May 2019

Liner Notes by Brian Chozick

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Local: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Slayer

If you feel the earth shaking and even notice a bleeding ear May 5, it may not be a loud Cinco de Mayo party at the Don Haskins Center — it’s Slayer. They are one of the “Big 4” when it comes to thrash metal. Many missed another “Big 4” band — Metallica — when they sold out this year, so this is a must. Sure, this isn’t what you usually think about when it comes to Cinco de Mayo, but it’s a celebration of a different kind, it’s commemorating the band being together for almost four decades. They have announced this will be the end of the road for them, but they are doing it in style by bringing three heavyweights in the metal game along with them. The show will include Lamb of God, Amon Amarth and, legends in their own right, Cannibal Corpse. Each of the openers are supporting new material. Ironically only the headliner is working off their past catalogue, but what an impressive career it has been with a dozen studio discs to choose from. If Slayer is on your bucket list, get over to the Haskins Center because the band as we know it has decided it’s time to kick the bucket (as Slayer anyway).

National: Buckcherry, “Warpaint,” RED MUSIC

After last year’s foray with Josh Todd and the Conflict, which had moments of a slightly industrial vibe, Todd is back where he belongs with his original flavor, Buckcherry. Be warned that the new sound might have leaked into his old territory along with his penchant for a great cover version, but more on that later. “Warpaint” is the band’s ninth full-length album and still features some of the same spit and vinegar as their debut from two decades ago (yeah, they’ve been around that long). The disc kicks off with the record’s namesake and right away we are in for a wild ride, and part of that roller coaster is hearing some unusual sweeteners in their sound. They sprinkle some barroom honky-tonk into “No Regrets” and go for a blatant radio hit ballad with the very appropriately named “Radio Song.” I had also mentioned something about industrial and remakes; what could be better than their take on Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole?” Their Warpaint has been applied and they are ready to conquer your speakers.

Lemonheads, “Varshons II,” Fire Records

It has been a very long decade since we last heard from this band, but they are acting like no time has passed at all by coming back with Part Two to what they started 10 years ago. The Lemonheads have always had a proclivity for cover versions, with their 1992 version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” being one of their most successful singles. They revisited their gift for cover versions in 2009 with “Varshons,” and their latest release sports the clever title “Varshons 2.” The artists they pay tribute to follow a very extensive timeline, but this go-round there is more of an alt. country slant than in the past. Of course they do manage to throw us a few curve balls. They pay homage to John Prine, Yo La Tengo, Paul Westerberg, Nick Cave, the Eagles and Florida Georgia Line (told you they would keep us guessing), to name a few. Unfortunately we will have to wait a while more for some new originals, but until then this version of “Varshons” will do the trick for hearing some fantastic new Lemonheads cuts. If you are a vinyl nut, be sure to jump on this one early as independent record stores will be carrying a very limited-edition green pressing.

Various Artists, “Imagine: John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert,” Blackbird

Back in 2015, Blackbird Presents sponsored the “Imagine: John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert” at New York’s Madison Square Garden, honoring the life and musical legacy of the legend who died 35 years earlier. It took Blackbird a few more years to release the double-disc recording that covers both Lennon’s solo material and his time spent with the Beatles. The collection is littered with all-stars, and genres represented include country, Spanish, rock, and even rap. The artists taking on his work are young and old hit makers and a few in between. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler kicks things off with his beloved rendition of “Come Together.” Spoon delivers a revved up version of “Hey Bulldog,” and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello puts a punk slant on “Power to the People.” That is just the beginning. Where this release really shines is with its one-of-a-kind collaborations. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” sees legends Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson joining Chris Stapleton. Stapleton also welcomes Sheryl Crow and the Killer’s Brandon Flowers on “Don’t Let Me Down.” The show concludes with the evening’s entire lineup preforming “All You Need is Love.”

Collectibles: Paul McCartney, “Egypt Station Traveler’s Edition,” Capitol Records

If for some strange reason you’re under the impression that the Beatles didn’t have enough collectibles to satiate the army of fans they still have, you’re in luck because they are adding another. Well it isn’t really the Beatles, but it is one of the most important ones. At age 76 he is still putting out new original material. In last year’s release of “Egypt Station” he was shooting for the stars and now aims even further with the new massive limited version, officially titled “Egypt Station Traveler’s Edition.” The number of albums being pressed is incredibly small for a former Beatle: only 3,000 made worldwide. On the audio side of things he ups the ante with a concertina tri-fold deluxe 180-gram vinyl double LP, a blue pressing of the original album with seven bonus tracks, including three previously unreleased and four live performances, a CD — and in an attempt to cover all configurations, they are even throwing in a cassette. This also sets a new standard visually with a luxury, vintage-style embossed artwork suitcase, a copy of a handwritten note and lyrics, an illustrated map suitable for framing, a travel itinerary with postcards, baggage tickets and first class ticket, luggage stickers, lithographs of Paul’s paintings, a jigsaw puzzle and lastly a deck of “Egypt Station” playing cards. So put your reservation in soon because your “Egypt Station Traveler’s Edition” is already packed and ready to go.

Brian Chozick is owner of Tumblin’
Dice Music. Drop him a line at
tumblindicemusic@netscape.net

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