Sunday, March 23, 2014

Legendary artists celebrated via captivating collections

This week marks the release of new discs from iconic country singer Johnny Cash and prog-rock powerhouse ASIA, as well as a reworking of many of Bob Dylan's best 1980s songs courtesy of a number of modern day artists.  

Artist: Johnny Cash
Title: Out Among The Stars (Legacy Recordings/Sony Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings
Tell me more: A collection of lost tracks recorded by the late Johnny Cash in the early 1980s are featured on the wonderful Out Among The Stars. This is no mere reworking of previously-heard material; Out Among The Stars is a full-length disc of fantastic material produced by Billy Sherrill that showcases Cash's innumerable talents. The Man In Black's gift for musical storytelling ("If I Told You Who It Was," "I Drove Her Out Of My Mind"), heartfelt country ballads ("Tennessee"), rockabilly ("Rock and Roll Shoes") and his singular gift singing on a duet ("I'm Moving On" with Waylon Jennings; "Don't You Think It's Come Our Time" with June Carter Cash) and faith-minded country gospel ("I Came to Believe") shine across this album. His emotive and sparse "She Used To Love Me A Lot" resonates with the power of his Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings that were to follow in the '90s and early '00s. Information:

Get 'Out Among The Stars' now

Artist: ASIA
Title: Gravitas (Frontier Records) 
You might like if you enjoy: Yes, ELP, ASIA's early 1980s albums
Tell me more:  Gravitas finds ASIA returning with another strong collection sure to please fans of the progressive rock quartet. While original guitarist Steve Howe has officially retired from the band, new guitarist Sam Coulson brings expressive and virtuoso playing to the material performed with founding members singer-bassist John Wetton, keyboardist Geoff Downes and drummer Carl Palmer. Like Daryl Hall and Paul Rodgers, Wetton is that rare lead singer who sounds as amazing in his sixties as he did at age 30. Gravitas thrives via a mix of anthemic uptempo rockers with big choruses ("Valkyrie," "Gravitas") and artful power ballads ("The Closer I Get," "Russian Dolls"), all of which spill over with emotional and musical resonance. Information:

Get 'Gravitas CD/DVD' collection here

Various Artists: Built To Spill, Glen Hansard, Deer Tick, more
Album: Bob Dylan in the 80s: Volume One (ATO Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Bob Dylan, Glen Hansard, Blitzen Trapper, Tea Leaf Green
Tell me more: While Bob Dylan's 1980s recordings are not nearly as celebrated as his seminal work in the '60s and '70s, a new collection (Bob Dylan in the 80s: Volume One) of reworkings of songs stretching from 1980's "Saved" to 1990's "Under The Red Sky" is casting a renewed look at Robert Allen Zimmerman's work created during that span. Built To Spill's version of the lyrical rocker "Jokerman," Craig Finn's authentic take on the softhearted "Sweetheart Like You," Glen Hansard's mighty interpretation of the gospel-tinged "Pressing On" and Deer Tick's charming "Night After Night" are among the many standouts. Information:

Get 'Bob Dylan in the 80's: Volume One'

Robert Kinsler

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