Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases. This week we take a look at Toto, Rupert Holmes and Jon Savage's 1965.
Toto: Greatest Hits - 40 Trips Around The Sun (Legacy/Sony Music 88985469912)
Its title commemorating their 40th anniversary as a band, and timed to coincide with their extensive world tour, which reaches the UK in April, this is far from being the first Toto compilation but it does contain a good cross section of their material hitherto - all newly remastered - and adds three new tracks. All of them are worthy of the Toto name, especially the incendiary Struck By Lightning, which reminds us that although many of their better known recordings are melodic soft rock or AOR, they truly are musicians of the highest pedigree who can rock out with the best of them. Having said that, it is songs like Rosanna, Africa, and Hold The line which have a timeless appeal. Ditto the gorgeous I Won't Hold You Back - so memorably sampled by Roger Sanchez for his smash hit Another Chance - and the sinewy funk masterpiece Georgy Porgy with its uncredited co-vocal from the estimable Cheryl Lynn. Although Lea wasn't a hit, it is an excellent song and the only track that really begs the question why is Jake To The Bone, an emptily smacking instrumental which occupies seven minutes of space that could otherwise have gone to more worthy cuts, for example the serviceable power ballad which also served as the band's last UK hit, I Will Remember.
Rupert Holmes: Songs That Sound Like Movies: The Complete Epic Recordings (Cherry Red CDTRED 720)
Although regarded as a quintessentially American singer, songwriter, producer, author and playwright, Rupert Holmes was born David Goldstein in Cheshire some 70 years ago, and his stage name is a tip of the hat to his British heritage, combining memories of Rupert The Bear and Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps best known to pop audiences for his MCA hits, Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and Him, Holmes had previously had considerable success as a songwriter and producer, and recorded some substantial and varied material for other labels. This new 3CD set includes the three albums he recorded for Epic in the period immediately before his MCA stint, and a substantial number of bonus tracks. Perhaps the best of these is his first album, Widescreen, a beautifully realised concept album, with filmic and theatrical 'story songs', which are both witty and melodic. The title track is intense and lushly orchestrated, with Holmes' vocals soaring and swooping impressively - though my favourite track is Our National Pastime, a beautifully told story of seduction, which interpolates The Star Spangled Banner and includes a spoken cameo (sadly uncredited) from his date, who literally deflates her beau by revealing that her name was Karen, only for a devastated Holmes to say 'that was my mother's name'. Holmes' eponymous second album and third set, Singles, are also full of sublime delights and the bonus material is excellent, including rare live tracks and, for example, Holmes' own version of Queen Bee, a song that Barbra Streisand recorded on the soundtrack to A Star Is Born, one of several albums on which she collaborated with him. Each album is housed in a sturdy cardboard replica of its original sleeve, and an excellent package is completed by an informative 20 page booklet, which includes a new interview with Holmes himself.
Various: Jon Savage's 1965: The Year The Sixties Ignited (Ace CDTOP 21513)
When Ace released Jon Savage's 1966: The Year The Decade Exploded in 2016, it was as an audio companion to his insightful book about a pivotal year in pop history, as viewed from a historical perspective half a century later. The album was so successful it took on a life of its own, generating first a sequel (1967) and then this prequel. The formula remains the same, with 48 songs, all in mono, spread across 2 CDs. As before, it comprises hits and lesser known songs from a number of genres and is accompanied by a richly-detailed and copiously-illustrated 24 page booklet. 1965 was, opines Savage, the year that the sixties 'went weird'. That may be so, but it was also a year of great music, represented here by a potpourri of excellence that pits magnificent Motown (Marvin Gaye's Ain't That Peculiar) against superlative Stax (In The Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett); provides an opportunity to hear London's spikey Birds take flight with a spikey Leaving Here and Los Angeles high-flyers The Byrds honing their magnificent jangly pop style with early success I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better; and sees Vashti's sublime recording of Jagger & Richard's Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind holding its own against a similarly folky take on Lennon & McCartney's You've Got To Hide Your Love Away by The Silkie. Some of the most delightful tracks are those that are least well known, with Karren Verros' You Just Gotta Know My Mind being a minor femme classic, while Coventry band The Sorrows' punky, tribal R&B cut You've Got What I Want is a terrific but sadly unsuccessful song of great economy, that runs for less than two minutes.