New Music Releases: Van Morrison, Wes Montgomery, Aretha, Blue Note Tone Poet Series, More

Our picks this week. Click the links to order from Amazon.

A perennial favorite, Moondance is often regarded as one of the best albums of all time. Ten years ago, the deluxe edition of the record was released to wide acclaim, with critics and fans basking in the context provided by previously unreleased songs from the recording session. This one extends that look behind the curtain into the “making of” a masterpiece. The RIAA-platinum certified classic was written and composed by Van Morrison himself, and is often credited with ushering in the “soft rock” era. Hits from the collection include “Come Running,” “Into the Mystic,” “Crazy Love,” and of course, the title track “Moondance.”

Wes Montgomery -"Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings" Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings is the first official release of the complete collection of previously unreleased recordings from jazz guitar giant Wes Montgomery. Featuring recordings with the Wynton Kelly Trio at New York City's famed Half Note jazz club in 1965 with drummer Jimmy Cobb and bassists Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Herman Wright and Larry Ridley.

Including over 2 hours from the original radio broadcasts with host Alan Grant, the 2 CD Digipak set comes with an elaborate booklet containing previously unpublished photos taken at the Half Note by Raymond Ross, a new essay from acclaimed journalist and author Bill Milkowski, plus interviews with jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern and Marcus Miller.

Limited 180gm vinyl LP pressing housed in deluxe tip-on jacket. McCoy Tyner looked to Africa on his far-reaching 1970 album Extensions, the only recorded collaboration between Tyner and Alice Coltrane who plays harp on 3 of the album's 4 tracks-including the expansive opener "Message from the Nile"-along with Wayne Shorter, Gary Bartz, Ron Carter & Elvin Jones. This stereo Tone Poet Vinyl Edition was produced by Joe Harley, mastered by Kevin Gray from the original analog master tapes.

Limited 180gm vinyl LP pressing housed in gatefold tip-on jacket. The trio of Grant Green, Larry Young and Elvin Jones had a unique alchemy from the first time they got together on 1964's Talkin' About. For 1965's I Want To Hold Your Hand, they added Hank Mobley to the mix for sophisticated renditions of well-known songs by the Beatles, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Cole Porter and more. Blue Note Tone Poet Series is produced by Joe Harley, mastered by Kevin Gray from the original analog master tapes.

A Portrait of the Queen – 1970-1974 collects the early 1970s work of the acclaimed singer-songwriter.

The set spans five albums from Franklin, starting with 1970’s This Girl’s in Love With You. From there, it includes Spirit in the Dark, released the same year, along with 1972’s Young, Gifted and Black and 1973’s Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky). The collection will round off with 1974’s Let Me in Your Life.

Incident At a Free Festival is a tribute to the mid-afternoon slots at Deeply Vale, Bickershaw, Krumlin, Weeley, and Plumpton - early 70s festivals that don't get the column inches afforded the Isle of Wight or Glastonbury Fayre, but which would have been rites of passage for thousands of kids. 

Bands lower down the bill would have been charged with waking up the gentle hippies and appealing to both the greasy bikers and the girls in knee-high boots who wanted to wiggle their hips. And the best way to do that was with volume, riffs and percussion. 

Compiled by the venerated Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne, this is the heavier side of the early 70s they summarised on the acclaimed "English Weather" collection. There's an air of menace and illicit thrills among tracks by Andwella, Stack Waddy and Leaf Hound (whose "Growers of Mushroom" album is worth well over £1,000). 

Bigger names include the rabble-rousing Edgar Broughton Band and kings of the festival freakout, Hawkwind. They are represented by their rare version of 'Ejection'For every mystical Tyrannosaurus Rex performance there was something like Atomic Rooster's Tomorrow Night or Curved Air's Back Street Luv to capture the spirit of the day and stir the loins of festival goers; the tracks on "Incident At a Free Festival" were inspired by both Chicago's percussive wig-outs and the Pink Fairies' anarchic spirit. The sounds were heavy and frequently funky, with a definite scent of danger. Their message was clear and simple: clap your hands, stamp your feet, hold on to your mind.

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