It is a powerhouse performance — and, sadly, not enough for most fans. But ‘‘Celebration Day’’ will have to do.
— Chris Talbott, AP Music Writer
Kiss ‘‘The Casablanca Singles 1974-1982’’ (Universal)
No act has been better at getting you to buy songs you already own in numerous formats than Kiss. With at least 18 greatest hits, compilation or box set albums on the market, here comes yet another one. Something in the neighborhood of $145 will get you this latest box set, a re-release of 29 U.S. Kiss singles, each on 45 rpm vinyl records (remember those?)
Box sets have two main selling points: previously unavailable music, and way-cool packaging. Because these singles have all been out there for decades, this box set’s appeal lies in its presentation. Weighing in at a hefty eight pounds, the set starts with the band’s very first single, ‘‘Nothin’ To Lose,’’ with the flip side ‘‘Love Theme From Kiss’’ from way back in 1974. All but three of the singles come with decorative foreign sleeves with elaborate artwork, and, in the case of the Japanese sleeves, hilarious mistranslations of lyrics. A line from ‘‘C'mon And Love Me’’ morphs from, ‘‘The lights are out’’ to ‘‘Your lives are out.’’ Even the misprints are faithfully preserved: Peter Criss’ solo single ‘‘You Matter To Me’’ appears as ‘‘You Still Matter To Me’’ on the label.
Far and away the coolest are the singles from each of the band’s solo albums, pressed in colored vinyl: red for Gene Simmons, purple for Paul Stanley, green for Criss and blue for Ace Frehley. Each of these four also comes with a cut-out Halloween-type mask of each member’s face in Kiss makeup, a throwback to the days when Kiss albums came loaded with swag.
Die-hard Kiss fans will probably want to pick this up — provided they still have turntables.
— Wayne Parry, Associated Press
Elvis Presley, ‘‘Prince From Another Planet’’ (RCA/Legacy)
When it comes to rock’s greatest star, it’s tempting to dismiss the 1970s as merely the Fat Elvis period. This two-CD, one-DVD collection disproves that notion.
The set pulls together previously released concerts in one package for the first time, capturing Presley during a three-day run at Madison Square Garden in 1972. Because it had been 15 years since he had performed in New York City, these concerts were important to him, and it shows. He’s in fine voice, fully committed to the material and supported by an excellent cast of musicians that includes guitarist James Burton, drummer Ronnie Tutt, bassist Jerry Scheff, horns, strings and backup singers.
Bruce Springsteen, George Harrison and David Bowie were among those attending the soldout shows, along with a gaggle of screaming girls, and there’s plenty of energy in the room from the start. Presley opens by taking ‘‘That’s All Right’’ at an exhilarating pace, and other oldies also sound new again. He scats on the bluesy ‘‘Reconsider Baby,’’ gives ‘‘Hound Dog’’ a fresh interpretation by tweaking the tempo, and generates his own wall of sound on ‘‘You've Lost That Lovin’ Feelin.'’’
There are too many Vegas-style endings, and the introductions of the supporting musicians are painful, especially when Presley can’t even be bothered with their last names. But on ‘‘Until It’s Time For You To Go,’’ when Elvis sings, ‘‘I'm not a king, just a man,’’ we know otherwise. ‘‘Prince From Another Planet’’ is a welcome reminder.
— Steven Wine, Associated Press
‘‘The Velvet Underground and Nico,’’ 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (Polydor)
Now we know how the kids in Columbus, Ohio, reacted when they first heard Lou Reed sing about sadomasochism in 1966.
Stunned silence. Pretty funny.
An early performance by the Velvet Underground and Nico at the Valleydale Ballroom in Columbus, of all places, is part of this six-CD set that exhaustively commemorates the Velvet’s first album. Few bought the record when it initially came out, but it has inspired countless rock bands with its songs about S&M, junkies, paranoia and ‘‘split didactics,’’ to quote one lyric. Even back then, Reed walked on the wild side. And while the subject matter no longer shocks, the dissonance, atonality and droning viola remain startling.
The set is packaged in a handsome coffee-table book that replicates the original banana cover designed by the band’s manager, Andy Warhol.
Included are remastered mono and stereo versions of the album, lots of outtakes, Nico’s justifiably obscure 1967 solo album ‘‘Chelsea Girl’’ and two CDs of the poorly recorded performance in Columbus. There’s serious risk of a Velvet Underground overdose, with six renditions of ‘‘Heroin’’ alone.Continued...