Friday January 30

Current Album Reviews

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

jellyfish - live at bogarts 1991Jellyfish - Live at Bogart's 1991 (Omnivore Recordings) review First-ever official live album from these influential power poppers

Legends have a way of growing over time - especially when the band, only around for a few short years, calls it quits and never reunites again.  That’s Jellyfish, who arrived in 1990 with their album Bellybutton - thumbing their nose at the hair metal and pop schlock of the day, embracing everything 70’s, from their unabashed melodies to their throwback costumes.  Although they did manage a minor (#62) hit with “Baby’s Comin’ Back,” rock radio was too busy schmoozing Poison and Cinderella to notice their Badfinger and Cheap Trick-infused songs.  The band managed just one more, almost-as-good album, 1993’s Spilt Milk, before quietly breaking up, and never looking back.

 

blue note jazz classics from hdtracks.comBlue Note Jazz Classics on HDtracks (review)

 

John Coltrane - Blue Train

Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage

Eric Dolphy - Out to Lunch

Horace Silver - Song For My Father

Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil

Larry Young - Unity

We’ve been hearing for years how the Internet has hurt the music business.  Now, finally some good news.

If you’re a fan of good quality audio, it has been a difficult time.  With almost the entire industry moving toward low quality mp3s as the standard, and CDs becoming a thing of the past, obtaining high fidelity music seems harder than ever.  The good news is, there’s finally some relief.  A website called HDtracks.com is finally offering downloads that actually sound better than CDs.

I Am an Elvis Fan from RCA / Sony LegacyElvis Presley - I Am an Elvis Fan (RCA / Legacy) review My aunt had a velvet wall-hanging of Elvis in her bedroom.  Even as a young kid, I remember being struck by how devoted someone must be to put a singer above her bed.  But, that's what kind of effect Presley had on his audience.

Not just another Elvis compilation, I Am an Elvis Fan takes things from a fresh angle - that of the Presley devotee, comprising 21 tracks handpicked by the fans.  Earlier in 2012, RCA/Legacy Recordings set up iamanelvisfan.com, a website where fans were encouraged to vote on their favorite tracks from “The King.”  Yet, the producers had an ulterior motive besides just creating another list of his biggest songs.  By dividing the voting of Presley’s music into seven categories - 50’s, 60’s, movie soundtracks, love songs, country songs, live recordings, and gospel numbers, they set out to showcase the wide scope of Elvis’ recorded output.  The top three vote-getters in each category are included in this collection.

Lenny Kravitz - Mama Said - 21st anniversary edition from EMI VirginLenny Kravitz - Mama Said - 21st Anniversary Edition (EMI / Virgin) review

While Lenny Kravitz has covered a lot of ground in his long career, Mama Said is his best album from start to finish - and now it’s received the deluxe edition treatment, complete with an entire disc of bonus material.

Preview the album on amazon

When Kravitz arrived in 1989, he was a breath of fresh air.  His debut, Let Love Rule, teemed with 60’s and 70’s retro sounds of rock, funk & soul - gleefully out of step with the glossy hair metal that ruled the rock charts.  But, although it contained some excellent songs, there were times when Kravitz sounded tentative.  Admittedly, some pegged him as a flash in the pan.    

Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups vol one - from Real Gone MusicVarious Artists - Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups, vol.1 (Real Gone Music / ABKCO) review

When the words “unreleased” and “doo wop” are put together these days, it usually means bottom-of-the-barrel material - leftover tracks which shouldn’t have been released in the first place - all to satisfy the rabid fanbase that the genre still enjoys.  That’s what makes The Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups, vol 1 such a surprise - the disc is jam-packed full of songs that could easily sit alongside the finest R&B vocal group hits of the late Fifties and early Sixties.

Concord Music - Very Best of Jazz series (review)

Classic jazz music is now easier to find than ever before.  Once relegated to small, niche-oriented record stores, the genre can now be accessed from anywhere, thanks to the Internet.  However, with all this music at our disposal, it’s hard to know where to begin.  Concord Music Group has just issued the “The Very Best of” series, from their extensive library of vintage labels.  These collections offer excellent introductions to many of the legendary performers of jazz

bohéme - follow the freedomBohéme - Follow the Freedom (CD Baby) review A great summertime record - no matter what the season

Bohéme is actually the new solo project from Cassidy, who fronted the all-girl band Antigone Rising for almost ten years.  Since there’s a rapper already using the name “Cassidy,” she’s created the Bohéme moniker.

Click here to preview the album on amazon

With Follow the Freedom, her first solo album under her new name, she’s traded in the country-rock seriousness of her previous band, for a more soulful, upbeat (dare I say lighthearted?) affair.

seth walker - time can change cdSeth Walker - Time Can Change (Roe Records) review A delightful blend of understated acoustic soul.

Preview the album on amazon.com

For his seventh record,  Seth Walker decided to scale things back.  Accompanied on most of the songs by little more than bass, sparse percussion and Walker’s own acoustic guitar, the tracks on Time Can Change have space to breathe - leaving room for Walker’s inviting voice - kind of a mix between an older Eric Clapton and Bill Withers, with a little of jazz/blues great Mose Allison’s affectation thrown in for good measure.  It’s the kind of singing that doesn’t intimidate; the kind that you might think you could do yourself with a little practice (you’d probably be wrong).

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