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CD: RETURN TO FOREVER, No Mystery/Where Have I Known You Before? [REMASTER] ...just got this 2CD import remaster-in-a-slipcase. Still in the plastic. But now I can toss my old copies. (Well, maybe. The old CD of WHIKYB? sounds pretty good, so an A:B is inevitable.)
CD: THIN LIZZY, Chinatown ..."rediscovered" this Lizzy gem that I'd ignored (not intentionally) for quite some time. The albums between Bad Reputation and Thunder And Lightning tend to get overlooked, or so it seems. Chinatown has three of Lizzy's best songs, actually: the infectious "Sweetheart," the unrelenting "Genocide" and a groove-bender called "Hey You." The Vertigo CD sounds better than the recent One Way reissues, too. Phil's bass really stands out.
CD: URIAH HEEP, Firefly ...I'm not exactly a Heep'ster, due to chronic UNDERexposure to these Brit hard rock legends, but from what I've heard so far, Firefly has the most going for it (for me, anyway). Ken Hensley's synths are quite prominent; "The Hanging Tree" opens with a cool Moog bass sequence right out of Tangerine Dream. This was John Lawton's first album with UH as lead vocalist, and he's great—an "alternate reality" David Coverdale or Glenn Hughes, but nowhere near as flowery. Great album!
CD: BIGELF, Cheat The Gallows ...new CD by the retro-rock dudes from L.A. who ended up setting up shop in Sweden! (They go back and forth a lot.) More 'Tron and Hammond and Gibson-laden goodness so you can party like it's '73!
CD: BIGELF, Closer To Doom [REISSUE] ...Record Heaven was kind enough to reissue the six-song CDEP with four bonus tracks tacked on. Cool shit.
CD: EDGAR FROESE/RALF WADEPHUL [TANGERINE DREAM], Blue Dawn ...archival release of previously-recorded/unfinished music that dates back to 1987, completed (or re-tooled) and remastered. The previous retro-release in this style was Kyoto by Froese and another TD alumnus, Johannes Schmoelling (and an excellent CD, at that). While Kyoto met this longtime fan's expectations, Blue Dawn is the greater surprise of the two. Wadephul was a flash-in-the-pan, now-you-see-him, now-you-don't member. He participated on only one studio album — Optical Race — one tour, one soundtrack, and not much else. That's too bad, as many of the pieces on this disc could have saved Optical Race from mediocrity: fewer than half its ten tracks hold up twenty years later. Wadephul was many years younger than Froese, and his compositional style — the little that was heard — didn't seem to jibe with Froese's. The music on Blue Dawn dispels that notion and suggests that greater collaborative efforts may have been realized had TD been more of a democracy. However, Wadephul was the "new guy" back then and it wasn't meant to be. The title track of Blue Dawn even sounds Eloy-esque with its lush analog strings and blazing guitar solo. Astonishingly, the guitar solos on this CD, whether recorded then or now, are some of Froese's best. Better late than never, but still unnerving to think that these tapes just sat in a drawer for the better part of two decades.
CD: TANGERINE DREAM, Booster ...Purple Pyramid's US-based subsidiary has issued this nice-priced two-disc'er of new and reinterpreted TD tracks. Some of the tracks are from recent TD releases, but that doesn't matter, especially in the case of the sequencer trip "One Night In Space," which is clearly one of TD's best new pieces in years. With the junior Froese, Jerome, out of the fold, TD is getting away from the trance/techno'ish crud that stifled the band's progress for years. Classic material from the albums Hyperborea, Logos and Tangram is revisited, Tangents-style, but not plagiarized—these renditions are virtually new compositions. The final epic on CD2, called "Bells Of Acra," is a swell old school, multi-stage, epic bliss-out.