July 2016 Archives

CD Review: Charlie Faye And The Fayettes

Charlie Faye harkens back to the era of 1960s girl groups on her latest release.
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Charlie Faye has made a name for herself as a singer-songwriter. Her last album You Were Fine, You Weren't Even Lonely reached number 16 on the American Music Association's airplay chart. She also earned a "Songwriter of the Week" honor from American Songwriter magazine's website. In spite of this, Faye was looking for a change. She had a love of the girl groups of the 1960s and, after receiving an e-mail from Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon) offering encouragement, she decided to form her own girl group The Fayettes, with BettySoo and Akina Adderly on background vocals. Add in

DeepSoul: LeVert - "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind"

An underrated singer, Gerald Levert demonstrated his impressive vocal range in this 1986 LeVert single.
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LeVert had a head start on their successful run of singles in the 1980s and 1990s. After all, two of its members--Gerald and Sean LeVert--boasted an impressive pedigree, notably their father Eddie Levert. The founder and lead singer of the O'Jays, Eddie was initially not on board with his sons following in his musical footsteps. Yet Gerald's powerful voice could not be denied, and his charisma led the trio to chart a number of hits, including the 1986 crossover smash "Casanova." To fully appreciate Gerald's impressive range and emotional quality, however, one need only hear their first R&B hit, "(Pop,

CD Review: The Blind Boys Of Alabama - Spirit of The Century

The album that brought The Blind Boys Of Alabama to the mainstream gets a 15th anniversary reissue with bonus tracks.
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In 2001, The Blind Boys Of Alabama had been making music for almost 50 years. No one would have faulted them had they slowed down their pace or even retired. After all, not many singing groups attain that level of longevity. Instead, they continued to push the envelope in terms of what gospel music could be and released their Grammy Award-winning album Spirit Of The Century, putting them on the map for much of mainstream America. Now 15 years after the release of that landmark album, it is back in print and being rereleased with seven additional live cuts. The

CD Review: The Blind Boys Of Alabama - Higher Ground

A reissue of the group's 2002 Grammy Award-winning classic album with bonus live cuts.
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In 2001, The Blind Boys Of Alabama released their critically acclaimed album Spirit Of The Century on Peter Gabriel's Real World Records. Despite forming in 1944, that 2001 album brought them their biggest mainstream success, winning the group a Grammy and garnering them an opening slot on Gabriel's Growing Up tour. The group suddenly needed a big follow-up album and got one in the form of 2002's Higher Ground, an album that won yet another Grammy and featured Robert Randolph and the Family Band as the backing group. Back in print once again, the album has been rereleased with seven

Review: The Rolling Stones - Totally Stripped

The Rolling Stones deliver stripped down versions of classic and obscure cuts.
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In 1995, The Rolling Stones were finishing up their hugely successful tour for Voodoo Lounge. The tour saw them play to over six million people on six continents, no small feat to be sure. While in Europe, the band decided to play a series of intimate, stripped-down shows at tiny (by Stones standards) venues. Along those lines, the band also took to the studio in Tokyo and Lisbon to record some not quite unplugged, but still very bare bones versions of several of their songs, many of which had not been performed live in some time. The result was a

Blu-ray Review: MIKA - Sinfonia Pop

MIKA tries his hand at orchestral versions of his pop tunes.
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MIKA has made a career out of sophisticated, layered pop music. Best known for his 2007 hit "Grace Kelly," a song that was No. 1 in the UK for five weeks, he has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide and has received over 115 million video views online. With comparisons to Queen and Elton John, among others, it is not surprising that MIKA would attempt to try his hand at orchestral versions of his own songs. He first tried this with a series of concerts in Montreal, QC, in 2014. Conducted by Canadian composer Simon LeClerc, the results were

Blu-ray Review: Imagine Dragons - Smoke + Mirrors Live

Imagine Dragons give a powerful performance in this concert Blu-ray.
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Imagine Dragons' rise to superstardom was a fast one. The band's 2015 Smoke + Mirrors tour played 110 shows in 42 countries on five continents. They have sold millions of records and captured a Grammy Award along the way. For a band that only formed in 2008, that is no small feat. A July 2015 stop in Toronto, ON, was filmed before a packed house. That show makes up the Blu-ray/CD set Imagine Dragons -- Smoke + Mirrors Live. As the show begins, the band appears as larger than life silhouettes behind a curtain. The crowd is all in from

CD Review: Rich Robinson - Flux

Rich Robinson delivers a strong solo album with Flux.
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It's been a good year for Rich Robinson. The former Black Crowes guitarist and founding member has seen expanded reissues of his solo albums and two Record Store Day exclusives. Now comes his latest studio album, Flux, an album that features sounds that should be familiar to longtime Black Crowes fans, but one in which Robinson also stretches out musically. The album opens with "The Upstairs Land," a track that evokes the Rolling Stones with its heavy groove and hard rocking choruses. The song briefly veers into psychedelic territory during its solo, with Robinson providing tasteful lead guitar. "Shipwreck" showcases

Blu-ray Review: Melody Gardot -- Live At The Olympia Paris

This singer-songwriter's first-ever live video release captures the essence of her music perfectly.
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Throughout her career, Melody Gardot has mixed multiple musical genres with ease, effortlessly moving from jazz to pop/rock to blues to soul to funk. It is why her music is so hard to define, but also why her music is so exciting. By mixing familiar elements with different styles, she has managed to create something interesting and new. Her first-ever live Blu-ray, Melody Gardot -- Live At The Olympia Paris, offers ample proof of this singer-songwriter's many talents. The stage is dimly lit and Gardot is clad in black, with a hat and sunglasses throughout the performance. This suits the

DVD Review: Alan Jackson - Keepin' It Country: Live At Red Rocks

This country music veteran delivers a great live performance from Red Rocks.
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For more than a quarter century, Alan Jackson's name has been synonymous with country music. His has released 23 albums, which have sold more than 60 million total copies and has received 150 music industry awards. In addition, he has had 20 songs reach No. 1 on the charts, which puts him in very select company. In 2015 he celebrated his 25th year in the business. A stop at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado was filmed and makes up the excellent new live DVD Alan Jackson -- Keepin' It Country: Live At Red Rocks. From the opening notes

DeepSoul: The Platters - "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"

Pioneers in early rock and roll, the Platters successfully bridged pop standards with modern R&B and soul.
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The Platters may seem like unlikely early rock and R&B heroes. Their polished appearance and string-laden covers of standards may not sound rebellious today. Yet their soulful harmonies added a new edge, signaling a transition in pop music. The group proved that the great American songbook could peacefully coexist with modern soul, forging a new sound that paved the way for rock and roll. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," the Platters' 1958 reimagining of the Jerome Kern composition, perfectly exemplifies the group's elegance, originality, and the exquisitely dramatic voice of lead singer Tony Williams. The story of the Platters begins