Rhino Records has released three new box sets over the past couple weeks surveying the careers of Jane Siberry, Clannad and The Band.
The Jane Siberry Anthology: Love Is Everything, is a two-disc set that includes songs from her early Canadian albums as well as her four CDs for Reprise, her soundtrack and benefit album work and her subsequent output on her own Sheeba label. Siberry started out as a critically hailed folk singer, slowly graduating to more dense and complex full band arrangements with her Reprise debut, the phenomenal The Walking, and then shifted to a more strummy guitar base with Bound By The Beauty, a more techno attack on When I Was A Boy and a jazzier emphasis on Maria. The highlights from those discs, "The Walking (And Constantly)," "Red High Heels," "The Life is the Red Wagon" and the amusing "Everything Reminds Me of My Dog" appear here, as does her most well known song, "Calling All Angels,’ a duet with k.d. lang that appeared on When I Was a Boy as well as in the Wim Wenders film Until The End of the World. The box set includes 30 songs from her two-decade career and puts together her "Map of the World (Parts I-IV)" series of songs which appeared over the years on her albums No Borders Here, The Speckless Sky and Bound by the Beauty. The final track of the series, subtitled "Pilgrim," is written and sung in the same techno poetry scheme as "All the Candles in the World" from When I Was A Boy. And appears here for the first time. This box – which also includes an informative booklet with essays and a complete Siberry discography – acts as a perfect complement to City, a disc Siberry released a few months ago on her own label that compiles her duets with a wide range of artists, from Joe Jackson, k.d. lang and Peter Gabriel to Michael Brook, Patty Larkin and Takafumi Sotoma.
The Clannad Anthology: A Magical Gathering includes 34 tracks covering the Celtic band’s 30+-year career. The accompanying booklet features an array of pictures, album cover reproductions and a description of how the band rose from a family-based acoustic folk band in the early ‘70s to score in the ‘80s with the more modern "Theme From Harry’s Game" and subsequently to have the opportunity to work with artists ranging from U2’s Bono to Journey’s Steve Perry. It also includes tracks from when younger sibling Eithne (Enya) recorded with the band from 1978-1982.
When Robbie Robertson and The Band decided to call it a day in the late ‘70s, they put together a mega-swan song concert with a wide array of guest stars and released the result as both a three-album concert package and a movie filmed by Martin Scorsese. Now both products have been tweaked, remastered and re-issued. Rhino’s four-disc reissue of The Last Waltz live album includes an entire album’s worth of material that didn’t see release on the original, as well as revisions to the edits of some songs that were trimmed on the original release for vinyl space limitations, not artistic desire. The result is a 54-box set including the band’s classic tracks "Up on Cripple Creek," "The Shape I’m In," "Life is A Carnival," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and collaborations with Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris and more.
The Big Room
Teen stars take note: this young Norwegian teen duo – who first hit the scene at 15 years old in 1999 with the "Don’t Say You Love Me" single from the Pokemon movie – has the deal down pat. Young, clean, vibrant harmonies, big choruses, catchy energetic hooks…M2M (Marit Larsen and Marion Raven) make high school love songs sound fresh again to jaded adults. The girls (now 17 and 18) sound just a little fuller voiced and more mature than on their first album, coming off as a chirpier version of The Bangles on some songs ("Everything") or of a young Olivia Newton-John on others (as on the sweet, piano-augmented "Wanna Be Where You Are"). Following tours and concerts with fellow teen idols like Hanson and BBMAK, the duo’s second album sounds even more slick and solid than their bubblegum sweet 2000 debut, Shades of Purple.
"Everything" opens the disc and bounces along to a lovelorn lyric about losing love, while "Miss Popular" rips into the difficulties of high school peer popularity. With a bit more depth is "Jennifer," which explores the grudging respect and yet bitter jealousy of the singer towards a porcelain-fine girl named Jennifer who has the attention of her boy. The album caps off with the bittersweet guitar-strummed hymn "Eventually," a love song about holding hands and pledging "no more goodbyes" that’s stirringly beautiful in its naivete.
M2M have crafted a perfect sugar-pop album in The Big Room, full of catchy choruses and sweet harmonies. This is aural frosting that’s irresistible.