A stunningly sophisticated leap into modern musical textures, I'm Your Man re-establishes Leonard Cohen's mastery. Against a backdrop of keyboards and propulsive rhythms, Cohen surveys the global landscape with a precise, unflinching eye: the opening "First We Take Manhattan" is an ominous fantasy of commercial success bundled in crypto-fascist imagery, while the remarkable "Everybody Knows" is a cynical catalog of the land mines littering the surface of love in the age of AIDS.
The prototype for the later Cliff Richard Collection U.S. release, Private Collection is, in fact, a dramatically public one, compiling 24 of Cliff Richard's 31 British chart entries spanning the decade 1979-1988. Chronologically, "Green Light" and the monster "We Don't Talk Anymore" open the show; the festive "Mistletoe and Wine" closes it, and in between times, Richard's journey through some distinctly Elton John/Billy Joel-shaped territory finds him alternately unleashing some startlingly memorable material, and some surprisingly lackluster muck – just like Elton and Billy, in fact. From 1981, the awful "Daddy's Home" would not have been out of place flapping around his late '60s dog days; from 1980, "Carrie" stands proudly among his finest ever performances.
This album has an excellent performance by the Duke Ellington Orchestra at a time when its commercial fortunes were near the bottom. The struggles however are not reflected in the music, which is full of enthusiasm and creative invention with trumpeter Clark Terry, tenorman Paul Gonsalves and trombonist Britt Woodman (on "Theme for Trambean") standing out among the many stars during a well-paced program.
When PolyGram refused to release his 1983 record Shook in either the U.S. or England, Iain Matthews became disillusioned and decided to put his career on hold indefinitely. Following a stint as an A&R man for both Island and Windham Hill Records, he returned in 1988 with an album dedicated solely to the songs of Jules Shear. Issued by Windham Hill, Walking a Changing Line was the label's first vocal release, though it still retained touches of the label's trademark new age sound throughout.
This France-based singer became a popular actor and singer, master interpreter of his homeland's compositions. Yves Montand was an enormously popular singer in France, his adopted country, from the 1940s until his death. He also gave concerts around the world, but he was better-known internationally as an actor. Although outside France he is viewed largely as a film star, Montand occupies an important position as a post-war French popular singer. Largely because of the language barrier, his appeal as a singer was restricted largely to his own country, but there it was gigantic and continued without diminution throughout his life.
Alto/baritone saxophonist and composer Andy Laster was born in 1961, grew up on Long Island, and studied jazz at Seattle's Cornish Institute before moving to New York City in 1985. His first recording, Hippo Stomp, appeared on the Sound Aspects label in 1989. This album was followed by two more Sound Aspects releases, Twirler (1990) and the first eponymously named CD by Hydra (1994), one of Laster's key ongoing projects. During the 1990s Laster emerged as a unique and significant voice on the so-called "New York downtown music scene" that has also served as a launching pad for musicians like Dave Douglas, Tim Berne, and John Zorn.
Upon the release of their first single, "Chance to Desire," Radiorama immediately made an impression in European clubs with their quick-paced, simplistic beats paving the way for house music. They continued to release popular singles until they finally released their first full-length album, 1986's Desire and Vampires…
Johnny Winter returns to major-label distribution for the first time in eight years with The Winter of '88, released by Voyager Records via MCA. This is a project produced and engineered by Terry Manning, who also contributed some keyboards, and Manning's intent seems to have been to move Winter in a more commercial direction, specifically toward the synth-enhanced boogie of ZZ Top. That effect is particularly notable on the lead-off track, "Close to Me," and on "Show Me"; otherwise, Manning is more subtle. Still, after three straight blues albums for the independent Alligator Records label, Winter had established a pure blues pedigree, and a move back toward the mainstream may not sit well with his more purist fans. It isn't really that overt, for the most part, but this is clearly a more highly produced, more commercially intended record than any Winter has made since he left the CBS Records subsidiary Blue Sky after Raisin' Cain in 1980.