Digital Roundup: 7/9/14
New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:
Big Daddy, Cruisin’ Through the Rhino Years: To call Big Daddy a cover band is to come nowhere close to describing how much fun it is to hear these guys tackle tunes by everyone from Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles to Survivor and Sir Mix-a-Lot in the style of rock ‘n’ roll artists from the ‘50s and early ‘60s. Their Wikipedia page suggests that they were “among the first groups to create mash-ups,” and while that phrasing makes them sound perhaps a bit more important to music history than they really are, Big Daddy certainly has a gift for melding the sounds of two disparate artists together. Take, for instance, their complete re-recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which found them crooning “With a Little Help from My Friends” like Johnny Mathis and “A Day in the Life” like a Buddy Holly song. If you’re a longtime fan, we’ll close by letting you know that this 21-track set features the 16 songs from their previous greatest-hits collection (The Best of Big Daddy) while also adding “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Baby Got Back,” “It’s So Hard to Say I Love You,” and “Addicted to Love.”
Luka Bloom, The Platinum Collection: It’s possible that those of you who came of age listening to Christy Moore may still only see Luka Bloom as Moore’s little brother, Barry – that’s how he was billed on his first few albums, you know – but for those who were introduced to Bloom in 1990 when he burst back onto the scene bearing a new name, a big-time American record deal (Reprise), and a cracking little single called “Delirious,” they’re more likely to wonder, “So who’s this Christy Moore guy?” This compilation isn’t completely career-spanning, as Bloom’s been relatively prolific over the years, but it’s a nice sampler for those looking for a simple one-disc distillation of his career. (Plus, it includes his truly fantastic cover of LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.”)
Christie Hennessy, The Definitive Christie Hennessy: Funnily enough, Christie Hennessy worked with both Luka Bloom and Christy Moore during his career, although his career was certainly a unique one. Having released his first album, The Green Album, in 1972, only to have it sell poorly, Hennessy went on a recording hiatus for two decades. When he returned in 1992 with his sophomore effort, it certainly wasn’t a slump: The Rehearsal went triple-platinum in Ireland. This compilation may bear a title which will cause fans to twitch, but – not unlike Mr. Bloom’s Platinum Collection, this is still a solid entry point into Hennessy’s catalog.
Hothouse Flowers, Born: Even if you followed the Irish band Hothouse Flowers through their short stream of hits on the Modern Rock chart during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s (“Don’t Go,” “I’m Sorry,” “Give It Up,” and “Thing of Beauty” were the biggies), it’s probable that you never got the chance to hear Born, the band’s fourth album, which found the band returning after a five-year hiatus to the sounds of general indifference. In fact, the album never even got an American release, so if you used to love these guys but have been wondering what happened to them, now’s your big chance to play catch-up.
Rick James, Kickin’: Here’s a fun one for funk fans: a Rick James album from 1989 that has been sitting on the shelf since it was originally recorded but which we’ve finally rescued and released for the first time ever. It’s part of a massive Rick James reissue campaign – one which extends well beyond our little label – that’s being done in conjunction with the release of James’s posthumously-published autobiography, Glow, a collaborative effort with author David Ritz, but to our knowledge, Kickin’ is the only album of the bunch that’s never been released before, so…you’re welcome. (Now maybe this’ll finally inspire Motown to dig up those Mynah Birds recordings that James did with Neil Young back in the day.)
Dee Dee King, Standing in the Spotlight: If you read our “Remembering Dee Dee Ramone” piece a few weeks back, then you already knew that this digital reissue was forthcoming, and if you didn’t read that piece, then we’ll unabashedly recycle a bit of it right here to sum up this album: “Dee Dee proudly trumpeted in his autobiography, Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones, that ‘Billboard called my solo album…a great party album and even said that my raps put the Beastie Boys to shame.’ Meanwhile, the All Music Guide assured its readers that the album “will go down in the annals of pop culture as one of the worst recordings of all time.” We’re going to play Switzerland and suggest that the truth may lie somewhere in the middle, but what’s ultimately most important is that Dee Dee was proud of it.”
The Pretenders, Learning to Crawl/Get Close: It’s pretty rare to find someone who’s a digital purist, but if for some reason you’ve been grumbling about the expanded editions of these two Pretenders albums, you’re in luck: now you can buy them without the bonus material.
Various Artists, The Atlantic Family Live at Montreux: This is one of those releases that’ll instantly thrill some folks while leaving others baffled, so we’ll start by answering the first question that most outsiders will want to know: “The Atlantic Family” consists of the Don Ellis Orchestra, the Average White Band, Ben E. King on lead vocals, a host of backing vocalists including the one and only Luther Vandross, and a whole bunch of guest musicians, including Sonny Fortune and David “Fathead” Newman, Michael and Randy Brecker, Herbie Mann, Dick Morrissey…oh, seriously, the list just goes on and on. With that said, however, there are only a grand total of six tracks on what was once a 2-LP set, owing to the fact that the shortest track (“Everything Must Change”) is over six minutes long and the longest – a decidedly jam-filled version of “Pick Up the Pieces” – lasts for 21 minutes and 40 seconds. It’s an odd effort, to be sure, but it’s a fascinating amalgam of R&B and jazz that’s certainly worth hearing at least once.