The weekend has arrived, and with has come the cold of winter. This week was another one where I listened to more 2016 releases, with more to come next weekend. There were some late arrivals to contend for the best of the year this weekend. There is also a few older albums that I recently picked up on vinyl and wanted to share here. Hopefully there are some here that you will also find that might alleviate what has been shaping up to be a kind of dreadful year in many ways. Enjoy.
Peter Doherty - Hamburg Demonstrations: It's been seven years since Pete's last solo album, but the newly sober Libertines and Babyshambles frontman has finally returned with another wonderful solo effort. This album has the raw edge that has always been Pete's appeal for me and it feels more like the demo bootlegs of Babyshambles, particularly the exceptional "Whitechaple Demonstrations" and it's probably no coincidence that the title references it. Stripped down rock that feels tighter than some of Pete's past recordings, making this album a must for fans.
The Rolling Stones - Blue and Lonesome: The Stones' first album in 11 years is a bit of a triumph as they re-find the blues sound that inspired them so, so, so many years ago. These twelve blues covers are sizzling. Mick sounds like like his old dangerous self and Keith makes his guitar howl. I didn't quite know what to expect from this. I was worried that it would sound a bit rehashed and lazy, but it's quite the opposite. Now, it's nothing new, obviously since it's covers of songs recorded nearly half a century ago, but it's still exciting. Easily one of the best of the year, and the band's best in a long time. My only complaint is the boring cover.
Argent - Nexus: The fifth album from the UK prog band is my latest addition to the band's catalog. Released in '75, it follows their wonderful In Deep and before Circus. This album transitions nicely. The first side is very prog heavy, which shows their movement to the fusion sound of Circus, but the second side is some of their best heavy rock. Given the two sides, this might be my favorite of theirs so far, though In Deep remains more accessible.
The Last Shadow Puppets - The Dream Synopsis EP: Released this past week is the new EP from the Alex Turner led outfit. Four of the six songs are newly released, while two come from the band's recent album, though these are different versions. While it could be seen as a Christmas cash release, it's actually a great addition to their limited catalog and sees them featuring a '60s psychedelic sound that they have rarely showcased. "Totally Wired" is pure dynamite.
Elton John - Elton John Band featuring John Lennon and the Muscle Shoals Horns: Released in 1975, this 12' EP was recorded during Elton's Thanksgiving concert in NYC in '74 and features his cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." But it's the other side that makes this legendary. John Lennon joins him onstage to play "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Whatever Gets You Through the Night." It's the only known time where John sang a McCartney song. It is also Lennon's last concert performance. I came across this a record fair last weekend and simply had to have it. Only three songs, but phenomenal.
Jim Croce - Croce: Before hitting it big in '72 on ABC records, Jim had a deal with Capitol. This is the album he released in '69 with his wife. It failed to succeed and he was dropped from the label, but that doesn't mean it's any less essential than his three better known records. It's perhaps a little more folkish than folk rock, but it's still Jim's classic style. Well worth picking up if you come across it.
Mötley Crüe - The End: Recorded during their "final" concert last New Year's Eve, this is reportedly that last time the four members will appear on stage together. I find that impossible to believe given the amount of money involved in reunion shows, but either way, this career spanning set is full of energy. The band still sounds tight after all these years. Tommy and Nikki are exceptional. Vince sounds a little winded at times, but it's a live show. Really only something for fans, but fans will enjoy.