Current Album Reviews
Our take on some of the latest material from a variety of artists.
Big Star - Nothing Can Hurt Me (Omnivore Recordings) review
I Never Travel Far - Without a Little Big Star
Despite their name, and a glutton of radio-ready songs, Big Star achieved neither fame nor fortune during their brief history. Their stupefying lack of success and subsequent critical acclaim is the subject of a new documentary coming later in the summer. In the meantime, Nothing Can Hurt Me is so much more than just the accompanying soundtrack. In fact, it stands as a very important addition to the band’s small catalog, managing to act both as their first-ever career retrospective, and a treasure trove rarities’ collection for devoted fans. As a result, it makes this disc quite indispensable.
Paul McCartney & Wings - Wings Over America (remaster) (MPL/Starbucks/Concord) review
The remaster McCartney fans have been clamoring for
For whatever reason, Wings Over America has been the black sheep of the Paul McCartney catalog. Put on CD way back in the late Eighties, that version was muddy, lacking any high or low end. When his entire output got overhauled in the Nineties, Wings Over America was sadly passed over. Now, Concord has finally given it the remastering it deserves. And, the new version doesn’t disappoint. The bass is deeper and, finally there’s the crispness that we’ve been missing in the high end.
Linda Valori - Days Like This (LeArt World Music) review
The best blues album we’ve heard all year - and it comes from, of all places, Italy!
She didn’t grow up in America, and English isn’t even her first language, but man, can Linda Valori sing the blues. Her new album, Days Like This, is one of those perfect storms - where fantastic singing meets killer accompaniment. It surprised us - and it will surprise you.
Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information / Wings of Love (Sony Legacy) review
Prince cut his teeth on this record
Shuggie Otis was riding high in the early Seventies. The son of bandleader Johnny Otis (who had a massive hit with “Willie and the Hand Jive” in 1958), Shuggie had already developed into a guitar prodigy in his late teens, releasing two solid albums featuring some hot soloing. Released in 1974, Inspiration Information was a testament to a singular talent - virtually every note played and sang on the record came from Otis himself. Yet, for whatever reason, the album was not a success, and its failure proved to be a crushing blow to his career. For almost 40 years, Shuggie never released another record.
R.E.M. - Green (25th Anniversary Edition) (Rhino / Warner Bros) review R.E.M.’s major-label debut gets the royal treatment - including a killer concert recorded on the subsequent tour
This is where R.E.M. really got serious. Signing to Warner Brothers after five albums on the independent I.R.S. label, the guys had a lot to prove. This wasn’t the time for the band to tread water. Instead, everyone upped the ante and came up with Green, an album that managed to do the impossible - broaden their popularity, while keeping their loyal fan base happy as well. The album has just been reissued in a new, deluxe edition, with some fine bonus material, including a 21-track live show from the tour.
Blue Cheer - Rocks Europe (Rainman) review Heavy rock trailblazers' last stand
One of the keys to success in life is to outlive all of your detractors. Blue Cheer, once reviled by critics for their form of low brow sonic fury, are now hailed as pioneers of both modern heavy metal and punk. Rocks Europe is a document of the band’s final tour before the passing of vocalist, bassist, and longest-tenured member, Dickie Peterson.
Lisa Germano - No Elephants (Badman Records) review How about something off the beaten path?
The music business is in an unprecedented rut. We’ve been without a bona fide new trend in music for over a decade. Which is why, when something comes along like No Elephants, the new album from Lisa Germano, it’s just a breath of badly-needed fresh air.
Greg Lake - Songs of a Lifetime (Esoteric) review The voice of ELP & King Crimson revisits his past, and tells some great stories
It’s no longer an option - it’s imperative that every classic rock musician tell his story. While we wait on Greg Lake’s installment (to be titled Lucky Man - out late Summer), here comes Songs of a Lifetime, which acts as an audio accompaniment to the upcoming book.
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