Columbiaís Legacy branch has pulled together a 34-track, four-CD box set from Herbie Hancock that is as avant-looking as the jazz piano master has been avant musically over the two decades the set spans. The Herbie Hancock Box includes a track-by-track summary by the artist himself that takes up much of the included booklet. In the pop world, Hancock is best known for his Ď80s eccentric jazz techno fusion masterpiece, "Rockit," (which appears here) but his prowess and combos that have included Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Lee Ritenour and more have pushed at the boundaries of pure jazz circles throughout the Ď70s and Ď80s period that this box covers.
Rhino Records has continued to reissue the phenomenal Elvis Costello catalogue. One of the amazing things about the labelís Costello reissues has been that each re-issued album includes a full CD of additional material recorded during the general time that the album was recorded and released. Thanks to the prolific Costello, many of these "bonus" discs include more songs Ė ranging from live cuts to B-sides to demo versions of the album tracks Ė than the actual albums included. The latest Costello discs to receive the re-issue treatment are 1979ís smash Armed Forces, 1982ís Imperial Bedroom, and 1991ís Mighty Like A Rose. The bonus disc with the Armed Forces album (which includes "Accidents Will Happen," "Goon Squad," and "Whatís So Funny ĎBout Peace, Love and Understanding?") includes live versions of "Alison, " "Watching the Detectives," "Accidents Will Happen" and "You Belong To Me," along with alternative versions and extra non-album tracks. The second disc of Mighty Like A Rose (which featured the deceptively upbeat hit "The Other Side of Summer") includes a number of unplugged and home demo versions of the albumís tracks as well as collaborations with Mary Coughlan and The Chieftains. Imperial Bedroom found Costello branching away from his usual manic pop flair into soul and country, and landed him a minor hit with "Man Out of Time," which is included in two different alternate takes on the second CD of bonus tracks.
Epicís Legacy branch has worked with Capitol to pull together The Essential Heart, a two-disc retrospective from Heart that shows the bandís evolution through the Ď70s, Ď80s and Ď90s. The first disc includes the bandís first incredible phase, when sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson penned rock masterpieces like "Crazy On You," "Magic Man," "Dreamboat Annie," "Barracuda," "Kick it Out," "Love Alive," "Heartless," "Even It Up," and more. It also includes live versions of "Unchained Melody" and Led Zeppelinís "Rock and Roll." The next disc is all about the bandís "second coming" that began in the mid-Ď80s when synthesizers and outside songwriters like Diane Warren overshadowed the guitars and internal songwriting talent that Heart made its name on originally. Included are the hits "What About Love?," "Never," "These Dreams," "Nothiní At All," "Alone," "Who Will You Run To," "All I wanna Do Is Make Love To You" and more.
Waiting For My Rocket To Come
Smart, romantic, funny, catchy Ė Jason Mraz strums a funky guitar and slips from reggae to Bo Diddley beats as he offers song after song of singular pop. "You and I Both" leads off with a gorgeous pop melody and a bittersweet breed of loss and love. The albumís centerpiece track comes in the funky bass and banjo plucks of "Curbside Prophet." Atop the banjo picking, Mraz manages to perform a singsong white boy rap thatís infectious and fun and even manages to mention Space Ghost, of all things, before leading into a singalong chorus: "Iím just a curbside prophet/with my hand in my pocket/and Iím waiting for my rocket yíall."
"The Boyís Gone" has that jazzy guitar and lightly tapped drum that people associate with hepcat clubs of the Ď60s, while in "The Remedy" he offers a slick, singsong groove with a verse that borders on rap and concludes in typically breezy patter: "I wonít worry my life away."
Sounding a lot like Jude (remember his 1998 cheeky hit "Rick James"?) with the occasional pure pop harmony sense of Crowded Houseís Tim Finn, Mraz offers a wonderfully easy, breezy debut album of solid folk-pop. Recommended.
Jason Mraz will open for the Dave Matthews Band at the United Center on December 13.