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. A veritable bonanza of titles feature an expanded album by Sting, two classic Madonna 12"s, a George Michael-produced rarity, a first-time duet by a country legend and a soul icon, a new recording of a late-period classic from Hollywood's most famed composer, and so much more!
Sting's camp continues rolling out healthy expanded editions of his studio albums to tie into various anniversaries (even if some fans would just as soon have it available physically, too). For the 30th anniversary of 1993's Ten Summoner's Tales - a sprightly pop/rock album that yielded hits in "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" and "Fields of Gold" plus fan favorites like "Shape of My Heart" (inexplicably boosted by an interpolation on the late Juice WRLD's mammoth "Lucid Dreams") - the album follows expansions of ...Nothing Like the Sun and The Soul Cages with a boatload of remixes, B-sides, radio edits and live versions.
Madonna, Borderline / La Isla Bonita (Warner)
If you didn't spend a boatload of money on Madonna's Celebration Tour tickets, you can spend much less on digital EPs rounding up single versions and mixes of two of her most enduring '80s songs: the Top 10 "Borderline" (one of five singles from her 1983 self-titled debut) and Top 5 smash "La Isla Bonita" (the last single from third album True Blue, issued in 1986). Sure would be cool to have these on CD at some point, as well.
One look and listen to this dashing young Brit - feathery blonde hair, dark eyebrows, an earring, a guitar and an irresistible pop melody - and you'd be forgiven for thinking he was some kind of George Michael clone. In fact, Austin and Michael were lifelong friends (he is creative lead on a lot of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee's posthumous projects), and George co-wrote, produced and sang on this one.
Scottish electronic trio CHVRCHES bring their natural gift for melody into their first new work since 2021's engaging Screen Violence (featuring the best Cure track that never was, the Robert Smith-assisted "How Not to Drown"). It's also their first away from longtime label Glassnote, and an intended stopgap between that last album and whatever comes next (which sounds like it might be a 10th anniversary celebration of debut album The Bones of What You Believe).
Decades into their legendary careers, both Dolly Parton and Dionne Warwick continue to surprise. They've just released their first-ever studio duet, a heartfelt slice of celebratory gospel penned by Dolly. "Peace Like a River" was produced by Dionne's son Damon Elliott (who recently helmed the Diane Warren-penned "Gonna Be You," Parton's collaborative single with Gloria Estefan, Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry, and Belinda Carlisle for the big-screen comedy 80 for Brady) and sends a message of hope, positivity, and love into the world. Take a listen and lift your spirits with these two great women of song. Look for Parton's Monument Singles Collection from Legacy Recordings on Record Store Day, and don't miss SoulMusic Records' new 6-CD collection of Warwick's Warner Bros. recordings as well as The Complete Scepter Singles, coming in April from Real Gone Music.
Recent months have seen a handful of unreleased performances culled from legendary film composer John Williams' 2022 performances leading the Vienne Philharmonic in Austria. (An album of his 2020 performance was the best-selling classical album of that year.) The most recent, released just ahead of his 91st(!) birthday, featured a rousing rendition of one of the themes from his work on the Star Wars sequel trilogy, released between 2015 and 2019.
Today, Today / The New Formula (Motown)
This New Jersey vocal quartet was an early discovery of Teddy Riley as he was starting to come into his own as a producer. Initially signed to MCA, Today moved over to Motown and were positioned as a sort of modern Four Tops, with Riley, Gene Griffin and Bernard Belle producing their self-titled debut in 1988. (Belle returned for the follow-up two years later.) Both of them, including R&B chart hits like "Him or Me," "Girl I Got My Eyes on You" and "Why You Get Funky on Me," are now streaming.
Patty Loveless, Patty Loveless / If My Heart Had Windows (MCA Nashville)
The first two albums by a country songstress equally at home with a honky-tonk tune or a ballad, earning her comparisons to the likes of Loretta Lynn or Kitty Wells. It was the George Jones cover that gave not only her second album its title but her first of 20 Top 10 country singles between 1988 and 1996.
Released in Europe in 2007, this 38-track collection surveys the legendary jazz pianist's work in the studio and in concert through the '60s and '70s, as released on the Argo and Cadet labels.
Tavares, Check It Out (Expanded Edition) / Future Bound / Loveline (Expanded Edition) / Capitol Gold: The Best of Tavares / It Only Takes a Minute: A Lifetime with Tavares (Capitol/UMe)
A handful of lesser-known studio albums and compilations from the brotherly R&B group released in the last month. Spanning from 1974 debut Check It Out to a pair of mid-'90s single-disc overviews, there's a lot to discover here.
The modern remix trend strikes again, this time on a dramatic, film trailer-ready remix of Billy Squier's rhythmic 1981 hit.
Finally, the debut single from a new metal supergroup featuring vocalist Ronnie Romero (Rainbow), Pantera bassist Rex Brown, and Richie Faulkner and Scott Travis (Judas Priest) on guitar and drums, respectively. Debut album Horns for a Halo is out later this spring!