New Music Monday: Joe Louis Walker, Neneh Cherry, Jeremy Spencer, Pantera

Neneh Cherry and Jeremy Spencer, the co-founding Fleetwood Mac slide guitarist, offer albums that push hard at the edges of their own recorded legacies — while Joe Louis Walker, who’s finally getting his just rewards, settles into a well-deserved familiarity on his newest album.

We make the case for an often-overlooked Pantera album, and for Johnny Winter’s deep-blues sides. We return to a seminal surprise from Bob Mould, of Husker Du fame.

Then there’s a new vinyl offering from Peter Gabriel, a reissue of the Blues Brothers’ utterly involving debut album, and the surprise return (to us, anyway) of House of Lords …

AmbrosiaOne Eighty; Road Island (Pop/Rock)
BeckMorning Phase (Pop/Rock)

THE BLUES BROTHERS – BRIEFCASE FULL OF BLUES (R&B): Opening and closing with an update of Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” and lodging “Soul Man” in between, seemed entirely appropriate considering that the Blues Brothers’ sidemen included Stax greats like Steve Cropper. In fact, this soundtrack to a comedy film held a surprisingly well-developed sense of commitment to material throughout. From Junior Wells to Delbert McClinton to Big Joe Turner to the seminal Canadian blues band Downchild, this Briefcase was overstuffed with smartly remade classics — and, in this Chips’ “Rubber Biscuit” a bit of humor to round things out. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

BOB MOULD – WORKBOOK 25 (POP/ROCK): In its time, the Husker Du alum’s first solo album couldn’t have been more revelatory — an acoustic-tinged rumination when everyone was expecting another torrent of guitar. Omnivore celebrates this early Mould triumph by reissuing the original 11 tracks, plus an uncollected b-side called “All Those People Know,” and a life performance from just two week’s after Workbook arrived that includes 13 unissued songs — including concert updates from this album, Husker Du favorites and Mould’s take on “Shoot Out the Lights,” the classic from Richard and Linda Thompson. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Brad MehldauMehliana: Taming the Dragon (Jazz)
Bruce BarthDaybreak (Jazz)
Chuck BerryBerry Is on Top (Pop/Rock)
David G. SmithOne House (Jazz)
Dierks BentleyRiser (Country)
Don AireyKeyed Up (Pop/Rock)
Flaco Jimenez and Max BacaFlaco and Max: Legends and Legacies (International)

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Flock of SeagullsPlaylist: The Very Best (Pop/Rock)
Gene Ludwig and Pat Martino TrioYoung Guns (Jazz)
Grateful DeadBirth of the Dead Volume Two: The Live Sides (Pop/Rock)
HeartFanatic: Live From Caesar’s Colosseum (Pop/Rock)

HOUSE OF LORDS – PRECIOUS METAL (POP/ROCK): Didn’t know these guys were still around. I was never a huge fan, as they were on the lighter, more keyboard driven side of the hard rock spectrum, but I did love their cover of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” back in the day. — Fred Phillips

James BrownAin’t it Funky; The Popcorn (R&B)

JEREMY SPENCER – COVENTRY BLUE (BLUES): Fleetwood Mac alum Spencer, after a lengthy sabbatical was finally broken with 2006’s more traditionally blues-focused Precious Little, simply sounds reborn. Subsequently joining a group of younger musicians for 2012’s Bend in the Road as well as this new project has opened up his muse, allowing him to build on his embedded blues influences rather than focus on them exclusively. Titles like “Got to Keep Moving” and “Sweet Were the Days” point the way, as Spencer reaches forward into more collaborations with Brett Lucas and Rachel May, even as he returns to his past on tracks like the Mac-era leftover “Open the Door” with a eye toward drawing out new details.(More here.) — Nick DeRiso

JOE LOUIS WALKER – HORNET’S NEST (BLUES): It’s a time of consolidation for Joe Louis Walker, an attacking blues guitarist who has, forever it seemed, been the best modern player to never get his due. That changed in a big way with 2012’s aptly named Alligator debut, Hellfire. All of a sudden, Walker was garnering album of the year awards and, in a move as surprising as it was overdue, induction into the Blues Hall of Fame. Why mess with a good thing, right? In keeping, Walker’s forthcoming album has a similar feel, and a lot of the same things that Hellfire had going for it. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

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John LennonImagine [Blu-ray Audio] (Pop/Rock)

JOHNNY WINTER – TRUE TO THE BLUES: THE JOHNNY WINTER STORY (BLUES): He rose to fame playing a flame-kissed fusion of blues rock alongside Rick Derringer, scoring huge turn-of-the-1970s hits on the pop charts. But Johnny Winter, as this 56-track, four-CD Legacy set makes utterly clear, couldn’t wait to get back to the blues. The straight blues, the real stuff. It’s a deep misunderstanding of who he was — and who he always wanted to be — to think of Johnny Winter any other way — whatever the Billboard charts say. You want to know the Johnny Winter story? Listen to the blues stuff, and there’s a heaping helping of it here. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

King’s XOut of the Silent Planet (Pop/Rock)
NazarethSound Elixir (Pop/Rock)

NENEH CHERRY – BLANK PROJECT (POP/ROCK): This is just what you’d hope from the now-50-year-old Cherry, who last led a record when she was 32: She’s gained a generation full of maturity, but lost none of her youthful edge. As Cherry showed how experimental and underground can coexist with currently popular music styles, Blank Project had me thinking that this is the record Yoko Ono should have made last year when she released Take Me To The Land of Hell, which, while had its moments, wasn’t nearly the same coherent original statement. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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Tri-FiStaring into the Sun [Matthew Fries, Phil Palombi and Keith Hall] (Jazz)

PANTERA – FAR BEYOND DRIVEN: 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (POP/ROCK): I differ from many Pantera fans in that Far Beyond Driven, not Vulgar Display of Power, is my favorite record by the band. To me, the album has a little more intensity, and then there’s that riff — the riff, in my mind — from “Becoming.” There’s nothing on the new edition quite as exciting as the “lost track” that popped up on the Vulgar Display of Power anniversary edition. The first disc is the original album remastered, while the second features a live performance from the Far Beyond Driven tour. — Fred Phillips

PETER GABRIEL – SCRATCH MY BACK AND I’LL SCRATCH YOURS [Vinyl] (POP/ROCK): The idea for Gabriel’s first new studio effort since 2002’s Up was to cover the work of others, even as the former Genesis frontman invited reinterpretations of his own work. There are times, often when Gabriel’s guests are in the spotlight, where this concept offers its genuine intrigues. However, more often than not, the project stumbles as Gabriel gets lost in his own over-curated readings. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

RattDancing Undercover; Out of the Cellar (Pop/Rock)
Rod StewartThe Rod Stewart Album (Pop/Rock)
Rock Candy Funk PartyRock Candy Funk Party Takes New York (Pop/Rock)
ShakiraCan’t Remember to Forget You (Pop/Rock)
Silversun PickupsThe Singles Collection (Pop/Rock)
St. VincentSt. Vincent (Pop/Rock)
SuedeComing Up; Dog Man Star; Sci-Fi Lullabies (Pop/Rock)
SupersuckersGet The Hell [Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
The RunawaysLive In Japan (Pop/Rock)

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