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October 2001







Rare & Well Done
(Columbia / Legacy)

Listen to RealAudio sample: Went To See The Gypsy

When rock legend Al Kooper burst on the scene back in the mid ‘60s with The Blues Project he was just at the doorstep of his illustrious career as a musical pioneer, a&r guru, session man and band leader. Following his trend-setting work in Blues Project, Kooper went on to form Blood, Sweat & Tears, only to depart that band after their now-classic album debut. Kooper’s session work with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, The Who, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix is just another aspect in his litany of musical achievements, the better part of which is fondly remembered on his new double disc retrospective on Columbia / Legacy. While the first half of Rare & Well Done compiles 14 Kooper classics including "New York City (You’re A Woman) (1971), "I Stand Alone" (1968) and "You Never Know Who Your Friends Are" (1969), the second, Rare half brings to light 18 unreleased Kooper cuts. Highlights of the Rare CD include a new 2001 rendition of his B, S & T classic "I Can’t Quit Her", Al’s jazzy big band take of "Hey Jude" (from 1969) and Kooper’s own version of Bob Dylan’s "Went To See The Gypsy" (1970). With so much musical history to cover here, Kooper surmises, "It’s a good cross-section of music. There are things that are very pop, very R&B, some jazzy stuff, plus most of my other musical interests are in there as well. What this set does is fill in the missing musical links, from 1964-2001." History-filled photos, new notes by Al and Jann Uhelszki, new 24-bit remastering, plus written accolades from Brian Wilson, Tom Petty, Andy Partridge, Pete Townsend, Joe Walsh, Steve Winwood and many more adds further luster to a most amazing retrospective of a true hero of 20th Century music. /alkooper & 

All Saints

Rock legend David Bowie was always obsessed with strange sounds. Back in ‘69 Bowie masterminded the ultimate mellotron song in "Space Oddity" and who can forget his alien guitar work on 1974’s Diamond Dogs. Back in the late ‘70s, Bowie indulged his avant gard inclinations to the max on his albums Low and Heroes. Teamed with ambient electronic music master Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti, both albums featured a number of instrumental tracks that were clearly influenced by the German electronic art-rock groups Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Neu! as well as NYC minimalist master Philip Glass and e-music pioneer Wendy Carlos. These stark and sonically devastating tracks, music unlike anything Bowie had ever done before, were recently reassembled for the release of All Saints. In addition to music from both Low and Heroes, All Saints also revives like-minded, unreleased instrumental tracks (including the title track and the ambient masterpiece "Crystal Japan") and sundry instrumentals from Buddha Of Suburbia and more recently from 1999’s hours... In keeping with this look back at Bowie’s most avant-gard era, Virgin has also reissued the CD soundtrack for the German cult movie Christian F., a mixed bag of classic Bowie including "Station To Station" (the live Stage version) and "Heroes/Helden" (the German language version of Heroes). After once again hearing the majestic tracks on All Saints perhaps it’s fitting to ponder why Bowie stopped making instrumental music this challenging? Bowie’s return to the world of ambient instrumental rock music is long overdue. 

Heaven And Hull
The Mick Ronson Memorial Concert
(Pilot / NMC)

Dazzling guitar playing, string arrangements and backing vocals were among the attributes Mick Ronson brought to the albums David Bowie recorded between 1969-74. Ronson hooked up with Bowie following his huge hit "Space Oddity" and the rest is now music history. When Bowie split up the band after his ‘73 album Pinups, Ronno went on to a fairly successful career as a solo artist, later hooking up with Ian Hunter in Mott The Hoople. Before he passed away in London on April 29, 1993, Ronson recorded and released one final solo album entitled Heaven And Hull. Long out of print, Heaven And Hull was just reissued by Long Island-based Spitfire Records. What was to be Ronson’s big comeback album sadly turned out to be his final album. Maybe his best solo album ever, Ronson’s star-studded affair was an awesome parting shot. Among the artists appearing are David Bowie (on Dylan’s "Like A Rolling Stone" and "All The Young Dudes"), Ian Hunter, John Mellancamp, Chrissie Hynde and Queen guitarist Brian May. Newly written 2001 liner notes by Hunter sheds a little more light on the immense loss the music world suffered with Ronson’s tragic passing. 

London-based NMC Music have released several Mick Ronson retrospectives over the past few years with the most recent one being The Mick Ronson Memorial Concert. Ronson’s influence as a guitar great is remembered on NMC’s new triple CD set. A year to the day after his death, some of the greatest U.K. rockers turned out for star-studded tribute concert to pay respects to Ronson including Gary Brooker (with a fabulous solo version of "A Whither Shade Of Pale"), Ian Hunter (with keyboardist Morgan Fisher), Bill Wyman, Roger Daltrey (performing "Baba O’ Riley" b/w Simon Townshend), guitarist Bill Nelson, glam rocker Steve Harley and Ronno’s Spiders From Mars band mates from the Bowie years, Trevor Bolder (bass) and Woody Woodmansey (drums). An array of glam-rock classics from the past are revisited all in honor of one of the finest guitarists in rock and roll history. Disc three, a CD Rom, features a pair of live video clips including the concert closing "All The Young Dudes" featuring a cast of thousands. 

Of Rivers And Religion
After The Ball
(Collector’s Choice)

Back at the dawn of the ‘70s, Reprise Records had so many great artists on their label. Legends like The Beach Boys and Randy Newman, Jethro Tull and Captain Beefheart were all recording for Mo Ostin & company back at a time when commercialism in music ran a close second to artistic innovation. Among the lesser known one-time Reprise artists was the late, great acoustic guitar legend John Fahey. Fahey’s rootsy and rural approach to acoustic American music had fallen out with his long time label Vanguard Records and amazingly Reprise signed him long enough to record two albums. Both of Fahey’s Reprise releases, Of Rivers And Religion (1972) and After The Ball (1973) were recently reissued on Collector’s Choice Music. Seasoned by the sounds of clarinets, banjos, bass and trumpets, both of these album classics were stamped with the trademark Fahey style, a sound which merged acoustic American guitar music with a wealth of early jazz, New Orleans Dixieland music, Delta blues and Ragtime. Not surprisingly, Fahey was dropped by Reprise for not being commercial as some at the label might have hoped for, yet both albums remain a living testament to one of the true cult heroes of Americana roots music. Essential listening for guitar lovers and Fahey’s long time fans, both Collector’s Choice titles feature original album art and history-filled liner notes. 

Live At Leeds
Recorded at the zenith of the original group’s line-up, The Who’s all-time classic live album, Live At Leeds was recently reissued once again, this time as a double CD set on MCA Records. Now featuring all the original songs recorded on the February 14, 1970 date, Live At Leeds has now been expanded to feature a second CD comprised of The Who’s entire hour long version of their rock opera Tommy. This 2001 double disc Deluxe edition of Live At Leeds, newly remixed by Pete Townshend, mirrors the original Lp release by cloning the original album art but goes even further with an up-to-date 28 page booklet filled with photos and new liner notes. Calling Live At Leeds a major turning point in the history of rock music would be an understatement. Released around the same time as the Kent State killings, Live At Leeds was a milestone in the post-Beatles era of rock and roll and paved the way for The Who’s approaching conquest of America’s stadium rock circuit during the heyday of the 1970’s. 

Prompted by the album of the same name released by The Who in 1973, Quadrophenia, the movie, was released in 1979 to rave reviews. Directed by Franc Roddam, Quadrophenia was a blockbuster movie recalling the heady days of the Rockers and The Mods in London back in 1964. Of course, The Who were favorites with the Mods and the Quadrophenia film was a most apropos look back at those tumultuous times in swinging London. The film also introduced music audiences to Sting, who sealed his success as one of the main stars in the movie. Released on DVD by Rhino Home Video, this newly restored print of Quadrophenia now features the complete original movie supported by a director’s commentary track, photo gallery, original movie trailer, animated menus and slew of other DVD goodies. Shining a light on all those great Pete Townsend songs featured on the Quadrophenia Lp and soundtrack, Rhino’s new Quadrophenia DVD is a significant revelation for movie buffs and long time Who disciples. 

The Kink Kontroversy

Long available as import CDs from the U.K., the first three Kinks albums were finally reissued Stateside on the U.S. branch of Sanctuary Records. Just out are The Kinks (first released August 1964), Kinda Kinks (mid 1965) and The Kink Kontroversy (November ‘65). The group’s first two albums fittingly reflect the crazy early days of the ‘64 British Invasion (complete with hits like "You Really Got Me" (from Kinks) and "Tired Of Waiting For You" from Kinda), while the Kink Kontroversy album demonstrates the rising powers of a band maturing into one of the most significant and prolific rock groups of The 20th Century. It’s incredible to think that Kink Kontroversy (with all time Kinks classics like "Where Have All The Good Times Gone" and "Till The End Of The Day") was recorded only a year or so after "You Really Got Me". Kinks fans may already have the first CD reissues of these classic albums in their collections. But these superbly remastered Sanctuary upgrades, featuring all of the original U.K. album artwork, are topped off by several bonus tracks, track data and historic liner notes by Peter Doggett. 

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