Discovery: Bent Knee (Boston) – Releases New Album, Land Animal, In June

Rock and Roll certainly hasn’t stayed static as a music style during its still rampant run. In fact (Don’t throw things!), it could be said that music these days is far more expansive in a million more ways than they were during Rock’s younger years. Of course, the music of the ’60s and ’70s, the ’80s and ’90s, were vastly different than each other, and definitely different than what the new century has brought us in its 17 years! But these days, there are great bands pushing the envelope as much as the envelope was pushed back in the those previously mentioned decades. I’ll always love the music of those earlier time frames. But I easily fall in love with excellent new bands as well. One of them is a band known as Bent Knees.

I don’t recall how I stumbled across this band. But I know that once I heard their “Leak Water” track (hear below) from their Say So album, issued in 2016, almost a year ago (May 20), I was hooked. Unlike a lot of bands, this one employs the use of several genres of musical styles like Prog Rock, Pop, Avant-Garde, blended with traditionally classical influence with the use of violins, cellos, and others. As a result, they are tough to classify as a specific band producing a specific type of music. You’ll be challenged…but you like challenges, right?!

Bent Knee is a six-member band, They were formed in the famed Berklee College of Music in 2009. They self-released their first two, both of which I am enjoying on Spotify (Bent Knee – 2011, Shiny Eyed Babies – 2014). Their Say So album is hosted on Bandcamp only (here). The songs are excellent. I’m particularly fond of the vocal work of Courtney Swain, who also works the keyboards for the band.

On June 23, the busy Bent Knee band will release their next album, Land Animal. This new album will feature ten new songs with a bonus of two remixed tracks, both included on the standard CD release. The album will also be released on white vinyl LP (with CD), and several formats of Digital (FLAC, MP3, WAV, and other high quality digital issues). If you go to their Bandcamp page (here), you can even find a CD/Tee bundle as well as a limited edition digipak CD.


Review: Uriah Heep 2CD Reissues (Look At Yourself/Demons and Wizards/The Magician’s Birthday)

If you were into Hard Rock in the ’70s, then you fell in somewhere with Uriah Heep. Whether that was with the popular track, “Easy Livin'”, or the later issued “Stealin'”, you likely enjoyed listening to them more than once. Uriah Heep is a UK band with their beginnings rooted in 1969, and who eventually owned the stage and airwaves with their progressive-styled music. They first issued Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble back in 1970. Following with Salisbury less than a year later, the band was as creative as could be expected. And creativity was a strong point. Pushed by an ambitious manager, they continued to create at the highest level producing the classics that followed on the heels of the first two. Those were Look At Yourself (1971), Demons and Wizards (1972), and literally six months later The Magician’s Birthday (1972).

With Demons And Wizards, they began to gain greater notice as “Easy Livin'” soared onto Top 40 radio charts worldwide. Of course, the band had already been gaining momentum with previously released singles but those were primarily FM classics (“July Morning” from Look At Yourself, for example). But it was “Easy Livin'” that captured the attention of the widest audience. Uriah Heep would drift back into FM territory with The Magician’s Birthday songs, but return to Top 40 with “Stealin'” from their ‘nine month later’ album, Sweet Freedom (1973). The story goes on further from there.

On March 31, BMG Music reissued Look At Yourself, Demons And Wizards, and The Magician’s Birthday as newly remastered 2CD sets including essential alternate takes of each album that create elaborate and definitive sets for any Uriah Heep collector.

Look At Yourself includes eleven bonus “Alternative” tracks. They include an extended alternate track (“Tears In My Eyes”), a live alternate track (“July Morning”), and a single edit of “Look At Yourself”. The remaining tracks are alternate mixes with two of them outtakes (“Why Fourteen Minutes”, “What’s Within My Heart”). These tracks are previously unreleased.

Demons And Wizards delivers a treasure of fourteen bonus “Alternative tracks. They provide alternate mixes of the entire album as well as four outtake tracks (“Home Again To You”, two versions of “Why”(one a single edit), “Proud Words” (chosen and re-recorded by Hensley for his solo effort, Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf – 1973), and “Green Eye”). These tracks are previously unreleased.

The Magician’s Birthday – my personal favorite – contains fifteen “Alternative” songs. The original album is represented completely by eight alternate mixes, along with outtakes that include “Crystal Ball” (two versions, one titled as “Gary’s Song”)”Silver White Man” (two editions, one instrumental), “Happy Birthday”, a single edit of “Sunrise”, a single edit of “Sweet Lorraine”.


The remastered tracks make the music even more a joy to listen to. And with the bonus racks, it’s nice to hear the ideas that were played around with in the studio. I love the fact that the band were meticulous with their music. Within the studio. they largely knew what they wanted to end up with. There are several lineups of Uriah Heep, all quite good within their sphere. But the high point version of Uriah Heep had David Byron at the front, Gary Thain at bass with his partner in crime, Lee Kerslake on drums, Ken Hensley with his keyboard magic, and the unmatched guitars of Mick Box.

All three of these reissues are tri-fold housing for the two CDs and wallet housed 20-page booklets. Each booklet are richly designed with informative essays, interviews with original members, Ken Hensley and Mick Box. The booklets contain photos, memorabilia (with singles covers), lyrics, and full credits! Complemented by the earlier released ‘best of’, Your Turn to Remember, these three albums join the first two to make your collection of Uriah Heep classics as memorable as they may ever be able to attain to outside of these new reissues.

Now, we wait for the work and announcements for Sweet Freedom, Wonderworld (1974), and perhaps even Uriah Heep Live (1973). You can bet I’ll let you know! These reissues are the ones that worked hardest at making my year complete, no matter what else comes out!


R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People To Get 25th Anniversary Edition (And Part Lies Reissue)

After the IRS years, R.E.M. furthered their career by creating strong Pop/Rock hits that began with the Warner debut, Green (1988). That album drove the band into multi-platinum peaks selling more than four million copies worldwide. It was followed by the even more successful Out Of Time, a set that delivered “Shiny Happy People”, and “Losing My Religion”. But it was the release of Automatic For The People that lifted the band to previously unseen heights. That album was responsible for “Everybody Hurts”, “Man On The Moon”, “Drive” and three others for a total of six singles.

With Concord Records revisiting the band’s classic catalog for remastered reissues (Out Of Time issued 2016 as a multi-disc 25th Anniversary set (see here), it’s only a natural expectation to think that the same would be done for Automatic For The People (1992) as its 25th Anniversary arrives in October of 2017.

Good news!

On or near this celebratory date, Concord Records new reissue label, Craft Recordings will release what will no doubt be a beautiful and worthy honoring of R.E.M.’s classic Automatic For The People. At this time, there are no details to whet an appetite with so we’ll have to wait for those official channels to open up to disclose the expected goodness (other than the remastered original album).

However, before Automatic For The People arrives, you can expect the reissue of 2011’s R.E.M. collection, Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011. That set is being prepared for a launch date of June 16 as a 2CD reissue. much as it is. Like AftP, there are no details yet as to what can be actually expected. However, I suspect that this ‘best of’ set will not deviate much (if at all) from its original track-list. It may just be there to brand the title with the Craft Recordings label.  Nevertheless, it’s coming.


Review: Death Song – The Black Angels

It’s been 1,480 COUNTABLE days (and some change) since The Black Angels had released Indigo Meadow, their last long player of Psychedelic Rock. Indigo Meadow was an achievement that would easily match anything coming from the legacy era of of the late ’60s when Psychedelic Rock was lighting up lofts throughout large cities. If they were a part of that era, The Black Angels would be remembered today as one of the classic greats. And not that the band’s incept date hinders them from becoming as much a classic band. They’re that good. Or great as I am wont to put it.

Just days ago, The Black Angels topped their magic of Indigo Meadow with their latest set, Death Song. (If any of this sounds familiar, it should. It’s no secret the band is a fan of The Velvet Underground. They take their name from “The Black Angel’s Death Song” from VA’s perfect debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967). It’s just now that the band has decided to marry the entire title of that song with their name and an album title. What an album to do it with.) In short and easy to understand language, Death Song, the new album by The Black Angels, is a fantastic album with NO bad songs within its grooves.

Death Song has eleven tracks, none of which lack in any way. Each song is as powerful an offering as the one preceding it…and the one following it. As you listen to it (presumably as it’s sequenced ), your mind is privy to the mental fight that will occur as you vacillate between best tracks. The great thing is that they’re all best tracks. Death Song is a store of perfection. From “Currency” and “I’d Kill For Her” to “Hunt Me Down” and “I Dreamt” to “Death March”, and “Life Song”, Death Song is the masterpiece of The Black Angels. And it waits for your approval.

I’ll stop slobbering all over you. But know this, Death Song is one of the great album releases of an early 2017. If anyone can beat it, well…I’d be impressed. If I had any belief in the Grammy system, I’d call Death Song a no-brainer to claim the award.

Psychedelia never sounded so good!


New Tori Amos Album, Native Invaders, Expected In September

It most certainly – to me – feel like its NOT been well over two years since the release of Tori Amos‘ last studio album, Unrepentant Geraldines. But here we are with the announcement of a new set not long around the corner of a few months. Tori Amos, of course, is the author of so many classic albums that we look forward to each new exploration she undertakes. With her new one, she shifts her focus to, as she puts it, “to find different ways of facing unforeseen challenges, and in some cases, dangerous conflicts”. If Nature can renew things for itself, then why can’t we? I’m in.

Photo Credit: Paulina Otylie Surys

On September 8, Tori Amos will release her 15th album, Native Invaders. This new album will be released by Decca Records, signifying a new contract beyond her time with Mercury. Tori will tour the album starting with an extensive 22-date European tour. I suspect a US one after that but there are no official words on that.

New Ani DiFranco Album, Binary, Set for June

Long-time folk/rock/music activist singer, Ani DiFranco has eighteen studio albums to her credit since her emergence back in 1990 with the self-released debut, Ani DiFranco. Since then, she has followed up each year’s release with another the next year. Over time, she has developed a nice fan-base that keeps her active in many ways including shows throughout the world. From a  Rock and Roll standpoint, if you can make a nice living doing what you want (it doesn’t have to be extravagant), then you’re doing right by yourself. Ani DiFranco is doing right by herself.

All her music is normally funded by her label, Righteous Babe. However, with a new album on the horizon, Ani DiFranco has resorted to the rising popular methodology of Pledge Music to produce her latest.

Her newest album, Binary, is scheduled for release on June 9. It will contain eleven new songs that – in typical Ani DiFranco fashion – will relate to world and personal issues. Binary will focus on “relationships and responsibility to each other” as its message to the world.

Binary will be released on CD, DD, and 140g-weight vinyl LP.

Thoughts On The Passing Of Cuba Gooding, Sr. of The Main Ingredient

One of the beautiful things about Soul Music during the early to mid-70s period (up to and including 1974) was that artists and groups could take their material in different directions freely. At least, it was the impression which one got as a result of different sounds becoming so progressively expansive as you flipped through the AM Top 40 dial. Lyrically, you could be as tough or as vulnerable as you wanted. However which way you chose, it was a period of time when one did not have to play to any musical stereotype. The Main Ingredient were one of those Soul outfits who stayed true to themselves. In looking back with hindsight, I could never figure out why their work was sometimes maligned by critics. If it wasn’t working, then why did “Everybody Plays The Fool” and “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” do so well in the charts?

Cuba Gooding Sr. put it over for all of us in a way I could relate to. And with “Everybody Plays The Fool”, he did it like he was a friend to all of us. He was saying he’s been through the same thing as you in your longing for that lady you had your eye on. “How can you help it when the music starts to play?/ And your ability to reason is wept away”? In another passage of the song, it has never gone out of my head of the image of how much love can take over your life and how it can stay with you so vividly that you could practically reach out and touch it. “Love runs deeper than any ocean/It can cloud your mind with emotion”. These were plain and simple words sung with confessional honesty to a friend.

“Everybody Plays The Fool” was released in the late Summer of 1972. It became a greeting song for all of us getting back to school in September. It didn’t matter what age you were. You knew you were going to fall down that path. There was going to be that one who was going to sweep you off of your feet that year in school. Cuba was just letting you know that you had a soundtrack to follow along to as you made that same trip into your own personal chaos that you could never break the habit of getting into in the first place. I thank him for being there to help me through because I did some serious falling myself back then. I still carry it with me because I still do the same thing 45 years later. It’s a continuous circle like everything in life.

And then came that last great year before,1974, just before the advent of Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” changed the dynamic of Soul Music and things began to morph into what we would come to call Disco. “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” continued with a great groove. He had the lady in that one and he had all of the cool to show for it. If that wasn’t enough, the guitar in that song just took the song where it needed to go. I wish more people could bring back the subject of all of the cool guitar players in Soul Music back then into the subjects of their conversations in music forums. The one in “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” had that great sting to it. Combined with Gooding’s vocal delivery, the Spring and early Summer of ’74 became that much better for its being there for you to shuffle along to in your mind or if you were riding on your back and had a transitor radio to get you through neighborhoods and traffic. I don’t know if it was the same for you, but ’74 was such a mellow and smooth-cool attitude time of the ’70s. I’ve said it before in tributes in the past that I’ve done here, but I’ve always thought that ’74 was the last year of the ’60s. Once the year was out and things worked their way towards the middle of ’75, the ’70s as a lot of us came to know had begun to set in. It had a different feeling and it was sneaking up on all of us-no exceptions.

For those of you who don’t know about it, there is an SACD hybrid (multi-channel) release of the Euphrates River album from the Vocalion label out of the U.K. which was released recently which any self-respecting Soul Music fan should own. It is the definitive sonic version of the album and a must have. Seek it out before it goes out of print (if it hasn’t done so already). It is fervently hoped that Vocalion can score the rights to release the Bitter Sweet album in the same format. “Everybody Plays The Fool” deserves to have a multi-channel release. We are so fortunate to have have had “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” make it.

There’s also another great release out there on CD which people should pick up from the U.S. label called Real Gone Music. It’s a two-fer CD (two albums on 1 CD) of the L.T.D. and Black Seeds albums from before 1972’s Bitter Sweet album from before and just after Gooding joined the group (after the passing of one of their original vocalists). The material stands up quite well up against the Bitter Sweet and Euphrates River albums. As with anything having to do with Real Gone Music, if you have any inclination for picking it up because you are serious about listening to this phase of the group, then you’ll want to get it as titles from Real Gone Music go out of print pretty fast.

The articles that are slowly trickling out are giving all indications that this may have been a particularly tragic passing. I don’t know all of the circumstances involved, but the passing of the Soul artists always hit me a little harder than some of the other music passings for the simple reason that their advancement in success was all of our success. My life is better for having had Soul artists and groups in it. They created a an important part of the tapestry of our musical lives which all too often gets forgotten.

–Steve Talia

Massive Kraftwerk Box of Recorded ‘Full Album’ Concerts, 3-D The Catalogue (and More)

Kraftwerk emerged back in the ’70s with their groundbreaking Pop/Synth Top40 song, “Autobahn”. The song captured the evolving times of Rock with an uncanny ability to be able to do so before many others had in the ’80s. Before that great album, the band had already released three LPs beginning with Kraftwerk in 1970 and followed by Kraftwerk 2 (1972), and Ralf and Florian (which arrived in the US AFTER the success of Autobahn).

Over time, Kraftwerk developed a strong and devoted fanbase. From Autobahn on through Computer World (1981), the band was to be envied for their successes.

(I love all things Kraftwerk. But I have an immense preference for The Man Machine (with “The Model”). The divide between that album and all other Kraftwerk albums is huge!)

On May 26, the UK marketplace will release a whopping 8CD Box set (via Parlophone) of all the Kraftwerk successes played in concert settings as full albums. They will represent fairly recent recordings between the period of 2012 through 2016 of albums that include complete concert sets of Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans Europe Express, The Man-Machine, Computer World, The Mix (a 1991 compilation), Techno Pop, and Tour de France. The Box is being called 3-D The Catalogue.

There will also be digital formats available, as well as a 9LP box, and a cool 4BD (Blu-ray) with video AND 5.1 mixes (Dolby Atmos) of the individual tracks! This Box will be presented in a 12″x 12″ container and will include a 228-page book. The discs will be held within an 8-panel digipak.

The CD box offers a “headphone Surround 3D” disc of The Mix.


Live Simple Minds Set, Acoustic In Concert, Planned For June

With the release of the Acoustic Simple Minds album issued in 2016, I’m on high alert to anything else by them. That album delivered a new shine to what were already great songs. It’s almost never pretty to have an artist revisit their classic material in new recordings. But that is not always true as some have not only produced beautiful and memorable revisits, but also some have revitalized the import of songs. A prime example of that is Joni Mitchell’s introspective turning of “Both Sides Now”, re-recorded in 2000 as a new viewpoint.  Simple Minds’ Acoustic album is likewise a goldmine of newness.

On June 16, Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Acoustic In Concert. This new live set will feature sixteen performance tracks that include songs like “See The Lights”, “New Gold Dream (”, “Someone, Somewhere, In Summertime”, “Sanctify Yourself”, and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.  The set was recorded from their November 10, 2016 Hackney Empire (London) show for the ongoing BBC Radio 2 In Concert series. Simple Minds continues their Acoustic concert tour with a large string of Europe dates.

Acoustic In Concert is expected to be released on CD/DVD and DD.

Acoustic In ConcertSimple Minds

01 New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
02 See The Lights
03 Glittering Prize
04 Stand By Love
05 Waterfront
06 Andy Warhol
07 Chelsea Girl
08 Someone Somewhere In Summertime
09 Dancing Barefoot
10 Speed Your Love To Me
11 Promised You A Miracle
12 Don’t You (Forget About Me)
13 Sanctify Yourself
14 Long Black Train
15 Alive And Kicking
16 Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)


John Coltrane Collection and Mono Remastered Albums Due June, August

John Coltrane, an American treasure, whose emotive saxophone worked its way into the hearts of anyone who’s listened to it, has more than 25 albums recorded for various labels. To date, he’s produced classics for Blue Note, Prestige, Atlantic, Savoy, and various other labels. It doesn’t matter which era you love, all of Coltrane’s music shines a brighter light than many of his peers.

On June 9, Atlantic Records will release a compiled collection of recorded songs under contract as CD and LP. The assembled set is being called Trane: The Atlantic Collection. The set will feature newly remastered tracks. Trane: The Atlantic Collection will feature “My Favorite Things”, “Giant Steps, Naimi”, and other great Trane tunes. This assembled set is designed to be an introduction to the magic of John Coltrane.

Even better, Atlantic will release new MONO remasters of the following individual Coltrane (and collaborative) albums:

  • Giant Steps (1960)
  • Olé Coltrane (1962)
  • Coltrane Plays The Blues (1962)
  • The Avant Garde (1966, with Don Cherry)
  • Bags & Trane (1961, with Milt Jackson)

These album reissues are on the calendar for August 11, and will be reissued as CD and vinyl LP sets.