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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 11-25-22 – 12-1-22 Reviewed

Silver Bells – Andre Rieu – André Rieu, Johann Strauss Orchestra – not up to much from the talented but tired Rieu – C

BREEZY – It’s Giving Christmas – Chris Brown – This is the way being cancelled should work. After beating up Rihanna the industry turned their back on Brown till through hard work, touring, and introducing us to the likes of H.E.R. he got back in the world’s not as cancelled with hits a-plenty and his latest, adding two Christmas songs to Breezy is alright, both songs are pretty good – B

Christmas with Cliff- Cliff Richard – the Christian seculist Christmas at its best – A-

Wednesday (Original Series Soundtrack) – Danny elfman – the Oingo Boingo guy is tailor made for the assignment and although the song with Chris Brown defines bad judgement, the TV series was fun and so is this – B-

Divine Symmetry – David Bowie – there are only two types of people listening to David Bowie cover Chuck Berry’s “Almost Grown”: those who don’t care and those who would sell their mothers to the Iranian soccer team to hear it. aka An Alternative Journey Through Hunky Dory is the usual box set from the UK (demos, John Peel session, etc), except its chronology makes it of specific interest as we see his songwriting slipping and sliding the way “Waiting For A Friend” winks at VU as it goes its own glammy road not travelled – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

The Boy Named If (Alive At Memphis Magnetic) – Elvis Costello And The Imposters – “described as a “companion record” to January’s The Boy Named If album, and was recorded live at Memphis’ Magnetic Recording in October 2021 and May 2022, after the original TBNI album was recorded remotely during the pandemic”, and while The Boy Named If began life in my top 20 of the year, it didn’t survive relistening and definitely didn’t survive his Pier 17 show this summer (here). The urge is to be forgiving but that horrible take on “Let Me Roll It” doesn’t help. – B-

The Alternate Collection – Fleetwood Mac – The Mac under Buckingham were such perfectionists that the album box sets were interesting but not quite as music and all the alternate takes of prime FM are here in one place: if you can tear yourself away from Christie McVie retrospectives give it a dip – B

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (Original Soundtrack) – John Murphy – the incidental music is incidental to the fun Disney+ special, but both of the Christmas songs by Kevin and Old 97’s is must hear here – B

Bell Bottom Country – Lainey Wilson – a lot of women in country (when I spoke to Steve Earle he all but dubbed the sex the future of country), and Wilson is one of the best newcomers with honey suckle southern drawl and ear candy country rockers with backbones, this is what it should be – B

Lander – Lisa – a top J-Pop performer who sings in Japanese and hasn’t crossed over with a first rate, straight up, disco set – A-

Michael Bublé’s Cozy Christmas – Michael Buble – six song add to his popular perennial album because you can’t make enough money off Jesus – C-

Thriller 40 – Michael Jackson – “Wanna Be Starting Something” is one of the greatest songs ever written and that is just the first song, the level of work here, if a touch below Off The Wall, was huge and made him a superstar. They’ve been tons of deluxes of the album but how many is too much? – A

Get Rollin’ – Nickelback – the 90s stars emerge as classic rockers with a Stones sounding best to date – C+

The Miracle (Collector’s Edition) – Queen – The 1989 post-Freddie album expanded for no reason whatsoever – C

The Ruby Cord – Richard Dawson – English Americana with a slice of post-punk – C

Live at the Greek Theater 2019 – Ringo Starr – I’ve seen Starkey on stage plenty of times and he is great and his bands… depends upon the tour. This one is a goodie and I prefer it to his live shows because 13 songs are Ringo’s and I wanna hear Ringo. But the two Average White Band songs are pretty good and what the hey, the band survives “Black Magic Woman” by the skin of their teeth – B

Jupiter’s Diary: 7 Day Theory – Rod Wave – I skipped reviewing this album though I like the r&b guy fine and had just raved about a top ten album earlier this year, but the man is completely self-evident and while this 21 minute EP went straight into the top ten, it isn’t particularly memorable – B

The Perfect Vision Reworkings – Soundwalk Collective, Patti Smith – brutal electronic art project, Brian Eno doesn’t help on the opening rework. No one helps anywhere – D+

Wish (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) – The Cure – while bookmarked by too esoteric goth Disintegration and pure pop move Wild Mood Swings, Wish was neither nor though decades later it sounds a lot better, plus “Friday I’m In Love” is in a league with “Mint Car”, you get the album and a ton of demos, it could have used a live album but hey – B+

Live at the Fillmore, 1997 (Deluxe) – Tom Petty – an impressive four hour sweep of Petty’s legendary Fillmore West stand. Tons of covers, some pretty good (“You Are My Sunshine”). some less so (“Around And Around”), a featured Roger McGuinn and some great excerpts from his still in progress career then (“You Don’t Know How It Feels”) but how about that Beacon Theatre in 2013? I’d love to hear it again (here) – A-

Live At The Rainbow – Toyah – Remember her from “Jubilee”? Or maybe as Mrs. Robert Fripp? Or if you are English her own band, “Toyah” she was a pre-post punk experimentalist with thumping drums and synth and this album, recorded February 1981, will remind you why she is so admired – B

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