Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Album reviews: Dave Gahan & Soulsavers, Rage Against the Machine, 'Goosebumps' soundtrack, Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas

Dave Gahan & Soulsavers' new album was released Oct. 23, 2015. / Photo courtesy of the artist

Artist: Dave Gahan & Soulsavers
Title: Angels & Ghosts (Columbia)
You might like if you enjoy: Depeche Mode, Dave Gahan
Tell me more: Although the Depeche Mode faithful have long recognized Dave Gahan as a singer of considerable force and artistic range, his name is often sadly overlooked by the rock world at large. Maybe the English singer's latest project Dave Gahan & Soulsavers, a collaboration that is a particularly effective showcase for his vocal powers, will bring more attention to one of modern rock's greatest frontmen. Rather than immerse his rich baritone amidst the electronica of Depeche Mode, Gahan & Soulsavers' Angels & Ghosts is more rooted in blues, gospel and Americana, with the the spirited mix of nine songs recalling recent recordings from the far-flung likes of Other Lives, Florence + the Machine, the Doors and Blur's recent gem The Magic Whip. The blues guitar-drenched "Shine"  and ambitious "You Owe Me" are as melodic as they are forceful. "One Thing" is a beautiful ballad adorned by keyboards and a symphonic soundscape; "My Sun" is a sparse foray in its opening section with the song gradually building to a sweeping symphonic finale. Information: davegahan.com.

Purchase 'Angels & Ghosts' here 

Artist: Rage Against The Machine
DVD Title: Live at Finsbury Park (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Rage Against the Machine, Tom Morello
Tell me more: Few bands have fused left-leaning politics and passion with as much firepower as Rage Against The Machine. Ironically, it was a creative effort by English DJ Jon Morter and his wife Tracy in early December 2009 to promote an alternative to the seemingly inevitable  "X-Factor" winner scoring the #1 Christmas hit on the UK singles chart that led to the ultimate release of Rage Against The Machine's "Live at Finsbury Park" (available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital video). Rage Against The Machine supported a campaign to have "Killing In The Name" promoted by the influential Morter with agreement that proceeds from the sales of the single would go to charity if the single reached number one by Christmas 2009. Further thrilling fans was when the band performed a free concert in England to celebrate reaching number 1; that concert (staged on June 6, 2010) is as powerful as fans would expect. Hard-hitting rockers such as "Bulls On Parade," "Sleep Now In The Fire" and the dramatic set-ending "Killing In The Name" are delivered with the band's groundbreaking rap-metal style. Information: eagle-rock.com.

Purchase 'Live at Finsbury Park' [Blu-ray] here

Artist: Danny Elfman
Title: Goosebumps (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Sony Masterworks)
You might like if you enjoy: Soundtracks scored by Danny Elfman
Tell me more: Coming 30 years after his first film score (the delightful music for "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" released in 1985), Danny Elfman's stellar soundtrack for the newly-released movie Goosebumps is yet another achievement for the former frontman for Oingo Boingo. A beautiful and expansive 29-track soundtrack that works even apart from the film, highlights include the lovely "Ferris Wheel," urgent "Ice Rink" and tender "Camcorder." Having scored 30 or so soundtracks and being the recipient of four Academy Award nominations, wouldn't it be nice if the talented GRAMMY and Emmy Award winner received an Oscar - perhaps for this deserving soundtrack. Information: SonyMusicMasterworks.com.

Purchase 'Goosebumps (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)' here

Artist: Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas
Title: All-Time Greatest Hits (Varese Sarabande)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers
Tell me more: Even Beatles fans who possess every studio Beatles album ever released don't necessarily have every John Lennon, Paul McCartney composition. For evidence, look (and listen) no further than the new Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas retrospective All-Time Greatest Hits (Varese Sarabande Records issued the collection on Oct. 23, 2015). Managed by famed Beatles manager Brian Epstein, Kramer was the beneficiary of a number of Lennon/McCartney songs that comprised a good share of the hits he scored in the early and mid-1960s. The yearning "Bad To Me" and wistful "From A Window" are as strong as anything penned by Lennon and McCartney in the early 1960s (McCartney provided some harmonies on the latter), and the baroque pop gem "I'll Keep You Satisfied" has always struck this writer as evoking the song craft of George Harrison (even though it was penned by Lennon and McCartney). Fans of the early Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers will love the 14-track All-Time Greatest Hits, including a lovely take on the Burt Bacharach, Hal David standout "Trains and Boats and Planes." Information: VareseSarabande.com.

Get 'The Very Best Of Billy J. Kramer With The Dakotas' here

Robert Kinsler

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