Category Archives: Reviews

Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull – Rose Music Center – 9/5/18

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 (Deluxe Edition) – Shaken AND Stirred (review)

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)

Jethro Tull – 50 For 50 – 3 Discs of the Best (review)

Jethro Tull – 50 For 50 (Parlophone/Chrysalis) 

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 – A Classic Album Played in Concert

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

Two Classic Blues Albums Celebrate Their 50th Anniversary with Deluxe Vinyl Reissues

Junior Wells – Coming at You
Buddy Guy – A Man & the Blues (Craft Recordings)

Craft Recordings continues to move the bar higher, reissuing a pair of vintage blues albums and setting a new standard for quality. The real difference here is the warmth and depth of the vinyl’s low end – this is truly the reason people claim they prefer analog over digital formats. Yet, it’s one of the few times a newly-pressed album actually delivers the goods. In addition, the heavy-grade album sleeve and attention to detail make for a packaging that’s as impressive as the vinyl it houses. Continue reading Two Classic Blues Albums Celebrate Their 50th Anniversary with Deluxe Vinyl Reissues

The Trailblazing, Final Recordings By Otis Redding, Collected Together

The Dock of the Bay Sessions attempts to construct the LP Redding was working on before his untimely death

50 years after his passing, Otis Redding is still regarded as one of the finest soul singers in history. When his plane went down in December of 1967, he was working on an album that would stretch the boundaries of what soul music could be. Although we will never know for sure what that album would’ve sounded like, The Dock of the Bay Sessions, a new set from Rhino Records,  is the closest we’ll ever get. Continue reading The Trailblazing, Final Recordings By Otis Redding, Collected Together

Gene Clark – Sings For You – Holy Grail For Fans

Gene Clark – Sings For You (Omnivore)

A holy grail for fans of the enigmatic ex-member of the Byrds

Very few artists have the mystique of Gene Clark.  Perhaps it’s because he’s the only former member of the original Byrds not to achieve any solo success.  Or maybe it’s that his music always seems to carry a haunting quality that was all his own.  Either way, a newly-discovered collection of demos from 1967 called Sings For You will do nothing but add to that legend.

Clark started out as one-fifth of the original lineup of the Byrds, penning many of the band’s early album tracks, including “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” and co-writing one of their biggest hits, “Eight Miles High,” before quitting in 1966 (purportedly over a fear of flying) to pursue a solo career.  After one unsuccessful album for Columbia, Clark was dropped from the label.  This is where we find the mercurial artist on Sings For You, a new archival release from Omnivore Recordings. Continue reading Gene Clark – Sings For You – Holy Grail For Fans

Led Zeppelin – How the West Was Won – The Real Live Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin – How the West Was Won – (Swan Song / Atlantic)

The one, and only, live album every fan should own

Led Zeppelin wasn’t always great in concert.

I know, that sounds like blasphemy, right?  But, in truth, this legendary band was capable of laying an egg just as easily as blowing your mind.  Unfortunately, there’s lots of proof of the former:  just do a quick Youtube search of the bootlegs out there, or watch the weary Song Remains the Same film, or if you dare, the horrendous Live Aid “reunion” from 1985, or even the creaky Celebration Day reunion from 2007.

If you want to enjoy Zep in all their in-concert fury, there is no substitute for How the West Was Won. Originally released in 2003, the three-disc set is back in the spotlight in a remastered edition from Atlantic. Continue reading Led Zeppelin – How the West Was Won – The Real Live Zeppelin

Stone Temple Pilots – self titled – 1st New Album Without Weiland

Stone Temple Pilots – self titled (Rhino)

Against all odds, the band is back

Few band have dealt with as much chaos and tragedy as Stone Temple Pilots.  Yet, here they are issuing their seventh studio album, simply titled Stone Temple Pilots, the first album without original vocalist Scott Weiland.

It’s not surprising that there’s a dark cloud that hangs over much of the album. For twenty years, the band rode the roller coaster ride of Weiland’s drug problems – sporadically breaking up, then reuniting, before finally firing him for good in 2013, and replacing him with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington.  Both Weiland and Bennington would tragically pass away over the next few years.  This new record is dedicated to both men, saying simply “we miss you” in the accompanying booklet. Continue reading Stone Temple Pilots – self titled – 1st New Album Without Weiland

Steppenwolf – At 50 – Collection Grabs Hard to Find Gems (review)

Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf at 50 (Rainman)

A complete overview of the band’s lesser-known years

History is a strange animal.  Bands with long careers too often get distilled into one or two songs.  Case in point: Steppenwolf, who are best remembered for the motorcycle anthem, “Born To Be Wild,” and the psychedelic rocker “Magic Carpet Ride.”  You might be surprised to know that the band actually scored eight Gold albums during their heyday, and have continued to release albums and tour to this day.  A new, three-disc collection attempts to tell a more complete story of the band in Steppenwolf at 50 from Rainman Records.

Full disclosure here: the band’s biggest hits have been omitted in favor of their lesser-known material (there are live versions of the hits on disc 3).  For those looking for just the hits, start with The ABC/Dunhill Singles Collection (reviewed here). Continue reading Steppenwolf – At 50 – Collection Grabs Hard to Find Gems (review)