Record Label and Music Spotlight 

MARCH /
APRIL 2004

  

 


ROY WOOD
on Castle / Sanctuary

 


GRANT GREEN TRIBUTE
on Evidence

 


2004 GRAMMY NOMINEES
on BMG

 

MARCH / APRIL 2004
MUSIC & RECORD LABEL SPOTLIGHT


BGO - Kinks co-founder Dave Davies released his excellent Bug album back in 2002 so it’s interesting to look back at a pair of albums, AFLI 4036 and Glamour, he made for RCA Records back in 1980/81 period. The Kinks were riding high around that time, knocking ‘em out during their Arista years with album classics like Low Budget and Give The People What They Want and on his solo albums Dave offered his own take on the rockin’ Kinks sound with mixed, though, now in retrospect, quite satisfying results. On the oddly titled AFLI 4036—his first album of new material since the late ‘60s “Death Of A Clown” days—Dave performs much of the instruments himself and on Glamour Dave once again performs all the guitars, keys and percussion with the aid of master drummer Rob Henrit. Released by U.K.-based BGO in early 2003, the double CD set features both albums, complete with historic liner notes and lyric sheet. www.bgo-records.com

BMG - BMG, together with a range of Grammy chosen labels has put together a pretty cool little collection featuring a range of vocal tracks from the 2004 Grammy nominated artists on their 21 track 2004 Grammy Nominees CD. In an ironic twist of fate, both the late great George Harrison and Warren Zevon—neither of whom ever won a Grammy for one of their solo studio albums while they were alive—are finally up for honors with a couple tracks from their respective final albums. The fine NYC pop band Fountains Of Wayne are also featured here as as The Eagles (a contender for “Hole In The World”), Sting (“Send Your Love”), Coldplay (“Clocks”) and tracks from other new artists like Matchbox 20, Evanescence and Avril Lavigne. Whatever you think about the Grammies, BMG’s 2004 Grammy Nominees CD makes for a pleasing pop spin. www.grammy.com

CAPITOL / EMI RECORDS - A mainstay on the American rock scene since his 1968 album debut as the leader of The Steve Miller Band entitled Children Of The Future, guitarist-composer Steve Miller is given an updated retrospective with Young Hearts - Complete Greatest Hits. Young Hearts touches on a couple of key early tracks from Miller’s early psychedelic R&B albums with Steve Miller Band including 1968’s Sailor (“Livin’ In The USA”) and Brave New World (“My Dark Hour” produced by Glyn Johns and featuring a guest spot by Paul McCartney), although the 22 track 2003 CD compilation mostly spotlights hits from classic rock albums such as Fly Like An Eagle (1976), Book Of Dreams (1977) and The Joker (1973). While Miller released an adult jazz-blues album entitled Born 2B Blue in 1989 and he appeared as a guest artist on Paul McCartney’s late ‘90s classic Flaming Pie, for the most part he’s remained out of the public spotlight, although in his own words, Miller confesses, “I don’t think, as a musician, you really hit your peak until you’re about 60.” www.stevemillerband.com
Another fine 2003 Capitol Records retrospective takes a look at the best of roots-rocker Bonnie Raitt. The 2003 CD release of The Best Of Bonnie Raitt collects bonafide 18 hits from the nine time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, including tracks from her Capitol releases Nick Of Time (1989), Luck Of The Draw (1991) and four tracks from her 16th album 2002’s Silver Lining—produced by Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. With liner notes and track notes by Ms. Raitt, The Best Of Bonnie Raitt is a fitting retrospective from an artist at the cutting edge of the blues-rock scene since her self-titled 1971 debut. www.bonnieraitt.com
No group that better sums up the spirit of progressive rock than Jethro Tull. From their early beginnings on their ‘68 This Was debut, Ian Anderson and the merry men of Tull paved the way for nearly every type of progressive blues, rock and folk music from 1969 till the present moment. And there’s no better way to relive the band’s first 25 years as rock trendsetters than with A New Day Yesterday—a 2003 DVD reissue on Capitol of the 1993 rockumentary detailing the vivid Tull history. The ninety minute video is filled with insightful, upbeat interviews of current and one time Tull colleagues, including guitarists Martin Barre, the very first Tull ax-man Mick Abrahams, the early Tull rhythm section of drummer Clive Bunker and Glen Cornick, drummer Doane Perry, keyboardist John Evans, bass great Dave Pegg, drummer Barrie Barlow and more. The interview segments are neatly interspersed with a wealth of vintage Tull performance footage and full length, uncut bonus video tracks dating back to fascinating live performances of “The Witch’s Promise” and “Teacher” from 1970 French TV all the way up to the celebrated 1993 reunion with all Tullies, past and present. EMI / Capitol have been busy reissuing all sorts of classic DVDs including late 2003 titles from Frank Zappa entitled Does Humor Belong In Music. Recorded live at The Pier in NYC on August 26th 1984 the 14 track concert film was first released on VHS in 1985 and—with a set list spanning Zappa’s entire career—the DVD makes it’s DVD debut on EMI/Virgin. Other 2003 DVDs on Capitol / EMI/ Virgin include Sinead O’Connor - The Value Of Ignorance + The Year of The Horse (a 20 track DVD of two live shows from 1988 in London and 1990 in Brussels and Amsterdam) and Enigma - MCMXC A.D. (a 40 minute longform video of the album mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS and featuring four videos and an interview with Enigma founder Michael Cretu). www.emicap.com / www.j-tull.com

CASTLE / SANCTUARY - Roy Wood could have been bigger than The Beatles. His songs, guitar playing and vocals on all those great Move singles and albums and his work with Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan on the first and original ELO album is still the stuff of legends. History aside, it’s still a mystery as to why Roy hardly gets the chance to establish himself as a modern day recording artist. Long time fans however, will be overjoyed to find a great sounding 19 track 2003 CD compilation, entitled Outstanding Performer! on Castle / Sanctuary that taps into a number of Roy’s post ELO ‘70s outfits and early ‘80s recordings with Wizzard and Roy Wood’s Helicopter. Although the ‘record industry’ has a long way to go when it comes to making right the sad neglect of Wood’s pop genius and rock legacy, Castle Records gives it a go with Roy Wood Outstanding Performer! Wood’s early band mate in The Move, Ace Kefford is also given a welcome reissue in 2003 on Castle. Entitled Ace The Face: The Lost 1968 Album...and more!, combines Kefford’s unreleased ‘68 solo sessions with producer Tony Visconti along with a number of other pop rarities, including tracks written by Kefford for The Move just before he left the band. Fascinating historical stuff really with contributions from a range of players including guitar ace Jimmy Page, Ace The Face provides intriguing background into one of the early founders of the great Move dynasty. www.roywood.co.uk / www.themoveonline.com / www.acekefford.com

COLLECTOR’S CHOICE - One of the great post-70s rock groups, Let’s Active, are recalled on a number of 2003 reissues on the mighty Collector’s Choice label. First off Cypress / Afoot pairs two separate IRS releases from ‘83/’84 while Big Plans For Everybody reissues the band’s 1986 album on IRS. Both CC reissue CDs capture band founder and LA mainman Mitch Easter in prime form. Easter sounded equally influenced by ‘60s baroque-pop groups like Left Banke as much as he was by REM, one of the prime architects of the burgeoning Athens, GA. pop scene of the early ‘80s. Either way it wouldn’t be until Easter reformed the band for their all-time classic Everydog Has His Day, in 1988, that Let’s Active struck gold. Big-eyed pop influences abound, such as classic ‘80s alt-pop singers like Marti Jones and Marshall Crenshaw and with EHHD, Easter joined the ranks of the best. Collector’s Choice has done a super job on their Let’s Active reissues, adding in tracts of liner notes (hey guys how about some bigger type!), original cover art and key unreleased tracks. www.ccmusic.com

EVIDENCE RECORDS - Although he passed away in 1979, at the age of 47, guitarist Grant Green left behind a repertoire of music and style of guitar playing that is still being rediscovered. Assembling some of today’s hottest jazz guitar stars for their 2003 CD, A Tribute To Grant Green, producers Jim Eigo and Dave Stryker reintroduce nine Green tunes the guitarist originally recorded for Blue Note records back in the ‘60s and ‘early ‘70s. As the liner notes, written by Jim Ferguson point out, Green was often overshadowed by towering jazz guitar giants such as Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and Joe Pass, yet his subtle integration of R&B and jazz elements with swing, Latin and funk grooves still makes a unique jazz experience. The guitarists appearing on this Grant Green tribute on Evidence fittingly includes Grant’s oldest son Greg Green (covering the title track to Green’s ‘65 album Matador and “A Wee Bit O’ Green” from 1961’s Grant’s First Stand), along with guest guitar spots by Mark Whitfield, Dave Stryker, Russell Malone, Ed Cherry and Peter Bernstein. Describing the passion and precision these young guitar stars bring to the table, the CD liner notes by Ferguson offers a good indication of the historic weight Green’s jazz guitar classics still carry. www.ophira.com/grantgreen

FUEL 2000 - Proof that keyboard legend Keith Emerson works well with electric guitarists can be heard on the album classic from The Nice entitled The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack. Recorded a few years before Emerson started Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the debut Nice album was reissued by Fuel 2000 in 2003 complete with a range of B-sides, rarities, alternate tracks and excellent liner notes. Originally put together by Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham as a backup group for U.K. soul singer P.P. Arnold, the early Nice featured Emerson, drummer Brian Davison, Keith “Lee” Jackson (bass, vocals) and guitar wiz David O’List. In the months following the December ‘67 release of Emerlist Davjack, O’List left the band, and—despite the raised specter that Steve Howe (with Bodast at the time) or even Jimi Hendrix would replace him—The Nice ended up a trio that would go on to record a number of fine albums before Emerson would join forces with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. Despite all the pomp and circumstance to follow, The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack—featuring two different Nice instrumental versions of the Leonard Bernstein classic, “America”, and a range of other mind-boggling studio classics—remains one of greatest symphonic-rock albums of the late ‘60s. In an interesting historic twist, Emerson, Jackson and Davison—along with new guitarist Dave Kilminster—reformed The Nice for a series of critically acclaimed 2003 tour dates. www.keithemerson.com / www.davekilminster.com
‘60s pop completists will surely dig The Psychedelic Sixties—the latest archival pop compilation from Fuel 2000. Lesser known classics, all produced by guitar great Jimmy Page for Immediate Records, such as covers of the Jagger/Richards classic “Sittin’ On The Fence” (by Twice As Much) and the Pete Townshend favorite “Circles” (here covered by The Fleur De Lys) mix in with bonafied pop chart classics by The Nice, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall with Eric Clapton on guitar and vocals, The Small Faces, Soft Machine, The Yardbirds, Red Crayola and The Knickerbockers. There’s also a moody psych-pop track from a Houston, TX-based group called Moving Sidewalks, who featured none other than ZZ Top guitarist Billy F. Gibbons. Liner notes by pop author and historian Greg Russo are exemplary. There’s hardly a off kilter note here among the 17 excellent sounding chestnuts on Fuel’s first installment of The Psychedelic Sixties. www.Fuel2000.com

FAVORED NATIONS - With a new Gibson Custom Show Johnny A. Signature guitar and a 2004 studio album on Favored Nations, Boston based Johnny A. is set to break more guitar records. In 2000 the Boston native released his debut album, which was shortly afterwards picked up by Steve Vai and his Favored Nations label and a few years later the label releases his second album, Get Inside. The ‘A’ man’s honorable mix of lounge guitar sounds coupled with some mean finger pickin and a jazzy approach to instrumental rock has won him over quite a few admirers and in the spirit of the soulful guitar sounds of Stax guitar great Steve Cropper, Johnny A. glues it all together with power of soul and some smokin’ rock and jazz. In fact, in his amazing liner notes, Carter Alan is right on target in describing other key “get inside” guitar influences including the power riffing of Jeff Beck, the countri-fried guitar picking of Scotty Moore and the smokey, lounge guitar sounds of Wes Montgomery while track 11, “Stimulation” combines all those influences and rocks out like never before. With memorable support performances by a number of players including Rick O’Neal (electric bass) and Ron Stewart (drums), Get Inside is an album of classic instrumental guitar music driven to the outer limits. The expressive CD artwork and packaging seals the deal and insures Mr. A.’s arrival among guitar fans. www.johnnya.com

IMP
- Over in Sweden, Light Valley Shadows released their third CD entitled Just Cruisin’ Back on their own Instrumental Music Production label. Featuring guitarists Roger Nilsson (rhythm) and Stig Larsson (lead guitar) the five piece instro rock band skillfully romp their way through retro-tinged instro guitar classics such as the Jerry Lordan classic “Diamonds” and fourteen other classics made famous during the ‘60s by legends like The Shadows, The Ventures, Dick Dale and more. Just Cruisin’ Back a stellar example of just how well these Swedish masters perform this evergreen style of music. www.instro.nu

IPG - Chicago-based Independent Publishers Group and their subsidiaries Acapella Books and the Chicago Review Press have a number of fine music related books released in late 2003. High on the list is a new book by Charles L. Granata that explores the genius of the great Brian Wilson entitled Wouldn’t It Be Nice: Brian Wilson and the Making of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. The 1966 album release of Wilson’s Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds is still widely regarded as one of the groundbreaking pop releases of the ‘60s. Although at the time, the album was tad too sophisticated for many of the Boys’ teenybopper fans, in retrospect Pet Sounds has grown in it’s stature over the years and now is widely acclaimed for it’s many technological recording advances. Commenting on this new IPG book, bass great Carol Kaye—one of the key players used by Wilson during the Pet Sounds sessions—adds, “as a musician who was there at the creation, I can assure you that this is the book to read if you want to understand Brian Wilson and the making of Pet Sounds.” The Making of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds is the latest book in a series entitled the Vinyl Frontiers Series from IPG / Chicago Review Press who have also thus far released Jimi Hendrix and the making of Are You Experienced (by Sean Egan), Revolution: The Making of the Beatles’ White Album (by David Quantick) and When The Levee Breaks: The Making Of Led Zeppelin IV (by Andy Fyfe).
Another fine book on IPG / Chicago Review Press, Van Morrison: Can You Feel The Silence presents a fascinating new biography of Belfast rocker Van Morrison. Born George Ivan Morrison in 1945, Van the Man rose to fame as the leader of ‘60s rockers Them and following the release of his solo classics Astral Weeks and Moondance he went on to become one of the trendsetting rock giants of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The first full length biography of Morrison in nearly two decade, the 576 page book written by noted author Clinton Heylin (who’s also authored books on Bob Dylan, Sandy Denny and The Sex Pistols), follows Morrison from his early years in working class Belfast all the way to his current musical activities. With 28 chapters including “A Van Morrison Sessionography 1964-2001”, Can You Feel The Silence chronicles a true rock pioneer while gaining further insights distilled from over one hundred interviews with various Morrison cohorts.
Another book released through IPG is an Acapella book entitled Bossa Nova, written by Ruy Castro. The nearly 400 page paperback book expertly chronicles the rise of the Bossa Nova sound and it’s chief innovators like Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim while also richly describing the bohemian lifestyle and culture of Rio de Janeiro and all tantalizing tales of the nightclubs, groupies and the music scene from the heyday of the ‘50s and ‘60s Bossa Nova years. Subtitled, The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced The World, Bossa Nova—complete with select discography, a glossary of musical and other Brazilian terms and names and maps of key Rio neighborhoods in the ‘50s and ‘60s—reveals the golden era of the Brazilian jazz form that changed the course of ‘60s jazz and pop. www.ipgbook.com

MAGIC RECORDS - Over in France, Magic Records continues reissuing valuable recordings from the glory days of ‘60s European instrumental guitar groups. Magic chronicles the music of the French instrumental group Les Fingers with a new double CD set entitled Complete Sixties Instrumental. The group’s lead guitarist Jean Claude Olivier was greatly influenced by players like Barney Kessel and George Benson as well as classic British guitar groups like The Shadows and The Outlaws. The double disc set features excellent artwork and the 56 tracks shine a light on one of the top groups from the mid ‘60s French guitar instrumental scene. Another new Magic release, also entitled Complete ‘60s Instrumental compiles 28 instrumental guitar tracks from French rockers Les Champions. Although the band was also known for their vocal tracks, Magic has culled the best of their instrumental sides and has tastefully organized them on one CD. Back in ‘62, Les Champions backed rock pioneer Gene Vincent on his French tour, and—complete with the notes Vincent wrote for one of their early album covers—there’s some noteworthy Euro guitar history worth revisiting here. Over the past five years, Magic have reissued scores of classic albums from rock legends like Canned Heat, The Shadows and The Hollies and likewise, in 2003 they’ve taken on a cool 25 track 2003 anthology from ‘60s Euro-rockers Los Bravos entitled Black Is Black. The group’s trademark song, “Black Is Black” took the worldwide pop charts by storm in 1966 and Magic’s Los Bravos collection shines a light on an underrated ‘60s pop legend.
Lastly, the man behind Magic Records, Martial Martinay, proves his worth as a fine guitarist and music stylist on his own with the release of his own 18 track 2002 CD entitled Acoustic Sound Orchestra. Ably performing all the guitars and instruments himself, Martinay has composed a number of guitar instrumental classics of his own while also putting a breezy instro guitar spin on pop standards like The Beatles’ “Blackbird”, “Washington Square” and Dylan’s classic “Blowin’ In The Wind”. Acoustic Sound Orchestra is a fine effort from Martinay, a man who continues to impress both as a recording guitarist and as a savvy record company honcho. www.magic-records.com

MOBILE FIDELITY - Back in the ‘90s, Sebastopol, CA.-based Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reigned supreme as the kings of audiophile gold disc reissues. Following the killing off of the original Mo-Fi by unscrupulous distributors and the sad and untimely death of Mo-Fi founder Herb Belkin, it seemed all but lost for those listeners who thrilled to Mobile’s glorious sounding 24k gold CDs. Several years later, in 2002, new interest in the label’s now highly collectible gold disc reissues from the ‘90s and the newly burgeoning SACD formats sparked a reformation of the label by some of Belkin’s original engineers. Taking a more cautious approach to their once full steam ahead release schedule, Mo-Fi retooled in 2003-04 and are back in action with new gold CD reissues from Beatles founder John Lennon. Although Lennon’s first two solo classics—Plastic Ono Band and Imagine—were reissued by Capitol Records in the early 2000’s, Mo-Fi make good on their early audiophile legacy with 2003 gold disc reissues of Lennon’s two early solo classics. Mo-Fi’s elegant sounding 2003 gold CD of Plastic Ono Band is an excellent example of the label’s refueled devotion to audiophile reissues. Mirroring Capitol’s upgraded and expanded edition of Plastic Ono Band, Mo-Fi’s gold CD adds in bonus tracks of Lennon’s 1970 45 smash “Power To The People” and an oft-neglected Lennon rarity “Do The Oz”. Mo-Fi also steps up to the plate with two hybrid Stereo / SACD silver CD versions of two classic Kinks albums from the ‘70s. Mo-Fi’s 2003 reissues of Everybody’s In Show Biz (from 1972) and Low Budget (1979) mirror the expanded late ‘90s Vel-Vel Records reissues, with their bonus tracks and lengthy, detailed CD booklets. Mobile Fidelity’s Ultradisc stereo / SACD reissues of both Kinks classics sound excellent and are worth investigation by discerning audiophiles. Another 2003 arrival on Mo-Fi is silver disc hybrid stereo / SACD reissue of Lost In Space by pop songstress Aimee Mann. The original lead singer in the ‘80s band ‘Til Tuesday, Mann has released a number of fine solo CDs over the years and her 2003 album, Lost In Space, recently reissued by Mo-Fi, is one of her best. Keep your ears open for future audiophile gold disc and hybrid SACD reissues from the newly revived Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. In other related Mo-Fi news, the label has just introduced the first ever 24KT Gold ULTRADISC CD-R—described as the first gold disc CD-R designed for professional, data critical, music and graphic archival applications, and all other data storage where there is no margin for loss or error. www.mofi.com / www.thebeatles.com

NO SWEAT RECORDS - The Plungers sound greatly influenced by the ‘60s rockin’ twang sound of The Ventures, The Shadows and even the vintage ‘50s guitar sound of Buddy Holly and drummer Jerry Allison. The band’s 21 track 2003 CD Guitars Gone Wild! has something for everyone, but mostly the album features some rocking guitar rave-ups played with a sense of style and finesse usually reserved for the best instro surf-rockers. www.theplungersband.com

NOTEWORTHY JAZZ
- The latest recording from jazz guitarists Vince Lewis and Steve Abshire, entitled Two In The Pocket, is a groove-filled duo CD filled with their trademark sound of American swing and pop-based mainstream jazz. A Heritage Guitar Performing Artist since ‘91, the Virginia-based Lewis has been praised by all the big guitar mags including 20th Century Guitar while the equally skilled Abshire has appeared in concert with guitar legends such as Herb Ellis and Tal Farlow while also backing up vocal stars like Della Reese and Rosemary Clooney. On the swinging Two In The Pocket, the guitarists are backed up by a fine rhythm section and the piano of Robert Redd. Fans of the great Les Paul and other guitar heroes such as Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell are advised to hunt down the classic guitar-jazz sounds of Two In The Pocket. In addition to his work with Abshire on Two In The Pocket, Lewis has also released a 7 track, 45 minute 2003 CD entitled Makin’ A Move. More original guitar jazz from Lewis—with cool titles like “East To Wes” and “Night Mayor”—Makin’ A Move tastefully echoes the guitar spirits of Wes Montgomery and smooth jazz icon Earl Klugh. www.noteworthyjazz.com / www.vincelewis.com

PARANORMAL
- High quality instrumental rock music is an art form best left to experts such as Australia-based guitarist Brett Garsed. The guitarist released his excellent CD, Big Sky in early 2003 and even though it went unnoticed by the masses it remains an excellent effort filled with imaginative fretboard work that mixes the best spirits of guitar giants like Steve Morse, Pat Metheny and Pink Floyd ax-man David Gilmour. Garsed made his mark early on playing with Australian pop star John Farham and at the end of the ‘80s as a member of the U.S. pop group Nelson, with Ricky Nelson’s sons. A couple years back Garsed released another excellent instrumental album entitled Tapestry, recorded with Ginger Baker’s son Kofi and bassist Ric Fierabracci under the group name Mojo. Bassist Fierabracci also appears on Big Sky along with drummer Toss Panos. For guitar-rock fusion buffs, it doesn’t get much better than the soaring, towering sounds of Big Sky. www.brettgarsed.com

PATRICK O’HEARN
- Synthesist, multi-instrumentalist and bass great Patrick O’Hearn has worked with a number of fine guitarists over the past 25 years including David Torn and Warren Cuccurullo and his band mate in the pioneering Group 87, Peter Maunu. A spectacular electronic music CD in the spirit of Brian Eno and beyond, O’Hearn’s 2003 CD, Beautiful World continues along the lines of Pat’s recent trance-inducing recordings. Rippling waves of lush, peaceful New Age sounds ebb and flow across the sound stage creating the aural of equivalent of watching clouds jettison across an open skyline. There’s something quite childlike yet at the same time so sophisticated about O’Hearn’s experimental musical watercolors. Performing much of the ‘chill’ electronica here on various instruments—including synthesizers, bass, acoustic and electronic percussion, textural guitars, piano and Chapman stick—O’Hearn, joined sporadically by his Group 87 comrade Peter Maunu—has recorded another remarkable soundtrack for your next intergalactic space adventure. www.patrickohearn.com

POHJOLA RECORDS
- Despite their immense proclivity for all types of music performance, from sweeping orchestral, electric jazz and Sakamoto-inspired cinematic soundtrack sounds, XL, deep down really knows how to rock. For a good example of the quintet’s varied style is their 2003 album, take a listen to Visual, their 5th and clearly their best yet. The album is the latest release on the Pohjola imprint, a music label started twenty years ago for the purpose of releasing music from Finland’s greatest rock instrumental composer of the 20th Century—Pekka Pohjola. Pohjola’s most interesting signing to date has proved to be XL. XL guitarist Jarmo Saari is turning out to be one of Finland’s most intriguing instrumental rock fusion composer /arrangers over the past five years and he brings his band to new heights on Visual. Very much in the spirit of all that ground-breaking instrumental prog-rock Pekka Pohjola released during much of the ‘70s and ‘80s, XL is at once challenging, melodic, potent and to the point. While we patiently wait for Pohjola to throw his hat back into the jazz-fusion arena, we have Visual to keep us inspired and happy. www.XLFinland.com

RPH PRODUCTIONS
- Those who grew up on a musical diet of The Beatles will often tell you that it was the lesser known songs, and consequently the productions, of Lennon & McCartney as well as George Harrison that shone a unique light on some of their best work. In that spirit, NYC based RPH unleashed a cool collection of Beatles magic as reconstructed by a number of vocalists and musicians. Entitled From A Window: Lost Songs Of Lennon & McCartney. There’s some fine singers on hand who take only the most politic liberties with these evergreen pop melodies. Highlights include a CD closing cover of that rarest of Fab memories, a ditty given by John and Paul to Billy J. Kramer & The Dakota’s called “I’ll Be On My Way”, covered here by the cool Johnny Society. Singer Graham Parker puts his spin on “Bad To Me” (another Fab cover/original by Mr. Kramer) and “Come And Get It” (a McCartney-composed hit for Badfinger). Further spotlights by B-52’s Kate Pierson, (doing a mean Cilla Black), Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander...so much more + the superlative guitar work of fretboard ace Duke Levine puts the finishing touches on this brilliant 17 track Beatles tribute. The only thing missing here would have to be one George Harrison song...say a bonus hidden track of Cheap Trick doing that ‘69 George ditty by Jackie Lomax, “Sour Milk Sea”. Oh well. www.rphproductions.com

RAINBOW QUARTZ
- An amazing band coming out of the holy land that gives progressive pop fans reason to enjoy, Rockfour released their latest CD, Nationwide on NYC-based Rainbow Quartz. The quartet, featuring the guitar of Baruch Ben Izhach, have released four albums sung in Hebrew and now with their second English album they tip their hats to the mid ‘60s pop sound of The Moody Blues and The Zombies. There’s also an obvious Bowie influence, circa the Low era, at work here with Izhach’s guitars and the vocals of Eli Lulai giving new meaning to the term Israeli rock. Another excellent pop band that deserves credit for their prodigious output and undying spirit, Myracle Brah released their 2003 album on Rainbow Quartz, called Treblemaker. An underrated pop singer-songwriter and guitarist in the spirit of greats like Pete Ham and Emmitt Rhodes, Andy Bopp turns in another fine performance with able assistance from his power-pop trio bandmates Paul Krysiak (bass) and Joe Parsons (drums). Myracle Brah keeps the spirit of pop alive and well with Treblemaker. www.rainbowquartz.com

RAVEN RECORDS - Up and out on Raven in 2003 is a comprehensive 22 track, 77 minute anthology from Buffalo Springfield founder Stephen Stills entitled Turnin’ Back The Pages: The Columbia Recordings 1975-1978. After nearly ten years of recording for Atco/Atlantic, Stills was signed to Columbia Records. Raven’s 2003 Stills retrospective recasts the best of his Columbia years including tracks from Stills (from 1975), Illegal Stills (1976) and Thoroughfare Gap (1978). Capping off this 22 track anthology of Still’s Columbia recordings are a couple of tracks Stills recorded on the famous Al Kooper Supersession album, also on Columbia, from 1968. A wealth of Stills originals—along with covers of “The Loner” (written by Neil Young), “Midnight Rider” (the Gregg Allman / Allman Bros. classic) and Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”—guest spots by David Crosby, Graham Nash, Flo & Eddie, Dave Mason and Ringo Starr, and liner notes that thoroughly recaptures a complete Stills history, make Raven’s CD a vital rediscovery. www.suitelorraine.com / www.ravenrecords.com.au

REV-OLA / CHERRY RED - Back in the mid to late ‘60s the names Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher were synonymous with high quality pop like the classic Association 45 “Along Comes Mary” (produced by Boettcher) and, also from 1967, the group Sagittarius who burst on the scene at the dawn of the FM radio craze with “My World Fell Down”. Aided and abetted by pop cohorts like Keith Olsen, Lee Mallory and Sandy Salisbury, Usher and Boettcher recorded the eleven tracks featured on the Rev-Ola CD reissue entitled Voices Of The Millennium. The 2003 CD features a number of tracks here that glisten with that classic late ‘60s soft-psychedelic stamp of approval that Usher and Boettcher became synonymous with over the years. Making total sense out of these classic late ‘60s days of wonder, the CD’s 2002 liner notes by Joe Foster puts the finishing touches on this lost classic of classic West Coast art-pop. www.revola.co.uk

SANCTUARY - One of the best labels to emerge in the new millennium, Sanctuary have been making all sorts of brilliant efforts on behalf of a number of artists inexplicably neglected by the major labels. High on that list is Beach Boys founder, the great Brian Wilson, who is feted with a 2003 Sanctuary DVD of his 2002 concerts in London, England. Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds: Live In London recaptures Brian’s 2002 performance of the Beach Boys’ 1966 masterpiece. Performing the entire Pet Sounds album from start to finish, Wilson is joined by his band, including The Wondermints, guitarist Jeff Foskett and Wilson collaborator Andy Paley. More than up to the challenge of performing one of the ‘60s greatest studio masterpieces, Wilson and Co. literally slay the London crowd, many of whom were among the earliest believers who ushered in the album with welcome arms when it was released way back in ‘66. Also in the crowd during one of these London shows from January and June, 2002 was Wilson’s Pet Sounds collaborator, Tony Asher, whose presence no doubt makes these shows that much more valuable. Although Sanctuary released a CD culled from these Pet Sounds Live concerts back in 2002—complete with fine liner notes by long time Wilson associate David Leaf—the DVD of the Pet Sounds concert event is much more engaging and fun to watch. In addition to the 57 minute concert, the DVD is further enhanced by an excellent 40 minute Pet Stories documentary of the album including candid, in depth interviews with Wilson, Tony Asher, bass great Carol Kaye, drumming icon Hal Blaine and many more. Liner notes by Sylvie Sims caps off this fine Brian Wilson rockumentary. www.brianwilson.com / www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com / www.superiorstreet.com / www.fluxgroup.com

STANLEY RECORDINGS - What a cool name for a record label, eh? And lo and behold their latest release is a 31 track Pink Floyd tribute album released as a double CD entitled A Fair Forgery Of Pink Floyd. It’s nearly impossible to achieve that same level of brilliance that Floyd exhibited in their youth, but these inspired artists give it a go. A few big names are here including guitar ace Mike Kenneally and ‘70s rocker Graham Parker along with a slew of lesser known yet equally gifted associates of bands like Wild Colonials, Luscious Jackson, etc. Perhaps the unifying thread on this wildly diverse covers album is the expert pop production, engineering and mixing work of producer John Would and Floyd-induced vision Stanley Recordings honcho Dan Johnson, who also manages the band (no surprise here) and FF contributor, Which One’s Pink. www.stanleyrecordings.com

VANGUARD RECORDS - With a catalog that’s a veritable audio museum, Vanguard is a legend among folk music record labels. For this ex-teenybopper one of their finest moments as a label still has to be a 1962 recording by a folk-trio called The Rooftop Singers, who went to the top of the charts with the number 1 hit “Walk Right In”. The folk song, recorded earlier in 1929 by Gus Gannon, was given a fresh breath of life by The Rooftops and really captured the freewheelin’ spirit of the pre-Beatles early ‘60s. That lost innocence is recaptured again on the 27 track compilation taken from the group early ‘60s Lps. Their brass ring at pop stardom was a fleeting pre-folk/rock slant on a vintage classic and was never to be repeated but, for a minute back there in early ‘63, The Rooftop Singers offered a little slice of musical heaven. With amazing liner notes and track info, Best Of The Vanguard Years puts a fine spin on some vintage ‘60s Americana. www.vanguardrecords.com

ZTT - Back in the mid ‘80s, The Art Of Noise defined the concept of mixing atmospheric ‘60s exotica with popular New Age sound that came into prominence the ‘80s with artists like Vangelis and Patrick O’Hearn. Interestingly the mysterious instrumental potpourri and sound collage of The Art Of Noise was produced by Trevor Horn—who not too long before had also mysteriously transformed Yes from Symphonic virtuosi into an ass-kicking, post New Wave prog-pop group during their early ‘80s comeback. Over in England, the group’s founding label, ZTT have reissued three 2003 Art Of Noise titles as SACD, playable in stereo, SACD stereo and 5.1 surround sound. Featuring the talents of a number of Art Of Noise players including the multi-talented Anne Dudley, these 2003 ZTT reissues include—their classic Daft (back to ‘83 with early singles, their debut album and mini album Into Battle), Propaganda (from 1985 / with a new stereo mix by Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson), and a live album put together by Art Of Noise, Horn and 10cc founder Lol Creme—combining various live performances from 1999, 2000 and 2002—entitled Art Of Noise Reconstructed...for your listening pleasure. Horn’s work with Yes and Art Of Noise is legendary and his SACD production and overall sonic genius on each of these late 2003 AON reissues pays great respect to the spirit of these timeless recordings. Available exclusively thru’: www.ZTT.com



Attention Artists and
CD and DVD Companies: Have your release reviewed in MWE3.com and 20th Century Guitar. Send to Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein, P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249 e-mail: rss54@mwe3.com
Contact: rss54@mwe3.com

 
   

 


CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
Email: rss54@mwe3.com 

 

Copyright 2000-2002 MWE3.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved