Last week, I wrote about the "We Are The '80s" hits collections from Rick Springfield and Loverboy, among others. The artists are on a "We Are the '80s" summer tour, and to capitalize further on that, the Legacy Records label has issued 25th anniversary editions of Springfield's and Loverboy's biggest albums.
Springfield's Working Class Dog album, originally released in 1981, includes the hits "Jessie's Girl" and "I've Done Everything for You" and is reissued with three bonus tracks, including the original demo version of "Jessie's Girl."
Loverboy's 1981 Get Lucky album offers the hits "Working for the Weekend," "When It's Over" and "Take Me to the Top." The new edition also offers four previously unreleased demos, including the demo of "Working for the Weekend."
Fans of Third Eye Blind can now get a hits set from the band. Third Eye Blind: A Collection, on Elektra/Rhino, offers their signature hit "Semi-Charmed Life" and 18 other tracks culled from the band's three studio albums.
Keyboardist Bruce Hornsby has had a long and storied career over the past 20 years since notching Top 5 hits as Bruce Hornsby and the Range with "The Way It Is" and "Mandolin Rain" in 1986. He eventually joined the Grateful Dead for a while and most recently has recorded as a solo artist. He's charted with "Every Little Kiss," "The Valley Road," "Look Out Any Window," "Across the River" (with Jerry Garcia) and "Lost Soul" (with Shawn Colvin). All of these songs and more are represented on a new box set Intersections 1985-2005 available through RCA/Legacy. Over the past two decades, Hornsby has co-written with Ricky Skaggs, Chaka Khan and Don Henley, contributed soundtrack music and has also worked with jazz greats Ornette Coleman and Branford Marsalis. Music from all these facets of his career are included on the box set, which offers 26 previously unreleased recordings. In addition to four CDs of music (which total 53 songs), there is also a DVD with 23 performances, most of which have never been issued before.
(out of 5)
I wrote about this Los Angeles trio just over a year ago when they were playing under the name Vagenius, and had released an astonishingly catchy and polished self-titled CD. Now, they've switched names, and issued another self-titled CD under their new name … but not much else has changed — which in this case, is a good thing. In fact, half of the songs from "Vagenius" are represented on "Hello Stranger." If you missed their previous incarnation, don't let this one slip by.
Juliette Monique Commagere is a sweetly enticing vocalist, and the band's sound owes a huge debt to the Cardigans. Commagere has an alluringly delicate lilt to her voice and all of the band's material has a poppy, sing-song quality that brings to mind that Swedish band that once ruled the charts with "Lovefool".
Hello Stranger also features a respectable pedigree; drummer Joachim Cooder is the son of well-known blues/rock/jazz guitarist Ry Cooder, who helped produce this disc.
But Hello Stranger sounds nothing like the elder Cooder's material — this is an electro-fresh combo of synthesizer, guitar and drums that rides shimimering melodies and retro-simple keyboard lines into bouncy, grab-your-ear harmonies that entice and beguile again and again over the course of this collection of 13 tracks.
Almost every song here deserves to be played over and over again on pop radio, from the dancy disco-driven "Take it to the Maxx" which was rescued and remixed from their "Vagenius" release to the shuffling contemplation of a broken relationship in "We Used to Talk" ("we used to talk/but we don't talk much anymore … sitting here in silence/and though I have tried it is hard to talk alone.")
It's a crime that this disc is out on a tiny independent label instead of a major record company that could get them heard more; with a little promotion behind them, Hello Stranger could be world-class saviors of hook-happy pop music. Look them up and hear for yourself at www.hellostranger.tv.
The band will be appearing for a concert with Nous Non Plus on Sept. 27 in Chicago, at The Double Door.