Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Must-have releases deliver

New releases featuring The Waterboys, Chris Bell, Jan & Dean, Madonna and Al Green make for a wide range of outstanding new titles to add to your music collection.

Artist: The Waterboys
Title: Out Of All This Blue (The End Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Waterboys, World Party
Tell me more: The Waterboys are back with another batch of wonderful and stirring songs courtesy of Out Of All This Blue, an ambitious 23-track double album sure to excite fans of the Scottish troupe. The opening track "Do We Choose Who We Love" is a breezy and upbeat track, aimed squarely at the mystery of love. Elsewhere, singer-songwriter Mike Scott explores other areas of his musical personality with the Americana heartland-flavored "Santa Fe," jubilant R&B dance gem "If The Answer is Yeah" and folk song "Girl in the Window Chair." One of this writer's favorite songs on the album is "Love Walks In," a heartfelt love song enhanced by a chorus of backing vocalists, and the sweeping use of symphonic flourishes and a hypnotic drum beat. Scott has explained that "Out Of All This Blue" is two-thirds focused on love and romance, while his literate and colorful stories (notably "Connemara Fox" with its intoxicating mix of rock, folk and hip-hop) occupy the other third. All of it makes for a great listen and interesting sonic journey. A deluxe three-disc edition of the album is also available and includes an additional 11 tracks. Information: MikeScottWaterboys.com.

Artist: Chris Bell
Title: I Am The Cosmos (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Big Star, Alex Chilton, the Replacements
Tell me more: When Chris Bell died after crashing his car into a light pole in December 1978, it not only ended the life of the gifted co-founder of Big Star but appeared to leave a world with little solo music from the acclaimed 27-year-old artist. However, an eagerly-awaited posthumous release titled I Am Cosmos arrived in 1992 and was reissued in 2009 providing fans of the Memphis musician a wealth of new music from Bell. Fast forward to 2017, and Omnivore Recordings has provided 10 more lost songs Bell recorded in his post-Big Star years to an essential and expanded two-disc version of I Am The Cosmos. The album crackles with power and inventive musicianship. "You And Your Sister" is a beautiful baroque pop ballad. "I Got Kinda Lost" is a tuneful garage rocker. Bell's potent vocals and his strong guitar work impress across the many tracks, and there is simply something new to discover and love every time the album is played. "There Was A Light," "Better Save Yourself" and the previously-unreleased acoustic mix of the title track are among the other terrific songs. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: Jan & Dean
Title: Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Jan & Dean, the Beach Boys
Tell me more: One can only imagine the expressions on the faces of record label executives when Jan Berry and Dean Torrence handed their record label their newly-completed album Filet of Soul in the mid-1960s. Sure there were cool songs  including a lovely take on the Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown" and a horn section-adorned take on the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)"  but the heavy mix of cutting-edge comedy including sound effects and banter between Jan & Dean and guests with the live performances was ahead of its time (not by much; the Monkees' TV series utilized a similar frantic wit to much success). The remastered and complete Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings is not only a time capsule of the inventive period where anything seemed possible, but a celebration of the strong talents of Jan & Dean. Sadly, Jan Berry was involved in a serious car accident on April 12, 1966, and faced many years of difficult rehabilitation before he could sing again (he passed away Dec. 19, 2004). Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: Madonna
Title: Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour (Eagle Vision)
You might like if you enjoy: Madonna, Lady Gaga
Tell me more: While a number of other popular entertainers have been influenced by Madonna  notably Britney Spears and Lady Gaga  Madonna is reportedly still the world's biggest-selling female artist of all time and continues to fill major venues across the globe with her blend of pop, rock and dance music. The newly released Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour fully captures the Queen of Pop's most recent worldwide tour. Directed by Danny Tull and Nathan Rissman, the new concert film features Madonna performing a mix of classic cuts (the audience goes crazy singing along during "Like A Virgin"; "Dress You Up" is another highlight) and new songs  ("Living For Love," "Holy Water," "Body Shop") via elaborate performances featuring intricate choreography and large projection screens with content enhancing the songs' themes. She also pulls out a ukulele to perform intimate takes on "True Blue" and "La Vie En Rose," the latter delivered in French. "Rebel Heart Tour" is available in several formats including as a digital download, on DVD and Blu-ray with bonus content and an audio CD featuring highlights from the tour. Information: eagle-rock.com.

Artist: Al Green
Title: Gospel According to Al Green (MVD Visual)
You might like if you enjoy: Al Green, soul and gospel music
Tell me more: Robert Mugge's 1984 documentary Gospel According to Al Green is a fascinating look at Al Green in the aftermath of the soul singer becoming a minister and walking away from his successful secular music career to focus on his faith and gospel music. Though performances captured in church- and studio settings, as well as revealing interviews, the enigmatic Green emerges as a complex and inspired personality who can't easily be understood apart from his music. The performances here are gripping, and Green's amazing voice and charisma really shine through on this important reissue, available for the first time on Blu-ray. There are also a wealth of bonus features including an interview with Mugge about the genesis and production of the film. Information: MVDvisual.com.

Robert Kinsler

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