New Music Monday: Jeff Lynne, Beth Hart, Kiss, Rez Abbasi, Don Felder, Dio and the Who

Brace yourselves for the return of a trio of 1970s-era hitmakers: Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra fame, former Eagles guitarist Don Felder and Kiss are all back, to the delight of baby boomer rock lovers everywhere. Also out with fresh product this week are Beth Hart, Rez Abbasi and Danko Jones, among others.

Several interesting reissues headed your way, too, including Christmas projects — yes, Christmas projects … already — from Vince Guaraldi and Alvin and the Chipmunks, along with new takes on old favorites from Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Dio, the Beatles and the Who.

We also dig into projects from a jazz-band called Grass Roots this week, as well as Jake Playmo and Ron Miles — who has another great new effort with Bill Frisell on tap.


A.C. NewmanShut Down the Streets (Pop/Rock)
Albare and iTDLong Way (Jazz)
All Time LowDon’t Panic (Pop/Rock)

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS – CHIPMUNKS CHRISTMAS (POP/ROCK): It’s that time of year again. I’m not even ready to think about Christmas yet, but I do admit I’ve got a soft spot for this one. Annoying? Oh, hell yes. But I bet right at this moment, in your head, you’re singing, “I still want a huuula hoop.” — Fred Phillips

Amy WinehouseThe Album Collection (R&B)
B.B. KingMr. B.B. King (Blues)
Barbra StreisandRelease Me (Vocals)

BETH HART – BANG BANG BOOM BOOM (BLUES): The follow up to Hart’s terrific 2011 collaborative effort with guitarist Joe Bonamassa, this new solo project includes 11 tracks across a swift-moving landscape of influences — from blues to jazz to gospel to soul. Produced by Kevin Shirley, the longtime Bonamassa helmsman, album highlights include Hart’s first ever piano solo (on “Swing My Thing Back Around”), the boisterous gospel elation of “Spirit of God,” and a devastatingly effective, Billie Holiday-influenced vocal on “Baddest Blues.” In the end, it’s a showcase for the volcanic singing style that had Hart appearing in the off-Broadway show “Love, Janis” — but also digs into the darker emotions surrounding her journey as a former “Star Search” standout who spiraled out of control into a haze of drugs, depression and an unmedicated bipolar disorder before finally finding her footing again through sheer force of will, talent and gumption. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Birthday MassacreHide and Seek (Pop/Rock)

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Chipmunks ChristmasThe Album CollectionMr. B.B. KingBang Bang Boom Boom

BUDDY GUY AND JUNIOR WELLS – PLAY THE BLUES (BLUES): Started as another in rock star Eric Clapton’s celebrated CPR efforts for the careers of the blues legends he loved most, this one was almost lost to the Atlantic vaults. In the end, four different producers worked this thing at two different studios. Sessions were held in 1970, then again in 1972. Four different lineups perform, including one with both harpist Junior Wells and Clapton absent. Buddy Guy, the only constant, is a searing, almost savage presence on the guitar, tearing through the preconceived notions and old-school traditions perhaps too-reverent descendants like Clapton may have found comfort in. By the time it’s over, in fact, Guy schools them all. — Nick DeRiso

Coheed and CambriaAfterman: Ascension (Pop/Rock)
Connie Crothers, Ken Filiano and Andrea WolperTranceFormation in Concert (Jazz)

DANKO JONES – ROCK AND ROLL IS BLACK AND BLUE (POP/ROCK): Danko Jones is one of those weird artists for me. I’ve always, generally, liked what they do, yet I’ve never been drawn in enough to call myself a fan. Maybe this record will be the one that puts them over for me. — Fred Phillips

David RuffinDavid Unreleased LP & More (R&B)
Destiny’s ChildPlaylist: The Very Best of Destiny’s Child (R&B)

DIO – THE VERY BEAST OF DIO VOL. 2 (POP/ROCK): This collection offers a nice overview of the latter years of Dio’s solo career, along with a few rarities. It’s a great way for casual fans to get into some great albums that they may have missed, and, of course, the hardcore Dio fan will be drawn in by a couple of hard-to-find tracks. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

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Play the BluesRock And Roll Is Black And Blue (LTD Edition)\The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2

DON FELDER – ROAD TO FOREVER (POP/ROCK): Felder, best known for writing the music for “Hotel California” and his hit title track for the 1981 film “Heavy Metal,” hasn’t exactly been prolific away from the Eagles. So, interest is likely high among Eagles fans when it comes to this new 12-song cycle of original songs, led by “Fall from the Grace of Love” — a throwback country rocker that recalls his greatest triumphs with the Eagles. Felder, who recorded five projects with the country-rock pioneers between 1974-94, last issued a solo album in 1983. But this time, the songs came bursting forth: Felder wrote or co-wrote this entire album, while playing guitar and singing lead vocals as well. It’s not all peaceful, easy feelings, either: Check out “You Don’t Have Me,” where he roughs things up a bit. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Ellie GouldingHalcyon (Pop/Rock)

GRASS ROOTS [SEAN CONLY, ALEX HARDING, DARIUS JONES, CHAD TAYLOR] – GRASS ROOTS (JAZZ): What might be surprising (or not) about Grass Roots, is how quickly the four had congealed to establish a certain, interlocking way of making music. The strong personalities of everyone come out on these recordings, but not in competition with each other but in cooperation. Harding’s burly baritone finds companionship with Jones’ passionate, room-filling alto. Conly and Taylor proactively initiate the direction of a song, providing guidelines that the saxophonists can easily exploit. All are more than capable of blurring the lines between improvisation and accompaniment. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Hidden OrchestraArchipelago (Jazz)

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Road to ForeverHalcyonGrass RootsArchipelago

JAKE PLAYMO – MY FAVORITE TOYS (JAZZ): A German saxophonist, flautist, composer and bandleader better known by his real name Jan Klare, Playmo made a record combining electronica, jazz and kraut rock back in ’07 that came and went without nary a notice on American shores, but the German imprint Ozella is giving My Favorite Toys another deserved shot with the re-release of this adventurous outing. Backed by Das Böse Ding, which is German for “The Evil Thing,” Playmo indulges in music like it’s a playground of “blocks, bricks and figures” meant to be positioned and put together in cool, interesting ways. Thus, the toy theme of the album and Playmo originals named after toys. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

JEFF LYNNE – MR. BLUE SKY: VERY BEST OF ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA; LONG WAVE (POP/ROCK): A new video offers us an early listen to “Mr. Blue Sky” — the title track from this set of 11 ELO do-overs. Long-time audiophiles will notice the song’s bright immediacy, even as they thrill over the fact that the period-piece vocoder segment remains. At the same time, the painstaking process of re-recording these ELO favorites is also put into high relief: It’s obvious, at least to those who ran the grooves down on their vinyl copies of Out of the Blue back in ’77, that Lynne produced this update all by himself. Lynne will issue a second album called Long Wave, featuring his versions of some childhood favorites, on October 9, 2012, as well. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Johnny MathisPlaylist: The Very Best of Johnny Mathis (Vocals)
Katherine JenkinsMy Christmas (Pop/Rock)
Kenny LattimoreBack 2 Cool (R&B)

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My Favorite ToysMr Blue Sky: The Very BestMy ChristmasLong Wave

KISS – MONSTER (POP/ROCK): After a couple of uninspired records, I like what I’ve heard of this one so far. I’m really hoping that it’s another album like Revenge that resparks my interest in the band. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

Otis RushWest Chicago Blues (Blues)
Maria Muldaur and Rory BlockFirst Came Memphis Minnie (Blues)
MotörheadWorld Is Ours 2 (Pop/Rock)

REZ ABBASI – CONTINUOUS BEAT (JAZZ): Always talented, Pakistani-born guitarist Rez Abbasi is a skilled musician who’s really come into his own recently as not merely an instrumental whiz, but as a complete artist. Motian’s overriding approach of what Abbasi so accurately identifies as “complexity within simplicity” set the broad parameters of Abbasi’s trio approach for this album. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Rick SpringfieldSongs for the End of the World (Pop/Rock)
Robert GlasperBlack Radio Recovered: The Remix EP (Jazz)

RON MILES, WITH BILL FRISELL AND BRIAN BLADE – QUIVER [LIVE] (JAZZ): Ron Miles, without making a bunch of loud, weird noises, has become one of the most eloquently unique trumpet players of the last twenty years. This Denver, Colorado bred and based trumpeter and composer has a dialect on his horn similar to the unembellished, thoughtful approach of Dave Douglas with a tone that sometimes recalls Lester Bowie, only softer. He’s brought it successfully into a variety of settings within and outside jazz, but this new trio record featuring Bill Frisell might be the purest essence of Miles’ artistry. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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MonsterWest Chicago BluesSongs For The End Of The WorldQuiver

Ronnie FaussI Am the Man You Know I’m Not (Folk)
Suzanne VegaClose Up Vol. 4: Songs of Family (Pop/Rock)
Tame ImpalaLonerism (Pop/Rock)
The Beach BoysGreatest Hits: 50 Big Ones (Pop/Rock)

THE BEATLES – MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR DVD/Blu-ray/CD (POP/ROCK): A so-so soundtrack to a terrible movie is saved by the towering successes of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” a double-sided No. 1 single that was tacked on to Side Two. Wonders of studio wizardry, eccentric and eclectic, spectacular and specific, and perhaps most of all very, very British, these two songs are all but definitive — both for their individual writers in McCartney and Lennon, but also for the band itself. When people say something is “Beatle-esque,” this is what they are talking about. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

The SeedsThe Seeds (Pop/Rock)
The Script#3 (Pop/Rock)
The SupremesI Hear a Symphony (Pop/Rock)

THE WHO – LIVE IN TEXAS ’75 (POP/ROCK): This new film captures the iconic band on stage in Houston, Texas, at the start of a massive U.S. tour to promote The Who By Numbers, their seventh album. Highlights include an extensive section devoted to the band’s legendary rock opera Tommy, savage new versions of of early Who hits such as “My Generation,” another tough go at Eddie Cochran’s titanic “Summertime Blues” (echoing their performance at Live at Leeds from five years before), plus more recent Who fare like “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as well as several deep cuts from The Who By Numbers. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Various artistsPour une ame souveraine: A dedication to Nina Simone [Meshell Ndegeocello, Sinead O’Conner, others] (Jazz)

VINCE GUARALDI TRIO – A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS (JAZZ): For years, I thought of Vince Guaraldi’s work — particularly, on the first 16 Peanuts specials between 1965-76 — as something akin to comfort food. I didn’t recall it as being all that challenging. His themes, in my memory, were always lushly lyrical, even impressionistic (“Love Will Come,” “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” “Rain, Rain Go Away”). It was easy to pass him by as another in the dizzyingly long line of Bill Evans acolytes. But in reacquainting myself with Guaraldi all over again on the terrific new Fantasy Records reissue, I found he had a habit of inserting these little surprises. I was particularly struck, for instance, by the way Guaraldi’s early boogie-woogie influences were flecked throughout the ageless “Linus and Lucy.” This new edition also includes a trio of bonus tracks, “Greensleeves,” “Great Pumpkin Waltz” and “Thanksgiving Theme.” — Nick DeRiso

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Magical Mystery Tour Deluxe Box Set (Blu-ray/DVD/double-vinyl EP)The Who: Live in Texas 75Pour une ame souveraine (For a sovereign soul) - A dedication to Nina SimoneA Charlie Brown Christmas [2012 Remastered & Expanded Edition]

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