The probationary period continues and for the second consecutive week, we have a list packed with great new releases heading to stores today.
Reckoning (Deluxe Edition)
R.E.M. continues their re-issue campaign with this deluxe edition of their second album, Reckoning. They follow the pattern established with the re-issue of Murmur last fall by pairing the remastered album with a live show from the album's corresponding tour. With Murmur, we got a 1983 show from Toronto. For Reckoning, we get a 1984 show from Chicago that was recorded for broadcast. This Chicago set is notable because we get to hear early runs at songs that would later appear on Fables of the Reconstruction and Lifes Rich Pageant.
The live set is the main attraction here. For some fans, this is a chance to hear the band as they remember them from their earliest days. For others, this is a history lesson and a chance to trace the progression of these early days for the old IRS label to the superstardom that was to come. Some listeners will hate the remastering. It's probably a fair bet that if you hated the Murmur remaster, you'll hate the sound for Reckoning as well. I found the Murmur remaster a mixed bag. There are aspects of the music that were unmurked and clarified, but an awful lot of loudness and compression were added.
Some are a little disappointed that bonus tracks that have appeared on import versions of the album haven't been added to either Murmur or Reckoning. There's room to do it, so it's disappointing that they didn't but the vintage live show is attractive enough to make this a must have. Besides, I still haven't found my harborcoat and I can't go outside without it.
Pyromania (Deluxe Edition)
Adrenalize (Deluxe Edition)
With these twin releases, Def Leppard's three most commercially successful albums have been given the deluxe treatment (Hysteria got the expanded treatment in conjunction with its 25th anniversary). Hear me now, world: I'm excited about the Def Leppard deluxe sets and I'm not afraid to admit it.
The Pyromania deluxe is the better of the two and not just because Pyromania is the superior album. The Pyro deluxe adds a second disc containing a live show at the L.A. Forum from the 1983 tour in support of the album. This is a chance to go back in time and hear the twin guitars of Steve Clark and Phil Collen, to hear Rick Allen before his accident, to hear Joe Elliott back when he could (presumably) hit the high notes. Unlike the R.E.M. recent remasters, I have some hope for Pyromania. For one thing, Robert John "Mutt Lange" was a lot more attentive to sonic detail when the album was recorded the first time. Second, I actually like the Hysteria remaster. I don't know for a fact yet that the same personnel were used for both but I'm hoping so.
As for Adrenalize, we don't get a show from the '7-Day Weekend' tour on our bonus disc. Instead, we get some b-sides, random live tracks, and covers. Some fans will have collected this when the album was initially released. For the rest of us, we'll be hearing some of this for the first time. It's not as cool as the Pyromania set, but there will be some worthwhile material here. Adrenalize is also not half the album Pyromania was and I'm willing to bet some of this material won't have aged as well, either. Some of Adrenalize will hold up, though.
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
I know what you're thinking, and… oh, hell, what's the point? I consider myself a casual Dream Theater fan. I love the musicianship. I don't always love the vocals. The lyrics tend to hit me somewhere in between. These guys are frighteningly skilled as musicians, though. I saw them live in 1994 and I still remember Mike Portnoy's drum solo. It's almost sickening to behold.
With that in mind, your friends from Dream Theater have cooked up something cool for their latest album. There is a 3-CD Special Edition of this record. The first disc is the album. Disc 2 is a collection of six covers. Disc 3 is an instrumental mix of Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Oh, I think we might have to have one of those. That's really cool.
I can't tell you how many hours I spent listening to Shawn Colvin's A Few Small Repairs when it first came out. For most people who remember this record at all, they remember "Sunny Came Home" (a line from said song gave the album its name). My introduction to the album was "Get Out Of This House." It was the time of Lilith Fair and there were so many great female singer/songwriters and artists flourishing at that time. While No Doubt and Alanis Morisette sold more, Shawn Colvin's thoughtful storytelling and great voice were much more my speed. Oh, God, the memories of this record. Talk about an album that needs to be re-issued in Deluxe form!
Colvin has continued to work and release great material since Repairs, and returns this week with a new live album and she's playing songs from across her great career. This is necessary.
Blogcritics writer extraordinare Clayton Perry has interviewed two artists behind a couple of our new releases. Ziggy Marley served as executive producer of the set B is for Bob, a collection of Bob Marley songs re-imagined for children and Clayton recently discussed that project with him. Clayton also has an interview with Ginuine, whose new album is called A Man's Thoughts.
Another of our great music writers, Mark Saleski, has already written about the new Regina Spektor album, Far, in his weekly Friday Morning Listen column.
A Man's Thoughts
The Mars Volta
Back & Fourth
Old Crows/Young Cardinals
The Guilty Office
In Living Cover
Chase Long Beach
Gravity Is What You Make It
3614 Jackson Highway
Climax Blues Band
Back to Back: Sense of Direction/Stamp Album [Bonus Tracks]
Al Cohn/Joe Newman/Freddie Green
Mosaic Select: Al Cohn, Joe Newman & Freddie Green
Born on Flag Day
Adrenalize [Deluxe Edition]
Pyromania [Deluxe Edition]
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman
Eryn Non Dae
Fast Life Youngstaz
Bach: Goldberg Variations
Person to Person
David Frizzell/Shelly West
The Very Best of David Frizzell & Shelly West
Bach: Solo Cantatas
Future of the Left
Travels with Myself and Another
Girls at Our Best
Carving out the Eyes of God
God Help the Girl
God Help the Girl
Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps [Stefan Goldmann Edit]
Hot Buttered Soul [Bonus Tracks]
Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)
Every 1's a Winner
Hold Back My Heart
Chopin: Piano Works [Hybrid SACD]
Love Is All
Forever: The Complete Motown Albums, Vol. 1
Life Death Love and Freedom [Deluxe Tour Edition] [CD/DVD]
Away We Go
Maria João Pires
I Love You, Beth Cooper
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen [Original Soundtrack]
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs [Score]
Reckoning [Deluxe Edition]
The Sa-Ra Creative Partners
Nuclear Evolution: The Age of Love
Lost in My Dream: An Anthology 1968-1974
Al B. Sure!
Honey I'm Home
Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs
A Casual Affair: The Best of Tonic
Beacons of Ancestorship