Magic Carpet Ride (06/18/99)
Tara Nevins, Mule to Ride (Sugar Hill Records 1999) - Fiddle player Tara Nevins has been performing professionally for nearly 20 years. Mule to Ride is the first album in her own name, and shows Tara working in the fields of old-time country and blue grass.
Tara has played for the last eleven years with her current band, the genre-busting and popular festival draw, Donna the Buffalo. Mule to Ride features a heavy dose of old-time fiddle playing and blue grass, with more than twenty guest artists, including Ralph Stanley, Mike Seeger and Dirk Powell (who have played with the Balfa Toujours).
The album shines on the three songs where Tara takes the microphone: "Sweet Sensations," "This Time," and "Daddy Said So." Tara has a warm and heartfelt voice, which leans towards a gentle country style.
Mule to Ride would have been a better solo bow if Tara had sung on more of the tracks. Enjoyable, but not fully satisfying.
Tina Arena, In Deep (Epic 1999) - In Deep is the third album from Australian singer and actress, Tina Arena. In Deep finds Tina working with producer Mick Jones (from Foreigner) for satisfying results--lush productions and big vocals.
Tina first stepped into the spotlight on the popular Australian television show, "Young Talent Time." A child star by the age of eight (known as "Tiny Tina"), she virtually grew up in the public eye, spending seven years on the show.
After leaving television, Tina took a break before returning with her debut album, Don't Ask. Don't Ask stands as the biggest-selling album by a female artist in Australian history, and led to her award as Female Artist of the Year.
In Deep finds Tina Arena drawing on her own style and life experiences to create a work that is both personal and accessible. Explains Tina, "As an artist, there are times of absolute jubilation and there are times of the deepest, deepest depression. You feel such extreme emotions."
Five of the twelve tracks on In Deep were produced by Mick Jones, including the album's stronger numbers: "Burn," "I Want To Live With You," and "I Want To Know What Love Is." Tina also reunites with Don't Ask producer Dave Tyson for four songs, and teams with Meat Loaf partner Jim Steinman for one track, "I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You."
Tina Arena is being groomed for pop diva status. Give a listen to this newcomer on her way up.
Steppenwolf, Best of: Millennium Collection (MCA 1999) - Late 60's rockers Steppenwolf (the name comes from a album by Hermann Hesse) stand as rock classics. While their reference to "Heavy Metal Thunder" defined an entire genre, Steppenwolf itself embraced blues, hard rock, and psychedelia all delivered with a sense of political awareness.
Millennium Collection features 10 tracks from the group's 1968-1972 heyday. (Leader John Kay has performed for many years under the Steppenwolf name, although the original band broke up more than 25 years ago.) In addition to John Kay, the bank included Jerry Edmonton on drums, Goldy McJohn on keyboards, Michael Monarch on lead guitar, and Rushton Moreve on bass.
Roaring from the soundtrack to Easy Rider, Steppenwolf hit the charts big-time with the classics "The Pusher" and "Born to Be Wild," which shot to No. 2 on the pop charts in 1968. Also included are the classics, "Magic Carpet Ride" (also featured in the new film Go!) and "Move Over," all recorded for the ABC-Dunhill label.
What's remarkable is how good these singles still are: "Born to Be Wild" and "Magic Carpet Ride" match up against anything released today, with their impeccably clear and strong mixes.
MCA is also releasing other Millennium Collections by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters. But we come here to sing the praise of Steppenwolf. Ten tracks, as rockin' as it gets. Check out these 60's stalwarts.
Kim Carnes, The Mistaken Identity Collection (Razor & Tie 1999) - Veteran folk-rock performer Kim Carnes broke through to the big time with her 1981 release, Mistaken Identity.
Produced by Val Garay, and recorded (incredibly) in a 13-day stretch from December 15-20, 1980, and January 6-12, 1981, the album spawned the No. 1 single, "Bette Davis Eyes," which won two Grammys for Record and Song of the Year, and spent 9 weeks at Billboard's No. 1 spot.
Kim Carnes' career started in the 60's performing with future husband Dave Ellingson in the New Christy Minstrels and as the duo Kim & Dave. Kim recorded first with A&M, landing a top-40 duet with Gene Cotton with "You're a Part of Me," before switching to EMI America as the label's first signed artist in 1979. Kim continues to perform today: last I heard, she lived in Tennessee.
Newly reissued, the Mistaken Identity Collection also features the terrific title track (in retrospect, maybe a better song than the No. 1 single) and "Break the Rules Tonight."
Kim writes about "Bette Davis Eyes," her biggest hit: "I heard this song about a year before I finally cut it. My band, Val Garay and I rehearsed it for three days before coming up with the right feel. It was a completely collaborative effort between all of us. The next day we cut this track 'live' with no over-dubs and got it on the second take."
Also included are six bonus cuts no longer in print, including "Don't Fall in Love With a Dreamer," a duet with Kenny Rogers that peaked at No. 4 on the pop charts, and "Crazy in the Night (Barking at Airplanes)," a top-20 hit written in reaction to her son Colin's fear of the dark.
As the press kit says, "We'll be missing her no longer - this is all the Kim Carnes anyone could want, all on one CD." With her synth-pop productions and raspy voice, Kim Carnes made a strong musical statement with Mistaken Identity. Have fun again with this big seller.
- Randy Krbechek © 1999
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