Midge Ure is one of those musicians for whom your frame of reference depends heavily on when you first started paying attention to music: he had his first #1 hit in 1976 as the frontman for a teeny-bop band called Slik, teamed up with former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and future Public Image Ltd. Guitarist Steve New to front The Rich Kids, saw top-10 success as a member of Visage (“Fade to Grey”), found further chart action when he took over at the lead singer of Ultravox (“Vienna,” “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes”), co-wrote Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” with Bob Geldof, and has had a formidable solo career as well, earning a top-10 hit with “No Regrets” and topping the UK charts with “If I Was.” A few years ago, Ure reunited with Ultravox to record a new album (2012’s Brilliant), but most recently he’s been peddling his top-notch solo wares again, having released his most recent full-length effort, Fragile, last year.
Rhino: First things first: let’s talk a bit about your new album, since that’s how we came to chat in the first place. What are the origins of Fragile? Did you start stockpiling songs until you had enough to make an album, or did you go in with the intent of making an album?
Midge Ure: No, I think it’s been the slowest album I’ve ever undertaken. Ever! I started compiling ideas and started the recording process probably 10 years prior to finishing the record. For a whole slew of reasons, it just took me forever to get ‘round to finishing the thing.
After our Digital Roundup made its grand return for 2015 a couple of weeks ago, you may have noticed that we promptly followed that up with a week of radio silence. Look, people, it’s a slow roll-out. We’ve got to build, you know? But we’re back this week, and although it’s only a small showing (the sum total of our additions is three digital 45s, which makes for a whopping six songs), we dare say it’s a good week for Betty Harris fans.
“Cry to Me” / “I’ll Be a Liar” – The A-side is, as R&B fans probably already know, a cover of a Bert Berns song which was famously recorded by Solomon Burke, but Harris slowed down the tempo of the track and earned a top-10 R&B hit and well as a #23 single on the Billboard Hot 100. Both Burke’s version and Harris’s take on the song were produced by Berns, which is fair, since who would’ve known better how the song should’ve sounded than the man who wrote it?
It’s a New Orleans kind of week here at Rhino, with a pair of classic ‘70s albums from folks who hail from the Big Easy getting the 180-gram vinyl treatment.
Dr. John, In the Right Place: He was born Malcolm John Rebennack, his friends call him “Mac,” but you probably know him as Dr. John, and if you’re familiar with his music at all, then you know this album, which remains the most commercially successful effort of his career. Produced by Allen Toussaint, In the Right Place also includes the good doctor’s biggest single, “Right Place, Wrong Time,” which kicks off the proceedings in suitably funky fashion. For many, this album was their first introduction to the sounds of Nawlins, and all we can say to that is that there are plenty of worse places to start: songs like “Traveling Mood,” “Life” (a Toussaint composition), and “Shoo Fly Marches On” aren’t just the perfect soundtrack to your next Mardi Gras party, they’re a gateway drug into Dr. John’s discography, and, boy, are they addictive. Plus, it’s on colored vinyl, so it looks pretty awesome, too.
Late last year, after an extended wait here in the States, the back catalog of Mike + The Mechanics finally made it onto iTunes, which – at least to the band’s American fans – felt like one of the greatest gifts of 2014. Now, Mike Rutherford and the gang present a contender for one of the greatest gifts of 2015: a deluxe edition of the band’s sophomore effort, Living Years.
As you might expect, the two-disc set features the original 10-song album on Disc One, which includes the hugely popular title track as well as the singles “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Seeing is Believing,” and “Nobody Knows.” Disc Two, meanwhile, includes the 2014 revisitation of the title track – this time featuring Andrew Roachford on lead vocals, backed by the South African Isango Choir – along with 11 live tracks recorded during the band’s 1989 Living Years UK tour.
If you came of age in the late ‘80s/early '90s and had even a passing interest in R&B, then we have a sneaking suspicion that Keith Sweat might’ve been the soundtrack to at least a few of your coming-of-age moments, if you take our meaning. And if you don’t take our meaning, then you clearly need to listen to Keith Sweat’s Harlem Romance: The Love Collection, which is out today and is filled with 15 songs that’ll help you slow-jam your way into almost anyone’s heart.
Are you doubtful of this claim?
We understand completely – you never know who to trust these days – so to help convince you, we’ve composed a paragraph which features the titles of all 15 songs included on Harlem Romance, just to give you a feel for what kind of sexy business Mr. Sweat is getting up to on this compilation: