The Tragically Hip come from a long line of bands that began as arena-rock-in-my-basement garage outfits, and actually soldiered on to make music worthy of achieving that aspiration. While it's true that 2004's In Between Evolution and the lackluster We Are the Same were missteps because they were squarely aimed at the ever elusive mainstream, Now for Plan A, the Hip's 13th long-player, produced by Gavin Brown, moves them back to their square, toward the immediacy of their earlier records. Its 11 tracks deliver a varied, mostly uptempo, solid sonic ride that combines big-budget rock & roll production with more basic elements of urgency, impulsiveness, and humor.
Hip-O Select's triple-disc 2012 set The Killer Live (1964-1970) fills a bit of a gap in Jerry Lee's archival discography by rounding up his four officially released live albums for Smash and Mercury: Live at the Star Club, Hamburg and The Greatest Live Show on Earth, both released in 1964; By Request: More of the Greatest Live Show on Earth from 1966; and Live at the International, Las Vegas in 1970. The Killer Live expands these four LP by adding 16 bonus tracks, ten of which are previously unreleased, all of which are equally as good as the finished albums – and that means they're terrific, as good as rock & roll music gets.
Basically, what you see is what you get: all of the recordings Stan Getz did for the Norgran and Clef between December of 1952 and January of 1955. Most of this material has been issued several times – at least – by numerous labels legally and illegally. What makes the Hip-O Select set the definitive issue is, besides proper licensing, that all of these cuts, the 10" albums – Stan Getz Plays, The Artistry of Stan Getz, all three Interpretations volumes, and Stan Getz & the Cool Sounds – along with all the single and EP releases for a total of 45 sides – three of them previously unreleased – and a pair of studio cuts that appeared on the otherwise live Stan Getz at the Shrine appear in chronological order.
Hip Hip Hooray is actually a retitled and slightly resequenced reissue of the Troggs' 1968 U.K. album Mixed Bag (which never came out in the United States), tacking on 11 CD bonus cuts from 1970 and 1973 singles. The original title Mixed Bag was an appropriate description of this rather scrapheap assembly, as it wasn't really a regular album. Instead, it was a budget-priced compilation matching eight songs that appeared on British and American singles in 1968 with four others that made their first appearance on the LP. Although all but one of the tracks was a Troggs original ("Hip Hip Hooray" being the lone exception)…
Packaging-wise and title-wise, the Rhino label's Hip Hop: The Collection is as generic as they come, but after that, all complaints are minimal. Get it at the right price, and it doesn't even matter that the theme is mega-broad and that the T.I. hit isn't one everyone knows, because when a collection goes from Afrika Bambaataa's seminal electro-rap "Planet Rock… Don't Stop" to Missy Elliot's "Get Ur Freak On" with barely any filler in the middle, the freak is on and the planet is certainly rocked. The set jumps time periods at will, and yet the sequencing works, so consider it a time capsule or a portable party, because it's both.
All eight of the albums Wes Montgomery issued on Verve in the mid-'60s (including the two he did with organist Jimmy Smith) are on this limited-edition, five-CD box set. With the addition of 20 bonus tracks (none previously unreleased, some of them alternate takes or overdubbed versions) and a 76-page booklet that includes readable reproductions of the original LP sleeves, it's the definitive compilation of his work for the label. By its very size, of course, its appeal might be limited to completists and serious collectors.
Following an unsatisfying three-year stint at Mercury Records, Chuck Berry returned home to Chess in 1969, just like Phil Chess predicted. Heading home didn’t necessarily mean retreating, as the four-disc Have Mercy: His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974 illustrates. During his time at Mercury, Chuck followed the kids wherever they went, aligning himself with the psychedelic ‘60s in a way none of his peers did. This shift is immediately apparent on “Tulane,” the very first song he cut upon his return to Chess. An ode to a couple of kids who dealt dope underneath the counter of a novelty shop, “Tulane” puts Chuck on the side of the counterculture, and over the next five years, he never strayed back to the other side of the fence, often singing about getting stoned, dabbling with a wah-wah pedal, rhapsodizing about rock festivals, cheerfully telling smutty jokes.
Respect/Livin’ It Up, a two-on-one release from Verve Select, brings together two classic albums from Jimmy Smith, the world’s premier jazz-soul organist. Smith became a star with Verve Records in the mid-1960s. He leaned on superb big band arrangements by Oliver Nelson, a change from his earlier, small-group recordings on Blue Note. With Respect in 1967, Smith did something that thrilled his fans: he returned to a small group setting in Rudy Van Gelder’s now-legendary studio with his old Blue Note guitarist Thornel Schwartz, as well as Eric Gale, bassists Ron Carter and Bob Bushnell, and drummers Grady Tate and Bernard Purdie.
An appearance in Hollywood for a first-rate jazz vocalist was not necessarily an opportunity to broadcast your visage and pander to everyone from Tacoma to Tallahassee. It could also include a date at the Crescendo, the Sunset Strip's best chance to find premier jazz. Gene Norman's nightclub hosted dozens of jazz legends (and a comic or two), and produced more than its share of excellent LPs recorded on location. Better even than Mel Tormé's 1954 classic, the Ella Fitzgerald LP that resulted from her May 1961 appearances generated one of the best (and certainly most underrated) live records in her discography – and almost 50 years later, it became a four-CD set compiling ten days' worth of performances.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor's second album lacks anything nearly as distinctive as her early singles "Murder on the Dancefloor" and "Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)," but it's still a solid, perfectly respectable collection of contemporary dance-pop…