Formed in the early '60s, Los Angeles R&B quintet the 5th Dimension first appeared as the Hi-Fi's before changing their name in 1966 to better reflect the changing landscape of popular music. Their interpretations of some of the era's popular hits as well as songs by more obscure writers were radio mainstays in the late '60s and early '70s. This collection offers up most of their highest-charting and best-known singles like "Up, Up and Away," "Stoned Soul Picnic," and their chart-topping version of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" from the musical Hair. Working in multiple styles, these performances show just how versatile and dynamic the 5th Dimension were.
Following on from their glorious and lyrical collaborative work on Gone To Earth, David Sylvian and Robert Fripp produced the unexpectedly fiery and funky The First Day in 1993. Hypnotically groovy and intensely vicious, while showcasing Fripp's Soundscapes identity, the album marked a departure for Sylvian and can be more easily understood as a missing King Crimson link between Three Of A Perfect Pair and Thrak than a typical post-Japan Sylvian venture.
Guitarist Jim Matheos made his name as part of the seminal progressive metal outfit Fates Warning, but his occasional solo releases have taken an altogether different tack. Meditative, new age-style acoustic instrumentals were the order of the day on his solo debut…
Oliver Lieb was particularly influential via the first wave of European club trance that emerged in the 1990's, the melodic and more accessible cousin of techno… and the distinctive futuristic, techy quality of his trance productions also carries over into his downtempo and ambient albums, relatively few in number but exceptionally high in quality. "Constellation" (1993) was his first ambient album release. The title certainly makes explicit the deep space and sci-fi themes but the music itself is sophisticated and understated. The fourteen minute "Dimension X" is an absolutely gorgeous cosmic hymn with exquisitely layered melodic loops in the best Berlin-school ambient tradition and executed with a feather-soft touch. This stunningly accomplished track alone makes the album worth having.
You can't argue with a great concept: Songs sung by Frank Sinatra are interpreted by a slew of indie rock and punk bands. A great concept, but one that makes for truly (and gloriously) unpredictable results. Chairman of the Board is, of course, not a perfect record, but it offers up some true gems.
This cheerful holiday comedy, a surprise box office smash, featured a generous dollop of raunchy, crude humor and was greatly elevated by the presence of masterful performers in the lead roles. Jack Lemmon is John Gustafson, an ice-fishing Minnesota native who has been feuding with his neighbor and former best friend Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) for decades. The battle of wills between John and Max is characterized by crude name calling and harmless practical jokes. Max is unaware that John is having serious problems, chiefly that his daughter Melanie (Daryl Hannah) is experiencing marital woes and that his house is about to be confiscated by an officious IRS agent (Buck Henry). When it seems that John and Max may finally put aside their childish rivalry, however, sexy new neighbor Ariel (Ann-Margret) arrives and dates both men, pitting them against each other more fiercely than ever before. Despite their mutual loathing, the death of a friend, John's problems, and a budding romance between Max's son Jacob (Kevin Pollak) and Melanie may force the two old friends to reconcile.
For a man of such talent and influence, New Orleans piano legend James Booker is amazingly under-recorded. This disc and its partner (Spiders on the Keys) offer up some measure of what the folks of the Big Easy might have heard if they caught Booker on one of his "on" nights (he was a known drug user and inconsistent in his playing). He is at his best here (recorded at the Maple Leaf between 1972-1982), focused and intense in his playing, wildly passionate on both keyboards and vocals.