New Music Monday: Mike Keneally, Freddie Hubbard, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, Journey, Howlin’ Wolf

As the year that is becomes the year that was, it’s perhaps to be expected that retrospective items would move to the fore — and this week, we’re loaded down.

Perhaps most exciting is Mike Keneally’s massive re-do of his beloved 1998 Sluggo! project with Beer for Dolphins — including his first-ever surround mix. There are also vinyl editions coming from Paul McCartney, the Association and the Who. Boz Scaggs gets the gold-disc treatment, too.

Leon Russell’s 1970s recordings set his legend in place, beginning with his 1970 self-titled release and continuing through cornerstone moments like 1972′s Carney. An intriguing new retrospective digs into more recent offerings, underscoring the way Russell has continued to ply his Southern rock-infused craft into the new century.

We take another look at Howlin’ Wolf’s all-star 1970 summit in London, one in which he gooses new sounds out of the likes of Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr, Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton. An opportunity arrives, as well, for a re-evaluation of one of Clapton’s more recent releases, the emotional Pilgrim.

Meanwhile, a rare import compilation catches Journey at that moment between two Steves — offering a slew of old favorites from Perry, as well as some initial recordings with Augeri.

One of our all-time favorite Freddie Hubbard studio efforts — and that’s saying something — is seeing reissue, as well …

Ahmad Jamal TrioComplete 1961 Alhambra Performances (Jazz)
Andrew BirdI Want to See Pulaski at Night (Pop/Rock)
Anita O’DayThe Verve Years: 1957-62 (Jazz)
Benny GoodmanIn Hi-Fi (Jazz)
Billy JoelThe Complete Albums Collection (Pop/Rock)
Buddy GuyI Was Walking Through the Woods (Blues)

BOZ SCAGGS – BOZ SCAGGS [Gold Disc] (BLUES/ROCK): This remastered update of Scaggs’ 1969 sophomore release is highlighted by a stunning collaboration with Duane Allman on Fenton Robinson’s “Loan Me a Dime.” In fact, only one word comes to mind when trying to describe the late Allman’s contribution: dayum. Of course, within the two years he had left, the guitarist would end up making quite the impression. That meteoric rise for Allman starts here. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Cabaret VoltaireCrackdown; #8385; Micro-Phonies; The Covenant The Sword and the Arm of the Lord; The Crackdown (Pop/Rock)
CanVinyl Box (Pop/Rock)

ERIC CLAPTON – PILGRIM [Vinyl] (BLUES/ROCK): Clapton’s first album of original material since 1989′s Journeyman, this was, on its face, a sharp, brave attempt at modernizing the guitarist’s core sound. You hear solid licks situated amongst the prevailing R&B production values of today — keyboards and drum programming, both swirling orchestrations and smooth female backing vocals, these car-frame rattling bass beats. But the album was much more than that. Pilgrim was, save perhaps for Layla, the most intimate, starkly honest recording Clapton has issued so far. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

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Eric GaleForecast (Jazz)
Ella FitzgeraldSwings Gently With Nelson/Sings Broadway (Jazz)
Frank ZappaRoxy & Elsewhere; Uncle Meat (Pop/Rock)

FREDDIE HUBBARD – RED CLAY (JAZZ): Enlisting an all star crew of Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (electric keyboards), Ron Carter (acoustic and electric bass) and Lenny White (drums), Hubbard put their talents behind a uniformly strong set of songs that were mostly blues-based modals at heart with memorable choruses but left plenty of room for some of the spectacular soloing these topliners could provide in their sleep. And every track not just swings, but grooves and sometimes grooves hard. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Gaslight AnthemLive in London (Pop/Rock)
Hank CrawfordI Hear a Symphony (Jazz)

HOWLIN’ WOLF – LONDON SESSIONS (BLUES): This series of collaborative sessions from May 1970 finds members of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Ringo Starr mostly playing it reserved and respectful, while Burnett gamely howls, and growns and spits. Wolf’s health was in decline, though, and struggles with heart problems and a kidney disorder probably led to a few of the disc’s uneven moments. Grizzled yet still great, Burnett ends up challenging the younger players anyway — and Clapton ends up doing some still-rare and revelatory work on the slide. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

JamStudio Recordings (Pop/Rock)
John Lee HookerHouse of the Blues (Blues)

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JOURNEY – CONTINUES (POP/ROCK): This 2001 18-track Japanese import finds Journey in the midst of its first post-Steve Perry iteration, and in keeping blends familiar hits from before like “Wheel in the Sky,” “Any Way You Want It,” “Open Arms,” “Separate Ways” and “Who’s Crying Now” — along with “All the Way” and “Remember Me,” a pair of tracks featuring then-current frontman Steve Augeri. 1998′s “Remember Me” was Augeri’s debut with Journey, originally only found on the soundtrack for Armageddon.Something Else!

Kenny BurrellGod Bless the Child (Jazz)
King CrimsonUSA: 40 Anniversary Edition (Pop/Rock)
Lee Perry and His UpsettersRoaring Lion (Pop/Rock)

LEON RUSSELL – SNAPSHOT (POP/ROCK): A 10-track compilation of tracks from often-overlooked late-period albums by Russell, including “So Hard to Say Goodbye” and “Blue Eyes and a Black Heart” from 1999′s Face in the Crowd; “Come for You” and “Honey and Eli” from 2006′s Angel in Disguise, plus single songs from 1992′s Crazy Love, 2001′s Guitar Blues, 2003′s Almost Piano, 2006′s A Might Flood and 2008′s Bad Country. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Little MiltonGrits Ain’t Groceries; We’re Gonna Make It (Blues)
Louis ArmstrongPlays W.C. Handy: Complete Edition (Jazz)
Lynyrd SkynyrdGimme Back My Bullets [Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
Marty PaichJazz City Workshop (Jazz)

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MIKE KENEALLY BAND – SLUGGO: DELUXE (POP/ROCK): A multi-disc reworking of one of Keneally best-loved releases, including a new stereo mix of the project with bonus tracks — including “Craney,” a rare extra from the Sluggo! sessions and the partially completed “Bob Dylan’s Nose”; another DVD-audio disc featuring four different mixes; a standard DVD with more than two hours of video and the original 1997 CD mix of Sluggo!, with still more bonus material. Also included in this special reissue are original art and new liner notes. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

PAUL McCARTNEY – NEW [Vinyl] (POP/ROCK): While not on a par with Band on the Run, Tug of War, or Flaming Pie, New intrigues in that it presents a different side of McCartney in theme and sounds. It’s the story of a survivor and warrior who shows no signs of retreat or any inclinations toward retirement. The four producers update his music without alienating longtime fans (listen for a few Beatles references in such tracks as “Queenie Eye”). Overall, New offers a snapshot of McCartney’s life today, covering both happiness and heartbreak, and showing a willingness to venture out of his musical comfort zone. (More here.) — Kit O’Toole

RainbowSince You Been Gone: Collection (Pop/Rock)
RoxetteLive: Travelling the World (Pop/Rock)
Ruby BraffSwings (Jazz)

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SlayerDiabolus in Musica; Divine Intervention; God Hates Us All; World Painted Blood (Pop/Rock)
Stone Temple PilotsTiny Music (Pop/Rock)
Tangerine DreamBooster VI; Franz Kafka the Castle (Pop/Rock)
TotoCollection (Pop/Rock)

THE ASSOCIATION – GREATEST HITS [Vinyl] (POP/ROCK): Equipped with spellbinding vocal power that married natural beauty with detailed complexity, this Los Angeles band amassed a clutch of high-charting singles between the years 1966 and 1968. But contrary to most extremely successful bands, the Association had the benefit of walking down the street unrecognized. The band simply didn’t look like rock and rollers. If there was ever a group capable of teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony (apologies to the Hillside Singers and the New Seekers), it would definitely be the Association. (More here.) — Beverly Paterson

The BanglesEternal Flame: The Best of (Pop/Rock)
The Grateful DeadBirth Of The Dead Volume One: The Studio Sessions [Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)

THE WHO – TOMMY: DELUXE VINYL EDITION (POP/ROCK): At once ambitious and complex, the Who’s Tommy stands as a shining moment in their vast career. This project redefined the “concept album” and set the standard for rock operas such as Green Day’s American Idiot. The masterpiece also courted controversy with its challenging themes of child abuse, masochism, drug abuse, worshipping false idols, and many more. A groundbreaking release in 1969, Tommy still holds up, as its wide range of musical styles transcends time. (More here.) — Kit O’Toole

U.d.o.Animal House; Mean Machine; Timebomb [Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
VolcanVolcan [Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jose Armando Gola] (Jazz)
Warren ZevonExcitable Boy [Gold Disc] (Pop/Rock)
will.i.am#willpower (R&B)

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