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September 2002





The Songs Of Ray Davies & The Kinks

Party At The Palace
(BBC / Opusarte)

On June 3rd, 2002 England had a party celebrating their royal family and especially Queen Elizabeth II—and what a party it was! The Queen’s concert as produced and broadcast 6/3/02 by the BBC was recently released on DVD worldwide with the USA release handled by Naxos Of America. Sort of a live best-of concert featuring some of rock’s biggest superstar acts, several highlights of the expertly filmed three hour rock show include Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton serving up a potent version of the George Harrison White Album classic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, Brian Wilson (and his fine band) with Clapton delivering The Beach Boys favorite “The Warmth Of The Sun”, Steve Winwood with his early Spencer Davis Group mid '60s smash “Gimme Some Lovin’”, Kinks mentor Ray Davies performing a rousing “Lola”, and Cliff Richard doing a pair of his late ‘50s hits “Move It” and “Living Doll”—all topped off by some fine drumming from Genesis thumper Phil Collins, who also revives his cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love”. Also on hand performing more big hits are Joe Cocker, Brian May, Ozzie Osbourne, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, Tony Bennett, Annie Lennox, Elton John, and the list goes on and on. A rousing show from start to the all star finale of “All You Need Is Love” and “Hey Jude”, Party At The Palace is family entertainment at it’s very best.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

The ghost of Jack Nitzsche is alive and well and living in the grooves of the new Wilco CD. Uniting the spirits of Neil Young’s Harvest album (as produced by Nitzsche and Frank Zappa) and newer group’s like Mercury Rev, Wilco makes far-out pop for experimentalists. Singer-guitarist Jeff Tweedy gets fine back-up and kindred assistance from his three bandmates while fellow windy city producer/guitarist Jim O’Rourke further seasons the mixture. There’s also a filmed documentary of the making of the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album entitled I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.

This Is Where I Belong

A number of today’s pop groups unite for This Is Where I Belong: The Songs Of Ray Davies & The Kinks. Even though Ray Davies composed these songs, it was the perfect rock beat of The Kinks—featuring the ace guitar work and backing vocals of Dave Davies—that first brought them to life. For decades these songs (and countless other Kinks classics) have been the holy grail for pop fans. Produced by Jim Pitt, the 12 track CD contains it’s share of inspiring covers with the high points being the fine lead off version of “Better Things” (from Give The People What They Want) by NYC-based Fountains Of Wayne, a spirited version of “Starstruck” (from Village Green Preservation Society) by folk-rocker (and obvious Kinks fan), Steve Forbert and a sizzling take of the all time ‘60s Kinks’ rocker “Till The End Of The Day” from ‘90s pop-rockers Fastball. Ray even makes a cameo, sharing the limelight with Damon Albarn, on the album closer, “Waterloo Sunset”, recorded live in London in March of ‘95. Complete with cool concept cover art and Ray’s liner notes, This Is Where I Belong is time well spent for Kinks fans.

The Day America Cried

Singer-songwriter Jim Peterik was on the scene when Brian Wilson returned in the late ‘90s, performing and helping write a track on Wilson’s classic CD Imagination. As a member of ‘60s rock legends The Ides Of March, Peterik is also a pop legend in his own right. The same rock-solid, hi-tech, glossy pop production and vibe that sparked Wilson’s Imagination CD is revived to an extent by Peterik on the 2001 record with his group World Stage entitled The Day America Cried - Songs Of Hope For A Unified Nation. Released as a benefit for the victims in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, the CD features Peterik on guitars, bass and vocals assisted by various singers such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Johnny Van Zant, Santana founder/vocalist Gregg Rolie and an array of other fine musicians. Skillfully produced and recorded and filled with truly emotional playing, the CD features fitting liner notes, tearjerker cover art and an accapella “Star Spangled Banner” that would make Brian Wilson smile. Peterik and company reunite live in Chicago for a 2002 concert CD on TMG entitled Rock America - Smash Hits Live, finding Peterik and World Stage reviving key hits from his former groups Ides Of March and Survivor. A number of vocalists appear and blues guitarist Buddy Guy guests on a rocking version of the Ides Of March ‘60s hit “Vehicle”. IOM also reunite here for a 2002 studio take of “Vehicle”. Another new CD of related interest is Ideology: Version II.o from Jim Peterik’s band The Ides Of March. Covering early group hits from 1966, their 70’s years and the band’s ‘92 and 2000 reunion, the retrospective would be of interest to fans of Chicago and is a good introduction to Peterik’s brass-driven rock visions. /

Fragile Sunrise
(New Surf North)

California-based pop artist Jeff Larson made quite a few people happy with his eclectic 2001 album Daytrips—an album recorded with guitar hero John Blakeley. Larson returns to his classic singer-songwriter leanings on his 2002 solo effort Fragile Sunrise, which was simultaneously released in America, Europe and Japan. Regarding his latest solo album Larson adds, "I think this third one is where it came together production wise and with the overall song set. The songs fit as a whole better." The ten track FS CD features a number of striking Larson originals along with his stunning cover of the song “Norman”—originally penned by Gerry Beckley from the group America. As the new album conveys, Larson is a masterful songwriter and he receives additional technical and studio support from guitarist / producer Hank Linderman. A fine guitarist and vocalist in his own right, Larson is in fine company with a number of supporting players including Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America, Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles and the multi-talented Jeff Foskett, guitarist in Brian Wilson’s current band. Adorned with tasteful cover art and complete lyric sheet, Fragile Sunrise offers a consummate pop music experience.


Bona Fide
(Dead Ringer)

One of the great ‘70s bands, Wishbone Ash are back with a fine new 2002 CD entitled Bona Fide. Certain to be a hit with longtime fans, the ten track album carries on the Wishbone rock legacy with the smoking guitar sound of original group founder Andy Powell. The classic dueling guitar sound of early Wishbone Ash continues with the addition of guitarist vocalist Ben Granfelt—who replaces original WA guitarist Ted Turner—and the tight rhythm section of Bob Skeat (bass) and Ray Weston (drums). With that fabled twin lead guitar sound in gear, the group brings a newly revitalized rock spirit to the table. Songs like the anthemic “Enigma”, the guitar heavy “Ancient Remedy” and the great guitar instrumental title track makes Bona Fide time well spent for the modern rock enthusiast. Also worth checking out is the 30th Anniversary reissue of the 1972 Wishbone Ash album Argus on MCA / Decca Records, which comes with an extensive CD booklet and three live bonus tracks.


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