A Motown Anniversary Collection

Growing up near Detroit, in an age when vinyl ruled the airwaves, I can’t help but to have a great appreciation for Motown. Barry Gordy Jr. established Motown Records in 1959.  In the ’60s and ’70s Motown not only defined a specific style of music, the record label and the artists signed to it, also helped define a city.

The only bad part about this five album set is deciding which side to listen to when you only have time for one. I usually decide by randomly grabbing one and playing whatever side is facing up when it comes out of the sleeve. 

Today’winner:  record four, side one.

  • Diana Ross &The Supremes – Come See About Me
  • Stevie Wonder – Fingertips
  • Diana Ross – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
  • Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On
  • Commodores – Brick House

Brian May and Friends – Starfleet Project

When Brian May went into the studio with Eddie Van Halen and Alan Gratzer (drummer for REO Speedwagon) to record the songs on Starfleet Project, he had no intention of releasing the songs from the sessions.  Because of his son, he had become a fan of a Japanese sci-fi show on the BBC, and had been wanting to record a hard rock version of the program’s theme song.  Fate be as it may, Eddie, and Alan happened to be in the same town as Brian one day – and they all had some down time away from their repective bands. So they hooked up with a couple well respected session musicians and booked a nearby recording studio.

Of course, they all wanted to get a feel for playing together, so they warmed up by doing a couple improvised jams together. One was on top of a song Brian had recently penned and the other was a totally improvised, nearly thirteen minute instrumental blues jam. All three songs come across with such a loose feel, that it’s easy to picture them smiling at each other as they find their muse within each other. 

I’m just thankful that after hearing the songs, Brian’s family was able to convince him to release the songs from the sessions as a Mini LP.

Vinyl Jungle Trivia:  Brian May has a PHD in astrophysics and co-authored a book on the origins of the universe.

Jeff Beck – Loud Hailer

A true artist, Jeff Beck has never been one to rest on his laurels or one who is afraid to try something new. On 2016’s “Loud Hailer,” he shows that he’s also not afraid to speak the Truth, even if it’s not an easy message to consume. This is by far, Jeff Beck’s angriest and most politically charged album.

Although his guitar tone and virtuosity is unmistakable throughout, it’s delivered over the top of hip-hop and edgy rhythms along with the equally edgy vocal stylings of Rosie Bones, who delivers the songs’ messages with a perfect combination of angst, urgency, and gentleness.

Throughout, Beck shows he has the experience to know when to hold back and keep it simple and when to tear things up, with songs that swing the listener between somber feelings of abandonment and raging anger at the state of the world today. All the while, the album never gives in to a feeling of helplessness; In the end, reminding the listener that we all have a beauty and strength within us to turn things around – if we really want to.

The Joe Perry Project – Let The Music Do The Talking

Joe Perry left Aerosmith in 1979 because of band conflicts. He released The Joe Perry Project’s debut album shortly thereafter. A couple albums later Brad Whitford, the other guitarist in Aerosmith would also join the Joe Perry project. 

Perry and Whitford returned to Aerosmith in 1985, returning them to their original band lineup.  Although Perry has released solo material since rejoining Aerosmith, and toured again with The Joe Perry Project, he has also remained a member of Aerosmith, who have remained in their original lineup for more than 30 years.