May / June 2003

 

     
 


CREAM

 
BOOKER T. & THE MGS

VARIOUS ARTISTS
PET PROJECTS

ELO

LOVIN' SPOONFUL

PINK FLOYD
 
     
  CREAM
BBC Sessions
(
Polydor / Chronicles)

During the ‘60s, America had music shows like Shindig, Hullaballoo and American Bandstand while over in England, the BBC was busy recording the greatest names in rock and roll history. Thankfully one of those great U.K. groups recorded live by the BBC was Cream. The focus of Cream’s sound was very much centered on the group’s guitarist Eric Clapton, but Cream was also very much a musical democracy and Cream bassist Jack Bruce—together with his songwriting partner Pete Brown—and the trio’s drummer Ginger Baker and producer Felix Pappalardi were equally gifted musicians and composers who proved to be just as important as Clapton in shaping the Cream sound. The long awaited Cream BBC Sessions was released by Polydor / Chronicles in early 2003 and it’s clearly been worth the wait. Between 1966 and ‘68 Cream recorded a wealth of live tracks for BBC-related shows like Saturday Club, Top Gear and Guitar Club and BBC Sessions compiles 26 previously unreleased classic Cream performances. adding in four brief interview tracks with Clapton. With its mostly unreleased, live BBC renditions of tracks originally featured on Cream albums like Fresh Cream and Disraeli Gears, the CD is topped off by a 16 page CD booklet featuring stunning color and b&w photos along with a fresh perspective on Cream’s incredible history and unique contributions to the development of progressive music. www.universalchronicles.com

 


 
 

BOOKER T. & THE MGS
Soul Men
(Stax)

In the words of guitarist Steve Cropper, “When we’d play, we had fun.” That fact is readily apparent on Soul Men—a collection of 25 previously unissued outtakes from Booker T. & The MGs. The house band at Stax Records, Booker T.& The MGs backed up just about every Stax and Volt Records artist between ‘62-69, but when it came time to record themselves, keyboard great Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper & company often chose to elegantly rework huge pop hits of the day, giving them that fabled Booker T. instrumental touch. Featuring classic instrumental versions of ‘60s pop smashes like “Day Tripper”, “Downtown”, “The Letter” along with instro covers of Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Ray Charles, Soul Men shows why this band is still held in such high regard among pop and instrumental R&B enthusiasts. Soul Men also features unique Booker T. instrumentals of songs that originally found them backing up famous singers, like on Sam & Dave’s hit “Soul Man”, which is given a rousing instro version here. With some of these instrumentals dating back to the dawn of the ‘60s, the 25 track Soul Men—complete with four pages of insightful liner notes—demonstrates why Booker T. & The MGs are still considered the quintessential R&B instrumental band. Another fine 2003 related title on Stax Records is Stax Instrumentals. A split bill featuring twenty five outtakes and unreleased tracks from Booker T. & The MGs and The Mar-Keys, the CD features more detailed liner notes and serves as a fitting companion to the Soul Men CD. www.fantasyjazz.com


 
 

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Pet Projects -
The Brian Wilson Productions
(Ace)

During the heyday of the ‘60s, and even into the ‘70s, the genius of Brian Wilson was too great to contain in The Beach Boys. Ask those who know they’ll tell you Brian Wilson was the Beach Boys or better yet in the words of the late great Dennis Wilson (one of his songs is on this CD), ‘we are just Brian’s messengers.’ Brian was lucky in love and early on he married Marilyn Rovell and a wealth of surf-pop recordings with her group, The Honeys were among Brian’s great early productions. Not only does Brian produce and play on each of these 23 songs but he wrote most if not all the songs here. Spector-sized productions with The Honeys, a one off single with his one time collaborator, the late great Gary Usher, Glen Campbell, Paul Petersen, more... and of course his groundbreaking work on the legendary early ‘70s American Spring album. Packed with Brian songs that often reflected his songwriting styles that were featured in the Beach Boys repertoire, Pet Projects - The Brian Wilson Collaborations is a real boon for Beach Boys collectors. As if it was needed, any one seeking further verification of Wilson’s enormous studio talents will be amazed at the CD packaging and impeccable 20 page booklet. Available in the U.S. through the catalog of Collector's Choice Music. www.ccmusic.com


 
 

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
ELO2
(Harvest)


Following the release of their classic early ‘70s albums, Looking On and Message From The Country, the transformation of The Move into Electric Light Orchestra was sort of a growing pain / event for their many fans, but the release of the first ELO album, also released around that same incredible ‘71 / early ‘72 period truly vindicated Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood and drumming ace Bev Bevan. There will never be quite another album with as much scope and musical integrity as the first ELO album eventually released in the US with the weird name No Answer. The eventual breakup of the Lynne / Wood-Move / ELO axis shortly after the release of the first ELO album was the done deal, and like the Beatles breakup just a couple short years earlier, it posed a peculiar dilemma for long time fans. The Lynne / Wood split created two camps—one into the new ELO fronted by Lynne and Bevan and those into Roy Wood’s solo stuff and his newly formed Wizzard. Wood is often regarded as the mastermind of the Move / ELO sound but following Wood’s departure ELO gallantly soldiered on and in no time gave us ELO2. Not as monumental, groovy or bizarre as the first ELO album, ELO2 was nevertheless an exceptional album for it’s time, full of developing ideas and those catchy Jeff Lynne melodies and guitar riffs. Thirty years after it’s 1973 Lp release, ELO2 was again reissued in 2003 on Harvest Records—this time as a double CD set complete with a newly remastered version of the original album, two superbly archived booklets, complete lyric sheets and a number of illuminating period piece recordings made around the time of the original sessions. Put together with care and attention to detail by ELO archivist Rob Caiger and Jeff Lynne, this 30th anniversary double CD edition also contains the original “Showdown” single (not featured on ELO2 but recorded around the same time), that single’s rare b-side instrumental “In Old England Town”, The Elizabeth Lister Observatory Sessions—unreleased recordings featuring T.Rex mainman Marc Bolan on guitar—in addition to a fifty minute second CD entitled The Lost Planet (credited as Roy Wood’s planned follow up to ELO1) filled with live in the studio BBC recordings and several truly rare tracks featuring original Move lead singer Carl Wayne. Caiger and Lynne have really pulled out the stops on this prominent ELO2 reissue, packing in heaps of photos, liner notes and interviews with all the original members. Roy Wood even gets some long overdue credit for his bass and cello performances on a couple ELO2 tracks. The entire happy/sad ELO saga continues till today with Lynne carrying on the ELO spirit on their 2001 CD Zoom and Wood—having toured the U.S. in 2002—is still in there pitchin’ as well. We many never see the original lineup back together again—how about one for old time’s sake?—but as the ELO2 reissue proves, there’s still enough archive music—with new music hopefully coming?—to keep fans happy for the next thirty years! Keep your eyes peeled for more ELO-related reissues from EMI including long overdue titles from Lynne’s pre-Move band The Idle Race, Roy Wood, Wizzard and The Move scheduled for 2003. www.ftmusic.com/elo2



 
  THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL
Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful
Everything Playing
(Buddha / BMG Heritage)

Back during the golden days of ‘60s Top 40 AM radio days, The Lovin’ Spoonful were an unstoppable pop force. Lead by the songwriting and vocal skills of the great John B. Sebastian and the guitar antics of the late, great Zal Yanovsky, the group charted with one great pop classic after another. By the time Hums Of The Lovin’ Spoonful was released at the tail end of 1966, they were already a worldwide phenomenon and the album’s inclusion of the Sebastian-penned classics “Summer In The City” and “Rain On The Roof” reflected that. The Spoonful regrouped without Zal for their January ‘68 album Everything Playing, an album that stands as one of their most underrated and accomplished Lps. Both albums—originally released on Kama Sutra Records—were reissued on CD in early 2003 on Buddha / BMG Heritage. These first ever U.S. reissues of Hums Of The Lovin’ Spoonful and Everything Playing provide a wealth of insight into the Spoonful legacy. Packed with extensive liner notes, excellent remastering, original artwork, bonus tracks and instrumental alternate versions, both CDs—sounding better than ever—are fittingly dedicated to the memory of Zal Yanovsky. www.bmgheritage.com


 
 

PINK FLOYD
Dark Side Of The Moon

(Capitol / EMI)

Capitol Records unveils it’s new line of hybrid SACD’s with a reissue that is usually referred to as Pink Floyd’s quintessential album. Released in 1973 to utter amazement and near shock, it’s sold over 20 million and, even though it wasn’t quite as good as the best parts of Atom Heart Mother or “See Emily Play”, Dark Side Of The Moon was the turning point album that saw the band evolve from their experimental psychedelic early years towards a highly polished, commercial sound sporting a diamond like veneer. This 2003 version of Dark Side Of The Moon features both the CD stereo and 5.1 surround sound versions on one dual layer hybrid disc with both layers featuring SACD’s direct stream digital encoding process that samples the music 64 times faster than CD, making for a very dynamic listening experience. Playable on vintage CD players and also an item of choice for the new line of hi-tech 5.1 surround sound players, Capitol's new 30th anniversary Dark Side sounds great but with it’s ultra hot dynamic range be prepared to crank the volume! www.emimusic.com


 
 
 
   
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