Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Legends and upstarts impress on new titles

Several bona fide legends are featured on new must-own DVD/Blu-ray and audio CD titles, while several under-the-radar releases will also awe discerning listeners.

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Olé Olé Olé! A Trip Across Latin America (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger
Tell me more: One of the most interesting and insightful rock 'n' roll documentary films in memory, director Paul Dugdale's Olé Olé Olé! A Trip Across Latin America chronicles The Rolling Stones' historic 2016 tour through 10 Latin America cities. This is a multi-layered film; while the obvious focus of the documentary is to champion the legendary British band's legacy and the complex bond shared between the members of the group, the film provides a simultaneous look at the challenging logistics of setting up a free concert in Cuba amidst an ambitious tour attracting massive and adoring audiences from Argentina north to Mexico. The film is beautifully shot and really captures the colorful places and people throughout the Rolling Stones' tour. In addition to the full-length film, bonus features on the title include seven full-length performances caught along the way including an incredible version of "Out Of Control" in Buenos Aires, Argentina and free wheeling "Miss You" delivered in Lima, Peru. Information: eagle-rock.com.

Artist: Little Steven
Title: Soulfire (Wicked Cool Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Bruce Springsteen, Tommy Castro, Little Steven
Tell me more: When you're a member of Bruce Springsteen's acclaimed E Street Band, have been busy acting in several great TV dramas ("The Sopranos," "Lilyhammer") and also hosting the popular "Little Steven's Underground Garage" syndicated radio show since 2002, it's easy to see why Steven Van Zandt hasn't released a new studio album in more than 15 years. But heck, it sure is great to hear the singer-songwriter-guitarist back on the aptly-titled Soulfire. The songs here explode with soul, rhythm and blues and the groundbreaking sounds that influenced the rocker in his youth. The title track has Little Steven's raspy vocals perfectly tuned to the soulful rocker's clarion call; "I'm Coming Back" is a lush and lovely reminisce of the past that is bolstered by some creative guitar play and wonderful backing gospel vocals. Lovers of Southern blues will be swept up by the rousing cover of "Blues is my Business," while a tinge of garage rock helps fuel the R&B delight "I Saw the Light." He even even revisits the sounds of vocal harmonies-centered '50s Doo-wop on the winning "The City Weeps Tonight." Little Steven and long-time friend Springsteen co-wrote "Love On the Wrong Side of Town," a gorgeous tale of romantic loss adorned with symphonic textures layered atop of Little Steven's emotive vocals. Information: universalmusicenterprises.com or LittleSteven.com.

Artist: Bad Company
Title: Live in Concert 1977 & 1979 (Rhino)
You might like if you enjoy: Paul Rodgers, Free
Tell me more: During Bad Company's initial run from 1973 to 1982, the British outfit was a true rock 'n' roll juggernaut scoring hit singles and albums, and filling stadiums on both sides of the Pond. Yet the majority of fans of the supergroup's potent live shows from that period have had to rely mostly on memories or bootlegs to revisit the power of those concerts. Rhino Records' release of Bad Company's Live in Concert 1977 & 1979 is an epic audio CD release featuring two full-length shows with the group's original lineup of singer Paul Rodgers, guitarist Mick Ralphs, drummer Simon Kirke and bassist Box Burrell. Disc one features Bad Company performing in Houston, Texas in May 1977, while the second disc includes a concert recording taped in Wembley, London in 1979 (and an additional track, a terrific version of "Hey Joe" recorded in Washington, DC that same year). Across the two discs, the band delivers epic versions of their best-known material ("Burnin' Sky," "Ready For Love," Shooting Star," ""Feel Like Making' Love" and more) as well as affecting takes on a slew of other album tracks. Information: rhino.com.

Artist: Samantha Fish
Title: Chills & Fever (Ruf Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Janiva Magness, James Hunter Six
Tell me more: The fourth album release from singer-songwriter-guitarist Samantha Fish finds the Kansas City, Missouri native stretching her sonic wings to inject an authentic blend of Motown soul and R&B into her established blues-meets-roots rock brew. Armed with a far-reaching soprano and dexterity on the fretboard to match, Fish has somehow found a musical place that recalls the classic sounds of Motown mixed with electric blues. Recorded at The 45 Factory in Detroit, Chills & Fever teams Fish with a supporting cast that includes a horn section that adds particular magic to the tracks. Standouts on the excellent 14-song disc include the dynamic "He Did It," the playful title cut and lead guitar-anchored "You Can't Go." Information: rufrecords.de.

Artist: Fastball
Title: Step Into Light (33 1/3)
You might like if you enjoy: Weezer, Fastball, the Jayhawks
Tell me more: Fastball is back. The Austin, Texas-based trio's new studio album Step Into Light is a wonderful collection of melodic and smart pop-rock tunes sure to please lovers of top-tier songcraft. Fastball's first album since 2009's Little White Lies, the new 12-song set Step Into Light features a wide range of infectious songs including the rocking lead-off track "We're On Our Way," the shimmering power pop gem "Just Another Dream," surf rock-styled instrumental "Tanzania" and the sweeping Americana-flavored title track. "Step Into Light" also finds Fastball's all-original lineup (Tony Scalzo, Miles Zuniga and Joey Shuffield) stretching their sound as evidenced by the album-ending art rocker "Lillian Gish" and genre-defying "Frenchy and the Punk." Fastball is on tour, and will be performing at House of Blues in Anaheim on Thursday, June 29. You can get more information on that concert date here. Information: fastballtheband.com.

Robert Kinsler

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