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)

#328 – Author James Campion – Warren Zevon Book

from Backbeat Books

Warren Zevon was the very definition of the enigmatic artist.  In Accidentally Like a Martyr: The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon (Backbeat Books), author James Campion attempts to separate the man from the myth by first analyzing the lyrics in several of his songs,  then by talking with the family, friends and colleagues who knew him best. Campion secured interviews with Zevon’s ex-wife, and kids, plus J.D. Souther, Jackson Browne, and many others.

We chat with the life-long, self-proclaimed “Zevon-head” about doing a book on his favorite artist, plus how he tracked down all the great interviews for the book.  We also discuss how Zevon felt about his one, smash hit “Werewolves of London.”

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

#327 – Tom Rush – New Album – Voices

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!

#326 – Martha Davis of the Motels – The Last Few Beautiful Days

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 – 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

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