THE BEST REISSUES OF 2016-PART 4.

THE BEST REISSUES OF 2016-PART 4.

Gordon Lightfoot-Dream Sweet Rose, Midnight and Salute.

For Gordon Lightfoot, the seventies proved to be the most successful period of his career. Commercial success and critical acclaim were constant companions for the man that was dubbed “Canada’s greatest songwriter.” This success many thought would continue into the eighties. Gordon Lightfoot’s first albums of the eighties was 1980s Dream Sweet Rose, which was followed by Midnight in 1981 and Salute in 1983. These three albums were reissued by BGO Records as a two CD set.

As the eighties dawned, Canada’s “folk-rock legend” Gordon Lightfoot decided to change direction on Dream Sweet Rose. He headed in the direction of AOR. Despite its slick polished sound, this didn’t go down well with his fans. Despite this, Gordon Lightfoot headed further down the marked AOR on Midnight and Salute. However, he doesn’t turn his back on country and folk. As a result, Shadows and Salute are both eclectic albums, which show the different sides to Gordon Lightfoot. Sadly, neither Shadows nor Salute were particularly successful, and are two of the hidden gems in Gordon Lightfoot’s extensive back-catalogue.

They’re a reminder of the man dubbed “Canada’s greatest songwriter” during the seventies. Despite the lack of success this trio of albums are slick, polished and eclectic. Seamlessly  Gordon Lightfoot switches between and incorporates everything from AOR, country, folk, folk-rock and rock. They’re a reminder, if any was needed, of why Gordon Lightfoot was and remains, “Canada’s greatest songwriter” and “folk rock legend.”

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Holger Czukay-Movie!

When Holger Czukay released his sophomore album in 1979, it was entitled Movies. Thirty-seven years later, and much has changed. Movies which is new entitled Movie!, was reissued by Gronland Records. It comes complete with a new album cover, and an instrumental version of Cool In The Pool. The original version of Cool In The Pool is a truly irresistible, hook-laden track. This whets the listener’s appetite for the rest of Movie.

It features a musical pioneer at the peak of his powers, on a genre-melting album. Holger combines elements of Afro-Reggae, avant-garde, disco, funk,  pop, progressive rock, rock and world music. These genres are combined by Holger, as he incorporates a myriad of musical instruments, sounds and samples. Indeed, sampling and editing, which Holger pioneers back in the early days of Can, played an important part in the sound and success of Movie! 

Samples are part of a musical jigsaw which Holger had to put together.Seamlessly, Holger puts all various parts together in a way that the music on Movie! makes sense. The result is an album that’s variously beautiful, captivating, cinematic, dramatic, hook-laden, irresistible and melodic. After three year years away from making music, Holger Czukay returned with Movie! a career defining album. Movie! is the album that marked the return of one the most innovative and progressive musicians of his generation, the comeback King Holger Czukay.

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James Luther Dickinson-Dixie Fried.

Nowadays, James Luther Dickinson is better known as Jim Dickinson, who produced everyone from Big Star to Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan. Back in 1972, Jim Dickinson released his debut album Dixie Fried on Atlantic Records. It could’ve launched his solo career. However, by then, fate seemed to have conspire against Jim Dickinson. He was persona non gratis at Atlantic Records. They had already held back on releasing the album for a year, and when  Dixie Fried was released. Atlantic Records then failed to promote Dixie Fried. Unsurprisingly their half hearted promotion of Dixie Friend meant the album failed commercially. It was a case of what might have been?

Dixie Fried showcased a truly talented singer-songwriter. He combines Americana, country, jazz, gospel, jazz, rock and soul on Dixie Fried. The influence of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Dr John can also be heard. Each of these artists influence James Luther Dickinson, as with the help of a multitalented band and backing vocalists, he records what’s a potent and heady brew, Dixie Fried, which is a true hidden gem of an album.

Sadly, for far too long, James Luther Dickinson’s debut album Dixie Fried was unavailable on CD. Last year Dixie Fried was reissued by Future Days Recordings. This is a welcome reissue. Maybe somewhat belatedly, Dixie Fried, a delicious musical potpourri of genres and influences will find the audience James Luther Dickinson’s debut album so richly deserves, and should’ve enjoyed in 1972.

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Jethro Tull-Aqualung-Vinyl.

In 1971, Jethro Tull released what would become their first classic album, Aqualung. It was Jethro Tull’s most ambitious and cerebral album, Aqualung. It was a concept album that examined ”the distinction between religion and God.” This seemed an unlikely subject for an album, even a seventies concept album. 

It found Jethro Tull combined progressive rock with folk, blues, hard rock and even psychedelia. The music features Jethro Tull at their most cerebral, and became the band’s most successful album. In America alone, Aqualung sold three million copies, and seven million copies worldwide. Suddenly, Jethro Tull were one of the biggest selling bands in the world.

The success of Aqualung was a game-changer for Jethro Tull. They were now one of the biggest bands opt the seventies. That’s where they remained for much of seventies. For a while, it seemed that everything Jethro Tull touched to silver, gold or platinum. However, Aqualung was one of Jethro Tull’s finest hours, and set the bar high for future albums

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Jethro Tull-Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die-Vinyl.

For Record Store Day 2016, Rhino released Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die. It was originally released in 1976, and was another concept album where Jethro Tull told the story of an ageing rock star, who found fame when musical tastes changed. This was prophetic.

By the time Jethro Tull released Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die, they were one of the most successful progressive rock bands. However, music was changing, with the birth of punk. This impacted on sales of the Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die, and there were no gold, silver or platinum discs. Since then, Too Old To Rock ’N’ Roll: To Young To Die is regarded as a hidden gem in Jethro Tull’s back-catalogue. It’s also one of the most underrated albums in Jethro Tull’s illustrious back-catalogue.

On Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die Jethro Tull combined  folk, jazz and classical with progressive rock. The result was a cohesive, cerebral concept album that deserved to find a wider audience. Alas, it wasn’t to be. As a result, Jethro Tull never released another concept album. That was a great shame, as they were past masters of the concept album. A reminder of that is Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die. a hidden gem in Jethro Tull’s back-catalogue.

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Jimi Hendrix-Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69.

In April 1969, Jimi Hendrix embarked upon a new chapter in his career with The Band Of Gypsy’s. They were been booked to appear at The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, where they stole show with a breathtaking performance. After the Band Of Gypsy’s barnstorming performance at Woodstock, where they stole the show, Jimi’s new band experimented with the expanded lineup. However, the Band Of Gypsy’s were reduced to a  trio for four appearances at the Fillmore East on 31st December and 1st January 1970.

The first of these shows is documented on Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69. It features another breathtaking performance. Everything from blues, funk, jazz, psychedelia, R&B, rock and soul were combined by the Band Of Gypsy’s. They even pioneered funk rock, and took diversions into fusion, as the Band Of Gypsy’s showcased their versatility and talent. Jimi’s finest moment comes mid-set, on Machine Gun, where his guitar unleashed a myriad of sounds. It’s akin to being caught in a battlefield. A newly enlivened Jimi Hendrix reaches new heights,

 He also embraced his role as the Band Of Gypsy’s bandleader, leading  from the front, playing with flair and flamboyance, and urgency, invention and imagination. Jimi Henrdrix unleashes a masterful, virtuoso and spellbinding performance throughout  Machine Gun: The Fillmore East First Show 12/31/69, which is a reminder of one rock’s greatest every guitarists at his creative zenith.

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John Marty-Solid Air-Vinyl.

During his long and illustrious career, John Martyn released two classic albums for Island Records, including Solid Air in 1973. It was reissued twice during 2016. In May, Island Records reissued Solid Air as part of their Half-Speed Mastering series. Then Universal-Island Records Ltd supplied HMV 1,000 copies of Solid Air on green vinyl for their Vinyl Week initiative. This offered another opportunity to discover Solid Air.

When John Martyn released Solid Air in 1973, it was hailed a an almost flawless album and instant classic. He sets the bar high on the album opener Solid Air, a poignant, beautiful and deeply moving song he hd written about written about his friend Nick Drake, who had recently passed away. This set the bar high. John Martyn maintains his high standard on  Over the Hill, John’s cover of Skip Spence’s Don’t Want To Know, Go Down Easy, Dreams By The Sea and Man In The Station. They’re are among the highlights of Solid Air where John Martyn switches between folk, blues and rock..

The result is captivating and near flawless album where one is transfixed, enthralled by its beauty and subtlety. Solid Air is akin to a magical musical journey with John Martyn, who came of age on Solid Air, which is a seminal album. Four years later, he released his second classic album One World. However, Solid Air, which is a timeless classic will always be remembered as John Martyn’s finest hour.

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Judy Collins-In My Life, Wildflowers and Whales and Nightingales.

By 1970, Judy Collins had released  eight studio albums and one live album. She was now one of the most successful folk singers of her generations. Her last four albums had been certified gold. This remarkable run began with 1966s In My Life, and included 1967s Wildflowers, 1968s Who Knows Where the Time Goes? and ended with 1970s Whales and Nightingales. Three of these albums, In My Life, Wildflowers and Whales and Nightingales were released by BGO Records as a two CD set. They’re a reminder of a golden period in Judy Collins career.

Judy Collins was a pioneer of folk, who had flew the flag for folk throughout the sixties. That’s despite the onslaught of pop, rock and psychedelia. Still, Judy stood firm. The only time she wavered, was when she released Who Knows Where the Time Goes? It saw Judy enjoy a dalliance with country rock and folk rock. However, folk music was her true love, and she returned to the fold for Whales and Nightingales in 1970. Judy’s first album of the seventies was a triumphant returned, for the First Lady of folk.

She had released some of the best music of her career between 1966 and 1970.  By then, Judy was one of the best interpretative folk singers.  Proof of that can be found on In My Life, Wildflowers and Whales and Nightingales, which are the perfect introduction to Judy Collins, who is, without doubt, one of the greatest singer-songwriters of her generation.

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Klaus Schulze-Cyborg.

When Klaus Schulze released his sophomore album Cyborg in 1973, most critics recognised that it was an important, innovative and influential album, it passed most record buyers by. Especially in Klaus’ native Germany, where he was one of a new wave of musicians who were writing a new chapter in the country’s musical history. It was only later that most German’s discovered the music of the Berlin School and Krautrock.

Cyborg which was reissue by MiG Music was later regarded as a Berlin School classic. However, Cyborg also references Krautrock, plus ambient, avant-garde, drone, experimental and musique concrète. This genre-melting album features Klaus Schulze at his innovative best.  He pushes musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes way beyond. To do this, Klaus used his various modified musical instruments and his excerpts from his tapes from Colluquim Musica Orchestra. These tapes added “spice” to this captivating genre classic. 

It’s variously understated, broody, moody, dark, dramatic and gothic. Other times, the music is futuristic and full of otherworldly and sci-fi sounds. Sometimes, though, the music is beautiful, elegiac and ethereal. Occasionally, the music is eerie, mesmeric and ruminative. Just like Klaus Schulze’s debut solo album Irrlicht, Cyborg has a cinematic sound. Both features cinematic, multilayered  soundscapes. They are full of nuances, subtleties and surprises aplenty. The result is Cyborg, an epic cinematic space symphony, which features musical maverick Klaus Schulze at his innovative best on a timeless genre classic.

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Klaus Schultze-Irrlicht.

Being a member of a band didn’t seem to suit Klaus Schulze. He had been a member of Tangerine Dream and then Ash Ra Tempel. However, Klaus Schulze found that the endless discussions got in the way of the important thing, making music. So Klaus Schulze embarked upon a solo career, and released his debut album Irrlicht in April 1972. 

When  Irrlicht was released, it was welll received by some critics. Many critics failed to “get” Irrlicht. Quite simply, Irrlicht was one the most innovative albums of 1972. The music on Irrlicht was understated, broody, moody, dark, dramatic and gothic. It was also chilling, eerie, meditative and ruminative. Constantly, Irrlicht has a cinematic sound and is like a twenty-first Century space symphony from a true musical pioneer, Klaus Schulze. 

He was making tentative steps in what would be a long and illustrious solo career. That career has lasted six decades and over sixty albums. Nowadays, Klaus Schulze is now regarded as a musical pioneer whose music has influenced several generations of musicians. Klaus Schulze is also regarded as one of the most important and influential artists in the Berlin School of electronic music. His groundbreaking debut album Irrlicht, which was reissued by MiG, is regarded as a Berlin School classic.

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