Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Blue Öyster Cult thrills capacity crowd at the Coach House

Blue Öyster Cult performing at the Coach House on Dec. 7, 2019. Pictured from left, Eric Bloom,
Richie Castellano,  Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser and Danny Miranda.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Blue Öyster Cult, Justin Abrams & Beyond Conception
Where: The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA
When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019
Next: http://blueoystercult.com

After seeing Blue Öyster Cult tear it up in front of a capacity crowd at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday night (Dec. 7, 2019), this writer was reminded (yet again!) why the band is one of the most influential and talented American rock groups to emerge out of the late 1960s. Yet while the New York-spawned troupe has sold more than 24 million records worldwide, contributed to the music video revolution in the early 1980s and continues to regularly tour, they have sadly never been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Richie Castellano unleashing a solo at the Coach House.
But I predict history will land squarely on the side of BÖC, whose current lineup includes founding members Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (lead vocals, lead guitar) and Eric Bloom (guitar, keyboards, lead vocals) along with long-time lead guitarist/keyboardist Richie Castellano, bassist-backing singer Danny Miranda and drummer Jules Radino

The band's 100-minute concert at the Coach House featured a stellar setlist featuring all their best-known radio hits, as well as deep cuts extending as far back as BÖC's 1972 self-titled debut album through the group's 1998 LP Heaven Forbid.

Buck Dharma conjuring up genuine magic during a sold out concert
at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.

After coming out on stage at 9:15 p.m., the band unleashed the enduring rocker "The Red & the Black," Bloom handling lead vocals while Dharma displayed the first of many impressive guitar solos that would be showcased this night.
Eric Bloom at the Coach House.

BÖC's style may be rooted in progressive rock and early heavy metal, but trying to use any simple label to categorize the band is at odds with their rousing, wide-ranging performance in Orange County. Indeed, the quintet opened up "Golden Age of Leather" with a full-on a cappella segment where four members sang without any instrumental accompaniment to introduce the song. Dharma's strong lead vocals came amidst a creative and ambitious six-minute early standout.

"Burnin' for You" was one of the first great rock songs of the 1980s (as was the song's music video that received heavy rotation on MTV when the station premiered in 1981) and retains its magic decades later. On Saturday, the infectious track was bolstered by shining vocal harmonies and a driving edge layered with winning guitar textures. 

"Harvest Moon" was another standout with Bloom's keyboards and Dharma's expressive lead guitar work adding a sense of mystery to the song. At one point Dharma's guitar work was played sans backing from anyone else before the full band came in and his solo became more aggressive. Then Castellano did a solo before their lead work came in tandem for a dramatic explosion of sound.

Every selection performed offered an opportunity to catch another element of BÖC's progressive reach; "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" blended hard rock and sumptuous harmonies; "Tattoo Vampire" juxtaposed Cheap Trick-styled power pop and Iggy Pop alt rock; "Godzilla" was a fun audience favorite with monster sound effects, an audience sing-along, Dharma's guitar sliding on a microphone stand and Miranda's bass solo among the far-flung details in play.
BÖC Drummer Jules Radino at the Coach House.

"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is the band's best-known song and its performance was a highlight at the Coach House. Introducing the favorite with an extended Dharma solo, Castellano's textured keyboards and Radino's drums were subliminally added. The classic rocker itself was a wonder with its haunting soundscape coupled with virtuoso musicianship, masterful fret work and sharp vocal harmonies.

A 15-minute encore was a chance for BÖC to delve even deeper into their discography, performing "Flaming Telepaths," "Hot Rails to Hell" and the playful "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll," the latter coming with an epic false ending that made the subsequent real finish all the stronger.

Opening for BÖC was local group Justin Abrams & Beyond Conception. Although a cover of Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" was didn't resonate with me the outfit's originals were plenty of fun. The loose garage rocker "Stix & Stones" and New York-flavored rocker "Rip It Off" were particularly memorable. 

Review by Robert Kinsler

Photography by Bob Steshetz

Blue Öyster Cult performing at the Coach House on Dec. 7, 2019. Pictured from left,
Richie Castellano,  
Eric Bloom, Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser, Jules Radino and Danny Miranda. 
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Blue Öyster Cult setlist at the Coach House on Saturday, December 7, 2019
Buck Dharma (guitar) and
Eric Bloom (keyboards) at the
Coach House on Dec. 7, 2019.
1. The Red & the Black 
2. Golden Age of Leather
3. Career of Evil
4. Burnin' for You
5. ME 262
6. Harvest Moon
7. Dancin' in the Ruins
8. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
9. Buck's Boogie
10. Then Came the Last Days of May
11. Tattoo Vampire
12. Godzilla
13. Guitar solo (Buck Dharma)
14. (Don't Fear) The Reaper
15. Flaming Telepaths
16. Hot Rails to Hell
17. Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll

Monday, December 09, 2019

Holiday Music Aplenty Via Blues, Rock and Broadway Icons

Whether your preference is the blues, Broadway or rock, there are wonderful new holiday music releases out now that truly celebrate the musical spirit of the season. 

Artist: Keb' Mo'
Title: Moonlight, Mistletoe & You (Concord Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Keb' Mo', blues, Christmas music
Tell me more: It is little surprise how masterfully blues great Keb' Mo' has approached Christmas on his first-ever holiday album. Moonlight, Mistletoe & You is as original and delightful as any new Christmas-minded collection issued this year with the bluesman offering up artful takes on well-known standards that shine while also using his signature wit on a number of original songs. Take the humorous "Christmas is Annoying," where lyrical rhymes are used to turn tradition on its ear: "I remember caroling and skating down the hill / skating on the pond, you know, it really was a thrill / but now the thrill is gone and all my credit cards are maxed / I'm running here, running there, with no time to relax." His version of Koko Taylor's "Merry Merry Christmas" comes via a cool Chicago blues-meets-rock vibe and is one of those great tracks that would be welcome anytime of the year. Keb' Mo' can also delve into the more traditional sonics of the holiday as evidenced by his original lovely jazz-swept gem "One More Year With You" and the joyful mix of acoustic blues and children's' voices on "When the Children Sing." He also casts a welcome fresh coat of musical paint on the standard "Please Come Home For Christmas," a soulful blues number that benefits from a poignant arrangement and Keb' Mo's resonant baritone delivery. Melissa Manchester joins the celebration for a duet on Irving Berlin's wonderful "I've Got My Love to Keep You Warm," a lovely and timeless jazz arrangement. Information: kebmo.com.

Artists: Jon Davison, Steve Morse, John Wetton, Geoff Downes, more
Title: A Prog Rock Christmas (Cleopatra Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Yes, Asia, Curved Air, Utopia
Tell me more: Those who enjoy Christmas music as well as fans of classic and progressive rock will love A Prog Rock Christmas. Featuring a top-tier lineup of genre notables, the collection finds Yes singer Jon Davison kicking things off with a melodic and moving reading of the Chris Squire and Alan White penned "Run With The Fox." Kasim Sulton's lush "Christmas Lights," guitar master Steve Morse's dazzling take on "Carol Of The Bells" and Billy Sherwood and Patrick Moraz's colorful reading of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" are early standouts on the 13-track set. A Celtic-styled "Fairytale of New York" featuring Leslie Hunt and Robin McAuley, otherworldly "O Come All Ye Faithful" from Curved Air lead singer Sonja Kristina, Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes' instrumental "Linus & Lucy" and the late Asia singer-bassist John Wetton's affecting cover of John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" are among my favorites on the closing run of the holiday title. A Prog Rock Christmas is available on audio CD via digipak as well on limited edition vinyl in either red or white. Information: CleopatraRecords.com.

Artist: Idina Menzel
Title: Christmas: A Season of Love (Decca Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Kristin Chenoweth, Ariane Grande, Billy Porter
Tell me more: Armed with her signature soprano and the world's most beloved holiday songbook, Tony award-winning singer Idina Menzel's Christmas: A Season of Love is sure to please those who appreciate traditional-styled takes on the season. There are wonderful duets here: Menzel is joined by her husband Aaron Lohr for a tender "I'll Be Home For Christmas" while fellow-Broadway star Billy Porter teams up with her for the swinging "I Got My Love To Keep Me Warm." She is joined by Ariana Grande for the jazzy "A Hand For Mrs. Claus." Menzel's vocal power is real as evidenced by her nuanced "Caroling, Caroling," and a glorious medley featuring "O Holy Night" that artfully segues into "Ave Maria" and then back to "O Holy Night." One of the most powerful songs on the disc is "At This Table," a piano-anchored song co-written by Menzel and Jonas Myran. The lyrics focus on a theme of inclusion and togetherness during the holidays, an especially-powerful message at a time when there is so much global strife: "At this table, everyone's welcome," she sings. "At this table, everybody cares. At this table, everybody matters. So come pull out a chair." She also performs an uptempo version of "Ocho Kandelikas" ("Eight Little Candles"), a song sung in Ladino that celebrates the holiday of Hanukkah. Information: IdinaMenzel.com.

Artist: Bryan Adams
Title: Christmas EP (Ume)
You might like if you enjoy: Bryan Adams
Tell me more: Bryan Adams' fast-moving Christmas EP features five inviting songs, all of which will bring smiles in tune with the holiday season. Several of the selections are new to long-time fans of the Canadian rocker; the Chuck Berry-flavored original "Joe and Mary" and joyful sing-along "Must Be Santa" are recent recordings (an interesting side note: "Must Be Santa" was previously covered by Bob Dylan). A trio of previously-heard Adams holiday recordings have been remastered (the anthemic "Christmas Time," catchy "Reggae Christmas" and retro-adorned "Merry Christmas"). Information: BryanAdams.com.

Artist: Charleene Closshey
Title: Christmas Time Is Here (Satya Record)
You might like if you enjoy: Sarah Brightmas, Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth
Tell me more: A gifted actress, multi-instrumentalist and singer, Charleene Closshey taps into the spirit of classic and contemporary yuletide favorites on her magnificent Christmas Time Is Here. The orchestral arrangements are rich and prove to be a luxurious fit with Closshey's wonderful soprano. The Broadway-flavored "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," sumptuous "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentleman," opulent Celtic-mining "Good King Wenceslas" and gentle "Ave Maria" are among the fantastic selections here. Her reflective approach to singing "O Holy Night" is a revelation; for the first half of the song she is accompanied only by piano and when the orchestra and choir come in later they do with restrained perfection. The wistful version of the title track (anchored by piano and jazz guitar) is another highlight on the 10-track album. Produced by six-time Grammy winner Brent Maher, Christmas Time is Here is available digitally on music streaming platforms, and physically via Amazon and CDBaby. Information: CharleeneClosshey.com.

Robert Kinsler

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Sights and Sounds: TJR on Beck's $60 go-to guitar; Cheap Trick, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Who's 'WHO'

Here are some noteworthy items I wasn't able to feature during the week that are worthy checking out...

TJR has posted his must-see video titled "Beck Recorded His Albums With a $60 Guitar," and it's a fascinating watch and well worth your time.

Beck performing in 2017.

Very few (including yours truly) likely had a chance to pick up Cheap Trick's limited-edition vinyl Black Friday Record Store Day release, a fiery take on John Lennon's 1971 protest song "Gimme Some Truth." But now the American rockers have issued the track on streaming platforms. I'm loving this. Get a listen via YouTube here.

Cheap Trick notes that the rousing cover teases the band's upcoming 19th studio album, which will be the quartet's first since the 2017 album We're All Alright! Lead singer Robin Zander's vocals are incredible on the track.

I'll be sure to post more information about Cheap Trick's forthcoming album when it lands in my inbox!

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s new single, “Our Man Walter Cronkite,” is out today. Watch the song’s official music video, premiering at Rolling StoneHERE.

Of the song, Carpenter shares, “Growing up, Walter Cronkite was in our house Monday through Friday, presenting the news as The Most Trusted Man In America, as he was known in his time. My parents raised us to believe that people in jobs like Cronkite's told the truth; they raised us to believe in a world that reaches out to those who need help, that does not turn away from those less fortunate, or homeless, or those forced to leave their country because of the threat of violence, poverty and persecution. The arms were there to hold them, the eyes to see them, and the hearts of the world were there to love them. Because that was the right thing. It’s a different time now. I miss my parents, and I miss Walter Cronkite.”
Produced by Jamie Mefford (Gregory Alan Isakov, Nathaniel Rateliff) and recorded at Colorado Sound Studios, “Our Man Walter Cronkite” is the first new music released by Carpenter since last year’s acclaimed Sometimes Just The Sky, which celebrated her acclaimed 30-year recording career. Of the project, Folk Alley proclaimed, “As an artistic statement, the album is a feat,” while Billboard asserted, “…the new rendition features not only different flavors and textures created by the players but also a deeper meaning within the lyrics, which hold up 30 years later.”  

Carpenter is currently on the road with friend and collaborator Shawn Colvin as part of their intimate acoustic duo performances, “Mary Chapin Carpenter & Shawn Colvin: Together On Stage.” See below for complete tour itinerary. 
December 6—Thousand Oaks, CA—Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
December 7—Monterey, CA—Golden State Theatre
December 8—Davis, CA—The Mondavi Center, UC Davis
December 10—Corvallis, OR—The LaSells Steward Center
December 11—Seattle, WA—Benaroya Hall
December 12—Portland, OR—Revolution Hall
December 13—Chico, CA—Laxson Auditorium
December 14—San Francisco, CA—Palace of Fine Arts

The Who are back with their first new album (titled WHO, and released on Friday, Dec. 6) since 2006's Endless Wire. Although I have not yet had a chance to listen to the long-awaited WHO, Rock Cellar magazine has a overview that I thought I would share. You can read it here.

I plan to listen to the new album this weekend and include a review in my next regular column.

Robert Kinsler

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Billie Eilish makes directorial debut with official music video for "xanny"

Make sure to check out Billie Eilish's new video. Details about the clip are below...

Rising star Billie Eilish makes directorial debut with official music video for her original track 'xanny'





Six-time Grammy Award® nominee Billie Eilish has made her directorial debut with the official music video for ‘xanny.’ Billie revealed today: “I’m very excited to share my directorial debut. Visuals are so important to me, and I’m very proud to be in a place where I can present my creative vision exactly as I want it. Thank you to everyone who has put their trust in me.”

Watch the official video for ‘xanny” HERE.

The video follows yet more incredible end-of-year mile-stones for the 17-year-old global phenomenon. Last month, Eilish was nominated for 6 Grammy Award®’s and made history as the youngest artist ever to receive nominations in the four major categories. She also won Favorite New Artist and Favorite Alternative Rock Artist at the American Music Awards where she made her televised award show debut with a powerful performance of ‘all the good girls go to hell’ [Watch HERE]. Recently, she was also appointed as Variety Magazine’s Hitmaker of the Year, Billboard Magazine’s Woman of The Year and Apple Music’s Global Artist Of The Year. On Monday night, Billie will be Alicia Keys’ special guest on CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden, where Keys will be standing in for James as guest host.

Earlier this year, the singer, songwriter and musician debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with her album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?. She scored her first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with Song and Record of the Year nominated “bad guy,” which has since amassed more than 3.5 billion global audio streams alone, and reached No. 1 at Top 40 radio. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is now the highest selling debut album of 2019 and biggest North American debut of the decade (male, female or group), shifting 313,000 units in the first week and has already hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album charts for an additional 2 nonconsecutive weeks since its release, earning Billie more than 25 billion combined streams worldwide to date. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” was written, produced and recorded entirely by Billie Eilish and brother FINNEAS in their childhood home of Highland Park, Los Angeles. FINNEAS is nominated for 2 GRAMMY Awards®, including the prestigious honor of Producer of the Year, Non Classical.

Billie's 2020 WHERE DO WE GO? World Arena Tour sold out within an hour of on-sale and starts March 9, 2020.

03/09 - AmericanAirlines Arena - Miami, FL
03/10 - Amway Center - Orlando, FL
03/12 - PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
03/13 – Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, PA
03/15 - Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
03/16 - Prudential Center - Newark, NJ
03/18 - Capital One Center - Washington, DC
03/19 - TD Garden - Boston, MA
03/20 - Barclays Center - Brooklyn, NY
03/23 - Little Caesars Arena - Detroit, MI
03/24 - United Center - Chicago, IL
03/25 - Bankers Life Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, IN
03/27 - Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, TN
03/28 - Enterprise Center - St. Louis, MO
03/29 - CHI Health Center Omaha - Omaha, NE
04/01 - Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
04/03- The Forum - Los Angeles, CA
04/04 - The Forum - Los Angeles, CA
04/05 - The Forum - Los Angeles, CA
04/07 - Chase Center - San Francisco, CA
04/08 - Golden 1 Center - Sacramento, CA
04/10 - Tacoma Dome - Seattle, WA
04/11 - Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena - Vancouver, BC

WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is out everywhere now.
Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify | Amazon | Google Play | Pandora | YouTube

1. !!!!!!!
2. bad guy
3. xanny
4. you should see me in a crown
5. all the good girls go to hell
6. wish you were gay
7. when the party’s over
8. 8
9. my strange addiction
10. bury a friend
11. ilomilo
12. listen before i go
13. i love you
14. goodbye

“dont smile at me” EP
iTunes | Apple Music | Spotify | Google Play | Amazon | VEVO


Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Lady Gaga to headline AT&T TV Super Saturday Night

Lady Gaga performing on April 22, 2017.
Photo: Greg Noire 
courtesy of Goldenvoice

Lady Gaga to headline AT&T TV Super Saturday Night in Miami, Florida on February 1, 2020

Event Marks the 10th Anniversary of the Iconic Concert Before the Big Game

Tickets On Sale Starting Tuesday, December 10th at 10 a.m. ET
MIAMI, Dec. 4, 2019 — Larger-than-life megastar Lady Gaga will perform at this year’s newly named AT&T TV Super Saturday Night on Feb. 1 in Miami, celebrating the event’s milestone 10th anniversary the evening before the Big Game.Tickets will go on sale to the public on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. ET through att.com/supersaturdaynight.

AT&T TV Super Saturday Night, which will be livestreamed at twitter.com/ItsOnATT, will be held at Meridian at Island Gardens. Meridian is a 65,000 square-foot custom built multi- level premier live event and entertainment experience that will play host to additional VIP events.

Starting back in 2011 as DIRECTV Super Saturday Night the iconic concert has featured multi-award-winning headliners including Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Rihanna and Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and Foo Fighters and Run The Jewels.

“I’ve had some incredible experiences performing at the Super Bowl,” said Lady Gaga “and am very excited to join the party again this year headlining AT&T TV Super Saturday Night!”

“Year after year, in cities all across the country, we’ve built specially-curated venues from the ground up to provide both our mega-star performers and their adoring fans a one-night-only concert experience they will not forget. And this year will be no different,” said Valerie Vargas, senior vice president – advertising and creative services, AT&T. “In Miami, we’re going to go big and bold - two words synonymous with Lady Gaga. Over the course of her career, she has undoubtedly delivered the most epic performances that have defined a generation.”

AT&T TV is our next-generation premium video service featuring the best of live TV, on-demand and access to thousands of popular apps without leaving the experience. AT&T TV is currently piloting in select markets, including Miami, and will launch nationwide next year.

Stay connected to the latest news by following @ItsonATT and @LadyGaga on social media.

*About AT&T Communications
We help family, friends and neighbors connect in meaningful ways every day. From the first phone call 140+ years ago to mobile video streaming, we innovate to improve lives. We have the nation’s fastest wireless network.** And according to America’s biggest test, we have the nation’s best wireless network.*** We’re building FirstNet just for first responders and creating next-generation mobile 5G. With a range of TV and video products, we deliver entertainment people love to talk about. Our smart, highly secure solutions serve nearly 3 million global businesses – nearly all of the Fortune 1000. And worldwide, our spirit of service drives employees to give back to their communities.

AT&T Communications is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T). Learn more at att.com/CommunicationsNews.

AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. Additional information about AT&T products and services is available at about.att.com. Follow our news on Twitter at @ATT, on Facebook at facebook.com/att and on YouTube at youtube.com/att.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Vinyl reissues for Big Star’s '#1 Record’ & ‘Radio City’ coming on January 24, 2020

Okay vinyl- and power pop lovers, here is some exciting news!


Los Angeles, CA (December 3, 2019)—Craft Recordings is excited to reissue Big Star’s acclaimed first two albums on 180-gram vinyl. Set for a January 24th release date and available for pre-order now, #1 Record and Radio City feature all-analog mastering by Jeff Powell at Memphis’ Take Out Vinyl, and also manufactured locally—in Big Star’s hometown—at Memphis Record Pressing.

Though they both failed to strike commercial success at the time of their releases, 1972’s #1 Record and 1974’s Radio City are now considered to be milestones in the history of rock by critics and musicians alike. Heavily influenced by the British Invasion, yet markedly original—with their jangly pop, driving guitars, sweet harmonies, and wistful melancholia—Big Star offered a distinctly new sound when they first emerged in the early ‘70s, and are counted among the founders of power pop—a genre which wouldn’t truly take off until later in the decade. Nevertheless, Big Star would become an underground favorite, influencing some the biggest alt-rock artists of the ’80s, ’90s and beyond, including R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, Wilco, and The Replacements (who famously penned the song “Alex Chilton” as an ode to the band’s frontman).
The Memphis band was formed in 1971 by singer/songwriters Alex Chilton (1950-2010) and Chris Bell (1951-1978), drummer Jody Stephens (b. 1952) and bassist Andy Hummel (1951-2010). Chilton and Bell drew on the Lennon/McCartney style of collaborative songwriting for their aptly titled debut, #1 Record. Working with Ardent Records’ founder and engineer John Fry, Chilton laid down guitar and vocal tracks—often in one take, while Bell added polish with overdubs and harmonies to songs like “The Ballad of El Goodo,” “Thirteen,” and “In The Street.” #1 Record was released to wide critical acclaim, yet distribution issues severely limited the album’s availability in stores. It would sell fewer than 10,000 copies.
Although Chris Bell departed the band shortly after the release of #1 Record, Big Star’s remaining members began work on a second album in the fall of 1973. Losing the creative input of Bell could have wreaked havoc on the band’s progress, but Chilton confidently took the helm, and his undeniable talents shone through—especially on tracks like “I’m in Love with a Girl,” “Back of a Car,” and cult favorite, “September Gurls.” Released in February of 1974, Radio City garnered praise from the press, but, unfortunately, critical acclaim did not translate to sales.
Disbanding in late 1974, Big Star could have easily fallen into the abyss of could-have-beens and one-hit-wonders, yet they have instead achieved near-mythic status in pop music history. The legacies of #1 Record and Radio City—as well as the band’s third LP, Third—have far exceeded their original commercial performances. All three of Big Star’s albums are included on Rolling Stone’s 2012 “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” lists, and tracks from the first two (“Thirteen” and “September Gurls”) are also among the magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Numerous artists (Elliott Smith, The Bangles, Placebo, Beck, and Jeff Buckley, to name a few) have recorded covers of the band’s songs. 

Big Star has been honored with a tribute record (Big Star Small World, 2006), a documentary (2012’s Nothing Can Hurt Me) and a touring live show, “Big Star’s Third,” in which an all-star roster of guest vocalists and musicians join a core group (including R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Chris Stamey of The dB’s, The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and sole surviving Big Star member, Jody Stephens) to perform Third, plus selections from #1 Record and Radio City. Most recently, the 2016 concert film and live album, Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live…And More, captures one such performance in Glendale, CA. Through their heartfelt renditions of the band’s songs, a cross-generational lineup of talent—Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Wilson, Jessica Pratt, and San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet among them—prove the enduring appeal of Big Star’s music.

Click here to pre-order #1 Record.
Click here to pre-order Radio City

Special bundles, including official Big Star merchandise, available via the Craft Store.

Track Listing:

#1 Record

Side A
1.    Feel
2.    The Ballad Of El Goodo
3.    In The Street
4.    Thirteen
5.    Don’t Lie To Me
6.    The India Song

Side B
1.    When My Baby’s Beside Me
2.    My Life Is Right
3.    Give Me Another Chance
4.    Try Again
5.    Watch The Sunrise
6.    ST 100/6

Radio City

Side A
1.    O, My Soul
2.    Life Is White
3.    Way Out West
4.    What’s Goin’ Ahn
5.    You Get What You Deserve

Side B
1.    Mod Lang
2.    Back Of A Car
3.    Daisy Glaze
4.    She’s A Mover
5.    September Gurls
6.    Morpha Too
7.    I’m In Love With A Girl

About Craft Recordings:
Craft Recordings is home to one of the largest and most prestigious collections of master recordings and compositions in the world. Its rich and storied repertoire includes legendary artists such as Joan Baez, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Nine Inch Nails, Thelonious Monk, Otis Redding, R.E.M. and Traveling Wilburys, to name just a few. Renowned imprints with catalogs issued under the Craft banner include Concord, Fania, Fantasy, Milestone, Musart, Nitro, Prestige, Riverside, Rounder, Specialty, Stax, Sugar Hill, Vanguard and Vee-Jay Records, among many others. Craft creates thoughtfully curated packages, with a meticulous devotion to quality and a commitment to preservation-ensuring that these recordings endure for new generations to discover. Craft Recordings is the catalog label team for Concord Recorded Music. For more info, visit CraftRecordings.com and follow on FacebookTwitterInstagram, YouTube, and Spotify.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Rock Music Gift Guide: Chuck Berry, Toto, Humble Pie, Ronnie Wood

Rock music-lovers are in luck. A slew of highly-recommended releases serve as perfect gift ideas sure to please your favorite audiophile or to add to your own collection!

Artist: Chuck Berry
Title: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll: Collector's Edition (Shout! Factory)
Tell me more: One of the most important and historic music documentaries of all time, Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is a look at the life and legacy of singer-songwriter/guitar great Chuck Berry that was directed by Taylor Hackford and originally released in 1987. Newly-issued on Blu-ray by Shout! Factory, the film has never looked  or sounded  better. Keith Richards organized two concerts in October 1986 to celebrate Berry's 60th birthday and the performances featured a fantastic well-rehearsed band (something that was sadly not a fixture across Berry's lengthy career) including sax great Bobby Keys, NRBQ bassist Joey Spampinato, drummer Steve Jordan, and musical director Richards. Powerful versions of "Roll Over Beethoven," "Almost Grown," "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Nadine" and "School Days" shine. There are some fantastic once-in-a-lifetime duets on the film too. Linda Ronstadt joins the party for a powerful "Back in the U.S.A." (where Richards and Berry briefly duel on lead guitar). Julian Lennon and Berry have a blast on the fiery "Johnny B. Goode"; Robert Cray shares the spotlight on the buoyant "Brown Eyed Handsome Man"; Eric Clapton joins the affair for a blues-drenched take of Berry's 1955 nugget "Wee Wee Hours" bolstered by Johnnie Johnson's piano work. Etta James joins Berry and company for a faithful take on "Rock and Roll Music." A slew of revealing interviews with his wife, brothers and sisters, as well as those he influenced and his contemporaries (Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers) are interspersed and make this an essential, entertaining and ultimately deeply moving film. There are a number of must-see bonus features on the newly-issued Blu-ray as well. Information: ShoutFactory.com.

Artist: Toto
Title: 40 Tours Around the Sun (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
Tell me more: Captured in Amsterdam on March 17, 2018, Toto's outstanding 40 Tours Around the Sun has been released on a variety of formats including 2-CD, 3-LP vinyl, DVD and Blu-ray. The Blu-ray reviewed here looks and sounds fantastic, and director Nigel Dick is to be credited for avoiding modern-day concert film cliches and frequently letting the viewer get a glimpse of master musicians in action. There is one sequence during "I Will Remember" where guitarist Steve Lukather plays an extended solo and a variety of camera angles capture the heat of his fretwork without the viewer being jarred by cuts that are too quick or detract from the arc of the solo. The opener "Alone" showcases the band's virtuoso chops, knack for melodic song craft and great vocals. Toto's diverse influences are showcased via straight-forward rockers ("Lovers in the Night," "Stranger in Town," the Top 5 hits "Hold the Line" and "Rosanna"), new tracks (the lovely "Spanish Sea"), prog rock ("English Eyes," the instrumental centerpiece "Jake to the Bone"), world music-mining material (the luxurious "I Will Remember" featuring Lukather and Joseph Williams sharing lead vocals) and jazz ("Lea," "Miss Sun," "George Porgy") and even authentic country ("No Love"). A reworked version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and an extended cut on the band's own classic "Africa" are among the other highlights on the concert film. The expansive track listing allows Toto (the ensemble also includes singer-pianist David Paich and keyboardist-singer Steve Porcaro) the room to showcase many of the band's rarely-performed deep cuts – notably "Lion," the aforementioned "Lea" and "Dune (Desert Theme) from the  classic 1984 sci-fi film's soundtrack  all performed with power and precision in front of more than 18,000 enthusiastic European fans. Information: eagle-rock.com.

Artist: Humble Pie
Title: The Life and Times of Steve Marriott + 1973 Complete Winterland Show (Cleopatra Records)
Tell me more: Groundbreaking British rocker Steve Marriott's influential and sadly often-overlooked role on the rock 'n' roll landscape is showcased via the wonderful The Life and Times of Steve Marriott, a multi-format three-disc title that includes a Blu-ray, DVD and audio CD. Both as a member of Small Faces and Humble Pie, Marriott blazed a trail via his signature rock vocals, impressive guitar playing and energetic stage presence that is celebrated on an insightful documentary. Notable artists interviewed include Spencer Davis, Ricky Byrd, John Waite, Kevin DuBrow and his famed Humble Pie band mates Peter Frampton and Clem Clempson; rare and early footage of Humble Pie and Small Faces is also included on the documentary. There is also a complete 1973 featuring Humble Pie featured on the audio CD that is a thrilling listen; that concert recording features a stirring take on the band's enduring blues rock classic "Thirty Days in the Hole," a hard-charging version of "Up Your Sleeves," an amped-up rendition of The Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman" and a number of other high octane British blues-flavored rockers. Sadly, Marriott died in a home fire in April 1991; he was only 44. The Life and Times of Steve Marriott provides an excellent chance to catch up on this overlooked rock hero. Information: CleopatraRecords.com.

Artist: Ronnie Wood & His Wild Five
Title: Mad Lad: A Live Tribute to Chuck Berry (BMG)
Tell me more: Few artists have had as profound an influence on rock as the late Chuck Berry. The Beatles, ELO, Linda Ronstadt, Elvis Presley, The Kinks and AC/DC are among the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers who have recorded notable covers of Berry classics. Now Rolling Stones guitar great Ronnie Wood & His Wild Five have issued a full-length tribute to Berry (who died at the age of 90 in March 2017). What's so special about this 11-track album is the rollicking and genuinely loose quality of the group's versions of some of rock music's earliest masterworks. There is no attempt to add unnecessary polish and overdubs to the tracks. The sound across the Wood-produced disc is that of a band of singers and musicians truly conjuring up Berry's late spirit to celebrate  both musically and via Berry's literate storytelling  the youthful exuberance of early rock 'n' roll anew. Wood and company dig deep into Berry's hefty songbook; "Talking About You" is an early success here and benefits from some of Wood's most colorful lead guitar play on the LP. Acclaimed Irish singer Imelda May delves into the blues on "Wee Wee Hours," her dynamic soprano keeping pace with the burgeoning approach taken by the band on their arrangement of Berry's 1955 hit. A freewheeling "Little Queenie" and Chicago blues-flavored "Blue Feeling" (the latter which benefits from keyboardist Ben Waters and Wood dueling on their instruments), and zestful "Johnny B. Goode" are among this writer's other favorite cuts on the must-hear tribute. Information: RonnieWood.com.

Robert Kinsler