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
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 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 (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
Tom Rush is credited for starting the “singer/songwriter” movement. He emerged from the folk scene of the early Sixties, releasing a series of albums that featured covers of traditional folk and blues songs. Things changed for 1968’s The Circle Game, where Rush became the first artist to record songs by then-unknown songwriters Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Jackson Browne (before the three even signed record contracts).
Rush has always written his own material, but it might surprise you that his latest album, Voices, is the first release which features an entire record of his own compositions – it’s only taken 55 years!
We talk to Rush about using crowd-funding to support his new project, the fact that he almost never remembers writing his songs, and how a recent Youtube video of his went viral and received SEVEN MILLION views!
The Motels had several big hits in the early Eighties, including “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer.” At a time when new albums are kind of an afterthought, The Motels have just issued one of the strongest albums of their entire career called The Last Few Beautiful Days.
Vocalist Martha Davis is reunited with Marty Jourard who provided signature saxophone and keyboards on many of their albums. This new record somehow manages to be both modern and a reflection of everything that the band has done before.
We chat with Davis about what led to this new project, and how using vintage keyboards on the new record helped give it a timeless quality . Plus, she gives us the stories behind their biggest hits.
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
The musical landscape of the of early 1980’s was an unique one. Disco had died down, yet MTV hadn’t quite taken hold yet. The charts were ruled by mellow recordings full of lush arrangements. Now, years later, this style of music is being called Yacht Rock.
One such artist having hits back then was Robbie Dupree, who hit #6 on the Billboard charts in 1980 with “Steal Away.” Then, a few months later, found himself back in the Top 20 with “Hot Rod Hearts.” Blixa Sounds is issuing for the first time on CD, the first two albums from Robbie Dupree, remastered, and featuring bonus tracks.
We talk the crazy events that got him signed to Elektra, playing in an early band with Chic’s Nile Rodgers, and earning a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
Purchase the debut album from Robbie Dupree on Amazon
Purchase Street Corner Heroes from Robbie Dupree on Amazon
An In-Depth Look at Every show the Beatles played in America
There have been literally thousands of books written about the Beatles over the last 50 years, covering virtually every aspect of their brief career. Yet, Chuck Gunderson has found an unique angle.
In Some Fun Tonight, a two-volume set of coffee-table books from Backbeat books, he goes behind the scenes of the groundbreaking and tumultuous tours the Beatles did in North America in 1964, 1965 & 1966, giving us an account of what happened before, during and after each concert the Beatles played in the US and Canada.
He tells some incredible stories of the planning, and jockeying of promoters and radio stations to pull off bringing the four lads from Liverpool to America. In his research and detective work, Gunderson has also unearthed a treasure trove of never-before-seen photographs and memorabilia from each stop on those tours.
The end result is a must to anyone who attended these legendary performances, or anyone that wants to understand just how crazy these tours of the Beatles really were.
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