Release Day Picks: September 21st New Album Highlights
Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by Prince, Amy Helm, Billy Gibbons, John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, Carl Broemel, Scott Sharrard, Particle, Mountain Man, Adam’s House Cat and The Artisanals. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Prince – Piano & A Microphone 1983
The Scoop: When Prince tragically died two years ago, questions about the cache of unreleased recordings The Purple One accumulated during his career were immediate. The estate for the multi-talented Minnesota-native prepared a new posthumous album from that stash of unheard tapes that’s out today entitled, Piano & A Microphone 1983. As the title implies, the 9 tracks on the new LP were culled from a solo rehearsal session recorded by Prince in 1983 at his Paisley Park facility in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Included are solo piano arrangements of “Purple Rain” (prior to its 1984 release), “International Lover,” “17 Days,” “Strange Relationship,” a cover of “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell, his take on the traditional spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep” and others.
Amy Helm – This Too Shall Light
The Scoop: For her sophomore solo album Amy Helm teamed up with roots music super-producer Joe Henry. The result can be heard on This Too Shall Light a ten-track collection that was recorded over the span of four days at United Recording Studios in Los Angeles. The album features a mix of originals and covers. The majority of the new music was penned by Helm and Henry, with the record’s title track co-written by Josh Kaufman of Bob Weir’s Campfire Band and Hiss Golden Messenger mastermind M.C. Taylor. Helm also puts her spin on tunes from the likes of The Milk Carton Kids, Rod Stewart, T. Bone Burnett, Allen Toussaint and Blossom Dearie. This Too Shall Light also includes “The Stones I Throw” from her father Levon Helm’s pre-The Band days.
Billy Gibbons – The Big Bad Blues
The Scoop: Billy Gibbons is certainly no stranger to the blues having spent the majority of his career as the lead singer and guitarist in ZZ Top. Gibbons is now stepping outside his full-time band for the second time to release The Big Bad Blues. Co-produced by Gibbons and Joe Hardy, the 11-track effort finds Gibbons offering up a selection of covers from the likes of Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley along with originals. Recorded in his hometown of Houston at Foam Box Recordings, the album features Billy backed by Hardy on bass, drummers Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver/The Cult) and Greg Morrow, keyboardist Mike ‘The Drifter’ Flanigin and blues harp player James Harmon.
John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring – Live In San Francisco
The Scoop: Acclaimed guitarists John McLaughlin and Jimmy Herring teamed up last fall for The Meeting Of The Spirits Tour. Recorded at The Warfield on December 8, 2017 at the tour’s penultimate show, Live In San Francisco captures the collaborative closing segment of the performance. Featuring McLaughlin and his band The 4th Dimension made up of Ranjit Barot (drums, konokol), Gary Husband (keyboards, drums), and Etienne M’Bappé (bass) as well as Herring his band The Invisible Whip made up Kevin Scott (bass), Matt Slocum (Clavinet and B3), Jason Crosby (Fender Rhodes, violin, vocals) and Jeff Sipe (drums) the live release focuses on material from McClaughlin’s work with The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Included are such Mahavishnu favorites as “Meeting Of The Spirits,” “A Lotus On Irish Streams” and “The Dance Of The Maya” from 1971’s The Inner Mounting Flame, the title track from 1973’s Birds Of Fire and “Trilogy” from 1973’s Between Nothingness & Eternity.
Robert Walter’s 20th Congress – Spacesuit
The Scoop: Acclaimed musician Robert Walter aimed to move beyond the worlds of funk and soul to explore new sonic ground on his latest record. With this in mind, the keyboardist put together a new Robert Walter’s 20th Congress lineup that finds him joined by drummer Simon Lott, bassist Victor Little and guitarist Chris Alford. The resulting album is the 10-track Spacesuit, out today via The Royal Potato Family. “I wanted to break myself out of writing music about music,” the founding member of The Greyboy Allstars and current keyboardist for Mike Gordon’s touring band said of the material on the new LP. “I remember when I was a kid I loved all the mysterious qualities about science fiction, comic books and movies. I started looking at those kinds of things, trying to find something to get influenced by other than musical genre worship.” One such inspiration was Jodorowsky’s Dune, a 2013 documentary about a version of Dune that filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky planned but never produced. “I always want to make the record that I wish I found going through the record stacks,” Walter added. “I love the idea of trying to create an imaginary film or a record from 1972 that you wish you could buy.”
Carl Broemel – Wished Out
The Scoop: While My Morning Jacket remain on an an extended hiatus, the band’s guitarist Carl Broemel is using the opportunity to once again stretch his wings outside his full-time role. Broemel headed to his newly-built home studio in Nashville to record his third solo album Wished Out. The eight-track effort features contributions from his MMJ band mates keyboardist Bo Koster and bassist Tom Blankenship, as well as former Deer Tick keyboardist Robbie Crowell and former Sebadoh drummer Russ Pollard. “My songwriting can be very mellow. I love that mood, but I needed more balance this time around,” Broemel stated about the album. “I needed more energy! Wished Out is all about the yin and yang.”
Scott Sharrard – Saving Grace
The Scoop: The late Gregg Allman spent the last few years of his illustrious career fronting perhaps the best solo band he ever put together. Allman’s final group thrived in big part thanks to its musical director, guitarist Scott Sharrard. The talented guitarist/songwriter steps into the spotlight on his latest album, the 11-track Saving Grace. Sharrard tapped Scott Bomar and Charles Martinez to co-produce the We Save Music release. Scott used the Hi Rhythm Section of Howard Grimes, Reverend Charles Hodges and Leroy Hodges to record half the album and famed Muscle Shoals musicians David Hood, Spooner Oldham and Chad Gamble for the other half. Legendary blues man Taj Mahal and drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie contribute to “Everything A Good Man Needs,” which Scott co-wrote with Gregg. “These guys are legends and heroes of ours who have played on so many life-changing records,” Sharrard said of the musicians he assembled for sessions in Memphis and Muscle Shoals. “This record was steeped in the best the South has to offer. We cut the rhythm section and lead vocals live on the floor, direct to tape. Old school. We let the songs and the band speak. We also had some of the best barbecue and soul food you could ever imagine, and a lot of laughs and good times with our heroes. How can you lose?”
Particle – Accelerator
The Scoop: Fourteen years ago livetronica act Particle put out their debut record Launchpad. Now, the follow-up, Accelerator, is finally here. Founding member Steve Molitz is joined on the LP by guitarist Mike Daum, drummer Kito Bovenschulte and bassist Clay Parnell. Accelerator features nine original tracks recorded during sessions held both at Woodstock’s Applehead Recording and at video game developer Saber Interactive in the New York City suburb of Maplewood, New Jersey. The long awaited album is described as “the consummation of a fiery rock band engulfed in a world of analog synths along with the latest digital production techniques ”
Mountain Man – Magic Ship
The Scoop: In 2010 while attending college together in Vermont, Mountain Man recorded their debut album Made The Harbor. Following its critically acclaimed release, the trio of Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Molly Sarlé and Amelia Meath disbanded, with Meath going on to form Sylvan Esso. They reassembled for a performance at the 2017 Eaux Claires festival in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which led to their convening in North Carolina to record the long-awaited, 14-track, self-produced follow-up. Included are 11 new originals alongside covers of Ted Lucas’ “Baby Where You Are,” Michael Hurley’s “Blue Mountain” and the traditional “Bright Morning Stars.”
Adam’s House Cat – Town Burned Down
The Scoop: Drive-By Truckers-precursor Adam’s House Cat recorded an album in late-1990 at Muscle Shoals Sound Recording Studio with producer/engineer Steve Melton. Titled Town Burned Down, the record was never released after the original master tapes were misplaced and later destroyed in a tornado. DBT co-founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley formed Adam’s House Cat with late drummer John Cahoon and bassist Chuck Tremblay. In early-1991, Tremblay was replaced by Chris Quillen, who died a car accident only days before he was to become a founding member of DBT. Three boxes of tapes labeled “ADAM’S HOUSE CAT” mysteriously showed up at longtime DBT producer David Barbe’s studio vault in Athens, Georgia. Inside were the Town Burned Down unmixed 2-inch master tapes plus an additional “EP’s worth of songs.” After Tremblay suffered a nearly fatal heart attack in ealy-2017, Barbe was enlisted to remix the album for its first official release. On April 16 of this year, Hood, Cooley and Tremblay came together for the first time in 27 years to oversee the remix.
The Artisanals – The Artisanals
The Scoop: Charleston, South Carolina-based The Artisanals channel the music of rockers from the past six decades with contemporary artists to forget their own sound. The quintet display that sound on their self-titled full length record issued through AWAL. Co-produced with Wolfgang Zimmerman, The Artisanals features 10 tracks laid down at the Magic Barn — a new studio in Iowa that uses gear imported from New York City’s Magic Shop Studio after its 2016 closure including a Neve console. “Sonically [recording at The Magic Barn] made our songs sound huge,” frontman Johnny Delaware told Glide about the new record. “We always knew we wanted our production for this album to have an arena feel to it, so the equipment at The Magic Barn transcended our expectations for that. That Neve board heavily influenced the mix of the album.”
Compiled by Jeffrey Greenblatt, Andy Kahn and Scott Bernstein.