Sunday, December 4, 2016

CD Review: John Wetton Releases First Volume Of His "Official Bootleg Archive"

English singer/songwriter/bassist John Wetton has had a very successful solo career, as well as careers in the bands King Crimson and Asia. His latest is a live set released through Cherry Red Records of three shows titled "The Official Bootleg Archive, Vol. 1." The new six-disc set features three separate shows from John Wetton's late-nineties solo tours.

The first show is taken live from Argentina in 1996 during the final months of his tour supporting his album "Voice Mail." The new 17-song set spans Wetton's entire career up to that point. He delivers Asia classics like "Only Time Will Tell" and "Sole Survivor," mixed with songs from his first two solo albums. The sound on this first concert is exceptional as it seems professionally recorded. John Wetton's vocals are clear and up front, especially during the acoustic "Book Of Saturday." The audience is barely audible, but it does not take away from the overall experience of the show. Wetton includes only two songs off his latest solo studio album, "Battle Lines" and "Hold Me Now," and does not shy away from his King Crimson days with the performances of "Easy Money" and "Starless" to the delight of the audience. He closes the show with the chart topping Asia single "Don't Stop."

The second show in this set is from his 1997 appearance in Osaka, Japan. The tour was in support of his third solo album, "Arkangel" as Wetton begins the show with "The Last Thing On My Mind." Again, his vocals and the music sound great and very professional. He performs five new songs during this show, while also keeping his famous hits from Asia in the line-up. Some of the subtle differences in this show is the inclusion of new keyboardist John Young's classical solo and the addition of "In The Dead Of Night" from his supergroup, U.K. A different live album was released from John Wetton's performance in Tokyo, Japan three days later, but this is the first official release of this show and the other two in this set.

The third show included in this set is from Tokyo, Japan in 1999. John Wetton returned to Japan only two years later, but with a brand new band to support him. The set list was very similar with some minor adjustments, moving songs around and bringing back the King Crimson classic "Book Of Saturday" along with Asia's "Time Again." The sound of this show is the worst of the three, but it is still very good and very much deserves this official release. Wetton's band is full of energy as the addition of guitarist David Kilminster gives Wetton's music a harder, more electrifying sound. This show finishes with back-to-back Asia hits "Heat Of The Moment" and "Don't Cry," which has become the recipe for closing Wetton's shows for the next decade or so. With over six hours of music, this set is a must have for fans and should keep them busy, until volume two gets released. To find out more about John Wetton's new live release "The Official Bootleg Archive, Vol. 1," please visit cherryred.co.uk.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

CD/Blu-Ray Review: Concord Bicycle Music Celebrates 25 Years Of "Out Of Time" From R.E.M.

From Athens, GA in 1980 came this underground rock band that would end up helping shape the worlds of alternative rock and pop rock music. R.E.M. were considered one of the first "alternative" rock bands, producing music that was different from the normal radio-friendly hits of the eighties. Their sound began to get noticed at college campuses around the U.S., until 1991 when R.E.M. released the album "Out Of Time."
 
After growing their fanbase with their first six albums, their seventh album, "Out Of Time" would send the band into superstardom as it topped the U.S. and U.K. album charts. It has since gone on to sell over 12 million copies and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this landmark album, Concord Bicycle is releasing a 3CD/Blu-ray super deluxe edition of the album.
 
The original 11-track album was remastered as songs like "Low" and "Half A World Away" sound strikingly strong. The album was led by the hit singles "Losing My Religon" and "Shiny Happy People," but R.E.M. kept some of their underground, alternative sound alive in the tracks "Texarkana" and "Belong." They even expanded their sound with the deep acoustic, meaningful lyrics of "Country Feedback" and the uplifting pop tones of "Me In Honey."
 
Fans will fall in love with the second and third discs in this set which features demos and live versions of almost every song on the album. The 19-track second disc begins with an instrumental version of "Losing My Religion," which sets the stage and gives the listener a tiny insight into the creative process these songs took. Songs like "Radio" and "Texarkana" appear multiple times, in different forms which helped shaped the final product. The disc also carries a guitar instrumental "Untitled Demo," a lovely short acoustic song titled "40 Sec." and the quiet, monotone delivery of "Fretless."
 
Disc three contains R.E.M.'s performance at Mountain Stage in 1991. It contains the band's entire 15 song set and it was rare that the band performed live as they did not promote the album with a tour. The Blu-ray contains the "Out Of Time" album in 5.1 surround sound as well as eight music videos and an additional promotional video titled "Time Piece," which gives fans an in-studio look and exclusive performances of songs from the album.
 
This new 25th anniversary of R.E.M.'s "Out Of Time album is also available on a 3LP vinyl set and as 2CD "Deluxe Edition," which contains the newly remastered album and the full disc of demos. To find out more about this great release of this truly iconic album, please visit remhq.com.

Friday, December 2, 2016

CD Review: The Human League Cover Their Entire Career With "A Very British Synthesizer Group"

The English New Wave band The Human League formed almost 40 years ago in Sheffield. They released their first album "Reproduction" in 1979 and captured the U.S. with their hit singles "Don't You Want Me" and "Human." To celebrate the band's success, Universal Music recently released a 2CD anthology of the band titled "A Very British Synthesizer Group." It contains 30 of the group's songs from throughout their career, including 7 previously unreleased DJ mixes.

The tracks on this new release are laid out in chronological order, beginning with the electronic beats of "Being Boiled (Fast Version)" and the keyboard-led instrumental "The Dignity Of Labour (Part 3)." The Human League's first single to chart in the U.K. was the addictive rhythm of "Empire State Human," before breaking into the U.K. top ten with the dance beats of "Love Action (I Believe In Love)."

The average listener will enjoy hearing their nostalgic hit singles "Don't You Want Me" and "(Keep Feeling) Fascination," while long-time fans will be happy with the inclusion of the rare seven-inch single version of "The Lebanon" and the unreleased DJ edit of "Louise." English musician William Orbit remixes Human League's 1990 hit single "Heart Like A Wheel" and the compilation wraps up with the radio edits of their more recent electronic singles "Night People" and "Sky." To find out more about The Human League's newly released anthology, "A Very British Synthesizer Group," please visit thehumanleague.co.uk.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

CD Review: Some Of The Best Female Guitarists Come Together For "She Rocks" Compilation

One of the first new releases of 2017 features almost a dozen of the best female guitarists in the rock genre. A new compilation titled "She Rocks, Vol. 1" will be available on January 20th, through Steve Vai's own Favored Nations Label. Vai is also the executive producer of this new release, which co-insides with the 2017 "She Rocks Awards."
 
The new eleven-song release begins with the uplifting guitar sounds of "Transmogrify" from Orianthi (Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper) and the independent musician Yasi Hofer on "Cosmic Stars." Veteran rocker Lita Ford teams up with the all-female tribute band, Lez Zeppelin for a rocking version of "The Lemon Song." Another one of Michael Jackson's former guitarist, Jennifer Batten provides "In The Aftermath" from her most recent solo album and then current Alice Cooper guitarist, Nita Strauss rocks out with her skills on the instrumental "Pandemonium." The compilation closes with a couple classically trained artists, Gretchen Menn, who delivers the sonic wake-up call of "Scrap Metal" and then Yvette Young provides the technically outstanding piece "Hydra." To find out more about "She Rocks, Vol. 1," please visit favorednations.com.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On The Record - Music: Jim Heath, Reverend Horton Heat, Talks About Touring And Recording New Album

Jim "Reverend Horton" Heath talks with us about their upcoming tour which currently runs into June 2017. He also discusses with us the origin of the band's name, Reverend Horton Heat, and the success of their latest album "Rev," along with the popularity of their music in video games.