Reissue. Features the latest remastering. Includes a Japanese description, lyrics. Features original cover artwork. The music of George Gershwin, but taken to some great late night territory by the trumpet of Charlie Shavers! The album's a sublime "with strings" date – one that has Charlie blowing beautifully over backdrops from Sy Oliver – charts that certainly use some string instruments, but often in a very spare, mellow way – so that once Shavers gets going, his trumpet is right out front – often with a beautifully moody tone! Titles include "I've Got A Crush On You", "Embraceable You", "Liza", "Summertime", "But Not For Me", and "It Ain't Necessarily So".
If calling their fifteenth studio album The Latest doesn't exactly suggest enthusiasm on the part of Cheap Trick, keep in mind that the band has never shown much enthusiasm for album titles anyway, titling two albums after their band and one after their hometown of Rockford, IL. The Latest follows 2006's Rockford by three years and does indeed offer the latest spin on the band's classic power pop, flowing naturally from that quite excellent back-to-basics set, offering another collection of 13 guitar-heavy pop tunes. After the brief, ominous opener "Sleep Forever," a misleading slice of spacy, hazy, mood rock fades away, Cheap Trick tear into the overlooked Slade gem "When the Lights Are Out," suggesting that The Latest will be a high-octane rock-fest, but apart from a handful of other moments – including the raging "Sick Man of Europe" and the "Slow Down" revamp "California Girl" – a lot of the record consists of thick Beatlesque psychedelia, an appealing shift in tactics that makes this something a little bit different than yet another Cheap Trick record.
At a time when Horslips were rapidly drifting away from their quasi-traditional Irish roots, they unexpectedly delivered this gift-wrapped gem. With the exception of Barry Devlin's electric bass and John Fean's occasional contemporary guitar stylings, this is a solid traditional Irish album and certainly the most autochthonous recording by Horslips. All 13 of the selections are of Irish origin, among them three Turlough O'Carolan tunes including the sprightly "Sir Festus Burke" (it is unclear whether it was ever intended as a Christmas song). It unfolds into a Celtic "wall of sound" featuring Jim Lockhart's harpsichord, with banjo, flute, fiddle and guitar gradually joining in the round. "Thompson's/Cottage in the Grove" is a pair of reels that progress in much the same fashion. This time, the concertina of Charles O'Connor is followed by banjo, piano, whistle, bodhran and bones. The nearest this record gets to familiar holiday carol territory is found in a passage from the hornpipe "Piper in the Meadow Straying," which bears a calculated resemblance to "Don we now our gay apparel" from "Deck the Halls." This was a surprising and risky recording for a mid-'70s rock band, but it definitely rejuvenated them and paved the way for their 1976 tour de force Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony.
The most ambitious and successful of their early albums, Horslips' most progressive creation, and maybe the most successful rock concept album ever done, The Tain is rock put into the service of epic storytelling (or is it the other way around?). Based on the Irish saga Tain Bo Cuailgne (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), part of the Ulster Cycle of heroic tales, it tells of war and carnage brought about over the possession of a white bull, inspired by events estimated to have taken place around 500 B.C. This is a long way from Chuck Berry or Little Richard, but it does rock hard, and unlike a lot of progressive rock, The Tain displays considerable tension and momentum. Some listeners will detect modest similarities to Jethro Tull's work (especially on "Charolais"), but there's a lot less meandering here than there is on Tull albums, the flute playing is better, and the material moves forward in a fairly nimble fashion. It would be easy to praise John Fean's guitar, but Jim Lockhart's flute is just as impressive, Charles O'Connor's violin playing is gorgeous, and Eamonn Carr's drumming is dazzling. And the vocals are quite good too, sweet but earthy and honest, and not self-consciously profound – these boys had ambition, but they weren't full of themselves or too given to pretensions.