Current Album Reviews
Our take on some of the latest material from a variety of artists.
Heart’s “Stairway to Heaven” hits ITunes (review) It’s rare when a cover version can stand toe to toe with its original. But it’s nothing short of extraordinary when that song happens to be “Stairway to Heaven,” the most hallowed of all classic rock tracks. That’s exactly what Ann & Nancy Wilson accomplished during the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Led Zeppelin. The overwhelmingly positive response and 4 1/2 million views on You Tube has prompted the band to make their rendition available on Itunes as a single. The version floating around the Internet is shorter - CBS edited it for television; this is their complete take of the song.
Gary US Bonds - Christmas is ON! (GLA / Allegro) review The best Christmas album I’ve heard in a long time
These days, everybody is doing a Christmas album. Problem is, most people aren’t doing it right. Out of all of them, who’d have thought that 73-year-old Gary US Bonds would crank out the best of the bunch. But, that’s exactly what he’s done with Christmas is ON!
Various Artists - Surf-Age Nuggets - Trash & Twang Instrumentals 1959-1966 (S’More Entertainment / RockBeat Records) review Ladies and gentlemen - please welcome the return of the box set!
Ahhh the multi-disc box set - virtually out of step in the current world of downloadable, package-less music. These collections peaked during the CD boom of the Nineties, containing inventive tracklists, handsome booklets featuring archival photos and insightful liner notes, housed in clever, lavish packaging. It was the kind of thing you were proud to own. But, recent cuts at most of the reissue labels have all but put an end to the format. Until now. Along comes RockBeat Records, which is staffed by some of the folks that used to run the great Rhino Records, and a fine new box set called Surf-Age Nuggets - Trash & Twang Instrumentals 1959-1966.
Various Artists - Now That’s What I Call Today’s Christmas (Universal/EMI/Sony) review The Now series has done a fine job of collecting holiday music, releasing four double-CD sets, each with one disc focusing on Christmas classics, and the other on the more recent material. Now That’s What I Call Today’s Christmas marks the first time they’ve paired things down to a single disc, only concentrating on songs by recent artists.
Various Artists - Christmas With the Rat Pack (Capitol) review It just doesn’t get any better than Frankie, Sammy and Dino
Because so much time has passed since their heyday, it’s easy to forget just how good these singers were. Christmas With the Rat Pack brings together three of the greatest entertainers of all time (and all inseparable for a time) - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr, all in one compilation. While trends come and go, these guys knew how to handle the classics - with swingin’ strings.
Beach Boys - Christmas Harmonies (Capitol) review One of rock’s best holiday albums gets re-sequenced with some added tracks
The Beach Boys’ original Christmas Album (see review here) from 1964 stands as one of rock’s finest Christmas records. It’s the perfect mix of rockin’ originals and string-laden classics. Plus, there’s a youthful exuberance that you can’t get anywhere else. The guys attempted another Yuletide record in 1977, but it didn’t get released til much later as The Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas. But, a lot of those tracks just aren’t that good. What Christmas Harmonies attempts to do is grab a few of the later tracks and add them to mix for what could be the finest Beach Boys holiday album yet. But is it?
Various Artists - Now That’s What I Call Music 44 (Universal / EMI / Sony) review The biggest hits...with a wink and a smile
The latest installment of the Now That’s What I Call Music series, Now #44, shows just how diverse the landscape of current hit music really is. Sure, there’s longtime chart-stalwarts like Usher and Kelly Clarkson. But, for the first time, youtube, the popular video distribution site, is contributing a large amount of the talent. Both the boyfriend/girlfriend couple Karmin and Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen got their start posting videos on the web. And Korean sensation PSY defined the very word “viral” with his unstoppable throwback track “Gangnam Style.”
Various Artists - Now That’s What I Call Disney (Universal / EMI / Sony / Disney) The biggest songs from the House of Mouse
For over 70 years, Disney has produced classic films for kids young and old, and a big part of the success is the timeless music that has accompanied them. While they’ve covered specific genres before, Now That’s What I Call Disney marks the first time that the popular series has tackled a specific movie company.
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