As part of The Stranglers' celebration of their Ruby Anniversary, the definitive collection of the B-side recordings they made whilst signed to Epic is released for the first time, via their own label. Appropriately, as befits a band marking forty years together, Here & There: The Epic B-sides Collection 1983-1991 gathers 40 tracks across 2 CDs and is also released as a 40 track digital package. The Stranglers released no less than 13 singles in the UK during this period, which saw them produce five albums: four studio and one live. The Stranglers signed to Epic Records in 1982 having been with United Artists / Liberty since 1977. The change of label coincided with changes in marketing policy across the UK industry - often dubbed "the Frankie Goes to Hollywood effect". Previously, The Stranglers' had released only one 12" single - an extended version of Bear Cage in 1980 - but from 2nd Epic single, Midnight Summer Dream until 1990, each release had a 12" version which required extra studio or, increasingly, live tracks to "add value" to the package.
Hope Sandoval isn't the quickest worker, it took Mazzy Star almost 20 years to put out their fourth album, and this record comes seven years after the last one she made with Colm Ó Cíosóig under the Warm Inventions name. Despite the time it took to arrive, Until the Hunter is no great departure for the duo. It features many hushed, lit-by-candlelight ballads, loads of quiet beauty, and Sandoval's timelessly beautiful singing. Songs drift by on a wispy cloud of acoustic strumming, lazily twanged slide guitar, and twinkling keys, sometimes gently pushed forward by lightly brushed drums, sometimes left to float along on their own. New to the mix this time is vibraphone, as played by Sandoval, and a couple songs that stretch her horizons just a bit…
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. The aptly titled The Warm Sound reunites Frances Wayne with husband and arranger Neal Hefti, adding to the equation a wonderful support unit including tenorist Al Cohn, guitarist Billy Mure, pianist Hank Jones, and flautist Jerome Richardson to yield one of the singer's most delightful and consistent sessions. Hefti keeps his more extravagant impulses in check here, creating a series of sophisticated but appealingly simple arrangements that underscore the breathy appeal of Wayne's vocals. Likewise, warhorses including "'Round Midnight" and "Prelude to a Kiss" prove particularly well-matched to her sexy but sweet persona.
Phil Manzanera had no problem filling his mid-'70s downtime away from Roxy Music. His guitar graced some 20 albums, like John Cale's Fear, Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets, and Nico's The End. This outing from his all-star side group is slicker than his 1976 live debut album, but no less worthwhile; some 16 musicians are credited. The sound is sleek and sophisticated; even lyrics aren't exempt from creative twists, as shown on "Listen Now"'s glistening jazz-pop – which cleverly juxtaposes its title against a bouncy "now, now, listen" chorus.
Before and After Science is really a study of "studio composition" whereby recordings are created by deconstruction and elimination: tracks are recorded and assembled in layers, then selectively subtracted one after another, resulting in a composition and sound quite unlike that at the beginning of the process. Despite the album's pop format, the sound is unique and strays far from the mainstream. Eno also experiments with his lyrics, choosing a sound-over-sense approach.
Continuing the twisted pop explorations of Here Come the Warm Jets, Eno's sophomore album, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), is more subdued and cerebral, and a bit darker when he does cut loose, but it's no less thrilling once the music reveals itself. It's a loose concept album – often inscrutable, but still playful – about espionage, the Chinese Communist revolution, and dream associations, with the more stream-of-consciousness lyrics beginning to resemble the sorts of random connections made in dream states.