compilation Archive

Album Review: R.E.M. — The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC

There was a time – a pretty long time, actually – during which R.E.M. was among the most popular groups on the planet. Without being pretentious or self-important (I’m lookin’ at you, U2), the foursome from Athens, Georgia did things its own way, uncompromisingly. Over the course of the band’s history – 1983 to 2011

Album Review: The Zombies — Greatest Hits

The Zombies have a sterling and well-deserved reputation. That reputation is built primarily on three things: a couple of early singles, a final album of staggering quality, and a latter-day, 21st century renaissance in which the group finally capitalizes on those first two things, while proving it has plenty more to offer. And its that

Album Review: John Wesley Harding – Greatest Other People’s Hits

Nearly everything one first learns about John Wesley Harding suggests the man is a smart-aleck. A folky troubadour transplanted long ago from Hastings, England to the U.S., the man born Wesley Stace adopted a stage name taken from one of Bob Dylan’s most celebrated releases. (Some years ago he also released an album that waggishly

Multiple Discs, Multiple Artists (Part 1 of 2)

It’s purely happenstance, but at the moment I have two discs each of archival/reissue/compilation music from seven acts. (Actually, I have three discs each by three of those, but I’m trying to shoehorn these reviews into a theme, so work with me here.) These diverse releases cover a lot of stylistic ground, and they’re all

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