Current Album Reviews
Our take on some of the latest material from a variety of artists.
Johnny Mathis - The Complete Christmas Collection 1958-2010 (Real Gone / Sony) review
More legendary holiday tunes than you can shake a candy cane at
No other artist is more closely associated with Christmas music than legendary vocalist Johnny Mathis. For millions of people worldwide, Mathis is as much a part of tradition as baking cookies and decorating the tree. Real Gone Music has just issued the ultimate treat for fans - for the first time, all five of Mathis' classic holiday albums are brought together in one collection, augmented by the inclusion of singles and one-off collaborations.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO - Alone in the Universe (Big Trilby / Sony) review
The ELO Spaceship rises again for their best record since their late-Seventies’ heyday
Electric Light Orchestra were one of the biggest bands of the Seventies and early Eighties. Their combination of Beatles’ soaked melodies, drizzled with classical overtones made their ear candy radio hits immediately recognizable. And that signature ELO drum sound - it was like four drummers playing at once! Leader Jeff Lynne grounded ELO in the late Eighties and turned his attention to producing some of the biggest-selling albums of the next two decades: Tom Petty, George Harrison, the Traveling Wilburys, Roy Orbison, and even the reunited Beatles all carried on that signature, Lynne sound. Now, with The Muppets back on TV, and Star Wars in theaters, the time is right for ELO to fly again.
Frank Sinatra - A Voice on the Air - 1935-1955 (Columbia / Legacy) review
One of the most important and entertaining Sinatra collections ever released
Frank Sinatra’s rich legacy is well-documented in the numerous studio and live performances, and Hollywood movies released during his lifetime. Yet, Sinatra’s legend was first built on the popularity he achieved on radio. A Voice on the Air, a new, four-disc box set, explores this important aspect of his early career.
Beatles - 1+ (CD/DVD) (Apple/Universal) review
The videos will entice you, but the remixed music is the real thrill
The Fab Four’s offering for the 2015 holiday season is Beatles 1+, a repackaging of their best-selling hits collection featuring all 27 of the Beatles #1 hits, accompanied by a DVD of those same songs in video form. A deluxe edition adds a second disc containing 23 more videos. Both sets are also available in Blu Ray, featuring surround sound audio mixes.
Keiko Matsui - Live in Tokyo (Shanachie) (DVD/CD review)
The gifted pianist is even better in a live setting
Keiko Matsui’s last studio album, Soul Quest (which we reviewed here), was a high water mark in her long career. The album sold over a million copies, and the single, “Black Lion,” was a big hit on Smooth Jazz radio in the US. Live in Tokyo is taken from the tour supporting that album, and finds the pianist returning to her birthplace for a special concert with several guest musicians, captured on both DVD and CD.
Peter Case - Hwy 62 (Omnivore Recordings) review
Pack your bags for a musical road trip
Hwy 62 is the only east-west highway that connects Mexico with the Canadian border. It’s also the name of Peter Case’s first new album in five years. Like that long stretch of road, his new record winds through many aspects of American music, making unexpected stops along the way.
Son Volt - Trace (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino / Warner Brothers) review
An alt-country masterpiece turns 20
Out of the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, leader Jay Farrar formed Son Volt. Their debut from 1995, Trace, made good on the promise of his former band. That album has been remastered and expanded, featuring demos and live tracks, plus extensive liner notes from Farrar himself.
Ann Wilson - The Ann Wilson Thing! - #1 (Rounder)
The Heart vocalist digs a little deeper
Ann Wilson has been hitting nothing but home runs lately. Her jaw-dropping performance of “Stairway to Heaven” during the Kennedy Center Honors proved that no one could’ve delivered a better performance. Along with her sister, Nancy, their band Heart has released a string of recent studio albums which rank among the band’s very best. And recent tours, including one with Jason Bonham, proved that Heart is still a formidable live band. So, it makes sense that Wilson would seek out a new challenge. Hence, The Ann Wilson Thing #1, a new, 4-song EP.
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