Wide Awake, I’m Wide Awake…I’m Not Sleeping!

At the risk of pissing some people off, I needed to write this piece. Needed to!

Over the years, I had developed an increasing shadow of U2 disregard. It might even have bordered on dislike. And I need to be careful how I write this so it doesn’t become misconstrued as a “hater” piece.  It’s far from that.

When the new album by U2 came into controversy over its distribution, I willingly listened to it because, over the years, I always hoped that we could get the U2 that we grew to love back in the late ’70s, and ’80s, back to a semblance of that quality.

Now, before I go further, let me explain this clearly: I am not an opponent of creativity or maturity, Nor am I an opponent of art as it is presented. I like when bands get better. Listen to the holy trilogy of Boy, October, and War, and you find a marked difference between those and the following The Unforgettable Fire. And then, The Joshua Tree changed it up more. As did Achtung Baby. And on.

I have listened to Songs Of Innocence over 50 times. OVER 50 times. That’s more than I gave their last two a listen combined. On the last ten listens, I compared it in every way to their earlier works basing each song on a chill factor. The lyrics, the music, the way the song is presented, the overall quality. Unfortunately, I failed to find one song from Songs Of Innocence with ability to create a chill within me.  That made me sad because I want them to succeed. Perhaps my personal opinion of several things within the U2 camp colored my opinion of them over time, but it’s the same principle I usually apply to my other favorites over time as well (right, Adam? Bill B?).

Song for song, there’s not one track on Songs Of Innocence with the same power as “Bad”, “Pride (In the Name Of Love)”, “The Unforgettable Fire”, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “With Or Without You”, or even those brilliant outtakes from The Unforgettable Fire (“The Three Sunrises”, “Love Comes Tumbling”). My thing is this, eventually you lose your philosophy, your sense of what is important, when you reach that stage where you are suddenly above everyone, even if not by choice.

But I did rediscover something in this small journey. I was still in love with U2. In listening to their earlier songs, my heart swelled with the beauty of their music, the depth of their words, and the greatness of their music. It’s what made them who they are.

I just needed to remind myself, and perhaps others, that U2 is still high on my list of great bands. It’s just that now, they feel irrelevant, in “a dry and waterless place”.

“And if the mountains should crumble
Or disappear into the sea
Not a tear, no not I.”

U2

 

 

Do Vinyl LPs Make Our New Music Better?

Vinyl GroovesIn listening to the new Lily & Madeleine album, with its excellent collection of ten tracks, has made me possibly realize something about vinyl production that benefits EVERYBODY, regardless of whether you are a vinyl enthusiast or not. This is not a new topic, but one that I feel has worth, especially now.

In the past, we have been getting CDs filled to the limit with songs whether they were good or not. In my own estimation, and with a few exceptions, the CDs of 15 or 15 tracks probably did its own fair share of devaluing music because, well, a bad song is a bad song. Put too many half-baked tracks in your album because you could, and that entire album begins to sound a little mediocre despite the possibility that a few of those tracks may be pretty damn good.

Now, with the popularity of vinyl, most everyone is getting on the vinyl bandwagon. With one noticeable problem. Length. If you have 15 songs, then either you have to figure out which songs do not make the cut, or you have to press double the vinyl to house the extra tracks. Which, the way I see it, pans out pretty good for music in general.If a band has to keep costs down, and therefore has to pare the tracks down to ten to guarantee greater fidelity, we, as listeners, gets the best that band truly has to offer. If the songs are bad, then you know that they have no future. Just like the old days. But if an album becomes more listenable because the lesser tracks couldn’t be included, then not only do we win, so does the band.

So, whether you’re a vinyl fan or not, you get to participate in this bettering of our available music. Less bad apples on a tree makes that tree look great!

 

Review: Fumes – Lily & Madeleine

Lily and Madeleine FumesWhen the sisters made their debut with the incredibly rich and mature five-track EP, The Weight Of The Globe, fans from around the world began to wait anxiously for their full-length debut LP, which, when released, did not contain any of the songs from the EP. Just as the EP enthralled, the twelve-track debut album did pretty much the same. With seventeen original tracks to their catalog, along with a few unreleased recorded efforts, the sister duo from Indiana endeared many of us.

When their sophomore release, Fumes, was announced several months ago, the anticipation kicked back in. Lily & Madeleine pre-released a song from the album, “The Wolf Is Free”.  It did just what we all thought it would, encourage us. And so with the impending release of Fumes, we wondered just how much of the charm exhibited in the seventeen earlier songs would remain as the girls mature further in their songcraft. And as they’re certainly establishing, we needn’t have worried. At all.

Fumes clocks in at a meager 37 minutes, or close to it. But with it’s ten songs, we forget about the time length because we’re hitting replay quite a bit. Still, qualified attention paid to quality of the songs and not how many songs can be squeezed into the warehouse of bits that a CD can contain is refreshing.

Of the ten tracks, there are definite standouts. “Ride Away”, the album’s third song is a beautiful blend of their voices, with just the right amount of instrumentation to float the music. Following that is the heartbeat percussion of “Can’t Admit It”, a sad song about departures that captures the soul musically, just like a perfect song is supposed to do. With “Rabbit” prepared to be Fumes next single – and what a solid track it is – I think it’s easy to note that our girls are well prepared to go the entire distance, album after album.

Rounding out this album are the pop track, “Cabin Fever”, the sad “Hold On to Now”, the tender, piano-driven “Lips And Hips”, and the few left for your own exploration and discovery. If one thing can be said about Fumes that differs from their last two works, it is that they have turned in an album unlike them in content. Their sounds are maturing further, their songs becoming different things. Like growing children, we love to watch from our distance, their elation as they experience the world, sad or pleasant. Each album becomes our snapshots of them.

I hope to have a metaphoric shoebox filled with snapshots from Lily & Madeleine.

Release Date: October 28, 2014
Label: Asthmatic Kitty
Website – Official
Availability: CD, DD

–Matt Rowe

No Lonesome Dave, No Rod…No Foghat!

Often, like many of you, I apply song to my current mood. Today, it’s Foghat for me. And as I plug in to that one song, it becomes inevitable that the entire album is revisited. For me, that album is easily Rock and Roll. To me that is their most brilliant album. And it’s not that i don’t like their others, it’s that this one is pure, unadulterated blues as they intended to be. When they reached Energized, they were in a commercial mode. Again, nothing wrong with that. I LOVE Energized. Still, it’s easy to see.

Nevertheless, the point of this small piece is not about what song strikes the mood, or which Foghat album is their best, although you can certainly leave your opinion on that, if you wish. Instead, in listening, I have to say that without Lonesome Dave Peverett, and even Rod Price (but more Lonesome Dave), Foghat doesn’t really exist anymore. I say this because of two things. The first is that I saw the current lineup of Foghat a few years back with Charlie Huhn, Bryan Bassett, Roger Earl (who wasn’t even there, instead hiring someone to fill in), and Craig MacGregor (third bassist for the band, still legitmate). It was an awful exercise using well-known songs for what easily felt like a cover band experience at 20 times the cost of admission.

Listening to Rock and Roll, and hearing the impossible to replicate voice and energy of Dave Peverett makes me realize yet again, that there are sometimes simply no replacements for a band. This is quite true of Foghat after Dave and Rod’s tragic departures. This makes up the second point.

While I respect Roger Earl and Craig MacGregor as great musicians, once part of a superior band, I bemoan their carrying on the band using beloved songs as a way to cash some checks. I feel this way about many bands who have lost a part of their heartbeat. Many I will not mention as their mention would have a tendency to stir the cauldron of anger.

My personal opinion. Whatever it’s worth.

Foghat

TAPSheet: Release Notes – October 28, 2014 (US Report)

On November 24, Rhino Records, in conjunction with Ryko, will re-release the 4CD, 98-song career Big Star retrospective originally released back in 2009. This represents a reformat of the title, and will make, once again, a collectible set newly available to the public. You may know this set as Keep An Eye On The Sky.

Atlantic and Parlophone will release the Coldplay live set, Ghost Stories Live 2014 on a CD/DVD edition, on the calendar for November 24.

Coldplay Ghost Stories Live 2014

Rhino Records, and Warner Brothers will also supply a reformat of the 2007 release of the 4CD, 78-track Songbird:Rare Tracks And Forgotten Gems, the richly packed career retrospective of Emmylou Harris. It is scheduled for a re-release on November 17.

Fuel Records will release The Final Sessions featuring Elmore James, planned for December 9.

Concord Records plan the release of Brazilian Nights by Kenny G, with a first quarter 2015 release pegged at January 27.

All Saints Records will reissue the 1993 Eno title, Neroli on a 2CD set planned for November 18. Other 2CD sets include Eno’s Shutov Assembly, Drop, and Nerve Net. All titles will also be reissued on vinyl LP.

Eno Neroli

Sanctuary Records have the legendary Spunk by Sex Pistols planned for release on December 9.

Sanctuary Records also plan the vinyl LP reissue of two Spiritualized titles that include Amazing Grace, and Songs in A&E.

A Carrie Underwood hits package, Greatest Hits: Decade #1, will be released on December 9 via Sony Nashville.

Carrie Underwood Greatest Hits

The new Smashing Pumpkins album, one of two expected, will release on December 9. The new title will be Monuments To An Elegy.

Evil Teen Records will release the new Gov’t Mule album, Dark Side Of The Mule, on CD, and vinyl LP scheduled for December 9.

Orange Mountain Music will release a 2CD set featuring Philip Glass called The Complete Piano Etudes. At the piano is Maki Namekawa. This 20-etudes album is slated for release on November 25.

Philip Glass The Complete Piano Etudes

There’s a lot of resistance going on there in fandom land concerning the upcoming ‘best of’ for The Who, The Who Hit Fifty!. And while another ‘best of’ featuring The Who might feel excessive, who can resist the arrival of the title in BD-Audio?! Huh?! Expect the Who Hit Fifty! on Blu-ray Audio on December 9.

The Who Hits 50

Review: Holiday – Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth Wind And Fire HolidayIt’s that time of the year where classic Holiday music is starting to become the norm. And while it may not be playing in your house at the moment, how will you know what to play in your house when the time does come if I don’t help to preview them for you. And so it pleases me to tell you about the new Earth, Wind & Fire album, Holiday.

As the title would have you know, Holiday is a collection of classic songs reworked in the inimitable style of the band, with a brilliant bonus thrown in to further enhance the album, creating a rarity that will exist only within this album. But more about that in a bit.

The new album offers the usual tracks like “Joy To The World”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “Winter Wonderland”, “The First Nöel”, and nine others (see track list below). What makes this particular album such fun to listen to is that it’s pure Earth, Wind And Fire. As the opener track begins, it’s all funk and soul in a brilliant take on the classic “Joy To The World”. In fact, you may not have it any other way…now. That same style gets visited upon “Winter Wonderland”. “The Drummer Boy” takes on a new flavor. Still, songs like “Jingle Bell Rock” stays as close to the original sound that is remembered but with the horn sections to spice it up.

There are two originals here, one of them quite the surprise. The first is “”Happy Seasons”, a song based on their original “Happy Feelin'” from their 1975 classic, That’s The Way Of The World. The second is “December”, reworked from their Top 10 hit, “September”, a non-alb um single released in 1978. Both can be considered rarities here, and thus collectible.

Holiday is a great holiday set of tracks from one of the world’s great R&B bands. Long live Maurice White and his tenor voice, and Philip Bailey with his magnificent falsetto.

Release Date: October 21, 2014

Label: Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings
Website – Official
Availability: CD

–Matt Rowe

In Memoriam: Jack Bruce

It may only have been from 1966 to 1968, but what they packed into that short period of time was nothing short of monumental. Cream wasn’t just a band. They were a force that changed the musical landscape of the times. Contained within a threesome of virtuosos stood Jack Bruce. He wasn’t just a bass player. He was the one who helped to give Eric Clapton the confidence he needed to go free-form to the hilt. He was the one who fought tooth and nail with drummer Ginger Baker to keep the drive to fly to a higher plane going. What he created for himself was a platform that helped to break the stereotype of the quiet bassist who only played underneath the song. Jack Bruce didn’t just play for the song. He could also play over the song . He could also smash right through it as if one was driving a tank through a wall-and this was often the case when Eric and Jack were playing so loud that Baker suffered permanent hearing loss as a result.

We often have a tendency to automatically consider that lead guitarists in some bands are the driving force of any given one. Truth be known, it was Jack Bruce who drove this band, as he wrote a ton of the songs which we would all call classics down the line. You, the reader, don’t need to be reminded of the classics that get overplayed on modern radio. Instead, I’d rather call your attention to a song which doesn’t seem to get much radio airplay nowadays. When I think of the artistry of Jack Bruce, I think of “We’re Going Wrong”. That performance is the essence of Jack Bruce. It contains the intense simmering pain which cries to explode in the night. I always come back to that haunting vocal of his in that song whenever I think of him.

I was one of those children of the ’60s who had to wait until the ’70s before I got exposed to Cream. When I started hearing Cream coming out of the bedroom of my two older brothers, it made perfect sense to me. Cream sounded so logical to me. I was expanding and I was hearing one of the most prime examples of musical expansion to have ever come out of the ’60s. It was Blues with a Jazzman’s flair for exploration. There were no limits. There were only boundaries to be leaped. Jack cleared the hurdles each time.

Jack Bruce

He was held in tremendous respect by the greater music community. He trail-blazed a path for others, helping them along the way. He created his own body of work after Cream broke up. I will always be grateful to him that he held out a hand to Mick Taylor after Taylor had left The Rolling Stones and they went out on tour together. At least it was something even though it may not have been as successful as either of them would have wanted it to have turned out. I am also grateful that he found the time, the inspiration, and the want to play with Robin Trower as he got older and was battling his health problems.

It’s weird how, as a kid at least, it took some of us to have to listen more than once to some particular artist or band and have the name or names associated with the band become an engraved name in your rock and roll heart. When I first heard Cream and then took a look at the liner notes of what my brothers had been playing in a discreet manner after the dust had settled, those three names instantly went into my head in high priority. It was easy to remember Jack, Eric and Ginger. They were part of a Rushmore of musicians who made Rock take the next boldly progressive step. By making the times they lived in become more progressive, they made the times I lived in more progressive. The end result is that I became more progressively well-rounded. I have somebody like Jack Bruce to thank for that.

I hate like hell that Jack has now left us. I love him so much for deciding to give it one more try with the Cream Reunion that eventually fell apart again. He was very aware of the risk he was taking in trying to live peacefully around Ginger Baker once again. He helped to bring back the magic once again for an all too brief period of time. At least we all got it. I don’t have any idea how Jack’s passing is going to manifest itself within the minds of Eric and Ginger over time. I just hope that some great good will come out of it. Some of it may be very obvious, but I suspect some of it will be not so obvious and noticeable. All I know is that he is going to be deeply missed.

–Steve Talia

Jack Bruce RIP

Jack Bruce
1943-2014
RIP

Review: Chasing Shadows – The Lost Patrol

Chasing Shadows The Lost PatrolWhen I last heard Lost Patrol music, it was on Driven, their 2013 album (reviewed here) of great songs. On that album, they went through a brilliant store of tunes that draws attention to their lush sounds. And with their sounds an ever fresh hybrid of jangly guitars, sultry and enticing vocals, and evocative original songs that hang around in your head for a while, it is easy to be absorbed. On their newest work, Chasing Shadows, The Lost Patrol own it yet again.

I’ve said in the past that Cocteau Twins is a template of a sort for this band. That’s not a bad thing to say as the band brings a great vibe to what Cocteau Twins left behind. You could say that The Lost Patrol is this generation’s best report of a beautiful and unique Rock and Roll sound and experience. Listen to this album’s “Too Hard, Too Fast” to see just what I’m talking about. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

Chasing Shadows begins its journey with “Creeper”, a song that uses a gothic-like vocal performance by the engaging Mollie Israel, who has such a wide range of voice so as to attend to all of the musical needs of this band. It’s a slow but  effective opener to an album that surprises throughout. The album kicks into high gear with the previously mentioned “Too Hard, Too Fast” (checked it out yet?), and being followed the french-language “S’enfuir” ballad, and the subsequent song that should be a hit single, “Trust Me”.

With five more songs for you to discover (I LOVE “I’m 28”, and the exciting “Hurricane” tracks!), I can’t recommend enough that you listen to Chasing Shadows, or, for that matter, any of their previous albums. Then you will be able to see with ease that the band just gets better and better. Chasing Shadows is a superior work in their growing catalog, eclipsing all of their previous works. That is high praise as The Lost Patrol is one of these bands that is worthy of your full attention.

Release Date: September 15, 2014
Label: Self-Released
Website – Bandcamp
Website – Official
Availability: CD

–Matt Rowe

Beach Boys Classic, Pet Sounds, In BD-Audio for December

Beach Boys Pet Sounds BDAudioBlu-ray Audio (BD-Audio) is an up and coming premium audio package loved by the audiophiles that are willing to go the extra mile to relive their favorites.  and I support it highly. And while I’m a Stereo purist, I do love the 5.1 for my friends that love it. And there are many of you. Of course, not all BD-Audios boast of 5.1.

Today, I’m told that Pet Sounds, the 1966 Beach Boys classic that delivered “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, and “God Only Knows” to a generation of appreciative  fans, will be reissued as a BD-Audio come December 9 via Capitol Records. There is not enough information to determine whether there will be a 5.1 mix, but at least we know that this album in Stereo purity will be ours.

Lucky fans!

Digital High Resolution John Lennon Audio Here And Coming

Gimme-some-truthJohn Lennon left behind a wonderful legacy of music that include his partnership with The Beatles, as well as his own fruitful solo career. There’s never been a question as to how wide ranging his daring musical experimentations were (Two Virgins – 1968, Life With the Lions – 1969). But once he got his groove going, he created masterful albums that included his best-selling Double Fantasy (1980), as well as his defining Imagine (1971), his interim set, Walls And Bridges (1974), and, for me, his most beautiful, Mind Games (1973).

Of course, Lennon’s output included more than those listed. In their own way, all of them are masterpieces that reveal the core spirit of the John Lennon. Lennon was never one to shy away from his feelings, and each of his releases underscore that in their own way.

On October 28, two 2010 compilations, the 15-track Power To The People, and the 72-track Gimme Some Truth box, will be released in high resolution audio in 44.1kHz/24-bit remastered quality. On November 4, The John Lennon Signature Box will follow with new remasters in 96kHz/24-bit audio. The 2010 set will contain eight of his best (Double Fantasy, Mind Games, Imagine, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Walls And Bridges, Plastic Ono Band, Sometime In New York City, Milk And Honey), along with several rarities included exclusively within the Box recorded at 44.1kHz/24-bit.

All albums in the Signature Box have already been individually released in high definition audio (96kHz/24-bit): Imagine, and Rock ‘n’ Roll were released on October 7, with Mind Games, Double Fantasy, and Walls And Bridges following on October 14, and Plastic Ono Band, Sometime In New York City, and Milk And Honey closing the gap on October 21, all via HD Tracks.