Category Archives: Reviews

Skeeter Davis – Let Me Get Close to You (Playback Records)

A Countrypolitan masterpiece, improved with a healthy dose of bonus material

One of the most underrated vocalists of all-time, Skeeter Davis helped blur the line between Country and Pop music at a time when such an act was still considered blasphemy, and in doing so, paved the way for everyone from Tanya Tucker to Taylor Swift and beyond.  Playback Records, a reissue label based in Australia, has just put out Let Me Get Close to You, a classic album of hers from 1964, complete with a heaping bunch of bonus tracks.   Continue reading Skeeter Davis – Let Me Get Close to You (Playback Records)

Jaco Pastorius – Truth, Liberty & Soul (Resonance)

We’re going to start calling Resonance Records the “Babe Ruth of reissue labels,” because all they’re doing lately is hitting home runs. Whether it’s digging up lost treasures from guitarist Wes Montgomery, pianist Bill Evans or saxophonist Stan Getz, the label continues to add to the lexicon of jazz.

Two whole discs of rare concert footage from the genius of bass guitar is reason enough to celebrate. That Resonance is behind Truth, Liberty & Soul: Live in NYC – The Complete 1982 NPR Jazz Alive! Recording means that you’re in for a real treat. Continue reading Jaco Pastorius – Truth, Liberty & Soul (Resonance)

Stax Records Celebrates 60 Years With New Stax Classics Series

There was a time when each record label had its own sound. Atlantic was responsible for the pioneering R&B of Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, while Motown turned an assembly-line mentality into a string of pop crossover hits. Yet, no label got closer to pure soul than Memphis’ Stax records. The label is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a string of cost-friendly compilations, which serve as great introductions to a wealth of phenomenal music.

Continue reading Stax Records Celebrates 60 Years With New Stax Classics Series

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)

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)

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