Kraftwerk, Computer World / Techno Pop / The Mix (Remastered): It couldn’t be more perfect timing for these three albums to be remastered and join Rhino’s digital catalog, given that, starting on March 18, the legendary German electronic band will be performing the first two in their entirety on March 20 as part of their five-night stint at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall. 1981’s Computer World may be best remembered for its title track and the single “Pocket Calculator,” but whatever you consider its signature tracks, it’s generally considered to be a highlight of the band’s discography and has often been described as one of the best albums of the 1980s, period. Meanwhile, if 1986’s Techno Pop doesn’t ring a bell, it’s possible it’s because you purchased it when it was still called Electric Café (the change in name – to the band’s original working title for the album – took place when it was reissued in 2009), but the singles “Musique Non Stop” and “The Telephone Call” will probably stand out either way. As for 1991’s The Mix, you won’t be hearing that one live, as it’s a remix album, but for longtime fans who appreciate a good reconstruction and/or reinvention, the 11 tracks are certainly still worth hearing.
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!
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.
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.)
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.