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John Lennon

Signature Box

(EMI; US: 5 Oct 2010)

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John Lennon
Signature Box


Capitol and the Lennon estate made sure no one would forget John Lennon would have turned 70 in 2010. Two box sets, a complete set of remastered albums, and the umpteenth “best of” were released. A new “stripped down” mix of Double Fantasy was promoted. Yet the overall critical and cultural perspective on Lennon’s solo work changed very little. Being difficult to listen to doesn’t make Plastic Ono Band any less great, and being easy to listen to doesn’t make Imagine any less great, either. Everything else ranges from hit-and-miss to pure folly. Maybe conventional wisdom regarding these recordings is so frozen because Lennon was nothing if not direct and honest in his music. There’s really very little of substance left to uncover. But that’s really not the point, and never was. If we’re honest, all the compilations, reissues, ostensible reconsiderations, amount to the same purpose. They’re ways of saying we wish Lennon hadn’t died in 1980, especially the way he did, and we’re still trying to get over it. In other words, we miss the man even more than we care about his music. John Bergstrom


 

 



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Miles Davis

Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Legacy Edition

(Sony Legacy; US: 31 Aug 2010; UK: 30 Aug 2010)

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Miles Davis
Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Legacy Edition


Oddly enough, Bitches Brew may be the album that best represents Miles Davis’s protean discography. It’s experimental, but deep down you can still feel Charlie Parker’s bebop gripping Davis. It’s electric and sprawling, but not nearly as thorny as later albums, and clings to the resonant, shadowy mood of his mid-‘60s work with the second quintet. In other words, it dips its toes in the best of Davis’s strengths, which is why it’s an album always worthy of revisiting. It’s an album that changes with each listen, that opens up new secrets to you each time. This 40th anniversary addition is particularly revealing. The album sounds crisp and full, and the few outtakes offer a compelling glimpse at the pieces that became the whole through innovative, patchwork production. The real gem here, though, is the DVD of a Copenhagen performance from late 1969. There’s no electric instruments, but the boys—Davis, Shorter, Corea, Holland, DeJohnette—are spreading out in the Bitches Brew material and absolutely scorching it. The performance is brilliant, Davis wild and on fire and lost in his own world. It’s a snap shot of an artist at the height of his powers, and his curiosity, and on the cusp of releasing this, his greatest achievement. Matt Fiander


 

 



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The Cure

Disintegration (Deluxe Edition)

(Rhino; US: 8 Jun 2010)

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The Cure
Disintegration (Deluxe Edition)


It’s no surprise how gracefully the Cure’s 1989 understated masterpiece has aged. It was an extremely daring album when it first hit the public’s ears, but today, in an age where countless morose young bands keep trying vainly to emulate the band and the record only to come off as facile and forgettable, it feels so refreshingly atmospheric, poignant, romantic, and yes, melancholy. With the original album’s mastering horribly out of date by today’s “loudness war” standards, Disintegration has been spruced up with a slightly punchier sound, but while the dynamic range has been narrowed, thankfully that doesn’t diminish the devastating impact tracks like “Plainsong”, “Pictures of You”, and “Fascination Street” still possess. Additionally, this deluxe edition gives us a superbly detailed glimpse at the creation of the album, with a second disc crammed with home demos and studio run-throughs, as well as an expanded version of the rare Entreat live album, all of which will enthrall new and old fans alike. Adrien Begrand


 

 



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David Bowie

Station to Station (Special Edition)

(EMI; US: 28 Sep 2010; UK: 27 Sep 2010)

Review [21.Oct.2010]

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David Bowie
Station to Station (Special Edition)


“It’s not the side effects of the cocaine,” David Bowie sings on the title track of Station to Station. Bullshit. The creator, paranoid, road-weary and strung out, still can’t remember much about the recording sessions. Accounts put the album’s recording period at either a feverish ten days or over several months during Bowie’s The Man Who Fell to Earth period. Though the album only features six songs, the ten-minute opener has the ambition of a symphonic opus throughout its three major movements. With the exception of “Golden Years”, the album has routinely lived in the shadows of more high-profile Bowie works like Space Oddity and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, but this year’s rerelease will no doubt change that. Impeccably packaged and featuring a two-disc copy of Bowie’s 1976 performance at Nassau Coliseum, Station to Station is a great reintroduction to the Thin White Duke for those that missed it the first time around. Sean McCarthy


 

 



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The Rolling Stones

Exile on Main Street (Deluxe Edition)

(Universal; US: 18 May 2010)

1



The Rolling Stones
Exile on Main Street (Deluxe Edition)


Of all of the events that comprise the storied history of rock ‘n’ roll, the legend of the Rolling Stones’ rambling, shambling masterpiece Exile on Main Street remains the most endlessly fascinating. Who wouldn’t give their eye teeth to have spent an afternoon at Keith Richard’s villa in the South of France during the summer of 1972? Barring unforeseen developments in the time travel industry this decadent Super Deluxe edition of Exile is as close as we’re ever going to get to that stifling basement at Nellcote. For a couple hundred of your hard earned dollars, you’ll be treated to re-mastered versions of the original album on both CD and vinyl, a disc of outtakes and extras, a DVD, and a 60-page book. While the DVD reeks of self-censorship, the book delves deep into the notoriously debauched Exile tour. Bonus disc highlights include the touched up gem “Plundered My Soul”, which reunites the band with long-lamented guitarist Mick Taylor for the first time in decades. Less moneyed consumers will still find themselves duly satisfied by the single disc version. A fresh copy of one of the greatest albums of all time is never a bad investment. Daniel Tebo


 
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