Mid-Summer’s Night Mixed Media Online Column

Legends of the Fall

Bill Shelley continues to present his Rock Legends Live monthly music film series at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington. On August 23rd, Shelley will screen an evening of rare Neil Young clips, starting at 7:30 PM. In the coming months will be The Doors in September, The Police in October, the Grateful Dead in November and in December: The Rolling Stones, the Mick Taylor years.

My Father’s Place and WLIR-FM Remembered

Local music fans will get a chance to celebrate one of the great area radio stations, WLIR-FM, and maybe the best Long Island music venues ever, My Father’s Place, at a 40th Anniversary Reunion to take place at Mirelle’s in Westbury on August 19th. Former MFP owner Eppy, along with former, famed WLIR personalities Malibu Sue and Larry The Duck will appear together, with musical guests APB. The party comes on the heels of the publication of the book Fun + Dangerous (Ardent Artists) by Steve Rosenfield and Michael “Eppy” Epstein. The limited-edition beautiful hardcover book features essays on the history of the former bowling alley from the likes of Kurt Loder and Denis McNamara and immortal photographs of shows from the legendary bar from 1975-1980. There are also backstage shots and a nine-song CD of performances from the likes of Peter Tosh, NRBQ and Muddy Waters that were originally broadcast on WLIR.

60s Rewind

Universal continues to reissue classic albums with beautiful packaging, lots of extra music and on discs manufactured in Europe with superior sound quality. In an age when downloading is destroying the art of music packaging and eliminating good sound quality, these discs are true treasures.

Released in various configurations to coincide with the 40th anniversary of its release is Layla from Derek & the Dominoes on Polydor. Arguably one of the greatest albums of all time (in my top five), Layla now receives another sonic upgrade with the current crop of various reissues aimed at upgrading the 20th anniversary Layla Sessions 3-CD set. Buyers can decide for themselves what new configuration to purchase based on their budget and whether they can even still find copies of the massive box of vinyl albums, CD’s, a DVD and other extras. The readily available and affordable two-CD deluxe edition includes the original album and 13 bonus tracks from various sources, including George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass sessions, live performances from the Johnny Cash television show and other Layla sessions outtakes.

Traffic, headed by Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton’s bandmate in Blind Faith, gets the deluxe edition treatment with John Barleycorn Must Die on Island. One of the band’s best albums, with its heady mix of rock, jazz, soul and folk, the album is long overdue for a CD upgrade. This two-CD set includes extra tracks and six live performances recorded at the Fillmore East in 1970. While any Traffic album is worthy of the deluxe-edition treatment, this one is a superb choice.

The first three Kinks albums – Kinks, Kinda Kinks and Kinks Kontroversey – get the deluxe- edition treatment and are released on Polydor. The band went through many stylistic and personnel changes through the years and perhaps enjoyed its greatest success when Ray Davies composed thematic albums that mixed many musical styles, but the pure charm and energy of these early British Invasion-era albums is undeniable. Having these albums finally given an audio upgrade is more than welcome, in that many of the group’s early recordings were recorded poorly. All the releases are two-CD sets, with pristine sound quality and loads of extra tracks, including a healthy amount of live BBC radio performances making these releases true collector items. It doesn’t get much better than this for serious fans of British rock.

Legacy, recently acquired the rights of Phil Spector’s recordings from ABKCO. A long-overdue overhaul of Spector’s seminal wall-of-sound recordings from the early 60s is now available. While no digital remastering can overhaul his tattered image, there’s no denying the importance and pure brilliance of Spector’s production work. The four discs released by Legacy are: Wall Of Sound: The Very Best of Phil Spector 1961-1966: Be My Baby: The Very Best of the Ronettes; The Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best of The Crystals; and The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love. These four discs, along with Legacy’s reissue of The Phil Spector Christmas album, comprise one of the singular most influential bodies of work from the music of the 60s. While the original ABKCO box of Spector’s music still contains a few gems not included here, the sound quality of these discs is far superior.

One of the more obscure reissues of the year and one released as either limited-edition vinyl or a CD is Follow Me Down: Vanguard’s Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970). It contains truly obscure tracks, since, other than its artist Country Joe and the Fish, Vanguard was primarily a folk label. While some music listeners may be familiar with Circus Maximus and The Vagrants, both of whom are included here, most of the other artists who appear on this 18-track, still-in-print double-vinyl album are truly psychedelic relics.

Paul McCartney’s debut album McCartney is now reissued by Hear Music. The reissue appears in several configurations. The one that most fans will seek out is the three-disc set. The set includes the original album on one disc; a bonus audio CD that includes live tracks, outtakes and a version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” from the film One Hand Clapping; and a bonus DVD, with a short documentary on the making of the album, a music video, more material from the One Hand Clapping film and two performances from MTV Unplugged.

Finally, Shout Factory is releasing A Musicares Tribute to Neil Young on DVD. The concert, from January, filmed in Los Angeles, features artists such as John Fogerty, Dave Matthews, Jackson Browne, Wilco, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Leon Russell and Crosby, Stills & Nash covering Young’s songs.