PAUL MCCARTNEY- KISSES ON THE BOTTOM
"If not now, when?"
This is Paul McCartney's reasoning behind releasing "Kisses On The Bottom," a mostly harmless and straightforward...and super bland... reading of the Great American Songbook. Recorded with Diana Krall and her band, and produced by...yaaaawnn...Tommy LiPuma, "Kisses On The Bottom" is so safely presented, you'll question whether you actually heard it when it's through playing.
Paul's voice shows its age a bit, as he allows his falsetto to take over. It is both frail and occasionally charming, especially on "Bye Bye Blackbird" and a surprisingly Beatle-like take on "The Inch Worm." Problem is, who really wants to here "The Inch Worm," unless it's Coltrane. I would have been more interested in hearing Paul's band with Rusty Anderson and Abe Laboriel Jr. tackle this repertoire. That might have made for a more interesting experience. This is mostly just another standards record, with nothing special to talk about, other than it's from a Beatle. (But, maybe hanging with Diana Krall opened up talks for that long-awaited McCartney-McManus album.)
VAN HALEN- A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH
Whose idea was it to release "Tattoo" as the first single, Sammy Hagar? As one friend put it, "Even by Van Halen party-song standards, that song is shit."
Well, the single isn't great, that's for sure. But "A Different Kind Of Truth" really is.
If you've never been a Van Halen fan, there's little I can say about this record to get you on board. But if those first 4 classic albums were on heavy rotation back in the day, this comeback will tickle you. Eddie and the boys manage to crank out some vintage VH sounds without sounding like parodies of themselves.
David Lee Roth sounds older, but just as stupid, and I mean that in the best possible way. These boys are having fun and as usual, Eddie's playing is still off the hook.
My picks: "China Town," "Honeybabysweetiedoll" and "Stay Frosty."
FAIR WARNING! THE FOLLOWING MAY BORE NON-RUNDGREN FANS.
TODD RUNDGREN- A CAPPELLA/NEARLY HUMAN/SECOND WIND
Yet another Todd Rundgren reissue campaign has gotten underway in the UK. This time, it claims to be "definitive." It isn't.
I started with the first release, which is both "Runt" and "The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren" in one package. Making it all the more appealing, was the inclusion of the never-before-released on CD alternate takes from "Runt," as well as some live tracks originally found on the Japanese rarities collection, "Somewhere/Anywhere?"
It's hard to go wrong with this package, as it is priced at $8. But, these new reissues are not remastered, as they claim to be. And if they are, why doesn't it say so anywhere in the packaging? (And why are they $8?)
Released today in the US, is the most interesting of the lot. This package contains Rundgren's three releases from his time spent at Warner Brothers.
"A Cappella" is Todd at his most creative, making music and sounds with nothing but his voice. It's not the easiest record to embrace if you're just stopping by, but it does contain some fan favorites, including "Pretending To Care" and "Lost Horizon," and it remains a personal favorite of mine.
"Nearly Human" should have put the man back on top. This was a brilliant return to Philly pop and soul, with a big band and some of Rundgren's best material, and remains one of my all time favorite releases.
"Second Wind" was recorded in front of a live audience over a series of performances in Los Angeles. It continues where "Nearly Human" left off, with big arrangements, but sadly weaker material.
The reason I love this particular package is because it is the first time these records have received any sort of upgrade since their initial release. Friday Music did put out "Second Wind" a few years back, but again, to my ears, there was no sonic upgrade.
My other minor quibble is, if these are indeed "definitive," why does "A Cappella" include the bonus remix of "Something To Fall Back On," but "Second Wind" does not include the ever-elusive, cassette-only track, "Jesse?
The whole campaign is questionable, but at least the catalogue is readily available at a decent price. For me, the 2006, 20K remasters from Japan are still the definitive versions, even without new notes and new bonus tracks.
They are all HERE