Stax ’68 – A Tale of Triumph Over Tragedy (review)

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)

Colin James – Miles to Go (review)

Colin James – Miles to Go (Stony Plain)

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)

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.

“Why should I buy another version of Waiting For the Sun…I think I’m being ripped off!” Continue reading The Doors – Waiting For the Sun (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Greatest Hits – Back on Vinyl

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Greatest Hits

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 (review)

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)

AJ Croce – Croce Plays Croce – Levitt Pavilion, Dayton – 9/6/18

Jim Croce’s son celebrates the legacy of his dad while forging his own musical path

As I was setting up my chair for the show, I heard a guy behind me say:

“I hear A.J. is going to play some of his dad’s songs mixed in with some of his own – I sure hope he plays more of his dad’s songs.”

Then, that very same guy, at the end of the concert said:

“wow, I need to go find out more about A.J.’s music, that guy was awesome!”

In a way, those two bits of dialogue sum up Croce’s show – people came to hear songs of Jim Croce, yet people left having a much greater appreciation for his son. Continue reading AJ Croce – Croce Plays Croce – Levitt Pavilion, Dayton – 9/6/18

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

#331 – AJ Croce – Croce Plays Croce

AJ Croce – photo credit: Sebastian Smith

Singer, pianist, and songwriter A.J. Croce, the son of Jim Croce, has spent nine albums forging his own musical path. often mining elements of soul, folk and pop.  In fact, he released one of the finest albums of 2017 called Just Like Medicine, which was produced by legendary producer Dan Penn, and featured a song co-written with the late Leon Russell.

Croce’s latest venture is a series of shows, Croce Plays Croce, where he performs the songs of his famous father along with some of his own compositions, which is coming locally to the brand new Levitt Pavilion in Dayton on September 6th.

We also talk to him about recording his dad’s song, “I Got a Name,” which was featured in a Goodyear commercial starring Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

#330 – Rebecca Angel – What We Had

Jonah Miles Prendergast: Credit

Sultry New York singer Rebecca Angel recently graduated from Ithica College with a degree in voice and now she’s just issued her debut EP called What We Had. The album was produced by renowned jazz keyboardist Jason Miles, who’s worked with Miles Davis, Whitney Houston and many others. She’s also collaborated with this project with her dad, trumpet player Dennis Angel.

Rebecca talks about finding a style all her own, and giving an electronic twist to the soul classic, “Stand By Me.”

#329 – Tony Joe White – Bad Mouthin, Polk Salad Annie and Elvis

He recorded his new record in a horse barn

Call it swamp rock, or whatever you want, but Tony Joe White has created a style of music all his own and he’s parlayed it into a career that’s lasted over 50 years.  He hit the top 10 in 1969 with “Polk Salad Annie,” and penned the soulful ballad “Rainy Night in Georgia,” first made famous by Brook Benton, but has been covered by countless performers.

He’s worked with everyone from Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton to Jerry Lee Lewis and Joe Cocker.  His latest album is stripped-down affair called Bad Mouthin’ from Yep Roc records.

White talks about the record that inspired him to start writing songs of his own.  Plus, what it was like not only having Elvis Presley record three of his compositions, but also getting the opportunity to hang out with The King backstage.

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