Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Jackson Browne - 2020-2021 Live From Home Series, Vol.2

Jackson Browne

2020-2021 - various dates
Updated - Live From Home Series Vol. 2
(Additional performances recorded from his home during the pandemic, some for various charitable causes, others just for fans, and made available to the public on Youtube)
Mp3 @ 320 kbps

Last summer I posted a compilation of songs from Jackson Browne that were recorded Live from his Home and made available on YouTube throughout the pandemic. Well, here are more songs to add to that collection, as Jackson continued to release additional Live From Home songs throughout last year. I was just going to add them to the original collection, but since there were several, I thought it would be better to put them into a new post so all could see it and download if interested. Thus, I've titled this Vol. 2, but really it  should just be added to the end of the previous collection to make one comprehensive compilation, and I have continued the numbering (starting at #16) to coincide with the earlier collection (I included a bonus track of 'My Clevelend Heart' in the earlier collection which was from a TV show and not Live From Home, and since a new Live From Home version of My Cleveland Heart was included in the new batch, I have replaced that #16 with the new collection). So, these were all recorded and/or posted to Youtube after the my initial collection (July 2021), with the exception of 'Something Fine' which actually was recorded much earlier (02/06/2011), but that was still recorded from home and was made available to the public within the 2020-2021 window included here.  Once again, some of these were performances made for charitable causes, but many appear to be just songs Jackson performed directly for Youtube broadcast. And Once again, these intimate performances highlight the greatness of Jackson and his music, as well as his excellent current band members. Anyway, here is an additional installment of his Live From Home Series, with the total making a fine concert-length performance. Great stuff!

Tracklist:
16. Pretty Little Shoes (John Lee Ziegler)
17. These Days
18. Something Fine
19. I'm Alive
20. My Cleveland Heart
21. Giving That Heaven Away
22. All Good Things
23. A Child in These Hills
 
Details:
Tracks 16-17, solo, 12/13/20 for Steve Earle's 6th Annual John Henry's Friends Benefit Concert, proceeds go to the Keswell Institute, serving the special needs of autistic children and young adults.
Track 18, solo, recorded 2/16/2011 for Fretboard Journal, but only recently (01/21) made available on Youtube
Track 19, w/Val McCallum (lead guitar), Jeff Young (organ, vocals), and Mauricio Lewak (percussion), posted 8/14/21
Track 20, w/Val McCallum (lead guitar, vocals) and Kevin Smith (percussion), posted 7/27/21
Track 21, w/Val McCallum (lead guitar), Jeff Young (organ), posted 9/2/21
Track 22, w/Greg Leisz (slide guitar), posted 9/18/21
Track 23, w/full band, Greg Leisz, Val McCallum, Jeff Young, Bob Glaub (bass), and Maricio Lewak (drums), for the 2021 Dream Concert 10/28/21, proceeds go to Native American Scholarship Fund

Jackson Browne_Live From Home Series Vol.2.rar

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Favorite Albums (Top Ten and more) of 2021


Favorite Albums of 2021 (Top Ten and Beyond)

Like many others, at the end of the year I like to take stock and look back over the year, including the year’s best in music. So, yes, it is time for my own listing of my favorite albums of 2021. First, a bit of a disclaimer, in that I do not listen to tons of new albums each year, and generally only listen to albums that I expect to like (unlike professional critics who are paid to listen to lots of things they don’t like). I often do check out artists and albums that get recommended to me if it seems like something I would appreciate. This year I immersed myself mainly in artists that are considered part of the modern progressive rock arena, as I found more to enjoy there than within most other musical subgroups. So, most of my favorites this year could be considered melodic Prog Rock of some sort. I found many newer bands that were quite interesting, as well as old favorites that are producing some of their best. Overall, it was quite a good year for very interesting and worthwhile music. I found much to be delighted about. But, of course, there may be lots of great stuff I never heard or knew about. Anyway, here are my favorite albums released for 2021. 

First, I wanted to mention a couple of EPs of note. Not long enough to be considered with the albums, but worthy nonetheless. Counting Crows released their first new music in over 7 years with their 4-song suite Butter Miracle Suite One, which was a worthy addition to their musical legacy. Also of note was the recently released EP by Thank You Scientist - Plague Accommodations, more excitingly eclectic music from this unique band.
 
Next, a few mostly honorable mentions.  Here are two great all-instrumental albums: The virtuoso prog jazz explorations of Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3, and the sublime and intricate melodies of Swedish band Agusa – En Annan Varld. Some other notable prog releases that were of considerable interest but were just not quite what I was looking for included Caligonaut – Magnified as Giants, Ciccada – Harvest, and smalltape – The Hungry Heart. More in the indie rock scene, The War on Drugs album I Don't Live Here Anymore was quite good, but just not quite top ten level. Another trio of albums that were good, but also somewhat of a disappointment, included the 2nd Allison Krauss/Robert Plant collaboration – Raise the Roof (they once again sound great together, but song selection was spotty with only a few really memorable songs here), Styx – Crash of the Crown (highly touted in some circles, but just good, not great), and Barenaked Ladies – Detour De Force (very uneven album, but they still know how to put together some great and fun pop-rock songs). 

Now, here are my Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2021.  
 
10. Meer - Playing House.
This was a last-minute addition to this list, as I had never heard of them until this past week, when a recommendation from another year-end list resulted in me checking them out and really liking what I heard. Meer is an 8 member collective from Norway, that bill themselves as an 'Alternative pop orchestra', combining orchestral pop, classical, and progressive rock. Lead by the vocals of siblings Johanne and Knut Kippersund and supported by violin and viola in addition to the usual guitar, piano, bass, and drums, as well as some electro-pop arrangements, they create unique melodic progressive pop, sort of a singer-songwriter approach, but with symphonic and progressive arrangements. Album was released in January 2021 and could have been forgotten, but thanks to Nathan on Shuffle (Youtube) I am so glad to have found this unique band.

9. Drifting Sun - Forsaken Innocence.
 Another ‘new’ band for me (although originally formed in the ‘90’s, and then re-formed in 2015 after many years of dormancy), this is their 5th album since their reformation. Diversity and versatility are keys here for this accomplished set of melodic prog songs from Drifting Sun. Although there are some tedious sections in the more downbeat first half of the album (in consecutive moody tomes ‘Insidious’ and ‘Dementium’), the magnificent centerpiece ‘Forsaken Innocence’ parts 1 and 2 lifts the rest of the album to glorious heights.

 

8. Jackson Browne - Downhill From Everywhere. 
Jackson, at 72, and his 15th studio album (and first in 7 years), still has it. Although nothing really new here, Jackson is still one of the great songwriters, his voice still sounds great (unlike most of his aging peers), and this is one of his best albums in years. Jackson hasn’t tried to change his style to fit the times, but just keeps writing and performing lovely, moving songs from the heart. Yes, he still writes topical songs about matters that are important to him, but they are honest and not preachy or annoying. The songs here are warm, articulate, and compelling, and it is just such a joy to listen to his beautiful voice, melodies, and simple tasteful accompaniment and arrangements. 

7. This Winter Machine – Kites.
This is another ‘new’ band for me (although this is their third album), driven by a pop-rock feel and approach, but nonetheless definitely progressive rock. From the UK, with vocalist Al Wynter as the heart of the band amidst some changing personnel, and getting some key contributions from guest musicians, including Mick Abrahams (Wishbone Ash), Peter Jones (Tiger Moth Tales), and Eric Bouillette (Nine Skies). Great melodic Prog, with nods towards more straight-forward rock, pop, and power pop. Very impressive and great fun.

6. Lifesigns – Altitude. 
Also ‘new’ to me this year (their third release), Lifesigns features John Young (keyboards-vocals), Dave Bainbridge (guitar), Jon Poole (bass-vocals), and Zoltan Csorsz (drums), all veterans of other bands, and they provide a diverse mix of styles, from pastoral to symphonic flourishes, while maintaining strong melodies and vocals throughout. Alternates between shorter more pop-rock sections to the more elaborate and lengthy prog excursions, culminating in the beautiful ballad ‘Last One Home’ and a brief reprise of the opening ‘Altitude’. Overall, a beautiful and accessible progressive rock album filled with strong emotional connections, evocative melodies, and powerful instrumental passages.

5. Steve Hackett - Surrender of Silence.  
Guitarist extraordinaire Steve Hackett has followed up his earlier 2021 release, Under a Mediterranean Sky, which was a mostly laid-back, acoustic, instrumental excursion through the music and influences in and around the Mediterranean countries, with this much bigger, bolder, and more diverse collection of songs. Still somewhat of a travelogue in that it includes musical styles and influences from around the World, but this time showing heavier and darker themes and passages amidst some lighter fare. Possibly Steve’s most diverse album, highlighting many different styles and musical structures, and strong songwriting, making this one of his best overall albums. 

4. Cyan - For King and Country. 
A great album of classic throwback symphonic progressive rock. Cyan is a project of multi-instrumentalist -songwriter Robert Reed. He initially created Cyan back in the early '90's, primarily as a solo project, released a few albums, then went on to form the full-fledged progressive rock band Magenta (featuring strong influences of Genesis, Yes, Renaissance, Pink Floyd, and Mike Oldfield), to great success. However, this year, Rob convened an all-new version of Cyan, bringing in musicians such as guitarist Luke Maschin and Peter Jones (vocals) to record an all-new revised, re-imagined, and revitalized version of a previous Cyan solo album, For King and Country. The result is just wonderful, and although it is a revised version of a nearly 30-yr old album, it sounds fresh and vibrant, in the style of classic prog. In addition, this album is special to me because it introduced to me to the world of music created by Rob Reed, Magenta, and Peter Jones, as I had not listened to them previously, but after this album I immersed myself into Reed's other projects, mainly Magenta (8 albums 2001-2020) and other solo albums, which I now love wholeheartedly, as well as Peter Jones other work (Tiger Moth Tales), and these artists have been the best and most important musical discovery for me in 2021. 

3. Transatlantic - The Absolute Universe. 
Another impressive concept album from this periodic Prog Supergoup (5 albums over a period of 20 years), consisting of Neal Morse (Spock's Beard, Neal Morse Band, vocals, keyboards, guitar), Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, guitars, vocals), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Neal Morse Band, drums, vocals), Pete Trewavas (Marillion, bass, vocals), the album was released in two different versions, a shorter (The Breath of Life, 60 min) and longer version (Forevermore, 90 plus min). I've only listened to the longer version, and it is a great epic release, with some wonderful interconnected songs and sensational virtuoso playing and musicianship in a variety of styles. Although not quite up to their very best (I would rank Bridge Across Forever-2001  and The Whirlwind-2009 higher), this is still a great epic release, and among the very best melodic progressive rock around, melding a variety of styles and influences for a great musical experience.  

2. Neal Morse Band - Innocence and Danger.  
Fantastic double album from Prog veterans The Neal Morse Band (Neal Morse-vocals, keyboards, guitar), Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals), Mike Portnoy (drums. vocals), Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals), Randy George (bass). Unlike their past couple albums, this one is not a big concept album with an overarching theme, but just a collection of songs, which seems to have freed the band to do more exploring and playing with different styles and sounds, resulting in some more varied and interesting tracks. But the album is still divided into 2 distinctly different sets: Disc 1 (Innocence) consists  of  8 'shorter' songs (3-8 minutes each) of varying styles, some more poppy, some more jazzy, etc., but all with strong melodies and virtuoso playing, culminating in a great progressive adaptation of Paul Simon's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water). Disc 2 (Danger) consists of 2 epic Prog tracks, 'Not Afraid Pt.2' (nearly 20 min). and 'Beyond the Years' (more than 30 min), both of which are just fantastic and shows what great bands can do with multi-part, extended length tracks. Whereas disc 1 is very good, disc 2 just takes off and soars with these incredible epic tracks, running the gamout from classical, blues, rock, jazz, pop, all worked into cohesive songs. A highpoint in this band's already impressive discography.  
 
1. Big Big Train - Common Ground.  
Following a string of great albums in recent years, 2020 saw personnel changes paring the size of the band down from 8 to 4, but this sensational album saw the new stripped-down band respond impressively, boldly moving forward, trying out some new styles and directions, while maintaining and building upon the core attributes that make this band great. I thoroughly love this album, from start to finish, every song a gem. It starts with a few songs that don’t quite sound like BBT, as they expand their sound in some interesting directions and styles, and although at first a bit disconcerting, it all works wonderfully, providing some fresh style and perspective. Later in the album, the full glory of Big Big Train is fully realized, with the concluding series of ‘Common Ground’, ‘Atlantic Cable’, and ‘Endnotes’ providing perhaps their best song sequence ever, highlighting all the soaring emotions, beautiful melodies and grand themes present in their best work. Not as ‘pastoral’ as other recent albums, but this bolder vision for BBT combines all the best aspects of previous albums with some delightful new sounds and styles. This was undoubtedly my favorite album of the year, it just keeps getting better with repeated listenings. For me, one of their all-time best (certainly best since English Electric, and possibly best overall), showing more growth and diversity, and just wonderful music. Unfortunately, BBT also suffered a devastating loss late this year, when longtime frontman vocalist-songwriter David Longdon tragically died in a vehicle accident in November 2021 (R.I.P David). A huge loss for BBT, David’s family, his fans, and the music world. But this great music will live on, and most likely BBT will also continue to move forward as well. 

OK, so those were my favorites from 2021. What were yours? What albums from 2021 got you excited and thrilled about new music this past year? You may have found some great stuff I was not aware of. Let's hear about some of the quality music you enjoyed from the last year.  

Monday, January 3, 2022

Happy New Year 2022!

 

Happy New Year 2022!

Well here we are in a brand new year, and we have bid good riddance to 2021, another quite bad year by most measures. But we can hope for a better 2022, and do what we can to make that happen. So, with a new beginning again, let's try to get it right this time, or at least do better this year. 

Although not much good happened in 2021 in the news, etc., there was some pretty great music that was made (as there is most every year). I am preparing a post on what my favorite 2021 albums (top ten or so) were as a year-end wrap-up, and will post that in the next few days. Then I will continue doing what I can here, presenting what I think are some great music performances from a variety of artists that are publicly available to share. 

I hope that you and your family and loved ones had a nice year-end holiday season, that we can stay healthy and strong throughout the coming year, and that you continue to enjoy music in all its wonder and variety. Thank you to all who come by this site to visit and enjoy and perhaps comment on the music and commentary here.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Norah Jones - 2020 Home Concert Series, New York, NY - 2020-10-22 to 12-24 - Later Sessions

Norah Jones

2020 Home Concert Series, New York, NY
Later Sessions, 2020-10-22 to 2020-12-24
Webcast recordings of live solo home performances
Mp3 @ 320 kbps

Here's the follow-up post to the previous Home Concert Series post for Norah Jones (See previous post for details). This consists of the later (and final) set of Home Concert shows Norah posted to Youtube throughout the 2020 pandemic, covering from 10-22-2020 to 12-24-2020. These home concert shows feature very intimate and informal performances from Norah, with just her and her and the piano (or sometimes guitar), and present a unque look at at her music and artistry. Appropriately for the Christmas season, this set concludes with a couple Christmas songs. Notably, Norah's latest album is a Christmas album, I Dream of Christmas (2021) released just a couple months. So the Christmas songs included here seem to be a prelude to that album, and one of the songs here, Blue Christmas, is included on the new album (in a similar style). So, this makes a nice conclusion to these Norah Jones posts, as well as this series of featured female vocalists, to round out the year. So, once again, Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New year to all as well. 

Later Sessions - 10-22 to 12-24
Tracklist:
01. Picture in a Frame
02. talk
03. Just a Little Bit
04. Blue Bayou
05. talk
06. My Dear Country
07. Man of the Hour
08. Down by the River
09. Rosie's Lullaby
10. Sleep Won't Come
11. talk
12. Hands on the Wheel
13. You Are Not Alone
14. Until the End
15. Don’t Know What It Means
16. What a Difference a Day Makes
17. [Talk to Me Of] Mendocino
18. Hurts to Be Alone
19. Space Captain
20. talk
21. I'll Fly Away
22. Blue Christmas
23. talk
24. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Norah Jones_2020 Home Concerts_Later Sessions.rar

Thanks to Paul at Albums That Should Exist for collecting and compiling the audio recordings for these shows originally broadcast as Youtube videos. 

Norah Jones - 2020 Home Concert Series, New York City - 2020-03-26 to 2020-04-23 - Early Sessions

Norah Jones
2020 Home Concert Series, New York, NY
Early Sessions, 2020-03-26 to 2020-04-23
Webcast recordings of live solo home performances
Mp3 @ 320 kbps

Continuing with recent performances from singer-songwriter Norah Jones, here's something a bit different. During the lockdown phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in Spring 2020, Norah began  a regular series of short very informal concerts from her home (just her and piano or guitar) and making them available on Youtube. Many other artists also did this sort of thing to help themselves and others get through the pandemic and lack of live music performances. I previously posted a compilation of songs Jackson Browne recorded from home from like this. However, Norah took this approach to another level. She regularly posted (every week or so) a video of intimate solo performances (usually containing four different songs each time, 15-20 minutes of music), just her at her piano at home (or sometimes with guitar instead), and she continued this throughout the entire rest of the year (last one posted on Christmas Eve 2020). Over the course of the year, this amounted to a total of over 10 hrs of music, and more than 170 songs performed, quite a monumental undertaking. Our blogger friend Paul over at Albums That Should Exist dutifully made audio recordings of each of her home concert videos (as he also did for several other artists making home concert videos) and compiled them into a series of 14 'albums' each containing about 45 minutes of music from these shows. Songs performed range from all throughout her career, but as intimate informal solo versions, as well as numerous covers of songs not performed anywhere else, including songs she grew up playing, some of her personal favorites, and her family's favorites. It presents a very interesting and unique look into her music and life. Now, it would be way too much for me to post this whole series here (but you can get all of them at albumsthatshouldexist.blogspot.com if you like). For this blog, I have compiled the first several performances (March to April 2020) into one concert-length set (about 80 minutes), and then I have another concluding set (also about 80 Minutes)  taken from the final series of shows (From October to December 2020). This should give a broad range of songs and a good sense of what she did, without trying to include everything. So, here is the first set, covering the Early sessions (From 03/26 to 4/23 2020). Again, huge thanks to Norah for putting these shows out there for all to enjoy, and thanks to Paul for recording these and making them available. It is a wonderful depiction of Norah as an artist and person, as well as documentation of the times we were living and the only way to hear new 'almost live' music throughout 2020. The set of Later sessions will follow shortly.

Early Sessions - 03-26 to 04-23
Tracklist:
01. talk
02. Turn Me On
03. talk
04. Joey
05. talk
06. I'm Alive
07. talk
08. Humble Me
09. Come Away with Me
10. talk
11. Lucky
12. talk
13. I Remember Clifford [Instrumental]
14. talk
15. Lonestar
16. That’s the Way that the World Goes Round
17. talk
18. Waiting
19. Travelin' On
20. talk
21. Painter Song
22. Long Way Home
23. talk
24. How I Weep
25. talk
26. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
27. The Long Day Is Over
28. Wake Me Up
29. talk
30. Angel Dream
31. talk
32. It Was You
33. talk
34. Sunrise

Tracks 1-8, Home Concert - 2020-03-26
Tracks 9-15, Home Concert - 2020-04-02
Tracks 16-21, Home Concert - 2020-04-11
Tracks 22-27, Home Concert - 2020-04-17
Tracks 28-34, Home Concert - 2020-04-23

Norah Jones_2020 Home Concerts_Early Sessions.rar

'Album' Picture taken from Albums That Should Exist home concert series artwork (taken from video). Thanks again, Paul.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Merry Christmas 2021! And reminder of all the previous Christmas & Holiday music available here

 


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

In the mood for Christmas music yet? Or maybe you need some Christmas music to try to get you in the mood for for Christmas. Although I do not have a new Christmas Music Collection this year (I usually do them every other year, in even number years), there are still plenty of Christmas, Holiday, and Winter themed music and posts available here, including all my previous unique Christmas-related collections. So, if you haven't previously checked out my delightful and eclectic Christmas collections, I invite you to do so now (links to those pages below). In addition, there are several other Christmas-related shows and compilations that have been posted previously. To see all the Christmas-related posts check here. As I've said before, personally, I love Christmas music of all types, classical, rock, pop, jazz, etc., from the traditional to the outrageous, the serious to the silly, the classics to the newest ditties, and these compilations contain some of my favorites. Enjoy the season while it lasts. 

BB Chronicles Collections:


BB's Christmas Collection 2018 - New, Old, and Revived


BB's Chronicles Christmas Collections 2016 (featuring 2 full collections - Bright and Blue)


BB's Christmas Chronicle 2014 - Tiny Tree Christmas


BB Chronicles Holiday Sampler 2012 - No Rest for Ye Merry Gentlemen


BB Chronicles Echlectic Christmas Chollection 2010


Other Christmas posts:

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Christmas Shows: 2014 - Boston ; 2015 - Boston ; 2019 - Los Angeles

A Celtic Christmas Sojourn - 2015-Boston

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets - Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Review - 2015-Los Angeles

Bruce Springsteen Live Christmas compilations

Chicago - 1998 Christmas show

Bill Kirchen's Honky Tonk Holiday Party - 2010 - Northampton, MA 

All links recently updated! Enjoy!.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Norah Jones - 2019-08-03 - Bear Tooth Theatre, Anchorage, AK

Norah Jones

2019-08-03
Bear Tooth Theatre, Anchorage, AK
Audience recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions
Recorded by Steve Hagar, mastered by Dennis Orr

Continuing with more from Norah Jones, moving up to more recent years. After several years exploring different genres and musical styles, for her 2016 album, Day Breaks, Norah returned to the more jazz-oriented piano and vocal style of her early albums, and all the songs were recorded live in the studio without overdubbing.  But Jones continued working in various musical styles, and in 2019 released Begin Again, a compilation album of various singles and collaborations from recorded from 2018-2019, including songs done with Jeff Tweedy and Michael Bartlett. For her next solo album, Pick Me Up Off the Floor (2020), Norah changed things up a bit more, with an eclectic album of jazz pop, orchestral pop, blues, and jazz folk, with elements of gospel, country, funk  and hip hop.  Norah's latest release is a Christmas album, I Dream of Christmas (2021), released a couple months ago for the current Christmas season and receiving very favorable reviews.  The show featured today is from 2019, and features songs from throughout her career, This is an audience recording from Anchorage, Alaska, pretty good quality (but not like the previous high quality radio shows), but does have quite a bit of audience noise (mostly between songs). This is the second night of a three night set of shows at the Bear Tooth Theatre, which apparently is a movie theater that occasionally also hosts concerts. So, check out this example of one of Norah's more recent shows. 

Tracklist: (1:39:33)
01 Just A Little Bit
02 I've Got To See You Again
03 It Was You
04 Begin Again
05 Chat
06 Wintertime (1)
07 Nightingale (1)
08 Sinkin' Soon
09 Chasing Pirates (2)
10 Chat
11 Angel Dream (3)
12 Don't Know what It Means (Hey You) (4)
13 Band Intros
14 Come Away With Me (4)
15 Sunrise (3)
16 After The Fall
17 The Nearness Of You (5)
18 Little Broken Hearts
19 Don't Know Why
20 Flipside
21 Band Intros & Chat
22 Hands On The Wheel
23 Encore Break
- Encore -
24 My Heart Is Full
25 Chat
26 Don't Be Denied

(1) Pete - bass, Josh - guitar
(2) Josh - guitar
(3) Norah - acoustic guitar, Pete - piano
(4) Norah - electric guitar, Pete - piano
(5) Norah - solo, on piano

Norah Jones - lead vocals, piano, acoustic & electric guitars
Josh Lattanzi - bass, guitar, & backing vocals
Pete Remm - organ, piano, bass, & backing vocals
Greg Wieczorek - drums, percussion, & backing vocals

 FLAC - Norah Jones_2019-08-03_Anchorage,AK_FLAC.rar

Mp3 - Norah Jones_2019-08-03_Anchorage,AK_Mp3.rar