Sunday, January 5, 2014



Rkives - Rilo Kiley - I only became interested in Rilo Kiley from Jenny Lewis and her solo work, so it figures that my first Rilo Kiley record would be their post-breakup rarities compilation.  Despite the hodgepodge origin of being a collection of B-sides, demos and unreleased songs, I think it really hangs together as a satisfying album.  Satisfies any jones for indie pop.

Armchair Theatre/ELO LIVE/Zoom - Jeff Lynne - A triple threat from the master himself.  Now I can finally have 1990's "Armchair Theatre" on CD to go with my cassette and vinyl lp.  A thrilling album of perfect Lynne magic, though I was bummed by this reissue's paucity of bonus tracks.  Same for 2001's "Zoom," the album where he reclaimed the ELO name.  It features Lynne's incomparable production, but I was hoping for more extras beyond the two bonus tracks.  The real treat is "ELO Live," taken from a show recorded at the outset of the aborted "Zoom" tour.  While it was released on DVD at the time, this is the first time on CD with four songs not on the DVD as well as two additional studio tracks.

Live at the Academy of Music: 1971 - the Band - I've never really gotten into the band, try as I might.  Just a little too rough around the edges for me to take a lot in one sitting.  My pal Ted has tried for years to get my interested.  With this release (a gift from Ted), I finally get it: the kicking band, the harmonies, the heart and personality.  It's almost too rock solid in that it may be all the Band I'll ever need (and I only have the 2 disc, there's a 4 CD version).  When Dylan comes in for the closing songs, to me it's like, who's this guy?  Get out of here! (sorry, Ted).  Not that I'm not a Dylan fan.   Vol. 10 of Dylan's bootleg series was in this slot until it got bumped by this late entry.

The Complete RCA Albums/Flash Harry - Harry Nilsson - I've avoided many of these 'complete' box sets that have been coming out recently.  I don't want to overload on an artist.  This one was different - the clever whimsy, the rich tone of his voice, and I liked the few albums I already had.  The set begins with his amazing RCA debut (his second album) "Pandemonium Shadow Show" and the first 7 discs showcase his best work.  1974's "Pussy Cats" was produced by John Lennon, and sounds just like Lennon's "Mind Games" album, even with Nilsson doing Lennon-esque vocals.  This is followed by three lackluster efforts, only reviving for "Knillssonn," his RCA swan song.  His final album, "Flash Harry" isn't included in this set, but was released separately in 2013.  Surprisingly, it's not only the album's first time on CD but also it's first US release!  The RCA box is rounded out with three discs of demos and rarities, for a total of 17 discs.  Personally, I've spread it out over several months.  I don't want to burn out on Nilsson!

On the Air: Live at the BBC, Volume 2 - the Beatles - Can't leave a top 5 without the best band in the world.  While this lacks the variety of Volume 1's covers that never made it to albums, it's still a lot of fun.  The lads' cheeky on-air personalities are at full steam, and they really are live at the BBC.  These aren't pantomime records, they are playing new versions of their recorded songs for the BBC audience.  Though they did have the opportunity for multiple takes, it's still the closest we'll get to hearing what the early fabs sounded like "live" without the audience din.

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