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Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

Greetings fellow Tap-ians and welcome to “As The Disc Spins”. My name is Lindsay Planer and every week we’re going to take a look and listen to some recent CD and DVD reissues -- from a host of domestic and import labels -- many of which offer hard-to-find and previously out-of-print titles from practically every conceivable musical genre.

Waylon Jennings -- I’ve Always Been Crazy (BMG Heritage)
Waylon Jennings -- Complete MCA Recordings (MCA Nashville)

Unbelievably, it has been two years since country music lost its #1 renegade, Waylon Jennings. Even more remarkable is that it has taken so long for I’ve Always Been Crazy (1978) to be issued on CD -- especially as it stayed atop of the Country chart for eight weeks. Jennings was on a hot streak, having just come off of the Grammy-winning Waylon And Willie  (1977) project with Willie Nelson, although his personal life was in comparative chaos. This ironic duality is captured in the real-life incidences that informed both the title track “I’ve Always Been Crazy” and the equally auto-biographical “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out Of Hand”. The latter recalls Jennings’ infamous bust by Federal drug agents in 1977 during an actual recording session. Worth additional mention are the “Medley Of Buddy Holly Hits” -- hearkening back to Jennings’ origins as a member of Holly’s touring band -- as well as the cover of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line”.

Another recent arrival is the two-disc Complete MCA Recordings anthology, collecting not only Jennings' four LPs Will The Wolf Survive? (1985), Hangin' Tough (1987), A Man Called Hoss (1987) and Full Circle (1988), but a pair of stray duets on Rodney Crowell's "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" featuring Johnny Cash and "Somewhere Between Ragged And Right" with John Anderson. After two decades on RCA Records, a newly-sober Jennings signed a deal that would give him complete artistic control of his future output, resulting in 10 consecutive Top 40 hits, six of which reached the Top 10. Among those highlights are a version of Steve Earle's "The Devil's Right Hand," the Los Lobos-penned "Will The Wolf Survive," "Working Without A Net," "What You'll Do When I'm Gone," "Rose In Paradise," "Crying Don't Even Come Close," "Fallin' Out" and the reality-based biographical selections "Littlefield," "You Went Out With Rock 'N' Roll," "If Old Hank Could Only See Us Now," "My Rough And Rowdy Days," "Trouble Man," "How Much Is It Worth To Live In L.A.?" and "Which Way Do I Go (Now That I'm Gone)".

Daryl Hall & John Oates -- Voices (RCA/BMG Heritage)
Daryl Hall & John Oates -- Private Eyes (RCA/BMG Heritage)
Daryl Hall & John Oates -- Big Bam Boom (RCA/BMG Heritage)

Hall & Oates blue-eyed Philly soul was inescapable during the '80s. At the centre of their success are these three multi-platinum selling albums, collectively spawning a dozen Top 40 sides -- nine of which placed in the Top 10. Each has been available on CD before, however the "Deluxe Editions" get the nod for optimal upgraded audio, copious extras -- such as hard-to-find 12" mixes and appropriate eye candy, including lyrics, promotional memorabilia, extensive notes and the like. Voices (1980) kicked off the decade with the pair calling all the shots for their first completely self-produced affair. The response to "Kiss On My List," "You Make My Dreams," "How Does It Feel To Be Back," and the update of the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" sent the disc into the charts -- where it remained for 100 weeks. While it was not issued as a single, Hall & Oates' reading of Hall's composition "Everytime You Go Away" is also featured here. Private Eyes (1981) followed with another round of unforgettable sounds that ranged from the upbeat title track to the darker and mysterious "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" -- both of which landed at #1. Supplementing the effort are extended workouts of "Your Imagination" and the aforementioned "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". Big Bam Boom (1984), captures what many enthusiasts feel was a creative peak of sorts as they blended a modern synth vibe with the same unmistakable brand of powerful song writing. All four bonus cuts are 12" versions of "Out Of Touch," "Method Of Modern Love," "Possession Obsession," and the opener "Dance On Your Knees".

Toots And The Maytals -- Live (Island/ UMe)

Frederick "Toots" Hibbert and the Maytals rivalled only the likes of Bob Marley and the Wailers as ambassadors of reggae. Chronologically, they preceded Marley entering the ska scene during the early 1960s with a distinct fusion of R&B and the unmistakably rich harmonies from Nathaniel "Jerry" Mathias (vocals) and Raleigh Gordon (vocals) who are instrumentally supported by Harold Butler (keyboards), Winston Wright (keyboards), Jackie Jackson (bass), Paul Douglas (drums), Hux Brown (guitar) and Carl Harvey (guitar). The original album jacket artwork is replicated and the contents are significantly expanded to include "I Love You So" and a ten-plus minute version of "Reggae Got Soul," both from the same September 1980 concert at London's Hammersmith Palais. There is no break in the intensity from the moment the band hit the stage with an unforgettably frenzied audience-participation introduction. Their synthesis of soul, gospel and funk drive seminal Maytals' classics such as the rousing opener "Pressure Drop," as well as "Funky Kingston," "Monkey Man," "Get Up, Stand Up," "Hallelujah," "Time Tough" and an epic rendering of Toots and The Maytals' signature "54-46 Was My Number". No wonder the platter has been rightfully credited as one of the "greatest live albums in the history of reggae". Listeners familiar with the LP or the CD reissue will arguably be most impressed by the greatly improved audio quality on this 2004 edition, not to mention the insightful essay by noted authority David Katz.

ABBA -- In Concert (Hip-O/ UMe)

The international success of the musical "Mamma Mia!" has also spawned a full-blown revival of all-things-ABBA, hence the timely release of this 100 minute DVD. During their brief eight year existence ('73 -- '81) ABBA rarely toured, making only one full-fledged sweep through North America in the fall of 1979. This was immediately followed up by a six-night run at Wembley Arena in London. In Concert was originally conceived as a worldwide television broadcast, airing in 1980 and made it onto the home video market a few years later. The contents have been expanded with a previously unavailable performance of "The Way Old Friends Do," the complete "I Have A Dream" and newly edited visuals accompanying "Thank You For The Music". The entire affair is remastered with DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital Stereo options and in addition to the augmentations and upgrades, the presentation boasts interviews with two of the band's closest collaborators --  the film's director Urban Lasson, as well as ABBA's promoter and tour producer Thomas Johansson. Plus, the package is supplemented by a 28-page booklet crammed with photos and an informative essay. Rather than simply recounting a typical show, In Concert reveals an intimate glimpse of the quartet backstage while on the North American leg, moving onto Wembley where they unleash a vivacious hit-packed set including "Waterloo," "Take A Chance On Me," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "Chiquitita," "Dancing Queen," "Voulez-Vous," "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)," and "Does Your Mother Know" among others.

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