Two voices and an acoustic
guitar. In the right hands, that minimalist performance combination can prove
electric, and Simon & Garfunkel took the vocal duo legacy of The
Everly Brothers to new heights in the late ‘60s. Columbia’s Legacy arm has just
released a time capsule from the era: Simon & Garfunkel: Live From New
York City, 1967. The previously unreleased disc – their only official live
recording from the ‘60s — captures an intimate performance recorded at
the New York Philharmonic Hall on January 22, 1967, and includes 19 perfectly
harmonized classics, from "Homeward Bound," "The 59th
Street Bridge Song ( Feelin’ Groovy)" and "Richard Cory" to "A
Hazy Shade of Winter," "I Am A Rock" and "The Sound of Silence."
Paramount Pictures is celebrating its 90th birthday by releasing Memorable Songs, a 21-song collection of songs that were often both major hits and underscored major moments of various Paramount films. The disc is heavily weighted towards more recent hits from the studio’s films (all but five tracks come from the last 22 years). Included are Bob Dylan’s "Things Have Changed," (from Wonder Boys), U2’s "Elevation" (Tomb Raider), Paul McCartney’s "Vanilla Sky" (Vanilla Sky), Celine Dion’s "My Heart Will Go On" (Titanic), The Byrds’ "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)" (Forrest Gump), The Righteous Brothers’ "Unchained Melody" (Ghost), Kate Bush’s "This Woman’s Work" (She’s Having A Baby), Berlin’s "Take My Breath Away" (Top Gun), Kenny Loggins’ "Footloose" (Footloose), Irene Cara’s "Flashdance…What A Feeling" (Flashdance), Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes’ "Up Where We Belong" (An Officer and A Gentleman), Bee Gees’ "Stayin’ Alive" (Saturday Night Fever), Frank Sinatra’s "All The Way" (The Joker Is Wild) and many more.
Even Green Day’s goof-off, castoff tracks are worth a listen.
Shenanigans collects 14 odds and sods on this collection of rarities, B-sides and covers, and shows the breadth of their musical palette, from their trademark three-chord drum-pounding punk rants ("Suffocate") to homages to their rockabilly roots (the manic Bo Diddley-beated "Don’t Wanna Fall In Love") to an exploration of Batman/James Bond style surf rock (the instrumental "Espionage" from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me).
"I Want To Be On T.V.," (originally the B-side to "Geek Stink Breath") clocks in at just over a minute and takes the band into Sex Pistols punk ground, while "Outsider" finds the band covering The Ramones’ old track with a smooth Green Day polish (this one’s due out on a Ramones tribute later this summer). The disc also includes a by-the-book cover of The Kinks’ "Tired of Waiting For You."
While most of the collection is taken from B-sides and compilation discs, it also includes the unreleased "Ha Ha You're Dead" which ends the collection and sounds like a high-octane college fight song. The Japanese version of the CD also includes the unreleased "DUI".
Following last year’s greatest hits album, this CD smacks of "contractual obligation" (especially since their last studio album didn’t sell nearly as well as its predecessors). Nevertheless, Shenanigans offers some crucial crunch rock for lovers of the rockin’ intersection of Sex Pistols/Ramones-era punk and classic Everly Brothers harmony. It’s not a "brilliant," groundbreaking album, nor does it hide any lost hits on the order of "Longview," "Time of Your Life" or "Welcome to Paradise," but Shenanigans offers plenty of pop-punk appeal and, even though it’s an odds and ends collection, stands up as a more powerful release than many discs of all-new material from the current crop of punk-pop copycats.
Home Town Hero
Home Town Hero
Speaking of the new breed of punk-pop rockers, Home Town Hero takes a lot of their cues from Green Day, and like the first couple of Green Day discs, they manage to rave their way from one furiously catchy track to the next on their self-titled debut.
"Bleeds In Blue" opens with a retro guitar twang and sing-song vocal before bringing in a heavy Smoking Popes-style crunch-riff. The echoing, pounding drum opener of "Questions" betrays the band’s Green Day influences without question, as does "Twelve Ounce"’s simple-but-effective distortion riff augmented by acoustic guitar flourishes.
Home Town Hero reaches its stride on "Who’s To Say," which opens with a ‘50s rockabilly flavor and moves into a rollicking chorus of "hey-yeah"s and "la-la-la"s. With yearning falsettos and tremelo rich guitars, the band slows things down for a bit on "Everything Out of Water" but then kicks back in with the most intense jam on the disc, the screaming "Run Right Through."
The latter half of the disc slows down a little from its frenetic beginning, but overall, Home Town Hero spotlights a new band with a solid knack for writing catchy chorus hooks and simple but undeniably effective guitar jams. Watch for these guys!