Thanks to the dedicated effort of the folks at Real Gone, this often bootlegged date by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band gets its first official release. These 13 tracks come from a smoking date at the Unicorn Coffee House in Boston. Nobody's sure of the exact date, but estimates put it somewhere during a two-week run in May, two months before the band's classic East-West was released. There's over an hour of music on what amounts to the first recorded document from this sextet: hard-grooving Chicago drummer Billy Davenport (Sam Lay left after the band's debut album) joined vocalist/harmonicist Butterfield, guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, organist Mark Naftalin, and bassist Jerome Arnold.
The first solo David Gates's album.
Götz Friedrich’s 1981 Elektra film sets Richard Strauss’ opera in a dark and dingy abandoned 20th-century factory populated by grungy denizens in psuedo-Greek garb. Elektra herself appears like some deranged homeless woman reeking with sweat and slime (in the rain). And the depravity doesn’t stop there. Friedrich plays up the work’s sado-masochistic elements, with bloody whippings and an orgy sequence involving nude lesbians bathing themselves in the blood of a sacrificial ram. Now you might think that all of this detracts from the score, but on the contrary, the production matches image to music so brilliantly that anyone seeing this opera for the first time would think they were created for each other (which allows you to ignore the occasional useless, almost silly gesture, such as the frequent and prolonged shots of Agamemnon’s bloodied visage during Elektra’s opening monologue).
The Cars' studio albums have been boxed before - most of them showed up on 2009's Original Album Series, while in 2014 there was a cheap and basic set called Studio Album Collection, 1978-1987 - but the 2016 set The Elektra Years 1978-1987 is handsomely produced and newly remastered, two features absent on the previous sets. Ric Ocasek handled the digital remaster, while David Robinson is the art director on the set, overseeing the replicas of the original albums and coming up with the spiffy retro artwork. Sadly, "Tonight She Comes" - a hit single featured on 1985's Greatest Hits and never part of an actual album - wasn't added as a bonus track to either Heartbeat City or Door to Door, but that's the only flaw on this otherwise nicely assembled, affordable set.