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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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, May 27, 2005
 

Weekend Reissue Roundup #9 05/28/05

Canned Heat: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (2005)   Son Volt: A Retrospective 1995-2000 (2005)   Various Artists: Motown remixed (2005)   Screaming Trees: Ocean of Confusion: Songs of Screaming Trees 1989-1996 (2005)


Artist: Album (label, release date) 1-5 stars:

Canned Heat: The Very Best of Canned Heat (Capitol, May 24, 2005) ****
Son Volt: Retrospective 1995-2000 (Rhino, May 24, 2005) ****
Various Artists: Motown Remixed (Motown, May 24, 2005) **
Screaming Trees: Ocean of Confusion: Songs of Screaming Trees 1989-1996 (Epic/Legacy May 24, 2005) ****

Notable reissues hitting the stores this week include:

Canned Heat: The Very Best of Canned Heat
Canned Heat: The Very Best Of Canned Heat (2005)
There have been many career retrospectives of this key late-60's blues-rock band in the past, but none were quite as thorough as this one. Hits like "On The Road Again", "Goin' Up The Country", and "Let's Work Together" are here. So are classic recordings from the Monterey Pop Festival, "Rollin' and Tumblin'", "Dust My Broom", and "Bullfrog Blues". Bait for the diehards include a B-side, "Low Down (And High Up)", and unreleased "Henry's Shuffle" from their peak year 1968, and "Rockin' WIth The King" with Little Richard. At 19 tunes, dating from 1967-1971, this is the cream of their output, and all have been digitally remastered. Canned Heat are best remembered for their Woodstock era hits, but were a good band formed by blues historians Al Wilson (who sang in a quavery falsetto that recalled Skip James), and Bob "Bear" Hite. The band was star-crossed, however. Wilson died of a drug overdose in 1970, Hite succumbed to a heart attack in 1978.

Son Volt: A Retrospective 1995-2000
Son Volt: A Retrospective 1995-2000 (2005)
Son Volt was the product of an acrimonious rift between Uncle Tupelo founders Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy went on to found Wilco, Farrar put together Son Volt, which released its well-regarded debut Trace in 1995. After its debut, Son Volt never quite seemed to get it together again; they slipped into a mid-tempo sad-song routine that grew predictable over the course of three albums until Farrar put the group on ice. Predictably, this thorough collection reflects this decline; it kicks off with three excellent Trace songs and a fine duet with Kelly Willis; it then parades the highlights of the lesser albums, all of which are competant pieces of alt-country rock, but none of which are very arresting. The album concludes with demos of "Tear Stained Eye" and "Loose String", a live version of "Medicine Hat", and s Springsteen cover, "Open All Night". The vague dissatisfaction one may feel from the overall package is no fault of this compilation, which lives up to the quality one expects from Rhino. It is in fact a fine retrospective of the band. However, Trace is a more satisfying and consistent listen, overall.

Various Artists: Motown Remixed
Various Artists: Motown remixed (2005)
Remix projects have become all the rage these days, particularly following the success of the Verve: Remixed and Blue Note: Remixed series. While purists bemoan the very existence of such albums, with some justification, they are also not without their charms, and they do serve the useful purpose of getting younger listeners to explore the back catalogs of important but underexposed artists. If any label could benefit from a well-made remix project, surely it would be Motown, home to dozens of first-tier classic r&b artists of the 60's. Unfortunately, these timeless artists are done an injustice by the fly-by-night quality of many of the remixers, most of whom are second-tier at best. The biggest name is King Britt, who monkeyed with the classics on both of the previously mentioned remix projects; here he strips the recordings bare and adds found beats; robbing the originals of their energy and power, turning Edwin Starr's once ferocious "War" into a limp afrobeat and Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown" into a big beat pop extravaganza. And his are the best efforts here. Motown has been in sad shape for 25 years, cannibalizing its own past, and this does nothing to make it seem any more hip.

Screaming Trees: Ocean of Confusion: Songs of Screaming Trees 1989-1996
Screaming Trees: Ocean of Confusion: Songs of Screaming Trees 1989-1996 (2005)
Seattle's Screaming Trees have long been overdue for a serviceable retrospective. Sony Special Products' 10-song 2001 budget release Nearly Lost You was the only compilation of their Epic years, and while it provided the essentials, it was cheap and skimpy and made the band seem less than it really was. The 19-track Ocean of Confusion does a fine job of addressing this omission. While other grunge bands are better remembered, Screaming Trees were as important and good as the others; Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was a particular fan of singer Mark Lanegan's dark, brooding American gothic take on the genre, and it influenced some of Nirvana's sound. This album captures their roiling, minor-key psychedelic sound admirably, and cherry picks all of their essential moments from the era, as well as including a pair of unreleased songs. None of their more influential indie material is included, but this release dovetails nicely with the SST compilation, Anthology: The SST Years 1986-1989.

Also out this week:

Tuscany, a 2001 effort by a re-formed Renaissance, featuring Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford on Friday Music; Let It Be Me, a Nina Simone reissue of a live date from 1980 on Just A Memory; The Very Best a very narrow-focus and non-inclusive Lou Rawls compilation on Blue Note; four John Mellencamp albums with bonus tracks, Big Daddy, Lonesome Jubilee, Scarecrow, and Whenever We Wanted, all on Mercury; and Live: Meadowbrook, Rochester, Michigan 12th September 1971, an excellent live Funkadelic album originally released in 1996, on Westbound.

Weekend Reissue Roundup appears every Friday night/Saturday AM


A slightly modified version of this article appears at Blogcritics.org