It's the week when all the "big guns" start arriving--when labels pull out all the stops and issue albums by artists they know stand the biggest chance of bringing in big bucks!
So whether it's a brand new album, a commemorative box set, a live DVD, or a special-deluxe-super-spectacular-limited-edition version of an album also available on the cheap--hey, why take chances?--it's a sure sign that somebody somewhere assumes these are titles that the entire world is clamoring for!
Naturally, they're all really good!
Bon Jovi: The Circle/When We Were Beautiful (CD/DVD) (Island/Def Jam) Far be it from me to suggest I am totally mystified why this fascinatingly mediocre band continues to exist, sell records and concert tickets, strike up lucrative deals with struggling television networks, and actively tout that they've sold "more than 120 million records"! Perhaps it's their hair! But as this fab disc's opening track "We Weren't Born To Follow" makes abundantly clear, rules were made to be broken, and when Bon Jovi enters the room, it's Katie bar the door! Like the 50 million other Bon Jovi Fans who can't be wrong, I'm most taken with the accompanying DVD film When We Were Beautiful--a thrilling sci-fi effort detailing the death of every human in the world except the members of Bon Jovi! Its surprise ending--they survive!--sets the stage for next year's inevitable sequel, When We Were The Best Band In The World! In short: a no-holds-barred masterpiece! Flyleaf: Memento Mori (A&M/Octone) In a stunning turn of events I actually like Flyleaf and think this is a great album! The Texas quintet mix loud and searing guitars with the nutty, emotional howling of their captivating lead singer Lacey Mosley in a manner that suggests the sort of unbalanced psyche that guys like me like best! Mosley's mixture of gothic Christianized shrieking and soothingly seductive singing can't help but remind many of us of a scenario in which she's standing in the kitchen, with black smudges under her eyes, telling you she's just put your dog in the oven! Yep! Go for the deluxe edition! Tori Amos: Midwinter Graces (Universal Republic) Tori Amos's celebrated ability to fly--as depicted on this album's cover--is just one of the many integral parts of her fab new "Seasonal" album! Rather than go the predictable, hackneyed route of lesser lights like Bob Dylan and Burl Ives and simply record a batch of Christmas carols to order, quirky singer/songwriter Amos has instead recorded an ode to many of her best friends in the kitchen--including hazelnut extract, fajita marinade, cumin salt, citrus extracts, infused oils, red chile wash, blueberry vinegar and little-known cult favorite harissa! As such, tracks such as "Holly, Ivy, And Rose" and "Pink And Glitter" have a refreshing "bite" to them sure to last all year round! This is one talented lass! Ray Davies & The Crouch End Festival Chorus: The Kinks Choral Collection (Decca) If like me you've been mildly bored by every Kinks album Ray Davies made since 1971's Muswell Hillbillies, here's a surprise: Not an elaborate rock opera concept, not a pandering, lowest-common-denominator rock-out, but instead a completely unexpected "choral" version of some of Davies' best ever songs, including a six-song suite from Village Green Preservation Society! And it sounds great! That said, Davies' Green Day rip-off "Picture Book" does cast a dour note midway through the album! At least he's stealing from the masters! AC/DC: Backtracks (Columbia) Speaking of masters, AC/DC are one of very few artists who have essentially defined a complete genre-- loud, brutal, riff-filled rock 'n' roll! This collection will thrill those fans still capable of hearing, as it's a boxed collection of rarities--live and in the studio--as well a DVD entitled Family Jewels Disc Three! How can you lose? The "regular" version of this set is cleverly packaged in an amplifier-shaped box, but the deluxe version, pictured here, can only be obtained from http://www.acdcbacktracks.com/ --and, incredibly, is an actual working guitar amplifier! Cool! Music fans worldwide can now look at copies of Dolly Parton's latest box set and ponder the missed opportunities! Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out [40th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set] (Abkco) Did anybody say deluxe package? The top-of-line new version of the Stones' classic 1969 live set is a sight to behold: Three audiophile vinyl discs, matching CDs (with the original Ya-Ya's disc remastered), a fascinating DVD featuring the Stones onstage and elsewhere, a jumbo booklet, poster, and quite a bit more! As might be expected, the sound is excellent throughout, and the third disc--which features performances by B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner, in their prime, from the same Madison Square Garden gigs--is, as some might say, revelatory! Available in lesser versions (sans vinyl, etc.), this version of the Stones' landmark set is the one to own! Especially if you're cash-friendly! The Killers: Live From The Royal Albert Hall (CD/DVD) (Island) Further on the live-music-at-a-distinguished-venue tip come the mighty Killers, live at the Royal Albert Hall! A dream come true? The world says yes! Fans will be thrilled by this generous DVD/CD pairing, which features nearly three hours of video (from the Royal Albert Hall and elsewhere), bonus interviews, and other stuff that typically pops up on the screen when you press "menu" on the remote control! Additionally, a 78-minute live CD features the Killing dudes running through a vast array of their singular repertoire, picking and choosing their favorites and yours! Frankly, my pulse is racing! Dashboard Confessional: Alter The Ending (Interscope) There's no denying that Chris Carrabba has a longstanding and loyal audience, especially if someone actually brings it up! The deluxe version of his latest set features dual performances of the album's 12 songs: acoustic versions and the real ones! Considering that the set features well-respected producers like Butch Walker and Adam Schlesinger, and that all Dashboard songs are strictly aimed at the heart and soul, there's no need to alter this ending! Everybody wins! Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Live (CD/DVD) (Abstract Dragon/Vagrant) Structurally similar to the Killers' set above--a live performance accompanied by a live CD and additional video bonus features--this collection features the BRMC dudes in Glasgow, Dublin and Berlin, is atmospheric as all get out, and may take users several hours to pull the discs out of their slipcase! During that time, one can listen to many of the other releases issued this week--except for that Bon Jovi one--and increase the overall fun quotient exponentially! No longer an American version of the Jesus & Mary Chain, but instead a dark bunch of rockers exploring their innermost hopes and aspirations in an agreeable manner, the BRMC have grown up! Some members even shave! Wale: Attention Deficit (Allido/Interscope) Pronounced "Wal-lay," this Washington-based rapper need only join forces with M.Ward, indie rockers June and guitarist Little Beaver to garner even more attention!
- Bon Jovi