Current Album Reviews
Our take on some of the latest material from a variety of artists.
Beach Boys - Made in California (box set review) (Capitol / UME) A lovingly-assembled, 6-disc anthology of “America’s band” - made for the iPod, with 60 previously-unreleased tracks
No other band has better captured the American spirit quite like the Beach Boys. How a teenage group of brothers & friends from working-class families, who could scarcely play their instruments, managed to place a song on the national charts, starting a musical career that’s been going strong for five decades now, is truly the stuff of legends. Made in California tells that story better than any other Beach Boys’ compilation, because it digs deeper, unearthing lost gems alongside bona fide hits, key album tracks and live cuts. It tells the complete story - the dizzying highs, the frustrating lows. And with the recent success of their reunion tour and fantastic new album, it puts a storybook ending on their tremendous career.
Sammy Hagar - Sammy Hagar & Friends (Frontiers) review The Red Rocker throws a party - and invites all his buddies
In Sammy Hagar’s post-Van Halen career, he’s been able to follow his muse wherever it leads him. Sometimes it’s with his solo band the Wabos, sometimes it’s with his supergroup Chickenfoot, and oftentimes it’s with whomever happens to stop by his Cabo Wabo restaurant in San Lucas, Mexico. In that time, he’s had a chance to make some new friends, and get re-acquainted with old ones. Sammy Hagar & Friends connects all of this together in his first-ever collaboration album.
Tony 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 Quest (Shanachie) review
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 (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 Presley - Elvis at Stax - Deluxe Edition (Legacy Recordings) review
Three-disc box set captures the King at the legendary Memphis studio
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 Avenue (Ruf Records) review
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 Time (review)
Ethereal ear candy from Australia
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.
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