Looking Forward – The Roots of Big Star – Featuring Chris Bell (Omnivore Recordings) (review)

Much has been written about the brilliance of the Memphis band, Big Star. Yet, they didn’t just appear out of nowhere; like all bands, their collective musicians developed over time. Free Again: the 1970 Sessions (read our review here) concentrated on the pre-Big Star work of Alex Chilton. Looking Forward – the Roots of Big Star showcases the group’s other frontman and initial songwriter, Chris Bell, in a revealing new compilation from Omnivore Recordings. Continue reading Looking Forward – The Roots of Big Star – Featuring Chris Bell (Omnivore Recordings) (review)

Davina & the Vagabonds – Oddbody’s, Dayton, OH – July, 17, 2017

A little bit of New Orleans by way of Minnesota arrived in Dayton Saturday night in the form of Davina & the Vagabonds, bringing their-juiced up blend of jazz & blues to Oddbody’s. Led by singer/pianist Davina Sowers, who possesses a monster of a voice capable of incredible range and depth, she was flanked by trumpet, trombone, standup bass and drums.

A cover of Louis Jordan’s jump blues’ “Knock Me a Kiss” got things rolling, allowing Sowers to inject plenty of humor in the proceedings right from the git go. Things immediately got darker with their original “Black Cloud” (title cut off their fantastic 2011 CD), before again switching gears for the decidedly more rosy “Sunshine” (title cut off their followup, from 2014). Continue reading Davina & the Vagabonds – Oddbody’s, Dayton, OH – July, 17, 2017

John Gary Williams – self titled (Stax/Concord Music Group)

Truly a lost gem of classic soul – as relevant today as ever before

Few people heard this fantastic album from former Mad Lads’ vocalist John Gary Williams when it was recorded 44 years ago. Full of lush strings, slow-jam grooves, and psychedelic guitar flourishes, this criminally-ignored LP is elevated even more by Williams’ soaring vocals. It’s a great record, from start to finish, and it should’ve been a hit.

As with most of the output released on Stax Records in the mid-1970’s, it suffered from poor distribution and neglect at the hands of CBS, who made a deal and then quickly lost interest in the legendary Memphis label – essentially marooning great albums like this to the warehouse, and preventing them from getting into key markets like Detroit and Chicago. Now, four decades later, John Gary Williams is finally getting its due as part of Stax Records’ 60th anniversary celebration, a joint venture between Concord Music and Rhino Records. Continue reading John Gary Williams – self titled (Stax/Concord Music Group)

Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane – The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (Craft Recordings) (review)

Finally a packaging that is worthy of the phenomenal music housed within.

Touching a button on your phone and immediately getting music leaves you wanting more. It’s like going to a fancy steakhouse and just getting the steak. It’s the reason you came, right? But, it’s the potatoes, steamed vegetables and glass of wine that enhance the flavors of that steak. Streaming music is very much like that – you get the music, but where’s the liner notes, photos, front and back cover, and essays, to help elevate the music?

No record company is more aware of this fact than the newly-minted Craft Recordings, a subsidiary of Concord Music, run by veteran Sig Sigworth (who’s held titles at great labels like Rhino and IRS). Their maiden release is one sure to turn heads – Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane – The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings, a 3-LP set, which comes cleverly housed in a package that replicates an expanding file folder with postage information on the outer cover. Your friends may think you’ve been given some sort of super-important document (and, they’d be right!). Continue reading Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane – The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (Craft Recordings) (review)

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 50th Anniversary Edition

There’s a brand-new, 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles’ classic album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that’s been remixed by Giles Martin, and just issued from Apple Records. You might ask “why is this necessary”? Because –

The original stereo mix of Sgt. Pepper sucked.

Yes, the most common version of what many people consider the greatest album of all-time actually isn’t very good. Continue reading The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 50th Anniversary Edition

Cheap Trick – The Epic Archive Vol 1 (1975-1979)

Through demos, outtakes and live tracks, an alternate history of this revered band

Cheap Trick took their unique blend of power pop, metal, punk and glam, and went on to become one of the most influential bands in all of rock. While numerous “best ofs” will give you the hits, The Epic Archive: Vol 1 (1975-1979), a new collection from Real Gone Music, shows the path the Rockford, Illinois quartet took to get there. Continue reading Cheap Trick – The Epic Archive Vol 1 (1975-1979)

#304 – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull – The String Quartets

Jethro Tull The String Quartets
New album from Jethro Tull

Odd Fact: Ian Anderson has had a #1 album every 22 years in the US

Jethro Tull has released over 30 albums in their 50-plus year history, making them a staple on rock radio all over the world, with songs like “Aqualung,” “Living in the Past,” and “Bungle in the Jungle.”

The band has never been afraid to take chances, and their latest project is a perfect example. Jethro Tull – The String Quartets, is a collaboration with the Carducci String Quartet. It’s an opportunity to take many of the most recognizable tracks in the band’s catalog and present them in a classical setting.

This left turn has proven quite successful, as the album has recently hit #1 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart. It’s also the first Tull album to come out exclusively through Pledge Music.

We welcome back to the program Tull frontman Ian Anderson, who talks about the inspiration for this unique project, why they chose to record the album in old churches, and what to expect from an upcoming tour. Plus, Anderson talks about the latest Jethro Tull album to get the deluxe reissue treatment, Songs From the Wood.

Honeybeat – Groovy 60s Girl Pop

Star Trek’s Lt. Uhuru and Aretha’s sister are just two surprises waiting for you in this excellent collection of lost gems

The early days of rock n’ roll were dominated by guys, while the girl-led music was viewed as merely “cute” and “throwaway pop.”  Over time though, the ladies’ contributions have been reassessed.  Now, girl group fans are some of the most rabid in all of popular music.  Honeybeat – Groovy 60’s Girl-Pop, just released from Real Gone Music, uncovers 19 obscure tracks which add to the canon of this much-revered sub-genre. Continue reading Honeybeat – Groovy 60s Girl Pop

#303 – Jason Falkner – Make it Be

Jason Falkner
Jason Falkner

Pristine power pop and low fi collide

Multi instrumentalist Jason Falkner played in the Three O’Clock, Jellyfish and the Grays before embarking on a solo career in the mid-90’s. He’s also played with numerous artists, including Beck, Air and even Paul McCartney.

Falkner’s latest project is an unlikely collaboration with him and low fi pioneer R. Stevie Moore. The new album, Make It Be, meets their two styles midway, with songs mostly written by Moore, featuring backing mostly by Falkner. He talks about how the pairing came about and how both of them chose which songs to record.  Falkner also addresses his successful Bedtime with the Beatles series, and how soon we’ll see a new Falkner solo album.

#302 – Chris Stamey – Big Star’s Third Live

Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a concert tribute to Big Star’s swan song

For an album that was deemed unreleasable at the time of recording and has never had a proper running order, Big Star’s Third has certainly gotten its due. It’s now considered one of the greatest albums of all time. After the sudden passing of Big Star frontman Alex Chilton in 2010, an all-star group of musicians got together to pay tribute, including Mike Mills of REM, Mitch Easter of Let’s Active, Chris Stamey of the dB’s and members of the Posies. They found that the magic they created was worth continuing.

After playing live shows all over the world, they decided to document things with Thank You Friends – Big Star’s Third Live…and More, a DVD/CD combo just released by Concord Bicycle Music. To talk about it, we welcome in the musical director of the project, Chris Stamey. He also talks about playing in a post-Big Star band with Chilton and what led to him releasing Chris Bell’s single “I Am the Cosmos” on his own label in 1978.

Pin It on Pinterest