Best of October 2011: Reader picks include Transatlantic, the Original 7ven, Jon Anderson, Nils Lofgren

Here’s a look back at the Top 10 stories from last month on SomethingElseReviews.com, based on page views from our readers. Click through the titles for complete details …

No. 10JOHNNY WINTER – ROOTS: Johnny Winter returns to some of his earliest childhood favorites, and a few tracks from his first bar bands, on the aptly titled new project Roots. The Megaforce Records release boasts an all-star cast of guest artists performing tracks originally done by everyone from Elmore James to Bobby “Blue” Bland. “They’re songs I grew up really liking, things I was really influenced by,” Winter told us. “It’s very exciting, a record that really takes me back. All of those songs, I really identify with.” It shows.

No. 9SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: LOU REED AND METALLICA – LULU: This reminds me of when St. Anger came out. Sure, part of me liked that record just because of the fan backlash, but beyond that there was a kind of brutal and claustrophobic intensity that really dug in. And speaking of brutal, Frank Wedekind’s Lulu plays were drenched in it. So all of those comments about Reed’s “random mumblings” are more than a little off base. Me, I kinda dig it when Reed is croaking out “Jack, I beseech you!!” as the boys are grinding away behind him.

No. 8SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: KISS: News that Kiss is back in the studio, working toward the 2012 release of a new project called Monster, got us scurrying back to our old album collections. And not just because of those fond memories of playing air guitar with former guitarist Ace Frehley during Kiss Alive. Bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons said something interesting about the sessions: “This new record feels heavier than (2009?s) Sonic Boom. It feels like a connection between Destroyer and Revenge. Those are but two of our favorites.

No. 7SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: AEROSMITH: As Steven Tyler confirmed rumors that there will be a new Aerosmith album released next spring, and then took a violent spill that left him missing two front teeth, we took a moment to reevaluate things. Here are a group lesser-known deep cuts from this cool-rocking band, most (but not all!) of which come from their creative peak in the 1970s. Well, and one minor hit that still holds rather fond memories.

No. 6SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: JAZZ LEGEND JIMMY COBB: Jimmy Cobb, the lone survivor of legendary jazz dates featuring Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dinah Washington, Montgomery and others, continues to furiously drum — even while carrying the torch. The 82-year-old’s newest album is called Remembering Miles. Cobb has also begun a tour celebrating the music of Coltrane. Still, that only tells part of Cobb’s life around jazz.

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No. 5:NILS LOFGREN – OLD SCHOOL: It’s unclear when Nils Lofgren and the E Street Band, after the devastating loss of two members since 2008, will reconvene to make new music. That’s left Lofgren alone with his thoughts. The result is a well-conceived journey — not just through grief, and through anger, but also toward acceptance.

No. 4SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: ROLLING STONES, “NO SPARE PARTS”: “No Spare Parts,” a Rolling Stones song that’s been bouncing around on bootlegs for years, will finally find official release on Nov. 21 as part of a new boxed-set treatment for the band’s 1978 album Some Girls. It might have provided an important counterbalance on that brash, shit-talkingly frenetic project. The record’s one true weakness, back then, was that it lacked a certain musical vulnerability that’s always made the Rolling Stones’ outsized bravado ring true.


No. 3ONE TRACK MIND: JON ANDERSON, “OPEN”: When Jon Anderson told us earlier in the year that he was writing more “Yes-style music” these days, this — even more than his well-received subsequent solo release — was what most people had in mind: A conceptually epic piece, filled with wonderment, musical twists and a theme as broad as it is hopeful. Quite frankly, this is what Jon Anderson does. And it’s terrifically engaging, after too long spent fitting his muse into the ever-dilating strictures of Yes’ modern-day prog-pop, to hear Anderson doing it again.

No. 2THE ORIGINAL 7VEN, AKA THE TIME – CONDENSATE: The seven initial members of The Time assembled by the Purple One in 1981 are back together, in everything but name only. Their official name now? The Original 7ven. And they’ve returned with a fresh, new record of urban music made by a real band. When’s the last time you heard that? And from a group whose only goal was to make you smile and laugh while causing your ass to shake uncontrollably? It’s been way too long, I’ll bet. It’s Time to get back to that kind of music.

No. 1TRANSATLANTIC – MORE NEVER IS ENOUGH: The modern-day prog supergroup Transatlantic is revealed — through antics both during sound check and on stage (Portnoy stage dives!) — to be complete and utter fans of their chosen throwback format. Over the course of this gala release, they revel in all of progressive rock’s dizzying musical intrigues, but also all its fundamental (and, heck, still sometimes fun) excesses. The band has already done much to update a genre sometimes badly in need of a middle-aged facelift. More Never Is Enough shows they came into this with a deep understanding, and an even deeper appreciation, of its outlandishly imaginative, charmingly eccentric history. And they’re not afraid to celebrate that, too.

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