Music New and Reissued for October 16, 2012: Quad Lives!

We've learned about some cool surround discs coming out (we like to keep an eye on interesting sources such as the great UK magazine Record Collector).  We'll be looking for them soon so we can review them for you.  Included are:

Aces: A Quadrophonic Sound Companion For Negotiations Yes, we have just learned the great new album by Portland's The Helio Sequence (on Sub Pop) is out in Quad! We already have the 180-gram vinyl, CD and download covered so as so as we have the surround mix in hand we'll let you know how it stacks up.  GIven the lush ambient flavor of the album, we have high hopes. . .

Ten Years After's A Space In Time CD + DVD with a 4.1 Quadrophonic mix!  This classic early 70s album was out on Quadrophonic LP back in the day. . .

The Who Live in Houston 1975 is out on DVD officially via Eagle Entertainment. Its looking great from what we've seen on YouTube thus far.  Trying to confirm if it is coming out on Blu-ray as well. Stay tuned. . .

Judas Priest's Screaming For Vengeance is available for order in a CD+DVD deluxe edition, including their 12-song set from 1983's US Festival in San Bernadino, CA

The Doors at the Hollywood Bowl '68 is out soon on Blu-ray (and you can preorder now), this time sporting the full track listing and 5.1 surround mix

Shine An Electric Light

ELO-leader co-founder and producer supreme Jeff Lynne is back in music making mode again - his own music!   The new solo album Loving Wave is out on LP, CD and download. Based on the live stream available on the new ELO website, its sounding real nice from what we've heard - in a classically Jeff Lynne sort of way. This is a good thing generally.   We will be trying to get our hands on the vinyl to review in an upcoming column.

From the official ELO/Jeff Lynne website and Frontier Records, the UK company issuing the albums, we learn that there will also be forthcoming a live ELO album and expanded editions of Jeff's "lost" albums coming: Zoom (credited to ELO but its really a Jeff Lynne record with new players) and his quite awesome 1990 solo album - itself almost a hybrid ELO/Traveling Wilburys affair - titled Armchair Theatre.

There is also a new ELO Greatest Hits album called Mr. Blue Sky which isn't quite really an ELO album depending on your perspective.  You see, all the tracks have been re-recorded entirely by Jeff!  

"There was a big reason I wanted to re-record these ELO songs," says Lynne. "When I listen to the old versions they don't sound the way I thought they did when I first wrote and recorded them. I wanted to use the experience I've gained producing records ever since and have a completely new try at them. I'm not saying the old versions aren't good; I like them very much. We were doing our best, but experience and technology also play a big a big part, and these new ones sound much more solid and tight."

We'll be checking these out in the weeks ahead and will get back to you soon as to how they sound.

If Jeff happens to read this, we DO hope that he will pull together the all the remaining members from ELO and from his prior band The Move - including Roy Wood, who still performs in the Europe - for a tour.  It would be so amazing for all of us who never got to see ELO and MOST OF US who never got to see The Move. it would be bliss to see a three or four hour show encompassing all aspects of Jeff's career - vintage Move tunes, ELO and solo tunes.  We can dream, right?

And check out the new ELO Web site

The Jerry Band Lives On

We reported last month that Fantasy Records was planning a major reissue of the complete 1973 recordings made by Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders at The Keystone, in Berkeley (July 10 and 11).

Well. . . I got the box set and am excited about it..

Before I go into how nice the box set is, how good it sounds and such, a brief bit of personal perspective may be in order.

One of my older brothers was into The Grateful Dead and I used to revel over the way trippy covers, from Europe '72's Ice Cream Kid to the Skull & Roses (1971) and Blues for Allah's "Jester" or even Jerry's first solo album with its "tits 'n dials' imagery.  So, when my brother, who was getting increasingly into jazz, brought home a copy of Live at Keystone, it was a whole other experience.

Here were the musicians on the cover, big a life, warts 'n all, bearded, scruffy, smiling and happy together.  The cover perfectly reflected the joyous music spread across these two LPs - sure, it was like the Dead in that Jerry's voice and signature guitar sound was apparent, but the band was a different animal than the Dead - they could swing more.   The songs were all covers - and some unusual covers at that - ranging from Elvis Presley to Jimmy Cliff to Bob Dylan.  I distinctly remember thinking how great it was hearing the album side take of "My Funny Valentine" at that time and how it bordered on territory of other great Bay Area jazz legends such as The Dave Brubeck Quartet and Vince Guaraldi (you know, the guy who did all the Peanuts music!). 

Live at Keystone was - and still is - fun to listen to.   In time it became a favorite of mine, mirroring my escalating enthusiasm for The Jerry Garcia Band almost over that of The Grateful Dead. The Jerry Band,  in fact, surpassed them when The Dead were not at their best in the '80s.  

Anyhow, enough perspective. . .  

Both shows have been issued complete and in the original order they were recorded in, from the master tapes engineered by the legendary Betty Cantor and Rex Jackson.  The sound on these recordings was always top notch and this set is no exception.     Merl's funky keyboards are on the left, and Jerry on the right, bass while the drums hold down the rhythm across the whole stereo soundstage.  If you are looking for loads of room ambiance, this may not be the recording for you as it was made more as a close mic'd  situation, keeping crowd noise to a minimum. None the less, Jerry's guitar is so up front it feels like you are in the studio or on stage with the band at least.  

The packaging on the four disc box set is very nice, if a bit excessive: one gatefold cover per disc, albeit with nice photos from the period and comprehensive notes about the tracks and the team that made it happen. Each cover reproduces  a month schedule flyer from the club revealing that Jerry was spending a lot of time there when not playing with The Grateful Dead - April shows Jerry and Merl playing opening weekend and Jerry's bluegrass group "Old And In The Way"  bookending it.  

Its fascinating to see the other bands playing there around that time:  Herbi Hancock, Graham Central Station, Clover (who later became Huey Lewis' News and backed Elvis Costello on his first LP), Tower of Power, Little Feat, Bonie Raitt, The Pointer Sisters, Elvin Bishop, Dobie Gray, Dr. John, Freddie King, John Lee Hooker, and so on.   What a fertile time for music!  

You even get a reproduction of a beer coaster from The Keystone and a reproduction book of matches which - apparently - were given out at the shows featuring Jerry and Merl's images on the cover (paper - rolling papers, perhaps? - replace the matches for obvious safety reasons). And you get a large fold out almost LP sized poster reproducing the month calendar when the album was recorded - announcing they were recording a new album there that night!  

Speaking of LPs, the original 2 LP set is supposed to be out later this month on multi-colored vinyl! Why would anyone want that AND this box set?  Well there were some overdubs and edits made along the way to create that original album - so if you want to hear that album as it was originally presented, then you should pick up the vinyl  as well.   You know I will be doing so!