Madonna, You Can Dance (Single Edits) / Rain (Warner/Rhino)
Rhino keeps digitally uploading intriguing stuff from Madonna's single and remix catalogue, and this month saw two such releases: first, a bundle of mixes surrounding the Erotica favorite "Rain," then this week, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of remix album You Can Dance, an upload of the rare promo version that found all the tracks unmixed and edited to single-ready lengths.
A new version of the standout track from The Wall, cut during the former Pink Floyd bassist's This is Not a Drill tour (slated to restart in Europe this spring).
One of the standout tracks from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees' solid Future Past (2021) gets the remix treatment courtesy of the album's main producer.
Now available to stream everywhere is a seminal gig featuring the punk icon performing in support of a firefighter's strike in London. To the delight of fans young and old, the already-fiery set ended with a surprise collaboration between Strummer and Mick Jones - their first time on a stage since The Clash dissolved. The reunion became unexpectedly bittersweet just over a month later, when Strummer died of a heart attack at the age of 50.
Neil Diamond, The Feel of Neil Diamond / Just for You (Capitol)
Neil Diamond's catalogue has been the sole purview of Capitol/UMe since 2014; today, they've gotten to digitally issuing the original two albums the fledgling performer released by Bert Berns' Bang Records in 1966 and 1967. They featured not only his first Top 10 hits - "Cherry, Cherry" and "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" - but a raft of staples in a songbook full of classics: "Solitary Man," "I'm a Believer," "Red, Red Wine," "The Boat That I Row," "Shilo" and others. (When Legacy controlled Diamond's catalogue, they issued the superb The Bang Years1966-1968; any way you hear these is great, though.)
Next year will mark 50 years since Melissa Manchester's debut album, 1973's gorgeous Home to Myself. Melissa is celebrating with the release of her 25th album, RE:VIEW. The album, due next spring, will find the artist revisiting her classic catalogue in beautiful new recordings: some reimagined, others largely faithful, but all benefiting from the singer's burnished, thrillingly expressive voice and deepened interpretations. Previously, Manchester has released reworkings of "Just You and I" (a favorite song of Bob Dylan's), "Midnight Blue," "Don't Cry Out Loud," the Grammy-winning "You Should Hear How She Talks About You," and "Fire in the Morning." Now, Melissa has unveiled her new recording of the Academy Award-nominated "Through the Eyes of Love," Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager's affecting theme to the 1978 film Ice Castles. Recorded with engineer Tim Jaquette at Citrus College, where Manchester is Artist-in-Residence, the refreshed "Through the Eyes of Love" is a warm and moving tribute to the power of love, family, and remembrance that just might leave you misty-eyed. Watch this space for more news about RE:VIEW, and don't miss out on Second Disc Records and Real Gone Music's release of Melissa's electrifying concert album Live '77!
The Statler Brothers, Pictures of Moments to Remember / Country Music Then and Now / Carry Me Back / Thank You World / Sons of the Motherland / Harold, Lew, Phil & Don / Short Stories / The Originals /The Legend Goes On / Music, Memories and You (Mercury)
Pictures: iTunes / Amazon
Country: iTunes / Amazon (TBD)
Carry: iTunes / Amazon
World: iTunes / Amazon
Motherland: iTunes / Amazon
Harold: iTunes / Amazon
Stories: iTunes / Amazon (TBD)
Originals: iTunes / Amazon
Legend: iTunes / Amazon
Memories: iTunes / Amazon
Though only two of them were related and none named Statler - they changed their name from The Kingsmen after "Louie Louie" hit big and picked the name of a tissue brand they noticed in their hotel - this country quartet was inspired by the harmonies of Southern gospel and parlayed that admiration into great success starting in the '60s, when they'd open (and sing back-up) for Johnny Cash. In the '70s, they left Columbia for Mercury, and these 10 albums are from that period of their career, into the 1990s!
Spring Awakening and Glee star Lea Michele generated headlines earlier this year when it was announced that she would replace Beanie Feldstein (Hello, Dolly!, Booksmart) as Fanny Brice in the first-ever Broadway revival of Jule Styne, Bob Merrill, and Isobel Lennart's 1964 musical Funny Girl. Now, Michele has headlined a new cast recording which preserves her powerhouse renditions of such showstoppers as "I'm the Greatest Star," "People," "Don't Rain on My Parade," and "The Music That Makes Me Dance." She's joined by Tovah Feldshuh (as Mrs. Brice) and Ramin Karimloo (as Nicky Arnstein) on this high-octane document of the musical which is currently packing houses and selling out eight times a week at the August Wilson Theatre. The album is streaming now and will be released on CD on January 20.
Esther Phillips, You've Come a Long Way, Baby / All About / Here's Esther...Are You Ready / Good Black is Hard to Crack (Mercury)
In 1962, after racking up an array of R&B chart hits, soul singer "Little" Esther Phillips crossed over with a Top 10 rendition of "Release Me"; just over a decade later, she'd return to the upper reaches of the pop charts with a disco cover of "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes." These four albums for Mercury - the last before losing a battle with drugs at the too-young age of 48 - put soulful, jazzy spins on other intriguing standards and pop hits, from "Native New Yorker" and "Philadelphia Freedom" to Willie Nelson's "Crazy."
A charming coming-of-age 1999 comedy co-written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (who helmed several striking episodes of Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian), The Wood had a companion album featuring some heavy hitters in the hip-hop and R&B world. While not all the tracks were cleared for digital release, there's still deep cut favorites from Mystikal and OutKast, UGK, Too $hort and "I Wanna Know," a Top 5 ballad for crooner Joe.
Columbia hit pay dirt in 1977 with a trove of Charlie Parker live releases, several of which have been backfilled in recent weeks. The latest is Summit Meeting At Birdland, taken from three discrete dates at the club: a side's worth of a 1951 set with Bird's own All-Stars (including Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet and Bud Powell on piano), one track from a 1953 date with the Milt Buckner Trio, and four cut later that year with Parker's quartet.