Review: Peggy Lee, “At Last: The Lost Radio Recordings”

When Mad Men returned to television on April 5 for the first of its final seven episodes, viewers saw a different Don Draper - perhaps ready, at last, to realize what he'd become.  To underscore his possible epiphany of disillusionment, the strains of Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" recurred numerous times throughout the episode.  The song's placement underscored just how resonant Lee's music - mysterious, elegant, startling, bluesy, sensual, sly, hip, alternately hot and cool - continues to

Review: Wes Montgomery, “In the Beginning”

Never-before-heard music by Wes Montgomery isn't easy to come by.  Montgomery - an influence to George Benson, Jimi Hendrix, Pat Metheny and every great guitar man in between - didn't enter a recording studio until 25 years of age, didn't record as a leader until another ten years had elapsed, and was dead ten years after that, felled by a heart attack at age 45. His body of work can neatly be divided into three distinct periods at different labels: Riverside (1959-1964), Verve (1964-1966) and

The Ides of March Celebrate 50 Years with “Last Band Standing” Box Set

"Beware the ides of March," goes the famous admonition.  Thankfully, Jim Peterik, Larry Millas, Bob Bergland and Mike Borch didn't heed the warning.  Formed in Berwyn, Illinois in 1965 as the Shon-Dels, The Ides of March are still going strong 50 years later with their brassy blend of good-time rock and roll, R&B, pop and soul epitomized on the 1970 hit single "Vehicle."  These rock and roll survivors and local legends around the Chicago scene have recently assembled a definitive box set

Review: Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, “Best of Songs”

In a career spanning almost thirty years on both independent and major labels, Drivin' N' Cryin' has refused to be pigeonholed.  The band, formed by Kevin (or Kevn) Kinney in 1985 has happily leaped from genre to genre, drawing on hard rock, country, pop, punk and other influences.  Between June 2012 and January 2014, the band - now consisting of Kinney, founding member Tim Nielsen, Sadler Vaden and Dave V. Johnson - recorded a series of four EPs from which a tight, all-killer, no-filler

RPM Hitches a Ride with Vanity Fare On New 2-CD Complete Anthology

With "Hitchin' a Ride" and "Early in the Morning," Vanity Fare assured its immortality to AM radio connoisseurs.  The two 1969 hits are still in rotation on oldies radio today, but they're just two of the nearly 50 songs cut by the British band over the ten year period of 1966 to 1976.  Cherry Red's RPM label has recently put those two famous tunes in context with Vanity Fare's I Live for the Sun: Complete Recordings 1966-76.  This 2-CD anthology collects the band's output for the Page One, DJM,

Review: The Pretenders CD/DVD Reissue Series

Chrissie Hynde, Pete Farndon, James Honeyman Scott and Martin Chambers may have taken the name of The Pretenders, but anybody paying attention soon realized that there was nothing "pretend" about this band - not its brash amalgam of British and American styles (Hynde was a U.S. émigré; the other three were Brits), not its unabashedly punk approach to a classic rock sound, not its effortless, cool swagger.  1979's Pretenders launched the band on a journey that continues to this day.  It's been a

Review: Frank Sinatra, “Ultimate Sinatra”

On August 31, 1939, Frank Sinatra stepped into a New York recording studio as vocalist of Harry James' orchestra for a two-song session.  The second song recorded, Arthur Altman and Jack Lawrence's "All or Nothing at All," captured a philosophy that the 23-year old "boy singer" would hold closely.  "All or nothing at all/Half a love never appealed to me," he asserted.  "If it's love there is no in-between..."  Indeed, Frank Sinatra's life was one of triumphant highs and shattering lows - no

“Boz Scaggs” Returns In Deluxe 2-CD Edition

After appearing on the first two albums by The Steve Miller Band, singer-songwriter-guitarist William Royce "Boz" Scaggs sensed that it was time to strike out on his own once more.  In 1968, he inked a deal with Atlantic Records to record his second solo album; his first, 1965's Boz, was a Swedish release that to this day hasn't seen a reissue.  So Scaggs and his co-producers Marlin Greene and Jann Wenner (yes, that Jann Wenner) headed down to Muscle Shoals' Alabama's most famous address, 3614

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? Two Julie Andrews Classics Return to CD

By anyone's estimation, Julie Andrews was one of Columbia Records' leading lights by 1962.  Her Tony-nominated performances onstage in My Fair Lady and Camelot had both led to chart-topping, record-breaking original cast recordings on the Columbia label; in fact, it was under the leadership of president Goddard Lieberson that the record label underwrote the original Broadway production cost of My Fair Lady - an investment that, needless to say, paid off many times over!  So it was unsurprising

Review: “Beale Street Saturday Night”

Beale Street in downtown Memphis, Tennessee runs approximately 1.8 miles from the Mississippi River to East Street.  Created in 1841 and originally named Beale Avenue, it was immortalized in 1916 by composer, musician and bandleader W.C. Handy in his "Beale Street Blues."  By the middle of the century, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Albert King, Muddy Waters and more had all played Beale Street, recognized as one of the nation's foremost cradles of the blues.  But by the mid-1960s, the legendary