Huey Lewis and the News have been out of the pop chart limelight, but if you're feeling nostalgic for that unique blend of soulful, horn-punctuated pop, their new disc, Live at 25, is worth a spin. The band remains a crack performance combo, and Lewis' voice has worn well over the past decades — his always slightly raspy, everyman delivery is strong as the group rolls through hits such as "The Heart of Rock & Roll," "I Want a New Drug," "If This Is It," "The Power of Love" and "(Too) Hip to Be Square." There's also a separate DVD available, if you're interested in seeing what their stage presence is like these days.
RCA has teamed up with the Legacy label to unearth some early John Denver albums. The new release of Rhymes & Reasons, Denver's first folk-rock recording for RCA in 1969, marks the first time the album has been available on CD. It includes his hit "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and some bonus tracks. A new edition of his first Greatest Hits CD, covering his 1969-1973 output, (and including "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane") also offers bonus tracks, as does the reissue of his country-celebrating 1974 studio album Back Home Again that offers "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," "Matthew," "Annie's Song" and "Sweet Surrender."
Big Bang Theory
Styx is back with a new studio CD that started life thanks to a lark — recording an acoustic studio version of its own "Blue Collar Man" in the old Chess Records studio in Chicago.
That went over well, and when a subsequent recording and substantial Internet downloading of a live version of the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" took off, the band decided to pull together a dozen old classics from other bands and commit them to digital record, with themselves at the instruments.
While the new version of "Blue Collar Man" is a plodding take on the song, with a touch of blues piano (most of the spark that made it a hit on Styx's late '70s hit album Pieces of Eight is missing), the band donated all proceeds to the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation, and has included it at the end of the new disc.
The disc opens with the live recording of "I Am the Walrus," (recorded last fall in Oregon), and also covers tracks from Dixon, Jethro Tull, Jimi Hendrix, Stephen Stills and more.
While the experience was undoubtably a fun one for the band, and it ably covers tracks such as The Who's "I Can See for Miles," The Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City" and Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home," the question of "why?" remains.
Rather than reinterpret these old songs to sound Stygian, the band has transformed itself into a crack cover act — Styx sounds like the bands they're covering, rather than making these songs sound like "Styx" offerings.
If you love old '70s rock and are a dyed-in-the-wool Styx fan, you will enjoy this album. If you're looking for a musical statement from a band that once defined a genre, look elsewhere.
The only statement this disc makes is that the remaining members of Styx are very, very qualified to play old classic rock songs in a suburban bar.