Even with the overwhelming trend to download, there’s always anticipation over the big CD box sets that come out in the fall. If you enjoy knowing that a square package under the Christmas tree holds unreleased gems of your favorite artist, you might be pleased to hear that there are two excellent releases that came out this summer, plus a slim single compilation worth investigating.
CHUCK BERRY: “You Never Can Tell: His Complete Chess Recordings 1960-1966″ (Hip-O Select)
More than just another greatest hits collection, this features cool live performances from the ’60′s including on-stage stand up comedy and wild crowds, alternate takes of classics and a 14-minute jam session with Bo Diddley. If the CSI TV shows ever did a DNA test of rock and roll, they’d find Chuck’s.
WOODY GUTHRIE: “My Dusty Road” (Rounder Records)
Another American music legend. Inspiration for every singer/songwriter, Woody’s music is so familiar you think of many of his songs as national anthems. How can there be anything new worth listening to? Imagine finding master recordings on metal plates stored in a New York basement, some never heard by anyone other than the recording engineer. Add modern technology used lovingly to transfer to CD, and it makes for quite an experience. The voice separated from the guitar, it sounds like Woody is singing sitting next to you on the couch. Also comes in a reproduction of an old suitcase with handwritten postcards. Incredible.
CROSBY, STILL & NASH: “Demos” (Rhino)
Not in the same category as the two above but worth a listen if you want to get an inside peek at the creative process that took place some 40 years ago when these three got together and formed a supergroup. Hearing the acoustic versions of songs that became hippie soundtracks does rekindle some of the original magic. There’s a few that understandably never made it past the demo stage too.