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 New '70s Artist CDs & DVDs

Blacklight Bar

A roundup of summer 2011 CD and DVD releases by '70s artists.


Paul McCartney - McCartneyPAUL McCARTNEY - McCartney (Box Set) (Hear Music/Concord, $59.99) Cut a decade apart, mostly without any collaborators, McCartney and McCartney II feel like outtake sets, in the best possible way: music that chases any crazy idea down a dark alley. Released three weeks before Let It Be in 1970, McCartney announced Paul's love for his wife and the breakup of the Beatles. What makes it so touching is how much it tries to re-create the Fabs. McCartney played every instrument: Ringo-101 drums ("Every Night"), Harrison-ish slide ("Man We Was Lonely"), Lennon blues-rock guitar ("Oo-You"). The masterwork is "Maybe I'm Amazed"; other songs make you wonder what they might've become with his mates around. 1980's McCartney II, made while Wings were on hiatus, was another purely solo effort. "Waterfalls" is a Rhodes-driven ballad that would make a great Adele cover, but what's striking is a kooky experimentalism -- see the leering, Kraftwerk- y "Temporary Secretary" -- that foreshadows the current era of the laptop dance-pop auteur. Both McCartney and II come in deluxe editions, appended with DVDs full of home movies and other ephemera; the best bonus track is "Suicide," a music-hall outtake that collapses under its titular metaphor. For someone who could write perfect pop songs with the effort it takes most folks to assemble a sandwich, these freewheeling records must've been fun to make. They sound like it. McCartney * * * 1/2, McCartney II * * * - Will Hermes, Rolling Stone

Journey - EclipseJOURNEY - Eclipse (Nomata LLC, $24.75) It takes 17 minutes and 39 seconds to hit the first satisfyingly Journey-sounding moment on Eclipse, the band's 14th album: a soaring six-minute-plus power ballad, "Tantra." For a legacy act whose biggest new audience is "Don't Stop Believin'"-loving Glee fans, that's about 17 minutes too long. Journey's second disc with Filipino YouTube discovery Arnel Pinada on vocals is both grand and distractingly proggy. Pineda hits heart-stopping high notes, but guitarist Neal Schon OD's on noodly solos and chugging Nineties-style power chords. Bloat is a problem (check the Buddhist monk chants on "Resonate"), though nothing can stop "Someone," a love anthem where hard-charging guitars shove schmaltz aside. * * - Caryn Ganz, Rolling Stone

Marvin Gaye - What's Going OnMARVIN GAYE - What's Going On (Deluxe Edition) (Motown/UMe, $49.28) What's Going On is both time-stamped and timeless: a picture of Vietnam-era turmoil that will blow minds as long as there are ears. This 40th-anniversary version lives up to its bombastic billing: two CDs and a vinyl LP, plus demos, B sides and the "What's Going On" that Motown refused to release. But it's the original LP (heard here in remastered form) that transfixes: Listen to Gaye's unearthly multitracked voice over the spacey gospel of "God Is Love." Greatest protest album ever made? Most stirring soul-music symphony? Yes and yes. And then some. * * * * * - Jody Rosen, Rolling Stone

Neil Young & the International Harvesters - A TreasureNEIL YOUNG AND THE INTERNATIONAL HARVESTERS - A Treasure (Reprise, $11.88) Neil Young changed guises at a furious pace in the early Eighties. In 1982, he was making vocoder-slathered New Wave; the following year, he staged a rockabilly revival. Then, in 1984, Young shifted gears toward classic country. Touring with the International Harvesters, an eight-piece group of Nashville pros, Young performed both countryfied versions of his classics and cuts from his 1985 album Old Ways. He also debuted five brand-new tracks that had been shelved until this live album, which cherry-picks from the Harvesters' gigs. "Amber Jean" is a lovely tribute to his newborn daughter, while "Grey Riders" is a lost epic that suggests Crazy Horse with a twang infusion. The oldies shine too: "Flying on the Ground Is Wrong" sounds as if it originated with the Flying Burrito Brothers instead of Buffalo Springfield. * * * * - Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of OzzOZZY OSBOURNE - Blizzard of Ozz (Expanded Edition) (Epic/Legacy, $9.00) Not yet heavy metal's Homer Simpson, Ozzy Osbourne in 1980 was nonetheless an elder statesman. But on his solo debut, the locomotion of "Crazy Train" proved indelible; explorations of alcoholism ("Suicide Solution") and Satanism ("Mr. Crowley") courted controversy; and the porn-addict rehab "No Bone Movies" matched metal's proggier, punkier young bands. This remaster (issued simultaneously with 1981's Diary of a Madman) highlights rhythm-section tracks, and stands as a tribute to fallen Randy Rhodes, whose guitar symphonics majestify both the proper album and three bonus live cuts. * * * * - Chuck Eddy, Rolling Stone

Queen - QueenQUEEN - Queen (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Hollywood, $14.75) When Queen debuted in 1973, their mix of hammering jams and folksy asides was closer to Zeppelin than to the stadium-killing theatricality they would later perfect. This revelatory reissue -- one of five Queen albums being rereleased with BBC sessions, live cuts, B sides and more -- highlights the band's raw roots, particularly on a series of 1971 demos. On those tracks Freddie Mercury already belts like the superstar he'd become, but the instrumental intensity nearly upstages him: Brian May's guitar screams through bolder and longer versions of "Jesus" and "Liar" while the rhythm section gallops in tight formation. Later LPs are more refined, but this two-disc set is a compelling portrait of vehement and nearly violent art. * * * * - Barry Walters, Rolling Stone

Aretha Franklin - A Woman Falling Out of LoveARETHA FRANKLIN - A Woman Falling Out of Love (Aretha's Records, $28.66) The good news is that Aretha Franklin, who just turned 69, is recording, and that her magnificent instrument, though thinning a bit, retains plenty of its power and agility. She's calling her own shots here, as executive producer, head of her own label and, on numerous tracks, producer and/or songwriter. There are magic moments: the vocal fireworks capping a cover of B.B. King's "Sweet Sixteen," and the playful Seventies-style soul-jazz jammy "U Can't See Me." But unmemorable songs and overcooked arrangements suggest too many opportunities squandered. Here's hoping the Roots, T Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin all submit producer applications for Her Majesty's next outing. * * 1/2 - Will Hermes, Rolling Stone

Steve Miller Band - Let Your Hair DownSTEVE MILLER BAND - Let Your Hair Down (Space Cowboy/LoudandProud/Roadrunner, $16.22) Cut during the same sessions that produced last year's Bingo! (the Steve Miller Band's first new album in 17 years), Let Your Hair Down is full of songs that have been in Miller's DNA since he was a rookie sitting in at blues clubs with Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. He howls over gritty slide guitar on Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied" and lets his guitar run wild on Willie Dixon's "Pretty Thing." The peak? A joyous take on Jimmy Reed's "Close Together," which stresses companionship in a mean old world. Let Your Hair Down is familiar territory, but Miller is clearly having a blast. * * * 1/2 - Patrick Doyle, Rolling Stone

Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan in Concert: Brandeis University 1963BOB DYLAN - Bob Dylan in Concert: Brandeis University 1963 (Columbia/Legacy, $7.48) Just before he released The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in May 1963, Bob Dylan performed a seven-song set at Massachusett's Brandeis University -- a tape of which sat in the archives of Rolling Stone editor emeritus Ralph Gleason until two years ago. Dylan is as warmly engaging as ever on "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues," which remains one of his funniest songs. The only bummer? The tape doesn't start until partway through the opener, a rewrite of Henry Thomas' "Honey, Won't You Allow Me One More Chance?" * * * * - Andy Greene, Rolling Stone


AC/DC: Let There Be RockAC/DC: Let There Be Rock (Limited Collector's Edition) (Warner Bros., $27.99) Need to explain primal rock & roll to an alien life-form? Never before available on DVD, this exemplary concert film -- shot in Paris in 1979, two months before Bon Scott's death -- has everything he/she/it needs to know. The Australian quintet master a magical balance, sounding simultaneously out of control and in the pocket: Scott struts like a dirty peacock; Angus Young whirls around him as if he were a tornado; and the others stand their ground while a film crew captures and echoes the band's synchronistic flailing on anthems like "Shot Down in Flames." "I'm a special drunkard," the doomed star admits. This is the ultimate expression of what made Scott-era AC/DC so singular. * * * * * - Barry Walters, Rolling Stone

Jimi Hendrix - Band of GypsysJIMI HENDRIX - Band of Gypsys (Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy, $12.49) The real news on this reissue of the Grammy-winning 1999 documentary is the pristine sound: Producers gave it a needed audio reboot, with stereo and 5.1 surround mixes by Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer. The doc focuses on the short-lived Band of Gypsys trio, with musicians like Lenny Kravitz testifying to the cultural significance of Hendrix fronting an all-black band. The main event is an hour of footage from a performance at the Fillmore East in 1970, eight months before Hendrix's death. The video quality is dodgy, but the audio now lives up to the hard funk of Buddy Miles' drumming, the tightness of Billy Cox's bass and the stratospheric soulfulness of Hendrix's guitar. * * * 1/2 - Andy Green, Rolling Stone

Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... Season TwoELVIS COSTELLO: Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... Season Two (Video Services Corp., $28.99) The second season of Costello's chat show once again features famous songwriters answering serious questions about their craft and performing with Costello's Impostors. Bruce Springsteen's visit is especially fascinating; during two 50-minute segments, he and Costello touch on a vast array of topics, including the musical tastes of Springsteen's three kids (punk, Top 40 and Dylan), and bang through a charged-up medley of Springsteen's "Radio Nowhere" and Costello's "Radio Radio." Also great: the episode featuring Bono and the Edge, where the frontman wails "Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad," a rare 1997 track that U2 wrote for Frank Sinatra. * * * 1/2 - Barry Walters, Rolling Stone

 Kubrick's Shocker Turns 40

Blacklight Bar

The polarizing classic celebrates a milestone
birthday with a special edition Blu-ray.

by Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly

A Clockwork Orange
40th Anniversary Edition
Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Warren Clarke, John Clive, Michael Bates
Rated: R, 136 mins., 1971
(Warner Home Video)

A Clockwork Orange - 40th Anniversary EditionAlex the Droogor a sense of just how controversial A Clockwork Orange was when it came out 40 years ago, consider this: Director Stanley Kubrick received so many death threats that he went into hiding with his family. He also begged Warner Bros. to pull the film from U.K. theaters (They did. And it wouldn't play there for 28 years.) On this side of the pond, critics worked themselves into a tizzy, with some going to the mat for the movie and others, like Pauline Kael, branding it pornographic. Looking back now, Clockwork may be subversive, shocking, and sadistic. But it's also clearly a satire about free will. Most of the heat Kubrick caught had to do with disturbing acts of highly stylized "ultraviolence" committed by Malcolm McDowell's Beethoven-loving sociopath, Alex, and his band of derby-hatted droogs. But Clockwork wasn't the first celluloid taboo-breaker. Bullet-riddled bloodbaths such as Bonnie and Clyde and The Wild Bunch came first. What made people react so toxically to Clockwork was the twisted glee Kubrick seemed to take in its mayhem particularly the scene where Alex sexually assaults a woman while tap-dancing and belting out "Singin' in the Rain." When you watch it, it's hard not to laugh even if you hate yourself for it. McDowell's Alex is sick, sure. But he's also undeniably true to his nature. And when the state pries open his eyes to brainwash him into becoming a model citizen, you can't help seeing him as a victim. You never know how to feel watching Kubrick's film -- entertained? Disgusted? Both? And that's what makes it art. If you don't believe me, the extras on the gorgeous new 40th-anniversary, two-disc Blu-ray edition serve up plenty of esteemed folks to extol Kubrick's genius. In addition to the usual smattering of tweedy film historians, directors like James Mangold, Paul Greengrass, and Oliver Stone (whose own thrill-kill flick, Natural Born Killers, wouldn't exist without this one) weigh in on Clockwork's legacy. Best of all is McDowell, who, at 67, is still able to summon Alex's spark of mischief while quoting the film's most indelible lines. A  

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