Hall & Oates, Triumph, Daniel Johnston, and Social Distortion

Our spotlight on vinyl spins recent releases from Hall & Oates, Triumph, Daniel Johnston, and Social Distortion.

Daryl Hall & John Oates - Our Kind of Soul
Originally released in 2004, Our Kind of Soul finds the Philly duo covering a generous selection of their favorite soul tunes from the 1960s through the 1980s. Of course the guys are expert at crafting their own soul music, and with that in mind the album kicks off with the pair's "Let Love Take Control," a buoyant pop number done in the vein of many H&O hits. Then the hit parade begins in earnest as the duo interpret The Four Tops hit "Standing in the Shadows of Love," the Spinners chestnut "I'll Be Around," Dan Hartman's "I Can Dream About You," Marvin Gaye's "After the Dance" where Hall does his best to sound like Gaye, and Aretha Franklin's funky "Rock Steady." It's tough to cover Barry White but Hall sounds good on The Walrus of Love's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love;" similarly Hall tunes into a smooth groove for Al Green's "I'm Still in Love With You." Pressed on two 180-gram discs and housed in a gatefold jacket.

Triumph - Classics
Canadian rock band Triumph won their American fans not so much through hits singles like "Lay it on the Line" but more so through incessant touring and their high-energy live show. And fans get a good dose of the band's arena-rocking prowess here with the inclusion of two live cuts; the funk-edged "Never Surrender" from 2003's Live at the US Festival and the prog rock masterpiece "Blinding Light Show/Moon Child" from the Live at Sweden Rock Festival album. Among the studio cuts selected for the album are of course "Lay it on the Line," the thundering "Fight the Good Fight," the Yes-recalling "Hold On," anthemic favorite "I Live for the Weekend" where guitarist Rik Emmett goes absolutely nuts, and the Motley Crue-ish sing-along "Spellbound." Thirteen cuts in all on this compilation which is pressed on two 180-gram colored vinyl LPs and packaged in a gatefold sleeve.

Social Distortion - Mommy's Little Monster and Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll
Here are reissues of Social Distortion titles that come from very different stages of the band's career, with Mommy's Little Monster being the band's 1983 debut while Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll was originally released 21-years later in 2004. Mommy's... roars out of the starting gate with "The Creeps (I Just Wanna Give You)," a barrage of guitar and drums that would come to be a hallmark of Social D's punk rock sound, with "It Wasn't a Pretty Picture" following, sounding like an Orange County interpretation of the Clash. "Telling Truth" adds a bit of surf rock beat to the groove as does "Mommy's Little Monster," one of the band's most fun and enduring sing-along anthems. By the release of Sex� only singer/guitarist Mike Ness was left of the original line-up; original rhythm guitarist Dennis Danell passed away in 2000. Of course the band's sound had progressed; now harder, faster and more polished it remained instantly-recognizable, with fierce opening cut "Reach for the Sky" kicking off the effort. Songs like "Highway 101" demonstrate how Social D now valued melody over simply pounding away, while "Winners and Loser" is a classic example of why Ness remains one of the premiere vocalists in punk rock. Each album is pressed on 180-gram vinyl.

Daniel Johnston - Chicago 2017
Here's a live album from Johnston, recorded at Chicago venues The Loft and The Vic in October of 2017, about two years prior to his 2019 death. With one exception the set is comprised entirely of Johnston originals, beginning with the understated "The Story of an Artist" and including cuts like "Like a Monkey in a Zoo" and "Casper the Friendly Ghost," delivered like everything here in a voice full of childlike wonder. Johnston's quirky voice sounds at times like that of a man on the edge, and that is not so far from the truth, as Johnston struggled with mental illness on a long term basis. Still through it he could write endearing songs like the whimsical "Walking the Cow" and the stark and gripping "Funeral Home." The only cover here is a take on the Beatles' "I'm So Tired." Johnston is backed by a full band featuring Jeff Tweedy, Spencer Tweedy, Liam Kazar, Darin Gray and James Elkington. Pressed on colored/splatter vinyl.

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