Box Sets:

Stevie Nicks
The Enchanted Works of Stevie Nicks

This three-disc box set is a beautiful collection spanning Nicks' three-decade career. From "Long Distance Winner," a track rescued from a long forgotten pre-Fleetwood Mac Buckingham/Nicks album to a previously unreleased Warren Zevon-penned song (and the first single from the box set) recorded a decade ago in "Reconsider Me," this set collects a wide range of Nicks music. The classic hits from her six solo albums like "Leather and Lace," "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" and "Stand Back" are here, as are  non-Nicks album duets with Kenny Loggins ("Stop Draggin' My Heart Around") John Stewart ("Gold") and 18 other songs which have never appeared on a Nicks album, including b-sides, live tracks and demo recordings. There is a 64-page booklet that goes along with the set and includes an introduction from Nicks, scads of photos, and full lyrics to all the songs.

Various Artists 
Have A Nice Decade: The '70s Pop Culture Box

Even more impressive than the Nicks box is the latest collection from Rhino mining the kitsch and classics of the '70s. This is a seven-CD box with a 92-page book inside.

The set boils down the contents of the label's 25-CD Have A Nice Day: Super Hits of the '70s and 20-volume Didn't It Blow Your Mind: Soul Hits of the '70s as well as offers some previously uncollected (by Rhino) songs of the platform shoes decade. Songs range from The Commodores' "Brick House," Bay City Roller's "Saturday Night" and Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle" to Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show's "The Cover of Rolling Stone," Paper Lace's "The Night Chicago Died" and Todd Rundgren's "Hello, It's Me." Many of these tracks will be more familiar by their titles than their artists — who remembers the singers behind "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)," "Ride Captain Ride," "Fly Robin Fly," "Put Your Hand In The Hand" "Signs," "One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)," "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)," "Magic,"  or "Fooled Around and Fell In Love"? If you could name the singers of all of the above, you get an honorary doctorate in '70s Pop Music.  In any case, all those songs and a stack of others (a total of 161 songs) appear on this set, which will likely make you weep — either in pain or nostalgic pleasure.
I'm not saying which road it sent me down.


Concert Comebacks:

Last week, I wrote about CMC, the label that seems intent on bringing back the careers of '60s-'80s artists like Christopher Cross, Pat Benatar, and Deep Purple. The label has just  released a new disc by The Fixx, who appeared Monday at Chicago's House of Blues. Elemental offers no sharply realized "new sound" songs like  the band's seminal "Saved by Zero" or "One Thing Leads To Another"  to make the listener ask "how could they have kept silent for so long?" but it's a good mid-tempo rock album that old-time fans will want to hear. This week, the label has also released  Heaven Forbid, a new CD by Blue Oyster Cult, who are scheduled to appear at Hobart's J.C. in Hobart, IN on July 5. CMC is also promoting Eddie Money and Loverboy, who released albums on the label last year. They are appearing at Arlington Heights' "Frontier Days" on July 2nd and 3rd, respectively.


The summer movie soundtracks are currently sparring in their annual fight to gain pop chart (and hit single sales) dominance. I've mentioned the Godzilla soundtrack previously; this week, a brief look at the X-Files and Can't Hardly Wait CDs:

Music From the Motion Picture Can't Hardly Wait, on Elektra, is an eclectic affair, ranging from a heavy dose of lightweight rap, some current alternative rock hits and even an old heavy metal hit. It all makes for a pretty good listen, opening with Third Eye Blind's remix of their song "Graduate" and ending with Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City." In between are The Replacements' horn-happy oldie "Can't Hardly Wait," Parliment's classic funky "Flashlight," a new contemplative beauty from Matthew Sweet ("Farther Down"), recent singles from Blink 182 ("Dammit") and Feeder (their Smashing Pumpkins-esque "High"), Brougham's infectious rap "I Walked In" and Smash Mouth's current hit, a reworking of the old Four Seasons song "Can't Get Enough of You Baby," which sounds like the Psychedelic Furs covering The Colourfield. There are also bland filler songs from Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, Dog's Eye View and Black Lab.

I expected a lot more out of The X-Files: The Album on Elektra. Given the subject matter and reputation of the "X-Files," I was expecting a soundtrack filled with the kind of cool, eerie and inventive music that have made David Lynch's soundtracks such an evocative joy. Instead, this disc just delivers more songs from the current crop of popular bands, without, apparently, any thought given to supporting the mystery of the movie itself. Filter opens it with a high voltage guitar smashing of the classic Harry Nilsson ballad "One" (you remember it - "one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do/two can be as bad as one it's the lonliest number since the number one...") Sting covers himself yet again, with a reggae execution (as in slaughter) of "Invisible Sun" while teamed with Aswad. The Cardigans deliver a forgettable and mildly moody "Deuce," and Sarah McLachlan's "Black" and Bjork's "Hunter" are remixed. Better Than Ezra offers a funky electronic-backed "One More Murder" which hints strongly of U2 influence and The Cure clock in with a typically laidback shambling beat track in "More Than This" (not the Roxy Music song). The surprises here come from Ween, Foo Fighters and Oasis' Noel Gallagher.  Ween contributes "Beacon Light," a song that, instead of working in the trademark Ween weird world (which would have suited) is instead a fairly straightforward rock track, with hints of Beatles "I Am The Walrus" psychedelia and glam rock attitude a la Ziggy Stardust. The Fighters craft a warm, airy mix of guitars and heartache in "Walking After You," a perfect little ballad (still not mysterious, but it's a nice changeup for them). Gallagher provides an amibient piano-drums-and-rain sounds instrumental track with "Teotihuacan," which, aside from the Dust Brothers remix of the "X-Files" theme, is the only thing on here that shows that the artist actually paid some mind to what venue the song was being contributed to.