BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - Letter To You (2020)
Letter To You is Bruce Springsteen’s new studio album with the E Street Band, and is a rock album fuelled by the band's heart-stopping, house-rocking signature sound. Recorded at his home studio in New Jersey, Letter To You is Springsteen’s 20th studio album, and is his first album including the E Street Band since 2012’s High Hopes and their first performances together since 2016’s The River Tour. “I love the emotional nature of Letter To You,” says Springsteen. “And I love the sound of the E Street Band playing completely live in the studio, in a way we’ve never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I’ve ever had.” Letter to You includes nine recently written Springsteen songs, as well as new recordings of three of his legendary, but previously unreleased, compositions from the 1970s, Janey Needs a Shooter, If I Was the Priest, and Song for Orphans. Springsteen is joined on Letter To You by Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Garry Tallent, Stevie Van Zandt, Max , Charlie Giordano and Jake Clemons. The album was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Bob Ludwig.
ALI MAAS & MICKY MOODY - Who's Directing Your Movie? (2020)
Ali Maas has always specialised in writing original material with thought-provoking lyrics and inventive melodies. After an initial period of studio work, and live session singing, she progressed onto the indie rock scene as lead singer and writer for the critically acclaimed band McQueen. During this time, Ali also developed her skills as an artist and currently runs her own one-woman enterprise, making mixed media artwork and leather work for the interior design industry. Her first love is and always has been music. Aside from his well-documented time with Whitesnake, guitarist Micky Moody was also a member of Juicy Lucy, Snafu, Frankie Miller’s Full House, Roger Chapman and the Shortlist, The Moody Marsden Band, The Company of Snakes, M3 and Snakecharmer. He has also been a very active session musician, author and creator of library music.
Written and recorded throughout 2018 and 2019, the album is a journey through genre and style, yet tied together by the core inspirations of classic storyteller songwriting such as Bob Dylan and Richard Thompson; and ultimately the crafting of a unique voice in unison from this. The stylistic shifts in the album, which touches upon everything from Bluegrass, Folk, Americana, and Classic Rock, are inspired by artists such as Robert Plant’s ability of reinvention.
JEFFERSON STARSHIP - Mother Of The Sun (2020)
Jefferson Starship release new music for the first time in 12 years, although it is only seven songs so not quite an album but maybe longer than an EP. Jefferson Starship/Starship have been through many line-up changes down the years and indeed Mickey Thomas keeps the Starship name alive through touring (Jefferson Starship became Starship in 1985). The current line-up features founding singer/multi-instrumentalist David Freiberg, drummer Donny Baldwin (who has been in the various JS/Starship line-ups since 1982), vocalist Cathy Richardson, keyboards player Chris Smith, and guitarist Jude Gold. In a further connection to the band’s past, original bassist Pete Sears appears on three songs (he was also in Starship!). The seven tracks include two songs co-written by original Jefferson Starship/Jefferson Airplane members Grace Slick and Marty Balin. Seven songs, of which one is a live version and another an extended version, may seem slim pickings for a twelve year wait, however Jefferson Starship have gone for quality over quantity. Great to see them still making new music and here’s hoping they can get back on the road next year to tour these songs and the Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship classics.
DOUG 'Cosmo' CLIFFORD - Cosmo (1972) & Magic Window (2020)
Originally released in 1972, Cosmo - the only solo effort from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford - was recorded not long after the breakup of the legendary Bay Area band. Encompassing elements of country and R&B, plus plenty of up-tempo hooks, Cosmo includes eight original compositions, plus covers of tracks from the Spencer Davis Group ("I’m a Man"), John Sebastian’s "Daydream"and Doug Sahm’s "She’s About a Mover".The album features CCR’s bassist Stu Cook on rhythm guitar, legendary sideman and Stax session musician Donald Duck" Dunn on bass, plus members of Tower of Power on horns. Available for the first time in 45 years, the album is newly remastered by Clifford, pressed on 180-gram vinyl and housed in an old-school-style, tip-on jacket. A perfect addition to every CCR fan’s record collection.
After Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up in the early 1970s, drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford released a self-titled solo album, featuring music that was somewhat in the same vein as what CCR was doing. He then, along with CCR bassist Stu Cook, joined the Don Harrison Band, and seemed to abandon any sort of solo career. However, now a previously unreleased solo album is making its way into the world, and for many of us, it is our first opportunity to hear him sing. And it turns out he has a pretty damn good voice. These tracks were recorded in 1985, the same year fellow CCR member John Fogerty released Centerfield, to put things into some sort of perspective. This album (Magic Window) has quite a different sound and vibe from that album. It features all original material, written or co-written by Doug “Cosmo” Clifford. Joining the vocalist/drummer on these tracks are Russell DaShiell on guitar, synthesizer and backing vocals; Chris Solberg on bass and keys; and – on a couple of tracks – Rob Polomsky on rhythm guitar.
THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP - The Singles (2003)
Spencer Davis, Welsh musician and founder of the Spencer Davis Group, died Monday while being treated for pneumonia in the hospital. He was 81.
The best collection of Spencer Davis tracks out there and you can find quite a few. No live recordings. No fillers. Just the original single versions of all of their hits plus, as a bonus, some dandy Traffic tracks for good measure. Spencer Davis broke out with teenage Steve Winwood on the hammond organ and snarling out mighty mature vocals for a kid. Keep On Running, Somebody Help Me, Gimme Some Lovin and I'm a Man - suddenly putting these guys at the top of the heap of British Invasion bands. Steve left the band to form Traffic and in came Eddie Hardin - who actually sounded a lot like Steve. However Eddie was not devoted to blues influenced rock so the styles varied: Time Seller, After Tea and Don't Want You No More. The With Their New Face On LP signaled a new more pop psych sound - great music but the hits ceased despite several solid LPs in the 1970s. The Singles covers the Winwood period solidly and tips the hat to the Hardin period. Then a pivot and we are off to Traffic - a band that embraced these pop psych influences, tossed in some jazz and arguably wrote one of the all time classics - Feeling Alright (thank you Dave Mason). Glory days for music. Steve went on to global success after success. Spencer Davis kept the brand going, made some interesting country influenced solo LPs and toured with the hits.
CARL PERKINS & FRIENDS - Blue Suede Shoes: A Rockabilly Session (1986)
Blue Suede Shoes: A Rockabilly Session was a televised concert that was taped live at Limehouse Studios in London, England on 21 October 1985. The show featured rock n' roll pioneer Carl Perkins along with friends as guest stars, including Eric Clapton, former Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr, as well as Dave Edmunds who acted as musical director for the show. Most of the repertoire performed in the concert consisted of Perkins' classic rockabilly songs from the 1950s. It was directed by Tom Gutteridge. The concert special was originally broadcast in 1985 on Channel 4 in the UK and on Cinemax in 1986 with introductory comments by Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The show was shown on Channel 4 on 1 January 1986. Perkins performed 16 songs, with two encores, in an extraordinary performance. Perkins and his friends ended the session by singing his most famous song, 30 years after its writing, which brought Perkins to tears. The concert is a memorable highlight of Carl Perkins' later career and has been highly praised by fans for the spirited performances delivered by Perkins and his famous guests. It was the first public performance by George Harrison in more than ten years.
ELVIN BISHOP & CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE - 100 Years Of Blues (2020)
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame guitarist Elvin Bishop and Grammy-winning harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite drop their first-ever album as a duo, 100 Years of Blues, September 25th, 2020 on Alligator Records. Both have long, distinguished musical careers that reach back to the 1960s, have toured the world and elsewhere, and have tracked dozens of albums but have never released a record of just the two of them putting out their blues. That’s a little surprising, considering that they’re close friends and fishing buddies, but life is busy when you’re among the finest blues musicians in the world. Produced by Kid Andersen, 100 Years of Blues is a lowdown, back porch type of session that features nine new original songs by Elvin and Charlie and covers of numbers by Roosevelt Sykes, Leroy Carr and Sonny Boy Williamson. It’s the kind of set blues fans love the best: unadorned, raw, and real, with nothing to get in the way of what these two do best. Elvin and Charlie have been soaking the blues up since their childhoods in the American South. Bishop came up in Oklahoma and Musselwhite in Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. Both began playing their instruments with no plans to become pros but both also wound up in Chicago, the blues capital, in the early 60s. Bishop came north to attend college and Musselwhite came looking for work. They ended up being some of the only white faces in Chicago’s South Side blues clubs but were quickly accepted by the veteran musicians they met – Elvin by Little Smokey Smothers, Hound Dog Taylor, J.T. Brown, and Junior Wells, and Charlie by Big Joe Williams, Big Walter Horton, and, eventually, by Muddy Waters. Both men went on to win fame by introducing blues music to the rock and roll crowd. Bishop did it with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and his own genre-bending Elvin Bishop Group and Musselwhite made his mark with his wide-ranging and influential recordings as the leader of his own band. The two have remained in the top level of American musicians ever since and have become permanent parts of blues history.
FRED CHAPELLIER - Best Of 25 Years On The Road (2020)
If the Blues is the music of one’s life, we can only rejoice of the release of this double CD (combining studio and live recordings) celebrating the 25 first years of Fred Chapelier’s career. It means that this compilation is only a step in a career in progress. Be assured that you will get many more opportunities to praise the outsized talent of such an endearing character. Meanwhile, enjoy the pleasure to immerse into this beautiful slice of a career whose main asset is certainly consistency. Because Chapellier never had any « warm up period » contrary to some first albums whose sole quality seem to be their very existence. « Blues Devil » in 2003 and « L’Sil du Blues » in 2005 have been unanimously hailed for their artistic achievement. Chapellier is world class and it was only natural that, when he joined Dixiefrog in 2007, he paid homage to his world class idol Roy Buchanan (« A Tribute to Roy Buchanan »). A CD considered as a milestone, recorded, of course, with a galaxy of world class musicians: Billy Price, the last lead singer in Buchanan’s band, Neal Black, Tom Principato and Jean-Alain Roussel, also co-producer of the album.
What came next was a magnificent musical journey made up of 8 albums.In some he was calling the shots, such as in « Electric Fingers » and « It Never Comes Easy » when others were shared projects: « Night Work » and « Live on Stage » with Billy Price, « BTC » with Neal Black and Nico Wayne Toussaint or « Set Me Free » with The Gents and excellent vocals by Dale Blade. Not forgetting two live recordings, « Electric Communion » and the fabulous « Fred Chapellier Plays Peter Green », another of Chapellier’s world class idol, Green being the founder of Fleetwood Mac. What an amazing range for this mind blowing guitar player who is also (mostly?) a top songwriter and a natural born Soul singer. The whole range of his sonic richness is truly remarkable, a fact vividly expressed in the 32 tracks of this double CD (18 studio recordings and 14 songs captured live). If the Blues is the unifying thread of the album, Soul music is never far away and it’s no coincidence that the studio part of the CD opens with an impeccable version of Bobby « Blue » Bland’s « Ain’t No Love In The Heart of the City », Bland being viewed as one of the creators of the Soul Blues genre. As a great news never comes alone, two completely new dazzlings songs grace the album: « I’m A Ram » in the live part and « Beyond The Moon – Part II » in the studio section. Just perfect !
EAGLES - Live From The Forum MMXVIII (2020)
Today the Eagles retain an appeal that transcends both generation and genre, cementing the band’s role as enduring musical icons. As the best-selling American band of the ’70s, and one of the top-selling acts of all time, the Eagles have sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, scored six #1 albums and topped the singles charts five times. They have won six GRAMMY® Awards, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, in their first year of eligibility, and received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2016. The Eagles spent most of 2018 on the road with an extensive North American tour that found Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit joined by two new bandmates: Deacon Frey and Vince Gill. Earning rave reviews from fans and critics alike, the quintet was firing on all cylinders when they arrived at the Forum in Los Angeles for three sold-out, hometown shows on September 12, 14, and 15. Highlights from all three shows have now been compiled for a new 26-song live album and concert film Live From The Forum MMXVIII. Live From The Forum MMXVIII captures definitive live performances of the band’s most iconic hits (“Hotel California,” “Take It Easy,” “Life In The Fast Lane,” “Desperado”) and beloved album tracks (“Ol’ 55,” “Those Shoes”), along with some of the individual members’ biggest solo smashes (Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer,” Vince Gill’s “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away,” Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way”).
Live from The Forum MMXVIII captures Eagles’ triumphant three-night stand at the Forum on Sept. 12, 14 and 15, 2018. Highlights from all three nights have been compiled into this concert film, which features 26 songs and includes the first Eagles recordings with Vince Gill and Deacon Frey.
ALBERT KING - Funky London (1994) & The Heat Of The Blues (2007)
Albert King cut his teeth on the blues circuits of Arkansas and St. Louis, developing his style in a number of electric outfits. His recording career was, at least initially, erratic, though the quality of the sides he cut for the Parrot, King, and Coun-Tree imprints certainly was not. It wasn't until King signed to Stax in 1966, however, and the guitarist's electric blues fused with the muscular bass, funky guitars, and sparkling horns of the label's outstanding session players, that he found his first home. King stayed with the label for eight years, leaving only when Stax was entering its financial decline. Funky London manages to dig up a few from the period that nearly got away, compiling three 45 sides and six unreleased tracks. The singles include a pair of instrumentals (a cover of James Brown's "Cold Sweat" and "Funky London," a dispensable, up-tempo 12-bar workout) and one vocal ("Can't You See What You're Doing to Me"). By the nature of the material, those songs and the six that follow lack the cohesiveness of an album, though the quality of the music ultimately prevails. Downshifting for "Lonesome," the combo is steeped in the blues. After a false start ("What's the matter with y'all!?" asks King), the band begins again, King's crying guitar lines joined by keyboard commentary, smoky threads of wah-wah guitar and an exquisite horn arrangement. "Sweet Fingers" is an excellent example of funky blues ensemble playing and "Driving Wheel" a fine interpretation of the Roosevelt Sykes tune. Perhaps most important is the fact that the majority of the music here maintains the standards established on King's official Stax releases, making this a desirable set.
Albert King was one of the Three Kings of the electric Blues guitar. Together with his unrelated namesakes, B.B. and Freddie, he defined post-World War II electric Blues, influencing the future sounds of Blues, Soul and Rock & Roll. A master of the single-string attack, Albert played his trademark Flying V guitar left-handed, without re-stringing the instrument, thus creating his own distinctive style and totally unique tone. He influenced a new generation of guitar players that included the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. A value-added combination of four of the blues guitar legend Albert King's albums, dating from the 1970s to the 1990s, this two-disc best-of notably includes his 1979 Allen Toussaint-produced set New Orleans Heat, as well as the workmanlike R&B of 1977's Albert King. Among the highlights are a reworking of Toussaint's "Get Out My Life Woman" and the guitarist's own "Born Under a Bad Sign," and there's also the bonus of King's unlikely yet frequently performed version of Ray Noble's standard "The Very Thought of You," with full string accompaniment. As you'd expect from a chronicle of the master's late-period work, funky, fatback rhythm, horns, and stinging guitar work predominate, overlaid with King's good-natured, relaxed baritone vocals.
THE ROLLING STONES - Genuine Black Box 1961-1974 [Volume 1-3] (2010)
Rolling Stones compilations have been produced and in circulation almost from the beginning of the band. The first was Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) released in 1966, and the intervening years saw many more including Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) in 1969. Three were released in 1971 alone. The first two, Stone Age, and Gimme Shelter were issued without the consent of the band. The third was Hot Rocks 1964-1971 issued in December. It was compiled with the band’s consent and served as a summary of the Decca years. Genuine Black Box on Scorpio is the latest and perhaps best attempt at this much lost compilation. It is six discs dating from the earliest Little Boy Blue & The Blue Boys session to Mick Taylor’s final studio recordings with the band encompassing 144 performances collected together in a comprehensive anthology. “Presenting the best available quality, studio outtake, demo, rehearsal, alternative, rare, withdrawn or otherwise unavailable recordings from the band’s golden era, this collection provides the most authoritative overview to date of The Rolling Stones’ recording career.” The three 2CD titles are packaged in a double slimline jewel case, each with thick booklets with copious amounts of liner notes and annotations for each track and printed on glossy high quality paper. The three are housed in a thick slip case and several post cards are also included in the packaging. This has to be one of the nicest looking and sounding Rolling Stones titles produced.
This amazing strictly limited edition box set is a collection of material spanning the peak years of the Rolling Stones from 1961 to 1974. It collects almost eight hours of the choicest rarities, unissued songs, rehearsals, demos, instrumentals, alternate mixes, outtakes and more from the band's earliest known recordings through to the final session Mick Taylor played on. Featuring 144 performances in the best existing quality this is the definitive collection detailing the first 13 years of the Rolling Stones. Limited edition of 1000 numbered copies.
STRETCH - The First 3... (1975/77)
Stretch were a 1970s British rock band that grew from the collaboration between Elmer Gantry (real name Dave Terry) and Kirby (real name Graham) Gregory. Gantry had been the frontman of Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. Kirby had been a member of Curved Air.
The story of Stretch and their one great song, Why Did You Do That Thing?, is odd but wonderful. It begins with a group of musicians cobbled together by Fleetwood Mac's manager to impersonate the real Mac for a US tour. The ruse failed and – the faux Mac unmasked – the tour fell apart amid acrimony. Frontman Elmer Gantry (a pseudonym taken by Dave Terry from a Sinclair Lewis novel about a hellfire preacher) and guitarist Graham "Kirby" Gregory formed Stretch on their ignominious return to London. Kirby promptly wrote Why Did You It? – in a spirit of bitter recrimination over the tour debacle – and by November it was in the charts, where it stayed for nine weeks. Lyrically, it comes close, I think, in its reproachful fury to Dylan's scabrous masterpiece, Positively 4th Street. Still more surprisingly, it was that rarest of birds: a work of lasting genius from a mid-70s white funk band. Except they weren't a funk band. An unstable admixture, thrown together by circumstance, Stretch couldn't make up their minds what they were dabbling in country, rock and folk. At the height of their success, they were even supporting Rainbow. The fabulous, punchy jazz-funk beat of Why … was more or less a stylistic accident; Gantry's Barry White-esque growl a put-up job. But it is a simply fantastic song one that stands the test of time long after that curious mid-decade phase of dodgy genre-melding experimentation was swept away by punk's merciless anti-music.
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