Spotlight on Cleopatra Records

Cleopatra Records is one of our favorite labels here at RockPile. The imprint consistently releases exciting titles by known groups and developing acts alike, some of which is vintage and some of which is newly-recorded. Here are some of the best recent releases from Cleopatra and their subsidiary Purple Pyramid Records.

Poco - One Night in Nashville

This live show recorded at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville in 2004 is special for a couple of reasons. Not only does it present all of the band's hits and favorites, but it also reunites original members Richie Furay, Rusty Young and George Grantham with band mainstay Paul Cotton. The generous set includes cuts from throughout the band's history: "Kind Woman," "Keep on Tryin'," "Pickin' up the Pieces," "Call it Love," "You Better Think Twice," "Indian Summer," "Rose of Cimarron," "Good Feeling to Know" and "Heart of the Night" among them.

Jyrki 69 - American Vampire

Finnish singer Jyrki 69 (real name Jyrki Pekka Emil Linnankivi) the front man for 69 Eyes, steps out here with a 10-cut offering where he features a guest artist on each cut. He comes out rocking hard with opener "SexDrugsRockN'Roll" with guests Shotgun Messiah, and as if to illustrate the point, covers the Jefferson Airplane drug tune "White Rabbit" with Steve Stevens from Billy Idol's band on guitar. Jyrki teams with Leather Strip for the somewhat amusing put down that is "Bite It You Scum," rocks with Skold through the title cut and takes Human League's "Don't You Want Me" from the original carefree pop to industrial-flavored pop/rock, complete with vocals from Tiffany! Rosetta Stone, Xiu Xiu and the KVB are among the other collaborators on this fun set.

Neville Staple - From the Specials and Beyond

This is a "return to his roots" effort from Staple and it's a real treat when he flashes back to his days with the Specials for two remakes from that band; a very cool version of "Ghost Town" and a cover of the big boisterous ska favorite, Toots & the Maytals' "Monkey Man." Those two cuts are presented as bonus tracks, otherwise the set consists mostly of uplifting ska cuts penned or co-written by Staple, including the party anthem "Celebrate with You." Keys man Joe Atkinson plays earthy organ fills on the funky ska of "Can't Take No More," Neville's wife Sugary Staple handles lead vocals on the bouncy standout track "Don't Let Life Pass You By" and "Housewives Choice" is a love-filled cut featuring guest Derrick Morgan and with Sugary sharing vocals. Staple throws in one more cover, a reggae-fied take on the Ben E. King hit "Stand by Me."

The Fuzztones - Encore

Here's a nice keepsake from the New York City-based garage rock revivalists: a collection of previously unreleased tracks, most of which are covers. The set opens with an original though, the Velvet Underground-ish "Barking up the Wrong Tree," a fuzzed-out (of course!) cut written by singer/guitarist Rudi Protrudi with a great chorus to sing along to. Among the seven covers are a take on "Plastic People," originally done by The Wildwood, an awesome version of "Marble Hall" originally performed by the group of the same name, a funky fuzz interpretation of the seldom heard Rare Earth song "Land of Nod," and with the Grass Roots, a take on their hit "Let's Live for Today."

Jah Wobble - Metal Box - Rebuilt in Dub

Wobble was a member of the great John Lydon-led Public Image Ltd (PIL) and since that band's demise he's been releasing solo albums. This album finds him "rebuilding" most of the songs from the 1979 PIL album Metal Box and doing an incredible job of it. If you're familiar with the originals you'll notice immediately how "Albatross" has a funkier groove and more rock overtones and how "Memories," already a showcase for Wobble in its original form, here showcases the full band as they present the cut as an instrumental. Similarly on "Swan Lake" Wobble doesn't try to match Lydon's tortured vocals from the original, choosing instead to concentrate on the rhythm and melody and giving both a serious boost. This isn't an album where you need to listen for nuance in the update; the changes, while honoring the originals, will jump out at you. Metal Box is a highly-revered PIL album as a product of its time but Metal Box - Rebuilt in Dub is at this point far more interesting.

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