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 quarter-century old R&B classics, a Fleetwood Mac heroine covering Buffalo Springfield, and an actor who sang enough to make you go a little mad.
The celebrated singer has recently been covering this Buffalo Springfield classic on her latest tour, and took to the studio with producer Greg Kurstin, guitarist Waddy Wachtel and backing vocalist Sharon Celani to preserve a version (and the song's message) for the present.
Considered by the record-breaking singer herself to be a major turning point, 1997's Butterfly found Mariah Carey - fresh from her marriage to Sony Music head Tommy Mottola - even more ardently pursuing a more contemporary R&B sound, collaborating with producers like Sean "Puffy" Combs, Poke & Tone and Cory Rooney alongside longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff. "Honey" and "My All" added to her string of 19 No. 1 hits in America (just one less than The Beatles), while "The Roof (Back in Time)" and a cover of Prince's "The Beautiful Ones" solidified her artistic growth. Now, seven bonus tracks have been added to the album for its quarter century mark, including live and a cappella tracks, remixes and a duet version of "Whenever You Call" with Brian McKnight.
After a promising but modestly-selling debut, Usher Raymond IV took it to the next level on 1997's smooth, sensuous My Way. Featuring production by Jermaine Dupri and Babyface, the album went six times platinum in America and spun off the chart-topper "Nice & Slow" and the No. 2 hits "You Make Me Wanna" and "My Way." For this expanded edition, Usher and producer Ryan James Carr have re-recorded those three singles in the style of his celebrated NPR Tiny Desk concert from earlier this year. (The instrumentals of those new recordings are also available as bonus tracks.)
Billed as the "Budweiser Anthem of the FIFA World Cup 2022," this short but potent new track by Grammy-winning rapper Lil Baby samples Tears for Fears' chart-topping "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" prominently enough that it's listed as a joint single between the unlikely pair.
For their celebrated 1998 debut album (soon to be reissued on vinyl with a few others in their catalogue), Queens of the Stone Age have gone back to basics, redelivering the record with its original cover and track listing.
Two years after the release of this record, that smiling young man in the raincoat would be seen in a much different light, as the twisted murderer Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's legendary Psycho. But Anthony Perkins (Tony on record) was already a noted actor with an Oscar nomination to his name when he branched out into singing; the year before, his "Moonlight Swim" was a Top 40 pop hit. These pleasant renditions of pop standards ("You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," "Long Ago and Far Away," "It Could Happen to You") will make the sun shine on your stereo, no matter how it is outside.
Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs, Their Second Album / On Tour / Ten of Pentacles (MGM/Universal/UMe)
Led by the delightfully campy Domingo Samudio, who performed in a turban and ornate robe, Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs enjoyed success on the post-British Invasion pop charts with the No. 2 hits "Wooly Bully" and "Li'l Red Riding Hood" in 1965 and 1966. These three albums represent what happened in between and afterward: to-the-point garage-rock, often with references to magic or the occult (like the Top 40 hit "Ju Ju Hand").
Finally, this half-century-old hear-it-to-believe-it comedy take on The Godfather, released by Columbia in the wake of its success on the silver screen. The cast includes actor Chuck McCann in the titular role and a script co-written by John Boni (later a staffer on The Electric Company) and Dick DeBartolo, MAD's maddest writer!