The Tibetan Freedom Concert was the largest rock charity event of 1997, a two-day event held in June that featured many of the biggest names in rock and rap. Appropriately, it was filmed and recorded with the intention of being released later in the year as a charity record. The triple-disc set, The Tibetan Freedom Concert, is the extraordinary document of that weekend, containing one performance apiece from the 36 artists who appeared at the concert.
Brian Eno will soon issue expanded versions of four of his albums originally released in the 1990s Nerve Net (1992), The Shutov Assembly (1992), Neroli (1993) and The Drop (1997) will each be reissued as a two-CD deluxe editions containing the original album and an additional disc of unreleased and rare Eno work specific to each record. Nerve Net includes the first ever commercial release of lost Eno album My Squelchy Life; The Shutov Assembly features an album’s worth of unreleased recordings from the same period; Neroli includes an entire unreleased hour-long Eno ambient work New Space Music; and The Drop includes nine rarely heard tracks from the Eno archives. Each album comes in deluxe casebound packaging and is accompanied by a 16-page booklet compiling photos, images and writing by Eno that is relevant to each release.
The Drop finds Brian Eno replicating the floating, trancy sound of Neroli, creating a shimmering collection of ambient music. Although The Drop illustrates that ambient doesn't all sound the same – it can be soothing and scary, sometimes both at once – the album doesn't particularly hold the listener's interest, as the shifting electronic soundscapes never reveal any substantial compositions…
Gary Numan is known for robotic, stylized singing. His primitive electronics and pre-"new romantic" sound did nothing for me. A myriad, zealous voices will tell you that Numan was sings "good songs." Now, in this 2-CD collection of Numan interpretations you can hear those good songs without Numan's idiosyncratic delivery. The known and the unknown join to make proto-dance music out of mechanical master's material. Matt Sharp (Weezer) and Damon Albarn (Blur) cover "We Have a Technical." Also on the compilation are Gravity Kills, EMF, The Magnetic Fields, Jesus Jones, the out-of-place hip hop group Underdog (but, there's only one of them), Sukia, The Orb, Pop Will Eat Itself. One of my favorite cuts is "Metal" by Towering Inferno. Brian Eno described their Kaddish album as "frightening" and they are here joined by Eddie Reader. I also am very fond of the two versions of "Are 'Friends' Electric?" Techno rockers Republicaare joined by Numan himself for one version and Belgian discovery An Pierle offers another.
In a career dating back to 1968, Now was only Paul Rodgers' second solo album of original material, following 1983's Cut Loose. Of course, in that time he fronted Free, Bad Company, the Firm and the Law, and in the early 1990s crafted tributes to Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix, so he wasn't exactly idle. Now was an album for Free and Bad Company fans, recreating those groups' guitar-bass-drums backing and bluesy hard rock sound. It has always been amazing that a singer as distinctive as Rodgers, whose gruff voice can be identified within seconds, has remained anonymous behind his group monikers. And it is doubly surprising since Rodgers has always performed the same kind of simple, driving rock. Now was more of the same: as a songwriter, Rodgers' lyrics rarely moved far from expressions of love and longing, and as a composer he never moved beyond a few basic chords. What mattered, of course, was that voice, and it was as powerful on Now as it had ever been.