Kate Bush rarities, live Ronstadt

By Tom Von Malder | Apr 13, 2019
Photo by: Fish People/Rhino Records The cover of Kate Bush's rarities collection.

Owls Head — Kate Bush: The Other Sides (Fish People/Rhino, 4 CDs, 2:12:36). The four CDs here only average about 33 minutes each and include only 34 tracks, but they all are rarities from Bush's recorded output. The discs are divided into 12-inch mixes, two discs of b-sides and rarities and a CD of Bush performing others' songs. All tracks have been remastered by James Guthrie and Joel Plante.

The five 12-inch mixes, all from 1985 and 1986, an era when 12-inch remixes for dance clubs were at their peak, include a lengthy version of Bush's most famous song, "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)," which is also included on the second CD in a 2012 remix. A remix of Bush's other well-known song, "Wuthering Heights," appears on the third CD and includes a new vocal from "The Whole Story." The other highlight of the remix CD is an alternate mix of "Hounds of Love." The Meteorological Mix of "The Big Sky" is percussive and there is military drumming on the opening of "Cloudbusting" (The Orgonon Mix).

The rarities span 1982 through 2012 and include several songs that appeared in movie soundtracks, including the pretty and fragile "Lyra" from "The Golden Compass," "Be Kind To My Mistakes" from "Castaway" and "Un Baiser D'Enfant" (The Infant Kiss), based on the 1961 film, "The Innocents." A second song in French is "Ne T'Enfuis D'Enfant." The lively "Under the Ivy" is mostly voice and piano, while "Burning Bridge," which even sounds miserable in spots, has vocals all over her range.

Disc three of more rarities include two seasonal songs, her original, traditional-sounding "Home For Christmas" and the playful "December Will Be Magic Again." The title of "Warm and Soothing" is an accurate description of the song, as is "Ran Tan Waltz," although it is also playful.

The nine-track covers CD opens and closes with an Elton John song. The opener is a delicate version of "Rocket Man" that adds a bit of reggae towards the end. The closer is "Candle In the Wind," a bit underplayed. There is a smooth version of Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing," a normal reading of the Gershwins' "The Man I Love," "Brazil" from the soundtrack of that film and Donovan's "Lord of the Reedy River," with some mysterious sounds added. I have not heard the latter song in ages, but Donovan's version is one of my favorites. Three of the tracks are covers of traditional songs, including "Mna na  hEireann." Grade: A

Kate Bush: Remastered Part II (Fish People/Rhino, 11 CDs). "The Other Sides" compilation (see above) is one of five albums contained in this box set, which was released in November. The set also includes the studio albums "Aerial" (2005), consisting of CDs "A Sea of Honey" and "A Sky of Honey"; "Director's Cut" (2011), consisting of remixed and restructured songs from earlier albums, "The Sensual World" and "The Red Shoes"; and "50 Words For Snow" (2011). The fifth album in the collection is the 3-CD live album, "Before the Dawn" (2016). The live album, recorded during a 22-day residency at London's Hammersmith Apollo, marked Bush's return to the stage after a 35-year absence. It includes the complete "Ninth Wave" suite from "Hounds of Love" and "A Sky of Honey" from "Aerial." The albums come with lyric booklets. Grade: box set A

Linda Ronstadt: Live in Hollywood (Rhino CD, 48:50). Speaking of live albums, this is Ronstadt's first live album release, but it was recorded way back on April 24, 1980 at Television Center Studios in Hollywood for her HBO special. This was a time when her commercial career was at its peak. Ronstadt has selected 12 of her favorite numbers from the original concert, including a previously unreleased six-minute jam of her chart-topping hit, "You're No Good." Also included are her big hits, "Blue Bayou," "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" and "It's So Easy," plus her three Top Ten hits from her then-current album, "Mad Love," namely, "I Can't Let Go," "How Do I Make You" and "Hurt So Bad."

Her backing band consists of guitarists Kenny Edwards and Danny Kortchmar, drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Bob Glaub, keyboardist Billy Payne (of Little Feat), pedal steel guitarist Dan Dugmore and backing vocalist Wendy Waldman. Peter Asher, Ronstadt's  producer and the concert's executive producer, plays percussion and sings background.

The performances are powerful, but almost were lost forever, as no one initially could find the master tapes. Then, album producer John Boylan had a rink-side conversation with a Warner Bros. audio engineer at their sons' hockey practice, which led him to the missing tapes. Only two of the tracks have been previously released. Grade: A

Tim Gartland: Satisfied (Taste Good Music CD, 37:54). This is the fourth solo album for the harmonica player/singer/songwriter. It was recorded at The Rock House in Franklin, TN and produced by Kevin McKendree. The musicians include McKendree (Delbert McClinton, Brian Setzer) and Tom West (Susan Tedeschi, Duke Robillard) on keyboards, Jack Bruno (Tina Turner, Joe Cocker) on drums, Steve Mackay (Delbert McClinton, Wallflowers) on bass,  Robert Frahm (Blues Warriors) and Tom Britt (Vince Gill, Jonell Mosser) on guitar and Wendy Moten on backing vocals.

The 10 original songs on the album, blending blues, soul, roots rock and country, were all written or co-written by Gartland, and were recorded in only two days to capture the intimate, immediate and natural sound of outstanding musicians creating music in a live room. Highlights are the opening "Drinking For Two," a rocking drinking song; the slower, bluesier "Don't Make More Trouble"; and "Why Does the Room Begin To Sway?," which adds a bit of a hop beat that is nice. Moten adds nice vocals to "Don't Make More Trouble."

A slow blues vibe is also found on "Blues For Free," but the title track is overly laid-back and includes a piano break. It does have a fun line in: "The only bucket on my list is Kentucky fried." "Can't Paint a Prettier Picture" picks up the pace Chuck Berry-style.

The album is a culmination of a lifetime dedicated to the craft of writing and playing roots and blues music that began when Gartland entered his teens. Seeing Muddy Waters in concert in his home state of Ohio at age 14 proved to be a life-changing experience, inspiring him to pick up the harmonica and begin his musical journey. After graduating college, Gartland immersed himself in the Chicago blues scene. He studied with famed harmonica player Jerry Portnoy (Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton) and played with such greats as Bo Diddley, Carey Bell, Big Jack Johnson and Pinetop Perkins. Gartland, in a press release, said has been deeply influenced by Little Walter for his harp playing, Ray Charles for his interpretation of a song and Willie Dixon for his songwriting.

Moving to Boston, Gartland became a key player in the Boston blues circuit. In 1998, he was a finalist in the Boston Blues Challenge Competition. He made frequent appearances at regional and national blues festivals, including the 2013 North Atlantic Blues Festival here in Rockland, Maine, as well as prestigious guest artist appearances with the top-tier musicians. Gartland embarked on his solo recording career with the release of his first album in 2011, "Looking Into the Sun," inspiring a Boston Globe writer to compare his vocals and "precision harp work" to Charles Musselwhite. Also in 2011, Gartland published an instructional book for the harmonica, entitled "The Talking Harmonica."

In the press release, Gartland said that if roots/blues music was going to stay relevant in today’s world, the songs had to tackle contemporary subjects, the problems of society today. "The blues is essentially a genre in which the musician is having a cathartic experience. If you write about themes that are meaningful to your experience, you will create something new," he said. Grade: B

Santana: In Search of Mona Lisa (Concord CD EP, 27:11). This mini-album, with two new songs in both long and edited versions and a new instrumental, was inspired by Carlos Santana's first visit to the Louvre during an day off in Paris. Santana was amazed at the line of people waiting to see the Mona Lisa and, when he finally got close enough to see the masterpiece, he writes in the EP liner notes, that he heard the painting in a female voice say, "Hi. Do you remember me, when we were lovers in another time?"

Santana goes on to write that while in Washington, D.C., Mona Lisa came to him in his dreams and gave him the lyrics for both songs on the EP, "Do You Remember Me" and "In Search of Mona Lisa." A few months later, working with producer Rick Rubin, Santana recorded 49 songs in 10 days, including "Do You Remember Me." The song runs nearly 10 minutes, with the first half all instrumental, including a long guitar solo introduction. The recording was done in one take, with no editing. The edited version of the song begins when Andy Vargas and Ray Greene's vocals begin.

"Lovers From Another Time" is a symphonic  version of the song, co-written with jazz fusion great Narada Michael  Walden and Consuelo Velazquez (it uses an interpolation of Velazquez's "Besame Mucho"). Walden plays drums, keyboards and does vocalizing on the track. Another jazz fusion legend, Ron Carter, plays bass, while Santana plays guitar, wife Cindy Blackman Santana plays drums and Justus Dobrin does the keyboard programming.

Walden also contributed to the writing of "In Search of Mona Lisa," the EP's other song, which is about half the length of "Do You Remember Me." Jeffrey Cohen was the third songwriting contributor. Here, the lead vocal is by Cornell "CC" Carter. The edited version trims about a minute from the song.

Santana's next album, "Africa Speaks," will be released by Concord Records on June 7. The 11 songs are taken from the sessions with producer Rubin and feature the vocals of Afro-Latin singer Buika. Grade: A-

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