Best of November 2011: Reader picks include Jethro Tull, Paul Motian and Rush

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Here’s a look back at the Top 10 stories from last month on SomethingElseReviews.com, based on page views from our readers.

For the first time, two items from last month’s poll return for a second run — Transatlantic (which was the top reader pick from October 2011 at SER) and our review of Nils Lofgren’s new solo release. Lofgren actually appears twice on the November list, with a follow-up interview also making the Top 10.

Click through the titles for complete details …

10: ROLLING STONES – SOME GIRLS LIVE IN DALLAS ’78 DVD (2011): With Some Girls, the Rolling Stones embraced those mainstream undercurrents, moving as far as they yet had from the earthen rhythm and blues that provided a bed-rock inspiration for the band’s sound. After a few years of unfocused meanderings following the druggy somnambulism of Exile on Main Street, the Rolling Stones were again playing with a knifing sharpness — incorporating sinewy, rattling elements of punk and the sleek ironies of disco. Best of all, the full-on, balls-out Some Girls was perfectly uncluttered — no horn section, no guest stars like Billy Preston. That gives this subsequent live set from the summer of 1978 a chance to build off the record’s latent energy, rather than fruitlessly try to match it. — Nick DeRiso

9: U2 – ACHTUNG BABY (1991; 2011 deluxe edition reissue): Who lost their mind here? The band, their manager, the label? Was it all of them at once? I don’t get this one at all. Many others don’t get this one. One of the absolute classic albums of the last two decades and they completely screwed this one up, seemingly out of greed. What a mess, what a stupid, stupid mess of a release. Where the previous expanded remasters of their albums had proven to be worth the extra money to invest in, this one makes it seem kind of like they were just warming us up with those to try and slip the worst possible release into our hands at the highest price possible. — Tom Johnson

8: SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: NILS LOFGREN: Nils Lofgren, the longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, talked to us about his terrific new album, signature moments alongside Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Neil Young — with whom Lofgren began recording while still a teen — and the lasting importance of songs. Not licks, Lofgren reminds, but songs … — Nick DeRiso

7: ONE TRACK MIND: JOURNEY, “FEELING THAT WAY/ANYTIME” (1978; 2011 reissue): Journey’s new Greatest Hits Vol. 2 is, in some ways, more interesting than the band’s initial best-of compilation — if only because its songs haven’t necessarily become ear-wormingly familiar. Perhaps the most potent examples are these twin 1978 gems from Infinity, Journey’s first project with Steve Perry. His appearance would immediately transform an interesting, if often unfocused jam band — co-led by Santana alums Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon — into a hit-making juggernaut. This album easily became the band’s biggest seller to date, as Journey moved toward a tighter focus on songcraft. What leaps out, listening to the newly remastered version of “Feeling That Way/Anytime” on Greatest Hits Vol. 2, is the brilliant harmonic intertwining of Perry and Rolie — a lost treasure for a band that only had both lead singers for three years. — Nick DeRiso

6: SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: ALAN WHITE: We caught up with drummer Alan White as Yes prepared to reconvene for the next leg of a lengthy tour in support of its comeback album Fly From Here. Besides playing and touring behind the legendary progressive rock band’s first new album in a decade, White is also featured on a terrific new trio recording called Levin Torn White, featuring guitarist David Torn and bassist Tony Levin. White joined us for the latest SER Sitdown to talk about his long history with Yes, a band he’s drummed for since 1972; that intriguing new trio project with Levin and Torn; and his memorable stint between 1969-71 with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band — a musical relationship that began when the Beatles were still together … — Nick DeRiso

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5: TRANSATLANTIC – MORE NEVER IS ENOUGH DVD (2011): The More Never Is Enough package, released on Oct. 25 by Radiant/Metal Blade, includes audio and images from the group’s date at 013 in Tilburg, as well as audio from the tour-closing show at the Academy in Manchester, England. Frontman Neal Morse has called the Tilburg show, held May, 20, 2010, “among the best concerts I’ve ever played in my whole life.” The Manchester concert followed on May 22. — Nick DeRiso

4: NILS LOFGREN – OLD SCHOOL (2011): It was unclear, as this album was completed, what the future held for the E Street Band. That left Nils Lofgren alone with his thoughts — about life, about growing older, about losing two fellow members Bruce Springsteen’s backing band. The result is a well-conceived journey — not just through grief, and through anger, but also toward acceptance. — Nick DeRiso

3: RUSH – TIME MACHINE 2011: LIVE IN CLEVELAND (2011): The title is the concept — though isn’t every concert really an excuse to run through a band’s history? Well, in this case, Rush used this opportunity to, as they really have been doing each tour lately, rifle through catalog and pull out some dusty old gems (“Time Stand Still,” reggae “Working Man,” “Marathon,” “Subdivisions,” “Stick It Out” and “Leave That Thing Alone”) and even one bonafide “never been played before” fan favorite (“Presto”) but, most importantly, a run-through of their entire classic Moving Pictures album for its 30th anniversary. Some of those tunes have been played a lot (“Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” I’m looking at you) but others have disappeared for far, far too long. Welcome back to the stage “The Camera Eye” and “Witch Hunt.” Maybe you’ll stick around for a couple tours? — Tom Johnson

2: PAUL MOTIAN (1931-2011): AN APPRECIATION: We remembered the late Paul Motian — a noted sideman with Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett and (most famously) Bill Evans, but also eventually an important band leader in his own right — on the day of his passing by going back to one of the drummer’s most productive later periods, and the expressive 2006 recording Garden of Eden. Also included: Link to nine other reviews of recommended Motian projects. — Mark Saleski

1: ONE TRACK MIND: JETHRO TULL, “LOCOMOTIVE BREATH,” (1971; 2011 reissue): A chillingly prophetic indictment (this is 40 years ago) of over population, “Locomotive Breath” risked getting lost on an album that’s simply bursting with strange, forgotten, sometimes unsavory characters (not least of which is the leering homeless man of its title track) and blunt questions about faith and its earthly trappings (“My God,” and the closing “Wind Up”). But the song kept building — relentlessly, improbably — towards popular music’s most distinctive flute solo. Seriously. Ian Anderson completely rocks an aerophone on this one, making for a curiously involving, out-of-nowhere delight. — Nick DeRiso

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