Digital Roundup: 3/12/14
Kraftwerk, Computer World / Techno Pop / The Mix (Remastered): It couldn’t be more perfect timing for these three albums to be remastered and join Rhino’s digital catalog, given that, starting on March 18, the legendary German electronic band will be performing the first two in their entirety on March 20 as part of their five-night stint at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall. 1981’s Computer World may be best remembered for its title track and the single “Pocket Calculator,” but whatever you consider its signature tracks, it’s generally considered to be a highlight of the band’s discography and has often been described as one of the best albums of the 1980s, period. Meanwhile, if 1986’s Techno Pop doesn’t ring a bell, it’s possible it’s because you purchased it when it was still called Electric Café (the change in name – to the band’s original working title for the album – took place when it was reissued in 2009), but the singles “Musique Non Stop” and “The Telephone Call” will probably stand out either way. As for 1991’s The Mix, you won’t be hearing that one live, as it’s a remix album, but for longtime fans who appreciate a good reconstruction and/or reinvention, the 11 tracks are certainly still worth hearing.
Miles Davis, Tutu / Amandla / Doo-Bop (Mastered for iTunes): The last three albums from Davis’s days with Warner Brothers – not counting his soundtracks for Siesta and Dingo – have finally been mastered for iTunes, giving fans a chance to dig into digital versions of the stuff he released in ’86, ’89, and ’91, respectively. Tutu was intended to be a collaboration with Prince but ended up being done with Marcus Miller instead, which seemed to have worked out well enough, given that it won the 1987 Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist. In fact, Davis and Miller worked well enough together that they collaborated again on Amandla, although Davis’s final album, Doo-Bop, found him working with producer Easy Mo Bee on a collection of songs that found him turning away from jazz and into some semblance of hip-hop. Purists have been known to cringe when Doo-Bop comes up in conversation, due to the fact that Davis died before it was completed, leading Mr. Mo Bee to create the songs “High Speed Chase” and “Fantasy” from unreleased trumpet performances by Davis, but no matter how you feel about the album, it confirms that Davis was up for sonic experimentation until the bitter end.
Simply Red, Picture Book : Although Mick Hucknall and company went on to score a far more substantial international hit with their 1991 album, Stars, which went platinum 12 times over in the UK, American audiences still tend to associate Simply Red with this, their debut album, which gave the world the hits “Holding Back the Years” and “Money$ Too Tight (To Mention).” Fair warning: this is the standard edition of the album, which should be just fine for casual listeners. (More obsessive fans will already have picked up the 2008 collector’s edition, anyway, which features five remixes as well as the band’s 19-song performance at the 1986 Montreux Jazz Festival.)
Various Artists, Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project: Released just in advance of David Arnold’s debut as an actual Bond composer (his first score for the famed spy franchise was Tomorrow Never Dies, which hit theater two months after this album), Shaken and Stirred provided Arnold with an opportunity to revisit the themes of several classic Bond films and tweak them to match his own musical sensibilities. If you’re a fan of cover songs, then this is an absolute must-hear, thanks to performances by – among others – Aimee Mann (“Nobody Does It Better”), Pulp (“All Time High”), Martin Fry of ABC (“Thunderball”), and Iggy Pop (“We Have All the Time in the World”).