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Vinyl Edition - Rock Hall, The Ratchets and more

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The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concerts: Night 2, Volume 1 - Various artists - (LP on 180-gram vinyl)
This album has a lengthy title but it is long on talent too as each of its 10 songs is performed by superstars. Recorded for an HBO special on Oct. 30, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the music here has never been released on vinyl before until now. The selections begin with some good old piano pounding as Jerry Lee Lewis performs "Great Balls of Fire" before Jeff Beck and Sting take over with a soulful take on Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready." Beck follows solo with an instrumental interpretation of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life," doing some amazing things with his guitar on the song's numerous changes. Side 1 wraps up with Metallica joining Lou Reed for "Sweet Jane;" the metal foursome are on their own for a pummeling take on "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Side 2 begins with Metallica backing Ozzy Osbourne for a rendition of the lurching "Iron Man," and the rest of the side belongs to U2. The Irishmen begin with their own "Vertigo," then play "Because the Night" with songwriter Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and Roy Bittan. Springsteen sticks around to help U2 with "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," and the record closes with U2 joined by Mick Jagger, Fergie and will.i.am for the classic Rolling Stones oldie "Gimme Shelter."

The Ratchets - First Light - (LP on multicolor vinyl)
Many will hear echoes of the Clash in this album's set of punk-flavored pop, mostly due to the voice and phrasing of singer Jed Engine. A stellar cover of Tom Robinson's "2-4-6-8 Motorway" highlights Side A as does "Dotard at the Dial," (gee, I wonder who that's about!?) Side B begins with the reflective "Paterson" and also includes "Fiscal Spliff," a cut that really recalls the Clash, both in musical style and politically-charged lyrics. Engine also has the very appealing characteristic of occasionally sounding like Graham Parker, noticeable especially on cuts like "Stray Emotions."

Territories - (Self-titled) - (LP on black vinyl)
Formed out of the debris of Canadian band Knucklehead, here Territories offer a set of vibrant guitar-driven punk rock songs of the anthemic sort. The guitars roar like crazy on the speedy "New Thing" but the foursome also utilizes some tasty organ work (by guest Craig Fahner) on "Green Eyes." Some of the songs here remind of the work of Irish punk bands, and indeed cuts like "Heart That Breaks" have an energy and flavor to match the best of Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys; like those bands, undoubtedly these guys are awesome live.

One Family, One Flag - (Various artists) - (3-LP)
The folks at Pirate Press Records (also responsible for the Ratchets and Territories above) manage to make every single release special in ways that go beyond the music, and this 34-song sampler is no exception. The giant collection is Pirate Press's 200th release, and to celebrate they've put together an awesome compilation featuring 34 different acts. Rancid, Cock Sparrer, the Old Firm Casuals, Tim Timebomb & Friends, Suede Razor, Sydney Ducks, the Bar Stool Preachers, Street Dogs, Booze and Glory and the Re-Volts are just a few of the bands contributing here. Five sides of vinyl hold music; the sixth side has the names of all the bands silk screened onto it. Similarly an included poster has graphics featuring Pirates Press releases. A great snapshot of the label's output till now and a collectible package sure to be treasured by fans.

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