fDeluxe is The Family, the Prince-assembled collective that featured St. Paul (The Time) on bass, keys and lead vocals, Jellybean Johnson (The Time) on drums, Eric Leeds on sax and the sultry Susannah Melvoin (Sister of Wendy or Wendy & Lisa) on Lead Vocals. Their mid-1980s debut CD spawned the hits “Scream Of Passion” and the original version of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a song Prince wrote for them, not (as it is popularly belived) Sinead O’Connor. Sadly, after the release of that disc (which has yet to be available on CD domestically) the band disintegrated. Flash forward 3 decades and the funk foursome are back under a new name with a jam-packed funktastic disc!
It may have taken 30 years, but this much anticipated follow up was well worth the wait. Tracks like the soaring “Lover’ and groove-heavy “Over The Canyon” sit nicely next to the steamy ballads “The Vigil” and “When You Go.” “Gaslight” renews my faith in the power of music that is inspired by passion and desire rather than corporate greed and financial compensation. The band also recently remixed the entire album and released it as “RE-Lit.” Either disc, available at the band’s site, are sure to get you all funked up.
Johnny Marr: “The Messenger”
Forget that he was the groundbreaking guitarist for The Smiths, or that he was a contributor/co-conspirator/band member of some of your favorite groups in the last three decades including: The The, Brian Ferry, The Pretenders, Talking Heads, Electronica and Modest Mouse.
Just listen to Marr’s latest solo CD “The Messenger” and you will be overwhelmed with his excellence. The first great CD of 2013 is packed with remarkable guitar work and track after track solid tunes, each better than the last. Marr also shows that he is more than capable of handling lead vocal duties with impressive style and attitude. “The Messenger” is yet another impressive chapter in Marr’s storied musical career.
Steve Wilson: “The Raven That Refused To Sing (and Other Stories)”
Prog Rock Genius! Wait, don’t run away! Prog rock isn’t as scary as you think it is. Sure, it’s complex, and often challenging, but it’s often worth hanging in there for. Look at Marillion. And Yes. And Asia. All amazing bands with brilliant and complicated tunes. Which brings us to the newest CD from Porcupine Tree leader Steve Wilson. His third solo release is full of depth and precision playing. And yes, the shortest track is over 5 minutes long (the longest clocks in at 12 minutes 10 second), but it is also an amazing rock opus.
Boz Scaggs: “Memphis”
Boz is back! The mutli-platinum music legend who kept your AM radio rocking through your youth returns with a collection of classic soul covers appropriately titled “Memphis.” Recorded at the legendary Royal Studios in Memphis, where Al Green tracked all his Hi Records releases, the disc features Boz’s powerful takes on classics like “Rainy Night In Georgia” and “Gone Baby Gone.” Making this may be his best record since “Silk Degrees.”
Atoms For Peace: “Amok”
More of a collection of sounds than a collection of songs, the latest side-project from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is an aural nightmare.
While I know there is a whole generation of music fans that have been tricked into believing that the later albums of Radiohead – which deconstruct song structure into washes of noise – are genius, I’m not of that herd. To my mind the band’s reign of supremacy ended with their opus, “The Bends,” with everything coming after trying too hard to be weird and clever.
“Amok” is a mess of bleeps, beats and loops with Co-Conspirator Flea’s talents both completely wasted and lost in the wave of white noise. Unless you’re deaf or easily impressed, listening to the album in its entirety is no easy task. Critics desperate to prove they are the hippest will deem that I may just not be cool enough to appreciate the brilliance of “Atoms For Peace.” I, however, deem that they, like this CD, are full of crap.
New Order: “Lost Sirens”
Okay calm down. “Lost Sirens’ is not actually a new New Order album. It is actually outtakes from the last New Order studio CD “Sirens” that weren’t good enough to end up on that release. While the tunes are pleasant enough, and have that distinct New Order sound, sadly they are not the kind of songs that will get trapped in your head like “Love Vigilantes” and “True Faith,” these are truly the throwaway B-sides. The only reason to buy this disc is these tracks are the last recorded songs to feature founding member bassist Peter Hook as part of the band.
Tegan and Sara: “Heart Throb”
Alt-folk duo Tegan & Sara trade their acoustic guitars for synths to create this perfect pop masterpiece. Using shades of OMD, Depeche Mode and Romeo Void, the Canadian twin sisters create a whole new sound without coming across as dated or retro. And while this radical departure may upset many of their longtime fans, it is sure to gain an army of new devoted followers.