You'd think over time that these lists would get shorter. I know that the types of music I have in these lists has moved from the mainstream into more of a niche, and I always wonder if I'll actually get ten releases that I want to include in the list. But between some newer acts popping onto the list and the now expected deluxe anniversary reissues, these reviews keep getting longer. Hey, they keep releasing 'em, I'll keep reviewing 'em.

Enjoy the list.


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The Beatles
Super Deluxe Edition

Whenever I've seen lists of the best albums of all-time, one (or more) of three Beatles albums usually score near the top: Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, and Revolver. Sgt. Pepper is my personal pick, but Revolver is damn close. The final album of the band's touring years, Revolver starts showing the Beatles transition to being a studio-only band with more experimental material like "Love You To", "She Said She Said" and "Tomorrow Never Knows". The elegant "Eleanor Rigby" is an all-time classic, but the delicate "For No One" is very close. "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Dr. Robert" are classic power pop, and if you're not charmed by "Yellow Submarine", I don't know what to say to you. Also included is a single with "Paperback Writer" and "Rain", both in remixed and original mono versions.

Revolver was also the last album the band recorded with a 4-track machine, which meant Giles Martin needed some magic to pull off a remix. Fortunately for him, Peter Jackson ran into a similar problem creating the Get Back series. For Get Back, new software was used to be able to isolate voices from music and background noises so that the sound could be cleaned up. Martin was able to use the same software to separate out the individual instruments from the 4-track recording which allowed him the ability to properly remix Revolver. Like last year's Let It Be, the overall sound has been improved without radically changing things. And like the recent reissues, the set includes a healthy collection of "work in progress" recordings that are, as always, a fascinating listen. As with the other early Beatles albums, Revolver's mono mix was the one the band approved, with the stereo being an afterthought. Nicely, the box includes the original mono mix as well.

tracks (Revolver [new stereo mix]): "Taxman", "Eleanor Rigby", "I'm Only Sleeping", "Love You To", "Here, There And Everywhere", "Yellow Submarine", "She Said She Said", "Good Day Sunshine", "And Your Bird Can Sing", "For No One", "Doctor Robert", "I Want To Tell You", "Got To Get You Into My Life", "Tomorrow Never Knows"

tracks (Sessions): "Tomorrow Never Knows" [Take 1], "Tomorrow Never Knows" [Mono Mix RM 11], "Got To Get You Into My Life" [First Version / Take 5], "Got To Get You Into My Life" [Second Version / Unnumbered Mix], "Got To Get You Into My Life" [Second Version / Take 8], "Love You To" [Take 1], "Love You To" [Unnumbered Rehearsal], "Love You To" [Take 7], "Paperback Writer" [Takes 1 & 2 / Backing Track], "Rain" [Take 5 / Actual Speed], "Rain" [Take 5 / Slowed Down For Master Tape], "Doctor Robert" [Take 7], "And Your Bird Can Sing" [First version / Take 2], "And Your Bird Can Sing" [First version / Take 2 / Giggling], "And Your Bird Can Sing" [Second Version / Take 5], "Taxman" [Take 11], "I'm Only Sleeping" [Rehearsal Fragment], "I'm Only Sleeping" [Take 2], "I'm Only Sleeping" [Take 5], "I'm Only Sleeping" [Mono Mix RM1], "Eleanor Rigby" [Speech Before Take 2], "Eleanor Rigby" [Take 2], "For No One" [Take 10 / Backing Track], "Yellow Submarine" [Songwriting Work Tape / Part 1], "Yellow Submarine" [Songwriting Work Tape / Part 2], "Yellow Submarine" [Take 4 Before Sound Effects], "Yellow Submarine" [Highlighted Sound Effects], "I Want To Tell You" [Speech & Take 4], "Here, There And Everywhere" [Take 6], "She Said She Said" [John's Demo], "She Said She Said" [Take 15 / Backing Track Rehearsal]

tracks (Revolver [original mono mix]): "Taxman", "Eleanor Rigby", "I'm Only Sleeping", "Love You To", "Here, There And Everywhere", "Yellow Submarine", "She Said She Said", "Good Day Sunshine", "And Your Bird Can Sing", "For No One", "Doctor Robert", "I Want To Tell You", "Got To Get You Into My Life", "Tomorrow Never Knows"

tracks (Revolver EP): "Paperback Writer" [new stereo mix], "Rain" [new stereo mix], "Paperback Writer" [mono], "Rain" [mono]

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Manic Street Preachers
Know Your Enemy
Deluxe Edition

Back in 2001 I wrote:

Know Your Enemy is an album filled with big hooks, catchy melodies, and powerful lyrics. The sound runs from the punk roar of "Found That Soul", "Intravenous Agnostic", and "The Convalescent" (which mixes in a somber, organ-driven chorus in with the blasting guitar) to the Brian Wilson-tinged "So Why So Sad" and the mock funk/disco of "Miss Europa Disco Dancer". The Manics' political side shows up here as well, especially on "Let Robeson Sing", "Baby Elián", "Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children". A stunning album, and one that has me looking to pick up the rest of the band's catalog.

Know Your Enemy was my pick for album of the year for 2001, and it was the beginning of my Manics fandom. What I didn't know at the time was that the plan was to release two separate albums, Door To The River and Solidarity, with the first album being more poppy and the latter being more aggressive. The band scrapped the idea and combined songs from the two into one album. The new reissue disassembles Know Your Enemy and reconstructs and remixes the originals, giving the songs a fresh feel as well as removing some of the effects and orchestration that were added during the combining process.

Door To The River adds "Rosebud", "Just A Kid", "Groundhog Days", and the title track, and all four are fine additions. The only weak spot is the "Avalanches Sean Penn Remix" of "So Why So Sad". The original is terrific, the remix changes the feel, and for the worse in my opinion. Solidarity is a seriously front-loaded album with "Intravenous Agnostic", "Found That Soul", "We Are All Bourgeois Now", "Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children" and the blistering "The Convalescent". The 2000 single "The Masses Against The Classes" has been included as well, and it fits very nicely. Solidarity is the better album of the pair, but both are excellent.

The 3CD edition adds a disc of demos like the other Manics deluxe releases do. However, on the previous releases, the demos were generally band demos which were not very different from the final versions. This time around, most of the demos are taken from early cassettes and early band versions. They're a very interesting listen: I enjoyed hearing these earlier, rougher demos. They're a nice addition to the set.

Know Your Enemy is not a very highly thought of entry in the Manics' catalog, but personally I love it. The deluxe edition is an interesting shuffle of the original and an excellent listen on it's own. Very highly recommended.

YouTube Album trailer
It's weird - almost nothing is on YouTube or Spotify for this edition.

Door To The River:

tracks: "Door To The River", "The Year Of Purification", "Ocean Spray", "So Why So Sad" [Avalanches Sean Penn Mix]" "Door To The River", "Rosebud", "Just A Kid", "His Last Painting", "Let Robeson Sing", "Groundhog Days", "Epicentre"

bonus tracks: "His Last Painting" [Tim Lord-Alge Mix], "Epicentre" [Tim Lord-Alge Mix], "So Why So Sad" [Original Know Your Enemy Version], "Royal Correspondent"


tracks: "Intravenous Agnostic", "Found That Soul" [Tim Lord-Alge Mix], "We Are All Bourgeois Now", "Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children", "The Convalescent", "Baby Elián", "The Masses Against The Classes", "My Guernica", "Studies In Paralysis", "Dead Martyrs", "Wattsville Blues", "Miss Europa Disco Dancer"

bonus tracks: "Fear Of Motion", "Pedestal", "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel", "Locust Valley", "Masking Tape", "Ballad Of The Bangkok Novotel", "Little Trolls"


tracks: "Ocean Spray" [Studio Demo], "So Why So Sad" [Cassette Demo], "Door To The River" [Cassette Demo], "His Last Painting" [Air Version Home Cassette Demo], "Let Robeson Sing" [Home Cassette Demo], "Groundhog Days" [Home Cassette Demo], "Epicentre" [Cassette Demo], "Intravenous Agnostic" [Home Cassette Demo], "Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children" [Studio Demo], "The Convalescent" [Studio Rehearsal Demo], "His Last Elián" [Studio Demo], "Masses Against The Classes" [Studio Demo], "My Guernica No 1" [Home Acoustic Demo], "My Guernica" [Studio Demo], "Dead Martyrs" [Home Cassette Demo], "Wattsville Blues" [Home Cassette Demo]

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Pink Floyd
2018 Remix

While not as celebrated as the album that came before (Wish You Were Here) or the one that came after (The Wall), Animals can more than hold its own with Pink Floyd's best. Bookended by the gentle "Pigs On The Wing", Animals uses three 10-minute-plus epics to slice up society into three Orwellian groups: the attack dogs, the pigs that control them, and the sheep that are victims of the other two. The album has Roger Waters' angriest lyrics, David Gilmour's most aggressive guitar work (on "Sheep"), and all three epics are among Pink Floyd's greatest long tracks. Animals is a masterpiece, and long overdue for some attention. Strangely, the album was not included in the run of "Immersion Edition" box sets, even though it matches the others for quality. However, a remix was done in 2018 by their long-time engineer James Guthrie. According to Roger Waters, the delay was due to a dispute over proposed liner notes written by Mark Blake. Waters has since published the liner notes on his site, along with some commentary.

How's the remix? The most accurate description I've heard compared the old mix to the new as being like looking through dirty eyeglasses and then clean ones. The remix doesn't change things around, but it cleans them up and brings out much more clarity to all of the instruments. I loved the original, but now it sounds muddy to me after hearing this version. So, no bonus tracks, no live material, no outtakes - it's just the original album but cleaned up and sounding spectacular. Absolutely worth upgrading your original or starting with this version if you're new to the album.

tracks: "Pigs On The Wing 1", "Dogs", "Pigs (Three Different Ones)", "Sheep", "Pigs On The Wing 2"

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Moving Pictures
Super Deluxe Edition

Back in 2014 I wrote a list of my "Top 100 Albums of All Time", and Moving Pictures came in at #4. In that review, I wrote:

Moving Pictures was my introduction to Rush, and it's still an easy pick for my favorite of their albums. "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight" are the best-known songs (and playing them in Rock Band over and over just cemented how fond I am of both). "The Camera Eye" is my favorite of Rush's longer songs, and "Red Barchetta" and "YYZ" are amazing as well. And yeah, I know, I was put off by Geddy Lee's voice at the beginning too. It definitely takes some getting used to, although the shriek from the early days is gone and that helps. Rush's playing is always impressive, but Moving Pictures has the songs I keep going back to hear again and again.

The 40th anniversary edition of Moving Pictures (delayed a year due to COVID), couples a fresh mix of the album with a double-live album from 1981 dubbed Live In YYZ. The original album still holds up as a classic. The live album is taken from the same tour as Exit… Stage Left but is instead a single complete show - and it's a blazing performance. Neil Peart's drumming is a big highlight of the album. Not sure if it was his performance that night, or something about the mix, but his powerful playing really stands out and makes the show special.

The Super Deluxe Edition includes vinyl versions of both the album and the concert, a large book on the making of the album, and a Blu-ray. The Blu-ray has a surround-sound mix of the original album, the original three performance videos and a new animated "YYZ" video. The new animation is fun, but the original clips are a must-see. While they use some dated visual effects, the clips show the band recording the specific song (or faking it extremely well).

tracks (Moving Pictures): "Tom Sawyer", "Red Barchetta", "YYZ", "Limelight", "The Camera Eye", "Witch Hunt", "Vital Signs"

tracks (Live In YYZ): "2112: Overture / The Temples Of Syrinx", "Freewill", "Limelight", "Hemispheres: Prelude", "Beneath, Between & Behind", "The Camera Eye", "YYZ", "Broon's Bane", "The Trees", "Xanadu", "The Spirit Of Radio", "Red Barchetta", "Closer To The Heart", "Tom Sawyer", "Vital Signs", "Natural Science", "Working Man / Hemispheres: Armageddon / By-Tor & The Snow Dog / In The End / In The Mood / 2112: Grand Finale", "La Villa Strangiato"

Blu-ray contents: Moving Pictures Remixed [5.1 mix of original album], Videos for "Tom Sawyer", "Limelight", "Vital Signs", and "YYZ".

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Rage In Eden
Deluxe Edition

The second Midge Ure era Ultravox album, Rage In Eden, gets a deluxe set along the lines of the 2020 Vienna reissue. While Rage In Eden doesn't have a signature moment like Vienna's epic title track, the overall quality of the album is damn close. The opener "The Voice" is an aptly titled showcase for lead singer Midge Ure, the spooky title track is a personal favorite, and "I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)" and the initial single "The Thin Wall" are other big highlights.

The box contents are similar in style to the Vienna set. You get the original album, a Steven Wilson remix, a collection of rarities, a 1981 live recording, and a Blu-ray with surround-sound versions of the Steven Wilson remix and stereo versions of the original album and rarities. The original masters for "The Voice" and "I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)" were not available, so they're skipped from the remix disc (both songs are included in the 5.1 mix however using simulated 5.1). The rarities disc includes a mix of B-sides (including the excellent "Paths And Angles"), single edits, and some very interesting rehearsal recordings. The Hammersmith performance shows the band completely embracing their recent material. None of the songs are from the John Foxx era of the band. They play all nine songs from Rage In Eden, six from Vienna, and a Vienna-era b-side.

tracks (Rage In Eden [Original 1981 Master]): "The Voice", "We Stand Alone", "Rage In Eden", "I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)", "The Thin Wall", "Stranger Within", "Accent On Youth", "The Ascent", "Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)"

tracks (Rage In Eden [Steven Wilson Stereo Mix]): "We Stand Alone", "Rage In Eden", "The Thin Wall", "Stranger Within" [full length version], "Accent On Youth", "The Ascent", "Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)", "I Never Wanted To Begin", "Paths And Angles", "I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)" [Steven Wilson Work In Progress Mix] "Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind)" [Steven Wilson Work In Progress Mix]

tracks (Rarities: Singles/B-Sides/Rehearsals): "The Thin Wall" [Single Version], "I Never Wanted To Begin" [7-inch Version], "I Never Wanted To Begin" [Extended Version], "The Voice" [Single Version], "Paths And Angles", "Private Lives" [Live At Crystal Palace 13/6/81], "All Stood Still" [Live At Crystal Palace 13/6/81], "I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)" [Instrumental Cassette Rehearsal], "Accent On Youth" [Instrumental Cassette Rehearsal], "Paths And Angles / The Thin Wall" [Instrumental Cassette Rehearsal], "Untitled I" [Cassette Rehearsal], "Untitled II" [Cassette Rehearsal], "The Thin Wall" [Work In Progress Mix], "Stranger Within" [Work In Progress Mix], "The Voice" [Work In Progress Mix], "We Stand Alone" [Work In Progress Mix]

tracks (Live At Hammersmith Odeon 16/10/1981): "The Thin Wall", "New Europeans", "Sleepwalk", "I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)", "Stranger Within", "Mr. X", "Rage In Eden", "Accent On Youth", "The Ascent", "Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)", "Vienna", "Passionate Reply", "Passing Strangers", "We Stand Alone", "All Stood Still", "The Voice"

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The Waterboys
The Magnificent Seven:
The Waterboys Fisherman's Blues / Room To Roam Band, 1989-90

Back in 1990 I wrote:

Room To Roam is a wonderful blend of the Irish folk influences from their last album Fisherman's Blues with the original Waterboys' sound. The result is magnificent, coupling Mike Scott's powerful originals with traditional Irish folk numbers. Highlights include the epic "Life Of Sundays", the lovely "A Man In Love", and the Irish romp "Raggle Taggle Gypsy".

In 1989, Mike Scott radically changed The Waterboys' sound with the album, Fisherman's Blues. For the tour, Scott started exploring traditional Irish music more intensely, drafting in trad musicians like the Irish Trad legend Sharon Shannon and traveling around Ireland playing concerts in small halls and participating in jam sessions in pubs. The Magnificent Seven is a 5 CD + 1 DVD set that covers that exploratory period capped by the recording of the follow-up album, Room To Roam. The first 4 CDs in the set each cover a season and are a mix of live performances, demos and the occasional jam session that shows just how much fun the band was having. By the time you get to the 5th CD, Room To Roam itself, you see the end result in which Scott blends all the trad music influences into his songwriting and the end result is a classic. Following the recording of the album, Scott had an itch to go back to more straight rock music, and the seven-piece Waterboys lineup self-destructed.

If you're a fan of The Waterboys' Irish period, or a fan of traditional Irish music, this is worth a listen.

tracks (Celtic Summer): "And A Bang On The Ear", "Morag", "The Winkles Overture", "Bonnie Kate", "The Woodland Strut", "On My Way To Heaven", "Maggie (It's Time For You To Go)", "Old England", "Natural Bridge Blues", "The Wayward Wind", "Morag", "That's The Way The World Goes Round", "Roche's Favourite", "Defying Gravity", "Colin's Tune", "Rocking Rose", "Song Of The River", "Three Ships", "The 3 Minutes Before Dinner", "When Will We Be Married", "The Streets Of Galway"

tracks (The Rambles Of Autumn): "This Is The Sea / New Morning", "When Ye Go Away", "Fisherman's Blues", "Strange Boat", "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35", "Dingle Regatta", "A Pagan Place", "Reels", "The Munster Hop", "Custer's Blues", "Girl Of The North Country", "The Trip To Broadford", "Sweet Thing / Blackbird / You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Your Darling Ain't Your Darling Anymore", "Higherbound", "The Kings Of Kerry", "Saints And Angels", "Something That Is Gone."

tracks (Winter's Work): "Carolan's Welcome", "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy", "Disease Of Conceit", "Spirit", "With The Scottish Fiddlers Of Los Angeles", "Morag", "Danny Murphy", "Jimmy Hickey's Waltz", "How Many Songs Till I Get Home", "The Hut On Staffin Island", "The Pan Within", "Learning The Polka", "The New-Mown Meadow", "Somebody Might Wave Back", "A Man Is In Love", "Something That Is Gone", "Islandman", "Song From The End Of The World", "Bigger Picture", "Maybe The Sandman", "A Life Of Sundays"

tracks (Atlantic Spring): "A Man Is In Love", "A Life Of Sundays", "Bigger Picture", "Lost Highway", "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy", "The Trip To Broadford", "The Wyndy Wyndy Road", "Spring Comes To Spiddal", "Loopers Return", "Further Up, Further In", "Blues With Barry", "And I Dreamed I Wandered", "Room To Roam", "The Happy One-Step / Blackbird", "Upon The Wind And Waves", "Islandman", "Yellow Submarine", "The Star And The Sea", "Higher In Time", "Tripping Up The Stairs", "Bed On The Floor", "A Song For The Life" [v1], "A Song For The Life" [v2], "Nanny Water", "Natural Bridge Blues", "The Kings Of Kerry", "Spring Comes To Spiddal", "The Inchicore Reel / Alright Folks Now, Time Please", "How Long Will I Love You 2021", "The Music Lasts Forever"

tracks (Room To Roam): "In Search Of A Rose", "Song From The End Of The World", "A Man Is In Love / Kaliope House", "Bigger Picture", "Natural Bridge Blues", "Something That Is Gone", "The Star And The Sea", "A Life Of Sundays", "Islandman", "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy", "How Long Will I Love You", "Upon The Wind And Waves", "Spring Comes To Spiddal", "The Trip To Broadford", "Further Up, Further On", "Room To Roam", "The Kings Of Kerry"

tracks (Glastonbury 1989 [DVD]): "On My Way To Heaven", "Strange Boat", "Girl From The North Country", "Bed on The Floor", "Maggie It's Time For You To Go", "Billy The Kid", "And A Bang On The Ear", "Big Blue Ball", "The Whole of The Moon", "Jimmy Hickey's Waltz", "When Will We Be Married", "Good Morning Mr. Customs Man", "Fisherman's Blues", "This Land Is Your Land", "Further Up Further In", "Lost Highway"

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The Who
It's Hard
Record Store Day UK 2022 Edition

It's Hard, the second of the two Kenney Jones albums and the final studio album until 2006's Endless Wire, has always gotten a bad rap in Who fan circles. Heck, Roger Daltrey is famously on the record as saying he didn't want It's Hard to be released in the first place. Rolling Stone magazine famously gushed over the album, but that's probably the only positive review the album ever received. When the 1997 reissue came out, I called it "The Who's weakest album" and I think that's probably still the case (although the inconsistent Endless Wire is in the discussion). It's Hard opens with the Who's weakest single: "Athena" with its cringy "she's just a girl / she's a bomb!" lyrics. However, it's also got an all-time Who classic in the hypnotic "Eminence Front", and the epic "I've Known No War" is an overlooked gem. The rest of the album just kind of slots in between. It's not an awful album, it's simply not up to The Who's standards.

The new Record Store Day edition splits the original single album into a double, spreading the original twelve tracks across three sides and adding a fourth side of bonus material. The huge highlight is a new version of "Eminence Front" with Roger Daltrey sharing the lead vocals with Pete Townshend. It's such a surprising difference, and there are some cool parts with Pete and Roger trading vocals. The second bonus is an alternate mix of "Cry If You Want" which is quite similar until you get to the ending. This mix runs about 20 seconds longer, but the whole ending of the song has more fire. Amazed this wasn't the final version. Up third is a new version of "One Life's Enough" with Pete on lead vocals instead of Roger. It's interesting to hear, but The Who has done better ballads. The final bonus track is the "1997 Unedited Mix" of "Dangerous" that was used on the 1997 CD. The original vinyl version is used in the main part of the album, so this release has both. The differences between the two are fairly subtle, however.

Overall, this is definitely one for the Who hardcores. The new "Eminence Front" and "Cry If You Want" absolutely make the set.

Not surprisingly, Spotify doesn't have the Record Story Day edition. They do have the 1997 reissue, so that's what I used.

tracks: "Athena", "It's Your Turn", "Cooks County", "It's Hard", "Dangerous", "Eminence Front", "I've Known No War", "One Life's Enough", "One At A Time", "Why Did I Fall for That", "A Man Is A Man", "Cry If You Want"

bonus tracks: "Eminence Front" [Roger and Pete vocal], "Cry If You Want" [Early Alternative Mix], "One Life's Enough" [Pete vocal], "Dangerous" [1997 Unedited Mix]


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Live At The Budokan Arena Tokyo 1983
Deluxe Edition

Back in 2001, I reviewed ensŏ' kai (an earlier release of the same show) and wrote:

In 1983, Asia was set for a mini-tour of Japan with an MTV broadcast ("Asia In Asia"). Prior to the show, bassist/vocalist/songwriter John Wetton was fired and replaced with Carl Palmer's former ELP partner Greg Lake. This album (the title is the phonetic spelling of the Japanese word for "concert") captures the broadcast version of the show. The band sounds tight, but Lake's voice really doesn't fit the material as well as Wetton's. For completists only.

The 2001 ensŏ' kai release of the "Asia In Asia" concert (as well as the numerous other packages of the same show) omits the first song from the broadcast ("Time Again") as well as the un-broadcast the two-song encore. The deluxe edition of Live At The Budokan Arena Tokyo 1983 gives the show a complete release in a lavish box set. It includes the original concert with remastered sound on double vinyl, the full show on CD as well as the show from the day before (recorded as a "safety" in case anything went wrong with the live simulcast), a Blu-ray of the broadcast version of the show as well as the different version of the video that was originally released on LaserDisc, a book, and some tchotchkes. Frustratingly, there's no simple CD/Blu-ray edition. You can get a single CD of the show, a double-vinyl release of the show, or the box set with everything. So, if you want the video, you need to spring for the box set. Oh, and despite several pre-release articles saying otherwise, the Blu-ray does not contain the "Road To Budokan" documentary that MTV aired before the show back in 1983.

Giving the show a fresh listen, I think I've softened my opinion a bit on Greg Lake's voice with Asia. Always liked him with ELP, and it's weird not hearing John Wetton sing these songs, but Lake does a better job than I originally gave him credit for. The set is still probably mainly for the completists and hardcore fans, but it's a very nice package. Plus, the only other official releases of Asia's early concerts are on "official bootlegs", and the sound here is way better.

tracks (for both live CDs): "Time Again", "The Heat Goes On", "Here Comes The Feeling", "Eye To Eye", "Sketches In The Sun", "Only Time Will Tell", "Open Your Eyes", "Ihiri - The Setting Sun / Bolero", "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes", "Wildest Dreams", "Carl Palmer Solo", "Heat Of The Moment", "Sole Survivor", "Cutting It Fine", "Daylight"

Blu-ray contents: Asia In Asia - Complete Concert and LaserDisc Release version.

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The Beatles
Get Back: The Rooftop Performance

Thanks, Mo. - Paul McCartney
I would like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition - John Lennon

As part of my review of last year's deluxe edition of Let It Be I wrote:

What the set does not include: The rooftop concert. This one shocks me the most. The whole point of the original Get Back project was to write new material and rehearse for a one-off live concert. Granted, the rooftop of Apple Corps wasn't the original plan, but it is the final live performance by the band. The 5th CD is the set is very short, and there would have been plenty of room. Yes, I know some of the rooftop songs made the official album, and I get that they play several songs twice in a short performance, but it would've been nice to have a complete performance recording. Really can't fathom this one, unless there's a plan for a separate release of just this show as a tie-in with the series.

So, apparently there was a plan for this. In January, the rooftop performance was released in theaters as an IMAX film, and as a streaming-only soundtrack. An edited version of the performance was used in the original Let It Be film, and that certainly grabbed the highlights. The full concert has more of the feel of the Get Back sessions with multiple takes of the same song and bits of chatter in between. It's got a casual, loose feel that's miles away from the Beatles touring years. It's a great listen, and I remain puzzled as to why a physical release wasn't made. Go check it out.

tracks: "Get Back" [take 1], "Get Back" [take 2], "Don't Let Me Down" [take 1], "I've Got A Feeling" [take 1], "One After 909", "Dig A Pony", "God Save The Queen", "I've Got A Feeling" [take 2], "Don't Let Me Down" [take 2], "Get Back" [take 3]

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The Hold Steady
Live In Seattle 8-16-19
Live In Chicago 8-23-19
Live In Nashville 9-6-19
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The Hold Steady
Live In London 3-7-20
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The Hold Steady
Live In Denver 6-16-22 Live In Toronto 5-4-22 Live In Nashville 6-3-22 Live In Atlanta 6-4-22 Live In Los Angeles 9-9-22

This year's crop of official bootlegs go back to pre-COVID days, including a show from the London residency that happened right before everything went sideways. The London show has a teaser for the then-unreleased Open Door Policy with an early version of "The Feelers". As always: name your own price and they're all great. The Hold Steady's tour manager suffered a stroke recently, and the money raised from these releases (and all older Hold Steady Bandcamp releases) is going to help his family's medical bills. As a result, the band seems to be issuing more of the official bootlegs and releasing them faster.

The final show issued for 2022, Live In Los Angeles 9-9-22, includes two previews of the next Hold Steady album: "Carlos Is Crying" and "Sideways Skull", so if you're looking for just one show, that one's a good one to grab.

Live In Seattle 8-16-19: "Denver Haircut", "Sequestered In Memphis", "Traditional Village", "Chips Ahoy!", "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You", "Party Pit", "The Swish", "One For The Cutters", "Entitlement Crew", "Banging Camp", "First Night", "Constructive Summer", "Hot Soft Light", "T-Shirt Tux", "Knuckles", "Ask Her For Adderall", "Stuck Between Stations", "Massive Nights", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "How A Resurrection Really Feels", "Certain Songs", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Southtown Girls", "Killer Parties"

Live In Chicago 8-23-19: "Hornets! Hornets!", "Stuck Between Stations", "The Swish", "Ask Her For Adderall", "Traditional Village", "Party Pit", "Stevie Nix", "Multitude Of Casualties", "Magazines", "Entitlement Crew", "Citrus", "Knuckles", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Confusion In The Marketplace", "Chips Ahoy!", "Sequestered In Memphis", "Star 18", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "Massive Nights", "Southtown Girls", "The Sweet Part Of The City", "Constructive Summer", "Stay Positive", "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night", "Killer Parties"

Live In Nashville 9-6-19: "Hornets! Hornets!", "Barfruit Blues", "Entitlement Crew", "Magazines", "Stevie Nix", "Multitude Of Casualties", "Traditional Village", "Party Pit", "On With The Business", "Sequestered In Memphis", "Blackout Sam", "Cattle And The Creeping Things", "Stuck Between Stations", "Girls Like Status", "Constructive Summer", "Hurricane J", "Star 18", "Massive Nights", "Stay Positive", "Slapped Actress", "Certain Songs", "Chips Ahoy!", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "Killer Parties"

Live In London 3-7-20: "Stuck Between Stations", "The Swish", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Stevie Nix", "Multitude Of Casualties", "Party Pit", "T-Shirt Tux", "Sequestered In Memphis", "Esther", "Entitlement Crew", "Lord, I'm Discouraged", "Yeah Sapphire", "On With The Business", "Chips Ahoy!", "Constructive Summer", "Hot Soft Light", "Banging Camp", "Massive Nights", "Southtown Girls", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "How A Resurrection Really Feels", "The Feelers", "Confusion In The Marketplace", "Hostile, Mass.", "Killer Parties"

Live In Denver 6-16-22: "Denver Haircut", "The Swish", "Stuck Between Stations", "Hurricane J", "Lanyards", "Stevie Nix", "Multitude Of Casualties", "Spices", "Party Pit", "Sequestered In Memphis", "The Sweet Part Of The City", "Yeah Sapphire", "Navy Sheets", "Entitlement Crew", "Family Farm", "Blackout Sam", "The Weekenders", "Chips Ahoy!", "Massive Nights", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "Southtown Girls", "First Night", "Constructive Summer", "You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came To The Dance With)", "Killer Parties"

Live In Toronto 5-4-22: "Positive Jam", "The Swish", "Cattle And The Creeping Things", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Sequestered In Memphis", "Hurricane J", "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You", "You Did Good Kid", "Heavy Covenant", "Stuck Between Stations", "Navy Sheets", "First Night", "Entitlement Crew", "Traditional Village", "Party Pit", "Joke About Jamaica", "Unpleasant Breakfast", "Constructive Summer", "Hot Soft Light", "Massive Nights", "Southtown Girls", "The Feelers", "Chips Ahoy!", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "Killer Parties"

Live In Nashville 6-3-22: "Stuck Between Stations", "Cattle And The Creeping Things", "Party Pit", "Lanyards", "You Did Good Kid", "Sequestered In Memphis", "One For The Cutters", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Family Farm", "Chips Ahoy!", "Lord, I'm Discouraged", "Yeah Sapphire", "The Swish", "Entitlement Crew", "On With The Business", "Blackout Sam", "Constructive Summer", "Confusion In The Marketplace", "Massive Nights", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "Southtown Girls", "Both Crosses", "Ask Her For Adderall", "How A Resurrection Really Feels", "Killer Parties"

Live In Atlanta 6-4-22: "Hornets! Hornets!", "Constructive Summer", "Hot Soft Light", "Spices", "Magazines", "Stevie Nix", "Multitude Of Casualties", "Sequestered In Memphis", "Heavy Covenant", "T-Shirt Tux", "First Night", "Stuck Between Stations", "Unpleasant Breakfast", "Banging Camp", "Chips Ahoy!", "The Prior Procedure", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "Most People Are DJs", "Stay Positive", "Massive Nights", "Slapped Actress", "The Feelers", "Entitlement Crew", "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night", "Killer Parties"

Live In Los Angeles 9-9-22: "Stuck Between Stations", "The Swish", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Party Pit", "Carlos Is Crying", "Lanyards", "Ask Her For Adderall", "Sequestered In Memphis", "Chips Ahoy", "Entitlement Crew", "Lord, I'm Discouraged", "The Weekenders", "Unpleasant Breakfast", "Hurricane J", "Knuckles", "Blackout Sam", "Constructive Summer", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend", "Southtown Girls", "Stay Positive", "Most People Are DJ's", "The Feelers", "Massive Nights", "Sideways Skull", "Killer Parties"

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The Mothers
The Mothers 1971

Remember what happened last time we played this. - Howard Kaylan
Yeah, I know. - Frank Zappa

The Mothers 1970, released in 2020, documented the beginnings of the Flo & Eddie edition of The Mothers. The Mothers 1971 is both a document of the end of that lineup and a super-deluxe edition of their most famous (or infamous) album.

Fillmore East - June 1971 was culled from the band's late shows on June 5 & 6 and emphasized the infamous "groupie routine" from the two late shows, the result seeming more like a comedy album than a live album. The Mothers 1971 includes both the early and late shows from both dates and this changes the feel dramatically, giving the shows more balance than you would have expected. For starters, I'd always assumed "Peaches En Regalia" and "Tears Began To Fall" were the encores based on how Fillmore East - June 1971 is sequenced. Turns out, they're the opening songs of each show. Following those two, The Mothers pull in a few songs from the then-unreleased 200 Motels and a handful of earlier songs. The centerpiece of all four shows was the 30-minute "Billy The Mountain", a mix of comedy, music, and a long, winding story about Billy and his wife Ethel, who is a tree growing out of his shoulder. It's both charming silliness and a bit of political commentary mixed into one. The "groupie routine" that makes up a big chunk of the two late shows has aged badly, with Frank's smutty sense of humor badly dated. The June 6 late show also includes the famous encore with John & Yoko that Frank had previously released on Playground Psychotics. It mainly remains a curio - Frank and John jam together well, but the performance is dominated by Yoko's then-standard caterwauling which ruins much of the performance.

On December 4, 1971, "Frank Zappa and The Mothers were at the best place around, but some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground." The lyric is true: Frank's "Beat The Boots" release of Swiss Cheese / Fire! documents that show and the fire that started during the band's rendition of "King Kong". Deep Purple got an all-timer out of it, but Frank and The Mothers lost all their equipment and had a show to do less than a week later in London. Despite using rented equipment and issues with the mixing that you hear discussed, the Rainbow Theatre show is really solid. Highlights from the show have been released on several other albums, but The Mothers 1971 is the first complete release of the show. "Billy The Mountain" and the "groupie routine" were gone, replaced by two songs from Frank's "Divan" suite ("Once Upon A Time" and "Sofa No. 1") and a larger selection of older numbers. After reluctantly starting their encore with "King Kong" (and Howard Kaylan's comment above), the band performs a surprising cover of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and ends the show. As the band is leaving, tragedy struck for the second time in two shows. A man jumped on the stage as the band was leaving and shoved Frank into the orchestra pit 12 feet below, leaving him wheelchair bound for a year and with a voice a third of an octave lower. While laid up, Frank switched to writing his jazz albums Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo, and this version of The Mothers was finished.

The box also includes a "hybrid show" from dates just before the Fillmore shows, taking the main set from Harrisburg and the encore from Scranton. The set offers a few changes from the Fillmore setlists, and it's a nice addition. Additionally, the box includes the A & B of the "Tears About To Fall" single, and some radio spots.

Overall, any recommendation comes down to whether you're a fan of the divisive "Flo & Eddie" era. If you are, you should hear this. The band was much better than you'd realize from only hearing the Fillmore album, and there's some great stuff on here. If you're not a fan, I'm not sure the box offers enough to change your mind. I mean, I like "Billy The Mountain", but five versions on the same box set is a little much. I broke it up and listened to it show by show rather than in one big session, and that made it much more enjoyable.

tracks (Fillmore East, June 5, 1971 - Show 1): "Peaches En Regalia", "Tears Began To Fall", "She Painted Up Her Face / Half A Dozen Provocative Squats / Shove It Right In", "Status Back Baby", "Concentration Moon" [Part 1], "The Sanzini Brothers" [Sodomy Trick], "Concentration Moon" [Part 2], "Mom & Dad", "Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra", "Billy The Mountain", "King Kong"

tracks (Fillmore East, June 5, 1971 - Show 2): "Peaches En Regalia", "Tears Began To Fall", "She Painted Up Her Face / Half A Dozen Provocative Squats / Shove It Right In", "Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra", "Billy The Mountain", "Little House I Used To Live In", "The Mud Shark", "What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?", "Bwana Dik", "Latex Solar Beef", "Willie The Pimp", "Do You Like My New Car?", "Happy Together", "Any Chord Of Your Choice", "King Kong" [Part 1], "Lonesome Electric Turkey", "King Kong" [Part 2]

tracks (Fillmore East, June 6, 1971 - Show 1): "Fillmore Improvisation", "Peaches En Regalia", "Tears Began To Fall", "She Painted Up Her Face / Half A Dozen Provocative Squats / Shove It Right In", "Status Back Baby", "Concentration Moon" [Part 1], "The Sanzini Brothers" [Sodomy Trick], "Concentration Moon" [Part 2], "Mom & Dad", "The Story Of Billy The Mountain", "Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra", "Billy The Mountain", "Chunga's Revenge",

tracks (Fillmore East, June 6, 1971 - Show 2): "Herd Of Cattle", "Peaches En Regalia", "Tears Began To Fall", "She Painted Up Her Face / Half A Dozen Provocative Squats / Shove It Right In", "The Story Of Billy The Mountain", "Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra", "Billy The Mountain", "Conglomerate Assembly", "Little House I Used To Live In", "The Mud Shark", "What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?", "Bwana Dik", "Latex Solar Beef", "Willie The Pimp", "Do You Like My New Car?", "Happy Together"

tracks (Fillmore East, June 6, 1971 - Show 2 Encore with John & Yoko): "Well", "Say Please", "King Kong", "Aaawk", "Scumbag", "A Small Eternity With Yoko Ono"

tracks (Bonus Tracks): "Homemade Radio Spot", "Tears Began To Fall" [Single Version], "Junier Mintz Boogie" [Live], "Homemade Radio Spot Outtakes"

tracks (Bonus Hybrid Concert): "Peaches En Regalia", "Tears Began To Fall", "She Painted Up Her Face / Half A Dozen Provocative Squats / Shove It Right In", "Status Back Baby", "Concentration Moon" [Part 1], "The Sanzini Brothers" [Burning Hoop Trick], "Concentration Moon" [Part 2], "Mom & Dad", "My Boyfriend's Back", "Tiny Sick Tears", "Call Any Vegetable", "The Story Of Billy The Mountain", "Intro To Music For Low Budget Orchestra", "Billy The Mountain", "Willie The Pimp", "King King" [outro]

tracks (Rainbow Theatre, London, December 10, 1971): "Zanti Serenade", "Peaches En Regalia", "Tears Began To Fall", "She Painted Up Her Face / Half A Dozen Provocative Squats / Shove It Right In", "Pain In The Ass", "Divan: Once Upon A Time", "Divan: Sofa No. 1", "A Pound For A Brown (On The Bus)" [Part 1], "Super Grease", "A Pound For A Brown (On The Bus)" [Part 2], "Sleeping In A Jar", "Wonderful Wino", "Sharleena", "Cruising For Burgers", "That's Your Tough Luck", "King Kong", "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Live At The Fillmore - 1997
4 CD Edition

We all feel this might be the high point of our time together as a group. It's going to be hard to get us off this stage tonight. - Tom Petty

In 1997, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers held a staggering 20-night residency at The Fillmore in San Francisco. During the residency, the band played a mix of hits, deep cuts and covers. Six of the shows were recorded professionally, and the deluxe 4 CD edition collects 58 songs (including 35 covers) taken from those shows. The band's own hits are thoroughly represented and sound amazing, but it's the covers, rarities, and guest appearances that make the set special. The band plays rarities like the first song the band recorded ("On The Street"), the first live performance of a silly-but-fun 80's b-side ("Heartbreakers Beach Party") and a tongue-in-cheek new song from Mike Campbell ("The Date I Had With That Ugly Old Homecoming Queen"). The covers lean towards the band's influences with 50's and 60's classics like Check Berry's "Around And Around" and what seems like an accidental mashup of "Johnny B. Goode" and "Bye Bye Johnny", Little Richard's "Lucille" and "Rip It Up", Booker T. & The MG's "Green Onions" and "Hip Hug-Her", Bo Diddley's "Diddy Wah Diddy", The Kinks' "You Really Got Me", and The Rolling Stones "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Roger McGuinn joins the band for a few Byrds covers, including a great take on "Eight Miles High". John Lee Hooker comes along as well and The Heartbreakers mesh with him perfectly.

There are a few overlaps between this set and 2009's The Live Anthology, but this is a great companion piece to that set. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were one of the best live bands ever, and this album shows them at their peak - superb playing and with a playful spirit.

tracks: "Around And Around", "Jammin' Me", "Runnin' Down A Dream", "Lucille", "Call Me The Breeze", "Cabin Down Below", "The Internet", "Time Is On My Side", "Listen To Her Heart", "Waitin' In School", "Slaughter", "On Tenth Avenue", "The Date I Had With That Ugly Old Homecoming Queen", "I Won't Back Down", "You Are My Sunshine", "Ain't No Sunshine", "It's Good To Be King", "Rip It Up", "You Don't Know How It Feels", "I'd Like To Love You Baby", "Diddy Wah Diddy", "Guitar Boogie Shuffle", "I Want You Back Again", "On The Street", "California", "Little Maggie", "Walls", "Hip Hug-Her", "Friend Of The Devil", "Heartbreakers Beach Party", "Angel Dream", "The Wild One", "Forever", "Even The Losers", "American Girl", "You Really Got Me", "Goldfinger", "It Won't Be Wrong", "You Ain't Going Nowhere", "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man", "Eight Miles High", "Crazy Mama", "Green Onions", "High Heel Sneakers", "Find My Baby (Locked Up In Love Again)", "Serves You Right To Suffer", "Boogie Chillen", "I Got A Woman", "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", "Honey Bee", "County Farm", "You Wreck Me", "Shakin' All Over", "Free Fallin'", "Mary Jane's Last Dance", "Bye Bye Johnny", "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", "It's All Over Now", "Louie Louie", "Gloria", "Alright For Now"

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Richard Thompson Acoustic Trio
Live From Honolulu

Recorded in 2006 with bassist Danny Thompson (no relation) and drummer Michael Jerome, Live From Honolulu gives a Richard Thompson acoustic performance the flair of his dazzling electric work. The songs get stretched out, and RT indulges his taste for guitar heroics along the way on songs like the eight-minute "Crawl Back (Under My Stone)" and his classic "Shoot Out The Lights". The album also includes a previously unreleased song, the playful jazz-pop of "Hots For The Smarts". A must.

tracks: "Mingus Eyes", "Ghosts In The Wind", "Crawl Back (Under My Stone)", "Dad's Gonna Kill Me", "Hots For The Smarts", "Bathsheba Smiles", "Al Bowlly's In Heaven", "Johnny's Far Away", "Waltzing's For Dreamers", "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight", "I Misunderstood", "Shoot Out The Lights", "One Door Opens"

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Frank Zappa

Zappa/Erie collects three shows from the greater Erie, Pennsylania area recorded in the mid-seventies. Zappa's lineup from '73 & '74 became famous as his Roxy & Elsewhere band, although some lineup changes happened along the way. In April and May, Zappa changed the set list quite a bit to commemorate the 10th anniversary of The Mothers. The first two shows, May 1974 in Edinboro and November 1974 just 25 miles north in Erie, show the differences in the set lists. The May show has a jazzier feel, makes great use of his excellent horn section, and makes a run through a bunch of early Mothers material. The November show captures a more standard Roxy & Elsewhere era show, including a lightning fast run through the "Village Of The Sun" / "Echidna's Arf (Of You)" / "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" medley from Roxy & Elsewhere.

The third show, from Erie in 1976, shows a completely different lineup and is the second show Zappa's released from keyboardist/vocalist Lady Bianca's brief run in the band. By this point, Zappa's transitioning away from the jazz-rock of the previous tour and bringing more guitar-driven rock, including showcase songs like "Pound For A Brown" and an eighteen-minute run through "Black Napkins" that also features improvisational vocals from Lady Bianca and a lengthy section for Eddie Jobson on violin. Frank also mixes in a cover of 1950's R&B hit "Stranded In The Jungle" (originally recorded by both The Jayhawks and by The Cadets) and early versions of songs that would eventually appear on 1979's Sheik Yerbouti ("Tryin' To Grow A Chin", "City Of Tiny Lites").

Zappa/Erie is an unusual compilation, and the three shows are quite different from one another. However, they're all excellent so I suppose it doesn't actually matter.

tracks (Edinboro, PA 5-08-1974): "Someone Has Just Asked Me…", "Cosmik Debris", "Pygmy Twylyte", "The Idiot Bastard Son", "Cheepnis", "Inca Roads", "Montana", "Dupree's Paradise" [intro], "Dupree's Paradise", "It Can't Happen Here", "Hungry Freaks, Daddy", "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here", "How Could I Be Such A Fool", "I Ain't Got No Heart", "I'm Not Satisfied", "Wowie Zowie", "Let's Make The Water Turn Black", "Harry, You're A Beast", "The Orange County Lumber Truck", "Oh No", "Son Of Orange County", "More Trouble Every Day", "Camarillo Brillo"

bonus tracks (South Bend, IN 5-12-1974): "Montana", "Get Down"

tracks (Erie, PA 11-12-1974): "Tush Tush Tush (A Token Of My Extreme)", "Stink-Foot", "RDNZL", "Village Of The Sun", "Echidna's Arf (Of You)", "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?", "Penguin In Bondage", "T'Mershi Duween", "The Dog Breath Variations", "Uncle Meat", "Building A Girl", "Dinah Moe Humm", "I'm Not Satisfied", "Montana", "Dupree's Paradise" [intro], "Dupree's Paradise", "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow", "Tush Tush Tush (A Token Of My Extreme)" [end vamp], "Oh No", "Son Of Orange County", "More Trouble Every Day",

tracks (Erie, PA 11-12-1976): "The Purple Lagoon", "Stink-Foot", "The Poodle Lecture", "Dirty Love", "Wind Up Workin' In A Gas Station", "Tryin' To Grow A Chin", "The Torture Never Stops", "City Of Tiny Lites", "Pound For A Brown", "You Didn't Try To Call Me", "Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink", "Would You Go All The Way?", "Black Napkins", "Terry's Erie '76 Solo", "Patrick's Erie '76 Solo", "Wonderful Wino", "The Purple Lagoon" [outro], "Stranded In The Jungle", "Dinah Moe Humm", "The Purple Lagoon" [outro], "Camarillo Brillo", "Muffin Man", "The Purple Lagoon" [outro]

bonus tracks (Montréal, QC 11-12-1976 & Toledo, OH 11-13-1976): "You Didn't Try To Call Me", "Black Napkins", "The Purple Lagoon" [outro]

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Frank Zappa
Zappa '75: Zagreb/Ljubljana

Zappa '75: Zagreb/Ljubljana captures a short-lived lineup of Zappa's band on his only two concerts in Yugoslavia. The album combines the best performances from each to make a single show (with a few bonus tracks). The sound is not as good as Zappa's usual standard, but it's quite listenable and has several interesting highlights. This is one of Frank's more guitar-heavy bands, so you get long versions of "Black Napkins" and "Zoot Allures" as well as a nearly 20-minute version of "Chunga's Revenge" which features some cool back and forth between Zappa's guitar and Norma Jean Bell on sax (who was in Frank's band for less than two months). If you're a fan of the Zoot Allures album, don't sweat the sound. You'll really enjoy this.

tracks: "Managua", "Stink-Foot", "The Poodle Lecture", "Dirty Love", "How Could I Be Such A Fool", "I Ain't Got No Heart", "I'm Not Satisfied", "Black Napkins", "Advance Romance", "Honey, Don't You Want A Man Like Me?", "The Illinois Enema Bandit", "Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy", "Lonely Little Girl", "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance", "What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?", "Chunga's Revenge" [part I], "Chunga's Revenge" [part II], "Terry's Zagreb Solo", "Zoot Allures", "Filthy Habits" [prototype], "Camarillo Brillo", "Muffin Man", "I'm The Slime", "San Ber'dino"

bonus tracks: "Wind Up Workin' In A Gas Station" [prototype], "Terry's Ljubljana Solo", "Zoot Allures"


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Arc Of Life
Don't Look Down

The debut album from Yes spinoff Arc Of Life mixed pop like "You Make It Real" with a couple of longer, proggier pieces. For the second album, the focus has shifted to the prog end of the scale and the result feels more like a new Yes album, albeit without Steve Howe's distinctive guitar. Billy Sherwood's trebly bass still evokes Chris Squire's sound, and Jon Davison's vocals will remind you of Jon Anderson. Overall, a very nice follow up.

tracks: "Real Time World", "Don't Look Down", "All Things Considered", "Colors Come Alive", "Let Live", "Arc Of Life"

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Adrian Belew

Adrian Belew's latest, Elevator, follows up 2019's Pop Sided with Belew again playing all the instruments and keeping his basic sound in place. The album opens with the urgent "A13", which merges Belew's effect-laden guitar with a song about riding a train and subtle references to the pandemic. "The Power Of The Natural World" is simple, elegant pop. "You Can't Lie To Yourself" adds a lovely (presumably synthesized) string sound into a lovely Belew ballad. "The Saturday Morning Roar Of The Lawn Mowers" mixes a synthy melody that could have been a King Crimson song if you replaced the synth with Robert Fripp's guitar. "Back To Love" mixes a piano line reminiscent of The Beatles' "Hey Bulldog" with Belew experimenting like crazy over the top. The album closes with the gentle (and playful) "70 Going On 17". It's charming, and it shows the 72-year-old's voice and guitar chops haven't aged a bit. Like Pop Sided, Elevator is a great collision of classic pop and weird experimental music.

tracks: "A13", "A Car I Can Talk To", "Backwards And Upside Down", "The Power Of The Natural World", "Good Morning Sun!", "You Can't Lie To Yourself", "The Saturday Morning Roar Of The Lawn Mowers", "Attitude", "Taking My Shoes Out For A Walk", "Back To Love", "Beauty", "70 Going On 17"

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John Doe
Fables In A Foreign Land

John Doe's solo career has frequently taken a folky turn, but on Fables In A Foreign Land Doe goes all the way in. The liner notes credit "The John Doe Folk Trio" with Doe on acoustic guitar backed by a standup bassist and drummer. The album also mixes in a little violin and accordion along the way. "Never Coming Back" and "Destroying Angels" are the two least folky tracks on the album, and they're my two favorites. The rest of the album is quite good though, and Doe's powerful voice sounds as good as ever.

tracks: "Never Coming Back", "Down South", "See The Almighty", "Guilty Bystander", "There's A Black Horse", "El Romance-O", "Missouri", "The Cowboy And The Hot Air Balloon", "After The Fall", "Destroying Angels", "Travelin' So Hard", "Sweetheart", "Where The Songbirds Live"

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John Entwistle
Rarities Oxhumed: Volume One

I was very excited when I heard about this album but was disappointed by the contents. I was hoping for rarities from across John's solo career, but instead the album is only focused on John's last project, The John Entwistle Band. The first five songs are simply taken from the band's lone studio album, Music From Van-Pires. It's a very good album, but I wouldn't call them "rarities". There are two studio demos from John's partner on the project, drummer Steve Luongo. John does play on both demos, and the songs are not bad, but I would have expected demos written by John. There are three live songs, and all are quite good.

The three highlights, and the real "rarities" on the album, are alternate versions of "Left For Dead" and "Don't Be A Sucker" and the previously unreleased "I Wouldn't Sleep With You". "Left For Dead" was a highlight of Music From Van-Pires, and this version is a minute longer with different lyrics. "I Wouldn't Sleep With You" is vintage Entwistle: a hard rock song with typically dark lyrics. The original album was a tie-in with a show aimed at kids, so the original lyrics of "Left For Dead" and "I Wouldn't Sleep With You" were probably dropped as a result. "Don't Be A Sucker" is sung by Steve Luongo in this version, instead of the guest vocal from Leslie West on the officially released version.

Seems to me that the three alternate versions could have simply been made part of a reissue of Music From Van-Pires and would have made much more sense. If you're a fan of Music From Van-Pires, you'll enjoy the alternate versions. If you're a fan of Entwistle's solo career in general, "I Wouldn't Sleep With You" is one you really need to hear.

tracks: "Bogey Man", "Darker Side Of Night", "I'll Try Again Today", "When You See The Light", "Back On The Road", "Left For Dead" [alternate version], "I Wouldn't Sleep With You", "Don't Be A Sucker", "Life Goes On" [demo] - Steve Luongo with John Entwistle, "Where Ya Going Now" [demo] - Steve Luongo with John Entwistle, "Trick Of The Light" [live], "Under A Raging Moon" [live], "Shakin' All Over" [live]

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Bruce Foxton & Russell Hastings
The Butterfly Effect

The first two albums of original songs from ex-Jam bassist Bruce Foxton's tribute band, From The Jam, were credited simply to him. For the third album, the billing now includes lead singer Russell Hastings, but the sound is very similar. There are still echoes of the latter-day Jam here on songs like "Time On Your Side", but Hastings' voice and the song selection reminds me more of Jam leader Paul Weller's solo career. "Walking With Me", "Feet Off The Ground" are soulful pop, "She Said" is catchy guitar pop, and in the way The Jam's "Start" lifted the riff from The Beatles "Taxman", "Electronic Lover" lifts "Come Together" enough that John Lennon should get a co-write. Overall, the songs are terrific, and a step up from Smash The Clock.

tracks: "Electronic Lover", "Feet Off The Ground", "Lula", "She Said", "Wanted", "Circles", "Time On Your Side", "Two Of Us", "Rain", "Too Old To Cry, Too Young To Die", "Walking With Me", "Anything You Want"

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Andy Partridge
My Failed Songwriting Career, Volume 2
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Andy Partridge
My Failed Christmas Career, Volume 1

The second and third in a series of EPs capturing XTC's Andy Partridge's failed effort to become a songwriter for other artists are just as brilliant as the first. The second "Songwriting" EP picks up where Volume 1 left off. "Seesaw" could have been an XTC single with its unusual rhythm and loud guitar. "Let's Make Everything Love" is jazzy piano pop: out-of-character, but catchy as hell. "Come On Back" is acoustic guitar driven indie pop, and another one that could've been an XTC song. "Love Is The Future" couples a pure pop with a exotic drum part that seems to clash, but somehow still works.

The third in the series, My Failed Christmas Career, Volume 1, collects Christmas songs written for other acts, and in this case one of the songs was actually released. "Let There Be Snow" is super catchy, perky Christmas pop and smells like something that should have been a hit. "Through This Winter World" has a bit of a country flavor and would have been perfect for harmony vocals. "Cool Yule" has a more soulful feel with a little social commentary in the lyrics. "Unwrap You At Christmas" was requested as a "Spector-esque" song for a female singer, so Andy has his daughter Holly take the lead vocal (she does a terrific job). That's the song that was released and The Monkees ended up being the ones to record it.

I was thrilled that more volumes came out. These EPs are a lot of fun.

tracks (My Failed Songwriting Career, Volume 2): "Seesaw", "Let's Make Everything Love", "Come On Back", "Love Is The Future"

tracks (My Failed Christmas Career, Volume 1): "Let There Be Snow", "Through This Winter World", "Cool Yule", "Unwrap You At Christmas"

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Pink Floyd featuring Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox
Hey Hey Rise Up

"Hey Hey Rise Up" reuintes David Gilmour and Nick Mason for the first Pink Floyd release since 2014. The vocals use an a capella performance of the Ukranian patriotic song "Oh, The Red Viburnum In The Meadow" performed by Andriy Khlyvnyuk in an empty square in Kyiv. Khlyvnyuk left his band BoomBox on tour to go fight for his country. Gilmour took that vocal and arranged the song for the band, including a powerful guitar solo. Gilmour and Mason are joined by long time Floyd touring bassist Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards. Clearly not a full reunion, "Hey Hey Rise Up" is Gilmour using the Pink Floyd name to raise awareness of the war in Ukraine. It's a worthy cause and a terrific song.

tracks: "Hey Hey Rise Up"

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The Police
Around The World: Restored & Expanded

Around The World, originally released in 1982, was part travelogue and part concert video, made up of a mix of behind-the-scenes home movie footage shot by drummer Stewart Copeland and live footage from the Police's first world tour in 1980 (with some 1981 footage added). It was goofy and occasionally cringy, but also showed electric live footage of the early Police. Long out of print, the film has been "restored" by cleaning it up to HD quality and "expanded" by adding clips of four complete live songs that were only partially shown in the original movie.

Along with the movie, you get a live album taken from several dates on that world tour and the band sounds amazing. You get a few rarities like "Deathwish" and "Visions Of The Night", along with a long "Can't Stand Losing You" (that includes "Reggatta de Blanc") and energetic versions of their early hits "Roxanne" and "Message In A Bottle".

Full disclosure for those who have seen the original VHS version. While the picture has been cleaned up there have been a number of edits as well - including the removal of the live version of "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da". If you've never seen the original, you won't know what you're missing, and the film is still very enjoyable. But if you want the details, see this page on ThePoliceWiki for the specifics.

tracks: "Walking On The Moon", "Next To You", "Deathwish", "So Lonely", "Can't Stand Losing You", "Truth Hits Everybody", "Visions Of The Night", "Roxanne", "Born In The 50's", "Message In A Bottle", "Bring On The Night"

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Lou Reed
I'm So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos

Originally a "copyright dump" release, I'm So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos appeared for a few days on UK iTunes around Christmas of 2021 and promptly vanished a few days later. It showed again as a limited-edition vinyl release in April of 2022 as a Record Store Day exclusive. The album is an interesting collection of demos with just Reed on guitar and vocals. The album collects demos for each of the songs on Reed's solo debut, a bunch of demos for songs that would end up on his breakthrough album, Transformer, and a handful of others. If you can get a copy, it's worth a listen.

tracks: "Perfect Day" [takes 1 & 2], "I'm So Free", "Wild Child", "I'm Sticking With You" [take 2], "Lisa Says", "Going Down" [take 2], "I Love You", "New York Telephone Conversation", "She's My Best Friend", "Kill Your Sons", "Berlin", "Ocean" [takes 1 & 2], "Ride Into The Sun" [take 2], "Hangin' Around" [take 2], "Love Makes You Feel" [take 2], "I Can't Stand It", "Walk It And Talk It"

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Lou Reed
Words & Music, May 1965

'I'm Waitin' For The Man', words and music Lou Reed.

On May 11, 1965, Lou Reed recorded a tape with ten demos with help from future Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale. He mailed the tape to himself as a "poor man's copyright" and stashed it away. It remained unopened until now. Each song begins with Reed reading the title with "words and music Lou Reed" added to establish his authorship. And the songs that appear afterwards are a mix of styles, from the sea shanty feel of "Buttercup Song" to the driving "Buzz Buzz Buzz" and "Stockpile", to simple sketches of three VU classics, "I'm Waiting For The Man", "Heroin", and "Pale Blue Eyes". Oh, and "Men On Good Fortune" is not the same song that Reed released on his Berlin album. The album is fascinating listening. Hearing Reed's voice over such simple, folky songs is a real treat. And it was quite a surprise to hear John Cale take the lead vocal on "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams". The tape was quite a find, and in theory, the beginning of a series of archival releases. Should be very interesting to hear what else is in the vault.

The CD and cassette editions of the album add a slate of older, less polished material that ranges from a 1958 rehearsal to home recordings from 1963 and 1964. The older material is very short: "Lou's 12-Bar Instrumental" is a 30-second guitar piece, the rest are just a bit over a minute long. They're interesting to hear, but they don't compare to the main set of demos. The CD/cassette version is really for the Reed completists.

tracks: "I'm Waiting For The Man", "Men Of Good Fortune", "Heroin", "Too Late", "Buttercup Song", "Walk Alone", "Buzz Buzz Buzz", "Pale Blue Eyes", "Stockpile", "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams"

CD & cassette bonus tracks: "I'm Waiting For The Man" [Alternate Version], "Gee Whiz" [1958 Rehearsal], "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" [1963/64 Home Recording], "Michael, Row The Boat Ashore" [1963/64 Home Recording], "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" [1963/64 Home Recording], "W & X, Y, Z Blues" [1963/64 Home Recording] "Lou's 12-Bar Instrumental' [1963/64 Home Recording]

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Amy Rigby
Cut & Run

An interim, Bandcamp-only release, Cut & Run collects a handful of new solo recordings. A mix of covers and work-in-progress songs are included, so it's also a little sneak peek at Amy's next "proper" album release. Of the covers, Tom Petty's "Only A Broken Heart" is the standout, and "Hello Sixty" is the pick of the new songs (even though that one hits close to home). This is a release for the hard-core fans, but it's a charming one. Looking forward to the next "proper" album.

tracks: "Foot Of Pride", "Like Jean Seberg In Breathless", "Brilliant Disguise", "(Would You Be My) David Briggs", "Read The Room", "Hello Sixty", "Cut & Run", "My Back Pages", "Chasing You", "Only A Broken Heart", "Long And Wasted Years", "The Walking Wounded", "Heart Is A Muscle"

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Bruce Springsteen
Only The Strong Survive (Covers Vol. 1)

Like his 2006 album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, Only The Strong Survive has Springsteen recording a set of covers in their original style. This time around, Springsteen has recorded fifteen soul and R&B covers backed by producer Ron Aniello on most of the instruments, a string section, The E Street Horns, backing singers, and a couple of guest appearances from Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave). The originals are mostly from the 1960s, except for The Commodores "Nightshift" and The Four Tops' "When She Was My Girl". The arrangements are very faithful to the material. If you didn't recognize Springsteen's voice, you could easily believe this was recorded in the sixties. The album is excellent overall and the big highlight is "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)", although "Don't Play That Song" and "7 Rooms Of Gloom" are close. The two duets with Sam Moore are both top-notch. Their voices blend quite nicely. This is not a conventional Springsteen album, although I think some of these songs could work really well on his upcoming E Street Band tour.

tracks: "Only The Strong Survive", "Soul Days", "Nightshift", "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)", "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore", "Turn Back The Hands Of Time", "When She Was My Girl", "Hey, Western Union Man", "I Wish It Would Rain", "Don't Play That Song", "Any Other Way", "I Forgot To Be Your Lover", "7 Rooms Of Gloom", "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted", "Someday We'll Be Together"

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Pete Townshend
Somebody Saved Me:
Words + Music Vol. 27

An "Audible Original", Somebody Saved Me is two hours of Pete Townshend playing music and talking about his "middle age": the years roughly starting with Keith Moon's death in 1978 and ending with John Entwistle's death in 2002. The "words" portions are classic Townshend. He's very candid and the topics are very interesting. He didn't cover this era much in his autobiography so there are lot of surprises along the way. The "music" portions are roughly 30 minutes of all-new performances of songs from Pete's first two solo albums of that era (Empty Glass and All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes) and the first two post-Keith Who albums (Face Dances and It's Hard). The music bits are a fascinating listen. Some are very off-the-cuff and not polished. Others, like "A Little In Enough", "Somebody Saved Me", "Don't Let Go The Coat", "Eminence Front" and "You Better You Bet" are terrific reinterpretations, with "Eminence Front" getting a new spooky, synthy feel. And unlike Pete's legendary home demos, he's got a bassist and drummer guesting, so the performances feel a little more complete.

If you're a Pete Townshend or Who fan, you really need to hear this. If you have an Amazon account, you can sign in to Audible with that account, so you don't even need to "sign up" for anything. The show itself is FREE, so why are you waiting?

tracks: "Credits", "Part 1", "Let My Love Open The Door (Part 1)", "Let My Love Open The Door (Part 2)", "A Little Is Enough", "Part 2", "Rough Boys", "Part 3", "I Am An Animal", "Part 4", "Somebody Saved Me", "Part 5", "The Sea Refuses No River", "Part 6", "Don't Let Go The Coat", "Part 7", "Eminence Front", "Part 8", "Slit Skirts", "Part 9", "You Better You Bet", "End Credits"

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The Waterboys
All Souls Hill

Moscow Mitch did squat and squirm / Cruz and Hawley spat 'Stand firm!' / Their tongues were forked, one and each / When the liar was impeached

After dedicating half an album to songs with spoken words overlaid, All Souls Hill is a much more varied affair. Like the last album, the album opens with the soulful pop of "All Souls Hill", but Mike Scott follows up with a myriad of styles. "The Liar" couples jagged rock and tape effects with Scott's first really pointed political lyrics. The highlights of the album are the middle three songs: the catchy "Blackberry Girl", the dramatic ballad "Hollywood Blues", and his latest monologue song, "In My Dreams". The album ends with a real change-of-pace, the meandering nine-minute country swing of "Passing Through". It almost works, but it overstays its welcome. All Souls Hill is a bit of a mixed bag. Three of the songs are excellent, three are very good, and three less so. Overall the good ones more than outweigh the weaker tracks - it's worth a listen.

tracks: "All Souls Hill", "The Liar", "The Southern Moon", "Blackberry Girl", "Hollywood Blues", "In My Dreams", "Once Were Brothers", "Here We Go Again", "Passing Through"

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Roger Waters
The Lockdown Sessions

In 2020, Roger Waters and his band recorded remote versions of four songs that they had performed as encores during his 2017/2018 "Us + Them Tour" and released performance videos on YouTube. In 2021, two more songs were recorded that were not part of the tour but had the same general feel. "The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range" is the most different, with some updated lyrics and an extra coda. It's the highlight of the first six.

On Waters latest tour, titled "This Is Not A Drill", the show opened with a sparse, moody, and spooky version of "Comfortably Numb" that omitted the guitar heroics and just set a mood. "Comfortably Numb 2022" is a studio recording of that new version with his current touring band. It's cool, but it's a very, very different feel. The original is a classic, this is an interesting rework. It's certainly worth a listen, but it doesn't improve on the original. The YouTube version shows the video that was shown on the giant overhead screens during the performance of the song.

The Lockdown Sessions sequences the lockdown songs and the new "Comfortably Numb 2022" in the order they were released and packages them up as a digital-only release. Despite being created in small batches, the album has a very cohesive feel. I don't know if any of these versions improve on the originals, but they're all excellent and worth hearing.

tracks: "Mother", "Two Suns In The Sunset", "Vera / Bring The Boys Back Home", "The Gunner's Dream", "The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range", "Comfortably Numb 2022"

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Paul Weller
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Paul Weller
Will Of The People

A sequel to Paul Weller's 2003 rarities compilation Fly On The Wall, Will Of The People is another three-disc collection of b-sides, non-album singles, outtakes, and other rare tracks. I'm generally not a big fan of remixes, so those songs are lost on me, and some of Weller's more experimental tracks like "Mother Ethiopia" didn't move me much. However, there's way more than an album's worth of excellent songs like "Alone", "The Olde Original", "Rip The Pages Up", and "The Piper" that could have been standouts on Weller's regular albums.

Whoosh is a companion EP that came out shortly before the main box. All four songs are unique to this EP, and it's excellent. "Birth Of An Accidental Hipster" is Weller's solo version of a cowrite between Weller and Noel Gallagher that was submitted (and recorded) for the last Monkees album, and it's great. "Whoosh" is an early version of "Woo Sé Mama" from A Kind Revolution, and this version is terrific.

Like Fly On The Wall, the box set is more for the Weller diehards. But Whoosh is a nice little EP on its own and worth a listen, even for a more casual fan.

Weirdly enough, Spotify has the EP, but not the album.

tracks (Whoosh): "Birth Of An Accidental Hipster", "Room 309", "Be Happy Children" [demo], "Whoosh"

tracks (Will Of The People): "The Piper", "Into The Sea", "Big Brass Buttons", "Super Lekker Stoned" [Richard Fearless Mix], "Saturns Pattern" [StraightFace / Young Fathers Remix], "Let Me In" [Demo], "I Spy", "Oranges and Rosewater", "Praise If You Wanna", "Mother Ethiopia, Pt. 1", "We Got A Lot", "I'll Think Of Something", "Devotion", "Sun Goes", "Alone", "Lay Down Your Weary Burden", "The Olde Original", "Pure Sound", "Landslide", "Dusk Til Dawn", "The Ballad Of Jimmy McCabe", "Rip The Pages Up", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", "Golden Leaves", "Birthday", "Serafina", "I Work In The Clouds", "Portal To The Past", "Hopper" [White Label Remix], "Cosmic Fringes" [Pet Shop Boys Triad Mix], "Alpha"

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse

In 2001, Neil Young and Crazy Horse went into a San Francisco studio named Toast to record a new album. Eventually, Young soured on the album and its depressing tone and shelved the project. As a replacement, he worked with Booker T. & The MG's and recorded the disappointing Are You Passionate?. Three of the songs from Toast were carried forward. "Quit" became "Quit (Don't Say You Love Me)", "Goin' Home" showed up as a live version, and "Boom Boom Boom" lost about four minutes and became "She's A Healer". Admittedly, I prefer Young's albums with Crazy Horse, and Toast is far, far better than its successor. The album starts out on a mellow note with the laid-back "Quit" but explodes on the next song. "Standing In The Light Of Love" is easily the best song on the album, and it's a classic Neil Young & Crazy Horse song. "Goin' Home", "Timberline" and "Gateway Of Love" keep the power (and volume up), and are almost as good as "Standing". The last two songs wind the tone down: the mellow "How Ya Doing?" is nice, but the thirteen minutes of "Boom Boom Boom" drags a bit. Even though it predates them, Toast reminds me a bit of the Crazy Horse albums recorded since Psychedelic Pill: there's moments of Neil Young & Crazy Horse at their best with some weak spots. Toast was an abandoned album, but ironically, it's more polished (and better) than the recent albums. Worth checking out.

tracks: "Quit", "Standing In The Light Of Love", "Goin' Home", "Timberline", "Gateway Of Love", "How Ya Doin'?", "Boom Boom Boom"

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse
World Record

Neil Young's third album in a row with Crazy Horse (fourth if you count the archival Toast), and like Colorado and Barn, the album is a mix of styles and has a very loose, first-take feel for a lot of the songs. In general, World Record feels even more like a collection of demos for a band to record later. The songs are pretty good, but the rough feel sabotages the album. The 15-minute epic "Chevrolet" is vintage Crazy Horse and it's far and away the best thing on the album. "The World (Is In Trouble Now)" and "Break The Chain" are the best of the rest. Overall, this is the weakest of the three recent albums, although "Chevrolet" is a must-hear.

tracks: "Love Earth", "Overhead", "I Walk With You (Earth Ringtone)", "This Old Planet (Changing Days)", "The World (Is In Trouble Now)", "Break The Chain", "The Long Day Before", "Walkin' On The Road (To The Future)", "The Wonder Won't Wait", "Chevrolet", "This Old Planet (Reprise)"

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various artists
Jem Records Celebrates Pete Townshend

Jem Records Celebrates Pete Townshend collects 14 generally faithful covers of Pete Townshend's songs with a heavy focus on the early Who years. The closing song is the cleverest cover on the album. The Airport 77's "Substifool" merges a cover of "Substitute" with the synth (and other references) to "Won't Get Fooled Again" woven in. The Anderson Council deliver the two best straight covers - powerful takes on two lesser-known Townshend gems, "Glow Girl" and "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand". Lisa Mychols & Super 8 deliver a folky "Baba O'Riley" and a jazzy "I Can't Explain". They're both very different from the originals, and they both work. An excellent tribute.

tracks: "Baba O'Riley" - Lisa Mychols & Super 8, "I'm Free" - The Grip Weeds, "Let My Love Open The Door" - The Midnight Callers, "The Seeker" - Nick Piunti, "Glow Girl" - The Anderson Council, "I Can't Explain" - Lisa Mychols & Super 8, "The Kids Are Alright" - Johnathan Pushkar, "So Sad About Us" - The Gold Needles, "A Quick One While He's Away" - The Grip Weeds, "I Can See For Miles" - The Weeklings, "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand" - The Anderson Council, "Let's See Action" - Richard Barone, "The Good's Gone" - The Gold Needles, "Substifool" - The Airport 77s


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Franz Nicolay
New River

It's been a while since I've listened to a new Franz Nicolay album, and once I started listening, I can't imagine why. Like his older albums and EPs, Nicolay writes a diverse set of songs featuring Nicolay's keyboard and accordion playing along with dramatic horns: "Garlic And Vine" is charming, accordion-driven pop, "Your Ode Played By French Horns" is a guitar-driven rocker that would fit Nicolay's gig in The Hold Steady, "First-Person Spectacular" mixes in some barrelhouse piano and horns, and "New River, Spring For Me" is soulful, horn-driven closer to the album. Nicolay is a heck of a keyboard player, and the album is full of terrific, adventurous songs.

tracks: "Wandering Star", "Beaten For The Light", "Garlic And Vine", "The Morris Column", "It's Dawn", "Your Ode Played By French Horns", "First-Person Spectacular", "Champagne Sammy", "Players In Wheat And Wine", "New River, Spring For Me"

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Extreme Witchcraft

For Extreme Witchcraft, E recorded with producer John Parish for the first time since 2001's Souljacker. The result is a sister album of sorts, with the same occasional mix of low-fi distortion on about half the album. The album opens with this sound on "Amateur Hour" and "Good Night On Earth" but transitions back to a poppier sound on "Strawberries & Popcorn". Overall, I think the album works better than Souljacker, the overall blend is much better, and the result is a more varied album than the last few albums. Excellent.

tracks: "Amateur Hour", "Good Night On Earth", "Strawberries & Popcorn", "Steam Engine", "Grandfather Clock Strikes Twelve", "Stumbling Bee", "The Magic", "Better Living Through Desperation", "So Anyway", "What It Isn't", "Learning While I Lose", "I Know You're Right"

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Craig Finn
A Legacy Of Rentals

Craig Finn's fifth true solo album is the first one that's as good as his work in The Hold Steady. The album opens with "Messing With The Settings", an emotional story song from the point of view of a man reminiscing about a long-lost former lover coupled with a gorgeous, lush backing. It's totally outside anything The Hold Steady would try, but it's a moving piece of music. The other big highlight is another story song, "A Break From The Barrage" couples a story about a woman dealing with the day after overdoing it the night before. Like the opener, it's an emotional story coupled with lush backing. While these two were the big highlights for me, the album isn't just story songs. The rest are indie rock and pop with occasionally lush backing and bittersweet lyrics. There's a melancholy feel to most of the album, but it's a rewarding listen. Easily Craig Finn's best solo album to date.

tracks: "Messing With The Settings", "The Amarillo Kid", "Birthdays", "The Year We Fell Behind", "Due To Depart", "Curtis & Shepard", "Never Any Horses", "Jessamine", "A Break From The Barrage", "This Is What It Looks Like"

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Envy Of None
Envy Of None

Envy Of None started out as a collaboration between bassist Andy Curran and singer Maiah Wynne. Curran's pal Alex Lifeson (yes, the Rush guitar legend) was interested in what he was hearing, and Envy Of None came out of the collaboration. There's plenty of guitar on the album, especially on "Spy House", but the focus of their sound is really a mix of Wynne's terrific voice and the layered electronics. The sound is somewhere between rock and electronic music with somehow not quite being either of those. It's definitely not a take on Rush's more keyboard-heavy 80's sound, this is much more modern sounding. The album ends on a touching note. "Western Sunset" is a gentle instrumental, led by Lifeson's guitar. The song was written while Alex was visiting Neil Peart and is intended to be a tribute to his late bandmate. It's very different from the rest of the album, but it serves as a nice coda.

tracks: "Never Said I Love You", "Shadow", "Look Inside", "Liar", "Spy House", "Dog's Life", "Kabul Blues", "Old Strings", "Dumb", "Enemy", "Western Sunset"

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Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock's first new solo album since 2017 is terrific and full of what Hitchcock does best: killer melodies and surreal lyrics. "The Shuffle Man", "The Sir Tommy Shuffle", and "The Raging Muse" bring loud rock to the album, and "The Inner Life Of Scorpio" and "The Man Who Loves The Rain" offset it with lovely ballads. The hypnotic "The Feathery Serpent God" is vintage Hitchcock with some lovely harmony vocals from his partner Emma Swift. "Midnight Tram To Nowhere" has a sinister, bluesy feel, and it's another big highlight. Between his solo career, time with The Soft Boys, The Egyptians and The Venus 3, Hitchcock's recorded nearly 30 albums, and he sounds better than ever on this one. Superb.

tracks: "The Shuffle Man", "The Inner Life Of Scorpio", "The Feathery Serpent God", "Midnight Tram To Nowhere", "Socrates In Thin Air", "Noirer Than Noir", "The Man Who Loves The Rain", "The Sir Tommy Shovell", "The Raging Muse", "One Day (It's Being Scheduled)"

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Johnny Marr
Fever Dreams Pts. 1-4

Johnny Marr previewed a bit of this album by including four songs in his "Live At Crazy Face Factory" livestream, and those "live in the studio" performances had me expecting something special and Fever Dreams Pts. 1-4 really delivers. The songs were originally released as a series of four EPs with four songs each, but despite that, the resulting album feels very cohesive. The album continues the progression on Call The Comet and continues to mix in a touch of electronics into his sound, but Marr's guitar and vocals take center stage. Marr's first three solo albums were excellent, and this one may be even better yet. The songs are just irresistible. The opening "Spirit Power & Soul" is a big highlight, but "Hideaway Girl" and "Counter-Clock World" are every bit as good. Classic indie guitar rock.

A few of the performances from the livestream are on YouTube, so I've included links to those as well. If you're a Smiths fan, you really need to hear his version of "How Soon Is Now". Amazing.

tracks: "Spirit Power & Soul", "Receiver", "All These Days", "Ariel", "Lightning People", "Hideaway Girl", "Sensory Street", "Tenement Time", "The Speed Of Love", "Night And Day", "Counter-Clock World", "Rubicon", "God's Gift", "Ghoster", "The Whirl", "Human"

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Misadventures Of Doomscroller

Misadventures Of Doomscroller takes Dawes' usual easy-going folk pop and mixes in a progressive feel with much longer songs than they've recorded before. The nine-minute opener "Someone Else's Cafe / Doomscroller Tries To Relax" starts out as what seems like a simple pop song until it eventually moves into a jazzy middle section, a gorgeous harmony section, a long guitar break, and then ends like it began. It's way more adventurous than Dawes' previous albums, but it still fits the band's sound. It's the best song on the album, but it's not the only great one. The other eight-minute-plus tracks "Everything Is Permanent" and "Sound That No One Made / Doomscroller Sunrise" are similar multi-stage epics and they don't disappoint. Misadventures Of Doomscroller pulls off the neat trick of radically shaking things up while keeping the band's basic sound intact. I've enjoyed Dawes' previous albums, although this is the first one that begged to be played over and over. It's easily their best album.

tracks: "Someone Else's Cafe / Doomscroller Tries To Relax", "Comes In Waves", "Everything Is Permanent", "Ghost In The Machine", "Joke In There Somewhere", "Joke In There Somewhere (Outro)", "Sound That No One Made / Doomscroller Sunrise"

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Endless Rooms

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's third album, Endless Rooms, opens with a head fake. The one-minute synth pop instrumental "Pearl Like You" makes you think that the band has radically changed direction. But when "Tidal River" kicks in, you know things are going to be fine. The band has mixed in a little keyboard for color, but their hypnotic jangly three-guitar sound is still what drives the album. Rockers like "Tidal River", "My Echo" and "Saw You At The Eastern Beach" are nicely balanced by slower songs like "Caught Low" and "Open Up Your Window". With Endless Rooms, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are three-for-three. Wonderful stuff.

tracks: "Pearl Like You", "Tidal River", "The Way It Shatters", "Caught Low", "My Echo", "Dive Deep", "Open Up Your Window", "Blue Eye Lake", "Saw You At The Eastern Beach", "Vanishing Dots", "Endless Rooms", "Bounce Off The Bottom"

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Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs
External Combustion

The second Dirty Knobs album continues the sound of their stellar debut mixing garage rock, boogie and a little country flavor into the mix. The album roars out of the gate with the garage rock of "Wicked Mind" and the country blues "Brigitte Bardot". Ian Hunter guests on "Dirty Job", and while Ian's voice isn't what it once was, the song a killer combination of power chords and a playful lyric. Fellow Heartbreaker Benmont Tench adds piano to the aptly titled "Lightning Boogie", and it's a big highlight. External Combustion closes with a bang: "Electric Gypsy" has a long coda with Campbell's guitar sounding very much like his sound in The Heartbreakers. As with the debut, External Combustion will remind you a lot of a looser and occasionally heavier version of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Great, great stuff.

Interestingly, this album is credited to Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs. iTunes and Spotify (and presumably others) now have updated billing and cover art for the band's first album Wreckless Abandon and their one-off single "Lockdown Part II".

tracks: "Wicked Mind", "Brigitte Bardot", "Cheap Talk", "External Combustion", "Dirty Job", "State Of Mind", "Lightning Boogie", "Rat City", "In This Lifetime", "It Is Written", "Electric Gypsy"

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Church Of The Cosmic Skull
There Is No Time

My friend Mac passed on a recommendation for There Is No Time that described the band as "ELO + Alan Parsons Project + Black Sabbath". That sounded like something I had to check out. I totally get that description, but it's incomplete. I'd also add in a "+ Deep Purple" for Jon Lord's Hammond, a "+ Kansas" for Robbie Steinhardt's violin and a "+ Polyphonic Spree" for their choir vocals. The result is a huge sound that just pulls you right in. The album is both heavy and light, lush and sparse, and it's got a very proggy Seventies feel - almost like the best parts of Seventies classic rock and prog thrown into a blender. The band has the look of a cult, and the album's spooky vibe totally works with that image.

"Seven Rays Of Color" opens the album with a gentle piano rendition of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" before the band roars in with a blast of organ, guitar, and massed vocals. It's an impressive opening to the album. "One More Step" mixes beautiful vocal interludes with power guitar. "Now's The Time" starts out like a lost Kansas song, but by the time you get to epic middle section, you've hit something quite different. All along the way, they switch between heavy parts and really gorgeous passages, and the jumps between styles is absolutely dazzling. It's very different, and the best thing I've heard this year.

tracks: "Seven Rays Of Colour", "Pleading With The Cosmic Mother", "One More Step", "Valleys And Hills Part I (Peel Away The Layers)", "Valleys And Hills Part II (Pure Illumination)", "Now's The Time", "Last Words Of A Dying God", "We Lost It Somewhere"


Just click on the album cover to see that year's review.