Wednesday June 29

Current Album Reviews

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

Tony Bennett - Live at the SaharaTony Bennett - Live at the Sahara: Las Vegas, 1964 (RPM/Columbia Legacy) review A sizzling, early-peak performance live set from the legendary vocalist

There was something about Vegas in the Sixties.  Not everyone made it there.  But, if you did, it usually meant your career was on the rise.  There was a looseness that performers enjoyed.  Far out of the watchful eye of the snobby New York press, they could relax a little.  Certainly Frank Sinatra knew this (read our review of his Best of Vegas).


Keiko Matsui - Soul QuestKeiko Matsui - Soul Quest (Shanachie) review


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Keiko Matsui is one of the most lyrical pianists in contemporary jazz; her piano lines have a very hummable quality, which elevates it above typical mood music.  Plus, there’s enough technical prowess among her fellow musicians to keep the die hard aficionados happy as well.

Fleetwood Mac 1969-1972 LP box setFleetwood Mac 1969-1972 (vinyl box set) (Reprise) review

When most people think of Fleetwood Mac, they think of the multi-platinum band led by Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.  Yet, that duo didn't join the band until their tenth album.  The previous nine releases all have impressive moments, yet have been overshadowed by the group's later success.  Now, Reprise Records is finally giving this under-appreciated era of the band a second look with Fleetwood Mac 1969-1972, a four LP box set featuring the first four albums the band cut for the label - Then Play On, Kiln House, Future Games and Bare Trees.  Then Play On has also been remastered with bonus tracks and is the only album of the set to be available on CD at this point.

Elvis at Stax - box setElvis Presley - Elvis at Stax - Deluxe Edition (Legacy Recordings) review

Three-disc box set captures the King at the legendary Memphis studio


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The Elvis albums of the 1970‘s were definitely hit or miss.  But, that wasn’t really his fault. He had recently stopped making movies, so his record label and manager were set on cobbling anything they could get there hands on, especially capitalizing on his recent success of Aloha From Hawaii: Live Via Satellite (read our review). But, Elvis was still making great music, as a new, three-disc box set, Elvis at Stax, aims to prove.

Dana Fuchs - Bliss AvenueDana Fuchs - Bliss Avenue (Ruf Records) review


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Bliss Avenue is the third studio album from power-house vocalist Dana Fuchs, and it’s undeniably her finest to date.  The strength of the record lies in its diversity - straight-ahead rockers like the Mott the Hoople-infused “How Did Things Get This Way” rub shoulders with the soulful blues of “Livin’ on Sunday.” There’s the barrelhouse twanger “Nothin’ on My Mind,” where she muses “thanks for nothing / and fucking up my life” over piano that would make Floyd Cramer proud.

Ilias - Somewhere in TimeIlias - Somewhere in Time (review)


Ethereal ear candy from Australia


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Somewhere in Time is the debut full-length from Australian multi-instrumentalist Ilias. Seven years in the making, the album is full of lushly-arranged tracks.  His whispered delivery, coupled with wordless background vocals and several backward guitar loops, add to the dreaminess of the album.  Despite recording most everything himself, the album comes off as surprisingly organic.

George Thorogood & the Destroyers - debut albumGeorge Thorogood - Move it on OverGeorge Thorogood & the Destroyers 
Move it on Over (Rounder / Concord) review

Finally, back in print...classic Thorogood

In 1977, while the world was in the throes of Seventies Excess, a little-known trio from Delaware released their debut on the small folk/blues label Rounder.  It was unapologetic roots rock played with reckless abandon - the same approach which brought the Rolling Stones to prominence 15 years earlier.  Eventually these records would be hailed as classics.  Finally, they’re back in print.

Ben Folds Five - LiveBen Folds Five - Live (Ima Vee Pee / Sony) review

The reunited trio captured in concert all around the world


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Face it.  The majority of “live” albums aren’t really LIVE - they’ve been fixed in some way.  That’s why they sound so perfect.  We’ve grown so accustomed to this that when something comes along that isn’t pristine, we’re shocked.  If Live, the first concert album from the regrouped Ben Folds Five, isn’t live, you could’ve fooled me.  It’s an bones-and-all look at the band’s recent worldwide trek.

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