June 01, 2009


This is a nice fat post today, the FIRST of June AND the end of the first half of 2009! Not only do we have the Rolling Stones write-up, but we also have more reviews, more covers (which, by the way, has inspired me to add many to my iPhone as wallpaper. Today, I have School's Out by Alice Cooper on my phone. Next, Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy), and some more news with cover art. Yep, I was busy this weekend. A nice, long late Saturday evening leading into the quiet of the early morning hours.

I'm still looking for the original pressing of School's Out with the die-cut cover that opens like a school desk and has the LP (inside the plastic sleeve) secured by pink paper panties. To be sure, there are many elusive LP albums. With all of this Cover attention, it is notable to say that some of us are looking for the original covers rather than subsequent pressings' cheaper-produced covers. Hell, even the label design (HEY, another POLL idea!) matters! On that discussed Alice Cooper album, the label is the original solid dark green color. On the LP pressing that I currently own, the label is a creme-coloured one with the original WB logo. The music is there, yes, BUT the feel of connection isn't simply because I don't have the original. I WILL FIND IT, though!!

While I'm on the subject (and because I have such strong feelings on the subject), I'm going to introduce my next Best of Band Poll today. Over the next few weeks, we're going to check out and see how Alice Cooper fares with his original band's albums versus Furnier's post-original band career. And so, you can vote for the Best Album of Alice Cooper by clicking on the link. As always, your commentaries are more than welcome. I think this will be fun. Hopefully, we'll get a lot of email on this one. I think they deserve it. Don't you?

And now, for that Rolling Stones Discussion Project we ran a few weeks back. I'm still trying to figure out how to best present this discussion. And I still can't figure the best way to present it toher than to run the emails received, which somehow seems not right. However, here is the gist of the overall set. Many argued that The Rolling Stones lost their inventive edginess after Tattoo You was released. Some maintained that subsequent albums may have had a good song here and there but, as a whole project, failed to live up to the Stones mystique. There were a few arguments that The Rolling Stones never lost relevance as each subsequent album contained the newest venture and style. I think its great that some fans actually feel that way. However, there does seem to be, to me, a downturn in essential Stones after Tattoo You and I venture that it might have been even earlier. There were even a few arguments that The Stones peaked on Exile on Main Street.

But it is true, The Rolling Stones evolved album to album. There is a lot of magic in Exile on Main Street that we haven't heard since the release of that album. For me, each album had some excellent Stones tracks that I can never forget but Exile just seem to have more of them. Afterwards, The Stones still produced some very cool music but seem to be grinding gears as early as Black and Blue. And I love that album. Nevertheless, you can sense it. By the time Undercover came around, I could no longer find The Stones to produce anything of serious quality. Yeah, I can listen to Dirty Work as I love that album's lead-off single, "Harlem Shuffle." But is it what I wanted? Not really. And nothing after that gave me chills.

Ed S had this to say:

"Hey Matt,

There are who-knows-how-many threads on Steve Hoffman’s forum about this, but here goes…

The Stones emerged at a time of societal convulsion and, in part, symbolized and conveyed much of that cultural upheaval for their contemporaries. But society and people eventually changed and, as the years went by, music was less of a catalyst for change. So that explains, in part, why their relevancy seemed to fade. Most music was just….music. Certainly, the political maelstrom that propelled many 60’s bands to the fore was gone by the 80’s.

And for musicians who are around long enough, there’s a  Catch-22 – keep playing things that remind us of the earliest or best songs, or play new things that don’t make us feel like there’s an attempt to rehash the past, but the old sound should still be there. I think the Stones walk that line on their albums, each of which contain several very good, if not great songs. I think tracks from  Voodoo Lounge and Bigger Bang as much earlier ‘classics’ fit this bill.

It’s true they haven’t had a monster hit in ages, although radio is so different that its not an  apples to apples comparison anymore, say, with the 70’s. And speaking of the 70’s, Black and Blue lacked the big hits –  Fool to Cry and Hot Stuff never garnered the kind of radio play earlier singles did and most people, beyond big Stones fans, don’t know those songs. That entire album didn’t make much of an impact at the time, in fact. And beyond one or two songs from  Emotional Rescue, how many people who aren’t hardcore fans remember anything beyond the title track, if that?

The reality is that, for many people, when you grow up with a song or an album – and the band also looms large as a cultural force – those particular works are going to resonate. Everything afterwards is measured against that. Meanwhile, the artists are, of course, aging and changing and so their own benchmarks – musically, personally and culturally – are no longer entirely the same either. It’s called evolution.

Anyway, you know where this is all headed – most will say the last great songs or albums were made in the 70s, although some older fans will argue the  Brian Jones era was never duplicated. For me, personally, it’s a continuum. There are lots of great songs on all their albums, including the solo releases – check out Jagger’s Wandering Spirit and Richard’s Talk is Cheap. For me, those were as much and as relevant as Aftermath and Exile. But that’s me."

Steve M commented in defence of The Stones:

"I'd have to disagree with you on this one.  The Stones still have a unique sound & " A Bigger Bang" was a very strong release as was " Voodoo Lounge" in my opinion.  It's easy to take an act that's been around as long as the Stones for granted, but I can't imagine a musical world without them & kudos to them for not standing on their past & moving forward musically.  Too many acts are working the nostalgia circuit these days.  I still want new music from these artists; they're the leaders, they should NOT be the followers.  Sales are not the issue; it's a matter of them still being one of the world's best & setting the bar for the rest."

There were other notable email evaluations but space dictates that I not print them all. Suffice it to say that most agree that Tattoo You was the pinnacle. Agree or not, it's hard to argue against the populist decision.

Adam Jahnke (of The Digital Bits) has written up reviews of the recently released CD/DVD Collector's Edition sets for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. These four include From Her to Eternity, The Firstborn Is Dead, Kicking Against The Pricks, and Your Funeral...My Trial. You should check these out, especially if you're a Nick Cave fan.

In addition, I've supplied two Front Page capsule reviews, one for Chick & Hiromi and their 2CD Duet album, and one for the Halo Wars Soundtrack composed by Stephen Rippy and released by Ensemble Studios.

We'll see you again on Wednesday.

We have a new set of album covers from our recently launched Great Album Covers Poll. You can still vote for your favourites here and get them posted so that the rest of us can enjoy them. Here's the next three email lists:

  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love 
    Dio – Holy Diver 
    Metallica – Ride The Lightning 
    Pink Floyd – Animals 
    Rainbow – Rising 
    The Beatles – Abbey Road 
    Judas Priest – British Steel 
    Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast 
    Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III 
    Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Robert D.

Matt, I purchased this album because of the cover and had no idea what the music was like, well the rest is history because this album set the standard for all Progressive Music from there on! - James K.

  • King Crimson – I n  The Court Of The Crimson King

  • Rain Dogs - Tom Waits (it is virtually impossible to believe that that isn't actually a picture of Mr. Waits)
    Rum, Sodomy & The Lash - The Pogues (no explanation needed, really)
    Band On The Run - Wings (any album cover with a random appearance by Christopher Lee is aces in my book)
    Triage - David Baerwald (simply an amazing, stop-you-in-your-tracks image) - Adam J.







The upcoming 'dual album on single CD' set (Back to Back series) for Climax Blues Band of their fine albums, Stamp Album, and Sense of Direction, will be made available on June 23.  The special set will throw in five bonus tracks between the two albums.  Bonus cuts from Sense of Direction (1975) include “Amerita/Sense of Direction” - Single Version; “Reaching Out” - Alternate Version; and “Right Now” - Extended Version.  Bonus cuts from Stamp Album (1975) are “Evil” - Bonus Track, and “Everyday” - Single Mix.  I loved both of these albums and so am excited to snag this combining package with the extra goodies from Varese Sarabande's Fuel label offshoot.

It also serves to note (and remind) that Mercury Records will release two 2CD Deluxe Edition packages of classic Def Leppard titles.  On June 23, watch for Pyromania (1983), which will add a second disc entitled Live – LA Forum 1983 (15 performance tracks), and Adrenalize (1992), which augments with a 4-track Live EP (In the Clubs In Your Face – Bonn 05/29/92), and eight bonus tracks (“You Can't Always Get What You Want;” “Little Wing” w/ Hothouse Flowers; “Tonight” - Version 2, Demo Version; “Now I'm Here” - Live w/Brian May; “Two Steps Behind” (Acoustic); “Tonight” (Acoustic – Sun Studios Version); “Too Late for Love” - Live; and “Women” - Live).

Stax Records will reissue Hot Buttered Soul by Isaac Hayes as a 40th Anniversary Edition on June 23.  This re-mastered set will add two bonus tracks (“Walk on By” - Single Edit; “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” - Single Edit).  This new reissue will also feature new photographs and new liner notes (Jim James of My Morning Jacket).  Classic album release!

IRS Records, under A&M Records, will reissue the classic R.E.M. Album, Reckoning (1984) on June 23.  This 2CD Deluxe Edition will add not only new re-mastering but also a second disc featuring a previously unreleased WXRT (93.1 Chicago) broadcast of the band's July 7, 1984 show at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom.  In addition, A&M Records will reissue both Reckoning, AND Murmur (re-mastered) on 180g vinyl LP with original packaging.  These separately available LP reissues by R.E.M. will also release on June 23.

The upcoming Tonic 'best of' from Polydor Records will feature 15 popular tracks and will add to that number three previously unreleased recordings (“Sugar” - Live; “You Wanted More” (Acoustic); and “Irish” - Live).  This album, called A Casual Affair – The Best of Tonic, is scheduled for release on June 23.

Don't forget that on June 23, Island Records will reissue six classic Island titles on 180g vinyl LP.  Those classic titles include Fire & Water (Free); Night Nurse (Gregory Isaacs); Nightclubbing (Grace Jones); Kimono My House (Sparks); swordfishtrombones (Tom Waits); and Arc of a Diver (Steve Winwood).

Atlantic Records will re-release the upcoming CD (June 2) title of Demos that will be released for classic Crosby, Stills, & Nash tunes on vinyl LP on August 11.

Nonesuch Records will release Dr Atomic Symphony/Guide to Strange Places by composer, John Adams on July 21, CD form..  Nonesuch will also release a Bill Frisell title, Disfarmer, on the same date.

All Time Low will release their upcoming 12-track album, Nothing Personal, on July 7 from Hopeless RecordsAll Time Low is currently scheduled to perform on the Warped Tour beginning on July 19 and running thru August 23.  Before that, they will tour with We The Kings, Cartel, and Days Difference from July 09 thru July 18.




Review - Stephen Rippy - Halo Wars Soundtrack - CD/DVD

Anyone who has played any of Ensemble Studios' immensely popular Halo games will likely note that the expansive music, which elevates the play factor, is no different than the soundtracks attached to film.  They are there to enhance the experience and to lead you through a variety of anticipated experiences, often memorably.  The Halo Wars soundtrack, so effectively scored by Stephen Rippy, is a 2-disc collection that includes not only the 25 tracks of in-game music that provide the majestic sounds (and yes, Rippy's pieces are often majestic) but it also adds a bonus DVD to the package for more value. ****



Review - Chick & Hiromi - Duet - CD

The grace and beauty from the fingertips of Progressive Jazz great, Chick Corea, and the experienced perfection of Hiromi combine to deliver 2CDs of the classical and the jazzy.  Recorded in a Live setting at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Tokyo (September 2007), the two masters, feeding off each other's energy, and engaging in 12 songs of improvisational playfulness like that heard on their Beatles' cover, “Fool on the Hill.”  Graceful and entertaining. ****



Introduction - Heartless Bastards - Austin

This Austin, TX band by way of Dayton OH, has released their third album on Fat Possum Records in January of this year. Named The Mountain, it contains an exhilarating blend of styles to make this one of the more exciting albums of the year. We highly recommend you try Heartless Bastards out by sampling music at their MySpace page.










Copyright 2002-2009 Matthew Rowe.
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Disclaimer: various news pieces may state a specific media publication or program as a source. All other news is considered 'rumour' only. That goes double for release dates.

212 Frech

"Even though most of the people I knew in my youth are gone, I still reach out to them..." Norman Maclean - Paraphrase

"...we should enjoy every sandwich." -- Warren Zevon
"Buy the ticket, take the ride." -- Hunter S Thompson
"...you best wake up 'fore tomorrow comes creepin' in...: -- Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad)
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." -- Kurt Vonnegut
"Because they wouldn't let me go for three..." -- Woody Hayes (OSU)
"Show me peaceful days before my youth has gone" -- Neil Diamond (Serenade)