Digital Roundup 4/23/14

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Digital Roundup 4/23/14

New this week in the iTunes Rhino Catalog Room:

Long John Baldry, Boogie Woogie: The Warner Brothers Recordings: It may be a bit hard for British music fans to accept that folks on these shores are likely to be more familiar with Long John Baldry’s voice from giving voice to Dr. Robotnik on the animated Sonic the Hedgehog series than from any of his songs, but it’s almost certainly true: Baldry might’ve had a #1 song in the UK with his 1967 single “Let the Heartaches Begin,” but his highest-charting U.S. single, “Don’t Try to Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” only earned a paltry #73 placing. That’s hardly any indication of his gifts as a blues singer, though, as evidenced by this collection of both albums Baldry released during his brief stint on Warner Brothers – 1971’s It Ain’t Easy and 1972’s Everything Stops for Tea, each of which has been remastered – along with several alternate takes, previously-unreleased songs, live performances, and even a couple of radio spots.

The Bob Crewe Generation, Motivation: Bob Crewe’s career as a songwriter significantly overshadows his efforts as a performer, which is only to be expected when his list of compositions includes some of the Four Seasons’ biggest hits – including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn (Go Away),” “Rag Doll,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” – as well as tracks by Herman’s Hermits (“Silhouettes”), Mitch Ryder (“Devil with a Blue Dress On”), the Toys (“A Lover’s Concerto”), and Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” among many, many others. This 1977 album, however, features Crewe’s debut as a vocalist, and while he may not be on the same level as the artists he helped into the upper reaches of the charts, the songs are so strong that they make this a highly enjoyable listen. (It also doesn’t hurt that the whole thing was produced by the legendary Jerry Wexler.)

Daddy Longlegs, Daddy Longlegs: Once upon a time, there were four American lads who spontaneously decided to head over to England right around the time the draft for the Vietnam War kicked in. (Pure coincidence, surely.) Adopting the name Daddy Longlegs, the quartet released their self-titled debut album in 1970 on Warner Brothers, with the label making the creative decision to center much of their ad campaign around the fact that no one had ever heard of the band. Unfortunately, that’s more or less still the case, but that hasn’t stopped the group from maintaining a cult following over the years, one which has been aided considerably by their highly educational website. Is Daddy Longlegs’ debut an artifact of its time? At times, yes, but the way it bounces from rollicking “(Getting’) High Again” to the poignant “Waiting for the Snow to Fall” and keeps listeners guessing with its mix of blues, country, and straight-up rock ‘n’ roll makes it an entertaining listen from start to finish and a oft-forgotten album that’s well worth being rediscovered.

E.P.M., No Lies: The artist known as E.P.M. only recorded a single album under that moniker, but Eddie Martinez is more than the sum of the tracks on No Lies: he’s a noted session guitarist who’s worked with everyone from David Lee Roth to Run-D.M.C., and in one of his more high-profile gigs, he served as Mick Jagger’s axe man during his performance at Live Aid. For a one-off solo effort, though, No Lies is a pretty funky endeavor, thanks in no small part to its producer, Bernard Edwards of Chic. Take the AOR sound from your typical ‘80s soundtrack, add a bit of ‘80s R&B flair (think Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me”), and you’ll be prepared for this entertainingly catchy effort.

Neurotic Outsiders, Neurotic Outsiders: What do you get when you take one member of the Sex Pistols, one member of Duran Duran, and two members of Guns N’ Roses? You get Neurotic Outsiders, apparently, a one-off album from Steve Jones, John Taylor, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum. The album was ultimately more entertaining than successful, but if you set your expectations accordingly (which is to say that the sum of these particular parts doesn’t equal anything on the level of, say, the Travelling Wilburys), you’ll still have a rockin’ good time.