Rolling Stones: Tattoo You: 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (Rolling Stones/Polydor, 4 CDs + LP). The Rolling Stones continue to work their back catalog in fine fashion. “Tattoo You,” first released in 1981, is considered by many to be the last great Stones album. Certainly, it was a terrific ending to the band’s second decade. With this deluxe release, the album has been remastered for both CD and LP, while a second CD contains nine very worthwhile rarities and the final two CDs contain a full London concert from 1982. In addition, there is a 124-page hardcover book with more than 180 rare photos, many of which are brilliant.

The original album was released during the early days of MTV and featured two hits, whose videos became staples on the new network. They were “Start Me Up,” which I consider one of the best Stones songs ever and still makes their stage shows, and the quieter song, “Waiting on a Friend,” which features nice horn playing. “Start Me Up” made it all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart. The album itself topped the Billboard 200 album chart, the last Stones album to do so and, at the time, the eighth straight Stones album to accomplish the feat.

The album itself was a bit of a rare bird in that it actually was a collection of song attempts from the previous decade – mostly from the sessions for the “Some Girls” and “Emotional Rescue” albums, but one song going back as far as “Goats Head Soup” – which the band then finished up for the album. Three of the tracks, “Hang Fire, “Black Limousine” and “Neighbours,” are R&B-flavored and, along with “Start Me Up,” made up the bulk of the original vinyl version’s rock A side. There also is the boozy rock of “Little T&A,” the usual track guitarist Keith Richards got to sing. The B side contained the quieter material, including “Waiting on a Friend,” “Worried About You” and the nice soul slice, “Tops.” Billy Preston and Nicky Hopkins, both long-associated with the Stones and The Beatles, both play keyboards on “No Use in Crying.” Keyboardist Ian Stewart also appears on the album and played on the subsequent tour. This also was when bassist Bill Wyman was still with the Stones.

The vinyl version included with the box set is a pictured disc with the tattooed face of singer Mick Jagger on one side and Richards on the other.

The nine songs on the “Lost and Found Rarities” disc include the fine rocker “It’s a Lie,” about the rumors of Jagger’s lifestyle, and “Living in the Heart of Love,” which sounds a bit like “Start Me Up” in spots. There also are the slower “Fast Talking, Slow Walking,” which is worthwhile, “Fiji Jim,” featuring harmonica, and a very early version of “Start Me Up” that includes more of the reggae beats Richards originally brough to the song. Three covers stand out as well: The Chi-Lites’ “Troubles a’ Comin’,” with a nice Jagger vocal; Jimmy Reed’s “Shame, Shame, Shame,” with playful bounce and harmonica; and Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away,” with an even better Jagger vocal.

The 2CD live concert is from June 1982 at Wembley Stadium, part of the second leg of their tour in support of “Tattoo You,” which would prove to be their last tour until 1989. It shares the title “Still Life,” with a single-disc album from the North American leg of the tour, recorded in 1981, that was released in 1982. The set list is very similar to that of the “Let’s Spend the Night Together” concert film, released in 1983 and covering the 1981 North American tour.

The concert is career-spanning and opens with “Under My Thumb,” soon followed by “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” The new songs “Neighbours” and “Black Limousine” are performed back-to-back, part of the five songs from “Tattoo You” that the band includes in the show. There are several covers, including “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” that stretches to 9:30, followed by the rarely-performed “Twenty Flight Rock” by Eddie Cochran, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ “Going to a Go-Go” and The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace.”

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” comes midway and is stretched to 10:49, with the audience singing alone for a bit, and “Miss You” clocks in at 7:47” and “Beast of Burden” at 6:50. Other familiar highlights are “Tumbling Dice,” “She’s So Cold” and “Hang Fire,” strung together, and the closing quintet of “Honky Tonk Women,” “Brown Sugar,” “Start Me Up,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” the latter being the sole encore number.

The book’s photos are from the recording sessions and world tour. The book also has interviews with producer Chris Kimsey and photographer Hubert Kretzscmar. Grade: album and set A

Elton John: The Lockdown Sessions (E Rocket/EMI/Interscope CD). Recorded around London and then in Los Angeles during the Covid-19 restrictions, the 16 tracks here find Sir Elton working with different collaborators, but no Bernie Taupin. However, in his liner notes, John says his next album will be all new material written with Taupin.

This album is a mixed bag, with the original songs co-written by John generally the better of the material. For seven of the tracks, John is a guest on someone else’s recording and only Rina Sawayama’s “Chosen Family” and Miley Cyrus’ cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” really stand out. For “Nothing Else Matters,” John plays a piano intro and close, rather than the usual guitar. Here, John sings with a very deep, deliberate voice and plays piano. Also good is Lil Nas X’s “One of Me,” but I hardly noticed John’s piano, let alone backing vocals. The engineered duet with the late Glen Campbell on “I’m Not Going to Miss You,” the last song Campbell wrote, is effective as well.

Sticking to the guest appearances by John, the others are with Surfaces, Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz (with 6LACK rapping) and rising country star Jimmie Allen. A new John song, the piano-led “Always Love You” is spoiled by the addition of raps by Young Thug and Nicki Minaj.

The album has two tracks that stand out high above the rest. The first is the opening “Cold Heart” with its big beat in a PNAU remix, with Dua Lipo singing a little bit of John’s “Rocket Man” in the mix. Also mixed in are bits of John’s “Sacrifice,” “Kiss the Bride” and “Where’s the Shoorah?” The other is a brilliant take on “It’s a Sin” that has new vocals by John and Years & Years (aka Olly Alexander), using what sounds like the complete Pet Shop Boys’ backing track from their version. The Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s a Sin” lent its title to Russel T. Davies’ excellent, affecting TV miniseries about the AIDS epidemic in London in the 1980s, in which Alexander starred as the main character.

For fine new John songs, there are “After All,” written with Charlie Puth, who sings the softer first verse before good musical punch is added; “Orbit” with S.G. Lewis, which has a disco-ish beat and groove, including swirling strings; the slightly country-flavored – thanks to pedal steel – “Simple Things,” sung with Brandi Carlile and about sharing things he has learned along the way in life; and the rocker “E-Ticket,” written with guest singer Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, about those special speed tickets at amusement parks and a bit in the “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” vein.

There also are two dream Stevie co-written duets. The first is “Finish Line” with Stevie Wonder, on which both play piano and sing, and Wonder adds harmonica, and which is lifted up by the addition of a vocal choir. The other is “Stolen Car” with Stevie Nicks, with the stolen car used as a metaphor for a love affair. Grade: B+

ABBA: Voyage (Capitol CD). This is ABBA’s first album of new material in 40 years and apparently is a one-off, as Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, the male half of the quartet, have told media outlets the album will be their last as a band. That makes the album even more disappointing as, while there are three very good songs and several just good songs, there are no real classics here, such as ABBA gleefully churned out during their heyday. The album was recorded over 2017 to 2021.

The album opens with a solo female voice and strings on “I Still Have Faith in You,” with the sound then broadening. It is the most inconsequential of all the songs here. The upbeat “When You Danced with Me,” which seems to use synthesized bagpipes, is an improvement. After the ballad “Little Things,” which could be considered a Christmas song and uses a children’s choir, there is a return to upbeat music with “Don’t Shut Me Down.”

Two of the next three songs are among the album’s best. “Just a Notion,” which the band first worked on in 1978, is uptempo with piano, while “Keep an Eye on Dan” is more rock, with lots of synthesizer. In between is “I Can Be That Woman,” which talks about wasted years — certainly fans might consider that ABBA has had 40 wasted years with no new music.

There are beautiful melodies and acoustic guitar on “Bumblebee,” before album highlight, the forceful, upbeat “No Doubt About It.” The closing “Ode to Freedom” features the Stockholm Concert Orchestra. Grade: B

Albert Bouchard’s Imaginos II: Bombs Over Germany (minus zero and counting) (Rockheart/Deko CD). Bouchard was the drummer and a founding member of Blue Öyster Cult. One of his longtime writing partners was the late Sandy Pearlman, who used to write for Crawdaddy magazine. One of Pearlman’s greatest efforts was the narrative and philosophical poem “The Soft Doctrines of Imaginos,” which was about the occult origins of the First World War. He wrote it in the 1960s while studying anthropology.

The album “Imaginos,” which took eight years to complete, originally was intended as the first in a trilogy of solo albums by Bouchard, who exited Blue Öyster Cult in 1981. After CBS rejected the album in 1984, a reworked version of the album became Blue Öyster Cult’s 11th and final album for Columbia Records in 1988. For last year’s release, “Re Imaginos,” Bouchard reworked some arrangements to more closely match what he and Pearlman had intended, restored two songs that had been cut due to the then-limits of vinyl and reached into the Blue Öyster Cult songbook for “Astronomy” and a reworked “Workshop of the Telescopes,” renamed “Black Telescope.” The restored songs were “Girl That Love Made Blind” and “Gil Blanco County.”

Now Bouchard, singing and drumming under the alias Prince Omega, has recorded the second album of his trilogy, a concept album about an alien conspiracy that is brought to fruition during the late 19th and early 20th century through the actions of Imaginos, an agent of evil. Last month, the single “Independence Day,” about trying to establish the land of Plutonia, was released. It features fellow BOC alum Joe Bouchard on vocals. With Pearlman unable to finish the lyrics in2016, Bouchard turned to his brother Joe to help finish the song.

In a press release, Bouchard states, “We already had some lyrics but we added some lines to help move the story along. I liked what he (Joe) did so much I used his vocal for the lead. He actually created a complete track of the song playing all the instruments. I replaced his drums with mine, had David Hirschberg replace his bass part with a better sound and David and I sang along in the choruses to the part he had already recorded to add some extra fullness to it. My favorite part is the trumpets in the bridge section.”

Other guests are Ross The Boss (Dictators), Joe Cerisano (Silver Condor, TSO), and reunited original Blue Öyster Cult members Eric Bloom and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, as well current BOC member Richie Castellano. The album also features reworks of classics like “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” one of two tracks not listed on the album back (along with “Half Life Time”), “The Red and the Black” and “Dominance and Submission” with Jack Rigg on guitar. Roeser sings and plays guitar on “Three Sisters.”

The first single was “OD’d On Life Itself” of which Bouchard said, “This version of ‘OD’d On Life Itself’ is a very different take on the song that was recorded for BOC’s second album, ‘Tyranny and Mutation.’ The lyrics return to the original lyrics written by Sandy Pearlman, much less sarcastic and much more spooky. The track reflects that change with a simpler and more spacious arrangement with just acoustic guitar, mysterioso guitar, violin, drums and bass. The standout lyrics are ‘Don’t you fear this trade in lives’ and ‘This wedding by heaven was made up in hell,’ which portend to the darker nature of this second act in the ‘Imaginos’ saga.” The violin is particularly nice.

The disc opens with a theatrical introduction by BOC’s Bloom, which states “the future is my mind.” “When War Comes” sounds brighter than it should, and there is lots of echoed vocal in “7 Screaming Dizbusters,” which has fine rock guitar by Castellano on the break. Bouchard’s drumming highlights the rocking title track. There is classical guitar on “Shadow of California.” There is a booklet with the lyrics. Grade: A-