On the surface, this 50-track digital compilation-cum-playlist looks like a typical algorithmic survey of Joel's five-decade career, with all the great radio hits rising to the top. But dig deeper and you'll discover six tracks making their digital debuts for the first time: the coveted long single version of Glass Houses favorite "Sometimes a Fantasy," a live version of "All About Soul" from a River of Dreams tour stop in Boston in 1993, and an entire side of Souvenir, a pre-The Stranger promo vinyl that combined Billy's best-known studio sides with portions of a concert performed at the University of Connecticut at the end of 1976, including versions of "Summer, Highland Falls," "The Ballad of Billy the Kid," an extended "New York State of Mind" and "Souvenir." While it's unfortunately only available to stream and not download, the opportunity to hear some genuine Billy rarities - several for the first time on a source other than a decades-old vinyl disc - is hard to pass up.
As noted this week in our coverage of the forthcoming Combat Rock reissue, The Clash have dug up a pair of unreleased mixes of "Rock the Casbah" (very similar to the dub-heavy "Mustapha Dance" B-side) and "Red Angel Dragnet" featuring refreshing toasts performed by the late Ranking Roger of The (English) Beat. They'll be available as a 7", but they're sure worth a listen in any way.
Jerry Goldsmith, Star Trek: The Motion Picture - The Director's Edition (Music from the Motion Picture) (Paramount Music) (Amazon)
The human adventure is just beginning! With a newly-restored and upgraded 4K version of the 2001 re-release of 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture now streaming on Paramount+, fans all over can now hear Mike Matessino and Bruce Botnick's brilliantly prepared upgrade and reissue of Jerry Goldsmith's defining score to the film. (The heroic main title theme is next to Alexander Courage's theme to the original TV series in terms of Trek iconography; it was utilized in 1989's Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the beloved sequel series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and three of the four TNG-era films released between 1996 and 2002.) Though you'll still have to buy La-La Land Records' new 2CD set to get the alternate cues and the new mix of the original soundtrack album, this complete score presentation is a warp-speed ticket to high musical adventure.
Russia's ongoing war with the Ukraine has elicited much humanitarian outpouring, and this week it got a legendary band back together for a postscript to their career. For the first time since completing The Endless River in 2014 (a collection of recordings made nearly 20 years earlier), Pink Floyd - singer/guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, bassist Guy Pratt and keyboardist Nitin Sawhney (with the late Richard Wright's daughter Gaia also present for the session) - joined forces at the end of March with Ukranian band BoomBox's frontman Andriy Khlyvnyuk, utilizing a sample of his live performance of Ukranian anthem "Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow" to build a brand new anthem for peace. Proceeds from the song will go to the Ukrainian humanitarian relief efforts.
Depeche Mode, Violator | The 12" Singles / Songs of Faith and Devotion | The 12" Singles (Warner/Rhino)
We skipped The Weekend Stream last week, but that means we have two Depeche Mode 12" singles boxes to cover, from their big blockbuster period in the early '90s.
Only the second solo album by the Blur frontman/Gorillaz co-creator, released in 2021, this haunting album now features bonuses in the form of a live show at London's Union Chapel (combining songs from the record as well as some favorites from the Blur catalogue), instrumental mixes and a host of B-sides that were exclusive to other physical formats.
One of the former Temptation's biggest solo hits was the Van McCoy-produced "Walk Away from Love," a Top 10 pop track and R&B chart-topper. But another song from the same album was a McCoy cowrite, "It Takes All Kinds of People to Make a World." This new, upbeat remix by Likeminds brings a new light to this forgotten cut.
One of the saddest cancellations of the COVID-19 pandemic was the intended reunion of The Format, the Arizona indie-rockers co-founded by singer/songwriters Sam Means and Nate Ruess (who'd later break big as the frontman of indie supergroup-turned-pop stars Fun. alongside another nascent hitmaker, writer/producer/instrumentalist Jack Antonoff). After a 12-year hiatus, they performed one show together as the precursor to a reissue campaign and a bigger tour that kept getting pushed back before being scuttled entirely. But they've still kept the flame burning: yesterday they released a B-side, "Your New Name," "accidentally for the first time ever." (Recorded for the band's Snails EP in 2005, it was initially offered only with a download code in said EP due to contractual issues and has been lost in the shuffle ever since, until now.)
After more than 10 years into his recording career - and as many Top 10s on the country chart, including 1997 chart-topper "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" - Trace Adkins crossed over into the Hot 100 in 2005 with "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," a none-too-serious single that combined country with the club, reaching No. 2 country and No. 30 pop (Adkins' highest until "You're Gonna Miss This" just missed the Top 10 three years later). These five remixes were released alongside the original single and now make their home on digital services.
Jim Weatherly's name might only be memorable to country fans with deep memories of his 1973 Top 20 hit "The Need to Be." But pop and soul lovers will find something magical in his first of several albums for RCA Records: his lovelorn songs "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First One to Say Goodbye)" and "Midnight Plane to Houston" (hint hint: retitled "Midnight Train to Georgia") were massive hits for Gladys Knight & The Pips a year later. It's a fascinating piece of pre-history for a great songwriter, who passed away last year at the age of 77.
Here's one from last week that's worth a spin (or two!): legendary composer Burt Bacharach, 93 years young, has reunited with his Blue Umbrella collaborator Daniel Tashian for a new single (hopefully auguring for another full-length project). The team of Bacharach and singer-songwriter Tashian specialize in beautiful, aching melancholy, and the pair of "Moon Over Wichita" and "Heartbreak Storms" is no exception. These exquisite pop ballads are filled with the kind of unexpected musical turns one expects from Bacharach as well as lyrics that pierce the heart. The A-side was inspired by the events of January 6, 2021 while the flipside encapsulates the authors' hopes for brighter days ahead. Both sides were written and produced by the duo, with Bacharach arranging strings and horns. These songs, elegant and moving, truly renew the spirit.
Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell have teamed for a rare collaboration outside of America. "Tickets to the Past" was co-written by Beckley and Bunnell and co-produced by Beckley and longtime collaborator (and a remarkable singer-songwriter in his own right) Jeff Larson. The atmospheric, driving, and richly melodic "Tickets to the Past" evocatively channels the pair's shared history while being firmly rooted in the present. It will appear, along with the currently-streaming single "Friends Are Hard to Find," on Beckley's upcoming album Aurora, due on June 17 from Blue Elan.
And from our beloved British synthsmith comes a new song from his forthcoming album, Dialogue. It's a typically catchy tune that fans will hopefully hear on his forthcoming summer tour in America; his winter acoustic trek was a high watermark of live performances caught this past quarter.