Tuesday September 01

Current Album Reviews

Our take on some of the latest material from a variety of artists.

Heart - Fanatic Live From Caesars ColosseumHeart - Fanatic Live from Caesars Colosseum (Frontiers) review

Hands down, Heart is the best classic rock band you can see in concert today…period

 

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While most veteran rock bands are a mere shadow of what they used to be, Ann & Nancy Wilson, and Company are still providing high energy performances that rival anything they did back in the Seventies.  Seems unbelievable?  Fanatic Live from Caesars Colosseum, a new CD/DVD set, is proof.

 

Liptick, Powder & Paint - Various ArtistsVarious Artists - Lipstick, Powder & Paint - A Decade of Girls 1953-1962 (Fantastic Voyage) review

It’s amazing to think back to a time when women were a mere footnote in the music business.  Heck, they were relegated to the title of “girl singer” in the Big Band era, and weren’t even allowed to join the Musician’s Union.  Lipstick, Powder & Paint is a three-disc collection that traces those early steps the ladies took to gain their independence.

Lulu - The Atco SessionsLulu - The Atco Sessions 1969-72 (Real Gone Music) review

To soul with love

 

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Ahhh…that Atlantic Soul sound.  Cultivated in the South, it’s what makes those Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett records sound so good.  British singer Lulu might seem like an odd choice to record for the label, since her biggest US hit was the sweeping “To Sir With Love” in 1967.  But, the 5’1’’ sparkplug did indeed release two records on the Atlantic subsidiary, Atco - collected here as The Atco Sessions, a two-disc set that also features b-sides and unreleased tracks from the time period.

Davina & the Vagabonds - SunshineDavina & the Vagabonds - Sunshine (Roustabout Records) review

 

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The first thing you hear on Sunshine, the new record from Davina & the Vagabonds, is singer Davina Sowers’ voice as if it’s being played on an old Victrola, coming at you from the distant past.  But then the band kicks in, the sound sharpens, and “Sunshine” rolls out: a mid-tempo number, layered with horns that makes you want to clap your hands.  There, in a span of a mere twenty seconds, is the essence of this great Minneapolis band: taking elements of the past (blues & New Orleans jazz), wrapping them in infectious melodies, and playing them with youthful abandon.

Jersey Boys SoundtrackThe Jersey Boys - Music From the Motion Picture and Broadway Musical (Rhino) review

While the Clint Eastwood-directed movie concentrates on the darker side of the Four Seasons’ story, the soundtrack is pure fun.

 

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While assembling this new soundtrack, Bob Gaudio, the Four Seasons’ primary songwriter, had a dilemma: how to capture the energy of the movie and Broadway musical while staying true to the original music?  Well, he succeeds by using elements both old and new.  As a result, the Jersey Boys Soundtrack works as both a starting point for novices and a fun listen for long-time fans.

Spanky & Our Gang - Complete Mercury SinglesSpanky & Our Gang - Complete Mercury Singles (Real Gone Music) review

Harmony-laden bliss, in mono!

 

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Even though they hailed from Chicago, Spanky & Our Gang fit perfectly into the mid-Sixties’ mellow pop sounds coming out of California with bands like the Mamas & the Papas, and the Turtles.  Yet, they certainly don’t get their due like those other bands.  Which is a shame, because the Complete Mercury Singles shows that the band was capable of really great things.

Seth Walker - Sky Still BlueSeth Walker - Sky Still Blue (Royal Potato Family) review

 

Give this one a couple of listens - you won't be disappointed

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With his eighth album, Sky Still Blue, Seth Walker keeps getting better and better.  Like a master chef, he’s perfected the perfect blend in his music.  Rooted in the blues, yet never losing hope - his music is surprisingly positive for the genre.  There’s also a heavy dose of soul here, and everything he does has an understated rhythm, making it great as both dinner music and for those spontaneous moments of swaying in the kitchen.

Essential Eric CarmenEric Carmen - The Essential (Arista/Legacy)

The most comprehensive Eric Carmen collection ever assembled - and it sounds fantastic

 

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Most music today is consumed through lousy quality ear buds or computer speakers.  Yet, once in a while, a remaster comes along that sounds so good, you’ll want to dust off that old CD player to get the full experience.  The Essential Eric Carmen is the first two-disc collection to span the talented singer/songwriter’s entire career.  And, it’s one of those rare CDs where the sonic improvement is so noticeable, you’ll find yourself hearing things you never heard before.

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