Wait, it’s July already? Damn. That was fast. I’d say time flies when you’re having fun, but I don’t know anybody who’s actually having any. But even if the world is basically a dumpster fire being towed by a clown car these days, at least we’ve got some decent music. Here are my favourite albums of 2023’s first half, listed in alphabetical order. Who knows how many of them will make the cut six months from now. Hell, who knows if any of us will be here six months from now. So carpe diem, bitches. Enjoy. And to read more about any of the albums below, click on the cover art.
First Two Pages Of Frankenstein
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The National’s ninth studio album, First Two Pages Of Frankenstein, is anchored by evocative melodies and an enthralling lyrical narrative, signaling a new chapter in the band’s beloved discography. The 11-song album was produced by The National at Long Pond Studios in upstate New York and features guest appearances by Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers and Sufjan Stevens. After two back-to-back albums and busy years of touring, First Two Pages Of Frankenstein was initially stalled while lead singer Matt Berninger navigated, “a very dark spot where I couldn’t come up with lyrics or melodies at all… Even though we’d always been anxious whenever we were working on a record, this was the first time it ever felt like maybe things really had come to an end.” Instead, The National “managed to come back together and approach everything from a different angle, and because of that we arrived at what feels like a new era for the band,” according to guitarist/pianist Bryce Dessner, whose bandmates also include his brother Aaron (guitar, piano, bass) as well as brothers Scott Devendorf (bass, guitar) and Bryan Devendorf (drums).”
The New Pornographers
Continue As A Guest
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Over the past 20 years, The New Pornographers have proven themselves one of the most excellent and exceptional bands in indie rock. The group’s ninth studio album — and first for the revered American indie label Merge — establishes them alongside modern luminaries like Yo La Tengo and Superchunk when it comes to their ability to evolve while still retaining what made them so special in the first place. A dazzling and intriguing collection of songs, Continue As A Guest finds bandleader A.C. Newman and his compatriots Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey and Joe Seiders exploring fresh territory and shattering the barriers of their collective comfort zone. Newman began work on Continue As A Guest after the band had finished touring behind 2019’s In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights. Themes of isolation and collapse bleed into this album, as Newman tackles the ambivalence of day-to-day life during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Newman says that Continue As A Guest’s title track also addresses the concerns that come with being in a band for so long. “The idea of continuing as a guest felt apropos to the times,” he explains. “Feeling out of place in culture, in society, being in a band that has been around for so long — not feeling like a part of any zeitgeist, but happy to be separate and living your simple life, your long fade-out. Living in a secluded place in an isolated time, it felt like a positive form of acceptance: Find your own little nowhere, find some space to fall apart, continue as a guest.”
Watch my interview with Carl Newman HERE.
The Nude Party
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “For The Nude Party, nearly a decade has flown by in the blink of an eye. In that time, the New York band has released a pair of well-received albums, an EP, and played countless shows. Prior to the pandemic, they were really hitting their stride. They could count Jack White, Arctic Monkeys and Orville Peck as vocal supporters, and appearances at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk Festival and Shaky Knees were the norm. In late 2020, The Nude Party released their sophomore album Midnight Manor, which debuted at No. 1 on the Alternative New Artists Album Chart. The sextet were unable to tour behind it and compared its release to skipping a stone over a raging river. A byproduct was that it showed the band that on their third album, they couldn’t lean on their tried-and-true method of testing out new material live and then hunkering down to record.”
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
Land Of Sleeper
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I’ve always liked the quote: “Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.” So reckons Matt Baty of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, vocalist and lyricist of a band as comfortable wading through the darker quarters of their subconscious as they are punishing ampstacks. Whether dwelling in the realm of dreams or nightmares, the primordial drive of the Newcastle band is more powerful than ever. Land Of Sleeper, their fourth record in a decade of riot and rancour, is testimony to this: The sound of a band not so much reinvigorated as channelling a furious energy, which only appears to gather momentum as the band’s surroundings spin on their axis. “Shouting about themes of existential dread comes very naturally to me, and I think because I’m aware of that in the past I’ve tried to rein that in a little,” reckons Matt. “There’s definitely moments on this album where I took my gloves off and surrendered to that urge.”
Iggy Pop albums come in two basic varieties: Them that rock and them that don’t. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not choosing sides there. Sure, I love the ones that rock. Well, most of them. Honestly, a couple of them aren’t that great. On the other hand, some of the ones that don’t rock are pretty damn awesome. So OK, maybe it’s not as cut-and-dried as I made it sound at first. But the basic point stands: Sometimes Iggy rocks. Sometimes he doesn’t. And lately he hasn’t. No big surprise there; after all, he’s 75 goddamn years old. He quit stage diving a while back. He lives in Florida, for fuck’s sake. But Every Loser? This rocks. Correction: This FUCKING rocks. Harder and faster and louder and ruder and cruder than he has in years. Decades, really.”
Read my review of Iggy Pop & The Losers’ Las Vegas concert HERE.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Margo Price has been to the mountain — and today the singer, songwriter, soon-to-be-published author, and Grammy-nominated generational talent returns with her new album Strays. From navigating her way through multiple lifetimes’ worth of loss, lies, failure and substance abuse, she has learned how to let go of trauma, pain and addiction, and this collection of 10 original songs serves as a celebration of freedom in its many, feral forms. Extracting herself from expectations, musical genre and the material desires that drive the world, Price tackles demons of self-image, self-worth and more that came in the wake of her recent decision to quit drinking. She sings unabashedly about orgasms, love and bodily autonomy, all over her most layered, sonically ambitious and singular arrangements to date.”
Breaking the Balls of History
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Breaking The Balls Of History is Quasi’s 10th record, landing 10 years after their last record, on Feb. 10. That’s three 10s — which equals the 30 years they’ve played together. Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss have become Pacific Northwest icons, and Quasi have always felt so steadfast — their enduring friendship so generative, their energy infinite, each album more raucous and catchy and ferocious and funny than the last. But we were wrong to ever take Quasi for granted. For a while, they thought 2013’s intricate Mole City might be their last record. They’d go out on a great one and move on. But in August 2019, a car smashed into Janet’s and broke both legs and her collarbone. Then a deadly virus collided with all of us, and no one knew when or if live music as we knew it — the touring, the communal crowds, the sonic church of the dark club — would ever happen again. “There’s no investing in the future anymore,” Janet realized. “The future is now. Do it now if you want to do it. Don’t put it off. All those things you only realize when it’s almost too late. It could be gone in a second.”
Queens Of The Stone Age
In Times New Roman…
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In Times New Roman… is raw, at times brutal and not recommended for the faint of heart. And yet, it’s perhaps the most beautiful and definitely the most rewarding album in Queens Of The Stone Age’s discography. Founder Joshua Homme’s most acerbic lyrics to date are buoyed by the instantly identifiable QOTSA sonic signature, expanded and embellished with new and unprecedented twists in virtually every song. With In Times New Roman… we see that sometimes one needs to look beneath scars and scabs to see beauty, and sometimes the scabs and scars are the beauty. Feeling a bit out of place, and having difficulty finding music they could relate to, the members of QOTSA did as they are wont to do: In Times New Roman… is the sound of a band creating the music its own members want to hear, while giving the rest of us a sonic forum in which to congregate. “The world’s gonna end in a month or two,” sings Homme, begging the question: What do you want to do with the time you’ve got left? Homme, Troy Van Leeuwen, Dean Fertita, Michael Shuman and Jon Theodore may not be able to save us, but they’re giving us a place to ride it out.”
Tomorrow Never Comes
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Rancid — the legendary Bay Area punk rockers are back with their 10th studio album, Tomorrow Never Comes. Their first new music since 2017’s Trouble Maker, the California punk stalwarts’ latest full-length serves up 16 songs in 29 hard-hitting, fast-paced minutes — all produced by longtime collaborator, Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph founder Brett Gurewitz. Highlighting their collective ear for melodic rock hooks and catchy singalong choruses, the album is replete with the familiar wailing guitars and punishing punk rock rhythms that have solidified Rancid as the legends they are.”
Good Thing Goin’
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Good Thing Goin’ is the first new studio album in seven years from the punkabilly guitar legend. On this album, Dex Romweber finds a balance between battered guitars, piano ballads, and reverb-drenched vibes while powered by the inspiration of classic gospel and soulful R&B. Good Thing Goin’ is a solid collection of new original songs and covers that work as a genre-blending playlist of his entire career. Sounds shift from primitive rockabilly to swinging instrumentals to surf rock to crooning ballads.”
St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Angels In Science Fiction
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “When Paul Janeway learned he was going to be a father, he was struck by divine inspiration. Following the tradition of greats like Aristotle, William James and John Steinbeck, who wrote letters to their future sons, the singer decided to scribe his own thoughts — of joy, of fear, of confusion — as messages to his then-unborn daughter. Those letters ultimately became Angels In Science Fiction, the stunning fifth LP from his band of Alabama genre-benders St. Paul & The Broken Bones. “I knew what I wanted to say,” he says of the material. “I like to be a bit more coy at times, but I wanted these lyrics to be more direct. This is a record I would have written whether I did this for a living or not. I don’t know if those records come along all the time.”
The Vivian Line
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The Vivian Line is the 17th album entry in Ron Sexsmith’s compelling discography, one matched by very few contemporary singer-songwriters. His catalogue has earned him immense peer respect and a loyal international following, and this new release captures Ron at the top of his creative game. With one exception, these new songs all flowed from Sexsmith’s fertile musical and lyrical imagination in a short period of 2021 during covid. “The songs came out of nowhere,” Ron explains. “I wasn’t really writing after the (2020) release of my previous album Hermitage. The older I get, the more I think ‘maybe this is it,’ but then I found myself with new ideas again and got excited.” Reflecting upon the songs on the new album now, Sexsmith notes that “initially I thought they were an extension of Hermitage, which was very much about domestic bliss and my new life here in Stratford, Ont. After the fact, I see them as a little weightier than Hermitage, which was very playful. There is more of a wistful feel to these songs.”
Watch my interview with Ron Sexsmith HERE.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Hailed as a gifted storyteller for 2016’s The Party and 2020’s The Neon Skyline, Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andy Shauf writes albums that unfold like short fiction, full of colorful characters, fine details and a rich emotional depth. With his new LP Norm, however, Shauf has slyly deconstructed and reshaped the style for which he’s been celebrated, elevating his songwriting with intricate layers and perspectives, challenging himself to find a new direction. Under the guise of an intoxicating collection of jazz-inflected romantic ballads, his storytelling has become decidedly more oblique, hinting at ominous situations and dark motivations. Shauf had planned to be touring around The Neon Skyline but, like many of us in the early days of the pandemic, he spent a lot of time alone instead. He sequestered himself in his garage studio, self-producing and playing every instrument on Norm, a collection of more conventional songs written predominantly on guitar, piano and synths. The latter was essential to creating the more spacious and tactile sounds he sought. Shauf’s goals were uncomplicated: Create something melody-driven rather than chord-driven, and make it modern. Shauf recruited Neal Pogue (Tyler, the Creator, Janelle Monae, Outkast), a prodigious shaper of genre-and-time-defying tracks, to mix the album, further building on the gently levitating, synth-laden atmospherics.”
Watch my inteview with Andy Shauf HERE.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “War, rising energy costs, inflation. A sclerotic political class and a divided country. The post-Brexit malaise, acts of national self-harm and other doomed flights from reality. Despair, anger and alienation. Has it ever been worse out there? “The rot’s set in,” says Sleaford Mods’ soulful ranter-inquisitor Jason Williamson. “So much it’s trampled into our consciousness to the point where we have become as one with the Conservative Party. We’re all Conservative MPs now … servants of this really bleak sort of Aldi nationalism.” Welcome to UK Grim. Building on the unique, insurrectionary strengths of previous records while refining them in gripping new ways, Sleaford Mods’ 12h album is a stunning step up. This is nothing less than a defining band and voice of their generation — like The Jam, The Clash or Public Enemy before them — more fully realised than ever before. At a musical moment where so much seems to exist simply to melt into air, it is, unmistakably, the real deal.”
Day Of The Doug
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Revered band Son Volt pay homage to the legendary Doug Sahm on the new album Day Of The Doug. Son Volt founder Jay Farrar’s goal with this 12-song collection was not only to pay tribute to Sahm’s music and influence, but to also highlight some of the deeper tracks in his heralded canon, specifically from a prolific period during the late 1960s and 1970s. “My mode of picking the songs was primarily to celebrate the ones that I thought were overlooked,” says Farrar. Over the course of a 50-year career, Doug Sahm blazed trails across genres, churning together key elements of rock, R&B, country, folk, Tex-Mex and psychedelia into something that existed in its own unique space. He shared a stage playing steel with Hank Williams as a kid before making three Top 40 hits with the Sir Douglas Quintet and recording a heralded body of solo work. He never stopped evolving and consistently obliterating musical boundaries. “He’s a larger-than-life character,” says Farrar. “He reminds me of Neal Cassady from On The Road. His life was epic.” Sahm’s impact on American music is immeasurable and still reverberates today as strong as ever.”
The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte marks Sparks’ first release on the venerable Island Records label in close to five decades, following such classics as 1974’s landmark Kimono My House, highlighted of course by the indelible hit single This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us. The new album is described by Ron and Russell Mael as a record that is “as bold and uncompromising as anything we did back then or, for that matter, anytime throughout our career.” The album includes such instantly intriguing new musical vignettes as Mona Lisa’s Packing, Leaving Late Tonight and Nothing Is As Good As They Say It Is, songs which once again display Sparks’ seemingly ceaseless ability to craft complete, intricately detailed stories within perfect three-and-a-half minute pop masterpieces.”
Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Altitude is the 19th studio album from five-time Grammy winner, Country Music Hall of Famer and AMA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Marty Stuart and his longtime band of Fabulous Superlatives — Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson and Chris Scruggs. Recorded in Nashville, the collection finds Stuart picking up where he left off on 2017’s Way Out West, exploring a cosmic country landscape populated by dreamers and drifters, misfits and angels, honky-tonk heroes and lonesome lovers. Written primarily on the road, the collection was inspired in large part by Stuart’s 2018 tour supporting Byrds co-founders Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, who reunited for the 50th anniversary of their seminal Sweetheart Of The Rodeo album. “I bought my first copy of Sweetheart Of The Rodeo for $2.99 at the discount bin in a shopping mall record store in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, and it became the blueprint for my musical life,” Stuart recalls. “Revisiting it on the road with Roger and Chris put me back under its spell all over again. I was writing songs in dressing rooms and soundchecks and on the bus, and then one day, I looked up and there was enough to make an album.”
Watch my interview with Marty Stuart HERE:
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The Beggar was recorded and mixed at Candy Bomber Studio in Berlin, engineered by Ingo Krauss and mastered by Doug Henderson at Micro-Moose, Berlin. The album was written and produced by Michael Gira and features contributions from recent and former Swans, members of Angels of Light and Guest Swan Ben Frost. “After numerous pandemic-induced cancellations of tours for the previous Swans album Leaving Meaning, and an apparent bottomless pit of waiting, waiting, waiting, and the strange disorientation that came with this sudden but interminable forced isolation I decided it was time to write songs for a new Swans album and forget about everything else,” Gira says. “They came relatively easily, always informed by the suspicion that these could be my last. When I finally was able to travel, songs in hand, to Berlin to work with my friends recording this record, the feeling was akin to the moment in The Wizard of Oz when the film changes from black and white to color. Now I’m feeling quite optimistic. My favourite color is pink. I hope you enjoy the album.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Revered rock institution Titus Andronicus have released Basement Brainstorm, a compilation album of essential rarities intended to illuminate the painstaking creative process which resulted in last year’s acclaimed studio album The Will To Live. The album is available now digitally (just in time for Bandcamp Friday) and on the first ever officially sanctioned Titus Andronicus audio cassette tape, via the long-dormant vanity imprint Titus Andronicus Records. The surprise release is accompanied by a music video for I Can Not Be Satisfied (Patrick’s Version), directed by stalwart Titus Andronicus collaborator Ray Concepcion, which takes a light-hearted look back at the maddening isolation of the peak-pandemic era. Watch singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles “shelter in place” at the rock band’s subterranean rehearsal space, while trying his hand at foreign instruments such as drums and keyboards.”
The Men That God Forgot
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Shaking off the plague days like a snake sheds its skin, The Waco Brothers stumble out of the empty, burning desert with a fierce thirst and an epic new album: The Men That God Forgot. It’s the first collection of original Waco tunes since 2016’s Going Down In History and comes to you via their own label. The Waco Brothers got together in Chicago in the mid-’90s; battle-weary punk musicians who wanted nothing more than to play classic country covers for free beer in their adopted home city. Their residencies at local bars became legendary for the sheer volume, speed and energy they brought to this task. After an early and particularly deranged appearance at SXSW, one wag dubbed the Wacos “Clash meets Cash.” They responded by unleashing a fistful of ferocious albums and endlessly entertaining live gigs that defined the insurgent country movement.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Renowned singer-songwriter M. Ward’s new studio album Supernatural Thing is his first release in three years. Its title track lives in a liminal space in which Elvis Presley comes to him with a message: ‘You can go anywhere you please.’ “Well, all my songs depend on dream-imagery to some extent,” Ward explained, “and this was an actual dream I had about Elvis, when he came to me and said that. I don’t know if it’s pandemic-related or not.” Summing up the emotional tone of the record, Ward sings on this track: “You feel the line is growing thin / between beautiful and strange.” If that isn’t interesting enough for you, the album’s guest stars — First Aid Kit, Shovels & Rope, Scott McMicken, Neko Case, Jim James and others — enliven the album with more surprises. Eight of the album’s 10 songs are Ward originals, but there is also an unusual David Bowie cover — I Can’t Give Everything Away from Blackstar — and a live rendition of Daniel Johnston’s Story Of An Artist. “Bowie and Johnston are constant sources of inspiration for me, have been for I don’t know how many years.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “We had a joke in the studio,” says Nick Waterhouse. “Some of the guys were like, ‘Nick, you’re gonna end up at a press conference like Dylan in ’65: ‘Who’s The Fooler?’ ‘I don’t know, man, maybe it’s you! Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m becoming The Fooler right now.’ ” The title of the sixth album from the Californian singer-songwriter is more than just the name of one of its dozen immaculate tracks. The Fooler is both a clue and a red herring. The Fooler is the observed and the observer, narrator and subject, truth and lie. The Fooler is the shadow and reflection of a city the artist knows sufficiently well to wander with his eyes closed, and a place which very possibly never even existed. The Fooler is not so much an unreliable narrator as a constantly shifting perspective. The Fooler is the new album by Nick Waterhouse, and it’s a lot. “Many of the stories in the record come from that feeling of plasticity,” says Waterhouse. “What is memory? What is time? What is love between two human beings like in this imaginary city? It’s Cubist. A listener sees the angles of my life — and inexorably, my career — reflected in this work from all sides at once. I started thinking again about my university days, about modernist writers like Virginia Woolf, Christopher Isherwood, Hart Crane, or Ford Maddox Ford; about memory and how it betrays you; what you can see and what you can’t.”
Watch my interview with Nick Waterhouse HERE.
I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Award-winning Canadian duo Whitehorse — Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet — were originally planning on recording an EP of ’70s country songs instead of what became their upcoming album I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying. But when the lockdown hit, the pair began churning out new original songs. “Luke was like staying up late every night and writing all the songs about lockdown,” remembers McClelland. “And then he all of a sudden had like this collection of songs about lockdown that was stunning, and so I was like, ‘Oh, OK, I’m going to shift my thinking and start writing thematically.’ ” The first song McClelland penned during these sessions was If The Loneliness Don’t Kill Me, a Telecaster and pedal steel-driven two-step embodying McClelland’s original idea for the song’s refrain: “If the loneliness don’t kill me, then the good times surely will.”
Watch my interview with Whitehorse HERE.
Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Lucinda Williams’ music has gotten her through her darkest days. It’s been that way since growing up amid family chaos in the Deep South, as she recounts in her candid new memoir, Don’t Tell Anybody The Secrets I told You. Over the past two years, it’s been the force driving her recovery from a debilitating stroke she suffered on Nov. 17, 2020, at age 67. And her masterful, Grammy-winning songwriting has not deserted her. Her stunning 16th studio album, Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart, brims over with some of the best work of her career. And though Williams can no longer play her beloved guitar — a constant companion since age 12 — her distinctive vocals sound better than ever. Since the beginning of her celebrated four-decade career, Williams has always written her songs on guitar. With that capability halted, she had to alter her songwriting process and lean on those close to her for help fulfilling her vision. She began writing with her husband and manager Tom Overby, as first documented on her Grammy-nominated 2020 album Good Souls Better Angels. On Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart, Williams teamed up with singer-songwriter and dear friend Jesse Malin — now dealing with a health crisis of his own after suffering a spinal stroke that has left him paralyzed from the waist down. Malin co-wrote three tracks on the album and helped her flush out some of the melodies on guitar. Williams also looked to her longtime road manager Travis Stephens, a veteran guitarist and songwriter, to bring her ideas to life as he co-wrote six songs on the album.”
Yo La Tengo
This Stupid World
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Time keeps moving and things keep changing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight back. Yo La Tengo have raced time for nearly four decades and they just keep winning. The trio’s latest victory is called This Stupid World, a spellbinding set of reflective songs that resist the ticking clock. This music is not so much timeless as time-defiant. “I want to fall out of time,” guitarist Ira Kaplan sings in Fallout. “Reach back, unwind.” Part of how Kaplan, drummer Georgia Hubley and bassist James McNew escape time is by watching it pass, even accepting it when they must. “I see clearly how it ends / I see the moon rise as the sun descends,” they sing during opener Sinatra Drive Breakdown. In the séance-like Until it Happens, Kaplan intones, “Prepare to die / Prepare yourself while there’s still time.” But This Stupid World is also filled with calls to reject time — bide it, ignore it, waste it. “Stay alive,” he adds later. “Look away from the hands of time.”
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In 1969, after The Mothers of Invention disbanded, Frank Zappa released his groundbreaking solo debut Hot Rats. Fusing jazz and rock, the innovative album became one of the artist’s bestselling releases, thanks to classic tracks like Peaches En Regalia and Willie The Pimp. Over the following year, in between various projects (including producing Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, and hosting Belgium’s Festival Actuel, where Zappa met British drummer Aynsley Dunbar), he assembled a core group to lay down tracks at L.A.’s recently opened Record Plant. The sessions, which took place primarily in February and March 1970 at the studio, featured Zappa once again in the producer’s chair and joined by several of the musicians that played on Hot Rats, including Mothers member Ian Underwood (keyboard, saxophone, rhythm guitar), violinist and vocalist Don “Sugarcane” Harris, and Wrecking Crew bassist Max Bennett. The band was rounded out by Dunbar, who had just relocated to Los Angeles and moved in with Zappa following his invite to join the band. Together the group recorded hours of original compositions, inspired covers and extended improvisations that drew from Zappa’s R&B and blues roots, while blending influences of the emerging jazz fusion scene. Largely instrumental, these recordings showcased the guitarist’s virtuosity, while offering what could have easily been the sequel to Hot Rats, had it ever been released.”
Zappa ’80: Mudd Club / Munich
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Zappa 80: Mudd Club / Munich, the latest exciting live collection to be released from Frank Zappa’s legendary Vault, offers fans an opportunity to hear two blistering shows recorded in two distinct settings: The intimate 240-capacity Mudd Club in New York City and the massive 12,000-seat German arena Olympiahalle in Munich. Produced by Ahmet Zappa and Zappa Vaultmeister Joe Travers, this historically significant release marks the first time that full concerts have ever been released featuring the 1980 lineup — Zappa leading the five-strong band which included the dual vocal attack of Ike Willis and Ray White, Arthur Barrow on bass, Tommy Mars on keyboards, and newcomer David Logeman on drums. Additionally, this is the first posthumous release of this distinct but brief lineup, as Logeman — who replaced drummer Vinnie Colaiuta — would end up leaving when Colaiuta returned to the band. Previously only two tracks from these shows — Love Of My Life from Mudd Club and You Didn’t Try To Call Me from Munich — were released by Zappa on his CD live series, You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore.”