RELEASE TUESDAY: April 10, 2012

A few titles of various genres being released this week of note. One I had been looking forward to, the Philadelphia International Records 10-CD box set, has been pushed back a month according to


Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls (ATO)
File Under: Rock

We gave you an early preview of this album this past weekend and still feel it’s a rock solid release. It’s always great to hear a group of musicians who “get it” when it comes to putting self aside and producing a cohesive effort. As at least one ad (Best Buy) is showing it selling for $7.99 tomorrow. You’d be hard pressed to spend your $8 in a better way on music on another release this week.

Various Artists: Soul Cal: Disco And Modern Soul Masterpieces, 1971-1982 (Now Again)
File Under: Soul

Delayed for over 2 years, this compilation is finally seeing the light of day. For those who missed out on the original 12″ reissues or if you just prefer the CD format, you’ll be quite pleased with this collection. To be clear, it’s not a full collection of all sides in the Soul Cal series. Instead 13 tracks from original series are the backbone along with 2 tracks that didn’t make their way to label: “Ecology” by Anubis and “It’s A Bad Feeling” by Mixed Sugar (which also is on a dedicated collection of Regional Garland’s music also released by Now Again).

From the previously issued material, Indianapolis’ Rhythm Machine is represented by “Put A Smile On Time” and you can hear L.A. Reid on drums performing on the funky “Wake Up” that predates his time with Babyface in The Deele and certainly before he was a co-founder of LaFace and on The X Factor. A full tracklisting can be seen from the Amazon link above.

The most impressive piece of this package is the book itself. Frequent fans of the label no doubt have an appreciation for the detail with which Now Again label head Eothen Alapatt presents his liner notes. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Presented here is an 80-page booklet that takes liner notes to a new level. A 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ book is the main showcase with pictures galore and multiple paragraphs for each song selection. Session details conclude the book including the original release label, year, the recording studio used, and the personnel involved where known.

More pictures of the CD and vinyl versions along with the accompanying book can be seen over on Now Again’s official site. This is just a sign of things to come for the label this year in terms of expanding beyond expanded packaging and discs.

Counting Crows: Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) (Collective Sounds)
File Under: Pop

The Counting Crows are approaching their 20-year anniversary (2013) of signing to a major label. This year, they are releasing independently. Their first offering is a wide spanning covers collection of everyone from Dawes to Dylan, The Faces to Travis. The proverbial “and more” is still applicable.

Florence + The Machine: MTV Unplugged (Universal Republic)
File Under: Pop

Friends I know who have seen the group in concert says that they are truly amazing. Florence Welch moves all over the stage and really gets the energy pumping. If you, like I, are curious to see that in action, then perhaps you should pick up the CD/DVD combo of her MTV Unplugged performance which just recently aired for the first time.

For a preview:

Florence + the MachineOnly If For The Night (Live)MusicMore Music Videos

Bonnie Raitt: Slipstream (Redwing Records)
File Under: Rock, Blues

Grammy-winning and critical darling (and it probably goes without saying… damn fine guitarist) returns with her first studio set in 7 years with Slipstream. NPR First Listen provides you with a way to listen before you buy the entire set.

John Oates Band: The Bluesville Sessions (WBA)
File Under: Rock, Blues, Live

He may not be Live From Daryl’s House on this release, but he is live from Sirius XM (or at least he was at the time). Now, in your own living room, car, gym,… wherever you’d like to hear it, you can listen to a live set of John Oates perform a host of covers (including one Oates fans should be familiar with in “Maneater”) alongside Percy Mayfield’s “(Please) Send Me Someone To Love,” The Impressions’ “It’s All Right,” and the old standard “Sittin’ On Top Of The World.”

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