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The Grind Date

De La Soul

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 5, 2004 | Castle Communications

De La Soul were interrupted just before they could deliver the third volume in their AOI series -- projected to be a DJ album -- to Tommy Boy. (The label perhaps bailed out from a 15-year relationship precisely because the group was going to release such a commercially bankrupt title, one that was planned instead to appear on an independent label run by Maseo.) De La Soul quickly realized they couldn't go ahead with the plan after signing their AOI label to Sanctuary, so they wrote a new record, The Grind Date. Although it may see them settling into a holding pattern, at least the pattern of 2001's AOI: Bionix is one that any hip-hop fan won't mind hearing repeated. Better yet, it boasts productions from an excellent cast of figures -- partner in crime Supa Dave West, author of the best tracks on their AOI series, J-Dilla, who's stretching out his patented (read: overdone) sound to embrace classic hip-hop, an only slightly commercialized Madlib, and young phenom 9th Wonder. Madlib gets what must be the first lead single of his career, a bright, antimaterialist tale called "Shopping Bags (She Got From You)" that thumps like a club tune, but lurches as only the Beat Conductor could do it. "Verbal Clap" finds J-Dilla allowing some grit into his productions, and Supa Dave only continues floating the most fluidly catchy productions of any rap producer in action. Meanwhile, De La Soul voices Posdnuos and Dave balance their time breezing easy on bumping message tracks with a few old-school shots that show them a bit defensive about the passing of time. (Check out "Come On Down," a Madlib-produced shot with Flava Flav, or "Days of Our Lives" featuring Common.) Without a concept to tout, The Grind Date doesn't gel like AOI: Bionix, but it does show De La Soul keeping everything together more than 15 years after their debut. After all, you certainly wouldn't see MF Doom guesting on a Tone-Loc record. © John Bush /TiVo
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Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo

Status Quo

Rock - Released August 1, 1968 | Castle Communications

Status Quo's debut album featured none of the band's better-known boogie rock of the mid-'70s. Picturesque... is a psychedelic effort that tries to imitate the sound bands like the Bee Gees or the Beatles were doing at the moment. With this record, Status Quo surprisingly had its first (and last) hit in America, the single "Pictures of Matchstick Men," which peaked at number 12 (it reached number seven on the British charts). Other highlights from the album are the second single, "Ice in the Sun," and the Bee Gees cover "Spicks and Specks." Even if this is not the most representative album from Status Quo, it is a good psychedelic pop exercise that sometimes includes very imaginative guitar phrases ("Ice in the Sun"), and some brilliantly unusual sounds (the epic "Paradise Flat"). © Robert Aniento /TiVo
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Roadrunner: The Beserkley Collection

Jonathan Richman

Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Castle Communications

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Perverted By Language

The Fall

Rock - Released December 1, 1983 | Castle Communications

Punk may have been the initial spark for the Fall, but by 1983 they had made it clear that whatever trend was next was not for them. Brix Smith made her debut with the band on Perverted by Language, helping to introduce the slightly more pop-friendly era of the group with another fine album. She takes lead vocals at various points throughout, notably "Hotel Bloedel," while her husband plays violin and adds extra spoken word thoughts along the way. The hints of strange beauty that the Fall can sometimes let into its world appear here more than once -- whether it's Brix's influence or not isn't clear, and why not? "Garden" still hits hard while using a softer chime at its heart, while "Hexen Definitive" is almost a country (and western) stroll. Even for all the slightly more accessible touches for a wider audience, the Fall remain the Fall. "Smile" shows the band's abilities at tense audio drama excellently, a relentless, steady build with the Steve and Paul Hanley and Karl Burns rhythm section leading the way, winding up to a total explosion that never comes. Smith's increasingly frenetic vocals match the looming dread of the track to a T. "Neighbourhood of Infinity," notable for its appearance on Palace of Swords Reversed, crops up here in a studio take, again a sequel of sorts to "The Man Whose Head Expanded." Musically it hits its own stride, another of the many motorik-tinged tunes that helped give the Fall its own particular edge ("I Feel Voxish" also fills that bill, and quite well at that). "Eat Y'Self Fitter," touching on everything from meeting heroes (maybe) to returning late rental videos, makes for a great start to things, an endlessly cycling rockabilly chug with extra keyboard oddities and sudden music-less exchanges for the chorus. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Singles Collection 66-73

Status Quo

Rock - Released January 1, 1985 | Castle Communications

Like the dog that titled Status Quo's fourth album, The Singles Collection 1966-1973 is very much a beast of two heads, the first (representing the band's output between 1966 and 1969) shifting its gaze between Kinks-ish beat and British psych and the second (wrapping up the band's releases and re-releases at the end of that span) sinking its teeth into the unapologetic boogie blues that have remained the band's stock in trade ever since. It's a misleading mélange, at least in terms of chronology. The Quo cut four albums for the Pye label, before departing in 1972 for Vertigo and fame -- the last in that sequence, Dog of Two Heads, was released in December 1971. However, the moment "Paper Plane" gave the transplanted band a major hit in early 1973, Pye began digging into the vaults and the last six tracks on The Singles Collection represent the fruits of those labors. In terms of the band's own discography and development, they are meaningless. Nevertheless, the first complete roundup of all ten original Pye 45s (and B-sides) remains an essential compilation, both for Quo fans in general and for students of British psychedelia as it squirmed, post-1967, in search of new directions. The Quo eventually found theirs in the aforementioned boogie but, before that, the Bee Gees-esque ballad "Are You Growing Tired of My Life" and a rocking "Price of Love" both offered possible new avenues, and one cannot help but wonder where the band might have gone next, had "Down the Dustpipe" and "In My Chair" not struck gold during 1970-1971. While disc one is the A-Z of Quo's early work, disc two offers a more patchwork approach to the same period, first unearthing the four 45s the band cut under earlier identities the Spectres and Traffic Jam, then delving into 15 outtakes and alternate versions from across the board. Interestingly, the Bee Gees raise their head once again, via a Spectres-era cover of their own "Spicks and Specks," although previously unreleased renditions of other material is of little more than space-filling value. Nevertheless, The Singles Collection brings together a wealth of material that has long demanded such methodical treatment and, allied with the bonus track-stacked reissues of the four regular albums, rounds up Status Quo's Pye era output with becoming efficiency. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Heydays

Tim Hart

Pop - Released October 28, 2003 | Castle Communications

British folk icons Tim Hart and Maddy Prior recorded two albums of traditional music together before joining the seminal folk-rock band Steeleye Span. In 1967 the duo released Folk Songs of Olde England, Vol. 1 on the small but influential Tepee Records label. Recorded in mono, the album featured minimal arrangements of obscure songs from the yet to be plundered Cecil Sharp and English Folk Dance & Song Society libraries -- the source of many of the burgeoning scene's most famous recordings -- and showcased the pair's impeccable vocal skills. Folk Songs of Olde England, Vol.2 followed in 1969 -- this time in stereo -- and introduced the first rendering of John Connolly's "Fiddler's Green" as well as "Copshawholme Fair," which appeared on Steeleye Span's debut, Hark! The Village Wait. During the recording of the group's second record, Please to See the King, Prior and Hart finished their third and finest LP, Summer Solstice. Featuring 13 songs and boasting arrangements by Robert Kirby, the record is considered by many to be one of the most important folk releases of the decade. Castle's Heydays anthology collects all three of these landmark albums -- the first two have been long out of print -- on a two-disc set with extensive liner notes and interviews with the artists. This is a must for any fan of British folk music. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Anthems In Eden

Various Artists

Folk/Americana - Released August 8, 2013 | Castle Communications

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Easy Livin' - The Singles A's & B's

Uriah Heep

Rock - Released October 24, 2006 | Castle Communications

Longtime fans of venerated progressive rock ensemble Uriah Heep will be rattling cages for this two-disc, 43-track collection of singles from Sanctuary. Hard rocking Heep standards like "Look at Yourself," "Gypsy," "Stealin'," and "The Wizard" (most of which are presented in their 45 rpm versions) are paired with copious amounts of B-sides, resulting in the next step in collector evolution from 1998's Mercury released Classic Heep: An Anthology. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Tempest

Tempest

Rock - Released January 1, 1973 | Castle Communications

4 stars out of 5 -- "Paul Williams attacks the songs like a ravenous troll, eviscerating 'Gorgon' and the superheated shuffle of 'Strangeher' with red-eyed relish." © TiVo
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Living In Fear

Tempest

Rock - Released January 1, 1974 | Castle Communications

4 stars out of 5 -- "1974's LIVING IN FEAR finds the departed Holdsworth and Williams replaced by the glorious maverick Ollie Halsall." © TiVo
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The Lansdowne Tapes

Uriah Heep

Rock - Released July 26, 1994 | Castle Communications

The expansive playlist of The Lansdowne Tapes gathers early recordings from British prog metal mavens Uriah Heep in various forms from their beginnings in the late '60s and early '70s. Included in the collection's massive 33 tracks are tunes from an early iteration of the band (going under the name Spice) that never quite made it to album release as well as alternate versions of tunes that became Uriah Heep staples, such as "Look at Yourself" and "Real Turned On." © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Live Anthology

The Damned

Rock - Released October 22, 2001 | Castle Communications

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Days At Dawn

David McWilliams

Rock - Released May 27, 2002 | Castle Communications

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Totally Wired - The Rough Trade Anthology

The Fall

Rock - Released July 15, 2002 | Castle Communications

Arguably the essential period of the Fall was the tenure the legendary Manchester group spent signed to Rough Trade, during which time they produced their most arresting and original work in what is undoubtedly one of the greatest recorded anthologies in the history of British post-punk rock. Essential Records had the genius to compile this low-priced, two-disc set surveying the seminal 1980-1983 period; it serves as an excellent starting point for newcomers to the group and an essential upgrade for the owners of the group's thrashed LPs and singles. While the Fall continued through two more decades, producing an enormous amount of material, they never topped the vital era that produced these recordings. Every track still sounds as uncompromising as the day it was released, and close to 30 years later, this collection is a startling reminder that alongside the recorded works of Sonic Youth, it's hard to imagine a world without the Fall. In that, it's safe to say that this is the holy grail collection of one of the most vital and influential groups of the '80s. © Skip Jansen /TiVo
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Take a Heart

The Sorrows

Rock - Released January 1, 1965 | Castle Communications

A reissue of their mid-'60s album, with eight bonus tracks, including the fine non-LP singles by the original lineup and foreign-language versions of some tunes. One of the best obscure British Invasion records. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Down the Dustpipe

Status Quo

Rock - Released July 23, 2002 | Castle Communications

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On the Rebound: 40th Anniversary Anthology

Uriah Heep

Rock - Released May 17, 2010 | Castle Communications

Sanctuary's On the Rebound features 36 tracks culled from Uriah Heep's five decades together, and includes the album rock hits "Easy Livin," "Sweet Lorraine," "Stealin," and "The Wizard." Casual listeners should pick up Classic Heep: An Anthology, also on Sanctuary, before delving into these recordings. © Al Campbell /TiVo
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The Technicolor Dreams of the Status Quo

Status Quo

Rock - Released February 26, 2001 | Castle Communications

This double-CD set delivers a lot more than its title promises, containing not only all of Status Quo's 1960s vintage recordings -- all of the singles and B-sides, the mono album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From... and the stereo mix of their second album, Spare Parts, plus odd singles and rarities (including a stereo mix of "Pictures of Matchstick Men,") but every side left behind by the pre-Status Quo Spectres and their reincarnation as Traffic Jam. Those sides make for a killer opening to disc one here, encompassing "Hurdy Gurdy Man" (not the Donovan song), "Laticia," "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet," their pre-psychedelic debut, "I (Who Have Nothing)," and their organ-driven rendition of "Walking With My Angel." All of their work serves as a more than suitable prelude to the more familiar Status Quo material, which pretty much encompasses their entire psychedelic output, and fans of freakbeat/psychedelic sounds will find lots to love on this set -- these guys should have been near-gods on the music scene of the period, instead of being limited to the one-off monster hit, based on the evidence at hand, with pop instincts to match the spaciness of some of their musical visions -- even their version of "Green Tambourine" has a sharp edge, particularly in the drumming and bass work, that's worth hearing more than once, and the stereo remix of "Pictures of Matchstick Men" has more credibility and raw power than such reconsiderations usually display. In short, there's a lot on both of these discs to keep even the non-fan busy for a day or more, especially as the sound is superb, absolutely killer on single and album tracks alike. And the annotation (supported with lots of color art) by David Wells is entertaining as well as highly informative. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Time Enough At Last

The Fall

Rock - Released April 8, 2003 | Castle Communications

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Big Fat Oranguman

Jungle Jim

Pop - Released August 8, 2013 | Castle Communications