David Bowie: Station to Station (Special/Deluxe Editions)


RIYL: David Bowie, cocaine

Bowie’s 1976 album Station to Station is one of his many masterpieces. It also serves as proof that one can not only function, but excel, on nothing but cocaine, milk and hot peppers, which was Bowie’s alleged diet at the time. One suspects the recording sessions for Station to Station would be legendary if anyone could remember them. The classic rumor being that Bowie was so high during the time that the entire year is blacked out from his memory.

Even with all the craziness that surrounds the record, Station to Station has kind of fallen to the wayside since its original release, eclipsed by both the Berlin trilogy (Low, “Heroes” and The Lodger) and his magnum opus of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). However, now it’s getting another chance in the limelight with a new special edition to commemorate…well nothing, aside from how awesome it is.

The new remaster is excellent, and does not fall prey to the Loudness Wars. Every snare is crisp and bass line clear. And thank God, because all six tracks on Station to Station are undeniable classics. The surreal imagery of the title track and ode to a heroin nightmare that is “TVC15”; the genuine love/lust of “Stay” and darkly comic “love” of “Golden Years”; the heartfelt balladeering of “Wild Is the Wind” and “Word on a Wing.” It’s all classic, it all sounds great, and it’s all a must-have.

If you already own Station To Station and need more than a new transfer in order to be persuaded to make a repurchase, the special edition reissue also includes an entire live concert from the Nassau Colosseum in 1976. If Bowie really was doped out of his brain during the late ’70s, it didn’t seem to affect his ability to perform here. He’s on fire at this show, and is probably the second-best Bowie live recording next to the Live at Santa Monica ’72 album. It alone more than justifies the double-dip.

But if you really want to justify the double-dip (and have 150-some bucks to spend), then go nuts and get the deluxe edition. This thing is insane. Not only does it include the remastered edition of the album and the concert on both CD and vinyl, but it also includes an entirely different master of the album from 1985 (which, in all honestly, sounds pretty much identical to the new remaster) and another CD with the single edits of every song on the album, save “Wild Is The Wind.” There’s also another disc, a DVD this time, that features even more mixes of the album, some in surround sound. All that goodness is packed in an beautiful box that includes new linear notes by Cameron Crowe, extensive information about the album itself, reproduced press and fan club materials and much, much more. Pretty much the only thing it’s missing is a bag of blow. (EMI 2010)

David Bowie MySpace Page

  

Iggy and the Stooges to unload ‘Raw Power’ box set

Iggy and the Stooges

To the delight of many, Iggy and the Stooges were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. Of course, the album that garnered the band its adoration over time was Raw Power, originally released in 1973. It’s one of those albums that deserves to be done up with nice packaging and coveted rarities. Like Iggy and the Stooges’ Hall induction, a decent reissue for their best album is long overdue, but at least Sony is going all out to make sure the buyer gets their bang for their buck.

From Pitchfork.com:

On April 13, Columbia/Legacy will release Raw Power: Legacy Edition. Two weeks later, on April 27, they’ll follow it up with the even more deluxe Deluxe Edition.

The Legacy Edition will include a remastered version of the original album, featuring David Bowie’s original mix, on its first disc. The second disc, titled Georgia Peaches, includes a complete recording of a heavily bootlegged Atlanta live show from 1973– with two previously unreleased bonus tracks to boot: the studio outtake “Doojiman” and a studio rehearsal performance of “Head On”. It’ll also include a 24-page booklet with essays about the band and introductions from surviving members.

All that stuff will also show up in the Deluxe Edition. Both discs will share space with a third disc, Rarities, Outtakes, & Alternates From the Raw Power Era, which will include eight tracks from different sources (five of them previously unreleased). The fourth disc is a 30-minute documentary DVD called The Making of Raw Power.

And yeah, there’s more. You’ll also get a reproduction of a rare Japanese picture sleeve 7″ single of “Raw Power” and “Search and Destroy”, five 5×7 photo prints, and a 7″ softcover booklet with an essay by Henry Rollins and testimonials from prominent folks like Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Tom Morello, and others. Before the April 27 release date, the box will be available exclusively through the Stooges’ website. Stooges nerds, start saving your money.

I feel like I need to wait 30 years before buying an album — when it arrives with all the frills. It will take just take patience and incredible thriftiness.

  

Elvis Presley: Elvis 75 – Good Rockin’ Tonight


RIYL: 1950s rockabilly, 1960s pop, 1970s country, rock history in general

In honor of Elvis’ 75th birthday – we won’t get into whether he is “the late Elvis” or still rockin’ in the wilds of Michigan – Legacy’s issuing a bunch of records, this one being first up and coinciding with a Graceland bash. In a word, it’s great stuff, a career-spanning retrospective that covers the gamut of the good, bad and ugly from rock’s first real icon, its undisputed King. Elvis diehards probably have most of the 100 tracks spanning the almost 25 years of his recorded career, from the 1953 “My Happiness” demo to Moody Blue tracks; probably only the most manic completists among longtime fans will nibble at this.

For the rest of us, however, it puts Presley’s work in context: There’s no denying the power of Young Elvis, who had an incredible combination of talent, charisma, and the stones to fuse music from black R&B records, gospel, redneck bluegrass, and loud guitars. When he walked into the Memphis Sun Studios and hooked up with label impresario Sam Phillips in 1954 to put down his brilliant first sides, he was just a singer who loved all the music he heard from both sides of the tracks and just didn’t particularly care what people would think if he did. Maybe I’m alone in this opinion, but I believe that all the stuff that came after – the politics, the goofy Graceland stuff, the Army, the movies, the drugs, the Comeback, stuffing his sweaty and overweight frame into sequined Vegas costumes, and finally, the overdose, were not of his doing but caused by external forces he endured, albeit willingly at times. The early songs still sound fresh and crisp: “Mystery Train,” “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “Jailhouse Rock.” A powderkeg of testosterone and unbridled joy. Rock, undistilled. Then comes the ballads, the country, the gospel stuff…the brutal “Suspicion.” It’s all here, along with the 2002 techno remix of “A Little Less Conversation.”

Listening to this end to end, it’s bizarre to hear Elvis’ transformation from the white-hot beginning to the dying embers of a career when he finally ingested that deadly cocktail of prescription drugs. At first, he synthesized all these at-the-time disparate musical influences to create such musical magic. By the mid-1970s, however, he was clinging desperately to country, sounding like a second-rate Hank Jr. knockoff at best (who himself was a poor Xerox of his daddy). Elvis ended up the ghost of his 1950s and early-’60s heyday, barely recognizable and subject to all the ridicule that’s followed his 1977 death. The moral of the story? Elvis wasn’t larger than life; he was just another rock star, human after all. But just like the NFL has good quarterbacks and bad, as far as rock stars go, Elvis was no Kyle Orton; he was Brett Favre, the greatest statistical player – unstoppable at first but maybe should have called it quits before his career turned into a circus. If you’ve never dug Elvis seriously, check out this box. There’s a lot more going on here than Jay Leno punch lines. When he was on top of his game, he wrote rock history with a gorgeously powerful voice and a beguiling smile. This box remembers that part, best. (Sony/Legacy, 2009).

  

Medeski, Martin and Wood: Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set


RIYL: Fusion jazz, jambands, Bernie Worrell, Galactic

If you are sick of the state of the music business, if you need some new music that sounds truly new, if FM radio bores you to tears and even the blog-rock CDs showing up on every music site’s “best of” list lets you down because it all sounds like half-practiced, overproduced slacker junk played by snotty people you wouldn’t invite to parties at your place…please go and buy this box set. The culmination of the two-year Radiolarians project, The Evolutionary Set is the career pinnacle of MMW, jazz-rocking experimentalists who are neither jazz nor rock, but “avant-groove.” Kind of an thinking-fan’s instrumental Phish, this trio started with an idea in 2007: Write some proto-jams, briefly rehearse them, take them on tour, develop them live, and then record the finished project. It spawned three ridiculously tight, sometimes funky, sometimes rockin’, sometimes ambient-noodling numbers that sound like nothing you’ve heard. It doesn’t hurt that these guys not only have played together almost two decades, but that they’re exceptional players. The box set includes the three Radiolarians albums, a double-vinyl set, a DVD documentary, a remixes disc, and a live album. It’s intelligent jazz, it’s primitive rock. It’s funky stuff. It’s an updated 2009 version of the strangely beautiful Miles Davis period that included the records On The Corner and A Tribute to Jack Johnson. It’s everything indie music’s all about, and while the major labels and commercial radio won’t touch this stuff, you should. (Indirecto Records, 2009)

Medeski Martin and Wood MySpace page

  

The scoop on Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s SuperHighway Tour

Perhaps the greatest reward an older artist can have is the satisfaction of knowing a massive representation of their work is available for all to experience. Some musicians quit their bands or go on hiatus, only to reunite for all the wrong reasons. Others simply slap together one or several predictable compilations. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will never succumb to this level of triviality. The band has been together since 1976, constantly touring and recording. In watching them perform at last year’s Super Bowl, it’s obvious how important they are to American music.

Over the years, the band has created an impressive catalogue of studio albums, but their live act also continues to earn heaps of praise. On November 24, Reprise Records will unveil The Live Anthology, a 4-disc box set (also available for download) containing 48 tracks compiled by Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, and Ryan Ulyate from three decades worth of live material. The package also looks spectacular, featuring artwork from Shepard Fairey, who recently designed the “HOPE” poster for Obama’s presidential campaign.

Come November 22, Best Buy will have the honor of exclusively selling the deluxe version in the U.S. In addition to the standard package, buyers will receive an extra disc of live material, two previously unavailable DVDs, a Blu-ray disc featuring all 62 songs in pristine 96K 24-bit audio, and a seven LP vinyl box set of 51 tracks. Damn.

Still, retrospectives the size of Smart cars are nothing new. Tom Petty knows this, so instead of simply treating his fans to a delectable live package, his team created a one-of-a-kind sensation to up to the ante. It’s called the SuperHighway Tour, an online experience that augments The Live Anthology. By purchasing a “ticket” to the SuperHighway Tour, fans can access commentary, vintage photos, and a virtual merchandise booth, all the while surfing through its visually stunning website.

Here’s how the label describes it:

Fans will also be able to share their photos and stories from their favorite Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers shows. Then on the album’s November 24 release, ticketholders will receive the remaining 24 tracks on The Live Anthology, thereby completing the digital album.

Access to the Superhighway Tour will be available to fans that purchase “tickets” from Ticketmaster.com or through the Superhighway Tour box office.

Tickets for the entire 8-week Superhighway Tour are on sale now through Ticketmaster.com and TomPettySuperHighwayTour.com. The price of a Superhighway Tour ticket includes all 48 The Live Anthology digital tracks plus the 8-week online experience for $24.98 without any additional service fees. Downloads will be available in 256kbps MP3 or FLAC formats – fan’s choice.

A FREE PREVIEW of the SuperHighway Tour is now available at http://www.tompettysuperhighwaytour.com and includes a FREE DOWNLOAD of a track from the 1981 run of shows at Los Angeles’ Forum.

The release of The Live Anthology comes on the heels of two sold out tours, the Grammy winning documentary Runnin’ Down A Dream (directed by Peter Bogdanovich), and a headline performance at the Super Bowl XLII halftime show. Now, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – one of rock and roll’s greatest touring bands – will mark their unparalleled string of success with the release of this landmark collection of live recordings that is unlike anything previously available – the band’s story told through the music alone.

The producers made no fixes or overdubs, letting the newly mixed original recordings showcase the invention, spontaneity, craft, and the musicianship that has made Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers among the most celebrated live performers of their time. Along with powerful interpretations of their own classic hits and originals, The Live Anthology features the band tackling some of their best-loved cover material, from classics to obscure beauties to unexpected adaptations. The theme from Goldfinger, the Zombies’ “I Want You Back Again,” the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil,” early Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well,” Booker T. and the MGs’ “Green Onions,” James Brown’s “Good, Good Lovin'” and many more. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers travel wide, paying their musical debts through song and showing just how confidently the band moves across genres and over time.

It’s like going to a concert and avoiding the long lines, body odor, and drunken idiots. Seriously though, this is an innovative idea — one that guarantees weeks of staring at your computer and rocking out like you’re actually in attendance.

  

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