Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Album reviews: The Turtles, the Beach Boys, the Cult, KISS, 'Ben-Hur' soundtrack

A new crop of releases will allow listeners to rediscover classic '60s-spawned heroes the Turtles and Beach Boys, as well as enduring hard rock icons the Cult and KISS. The soundtrack for the new movie "Ben-Hur" scored by Marco Beltrami rounds out this writer's list of essential new releases.

Artist: The Turtles
Title: All the Singles (Manifesto Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Turtles, the Hollies, the Kinks
Tell me more: Spanning a shimmering cover of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" released in June 1965 to the sweeping baroque pop nugget "Me About You" released in late 1970, the Turtles' lasting legacy is celebrated across the glorious All the Singles. The two-disc, 48-track collection allows plenty of time to explore the Los Angeles-spawned group's radio hits as well as more experimental material that draws comparisons with the Kinks and the Byrds. With Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman's artful and wonderful harmony vocals leading the way, the material ranges from folk-rock (the Warren Zevon-penned "Like the Seasons"), garage rock ("Almost There," "Outside Chance"), power-pop ("She'd Rather Be With Me," "Elenore"), sunshine pop ("So Goes Love," "On a Summer's Day"), psychedelic ("Sound Asleep") and even country ("Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret"). The Turtles' 1967 number 1 hit "Happy Together" remains one of that decade's most enticing songs and has never sounded better thanks to the remastering from Bill Inglot and Dave Schultz showcased across this must-have collection. Information: manifesto.com.

Get 'All the Singles' here

Artist: The Beach Boys
Title: Becoming the Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean
Tell me more: Lovers of the Beach Boys will want to get Becoming the Beach Boys: the Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions, which is being released by Omnivore Recordings on Aug. 26. The lovingly-remastered recordings on the collection date back to September 1961 when brothers Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson along with Mike Love and Al Jardine shared a microphone together at the home of Hite and Dorinda Morgan to demo recordings eight months before they signed a contract with Capitol Records There are nine songs the young group recorded between September 1961 and March 1962, with multiple demos and versions for each of the songs included here. Listening to the magic and craft of even the earliest takes of "Surfin' Safari," "Surfer Girl" and several obscure songs is to be dazzled that every member of the young group was 20 or younger (Carl Wilson was only 15 when they cut their first demo of "Surfin' "). Fifty-five years into their career, the Beach Boys remain one of modern music's most important architects and a glimpse at the origins of that ride can be found here. Information: omnivorerecordings.com.

Get 'Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions' on (2-CD Set)

Artist: The Cult
Title: Hidden City (Cooking Vinyl)
You might like if you enjoy: AC/DC, Band of Skulls, the Church
Tell me more: If I hadn't caught the Cult in the band's winning performance opening for Guns N' Roses at Dodger Stadium earlier this month, I might have missed the fact the band issued a new album earlier this year. Hidden City is a superb effort, branded with the band's blend of hard and goth rock. On the band's first album since 2012's "Choice of Weapon," singer Ian Astbury and guitar hero Billy Duffy lead the ensemble through a dozen original songs that deliver on the outfit's past glories while forging ahead. "Dark Energy," "No Love Lost" and the infectious "Dance the Night" rock with unbridled power yet capture the shadowy sonics that have been a part of the group's sound since the 1980s. The Cult is no one-trick pony and explores an expansive and lush modern rock soundscape on the reflective "In Blood." The hypnotic "Birds of Paradise," rocking "Goat" (which recalls the Cult's Electric period) and progressive "Deeply Ordered Chaos" are other standouts on a stunning return. Information: thecult.us.

Purchase 'Hidden City' here

Artist: KISS
Title: Kiss Rocks Vegas (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Kiss, AC/DC
Tell me more: In November 2014, KISS performed a string of intimate shows at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Now, KISS Rocks Vegas captures highlights from those dates via a multi-format release (including DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD and DVD+2LP versions). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers perform a mix of hard rocking hits and deeper material, including the iconic "Detroit Rock City" (with an impressive twin guitar attack from Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer), hard hitting "Psycho Circus," blazing "Parasite" and an extended version of "Lick It Up" (the latter which incorporates part of the instrumental bridge of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" into its run). For hardcore fans of KISS, the DVD track listing also delivers an acoustic set including a bluesy take on "Coming Home" and folk rock version of the band's ballad "Beth." Information: eagle-rock.com.

Buy 'KISS Rocks Vegas' (Amazon Exclusive) [Blu-ray]

Artist: Marco Beltrami
Title: Ben-Hur: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Classical)
You might like if you enjoy: Rupert Gregson-Williams, Hans Zimmer
Tell me more: Marco Beltrami is not your average composer. The Academy Award-nominated Beltrami has scored a number of eclectic films ("Scream," "3:10 to Yuma," "The Hurt Locker") and provided each with a unique sonic world that fits perfectly with the film. On "Ben-Hur," his soundtrack includes ancient Greek and Roman instruments (aulos, citira, lyres, salpinx) that he has processed electronically so his score blends old and new in an exciting ways that lure the listener at every turn. There are tracks that are simply gorgeous ("Ben-Hur Theme," "Dear Messala, "Messala and Tirzah, "Horse Healer"), and others that are wonderfully tense or haunting ("Carrying Judah," "Brothers Divide"). "Jesus Arrested" recalls some of the otherworldly material released by modern-day group Dead Can Dance, with the mix of a mournful soprano and powerful drumming capturing the intensity of the moment. Information: BenHurMovie.com or SonyClassical.com.

Buy 'Ben-Hur (Original Motion Picture Score)' here

Robert Kinsler

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