03/02/07
Reviews by - Lindsay Planer


Join us as we're uncorking a trio of decade-defining long players -- from the 1970s, '80s and '90s -- significantly expanded with all dimensions of sonic and visual goodies.


Def Leppard -- Hysteria: Deluxe Edition (Bludgeon Riffola/Island/UMe)

Hey heavy metal kids, you wanna really feel old? Consider that it has been two decades since the release of Def Leppard's pop crossover smash Hysteria (1987). To commemorate such a momentous occasion, the entire project has been revisited, remastered and augmented with over a dozen b-sides and remixes.

In addition to being a blockbuster album, remarkably half of the material also made it onto the Pop Singles charts. "Animal," "Hysteria," "Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Love Bites," "Armageddon It" and "Rocket" were inescapable as they were not only hits on pop and rock radio, but the videos for all of the above seemed to be in perpetual rotation on MTV for the better part of a year.

Disc One commences with the centerpiece -- a freshly remastered version of Hysteria--  followed by the non-LP sides "Tear It Down," a 1987 re-recording of "Ride Into The Sun," "I Wanna Be Your Hero" and "Ring Of Fire" [note: not the Johnny Cash tune].

Disc Two continues with five live single-only tracks. Here you'll find a cover of Alice Cooper's "Elected," Def Leppard originals "Love and Affection," "Billy's Got A Gun," and "Women," as well as a nearly nine-minute medley containing the Leppard staple "Rock Of Ages" linked to the rock oldies "Not Fade Away," "My Generation," "Radar Love," "Come Together" and "Whole Lotta Love". Plus, listeners get 12" mixes of "Animal (Extended Version)," "Pour Some Sugar On Me (Extended Version)," "Armageddon It (Nuclear Mix)," "Excitable (Orgasmic Mix)," and "Rocket (Lunar Mix)."

Concluding the Hysteria Deluxe Edition (2006) is the silly, off-the-cuff spoof of the Englebert Humperdink hit "Release Me," which is sung by Def Leppard crew-member Malvin Mortimer and credited to 'Stumpus Maximus & The Good Ol' Boys'. Can you believe the rag-tag warbling actually made it to #6, in Greece of all places.

The 32-page liner booklet is quite impressive with plenty of artwork ranging from a multitude of picture sleeves, to candid shots and even posed studio-type portraits. There is a well-researched and detailed discography and an equally impressive essay from noted rock music journalist David Fricke.

Blue Öyster Cult -- Some Enchanted Evening - Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy)

During the era of the 8-Track -- when disco made its feeble attempts at dethroning rock 'n' roll -- there were few who ruled as mightily as the Long Island-based Blue Öyster Cult (BÖC). By the late 1970s the band a gained a solid reputation with a handful of well-received albums. As their follow-up to Spectres (1977) -- which Sony/Legacy has also reissued and expanded as of late -- BÖC unleashed their most powerful collection to date, the live Some Enchanted Evening (1978).

Fast-forward nearly 30 years later as this Legacy Edition now ups the ante. The album has not only been extended to twice its initial length, but complementing the extra audio is a roughly hour-long DVD of BÖC caught in the act on July 14, 1978 at the Cap Center in Landover, MD. The video was shot for historical purposes, rather than for potential release. Yet, it is that raw, in-the-moment essence that perfectly matches BÖC's no-nonsense style of performance.

Speaking of which, both the CD and DVD draw on familiar favorites. Right out of the gate, they explode to life with an energetic set that includes "R.U. Ready 2 Rock," "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)," "Godzilla," "(This Ain't The) Summer Of Love," "Harvester Of Eyes," "ME 262," and "Five Guitars". One unfortunate omission on the video is a version of BÖC's signature "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" -- a definite highlight of the original album. However, they more than make up for it with their cover of the Animal's "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place," the MC5's battle cry "Kick Out The Jams," and show-stopping overhaul of Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild".

Lucinda Williams -- Car Wheels on a Gravel Road: Deluxe Edition (Lost Highway /UMe)

Few albums so perfectly embodied the return-to-roots approach of Americana music as Lucinda Williams' Grammy-winning Car Wheels On A Gravel Road (1998). Even though it was her fifth long player, the collection of intimate narratives ended a six-year recording sabbatical and ultimately gained international acclaim for the singer/songwriter.

This Deluxe Edition features the memorable songs "2 Kool 2 Be 4 Gotten," "Drunken Angel," "Can't Let Go," "Metal Firecrackers," "Greenville," "Still I Long For Your Kiss," and "Joy" -- all sounding as achingly poignant as they did nearly a decade ago. Supporting Williams is a star-studded cast with luminaries Buddy Miller (guitar), Ray Kennedy (guitar), E-Street Band Member Roy Bittan (keyboards), Jim Lauderdale (vocals), Charlie Sexton (guitar), Steve Earle (guitar/harmonica) and on "Greenville" none other than Ms. Emmylou Harris (vocals).

Enhancing the original 13-songs on Disc One are a reworking of the blues standard "Down The Big Road Blues" and Williams' own "Out Of Touch" which are outtakes from a 1995 session in Austin, Texas. Rounding out the CD is an alternate version of "Still I Long For Your Kiss," which first saw the light of day on the soundtrack for the film The Horse Whisperer.

Disc Two finds Williams takin' it to the stage of Penn's Landing in Philly for a set at WXPN's Singer Songwriter Festival. While extracts of the July 11, 1998 show were rebroadcast on the syndicated World Café, the entire concert has never been made available until now. The artist dips back into her not-too-distant past with the opening pairing of "Pineola" and "Something Happens When We Talk" from Sweet Old World (1992) before settling into songs from her concurrent new release. Granted, the arrangements stick pretty close to their studio counterparts, however Williams exudes a passion that gives the live incarnations of "Metal Firecracker," Drunken Angel" and "Greenville" a decided edge.

The 24-page booklet houses the appropriate liner notes, lyrics, photos and a concise essay from music journalist Scott Schinder.


Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and technical producer at WBT AM/FM in Charlotte, NC. He is a regular contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and Gaston Gazette. Comments and questions can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.


 

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