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Gaucho

Steely Dan

Pop - Released November 21, 1980 | Geffen*

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Aja was cool, relaxed, and controlled; it sounded deceptively easy. Its follow-up, Gaucho, while sonically similar, is its polar opposite: a precise and studied record, where all of the seams show. Gaucho essentially replicates the smooth jazz-pop of Aja, but with none of that record's dark, seductive romance or elegant aura. Instead, it's meticulous and exacting; each performance has been rehearsed so many times that it no longer has any emotional resonance. Furthermore, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's songs are generally labored, only occasionally reaching their past heights, like on the suave "Babylon Sisters," "Time Out of Mind," and "Hey Nineteen." Still, those three songs are barely enough to make the remainder of the album's glossy, meandering fusion worthwhile. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Third Stage

Boston

Rock - Released October 1, 1986 | Geffen*

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After rushing their second album Don't Look Back, Boston took eight years to complete the album Third Stage. The long delay is even more surprising considering that their sound didn't change at all; even though only songwriter/guitarist Tom Scholz and vocalist Brad Delp remained from the original lineup, they were the ones responsible for Boston's sound. As such, it is difficult to avoid comparisons with their landmark debut. Third Stage has some strong moments, especially the number one hit "Amanda" where the band blends acoustic and electric guitars to complement the layered vocals. However, the songs are not as strong as those on their debut, and the album is marred by the presence of instrumental fillers and an attempt to cling to a theme of "journey through life's third stage." Thus, rather than focusing on universal topics such as the exuberance and uncertainties associated with youth, the mature lyrics are lost on most of their young rock audience. Given the time between albums and the changes in the pop landscape, it was a little disappointing to find Boston stuck in the same sound. The album still sounds great when it works on all cylinders ("We're Ready," "Cool the Engines"), but the album is not filled with enough satisfying moments. This may be nostalgic pop rock of the '80s, but casual listeners should start with their debut. © Vik Iyengar /TiVo
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Third Stage

Boston

Rock - Released October 1, 1986 | Geffen*

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After rushing their second album Don't Look Back, Boston took eight years to complete the album Third Stage. The long delay is even more surprising considering that their sound didn't change at all; even though only songwriter/guitarist Tom Scholz and vocalist Brad Delp remained from the original lineup, they were the ones responsible for Boston's sound. As such, it is difficult to avoid comparisons with their landmark debut. Third Stage has some strong moments, especially the number one hit "Amanda" where the band blends acoustic and electric guitars to complement the layered vocals. However, the songs are not as strong as those on their debut, and the album is marred by the presence of instrumental fillers and an attempt to cling to a theme of "journey through life's third stage." Thus, rather than focusing on universal topics such as the exuberance and uncertainties associated with youth, the mature lyrics are lost on most of their young rock audience. Given the time between albums and the changes in the pop landscape, it was a little disappointing to find Boston stuck in the same sound. The album still sounds great when it works on all cylinders ("We're Ready," "Cool the Engines"), but the album is not filled with enough satisfying moments. This may be nostalgic pop rock of the '80s, but casual listeners should start with their debut. © Vik Iyengar /TiVo
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It Serves You Right To Suffer

John Lee Hooker

Blues - Released January 1, 1966 | Geffen*

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Given Hooker's unpredictable timing and piss-poor track record recording with bands, this 1965 one-off session for the jazz label Impulse! would be a recipe for disaster. But with Panama Francis on drums, Milt Hinton on bass, and Barry Galbraith on second guitar, the result is some of the best John Lee Hooker material with a band that you're likely to come across. The other musicians stay in the pocket, never overplaying or trying to get Hooker to make chord changes he has no intention of making. This record should be played for every artist who records with Hooker nowadays, as it's a textbook example of how exactly to back the old master. The most surreal moment occurs when William Wells blows some totally cool trombone on Hooker's version of Berry Gordy's "Money." If you run across this one in a pile of 500 other John Lee Hooker CDs, grab it; it's one of the good ones. © Cub Koda /TiVo
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Jurassic Park - 20th Anniversary

John Williams

Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 2013 | Geffen*

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John Williams' score for what has become the most successful movie of all time is similar to his scores for other popular Steven Spielberg films. He remains firmly in the tradition of the lush, heavily orchestrated score. This is the first horror movie he and Spielberg collaborated on since Jaws, but there is nothing like the threatening theme that helped define that monster movie here. Instead, there is a lot of quiet music, a much more subtle touch, and a wistful theme that runs throughout, although things do come to a boil now and then. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Jurassic Park - 20th Anniversary

John Williams

Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 2013 | Geffen*

John Williams' score for what has become the most successful movie of all time is similar to his scores for other popular Steven Spielberg films. He remains firmly in the tradition of the lush, heavily orchestrated score. This is the first horror movie he and Spielberg collaborated on since Jaws, but there is nothing like the threatening theme that helped define that monster movie here. Instead, there is a lot of quiet music, a much more subtle touch, and a wistful theme that runs throughout, although things do come to a boil now and then. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Coming Down Your Way

Three Dog Night

Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Geffen*

Three Dog Night garnered three hits off of their 1974 release, Hard Labor, with material from John Hiatt, Allen Toussaint, and David Courtney/Leo Sayer. This time around they obtain their 21st and final Top 40 entry with a Dave Loggins song, "'Till the World Ends," and it is no "Pieces of April," the lovely composition from the same songwriter which landed in the Top 20 for the group two-and-a-half-years earlier. The problem with the song is the same dilemma faced by the album, Coming Down Your Way, the band seeking another genre to conquer while keeping their eye off of the precise and major Top 40 activity which was their bread and butter. Keyboard player for the Blues Image, Frank "Skip" Konte, joins Jimmy Greenspoon on the ivories with the Monkees/Barry Manilow bassist Dennis Belfield onboard as well. Their addition makes for a very musical album with Danny Hutton, Cory Wells and Chuck Negron emulating the Band and some kind of pseudo-slickGrateful Dead rather than sticking with the formula which made them so very successful. Jimmy Ienner's production doesn't have the sparkle it did four months earlier on Grand Funk Railroad's "Bad Time," a heavy metal band sounding more like Three Dog Night than Three Dog Night. Tracked at Colorado's famed Caribou Ranch, the disc also fails to come up with something as extraordinary as Elton John's "Island Girl," a song manufactured in the same recording facility and hitting number one two months after " 'Till the World Ends" brought the group's six-and-a-half-year chart run to a close. Jack Lynton's "Coming Down Your Way" is a reflection of Leo Sayer's "The Show Must Go On" and the closest thing to familiar Dog Night as this disc gets. Jeff Barry's "When It's Over" puts it all into perspective, Negron phrasing the lament which states the obvious for the once magnificent radio-friendly pop production machine. A frustrating outing because all involved were certainly proficient enough to come up with something more substantial than these ten performances which play like unfinished outtakes. Associate Producer on this effort, Bob Monaco, would take the remnants of the group down a disco path with the 1976 release, American Pastime, effectively closing the door and pointing the band toward their next phase -- that of an oldies act. © Joe Viglione /TiVo
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The Mark, Tom And Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back!)

blink-182

Rock - Released January 1, 2011 | Geffen*

Power punk funny guys blink-182 capture their witty stage presence on the limited-edition release The Mark, Tom and Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back). Celebrating the quick success of their major-label debut, 1999's Enema of the State, The Mark, Tom and Travis Show showcases playful live cuts and previously unreleased tracks and, in keeping with blink-182's punk revivalism, the album is only available from the time of release and January 2001. The Mark, Tom and Travis Show is indeed a real rock show and catches blink-182's shameless personalities and childlike giggling about oral sex, dog semen, and masturbation. But that's what makes blink-182 popular: the band's ability to not care about anything is a carefree look for the pop kids buying its records. The bandmembers' immaturity is harmless and fans love it. The quick guitar riffs and swirling percussion are intact, and guitarist Tom DeLonge's hyperactive retaliations against the audience are merely an act for the sake of being cool. DeLonge and bassist Mark Hoppus are even funnier with their on-stage brotherly love affair. It's high-speed energy at it's finest, probably the cheekiest punk rock stake since Green Day's "Longview." And in the midst of teen pop mediocrity and post-grunge rollickers, it's good to see a band such as blink-182 enjoying its time on top of the world. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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You Had To Be There: Recorded Live

Jimmy Buffett

Pop - Released January 1, 2011 | Geffen*

Jimmy Buffett's first live set established the treasure chest of gags and grooves that would make the singer impossibly successful over the next 20-plus years. As an easygoing, '70s-sounding Buffett says at the beginning of "Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit," "I've been wanting to do a live album for (a long time) since that's where we have the best time." And he proves to be a gracious, goofy host, straying into rambling tangents of conversation and storytelling that are at least (if not more) entertaining than the music itself. Musically, "Pencil Thin Moustache" becomes amped-up barroom boogie rock, complete with a honking harmonica. The Coral Reefer Band imbues "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" with the creaking charm of a comfortable deck chair; with Buffett's smiling vocal on top, it sounds better than an open bar tab at a Caribbean beach café. Later, Buffett introduces his biggest hit with some prescient banter. "People ask me, 'Where the hell is "Margaritaville"?'" He suggests that the famed, fictional island might be at the bottom of a Cuervo bottle before saying "It's anywhere you want it to be." And with that, Buffett launches into the song that caused a thousand unplanned sick days. While his big hits sound great, low-key acoustic numbers like "God's Own Drunk" and "Captain and the Kid" show off his songwriting and guitar playing while keeping things light with funny asides. Fans of Buffett's show will recognize You Had to be There as a prototype of his later summertime extravaganzas; for everyone, it's simply an entertaining live album from an era when the concert industry wasn't yet contaminated by greed, gold level seating, and rote performances. © Johnny Loftus /TiVo
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Steelheart

Steelheart

Pop - Released January 1, 1991 | Geffen*

Possessing metal pipes like few before him, the leonine Steelheart yelper Michael Matijevic scarred the airwaves forever when he hammered the simply unmatchable chorus of the hairball "I'll Never Let You Go." Ludicrous and sublime, the sound was roughly akin to Whitney Houston hitting the hot spot in "I Will Always Love You." The opening strands of "Everybody Loves Eileen," another track on this debut effort, bring Ratt out of the cellar before the song curls into a pop n' fresh roller coaster ride. The remaining numbers on this ridiculous dish are also overlong examples of excess, but they're not as memorable, paying homage to Whitesnake and other flailing stylistic ventures. "I'll Never Let You Go" is still available on some quality collections and no aficionado of poodle pomp should let that song go; otherwise, leave Steelheart in peace with the music they helped lay to rest. © Doug Stone /TiVo
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My Life II...The Journey Continues (Act 1)

Mary J. Blige

R&B - Released January 1, 2011 | Geffen*

Intro excepted, a devout Mary J. Blige fan could listen to these 70 minutes of music as an untitled album and never think of it as a sequel to 1994's My Life. Technically titled My Life II...The Journey Continues (Act 1) -- yes, it’s the first act of a continuation -- it’s more the successor to Blige’s previous album, Stronger with Each Tear. Blige is in a much different, presumably much better place now than she was when she made the turbulent My Life. That album has one guest who appears during a half-minute interlude; there really isn’t much room for any other voice. My Life II, like Stronger, is more like My Life and Those of Others Who Join Me, as it is it involves a succession of high-profile guests: Nas, Busta Rhymes, Drake, Rick Ross, Beyoncé, Diddy, and Lil Wayne. Those who are hoping for something in the spirit of mid-‘90s Blige might be disappointed and think of the title as a ploy, but those who expect a wide variety of material in terms of style and mood will get precisely that. The first half contains several uplifting, upbeat numbers, including a muscular cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan's “Ain’t Nobody,” where producer Rodney Jerkins seems to have placed the synthesizer bass from René & Angela's “I’ll Be Good” in a deep fryer. Chest-beating pleader “25/8” clearly aims for classic status with a Gamble/Huff sample. The second half is heavy on ballads. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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My Life II...The Journey Continues (Act 1)

Mary J. Blige

R&B - Released January 1, 2011 | Geffen*

Intro excepted, a devout Mary J. Blige fan could listen to these 70 minutes of music as an untitled album and never think of it as a sequel to 1994's My Life. Technically titled My Life II...The Journey Continues (Act 1) -- yes, it’s the first act of a continuation -- it’s more the successor to Blige’s previous album, Stronger with Each Tear. Blige is in a much different, presumably much better place now than she was when she made the turbulent My Life. That album has one guest who appears during a half-minute interlude; there really isn’t much room for any other voice. My Life II, like Stronger, is more like My Life and Those of Others Who Join Me, as it is it involves a succession of high-profile guests: Nas, Busta Rhymes, Drake, Rick Ross, Beyoncé, Diddy, and Lil Wayne. Those who are hoping for something in the spirit of mid-‘90s Blige might be disappointed and think of the title as a ploy, but those who expect a wide variety of material in terms of style and mood will get precisely that. The first half contains several uplifting, upbeat numbers, including a muscular cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan's “Ain’t Nobody,” where producer Rodney Jerkins seems to have placed the synthesizer bass from René & Angela's “I’ll Be Good” in a deep fryer. Chest-beating pleader “25/8” clearly aims for classic status with a Gamble/Huff sample. The second half is heavy on ballads. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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The Complete Chess Studio Recordings

Buddy Guy

Blues - Released March 10, 1992 | Geffen*

Here's everything that fleet-fingered Buddy Guy waxed for Chess from 1960 to 1966, including numerous unissued-at-the-time masters, offering the most in-depth peek at his formative years imaginable. Stone Chicago blues classics ("Ten Years Ago," "My Time After Awhile," "Let Me Love You Baby," "Stone Crazy"), rockin' oddities ("American Bandstand," "$100 Bill," "Slop Around"), even a cut that features guitarist Lacy Gibson's vocal rather than Guy's ("My Love Is Real") -- some 47 sizzling songs in all. © Bill Dahl /TiVo
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Mercy

Steve Jones

Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen*

Steve Jones was light-years from his Sex Pistols days when he took the solo plunge; his snakelike tresses and deep Hollywood tan were only the most obvious visual evidence. Mercy is a markedly slicker offering than his Pistols and Professionals outings. The old single-minded chug-a-chug has been supplanted by tacky mid-'80s poodle metal trademarks like glistening keyboards; lengthy, winding solos; and inane lyrics. Still, Mercy has its share of rewards. Jones proves a surprisingly adept ballad writer on the mournful title track, "Raining in My Heart" and "Pleasure and Pain" (which originally appeared on the Sid & Nancy soundtrack). "Give It Up" and "That's Enough" are also a pair of cheekily enjoyable guilty pleasures. (The latter track also boasts some cringeworthy rhymes, such as "knees" with "deadly disease.") Jones handles guitars and basses in his usual stalwart fashion, though his lead work is far more conventional than before. Problems start adding up on side two: "Drugs Suck" sincerely voices Jones' hard-won sobriety, but its plodding tempo and melodramatic spoken interludes can't get it off the ground. "Pretty Baby" is a crunch ballad that goes on forever, and "Through the Night" is too bland to make much impression. The dirgelike remake of Keith Lester's '60s weeper "Love Letters to Your Heart" makes for a curious, yet appalling conclusion, since Jones' voice lacks the gristle to pull off the mood. Jones was still finding his feet, so it's hard to be too harsh on him -- but he surely could have injected more of his celebrated streetwise character into the proceedings. The dominant mood smacks of "let's play it safe and make a few bucks," but Jones has always fared better when he's allowed to cut loose. There's a pretty good EP struggling to get out, because restraint is the best description for what's happening here. © Ralph Heibutzki /TiVo
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It's Hard

The Who

Rock - Released January 1, 1982 | Geffen*

Driven by Pete Townshend's arching musical ambitions, It's Hard was a final effort from the Who. Featuring layers of synthesizers and long-winded, twisting song structures, the album featured the anthemic "Athena" and the terse "Eminence Front." © Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Cub Koda /TiVo
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Nothing Gold Can Stay

New Found Glory

Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen*

With an abundance of Lifetime/Promise Ring rip-off bands crawling out from under every suburban nook and cranny, one can't help but suffer from poppy-emo overkill and pray that something else will come up and shift the indie genre into a completely different direction. But then there are bands like A New Found Glory who pull out all the right hooks and harmonies that the hope of bands maintaining a "energetic, sensitive, and happy" tone will remain. A New Found Glory are all about reminiscing about the days of walking to the beach, holding hands with a loved one while loudly singing Michael Jackson's "Thriller." They're all about making mix tapes and anonymously sending it to that special someone. But they're also about trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered relationship by writing a song about it. Also making the moments on Nothing Gold Can Stay is that it doesn't cross that line where you want to scream into the stereo "get over it!" Instead, you just sit back, listen, and relate to their heartfelt days of love lost and found. © Mike DaRonco /TiVo
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Stairway To Heaven

Mary J. Blige

Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen*

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Every Little Step

Bobby Brown

R&B - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen*

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I Am

Mary J. Blige

R&B - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen*

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Reservoir Dogs

Various Artists

Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1992 | Geffen*