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Mike Ragogna

Mike Ragogna

Posted: November 9, 2009 03:00 AM

HuffPost Reviews: Bon Jovi, The Killers, AC/DC, Sting, Tori Amos, and More, Plus This Week's New Albums

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Bon Jovi - The Circle

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From its single "We Weren't Born To Follow" through its closer "Learn To Love," The Circle doesn't overextend or pretend to be anything more than a good Bon Jovi record. Presented here are twelve non-stop anthems whose only mission is to make you feel good or at least make you feel something. Jon has stated, "I try to do this to a fault: I won't write a downer song because I want to use that moment for the people that are listening to find something to lift them up," and album highlights like "...Follow," "Superman Tonight," and "Work For The Working Man" pound that point home. Even the album's ballads such as "Live Before You Die" supply as much positivity and fist-pounding confidence building as their uptempo cousins, all songs achieving this without sounding preachy.

The eternally youthful Jon Bon Jovi and his disciples have built their ministry upon the same New Jersey rock that Bruce Springsteen assembled his flock (although, musically, a John Mellencamp comparison would be more appropriate), and the band used this album as a slight genuflection to their own glory days. Jon's ever-growing soulful vocals and this latest batch of stadium-rousing songs will no doubt re-energize this maturing rock band's fan base, and it's fun to watch Bon Jovi's popularity just keep going, and going, and going... Start Here: "We Weren't Born To Follow," "Bullet," and "Work For The Working Man"

Tracks:

CD
1. We Weren't Born To Follow
2. When We Were Beautiful
3. Work For The Working Man
4. Superman Tonight
5. Bullet
6. Thorn In My Side
7. Live Before You Die
8. Brokenpromiseland
9. Love's The Only Rule
10. Fast Cars
11. Happy Now
12. Learn To Love

DVD (video and 5.1 content)
1. Garden, Pt. 1
2. European Tour
3. Hallelujah
4. London
5. Wanted Dead or Alive
6. Back in NYC
7. Photo Shoot
8. Detroit
9. Central Park
10. Garden Part 2
11. Recording Studio
12. Garden, Pt. 1
13. European Tour
14. Hallelujah
15. London
16. Wanted Dead Or Alive
17. Back in NYC
18. Photo Shoot
19. Detroit
20. Central Park
21. Garden Part, Pt. 2
22. Recording Studio


AC/DC - Backtracks

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Appropriately housed in a black box/mock-amplifier, AC/DC's rarities crank out across two CDs, covering Aussie singles ("High Voltage"), movie one-offs ("Big Gun" from Last Action Hero), rare b-sides ("Fling Thing"), 12" mixes ("Who Made Who"), and mucho live material that fills up disc two and then some (we'll get to that). The live tracks were taken mainly from their appearances at the Sydney Festival, Glasgow's Apollo Theater, London's Hammersmith Odeon, and US spots such as Landover's Capital Center, and Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. The standard package also comes with a "Family Jewels Disc Three" DVD (continuing their previous FJ theme) that includes their videos for "Big Gun" and forward, while focusing on classics from Ballbreaker, Stiff Upper Lip, and Black Ice. Additional vids include alternate versions of fan faves and a couple of "Making Of" EPKs.

So is Backtracks any good? Hell yeah! Pretty much everyone's in agreement that this forefather of metal pioneered a lot of loudness in the old days, and the rawness of their live material makes the case for their genuine pre-Pro Tools talents and tenacity. If there isn't enough to blow up your world in the three-disc standard version, the very deluxe edition features another fully-loaded CD of live performances from Donnington Park, Moscow, and Madrid, plus an extra DVD with the rockers' 2003 Circu Krone concert in Munich during which AC/DC relied on its peeled-back, core sound for much of its energy. So much rawk, so little time. Start Here: "Dirty Deeds Done Cheap," "You Shook Me All Night Long," and "Jailbreak" (Note - The deluxe edition collector's version will come housed in an official AC/DC amplifier, and is available at this website: www.acdcbacktracks.com)

Tracks:

CD 1
1. Stick Around
2. Love Song
3. Fling Thing
4. R.I.P. (Rock In Peace)
5. Carry Me Home
6. Crabsody In Blue
7. Cold Hearted Man
8. Snake Eye
9. Borrowed Time
10. Down On The Borderline
11. Big Gun
12. Cyberspace

CD 2 - Live
1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
2. Dog Eat Dog
3. Live Wire
4. Shot Down In Flames
5. Back In Black
6. T.N.T.
7. Let There Be Rock
8. Guns For Hire
9. Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution
10. This House Is On Fire
11. You Shook Me All Night Long
12. Jailbreak
13. Highway To Hell
14. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
15. Safe In New York City

DVD / Videos
1. Big Gun
2. Hard As A Rock
3. Hail Caesar
4. Cover You In Oil
5. Stiff Upper Love
6. Satellite Blues
7. Safe In New York City
8. Rock N Roll Train
9. Anything Goes
10. Jailbreak
11. It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)
12. Highway To Hell
13. You Shook Me All Night Long
14. Guns For Hire
15. Dirty Deeds Done Cheap - live
16. Highway To Hell - live
17. The Making Of "Hard As A Rock"
18. The Making Of "Rock N Roll Train


The Killers - Live From The Royal Albert Hall

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For a while, live albums used to serve as stop-gaps between studio releases. Now more than ever, it seems that recording artists, especially rock acts, are serving-up live albums as their essential releases, with CD/DVD combos being the new, standard format. The Killers benefit incredibly from this evolution, with Live From The Royal Albert Hall being a very satisfying audio disc and HD concert film that shows the band at work from every creative camera angle you can think of (including the mandatory "Fan's Eye View"). On the DVD portion, director Dick Carruthers celebrates pyrotechnics and performances equally, though The Killers' theatrics and musicianship only are enhanced by the rollercoaster visuals. The group covers virtually all of its hits and signature songs from its four killer albums, and the DVD's bonus features include even more performances from the Oxegen and V festivals as well as a couple songs from Hyde Park. So you might say (please don't) it's all Killers, no fillers...no, it really is. Start Here: "Smile Like You Mean It," "Human," and "Mr. Brightside"

Tracks:

CD
1. Human
2. This Is Your Life
3. Somebody Told Me
4. The World We Live In
5. I Can't Stay
6. Bling (Confession of A King)
7. Shadowplay
8. Smile Like You Mean It
9. Losing Touch
10. Spaceman
11. A Dustland Fairytale
12. Sam's Town (Acoustic)
13. Read My Mind
14. Mr. Brightside
15. All These Things That I've Done
16. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine
17. When You Were Young

DVD
1. Human
2. This Is Your Life
3. Somebody Told Me
4. For Reasons Unknown
5. The World We Live In
6. Joy Ride
7. I Can't Stay
8. Bling (Confession Of A King)
9. Shadowplay
10. Smile Like You Mean It
11. Losing Touch
12. Spaceman
13. A Dustland Fairytale
14. Sam's Town - acoustic
15. Read My Mind
16. Mr. Brightside
17. All These Things That I've Done
18. Sweet Talk
19. This River Is Wild
20. Bones
21. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine
22. When You Were Young
23. Behind-the-scenes documentary including interviews with crew and fans.
24. Tranquilize - Oxegen Festival
25. Human - Hyde Park
26. Mr. Brightside - Hyde Park
27. Smile Like You Mean It - V Festival
28. When You Were Young - V Festival


Sting - If On A Winter's Night...

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The jig that is Sting's "Soul Cake" reintroduces us to the traditional holiday perennial that Peter, Paul & Mary once immortalized with an insight into melancholy that the trio's brooding version never communicated. That's not surprising since almost all of the the music presented on If On A Winter's Night... is as warm and loving as Bob Cratchitt's Christmas home. Hearing Sting and his entourage embrace mostly English folk traddies should make one wonder why he's never done this before. Filling like mead, its authenticity makes some of Sting's more calculated works seem thin, with even the drunken revisit of his original "The Hounds Of Winter" and the touching "Lullaby For An Anxious Child"--the latter co-written with the artist's long-term guitarist, Dominic Miller--rising above many of his recent recordings. Sting's occasional regional affectations and thick-throated vocals for the more classical pieces sound very comfortable on tracks such as "Cold Song" and "You Only Cross My Mind In Winter," and, overall, the artist's voice is tempered by an acoustic ensemble that includes Miller, harpist Mary Macmaster, cellist Vincent Ségal, bassist Ira Coleman, guitarist David Mansfield, fiddle-player Katheryn Tickel, and Julian Sutton on melodeon. In many ways, If On A Winter's Night... is a return to Sting's genetic roots, and it's his most natural sounding release in years. Start Here: "Christmas At Sea," "Soul Cake," and "The Hurdy-Gurdy Man" (not Donovan's)

Tracks:
1. Gabriel's Message
2. Soul Cake
3. There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue
4. The Snow It Melts The Soonest
5. Christmas At Sea
6. Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming
7. Cold Song
8. The Burning Babe
9. Now Winter Comes Slowly
10. The Hounds Of Winter
11. Balulalow
12. Cherry Tree Carol
13. Lullaby For An Anxious Child
14. The Hurdy Gurdy Man
15. You Only Cross My Mind In Winter


Tori Amos - Midwinter Graces

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What comes as a breath of fresh, pine-scented air this holiday season is a flurry of "winter" albums by the likes of Sting and Tori Amos, both artists revealing more about potential future endeavors than perhaps the albums they've just released. With John Philip Shenale arrangements holding the waif's hand as they walk together through musics of older times, Tori Amos' beautiful vocals and recordings range between visions of an orphan looking at delicacies through frosty restaurant windows to dark stories from a worldly soul who's seen too many mirthless seasons pass. In either case, whether she's turning around standard carols such as "What Child Is This?" or "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming" ("What Child, Nowell," "Holly, Ivy And Rose") or adding her own titles to the secular Christmas catalog ("Our New Year," and the sultry "Pink And Glitter"), Tori Amos is so at home in this wintry environment, she may want to consider permanently keeping Spring at bay. Start Here: "Snow Angel," "Star Of Wonder," "Harps Of Gold," and "Winter's Carol"

Tracklist:
1. What Child, Nowell
2. Star Of Wonder
3. A Silent Night With You
4. Candle: Coventry Carol
5. Holly, Ivy And Rose
6. Harps Of Gold
7. Snow Angel
8. Jeanette, Isabella
9. Pink And Glitter
10. Emmanuel
11. Winter's Carol
12. Our New Year


ONE LINERS:

Wyclef Jean aka Toussaint St. Jean - From The Hut, To The Projects, To The Mansion

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Wyclef Jean's From The Hut, To The Projects, To The Mansion (with DJ Drama) fuses many genres--especially world and hip-hop--to create a satisfying urban amalgam as presented by the artist's persona T.I. Toussaint, a character loosely based on the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture who, basically, brought the country out of obscurity in the 18th Century. Start Here: "Warrior's Anthem," "Suicide Love" with Eve, and "Gangsta Girl" with L'il Kim

Tracks:
1. Interlude - From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion
2. Warrior's Anthem
3. The Streets Pronounce Me Dead
4. Slumdog Millionaire - with Cyndi Lauper
5. Interlude - Every Now & Then
6. Walk Away
7. More Bottles
8. You Don't Wanna Go Outside
9. Toussaint vs. Bishop
10. Interlude - The Struggle
11. We Made It
12. Suicide Love - with Eve
13. Letter From The Penn
14. Robotic Love
15. Gangsta Girl - with L'il Kim
16. Interlude - Tell The Kids The Truth
17. The Shottas


Jeff Larson - Heart Of The Valley

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Borrowing some of what was best of the L.A. singer-songwriter scene, Jeff Larson's new album Heart Of The Valley--produced by America's Gerry Beckley--doesn't try to change what made popster Jeff Larson popular, but emphasizes his artistic side with catchy songs and Valley-meets-Laurel Canyon sensibilities. Start Here: "Minus Marci," "Heart Of The Valley" and "One Lit Window"

Tracks:
1. Heart Of The Valley
2. Sudden Soldier
3. Airport Smiles
4. Minus Marci
5. Calling
6. One Way Ticket
7. Five Mile Road
8. Southern Girl
9. Two People At Once
10. Wishing Well
11. One Lit Window


Pete Seeger - Live In '65

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Live In '65 documents one of the folk legend's greatest performances during which he commands a crowd with scores of the genre's important anthems, his faithful banjo, and miles of wit. Start Here: "Malaika"

Tracks:

CD 1
1. Oh Susanna
2. He Lies in an American Land
3. Oleanna
4. Uh, Uh, Uh
5. Never Wed an Old Man
6. When I First Came to This Land
7. All Mixed Up
8. I Come and Stand at Every Door
9. Malaika
10. May There Always Be Sunshine
11. Manyura Manya
12. The Freedom Come-All-Ye
13. Peat Bog Soldiers
14. Los Cuatro Generales
15. Turn! Turn! Turn!
16. Healing River

CD 2
1. This Little Light of Mine
2. Old Joe Clark
3. Going Across The Mountain
4. Praties Grow Small
5. Step By Step
6. Greensleeves
7. I Once Loved A Lass
8. Queen Anne Front
9. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
10. The Bells Of Rhymney
11. If I Had A Hammer
12. Guantanamera
13. This Land Is Your Land
14. Where Have All The Flowers Gone
15. Abiyoyo


THE GREATEST NEW GREATEST HITS

Foo Fighters - Greatest Hits

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Tracks:

CD
1. All My Life
2. Best Of You
3. Everlong
4. The Pretender
5. My Hero
6. Learn To Fly
7. Times Like These
8. Monkeywrench
9. Big Me
10. Breakout
11. Long Road To Ruin
12. This is a Call
13. Skin and Bones
14. Wheels
15. Word Forward
16. Everlong - acoustic

DVD
1.I'll Stick Around
2.Big Me
3.Monkey Wrench
4.Everlong
5.My Hero
6.Walking After You
7.Learn To Fly
8.Next Year
9.All My Life
10.Times Like These
11.Low
12.Best Of You
13.DOA
14.Resolve
15.The Pretender
16.Long Road To Ruin
17.Wheels
18.Everlong - live
19.Breakout - live
20.Skin And Bones - live
21.All My Life - live


Queen - Absolute Greatest

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Tracks:

CD 1
1. We Will Rock You
2. We Are The Champions
3. Radio Ga Ga
4. Another One Bites The Dust
5. I Want It All
6. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
7. A Kind Of Magic
8. Under Pressure
9. One Vision
10. You're My Best Friend
11. Don't Stop Me Now
12. Killer Queen
13. These Are The Days Of Our Lives
14. Who Wants To Live Forever
15. Seven Seas Of Rhye
16. Heaven For Everyone
17. Somebody To Love
18. I Want To Break Free
19. The Show Must Go On
20. Bohemian Rhapsody

CD 2 - all tracks with commentaries


Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Singles Collection

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Tracks:

CD 1
1. Porterville
2. Call It Pretending
3. Suzie Q, Pt. 1
4. Suzie Q, Pt. 2
5. I Put a Spell On You
6. Walk On The Water
7. Proud Mary
8. Born On The Bayou
9. Bad Moon Rising
10. Lodi
11. Green River
12. Commotion
13. Fortunate Son
14. Down On The Corner
15. Travelin' Band
16. Who'll Stop The Rain

CD 2
1. Run Through The Jungle
2. Up Around The Bend
3. Long As I Can See The Light
4. Lookin' Out My Back Door
5. Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
6. Hey Tonight
7. Sweet Hitch-Hiker
8. Door To Door
9. Someday Never Comes
10. Tearin' Up The Country
11. Heard It Through The Grapevine
12. Good Golly, Miss Molly
13. 45 Revolutions Per Minute, Pt. 1
14. 45 Revolutions Per Minute, Pt. 2

DVD
1. I Heard It Through The Grapevine
2. Bootleg
3. I Put a Spell On You
4. Lookin' Out My Back Door


THIS WEEK'S NEW RELEASES:

AC/DC - Backtracks (double disc, DVD)
Jan Akkerman - Profile
Woody Allen - Songs That Made Woody Allen Movies Great (double disc)
Tori Amos - Midwinter Graces (CD/DVD)
Anthrax - Among The Living: Deluxe Edition (CD/DVD) (double disc)
Bon Jovi - The Circle (CD/DVD)
David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name (vinyl)
Crosby, Stills & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash (vinyl)
Dashboard Confessional - Alter the Ending
Ray Davies & The Crouch End Festival Chorus - The Kinks Choral Collection
Paul Davis - A Little Bit Of Paul Davis
Paul Davis - Ride 'Em Cowboy
Paul Davis - Southern Tracks And Fantasies
Paul Davis - Singer of Songs -- Teller Of Tales
Paul Davis - Paul Davis
Paul Davis - Cool Night
DBA (Rick Derringer, Tim Bogert & Carmen Appice) - The Sky Is Falling
Echo & The Bunnymen - The Fountain
Eddie & The Tide - Go Out And Get It
Eddie & The Tide - Looking For An Adventure
Ella Fitzgerald - Twelve Nights In Hollywood (4 CD box set)
Flyleaf - Memento Mori
Samantha Fox - Samantha Fox
Samantha Fox - Touch Me
Samantha Fox - Wanna Have Some Fun
Jerry Garcia Band - The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 2: Jerry Garcia Band (double disc)
John Hall - John Hall
Robyn Hitchcock - I Often Dream Of Trains in New York (CD/DVD)
Billie Holiday - The Complete Commodore & Decca Masters
The Jackson 5 - I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters
Wyclef Jean - DJ Drama Presents Wyclef
Jean -- Toussaint St. Jean: From The Hut, To The Projects, To The Mansion
Katherine Jenkins - The Ultimate Collection
Michael Johnson - There Is A Breeze
Katatonia - Night Is The New Day
Kidz Bop Kids - Kidz Bop Sings The Beatles
The Killers - Live From the Royal Albert Hall (CD/DVD)
The King Family - The King Family Show!/The King Family Album
The King Family - Christmas With the King Family
The King Family - The King Family Live! In the Round/The New Sounds Of The Fabulous King Sisters
Ladytron - Light & Magic
Laurie & The Sighs - Laurie & The Sighs
LeBlanc & Carr - Midnight Light
Ramsey Lewis - Love Notes
Ramsey Lewis - Blues For The Night Owl
Ramsey Lewis - Chance Encounter
Ramsey Lewis - Live At The Savoy
Ramsey Lewis - Les Fleurs
Little Feat - Representing The Mambo
Looking Glass - Looking Glass/Subway Serenade
Taj Mahal - Recycling the Blues & Other Related Stuff/Oooh So Good 'n Blues
Buddy Miles - Chapter VII
Buddy Miles - All the Faces Of Buddy Miles
Jason Mraz - Jason Mraz's Beautiful Mess: Live on Earth (CD/DVD)
Gary Myrick - Gary Myrick & The Figures
Gary Myrick - Living In A Movie
Gary Myrick - Language
Dolly Parton - Dolly Live From London (CD/DVD)
Queen - Absolute Greatest
The Rolling Stones - Love You Live (double disc)
The Rolling Stones - Still Life
The Rolling Stones - Flashpoint
The Rolling Stones - Stripped
The Rolling Stones - Live Licks (double disc)
Stan Ridgway & Pietra Wexstun - Silly Songs For Kids, Volume One
Saint Eitienne - Saint Etienne Present Songs For The Dog And Duck
Alejandro Sanz - Paraíso Express
Earl Scruggs - Nashville's Rock
Earl Scruggs - Rockin' Cross the Country
Earl Scruggs - Family Portrait
Earl Scruggs - Strike Anywhere
Earl Scruggs - Live! From Austin City Limits
Earl Scruggs - Bold & New
Earl Scruggs - The Storyteller & The Banjo Man
Doc Severinsen - Brass Roots
Doc Severinsen - Doc
Doc Severinsen - Brass On Ivory
Doc Severinsen - Rhapsody For Now!
Doc Severinsen - Night Journey
Doc Severinsen - Brand New Thing
Snow Patrol - Up to Now (double disc)
Britney Spears - The Singles Collection
The Starting Line - Somebody's Gonna Miss Us (CD/DVD)
The Statler Brothers - Flowers on the Wall/Big Country Hits
Spandau Ballet - Once More
Switchfoot - Hello Hurricane
Koko Taylor - What It Takes: The Chess Years
B.J. Thomas - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry/Tomorrow Never Comes
B.J. Thomas - On My Way/Young And In Love
B.J. Thomas - Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head/Everybody's Out Of Town
Throwdown - Deathless
The Tubes - Mondo Birthmark
2012 - soundtrack
Wale - Attention: Deficit
Steve Wariner - My Tribute To Chet Atkins


 
 
 

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