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Robert Lamm & Jim Peterik and Friends - Everything's Gonna Work Out Fine (2020)

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Most classic rock fans know who Robert Lamm is, but it's less likely they're familiar with Jim Peterik. Peterik was the leader of The Ides of March - a horn band like Chicago - who had a #2 hit with "Vehicle" way back in 1970. He had additional success later as one of the founders of Survivor  - a band that turned "Eye of the Tiger" into a big hit after recording it for Rocky III in 1982. In the sadly closed-down year of 2020 Peterik wrote the lyrics to a Robert Lamm track that sounds somewhat like the pop side of Chicago's long-gone, 70s jazz-rock. Lamm enlisted help from some of his newer bandmates using file sharing instead of bringing them together to record the single "Everything's Gonna Work Out Fine." By the mid-70s Chicago decided to become a more mainstream band. "Everything" represents the four lane highway many of their original fans wish they merged onto in the 80s instead of the muddy, rutted, dirt road to nowhere the

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs - Under The Covers, Vol. 1 (2006)

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Under The Covers, Volume 1 is the first of three such albums by Matthew Sweet and former Bangles singer and guitarist, Susanna Hoffs. This set covers fourteen songs from the 60s and one, "Run To Me," was an early 70s Bee Gees' single. The duo's next two collaborations featured songs they love from the 70s and 80s. Both Sweet and Hoffs do a fine job on all three albums but my favorite is this one on which they recorded both big hits and more obscure fare that prevents the album from sounding like warmed up leftovers. If you're a person who wants a complete reworking of someone else's original song perhaps you'll be disappointed because many of the tunes are quite faithful to the records we know well. A prime example is The Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing." It's cool that Sweet and Hoffs chose a song by the Liverpool quartet that was never a single, so it's possible that not everyone is familiar with it. This John Lennon track is one o

Last Albums: Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

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Bridge Over Troubled Water is the fifth and final album Simon and Garfunkel made together. The eleven song record is quite eclectic. It's considered to be the gem of gems in the duo's catalog. It was released in January 1970 and they parted ways just a few months later. While they would get together in the future for a few concerts and a live album - plus a one-off single, " My Little Town ," that appeared on a solo album for each one - this marked the end of their time together as true collaborators. All of the songs, except for a cover of The Everly Brothers' "Bye By Love," were written by Simon and the title track is often considered the best song the two ever produced together. The single that gave the album its name soared all of the way to #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and stayed there for six weeks. It won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Simon wrote it for his partner to sing although Garfunkel originally insisted that

Almost Hits: Brandi Carlile - The Story (2007)

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We all know that record sales are not calculated the same way they were thirty years ago when people were still buying physical copies of the music they loved. Things have changed so much in the modern era of streaming. It's much harder to gauge the popularity of a track today, but even with knowing that my favorite song of the 21st Century deserved a better fate. Sadly, Brandi Carlile's best known single, "The Story," is her only one to ever score a place on Billboard's Hot 100 where it only climbed to #75. Fortunately, the album of the same name did better. It peaked at #41 and that was good enough to earn the young singer-songwriter a gold record.  Produced by the great T-Bone Burnett, "The Story" - written by Carlile's great friend and bandmate, bassist Phil Hanseroth - straddles the boundaries of folk and rock in a way that most records do not, and that is what helps make it a classic. At around :55 into the song Carlile's vocals and person

Paul McCartney - The Lyrics (2021)

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Paul McCartney has repeatedly turned down requests to write his autobiography. Instead, he said we can get a good accounting of his life through " my songs, hundreds of them, which I've learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life."   In his own excellent foreword to his newly published, voluminous anthology the seventy-nine year old icon wrote , " Fans or readers, or even critics, who really want to learn more about my life should read my lyrics, which might reveal more than any single book about The Beatles could do."  The result is  The Lyrics , a huge, two volume book set that discusses 154 songs McCartney wrote throughout his life -  from 1956 to the present -  with The Beatles, Wings, and as a solo artist. There is also an introduction written by Irish poet, Paul Muldoon, who helped edit and assemble the book for McCartney. Muldoon is not his ghostwriter, the prose all belongs to the talented man listed as the author.  Songs inc

Jim Croce - The Definitive Croce (1998)

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During my college years of the early 70s I played Jim Croce on my radio show mostly because the station had a required playlist that every DJ had to follow. It wasn't the hippest college station in the world and every third song we played had to be from that list. I liked Croce more than most of the other atist's records we were forced to spin so I didn't really have a problem airing his stuff.  I knew all about Croce, his eight top 40 hits in about eighteen months (including two #1s), and the tragic plane crash that took his life at age thirty. I also knew Croce was a local boy who spent most of his youth in Upper Darby, Pa, but what I didn't know is how highly respected he was as a singer-songwriter. I plead ignorance in that regard unless his reputation as a great, working class storyteller grew over the years and elevated him above the status of just being another 70s soft-rocker. He never became the rocking showman or icon Bruce Springsteen is but he mined much of

Kylie Minogue - Kylie Christmas (2015)

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Kylie Minogue is the biggest selling, Australian, female singer of all time so it's hard to believe it took her until 2015 to issue a seasonal album as her thirteenth full length release. Among the sixteen songs on the deluxe version of  Kylie Christmas  are four originals and a six song, bonus DVD. It's a fun set of  tunes that covers a lot of ground. Minogue becomes a female Michael BublĂ© on both "Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow." Each one employs a big band with strings. She succeeds on the rarely covered "Christmas Wrapping," the great Waitresses classic - featuring guest star Iggy Pop - with a fairly straightforward, rocking arrangement that doesn't stray too far afield from the original. Many perennial Christmas standards are pleasantly well done and should bring a smile to your face even though Minogue doesn't necessarily offer many fresh interpretations. The star proves she has eclectic tastes with a holiday deep track, the litt

Last Albums: Cream - Goodbye (1969)

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Cream was another victim of the infighting and creative differences that frequently plague and bring an end to many renowned bands, yet Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker managed to go out the way they began - by playing virtuosic rock that is still listenable today. Cream's last record, Goodbye , is brief by their standards. It clocks in at just over thirty minutes and to their credit it lacks the excessively long jams that were the trio's specialty and sometimes their Achilles heal. There are no side-long, fifteen minute drum solos, like Baker's "Toad," that will either bore or annoy you. The three live tracks from side one show the group to be at their blues-rock best with all three of them playing stupendous stuff. Clapton is his usual God-like self, but the real star is Bruce whose bass work is so dazzling that he proves to be more than a supporting player. On the 9:12, live take of "I'm So Glad" he's in the forefront as much as Clapt