New Music Monday: Jeff Lorber, Joe Louis Walker and new live stuff from Styx

Welcome back to our weekly rundown of notable upcoming music projects — both new and reissue. This week’s list includes fresh product from Jeff Lorber, Joe Louis Walker, King Giant, Ringo Starr and Ruthie Foster as well as interesting updates of older items by Aretha Franklin, Bo Carter and the Mississippi Sheiks, Maynard Ferguson, Styx, Queen and others.


George Michael & Aretha Franklin – I Knew You… by zocomoro

AlcestLes Voyages de L’ame (Pop/Rock)

ARETHA FRANKLIN – KNEW YOU WERE WAITING: THE BEST OF ARETHA FRANKLIN, 1980-98 (R&B): No one is going to confuse the Queen of Soul’s Arista era with her triumphs beginning in the late 1960s with Atlantic. “Chain of Fools” and “Respect” trump “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” and “Freeway of Love” on Mondays through Sundays. Still, this collection is not without its charms, in particular when Aretha is placed in these so-odd-they’re-cool pairings with the likes of Keith Richards and Ron Wood (on the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” from an awful Whoopi Goldberg film in 1986), or the Eurythmics (“Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”) or — especially — George Michael (“I Knew You Were Waiting”). Elsewhere, she sings with George Benson, Elton John, Whitney Houston and Michael McDonald, while working with producers ranging from Lauryn Hill to Arif Mardin to Luther Vandross. But I kept coming back to her title-track duet with the former lead singer in Wham — a tune that, despite its too-glossy, period-piece production values, simultaneously illustrated a surprising range in Michael and bouyed Franklin back to her previous blazing vocal glory. — Nick DeRiso

Authority ZeroLess Rhythm More Booze (Pop/Rock)

BEAUSOLEIL – CAJUN CONJA (INTERNATIONAL): A Rhino reissue of a great 1991 release by these Louisiana legends. The album is a showcase for the group’s ability to blend the acoustic traditions of fiddle and accordion with more modern rock-inspired influences. How many bands beyond Beausoleil could pull off the swampy old-school twang of Michael Doucet’s “Telephone Stomp,” a folky story song like “Sur Le Pont De Lyon (featuring Richard Thompson) and then the grease-popping blues synthesis found on “‘Ti Monde”?Nick DeRiso

Blind GuardianMemories of a Time to Come (Pop/Rock)

BO CARTER AND THE MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS – BO CARTER AND THE MISSISSIPPI SHEIKS (BLUES): Bo Carter was a traveling salesman turned ribald blues man, while the Sheiks were founded by Bo’s brother Lonnie Chatmon and guitarist Walter Vincent. (Carter also recorded as Chatman, while Vincent also recorded as Vincson.) Together, they made 1930s-era guitar and fiddle-based Delta blues of the first order. The Sheiks were later inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame; their single “Sitting on Top of the World” — included here as part of a sprawling 100-song four-disc set — is also in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Other more deliciously salacious sides include “Same Thing The Cats Fight About,” “My Pencil Wont Write No More” and “Howling Tom Cat Blues.” (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Charlie WilsonPlaylist: The Very Best of Charlie Wilson (Blues)
Cirith UngolServants of Chaos (Pop/Rock)
The ContoursFlashback (R&B)
Darrell ScottLong Ride Home (Country)

EHUD ASHERIE WITH HARRY ALLEN – UPPER WEST SIDE (JAZZ): The talented young pianist Ehud Asherie doesn’t look to bowl you over with sheer speed and power but rather, seduce you with taste and swing. You’re much more likely to hear some of his main influences like Erroll Garner or even James P. Johnson in his approach than, say, McCoy Tyner. For his fifth album Upper West Side, Asherie chose to play without a combo and make this a more direct affair with only a tenor sax with which to share the sound space. And who better to couple up with than the tender, pre-war sax sounds of Harry Allen? No bass and drums are needed to swing, and swing with authority. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

Eric MarienthalIt’s Love [Bonus Tracks] (Jazz)
ExilePeople Get Ready EP (Country)
Fred HammondGod, Love & Romance (Religious)
Fionn Regan100 Acres of Sycamore (Pop/Rock)
Gene AmmonsBlue Gene [Vinyl] (Jazz)
Gretchen PetersHello Cruel World (Folk)
Gretchen WilsonPlaylist: The Very Best of Gretchen Wilson (Country)
GotyeMaking Mirrors (Pop/Rock)
Jazz At The Philharmonic All Stars (featuring Roy Eldridge)April In Paris (Jazz)
James BookerKing of the New Orleans Keyboard (Jazz)

JEFF LORBER FUSION – GALAXY (JAZZ): Keyboardist, composer, producer, arranger and bandleader Jeff Lorber has been propagating fusion jazz for so long, the term “Jeff Lorber Fusion” seems almost redundant. Still, this is the first time this moniker (as opposed to simply, “Jeff Lorber”) has been used since 1981′s Galaxian. Fully embracing his old self and the old-school style that’s proved to be influential over time, Lorber set out to make a record worthy of that legacy, and scores. With Galaxy, Jeff Lorber reasserts his primacy over the smooth — but not too smooth — jazzy groove. That’s enough to make this his best release since another album with a celestial name for its title. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

Jeremy PeltSoul (Jazz)

JOE LOUIS WALKER – HELLFIRE (BLUES): This album is propelled by its nervy blues sensibilities, yet there still remains inside of Walker an abiding love for rollicking back-pew gospel — something overtly referenced in both the opening title cut and his originals “Soldier for Jesus” and “Don’t Cry,” the latter two of which feature the legendary Jordanaires. For a decade beginning in 1975, Walker performed nothing but religious music as a member of the Spiritual Corinthians and, though he’s since made a name for himself as a direct descendent to Buddy Guy’s brand of searing blues rock, Walker has never completely let go of his former self, either. That he can balance such seemingly disparate impulses — mixing and matching them, like a cook stirring a cast-iron pot — is what makes Hellfire such a dynamic, listenable experience. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

KING GIANT – DISMAL HOLLOW (POP/ROCK): Virginia outfit King Giant’s debut record Southern Darkness was one of the best finds of the last few years for me. It struck a deep chord with me, taking a base layer of Black Sabbath and spicing it up with some sludgy Southern groove a la Down or Pepper Keenan-era Corrosion of Conformity. There’s a little bit of Skynyrd and a little bit of outlaw country peeking around the corners of those big, doomy power chords, too. Heavy, powerful and Southern – it’s right up my alley. — Fred Phillips

Lacuna CoilDark Adrenaline: Limited Boxset (Pop/Rock)
Lana Del ReyBorn To Die (Pop/Rock)
Leonard CohenOld Ideas (Pop/Rock)

MATT FLINNER – WINTER HARVEST (JAZZ): As he is one of the hottest mandolin players on the scene today, it would be easy to focus on Flinner’s fleet fingered delivery, but this is a true collective effort. Ross Martin (acoustic guitar) and Eric Thorin (acoustic bass) play virtually equal roles as songwriting contributors and performers. The roles of lead, rhythm and melody are shared and interchanged liberally, making it impossible for ears to pick a true leader. Since these songs weren’t noodled on for long, they sound fresh, with a certain degree of complexity that didn’t have time to get too complex. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

MAYNARD FERGUSON – THE NEW SOUNDS/COME BLOW YOUR HORN (JAZZ): Remastered with new liner notes through Real Gone Music, by arrangement with ABKCO Records, this double-shot of soaring trumpet and retro-big band charts is being issued for the first time this week on CD. Recorded in 1963 for the Philadelphia-based Cameo label in between Ferguson’s stints at the Roulette and Mainstream labels, both feature his great Roulette band — including Slide Hampton, Lanny Morgan, Frank Vicari, Ronnie Cuber — and arranger Don Sebesky, perhaps best known for his work in the 1970s and ’80s on the CTI label. Includes favorites like “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Cherokee,” “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” and “Come Blow Your Horn,” along with a few offbeat selections like Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man.” There’s even an unreleased bonus track included from the sessions for New Sounds, a new iteration of “The Song Is You.” — Nick DeRiso

Melissa ManchesterPlaylist: The Very Best of Melissa Manchester (Pop/Rock)

METALLICA – BEYOND MAGNETIC EP (POP/ROCK): Based on what I’ve heard of these songs, there’s a reason they didn’t make it on to Death Magnetic. Quit screwing around with us and write a new record for crying out loud. (More here.)Fred Phillips

NajeeThe Other Side Of Soul (Jazz)
New Broadway CastGodspell (Stage and Screen)
PJ Harvey12 Short Films by Seamus Murphy (Pop/Rock)
Patricia O CallaghanMatador Songs of Leonard Cohen (Pop/Rock)
The PinesDark So Gold (Folk)

QUEEN – DAYS OF OUR LIVES DVD/Bluray (POP/ROCK): This newly expanded two-part documentary from Eagle Rock includes previously unseen footage from concerts, video shoots, television appearances and recording sessions — as well as archival and more recent interviews with band members, friends and managers. “The boys did a fantastic job on this documentary, with little interference from us,” band co-founder Brian May says in pre-release materials. “I think this one will set the benchmark for years to come.” Part 1 deals with the period of 1970 through 1980, while the second volume focuses on Queen through the present. Originally aired on the Biography network, this expanded release — directed by Matt Casey and produced by longtime Queen collaborators Rhys Thomas and Simon Lupton — features images from seven additional music videos. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Richard Thompson BandLive at Celtic Connection DVD/Bluray (Pop/Rock)

RINGO STARR – RINGO 2012 (POP/ROCK): If this one has a familiar “ring” to it, there’s a reason. Starr offers a muscular update of “Wings,” from his dance-y 1977 flop Ringo the 4th; a new take on “Step Lightly,” previously a nifty deep cut from 1973′s Ringo, as well as “Think It Over” by Buddy Holly and “Rock Island Line,” a skiffle song made popular by Lonnie Donegan, an old favorite of the Beatles as youngsters. Guest stars abound, including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Charlie Haden, Amy Keys, Van Dyke Parks, Dave Stewart, Don Was and Edgar Winter, among others. Parks, Stewart and Walsh also share songwriting credits on Ringo’s 17th solo album, issued through HIP-O/UMe Records. It doesn’t come close to matching the verve and fun associated with his similarly named 1973 smash — likely because Starr doesn’t get by with the help of his Beatle friends on this one. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

RUTHIE FOSTER – LET IT BURN (BLUES): Foster comes into this project with her blues credentials in order, from humble beginnings in a church choir, to a major-deal gone south, to a return to her Texas roots — where she rebuilt her career brick by brick. By 2009, with the release of The Truth According to Ruthie Foster, she had claimed multiple nods from the Blues Music Association and Austin Music Awards. Then Grammy award-winning producer John Chelew suggested Foster record a new project in New Orleans — and Let It Burn was born. A combustible blend of soul, blues, rock, folk and gospel, the album features perhaps the city’s best rhythm section in the form of Funky Meters bassist George Porter Jr. and drummer Russell Batiste, along with do-anything B3 master Ike Stubblefield (who’s played with everyone from Curtis Mayfield to a series of Motown greats to Eric Clapton), the Blind Boys of Alabama and soul icon William Bell. The material is first rate, too, as Foster adds her own stamp to songs by Adele, the Black Keys, Los Lobos, Johnny Cash, the Band, Pete Seeger and Crosby, Stills and Nash. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

SerynThis Is Where We Are (Folk)
Sheila JordanYesterdays (Jazz)
Shonen KnifeOsaka Ramones: Tribute To The Ramones (Pop/Rock)
Simone DinnersteinSomething Almost Being Said: Music of Bach and Schubert (Classical)

SPIRITUAL BEGGARS – AD ASTRA; ANOTHER WAY TO SHINE; MANTRA III; ON FIRE (POP/ROCK): Don’t be thrown by the fact that the main man from Spiritual Beggars is Michael Amott, guitarist for death metal outfits Carcass and Arch Enemy. This band is great blues-based, often psychedelic hard rock. These records are well worth checking out. — Fred Phillips

Steve Turre, with Jon Faddis, Wallace Roney, Claudio RoditiWoody’s Delight (Jazz)

STYX – THE GRAND ILLUSION AND PIECES OF EIGHT LIVE DVD/CD/Bluray (POP/ROCK): A deluxe souvenir from the first time Styx ever performed these two seminal 1970s albums in their entirety on stage. 1977′s Grand Illusion became the band’s first triple platinum album on the strength of the Top 10 hit “Come Sail Away” and “Fooling Yourself,” which went Top 30. The follow up, 1978′s Pieces of Eight, likewise went triple platinum as Styx returned to its prog-rock roots. The album included two Tommy Shaw-sung radio favorites, “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” and “Renegade.” Recorded in 2010 at Memphis, this new concert features legacy members James “J.Y.” Young, Tommy Shaw and Chuck Panozzo along with drummer Todd Sucherman (who joined in 1995), singer Lawrence Gowan (in Styx since 1999), and bassist Ricky Phillips (a member since 2003). A bonus feature, called “Putting on the Show,” features interviews with the production’s crew members. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

TANIA MARIA – TEMPO (JAZZ): An international pop star since the 1980s, she’s probably best known for her worldwide pop hit song “Come With Me,” but Tania Maria’s also prominent in the world of jazz. She’s accomplished enough as a pianist to dazzle even when going on-on-one with a world-class bassist, as she did in the late 1970s on tour with NHØP (the resulting live document, Tania Maria in Copenhagen was finally released in 2005). She’s also paired up with Eddie Gomez on live dates, but for her first album of new recordings in about six years, Maria and Gomez combine for a lively, intimate studio foray. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

Terry RileyAleph (Folk)

TONY RICE – THE BILL MONROE COLLECTION (BLUEGRASS): The singer/guitarist’s take on the bluegrass legend’s mythical catalog was collected from projects over a 15-yer period, making this album something of an historical overview for a career that’s already included a Grammy award for best country instrumental as part of the New South Band, as well as collaborations with David Grisman and Jerry Garcia, among others. All of those many roads, Rice says, lead back to the same place: “I see Bill Monroe in the same light as Miles Davis,” Rice says, “absolutely the best — as pure as it gets.” Recommended tracks include “Muleskinner Blues,” “Sittin’ Alone in the Moonlight,” “Cheyenne” and “Little Cabin Home on the Hill.” — Nick DeRiso

Tye TribbettPlaylist: The Very Best of Tye Tribbett (Religious)
The TymesSo Much in Love (R&B)
UnderworldAnthology 1992-2012 (Dance)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – GOLDEN GATE GROOVE: THE SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA, LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO 1973 (R&B): Until now, we’ve never heard all of these artists — the O’Jays, the Third Degrees, MFSB, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and Billy Paul — gathered together on one stage. Golden Gate Groove, recorded on June 27, 1973 and finally set for release from Legacy Recordings, takes us back to the first, and only, time that the stars of Philadelphia International Records — the 1970s’ most influential black music firm — performed in concert with the label’s legendary house band, known as MFSB. CBS Records, PIR’s parent company, even secured the services of emcee Don Cornelius, host of the popular television dance show “Soul Train.” It’s as good as it sounds — with big names and bigger hits, forgotten favorites and some seriously fonky-cool attitude. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Various ArtistsPlaylist: A Musical Journey Through Black History (Pop/Rock)
Various ArtistsSka Madness 2 (Pop/Rock)

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