MARK KNOPFLER - Down The Road Wherever (2018)
Mark Knopfler’s ninth solo studio album ‘Down The Road Wherever’ features unhurriedly elegant new songs inspired by a wide range of subjects, including his early days in Deptford with Dire Straits, a stray football fan lost in a strange town, and the compulsion of a musician hitching home through the snow. Mark has a poet’s eye for telling details that infuse his songs with his unique psychogeography – ‘where the Delta meets the Tyne’ as he describes it – and his warm Geordie vocal tone and his deft, richly melodic guitar playing are as breathtaking and thrilling as ever. The team that Knopfler assembled around him for the recording sessions includes many of the musicians who have been with him in the studio and on the road for years. Among them are keyboardist Guy Fletcher, who has worked with him since Dire Straits days and co-produced Down The Road Wherever with Mark; Jim Cox, also on keyboards; Nigel Hitchcock on saxophone, Tom Walsh on trumpet, John McCusker (fiddle), Mike McGoldrick (whistle and flute), Glenn Worf (bass), drummer Ian ‘Ianto’ Thomas and Danny Cummings on percussion. There are also appearances by Richard Bennett and the widely-travelled Robbie McIntosh on guitar and Trevor Mires on trombone. Along with May, the album has backing vocals by Lance Ellington, Kris Drever, Beverley Skeete and Katie Kissoon.
Although Heart reconquered the charts during the mid to late '80s, the band forfeited the organic sound of their early recordings in favor of pop gloss. By the early '90s, the Wilson sisters (vocalist Ann and guitarist Nancy) were ready to return to their roots, which they attempted to do in the form of a side band, The Lovemongers. The group (which saw the Wilsons joined by keyboardist Sue Ennis, guitarist Frank Cox, and drummer Ben Smith) debuted on the motion picture soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's 1992 film Singles, with a dead-on cover of the Led Zeppelin folk classic "The Battle of Evermore." The group issued a four-song EP a year later, The Battle of Evermore, which included the Zep cover once more, in addition to covers of Todd Rundgren, the Temptations, and even the early Heart classic "Crazy on You." The band took several years to offer a proper full-length release, which finally arrived in the form of 1997's Whirlygig.
BLACKFOOT - Highway Song Live (1982) & Rick Medlocke and Blackfoot (1987)
Formed in 1969 and named after the Native American tribe to which founding member Rickey Medlocke has lineage, Blackfoot were a popular southern hard rock band. They were contemporaries of legendary southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, with whom Medlocke had grown up and briefly played drums and sang occasional lead for in 1970 during a Blackfoot break up period. Blackfoot started out as a quartet which included singer/guitarist Medlocke, the grandson of delta blues-bluegrass musician Shorty Medlocke, who wrote Blackfoot’s classic song “Train, Train”, drummer/singer Jackson Spires, bassist/singer Greg T. Walker, and lead guitarist Charlie Hargrett, all of whom have Native American heritage, which added to the unique sound, culture and image of the band. Blackfoot played hard throughout the 1970’s, recording and touring for a variety of labels including Island and Epic Records, but it wasn't until 1979 after moving to Atco that they found success with the release of their hit album Strikes. Strikes was the band’s most commercially successful album and contained their first hit and best known song “Train, Train”, as well as the follow up single “Highway Song”. It was the first of a trio of successful albums that were produced by Al Nalli. The band toured heavily throughout 1979 and ended the year opening for The Who at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan while working on their next album, Tomcattin’, which was released in 1980. The next album Marauder, which contained the hit song “Fly Away”, followed in 1981. The albums Siogo (1983) and Vertical Smiles (1984) both made it into the Billboard Top 200. Blackfoot continued to record and tour throughout the 1980’s and 90’s with a few lineup changes.
Like their Native American ancestors before them, the members of Blackfoot must have known what it felt like to be exiled from their homeland. Only, rather than being forced into an Indian reservation, the world's first all-Native American hard rock band found itself trying to scrape together a good wage across the pond, where U.K. audiences couldn't seem to get enough of its uniquely metallic, Skynyrd-derived Southern rock. Despite experiencing diminishing returns in the good ol' U.S. of A., all three of their studio albums for Atco had been warmly embraced here, leading to nearly two years of incessant touring. Such acclaim eventually led to demands for a live album, which the band duly recorded with the help of the Rolling Stones' mobile studio during a three-month jaunt across the British Isles in 1982. Named Highway Song Live after the band's biggest (and most "Freebird"-like) hit, it was recorded in the spirit of the classic live albums of the '70s, with explosive performances of such Blackfoot favorites as "Road Fever," "Every Man Should Know (Queenie)," "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme," and the title track. Additional highlights include a couple of supercharged blues numbers ( "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Trouble in Mind" ) and frontman Rick Medlocke's friendly rapport with the audience. Sadly, the album wasn't issued in America until 20 years later - long after Blackfoot's bright promise had faded into anonymity.
One look at Ricky Medlocke on the front cover and you know your in for some serious Medlocke Music !! He has one of the best blues rock voice’s in the business. This is really a solo effort on the part of Rick Medlocke rather than a bona fide piece of work by Blackfoot. Whether we agree or not Rick has paid his dues and deserves the right to call this a Blackfoot album. Even though no other original members of Blackfoot are involved in this recording it is still Blackfoot. A very creative mix of style going on. Keyboards and female background vocals help to define the musical message we hear.
GRETA VAN FLEET - Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (2018)
It’s been just over a year and a half since Greta Van Fleet exploded onto the scene with their debut single, “Highway Tune”. Two EPs and a number of hits later, the Michigan hard rockers have finally delivered their debut full-length album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army. Anthem was recorded in Nashville and Royal Oak, Michigan alongside production trio Marlon Young, Al Sutton and Herschel Boone (aka The Rust Brothers). The album’s 10 tracks were co-written by the four members of Greta Van Fleet: twins Josh (vocals) and Jake Kiszka (guitars), their brother Sam (bass), and drummer Danny Wagner. It follows the band’s pair of 2017 EPs, Black Smoke Rising and From the Fires.
Speaking about how their specific, reverential version of throwback blues rock has soared to such great success over the last two years, Sam told Premier Guitar: “I think what really sets us apart is the time our music is coming. Right now, it’s coming at a time when your stereo is not receiving signals of authentic music. And it’s time for that to change. Greta Van Fleet has a chance to bring authentic blues-rock back into the popular scene. We are three brothers and a best friend, we really love each other, we write all of our songs together, and we put power behind our music in this modern scene.”
ERIC CLAPTON - Happy Xmas (2018)
Eric Clapton’s first ever full-length studio holiday album, Happy Xmas, is on Clapton’s Bushbranch Records/Surfdog Records. Happy Xmas is Clapton’s 24th studio album and his first since 2016’s “I Still Do.” It mixes instantly recognizable holiday classics with lesser-known unique titles along with an original new song “For Love On Christmas Day.” The Bushbranch Records/Surfdog Records set, which features a cover illustration of Santa Claus by Clapton, is Slowhand’s 24th studio album and his first since 2016’s I Still Do. The album’s 14 tracks are a mix of standards including “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” and "Away in a Manger" and lesser known holiday tunes, along with an original new track, “For Love On Christmas Day.” Claption's rendition of “Jingle Bells" is dedicated to "the memory Avicii," due to the singer's admiration for the late DJ.
"I had in my head that these holiday songs could be done with a slight blues tinge, and I started to figure out how to play the blues lines in between the vocals,” said Clapton, who co-produced Happy Xmas with longtime music producer Simon Climie. “I got it down and one of the most identifiable songs on the album, the one that became the foundational style, is ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.’”
PROCOL HARUM - Live in Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (1972) [Extended Edition, 2018]
New Remastered & Expanded release of the classic 1972 live album by Procol Harum, with five bonus tracks (two previously unreleased).
Recorded on 18th November 1971 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, Canada, the album captured a truly magical performance by Gary Brooker (vocals, piano), B.J. Wilson (drums), Chris Copping (organ and harpsichord), Alan Cartwright (bass) and Dave Ball (guitar), the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Da Camera Singers. Classic Procol Harum material such as ‘Conquistador’, ‘Whaling Stories’, ‘A Salty Dog’ and the epic ‘In Held ‘Twas in I’ were beautifully arranged by Gary Brooker and the resulting album was one of Procol’s most successful and spawned a hit single in ‘Conquistador’. It remains one of the finest collaborations between a rock band, orchestra and choir. This new expanded edition of Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra has been newly re-mastered and includes five bonus tracks (two previously unreleased), drawn from the B- side of a single and the rehearsal sessions for the concert. The release also includes an illustrated booklet featuring material from Gary Brooker’s personal archive and an essay by Procol Harum authority Roland Clare.
WHITESNAKE - Unzipped [Super Deluxe Edition] (2018)
It was the hard rocking sound of hits like "Still Of The Night" and "Give Me All Your Love Tonight" that brought Whitesnake worldwide, multi-platinum success. Even so, the band's founder and lead singer, David Coverdale has never been a stranger to the occasional ballad, going back to his early days with Deep Purple on "Soldier Of Fortune" and, most famously, with Whitesnake on the 1987 #1 smash hit, "Here I Go Again." After Whitesnake finishes its current summer tour with Foreigner, the band will revisit some of its best acoustic performances with Unzipped [Super Deluxe Edition]. This 5 CD/DVD collection brings together unpled and acoustic-based performances recorded over the past 20+ years, including rare and unreleased studio and live recordings, acoustic demos, concert videos, interviews and more. The first disc from Unzipped [Super Deluxe Edition] mixes rare and unreleased versions of songs like "Summer Rain" and "Forevermore" from the band's recent studio albums, Good To Be Bad (2008) and Forevermore (2011). Also included are songs like "Love Is Blind" from Coverdale's solo album, Into The Light (2000); and a previously unreleased song, "All The Time In The World." All 11 tracks are available on the single-CD, double-CD and double-LP versions of Unzipped. In 1997, Coverdale and guitarist Adrian Vandenberg played an unpled concert in Tokyo that was recorded and initially released exclusively in Japan as Starkers in Tokyo. That recording has been remixed and will make its North American-debut on the second disc of Unzipped [Super Deluxe Edition]. The acoustic performance touches on the different stages of Coverdale's career, from his time in Deep Purple ("Soldier of Fortune"), to his solo albums ("Too Many Tears"), and, most famously, with Whitesnake on unpled versions of hits like "Is This Love" and "Here I Go Again."
"Some of my favourite love songs are on disc one of this collection... and I love, love songs," says Coverdale. "Though reluctant at first to go "unzipped" in public, the shows I did with Adrian Vandenberg in 1997, and then Doug Aldrich in 2006, were incredibly memorable... primarily because it gave me an opportunity to be 'at one' with the crowd... some songs ask for a softer touch... and those are the songs we have here in this collection." Unzipped [Super Deluxe Edition] has even more of unreleased, unpled recordings, including more performances from Coverdale's 1997 tour with Vandenberg, plus several later shows featuring Coverdale and guitarist Doug Aldrich. Plus, more than two dozen of Coverdale's unreleased, acoustic demos are also included in the collection. A DVD completes Unzipped [Super Deluxe Edition] with live, unpled performances filmed around the world between 1997 and 2015, including a complete acoustic show recorded at the Cutting Room in New York in 2008. A highlight for U.S. fans will be the North American debut of the 1997 concert video, Starkers In Tokyo, which has been remixed in 5.1 and Stereo exclusively for this new collection. Additional bonus features include an interview with Coverdale and Vandenberg, bootleg videos, the "Love Is Blind" music video and a slideshow. Coverdale continues, "These songs are some of the most personal I've been involved with through my almost five decades as a professional musician, singer and composer...This is me at my most unguarded... innocent... writing, as I still do, for the fun... the expression... the poetry... all love songs."
CHICAGO - Greatest Hits Live (2018)
Chicago is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois, calling themselves the Chicago Transit Authority in 1968 before shortening the name in 1969. The self-described “rock and roll band with horns” began writing politically charged rock music, and later moved to a softer sound, generating several hit ballads. The group had a steady stream of hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Since at least 2008, Billboard has shown Chicago to be one of the "greatest of all time" American bands in singles chart success, and since 2015, the "greatest of all time" American band in album chart success as well. Chicago is one of the longest-running and most successful rock groups, and one of the world's best-selling groups of all time, having sold more than 100 million records. In 1971, Chicago was the first rock act to sell out Carnegie Hall for a week. To date, Chicago has sold over 40 million units in the U.S., with 23 gold, 18 platinum, and 8 multi-platinum albums. They have had five consecutive number-one albums on the Billboard 200 and 20 top-ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2017, original band members Peter Cetera, Robert Lamm, and James Pankow were elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame for their songwriting efforts as members of the music group.
Greatest Hits Live features a career-spanning collection of hits, including “Beginnings,” “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” to the later chart topping “If You Leave Me Now,” “Hard Habit To Break,” and “You’re The Inspiration.”
THE BEATLES - The Beatles [White Album] (1968) [Super Deluxe Edition, 2018]
The featured element of this seven-disc celebration of the 1968 double vinyl White Album on its 50th anniversary is a remixed version of its 30 iconic tracks by original producer George Martin’s son, Giles. There are, of course, many Beatles purists who will only consider any such project sacrilegious. After all, this is The White Album we’re talking about. What was so wrong with it in the first place? Evidently, not much: 19-times platinum speaks for itself. Giles Martin’s got form for improving on Beatles perfection. From collaborating on Love to last year’s widely lauded 50th-anniversary remix of Sgt. Pepper, he’s a safe pair of hands. That Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr offered support and assistance to the project speaks volumes. So was all the effort worth it? Hell yes. Instead of losing intrinsic magic, Martin’s enhanced it. Drums are crisper, cymbal crashes shimmer off into infinity, the bass sound is thicker, its presence defined and accentuated. Vocals gain warmth, guitars chime and soar. Elements previously lost in ensemble murk re-emerge as independent entities, as fresh ears locate and open up airy space between blurred frequencies. Everything sounds more emphatic, more… everything.
The White Album’s extraordinarily diverse content has been a constant presence in rock’s subconscious since the genre’s genesis. Reaction to its epoch-defining charms have dulled, familiarity has replaced visceral awe with cerebral respect, but now, sharpened and buffed, the likes of Happiness Is A Warm Gun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps shine brighter than ever. Some selections have been transformed by the process: Dear Prudence is a revelation. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da? You might even make it to the end. Disc Three is Esher demos. The band convene at Harrison’s to nail down working versions of material contrived in India. It’s Beatles unpled, basically. Bin your bootlegs, it’s exceptional. But the gold for completists comes on discs 4-6: the sessions. Early takes, working versions, unfinished sketches; there’s intimacy (Lennon road-testing Julia for George Martin), revelation (13 minutes of Helter Skelter’s blues inception), surrealism (the unreleased What’s The New Mary Jane?) and fascinating insight into making-history’s humdrum side (Harrison ordering a cheese, lettuce and Marmite sandwich as Clapton prepares to render his Gently Weeps magical).
SANTANA - Lotus (1974) & Amigos (1976)
Lotus is a 1974 live album by the Latin rock band Santana, recorded at the Osaka Kosei Nenkin Hall, Osaka, Japan in 1973. It was originally released in 1974 as a triple vinyl LP in Japan only. This version of the album was later released internationally. Long held as a talisman by Santana fans, who had to buy it as a triple-LP Japanese import before Columbia finally issued it on CD in 1991, Lotus is a live album that finds Carlos Santana and his octet (a.k.a. the New Santana Band) at a nexus between rock, Latin music, jazz fusion, and spiritually driven communiqués to the gods. Some of the early hits are performed, such as "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va," but long, intense instrumentals are the order of the day, as on the breathtaking "Incident at Neshabur," "Every Step of the Way," and "Toussaint L'Overture."
Amigos is the seventh studio album by Santana. It generated a minor U.S. hit single in "Let It Shine" and was the band's first album to hit the top ten on the Billboard charts since Caravanserai in 1972 (it ultimately reached gold record status). In Europe, the song "Europa" was released as a single and became a top ten hit in several countries. New vocalist Greg Walker joined the group. It would be the last Santana album to include original bassist David Brown. This album has been mixed and released in stereo and quadraphonic.
DEEP PURPLE - Live At Long Beach 1976 (2016)
From tapes recorded for the syndicated US radio series King Biscuit Flower Hour, this album delivers the full 90-plus-minute set from February 27, 1976 (plus three songs from Springfield, MA, a month earlier). It is, then, from Deep Purple Mark IV’s lone US tour in support of the line-up’s sole studio album, Come Taste The Band. This repackages the tapes for a third official release but remains valid because while the band are held together by the eternal brilliance of Jon Lord and Ian Paice, it’s the jazzier stylings of ex-James Gang member and Billy Cobham sideman Tommy Bolin that steal the show. This despite the bluesy presence of David Coverdale (back when he could really sing, although his high notes here are sometimes strained) and Glenn Hughes. The toppermost pitch of the then cocaine-addicted Hughes is technically impressive but 40 years on, we should admit that so too is the impact of a dentist’s drill on a polished wooden surface. So let’s accentuate the positives… That chiefly means Bolin – an American controversially replacing Ritchie Blackmore, and who would die of a drug overdose seven months later – and a radical setlist. After Burn, Purple play half the new album and just three from the Mark II heyday. Although they take up a third of the running time, much has changed. Smoke On The Water segues into Hughes singing Georgia On My Mind, the soul classic made famous by Ray Charles. How un-Purple is that?! Lazy showcases Lord’s evergreen Hammond work, but is uncharacteristically marred by synth updates. Even the encore Highway Star is only vaguely like the Made In Japan version.
More importantly, Bolin really stretches out, painting everything with his unique flourishes, unconcerned by what hardcore Purple fans might expect. After Paice’s stunning solo, he leads the band though Homeward Strut, an instrumental from his own album Teaser, and prior to a thunderous set-closing Stormbringer delivers – with the merest smattering of support from Paice – a panoptic 10-and-a-half-minute solo that could bend spoons. He’s more subtle on This Time Around/Owed To G (a lovely change of pace dedicated by Hughes to “a friend, Stevie Wonder”) but turns stylishly brutal again by covering blues standard Going Down. True, Purple are usually better with Gillan but, as Steve Morse has shown, not always with Blackmore. This album proves that when Bolin was on top of his game, they were very special too.
DISCLAIMER: The music found through this blog is intended for review purposes and should not be seen as a substitute for the original, legal, RIAA approved, record company enriching product. Please note that songs are available for VERY short amount of time. And if you like the music BUY IT. Please support the artists and buy as much as you can directly from them and cut out the middle man.
zinhof [at] gmail.com