December 28, 2004
KINDNESS IN THE HARD CROWD
On November 26th, 1968 CREAM graced the Royal Albert Hall stage for their last concert ever, preserved for posterity on "Goodbye Cream". Or it was supposed to be their last. It's been supposed for a long time, the 1993's short performance at the power trio's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not counting. The three collaborated in pairs from time to time, lastly on Jack Bruce's "Shadows In The Air", where Eric Clapton guested on new versions of CREAM's "White Room" and "Sunshine Of Your Love". Now, the old feud between Jack and Ginger Baker seems to be laid to rest, as Eric's announced the band's intention to come onto the same old stage again, for four shows in May 2005. Hopefully, Bruce's health has nothing to do with the threesome desire to make it again...
HEED THE SONG THAT CALLS THEM BACK
As the Yuletitude was drawing near, JETHRO TULL pulled on some seasonal activity again. After last year's "Christmas Album", this time they came up with an EP, "Merry Christmas", out in the UK. There's only three cuts on there, "Ring Out Solstice Bells" pinched out from the aforementioned album, and the other two live performances from the 2004 tour. It's a limited edition of only 2,500 copies, and Ian Anderson asks all the buyers to donate $1 to Wild About Cats via PayPal.
Also in limited quantity out is a special USA re-release of "Christmas Album", augmented with a bonus DVD containing three songs - "My Sunday Feeling", "Jack in the Green" and "Life's A Long Song" from the 2002's "Living In The Past" programme.
As for something more interesting, last November saw the release of TULL's "Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970" CD. A legendary performance known to many only by "My Sunday Feeling" that made it onto the "Message To Love" documentary soundtrack, now is here in its entirety, featuring "My God", then yet to see the light of day on "Aqualung":
If there's a singer who can still wiggle out some croaky screams of rapture not only from a woman's heart but from a grown-up music lover, too, it's Rod Stewart. Deep into the American crooning classics lately, the nosy scot doesn't forget the songs that endeared him to almost everybody, and here's the proof: the "One Night Only!" DVD recorded earlier this year at the Royal Albert Hall. An indispensable purchase for those who's been hooked on Rod since his first glory days, as here's everything the fan needs, from "I Ain't Superstitious" and "Rock My Plimsoul", originally cut by Stewart with THE JEFF BECK GROUP, to the smashes which are "Sailing" and "Maggie May".
Experimenting is not what Joe Lynn Turner is up for, mostly because his supporters don't like it that much. So while Turner's partner in crime, Glenn Hughes does his own thing, Joe sticks to what he's good at - melodic, soul-infused hard rock. On the same label, though. "The Usual Suspects", his new album, is out on February 21st. The title explains it all: the music is what everyone expects, the players, including Al Pitrelli, what everybody suspects. Who'll ask for more, then?
LONG LOST JOHN
He seems to be ignored by people who don't know what Long John Baldry did to British popular music. Without him, the Blighty blues wouldn't be what it is now - and Reg Dwight, a keyboardist in Baldry's BLUESOLOGY, would be Elton Something-Other, not John. Sir El remembered his mentor when hit the big time, and with another John's band's alumnus, Rod Stewart, produced two singer's albums: 1971's "It Ain't Easy" and 1972's "Everything Stops For Tea". Which are to be re-issued in February with valuable bonus tracks. Note the other Jonh's - Dr. John's - "Iko Iko" on the second one.
December 22, 2004
CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE. AGAIN?
Those who never heard what THE BEATLES' Xmas records were about, should find a way to tune to the BBC Radio 2 on December 27th to listen to a two-hour documentary about the seven seasonal flexi-discs produced exclusively for the Fab's British fanclub members in 1963-1969. Known by many bootlegs, the only officially released snippet of this spoken word and music extravaganza is "Christmas Time Is Here Again" from 1967 which made it to the 1995's "Free As A Bird" CD single as a B-side - if there's such a thing on CD - so the inevitable question is if all those cuts will be out any day soon. The answer is, probably, no - with some BEATLES' things, like the "Let It Be" DVD, to be finished yet, and the whole their catalogue still not remastered.
GET UP AND GO BACK HOME
It's been done and delayed and much talked about and postponed and, on August 16th, 2003, premiered, and almost derailed, and all this seemed deranged - yet all of this was rather fitting for the new and eagerly-awaited THE RUTLES' project. "Can't Buy Me Lunch" is out on March 1st, 2005, finally! The sequel to the 1978's mockumentary on THE BEATLES' glory road and decay way features, along Eric Idle, Neil Innes and Ricky Fataar as the pre-Fab Four, such luminaries as David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, Robin Williamson, Tom Hanks, Salman Rushdie, Jewel and more. And more. And more. Yet, it seems, no John Halsey this time - but should THE RUTLES reunion tour of America have all the original band members when there's no Fabs anymore to found a story about? Still, a laugh is a laugh, and the film has bucketful of it.
THE ROYAL COMPANY
Some still call it a speculation, yet with the source being Roger Taylor's interview on German TV - the clip can be found on the Web - that rings true: in 2005 there can be the QUEEN with Paul Rodgers tour. Quite a clever choice of a singer to replace the irreplaceable Freddie Mercury, as the former FREE / BAD COMPANY vocalist is a legend in his own right and couldn't be influenced by dear old Fred. Whether Paul is able to handle the task is out of question, with all the doubts blown away by his performance of "We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions" medley, along with FREE's anthem "All Right Now", at the first annual UK Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony on November 11th, 2004. QUEEN's Brian May announced Rodgers as "our friend and hero", and it really is so - in 1993, Brian supplied a guitar solo for "I'm Ready" off Paul's Grammy-nomimated "Muddy Water Blues", and on September 24th, 2004 the two performed at the Fender's 50th Anniversary show at Wembley Arena. The "Strat Pack" concert DVD will be released next spring; hopefully, the QUEEN & Rodgers tour will bring live recordings as well. As of the dates, there's still none to report of.
Except for which surely will be recorded for posterity: on March 19th there'll be the second 46664 concert staged in South Africa under auspices of Nelson Mandela to benefit the AIDS charity.
RULING, NOT REIGNING
He's called The Guv'nor and rightly so, as there's hardly any other man who has contributed to English folk rock greater than Ashley Hutchings. A mighty presence in such seminal ensembles as FAIRPORT CONVENTION, ALBION BAND and STEELEYE SPAN, Ashley's a multi-faceted figure with the only miss being his failure at restoring SWEENEY'S MEN, but The Guv'nor's work surely deserves proper anthologizing. And that's what "Burning Bright" is about: a wonderful - like all the Free Reed label releases, the good example being "Fairport unConventioNal" - box set comprised of four thematic CDs and a "'write-in" fifth one, of classic, rare and previously unissued material, plus 136-page full-colour book. The set was compiled with Hutchings' approval and cooperation and will be out on January 26th, the man's 60th birthday. A present - for him and for us all.
December 9, 2004
THE LEMMINGS' GATHERING
It's been almost 30 years since VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR played together in its original quartet form of Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton, Guy Evans and David Jackson - if we don't count a happening at one of the Anglo psychos' birthday party. Now Hammill broke the news on the band planning to come forth on-stage again, at the Royal Festival Hall on May 6th, 2005. And then there's a talk of some double album to be released to tie-in with the show, although it's not clear whether it'll be new studio or archival recording - or this is to be recorded there and then and issued later on.
MOVING THROUGH THE SOUL FAIR
There's no cures for unstoppable Glenn Hughes, and the frequency with which he puts out another album could be shameful if not for the ever-growing quality of the veteran's songs. And here's more and more of those. On January 24th, the Funkmeister releases a follow-up to 2003's "Songs In The Key Of Rock". Titled "Soul Mover", it features now a regular Hughes' sidekick Chad Smith of RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, on drums, usual suspects JJ Marsh on guitar and Ed Roth on keyboards, plus ex-Chili Pepper and current JANE'S ADDICTION guitarist Dave Navarro on the title track. Well, if Glenn puts "soul" in a title, that means something!
IN A DARKEST HOUR
Contrary to their name and pedigree, MIDNIGHT FLYER didn't soar to the sky. That band was the delicious Maggie Bell's concoction, but neither her powerhouse voice, nor Ant Glynne's guitar and Tony Stevens' bass mastery, nor Dave Dowle's drumming and BAD COMPANY's Mick Ralphs' production, prevent their only album, which was released in 1981, from bombing. Even though the drummer's former group, WHITESNAKE, were making it big time then, the timing wasn't right for Bell's blues. The record became a rarity and never made it onto a CD - yet it will make, in early 2005. The album is to be issued by Angel Air in its entirety, with their only single sides as bonus tracks. This time is the time to fly!
It's a shame that Bernie Torme just can't escape being associated with GILLAN the band, and maybe it's quite right because, without the guitarist, a certain singer could have had troubles cutting it from his initial jazzy solo trends to a more fitting hard rock. Those who saw Bernie live in the last decade, though, say it's something adorable and exciting, but, unfortunately, Torme is rarely seen outside the UK. So it's about time to get hold of a DVD called "Stratocaster Gypsy", which comprises concert footage with promotional stuff, as well as an interview with the man, his discography and biography:
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