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Imaginary Kingdom

Just about thirty years ago Tim Finn was the leader and lead singer of Split Enz. Working with guitar god Phil Manzanera and Enz guitarist Phil Judd the Enz sculpted a series of rock albums that were never equaled by later period Split Enz or the band’s offshoot Crowded House. Finn has been quite busy with his solo career these past years and he caps off his most impressive history with the 2007 release of Imaginary Kingdom. Recording in Nashville with producer / drummer Bobby Huff, the pair are backed up by some great players including guitarists Dale Oliver and Robbie Huff. Regarding Imaginary Kingdom Finn says, ‘The songs kind of came along and tumbled out.’ In the six years since his last solo album, Finn has worked with his brother Neil Finn on a duo album and staged a Split Enz reunion in Australia. Even with so much music on his plate, it’s evident, even for long time fans, that Imaginary Kingdom is one of the finest albums Finn has worked on. And regarding that planned compilation that got shelved in favor of his new solo album Finn adds, ‘It’ll probably be the next thing. In the back of my mind I ‘m sometimes running through the kind of songs I’d like to se on it.’



Stars In My Crown
(Red House)

Anyone who thinks Jorma Kaukonen was just a burnout from the Summer of ‘67 should give a good listen to his 2007 CD Stars In My Crown. Released on the folk based Red House line, the 14 cut CD follows in the footsteps of hi 2002 country blues tribute Blue Country Heart and continues to find the guitar pioneer digging deep into classic Americana, with a laid back mix of country blues, gospel and reggae. Echoing the rock and roll legacy of his years with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, Stars In My Crown features a host of hot players including guitarists Greg Leisz and Ed Gerhard. A vet of the rock, blues and folk music world for decades, Kaukonen, at age 66 continues to mesmerize audiences with his inimitable voice and his finger style guitar playing simply shines on his 2002 Gibson Advanced Jumbo and his ‘93 J-35. /


Back in the mid ‘80s guitarist Mitch Easter was producing R.E.M. and hanging with greats like Don Dixon and Marti Jones as well as formulating his own pop spectacle with his band Let’s Active. Easter’s first album in eighteen years gets back to what he does best—combining catchy pop hooks with a dynamic rock performance. A triple threat singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and studio wiz, Easter was influenced early on by the mid ‘60s Brit-rock invasion bands and he layers it with a love of post-Beatles psych-pop all presented within a self-produced rockin’ package. Easter coaxes some truly Syd Barrett inspired guitar tones here and there and his legendary prowess as a producer gives the sound extra impact and underscores the fact that he’s playing everything.


Keren Ann
(Metro Blue)

Twenty five years ago a gifted singer named Anna Domino appeared on the music scene mixing pop, jazz and Euro style cabaret melodies. Israeli-Dutch singer Keren Ann takes a similar tact as Ms. Domino but with Blue Note backing her fourth album, its more likely that Keren Ann will rise out of the kind of obscurity that made Ms. Domino such a cult icon. Both singers were/are great and Keren Ann takes her soft psychedelic-jazz sound to new heights with her 2007 self-titled Blue Note CD. Adept on bass, guitar and B-3, Keren Ann is abetted by some excellent players including guitarist Thomas Senence with occasional drums of Regis Ceccarelli. Recorded in Paris, New York, Tel-Aviv and Iceland, Keren Ann is a fabulous late night spin—with pastoral musical washes over Ms. Ann’s dreamy female vocals punctuated by some well recorded strings, piano and guitars.


Sky Blue Sky

There’s so many memorable tracks and cool musical atmospheres on the 2007 Wilco CD that it’s impossible not to like it. The addition of guitarist Nels Cline and keyboardist Pat Sansone really puts some hefty musical meat on the song lines of Wilco main man Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy’s Wilco cofounders John Stirratt (bass), Glenn Kotche (drums) and Mikael Jorgensen (keyboards) fill in the spaces on a record that’s surely going to please long time Wilco watchers and turn the heads of newcomers and the unconverted. Commenting on Sky Blue Sky, Tweedy adds, ‘In a lot of ways, Sky Blue Sky is our first record. This lineup of the band is probably the closest to ideal I’ve ever been lucky to experience. If we all lived together, it would be like The Monkees.’


The Zombies remain one of the greatest and most progressive minded bands to emerge in the wake of Beatlemania and the early ‘60s British invasion. Contemporaries of The Kinks, Moody Blues and other first generation bands of the era, The Zombies featured the cool, calm and collected vocals of Colin Blunstone and keyboard legend Rod Argent. The late ‘68 Zombies album, Odessey & Oracle remains in the top 10 Lp classics of ‘68 but, just as the album was about to take off—courtesy of the late release of the album closing “Time Of The Season”—all was lost and the band split. With Argent, primping out his own moniker, heading up a prolific, prodigious keyboard based prog-rock band with the great Russ Ballard, Rodford with Zombies coconspirator Chris White in tow, Colin Blunstone took off to an acclaimed solo career. It would be 30+ years before Argent and Blunstone would kick start their Zombies legacy again—releasing a 2004 studio comeback album on Rhino called As Far As I Can See. Rhino fulfills their Zombies reunification mission with an audiophile quality double live CD set and accompanying DVD entitled The Zombies Live At The Bloomsbury Theatre, London. Filmed and recorded in 2003, the CD and DVD combine sight and sound for a fine comeback performance by Blunstone and Argent backed here by the legendary Argent bassist Jim Rodford, son Steve Rodford on drums and the guitars of Keith Airey. The 25 track double CD set is scaled back on the DVD, which pares the show down to 16 classic Zombies and Argent songs. Both the CD and DVD are vivid pop artifacts well worth the time of Zombies / Argent fans and those who missed them 40+ years ago. Who says history never repeats? /

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