Does the holiday season make you feel as if you’ve morphed into a Grinch-like Scrooge? If so, then take a deep breath and rejoice with the new holiday record, Hey! Merry Christmas! by The Mavericks. Raul Malo and the boys have delivered 10 tracks of seasonal country-rockabilly goodness with a pinch of zydeco that is guaranteed to instantly put you into the Christmas spirit.
Hey! Merry Christmas! features eight original tunes, plus two holiday faves (“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and “Happy Holiday”) that are guaranteed to take away your Bah humbug attitude and have you smiling in no time. The one-two-three punch of the irresistible and energetic “Christmas Time is (Coming ‘Round Again),” “Santa Does” and “I Have Wanted You (for Christmas)” are guaranteed to get you rockin’ around the Christmas tree and turn any occasion into an instant Christmas party. Things calm for a beat on “Christmas for Me (Is You)” and the aforementioned “Happy Holiday,” which allow you to catch your breath and/or have a slow dance with your holiday honey.
The Mavericks’ Hey! Merry Christmas! is the perfect cure for fighting off any symptoms of a pesky blue Christmas, plus it’s available on extra groove-a-licious vinyl too! So, cheer yourself up by taking The Mavericks’ new Yuletide album for a spin or two. I’m willing to bet Santa’s naughty list Yule love it!
First off, let me preface my forthcoming comments by admitting The Beatles (“The White Album”) is not my all-time favorite album by the Fab Four. In fact, I’ve always had a strange aversion to it thanks to its unfortunate association to the Manson Family murders. But with that said, I’m constantly surprised by how much I actually enjoy it whenever I take the time to dust it off and listen.
Just such an occasion has recently presented itself for a well-deserved revisit of the legendary double album with the 50th anniversary edition. The Beatles has been newly remixed by Giles Martin and given a superb new stereo remix, much like he did with 2017’s extraordinary deluxe treatment of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Beatles is available as a super deluxe edition, which consists of 6 CDs plus a Blu-ray audio 5.1 mix of the proper album, and also includes the long-awaited Esher Demos and numerous alternate versions and outtakes. Additionally, a condensed 3-disc version is offered as an alternative to the super deluxe box set, which features the newly remixed version of the double album, plus the Esher Demos.
However, putting the bonus material aside, the new 2018 remixed and remastered version is a vast and noticeable improvement over the previously released versions and remasters of The Beatles. Giles Martin and engineer Sam Okell have once again outdone themselves with this marvelous new stereo remix. Never before have favorites “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Helter Skelter” sounded so good. For skeptics wondering if you need to buy yet another copy of the “The White Album,” the answer is astoundingly yes!
Personally, I chose to skip the super deluxe box set and opted for the 3-CD version, as I don’t need to own every alternate take or demo version of “The White Album” tracks. While the outtakes are certainly interesting and enjoyable, after streaming the super deluxe version, I’m satisfied I made the correct choice in purchasing the 3-disc edition. Now, bring on the super deluxe box set of Abbey Road.
“Waiting so long, I’ve been waiting so, waiting so…”
After months of waiting, David Bowie’s latest box set, Loving the Alien has finally arrived. This expansive look at Bowie’s most commercially successful period of output not only boasts remastered versions of his 1980s albums, but also includes the never-before-released audio recording of the iconic Serious MoonlightTour. This 2-disc offering features some of Bowie’s best live recordings from “Look Back in Anger” and “Heroes” to “Modern Love” and “Let’s Dance.”
Continuing where the three previous box sets left off, David Bowie’s Loving the Alien box set encapsulates Bowie’s ‘80s commercial era. The 11 CD and 15 LP sets will be released October 12, 2018 and includes the newly remastered studio albums Let’s Dance, Tonight and Never Let Down, plus the previously unreleased Serious Moonlight double live album (recorded in Montreal in 1983), as well as a remastered two-disc version of Glass Spider 1987 (Live in Montreal).
Among the box set’s exclusive materials is a new production of the 1987 album Never Let Me Down by Mario McNulty. This is not merely a new remaster or remix, but NLMD 2018 features newly recorded instrumentation by Reeves Gabrels, David Torn, Sterling Campbell and Tim Lefebvre. Other exclusives include RE: CALL 4, featuring remastered single versions, non-album singles, album edits and B-sides, as well as soundtrack songs from Labyrinth, Absolute Beginners and When the Wind Blows. DANCE features 12 remixes, some of which are appearing on CD and vinyl for the very first time.
The remastering is not only superb, but also adds new luster to each of the studio and live recordings. Let’s Dance and Tonight have never sounded better. The newly produced 2018 version of Never Let Me Down also sheds new upon this overlooked and underrated classic album. The only oversight here (albeit intentional) is the unfortunate omission of “Too Dizzy” which was originally included on the initial pressings of the Never Let Me Down album and compact disc. Although the track was reportedly despised by Bowie, its inclusion would have allowed diehards the opportunity to revisit this often-maligned album in its entirety. With that said, at least the B-sides “Girls” and “Julie” have been included which help to make up for the aforementioned track’s absence.
The 128-page book is packed with photographs and contains interesting insight into Bowie’s most loved and loathed era, which is heightened by historic photos shot by fashion photographer and music video director Herb Ritts, as well as a treasure of technical notes about the albums from Nile Rodgers and Hugh Padgham.
While Loving the Alien may not capture Bowie’s most creative decade, it is another outstanding presentation of one of music’s most imaginative artists, which contains more than enough rewarding moments to satisfy any true Bowie fan’s expectations.
The Pet Shop Boys catalog remaster campaign concludes with the final batch of reissues. The duo’s Behaviour, Very, and Bilingual have all been newly remastered and expanded with B-sides, remixes and alternate versions.
Behaviour, the PSB’s fourth studio effort includes the hits “Being Boring” and “Jealousy” and now features an extended mix of “Where the Streets Have No Name (Can’t Take My Eyes Off You),” as well as the ambient mix of “Music for boys.” The two latter tracks have been remastered and both make their appearance on CD here for the first time.
PSB’s Very from 1993 includes the duo’s hit cover version of “Go West,” plus lead single “Can you forgive her?” This new 2018 remaster also contains previously-unreleased tracks “Falling” (demo version for Kylie Minogue), and a 1992 twelve-inch mix of the aforementioned “Go West.”
Finally, Bilingual, the Pet Shop Boys sixth studio album from 1996 rounds out the third and final wave of the remaster roll-out. This newly remastered version contains the singles: “Before,” “Se a vida é (That’s the Way Life Is),” “Single-Bilingual” and “Somewhere,” as well as previously-unreleased versions of “Discoteca” and “A Red-Letter Day.”
These three final remastered titles are not only well worth the wait, but they’ve have never sounded better than they do on these expanded remastered 2-CD sets. The 2018 remastered versions of Behaviour, Very and Bilingual are also available twelve-inch vinyl LPs. Sample at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/pet-shop-boys/488020
CD1 – “Being Boring,” “This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave,” “To Face the Truth,” “How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?”, “Only the Wind,” “My October Symphony,” “So Hard,” “Nervously,” “The End of The World” and “Jealousy.”
CD2 – “It Must Be Obvious,” “So Hard (Extended Dance Mix),”Miserablism,” “Being Boring (Extended Mix),” “Bet She’s Not Your Girlfriend,” “We All Feel Better In The Dark (Extended Mix),” “Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You; Extended Mix),” “Jealousy (Extended Version),” “Generic Jingle,” “DJ Culture (Extended Mix),” “Was It Worth It? (12” Mix)” and “Music for Boys (Ambient Mix),” “DJ Culture (7” Mix).”
CD1 – “Can You Forgive Her?,” “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing,” “Liberation,” “A Different Point of View,” “Dreaming of the Queen,” “Yesterday When I Was Mad,” “The Theatre,” “One and One Make Five,” “To Speak Is a Sin,” “Young Offender,” “One in a Million” and “Go West.”
CD2 – “Go West (1992 12” Mix),” “Forever In Love,” “Confidential (1992 Demo for Tina Turner),” “Hey Headmaster,” “Shameless,” “Too Many People,” “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing (Seven-Inch Version),” “Violence (Haçienda Version),” “Falling (Demo for Kylie Minogue),” “Decadence,” “If Love Were All (Bitter Sweet),” “Absolutely Fabulous (Single Version),” “Euroboy,” “Some Speculation,” “Yesterday When I Was Mad (Single Version) and “Girls And Boys (Live In Rio).”
CD1 – “Discoteca,” “Bilingual,” “Metamorphosis,” “Electricity,” “Se A Vida é,” “It Always Comes as A Surprise,” “A Red-Letter Day,” “Up Against It,” “The Survivors,” “Before,” “To Step Aside” and “Saturday Night Forever.”
CD2 – “Paninaro ’95,” “In the Night (1995 Version),” “The Truck Driver and His Mate,” “Hit and Miss,” “How I Learned to Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Betrayed,” “Delusions of Grandeur,” “Discoteca (Single Version),” “The Calm Before the Storm,” “Discoteca (New Version),” “The Boy Who Couldn’t Keep His Clothes On,” “A Red Letter Day (Expanded Single Version),” “The View from Your Balcony,” “Disco Potential” and “Somewhere (Extended Mix).”
Electric Light Orchestra’s tenth studio album, Secret Messages, was originally conceived as a double LP, but the group’s record company was initially unwilling to release Jeff Lynne’s classic offering in its entirety. Therefore, when Secret Messages reached record bins in 1983, it was a shorter, abbreviated version containing only 10 of its original 18 tracks. Its original running time (76 minutes) was reduced to a mere 46 minutes.
Now, for the first time, Secret Messages has been reissued as a double vinyl LP and digital download in its nearly original full-length version. Although most of the previously deleted tracks have appeared over the years on various compilations and remasters, this anniversary release is sequenced in its intended running order, albeit without the inferior, yet often requested elusive unreleased track “Beatles Forever.” However, previously deleted tracks “No Way Out,” “Endless Lies,” “Buildings Have Eyes,” “Mandalay,” “After All” and closing track “Hello My Old Friend” have all been reinserted in their proper places. Yet, it’s still beyond comprehension why the 39-second “After All” was ever deleted in the first place.
In its expanded form, Secret Messages clearly bridges the gap between ELO’s previous efforts and what eventually followed. Residual echoes of Time, as well as foreshadowed glimpses of Balance of Power are equally omnipresent throughout the double disc’s song cycle. Jeff Lynne’s three solo tracks for the film, Electric Dreams would easily fit amongst the track listing of Secret Messages. In fact, the soundtrack contribution “Video!” actually borrows elements from the aforementioned elusive “Beatles Forever.”
While Secret Messages formerly seemed somewhat unsatisfying in its abbreviated versions, it now feels like a complete and cohesive piece of work. This newly expanded edition not only feels more immersive, but also flows consistently better in its prolonged form. Previously, it played out like an unfinished concept album sorely lacking a proper climax. Undoubtedly, completists will continue to yearn for the unreleased “Beatles Forever,” but at least we now have an acceptable sonic blueprint of Lynne’s original vision.
Secret Messages is now available as a 2-LP gatefold set on 150-gram vinyl with digital download.
Continuing where the three previous box sets left off, David Bowie’s Loving the Alien box set encapsulates Bowie’s ‘80s commercial era. The 11 CD and 15 LP sets will be released October 12, 2018 and include the newly remastered studio albums Let’s Dance, Tonight and Never Let Me Down, plus the previously unreleased Serious Moonlight double live album (recorded in Vancouver in 1983), as well as a remastered two-disc version of Glass Spider 1987 (Live in Montreal).
Among the box set’s exclusive materials is a new production of the 1987 album Never Let Me Down, by Mario McNulty, which features new instrumentation by Reeves Gabrels, David Torn, Sterling Campbell and Tim Lefebvre. Other exclusives include RE: CALL 4, featuring remastered single versions, non-album singles, album edits and B-sides, as well as soundtrack songs from Labyrinth, Absolute Beginners and When the Wind Blows. Dance will feature a dozen various remixes, some of which are appearing on CD and vinyl for the very first time.
Unfortunately, the long deleted track “Too Dizzy” from Never Let Me Down will not be included on this set, nor will the box include the 1988 home video audio version of the Glass Spider Tour. The previously available Glass Spider concert from Vancouver recorded in 1987 will be included instead of the audio from the Glass Spider show in Sydney, Australia, which was released on VHS and Laser Disc in the late 1980s before its eventual DVD release in 2007.
The Loving the Alien CD box includes a 128-page book, and the LP box includes an 84-page book, both will feature rare and previously unpublished photos by Herb Ritts, Greg Gorman and Denis O’Regan. The books will also contain technical album specifics by Nile Rodgers, Hugh Padgham, Mario McNulty and Justin Shirley-Smith. Additionally, various historical press reviews will be included as a retrospective time capsule of the era.
Here’s a complete rundown of the tracks contents that will be included in the CD and vinyl box sets:
Never Let Me Down (2018) (previously unreleased) (2LP–side 4 is etched) *
Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87) (previously unreleased on vinyl) (3LP) *
Dance (2LP) *
Re:Call 4 (non-album singles, edits, single versions, B-sides and soundtrack music) (remastered) (3LP) *
* Exclusive to Loving the Alien (1983-1988) LP box
Let’s Dance: Modern Love/China Girl/Let’s Dance/Without You/Ricochet/Criminal World/Cat People (Putting Out Fire)/Shake It
Serious Moonlight (Live ’83): Look Back in Anger/Heroes/What in The World/Golden Years/Fashion/Let’s Dance/Breaking Glass/Life on Mars?/Sorrow/Cat People (Putting Out Fire)/China Girl/Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)/Rebel Rebel/White Light, White Heat/Station to Station/Cracked Actor/Ashes to Ashes/Space Oddity/Band Introduction/Young Americans/Fame/Modern Love
Tonight: Loving the Alien/Don’t Look Down/God Only Knows/Tonight/Neighborhood Threat/Blue Jean/Tumble and Twirl/I Keep Forgettin’/Dancing with The Big Boys
Never Let Me Down: Day-In Day-Out/Time Will Crawl/Beat of Your Drum/Never Let Me Down/Zeroes/Glass Spider/Shining Star (Makin’ My Love)/New York’s In Love/’87 And Cry/Bang Bang
Never Let Me Down (2018): Day-In Day-Out/Time Will Crawl/Beat of Your Drum/Never Let Me Down/Zeroes/Glass Spider/Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) (featuring Laurie Anderson)/New York’s In Love/’87 And Cry/Bang Bang
Glass Spider (Live in Montreal 1987): Intro/Up the Hill Backwards/Glass Spider/Day-In Day-Out/Bang Bang/Absolute Beginners/Loving the Alien/China Girl/Rebel Rebel/Fashion/Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)/All the Madmen/Never Let Me Down/Big Brother/‘87 And Cry/Heroes/Sons of The Silent Age/Time Will Crawl/Band Introduction/Young Americans/Beat of Your Drum/The Jean Genie/Let’s Dance/Fame/Time/Blue Jean/Modern Love
Dance: Shake It (Re-mix aka Long Version)/Blue Jean (Extended Dance Mix)/Dancing with The Big Boys (Extended Dance Mix)/Tonight (Vocal Dance Mix)/Don’t Look Down (Extended Dance Mix)/Loving the Alien (Extended Dub Mix)/Tumble and Twirl (Extended Dance Mix)/Underground (Extended Dance Mix)/Day-In Day-Out (Groucho Mix)/Time Will Crawl (Dance Crew Mix)/Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) (12” mix)/Never Let Me Down (Dub/Acapella)
RE:CALL 4: Let’s Dance (single version)/China Girl (single version)/Modern Love (single version)/This Is Not America (The theme from ‘The Falcon and The Snowman’)–[David Bowie with Pat Metheny Group]/Loving the Alien (re-mixed version)/Don’t Look Down (re-mixed version)/Dancing in The Street (Clearmountain mix)–[David Bowie and Mick Jagger]/Absolute Beginners (from Absolute Beginners)/That’s Motivation (from Absolute Beginners)/Volare (from Absolute Beginners)/Labyrinth Opening Titles-Underground (from Labyrinth)/Magic Dance (from Labyrinth)/As the World Falls Down (from Labyrinth)/Within You (from Labyrinth)/Underground (from Labyrinth)/When the Wind Blows (single version) (from When the Wind Blows)/Day-In Day-Out (single version)/Julie (B-side from “Day-In Day-Out”)/Beat of Your Drum (vinyl album edit)/Glass Spider (vinyl album edit)/Shining Star (Makin’ My Love) (vinyl album edit)/New York’s In Love (vinyl album edit)/‘87 And Cry (vinyl album edit)/Bang Bang (vinyl album edit)/Time Will Crawl (single version)/Girls (extended edit of B-side from “Time Will Crawl”)/Never Let Me Down (7” remix edit)/Bang Bang (live – promotional mix)/Tonight (live) [David Bowie with Tina Turner]/Let’s Dance (live) [David Bowie with Tina Turner]
The first time I heard “Love Will Keep Us Together” on the radio was one of those unforgettable moments that caused me to promptly investigate who was capable of making such a marvelous sound. Toni and Daryl had proficiently captured pure pop perfection within a three-minute aural fantasy. I spent many youthful hours counting down to their weekly variety show, T.V. specials, and rare appearances on American Bandstand and The Midnight Special. I still recall sitting enthralled with my eyes glued to the television screen as Toni and Daryl whisked me away to Hawaii and New Orleans, as well as introducing my young ears to great artists like B.B. King and Ella Fitzgerald.
Captain & Tennille often released albums (or new singles) near the end of the school year, just as the weather was warming and bringing forth signs of new life by Mother Nature’s design, which made the ideal backdrop for C&T’s uniquely unforgettable sound. The Grammy-winning duo are best known for their biggest hits such as “Muskrat Love,” “The Way I Want to Touch You” and “Do That to Me One More Time,” but it’s their lesser known songs like “Ladybug,” “Love Is Spreading Over the World,” “Back to the Island” and “Come in From the Rain” that still harken to me every spring and summer. To this day, the Captain & Tennille’s albums are like comfort food to my soul or catching up with old friends, especially Dream, Come in From the Rain, and Song of Joy. [Read Full Feature]
In celebration of May The Fourth and in anticipation of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I present my fanboy tribute to the greatest space opera of all time…
I was a wee young lad when I saw Star Wars: A New Hope for the very first time. At that point, my only encounter with science fiction had been watching Star Trek: The Original Series on television with my aunt while visiting my grandmother’s house. Suddenly, an entirely new world revealed itself to me as I became enraptured by the aptly titled A New Hope, as that initial experience of being transported into George Lucas’ transformative space adventure gave me an unwavering feeling that has remained with me throughout my entire life.
I will always be grateful to George Lucas for creating the Star Wars universe, but also thankful he’s no longer directing nor responsible for writing the current films’ dialogue, as it was always glaringly obvious his primary focus was in the visualization of his stories, certainly not in demanding the very best performances from his actors. However, Lucas’ commitment to excellence is unquestionable, as the advancements of sound and visual effects would not be what they are in film today were it not for Lucas and his 45-billion-dollar film franchise. George Lucas is unquestionably responsible for setting the film industry’s bar extremely high with his advancements in optimal sound quality via his THX quality assurance system, as well as his visual effects powerhouse, Industrial Light and Magic. [Read Full Feature]
Did you think Dolly Parton would be the last artist to attempt country disco? Well, think again. Dance-pop diva from down under, Kylie Minogue, returns with her first full-length of all new material since 2014’s R&B leaning Kiss Me Once.
The Aussie chanteuse channels her inner “Cotton-Eyed Joe” on her fourteenth studio album, Golden, but it unfortunately ends up sounding like nothing more than a reductive attempt to create her own version of Lady Gaga’s Joanne. While undeniably endearing and tenacious, Kylie Minogue has always followed trends rather than create them, which has ultimately pigeon-holed the artist as a second-rate Madonna.
On Golden, Minogue dives headfirst into new musical terrain inspired by her recent visit to Nashville. A large part of Golden was recorded during Minogue’s Nashville romp last year and it’s the first time since her endearing 1997 release, Impossible Princess, that the popstress has co-written every one of the album’s tracks. Awkwardly, her stay in Music City seems to have derailed Minogue’s ambitions, resulting in what can only be tactfully described as a major musical misstep. Perhaps Kylie lost focus while imbibing in too much line dancing and honky tonkin’? [Read Full Review Here]
Alternative rock band Garbage avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with the triumphant second full-length release Version 2.0 in 1998. Considered by many – including Shirley Manson herself – as the group’s best and most powerful album to date, the dynamic set contains many of the band’s best-known songs including: “Special,” “When I Grow Up” and “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing.”
Now, in honor of its twenty-year anniversary, Version 2.0 is currently being prepared as a remastered deluxe edition. Not only will the deluxe anniversary release include the original album, but it will also include 10 B-sides from the Version 2.0 recording sessions.
“Version 2.0 is in my opinion the quintessential garbage record. We are all very grateful to the millions of people who took it to their hearts at the time it was released and to those who continue to love on it still.” – Shirley Manson
Comprehensive details can be found below in the deluxe album’s press release:
Garbage are delighted to announce the release of the 20th anniversary edition of their legendary second album Version 2.0. Released on Stunvolume/PIAS on June 22nd, the package features the whole original album, as well as a second, ten song disc of bonus tracks, including B-sides from the era. The typically visceral “Lick the Pavement” is the first offering from the reissue and is available now.
Upon its initial release in May 1998, Version 2.0 charted at Number 1 and was certified double platinum in the UK with over 500,000 sales. The record went on to sell over 4 million copies worldwide. Version 2.0 was also nominated for four Grammy Awards including Album of The Year. It produced 5 hit singles, including “Push It” and “I Think I’m Paranoid.”
Speaking about the enduring legacy of the record, the band’s drummer and co-producer Butch Vig explains:
“Version 2.0 is the sound of a band growing up, evolving, and more than anything, gaining confidence. When we started recording, we made a conscious decision to not re-invent ourselves, but rather take everything we learned from our debut album and filter it through the new digital technology we were grappling with. Sonically, the album has moments of razor sharp clarity and soft beauty. Indeed, it’s possibly our best album.”