Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach first collaborated on "God Give Me Strength," a sweeping ballad that functioned as the centerpiece in Allison Anders' Grace of My Heart. It was a stunning song in the tradition of Bacharach's classic '60s work and it was successful enough that the composers decided to collaborate on a full album, Painted from Memory. Wisely, they chose to work within the stylistic parameters of Bacharach's '60s material, but Painted from Memory never sounds like a stylistic exercise. Instead, it's a return to form for both artists. Bacharach hasn't written such graceful, powerful melodies since his glory days, and Costello hasn't crafted such a fully realized album since King of America. It's a testament to both that even if the album is clearly in Bacharach's territory, it feels like a genuine collaboration.
It's hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter, one of considerable skill, imagination, and vision. At the time, folk had been quite popular on college campuses and bohemian circles, making headway onto the pop charts in diluted form, and while there certainly were a number of gifted songwriters, nobody had transcended the scene as Dylan did with this record. There are a couple (very good) covers, with "Corrina Corrina" and "Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance," but they pale with the originals here. At the time, the social protests received the most attention, and deservedly so, since "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" weren't just specific in their targets; they were gracefully executed and even melodic. Although they've proven resilient throughout the years, if that's all Freewheelin' had to offer, it wouldn't have had its seismic impact, but this also revealed a songwriter who could turn out whimsy ("Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"), gorgeous love songs ("Girl From the North Country"), and cheerfully absurdist humor ("Bob Dylan's Blues," "Bob Dylan's Dream") with equal skill.
Founding Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman essentially retired from music after leaving the band in 1993, choosing to dedicate time to his family and his restaurant, Sticky Fingers. He returned to music in 1997 with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, a rotating old-time rock & roll, R&B, blues, and boogie collective of superstar musicians anchored by keyboardist Georgie Fame, guitarist Albert Lee, pianist Gary Brooker, and guitarist Terry Taylor. Their first album, Struttin' Our Stuff, appeared that year and it was followed two years later by Anyway the Wind Blows, which featured cameos from Peter Frampton, Geraint Watkins, Paul Carrack, and, notably, fellow Stone Keith Richards. Groovin' arrived in 2000, reaching a career peak of 52 on the U.K. charts. Next was Double Bill in 2001 and Just for a Thrill in 2004, before the band primarily dedicated itself to live performances.