Arriving in two distinctly different fan-friendly editions, "Backtracks" spans the length and breadth of AC/DC's career, bringing together rare songs, hard-to-find live performances and the long-awaited debut of "Family Jewels Disc 3", a DVD showcasing the group's music videos, live performances, and promotional clips from 1992-2009. (The original double-disc "Family Jewels" was named 2005's "DVD of the Year" by the U.K.'s Classic Rock magazine while the RIAA certified the collection 10x platinum for sales in excess of 1 million copies in the U.S. alone.)
A versatile pianist who has worked with singers, symphony orchestras, and jazz groups, David Budway, also has worked with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts and Hubert Laws, in addition to recording several self-issued CDs prior to this Maxjazz release. With Watts and bassist Eric Revis as his rhythm section mates, Budway's session is filled with striking, thoughtful originals and well-conceived settings of familiar works. Marcus Strickland guests on soprano sax for his turbocharged "Japanese Brunch," which is marked by its tense post-bop rhythm and the leader's darting piano. Branford Marsalis is the soprano saxophonist for Budway's melancholy "Lonely Cane," a spacious ballad with an emotional impact.
Best known for his string of late-'80s MOR blues-pop hit singles, Middlesbrough's biggest musical export Chris Rea has spent the best part of the noughties reinventing himself as a Tom Waits-esque troubadour with a series of ambitious and often gargantuan-sized albums focusing on the vintage slide guitar blues sounds that influenced his hugely successful 30-year career. More up to date than 1994's The Best Of and more extensive than 2005's Heartbeats, Still So Far to Go is the husky-voiced guitarist's first hits collection to place as much emphasis on his later more revered and prolific output as his more familiar and commercial airplay staples…
Rick Derringer tried a variety of different things in the 1980s, '90s, and 2000s. The singer/guitarist recorded his share of middle of the road pop/rock and adult contemporary albums, and he even recorded an instrumental jazz-pop/smooth jazz album that had George Benson-ish leanings (2002's Free Ride). But Derringer, who turned 61 in 2008, has a way of going back to blues-rock and hard rock – which is exactly what he does on Knighted by the Blues. Granted, this 2009 release wasn't recorded with blues purists in mind; not everything on Knighted by the Blues adheres to the traditional 12-bar format. But the feeling of the blues is quite strong throughout this 51-minute CD; that feeling is as strong on Derringer's own songs as it is on enjoyable performances of Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 Was Nine" and Ray Charles' "Funny, I Still Love You."
In the mid-'50s, guitarist Tal Farlow led one of his finest groups, a drumless trio with pianist Eddie Costa and bassist Vinnie Burke. The same band would record the album Tal a week or two later. With Burke contributing a constant walking bass, the interplay between Farlow and Costa is always exciting, whether they are playing unisons or trading off. This 1999 CD reissue not only has the original seven selections but "Gone With the Wind" (which was left off of the original LP due to lack of space) plus three full-length alternate takes that are basically on the same level as the masters. Among the highpoints are "Taking a Chance on Love," "Yardbird Suite," "Like Someone in Love," and Farlow's lone original, "Meteor," which utilizes the chord changes of "Confirmation." Hot bebop that is easily recommended.