Digital Roundup: 3/19/14

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Digital Roundup: 3/19/14

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Jerry Williams, Gone: Not everyone knows Jerry Williams – or Jerry Lynn Williams, as he was often billed – but the late singer/songwriter had a way with a guitar as well as a gift for penning songs that other artists made into hits, including Eric Claption’s “Forever Man” and Delbert McClinton’s “Givin’ It Up for Your Love.” The latter track appears on Gone, which was Williams’ second album but his first for Warner Brothers, and not only are the songs strong, but he’s got a hell of a band playing them, including Jeff Porcaro on drums, Donald “Duck” Dunn and James Jamierson, Jr. on bass, and Steve Cropper on guitar.

Jim Messina, Messina: Some remember him from his work with Poco, while many more know him as one of half of the duo Loggins & Messina, but – not unlike Kenny Loggins – Jim Messina had a solo career, too. While Messina, his second effort under his own name, wasn’t a tremendous commercial success, it’s well-remembered for providing Messina with the opportunity to spotlight his musical diversity, tackling a variety of styles. (If your memory’s particularly long, you might also remember it for its single, “Stay the Night,” a duet with Pauline Wilson.)

Christian McBride, Vertical Vision: Jazz fans will be familiar with the way this gentleman handles a bass, a talent which he began to display in some pretty high-profile bands before he was even out of his teens, working alongside Bobby Watson, Freddie Hubbard, and many other musicians of note. Vertical Vision was McBride’s first Warner Brothers album (following four solo recordings for Verve and an interesting collaboration with ?uestlove and Uri Cane called The Philadelphia Experiment), and, as it turned out, it was also his last, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a listen: if you’re a jazz fan, you’ll quickly find that it’s a remarkable piece of music from start to finish.

Montana, I Love Music: If the idea of melding the grooves of disco to the rhythms of salsa strikes you as a pretty decent idea, you’ll want check out this 1978 album from Vincent Montana, Jr., who was best known for his work as a member of MFSB, the house band for Philadelphia International Records, before going on to form the Salsoul Orchestra. Montana released a limited amount of work under his own (last) name, but I Love Music is arguably the strongest of those efforts.

Al Jarreau, Glow: Recorded during an era when the esteemed Mr. Jarreau was still finding his commercial footing, Glow features the first of Al’s R&B chart hits – a cover of Leon Russell’s “Rainbow in Your Eyes” – along with his interpretations of Elton John’s “Your Song,” James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Somebody’s Watching You.”

Tonto's Expanding Head Band, Zero Time: Handily winning the award for Best Band Name in this week’s Digital Roundup, the reissue of the debut album from the duo of Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff is liable to inspire electronic music aficionados to weep with joy. While their greatest claim to fame is arguably their collaborations with Stevie Wonder, it was Zero Time that led Stevie to reach out and use Cecil and Margouleff in the first place, so now’s your chance to hear what impressed him so much.

Monsterland, Destroy What You Love: Here’s a fun little lost treasure from the early ’90, but it’s hard to say if Monsterland – still viewed in some circles as the best damned band to ever come out of Danbury, Connecticut – were ahead of their time or running a bit behind. Either way, this is a catchy, crunchy collection of tunes that’s worthy of reappraisal if you’re a fan of Husker Du, the Lemonheads, and Soul Asylum in their glory days.

The Pooh Sticks, Optimistic Fool: Most would agree that this isn’t the best album in the Pooh Sticks’ discography (if we’re to be honest, that honor would probably go to The Great White Wonder or Million Seller), but given that it’s currently the only effort from Swansea’s finest that’s available digitally, we’re just happy that we’re able to fill at least a little bit of a void that’s lasted for far too long. Plus, it’s still an incredibly fun affair. If the one-two punch of “Opening Night” and “Cool in a Crisis” doesn’t set your toes to tapping, you may want to check your pulse.