In what may be the best week all year for classic rock releases, we’ve got new music from the Beach Boys, Neil Young and Joe Walsh, as well as reissues from Heart, Paul Simon and David Bowie, and the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine animated movie on DVD.
Let’s jump right into June’s new releases.
To celebrate the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary, all surviving members of “America’s band” reunited not just for a big summer tour, but a new album titled That’s Why God Made The Radio. The group welcomed back Brian Wilson with open arms, utilizing his uncanny talent for harmony arrangement on every song on the record. The album’s joyful title track and lead single “That’s Why God Made The Radio” is nestled among youthful tracks about, but of course, surfing, sunshine and cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway.
Neil Young’s latest, Americana, also takes a look back at simpler times – way, way back. Reuniting with Crazy Horse as his backing band, Young reimagines patriotic folk standards most learned in grade school – like “This Land Is Your Land” and “Clementine” – as feedback-laden jam sessions. Watch the video for the album’s lead single, a rip-roaring take on “Oh Susannah.”
Eagles and James Gang guitarist Joe Walsh returns with his first solo album in 20 years this week, and boy does he have some opinions on the world since we last heard from him on 1992’s Songs for a Dying Planet. Titled Analog Man, Walsh shells out his signature brand of smart-ass wisdom, bemoaning technology that he doesn’t quite understand on the album’s stellar title track.
But it’s not all fodder for the digital age: Walsh revisits two of his most iconic songs, “Life’s Been Good” and the James Gang’s “Funk #49,” essentially writing sequels to both in the form of “Lucky That Way” and “Funk #50.”
For the album, Walsh paired with ELO frontman, producer Jeff Lynne, whose style pairs nicely with Walsh’s signature guitar styling. Walsh’s brother-in-law, a drummer you may have heard of by the name of Ringo Starr, also makes an appearance.
Leading this week’s reissues is Paul Simon, whose game-changing 1986 album Graceland gets a number of different “deluxe” box set editions in celebration of its 25th anniversary (despite the fact that actually turns 26 in August). Included in these is the insightful documentary Under African Skies, which revisits the album’s curious and controversial composition in South Africa.
On Heart’s 56-song box set, titled Strange Euphoria, Ann and Nancy Wilson present hits like “Barracuda” and “Magic Man” in live and demo versions, as well as a few solo tracks and selections from their Lovemongers side project.
It’s not exactly a greatest hits compilation (of which several already exist), but rather, a deep look at Heart’s history from even before the release of 1976’s Dreamboat Annie. There’s even a bonus disc of five Led Zeppelin covers including “Going to California” and “Immigrant Song,” available to fans who purchase the box set on Amazon.
David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars gets a remastered reissue this week as well, as the landmark album featuring “Five Years” and “Starman” celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Instead of a big box set featuring demos, the Ziggy Stardust reissue is instead offered a la carte on a number of formats (CD, high-quality vinyl, and an audio-only DVD, which admittedly does include a few previously unreleased mixes).
And finally, the Beatles 1968 trippy animated feature Yellow Submarine gets the digital treatment this week, released on DVD and Blu-Ray with extra footage.
– Jillian Mapes, CBS Local