Columbia's Legacy label has reissued some classic Hollywood icon titles on CD.
A Tribute to James Dean includes music from his movies East of Eden, Giant and Rebel Without a Cause, and Marilyn Monroe's Let's Make Love revisits a movie soundtrack that includes her signature "My Heart Belongs to Daddy."
Legacy has also reissued two '70s albums from Johnny Mathis: I'm Coming Home and That's What Friends Are For, the latter an album of duets with Deniece Williams that includes bonus tracks such as "Emotion" and "Without Us," from TV's "Family Ties."
Slightly more modern is the soundtrack to Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle on Sony Music Sountrax. The disc includes 14 songs, most from the period of the original "Charlies Angels" TV series.
Bon Jovi clocks in with "Livin' on a Prayer," Journey with "Any Way You Want It," The Beach Boys with "Surfer Girl" and Andy Gibb with "I Just Wanna Be Your Everything." Pink and William Orbit start it off with a new techno track "Feel Good Time," and Nickelback teams up with Kid Rock to rock up Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting."
David Bowie re-records (and loses some of the immediacy of the original) his classic "Rebel Rebel," and Donna Summer closes it all with "Last Dance."
John Mellencamp has returned with a new album on Columbia, but this time around, he's not courting pop radio.
Mellencamp has always worn his love of American roots music on his sleeve, and this time out, he's set out to celebrate it on a full album. Trouble No More is a disc of old folk, blues and even Cajun-tinged songs that finds the singer leading his band through energetic back porch recordings of songs by Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, Hoagy Carmichael, Willie Dixon and more.
There are no "Little Pink Houses" here, and Nina Gordon's remake of Skeeter Davis' '60s hit "The End of the World" a couple years ago was more satisfying than Mellencamp's folksy, stripped down cover of it.
But for fans of traditional blues and folk, this is a collection of sometimes soulful, and often handclap-ready remakes.
Depeche Mode has always been known for creating dark, moody electronic pop, while at the same time churning out some upbeat danceable songs. Witness their hits "People Are People," Personal Jesus" and "I Feel You." After 23 years, singer David Gahan has finally stepped out to record his first solo disc, and synthesizer whiz Martin Gore clocks in with his second release, a follow-up to an '80s EP of cover songs.
Neither, however, offers much that's going to make their solo names turn up as household words.
Gahan opens Paper Monsters with its best track, "Dirty Sticky Floors," a deep bass groove memorializing his pre-rehab substance abuse days. A couple of slowpoke yawners follow, before a blues-based strut again revitalizes things with memories of drunken nights in "Bottle Living."
Aside from these memorials to the days of wine and hangovers, most of Paper Monsters finds Gahan crooning atop slow rhythms with little in the way of interesting melodies or lyrics. While I've always enjoyed his work with Depeche Mode, this one was a struggle to listen to twice.
While also a melancholy exploration, Martin Gore fares better on Counterfeit 2, choosing to eschew songwriting for song rewriting.
Still a challenging listen for fans of Depeche Mode's radio-oriented hits, Gore offers some interesting twists on both known and rare dark-at-their-heart songs from the likes of Julee Cruise, Nick Cave, Brian Eno, John Lennon, Lou Reed, David Bowie and Kurt Weill.
The CD opens with a moody synthesizer backbeat and a cover of the traditional folk song "In My Time of Dying." From there, Gore plods through an unneeded remake of David Essex's eulogy for a rock 'n' roll star ("look what they've done to the rock and roll clown") in "Stardust."
Gore's vocals are lighter, less dramatic than Gahan's, which serves this project well. Counterfeit 2 is designed to set a mood and explore the dim reaches of emotion, more than to spotlight a singer. With its attention to electronic-derived darkness, Counterfeit 2 actually sounds more like a Depeche Mode exercise than Gahan's disc, which brings in more guitars and organic instruments.
Gore does offer one non-techno-based track in his Tin Pan Alley piano and strings cover of Weill's "Lost in the Stars," a beautiful exercise that proves Gahan is not the only voice in Depeche Mode with charisma. Gore does a wonderful job of sounding like a classic vaudeville singer, with tremelo and emotion, bringing to mind fellow English techno vocalist Andy Bell (Erasure).
Gore explores a wide range of sonic tones and quiet rhythms on Counterfeit 2, while, at the same time, bringing out the darkest soul in his selection of songs.
One of the best tracks comes in Nick Cave's "Loverman," an edgy strut that warns "there's a devil crawling along your floor/with a trembling heart he's coming through the door."
This is not music for a party, but it is worth spending some late night hours with.