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Rock - Released November 6, 2012 | New Door Records

Teaming up once again with producer Matt Serletic, the Matchbox 20 and Collective Soul producer who helmed the 2010 album Hard Knocks, Joe Cocker winds up branching out in slightly different directions on 2012's Fire It Up. Where Hard Knocks wound up as a clean, polished, blue-eyed soul album, Fire It Up sounds closer to Serletic's work with Matchbox 20 -- an adult pop album where the R&B is buried beneath gleaming, pulsating rock. Cocker has often mined this crossover vein and he's done so with engaging results going as far back as 1989's "When the Night Comes," and he sounds appealing enough here, particularly on the sprightlier numbers. When things start to slow down, Cocker sounds a little more vulnerable, a little older, and while there's charm to that raggedness, Serletic's production is too precise to be a good match. Nevertheless, this is an assured, professionally crafted piece of contemporary adult pop. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | New Door Records

Burton Cummings doesn’t need to work for the money, he does it for the love of it. Above the Ground is his first album in 12 years -- it was released in his native Canada in 2008, appearing in the U.S. two years later -- so it makes some sense that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon lasting 19 tracks and 74 minutes. Cummings may have no sense of urgency, something that hinders a blues boogie like “Junior Won’t Behave,” but the leisurely pace does allow for him to touch upon all of his interests, from churning heavy rock to loose-limbed pop, adding little bits of country and soft-rock introspection along the way. Sometimes the production is a little too immaculate, reminiscent of all-digital recordings from the tail-end of the ‘80s, sometimes things get a little odd, as when he sways into the boozy cadence of “Rollaway,” but the wide range of styles, along with a bit of blunt satire ( “We Just Came from the USA”), keeps Above the Ground interesting. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | New Door Records

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Rock - Released March 26, 2007 | New Door Records

The very title of Joe Cocker's Hymn for My Soul suggests that this, his 2007 studio album, is a gospel affair, or at least something inspired by faith -- something that isn't true to the letter, yet there is something true about the spirit of this sentiment, for these are songs that serve as a tonic to Cocker's soul. He's pulled songs from several familiar sources -- Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Bob Dylan -- and found other newer songs that share a similar sentiment, offering reassuring thoughts in troubled times. While nobody could ever claim that this album -- produced by Ethan Johns, son of Glyn -- has any grit, it nevertheless is warmer than recent Cocker discs, boasting a soulful heart (even if it has been polished and cleaned until it sparkles). If this isn't enough to bring long-straying Cocker fans back into the fold, it nevertheless is his best record in recent memory, and will satisfy those who have been looking for nothing more than a good, solid album from him, which this surely is. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2007 | New Door Records

Raul Malo's greatest commercial success has been as lead singer with the progressive country group the Mavericks, but since launching his solo career in 2001, Malo has displayed little interest in catering to the country audience, preferring to indulge his passion for Latin sounds and retro vocal jazz. The set list on 2007's After Hours might suggest to some fans that Malo is keen on winning back the country audience, since it features ten songs made famous by the likes of Eddy Arnold, Ray Price, Hank Williams, Buck Owens, and other old-school country & western heroes. But rather than treat these tunes as relics from Nashville's noble past, on After Hours Malo honors them as standards -- object lessons in great songwriting -- and interprets them as swinging pop tunes (as he reimagines "Cold, Cold Heart" and "[Now and Then There's] A Fool Such As I") or polished late-night supper club laments ("Welcome to My World" and "Crying Time"). The closest thing to a clear country influence on this set is the pedal steel guitar that supports the arrangement on Roger Miller's "Husbands and Wives," but if Malo has taken these tunes out of their traditional context, there's no doubt that he's captured their heart and soul as few singers have; the sadness and desire of "For the Good Times" has rarely been communicated with the strength Malo commands in his performance, and as playful as his take of "Cold, Cold Heart" may be, he gets the essence of the song on tape with accuracy and freshness. Anyone who harbors doubts about Raul Malo's status as one of America's best contemporary vocalists will be pleasantly surprised by the craft and maturity of After Hours, and he does wonders for the classic Nashville songbook at the same time; with any luck, this will be the first in a series from Malo of classic country interpretations. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2007 | New Door Records

Beautiful Door is actor Billy Bob Thornton's fourth recording, and here he leaves the concepts, social and political ideas, and American mythologies behind for something more personal. Thornton's previous albums have all been idiosyncratic, with moments of something approaching genius, and others far more frustrating and head-scratching in their excesses. On 2005's Hobo, the most conceptual of all, he at least pared the sound back and got the germ of how a real band should sound, and there were the seeds of ideas that are also articulated in Beautiful Door's 12 songs -- all written with guitarist Brad Davis -- albeit the mirror image of them in that their themes are far more personal and reflective. As on its predecessor, the band is small here. Thornton plays drums (rudimentarily) and percussion, Davis is on guitars, and veteran bassist Leland Sklar and organist Ted Andreadis are here as well. Graham Nash guests, contributing backing vocals to three tracks, including the title. Musically, this feels something akin to a sleepy Dave Alvin record. There's nothing wrong with sleepy. In fact, in Thornton's case it works for him. He and his band stroll along the edges of roots rock and country and meld them seamlessly. He's terribly concerned with his lyrics carrying weight, and that you know exactly how he feels about things, but for all the excess, there is a songwriter in here who has begun to emerge in earnest. These tunes feel like memory flashes captured on aging Polaroid photographs, whether they are extended reflections on years past ("In the Day"), road songs about women ("I Gotta Grow Up" and "Carnival Girl"), personal reminiscences about the changes in the American landscape ("In the Day"), or ruminations on loss, which outnumber the rest. In fact, through these simple, gently rocking tunes, Thornton's sense of emotions, loneliness, and regret is profound. It haunts him like the ghostly, blurred picture of him on the back of the CD booklet. It's all sepia, details flit by, and what's left is the scar on the heart. An entire album of this may wear on you if you're not ready or in the mood for it, but that doesn't mean it's a bad record -- far from it. It's one for the nighttime hours, those that either immediately precede troubled sleep, or directly commence when waking from a dream with near fatal existential panic in your chest. Thornton seems to speak to those lonely moments without whining about them. This isn't everybody's cup of poison to be sure, but for those drawn to the wee-small-hours reflections of Alvin, Tom Russell, or Malcolm Holcombe, this is for you. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2007 | New Door Records

No vocal group is better qualified to pay tribute to R&B's golden era than the Temptations, who do exactly that on Back to Front (an album containing mostly covers of soul classics from the '60s and '70s). Some soul connoisseurs will question whether or not the 2007 lineup heard on Back to Front should even be called the Temptations; Otis Williams is the only remaining original member, and the other participants include 1983 arrival Ron Tyson and three singers who didn't come on board until the '90s (Terry Weeks) or 2000s (Bruce Williamson and Joe Herndon). But then, lineup changes are nothing new for the Temptations, who had plenty of them during their '60s and '70s heyday -- and the important thing to remember about Back to Front is that the disc is quite faithful to the spirit of the pre-'80s Temptations even though Williams is the only one who was actually part of the group before the '80s. The Temptations, of course, were synonymous with the Motown sound back in the day, but Back to Front celebrates classic soul outside of Motown with enthusiastic covers of gems ranging from Barry White's "Never, Never Gonna Give You Up" and the Emotions' "Don't Ask My Neighbors" to L.T.D.'s hits "(Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again" and "Love Ballad." The Temptations of 2007 pay tribute to Stax Records (Motown's most important competitor in the '60s) on Sam & Dave's "Hold On! I'm Comin'" and the Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself," and they acknowledge the Philadelphia International/Gamble & Huff sound on Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody." Back to Front is not in a class with the Temptations' most essential '60s and '70s recordings, but it is an enjoyably satisfying tribute to R&B's pre-urban contemporary, pre-hip-hop era. © Alex Henderson /TiVo

Country - Released January 1, 2007 | New Door Records

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Beautiful Door is actor Billy Bob Thornton's fourth recording, and here he leaves the concepts, social and political ideas, and American mythologies behind for something more personal. Thornton's previous albums have all been idiosyncratic, with moments of something approaching genius, and others far more frustrating and head-scratching in their excesses. On 2005's Hobo, the most conceptual of all, he at least pared the sound back and got the germ of how a real band should sound, and there were the seeds of ideas that are also articulated in Beautiful Door's 12 songs -- all written with guitarist Brad Davis -- albeit the mirror image of them in that their themes are far more personal and reflective. As on its predecessor, the band is small here. Thornton plays drums (rudimentarily) and percussion, Davis is on guitars, and veteran bassist Leland Sklar and organist Ted Andreadis are here as well. Graham Nash guests, contributing backing vocals to three tracks, including the title. Musically, this feels something akin to a sleepy Dave Alvin record. There's nothing wrong with sleepy. In fact, in Thornton's case it works for him. He and his band stroll along the edges of roots rock and country and meld them seamlessly. He's terribly concerned with his lyrics carrying weight, and that you know exactly how he feels about things, but for all the excess, there is a songwriter in here who has begun to emerge in earnest. These tunes feel like memory flashes captured on aging Polaroid photographs, whether they are extended reflections on years past ("In the Day"), road songs about women ("I Gotta Grow Up" and "Carnival Girl"), personal reminiscences about the changes in the American landscape ("In the Day"), or ruminations on loss, which outnumber the rest. In fact, through these simple, gently rocking tunes, Thornton's sense of emotions, loneliness, and regret is profound. It haunts him like the ghostly, blurred picture of him on the back of the CD booklet. It's all sepia, details flit by, and what's left is the scar on the heart. An entire album of this may wear on you if you're not ready or in the mood for it, but that doesn't mean it's a bad record -- far from it. It's one for the nighttime hours, those that either immediately precede troubled sleep, or directly commence when waking from a dream with near fatal existential panic in your chest. Thornton seems to speak to those lonely moments without whining about them. This isn't everybody's cup of poison to be sure, but for those drawn to the wee-small-hours reflections of Alvin, Tom Russell, or Malcolm Holcombe, this is for you. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Ambient/New Age - Released January 1, 2007 | New Door Records

Raul Malo seemingly thrives on creative eclecticism, and he's clearly delighted to be showing off his many musical moods on his first seasonal album, Marshmallow World and Other Holiday Favorites. The twangy baritone guitars on "Not So Merry Christmas" suggest his latter-day work with the Mavericks; "Jingle Bells" is Malo in full-on lounge lizard mode; "Marshmallow World" speaks of smooth pop with just a touch of swing; there's a swaggering blues accent on the two Elvis covers ("Blue Christmas" and "Santa Claus Is Back in Town"); "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is appropriately forlorn; the arrangements head south of the border for the Latin-tinged "Silver Bells" and "Feliz Navidad," and "Silent Night" is reverent and touching. Malo does so much aural shape-shifting on this album that it never quite establishes a strong personality of its own, beyond the fact all the songs deal with Christmas and Malo is in typically strong form on these sessions, singing with estimable power and casual authority no matter what style he adopts. Malo also produced this album with Jim Weaver and Evan York and they're smart enough to know how strong to play the retro vibe of these sessions, aiming for a classic sound without sinking into the quicksand of fake nostalgia. (The photos of Alisha Murray in the liner booklet will also bring a smile to anyone who remembers Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights.) Marshmallow World and Other Holiday Favorites almost tries too hard to cover so many stylistic bases, but that's an improvement over the tossed-together sound of so many seasonal albums, and it offers further proof that Raul Malo is one of the best vocalists at work today; this will sound fine while you're relaxing by the fireplace with someone special on Christmas Eve. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2007 | New Door Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | New Door Records

There may be some irony in William Tell, former guitarist for Something Corporate, turning into something of a corporate rocker as he goes solo with 2007's You Can Hold Me Down, but then again, his old band never quite shied away from sounding like melodic corporate rock, either. Something Corporate always placed a stronger emphasis on pop than punk in their punk-pop -- how could they not when their leader played piano and idolized Ben Folds? -- to the extent that they never quite seemed punk, a sentiment that certainly carries over to You Can Hold Me Down, a record so polished that it positively glistens. Apart from an emo-styled sincerity in his lyrics (extending to his casual use of profanity) and how his sweet, plain voice quivers when he reaches for the big emotional notes, this album has no ties to any kind of underground music: it's a pop record and a middle-of-the-road one at that, filled with songs about love won and lost, all separated into navel-gazing power ballads and surging midtempo tunes that visibly strain at anthemic hooks they don't quite achieve. Tell isn't a particularly distinctive singer, but he's friendly enough to make these matter-of-fact tunes feel relatable and it helps that he can occasionally craft a good hook, as in the opener, "Jeannie," or the bouncy L.A. nightclub putdown "Fairfax (You're Still the Same)," which is helped immeasurably by the presence of his former Something Corporate cohort Andrew McMahon. These livelier numbers are where You Can Hold Me Down pulls listeners in -- in every way, they're the ones with the hooks -- but only those who find his sensitive pretty-boy persona charming will stick around for the rest, as they fall into that weird middle ground of sounding way too corporate for the underground and not tuneful enough for the mainstream audience for which it was designed. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2007 | New Door Records

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Rock - Released September 12, 2006 | New Door Records

Once dubbed "The Face of 1968" by the British music press, the one-time teen idol Peter Frampton has been a blues-rocker in Humble Pie, a platinum-selling '70s superstar, and a latter-day session guitarist for David Bowie. His 2006 album of instrumentals features a variety of British rock and jazz talent, including the saxophonist Courtney Pine, the seminal 1960s guitarist Hank Marvin, and the reunited Rolling Stones' rhythm section Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, in a varied set that runs the gamut of contemporary musical styles, from Latin, blues, and R&B, to hard rock, funk, and Django Reinhardt-influenced jazz. © TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | New Door Records

Despite what some may believe, Live to Win is not Paul Stanley's solo debut. That honor goes to 1978's Paul Stanley (which was released in conjunction with solo releases by the three other Kiss members), an album so Kiss-like that the singer's full-time band could have easily stamped their logo on it and issued it as the studio follow-up to 1977's Love Gun. Nearly 30 years later, Stanley is ready to step out on his own again, and this time around, it's not the arena anthems you'd expect. In its place is a modern-day mainstream pop/rock production, which effectively smoothes out all the rough edges. In fact, the title track would sound perfect sung by an American Idol finalist (or wouldn't be out of place in an episode of Fame), while the ballad "Loving You Without You Now" treads dangerously on Barry Manilow territory. Elsewhere, mainstream pop/rock reins supreme ("All About You," "Wake Up Screaming," "Where Angels Dare," etc.). Despite the fact that much of this material will leave longtime fans of "Detroit Rock City" and "I Stole Your Love" scratching their heads as to where the cojones went, there's no denying that all these years later, Stanley is still in fine voice. A little more grit and much less polish would have certainly helped here. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | New Door Records

Rock bands classified as "progressive" have been pairing off with symphony orchestras for decades, sometimes with positive results, a good example being Procol Harum Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, that group's biggest selling album. According to guitarist/singer Tommy Shaw, who has been fronting Styx since a legal settlement with former singer/keyboardist Dennis DeYoung gave him, guitarist James "JY" Young, and mostly retired bass player Chuck Panozzo the right to perform under the band's name in 2001, the group mostly avoided hooking up with orchestras until an offer came in from the Contemporary Youth Orchestra (CYO) of Cleveland, OH, a massive ensemble of 115 musicians along with a 56-member choir, all of them teenagers. Their live encounter with the CYO constitutes their second release on Universal's New Door imprint, formed to revitalize the careers of veteran acts with large catalogs in the company's archives, following the 2005 covers collection Big Bang Theory. Actually, the idea of coming up with orchestral arrangements for Styx songs is not a bad one, or, at least, it wouldn't be if the present group was willing to choose from its entire repertoire, including the more melodic ballads written by the departed DeYoung. But a decision seems to have been made to avoid giving royalties to the band's former leader, so the songs all have to be Shaw compositions, numbers written by the present group, or covers. The result is a record that finds Styx rocking harder than it perhaps should under the circumstances. The CYO may be a worthy outfit, but most of the time it's nearly impossible to tell because they are inaudible as pitted against the amplified rock group. Early on, it sounds as if the mixing desk hasn't quite configured the room correctly, a common enough problem at concerts; the sound improves noticeably as the disc goes on. An early highlight is an arrangement of "I Am the Walrus" that follows the Beatles' original closely. The choir seems to be having a wonderful time singing "Woah" in the chorus. It's good, but it's not what one expects from Styx. The orchestra gets to peek out here and there, notably in the introduction to "Miss America," but it spends a lot of the evening doubling Lawrence Gowan's keyboard parts. At least it can be said that the youngsters are getting a good sense of what an arena rock concert is like, as Shaw treats them to a range of clichéd stage remarks such as, "One word: awesome!" He also talks about wanting to play all night, which, as usual, is a signal that the show is about to end. For no apparent reason, there is a new, original, studio-recorded track in the middle of the disc, "Just Be." It suggests that this faux Styx may be trying to turn into the faux Pink Floyd of the late '80s. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2006 | New Door Records

Don't call it a comeback, because it sure isn't. But then again, the Temptations never went away. On the contrary, they've been quietly churning out record after record, with the quality being surprisingly high for an act with such longevity. Granted, this isn't the classic Motown lineup everyone's accustomed to hearing, as Otis Williams is the only original member still performing. Reflections finds the band digging back into the Motown songbook, the very book that they helped to make famous, for this 15-song offering. Every single one of these tracks was a bona fide soul smash in its heyday, and the group treats them all with delicate reverence. The production is highly polished and contemporary, adding a layer of gloss and sheen that takes away from the raw delivery of the originals, but trying to re-create the sound of Studio A would also be a high crime itself. Production values aside, this is the sound of a group long past paying its dues and feeling the need to prove anything to anyone. The Temptations are simply having fun in the studio, which translates very well in the vocal performances. © Rob Theakston /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | New Door Records

Alien Ant Farm may have appeared on the national scene in 2001 in association with the nu metal crowd, but five years later and four albums in, the band is sporting this tag as loosely as ever. So while the aggro-crunching guitars are still mostly on hand, the full-on brash attack usually connected to the scene has largely been replaced on Up in the Attic with added melodic instincts and random components like horn sections, keyboards, strings -- hell, the liner notes even credit use of a mandolin and theremin. Now before you panic, it's not quite the divergent sonic party that a list of this nature suggests. "Bad Morning" and the bitter "Forgive & Forget" forcefully open the album with brazen guitars and bashing rhythms, so really, Alien Ant Farm still sound like themselves. But as they've always been a bit quirkier and melodically inclined than the Limp Bizkits of the world, the further listeners go into the album, songs become a bit more pop-oriented and less hard-hitting in nature. This isn't really a bad thing, though; most work out fine (like the standout, representative hybrid of "Around the Block"), making Up in the Attic great for a leisurely afternoon of cruising around the neighborhood. "Crickets" rolls lazily along, largely propelled by calm guitars and piano, while the acoustic-based "Supreme Lifestyle" brims with warm, robust vocal harmonies over light percussion and strings. But lead singer Dryden Mitchell doesn't use these early-evening moments as reason to restrain his singing, since his voice remains strong and gripping throughout. Taken at the song level, Alien Ant Farm continue to stretch the boundaries of their vaguely alt-metal repertoire and, aside from various moments of filler, the band does it with apparent ease. At the album level, though, there's something that makes Up in the Attic seem a bit hodgepodge and lopsided, instead of cohesive. But hey, play it on shuffle mode, skip past the occasional song, and all should be OK. © Corey Apar /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | New Door Records

Alien Ant Farm may have appeared on the national scene in 2001 in association with the nu metal crowd, but five years later and four albums in, the band is sporting this tag as loosely as ever. So while the aggro-crunching guitars are still mostly on hand, the full-on brash attack usually connected to the scene has largely been replaced on Up in the Attic with added melodic instincts and random components like horn sections, keyboards, strings -- hell, the liner notes even credit use of a mandolin and theremin. Now before you panic, it's not quite the divergent sonic party that a list of this nature suggests. "Bad Morning" and the bitter "Forgive & Forget" forcefully open the album with brazen guitars and bashing rhythms, so really, Alien Ant Farm still sound like themselves. But as they've always been a bit quirkier and melodically inclined than the Limp Bizkits of the world, the further listeners go into the album, songs become a bit more pop-oriented and less hard-hitting in nature. This isn't really a bad thing, though; most work out fine (like the standout, representative hybrid of "Around the Block"), making Up in the Attic great for a leisurely afternoon of cruising around the neighborhood. "Crickets" rolls lazily along, largely propelled by calm guitars and piano, while the acoustic-based "Supreme Lifestyle" brims with warm, robust vocal harmonies over light percussion and strings. But lead singer Dryden Mitchell doesn't use these early-evening moments as reason to restrain his singing, since his voice remains strong and gripping throughout. Taken at the song level, Alien Ant Farm continue to stretch the boundaries of their vaguely alt-metal repertoire and, aside from various moments of filler, the band does it with apparent ease. At the album level, though, there's something that makes Up in the Attic seem a bit hodgepodge and lopsided, instead of cohesive. But hey, play it on shuffle mode, skip past the occasional song, and all should be OK. © Corey Apar /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | New Door Records

Like 2004's less than stellar Cyclorama, those looking for this to be the big Styx record that will catapult them back into the mainstream will be sorely disappointed in the contents of this record. It's not a CD of new material, rather, it's a 14-song collection of covers from some of the band's influences and all-time rock favorites. Starting with a live recording of the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus," the band works its way through the great rock & roll songbook with safe, relative ease. Also included are the Who's "I Can See for Miles," the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City," Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home," Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression," Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath," and Free's "Wishing Well." All fine choices, and in combination with Styx's usual clean production and relaxed atmosphere around the usually serious album format makes Big Bang Theory a record that die-hard fans will enjoy and casual fans might regard as a passing novelty stopgap in between records © Rob Theakston /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | New Door Records

When he came to popular attention in the late 1960s, Joe Cocker reinvigorated and to a certain extent reinvented the art of interpretive singing at a time when it seemed to have been put in the shade permanently by the rise of singing songwriters led by Bob Dylan and the Beatles. Just when it seemed that no one but the songwriters themselves had the right to sing their songs, Cocker came along giving a gruff, pleading rendition of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends" that stood in stark contrast to Ringo Starr's happy-go-lucky version. But on his many albums, Cocker usually made sure to balance his carefully selected covers of well-known material with previously unknown tunes so that he was able to originate some material. On Heart & Soul, which marks the 60-year-old singer's return to major-label status (it was released on EMI internationally in October 2004 and on Universal's New Door imprint in the U.S. in February 2005), he doesn't bother with the new stuff; this one's all standards. The songs date from the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '90s, and are drawn from R&B, pop/rock, and alternative rock stalwarts ranging from Screamin' Jay Hawkins to former Beatles and contemporary acts U2 and R.E.M.. Producer Jeffrey C.J. Vanston makes a point of referencing the hit versions of the songs in the arrangements, which leave room for the talents of a who's who of guest guitarists including Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Steve Lukather. Cocker's familiar growls and cracked crooning make the songs his own, as usual, and as usual he claims the material without any sense of exclusivity. He never makes you forget the accomplished singers who did these songs before (sometimes more than one of them -- "I Keep Forgettin' [Every Time You're Near]" has had seemingly definitive readings by both Chuck Jackson and Michael McDonald, while "Jealous Guy" is associated not only with its author, John Lennon, but also Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry). Nor does he necessarily improve on those singers; could anyone turn in a more memorable version of "What's Going On" than Marvin Gaye? But that isn't really the point. It's not like his version of "With a Little Help From My Friends" was better than the Beatles', either. It was just different, and it made listeners hear the song in a different way. That's what an interpretive singer does, and it's what Cocker successfully does here, too. At a time when McDonald has enjoyed a career resurgence re-singing the Motown songbook, there is clearly a place for Cocker among adult listeners and on the adult contemporary charts, and that's why he's back on the majors. He does not disappoint. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo