This week marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.
Rhino Records has released a commemorative DVD that celebrates some of the key moments of Elvis' career. The hourlong DVD, Elvis: The Great Performances — Center Stage Volume One includes clips of his early appearances on the Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen shows, as well as his first Hollywood screen test. There's also a brief, grainy clip of him with Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly in the early Sun Studio days, before they all became famous. The disc has minimal narration, moving quickly from clip to clip. It focuses largely on his mid-'50s performances, but also includes footage from his 1968 "comeback" TV special, and latter day '70s footage of his last performances, including him playing the piano and belting out a still-powerful "Suspicious Minds."
Other songs included are "Money Honey," "Hound Dog," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Love Me Tender," "King Creole," "Jailhouse Rock" and more.
There's now a "Collector's Edition" version of the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction on MCA that features four additional tracks from The Robins, Link Wray, Brothers Johnson and The Marketts, as well as an interview with director Quentin Tarantino, in addition to its classic offerings of Dick Dale's "Misirlou," Ricky Nelson's "Lonesome Town" and Urge Overkill's remake of "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon."
The soundtrack to the new beach movie Blue Crush is out on Virgin, and features fresh upbeat dance and reggae flavored tracks from Lenny Kravitz, Damian Marley, Beenie Man and Beth Orton, as well as a reconstructed version of Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" by Blestenation that has the rap remixers answering the vocals of the original Bananarama track. Also included are N.E.R.D.'s hooky "Rock Star," Nikka Costa's disco-ish "Everybody Got Their Something," Doves' "Firesuite" and a Fatboy Slim remix of Playgroup's "Front 2 Back."
Rhino Records continues its remaster/reissue campaign with the Chicago and Ramones catalogue. Each album that is reissued includes at least a couple of bonus tracks, and one of the Ramones discs includes an extra entire album's worth of demos and previously unissued tracks. Chicago's remastered V and VI (featuring the hits "Saturday in the Park" and "Feelin' Stronger Every Day") are the latest in the Chicago reissues. There are four new remastered Ramones titles covering the punk band's output from 1979-1984. The updated titles are Too Tough to Die, Subterranean Jungle, Pleasant Dreams and End of the Century. The latter disc includes their classics "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio" and "Rock 'n' Roll High School."
A decade ago, I went and saw one of IRS Records' then hot up-and-coming metal acts, Lillian Axe, at the venerable hard rock hangout of the Northwest Suburbs, The Thirsty Whale. The band was touring for its third album (and what remains one of my favorite '90s metal discs), Poetic Justice. Lillian Axe crafted a dramatic, chiming, harmony-strong metal sound, and put on an electric show back then, but after a couple of more years on the road, the band faded out, just like the hair metal fad that helped its career star rise.
Now, the band is back together and has released a double live album of a concert recorded in Houston in May. Appropriately titled Live 2002, the album (on Red and Gold Int.) features 21 songs, including its signature "True Believer," and two others from Poetic Justice and six from its followup (and what was to be its last major label release) Psychoschizophrenia, including the gentle, stirring ballad "The Day I Met You," which allows Steve Blaze to show off the cultured, controlled power of his voice.
Old fans should definitely seek this one out — the band sounds nearly as powerful today as it did a decade ago. For more information, check the Web site at www.lillianaxe.com.