The Eagles have a new single on the charts, a year after celebrating the 30th anniversary of their first hit, “Take it Easy.” The new harmony-rich track, “Hole In The World” is the one new offering on their new two-CD set, Eagles, The Very Best of. The new collection offers 33 songs, from “Take It Easy,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “The Best of My Love” to “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Hotel California,” and “Heartache Tonight.” The limited edition package also includes a DVD with the video for “Hole In The World,” and a short behind-the-scenes documentary of their Farewell Tour.
Columbia’s Legacy arm has issued a disc titled Johnny Cash: Artist’s Choice that can be subtitled “spend an hour with Johnny Cash’s record collection.” This isn’t a Johnny Cash album, but rather a collection of some of his favorite artists and songs. Based on a telephone interview with Cash before his death, 14 songs were chosen. The liner notes give brief explanations from Cash from that interview about what he liked about the songs, which include Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues,” Johnny Horton’s “North To Alaska,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Highway Patrolman” and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” among others.
Speaking of Bob Dylan, the Legacy label has also just unleashed a major reissue project from the seminal singer-songwriter. Fifteen of Dylan’s albums for Columbia Records, from 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan to 2001’s Love and Theft have all been remastered for play on surround sound “Super Audio” CD systems and reissued both individually and as a boxed set.
The discs are dual-layered, which means they’re supposed to be playable on both “Super Audio” enabled and regular CD player systems, and I reviewed copies of Bringing it All Back Home (1965), Blonde on Blonde (1966) and Blood on the Tracks (1975) on my car stereo and IBM computer CD player with excellent effect. Even without the “surround sound” element of the remix, these recordings sound fresh and pristine, with organ and guitar parts glimmering in the mix that I don’t recall from listening to my old scratchy LPs and worn cassette tapes of Dylan’s classic catalogue. A word of warning however. When I put these discs in my old Onkyo component CD deck at home, as well as in my relatively new Panasonic DVD player, the dual layer discs could not be read properly, resulting in a fuzzy, distorted playback. I had hoped to get a glimpse of the power of the surround mix, since I’ve set up a multi-speaker home system (though not a true surround system), but I guess I’ll just have to wait to hear the true “presence” of these discs until I update my CD player!
Listening to these discs in my car over the past week, however, was like having Dylan sitting in the back seat playing. From the urgent harmonica breaths of “Tangled Up In Blue” and Shelter From The Storm” (Blood on the Tracks) to the tight shuffling snares of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and the exaggerated drawls of “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” (Blonde on Blonde) to his first “electric” folk rock in Bringing It All Home’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Maggie’s Farm” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” (covered recently in a great arrangement by Brian Ferry) these songs remain as powerful today as they were three and four decade ago.
New Sacred Cow
I’ve been carting this one around all summer, because while the album as a whole didn’t wow me, there was a track or two worth hearing. Fans of The Cars should seek this disc out for its first regular track, “Freetime,” a raucous mix of synthesizer rhythms that instantly brings to mind The Cars’ classic “Don’t Tell Me No.” The next track, “Man Fading” turns away however from that “snap” to build a sinuous reggae dub beat for its allure.
Kenna creates an evocative mix of techno snap and smooth vocal layers throughout New Sacred Cow, bringing to mind a host of ‘80s synth bands, from Duran Duran to Cutting Crew. Unfortunately, as the album wears on, the songs seem to blend into each other without distinction. “Freetime” is easily the best, most memorable track here, and the regular album winds down on a similar note with the staccato effects of “Siren” before the quieter piano-based ballad “Love/Hate Sensation” ends it all.