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This Christmas

Kinga Głyk

Musiques de Noël - Released November 12, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay

Otis Redding

Soul - Released November 12, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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If I Could Only Remember My Name

David Crosby

Country - Released October 15, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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David Crosby's debut solo album was the second release in a trilogy of albums (the others being Paul Kantner's Blows Against the Empire and Mickey Hart's Rolling Thunder) involving the indefinite aggregation of Bay Area friends and musical peers that informally christened itself the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra. Everyone from the members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane to Crosby's mates in CSNY, Neil Young and Graham Nash, dropped by the studio to make significant contributions to the proceedings. (Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzman, primarily, act as the ad hoc studio band, with other notables adding bits of flavor to other individual tracks.) Crosby, however, is the obvious captain of this ship. With his ringing, velvety voice -- the epitome of hippie crooning -- and inspired songwriting, he turns If I Could Only Remember My Name into a one-shot wonder of dreamy but ominous California ambience. The songs range from brief snapshots of inspiration (the angelic chorale-vocal showcase on "Orleans" and the a cappella closer, "I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here") to the full-blown, rambling Western epic "Cowboy Movie," and there are absolutely no false notes struck or missteps taken. No one before or since has gotten as much mileage out of a wordless vocal as Crosby does on "Tamalpais High (At About 3)" and "Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves)," and because the music is so relaxed, each song turns into its own panoramic vista. Those who don't go for trippy Aquarian sentiment, however, may be slightly put off by the obscure, cosmic storytelling of the gorgeous "Laughing" or the ambiguous (but pointed) social questioning of "What Are Their Names," but in actuality it is an incredibly focused album. There is little or no fat despite the general looseness of the undertaking, while a countercultural intensity runs taut through the entire album, and ultimately there is no denying the excellence of the melodies and the messy beauty of the languid, loping instrumental backing. Even when a song as pretty as "Traction in the Rain" shimmers with its picked guitars and autoharp, the album is coated in a distinct, persistent menace that is impossible to shake. It is a shame that Crosby would continue to descend throughout the remainder of the decade and the beginning of the next into aimless drug addiction, and that he would not issue another solo album until 18 years later. As it is, If I Could Only Remember My Name is a shambolic masterpiece, meandering but transcendently so, full of frayed threads. Not only is it among the finest splinter albums out of the CSNY diaspora, it is one of the defining moments of hung-over spirituality from the era. © Stanton Swihart /TiVo
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Hard to Handle

Otis Redding

Soul - Released October 8, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Coast Road

David Crosby

Country - Released October 1, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Laughing (Demo)

David Crosby

Country - Released September 17, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Tramp

Otis Redding

Soul - Released September 9, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Satellite

P.O.D.

Rock - Released September 3, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Riff 1 (Demo)

David Crosby

Country - Released September 2, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Boom (The Crystal Method Remix)

P.O.D.

Rock - Released August 27, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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ARETHA

Aretha Franklin

Soul - Released July 16, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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It's not for nothing that this is the second four-disc box set devoted to Aretha Franklin's career. 1992's Queen of Soul collected 86 tracks (5 of which were non-album), culled solely from her world-beating era on Atlantic (1967-1976). There have also been multi-disc sets dedicated to her Columbia era and even her unreleased Atlantic material, as well as several compilations of her '80s and '90s hits on Arista. Aretha Franklin is not an artist whose career is lacking for retrospection. So what can yet another four-disc box set—released in this era of streaming—offer that previous compilations haven't? Well, for one, it is notable that ARETHA is the first set to include work from all of the labels she recorded for (including her first single from JVB Records). Among its 81 tracks are 19 previously unreleased ones as well as nearly 10 more non-album tracks. The body of work the set is representing is exceptional, however it's also understandable that one may be hoping for a somewhat more innovative approach to the sequencing beyond just a chronological presentation. In this current age of streaming and playlists, such a sequence—especially one covering five decades of material—seems antiquated. Why not group iconic tracks here, unreleased tracks there, lost deep cuts over there, and maybe duets right here? One could make a case for jamming "Rock Steady" up against "Freeway of Love" or "A Rose is still a Rose" alongside "Ain't No Way" or even a vault track like the alternate mix of "Spanish Harlem," in a sort of "belters" and "ballads" organization that could give some of her lesser-known moments of greatness the spotlight they deserve. Instead, the only real narrative this set delivers is "she started here, went to this place next, and then ended up over there." Which is ... sufficient. With a talent as immense as Franklin's—and an artistic biography that's so well-known—retelling her story in that way is something of a disservice. Especially when, even at her various commercial low points, she was still producing work that was, at the very least, interesting. As harder funk and, later, disco began to dominate the R&B airwaves in the mid-to-late '70s, Franklin struggled to maintain a conversation with contemporary audiences and tried everything from adult contemporary balladry to horn-drenched dance tracks; cuts like "You," "Almighty Fire (Woman of the Future)," and the eternally underrated "Mr. D.J. (5 For The D.J.)" are fantastic ambassadors for this oddly effortful period in Franklin's career. All of it—more than a dozen songs—is tucked into the third disc of material. This real estate is typically the purgatory of a chronological box set, falling after the formative early years and the subsequent era of chart domination, but before the obligatory inclusion of new work the artist insists is their "best ever." In the case of ARETHA, this section is where the compilers are flexing their curatorial muscles, because they treat this material not as mandatory boxes to tick off, but as an essential part of the story. In fact, a good chunk of the vault material is from this period in time, from the two alternate takes and non-LP single track representing Franklin's 1973 Quincy Jones collaboration, Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), to the demos and work tape versions that are here in lieu of album versions from Let Me In Your Life (1974). Released versions are here too, and hearing the Lamont Dozier-produced "Break it to Me Gently" (from 1977's Sweet Passion), the lush disco of "Ladies Only" (La Diva, 1979) and the richly textured melodrama of "Without Love" from With Everything I Feel in Me (1974) outside of their respective original less-than-successful albums context, it's abundantly clear that even though Franklin may have had trouble connecting with the charts, she never lost sight of what made for a good song or a superlative vocal performance. Even in the later years, post-1985's "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves," she may have been recording less frequently, but whether she was duetting with Lou Rawls on "At Last" in 2003, covering Adele in 2014, making an intensely emotional take on Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free" her own for the 1992 soundtrack to Spike Lee's Malcolm X, or burning down the 1998 Grammys when she filled in for a sick Luciano Pavarotti to sing "Nessun Dorma," she was still Aretha Franklin. Hell, this woman sang "You Light Up My Life" (the 1978 studio version here is previously unreleased), perhaps one of the treacliest songs ever written, and made it sound like the blues. So while ARETHA may not rewrite the narrative of her career, it does an excellent job of presenting a fuller perspective on it. After all, with a talent like Franklin's, the music speaks for itself. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Tiny Music... Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop (Super Deluxe Edition)

Stone Temple Pilots

Alternatif et Indé - Released March 26, 1996 | Rhino Atlantic

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Ridiculous (Demo)

P.O.D.

Rock - Released July 23, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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I'd Fly

Diane Schuur

Jazz - Released July 16, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Tumble In The Rough (Live At Club la Vela, Panama City Beach, FL, 3/14/1997)

Stone Temple Pilots

Alternatif et Indé - Released July 9, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Quiet Fire

Roberta Flack

Soul - Released June 25, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Quiet Fire proves to be an apt title, as Flack's MOR-informed jazz and gospel vocals simmer just below the surface on the eight sides here. Forgoing the full-throttled delivery of, say, Aretha Franklin, Flack translates the pathos of gospel expression into measured intensity and sighing, elongated phrases. There's even a bit of Carole King's ashen tone in Flack's voice, as manifested on songs like "Let Them Talk," Van McCoy's "Sweet Bitter Love," and a meditative reworking of King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." The album's other high-profile cover, "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," features the ideal setting for Flack's airy pipes with a tasteful backdrop of strings and a chorus featuring soul songstress Cissy Houston (Whitney's mom). Switching from this hushed sanctity, Flack digs into some groove-heavy southern soul on "Go Up Moses," "Sunday and Sister Jones," and an amazing version of the Bee Gees hit "To Love Somebody" (this perennial number has been done by everyone from Rita Marley to Hank Williams, Jr.). Flack finally completes the modern triumvirate of southern music, adding the country tones of Jimmy Webb's "See You Then" to the Quiet Fire's stock of gospel and soul. And thanks to top players like guitarist Hugh McCracken, organist Richard Tee, bassist Chuck Rainey, and drummer Bernard Purdie, the varied mix all comes off sounding seamless. One of Flack's best. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Chapter Two (50th Anniversary Edition)

Roberta Flack

Soul - Released June 25, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Coming as it did on the heels of Roberta Flack's groundbreaking First Take debut, and devoid of any iconic tracks like that set's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," Chapter Two has long suffered from an undeserved lack of attention that's made it seem like something of a sophomore slump in this legendary singer's catalog. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chapter Two is one of the rawest and most effective demonstrations of Flack's incomparable voice and her equally impressive taste in material and presentation. Opening with the defiantly and intensely sensual "Reverend Lee"—in which Flack deftly threads the needle between sacred and profane—Chapter Two immediately seeks to stake a claim beyond the more genteel and cosmopolitan approach of its predecessor. If First Take was a soulful take on jazz vocals, Chapter Two sets out to explore the bluesier side of that style. Although it exists in a similarly lush milieu, with plenty of horn and string arrangements, Chapter Two is simultaneously more restrained and understated, with a sense of spacious atmospherics and liminal implications; both Flack's voice and the accompanying instrumentation seem as attuned to the sound between the notes as they are to the expertly crafted harmonies and melodies in the foreground. Perhaps this is due to the upgrade in collaborators; those arrangements were all handled by William S. Fischer on First Take, but on Chapter Two, a team of four arrangers is on hand, with Eumir Deodato handling strings and horns, while Donny Hathaway (who also contributes piano) and co-producers King Curtis and Joel Dorn oversee the whole affair. Even the most robustly constructed songs—a slow-galloping take on Jimmy Webb's "Do What You Gotta Do," an appropriately melodramatic version of "The Impossible Dream," a gut-wrenchingly climatic interpretation of the Impressions' "Gone Away"—have an almost ephemeral quality as the production manages to not so much "put you in the room with the performance" as it amplifies the ethereal collision of sophistication and soulfulness that gives these songs so much life. This warmly remastered 50th Anniversary Edition tacks on just one bonus track, but it's a doozy: an incredible version of Joni Mitchell's rejected theme for Midnight Cowboy, a song which is otherwise unreleased except for a version that Flack produced for soul singer Donal Leace's 1972 Atlantic album. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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The Drifters' Golden Hits

The Drifters

Pop - Released June 25, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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You Light Up My Life

Aretha Franklin

Soul - Released June 23, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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Mingus At Carnegie Hall (Deluxe Edition) [2021 Remaster]

Charles Mingus

Jazz - Released January 1, 1974 | Rhino Atlantic

Fascinating snapshots of musical evolution, live jazz albums capture improvisation as it happens. Famed as a "battle of the saxes," this set by the inimitable composer/bassist/bandleader Charles Mingus and his working sextet was originally released as a single disc, containing only the two long jams on the Duke Ellington standards, "Perdido" and "C Jam Blues" that closed the show. The reasons why the opening four tracks of that January 19, 1974 concert—"Peggy's Blue Skylight," "Celia" "Fables of Faubus" and "Big Alice"—were left unreleased until now remain unknown. Most likely it was the fear that a double LP would never sell. (But one with a pair of 20-minute tracks would?) The four songs (and spoken introduction) that were the first half of the concert have now been restored and are a welcome addition to the Mingus canon. Always a magnet for great talent because of his prolific composing and expansive artistic vision, the bassist here leads his spry working sextet of Don Pullen (piano), George Adams (tenor saxophone), Jon Faddis (trumpet), Hamiet Bluiett (baritone saxophone) and Dannie Richmond (drums). Those robust instrumental voices are reinforced in the two Ellington numbers by Charles McPherson (alto saxophone), John Handy (alto & tenor saxophone) and the ever-amazing Rahsaan Roland Kirk (on tenor saxophone and a straight alto sax he called stritch). Despite the age of the original tapes, the ringing, uncomplicated sound here makes Carnegie Hall's famous acoustics vividly audible. As live recordings go, the uncredited mix engineer did a fabulous job of balancing all the horns while never allowing Pullen's piano nor Mingus' bass to slide entirely into the background. The new remastering has brought out a brighter, more dynamic sonic image. The Mingus compositions heard in the first half are all classic examples of his swing and bebop-influenced devotion to melody counterbalanced by a rhythmic vitality that's unique in jazz. In opener "Peggy's Blue Skylight," each member glides through their solos with great elan. In "Celia" a tune named for the bassist's wife at the time, cacophony unravels into bravura passages with an expansive big band feel. Pianist Pullen is the star of "Fables of Faubus." Closing what was the original first set, Pullen's "Big Alice" is a funky, joyous, almost Second Line romp with Adams, Bluiett and Faddis all chipping in raucous solos. The much-ballyhooed sax fray on the pair of Ellington standards is a Fourth of July explosion of horn madness, playful and serious, squonking and legato, highlighted again by marvelous energetic solos by Kirk that at one point sound like an oncoming locomotive. Still not as essential as many of his studio albums, the story of this concert is now at least rightly told from the beginning instead of the end. © Robert Baird/Qobuz