Psychedelic Furs, Berlin relive '80s, Fleetwood Mac gets reissued, Play offers bubblegum pop
Psychedelic Furs and Berlin pulled out the oldies last week at Chicago's House of Blues.
The sold-out house cheered to Terri Nunn's antics, as if "No More Words" and "Take My Breath Away" were current chart-toppers, as she mounted a security guard's shoulders and sung from the midst of the crowd, during one song.
She clearly thrived on the adulation of the fans, many of whom looked older than the band currently backing her up. Berlin has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity, thanks to a recent special VH-1-driven reunion of Nunn with her original '80s bandmates, who were not with her last week (she has toured and recorded with a different lineup over the past couple years).
Likewise, Psychedelic Furs singer Richard Butler seemed as excited as he's ever been to take the stage with his old mates, smiling through energetic renderings of their '80s standards "Love My Way," "The Ghost in You," "President Gas," "Pretty in Pink," "India" and more.
Butler's '80s stage persona was a distant, mysterious, twirling presence on stage. But these days, while still giving the audience the occasional dramatic hand-clasping spin, he prefers glad-handing the fans in the front row and exulting in the effect his old catalog has on the audience.
While the band is reportedly getting ready to record its first new studio album in more than a decade, it stuck to material from the early to mid-80s last week, even eschewing some of the strong material from its latter day albums.
Speaking of "classics," it's been more than 25 years since Fleetwood Mac released its seminal album Rumours, which went on to become the biggest selling album of the decade and spawned the hits "Second Hand News," "Dreams," "Don't Stop," "Go Your Own Way" and "You Make Loving Fun." Warner Bros. has reissued Rumours, as well as its follow-up, Tusk, and precursor, the self-titled Fleetwood Mac, in expanded special editions. All three include a second disc of bonus material.
Rumours' bonus material consists of rough recordings and outtakes of every song that appeared on the final album. Most of these sound fairly close to the final versions, but with some instrumental or vocal parts either more pronounced, or missing.
The disc also includes a couple of non-album, early demos and instrumental jam sessions. Rumours purists might be irritated to find "Silver Springs" has been interjected into the running order of the regular album's song lineup; the song was a popular single "B-side" that didn't appear on the original album.
The Tusk reissue, which includes "Sara" and the hit titletrack, follows a similar format to Rumours, with the original 20 songs from the double album tracked on a single CD, and a second CD of demos and rough takes of many of the album's final songs. Unlike Rumours, there are no demos of every song that appeared on the final release, but there are demos of songs that did not appear in the album, and single versions of "Think About Me" and "Sisters of the Moon."
The Fleetwood Mac disc (which spun off the hit "Rhiannon") doesn't have the treasure trove of outtakes of the other two. The single-disc reissue tacks on an untitled jam session and the single versions of four songs from the album at the end of the regular track listing.
Look for T-Bone Burnett and Joel and Ethan Coen to get nominated for another Grammy for their work on the soundtrack to the new movie The Ladykillers. Burnett and the Coens' previously took home multiple Grammys for the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. The celebratory Gospel music of The Soul Stirrers, The Venice Four, Donnie McClurkin, and more, truly set the atmosphere for the black comedy starring Tom Hanks. The soundtrack, out now on Columbia, features both timeless gospel music, as well as a touch of hip-hop, thanks to Nappy Roots.
Don't Stop the Music
Formed in 2002, Play is an all-girl group fronted by two sisters (one's husband a songwriter for Jessica Simpson and 98 Degrees). The group's chirpy sound, not surprisingly, is designed largely to appeal to teens. With sweetly polished vocals (and complexions) they're sure to succeed. The band relies a lot on cover songs — its EP last year featured a remake of Billie's "Honey to the Bee," and the first single from this disc pairs it with Aaron Carter to remake Bobby Brown's 1989 hit "Every Little Step."
While well-scrubbed remakes like Annie's "It's The Hard Knock Life" and the R&B classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," make this CD feel a bit easy and cheesy for an adult listener, there are a couple of upbeat bubblegum gems that belong on anyone's "songs of summer" compilation for this year.
"Evergirl" is an uplifting call to individuality. And the true standout on this disc is the title track, a solid party groove with a bouncing bassline, oscillating guitars and a siren-like call to dance: "don't stop the music/people keep on dancing/you can do it/baby come on." This one will stick in your head long after the album is over.
It's pure sugar, but sometimes that's just what the sweet tooth needs.