New Music Monday: Boston, Paul Carrack, Velvet Underground, Benedictum, Ramsey Lewis

Boston is back for one of its rare forays into new music. Only, this time — despite the typical years-long wait — Tom Scholz included some polished up previously released stuff, as well.

That gives fans a chance to hear Brad Delp in full cry once more, but it also prompts some serious questions about where the group is headed more than six years after the death of the Boston’s late frontman.

Meanwhile, Paul Carrack — a voice you know from his hits with Mike + the Mechanics, Squeeze and Ace — is back with a deeply soulful new solo album that works, in part, as a tribute to his hero Ray Charles.

There are not one but two opportunities to remember the ferocious genius of Lou Reed, who died of a liver ailment in October: A one-disc hits package in the Playlist series offers a quick overview of his solo career, though unfortunately it skips Reed’s later period. More intriguing still is a bulked up anniversary edition of White Light/White Heat, a proto-punk smart bomb from Reed’s time with the Velvet Underground.

We’ve got new music from Benedictum to get into, some officially released bootleg recordings from Johnny Winter — and a stirring soundtrack from a new documentary on a man freed after serving decades for a murder he didn’t commit, featuring appearances by Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker.

Oh, and an ageless collaboration between Earth Wind and Fire and Ramsey Lewis …

BastilleAll This Bad Blood (Pop/Rock)

BENEDICTUM – OBEY (POP/ROCK): I discovered Benedictum a little late, with the band’s last album, Dominion, in 2011. I really dig the old school, uncompromising, classic metal feel that the band employs. I look forward to hearing this one. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

Billie HolidayLady Day: Ultimate Collection (Jazz)
Bob MarleyThe Best Of The Upsetter Singles 1970-1972 (International)

BOSTON – LIFE, LOVE AND HOPE (POP/ROCK): Aside from the really strong opening track “Heaven On Earth,” most of this album seems to miss the winning combination of writing, playing, and producing that graced Boston’s perfect first recording. In fact, it feels more like that old fast food advert from the ’80s: “Parts is parts.” Two songs from their last release (in 2002) are remade here with different arrangements. The late Brad Delp also makes a couple of appearances — well, his voice does, anyway — and though it’s easy to realize he recorded those vocals before his untimely death, it still feels a little weird. (More here.) — JC Mosquito

Black FlagWhat the (Pop/Rock)
Britney SpearsBritney Jean (Pop/Rock)
Buddy Rich Big BandNorth Sea Jazz Legendary Concerts (Jazz)
CherThe Lowdown (Pop/Rock)
DidoGreatest Hits: Deluxe Edition (Pop/Rock)
Doobie BrothersStampede (Pop/Rock)

Ella FitzgeraldQueen of Jazz: Ultimate Collection (Jazz)
Fabulous ThunderbirdsBad & Best of (Blues)
Glen HansardDrive All Night (Pop/Rock)

JOHNNY WINTER – LIVE BOOTLEG SERIES VOLUME 10 (BLUES): Curated and overseen by Winter himself, this entertaining series continues to mine often previouly unheard gems from across his blues-rocking career. Highlights of this newest edition include a scorching take on Dale Hawkins’ “Suzie Q,” a lengthy jam through Lowell Fulson’s “Love Her with a Feeling,” soulful runs through Muddy Waters’ “Catfish Blues” and John Estes’ “Diving Duck Blues” as well as a tough reading of the Winter original “One Step at a Time.” (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

John ZornShir Hashirim (Jazz)
Jordan RudessAll That Is Now (Pop/Rock)
King CrimsonRed [2-CD] (Pop/Rock)
Kris KristoffersonLet The Music Play (Country)
Leona LewisChristmas, With Love (Holidays)

LOU REED – PLAYLIST: THE VERY BEST (POP/ROCK): Those looking for a handy one-disc spin through the recently lost Reed’s wildly ecclectic, sometimes strangely uneven career away from the Velvets might find some things to love about this set — though it leaves out some later period triumphs from New York, Songs for Drella, Magic and Loss and so on. What remains, however, is plenty engaging. There are four tracks from Transformer, a pair from Coney Island Baby and select moments from Lou Reed, Sally Can’t Dance, Berlin, Rock and Roll Animal, Street Hassle, New Sensations and Live in Italy. (More here.) — Mark Saleski

MuseLive At Rome Olympic Stadium (Pop/Rock)

PAUL CARRACK – RAIN OR SHINE (POP/ROCK): The opening one-two punch of “Stepping Stone” and “That’s All That Matters to Me,” a lead single fraught with a very adult parental worry, showcase his 10-track album’s signature sound: An active string accompaniment not unlike those that fired soul classics by the likes of Al Green and, yes, Charles. In fact, they were recorded in Los Angeles with arranger Richard Niles, who contributed to some late-period triumphs with Brother Ray. His charts, which also include some brassy brawn later in, give Rain or Shine a timeless feel — very in keeping with Carrack’s honeyed approach at the mic. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Peter MurphyLove Hysteria: Expanded Edition (Pop/Rock)

RAMSEY LEWIS – ROUTES; THREE PIECE SUITE (JAZZ): 1980′s Routes found Lewis rekindling his collaborative successes with Earth Wind and Fire over five tracks; the rest were written by Allen Toussaint — who co-produced the album along with EWF’s Larry Dunn. Three Piece Suite, paired here its counterpart from a year earlier, is a more straight-head jazz project featuring a standout take on Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life.” (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Rick WakemanLive at the Maltings 1976 (Pop/Rock)
Robin TrowerCompendium 1987-2013 (Pop/Rock)
Roy OrbisonThe Last Concert (Pop/Rock)

SupertrampBreakfast in America (Pop/Rock)
Todd RundgrenJohnson Live (Blues)
VangelisAlbedo 0.39; Beaubourg; Direct; Heaven and Hell; Page of Life [Jon & Vangelis]; Spiral (Pop/Rock)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – AN UNREAL DREAM: SOUNDTRACK [Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, others] (COUNTRY): This disc principally showcases the interwoven, delicately conceived work of Rich Brotherton and Chuck Pinnell. The balance of the soundtrack, however, finds Texas musicians reimagining prison songs and spirituals. The best of them is perhaps Robert Earl Keen’s trembling, deeply emotional update of “Take This Hammer.” Jerry Jeff Walker, meanwhile, offers his own take on “Amazing Grace,” giving the song a hill country gait — yet retaining its heart-rendering sense of thankfulness, and of forgiveness. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

VELVET UNDERGROUND – WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT (POP/ROCK): What you hear, both in this album’s gritty focus on noise making and in the late Lou Reed and Company’s stubburn refusal to play by the rules, is the first flowerings of the looming DIY movement — some eight years before anybody had put a label on such things. If the project (now boasting a slew of rare outtakes and unreleased material) couldn’t be described as especially listenable for your average fan of so-called classic rock, then it’s easy to see why White Light/White Heat has remained so critically beloved. This is the sound of a band drawing determinedly outside the lines. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Wet Wet WetStep By Step: Greatest Hits (Pop/Rock)

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