Music reviews: a deluxe edition of the group’s “Cahoots”, plus ABBA and Paul Kelly

Although many rock groups with successful debut records experience a slump in their sophomore year, The group came back roaring from their exceptional Big Pink music debut in 1968 with a superb eponymous second album in 1969. Their third release, the 1970s Stage fright, was damn good too.

Their fortunes eventually took a turn with album number four, although the magnitude of the turn is open to debate. It is difficult to say that the years 1971 Coalition is not a step back from its predecessors, but these records set a high standard. And it is probably this standard that has prompted many critics to pounce on the LP.

Photo: Barry Feinstein

Each member of the band continues to perform beautifully on Coalition, and it certainly has its moments, including the funky “Life Is a Carnival”; “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” a composition by Bob Dylan that features a Garth Hudson atmospheric organ and makes its first appearance here; and “4% Pantomime,” a Robbie Robertson / Van Morrison co-writing which finds the latter guest to share the lead voice. But the rest of the material is lacking in varying degrees: numbers like “Smoke Signal” and “Shoot Out in Chinatown” are enjoyable if insignificant while songs like “The Moon Struck One” and “Volcano” seem to be mere filler. , although Hudson’s powerful sax work partially redeems the latter.

A new 50e– anniversary edition moves Coalition in the “Buy” column. On the one hand, it includes a CD with a new mix from Bob Clearmountain that makes everything sound a little better and a surround audio Blu-ray that makes it all sound. many better. Listening to them, you can conclude that the strength of performance outweighs the relative weakness of some elements.

Additionally, the Anniversary Edition adds other goodies, including a seven-inch vinyl single; a 180 gram vinyl LP; and eight bonus studio tracks, including alternate takes of “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and “4% Pantomime” and an unreleased instrumental version of “Life Is a Carnival”. The other carrots include three framed photo lithographs and a 20-page booklet with liner notes from Robertson and York University professor and musicologist Rob Bowman, who has long been associated with the group.

More importantly, the ensemble offers 50 minutes of never-before-seen material from a contemporary concert at the Olympia Theater in Paris that reaches many of the highlights of the band’s first three albums: “The WS Walcott Medicine Show,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down ”,“ Across the Great Divide ”,“ Rag Mama Rag ”,“ The Unfaithful Servant ”,“ Chest Fever ”and five other issues. The group may have been falling apart in composition at the time of this May 1971 concert; but as these performances demonstrate, they could certainly still serve as entertaining versions of their classics on stage.

ABBA: It’s like they never left

If you were in your thirties when the last album of new tracks ABBA came out, you’re 70 today, as the quartet – who are themselves now all in their seventies – come out Trip, its follow-up. Yes, it’s been 40 years between albums. The new record, however, sounds as if it could have been made at the same time as Visitors, its 1981 predecessor, which is good news or a little bad news, depending on whether you mostly hoped for more of that classic ABBA sound or some proof of artistic growth.

“I Still Have Faith in You”, the first number, offers a first clue that we are for the first, and of course: the album offers uplifting melodies, efficient use of synthesizers, a mixture of ballads and dancing rhythms . numbers, layered vocals, irresistible hooks and expert production… but nothing that doesn’t fit the LPs the band produced four decades ago. As on the first LPs, the lyrics are mostly banal; and the debates get a little too syrupy at times, especially on “Little Things”, a Christmas song featuring a children’s choir. But if you liked ABBA in 1981, you’ll like them in 2021.

JuMP On board Paul Kelly’s “Christmas train”

The vacation will be over by the time you read this, but get on board Paul kellyChristmas train and you will be transported to December 25. The Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist has always had eclectic tastes, and they are on full display on this album, one of the best seasonal releases of the year.

The 75-minute, 22-track CD, which employs numerous guest accompanists, includes “In the Hot Sun of a Christmas Day” by Gilberto Gil and “Christmas Must Be Tonight” by Robbie Robertson as well as standards like “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? ” (with jazz singer Alma Zygier), “Silent Night” and “The Little Drummer Boy”. Here are also poems by Thomas Hardy and John Donne which Kelly set to music and a version of “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” with a voice by Australian singer Linda Bull that rivals the original Darlene Love produced by Phil Spector. Another highlight is the moving “How to Make Gravy,” one of Kelly’s best-known compositions, which finds an imprisoned protagonist singing for the family he misses on Christmas.

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