May-June, 2001 
CD Reviews



Hawthorn, CA.

Listen to RealAudio sample: Time To Get Alone

For Beach Boys’ fans it simply doesn’t get any better than the recently released double disc CD set Hawthorn, CA. The group’s hometown of Hawthorn, California is where it all began for Brian, Carl, Dennis, Mike and Al way back at the dawn of the ‘60s. In fact, the new double disc set kicks things off with a 1961 rehearsal of the group’s early hit "Surfin". Described in the Capitol Records press release as ‘A must-have item for all Beach Boys fans worldwide, and a fascinating glimpse into the creative process behind many of their most beloved songs’, Hawthorn, CA. compiles a wealth of rare studio sessions, alternate versions, stereo remixes, rehearsal tapes and assorted commentary by group members. Perhaps the most incredible things here are the rarely heard stereo versions of key cuts like "Heroes And Villains" and the stellar sound quality of the various tracks remixed especially for this set. Thanks to some high-tech digital remixing wizardry, a number of Beach Boys classics now sound like they were just recorded yesterday. Subtitled Birthplace Of A Musical Dynasty, Hawthorn, CA. compiles 57 tracks, ranging from short interviews to full length remixes of the group’s best music, topped off by incredible CD artwork and an in-depth CD booklet. Anyone lucky enough to be in attendance at the Brian Wilson tribute concert this past March 29th at Radio City Music Hall in NYC will tell you that the show was a major success. Paying tribute to the music of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys were some of the greatest names in contemporary pop music including Paul Simon, Elton John, David Crosby, Matthew Sweet and Billy Joel. Starring Brian Wilson and his fabulous backing band, The Wondermints with guitarist Jeff Foskett, the three hour show was filmed and will be aired this coming July 4th on TNT. Much of the music from Brian’s tribute concert were songs originally featured on various Beach Boys albums from the ‘60s. These all-time favorite album classics were recently reissued once again by the group’s original label Capitol Records. Although the group’s first 16 albums originally came out on eight two-fer CDs ten years ago, CD technology has advanced so far that the CDs have once again been reissued with much improved sound. In fact, the original reissues of the Beach Boys two-fer CDs were so well done that the only thing different on these newly minted two-on-one reissues on Capitol is the improved sound quality. Still in tact are the extensive 1990 CD liner notes written by Beach Boys historian (and Brian Wilson tribute concert producer) David Leaf. In the liner notes of each CD, engineer Mark Linett points out that each of these 2001 reissue CDs were remastered using the successful HDCD sound system. For anyone with good ears, the improved sound should be quite apparent. Once again, these newly upgraded Beach Boys CDs include Surfin’ Safari / Surfin’ USA (1962/63), Surfer Girl / Shut Down Volume 2 (1963/64), Little Deuce Coupe / All Summer Long (1963/64), The Beach Boys Today! / Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) (1965), Beach Boys’ Party! / Stack-O-Tracks (1965/68), Beach Boys Concert / Beach Boys ‘69 (Live In London) (1964/76), Smiley Smile / Wild Honey (1967) and Friends / 20/20 (1968/69). With the release of Capitol’s CD reissues of the group’s ‘70s albums (originally on Reprise Records) and these eight newly minted CDs of their ‘60s repertoire, the catalog of The Beach Boys on CD is officially up to date, for now... 


BBC Sessions - 1964-1977

Over the years, The British Broadcasting Corporation has recorded sessions by some of the finest U.K. pop artists. Music fans have been amazed by recent BBC compilations from The Beatles and David Bowie. Now, Sanctuary Records has just issued a 35 track double disc set of BBC material from English pop legends The Kinks. Although many tapes of The Kinks’ BBC sessions which originally aired back in the ‘60s and ‘70s have been lost forever, a number were preserved and what we have here are some of the finest Kinks BBC performances. An enormous amount of care has obviously gone into the making of The Kinks BBC Sessions collection. Disc one compiles classic Kinks songs like "You Really Got Me", "Tired Of Waiting For You" and "See My Friends" while also capturing BBC ‘live in the studio’ versions of Kinks favorites from ‘60s albums such as Kink Kontroversy, Something Else and Village Green Preservation Society. Disc two features a number of ‘70s Kinks tracks, mostly taken from a July ‘74 BBC concert recorded in London. Disc two also manages to continue the Kinks mystique with several other unreleased late ‘60s BBC tracks. The liner notes for the Kinks BBC Sessions provide an enormous amount of background info concerning the connection between The Kinks and the BBC. The Kinks BBC Sessions is a significant rediscovery from one of the greatest U.K. rock bands. 

Last Exit
John Barleycorn Must Die

Island Records recently upgraded three more classic albums from the Traffic repertoire. Remastered with original artwork, liner notes and bonus tracks are Traffic’s second, third and fourth studio albums. Included on the group’s self-titled second album, the ‘68 Traffic album, are three bonus tracks including a fabulous stereo single mix of the Steve Winwood & Jim Capaldi classic "Withering Tree", a song which would officially surface on the final Traffic album of the ‘60s, Last Exit. Assisting Winwood, Capaldi and the late, great Chris Wood on the ‘68 Traffic album is founding member Dave Mason, who would soon exit the Traffic fold after making an all too brief appearance on Last Exit. Following Winwood’s Blind Faith project, he reformed Traffic with Capaldi and Wood (minus Mason) for the Summer ‘70 hit John Barleycorn Must Die. Originally scheduled to be a Winwood solo album entitled Mad Shadows, John Barleycorn was packed with FM radio hits like "Freedom Rider" and "Every Mothers Son". Deservingly, John Barleycorn turned out to be one of Traffic’s most popular albums ever. For their newly upgraded version of John Barleycorn, Island has added on a pair of unreleased gems entitled "I Just Want You To Know" and "Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ Of My Love". Although there are no liner notes or bonus tracks on Last Exit, both Traffic and John Barleycorn Must Die benefit from bonus tracks and revealing notes by Brian Hogg. All three new Traffic remasters sport all the original album artwork and some stunning digital remastering. 

Mellow Yellow /
Wear Your Love Like Heaven

First released on CD in Europe in the mid 90s, it’s taken quite a while to see a U.S. reissue of Donovan’s early ‘67 Mellow Yellow album. Collectables has finally reissued Mellow Yellow as part of a two-fer CD which pairs the album with Donovan’s late ‘67 album Wear Your Love Like Heaven. Released at the height of psychedelia, Mellow Yellow is still considered one of Donovan’s strongest albums ever. Containing the ever-popular "Mellow Yellow" single, the album is also remembered for folk-pop favorites like "Museum" (covered by Herman’s Hermits) and the tender "Young Girl Blues". Wear Your Love Like Heaven is another winner highlighted by the strong title track and other Donovan classics. Both albums were produced by Mickie Most, arguably one of the U.K.’s biggest trendsetting hitmakers, and both featured some of the best session players London had to offer in the ‘60s. If you’ve never heard either of these albums before, the recent-released Collectables’ CD will astound you with it’s upgraded, clear-as-a-bell sound quality. 

The Wonderful World Of The Wondermints

All three albums from The Wondermints were recently reissued in the U.K. by the Sanctuary Records Group. Included are the group’s latest album Bali and their self-titled late ‘90s album. While Bali was recently issued in the U.S. on L.A.-based Varese Sarabande, the group’s self-titled Wondermints album (now out of print) makes a welcome return as a Sanctuary CD. Of special interest here is the long-awaited reissue of the group’s first album - The Wonderful World Of The Wondermints - a CD long sought after by fans. Looking at the Wonderful World CD cover art, there’s no way English speaking fans will be able to decipher the Japanese title, yet it was the Japanese record company Toy’s Factory Records that had the wisdom to sign The Wondermints back in the mid ‘90s. All three albums contain some of the catchiest pop music of the ‘90s and remain vital listening for fans of classic pop-rock. Highlights on the group’s 14 track ‘96 Wonderful World album include covers of "Porpoise Song" (the Goffin-King classic made popular by The Monkees), "Love In The City" (the Flo & Eddie classic), "Arnold Layne" (the Pink Floyd classic) and a remake of "Guess I’m Dumb" (written in the ‘60s by Brian Wilson for Glen Campbell). Impeccably produced and performed, all three Wondermints CDs provide some very illuminating listening. 


Vintage Violence
(Columbia / Legacy)

A mainstay on the downtown NYC music scene since his days with The Velvet Underground, singer-songwriter John Cale is further celebrated with an expanded CD reissue of his 1970 album classic Vintage Violence. Columbia Legacy has done a great job with their upgraded VV reissue loading the set with new liner notes, recent interviews with Cale, period piece photos and a pair of bonus tracks from the album sessions. Although Cale was schooled in the world of avant-gard rock and neoclassical music, his love of lushly crafted pop music comes alive on Vintage Violence. Describing his state of mind at the time Cale reflects, "I tried to imitate my favorite songwriters of the times, the BeeGees or whatever. I was out to discover the world of pop songwriting and I thought tunes were the answer." Cale has gone on to record some 30 trend-setting solo albums since his arrival in New York in 1963 but for his many fans, 1970’s Vintage Violence clearly remains one of his best. 

Green Tambourine
Simon Says

Between 1966-69 Buddah Records had become synonymous with teenybopper music, a/k/a bubblegum music, although the label would later graduate to a more progressive sound with groups like Buzzy Linhart and Stories. Buddah’s sister label, Kama Sutra Records, had scored big with The Lovin’ Spoonful, but it was left to Buddah to keep the teenyboppers quite content with AM radio hits from bands like The Lemon Pipers, The 1910 Fruitgum Co. and The Ohio Express. With the late ‘90s revival of the Buddah imprint, now spelled Buddha Records, the label has finally reissued several bubblegum classics from their vaults. Just out on Buddha are a pair of CD anthologies from The Lemon Pipers and The 1910 Fruitgum Co. The thirteen track Pipers’ Green Tambourine CD includes the classic title track and other semi-psychedelic bubblegum hits like "Rice Is Nice" and "Jelly Jungle". Simon Says resurrects the legend of The 1910 Fruitgum Company with sixteen tracks including the classic title track and other hits like "1,2,3, Red Light" and "Indian Giver". Both collections help put the Buddah Records bubblegum saga into a fitting perspective complete with colorful repackaging and informative liner notes from Kim Cooper.  / 

Mojo Workout!

Before they rose to international prominence with song classics like "Just Like Me", "Kicks" and "Hungry", Paul Revere, Mark Lindsey and their merry band of Raiders were essentially a party band knocking out audiences up and down the West Coast. Thanks to an already great track record as a live act, the band was signed to Columbia Records at the start of the ‘60s. Documenting the group’s earliest recordings, Mojo Workout! features the group in their element, rocking out before a live studio audience on 9/24/64. While disc one features the actual live in the studio show, disc two compiles a cross section of early Raiders’ singles and album sides along with a 9/23 rehearsal of the 9/24 show recorded in L.A. at Columbia Studios. Produced by Terry Melcher and Bruce Johnston, the early Raiders were an over the edge party band serving up smokin’ covers of R&B chestnuts such as "Louie, Louie", "Fever" and "Twist And Shout". According to Raiders’ founding keyboardist Paul Revere, "This is how we were in the beginning. We were the party band from hell." Sundazed packs their double disc, 44 track Mojo Workout! with ample liner notes, recent interviews from both Revere and Lindsey along with fastidious track data and photos galore. 

The Music Scene
The Best Of 1969-1970

Hosted by guest comedians such as David Steinberg and Lily Tomlin, The Music Scene was one of the most popular TV music shows with rock fans at the close of the ‘60s. Like Hullabaloo, Shindig and other prime time TV variety shows from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, The Music Scene offered a video showcase for some of the biggest names in the pop and rock music world. MPI Home Video has compiled four complete Music Scene episodes for their new DVD honoring the fabled show. Also included on the DVD are 21 bonus video tracks culled from other Music Scene shows. The list of video performances reads like a best-of list from the golden years of rock and roll. Among the featured artists here are James Brown, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Rascals, Sly & The Family Stone, Joe Cocker, Tommy Roe, Ten Years After, Janis Joplin, Mary Hopkin, Spirit and B.B. King just to name a few. Also featured are four Music Scene promo clips from The Rolling Stones. Clocking in at over three and a half hours, the DVD looks great in full color and overall is a revelation for fans of ‘60s rock and roll. 

Forever Changes
(Rhino / Elektra)

One of the best of the late ‘60s L.A. bands was Love. Featuring the talents of the brilliant singer-songwriter Arthur Lee and the late, great singer-songwriter and rhythm guitarist Bryan MacLean, Love recorded some now-classic albums. Forever Changes, released in the Autumn of ‘67, is still considered their best. First reissued on CD in the late ‘80s, Rhino now revives the album classic with key bonus tracks and insightful liner notes by Ben Edmonds. The album was originally planned to be co-produced by Neil Young and while that never occurred, Forever Changes is marked by that same high spirit of creative genius. Punctuated by dazzling songwriting and top playing by all the group members, Forever Changes is renowned for it’s symphonic orchestration, making it one of the best examples of the ‘baroque pop’ sound so popular back in ‘67. In spite of the fact that the album wasn’t a massive pop hit in the U.S. (it was in the U.K.), it displayed some of Love’s best songs including their magnum opus entitled "You Set The Scene". Also included on Rhino’s 2001 Forever Changes reissue is the single "Your Mind And We Belong Together" b/w "Laughing Stock", complete with various studio outtakes. Although the original Love soon disbanded after Forever Changes, the album remains a timeless reminder of the greatness that has long survived after the band’s demise. 

Fire On The Strings
(Columbia / Legacy)

As part of their American Milestones series, Legacy recently reissued a 19 track compilation from the late, great guitar/banjo/mandolin ace Joe Maphis. Recorded between 1957-59, the all-instrumental collection contains tracks from a spectrum of Maphis albums. Included is his complete ‘57 album Fire On The Strings, with it’s array of top studio musicians. For those unfamiliar with the guitar ace, Maphis was among the first guitarists to employ the famous double-necked guitars from Mosrite, a guitar company later popularized by The Ventures and other surf-rock bands of the early ‘60s. Years before surf-rock, Maphis carved quite a name for himself with his unique blend of instrumental country-style flat picking and electric bluegrass. One part rockabilly and one part country, the lightning-quick Maphis guitar sound can also be heard on early recordings from Ricky Nelson and rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson. With cool artwork and revealing liner notes, Fire On The Strings is essential listening for all fans of ‘50s instrumental guitar legends. 


(Rhino Home Video - DVD)

One of the defining pop culture movies from the heyday of the late ‘60s music scene, Wonderwall was recently reissued for the first time on DVD. Wonderwall is forever linked to the history of The Beatles thanks to the incredible instrumental George Harrison soundtrack that accompanied the film. Released as Harrison’s late ‘68 solo album debut, the Wonderwall soundtrack Lp was the first (and only) time many Americans ever heard of the film. Set back in swinging London during the late ‘60s and featuring top actors such as Jane Birkin and Jack MacGowran, Wonderwall is still a pretty amazing movie dripping in tie-dye psychedelia and laced with generation gap fantasies. George’s instrumental soundtrack is as evocative as ever with it’s cross-section of guitar pop instrumentals spiced-up with Indian music flavorings. Guitar god Eric Clapton is also on hand making the soundtrack even more amazing. Anyone familiar with the VHS of Wonderwall will be in for a shock, as Rhino’s newly reedited director’s cut DVD of the film looks incredibly clear and lifelike. Other reasons to check out the Wonderwall DVD? Harrison’s remastered surround-sound music score, production stills, outtakes and various other perks featuring Clapton and the late, great John Lennon. The Wonderwall DVD also sports a short film, Reflections Of Love, featuring music from Kula Shaker as well as a rarely heard George Harrison-produced track from The Remo Four entitled "In The First Place". 

Reminiscing / Showcase

Although he passed away in 1959, rock & roll icon Buddy Holly left behind a legacy of great music most artists only dream of making. Holly recorded just two complete albums before his untimely demise, yet in the years following his passing, a number of intriguing albums of his music were issued. Two of these albums, Reminiscing (1962) and Showcase (1964) are just now seeing the light of day as a two-on-one CD reissue on the U.K.-based BGO Records. According to the original Reminiscing liner notes, written by Holly’s parents Ella & Lawrence Holly, following Buddy’s death a number of his final recordings, unreleased demos and other early tracks were turned over to original Holly producer Norman Petty. Petty then made newly overdubbed versions of these song classics with new backing from the great instrumental group The Fireballs, featuring guitarist George Tomsco. As the lifelike sounding 23 track CD surmises, Petty’s ‘sweetened’ versions of Buddy’s music were tastefully done and even now make for quite inspired listening. A testament to the mythical relationship between Holly and his producer Norman Petty, Reminiscing / Showcase is a timely look back at the now historic music Buddy Holly gave us back at the end of the ‘50s. Extra credit must go to BGO who enhance the original album artwork with new and revealing liner notes. 

Absolutely The Best Of
(Fuel 2000)

One of the great one hit wonder bands from the late ‘60s, John Fred & His Playboy band rose from humble beginnings as an R&B band from the Deep South to become a main player at the height of late ‘60s psychedelia. For John Fred Gourrier early inspiration from Southern rock and roll greats like Fats Domino and Dale Hawkins gave way to a strong affinity for Beatles-inspired pop. Encouraged by the success of Sgt. Peppers, and more specifically by John Lennon’s "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", Fred released his all time classic "Judy In Disguise With Glasses". The song became so popular that it knocked The Beatles’ hit, "Hello Goodbye" out from it’s number one position on 1/20/68. Looking back at it all, Fred states, "Judy In Disguise was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. That song was us, but we were so much more, and most people never got to know that side of us." Subtitled The Jewel & Paula Recordings 1964-69, Absolutely The Best Of John Fred And His Playboy Band compiles 17 tracks of the group’s many different musical stylings. A well rounded assortment of Top 40, bubblegum, pop-psychedelia and R&B, the CD is topped off by liner notes and some great period piece photos. 

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