John Coltrane: Side Steps

RIYL: Red Garland, Sonny Rollins, Gene Ammons

If you’re looking for the soul-stirring genius of John Coltrane’s peak years, you’re not going to find it anywhere on Prestige’s five-disc box set, Side Steps. As an insight into Trane’s early development, however, this is exactly the place to start – and end – your search. The set chronicles the tenor legend’s brief period as a hired gun for established players like pianists Red Garland, Mal Waldron and Tad Dameron, fellow tenor player Gene Ammons (for whom Coltrane provided his services on alto instead), and even Sonny Rollins. No, none of those brilliant 1950s Miles Davis sessions for Prestige are here (Trane was a regular member of Miles’ band, as opposed to a freelancer), and as Miles had him under his regular employ, those recordings don’t fit the theme. But there’s plenty of prime hard bop to be enjoyed here, all recorded during the years 1956 and 1957, packaged with illuminating essays, detailed discographical information and plenty of photos. Newbies to Trane will want to start with his Atlantic Recordings, but working backwards from that point, Side Steps goes one further to complete his recorded history with class and style. (Prestige 2009)

John Coltrane MySpace


New Paul McCartney live CD/DVD on the way

Decades removed from their break up, the Beatles are possibly busier than they’ve ever been. Almost every day, an interesting bit of news surfaces with connection to the band. Earlier this week, Lucy Vodden, the underlying inspiration for “Lucky in the Sky with Diamonds,” passed away. Four days ago, an essay written by Paul McCartney when he was 10 about the Queen was unearthed. Of course, this news pales in comparison to The Beatles: Rock Band and the remasters of their entire catalog, which were released on September 9th. It looks like Beatlemania will never end and I couldn’t be happier.

On November 23rd, Paul McCartney will release a 2CD/1DVD package of his performances from earlier this year at New York’s Citi Field. Good Evening New York will highlight each night’s 33-song set filmed with 15 high-definition cameras.

A deluxe edition will feature an additional DVD featuring McCartney’s performance at the Ed Sullivan Theater. The live album will also be issued on vinyl.

The gigs, at which McCartney played songs by The Beatles and Wings, as well as selections from his solo back catalogue, took place on July 17, 18 and 21.

They were significant for McCartney as The Beatles played the venue in 1965 when it was known as Shea Stadium.

This will be McCartney’s second release on Hear Music, which is owned by Starbucks Corporation.


“The Beatles in Mono” box set getting more love than expected

Within a few years time, I’m sure there will be another influx of Beatles-related reissues, movies, documentaries, video games, etc. Right now, however, it all seems appropriate. Granted, I know hordes of individuals are making bank off the Beatles’ legacy, despite there being only two surviving members. It’s hard to even care though, considering the amazing music they left behind. It’s been a pure joy to watch this Beatles week on VH1. I know everything is tied together with the anticipation of The Beatles: Rock Band and the EMI remasters of their entire catalogue, but it seems fueled by a genuine excitement and gratitude for the music.

While those popular remasters will be in stereophonic sound, receiving less attention is “The Beatles in Mono” box set, which also hits street retailers on September 9th. EMI had originally planned to only release 10,000 copies of the box set for the U.S. market. Unsurprisingly, pre-orders shot through the roof and they’re going to expand that number.

This may be where The Beatles in Mono comes into its own. At first glance, it looks an extravagant frippery: a £240 11-CD box set, featuring perfect miniature reproductions of albums pristinely remastered in a sonic format rendered obsolete almost half a century ago. But until 1969, the Beatles were disinterested in stereo: they oversaw the mono mixes of their albums, then left the rest to George Martin. The box set can thus proudly claim to offer “the closest you can get to hearing the authentic sound of the Beatles”. On the later albums, that amounts to a handful of cosmetic differences: if it’s striking to hear Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds with added psychedelic phasing effects, it doesn’t radically alter your perception of the song. The early albums, however, are transformed.

Hardcore Beatles fans and audiophiles tend to favor the monophonic production of their first four albums over the stereophonic albums that followed. If you care to read more about the debate, check out this link. I have a record player and can notice slight differences in the production of the mono and stereo LPs. Nevertheless, you’ll need a receiver with a channel switcher to get an obvious presentation. If not, a good old pair of headphones will do when comparing both formats of a song.


Miles Davis recorded a lot of records

Apparently, the “Prince of Darkness” recorded 52 albums, and that was just for Columbia Records! Dude also made other albums for Prestige, Blue Note, and Warner Bros. Records. Nevertheless, the Columbia years were his creative peak. During that time, Davis released Kind of Blues and Bitches Brew, which not only classics of the jazz genre, but American music as a whole. On November 10th, Columbia and Legacy will release a ridiculous 71-disc box set entitled The Complete Columbia Album Collection. This Sisyphian task is guaranteed to consume at least a year of your life. To buy this, you must really love jazz — that goes without saying. Unfortunately, if you buy this set, with the innocent intention of listening to the entire thing, you must admit to yourself that you find Miles Davis more enticing than, say, earning a living.

The box will include (seriously) 70 CDs and one DVD, and somehow it’s that one DVD that makes the whole thing look like overkill.

The DVD is Live in Europe ’67, which will be on DVD for the first time ever with this set. The set will also include a previously unreleased live recording of Davis’s performance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

According to Legacy, the CDs will all come in “Japanese-styled mini LP jackets”, which sounds cool. The CDs will include bonus tracks that have been tacked on to Davis reissues over the years. There will also be a 250-page book.

Have at it if you must.


“Hope You Enjoy My New Box Set!”

The Barenaked Ladies thought they were being funny when, on their 1992 debut, Gordon, they sang these lines: “Maybe it’s a lack of inspiration that makes me stoop, or maybe it’s a lack of remuneration – I can’t recoup – but if you want it, folks, you got it: it’s all right here in my box set.” While the song, “Box Set,” might keep BNL from releasing a multi-disc career-spanning collection (mostly because they would never, ever hear the end of it), plenty of other artists have dipped into the vaults and put together compilations which mix their best-known material with heretofore-unheard tracks. In some cases, however, artists dispense of previously-released material altogether, cull together all the rarities they can find, and make it an affair strictly for the fans. All told, there are so many such releases in existence that we here at Bullz-Eye didn’t even try to do a formal “Best Ever Box Sets” list. Instead, the writers put together lists of their personal favorites, and we separated out the various-artists collections into their own separate list, just to make it a little less confusing. The musical genres are decidedly across the board, but with the holidays coming up, if you’ve got a friend or family member who’s a full-fledged music geek, we might just have a few ideas for you to consider as gifts.

Here’s an example…

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Live/1975-1985 (Columbia) “Ladies and gentlemen…Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band,” the calm voice of a faceless PA announcer breathes, as the opening piano notes of “Thunder Road” begin the incredible retrospective journey that is Live/1975-85. From intimate clubs like The Roxy in 1975, where Springsteen plays “Thunder Road” solo on a piano, to Meadowlands Arena in 1981 for a full-on band assault of “Cadillac Ranch” and “Candy’s Room” to the mega Born In The U.S.A. tour in 1985 and nearly every hit finding the LA Coliseum stage that year, Jon Landau mastered a beauty here. The Boss tells stories (“Growin’ Up”), opens his diary (“Because the Night”), and simply rocks out with the force of 100 men (“Born to Run”), all to wild applause of fans from coast to coast over a decade of non-stop touring. It’s a box set like no other: all live, all real, and with all albums (up to the release date) well represented. Covers of Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” are impeccably-done, if unexpected, nuggets that sound as fresh as any original. This was the perfect Christmas gift for a pimply-faced kid in working class America back in 1986 who would have otherwise had to work two weeks for enough money to buy a 3-album set, and it remains indispensable in 2007. – Red Rocker

…and here’s the rest of the piece.

Did we miss any of your favorites?


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