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Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 4:09pm

Late last year, a collection of the best moments from Crossroads 2013, Eric Clapton’s annual guitar festival, was released digitally and on CD, but when one looks at the track listing and the sheer volume of classic songs included therein, it’s hard for an old-school audiophile to avoid dreaming of hearing the whole thing on vinyl. As it happens, though, some of those very audiophiles work here at Rhino, and as a result, the vinyl release of Crossroads 2013 is in stores today!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 1:02pm

If you’re one of those Chicago fans who’s been grousing about the fact that the band’s 1975 live album, Live In Japan, has only been available in digital form for the past several years, prepare to be excited: as of today, it’s finally back in print on CD.

Recorded during a three-night stint at the Osaka Festival Hall in 1972 while the band was touring behind Chicago V, Live in Japan has often been described by fans and even the occasional band member (stand up, please, Walter Paradzeider) as sounding significantly better than Chicago’s previous live album, Live at Carnegie Hall, a.k.a. Chicago IV. Unfortunately, the Osaka shows haven’t been heard by nearly as many ears, as Live in Japan initially only saw release in Japan, and while that does make at least a little bit of sense, it’s still surprising that it took until 1996 for the album to earn a Stateside release, and even then only via the band’s own label, Chicago Records.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 11:26am

Every week, a few more releases join the Rhino digital catalog. Here’s a quick look at the latest LPs to join the club!

Hank Crawford, Introducing Hank Crawford: Despite its title, this isn’t the debut album by the noted Ray Charles sideman: it’s actually a compilation of high points from his solo recording career. (We can certainly understand how people could get confused, though: the photo on the cover is, in fact, the very same photo that emblazons his actual debut album, 1960’s More Soul.) If you’ve been curious about Crawford’s career but found the double-disc Heart & Soul compilation too intimidating, this is definitely the way to go.

Kenny Garrett, Happy People: This 2002 album found Garrett doing his best to straddle the worlds of contemporary jazz, i.e. the material that actually sells (it’s no coincidence that the smooth “Song for DiFang” was the first thing listeners heard when they put on the record), and the old-school stuff that caused him to fall in love with the genre in the first place, best exemplified by the tellingly-titled “Monking Around.”

Rickie Lee Jones, Rickie Lee Jones: This classic 1979 debut from the so-called Duchess of Coolsville doesn’t need any help from us to make you see it a must-download: “Chuck E.’s in Love” does that all by itself. (There’s plenty of other great material, too.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 4:25pm

Here’s hoping the members of Spandau Ballet are planning to spend a significant amount of this week catching up on their beauty sleep, because they’re really going to need to be rested, ready, and at the top of their game when next week rolls around:

• On March 12, all five members of the band – if you haven’t had to remember their names for awhile, that’s Tony Hadley, Gary Kemp, Steve Norman, John Keeble, and Martin Kemp – will be at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, attending the world premiere of their documentary, Soul Boys of the Western World, which is in competition in the 24 Beats per Second category.

• Just after it becomes March 13 – at 12:30 AM, to be precise – the band will perform at the Vulcan Gas Company, which will be a decidedly momentous occasion, as it’ll be their first U.S. performance in 28 years.

• At 3:30 PM on the 13th, the fivesome will sit down for an interview at the SXSW Music Conference.

• Finally, on March 14 they’ll be back onstage again, this time as participants in the Official SXSW Tribute to Lou Reed.

Yep, it’s gonna be a pretty exhausting few days for Spandau Ballet…but you’d be hard pressed to find Gary Kemp complaining about a single bit of it.

A few days ago, we hopped on the phone with Mr. Kemp in order to discuss the band’s seminal album, 1983’s True – the reissue of which hits stores today, precisely 31 years after its initial release – and while we had him on the line, we also chatted a bit about their belated return to the States in conjunction with Soul Boys of the Western World. During the course of the conversation, we got a fair amount of insight into how Spandau Ballet’s sound evolved over the course of their career, dug a bit deeper into the importance of True to their U.S. profile, and found out why it may or may not be a coincidence that the new promo photos for Doctor Who find the Twelfth Doctor wearing a jacket which looks like it could’ve been swiped from Mr. Hadley’s wardrobe.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 12:47pm

Put on your sailin’ shoes and prep your stereo system accordingly, Rhino’s served up a big helping of Little Feat. In conjunction with the band’s new 13-CD boxed set, Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years – 1971-1990, founding Feat member Bill Payne was kind enough to hop on the phone for a nice long chat and spend some time reflecting on the band’s lengthy career on the label.

Rhino: How did you and Lowell George first cross paths?

Bill Payne: I was up in Santa Barbara…well, to be specific, I was just north of there, in Isla Vista, where the University of California, Santa Barbara was. I had a phony credit card that someone had given me. There were two labels that I could call: one was Bizarre, and the other was Straight Records. They were both Zappa labels. Naturally, I called Bizarre – though I’m sure the same person would’ve picked up the phone for both – and, you know, here I was on the street, basically, saying, “Uh, I play keyboards…” [Laughs.]

It took several calls to sort of get this person, this lady on the other end of the line, to take me seriously enough – or maybe she felt sorry for me – to put me in touch with Jeffrey Simmons, who was with a group called Eureka, which was one of the bands in Frank Zappa’s stable. I finally did meet Jeff at the Tropicana Hotel on Santa Monica Boulevard, and Jeff said, “Oh, well, I play keyboards, too, and this might kind of destroy what I’m doing, but there’s this guy Lowell George that I really think you ought to try and reach.” So Jeffrey put me on to Lowell.