compilation Archive

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part Two

Continued from Part One… Something Got a Hold on Me covers 1963-1964, the earliest years of Ru-Jac, ones that featured the Kay Keys Band, Little Sonny Daye, Brenda Jones, Parker, the Teardrops Band and several others. Most names won’t be familiar to most outside the Baltimore soul scene of that era, but the quality of

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part One

Beginning operations in 1963, Baltimore-based Ru-Jac Records was an African American-owned and -operated record label. Founded by Rufus E. Mitchell and Jack Bennett, Ru-Jac was a singles-only label that released dozens of 45 rpm discs, primarily between 1963 and 1974. Much of the label’s output has remained largely unavailable since the label ceased operations in

Album Review: Craig Smith — Love is Our Existence

This is a fascinating release. Singer-songwriter Craig Smith got his early professional start as a member of the Good Time Singers, a folk ensemble in the mold of the New Christy Minstrels. He later formed a folk-rock due with band mate Lee Montgomery. Meanwhile he had an acting career; liner notes author (and album curator)

Album Review: Klaus Schulze — La Vie Electronique Vols 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2

Over the years, there have been a number of massive archival releases that all but define the phrase “for the completist.” In 2011, the Grateful Dead went back to the source tapes for one of the band’s best (or least-tedious, depending on one’s perspective) live albums, the 3LP Europe ‘72, and released a 73-disc set

Liner Notes News

I’ve been extraordinarily busy lately. After devoting a large chunk of 2017 to the writing of my first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon, in 2018 I’ve been focusing on writing liner note essays for albums. Here’s a summary of recent and upcoming releases with which I’ve

Album Review: Mel Henke — 77 Sunset Strip-per

For a lot of Americans in the late 1950s and ‘60s, jazz wasn’t something they went to clubs to hear. If they heard it at all, jazz was often presented in the context of television and film theme music. The brash, hard-swinging sounds of big band jazz lent an exuberant (and wordlessly carefree) vibe to

Album Review: Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America’s Forgotten War

Readers old enough to remember the long-running and beloved television sitcom M*A*S*H likely know that according to its creators, even though the show was set in wartime Korea, it was really about American involvement in Vietnam. But despite the show’s comedic framework, it managed to explore some important truths about that ill-advised endeavor in southeast

Hundred-word Reviews for May 2018

There’s so much great new music that it’s difficult to keep up with it all. I’m here to help, but it’s tough for me to keep pace as well. To streamline things a bit, I do these occasional blocks of brief reviews, limiting myself to 100 words for each. Think of it as the music

Album Review: Steppenwolf at 50

There have been countless Steppenwolf collections. I count more than a dozen best-of’s and similarly-themed compilations. And during the group’s heyday – its years on Dunhill Records – Steppenwolf released seven albums of new material. So perhaps the news of yet another Steppenwolf collection in 2018 – a three-disc set no less! – might initially

Album Reviews: Two Various-Artists RSD Releases

The Other Side of Sun, Part 2 Sun Records had seen its heyday come and go by the time Shelby Singleton bought the label in the late 1960s. But purchase he did. And with that, Sun became part of an impressive catalog that included plenty of hits in a wide variety of genres. Even though