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's got live favorites from The Boss, a Record Store Day rarity, a '90s tribute album to some rock legends and much more.
The Thrill Hill Archives have occasionally made some themed Bruce Springsteen playlists available to stream, drawn from various live archival releases issued through Nugs.net. The latest is a great 75-minute mix featuring some of the best-known places in The Boss' discography, from "Atlantic City" and "Thunder Road" to "My Hometown," "Streets of Philadelphia" and "Candy's Room."
Released as a double 7" single just last week for Record Store Day, here's a collection of four versions of the U.K. No. 1 hit off the band's Parallel Lines: the original album version, a French-language B-side, and unreleased demo and live versions - presumably due to release on the band's long-gestating box set project.
This quirky 1994 compilation featured a hilarious collection of rockers paying tribute to the music of KISS. The roster included a duet between Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder, Anthrax, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Gin Blossoms, Dinosaur Jr., The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - and even KISS themselves, backing up Garth Brooks on "Hard Luck Woman."
Marina and The Diamonds, Platinum Blonde (Electra Heart Edition) (Atlantic UK/Rhino) (iTunes)
The sophomore album from Welsh singer Marina Diamandis - her second of three in which she altered her surname to look like she was backed up by a band - became a U.K. No. 1 hit thanks to engaging pop production from the likes of Greg Kurstin, Dr. Luke, Diplo and Stargate. (Lead single "Primadonna" just missed the Top 10 across the pond.) This new 10th anniversary edition features seven bonus cuts and non-LP singles; four tracks from this release (including an album track that never made the final cut) will be included on a double-LP reissue of the album this fall.
A onetime drummer with Sparks, Hilly Michael was briefly touted as a next big thing of the burgeoning power pop/new wave scenes in 1980. His Roy Thomas Baker-produced debut (featuring session work from Dan Hartman, Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone and The Cars' keyboardist Greg Hawkes) was not the commercial juggernaut Warner Bros. Records had hoped for; nonetheless, tracks like the early MTV staple title track and closer "Something on Your Mind" (heard in the frenetic yacht sequence in Caddyshack) offer some buried treasure for the discerning listener.
With the 50th anniversary celebration of The Godfather in full swing - from a new 4K restoration of Francis Ford Coppola's trilogy to The Offer, a divisive new Paramount+ miniseries based on the making of the original film - Universal has put some skin in the game, offering a digital reissue of a single from Nino Rota's original score (itself in dire need of a remaster or expansion). Includes the instrumentals "Love Theme from The Godfather" - a minor hit that became a slightly bigger one as "Speak Softly, Love," with lyrics by Larry Kusik and vocals by Andy Williams - and the familiar main title melody.
Though Gibson's third album is where her command of the pop charts began to slip, you have to give her credit for shaking things up a bit, releasing half an album of upbeat tracks (several co-written and produced by Motown legend Lamont Dozier) and another half of self-written and produced potpourri. This deluxe edition, just released by Cherry Pop in the U.K., features two non-LP B-sides plus 15 remixes and radio edits.
Two decades after country rockers Poco released debut album Pickin' Up the Pieces, the original line-up behind that record - longtime vocalist/instrumentalist Rusty Young alongside Jim Messina and Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield, the Eagles' Randy Meisner and drummer George Grantham - reunited for a one-off album for RCA. Never a major singles band, Legacy still gave Poco a pair of Top 40 hits in "Call It Love" (at No. 18, their second biggest U.S. pop hit) and the Richard Marx-penned "Nothin' to Hide."
Melvin Van Peebles, Brer Soul / Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death (A&M)
Lauded as one of the most significant independent Black filmmakers outside of Hollywood (thanks in large part to the definitive blaxploitation classic Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song), the late Melvin Van Peebles was also an accomplished recording artist. His first two albums, now digitally available, showcase Van Peebles' proto-hip-hop spoken-word over beds of soul and jazz. Some of the material from the latter album inspired portions of not only Sweetback but a 1972 musical also called Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death.
Maria McKee, I'm Gonna Soothe You / I Can't Make It Alone / Absolutely Barking Stars / Life is Sweet (Geffen)
Depending on the kind of music fan you are, you know Maria McKee as either the co-founder/frontwoman of '80s cowpunk band Lone Justice or the singer of "Show Me Heaven," an unlikely U.K. No. 1 smash heard on the soundtrack to the forgotten Tom Cruise racing movie Days of Thunder. Her third solo album, 1996's Life is Sweet, was her last major label effort and sharply divided critics with its eclectic, raw sounds. (MOJO called it one of the year's best albums, for what it's worth.) These four singles from the album come packed with all sorts of non-LP rarities, from acoustic versions and demos to non-album tracks like "If Love is a Red Dress, Hang Me in Rags," a favorite of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, who included it in Pulp Fiction.