Monday, November 20, 2017

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Gathers Together Early Demos For America

The trio of Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek became one of the most famous folk/rock bands in the seventies, when they were known simply as America. They topped the charts numerous times with the songs "A Horse With No Name" and "Sister Golden Hair" and released 18 studio albums between 1971-2015. The band's latest release comes from Omnivore Recordings and is titled "Heritage: Home Recordings/Demos 1970-1973." It features 15 studio recordings and eventually some would appear on one of America's first three albums. Ten of the new releases fifteen tracks have never been previously released in this form and will certainly give the listener some insight into how great these songs were formed in the studio.

The new set starts out with the wonderful harmonies of "Riverside" as the song carries a more upbeat feel than some of their other earlier tracks like "Here" and Rainy Day." The short, but sweet a capella delivery of "When I Was Five" is a real treat, while the trio's songwriting grew in the songs "Goodbye" and "Ventura Highway." The new release wraps up with the guys discussing the recording of "Rainbow Song" and a beautiful hidden bonus track, an a capella version of there hit single "A Horse With No Name." To find out more about America's latest release "Heritage: Home Recordings/Demos 1970-1973," please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

CD Review: Newly Discovered Live Tim Buckley Music Gets "Venice Mating Call" Release

American singer/songwriter Tim Buckley was one of the pioneers of folk music in the late-sixties. His sound would evolve over the course of his ten-year musical career. His songs would take on a more avant-garde style, adding a more psychedelic/jazz sound to his work. Buckley's life would be cut short due to a heroin overdose in 1975. Since then, multiple compilations and live albums have been released posthumous, including the fan favorite "Live At The Troubadour 1969."

Some new, unreleased music from his shows at the Troubadour in 1969 have been unearthed and have made their way onto the latest live album from Tim Buckley titled "Venice Mating Call." It is a new 2CD set that features some different versions of songs that appeared on his "Live At The Troubadour" album and some that have never been previously released. The set begins with the upbeat, acoustic folk strumming of "Buzzin' Fly" and the quieter "Blues Melody." The album begins to showcase Buckley's creativity during the jazzy instrumental "Venice Mating Call, which leads into the thirteen-plus minute jam "Gypsy Woman."

The second disc kicks off with the gentle, acoustic blues of "Drifitin'" as Buckley's voice is in fine form. He picks up the tempo for the sixties groove of "(I Wanna) Testify" as you can almost see Buckley preaching from the stage to his choir of fans. His sound gets more experimental on the 11-minute journey of "Lorca," before closing this new set with the full-on rock assault of "Nobody Walkin'." Also being released is a 2-LP set titled "Greetings From West Hollywood," which features nine more tracks (only 2 are similar to the 2CD set) that have recently been uncovered. To find out more about these two new live releases from Tim Buckley, please visit timbuckley.com.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

CD/DVD Review: Volume 13 Of "The Bootleg Series" Showcases Bob Dylan's Religous Years

On November 3rd, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings released the latest volume in the ongoing "Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series." This years marks volume 13 of the series and centers around Bob Dylan's most controversial era of his career. The new volume titled "Trouble No More" covers Bob Dylan's live and studio output from 1979 to 1981 and during that period, Bob Dylan became a born-again Christian. He released three studio albums during that period ("Slow Train Coming," "Saved" and "Shot Of Love"). Looking back, many fans feel that this is his strongest, most personal trilogy of albums to date and they contain some of the most poetic lyrics of Dylan's entire career.

In order to dig deeper into this three year time period of Dylan's career, "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 13" contains the most massive deluxe box set to date (beside the exclusive " Vol. 12: Collector's Edition" which contained 18 discs). It features 8 CDs of unreleased live material and studio outtakes and for the first time in the series, a full-length DVD is also included in the deluxe box set. 

The first two discs of the set contain random live performances of his newly penned songs that center around Christianity. You will instantly notice how strong Dylan's vocals are in these performances and also how well these songs have been recorded. Up until this release, Dylan fans would only have access to bootleg recordings of shows from this era and many of them did not sound that great. The clarity and power of these live recordings are felt on the 30 songs that make up these first couple CDs.

Discs three and four contain over 30 studio recordings of outtakes and rehearsals that will give die-hard fans insight into Dylan's state-of-mind creating those three iconic albums. Almost half of the songs featured on these CDs are of unreleased songs that have never appeared on a Bob Dylan album, which just goes to show that amount of material that Dylan was recording during these three years of inspiration.

One song that kicks off each of the first four discs is "Solid Rock" as you hear the differences in each recording of the song, whether being performed live on stage or in the recording studio. The final four CDs in the set feature Bob Dylan live in Toronto in 1980 and his full performance of him at Earl's Court, London in June 1981. The two Toronto discs contain the best performance of his three shows there, while his Earl's Court show features one of the last shows of the tour as Dylan was beginning to incorporate some of his older songs back into his setlist like "Maggie's Farm," "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Blowin' In The Wind."

The DVD contains a newly created musical film titled "Trouble No More," which features concert footage interwoven with a newly filmed sermon preaching the word of Christianity. The hour-long film contains some outstanding footage of Dylan live in concert as you can see the enjoyment in his face, leading his amazing live band and back-up singers through his new compositions. You will also be able to re-watch the concert footage without the preaching as part of the DVD extras, along with a rare performance of "Shot Of Love" from his 1981 show in Avignon.

Included with this deluxe box set is a 120-page hardcover book of photos and artwork during the Bob Dylan era of 1979-1981. Another great addition is the 50-pages of information about each song that appears on this set, explaining what and why these recordings were picked for this latest addition of the "Bob Dylan Bootleg Series." Also released on the same day was a consolidated 2CD set that includes the first two live discs from the box set. To find out more about volume 13 of the "Bob Dylan Bootleg Series," please visit bobdylan.com.

Friday, November 17, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Iconic Artists Boubacar Traore, Lorenzo Feliciati & Roswell Rudd

African bluesman, Boubacar Traore will be releasing his new album "Dounia Tabolo" on November 17th. He is a self-taught guitarist who came into prominence in the early 1960s. As quickly as he entered the music scene, he vanished for nearly 20 years before releasing his first album of new material in 1990. Now, Traore continues to carry on the Kassonke tradition with his new 13-song album, which begins with the swampy, New Orleans blues inspired "Dounia Tabolo." While you may not recognize the words, you can surely appreciate the music and the feeling it delivers to your soul. The backporch, acoustic blues of "Ben De Kadi" does contain some English, but's is the combination of African and American blues that is what captures your attention. The 7-minute songs, "Kanou"  and "Dis Lui Que Je L'Aime Comme Mon Pays" will have you appreciate Boubacar's songwriting ability as he combines different aspects of his influences to create these memorable works of art. Boubacar Traore finishes up his new album with the steady, repetitive chorus of "Macire," before returning back to the swamp blues of "Askia Mohamed." To find out more about Boubacar Traore and his latest release "Dounia Tabolo," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/boubacar.traore.music.

Italian bassist and composer Lorenzo Feliciati will be releasing his new studio album "Elevator Man" on November 17th, through RareNoise Records. It continues his work of combining the elements of jazz and rock as he associates with musicians from all over the world to achieve this goal. His new 10-song release begins with the atmospheric, keyboard driven sound of the title song, "Elevator Man" and the more aggressive, rock approach of "The Brick." The adventure continues with the wonderful horns of "14 Stones" and the quieter jazz appeal of "Black Book, Red Letters." He stretches out his sound with the progressive rock assault of "Unchained Houdini," before he lets up on his progressive rock assault to just let the music float on by "The Third Door." Lorenzo Feliciati finishes up his new album with the steady pace of "Thief Like Me," which allows the band to deliver some stellar solos and the mellow, drifting sound of "U Turn In Falmouth." To find out more about Lorenzo Feliciati and his latest release "Elevator Man," please visit rarenoiserecords.com.

Legendary trombonist Roswell Rudd will also be releasing his new album titled  "Embrace" on November 17th, through RareNoise Records. It features eight standards that Rudd has performed from time to time throughout his illustrious career. Vocalist Fay Victor lends her beautiful voice to Duke Ellington's "Something To Live For," before she skats her way through Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." Rudd makes his presence known, providing a lift to the songs erratic rhythm. The band is rounded out with pianist Lafayette Harris and bassist Ken Filiano as they work wonderfully with Rudd on the mellow, 11-plus minute jazz/blues of "Too Late Now." The new release wraps up with the eight-minute, dark emotional embrace of "House Of The Rising Sun" and the gentle sway of Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica." To find out more about Roswell Rudd and his latest album "Embrace," please visit rarenoiserecords.com.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Rising Artists Jamison Ross, Rachel Platten & Grace Vanderwaal

Grammy-nominated artist Jamison Ross is preparing to release his sophomore album titled "All For One" on January 26th, through the Concord Music Group. After receiving so much accolade for his debut album "Jamison," he continues to build upon that strong foundation with this new album. The new 13-track release begins with the up-beat, New Orleans jazz style of "A Mellow Good Time," originally written by the late, great Allen Toussaint. Jamison Ross follows that up with the mellow R&B groove of "Unspoken" and the classic ballad "Don't Go To Strangers," made famous by Etta James. Pianist Chris Pattishall showcases his talents on the keys on the smooth cover of Mose Allison's "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy," then Ross settles in to the bossa nova rhythm of "Tears And Questions." He wraps up his new album with the Big Easy-based title song "All For One" and the stripped-down, stark version of Fats Waller's "Let's Sing Again." To find out more about Jamison Ross and his new album "All For One," please visit jamisonrossmusic.com.

American pop singer/songwriter Rachel Platten recently released her new album titled "Waves." It became available on October 27th through Columbia Records and features 13-tracks that continue Platten's rise to superstardom. The new album begins with the addictive beats and chorus of "Perfect For You" and "Whole Heart" as Rachel allows her voice to soar. The album's lead single "Broken Glass" already cracked the "Top 20" singles chart since being released in August. The song's deep R&B groove will have you hooked as Platten pulls off her greatest pop endeavor. She pours her emotions into "Loose Ends" and works the rhythm of "Loveback," before finishing up her new album with the up-lifting tone of "Fooling You" and the powerful ballad of "Grace." To find out more about Rachel Platten and her latest release "Waves," please visit rachelplatten.com.

Rising artist Grace Vanderwaal has been going non-stop since winning NBC's "America's Got Talent" competition in 2016 at the age of 12. She performed at the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Special Olympics Winter Games, won "Best New Artist" for Radio Disney and the Teen Choice Awards and is releasing her full-length debut solo album titled "Just The Beginning" on November 3rd through Columbia Records. Her new 12-song release continues to include her sweet vocals and ukulele as she begins her journey into pop super-stardom with the dance beats of "Moonlight." Her music portrays a fun, light-hearted atmosphere as in "Sick Of Being Told" and "Escape My Mind" as fans will enjoy her innocence. The energy in her songs are just so positive it becomes addicting as in "Florets" and "A Better Life." She wraps up her new release with the quiet, acoustics of "Darkness Keeps Chasing Me," which allows you to focus on Grace's beautiful vocals. Grace Vanderwaal has show dates lined-up in November and February that have all been sold out for months. To find out more about her new album "Just The Beginning," please visit gracevanderwaal.com.