Tuesday, April 06, 2021

New Titles: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allen Ginsberg, First Aid Kit, the Armoires, Godzilla vs. Kong (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

A truly dizzying mix of new releases are greeting listeners in early April, ranging from classic live recordings and dynamic new studio albums to a wonderful new movie soundtrack.

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Title: Live At Knebworth ‘76 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Outlaws, ZZ Top
Tell me more: On April 9, Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live At Knebworth '76 will be released as a DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD, limited edition 2LP+DVD, and via digital video. The restored performance captures the original lineup of the groundbreaking Southern rock troupe via an amazing performance in England staged on Aug. 21, 1976. Indeed, 14 months before the tragic October 20, 1977 plane crash took the lives of several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, singer Ronnie Van Zant, bassist Leon Wilson, drummer Artimus Pyle, keyboardist Billy Powell, along with the triple guitar array of Gary Rossington, Allen Collins and Steve Gaines, and The Honkettes (backing vocalists Cassie Gaines, JoJo Billingsley, Leslie Hawkins) delivered an inspired performance in front of a crowd of more than 150,000 concertgoers. The 11-song setlist is a dream for die-hard followers of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame outfit as well as casual classic rock fans; "Workin' For MCA," "Saturday Night Special," "Gimme Three Steps," "Call Me The Breeze," "Sweet Home Alabama" and a spellbinding set-ending 13-minute version of the beloved "Freebird" are all here. Both the audio recording and visual quality featured on the new release are exceptional; it's amazing to think this performance was staged 45 years ago. The Blu-ray set also includes the full-length 2018 documentary "If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd" as a bonus feature. A side note: this historic performance was part of a daylong festival that also featured performances from Todd Rundgren's Utopia, 10cc and headliners The Rolling Stones. Information: eagle-rock.com or lynyrdskynyrd.com.

Allen Ginsberg
Title: Allen Ginsberg at Reed College: the first recorded reading of Howl and Other Poems (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William S Burroughs
Tell me more: This writer was fortunate to review a live reading by Allen Ginsberg before a sold-out crowd at Chapman University in Orange, CA in April 1993, where the groundbreaking beat poet read a sampling of his older and newer works. Sadly, the famed writer passed away five years after that memorable reading at the age of 70. Ginsberg was among the most controversial writers of his time, rattling the cage of the establishment with his opposition of militarism, sexual repression and capitalism. Los Angeles-based Omnivore Recordings has released the first recorded reading of Ginsberg's best-known poem "Howl," recorded on Feb. 14, 1956. Allen Ginsberg at Reed College: the first recorded reading of Howl and Other Poems is not only a thought-provoking celebration of Ginsberg's talents but a historical document that was long to have been thought forgotten until author John Suiter (researching at Reed College's Hauser Memorial Library in Portland, Oregon) found the tape in a box in 2007. In addition to "Howl," the new release has Ginsberg reading several shorter poems as well including "Wild Orphan" "Over Kansas" and "A Dream Record." Cheryl Pawelski, Grammy Award-winning record producer and co-founder of Omnivore Recordings, worked with the Ginsberg Estate to release the remastered Allen Ginsberg at Reed College: the first recorded reading of Howl and Other Poems via audio CD, digital and LP on April 2, 2021. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com

First Aid Kit
Title: Who By Fire (Sony Sweden / Columbia Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Emmylou Harris, Leonard Cohen, Jennifer Warnes
Tell me more: Leave it to a pair of Swedish sisters to deliver the ultimate tribute to the late Leonard Cohen. First Aid Kit  Klara and Johanna Söderberg  have released Who By Fire, a live 20-track recording captured across two nights at the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm in March of 2017. Conceived and anchored by First Aid Kit, the sisters were joined by a number of fellow Swedish guests, an eight-member band and strings, two actors as well as a large choir on two of the songs. A mix of Cohen's original songs, poems and letters were included in the two-performance event chronicled on Who By Fire (released April 2, 2021). The Söderberg sisters are bona fide fans of Cohen, who passed away at the age of 82 on Nov. 7, 2016. Who By Fire celebrates Cohen's work via a diverse array of compositions, including the stirring "Suzanne," gorgeous "If It Be Your Will," plaintive "Hallelujah" (where they are joined by Annika Norlin), edgy "Famous Blue Raincoat," otherworldly masterwork "You Want It Darker" and gallant "Everybody Knows" (with guest Frida Hyvönen). The performances of Cohen's songs and poetry across "Who By Fire" are uniformly beautiful without diminishing the power of the literate tales of faith, romance, political strife and loss. Information: FirstAidKitBand.com.

The Armoires
Title: Incognito (Big Stir Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Monkees, Matthew Sweet, Bright Blue Gorilla, XTC
Tell me more: When you release your album on April 1st   also known as April Fools' Day   best to make it count. That's exactly what The Armoires have accomplished via the joyful "Incognito." Led by Big Stir Records record label founders Rex Broome (vocals, guitar) and Christina Bulbenko (vocals, keyboards), the quintet also includes noted music writer/drummer John Borack, viola/violin player Larysa Bulbenko and bassist Clifford Ulrich. Incognito is actually a culmination of an ambitious six-month "secret project" where the Burbank-based group released a series of singles  each issued under a different fictitious "new and undiscovered" band name. Incognito collects the diverse material and the results are as wonderful as the concept. Anchored by the group's shining vocal harmonies, solid musicianship and artful arrangements, the blend of creative covers and originals keeps the momentum moving across the disc's 18-track run. Early title favorites include a magnetic cover of John Cale's "Paris 1919," an irresistible rendering of the Christie gem "Yellow River," the driving countrified "Bagfoot Run," a Gram Parsons-mining "Homebound" and shimmering take on the 20/20 classic "The Night I Heard A Scream." The wistful reworking of Andy Gibb's "Words And Music," infectious "Walking Distance," baroque pop sparkler "Magenta Moon" and beguiling styles-blending "Awkward City Limits" are among the late LP standouts. Information: BigStirRecords.com.

Tom Holkenborg
Title: Godzilla vs. Kong (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Watertower Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Hans Zimmer, Tom Holkenborg
Tell me more: Just weeks after composer Tom Holkenborg saw the release of his original motion picture soundtrack for "Zack Snyder's Justice League" receive well-deserved praise, his talents can be heard on Godzilla vs. Kong (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack). Issued a couple of days before the exciting Adam Wingard-directed film landed in theaters and on HBO Max on March 31, the 15-track soundtrack is a triumph with its mix of orchestral muscle, bold electronica and raging sound effects. For example, when Kong is featured on the screen the music is typically more classical in nature (as evidenced by the beautiful symphonic sweep in "Skull Island (Kong's Theme)," "A New Language" and "Antarctica"), thereby emphasizing the sympathetic qualities of the character. Elsewhere when Godzilla or manmade technological dangers loom, the music is decidedly more kinetic in tune with that monster's more volatile nature; the tempestuous "Tasman Sea" and aggressive "Mega" take advantage of the composer's ability to blend music and sound designs in dynamic ways to enhance a blockbuster. On the final track, "Hong Kong," Holkenborg is able to masterfully weave a myriad of sonic spheres together over the course of 13 magnificent minutes. Information: watertower-music.com.

Robert Kinsler

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