July, 2000


During the late ‘90s, Vermont-based Gadfly Records released a number of CDs of new material from artists such as ‘60s songwriting legend Chip Taylor, Tonio K. and songstress Deborah Holland. The label also earned high praise for their reissues of Purity Of Essence, a late ‘70s album from U.K. pub-rockers The Rumour and a CD of late ‘60s music from then soon-to-be folk-rock legend James Taylor & The Flying Machine. Gadfly recently unveiled their Spring 2000 releases and topping the list is a new studio album from producer and singer-songwriter wiz Don Dixon - The Invisible ManDon Dixon entitled The Invisible Man. Back in the mid-80s, Dixon the producer was hitting musical home runs out of the park so to speak with his top album productions of R.E.M., Marshall Crenshaw and Marti Jones to name just a few. It’s great to see him return again with a new solo album which once more unites him with Mitch Easter (drums), Jamie Hoover (guitars) and Ms. Jones on ethereal background vocals. With the theme of the album being “a thematic song-cycle tracing a man’s life through songs reflecting his outlook at different ages, ranging 18 to 83”, Dixon the producer and Dixon songwriter-guitarist merge to great effect on The Invisible Man.

Another recent winner from Gadfly is the self-titled debut CD from L.A.-based Western Electric. The band’s lead vocalist and songwriter-guitarist, Sid Griffin expresses an affinity for the ‘60s country rock sound of The Byrds. In fact, the quartet revives a previously unrecorded track by ex-Byrd Gene Clark (“Straight From The Heart”). Griffin himself is the author of a published biography of the late, great Byrds icon Gram Parsons. In addition to Griffin’s fretboard work, Western Electric also features the languid pedal steel guitar of Neil Robert Herd. Combining a late ‘90s Americana roots-rock sound with influences like mid-period Byrds and The Band, Western Electric delivers an impressive and cohesive disc on their Gadfly debut.

Other noteworthy Gadfly CDs include recent albums from songwriter/guitarist Kimberly Rew (composer of “Walking On Sunshine”) entitled Tunnel Into Summer (guest appearances from Robyn Hitchcock and Glenn Tilbrook) and a new solo album from U.K. keyboard great Ian “Mac” McLagan entitled Best Of British (with The Bump Band featuring guest appearances from Ronnie Wood, McLagan’s ex-band mate in ‘70s rock legends The Faces). 

Universal Music continues to amaze music collectors with new reissues from just about every genre of music. Delving into the archives of Polydor and MCA Records, Universal continues their 20th Century Masters Millennium Collections with a recent best-of CD compilation from rock music legends Cream. A taster of Cream’s golden musical legacy, The Best Of Cream features 11 of their best known tracks including “White Room” and “Badge”. Liner notes by John McDermott and striking color photos adds to the impressive collection. Likewise, Universal has done a splendid job with recent best-of CDs from folk-rock giant Richie Havens (12 tracks from his three classic Verve Folkways ‘60s albums) and rock guitar giant Joe Walsh (featuring 3 cuts from The James Gang and 7 early ‘70s Walsh solo classics). 

Universal has also just issued a new 20 track retrospective from U.K. folk-pop great Cat Stevens entitled The Very Best Of Cat Stevens just out on A&M / UTV Records. Stevens first came to fame in the ‘60s with his fabulous ‘67 pop smash “Matthew & Son”. From there on it seemed like everything Stevens touched turned to gold. Produced by Yardbirds legend Paul Samwell-Smith, Stevens recorded a series of trendsetting folk-tinged pop albums in the early ‘70s including his ever-popular 1970 classic Tea For The Tillerman. By the close of the ‘70s, Stevens apparently had tired of the music biz and much to the dismay of his fans, stopped recording altogether and converted to Islam. Although out of the public ear and eye for a good number of years, Stevens has taken up recording again and under his new name, Yusuf Islam, has released several CDs during the late ‘90s on his self-owned U.K.-based Mountain Of Light label. With it’s extensive liner notes and great selection of tunes, The Very Best Of Cat Stevens should interest long time fans and those looking to find out more about the reclusive pop icon. Look for A&M to upgrade the entire Cat Stevens CD catalog due along with an imminent Cat Stevens box set. 

Milton NascimentoUniversal has also been reissuing some essential jazz titles from the vaults of Verve Records / A&M Records including a pair of newly upgraded By Request titles from Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Milton Nascimento. One of Jobim’s greatest musical moments had to be his 1970 album Tide, just reissued on Verve/A&M. Perhaps the king of the Bossa Nova sound, Jobim struck gold with the brilliant Tide, now reissued with 4 alternate takes. Another great A&M album from 1976 was Milton, the first major U.S. release from Brazilian jazz-rock great Milton Nascimento. An incredible mixture of pop, rock and Brazilian-flavored jazz, Milton remains a valuable album from the heyday of the mid-70s jazz-rock scene. Well worth rediscovering, both of these new A&M/Verve reissues from Jobim and Nascimento feature original artwork, new liner notes and innovative packaging. 

Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by Send to: CD Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein, P.O. Box 630249, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0249




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