrone Brown), but the material (seven group originals) failed to include any really catchy melodies or strong hits.

This album is therefore more for Grover Washington completists than for general fans of the idiom although, as we all now know, Washington’s next project would be his best-selling Winelight.

CD 2: Winelight (Expanded Edition) (1980)
1. Winelight
2. Let It Flow (For Dr J)
3. In The Name Of Love
4. Take Me There
5. Just The Two Of Us (featuring Bill Withers)
6. Make Me A Memory (Sad Samba)
7. Let It Flow (For Dr J) (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
8. Winelight (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
9. Just The Two Of Us (featuring Bill Withers) (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
10. Make Me A Memory (Sad Samba) (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
11. Take Me There (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]

Having long been one of the leaders in what could be called rhythm & jazz, essentially R&B-influenced jazz, Washington’s Winelight is one of his finest albums, and not primarily because of the Bill Withers hit Just the Two of Us.

It is the five instrumentals that find Washington (on soprano, alto, and tenor) really stretching out. If he had been only interested in sales, Washington’s solos could have been half as long and he would have stuck closely to the melody.

Instead he really pushes himself on some of these selections, particularly the title cut to bring forth a highly memorable set of high-quality and danceable soul-jazz.

CD 3: Come Morning (Expanded Edition) (1980)
1. East River Drive
2. Come Morning
3. Be Mine (Tonight) (featuring Grady Tate)
4. Reaching Out
5. Jamming
6. Little Black Samba (featuring Grady Tate)
7. Making Love To You
8. I’m All Yours
9. Be Mine (Tonight) (featuring Grady Tate) (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
10. Reaching Out (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
11. Jamming (Single Edit) 12 East River Drive (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]

On this beautifully charismatic smooth soul-jazz album - one featuring Ralph MacDonald, Steve Gadd, Eric Gale, Richard Tee and Marcus Miller - sure, Come Morning delivered nothing new, but it’s pleasant throughout and perhaps Grover’s best release from the ’80s.

His soprano sax playing is exquisite and some of the tunes really get down and groove - such as East River Drive, Making Love To You and the title song - which all comes together to make this another Washington classic (on a par, in my humble opinion) with the brilliance of Winelight.

CD 4: The Best Is Yet To Come (Expanded Edition) (1982)
1. Can You Dig It
2. The Best Is Yet To Come (with Special Guest, Patti LaBelle)
3. More Than Meets The Eye
4. Things Are Getting Better
5. Mixty Motions
6. Brazilian Memories
7. I’ll Be With You
8. Cassie’s Theme (Theme From Cassie & Co.)
9. Brazilian Memories (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
10. I’ll Be With You (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
11. The Best Is Yet To Come (with Special Guest, Patti LaBelle) (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
12. More Than Meets The Eye (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]

Basking in the success brought to him by way of Winelight and it’s equally winning follow up release Come Morning, Washington kept Marcus Miller and Richard Tee into the fold (along with adding Philly’s Dexter Wansel) for The Best Is Yet To Come.

Long aware of how well the soul vocal duet worked with his kind of sax playing, Washington also had Patti Labelle come in and throw down one of her best performances ever on the title track.

Another notable creativity point is how a little reworking on the mixing console allows Patti’s wailing vocal cry to sound as if it’s leaping out of his wailing sax emotion!

We also get a couple of fast jams on this album, with Can You Dig It and Mixty Motions (with it’s cleverly misspelled title) both putting percussionist Ralph McDonald to full jazz-funk use.

With a few other tracks that can only be described as danceable and soulful, inclusive of a certain lightness and understatement from everyone involved, The Best Is Yet To Come is a quite wondrous album from start to finish.

CD 5: Inside Moves (Expanded Edition)
1. Inside Moves
2. Dawn Song
3. Watching You, Watching Me
4. Secret Sounds
5. Jet Stream
6. When I Look At You
7. Sassy Stew
8. When I Look At You (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
9. Secret Sounds (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
10. Inside Moves (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
11. Sassy Stew (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]

Although Washington Jr. (again on alto, tenor, soprano and baritone) puts on his usual strong effort, the forgettable material (which included no hits) and the emphasis on vocals (particularly those of Jon Lucien who is on five of the seven selections) makes this one of Washington’s weaker efforts and the least essential of his four Elektra recordings, in my humble opinion.

The background vocalists do not help much either and being that this was his only full-length album as a leader during the 1982-86 period, I was truly hoping for a better, perhaps more worthy effort myself; but it just wasn’t meant to be.

That said, and much like the equally great and much-missed Isaac Hayes, Washington was a musical visionary who defied both categorization and what the industry defied as proper or acceptable.

In other words, he was his own man and created his own music his way even if it meant having to defy so-called established rules or patterns. Hence this album portrays a man on a singular mission: to make music he likes to make, in the honest hope that everyone else does too.

This box set is a perfect companion to Sacred Kind Of Love, the 2019 SoulMusic Records’ anthology of Grover’s recordings for Columbia Records (SMCR5186BX).

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Title - Whiskey and the Dog
Artist - Creed Fisher

With over 22 million combined streams on Spotify and over 17 million views on YouTube with past releases, Life of A Workin’ Man, The Way That I Am, and This Place Called USA, Texas-born and bred southern rock artist Creed Fisher has just released a brand new album, Whiskey and the Dog.

His first album to be released through Dirt Rock Empire and distributed by CMDSHFT, the 14-track album reflects Fisher’s hardships, outlaw living, and blue-collar lifestyle and represents a community of hard-working men and women.

1. High on The Bottle
2. This Town
3. Girls with Big Titties
4. Whiskey and The Dog
5. Hundred Dollars Short
6. Gray Skys
7. Don’t California My Texas
8. The Good Ol’ U.S. of A.
9. Down To The Riverbank
10. Find My Way Back Home
11. Honkey Tonk Drankin’
12. I’m Crazy And You’re Gone
13. Jesus, Haggard & Jones
14. Hankles

Produced by Bart Rose, Josh Rodgers, and Fisher, and with eleven songs written entirely by himself and three others co-written with Mark Jones, Whiskey and The Dog opens on the reflective mid-tempo hipsway of High on The Bottle and the balladry of This Town and backs those up with the interestingly-titled ode Girls with Big Titties, the lonesome title track Whiskey and the Dog and then we get the rambunctious Hundred Dollars Short.

Next up is laid back Gray Skys and the flaunty Don’t California My Texas which are in turn followed by the low brow balladry of The Good Ol’ U.S. of A., the Hammond-imbued rocker Down To The Riverbank, the quietly paced Find My Way Back Home, the gentle funk of Honkey Tonk Drankin’, the album rounding out on the stillness of regret within I’m Crazy And You’re Gone, the barnyard slow dance Jesus, Haggard & Jones, closing on the thoughtfully gently, comedically side-eyed Hankles.

In closing, Whiskey and The Dog is different than anything Fisher has done to date and yet stays true to who he is - unapologetic, patriotic, and passionate.

Indeed, the album remains true to Creed Fisher’s unwavering form, speaking to and for his fans, and is his strongest country album he has produced thus far in his career.

His songwriting harkens back to the roots of genuine outlaw country music, taking listeners back to a place and time when the fine art of storytelling flowed effortlessly.

With this new album, Fisher promises fans, “A rollercoaster of emotions; laughs, cheers with drinks and songs that will make you want to cry.”

When describing his aspirations for the album, Fisher states, "I hope fans walk away knowing that I’m still in the trenches fighting this battle for Real Country Music.”

“We haven’t lost a step; if anything, this album is stronger than ever and shows that Creed Fisher is a force to be reckoned with in Outlaw Country Music.”

Creed Fisher - High On The Bottle (Official Video)

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Title - Top Shelf [Japanese Edition]
Artist - Laura Ainsworth

For those not in the know, when Dallas-based retro jazz singer Laura Ainsworth began releasing a series of CDs on her indie label Eclectus Records, she says, “I thought of them as messages in a bottle. I sent them out into the world with no idea if anyone would ever find them.”

Thus she was stunned when her sophisticated lounge jazz won fans, accolades and multiple awards, leading to radio play and performances from Los Angeles to India.

And so with Laura’s music having received such a warm response from Japanese critics and fans of classic American vocal jazz, Japan’s very own Ratspack Records have now created this expanded CD version of her best-of vinyl LP, Top Shelf.

The CD, in coveted mini-LP CD format, includes 16 tracks - 15 of Laura’s favorite tracks from her first three albums, plus the previously-unreleased Irving Berlin classic, You’d Be Surprised.

All are warmly remastered by Jessica Thompson, Grammy-nominated for her work on Erroll Garner’s The Complete Concert by the Sea.

The production was overseen by David Gasten, producer of the popular This is Vintage Now CD compilation series (Laura’s version of An Occasional Man is the lead track on This Is Vintage Now Volume 2).

The Top Shelf CD comes in a plastic protective sleeve with an Obi band, extensive liner notes including info on each song, lyric sheet for all songs, and a 16-page color photo booklet on Laura’s unusual upbringing as the daughter of big band musical prodigy Billy Ainsworth (Tommy Dorsey, Freddy Martin, Ray McKinley, Tex Beneke and more) and her own award-winning mixture of modern and classic lounge/jazz/big band/torch musical styles.

1. That’s How I Got My Start
2. Necessary Evil
3. That’s the Kind of Guy I Dream Of
4. The Gentleman Is A Dope
5. You’d Be Surprised
6. Love For Sale
7. Skylark
8. Medley: Long Ago And Far Away/You Stepped Out Of A Dream
9. An Occasional Man
10. Out Of This World
11. Hooray For Love
12. Personality
13. My Foolish Heart
14. Dream A Little Dream Of Me
15. Wasting My Love On You
16. Just Give Me A Man

With the tracks having been were recorded at Crystal Clear Studios in Dallas with renowned pianist/producer/arranger Brian Piper and Laura’s loyal coterie of top Texas jazz players, including John Adams on bass and Chris McGuire on sax and clarinet, this new collection opens on the storytelling ache of That’s How I Got My Start and the bombastic fervor of Necessary Evil (made famous in the ’50s by Frankie Laine) and backs those up with the upbeat and sprightly, albeit it firmly tongue-in-cheek That’s the Kind of Guy I Dream Of.

Next up is the resoundingly forthright, lesser known Rodgers and Hammerstein track The Gentleman Is A Dope and the sultry-embraced throes of the previously unreleased You’d Be Surprised (an Irving Berlin tune made famous by Marilyn Monroe) which are in turn followed by the alluringly refined classic Cole Porter cut Love For Sale, the ornate balladry gossamer of Skylark and then a righteously-creative Medley: consisting of Long Ago And Far Away/You Stepped Out Of A Dream.

Along next comes one of my own personal favorites in the form of the atmospherically Caribbean, finger-snapping attributes of An Occasional Man (sung back in the day by both Sarah Vaughn and Julie London) and then come the luxurious tones of Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen’s Out Of This World, the gentle jazz skip-whirl of Hooray For Love and Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen’s mid-tempo foot-tapper Personality.

Another aching, this time fiddle-imbued ballad in the form of Ned Washington and Victor Young’s My Foolish Heart is up next with the album rounding out on Gus Kahn’s gorgeously sumptuous Dream A Little Dream Of Me, closing on two bonus tracks: the free flowing hipsway of Wasting My Love On You and the late night, smoky jazz club ambiance of Just Give Me A Man.

Japan’s Jazz Critique magazine wrote that “you will quickly become captivated by her alluring singing,” praised her “exceptionally great” voice and “master craftsmanship” that creates “her own one-and-only world.”

They declared Laura “crucial for jazz vocal fans” and Top Shelf “irresistible for 1920-1950s retro standard lovers.”

Jazz Japan likewise hailed Laura’s “silky, vibrant voice” that “conveys elegantly the beauty of the standards.”

In truth, it’s all rather overwhelming for Laura herself, who originally just hoped to help keep alive the music she learned to love from her dad.

Her classic sound has taken her from Texas to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Room to a top jazz club in Dubai and beyond. Now, she says, “As soon as this pandemic is under control, I hope you’ll find me singing Johnny Mercer in Tokyo!”

That’s How I Got My Start - Laura Ainsworth [Official Video]

Where Did The Magic Go - Laura Ainsworth [Official Video]

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Title - Ta’ Mig Med
Artist - Jesper Sivebæk

On Ta’ Mig Med (Take Me Along), guitarist Jesper Sivebæk plays the music of rock musician Kim Larsen on classical guitar.

Kim Larsen – the much-loved Danish rock musician and multi-artist – captured – in music and words – the Danish soul. With 500 recorded songs and 40 albums he was known by Danes of all ages.

Jesper Sivebæk, guitarist, and head of guitar department at The Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen, had two heroes in his youth: Andrés Segovia and Kim Larsen – and they have followed him ever since.

For more than 10 years Jesper Sivebæk has worked on the pieces on this album.

With his vast experience he uses the possibilities of the guitar to the utmost and follows the classical tradition of making instrumental versions of folk songs – like in Miguel Llobet’s arrangements of Catalan folksongs, in Benjamin Britten’s English and Chinese folksongs arrangements, and in Bela Bartok’s Hungarian folk songs.

Sivebæk is true both to the beauty and the simplicity of Kim Larsen’s songs, and to his instrument – the classical Spanish guitar.

In these arrangements, classical guitar players around the globe now have 12 new pieces to discover and put on their concert programs.

1. Kvinde min (Lady oh lady)
2. Hvis din far gi’r dig lov - (If your dad says okay)
3. Joanna - (Joanna)
4. Masser af success - (Lot’s of success)
5. Der er en sang - (There is a song)
6. Susan Himmelbla - (Susan Himmelbla)
7. Den lige vej - (The narrow road)
8. Om lidt - (In a moment)
9. Flyvere i natten - (Planes in the night)
10. Himlen - (Heaven)
11. Kom igen - (Come again)
12. Som et strejf af en drabe - (Like a touch of a raindrop)

This music for summer evenings and Sunday afternoons opens on the translucent Kvinde min and the gently playful duo of Hvis din far gi’r dig lov and Joanna and backs those with the slightly sterner orchestrations of Masser af success, the beautifully crafted Der er en sang and then comes the organic musings of Susan Himmelbla.

Next up is the ornate gossamer of both Den lige vej and the delightful Om lidt and backs those up seamlessly with the free flowing majesties of Flyvere i natten, the album rounding out on the effervescent Himlen, the structured elegance of Kom igen, closing on the embroidered melodies of Som et strejf af en drabe.

Album Teaser

Masser af success (Lot’s of success) [Official Music Video]

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Title - Screaming Into The Void
Artist - Brandon Teskey

For those not aware, Brandon Teskey is a blues guitarist, known most notably as the guitar player and songwriter of the blues rock band, Until the Sun. His music includes and often fuses elements of Blues, Fusion, Alternative Rock, Psychedelia, and Jazz.

Brandon’s forthcoming second solo album titled Screaming Into The Void is an eclectic array of blues, rock, fusion, jazz, psychedelic, and alternative music that spans throughout an album with surprising twists and turns.

Discontent with tired formulas, or being confined to a single genre, Brandon Teskey finds creative freedom in an album that breaks all the rules and lets the truth of the music speak for itself.

Though the album features two songs with Brandon singing, and two songs with Alyssa Swartz (Until the Sun) singing, the mostly instrumental guitar driven album delves into a variety of styles exploring the expanse of musicianship and virtuosity the players have to offer.

Says Brandon, “I strove to create true musical artwork that spoke for itself. It encompassed many of my favorite musical genres, while still staying true to my blues rock roots.”

1. Screaming Into The Void
2. Vertigo On The Heights of Desire
3. When The Sun Goes Down
4. Side Tracked
5. Amare Nocturne
6. To Not Go Blind
7. Tree of Life
8. Dance of The Fiddler’s Bitch
9. Autumn Leaves
10. Hypnagogia
11. Spider’s Web
12. Equinox

This brilliantly crafted and earthy new blues album opens on the deeply-seated guitar foot-tapper title track Screaming Into The Void and the majestically swarthy Vertigo On The Heights of Desire and then comes the vocalized, deep south growl of When The Sun Goes Down, the light and airy meanderings of Freddie King’s Side Tracked, the Gary Moore-esque melodies of Amare Nocturne and then comes Alyssa Swartz’s vocals on the delicate, mid-tempo balladry of To Not Go Blind.

Next up is one of my own personal favorites, the veritably translucent Tree of Life and the funky rhythms of Dance of The Fiddler’s Bitch which are in turn followed by the achingly languid beauty (and Swartz vocalized) of Autumn Leaves, the album rounding out on the ZZ Top-esque Hypnagogia and the vocalized Spider’s Web, coming to a close on the free flowing Coltrane track Equinox (featuring Danny Markovitch; co-leader of the fusion band Marbin based in Chicago, IL).

The album was recorded at Mind’s Eye Studio in Glendale Arizona. It was produced by Brandon Teskey and engineered by Larry Elyea. Most of the songs are original, however, it does feature a few covers including, Side Tracked by Freddy King, Equinox by John Coltrane, and Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma and Jacques Prevert.

Brandon assembled a world class group of musicians to play on the project. The personnel includes: Brandon Teskey, on Guitar and Vocals, Chris Tex (Until the Sun), on Drums, Jon Nadel (Marbin) on Bass, Will Kyriazis on Keyboard, Danny Markovitch (Marbin) on Saxophone and Alyssa Swartz on Vocals.

Brandon Teskey @ Facebook

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Title - Excalibur V - Move, Cry, Act, Clash!
Artist - Alan Simon

For those not aware, Move, Cry Act, Clash! is the fifth part of French musician and producer Alan Simon’s legendary Celtic rock opera series Excalibur.

The glorious recordings features such notable musicians as Alan Simon himself along with the late John Wetton, Steve Hackett, Bernie Shaw, Jerry Goodman, Martin Barre, Jeremy Spencer, Michael Sadler, Roberto Tiranti, John Helliwell, Jesse Siebenberg, Shira Golan and Miriam Toukan.

Move, Cry, Act, Clash! concludes its 12 tracks with The Vision featuring the aforementioned legendary John Wetton (King Crimson/Asia) in a beautiful tribute to the friendship and respect between these two musical giants.

1. Move, Cry, Act, Clash
2. The Prisoner
3. The Last Bird
4. Messaline
5. I Said Shout
6. Heaven
7. The Lady of the Lake
8. When Your Feelings Grow
9. Wake Up (Before the Last War)
10. Hey
11. A Brand New Day
12. The Vision

This simply magnificent fifth part of French musician and producer Alan Simon’s legendary Celtic rock opera series Excalibur opens on the highly atmospheric title track Move, Cry, Act, Clash and then some harder prog guitar comes to the fore on The Prisoner, before we get the pure gossamer of The Last Bird, the Celtic mid-tempo balladry of Messaline and then both the upbeat and euphoric I Said Shout and the low key, troubadour-imbibed Heaven.

Next up is the free flowing storytelling of The Lady of the Lake which is itself backed by the foot-tapping guitar rocker When Your Feelings Grow, then comes the ornately structured, percussion-layered Wake Up (Before the Last War), the languishing Hey, the album rounding out on the soaring A Brand New Day, closing on the wondrous opus The Vision.

Musicians Featured:
John Wetton (Asia / King Crimson)
Steve Hackett (Genesis)
John Helliwell, Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp)
Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep)
Martin Barre (Jethro Tull)
Jeremy Spencer (Fleetwood Mac)
Michael Sadler (Saga)
Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth)
Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
Shira Golan & Miriam Toukan (The Peace Tent Project)

“Excalibur brought me a lot of happiness because by creating this musical round table, I had the great chance to collaborate with incredible rock and folk legends, pillars of mythical groups: Yes, Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, King Crimson, The Moody Blues, Alan Parson, Asia, Barclay James Harvest, Genesis, Fairport Convention, Runrig, Jethro Tull, Saga, Uriah Heep.”

“Since its creation 20 years ago Excalibur has represented 5 studio and 3 live albums including 120 original tracks. Offering a new album is not trivial. You have to give everything. So I made this opus V by investing myself 100% with an old-fashioned production. No home studio but the joy of living in a large studio (Drums code studios in Italy) with great soloists and a fantastic symphony.”

“Then I contacted magical interpreters that I like. What a joy to hear the guitars of the legendary pillars of Genesis and Jethro Tull: Steve Hackett and Martin Barre or the voices of Supertramp from Saga and Uriah Heep: Jesse Siebenberg, Michael Sadler and Bernie Shaw without forgetting this incredible talented singer Roberto Tiranti.”

“We spent 6 months in a mixing studio with an average of 100 tracks per title. I hope that this more rock album than the previous ones will sign a real return on stage of this universal legend, ‘ever green’ say the English. Thank you to all those who supported Excalibur.”

“After 300,000 spectators in 4 tours, I hope that this musical round table finally finds its audience under the aegis of sharing. These 12 new songs underline the urgency to get moving for our planet.”

“More than ever our destiny is in our hands. And everything is good to take. The concept of Excalibur and its musical knights must contribute to this new start. Artists can (and must) get involved more than ever.” - Alan Simon.

Official Purchase Link

Title - #447
Artist - Marshall Crenshaw

For those unaware, beloved rock ’n’ roll auteur Marshall Crenshaw kicks off a new series of expanded reissues with updated editions of some of his classic albums via Shiny-Tone via Megaforce.

The first of those was his 1996 classic Miracle of Science, out on January 17th, 2022 and now (on February 4th, 2022) we get the expanded re-issue of #447 (1999), accompanied by two bonus tracks: including Will of the Wind and Santa Fe.

In my humble opinion, no one has had a bumpier career ride than Marshall Crenshaw along the way to where he stands within the industry today.

Hailed as the next big thing, by his second Warner Bros. album he was already yesterday’s news, being fed to this producer and that producer in the company’s quest for the big crossover hit.

In the meantime, Crenshaw went through a severe case of writer’s block, funneling what little did come out into movie soundtracks and a succession of disjointed albums that sold less and less with each release.

He switched labels and finally found a good fit at the small independent Razor & Tie imprint. There, he released four mighty fine albums in a far more relaxed manner that hearken back to his earliest - and arguably his best - recordings.

1. Opening (It’s All About Rock)
2. Dime a Dozen Guy
3. Television Light
4. Glad Goodbye
5. West of Bald Knob
6. T.M.D.
7. Tell Me All About It
8. Ready Right Now
9. Eydie’s Tune
10. Right There in Front of Me (Demo)
11. You Said What??
12. Will of the Wind [Bonus Track]
13. Santa Fe [Bonus Track]

#447, Crenshaw’s second release for Razor & Tie in 1999, stands tall as one of his finest albums, as well as his most ambitious and perhaps perfectly realized.

The big news is the wealth of great original material, plus Crenshaw’s newfound interest in guitar textures, giving this album a complex weave of interesting tones that literally leap out of the mix.

He is also playing a lot more guitar than on his early sides, including three delightful instrumentals. Indeed, his style shows him to be something of a cross between Kenny Burrell, Danny Gatton, and Grant Green.

But, and as always with Crenshaw, the pop hook’s the thing, and tunes like the old-school jive-rock of Opening (It’s All About Rock), the Beatles-esque Dime a Dozen Guy, Television Light, the jangling guitar work of West of Bald Knob, and the pop-tastic Right There in Front of Me do not disappoint.

To my mind, and knowing what went before and what came after, he hasn’t sounded this confident and relaxed on a record in a long time, and thus this album spotlights his talent in a way that makes you smile as you’re singing along with a variety of songs that (at least at that time, of course) you had never heard before - which is also, perhaps, the highest praise of all.

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Title - 11 From Kevin: Songs of Kevin Gordon
Artist - Julie Christensen

For those unaware, vocalist and songwriter Julie Christensen has had a long connection to the work of Nashville singer-songwriter Kevin Gordon.

Having built her career forging connections through song, including stints as Leonard Cohen’s backing vocalist, Christensen knows the value of a sticky melody and well-crafted lyrics.

Christensen and her band, Stone Cupid, recorded Gordon’s Saint on a Chain for their 2016 album, The Cardinal, but during lockdown in 2020, she decided someone ought to record an entire collection of the Louisiana native’s songs.

Thus, Christensen’s tribute to East Nashville songwriter Kevin Gordon entitled 11 From Kevin: Songs of Kevin Gordon is releasing January 21st, 2021 via WireBird Records.

1. Find My Way
2. Crowville
3. Fire At The End Of The World
4. Joey and Clara
5. Gloryland
6. Heart’s Not In It / Down To The Well
7. Jimmy Reed Is The King Of Rock n’ Roll
8. Gatling Gun
9. Following A Sign
10. Goodnight Brownie Ford
11. Rest Your Head

This brilliantly crafted and abundantly heartfelt new album opens on the throaty foot-tapper Find My Way and the countrified Crowville and lovingly backs those up with the rustic Americana feel of Fire At The End Of The World, the steel guitar twang lays lovingly on Joey and Clara and then a tale of indictment of false prophets is brought forth on the forthright storytelling of Gloryland and then we get a unique pairing in the lonesome ode and the merciful rocker both found within the mini medley Heart’s Not In It / Down To The Well.

This eclectic and soulful album continues onward with a track sure to appease the Iowa contingent, the wrenching Jimmy Reed Is The King Of Rock n’ Roll and the methodical foot-tapper Gatling Gun which are in turn backed by the ode to a wandering faith healer on the complete-with-Calexico-style-horn enriched Following A Sign, the album rounding out on the roots-oriented storytelling of Goodnight Brownie Ford, elegantly closing on the troubadour-imbibed Rest Your Head

“I don’t pretend to be able to write a whole album of good songs at a time,” Christensen says. “I’m really inspired by Bonnie Raitt, Joe Ely and others who’ve made their names picking great songs by friends and songwriters others might not know, as if they’re saying, ‘I’ve gotta let you in on this secret.’”

“Since I have a voice, I’m going to sing it.”

And, as we all know now, that very same voice has earnt her induction into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as a long list of admiring peers and collaborators.

Brandon Teskey @ Facebook

Official iTunes Purchase Link

Title - Cosmology
Artist - Claudio Scolari Project

For those unaware, the Claudio Scolari Project releases its fifth album Cosmology on March 25th, 2021 and it is the soundtrack of an imaginary journey into space, where acoustic and electronic sounds blend together in an endless dialogue.

With the Claudio Scolari Project officially becoming a quartet - since bassist Michele Cavalca joined the band - Cosmology is delightfully constructed with instinctive rhythms, jazz chords, melodies that interact with the synthesizers, bringing forth an atmosphere of pure experimentation, transporting the project into a musical dimension that blends jazz and avant-garde music.

Furthermore, the structural part of the songs is managed by Claudio and Daniele who, coming from two slightly different artistic realities, create a unique fusion during the recording sessions.

And then Simone and Michele complete the work with their rhythmic, melodic parts, making the music even richer and more colorful.

Thus the album features: Claudio Scolari on drums/synth programming, Daniele Cavalca on drums/live synths/rhodes/piano, Simone Scolari on trumpet and, as aforementioned, Michele Cavalca on electric bass.

1. Dark Matter (6:45)
2. Magnitude (7:45)
3. Hyper Galaxy (5:24)
4. Aurora (4:22)
5. Zenith (4:17)
6. Spectrum (6:17)
7. Cosmology (2:39)
8. Blue Shift (8:06)
9. Aphelion (6:11)
10. Lunation (4:46)
11. Hole (6:22)
12. Collision (6:27)
13. Nebula (5:24)

This brilliantly crafted and abundantly majestical album opens on the pure, unadulterated opulence of Dark Matter and the jittering fervency of Magnitude and lovingly backs those up with the achingly translucent Hyper Galaxy, the shimmering Aurora and then comes the orchestrally frenetic, yet sculptured Zenith and then the foot-tapping melodies of the mid-tempo Spectrum are brought forth.

This eclectic and deeply soulful album continues onward with the swarthy, late night gumshoe-imbibed title track Cosmology and backs that up with the ornate nature of Blue Shirt, the drum-led Aphelion, the quieter pacing of Lunation, the album rounding out on the vastly cultured, earthy tones of Hole and then the apprehensively tense ruminations of Collision, closing on the dulcet reverie of Nebula.

Official Website

Official Purchase Link

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Title - Esquina de São Paulo
Artist - João Luiz & Danilo Brito

For those unaware, when stars come together, an album like this is born.

João Luiz and Danilo Brito are both master musicians in their own rights, playing music at the highest level.

A virtuoso of the popular music of his native Brazil, guitarist Luiz began playing professionally during his childhood and was later trained in classical guitar by his mentor, Henrique Pinto. He is also an integral member of the New York creative community, as the director of chamber music at CUNY Hunter College.

Danilo Brito is a genius on the mandolin and an authority in Choro. He is also a celebrated composer and arranger. Choro has the same cultural parents as jazz and blues.

Here on their brand new album Esquina de São Paulo (releasing December 24th, 2021 via Zoho Music), European forms meld with African ideas to produce a family of fresh, new forms throughout the New World.

1. Gargalhada (5:38)
2. Esquina de São Paulo (5:11)
3. Feia (4:32)
4. Salsito no Choro (6:04)
5. Benzinho (3:30)
6. Primas e Bordões (4:52)
7. Despertar da Montanha (3:08)
8. Perigoso (3:45)
9. Chovia (5:18)

Marked by virtuosity, syncopation, counterpoints, and improvisation with an intense expression of feelings, from cheerful to melancholy, this brilliantly crafted and abundantly soulful album opens on the free-flowing majesties of the delightful Gargalhada and the delicate gossamer of the title track Esquina de São Paulo and continues forth with the intricate guitar play of both Feia and plucked Salsito no Choro.

On such a lovely album (in English, São Paulo Street Corner), one where you can hear their energy, magnetism and even their dutiful friendship, it continues onward with the upbeat and perky Benzinho and the layered excellence of Primas e Bordões, backing those up seamlessly with the ornate Despertar da Montanha, the abundantly joyful Perigoso, coming to a close on the structured elegance of Chovia.

João and Brito first met in 2004 at the Visa Music Award. Though it was a quick encounter, Brito’s was able to see the brilliance of João’s playing.

Brito continues, I realized that he had a sound of a classical guitarist, but was full of Brazilian swing of popular music.

Years later, in 2017, they performed together at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. The energy was so good that we went on a tour the next year, says Brito.

This new repertoire came from options Brito showed João that came from that first performance in NY, when he was a featured guest, and the duo’s tour the following year.

Brito had made some home recordings and sent them to João. Of course, João was duly impressed and rendered them afresh with his arrangements.

Kabir Sehgal, producer, is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner.

Amazon Purchase Link

João Luiz @ Twitter

Title - October Is Marigold
Artist - David Cross & Andrew Keeling

For those unaware, King Crimson legend David Cross and Composer Andrew Keeling have just released their second album as a duo, October Is Marigold (via Noisy Records).

David Cross is best known as a member of King Crimson on the Larks’ Tongues in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black albums and he also leads the David Cross Band and has been a guest artist, recording and performing live with a number of international groups including Stick Men.

Andrew Keeling is a composer and musician whose contemporary classical works have been internationally acclaimed. Besides working with David Cross he has also orchestrated the music of Robert Fripp (The Wine of Silence), arranged for Tim Bowness (Abandoned Dancehall Dreams) as well as playing with alt-rock band, The Gong Farmers.

Keeling has also written a series of Musical Guides exploring the music of such bands as King Crimson.

October Is Marigold (subtitled Electric Chamber Music, Vol. 3) is an instrumental music album by David Cross (electric violin) and Andrew Keeling (flute) and is also the third to appear on the aforementioned Noisy Records’ Electric Chamber Music label.

1. Marigold 1 (1:19)
2. Kingfisher (5:36)
3. October Is Marigold (9:31)
4. Strong as a Mountain Lion (6:09)
5. Marigold 2 (3:51)
6. Ever Nearer (8:05)
7. Marigold 3 (4:00)
8. The Spiking Darts that were Trees (8:27)
9. The Dark Edge of Desire and Marigold 4 (8:49)

Perhaps more strikingly than its predecessors, this recording epitomizes the aims of that label to present music designed for an intimate setting which makes use of musical and electronic techniques used in rock.

Opening on the starkly ornate Marigold 1 and the flirtive Kingfisher, with the music once again mostly improvised, the exception can be found on the expansive title track; where there is a previously written organ part and two guitar loops that come into being.

Next up is the atmospheric Strong as a Mountain Lion and the earnest reach of Marigold 2 which are in turn backed by the gently joyful Ever Nearer, the dulcet yearn of Marigold 3, this stunningly crafted album rounding out on the orchestrally-imbibed The Spiking Darts that were Trees, closing on buildingly euphoric The Dark Edge of Desire and Marigold 4.

Cross and Keeling’s English Sun was released in 2009 (followed by a handful of gigs) and the duo recorded much of October Is Marigold in the same year.

These tracks lay dormant until 2020 when work recommenced on the new album. Whereas English Sun encapsulates the vibrance of summer, October Is Marigold portrays darker, melancholic autumnal atmospheres.

Although the performances are spontaneous there is a clearer sense of architecture here, with the Marigold cello/piano theme arching in four incarnations across the album.

Nature continues to be an inspiration, with field recordings of birds finding a natural place alongside pizzicato violin and fluttering flute.

Cross demonstrates the full potential of the electric violin with, for example, a haunting, muted trumpet-like sound on the title track and the earthy, evocative use of cello pitched violin.

Keeling’s flute seems to embody the human response to the realities of nature, breathing, tumbling and bending with the wind. Throughout, there is an uninhibited flow across musical reference points - hints of folk, blues.

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Title - Blues Approved
Artist - Sam Moss

For those unaware, in Winston-Salem, N.C., the late guitarist Sam Moss is a legend.

A superior, highly versatile musician whose advocacy for the blues and 1960s mastery of the nuances of electric soloing somewhat paralleled Mike Bloomfield’s in Chicago, Moss was an inspiring, charismatic mentor to generations of North Carolina rockers, including Let’s Active and The dB’s.

Southern Culture on the Skids’ Rick Miller tells us: “Sam was one of the hippest guys we knew — our Guru of Groove, the Maharishi of Mojo.” A larger-than-life character, Moss astounded local audiences in his club appearances, yet he never released a record in his lifetime.

So producer Chris Stamey was thrilled to discover, in 2020, on the end of an old tape, forgotten masters of Blues Approved (which releases on January 28th, 2022 via Schoolkids Records) a spectacular Stax – and Muscle Shoals–influenced solo record, made with Mitch Easter in 1977.

This “great lost” record reveals that Moss was also a soulful songwriter and singer. It has now been carefully remixed and produced for release, with a deluxe booklet featuring detailed liner notes and bio, session notes by Easter, and lots of vivid color photos.

Peter Holsapple (The dB’s) explains: “Sam Moss was an inspiration to so many of us; with the release of Blues Approved, now people everywhere will understand why.”

1. Rooster Blood
2. King of My Hill
3. Ain’t That Peculiar
4. Vida Blanche
5. If You See My Baby
6. Trying to Do Better
7. To Those Still at Sea
8. My Man Mike
9. Nightflight Over Berlin
10. PJ
11. Act Naturally
12. Pleasant Valley Sunday
13. Can’t Get Used to Losing You
14. Who’s Driving Your Plane?

Opening on the mid-tempo blues of Rooster Blood and the low slung balladry of King of My Hill, he backs those up seamlessly with the harmonica-driven, blues-imbibed cover of Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t That Peculiar, the Stones-esque Vida Blanche, another harmonica-driven cut in the form of the down south blues found within If You See My Baby, and then comes the lighter blues fare of Trying to Do Better and the all-out bar rocker To Those Still at Sea.

Next up is one of my own personal favorites from this quite brilliant, earthy blues album, the flirty rhythmic guitar licks of My Man Mike which is in turn followed by the soaring instrumental Nightflight Over Berlin, the drum-led rocker PJ, a lovingly atmospheric rendition of Buck Owens’ Act Naturally, a quite breathtaking rendition of the Monkees’ Pleasant Valley Sunday, the album rounding out on a dedicated instrumental of Pomus and Shuman’s Can’t Get Used to Losing You, coming to a righteous close on the lesser known Stones track from 1966, Who’s Driving Your Plane?

Moss had made the first of several trips to nearby Chapel Hill to record his own original compositions in early 1977, with old friend Easter on drums (and engineering). Mitch recalls: “I had a ‘studio’ in my house, meaning a Teac 2340 four-track recorder, three or four humble microphones, and for monitoring, the home stereo system. For extra-fancy sessions, I’d rent a Tapco six-channel mixer.”

“Sam came down with two or three guitars, his Fender Twin. I played drums and Sam played everything else. And it was a really good session! Sam wrote interesting songs that almost always had a blues angle, but he brought in a lot of elements from elsewhere. He was pleased with the results, so we met a couple more times that year and recorded an LP’s worth of songs.”

But the material then sat on the shelf, unheard, as Moss opened a vintage guitar store, selling internationally to rock stars and other celebrities for several decades.

Stamey felt that most of the material seemed fully formed on its own, despite the limited recording options then available, but for a few tracks — the openers Rooster Blood and King of My Hill, and Vida Blanche — he enlisted the help of the Uptown Horns’ leader Crispin Cioe, a veteran of Rolling Stones tours whose Southern-fried additions on sax fit the material like a glove.

And once a few later covers (created with Henry Heidtmann and Jay Johnson at Creative Audio/Turtle Tapes in the early ’90s) were added to the picture — including the captivating, bluesy spin taken with Ain’t That Peculiar featuring “Weso” Wesolowski on harp — the record was complete.

Contemporary technology was used to reassemble the various generations of four-track tapes into first-generation sources, peeling back the layers to put the listener back in the room where it happened.

The mono closing track, a teenage Moss in his first band singing Buck Owens’s Act Naturally in a church basement, was too cool not to include.

And as bonuses, there are three additional surprises from the Turtle Tapes sessions: the Monkees’ 1967 hit Pleasant Valley Sunday (written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King) an instrumental of Pomus and Shuman’s Can’t Get Used to Losing You, and the Stones’ obscurity Who’s Driving Your Plane?

Easter: “I had a pretty good memory of this material, but when I actually heard it again I was delighted that it really is great. Sam was always strangely unconcerned about stardom, but he was a star anyway. When you play the record, you’ll see what I mean.”

On July 30, 2021, the City of Winston-Salem honored Moss with a sidewalk star in the city’s Walk of Fame downtown.

Blues Approved will be released on CD and digitally by Schoolkids Records on January 28th, 2022, with a vinyl edition to follow in early summer.

Official Pre-Order Purchase Link

Title - Brutal Fairytale
Artist - Raul E. Blanco & Jazz Wires

For those unaware, artist Raul E Blanco and his band Jazz Wires have just released their third jazz album, Brutal Fairytale.

The band members involved in creating this album include several talented individuals, with Raul E Blanco leading them. Raul is on the piano, percussion, and as the vocalist, while Brandt Fisher is on the Sax.

Gabriella Aragon plays the Trombone and is also a vocalist, Noah Austin on the Trumpet, Joe Ballastrasse on the bass, and Anthony Channita plays the drums.

A powerful mixture of highly talented band members, Brutal Fairytale emerges as a combination of different jazz styles, classical rock, and world music.

Packing killer grooves, yet easy and stimulating to listen to, this album has the potential to both inspire and impress the listener at the very same time.

1. Brutal Fairytale
2. Spanish Tale in Arabia
3. Digital Memory
4. Garjavan
5. Origins
6. Fireplace
7. Hermit’s Song
8. Wooden House
9. Lo-Fi Banger
10. Traces of You
11. The Blick
12. Pleasant Valley Sunday
13. Can’t Get Used to Losing You
14. Who’s Driving Your Plane?

Opening on the finger-snapping rhythms of the title track Brutal Fairytale and the spirited Spanish Tale in Arabia, they back those up seamlessly with the lushly orchestrated, sax-imbibed Digital Memory, the gently soothing funk tones of Garjavan and then comes the piano-led Origins.

Next up on this musical attempt to deliver passion and elegance to each and every listener is the atmospherically-earthy, two minute Fireplace and then comes the late night, underground jazz club appeal of Hermit’s Song which are in turn followed by the melodic Wooden House, the eclectically entertaining thirteen minute opus Lo-Fi Banger, the album rounding out on the vocalized Traces of You, the melodious harmonies of The Blick, closing on the playfully perky Ska-Monk (For Air Guitar and Jazz Combo).

Official Purchase Link

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Title - Bluish Tide
Artist - Kristen R. Bromley Quintet

For those unaware, Dr. Kristen R. Bromley is a gifted and sought-after instructor, as well as a loved performer and composer. Furthermore, Kristen has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Education from Boston University, a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies, with an additional BA major in Family History and Genealogy, from Brigham Young University.

Bluish Tide (out now) is Kristen’s second jazz release as a leader. The album includes 9 mainstream originals involving a mix of swing, bossa nova, funk, and ECM grooves, plus one swing style cover of an old classic hymn – How Great Thou Art.

On this record, Kristen is joined by Dr. Ray Smith on tenor saxophone (and alto flute for one track), Steve Erickson on piano, Matt Larson on bass, and Jay Lawrence on drums.

1. Pillar of Fire (5:34)
2. Groove O’clock Time (6:47)
3. O Great God – How Great Thou Art! (8:31)
4. Faith Preceded My Miracle (10:05)
5. Between Canyon Walls (6:01)
6. Bluish Tide (7:34)
7. Paint Me a Picture My Love (10:11)
8. Just Walkin’ (7:11)
9. Junkyard Dawg (10:08)
10. Through the Veil (7:51)

This rather delightful, honesty-crafted new album opens on the playful Pillar of Fire and the vibrant urgency of Groove O’clock Time and follows those up with the laid back soiree affair of the traditional Swedish Folk Tune O Great God – How Great Thou Art! and then comes the transcended rhythms of the 10 minute Faith Preceded My Miracle.

Next up is the upbeat and playful Between Canyon Walls and one of my own personal favorites, the bullish, yet tempered title track Bluish Tide, and they are in turn backed by the opulence of the 10 minute Paint Me a Picture My Love, the gentle finger-snapping melodies of Just Walkin’, the album rounding out on the funky 10 minute track, Junkyard Dawg, closing on the ornamented excellence of Through the Veil.

In January 2016, Dr. Bromley suffered a severe break to her left-arm humerus bone, which likewise involved the crushing of her left-arm radial nerve.

Despite a very grim prognosis, which suggested that in a best-case-scenario she would regain a very small percentage of the function of her left-arm and hand, Dr. Bromley works as a musician and guitarist today.

At the time of the injury, she was given a special priesthood blessing wherein God promised her that in time, because of her faith, she would experience a complete recovery. Truly, this miraculous promise has become a reality.

After several months of patience and waiting, she slowly began regaining the ability to move her wrist and fingers, and weeks later was able to start gradually developing the ability to play the guitar again.

In November of 2018, Dr. Bromley recorded a debut album called Simply Miraculous, which celebrated her miraculous return to professional guitar playing. Since then, she has continued to record and perform regularly.

Dr. Bromley is the author of several guitar method books and is featured on various recordings. She has toured as a musician across parts of North America and Europe, and has performed at several highly prestigious jazz festivals such as the Edinburgh International Jazz Festival in Scotland, the Birmingham International Jazz Festival in England, the Marlborough International Jazz Festival in England, the Loulé Jazz Festival in Portugal, the San Sebastian International Jazz Festival in Spain, and the Ezcaray Jazz Festival in Spain.

Dr. Bromley has also performed and presented clinics at Jazz Education Network and International Association for Jazz Education conferences. In 2006 and 2007, she was named the outstanding guitar soloist at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival.

As a scholar, Dr. Bromley has focused much of her research on discovering ways to create more interactive and person-centered educational environments wherein individuals experience whole-person learning outcomes as they grow through cognitive, emotional, and experiential means, develop greater self-discipline, and become more fully-functioning persons.

For more information see Person-Centered Learning in a Collegiate Jazz Combo by Kristen R. Bromley.

Kristen loves life, is deeply religious, and truly believes in the awesome power music has to uplift and edify the soul. She has devoted her career to enriching, uplifting, edifying, and inspiring lives through the education, performance, scholarship, composition, recording, and publishing of music.

Since Kristen’s trio release in 2018, which celebrated her return to professional guitar playing, Kristen has continued to overcome the effects of the injury, and some of the tracks on this album pay tribute to her God-given, miraculous recovery.

Listeners will have a hard time not tapping their toes or feeling the expressions made by the quintet of musicians on this record.

Kristen R. Bromley: guitar
Ray Smith: tenor saxophone & alto flute (track 7)
Steve Erickson: piano
Matt Larson: bass
Jay Lawrence: drums

Official Website

Kristen R. Bromley @ YouTube

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Title - Hermanos
Artist - Cortez / Williams Project

For those unaware, the musical partnership and friendship between guitarist Chris Cortez and trumpeter Larry Williams goes back to the 1980s.

The two composers worked together to develop and refine their work and had a big impact on the jazz scene in Orlando, Florida.

Their compositions functioned as the backdrop for what was Orlando’s version of a loft scene. The presence of world class players, drawn to the area to work at Disney and get off the road, led to a thriving community of top level players.

Cortez and Williams presided over several groups that drew from that well of available players.

Their paths diverged over the years, but they remained focused on their original music. Cortez formed the Blue Bamboo record label, and eventually resettled back in Orlando to create the Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts.

Williams became an A-list session player in Los Angeles and released a massive body of work on his own label. Collaborations were often discussed but the timing never seemed to be right.

In 2012 Larry shocked the world when he announced he was retiring from the trumpet. Although he seamlessly shifted to guitar, the loss of his singular voice was a major blow to fans all over the world.

Fate stepped in when Larry’s wife Joy passed away and he decided to return to Orlando in the fall of 2020. Shortly after arriving back home Larry had a vivid dream where he was in a club looking down the barrel of a very unusual flugel horn, playing Moonlight In Vermont.

The dream was repeated and one day, while visiting the new music shop of a friend, he walked into the store and found it empty of merchandise, except for a lone flugel horn hanging on the wall.

Not just any horn, but the horn from the dream! Thus began the journey back to the trumpet. Much to the delight of all, and in record time, the fireworks that we remember are fully back on display.

And now the duo come together to bring us their just-released new album entitled Hermanos, which showcases perfectly how they not only compliment each other, but are accentuated by a great cast of musicians; everyone bringing out the best in each other.

1. Hermanos (6:08)
2. Melody Makes It Happen (5:22)
3. Glorious (4:53)
4. Un Pedazo De Tu Sonrisa (6:52)
5. Ask Me No Questions (4:57)
6. Silhouette (5:10)
7. Topaz (5:43)
8. Polka Dot Handkerchief (4:59)
9. DJ (1:20)
10. Territorial Imperative (4:18)
11. Building On A Dream (4:32)

This succulent, atmospherically-imbibed album opens on the lush orchestrations of the title track Hermanos and the lazy-hazy ambiance of Melody Makes It Happen and follows those up seamlessly with the ornate guitar work of Glorious, the summer breeze of Un Pedazo De Tu Sonrisa and then comes the delightfully euphoric Ask Me No Questions.

Next up come some dulcet ebbs and flows from a time gone by on the crystalline Silhouette and the rhythmic hip shaker Topaz which are in turn backed by the calmly flourishing Polka Dot Handkerchief, the short, but sweet DJ, the album rounding out on the dancefloor twirl of Territorial Imperative, closing on the resiliently heartfelt Building On A Dream.

Official Purchase Link

Title - Excursions
Artist - Adam Glaser

For those unaware, Adam Glaser’s new album, Excursions (out now), is a collection of 15 original instrumentals spanning a variety of contemporary jazz styles.

While his debut album, Wide Awake, featured Glaser leading an acoustic trio from the piano, for this second release he takes a step inward, exploring the limits and liberties of solo production.

All 15 tracks are composed, performed, programmed and recorded entirely by Glaser using virtual instruments.

The result is an eclectic mix of colorful songs that bounce from R&B and funk to jazz-pop and synth-driven electronica, all nestled in the fusion idiom.

1. Naomi’s Binomial Nomenclature
2. The Art of Science
3. Con Artist
4. Who Wants Lentil Soup?
5. A Little Bit of Your Love
6. Lay Low
7. I’m Ready
8. Blues for Planet 9
9. It Snowed Last Night
10. Pursuit No. 1
11. Moonshine
12. The Catamaran Is Coming Around
13. A Man of Few Words
14. Double Helix
15. Delivery

This beautifully crafted and heartfelt new album opens on the richness of Naomi’s Binomial Nomenclature and the skillfully enterprising The Art of Science and follows those up with the playful funk of Con Artist, the tempered percussional rhythms of Who Wants Lentil Soup?, the bountiful A Little Bit of Your Love and then come both the languid Lay Low and the emotive I’m Ready.

Next up are the digitalized harmonies of the atmospheric Blues for Planet 9 and the ornate gossamer of It Snowed Last Night and they are in turn backed by the organ-led Pursuit No. 1, the tantalizingly ariose Moonshine, the jaunty shuffle of The Catamaran Is Coming Around, the album rounding out on the sterner fare of A Man of Few Words, the digitally rhythmical Double Helix, coming to a close on the gently pulsating heartbeat of Delivery.

Conductor Adam Glaser is currently Music Director of the professional-caliber Juilliard Pre-College Orchestras and Director of Orchestras at Hofstra University where he serves as an Associate Professor of Music.

Notable engagements include a post as Principal Conductor of the NYU Orchestras, a nine-concert residency with the Symphonia Boca Raton, appearances with the symphonies of Wheeling, Illinois and Victoria (BC), and collaborations with such distinguished artists as Itzhak Perlman, Joyce Yang, Conrad Tao, Vijay Gupta, Timo Andres and Areta Zhulla.

Selected honors include the American-Austrian Foundation’s Karajan Fellowship for Young Conductors, which sponsored his residence at the Salzburg Festival and the Vienna Philharmonic’s Attergau Orchestra Institute.

Official Purchase Link

Adam Glaser @ Facebook

Title - Transitions
Artist - Yaron Gershovsky

For those unaware, Yaron Gershovsky is a highly accomplished and internationally recognized pianist/keyboardist, arranger, composer, and producer.

He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music in Boston, following a successful early career in Israel, where he was born.

Soon thereafter, he launched his musical career in the United States, touring with the great jazz saxophone player Pharoah Sanders and recording with the legendary Wayne Shorter on his album Atlantis.

Since 1979, Yaron has been the Musical Director and pianist/keyboardist for the world-renowned vocal group The Manhattan Transfer, touring, recording, and writing instrumental and vocal arrangements for them, including two GRAMMY-award winning songs.

Yaron has also recorded and performed with other greats, including Dr. Lonnie Smith, Steve Gadd, Abraham Laboriel, Lew Soloff, Janis Siegel, Ray Brown, Grady Tate, Don Sebesky, The Count Basie Orchestra, Richie Havens, Take 6, and Toots Thielemans.

His Broadway credits include vocal arranging for the Tony Award-winning musical “City of Angels” and vocal arranging for the musical hit “Swing.” He was also the Musical Director for numerous other shows and workshops and keyboardist for the musicals “The Phantom of The Opera” and “Les Miserables.”

In addition, Yaron had the honor of working with the famed conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and performed with him at Carnegie Hall.

Throughout his career, Yaron continuously writes, performs, and records his music, and has released numerous CDs, such as Personal Notes and State of Mind, and most recently Up Close from Afar – Solo Piano, and Up Close from Afar – Collaborations, which highlight his creative work during the Pandemic enforced isolation.

And now Yaron has just finished recording his new studio album, Transitions, to be released January 2022 and amalgamates original music and cover songs, which Yaron arranged especially for this album.

1. Northern Lights (4:53)
2. Transitions (6:08)
3. Scarborough Fair (7:00)
4. What She Said (5:14)
5. Birthday Bash (6:38)
6. Show Me the Way (5:38)
7. So Danço Samba (4:44)
8. Awakening (5:14)
9. I’ll Be Seeing You (6:46)
10. A Song for Mia (5:29)
11. Secret Love (6:27)
12. The Lonely Tree (4:35)
13. I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’ (3:50)

Stylistically covering a broad spectrum, ranging from contemporary jazz to jazz/rock, samba, and beyond, this mesmerizingly magnificent album opens on the upbeat and perky Northern Lights and the smoothly opulent title track Transitions before bringing us the veritably ethereal Simon & Garfunkel track Scarborough Fair, the ornamented beauty of What She Said (dedicated to Ruth Bader Ginsberg), the gently skittish percussion work of Birthday Bash and then the late night, underground jazz club vibe of Show Me the Way is brought forth.

Along next is one of my own personal favorites, the breathy Bossa Nova of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s 1962 track So Danço Samba and the free flowing melodies of Awakening, which are in turn followed by the graceful I’ll Be Seeing You (written for his wife, Dorit), the simply gorgeous A Song for Mia, the album rounding out with the finger-snapping Secret Love and the traditional folk song The Lonely Tree, coming to a close on the George and Ira Gershwin standard (and made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong) I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’.

The album features a variety of ensembles, from solo piano, trio, quartet, and a trio with vocals. Yaron is joined on the album with Will Lee, Boris Kozlov, Alex Sipiagin, Cliff Almond, Clint de Gannon, Ross Pederson, David Mann, and vocalist Aubrey Johnson.

The album delights in the varied Transitions of Yaron’s musical palette, with an equally salient ensemble of like-minded players. The result is a fluid yet transitional listen that allows the listener to enjoy the bountiful ideas of Yaron’s musical kaleidoscope.

Title - Morning Star
Artist - Thomas Heflin

For those unaware, for trumpeter Thomas Heflin, his Tennessee roots have always been a central part of his musical identity.

His laid-back playing style mirrors his easy-going personality, and his songs are always inviting, soulful and melodic.

Heflin grew up in Clarksville, TN. His grandfather, a painter and graphic artist, passed his passion for the arts to Heflin’s mother.

Heflin grew up taking piano lessons and listening to wide variety of musical styles, but it wasn’t until he took up the trumpet at the age of 11 that things came into sharp focus.

Around the same time, his grandfather gave him a recording of Louis Armstrong, and he quickly fell in love with jazz.

After high school, Heflin attended the University of Tennessee where he discovered the music pianist, Donald Brown, who was professor of jazz piano at the time. Brown, who hails from Memphis, Tennessee, is considered one of the most influential jazz composers of his generation.

Next, Heflin moved to New Jersey to attend William Paterson University for his master’s degree and to study with another Memphis-born pianist, James Williams.

Heflin’s debut album, Symmetry, featured Williams on piano, and his newest album, Morning Star pays tribute to Williams (who passed away in 2004) by showcasing one of his compositions, Self-Esteem.

1. Radio Intro (2:10)
2. Morning Star (7:11)
3. Self-Esteem (feat. Mavis “Swan” Poole) (7:41)
4. Evensong (7:01)
5. Interlude (3:13)
6. Haiku (Trumpet Intro) (0:56)
7. Haiku (5:31)
8. Station Break (0:55)
9. The Moon Singer (5:41)
10. Morning Star (Reprise) (feat. Mavis “Swan” Poole) (5:07)
11. Anna Breschine (6:54)
12. Radio Outro (4:37)

Interestingly, Morning Star is presented as a late-night radio show (complete with station IDs, and a radio DJ) and features songs that flow effortlessly from one to the next.

Opening on the appropriately titled, channel-surfing Radio Intro and that is followed by the euphorically-sculptured title track Morning Star and the Gospel-tinged magnificence of Self-Esteem (featuring Mavis “Swan” Poole), and then we get brought forth the lushly orchestrated Evensong and then comes the softly crafted Interlude.

Next up is the thoughtful trumpeting of Haiku (Trumpet Intro) and its longer, more joyful Haiku which are in turn backed by the short interlude within Station Break before we are presented with the solid workmanship of The Moon Singer, a reprise of Morning Star, the album rounding out on the luxurious tones of Anna Breschine, closing on the aptly-named, and laid back grooves of Radio Outro.

Furthermore, the music on Morning Star features a traditional jazz group underpinned by layers of Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ and strings, as well as percussion and additional woodwinds to create a warm, soulful sound reminiscent of the CTI recordings of the 1970s. The music also fuses elements of modern jazz with R&B, gospel, and neo-soul. The album was conceived around the title track Morning Star, and listeners may notice reworked snippets of the bassline and melody from the title track in other songs on the album.

The music was recorded at the beginning of the CoVid outbreak, and the “morning star” – the last star seen at night before the new day arrives – also serves as a musical symbol of hope and optimism through these dark times.

The radio DJ (Brandon Robertson) presents the tracks through poetic words of encouragement, creating the feeling of listening to an inspirational radio host during a late-night car ride.

The album features several notable musicians including world-renowned tenor saxophonist Gregory Tardy (Elvin Jones), Mavis “Swan” Poole (Lauryn Hill, Prince) on vocals, Peter Stoltzman (Steve Gadd/Eddie Gomez) on piano, Steve Haines on bass, Aaron Matson on guitar, Ariel Pocock on vocals, Xavier Ware on drums, Dan Hitchcock on woodwinds and Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco” (¡Cubanismo!) on percussion.

According to Heflin, “The music for the album is inspired things that bring me joy and hope. “Morning Star” is the Slavic translation of my wife’s first name. ‘Anna Breschine’ is my daughter’s name and ‘The Moon Singer’ is inspired by a book by Clyde Robert Bulla that I like to read to her at night.”

“In the story, a lonely child sings beautiful, wordless melodies to himself out in the forest. Evensong, which means ‘a service of evening prayers’ is meant to evoke a late night musical meditation. Haiku is a quirky song based on the chord changes of one of my favorite jazz standards, Benny Golson’s ‘Stablemates.’”

The only composition that is not an original is Self-Esteem, by James Williams, an inspirational song that perfectly encompasses the positivity and soulfulness of its composer.

Originally recorded on his album Truth, Justice, and the Blues, this version has been rearranged to feature vocalist Mavis “Swan” Poole singing the uplifting lyrics by Pamela Baskin Watson.

Featuring: Gregory Tardy, Dan Hitchcock, Aaron Matson, Peter Stoltzman, Xavier Ware, Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco,” Ariel Pocock and Mavis “Swan” Poole.

Amazon Purchase Link

Thomas Heflin

Thomas Heflin @ Facebook

Thomas Heflin @ Instagram

Title - Veneta
Artist - Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion

For those unaware, Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion twists jazz, flamenco, Cuban and classical Indian musical forms into intoxicating journeys that thrill audiences.

Described by Guitar Player Magazine as “mesmerizing”, Miguel Espinoza has recorded and performed with Bela Fleck, Kai Eckhardt, Kitaro, Tuck and Patti, Rita Moreno and Ben Vareen.

Flamenco Fusion performs to sold out audiences across Colorado and were the honored winners of Denver’s Westword Magazine 2019 “Best of World Music.”

Their first CD, Turtle Dreams, is the winner of Indie Acoustic’s Best Instrumental Album of 2019 - full of original music that has been described as “colorful and vibrant”, “emotional”, a “stunning combination of jazz, flamenco, and subtle world music”, and ”sophisticated rhythmic elements…emotional, natural and organic”.

Their second CD, the just-released Veneta, is a visually and aurally stunning work of musical art, complete with flamenco/jazz guitar, fiery cello, riveting salsa and Indian tabla!

1. Gnossienne
2. Bulerias Barrocas
3. Sad
4. Veneta
5. Cayendo
6. Happy

Combining achingly crafted, beautiful strokes of longing together with some fervent, upbeat and joyous tones, first we get the pleasure to listen to Gnossienne which is itself perfectly followed by startling, impassioned fervency of Bulerias Barrocas and then comes the appropriately-named, yet still veined with heartfelt earnestness Sad.

Along next is one of my own personal favorites here, the tantalizingly sculptured title track Veneta which is backed by the subtly ornamented Cayendo, this 6-track masterpiece coming to a close on the harmoniously joyous resonations of Happy.

Amazon Purchase Link

Title - Baby Stars / Dead Languages
Artist - Brian Straw

For those unaware, with his signature blend of indie-folk, rock, and experimental music, Brian Straw will release his debut solo album, Baby Stars / Dead Languages on January 21st, 2022.

“This album is what happens after sobriety,” Straw states. An artistic mainstay in his hometown of Cleveland, OH, Straw started building his career in the early 2000s with tours of the US and Europe.

However, alcoholism soon stalled his momentum, resulting in a hiatus from his own musical output for nearly 15 years. After having his last drink in 2017, he resumed his own performances and began to refine and record songs that he’d been working on for years, as well as ones that came out of his journey to sobriety.

“The songs unfold in real-time. Everything I was dealing with emotionally went in the music,” he explains. “I was hard on myself. I carried around a lot of shame and regret. I broke down a lot. I lost my girlfriend. The making of the record became my therapy.”

After years of his fans wondering When will Brian Straw finish his record, Baby Stars / Dead Languages is a victory lap, every bit as grand, detailed, and generous as expected.

The album introduces Straw’s deft compositional abilities and ambitious scope to a new audience while giving his long-time fans from his local scene the music they’ve been waiting for.

Recorded in his own studio/gallery space, Survival Kit, it features several notable Cleveland-based musicians such as Bill Lestock, Nick Cross, Tony Cross, Mike Tolan, Rob Kovacs, Dan Price, and Emily Keener, many of whom will be joining Straw for a string of upcoming shows.

1. Sleep Study
2. I Have Not Wandered (Far from You)
3. I Still Dream of You
4. Needle in the Creek
5. Murmurations
6. Keys To My Room
7. Underground
8. Shame & Desire
9. Out of Doors
10. Microdream
11. Close Enough to Know
12. Half-Buried Crow

Lovingly veined with his signature blend of indie-folk, rock, and experimental music, the album opens on the studiously crafted, lonesome ache of both Sleep Study and I Have Not Wandered (Far from You) and backs those up with the rhythmically upbeat pairing of both I Still Dream of You and Needle in the Creek, the earthy Murmurations and the adamancy of spirit within Keys To My Room.

Next up is the low slung gossamer of Underground and the rock guitar-imbibed urgency of Shame & Desire and they are in turn followed by the euphoric melodies of Out of Doors, the quietly expansive Microdream, the album rounding out on the troubadour reminiscing of Close Enough to Know, coming to a righteous close on the dulcet Half-Buried Crow.

The title symbolizes the beginning and end of a cycle, both ruminating on the difficult time he spent at rock bottom and celebrating finding his way back into the light.

IndieGoGo Album Funding Page

Brian Straw - Out of Doors [Official Music Video]

Brian Straw @ Facebook

Brian Straw @ Instagram

Title - Stomping Ground
Artist - Dion

For those unaware, Dion (born Dion Francis DiMucci) is following up his critically acclaimed and commercially successful 2020 album release Blues With Friends with Stomping Ground, a new album that finds him collaborating yet again with music greats with whom he shares mutual admiration.

Set for release November 5th, 2021, Stomping Ground was produced by Wayne Hood with Dion and will be released through Joe Bonamassa and Roy Weisman’s KTBA Records.

1. Take It Back (feat. Joe Bonamassa)
2. Hey Diddle Diddle (feat. G.E. Smith)
3. Dancing Girl (feat. Mark Knopfler)
4. If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll (feat. Eric Clapton)
5. There Was A Time (feat. Peter Frampton)
6. Cryin’ Shame (feat. Sonny Landreth)
7. The Night Is Young (feat. Joe Menza and Wayne Hood)
8. That’s What The Doctor Said (feat. Steve Conn)
9. My Stomping Ground (feat. Billy F Gibbons)
10. Angel In the Alleyways (feat. Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen)
11. I’ve Got To Get To You (feat. Boz Scaggs, Joe Menza and Mike Menza)
12. Red House (feat. Keb’ Mo’)
13. I Got My Eyes On You Baby (feat. Marcia Ball and Jimmy Vivino)
14. I’ve Been Watching (feat. Rickie Lee Jones and Wayne Hood)

This quite stunning blues-rock album from the 82 year old opens on the authoritative Take It Back (featuring Joe Bonamassa) and the foot-tapping Hey Diddle Diddle (featuring G.E. Smith - who was also the lead guitarist for Hall & Oates during the band’s heyday), and then comes the unmistakable guitar work from Dire Strait’s Mark Knopfler on the low slung Dancing Girl, the aching blues of If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll (featuring Eric Clapton), the gossamer balladry of There Was A Time (featuring Peter Frampton), and then comes the gritty Cryin’ Shame (featuring the slide guitar work of Sonny Landreth) and the joyous ebb and flow of The Night Is Young (featuring both Joe Menza and Wayne Hood).

Next up is the ’60s blues-soul of That’s What The Doctor Said (featuring Steve Conn) and the grounded My Stomping Ground (featuring Billy F Gibbons) which are in turn followed by the simply magnificent mid-tempo melodies of Angel In the Alleyways (featuring both Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen), the joyously fun I’ve Got To Get To You (featuring Boz Scaggs, Joe Menza and Mike Menza), the album rounding out on the forthright Down South blues of Red House (featuring five-time Grammy Award winner Keb’ Mo’), the tinkling ivory work of both Marcia Ball and Jimmy Vivino on I Got My Eyes On You Baby, coming to a righteous close on the dulcet rhythms crafted within I’ve Been Watching (featuring Rickie Lee Jones and Wayne Hood).

Most of the album’s songs were written by Dion and his songwriting partner Mike Aquilina. Guest artists appearing on tracks with Dion include Boz Scaggs, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen, Billy F Gibbons, Keb’ Mo’, Sonny Landreth, Joe Menza, Mike Menza, Marcia Ball, Jimmy Vivino, Rickie Lee Jones, Wayne Hood, Joe Bonamassa and G.E. Smith with Pete Townshend’s liner notes which Dion characterizes as “amazing.”

The album’s voluminous notes include an intro by Dion that succinctly summarizes the philosophy behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s latest recorded endeavor:

“When I was young, I was always striving for accolades and admiration. Those were my goals. But when I reached them, they didn’t satisfy. I discovered joy when I leaned to stop caring about all that – when I learned to relax and make music with friends… music that would make more friends for us through its joy.”

“To make music with friends, and to make friends through music: I can’t imagine a better life than this. I am grateful to my friends who made Stomping Ground with me – and my new friends who are listening.”

The album will be available digitally as well as on CD and as a two LP set.

Official Purchase Link

Dion - Take It Back [Order and Stream The Song]

Dion - Take It Back [Official Music Video]

Dion - Cryin’ Shame (feat. Sonny Landreth) [Official Music Video]

Dion @ Facebook

Dion @ YouTube

Dion @ Twitter

Dion @ Instagram

Title - Mother Afrika
Artist - Roberto Zanetti Quartet

For those unaware, jazz pianist and composer Roberto Zanetti pays homage to Africa with a new record that wishes to return to the origins of African-American music.

With Mother Afrika (out now), the main aim is to revel in the spontaneity of this genre: the pieces on the record, all originals by Roberto Zanetti, are linear, simple and fresh, both rhythmically and thematically, just like in the ancient times.

The record also sings the praises of important African-American women, such as Wilma Rudolph and her strength, the bold Rosa Parks, Katherine Johnson with her incredible ingenuity and Nina Simone.

Roberto Zanetti is joined by Massimo Chiarella at the drums, Luca Pisani with his double-bass and Valerio Pontrandolfo and his sax – with a contribution by the actor Nicolò Sordo, reciting voice.

1. Mother Afrika (Intro)
2. Bud’s Power
3. Black Boy
4. Ballad for Afrika
5. Wilma Rudolph (A Black Gazelle)
6. Jungle Mood
7. Rosa Parks
8. Great Nina
9. Katherine Johnson
10. La Concha
11. Avalon Blues
12. Mother Afrika (Ending) [Explicit]

This quite breathtakingly translucent new album opens on the beautiful gossamer balladry of the traditional title track Mother Afrika (Intro) and then seamlessly follows that with gently fervent, flirtatious Bud’s Power, the harmonious swing of Black Boy, the stoically charged Ballad for Afrika, the finger-snapping rhythms of Wilma Rudolph (A Black Gazelle) and then comes the aptly-named Jungle Mood.

Up next is one of my own personal favorites on this wonderfully impassioned new album, the free flowing majestic harmonies found within Rosa Parks and that is in turn followed by the ambient Great Nina, the fun and perky rhythms of Katherine Johnson, the album rounding out on the gently fervent pairing of the upright bass-led La Concha and the sax-led Avalon Blues, the album coming to a close on an aching Mother Afrika (Ending).

Roberto Zanetti Jazz @ YouTube

Comar23 @ Facebook

Mother Afrika (Intro) - Official Music Video

Title - Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train
Artist - Paul Kelly

For those unaware, as he gathered the material for his first Christmas album, Paul Kelly soon realized that a collection of 10 seasonal standards could never cover the richness he wanted to convey.

He knew he wanted to make a record that drew out all the emotions and layers of the Christmas story, and in a way that reflected the holiday experience in the southern hemisphere, far removed from the snowy imagery of so many Christmas songs.

The result is an extraordinary 22-song double album that travels across the centuries, from a Latin hymn to well-known carols, from a traditional Irish folk ballad to songs with an unmistakable local flavor, and a sparkling new version of one of the greatest Australian Christmas songs of them all, Kelly’s own How to Make Gravy, scheduled for November 19th, 2021 release on Gawd Aggie / Cooking Vinyl.

1. Nativity
2. Silent Night
3. Swing Around the Sun
4. Christmas
5. Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)
6. Little Drummer Boy
7. Arthur McBride
8. The Virgin Mary Had One Son
9. Tapu Te P? (O Holy Night)
10. Shalom Aleichem
11. The Oxen
12. The Friendly Beasts
13. Three Drovers
14. Christmas Must Be Tonight
15. Surah Maryam
16. Coventry Carol
17. In the Hot Sun of a Christmas Day
18. How to Make Gravy
19. Christmas Train
20. Come Thou Font of Every Blessing
21. Intonent Hodie
22. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

This genuinely heartfelt and wholly authentic new holiday album opens on the gentle balladry of Nativity and the lush orchestrations of Silent Night (also featuring Alice Keath and Sime Nugent) and backs those up with the tongue-in-cheek Swing Around the Sun, the jangling guitar of Christmas, the joyous Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) (featuring the Motown-esque vocals of Linda Bull), the effective Little Drummer Boy and then both the mid-tempo storytelling of Arthur McBride and the somber, low slung vocals of Emma Donovan on The Virgin Mary Had One Son.

Up next is the simply divine harmonizing of Tapu Te P? (O Holy Night), and of which also features The Dhungala Children’s Choir and the angelistically harmonized Shalom Aleichem (featuring Lior, Alice Keath and Emily Lubitz) and they are followed by the gentle fare of The Oxen, the spiritual sing-along with both Kasey Chambers and Dan Kelly on The Friendly Beasts, the sweet harmonies of Three Drovers (featuring Alice Keath and Sime Nugent), and then we get the gentle rocker Christmas Must Be Tonight and the atmospheric, relatively spoken word Surah Maryam (featuring Waleed Aly).

Along next are the harmonious vocalizations of Kate Miller-Heidke, Jess Hitchcock, Alice Keath and Marlon Williams brought forth within Coventry Carol and the rhythmic In the Hot Sun of a Christmas Day, more jangling guitar work on the single How to Make Gravy, the rockingly raucous Christmas Train (featuring the forthright vocals of Vika Bull), the album rounding out on the quieter tale of Come Thou Font of Every Blessing and the acoustic guitar work of Intonent Hodie (featuring the ethereal vocals of Alice Keath), coming to a righteous close on some more acoustic guitar gossamer within What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (featuring the velvety vocals of Alma Zygier).

“I’ve always been interested in Christmas songs and the variety of them,” Kelly says. “There is a double-edged sword to Christmas music because every year it is everywhere, pumped to you in supermarkets and malls. There is a lot of schlock attached but on the other hand there are so many great Christmas songs and so much to explore.”

“I’ve chosen songs I love, which led me often to wander off the well-worn path, then chosen singers I thought best suited to them.”

The sacred and the secular, the ancient and modern, are all carefully woven into a collection destined to become a part of Christmases around the globe for many years to come.

It is delivered by Kelly and his band with a big cast of Christmas helpers including vocalists Vika and Linda Bull, Marlon Williams, Kasey Chambers and Emma Donovan, along with contributions from the Kelly clan: nephew and bandmate Dan, siblings Mary-Jo and Tony, and Paul’s daughters Maddy and Memphis.

Christmas was a big part of Kelly’s upbringing in a large Catholic family in Adelaide. “We had Advent, the month-long build-up to Christmas. There was a small crib in one of the fireplaces with a pile of straw beside it. Every time you did something good or denied yourself something you would secretly put straw in the crib so it would be filled by Christmas, when a statuette of the baby Jesus would miraculously appear in the crib.”

“The statues of the Three Wise Men started a long way off in another part of the house, secretly moving every night along mantelpieces so they would arrive at the crib for the Epiphany on January 6. That was all part of Christmas for us. It was fun and mysterious and had that magic about it.”

For the Kelly clan singing is always part of the season, especially on Gravy Day (December 21), “Sometimes we do it all together, sometimes the Queensland gang do it separately from the Melbourne gang, and we have the tradition of singing carols on Christmas Eve, not very reverentially.”

Official Purchase Links

Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train - Album Trailer

Paul Kelly @ Facebook

Paul Kelly @ YouTube

Paul Kelly @ Twitter

Paul Kelly @ Instagram

Paul Kelly @ Spotify

Title - Chelsea Walls [Original Music Soundtrack]
Artist - Jeff Tweedy

For those unaware, the same year of his Oscar®-nominated performance in Training Day, Ethan Hawke made his full-length film directorial debut with Chelsea Walls, starring Kris Kristofferson, Uma Thurman, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Robert Sean Leonard. Around this time, Tweedy had collaborated with musician and producer Jim O’Rourke (Sonic Youth, Stereolab) for a special live performance. As fate would have it, O’Rourke had been working with Glenn Kotche, and O’Rourke introducing Tweedy to Kotche would lay the groundwork for the trio’s work together on the debut album by their band, Loose Fur. Wilco was in the process of a creative sea change, the result of which would be the modern-day masterpiece, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Kotche joined Wilco and O’Rourke mixed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

The soundtrack to Chelsea Walls featured improvised instrumentals by Tweedy and Kotche, as well as vocal performances by Leonard (whom Hawke met when they both worked on the film Dead Poet’s Society), Steve Zahn (Reality Bites, That Thing You Do!), jazz legend “Little” Jimmy Scott, plus contributions from Billy Bragg, and Wilco themselves.

1. Opening Titles - (Jeff Tweedy & Glenn Kotche)
2. Red Elevator - (Jeff Tweedy & Glenn Kotche)
3. Promising - (Wilco)
4. Frank’s Dream - (Jeff Tweedy & Glenn Kotche
5. When The Roses Bloom Again - (Billy Bragg & Wilco)
6. Jealous Guy - (Jimmy Scott)
7. The Wallman - (Jeff Tweedy & Glenn Kotche)
8. The Lonely 1 - (Robert Sean Leonard & Steve Zahn)
9. Hello, Are You There? - (Jeff Tweedy & Glenn Kotche)
10. Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling - (Robert Sean Leonard)
11. Finale - (Jeff Tweedy & Glenn Kotche)
12. End Credits - (Jeff Tweedy & Glenn Kotche)
13. Finale (Extended) [Bonus Track] - (Jeff Tweedy & Glenn Kotche)
14. Promising [Bonus Track] - (Robert Sean Leonard)

This captivating soundtrack opens on the eerie, guitar jangling, ebb and flow of Opening Titles and then gives more of the same, albeit on a layered beat for the pulsating Red Elevator before launching into lonesome, countrified ode Promising (Wilco), the ornately sculptured Frank’s Dream, the gentle hipsway of When The Roses Bloom Again (Billy Bragg & Wilco), and then comes Jimmy Scott’s quietly tapered rendition of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy and the sterner fare of The Wallman.

Next up on this deliciously atmospheric album is The Lonely 1 (Robert Sean Leonard & Steve Zahn) and the delicate, harmonica-driven Hello, Are You There? and they are in turn followed by the aptly-titled Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling (Robert Sean Leonard), the album soundtrack rounding out on the crystalline Finale, the troubadour-esque vibe of the End Credits, now coming to a close on Finale (Extended) and the remote flashback storytelling of Promising from Robert Sean Leonard.

Two decades later, this influential soundtrack returns, not only with two previously unissued bonus tracks, but for the first time as a double-vinyl LP, including an online exclusive colored vinyl variant.

Bonus tracks include Leonard’s performance of Wilco’s Promising previously only available in the film, and an extended version of Tweedy and Kotche’s Finale.

The packaging contains new photos, new and original liners from Hawke, a remembrance from Kotche, and an interview between Tweedy and Grammy®-winning set producer Cheryl Pawelski.

Street date for this set is January 14th, 2022 on Omnivore Recordings.

Chelsea Walls is a pivotal piece in the creative development of Tweedy and Wilco as they became one of the most important bands of our time.

Critically, it revisits the creative burst that would lead to one of the first true rock masterpieces of the 21st century in Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Official Purchase Link

Chelsea Walls - Official Album Trailer

Title - Ghost Stories
Artist - The Whitmore Sisters

For those unaware, The Whitmore Sisters will be releasing their new album Ghost Stories via Red House / Compass on January 21st, 2022.

Austin-based younger sister Bonnie is an accomplished solo artist as well as sidewoman. She has played bass and sung with some of the biggest artists in the Americana genre: Hayes Carll, John Moreland, Eliza Gilkyson, Sunny Sweeney, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock, to name a few.

Los Angeles-based older sister Eleanor is half of the duo The Mastersons with her husband Chris, who produced this album and dubbed it capturing blood harmony in a pandemic, saying they worked in a Daniel Lanois type way, leaving the house in LA as little as possible.

Eleanor and Chris worked with Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings in the tracking band on the multi-grammy award winning album, While I’m Livin’ by Tanya Tucker.

The duo have also been members of Steve Earle and The Dukes since 2010 and recorded on all his records including, The Low Highway (2013).

1. Learn To Fly
2. The Ballad Of Sissy & Porter
3. Friends We Leave Behind
4. Hurtin’ For A Letdown
5. Superficial World Of Love
6. Big Heart Sick Mind
7. Ghost Stories
8. Ricky
9. By Design
10. On The Wings Of A Nightingale
11. Greek Tragedy

This stunning album, which falls under the Americana umbrella, but which will obviously appeal to anyone who is a fan of gorgeous vocals and indelible choruses, opens on the silken Learn To Fly and the positively joyous The Ballad Of Sissy & Porter and backs those up with the more somber-layered melodies of Friends We Leave Behind, the lush dancefloor swirl of Hurtin’ For A Letdown and then comes the balladry gossamer of Superficial World Of Love.

Next up is their playfully rambunctious rendition of Aaron Lee Tasjan’s Big Heart Sick Mind and the ornately sculptured title track Ghost Stories and backs those up seamlessly with the foot-tapping hipsway of Ricky, the quieter ballad By Design, the album rounding out on the harmoniously beautiful On The Wings Of A Nightingale (which was actually written by Paul McCartney for The Everly Brothers), coming to a close on the soaringly majestic Greek Tragedy.

Official Album Purchase Link

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Title - Love for Sailin’ Over Seas: Then & Now
Artist - Dee Bell

For those unaware, Dee Bell’s upcoming new album Love for Sailin’ Over Seas | Then & Now was actually intended as a 2-song digital release of Abbey Lincoln’s I Got Thunder [And It Rings], and Al Dubin and Harry Warren’s I’ll String Along with You.

Instead, favorites from the last three Bell CDs were remastered and added to make a full CD to compliment this Now side of the release.

Indeed, Abbey’s lyrics “I’ve got love for climbin’ mountains, love for sailin’ over seas” informed the title, whereas Then & Now speaks for itself.

Furthermore, Marcos Silva has written some quite brilliant arrangements based on Dee’s ideas, and assembled a crew of Brazilian music experts, including Romero Lubambo for the special guitar arrangements.

Romero gave these two new recordings his ultimate joy, perfection, and mastery, and provided an inspirational thrill for all, of that you can be well assured.

1. I Got Thunder (And It Rings)
2. I’ll String Along with You
3. Harvest Moon
4. Beijo Partido (Broken Kiss)
5. You’re My Thrill
6. By Chance [Acaso]
7. Boa Nova
8. You Can’t Go Home Again
9. Watch What Happens
10. The Face I Love

This quite opulently beautiful new album opens on the joyous I Got Thunder (And It Rings) and the dulcetly adorned I’ll String Along with You and backs those up seamlessly with the funky Harvest Moon, the gentle rhythms of Beijo Partido (Broken Kiss) and then comes the mid-tempo hipsway of You’re My Thrill.

Next up is the laid back By Chance [Acaso] and the pleasing dancefloor swirl of Boa Nova, which are in turn followed by the exuberantly rich You Can’t Go Home Again, the album rounding out on the flourish of Watch What Happens, coming to a close on the flirtatious melodies and rhythms of The Face I Love.

A dusky vocalist whose warm sound evokes the breezy sophistication of 1950s West Coast jazz, Dee Bell first came to the public’s attention with her 1982 debut, Let There Be Love, featuring legendary saxophonist Stan Getz.

A regular presence in the Bay Area, Bell spent several years away from performing before returning to consistent work in the 2010s.

In 2014, she debuted her ongoing collaboration with Brazilian pianist Marcos Silva on Silva Bell Elation.

Amazon Album Purchase Link

Dee Bell @ Facebook

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Title - My Ship: Songs From 1941
Artist - Dawn Derow

For those unaware, singer Dawn Derow’s debut Zoho Music album My Ship: Songs From 1941 is a tribute to that year’s most iconic performers, such as Glenn Miller, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, and a tender Frank Sinatra.

World War II seems so far behind us. But in her acclaimed cabaret show, My Ship: Songs from 1941, and in this album of its music, Dawn Derow - a smart, sexy, expressive, and vocally polished woman of today - evokes that year as vividly as if it were happening now.

Simply put, you’ll be plunged into a time of massive upheaval and all its colliding emotions - the wistfulness, the loss, the giddy escapism that music could bring.

1. Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)
2. Let’s Get Away From It All / How About You
3. Skylark
4. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy / Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree / Hut Sut Song
5. Why Don’t We Do This More Often?
6. Chattanooga Choo Choo
7. Just Squeeze Me (But Please Don’t Tease Me) / I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)
8. Blues in the Night
9. Baby Mine (from Dumbo)
10. The Saga of Jenny (from Lady in the Dark)
11. My Ship (from Lady in the Dark)
12. At Last
13. White Christmas
14. (There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover

Rolling the clock back 80 years to when music was a force that carried us through anything and everything, this vibrantly alluring new album opens on the torchy yearning of Billie Holiday on the dulcet Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?) and backs that up with Let’s Get Away From It All / How About You (featuring Aaron Heick on clarinet, a double-sided hit for Tommy Dorsey and his legendary flock of singers: Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, and her fellow Pied Pipers).

Up next is the tender lullaby Skylark (Dinah Shore) and then a spectacularly rousing, sassy swing medley of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy / Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree / Hut Sut Song and they are in turn backed by the low slung Why Don’t We Do This More Often? (from bandleader Kay Kyser and his two wholesome songbirds, Ginny Simms and Harry Babbitt), the come-hither invitation of Chattanooga Choo Choo (Glenn Miller and His Orchestra) and then comes the laid back medley of Just Squeeze Me (But Please Don’t Tease Me) / I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good).

Next up is yet another track from the Great American Songbook, the sultry story that showcases the wrath of a woman spurned in Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen’s Blues in the Night (and which was all over the 1941 charts in five hit versions), and then the lesser heard Baby Mine (from 1941’s Dumbo, which features music by Frank Churchill and lyrics by Ned Washington) and they are in turn followed by melodic rhythms of The Saga of Jenny (from Lady in the Dark), the mellifluous title track My Ship (also from Lady in the Dark), a quite euphoric rendition of Etta James’ classic At Last, the album rounding out on a festive White Christmas (which starts off unique, but soon slides into the traditional lyrical fare), coming to a close on the Derow’s own take on Vera Lynn’s 1942 classic (There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover.

Directed by the acclaimed cabaret singer Jeff Harnar, My Ship, which premiered in 2017, earned MAC Awards (from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) for both her and Harnar.

Amazon Album Purchase Link

Dawn Derow @ Facebook

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Title - Bad Blood: The Mayan Albums (2002–2005) [4CD]
Artist - Ministry

For those unaware, Ministry was formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1981, by singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Al Jourgensen, releasing their debut With Sympathy in 1983.

By the end of the 1980s Ministry had morphed from their original synth-pop sound to become pioneers of industrial metal.

On January 7th, 2022, Ministry will bring us Bad Blood: The Mayan Albums (2002–2005), a whopping 4CD set via HNE Recordings (Cherry Red Records UK) and which contains four classic albums from Ministry’s time at Sanctuary imprint Mayan (for all fans of Nine Inch Nails and White Zombie).

CD 1: Sphinctour (2002)
1. Psalm 69 (Live at Elysee Montmarte, Paris)
2. Crumbs (Live at Congresscenter, Stuttgart)
3. Reload (Live at Convention Center, Albuquerque)
4. Filth Pig (Live at The Varsity Arena, Toronto)
5. Just 1 Fix (Live at Aragon #2, Chicago)
6. N.W.O. (Live at The Palladium #1, Los Angeles)
7. Hero (Live at Gaswerk, Hamburg)
8. Thieves (Live at Mercer Arena, Seattle)
9. Scarecrow (Live at Jesolo Beach Festival, Venice)
10. Lava (Live at Dour Festival, Brussels)
11. The Fall (Live at Brixton Academy, London)

Disc One is 2002’s Sphinctour captured their live sound across a series of dates on their 1996 tour to support the Filth Pig album; recorded straight to DAT tape from the mixing desk, without any further mixing or studio trickery.

Al Jourgensen was joined on this tour by long-time Ministry collaborator Paul Barker on bass, Reynolds Washam on drums, Duane Buford on keyboards, Zlatko Hukic on guitar and Louis Svitek on guitar.

The 11-track live album includes Psalm 69 from the Elysée Montmartre in Paris, Just One Fix taken from the famed Aragon Ballroom in their hometown of Chicago and NWO at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles.

In truth, I don’t really get why this recording stayed unreleased for so many years before it finally saw the light of day a few years back, because for as good as it is, there was nothing special about it to warrant such a darkened existence thereafter.

For me it perfectly captures a highly energetic Ministry set in 1996 on the Filth Pig tour. Obviously half of the playlist is Filth Pig and the other half is Psalm 69, but the show also includes the old staple Thieves.

Highlights here include the final three of the night re: Lava, The Fall and the brilliant Scarecrow (and three long ones at that), but it’s the hits such as N.W.O., Hero, Psalm 69 and Just One Fix that truly get to the musical heart of the matter.

I am not too sure why they decided to leave off the set-list their überhit Jesus Built My Hotrod, especially given that it is their signature cut, but nonetheless, all the songs are played as raging beasts, with the samples, vocals and guitars doing their job brilliantly at all times.

CD 2: Animositisomina (2003)
1. Animosity
2. Unsung
3. Piss
4. Lockbox
5. Broken
6. The Light Pours Out Of Me
7. Shove
8. Impossible
9. Stolen
10. Leper

The second disc is Animositisomina from 2003 AND WHICH was their eighth studio record, and first studio set for Sanctuary/Mayan, and features nine original tracks, plus a cover of Magazine’s The Light Pours Out of Me and was the last album to feature Paul Barker.

Whenever a notoriously drug-infested musician cleans up, it’s worth listening to the before-and-after output for comparative value. Ergo, Animositisomina was the first recording of Jourgensen’s since his public proclamations of being sober at that time.

And thankfully, for the most part, back in the studio with local partner in grime Paul Barker, Ministry wields its dirty thunder like the days of yore.

I say for the most part, as the familiar chain-drive sound crunches through the first of 10 tracks, but that may be all that’s intact. Gone are the voiceovers and samples à la N.W.O. and Just One Fix that defined Ministry’s once-groundbreaking industrial core and without a hint of the brilliance of Jesus Built My Hotrod.

Animosity kick-starts the album with traditional Ministry roar, but undistinguished songs such as Stolen, Piss, and Unsung are little more than variations on a theme that tires quickly.

CD 3: Houses Of The Molé (2004)
1. No “W”
2. Waiting
3. Worthless
4. Wrong
5. Warp City
6. WTV
7. World
10. Psalm 23
11. Walrus

The third disc here is actually their ninth album overall, Houses Of The Molé which saw the band move away from a purely industrial sound to a more thrash metal style. Anti-George Bush in theme, Ministry mainstay Jourgensen saw it “as something of a rebirth”, being the first for some years to not feature Paul Barker.

The scene back then was a bombed-out wasteland. Emerging from the soup-heavy smoke was the oversized head of George Bush and Jourgensen, for one, had not forgotten 1992’s N.W.O. with its scathing satire and molten riffage.

So it this time returned as No “W”, a send-up of the infamous choir-piece from Carmina Burana, and which perfectly kicks off Houses of the Molé, the new Psalm 69. Sure it was the same game for Jourgensen and local stickman Max Brody, but nobody plays it better (especially given the departure of longtime Austinite/bassist Paul Barker.

In my humble opinion, Houses of the Molé is signed, sealed, and delivered so powerfully that one can overlook the fact that it’s basically Psalm 69 or The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste Part II!

I mean, come on now, Waiting is a dead ringer for Thieves, at the very least, well, that is until the Jesus Built My Hotrod riff erupts!

Worthless (eight out of nine songs start with W) has the same rat-a-tat rhythm, wailing guitars, and apocalyptic samples as Just One Fix, which is actually not a problem, because when it’s delivered this effectively, Ministry can be every bit as riot-inducing as they were during the Wax Trax!

CD 4: Rantology (2005)
1. No “W” (Redux)
2. The Great Satan
3. Wrong (Update Mix)
4. NWO (Update Mix)
5. Stigmata (Update Mix)
6. Waiting
7. Warp City (Alternate Mix)
8. Jesus Built My Hotrod (Update Mix)
9. Bad Blood (Alternate Mix)
10. Animosity
11. Unsung (Alternate Mix)
12. Bloodlines
13. Psalm 69 (Live at Elysee Montmarte, Paris)
14. Thieves (Live at Mercer Arena, Seattle)
15. The Fall (Live at Brixton Academy, London)

The fourth disc is the band’s final release for the label, 2005’s remix compilation Rantology which included one new track, The Great Satan, which is joined by unique updated mixes of Ministry classics N.O.W., Stigmata and Jesus Built My Hotrod, featuring the Butthole Surfer’s Gibby Haynes.

As aforementioned, Rantology features an updated version of N.W.O. in which voice clips from George W. Bush are added along with the original voices of his father George Bush Sr. (who was president at the time of the original recording).

Personally, I really didn’t notice all that much difference in the (apparently) remixed classic Jesus Built My Hotrod other than the new introduction provided by Butthole Surfers front man Gibby Haynes.

The track Unsung (originally from Animositisomium) has bagpipes and other sound effects added as well as other sound effects and some different vocals that act as interpretations of the events of 9/11.

Bloodlines is taken from a track that Jourgensen did for the video game Vampire: The Bloodlines and really sounds a lot like the track So What from A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste.

For No “W” (Redux) (a re-working of a track from Houses Of The Molé), a new operatic aria featuring Martha Cooper is added to the intro and for the track Stigmata, this one gets a total re-working with all new vocals and some new guitar tracks as well as a remixing of the existing ones.

For the live tracks, we get three songs that were recorded during the 2002 Sphinctour with Thieves Live In Seattle, Psalm 69 and The Fall. Finally, we get Al’s new scathing attack against George W in The Great Satan, in which he labels him as the man who will likely be responsible for the fall of mankind!

Official 4CD Purchase Link

Title - Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top
Artist - Jarvis Cocker (& Friends)

For those unaware, ABKCO Records will, of course, also release the original soundtrack to The French Dispatch, the new Wes Anderson film with an ensemble cast that includes Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Christoph Waltz, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and Anjelica Huston.

With an original score by Academy Award™ winning composer Alexandre Desplat, the film’s original soundtrack will be released on CD and all digital platforms in conjunction with the Searchlight Pictures theatrical release of the film on October 22, 2021. The 2xLP vinyl edition will follow in early 2022.

However, along with Desplat’s gorgeous score, the album also features Jarvis Cocker’s impassioned cover of the French pop hit Aline, originally written and recorded by French pop icon Christophe.

Thus expanding on the universe of The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson and Jarvis Cocker decided to collaborate on an entire album of French material from the same period entitled Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top – containing songs associated with artists like Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot and Jacques Dutronc.

This unique companion album has musical backing provided by JAR VIS... plus Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab) featured on the duet Paroles, Paroles (the pre-order of Limited Super Deluxe Set from ABKCO contains the vinyl album, a double-sided poster and a limited edition 45 of Aline b/w Paroles, Paroles).

1. Dans Ma Chambre (written by Pedro Espinoza Prieto, originally performed by Dalida)
2. Contact (written by Serge Gainsbourg, originally performed by Brigitte Bardot)
3. La Tendresse (written by Hubert Yves Adrien Giraud, Noel Roux, originally performed by Marie LaFôret)
4. Amour, Je Te Cherche (written by Nino Ferrer, originally performed by Nino Ferrer & Radiah)
5. Les Gens Sont Fous, Les Temps Sont Flous (written by Jacques Lanzmann, Jacques Dutronc, originally performed by Jacques Dutronc)
6. Il Pleut Sur La Gare (written by Areski Belkacem, Brigitte Fontaine, originally performed by Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem)
7. Paroles, Paroles (written by Matteo Chiosso, Giancarlo Del Re, Giovanni Ferrio, originally performed by Dalida & Alain Delon)
8. Requiem Pour Un Con (written by Serge Gainsbourg, Michel Jean Piette Colombier, originally performed by Serge Gainsbourg in the film Le Pacha)
9. Mon Ami La Rose (written by Cécille Caulier, Jacques Lacome D’Estalenx, originally performed by Françoise Hardy)
10. Mao Mao (written by Gérard Guégan, Gérard Hugé, originally performed by Claude Channes in the film La Chinoise )
11. Elle Et Moi (written by Pascal Jean Michel Valadon, Aaron Gilbert, Alex Payne, Jean Pierre Cerrone, originally performed by Max Berlin)
12. Aline (written by Daniel Georges Jacq Bevilacqua, originally performed by Christophe)

The first track out the gate of this highly-anticipated new album (whose title translates to Boredom Songs by Tip-Top; which is Jarvis Cocker’s character piece, so to speak) is the swarthy, royal elegance of Dans Ma Chambre (featuring Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor organ) and the gently perky, freshly crisp, theatrical and space-themed Contact (which also features Bishi Bhattacharya on sitar) and they are followed by the emotively heartfelt La Tendresse, the seductively orchestrated Amour, Je Te Cherche, and then comes the early ‘70s-imbed, jangled rock of Les Gens Sont Fous, Les Temps Sont Flous and the rhythmically melodious Il Pleut Sur La Gare.

Next up is the luxurious warmth of the duet with Lætitia Sadier (founding member of the London-based avant-pop band Stereolab) on Paroles, Paroles and then the gently rambunctious Requiem Pour Un Con, which are in turn backed by the romantic luring found within Mon Ami La Rose, the finger-snapping, toe-tapping, psychedelic rhythms of Mao Mao (which also features Anna McKinney on vocals), the album closing on the sophisticated, funky hipsway of Elle Et Moi and the tantalizingly majestical, lavishly bombastic Aline.

The French Dispatch revolves around a fictitious expatriate magazine that tells three stories published in this legendary journal. It celebrates writers and the thrill of great storytelling. Music plays a key and distinct role in each of the “chapters” of the film. Renown pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is featured in the film’s score and contributes a series of stunning solos on the recordings.

  ABKCO will offer a Super Deluxe Set containing the Double-LP of The French Dispatch (Original Soundtrack), a Limited Edition set of The French Dispatch Art Cards, a double-sided poster and for the first fans to order, a printed copy of The French Dispatch Magazine.

Official ABKCO Purchase Link

Official Listen and Pre-Order Aline Pre-Order Purchase Links

Official Pre-Order Purchase Links for French Dispatch

Official Listen and Pre-Order Animated Car Chase Pre-Order Purchase Links

Title - The French Dispatch [Original Soundtrack]
Artist - Various

For those unaware, ABKCO Records will, of course, also release the original soundtrack to The French Dispatch, the new Wes Anderson film with an ensemble cast that includes Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Christoph Waltz, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and Anjelica Huston.

With an original score by Academy Award™ winning composer Alexandre Desplat, the film’s original soundtrack will be released on CD and all digital platforms in conjunction with the Searchlight Pictures theatrical release of the film on October 22, 2021. The 2xLP vinyl edition will follow in early 2022.

Entwinned within the original score by Desplat, the Franco-centric soundtrack also features music from Georges Delerue, Grace Jones andCharles Aznavour, and a new version of the French pop hit Aline recorded by Jarvis Cocker.

1. Obituary - Alexandre Desplat
2. After You’ve Gone (from Sadie McKee)- Gene Austin with Candy and Coco
3. Simone, Naked, Cell Block J. Hobby Room - Alexandre Desplat
4. Fiasco - Gus Viseur
5. Moses Rosenthaler – Alexandre Desplat
6. I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) - Grace Jones
7. Mouthwash de Menthe – Alexandre Desplat
8. Sonata For Mandolin and Guitar A-Dur, K. 331 Andante Grazioso con Variation VI. Variation 5 - Adagio – Boris Björn Bagger and Detlef Tewes 9. Cadazio Uncles and Nephew Gallery – Alexandre Desplat
10. Inseguimento al Taxi (The Chase) (from Scent of Mystery) – Mario Nascimbene
11. The Berensen Lectures at the Clampette Collection – Alexandre Desplat
12. L’Ultima Volta (from I Malamondo) – Ennio Morricone
13. Tu m’as trop menti – Chantal Goya
14. J’en déduis que je t’aime - Charles Aznavour
15. Fugue No.2 in C minor (The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, BWV 871) - The Swingle Singers
16. Adagio (from Comptes à rebours) – Georges Delerue
17. Police Cooking – Alexandre Desplat 18. The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner – Alexandre Desplat 19. Kidnappers Lair – Alexandre Desplat 20. A Multi-Pronged Battle Plan – Alexandre Desplat 21. Blackbird Pie – Alexandre Desplat 22. Commandos, Guerillas, Snipers, Climbers and the Jeroboam – Alexandre Desplat 23. Animated Car Chase – Alexandre Desplat 24. Lt. Nescaffier (Seeking Something Missing...) – Alexandre Desplat 25. Aline – Jarvis Cocker

The soundtrack to this film, which revolves around a fictitious newspaper based in a fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blase, opens on the playfully dainty candor of Obituary (Desplat) and the old-timey 1918 track After You’ve Gone (from Sadie McKee) by Gene Austin with Candy and Coco and follows those up with the ornate key strokes of Simone, Naked, Cell Block J. Hobby Room (Desplat), the 1946 accordion-imbed work of Fiasco (Gus Viseur), and then we get some more key gossamer from Desplat on Moses Rosenthaler.

Next up is Grace Jones’ reworking of Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango from 1981 and Desplat brings us another two minutes of piano brilliance before one of my own personal favorites is brought forth in the shape of the beautifully sculptured, classical elegance of Sonata For Mandolin And Guitar A-Dur K.331, Adagio (Boris Björn Bagger and Detlef Tewes).

Along next is Desplat’s stalkingly dulcet Cadazio Uncles and Nephew Gallery Mario Nascimbene’s stirringly atmospheric Inseguimento al Taxi (The Chase) (from Scent of Mystery) which are in turn backed by a sterner Desplat piece in the form of The Berensen Lectures at the Clampette Collection, the rambunctious L’Ultima Volta (from I Malamondo) by Ennio Morricone, the French-sung exciting wonderment of Tu m’as trop menti (aka You Lied Too Much To Me) from Chantal Goya and the laid back, late summer evening ambiance of Charles Aznavour’s cinematic J’en déduis que je t’aime.

This quite wondrously invigorating soundtrack then continues onward with the uplifting, holiday-inspired Fugue No.2 in C minor (The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, BWV 871) from The Swingle Singers and the gentle dancefloor twirl of Adagio (from Comptes à rebours) by Georges Delerue.

They are all then followed seamlessly by a selection of Alexandre Desplat compositions that run the album out (save for the very last track) and which begin with the gentle rhythmic bounce of both Police Cooking (Desplat) and The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner and continue onward with, well, in truth, much of the same musical fare throughout: Kidnappers Lair, A Multi-Pronged Battle Plan, Blackbird Pie, Commandos, Guerillas, Snipers, Climbers and the Jeroboam, and Animated Car Chase, stopping only for the stillness of Lt. Nescaffier (Seeking Something Missing...), closing on the Jarvis Cocker’s tantalizingly majestical, lavishly bombastic Aline.

The French Dispatch revolves around a fictitious expatriate magazine that tells three stories published in this legendary journal. It celebrates writers and the thrill of great storytelling. Music plays a key and distinct role in each of the “chapters” of the film. Renown pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is featured in the film’s score and contributes a series of stunning solos on the recordings.

  ABKCO will offer a Super Deluxe Set containing the Double-LP of The French Dispatch (Original Soundtrack), a Limited Edition set of The French Dispatch Art Cards, a double-sided poster and for the first fans to order, a printed copy of The French Dispatch Magazine.

Official ABKCO Purchase Link

Official Listen and Pre-Order Aline Pre-Order Purchase Links

Official Pre-Order Purchase Links for French Dispatch

Official Listen and Pre-Order Animated Car Chase Pre-Order Purchase Links

Title - Blue Shift
Artist - In Real Time

For those unaware, pianist and singer Carol Liebowitz brings a uniquely expressive and personal sound to the jazz and free improvisation scene.

After focusing on classical repertoire at the High School of Performing Arts and NYU, her musical direction turned to improvisation and she began studying with Connie Crothers.

Other influential teachers have included Sal Mosca, Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan.

She has also performed in Europe and throughout the New York City metropolitan area in venues such as Roulette, The Stone, Cornelia Street Cafe, IBeam, The Firehouse Space, Arts for Art, Spectrum, Galapagos and Birdland.

The piano/bass/drums trio IN REAL TIME with Adam Lane and Andrew Drury will release their debut recording Blue Shift on Line Art Records in late December.

1. Crosstown (8:15)
2. Curve (11:08)
3. Blue Shift (6:12)
4. Sequoia Moon (8:06)
5. Passacaglia (12:04)

This quite breathtakingly translucent new album opens on the organic growth and liberation of rhythms and melodies found within Crosstown and then the industrially earthy ambiance of the immense Curve, before backing those up with the more serenely sculptured title track Blue Shift, the album rounding out on the statically charged resonance of Sequoia Moon, coming to a righteous close on the beveled, yet free flowing harmonies found within the opus Passacaglia.

Furthermore, Carol also has two releases on the New Artists label: Waves of Blue Intensities, a duo with tenor saxophonist Bob Field, and Time on My Hands, a voice and guitar duo with Andy Fite.

Official Purchase Link

Title - In Light Of [EP]
Artist - Jon Stancer

For those unaware, Toronto-based alt-pop/rock songwriter Jon Stancer announced that his brand new EP, In Light Of, will be released on January 21st, 2022.

The album’s lead track, the tense and moody, These Arms (Won’t Let You Go), features a dynamic instrumental makeup of lulling piano and ambient textures contrasted with rugged beats and richly emotive harmonies.

Stancer’s vocals are tender and nostalgic, pining for the loss of his children’s innocence years as they grow into independent young adults. “I did for you, all I can do,” he sings. “You’ll figure it out.”

The song is the second track Stancer has shared from the forthcoming EP. It follows This Cannot Wait (Until Tomorrow), a “poignant plea to act fast on climate change,” which was released along with a very startling and provocative video, back in August.

1. These Arms (Won’t Let You Go)
2. In Light Of Everything
3. One Six
4. This Cannot Wait (Until Tomorrow)
5. A Few Degrees of Adjustment
6. Scared Off

This quite breathtakingly new EP opens on the translucently emotive, and midway through Beatles-esque These Arms (Won’t Let You Go) and backs that up seamlessly with the airy, effervescent ambiance of the title track In Light Of Everything and then comes the gentle, melodically robust One Six.

Next up is the sonically harmonious This Cannot Wait (Until Tomorrow) and that is in turn followed by the forthright chords and rhythms of A Few Degrees of Adjustment, the EP coming to an all-too-soon close on the translucent pulse of Scared Off.

The past two years have been unsettling for all of us – but for Stancer, the darkness hit particularly close to home: “I personally felt very out of sorts and I could see that others were too. I was privy to breakdowns. A couple of people I knew took their own lives,” he shares.

Stancer has channeled his internal dialogue and reflections on the ever-evolving human condition, into this new, 6-song collection, which delves into the emotional fallout of living in these perilous and trying times.

Mental illness, marital strife, and general disillusionment are all touched upon here, as is the brooding impacts of climate change, and the confusion and chaos of the January 6th attack on the US Capitol.

Stancer writes as the observer-empath, chronicling the carnage and struggles with beautiful tracks that sparkle with artful electronic textures, engaging Brit-pop hooks, conjuring feelings of longing, desperation, fear, and hope.

“The subject matter isn’t rosy, but I think it’s pretty relatable,” Stancer comments. “I wanted to try to convey how I was feeling; what I was sensing and observing during that time, among those near to me and beyond.”

Official EP Purchase Link

Jon Stancer - This Cannot Wait (Until Tomorrow) [Official Music Video]

Jon Stancer - These Arms (Won’t Let You Go) [Official Music Video]

Jon Stancer @ Facebook

Jon Stancer @ Twitter

Jon Stancer @ Instagram

Jon Stancer @ YouTube

Jon Stancer @ Spotify

Title - Ripe: Expanded Edition [2CD]
Artist - Banderas

For those unaware, Banderas were an English female music duo of the early 1990s who were signed to London Records. The band was an offshoot of Jimmy Somerville’s band The Communards and featured two of his female backing musicians: Sally Herbert and shaven-headed singer Caroline Buckley.

The duo are mostly remembered for their hit single This Is Your Life, which peaked at #16 in the UK Singles Chart in March 1991. The track was co-written with songwriter Roger Swallow and contains samples of the song Crack Attack by Grace Jones from her 1989 album Bulletproof Heart. The duo also appeared on BBC One’s Top of The Pops weekly chart show on March 21st, 1991, performing the song.

The duo’s album, Ripe, peaked at #40 in the UK Albums Chart and featured further singles She Sells (#41) and May This Be Your Last Sorrow (which did not chart).

The album features Johnny Marr (The Smiths) on guitar and Bernard Sumner (New Order) guitar and backing vocals, as well as backing vocals on This is Your Life by Jimmy Somerville (Bronski Beat, Communards).

This 2CD deluxe edition - a new release on Cherry Red’s dedicated ‘90s imprint 90/9 (and releasing January 21st, 2022) - features the original ten album tracks and a comprehensive collection of bonus material from the period.

11. BIDE YOUR TIME [Bonus Track]
12. NICE TO KNOW [Bonus Track]
13. SHE SELLS (7”) [Bonus Track]
14. MAY THIS BE YOUR LAST SORROW (7”) [Bonus Track]

* denotes appearing on CD for the first time

CD1 features the album, accompanied by five bonus tracks: the B-sides Bide Your Time and Nice To Know, 7” single versions of She Sells and May This Be Your Last Sorrow plus the extended Slightly Wacky Mix of This Is Your Life.

Admittedly, this 1991 debut release - ok, well, only release - from Banderas had a rather misleading cover image when it was originally released, where two oddly-dressed women sporting Sinéad O’Connor-style crew cuts adorned the cover with the band’s Spanish-sounding name sprawled across the top!

Thus, perhaps Ripe’s failure was due to consumer confusion, such as Is Banderas a Spanish-language punk band or perhaps even a bizarre Sinéad side project?

One listen to the album, however, reveals neither is true. Banderas was actually an ace pop band and its one and only album is addictive ear candy of the highest order, trust me!

The two members (vocalist Buckley and violinist/keyboardist Herbert) receive ample assistance from producer extraordinaire Stephen Hague, but the album’s real star is Buckley, who sings with confidence and clarity.

Her voice soars on the funky, beautifully produced album opener This Is Your Life and the eerie May This Be Your Last Sorrow and whilst Ripe’s remanding eight tunes don’t quite scale the same heights, Buckley’s extraordinary pipes save the material from sinking into mediocrity.

A few lackluster songs drag down the album, but this was a promising debut, and Banderas boasted an incredible vocalist in the aforementioned Buckley, but even with guest appearances from some of the biggest names in British pop (including Jimmy Somerville, guitarist Johnny Marr, and New Order’s Bernard Sumner), the album didn’t perform well in Europe and sank like a stone in the States; and they subsequently never released a sophomore album.

In conclusion, Ripe will almost certainly never be widely heard, and Banderas is forever shunned into pop obscurity, which is a great shame, as this talented act never saw the success it truly deserved.

That all said, perhaps now via those mighty fine people over there at Cherry Red Records (UK) and the new release of this album via a wondrous 2CD Expanded Edition, Ripe will not gain some much deserved public traction (albeit all, perhaps a wee bit too late for them).


* denotes appearing on CD for the first time
+ denotes only previously available on a promotional release

CD2 is crammed full of remixes including six versions of their top 20 hit single This Is Your Life remixed by Heller & Farley and Less Stress, plus three 12” only Italian remixes from Joe T Vannelli and others.

Two Apollo 440 remixes of the band’s second single, She Sells feature, together with an alternative 7” version and Less Stress and Smith & Mighty remixes of May This Be Your Last Sorrow.

The fold-out four-panel digipack expands and reworks the striking original album artwork and includes a booklet with track commentaries written by Sally and Caroline plus an interview conducted by Jimmy Somerville, an old friend of the duo.

This is the definitive collection of the band’s output and celebrates their lasting legacy 30 years on.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - Crown
Artist - Eric Gales

For those unaware, blues legend and guitarist Eric Gales takes his rightful place at the head of the blues-rock table as he releases Crown, his career-defining new album, out January 28th, 2022 via Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group.

Produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, Crown finds Eric opening up like never before, sharing his struggles with substance abuse, his hopes about a new era of sobriety and unbridled creativity, and his personal reflections on racism.

Five years sober, creatively rejuvenated, and sagely insightful, the songs on Crown are delivered with clarity and feature Eric’s personal experiences and hope for positive change.

Simply put, Crown is Eric at his most boldly vulnerable, uncompromisingly political, and unflinchingly confident.

1. Death Of Me
2. The Storm
3. Had To Dip
4. I Want My Crown (feat. Joe Bonamassa)
5. Stand Up
6. Survivor
7. You Don’t Know The Blues
8. Rattlin’ Change
9. Too Close To The Fire
10. Put That Back
11. Take Me Just As I Am (feat. LaDonna Gales)
12. Cupcakin’
13. Let Me Start With This
14. I Found Her
15. My Own Best Friend
16. I Gotta Go

This quite breathtakingly evocative, rhythmically organic and already one of my Top 5 albums of 2022, opens on the vocal statement “My name is Eric Gales ... any questions?” and then flows right into the pounding Death Of Me and the emotive The Storm and then brings us the .30 second instrumental Had To Dip and then comes the simply magnificent first single, I Want My Crown (feat. Joe Bonamassa); which opens with a fanfare of elegant lead guitar virtuosity before slipping into a deliciously funky groove.

This brand of clean and focused guitar work continues onward with the R&B gospel flow of Stand Up and the free flowing blues of Survivor which are in turn backed by the hard hitting storytelling found within You Don’t Know The Blues, the scorching Rattlin’ Change and then the mid-tempo, rocking blues Too Close To The Fire and the foot-tapping Put That Back are brought forth.

Up next is the gentle funk hipsway of Take Me Just As I Am (feat. LaDonna Gales) and the delightfully jaunty Cupcakin’ and they are in turn seamlessly followed by the forthright Let Me Start With This, the Parisian-imbibed, balladry delicacy I Found Her, this vibrantly honest album rounding out on the reflective, lonesome ode My Own Best Friend, coming to a righteous close on the finger-snapping, toe-tapping vibe of the aptly-titled I Gotta Go.

The story behind Crown dates back to the early 1990s when as teenagers Eric and Joe were both hailed as blues wunderkinds and torchbearers. The pair went on to very different lives and careers, but Eric’s full potential was hampered by his substance abuse issues, and in 2009 Eric hit bottom and served jail time at Shelby County Correction Center for possession of drugs and a weapon.

Eric and Joe reconnected in 2019, when Joe invited Eric to play with him onstage at a blues cruise encore performance. It was the first time the guys had played live together onstage in 25 years, and it has since been named one of the most explosive guitar duels ever, amassing over 3 million plays on YouTube.

“There was always a brotherhood with us. When we reconnected, Joe said to me, ‘You’re a badass guitarist; it’s your turn to get your seat at the table to wear your crown’,” Eric recalls.

Shortly after their iconic face-melting jam, Eric approached Joe to produce him. “We cried when we talked about it, he said ‘you have no idea how long I waited for you, now I am going to do my part to lift you where you’re supposed to be.’”

The Crown album journey is exhilarating, and, much like Eric’s life, winds through moments of victory and vulnerability. Along the way, Eric shares his story and his feelings through the majesty of the blues.

He says: “When I play, the core is always the blues, and on this album, we go through a theme park of the blues, exploring all kinds of blues. We visit the carousel, the bumper cars, the water rides, the concession stands, and we all come out with smiles.”

Eric Gales is a blues firebrand. Over 30 years and 18 albums, his passion for the music and his boundless desire to keep it vital has never waned, even when his own light dimmed due to his substance struggles.

Since 1991, the Memphis-born guitarist has blazed a path reinvigorating the blues with a virtuosity and rock swagger that have him being heralded as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix.

He was a child prodigy with bottomless talent and fierce determination, and at just 16 years-old released his debut, The Eric Gales Band, on Elektra Records.

He’s earned high praise by guitarists’ guitarist and household name axe men such as Joe Bonamassa, Carlos Santana, Dave Navarro, and Mark Tremonti.

In addition, he has held his own with some of the greatest guitarists in the world, including Carlos Santana at Woodstock 1994, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson, and a posse of others as a featured guest touring with the Experience Hendrix Tour.

Eric Gales - I Want My Crown (feat. Joe Bonamassa) - Official Music Video

Eric Gales - You Don’t Know The Blues (Official Visualizer)

Official Purchase Links

Official Website

Eric Gales @ Facebook

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Eric Gales @ Instagram

Eric Gales @ YouTube

Title - Me & My Guitar
Artist - Kent Blazy

For those unaware, mega hit songwriter and performer, Kent Blazy, has just released his new album, Me & My Guitar, recorded and mixed by Engineered by Matt Allen at Allentown Studios located in Nashville, TN and mastered by Mayfield Mastering.

Kent Blazy and Josh Martin recorded all guitar and vocals on the project and collaboration of Human Touch Guitars by Jayboy Adams.

“This is the second record I have written and recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown. These songs are an aerial view of what I was watching in the past year and what the possibilities will be in the future. My aim was to create hope, joy and gratitude and of course, fun,” exclaims Kent.

“I am so proud to have co-written Song Man on Kent Blazy’s new record with him. He is a true song man and an inspiration to all dreamers that make the Nashville trek,” shares Cory Batten. “Oh, and he’s now in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.”

1. When This Is All Over
2. Just Another Old Man
3. Nashville Strong
4. Songman
5. Rabbit Hole
6. Me and My Guitar
7. The Human Touch
8. Raindrops
9. The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be
10. The Truth
11. The Night John Lennon Died
12. The Times They Are a Changin’

This quite beautifully evocative, rhythmically emotive album opens on the gently Americana bounce of When This Is All Over and the aching storytelling within Just Another Old Man and backs those up seamlessly with the upbeat and euphoric Nashville Strong, the stillness of the aptly-named Songman and then comes the jaunty, anti-social media cut Rabbit Hole.

Up next is one of my own personal favorites, the gentle ebb and flow of the title track Me and My Guitar and the quietly rhythmic guitar picking skills within Human Touch, the joyous Raindrops, the thoughtful The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be (co-written with Garth Brooks), the album rounding out on the foot-tapping The Truth, the storytelling of a legend on The Night John Lennon Died, coming to a close on a righteous cover of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a Changin’.

After doing the Authentic record with a full band in July 2020, it was fun for Kent to go into the studio with the amazing Josh Martin and do an acoustic record.

Me & My Guitar tells the story of where six strings has led him and where he is still aiming to go. The project is a compliment, companion and continuation to the Authentic recording he released in 2020.

The song Me & My Guitar talks about his guitar feeling like a gift from Merlin, just like King Artur and his sword. Merlin was one of the first songs Kent felt he had written a good song. It came from reading The Once and Future King.

He played it in bands and doing solo gigs, and fans started liking the song and other bands started playing it.

When Kent was playing in Canada with Ian Tyson, he bought one of the first Larrivie guitars which were built in Toronto. Larrivie did not put his name or anything else on the headstock, so a friend of Kent’s in Kentucky suggested his wife put Merlin on the headstock.

It took her three months using Abalone and gold. She never did another one!

Amazon Purchase Links

Official Website

Kent Blazy @ Facebook

Kent Blazy @ Twitter

Title - Together Again
Artist - Jeannie Seely & Jack Greene

For those unaware, during the 1970s Jeannie Seely & Jack Greene were one of the most popular country music duos with their uptown road show that was more Las Vegas than down-home country.

The pair were both enjoying successful solo careers when they began performing duets on the Ernest Tubb TV show.

Jack had been drummer with Tubb’s Texas Troubadours when he was signed to Decca Records and hit paydirt in 1967 with his chart-topping There Goes My Everything.

Jeannie reached number two on the country charts in 1966 with Don’t Touch Me, a soulful country ballad penned by her then-husband Hank Cochran.

In 1969 they merged their respective bands and toured all over the USA with the Green Giants, and also became hugely popular at the Wembley Country Music Festivals, regularly gaining standing ovations and in the mid-1970s were co-hosts of the Festival.

Both signed to Decca Records, their first duet single, Wish I Didn’t Have To Miss You, reached number two on the country charts in early 1970.

This just-released 15-track album entitled Together Again (released to retail and digital music platforms via Country Rewind Records) features both solo and duet recordings that the pair made for transcription discs that the US Military used for recruitment purposes.

They were usually 15-minute programs that were sent out to radio stations with the performers singing their latest hits and extolling how patriotic it would be for young men and women to join the army, air force or navy.

These were usually recorded with either the performers regular band, or occasionally utilizing Nashville’s A-team studio players. They are quite different to the commercial records that were released at the time, as they were recorded live, in one take.

1. Mr. Record Man (Willie Nelson)
2. There Goes My Everything (Dallas Frazier)
3. Our Chain Of Love (Willie Nelson)
4. Don’t Touch Me (Hank Cochran)
5. All The Time (Lonnie Melvin “Mel” Tillis; Wayne P. Walker)
6. Wish I Didn’t Have To Miss You (Dave Kirby; Hank Cochran)
7. Love Takes Care Of Me (Jimmy Peppers)
8. Welcome Home To Nothing (Hank Cochran)
9. Love Is No Excuse (Justin Tubb)
10. Enough To Lie (Jeannie Seely)
11. Please Be My New Love (Hank Cochran)
12. The Great Speckled Bird / It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels Medley (Reverend Guy Smith; J.D. Miller)
13. There’s A Whole Lot About A Woman (A Man Don’t Know) (Bill Eldridge; Gary Stewart; Walter Haynes)
14. Help Me Make It Through The Night (Kris Kristofferson)
15. Sidewalks Of Chicago (Dave Kirby)

This elegant flashback to a time since long past opens on the mid-tempo, twanging hipsway of Mr. Record Man and the lonesome ode within There Goes My Everything and backs those up seamlessly with the quietly rambunctious Our Chain Of Love, the forthright observations within Don’t Touch Me and then come both the joyously uplifting All The Time and the free flowing ride of Wish I Didn’t Have To Miss You.

Next up is the gentle 70’s psych sway of Love Takes Care Of Me and the feisty Welcome Home To Nothing and they are themselves backed by the fiddletastic Love Is No Excuse, the lonesome sway of Enough To Lie, the dulcet old school country tones of Please Be My New Love, one of my own favorites, the upbeat and harmonious The Great Speckled Bird / It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels Medley, the album rounding out with the gentle observational twang of There’s A Whole Lot About A Woman (A Man Don’t Know), coming to c lose on a magnificent rendition of Kris Krisofferson’s Help Me Make It Through The Night and a low key Sidewalks Of Chicago.

“I was thrilled that these recordings were still in existence and that they would be available to the public once again,” said an excited Jeannie Seely when she heard that these long-forgotten tapes had been re-discovered.

“I was so thrilled to hear I would be working with Paul Martin on this project,” Paul Martin is not only one of the nicest guys you could ever know, but he is absolutely brilliant musically.”

“I knew this would be fine-tuned to be the best it could possibly be, and he didn’t disappoint. I’m also proud to call him and his family close personal friends.”

Seely added, “It will always be special to remember the years Jack and I worked together with an incredible group of musicians. We were both excited to carry on the traditions of country music, but also to update our sound and presentation to expand the limits as far as we could. The friendships we formed with each other, and our fans, are treasures.”

“These recordings brought back wonderful memories of that very busy time in my career,” added Seely. “This also reminded me that we really did have a great sound and a great show, as these are the arrangements that we used in our live stage shows.” “It was an honor to work on this particular project,” said Martin. “Jeannie and Jack have always been two of my musical heroes. I am grateful that I have gotten to know them through the years. Growing up working with my parents’ country band in the 70s, I performed many of the songs you will hear on this project with my folks back then.”

“These songs seem so familiar, but they also show just why these two artists are true legends. It always takes a great song, but combined with 2 great singers, you get a timeless piece of art.”

Additionally, for this album, those original recordings have been updated with overdubs of guitars, bass and keyboards by producer Paul Martin and additional background vocals sung by Martin, Nora Lee Allen and Jamie Lee Martin.

The result is a fresh-sounding record from another time, indeed throwback music that’s a nod to both Jeannie and Jack’s best-known songs with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

Country Rewind Records has dedicated itself to bring classic country with this contemporary feel to not only the past country fans but also to the new country listeners.

Official Purchase Links

Title - Stones
Artist - Allie Colleen

For those unaware, singer-songwriter Allie Colleen digitally released her debut album, Stones, in late November last year and it has since fast become one of must-have albums of 2022!

Inclusive of songwriters Kelli Johnson, Kimberly Atwood, Steven McMorran and Jason Matthews, along with both Mitch Rossell and Anthony Mossburg, the album was co-produced by Joe Costa and Ben Watts and was recorded at Allentown Recording Studio in Nashville.

Throughout the album’s 11 tracks are a variety of songs and topics, including Only Oklahoma, which places the Oklahoma native in a position of questioning what her life might be like if she’d have never left home; the seemingly innocent named yet innuendo-filled Pink Lemonade; and the powerful anthem Wildflower, which provides encouragement to embrace one’s uniqueness.

1. Stones (I Don’t Give A)
2. Playin’ House
3. Don’t Give Your Heart To A Cowboy
4. Vagabond Angels
5. Wildflower
6. Only Oklahoma
7. Blame It On The Weather
8. Good As It Gets
9. Well Enough Alone
11. Pink Lemonade

This rather excellent new album opens on the gently rambunctious title track Stones (I Don’t Give A) and the melancholy ache of Playin’ House and back those up with the free flowing melodies of Don’t Give Your Heart To A Cowboy, the rhythmically train-imbibed Vagabond Angels and then the achingly balladry of Wildflower.

Next up is the what-could-have-been hipsway of Only Oklahoma and the throaty COR of Blame It On The Weather which are in turn followed by the lonesome ode within Good As It Gets, the stillness of tone within the ballad Well Enough Alone, the album rounding out on the emphatically soaring Make Me A Man, closing on the twanging guitar work of the raunchy Pink Lemonade.

A country artist from Owasso, Oklahoma, currently residing Nashville, TN, Allie is a graduate from Belmont University with a degree in Songwriting and Music Business and who has been performing since she was 14 years of age and who is also now married.

“I’ve always been drawn to artists that can do it all. Someone who can write their own songs and come into the studio and perform them in a way that moves the listener and makes you believe every single word they sing. That’s Allie Colleen,” shares Costa. “This girl is the whole package, and I couldn’t be more honored and proud to have played a part in helping her vision to come to life.”

“Allie Colleen delivers the goods on her debut album. From moments of angsty blues to soulful ballads and classic country. Allie does it all with raw, heartfelt lyrics and an honest vocal delivery,” adds Watts. “It was a pleasure to play a part in the creation of this project. I’m sure she’s set for a bright journey ahead!”

“I am beyond grateful every day of my life to pursue this dream. This collection of songs holds stories and narratives that are very close to my heart, and it is my hope and intention that they will have their own place in your story as well.”

“So from my heart and all the amazing hands that touched this project, thank you for my life and career,” says Colleen. “I hope you love this album, but at the end of the day-I LOVE this album. Love one another.”

Official Website

Allie Colleen Playin’ House (Live Video, 4/9/2021)

Official Purchase Link

Allie Colleen @ Facebook

Allie Colleen @ Twitter

Allie Colleen @ YouTube

Allie Colleen @ Instagram

Title - The Parade
Artist - Peggy James

For those unaware, singer-songwriter Peggy James’ sixth album The Parade is out now and mixes five new recordings of previous songs with six songs written in 2021.

Simply put, The Parade is an album of quiet strength, fervent hope and unshakeable faith which stands on the strong shoulders of previous releases.

Much like her previous albums, many influences can be heard, yet The Parade refuses to be easily categorized. And yet, The Parade is rooted above all in the ballad and storytelling traditions of American country music.

As always, at the heart of album James’ voice, pure as a morning in spring, unafraid yet sensitive to the nuances of the words she sings (which is understandable, as she has written her own material since her recording career began).

1. I Go With Me
2. Willow
3. Thousand Reasons
4. Guardian Angel
5. Hard Times
6. Best In Me
7. So Subtle
8. Joan Of Arc
9. Indoor Cat
11. The Parade

This beautifully harmonious new album, that features common themes that recur throughout, opens on the gently rambunctious I Go With Me and the quietly countrified, baritone balladeering twang of Willow and backs those up with a quite magnificent Velvelettes-esque Thousand Reasons, the rolling, bountiful energy of Guardian Angel, and then we get the summery lushness of Hard Times and the lonesome ode of past roads taken within Best In Me.

Next up is wonderfully buoyant and joyful So Subtle and, for me, one of the highlights of this collection, Joan Of Arc (in which James pays homage to a quiet inner strength), and they are in turn followed by the immersive, resigned feline perspective captured within Indoor Cat, the album rounding out on the Americana of Crossroad Moment, closing on the robustly uplifting title track (which allows some excellently cultured slide guitar moments (from producer and longtime musical partner, Jim Eannelli) to come forth, much in the vein of the late, great George Harrison.

“Most of my inspiration for writing comes from observing people, places, events and my own life experiences,” Peggy says. “When something strikes me as interesting, I try to weave a story around it and become a character in the story that makes the idea come alive—like an actor would if given a part,” she continues.

“Then I know I’m ready to write it into a song. Usually, the words and the music pretty much appear simultaneously as a rough draft. Then I carve the song until I’m satisfied that the emotion, melody and words express what I intended it to. The first song on the album, I Go With Me is a perfect example of this process.”

Peggy accompanies herself throughout The Parade on acoustic guitar. Most of the other instrumental tracks were performed by her producer and longtime musical partner, Jim Eannelli, who endows the music with its genre-spanning scope.

Willow is old school country, not more than a few miles down the road from the Carter Family and other seminal country artists. Thousand Reasons, however, has the cadence of one of those great ‘60s hits that hovered somewhere between Nashville and the Top-40.

The title track, closing the album, is an anthemic rock song, the collection’s hardest, most electric track.

Amazon Purchase Link

Peggy James @ Facebook

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Peggy James @ Instagram

Title - Nina Simone and Her Friends [2021 Stereo]
Artist - Nina Simone

For those unaware, originally released by Bethlehem Records in 1959, Nina Simone and Her Friends was a compilation album comprising the few remaining unreleased tracks from the 1957 Little Girl Blue recording session plus songs recorded by two other former Bethlehem artists, the powerhouse jazz vocalist Carmen McRae and the elegant song stylist Chris Connor.

An RSD-Essentials exclusive “emerald-green” limited-edition 180-gram LP will be available, along with CD and digital/streaming versions (high-definition and standard) on December 3rd, 2021.

The reissue features a fresh stereo master done by four-time Grammy winner Michael Graves as well as a vinyl remastering by the renowned Kevin Gray. Grammy winner Cheryl Pawelski produced the set, which includes a new essay by Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution.

1. Nina Simone – “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”
2. Chris Conner – “Someone to Watch Over Me”
3. Carmen McRae – “Old Devil Moon”
4. Nina Simone – “I Loves You, Porgy”
5. Chris Connor – “I Concentrate on You”
6. Carmen McRae – “You Made Me Care”
7. Nina Simone – “For All We Know”
8. Chris Connor – “From This Moment On”
9. Carmen McRae – “Too Much in Love to Care”
10. Nina Simone – “African Mailman”
11. Chris Connor – “All This and Heaven Too”
12. Carmen McRae – “Last Time for Love”

Featuring compiled songs by jazz singers Nina Simone, Carmen McRae and Chris Connor, listening to this joyous, harmonious 2021 Stereo recording today it’s hard to believe that back then all three artists had left the label and signed with other companies by the time Bethlehem originally released this album.

The numbers by Simone were previously unissued left overs from the recording sessions for her debut album Little Girl Blue (1958) and were actually released without her knowledge.

Tracks such as the soft and sultry “I Loves You, Porgy” (whose regular version from Little Girl Blue became a Billboard Chart top 20 hit in 1957) and the dulcet piano instrumental “African Mailman” are, for me, two of the genuine highlights here.

And although every track here is a genuine reflection of the sheer talent that Nina Simone and company possessed, other highly laudable tracks also include the traditional African-American spiritual, and her deeply registered opener “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” Carmen McRae’s gentle vocal hipsway on “You Made Me Care,” Chris Connor’s gently fervent, finger-snapping “From This Moment On,” and, of course, a quite breathtaking “Last Time for Love” from McRae perfectly rounds out the musical memories.

As Brooks explains in her essay, “Bethlehem clustered their work — tracks that had previously appeared on the label’s Girlfriends compilation — together with the younger, upstart Simone’s and essentially offered up a collection of songs that span a range of genres — folk, jazz, pop song staples, and torch song laments, plus a couple of provocative original compositions by McRae and Simone.”

“Each track is a reminder of the clear-eyed independence, verve, and confidence of three artists whose music, taken together, brims with the majesty and the assured talents of the late 1950s women artists who led with conviction and invention as musicians and song interpreters.”

At the time, Simone was in her mid-20s and still aspiring to be a classical concert pianist. As Brooks describes it: “A magisterial original composition of Simone’s which, as she recounts it, ‘was made up on the spot in the studio and recorded in one take,’ finds her moving across an Afrodiasporic terrain of percussion, leading at the keyboard, rolling and tumbling, building waves of contrasting chromatic depth and spinning, ethereal flight.”

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Nina Simone - “African Mailman” (Official Audio)

Title - Little Girl Blue (2021, Stereo)
Artist - Nina Simone

For those unaware, Little Girl Blue (also known as Jazz As Played in an Exclusive Side Street Club) is the debut album by Hall of Famer Nina Simone.

It was originally released by Bethlehem Records in February 1959 and at the time, Simone was in her mid-20s and still aspiring to be a classical concert pianist.

The album includes the classic tracks “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” “Mood Indigo,” as well as “I Loves You, Porgy,” which was her first Top 20 hit (#18 / #2 US R&B).

Featuring a brand new stereo mix by four-time Grammy winner Michael Graves, Little Girl Blue [2021 Stereo] will also be pressed on 180-Gram audiophile vinyl and includes a new essay by author of Liner Notes For The Revolution, Daphne A. Brooks.

1. “Mood Indigo”
2. “Don’t Smoke In Bed”
3. “He Needs Me”
4. “Little Girl Blue”
5. “Love Me Or Leave Me”
6. “My Baby Just Cares For Me”
7. “Good Bait”
8. “Plain Gold Ring”
9. “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
10. “I Loves You, Porgy”
11. “Central Park Blues”

Backed by bassist Jimmy Bond and Albert “Tootie” Heath, Little Girl Blue showcases Simone’s ballad voice as one of mystery and sensuality whilst at the same time her enigmatic up tempo jazz styling brings an elegant down-home feel to the finished product.

Oh, and lest we forget that the album also introduced us to a mighty fine jazz pianist for Simone was a solid improviser who never strayed far from the blues.

On the opener, her reading of Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” which finger-pops and swings while keeping the phrasing always in line and on time, that is then seamlessly contrasted immediately thereafter with one of the definitive reads of Willard Robison’s steamy leave-your-lover ballads, the sultry “Don’t Smoke In Bed.”

The aching “He Needs Me” is then backed by the title track, written by Rodgers & Hart, and which also features Good King Wenceslas as a classical prelude to one of the most beautiful pop ballads ever written, “Little Girl Blue.”

The funky swing of “Love Me Or Leave Me” with a smoking little piano solo in the bridge where Bach meets Horace Silver and Bobby Timmons is, most definitely for me, one of the highlights of this album and that is itself followed by Simone’s strident vocal allurement found veined within a heartwarming “My Baby Just Cares For Me.”

Simone’s instrumental and improvising skills are put to good use on Tadd Dameron’s dulcet “Good Bait,” which is transformed into something classical from its original bebop intent and then comes the Earl Burroughs-written, and stoically drum-led “Plain Gold Ring” with the album rounding out on her rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (which feels more like a regal gospel song than the Rodgers & Hammerstein show tune it was), one of her signature songs in the form of “I Loves You, Porgy,” coming to a close on one the finest jazz tracks Simone ever created, the soft shuffled hipsway of “Central Park Blues.”

In her essay written specifically for this release, Daphne A. Brooks, author of such acclaimed books as Liner Notes for the Revolution, puts it best when she asserts that Little Girl Blue presents “an astonishingly daring, dazzlingly confident, endlessly adventurous artist with a deep well of formidable instrumentality up her sleeve as well as a wide and robust, rich and varied knowledge of jazz, blues, American songbook, folk and spiritual standards and aesthetics.”

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Title - The Conquering Hero
Artist - Jennifer Kloetzel & Robert Koenig

For those unaware, Jennifer Kloetzel’s lifelong journey with Beethoven began early: she was eight years old when her teacher placed the composer’s second cello sonata on her music stand, opening the door to an odyssey of intrigue and, ultimately, obsession with the composer’s music.

Since then, rarely has a day passed without Beethoven being a part of Jennifer’s life. She has studied and performed all of the composer’s duos and trios.

As founding cellist of the Cypress String Quartet, she spent 20 years rehearsing, performing and recording the string quartets.The Conquering Hero (3CD) even though views vary as to what comprises Beethoven’s “complete” works for cello and piano.

Jennifer’s discerning choice includes the five Sonatas for Cello and Piano, three sets of variations – based on arias from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus – and the Horn sonata for which the composer also wrote a cello part.

As you could expect, Jennifer spares no attention to detail across the entire spectrum of this significant recording project. Her performing partner Robert Koenig playing on a 19th century Blüthner concert grand piano.

CD 1:
12 Variations WoO 45 for cello and piano
Sonata for Piano and Cello No.1 in F Op.5 No.1
Sonata for Piano and Cello No.2 in G minor Op.5 No.2

CD 2:
12 Variations Op.66 for cello and piano
Sonata for Piano with Horn or Cello in F Op.17
7 Variations WoO 46 for cello and piano

CD 3:
Sonata for Piano and Cello No.3 in A Op.69
Sonata for Piano and Cello No.4 in C Op.102 No.1
Sonata for Piano and Cello No.5 in D Op.102 No.2

This simply magnificent, opulent and practically orchestrally translucent recording opens with the free flowing majesties within 12 Variations WoO 45 for cello and piano, on “See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes” from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, and which runs just over thirteen minutes.

Next up are the two Sonata’s for Piano and Cello, No.1 in F Op.5 No.1 first unveiling the lushly orchestrated, gently fervent I. Adagio sostenuto – Allegro and the slightly sterner II. Rondo: Allegro vivace (coming in at about 26 minutes for the pair), No. 2 opening on the flourishing grandeur of I. Adagio sostenuto ed espressivo – Allegro molto più tosto presto, and then we get the sweeping, ball room twirl of II. Rondo: Allegro (these coming in at about 30 minutes the pair).

The second CD opens with the delicately playful 12 Variations Op.66 for cello and piano on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and then a most delicious trilogy within the strident Sonata for Piano with Horn or Cello in F Op.17, the yearning ache of I. Allegro moderato, the short, but sweet II. Poco adagio, and then we get the blossoming III. Rondo: Allegro moto; this disc rounding out on the vibrantly perky, ten minute 7 Variations WoO 46 for cello and piano on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

The third and final CD opens on the simply wondrous Sonata for Piano and Cello No.3 in A Op.69, first bringing us the achingly ornate I. Allegro ma non tanto, then the rather more sprightly II. Scherzo: Allegro molto, culminating in the cautious growth found within the melodies of III. Adagio cantabile – Allegro vivace (coming in at thirty minutes or so).

Next up is the precisely sculptured Sonata for Piano and Cello No.4 in C Op.102 No.1 which first features the dominate, forthright playing found within I. Andante – Allegro vivace and then comes the more airy, gay and freeing II. Adagio – Tempo d’Andante – Allegro vivace (both at about 15 minutes the pair), the CD, and thusly the recording coming to a close on the heavenly Sonata for Piano and Cello No.5 in D Op.102 No.2; with the deep overtones of I. Allegro con brio leading the way, then comes the carefully strict, yet always flexible II. Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto, finally culminating in the euphoric III. Allegro – Allegro fugato (the trio coming in at about 23 minutes).

The illuminating liner notes are penned by Beethoven scholar William Meredith who boldly states, “if there were only the five cello sonatas of Beethoven left of all his music, these alone would have cemented his place in history.”

The recording was made in the stellar acoustic of Skywalker Sound. The 3-album set is lavishly packaged in a deluxe digipack. The title track, The Conquering Hero – from the opening set of variations from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus – evokes everything for Jennifer about Beethoven’s music, coming from a place of triumph and joy.

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Title - Bach: Sonatas & Partitas
Artist - Fabio Biondi

For those unaware, newly signed to the naïve label, violinist Fabio Biondi, the celebrated founder and director of Europa Galante, here presents his interpretation of one of the major peaks of the solo violin repertoire: the Sonatas and Partitas of Bach.

For many years a passionate devotee of this Holy Grail of violinists, and having performed many of the works individually in the course of his career, Fabio Biondi is now, at the age of sixty, using his maturely ripened art to record the complete set for the very first time: it is the culmination of long and patient study, as well as of a process of personal development.

For years Biondi was intimidated by Bach’s writing for solo violin: so intimate, yet so universal, so close to the essence of things – which the music often expresses through silence and pure, untranslateable sound – and so technically demanding as well.

CD 1:
1-4 Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001
5-12 Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002
13-16 Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003

CD 2:
1-5 Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
6-9 Sonata No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005
10-16 Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006

To reveal the music’s profound meaning, its vitality and contemporaneity, and to share his findings with others: this is what has impelled him to record this album.

Recorded in June last year and captured within a rather beguiling, detailed soundscape all of its own, most listeners will be familiar with Bach’s double triptych of Sonatas and Partitas, without necessarily knowing them in detail.

All the well-known landmarks are here - the famous Bourrée of the First Partita, the challenging Chaconne of the Second, the lively introductory Preludio and sprightly Gavotte en rondeau of the Third Partita. Fabio Biondi makes these thirty-two dances intensely present in his infinitely nuanced interpretation.

And yet here, Biondi’s trademark tonal opulence, complete with lashings of smothering warmth, incandescent phrasing and gently vibrated, tonal intensity, all come together to bring forth the naturalness and, dare I say, humanity of his very own expressionism and stylistic approach.

Here on Bach: Sonatas & Partitas, Biondi casts a veritably translucent light over each and every piece of the 2CD set, at all times enticing each note, each melody to dance to his own manifesto, and yet never allowing them to stray too far as to dilute the original heartbeat.

To complement his musical presentation, he asked Akira Mizubayashi, a Japanese writer of French novels permeated by a musical sensibility, for a newly written work with which to grace the CD booklet.

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Title - Wonderful World
Artist - Christian-Pierre La Marca

For those unaware, cellist Christian-Pierre La Marca’s new two-disc set Wonderful World embraces classical, neo-classical, world music, and jazz in a program dedicated to saving the planet.

“Nature has always been a source of inspiration for many musicians,” says La Marca. “I have conceived Wonderful World, a project where several art forms combine on stage, aligning the beauty of our world with its fragility. A warning message. A humanist vision that awakens people’s minds to environmental matters.”

The French cellist is joined by a host of international artists and musicians from the Orchestre de Paris, and the accompanying booklet features images by renowned environmental photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

CD 1:
1. Après un rêve Op. 7/1
2. Over the Rainbow
3. Habanera
4. Morgen! Op. 27/4
5. Lost in the Stars
6. I’ve Never Been in Love Before
7. Summertime
8. The Hours: The Poet Acts
9. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): I. Sivas
10. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): II. Hopa
11. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): Prelude (of Wind and Water)
12. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): Silent Woods (From the Bohemian Forest, Op. 68)
13. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): Alfonsina y el mar
14. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): Flight of Bumblebee (from the Tale of Tsar Saltan)
15. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): La rosa y el sauce
16. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): Le Cygne (Le carnaval des animaux)
17. Four Cities (Cello Sonata): You Want My Money

Opening on the stirring, achingly poignant and wholly organic emotions of Après un rêve Op. 7/1 and the delicate, gentle swirl of the beautiful Over the Rainbow, he follows those with the perky, playful Habanera, the expressive, breathy yearn of Morgen! Op. 27/4, the somber piano work of richly layered Lost in the Stars, and then brings forth the ornately vocalized I’ve Never Been in Love Before and a sweeping magnificent Summertime.

Along next, and under The Hours, we get the four minute work of dramatic musical art between known as The Poet Acts and that is itself followed by the section entitled Four Cities (Cello Sonata): which opens on the storied grandeur of Sivas and continues on with the galloping fervency of II. Hopa, the lush orchestrations of both Prelude (of Wind and Water) and Silent Woods (From the Bohemian Forest, Op. 68), before we get treated to the cinematic Alfonsina y el mar, the scurrying Flight of Bumblebee (from the Tale of Tsar Saltan), a rather beautifully dulcet pairing of both La rosa y el sauce and Le Cygne (Le carnaval des animaux), the first disc culminating with vocalized vibrancy (from Lilly Wood & the Prick) on You Want My Money.

CD 2:
1. Moon River
2. I giorni: [Excerpt]
3. I giorni: Invierno porteño (Las cuatro estaciones porteñes)
4. I giorni: Awake of Nature (improvisation)
5. I giorni: Ambre (From Wintermusik)
6. I giorni: Between Man and Nature (improvisation)
7. I giorni: Valse sentimentale, Op. 51/6
8. I giorni: Celtic Valse
9. I giorni: Brian Boru Renaissance
10. From Jewish Life: Prayer
11. From Jewish Life: Fly
12. From Jewish Life: What a Wonderful World

The second CD opens with Henry Mancini’s lonesome ode Moon River and, from I giorni, we first get the aching [Excerpt], which are lovingly followed by the accordion-imbed Invierno porteño (Las cuatro estaciones porteñes), the atmospherically-charged Awake of Nature (improvisation), the ornate beauty of Ambre (From Wintermusik), another atmospherically-embedded, short but sweet track Between Man and Nature (improvisation), before this section rounds out with the inspirationally moving Valse sentimentale, Op. 51/6, the traditional Celtic Valse, and then the Irish traditional, vocalized Brian Boru Renaissance.

The last section on this 2CD recording is entitled From Jewish Life and this three-part work opens with the soul-stirring Prayer, follows that with the pure chiffon of Fly, the work, along with the collection, coming to a close on an ultra-fine bed of musical wonderment that carries to us What a Wonderful World.

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Title - Daylight. Stories Of Songs, Dances And Loves
Artist - Rinaldo Alessandrini

For those unaware, a sequel to Rinaldo Alessandrini’s 2017 Monteverdi recording, Night: Stories of Lovers and Warriors, Daylight. Stories Of Songs, Dances And Loves takes the story onwards to dawn with works celebrating the joys of dancing and singing in the sunlight, and the playful exchanges between lovers.

Through this highly expressive, stunningly emotive journey, Alessandrini tells us that this is his ultimate and definitive expression of the love he has borne for Monteverdi for 40 years.

Buttressed aloft by the seasoned voices of Concerto Italiano and an unusually diverse instrumental ensemble, this sequence of music gravitates towards the rising sun, setting hearts on fire, singing of love, joy, passion, while holding up a mirror to the radiant glories of nature.

1. Sinfonia: from Orfeo
2-3. Non si levava ancor l’alba novella (from Madrigals Book 2)
4. Sinfonia: Concerto (from Madrigals book 4)
5. Sù, sù us pastorella vezzosi (from Madrigals, guerrieri et amorosi)
6. Sù, sù,ù augelletti (from Madrigals Book 9)
7. Biagio Marini Gagliarda Seconda (Sonate da chiesa e da camera, Op. 8)
8. Sù, sù, sù ch’el giorno é fore (from Canzonetta 1584)
9. De la bellezza le dovute lodi (from Scherzi musicale)
10. Duri e penosi (from Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria Act 1)
11. Io mi son giovinetta (from Madrigals Book 4)
12. Zefiro torna (from Scherzi Musicale)
13. Andrea Falconiero Ciaccona-L’eroica
14. Sento un certo non so ché (from L’incoronazione di Poppea Act 2)
15. Biagio Marini Gagliardo seconda
16. Chiome d’oro bel Tesoro (from Canzonetta 1619)
17. Alla danze, alle gioie (from Madrigals Book 9) Biagio Marini Corrente nona
18. Movete al mio bel suon le piante snelle
19. Balletto entrata – balletto-gagliardo- canario-gagliardo-balletto- moresca (From Orfeo)
20. Gli arditi balli e l’armonia dei canti (from Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi)

With the scene most angelically set for a hymn to beauty and to love, all whilst confessing his fascination with the inexhaustible riches of this music, Alessandrini opens with the delicate Sinfonia that opens act 3 of Orfeo (and which also provides a link to the former recordings, of which started in the same way), before we are presented with the two-part madrigal Non si levava ancor l’alba novella (from Book 2, 1590).

Next up the mood lightens within the duo of Concerto settimo libro de’ madrigali, first bringing us the gently organic Sinfonia: Concerto (from Madrigals book 4) and the angelic Sù, sù us pastorella vezzosi (from Madrigals, guerrieri et amorosi), which are in turn followed by a stunning quartet that makes up Libro nono de’ madrigali: Sù, sù,ù augelletti (from Madrigals Book 9), the dancefloor twirl of Gagliarda Seconda (Sonate da chiesa e da camera, Op. 8), Sù, sù, sù ch’el giorno é fore (from Canzonetta 1584) and the emphatically cultured De la bellezza le dovute lodi (from Scherzi musicale).

These harmonic languages that about and surround the major and minor modes, whilst embracing being codified and exquisitely embroidered with smooth techniques to reinforce such a harmonic language, continue onward with the quartet Il ritorno di ulisse in patria (featuring soprano Sonia Tedla, tenor Valerio Contaldo, along with soprano Monica Piccinini and tenor Raffaele Giordani): Duri e penosi (from Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria Act 1), the righteously chorused Io mi son giovinetta (from Madrigals Book 4), the simply divine, rhythmic even Zefiro torna (from Scherzi Musicale) and then the vibrantly ensconced, instrumental dance of Ciaccona-L’eroica.

The latter third of this most welcoming of collections continues onward with a quartet from L’ incoronazione di poppea: Sento un certo non so ché (from L’incoronazione di Poppea Act 2), the palatial elegance of Gagliardo seconda, the entrancing soprano duet from Monica Piccinini and Sonia Tedla within Chiome d’oro bel Tesoro (from Canzonetta 1619) and then the gentle bombastic Alla danze, alle gioie (from Madrigals Book 9) and the additional gentle embrace of Corrente nona.

Then we get the final trilogy on offer here from Alessandrini, the works within Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi: the stunningly layered (to perfection, I might add) Movete al mio bel suon le piante snelle, the delicately embroidered Balletto entrata – balletto-gagliardo- canario-gagliardo-balletto- moresca (From Orfeo), the album closing on the triumphant Gli arditi balli e l’armonia dei canti (from Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi).

As Rinaldo Alessandrini himself admits, “I count myself among the company of those who are in love with the Monteverdian ideal that everything is theatre: a theatre made up of humanity, an aspiration towards the sublime, and a happy resolution of life’s sorrows through love, the healing power of song, and the energetic exaltation of the dance.”

“This recording is intended as my final, definitive declaration of love for Monteverdi. Having associated with him for more than forty years, I owe him a considerable part of everything I’ve learnt.”

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Title - Cantate per Soprano I
Artist - Arianna Vendittelli

For those unaware, this new recording in the Edition Vivaldi series - the first of two volumes dedicated to Vivaldi’s cantate da camera for soprano - displays the energetic vitality with which a new generation of artists in their thirties is encountering the baroque repertoire.

This sixty-eighth album of the Edition highlights the expressively powerful voice of the soloist, soprano Arianna Vendittelli, already heard in the operas Il Tamerlano (2020) and Il Giustino (2018) conducted by Ottavio Dantone, as well as the artistic vision and high standards of the harpsichordist, organist and conductor Andrea Buccarella; who in 2018 carried off the first prize at the Bruges International Early Music Competition with his Abchordis Ensemble.

1. Allor che lo sguardo, RV650
2. Aure, voi pie non siete, RV652
3. Tra l’erbe i zeffiri RV669
4. Sorge vermiglia in ciel la bella Aurora RV667
5. La farfalletta s’aggira al lume RV660
6. Si levi dal pensier, RV 665

Within these six cantatas - of which some thirty can be attributed to the Venetian master and composed between 1718 and the mid-1730s - the absorbingly engaging quality and personality of Vendittelli’s soprano is truly one to fall in love with.

Thus, and at all times, and with its core subject of love - in all its guises - sewn throughout, Vendittelli’s personalized pastoral cantatas of love emanate a rich wealth of empathy and seductive warmth that is simply breathtaking to behold.

Opening with the impassioned trio within Allor che lo sguardo, RV650, the recitative showcases Vendittelli’s impressive meditation to line form, whilst using notes in the lower register and that is followed by a rather melancholy register used within the quartet of Aure, voi pie non siete, RV652.

Then come two lighter arias within the trio of Tra l’erbe i zeffiri RV669 and the markedly dramatic quartet Sorge vermiglia in ciel la bella Aurora RV667, with this magnificent new collection rounding out on the rhythmic inventiveness of the trio within La farfalletta s’aggira al lume RV660, closing on the support - as throughout - of members from the Abchordis Ensemble on the rousingly spirited threesome within Si levi dal pensier, RV 665.

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Title - Chopin
Artist - Anne Gastinel & Claire Désert

For those unaware, other than the piano, there were few instruments on which Chopin focused his attention, which makes this album featuring cellist Anne Gastinel something of a rarity – all the more so in the hands of this iconic French cellist and her partner Claire Désert, veterans of countless concerts and recordings over several decades.

Their united voice – as always, remote from the chorus of the mundane and the media-fixated – is a subtle, inspired cantilena. For here it is all about the singing voice that Chopin declared to be his model, overtly influenced as he was by Italian bel canto opera.

Anne Gastinel savors every moment, not only with the sense of refinement she shares with the greatest singers, but with a palpable musical breathing, sensitively illuminated at the piano by Claire Désert, an accompanist in the very noblest tradition.

1. nocturne en mi bémol majeur, op. 9 no. 2
2-5. sonate pour violoncelle et piano en sol mineur op. 65
6-7. introduction et polonaise brillante en ut majeur op. 3
8. frédéric chopin - auguste franchomme (grand duo concertant)
9. nocturne no. 20 et ut diése mineur b. 49

The recital begins (and ends) with Nocturnes, opening on the immensely evocative, and beautifully embroidered with eloquence of Chopin’s melodic lines throughout, nocturne en mi bémol majeur, op. 9 no. 2 which is followed by the quartet piece sonate pour violoncelle et piano en sol mineur op. 65: the flirtatious Allegro moderato leads the way, then comes the gently fervent Scherzo, the sterner Largo, closing on the vivaciously dulcet Finale. Allegro.

Up next are the free wheeling delights found pleasantly, if not perhaps even royally, coursing within the duo of introduction et polonaise brillante en ut majeur op. 3, the works rounding out on auguste franchomme (grand duo concertant) - where the two soloists vividly reveal an equal share in the virtuosity within the 12 minute work - the new collection coming to a close with their beguiling interpretation of nocturne no. 20 et ut diése mineur b. 49.

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Title - The Magnet Albums [3CD]
Artist - Alvin Stardust

For those unaware, The Magnet Albums is a brand new 3CD and 54 track round up of everything recorded by 70s Glamster Alvin Stardust for Magnet Records.

Born Bernard Jewry in the East End of London in 1942, his hits included My Coo Ca Choo, Jealous Mind and I Feel Like Buddy Holly. Stardust grew up in Mansfield and started playing guitar as a schoolboy.

He met one of his biggest influences, Buddy Holly, at a gig in Doncaster and played backstage with the singer and his band the Crickets.

He signed his first record deal in 1961 as the frontman of Shane Fenton and the Fentones, though the band struggled to get in the charts.

In 1973 he signed with Magnet Records and took on the name that would make him famous.

It started off as Elvin Starr, because they wanted a kind of rocky, country name, he recalled in 2010.

But [a woman] who was doing promotion for us said it wasn’t glam-rocky enough, so it became Stardust and then Alvin.

My Coo Ca Choo, the debut song under his new guise, peaked at number two in the UK singles chart.

Known for his rockabilly quiff, sideburns and black gloves, he projected a glowering persona he said he adopted because he was nervous and didn’t want to be found out.

His success led to him being part of a Green Cross Code road safety campaign in 1976, which saw him instructing children to look both ways before they crossed the road.

That success continued into the 1980s with Pretend, I Feel Like Buddy Holly and I Won’t Run Away all making the top 10.

Once described as The Godfather of British Rock ’n’ Roll by Rolling Stone Keith Richards, he made sporadic acting appearances in Hollyoaks, The Grimleys and Doctors.

He also appeared on stage in such musicals as Godspell, The Phantom of the Opera and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, in which he played the fearsome Child Catcher.

Phil Hendriks has supplied in-depth liner notes and the booklet also contains stacks of picture sleeves from across the globe plus memorabilia from the era.

CD 1: The Untouchable (1974)
1. My Coo Ca Choo
2. Be My Judy
3. The Bump
4. My Sweet Deutsche Friend
5. Jealous Mind
6. Dreambreaker
7. I’m In Love Again 8 High Fever
9. Dressed In Black
10. You’re My Everything
11. Guitar Star
12. Pull Together [Bonus Track]
13. Alvin Stardust LP Jingle [Bonus Track]

Disc 1 features Alvin’s debut album which reached #4 in the UK charts and includes the world-wide chart smash My Co Ca Choo (UK #2, Germany #3, Australia #1) plus his sole British chart topper Jealous Mind; which also hit #5 in Germany.

Looking back, it’s hard to see what all the fuss was about. So he wore a tight leather catsuit. So he glowered a little and didn’t like smiling. So he called his first album The Untouchable and he liked his girls to lie down and groove on the mat! That was still no reason to label him a deviant pariah and ban him from children’s TV in case he scared the kiddies!

They did, though, and that wasn’t the end of Alvin’s travails. Less than six weeks after this album was released, the English city of Hull banned him from appearing in concert there, stating He is not the sort of act we want in Hull. And people thought the Sex Pistols had problems!

The Untouchable, this demonic entity’s first album, confirms Hull’s horrors from the cover on in. Stardust himself was soon to drop the Stygian armor and knuckledusters, but they hang on him here like a second skin. There’s even a song about them, Dressed in Black, while a quick skim through the rest of the set raises other suspicions as well.

Who but a latter-day Mr. Punch would invite his lady to Be My Judy, while Jealous Mind, My Sweet Deutsche Friend, and High Fever are scarcely the stuff of girl meets boy-next-door fantasy either. And then there’s My Coo Ca Choo, a hit so pervasive that its churning, mysterious malevolence remains a palpable presence throughout the album.

Even when Alvin slips into brooding balladeer mode, to hiss-breathe the sibilant You’re My Everything, the fear still haunts the back of your mind. Don’t ever leave me, he quakes in a voice which is utterly unsuitable for such sweet sentiments, and is it simple paranoia? Or does he really leave unspoken what will happen if you do? Sha la la la la.

Extract yourself from the mystery, of course, and The Untouchable is pretty thin gruel, a vaguely glammy distillation of every second division British rock ’n’ roller that could ever have been a contender.

Co-writer and producer Pete Shelley basically has three good ideas and spreads them way too far - the best songs are the two hit singles, the rest are barely B-sides - and, again, once past the hits, Alvin himself has only a marginally convincing singing voice.

But image is everything and in early 1974, Stardust had an aura to die for. Even a halfway decent album was simply the icing on the cake.

CD 2: Alvin Stardust (1974)
1. Red Dress
2. Heartbeat
3. Just Love Me Baby
4. Where’s She Gone
5. You, You, You
6. Chilli Willi
7. Jump Down!
8. Shake On Little Roller!
9. Tell Me Why
10. First Train Out
11. Blind Fool
12. Little Darlin’ [Bonus Track]
13. Come On! [Bonus Track]
14. Roadie Roll On [Bonus Track]
15. Good Love Can Never Die [Bonus Track]
16. The Danger Zone [Bonus Track]
17. Chilli Willi [Alvin’s Heartbeats - Bonus Track]
18. Chilli Willi (Part 2) [Alvin’s Heartbeats - Bonus Track]

The second disc contains his self titles #37 charting album and features the UK hit singles Red Dress (#7), You You You (#6) and Tell Me Why (#16) plus, among the seven bonus tracks, the #11 smash hit Good Love Can Never Die.

Alvin continued to emerge as an image-conscious pop idol in early-1970s England, mixing glam rock with ’50s rock ’n’ roll influences. His aforementioned debut album made a huge splash in the U.K., and the self-titled follow-up came just seven months later, but didn’t fare nearly as well in the charts.

Regardless, it offers a similar musical blend to its predecessor, with ballads like Where She’s Gone and rockers like Shake On Little Roller. Once again, the tunes were penned mostly by Stardust’s producer Peter Shelley (not to be confused with the Buzzcocks leader!) with a little help from the star himself.

CD 3: Rock With Alvin (1975)
1. Twenty Flight Rock
2. C’Mon Everybody
3. Bony Maronie
4. Move It
5. It’s Better To Be Cruel Than Be Kind
6. Angel From Hamburger Heaven
7. It’s Only A Song Peggy Sue
8. Good Love Can Never Die
9. The Love Bug
10. Come On
11. Bye Bye Love
12. Never In A Million Years
13. Sweet Cheatin’ Rita [Bonus Track]
14. Be Smart Be Safe (The Green Cross Code Song) [Bonus Track]
15. Here I Go Again [Bonus Track]
16. The Word Is Out 17 No Parking Space [Bonus Track]
18. Growin’ Up [Bonus Track]
19. A Hobo’s Life [Bonus Track]
20. Sweet Little Rock ‘N’ Roller [Bonus Track]
21. Save Your Love [Bonus Track]
22. Jailhouse Rock [Bonus Track]
23. Love Is Real [Bonus Track]

The final disc is the Rock With Alvin album from 1975 which now comes compete with 10 bonus tracks made up of non-LP singles including the previously German-only 45 Sweet Little Rock ‘N’ Roller which makes its debut on this release.

For my money, this sound was a genuine artefact from the last great era of bubblegum, whilst having one foot firmly planted in the UKs Glam Rock explosion! After the success of his past singles Jealous Mind and My Coo Ca Choo, Alvin became a household name releasing albums and appearing on television all backed by incredible live performances.

This album captures this era brilliantly with glammed up covers of artists like Eddie Cochran and the Everly brothers. Alvin’s version of C’Mon Everybody even has T-Rex bongos and sounds bloody wonderful!.

Of the original songs, well, as you know, it’s Glam rock bubblegum all the way, with nods and winks to Buddy Holly, one of Alvin’s heroes. Indeed, within It’s Only A Song Peggy Sue, he even quotes one of Buddy’s songs and its sound is pure fuzzed-up Holly and the Crickets!

Angel From Hamburger Heaven is yet another rocker of a love song as are both Good Love Can Never Die and The Love Bug and now with ten wondrous bonus tracks - including the jaunty Sweet Cheatin’ Rita, the vibrant The Word Is Out 17 No Parking Space, the sweet melodic rock of Growin’ Up, along with every kids favorite growing up, Be Smart Be Safe (The Green Cross Code Song) - if you wanted a starting place for Alvin’s music in your life, you couldn’t find much finer than this new 3CD box-set.

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Title - A Free Society
Artist - Night Crickets

For those unaware, foundational bands in the history of alternative music certainly include Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, and Violent Femmes and San Francisco-born artist Darwin Meiners was a fan of all three.

A chance meeting 13 years ago with David J (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets) grew into a friendship, and Darwin not only became a bandmate, but David J’s manager. As the pandemic took hold, Darwin was looking for a new project to occupy the lockdown time and approached Victor, who was keen to proceed and suggested that David join as well. The musical trust established among these three was immediate, and Night Crickets were born.

Within weeks, a global process was initiated. According to the band, their collaboration was a long-distance groove conducted during the drawn-out days of lockdown and beyond.

Audio files shared from Los Angeles to Milwaukee, from London to the San Francisco Bay; the ghosts of Candlestick Park shimmer through the fog, the Devil comes a-knocking on Peter Laughner’s door and Amanda Gorman conjures forth words of inspiration for the dawn of the new millennium.

The resultant album, A Free Society will be released on CD and Digital by Omnivore Recordings on January 21st, 2022, with vinyl being released in July, featuring cover art unique to the LP.

1. Black Leather On The Inside
2. Candlestick Park
3. Amanda’s Mantra
4. A Free Society
5. Roman À Clef
6. Soul Wave
7. Little Did I
8. Sloe Song
9. The Unreliable Narrator
10. Down Below
11. Return To The Garden Of Allah
12. Sacred Monster
13. I Want My Night Crickets!

This highly imaginative, organically raw, and assuredly revealing new album opens on the slow churn of Black Leather On The Inside and the gently jangled guitar work and tambourine vibe of Candlestick Park and backs those up with the flamboyant electro-buzz of Amanda’s Mantra, the drum-led title track A Free Society, the electronic, scratchy soundscape of Roman À Clef and then brings us both the countrified twang of Soul Wave and the upbeat melodies of Little Did I.

Next up is the languishing Sloe Song which is in turn followed by the hurdy gurdy-imbibed The Unreliable Narrator, the atmospheric Down Below, the Americana roll of Return To The Garden Of Allah, the album rounding out on more tambourine-induced rhythms and keyboard work within Sacred Monster, coming to a righteous close on the scintillating musical emotions found within the excellently sculptured I Want My Night Crickets!

David J, Victor DeLorenzo, and Darwin spearhead a loose collective of like-minded creative souls left stranded in their respective locales due to the great pandemic, yet through sheer tenacity and a burning desire to collaborate and create they transcend the restrictions of the times and pull together a glorious Gesamtkunstwerk (German for “total artwork”) that incorporates the past, the present and the imagined future.

As for the band’s name, it came from one of many Zoom meetings among the three members. After addressing various pressing musical issues, the conversation rambled somewhat and turned to the subject of David Lynch, with David J telling an anecdote which was told to him by Lynch’s sound designer, John Neff.

Lynch had asked Neff to obtain a field recording of crickets chirping at night for inclusion in Mulholland Drive. When Neff played him the tape, the director immediately recognized the sound that the insects make when it is light which is apparently a little different to their nocturnal chirp.

“No! No! No! These are day crickets, John! I want my night crickets!” Victor, Darwin, and David then shared a look of mutual realization and instantly agreed that the project now had a name.

David J reveals details about the intriguing meaning the song, commenting, “The lyrics to the song “A Free Society” came about when I was in the studio having just received the basic backing track from Victor. We had been trying to come up with a name for the band and had made a list of possible handles.”

“I had this list on the desk and looking at it again it appeared to me as a kind of Dadaist poem. I simply went into the vocal booth and read off the names in order adding the odd spontaneous embellishment here and there. This approach is exemplary of the off-the-cuff, free-flowing modus operandi of the band.”

Hark! Night Crickets are chirping as the world is set on fire and the sun is going down.

Official Purchase Link

Omnivore - Night Crickets - A Free Society - Official YouTube Trailer

Title - Oi! The Albums Vol. 2 The Link Records Years [7CD]
Artist - Various

For those unaware, Oi! The Albums, Volume 2: The Link Records Years is a monster 102 track, seven CD clam shell box-set that focuses on the Oi! compilation albums issued on legendary Street Punk label Link Records between 1987-1993.

Featuring the biggest names associated with the scene – Cockney Rejects, Angelic Upstarts, The Business, Cock Sparrer, Slaughter And The Dogs, The 4 Skins, Blitz, Sham 69, The Crack, Menace, Judge Dread, The Oppressed and oh-so many more - it follows on from the success of Oi! The Albums and also comes with detailed liner notes by label boss Captain Oi!; which give the inside story behind each of the seven albums.

CD 1: Oi! The Resurrection (1986)
1. THE 4 SKINS - Yesterday’s Heroes
2. VICIOUS RUMOURS - Pull You Through
3. SKIN DEEP - Self Respect
4. MENACE - I’m Civilised
5. RENEGADE - Revenge
6. CONDEMNED 84 - No Way In
7. THE BUSINESS - Mortgage Mentality
9. SECTION 5 - For The Love Of Oi!
10. THE MAGNIFICENT - Heat Of The Street
11. ACCIDENT - Crazy
12. THE STRIKE - Hungry Gun
14. THE LAST RESORT - Soul Boys

Opening on the thunderous noise of their chunky, yet highly beloved manic guitar intros, it’s The 4 Skins with Vicious Rumours that kicks things off and they are backed by bands such as MENACE with their sensitive punk outing I’m Civilised, RENEGADE and their dub-punk on Revenge, THE BUSINESS and their hardcore rants on Mortgage Mentality, the always-brilliant THE COCKNEY REJECTS with their euphoric I Wanna Be A Star, and rounds out with the drum-led fervency of INTENSIVE CARE’s Framed.

CD 2: The Sound of Oi! (1987)
1. THE BUSINESS - Coventry
2. VICIOUS RUMOURS - Surfin’ In Newquay
3. SKIN DEEP - My Life’s Fine
4. BURIAL - Sheila
5. RENEGADE - Fictional Kicks
6. CONDEMNED 84 - Battle
8. THE 4 SKINS - Norman
9. SECTION 5 - Headcase
10. THE MAGNIFICENT - Coming On Strong
11. FIVE O - The Best
12. VAN DEL & THE HOOLIGANS - Confusion
13. CLOSE SHAVE - The Law
14. THE COCKNEY REJECTS - Beginning Of The End

This second disc opens on the emphatic rhythmic ode to Coventry from THE BUSINESS and then the quite brilliantly stolen Surfin’ In Newquay by VICIOUS RUMOURS (completely ripping off The Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA!) and then we get blockbusters such as RENEGADE’s free wheelin’ Fictional Kicks, COCK SPARRER and their rebellious Old, the endless, thrashingly motivated guitar lines found within THE MAGNIFICENT’s Coming On Strong, rounding out on the hard hitting and staunchly working class CLOSE SHAVE with The Law.

CD 3: Oi! Glorious Oi! (1987)
1. SECTION 5 - Work It Out
2. ANGELIC UPSTARTS - I Wanna Knighthood
3. BURIAL - Holding On
4. THE BUSINESS - Do A Runner
5. THE GLORY - Where Were You
6. VENDETTA - Willing To Kill
8. SHAM 69 - Lost On Highway 46
9. VICIOUS RUMOURS - One Thing On Our Minds
10. INDECENT EXPOSURE - Bank Holidays
12. THE STRIKE - Action Man
13. CLOSE SHAVE - I’d Be Rather Down The Pub

The third disc opens with the one of the new and upcoming bands of the late eighties, SECTION 5 with their triumphant Work It Out and the ANGELIC UPSTARTS doing what they do best on the balls-to-the-wall, searing guitar work of I Wanna Knighthood, and then comes gems such as the powerful Where Were You from THE GLORY, the boys from Hersham on the poptastic-punk of Lost On Highway 46 (SHAM 69), and then INDECENT EXPOSURE’s purest punk of Bank Holidays, the disc closing on the stand tall, loud and proud Rebel from INTENSIVE CARE.

CD 4: Oi! That’s What I Call Music (1988)
1. THE CRACK - Don’t Just Sit There
2. THE MAGNIFICENT - (I Don’t Wanna) Be Like You
3. THE GLORY - Scarred For Life
4. MOONSTOMP - Streets At Night
5. THE BETRAYED - Don’t Waste Space
6. THE BLOOD - Bad News
7. CONDEMNED 84 - The Boots Go Marching In
8. THE BUSINESS - Mouth An’ Trousers
9. THE KICKER BOYS - I Gotta Handgun
10. SECTION 5 - Remember The Night
11. THE STRIKE - Victims
12. JUDGE DREAD - Bring Back The Skins
14. SHAM 69 - Pretty Vacant

This fourth disc opens on one of the patriotic glam Oi! bands, the thrusting THE CRACK with Don’t Just Sit There and THE MAGNIFICENT with the hard hitting (I Don’t Wanna) Be Like You, and then comes raunchy gems such as THE BETRAYED with their faster-than-a-speeding-bullet style of music on Don’t Waste Space, the old school punk kicks from CONDEMNED 84 on The Boots Go Marching In, the Wisconsin’s own THE KICKER BOYS on I Gotta Handgun, the disc rounding out on the high-pitched vocals of SPLODGENESSABOUNDS’ Wiffy Smells, and a rip roaringly loud and abstract rendition of the Pistols’ Pretty Vacant from Sham 69.

CD 5: Pop Oi! (1989)
1. SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS - Situations
2. THE CRACK - Going Out
3. THE HOOPERS - Ginger Cringe
4. CRIMINAL CLASS - Fighting The System
5. FIVE O - Little Powers
6. AMERICAN EAGLE - American Oi!
7. THE KICKER BOYS - I Don’t Scare
8. FRANKIE FLAME - England Belongs To Me
9. MOONSTOMP - Nothing At All
11. FOREIGN LEGION - Surf City
12. THE STRIKE - Agony Of A Nation
13. THE MADHATTERS - Black Hat
14. THE RESORT - Rubber Jenny
15. THE BUSINESS - Out In The Cold
16. FRANKIE FLAME - Harry May

The fifth disc opens with the classic punk pop-tastic SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS and their brilliant Situations and the boys from Wycombe THE HOOPERS with their shout out track Ginger Cringe, and then comes the headbanging beauty Little Powers from FIVE O, the manic MOONSTOMP with Nothing At All, THE MADHATTERS and their punk-bounce of Black Hat, the disc rounding out with the late, great Micky Fitz with THE BUSINESS on Out In The Cold, closing on their ode to vanilla muffins, Nancy Reagan, Robin Williams and more, FRANKIE FLAME with Harry May.

CD 6: Oi! Oi! Oi! (1989)
1. SECTION 5 - Beat Of The Street
2. DISTORTED TRUTH - Party Political Bullshit
3. THE LAST RESORT - Johnny Barden’s 89
4. BLITZ - Those Days
5. CLOSE SHAVE - Man At The Top
6. SKINHEAD - One Of The Boys
7. THE CRACK - Don’t Stop Me
8. GUITAR GANGSTERS - Nothing To Shout About
10. CLOSE SHAVE - Get Out Of Our Way
11. THE BONESHAKERS - Boneshaker
12. SECTION 5 - We Won’t Change

The sixth disc opens on the punk-tastic duo of SECTION 5’s Beat Of The Street and the late, great Big Alshy with DISTORTED TRUTH on Party Political Bullshit and then comes the sad-but-sweet track from BLITZ Those Days, the rockin’ Rose Tattoo cover of One Of The Boys from SKINHEAD (sounding like Lemmy all the way), a rocker from GUITAR GANGSTERS with Nothing To Shout About, the disc rounding out with, perhaps, THE BONESHAKERS’ only chart circular, Boneshaker.

CD 7: The Joys of Oi! (1990)
1. PROLE - Chasing Rainbows
2. BLITZ - 4Q
3. THE GONADS - Joys Of Oi!
4. THE STRIKE - Action Man
7. ALASKA COWBOYS - Oral In Orleans
8. VENDETTA - Willing To Kill
9. LORD WAISTRAL - Reg And Ron
10. COCK SPARRER - A Price Too High To Pay
11. THE STRIKE - Mania
12. LEGALISE RAPE - Alconaut
13. THE 4 SKINS - Betrayed
14. PROLE - Working
15. THE GONADS - Eat The Rich

The seventh and final disc of this magnificent compilation box-set opens with the throaty punk angst of PROLE’s Chasing Rainbows and the late great Nidge with BLITZ on 4Q, then comes the hard-hitting THE STRIKE with Action Man, the ALASKA COWBOYS with the challenging Oral In Orleans, LORD WAISTRAL with the speed demon Reg And Ron, the Roi Pearce-inspired 4 SKINS on Betrayed, the disc, and the collection as a whole, closing on the coming together of that days all-star young punk vocalists - under the guise of SOBER CYRIL AND THE OI! OI! ALL STARS - with the brilliant Wine With Dinner.

Official 7CD Purchase Link

Title - Guano Junction
Artist - The Gong Farmers

For those unaware, The Gong Farmers are principally two musicians, Mark Graham (vocals, synths and guitar) and Andrew Keeling (classical guitar, piano, organ and flute), along with friends and colleagues.

Formed in 2018 following a visit to an Irish Castle, the band name was suggested by reading about the activities of the medieval gong farmers.

From 2020 to 2021 the band worked on a second album, Guano Junction. Continuing both the connective thematic elements and themes of love and loss found on the first album, Ship of Fools, released in 2019, Guano Junction explores darker areas of musical and human experience.

Alongside Mark Graham and Andrew Keeling (Robert Fripp, David Cross, Tim Bowness) it features David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator), Alex Che (Modern Eon, Che), Cliff Hewitt (Modern Eon, Apollo 440), Noko (Apollo 440), Martin Walker (Nth Ascension, Thruaglas Darkly), Brian Taylor (This Is Awkward, Thruaglas Darkly), Ricardo Odriozola (Judge Smith), Dutch percussionist Rene Van Commenee and guitarist Ben Keeling.

1. As Sunlight Falls 1
2. Drive
3. Pip, Squeak and Wilfred 1
4. Guano Junction 3
5. Evergreen
6. As Sunlight Falls 2
7. Vista De Toledo
8. Guano Junction 2
9. Wednesday Afternoon
10. Shave!
11. Winter Hill
12. Dark Skies
13. Pip, Squeak and Wilfred 2

This quite opulent new album open on the translucent caress of As Sunlight Falls 1 and the gently fervent Drive and backs those up seamlessly with the swirling cascade of introspective ambiance within Pip, Squeak and Wilfred 1, percussion and woodwind coming together, combining their funky, soulful grooves for Guano Junction 3, and then the hand of Mother Nature comes to the fore on the synth-waved Evergreen, which is backed by the pure, unadulterated violin elegance of the instrumental As Sunlight Falls 2.

Next up is the dulcet cinescape, complete with breathy vocals of Vista De Toledo (aka View of Toledo aka the ancient hill city of Toledo in Spain) and the achingly poignant arc and ebb of the instrumental Guano Junction 2, which are in turn followed by the shimmering funky twirls found within Wednesday Afternoon, the short, and jangly Shave!, the meditative, almost ethereal Winter Hill, the album rounding out on the pointed elegance of the highly atmospheric Dark Skies, coming to a close on the almost cinematic, pulsating, string-imbibed Pip, Squeak and Wilfred 2.

As far as the meaning behind the Gong Farmers new album, Andrew Keeling has this to say, “There is little actually visible but, as in Ship of Fools, there are allusions to love and loss lying just beneath the surface. The title was conceived by Mark mainly in response to Sue Keeling’s cover painting.”

Mark Graham also commented, “The title came in a flash. It’s perfect for a band of disparate and physically distanced musicians bringing all kinds of musical influences and trading as the Gong Farmers.”

Guano Junction actually came from songs and pieces which had lain dormant for some period of time. For example, before leaving the UK for Ireland, Andrew wrote and recorded several small-scale classical guitar loops and piano pieces.

Unlike some of his longer classical pieces, these small-scale pieces were difficult to place because, in effect, they were sonic sketches for something unknown. When Mark suggested that they might consider a second album, these pieces were some of the first to be utilized.

Says Andrew, “Mark usually writes the songs and I concentrate on the pieces but, unlike Ship of Fools, here there was an inversion. Also, we were most fortunate to have input from friends.”

“Alex Che and Cliff Hewitt – both formerly with Modern Eon – did a huge amount to make the album what it is. Noko 440 wrote a splendid string arrangement for Pip, Squeak and Wilfred – a song inspired by Mark’s chance discovery of his father’s war medals – and David Jackson, who’d played on Ship of Fools, provided fine sax playing.”

“My former band colleagues from Thruaglas Darkly, Martin Walker and Brian Taylor, gave their time selflessly and Ricardo Odriozola, Rene Van Commenee and my grandson, Ben Keeling, wrote and played on other pieces.”

“As previously implied, nor is it just Mark and I who are the writers: we encourage all those collaborating at any one time to have a free hand in the writing process.”

In the end, the duo had more songs/music than they used.

In closing Andrew has this to say about the album, “Beyond the general concepts of love and loss, each listener is likely to project their own meaning onto the music. Besides, each song concerns itself with a different subject.”

Mark adds, “I’d like to thank listeners for their time and attention and I hope our music rewards repeated listening and finds a place in their hearts.”

Mark is currently writing new songs with a view to recording demos to present to the others for a possible third album.

Official Purchase Link

Official Website

The Gong Farmers @ Facebook

The Gong Farmers - Dark Skies [Official Music Video]

The Gong Farmers - Drive [Official Music Video]

Title - Music Is Our Friend Live In Washington DC & Albany
Artist - King Crimson

For those unaware, named after the tour from which the performances were taken, Music Is Our Friend is an official bootleg featuring all of King Crimson’s final performance in North America in Washington, D.C. in September, 2021.

This 2CD set is completed with four pieces from the first concert of the tour’s second leg in Albany. Taken together, these tracks represent both a beginning and an end of a tour that took place despite almost insurmountable issues.

CD 1:
1. Introductory Soundscape
2. The Hell Hounds Of Krim
3. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I
4. Pictures Of A City
5. The Court Of The Crimson King
6. Red
7. Tony Cadenza Deals It Slitheryacious-To-The-Max
8. Neurotica
9. One More Red Nightmare
10. Indiscipline

This magnificent 2CD live set opens on a musically layered audio introduction from Robert Fripp entitled Introductory Soundscape and then launches into the extended drum work of The Hell Hounds Of Krim which is then backed by the progression of abstract, mysterious percussion, followed by roiling, growling, evil guitar, followed by screaming proto-metal that is Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I, the gently frantic Pictures Of A City (which was inspired by the view of New York traffic during King Crimson’s first US tour) and then comes The Court Of The Crimson King (a track influenced by old world and olde English folklore, and the culmination of fantasies and imagined dreams by Fripp).

Next up is an instrumental piece scored for electric guitar (multi-tracked in three layers), bass guitar and drums, Red, and that is in turn followed by the short bass-laden solo moment, aptly entitled Tony Cadenza Deals It Slitheryacious-To-The-Max, the mysterious ebbs and flows of Neurotica (which shares its title with a Beat-era magazine of the same name), the first disc rounding out with the upbeat and groove-laden One More Red Nightmare (which is also notable for being the first King Crimson track to feature lyrics written by bassist and lead vocalist John Wetton), closing on the art rock of Indiscipline.

CD 2:
1. Epitaph
2. Radical Action II
3. Level Five
4. Starless
5. 21st Century Schizoid Man
6. Tony Cadenza Serves It Piping Hot
7. Discipline
8. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II
9. Islands

The second disc opens on the heavy use of the Mellotron within the simply divine orchestrations of Epitaph and the hard, heavy rock tones of the instrumental Radical Action II and backs those up seamlessly with the free-wheeling, fly away spirit of another instrumental in the form of Level Five, then come the mellotron strings, electric guitar and saxophone notes that introduce a vocal segment in conventional verse-chorus structure within the 15 minute opus Starless, and then the heavily distorted vocals, instrumental middle section (called Mirrors), prog rock entwinned with abstract free jazz of the 14 minute 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Up next is the oh-so qeitly sculputred, bas playing finese of the short, but ever so sweet Tony Cadenza Serves It Piping Hot which is in turn followed by the adventurous, experimental sounds within Discipline, the second disc rounding out on the more straightforward and riff-focused second of the series, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II, coming to a righteous close on the pastoral, mellow, and quiet balladry (the lyrics talk of a peaceful island) of Islands; and which distinguishes it from most everything else they ever put out, in truth.

Originally scheduled for 2020, postponed for a full year because of the pandemic, the tour began July in Florida as the latest Covid wave hit and the band moved across the country in a tour bus bubble.

Following a two-week break due to scheduling conflicts, they returned to the road again, with the Zappa Band appearing nightly before Crimson.

Now facing gigs that had to be moved due to extreme weather, with one venue flooded a day before a concert, an open-air venue in New York transferred to the more familiar Beacon Theatre, and even a band member flown to hospital via helicopter, King Crimson faced a range of challenging conditions. Happily, the band member was fully recovered and no gigs were missed despite the array of setbacks and obstacles.

By the time King Crimson reached Washington, the band was in ferocious form with a powerful, energetic set with some arrangements reworked and differing from previous tours. Featuring a restored middle section of “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part One” that had not been played since 1973, substantial keyboard arrangements, Tony Levin on upright bass during “Neurotica” giving the piece an extra swing, there’s an emotional set-closer, Starless and an immensely powerful “21st Century Schizoid Man” as an encore.

King Crimson completed their tour in style and to much acclaim from fans and critics alike. As Robert Fripp notes in his diary entry included in the notes: “David (Singleton, KC manager/producer), pointed out that the very first piece KC played in the US, at Godard College, Montpelier, Vermont on October 29th. 1969, was the same piece as completed KC’s 52 years – 21CSM”.

In contrast to the Washington show, the four performances from the ‘Friends and Family’ concert in late August 2021 at The Egg in Albany, opening show of the second leg of the tour and the same venue where the current band played its first US gig in 2014, have a more intimate feel. Bringing the second disc with a poignant performance of “Islands” – perhaps the best recording of this song by this band, David Singleton, who also prepared all the audio for this release, thought it one of the best sets the band played on this or previous tours.

The release features photos from the concerts, sleeve notes by David Singleton and diary entries for the concert days from Robert Fripp in a 24-page accompanying booklet.

Official Purchase Link

King Crimson Website

King Crimson @ Facebook

King Crimson @ Twitter

King Crimson @ Instagram

Title - Love Of The Common People: Expanded [2CD]
Artist - Nicky Thomas

For those unaware, originally released in 1970, in the wake of Nicky Thomas’s hugely popular seminal version of Love Of The Common People, the singer’s album of the same name remains one of the most popular long players from the Trojan Records catalogue.

Now, over half a century since the LP saw issue, the collection finally receives the deluxe expanded treatment it has long since merited, with its 13 tracks bolstered by the remainder of Thomas’s recordings for Joe Gibbs, as well as a plethora of relevant additional material, including alternate mixes, DJ cuts and instrumental versions.

With 21 tracks new to CD, Love Of The Common People: Deluxe Expanded Edition [2CD] is a collector’s dream and a must for all fans of classic Jamaican sounds from the golden age of reggae.

CD 1:
1. God Bless The Children – Nicky Thomas
2. Rainy Night In Georgia – Nicky Thomas
3. If I Had A Hammer – Nicky Thomas
4. Turn Back The Hands Of Time – Nicky Thomas
5. Doing The Moonwalk – Nicky Thomas
6. Love Of The Common People – Nicky Thomas
7. Mama’s Song – Nicky Thomas
8. Have A Little Faith – Nicky Thomas
9. Don’t Touch Me – Nicky Thomas
10. Lonely Feelin’ – Nicky Thomas
11. I Who Have Nothing – Nicky Thomas
12. Let It Be – Nicky Thomas
13. Red Eye – Nicky Thomas
14. Danzella – Nicky Thomas [Bonus Track]
15. Caeser – Lloyd Willis & The Destroyers [Bonus Track]*
16. Denver – Nicky Thomas [Bonus Track]*
17. I Can’t See Nobody – Nicky Thomas [Bonus Track]*
18. Schoolgirl (alt. take) – Nicky Thomas [Bonus Track]*
19. Schoolgirl (Version) – Nicky Thomas [Bonus Track]*
20. Leaving The Ball – Nicky Thomas [Bonus Track]*
21. Sweep The Streets – Neville Hinds [Bonus Track]*
22. Ten Feet Tall – Lizzy [Bonus Track]*
* New to CD

CD 2:
1. Bless The Children (Ja mix) – Nicky Thomas *
2. Round The Clock – The Jogibs All Stars
3. Children Blessing – Lizzy & Nicky Thomas
4. God Bless The Children Version – Joe Gibbs & The Professionals *
5. Musical Excursion – Lizzy *
6. Rainy Night In Georgia Version – Joe Gibbs & The Professionals *
7. The Gift Of God – Lizzy *
8. If I Had A Hammer (Ja mix) – Nicky Thomas *
9. Hammering – Cat Campbell & Nicky Thomas
10. Medicine Man – The Love Generation
11. Turn Back The Hands Of Time (Ja mix) – Nicky Thomas *
12. The Raper – Lloyd Willis & The Destroyers
13. Turn Back The Hands Of Time Version – Joe Gibbs & The Professionals *
14. Love Of The Common People (Ja mix) – Nicky Thomas
15. Common People Reggae – Winston Wright & The Destroyers *
16. Mama’s Song (Ja mix) – Nicky Thomas *
17. Channel 7 – Prince William
18. Faith Version – Joe Gibbs & The Professionals *
19. Don’t Touch Me (long version) – Nicky Thomas *
20. Doctor Feelgood – Sir Lord Comic
21. Let It Be (take 1) – Nicky Thomas *
22. Red Eye – Nicky Thomas And Delores
* New to CD

In the mid-seventies, Jamaican music was considered to be ‘en vogue’ with world music followers, which was probably due to the fleeting major label interest at this time.

Through the punk/reggae connection, the uninitiated discovered already established artists such as Culture, the Mighty Diamonds and the Gladiators. While this new following championed the major label signings they unbelievably dismissed other recognised acts such as Desmond Dekker, Dandy Livingstone and Nicky Thomas as being too commercial!

What the new soul rebels did not realise was that in buying in to the major label signings they were subscribing to the economics of commercialism. They wanted to champion a cause, and songs about the oppressed suited their needs, so if a song did not mention Babylon, Marcus Garvey or Haile Selassie it was deemed ‘pop reggae’.

The grassroots supporters watched with amusement as the new followers began to realize that Jamaica was not a third world backwater and that the African Diaspora were able to speak for themselves without the patronizing support of new liberals.

They were also unaware that the ‘pop reggae’ performer, Nicky Thomas had worked as a laborer on the same building site as the credible Gladiators and played no small part in launching their career in music.

Nicky, like many before him, had come from country and was employed as a labourer where the up-and-coming Gladiators were collectively employed as masons. During his working hours Nicky often sang the song, now recognized as the Gladiators Studio One classic, ‘Hello Carol’, which became their anthem as they re-recorded the song several times throughout their career.

Nicky told Carl Gayle of Black Music that he wrote and taught the lead singer, Albert Griffiths the lyrics to the song which, when he heard the Gladiators perform it on the radio, inspired him to pursue a career in music.

In the summer of 1970, Nicky’s interpretation of the Everly Brothers’ ‘Love Of The Common People’ took him to number nine in the UK pop chart, leading to a European tour.

While the Everly Brothers originally recorded the song in 1967, it was the Winstons‘ version that inspired Nicky, and his rendering in turn influenced Eric Donaldson to record the song and Lloyd Charmers to release a risqué adaptation as ‘Free Grind Ticket’.

Following the success of a subsequent tour, Nicky decided to stay in the UK to promote his album debut, ‘Love Of The Common People’ (TBL 143), that featured tracks previously recorded with Joe Gibbs in Jamaica.

Ergo, this newly expanded and deluxe 2CD from Cherry Red is as good as it gets for this album, and a massively welcoming musical open door to anybody who wants to know more about the man himself.

What you get here is the original Love Of The Common People album that forms the first 13 tracks of CD 1 to this two-disc set and which now features an extra nine cuts that continue to showcase who the man was and why he was so widely regarded within the business.

Containing over the two discs just about everything that Nicky ever recorded with the aforementioned Joe Gibbs all lovingly spread over the rest of the collection, it also comes complete with a beautiful color fold-out booklet chock full of wonderful photographs of Nicky’s Jamaican singles and reproductions of contemporaneous articles from the UK music press and more.

Sadly, he disappeared from the music scene and, reportedly, committed suicide in 1990 which may well be a rather tragic note to end with here, but let me add that over these two discs - and, perhaps, even more so on CD 2 which itself houses a plethora of 22 incredible tracks - getting to know the musical genius has never been any easier than simply buying this fantastic new release from Cherry Red Records, trust me!

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - Wormwood Box: Curious Stories From The Bible
Artist - The Residents

For those unaware, as the second Millennium AD drew to a close, The Residents began to take stock on a couple of thousand years of reasonably fruitful human endeavor.

One text, they felt, had inescapably set the tone and dominated the narrative throughout the Western world for most of that period, often clouding the view as they looked back.

Sure enough, The Bible, Testaments Old and New, seemed like fertile ground for a confused, anonymous band approaching their fourth decade.

Throughout 1998 and 1999, The Residents set about writing, recording and extensively touring a set of songs based around some of the more curious, unsettling and downright messed up stories they found upon revisiting their old Sunday School Bibles, and present here the results of those industrious years.

Complete with demos and sketches, two full live recordings, a live-in-the- studio reworking and the usual assorted ephemera plus later live recordings, the Wormwood Box – Curious Stories From The Bible, pREServed Edition (9CD) showcases a project the band still think of very fondly, and have often revisited.

Join us and marvel as the Eyeball Oddballs somehow cram murder, rape, incest, vengeance, slaughter and, erm, circumcision into a radio friendly pop format! Or so it says here!

Remastered, expanded, and pREServed for future generations, this is the latest in a series of archival Residents’ re-issues that will continue throughout 2022 as the band celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

Look out for forthcoming deluxe vinyl re-issues of the classic 1970s albums, a brand new OST recording for a forthcoming film and further pREServed releases as the year unfolds.

The Residents will also be touring extensively so why not go keep them company one evening when they come to your town.

CD 1: Wormwood
1. In The Beginning
2. Fire Fall
3. They Are The Meat
4. Melancholy Clumps
5. How To Get A Head
6. Cain And Abel
7. Mr Misery
8. Tent Peg In The Temple
9. God’s Magic Finger
10. Spilling The Seed
11. Dinah And The Unclean Skin
12. Bathsheba Bathes
13. Bridegroom Of Blood
14. Hanging By His Hair
15. The Seven Ugly Cows
16. Burn Baby Burn
18. I Hate Heaven
19. Judas Saves
20. Revelation

Like the Residents’ 1988 album God in Three Persons, which is formally an opera of the new narrative type with lots of rhythmic speaking and chorus responses somewhat in the style of the classic Southern talking blues, this wonderful piece in 20 parts is also a commentary on the more bizarre imagery and smarmy, truly uneasy emotions from the Bible.

While being full of irony and postmodernism, it also reaches for that deep kind of soul-shaking experience that is the true wellspring of religious awe before the lawgivers arrive in town.

Just in case you are unaware of what to expect, even after all these years, allow me to enlighten you somewhat: In the Beginning opens with a terrifying animalistic roar, thunder crashes, weird electronics, unresolved chords, and your general universal chaos.

Late-night desert sounds and Middle Eastern scales gradually take over. Fire Fall features Lot as an old man recalling the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, with squeaking synth and thick, string-like electronics (Fire fell from the sky, tears fell from my eyes).

They Are the Meat describes the odd visions experienced by Ezekiel as he is allowed to eat only bread and must sleep on his side for 13 months. And, amongst other, How to Get a Head depicts heavily punctuated music to relate Salome’s psychotic obsessions with John the Baptist’s severed head.

And so forth. You’re welcome!

CD 2: Early Worms
1. Waterfall
2. Squid
3. Sleepy Time
4. SilverShield
5. Sausage City
6. Sassy Bassy
7. Racking
8. Possum
9. Pickle
10. NutraSweet
11. Movie
12. Michael
13. Log Dam
14. Indo
15. Humer
16. France
17. Earth Man
18. Dooky Town
19. Choppy
20. Chihuahua
21. Cabbage
22. Beta
23. Beach
24. Anything
25. All Flash
26. Adenoids

(All tracks previously unreleased)

CD 3: Early Worms II
1. In The Beginning Sketch
2. SKull2 Un-American Band
3. SkullBiz Sketch
4. Just A Whore (SkullBiz)
5. HeadSketch
6. Job Meets The Monsters
7. Abe Medley Sketch
8 .King Of Kings Sketch
9. King Of Kings (Francis)
10. Jesus Saves (Version 1)
11. Jesus Saves (Version 2)

(All tracks previously unreleased)

This third box set in the group’s comprehensive pREServed series of expanded reissues (following Mole Box in 2019 and Cube-E Box in 2020), also includes two discs of the early Residents finding their collective stage feet and vocal entities.

An interesting catalog of early, and previosuly unreleased stuff is provided here for the fans, combining stand alone bits, sketches, and different versions of well known items too, which all come together to showcase an art-form band growing with confidence with each and every word spoken.

Chock full of weird and wonderful tracks from the enigmatic art collective, to my mind and ear, of course, they include bouts of generally quite upbeat, notably wacky instrumentation aplenty, which obviously then makes for a strange juxtaposition with its subject matter for the listener.

Nonetheless, and as one should fully expect, there are a fair amount of catchy moments on these early captures, all brought forth with an infectious vocal phrasing that is simply bound to stick in your head !

CD 4: Wormwood At The Fillmore 1998 (Act I)
1. Mr Skull Superstar
2. In the Beginning
4. How to Get A Head
5. Hanging By His Hair
6. Mr Misery
7. Tent Peg in the Temple
8. God’s Magic Finger
9. Dinah And The Unclean Skin
10. Cain and Abel
11. Burn Baby Burn
12. Fire Fall

(All tracks previously unreleased)

CD 5: Wormwood At The Fillmore 1998 (Act II)
1. The Seven Ugly Cows
2. Melancholy Lumps
3. Bathsheba Bathes
4. Bridegroom Of Blood
5. They Are The Meat
6. I Hate Heaven
7. Judas Saves
8. Revelation
9. Smelly Tongues
10. Moisture
11. Picnic Boy
12. Walter Westinghouse

(All tracks previously unreleased)

A quite sonically magnificent, and also previously unreleased show in two wondrous acts from 1998, again, for my money, and having now listened to the recordings twice through (back-to-back), the music is simply symphonic live; and yet still just as lovingly twisted and self-indulgent as you could ever have hoped it to be.

It is also one of the tightest live shows I think they performed, the first act alone bringing forth such influentially mesmerizing tracks as Fire Fall, Mr. Misery, Burn Baby Burn and God’s Magic Finger.

Combined with the second act, and thus now taken as a whole, these are classics along the lines of The Aging Musician or Lottie the Human Log, to me, and the second disc also keeps the peddle to the absurd metal of art-rock with tracks such as The Seven Ugly Cows, Melancholy Lumps, They Are The Meat, and of course, both Smelly Tongues and the set closer Walter Westinghouse.

CD 6: Roadworms
1. Un-American Band
2. How To Get A Head (Road)
3. Hanging By His Hair (Road)
4. God’s Magic Finger (Road)
5. Tent Peg In The Temple (Road)
6. Fire Fall (Road)
7. Cain And Abel (Road)
8. Dinah And The Unclean Skin (Road)
9. Abraham (Road)
10. Burn Baby Burn (Road)
11. Judas Saves (Road)

While many do not consider Roadworms to be a proper album, it most definitely is a strong enough work to stand apart from Wormwood, the studio album that spawned this later live session, as we now know.

Performed after The Residents had been on tour for some time, the songs contained on Roadworms are, for the most part, drastically reworked from the original Wormwood versions.

What is particularly interesting is the predominance of electric guitar, which adds an urgent, ragged texture to the music. The vocalizations of Mr. Skull and Molly Harvey are right on note and far more expressive than on the studio versions.

And, for my money, a few of the standout tracks are Hanging by his Hair, Burn Baby Burn, and Abraham. I mean, sh*t, these alone are worth the purchase of the Box-Set itself!

CD 7: Wormwood: Live In Europe 1999 (Act I)
1. In The Beginning
2. Welcome To Wormwood
3. Mr Skull’s Rave 1
4. How To Get A Head
5. Mr Misery
6. Tent Peg In The Temple
7. Mr Skull’s Rave 2
8. God’s Magic Finger
9. Dinah And The Unclean Skin
10. Cain And Abel
11. Mr Skull’s Rave 3
12. Burn Baby Burn
13. Fire Fall

CD 8: Wormwood: Live In Europe 1999 (Act II)
1. King Of Kings
2. Skull Prayer
3. Mr Skull’s Rave 4
4. Abraham
5. Bridegroom Of Blood
6. Mr Skull’s Rave 5
7. David
8. Judas Saves 9. Old Time Religion
10. Jesus Loves Me

Now, for my money, this live recording, as opposed to the aforementioned Wormwood At The Fillmore 1998, brings a new dimension to the told tale they were preaching, with enhanced storytelling and some significant creative changes in the music.

Going further out in the live version they throw a hodgepodge of traditional hymns, Sunday school rhymes, and even a wee bit of Jesus Christ Superstar into the mix, as well as reworking most of the tracks into a more ominous, and much more resonant, timbre.

Highlights for me include Burn Baby Burn, sung by Molly Harvey, in a slow dirge like version that makes you feel the terror and remorse of being burned alive (unlike the original, which had a much more upbeat, almost catchy refrain), Fire Fall in which the singing Resident makes Lot’s struggle at Sodom and Gomorrah sound heart-wrenching, yet with a tinge of regret.

It also features the hysterical (as in insane, not funny) rants of Mr. Skull as he prefaces the tales, bringing out the major themes, so someone not familiar with the storyline can follow.

Shortcomings would be some of the sound quality, especially in the dialogue of Mr. Skull which is muffled at times through his mask, but lest that distract us from what is, and what always will be, a simply magnificent live performance captured of a band at their, some might say, peak of art-rock dominance.

CD 9: Woodworms
1. In Between Screams
2. Nober
3. Bridegroom Of Blood (SF, 2001)
4. Burn Baby Burn (SF, 2001)
5. They Are The Meat/Mr Misery (Australia, 2005)
6. Burn Baby Burn (Australia, 2005)
7. They Are The Meat (Oslo, 2011)
8. Hanging By His Hair (Munich, 2013)
9. Bathsheba Bathes (Munich, 2013)
10. They Are The Meat (NYC, 2014)
11. Judas Saves (Laussanne, 2014)

(Tracks 7-11 previously unreleased)

This 9CD Box-Set closes on Woodworms, which features 11 tracks, the last five previously unreleased and just ripe for our ears to cock a listen to.

As we all know, throughout the group’s existence, the individual members have ostensibly attempted to work anonymously, preferring to have attention focused on their art.

But here on this last disc, they most certainly allow their live stage show music to take the lead, with stand out tracks to me the riveting duo of They Are The Meat/Mr Misery and Burn Baby Burn from Australia, 2005 and the pairing of unreleased tracks from Germany, Hanging By His Hair and Bathsheba Bathes (Munich, 2013).

Well known for surrealistic lyrics and sound, with a disregard for conventional music composition, The Residents are truly found to be on top form here in these latter years live recordings and thus these last recordings round out this Box-Set perfectly. Just magnificently, I might add!

Official 9CD Purchase Link

Title - Le Coq Records Presents: The Jazz All Stars, Vol 2
Artist - Various

For those unaware, Le Coq Records Presents The Jazz All Stars Vol. 2 is a brand new release which offers a vibrant calling card for a label quickly taking its place at the vanguard of modern jazz.

Indeed, The Jazz All-Stars Vol. 2 shows a little of everything Le Coq is about, from its compositional temperament to the high sonic quality, says label founder Piero Pata.

There’s quite a mix of sounds and styles, and I feel that the album really shows off the talents of our wonderful artists. John Patitucci holds everything together magnificently so that Andy James’ gorgeous vocals and the dazzling solos of Chris Potter, Rick Margitza, and Terell Stafford - just to name a few - can shine.

Much of the roster on the new release has returned from Volume 1, including Cunliffe and Beasley; bassists Patitucci and Chris Colangelo; drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Marvin ’Smitty’ Smith; percussionist Alex Acuña; trumpeter Terell Stafford; saxophonist Margitza; guitarist Jake Langley and vocalist James, among others.

Furthermore, Volume 2 bolsters the line-up with such heavy hitters as saxophonists Chris Potter and Bob Sheppard; bassist Ben Williams; drummers Marcus Gilmore and Terreon Gully; trombonist Michael Dease; keyboardist Jon Cowherd; guitarists Russell Malone and Paul Jackson Jr.; and trumpeter Rashawn Ross.

This staggering stable of in-demand artists harkens back to the music’s golden age, a time when (jazz) giants walked the earth and crossed paths in myriad combinations under the auspices of their shared labels. Pata conceived of that model when he dreamed of gathering the greatest modern musicians to record for Le Coq.

Like its predecessor, The Jazz All-Stars Vol. 2 features the label’s unique take on some classic favorites, both arranged by the Grammy-winning Bill Cunliffe and featuring the entrancing vocals of Andy James.

The Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach standard Yesterdays is given a bold treatment perfect for James’ unsentimental nostalgia, highlighted by an eloquent Chris Potter solo and Horace Silver’s Doodlin’ is propelled by the robust swing of bassist Chris Colangelo and drummer Marvin ’Smitty’ Smith, wonderfully matched by James’ sassy playfulness.

1. Whatever you Say
2. Witches
3. Yesterday’s
4. The Before Times
5. Freddie’s Blues
6. Doodlin’
7. Balinda
8. Around the Corner
9. Danse

This nine-track collection, also the first of this year’s new releases from Le Coq Records, is one of the first great jazz records of 2022, of that have no doubt, my friends.

Indeed, the performances here all allow the artists present to add their own touches, unique flairs even to the record’s overall presentation with each one of the tracks having been expertly sequenced to ensure a quite stunning overall musical experience.

The compilation opens on the bewitchingly fervent Whatever you Say and some free flowing ambiance within Witches and backs those up seamlessly with the soulful lounge appeal of Yesterday’s and then comes the superbly sculptured The Before Times.

Having already released The Jazz All Stars Vol. 1 this time last year, those who purchased that volume already know that this presentation is a strong set of tracks that jazz aficionados of all walks of life will enjoy from front to back.

Proving that point, it continues onward with one of my own personal favorites here on the second volume, the funky finger-snappin’ rhythms of Freddie’s Blues which is in turn followed by another jazz doozy in the form of the late night, underground hipsway of Doodlin’ and then we get the freeform jam of Balinda, the set rounding out when some emphatically gorgeous notes of desire come together within Around the Corner, closing out on the more than righteous, and intensely impassioned Danse.

Amazon Purchase Link

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