Songs of Long Ago

It must have sucked to be Frank Sinatra during the 1960s. After being a dominant musical force throughout the 1950s and recording some of the most timeless albums in pop music history – including In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, Come Fly with Me and Only the Lonely – he was suddenly adrift. To add insult to injury, The Beatles, who were kicking Sinatra’s proverbial ass, were Capitol Records’ label-mates, essentially pushing him aside. But Ol’ Blue Eyes had a few more tricks up his sleeve and his 1969 album My Way (Capitol / UMe / Signature […]

Here, Queer

Currently at a laughable 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, the winter holiday rom-com (and waste of a perfectly good Henry Golding) Last Christmas may be better remembered for the 15-track album Last Christmas: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack featuring the Music of George Michael Wham (Sony / Universal) than anything else. Movies inspired by songs (The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, Convoy, Ode to Billy Joe, Harper Valley PTA) don’t have the best track record. Nevertheless, the gathering of these songs on the soundtrack, including the title tune, “Faith,” “Praying for Time,” “Waiting for that Day,” “One More Try,” […]

Yesterday Today

More than 50 years into his solo recording career, James Taylor shows no signs of slowing down, still performing concerts to sold out houses. Taylor, the first non-Beatle artist signed to Apple Records, went on to record six studio albums for Warner Brothers, followed by a long association with Columbia Records. Taylor’s WB albums, released from the early to mid-1970s, have been reissued in the creatively titled little box set, the Warner Bros. Albums 1970-1976 (WB / Rhino). Taylor set the bar (almost too) high with the first two, 1970’s Sweet Baby James and 1971’s Mud Slide Slim and the […]

Wonderful Christmas Time

Originally released in 1994 and reissued in an expanded CD edition in 2018, Wonderful Christmas Time (UMe), Diana Ross’s only solo Christmas album makes a holiday return in a limited edition, translucent red vinyl double LP set. Bracketing the album with songs by her 60s-era music contemporaries, Paul McCartney (the title track) and John Lennon (“Happy Xmas War is Over”), Ross mixes gospel (“His Eye Is On The Sparrow” and “Go Tell It On The Mountain”) with traditional (“The First Noel,” “Ave Maria,” “Amazing Grace”) and popular (“The Christmas Song,” “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland”) songs of the season wrapped up […]

90s Nostalgia Sounds Like This

If there’s any doubt that 1990s nostalgia is in full swing, check this out. A number of acts who released their first albums in the 1990s, including The Rembrandts (1990), The Muffs (1993), The Dandy Warhols (1995), Sleater-Kinney (1995), Fastball (1996), Third Eye Blind (1997), and Alice Peacock (1999), have all returned with new albums. When you hear the band name The Rembrandts, the first thing that comes to mind may be the song “I’ll Be There For You,” better-known as the theme song to the smash hit NBC series Friends. But The Rembrandts (Danny Wilde and Phil Solem) actually […]

Not Just a Stage

You’ve got to give Michael Longoria, who performed on Broadway in Jersey Boys and Hairspray, credit for being ballsy. On his 2016 album Broadway Brick By Brick he powered his way through a set of popular songs from, you guessed it, Broadway musicals. For his new album, Like They Do in the Movies (Broadway), he turns his attention to songs from the cinema. Longoria begins the album with the catchy original “Kiss Me (Like They Do in the Movies”) before boldly taking on well-known numbers such as “Arthur’s Theme,” “Evergreen,” “Wind Beneath My Wings,” “I Will Always Love You,” “It […]

Vinyl Destination

One of the best things about the vinyl revival is that albums initially issued on CD (and in some cases cassette) only, during the mid-to-late 1990s and throughout the early part of the 2000s, are finally getting the chance to be heard in the beloved, “warm,” classic format. Originally released in 1999, the eponymous debut by Disney darling turned sex kitten Christina Aguilera is now available in a 20th anniversary limited edition on vinyl “pressed on genie orange with fiery red swirls” from RCA / Legacy. Keep in mind this is before her Xtina transformation as she and the far […]

Gayer by the Minute

It looks like 2019 is going to be a good year for out R&B artist Rahsaan Patterson. His song “Tears Ago” is one of the few highlights on Dionne Warwick’s new studio album, her first in five years. Patterson himself steps into the spotlight with his sixth studio album Heroes & Gods (Shanachie), a set of songs that strikes a balance between his smooth and funky sides. On rhythmic numbers such as “Soldier,” “Silly, Love Fool,” “Rock And Roll,” “Catch Me When I Fall,” and the title cut, Patterson invites us to join him on a hot and sweaty dance […]

Stage and Screen – Summer 2019

You have to admit that it’s more than a little strange to watch the third season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” while the strangest thing of all is living in the White House. Plus, the evil Russians subplot frankly hits a bit close to home, if you know what I mean. Nevertheless, the 1980s-set series always has good period tunes and the various artists Stranger Things 3: Music from the Netflix Original Series (Netflix / Legacy) is proof. While it doesn’t have any of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s marvelous Tangerine Dream-esque score, you will find 1980s chestnuts by “Weird Al” […]

Divas by the Dozen

There aren’t a lot of musicians who have a backstory as fascinating as Jenny Lewis’s. A child actress who appeared in the camp/cult flick Troop Beverly Hills (alongside Shelly Long!) and the CBS series Brooklyn Bridge (alongside Marion Ross!), she went on to form the indie pop band Rilo Kiley. Her solo albums, in particular the amazing The Voyager (from 2014) and her new one On The Line (WB) put her in league with brilliant songwriters such as Aimee Mann. On The Line feels like an intentional companion piece to The Voyager and Lewis’s ongoing development as a songwriter of […]