Friday, October 21, 2016

Recent Releases Astound: Big Star, Temple of the Dog, The Mavericks, Bryan Adams, Thomas Dolby

Several truly great rock albums have been reissued via deluxe and expanded must-have versions, while new concert titles from the Mavericks and Bryan Adams, and an engrossing memoir from groundbreaking music maker Thomas Dolby make for a winning mix of music-minded offerings.

Artist: Big Star
Title: Complete Third (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Radiohead, Big Star, the Posies
Tell me more: More than 40 years after it was recorded, Big Star's "Third" LP is receiving a well-deserved deluxe and expanded treatment that inspires with every play. This 3-disc audio CD release Complete Third (soon to be available on vinyl) is sure to please every fan of the legendary Memphis-spawned power pop cult heroes, whose third album was recorded in 1974 and was deemed non-commercial and shelved resulting in the band breaking up late that year. While the third album was ultimately released commercially in 1978, and subsequently has earned its place as one of the greatest albums of all time. The newly-issued Complete Third is packed with 69 tracks; the release's three discs chronicle the path of "Third" from acoustic demos, rough and alternate mixes to the final masters. The printed material included in the package is terrific, including a wealth of photos, an essay from journalist/A&R executive Bud Scoppa, and notes from surviving Big Star member Jody Stephens, producer-musician Mitch Easter (Let's Active), Gary Louis (of the Jayhawks), Susanna Hoffs and Debbi Peterson (of the Bangles), and many more. Information:

Artist: Temple of the Dog
Title: Temple of the Dog (A&M Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone
Tell me more: Temple of the Dog released its self-titled album in April 1991, with the newly-issued 25th anniversary of the release revisiting the landmark disc featuring the legendary lineup of singer Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden fame), rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard, bassist Jeff Ament, lead guitarist Mike McCready and drummer Matt Cameron, along with Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. There are so many treasures across this wide-ranging set, but a demo of the bluesy slide guitar foray "Black Cat," live and alternative versions of the rock staple "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and an early demo of the grunge rocker "Angel of Fire" are among those I discovered. "Temple of the Dog" is available via four different configurations; a four-disc version (reviewed here) features the original album newly mixed by Brendan O' Brien, dozens of previously-unreleased tracks and demos, and live performances and videos. Information:

Artist: The Mavericks
Title: All Night Live Volume 1 (Mono Mundo Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Roy Orbison, the Mavericks, Raul Malo
Tell me more: Anyone who has ever seen the Mavericks live knows the thrill the genre-defying band brings to the concert stage with every performance. The release of All Night Live Volume 1 is an out-and-out thrill, with the quartet delivering its intoxicating mix of Americana, western Swing, early rock 'n' roll, neo-traditional country and Latin rhythms via 16 songs spanning the Miami-spawned group's career. Since reforming in 2012, singer-guitarist Raul Malo, lead guitarist Eddie Perez, drummer Paul Deakin and keyboardist/singer Jerry Dale McFadden have somehow become even more formidable as a live act than during the group's infancy when this writer first caught them in the early 1990s. On the new live set, the infectious and rich mix of styles reaches its zenith on dance-minded performances of "All Night Long," "Fall Apart," "Dance in the Moonlight" as well as via beautiful ballads such as "Back In Your Arms Again," "Pardon Me" and an affecting version of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" all showcasing Ralo's soaring tenor. Information:

Artist: Bryan Adams
Title: Wembley 1996 Live (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Bryan Adams, Melissa Etheridge, Bobby Fuller Four
Tell me more: Captured live at a sold-out Wembley Stadium on July 27, 2016, Bryan Adams and his amazing five-member band were on fire. Fortunately, cameras were rolling and Wembley 1996 Live (available on DVD and digital) fully showcases the excitement of the Canadian rocker performing a full-length set in front of 70,000 British fans. Among the standouts on the memorable concert performance are the rousing "Kids Wanna Rock," sing-along "Cuts Like a Knife," scorching "It's Only Love" featuring Melissa Etheridge sharing lead vocals with Adams (with some fiery lead guitar work from Keith Scott) and a festive cover of the Bobby Fuller Four 1966 hit "I Fought the Law." An anthemic "Heaven" with the audience singing much of the song closes out the epic performance film. Information:

Book title: The Speed of Sound: Breaking the Barriers Between Music and Technology
Author: Thomas Dolby
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Hardcover: 288 pages
Tell me more: Anyone who has seen singer-songwriter-keyboardist Thomas Dolby in concert knows he is a terrific storyteller. Thanks to the release of his fantastic new memoir "The Speed of Sound: Breaking the Barriers Between Music and Technology," new light is shed on one of the music world's most interesting and original architects. Recalling his rise from a struggling teenager barely making ends meet to fortuitous meetings with the celebrated likes of producer Robert "Mutt" Lange, Andy Partridge of XTC and pop icon Michael Jackson, Dolby expertly revisits his youth, the highs and lows of his musical career (including "She Blinded Me With Science") and recent success as a Silicon Valley innovator and university professor. The articulate, honest and fast-moving narrative sheds light on not only Dolby, but the myriad of fascinating personalities who are linked to Dolby's own unique journey. Information:

Robert Kinsler

No comments: