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November 2002

 

     
 


JOHN LENNON

 
ED SULLIVAN

LOU REED

ROBBIE ROBERTSON

DAN AR BRAZ

AL CAIOLA
 
     
  JOHN LENNON
Mind Games
(Capitol / EMI)

The third in a series of early ‘70s John Lennon solo studio albums that truly exemplified the finest moments of his post-Beatles work, Mind Games, the album, kicked off with the famous title track which landed into the Cashbox Top 10 just in time for X-mas 1973. With and without The Fab Four, Lennon could always be counted on to deliver his brilliant songs to the fans in time for the holidays and “Mind Games”, the song, has long stood the test of time like a fine wine. Looking back, perhaps the album’s cover art was a barometer as to how far outside the mainstream Lennon had gone since leaving England and resettling in NYC. Lennon would go on to release some great music in the brief time he had left, but regarding his solo career, a clear break came with Mind Games. Like the reissues of Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, the 2002 Mind Games CD reissue on Capitol / EMI features a prominent and very Yoko Ono-inspired arty design and a booklet complete with lyrics and a number of Lennon’s playfully sarcastic lithograph depictions. An even more impressive fact is that for the 2002 reissue CD the sound has been expertly remixed with Lennon’s vocals moved up from under the mix and is right up front and personal. According to Yoko Ono, “When considering this program of reissues, I kept thinking how John would have been thrilled by the possibilities offered by current recording technology. Thus, along with the great team at Abbey Road, I was happy to ensure that these classic records could fully benefit from the improved mixing and mastering facilities available to us now.” Several home demo recordings culled from the album sessions are added in as bonus tracks making Mind Games yet another fitting testament to Lennon’s musical flame.
www.capitolrecords.com


 
  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Ed Sullivan's Rock 'N' Roll Classics
(Rhino)

The shaping of the American and British ‘60s music scene took place live in NYC on the stage of the Sunday night Ed Sullivan Show. As it went down back then, the hour long Sullivan show was considered the holy grail for ‘60s pop culture and music mavens making an hour with Ed Sullivan the next best thing to heaven. Anyone who witnessed seeing The Beatles on black and white TV taking America by storm on a winter’s night back in February ‘64 on the Sullivan show in prime time Sunday night can attest to the magic of Ed Sullivan. Now in 2002, Rhino has put together the ultimate Sullivan DVD box set—blending live performances by The Beatles and the best of the British invasion with American pop greats—from The Four Seasons to Jefferson Airplane—while devoting entire DVDs to some of Motown’s great legends. From Elvis and Buddy Holly to the 1970 sounds of Creedence, Michael Jackson and The Carpenters, The Ed Sullivan Show can almost single handedly take credit for introducing America to the best music around. Sullivan wove his ‘really big shoo’-biz magic from 1948-1971 and it’s never been the same since he left us. A half dozen live early Beatles videos, coupled with ample Elvis and Buddy Holly and so much more makes the 9 DVD volume Ed Sullivan’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Classics the preeminent choice for the prime stocking stuffer of 2002. If you can stand the thought of having no Beatles, Buddy or Elvis tracks, Rhino compensates with two single DVD Best Of Sullivan sets. Chart Toppers Volume 1 & Volume 2 amply demonstrate to mere mortals how Ed-Yee (as he was called by his long time pal Topo Gigio) did his magic deed. Although Rhino’s video box takes these classic live appearances out of the context of Ed’s hourly variety show, the magic is still there and coupled with the show's superb stagesettings, studio sound and lighting really demonstrates the power of ‘60s American television. With the exception of some truly hilarious (partly lip-synched) segments with The Mamas And The Papas, it genuinely looks, sounds and feels like these groups are really playing and connecting to the live audience in the theater. Although The Beatles are sorely missing on both single disc sets, there are some great performances sprinkled in on Volume 1 from The Lovin’ Spoonful (with the ultimate video for “Do You Believe In Magic”), The Association, songwriting great Johnny Rivers doing a startling “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” and The Rolling Stones with their mind-blowing appearance consisting of live versions of “Paint It, Black” and “Ruby Tuesday” that is nothing short of startling. Seeing Brian Jones in full flight, seated, playing sitar live on the Sullivan stage gives every indication of a group caught live full flight in their prime. Accept no substitute. Ed Sullivan’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Classics is the real deal...at least until each and every Sullivan show is available on DVD. www.rhino.com


 
 

LOU REED
Transformer
(BMG / RCA)

The story of Lou Reed’s incredible 1972 album Transformer is well documented on the recent Classic Albums DVD on Eagle Eye, but to hear the newly revamped Transformer CD you’ll have to pick up the 2002 remaster on RCA / BMG Heritage. The story of Transformer centers on the mutual admiration between Lou Reed and David Bowie and the late great Mick Ronson. With both Reed and Bowie signed to RCA Records at the dawn of the ‘70s, it seemed natural for Bowie and Ronson to produce Reed, who had been looking to breakthrough as a solo artist following his years with Velvet Underground, a band greatly admired by Bowie. Having recently released his ‘72 classic Ziggy Stardust, Bowie was riding a wave of popularity back then and figured he’d further his unfolding influence by producing Lou Reed. Looking back at his and Ronson’s brilliant production of Transformer, Bowie recalls, “I was petrified that he said yes to working with me in a producer’s capacity. I had so many ideas and I felt so intimidated by my knowledge of the work that he had already done.” Thankfully Bowie and Ronson—assisted by some of England’s best session guys and Bowie engineer Ken Scott—rose to occasion and all told, thirty years later, Transformer remains one of Reed’s finest post-Velvet Underground solo albums. And for good reason. The songs (including perennial favorites like “Satellite Of Love”, “Perfect Day” and “Vicious”) really hold up and the state of the art production by Bowie and Ronson is as good as any the pair could have wished for. Reed’s original label, RCA has done a great job on their 2002 Transformer reissue, loading the CD with a detailed booklet, a pair of bonus tracks and of course the indelible Transformer artwork that graced the original Lp.
www.buddharecords.com


 
  ROBBIE ROBERTSON
Classic Masters
(Capitol)

Back in the late ‘90s, rock legend Robbie Robertson released two albums that drew alot of attention to his native American Indian heritage. For his 2002 Classic Masters release on Capitol Records, Robertson assembles thirteen tracks from his late ‘90s albums Music For The Native Americans and Contact From The Underworld Of Redboy. With several songs featuring new remixes from studio experts like Glen Ballard, the album—while not quite as accessible as the ‘60s and ‘70s song classics Robbie wrote as the leader of The Band—sounds quite amazing and is a fitting tribute to Robertson’s pioneering spirit and quest for musical integrity. New liner notes by Robertson further reexamines his musical origins.
www.hollywoodandvine.com

 


 
  DAN AR BRAZ
Made In Breizh
(Tinder)

One of the leading World Music labels in America today, Tinder Records recently released a 2002 compilation from French Brittany native Dan Ar Braz. Made In Breizh features the music legend performing all sorts of electric and acoustic guitars while receiving support from dozens of players. With it’s inspiring mix of Celtic pop and folk musics, the album compiles a range of traditional and original instrumental and vocal (sung in English) music from the guitarist’s earlier albums. Back in the ‘70s Ar Braz played with Alan Stivell’s group and was a member of Fairport Convention and as such, his solo music has always had a similar folk-based timeless quality to it. Instrumental pieces like the lush orchestral sounding “Faces Of Spain” mix nicely with other tracks layered with bagpipes, flutes, whistles and female vocals that are at times reminiscent of Celtic songstress Enya. In addition, the CD booklet features beautiful color photos and track info. www.tinderrecords.com


 
  AL CAIOLA
Bonanza 1960-1969
(Raven)

The wide-ranging influence of ‘60s and ‘70s American and British pop music on all parts of the world is still reaping rewards. When it comes to keeping the spirit of American ‘60s pop music alive, Australia-based Raven Records are tops down under! Sort of like the Aussie version of America’s Sundazed Records, Raven is widely appreciated for their colorful compilations featuring the best of British and American pop sounds. On the label’s 2002 schedule is a 33 track compilation from ‘60s session guitar great Al Caiola entitled Bonanza! Of course, it was Caiola’s guitar on the fabled ‘60s TV show Bonanza! and Raven’s compilation is the first CD available of Caiola’s ‘60s instrumental guitar-based recordings. The 77 minute set is balanced by a full color CD booklet that can be described as dazzling. Another 2002 Raven compilation worth checking out is An American Quilt 1967-1974 from ‘60s pop songstress Bobbie Gentry. Gentry scored an out of sight left field Summer ‘67 hit on Capitol Records with her self-composed “Ode To Billy Joe”. Often thought of as a one hit wonder, Gentry was a highly underrated singer-songwriter as the 26 track CD deftly proves. As is typical with Raven, the CD booklet reads like a color encyclopedia about the legendary ‘60s singer proving the Aussies really know their American pop. Also up and out on Raven in 2002 is Lightning’s Girl: Greatest Hits 1965-1971 from Frank’s daughter Nancy Sinatra. Her collaborations with the great Lee Hazelwood yielded the massive mid ‘60s chart hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” and other excellent ‘60s chart entries and the 26 track Lightning’s Girl—with possibly the most eye-catching Raven CD book ever!—covers all the highpoints of Nancy’s Reprise Records releases. Another 2002 winner on Raven is a two for one, 25 track reissue from Sir Douglas Quintet entitled 1+1+1=4 (from 1970) / The Return Of Doug Saldana (1971). Pairing two classic early ‘70s albums from Texas honky tonk blues-pop guitarist Doug Sahm and company—along with four bonus tracks from 1972—Raven’s reissue is a fitting look back at the underrated Sir Douglas Quintet. Filled with expertly detailed and sumptuous looking pop collections of the highest caliber, the entire Raven catalog remains a goldmine of ‘60s and ‘70s pop. www.ravenrecords.com.au



 
 
 
   
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