Vinyl Edition - The Kinks, Allman Brothers, The Cranberries, Rory Gallagher, more

Here are some exciting gift ideas for the vinyl fan on your list! New releases featuring The Kinks, The Allman Brothers, The Cranberries, Rory Gallagher, Gram Parsons, John Lee Hooker and The Three O'Clock.

The Kinks - The Journey - Part 2

The Kinks

The story of the Kinks continues to play out in this second entry in the The Journey series. As with Part 1 the music here is broken into four sections, which in the case of this vinyl release corresponds to Sides 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each segment has a theme, and the Side 1 theme is "The world around the journeyman starts to crumble as his life is turned upside down. Featured in this segment are the 1965 hit "Till the End of the Day" with its "Swinging London" sound, 1974's "Preservation" where the band shows a little Hendrix love, favorite "David Watts" and hit "Well Respected Man." Also notable on Side 1 is an alternate take, 2020 mix of 1970's "This Time Tomorrow." Maryann Price guests on lead vocals on "Scrapheap City" where the rest of the band adds only harmony vocals. The theme for Side 2 is "The journeyman is led astray by ghosts and a dark angel" and begins with the big hit "Lola." Band members Ray and Dave Davies and Mick Avory curated the compilation and also provide commentary for each song in the liner notes, and Avory says that "Lola" is "back in fashion" thanks to recently being embraced by transgender people. Also here are hits "Sunny Afternoon" along with numerous deep cuts including Dave Davies' "Creeping Jean." Side 3 has the theme "Our journeyman is seduced by those ghosts and demons of the underworld and searches for his lost innocence" while Side 4 offers redemption, "Despair turns to elation as journeyman overcomes his fear, reunites with old friends." Between them they offer "A Dedicated Follower of Fashion," "20th Century Man" and other goodies like a 2023 mix of "Where Are They Now" and something to really be savored, live takes on "New Victoria Suite - Everybody's a Star," the bluesy "New Victoria Suite - Slum Kids" and "New Victoria Suite - (A) Face in the Crowd." The Journey - Part 2 is not only an opportunity to revisit great material by the Kinks that maybe you haven't heard for a while, it's also a chance to maybe hear in a different way the nuances and meanings of each cut. This 2-LP set is packaged in a gatefold sleeve and includes a booklet with song notes and photos.

The Allman Brothers Band - Bear's Sonic Journals: Allman Brothers Band Fillmore East 1970

Allman Brothers Band

This live show opens with a take on "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" that is one of the earliest live performances of the song; guitarist Dickey Betts had only recently written the song, an instrumental that showcases the sweet interplay of guitar between Betts and Duane Allman. The show also features a take on Willie Dixon's blues classic "Hoochie Coochie Man" (with Berry Oakley on vocals), favorites "Statesboro Blues" and the Gregg Allman-penned "Whipping Post" as well as the Muddy Waters chestnut "Trouble No More" and the more obscure, Ray Charles-associated "Outskirts of Town." Those six songs take up all of the first disc in this 2-LP set; the second disc is filled with a take on "Mountain Jam" where the band turns Donovan's "There is a Mountain" into an epic, 31-minute slice of Southern rock nirvana. The band here features the founding members: Gregg and Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe and Berry Oakley; all have passed now except Betts and Jaimoe. Filled with energetic and near-perfect playing, this album will make a nice addition to any ABB fan's collection. Packaged in a gatefold sleeve and pressed on orange vinyl.

The Cranberries - To the Faithful Departed

The Cranberries

This is a newly remastered version of the third album from The Cranberries; it is an especially dear keepsake since lead singer Dolores O'Riordan passed away in 2018. While the Irish band may be best known in the United States for their big hit "Zombie," (not on this album), they also scored a #1 hit on the Modern Rock chart in the U.S. with this album's "Salvation," a horn-enhanced track suitable for a fast dance. Other standouts include the R.E.M.-recalling "Free to Decide," the manic "I Just Shot John Lennon," the traditional-sounding "Will You Remember?" and a great take on the frenetic Lindsey Buckingham-penned Fleetwood Mac smash "Go Your Own Way." Also appended are three bonus tracks of demos recorded in Paris: "When You're Gone," "I Just Shot John Lennon" and "Free to Decide." Many consider To the Faithful Departed to be the best effort from The Cranberries. The band here was O'Riordan on vocals, guitar, keys and mandolin, Noel Hogan on guitars and mandolin, Mike Hogan on bass and Fergal Lawler on drums. This 2-LP set is packaged in a gatefold jacket and features newly-written liner notes from Eoin Devereux on the inner sleeves.

Rory Gallagher - All Around Man: Live in London

Rory Gallagher

Here's a real treasure for fans of the late Irish blues rock singer and guitarist Rory Gallagher as every one of the 23 live tracks here are previously-unreleased. Many if not most of the tracks here will be familiar to Gallagher fans though as they include some of his most beloved cuts, beginning with the self-penned John Lee Hooker-like "Continental Op" where he rocks out on slide guitar and continuing early in the show with originals like the shuffling "Heaven's Gate" and the Chuck Berry-like rave up "Kid Gloves." And while Rory shines on the stuff he wrote, he also pays homage to many of the blues masters here with cuts like Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talkin'" where band member Mark Feltham rips it up on harmonica, Leadbelly's "Out on the Western Plains" where he does some phenomenal picking on acoustic guitar (and some tricky vocal work) and other classics by Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Bo Carter and the legendary Robert Johnson. Other originals performed include "Moonchild," "Mean Disposition," "The Loop," "Tattoo'd Lady" and the detour through Louisiana that is "King of Zydeco" where keys man Geraint Watkins adds accordion flourishes. The show ends hot with a take on Little Richard's "Keep a Knockin'" followed by a really rocking version of the traditional "Bullfrog Blues" and Carter's steamy boogie "All Around Man." Gallagher already has legions of fans but that fan base can expand greatly if, for example, Joe Bonamassa's fans jump on board; they'll be very happy if they do. Presented on 3-LPs pressed on 180-gram vinyl and packaged in a gatefold sleeve with included booklet with liner notes.

Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels - The Last Roundup: Live from the Bijou Cafe in Philadelphia, 3/16/73.

Gram Parsons

For fans of the much-beloved Gram Parsons it is almost unbelievable to think that he left us 50-years ago. A one-time member of the Byrds and the co-founder of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Parsons called his take on country rock/Americana "Cosmic American Music" and that stands as a good descriptor for his music and that of many artists of today who followed. There's an interesting story as to how this release came about and why it took so long. Neil Flanz, the pedal steel player for the Fallen Angels, obtained a copy of the show taken from the soundboard recording and held onto it for 40-years. Then a deal was made with Amoeba Records to release the show but the label lost the tape when they moved locations and didn't find it for a decade. All of this, and the fact that the show featured Emmylou Harris, at the time "undiscovered," makes this music especially dear. The show begins with a bluegrass instrumental, the Earl Scruggs chestnut "Flint Hill Special" before moving into the classic country of "We'll Sweep Out the Ashes," a cover from his GP album, and a take on his co-write with Chris Hillman from the first Flying Burrito Brothers album The Gilded Palace of Sin, "My Uncle." Parsons introduces the weepy Byrds cut "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" with the quip, "This song actually made some money." Other included favorites include "Streets of Baltimore," "Love Hurts," "Sin City," "Jambalaya," "Six Days on the Road," "The New Soft Shoe" and a closing medley with "Hang on Sloopy," "Baby What You Want Me to Do," "Boney Moronie," "Forty Days" and "Almost Grown." A nice keepsake for Parsons fans, this live recording also features Jock Bartley of Firefall on lead guitar. This 2-LP set is packaged in a gatefold sleeve and includes a very nice insert, a small poster featuring a close up head shot of Gram.

John Lee Hooker - ...and seven nights

John Lee Hooker

The blues fans on your holiday gift list will absolutely love this release from revered guitarist and singer John Lee Hooker, who wrote all of the album's 11 songs. This material was recorded in 1964 in London with a band called the Groundhogs backing him up. While Hooker is known for blues that boogies, this set is mostly far more sedate, retaining the Hooker aura in a slower mode as John Lee moans the blues on the self-explanatory "Bad Luck and Trouble" and on the similarly sad "Waterfront" where he portrays a man looking for his woman. A happier mood inhabits the upbeat "No One Pleases Me But You" where hot guitar riffs accentuate the good time; the album's Side One wraps up with "It's Raining Here," which is set to a jaunty walking rhythm, the relaxed observation that is "It's a Crazy Mixed Up World" and another "my baby's gone" song, the title track "Seven Days and Seven Nights." Side Two begins with "Mai Lee," a cut that many will hear a little Chuck Berry in, followed by "I'm Losin' You" which is again self-explanatory, the "you're so fine but you're too young" sentiment of "Little Girl Go Back to School," the slow and simmering "Little Dreamer" and closing track "Don't Be Messin' With My Bread" where Hooker issues a warning to a free spending girlfriend. Featuring the great vocals and guitar work you would expect, this title is reissued on 180-gram vinyl for the first time ever.

The Three O'Clock - Sixteen Tambourines

The Three O'Clock

Prince was a fan of this Los Angeles quartet that was one of the leading lights on what was at the time known as the Paisley Underground scene. Lead singer Michael Quercio sang in a voice that could easily be confused as that of a female and that's one of the reasons that the band's music could be mistaken for the Bangles, that and the fact that they had a real knack for sugary sweet power pop, exemplified here by tracks like the gem "Jet Fighter." Bands like R.E.M. can also be referenced in cuts like "And So We Run" while the psych pop leanings of "A Day in Erotica" a Nuggets-worthy cut, shows exactly why Quercio came up with the Paisley Underground moniker to describe the band's music. Other standout tracks include a psych rock version of Bee Gees cut "In My Own Time," the funk pop of "When Lightning Strikes" and the album's sublime closing cut "Seeing is Believing." Totally fun throughout, this album is pressed on clear green vinyl and includes an insert with lyrics.

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