Without a doubt, 2018 has seen a slew of amazing reissues and retro-minded collections that rank among the most essential titles of the year. In this column I highlight three astounding releases worthy of exploration by music fans.
The Bangles, The Three O'Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade
Title: 3 X 4 (Yep Roc Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Bangles, Steve Wynn
Tell me more: Los Angeles' so-called "Paisley Underground" was an exciting genre blending garage rock, jangly power pop and psychedelic rock that emerged at the dawn of the 1980s. The movement's best-known proponents – the Bangles, Rain Parade, the Dream Syndicate and the Three O'Clock – have joined forces on a must-hear collection where each group performs one song from each of the other three outfits – hence the clever title 3 X 4. Every cut on the 12-track disc is fantastic, capturing the individual talents of the groups and strength of the songwriting. The Dream Syndicate brings an almost Neil Young and Crazy Horse muscular approach to Rain Parade's "You Are My Friend." Rain Parade brings a Beatlesque touch to Three O'Clock's atmospheric "As Real As Real." Susanna Hoffs' shimmering lead vocals help propel the Bangles' lovely take on Rain Parade's dreamy "Talking In My Sleep." The Dream Syndicate offers up a rollicking take on the Bangles' classic "Hero Take a Fall," the version bolstered by the lush harmonies of Vicki Peterson and Linda Pitmon. The melancholy-drenched "Real World" finds Rain Parade bringing new depth to the Bangles favorite. 3 X 4 is one of the most glorious releases of 2018. Information: YepRoc.com.
Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Live At The Fillmore East (Chrysalis Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton
Tell me more: Although Ten Years After is best known for their fiery performance of "I'm Going Home" at Woodstock in August 1969 and the 1971 radio hit "I'd Love to Change the World," the British blues rock band released a score of Top 40 albums on the UK Albums Chart and US Billboard 200 in the late 1960s and early '70s. Now one of the British quartet's best live albums has been reissued and sounds better than ever. Live At The Fillmore East is a two-disc concert recording (originally released in 2001) drawing a dozen tracks from the band's performances at the Fillmore East in New York City on Feb. 27 and 28, 1970. Those who loved Ten Years After's exhilarating approach in concert will want to get this live set featuring singer-guitarist Alvin Lee and company's extended takes on many of their best early material including a amped-up take on the 1930s blues standard "Good Morning Little School Girl," breathtaking 11-minute run through "I'm Going Home," a blistering version of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" and the marathon drum solo "The Hobbit" featuring Ric Lee. Listening to this amazing collection is to be reminded why Alvin Lee ranked with Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton as one of the greatest electric guitarists of his generation. Information: ChrysalisRecordings.com.
Title: Piano & A Microphone 1983 (Warner Bros. Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Prince
Tell me more: Die hard fans of Prince likely picked up Piano & A Microphone 1983 the instant it was released, but casual fans of the artist may have somehow overlooked this fascinating glimpse at another side of Prince. Recorded in 1983 at the artist's Kiowa Trail home studio in Minnesota, Piano & A Microphone spans a mere 35 minutes but immerses the listener with every creative bend. In addition to early versions of his own "17 Days," "Purple Rain" and "Strange Relationship," the intimate recording finds the artist performing a soulful version of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" and a raw version of the traditional 19th century spiritual "Mary Don't You Weep." The home studio cassette recording has been lovingly enhanced, and the simple teaming of Prince's vocals and accompanying piano is mesmerizing from start to finish. Information: OfficialPrinceMusic.com.