Queen. They made music that was so unique, there aren't really that many bands that have been brave enough to attempt cover versions of their songs. Few singers, after all, want to have their voice compared to Freddie Mercury's, few guitarists can negotiate the tightrope wire between dazzling technique and melodic playing as skillfully as Brian May.
While some bands are all about The Sound, and others are all about The Song, Queen excelled at both. Sumptuous productions, virtusoso performances and a willingness to go out on a limb meant that you were guaranteed to hear something you'd never heard before, while the songs got their finely honed hooks in you and refused to let go…
There was never any disputing the strong country influence Eilen Jewell brought to her retro-pop-folk, so it's no surprise that she detours into this short but extremely sweet tribute to one of her obvious influences, Loretta Lynn. It's a natural side road, especially since Jewell's sumptuous voice is similar to Lynn's, as is her delivery. Jewell already recorded Lynn's "The Darkest Day" on her previous album, but the dozen selections here are not the coal miner's daughter's best-known tunes, despite the obvious resemblance of the cover art to 1968's iconic Loretta Lynn's Greatest Hits. Rather, the tracks are carefully chosen to reflect only Lynn's original compositions that highlight her often defiant, genre-expanding lyrics and diverse topics, which range from offbeat gospel ("Who Says God Is Dead") to brazen infidelity ("Another Man Loved Me Last Night.").
Two years after the death of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk, this very unusual and quite memorable double-LP tribute was put together. Producer Hal Willner's most successful project, the 23 interpretations of Monk originals all feature a different group of all-star players and stretch beyond jazz. Some of the performances are fairly straightforward while others are quite eccentric; certainly the crazy duet on "Four in One" by altoist Gary Windo and Todd Rundgren (on synthesizers and drum machines) and the version of "Shuffle Boil" featuring John Zorn on game calls (imitating the sound of ducks) are quite unique. There are many colorful moments throughout the project and the roster of musicians is remarkable: Bobby McFerrin with Bob Dorough, Peter Frampton, Joe Jackson, Steve Lacy, Dr. John, Gil Evans, Randy Weston, Roswell Rudd, Eugene Chadbourne and Shockabilly, the Fowler Brothers, NRBQ, Steve Khan, Carla Bley, Barry Harris, Was (Not Was) and many others. There is not a slow moment or uninteresting selection on this highly recommended set.
The French label Barclay Records, with which singer/songwriter Jacques Brel was associated for most of the 1960s and '70s, released a compilation of recordings of his songs in March 2004 that differs significantly from this U.S. edition. The French version of Next Brel has 15 tracks to the American 12, but that doesn't mean simply that three tracks have been deleted. In fact, there are six tracks on the French album not found on the American one: "If We Only Have Love," by Dionne Warwick; "Amsterdam," by Anne Watts; "If You Go Away," by Emiliana Torrini; "Next," by Gavin Friday & the Man Seezer; "The Desperate Ones," by Nina Simone; and "Seasons in the Sun," by Terry Jacks (a number one hit in the U.S.).
Vitamin takes on the brood and sway of Depeche Mode with this string quartet tribute, running through nine of the band's songs with the aid of violin, cello, acoustic bass, viola, and a bit of percussion. Like most string interpretations of pop music, the album can grow tedious over the long haul. However, there's plenty to like incrementally, especially for fans. Highlights include "Personal Jesus," with its hint of mouth percussion during the breakdown, and the violins aping the tradeoff vocals of "Master and Servant." There are a few glaring omissions – "Everything Counts" and "Policy of Truth" among them. Even still, Depeche Mode completists should get a kick out of the novelty and slight decadence of this collection.
Charlie Sepúlveda is trumpeter of power and nuance. On this recording, Sepúlveda takes on the challenge of preserving culture without being trapped by it.
He can take a tried-and-true classic like "Besamé Mucho," and instead of falling into the routine he completely modernizes it, stripping the tune of his sometime over-emphasized bolero rhythm and makes something completely new and communicative.
As persistency goes, one must give credit where it is due to the Vitamin imprint. Their rigorous schedule of releases assures the public that there will be, at bare minimum, one to two releases per month paying homage to a current pop icon or legendary rock figure. With this installment, the label looks to honor one of grunge's most revered albums, if not the most revered album of the era: Nirvana's Nevermind. Stripped of the brutal percussion work, the squelching fierce attack of Kurt Cobain's guitar mastery and his trademark screams, the quartet find and emphasize layer after layer within the simplicity of Cobain's melodies and song arrangements. While some songs don't transfer over well in the process, others work quite nicely. While most people can easily dismiss this as a novelty (and to a degree, it is), there are interesting aspects to this album that the die-hard Nirvana fan will find intriguing and enjoyable.
Japanese release featuring modern eclectic Japanese acts covering the finest that German electronic Pioneers Kraftwerk ever created. Includes Buffalo Daughter doing the legendary 'Autobahn', plus interpretations of 'It's More FunTo Compute' and 'Showroom Dummies'.