Sunday January 25

Current Album Reviews

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

Elvis - That's the Way It Is (8-CD / 2_DVD box set)Elvis Presley - That’s the Way It Is (box set) (RCA / Legacy) review

A rare opportunity to marvel at Presley’s prowess as a live performer


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When it comes to Elvis, you’d think that by 2014, there wouldn’t be any more “firsts.”  But, with a reissue of That’s the Way It Is, in a new 8-CD, 2-DVD set, it marks the first time that the album and movie of the same name have been available in the same package.


Four Seasons - Classic Albums BoxFrankie Valli & the Four Seasons - The Classic Albums Box (Rhino) review



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So, you’re an avid Four Seasons fan?  This one’s for you - The Classic Albums Box collects a whopping eighteen albums, which represents most, but not all of this pioneering vocal group’s LP’s in one place (more on that later) -  all housed in mini replicas of the album jackets.

Heart - Fanatic Live From Caesars ColosseumHeart - Fanatic Live from Caesars Colosseum (Frontiers) review

Hands down, Heart is the best classic rock band you can see in concert today…period


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While most veteran rock bands are a mere shadow of what they used to be, Ann & Nancy Wilson, and Company are still providing high energy performances that rival anything they did back in the Seventies.  Seems unbelievable?  Fanatic Live from Caesars Colosseum, a new CD/DVD set, is proof.

Liptick, Powder & Paint - Various ArtistsVarious Artists - Lipstick, Powder & Paint - A Decade of Girls 1953-1962 (Fantastic Voyage) review

It’s amazing to think back to a time when women were a mere footnote in the music business.  Heck, they were relegated to the title of “girl singer” in the Big Band era, and weren’t even allowed to join the Musician’s Union.  Lipstick, Powder & Paint is a three-disc collection that traces those early steps the ladies took to gain their independence.

Lulu - The Atco SessionsLulu - The Atco Sessions 1969-72 (Real Gone Music) review

To soul with love


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Ahhh…that Atlantic Soul sound.  Cultivated in the South, it’s what makes those Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett records sound so good.  British singer Lulu might seem like an odd choice to record for the label, since her biggest US hit was the sweeping “To Sir With Love” in 1967.  But, the 5’1’’ sparkplug did indeed release two records on the Atlantic subsidiary, Atco - collected here as The Atco Sessions, a two-disc set that also features b-sides and unreleased tracks from the time period.

Davina & the Vagabonds - SunshineDavina & the Vagabonds - Sunshine (Roustabout Records) review


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The first thing you hear on Sunshine, the new record from Davina & the Vagabonds, is singer Davina Sowers’ voice as if it’s being played on an old Victrola, coming at you from the distant past.  But then the band kicks in, the sound sharpens, and “Sunshine” rolls out: a mid-tempo number, layered with horns that makes you want to clap your hands.  There, in a span of a mere twenty seconds, is the essence of this great Minneapolis band: taking elements of the past (blues & New Orleans jazz), wrapping them in infectious melodies, and playing them with youthful abandon.

Jersey Boys SoundtrackThe Jersey Boys - Music From the Motion Picture and Broadway Musical (Rhino) review

While the Clint Eastwood-directed movie concentrates on the darker side of the Four Seasons’ story, the soundtrack is pure fun.


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While assembling this new soundtrack, Bob Gaudio, the Four Seasons’ primary songwriter, had a dilemma: how to capture the energy of the movie and Broadway musical while staying true to the original music?  Well, he succeeds by using elements both old and new.  As a result, the Jersey Boys Soundtrack works as both a starting point for novices and a fun listen for long-time fans.

Spanky & Our Gang - Complete Mercury SinglesSpanky & Our Gang - Complete Mercury Singles (Real Gone Music) review

Harmony-laden bliss, in mono!


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Even though they hailed from Chicago, Spanky & Our Gang fit perfectly into the mid-Sixties’ mellow pop sounds coming out of California with bands like the Mamas & the Papas, and the Turtles.  Yet, they certainly don’t get their due like those other bands.  Which is a shame, because the Complete Mercury Singles shows that the band was capable of really great things.

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