You know that you're in the thick of the holiday buying season when the music industry starts rolling out the reissues and the remasters, faster than you can hum a few bars of "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town." In fact, nothing says Christmas quite like the ka-ching! of a fresh new batch of greatest hits and reissue packages.
And to think, it isn't even Thanksgiving yet.
In this week's fresh batch of new releases, what began as a trickle of such packages a few weeks ago, has now escalated to the point of the floodgates being thrown wide open. A trip to either your friendly neighborhood brick and mortar — or your favorite internet click and order — this week reveals a slew of new greatest-hits packages, as well as a few choice collections of rare or unreleased material from deep within the vaults.
Falling into the latter category would be this week's most interesting new entry, the intriguingly titled double-disc Gram Parsons Archive, Vol. 1. A convincing argument could be made (and probably won) that Parsons single-handedly invented the hybrid mix of country and rock that we nowadays refer to as "Americana," or even that he pioneered the sort of music commonly played on radio's modern day "Adult Alternative" format.
On this double album, two shows Parsons did with his original band The Flying Burrito Brothers, opening for the Grateful Dead — and reportedly taken from the taped concert vaults of the Dead themselves — are presented, in what has to be regarded as the sort of find that will have collectors licking their chops in anticipation.
Of the more traditional greatest-hits packages arriving this week, Van Morrison's Still On Top comes about as close to a complete single-disc retrospective as you are likely to get. As I noted in my original review, this one isn't perfect, but it does cover Van's career all the way from the sixties with Them to the present.
Other greatest-hits collections in stores this week include Nas Greatest Hits, from the man who once declared that Hip Hop Is Dead; as well as a "deluxe" (read: explicit) version of Dr. Dre's Chronicles: Death Row Classics. For "new country fans", Garth Brooks has The Ultimate Hits, while the traditionalists may prefer something like Merle Haggard's Legends of American Music: The Original Outlaw.
Sony Legacy has a new Stevie Ray Vaughn package titled Solos, Sessions & Encores, as well as new entries in its Essential double-disc series from Teddy Pendergrass and Lou Rawls.
This week's holiday-music releases are led by Rick Springfield's Christmas With You, which was the subject of a recent glowing review here by our own Connie Phillips, and the Captain And Tenille's (and I didn't know they were still recording either) The Secret of Christmas.
Finally, there are also a couple of interesting new releases that feature — believe it or not — actual new music. Rapper/hip hop producer Jay Z's American Gangster features nine new tracks directly inspired by the Russell Crowe/Denzel Washington film of the same name, though it should not considered as an actual soundtrack to the movie (the official soundtrack, not coincidentally, is also in stores this week).
David Byrne's The Knee Plays on the other hand, is an actual score — though to what, I'm not exactly sure — that features new music from the ex-Talking Head turned world music renaissance man.
Here are all of this week's new album releases courtesy of the folks at All Music Guide.
Angels & Airwaves
Son of Skip James
Modern Acoustic Blues
Hardcore Rap, East Coast Rap, Gangsta Rap, Pop-Rap
Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers
Gram Parsons Archive, Vol. 1
Country-Rock, Americana, Alternative Country-Rock, Folk-Rock
Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Vivaldi: Concerto per viola d'amore
The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu
Motion Sickness: Live Recordings
Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
The Ultimate Hits
New Traditionalist, Country-Pop, Contemporary Country
Urban, Contemporary R&B
The Knee Plays [Bonus DVD]
Original Score, Modern Composition
Captain & Tennille
The Secret of Christmas
B.A.R.S.: The Barry Adrian Reese Story
East Coast Rap, Pop-Rap
Neo-Psychedelia, Indie Rock
The Black & White Album
Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Rap, Experimental Rock
Chronicles: Death Row Classics [Deluxe]
Gangsta Rap, West Coast Rap, G-Funk
Alles Wieder Offen
Experimental, Experimental Rock
Five for Fighting
Back Country Live
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The Film Music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Vol. 2
Modern Film Music
Experimental Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock/Experimental
Legends of American Music: The Original Outlaw
Western Swing Revival, Bakersfield Sound, Honky Tonk, Traditional Country
Deep Soul, R&B, Soul, Soul-Blues, New Orleans R&B
His Name Is Alive
Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute to Marion Brown
High Two/Aum Fi.
Avant-Garde Jazz, Experimental Rock
Lucky the Man
British Folk, British Folk-Rock
Valentin Silvestrov: Symphony No. 6 [Hybrid SACD]
David Liebman/Roberto Tarenzi/Paolo Benedettini/Tony Arco
Dream of Nite
Post-Bop, Avant-Garde Jazz, Modern Creative
The Jewel in the Lotus
Post-Bop, Modal Music, Avant-Garde
Moby Grape '69
Folk-Rock, Psychedelic, Country-Rock
Truly Fine Citizen [Bonus Tracks]
Country-Rock, Blues-Rock, Psychedelic
Stoner Metal, Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Still on Top: The Greatest Hits
Album Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul, Pop/Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Rock & Roll, R&B
Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Hi-NRG
East Coast Rap, Hip-Hop
Nine Black Alps
Biber: Mystery Sonatas
Baroque Violin Sonatas
Karolju: Christmas Music from Rouse, Lutoslawski & Rodrigo
Modern & Contemporary Music for Christmas
Soundtracks, Southern Soul, Original Score, Neo-Soul
The Essential Teddy Pendergrass
Smooth Soul, Philly Soul, Soul, Quiet Storm
Upsetters 14 Dub Blackboard Jungle
Dub, Roots Reggae
The Pine Hill Haints
Alternative Country-Rock, Roots Rock, Rockabilly Revival
The Essential Lou Rawls
Pop-Soul, Vocal Jazz, Urban
The Struggle Continues
Post-Bop, Modern Creative
Sunshine Pop, Pop, Psychedelic Pop
60 Watt Kid
60 Watt Kid
Christmas with You
Art of Field Recording
Field Recordings, Traditional Folk, Bluegrass-Gospel, Bluegrass
Bullet Records Rhythm & Blues
Jump Blues, Electric Blues, Piano Blues, R&B
Richer Tradition: Country Blues and String Band Music 1923-1942
Prewar Blues, Early American Blues, Folk-Blues, String Bands, Prewar Country Blues, Country Blues, Acoustic Blues
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Solos, Sessions & Encores
Album Rock, Modern Electric Texas Blues, Texas Blues, Electric Texas Blues, Blues-Rock, Modern Electric Blues
Indie Rock, Indie Electronic