Dave Davies, Kinks, Sinead, and more - from Koch
No, not that Koch.
I'm talkin' Koch the record label, which seems to be especially frisky these days. Yeah, Koch the distributor - which has been around for nearly 20 years - is the main claim to fame for parent company Koch Entertainment. But the record label does go all the way back to 1994.
Haven't noticed it much in the pop/rock realm? That's because it has tended to focus on other realms. Let's put it this way: There's a Koch VP who often rides the same commuter train that I do (yes! some record execs take trains!), and whenever I ask him, "How's the music business going?," he invariably answers, "Thank God for rap!"
But over the past few months, Koch the label has been releasing some noteworthy pop/rock fare, to wit:
Dave Davies: Fractured Mindz
Out today, this is a "reissue" of the album that the Kinks guitarist originally released on his Web site in January. It's a squirrelly affair, in a good way, with plenty of Davies-esque melodic hooks and, yes, lotsa guitar (plus some out-there keyboards). And the bonus track? Well, "God in My Brain" goes a long way toward describing how Davies must have felt when he had his stroke in 2004.
The Kinks: Celluloid Heroes
Talk about squirrelly: This is the 1976 compilation of their "greatest" songs - from their RCA albums, that is. But it has been greatly revised here, and it's on stereo hybrid SACD to boot. In fact, this is part of an SACD reissue series for all of the band's 15 RCA and Arista albums, from 1971's Muswell Hillbillies to 1984's Word of Mouth - which Koch acquired when it absorbed Walter Yetnikoff's old label (and previous Kinks reissuer), Velvel.
Sinead O'Connor: Theology
Is she still not your girl? Enough already. This is quite the heady two-CD set, with the same 10 songs each done twice. First, on the "Dublin Sessions" disc, they appear in acoustic-oriented arrangements. Then, on the "London Sessions" disc, they get full-band treatments. Most songs are originals, but there's also a Curtis Mayfield cover, plus "Rivers of Babylon." And the second disc adds "I Don't Know How to Love Him." Yes, that one. Taken all together, Sinead's modern spirituals are a challenge - but really, by this time, you should know how to at least like her. (Click on Sinead's tour for her fall schedule; she returns to the States in September.)
Circus Diablo: Circus Diablo
C'mon, look at that CD cover - do I need to say anything else? Okay, the band members are singer Billy Morrison (Camp Freddy), lead guitarist Billy Duffy (the Cult), guitarist Ricky Warwick (the Almighty), and bassist Brett Scallions (Fuel), joined here by moonlighting drummer Matt Sorum (Velvet Revolver). Do I still need to say anything else? Okay: ROCK & ROLL. It ain't the worst, it ain't the best - but like that CD cover, it sweats. And it screws in the lightbulbs, if ya know what I mean. (The band is touring throughout August, mainly via Ozzfest. Click on Circus Diablo's live dates.)
The Smithereens: Meet the Smithereens!
That is, the Smithereens do the entire Meet the Beatles!, in order, track by track. And nearly note by note. Personally, I much prefer covers that actually do something to the originals. Still, this is admirable in a Fab Faux kinda way (now there's a Beatles cover band you should see). But next time, guys, why not take a classic album and blow it to . . . y'know. (The band has a few gigs coming up - including the Jersey Summer Beatles Bash on August 17 in New Brunswick. Click on Smithereens dates.)
- Ken Richardson
P.S. By the way, Dave Davies fans: His son Daniel Davies is the singer/guitarist for a power trio called Year Long Disaster, which plays - well, straight-ahead power-trio rock, nice and dirty and screechy/bluesy. The band's self-titled debut is due September 25 from Volcom Entertainment.
Here's the cover. And here's the YLD tour itinerary (scroll to the bottom).
(Thanks to Koch for letting me get this mentioned through its back door!)