Monday, October 14, 2019

Essential New Music: Steve Miller Band, International Pop Overthrow collections

The Steve Miller Band's amazing Welcome to the Vault and a showcase of today's best power pop add up to two essential multi-disc collections worth adding to any discerning listener's music library.

Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Welcome to the Vault (Capitol)
You might like if you enjoy: Steve Miller Band, Les Paul, classic rock, blues
Tell me more: The rich and expansive legacy of singer-songwriter-guitar master Steve Miller is explored across the Steve Miller Band's outstanding and must-have Welcome to the Vault anthology. The amazing collection includes three audio CD discs as well as a DVD that are collectively loaded with more than enough music to thrill casual and hardcore fans of the groundbreaking Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. The anthology includes 38 previously-unreleased rarities including alternate versions of well-known songs, live performances, and five previously-unheard Steve Miller Band songs from the 1960s and '70s. 

Highlights abound across the loaded DVD disc. On a 1973 episode of "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert," a young Miller delves into his mix of blues, funk and rock with a full-length set. I was particularly impressed by the freewheeling jazz-meets-funk of "Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma,"a jazzy take on "The Gangster is Back," a solo rendering of bluesman Robert Johnson's 1937 masterpiece "Come On In My Kitchen," and early version of his then work-in-progress "Fly Like an Eagle." Later, a legendary appearance by Miller and Les Paul captured at Fat Tuesday's in 1990, and archival performances ranging from the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 to "Live From Austin City Limits" in 2011 all thrill. Indeed, the DVD features 21 live tracks captured across six decades.

The audio recordings expand the Milwaukee-born artist's legacy to be sure, no sooner than with the opening track on the collection  a 10-minute tear through Little Walter's 1953 single "Blues with a Feeling" at the Fillmore West in San Francisco in 1969.

As if all the great music wasn't enough of a draw, the special collection includes  a hardcover book with detailed liner notes from writer David Fricke, 10 guitar picks, four postcards, a poster and an authentic backstage pass! Information:

Artists: Bird Streets, Danny Wilkerson, Lannie Flowers, The Top Boost, Van Duren, Peter Holsapple, more
Title: International Pop Overthrow: Vol. 22 (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Roger Joseph Manning Jr., the Raspberries, Cheap Trick, Big Star 
Tell me more: The three-disc (!) International Pop Overthrow: Vol. 22 marks the latest must-have collection released in connection with power pop proponent David Bash's ongoing "International Pop Overthrow" festivals  better known as IPO. This year's collection again features some of melodic rock's most essential heroes. From the high-powered opening track from the Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club ("Christine You're Mean") to the Beatlesque offering from the Last Hurrah ("Saturday in the Sunshine") that closes things out, the sixty-nine selections make for a terrific marathon listen. This writer was  super excited to see some of his favorite music makers included on this set; Bird Streets thrill with the previously-unreleased harmonies-adorned "The Rabbit," Lannie Flowers excels on the infectious "Straight to the Blues," and Peter Holsapple is at his confessional best on the probing "Commonplace." Standouts on disc one of this expansive collection include the propulsive Britpop-styled rocker "Bitter Pills" (courtesy of Velvet Starlings), the progressive psychedelic pop of Pikal's Zombies-meets-Hollies "Balik Sa Trabaho," and the Lilacs' rollicking "If You Get Home." Disc two is home to the luxurious sound of the Top Boost's "Dreaming" (featuring guest Roger Joseph Manning Jr.), the driving "Oh My Girl" from the Sharona, the stunning "Lonely Place" from Three Hour Tour, the Americana-tinged "Cowboys" from the Occasional Orchestra, and the prog-rock tunefulness of Rainy Day Crush on "Heartbreak (Or How to Get Over It)." Disc three is bolstered by the chamber pop of Ulysses' "Calendar Street," Danny Wilkerson's dazzling "Too Much of A Good Thing," Scott Gagner's intoxicating "Bella," magnaphonic's aptly-titled "Daydream" and the exhilarating "Run Away" from Belgium's Alain Pire Experience. International Pop Overthrow: Vol. 22  is an expansive and exciting collection worth discovering. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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