Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Masterworks from U2, Kasey Chambers, Game Theory, Rosebud celebrated

Three outstanding reissues and a stunning new double CD highlight a field of new works waiting to be discovered (or rediscovered).

Artist: U2
Title: The Joshua Tree [Super Deluxe Edition] (Island Records)
You might like if you enjoy: U2, Simple Minds
Tell me more: The Super Deluxe Edition edition of U2's The Joshua Tree is a significant purchase, retailing for between $90 and $100. Yet, the newly-released box set marking the 30th anniversary of U2's 1987 masterwork is money well spent for U2's countless fans who have been filling stadiums for the band's current tour that has already garnered $62 million in its first month (according to Billboard). The new box set includes the original 11-track album, a live recording captured during the 1987 Joshua Tree Tour at Madison Square Garden, a number of B-sides and rarities, and several 2017 remixes of several of the album's songs. There is also a a beautiful hardcover book featuring photographs taken by The Edge and a folio of eight 12-inch cooler prints from band photographer Anton Corbijn. Information:

Artist: Kasey Chambers
Title: Dragonfly (Essence/MGM)
You might like if you enjoy: Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin
Tell me more: Kasey Chambers' ambitious double album Dragonfly succeeds on every imaginable level. The Australian singer-songwriter's potent songs and shining vocals always amaze, but on "Dragonfly" there is a magical quality how she moves effortlessly between country blues, bluegrass, Americana and traditional country in the service of her confessional songs. The collection is divided into two parts; disc one features the "Sing Sing Sessions" produced by Paul Kelly while the second disc features the "Foggy Mountain Sessions" produced by her brother and frequent producer Nash ChambersThe powerful "Ain't No Little Girl" finds her beautiful soprano erupting to a roar, while she can artfully rebound on the melodically lush "Summer Pillow" before masterfully moving into roots rock territory on the soaring "You Ain't Worth Suffering For" - and that's just on the first disc. The second disc features an equal number of amazing songs, including the gospel spiritual-styled "Shackle & Chain" and "No Ordinary Man," the speedy title track and electrified Delta blues gem "If I Died." There are several special guests, with Keith Urban's vocal contributions particularly affecting on "If We Had A Child." Information:

Artist: Game Theory
Title: 2 Steps From The Middle Ages (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Game Theory, Alex Chilton, Big Star
Tell me more: It's easy for discerning music fans to get angry when talented bands such as Game Theory never achieve the recognition and commercial success they deserve. Headed by brilliant singer-songwriter-guitarist Scott Miller, Game Theory issued five studio albums and two EPs in the 1980s. The band's jangly power pop-meets-baroque rock sound was combined with intricate musical arrangements and literate lyrics. The reissue of Game Theory's final studio album 2 Steps From The Middle Ages marks another reason to celebrate Omnivore Recordings' continuing commitment to shine a light on the band. The new expanded edition of "2 Steps From The Middle Ages' includes 11 bonus tracks, including original demos, live versions and radio broadcast sessions. The material includes some of Miller's most infectious and detailed songs. If you have not yet heard of Game Theory, check out tracks like "Room For One More, Honey," "Don't Entertain Me Twice," "Throwing the Election" and prepare to be hooked. A fully-illustrated 24-page booked adds a wealth of background and insight about Game Theory. The release also serves as a bittersweet tribute to Game Theory drummer Gil Ray, who passed away earlier this year. Information:

Artist: Rosebud
Title: Rosebud (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Judy Henske and Jerry Yester's "Farewell Aldebaran"
Tell me more: A masterwork even in its original form, Rosebud's self-titled 1971 album has been reissued with 10 bonus tracks and is ready for the world to discover this classic anew. The range of material encompasses a number of styles of the day and then some, thanks in part to the fusion of well-crafted songs written by Judy Henske (vocals) and Jerry Yester (vocals, bass guitar, banjo), as well as the vocal and instrumental contributions of everyone in the quartet (rounded out by multi-instrumentalist Craig Doerge and drummer John Seiter). There is beautiful folk rock ("The Yum Yum Man"), an exquisite Continental European-flavored ballad ("Le Soleil"), psychedelic-tinged rock ("Reno"), Laurel Canyon country pop ("Western Wisconsin," "Roll Home Cheyenne") and lounge pop ("Lorelei," "Flying To Morning"), all of it delivered with a creative and independent spirit that infuses both the lyrics and music making. The bonus material bolsters the set, with the previously-unreleased "Mercury Of Fools" a progressive delight. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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