Blasts from the past
Christmas gift options for music enthusiasts
THE BIG BAD BLUES Billy F Gibbons Concord/Universal www.billygibbons.com
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.
AN AMERICAN TREASURE Tom Petty
Warner Music www.warnermusic.com.au
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.
HENRY ST Alae
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.
MUSCLE SHOALS: SMALL TOWN BIG SOUND Various artists
Sony Music www.muscleshoalssmalltownbigsound.com
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.
THE BEATLES (2018 DELUXE EDITION) The Beatles
EMI Music www.thebeatles.com
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.monkees.com
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.