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Weekend Reissue Roundup

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Fine Young Cannibals: Finest (1996)   Ennio Morricone: Morricone Kill: Spaghetti Western Magic from the Maestro (2005)   Aretha Franklin: Jazz Moods: 'Round Midnight (2005)   Bob Weir & Ratdog: Evening Moods (2000)

Artist, title (label, release date), 1-5 stars

Fine Young Cannibals: The Finest (Rhino, April 19, 2005) ****
Ennio Morricone: Morricone Kill: Spaghetti Western Magic from the Maestro (El, April 19, 2005) ****
Aretha Franklin: Jazz Moods: ‘Round Midnight (Sony, April 19, 2005) ****
Bob Weir & Ratdog: Evening Moods (Rhino, April 19, 2005) ***

There’s a great abundance of noteworthy reissues this week. The Wounded Bird label gives some long hard-to-find albums a fresh release, among them Playmates and 78 In The Shade, both lesser-regarded efforts recorded during a late 70’s revival of the Small Faces; two lesser-regarded early 80’s albums from Poco, Ghost Town and Inomorata; Mott The Hoople, Mad Shadows, and Wildlife, Mott the Hoople’s lesser-regarded first three albums; and Yeah!, Motor City Connection, and School Punks, the peak output of Brownsville Station. None are essential listening for casual fans, but collectors and hardcore fans will appreciate these.

Other albums and artists returning to circulation include two new Sony collections, Pete Seeger, The Essential Pete Seeger (Sony) and Dion, The Essential Dion. Reissues of older albums include Abominog [Bonus Tracks] and Head First [Bonus Tracks] from Uriah Heep (Sanctuary), all four albums from 70’s punk band and forefathers of oi, Sham 69 (Captain Oi!), the 46-track Legend! from Townes Van Zandt, and Side Three and Starting Over from the Raspberries (RPM UK). The Sony collections are sensibly chosen and meaty; the Uriah Heep albums were from an early 80’s renaissance for the band, Sham 69’s thuggish, fascist brand of punk won’t interest many in America, but document a time and place. The Raspberries’ discs are their last two, and are among the building blocks of power-pop. Van Zandt’s doesn’t span his whole career, but it’s good listening.

Among the other picks this week:

Fine Young Cannibals: The Finest
Fine Young Cannibals: Finest (1996)

This is a Rhino Records reissue of a compilation originally released on MCA in 1996. Fine Young Cannibals were formed by guitarist Dave Cox and bassist David Steele when ska revivalists The English Beat split into two, with vocalists Ranking Roger and Dave Wakelin forming General Public. Fronted by singer Roland Gift, Fine Young Cannibals recorded precisely two albums, the second of which reached #1 in 1989. They have done nothing since then, save for a 1996 track recorded specifically for this compilation, but never officially “broke up”. Included here are the trio of major hits from their big album, The Raw And The Cooked: “She Drives Me Crazy” (#1 Billboard), “Good Thing” (#1), and “Don’t Look Back” (#11). Also included are the semi-hits from their 1985 debut, “Suspicious Minds” and “Johnny Come Home”. A couple of then-unreleased tracks are thrown in, too. A more economic choice than getting both of their albums, but just barely.

Ennio Morricone: Morricone Kill: Spaghetti Western Magic from the Maestro
Ennio Morricone: Morricone Kill: Spaghetti Western Magic from the Maestro (2005)
Since the master of the spaghetti-western film soundtrack has close to five hundred scores under his belt, collecting Morricone is a lifetime prospect. For the sane dabbler, who is looking for more of that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly-type sound, this collects selections from the lion’s share of his very best known soundtracks, including My Name Is Nobody, For A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, Duck You Sucker, and others known only to hardcore devotees of the Spaghetti Western film genre. Not represented is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. At 18 tracks, most in the 2-minute or less range, this is an easy to digest sampler.

Aretha Franklin: Jazz Moods: ‘Round Midnight
Aretha Franklin: Jazz Moods: 'Round Midnight (2005)
Sony has released a number of new configurations of a variety of performers as part of their Jazz Moods series. Also in shops this week are Jazz Moods collections from Louis Armstrong, Esther Phillips, and Stanley Turrentine. Aretha Franklin is not primarily known for jazz; all of her major hits were firmly soul shouters or R&B workouts. Still, from 1962 to 1969 she cut a number of recordings as a jazz vocalist, here collected on one disc. Among familiar titles are “Misty”, “What A Difference A Day Makes”, and “God Bless The Child”. While none of this is as distinguished as the work of the people she covers, it’s still pretty well done, and her familiar voice lends these songs new character. Don’t let the title mislead; there is no version of the Thelonious Monk classic “‘Round Midnight” here.

Bob Weir & Ratdog: Evening Moods
Bob Weir & Ratdog: Evening Moods (2000)
Rhino reissue of an album originally released on Arista in 2000. Ratdog had been on the road for 5 years without any kind of album release at all, so this was long anticipated by fans when it was released. This is a good album, but it’s also never arresting the way Weir’s work with the Grateful Dead was. That said, the ten original folk/country/blues/jazz tunes here, all clocking in the 5-10 minute range, allow plenty of room for the band to stretch out, and they do; bassist Rob Wasserman in particular shines here. If you tuned out of the Dead’s world when Garcia died, this is a likeable set. If you’re a Weir fanatic, you already have this stuff. Jam band fans might want to check it out. But it is hardly essential.

uao’s Weekend Reissue Roundup appears late Friday night/early Saturday AM every week.

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