Return To The Matrix – 2/1/1968, Featuring Jefferson Airplane Gets Remastered and Re-Released In March

Jefferson Airplane Return To The MatrixNot very many bands highlight the extraordinary times of the late ’60s’ San Francisco era as well as Jefferson Airplane did. And still do. Legendary in status, this band that featured the guitar of Jorma Kaukonen, the bluesy bass of Jack Casady, the unique vocals of Grace Slick, and Marty Balin, and the others, combined to create and set the standards for psychedelic Rock.

Their studio albums for RCA are memorable. But, like many bands from the period, it is their live performances that stand out.

On March 31, Relayer Records will re-release the 2010 2CD set named Return to The Matrix – 2/1/1968. For those unaware, Return to The Matrix is a live set featuring their show in a small venue on February 1, 1968. The performances here have been remastered to provide for a greater listening experience to what will likely become an essential addition to your Jefferson Airplane library. This set of tapes have been bootlegged for quite some years, being passed around by fans. With this new “official” release, cleaned up audio, and a booklet with extraordinary photos from Herb Greene, it can be enjoyed even more.

 

Tori Amos Firstfruits, Little Earthquakes, Under The Pink, To Be Reissued As 2CD Deluxe Editions and 180g LPs

Tori AmosTori Amos is one of those thinking singer-songwriters, using her piano training to create thought-provoking songs within great flowery beds of music. In short, Tori Amos is one heckuva songwriter. All of her albums have been anxiously awaited by devout fans. During her ongoing career, Tori Amos has released fourteen studio albums. That’s from a period of 1992 though the current time. If we had a comparison, she could be called the US’s version of Kate Bush.

Her first album was released in 1992 as Little Earthquakes. This debut generated sales of over two million copies in the US. In addition to its meteoric climb up music charts, it produced five singles including “Silent All These Years”.

Tori Amos Little Earthquakes

Tori Amos followed up her phenomenal debut with Under The Pink in 1994. It also sold over two million copies in just the US alone. Singles that came from the album were “God”, and “Cornflake Girl”.

Tori Amos Under The Pink

On April 14, Atlantic Records will reissue both Little Earthquakes, and Under The Pink as 2CD Deluxe Editions. In addition, both albums will be re-released on 180g-weight vinyl LPs.

As more information becomes available, I will update this post.

 

The Geoff Smith Band Are Still Here

Twenty years ago, I became fascinated by a new CD that I discovered at Virgin Records at Triangle Square (Costa Mesa, CA), in their HUGE classical room in the back of the store. It was playing in store (in the room), and I was immediately absorbed by the minimalist approach of the pianist, and the operatic vocal prowess of the woman singing. The CD was called 15 Wild Decembers. The musician’s name is Geoff Smith. The operatic voice was that of his wife, Nicola Walker-Smith.

15 Wild Decembers is a collection of eight tracks composed by Geoff Smith, with all of the lyrics culled from literary poets and writers such as Emily Brönte, Elizabeth Siddal, and Percey Shelley. The album consists of five vocal tracks using the literary words, and the remaining three are extraordinary piano pieces. You can read my original review of the album, written in 2007, twelve years after its release. That’s some staying power when an album doesn’t leave your head.

Geoff Smith 15 Wild Decembers

To backtrack, when the album released and I had heard it play in Virgin’s classical department, I bought it. Not long afterward, I designed a website featuring Geoff Smith and whatever information I could glean concerning his history, his music, and his plans for other works. Soon, Geoff Smith caught sight of the webpage, and supplied me with information and music. In essence, a site featuring Geoff Smith’s music was the forerunner of MusicTAP.

Not long afterward, Geoff Smith expanded and formed The Geoff Smith Band. Their next album on Sony Classical, called Black Flowers, was released in 1997. Since that album, we have heard little musically from Geoff Smith as he never released another album. (Geoff Smith has a previous album to 15 Wild Decembers, released back in 1993, called Gas.Food.Lodging. It was released via KitchenWare Records.)

Geoff Smith Band Black Flowers

In 2013, I posted a reprint of the 2007 review. It was that reprint that led to Geoff Smith recontacting me, directing me toward some new music that he and Nicola Walker-Smith had produced in the years after Black Flowers. It is my intention to direct you to those tracks in the hopes that an interest may formulate in Geoff Smith and his brilliant minimalist piano, and his wife’s haunting vocals.

The new release is called Black Is The Colour. it was released digitally on SoundCloud in 2014. Black Is The Colour contains five tracks that include “The Apple”, “Horses”, “Black Is the Colour”, “My Favorite Plum”, and “Song Of The Northern Lights”. All of these songs are much closer in nature to the songs heard on Black Flowers.

Geoff Smith and Nicola Walker Smith

As of this writing, all albums by Geoff Smith, and The Geoff Smith Band, including Black Is The Colour, can be streamed at SoundCloud (see below)! Do yourself a favor, listen to what you will, but do not leave without listening to the whole of 15 Wild Decembers. You should absolutely listen to “Possess Me”.

What I wouldn’t give to have 15 Wild Decembers on vinyl LP!

 

Gang Of Four Plans New Album, What Happens Next In February (US), March (UK)

Gang Of Four What Happens NextGang Of Four released their first album, Entertainment! back in 1979 riding the very strong wave of post-punk. they rode the wave until 1983, when the band called it a day. Of course, like any great band, it’s hard to give up the ghost when you were so good, and so influential. Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers called Gang of Four his primary source of influence. Punk influences in Rock, and Funk led the day in the band’s first run releases.

In the ’90s, the band reunited with Andy Gill and Jon King. The original four came back together in the early 2000s. Today, only Andy Gill remains. However, his talent is such that this iteration of Gang Of Four is quite satisfying. and the new band assembled keeps the freshness of Rock and Roll on at full throttle. If you are a Gang Of Four fan, you’ll likely really enjoy what you will hear in the two tracks off What Happens Next provided below.

Gang Of Four Entertainment

On February 24 (US), March 2 (UK), Gang Of Four will release their newest album, What Happens Next. There are two streaming tracks from the set available at SoundCloud (see below). Judging by what those two tracks sound like, I’d say easily enough that fans will be treated to some excellent music.

What Happens Next will contain ten new tracks. It will be made available on CD, DD, and vinyl LP.

 

Discoveries: Horisont (Sweden)

It’s always nice (for some of us) to find a band that reminds us of the glory years gone by. But, it’s quite important to be musically adept at what they do. There are plenty of bands out there that not only fully understand the past, but can replicate it in such a way as to have us believe that if they were around “back then”, they’d have done alright.

Well, I’ve stumbled onto one for you.

Horisont.Horisont Band

Horisont got their start back in 2006, and has produced two albums, both of which have great things going on in them. What their rivivalist sounds boast of are Wishbone Ash twin leads (listen to “Nightrider” off their 2009 debut, Två Sidor Av Horisonten), Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and a host of Metal/Prog bands from the ’70s.

Två Sidor Av Horisonten was released via Crusher Records. It was followed up in 2012 with a signing with Metal Blade Records, and a new album, Second Assault. Their last album, Time Warriors, was released in later months of 2013 (which makes them due for a new one soon).

Horisont-TimeWarriors

 

Horisont are a Swedish band with a strong tie to the metal music of the late ’70s, and the ’80s. Time Warriors is not unlike Judas Priest in any of its offerings.  The band consists of five talented musicians well-versed in Rock and Roll. They are: Axel Söderberg (vocals), Charles Van Loo (guitars), Kristofer Möller (guitars), Magnus Delborg (bass), and Pontus Jordan (drums).

Horisont has a new vinyl 7″ single available, released in November of 2014. The 7″ is A-sided with “Break the Limit”, B-sided with “Yellow Blues”.

Horisont_BreakTheLimit_1000pix

New Sufjan Stevens Album, Carrie & Lowell, Set For March

Sufjan Stevens Carrie & LowellSufjan Stevens (pronounced Soof Yahn) really captured the public’s ear with his Illinoise album when it was released back in 2005. With its long song titles, a blend of piano and guitar, vocal explorations, and pop approach, the album earned its interest with one of the shortest song titles found on the set, “Chicago”. It’s a great song that highlights an already great Pop-Art album.

Since, Sufjan Stevens has issued The Age Of Adz (2010), an EP, and a followup Christmas album (Silver & Gold) to his previous Songs For Christmas. All of these excellent Sufjan Stevens creations are released on his own label, Asthmatic Kitty Records. The label itself is home to more than a few artists that include the stunning Lily & Madeleine sister duo, who have two excellent albums out as well as a timeless 5-track EP, The Weight Of The Globe.

On March 31 (March 30 in the EU), Asthmatic Kitty Records will release the new album from Sufjan Stevens, his first in five years. The new album is called Carrie & Lowell, and will feature eleven new original tracks from the guy who earned our attention with his eclectic brand of music.

Carrie & Lowell will be released on standard CD, and vinyl LP (clear, and black).

 

The Rifles (UK) To Reissue 3CD No Love Lost

The Rifles No Love LostExactly one year ago today, UK’s The Rifles released None The Wiser in the UK. It is ten excellent tracks (not including a hidden track) and WELL worth your attention. If you liked The Jam, then you’d like The Rifles in almost every respect. Yes, there are some similarities. But, before None The Wiser, there are three previously released albums that include their debut issue, No Love Lost.

No Love Lost was released in 2006, performing quite well on the UK charts. To help, Paul Weller has performed with them, and referred to the band favorably. Of course, when Weller talks favorably about a band, I do some listening. That’s how I became a Rifles fans.

Going through Pledge Music, The Rifles are revisiting their debut release, No Love Lost, as a 3CD 10th Anniversary remaster. In addition to the updated sound, they are adding in bonus B-sides from the singles as well as unreleased bonus tracks recorded during the No Love Lost sessions. Those include demos, live radio broadcasts, and alternate versions.

Once again, the album is being worked on and released via Pledge music. The window is still open to pledge and be a part of the entire process that includes having your name printed in the credits as a contributor to its release. In addition, there are signed versions of the CD, LP, and other things being made available. But there aren’t many slots left. for inclusion of name, there are only 47 slots left.

To be a part of the new reissue of No Love Lost, go to this Pledge Music page. As of today (January 26, 2015), there are only 98 days left to preorder. However, inclusions run out once the allotment has been spoken for.

Tracklist – No Love Lost 10th Anniversary Edition

CD1: (Main Album)

01. She’s Got Standards
02. Local Boy
03. One Night Stand
04. Hometown Blues
05. Peace & Quiet
06. Spend A Lifetime
07. Robin Hood
08. She’s The Only One
09. Repeated Offender
10. When I’m Alone
11. Narrow Minded Social Club

CD2:

01. Breakdown
02. Fat Cat
03. Lost In London
04. Fighting
05. Up Close
06. Rock The Boat
07. No Love Lost
08. Lazy Days
09. Rainy Monday
10. Hard To Say
11. Holiday In The Sun
12. Down South

CD3:

01. Local Boy (Demo)
02. She’s The Only One (Acoustic Demo)
03. Rat Race (Live at Virgin Radio 2005)
04. In-Between Days (live at Radio 1 Maida Vale 2004)
05. 22 Years
06. Hometown Blues (Demo)
07. Peace And Quiet (Piano Version)
08. Waiting In Vain (Acoustic Demo)

 

Blues Pills To Release Live Set In March

Blues Pills - LiveBlues Pills is one of the better retro bands that boast a ’70s-styled Blues/Rock blend. And I really hate using the term ‘retro’. Just doesn’t seem fair to those that, if they were present at the time of their beloved style, they would likely have been among the historically adored. Blues Pills is one of those.

I’ve written about this band in times past (read here). Since then, they’ve been a regular on my turntable. And, although I hate listening to music in the car (sounds so awful!), even Blues Pills’ debut album gets play enough there (along with The Paper Kites, and Land Observations).

If you have heard the debut, or, even better, own the album, then glad to have you in the club. You and I both know they’re worth your attention. But if you haven’t, click that link up there and get initiated. It’s free to join!

On March 20, via Nuclear Blast Records, the label will release Blues Pills – Live. Live was recorded during the band’s stand at The Freak Valley Festival last year in Germany, on May 30 (the band will return to another headlining stint on June 4, 2015). Live is being planned to issue on a variety of formats, and in a splashy way (Yay, Nuclear Blast!).

Blues Pills Live CD

Blues Pills – Live will be issued on CD in a collectible digibook case. It will also be issued on vinyl 2LP sets in SIX separate vinyl colors. Those will be standard black, translucent blue, translucent yellow, silver, gold, and a splatter platter. All sets are considered extremely Limited Edition and will not be reprinted once sold out. If you fancy a vinyl version, don’t hesitate as they will become collectibles. There will be NO digital versions of Live available commercially.

For the fastest orders, go here! So far, these are not available on Nuclear Blast America…yet.

Blues Pills - Live Blue LP

The set-list/track-list features eleven tracks, most from their first album.

01 –  High Class Woman
02 – Ain’t No Change
03 – Bliss
04 – Dig In
05 – Black Smoke
06 – The River
07 – The Time Is Now
08 – No Hope Left For Me
09 – Devil Man
10 – Astralplane
11 – Little Sun

 

 

In Memorium: Edgar Froese

Tangerine Dream StratosfearSo many years ago that we can count them as decades, Tangerine Dream released Electronic Meditation. That was in 1969, just a mere set of years after the birth of Rock and Roll. I personally wasn’t aware of them until Phaedra was released back in 1973, and that was because of a strong promotional push as Phaedra was the first for Virgin Records. That’s when I backtracked to experience the first four (before Phaedra). By the time Stratosfear was released in 1976, I had become a strong fan. Stratosfear simply strengthened that appreciation more than I would have thought possible.

There are many periods of Tangerine Dream to explore, all of them with a different style of ambient textures than the period before each. And when Tangerine Dream went into soundtracks. One of those is the excellent Sorcerer soundtrack. It is as much an important part of the film as the film is itself.

At the head of Tangerine Dream was Edge Froese. And all through their long running tenure, Edgar Froese was at the core of the band. And now, some 45 years, the heart of the band has dissolved into the ambient stream that he so loved. It’s appropriate that we use the titles of his compositions to reference his passing.

With so many albums to his credit over the time he headed Tangerine Dream, we have more than usual to experience his thinking mind. But with the news of his death , it feels like music breaking away from a composition, and expelling into space.

Edgar Froese, thank you for the wonderful music yo have sound-tracked my life, and the lives of so many others, with. We will miss your existence on this planet, in this sphere.

Edgar Froese

Edgar Froese
1944-2015
RIP 

 

Review: Give My Love To London – Marianne Faithfull

Marianne Faithfull Give My Love To LondonMarianne Faithfull has enjoyed a long career of music. From her early appearance in the early ’60s, with a best-selling song (“As Tears Go By”), through her late ’70s re-emergence with Broken English (1979), and her subsequent releases (over ten fascinating batches of songs), Marianne Faithfull has managed to maintain her expected rough edges.

With Broken English, she established herself as a singer on the outer fringes. She explores jealousy, betrayal, and other dark corners of the human existence. Every so often, she would attempt a lighter approach but the interest in her music as Rock’s hard-bitten singer of angry songs was already in motion.

On her new album, Give My Love To London (2014), she delivers an engaging and enduring collection of tracks. She begins with the title track, and sings about a return to her place of her memories. It seem to embrace the end of a cycle by celebrating (“…dance by the light of the moon, boy, dance by the light of the moon…”).  Her “Mother Wolf” is an accusatory track, a seeming metaphor of responsibility and the lack of it during wartime.

With eleven songs, some of them written by such luminaries as Nick Cave (a beautiful but heart-wrenching “Lake Victorian Holocaust”, and the co-written “Deep Love”), Roger Waters (“Sparrows Will Sing”), and Leonard Cohen (Cohen’s more recent composition from his 2012 album, Old Ideas, “Going Home”) Marianne Faithfull returns with a stunning work. She also transforms the classics, “The Price Of Love” (The Everly Brothers), and “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)” (Hoagy Carmichael).

Give My Love To London is a great album not to be missed. If you enjoyed her past works, especially her harder-edged albums, then Give My Love To London should be on your shopping list, even if it is an off the beaten path album by a seasoned veteran.

Release Date: September 29, 2014
Label: Caroline Records
Website
Availability: (CD, DD, LP)

–Matt Rowe