Record Label
and Music Spotlight 









ALEXIS MARCEAUX MUSIC - Hailing from New Orleans, singer-songwriter Alexis Marceaux bounced back in 2011 with her 8 song CD Orange Moon. Marked by a bouncy rock beat, Alexis is all over the pop map, yet suffice to say this CD rocks. Sometimes a touring musician and vocalist with American pop icon Susan Cowsill, Alexis gets great backing from her musical backing players as well as producer Sam Craft. Ms. Marceaux’s voice is being described as richly expressive and classically trained and her songs really rise up to the occasion. Orange is a solid and convincing eight song CD that holds up well with repeat listening.

BLUE HORIZON - Back in the 1960’s the Blue Horizon label was responsible for releasing some of the great blues-rock albums by the original Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack too for that matter. Now lo and behold in 2012, Blue Horizon has a new studio album of modern day blues classics from rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Dion. Entitled Tank Full Of Blues, the Blue Horizon release features a number of Dion DiMucci originals as well as Dion’s select covers from blues giants Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. Although he’s best known for his early rock ‘n’ roll hits like “Runaround Sue”, “The Wanderer” and “Ruby Baby”, Dion has always been a staunch supporter of the blues. Further commenting, Dion adds, ‘The blues is the naked cry of the human heart longing to be whole or at peace with one’s self.’ On Tank Full Of Blues, Dion gets solid backing from his band and, while musically different from his pop-based original oldies sound, the 11 cut Tank Full Of Blues proves that Dion still has a lot of music inside of him. Dion adds, ‘It’s the work I consider the crown of my career. It’s work that I couldn’t keep inside. It’s work that was burning in me till I got it out.’ On Tank Full Of Blues Dion sounds fully energized and rocking. One can hardly wait to see and hear Dion’s next musical move.

- Best known as a major jazz label back in the 1950's and '60s, Blue Note branched out with international pop a decade ago, and they have a fine new 2011 CD from Israeli - Dutch singer-songwriter Keren Ann. The 9 track 101 is an ambient, synth jazz excursion into blue note pop. The single hit of the the CD “Sugar Mama” is ABBA-esque, ‘70s style disco. On other tracks she sounds like Norah Jones singing with Nico-era Velvet Underground. With Bowie-esque set changes, Keren Ann’s 101 tracks have a slightly surreal edge that sometimes evoke Bowie during the fleeting mid ‘70s era. The percussion creates a remote edge while the synth work has a dreamy Pink Floyd effect in places.

COOKITUP MUSIC - The blues just keeps on cookin’ onwards on the self-titled 2011 CD from Tennessee-based blues rock guitarist / singer-songwriter Shawn Starski. Having written and recorded with Jason Ricci And New Blood, on his 2011 CD Starski teams with a tight band and the results are a solid and convincing set of blues-rock vocal and instrumental originals. A pair of Starski originals, track 4, called “For Us” and track 9, the jazzy fusion-y “Hallow’s Eve” are each solid instrumentals in the spirit of blues guitar giants like Steve Miller (as well as Miller band guitarist Kenny Lee Lewis) and jazz guitar hero George Benson respectively. Fans of blues rock guitar hero Joe Bonamassa are also strongly advised to hunt down Starski’s self-titled CD.

- A musician who has never been afraid of pursuing wide screen musical vistas, Steve Hackett returned in 2011 with a double CD set of all new material entitled Beyond The Shrouded Horizon. Released on long time progressive label legend Inside Out, the material touches on everything great that Hackett brings to the rock and classical music world. Combining the 13 tracks on disc 1 with the 9 additional tracks on disc two and it quickly becomes apparent that this is Hackett’s ultimate double album masterpiece. Steve’s band throughout reads like a list of first call musicians including contributions from YES bass great Chris Squire, Roger King (keyboards) both Simon Phillips and Gary O’Toole (drums). Highlighting one of Hackett’s great vocal arrangements and melodic productions, “Between The Sunset And The Coconut Palms” is among the most lushly tropical songs Hackett has ever penned while the four part “Four Winds” instrumental suite tastefully combines progressive rock, spacey jazz and classical guitar within the same space. Interesting to note that on “Four Winds” Hackett cites inspiration from Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green while another track—on the excellent disc 2 of special extra material—”Eruption: Tommy” cites the Moving Waves album by Dutch prog-rockers Focus as well as a track originally written and played by another Dutch prog band from the mid ‘70s called Solution. On Beyond The Shrouded Horizon, Steve Hackett’s eclectic musical nature is only surpassed by his refined musical taste and fretboard finesse.

JORDAN CARP MUSIC- Described by the artist as “a comedy of our miscommunications”, Slam Pig is a fine return to form from pop pundit Jordan Carp. Carp describes his muse as being influenced by heritage artists like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel and, while that might be true, for the modern pop music disciple there’s certainly enough in the way of originality to make Carp and this album in particular worthy of more than one or two spins. Best described as power pop for the new millennium, Slam Pig is impeccably performed by Carp and his cohort Josh Fix. The Slam Pig eye candy cover art is also worthy of taking a second look at.

- New on the Raging Krill label is Treehouse, the sixth album from guitar virtuoso Ned Evett. Best known for his avant gard fretless glass guitar playing, Ned puts on his singer-songwriter hat and teams with American progressive guitar hero Adrian Belew, who produced the 14 cut Treehouse CD. Interestingly, Belew’s sound imprint is all over Treehouse, which sounds inspired by Belew’s solo work and his work in King Crimson. In addition to producer Belew, Evett gets amazing support from his band here, including son of Jack Bruce, Malcolm Bruce (bass, string arrangements), Lynn Williams (drums) and Ed Roth (organ). In addition to producing the album, Belew kicks in some piano and guitar here and there, but the dark-side-of-the-pop Americana sound of Treehouse speaks for itself and is really amazing to behold. Perhaps Ned sums it up best adding, ‘Because I play a freaky guitar, people sometimes brand me as just a guitar player. I mean, I've certainly created that impression myself. But this is it for me. I had to write these songs.’

- Based out in N.J,, the Rock Ridge label are doing great things for pop with the 2012 CD release of Grand Hotel by The Explorers Club. It’s a pretty bold move copping a name like Grand Hotel, considering the 1973 release of Grand Hotel from Procol Harum but hey, I’m aging myself! Unlike the neoclassical prog-rock sound of Procol Harum, The Explorers Club are much more concerned about the music in L.A. circa 1966-1971. In other words, this Grand Hotel ain’t prog-rock but instead a near carbon copy of the amazing vibe of Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson or even The Association back in their late ‘60s heyday. One part Pet Sounds, one part “Along Comes Mary” and Explorer's Club come up with something retro but modern at the same time. Check out the natural sunshine pop of “I’ve Been Waiting”. Perhaps the most amazing this here is that The Explorers Club—featuring the voice and vision of Jason Brewer—are actually from South Carolina! Who’d have thunk it? Anyway, backed up by some fine players—and further assisted by the talents of Brian Wilson studio ace Mark Linett—Brewer really sounds at home on this sunny, SoCal kind of late ‘60s vibe of pop goodness. Just soak in that soulful, old man sunshine.

- She’s being compared to rock icons like Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and New Age experimentalist Steve Roach, and on the 2011 Janet Robbins album you can hear why. The CD, Song Of The Gypsy Tree sounds sometimes like a tribal version of King Crimson, however instead of searing sonic guitars, you hear keyboards and rhythmic, synthesized beats mixed with Janet’s breathy vocals. Amazingly full bodied and multi-tracked, all the sounds are performed by Ms. Robbins. There’s some pretty piano based sounds that sound like they’d work on an ambient Eno production. The music is beaty, trip-hop New Age vocal with Kate Bush type overtones and the cover art is really spectacular, reprinting Janet’s lyrics amid swirls of breathtaking colors.

STREET ARTIST MANAGEMENT - Australia and the entire New Zealand region has such a rich heritage of sonically appealing pop that it staggers the mind. One new artist from Australia worth a listen among pop fans is singer-songwriter Courtney Murphy, who released his debut CD, entitled Big. Four years in the making, the 2011 release of Big features a number of key influences, especially early ‘80s ELO and of course the biggest of the greatest of all the Aussie / New Zealand rock-pop bands, Split Enz. A whole lotta of musicians back up Murphy’s songs and singing and the results are truly something to behold. Extra mention should go to the truly imaginative CD cover art and overall packaging. Pop fans who miss late period ELO after all these years, and still long for the one, two punch of Split Enz during their late ‘70s / early ‘80s heyday, owe it to themselves to give Courtney Murphy’s Big a good listen.

- Finland has always been a major sonic destination for fans of both jazz and rock music and The Von Hertzen Brothers Band keeps the legacy of great Finnish pop music strong on their 2011 CD Stars Aligned. Someone suggested that the brothers sounded like a cross between the harmonies of The Beach Boys and the spatial aggression of Pink Floyd, albeit for 21st century ears. With the three Von Hertzen brothers, Kie, Mikko and Jonne getting solid backing, the sound of Stars Aligned is a quite eclectic and colorful pop / rock mix. Even though these guys are pop to the bone, there’s also an experimental edge, in places not unlike Pink Floyd’s work with Ron Geesin. With both bands sometimes sounding as if they’d been drinking from the same source of musical inspiration, it would be totally amazing to see a show with Finland’s Von Hertzen’s plus Sweden’s Moon Safari. The Von Hertzen Brothers are well worth the time for modern rock fans and prog-rock fans looking for something wild and intriguing.


ARCTIC NOIR - Influenced by Fellini films, The Doors, guitarists like Hank Marvin, John Blakeley and Duane Eddy, Finnish surf-rock instrumentalists The Spytones strike a blow for guitar-noir with their 2011 CD Dead Note Theory. After the upsurge of interest in ‘60s instrumentals in the first post-Beatles year of 1981, countless great Finnish and Scandinavian acts began to call the genre home again, and. In later years, coupled with the resurgence of instrumentals in exotica and lounge music in the 1990’s, surf-flecked instros have been going gangbusters ever since. A quartet of surf-rock specialists including guitarists Jaakko Rossi, The Spytones follow suit yet bring something uniquely Finnish to the table. A rockin’ quartet featuring guitarists Janne Tokko and Jaakko Rossi, bassist Heikki Eloranta and drummer Juha Pyötsiä, The Spytones follow through on a silver disc CD of 15 tracks including impressive originals and covers from the pens of John Barry and Henry Mancini.

CDL RECORDS - Over in the U.K. The Evening Shadows keep the spirit of the ‘60s burning brightly on their 2011 CD entitled 60-63. What they’re referring to are the magical musical years of 1960-1963, when every great thing that was possible in the music world did in fact happen. Before world wide Beatlemania ensued late in 1963, The Shadows were the key band in the U.K. With their sophisticated blend of pop instrumentals, The Shadows sort of stepped aside (as did every other band worldwide) when the Beatles truly arrived on the international stage yet the songs The Shadows wrote and recorded during that magical pre-Beatlemania era still sound great. On 60-63, The Evening Shadows offer a short but sweet set of a dozen Shadows classics. Starting off the Shadows’ signature song “Apache”, The Evening Shadows cover a number of classics, including a dozen songs Shadows fans have known inside out for the past 50 years. What they lack in originality is made up for in a devoted and fresh approach to recapturing the greatest era of guitar instrumentals. Armed with his ‘Fiesta Red” Fender Strat, played through his VoxAC30, guitarist Chas de Lacy gets solid support from his fellow band members—including Alan Peacock (bass), Tony Grubb (rhythm guitar) and Peter Precious (drums and percussion). Close your eyes and it’s 1961 all over again!

CDM RECORDINGS - Mixing ambient jazz, with World Beat styles including tango, bossa nova and samba, New World Beat catch a fire on the 2012 CD release of After Carnival. Produced, edited, mixed, arranged and composed by Richard Sprince, the CD features Sprince on vibraphones, backed up by a number of musicians, drummers and percussionists. All told, the CD evokes a kind of orchestral jazz effect in the spirit of greats like Gary Burton meets Milton Nascimiento, for an all instrumental, Jobim-esque set of Brazilian magic. A couple tracks feature some fine guitar work from Tom Lippincott and Gary Damanti. Global instrumental jazz rarely gets better than New World Beat.

- One of America’s great surf-rock guitar heroes, John Blair is feted on the 2011 CD reissue of the 1980 debut album, Surf Beat ‘80 from John & The Nightriders. Blair has released a number of albums over the years but this first-ever CD reissue of the debut John & The Nightriders album is an essential spin for surf-rock instrumental fans world wide. Penning liner notes for the original album was none other than guitar pioneer Dick Dale. Blair’s California style surf-rock guitar instrumentals, nowas then, are reminiscent of Dick Dale. Interestingly, the idea for the album came from legendary record company owner Greg Shaw. Blair gets solid support from his Nightriders band and in his additional liner notes, Blair delves into some vital history and is right in reassessing that back in the 1979-80 era, Blair’s devotion to recreating the magic of the early ‘60s surf-rock sound made him ahead of his time. In addition to the original 14 track album, the CD rounds it out to 20 with the addition of six additional bonus tracks, including several Ventures covers.

EMARCY RECORDS - Two giants of the American jazz world get together, and the end result is an album of sublime magic music. We’re talking about jazz piano genius Hank Jones and jazz bass ace Charlie Haden and their 2011 CD release Come Sunday, released by NYC based jazz label Emarcy. An instrumental duet album pairing Jones on grand piano with Haden’s acoustic bass, Come Sunday was recorded in early 2010. In a twist of fate, Jones died three months later, at age 91. Haden is no kid either, having turned 74 in August 2011. Fittingly, Come Sunday works as an album of old time gospel music spirituals, performed in an acoustic jazz setting. Songs in this genre have been done this way before by numerous artists—not forgetting that Jones and Haden recorded another album of traditional spirituals and folk songs called Steal Away, in 1995. Even so, there’s something quite peaceful and meditative about these songs played by these two jazz mavens. With acoustic jazzy instrumentals like “Take My Hand Precious Lord”, “Nearer My God To Thee” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” played with keen insight in this acoustic jazz setting, you can’t help get the feeling that God was actually cueing up this CD just as Hank was ascending to that great jazz gig in the sky. The CD booklet is packed with extensive liner notes about this music and this album by Maurice Jackson, with fitting closing notes by Charlie Haden—shining further light on just what makes Come Sunday such a transcendental, blissful listening experience.

EMARCY RECORDS - The follow up to his 2009 gospel flavored Peity Street, the 2012 CD release of A Moment’s Peace finds instrumental jazz guitar legend John Scofield in a most mellow mood. Backed up by some jazz legends, including Larry Goldings (keyboards), Scott Colley (bass) and Brian Blade (drums), Scofield is quite mellow on his latest instrumental jazz opus yet as he describes, ‘It’s an album of slow, gentle music, but at the same time, we didn’t want it to be easy listening.’ Perhaps the giveaway here is a sublime, instrumental, jazzy cover of the Beatles’ white album classic “I Will”, rendered here with a misty-eyed sentimentality that works so well in a jazz setting. Rounding out the Scofield originals, in addition to the Beatles track, are other jazzy, late night feeling tracks penned by Carla Bley, Don Redman, Billy Eckstine and the Gershwin brothers. Recording in NYC, the CD also benefits from the work of top notch mastering engineer Greg Calbi. Essential for Scofield fans, A Moment’s Peace is also a great introduction to Scofield’s masterful, jazzy guitar sound. /

HEADSCOPE - Back when Pink Floyd released Ummagumma in the fall of 1969, no one would have predicted that their 1970 album would feature a significant contribution from composer Ron Geesin. That wild sense of progressive rock orchestrations Geesin brought to Pink Floyd on the side long Atom Heart Mother title track remains a hallmark of Geesin’s sound and he brings his amazing music into the 21st century with his 2011 CD, Roncycle 1: Journey Of A Melody, released on his Headscope label. Somewhat of a mad sonic scientist—sort of the rock version of Edgard Varese—Geesin is really in his element on his big comeback album. Iironically Journey Of A Melody was released the same time, the same year as the CD remastering of the entire Pink Floyd back catalog, including Atomic Heart Mother. Thanks to Geesin’s sonic vision, AHM remains the Pink's most unique album. Very much in the progressive spirit of Atom Heart Mother, minus the rock etchings, Journey Of A Melody is Geesin’s penultimate masterpiece.

LONE RIDER RECORDS - Guitarist Peter Williams keeps the spirit of classic rock instrumental music alive with a new for 2011 CD compilation tribute to Elvis Presley entitled Remembering Elvis Presley - A Guitar Instrumental Tribute By Peter Williams. In the past, Williams has done some very cool guitar tribute CDs in the spirit of guitar hero Hank Marvin, yet he manages to put his own stamp on his releases. Williams had an Elvis tribute album out before, yet Remembering really adds to the festivities, rounding out the CD to 26 guitar instrumentals of songs Elvis made famous back in the 1950’s and ‘60s. The CD features liner notes by James F. Cullinan. Williams also has a history of recording instrumental rock tributes to other artists including The Shadows and, then he had a guitar instrumental tribute to U.K. pop singer John Leyton and, also in 2011 Williams recorded a new guitar instrumental tribute to U.K. pop star Billy Fury called Remembering Billy Fury. So much of that U.K. pop sound was similar in scope during the late 1950’s early ‘60s and Williams does a great job turning Fury’s mini pop opuses into dramatic instrumental guitar overtures. Williams' Fury tribute features 32 tracks, clocking in at just under 80 minutes. In depth liner notes by Williams and Chris Eley sheds light on Fury and his musical significance. Williams and his deft guitar touch makes each of these instrumental guitar tributes to American and English pop stars a most enjoyable guitar experience.

NEW WORLD MUSIC - New Age music has always been associated with all things spacy and cosmic. Also referred to as musical therapy, the mostly instrumental genre has spawned an unbelievably wide range of music—from sedate instrumental space music to full blown orchestral prog-rock. Most New Age fans know the name Jonn Serrie—writer and performer of some of the most sublime cosmic space music ever recorded. As far as that genre goes, it doesn’t get much better than Serrie’s latest CD, actually released in 2009, called Thousand Star. Released on the U.K. based New World Music, Thousand Star is Serrie at his finest. Of course with his background in aviation with his keen interest in the U.S. space program, Serrie’s extraterrestrial musical tendencies come into play big time on Thousand Star. Commenting on his musical mission as a New Age music icon, Serrie adds, ‘My music exists to help us explore a sense of ourselves and our place in the universe.’ Having already released albums with titles such as Planetary Chronicles and The Stargazer’s Journey, Jonn Serrie keeps his legacy alive and well with the ultra-spacy and sublimely meditative cosmic sounds on Thousand Star.

LEGACY SOUNDS - Over in England, guitarist Tony Hoffman keeps the transatlantic surf-rock sound sound alive and well with the 2012 CD release of Under The Influence by The Tone Raiders. On the 16 track Under The Influence CD Hoffman plays some excellent lead guitar in the spirit of The Shadows. Shadows guitar hero, Hank Marvin also writes some timely liner notes that were penned for the CD in December 2011. Supporting Hoffman’s skillful guitar work is a revolving cast of Tone Raiders including bona fide instro icons like Alan Jones of the later period Shadows lineup and Bill Bonney of The Fentones, who both add bass, as well as drummer Martin Verrill and many others. In addition to the appealing Hoffman originals are some lesser covered instrumentals including a cover of “Daydream” (the Lovin’ Spoonful hit), and a pair of Beatles related tracks done by The Tone Raiders as instrumentals—”Mr. Moonlight” and the Rubber Soul evergreen “In My Life”. The CD is attractively packaged, including a 12 page booklet with a foreword by Hank Marvin plus in depth liner notes by Hoffman, who goes on at length about his fondness for guitar instrumental classics from icons like The Shadows, Duane Eddy, Jet Harris & Tony Meehan, The Fentones, The Outlaws and The Ventures. The Tone Raiders CD is a must hear CD for fans of classic ‘60s guitar instrumental sounds.

MOSHULKA PRODUCTIONS - The greatest rock guitarists have an ongoing love affair with the classical guitar—also known as the nylon string, gut string and Spanish guitar. Guitar masters from history—Sor, Giuliani, Segovia, Villa Lobos and others—left their mark on today's musical icons, perhaps none more so than guitarist Paul Galbraith, who makes a unique statement of his own with his solo guitar CD Paul Galbraith Performs Mozart, Bach & Britten. Although released back in 2010, the 21 track CD is quite unique in that in addition to the CD, there’s also a DVD video version of the album, mirroring and featuring the same musical fare as the CD. Galbraith’s musical uniqueness is enhanced by his mastery of the rarely seen or heard 8 string classical guitar—a guitar which is supported by a metal end pin, making it similar in style to the way a cello is played. Galbraith’s CD and DVD has a great sound and, in fact, was expertly recorded in L.A. at the famous Studio “A” at Capitol Records and was engineered by sound man Al Schmidt. It must have worked because the CD sounds fabulous and has a unique presence that makes it well worth the time to play and play again. Paul Galbraith Performs Mozart, Bach & Britten offers substantial proof that the music of the masters played on solo classical guitar is forever timeless and still has the power to make musical inroads in the 21st century.

PALMETTO RECORDS - Best known for their extensive jazz catalog, Palmetto breaks new ground distributing the 2011 CD from South Carolina based Watson’s Riddle. A solid studio set of new music featuring like-minded superstar players—including guitar ace Steve Watson, Marshall Tucker drummer Paul T. Riddle, bass player Tim Lawter and keyboard session legend Chuck Leavell—the Watson’s Riddle sound is completely modern American instrumental fusion. With all songs written by guitarist Watson, the sound is full bodied and tastefully echoes both the fusion instrumental and smooth jazz genres. Paul Riddle describes the sound as being “melodic freak”, while there’s truly something positive to be said about this CD that so expertly combines all manners of instrumental jazz, R&B and pop. A legend of the Allman Brothers, the Stones and Sea Level, Chuck Leavell’s piano and keyboard work truly enhances the Watson’s Riddle album which, overall should hold immense sonic appeal among fans of guitar aces such as Pat Metheny, Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton.

- Few gutiarists can entertain with just a solo electric guitar. There are various New Age disciples, then of course there's jazz purists, avant garde players and then there’s Ross Hammond, who returns with sonic vengeance on his 2011 CD release of Ambience, Antiquite And Other Love Songs. Sonic instrumental guitar extrapolations that owes more to Daniel Lanois than say David Gilmour or Hendrix per se, Ross Hammond's superbly recorded and expertly mastered CD hangs together with a unique kind of free falling fretboard tenacity. Acknowledging the efficacy of a variety of music pioneered back in the ‘70s by prog guitarists—from Howe to Hackett and Gilmour, from Frith to Fripp to Rother—it’s all in play in Ross Hammond’s spatial guitar universe. That Rother opposed to Fripp side of Hammond’s guitar style is quite entertaining—especially on the first half of the CD, featuring a spatial jangle of abstract and reverbed instrumental guitar—but as the CD progresses it gets heavily involved in the more Fripp-ian side of the musical coin and so it goes. With the CD release of Ambience, Antiquite And Other Love Songs, the two or more sides of Ross Hammond reveals the inner mechanisms of a veritable guitar universe.

- Back in 2008, mwe3 featured the CD Live by L.A. based guitarist Brian Hughes and as a follow up, Brian's 2011 album Fast Train To A Quiet Place is another fine album. Backed up by some top players, including drummer Tal Bergman, Fast Train is a quick getaway to a lush and languid guitar land where smooth jazz joins forces with bop level guitar skills. There’s plenty of Metheny-esque, instro jazz-rock guitar soundscapes in play on Brian’s ten track Fast Train CD for guitar fans and smooth jazz fans to savor.

/ INTROSPECTION - Back in the 1960s, Swedish keyboard genius Bo Hansson revolutionized the Swedish instrumental rock scene. Recording together with amazing musicians such as guitarist Kenny Håkansson, Bo Hansson single-handedly invented the entire European New Age rock sound. Before his 1969 classic Lord Of The Rings, Bo was involved in the organ / drum duo Hansson & Karlsson. The pair influenced rock guitar great Jimi Hendrix so much that Jimi performed H&K’s classic “Tax Free” a number of times. With so much music history behind them, another pair of Swedish musicians that call themselves Trummor & Orgel have released a 2011 CD that borrows from the swinging psychedelia of Hansson & Karlsson and deftly brings that late ‘60s sound into the future. The group features siblings Staffan Ljunggren (drums) and Anders Ljunggren (organ) and their Out Of Bounds CD is a must for those who thrilled to the early, swirling organ-based instrumental sounds of Bo Hansson and the spirits of the still highly influential, primal instrumental psychedelia that evolved out of that era.

TRS RECORDS - Sounding like they’ve been watching way too many old spaghetti westerns, The Reverb Syndicate serves up some mighty fine instro-rock sounds on their third album, the retro fun room sound of Mondo Cacti. The third album from these Canadians, Mondo Cacti is filled with uptempo guitar rave-ups that evoke images of The Ventures and Shadows and the wild west sights and sounds of the late ‘50s instro guitar craze that came out of California. There’s some quite solid Dick Dale style guitar ravings from axe-wielder Victor Tremelo, who here gets solid support from his RS band mates.

URKO RECORDS - Much more than about just trying to return zombies from the dead, the new CD from The Coffin Daggers is like surf-rock for the sci-fi generation. Infatuations with 1960s, b&w sci-fi and horror movies aside, The Coffin Daggers make some truly swinging, swaggering ‘60s style surf-rock instrumentals on the 2011 CD release of Monsters From The ID. Recorded in NYC, the 14 track CD features excellent cover art that mirrors the overall performance of the band. Featuring Viktor Venom (guitar), Eudocia Rodzinak (keyboards), Peter Klarnet (bass) and David Varriale (drums), the sound of the CD is first rate. Sounding like The Ventures playing the best of Vic Mizzy (the late great genius who wrote the Adams Family theme), Monsters From The ID is a supernatural surf-rock experience.


BGO RECORDS - Over in the U.K. BGO continues onward into 2012 and their late 2011 CD reissues included a pair of double CD sets from English instrumental rockers Tangent. The group was based around three brothers—Derek Jefferies (lead guitar), Mervyn Jefferies (bass) and Bill Jefferies (drums). The Tangent was solidly in the realm of Hank Marvin and The Shadows and between 1987 to 1994, they released a batch of fine instrumental rock albums. The Tangent was able to bond with original Shadows bass ace Jet Harris and, fittingly, Jet is featured here on key Tangent tracks. Also on hand here is later period Shadows bassist Alan Jones. BGO has done a great job reissuing four albums from Tangent on two double CD sets. The pair of double CD sets includes Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt / Chasing Shadows Live while the other double CD set on BGO pairs the 20 track Shadow Magic - The Very Best Of Tangent with Jet Harris & Tangent - Twelve Great Guitar Gems. Both of these double CD sets offers a cool glimpse into the long-standing U.K. based Shadows-related guitar world and both double CD sets feature extensive liner notes by Rob Bradford. Very late ‘80s and early ‘90s sounding in places, while for guitar fans and especially Shadows fans, both double sets are highly enjoyable just the same. Another cool reissue on BGO at the end of 2011 is a splendid two on one CD reissue by Soft Machine founder Kevin Ayers, pairing the nine track Rainbow Takeaway (1978) with That’s What You Get Babe (1980). The 19 track CD features Ayers recording his usual eclectic pop fare in the company of session greats including the late great Ollie Halsall (electric, slide and lead guitars), Mo Foster (bass) and many others greats including Anthony Moore, who produced Rainbow Takeaway. August 2011 liner notes by David Wells provides an excellent, concise history behind Ayers and these albums. BGO has a number of CD reissues from rock icons Dr. Hook and in 2011 they released a 19 track two on one CD pairing Makin’ Love And Music (1977) with Live In the U.K. (1981). First released on Capitol records, Live In The U.K. finds the group serving up live tracks of their big hits including “Sylvia’s Mother” and “Cover Of The Rolling Stone”. Also out on BGO in 2011 is a double CD set of The Doobie Brothers pairing Cycles (1989) with Brotherhood (1991), while also on BGO is a 2011 remaster of the 1987 album from John Waite entitled Rover’s Return. BGO continues to amaze with these CD titles that will keep listeners tuned in for future planned CD reissue classics from BGO.

/ EMI - Edgard Varèse once said that ‘an artist is never ahead of his time but most people are far behind theirs.’ 40 years ago, in early 1972 the same thing was kind of true for Pink Floyd. Reflecting back on their famous Summer of Love smash “See Emily Play”, Pink Floyd's debut—although never released on a planned Pink Floyd studio album—has remained in some ways, their signature song. That song, with its groundbreaking production from Norman “Hurricane” Smith, kept the name Pink Floyd near the front in the racks during the heady late ‘60s Beatles / post-Syd era, at least up until the 1973 Lp release of Dark Side Of The Moon. Backtracking, “See Emily Play” almost made Pink Floyd a one hit wonder, at least in the late 1960s. After the histrionic withdrawal of front man Syd Barrett from the music world, Pink Floyd remained on the periphery of the pop world, never really gaining another top 40 hit. Despite critical acclaim as a cult band, they continued onwards in the years following the Syd era. Then something amazing happened with the 1969 album release Ummagumma—a groundbreaking, four sided double Lp masterpiece. Produced by Norman Smith, that album firmly established Pink Floyd as the new kings of progressive rock (albeit completely avant gard in practice). This made Pink Floyd seem even more incredible in the mind’s eye of the teenyboppers who were still wondering what happened to Syd? Even with Syd apparently vanquished and banished from Pink Floyd, from Ummagumma onwards Pink Floyd couldn’t do any wrong, even in the heads of those teenyboppers, who just a couple short years back were grooving to the irrepressible pop aura of “See Emily Play”. Every thing that happened before changed again with the massive success of Dark Side Of The Moon—the controversial album that (at the time) not only fractured and split Pink Floyd’s fan base but, in fact it altered the entire post-Beatles rock world. Of course, in early 1973, the entire music world was rapidly evolving and, going on to sell a hundred million Lp’s, cassettes, 8 tracks and, from 1986 onwards on CD and DVDs and now downloads, Dark Side at 40 still has a life of it’s own. Now in the early days of 2012, it seems good time to reevaluate Pink Floyd’s vast and often underrated catalog. This is a band that hasn’t really done anything new since The Wall hit in 1980, yet they continue to sell in the millions. With Capitol / EMI overhauling and reintroducing the band’s vast catalog in late 2011, highlighting everything Pink Floyd under one roof from A-Z, that number is bound to change again. Laying aside all the rifts and then grief over the deaths of both Syd in July of 2006 and the late great Pink Floyd keyboard genius Rick Wright, in September 2008, it’s safe to say with these 2011 remasters from Capitol / EMI, now is an opportune time to listen to Pink Floyd again. Each of these 14, 2011 historic Pink Floyd remasters features perfect sonics as remastered by sound experts Robin Guthrie and Joel Plante. All these reissued Pink Floyd studio albums are here individually, including separate Immersion and Experience version multi-disc sets for Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall as well as a 14 CD box set collection containing all the Pink Floyd albums called Discovery. For the curious, there’s also a new single CD best of called A Foot In The Door - The Best Of Pink Floyd that barely scratches the surface, and even slightly plays down the legacy of one of rock music’s perennial best selling bands.

- The tragedy and devastation of 9/11 yielded to a veritable outpouring of rock bands and musicians that culminated in the now historic October 20, 2001 Concert For New York. No, George Bush and his sons didn’t attend but instead the concert featured legends from The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who and David Bowie and a whole lot more. Spearheading the event was none other than Beatles icon Paul McCartney, who was actually sitting on an airplane, on the tarmac at JFK when the FAA grounded all planes that fateful day. In retrospect, this harrowing turn of events that resulted in the CFNY really became Macca’s Tragical Misery Tour. Capturing all the events of this opportune madness was famous film maker Albert Maysles, who followed Paul everywhere as he became the Beatles sent messenger of peace and thoughtfulness. The movie of McCartney’s involvement in the CFNY is captured for posterity on the 2011 Eagle Rock DVD called The Love We Make. The DVD features all the rockers on hand performing and even schmoozing with the irrepressible Paul—Paul and his then band, David Bowie, Pete Townshend, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton—along with a slew of culpable politicians (isn’t that presiding 9/11 governor George Pataki in there blabbering away with Paul?). Also there were famous New York City personalities like Howard Stern—who were all no doubt suffering from the same shock and awe as the New Yorkers who were seemingly ready, but in reality completely unprepared to cross the bridge into the massive suffering that has plagued America since that fateful September 2001 day. With John Lennon 20 years gone and with George Harrison having less than two months to live, (George in fact passed a month after the CFNY) as this concert film event points out, Paul McCartney became the man of the hour and in fact, the man of the decade. Macca fans, miss The Love We Make at your own risk. Fans of Eagle’s near impeccable record as the progenitors of the 21st century DVD business should turn and eye (and an ear) to their 2011 DVD release of Mr. Mojo Risin’: the Making Of L.A. Woman. Of course, L.A. Woman was to be the last album The Doors would make with lead singer and musical visionary Jim Morrison, who died in Paris on July 3rd, 1971. The latest edition in Eagle’s ongoing classic album documentary series, Mr. Mojo Risin’ features a barrage of new interviews with the key players involved in making the original 1971 album—including Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger, band mates Ray Manzarek and John Densmore—as well as other Doors insiders like Bruce Botnick, Bill Siddons and more. The 103 minute rockumentary also includes 35 minutes of additional footage not seen on TV along with a video of a previously unreleased Doors track called “She Smells So Sweet”. Another Eagle DVD sure to make waves with rock fans is The Rolling Stones - Live In Texas 1978. Recorded live on July 18, 1978 at Ft. Worth Texas, the 2+ hour DVD captures the Stones live at their post ‘60s zenith performing tracks from their 1978 Some Girls album. Remixed and remastered by legendary sound man Bob Clearmountain, the live in concert DVD also features a 2011 interview with Mick Jagger and other perks bound to interest long time Stones fans.

MVDb2b - Produced and directed by Joel Gilbert, Elvis Found Alive presents the story, as told in documentary form, of Elvis Presley in a whole new light—incredibly revolving around the not so well known facts that Elvis worked for the F.B.I., the D.E.A. and the C.I.A. as well as the Republican party and, in fact his death in 1977 was just a cover up. Elvis met the Beatles in August 1965 and, for those who doubt the whole premise, it truly was revealing that during the filming of Anthology in the ‘90s, even Ringo Starr admits that Elvis at one point tried to banish the Fab Four from America. The whole movie is astounding stuff and the premise of how in fact this happened or didn't happen, is quite revolutionary. As part of the Elvis Is Alive DVD release, MVD also has out a CD called Elvis Is Alive too, featuring early Elvis hits and other pop hits sung by an Elvis impersonator called Jon Burrows. Will Elvis finally make his comeback, will Obama be reelected in 2012? This is crazy stuff if you can dig it.

VOICEPRINT - When classical instrumental rockers Sky released their famous Sky III CD in early 1981, the music world was a different place indeed. Kings of the international music scene, Sky featured a band of session legends from the heyday of Abbey Road, including classical guitarist John Williams, while the band’s electric guitarist Kevin Peek turned Sky into the sonic solution to Mike Oldfield and even Eurock masters like Pekka Pohjola. Sky attained huge critical heights although their fame in the U.S. was marked by a few underexposed albums released by Clive Davis’s Arista empire between 1979 and 1984. Also during that period Peek released a truly great pair of rock instrumental solo albums, also on Arista / Ariola, that perfectly captured the sense of orchestral rock so deftly niched out on the 7 Sky albums. It’s been quite a while since Kevin released an album, with and without Sky, so it’s pretty near shocking to see Voiceprint release a new studio CD of solo guitar music from Kevin entitled Still Waters - Music For TV And Film. In the mind of some fans, Peek’s guitar style personified the essence of what Sky was trying to do and did in fact accomplish. Peek’s Music For TV And Film is pretty much a lushly recorded, part acoustic / part electric guitar soundtrack of sounds minus drums but the sound is often so rhythmic you don’t even miss the drums. Considering the amazing recording quality and mastering here, Still Waters is definitely a classic of the genre. The liner notes say the music here was made back in the ‘80s(?) as library music for film composers, but the sound is really timeless and Still Waters becomes a priority reissue CD worthy of the Sky legacy.

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