"Bualadh Bos" means "Clap Your Hands" in Irish, and popular Irish alternative rock band the Cranberries encourage their audiences to do just that on this collection, the group's first official live album. Bualadh Bos: The Cranberries Live features 15 songs recorded between 1994 and 1998 at concerts in the United States, Canada, Norway, and Sweden, with the group performing most of their best-known songs for enthusiastic fans. Selections include "Linger," "Zombie," "Dreams," "Sunday," "Ridiculous Thoughts," "Free to Decide," and many more.
The second half of the '90s was difficult for the Cranberries, not just because of changing fashions, but because the group embraced both a social consciousness and a prog rock infatuation, crystallized by the Storm Thorgerson cover of Bury the Hatchet. Thorgerson has been retained for their fifth effort, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, but the group has hardly pursued the indulgent tendencies of their previous collaboration with him – instead, they've re-teamed with producer Stephen Street and come up with an album that's as reminiscent of their debut as anything they've done since. So, even if it's wrapped in new clothing, this is essentially a return to basics, and it's a welcome one, since it's melodic, stately, and somber – perhaps not with the post-Sundays grace of "Linger," but with a dogged sense of decorum that keeps not just the group's musical excesses in check, but also O'Riordan's political polemics (although she still sneaks in cringe-inducing lines like "Looks like we've screwed up the ozone layer/I wonder if the politicians care").
Like many eponymous albums, Shakira's self-titled 2014 set marks a new beginning: a new album for a new label after she got a new job. The new job was as a co-host on the hit American televised musical contest The Voice, the new label was RCA, and the new album was her first full-fledged pop album since She Wolf, the rather brilliant, hard electronic dance record that stiffed in 2009. She bounced back in 2010 with Sale el Sol, but that album wasn't made with the U.S. market in mind, something that certainly can't be said of Shakira. Opening up with a duet with Rihanna, and later finding space for her Voice co-host Blake Shelton, Shakira is determined to appeal to all audiences here: don't like the relentless dance of "Dare (La La La)"? Stick around for the reggae collaboration with Magic! on "Cut Me Deep," or maybe the appealing faux-folk of "23" or the full-bore adult-pop assault of "The One Thing," which may be the best cut here.
Gianna Nannini used to release a compilation every decade, and the double-CD Giannabest is her entry for the 2000s. In addition to all of the usual greatest hits, the thoroughly superb Giannabest trumps former collections by including material from the four fine studio albums Nannini released between 1998 and 2007, the 1971 rare demo "Sola con la Vela," a Will Malone remix of "Meravigliosa Creatura," and three stunning new songs written with Pacifico, "Suicidio d'Amore," "Pazienza," and "Mosca Cieca".
Although Live & Well wasn't a landmark album in the sense of Live at the Regal, it was a significant commercial breakthrough for King, as it was the first of his LPs to enter the Top 100. That may have been because recognition from rock stars such as Eric Clapton had finally boosted his exposure to the White pop audience, but it was a worthy recording on its own merits, divided evenly between live and studio material. King's always recorded well as a live act, and it's the concert tracks that shine brightest, although the studio ones (cut with assistance from studio musicians like Al Kooper and Hugh McCracken) aren't bad.
B.B. King is not only a timeless singer and guitarist, he's also a natural-born entertainer, and on Live at the Regal the listener is treated to an exhibition of all three of his talents. Over percolating horn hits and rolling shuffles, King treats an enthusiastic audience (at some points, they shriek after he delivers each line) to a collection of some of his greatest hits. The backing band is razor-sharp, picking up the leader's cues with almost telepathic accuracy. King's voice is rarely in this fine of form, shifting effortlessly between his falsetto and his regular range, hitting the microphone hard for gritty emphasis and backing off in moments of almost intimate tenderness. Nowhere is this more evident than at the climax of "How Blue Can You Get," where the Chicago venue threatens to explode at King's prompting. Of course, the master's guitar is all over this record, and his playing here is among the best in his long career. Displaying a jazz sensibility, King's lines are sophisticated without losing their grit. More than anything else, Live at the Regal is a textbook example of how to set up a live performance.
This double CD from EMI features the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by their Finnish principal conductor at the time (1970s), Paavo Berglund. It doesn't have to be that a conductor originates from the same country as the composer whose works he or she is conducting, but it often happens that this combination seems to produce performances of greatest sensitivity. So it is here, as Berglund conducts 10 works by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The discs include quite familiar works like En Saga, one of Sibelius' first compositions when he was in his late 20s. We also have Pohjola's Daughter, The Bard and two of the four Lemminkäinen Legends, and a beautiful version of Luonnotar sung by the Finnish soprano Taru Valjakka. The rest of the discs is made up of less frequently heard pieces. We have the five-movement suite from the incidental music Sibelius wrote for Adolf Paul's play King Christian II (1898); the Spring Song (Vårsång) of 1894; the suite of incidental music from Maeterlinck's Pelleas and Melisande.