Music Consumption in the MP3 Era
Music Consumption in the MP3 Era

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Name: uao
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uao is also a contributor to Blogcritics.org, Rhapsody Radish. and FIQL.com.

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Feel free to dig through the Deep Freeze for more, but stuff dated before mid-March 2005 is still formative and impressionistic, and not really worth the effort.

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Note: the copyrighted audio material on this site is for listening only, and is not downloadable. It is provided as illustrations to the articles, and to interest people in the legal purchase of these artists' material. Any copyright holder who would like their material removed should contact me, and I'll remove it.

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Friday, April 01, 2005
 

Weekend Reissue Reviews #1 04/01/05

Note: This will be a new regular feature at Freeway Jam; it will appear every Friday, and will offer capsule reviews/profiles on the most recent rock-related reissues. These articles will also be available through Blogcritics.Org. Breaking with the tradition of naming posts after song titles, this column will be clearly marked for convenience; I'm going to try to organize this place a little. Me do the evolution.

Recent new reissues (label, release date), Jam Tags, 1-5 stars, follow:

Concrete Blonde: The Essential (Capitol, Mar. 29, 2005) ****
The Motels: Essential Collection (Capitol, Mar. 29, 2005) ***
Billy Squire: Absolute Hits (Capitol Mar. 29, 2005) ***
Duran Duran: Greatest [Deluxe Edition] (Capitol Mar. 29, 2005) ***

Concrete Blonde: The Essential (2005)   The Motels: The Essential Collection (2005)   Billy Squire: Absolute Hits (2005)   Duran Duran: Greatest [Deluxe Edition] (2005)


We'll kick off this column with 4 brand-new compilations from Capitol Records of four 1980's artists. None of them were in any grave need of a new anthology; serviceable ones had been released for each previously. What these offer are a few additional tracks, some resequencing, and in the case of Duran Duran, an accompanying DVD.

Concrete Blonde: The Essential
Concrete Blonde: The Essential (2005)
Concrete Blonde was formed in L.A. by singer/bassist Johnette Napolitano and guitarist Jim Mankey in the early 80's as Dream 6. They recorded five albums for IRS records in 1987-1993. The band broke up in 1995, but reformed in 2001, releasing three more albums. The Essential doesn't give a complete overview; its chronological track listing ends abruptly with two tracks from the 1992 release Walking In London. They shared some characteristics with other bands active in L.A. clubs at the time, including X and Wall of Voodoo, but had a more somber, darker, goth-like feel. The song selection through their best album, Bloodletting (1990) is fine; their surprise top-40 "Joey" is here, as is the dark rumination on death, "Tomorrow Wendy" and the defiant "Still In Hollywood" Missing are some of the later cuts that actually made the Modern Rock chart, including "Ghost Of A Texas Ladies' Man" and "Someday?". While it would have been nice if they were included, and if the timeline could have stretched another year to represent their full IRS career, this sampler is still a good place to start with this band, since their stronger early releases are well-represented.

The Motels: Essential Collection
The Motels: The Essential Collection (2005)
The Motels emerged from the L.A. new wave scene in 1979. Led by Martha Davis, the Motels charted a number of the more memorable new-wave singles of the day, including the #9 "Only The Lonely" and the #9 "Suddenly Last Summer", both of which are present here. In truth, the band had as much in common with the glossy-produced California hard rock of the late 70's; the band had been around in various configurations since the early 70's. Adding a synthesizer to the mix earned them their hits; their popularity was short-lived however, and by 1987 they had broken up. Capitol, for whatever reasons, has never seen fit to put out a single compilation that contains all of their charted singles, and this is no exception, missing "Shame", a big enough hit to reach #21, their first chart single "Forever Mine" (#60), and the title track from their biggest album, Little Robbers. So, considering that this band had only a handful of hits, and their album cuts are fairly disposable, it seems an unnecessary omission. If you really just want the two top-10's, this'll do. But it could have been a lot smarter.

Billy Squire: Absolute Hits
Billy Squire: Absolute Hits (2005)
Squire was one of the very last of the classic 70's-mold arena rockers, in some respects. His heyday was short; from about 1981 to 1984, but during that time he was one of the only new arena rock acts to really hit big; new wave, punk, and MTV had largely diminished arena rock's market share. His sound was streamlined Zeppelin-esque hard rock, full of bombast; his biggest hits "The Stroke" "My Kinda Lover" "In The Dark" and "Everybody Wants You" are calculated commercial rock moves, but display a manic energy and a lot of guitar. He shot himself in the foot with a video for "Rock Me Tonite" where he infamously prances around like a dandy; his fan base eroded sharply after that. Still, he charted in the lower reaches of the Hot-100 through the decade, and had a #4 Modern Rock Tracks radio hit in 1991 with the double entendre "She Goes Down". All of those are here, plus live versions of "The Stroke" and "Everybody Wants You", from the King Biscuit Flower Hour, a nice enticement. How much you need this depends on how much you need Billy Squire; when you get past the cock-rock strutting there isn't much. But this does have most of the "best".

Duran Duran: Greatest [Deluxe Edition]
Duran Duran: Greatest [Deluxe Edition] (2005)
How "great" they are is definitely a matter of taste, and it's unlikely this will change anyone's mind one way or another. The common wisdom is that these guys' first two albums are far and away their best, and they steadily ran out of steam after that. The other common wisdom is that they weren't much without their videos, which were among the most popular videos on MTV, featuring their good looks, exotic locations, naked and near-naked girls, and their synthesizer-based Simon LeBon-sung New Romantic hits. This collection addresses the latter issue admirably by including a DVD of a dozen of their best-known videos (a two-disc DVD from which this is culled came out in 2003). As for the music, be warned; four of the album's 19 songs have been slightly edited for space, the programming jumps all over the place, a lot of hits are missing, and some of those present aren't as good as a lot of left-off 80's material from Duran Duran or Rio. Not only that, but the el-cheapo cover art is lousy; couldn't Capitol have come up with a little eye candy for this very visual band? So: not an ideal purchase for the casual fan or fanatic; worth it in the end if you really want a single disc of hits and a single disc of video all in one shot.

A modified version of this post can be seen at Blogcritics.org