Clifford/Wright: For All the Money in the World (Cliffsong CD). In the decades that followed Creedence Clearwater Revival’s two-year reign as the No. 1 band in the world – issuing released 11 million-selling hit singles and five studio albums — Creedence drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford focused his creative energy on producing album projects. His concept was to assemble a top shelf mix of players, write an album’s worth of original songs, then record, mix and master each album. When a project was completed, the masters were archived and safely stored in his vault until the time was right to release them.

This year, Clifford has retrieved those masters and has begun releasing them one album at a time on his own label, Cliffsong Records. This is the first release.

As was the case with Creedence, the core members of Clifford/Wright are from El Cerrito, California, each having earned Gold records over the years for playing on million-selling hits. Clifford’s original idea was to build the band around a solid rhythm section, and his first choice for a bass player was his old pal Steve Wright from the Greg Kihn Band (“The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em),” “Jeopardy”). Clifford and Wright also clicked as a songwriting team, crafting well over a dozen original songs for the album, 11 of which are included here and five of which are great, with another two close behind.

Featured on guitar are Greg Douglass (Steve Miller Band), Jimmy Lyon (Eddie Money) and Joe Satriani, with keyboards provided by Tim Gorman (The Who) and Pat Mosca (Greg Kihn Band). Auditions for a lead vocalist led to Keith England, and recording sessions were held in various studios in the San Francisco Bay area. England has a raspy voice, which brings a Rod Stewart of Faces era vibe to the likes of “Weekends” here.

The album opens with the winning title track. A bit of flashy guitar opens “Lost Pride Fever,” another highlight and one of several tracks with prominent keyboards. Another such is the closing “You’re Gonna Love Again,” which also has a nice guitar solo. A terrific bluesy rocker is “She Told Me So,” with a nice guitar riff and keyboards, while the pop of “I See Your Silhouette,” with its very nice piano and vocal, comes closest to the old CCR sound. The other standout track, also pop, is “Real Love,” which has horns and comes across a bit anthemic. “Just in the Nick of Time” is more minimalistic, while “I Need Your Love” is a power ballad. Grade: A-

Ten Years After: Naturally Live (Deluxe Edition) (deko CD). Previously released on CD and vinyl, the strong performance album was recorded March 24, 2018 at HsD, Erfurt, Germany. This version adds a vinyl-only track and an unreleased cover of John Lee Hooker’s “32-20 Blues,” featuring bassist Colin Hodgkinson.

The band, which peaked on the charts from 1968 to 1973, when the late Alvin Lee was the songwriter and lead guitarist, including an electrifying performance at Woodstock, still has original members Ric Lee (drums) and Chick Churchill (keyboards). The other two members are bassist Hodgkinson and vocalist/guitarist Marcus Bofanti, both of whom joined the band in 2014.

Three of the songs are from their most recent studio album, “A Sting in the Tale” album (2017). The songs are “Land of the Vandals,” “Silverspoon Lady,” with its keyboard break, and the bluesy “Last Night of the Bottle.” “Vandals” opens the show, while the other two follow their 1971 hit, “I’d Love to Change the World,” always a highlight. “I’d Love to Change the World” has been the band’s only Top 40 hit in the United States. Another three – “Portable People,” “Don’t Want You Woman” and “Losing the Dogs” – make up an acoustic mini-set midway through the show. All three songs hail from 1967. “Portable People” features pretty guitar.

Bonfanti plays harmonica on the boogie break in “One of These Days.” Old favorites – all highlights – include “Hear Me Calling” and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” both with extended instrumental sections, and a 10:35 version of “I’m Going Home,” that incorporates bits of a couple of oldies. The 1970 rocker “50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain” sounds a bit like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” (1969) in its melody. The bonus here from the vinyl release is “I Say Yeah.” Grade: A

Andy Peake: Mood Swings (Big Little CD). Peake is a singer-songwriter, as well as a drummer and percussionist. In 1987, he toured as part of Nicolette Larson’s band. When her touring stopped, he played drums for Tanya Tucker, Don Williams and Sweethearts of the Rodeo, all in the country genre, as he had moved to Nashville. By the end of the 1990s, he had toured with Delbert McClinton and Lee Roy Parnell. He later was the foundation of the rhythm section for the original Ryman Auditorium production of “Always … Patsy Cline.” Peake toured with Williams in 2005, then helped form Big Shoes, which featured former bandmembers of Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, McClinton, Jackson Browne and Dr. Hook.

Leaving Big Shoes in 2019, Peake took the step, during the pandemic, of recording this solo album, with him as the vocalist and primary songwriter. Seven of the 11 songs are Peake originals (2 co-written), while two are originals by veteran songwriter friends. The covers are a Band-style version of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and a jaunty closing version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

Peake is joined on the album by several of his world-class musician friends, including Will McFarlane (Raitt, Swampers), James Pennebaker, Chris Leuzinger (Garth Brooks), Andy Reiss, Sam Broussard and John Prestia on guitars; Paul Ossola (SNL Staff Band) and Bob Marinelli (Beth Hart) on bass; Al Hill (Bettye LaVette, Carlene Carter) and Kevin McKendree (McClinton) on keyboards; and Scott Ducaj on trumpet, Miqui Gutierrez on tenor sax, Jeff Taylor (Elvis Costello) on accordion and special guest vocalist John Cowan.

The album offers many different flavors; for example, the opening “Make Peace with the Blues” is a bluesy rumba that takes a Zen approach, while the appealing, and humorous, “Hip Replacement” follows with a Latin salsa rhythm and two horns. There is nice guitar on the playful two-step blues of “If the Blues Was Green,” a song by his friends Randy Handley and Richard Fleming. The other friends contribution is the more-rocking “Another Day, Another Teardrop” by Dave Duncan and Karen Leipziger. It is a jolt the album could have used more of, particularly with its rock guitar.

“Do It While You Can,” on which Peake’s drumming shines, dips into a little bit of James Brown funk midway, while his “My Baby’s Got a Light On,” which opens with horns, talks about his dislike of Halloween. Several of the songs are concerned with bad luck at love, especially his “Bitter Pill,” done in a minor key but with nice guitars. Grade: B

Various: NOW That’s What I Call Music? 79 (Sony Music CD). They still crank out these compilation CDs four times a year, including, this time, tracks from six new artists they are spotlighting. The other 16 tracks make up a mixed bag, with some hits, some why-are-they-hits and a few veteran performers.

The best of the collection are “Peaches” by Justin Bieber, featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon; “Beautiful Mistakes” by Maroon 5 and Megan Thee Stallion; Duncan Laurence’s “Arcade,” which is all about the chorus; Imagine Dragons’ “Follow You”; the bright “Way Less Sad” by AJR; and the catchy “Leave Before You Love Me” by Marshmello X Jonas Brothers. Giveon alone has an annoying vocal on “Heartbreak Anniversary.” Billie Eilish is popular, but I find her “Your Power” to be a nothing. There are some nice sounds in “You” by Regard X Troye Sivan X Tate McRae (this is one of three tracks featuring “X”; not sure if that is the new “&” or what) and Nelly & Florida Georgia Line’s “Lil Bit” does mention Tom Brady.

Other tracks are by Masked Wolf (rap), Doza Cat featuring SZA, Ariane Grande, Kali Uchis and Olivia Rodrigo. Best of the six NOW Presents WHAT’s Next are Mike Mineo’s “What Love Is,” with its catchy chorus, and the young-sounding “Head/Heart” by 19&You. Grade: C+

Various: NOW That’s What I Call a Decade 1980s (Sony Music CD). Much better is this 18-song collection of hits from the 1980s. Somehow the opening “Monkey” by George Michael escaped me, but the rest are very familiar, with six among my very favorites. Those would be “Shout” by Tears For Fears, “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung, “Take On Me” by A-Ha, “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol and “Africa” by Toto. There is a nicely remastered “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics and a 12-inch version of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” which seems of a lesser audio quality.

Among the other tracks are Duran Duran’s “Rio,” Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah,” John Mellencamp’s “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” INXS’ “Need You Tonight,” The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian,” Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” and Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart). I do not know if it was just an Eighties’ thing, but five of the song titles have a parenthetical afterthought. Grade: A+

Various: NOW Yearbook ’83 (EU, Sony Music/EMI, 4 CDs). This collection, which also comes in a limited hardcover book with annotations filled with trivia about the songs and performers, has a whopping 80 tracks, all from just one year. Appropriately, it opens with Wham!’s “Club Tropicana,” with the sounds of walking into the establishment. Disc one is pop/radio-friendly heavy, with 13 of the 21 tracks among my favorites. These include Duran Duran’s “Is There Something I Should Know?,” Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon,” Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy,” Spandau Ballet’s “True,” Paul Young’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home),” Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing,” Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” The Belle Stars’ “Sign of the Times,” Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” and Men at Work’s “Down Under.”

The second disc leans more towards rhythm & blues and includes Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long (All Night),” KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Give It Up,” Tina Turner’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money,” Laura Branigan’s “Gloria,” Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” and Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much” among its 20 tracks.

Disc three starts a bit more electronic. Favorites among the 20 tracks are New Order’s “Blue Monday,” Heaven 17’s “Temptation,” The Human League’s “(Keep Feeling) Fascination,” U2’s “New Year’s Day,” Echo and The Bunnymen’s “The Cutter” (with its Middle Eastern swirl), Public Imaged Limited’s “This is Not Another Love Song,” The Cure’s “The Lovecats” and Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance.” Also on the disc are tracks by Howard Jones, ABC, China Crisis, Tears For Fears, Simple Minds, The Stranglers, Fun Boy Three and Elis Costello & The Attractions.

Disc four has a more progressive bent and includes such favorites as The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” Toto’s “Africa” (one of only two repeats from the “Decade 1980s” disc), Robert Plant’s “Big Log,” Spandau Ballet’s “Gold,” Duran Duran’s “Union of the Snake,” Adam Ant’s “Puss ‘n Boots” (with Phil Collins on drums!), Toyah’s “Rebel Run,” Thompson Twins’ “Hold Me Now,” Paul Young’s “Love of the Common People,” Culture Club’s “Victims” and Christmas tidings from the Pretenders in “2000 Miles” to close the collection. Grade: A

filed under: