Record Label and Music Spotlight 

MAY / JUNE 2003



on Love Records

on Not Lame

on Angel Air


A&M RECORDS - An acquired taste for some, The Strawbs were also fertile breeding grounds for some of Englands great symphonic rock keyboardists including Rick Wakeman, Blue Weaver and John Hawken. At their best The Strawbs offered an intriguing mix of lyrical British folk and symphonic rock epics most accurately captured on the 1972 Strawbs classic, Grave New World (produced by Tony Visconti) and their potent ‘74 album Hero And Heroine. Largely guided by the imaginative rock leanings of founder and chief composer Dave Cousins, The Strawbs were among the most prolific ‘70s groups and when they cranked the volume all the way up, it was something to behold. Chronicles has done another exemplary job on The Best Of Strawbs - The Millennium Collection, picking ten of their finest tracks during their rock heyday. There’s never been quite anything as good since and this 50 minute compilation proves it.

ANGEL AIR - Well known for his work with Beatles legend Paul McCartney, singer-songwriter Steve Holley played drums with Wings in the late ‘70s, most notably on their ‘79 album Back To The Egg. Holley was also featured on Macca’s famous unreleased and subsequently bootlegged album, Cold Cuts. After years of numerous sessions drumming with legends like Elton John, Julian Lennon, Joe Cocker and Ian Hunter, Holley reemerges in 2003 with his first ever solo album entitled The Reluctant Dog, recorded during 2002 in NYC and released on the U.K.-based Angel Air label. Mix one part Wings and one part Badfinger, and you have a rocking album filled thirteen, intelligent, catchy pop tracks. Assisted by Keith Lentin (bass, guitars, keyboards) and a number of other fine players including Denny Laine, Holley shines here as a singer-songwriter. Songs like “So Help Me God” and “Out Of England” are brilliantly cast in the classic McCartney pop style, and anyone influenced by Wings is well advised to hear The Reluctant Dog.

ARTISAN ENTERTAINMENT - The movie often associated with the Paul McCartney-composed Badfinger classic “Come And Get It”, The Magic Christian starred Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr and British comic genius Peter Sellers. The movie—while unjustly panned after it came out in 1969—remains a work of comic genius in the spirit of Monty Python and in fact the Python edge is all over the movie thanks to the brilliant acting of the hilarious John Cleese who co-stars along with Richard Attenborough, Roman Polanski and Raquel Welch. Badfinger’s great pop sounds are neatly placed in various scenes making the 101 minute Magic Christian one of the great movie classics from the close of the ‘60s. Like the Beatles’ own prismatic, tour-de-force Magical Mystery Tour, The Magic Christian is a real trip in it’s own right and remains essential viewing for Beatles fans. The 2003 full screen DVD reissue of The Magic Christian on Artisan Entertainment features digitally remastered 2.0 Dolby stereo surround sound, interactive menus and scene index.

BACKBEAT BOOKS - San Francisco-based Backbeat Books continues to amaze with a series of 2002-2003 books covering a wealth of rock legends. Written by U.K. journalist Nigel Williamson, 160 page softcover edition of Journey Through The Past: The Stories Behind The Classic Songs Of Neil Young takes a look at the history of Neil Young’s prodigious back catalog with track-by-track album history, discography information and a stunning array of color and b&w photos. Covering his early days with Buffalo Springfield and CSNY to a detailed analysis of his vast solo output—from his 1969 self-titled Neil Young to his 2002 album Are You Passionate?Journey Through The Past is a fascinating, fun and quite easy to read expose on one of rock’s most illustrious legends.

- U.K.-based guitarist Mat Dickson released a wonderful CD in 2003 entitled The Keeper’s Log. The album conjures imaginary instrumental music Matthew Fisher might have written for Procol Harum around the time of A Salty Dog, while other points of reference here would be some of Mike Oldfield's more pastoral instrumental moments and Mark Knopfler’s Scottish / Celtic music flavored soundtracks. Inspired by the Isles of Tiree and Mull on the West coast of Scotland, Dickson has created a unique mood inspiring set for fans of the genre and The Keeper’s Log is a fine follow up to the Mat’s first ‘Lighthouse’ flavored album The Lighthouse Keeper, released in ‘99. Extra points for the excellent cover art and overall first class digipak design.

- Anyone into vintage, ‘60s sounding jazz guitar albums is strongly advised to check out the latest CD from Florida-based guitarist Nate Najar, appropriately titled The Cool Sounds Of Nate Najar. The eight track Cool Sounds CD is perfect for repeat spins and it constantly reaps new rewards. Najar is in fine company with fine rhythm section and Sam Koppleman on vibraphone. Najar excels in this enjoyable swinging jazz setting which features some fine originals along with stellar covers of Henry Mancini (“Dreamsville”) and his unique, but completely convincing rendition of “Battle Hymn Of The Republic”.

- If watching great performances from the masters of ‘70s rock is your thing, then you don’t want to miss the wealth of great DVD and CD packages from U.K.-based Classic Rock Productions. One of the company’s most intriguing 2002 titles is their Masters From The Vault DVD featuring Dutch rock sensations Focus. Featuring incredible live and soundstage performances dating back to 1971—including live concert footage from 1972 and ‘73 performances from the popular U.K. music show Old Grey Whistle Test—CRP’s Focus DVD is the definitive video of the Dutch instrumental rock giants. For guitar fans the DVD features eye-opening performances featuring founding member/guitarist Jan Akkerman and there’s even footage from the short-lived mid ‘70s Focus lineup with guitarist Philip Catherine. There’s also footage from the group’s recent reunion from 2002, although that’s sadly without Akkerman. Any way you cut it, the Focus Masters From The Vault is essential viewing for fans of one of Europe’s great classical rock legends. Available in the U.S. from Collector’s Choice Music. / www.classicrockproductions

COLUMBIA LEGACY - Commenting on the origins of the group’s name, Delaney Bramlett says jokingly in the liner notes, “We never knew who was going to show up and play.” Back in ‘69 Delaney & Bonnie was a hot ticket indeed. Having caught the ear of George Harrison and Dave Mason, the group also pricked up the ears of Eric Clapton who put them as the middle act on the Summer ‘69 Blind Faith tour. After recording several key albums, D&B released D&B Together in 1972. It was sadly the last album the husband and wife team would make together, but it was a good one. Kicking off with the D&B rendition of the Dave Mason classic, “Only You Know And I Know”, D&B Together features a number of cool roots-rock favorites including the album’s single “Comin’ Home”, co-written by Clapton and featuring some blistering guitar work from Clapton and the supple slide guitar work of Dave Mason. There’s tons more great players on the album from that incredible era in music history including Leon Russell and Duane Allman to name a few. The 2003 Columbia Legacy reissue also adds in six bonus tracks from various D&B solo projects from ‘72-73. Well worth hearing if just for that classic “Comin’ Home” track, the CD features liner notes from Greg Martin of the Kentucky HeadHunters who puts the Delaney & Bonnie story into fitting perspective. /

When Cream broke up in 1968 there were three essential musical factions in place. First was Blind Faith with Clapton and Ginger Baker presiding with Steve Winwood. Second, the Jack Bruce / Pete Brown axis began again, releasing some of their best songs ever with Jack ‘69 classic Songs For A Tailor. Third was Mountain featuring Cream producer, the late, great Felix Pappalardi and Long Island guitar icon Leslie West. West’s 1969 self-titled Leslie West Mountain on Windfall Records is still considered the first Mountain album by long time fans but, with drummer Corky Laing joining for Climbing! (1970) and the third, and all time classic Mountain album, Nantucket Sleighride they really took their place among the great American bands of the ‘70s. Columbia Legacy reissued both Climbing! and Nantucket Sleighride in 2003 as expanded editions with each featuring a bonus live track and excellent CD booklets. In the words of Leslie West, “I’m very happy with these reissues. They show what Mountain is all about”, with drummer Corky Laing adding, “I am a messenger to tell you how Felix deserves to have this music put under a microscope. Sonically speaking, I think these reissues honor Felix’s work as a producer and arranger.” Legacy have done right with these rock classics bolstering each with fine booklets. Legacy have also released The Best Of Mountain, featuring the band’s quintessential tracks along with two tracks from the very first Mountain classic from 1969.

DIG MUSIC - Described as San Fransisco’s answer to The Beatles, Moby Grape burst on the scene back in 1967 and their self-titled debut—despite the enormous record company hype—was quickly devoured by fans of legends like Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver. Despite the near legendary status of their first album and significant follow ups like their early ‘70s classic, 20 Granite Creek and the emerging cult status of the late, great Moby Grape co-founder Skip Spence, the band disappeared into music history, or so it seemed. Then in 1990, the original Moby Grape—minus the full-fledged involvement of Spence—reformed under the name The Melvilles (their name changed due to legal restrictions!) and released a ten track cassette on the Herman Records label. Finally reissued on the California-based Dig Music label, Legendary Grape combines music from the original 1990 Melvilles cassette with a slew of bonus tracks. By the time this music was recorded in 1990, Spence had further deteriorated and in fact passed away in 1999 but the album does kick off with his fascinating composition, the sonic Grape-flavored “All My Life”, and in fact, the entire album is blessed with great songs, fine harmonies and further S.F.- style country-rock psychedelia from Jerry Miller, Don Stevenson, Bob Mosley and Peter Lewis. Even if you’ve never heard their classic self-titled ‘67 debut or their other titles, the welcome reissue of Legendary Grape is nevertheless an excellent representation of the innovative Moby Grape sound. Fitting liner notes and prominent packaging adds quite a bit to the over all experience. In addition to their classic Legendary Grape reissue, Dig Music have also reissued CD titles from California rock legends Stone Ground (The Last Dance) and Cold Blood (Vintage Blood)

- Described as ‘a stunning double album of live performances recorded during King Crimson’s most elusive period’, Ladies Of The Road captures the Lizard-era Crimson in fine fettle. The sound quality is way above average and the double CD would instantly qualify as an excellent bootleg but the eye-catching CD booklet puts it way over the top. King Crimson achieved almost instant early fame with their classic first album and following the untimely departure of co-founders Greg Lake and Ian McDonald, guitarist and Crim mentor Robert Fripp had to fight his way back to the top of the prog-rock heap. He more than succeeded with the 1971 release of the brilliant Lizard. Featuring Crimson classics like “Pictures Of A City”, “Cirkus” and “Groon”, Ladies Of The Road captures the Lizard-era lineup of Fripp, Boz Burrell, Mel Collins and Ian Wallace on the road during their famous 1971-early ‘72 U.K./U.S. tour which—at least for their 11/24/71 NYC show—saw them on the bill with both Yes and Procol Harum. Disc two of the double set—the humorously titled Schizoid Men—features 11 tracks worth of instrumental sax and guitar solos taken from various performances of the early Crimson classic “21st Century Schizoid Man”. Summing up in his liner notes, Robert Fripp adds, “the jury is still out on this Crimson, based on insufficient evidence. Here is more evidence, although we have tampered with it.” It’s music history now and Ladies Of The Road helps to set the record straight regarding the early days of one of the most original prog-rock groups of the past 35 years.

- In 2002, Eagle Vision released No One Here Gets Out Alive: The Doors’ Tribute To Jim Morrison. Now in 2003, Eagle Vision follows up with The Doors - Soundstage Performances. A compilation of three different Doors’ performances—from 1967 in Toronto, from Denmark in 1968 and from a reunion of the surviving members from a public television sound stage in 1979—this is clearly the pick to click documentary on the ‘60s rock greats. Like so many of the great ‘60s rock legends the Doors were subject to much scrutiny and as the movie so accurately points out, it was especially Jim Morrison who, after being arrested on the trumped up sex offense in Miami suffered immensely. Ah...the ‘60s! Fairly recent interviews with all the surviving members including the group’s guitarist and main songwriter Robbie Krieger sheds true insight into how the band worked. A fine mix of live video performances from various settings, including some hilarious interview segments from the '60s, mix really well with the more recent interviews making it clearly of interest for all concerned.
A DVD retrospective recorded live in England on June 21st, 1980, Good Timin’ - Live At Knebworth, England 1980 features one of the last filmed live concerts from the original Beach Boys prior to the death of founding member Dennis Wilson. There may be more here than meets the eye but the DVD on Eaglevision features maestro Brian Wilson who is sadly relegated here to the roll of keyboardist and backup vocalist. Some of the reasons why The Beach Boys failed to coalesce in the end are to be found on Good Timin’. It was producer great Don Was who said that had the Beach Boys simply let Brian Wilson write and produce the new music he wanted to, the group might have endured and even gone on to produce further gems like Sunflower and Smile. Sad to say but, Good Timin’ features one of the greatest rock bands of all time on the verge of spiritual and musical collapse. That said, the DVD is nevertheless well produced and the fitting liner notes by Mike Grant makes it a period piece souvenir from the most celebrated American rock band of the 20th Century. Eagle Records have also released a 22 track CD version of the Good Timin’ DVD and VHS.

- Just like the prismatic cover art, the latest CD from L.A.-based Steve KornickiForever Journey—is filled with a colorful spectrum of instrumental guitar sounds. A mixture of live performance guitar, smooth jazz and Euro-flavored New Age topped off with the strong rhythmic beat of World Music, the 72 minute Forever Journey can be almost described as Pat Metheny jamming with Weather Report. A great sounding album for instrumental guitar aficionados, the album features stellar performances by Kornicki on electric and acoustic nylon guitars, fretless bass, baritone guitar, flute and keyboards. Splashy and stimulating, the CD is further fleshed out by fine percussion work from Steve’s brother Kevin Kornicki.

- America burst on the pop scene in 1972 with their self-titled debut album. Recorded in London and produced by the late Ian Samwell, the America album spawned numerous FM radio classics such as “Horse With No Name” and “I Need You”. The debut recording by this young trio went on to become one of the most enduring albums of the early 1970's winning them a Grammy for best new artist in 1972. Soon after America fell into the production graces of famed Beatles producer George Martin. In 1977 the trio became a duo and has continued to record and tour—charting again in the early 1980's with "You Can Do Magic". America's latest, The Grand Cayman Concert, was recorded in April 2002 on the Island of Grand Cayman. Released on their own Human Nature Records, The Grand Cayman Concert features the duo of Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell performing all the vocal, guitar, and piano duties on this 16 track live CD. Included here are all the hits—”Ventura Highway”, “Sister Golden Hair”, as well as rare performances of “Windwave” and “Another Try”. Expertly recorded and produced by Hank Linderman, The Grand Cayman Concert is a classy example of America’s still timeless pop appeal.

- Liquid Mind is really the music of New Age guru Chuck Wild who has a fabulously relaxing 2003 CD entitled Liquid Mind VI on his own Chuck Wild Records. Wild makes lush pastoral and ultimately mind altering hypnotic electronic music basically designed for playback during medical treatments like reflexology and massage. Sort of an aural massage, LM VI is a worthy follow up to earlier Wild classics like Ambience Minimus and Slow World. Wild makes it well worth your time to slow down. Excellent mastering by studio wiz Bernie Grundman.

- Released in 1969, the debut album from Finland's rock greats Wigwam, Hard And Horny introduced the talents of British singer-songwriter Jim Pembroke, who ended up moving to Helsinki in the mid '60s. Transforming the entire Finnish rock scene, Pembroke combined his uncanny songwriting with Pekka Pohjola’s Zappa / Oldfield inspired approach to instrumental rock, and several albums later, Wigwam were eventually picked up for a few albums (along with a pair of albums by Pohjola) by British rock mogul Richard Branson and his Virgin Records label in 1975—although Branson dropped the ball on the Finnish rock gods way too soon... Pembroke had good company in the early Wigwam which featured the late, great drummer Ronnie Österberg, keyboardist Jukka Gustavson, and bass great Pekka Pohjola who joined on their second album from 1970, Tombstone Valentine, produced by L.A. pop legend Kim Fowley. Although Fowley only produced one Wigwam album, it was a good one. Considered Wigwam’s most commercial album of the early ‘70s, Tombstone Valentine is still worth hearing today. The group’s third album 1972’s Fairyport was a sprawling prog-rock masterpiece featuring classic vocal and instrumental tracks from Pembroke, Pohjola and Gustavson. With Jukka (yooka) composing much of the album’s over the top poetic / political diatribes, the album sort of put the band into three distinct musical camps that equally reveled in the musical mayhem. All three of Wigwam’s first albums’s were recently reissued in Finland on the group’s original label, Love Records. Thankfully, for their 2003 Wigwam remasters Lovee has spruced up the sound with 24 bit remastering, added the lyrics and the nicely textured booklets are brilliant and overall they really capture the diamond like quality of the group’s image with excellent band photos and more.

- NYC-based Messenger put out the 2003 album from Johnny Society, and while it might not be as pop inspired as their 2002 album Clairvoyance, the group’s fourth album Life Behind The 21st Century Wall does get some fine musical points across. Featuring guitarist/keyboardist and the group’s main singer Kenny Siegal, Gwen Snyder (bass) and Brian Geltner (drums), Life moves along at a nice clip. Some of Siegal’s gritty rockers would sound right at home of some of those classic early ‘70s Band albums or even some of the Stones’ late ‘70s / mid 80s stuff while his original tracks continue to hone his pop sensibilities.

MULTIPHASE RECORDS - Based in Northern California, guitarist Carl Weingarten has been on the cutting edge of the avant-gard progressive rock world since the early ‘80s. Recent Weingarten CDs on his Multiphase Records—including his 2002 masterpiece Escapesilence, featuring bass great Michael Manring—further established his musical integrity. Multiphase recently reissued Carl’s 1988 ensemble recording Laughing At Paradise, which was digitally remastered and reissued on CD for the first time. Musically, the album is similar in spirit to some of David Bowie’s late ‘70s instrumental electronic musings and even some of the more progressive stylings of Phillip Glass. Combining serpentine electric guitar explorations with bold electronica and superbly crafted prog-rock chamber music, the 13 track Laughing At Paradise has just about something for anyone into modern progressive instrumental music.

- The roster of Not Lame reads like a real windfall for pop fans. Among their 2002-03 CD releases is Bleeder from singer-songwriter Andy Bopp and his trio Myracle Brah. Anyone who speaks Swedish will know that Bra means good in Swedish so it’s no wonder that Bopp is a well respected man in Stockholm! His latest continues perfecting various pop aspects originally mined by Lennon and the Fabs. That said, he often succeeds on a variety of tracks that both rock and reflect. A well honed cover of McCartney’s Ram classic “Too Many People” does indeed rock and Bopp’s version is delivered with cool intent hinting about the Beatles’ breakup. Imagine a band with four Andy Bopp’s! BoppBopp-skavoovy.

- Rainbow Quartz keeps pop lights burning brightly with a new CD from Outrageous Cherry entitled Supernatural Equinox. Frontman Michael Smith sounds greatly influenced by Loaded-era Velvet Underground and Brian Wilson’s more trippier moments mixed in with a little late ‘60s Byrds. An orchestral, fuzzed-up, freaked out rock ‘n roll juggernaut, OC pumps out some fine retro-pop driven pop laced with a primeval ‘60s groove.
Barcelona, Spain is currently a hot place for ‘60s style pop and Sidonie deliver a fine new platter with Let It Flow, out in 2003 on Rainbow Quartz. Sort of picking up from where raga-rock groups like Kula Shaker left off, Sidonie combines swirling sitar sounds and tablas to their exotic pop tapestry.
The folks at Rainbow Quartz will stop at nothing to recreate that vintage early ‘70s pop sound. Case in point is their self-titled 2003 CD from The Telepathic Butterflies. Citing The Beatles, Kinks and XTC as big influences, the Telpathic ones are making waves in their native Winnipeg, Canada and are ready to bring their unique blend of jangle pop and psychedelic innocence to the international stage. All this and more, topped off with their near-hit cover of the ‘67 Donovan classic “Epistle To Dippy”. /

- A few years back, Austrailia’s Raven Records released their acclaimed Byrd Parts CD and now in 2003 they follow up with another treasure chest of Byrds and Byrds-related rarities entitled Byrd Parts 2. Among the 28 tracks on the 70+ minute CD include rare tracks recorded between 1964-80 featuring Byrds founders Gene Clark (solo and songs covered by The Rose Garden) along with early tracks by David Crosby (including music Crosby made as a member of Les Baxter’s Balladeers.) There’s also a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” performed by Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark at the Bottom Line in ‘77. Packed with a slew of rarities from The Jet Set (aka The Byrds), Peter Fonda, Johnny Rivers (both covering Gram Parsons), Earl Scruggs Family, Flying Burrito Brothers, The City Surfers, Judy Collins and more make Byrd Parts 2 essential for ‘Byrdmaniax’ everywhere. A cool 12 page CD booklet puts the Byrd Parts 2 story into fitting perspective. Also up and out on Raven is Singin’ With Emmylou 2 (20 country recordings featuring the duet or backing voice of country music great Emmylou Harris) and The Essential, Classic Stewart 1964-1979 - Earth Rider from folk, country and roots singer-songwriter John Stewart (with Lindsey Buckingham and including Stewart’s own version of his self composed Monkees’ hit “Daydream Believer”).

- Since his early days in the late ‘70s downtown NYC prog-metal group Massacre, Bill Laswell has been something of a musical superstar. After leaving his work with guitar giant Fred Frith, Laswell went on to work as a producer with greats like Iggy Pop, Ginger Baker, Yoko Ono, Peter Gabriel and more. Laswell recently released his latest CD in his ongoing Dub Chamber & Sacred Systems series entitled Book Of Exit - Dub Chamber 4. The downtown NYC-based ROIR label is a musical haven for some gifted Dub and punk-rock artists and Laswell’s experimental Dub releases fit right in here. With Laswell assuming all the bass, guitar and keyboard chores, the album also features some far-out, unobtrusive percussionists as well as Ethiopian female singer Gigi. Hypnotic, trance inducing dub excursions, influenced by reggae rhythms and trendy hip-hop vibes abound on Book Of Exit. It just doesn’t get more exotic and World-beat inspired than Dub Chamber 4. Miss it at your own peril.

- Among the great Beatles tribute CDs of the past few years, It’s Only Love features 18 instrumental solo guitar recording from Arkansas-based guitarist Sir Charles Hammer. Commenting on his 2003 Beatles tribute CD, Sir Charles adds, “As I worked up these arrangements, I was constantly amazed and delighted by the subtle intricacies of melody, harmonies, counter-melodies...unique musical twists and turns which makes their music so wonderful.” An excellent guitarist with a number of CDs to his credit Sir Charles does the right thing with the Fab Four’s legacy reviving 16 Lennon-McCartney classics along with two tracks by Beatles’ guitar great George Harrison. Influenced by guitar greats like Steve Howe and Steve Hackett, Hammer’s exquisite work on classical, acoustic and occasional electric guitar is only surpassed by the long enduring fascination each of these evergreen Beatles songs continues to radiate.

- Similar in tone and spirit to the recordings of acoustic guitar giants such as Leo Kotke, Phil Keaggy and even Steve Howe, N.J.-based guitarist Glenn Zervas released his latest solo album late in 2002. Grace Notes is the kind of album that you could leave on all day and not get tired of. For fans of harmonious and reflective acoustic guitar albums, it doesn’t get any better than Grace Notes. Recorded at the guitarist’s Key Of Z studio, the 14 track CD features a superbly executed combination of acoustic finger style and flatpicking guitar techniques mixed in with a restrained tint of electric guitar flavorings. An experienced pastor of worship and prayer as well as the leader of the Christian bands Promise and Living Water, Zervas uplifts the spirit with his tasteful, yet ultimately rewarding guitar sounds.

- Described by some as ‘the most innovative white blues guitarist since Stevie Ray Vaughan, Queens, N.Y. native Ronnie Earl released his debut album for Stony Plain Records in 2003. The 11 track mostly instrumental I Feel Like Goin’ On features Earl’s white hot guitar chops back up by fine players like Dave Limina (keys), Jimmy Mouradian (bass) and Lorne Entress (drums). Featuring ten instrumentals and one vocal track, the CD should find a home with anyone who dug Earl’s ‘80s and ‘90s albums on Black Top Records, Bullseye, Verve and his recent albums on Telarc. Clocking in at 74 minutes, I Feel Like Goin’ On sizzles with pure, intense smoking instrumental blues and Earl has even called it his favorite studio album since the late ‘80s.

SPEARHEAD ENTERTAINMENT - California-based electric guitarist Rick Adams grew up on an early musical diet of greats like Steve Winwood and based on his ability to play just about every instrument he set his hands upon, Adams is right on the money on on solo CD debut Midnight Rain. You might file Adams under the instrumental rock / jazz rock umbrella, but his approach is very melodic and atmospheric and his guitar work is dynamic in all the right places. The eight track, self-produced Midnight Rain is a solid introduction to a major talent who has the chops and musical direction to take it to the next level.

- Brazil is a country rich with guitar tradition and that includes several fine rock instrumental groups. One such group, Tightrope released a cool 14 track rock CD entitled Surf Music & CIA at the end of 2002. In addition to classic instro chestnuts like “Pipeline”, “Atlantis” and “Shindig”, the CD also features a rarely heard cover of the early Beatles classic “Cry For A Shadow”, composed by George Harrison & John Lennon. The band is very tight and the CD features the rockin’ guitar sound of guitarist Benny Silva.

- Finding the long missing original master from Who’s Next by The Who’s long time engineer / producer cohort Jon Astley resulted in MCA releasing the double CD deluxe edition Who’s Next. Released in August 1971 Who’s Next was in retrospect the pivotal point in the group’s musical progression and since it’s release it’s often hailed as the group’s benchmark album release. As great as the final original nine track Who’s Next would become, the original concept for the album was based on Pete Townshend’s extensive Lifehouse project. As it turned out Lifehouse was scaled back to the rock classic Who’s Next and the story behind it all is succinctly laid out in the liner notes by Townshend. With the Who’s Next story chronologically detailed in the 30 page booklet, music from all the key sessions—including the fabled March 1971 NYC sessions with Leslie West and Felix Pappalardi—that helped shape the course and direction of the final product is featured on the 29 track double CD Deluxe Edition Who’s Next.

UMG / POLYDOR - Another rock legend receiving the royal treatment from Universal Music Group is NYC downtown art-rock legends Velvet Underground. The double CD Deluxe Edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico features the band’s 1966 / ‘67 debut in it’s stereo and first ever mono mix complete with singles bonus tracks and tracks from the album debut from their late, great singer Nico. Propelled by the burgeoning genius of both Lou Reed and John Cale, the VU was too good to last and despite growing acceptance, the group eventually broke up at the dawn of the ‘70s. Released on Polydor, the double disc is highlighted by that album’s trendsetting Andy Warhol album cover art and sets the record straight concerning one of the most influential pre-punk rock and roll records. On a related subject from Polydor is The Velvet Underground Bootleg Series, Volume 1: The Quine Tapes. Recorded by long time Velvet’s fan and rock legend Robert Quine, the 3 CD box set features live performances from the band in 1969, just after John Cale left the group. Featuring the Velvet’s band with Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker and Doug Yule, the mini box captures the group in prime form just before their best and final studio album 1970’s Loaded. The Quine Tapes is an interesting live compilation organized by a major fan who was simple there to bootleg his favorite band. In the words of Quine, “Listening to this stuff all these years later, I’m ultimately the same fan I was in 1969.”

- Back in the ‘80s Kristi Callan was the lead singer with group Wednesday Week who went on to release a couple albums, including one produced by Don Dixon. Callan’s vocal skills are also featured on recent albums by David Gray and Kinks’ legend Dave Davies. In 2003 Kristi has released her debut solo CD—a five track L.A.-flavored pop outing entitled Feed The Kitty. Released on the L.A.-based Vibrophonic label, the CD e.p. marks an excellent new direction for Callan, who pays tribute to her pop influences with a fine cover of the Arthur Lee & Love classic “Andmoreagain”.

- Written and compiled by Beatles expert Bruce Spizer, The Beatles On Apple Records takes an in depth look at the wealth and variety of the music The Fab Four released on their self-owned Apple Records. The Fabs released only a handful of albums as The Beatles on Apple Records beginning with their ‘68 classic The White Album, yet there was so much more history involved that Spizer’s 300+ page Beatles On Apple book is another real windfall for Beatles fans. Spizer’s latest and greatest Beatles book proudly takes it’s place alongside his other’ books The Beatles’ Story On Capitol Records Part 1 & 2 as well as his other coffee table masterpiece The Beatles On Vee-Jay. No one is more qualified to delineate the Beatles’ history than Spizer and that fact comes sharply into focus after quickly checking out The Beatles On Apple Records. Filled with page after page of mind-boggling Beatles trivia and hundreds of eye-popping color and b&w photos, this is the kind of book that people, hundreds of years from now, will look at and completely grasp the historical importance The Beatles brought to 20th Century music history. Future books planned include Spizer’s The Beatles Solo On Apple Records as well as a new book documenting The Beatles’ first U.S. visit in February, 1964.


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