Songs of Love and Hate is one of Leonard Cohen's most emotionally intense albums – which, given the nature of Cohen's body of work, is no small statement. (…) If Songs of Love and Hate isn't Cohen's best album, it comes close enough to be essential to anyone interested in his work.
Night was a loose, L.A.-based band, whose personnel were veteran British-based session musicians, including Stevie Lange, who sang behind Graham Bonnet and Elton John; Chris Thompson, who contributed to War of the Worlds and worked for Manfred Mann's Earth Band; and keyboard wizard Nicky Hopkins, who played with everybody. This Cardboard sleeve (mini LP) reissue from Night includes both albums that were recorded by band, includes a bonus tracks, and featuring 2011 24-bit remastering.
TO VENUS AND BACK pairs a disc of studio tracks with a disc of live concert recordings. The first disc features some of Amos' most electronic-sounding productions to date. Though her acrobatic singing is given its usual full rein, many of the studio songs feature intricate, effects-rich orchestrations. The album-opening "Bliss" begins as a windswept soundscape, only to open up into a hook-laden chorus. "Juarez" is an intoxicating stew of disembodied voices, roiling synthesizers, and propulsive percussion. "Glory of the '80s" visits a night of drug-fueled hedonism during a decade that defined excess. "Josephine" is a standout track that will appeal to fans of Amos' more open, piano-centered work. The second disc culls tracks from Amos' 1998 Plugged Tour. The live rendering of "Cornflake Girl" is a particularly stirring affair, noteworthy for Amos' vocal bravura and for the cascading sheets of piano that she adds during the song's climax. Also featured is "Cooling," a track that Amos has never committed to album. No Tori Amos fan will want to be without TO VENUS AND BACK. Album was nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance.
After the burnished, mellow Moments, Boz Scaggs put some grit back into his music with this third album, Boz Scaggs & Band. Not that he got down and dirty – his blue-eyed soul and funk is still sleek and stylish, music for uptown parties, not downtown juke joints. But Scaggs gave his band equal billing on the title here because they carry equal weight on Boz Scaggs & Band. It's a true band album, showcasing the group's tight interplay as much as it does Scaggs' vocals. Sometimes, the band almost dominates the proceedings too much, as they do on "Runnin' Blue," where they're as splashy as a Vegas big band. Such excesses are balanced by the nimble "Up to You," this album's irresistible foray into country – something that was a regular Boz feature at this point – and the brief, breezy "Here to Stay," which helps keep things light and casual. But the best thing about Boz & Band is hearing that band play, particularly on "Flames of Love" and "Why Why," where they get down low, playing funky rock and soul that holds its own with Little Feat's Meters-inspired grooves.
One of the hardest-working progressive bands to end up languishing in relative obscurity, Fruupp was begun in 1971 by guitarist Vince McCusker. After a brief musical apprenticeship in London, McCusker returned to Belfast and quickly pulled together a group of largely classically trained musicians; the lineup was unusual in that keyboardist Stephen Houston doubled on the oboe…