Record Label
and Music Spotlight 









BLUE COLOR STONE RECORDS - Earlier in 2010, guitarist Kenny Håkansson emailed me to say that Bo Hansson had died. Sort of shocking, that Kenny took it in his usual stride, never letting on to me his sadness. So in late 2010, Kenny surprises again, this time in a positive way, with his new CD Psychedelic Dream. Perhaps an allusion to his fantastic early ‘70s recordings with Bo, the music is dark and psychedelic in a bluesy way with Kenny singing on most of the songs. His fantastic guitar playing is right there along the way, but these songs reveal another side of Kenny, the rock side, that hasn’t been heard since his amazing rock ‘n’ roll covers album, as his alter ego Beno Zeno back in 1981. The track “Losing You” is dark and somber, at once reflective of losing after a deeper darker kind of love. Haunting stuff really and only a guitarist of Håkansson’s stature could pull this off. Even with all this rocking around from one of the architects of European instrumental rock, Kenny manages to execute a number of his brilliant, patented guitar feats. To know him is to love him, but to hear him is to enter Håkansson’s realm of rock guitar sorcery. /

- Back in the summer of 1980, Canadian band Martha And The Muffins were blowing the minds of music lovers with a fresh type of New Wave rock sound—mixing pop and post-punk with what would come to be known as alternative art-rock. Early ‘80s Lp classics Metro Music, Danseparc and This Is The Ice Age would cement the band’s reputation among the in crowd. Despite continued musical innovations and several hugely popular albums during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, following 1992’s Modern Lullaby M+M put their sound on ice. In an amazing bout of good luck, late in 2010 Martha And The Muffins released their long awaited comeback album, Delicate. Still featuring the team of singer Martha Johnson and guitarist Mark Gane, on Delicate the pair are joined by Eric Paul (drums) and Leo Valvassori (keyboards, bass). Gane and Johnson are veritable legends on the alternative rock scene and, although it’s just about 31 years since their heyday, on Delicate it sounds like they haven’t missed a step or a beat in the 18 years since they stopped releasing albums. Martha And The Muffins have been described by some as the Canadian version of Roxy Music or King Crimson and, thanks to the artful electric guitar sound of guitarist Mark Gane and Martha Johnson’s unique vocal presence, M+M have legions of loyal fans who still attest to their greatness. Delicate is a fitting testament to the band’s enduring legacy and, with eleven newly penned tracks, it’s a most welcome return to form indeed. For those just tuning in who might have missed the 30+ history of this amazing band, the band’s self-owned Muffin Music label also has a CD reissue of 1983’s Danseparc, which was co-produced by long time M+M associate Daniel Lanois. Also released is a 1983 interview CD entitled Parctalk, featuring an interview, edited as a 30 track interview CD, with Gane and Johnson discussing the album complete with a CD closing original mix experiment of the title cut by Lanois. Last but not least is the CD single release of Echo Beach: 30th Anniversary Version, recorded June 2010, and featuring a quite different, neo-jazz version of “Echo Beach”, celebrating the band’s first huge hit released way back in the summer of 1980.

- By the time he released Led Zeppelin III in 1970, Robert Plant was the number one rock star on the planet. His earthy rock vocal edge remains in fine form on his 2010 solo album Band Of Joy. Commenting on his latest foray into Americana and working with Nashville guitar legend Buddy Miller Plant adds, ‘Buddy’s zone is beautiful, with a lot of reflections going back into mid-Fifties rockabilly, the singing fisherman and all the great country stuff, along with the soul and R&B from Memphis.’ Plant superbly conjures a range of musical styles and genres. Backed by some great players—including multi-instrumentalist Darrell Scott, Patty Griffin and Byron House—the twelve cut Band Of Joy even rivals some of the more acoustically driven moments on that famous third Zeppelin album.

- With A&R handled by the esteemed Bas Hartong, the 2010 CD release of Listening Booth: 1970 from singer Marc Cohn honors a truly sacred year in the history of rock music. The 12 track Listening Booth: 1970 touches on some key moments of song classic from the big ‘70. Cat Stevens, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison and more are given a fresh coat of sonic paint with these vital new interpretations by Cohn, who is ably prodded on by the deft touch of producer / guitarist John Leventhal, who, by the way also supplies a bulk of the instrumentation here. Sure it’s a low-key approach, with Cohn echoing traces of J.J. Cale inspired subtlety that gives it a cool kick. J.J. is also covered here with Cohn’s treatment of “After Midnight”. Cohn receives excellent support by the albums co-producer Rick DePofi and a number of esteemed musicians, including drummers Shawn Pelton and Dan Reiser, with guest spots here including the harmony vocals of Aimee Mann and Jim Lauderdale. The studio sound and mastering is very good too as is Cohn’s memorable liner notes about discovering these classic rockers back home, while growing up in Cleveland. /

- Chicago-based rockers Flame Shark cut loose on their 2010 CD Farm Life. Formed in 2005, the band comes into their own on Farm Life, featuring solid musicianship from all five members including guitarists Justin Jahnke and Mike “Goldenwings” Meske. The keyboard / organ sound of Rusey “LaRue” Lee is reminiscent of Garth Hudson of The Band, the ‘60s classic rockers who clearly have a big influence on these young rockers. Backing up the three is a pair of drummers, Doug Gay and James Ratke. Also appearing with some tasty electric guitar work is Flame Shark’s musical soul brother Marc Ford. With blazing guitars and some fine tracks, the album works because it’s superbly performed, recorded and mastered. Also dig that crazy cover art! Farm Life indeed.

- The cover art of Winter Collection from L.A. based pop-rock group The Northstar Session looks really cool. Looks like a beat up old Lp jacket from the ‘60s and the catchy pop music is also kind of ‘60s oriented in a way that says a lot about a rising group of musicians in the early 21st century. There’s only seven cuts here but the whole mini-album is so well done, it’ll have you coming back for seconds. Guitarist / vocalist Matthew Szlachetka gets solid support from Kane McGee (drums) and Dave Basaraba (keyboards) along with a number of guest artists filling up the soundstage.


- Jazz rock fusion fans will be in for a real treat upon picking up the 2010 solo CD from U.K. drumming ace Gary Husband. Entitled Dirty & Beautiful, the 12 cut CD shines a light on Husband’s exceptional drumming and percussion skills and also spotlights his compositional strengths. Whether playing hard blues rock—as he did so successfully with Jack Bruce and Robin Trower on the 2008 Seven Moons album—or experimental fusion as he explored on his 2008 double CD archive on Angel Air entitled The Complete Diary Of A Plastic Box, Husband always rises to the occasion. Case in point is the jazz-rock instrumental release of Dirty & Beautiful on the Abstract Logix label. For the new album—to back up his drumming and compositions, Gary has lined up an amazing bunch of players to help assist his vision including (in no special order) guitarists Allan Holdsworth, Robin Trower, John McLaughlin, Steve Hackett and Steve Topping. And that’s just guitarists. Also on hand are a number of bass players as well as fusion legends Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman. Commenting on the release, Gary states that the album ‘actually resembles closely what my diary looks like. It documents some of the many relationships and avenues of participation I am fortunate to enjoy in my working life as a musician, with artists that I both love and admire.’ Well said indeed, and fans lucky enough to hear this should note that Gary Husband is promising a Dirty & Beautiful volume two in the spring of 2011. /

BIG DEAL RECORDS - This brutal winter in NYC is killing me. One antidote might be a trip to Hawaii, another might be to give a listen to Crescent Shores, the 2010 CD release by renowned Florida guitarist Les Sabler. Les has remained a mainstay on the jazz fusion scene for much of the past two decades and, much like the unique and picturesque cover art of some drop dead gorgeous Florida beach (or is that Hawaii?), the eleven cut Crescent Shores takes you to a scenic and quite relaxed musical destination. Ostensibly, you might call Sabler’s surf ‘n’ sun flecked instrumental guitar sound smooth jazz, but in the spirit of guitar heroes like George Benson, his chops speak the language of jazz. Sabler's tastefully performed arrangements are light ages beyond merely straightforward and the whole CD just sounds better with each repeated spin. A solid band—including drummers Erik Hargrove and David “Frankie” Toler along with percussionist Joe Lala—puts some musical muscle behind Sabler’s tangy guitar grooves. If it’s hard to find a high point (though “Peace River Suite” is an guitar instro gem), it’s because the album moves quite smoothly from start to finish and truth be told, the CD works best as a whole. Spin after spin, Crescent Shores hardly wears out its welcome. Coupled with that mirage like island palm tree cover art, Crescent Shores will have you coming back for more. /

COORDINATE RECORDS - It’s great to hear an acoustic guitarist who so clearly has such a fondness for the rock edge. That’s the story with the 2010 CD from El Paso based guitarist Dan Lambert entitled The Double Drum Trio. Already creating a stir in the guitar world, Lambert is joined by multi-percussionists Ricardo Amaya and Erik Hickerson. Lambert turns in a fine performance on acoustic guitars as well as more exotic Middle Eastern instruments like sarod, oud and ruan. Perhaps the coolest thing here is just how well the double drum sound embellishes Lambert’s moods and guitar tracks. Not only is it derivative of the acoustic guitar genre but Lambert isn’t afraid to bring in shades of World Music, rock, New Age, jazz and surf-rock. Even though mainly acoustic and very easy on the ears in general, some tracks feature an electric guitar sound in an astoundingly simulating way. In fact, the lead off track “Wadi A Go-Go” is like a surf music possessed Leo Kottke and Ralph Towner jamming with The Ventures. The CD is superbly recorded and the artwork kind of captures that bizarre early ‘60s vibe when Martin Denny, The Ventures and John Fahey were all in their prime. Amazing beyond words, follow The Double Drum Trio down to Lambertland.

DAPTONE RECORDS - On their 2010 album, III, the Brooklyn based Budos Band inflict some serious musical damage with a steamy, hot mix of horn based Afro-Soul jazz. With their full bodied band sound blending the sounds of Africa with driving, pulsating horn driven neo soul-rock, there’s nods here to ‘60s soundtrack music, R&B and definitely jazz. On the eleven cut CD there’s plenty of original music ideas with the cool album closing cover of the Beatles’ classic “Day Tripper” gets a solid makeover by The Budos Band. I could see John Lennon digging this eclectic, Afro-tinged soul rock brew!

DECLASSIFIED RECORDS - A legend of the ‘70s jazz-fusion scene, bass great Percy Jones returned in 2010 with his latest project. The CD release of Casting Shadows by the trio known as Bangtower takes a fresh look at Percy’s penchant for hard hitting jazz-rock instrumentals. Backing up his famous fretless bass and keyboards, Percy gets solid support from Neil Citron (guitars/keyboards) and Walter Garces (drums/percussion). Echoing his pioneering ‘70s era, instrumental rock work with Brand X, Percy rocks hard throughout the CD yet his dedicated, artful, fusion virtuosity always comes shining through. Amazingly, drummer Walter Garces also worked with the latest incarnation of ‘60s rockers The Electric Prunes, so there’s also a trace of psychedelia in the mix. And don’t forget that harrowing CD cover art—just amazing! From jazz and funk to fusion flavored instro rock—it’s all there in the Bangtower mix. /

DOUG JOHNS - A venturesome and volatile trip into funkified fusion, the mainly instrumental Stank is a solid 2010 CD release from jazz-rock bassist Doug Johns. Describing his music as ‘Extreme Funk Bass’, Johns gets top notch backup from his band including the drumming of Chris Ceja and more including key spots by fusion fretboard ace Oz Noy. Stank is funk fusion for the future. If Johns can’t get your ass moving you might be dead, although the zombie couch crowd will get equally slammed by these fat, slammin’ stank funk instrumentals.

ELECTRO-FI - Italian guitarist Enrico Crivellaro smokes the stuff out of his electric guitar on the 2010 CD release of Mojo Zone. Citing huge instrumental, blues-rock guitar heroes such as Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard and the legendary Phil Upchurch as well as jazz guitar icon Kenny Burrell among his biggest guitar influences, Enrico gets solid backing from his band including Pietro Toucher (keys), Simone Serafini (bass) and Silvio Berger (drums). Whether you did the hard hitting, instro blues rock swing of Ronnie and Duke or the elegant blues / jazz sound of jazz guitar giants such as Mr. Burrell, Enrico has you covered on the tasty, groove guitar based sound of Mojo Zone.

FAVORED NATIONS - Watching Tommy Emmanuel play a live show is the aural equivalent of watching a freight train steaming down the line. The energy, excitement and thrill of watching Emmanuel seize command and control of his acoustic guitar is an experience unmatched in modern music. Recent live albums from Tommy on Favored Nations—including the acclaimed Center Stage CD and DVD—lays any argument about that to rest. Same pretty much can be said about Tommy’s 2010 double CD set on Favored Nations entitled Little By Little. Although he was greatly impacted by American guitarists Les Paul and Chet Atkins, over the years Tommy has truly developed his own trademark instrumental guitar sound. For his 24 track double CD set, Tommy chose a Swahili proverb as the inspiration for the title Little By Little. Tommy explains, ‘The proverb holds a special significance to me because it’s a lesson I had to learn in my life—to take things one day at a time and not be so concerned about tomorrow and I think that’s an important lesson to learn.’ Although Little By Little is primarily an acoustic based instrumental music showcase for Tommy’s distinctive finger style solo guitar sound, the set also features guest appearances from a number of artists including Rick Price, Victor Wooten, Doyle Dykes and a track with singers Anthony Snape and Pam Rose, who join forces with Tommy on the title track “Haba Na Haba”—Swahili for “Little By Little”—which is featured twice, both as an instrumental and a vocal version. In the well crafted booklet accompanying the double CD set, Tommy goes deep in his liner notes about how ‘life is not a rehearsal’ and then he speaks about the need to ‘find our mission and run to it with all our strength and energy.’ Guitarists and guitar lovers will find much to applaud on Little By Little and perhaps two words that best describe the fretboard mastery in play here are: Mission Accomplished. /

GEOMAGNETIC RECORDS - Once again, London based guitarist Phi Yaan-Zek turns in a brilliant instrumental rock fusion recording. Amazingly, the entire track list of Dance With The Anima is recorded in and around a 51 minute drum solo by drummer Marco Minnemann, who is featured here along with the keyboards of Lalle Larsson and several guest artists as well. What follows musically sounds like navigating uncharted waters with daring ears. Described as a dazzling film score, and a prog-rock fusion journey, Phi Yaan-Zek's Dance With The Anima is a poly-rhythmic instrumental rock fusion masterpiece that owes as much to European music icons such as Sweden’s Zamla as it does to modern fretboard aces like Steve Vai and Mike Keneally. Funny how, while listening to certain
Dance With The Anima tracks, I was imagining some pretty far out scenarios—like how about Frank Zappa producing a rock album by the exotic Island music bandleader Martin Denny? That’s how truly offbeat and how musically all inclusive Phi Yaan-Zek is. Signaling further unique musical approaches here, the rhythmic percussive backdrop for this unusual album—Minnemann’s “Normalizer 2”—is actually the latest in a series of Minnemann releases comprised of 50+ minute drum solos that also, not so randomly appear as the basis for other albums by pioneering fusion guitar figures including Mike Keneally, Trey Gunn, Jason Sadites and others including Marco himself. Witnessing Minnemann’s latest drumming merger with cutting edge musicians—it’s just incredible to hear how masterfully Phi and Larsson duck and dive in and around Minnemann’s startling, precise and innovative drum work. The 22 track CD sounds as fantastic as the music therein, and coupled with some high tech recording and mastering innovations, the CD really captures the esprit de corps with audiophile clarity. Plus, the Dance With The Anima CD cover art is also quite intriguing, featuring some fantastic, surreal paintings enhanced by an unusual glossy packaging sheen. Somewhere in heaven, Lars Hollmer is smiling down on us mere mortals. /

IF A IS B PUBLISHING - A guitarist’s guitarist, Bill Burke is a master of the tap style guitar. Similar to the stick in sound, Burke’s 8 string guitar gets excellent support for his 2008 album With. Burke’s hypnotic tap guitar is backed up by Bruno Nasta (violin) and Jim Donovan (drums). Highly listenable, Burke enhances his artful instrumental sound with rhythmic classical and smooth jazz sound tastefully sketched out with traces of New Age. Burke has several guitar masterpieces to his credit including 2005 masterpiece, Comma. On With, Burke’s neo-guitar sound travels to some highly imaginative and scenic musical destinations. Keep your ears open for Bill's upcoming 2011 recording.

NABOPHONE - Like an Ingmar Bergman movie—where darkness and despair sometimes overshadow hope and light—the music of guitarist Peder Nabo engulfs your senses and darkens your world. Actually, I first heard Nabo back in the mid ‘70s. As the guitarist / keyboardist in ‘70s Swedish prog-rockers Ragnarök, Nabo recorded that bands all time classic Fjärlar I Magen back in 1979 and he also took part in the Ragnarök reunion Path album from 2009. Although not featuring any of his ‘70s era Ragnarök band mates, Nabo’s 2010 album Nattens Prinsessa makes for an intriguing spin, especially for Ragnarök fans who continue to enjoy that band’s amazing approach to instrumental rock. The sound here is processed but quite organic too. It’s rock but in the spirit of Scandinavian guitar giants such as Terje Rypdal, it’s a mercurial kind of instrumental rock that allows the dreamy and atmospheric moodiness of folk, lite psychedelia and even New Age to overtake the sound spectrum. Commenting on the album Nabo adds, ‘The title of the album during process was “Dark Twang” and I wanted us to make music for electric guitar that was subdued. Music that didn’t fear being calm and melancholic.’ Nabo also adds, ‘Nattens Prinsessa (Selenicus Pteranthus) is the white flower. "Princess Of The Night", directly translated. It comes out in the sunset and fades before the sunrise.’ For Nattens Prinsessa, Nabo has surrounded himself with some fine players such as fellow guitarist Niclas Höglind on 8 string guitar as well as drummer Kristofer Johanson. There’s also a cover here of a cool instrumental Nabo wrote for the first Ragnarök album back in 1975. Those lucky enough to have heard Ragnarök back in the ‘70s and early ‘80s will enjoy this intriguing instrumental rock album. One other thing worth noting here is the amazing packaging of the CD itself which is a really cosmic looking origami style of CD packaging, which to my knowledge has never been done before. Contact the artist directly: /

PARTIAL MUSIC - A pioneering musician who is well established in the avant gard / progressive guitar world, Robert Spalding Newcomb presents another side of his muse with his 2008 double CD set, Anastasia Of The Gardens - Electronic Works 1988-1997. Guitarist yes, but knew Rob was such an electronic music aficionado? His double CD set sounds more like Wendy Carlos than say, Carlos Santana. Reflective of the daring vision of artists in the mid and late 1980’s, Spalding Newcomb’s electronic music set uses computer software programs that skillfully implement nylon string MIDI guitar with keyboards, but the end result is anything but solely guitaristic. Amazingly, Spalding Newcomb’s late ‘80s music is also superbly recorded and sounds great 22 years later. Recorded in NYC, New Hampshire and Michigan, the sound throughout is highly experimental but the soundtrack / audiolog type results are quite listenable. The two CD set is superbly packaged and is filled with all kinds of information and historic liner notes on these early recordings. Another Spalding Newcomb CD worth giving a listen to is Undiscovered. A 2007 live recording from Ann Arbor, Michigan, the 62 minute CD is broken into two parts—”Connecting The Dots” (“Suite For Guitar In The Present Moment”) and “Light Of Life”, which is an experimental foray using the sound of amplified sitar. The sound throughout is more guitar-centric sounding yet it’s also highly experimental. For a look and a listen to Spalding Newcomb’s more direct yet amazing guitar work in action you can always look back and listen to his 2004 Native Planting CD, which combines thirteen concert and studio recordings from 2001 to 2004 featuring Newcomb’s deft approach on amplified sitar, nylon string MIDI guitar and assorted high tech computer gear. These three CD releases combine for an up close and personal look at one of America’s most sonically adventurous, eclectic guitar figures.

PROJEKT - One of the top Goth Rock and ambient / experimental recording labels in the U.S., Projekt released a 2010 CD from Norwegian guitarist Erik Wøllo entitled Gateway. Dark and dreamy New Age oriented electronics is Wøllo’s forte, and on Gateway he doesn’t disappoint. Like German electronic music masters Tangerine Dream, Wøllo paints stark sonic portraits, yet his Teutonic influences are etched by his more pastoral Scandinavian side. Wøllo blends his guitar sound quite deep in the mix with heavy electronic synth scapes dominating but overall, the moods conjured are done with stunning authority. With the entire twelve track CD composed, performed and produced by Wøllo, the instrumentation of choice blends in a stellar mix of electric guitars, guitar synthesizers, keyboards, Wollo VST instruments, percussion and programming. Striking cover art and packaging seals the deal on this modern e-music classic. Projekt founder / guitarist Sam Rosenthal also has a new for 2010 album out on his label featuring his band Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Entitled 10 Neurotics, the CD features Rosenthal’s vocals and guitar supported by various players including vocalist Athan Mauoulis, guitarist/vocalist Valerie Gentile and others. Some have described Black Tape For A Blue Girl as Tom Waits meets Serge Gainsbourg and as such the sound is theatrical, epic and gloomy with mixed but always startling results.

ROPEADOPE - Some say English must be the international language but in reality, music is the international language. Especially instrumental music, and to prove the point, guitarist Todd Clouser released an amazing new album entitled A Love Electric in 2010. I guess Todd got tired of those brutal Minnesota winters, so he now calls Baja Mexico home these days. Perhaps inspired by the beautiful palm trees and beaches of Mexico, Clouser cuts loose on an adventurous instrumental jazz-rock fusion album that transcends genres by merging a swirling palate of musical styles and sounds. Clouser, like many of us, grew up listening to Hendrix, King Crimson and Led Zeppelin but in a bold move, Clouser blends his love of progressive rock with an appreciation of jazz giants like Miles Davis and John Coltane along with current guitar influences like Bill Frisell and Nels Cline. Even with these influences looming, A Love Electric is a remarkably innovative and cohesive listening experience, start to finish. Clouser’s electric guitar work dominates the sound stage and his music is colorful and captivating, often sounding like three different bands in one during the course of the song. Clouser gets solid backing from a number of players—including occasional trumpet blasts from New York City trumpeter Steven Bernstein—and the CD is quite well recorded and mastered. Another thing that blew my mind here is how sometimes, Clouser sounds like a television theme music writer, sounding inspired by any number of mid ‘70s TV anthems. Wild stuff really. Another great highlight here among the Clouser originals is a solid, and driving sentimental instrumental cover of the Harry Nilsson chestnut “One”. The imaginative sounds inside are colorfully encased in the excellent cardboard CD packaging.

WHITE STRAND RECORDS - The Celtic Harp is a beautiful looking and sounding instrument and in the hands of harpist Patrick Ball it just oozes music magic. Patrick’s 2010 CD The Wood Of Morois was released on the Sebastopol, CA. based White Strand Records label and start to finish, this amazing 13 track, 45 minute CD just flies by. You can file The Wood Of Morois under New Age, but the lore and legacy of the Celtic Harp takes its cues from the time honored traditions going back to the mythical characters Tristan and Iseult, who took refuge in the woods of Morois to escape the vengeance of King Mark Of Cornwall. Legendary stuff really but Patrick Ball works magic reenacting the emotions and medieval legacy from the Celtic lands Tristan and Iseult knew so well. On The Wood Of Morois, Patrick Ball’s impeccable performance on the Celtic harp is sheer genius. Featuring 32 strings of solid brass and a body of soft maple, Patrick’s instrument is a fascinating recreation of the magnificent harps that were played in Ireland at least a thousand years ago. With its impressive recreations of traditional, yet mostly unknown music, The Wood Of Morois is a great place to discover the magic of Patrick Ball and his magical Celtic Harp.


BGO RECORDS - Over in England, BGO continues unearthing classic rock albums and a few rarities, case in point being a 2010 double CD anthology from Clouds entitled Up Above Our Heads - Clouds 1966-71. Signed by famous rock entrepreneur Terry Ellis, founder of Chrysalis Records, Clouds took a back seat during Terry’s dynasty building years with Jethro Tull and verifying, in the extensive liner notes, as to all of this is the group’s lead singer Billy Richie, who worked on the Clouds story with BGO liner notes writer David Wells. Richie may have been on to something. Towards the end, when Chrysalis released their final album Watercolour Days, for some reason Ellis left off some of the best tracks here, much to Richie’s surprise. Also towards the end of the band's heyday, during the period when their third and final Clouds album came out, Richie also started to sing like Jim Morrison, who had recently died, so it’s kind of eerie. There’s also a cool Clouds cover of “America”—the Paul Simon song from the Marquee in London—that, while not especially well recorded is nevertheless quite well performed in a prog-rock fashion. But one studio track Ellis left off the final album (according to Richie), “Why Is There No Magic” sounds like a left field FM radio hit, almost in the spirit of Badfinger. Of course, Ellis would devote much of this early ‘70s period to his incredibly pioneering career building work with Jethro Tull, and for good reason. As interesting as Clouds was then, Tull was really where it was at for Chrysalis back in the late '60s / early '70s. The final cut on CD 2 of the double Clouds set, “Clockwork Soldier” makes quite an eerie audio epitaph indeed. Even so, taking a look at a missing piece of early ‘70s rock history, BGO does a great job combining all three of the Clouds albums on a double CD set, including the eight tracks that Ellis left languishing in the vaults. Speaking of BGO, they just keep coming up with some great two on one CD packages, including a 28 track, two albums on one CD by Fats Domino comprising Million Seller Volumes 1 & 2. Released on Lp in 1962 and 1963 respectively, both albums feature all the classic, original tracks by Fats as recorded in the late ‘50s. Another artist that is well represented in the U.K. by BGO, Shirley Bassey has a number of double CD remasters on BGO and you can add in the 2010 release of I Capricorn and And I Love You So—both originally released in 1972. Bassey is a great torch song vocalist in the spirit of Barbara Streisand, and the mostly orchestral backed tracks on Ms. Bassey’s 2010 double set on BGO includes classics from the pens of John Lennon, Burt Bacharach, Jacques Brel and more, including her famous version of “The Look Of Love” from the movie Casino Royal. BGO once again delves into the back catalog of smooth jazz guitar king Earl Klugh with a 2010 double CD set comprised of three Klugh classics—the self-titled Earl Klugh, Living Inside Your Love and Magic In Your Eyes. Back when Earl’s first GRP album came out, he was kind of dismissed as smooth jazz during quite a turbulent era of the fusion world. Well, turns out Earl was right because, hearing them again today, these guitar instrumentals he recorded back in the ‘70s holds up really well, as this BGO double CD points out.

MUSIC VIDEO DISTRIBUTORS - Even since the DVD first appeared, about ten years or so ago at the end of the ‘90s, MVD has truly helped pioneer the DVD art form and make it something of value to music fans. There was some debate about just how the DVD would function but, despite those pesky region codings, clearly it’s exceeded all expectations and is a vital tool for artists and music companies to promote new and historic music. Case in point is a 2010 DVD from Wienerworld—handled in the U.S. by MVD—called David BowieRare And Unseen. Wienerworld has done amazing things with their Rare And Unseen series, their David Bowie DVD follows the same path. Although veering towards the sensational side of Bowie’s prismatic musical make-up, Bowie’s Rare & Unseen contains some intriguing segments including an interview circa 1975 between Bowie and British TV journalist Russell Harty, which features Bowie discussing his upcoming movie The Man Who Fell To Earth. The rest of the DVD features rehearsal and backstage footage from the Never Let Me Down album from the late ‘80s, including interview footage with Bowie and guitarists Peter Frampton and Carlos Alomar. Not essential but nevertheless David Bowie - Rare And Unseen sheds further light on Bowie’s image as a mythical figure in rock music history. MVD also has quite a good relationship with the German DVD music company Inakustik, and in 2010 they released a DVD entitled John Scofield - New Morning: The Paris Concert. Filmed in hi-definition TV at the New Morning theater in Paris on April 23rd, 2010, the DVD offers further proof as to why Scofield is considered one of the top American jazz guitarists. For The Paris Concert, “Sco” is backed up by a top band including Bill Stewart (drums), Ben Street (bass) and Michael Eckroth (piano). Scofield has kept up quite an amazing schedule of concerts and recordings in the first decade of the 21st century and The Paris Concert keeps his star shining brightly. Extras on this two hour DVD include a bonus video track called “Soundcheck Sketches.” Keeping up with their devotion to guitar-centric DVD releases, in 2010 MVD also released Ana Popovic - An Evening At Trasimeno Lake: Live From The Heart Of Italy. A rising star in the guitar world, Ms. Popovic is gaining acclaim in the blues, rock, jazz and funk worlds of music and this two hour DVD also includes several acoustic tracks filmed at Rocca Medievale—a medieval castle that was built in 124. Filmed during the guitarist’s ‘Blind For Love’ tour, before a 5000+ audience, the DVD was filmed with a six camera shoot and also adds in an interview with Ms. Popovic. Also in 2010, MVD continues on with their wild and crazy Final 24 series that depicts the last day in the lives of some of pop cultures most visible heroes and heroines. Up and out in 2010 are Final 24 DVD releases of John F. Kennedy Jr., John Belushi and Jim Morrison. Produced by John Salzman and John Vandervelde, these DVDs are reenactments with actors playing the part, but to balance the dramas, the DVDs are also filled with actual historic documentary footage of the real people whose lives were cut tragically short. Each of these Final 24 DVD titles are guaranteed to send shivers up your spine. Who’s next?

TIME LIFE - 2009 was the 35 anniversary of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and celebrating that institution, in 2010 Time Life released a triple DVD set entitled The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concerts. Clocking in at five and a half hours, the concerts were filmed at Madison Sq. Garden over two nights on October 29th and 30th, 2009 and the DVD serves as a collectible relic of that event. The usual hall of fame suspects appear and more than acquit themselves with some well honed performances of the songs that made their careers and, over the past six decades, formed the soundtrack for generations. DVD 1 features live performances of rock and roll, folk-rock and soul music icons like Jerry Lee Lewis, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel and Aretha Franklin. DVD 2 features Metallica, U2, Jeff Beck and Bruce Springsteen while the party continues on DVD 3, a bonus DVD, that compiles more performances from Crosby, Stills & Nash, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel and more. Interestingly, appearing with all these artists on a various songs here, sort of combining forces, are other certified legends like Ray Davies, James Taylor, Ozzy Osbourne, Dion, Billy F. Gibbons, Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, B.B. King and many more. A very cool look back, Time Life's triple DVD set was immaculately filmed and features extensive notes in a booklet with rare pics from this historic event.

UNDISCOVERED CLASSICS - Over in England, singer-songwriter Andy Leek finally got back the tapes to his 1990 solo album Say Something and he puts it back out there in 2010 with a new track on the 13 track Say Something Revisited. Humorously called a “Special 21st Anniversary Edition” Andy’s reissue CD takes you right back to what made this UK import so amazing back in 1990. Coming out on Atlantic Records, the original album was superbly produced by Sir George Martin and featured notable players like guitarists Steve Howe and Clem Clemson. Not even near prog or blues, Say Something Revisited is a stately, lush, Martin-eque production in the spirit of Abbey Road or even The Man In The Bowler Hat. As Andy points out, Say Something was the only debut album of original material that George Martin produced since the Beatles. Commenting further, Leeks adds, ‘The tapes had deteriorated so they had to be cleaned by hand and baked for several days in order to transfer them to CD. I then added one new song “All Around The World” to complete what is now Say Something Revisited’. The CD sounds great plus you get a fabulous new cut that sounds like Andy is back, all topped off by booklet of happier times filled with pics a plenty of Andy with Sir George.

VOICEPRINT/ ISOLDE FILMS / MVD - Finally after 40 years, in 2010 veteran U.K. filmmaker Tony Palmer released his historic 1969 Rope Ladder To The Moon movie about Cream cofounder and pioneering jazz-rock-blues bassist / song writing icon Jack Bruce. Just before Cream broke up in late 1968, their manager Robert Stigwood enlisted Tony Palmer to make movie documentaries about each of the Cream founders so Tony produced films about Jack and Ginger Baker but by the time they’d broken up it was too late for Tony to make the post-Cream Clapton film. That said, the movie on Jack Bruce, Rope Ladder To The Moon is one of Palmer’s finest moments on film. To his credit Palmer works brilliantly here with Jack Bruce, encapsulating in video form that pivotal period after Cream when Jack had just gone solo. In fact, the movie is not only biographical but, now in the era of digital electronic press kits, the movie also was way ahead of its time as a virtual promotional video for Jack’s first solo album, 1969’s Songs For A Tailor. Highlighting post-Cream footage of Jack, Palmer brilliantly juxtaposes video footage and live performance footage of music from Jack’s solo album, along with Jack, Eric and Ginger as Cream at the Albert Hall plus footage of Jack returning to his home turf in Scotland, where he lived before world wide fame. In addition to the original 55 minute, 1969 Rope Ladder movie documentary, this historic DVD also features a recently filmed half hour interview with Tony Palmer discussing the movie. has a new interview with Jack Bruce coming in January 2011 discussing in depth the historic DVD release of Rope Ladder, his new solo album and much more.

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