Remembering Donna Summer (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012)

Donna Summer 1948 – 2012

I find it hard to believe the five-year anniversary of Donna Summer’s passing is already upon us. Ever since she shockingly succumbed to cancer in 2012, I’ve honored her memory often by revisiting her incredible body of work. I’ve tried to celebrate her spirit by listening to her music and keeping her memory alive, especially on the anniversary of her death.

There’s no denying the fact that Donna Summer knew how to create a dance record. Her magnificent 17-minute non-stop epic “MacArthur Park Suite” (which took up an entire side of her Live and More double album), weaved Jimmy Webb’s unforgettable melody and poetic lyrics around two of Summer’s best original songs (“One of A Kind” and “Heaven Knows”), creating a magical musical opus which I’ve never managed to grow tired of hearing or erase from my memory since its release in 1978. This was followed by Summer’s next masterpiece, the epochal Bad Girls, which deservedly became the best-selling album of her career. Packed with rock-tinged greatest hits “Hot Stuff” and “Dim All the Lights,” as well as the vivacious title track, this four-sided oeuvre also included gorgeous ballads along with the blistering electronic club hits “Our Love,” “Lucky” and “Sunset People.”

Donna Summer’s voice and music inscribed an indelible mark on me, for which I will be eternally grateful. She may have left us all too soon, but her musical legacy will live on eternally. So, let’s dance in memory of Donna Summer, and always keep her among our most cherished memories. [Read Full Tribute]

Harry Styles Emerges as Rock Star on Solo Debut Album

Harry Styles: Harry Styles

What do you do in your spare time while on hiatus from one of the world’s biggest-selling and most successful boy bands? If you’re Harry Styles you use that time wisely by dropping a debut album so commanding that it makes you an instant rock star. If you disregard preconceived notions concerning boy bands, as well as stop trying to decipher if lyrical subtexts may or may not allude to Taylor Swift, you will hear the emerging talent of an undeniably credible solo artist. Harry Styles effectually straddles the line between do-it-yourself production qualities and cock rock.

Harry Styles won’t stop Directioners from wondering if and when the notorious boy band will reunite, but it certainly affirms Styles has the goods to become a major solo star. It’s also utterly refreshing to hear a young artist embrace the use of organic elements such as strings, guitar, and choir instead of opting for the exhausted generic sounding beat-driven production gimmicks currently permeating the musical landscape. [Read Full Review]

Watch the “Sign of the Times” Music Video:

Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 2

James Gunn has compiled another bang-up soundtrack for his highly-anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The upcoming space adventure is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the sequel to Gunn’s surprise summer blockbuster of 2014. Here again with Awesome Mix Vol. 2, the songs featured were precisely hand-picked by Gunn and strategically placed throughout the film, serving to underscore the script as a subtle, but dynamic cast of supporting characters. Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is an eclectic assortment of mostly well-known tunes, and happily in its own unique way, just as marvelous as its predecessor Awesome Mix Vol. 1, which went on to sell a whopping 2.5 million copies worldwide. The brilliant second soundtrack album includes Electric Light Orchestra, Cheap Trick, Parliament, Fleetwood Mac, as well as the amusing “Guardians Inferno,” featuring David Hasselhoff. [Read Full Review]

The Serious Genius of Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy

Father John Misty: Pure Comedy

At first glance, Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy might sound like the recorded version of a clergyman moonlighting as a stand-up comic, but in actuality it’s the latest studio album from the former Fleet Foxes drummer. Try to imagine Elton John as an American folk artist with lyrics penned by Randy Newman or Conor Oberst, and you’ll have an entry point into the sardonic, acid-tongued, yet filmic world of singer-songwriter Father John Misty (née Josh Tillman).

While Pure Comedy periodically sounds like the type of luciferous debut album Aimee Mann or Kate Bush might’ve composed had they been born male, only time and perspective will ultimately determine if this turns out to be Father John Misty’s career-defining album, although he’s undeniably grabbed our attention.

[Read Full Review]

 

Erasure: From Moscow To Mars

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Erasure: From Moscow To Mars

Erasure commemorates three decades (and counting) of creating music with From Moscow To Mars, an impressive 13-disc anthology. This musical retrospective smartly compiles deep cuts from Vince Clarke and Andy Bell’s 16 studio albums along with the dynamic duo of electro-pop’s 50 singles. This phantasmagoric assemblage is bursting with more than enough treats to keep us occupied as we eagerly await World Be Gone, the new studio album and accompanying tour, currently in various stages of production and planning.

This incredible limited-edition box set of remastered melodic remembrances features all 50 of Erasure’s hits in their original single versions, a smorgasbord of B-sides, new remixes by Vince Clarke, Martyn Ware and Little Boots, as well as previously unreleased tracks, including Andy Bell’s 1985 audition version of “Who Needs Love Like That.” From Moscow To Mars particularly enhances earlier works, especially best known hit “A Little Respect,” as well as the long out-of-print singles B-sides “Paradise” and William Orbit’s remix of “Supernature,” all of which have been crisply remastered instead of getting buried beneath layers of brick walled sound quality.

The anthologized musical compendium also includes two discs of personally curated favorites hand-picked by Vince Clarke and Andy Bell, numerous live tracks, the radio broadcast documentary “A Little Respect: 30 Years of Erasure,” a 48-page hardback book with previously unpublished photos, brand new liner notes and interview with Vince and Andy, set of postcards, a stamp set, space passport, plus two collectible art cards. From Moscow To Mars also exclusively features the DVD debut of Wild! Live, which includes the complete 1989 concert recorded live in London during the duo’s renowned Wild! Tour.

From Moscow To Mars is not only the most comprehensive collection thus far, but also the ultimate time capsule of Erasure’s highly prolific 30-year career.

From Moscow To Mars complete track listing: 

Disc 1: CD – SINGLES (Volume One) 

Who Needs Love Like That / Heavenly Action / Oh L’Amour / Sometimes / It Doesn’t Have To Be / Victim Of Love / The Circus / Ship Of Fools / Chains Of Love / A Little Respect / Stop! / Drama! / You Surround Me / Blue Savannah / Star / Chorus

Disc 2: CD – SINGLES (Volume Two) 

Love To Hate You / Am I Right? / Breathe Of Life / Take A Chance On Me / Always / Run To The Sun / I Love Saturday / Stay With Me / Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day) / Rock Me Gently / In My Arms / Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me / Rain / Freedom / Moon & The Sky / Solsbury Hill / Make Me Smile (Come Up & See Me)

Disc 3: CD – SINGLES (Volume Three) 

Breathe / Don’t Say You Love Me / Here I Go Impossible Again / All This Time Still Falling Out Of Love / Boy (Acoustic) / I Could Fall In Love With You / Sunday Girl / Storm In A Teacup / Sucker For Love / When I Start To (Break It All Down) / Be With You / Fill Us With Fire / Gaudete / Make It Wonderful / Elevation / Reason / Sacred

Disc 4: CD – COMPILED BY ANDY BELL 

Fill Us With Fire / Save Me Darling / Fly Away / Here I Go Impossible Again / Witch In The Ditch / Miracle / Siren Song / Mad As We Are / Boy (Acoustic) / Joan / I Bet You’re Mad At Me / Golden Heart / A Long Goodbye / What Will I Say When You’re Gone / Brother & Sister / Whole Lotta Love Run Riot

Disc 5: CD – COMPILED BY VINCE CLARKE 

Sono Luminus / Because You’re So Sweet / Love Affair / Home / Alien / Precious / Don’t Dance / How My Eyes Adore You / Boy / Blues Away / Spiralling (Acoustic) / Piano Song / Tenderest Moments (Acoustic) / Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime / Cry So Easy / You’ve Got to Save Me Right Now / Weight Of The World

Disc 6: CD – B-SIDES (Volume One) 

Supernature / The Hardest Part / When I Needed You / She Won’t Be Home / Knocking On Your Door / Don’t Suppose / Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! / Over The Rainbow / Waiting For Sex / Tenderest Moments / March On Down The Line / Dreamlike State / The Soldier’s Return / Heart Of Glass (Live In Oxford) / Let It Flow / Runaround On The Underground / Rapture / Paradise

Disc 7: CD – B-SIDES (Volume Two) 

La La La / Truly, Madly, Deeply / Like Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor / Sweet Sweet Baby / True Love Wars / Ghost / Hi NRG / The Good The Bad And The Ugly / In The Name Of The Heart / Die 4 Love / Tragic / First Contact / Love Is Colder Than Death / Don’t Say No / In The Hall of The Mountain King / No G.D.M / Take Me On A Highway / Tomorrow’s World

Disc 8: CD – REMIXES (Volume One) 

A Little Respect – Extended Mix / Waiting for The Day – Vince Clarke Remix / Supernature – William Orbit Remix / Blue Savannah – Little Boots Remix / S.O.S – Perimeter Mix / Love To Hate You – Bruce Forest Remix / Snappy (The Spice has Risen Mix) / Ship Of Fools – Gjone & Nicka Stella Polaris Remix / The Circus – The Equalateral Mix / Elevation – Jack Antonoff Remix / Stay With Me – Guitar Mix

Disc 9: CD – REMIXES (Volume Two) 

Stop! – 12″ Remix / I Could Fall In Love With You – Jeremy Wheatley 12″ Mix / Always – Always in Motion / Blue Savannah – Out Of The Blue Remix / Oh L’Amour – Almighty Remix / Chorus – Aggressive Trance Mix / Heavenly Action – Matt Pop’s Planet Cupid Mix / Breath Of Life – Joey Beltram Mix / You Surround Me (Syrinx Mix) / If I Could – Japanese Mix / Rock Me Gently – A Combination of Special Events

Disc 10: CD – LIVE 

Victim Of Love – The Circus Tour 1987 / Knocking On Your Door – The Erasure Show 2005 / A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot – Tomorrow’s World Tour 2011 / Joan – The Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour 1992 / Witch In The Ditch – The Innocents Tour 1988 / I Bet You’re Mad At Me – The Erasure Show 2005 / Home – The Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour 1992 / Spiralling – The Innocents Tour 1988 / Sunday Girl – Light At The End Of The World Tour 2007 / Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me – An Evening With Erasure 1997 / Breathe – The Erasure Show 2005 / Sometimes – The Innocents Tour 1988 / Tenderest Moments – The Acoustic Tour 2006 / Ave Maria – The Erasure Show 2005 / The Soldiers Return – The Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour 1992 / I Could Fall In Love With You – Light At The End Of The World Tour 2007 / A Little Respect – The Innocents 1988

Disc 11: CD – RARITIES 

Who Needs Love Like That (Audition Version) / Blue (Searching) / Piano (Tomorrow’s World Demo) / Waiting For The Day (Demo) / Siempre – (Always – Spanish Version) / 2000 Miles – (Monteverde 7″ Mix) / Chanson (Moon & The Sky French Demo) / Am I Right? (Guitar Demo) / Worlds On Fire (Demo) / Run To The Sun (Demo) / Breath Of Life (Piano Demo) / Alien (Demo) / Whole Lotta Love Run Riot (Demo) / Moon & The Sky – (The Beatmasters Remix) / Untitled (Loveboat Demo) / Amo Odiarti (Love To Hate You – Italian Disco Anthem Mix) / UK Vibe 3 (Tomorrow’s World Demo) / Symphony / Reason (Sirius XM Radio Session)

Disc 12: CD – DOCUMENTARY 

A Little Respect: 30 Years of Erasure (Radio Documentary)

Disc 13: DVD – THE WILD! CONCERT 

Piano Song / How Many Times? / You Surround Me / Knocking On Your Door / Brother And Sister / Crown Of Thorns / Star / Chains Of Love / Hideaway / Supernature / Sometimes / The Hardest Part / Oh L’Amour / Drama! / A Little Respect / Spiralling / La Gloria / Ship Of Fools / It Doesn’t Have To Be / Blue Savannah / Who Needs Love Like That / Stop! / Victim Of Love + Backstage Footage

Dead or Alive: Sophisticated Boom Box MMXVI

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Sophisticated Boom Box MMXVI

Sophisticated Boom Box MMXVI is Dead or Alive’s long awaited career-spanning box set. Housed in a colorful LP-sized casebound presentation, Boom Box compiles the band’s complete internationally renowned catalog of albums, all of which have been expanded and/or remastered for the very first time. Already scheduled for release prior to his disconcerting and unforeseen passing, this expansive retrospective was approved and curated by Burns himself, along with longtime band member Steve Coy.

Pete Burns burst onto the music scene during the mid-Eighties like a blazing shooting star with his goth-like drag and growling baritone as frontman of Dead or Alive. The band quickly reached the top of the charts with its irresistible synth-drenched Hi-NRG dance beats and hook-laden hits, most notably the Stock Aitken Waterman productions “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” and “Brand New Lover.” Burns’ eyebrow-raising style, spicy double entendres and pulsating electronica proved to be an alluring combination resulting in unexpected popularity, predominantly in North America and Japan.

Sophisticated Boom Box MMXVI contains all of Burns and company’s studio albums and remix compilations, packed with more than 255 tracks spread across 17 audio discs. Highlighting numerous remixes and single edits, the 19-disc collection also includes two DVDs comprised of rare television performances, promotional music videos, plus the DVD debut of the Rip It Up Live in Japan concert. The box set also features previously unreleased tracks including the much sought-after “Something in My House (Naughty XXX Mix),” plus an intimate 4,000-word, career-chronicling essay written by Pete Burns.

Though all too easily overlooked during the holiday shuffle and initially plagued with production errors (all of which have now been corrected), this meticulously designed and extensive collection is alas the perfect celebratory tribute to the brilliantly unconventional Pete Burns. Be sure to grab a copy while you can, as this is all but guaranteed to become a hard to find collector’s item.

 Sophisticated Boom Box MMXVI contains all of the following: 

Sophisticated Boom Boom (2 CDs)

Youthquake (3 CDs)

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know (2 CDs)

Rip It Up (2 CDs)

Nude (including Nude: Remade Remodeled (2 CDs)

Fan the Flame, Part 1 (1 CD)

Nukleopatra (2 CDs)

Fragile (including Unbreakable: The Fragile Remixes (3 CDs)

DVD 1: Promotional Music Videos

DVD 2: Rip It Up Live in Japan concert and various UK TV appearances.

 

 

Tom Chaplin: The Wave

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Tom Chaplin, lead singer and frontman of English band Keane, has just released his debut solo album. The Wave is a heartening musical catharsis which waxes poetic of crippling drug addiction and ruined relationships. But the album’s most poignant moments clearly stem from Chaplin’s own realizations of just how close he came to losing everything when confronted with his own mortality (“Bring the Rain” and “Cheating Death”).

Exquisitely produced by Aqualung’s Matt Hales, The Wave is a sparingly orchestrated, but highly emotive affair which sheds new light upon Chaplin’s commanding vocal style and newly presented songwriting acumen.  Key tracks include: the earnest “Still Waiting,” the weighty “The River,” the pensive “Quicksand” and the uplifting “Better Way.”

Chaplin recently kicked off his first solo trek, the Carried By The Wave Tour, which includes North America and Canada before wrapping up in May with final performances across the pond in the United Kingdom.