Jackson Browne faced the nearly insurmountable task of following a masterpiece in making his second album. Having cherry-picked years of songwriting the first time around, he turned to some of his secondary older material, which was still better than most people’s best and, ironically, more accessible — notably such songs as “These Days,” which had been covered six times already, dating back to Nico’s Chelsea Girl album in 1967, and “Take It Easy,” a co-composition with the Eagles’ Glenn Frey that had been a Top 40 hit for the group in 1972.
Brian Setzer reconvenes his big band for its first non-Christmas-related set since 2000's Vavoom! Here he rearranges well-known classical themes from Beethoven, Strauss, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and others into Vegas-ized Rat Pack-era swing. It's a fun concept that buys the guitarist time by not having to compose new material, even though these arrangements, many of them quite complex, must have taken a while to construct. Setzer's well-received jump version of The Nutcracker Suite from 2002's Boogie Woogie Christmas probably got this ball rolling as Setzer digs the crazy classical beat with a dozen peppy selections that put his impressive guitar skills to use against finger-snapping horn charts.
Echoes are a four-piece band formed in 2002 in the French town of Rouen. They play a brand of progressive rock influenced by King Crimson, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Queen and Deep Purple, as well as by classical music. Their first, self-produced album, called "Entrance is Everywhere", was released in 2004; while their second effort, "Rachel", was released in September 2007.
What the world needs more of is intelligently planned, stupendously played, and brilliantly recorded collections like this one. These two discs contain all the piano works of Michael Tippett, works that come from every period of the composer's very long life except his very last. It includes the youthful, tuneful Piano Sonata No. 1 written between 1936 and 1938 and revised in 1941, the massive Fantasia on a Theme of Handel from 1941, the exuberant Piano Concerto from 1955, the experimental Piano Sonata No. 2, the gnomic almost Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 3 from 1973, and the gnarly post-Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 4. It features a bravura performance by pianist Steven Osborne that makes the best case for all the music, no matter how outré or recherché its harmonic proclivities or rhythmic audacities. Osborne has the emotional enthusiasm, intellectual clarity, physical strength, and sheer willpower to make listeners believe that Tippett is a major English composer and make them wonder why they ever doubted it. With the superlative accompaniment of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Martyn Brabbins in the Concerto and the Fantasia and the sparkling recording by Andrew Keener for Hyperion, this disc marks a major step forward in the Tippett discography.