Blasts from the past

Christ­mas gift op­tions for mu­sic en­thu­si­asts

Owner Driver - - Road Sounds - Greg Bush

THE BIG BAD BLUES Billy F Gib­bons Con­cord/Univer­sal www.bil­ly­gib­

Bearded blues­man Billy F Gib­bons, bet­ter known as the lead singer and gui­tarist of ev­er­green US blues-rock band ZZ Top, re­leased his first solo al­bum Per­fec­ta­mundo in 2015. De­spite ZZ Top con­tin­u­ing to tour, Gib­bons has re­leased a sec­ond solo ef­fort – The Big Bad Blues. The 11 tracks live up to the al­bum’s ti­tle, with Gib­bons’ well-worn vo­cals for the most part tak­ing a back seat to his raw gui­tar riffs. Kick­ing off with ‘Missin Yo Kissin’, a track penned by his wife Gill Still­wa­ter, Gib­bons’ rarely takes his foot off the pedal, al­though he eases off some­what on the Muddy Wa­ters track ‘Stand­ing Around Cry­ing’, a slow, emo­tive grind with gui­tar and har­mon­ica trad­ing licks. But he ramps up the tempo on ‘Rollin and Tum­blin’, an­other Muddy Wa­ters clas­sic. If you’re a ZZ Top fan, you’ll en­joy The Big Bad Blues.


Warner Mu­sic www.warn­er­mu­

As with

The Bea­tles’ “white al­bum” re-re­lease,

An Amer­i­can Trea­sure comes in a va­ri­ety of for­mats, in­clud­ing a two-CD set stan­dard edi­tion con­tain­ing 26 tracks from var­i­ous eras of the late Tom Petty’s ca­reer, mostly as lead singer of The Heart­break­ers. This is no “great­est hits” col­lec­tion how­ever; it’s mostly a mix of live record­ings, al­ter­nate ver­sions and rare tracks. Among the rar­i­ties is ‘Keep A Lit­tle Soul’, which was recorded around the time of the Long Af­ter Dark ses­sions in 1982. There’s also ‘Don’t Treat Me Like A Stranger’, re­leased as the B-side for the UK sin­gle ‘I Won’t Back Down’ in 1989. There’s also a live take of a pre-Heart­break­ers’ track, ‘Hun­gry No More’, which Petty orig­i­nally recorded with his pre­vi­ous band Mud­crutch in the early ’70s. Among the re­main­der is ‘Crawl­ing Back To You’, a soft-rock song lifted from Petty’s 1994 solo al­bum Wild­flow­ers.



NZ mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal­ists Alex Far­rel­lDavey and Al­lis­ter Mef­fan founded Alae as a duo in 2016, re­leas­ing the laid-back sin­gle ‘All Gived Up’. That track is in­cluded on Henry St, Alae’s de­but al­bum, which also fea­tures re­cent re­cruits Jay­den Lee on drums and bassist Marika Hodg­son. Al­though classed as in­die pop, the in­flu­ence of Mef­fan’s jazz pi­ano back­ground can be heard on the clev­erly ti­tled ‘Hell Toupe’, a slow-paced num­ber. Alae speeds it up on ‘Stone Cold’, a track that trans­forms from a low-key be­gin­ning into a cel­e­bra­tion. Far­rel­lDavey’s vo­cals have a re­laxed, earthy qual­ity and he’s at his best on ‘Su­per Im­po­si­tion Pro­jec­tion Boy’. Mef­fan’s pi­ano takes cen­tre stage on the stop-start ‘Time & Money’, and the band shows off its vo­cal har­mony abil­i­ties on ‘Love Hurts Heavy’. A cruisy chill-out ex­pe­ri­ence.


Sony Mu­sic www.mus­cle­shoalss­mall­town­big­

This 16-track col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort cel­e­brates the leg­endary FAME (Florence Alabama Mu­sic En­ter­prises) Stu­dios, lo­cated within the town of Mus­cle Shoals in the US State of Alabama. Mus­cle Shoals: Small Town Big Sound fea­tures 16 new ver­sions of well-known tracks orig­i­nally recorded at the stu­dio. With a big brassy back­ing, Kid Rock tack­les the 1969 Clarence Carter hit ‘Snatch­ing It Back’, R&B artist Aloe Blacc does a con­tem­po­rary cover of The Sta­ple Singers’ 1972 num­ber one ‘I’ll Take You There’, while Aero­smith lead singer Steven Tyler links up with en­er­getic gui­tarist Nuno Bet­ten­court (from rock band Ex­treme) for a fren­zied take of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’. Other artists to ap­pear in­clude Keb Mo (‘The Road of Love’) and Grace Pot­ter (‘I’d Rather Go Blind’). Stu­dio co-owner Rod­ney Hall, whose father founded FAME Stu­dios in 1950, put this top project to­gether, with the help of pro­ducer Keith Ste­gall.


EMI Mu­sic www.the­bea­t­

Sim­ply called The Bea­tles but bet­ter known as “the white al­bum”, this 1968 re­lease was the first dou­ble al­bum from the Liver­pool quar­tet. There are var­i­ous ver­sions of this 2018 repack­aged re-re­lease, in­clud­ing a three-CD edi­tion com­pris­ing the orig­i­nal al­bum remixed plus a third disc con­tain­ing 27 tracks of mostly pre­vi­ously un­re­leased acous­tic demos known as the “Esher demos”. The first 19 tracks mir­ror those on the orig­i­nal re­lease. How­ever, there are a more gems among the other eight tracks, in­clud­ing ‘Sour Milk Sea’, which Har­ri­son wrote for fel­low English­man Jackie Lo­max. Then there’s ‘Child Of Na­ture’, the melody line an ex­act replica of ‘Jeal­ous Guy’, later a solo hit for John Len­non. If you want to in­dulge fur­ther, there’s a “su­per deluxe” ver­sion con­tain­ing seven discs and a 164-page hardcover book.

CHRIST­MAS PARTY The Mon­kees Rhino/Warner www.mon­

The Mon­kees were at their peak in the ’60s, how­ever the three sur­viv­ing mem­bers made a well-re­ceived come­back in 2016 with Good Times, their first new al­bum in 20 years. To keep the fires burn­ing, The Mon­kees have re­leased their first fes­tive sea­son al­bum – Christ­mas Party. It’s a mix of fa­mil­iar re-recorded Christ­mas songs, with a few new ones thrown in, such as the ti­tle track, an al­ter­na­tive rocker which fea­tures REM gui­tarist Peter Buck. Micky Dolenz sings lead on most tracks, de­liv­er­ing a com­mend­able ver­sion of Paul McCart­ney’s ‘Won­der­ful Christ­mas­time’. Mike Ne­smith puts on his best croon­ing voice for ‘The Christ­mas Song’, and Peter Tork de­liv­ers a quirky vo­cal on ‘An­gels We Have Heard On High’. The late Davy Jones mag­i­cally ap­pears on two tracks, in­clud­ing the Hawai­ian Christ­mas song ‘Mele Ka­liki­maka’. This is a sur­pris­ingly cool Christ­mas al­bum.

As well as be­ing in­volved in road trans­port me­dia for the past 19 years, GREG BUSH has strong links to the mu­sic in­dus­try. A for­mer Golden Gui­tar judge for the Coun­try Mu­sic Awards of Aus­tralia, Greg also had a three-year stint as an ARIA Awards judge in the late 1990s and wrote for and edited sev­eral mu­sic mag­a­zines.

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