Here are the reissues and live albums from 2019 that grabbed me on first listen, then compelled repeated plays. I’m not gonna rank them except for my Top Favorite status, which I’ll save for the very end. Links to previous reviews or purchase sites are embedded in the album titles. But first, a graphic tease …
More new music, live albums, reissues (regular, deluxe & super-deluxe) and even books about music heading our way between now and Christmas? Yep. Following up on my previous post, it’s another exhaustive sampling of promised progressive goodies — along with other personal priorities — below. Click on the titles for pre-order links — whenever possible, you’ll wind up at the online store that gets as much money as possible directly to the creators.
Andrew Keeling, Musical Guide to In the Court of the Crimson King, 10/50 Edition: composer/musicologist/online diarist Keeling’s revision of his 2009 book (the first of a series acclaimed by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp).
Marillion with Friends from the Orchestra: 9 Marillion classics re-recorded by the full band, the string quartet In Praise of Folly, flautist Emma Halnan and French horn player Sam Morris. Available on CD.
A Prog Rock Christmas: Billy Sherwood produces 11 holiday-themed tracks from the typical all-star cast (members of Yes, Utopia, Flying Colors, Renaissance, District 97, Curved Air and more). Download and CD available now; LP available November 1.
King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (50th Anniversary Edition): featuring brand new stereo and surround mixes in 24/96 resolution by Steven Wilson. Available in 3 CD + BluRay or 2 LP versions. (Note that the new mixes will also be included in the Complete 1969 CD/DVD/BluRay box set, which has been delayed until 2020.)
Van Morrison, Three Chords and the Truth: 14 new songs from Van the Man, available in digital, CD or LP versions.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Colorado: the first Young/Horse collaboration since the 2012 albums Americana and Psychedelic Pill, available in CD or 2LP versions.
What new music, live albums, reissues (regular, deluxe or super-deluxe) and tours are heading our way between now and All Hallows Eve? Check out the exhaustive (and potentially exhausting) sampling of promised progressive goodies — along with other personal priorities — below. Click on the titles for pre-order links — whenever possible, you’ll wind up at the online store that gets as much money as possible directly to the musicians.
- Dave Kerzner, Static Live Extended Edition: recorded at the 2017 Progstock festival. Kerzner’s complete Static album in concert, plus selected live highlights & new studio tracks. Pre-orders ship in late August.
- August 30:
- Sons of Apollo, Live with the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony: recorded at Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s Roman amphitheatre (the site of previous live efforts from Anathema and Devin Townsend). Available in Blu-Ray, 3 CD + Blu-Ray, and 3 CD + DVD + Blu Ray versions.
- Tool, Fear Inoculum: Tool’s first album in 13 years. Available via digital download, as well as “a deluxe, limited-edition CD version (which) features a 4” HD rechargeable screen with exclusive video footage, charging cable, 2 watt speaker, a 36-page booklet and a digital download card.” Really.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids Michigan, July 23, 2019.
Parsing this band’s name closely pays off. This isn’t an Electric Light Orchestra reunion by any means; rather, it’s reclusive ELO main man Jeff Lynne, touring North America with the music that made his bones for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Armed with fistfuls of Top 20 hits and key album tracks, Live Nation’s deep pockets, a dozen top-notch hired guns — including progressive rock role players Milton McDonald (Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe) on guitar and Lee Pomeroy (Anderson Rabin & Wakeman, Steve Hackett, It Bites, Headspace) on bass — and visual production rivaling Pink Floyd, Lynne delivered the goods to a pumped-up, near-capacity crowd Tuesday night. Sure, the show was polished and manicured (and doubtless click-tracked and auto-tuned) within inches of its life — but it was also irresistible to the ears and dazzling to the eyes, an unalloyed pleasure from start to finish.
The Who, Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids Michigan, May 7, 2019.
Taking the mike as The Who casually took the stage, surrounded by a 49-piece orchestra, Pete Townshend saluted my adopted hometown. “Grand Rapids — on the Grand River — a grand occasion!”
As I’ve noted before, Michigan has played an outsized part in The Who’s history — the site of their first US hit single (“I Can’t Explain”, in Detroit) their first US gig outside New York (the Fifth Dimension Club, in Ann Arbor), their first car driven into a swimming pool (at Flint’s Holiday Inn). Tuesday night brought a new “first” — the opening night of an ambitious band-plus-symphony tour. Would it be a brave triumph? A crazy experiment? An baffling failure? A cynical cash grab? We would get to find out — first!
What we got was a mix of the first two possibilities — thoroughly intriguing and pretty gripping, worth some shaky moments and rough pacing for the sheer, audacious impact of the whole package. The evening was by no means a smooth ride or a safe play to a sold-out sports arena crowd; parachuting into unfamiliar sonic terrain, The Who had to blaze new trails forward. They stumbled at times, but when they found their feet, the musical vistas they discovered could be downright glorious.
Following the jump, the reissues and compilations from this past year that:
- For one reason or another, I absolutely had to buy (whether I previously had a copy or not), and
- That grabbed me on first listen and haven’t let go through repeated plays. Except for my Top Favorite at the end of the post, I haven’t ranked them — in my opinion, they’re all worth your time. But first, a graphic tease …
Fifty years ago today — December 3, 1968 — NBC aired Singer Presents … Elvis.
At that point, Elvis Presley was generally considered a joke, a has-been. His pioneering rock and roll days were long behind him, his singing and acting career and earning potential shriveled by a stultifying run of half-baked movies (Girl Happy, Harum Scarum, Clambake) and equally awful soundtracks (featuring horrid novelty songs like “There’s No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car” and “He’s Your Uncle, Not Your Dad”). Presley’s manager “Colonel” Tom Parker was pushing for a holiday special where Elvis would cavort with nominally famous guest stars and sing … wait for it … twenty Christmas carols.
But Singer’s execs had something else in mind: a show centered entirely on Presley, reminding the audience of his initial, explosive impact on pop music and propelling him forward, into a fresh phase of his career. Elvis bought in, the Colonel signed off, and Steve Binder (director of the spectacular 1964 concert movie The T.A.M.I Show, featuring The Supremes, The Beach Boys, James Brown and The Rolling Stones in thrilling live performances) signed on. Which is why, on that night fifty years ago, as 42 percent of the US television audience tuned in, they locked eyes with a man on a mission: