Dire Straits hit the peak of its career 20 years ago with the release of the Brothers in Arms album. The disc hit big with "Money for Nothing" (featuring a guest appearance by Sting) and went on to score with "So Far Away" and "Walk of Life." Warner Bros. now has reissued a 20th anniversary edition of the disc. Unlike other reissues, this one has no bonus tracks. However, it is a two-sided CD, featuring the regular mix of the album on one side, and a 5.1 Surround Sound DVD on the flip side.
Digging back, Rhino has released an updated version of the classic early '70s Chicago quadruple album, Chicago at Carnegie Hall. The original release featured every Chicago song recorded to that point played live and three posters. The new version includes re-creations of the posters, the original four albums of material (on three CDs), and a fourth CD of bonus tracks from the Carnegie Hall sessions. Included are early hits "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is," "Questions 67 and 68," "Make Me Smile," "Colour My World," "25 or 6 to 4," and more.
Chicago nouveau New Wavers OK Go are back this week with a second album, following the catchy 2002 self-titled debut. Oh No is a worthy follow-up, though it doesn't quite match the volume of bubblegum hooks that grinned off the first disc.
The CD opens with "Invincible," a solid dose of angular guitars and snarling vocals, with a healthy mix of humor. The song likens a girl to a superhero and backup vocals beg "please, use your powers for good."
"Do What You Want" follows, with a cymbal-chiming, guitar riff as singer Damian Kulash begs "c'mon, c'mon/ do what you want/ what could go wrong/ c'mon c'mon."
"Here It Goes Again," opens with a punchy riff and a machine-gun vocal that would have made Elvis Costello smile 25 years ago. That's the vibe that OK Go consistently mines — turn-of-the-'80s skinny tie punk-pop. For example, "A Million Ways" recounts all the things a woman does that are cruel with a hint of the English ska movement of the late '70s/early '80s. The opening to "A Good Idea at the Time" sounds like it was lifted from the Cars' classic Candy-O album. The rest of the disc nods to a host of other crunch-pop New Wave bands of the early '80s.
While slower tracks do bog the album down a bit, such as the falsetto spurned-lover songs "Oh Lately, It's So Quiet" and "Maybe, This Time," the best cuts rev things up fast.
"Television, Television" is the punchiest, as well as the most furiously played song on the disc, as Kulash denigrates the tube for its endless menu of voyeuristic delights ("look at the hottie in the tight jeans…look at the pop stars…give me death and demolition…oh television").
The CD closes with "The House Wins," a jaded indictment that is as catchy as it is bitter ("the house always wins/you don't have to be alone to be lonely/you might as well give in").
The band is currently on tour with labelmates the Redwalls, though a Chicago concert date has not been set.
The Redwalls take the Beatles influence thing just a little too far. While Oasis struck it big with an early Beatles feel, Chicago's Redwalls sound like a Beatles cover band that decided to write original songs "in the style of."
From the opening jangle of "Robinson Crusoe," the band's major label debut sounds like a rediscovered 1965 recording.
That song encompasses some foot-tapping horn riffs, before slipping into the strumming guitars of "Thank You," which opens with a David Bowie "Ziggy Stardust" feel before dipping back into Lennon-esquedom on the chorus ("Thank you/for loving me/because you and me/are gonna be/all right").
"Build a Bridge" introduces piano chords to the mix, as it offers a gospel-influenced sing-along ("build a bridge, you bring both sides together").
"Back Together" adds a dose of the Eastern psychedelic that characterized the later works of the Beatles, But for the most part this is a Merseybeat album that's about 40 years out of time.
The problem isn't that it's not a good take on the style. The Redwalls have got the sound down, and you'll find yourself singing along to some of these tracks. The problem is, you won't find yourself doing that enough as the CD wears on. There's no breakout single here that works within the nostalgic sound but screams "hey, look at my can't-get-enough-of-me pop brilliance." Instead, it just screams "hey, doesn't this sound a lot like the early Beatles?"
If you want a disc that reminds you of the Brit-pop invasion of the '60s, this'll do it. You just won't find yourself screaming and fainting like the Beatles fans did back then.