Category Archives: Current Album Reviews

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

Rayburn – The Living End (review)

Rayburn – The Living End (Excited States Entertainment) review

Get ready to reconnect with the loud function on your volume knob

There was a time when rock music was fun, when people weren’t ashamed of being good musicians, and when people weren’t afraid to write catchy songs.  Rayburn recalls the best of those times with the release of their new album, The Living End.

The disc begins with “At the Gate,” a hybrid of Led Zeppelin and Kansas with a harmony-infused chorus.  “Malachi” is a furious rocker with a killer repetitive riff and an explosive chorus.  The combination of heavy guitar and organ recall what we loved about bands like Deep Purple.

The moody “Jealous Mistress” has a psychedelic feel, while the bluesy “Deep in Blue” has a Tin Pan Alley vibe.   “Almost Home” is the album’s real surprise, a radio-ready smash, if only there was good rock radio around to play it.

“Madness” starts quiet but builds to a big ending, complete with strings. The funky “I Still Believe” features a great guitar solo at the end that recalls Steve Howe’s finest moments with Yes. The disc ends with the yearning “Journey” and then the short, acoustic “Not Going Back.”

Vocalist Danny Archer has a clear voice, capable of a lot of different emotions, yet throughout he only gives the songs what they need, never over-singing (a common problem in this genre).

The Rayburn guys are basically old-school Prog Rockers (one peek at their album cover and you get that).  But, unlike so many of their contemporaries, the band understands the art of writing good melodies, and it’s that emphasis, instead of showing off, that really elevates these tracks.

Melodic hooks, excellent playing, and some nods to the past – The Living End is hopefully not the last time we hear from Rayburn.  —Tony Peters

Tony Hadley – The Christmas Album (review)

Tony Hadley – The Christmas Album (Omnivore Recordings / Universal Music Group) review

The voice of Spandau Ballet turns in a holiday album that sparkles with the wonder of the season

Spandau Ballet were a much bigger deal in their native England, but they did manage one monster Eighties’ smash in the US with “True” in 1983.  Tony Hadley, the band’s vocalist, has just released his first seasonal offering titled The Christmas Album, and it’s a surprisingly solid listen.   What elevates things is his uncanny choices, which keep things interesting.

The album opens with “Shake Up Christmas,” a song originally performed by Train, but here, Hadley actually improves on their version by imparting a sincerity that’s missing in the original.  Hadley keeps the gentle funk but honestly, he’s got a better voice than Pat Monahan, so it’s overall a success.  He adds a Celtic feel to Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas,” and invites fellow Eighties’ star Kim Wilde for a smooth rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  Wilde’s sultry delivery suggest that perhaps she should do a Christmas album too?

Not sure I’ve ever heard someone do a cover of Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” but Hadley pulls it off, even adding a sax solo.  With “Fairytale of New York,” originally done by the Pogues and Kirsty McCall, he removes some of the desperation of the original, with help from Italian pop sensation Nini Zilli.  Then, Hadley digs deep into the holiday vaults for tracks like “Lonely This Christmas,” originally done in 1974 by the English glam band Mud, and “Driving Home This Christmas,” a Chris Rea song that captures the anticipation of traveling long distances to see loved ones.

Hadley acknowledges in his liner notes that the holiday season isn’t always a joyous time for everyone – and by including songs like “I Don’t Want to Spend Another Christmas Without You,” and the aforementioned “Lonely This Christmas,” he captures some of the pain and sadness that also accompanies the holidays.

If there’s one minor quibble, it’s that the disc runs a little too long.  18 tracks is a lot to take in, and there’s so many great performances here, there’s really no need for too-obvious choices like “Jingle Bells.”

A modern Christmas album from a legendary voice. –Tony Peters

 

Sony Legacy Holiday Vinyl Series (review)


Sony Legacy – Holiday Vinyl Album Series (review)

Give your turntable something fun to do around the holidays

There’s something warm and inviting about playing vinyl around the holidays.  And, with turntables easier to obtain than they have been in years, it’s the perfect time to reconnect with physical music.  Sony Legacy has just issued a quintet of Christmas albums on vinyl, perfect for that holiday get-together.

Elvis Presley – Merry Christmas Baby – The King’s holiday output has been repackaged numerous times, but this may be the of the bunch.  Of the 17 tracks, all eight of the songs he recorded for his very first Christmas album in 1957 are here, including “Blue Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Back in Town,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Santa Bring My Baby Back.”  This is coupled with the eight best songs from his followup, Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas from 1971, with the real highlight being the searing rendition of “Merry Christmas Baby,” which ends in an extended jam.  There’s also the one-off Christmas tune from 1966, “If Every Day Was Like Christmas,” making this the quintessential Elvis yuletide album.

As an added bonus, random copies are pressed on either seasonal red or green vinyl.  And thankfully,  none of his recent “duets” with current singers are included.

Johnny Cash – Christmas – There’ll Be Peace in the Valley – Like Elvis, Johnny Cash recorded several Christmas albums, and the goal here is to bring together the best of everything.  Off his 1963 LP, The Christmas Spirit, you get eight tracks, including his classic reading of “The Little Drummer Boy,” plus “Silent Night” and a very different take on “Blue Christmas, and a song Cash wrote called “The Christmas Spirit.”  1972’s

The Johnny Cash Family Christmas is an album full of dialogue from the singer’s family and friends, and is better listened to in its entirety.  However, many of the songs stand on their own, including the spine-tingling “Opening Dialogue,” in which Cash talks about the true meaning of the holiday.  The rousing “Christmas Time’s A-Comin’” features June Carter Cash, and is another highlight.  They do throw in one curveball – “Matthew 24 (Is Knocking At the Door)” is a recently unearthed spiritual track that originally showed up on 2006’s Personal File compilation.

Various Artists – The Classic Big Band Christmas Album – the most refreshing of all these collections, virtually none of these songs get played on any of the 24-hours-a-day Christmas stations that pop up in October on FM dials around the country.  Plus, there’s a fair amount of original material here to keep things interesting. There’s legendary bands fronted by legendary vocalists, like Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman on the bouncy “Winter Weather,” and Doris Day fronting Les Brown’s Orchestra on a sultry reading of “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You).”  Even Woody Herman himself steps to the mic for “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

A lot of ground is covered here, from 1932’s “It’s Winter Again” by Isham Jones to 1951’s “Winter Wonderland” by Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra.  There’s also a few silly tunes thrown in for good measure – “Hello, Mr. Kringle” is brought to you by Kay Kyser and his Orchestra, the same folks responsible for the ridiculous “Three Little Fishes,” and where would Christmas be without Spike Jones’ “All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)”?

Various Artists – The Classic Christmas 80’s Album – Probably the strangest of the bunch, this collection brings together the rather elusive “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses, plus the ubiquitous “Last Christmas” by Wham, and the harder to find “Christmas is the Time to Say ‘I Love You’” from Billy Squier, and couples them with odd choices like “Zat You Santa Claus” from Buster Poindexter and “Slick Nick, You Devil You” from Fishbone – definitely weak choices considering the vast Sony catalog that they had at their disposal.

You do get “Christmas in Hollis” by Run DMC, and “Jingle Bell Rock” by Daryl Hall (not Hall & Oates as the jacket suggests).  But dubious selections like “Hazy Shade of Winter” by the Bangles (is that really a Christmas song?), and “This One’s For the Children” from New Kids on the Block, make this difficult to listen without picking up the needle.  “Christmas Time is Here” by Ray Parker Jr is less familiar, and you can’t go wrong with “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Bob & Doug McKenzie.  But, there is certainly better fare from the Eighties than the Hooters “Silent Night.”

Luther Vandross – This is Christmas – the only straight reissue of the five, this album originally came out in 1995 to coincide with a TV special that Vandross did of the same name.  There’s a warmth and coziness to these tracks, and the singer manages to wrap most in a groove.  Especially good is the funky “The MistleTOE JAM,” with a hilarious spoken-word intro.  Echoes of Phil Spector surround “I Listen to the Bells,” which features Darlene Love, also in fine voice.

But what sets this collection above so many others is that instead of rehashing the tired old classics, Vandross actually wrote most of the material himself.  “With A Christmas Heart” and “This is Christmas” have a sincerity that is missing from most of these type albums, and “Please Come Home For Christmas” is refreshingly NOT the Eagles/Charles Brown shop-worn classic, but a newly-penned Vandross ballad.  “A Kiss For Christmas” has a funky groove that is reminiscent of Marvin Gaye.

The five albums in this collection represent a wide variety of holiday classics to choose from.  The good music is covered, the rest is up to you.  Tony Peters

Ventures – The Ventures Christmas Album (review)

Ventures – The Ventures Christmas Album (Real Gone Music / Universal Music Special Markets) review

The best rock n’ roll instrumental holiday album just got remastered

The holidays are supposed to be joyous. But nothing kills that spirit quite like hearing the same, tired old Christmas tunes, over and over. Well, let’s hear it for Real Gone Music, who have just reissued the Ventures Christmas Album, sure to brighten up even the grumpiest of Scrooges.

The Ventures were always great at giving their unique, twangy take on current hits. But here, they take things to another level. Each Christmas classic starts out as a completely different song – mostly popular hits of the mid 1960’s. So, “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” actually starts out as “Wooly Bully,” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” grabs the beginning of the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine.” Other examples are “What’d I Say” morphing into “Jingle Bells,” “Memphis” opening up the start of “Jingle Bell Rock,” and even the Ventures own “Walk Don’t Run” switching into “Sleigh Ride.”

The titles are ones you’ve heard a million times, but the band plays them with such energy and excitement that you really don’t mind hearing them again.

A big selling point here is that Real Gone has not only given us the original stereo mix, but also tracked down the super rare mono mix, making its debut on compact disc. The stereo version has the instruments spread out in the stereo spectrum, allowing generations of budding guitarists the opportunity to analyze what each Ventures’ member is playing. The mono mix is arguably more enjoyable – as everything is front and center, allowing for a more even listening experience.

Either version of the album clocks in at under 27 minutes, so it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome. The Ventures Christmas Album is the perfect cure for the holiday blues. –Tony Peters.

Erroll Garner – Ready Take One [vinyl edition] (review)

Erroll Garner – Ready Take One (Legacy / Octave Music) review

A stellar release, made even better when experienced on vinyl

These days, virtually all new releases get issued on vinyl.  Yet, so much of it seems like either a cash-in or an afterthought, with no regard for what used to be “the vinyl experience.”  That’s what makes Ready Take One, a 2-LP set of newly-discovered recordings from one of the giants of jazz piano, Erroll Garner, such a pure delight: it’s as if these tracks were tailor made for the analog LP format.

Issued digitally back in September, these 14 previously unreleased tracks, originally recorded from 1967-1971, are part of a collaboration between the estates of Garner and his longtime manager/producer Martha Glaser that promises more new archival material in the coming years.

Yet, having these recordings on vinyl is an entirely different experience.

Pressed on high resolution, 150-gram vinyl, these tracks jump out of the speakers; full of warmth and clarity – something lacking when listening to streaming services or mp3s.  Legacy claims to have paid special attention to the LP release, and it certainly shows.

Everything about this says top notch: the stunning cover, featuring the pianist’s name in embossed lettering, the gatefold cover’s inside photos of Garner and Glaser in the studio, and the accompanying 12 x12 booklet, featuring extensive liner notes and photos (some exclusive to this vinyl version).

Then, there’s the music.  Of the 14 performances, six are original Garner compositions, never-before heard.

If you only know Erroll Garner from Concert By the Sea, prepare to be blown away

Despite releasing that genre-defining album back in 1956, one listen to Ready Take One, and it’s obvious that the pianist experienced tremendous creative growth in the ten years that followed. Record one, side one begins with the Latin funk of “High Wire” – opening with the sound of a fretless bass, before becoming a showcase for Garner’s unique style – his right hand fluidly roaming the keys, often to a dizzying effect, while his left pounds out the rhythm, all the while happily grunting along.

Another standout is his soulful rendition of Bobby Hebb’s pop nugget, “Sunny.”  The song starts, in typical Garner fashion, with some opening lines that give no indication of the melody.  But, things eventually settle into a gentle groove.  Why this wasn’t considered for a single is a real head-scratcher.

He also tackles familiar territory, with tracks like Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” and Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll” – after introducing the melody, he takes things to surprising places. The real treat is saved for last – a gorgeous take on his own signature song, “Misty.”  It’s rare that an artist’s best-known track is handled so delicately the second time around.

One of the great aspects of this set is the in-between song banter between Garner, Glaser and the bandmates.  In fact, the album’s title comes from Glaser’s habit of saying “Ready, Take One” to start each recording.  She shouts an encouraging “more!” at the end of a spirited “I Want to Be Happy,”  and “you got it that time” after “Chase Me.”

Just because these tracks are previously unreleased, doesn’t mean they’re throwaways.  Quite the contrary – Ready Take One is full of breathtaking performances.  This album immediately ranks as one of Erroll Garner’s best – a must for any fan of classic jazz.  –Tony Peters

 

Peter Case – Peter Case (review)

Peter Case – Peter Case (30th anniversary edition) (Omnivore Recordings) review

After the breakup of Peter Case’s band the Plimsouls (who had a minor MTV hit in 1983 with “A Million Miles Away”), he stepped out on his own for a solo career.  But, instead of continuing with the rockin’ power pop of his previous band, Case scaled everything back for an acoustic-based album, at a time when everyone else was embracing the screaming guitars of the Big Eighties.  The result, Peter Case, has just been reissued by Omnivore Recordings, complete with seven bonus tracks.

The record opens with the sparse “Echo Wars,” featuring a haunting harmonica solo, signaling this new direction in Case’s career.  “Icewater” and “Walk in the Woods” are both stripped-down tracks, based in the blues.

This disc is credited for jump starting the roots movement, later called Americana.  Yet, Peter Case isn’t a typical folk album – there’s straight-ahead rockers like “Satellite Beach” (featuring guitar from guest Mike Campbell) and the moody “More Than Curious.”   Then, there’s “Three Days Straight,” propelled by a hypnotic Linn drum pattern, the track is augmented by background vocals from Victoria Williams.

The standout track is “Old Blue Car” – sounding like a great lost rock/blues track from the Sun Studios, the song received significant airplay on college radio.  The original album closed with “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” written by the Pogues’ Shane McGowan (but actually released before their version, thanks to an association with producer Elvis Costello).

The bonus cuts run the gamut from the acoustic “Trusted Friend,” to the synth drum-led “Toughest Gang in Town” and a tamboura-infused early version of “More Than Curious.”

This was one of the earliest production credits of T-Bone Burnett, who famously said he’d quit the music business if this record didn’t sell a million copies.  Well, it fell way short of that lofty goal, and Burnett thankfully did not make good on that particular promise. But it has done something else – stood the test of time.  While so many albums from the mid-Eighties now sound horribly out of step (most because of the over-hyped drum sound and synths), Peter Case sounds as fresh as the day it was released.  That, is what you call redemption.  —Tony Peters

Eddie Money – The Complete Hits and More! (review)

Eddie Money – The Complete Hits and More! (Real Gone / Sony) review

Two disc retrospective offers some surprises

He was an unlikely star – Eddie Money, a former NY policeman-turned singer, first hit with his debut single in 1978, “Baby Hold On.”  Real Gone has just issued The Complete Hits and More, the most comprehensive collection of his career.

The title lives up to its billing, grabbing smashes like “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Think I’m in Love” and “Take Me Home Tonight” (a duet with Ronnie Spector), along with seldom-heard, latter day hits like “Walk on Water” and “Peace in Our Time.”

A two-disc set means that there’s room for great album cuts like “Wanna Be a Rock n’ Roll Star,” off his debut LP, and “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” off Life For the Taking, his followup.  But, Money didn’t always make the best career decisions, and neither the reggae-infused “Running Back,” nor the stretch pants, synth-heavy “The Big Crash” hold up particularly well.  But, with 35 total tracks, there’s some pleasant surprises too – his lightly funky reworking of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got a Hold on Me” is quite good, while the discofied “Maybe I’m a Fool” sounds shockingly fresh. “We Should Be Sleeping” is a great rocker and the acoustic version of “She Takes My Breath Away” is a decent, latter-day ballad.

One of the selling points of this set is the inclusion of Livin’ It Up, a 4-song live EP recorded in Los Angeles in 1979, but released only to radio.  The quartet of tracks:  “Maureen,” “Rock and Roll the Place,” “Love the Way You Love Me,” and “Gimme Some Water” are all making their debut on CD (although, these sound more like studio tracks with fake crowd noise inserted, and are not improvements over their studio counterparts). But, for devoted Money fans, this is a very nice find.

Eddie Money’s career was a series of peaks and valleys. For those just wanting the high points, a collection like The Sound of Money will be sufficient.  But, for those wanting a more comprehensive look at his entire body of work, you should check out The Complete Hits and More!  —Tony Peters

Various Artists -Jazz Haunts & Magic Vaults (review)

Various Artists – Jazz Haunts & Magic Vaults: The New Lost Classics of Resonance Records (Resonance) review

No label has done more to further the legacy of jazz in 2016

It’s been a banner year for Resonance Records. The independent, California jazz label has unearthed a treasure trove of archival material from legendary artists like Bill Evans, Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Sarah Vaughan, Larry Young and Shirley Horn. To celebrate, they’ve just issued Jazz Haunts & Magic Vaults, featuring a taste of all the aforementioned artists, plus samplers of future releases by Wes Montgomery, Dennis Coffey, and Gene Harris.

Resonance isn’t merely reissuing classic jazz, they’re adding to the language of the genre, by scouring the four corners of the Earth, in search of rare recordings that help enhance our understanding of some of the greatest artists in jazz.

Take for example, the label’s Bill Evans’ release, Some Other Time. This is the only known studio recording featuring the great Jack DeJohnette on drums. One listen to the propulsive percussion on “How About You?” and you understand the significance of this release (it also marks the first time a Resonance release topped Billboard’s Jazz Albums Chart). This isn’t a bottom-of-the-barrel release, but a missing piece in this hugely influential jazz pianist’s career.

Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz helped kick off the Bossa Nova craze of the 1960’s, but they rarely reunited after their initial pairing. “Aguas De Marco” is a sample of a rare live date, captured on Getz/Gilberto ’76.

There is a real human element that comes through all of this music. It’s as if we were secretly given the keys to a time machine and allowed to go back to when all of these great artists were still among the living. It is a veritable who’s who of classic jazz – from the hard funk of Freddie Hubbard’s “Happiness is Now,” to the Big Band swing of “Low Down” from Thad Jones & the Mel Lewis Orchestra. It’s also great to hear the contrast in singing styles in Shirley Horn and Sarah Vaughan. And the organ playing of Larry Young on “Luny Tune” is incredibly infectious.

Of the unreleased material – “Fuzz” falls outside Resonance’s usual jazz scope. Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey turns in a live extended, funky jam, complete with distorted guitar. The Wes Montgomery track, “The End of a Love Affair,” is of fine quality, and dates back to the start of the guitarist fronting his own band (listen to him quote “In the Hall of the Mountain King”). The Gene Harris track, teamed with the Three Sounds, comes from Groovin’ Hard: Live at the Penthouse (1964-68), and shows off the pianist’s deft playing. All three releases are coming soon from Resonance.

Because they wanted to keep the cost down, one thing that this sampler does not have is the typical, extended liner notes that have become a hallmark of Resonance releases. To get those, you need to track down these original, full-length albums. Because of the high quality of these performances, Jazz Haunts & Magic Vaults actually makes an excellent introduction to classic jazz, and to further listening from Resonance Records. Tony Peters

Devon Allman – Ride or Die (review)

Devon Allman – Ride or Die (Ruf Records) review

Allman delivers a solid third solo album

It’s been said that you can’t properly sing the blues until you’ve gotten your heart broken.    Well, Devon Allman is fresh off a breakup, and he’s channeled those emotions into one of his finest albums to date, Ride or Die.

The disc opens with the blistering “Say Your Prayers”; propelled by big drums and a sinister guitar line, Allman sings of riding out a storm, admitting that “the sunshine will becoming back” but until then “keep yourself safe, hiding away.”  There’s a big phat wah wah-heavy guitar solo too.

Things quickly shift gears for the soulful (and more optimistic) “Find Ourselves,” featuring tasty sax from Ron Holloway, and an excellent chorus.    If there’s one thing that stands out on this new record, it’s that many of the tracks have a heavy funk overtone, like “Galaxies” (where the album’s title, Ride or Die, comes from).  There’s an extended, emotionally charged guitar solo near the end.

Even when Allman scales things back, as on the acoustic “Lost,” there’s still a somber tone, and a crying solo. “Vancouver” is where he lays all his pain on the table, lamenting about the start of his relationship and how he’d change so many things, if he could do them all over again.  The addition of violins adds another voice echoing the sadness.

We get a respite from the darkness with the bouncy “Hold Me,” which features some great piano from Kevin McKendree. The album’s best track is buried near the end – the jangly “Live From the Heart” is propelled by a 12-string guitar and shows that Allman is more than capable of writing a catchy hook.

Allman has made it a practice of putting at least one cover song on his albums – previously he’s tackled Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around,” but the Cure’s “A Night Like This” seems like a choice out of left field.  Yet, he gives the track some guitar bite and the lyrics seem to be right at home with the darker material surrounding it.

Probably the best thing about Ride or Die is that it sounds like Devon Allman – meaning that he’s found his voice and a style that suits him perfectly.  Despite the heavy subject matter, Allman has crafted memorable songs that stick with you long after you hit the stop button.  —Tony Peters

Otis Redding – Live at the Whisky A Go Go – The Complete Recordings (review)

Otis Redding – Live at the Whisky A Go Go – The Complete Recordings (Stax / Concord) review

One of the greatest soul singers – turned wide slam open!

Otis Redding really was the quintessential soul singer. While contemporaries had their roots in gospel (Sam Cooke) or jazz (Ray Charles), Redding emerged from the farmlands of Georgia, and that combination of Southern charm and gritty delivery set him apart from all others. Yet, so little remains of his live performances. That’s what makes Live at the Whisky A Go Go – The Complete Recordings, such a revelation. By offering seven complete performances, we see that Otis really was that good.

The fact that Redding’s record company gave him the green light to record a live album, despite being a relative unknown outside the R&B market, was a bold move. Even more risky, they chose to do the recordings at the Whisky, typically a rock n’ roll club. Yet, the moment he takes the stage, he owns the audience.

Redding is backed, not by Booker T & the MGs (who accompanied him to Europe and were also featured on the legendary Monterey Pop Festival footage), but by his personal touring band. These guys are less polished; the guitar is distorted, the drums are very loud, and the horns blare, sometimes a little out of tune – but these guys are real, and that comes through loud and clear.

Many of Redding’s most well-known songs are here – “These Arms of Mine,” “Mr. Pitiful,” “Respect,” and especially, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” – all featured in blistering performances. The Whisky gigs were intimate enough where members of the audience could request songs and the singer would oblige. Take for example, on the final show, Redding says “it’s time to go home,” but a fan asks “Otis, can you do ‘These Arms of Mine,’” and he says yes. By leaving in the in-between banter, his personality really comes through. Plus, you get to hear him guiding the band – literally at the end of a song shouting out what he wants next, and the band is at the ready.

Otis mentions several times that they’re recording a live record – “Help us sell this album, we need them dollars, y’all. We got to eat next week!”

Several songs are repeated over and over. In fact, there’s no less than ten versions of his funky reading of the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” each with Redding heavily ad libbing the words, while the band works things to a furious ending. They must’ve earmarked “Good to Me” as a potential single, because they spotlight that one several times too.

The final night’s performance is where everyone lets their hair down. In fact, Redding says “since tonight is the last night, and the man has paid us off, we’re gonna goof up a little bit.” It’s the only time they run through the killer “Destiny,” and Redding transforms the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” into a ferocious stomper. He ends up singing the song’s original first verse seven times, never bothering with anything else. But, it doesn’t matter, as the horns punctuate the “When I Get Home to YOU” – it turns into a funky groove. And when he sings that “everything’s gonna be alright,” you truly do believe it.

One of the set’s real standouts is a ten minute version of “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” The song kind of falls apart and Redding says “we ain’t no James Brown,” but the crowd roars in disapproval and the band starts the song again. This time, they cook, and end up falling into a long groove. Redding at one point asks “are you tired”?

One listen to these performances, and you’ll be convinced that Otis Redding was one of the most electrifying performers in the history of soul music. But, by leaving in the talking, laughing, and joking around, this goes way beyond a typical live album – we actually feel like Redding is in the room with us. Live at the Whisky A Go Go – The Complete Performances is indispensable for any fan of classic soul. —Tony Peters