Back in the '70s, Harry Nilsson was one of the Beatles' favorite songwriters, and he managed to score eccentric pop hits with songs such as "Coconut," as well as with heartfelt ballads like "Without You."
Now, RCA/Legacy has reissued some of his seminal albums, Son of Schmilsson and A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, on CD with bonus tracks, as well as a hits collection with the above-mentioned songs. Everybody's Talkin': The Very Best of Harry Nilsson offers 14 tracks, eight of which reached the Top 40.
On a more modern rock note, Maverick has teamed up with reissue label Rhino to provide a greatest hits collection from '90s grunge rockers Candlebox. The Best of Candlebox offers 15 tracks, including "Far Behind," "You," and "Change." The band has regrouped for the first time in nearly a decade to perform its catalog live, and will stop in Chicago, and at Milwaukee's Summerfest, in early July.
The voice of Johnny Cash is timeless, and Columbia's Legacy label has just issued a two-disc album of his performances that have lived outside of time for more than 30 years. Personal File is a collection of acoustic recordings Cash made in his home studio and filed away in a storage room. There are Tin Pan Alley hits, traditional folk and gospel songs and originals, none of which have been released before. Most were recorded in 1973, but others were taped between 1974-1982.
You can't help but be moved by the confessional nature of these 49 intimate recordings from a voice that seems both world-weary and strong, lost in the wilderness and yet quietly assured of his place.
Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs
Under the Covers Vol. 1
I can't think of a better match made in heaven, but sealed on earth, than to have Bangles singer Susanna Hoffs team up with guitar-pop hero Matthew Sweet. The ironic thing is that they were brought together by comedy; they appeared as Sid 'n' Susie as part of the band Ming Tea in both Austin Powers movies and soundtracks.
What started as a lark, eventually gave birth to this delectable album recorded in Sweet's home studio.
Both Sweet and Hoffs have made their careers based on the harmonic pop sounds originally crafted in the '60s, and now, with Under the Covers, they've chosen 15 of their favorite tracks from that era to make their own.
While they don't take any risks with the arrangements, listening to the two harmonize on classics like Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," The Who's "The Kids Are Alright," The Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing," Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" The Stone Ponys' "Different Drum" and the best and last moment on the disc, The Bee Gees' gloriously harmonic "Run To Me," is the aural equivalent of licking cake frosting.
The "ba-ba-ba"s of The Zombies' "Care of Cell #44" are like listening to The Beach Boys performing with The Partridge Family. Simply sonic sugar.
It's not a perfect disc because some songs have been played to death and I just don't want to hear anyone sing them again. I've always found the Beach Boys' "The Warmth of the Sun" boring, and Sweet and Hoffs don't change that opinion.
And there are also songs that have had other great covers made of them you can't help but thinking of when listening to them reinterpreted here.
But try to find a more heart-wrenchingly beautiful cover of Fairport Convention's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" (thanks to Hoffs' perfectly vulnerable lead vocals) or "Monday Monday" (originally recorded by The Mamas and the Papas). And their Spanish horn-accented cover of Love's "Alone Again Or" sounds like it could have nested perfectly with the Bangles' cover of "A Hazy Shade of Winter" almost 20 years ago.
If you are a sucker for sweet harmonies and classic guitar pop, this could easily be your favorite album of the year. Don't miss it!
(To hear samples visit www.shoutfactory.com. Hoffs will play in Chicago July 8 with The Bangles at the House of Blues.)