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Yes – Fly From Here – CD review

You’ve probably already seen a diverse range of opinions concerning Yes’ brand new studio album, Fly From Here. As far as I can recall, Yes has always had a polarized fan base. But now without Jon Anderson in the band, the naysayers are out in full force. As for me, I’m still not totally convinced that Benoit David has the chops and/or talent to completely fill Anderson’s shoes BUT bringing in Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn to record the new album was a GENIUS move. I was pleasantly surprised by Fly From Here. It’s probably the strongest batch of songs I’ve heard from the band since 1994′s Talk.

First off, with Horn at the helm, the recording sounds impeccable. No complaints about the way it sounds. Another nice touch is the return of the “epic” twenty-minute track (although it’s more like a song suite). “Fly From Here” is well done but I have to say that the transition into “Bumpy Ride” is a bit odd.

Surprisingly, the standout track for me is “The man You Always Wanted Me to Be”. It’s not proggy at all and is more 70′s “yacht-rock” to tell you the truth. But the Chris Squire-led track features a great melodic hook that just won’t leave my brain! someone please help!

I like the direction the band took with this, dialing down the prog and focusing more on memorable melodies. The only track that I’ve found myself skipping is “Life On a Film Set”. For some reason, the song doesn’t do anything for me. But other than that, the album as a whole is very listenable and very enjoyable. It’s definitely worth checking out especially for those that enjoyed Drama, 90125, and Big Generator.

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McCartney – McCartney II 2011 CD Concord reissue review

In this day and age of instant gratification, instant streaming, instant messaging, etc., where anything and everything is available at an INSTANT, Paul McCartney fans are having to exercise a lot of patience. The reissue campaign for McCartney’s back catalog will span over the course of several years with select titles being released a few at a time. MPL/Concord Music Group kicked things off successfully last year with the deluxe reissue of Band on the Run. And now after months and months of waiting come the next batch of remastered reissues:McCartney (1970) and McCartney II (1980).

I totally understand the need to stagger the releases since it maximizes the exposure of each set but from a fan’s point of view, the waiting sucks. If the reissue campaign continues at this pace, it’ll be well into the latter half of this decade before we get the complete set. that’s a LONG time. Who knows if CDs will even still be around a few years down the road?

But enough of me whining. The big positive in all this is that the remasters (so far at least) sound GREAT. There’s no brickwalling, no harshness/shrillness in sound and the “no-noised” dullness of the previous remastered collection has been corrected. kudos to the Abbey Road remastering team for doing Macca fans a “solid” in this regard.

I got the two-disc “special editions” of McCartney and McCartney II. I know, I know, I should have splurged for the “super deluxe” versions to get the hard bound books and DVDs but unfortunately, I’ve got a tight budget. But anyway, the albums have never sounded better. I’m not going to comment on the content of the original albums since most fans already know these albums by heart. I’ll just run through some of the bonus content.

Frankly, the bonus disc on McCartney I is a bit skimpy. The rumor is that the “good stuff” is being saved for a rarities box set which may (or may not) get released at the end of this long reissue campaign. But it is still great to finally hear “Suicide” in full which we’ve always heard a snippet of at the end of “Glasses”. The three tracks from the Wings 1979 Glasgow show is a surprise. I was hoping Concord would release the full Glasgow show as part of the “Back to the Egg” package but I guess not. “Don’t Cry Baby” is simply the instrumental mix of “Oo You”. And “Woman Kind” is a bit of a throwaway.

The bonus disc on McCartney II is a lot more interesting. “Blue Sway” features orchestration by Richard Niles which was added/overdubbed back in 1986. Pretty neat but the track sticks out a bit because it’s not a “one-man band” like the rest of the material. The live “Coming Up” version is slightly different that the one we’ve all heard as a single. This version includes the extra “making music endlessly” verse and the ending is a bit weaker which indicates a lil’ overdubbing/sweetening was done on the original single. The rest are the leftover tracks that would have comprised the 2-LP version of McCartney II. Yeah, I think it was a wise decision to go with the single LP but still a fun listen. I really appreciate the fact that McCartney was obviously experimenting during these sessions with no intention of making a hit single.

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Giveaway – Doctor Faith CD autographed by Christopher Cross 2011

Christopher Cross will be out on tour this year to support his latest album, Doctor Faith. It’s Cross’ first studio album in 12 years and I’m sure he’s pleased to see all the positive reviews.

To commemorate the new release and tour, I’ll be giving away a Doctor Faith CD signed by none other than Christopher Cross himself!! That’s right, an autographed copy of Doctor Faith. Interested? Here’s what you need to do to enter in the drawing. Simply post a comment here with a little tidbit or factoid relating to Christopher Cross. For instance, you can post your favorite song of his or maybe if you’ve seen him live, how about posting a neat moment from his concert. anything goes. just keep it clean, people.

Bonus points for those that follow me on twitter and/or LIKE me on facebook. (be sure to let me know if you do so that you can get your bonus entries!) And that’s NOT ALL! I have two extra regular CDs (unsigned) that I’ll be giving to two runners up. Winners (the grand prize winner will receive the autographed CD of Doctor Faith, two runners up will receive the unsigned CDs) will be chosen at random (using the random number generator from all the entries received. The winners will be notified via email and will have to respond within 48 hours. Mailing addresses will be forwarded to a representative at Universal Music who will be sending out the prizes directly to the winners.