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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Smokey Robinson, Ace Frehley,Wiz Khalifa and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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Smokey Robinson

"Smokey & Friends"



Having Smokey Robinson sing his songs with other people isn't necessarily better than the original, but it's certainly a fine 'n' fresh way to hear these Motown standards. There's plenty of reverence but also subtle reinvention on this 11-song set, the latter heard tracks such as the Memphis-flavored take of "You Really Got a Hold on Me" with Aerosmith's characteristically emotive Steven Tyler, the buoyant and bouncy rendition of "The Way You Do (The Things You Do)" with Cee-Lo Green, the swampy delivery of "Ain't That Peculiar" with James Taylor and the contemporized romp through "Get Ready" with British singer Gary Barlow. A Hammond organ opening lends a light gospel flavor to "The Tracks of My Tears" with Elton John, while Robinson takes an advisedly light approach alongside Mary J. Blige's powerhouse delivery of "Being With You." And he, Miguel, Aloe Blacc and *NSYNC's JC Chasez sound like they're singing "My Girl" on a Detroit street corner. All of the collaborations work well, in fact; the album stumbled only on a handful of spoken tributes that precede tracks by John Legend, Ledisi and Jesse J. Their words are unnecessary; it's all, as Berry Gordy Jr. used to say, in the grooves.

New & Noteworthy:

Ace Frehley, "Space Invader" (eOne): The former Kiss guitarist's first new solo album in five years features a cover of the Steve Miller Band's "The Joker."

Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, etc. "Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited" (Sony Masterworks): An all-star Americana collective, produced by Rochester Adams graduate Joe Henry, pays homage to Cash's controversial 1964 album "Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian."

Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, "Secret Evil" (Instant): The dazzling and eclectic full-length debut from the Detroit songstress finally emerges after a couple of dramatic changes in her business operations.

Dr. John, "Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch" (Concord): The New Orleans icon pays tribute to Louis Armstrong with help from Bonnie Raitt, Arturo Sandoval, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, the Blind Boys of Alabama and more.

Wiz Khalifa, "Blacc Hollywood" (Rostrum/Atlantic): The pot-promoting Pittsburgh-born rapper's fifth album features collaborations with Nicki Minaj, Juicy J, Ty Dolla Sign and others.

King 810, "Memoirs of a Murderer" (Roadrunner): This Flint quartet offers a fresh take on heavy rock via this ambitious and provocative concept album.

Also Out: Accept, "Blind Rage" (Nuclear Blast); Cyrille Aimee, "It's a Good Day" (Mack Avenue); Liam Bailey, "Definitely Now" (Flying Buddha); Bahamas, "Bahamas is Afie" (Brushfire); Elvin Bishop, "Can't Even Do Wrong Right" (Alligator); Benjamin Booker, "Benjamin Booker" (ATO); Buckcherry, "F#CK" EP (F-Bomb); Rocco DeLuca, "Rocco DeLuca" (429); Dirty Loops, "Loopified" (Verve); Colton Dixon, "Anchor" (CMG/Sparrow); Dragonforce, "Maximum Overload" (Metal Blade); Ruthie Foster, "Promise of Brand New Day" (Blue Corn Music); Otis Gibbs, "Souvenirs of a MIsspent Youth" (Wanamaker); Bebel Gilberto, "Tudo" (Portrait); Grinder Blues, "Grinder Blues" (Megaforce); Justin Hayward, "Spirits...Live" (Eagle Rock); Kyle Hollingsworth, "Speed of LIfe" (self-released); Mud Morganfield and Kim Wilson, "For Pops (A Tribute to Muddy Waters)" (Severn); Neal Morse, "Songs From November" (Radiant); Israel Nash, "Rain Plans" (Loose/Thirty Tigers); David Poe, "God & the Girl" (Charming Martyr); Chase Rice, "Ignite the Night" (Jack Daniels/Columbia Nashville); Caroline Rose, "I Will Not Be Afraid" (Little Hi!/Thirty Tigers); Sugar Ray & the Blue Tones, "Living Tear to Tear" (Severn); Paul Thorn, "Too Blessed To Be Stressed" (Perpetual Obscurity/Thirty Tigers); Randy Travis, "Influence 2: The Man I Am" (Warner Bros.); Various Artists, "Nashville Outlaws -- A Tribute to Motley Crue" (Big Machine/Motley Records/Eleven Seven Music); The Villains, "A Little Something For the Pain" (self-released);

From The Vaults: Bogart & Appice, "Friends" (Cleopatra); Cactus, "An Evening in Tokyo" (Cleopatra);" Grateful Dead, "Dave's Picks: Volume 11 -- Wichita, KS -- November 17, 1972 (Deadnet/Rhiino); The Kinks, "Lola Verses Powerman & the Moneyground, Part One (Deluxe Edition) (Sanctuary)"; Zephyr, "Zephyr" (Cleopatra)

New Music DVDs: Justin Hayward, "Spirits...LIve -- LIve at the Buckhead Theater, Atlanta" (Eagle Rock)

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