Welcome to The Weekend Stream, a relaxing review of notable digital-only catalogue titles. There may be no CD or vinyl, but there's plenty of great new/old music to float you into the weekend. Our pre-Thanksgiving feast includes three legendary women of rock, a summit of country icons, and some unexpected live gems from an alternative '80s outfit - plus so much more.
Tina Turner, Tina Turns the Country On! / Acid Queen / Rough / Love Explosion (Parlophone)
Hot on the heels of a new career-spanning compilation, the late Queen of Rock gets honored in an extra special way with the digital debuts of four rare solo albums, recorded well before her incredible comeback with 1984's Private Dancer. Tina Turns the Country On! (1974) and Acid Queen (1975) were extraordinarily eclectic affairs that included covers of The Who (following her appearance as the Acid Queen in the band's film adaptation of Tommy), The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton and others - plus some of her final recordings with Ike Turner before she left him following years of abuse. Her first post-Ike album, 1978's Rough, featured covers of Elton John ("The Bitch is Back") and Willie Nelson ("Funny How Time Slips Away"), while 1979's Love Explosion, never released in the U.S., leaned into disco originals and a few soulful covers like The O'Jays' "Back Stabbers." A crucial chapter of Tina's unique story is now unlocked for even more to enjoy!
Blondie, No Exit / The Curse of Blondie (BMG Rights Management)
After a 17-year hiatus, Blondie surprised fans by reuniting and staying together, issuing several albums of new music in the process. The first, 1999's No Exit, was anchored by a terrific single, "Maria," which topped the U.K. singles chart; it also featured a great cover of The Shangri-La's "Out in the Streets." Follow-up The Curse of Blondie followed in 2003, including typically diverse fare like the dance-pop single "Good Boys."
One of Madonna's most irresistible singles of the 21st century, "Don't Tell Me" was a worldwide smash that blended country twang with glitchy electronic beats. This generous more-than-an-EP gathers nine mixes and edits from 2000 plus a rare B-side, "Cyber-Raga."
Bill Anderson feat. Bobby Bare, Jimmy Fortune Vince Gill & Willie Nelson, The Country I Grew Up With (MCA Nashville/UMe) (iTunes / Amazon)
The long-standing country legend has recruited a formidable line-up for a nostalgic new single, bringing in four other unforgettable voices - all of which are Country Music Hall of Fame inductees (Willie, of course, is a recent Rock. Roll Hall of Famer, too) - to bring good feelings to fans of the genre.
Wall of Voodoo, The Lost Tapes Vol. 1 (self-released - official site)
Last year, founding Wall of Voodoo keyboardist Chas T. Grey and Andy Prieboy (the group's final lead singer after Stan Ridgway's departure) uncovered a trove of forgotten recordings from the latter part of the band's history. After restoring the tapes to playable condition, the first fruits of their labor are available digitally through a new site linked above. These recordings - the first in a possible series - capture the band on their final tour, in support of the album Happy Planet (1987).
While the latest streaming-only single sides collection from U.K. rockers James is among their shortest, it's also the one with their most recognizable single: the college-rock smash "Laid."
Another generous helping of sides and alternate takes from the jazz icon's Sony Music-controlled works, the sixth volume of Ellington in Order offers 55 tracks, including one of his most enduring: "In a Sentimental Mood."
"It's a hit!" It took over 40 years, but Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's musical Merrily We Roll Along - which closed after just 16 performances in 1981 - is finally the toast of Broadway. Now everybody can hear why, thanks to this splendid new recording of the revival packing houses at the Hudson Theatre. Jonathan Groff, Daniel Radcliffe, and Lindsay Mendez bring new depth to the three-way friendship at the core of Merrily We Roll Along, while stellar support is provided by Krystal Joy Brown, Katie Rose Clarke, Reg Rogers, a fantastic ensemble, and a brassy, rip-roaring orchestra. Just take a listen to the show's Overture, and we know you'll be hooked on this one-of-a-kind show that's finally getting its full due. And CD buyers, don't fear: a physical release is coming in January!
Late singer-songwriter-performance artist Nora York (1956-2016) was happily difficult to pigeonhole. Throughout her versatile career, she headlined at Newport Jazz, had works commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, performed at Lincoln Center, and wrote music-theatre pieces for the Public Theatre. Now, the second of a trilogy of posthumous releases has arrived digitally. Rain includes songs from two works York wrote with her frequent collaborator, five-time Emmy-winning composer Jamie Lawrence: Water, Water, Everywhere, a meditation on climate change, and Jump, an adaptation of Tosca that premiered at the Public's Under the Radar Festival. The album features Steve Tarshis on guitar, Dave Hofstra on bass, Jamie Lawrence on keyboards, Peter Grant on percussion, and a guest appearance by Nora's brother Andrew Schwartz on bassoon. Jamie Lawrence - son of renowned Broadway conductor Elliot Lawrence - has produced this beguiling and altogether singular record.
Johnny Mathis and Kristin Chenoweth, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Legacy) (YouTube)
Here's a special treat sure to bring a smile to your face: an all-new animated music video for Johnny Mathis' ebullient duet with Kristin Chenoweth on "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" from his new album Christmas Time is Here, available on CD from Legacy Recordings and on LP from Real Gone Music and Second Disc Records!