The Beatles In Mono | The Beatles | Apple/EMI
Flashback Release Of The Month
I'm here to say this over-the-top box set really is that good. Yeah, for the price you could buy a new chrome doo-dad for your bike, but chrome will rust before this music gets old. And this will probably be the one and only Beatles set you'll ever need to own because it's Ultra Glide-loaded. For the price of a detail job you get 10 Beatles albums, packaged like little LP records in their original sleeves. Even the inner sleeves are re-produced. And each is packaged in a protective outer sleeve. Cool, except if you're old enough to remember the Beatles you're probably gonna need glasses to read the small print. The discs themselves are reproductions of the original record labels. And there's a great 44 page booklet and other bonus material too. Trust me, you may wanna burn copies to put in your sadllebags because, honestly, if you spill some 20w-50 on these, you'll be heartbroken.
I'm not sure how they did it (actually I do, but don't have the space to explain it here), but Apple has made these mono reissues sound better than the stereo ones (also newly available separately). If you're familiar enough with your old Beatles CDs, you'll be blown away by these, which in mono has subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the overdubbing, editing, and mixing. Mono isn't meant for headphones, but it sounds great blasting away through speakers-which is, after all, the way the Beatles first played it. If you ever listened to the Beatles on a transistor radio, you'll have an epiphany. On a bike cruising down the highway, it becomes obvious that, just as it is with our machines, sometimes old technology works best.
Santana Legacy Edition | Santana | Sony
While many cities lay claim to being the birthplace of rock 'n' roll, one thing that's certain is that San Francisco was most instrumental in nurturing and helping to define it. In the '60s, the holy diverse triumvirate of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana all hailed from the Bay Area and wielded a mighty influence on the future of rock. Is it any wonder that this part of the country also offers up a diverse cornucopia of favorite motorcycle-riding roads? From the beaches to the redwoods, this part of northern California is inextricably tied to motorcycle pop culture. Harleys were never manufactured there, but much of their perceived rough-and-tumble imagery certainly was born by the bay.
Santana was an outlaw band of sorts. They didn't fit the usual pre-conceived notion of rock groups, which were mainly white at the time. Like Hendrix, Mexico-born Carlos Santana opened up the definition a bit more by bringing elements of Latin, Afro-Cuban and other cultural sounds into play. Their debut album, released in 1969, blew many minds, thanks in part to the songs "Soul Sacrifice", "Jingo" and "Evil Ways." Santana's epic performance at Woodstock may have helped make them a legit rock band, but the groups' playing went way beyond the image itself. Carlos and Greg Rollie were the parents and both contributed heavily to the band's hybrid sound.
Listening to this album while riding can result in pure ecstasy, so long as the road ahead is open and scenic. Hell, even cruising the concrete canyons of San Francisco itself is fun, even with those pesky cable car tracks. Sony did an amazing job with this re-mastered edition (released in 2004) and even included a bonus CD of Woodstock performances and tracks from the album sessions. It's a priceless item of rock 'n' roll history.
*Note: Wheels represent ratings from 1 to 5 (best).
Them Crooked Vultures | DGC/Interscope
Led Zeppelin fans can finally rejoice now that a new album is finally out. The lineup is a little different. There's no Robert Plant or Jimmy Page. There's no new rock anthems like "Stairway to Heaven" or classics like "Black Dog." There aren't even any new regurgitated blues numbers from Muddy Waters or Willie Dixon. What we have in Them Crooked Vultures is the latest in Supergroup 101. TCV kinda sounds like Led Zep in lotsa places on the album. It's actually fun to listen for 'em. It's a great effort, but it ain't no Led Zep-and to be fair, TCV never claim to be Led Zeppelin. Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters at last establishes that he is the best rock drummer in the business. His work on this album ought to be sold to the U.S, military as "Shock and Awe II." John Paul Jones gets to relive his Zeppelin days; his bass playing lends purpose and he also serves as the official Minister of Inspiration. Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age is a big surprise. He one-ups Jimmy Page and is even a good replacement for Plant, albeit without the high-pitched vocal accoutrements. The songs give it all away: "Interlude With Ludes," "Elephants," and "Caligulove,"-can you tell these guys were having fun?
Thus the album is like taking all the world's greatest custom bike builders, locking them into a garage for a weekend and saying "build me a custom Road King ". The result is a collective work that naturally has signature trademarks from each contributor.
And how cool would it have been to be there, watching it all come together? Influences from their previous work are to be expected and it's not a bad thing here for these vulture dudes. It all works, sounds, and looks great. It's a nice album to take along for a ride because a rumbling exhaust tends to make the songs come alive. Maybe they planned it that way?
Flood | Moreland & Arbuckle | Telarc
Honestly, this CD sat around for a while because I assumed with a name like Moreland and Arbuckle, they was probably a re-born Seals and Crofts-type group. Revelation Number One: They're actually equal parts Muddy Waters, Savoy Brown, Yardbirds, and J Geils Band (when J Geils had the word "blues" in their name). Revelation Number Two: Moreland and Arbuckle are white and hail from Kansas. If they had nicknames like say, "Blind Man" and "Spanky," they'd have a shrine on Highway 49. These cats play the blues like nobody's business. The CD sounds like an old blues record-all that's missing is the surface noise and the tics and pops. Exhibit A: Little Walter's "Hate to See You Go" is the opening song and it comes at you like a smack upside the head. Exhibit B: "Legend of John Henry" is a full-blown hurricane and you'd best be hangin' on tight. Moreland plays a trick custom gen-u-wine cigar box guitar just like those blues cats that came up from the Mississippi delta on their way to Memphis and Chicago. Exhibit C: On "Don't Wake Me," you'd swear they've conjured up the ghost of Elmore James or sold their souls to the devil to gain a knowledge of the blues, just like Robert Johnson. And so it goes. This entire album is an all-you-can-eat blues buffet, best served with cold beer and pool tables. Amidst the Jonas Brothers and Lady Ga(g) Ga(g)s, who knew they still made music like this? No matter, you'll be glad they still do. Play this on your bike at maximum volume and Johnny Law will be pulling you over before the next off ramp, 'cause you'll be lost in some of the greatest road tunes this side of Memphis.
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