Sights & Sounds: New Music & Imagery for Your Eyes & Ears

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, National Music,   From Issue 704   By: Scott Baker

27th May, 2010     0

In 2010 the music industry has been motivating in every direction in an attempt to capitalize the ears of anyone that still searches out distinct music and video. Once again, Sights and Sounds has found itself going under the radar for some hard to find gems, along with brilliant new work from some familiar faces you won’t hear on many mid-Michigan radio stations (think Sirius XM and big cities!) that have spilled out.

Flashing back to 1990, just as the world was coming out of the big ’80s English music festival phases, a who’s-who of British artists jumped at the chance to perform free at Knebworth, raising money for the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and Brit School of Performing Arts.       Originally released in 1990, the select cuts from the show get the 20th Anniversary re-issue for the event hailed as “The Best British Rock Concert of All Time.” Live At Knebworth sounds as incredible and varied as ever with acts ranging from Dire Straits, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, joining Tears For Fears, Status Quo, Genesis, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant and Paul McCartney among others. Continuing the tradition of giving sales of the release back to each charity, each Knebworth purchase will continue to help raise money.

Coming late last year, The Rolling Stones also celebrated with a 40th Anniversary of their epic concert release, Get your Ya-Ya’s Out! In grandiose fashion, the Stones have fueled the reputation of the concert with a Deluxe and Super Deluxe edition Box Set of the historic live show, recorded over different nights at Madison Square Garden.  Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones In Concert—40th Anniversary Sets contain a remastered version of the gig, with the added bonus of additional tracks and a DVD. To add more historic perspective to one of the greatest shows ever recorded (one must remember this is guitarist Mick Taylor-era of the Stones, November 1969), the sets from B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner both appear for the first time to round out the listening experience. Additional tracks from the Stones set include Prodigal Son, You Gotta Move, Under My Thumb, I’m Free, and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. The bonus DVD contains a film made by Albert and David Maysles, with footage of each of the unreleased mentioned songs. Backstage and additional film has been added, sweetening the pot of one of the greatest Stones projects ever.

And if that isn’t enough for you, The Stones have also just released a re-mastered version of their classic Exile On Main Street, replete with additional and never before heard material from the original sessions, along with a Bonus DVD.

Long time fans of progressive rock will have recognized the release of Marillion’s latest studio album, Less Is More. It is an epic acoustic re-creation of eleven of the group’s back catalog favorites. Go!, Out Of This World, The Space, Hard As Love, Quartz, Memory Of Water and This Is The 21st Century, flank four studio and two live bonus tracks. Still fronted by the extraordinary Steve Hogarth who joined the band following vocalist Fish’s era, the band have come to master the art of acoustics in the studio, with the songs exploring every inch of the speaker system upon listening. Always fun on headphones, Marillion never cease to amaze and tantalize the ears. Once again they continue to show unparalleled maturity in their music.

Spoon’s Transference is one of 2010’s most intriguing listens. Pulling and prodding with a unique sound all of its own; Spoon delivered a self-produced pop masterpiece.  Following their masterful breakthrough, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Transference has the ability to keep the listener engaged with a mix of blatant grooving over eleven tracks that make repeat listening essential. In a day and age of here and gone song styles, Spoon have concocted a brew all of their own and can maintain time in the CD player.

Peter Wolf hasn’t missed a step when it comes to his solo career, around the world of the J. Geils Band. Midnight Souvenirs is his latest solo disc, released in early April and touts a wonderful blend of R&B and haunting storytelling that only Wolf can conceive. Following in the shadows of 2002’s Sleepless and 1998’s Fool’s Parade, the disc works with much thanks to Will Jennings--a Wolf writing collaborator who sparked the two previous albums as well.

While his solo releases are as sporadic as the handful of J. Geils reunions over the past few years, Wolf never lets anybody down and this disc has the making of one of the year’s best. Top it off with duets with Neko Case, Shelby Lynne, and Merle Haggard, and you have a classic recipe for success.

The Dave Rawlings Machine is rootsy and rocking! Who, you may ask? Gillian Welch’s right hand man has gone and flipped the marquee. With Welch backing Rawlings on this outing, the Machine has put out A Friend Of A Friend and it is a mighty nine-song epic.  Rawling’s vocals cry and sway like birds on the wing and with his main-woman next to him and it’s a vocal extravaganza. Even better is the instrumentation that turns on a dime from acoustic picking to all out wailing. The covers of Conor Oberst’s Method Acting into Neil Young’s Cortez The Killer is to die for. Rawlings listens and leads like no other front man can. This is truly an outstanding release and worthy of any music listener’s collection.

Wiretree is a band from Austin, TX, that has etched out a path all of their own. Releasing Luck (sophomore full-length CD) late last year, the group has a way of blending tone and style from different eras into a modern mosaic. Led by Kevin Peroni, the band is trying to stretch out across the States and will do just fine with this melodic and catchy disc. The music is easy to digest and is a cause for repeating. Overall it is an excellent production and a welcome gift from a friend of the band. Check them out at and let them know that they’re being heard north of Texas.

Free Forever is the long-awaited two-DVD set from Free, the Paul Rodgers/Paul Kossoff/Andy Fraser/Simon Kirke outfit that preceded Bad Company. Free was the standard that many classic rock fans have come to accept as the best of the best. Simply put, they were a musical trio with a vocalist that, as time has come to prove, can sing with anyone and still to this day, sound like he always has. Cleaned up video clips from the Beat Club in Germany, UK’s Granada TV, and the epic and complete audio (and the only three video clips) from the Isle Of Wight Festival shine on Free Forever. Kossoff’s Les Paul rocks and cuts as tone dripped from the man’s fingers. Fraser plays lead bass on songs such as Mr. Big, long before many electric bassists stepped up to the plate. Interviews and special clips round out the outstanding set that Rodger dedicated to Kossoff in the liner notes. Finally, Free Forever should be Rock 101 for inspiring musicians.

Pinckney, M—sandwiched between the trip from Brighton to Ann Arbor, is the home of Gil Clark who has just mailed out the advance of his new album Thanks For The Ride. Clark has made the troubadour acoustic rounds for over 25 years now. At one point in time, singer/songwriter legend Townes Van Zandt told Clark that Clark had one of the best albums he had ever heard, playing the cassette from coast to coast while on tour. Clark was also right hand man to Rob Tyner from 1980 until the time of his death. Tyner and Clark would play acoustic shows that featured the MC5 vocalist playing harpsichord.

Thanks For The Ride is an all-out culmination of experience and wit that the southern-sounding Clark has compiled over his lifetime. With a crack-backing band and real, ‘home-felt’ vocals, Clark has upped himself continuously in his own writing. This CD will be one to watch for on the Michigan ‘year-end’ lists, as it will probably be towards the very top, if it can fall into the right hands.

Listening ahead, Indy singer/songwriter Damien Jurado has added a band to his namesake (D.J. and his Saint Bartlett Band) and his new release Saint Bartlett is a lush world of sound, a more orchestral arrangement this outing. Band-style interplay between just Jurado and his label mate on Secretly Canadian, Richard Swift (the two make quite a palate of sounds) mixed with Jurado’s moody vocals propel each track somewhere Jurado has never entered previously. Another great platter slated for repeat listens, this is one of those albums recorded in just one week that let the world know there is still hope for true musicians and their incredible creativity. Saint Bartlett is due May 24. Seek this masterpiece.


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