Ringo Starr kicks off Give More Love, his 18th studio album of new material, with "We're on the Road Again," an ode to the working musician that effectively summarizes the third act of his career. Following the formation of the All-Starr Band, Ringo has stuck to a regular schedule of tours and albums that pop up every two or three years. Paul McCartney shows up every so often, as he does on Give More Love, singing and playing on "We're on the Road Again" – a cameo that provides a promotional hook for its initial release, but doesn't drastically change the sound of the album. Starr remains fond of late-period Beatles, goosed with a bit of arena rock volume, and since he's working with a group of well-seasoned pros, this guitar pop is all well crafted and amiable.
With …Twice Shy, Great White followed through on the promise of Once Bitten…, turning in a tight, hard-rocking album that featured well-chosen covers (Ian Hunter's "Once Bitten Twice Shy") and impressive originals that replicated the classic arena rock sound of the '70s ("House of Broken Love," "Mistah Bone"). The result was the band's best album and its most popular – the album broke into the Top Ten and sold over two million copies.
Released in late 1986, "Think Visual" is the first album the Kinks did for MCA Records. Arista Records seemingly sensed that the Kinks period of commercial renaissance was over following the dropoff in sales of 1984's "Word Of Mouth". Indeed, the sales dropoff continued with "Think Visual", but don't let that fool you. "Think Visual" is an engaging, spirited rock record that no Kinks fan should be without.
In Randy Newman’s musical version of Faust, not even God is safe from the poison baton. Newman has rounded up a bunch of his friends to sing the parts — James Taylor, Don Henley, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt. And that’s pretty close to the roster of the band playing in my idea of hell. Yet Faust turns out to be the best work in years for all involved. The musical poses a question Newman first raised in “God’s Song (That’s Why I Love Mankind),” from 1972’s Sail Away, one that Christianity can’t adequately answer. If God is good and omnipotent, why would he allow the Holocaust, the Cambodian killing fields, O.J. Simpson’s acquittal or Jim Carrey’s success? On Faust, the Lord, played with relish by Taylor (appropriately backed by a gospel choir), is just as complex and interesting as the devil…
For the past dozen or so years, Swedish singer-songwriter Daniel Norgren has been releasing albums full of romantically-rendered Southern folk interpretations for European audiences. Wooh Dang, his sparse eighth album, is the first to be released in the United States, and will likely help establish the 35 year-old singer-songwriter to an Americana scene that his music fits neatly into. Over ten songs, Norgren offers a survey course of sorts in 20th century American roots music: “Dandelion Time” is a Southern blues indebted to Howlin Wolf; “The Power” draws from Smokey Robinson’s pop balladry; “Let Love Run the Game,” the album’s shining centerpiece, is a finely-tuned classic soul pastiche by way of Muscle Shoals. There’s an innocence and intensity to Norgren’s reimagination of the American South, a tendency towards straightforward appropriation countered by the careful studiousness with which Norgren approaches his source material.