For something less traditional but no less killing, try Melvin Taylor & The Slack Band’s Bang That Bell. A post-Hendrix exercise in funky-blue wah-wah wailing, this one has more allusions to Prince and the Isley Brothers than Muddy and the Wolf. In the course of a single tune (“Another Bad Day”) he can blend jazzy, Wes Montgomery-styled octaves with over-the-top wah-wah work and metalesque speed picking. But in spite of all the virtuosic six-string technique, Taylor can also get up into some nasty real-deal shuffles and earthy funk, as he proves so convincingly on “It’s Later than You Think,” which features some brilliant harmonica playing by Sugar Blue, and on a super-funky updating of the Earl King classic “Trick Bag.” And he digs into a slow blues, “A Quitter Never Wins,” with fangs bared. The closer, “Even Trolls Love Rock & Roll,” is a wild fretboard scorcher featuring guest guitar slinger Eric Gales. A tremendous guitarist and soulful singer, Taylor is a major versatile talent on the crossover blues-rock circuit that includes the likes of Robert Cray, Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Return of Saturn is an almost defiantly mature record about two things: Stefani's exploration of a troubled romance and her own romantic ideals, plus a serious attempt by the group to not only keep new wave alive, but to make that adolescent music relevant to an older audience. It's a high concept, but Return of Saturn is filled with satisfying contradictions. It's melodic, but deceptively complex; it can seem frothy, but it's never frivolous. No Doubt's desire to expand the emotional template of new wave is the perfect match for Stefani's themes – she may be writing about love, but she's not writing adolescent love songs. Fragments of her teenaged romantic fantasies remain, but she's writing as a woman in her late 20s. She's tired of being another "ex-girlfriend" – she wants to fall in love, get married, and have a family. It's a subject that's surprisingly uncommon in pop music, which would alone make Return of Saturn an interesting album. What makes it a successful one is that the band delivers an aural equivalent of Stefani's lyrical themes.
The Café del Mar is perhaps most known around the world for its chill-out music compilations. The songs are described as balearic ambient, easy listening music. The collections of the music played at the café were first sold on cassette at the end of the 1980s. In 1994, the first official “Café del Mar” CD was released, which included works by world-renowned artists. Following the great success of the first release, a total of 18 volumes of the main compilation series have been published.
Vee Jay's 1964 album John Lee Hooker on Campus is titled to sound like a live recording but it isn't. As part of the Collectables Vee Jay reissue campaign, these 12 tracks originally tried to capitalize on Hooker's emergence on the coffeehouse/college tours he was involved in at the time. This is an electric album that contains excellent material from Hooker, even though the occasional background singers get in the way, attempting to modernize his gritty blues with a smoother soul sound. All of the Vee Jay reissues of John Lee Hooker material are worth having and are budget priced as a bonus.
The Ultimate Christmas Album, Vol. 5 collects more pop and rock holiday tunes, this time venturing further into the '70s and '80s with songs like Paul McCartney & Wings' "Wonderful Christmastime," Hall & Oates' "Jingle Bell Rock," and Barry Manilow's "It's Just Another New Year's Eve." The collection still features traditional pop chestnuts, including Dean Martin's "A Marshmallow World," Johnny Mathis' "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)," and Andy Williams' "Sleigh Ride," but this volume's overall feel is more contemporary than classic. Other highlights include Manhattan Transfer's "A Christmas Love Song," the Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping," the Tokens' "Little Drummer Boy," and the Jackson 5's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." If The Ultimate Christmas Album, Vol. 5 isn't necessarily the most coherent volume in the series, it's certainly one of the most interesting.
After what was reportedly a commercial failure in the more straight-ahead, symphonically oriented Les Contes du Singe Fou, Cyrille decided to take over the production duties on the next album, Visions, and imbibed it with a slightly new musical direction based on Eastern philosophical and religious precepts. The result is a generally varied work that retains the more structured vibe of the previous album. Cyrille Verdeaux's piano and keyboard melodies are again the dominant force on Visions, and are supplemented by the usual eclectic blend of instrumentation. …