Various: Music from the Motion Picture Almost Famous: 5CD Super Deluxe Edition (Geffen/UMe, 5 CDs). Released shortly after Paramount’s updated release of the film itself on limited edition 4K Ultra and Blu-ray, this expanded soundtrack version includes nearly three-and-a-half hours of music from the film on three CDs – that’s 47 songs and 18 bits of dialogue from the film – plus a CD dedicated to the music of Stillwater, the fictional band the film centers about, and a disc of Nancy Wilson’s original score, with 14 previously unreleased tracks. Overall, there are 36 unreleased recordings.

First though, I need to talk to the packaging, which is wonderful. I absolutely love the photo of Stillwater – actors Billy Crudup and Jason Lee – in concert that is the cover of the box set, which alternately is called “Almost Famous – Tour 73” edition. Inside is a hardcover book done up as William Miller’s high school notebook, complete with Miller’s (actor Patrick Fugit) scrawls of band names etc. on the cover. Inside the cover is a slip-in pouch with a large black-and-white photo of Stillwater at Fillmore East – done Allman Brothers style – as well as a replica of the Rolling Stone cover with Stillwater and Miller’s article on the band inside, complete with band photos and advertisements and a couple of album reviews of the day.

The next page holds replica tickets for a Stillwater concert in Cleveland and a Black Sabbath concert in San Diego. Both are at 1973 prices: $8.50 for Sabbath and $7.50 for Stillwater. Forty pages of text and photos follow, including a two-page recollection by film writer-director Cameron Crowe, and a page by musician Nancy Wilson, the co-vocalist/guitarist of Heart who was married to Crowe at the time and who wrote the bulk of the film’s original music. Other pages look at the characters and actors who play them, the storyboard artist and various crew members, as well as song and track credits. The photos included are tremendous.

For those who do not know, “Almost Famous,” which I urge you to see if you have not, is Crowe’s semi-autobiographical film about a naïve young writer learning rock and roll journalism while going on tour with an up-and-coming band called Stillwater. The 15-year-old writer, William Miller is played by the cherubic-faced Fugit. His mother Elaine is played by Frances McDormand and his sister Anita by Zooey Deschanel. William had done several pieces for rock critic/editor Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the real person) and Creem magazine. His writing comes to the attention of Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres (Terry Chen, playing another real person), who, not knowing how young William really is, asks him to go on the road with Stillwater and write a profile article for the magazine.

The fictional band Stillwater consists of vocalist Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee of many a Kevin Smith film), guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup of “Watchmen”), drummer Ed Vallencourt (John Fedevich) and bassist Larry Fellows (Mark Kozelek).  (There actually was a real Stillwater, a Southern rock band with three guitarists, that released two albums on Capricorn and was active from 1973 to 1984, but the fictional Stillwater was not based on them, but rather on Bad Company, the Allman Brothers and other bands Crowe used to cover.)

William is originally sent by Bangs to interview Black Sabbath, but he is not allowed backstage because he is “not on the list.” However, when opening act Stillwater arrives, the lad impresses Russell by knowing their names and giving critical comments about some of their songs, so Russell lets him enter with the band. Meanwhile, outside the venue, William meets a key figure in his life over the next few weeks, namely Penny Lane (Kate Hudson, then 19), who calls herself one of the “Band Aids” rather than a groupie, but she really is a groupie, with married Russell as her willing target. Meanwhile, William falls for Penny. The film is a delight as William experiences rock and roll on the road via the band’s bus, gaining worldly wisdom while missing his deadlines and high school graduation.

This expanded soundtrack starts off with 19 tracks on disc one, including some of my favorite songs, along them “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, “Search and Destroy” by Iggy & The Stooges, “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” by Todd Rundgren (whose about to be installed in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, finally), “Teacher” by Jethro Tull, “Roundabout” and “I’ve Seen All Good People” by Yes, and “River” by Joni Mitchell. There is an unreleased, special version of The Who’s “Amazing Journey/ Sparks” from their rock opera “Tommy.” Stillwater is represented by “Fever Dog,” very much done a la Led Zeppelin. It was written by Wilson and Crowe, and Heart is well known for their Led Zeppelin covers. Why, there even is “The Chipmunk Song.”

Disc two has 21 tracks, including Rod Stewart (“Every Picture Tells a Story”), Little Feat (“Slip Away”), Raspberries (“Go All the Way”), Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Simple Man”), Led Zeppelin (“That’s the Way”), Neil Young (“Everyone Knows This is Nowhere”), Fleetwood Mac (“Future Games”), Allman Brothers (live “One Way Out”) and Deep Purple (“Burn”). The Stillwater tracks are the exciting “Love Thing,” with co-author Wilson on rhythm guitar, and “You Had to Be There,” with co-author Peter Frampton on lead guitar and backing vocals and Wilson again on rhythm guitar. Previously unreleased are Stillwater’s very rough take on Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” and a different version of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” that has Stillwater and others on the tour bus join in singing.

Disc three presents 25 tracks, include three unreleased tracks: a live version of Steely Dan’s “Reeling in the Years”; Jeff Bebe’s “Untitled” instrumental; and a live “Cortez the Killer” by Neil Young. There also is David Bowie’s live cover of Lou Reed’s “I’m Waiting for the Man,” a rare bit of soul in Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away,” and two Stillwater songs, “Love Comes and Goes,” again with co-author Wilson on rhythm guitar, and a cover of Shel Silverstein’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone.” Additional good songs are “The Wind” by Cat Stevens, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Wishing Well” by Free and “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” by Elton John. The Led Zeppelin fixation comes to the forefront with four more tracks by the rockers, “Misty Mountain Hop,” “The Rain Song,” “Bron-Yr-Aur” and “Tangerine.”

Disc four is devoted to Stillwater’s music, including all six official songs, five unreleased Wilson demos, two unreleased Frampton demos and three unreleased Stillwater backstage jams. All of the official songs are very good, with lead vocals by Marti Frederiksen and guitars by Mike McCready, Wilson and Frampton. Frampton plays lead guitar on “Hour of Need” and “You Had to Be There,” while Gordon Kennedy plays acoustic guitar on “Hour of Need.” Wilson’s demos include two versions of “Love Comes and Goes.” The backstage jams are of Led Zeppelin’s “That’s the Way,” Neil Young’s “Down by the River” and Stillwater’s “Fever Dog.” All three are acoustic.

The fifth disc is devoted to Wilson’s score music and includes seven tracks used in the film – only one has previously been released – and 14 unreleased outtakes. Both “Prefunction” and the more elaborate “Function” feature a Who-like repeating synthesizer. Also nice is the unreleased “Aaron’s Real Room,” which has the flavor of India.

There are many other editions of the release, including a limited-edition Uber Box set that has the expanded soundtrack on five CDs, seven 180-gram black vinyl discs and a brand new 7-inch record of Stillwater’s “Fever Dog.” There are two six-LP editions, one on black vinyl and the other on colored vinyl; a separate 12-inch vinyl EP with all six of Stillwater’s songs; a Record Store Day exclusive with the seven original demos of the Stillwater songs, five performed by Wilson and the other two by Frampton; a two-LP vinyl version of the original Grammy Award-winning soundtrack album; and a two-CD Deluxe Edition of the original soundtrack. Grade: box set A

Kasim: 2021 (Deko Entertainment, CD). Kasim Sulton is best known for his work with Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. He sang lead on 1980’s “Set Me Free,” Utopia’s only top 40 hit in the United States. He has toured with Blue Öyster Cult, Meat Loaf, Hall & Oates, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Patty Smyth and Richie Sambora, among many other artists. Sulton was the bassist and sang background vocals on the breakout Meat Loaf album “Bat Out of Hell,” and he has played and sung on albums that have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide.

Most of the 12 songs here were co-written by Sulton and Phil Thornalley, with both men playing all the instruments and singing backup. Sulton handles all the lead vocals and Thornalley arranged the strings. The new single, “Fastcar,” involved a third co-writer, Colin Campsie, and the album ends with a cover of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Veteran Thornalley of England has written several songs for Bryan Adams and produced The Cure’s “Pornography” album. He lists Rundgren as one of his influences. He also was recording engineer for two Psychedelic Furs albums, a Duran Duran album and three Thompson Twins albums.

In addition to “Fastcar,” which has a bright melody, but is one of several songs with love complaints (and which recalls The Cars of Boston), album highlights are “More Love,” a solid plea for more understanding and love, and “Blame Someone Else,” which has a nice (familiar?) melody and beat, and thick, multi-tracked vocals. Also very good are two late songs, the upbeat “Everything I Shouldn’t Want,” specifically here, a love, and the bright, melodic “In the Name of Love,” yet another song about love.

There is a lyric nod to Rundgren in “Unsung,” about Sulton’s lack of notoriety. The ballad “God Kicked the Stone” is somewhat bitter and God, this time identified as female, also gets picked on in “Sweetest Fascination,” where again love is a struggle. There are strings on both “To Her” – you guessed it, another love song – and “Her Love is Sunshine.” Grade: B

The Immediate Family: The Immediate Family (Quarto Valley, CD). The Immediate Family is a sideman supergroup that is finally stepping into the spotlight with its own music on its debut album. Group members have played live and in the studio behind Hall of Fame artists James Taylor, Keith Richards, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The lineup consists of guitarists Danny Kortchmar, Steve Postell and Waddy Wachtel, drummer Russ Kunkel and bassist Leland Sklar, some of the finest musicians and songwriters there are. Kortchmar, Kunkel and Sklar first played together in an instrumental ensemble called The Section about 30 years ago. Watchel was asked to join, but declined, citing his preference for performing songs.

The album was recorded over three days at Browne’s studio in Los Angeles. In addition to 12 studio songs, the album contains two live bonus tracks, wonderful versions of Warren Zevon’s “Johnny Strikes Up the Band” and the Browne-Kortchmar-penned hit “Somebody’s Baby.”

The disc opens with the heavy chug of “Can’t Stop Progress,” a rocker about accepting some of the inevitabilities of modern life. It is well played, but the vocals are a slight letdown. “Slippin’ and Slidin’” follows with a softer start, but soon morphs into some heavy blues-rock territory. The latter has a solid guitar solo. Both tracks have kind of a ZZ Top vibe.

Other highlights are the ballad “A Thing of the Past”; the sway rock of “Fair Warning” with its fine guitars (also the current single); the Wachtel-Zevon co-written “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead,” with its good vocal and slide guitar; “House Will Fall,” with its good beat; and the slower “Not Made That Way.” Grade: B+

The Immediate Family will begin touring in November, with two dates scheduled not so far away. They are Nov. 17 at the Music Room in Yarmouth, Mass., and Nov. 18 at Tupelo Music Hall in Derry, NH.