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JUNE 2004








Cloud Nine
(Capitol / EMI / Dark Horse)

They’ve been a long time coming and in early 2004 EMI and Capitol finally reissued a number of too long out of print CDs from Beatles guitar legend George Harrison. His final fully realized studio album album from ‘87, Cloud Nine remains one of the great ‘80s rock releases and was possibly Harrison’s most influential album since his 1970 classic debut All Things Must Pass. And what a lineup indeed—Eric Clapton on guitars with George, Ringo on drums and Elton John, keyboards. A pivotal player on Cloud Nine was album producer and George’s future band mate in The Traveling Wilburys, Jeff Lynne. Lynne—who, at the time was riding high with ELO and enormous rock anthems like “Calling America”—was the perfect candidate to further distill George’s Beatles inspired pop vision. It’s a plain shame they couldn’t do more together but Cloud Nine remains a touchstone work. The catalog of six albums George made for his Dark Horse imprint on Warner Bros.—after leaving EMI for the first time—in the ‘70s is given a proper CD reissue and together they all appear with Cloud Nine in a six CD box set entitled The Dark Horse Years. Included here with Cloud Nine are 33 & 1/3 (1976 with Gary Wright, Tom Scott), the 1979 George Harrison (w/ Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Andy Newmark), Somewhere In England (1981 w/ Gary Brooker, Jim Keltner, Al Kooper), Gone Troppo (1982 w/ Gary, Joe Brown, Jon Lord) and Live In Japan (a new SACD double CD documenting George’s historic 1991 tour of Japan with Eric, Andy Fairweather Low and Chuck Leavell. Each of these exemplary sounding George Harrison reissues feature loads of restored artwork and detailed booklets. The icing on the cake, and perhaps the best reason to buy the complete box set (beside the upgraded sound), is the box set inclusion of a DVD also entitled The Dark Horse Years 1976-1992. With six noteworthy CDs and a DVD containing loads of archival footage, assorted videos, and live footage of the fabled ‘91 Japan tour, The Dark Horse Years box set is a first class way to revisit a miraculous musical legacy.


Sound + Vision
(Virgin / EMI)

Back in 1989, in a strange twist of fate, David Bowie assigned CD rights of his catalog to a fledgling company starting up called Rykodisc. A crafty bunch of knowledgeable music fans with business heads looking to bring a sense of musical realism to the newly christened ‘CD Era’. Teamed with a state of the art mastering engineer called Toby Mountain, Ryko put out all of Bowie’s RCA catalog and more. At the apex of their short lived relationship, Ryko and Bowie also teamed for a three CD box set called Sound + Vision. Long out of print, EMI have seized the reigns, improving the sound quality of the original box set and—using the original box set art work as a jumping off point—the world wide conglomerate has expertly expanded it from the original three CD box to four CDs. EMI’s newly revamped S + V is a must for long time pundits and the optimum primer for those looking to comprehend a historic musical phenomenon they’ve missed. High points are clearly the incredible CD quality and lavish packaging with the track lineup moving beyond the 1980 close of the first box to 1993 including a wealth of remix, single edits and rare CD tracks through till 1993. Clearly, with so much more music to chronicle, Bowie may well intend to make S + V a model to come back to and rework again in perhaps another decade. With so many Bowie videos around, fans may want to check out the double disc, CD + DVD version of Black Tie White Noise. Loaded with a remastered version of the original 1990 CD is an alternate remix version of the entire album on CD and an authentic DVD detailing various tracks of the album sessions and a video featuring Bowie together with his original guitarist Mick Ronson performing the Cream hit “I Feel Free”. Other artists rocking with Bowie during his slightly misdirected neo jazz / dance period are guitar hero Reeves Gabrels, Lester Bowie (no relation) and guitar great Nile Rogers. For the real neophyte or completists keeping score, check out EMI’s 2003 retooling of the basic Best Of Bowie, which chronicles till 1997. But, the CD also includes a nifty bonus DVD with 9 track CD/DVD combo featuring 3 video clips and six remixes.



The Essential Cheap Trick
(Epic / Legacy)

Released in 2004 under the Essential banner on Epic Legacy is The Essential Cheap Trick, charting the pop quartet from their early Epic titles all the way to their 2003 album smash, Special One on Big3 Records. For a group with this much depth of repertoire, the 36 track double CD, The Essential Cheap Trick is an excellent way to sample a range of classic Cheap Trick recorded during four different decades. Topped off with generic Essential cover art and a twelve page discography,The Essential Cheap Trick makes a fine pop package. Released to coincide with their 2003 world tour, The Essential Simon & Garfunkel collects and compiles thirty three classic Simon & Garfunkel tracks. The double CD set contains every S&G song that made the Billboard Hot 100—from their 1965 overdubbed electric single version of “The Sound Of Silence” through till the 1975 reunion single, “My Little Town”. Celebrating 40 years since their 1964 debut album on Columbia, entitled Wednesday Morning 3AM, The Essential Simon & Garfunkel is further fleshed out with ten additional album tracks and eight live tracks as well as a CD booklet with additional discography information. Also related is the first ever U.S. CD release of The Paul Simon Songbook on Columbia Legacy. Recorded in London in 1964, just prior to the massive breakthrough of “The Sound Of Silence”, the fourteen track CD features solo acoustic Simon versions that would end up as future Simon & Garfunkel smashes. The CD features the album’s original 1965 Simon-composed liner notes. Another Epic Legacy collection worth checking out The Essential ELO. Of course, there’s no Roy Wood, but the 15 track makes a great argument for the notion that Jeff Lynne helped change the face of pop for the better in the ‘80s. Legacy also lead the way when it comes to instrumental hard rock and heavy metal guitar riffing with a pair of double CD collections from Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. The double Satch CD—The Electric Joe Satriani: An Anthology—samples 13 different Epic releases, spanning 1986 to a track from his amazing 2003 CD Strange And Beautiful Music and an unreleased track from 2002. Of interest here are Satriani’s extensive track by track liner notes. Clocking in with 32 tracks, The Infinite Steve Vai: An Anthology starts with the ax-master’s 1984 indie release Flex-Able moving to tracks Vai recorded as lead guitarist with David Lee Roth, Alcatrazz, Whitesnake and more recently, atmospheric instrumental guitar workouts released on Sony, Epic and Relativity in addition to archival works recorded in the new millennium on his self-owned Favored Nations label. Both Vai and Joe Satriani have a long history working together, since the days of their early works on Queens, N.Y.-based Relativity Records. Released around the time of the fall G3 '03 tour which featured Satch, Vai and Yngwie, each of these Satch and Vai anthologies should also be considered essential.

Nilsson Schmilsson
(BMG Heritage)

Although he’s probably best remembered for his Grammy winning version of “Everybody’s Talking”, the late, great Harry Nilsson made a number of brilliant pop-rock studio albums, the most famous of which, Nilsson Schmilsson was tastefully reissued by BMG Heritage early in 2004. Featuring in depth interview quotes regarding the 1971 recording of Nilsson Schmilsson from Harry, album producer Richard Perry, Beatles associate / bass great Klaus Voorman, guitarists Chris Spedding, Herbie Flowers—in addition to album art from Jan & Dean’s Dean TorranceNilsson Schmilsson has been spruced up by BMG / RCA with six bonus tracks, rare photos, key recording info and in-depth liner notes worthy of an artist The Beatles considered their long lost American cousin. Loaded with classic rock hits like Harry’s cover of the Badfinger classic “Without You” (which earned him his second Grammy), “Jump Into The Fire” and “Coconut” (another pair of top ten hits), Nilsson Schmilsson was a much deserved chart topper from an artist that helped define the high art of ‘60s pop.


Elephants Memory
(Collector's Choice)

A band long associated with the great John Lennon, NYC-rockers Elephant's Memory is fondly recalled by Collector's Choice with a 2004 CD reissue release of their self-titled classic debut, Elephant's Memory. Originally recorded for the amazing Buddah / Kama Sutra Records back in 1969, the album spotlighted multi-faced aspects of this gifted horn-driven hippie rock ensemble that featured unique contributions early on from singers Carly Simon who left to be replaced by Martha Velez as well as Bowie cohort Tony Visconti, who co-writes a number of tracks here. There's a bonafied Zappa inspired madness at work here, but you can also hear succinct musical rational as to why Lennon recorded his most notorious political work, Sometime In New York City with EM in tow. In fact, Lennon would go on and produce his own album for Elephant's Memory in ‘72, strangely enough also titled just Elephant's Memory, this time on Lennon's own Apple Records imprint. With a jazzy and authentic '60s baroque pop vibe going on, this timely reissue CD shines an overdue spotlight on a certified NYC rock legend.

Selected Recordings

The ECM :rarum series features a number of respectable compilations from the biggest and brightest artists the famed jazz label has presented over the years. For guitar watchers it doesn’t get any better than Pat Metheny - Selected Recordings :rarum IX, released in early 2004. Metheny’s first album for ECM was his ‘75/76 album Bright Size Life, although it wouldn’t be until his 1978 album, simply called Pat Metheny Group, that he would break through in a huge way. Metheny’s vibrant combination of jazz and fusion was just the ticket to bring him to the attention of rock fans looking for something new and different during that restless mid ‘70s period. A wide range of Metheny albums on ECM followed including New Chautauqua (1978), American Garage (1979) and Travels (1982). Thanks to Metheny’s guitar craft and innovation, future success was assured and the story continues into the new century. For his 2004 :rarum compilation, Metheny represents himself, hand picking tracks from nine different ECM releases. To find out more about Metheny’s incredible guitar legacy and influence on ‘70s jazz, Selected Recordings :rarum IX is an excellent place to start. The twenty five page CD booklet puts it together in style, capped off by Metheny’s own detailed track by track synopsis of his music those irreplaceable early years.
Another ECM artist who has made an enormous impact among guitar fans and musicians over the years is Norwegian guitar icon Terje Rydal. Rypdal’s Selected Recordings - :rarum is another ECM title well worth hearing. Rypdal’s working relationship with ECM dates back to 1971 and his early works with drummer Jon Christensen. With thirteen tracks personally selected by Rypdal, his 70+ minute :rarum collection collects various instrumental music from a number of classic ECM titles including his self-titled 1971 album, his 1975 double Lp Odyssey, Waves (from 1977), Blue (1986) along with several ‘90s albums including the 1998 Double Concerto / 5th Symphony recorded with The Riga Festival Orchestra and fellow guitarist Ronni Le Tekro. Once again, the detailed discography, rare photos and illuminating liner notes makes the CD a valuable primer on this underrated guitar ace.
The :rarum series also distills the best album tracks from several other guitarists who have proved to be invaluable to the well documented ECM history. Other guitar based :rarum collections on ECM including 70+ minute Selected Recordings single CD compilations from John Abercrombie (2004 CD release spanning 1974-2000 w/ Jan Hammer, Ralph Towner) Brazilian World Beat bossa nova / jazz guitarist Egberto Gismonti (2004 CD release spanning 1977-1995 w/ Nando Carneiro, Nana Vasconcelos) and Bill Frisell (2002 CD release 1981-1996 w/ Jan Garbarek, John Surman).

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