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, it's hardly Thanksgiving leftovers thanks to some British Christmas favorites, a legendary dance duo and a killer rockabilly discovery.
He may have retired from performing, but Elton John is still in the release game. He just reissued his joyous 1973 holiday single "Step Into Christmas," digitally backed by its original B-side ("Ho! Ho! Ho! (Who'd Be a Turkey At Christmas") and a handful of others ('80s cuts "All Quiet on the Western Front" and "Cold As Christmas (in the Middle of the Year)," and the rare 2005 cut "Calling It Christmas," a duet with Joss Stone).
As the duo behind C+C Music Factory and pioneers of '90s dance sounds who'd produced hits for Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey in 1992, Robert Clivillés and David Cole would also enjoy success under their own names on the U.K. charts with two singles from the Greatest Remixes collection. Their cover of U2's "Pride (in the Name of Love)" was a dancefloor hit, as was "A Deeper Love," which would be covered two years later by none other than Aretha Franklin. This collection includes a few cuts for other artists originally included on the CD, including Lisa Lisa + Cult Jam's "Let the Beat Hit 'Em."
When he died of leukemia last month, Robert Gordon left behind a brief but intriguing major-label body of work in the late '70s and early '80s, which was best chronicled on this 1982 compilation. A former member of New York punk outfit Tuff Darts, Gordon's love of rockabilly led producer Richard Gottehrer to sign him first to Private Stock, then RCA, where he recorded several albums with guitar god Link Wray. His similarity to a young Elvis at Sun Records gained some traction after the King died in 1977, and Gordon would become the first to record Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" (with the Boss even sitting in on piano) and "Someday, Someway," a Top 40 hit for Gottehrer's next discovery, Marshall Crenshaw. (Two more tracks by Crenshaw, "Something's Gonna Happen" and "Wasting My Time," are two of the three tracks exclusive to this compilation.)
Bow Wow, Bounce with Me / Bow Wow (That's My Name) / Puppy Love (So So Def/Columbia)
Nearly a decade after hitting it big producing the junior rap duo Kris Kross, So So Def Records founder/mogul Jermaine Dupri added 13-year-old rapper Shad Moss - then known as "Lil Bow Wow" after being discovered by Snoop Dogg - to the label, scoring a few Top 40 hits with debut singles "Bounce with Me" and "Bow Wow (That's My Name)." He'd later drop the "Lil" and score some Top 10s before the decade was done.
Londoners Chas Hodges and Dave Peacock gained some fame in their home country in the '80s for a blend of music dubbed "rockney": a lighthearted blend of early rock and music hall mentality. You'll get the idea of it on this 1986 album, digitally available for the first time and featuring plenty of classic carols in said style.
Barbara Carroll Trio, Barbara Carroll Trio / Lullabies in Rhythm (RCA)
Female jazz bandleaders remain a rarity, which is what makes Barbara Carroll - who sung and played piano - such a treat. These early albums cut for RCA with bassist Joe Shulman and drummer Herb Wasserman make for a fine listen. (Carroll would live and work into her 90s, shifting into rock and cabaret performances and even touring with Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson.