Sunday October 26

Current Album Reviews

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

Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information / Wings of LoveShuggie Otis - Inspiration Information / Wings of Love (Sony Legacy) review

Prince cut his teeth on this record


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Shuggie Otis was riding high in the early Seventies.  The son of bandleader Johnny Otis (who had a massive hit with “Willie and the Hand Jive” in 1958), Shuggie had already developed into a guitar prodigy in his late teens, releasing two solid albums featuring some hot soloing.  Released in 1974, Inspiration Information was a testament to a singular talent - virtually every note played and sang on the record came from Otis himself.  Yet, for whatever reason, the album was not a success, and its failure proved to be a crushing blow to his career.  For almost 40 years, Shuggie never released another record.


R.E.M. - Green - 25th Anniversary EditionR.E.M. - Green (25th Anniversary Edition) (Rhino / Warner Bros) review R.E.M.’s major-label debut gets the royal treatment - including a killer concert recorded on the subsequent tour


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This is where R.E.M. really got serious.  Signing to Warner Brothers after five albums on the independent I.R.S. label, the guys had a lot to prove.  This wasn’t the time for the band to tread water.  Instead, everyone upped the ante and came up with Green, an album that managed to do the impossible - broaden their popularity, while keeping their loyal fan base happy as well.  The album has just been reissued in a new, deluxe edition, with some fine bonus material, including a 21-track live show from the tour.

Blue Cheer - Rocks EuropeBlue Cheer - Rocks Europe (Rainman) review Heavy rock trailblazers' last stand


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One of the keys to success in life is to outlive all of your detractors.  Blue Cheer, once reviled by critics for their form of low brow sonic fury, are now hailed as pioneers of both modern heavy metal and punk.  Rocks Europe is a document of the band’s final tour before the passing of vocalist, bassist, and longest-tenured member, Dickie Peterson.

Lisa Germano - No ElephantsLisa Germano - No Elephants (Badman Records) review How about something off the beaten path?


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The music business is in an unprecedented rut.  We’ve been without a bona fide new trend in music for over a decade.  Which is why, when something comes along like No Elephants, the new album from Lisa Germano, it’s just a breath of badly-needed fresh air.

Greg Lake - Songs of a LifetimeGreg Lake - Songs of a Lifetime (Esoteric) review The voice of ELP & King Crimson revisits his past, and tells some great stories


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It’s no longer an option - it’s imperative that every classic rock musician tell his story.  While we wait on Greg Lake’s installment (to be titled Lucky Man - out late Summer), here comes Songs of a Lifetime, which acts as an audio accompaniment to the upcoming book.

Johnny Cash - Complete Albums CollectionJohnny Cash - The Complete Columbia Album Collection (Columbia / Sony Legacy) review The crown jewel of Cash collections - 63 discs - covering his most fertile years.


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2012 was quite a year for Johnny Cash’s music.  On what would’ve been his 80th year, his former label and estate rolled out an impressive array of compilations and archival releases, all celebrating different aspects of his long and varied career.

Moving Sidewalks - the Complete CollectionMoving Sidewalks - The Complete Collection (Rock Beat) review Some of the best Texas psychedelia you’ve never heard


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The Moving Sidewalks have been rendered down to a rock n’ roll footnote - they were the band that spawned young guitar sensation Billy Gibbons to eventually find fame and fortune with the power trio ZZ Top.  But, to view them as simply a springboard, is to miss out on some really great rock n’ roll.

Geoff Tate - Kings & ThievesGeoff Tate - Kings & Thieves (InsideOut Music) review Tate shows that he can do Queensryche all by himself


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2012 was a rather tumultuous year for Geoff Tate.  Earlier in the year, the rest of the members of Queensryche jumped ship to form another group, Rising West, essentially a Queensryche cover band, playing only music from the band’s first five studio albums.  Undaunted, Tate has assembled a new version of Queensryche, which he plans to unveil in 2013.  In the meantime comes his second solo album, Kings & Thieves - ironically, the most Queensryche-sounding album he’s done in years.

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