R.E.M., Strange Currencies EP (Craft) (iTunes / Amazon)
The alt-rock icons have never succumbed to an easy reunion since disbanding in 2011 - but they've managed to mine their catalogue in interesting ways. "Strange Currencies," off 1994's used-bin blockbuster Monster, recently got licensed in an episode of FX's acclaimed dramedy The Bear (having just dropped its second season on Hulu), and the group put out a new video and EP for the trouble, featuring the original track, a remix from 2019's deluxe edition of the album, and a new-to-streaming version from the 1996 concert/documentary Road Movie.
Luther Vandross & Janet Jackson feat. Bell Biv DeVoe & Ralph Tresvant, The Best Things in Life Are Free (A&M) / Janet Jackson, Feedback Remixes (Island)
However disappointed you may be in Janet Jackson's forthcoming reissue of janet., there's plenty of her to go around digitally this week from two decidedly different eras. "The Best Things in ife Are Free" found her teaming up with Luther Vandross and four members of New Edition (side project Bell Biv DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant, having recently made some solo bona fides) for a fast-paced Top 10 in 1992 off the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-produced soundtrack to the film Mo' Money. Fifteen years later, after a deeply unfair blacklisting stemming from an appearance at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004, she defiantly introduced 10th album Discipline with the scintillating "Feedback," a Top 20 hit co-produced by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, who'd also logged time with her older brother Michael in the early '00s. Remixes of each track abound on these EPs!
Marvin Gaye, Love Songs: Bedroom Ballads (Motown/UMe) (iTunes / Amazon)
The world has plenty Marvin Gaye compilations, but this 2002 collection, part of a Motown product line, shows another side of his well-known music for intimate moments. Instead of the obvious "Let's Get It On," you'll find some choice gems from his latter-day Motown catalogue, including In Our Lifetime and the posthumous Vulnerable.
Rosie Gaines, Caring (Expanded Edition) (Epic/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
Legacy reissues the 1985 solo debut of Prince collaborator Rosie Gaines (of The New Power Generation), adding two previously issued bonus tracks that have appeared on various CD versions. Singer/songwriter/keyboardist Gaines was joined on the LP by a host of notable guests including fellow keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, percussionist Paulinho da Costa, tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder of The Crusaders, alto saxophonist Marc Russo of Yellowjackets, and future country mega-producer Dann Huff on guitar. Lead single "Skool-ology (Ain't No Strain)" placed on the R&B chart.
St. Paul, St. Paul (MCA/Geffen) (iTunes / Amazon)
Another Prince affiliate has a rare album make it to streaming this week! St. Paul Peterson was a fill-in member in the Purple Rain-era line-up of The Time before being picked to lead a new side project called The Family. (That's him singing "Nothing Compares 2 U," some six years before Sinead O'Connor took it to the top of the U.S. charts.) His 1987 solo debut included production from Monte Moir, one of The Time's original keyboardists, and his brother Ricky, an established keyboardist in his own right who'd played on many records with saxophonist David Sanborn and guitarist Hiram Bullock, both of whom make appaearnces on the album. (Ricky would sit in with Prince on albums through the mid-'90s as well.)
Lisa Marie Presley, Lights Out (Capitol) (iTunes / Amazon)
The tragic passing of Elvis Presley's only child earlier this year brings to mind that she only pursued music herself briefly and in earnest in this century. To Whom It May Concern was a lauded debut album in 2003, anchored by the catchy single "Lights Out," co-written with journeyman songwriter Glen Ballard. A digital single has been released this week, backed by the track "Savior," which was only available as an unlisted bonus on Japanese copies of To Whom It May Concern.
Paula Abdul, Vibeology (Capitol) (iTunes / Amazon)
The choreographer-turned-singer's stellar run of Top 10 singles between 1988 and 1991 ended with "Vibeology," the fourth single off sophomore album Spellbound. More than 30 years later, fans can at least stream or download the array of mixes included on the track's 12" release.
Fishbone, It's a Wonderful Life (Gonna Have a Good Time) EP (Columbia) (iTunes / Amazon)
L.A. alt-rock band Fishbone's 1987 EP gets a digital reprise this weekend. Produced by David Kahne, It's a Wonderful Life is Christmas-themed, with quirky tunes including "Slick Nick (You Devil You)," "Just Call Me Scrooge," and the title track. Trust us - you're gonna have a good time with this one!
Richie Kotzen, Mother Head's Family Reunion (Expanded Edition) (Geffen/UMe) (iTunes / Amazon)
Fresh off a stint as C.C. DeVille's replacement in Poison, young upstart guitarist Richie Kotzen (who'd later log time in Mr. Big and his own band The Winery Dogs) issued this 1994 solo album - an album rock paradise featuring Kotzen handling most vocals, guitars and keys under the production of Richie Zito (who'd recently helmed hits for Eddie Money, Cheap Trick, Heart and Bad English). In addition to the original album (including an intriguing cover of the Motown favorite "Reach Out I'll Be There"), this digital edition also includes a Japanese-only bonus track, "Wailing Wall."
Bobby Hackett, Jazz Impressions of "Oliver!" (Epic) (iTunes / Amazon)
Trumpeter Bobby Hackett leads his sextet on this swingin' 1963 reinterpretation of Lionel Bart's Broadway and West End classic Oliver! Hackett (who also recorded a jazz tribute to Mame and Sweet Charity as well as songbook collections dedicated to Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, Henry Mancini, and Bert Kaempfert, among others) brings his flair to such memorable tunes as "Food, Glorious Food," "As Long as He Needs Me," "Consider Yourself," and "Where is Love?" on this rollicking LP.
Elmer Bernstein, Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1957 Mono Recording) (Dot) (iTunes / Amazon)
Cecil B. DeMille's final film, released in 1956, may have been his greatest: an epic, widescreen take on the biblical story of Moses (starring Charlton Heston as the leader of a Hebrew uprising and Yul Brenner as his adoptive brother turned foe Rameses II) that improved by leaps and bounds upon his solid, silent take on the story in 1923. Then a relative unknown, Elmer Bernstein established himself as one of the titanic composers of his generation with an epic, romantic score for the picture, originally represented on vinyl in this mono recording offering an hour of music. (Bernstein would later re-record the work twice in stereo, featured on various albums and mixes of the film; all were included in a handsome set from Intrada in 2016.)