New Music Monday: Dreaming of a White(snake) Christmas?

Here’s a run down — with a few of our thoughts — on some notable music projects, both new and reissue, slated for release for the week of Dec. 12, 2011. That includes titles from Nat King Cole, Paul Motian, Smokey Robinson, Tangerine Dream, the Cure, the Marvellettes — and a sleigh-load of updates of older David Coverdale-related items. In fact, over one magical week, we’re about to see reissues of Coverdale singing lead on Deep Purple’s 1974 album Live in London, his own 1978 solo project Northwinds as well as Whitesnake’s breakout self-titled hit release from the late 1980s.

It’s a harvest of blessings!

Adam RudolphCan You Imagine … The Sound of a Dream, Meta (Jazz)
Adam SwansonI Love a Piano, Rivermont (Jazz)
Alexey LapinDouble Sonata (Jazz)
André RieuAnd the Waltz Goes On (Classical)
Anthony HamiltonBack to Love, RCA (R&B)
Archie SheppGemini (Jazz)
Benjamin Sanz QuintetMutation Majeure (Jazz)
Bill DixonThe Complete Remastered Recordings On Black Saint And Soul Note (Jazz)

DAVID COVERDALE – NORTHWINDS, JVC JAPAN (POP/ROCK): Coverdale reunites with Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover as producer for an early attempt at the Whitesnake formula of blending blues rock, power balladry and metal. Fans of his old band are directed to Coverdale’s take on his departure from Deep Purple, “Breakdown.” Fans of his next band will notice that the second side of Northwinds was later combined with an EP of Whitesnake tunes then released as Snakebite. — Nick DeRiso

David MurrayThe Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note (Jazz)
Deep PurpleIn Concert; Shades of Deep Purple; Deep Purple [1969]; Scandinavian Nights: Live in Stockholm 1970; Live in London 1974; The Book of Taliesyn, JVC Japan (Pop/Rock)

DEEP PURPLE – SHADES OF PURPLE, JVC JAPAN (POP/ROCK): Highlighted by Deep Purple’s debut Top 5 U.S. single “Hush,” Shades also salutes the Beatles via a slow, dark and gloomy version of “Help!,” while a similarly related treatment of “Hey Joe,” which at that point had been rehashed by nearly every band or artist one could point a finger at, clearly steals a page in the book from the Music Machine and Jimi Hendrix. To be sure, Deep Purple didn’t hide their influences, but by extending the length of the tunes, adding layers of complex arrangements and slipping slivers of classical figures into the forum, they began their trek along a novel and industrious path. (More here.)Beverly Paterson

Doris DayMy Heart (Easy Listening)
Fourth PageBlind Horizons, Leo (Jazz)
Janis Crunch12 & 1 Song (Electronic)
Jonathan KreisbergTrioing (Jazz)
Josh RitterLive at the Iveagh Gardens [2CD/1DVD] (Pop/Rock)

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Katja CruzLight and Shade, Leo (Jazz)
Kay Kay and the RaysThe Best of Kay Kay and the Rays (Blues)
Kim NalleyChristmas Time Is Here!, C.E. Jazz & Blues (Holiday)
Maurice StarrSpacey Lady [Limited Edition] (R&B)
Michael Martin MurpheyAmerica’s Horses (Country)

NAT KING COLE – BEST OF NAT KING COLE [Documents] (VOCAL): The King has been dead for nearly a half century. Not that you’d know it with all the reissues, television specials and creepy rip offs from Nat Cole’s daughter over the last pair of decades. Still, Cole, long short-sticked to others of his era since they lived longer, somehow remains an underappreciated voice. Between 1942 and ’65, when Cole passed after a bout with lung cancer, he charted an amazing 100 Top 40 hits, and that included proto-Connick pop, R&B, jazz, even country. Records like this one — including “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Embraceable You,” “I’m in the Mood for Love,” and “Route 66″ — confirm for all time Cole’s unerring ear for phrasing, and his place as one of the jazz idiom’s most important vocalists. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Naughty by NatureAnthem Inc. (Rap)
NeroWelcome Reality (Electronic)

PAUL MOTIAN – THE COMPLETE REMASTERED RECORDINGS ON BLACK SAINT AND SOUL NOTE, (JAZZ): These perfectly timed remasters arrive just in time for those looking to dig deeper into Motian’s solo stuff, only weeks after the drummer’s passing. Motian, who first came to prominence in the late 1950s with pianist Bill Evans’ pioneering trio, later collaborated with pianists Paul Bley (1963-64) and Keith Jarrett (1967–76). An eclectic artist, he also worked with Arlo Guthrie in 1968-69, a stint that included a performance with the folk singer at Woodstock. Criminally less known, however, is Motian’s work as a composer and bandleader, though he produced a number of well-regarded projects beginning as far back as the 1970s with ECM. The sessions featured here, issued between 1983-95, include standout sides with Bley, Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano, and others. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Preschool PopstarsDaycare Dance Party (Pop/Rock)
RammsteinMade in Germany: 1995-2011, Vagrant (Pop/Rock)
Ray BarrettoSelecciones Fania, Universal Latino (Jazz)
Rodney CrowellBut What Will the Neighbors Think? (Country)

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SMOKEY ROBINSON – THE SOLO ALBUMS, VOL. 6, HIP-O SELECT (R&B): Features two albums from Robinson — the very soul of Motown: One was a big hit (1981’s Being With You) while the other remains an underrated gem. 1980’s Warm Thoughts, Robinson’s follow up to the smash “Cruisin,'” included the No. 4 hit “Let Me Be The Clock” and a fun collaboration with labelmate Stevie Wonder called “Melody Man.” But it’s somehow never before been released on compact disc. Meanwhile, the Top 10 hit Being With You album is, of course, highlighted by its title track, which went No. 1 R&B and No. 4 pop. Volume 6 in Smokey’s solo series includes reproductions of the original album artwork, additional photos from the original cover art sessions and lyrics. The newly commissioned liner notes are by Peter Doggett.Nick DeRiso

Snoop DoggMac and Devin Go to High School [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (Rap)

TANGERINE DREAM – FINNEGAN’S WAKE (POP/ROCK): A highly anticipated project following the group’s triumphal collaboration with guitarist Brian May of Queen on a new Edgar Froese piece called “Star Sounds” at The Starmus Festival. Froese, who started Tangerine Dream as a student at the Berlin Academy of Arts deep in the late-1960s’ sway of both Satie and Pink Floyd, is the lone hold over from the band’s 1971-77 whoa-man synthesizer-soundscape hey day, a period that also included keyboardist Peter Baumann and drummer Christopher Franke. But they’ve never stopped working, and never stopped trying new things: A musical interpretation of the James Joyce classic, Finnegan’s Wake is the third volume of Tangerine Dream’s Eastgate Sonic Poem series, following The Island of the Fay and The Angel of the West Window. — Nick DeRiso

THE CURE – FIVE CLASSIC ALBUMS (1979-84), UNIVERSAL UK (POP/ROCK): Focusing on the Cure’s initial offerings (Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds, Faith, Pornography and The Top), this collection provides an telling glimpse into the Cure’s sinewy early post-punk sound. All but 1984’s The Top, a transitional album that really amounts to nothing more than Smith solo project, are certified classics of the so-called alternative era. Reason: Smith, as cartoony as he could sometimes be, was a writing voice that defied easy categorization. On the one hand, he helped frame things for a generation obsessed with this almost literary gloominess; on the other, Smith always had a canny ability to sidestep that same existential misery in favor of a lipstick-smeared lovestruck pop sound that simply bursts with giddy joy. You here all of that, in a raw embryonic fashion, on this set. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

The FeelingSingles (2006-2011), Universal UK (Pop/Rock)

THE MARVELETTES – FOREVER MORE: THE COMPLETE MOTOWN ALBUMS, VOL. 2, HIP-O SELECT (R&B): Notable as Motown’s first-ever charttopping group (50 years ago, with 1961’s “Please Mr. Postman”), the Marvelettes opened the door for hitmakers like Martha and Vandellas and the Supremes. Over a sterling eight-year run on the Billboard charts, the Marvelettes actually scored more than 20 Hot 100 hit singles; three were Top 10 pop smashes, and nine were Top 10 R&B singles. Their debut hit No. 1 on both charts. Forever More focuses on the group’s final four albums, originally released between 1967-1970: The Marvelettes (better known as “The Pink Album”), Sophisticated Soul, In Full Bloom and The Return Of The Marvelettes. The set also includes non-LP singles, B-sides and rarities issued on various compilations.Nick DeRiso

Travis TrittTen Feet Tall and Bulletproof (Country)
Various ArtistsThomas and Friends: All Star Tracks, MRI (Children’s)

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE: A TRIBUTE TO THE SMITHS, AMERICAN LAUNDROMAT (POP/ROCK): We’ll be paying special attention to Mike Viola and the Section Quartet’s version of “How Soon Is Now?” After all, the original’s towering riff — courtesy of the Smiths’ Johnny Marr — boasted the same era-defining heft as Keith Richards did with the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” in the 1960s. No pressure, right? (There’s a reason that Rolling Stone magazine, in 2010, put “How Soon Is Now?” at No. 90 in its list of the 100 greatest guitar songs.) Also included on this tribute: The Wedding Present, Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch, Throwing Muses co-founder Tanya Donelly, Sixpence None of the Richer, Telekinesis and William Fitzsimmons, among others. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

VARIOUS ARTISTS – THIS ONE’S FOR HIM: A TRIBUTE TO GUY CLARK (POP/ROCK): Guy Clark comes from that branch of country music that’s really at least equal parts folk and sometimes honky tonk but wholly Texan. He and his cohorts such as Jerry Jeff Walker and the late Townes Van Zandt have for a couple of generations written songs that stand up entirely on their own. They contain straightforward lyrics and simple melodies but have a way of staying with you long after the final note is played. They reach out to cowboys, folkies and common people alike, telling engaging stories or just expressing the same kind of feelings we all get in our everyday lives. No surprise, then, that Clark’s garnered his own tribute album — featuring the likes of Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, James McMurty (embedded above), Joe Ely, Kris Kristofferson, Shawn Colvin, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris and John Prine, among others. It doesn’t matter much what kind of music it is, if it’s created and executed well, it’s worth listening to. That’s why you don’t have to like crooners to appreciate Sinatra. Or get into reggae to respect Bob Marley. That’s why even though I don’t consider myself a fan of country music, I can still find a place in my rotation for guys like Guy. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

WHITESNAKE – WHITESNAKE, JVC JAPAN (POP/ROCK): Maybe it’s because I was forced to listen to “Is This Love?” way too many times in the late 1980s, but for some reason, I just don’t hold Whitesnake in the same regard as many of my friends of a similar age. When I converted my music collection to CD in the 1990s, I repurchased every single record from many of my favorites of the same era. For Whitesnake, though, I opted for a compilation CD so I can get my fix of “Still of the Night” every now and then. If you’re going to buy just one of the band’s original projects, though, the seventh studio album from the band of the same name is probably the one: Whitesnake became their biggest hit ever, selling more than 8 million copies in the U.S. alone on the power of hits like “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love” (which reached Nos. 1 and 2, respectively); and “Still of the Night,” reportedly based on an old demo by Coverdale and Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. (More here.)Fred Phillips

Widespread PanicHistory Lesson New Year’s 1997, Fix Theater, Atlanta, GA 12/31/97 (Pop/Rock)

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