Various Artists – Stax ’68: A Memphis Story (Boxset) (Stax)
To say that 1968 was a bad year for Stax Records might be the understatement of the year. The label, known for releasing it’s own brand of southern soul, was still reeling from the loss of their biggest and brightest star, Otis Redding, killed in a plane crash the previous month. Then, in April, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in the same Memphis hotel used by many Stax artists for meetings. Finally, the company was informed mid-year that, in signing a distribution deal with the much-bigger Atlantic Records, they basically forfeited the rights to their entire back catalog of songs and many of their artists.
There’s more than enough excuses in the previous paragraph to close up shop. Yet, Stax Records carried on. Stax ’68: A Memphis Story is a five-disc boxset that delves deep into that fateful year 50 years ago, containing every A and B-side of each single the label released in 1968, along with a booklet, detailing the chaos that was going on, inside and outside the walls of this pioneering record label. Continue reading Stax ’68 – A Tale of Triumph Over Tragedy (review)→
Canadian guitarist Colin James had a breakout hit album with his last release, 2016’s Blue Highways. And, while I liked that album, I think his brand-new record, Miles to Go, is better in every way, and should earn James another truckload of accolades.
First, the tracks on this new album just sound bigger. The playing is tighter – he’s kept the same guys intact for some time now and their playing has definitely gelled. The guitar is grittier (there is a picture of a Sears-Roebuck Silvertone on the inner sleeve, and it don’t get any more grittier than that!). James’ singing, while always decent, seems to have taken on a more assured quality. Continue reading Colin James – Miles to Go (review)→
The Doors – Waiting For the Sun (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Rhino Records)
Band’s only #1 album with improved sound, rare mixes and live tracks
Things were not well when the Doors went in to record their third album in 1968. Their first two records (The Doors and Strange Days) were built on repertoire the band had been playing live for years, but that well had just about run dry. Plus, leader Jim Morrison was becoming increasingly erratic as his substance abuse ramped up, often not showing up to recording sessions. Under these adverse conditions, the band completed Waiting For the Sun, recently reissued in a 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition from Rhino Records.
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Greatest Hits (Craft Recordings)
Best-selling album is back in print after many years
One of the key elements of throwing a good party is the music. Are you going to subject your guests to ads every three songs on a lousy streaming service, or are you going to grab a turntable and show just how cool you really are? While Moondance and Pet Sounds are obvious choices for spins, you really should choose something more exotic, yet familiar. That’s where Greatest Hits from Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 comes in. This great album, criminally out of print for decades, is finally made available again by the fine folks at Craft Recordings. Continue reading Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Greatest Hits – Back on Vinyl→
Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains the Same (Swan Song/Warner) (remastered)
The black sheep of the Zeppelin cannon gets the deluxe edition treatment, but – what’s wrong with it?
There’s a reason that The Song Remains the Same is the last album in the Led Zeppelin catalog to get remastered. The band has been very frank in their opinion of their original live album; Robert Plant even calling it “a load of rubbish” at one point. It was recorded at the end of a long tour in 1973 and issued largely without the band’s consent in time for the Christmas holiday of 1976. So is it really that bad? Continue reading Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains the Same (review)→
Ian Anderson & Jethro Tull – Rose Music Center, Huber Heights, OH 9/5/18
Ahh, everyone seems to be celebrating anniversaries as of late. Yet, most bands are using them simply as a not-so-obvious excuse to sell more tickets. Meanwhile, Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull is utilizing their 50th anniversary to actually celebrate their band’s rich legacy. During this tour, the band is digging deep into their catalog to pull out some lesser-known material, accompanied by a treasure trove of audio/visuals, both past and present. Continue reading Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull – Rose Music Center – 9/5/18→
The Cure – Mixed Up and Torn Down (Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
In the Aftermath of Their Biggest Success, the Cure Turn to Remixes
In October of 1989, The Cure found themselves sitting at #2 on the Billboard Pop Charts in the US with their hit, “Lovesong.” Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Janet Jackson and New Kids on the Block sure made for strange bedfellows, and no one is prepared for that kind of runaway success, even if the band had already been together for over ten years at that point. Rather than trying to immediately followup this success, leader Robert Smith came up with a novel idea: remix some of the band’s catalog. Thus, the original, 1990 album Mixed Up was born. Continue reading The Cure – Mixed Up (Deluxe Edition) – Shaken AND Stirred (review)→
The finest collection of the band’s music ever assembled
Jethro Tull’s music has been compiled many times, but 50 For 50 is the most complete overview of their entire career ever put together. Previous collections, like 20 Years of Tull and the 25th Anniversary box set have added unreleased tracks, live cuts and alternate mixes, along with their common material. 50 For 50’s one goal is to bring together the best of Jethro Tull over its 5-decade career, and it succeeds very well. Continue reading Jethro Tull – 50 For 50 – 3 Discs of the Best (review)→
Chicago – Chicago II: Live on Soundstage (DVD/CD) (Rhino)
An under appreciated album gets performed live
Despite being mostly known now for their classic hit singles, Chicago were originally an album-oriented rock band. In fact, the band’s first three records were all double LP sets, full of challenging music that stretched the boundaries between pop, rock and jazz. The band recently revisited their second album, originally billed simply as Chicago but now known as Chicago II, for an episode of the PBS show Soundstage, playing the album in its entirety (well sort of – see below). Rhino has just issued a DVD/CD set of the performance as Chicago II: Live on Soundstage. Continue reading Chicago – Chicago II: Live on Soundstage – A Classic Album Played in Concert→