On 2nd October 2017, Tom Petty died following a heart attack. His unexpected passing marked one of the blackest days of the year, since Tom always felt like someone who would always be there and always be part of life’s fabric. The fact that he left behind a marvellous body of work – most of which never seems to age – means that in some way, he’ll always be a part of millions of lives, but the idea that we’ll never hear a new Tom Petty album is very hard to comprehend, especially so soon after critically acclaimed works like ‘Hypnotic Eye’ and ‘Nobody’s Child.
Those last records featured tracks that were potentially as solid as anything Petty had ever recorded, lending weight to the fact that he was one of the finest and arguably most consistent songwriters of his generation.
Hüsker Dü were the ultimate power trio. From hardcore punk beginnings, the band pioneered alternative rock sounds which eventually blended distinctly US punk noise with a more thoughtful singer-songwriter approach, which in turn paved the way for guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould’s solo career. Contrasting Mould’s abrasive approach, drummer/vocalist Grant Hart later wrote songs with a more palatable quality. Hart – a truly underappreciated songwriter – captured raw and emo-ish beauty on tunes like ‘Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely’ and ‘Every Everything’; tunes that were pivotal to the Hüskers’ balance between sheer force and a cerebral approach to punk.
On September 3rd 2017, it was announced that the legendary Walter Becker had passed away.
The multi-instrumentalist and record producer will always be best known as an integral part of westcoast rock/jazz-rock trailblazers Steely Dan. Taking in various elements of rock pop and jazz, brought to life in the studio and in the live setting by a crack team of session players – including Michael McDonald, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Toto’s Steve Lukather and countless others – few had equalled the perfectionist sound of Steely Dan.
From the beginning of his career in the late 70s through to his peak in popularity at the turn of the 90s, Chris Rea was a very prolific artist. In a thirteen year stretch, he released eleven albums. In the twenty first century, the very idea that a band or artist could average almost one album per year for so long is almost an alien concept.
Given Chris’s popularity – especially in Germany – it’s strange how these albums have been overlooked with regards to expanded reissue. However, each one – barring 1978’s ‘Whatever Happened To Benny Santini?’, which spent years in an out of print limbo – is still only available in the same CD pressing made in the late 80s.
On this day in 1995, Grateful Dead bandleader Jerry Garcia passed away. His legacy remains as strong as ever and Dead fans across the globe still hold the band’s work in very high regard. Despite some top quality studio albums, it was always in the live setting when Jerry and the band really became something special.
Like most bands with long careers, of course, the Dead didn’t always get it right. They’d sometimes get it spectacularly wrong (as was the case with a late 80s show with Stephen Stills). With Grateful Dead’s official live releases now numbering several dozen and hundreds of bootlegs still in circulation, the world of Dead live recordings can be a minefield.