Sunday, March 26, 2017

CD Review: Universal Music Collects The Best Of Marc Almond For "Hits And Pieces"

English music artist Marc Almond celebrated 40 years in the music industry last year. To celebrate this accomplishment, Universal Music is releasing a 2CD set titled "Hits And Pieces," which covers Almond's work with the 80's electronic-pop band Soft Cell as well as his solo career. Almond was a founding member of Soft Cell, who are best known for their chart topping hit "Tainted Love," before going on his own in 1984, recording over 20 solo albums.

The new 2CD release begins with nine of Soft Cell's most well-known songs, including the original 12" mix of "Tainted Love," "Bedsitter" and "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye." The set also includes the rare single, "Black Heart" from Marc Almond's other 1980's output Marc & The Mambas. The disc wraps up with the chart topping U.K. single "Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart," which Almond performs with the legendary Gene Pitney and "A Lover Spurned" from Almond's 1990 album "Enchanted."

The second disc kicks off right where disc one left off with "The Desperate Hours" the second single off the "Enchanted" album. He definitely delivers the energy with "Jacky" and "Adored And Explored," while also making his music sound large and epic with "The Days Of Pearly Spencer." Almond's last charting single "Tragedy (Take A Look And See)" showcases his talent for songwriting as he has always found a way to capture the listeners full attention. The set closes with Almond's Broadway rocker "Variety," the nostalgic pop gem "A Kind Of Love" and a jazzy, live version of "Tainted Love," when Marc Almond performed with Jools Holland and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. Check out Marc Almond's "Hits And Pieces - The Best Of Marc Almond and Soft Cell," which will be released on April 14th through UMe. To find out more, please visit marcalmond.co.uk.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

CD/DVD Review: Paul McCartney Digs Deep Into The Vaults For New "Flowers In The Dirt" Box Set

Universal Music, in association with Capitol Records, continue their roll-out of the "Paul McCartney Archive Collection" with their latest release "Flowers In The Dirt." It is the tenth archive release and it centers around the Grammy nominated album. Originally released in 1989, this album brought Paul McCartney back into the mainstream with the singles "My Brave Face" and "Figure of Eight." Also, this album was developed out of the writing and recording sessions that McCartney did with Elvis Costello, which becomes the main focus of the bonus material on this new deluxe special release.

The original "Flowers In The Dirt" album was remastered at Abbey Road Studios, supervised by McCartney himself, and features a new stellar sound. The harmonizing on "My Brave Face," sound smooth and the beats of "Rough Ride" are strong and will certainly make an impact on your speakers. David Gilmour's guitar solo on "We Got Married" is striking as he brings in elements of later-day Pink Floyd into the world of this Beatle. The strings on "Put It There" are beautiful and the McCartney/Costello collaboration is felt in the R&B tones of "That Day Is Done." The cassette-only bonus track "Ou est le Soleil?" is also featured here with its remastered, electronic sound.

The second and third discs in the special deluxe edition feature the original demos that McCartney and Costello worked on at Paul's home studio in 1987. The quality of these demos are the best they've ever been, since they were only available in bootleg form prior to this release. The songwriting is amazing in this pure form as the harmonizing between Costello and McCartney will remind you of the early days of The Beatles. Only a few of the tracks featured on these discs in demo form made the final album, with some of the songs sprinkled on Costello's next studio album "Mighty Like A Rose" and even McCartney's next album "Off The Ground." You will instantly fall in love with these raw, loose demo recordings.

The DVD included in the deluxe special edition version of "Flowers In The Dirt" features the memorable music videos for 7 of the albums 13 songs, plus a video for the non-album single "Party Party." The DVD also includes a wonderful hour-long documentary on the making of the album and tons of unreleased footage of McCartney in the studio with his band and Elvis Costello. McCartney always has an uncanny sense of humor around the camera and it certainly shows in the home video like footage. There is also a short documentary into the making of the music video for "This One," which was groundbreaking for its time.

The new box set also contains 4 books. One book details the making of the album with 112-pages of essays and new interviews with Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and others. It includes quite of bit of unpublished photos from the sessions and also artwork from the album and singles. The second book features Paul McCartney's hand written notebook of lyrics and notes of songs from the album and demo sessions. The third showcases the amazing photography of Linda McCartney and her photo shoot for the cover of the album. The final book includes 64-pages of images used for the "This One" music video.

Every CD included in the set is included as a digital download along with exclusive B-sides, remixes and edited single versions. Fans will not mind spending the extra cash for all this material, which has been made available for the first time in this box set. To find out more about this new deluxe special edition of Paul McCartney's 1989 album "Flowers In The Dirt," please visit paulmccartney.com.

Friday, March 24, 2017

CD Review: Depeche Mode Show Some Political "Spirit" With New Album

It has been a long four years since Depeche Mode reached out with their last top 10 selling album "Delta Machine," but now they have returned with their most innovative album titled "Spirit." The album does have some large shoes to fill when it is released on March 17th, but critics are already calling it Depeche Mode's "most energized album in years." They are also following the release of their new album with a world tour.
 
The new 12-song release begins with the nearly six-minute build-up of "Going Backwards" as Depeche Mode touches upon the problems of today's society. The album continues with their latest single "Where's The Revolution" as the music's dark rock tones is a "call-to-arms" as they begin their trail to political freedom with the song's marching rhythm. Vocalist Dave Gahan delivers the perfect emotion for the ballad "The Worst Crime," before bringing back the electronic beats of "Scum" and "You Move." Depeche Mode experiment with their sound on the short sonic landscape of "Eternal," before returning with a bluesy delivery of "Poison Heart." The album finishes with the pulsating rhythm of "Poorman" as Gahan tells us a story, then "Fail" closes the album with the meaningful mellow tones that Depeche Mode are known for.
 
Their world tour kicks off  May 5th in Sweden, before making its way to the U.S. in August. For a complete list of dates and to find out more about their new album "Spirit," please visit depechemode.com.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

CD Review: 2Cellos Take You To The Movies With "Score" & Taarka New Release Is A "Fading Mystery"

What began as a fun YouTube video has grown into one of the most exciting duos to ever clash together classical and pop music. Croatian duo 2Cellos recently released their fourth studio album titled "Score." They re-imagine some of the most well-known themes from cinematic history. Although their new 14-song release begins with one of the most well-known television theme songs for "Game Of Thrones," the grand sound they put together matches up perfectly with the other songs on this new release. They continue with the gentle interlude of "May It Be" from "The Lord Of The Rings," before keeping with the lush, heartfelt delivery of "Love Story." The duo of Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser shed new light on some well-known classics like "Moon River" ("Breakfast At Tiffany's") and "My Heart Will Go On" ("Titanic"), while also spinning some magical sounds for the themes from "Rain Main" and "Schindler's List." Their new release finishes with the inspirational, uplifting tones of "Titles From Chariots Of Fire" and soul-searching melody of "Now We Are Free" from "Gladiator." 2Cellos are currently on a world tour which will hit the U.S. in July. For a complete list of dates and to find out more about their new album "Score," please visit 2cellos.com.

From Lyons, CO comes the latest release titled "Fading Mystery" from the old-fashion, Americana-style band Taarka. Their music has been described as Gypsy-Jazz, folk and even Celtic as this foursome produce some of the most meaningful music of the year. Their new ten-song release begins with "Carried Away" as the tempo is swift, while singer Enion Pelta-Tiller tells this darken tale through her wonderful delivery of the lyrics. The music takes on a lighter feel with "Polyamorous Polly" as David Tiller takes over the lead vocals on this love story. Their talents are heard on the amazing instrumental "What My Darl'n Says," before they try to capture the Americana mainstream sound of "I Could Really Use You Now." The album continues with the high-energy instrumentals "Retreat" and "Finn McCool Crosses The Rocky Mountains," before finishing with the gentle, folk melody of "Fading Mystery." Taarka have a handful of shows lined-up in April and May. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their new album"Fading Mystery," please visit taarka.com.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CD Review: Security Project Give Us A High "5" And Billy Valentine Showcases His "Brit Eyed Soul"

The Security Project has definitely enjoyed performing the music of Peter Gabriel and Genesis to sell-out crowds all over the world. The musicians involved with the band are a little more experienced than your typical tribute band as some have played with Peter Gabriel and other prog-rock bands like King Crimson. The Security Project have released two former albums simply titled "Live 1" and Live 2." Now the band skip ahead to release a new album titled "Five" which features for the first time, the voice of singer/songwriter Happy Rhodes.
 
The new five-song release, features four Peter Gabriel originals and one song from Kate Bush. The album begins with one of Gabriel's most popular solo hits "Games Without Frontiers" as Rhodes' vocals mimic the song's originals, while the music sweeps you away as it pushes past the 8-minute mark. The new short release continues with "No Self Control," which originally featured Kate Bush's vocals, as Rhodes handles the vocal duties with ease. The Kate Bush original "Mother Stand For Comfort" fits in perfectly among the other Gabriel classics, before finishing with the pounding beats of "Rhythm Of The Heat." To find out more about Security Project and their latest release "Five," please visit securityprojectband.com.
 
Soulful vocal artist Billy Valentine recently released a new album of cover songs titled "Brit Eyed Soul." Valentine is best known as the voice of songs on "Sons Of Anarchy" and "Boston Legal." Now he dives into a dozen well-known tracks from some of Britain's biggest hit makers, beginning with the Rolling Stones' "Beast Of Burden," which carries an R&B/funk groove that fits Valentine's style perfectly. His vocals set the mood with the sultry ballad, "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" and the smooth delivery of "More Than A Woman." He turns John Lennon's "Watching The Wheels" into a seventies funk gold, then pays true respect to The Beatles with an beautiful soulful rendition of "Here, There and Everywhere." The album finishes with the perfect match-up of Billy Valentine's vocals on Elton John's "(I Guess That's Why) They Call It The Blues" and the cool jazz/funk rhythm of "(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." To find out more about Billy Valentine and his latest release "Brit Eyed Soul," please visit billy-valentine.com.