George Thorogood – Going Back

George Thorogood has been amazing audiences with his frenetic slide work and low down blues since the late seventies. His run of hits and solid albums for EMI Records in the eighties cemented his position in the national consciousness, especially with the modern blues classic ‘Bad to the Bone’. Thorogood’s live shows are legendary and I can attest to this having seen the Destroyers live several times over the years. I have been aware of his modern releases for years, most notably 2003s “Ride Till I Die”, but was totally surprised to come across the 2011 Capitol Records release “2120 South Michigan Avenue”. The album is a tribute to the Chess Records catalog of blues hits, originally recorded at the Michigan Avenue address by legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Buddy Guy. While Thorogood has been recording superb covers of these blues greats for decades, it is a refreshing and well recorded take on some obscure material and chestnuts that sets this group of songs apart. There are originals and that brings me to the best song on the album: ‘Going Back’. Thorogood penned this song as an homage to the music that influenced his artistry over the years. More than that, it is just a great blues/rock song that delivers his best riff since ‘Bad to the Bone’. ‘Going Back’ literally jumps out of the stereo. The vocal delivery, guitar playing and arranging are some of his best work. I would advise picking up the vinyl 2 disc set (it contains bonus tracks), but don’t miss ‘Going Back’…it is one of the best rock n roll songs of the new millenium!

http://www.amazon.com/2120-South-Michigan-George-Thorogood/dp/B0051YKU6Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347776689&sr=8-1&keywords=thorogood+avenue

Aerosmith – Lover Alot/What Could Have Been Love

Aerosmith are continuing to release tracks from their upcoming release. The two latest offerings are an upbeat rocker, ‘Lover Alot’ and a ballad, ‘What Could Have Been Love’. As a lifelong fan, I have been more than pleased with the 3 new tracks released so far and excited to see them on tour in support of the November-bound album “Music From Another Dimension”.

http://www.amazon.com/Lover-Alot/dp/B0092PRQL0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347776472&sr=8-1&keywords=aerosmith+lover+alot

http://www.amazon.com/What-Could-Have-Been-Love/dp/B0091UMXDC/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347776520&sr=301-1

Matchbox Twenty – She’s So Mean

Matchbox Twenty is releasing their first full length studio album in a decade this fall, entitled “North”. The single ‘She’s So Mean’ is available now. If the song is any indication, the album will be a worthy addition to the band’s cannon of hit LP’s. A deluxe edition is planned with 2 bonus tracks. Below is a link to purchase the new single.

The band is also posting a series of videos detailing the making of the new album. I am including the first one below to give some insight into Matchbox Twenty as they are in 2012.

http://www.amazon.com/Shes-So-Mean/dp/B0089T2W28/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343706284&sr=301-1

Aerosmith – Legendary Child

This great new Aerosmith single has been out for 2 months and had debuted on American Idol’s finale. With Steven Tyler officially done with reality television (for the moment), it is going to be a great autumn for Aerosmith fans. They have their first new album in 8 years coming out and are currently on a nationwide tour with Cheap Trick. Here is a link to download the single from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Legendary-Child/dp/B0083L3VNG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343705735&sr=8-1&keywords=aerosmith+legendary+child

PS And just in case you missed it, Steven Tyler released a reworked Aerosmith outtake last year called ‘It Feels So Good’. It warrants a listen:
http://www.amazon.com/It-Feels-So-Good/dp/B004Y52GTK/ref=pd_sim_dmt_dmusic_t_5

Paul Simon “Under African Skies”

Earlier this year Paul Simon re released his classic solo album “Graceland” in a variety of packages that include bonus tracks and new information about the recording and reception of this great LP.  The centerpiece to this campaign is the great, feature length documentary “Under African Skies”.  The film is directed by Joe Berlinger, the documentarian who filmed the Metallica “Some Kind of Monster” movie.  A must have on Blu Ray, Paul Simon is shown making the album, dealing with the aftermath of Graceland’s success and criticism and reuniting with the original musicians in South Africa in the summer of 2011.  I have included links to the LP release and the Blu Ray documentary as well as the official trailer.   

http://www.amazon.com/Graceland-25th-Anniversary-Edition-Vinyl/dp/B007P06DJ0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343082559&sr=8-1&keywords=graceland+lp

http://www.amazon.com/African-Graceland-Anniversary-BluRay-Blu-ray/dp/B007P06DL8/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1343082580&sr=1-1&keywords=african+skies

Aside

Mark Knopfler will be releasing his new solo album “Privateering” on September 11th.  The album is being released on the same day as tour mate Bob Dylan’s “Tempest”.  The two artists will be touring North America together in the fall, reprising their collaboration that has been ongoing since the late seventies.  US release information for “Privateering” is not posted as of yet and there is no vinyl release discussed.  The EU release is posted below:

http://www.amazon.com/Privateering-Mark-Knopfler/dp/B0086449YA/ref=ntt_mus_ep_dpi_1

Bob Dylan “Tempest”

On September 11th Bob Dylan will release his latest LP “Tempest”. The new album is sure to be a great listen ready to join the ranks of his recent classics. As with all Dylan albums, it is being released on Vinyl in addition to CD and itunes download. As the vinyl releases for “Love and Theft” and “Modern Times” are noted for their fidelity I would suggest picking up the LP/CD combo. It is to be noted that this album will be released on September 11th, the same day that “Love and Theft” was released in 2001!

Link to preorder:
http://www.amazon.com/Tempest-2-Vinyl-LPs-CD/dp/B008M9PHWM

Cheap Trick – I Can’t Take It

“Then I tell myself I’ll put you down,
Don’t wanna see your face around…don’t call me up anymore.
When I hear your voice it’s in my ear,
You’re kissin’ on the phone…it makes it all come clear.”

Cheap Trick are the ultimate cult band in modern rock n roll. Although their early hits have been defining statements, in the process of becoming radio staples, they have sustained one of the most productive and varied catalogs in modern music. From their formative years in Rockford, Illinois to continuing to record and tour with their original lineup, the band continues to push the limits and release unconventional, yet always innovative power pop.

The album “Next Position Please” from 1983 was released at a crossroads in the band’s career. Founding member and bassist Tom Petersson was on a several year hiatus and they had turned to famed producer Todd Rundgren (Eutopia, Meatloaf, etc.) to guide the recording process for this, their eighth relase for Epic Records. ‘I Can’t Take It’ was the album’s second single, edged out by ‘Dancing the Night Away’, the only song on the album not produced by Rundgren. ‘I Can’t Take It’ is the superior song, however. Written by vocalist Robin Zander, the song features a strong melody line and an infectious chorus…a hallmark of all Cheap Trick classics.

While the album failed to chart highly, it is a fan classic that features great production, sonwriting and musicianship. The band would ultimately come back into commercial favor with 1987’s ‘The Flame’, but it is on “Next Position Please” that the band show their true strengths as an American original.

Joe Cocker – You Can’t Have My Heart

“You can keep that diamond ring.
Take it downtown and find out what it will bring.
You can ask me to give you almost anything….all except my heart.”

It is essential for an artist to evolve if they are to survive changing times and tastes in the music industry. Joe Cocker began life in the late sixties as a counter culture icon with his iconic performance at the Woodstock festival and subsequent “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour with Leon Russell. Establishing himself with classic songs like “You Are So Beautiful” and “With a Little Help From My Friends”, by the mid seventies Cocker had faded from public view but had established a reputation as the preeminent rock interpreter of some of the greatest writers in the modern era.

His comeback in the eighties was miraculous to say the least, with the ballad smash “Up Where We Belong” returning him to the top of the charts. He continues to ride that wave of success, especially on classics like 1989s “One Night of Sin” and 1987s “Unchain My Heart”. While old fans stay mired in the sounds of his early days, those willing to investigate these newer albums will find many hidden gems.

One of his best efforts in years was 2002s “Respect Yourself”, his 18th studio album. Produced by John Shanks (Chris Isaak, Stevie Nicks, etc.), the album never veers too far from his soul and blues roots. The original track ‘You Can’t Have My Heart’, written by Shanks and frequent Cocker cohort CJ Vanston, is a classic example of why Cocker still is vital in the genre he helped to define.

Pearl Jam – The Fixer

“When somethings broke, I wanna put a bit of fixin on it.
When somethings bored, I wanna put a little exciting on it.
If somethings low, I wanna put a little high on it.
When somethings lost, I wanna fight to get it back again…”

Of the bands to emerge from the Seattle scene of the late eighties, Pearl Jam has endured and continued to make consistently good music while many of their peers have either faded away or broken up. The release of the documentary “Pearl Jam Twenty” highlights the ups and downs of an intensely personal and tightly knit group of individuals who do not usually invite the critical eye to view their creative process. Many only know Pearl Jam from their days as cultural icons of the early nineties and the hits found on their 1991 debut, “Ten”. For devotees, the band has a rich catalog of songs to delve into and examine, songs as diverse as the influences of the group, which range from arena rock to blues to punk to folk and beyond.

‘The Fixer’ is a classic pop rock single from their first true indie release, 2009’s “Backspacer”. The album was the first release for the band after finishing their tenture on the J Records label. After years of releasing their own bootleg series albums on their own Monkeywrench Records, Pearl Jam decided to completely take the major labels out of their business model…a paradigm shift that has worked for other groups like Barenaked Ladies and Radiohead.

The album saw the band branching out into more mellow sounds on songs like “Just Breathe”, a conceptual precursor to Eddie Vedder’s second solo release, 2011’s “Ukelele Songs”, also on Monkeywrench Records. ‘The Fixer’ is as song that came to the band originally from drummer Matt Cameron and it shows. The driving beat and infectious rhythm make this the bands catchiest song since their pop heyday on “Ten”. The song was featured in several Target commercials, as it was the official retailer of the album and it was also one of the bands only official music videos of the new millenium.

The film “Pearl Jam Twenty” is a must see for any music fan. It truly conveys why Pearl Jam is as important and relevent today as they were at the height of their greatest commericial exposure.

The trailer for “Pearl Jam Twenty”: