Top 5: My Time

I have been on the road lately, and haven’t always had easy web access for posting to this blog, although I see the post I put together yesterday that I thought had been lost in a computer crash actually made it onto the blog, so that’s good news. I have been listening to plenty of music with my travels, and here are five of the best CDs from the trip:

Rumours (Expanded Edition)/Fleetwood Mac. You might think Rumours has pretty much lost its ability to surprise after nearly 28 years, but you’d be wrong. The remastered version of the original album sounds far better than earlier versions, and I noticed some touches here and there I’d never heard before. The accompanying disc of alternate versions, most of which use the vocal tracks heard on the official takes, is nothing spectacular, although there is a longer version of “You Make Lovin’ Fun” with more of that classic riff, a breathtaking instrumental version of “Never Going Back Again” under its original title, “Brushes,” and a full-group version of “Songbird,” which appears on the original album with Christine solo on piano. (Rumours is one of three classic Mac albums reissued earlier this year in expanded editions, along with Tusk and the white Fleetwood Mac album.)

About Time/Steve Winwood, 2003. This is one of the best new albums I’ve heard in years. Winwood relies more heavily than ever on the organ (as opposed to the other electronic keyboards that dominate his other solo albums), and as a result, some of the grooves are pretty deep. Essential tracks: “Different Light,” “Why Can’t We Live Together” (a remake of the 1972 Timmy Thomas original). About Time made for a nice double-play alongside . . .

Closer to It/Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, 1973. Auger isn’t the soulful singer Winwood is, but this is one damn funky record, too, a great merger of jazz and rock, heavy on the electric piano. Essential tracks: “Happiness Is Just Around the Bend,” “Compared to What.”

Sports/Huey Lewis and the News, 1983. I hadn’t listened to this in years, and it’s starting to sound a little bit dated. Nobody really needs to hear “I Want a New Drug” or “If This Is It” again, and even “The Heart of Rock and Roll” (recently crowned by VH1 as one of the “most awesomely bad records” ever) is starting to sound like a parent’s idea of what kids think is cool, but the fun the group is having on the record remains audible. Essential tracks: “Heart and Soul,” “You Crack Me Up.”

My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology/Boz Scaggs, 1997. I had owned Silk Degrees for years when this came out, and I wanted it for stuff of similar vintage like “Breakdown Dead Ahead” and “Hard Times.” But I was completely blown away by the stuff from both earlier and later years that I’d never heard before. The end result is that my copy of My Time has been rendered mostly superfluous because I’ve since picked up the original albums. Essential tracks: Damn, how can I pick? How about “Sierra” from Some Change, and “Loan Me a Dime,” because some people think it’s one of the greatest records ever made?

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