Wednesday June 29

Current Album Reviews

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

Yes - Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-TwoYes - Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two (Rhino / Atlantic) review

Wow, they were THAT good


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In 1972, Yes were at the peak of their powers. They were coming off the trifecta of studio albums - The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge, when they hit the road for an extensive US tour.  At the end of those shows, the band released the triple-album set Yessongs.  Yet, even though it went platinum, that album suffered from lousy sound quality.  Over 40 years later, they’ve gone back to the original tapes and remixed everything, and the results, Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two are mind blowing.


Iron Butterfly - Ball (remastered)Iron Butterfly - Ball (Expanded Edition) (Real Gone / Atco) review


This lost classic shows off the band's other sides


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Iron Butterfly are remembered mostly for the “Iron” part of their name, thanks to their 17-minute magnum opus “In a Gadda Da Vida,” which became a surprise hit on AM radio, when edited down to 2:54.  Yet, if you listen to the rest of that song’s parent album, you’ll find plenty of “Butterfly” moments as well - the band really did know how to write a good melody.  Ball, the followup album, is arguably their most consistent release, and it’s just received the remastering treatment from Real Gone Music.

Ben Wilkins - All From HelloBen Wilkins - All From Hello (Midnight Train Records) review

Soulful grooves and pristine production highlight his sophomore release


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We raved about Ben Wilkins’ debut album back in late 2011.  Now, the Canadian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is back with his followup, All From Hello.  But, don’t expect it to be a carbon copy of his first album.

Little Richard - Directly From My Heart (box set)Little Richard - Directly From My Heart (Specialty / Concord Music Group) review

Little Richard came on like a category 5 hurricane…and here’s the proof


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Directly From My Heart is a new, 3-CD, Little Richard compilation that should be subtitled “The Good Stuff,” because it covers a period of time when he was still at the peak of his powers.  So, there’s a healthy dose of the seminal sides that he cut for Art Rupe’s Specialty label, but you also get an entire disc of lesser-known tracks from his stint with Vee Jay, after his sabbatical in religious music.  The end result is the greatest Little Richard collection ever assembled, and one heck of a fun ride.

Craig Fuller / Eric KazCraig Fuller / Eric Kaz (Expanded Edition) (Real Gone / Sony Music) review

Long out of print 70’s California rock


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Fuller was the voice and writer behind Pure Prairie League’s signature hit “Amie,” while Kaz penned several hits for Bonnie Raitt & Linda Ronstadt.  Their debut collaboration arrived amid high expectations in 1978.  Yet, despite the excellent songs, impeccable vocals, and stellar backing, the album was a commercial failure.

Wes Montgomery - In the BeginningWes Montgomery - In the Beginning (Resonance Records) review


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A treasure trove of rare recordings, lavishly packaged, lovingly annotated

Wes Montgomery is unquestionably one of the pillars of modern electric guitar.  The fact that Resonance Records has found two discs worth of rare and unreleased material from him is a real find - guitar fans rejoice with In the Beginning!

Dusty Springfield - FaithfulDusty Springfield - Faithful (Real Gone Music / Atlantic) review

Dusty’s unreleased third Atlantic album - criminally unreleased for over 40 years


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Dusty Springfield’s lack of success for Atlantic Records is baffling to this day.  Sure, we now consider Dusty in Memphis, her debut for the label, a soul masterpiece.  But, at the time, it was a commercial failure, tanking at a mere #99 on the Billboard Album Charts.  Her followup, A Brand New Me, fared even worse.  But, a teaming with hit producer/songwriter Jeff Barry, who co-wrote songs like “Be My Baby,” and “Da Doo Ron Ron,” sounded like just the recipe for a Springfield rebound.

Dion - Live at the Bitter EndDion - Recorded Live at the Bitter End, August 1971 (Omnivore/Ace) review

If you only know him for songs like “Runaround Sue,” prepared to be blown away


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A former teen idol doing acoustic blues and folk might seem like an odd career choice - unless you understand Dion’s roots.  Recorded Live at the Bitter End is a compilation of newly-discovered recordings featuring just Dion on guitar and vocals, taped in front of an intimate audience.  It’s just one of the many twists & turns over his long career.

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