Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues dies

Ray Thomas, a founding member of the Moody Blues, has died at age 76. The singer, songwriter and flute player "passed away suddenly" at his home in England, his label said. Thomas' compositions for the group included "Dear Diary," "Legend of a Mind," "Eternity Road," "And the Tide Rushes In," "Dr. Livingstone, I Presume" and "For My Lady." Thomas and the rest of the Moody Blues are to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. He retired from the group in 2002 due to health issues. Moody Blues bass player John Lodge tweeted Sunday: "Ray and I have been on this magical journey through life together since we were 14 ... two young kids from Birmingham who reached for the stars ... and we made it together." Thomas and keyboardist Mike Pinder formed the Moody Blues … [Read more...]

Country Joe, Procol Harum boxes in Q1’s stash

The year 2018 starts off with a bang for psychedelic music lovers, with carefully crafted archival releases on the horizon from Country Joe and the Fish, Jimi Hendrix, Procol Harum and Todd Rundgren. Other psychedelic/1960s product set for the year's first quarter includes vintage works from Spirit, Ultimate Spinach, Hawkwind and Moondog. Country Joe and the Fish weren't exactly one-hit wonders, but it's fair to say they never revisited the highs of their groundbreaking debut album -- a stunning and seminal slab of psychedelic rock. "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" received a splendid and much-needed reissue on CD mid-decade. Now comes a box set chronicling the band's breakout year of 1967. The four LP "The Wave of Electrical Sound" includes both mono and stereo versions of … [Read more...]

Hendrix hot in 2018: New ‘Sky’ set, 2 SACDs

The final chapter of what's being called a Jimi Hendrix unreleased-track trilogy lands March 9. "Both Sides of the Sky" features 10 recordings that the Hendrix estate says have never been released, along with three others. Later in the year come the highly anticipated rereleases of the Jimi Hendrix Experience's first two studio albums -- "Are You Experienced" and "Axis: Bold as Love" -- on the audiophile SACD format. "Axis" also will see a limited release on the Ultra High Quality Record vinyl format. Those rereleases will be remastered by Bernie Grundman "from the original analog master tapes" via Analogue Productions. "Both Sides of the Sky" follows the Hendrix estate's albums "Valleys of Neptune" (2010) and "People, Hell and Angels" (2013). Both of those collections of … [Read more...]

Christmas list: Beatles, Stones, Doors, Moodies

It's December: The rotund fellow in cranberry red prepares to make his rounds, sled laden with gifts. That psychedelic gleam in his eyes reflects the age-old mystery of just what's in that pipe he tokes. Fortunately, we know what's in the pipeline for fans of psychedelic music. Read on for a list of box sets and expanded editions with release dates in the year's final quarter. All titles have that something special -- no bare-bones CDs here -- every one perfect for gifting or just grabbing. The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" got a new coat of aural paint midyear with Giles Martin's controversial remix of the classic psychedelic music album. The expanded CD versions included well-received alternate takes and assorted studio bits. Now comes a straightforward vinyl … [Read more...]

RSD Black Friday: USA, Tangerine Dream, Zappa

Record Store Day: Black Friday returns with a salute to the United States of America, a serving of Tangerine Dream and psychedelic musings from Frank Zappa, Procol Harum, the Doors and the Dead. Also on the psychedelic/'60s menu are reheated treats from the Byrds, Jerry Garcia, Sun Ra and ... Mr. Spock. Releases are on vinyl and are "Record Store Day exclusives" unless noted. Shopping begins at your local indie bright and (too) early Nov. 24. The United States of America oscillated its way to minor-league fame in the psychedelic year of 1968 -- then promptly broke up. The lone self-titled album was produced by David Rubinson. Featuring no guitar and heavy on experimental sounds, Joe Byrd's group drew on classical and vintage America genres. The brew came spiked with a dose of … [Read more...]

Moody Blues on threshold of Rock Hall

Psychedelic classicists the Moody Blues have made the short list for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is the first nomination for the long-running English band, first eligible for the Hall way back in 1989. The Rock Hall's lack of recognition for the Moody Blues had long been perceived as a snub similar to those of leading progressive rock acts Yes (inducted in 2017) and King Crimson. Also making the list for 2018 were the Zombies, whose "Odessey and Oracle" is considered a landmark album of the psychedelic music era. This is the third nomination for that British band, best known for the hits "She's Not There," "Tell Her No" and "Time of the Season." Update: The Moody Blues made the cut and will be honored in April. The Zombies did not. /update. Other acts of interest among … [Read more...]

Criterion preps restored ‘Monterey Pop’ set

D.A. Pennebaker's "Monterey Pop" gets a second encore in the Criterion Collection come December -- this time featuring a new 4k restoration. Janus Films' upgraded version of "Monterey Pop" premiered in cinemas last June as part of the seminal music festival's 50th anniversary. The new Criterion discs are set for a Dec. 12 release. The Criterion Collection first gave "Monterey Pop" its due back in 2006 with a carefully crafted DVD box set. Then, the connoisseur label returned to "Monterey" in 2009 with a Blu-ray featuring high definition video and surround sound. The latest version -- again, "The Complete Monterey Pop Festival" -- comes as a "collector's set" with two discs of the documentary film and extras, as well as another disc with the companion concerts "Jimi Plays … [Read more...]

Dead & Co., King Crimson fall in for tours

The golden road continues to woo Dead & Company. The Grateful Dead spinoff band announced a 15-concert extension of its 2017 touring activity, beginning with a two-night stand at Madison Square Garden in New York. Other major cities include Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas and New Orleans. And more tour stops are set for Austin, Philadelphia, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, King Crimson's big band returns to the road, with a 22-date fall adventure that stretches from Austin on Oct. 19 to Milwaukee on Nov. 26. Other major ports of call include Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Cleveland. King Crimson spent June and July on the road with its rapturously received "Radical Action" concerts featuring a trio of stage-front … [Read more...]

Can bassist Holger Czukay dies; sonic pioneer

German avant-garde musician Holger Czukay, best known for his work with the German band Can, has died. He was 79. Czukay, who studied for several years with composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, co-founded Can in 1968 after finding inspiration in the psychedelic music of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, as well as the experimental recordings of Frank Zappa. Can's music, often improvised and far from commercial, cast a vast influence over adventurous bands from the 1970s to the present day. Its music has been widely sampled and featured in movies big and small. Czukay also engineered most of Can's important recordings, notably "Tago Mago" and "Ege Bamyasi." Can's "Vitamin C" is perhaps its most enduring song, dominated by Czukay's bass and Jaki Liebezeit's drums. It figured prominently in … [Read more...]

Live Yardbirds tracks coming home to roost

No bull: The long-lost Yardbirds live recording of 1968 is making a comeback. Due Nov. 5, "Yardbirds '68" contains the Anderson Theatre recordings of late March 1968. That NYC set -- complete with bogus audience cheers reputedly taken from bullfights -- was released in 1971 as "Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page" and later withdrawn after protests from group members. "Yardbirds '68" also contains eight "studio sketches" tracks from the period. The new 18-track album was produced by Jimmy Page. The mastering is credited to John Davis, who worked with Page on the Led Zeppelin remasters of several years back. The Anderson Theatre songs are highlighted by "Dazed and Confused" -- the famed psychedelic Led Zeppelin track developed while Page was a Yardbird -- as well as his guitar … [Read more...]

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