Current Album Reviews
Our take on some of the latest material from a variety of artists.
Hayley Reardon - Where the Artists Go (Kingswood Records) review Hayley Reardon is an amazingly talented 16-year old. Which means, she probably spends as much time talking about her age as she does her music. Which is a shame. While her age might seem like a novelty, one listen to her music and none of that matters. She’s released a couple of EP’s, but Where the Artists Go is her first full-length album, featuring eleven songs all written by her.
Dion - The Complete Laurie Singles (Real Gone / Capitol) review
Rock n’ Roll swagger began with Dion - and this collection shows just how he got there
Most early rock n’ rollers were from rural areas - Buddy Holly was from Lubbock, Texas, and Elvis Presley came from Tupelo, Mississippi. But, Dion grew up on the streets of the Bronx, and his music has always contained a little of that street mentality. The music collected on the Complete Laurie Singles represents a pivotal moment in his long career - it’s the first time he recorded as a solo artist, and these recordings chronicle his greatest commercial success. This marks the first time all of his singles for the label and their respective b-sides have been collected on one set, in their original mono versions.
Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy / Concord Music Group) review A revelatory remastered Christmas classic
Just like the tree that Linus & Charlie Brown purchased at the end of the show, the soundtrack that accompanies this cartoon classic came from humble beginnings. Originally hated by CBS TV executives, who feared the jazz instrumental music would be too “high brow” for young audiences. Ironically, the opposite happened. The piano, bass, and drums format elevated the somewhat primitive animation, giving it a level of sophistication unrivaled in all of holiday specials. Plus, the jazz music actually gave the songs a buoyancy that was infectious. The signature track, “Linus & Lucy,” is one of the most recognizable pieces in all of popular music. Concord Music Group has just re-issued this stone-cold holiday classic in remastered sound with bonus tracks.
Various Artists - The Return of the Stuff That Dreams Are Made of (Yazoo) review
Face it. We’ve become spoiled when it comes to music. Once highly-coveted recordings by Robert Johnson, Louis Armstrong and Charley Patton, are now just as easily accessed as the latest track by Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga through any number of online means. But, we rarely stop to consider how we’re able to listen to these hallowed recordings. Sure, the artist is important, and so is the record company. But, there’s a third element - that of the avid record collector, who sacrificed large portions of their house (and oftentimes their marriage) to store these scarce records. Without them, we’d never be enjoying these songs so many years later. A new, 2-disc collection from Yazoo Records, The Return of the Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, not only unearths some fantastic vintage music, it also gives proper due to several men, whose perseverance provided us with this great music.
Various Artists - Athens, GA - Inside/Out (Omnivore Recordings) review Now and again it happens - the perfect combination of talented artists, accommodating venues and enthusiastic crowds come together to create a scene. Just as in the late Sixties in San Francisco, and the early Nineties in Seattle, the mid Eighties were all about Athens, Georgia. The small college town gained notoriety when R.E.M. began making waves nationally, first on college radio, then in the mainstream media. Directed by Tony Gayton, Athens, GA - Inside/Out attempted to capture what that scene was like. Omnivore Recordings has just released the long-out-of print film, along with its accompanying soundtrack, which is making its debut on CD.
Beach Boys - Fifty Big Ones - Greatest Hits (Capitol Records) review
Hot on the heels of their successful reunion album, That’s Why God Made the Radio (see our review here), and a 50th anniversary world tour, comes Fifty Big Ones, their first-ever two-CD set of the biggest and most-loved songs of the Beach Boys. What immediately sets this compilation apart from the multitudes of collections before it, is that it covers the band’s entire career, nabbing their first national hit, “Surfin’ Safari” from 1962, and rounding up two songs from their reunion record, 50 years later.
Johnny Cash - The Greatest: The Number Ones (Deluxe Edition) (Sony/Legacy) review
You don’t realize how many great songs Johnny Cash had until you see a collection like this
Continuing a year-long celebration of what would’ve been Cash’s 80th birthday, Sony/Legacy has released a series of CDs dubbed “The Greatest,” covering several aspects of his career - there are other volumes, including those covering country, duets and gospel - but The Number Ones is just that, his biggest, and best-loved songs.
Electric Prunes - The Complete Reprise Singles (Real Gone Music) review The Electric Prunes created one of the strangest songs ever to hit the charts in “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night),” which just missed the Top Ten in 1966. As luck would have it, the band’s career would end up being even stranger. Unbelievably, The Complete Reprise Singles marks the first time this much-maligned band has had their output properly assembled on a single disc.
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