New Music Monday: Black Country Communion, Neil Young, Andrew Bird, Keith Emerson, Manu Katche

Neil Young returns with original music with Crazy Horse. Keith Emerson returns to the prog-rock glories of his time with Emerson Lake and Palmer. Black Country Communion, however, is busting up — but they left one last terrific album.

It’s New Music Monday!

Emerson again is working with guitarist Marc Bonilla, but this time they’ve invited over a brawny classical orchestra. For Young, after a quick detour into traditional cover songs on Americana, there is a complete return to form.

Manu Katche, who came to fame with Peter Gabriel, has a terrific new solo album out, too. Other jazz to dig into includes Avishai Cohen and Jesse Fischer.

Into something heavier? We’ve got Doro and W.A.S.P., as well as Wildestarr.

Ready to chill? Andrew Bird has a second album out in 2012, as well, but this one boasts a rootsy quietude.

Looking to dig back into the legacy? This week’s box of reissues includes rockers Blue Oyster Cult and the group known, variously, as Jefferson Airplane and then Jefferson Starship and, after still more lineup changes, as Starship.

Jazz fans can also dig into massive projects focusing on classic recordings from Charlie Christian and Duke Ellington.

There’s more, too. There’s always more …

Adrian LeggThe Very Best (Folk)
Akua AllrichUniquely Standard: Live (Jazz)

ANDREW BIRD – HANDS OF GLORY (POP/ROCK): Andrew Bird shelves the intricate alterno-pop vibe of this year’s earlier Break It Yourself for something rootsier, and more real here — delving into Celtic forms, Americana, bluegrass, country and gospel to construct a quieter, more emotionally resonant companion piece.Hands of Glory was likewise recorded in an echoing, haint-filled barn, around a lone microphone, but this time there is an oaken, rural intimacy. You’ll find hints of those homey, age-old recordings from the Carter Family, and direct references to the next-gen murder ballad fascinations of the Handsome Family. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Andy HunterThink Like a Mountain (Jazz)

AVISHAI COHEN – TRIVENI II (JAZZ): For Cohen (the trumpet player, not the bass dude), the stated intention of this record was to recreate the feeling Cohen got from listening to Billie Holiday: “a feeling that’s pure, simple and honest.” That’s the same vibe I get from listening to Cohen’s Triveni sessions. The program is roughly evenly split between Cohen’s own pen and the composing pen of songs and jazz figures he’s admired. More importantly then that, this too is a feel record, where spontaneity and trust in the other players rule over these performances, and the songs don’t linger much longer than they need to. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Bessie SmithComplete Columbia Recordings (Blues)
Bill McHenryPeur Du Vide (Jazz)
Bill WithersComplete Sussex and Columbia Masters (R&B)

Click here to purchase …

The Complete Columbia RecordingsHands of GloryComplete Sussex & Columbia Albums CollectionTriveni II

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION – AFTERGLOW (POP/ROCK): The pity of it, really, is how perfectly named this album is. See Afterglow, a thunderous delight, arrives just as Black Country Communion appears to be falling apart. It’s a shame. A shame because there aren’t enough bands playing this kind of straight-ahead, no-bullshit rock anymore. It’s a record that doesn’t bother speaking to your head — only your heart. Or maybe some place lower. A shame because, for guys like drummer Jason Bonham (always, it seems, toiling in the lengthy shadows of his famous father) and vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (who’s been in legendary bands, but always as a late add-on), Black Country Communion seemed to be a ticket-punching pathway to establishing their own legacies — separate from anything that came before. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

BLUE OYSTER CULT – COMPLETE COLUMBIA ALBUMS (POP/ROCK): Head straight to 1981’s Fire of an Unknown Origin, and the unjustly overlooked hit “Burnin’ for You.” Everybody remembers “Don’t Fear The Reaper” — Blue Öyster Cult’s No. 12 hit from 1976 — and I admit, I’ve always been a fan of the song’s false ending, followed by Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser’s super-sly return. But, for me, this remains better song, with its billowing riff, stuttering drums, and cascading vocal — though it spent three weeks stuck at No. 40. Its message couldn’t have been any more different, either. Whereas “Reaper” argued that we should accept our fates with a dreamy, whirling certitude, here we’re exhorted to “Burn out the day, burn out the night!” There was a suicidal passion to their initial hit, while this one sounds like a balled-up fist of steely determination. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Bobo Stenson TrioIndicum (Jazz)
Cast of ClownsHave A Heart (Pop/Rock)
Cee-Lo GreenCee Lo’s Magic Moment (Pop/Rock)
Charles MingusJazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65 (Jazz)

AfterglowCee Lo\'s Magic MomentThe Complete Columbia Albums Collection (16 CD/ 1 DVD)Have A Heart

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN – GENIUS OF THE ELECTRIC GUITAR (JAZZ): This four-CD box set, focusing on jazz music’s most important figure in the pre-war development of the electric guitar, is actually a reconfiguration of an 2002 compilation featuring the same repertoire with an additional essay by Peter Broadbent, owner/administrator of the Charlie Christian Archive, the largest reference collection of material specific to Charlie Christian in existence. In all there are 98 tracks recorded between 1939 and 1941, including numerous seminal recordings with Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson and Lionel Hampton — including, of course, “Flying Home.” Christian also is featured with Count Basie, Lester Young, Benny Carter, Harry James, Cootie Williams, Buck Clayton, Jack Teagarden, Gene Krupa, and others.

Danny Kalb and FriendsMoving In Blue (Blues)

DORO – RAISE YOUR FIST (POP/ROCK): The new release from Doro Pesch is another solid collection of catchy traditional metal numbers that got my head bobbing on first listen. The record also features guest shots from Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and Firewind/Ozzy guitarist Gus G. — Fred Phillips

DUKE ELLINGTON – COMPLETE COLUMBIA STUDIO ALBUMS COLLECTION 1951-58 (JAZZ): Highlighted by the first U.S.- issued and -mastered version of 1956’s A Drum is a Woman, this nine-CD box set also includes an essay by two-time Grammy Award-winning writer Loren Schoenberg, artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Also featured: 1951’s Masterpieces, 1952’s Uptown (with the two-part, 10-minute “Controversial Suite,” and the six-part, 24-minute “Liberian Suite”), 1956’s Blue Rose (with Rosemary Clooney) 1957’s Such Sweet Thunder and Ellington Indigos, 1958’s Black, Brown And Beige (with gospel legend Mahalia Jackson), Bal Masque and Cosmic Scene.

Elvis PresleyPrince From Another Planet: Deluxe Edition (Pop/Rock)
FlyleafNew Horizons (Pop/Rock)

Raise Your FistThe Genius Of The Electric GuitarThe Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958New Horizons

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE/ JEFFERSON STARSHIP/ STARSHIP – ESSENTIAL (POP/ROCK): Finally, a one-stop road map for a band with so many twists and turns between the 1960s and the early 1990s that it required not one, not two, but three names. A thread moving through most of this is guitarist Craig Chaquico, who appeared on every Jefferson Starship and Starship project from the early 1970s through the band’s initial dissolution in after 1989’s Love Among the Cannibals. Paul Kantner, who co-founded Jefferson Airplane and then co-led Jefferson Starship with Grace Slick, has since started a new edition of Jefferson Starship. Mickey Thomas, who led Starship, has his own version now, too. Highlights here include “Somebody To Love,” “White Rabbit,” “Miracles,” “Count On Me, “Jane,” “Find Your Way Back,” “We Built This City,” “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” among others. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

JESSE FISCHER – RETRO FUTURE (JAZZ): Fischer’s fusion music falls somewhere between Sean Wayland and the James Taylor Quartet: not as jazz focused as Wayland and not organ-centric as Taylor, Fischer is nonetheless like both of them in mining the rich territory of that late 60s-70s grooves in coming up with his own genre-obliterating sound that crosses over jazz, soul, hip-hop, old-school electronica and others to make something rooted in that past but gazing out to leading edge. “Retro Future,” if you will, and that’s what he called this album, his first for ObliqSound and second overall. Fortunately, Fischer’s future is a future where instruments are still hand played by humans. (More here.)

Johnny CashComplete Columbia Albums Collection (Country)
John DenverAerie (Folk)

KAMELOT – SILVERTHORN (POP/ROCK): It will be interesting to see how, or if, the sound of the Florida-based power metal act changes without long-time vocalist Roy Khan. — Fred Phillips

The EssentialRetro FutureThe Complete Columbia Album CollectionSilverthorn

Katherine JenkinsThis Is Christmas (Pop/Rock)

KEITH EMERSON – THREE FATES PROJECT (POP/ROCK): There is a visceral power in these recordings, as the Keith Emerson Band performs within this orchestral torrent — blending the keyboardist’s long-held passions for rock and classical, finally, in the most complete of ways. Emerson is, of course, best known for infusing elements of Bach, Dvorak, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky into stadium setlists via his association with prog-rock bands like the Nice and Emerson Lake and Palmer — and, appropriately, you’ll find tracks from ELP’s Tarkus, Trilogy and Works. This album, however, moves well outside of those established environs, both in the way that it reimagines sometimes very familiar tunes and also how it incorporates them into a long-form narrative that includes originals from Emerson and guitarist Marc Bonilla. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

King CrimsonLarks’ Tongues in Aspic Anniversary Box (Pop/Rock)
Louis ArmstrongComplete Columbia/Okeh and RCA Victor Recordings 1925-33 (Jazz)

LOUISIANA RED – WHEN MY MAMA WAS LIVING (BLUES): Previously unreleased 1970s sessions recorded alongside Peg Leg Sam and Lefty Dizz, this album finds Louisiana Red storming through eight originals while putting his own indelible stamp on tracks composed by Slim Harpo, Gary Davis and Fred McDowell, and Kent Cooper. Though they typically feature Louisiana Red alone or in duo situations, these 16 tracks make his case all over again as a lost last link to the mid-century blues tradition. As rustic as this album seems on its surface, the songs are defined by their tough urban grit. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Luka BloomThis New Morning (Folk)
Macy GrayTalking Book (R&B)

This Is ChristmasThree Fates ProjectLark\'s Tongues in Aspic, 40th Anniversary EditionWhen My Mama Was Living

MANU KATCHE – MANU KATCHE (JAZZ): The man better known as drummer to Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Robbie Robertson, and Simple Minds, Manu Katché leads a double life as a restless, serious jazz musician and composer. Once again, he’s shuffled the lineup to shake up his sound — this time dispensing of his bassist, and bringing in British pianist/organist Jim Watson. That moves Katché out of his usual comfort zones, altering his strategy for playing his drums, assuming a role that’s further up front than on the prior ECM’s, especially on “Running After Years,” “Bliss,” “Walking By Your Side” and “Loose.” He thrives with this airier sonic construct, and you can hear all his minor African inflected touches, utilizing his entire kit. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Mick HucknallAmerican Soul (R&B)
Mitch WoodsBlues Beyond Borders: Live in Istanbul (Blues)

NEIL YOUNG AND CRAZY HORSE – PSYCHEDELIC PILL (POP/ROCK): He opens with “Driftin’ Back,” a thunderous, nearly half-hour track that equals and, in some cases, surpasses so many of the songs that seek to contextualize the 1960s. I’m not sure anyone has better illustrated the impotent fury that followed for those who worked so hard toward change, only to see it all come to such a thudding conclusion. The album might have ended right there, if Psychedelic Pill — due October 29, 2012, from Reprise Records — were sequenced differently, if it only sought to look back. Instead, Crazy Horse is then granted a chance to do what it does best — to completely rock out, and thus recall every one of its earlier, floor board-rearranging triumphs with Young. In that way, they end up reconstructing the soaring promise, and the boundless joy, of the decade Young started out eulogizing here. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

NeurosisHonor Found in Decay (Pop/Rock)
Parkway DriveAtlas (Pop/Rock)
PlaceboB3 EP (Pop/Rock)

Manu KatcheAmerican SoulPsychedelic PillBlues Beyond Borders: Live in Istanbul

PONCHO SANCHEZ – LIVE IN HOLLYWOOD (JAZZ): Poncho Sanchez, who came fame to as a conguero alongside Cal Tjader, roars in all of his salsa-fired bebop glory here, recording live at the annual Hollywood and Highland KKJZ Summer Concert Series. The set’s unquestioned highlight, for me, is the “Poncho Sanchez Medley,” feature for criminally underappreciated original works by the Latin jazz legend like “Mi Negra” and “Baila Baila” that’s been newly created at the behest of Francisco Torres, Sanchez’s trombonist and musical director. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Randy KleinWhat’s Next? (Jazz)
Rare EarthEcology; Get Ready (R&B)
Rita CoolidgeA Rita Coolidge Christmas (Pop/Rock)
Rod StewartMerry Christmas, Baby (Pop/Rock)
The Velvet Underground and NicoThe Velvet Underground and Nico 45th Anniversary Box (Pop/Rock)
Toby KeithHope On The Rocks (Country)
Trans-Siberian OrchestraDreams Of Fireflies [On A Christmas Night] (Pop/Rock)
Twisted SisterA Twisted Christmas (Pop/Rock)
Various artistsDefinitive Chicago Blues [Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, others] (Blues)

W.A.S.P. – W.A.S.P./THE LAST COMMAND (POP/ROCK): The Hollywood shock rockers’ first two records get the re-issue treatment, and both are favorites in my 1980s rock collection. These two along with 1989’s The Headless Children are pretty much all you need to know about W.A.S.P. — Fred Phillips

WILDESTARR – A TELL TALE HEART (POP/ROCK): I enjoyed Wildestarr’s debut Arrival, featuring original Vicious Rumors bassist Dave Starr and female vocalist London Wilde. This time out, they try their hand at a concept piece based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe, who also happens to be one of my favorite writers. Should be entertaining. — Fred Phillips

Live In HollywoodW.a.S.P./Last CommandDefinitive Chicago BluesA Tell Tale Heart

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