For The Holidays: Projekt’s CDs of Holiday Music Are Ethereal Delights

As Christmas begins to round the corner, it’s likely that some of you have already begun to spin holiday music choices. I know I have. And like many of you, I have favorites. Several of my all-time favorites are actually from the same label.

Between 1995 and 2001, Projekt Records released three richly curated Holiday sets, all known as Excelsis. The three volumes were sub-headed to distinguish themselves. Between the three sets are 38 songs, none of which can be properly classified. Many of the tracks found on these three volumes are re-imagined traditional classics, and some are  new compositions.

All the contributing artists are from the Dark Wave genre, moved along with great supportive effort from the Projekt label owner, Sam Rosenthal. And while the music is gothic in nature (as were many of the original old traditionals), they are surprisingly beautiful and completely memorable.

Volume One is sub-titled A Dark Noel. But do not be deterred by the title (if it would threaten to deter you), the music transcends all expectations of sound. On the first volume (issued in 1995), you’ll be treated to a stunning version of “Welcome Christmas” by Love Spirals Downward, which features the beautiful vocals of Suzanne Perry , This Ascension’s haunting “Carol Of The Bells”, the unmatched sounds of Lycia, with their unique rendition of “We Three Kings”,  Area’s incredible version of “O Come Emmanuel”, and a fantastic bar period piece by Faith and the Muse of “A Winter Wassail”.

Volume Two, sub-headed as A Winter’s Song, is filled with equally captivating music. Of the album’s fifteen tracks, my favorite stand-out is “In The Bleak Midwinter”. But the album is generously populated with other songs like Julia Kent’s string instrumental of “What Child Is This?”, Lycia’s “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, The Crüxshadows’ version of the Lennon classic, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, and Thanatos’ version of “Silent Night”.

Volume Three – a prelude – was a response to the popularity of the previous two releases, but only issued as a nine-track Maxi-CD. Nevertheless, it beautifully caps off a rare and memorable trilogy of sets that you may not have heard the contents of. It displays Lynn Canfield’s lovely “Edelweiss”, “Aspen Glow” by Lovespirals, Frolic’s enchanting “Angels We Have Heard On High”, and an alternate version of “Silver and Gold” (first heard on the second volume) by  Faith & Disease.

Of the three CDs, the first one is completely sold out in physical form. However, it can still be purchased digitally here in a ‘name your price’ offering (here). The others are still available (here, and here).

Please understand that you WILL be surprised by what you hear. I highly recommend all three volumes!

 

The Damned, Stiff Singles 1976-1977 7″ Vinyl Box In January

When the musical climate began to shift after 1975, The Damned were one of the few bands out in front of the trend. They released Damned Damned Damned in 1976 on Stiff Records, a growing influential label that also gave stage to Elvis Costello and a host of other popular rising talents. The debut album gave us “New Rose” followed by “Neat Neat Neat”. There was no doubt that a new style was coming and these mentioned singles were a strong forerunner of the genre of punk rock! Stiff Records ran its course after about ten years, ceasing operations in 1986. However, it lit the way for Ian Dury, Lene Lovich, Nick Lowe, The Pogues, Devo, and many others before shutting its doors.

The Damned released five singles (with B-sides) for Stiff Records in the UK before leaving the label. The first was the previously mentioned gem, “New Rose”, flip-sided by a non-album track, “Help”. Their second single, “Neat Neat Neat” helped push the single trend further with a flip side of two cuts, “Stab Your Back”, and “Singalonga Scabies”. If you still have those, then you’re quite the collector. But if you don’t, BMG along with Pledge Music, will release a Boxed set of 7″ vinyl singles with the original Stiff label. The Box is being called The Damned, Stiff Singles 1976-1977.  In addition to the vinyl singles, there will be a Damned embroidered patch.

The singles included are as follows:

Single1:

A – New Rose
B – Help

Single2:

A – Neat Neat Neat
B – Stab Your Back
B – SingalongaScabies

Single3:

A – Problem Child
B – You Take My Money

Single4:

A – Don’t Cry Wolf
B – One Way Love

Single5:

A – Stretcher Case Baby
B – Sick Of Being Sick

The Damned, Stiff Singles 1976-1977 Box is scheduled for January 26, 2018.

The Damned are currently recording a brand new album expected o be released in 2018 at some point!

 

New Echo & The Bunnymen Set, The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon, In 2018

In the ’80s, Echo & The Bunnymen provided their music in what I often call the richest vein in Rock history (1976-1985). Formed in 1978, with a first label issue in 1980 (Crocodiles), and their major label debut, the self-titled Echo & The Bunnymen, the band enjoyed hits like “The Pictures On My Wall” (1980), “A Promise” (1981), and sustaining well into the ’80s with hits like “Lips Like Sugar” (1987), and “The Game” (1987).  In fact, Rolling Stone Magazine’s oft consulted 500 Greatest Albums of All Time pegged the band’s second release, Heaven Up Here (1982) as important enough to be included.

Over time, Ian McCulloch would leave to a solo career, and the band would become a shell of itself. Nevertheless, things being what they are, McCulloch would come back with Will Sergeant, and briefly with Les Pattinson. Together, they would release What Are You Going To Do With Your Life? (1999), Flowers (2001), Siberia (2005), The Fountain (2009), and Meteorites (2014).

On May 18, 2018, core members McCulloch, and Sergeant, (as Echo & the Bunnymen) will release their next studio set, The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon. The new album will consist of Echo & The Bunnymen classics reformed and reimagined with strings. It’s an album that McCulloch says he had to do for himself. We just get lucky enough to join in. Additionally, there will be some new songs as well. All in all, here will be fifteen tracks (unknown at this point).

The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon will be released on CD, 2LP, DD, and Cassette. Extra bonuses include 2LP picture discs, if ordered though band’s online store.

 

New Simple Minds Album, Walk Between Worlds, In 2018

In 2014, Simple Minds revitalized interest in the band by releasing a new set of recordings that provided acoustic versions of their classic songs. It also helped that their 2014 studio set, Big Music, performed well. With that interest still high, it’s good to see the band plan a return to the studio realm with brand new music.

On February 2, BMG will release the 20th studio set by Simple Minds, which will be called Walk Between Worlds. The new album will feature eight new songs! (I’m so pleased to see a return to well thought out quality songs by releasing less tunes rather than cramming a CD with tracks because you can!)

Walk Between Worlds will be a somewhat different approach with half the album revisiting the sounds and styles of post-punk era dance-oriented songs, and other parts using orchestrations. I’m interested for he promise of this album.

Walk Between Worlds will be released on CD, Deluxe CD (with extra songs), DD, LP, and 2LP Deluxe. Here’s the breakdown:

The Deluxe CD, Deluxe DD, and Deluxe 2LP will provide three extra songs (a live version of “Dirty Old Town”, and studio tunes “Silent Kiss”, “Angel Underneath My Skin”.

 

Fleetwood Mac 1975 “White Album” To Be Expanded and Remastered

With the reissues of several Nicks/Buckingham-era classic albums, it was only a matter of time to get to the album that started that lineup. Their eponymous 1975 multi-platinum set that gave the world “Over My Head”, “Say You Love Me”, “Warm Ways”, and “Rhiannon” was ripe for the reissue pipeline. And while I personally love the pre-Buckingham/Nicks-era lineup better, I certainly do NOT hate this lineup.

On January 19, 2018, Rhino will release the next Fleetwood Mac reissue in several variations. Of course, the music here is newly remastered. But you will have choices with a single CD, (which features the primary album), a 2CD Expanded Edition that provides an additional four single edits on the first CD, and seventeen bonus pieces that show off the creative process of this album with embryonic early takes and versions, as well as a collection of live studio cuts.

There will be also be a Deluxe package that will deliver 3CDs, a DVD, and a vinyl LP of the original album. And a few things more for the avid Fleetwood Mac fan. This box provides the same two CDs as the Deluxe 2CD set, but will add in a CD of a collection of live tracks from three separate shows (Capitol Theatre – Passaic, NJ  10/17/1975; Jorgensen Auditorium – University of Connecticut Storrs, CT 10/25/1975; Campus Stadium – University of California 05/02/1976).

The included DVD for the Deluxe Box will contain high-quality Stereo (96kHz/24-bit) of the album’s original tracks as well as 5.1 Surround remixes. The 180g-weight black vinyl LP will be home to the original album tracks. All these will be housed in a 12″x 12″ embossed box (as seen below). The packed in book will provide photos, information and credits, memorabilia, new interview pieces, and new notes.

Several  early takes of popular songs from the album will be available individually as digital downloads or promo single streams (DD). Those are “Monday Morning (early take)” on 11/16/17, “Landslide (early version)” on 01/06/18, and “Say You Love Me (early version)” on 01/13/18.  Also, the CD and 2CD versions will be issued as DDs.

CD1 (Original Album, 2CD Expanded with 4 previously released bonus singles):
01. Monday Morning
02. Warm Ways
03. Blue Letter
04. Rhiannon
05. Over My Head
06. Crystal
07. Say You Love Me
08. Landslide
09. World Turning
10. Sugar Daddy
11. I’m So Afraid
12. Over My Head (Single Version)
13. Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win) [Single Version]
14. Say You Love Me (Single Version)
15. Blue Letter (Single Version)

CD2 (Bonus Selections):
01. Monday Morning (Early Take)
02. Warm Ways (Early Take)
03. Blue Letter (Early Take)
04. Rhiannon (Early Take)
05. Over My Head (Early Take)
06. Crystal (Early Version)
07. Say You Love Me (Early Version)
08. Landslide (Early Version)
09. World Turning (Early Version)
10. Sugar Daddy (Early Take)
11. I’m So Afraid (Early Version)
12. Over My Head (Live from The Burbank Studios, Burbank, CA, 1/26/76)
13. Rhiannon (Live from The Burbank Studios, Burbank, CA, 1/26/76)
14. Why (Live from The Burbank Studios, Burbank, CA, 1/26/76)
15. World Turning (Live from The Burbank Studios, Burbank, CA, 1/26/76)
16. Jam #2 (Remastered)
17. I’m So Afraid (Early Take Instrumental)

CD3 (Live Selections):
1. Get Like You Used To Be (Live at Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 10/17/75)
2. Station Man (Live at Jorgensen Auditorium, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 10/25/75)
3. Spare Me A Little (Live at Jorgensen Auditorium, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 10/25/75)
4. Rhiannon (Live at Jorgensen Auditorium, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 10/25/75)
5. Why (Live at Jorgensen Auditorium, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 10/25/75)
6. Landslide (Live at Jorgensen Auditorium, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 10/25/75)
7. Over My Head (Live at Campus Stadium, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 5/2/76)
8. I’m So Afraid (Live at Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 10/17/75)
9. Oh Well (Live at Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 10/17/75)
10. The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) [Live at Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 10/17/75]
11. World Turning (Live at Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 10/17/75)
12. Blue Letter (Live at Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 10/17/75)
13. Don’t Let Me Down Again (Live at Jorgensen Auditorium, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 10/25/
14. Hypnotized (Live at Jorgensen Auditorium, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 10/25/75)

DVD (96kHz/24-bit Stereo, 5.1 Surround Remixes):
01. Monday Morning (5.1 Surround Mix)
02. Monday Morning (5.1 Surround Mix)
03. Monday Morning (5.1 Surround Mix)
04. Rhiannon (5.1 Surround Mix)
05. Over My Head (5.1 Surround Mix)
06. Crystal (5.1 Surround Mix)
07. Say You Love Me (5.1 Surround Mix)
08. Landslide (5.1 Surround Mix)
09. World Turning (5.1 Surround Mix)
10. Sugar Daddy (5.1 Surround Mix)
11. I’m So Afraid (5.1 Surround Mix)
12. Monday Morning (24/96 Stereo Audio)
13. Warm Ways (24/96 Stereo Audio)
14. Blue Letter (24/96 Stereo Audio)
15. Rhiannon (24/96 Stereo Audio)
16. Over My Head (24/96 Stereo Audio)
17. Crystal (24/96 Stereo Audio)
18. Say You Love Me (24/96 Stereo Audio)
19. Landslide (24/96 Stereo Audio)
20. World Turning (24/96 Stereo Audio)
21. Sugar Daddy (24/96 Stereo Audio)
22. I’m So Afraid (24/96 Stereo Audio)
23. Over My Head (Single Version)
24. Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win) [Single Version]
25. Say You Love Me (Single Version)
26. Blue Letter (Single Version)

LP (Original Album)

30CD Wishbone Ash Box, The Vintage Years 1970-1991 Planned For 2018

Earlier this year, it was announced that Wishbone Ash has a massive Box set arriving “at some distant point”. Well, although that point is still not precisely known, we have been given the satisfactory ‘April of 2018’ date. And that works well enough for me.

The newly assembled box has a wealth of music from the band during their first sixteen albums including a lot of live music. As a fan of Live Dates, I have extreme hope that many of the unused songs collected from the shows will find themselves here. (I STILL advocate for the assembly and reissue of an EXPANDED and REMASTERED Live Dates album with ALL songs from ALL four shows, plus a rich booklet of bonuses, remembrances and memorabilia. It’s a project I’d crowdfund!)

The new Box – being released by Madfish (a division of Snapper Music) –  will be called The Vintage Years 1970-1991. It will house 30 CDs of classic Wishbone Ash including sixteen studio efforts through (I assume) Strange Affair, three live albums (both Live Dates and Live Dates II, and perhaps Live in Memphis), and 11 (!) CDs of previously unreleased live sets dating from 1973 through 1980. Also included will be a hard-bound 154 page book, a poster book, four reproduction posters, a “facsimilie MCA debut album promo pack”, a Japanese replica 7″ flexidisc, and signed photos of each band member. The BAD news is that there will ONLY be 2500 copies available for purchase worldwide.

According to Martin Turner, the pricing is yet to be announced, but the set will be available for pre-order on November 30 (2017). It won’t be cheap but then again, what definitive Boxed set is. It depends on your love for the band. For me, this is a must have. Unfortunately, there is also not an available track list of the bonus inclusions and the live sets. I assume these will materialize on November 30 along with the order link.

 

 

Sia To Issue A New Album Of Holiday Originals, Everyday Is Christmas

Well, the holidays are running toward us…or we to them (which all depends on your personal viewpoints, I guess). But holidays are certainly not as much fun without holiday music to accompany them. For many of us, the traditional songs done up by contemporary artists are pretty cool. But when you look back at some artists who have created solidly entrenched songs (like Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” , or Joni Mitchell’s “River”, you realize that originals can become traditional.

Every year, recording artists try hard to become one of the next to become immortalized. This year, we have a new attempt by Sia, who will release her holiday album with a collection of ten original songs. And although it’d have been nice to hear a singer like Sia make a traditional song her own, I’m still excited to get something from the singer.

Sia has released a single from Everyday Is Christmas. The single is “Santa’s Coming For Us” (watch and listen below).

Everyday Is Christmas arrives on November 17 via Atlantic Records.  If you visit Sia’s webstore (here), you have opportunity to purchase Everyday Is Chrismas with a variety of bonus-filled ways. There’s wrapping paper, Santa hats, ornaments, stockings, toppers, gloves, and scarves. Why, there’s even a Sia-inspired wig colored green and red. Or, of course, you can just get the CD.

If you want vinyl, Everyday Is Christmas will be released on December 15 in that format.

 

Midge Ure Reimagines Ultravox, Solo Songs In Orchestrated

The late ’70s and early ‘8os were a rich fertile ground for Rock and Roll when its greatest level of evolution occurred. Sounds were simplified, music was crafted in different ways than they were previously. And for fans, there were a wealth of great bands like Talking Heads, Buzzcocks, OMD, Joy Division, Tears For Fears, Simple Minds, Skafish, The Police, Elvis Costello, and hundreds more. One of the bands of the late ’70s was Ultravox!

Ultravox! released their first album for Island Records. For vocals, there was John Foxx. That incarnation was a post-punk styled sound that was exciting and quite listenable. This lineup lasted through the first three albums before Island dropped them for poor sales. (Yeah, it surprises me, too!). But after Foxx, along with Robin Simon, went on to other things, the remaining members refused to die. Instead, they brought in Midge Ure, the singer from Rich Kids, and Visage. Drawing interest from Chrysalis Records, Ultravox released Vienna, essentially remaking the band into something more powerful. And for five magnificent albums (Vienna – 1980, Rage In Eden – 1981, Quartet – 1982, Lament – 1984, U-Vox – 1986), the band thrived.

On December 1, Midge Ure will revisit some classic Ultravox songs – including “Vienna”, “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes”, “Hymn”, and “Lament”, and reimagine those songs in a uniquely orchestrated way. In addition, Midge Ure also revisits songs from his own solo works, songs that include “Breathe”, “If I Was”, “Fragile”, along with a brand new Midge Ure tune, “Ordinary Man”.

The new album is being called Orchestrated. It’s promised to be different than you might expect. Listen below to the provided track (“Breathe” for your personal assessment.

Thus far, this is a UK issue only.

OrchestratedMidge Ure

01. Hymn
02. Dancing with Tears in My Eyes
03. Breathe
04. Man of Two Worlds
05. If I Was
06. Vienna
07. The Voice
08. Ordinary Man
09. Death in the Afternoon
10. Lament
11. Reap the Wild Wind
12. Fragile

 

Gary Moore – Blues And Beyond On The Calendar For December

Gary Moore is one of few appreciated guitarists that have gone away from their original bands to make a name for themselves. For bands. Gary Moore was a part of Thin Lizzy (Black Rose – 1979), and Skid Row. But primarily, it was Gary Moore ha was doing it for Gary Moore! Over the span of some thirty-five years, Gary Moore created great music, releasing twenty-one albums and generating two solid FM hits with “Still Got The Blues”, “Parisienne Walkways” (with Phil Lynott), “After The War”, “Cold Day in Hell”, and “Out In The Fields” (with Phil Lynott) to name a few. Most of these hits were in the UK markets. But make no mistake. Gary Moore is STILL a world-wide treasure.

On December 8, Sanctuary Records/BMG will release a 2CD set, and a 180g-weight black vinyl 4LP set that compiles what is considered the cream of Gary’s fruitful and unrelenting career (mileage may vary among fans with other ideas). And for those who say that 2 CDs are impossible to honor such a career, well then, there will also be a more definitive 4CD Box made available as well.

The new set is being called  Blues and Beyond. The 2CD set as well as the 4LP set will provide 28 selected tracks. The 2CD collection will be contained in a digipak case. The 4LP package is being housed in a double gatefold  jacket.

The 4CD Box will be delivered with 2 CDs of newly mixed and mastered live concert recordings, all previously unreleased. That’s a count of fifteen performance tracks. Also included in the box is a currently unreleased biography of Gary Moore entitled I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow. Bonus to the Box will be a collection of physical memorabilia including a replica concert ticket, replica VIP wrist band, album launch event invite, and a replica AAA pass.

Blues And BeyondGary Moore

CD1:
01. Enough Of The Blues
02. Tell Me Woman
03. Stormy Monday
04. That’s Why I Play The Blues
05. Power Of The Blues
06. Ball And Chain
07. Looking Back
08. Surrender
09. Cold Black Night
10. There’s A Hole
11. Getaway Blues
12. We Want Love
13. Memory Pain
14. The Prophet

CD2:
01. You Upset Me Baby
02. Bring My Baby Back
03. I Can’t Quit You Baby
04. World Of Confusion
05. Picture Of The Moon
06. Can’t Find My Baby
07. Drowning In Tears
08. Evil
09. My Baby (She’s So Good To Me)
10. Ain’t Got You
11. Just Can’t Let You Go
12. How Many Lies
13. Torn Inside
14. Parisienne Walkways (Live)

CD3 (Blues And Beyond Live (previously unreleased) box set only):
01. Walking By Myself
02. Oh Pretty Woman
03. Need Your Love So Bad
04. Since I Met You Baby
05. Surrender
06. Cold Black Night
07. All Your Love
08. Still Got The Blues

CD4 (Blues And Beyond Live (previously unreleased) box set only):
01. Too Tired
02. The Sky Is Crying
03. Further On Up The Road
04. Fire
05. The Blues Is Alright
06. Enough Of The Blues (Alternative)
07. The Prophet

Glen Hansard To Release Third Album, Between Two Shores

Glen Hansard has a rich history of music that not everyone is aware of. A shame since his style is easy to listen to, catering to a wide body of listeners. With our introduction to Glen Hansard via The Frames for a satisfying run of original music, we became more enamored with Glen Hansard via his appearance in Once, a film that netted him an Oscar for the Best Original Song (“Falling Slowly”). Since that movie, we have enjoyed two classy solo efforts, Rhythm and Repose (2012), and Didn’t He Ramble (2015). Now, with an obvious itch to create more quickly, we get the announcement of his next set.

On January 19, Anti-Records (his consistent label) will release the singer/songwriter’s next set, Between Two Shores. The new album will offer ten new Hansard compositions, two of which can be currently heard on YouTube (embedded below, or streamed somewhere). And if the two songs have any indication of what the new album will bring, then fans are in for a gem from the folk singer.

Between Two Shores will be released on CD, DD, and vinyl LP (with download rights).