Current Album Reviews
Our take on some of the latest material from a variety of artists.
Beatles - Yellow Submarine Songtrack (Capitol) review Quite possibly the most confusing album in the entire Beatles’ catalog, the Yellow Submarine Songtrack needs a little background: In 1969, the Beatles released an album titled Yellow Submarine, which served as the “soundtrack” to their animated film released that same year. But, out of the 13 tracks on the original album, only four of them were actually new Beatles songs - “Hey Bulldog,” “All Together Now,” and two George Harrison compositions, “Only a Northern Song,” and “It’s All Too Much.” The remainder of the record was fleshed out with a pair of older songs (“Yellow Submarine,” and “All You Need is Love”) and the original instrumental score from George Martin. The truth is, this was, by far, the worst album in the Beatles’ catalog - even the new songs weren’t really that good.
The Smiths - Remasters Series (Rhino) review For a band that only released four proper studio albums during their existence, there has been a great deal written and spoken about the Smiths.
Rhino Records has just reissued all four albums, plus a couple of compilations and a live record - the entire Smiths oeuvre - available once again. It gives us an opportunity to re-assess one of the most influential British bands of the 1980’s.
Tweed Funk - Love Is (Tweed Tone Records) review As their name suggests, Milwaukee’s Tweed Funk do it old school - recalling a time when horn-driven R&B bands would criss-cross the country, playing a hot n’ sweaty show, all fueled by live musicians. Digital technology came along in the early Eighties, making it cheaper to tour (you could replace that entire horn line with the touch of a button), but something was lost in the transition. The guys in Tweed Funk are all about bringing that style back, with their second album, Love Is (amazon link). Take a funky drummer, add in some slinky guitar, and a lead singer that’s been around the block a few times, and you’ve got a tasty combination - a simmering blend of blues, soul and funk.
Omar & the Howlers - I’m Gone (Big Guitar Music) review The blues is like a good steak - if what you start out with is of good quality, there’s no need to add much to it.
In the case of steak, if you begin with a good cut of fresh meat, there’s no reason to put a bunch of seasoning on it, or marinade it for hours - it will taste just fine all by itself. This is the same approach that Omar Dykes has taken to his music.
Barenaked Ladies - Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before! (Rhino Records) review The thing that surprises me the most about Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before is that it hasn’t been done before.
The Barenaked Ladies have cultivated a rabid following in the 20 years since the release of their debut Gordon, yet this marks their first-ever rarities compilation. For a band that’s staked their claim to fame on quirky songs, you’d expect some oddities included in any collection of outtakes, and in that sense, it does not disappoint.
Regina Spektor - What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (Sire /WEA) review by J Hamrick After three years, fans were thrilled to see a new album from Regina Spektor out May 29, called What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (check out amazon link here). With a combination of new songs and a few old, the release debuted at three on the Billboard Album chart.
Parker, Gillespie, Powell, Roach, Mingus - The Quintet - Live at Massey Hall (Debut / Concord Records) review Concord Records continues their series of reissuing classic jazz albums with remastered sound and new liner notes.
Preview the album on amazon.com
You can’t make this stuff up. Five of the greatest jazz musicians of all-time come together for one night only and the room is half empty. This summit of future jazz legends was so highly regarded that the promoters scheduled a boxing match during the intermission of the concert. Unbelievable. But, probably the most amazing thing about Jazz at Massey Hall is that this once-in-a-lifetime event was actually captured on tape on a single microphone placed in front of the stage.
Heart - Strange Euphoria (box set) (Sony/Legacy) review Never has a box set so perfectly captured the spirit of a band.
Browse the box set on amazon.com
The goal of most multi-disc collections is to sum up a band’s career by including hit singles and key album tracks, while throwing in a handful of rarities. The problem is, the only people that usually buy box sets are the true fans, who already own most of this material. That’s what makes Strange Euphoria, the new 3-CD / 1-DVD collection from Heart, so enjoyable. Lovingly compiled by founding members Ann & Nancy Wilson, who understand that this is meant for the true fan - and they deliver.
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