Recently in Music Category

What Was Old Is New Again-New CD Re-Issues

Our erudite music librarians have outdone themselves, searching high and low to bring you diverse and eclectic music from all around the globe  Below is a just a sampling of the fruits of their labor, some new CD re-issues.

Click for availability and more information Artist Proof, by Chris Darrow
There seems to have been countless numbers of singer songwriters hanging our in California in the early '70's. And a good number of them seem to have released records that quickly fell into obscurity. Chris Darrow is one of these. He set out as a solo artist after being a member of the folk/psychedelic band Kaleidoscope. Darrow mines much the same California country rock territory as many of his contemporaries. "Artist Proof" is low key and tasteful and, although it may not be a true "lost classic" it definitely deserves resurrection by the tastemakers at Drag City records. And it certainly has the aura we have come to expect form the California music scene of the early 1970's. Fans of the current crop of alt-country bands will find much to love here.

Click for availability and more information Change the Beat: the Celluloid Records story, 1979-1987,
Some seriously eclectic stuff here. Celluloid Records, a French/American record label, founded by Jean Georgakarakos operated from 1976 to 1989 in New York, and produced a series of eclectic and ground-breaking releases, particularly in the early to late 1980s. This two disc set features a fine overview of the label's acts which include hip hop, post-punk, French new wave and world beat artists. It sounds a bit dated in places but, for the most part, most of these songs have stood the test of time. There is quite a bit to explore here and it's a great introduction to a seminal record label. 

Click for availability and more information First Issue, by Public Image, Ltd.
According to many purists, punk rock was done and over by the end of 1977. It was all just posing after that. While that may be up for debate, many of the movement's movers and shakers had moved on to making more daring and esoteric music by 1978. This new genre was quickly dubbed post-punk. One of the first shots across it's bow was this record, which is being released in America for the first time, 35 years after it made it's stunning debut in the UK. If the band was attempting to make a statement here, they certainly succeeded. After the Sex Pistols imploded, lead singer Johnny Rotten changed his last name back to Lydon and gathered a group of musicians including former Clash guitarist Keith Levene and bass player Jah Wobble and made a record that to this day sounds as invigorating as the day it came out. From the opening sharp metallic guitar chords of the title track it's evident that the game was now changed. While keeping the aggression of punk the music was now more experimental and artier. Grounded in heavy dub the band quickly tested their audiences limits, both musically and lyrically.

The CD version of this re-issue contains two discs (it's also available on vinyl!) The second disc features an interview with Lydon from the BBC from October, 1978 and a bonus track recorded around the same time. If you haven't heard this record before, now is the time. 

Click for availability and more information Green, 25th Anniversary Deluxe edition, by R.E.M.
The band's 6th album, released in 1988 and their first for a major label is the point where many long time REM fans hopped off the train and many other newcomers finally hopped aboard. It's a polarizing record; their first to go double platinum. It also set the stage for REM's rise to international stardom. From a musical standpoint it differs from their previous records. It features a more polished, radio-friendly production as the band moved away from their patented enigmatic jangly pop sound. Vocalist Michael Stipe stopped his mumbled delivery and the band switched to major chords. Whether this was intentional will never be known but it changed the bands course for the rest of their career. While it certainly paid off from a career standpoint, one wonders if the band ever missed the unconditional love foisted upon them by their loyal old school fans. This remastered version (the latest in a series) features a the bonus disc Live in Greensboro 1989. The songs included in this live show draw heavily from Green but also features a variety of numbers from the band's five previous records.

Click for availability and more information In Between Tears, by Irma Thomas
Irma Thomas was a contemporary of Aretha Franklin and Etta James but never achieved their level of commercial success. She garnered early success in her hometown of New Orleans and is still active and much loved today. In the early '70's she entered the studio with notorious producer Jerry "Swampp Dog" Williams and recorded this classic record of soulful southern R&B. This is the real deal people and Thomas's vocals sound like a woman who lived through quite a bit. As the Aquarium Drunkard blog states, "most of the songs concern the ins-and-outs of infidelity, sung from alternating viewpoints, by the cheated on and the cheater herself." This sentiment is brought home in the stunning "We Won't Be In Your Way Anymore" where Irma tells her man, behind some serious guitar and brass work, that "Me & the kids, we'll be alright, we'll get a hotel room for the night. We'll get a meal at the local drugstore and we won't be in your way any more." And that's just the tip of the iceberg. "In Between tears" is a classic "men are scum" record, with one hell of a backbeat. 

This lost gem stands on its own in every single way but also boasts some guitar work by the late Duane Allmann who, according to the liner notes, "wandered into the studio and picked up a guitar" for a few early sessions, not long before his death in 1971.

Click for availability and more information Inspiration Information: Wings of Love, by Shuggie Otis
Originally released in 1974, "Inspiration Information is such a great and influential record that it has been re-issued twice, first in 2001 by David Byrne's Luaka Bop label as the first release in it's "World Psychedelic Classics" series. This version contains original album in its entirety as well as four songs taken from Otis' 1971 album Freedom Flight, including "Strawberry Letter 23". Then, just a few months back Epic/Legacy re-issued it again, this time accompanied by a second Shuggie record, "Wings of Love" which features 14 tracks that Otis recorded between 1975 and 2000. "Inspiration Information" is notable for it's wide variety of musical styles and ranks among the 1970's most unique and personal musical statements. Taking over three years to records, It's a studio creation of the first order, with Otis dabbling in sounds and technologies that were ahead of their time. From the Stevie Wonder/Sly Stone slow funk of "Aht uh mi hed" to the futuristic psych of "Happy House" to Shuggie's early adoption of the analog drum machine. It's no wonder that the record was met with consternation when it finally came out.So much so that Otis was dropped by his label, Columbia and wasn't heard from again for almost 40 years. By it's very nature (various demo tapes and previously unreleased tracks), "Wings of Love" is a more uneven affair but has bursts of brilliance. At the very least, it solidifies Shuggie's status as en eccentric who made music for himself, not the masses. 

Click for availability and more information Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM , compiled and edited by Jonathan Ward
Here's an astonishing and beautifully packaged set that explores music from the African continent from the span 1909 to the mid-'60s. It features 100 songs and an incredible booklet with information about the project and photos of the performers included. Each CD (there are four of them) focus on specific region of the continent. They each work their way forward in time. While some of this may be an acquired test there is no doubt that this is a monumental feat undertaken by Dust to Digital, whose mission is to produce and curate a wide variety of musical projects, which combine rare, essential recordings with historical images and descriptive texts.

You can read more about the project here, from the LA Times Music blog.

Click for availability and more information Silhouette Segments, by Brother John Rydgren

I can't say it any better than the the back cover description of this excellent re-issue from the folks at Omni Recording Company: At the very zenith of Psychedelia and Christianity stands the imposing figure of Brother John Rydgren. An ordained pastor of the American Lutheran Church, Rydgren laid out a heady trip of lysergic spiritual philosophy. Sincere, profound and yet deeply playful, Brother John's mesmeric baritone waxed poetic about the big questions - Love, Sex, Death, War and Drugs (and God's place in all this) - over a backbeat of fuzz guitars, sitars, avant choirs and go-go drums. From 1966 onwards Brother John broadcast his widely syndicated radio show "Silhouette" across the U.S.A (and Vietnam), speaking directly to the Hippies, Heads, Jesus-Freaks and G.I.s in an engaging flower-power-patter. His incredibly rare LPs "Silhouette Segments" (1968), "Cantata For New Life" (1967) and "Worlds Of Youth" (1966) were originally distributed only to radio stations and church groups. All are officially reissued here (in full) for the very first time. Remastered with copious extra tracks, exclusive liner notes and extremely rare photos, here at last is the true Gospel of Brother John Rydgren.

Rydgren's imposing baritone really is the perfect foil for the disturbing  choirs and weird soundscapes that creep out in the background but I can't help to wonder, however, how effective this form of proselytizing actually was. It seems more like something that folks "in the know" would listen to late at night, while doing some of the very things that Rydgren is advising against. This set features the magnificent 28 minute epic "Cantata For New Life" - a psychedelic psycho-spiritual mass for choir, fuzz guitar, rock drums and Brother John.

An astute reviewer on Amazon refers to Rydgren as "the Lutheran Ken Nordine", which is completely apt.

This is not to be missed. 

Click for availability and more information The Street Giveth-- and the Street Taketh Away, by Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys
This dubiously named band started in NYC in the late '60's, playing all the legendary spots, including Cafe Wha' and the Electric Circus. Co-Founder Roy Michaels played with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay before they moved to California and started Buffalo Springfield. This association allowed Michaels to secure a recording contract with Polydor records. Michaels and the band eventually followed suit and relocated to California in 1970. This record, their debut, works best as a piece of musical history it serves it's purpose and may appeal to fans of grassroots rock and roll but, at least to me, offers nothing revelatory. What is notable (and surprising) is that it was produced by Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix also acted as the sponsor to obtain union membership for band members, in order that they could play professionally on tour with him.

They did hit the Top 25 in 1969 with the song "Good Old Rock & Roll" (which sounds exactly like you think it would)which may be one of the first examples of a "mash-up", containing snippets of "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Long Tall Sally," "Chantilly Lace," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Blue Suede Shoes," and "Party Doll" within its three minutes and five seconds. The standout track is a commentary on the chaotic summer of 1968 called "How I Spent My Summer." A quizzical choice for resurrection, I guess,  but that's the beauty of the re-issue business. One man's treasure...

Noteworthy New CD's

If you're a music fan but haven't been up to the second floor of the library in a while, you may want to stop by next time you're here. Our compact disc collection offers something for everyone. Below are a few titles that we find especially interesting but there is much much more where these came from.

Click for availability and more information A&M Records 50: the Anniversary Collection, by Various Artists
A three-disc, 60-song set that takes the listener through the hits that turned a tiny artist-driven imprint into one of the most important, era-defining names in popular music. This collection features something for everyone, from Burt Bacharach to Barry White to Soundgarden. 

Click for availability and more information Parklive: Live in Hyde Park 12th August, 2012, by Blur
This live double cd set commemorates Blur's reunion show that marked the closing of the London summer Olympics. By most accounts, this show was a huge success that has cemented Blur as a critical and culturally essential part of England's musical history. And to some, this was the best part of the Olympics. Here's a link to the album trailer if you want a quick taste.

Click for availability and more information Live at the Bowl '68, by The Doors
wo years after the Beatles rolled out the hits for the final time further up the West Coast at Candlestick Park -- and over a year into a Rolling Stones touring hiatus -- the Doors played a set at the Hollywood Bowl that is widely regarded to be their finest ever captured. it's clear from this recording that they were keen to impress the 18,000 people who filled the Bowl on July 5, 1968. It's a tight, musically impressive, well-paced set that falls at that sweet spot in the Doors' career, between the laid-back hesitancy of early club performances and the often overblown, strident, and bluesy improvisation of later gigs. It is also a bit of a technical marvel. This restoration makes dramatic improvement audio quality,and has made previously unreleased songs from the performance available for the first time. Technical glitches had prevented three songs from being included in previous versions, but thanks to the restoration process, the concert can now be seen in its entirety, complete with the previously missing performances of "Hello, I Love You," "Caravan" and "The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat). 

Click for availability and more information Trouble Man, by Marvin Gaye
A funky blacksploitation soundtrack from 1972, conceived and composed by Marvin himself and served up with some occasional vocals that work beautifully with the album's cool instrumental grooves. It's Gaye's only soundtrack and film score and shouldn't be missed. 

Click for availability and more information Bop! Bang! Boom!, by Grant Geissman
Grant Geissman's lengthy career as a guitarist and composer started in the early '70s. His résumé includes the guitar solo on flugelhornist Chuck Mangione's 1978 hit single "Feels So Good," a discography of around 15 albums as leader and compositions for TV such as the theme for the CBS comedy Two And A Half Men. Bop! Bang! Boom! is the final installment of a trilogy. It features a strong core band plus guest appearances from Geismann's friends and colleagues including saxophonist Tom Scott, guitarists Larry Carlton and Albert Lee, and Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, on accordion and runs the stylistic gamut from Latin and bebop to blues. 

Click for availability and more information Palindrome Hunches, by Neil Halstead
This is the perfect dreary weather album. These songs are so quiet and beautiful that it makes me want to put on a big rumpled sweater and give everyone a hug.This record was was recorded live in a weekend at a music room in a UK primary school and it has that cozy feeling. With more than just a nod to the legendary Nick Drake, former Mojave 3 and Slowdive leader Halstead has made a record that is just the most recent in a long line of  brilliant traditional British folk music. 

Click for availability and more information The Gift, Deluxe edition, by The Jam
It's true that the band weren't quite up to the top of their game by the time this, their final record, came around but it's also true that even a less than perfect record by The Jam was still better than %90 of most other records. Originally released in March of 1982, it found the band moving further towards the R&B sound that they had been dabbling in since their early records. This 30th anniversary 2cd edition features the original album plus rounds up non-album tracks of the period, including the 12-inch version of Precious and the swansong Beat Surrender EP. It also includes some demo recordings of several songs from the album. And, if that isn't enough for you, there is also a "super deluxe" edition, which features 3 cd's, 1 DVD and a few other things. 

Click for availability and more information The Complete Studio Recordings, by Roxy Music
Whether you are new to Roxy Music or just want to re-visit their work, this 10 cd is a good place to visit. Includes each of the eight Roxy Music studio albums released in the ten year period of 1972-1982, on CD plus two discs of bonus tracks containing tracks previously unavailable on CD. Each album has been taken back to its original form. They are housed in a swanky black box that will probably look awesome in your apartment.

Click for availability and more information The Essential, by Mindy Smith
Best of collection from the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Mindy Smith featuring songs from three of her Vanguard Records studio albums.

Listening to the music of Mindy Smith, you get the sense that this is a woman who has been well prepared for adversity or at least has found a way to deal with it when it arises. As the thirteen songs on this collection reveal, ever since the release of her auspicious 2004 debut album, One Moment More, Smith has fearlessly put herself on the line in her writing, confronting her questions and troubles with songs that are impeccably crafted and indelibly intimate. From the liner notes by Alan Light 

Click for availability and more information Bish Bosch, by Scott Walker
This is not for the meek of heart. A troubling, disturbing but brilliant album that could only come from the mind of Scott Walker. It features drums and guitars and other passing references to rock music, but its deepest roots are in the dissonant, turn-of-the century compositions by Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, with a dash of Kurt Weill thrown in for good measure. Don't try this at home, kids.

Books on Music and Musicians

From backstage tell-alls to touching memoirs, this new batch of music books surely has something for all music fans. Plus, there's much more in our new book section.

Click for availability and more information Abbey Road : the Best Studio in the World, by Alistair Lawrence, forward by Sir George Martin
An oversized photographic celebration and cultural history of the celebrated recording studio. The book provides a full history and timeline, a discography of famous album covers and previously unseen images from the studio's archives that document recordings by such artists as The Beatles, Pink Floyd and John Williams. 

Click for availability and more information Cyndi Lauper : a Memoir, byCyndi Lauper with Jancee Dunn
Iconic singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper offers a poignant account of the journey that led her to become an international superstar--from her years growing up in Queens, New York, to the making of enduring hits like "Time After Time," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," and "True Colors," to becoming an actress, a mother, an outspoken activist, and maintaining a music career that has lasted more than thirty years. 

Click for availability and more information Do You Dream in Color? Insights from a Girl without Sight, by Laurie Rubin
The internationally acclaimed blind mezzo-soprano traces the story of her childhood in Southern California through the rise of her career as an opera singer, describing how she has overcome everyday and more challenging obstacles while remembering the experiences that inspired her achievements. Ms. Rubin performed at the Greenwich Library as part of the first Greenwich Reads Together Program in 2011.

Click for availability and more information The Gershwins and Me : a Personal History in Twelve Songs, by Michael Feinstein with Ian Jackman
A five-time Grammy nominee presents an illustrated tribute to the lives and legacies of the Gershwins that is presented through the stories of 12 of their most enduring songs including "Strike Up the Band" and "Love Is Here to Stay," in a volume that is complemented by a CD of original recordings.

Click for availability and more information I'm Your Man : the Life of Leonard Cohen, by Sylvie Simmons
Exploring the many facets of Cohen's life, this intimate portrait of one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time draws upon his private archives and a wealth of interviews with many of his closest associates, colleagues and other artists whose work he has inspired.

Click for availability and more information The John Lennon Letters,edited by and with an introduction by Hunter Davies
Published together for the first time, this collection of letters to family, friends, lovers and complete strangers from the beloved Beatle offers an intimate look into the true personality and mind of one of popular music's most prolific and revered artists.

Click for availability and more information Led Zeppelin : the Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band, by Barney Hoskyns
Think you know everything there is to know about Led Zeppelin? Think again. This new book, based on more than 200 interviews with everyone from Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones to others central to the Zeppelin story, chronicles the group's dramatic rise, fall and legacy. It takes a fresh look at the band's music, cultural significance, and legend, as well as the highs and lows of the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle on the road. It also discusses, in depth, the way the band wrote, arranged, and recorded, from how they created the stupendous sound and dynamics on "Dazed and Confused" and "Whole Lotta Love" to the group's folk-suffused acoustic side embodied in songs like "Friends" and "That's the Way." This is a nice accompaniment to the classic Zeppelin tell-all, "Hammer of the Gods: the Led Zeppelin Saga."

Click for availability and more information Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page , by Bard Tolinski
If you still crave more Zeppelin this book, based on extensive interviews conducted with the guitarist/producer over the past 20 years, encompasses Page's entire career, beginning with his early years as England's top session guitarist when he worked with artists ranging from Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, and Burt Bacharach to the Kinks, The Who, and Eric Clapton. Page speaks frankly about his decadent yet immensely creative years in Led Zeppelin, his synergistic relationships with band members Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones, and his notable post-Zeppelin pursuits. While examining every major track recorded by Zeppelin, including "Stairway to Heaven," "Whole Lotta Love," and "Kashmir," Page reflects on the band's sensational tours, the filming of the concert movie The Song Remains the Same, his fascination with the occult, meeting Elvis Presley, and the making of the rock masterpiece Led Zeppelin IV, about which he offers a complete behind-the-scenes account.

Click for availability and more information Rolling Stones 50 x 20 , edited by Chris Murray
Celebrates the remarkable fifty-year career of the Stones with images captured by twenty of the world's greatest music photographers. Featured are more than eighty exceptional photographs that document the longevity of one of the most influential, enduring, and controversial bands in rock history.

New CD's

We get hundreds of new compact discs each month. Here's a few that you may have missed.

Click for availability and more information Centipede HZ, by Animal Collective
On this, their 10th record, the band has strayed away from the softer side of things and things have gotten a bit harder edged and strange. But this is totally accessible at the same time and is sure to solidify the band's stature as indie darlings. You may want to get the headphones out for this.

Click for availability and more information The Singer, by Art Garfunkel
A 34-song collection of songs hand-picked by the artist himself. Spanning a life's body of work from the first Simon & Garfunkel album of 1964  through 2007's Great American Songbook album and continuing with two newly recorded performances for this release. The Singer includes every #1 U.S. and UK solo hit. In addition to curating The Singer, Garfunkel provides his own personal track-by-track annotations, which appear in the booklet in his handwritten form. 

Click for availability and more information Yellow & Green, by Baroness
The giants of the metal underground re-emerge with their first record in more than three years.The word is that they have mixed things up a bit here with a more fully developed sound but, at the same time, keeping things heavy.

Click for availability and more information Across the Imaginary Divide, by Bela Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio
2012 collaboration between banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck and Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts and his trio. The songs here will appeal to both fans of Fleck's distinct banjo playing and traditional jazz fans.

Click for availability and more information Spirit Fiction, by Ravi Coltrane
Ravi Coltrane has some rather large shoes to fill. Being the son of a jazz legend can be stressful but he comports himself quite well here. On his debut record for the Blue Note record label Coltrane (along with two separate backing bands) work through 11 songs that bring to mind the sound of Miles Davis in his late '60's phase. For more information check out a recent feature on Ravi in the New York Times.

Click for availability and more information Faithful Man, by Lee Fields
Southern tinged deep soul that sounds like it was recorded in 1971 but is actually brand new. Fields, who's career spans over 40 years, with a band of young hot shots, has made quite a statement with this record. For fans of Otis Redding and James Brown.

Click for availability and more information The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal: 1969-1973, by Taj Mahal
Composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Taj Mahal is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th century blues and roots music. This collection features two CDs comprised entirely of unreleased finished material. The first disc debuts studio recordings from 1969-1973, while the second disc premieres a full-length live concert, recorded April 18, 1970 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. 

Click for availability and more information Harakiri, by Serj Tankian
The third solo record by System of a Down front man seems to have a polarizing effect on his fan base. It's a love/hate thing. Some claim it to be a brave example of an artist taking his music in a new direction while others call it a pretentious mistake. Take it home today and see for yourself.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Music category.

History is the previous category.

Mystery is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.