January, 2001 
CD Reviews

REISSUES REVIEWS

 

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Flashback
(Epic / Sony Legacy)

While the music world awaits the upcoming planned album from pop great Jeff Lynne, Flashback sheds new light on the prodigious amount of music Lynne and ELO recorded between 1971 and 1981. Formed by Roy Wood, Bev Bevan and Lynne after the three split up The Move, the first album from ELO turned the prog-rock world on itís ear at the dawn of the Ď70s. Sadly, the arrival of The Electric Light Orchestra, the album, split ELO up upon itís release. Perhaps the most significant factor of that first ELO breakup had to be the departure of Roy Wood, who with his group Wizzard, would score numerous hits on the U.K. pop charts before fading into cult posterity. With drumming great Bev Bevan still fronting a fake ELO, Lynne was the one original ELO member who remained on track, going on to work with guitar great George Harrison and The Beatles on their great "Free As A Bird" single a couple years back. As we await Lynneís new music, fans should check out the new noteworthy three CD ELO box set just issued by the groupís advocates at Legacy Records. In Lynneís own words, "This is the good kind of flashback...I feel good about returning to this. Itís taken me awhile to get enough distance from ELO to see what it was." Thankfully Lynne survived to tell the ELO story in the extensive booklet included here. Flashback features new interviews, track by track notes by Lynne and thereís even a round of newly completed ELO cuts by Lynne. Decked out in vintage, ultra slick Ď70s ELO packaging, complete with a 44 page color booklet, the 53 prime tracks on Flashback should keep ELO fans quite happy as they eagerly await the next movement from Lynne. www.legacyrecordings.com  / www.elomusic.com 


 
 

RORY GALLAGHER
Defender
Fresh Evidence
(Buddha)

One of the greatest blues-rock guitarists of all time, the late great Rory Gallagher is further commemorated with new reissues of two of his final album classics. First issued in 1987, Defender remains possibly the quintessential Gallagher album. Defender features a number of key side players including long time Gallagher bandmate Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Brendan OíNeill (drums). From the opening guitar riffs of the lead off track "Kickback City" you just know that Defender is pure vintage Gallagher. Acclaimed for all their fabulous Rory Gallagher CD reissues, Buddha Records has done another top job on Defender, loading their new reissue with a pair of bonus tracks and reflective notes by Roryís brother Donal Gallagher. Likewise, Buddha has just reissued Gallagherís Ď90 album Fresh Evidence. Not quite as overwhelming as Defender, the album again features Gallagher side players McAvoy and OíNeill. More diverse than Defender, Fresh Evidence blended the patented Gallagher blues-rock sound with flavors of rock Ďní roll, jazz and cajun music. Another surprise on Fresh Evidence is Gallagherís use of dulcimer, electric sitar and mandola. Fresh Evidence is further enhanced by a pair of bonus tracks and noteworthy liner notes. www.btinternet.com/~rory.gallagher 


 
  JAN HAMMER
Snapshots 1.2
(One Way)

Listen to RealAudio sample: Too Much To Lose

Itís taken over eleven years but, finally the 1989 album by jazz-rock keyboard great Jan Hammer sees the light of day as an American CD release. First released in Europe on MCA Records, the original version of Snapshots was Hammerís long awaited follow-up to his critically acclaimed mid Ď80s album Escape From Television. Just reissued by South Florida-based One Way Records, Snapshots 1.2 offers a newly revamped version of the original Snapshots album complete with a pair of bonus tracks, track remixes and updated album artwork. The first album to be completed by Hammer at his Upstate-New York Red Gate Studios, Snapshots is filled with dramatic moods and quintessential soundtrack melodies. With itís heavy emphasis on European style precision and ambience, the album presented quite a contrast to Hammerís days as the fusion burning virtuoso keyboard ace in Mahavishnu Orchestra. Why the original 1989 Snapshots was never issued in the U.S. remains a mystery, but thankfully One Way has taken up the cause and has tastefully revamped the original album classic with some terrific surprises. www.janhammer.com 


 
  PAUL SIMON & ART GARFUNKEL
Two Can Dream Alone
(NMC / Burning Airlines)

Years before they took the music world by storm as Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel recorded a number of tracks under their assumed alias of Tom & Jerry. Simon was Jerry Landis and Art was Tom Graph. Paul and Art also recorded under different names at other times. Simon recorded solo under the name Paul Kane and Garfunkel under the name Artie Garr. Twenty one of these unusual pre-Simon & Garfunkel tracks have now been collected on one splendid CD just reissued on U.K.-based N-M-C Records. Just about all the songs depict the duoís fascination with Ď50s rock and roll, especially the music of Buddy Holly and Dion. Of course, after they made it big as Simon & Garfunkel, the pair tried to distance themselves from these initial first tracks they recorded. N-M-C has done a brilliant and respectful job reassembling these vintage late Ď50s tracks from the two soon-to-be legends of the Ď60s pop world. In addition to the twenty one tracks collected here, Two Can Dream Alone boasts amazing artwork and photos along with new liner notes by Sean Egan that gives the complete Simon & Garfunkel story a unique perspective. www.n-m-c.co.uk 


 
  HARRY NILSSON
Aerial Pandemonium Ballet
(Buddha)

The late, great singer songwriter Harry Nilsson is further remembered with the first ever U.S. CD reissue of his 1971 album Aerial Pandemonium Ballet. For Nilsson fans the album was somewhat of a mystery when it first surfaced. Essentially a collection of tracks from Harryís first two solo albums, Pandemonium Shadow Show and Aerial Ballet, the album remixed and reworked songs from both those albums in an effort to come up with a definitive work that took a look back while also breaking new ground. In an era when remixing and rerecording is now a matter of fact, Nilsson should be considered to be quite an innovator. The intriguing liner notes by Curtis Armstrong takes listeners back to the actual making of Aerial Pandemonium Ballet with a detailed track-by-track description of Nilssonís procedures and techniques. Perhaps the artistís thought processes are best described by Nilssonís former engineer Richie Schmitt when he adds, "The four and eight track basic tracks were transferred to sixteen tracks and some new music and instruments were added and changed. We recorded some new material which George Tipton arranged." The booklet details all the great players who took part in these now historic sessions including the brilliant, ill-fated drumming legend Jim Gordon as well as guitarist Al Casey, Larry Knechtel (bass) and Dr. John (a/k/a - Mac Rebennack on piano). www.BuddhaRecords.com 


 

 
  DION
King Of The New York Streets
(Right Stuff / EMI)

From his early days as a doo-wop singer back in the Bronx to his late Ď60s folk-gems like "Abraham, Martin & John" all the way to the latest revival of the classic Dion sound on the 2000 release of Deja Nu, Dionís 40+ year career reads like a virtual encyclopedia of rock and roll history. L.A.-based Right Stuff Records now compiles 65 classic Dion cuts for their King Of The New York Streets box set. Anyone doubting Dionís significant contributions to rock and roll should check out the box setís extensive 50 page CD book with itís ringing testimonials from legends like Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Waylon Jennings and Bruce Springsteen. Retracing Dion from his April Ď58 smash "I Wonder Why" to his 2000 hit "Shu-bop", King Of The New York Streets is divided into three separate CDs including: Disc 1 - The Wanderer, Disc 2 - Abraham, Martin & John and Disc 3 - Brooklyn Dodger. Included in the CD booklet are track by track notes from Dion, incredible graphics and photos and extensive liner notes by rock critic Dave Marsh. King Of The New York Streets will amaze newcomers while also giving long time Dion fans 65 more reasons to once again get down with some of the greatest rock and roll music ever recorded. www.right-stuff.com  / www.diondimucci.com 


 
  DONOVAN
A Gift From A Flower To A Garden
(Collectorís Choice)

Back in the Ď60s, The Beatles, Hendrix and Cream were all releasing double Lp sets so it came as no surprise when folk-rock and psych-pop great Donovan issued his now classic double Lp box set A Gift From A Flower To A Garden way back in late Ď68. Disc one featured Donovanís acclaimed Wear Your Love Like Heaven album while disc two featured the album For Little Ones. Essentially a folk album of light-hearted Donovan gems, For Little Ones clearly wasnít at odds with the more rocked-out and flower-power flavored Wear Your Love Like Heaven Lp, but (in retrospect) it clearly complimented it. Lavishly issued way back in the late Ď60s as a box set (yes, in a real box) filled with cosmic artwork and more, the album has now been reissued Stateside for the first time complete with original artwork and (a somewhat hard to read) lyric sheet. Regardless of what you thought of the original A Gift From A Flower To A Garden box set, itís still wonderful to hear all of the original 22 tracks together on one superb-sounding stereo CD. www.ccmusic.com 


 
  PETER FRAMPTON
Peter Frampton
(Epic / Sony Legacy)

Back in 1994, guitar hero Peter Frampton surprised fans with a trend-setting self-titled CD on the upstart NYC-based Relativity Records. One of Framptonís finest moments during the Ď90s, the CD, long out of print, is now rescued from the vaults as a new spruced-up enhanced reissue. Like theyíve done with so many other album classics from years passed, Sony Legacy tastefully reissues Peter Frampton with original artwork, lyrics, new liner notes from the guitar great and four bonus tracks taken from a rare live Japanese EP. Highlighted by some of Framptonís most mature sounding songs to date, including a pair of rocking instrumentals, the original 12 track album features Framptonís songwriting, vocals and guitar playing in fine form backed by a great band. Another album highlight was "Out Of The Blue" which featured Frampton reunited with his former Humble Pie band mate Steve Marriott. Itís been years since Relativity Records folded, but Peter Frampton, thankfully is back as a new 16 track CD upgrade on the Legacy roster of reissue classics. www.frampton.com 


 
  CHAD & JEREMY
Distant Shores
(Sundazed)

First issued way back in the Summer of Ď66 on Columbia Records, Distant Shores was Chad & Jeremyís third Lp for the label giant. 35 years later the album receives the Sundazed Records treatment. For collectors of vintage Ď60s pop from England that means the reissue of Distant Shores features no less than 12 bonus tracks, along with detailed track data, original artwork and a recent interview with both Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde. As is so aptly portrayed in the CD liner notes, Distant Shores signaled a change for C & J. Coming out of the heady, crazy British Invasion days, the album was enhanced by a more sophisticated and well produced pop sound. Heading into the early psychedelic years, Distant Shores was clearly influenced by Rubber Soul-era Beatles as well as the high harmonies and progressive folk-rock sounds of Simon & Garfunkel. Interestingly, thereís even an instrumental cover of The Shadowsí "Wonderful Land". A truly striking reminder of how compelling Ď60s pop and folk-rock really was, the Sundazed version of Distant Shores puts it all together with an excellent collection of lush and catchy pop filled with that authentic Chad & Jeremy sound. www.sundazed.com 


 
  AIMEE MANN
Ultimate Collection
(Hip-O)

Aimee Mannís recent career retrospective on Hip-O Records looks back on just about every stage of her impressive career. Capturing her early days with the Ď80s pop group Ďtil tuesday all the way to her mid Ď90s albums on Imago and Geffen Records, Mannís Ultimate Collection clearly portrays her as one of the most gifted songwriters and vocalists of the post-MTV pop music world. Mannís music was never about making musical compromises in order to garner fame and all the trappings that come with it. Instead, she has always recorded catchy and intelligent pop for her and her devoted fans. Thatís the spirit running through her new 20 track best-of on Hip-O. Coupled with Til Tuesday classics like "Voices Carry" and "Everythingís Different Now" (written by Jules Shear and Matthew Sweet) are some of Mannís best solo tracks including rare b-sides (a cover of Badfingerís "Baby Blue") and live tracks (the Aimee Mann/Elvis Costello classic "The Other End (Of The Telescope)". With in-depth liner notes and track info, Ultimate Collection puts Mannís ongoing career into a much needed and timely perspective. www.hip-o.com 


 
  DELAY TACTICS
Out-Pop Options
Any Questions?
(Multiphase)

Back during the heyday of the early Ď80s, guitarist Carl Weingarten started up the St. Louis-based progressive instrumental group called Delay Tactics. United with Walter Whitney (synths) and guitarists David Udell and Reed Nesbit, Weingarten and Delay Tactics received critical acclaim for their unique vision of avant-gard instrumental synth rock. Just released on CD for the first time, Out-Pop Options (1982) and Any Questions? (1984) merge a wealth of cosmic, ambient rock influences like Bill Nelson, Robert Fripp and Jerry Garcia. Imagine a cross between Philip Glass, King Crimson and T. Dream and you begin to get a detailed picture of the Delay Tactics sound. Carl Weingarten has gone on to a successful solo career, but nevertheless, that intrinsic spirit of progressive guitar-based instrumental rock is still alive and well on these newly reissued Delay Tactics studio albums. www.mphase.com/delaytactics.htm 


 
  LAIKA & THE COSMONAUTS
Absurdistan
(Yep Roc)

Finlandís instrumental retro-rockers Laika & The Cosmonauts actually recorded their most recent album Absurdistan a few years back. Itís taken a while but thankfully North Carolina-based Yep Roc have finally given the disc a new lease on life with an American reissue release complete with several unreleased tracks. Imagine a cross between Duane Eddy, The Shadows and Henry Mancini flavored with a potent dose of high-tech studio wizardry and some hip retro cool and you come close to describing the Laika sound. They wear their influences well and Aburdistan continues the Laika tradition of classic albums. Laika features the talents of (Finnish cosmonauts) Janne Haavisto (drums) and Matti Pitsinki (guitars) ably assisted by the multi-talented Tom Nyman and Mikko Lankinen. Early Laika albums like The Amazing Colossal Band and Instruments Of Terror were released during the mid Ď90s on the now sadly defunct Upstart Records and itís gratifying to see Yep Roc pick up the torch again. Sure itís hard to get exposure for any band from fabulous Finland, yet the instrumental music on Aburdistan breaks down language and musical borders with impressive ease. www.yeproc.com 


 
  VARIOUS ARTISTS
The Rough Guide To The Music Of Hawaii
(World Music Network)

The music of the Hawaiian Islands has always held a special place in the hearts of World Music fans and guitar lovers alike. In an effort to cover all the bases, The Rough Guide To The Music Of Hawaii features multi-generational music from a wealth of steel and slack key guitar artists including legends like Gabby Pahinui and Sol Hoopii - all the way to modern Hawaiian guitar greats like Bob Brotzman and Gabbyís son Cyril Pahinui. Instead of concentrating on just one genre of Hawaiian music, The Rough Guide To The Music Of Hawaii spans an abundance of Hawaiian musics - instrumental and traditional vocal music alike. The 20 track CD is packed with striking color photos and more information on Hawaiian music than is possible to absorb in one listen. New from the World Music Network, The Rough Guide To The Music Of Hawaii covers all the bases for the Hawaiian music completest while also serving as an excellent introduction to the ongoing Hawaiian music phenomenon. Check out the labelís fine web site to find about more about their extensive World Music series of enhanced CDs. www.worldmusic.net 


 
  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Mantra Mix
(Narada World)

Primarily known as a New Age and World Music label, Narada recently released an important rock-flavored double CD compilation honoring the Dalai Lama of Tibet. An air of Eastern intrigue fills the mood of the album which features classic Ď90s performances from top pop artists and groups like Peter Gabriel, R.E.M., Madonna, The London Suede, Kula Shaker and Travis to name a few of the classy pop sounds on disc 1. Disc two kicks off with "Tibetan Prayer" by the Dalai Lama while also featuring instrumental tracks from Philip Glass and flute legend Chris Hinze. Two hours of heavy, mind expanding pop and New Age music in support of a great cause and the oppressed Tibetan people, Mantra Mix features track info, pictures from Tibet and liner notes by the Dalai Lama and producer Jon Breukel. In his liner notes Breukel adds, "The songs on Mantra Mix are all Ďmantrasí in themselves, containing some positive elements which do justice to an album in honor of the Dalai Lama." The proceeds from the sales goes to aid the Tibetan communities in India, Nepal and Tibet. www.fpmt.org 


 
 

 

 
 
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