Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Minute Music Gift Guide: Pink Floyd, Stones, REO Speedwagon

The following are some Christmas gift suggestions for the classic rock music fan on your gift list. Most of them can be found at brick and mortar Target, Walmart and Best Buy stores.

This past fall, Pink Floyd was subject to a back catalog reissue program from Capitol/EMI Music. You can read about the lavish "immersion" and "discovery" multi-disc box sets elsewhere on my blog.

The legendary British band's 1973 opus The Dark Side Of The Moon sounds brighter than past reissues ("Money" is a prime example) on the 2CD "experience" edition, which pairs the original 1973 album remastered on disc one and a previously unreleased performance of it from the following year at The Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England. The live set finds the musicians in top form, expanding the album's running time by more than 10 minutes with added flourishes.

Housed in a outdoor carboard sleeve on shiny black stock (it is succeptible to fingerprints), the  
Digipak unfolds to display the iconic prism by Storm Thorgerson and sound waves images over three panels. The booklet includes archival concert photos of the band, more prism images, full lyrics and credits. 

On 1975's Wish You Were Here, the 2CD "experience" edition, in addition to the stellar remastered original album - where the title track still can induce goosebumps, disc two has 50 minutes more from that '74 gig.

Here, the live material comprises "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and rarities "Raving and Drooling" and "You've Got to Be Crazy" (later reworked for the Animals LP).

Additionally, there's an alternate version of the Roy Harper-sung "Have a Cigar" and hard-to-find recording of "Wish You Were Here" featuring celebrated jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli.

Also housed in a outdoor carboard sleeve on shiny black and white stock, the "diving person" image is spread over three panels. The new 20-page booklet designed by Thorgerson includes larger studio recording shots from the initial CD issue, full lyrics and credits.  

Pink Floyd's 1979 concept album The Wall was included in the catalog remaster series too, but no extras (see below).

Listening to it on headphones, I suddenly noticed audio verite and other dialogue snippets that eluded me before. The three panel gatefold has three large animated characters from the film, while the booklet includes the lyrics in fanciful handwritten script (though the credits are shrunk so tiny you need a magnifying glass to read 'em) and full credits.

Come February 27, The Wall will receive the multi-disc, deluxe "immersion" and "experience" treatment. 

Everyone always blathers on about how The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street is such a classic. The double LP does have many strong tunes, but also a lot of material that should've been relegated to B-side status or left in the studio vaults. Last year's deluxe reissue exemplified that point. 

I've always been more partial to 1978's Some Girls (Universal Republic/UMG), which is strong from top to bottom. The new 2CD deluxe edition sounds superb, especially Charlie Watts' snapping drums and Bill Wyman's funky bass on "Miss You" and Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood's chunky guitars on the rocker "Whip the Whip Comes Down."

Like Exile, the bonus tracks on Disc Two are almost worth the purchase price alone. In fact, they could work as a good standalone album.

Once again, producer Don Was oversaw the outtakes  sessions - where the band made minor musical tweaks and added vocals on the demos where needed. 

The rollicking “Claudine” (long known by bootleggers) is a real barnburner and "So Young" is a dirty counterpoint to "Some Girls."

Richards does a sad cover of Waylon Jennings' "We Had It All," while Mick Jagger handles Hank Williams' "You Win Again," enlivened by Ian Stewart's piano work. They provide a good countryish reflection to "Faraway Eyes" on the main album. 

photo by Helmut Newton/courtesy UMG
Elsewhere, John Fogerty guests on - of all things - handclaps during a fun version of Freddy Cannon's "Tallahassee Lassie" (done during the recent Was sessions), the much discussed "No Spare Parts" is a highlight  and Jagger caps everything off alone on piano for "Petrol Blues." 

The booklet doesn't have lyrics, but features several previously unseen Helmut Newton shots from a '78 photo session (see one at left) and expanded artwork of the female hair/lingerie catalog on the cover.

After you open the Digipak, there are four panels of artwork in different colors. "Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams: Punk Rock, Disco, New York City and the Trimuph of the Rolling Stones' Some Girls," an essay by Rolling Stone magazine's Anthony DeCurtis, nicely puts the recording and era into perspective.

Among the extras on the super deluxe edition: of a bonus DVD of music videos, preview of the new live DVD "Some Girls: Live in Texas '78," a hardcover book, 7” single of Beast Of Burden/When The Whip Comes Down in its banned sleeve, poster, postcards and more. 
Back in 1981, REO Speedwagon ruled the pop and rock charts with its 11th album, the multi-platinum Hi Infidelity, plus hit singles “Keep on Loving You,” “Take It On the Run” (both hit the top 10), “Don’t Let Him Go,” “Tough Guys” and “Out of Season.”  

To mark the 30th anniversary, Sony Legacy/Epic put out a new 2CD edition over the summer. Diehard enthusiasts (I was a member of the fan club at age 12) will definitely want this version. Why? The previously unreleased "Crystal Demos" of nine of the album’s 10 songs (except "Out of Season"). 

Named after Hollywood's Crystal Studios, where they were recorded in 1980, the tapes had been missing for 28 years until amazingly being rediscovered in the band's manager's garage in an old box marked '1976 photos.'

Far from rough versions, as singer Kevin Cronin says in the detailed liner notes: "half the performances on the final version of Hi Infidelity are from [these demos] and the other half were overdubs we added to those." You really get a glimpse of what was later added to the tunes, whether it is missing background vocals, verse, guitar solo, etc. 

The CD booklet is filled with archival photos (band and memorabilia), lyrics, full credits and background from Cronin and former guitarist Gary Richrath. 

No comments: