Enuff Z’Nuff have never been shy of digging up old recordings in the name of a new release. The band began their “patchwork” approach to making albums as far back as 1996 when their sixth release ‘Peach Fuzz’ was constructed from material that wasn’t considered suitable for their 1994 album ‘Tweaked’ and then fleshed out with a couple of b-sides from 1991. In the case of that album, the old-for-new approach could be easily forgiven, since all of the material was first rate. ‘Peach Fuzz’, against the odds, rivals 1991’s ‘Strength’ as EZ’N’s finest hour.
Formed from the ashes of Dada, a huge jazz/blues rock band featuring guitarist Pete Gage, vocalist Elkie Brooks and (latterly) Robert Palmer, Vinegar Joe rode on the coattails of the British blues movement, releasing three albums in the early 70s. Over the years, their recordings haven’t been the easiest to track down, despite Lemon Records reissuing ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Gypsies’ (1972) and ‘Six Star General’ (1973) on CD in 2003, before giving the 1972 debut the same loving treatment somewhat belatedly in 2008. Bringing the Vinegar Joe legacy back to the masses once again, ‘Finer Things: The Island Recordings (1972-1973)’ rounds up absolutely everything the short-lived band ever recorded in the studio and issues it in one place for the first time. Although they never recorded what you’d call “a perfect album” they came pretty close on two occasions, and this set shows off a great band, even though the studio recordings supposedly never captured the fire of their live shows. There are enough great tracks scattered throughout the three discs to potentially attract a new generation of fans.
Of all of Black Sabbath’s Ozzy era albums, ‘Technical Ecstasy’ is arguably the LP that splits fan opinion the most. It doesn’t contain any hits. It doesn’t even feature anything that could be considered classic. It often gets overlooked, sandwiched between 1976’s ‘Sabotage’ – a release with some very vocal champions – and 1979’s ‘Never Say Die’, an inventive work that really saw the band beginning to stretch out.
‘Technical Ecstasy’ has always deserved a place in the world purely for the brilliant ‘Back Street Kids’ and the live favourite ‘Dirty Women’ (or as Ozzy was heard to say on the ‘Reunion’ live disc, “Doooorty Wimmin”!). It’s an album that’s overdue a reappraisal.
As a contrast to the ‘Progessive Pop Sounds’ sets from Cherry Red Records subsidary label, Grapefruit, this anthology from sister outlet Esoteric opts for something far more rock oriented, and although the four disc delve into 1970 doesn’t necessary dig too deep for obscurities, it still plays very well as a compilation in its own right. In a little over four hours, it serves up nostalgia, unfamiliar curiosities and enough genuine classics to give a solid overview of the year’s prog-leaning and guitar heavy sounds.
Joni Mitchell’s fourth album, ‘Blue’, celebrates its half century this week. Considered one of Joni’s most essential works, the songs helped usher in an era of confessional song writing, and tracks like ‘River’ (as covered by Heart, Linda Ronstadt, and more recently Sam Smith) and ‘A Case of You’ (later covered by Tori Amos and Prince) are considered classics.