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 '70s Gift Ideas

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'70s Gift Ideas

These recently released CD's and books are sure to please any
Seventies music fan on your shopping list this holiday season.

THE ROLLING STONES - Blue & Lonesome (Interscope, $11.88) Blue & Lonesome is the Stones' first album since 2005's A Bigger Bang. "It was fun -- always is!" Keith Richards says, describing a summer London session where they cut several songs in only two days. Richards says the album has "a lot of Chicago blues," including material by Little Walter and Howlin' Wolf. Eric Clapton even played on a couple of songs, which Richards says felt "like old times down in Richmond [London]," where both acts played the Crawdaddy Club in the Sixties. * * * * - Rolling Stone

LED ZEPPELIN - The Complete BBC Sessions (Rhino, $16.65) Power and pleasure seesaw for more than three hours in Led Zeppelin's The Complete BBC Sessions. This is Zeppelin from 1969 to 1971, working through the core material of their first four albums (and taking swaggering side trips through blues and rockabilly classics). Eight newly unearthed songs - nearly a full CD, including the never-before-reissued boogie romp "Sunshine Woman" -- have been added to the 1997 release. The songs are familiar, but the protean variations of these renditions provide fresh jolts of Zeppelin's blend of brutality and delicacy. A March 1969 "Communication Breakdown" starts off with ringing chords like the Who; in April 1971, the same song rages like Black Flag. * * * * 1/2 - Rolling Stone

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - Chapter and Verse (Columbia, $13.99) Before forming the E Street Band, Springsteen ruled Jersey bars with the Castiles, Steel Mill and the Bruce Springsteen Band. Five never-before-released songs by those bands appear on this "audio companion" to Springsteen's new memoir, Born to Run. The highlight: the Castile's "Baby I," a jangly garage-rock kiss-off howled by a 16-year-old Springsteen, who was already showing he had wit to spare ("I got someone new/ Someone better than you," he shouts). The set also includes 13 other songs, from a 1972 demo of "Growin' Up" to 2012's "Wrecking Ball." * * * * - Rolling Stone

STING - 57th and 9th (A&M, $13.99) "You should always pick up a Sting record and never be sure what it's going to be," says the singer. On 57th and 9th, (named after the Manhattan intersection he crossed to reach the studio), he returns to rock music for the first time in more than a decade, with a new perspective. "50,000" reflects on the deaths of David Bowie and Prince, and "One Fine Day" takes climate-change deniers to task. He recorded with members of San Antonio Tex-Mex group the Last Bandoleros, who, Sting says, "brought energy, freshness and a beautiful blend of backing vocals." * * * 1/2 - Rolling Stone

BOB DYLAN - 1966 Live Recordings (Sony Legacy, $109.99) The 36-disc box 1966 Live Recordings collects every show recorded during perhaps Bob Dylan's greatest tour ever, in which he famously enraged folk traditionalists by playing wild, frenetic electric sets with the Hawks, who became the Band two years later (one audience member in Manchester, England, infamously screamed, "Judas!"). The set proves that the hostility between Dylan and his audience has not been exaggerated over time; one night, he hilariously picks apart a newspaper article that misquoted him calling his old songs "rubbish." On that same night, at London's Royal Albert Hall, his voice is dripping with sarcasm and sleepless nights: "I realize it's loud music," he says. "If you don't like it, that's fine. If you've got some improvements you can make on it, that's great. But I'm not going to disagree with you or fight you on it." The sound quality of the set far exceeds previously available bootlegs. Credit sound engineer Richard Alderson, who mixed every venue's house feed while also recording the shows on a reel-to-reel for a later-scrapped film. * * * * 1/2 - Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

LOU REED - The RCA & Arista Album Collection (Sony Legacy, $146.69) Covering 1972 to 1986, Lou Reed - The RCA & Arista Album Collection is an object lesson in how a record company should treat an artist's back catalog. Apparently Reed's final statement, the set is a lavish 17-disc box set of remasters of Reed's entire RCA and Arista catalog overseen by the late artist with his friends and co-producers Hal Willner and Rob Santos at Masterdisk studios in Manhattan. Reed was audio obsessive, and despite failing health, he came in day after day, savoring and scrutinizing his life's work -- marveling at David Bowie's vocal arrangement on Transformer's "Satellite of Love"; pumping his fist to "Lady Day," from his dark song cycle, Berlin; submerging himself in the binaural sound recording of the space-jazz title track of The Bells. "He took much joy rediscovering these records," Willner says. "Being able to sit there in the room with him while he was doing it -- whew. I felt like the luckiest person in the world." * * * 1/2 - Will Hermes, Rolling Stone

DAVID BOWIE - Who Can I Be Now? (1974 to 1976) (Rhino/Parlophone, $108.99) The follow-up to Bowie's Five Years (1969-1973) box set, the 12-disc Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976) features all of the material officially released by Bowie during the so-called American phase of his career and contains the previously unreleased album from 1974 called The Gouster. Named after a track recorded in 1974 but not officially released until the 1990s, Who Can I Be Now? includes Diamond Dogs, David Live (in original and 2005 mixes), Young Americans and Station to Station (in original and 2010 mixes) as well as The Gouster, Live Nassau Coliseum 76 and a new compilation entitled Re:Call 2 which is a collections of single versions and non-album B-sides. For the 2016 release, Tony Visconti has overseen the mastering from the original tapes and photos taken by Eric Stephen Jacobs have been put together for the set's sleeve based around one of Bowie's original concepts for the album. The set's accompanying book features rarely seen and previously unpublished photos by photographers including Eric Stephen Jacobs, Tom Kelley, Geoff MacCormack, Terry O'Neill, Steve Schapiro, and many others as well as historical press reviews and technical notes about the albums from producers Tony Visconti and Harry Maslin. The CD box set includes faithfully reproduced mini-vinyl versions of the original albums and the CDs are gold colored rather than the usual silver. * * * 1/2

HOMEWARD BOUND: THE LIFE OF PAUL SIMON - Peter Ames Carlin (Henry Holt and Co., $23.47) Paul Simon's personal life, drug problems and marriages are intimately detailed in Peter Ames Carlin's definitive biography Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon, and figures from Bob Dylan to Woody Allen make cameos. The portrait of Simon that emerges is that of a musical genius who learned to hustle at neighborhood stickball games and never stopped pursuing his goals by any means necessary, whether that meant violating a cultural boycott to make Graceland in apartheid-era South Africa or firing three Broadway directors in just a few months while spending millions of his own dollars to produce his 1997 musical, The Capeman. Carlin devotes nearly 80 pages of Homeward Bound to Simon and partner Art Garfunkel's eight-year wilderness period after they scored their first hit "Hey, Schoolgirl" in 1957, which is quickly glossed over in most Simon books. * * * * 1/2 - Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

LEONARD COHEN - You Want It Darker (Columbia, $11.88) On his signature classic, "Hallelujah," Leonard Cohen sings about meeting "the Lord of Song." But on the title track of what would become his final LP, the third in a late-game rally that's been as startlingly brilliant as Bob Dylan's, Cohen takes that imagined reckoning with the Almighty deeper, intoning "Hineni," a Hebrew term for addressing God that translates as "Here I am." The punchline, aside from the the title's cheeky challenge -- true Cohen fans always want it darker -- is that with his cantorial delivery, the famous lady's man makes the phrase sound kinda like "hey, baby." In fact, and unlikely EDM remix of "You Want It Darker" by DJ Paul Kalkenbrenner, turns the phrase into a dance-floor chant -- more proof of how much modern lifeblood flows through Cohen's voice after five decades on the job. Like David Bowie's Blackstar and Dylan's long goodbye, You Want It Darker is the sound of a master soundtracking his exit, with advice for those left behind. It's what he's always done, helping the rest of us do the same, as best we can. * * * * - Will Hermes, Rolling Stone

TRAVELING SOUL: THE LIFE OF CURTIS MAYFIELD - Todd Mayfield with Travis Atria (Chicago Review Press, $20.41) Curtis Mayfield helped shape the African-American experience like few others -- first during the civil rights era, with the uplifting hits of the Impressions, then as a solo artist, with the blaxploitation landmark Superfly. Personally, though, he was a distant, mercurial figure who abused drugs and women and spent long periods cut off from the outside world. In Traveling Soul, Todd Mayfield, one of the singer's 10 children, writes that his father's erratic ways reflected his "divided nature as a Gemini," a less-than-probing characterization that fits a man almost no one could get close to. Todd follows his dad from dire poverty in Chicago to stardom, chronicling the fight for black empowerment that serves as a mirror to Curtis' own journey from Sixties positivity to Seventies and Eighties malaise. The moving final chapters chronicle Curtis' nightmarish years after a stage collapse that rendered him a paraplegic in 1990 and led to his death at 57. His grueling attempts to keep making music and his son's uphill battle navigating family alliances turn Traveling Soul from a solid biography into a more nuanced portrayal of personal tragedy * * * 1/2 - Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone


Blacklight Bar

by Entertainment Weekly

Leonard Cohen

The iconic singer-songwriter, who died at his home in Los Angeles on Nov. 7 at the age of 82, was just a little-known poet when he met folksinger Judy Collins in 1966. Then she made a hit out of his song "Suzanne," and he was on his way to stardom. The 77-year-old recalls her first introduction to the Canadian artist.

Judy CollinsMy friend knew Leonard because she'd gone to school with him. She always talked about him as this obscure poet who'd written all these great books and poems, and then in 1966 she called and said, "Leonard wants to come see you. He wants to play you some songs." He came, and we spent the whole day just talking. At the end of it, I said, "Why don't you play me a song?" He said, "I'll come back tomorrow." I think that was intentional! [Laughs] So by the time he sang, I already liked him! He said, "I can't sing and I don't play guitar; I don't even know if this is a song," and played "The Stranger Song," "Suzanne," and "Dress Rehearsal Rag." His writing was quite unusual -- there was no relevance between it and what was around at the time. [Cutting a song or two of his] struck me as something I simply had to do. My album [In My Life] was a hit, and because I recorded "Suzanne," Leonard became an overnight success story. [Afterward] we had a deep friendship. He taught me intention. Having someone on the planet so serious about telling the truth in art is a good thing. (As told to Madison Vain)

Leon Russell

Leon Russell's musical legacy is as long and illustrious as his iconic mane. As a session musician in the '60s, the genre-blending keyboard player -- who died at age 74 in his sleep on Nov. 12 in Nashville -- played with everyone from Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones. As a solo artist in the '70s, he scored a string of successful albums and singles ("Tight Rope") but later retreated from the spotlight. Appetite for his music didn't cease. The Union, an album with Elton John, was a hit in 2010. "Leon was the first person I'd heard play the piano with classical, gospel, and soul influences all at once," John said months before helping induct Russell into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. "It just blew me away." - Nolan Feeney

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