Review: Ram – Paul and Linda McCartney

Following up the multi-platinum release of McCartney (1970), Paul McCartney, who included Linda as a creator, issued RAM with several wonderful tracks that included the finger-pointing tune, “Too Many People”, and the breakthrough hit, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”.  “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, which clocked in at almost five minutes of pure audio perfection, was too difficult to edit because of its flow.  (“Too Many People” was a B-side to that hit.)

Needless to say, Ram set the stage for Paul McCartney, whose next album would come from a formed band, Wings.  RAM contained twelve songs, all of which showcased a Paul McCartney that needed to be, for all purposes, a talent of his own worth, quite separated from the Beatles.  RAM succeeded with its rich smorgasbord of songs.

The newly remastered album released for the series, the ambitious Paul McCartney Archive Collection, is wonderful to listen to.  And if it were not for the actual presence of the added bonuses of an extra disc of tracks, and a DVD, we would be happy all the same.

The second disc includes eight more tracks, all outtakes from RAM sessions.  On it you’ll will be rewarded with “Another Day”, and “Oh Woman, Oh Why” as well as a collection of new mix versions of songs.  The DVD contains Ramming, an 11-minute documentary of the making of RAM, several promo films that include “Heart of The Country”, “3 Legs”, and “Hey Diddle”, and a short film entitled “Eat At Home On Tour”.

RAM is a significant title in the Paul McCartney catalogue, so much so that it is consistently remembered not only by its two well-known tracks (“Too Many People”, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”), but also by its iconic cover with Paul holding the horns of a ram within a ’60s-based color outlay.

This new remastered re-release of RAM is an essential pick-up, regardless of which form you regain it as (there are single CD, 2CD, LP, and a massive Deluxe Edition with bound book packages for you to choose from).

Release Date: May 22, 2012

–Matt Rowe

Review: Strange Euphoria – Heart

Back in the ’70s, when two sisters formed a band called Heart and released their defining “Magic Man” single on the independent Mushroom Records label, they had no idea that the entire journey, thus far, would produce this aptly titled, career spanning Box called Strange Euphoria.

Ann, a vocalist extraordinaire, with her brilliant guitar playing sister, Nancy formed the basis of the band that became international stars on the strength of their songs and platinum selling albums over the years.  While their strongest periods were from the ’70s, and ’80s, they never gave up the ghost.

As there will be for immensely popular bands, there have been many ‘best of’ packages released for Heart over the years, including intimate Essential packages.  What makes Strange Euphoria a better package?  Because it is not a best-of package in the normal sense.  it is a complementary package that slots next to any Essential packages you may have.  Its collection is made up of quite a few demos that are quite wonderful to hear.

Strange Euphoria begins with a wide and satisfying collection of vault treasure demos that include a folkier “Magic Man”, preceded by the opening track of this box, the pre-Heart and folky “Through Eyes amp; Glass”, a proper song on loan from Ann Wilson amp; The Daybreaks (which should surprise fans of the rockier Heart).

The “Crazy On You” demo is even a refreshing thing to hear in place of its more popular studio cut.  Still, this box is rewarded with original studio cuts of songs to keep it interestingly a Heart career overview.  “These Dreams”, “Kick It Out”, “Little Queen”, and others go the distance, as they did during their fresh release dates.

In addition to the 51 tracks found on Strange Euphoria, 20 of which are previously unreleased (mostly demos and a few live cuts), the set adds in a 57-minute DVD that plays back a 1976 TV concert.  It’s great fun to watch, and worth more than several spins (I’ve watched it three times already).

The box is augmented by an obligatory book-sized document that covers ground by way of track-to-track commentary from both Nancy and Ann Wilson.  The 60-page book contains plenty of era-specific pictures, and memorabilia to make the package more attractive to dedicated Heart fans to whom this release is geared toward.

The “box” is a slip-cased, tri-fold CD wallet.  Strange Euphoria is essential material for those that are Heart fans.

Release Date: June 5, 2012

–Matt Rowe

Best Representative Works

There’s been a lot of ground covered on male/female greats in the not too distant past here on MusicTAP.  It has certainly brought out plenty of excellent observations and created streams of good  conversation.  and that’s the reason why TAP exists these days; to discuss what makes us love music the way we do.

I want to bridge generations.  It’s like we’re lost in a forest of wild growth that has sprung up since our music changed.  We hate change.  But for some reason, we were able to handle it over two decades well enough.


My questions for today are simpler.  Hopefully, I can get a bridged reaction but we shall see.

The question for today is this:  choosing any female or male artist, which are the most definitive albums from them?  Example:  I think that Patti Smith is incredibly important to Rock and Roll.  I probably wouldn’t get too much argument from many if I were to say that Horses was her definitive album.  It is the one album that brought in a huge array of fans.  However, artistically, that changes from album to album.  While I agree that Horses is the most accessible, (some would say it’s Easter), I find Radio Ethiopia the most artistically representative.

Patti, by then had found an audience, allowing her to provide what she wanted rather than a selected set.  After Radio Ethiopia, her attempt to legitimize her music existence by the release of Easter proves that she had forces at work to create a Pop/Rock persona.

Patti’s new one, Banga, offers a different Patti Smith as she borrows heavily from all of her past albums to create a hybrid of the full Smith Experience.

Patti Smith is but one.  I have many.  Hopefully, we can explore more than a few in the coming weeks as we center in on this discussion (if it takes off).

TAPSheet: Release Notes – 06/08/2012

AAO Music plans the release of Mack The Knife by Bobby Darin, scheduling for July 24.

Just a week later, AAO Music will bring out Memories by Connie Francis on July 31.

Emotional Syphon will release a self-titled album from Fear And The Nervous System on July 24.

Fuel Records plan the issue of The Super Taylors featuring Johnny Taylor and Ted Taylor on August 14.

Rhymesayers Records plan the release of Skelethon from Aesop Rock on July 10.

S-Curve Records will release The Soul Sessions, Volume II from Joss Stone on July 31.

Universal Republic etches vinyl LP for The Midsummer Stations by Owl City for August 14, Palindrome Hunches by Neil Halstead on August 28, and Circles Around The Sun by Dispatch planned for August 21.

Audio Nest will release Love Stories & Other Musings from Candlebox on vinyl LP on August 14.

Nuclear Blast America plans the release of At The Gate of Sethu by Nile on July 3.

Spark Seeker by Matisyahu is scheduled for July 17 on CD, LP, and DD on Spunk Records.

A 4CD set of Pisces Iscariot from Smashing Pumpkins is planned for reissue on July 17.

Kirtland Records will release Beautiful Friction from Fixx on July 17.

Red will release One Lovely Day by Citizen Cope on July 17.

Sony Music and Legacy Recordings will release Live At Berkeley featuring Jimi Hendrix on July 10.  It will be released alongside another Legacy issues, the DVD and BD formats of Jimi Plays Berkeley, also scheduled for July 10.

Rip Cat Records issues a new Blasters album by the Alvin-less band called Fun On A Saturday Night.  It’s scheduled for July 3.

Baroque Folk Records will release Someday by Susanna Hoffs on July 17.

RCA and Legacy plan the release of I Am An Elvis Fan by Elvis Presley on July 31.

I still haven’t heard much about that reissue of Hot August Night by Neil Diamond coming from Geffen Records on July 10.  But I will say this:  I’m hoping that it’s an opening volley for a potential reissue remaster and expanded campaign of Neil Diamond‘s Uni/MCA releases including but not limited to Moods.   Note to Legacy: Feel free to do the same with Neil’s catalog that Columbia owns including (but not limited to) Serenade.

Come back on Monday for a full slate of TAP stuff.

Review: Analog Man – Joe Walsh

I was immensely surprised to hear that Joe Walsh, he of James Gang, Barnstorm, and Eagles fame, would be releasing a new solo effort some 20 years after his last, Songs For A Dying Planet.

The new album, Analog Man, begins with the album’s title track with Joe’s familiar style.  On it, he sings about the good old analog sound versus the digital sound.  But he isn’t on a rant.  Far from it.  But he does state his mind clearly enough.  It’s good old Joe in great form.

Walsh visits several levels of Rock, a little country, and his “Life’s Been Good” biographical edge with the latest single, “Lucky That Way”.

“Lucky That Way” is, to put it simply, excellent Walsh.  It’s pop/rock at its finest.  It also holds its own in the Walsh singles catalog.

Another treat is the revisiting of James Gang classic, “Funk #49” with “Funk 50”, further letting us know that Joe Walsh can still bring it when called upon to do so.

There’s not a bad song on the album, not one.  He hits the heavy sound (but never with the same heft that “Rocky Mountain Way” carries), he tinges with country, he butters with Pop.

And still I have to ask, “Joe, how do you do it ’cause you do it with such style and grace.”  But he’ll just “shake his head and smile, look (me) in the eye, and tell me that “I’m just lucky that way”.

Classic Walsh!

Release Date: June 5, 2012

–Matt Rowe

Review: The Wall (Experience Edition) – Pink Floyd

By the time of The Wall, the Roger Waters machine was in full motion.  Fueled by the previous successes of The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, and Animals, this double LP set formed an ambitious rock opera that elevated the Pink Floyd machinery further.  Its arrival during a time of great Rock and Roll upheaval with Punk making statements everywhere and New Wave gaining ground seemed to help stabilize the kind of Rock that Pink Floyd (and other bands of the ’70s) created.

This latest update of the Pink Floyd catalog, much more ambitious than ever before, placed high emphasis on the entire Pink Floyd package.  The recreation of the collective sets to provide stylized new remasters and packaging exclusives reached into the Pink Floyd machine and broke new ground with the addition of demos and glossy booklets.

On the new remaster for the Experience Edition of The Wall (2012), the music is shiny, demanding, and representative, and wonderful.  But we expected that.

The packaging and musical treasures found on disc three make for a more compelling reason to pick up this (or one of the more illustrious editions available).  Some of the tracks on the Work In Progress disc are wonderful to have.  “The Doctor”, which soon became “Comfortably Numb”, as well as all of the beginnings of much of The Wall including songs that never made the cut.

The 28-page glossy stock booklet contains the lyrics written in the same font found on the original album.  The spirit of the album is found in the artistic display of the booklet.  The CDs are housed in a digipak with wallet-styled casing.  My favorite?  “Mother.” It wraps up the entire fear of the government in a set of frightening words that hold as true today as the day they were presented on The Wall.

Personally, I have felt The Wall to be a bit too much.  If it were a single LP of songs, the album would have been beyond perfect.  Still, there are many tracks that complete this magnificent story of corruption and fear.  Waters lyrical observations meet his musical compositions head-on and result in (as they always have) statements of importance.  Waters can see things.  His gift lies in his ability to make a great song that tells his thoughts, often matching our own.

The band possessed the gift to be musically in touch with Waters, even if The Final Cut (which I liked) wasn’t up to the par that we were accustomed to from Pink Floyd and left the band with an unsatisfying swansong from such an important band.

I’m not sure that anything can get better than these reissues.


Release Date: February 28, 2012

–Matt Rowe

Trying To Roll Away The Stone…

Having brought up a nice conversation about our state of music nowadays vs the stars that were abundant in the past, I thought that we could go in several directions further.

We talked about great female artists, and great male artists.  Many of us selected, not surprisingly, artists from the past.  Some of them are still working today.  And while we did have some commentary regarding today’s artists, they were mostly Pop artists, which, have always been blessed with a multitude of fans.

If one can say where this generation does NOT differ from prior generations, it is in the Pop market.  There, the market always seem to do quite well, with many artists selling into the millions of copies.  Even Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey have sold millions of units of their releases.

Where the divide occurs is with bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Beatles.  These bands also sold into the millions of units although not as much as one would expect given the heft and familiarity of the name.

Of course, especially with this crowd, we can go to the lesser extent and still have bands that sold quite well for their music.  The Faces, Rush, Depeche Mode, Thin Lizzy, Paul McCartney, (and Lennon, Harrison, and Starr) sold well.

To even lesser extent, bands like Can, Wishbone Ash, Magazine, The Buzzcocks, and on and on sold moderately number and still sustained a loyal fanbase, enough to continue recording.

Springboarding from the recent three articles, I’m hoping that readers can supply me with new names of bands and artists that have gained stature not unlike the previously mentioned bands.  With the proliferation of excellent music being created today, there MUST be some band that some of you find great enough to follow over time.

For me, there is Heartless Bastards.  From their first album, on through their most recent release, Arrow (2012), I have anxiously anticipated the next album.  I rank them each according to their own quality of tracks.  I have gotten clothing with their name emblazoned on the front.  I have tickets to their next show in OC (at The Observatory).  In short, I love this band as much as I did ELP, Faces, The Who, Wishbone Ash, and so on.  And I have others that I relish in the same way, Black Mountain being one of them, Boxer Rebellion being another, Florence Welch yet another.  I sorely miss the music of The Music, The Libertines, Babyshambles, Black Keys, and The BlacK Angels, all Y2k bands.

On a lesser note, I have an infatuation with White Hinterland, with Casey Dienel.  Since I first heard “Icarus” on It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, I have been hooked, listening to the song often.

And so, yes, we can have a relationship with artists.  My concern is that collectively, we generally do not have infatuations with too many of the same.  Therefore, we see so much less of bands that carry the weight of say, a Rolling Stones (not necessarily the same kind of music, just the promise of such greatness).

Is it our fault that Rock music rarely have bands and artists outside the Pop market carry such musical weight, no matter how brief?  I think so.  And if that suspicion is correct, then how is it repaired to make things matter?

While I likely answered my own question, I would love to know, who, in this stage of Rock, that you wait for and adore the music of?  Band?  Artist?

Please don’t tell me that we have grown out of this behavior!  I don’t want to believe it.

TAPSheet: Release Notes – 06/01/2012 – US Report

Island Records plan the release of In Dub, Volume One featuring Bob Marley & The Wailers, planned for CD release on July 17.

Eagle Rock will issue Live at Montreux featuring Etta James on CD , scheduled for July 24.

Show Dog/Universal will release an as yet untitled new album by Jesse James with an anticipated date of September 11.

Eagle Rock Entertainment has scheduled Blues Don`t Change from Peter Green Splinter Group for July 24.

Roadrunner Records will release Hatful of Hollow by The Smiths on ,180g vinyl LP for July 31.  Also on July 31, Sire Recods will release a vinyl LP version of What We Saw From The Cheap Seats by Regina Spektor.

Elektra planAtlantics to reissue Reinventing The Steel from Pantera on 180g vinyl LP, while Official Live, and The Great Southern Trendkill also make it out on 180g-weight vinyl, same date.

Atlantic Records will release the self-titled album from Milo Greene on both CD and vinyl LP, both planned for July 17.

Other Atlantic Records releases include a CD of Dusty In Memphis featuring Dusty Springfield.

Flashback Records will re-release Welcome To My Nightmare from Alice Cooper in a low-cost barebones set.

Warner Brothers plan to re-release the Record Store exclusive release by The Flaming Lips called Heady Fwends, now scheduled for June 26.

And finally, Epic Records and the great folks over at Legacy Recordings will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of BAD, the best-selling classic that yielded many singles, by Michael Jackson.  The 3CD/1DVD 25th Anniversary Box will be released in September, on the 18th.

[Note:  This was punched out using a not so friendly netbook.  I have packed the PC away and am now wondering if I should get it back out.  This is not the best way, for sure.]

Where Are All Of Our Heroes?

We have talked at considerable length about our love and respect for both male and female performers/singers/songwriters.  For many years these talents have filled us with songs, thrilling performances, and flashy showmanship.

The years prior to the New Millennium gave us much.  But since then the wealth of memorable and enduring talent seems to have disappeared.  Has it?

With the proliferation of recorded music, much of it without gatekeeper labels, (who aren’t very good gatekeepers anymore), we are literally overrun with musicians that we will never hear.

I’m not talking about Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, or Lady GaGa.  Nor am I talking about Kanye West, Cee Lo Green, or Li’l Wayne.

And yes, there are marginal talents (marginal because their audience is still limited, not because of any talent scaling downward).  Talents like Florence Welch , Casey Dienel of White Hinterland, and Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards can capture imagination. 

The big question here is will any one of them, or countless others ever gain the stature of a Joni Mitchell, a Joan Baez, a Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gate?  Will any of the New Millennium singers replicate the respect of a Bruce Springsteen?  A Bob Dylan?  Will a Carly Simon-like talent ever emerge again?

I’m not so sure anymore.

Your thoughts?

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I just wanted to pop in here and apologize for my lack of posts, which all now have to be produced on a netbook from here until Jan/Feb of 2013.  The reason for this is that the TAP clan have decided to sell the old OC (CA)-based homestead to return to the Land of Lincoln, where I grew up.

Our children have splintered, moving to MN and TX, and, while IL has been in the picture over the last couple of years, now seemed like as good a time as any to undergo the move.

So what does this have to do with the sporadic posts?  Well, I’m in the prep mode, which means that not only is the Real Estate agent draining my bank account to make the house more attractive to sell, I’m also packing everything. Not fun.

But we’re nearly done.  We do have a few more weeks to do it before it lists though.  And it really sucks.  I packed all of my stereo equipment away and so that really isn’t too much fun.

I will keep TAP in as readable a mode as I can over the next few weeks.  I have the final segment of our Male/Female Greats article being prepared for Wednesday so be sure to come back for that.

Again, I apologize.  Hope all is well with everyone in the Merry old land of TAP.