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 usher you into the weekend. This week features a new version of a pop legend's most recent compilation, great proto-Motown soul, an expanded version of Robert Glasper's breakout album, Bon Jovi in Spanish(?) and a heap of early Christmas gifts. Check it out!
Elton John's 2017 compilation has been a considerable chart mainstay since its release. On the eve of his final U.S. shows at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium next weekend (complete with a "digital scavenger hunt" contest), Diamonds has been digitally reissued with three extra tracks: the two honest-to-God Top 10 hit remixes he's had since the set was released ("Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)," a duet with Dua Lipa, and the Britney Spears collab "Hold Me Closer") and last year's U.K. chart-topper "Merry Christmas," co-written and sung with Ed Sheeran.
Though the big Beach Boys digital release this week is an acappella version of "All This is That" from the forthcoming Sail On Sailor: 1972 box set, don't count out this three-track bundle of vocal-less holiday cheer! It features instrumentals of "Merry Christmas, Baby," "Frosty the Snowman" and, of course, "Little Saint Nick."
Robert Glasper's breakout 2012 record fused jazz, soul, hip-hop and rock elements together with the aid of a cadre of guest vocalists (including Erykah Badu, Meshell Ndegeocello, Stokley Williams of Mint Condition and others) and a killer song line-up that mixed originals with striking covers of Sade ("Cherish the Day"), David Bowie ("Letter to Hermione") and Nirvana ("Smells Like Teen Spirit"). A decade later - and following a second sequel to the Grammy-winning album - this digital deluxe edition brings together three ex-U.S. bonus tracks, including a cover of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," and the contents of a rap-focused remix EP.
After a dominating run of commercial success through the '80s, recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Lionel Richie took a considerable break from recording, returning briefly in 1992 for the compilation Back to Front. "My Destiny" was the second new track from the album, and remixes of both it and first single "Do It to Me" feature on this digital EP.
An expanded edition of the soulful singer/songwriter's 2019 holiday album, featuring unheard track "Everyday is a Holiday."
Like the similar Bing Crosby release from a few weeks ago, this EP offers ethereal (and often very short) wisps of remixes of Motown's most notable holiday hits, from Marvin Gaye's "Purple Snowflakes" to The Jackson 5's "Give Love on Christmas Day." More a vibe to relax in the background than a listening experience, but worth a try for the interested.
The lead single from the New Jersey rockers' sixth album These Days (1995) took on a different meaning when it was recorded in Spanish; the translated lyrics are less about loss and more about romantic commitment. Otherwise, Bon Jovi singing in Spanish! That's different!
Another EP in ZTT's ongoing excavation of the MC Tunes/808 State collaborations from the early '90s, this "Dance Yourself to Death" remix EP, handled by L.A. producers/mixers The Dust Brothers (fresh off the artistic triumph of the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique), is notable in that three of its four tracks are previously unreleased.
Marv Johnson, Marvelous Marv Johnson / More Marvelous Marv Johnson / The Best of Marv Johnson - You Got What It Takes (Capitol)
Soul singer Marv Johnson could have been one of the best trivia question answers ever. His 1959 debut single "Come to Me" was the first release on Berry Gordy's Tamla label, re-incorporated as Motown a year later. But Johnson would instead continue recording with Motown's first distributor, United Artists, and took two Gordy co-writes, "You Got What It Takes" and "I Love the Way You Love," to the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100. Each of those tracks is the cornerstone of his first two LPs, and a 1992 best-of offers a 24-track career overview.
What's in a name? New Jersey brothers Stephen and Brian Butler recorded and toured with power-pop band Quincy in 1980, which changed its name to Lulu Temple after Quincy Jones served the group a lawsuit. After the band broke up, the Butlers formed Smash Palace, continuing their big guitar/synth/hooks sound on tracks like MTV favorite "Living on the Borderline." Smash Palace struggled to stay afloat after their sole Epic album, but reformed in 1999 and continue to record and tour as indie artists today.
The single from Filter's third album had an apt title: "Where Do We Go from Here?" Indeed, the album sold less than its predecessors, thanks in part to frontman and former Nine Inch Nails touring guitarist Richard Patrick halting promotion on the record to go to rehab. (The band reactivated in 2008, with Patrick as the only consistent member.) This 20th anniversary digital expansion features nine remixes and edits of "Where" as bonus tracks.
Ellen McIlwane, Honky Tonk Angel (Expanded Edition) / We the People (Polydor)
An accomplished slide guitarist with a gift for song interpretation, Ellen McIlwane went from supporting figure in the Greenwich Village scene to a featured talent all her own with these two albums for Polydor in 1972 and 1973. Both are sourced from the 1998 compilation Up from the Skies, which included both albums in full (plus a bonus track on Honky Tonky Angel, "It's Growing").
Released shortly before the Bird with Strings album that was digitally delivered last week, this recording captures a 1950 live set from Parker and his quintet at the then-year-old Broadway jazz club that took its name from his own nickname.
Gary Taylor, G.T. (A&M) / Compassion (Virgin)
A journeyman R&B singer/songwriter/instrumentalist with credits on songs by The Whispers, Anita Baker and others (he's also a cousin of notable producer Skip Scarborough), Gary Taylor recorded two albums as a frontman in the '80s: 1983's G.T. and 1988's Compassion, the latter of which featured a cover of the Scarborough-penned "Don't Ask My Neighbors" (a hit for The Emotions) with Patrice Rushen on keys.