Digital Roundup: 5/21/14

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014
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Digital Roundup: 5/21/14

New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:

Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You: This week’s Mono Monday release is a classic by just about anyone’s definition of the word. Don’t believe us? Here’s how AllMusic.com’s review opens: “While the inclusion of ‘Respect’ -- one of the truly seminal singles in pop history -- is in and of itself sufficient to earn I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You classic status, Aretha Franklin's Atlantic label debut is an indisputable masterpiece from start to finish.” In addition to the aforementioned seminal single and the title track, there’s also “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and plenty of other evidence to back up the whole “classic album” theory. What are you waiting for, you mono maniacs? Go get it!

Brook Benton, The Gospel Truth: Although he earned his greatest success by far as a secular artist, scoring significant chart hits in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, Brook Benton took a detour into more spiritual territory in 1971 with this collection of gospel numbers. Given that the set arrived just after Benton had revived his career with the single “Rainy Night in Georgia,” it was a brave decision to switch things up in such a fashion. While it didn’t do much from a commercial standpoint, it’s still a solid entry in his catalog and one fans should definitely check out.

Bette Midler, Songs for the New Depression: Anyone who thinks they know Bette Midler’s music solely as a result of hearing “From a Distance” really needs to check out this, her third album, which features covers of songs by Phoebe Snow (“I Don’t Want the Night to End”), Bob Dylan (“Buckets of Rain”), and Tom Waits (“Shiver Me Timbers”), along with musical contributions from Todd Rundgren, Luther Vandross, Rick Derringer, and the aforementioned Mr. Dylan himself. On the other hand, it also opens with a disco-fied take on “Strangers in the Night,” but, hey, you can’t win ‘em all.

The Monkees, Head: Yes, the soundtrack to the Monkees’ lone cinematic effort has been available digitally before this week, but it’s always been the expanded edition, and unless you’re a diehard Monkees fan, the truth of the matter is that you probably don’t need anything but the album’s original track listing. (In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have waited until 46 years after its initial release to say something. Sorry about that.)

R.E.M., Complete Rarities: Warner Bros. 1988-2011: For R.E.M. fans, this really is shaping up to be the best week ever. On top of Unplugged getting a digital and CD release and the band’s Warner Brothers catalog getting remastered for iTunes, we’ve also put together a digital release of all of the band’s rarities. We’re talking B-sides, soundtrack inclusions, compilation contributions… In short, you name it, and if we’ve got the rights to it, then we’ve put it on this collection. You’re welcome.