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! From hard-rockin' brothers to non-stop dance vibes, you've got quite a selection this week.
Nelson, Imaginator / Silence is Broken / Brother Harmony / Life / Like Father, Like Sons / Before the Rain / Perfect Storm (After the Rain World Tour 1991) / Lightning Strikes Twice (Stone Canyon/UMe)
Imaginator: iTunes / Amazon
Silence: iTunes / Amazon
Brother: iTunes / Amazon
Life: iTunes / Amazon
Like Father: iTunes / Amazon
Before the Rain: iTunes / Amazon
Perfect Storm: iTunes / Amazon
Lightning: iTunes / Amazon
Here they come! With their flowing blonde locks and a pop-rock sensibility inherited from their father, teen idol Ricky Nelson, twin brothers Matthew and Gunnar burst onto the scene with considerable fanfare: debut album After the Rain (1990) featured the perfect pop song "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection" (a Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper) and the title track, also a Top 10. But their fortunes soured considerably with follow-up Because They Can (1995), an acoustic-based record that sounded nothing like the music they wanted to make. Forming their own label Stone Canyon shortly thereafter, they independently released their intended follow-up Imaginator in 1996 and never really stopped since. Now, UMe has a distribution license that installs six of their studio and live albums (including Like Father, Like Sons, a live tribute to their late dad) plus a collection of After the Rain-era demos and a 1991 live gig from the same era. (Thanks to our super reader Steve Cunningham for pointing out that Nelson's discography is split between two artist IDs on Apple Music/iTunes!)
Nat "King" Cole, Capitol Rarities Vol. 1 (Capitol/UMe) (iTunes / Amazon)
A day after what would have been Cole's 103rd birthday comes this collection of odds and ends from the late '40s and early '50s. Five tracks - "The Magic Tree," "Early American," "The Day Isn't Long Enough," "My First and My Last Love" and "Easter Sunday Morning," have never been digitally available before.
Depeche Mode, Black Celebration | The 12" Singles (Warner/Rhino) (iTunes / Amazon)
The Depeche Mode singles backfill continues with the mixes from the band's fifth album, including "Stripped," "A Question of Lust" and "A Question of Time."
Ursa Major, Ursa Major (RCA) (iTunes / Amazon)
Though never a household name, Dick Wagner was an in-demand guitar man through the '70s. He played on Aerosmith's "Same Old Song and Dance," Lou Reed's Rock 'N' Roll Animal, KISS' Destroyer and - most notably - nearly a dozen albums by Alice Cooper, including the beloved Welcome to My Nightmare (which features a co-writing credit of his on "Only Women Bleed"). Ursa Major was sort of the Rosetta stone for all that work, bringing the Detroit guitarist into the New York rock scene under Ezrin's production and building this short-lived power trio with drummer Ricky Mangone and former Amboy Dukes bassist Greg Arama. (According to legend, a keyboardist by the name of Billy Joel left the band before they entered the studio.)
Ice Cube, War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc) (Priority) (iTunes / Amazon)
Cube's sixth album - his fifth to reach the Top 10 - kicked off with a long-anticipated reunion with his N.W.A. co-horts Dr. Dre and MC Ren. Other guest stars include Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Krayzie Bone and Mack 10, Cube's collaborator in the supergroup Westside Connection.
Kruder & Dorfmeister, The K&D Sessions (!K7) (Apple Music)
This acclaimed 1998 double album from the German remixing duo offered two hours of downtempo cuts and mixes from their last five years of work, among artists as diverse as Depeche Mode, Bomb the Bass and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Long out of print, it now is ripe for rediscovery as an Apple Music exclusive.
Various Artists, Lofi Minnie: Focus (Walt Disney Records) (iTunes / Amazon)
Maybe the strangest thing you'll ever encounter in this column, this set applies the young-listener trend of "lo-fi beats to relax/study to" (some might say it's a co-opting of the French YouTube channel that popularized it) to a series of electronic instrumental versions of Disney favorites of the last 30+ years, from "Under the Sea" and "A Whole New World" to "How Far I'll Go" and "Into the Unknown."
Except for Nat King Cole's collection the rest is worthless!!!!!!!!