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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: AWAKENING BEYOND

     Tina Turner has been a crucial piece of pop culture since the late ‘50s when she began working with Ike Turner. Throughout the ‘60s, she was an electrifying performer, touring around the world and recording hit records. Her career calmed down in the ‘70s but by 1984, when she released the album PRIVATE DANCER, she became the worldwide superstar that she was always meant to be.  By the dawn of the millennium, she stepped out of the limelight and has not released a full-fledged Pop or Soul album since 1999’s TWENTY FOUR SEVEN.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BLOODSHOT RECORDS’ 13 DAYS OF XMAS!

     I’m either the right guy to be writing a review of a ‘new’ Christmas release… or I’m the wrong guy. You see, I’m a connoisseur of Christmas music and I’m extremely picky about the holiday music that I listen to.  I don’t care who performs the song or in what style – I’m looking for the FEELING of the season in the song. And for someone who loves Christmas music, there’s very little that has tickled my fancy since the ‘70s. There are exceptions but my favorites tend to be random singles (XTC, Band Aid, Status Quo, etc.) and very few albums. Sure, I appreciate the attempts to create a new classic Christmas album but it is very obvious to me when it is merely a cash-grab by the artist or the label. Or almost as worse – when an artist is only interested in celebrating their own voice and not the holiday they sing so joyfully about. So, sadly, I now approach every Christmas album with trepidation and fear. And suddenly, Bloodshot Records’ 13 DAYS OF XMAS landed in my lap and I needed to take some anxiety medication before I could even listen to it….

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THE COUNTRY SIDE OF HARMONICA SAM: Introducing The Band

When one listens to contemporary Country Music these days, it bears little resemblance to the traditional sound that helped define the genre decades ago. When Hank Williams, Faron Young, Patsy ClineGeorge Jones and Johnny Cash sang, you could almost smell the beer-soaked wooden floorboards of the old honky tonks coming through your radio. Nowadays, when you listen to contemporary Country Music, all you can smell is the mall. For better or worse, Country Music has gone through many changes over the years and remains one of the most consistently popular – and profitable – genres of music in the U.S. However, while it has been pushed out of the limelight in the States, the traditional Country sound of the ’50s and ’60s remains hugely popular in Europe. Many iconic Country & Western artists that have long since been forgotten in their homeland are revered in countries they probably never set foot in. Ray Price, Marty Robbins, Don Gibson, Marvin Rainwater, Stonewall Jackson and Hank Snow are just a few of the pioneering artists that are seldom remembered by a generation of Americans who were born after the Urban Cowboy-inspired Country resurgence in the ’80s. We must now look to these European countries if we want deluxe reissues and box sets from these Trad Country acts, who seldom have more than a single disc ’hits’ collection available here in the U.S. of A.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BUFFY SAINT-MARIE/MEDICINE SONGS

When spinning  singer/songwriter Buffy Saint-Marie’s 2017 album MEDICINE SONGS, you’ll realize that the art of protest music is NOT dead – it was just waiting for Buffy to release a new album! Mixing her early stark, acoustic Folk roots with Native American rhythms and a contemporary sound, this is an album that demonstrates her ability to remain true to her roots while also moving forward as an artist.

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CHRIS SPEDDING/The RAK Years (4CD set) reviewed!

     Chris Spedding is a Rock ‘n’ Roll renaissance man. Ever since the British guitarist arrived on the music scene in the late ‘60s, he has been the personification of cool. He’s played (live and/or in the studio) with artists as varied as Sharks, Harry Nilsson, Roy Harper, Sixto Rodriquez, Roxy Music, John Cale, The Wombles and many others. His solo career started in 1970 but he didn’t make an impact until his fifth album, the self-titled debut album for the RAK Records label, was released in 1975. And that album is where the four CD set CHRIS SPEDDING: THE RAK YEARS begins. Containing his four albums for the label (including bonus tracks), this is an essential box set that will appeal to fans of Rock, Punk, Power Pop and most other guitar-fueled Rock genres.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BIG HEAD TODD & THE MONSTERS/NEW WORLD ARISIN’

In the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll, it is rare for a band to hit the 31-year mark with all original members intact. Big Head Todd & The Monsters is one of those rare beasts. Formed in Boulder, Colorado in 1986, Todd Park Mohr, Rob Squires and Brian Nevin (along with longtime member Jeremy Lawton, who joined the original trio in 2003) have achieved commercial and critical success, sold boatloads of albums, traveled the world and built up a huge, devoted following. And on their 2017 album NEW WORLD ARISIN’, they prove that they still have something to say.
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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE WAILIN’ JENNYS/FIFTEEN

 
From the haunting a capella opening track, “Old Churchyard,” you can tell that there’s something special happening on FIFTEEN, the fourth full length studio album from Canadian Folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys. Celebrating their 15th anniversary – hence the album’s title – the three hugely talented ladies that make up the band create a sound that is both intimate and spacious. Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Mass have recorded an album of covers that they have most definitely made their own. It is a delectable treat for the ears and the soul.
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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: EVEN A TREE CAN SHED TEARS

 

This compilation offers a fascinating peek into the Japanese Folk and Rock movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Though influenced by Western music, the music contained on EVEN A TREE CAN SHED TEARS: JAPANESE FOLK & ROCK 1969-1973 is undeniably infused with a deep connection to their very own Japanese culture.

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ERIC STEWART: An EXCLUSIVE interview with the former 10cc member and Rock icon!

A SILLY PHASE I’M GOING THROUGH:

     It is quite possible that you have something by Eric Stewart in your music collection at this very moment without even realizing it. Eric was a member of Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, eventually singing lead on their 1966 hit “Groovy Kind Of Love” after Fontana had left the fold. By 1969, with the Mindbenders in his rear view mirror, Stewart was recording backing tracks for Bubblegum hits at his Strawberry Studios facilities. His recording mates included hit songwriter Graham Gouldman and multi-instrumentalists Lol Creme and Kevin Godley. In 1970, Stewart, Creme and Godley released the surprise hit “Neanderthal Man” under the group name Hotlegs. Two years later, American singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka arrived in the UK in hopes of recording new material and making a comeback. His backing band featured Stewart, Gouldman, Godley and Creme. Sedaka and this quartet of talented musicians recorded two albums together, both directly responsible for the enormous success that Sedaka and 10cc would achieve within a few short years.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: ALBERT CASTIGLIA/UP ALL NIGHT

      While he may be classified as a Blues artist, Albert Castiglia will certainly appeal to more than just that genre’s enthusiasts. Fans of Alt-Country, Roots Rock and Americana will most certainly fall under the spell of Castiglia and his 2017 album UP ALL NIGHT, which hits stores on October 6. His name may not be familiar to some but he’s been raising the roof since 1990 when he joined Miami Blues Authority. Discovered six years later by Blues legend Junior Wells, Albert became his sideman until Wells’ death in 1998. Working as a sideman for a variety of other artists, Castiglia didn’t step into the solo spotlight until he released his debut album in 2004.

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