Digital Roundup: 7/2/14

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Digital Roundup: 7/2/14

New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:

Chaka? Gamma! Gamma? Chaka!

Okay, so it’s no Oprah and Uma, but David Letterman’s notoriously awkward Oscars joke was still the first thing that came to mind when we saw that this week’s only two digital releases were Chaka Khan’s The Studio Album Collection: 1978-1992 and the third album by the San Francisco band Gamma, appropriately entitled Gamma 3. Yes, they’re decidedly disparate artists, but they’ve each got their fans, so let’s take a quick look at both efforts, just so you know what they are and if they might be something you’d find interesting.

Chaka Khan, The Studio Album Collection: 1978-1992 – Actually, this is a bit of a needs-no-introduction situation, given Chaka Khan’s success over the years, but in case you can’t readily reel off her discography, the least we can do is tell you which of the R&B diva’s albums are included in this set. First up, there’s 1978’s Chaka (“I’m Every Woman”), followed by 1980’s Naughty (“Clouds”), 1981’s What Cha’ Gonna Do for Me, her self-titled 1982 album (“Got to Be There”), 1984’s I Feel for You, 1986’s Destiny (“Love of a Lifetime”) 1988’s CK (“It’s My Party”), and 1992’s The Woman I Am (“Love You All My Lifetime”). Also included in the set is 1982’s Echoes of an Era, a collection of covers of jazz standards which is technically credited equally to Ms. Khan as well as Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White, who collectively called themselves Echoes of an Era for the project.

Gamma, Gamma 3: Within the Wikipedia entry for Gamma’s second album – and, yes, of course it was called Gamma 2 – there’s a line which somewhat snarkily notes that “on this album (guitarist) Ronnie Montrose keeps his streak of not having the same personnel on two albums in a row, changing the line-up once again.” You can’t say the same of Gamma 3, with the band keeping four of its five members intact, but the name of that one new member may inspire eyebrow-raising in some of you: filling the role of keyboardist for Gamma was a young up-and-comer named Mitchell Froom. Still quite some years away from working with Crowded House, Froom co-wrote all nine of the album’s tracks, including the not-exactly-a-hit single, “Right the First Time,” and while we wouldn’t necessarily expect fans of Froom’s work with the Finn brothers, Suzanne Vega, and so forth to readily embrace Gamma 3, there’s some very catchy AOR material here that’s worth checking out if you’re into that sort of thing.