The soundtrack to the new jousting movie, A Knight's Tale, is out now on Columbia and features an array of decidedly non-medieval classic rock, from War's "Low Rider" to Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" to David Bowie's "Golden Years." There is also Queen's original "We Will Rock You," and a new version of its "We Are The Champions," with Robbie Williams on vocals. Other aritsts include Heart, Rare Earth, Sly & The Family Stone, and Third Eye Blind.

World War IIColumbia is also cashing in on the interest about World War II that this summer's "Pearl Harbor" movie will no doubt bring ("Pearl Harbor" – featuring Ben Affleck, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kate Beckinsale and Alec Baldwin – opens this weekend). The Words and Music of World War II is a new, two-CD set on Columbia that includes both popular songs from the period by Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Les Brown and more, as well as an array of sound clips of speeches and news reports featuring world leaders and prominent figures of the time, including legendary speeches by President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, President Truman, Gen. MacArthur and more. This is a must for history buffs.

  For falsetto fans, Rhino Records has just released a 51-song, two-CD set covering the career of Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons. In Season, The Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons Anthology includes "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," "Stay" and many more, including latter day Vallie solo hits like "Fallen Angel," and "Grease."

 

Kansas - Leftoverture Kansas
Leftoverture(reissue)

Masque(reissue)

(Columbia/Legacy)


There was a time when there were no videos to set the stage for a song, or to alter the public's perception of a band. There was a time when bands created intricate music longer than 3½ minutes – you had to really pay attention to more than just the chorus. There was a time when there were no synthesizer effects and drum machine loops. There was a time when creative bands put together "headphone" music.

People denigrate the '70s as musically vapid, forgetting that disco was not the only ticket. Cover art was bigger, and thus allowed artists more freedom to create. And whether artists were ugly or beautiful didn't play into the popularity — there were no videos, so it was the music that mattered.

Kansas - MasqueKansas was a band that grew to fame in this period. Not a particularly "pretty" group, it was relentlessly inventive, taking heartland rock to a new high, mixing classical orchestration and pomp with bar-ready rock guitar riffs and spiritually leaning lyrics. It wrote about enigmas, and in 1976, it broke through with its fourth album, Leftoverture, and it's still-widely played enigmatic anthem "Carry On Wayward Son." An amazing amalgam of bass, timpani, grand keyboard pomp, a choir and heavy rock guitar, Leftoverture remains a triumph of the rock age. Now Columbia's Legacy arm has reissued Leftoverture and the album that preceded it, Masque, with bonus tracks.

Unlike the latter-career Kansas reissues of Vinyl Confessions and Audio-Visions a while back, a great deal of care went into re-releasing these discs. New liner notes that put the albums in historical perspective have been written by Rolling Stone's David Wild, and Kansas producer Jeff Glixman was called in to remaster the discs. Glixman's work shows — the sound quality is truly stepped up a notch.

The original discs sounded good, but now vocals and drums and everything in the mix is crisp and clean and bright as never before. The expanded Leftoverture includes live recordings from 1977 and 1978 of "Carry on Wayward Son" and "Cheyenne Anthem."

It's refreshing to go back in time with these CDs to hear the music again … in a time before there were CDs …in a time when songs were encouraged to run long in all their pomp and glory.