U2 became international stars at Live Aid, the enormous global charity concert in the summer of 1985. Live Aid was a one-time event. There were no re-runs, and no Live Aid record. Now, finally, the whole marathon is being released on DVD. There might be one or two performances missing, but how much do you need? It's sure to be a big Christmas gift this year.
For jazz fans, Sony Legacy is releasing a career retrospective of the great saxophonist Wayne Shorter that serves as a reminder of what an important figure he is. I think we sometimes take Shorter for granted, and some of the jazz police still want to punish him for committing the sin of fusion - which is a load of nonsense. Through all his stylistic changes what has remained consistent is Shorter's talent, tone, and pure musical expressiveness.
As the leader of Creedence Clearwater Revivial, John Fogerty made seven classic albums and about 20 great singles in a fever of creativity in a very short period in the late sixties and early seventies. Since then he has done something very rare in show business - he only shows up when he has something to say. Fogerty takes as long as ten years between albums. When he comes out with one, it's always fresh and it's always welcome.
His new CD is called "Déja Vu All Over Again" and it's full pure, catchy rock' n 'roll songs that sound like they could have been written by Buddy Holly in the fifties or the Beatles in the sixties or John Fogerty at any moment since. His voice cuts through all the clutter on the airwaves like a cool breeze.
No voice in rock ever cut through the clutter better than John Lennon's. One of the nice new trends we're seeing lately is the CD release of the acoustic demo tapes songwriters make before they go into the studio to record an album. Usually these come as bonus tracks on CD reissues - Well, Capitol Records is doing them one better and releasing a whole CD of "John Lennon Acoustic."
When people talk about the Beatles they often forget that all their other accomplishments aside, those guys were just incredible singers, and Lennon's voice - whether he's doing a dead-on parody of Muddy Waters or ripping his skin off on "Cold Turkey" - was like nothing before or since. It's a real joy to have these acoustic performances.
A friend of mine once said that the British rocker Robyn Hitchcock made the albums we all wish John Lennon had lived to make. Now it's impossible to live up to a comparison like that, but Hitchcock is a real hidden treasure. His new CD, "Spooked," is an acoustic record, made in Nashville with the great Gillian Welch and David Rawlings singing and playing back-up.
Robyn Hitchcock is a great English eccentric; he can write a funny song about the moment when dinosaurs decided to mutate into birds and move into the trees - and then turn around and break your heart with a ballad of lost love.
Live Aid DVD: to be released November 9
Wayne Shorter: http://www.legacyrecordings.com/main.html
John Fogerty: Deja Vu All Over Again (released September 21): http://www.johnfogerty.com/
John Lennon Acoustic: to be released by Capitol Records
Robyn Hitchcock: "Spooked" to be released on October 5