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Jazz - Released September 18, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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In the 60 years since John Coltrane's Giant Steps was released, the album has (justifiably) taken its place in the pantheon of classic albums. However, upon its release in early 1960, it was just the Atlantic Records debut of a hotshot saxophonist who had made a name for himself with Miles and Monk and recorded a few albums as a leader (and countless albums as a sideman) on Prestige. He was widely recognized as a technical talent, capable of dazzling and dizzying solos, but his compositional skills had only been showcased properly on one album: the (less justifiably) classic Blue Train, which was released in 1958 and was more clearly related to the hard bop of the day. Now, with a multi-year contract with Atlantic in hand, Coltrane was able to focus his label debut on his own material, positioning himself as a mature, confident, and singular artist, rather than as a gunslinger-for-hire. Everything on Giant Steps is a Coltrane composition, with a deep focus on harmony, phrasing, and melody. The album is intensely inventive from a structural standpoint—it's here that the "Giant Steps" chord progression (a.k.a. "the Coltrane Changes") makes its debut, as does the soon-to-be Coltrane standard "Naima," the themes of which would make their way into some of his most experimental and free-flowing future concerts. There's also plenty of blues ("Cousin Mary"), bouncing blasts of joyful lightness ("Syeeda's Song Flute"), and improvisational pyrotechnics ("Mr. P.C."), and the album swings so hard and is so emotionally evocative, it's easy for a listener to overlook just how epochal it was. This is the album that—along with Kind of Blue a year earlier—effectively closed the door on bebop. Coltrane's compositional approach here opened the door to his probing, analytical take on spiritual improvisation over the next few years. Of course, thanks to the luxury of having two days in the studio—far longer than a typical blowing session—he was able to get it right, resulting in a perfect album ... as well as several reels of outtakes. A raft of those appear on this 60th anniversary "Super Deluxe” edition—eight alternate takes and 20 additional outtakes (many of which are previously unreleased) flesh out this collection. Few of them provide much insight or improvement on the album versions and the inclusion of an alternate take of the Coltrane Jazz track "Like Sonny" (recorded contemporaneously with "Naima" on a different date than the rest of Giant Steps) is a bit of a stretch. This latest remastering, while spacious and alive, doesn't improve substantially upon Bill Inglot's 1998 remaster; in fact, one could argue that the 2014 mono remaster is an even more rewarding listening experience. But having a few "definitive" versions of a classic album—one that has been continuously in print and remastered/reissued/updated several times since its original release—is not a bad problem to have. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Rock - Released September 18, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released September 4, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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History will undoubtedly enshrine this disc as a watershed the likes of which may never truly be appreciated. Giant Steps bore the double-edged sword of furthering the cause of the music as well as delivering it to an increasingly mainstream audience. Although this was John Coltrane's debut for Atlantic, he was concurrently performing and recording with Miles Davis. Within the space of less than three weeks, Coltrane would complete his work with Davis and company on another genre-defining disc, Kind of Blue, before commencing his efforts on this one. Coltrane (tenor sax) is flanked by essentially two different trios. Recording commenced in early May of 1959 with a pair of sessions that featured Tommy Flanagan (piano) and Art Taylor (drums), as well as Paul Chambers -- who was the only bandmember other than Coltrane to have performed on every date. When recording resumed in December of that year, Wynton Kelly (piano) and Jimmy Cobb (drums) were instated -- replicating the lineup featured on Kind of Blue, sans Miles Davis of course. At the heart of these recordings, however, is the laser-beam focus of Coltrane's tenor solos. All seven pieces issued on the original Giant Steps are likewise Coltrane compositions. He was, in essence, beginning to rewrite the jazz canon with material that would be centered on solos -- the 180-degree antithesis of the art form up to that point. These arrangements would create a place for the solo to become infinitely more compelling. This would culminate in a frenetic performance style that noted jazz journalist Ira Gitler accurately dubbed "sheets of sound." Coltrane's polytonal torrents extricate the amicable and otherwise cordial solos that had begun decaying the very exigency of the genre -- turning it into the equivalent of easy listening. He wastes no time as the disc's title track immediately indicates a progression from which there would be no looking back. Line upon line of highly cerebral improvisation snake between the melody and solos, practically fusing the two. The resolute intensity of "Countdown" does more to modernize jazz in 141 seconds than many artists do in their entire careers. Tellingly, the contrasting and ultimately pastoral "Naima" was the last tune to be recorded, and is the only track on the original long-player to feature the Kind of Blue quartet. What is lost in tempo is more than recouped in intrinsic melodic beauty. Both Giant Steps [Deluxe Edition] and the seven-disc Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings offer more comprehensive presentations of these sessions. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Soul - Released September 4, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Rock - Released August 28, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released August 21, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released August 6, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Rock - Released July 30, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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R&B - Released April 3, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Soul - Released April 3, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Soul - Released March 20, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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R&B - Released March 17, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 18, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Stone Temple Pilots had hits with Core, but they got no respect. They suffered a barrage of savage criticism and it must have hurt, since their second effort seems a conscious effort to distinguish themselves as a band not indebted to grunge. That didn't get them anywhere, as they were attacked as viciously as before, but Purple is nevertheless a quantum leap over their debut, showcasing a band hitting its stride. They still aren't much for consistency, and there's more than a fair share of filler over this album's "12 Gracious Melodies." Still, this filler isn't cut-rate grunge, as it was on the debut; it has its own character, heavily melodic and slightly psychedelic. That's a fair assessment of the hits, as well, but there's a difference there -- namely, expert song and studiocraft. Yes, they were considerably more mainstream than their peers, but time has proven that that's their primary charm, since they were unafraid to temper their grunge with big arena hooks and swirling melodies. It works particularly well on the tight, concise "Vasoline" and the acoustic-based "Pretty Penny," but it really shines on the record's two masterpieces, "Big Empty" and "Interstate Love Song." "Big Empty" is ominous and foreboding, yet remains anthemic, a perfect encapsulation of mainstream alienation that is surpassed only by "Interstate Love Song," a concise epic as alluring as the open highway. These two songs are so good (really, mainstream hard rock didn't get better than these two cuts) that the unevenness of the rest of the record is all the more frustrating, but the filler here is better than before -- and those singles are proof positive that STP was the best straight-ahead rock singles outfit of their time. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Hard Rock - Released July 19, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Rock - Released June 28, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Woodstock: Back to the Garden (50th Anniversary Experience) rises above its predecessors. A considerable expansion of Rhino's 2009 six-CD set Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm, 50th Anniversary Experience is also a distillation of the gargantuan Woodstock: Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive, a box that re-creates the entire three-day festival over the course of 38 CDs (all that's missing are two Jimi Hendrix tunes his estate chose not to license, along with some Sha Na Na that never was taped). While the 38-CD set is an immersive, transportive experience, it's also by definition a box set that appeals only to archivist, scholars and fanatics-the kind of listeners who don't think twice at digging through a weekend's worth of music and stage announcements. This ten-disc set, however, is a great choice for listeners who want to get a feel for the entire sprawling festival without devoting more than a day of their life to listening to Woodstock. 50th Anniversary Experience draws from the same mixes producer Andy Zax and sound producer Brian Kehew assembled for the 38-disc box, mixes that differ from the 2009 box. Like the 2009 set, this 2019 box follows the same chronological order, opening with Richie Havens and closing with Hendrix. Zax's decision not to sweeten or fix the original tapes doesn't mean the set sounds rocky. On the contrary, the sound is vivid and alive, lending a kinetic kick to both rock bands and folk singers, yet it still sounds like a document of a specific time and place. Its documentary elements are the most attractive element of 50th Anniversary Experience, even in this truncated form, the festival unspools at the pace it did in August 1969, touching upon every artist on the bill and filling in narrative details with stage patter. Ten Years After and the Band chose not to participate in the 2009 set, nor was the Keef Hartley Band present, but all three are included here among the fifty-plus tracks making their official debut on this box. While there are gems to be heard among these rarities -- gems coming from both cult figures like Bert Sommer and heavy hitters like Janis Joplin and the Who -- the appeal of 50th Anniversary Experience lies in its cumulative impact. Listening to the set gain momentum as it turns from hippie folk to over-amplified psychedelia and rock & roll, with its pace sometimes slowed by the rantings of John Morris and Chip Monk, seems as ungainly and wooly as attending a three-day musical festival. It also has the side effect of puncturing some long-held myths cultivated by both Michael Wadleigh's 1970 film and decades of chatter. For instance, both the Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival sets are much better than their reputation suggests, while the whole weekend sounds exploratory and adventurous in a way that years of nostalgia have obscured. It's that latter revelation that makes Woodstock: Back to the Garden (50th Anniversary Experience) worthwhile even for the skeptics: the comprehensive nature changes our perception of an event we all thought we already knew. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 28, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Back to Yasgur's Farm (Bethel, NY) on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the gargantuan "Woodstock" that brought together no fewer half a million young people under thirty years, open fields. Apart from some gems coming from both cult figures like Bert Sommer, the appeal of these three days (apocalyptic time regarding the residence conditions) lay in its cumulative impact turning from hippie folk to over amplified psychedelia and rock & roll. This selection comprising 8 discs, entitled 0th Anniversary Experience Day 1, presents nearly the whole progamm of the first day. This overview allows you to get a feel for this historic meeting which became the emblem and last burst of the hippie movement. The order of the tracks follows the chronology of this Friday August 15, 1969, opening with Richie Havens and his famous improvised and so inspired song Freedom and closing with Joan Baez. Even in this truncated form, the festival appears in all its stage patter and rhythm sometimes slowed by the rantings of John Morris. The producer Andy Zax says he, sound producer Brian Kehew and mastering engineer Dave Schultz avoided interfering with the tapes as much as possible in order to preserve their authenticity. " We've gotta find a way to fix this. It's this: you can't fix them... That's less grim than it seems, because once you've accepted the idea that there is no way to make these recordings sound slick, you realize that these tapes are the sonic equivalent of heirloom tomatoes – slightly imperfect, but delicious." © Qobuz   
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 7, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 7, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic