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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: New Basement Tapes, One Direction, NIckelback, The Hunger Games and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

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The New Basement Tapes

"Lost in the River"

(Electromagnetic Recordings/Harvest)

Grade: A-

If Bob Dylan's recent release of his complete "Basement Tapes" sessions wasn't enough, how about the songs that never even made it into the studio? "Lost in the River" is the brainchild of Grammy and Academy Award-winning producer T Bone Burnett, who was presented with a stack of Dylan handwritten lyrics circa 1967, just before Dylan began doing some recording with his touring group, which would go on to become The Band. Burnett assembled an all-star ad hoc group -- Elvis Costello, Mumford & Sons' Marcus Mumford, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Carolina Chocolate Drops' Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith -- to set the words to music, resulting in a fascinating 20-song set that's a sprawling but satisfying representation of the many ways Dylan can be interpreted. There are plenty of gems -- James' vibey "Down on the Bottom" and Motowny "Nothing to It," Costello's Burt Bacharach-flavored "Golden Tom -- Silver Judas," Giddens' bluesgrassy "Duncan and Jimmy" and Goldsmith's wry "Card Shark" among them. "Lost in the River" also juxtaposes versions of the same songs, setting up James' smoky "Hidee Hidee Ho #11" alongside Costello and Giddens' more ambient "#16" and separate renditions of the title track by Costello and the duo of Giddens and Mumford's that both lock into the gospel implications of the lyrics, the latter in a bit more ambient style. Word is that Burnett and his august company came up with more than 60 recordings during their sessions, so it's possible -- and here's hoping -- that it becomes a gift that keeps giving, not unlike the "old" "Basement Tapes."

New & Noteworthy:

Bryan Ferry, "Avonmore" (BMG): The Roxy Music singer returns to his particular brand of pop with help from Johnny Marr, Chic's Nile Rogers, Mark Knopfler, Ronnie Spector and others, plus Norwegian DJ Todd Terje for a revamped version of Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary."

Nickelback, "No Fixed Address" (Republic): The Canadian quartet surprised folks with the politically themed first single "Edge of a Revolution," but the rest of the album has a more familiar hard rock/high livin' tenor.

One Direction, "Four" (Syco/Columbia): The British boy band's fourth (d'uh!) album includes another song contribution by pal Ed Sheeran ("18") and plenty of writing credits for the five band members.

Thompson Family, "Family" (Fantasy): The whole clan, including Richard, Linda, Teddy and Kami, contribute tracks -- most separately -- to this 10-song demonstration of collective familial talent.

Various Artists, "The Art of McCartney" (Arctic Poppy): A tribute album that was a decade in the making, but worth waiting for given a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guest list that includes Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Smokey Robinson, Brian Wilson, the Cure, the Who's Roger Daltrey and plenty of other A-listers.

Various Artists, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1" (Republic): Hot newcomer Lorde curated this 14-song companion to the hot fall film, with two of her own tracks (plus a remix of one by Kanye West) and contributions from Chvrches, Tove Lo, Major Lazer with Ariana Grande, Charlii XCX with Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon and more.

Also Out: Bloodbath, "Grand Morbid Funeral" (Peaceville); The Buzzcocks, "The Way" (1-2-3-4 GO!); Kristen Chenoweth, "Coming Home" (Concord); Depeche Mode, "Live in Berlin" (Columbia); Fred Hammond, "I Will Trust" (RCA Inspiration); Il Divo, "A Musical Affair: Live in Japan" (Columbia); In This Moment, "Black Widow" (Atlantic); Lucero, "Aqui Estoy" (UMe); Manchester Orchestra, "Hope" (Concord); Monster Magnet, "Milking The Stars" (Napalm); Ariel Pink, "Pom Pom" (4AD); P.O.D., "SoCal Session" (T-Boy/UMe); Queen Esther, "The Other Side" (EL Recordings); Saxon, "Warriors of the Road: The Saxo Chronicles Part II" (UDR); Shae, "Can You Feel the Music" (Tarpan); Robert Wyatt, "Different Every Time" (Domino)

From The Vaults: David Bowie, "Nothing Has Changed" (Columbia/Legacy; Gentle Giant, "Live in the Bicentennial" (Alucard); Johnny Mathis, "The Complete Albums Collection (Legacy)"; Old 97's, "Hitchhike To Rhome: 20th Anniversary Edition" (Omnivore); Peter, Paul & Mary, "Discovered: Live in Concert" (Rhino); Queen, "Forever" (Hollywood); Rolling Stones, "L.A. Forum (Live in 1975)" (Eagle Rock); Bruce Springsteen, "The Album Collection Vol. 1 1973-1984" (Columbia/Legacy); Wilco, "What's Your 20? Essential Tracks 1994-2014" (Nonesuch) and "Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014" (Nonesuch); Trisha Yearwood, "PrizeFighter: Hit After Hit" (Gwendolyn/RCA Nashville)

Soundtracks: Alexandre Desplat, "The Imitation Game" (Sony Classics); Various Artists, "Go Wild"

New Music DVDs: Depeche Mode, "Live in Berlin" (Columbia)

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