Welcome to The Weekend Stream, a relaxing weekly review of notable digital-only catalogue titles. There may be no CD or vinyl, but there's plenty of great new/old music to discover! This week features early works by John Denver, TV works by Jan Hammer and Giorgio Moroder, live stuff from Tegan and Sara and a real throwback of a compilation album.
John Denver's career took off when his "Leaving on a Jet Plane" was covered by Peter, Paul & Mary, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. Denver's first commercially-released version was cut when he was a member of The Mitchell Trio (replacing, of all people, leader and namesake Chad Mitchell). This collection, licensed and issued by Varese Sarabande in 2018, includes single sides cut by The Mitchell Trio (later rechristened Denver, Boise & Johnson) for Reprise between 1967 and 1968, along with a few selections from a live album and four previously unreleased tracks.
The first live album from the Canadian indie-pop twins was recorded in support of their 2019 album Hey, I'm Just Like You and released exclusively on vinyl for Record Store Day in 2020. Now, it's available more widely as a digital release, containing live versions of fan favorites like "Back in Your Head," "Closer" and "I'll Be Back Someday."
In 2004, the original line-up The Crickets (guitarist Sonny Curtis, bassist Joe Mauldin and drummer Jerry Allison, along with frequent sideman Glen Hardin) paid tribute to their late leader Buddy Holly with a new tribute album featuring a rotating cast of vocalists, including Eric Clapton, John Prine, Waylon Jennings, Graham Nash, Rodney Crowell, J.D. Souther and even Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil. That album just made its digital debut this week, and is a fun way to remember one of rock and roll's early pioneers.
Recently released physically by SoulMusic Records, this 5CD-equivalent streaming set includes saxophonist Washington's first five years of work for Elektra (including the iconic hit "Just the Two of Us" with Bill Withers on vocals) along with a heap of single edits.
Keyboardist Jan Hammer's 1987 album Escape from Television didn't exactly live up to its name: it featured several instrumental compositions made famous by Hammer's scoring duties on the television series Miami Vice, including "Crockett's Theme" and the chart-topping theme song.
Sort of a fun-house version of Meco's "Star Wars," this 1978 album found Italian synth whiz Giorgio Moroder tackling both cuts from the televised Star Wars knockoff Battlestar Galactica (including Stu Philips' original theme and a pop song in the premiere, John Tartaglia and The Space Angels' "It's Love, Love, Love") as well as original space-inspired cues by both Moroder and Harold Faltermeyer.
Pressed for Record Store Day in 2019, this collection traced the reggae influences of the legendary '90s SoCal band, placing four covers and updates of classic roots songs ("Rivers of Babylon," "Foolish Fool") alongside the originals by the likes of Dee Dee Warwick, Wailing Souls, The Melodians and Bad Brains.
Terri & Monica, Systa / Uh Huh / Intentions / Sexuality (If You Take Your Love) (Epic)
Little known hip-hop/R&B duo Terri Robinson and Monica Payne were two-thirds of a short-lived '80s trio known as The Gyrlz. Nearly their entire discography for Epic Records is now available digitally: 1993's full-length Systa, remix-packed EPs of singles "Uh Huh" and "Intentions," plus "Sexuality (If You Take Your Love)," a minor R&B hit from sophomore album Suga (1996) which featured some mixes featuring Missy Elliott and Timbaland.
Finally, a volume from Nipper's Greatest Hits, a fun CD series from the late '80s and early '90s featuring samples from across RCA's sterling catalogue in the first eight decades of the 20th century, has been backfilled covering some hit songs from the '30s. You'll find cuts by Bing Crosby ("Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams"), Fats Waller ("Honeysuckle Rose"), Cab Calloway ("Jitter Bug") and Kate Smith ("God Bless America"), among others.