Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Hello to anyone out there reading. I wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope 2011 brings you many good things.

"Another Year Over and A New One Just Begun. Lets Hope its a Good One Without any Fear." -John Lennon

Happy New Year 2011

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"The Concert for New York City" - Various Artists

Back in, I believe November or December 2001 after the World Trade Center attacks Paul McCartney organized this massive benefit concert featuring some of the best musicians of all time. I watched the nearly all day long TV coverage of the event on VH1 which I video taped. The actual concert was nearly eight hours long in its original live showing but it was very life affirming and uplifting to see all these Firefighters and Police Officers in the middle of all this sadness, celebrating life.

This double disc CD does capture that feeling but not as well as the film version. This CD captures basically a majority of the music performers but no double disc collection could capture all the music as each performer did three or more songs. Overall I prefer the original live coverage because it kept all the unplanned events in there. The DVD of the concert has been edited down and feels far too slick for me. I bought this CD and I have not listened to it since 2001 or 2002. I am happy that my money went to the Robin Hood Relied Fund though. The album is more a historical document that helps me to remember a moment in history when Rock and Roll saved some people's world and helped ease their pain.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

John Denver - "Rocky Mountain Christmas"

Since this will probably be my last post before Christmas I wanted to break my alphabetical rhythm and write about one of my favorite Christmas Albums.

John Denver's "Rocky Mountain Christmas" was originally released in 1975 in conjunction with a TV special of the same name, sadly the TV film has yet to be released on DVD. The majority of the album consists of familiar Christmas Classics rearranged by Denver, including "The Christmas Song" and "Silver Bells." There are also some unfamiliar picks like the wonderful "Aspenglow" and "Christmas for Cowboys" as well as the true oddity on the disc "Please Daddy Don't Get Drunk this Christmas."

Denver's acoustic arrangements add warmth to the songs and the whole album brings out the feel of snowy mountains and sitting around the fireplace with a Christmas Tree. The CD reissue, part of Legacy Records Essential Holiday Classics series, includes excellent liner notes about the recording of the album. If you download the album (which is more expensive than buying the physical CD) you get three more tracks "The Music is You," "Perhaps Love (shortened version, I believe without Placido Domingo)" and "Dreamland Express." This is a wonderful Christmas album that will bring out the spirit of the season, even if you are not a fan of Denver's music this is a fine addition to anyone's Christmas Collection. Merry Christmas Everyone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Phil Collins - "Both Sides"

Several years ago someone who was very special to me gave me this CD. It is not the best CD but I have sentimental value attached to it.

I think it was intended to be some kind of concept album as the title track speaks of urban decay and problems on the streets. The rest of the album, however, focuses on Collins' usual love songs and relationship ideals. It is uncertain if the concept is about two sides to relationships or what, but the concept is vague and does not come through.

That being said the album is focused pop music with hooks and is pleasing to the ears if not super memorable. I just looked on Amazon and it seems the album has been relegated to download only and is not being printed as a physical copy anymore. I'm going to hold on to my copy for my sentimental reasons.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Phil Collins - "No Jacket Required"

Phil Collins biggest solo album, which firmly established him as one of the most popular musicians of the 1980s and gave him fame outside the successful group Genesis, of which he was lead singer and drummer.

Released in 1985 and winner of the Album of the Year Grammy award, this album is firmly planted in the 1980s yet it is still incredibly entertaining. The use of synthesizers and electronic music puts the album firmly in the 80s style but Collins was at the height of his pop abilities at that time and the songs are extremely catchy. The album sticks in your head and you can't help but tapping your foot or singing along.

I know it is slick hook infused pop that really doesn't have any bigger picture than sounding good and selling records but it is a really fun album that has four of Collins' biggest hits "Sussudio," "Don't Lose My Number," "One More Night" and "Take Me Home." Hey sometimes we all need a little pop and fun music to keep us going and this one is mine. If you are looking for an excellent album of 1980s pop here is one and if you are a fan of Phil Collins this is one of his finest moments.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Johnny Clegg & Savuka - "The Very Best of"

I first heard Johnny Clegg when one of my good friend's boyfriends used to make her mixed CDs of feel good music. One of them included some Johnny Clegg music and I was instantly caught by the sound. Clegg is a white South African, his band Savuka are all black South Africans. This group recorded Four successful albums not only in Africa but they also gained popularity in Europe and the United States in the late 1980s early 90s.

Their music is essentially American Pop music infused with African rhythms, words and instruments, think Paul Simon's "Graceland" album. Clegg though infuses many of the lyrics with strong political commentary about the South African government of the time. So while it is catchy and danceable it also has a deep message.

This 17 track compilation collects songs from their four albums and showcases the group at their best. Mixing political tunes like "One (Hu)' Man, One Vote" with excellent pop like "I Call your Name" and their biggest hit "Dela." This album is actually all most listeners will need of the group, it showcases them excellently.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood - "Live From Madison Square Garden"

Starting in the year 2000 Eric Clapton began teaming up or reuniting with musicians left and right. He Recorded albums with B.B. King and J.J. Cale, he did live performances with Jeff Beck, John Mayer and Wyclef Jean. He even reunited with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker for a Cream reunion tour. And so here we have it a reunion of Clapton and Steve Winwood the two major players of the short lived supergroup Blind Faith. The pair reunited after nearly 40 years of separation to do a series of concerts from which this double live album was culled.

This is an interesting album because not only is this the closest anyone has come to a Blind Faith Live Album, it also largely abandons the most popular songs by either artist. Clapton's biggest hits like "Layla" and "Wonderful Tonight" are absent as are Winwood's "Higher Love" and "Back in the High Life." This is not a bad thing, it actually allows to pair to show off their musical talent much more. The album features Blind Faith's entire album (minus "Sea of Joy" for some unknown reason) then there are a bunch of Traffic songs and finally there are a lot of covers, which are given fine renditions. This is one of Clapton's better live albums and Winwood's first non-Traffic live recording. As with most Clapton live recordings there is no banter with the audience and aside from the applause you would not know there is an audience. There are no liner notes, which is disappointing, the CD booklet contains a few pictures from the concert. But this no frills approach is probably designed to make you purchase the same name DVD Documentary that explains more about the shows.

Winwood is in Strong voice and he plays the keyboards and acoustic guitar wonderfully. Clapton also sound excited about performing as he pulls out a number of strong guitar solos. Many of the songs here do not appear on Clapton's other live albums so this is the only place to find them. If you are a fan of Blind Faith, Traffic and/or the two artists this is a very good live recording.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eric Clapton & Friends - "Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert"

This live album culled from the January 1973 concert that returned Clapton to performing and the public eye. After the 1971 break up of Derek and the Dominos, his finest band, Clapton went into exile. He locked himself in his house for two years and basically went on long drug binges and recorded music. Pete Townshend organized this concert at the Rainbow Theatre in an effort to remove Clapton from the destructive cycle he had entered. Townshend organized an all star back up band which included himself, the Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood, Steve Winwood and most of the band Traffic.

Recorded live by the legendary Glyn Johns this album was originally released as a meager unimpressive six song album. Thankfully when released on CD they added eight songs from the original concert recordings which expanded the album to over an hour of music and a much better document of the concert as well as a much better listen. The band is ragged, with only ten days of rehearsal, but they are filled with energy. The performances are full blooded and Clapton proves his exile did not effect his playing as he tears through his hits and sings with passion. If you are a fan of Clapton's work this is one of his better albums with great liner notes and great sound. Clapton has released so many live recordings in his career that it is hard to choose which one to get, this is one of his better live albums but not his best.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Eric Clapton - "The Cream of Clapton"

This is the first Eric Clapton CD I ever owned; my grandparents bought it for me at I think a store called something like SunCoast. As I would come to find after purchasing this compilation and then listening to other Clapton albums, he actually was best on individual songs. With the exception of the "Layla" album and arguably his first couple solo albums; Clapton has a mass of excellent songs but a large amount of just average albums. That is why this compilation is nearly perfect, not only does it focus on Clapton's most successful years it also gives the hits from the different groups Clapton performed with not only solo work.

There are five Cream tracks, basically the most famous songs the band recorded in their short career. There is "Presence of the Lord" the only Clapton composition on Blind Faith's only album. Two cuts from the "Layla" album including the classic title track. And finishing off with eleven of Clapton's biggest solo hits including, "Wonderful Tonight," "I Shot the Sheriff" and "After Midnight." Sure there are missing later hits like "Tears in Heaven" and "Change the World," but why carp? If you are a listener who wants more Clapton than is presented here but is unwilling to search through his individual albums the double disc compilation "Complete Clapton" may be more your style.

This one though is pretty hard to beat all his best songs, several pages of liner notes from Clapton biographer Ray Coleman and a number of old pictures from the years. All in all an excellent compilation for an excellent artist

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chicago - "Chicago [II]"

The group once known as Chicago Transit Authority shortened its name to Chicago, to avoid legal issues with the real Chicago Transportation department. This self titled album, often referred to as "Chicago II," improves upon the high points of the group's first album and creates their finest album. Chicago continues to create exciting pop/rock that is fused with Jazz sensibilities.

This album, originally a double LP now on one CD, contains some very ambitious music including the six song "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" and the five song "It Better End Soon movement." There is again the fine combination of Jazz like instrumentals and rocking pop songs. The album contains some of Chicago's biggest early hits including the excellent "Make Me Smile," "Colour My World," "25 or 6 to 4" and "Where do We Go From Here." Basically if you enjoyed the "Chicago Transit Authority" album you will enjoy this one. The CD reissue, while the album seems a little long since it is not broken up by the various sides of the LP, contains excellent liner notes that include archival photos and great sound quality. Overall this is really the best of Chicago's early work.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chicago Transit Authority [Chicago] - "Chicago Transit Authority"

For their first album, the group that would become known as Chicago made a very good fusion of jazz and rock. The group's name was originally Chicago Transit Authority but had to change their name to just Chicago shortly after the release of this album due to a possible lawsuit from the actual CTA office.

Though the band would eventually become very famous singing late 70s and 1980s style love/power ballads it is easy to forget that they were originally gained fame as a pretty rocking band. They were also one of, if not the only, band to successfully integrate a constant horn and woodwind section into their popular sound.

While I enjoy their second album a little more, this is a very strong debut with the excellent "Does Anybody Really Know what Time it is?" "Beginnings" and "South California Purples." The guitar playing from the late Terry Kath is excellent, though the track"Free Form Guitar" could have been far more interesting instead of just being rhythmic feedback. There are a number of strong instrumental jams particularly "Introduction," "Liberation" and "Poem 58." The CD reissue feature great sound and an excellent 14 page booklet that feature old photos as well as liner notes by Rolling Stone magazine writer David Wild. Overall the interplay between all the instruments is awesome; some of the jam sessions get a little long and the group's desire to make big statements becomes a little much, but for those who like the 1970s style jam fusion groups like Santana and Mahavishnu Orchestra you may want to check this out. And like Chicago says "this is only the beginning."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tracy Chapman - "Crossroads"

Tracy Chapman's second album is very similar in tone and style to her first. The album is made up of confessional and observational singer/songwriter type songs. Much of the music again focuses on acoustic guitars and Chapman's excellent voice. The major difference is that the songs here are far less open and they don't draw the listener in like the first album did.

There are a number of excellent songs here but they are not as catchy as the songs on the first album were. The excellent songs include the powerhouse "Freedom Now," about Nelson Mandela and is definitely the best song here. Also wonderful tunes are "Bridges," "Be Careful of My Heart" and "All that you have is your Soul." The rest of the album is a little too closed off to really connect to. It is a strong album that gains from multiple listens as you can examine Chapman's lyrics, but it is a difficult album to get into. I often find myself only playing the five best songs on the album. But this is still a decent companion to Chapman's debut album.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tracy Chapman - "Tracy Chapman"

I bought this album from Tower Records somewhere around the year 2001. I kept hearing the song "Fast Car" on the radio and thought it was awesome and in reading glowing reviews of this album I decided to buy it.

Tracy Chapman's eponymous debut did not disappoint. A true singer/songwriter album and it was definitely a throwback to the 1960s and 70s style of music when it was released. In 1988 the era of dance music, hair metal, and lots of effects and big sounds this was an oddity but it caught the ear of many listeners making it an unexpected big hit. There is the hit single "Fast Car" a quiet heartbreaking tale of someone who just can't get out from under the mud of life. But every song is a winner on this album produced very simply with Chapman on acoustic guitar and vocals. Some songs feature piano and drums but overall the only instruments are an acoustic guitar and Chapman's deep textured strong and beautiful voice. Other notable tracks include the excellent "Talkin' Bout a Revolution" and "Baby Can I Hold you," but like I said earlier every track is strong. The songs focus on often dark subjects but the album is consistently appealing and the honesty of the whole enterprise keeps me coming back to this album. A great debut.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cecilio & Kapono - "Lifetime Party 30 Years of Firends"

Even though Cecilio & Kapono had been disbanded for almost 20 years, excluding a number of brief reunions over the years, they decided to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their meeting and first album in 2003. C&K staged a series of concerts at Kapono's waterfront restaurant from which this live compilation, as well as its second volume, was culled. Of the two volumes this is by far the better one with a better song choice and better performances.

This contains thirteen tracks 10 of the duo's biggest hits and three new songs. As for the new tracks "Gather Round" is a "GoodTimes Together" style nostalgia song by Cecilio. Kapono provides an one of his best songs with "Too Many Lovers" both are very good and would turn up in studio versions on C&K's 2009 album "Back in the Day." The third new song is a cover of Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song" which goes on for ten minutes of too much audience sing-a-long.

This release is really for the fans who have followed C&K over the years and also serves as a souvenir of their 30th anniversary concert series. The live versions are very good and several include extended musical jams that warrant a listen. The insert contains a number of archival photographs of C&K over the years all in a fold-out poster format. Overall this is not really necessary but is a nice addition for fans who own all of C&K's studio albums or who own the two "Journey" compilations.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cecilio & Kapono - "The Journey Continues"

So after a week break to pay tribute to John Lennon's 70th birthday we are back to alphabetical order.
Here is the second half of Cecilio & Kapono's excellent best of compilation. The first installment "Journey through the Years" contained basically all their biggest hits but everything that was missing from the first disc is definitely included here. Between the two compilations C&K's entire landmark first album is included and almost their entire second album. While this does focus a little more on the "Night Music" album whose songs are a little lesser than their first two albums. Overall, though, this is a fine continuation of the first compilation. The liner notes include another historical essay by John Steel. These two compilations are really all that is needed for fans of C&K. "Journey Through the Years" and "The Journey Continues" are two of the finest compilations to be created for a Hawaiian Music Artist or Group.

Friday, October 8, 2010

John Lennon - "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band"

Since tomorrow Oct. 9th, would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday I am breaking the sequence of my loosen the key blog to honor him. But next week we shall return to the alphabetical order that has been going on.

When I was in high school I was incredibly interested in John Lennon, I still have an interest in him it is just not as dominating. I used to have shirts with his picture and sayings like "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance." I found him mesmerizing in a way and just researched him and listened to his music.

His first solo album "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band," excluding the sound experiments of "Unfinished Music," is a brutal confessional album focusing on all the feelings that Lennon was experiencing at the time, including loss, anger, insecurity, bitterness, love and hope. The album is incredibly demanding as it does not bend to the listener, Lennon wants to talk about these things and if you do not want to listen you should buy a different record. When he sings, "I was the Dreamweaver and Now I'm Reborn, I was the Walrus but now I'm just John, The Dream is Over," its a truly moving statement that is heartbreaking. While there is a bleakness to the album, Lennon wraps some simple yet melodic music around his lyrics. I connected with this album in High School because I knew what "Isolation" felt like, and "Love" but also losing dreams and "Look at me What am I supposed to be?" I was feeling those emotions and the confessional feel of the album connected. He also brought some hope on the horizon with songs like "Hold On" and "Love" which I also identified with.

As with all Lennon solo albums, with the exception of "Double Fantasy," some of the songs seem unfinished or simply demos but here it adds to the feel of the album. It is not a perfect recording, the screaming at the end of some songs gets overbearing, the CD reissue also adds two singles to the end of the album seemingly to balance the bleakness. This album brought Lennon from the heights of Beatle power to a regular person who happened to being feeling the same way that many of us everyday people felt. That is the power of the album it explores universal emotions in a simple confessional way. This album is not for everyone as it may be too demanding for some listeners, but it is something special from a very special musician.

So for what would be your 70th birthday I write this review to you John Lennon. You were stolen from us but thank you for the music that you made, as it connected us. I hope you are somewhere hanging with George and jamming with Elvis. Happy Birthday John.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cecilio & Kapono - "Journey Through the Years"

I bought this CD at Tower Records in 2002 or 2003, Cecilio & Kapono (C&K for short) were doing a couple of reunion concerts at Kapono's restaurant at Aloha Tower Marketplace. I knew C&K were immensely popular in the 1970s but they had been broken up for most of the 1980s and all of the 1990s. I knew a few of their songs, "Friends" and "Goodtimes Together," I was real interested in their music at that point as there was a lot of hoopla about their reunion so I got this compilation. I listened to it and thought everything was great.

Their island folk/rock/pop combination is excellent and it is easy to see why they were such a huge hit in 1970s Hawaii. Their songs are catchy, easy, and make the listener feel good. This compilation produced by Cord International and Hana Ola Records is also excellently packaged, it includes 13 of their best songs as well as three songs that were only released as singles in 1977 and not available on any other album. There is also detailed liner notes which chronicle C&K's history together. One of the best compilations ever put together in Hawaiian Music. If you are even remotely interested in C&K's music this is the album for you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Brothers Cazimero - "The Best of the Brothers Cazimero"

The Brothers Cazimero are the most continuously successful Hawaiian music group, they have released a steady line of popular and critically acclaimed albums through their 30 years in the music business. They have released nearly 40 albums in their career and they show no signs of stopping.

This entry is a little of a cheat, the group made three "Best of" compilations and I picked my favorite songs and made my own 21 track compilation. The original three albums are all excellent compilations (the first one, pictured to the left, is the best) but I knew I only wanted certain songs so I borrowed the three and made my own compilation.

The three compilations are well made, as is par with Hawaiian Music there are really no liner notes. They are well selected and well packaged. My advice if you don't want all the tracks use your iTunes and make your favorites playlist.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bu La'ia - "False Crack???"

Back in the 1995 Bu La'ia (Boo La E ah) was a massively popular comedian from Hawaii. He gained a large amount of local fame for about three or four years with his fizzy hair and blacked out front tooth. He also always wore a black t-shirt and board shorts (swim trunks made for surfing) and slippers (flip flops). He is best known for performing comedy in the Hawaii pidgin/English dialect. His comedy routines often focused on the differences between caucasians and local (particularly Hawaiian) people. He starred in a low budget Hawaii cable show and released this his first comedy album.

A lot of the album focuses on parody songs in which Bu makes up new lyrics to well known songs such as, "Sweet Home Waimanalo," "Day Old, Day Old Poi" and "B-R-A Bu Rap Attack." Most of the tracks are rather witty if sometimes a bit crude. The material is funny but most likely will only appeal to Hawaii locals as many of the slang phrases used will probably only be understood by locals.

I got this album as a gift one year when I was in elementary school. It was the album to have in 1995 I think almost everyone in my class got this album. Its still very funny but I don't really listen to it anymore but it is good to have kind of a time capsule to my youth. I think that is what albums should be.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Jimmy Buffett - "Songs you Know by Heart"

In recent years Jimmy Buffett has come to be known more for his Island Style clothing line, his humorous books with Pigs as main characters, his restaurant chain and his continuous concert tours than for his music.

Buffett actually only had one big hit with the song "Margaritaville," but he has a number of very good songs which have earned him a rather large and rabid fan base that have dubbed themselves "parrot heads."

At his best Buffett makes easy listening folk rock with an tropical feel and at his best his lyrics are imaginative and witty and give you the feel of lying in a hammock on the beach. Buffett is a bit of a goof-ball though and sometimes his songs get rather silly as he sings about getting drunk and chewing bubble gum. Yet overall he has written a number of simple yet enjoyable songs.

This compilation really showcases Buffett's best work which earned him his loyal following. This is the compilation for the casual listener who is interested by Buffett's sound but is not really a diehard fan. This contains his classics songs. He has written some other good ones but this is the pick of the lot. He has heartfelt singer-songwriter style songs "He Went to Paris" and "A Pirate Looks at 40," his witty and fun songs "Fins" and "Volcano" as well as his silly songs "Why Don't we Get Drunk" and "Pencil Thin Mustache." This compilation is much better than his later one title "Meet Me in Margaritaville" because on that double disc his reworks a number of his most popular songs so they are not the hit versions anymore. Buffett's music provides a great way to ease away your troubles and enjoy some drinks on the beach. See you all in Margaritaville!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Buffalo Springfield - "Last Time Around"

The group's final album. By the time it was released they had already broken up and the whole band was not present for most of the tracks. In fact the cover picture is very telling, the first four members (Stephen Stills leading the group) are in perfect line all looking in one direction and then Neil Young is turned away looking in a different direction. This is very telling considering he left the group after performing on only two and a half songs.

This is actually my favorite of Buffalo Springfield's three albums. Stephen Stills' songs in particular are quite excellent "Pretty Girl Why," "Four Days Gone" and "Special Care." He also has "Questions" which sounds slightly unfinished but would eventually turn into the hit song "Carry On" for CSNY. "Uno Mundo" is one of Stills' catchiest songs and is the beginning of the latin rock that he would later explore with Manassas. Young's two contributions as songwriter "On the Way Home" and "I am a Child" would become more popular in solo versions but they are two of his best songs. Jim Messina provides "Carefree Country Day" which is in the same country/pop that would later popularize Loggins and Messina's work. Richie Furay provides several darkly textured songs, the best of which being "Kind Woman."

I like this album the best because all the members have grown into their own. They have found the musical ground that they want to cover. I also think Messina, who also produced the album, is an excellent producer and his talents bring out the best in each song which makes the album sound better than the other two records. This is an often over looked album that is actually quite a gem.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Buffalo Springfield - "Again"

For the group's second album, which I picked up recently with their other two albums, they have lessened the number of songs and made a more concise and more rewarding album. The album does not have an instant classic like "For What its Worth" but almost every track here is very good, "Mr. Soul," "Bluebird," "Hung Upside Down" and "Broken Arrow" to name a few. The group continues with the same rock/country sound that was on their debut album but they are refining and growing as musicians. All the songs feel like album tracks, though they are all equally good but none are a smash classic. Most consider this to be the best of their three albums, I personally like "Last Time Around" the best, but this is a good Buffalo Springfield album not really essential to a listeners music collection but still a good listen.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Buffalo Springfield - "Buffalo Springfield"

I bought this album a few months ago. I was considering getting the single disc retrospective for $13 but I found I could get all three of Buffalo Springfield's albums for $20, so I did that instead. This short lived group that spawned a number of far better groups (CSN, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Loggins & Messina to name a few) were never big hit makers but they did write a number of very good songs.

This album does contain their one and only hit in Stephen Stills' now classic "For What its Worth." But the majority of the album is quite good and written entirely by Stills and Neil Young. The album is strongly influenced by country music but is definitely is the beginnings of country/rock, with a greater focus on rock and pop. The music here is not as great as the individual members would later record but these are the seeds of a great musical tree that was beginning to grow. Other stand out songs include "Go and Say Goodbye," "Sit Down I think I Love you" and "Out of my Mind."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blindsight - "Gift Horse"

Sorry I don't have an image for this one. This CD was made in 2000 by a guy that I knew in high school. We acted in a play together, we weren't really friends (he was kind of moody) and he was four years older than me, but none the less I bought his band's CD. I thought it was cool to know someone who recorded an actual professional looking and sounding CD, the album is independent of any label but is still very well packaged. He was selling them out of his backpack for $10, so I got one. It is not a bad album, the ten tracks are all originals and the four band members are good players. The music is I guess the best described as watered down heavy metal. I only sort of knew this at the time but the guy and apparently his band were/are very religious Christians. So their album is sort of like Jesus rock; while there are no overt messages about becoming Christian, all the songs have very religious connotations if you listen and sometimes even if you don't. According to Amazon it seems like the band made only one more album but who knows they might be really famous in certain circles or they might have given up on music. I don't really know all I know is I have their first album. I only listened to it a couple of times and I never play it anymore, but it does bring back some memories of my Freshman year of high school. Memories I enjoy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jeff Beck - "Performing this Week...Live at Ronnie Scott's"

This is a recent purchase, I actually caught a selection of the this performance on TV and thought it was excellent so I decided to pick up the album. This album did not let me down. After a number of successes in the 1970s, particularly the excellent albums "Blow by Blow" and "Wired," Beck became a little erratic. He toured constantly releasing average albums with large gaps in between. Then in 2006 Beck began to release albums pretty regularly he had two "official bootleg" releases of live performances in 06 and 07, he had a show stopping performance at Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival then he released this album which features the same bass player and drummer from the festival.

It is an excellent live album especially for lovers of the electric guitar. Though Beck does not have the same name recognition as some of his contemporaries his talent is definitely equal. There are 16 tracks, all instrumental, that run for nearly 80 minutes. The album almost plays like a studio recording, aside from the applause a the start and end of each song, the audience is entranced by Beck's guitar and as well they should be. This is a very good live album, it does remove all the duet performances that are available on the DVD of the same concert, but that is not really a minus. If you enjoyed Beck's 70s output particularly "Blow By Blow" and "Wired" this is the Jeff Beck Live album for you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Beatles "1"

This will be my last Beatles post. Their 2000 compilation of 27 of their number one singles is a pretty good place to start for the uninitiated. It covers their whole career and since this is a singles collection a handful of these songs do not appear on any regular album. There is no way a single compilation could contain all the best Beatles songs, but this does a pretty good job and if you have not listened to the Beatles this CD will probably make you a fan.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Beatles "1967-1970"

This compilation I believe was the very first Beatles music I ever owned. I think I got it at Costco but I don't really remember. Anyway this is a double CD compilation of the later years of the Beatles career. Even though I have bought individual albums there is still tracks on here that justify keeping it. There are a number of songs that appear here that do not appear on other Beatles compilations, simply because most Beatles compilations are singles compilations and not all their albums contained singles. Songs from Sgt. Pepper and The White Album are both skipped over on other compilations because those albums contained no singles. Also the version of the song "Revolution" presented here is the finished studio version which does not appear on The White Album (it is a rehearsal take on the White Album).
There is a booklet that contains some photographs but is mainly song lyrics. This along with its companion album "The Bealtes/1962-1966" are perfect for the listener who would like a thorough overview of the band's work but does not want to invest in individual albums.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Beatles "Let It Be... Naked"

In 2003 "Let It Be" was re-released in a new version. The tracks were remixed stripping away Phil Spector's contributions, they also deleted "Maggie Mae" and "Dig It" and added "Don't Let Me Down," which was recorded during the session but only released as a single. The album has also been completely reordered.

I got this album as a Christmas Gift in 2003. It is not necessarily better or worse than the original "Let It Be" album but it seems more complete as all the songs now appear finished. The new sequencing also gives a more completed feel to the album. "The Long and Winding Road" is returned to its original incarnation without the choir and orchestra. The songs are as good as they were before so depending on your personal opinion of this album will determine if that is a good or bad thing. There is a good booklet with lots of photos from the recording sessions and very good liner notes about the history of the "Let It Be" recording/album. What most Beatles fans will find interesting is the bonus CD titled "Fly on the Wall" which is 22 minutes of recordings edited from hours of tape that captures the Beatles discussing their final concert (which ended up being on the roof of Apple Studio) and rehearsing various songs. There is even a rehearsal of "All Things Must Pass" which is particularly intriguing considering it became a Harrison solo song. Its a nice addition for the collectors and fanatics.

This redo is simply another version of an often controversial album. I don't listen to it all the time but I am not sorry I have it. In the end I guess it is best to just let it be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Beatles "Let It Be"

The "final" release of The Beatles career. This album was a gift from my mom I think in 2002 or so. As many already know and as I mentioned in my last post this was recorded before "Abbey Road" but released after it in 1970. Originally intended as a large concept album that would coincide with a movie documentary. The idea of the album, originally titled "Get Back," was to capture the Beatles in studio rehearsing and recording. The original album was supposed to be a mix of demos, dialogue, rehearsals and finished songs. The theory seems similar to their "Anthology" albums that were released in the 1990s.

The "Let it Be/Get Back" recording sessions collapsed under its own weight and the Fab Four were barely speaking to each other. They had days of music recorded but none of them wanted to deal with it, so they gave all the recordings to super producer Phil Spector, a friend of Lennon and Harrison, to try and make an album out of it.

He eventually created the "Let It Be" album as we know it. Spector has received a lot of grief over the album but really he was not working with the best Beatles material, the title track, "Get Back" and "Two of Us" are some of their best songs but the majority of the album is not up to par; "Dig it" and "Maggie Mae" are just outtakes and in a way these throw away songs coincide with the original idea of having demos and rehearsals mixed with finished songs. The only song Spector really changed was "The Long and Winding Road," by adding an orchestra and choir over Paul's vocals. Paul complained about this version until the original was released in the 1990s. Also the version of the song "Let it Be" as it appears on this album is different from the single version. The guitar he is much more pronounced and much more raw sounding.

Most people interested in The Beatles will have this album and there is some great music on it but it is one of their more scattered and lesser works.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Beatles "Abbey Road"

I first heard the Abbey Road album when I was a senior in High School. A friend of mine had received the album of as a gift and he did not really care for The Beatles, he liked underground music I think solely because it was underground. Anyway he did not want the album and thus gave it to me, without the case which he lost the case somewhere along the line. Anyway I listened to it for the first time that day. I thought the album was excellent, sure I could do without "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "I Want You (She's so Heavy)," but other than that I thought the album was excellent. I still think it is excellent

By now most know the story of this album's creation, it was their last album to be recorded but not the last to be released. After the painful "Let It Be/Get Back" recording sessions the group was ready to break up but decided to record one last time and return to their earlier style of recording. Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles album and what I consider their most unified and concept oriented work. The first eight tracks (side one of the original record) are individual songs and the next eight tracks (side two) are one long song suite where individual songs link to make a larger piece of music.

The reason I call this their most complete album is that ideas and sounds from the album's previous songs appear in later parts of the album. The lyrics from "Here Comes the Sun" appear in "Sun King" although slightly altered and sung completely different. The lyrics and instrumentals from "You Never Give me your Money" appear in "Golden Slumbers" and "Carry That Weight." The harmonies from "Because" appear in "You Never Give me Your Money" and "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window." The characters in the songs also interact "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" are siblings, "You Never Give me Your Money," "She Came in through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight," and "The End" seem to all be about the same two people though they are never named. There are probably numerous other ideas and concepts in the songs that I have yet to find but whether you search for ideas of not the music is some of the finest ever recorded by the greatest group in Rock History. The Beatles certainly went out on a high note.

I love this album and like the Fab Four said, "In the End the Love you take is Equal to the Love you Make."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Beatles "The White Album"

After the psychedelic excesses, particularly of Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles return to a more rock based sound. They have not completely abandoned excess though, as this is their only double album. Many have often argued that this would work better as a single album. I will admit half the album is superb while half is often near parody and sometimes downright silly. I don't know in my opinion even the seemingly throwaway songs are quite enjoyable. In fact this is my second favorite Beatles album, after Abbey Road.

As history has shown us the group was splintering and wanting to go in their own directions by the time this album was being recorded. Ringo quit the group for a period during the recording sessions. The album does have a bit of a scattered feel as the Fab Four perform in every style they can think of from rock to country to 1930s pop. The four Beatles individual musical tastes really come through and many of the tracks seem like they were recorded without the input of each other. Many of the songs feature one Beatle on lead and it is hard to discern if the others were involved and if the others are involved they often act as backup. A number of McCartney's song seem to be him alone with an acoustic guitar. Most of the songs are Lennon and McCartney tunes but Harrison gets in four tracks, including "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and Ringo gives us his first song writing with "Don't Pass Me By."

I think that is why I like this album each member gets to show his own interests and they run all through the face of music. There are also some spectacular songs here. Heck I recommend this album I think its great.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Considered by many, including Rolling Stone Magazine, to be the Greatest Album of all time. Well, it is certainly a valid title for this album. Though it is probably my third favorite Beatles album there is no ignoring Pepper's cultural and historical importance as well as just being a bunch of great songs.

John Lennon once said, in regards to this album being heralded as a concept story album, that aside from the first two tracks and the Reprise near the end all the songs are individual and could have appeared on any album. Lennon is right to a degree, but because the concept story is about a long time band that play all different styles it pulls the varied musical ideas together.

Paul McCartney's brain child, inspired by The Beach Boys Pet Sounds, he writes and sings a number of the lead vocals. Lennon and Harrison also get in some fine tunes as well. Also since there were on singles taken directly from this album, these songs do not appear on any other compilation (aside from The Blue Album compilation). Listing good songs would be pointless. People will forever argue whether or not this is the Greatest Album of all time. Sgt. Pepper broke all the rules and made way for more adventurous music and bigger concept albums. If you need me to tell you this album is good or if you have never heard of it, you probably don't like this type of music or have been hiding under a rock.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Beatles "Revolver"

Back in the early 2000s VH1 had a week long TV special which chronicled the 100 Greatest Albums of all time. The special listed The Beatles album "Revolver" as number one, the greatest album of all time. As I mentioned in a previous post there was a time when I was really obsessed with The Beatles, I had not heard of this album. Since it was listed as the greatest album of all time I was interested in hearing it, so I picked it up on sale at Tower Records.

Personally I don't think this is the greatest album of all time, its a really good album but personally my favorite Beatles album is Abbey Road. However, this is a major stepping stone for the band. Revolver is really the album where you see them transitioning from their earlier style to the more eclectic style of their later years. The cover is definitely a precursor to Sgt. Pepper's famous cover that would be seen about a year after this album's release. The Beatles here expand from writing only love songs to include slice of life stories, "Eleanor Rigby" and "Doctor Robert," and pure fantasy songs like "Yellow Submarine." Lennon also forays, for the first time, into tape loops and sound collages with the album's disturbing closer "Tomorrow Never Knows." Harrison begins his forays into the indian music that would forever impact his art and life. McCartney also writes a number of gems like "Good Day Sunshine," "Here, There and Everywhere" and "Got to Get You into My Life." Revolver has great historical importance as the beginning of the Beatles abandoning of rules and styles and creating new music, it also has some great tracks along the way.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Beatles "Rubber Soul"

There has been so much written, said and documented about The Beatles that it is hard for me to know where to begin, let alone what to say.
Let me start by saying that I purchased this album at Tower Records on sale. I was going through that Beatles discovery period that many (if not all) teenagers go through. Where we find out musical identity whether it be rock, pop, classical, jazz, or something else or some combination. Anyway at this point in time I was really into The Beatles, reading books about them, wearing a t-shirt with John Lennon's picture and the phrase "Give Peace a Chance" scrawled across the bottom.

Anyway back to the album, Rubber Soul was actually one of the last Beatles albums that I purchased. I enjoy their later album much more, particularly Abbey Road and The White Album, but this is still an excellent album. I think I originally purchased this because my Dad and I really like the song "Drive My Car" which is the opening track here. But basically every track is a highlight including George Harrison's first great song "If I Needed Someone." Their lyrics were getting more complex and this was where they began to expand their context and musical ideas outside of just straight love songs. All in all I have passed my Beatles phase, I still love their music but it is not the only music I listen to. I will always be glad to have their albums as part of my collection.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kapono Beamer "Slack Key Dreams of the Ponomoe"

While Kapono Beamer has often been overshadowed by his more famous older brother Keola, he is an equally talented guitar player and musician. After the break up of the group The Beamer Brothers, Kapono released a series of award winning and fairly successful instrumental albums. Unlike Keola, however, Kapono remained largely out of the spotlight and appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, with a new album every three to five years.

"Slack Key Dreams of the Ponomoe" released in 2005 is Kapono's last album to date and was nominated for that years Hawaiian Music Grammy. Kapono plays nearly every instrument on the album, aside from drums (Noel Okimoto) and Bass (Dean Taba). The album expands on Kapono's instrumental prowess that he displayed on earlier albums like "Paradise Found" and "Pana Aloha" and he again creates excellent atmospheric sound-scapes. He also for the first time in a decade writes new lyric songs that harken back to his 1970s heyday. Kapono has never had a very strong or distinctive voice but he crafts songs that play up his vocal strengths. This is Kapono's most accessible album to date and also his most creative, it is soothing and innovative. This is the recommended album from his catalog and will surely please fans of modern slack key music. Here's hoping that Kapono will come out with a new album soon that expands on this ones excellence.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Keola Beamer "Wooden Boat"

So I had previously wrote a long review of Keola Beamer's album Wooden Boat when I first started this blog last year. I am writing again because I have started to write an entry for all of the albums in my collection. Never the less I am going to try and keep this one short since there was a much longer post earlier.

Anyway, this is Beamer's first album for, Pianist George Winston's, Dancing Cat Records and is certainly Beamer's finest solo recording. As he always does he interchanges instrumental music with songs (lyrics) and weaves new compositions with traditional ones. The album uses the idea of Hawaiian navigation and sailing as a metaphor for traveling through time and generations. This is Beamer's most pop oriented and accessible album. It is an excellent showcase for Beamer's Slack Key Guitar stylings and his ability as a song-smith. Listing individual songs would be pointless as all the tracks are wonderful. It is often overlooked but Wooden Boat is one of Hawaiian Music's finest albums.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Keola and Kapono Beamer "Honolulu City Lights"

Considered by many to be the Greatest Hawaiian Music Album ever made. Honolulu Magazine listed it as number one on their "50 Greatest Hawaii Albums of all Time." While I don't put the album as number one I do think it is one of the top ten best Hawaiian albums.

Released in 1978 "Honolulu City Lights" was an immediate success and catapulted the Beamer Brothers from famous to superstars. The album, and three songs in particular, have become linked to Hawaii's cultural mindset. The title track is still played to this day at numerous occasions and has a timeless quality. The idea of leaving a place but not really wanting to go is a universal theme that is captured in this excellent song. "Only Good Times" is another nostalgic look at better days that became a staple of High School Graduations in Hawaii. "Kaliponi Slack Key" has become the Channel 2 news theme which is played every night over the end credits accompanying images of island residents doing the shaka. The Beamers effortlessly mixe traditional Hawaii songs and motifs like "Kamakani Ka Ili Aloha" with blissful pop "Love you all the Time" throughout the record, mixing traditional Hawaii instruments and Hawaiian Slack Key music stylings with a string orchestra and grand piano. All the elements blend perfectly to make a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. Produced by 60s crooner Teddy Randazzo and Disc Jockey Tom Moffatt who add a professional and sleek feel to the proceedings. It is certainly one of the best Hawaiian albums and definitely the best the Keola and Kapono's career together, this is also one of the few albums that are still available from the pair, a must for any fan of Hawaiian Music and particularly those who enjoy 1970s style Hawaiian music.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Beach Boys Pet Sounds

I got this album about ten years ago when my mom called into a radio contest and won it. One of those "If you're the ninth caller you get a prize" radio contests. She won this, Santana's Supernatural and Aida Original Cast Recording. She then gave all three CDs to me and this is the only one of the three that I still have today. Considered by many to be one of the greatest albums ever made, it is on numerous lists of best albums. Sir Paul McCartney has often sighted Pet Sounds as one of his favorite albums and has called it an education in music.

This is truly the beginning of a new era in The Beach Boys career. They gained fame by popularizing, inventing?, Surf Rock which largely concentrated on songs about surfing, the beach, cool cars, and living under the California sun. This type of music was very popular and very fun to listen to but it often was considered very simplistic, don't get me wrong I love songs like "Surfin' USA" and "Help Me Rhonda" but they are very simple in idea and that is what makes them fun. With Pet Sounds The Beach Boys completely abandon all of the Surf ideas that made them popular, but retain their spectacular harmonies. The album is full of introspection and questions about life and the times we are living in. Brian Wilson is in complete control here and many of the songs seem to come from his individual point of view. This is truly The Beach Boys finest album because many of their other albums, particularly those before 1966, are simply song collections, twelve catchy songs packaged onto one disc. Here the thirteen tracks make a whole sound. There are the hit singles "Wouldn't it Be Nice," "Sloop John B," and "God Only Knows" but they fit into a bigger picture that is known as Pet Sounds. They have made more fun albums and much bigger sellers (if you just wants hits the compilation Sounds of Summer is your best bet) but The Beach Boys never made a more innovative or complete album than Pet Sounds.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to the Future Soundtrack

I'm not really sure why I bought this Soundtrack album. I remember I bought it in a giant mall near Spokane, Washington in this neat futuristic looking music store. The Back to the Future trilogy was my favorite film series when I was younger, its still one of my favorite movie series, but I used to watch all three movies at least once a month. Maybe more. I know I bought the album because I really like the song "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News. At the time I bought this soundtrack Huey and the News had not put out a decent hits compilation (they have since then), so those are probably the reasons why I bought this CD.

This soundtrack is ok. Aside from "The Power of Love" there is the excellent Huey Lewis song "Back in Time" which was also only available on this soundtrack until recently. There is one song apiece by Lindsey Buckingham and Eric Clapton, both of which are decent but not really memorable. There are the excerpts from Alan Silvestri's excellent score but they only take two tracks on the album. Overall like most soundtrack albums this is not really great without the film to go with it. This is an inessential addition to anyones music collection since the two best songs are now available on Huey Lewis and the News' compilation "Greatest Hits." But Back to the Future Fanatics will probably already own this.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Almost Famous Original Soundtrack

Almost Famous is one of my all time favorite movies, a love song to music, the 1970s and to the innocence and wonder of youth. Based on Writer/Director Cameron Crowe's experiences as a teenaged music journalist for Creem and Rolling Stone Magazines. This is the movie that Crowe had been wanting to make all his life. I once did a video conference with Crowe and he explained that everything in the movie is based on some real event, even the sequence on the airplane happened to his wife Nancy Wilson's band Heart. I am so glad he used the clout he gained with Jerry Maguire to create this film, it is his finest film to date and so far the last good film he has made (Vanilla Sky and Elizabethtown were lukewarm at best), this film also won him an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

Crowe, much like John Hughes and Richard Linklater, has always been able to use popular music on his soundtracks to excellent advantage (Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" is forever linked to the image of John Cusack holding a boom box above his head from Crowe's film Say Anything). Almost Famous is filled to the brim with wonderful 1970s music and there is no way this soundtrack album could include every song (especially since it is only a single disc). It is also very expensive to include certain songs on soundtrack albums. This soundtrack, however, contains a nice sampling of songs from the movie and also a good sampling of, often obscure, songs from the 1970s era. There are big name musicians like Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys and Elton John yet the songs featured here are not obvious hits for instance "Feel Flows" is an excellent song from The Beach Boys forgotten 1971 album Surf's Up. There are also some lesser known artists such as The Seeds, Clarence Carter and Yes. Many of the songs on this soundtrack are also not really obviously in the movie I can't remember Rod Stewart's "Every Picture Tells a Story" in the film at all. The one thing I wish the soundtrack had more of is the songs performed by the film's fictional band Stillwater, when I saw the film I thought Stillwater was a real group and went searching for their albums. Original songs were written for the band to perform in the movie but only one, "Fever Dog," is contained on this soundtrack.
Overall this is a great companion to a wonderful film, that can be enjoyed with or without the pictures. Much like the main character of the film this soundtrack will help you discover lost gems and the sheer wonder of music.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Aerosmith "Big Ones"

Ok so I bought this Aerosmith Greatest Hits CD at Tower Records in 2001 (seven years after it was released). The reason I purchased it in 2001 is because that was something of a stellar year for Aerosmith. After being inactive and reclusive for nearly four years, with the exception of the hit "Armageddon" theme song "I don't wanna miss a thing," they reappeared like gangbusters in 2001. Aerosmith were everywhere: they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Performed at the Super Bowl Half Time Show, Appeared on MTV and various TV shows almost constantly, VH1 showed Aerosmith videos 24/7, they released the album "Just Push Play" with the hit single "Jaded," and the guy who sat next to me in my Chemistry class was praising Aerosmith daily and even made me a copy of "Just Push Play."
I guess what I am saying is that I caught Aerosmith fever and I ran out to Tower Records and picked up "Big Ones." The CD actually only collects hits from Aerosmith's years at the Geffen record company when they had their late 1980s rebirth till the mid 1990s. So early hits like "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk this Way" are not included. Some of the best Aerosmith songs "Janie's Got a Gun," "Dude (Looks like a Lady)" and my favorite "Love in an Elevator" are here. There are a number of songs that fit in here but are not terribly excellent such as "Walk on Water," "Blind Man" and "Deuces are Wild." In truth I have never been a big fan of Aerosmith they have a number of catchy pop oriented rock songs but I have never really sought out their music. If a song came on the radio or someone is playing them I would not turn away, but I don't crave Aerosmith like many of their fans. While this is a good hits compilation they have released a few others since that are better and honestly I can say I have not listened to this CD since 2001. All I can say is Aerosmith fever got me but it passed, yet the band is still going strong more power to you Aerosmith.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New Start & Ryan Adams "Gold"

After a kind of long and unintentional hiatus I am returning after purchasing a bunch of new albums and with a new game plan. I am going to go through my album collection alphabetically and give my thoughts on each of the albums. So it begins...

The first album is Ryan Adams' "Gold." His best album, if I am concerned. At the time Adams was touted as the next big thing in music and while he never really lived up to that title and at times purposefully avoided it this is still a solid recording. Released just a few weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks the album gained popularity because the first single and lead off track was coincidentally titled "New York, New York." Which is an excellent catchy Stephen Stills style number that propelled the sales with its chorus of "Hell, I still love you New York."
I originally purchased the album because I really liked the "New York, New York" song but I found a number of other great tracks. Upon first listen I only really liked a few songs but something about the sound made me want to listen again and I slowly found that most of the songs are winners. There are, however, three songs right at the album's center that should have been left off: "Enemy Fire" is terrible, "SYLVIA PLATH" is largely forgettable, and the nine minute long "Nobody Girl" is simply average. Other than that the album is pretty solid, Adams stays largely in the Alt-Country style that gained him fame as part of Whiskeytown but here he mixes it with 70s style rock/pop and 90s sounds. While Adams did not live up to the promise of this album, he would not make another consistent album until 2005's "Cold Roses," "Gold" is a fine album and so far Adams' best.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kalapana's Best

"Kalapana puts spin on the traditional Hits Compilation"
Kalapana were one of the most popular bands in Hawaii during the 1970s, second only to Cecilio & Kapono. They have released two hits compilations and their most recent release is packaged like a compilation but it really is not. The group has collected twelve of their most popular songs and rerecorded them. Hawaiian artist have been doing this for quite some time Kalapana started in 1990, with "Back in your Heart Again," they included a few of their older hits on each of their new albums often in rerecorded versions.
Brother Noland used this idea as well on his best album "Mystical Fish" taking a number of his best old songs and formed them with new material into an excellent album.

Anyway back to Kalapana's album "Many Classics Kalapana Plays Their Best." While the songs are excellent these new renditions are not better or drastically different from the original recordings. Malani Bilyeu's voice is also losing a lot of its power as time is moving on. So while the album is not bad it probably will not be worth getting if you already have the older albums. It is uncertain who the intended audience for this album is, the fans already have these songs in the original versions and the uninitiated would do better to pick up "Best of Vol. 1" Yet if you just want all their biggest hits in one place, there is no other single CD that holds all these songs, regardless of the version this CD is for you.

Friday, February 12, 2010

4 Way Street

"4 Way Street" excellent if uneven Live album.
This live album captures Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on stage during their 1970s heyday and like their actually shows the album is split into two halves featuring acoustic music (disc one) and the other being all electric (disc 2).

Disc one of the album does not really showcase the four members working as a whole as they do on their albums. The four only perform together on "Love the One You're With," "Teach Your Children" and the brief excerpt from "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." As the liner note pictures indicate all four were on stage, but on most of the songs one member takes the spotlight and the rest either sit quietly or are simply back up. In this set up Young actually is given the most time and the album sadly ends just as Stills takes the spotlight with only two songs. There are four bonus tracks that again showcase each member individually, I personally wish they had given the full live version of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" but I guess it was not to be. Of the bonus tracks Young's is the longest containing three of his biggest hits.

Disc two sparkles with electric guitar jams and CSNY playing together, "Ohio" is spectacular, and while "Southern Man" and "Carry On" go on a bit long, both are nearly 15 minutes, they are still great performances. It would have been interesting if the liner notes gave information about the tour and individual shows, since this album is compiled from several concerts during a two year long tour, but all it gives are lyrics and a few archival pictures. Overall though this is a very good album and a fine showcase of the group live, far better than their other three live albums, a must for fans of the group as it contains two Graham Nash songs that do not appear on other albums and many of the live version differ from the studio ones. Recommended.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hawaiian Style Band

"Hawaiian Style Band's Hits Compilation is all one needs from the innovative Group."

The Hawaiian Style Band were one of the most popular Hawaiian groups of the 1990s. The group consisted of Wade Cambern, Bryan Kessler and, then unknown, Robi Kahakalau. The group, however, was set up to feature local talent so various guest constantly appeared on their albums such as, The Ka'au Crater Boys, IZ, Fiji, and The Pahinui Brothers just to name a few. The group took the Jawaiian style music (a mix of Hawaiian and Reggae) that was popularized by Brother Noland to the top of the charts. They also reestablished popular interest in Hawaiian Language music, after the rather bland 1980s, with exciting versions of "No Ke Ano Ahiahi" and "Kaimana Hila."

Hawaiian Style Band Released only three albums, "Vanishing Treasures," Rhythm of the Ocean" and "Ohana," during their career but had eleven big hits. All the hits are excellently collected here on "The Best of the Hawaiian Style Band." Unlike other compilation from Hawaiian Musicians, which try to collect only a handful of songs forcing listeners to purchase the individual albums as well, Hawaiian Style Band have put together all their best work in one place. The group's best songs always were the hits and when listening to the individual albums these eleven songs are really all any listener will need from the group. Wonderful tracks like "Live a Little," "Love & Honesty" and "Happy 2 B w/U" are all collected in all their glory. The liner notes are informative if a bit short but why carp. This is an excellent compilation.