Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CD Review: Two Huge Box Sets Released For A Forgotten Album And A Legendary Comedy Troupe

The British comedy act Monty Python are considered The Beatles of the comedy world. They turned sketch comedy into an art form and broke new ground in the late sixties with their bold, sometimes raunchy brand of humor. Many of today's top comedy acts have attributed their success to Monty Python. This year marked the 45th anniversary of the comedy troupe's debut on BBC television. Between 1969 to 1974 they created 45 television episodes which are still as popular today as when it debuted. Monty Python also created three feature films that have become cult classics, including the immortal "Monty Python And The Holy Grail." The comedy troupe also created five sketch albums, three soundtrack albums and a live album between 1970 to 1983. Back in 2006, the Monty Python audio catalog was remastered and released on CD along with bonus tracks added on to each release. Now, the Universal Music Group has gathered all of these albums into one new collection entitled "Monty Python's Total Rubbish: The Complete Collection." It was released in Europe back in June and will finally be hitting U.S. shores on September 30th.
 
This new set includes all of the original Monty Python albums, remastered along with all of the bonus tracks included in the 2006 edition. It will be released on CD and on vinyl. The box set includes a copy of the rare exclusive  7" single "Monty Python's Tiny Black Round Thing" that includes the classic "Election" sketch introduced by D.P. Gumby on one side and an extended version of one of their more well-known songs, "Lumberjack Song" on the other side. Fans may already have these albums in their collection, but one of the greatest things in this collection is the new artwork and liner notes explaining the history of the albums. Little insights behind the third record groove on "The Monty Python Matching Tie And Handkerchief" and how "Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album" could have easily been a double-album with enough material left over that was never released. This set features almost ten hours of Monty Python humor that should be in every fan's collection.
 
If this box set is too much Monty Python for you, Universal Music also recently released "Monty Python Sings...Again." This new set features almost all of the classic Monty Python musical numbers from their albums and soundtracks. It also features six previously unreleased songs scattered throughout the album. A deluxe edition was also released which also includes the British comedy troupe's debut live sketch album, "Monty Python's Flying Circus." To find out more about "Monty Python's Total Rubbish" box set, please visit montypythononlinestore.com and for more information on "Monty Python Sings... Again," please visit montypythonlive.com.
 
Back in 1997, the American alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins were on top of the world. They had their first multi-platinum selling album ("Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness") and just wrapped up a highly successful world tour. But tension within the band never grew bigger than during the recording of their follow-up album, "Adore." Frontman Billy Corgan was quoted as calling this album about a "band falling apart."
 
But, within such misery lies some of the most amazing, meaningful albums that the Smashing Pumpkins ever produced. They left their buzzing rock guitars behind, exploring a different side to their songwriting, creating sweeping folk ballads and controlled electronic chaos. Corgan especially was dealing with a lot of difficult subjects during the recording of "Adore." The loss of his mother is felt in the emotional piano ballad "For Martha" and the defensive club beat of "Ava Adore" showcases Corgan working through his recent divorce. At times the album feels all over the place, but on the recent six CD/DVD box set released by the Universal Music Group, we finally get an inside look into the creation of this misinterpreted album.
 
The first two discs in the set features a remastered stereo version of the album and for the first time a remastered mono version of the album. But, fans will want to sink their teeth into the third disc "In A State Of Passage," which contains eighteen demos recorded at Corgan's home studio "Sadlands" and includes the CRC demo. It shows Corgan at his most intimate with acoustic renditions of "Christmastime" and "The Tale Of Pistol Pete" and also has the Pumpkins' testing out the electronic beats on "The Love Of Guns Disastrous." The disc ends with a fuller version of "Blessed And Gone" sandwiched between a couple of attempts at "For Martha."
 
The fourth and fifth discs bring together outtakes from the recording along with hard to find remixes and some newly created "reimagined" versions to some of the songs from the album. Some of the highlights include a remixed version of "Crestfallen" done by Matt Walker and another remix by Puffy Combs for "Ava Adore" done in 1998. A 2014 version of "Eye" gets overproduced, while the instrumental of "It's Alright" sounds timeless as you feel the passion in the music. The Rick Rubin produced "Let Me Give The World To You" is a must hear as he brings out the best of the Pumpkins' sound in 1998. Amongst all the dark tones a light is found in the instrumental sounds of "Summer." Disc five closes appropriately with the slow-moving feel of "The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning."
 
The sixth disc and the DVD go hand in hand as they feature some of the best of the Smashing Pumpkins live in 1998. The CD collects 10 live tracks from the band's 36-date tour in support of the "Adore" album, while the DVD features the Pumpkins' tour kick-off at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA on August 4, 1998. The show includes many songs off the newly released album and a few left-overs from the previous multi-platinum release "Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness." The box set also includes a full color booklet with new liner notes provided by David Wild and descriptions of each song as well as lyrics and pictures of the band. The box set was released on September 23rd. To find out more about this amazing new set, please visit smashingpumpkinsnexus.com.

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