Thanks to our friends at Legacy for keeping us in the loop on their continually exciting series of reissues. Here are the ones that caught our attention in the last couple months:
The packaging isn’t exactly lavish on this set, nor is there any unreleased material to be found, but it does exactly what it says – every note Cohen ever released on an LP is found here, including eight discs of live material. Having all of Cohen’s work in one place is a nice thing; those who have known his work primarily through best-of collections can trace his development from album to album and find the deeper cuts that deserve to be counted among his best. While his later studio albums are not necessarily his most crucial, they’re all good, each one containing something unexpected. The thrills keep coming right up through the Live In London set from 2009, which features a striking version of “If It Be Your Will” sung by the Webb Sisters that’s as strong as anything from his prime years. You could spring for the cheaper and more widely available Complete Studio Albums Collection, but in truth, the live performances of his biggest numbers are often preferable to their cleaner, sparser studio versions, so spring for the big one if you’re going for it.
Profile was one of the big players in the first decade of hip-hop, putting out Run-DMC’s first four albums, and introducing acts like Rob Base and DJ EZ-Rock, DJ Quik, Dana Dane, and Onyx to the world. This 2-disc collection is an instant rewind to rap’s early heyday, and a potent reminder of the power a small-time operation could wield during that time if it had its ears in the right place. While the big hits – “It Takes Two”, “Born And Raised In Compton” and the inescapable “Walk This Way” – are fun, there are also some weird and funky tracks from names largely forgotten by time, including Pumpkin’s “Here Comes That Beat” and Pebblee-Poo’s “Fly Guy”. If you count yourself a friend of the Old School, this is essential listening.
These live tapes by Miles’ “second great quintet” show him having arrived at a point of departure. Davis is still a year away from the revolution of his electric band and the system shock that was Bitches’ Brew, but the musical shift is already underway. Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter would each go on to become a headline name of the fusion era, and you can hear them in the first days of this music’s existence, before anyone’s plugged in. The four concerts presented have nearly identical set lists, but they’re four distinct albums, each with its own personality. The heads on these songs offer a brief moment of unison band playing, then slip away into lengthy improvisations pivoting on Williams’ unstoppable groove.