Donovan fans can now get a full three-disc box set of the '60s singer's hits and favorites from Epic/Legacy. Try for the Sun: The Journey of Donovan offers 60 songs, with "Sunshine Superman," "Jennifer Juniper," "Hurdy Gurdy Man," "Mellow Yellow" and more, including previously unreleased and live tracks.
RCA has paired up with the Legacy label to unearth some classic Jefferson Airplane CDs. Newly reissued, each with a handful of bonus tracks, are the 30th anniversary edition of Red Octopus, which featured its mega 1975 hit "Miracles" and the 35th anniversary edition of the Paul Kantner/Grace Slick science fiction concept album, in collaboration with Jerry Garcia and David Crosby, Blows Against the Empire (issued as Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship).
Eric Clapton has been busy, lately. Last year, he released a blues tribute album Me and Mr. Johnson, and currently, he's on a widely heralded, historic reunion tour with his old '60s mates in Cream. But his latest solo album — and first CD of original studio material in five years — treads the familiar adult contemporary soulful pop path he's forged for the past couple of decades.
Back Home features a dozen tracks, five of which were penned by Clapton with creative collaborator Simon Climie. It also includes "Love Comes to Everyone," by the late George Harrison, the Spinners' "Love Don't Love Nobody" and a rousing R&B rendition of Stevie Wonder and Syretta Wright's "I'm Going Left." There are also songs by Vince Gill and Doyle Bramhall II.
The disc opens with one of its most (ironically) upbeat numbers, "So Tired," a song any parent with a new baby can identify with (it's a horn and soul celebration about being worn out from the stress of trying to keep up with everyday life while raising a family).
"Say What You Will" offers a light reggae beat and laidback soul celebration of finding true love and friendship in a life partner. Then comes the raucous party anthem of "I'm Going Left," filled with a chorus of gospel background singers as Clapton sings "I'm going left/til you lead me to the right/lead me to what is right."
Then it's a ballad break with the old-fashioned piano and guitar arpeggio hymn "Love Don't Love Nobody," before the guitar legend performs an easy-rambling cover of his old friend George Harrison's hit "Love Comes To Everyone."
"Lost and Found" offers a low, growling blues stomp, followed by a couple more easy listening R&B tracks before the disc ends with its title track, a slowly picked guitar ballad.
Back Home is a mellow album, filled with songs about love, celebration and contentment. It listens like a Christmas card update from an old friend — nothing shocking, jarring or sad here, just an easy conversation about life going on.
In a press release about the disc, Clapton himself says it completes a cycle of music he's been writing for 20 years:
"One of the earliest statements I made about myself was back in the late '80's, with Journeyman. This album completes that cycle in terms of talking about my whole journey as an itinerant musician and where I find myself now, starting a new family. That's why I chose the title. It's about coming home and staying home."
Even though, he adds, "I'll be out on the road again next year, playing this music."
Two Tons of Steel
Half cover versions of classics and half original, Two Tons of Steel-penned songs that sound like ol' fashioned '50s-'70s rockabilly country classics, the cowboy hat-wearing, San Antonio-based band offers an infectious dose of down-home playing on its eighth album, "Vegas."
Opening with the self-penned title track (which takes some musical cues from Elvis Presley's classic "Memphis, Tennessee"), the entire disc listens like a lost gem from the heyday of Memphis and Nashville's rockabilly past.
After the homage to the bright lights of "Vegas," the band strums through a Roy Orbison-esque ballad in "Drive You Home Tonite," before revving up the old pink Cadillac vibe and twanging through the classic country of "Your Kiss." The horns and romance of Cuba imbues the sultry "Havana Moon," and then it's rev up the tempo time for the classic sounding twist-and-shout rockabilly in "Unglued."
At the end of the disc, the band drops a couple of brilliant roots rock covers in The Ventures' surf guitar classic "Secret Agent Man" and a twangy run-through of The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated." They also have fun closing the album with the old standard "Red Hot" ("my girl is red hot/your girl is doodly squat").
If you like any of the cover songs, you'll love this album; it's a retro-twang party.