Digital Roundup: 7/16/14
New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:
Eddie Harris, Live at Newport: We’re only just a few days past the 44th anniversary of the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival, which makes this the perfect week to add this album to the digital catalog, since – as you probably already figured out where we were going with this – that’s when and where it was recorded. As funky as it is jazzy, it’s a performance that may have been a little too ahead-of-the-curve for some at the time, but listening to it now, it’s clear that what Harris was really doing was trying to set a new musical standard…and succeeding, we’d argue.
Maynard Ferguson, A Message from Newport / Newport Suite: Despite its title, Maynard’s Message was not, in fact, recorded in Newport but, rather, at a performance in New York. Nor, for that matter, was Newport Suite, although that particular album does have the advantage of the song “Newport” having been premiered at the 1959 festival. Given the two album titles, it’s perhaps no surprise that they’ve been paired together in the past, but if you’re on a limited budget, we’d definitely recommend the latter, which is arguably one of the best efforts ever delivered by the legendary trumpeter.
Christopher Milk, Some People Will Drink Anything: Here’s a band name – yes, it’s a band, not just some guy named Christopher Milk – which might not ring a bell to many, but it’s an interesting and very poppy musical artifact from 1972 that was produced by Chris Thomas, arguably best known for his engineering work for the Beatles. The band’s official website describes the album as “a multi-faceted musical tour-de-force/farce that was, perhaps, too remarkable to be appreciated by the general public at the time of its release,” which means that now might well be the perfect time for you to investigate the songs written by Ralph Oswald and John Mendelsohn and see if the world’s caught up to them yet.
Sumner, Sumner: First of all, no, this is not Gordon Sumner, a.k.a. Sting. This is a band called Sumner – although just to confuse you further, they were named after their lead singer, Sumner Mering – and to be aware of them, you’d have to have been paying very close attention when they released this, their debut album, on Asylum/Elektra in 1980. Not that it didn’t pull some strong reviews at the time, but it did not, unfortunately, pull enough sales for the label to even keep them around long enough to suffer a sophomore slump. That’s a shame, because it’s a great lost slice of power pop, new wave, and straight up rock ‘n’ roll, including the intentionally radio-friendly opening track “Radioland,” the jet-propelled “No Time to Stop” and “It Ain’t Up to Me,” and the epic “Hot Night.” Plus, c’mon, how do you not love an album that closes with a song called “More Beer”? We’ve used this phrase before, but it seems appropriate to pull it out again here: Sumner may be an artifact of its time, but it’s an artifact that’s well worth rediscovering.