Doug “Cosmo” Clifford: Magic Window (self-distributed thru CD Baby, CD). What a wonderful surprise. This is only the second solo album from Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer Clifford since the legendary band broke up in the early 1970s. His first solo album was an eponymous release in 1972 and this record was actually recorded in 1985, but became forgotten during a busy period when he was producing albums for Doug Sahm of the Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornadoes, playing in Steve Miller’s band and then joining CCR bassist Stu Cook to play Creedence hits as Creedence Clearwater Revisited. The original 1985 recordings have been updated this year.

Clifford wrote the “Magic Window” songs at his piano at his Lake Tahoe, Nevada home. Clifford, in a press release, says, “I had an analog studio with a good tape deck, so I could try out ideas without looking at the clock. I’d invite friends in to jam and experiment. I made ‘Magic Window’ with Russell DaShiell on lead guitar. Russel’s also an engineer and co-produced the sessions with me. I was going to use it to look for a record deal, but I got busy with other projects and touring. I just forgot about it.”

It was last year, while cleaning out his garage, that Clifford found the “Magic Window” masters. Continues Clifford, “(The tapes) were in great shape. We were able to transfer the recordings to digital and warm things up a bit. I discovered more than 100 songs.”

The songs took shape over several years and finally Clifford invited three friends over to make the recordings. DaShiell (Norman Greenbaum, Crowfoot) played lead and rhythm guitars, synthesizer and sang harmonies, while Chris Solberg (Santana, Chris Isaak) played bass and keyboards and Rob Polomsky added rhythm guitar on several tracks.

“I grew up in the years when rock was evolving,” Clifford continues. “Blues, rockabilly, country, rhythm and blues and folk music were all around me, so I don’t think about genre when I’ writing. I think about groove; the songs all evolved from the groove.

“Music’s always been a medicine and a meditation for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m down or up. It works both ways. We’ve seen some trying times in the last few years, and we can all use some love and magic. I put my heart and soul into the positive messages on this album. This is a good time to share them with the world.”

Indeed, the songs are full of positive messages and seven of the 10 deal with love, with the word “love” in three of the titles. On nearly every track, Clifford shows he is an above-average singer as well.

The title track is a rocker that opens the album. It has a nice lead guitar and drum break. By the way, Clifford says he does not like to sing and play drums at the same time. “The singing gets in the way of moving around the way I like to,” he says.  He initially played drums and talked through the tracks and, once all the instruments and overdubs were done, he sang.

“I processed the vocals a bit ‘cause it was the ‘80s and very contemporary at the time. The same with the synth toms I used, but I stayed true to the ethos of my background and kept things sparse,” Clifford adds. “If a note is added, it has the same value as the notes that surround it. When you don’t jam too many notes in there, it creates tension, and that keeps people listening.”

The first single is “Just Another Girl,” which has a dreamy synth laying the foundation for the power ballad, which has an R&B rhythm. The song is definitely pop and has a sweet groove. The B-side is the rocking “Born on the South Side,” with ringing guitars, a syncopated bass line and Southern rock eighth note beats. It most recalls the CCR days, when Clifford and Cook performed as CCR with brothers John Fogerty, who coincidentally released “Centerfield” in 1985, and Tom Fogerty. The two songs are my favorites on the album.

There is a nice drum beat on the rocker “Hungry For Your Love, while a steady beat rocks “Love Mode,” which features a lot of backing vocals. The keyboard opening to “Don’t Leave Me Alone Tonight” recalls The Beatles and the pop song “Fallin’ For You” has a pleasing melody. “Don’t Let Go” is pop-rock and the album ends with the ballad, “You Mean So Much to Me.” The album also is available on all streaming platforms. Grade: A-

Joe Satriani: Shapeshifting (Sony Music/Legacy, CD). On his 18th album, guitarist Satriani takes the approach that none of the 13 tracks will sound the same. Mission accomplished, especially when the album ends with the reggae of “Here the Blue River” and the acoustic, jaunty “Yesterday’s Yesterday.” The album was co-produced by Satriani and Jim Scott (Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty), with longtime associate John Cuniberti doing the mastering. The core musicians are drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty), bassist Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction) and keyboardist Eric Caudieux. Guests on “Yesterday’s Yesterday” are Lisa Coleman (piano; from The Revolution) and Christopher Guest (mandolin; played Nigel Tufnel in band and film Spinal Tap).

The first single is the retro-sounding “Nineteen Eighty,” a slab of stadium rock that is very melodic, with a guitar that shreds and drums that pound. The 1980s was when Satriani was working with his first band, the Squares, who “dialed back the guitar solos and histrionics to try to create a cooler new wave vibe,” Satriani recalls in a press release. For the track, in an effort to stay true to the sounds of the time, Satriani uses a vintage MXR EVH phaser.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Eddie Van Halen,” Satriani says. “In my mind, he just crystallized that era. The late ‘70s and early ‘80s, he kind of saved rock guitar. So that’s what I would have been doing.”

That Van Halen vibe also seems to come into the bouncy rocker, “Big Distortion,” a track that gets better and better as it goes along and is another album highlight, as is the opening title track, which has a heavy Jimi Hendrix kind of vibe and a snare drum start. Other standouts are the bouncy, melodic “Perfect Dust, which bops along; the funky “Falling Stars,” which adds more space in the track; and the mixture of world and surf sounds on “Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me,” which is most intriguing. Grade: A

The Everly Brothers: The Cadence Recordings (Demon Music/Edsel, 3 CDs). This box set collects everything Don and Phil Everly recorded for Cadence Records in Nashville from 1957 until they signed with Warner Bros. in 1960. Included are two albums, “The Everly Brothers” and “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us,” and a disc of singles and rarities.

This was a period in which much of the brothers’ material was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant or by Boudleaux alone. In all, Baudleaux wrote 23 songs for the Everlys. For the eponymous album, the duo wrote the hits “Bye-Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie.” The Bryants also wrote the singles “Problems,” “Love of My Life” and “Take a Message to Mary,” and Boudleaux alone wrote “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” “Bird Dog” and “Devoted To You,” all six are on disc three.

The self-named album also contains a solid cover of Ray Charles’ “This Little Girl of Mine” and Don’s “Maybe Tomorrow,” one of three originals. For up-tempo numbers there are Little Richard’s “Keep A Knockin’,” Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula” and the rockabilly of “Rip It Up.” The album features Chet Atkins on electric guitar and Floyd Cramer on piano.

“Songs Our Daddy Taught Us” reflects the brothers’ growing up in Brownie, Kentucky and Waterloo, Iowa. When Don was about 8 and Phil was about 6, they were part of their parents’ (Ike and Margaret) live radio show in Shenandoah (see next box set). Their final schooling was in Knoxville, Tenn., where Akins heard them and sent them to Acuff-Rose publishing in Nashville, which then sent them on to Cadence Records and its new country music division. The songs include old folk melodies that have been passed on for generations and newer songs, up to the 1930s. The arrangements are simpler and rely much more on their vocal harmonies. Highlights include Merle Travis’ arrangement of “Roving Gambler,” the traditional “Barbara Allen,” arranged by Don, and Henry Prichard’s “Kentucky.”

Singles on the third disc also include their cover of Roy Orbison’s “Claudette,” the Bryants’ “Poor Jenny,” Don’s “(‘Til) I Kissed You” and Phil’s “When Will I Be Loved.” Among the nine rarities are six demos (five of which were first released in 2001). Of the nine songs, six were written by Phil, including the nice “Sally Sunshine,” and two by the Bryants, including a different arrangement of “Poor Jenny.” Grades per disc: A+, B and A-

The Everly Brothers: Down in the Bottom, The Country Rock Sessions 1966-68 (RPM/Cherry Red, 3 CDs). These recordings for Warner Bros. came after the brothers had endured a hit drought of four years, a period during which the American airwaves were being taken over by the British Invasion. The attempts to update the Everlys’ sound, incorporating bits of the British sound, are evident on the first two albums of the three in this collection.

“The Hit Sound of the Everly Brothers” is a strong album, with that British influence edging in with the organ on “Let’s Go Get Stoned” – a bit of a strange song choice for the seemingly straitlaced Everlys, but the next album has “Mary Jane,” that is a bit trippy and perhaps an ode to marijuana? — as well as “Sticks and Stones,” with organ and a guitar solo, and a cover of “The House of the Rising Sun” (the big hit for The Animals, see below). There’s even organ on their cover of “Good Golly, Miss Molly.” Their version of “Oh, Boy!” is very upbeat, but their version of “Blueberry Hill” is slower than normal. Reaching into hit and future-hit songwriter bags, there is a nice version of Burt Bacharach-Hal David’s “Trains, And Boats, And Planes” and “She Never Smiles Anymore,” an early effort from Jimmy Webb.

This first disc has five bonus tracks, including the very good “When Eddie Comes Home,” another Webb composition. Other bonus highlights are the rocking “Nothing But the Best” and the bright “A Little Bit of Crazy.”

Disc two contains the 1967 album “Sing,” which includes Don singing their cover of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Also very ‘60s-ish is the upbeat, swinging “A Voice Within.” “Bowling Green,” written by Terry Slater (The Flintstones, soon to join the Everly Brothers band as bassist and later credited with “discovering” the Norwegian pop band a-ha) and Jacqueline Everly, returned the brothers to the Top 40. To my ear, it has a very Fifth Dimension-Bones Howe type of arrangement. And in the odd department is “Talking to the Flowers,” but then Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons had their own flower song in “Watch the Flowers Grow,” also released in 1967.

Disc two comes with 10 bonus tracks, six of which are from 45s, including “Love of the Common People” and the psychedelia-country mix “Lord of the Manor” by Slater. Another is a cover of Carole King-Gerry Goffin’s “You’re Just What I Was Looking For Today.”

Disc three contains the 1968 album “Roots,” which, in many ways, echoes “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us” (see above box set). In four spots, including the opening and close, dialogue bits from a 1952 Everly Family radio show are used. This is very much a country-rock album, with songs by Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard (“Mama Tried” is a standout), Ray Price, George Jones and Glen Campbell. Another highlight is Randy Newman’s “Illinois.”

There are seven bonus tracks on disc three, including the unreleased “Shop Girl” by Phil and Slater (in the lyrics a bus ride only costs 10 cents). Phil and Slater collaborated on two other songs, including “Human Race.” Very nice are covers of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul,” Dolly Parton’s “In the Good Old Days” and Willie Dixon’s “Down in the Bottom,” from which this collection takes its name. Grades per disc: A, B, B-

Eric Burdon & The Animals: When I Was Young, The MGM Recordings 1967-1968 (Esoteric/Cherry Red, 5 CDs). I think The Animals – despite the prevalence of “House of the Rising Sun” in TV shows these days – is a very underappreciated band. The work in this box set, after the band reorganized following a brief split after their early ABKCO days, was revelatory. Having moved to California, Burdon became influenced by the emerging counterculture.

With ABKCO (see below), The Animals topped the charts with “House of the Rising Sun” and they had a further 10 Top 40 hits in the United States (9 in their native U.K.) between 1964 and 1966. The latter year was when the band split up due to business problems. When Burdon reorganized the band in December 1966, he retained drummer Barry Jenkins from the previous Animals, then added John Weider on guitar, violin and bass, Vic Briggs on guitar and piano, and Danny McCulloch on bass. The new Animals left behind their trademark blues-oriented style for a more psychedelic, heavy approach. By the time they broke up again two years later, the band had relocated to California and released the four albums collected here. Burdon, of course, would then go on to record some classic albums with the all-black band War.

The albums here include “Winds of Change” (1967) in both its stereo and mono versions, “The Twain Shall Meet” (1968), “Every One of Us” (1968) and “Love Is” (1968). The set comes with 10 bonus tracks, all taken from singles and including the wonder “When I Was Young: and the two-part “Sky Pilot,” an anti-war song that had the sound travel from speaker to speaker. Another bonus track is their remixed cover of “River Deep,” Mountain High.” Another single, the psychedelic “A Girl Named Sandoz,” was inspired by the name of the Swiss pharmaceutical company that first developed LSD.

The album “Winds of Change” includes the title track, a stirring cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” (which, according to the essay, the band did not want released), and the scene-describing “San Franciscan Nights” and the hit “Good Times.” On “The Twain Shall Meet,” Burdon continued his descriptive narrative with “Monterey” (about the music festival) and the soaring “Sky Pilot.”

The set comes fine a fine 66-page booklet, filled with new quotes by Antion Meredith, the name Briggs now goes by, in the historical essay by Malcolm Dome. There are wonderful vintage photos, memorabilia, a collection of covers of singles and a listing of the band’s live appearances. Grade: box set A

The Animals: The Mickie Most Years and More (2013, ABKCO, 5 CDs). This set, which at the time was the first collection of recordings by The Animals, came with the five CDs and a t-shirt. I just saw one copy advertised on Amazon for a penny under $500, so one might not be able to buy it, but the individual albums should be available. Included are the “Graphic Sound” EP (4 songs) and the albums “The Animals,” “The Animals on Tour” (ironically not a live album), the cleverly-named “Animal Tracks” and “Animalization.” Eleven bonus tracks are spread throughout the discs.

The “Graphic Sound” EP is very blues based, with covers of songs by Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker and Elias McDaniel (“Pretty Thing,” made famous by Bo Diddley). This set was the EP’s first official American release, as only 500 copies were originally pressed.

“The Animals” starts off with the song the band is most remembered for, “House of the Rising Sun,” which had previously been known as a traditional folk ballad. There also is a rave-up cover of Ray Charles’ “Talkin’ ‘Bout You,” included here in its full 7-minute version, not the shorter B-side single release. The disc also has “Baby Let Me Take You Home,” their first British single, and a cover of Tommy Shaw’s “Gonna Send You Back to Georgia,” with “Walker” replacing “Georgia” in the lyrics.

“The Animals on Tour” includes the singles “I’m Crying” and a cover of Hooker’s “Boom Boom” boogie. Singer Eric Burdon’s obsession with Charles continued with covers of his “I Believe To My Soul” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” while Charles also had recorded “Mess Around.” “I’m Crying,” written by Burdon and organist Alan price, was the only original song. Price soon left the band though.

“Animal Tracks” included three big hits, a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” and the band’s classic renditions of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” The latter had been recorded the year previously by Nina Simone with an orchestra. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil composed “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” Foreshadowing the style of some future Burdon songs is “The Story of Bo Diddley.” The bonus tracks included the first American release of a cover of McDaniel’s “Roadrunner” and “Don’t Want Much” (author unknown). Finally, there is the single, “I’m Going to Change the World,” written by Burdon.

“Animalization” is noted for the singles “Don’t Bring Me Down,” “Inside – Looking Out” (originally a prison work song) and “See See Rider.” Each album comes with liner notes by David Fricke. Grade: box set A-