Jesus of Cool 30th Anniversary Edition
I guess I'm officially elderly, because I still have my vinyl LP of the album that was released in the U.S. as Pure Pop for Now People in 1978. Back then, punk and new wave were still fringe, and fairly frightening to label execs, and apparently there was no way Columbia was going to release an album that proclaimed Lowe the “Jesus” of anything. Jesus of Cool, in its “pure” form was only available on Stiff Records in the UK. Now, thanks to Yeproc, the album is here, with its original title, packaging and sequence, and 10 bonus tracks to boot.
In whatever order you play these tunes, Jesus is a classic, showcasing the artist's reverence for rock ‘n’ roll (“Heart of the City”) and irreverence for the music business (“Music for Money”). The arrangements are straightforward, with Lowe's elegant vocals out in front of various configurations of the great musicians who were part of his circle. At that time, he was an in-demand producer as well as performer, so many of his clients and friends appear, including drummers Pete Thomas, Steve Goulding and Bobby Irwin; guitarists Martin Belmont, John McPhee, Larry Wallis and Dave Edmunds; keyboardists Steve Nieve and Bob Andrews, and more. Thirty years later, on the rare occasion that he tours, Lowe fans still shout for chestnuts like “Marie Provost” and “Cruel to Be Kind,” and it's a joy to listen to Jesus the way the artist/producer intended. But I'm not giving up my Columbia LP; the photo of Lowe playing in front of a gold lamé curtain in a green Riddler suit is well worth the babysitting money I paid for it.
Remastering producer: Gregg Geller. Remastering engineer: Vic Anesini/Sony Music Studios (NYC). Original recording credits at mixonline.com.
— Barbara Schultz
The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis
If you didn't get a chance to attend, listen to, watch or find any other in a number of ways to check out the multi-city Live Earth concerts, then grab this CD/2-DVD package; the tracks (in bundled form) are also available from a number of digital retailers, including iTunes. The CD showcases great performances of mainly hit songs from from Smashing Pumpkins, John Mayer, Metallica, Rihanna and more. I only wish that the powers that be had chosen more adventurous tracks from each artist. Was “Wanted Dead or Alive” the most interesting Bon Jovi performance to choose? Or “Intergalactic” from the Beastie Boys? But, overall, it's a great collection for a great cause.
Mixers: Stuart Price, Tim Summerhayes, Jay Vicari, Serban Ghenea, James Guthrie, Guy Charbonneau, Peter Cobbin, Obie Obrien, Beastie Boys and Jon Weiner. Mastering: Bob Ludwig/Gateway. More credits at mixonline.com.
Sticks and Stones
The jam band moe. are on a roll. Their last three CDs — Wormwood, The Conch and now this one — all corral some of the group's legendary live power, while also showing real record-making craft. There are hooks galore, well-rendered harmonies, typically great guitar interplay…and tons of energy. This time, the band wrote most of the songs in the studio, so the tunes haven't gone through their usual live evolution. The result is more-concise (10 songs in 40 minutes!), but they're not stiff; they feel fully realized. There's also lots of variety: riff-heavy rock, the sumptuous ballad “September,” the anthemic “Raise a Glass,” and my favorite this time out: an instrumental called “Zed Naught Z” that sounds like Zappa-meets-Quicksilver but is unmistakably moe.
Produced by moe. and John Siket. Engineer/ mixer: John Siket. Recorded at The Cathedral (North Egremont, MA). Additional recording at The Magic Shop (NYC). Mixed at Allaire Studios (Shokan, NY). Mastering: Bob Ludwig/Gateway.
— Blair Jackson
Before Eddie Vedder there was Bob Mould, and the former Hüsker Dü and Sugar frontman is still a powerful voice for thinking-people's rock. In his new album, District Line, Mould waxes poetic about growing older, but as always, he musically attacks his subject with passion and power. A couple of songs have semi-danceable grooves and some moderately processed vocals, but there's no big budget or big production here. Mould recorded much of this self-produced album in a converted warehouse using a mobile rig, and the keys to his sound remain his hard-strumming guitar and deep voice. As he's done for nearly three decades, this singer/songwriter can still make college kids stand at attention.
PLAY: Must Play
Again and Again
Producer: Mould. Recording engineers: Frank Marchand and Brendan Canty. Mixer: Mould. Studios: Granary Music and Blindspot (Washington, D.C.), Waterford Digital, (Millersville, MD). Mastering: Jim Wilson/Airshow (Boulder, CO).
— Barbara Schultz
KEN EMERSON & FRIENDS
Slack & Steel Kauai Style
(Cord International/ Hana-Ola/)
Even if I weren't hopelessly in love with the island of Kauai, I'd still think this is one of the best Hawaiian albums I've heard in a couple of years. A master of slack key and Hawaiian steel styles, Emerson and his friends (including guitarist/bassist Pancho Graham, blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite, Kauai residents Todd Rundgren and Grateful Dead percussionist Bill Kreutzmann) roll through a set of recent originals and Hawaiian tunes spanning more than a century. Then, there's Bob Marley's “Small Axe,” Santo & Johnny's “Sleepwalk” and the theme from the surf classic Endless Summer. The guitars shimmer like the sun on Kilihiwai Bay, the mood is relaxed as a family luau, and all is well in this idyllic world.
Producers: Michael Cord, Ken Emerson. Engineers: Emerson, Ron Pendragon, Harry Gale, John Hawthorne, David Jenkins. Studios: Treble in Paradise, Hi Fat Tuesday, Tin Roof, Rockville, Dave's Sound Lab, Route 44. Mastering: Lee Herschberg.
— Blair Jackson