I wasn't previously familiar with Ray Wilson's pedigree, as a number-one charting UK pop star with Stiltskin in 1994, or of his replacement of Phil Collins as the lead vocalist of Genesis in 1996, but allow me to bow down and sign up for the fan club.
Seasoned but beautifully young, the 32-year-old last year began performing acoustically at the Edinburgh International Festival, and 13 consecutive sold-out nights followed. Simply entitled Live & Acoustic, this just-released CD on the SPV Records label documents his vocal and guitar talent - intimate and driving originals mixed with cover interpretations that bring to mind the thrill that Jeffery Gaines put to Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" a few years back. As a master rock vocalist, Wilson has been inspired by some of the best, reminiscent of Gabriel or John Waite of the Babys, but never full of himself enough not to start over on a song in a different key, banter with the crowd, or mock a momentary Louis Armstrong/Louis Prima vibe. And how bold is it to start your album with a cover - a wicked take on Collins' "In the Air Tonight" - or include an a cappella a rendition of The Eagles' "Desperado"? Highly recommended for fans of progressive rock, Wilson touches down often along Genesis' long road, with classics such as "Carpet Crawlers" and "Lover's Leap," and terrific newer material "Shipwrecked" and "Not About Us." Other cover delights include Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run," Gabriel's moving apartheid anthem "Biko," and a stunning duet with siren Amanda Lyon on Bob Dylan's "Forever Young." Equally engaging is the new release from Peter Mulvey, entitled Ten Thousand Mornings, on the Signature Sounds imprint. Mulvey and his funky acoustic six-string take the do-it-yourself recording phenomenon to a new "underground" level, as for most of the past year he's laid down his guitar case on the platforms of Boston's Davis Square subway station, complete with a Roland VS-890 24-bit digital studio workstation. Guest instrumentalists and vocalists such as Erin McKeon and Chris Smither drop their fare and hug up to Mulvey's busking bench, bravely getting lost in his pensive finger work, gracefully blending classical runs with jazzy blues boogie. For the cover fanatic, the CD is full of gorgeous reinterpretations, ranging from Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" and Elvis Costello's "Oliver's Army" to Paul Simon's "Stranded in a Limousine" and Leo Kottke's "Running up the Stairs." Timed to fill the roughly four minutes between subway cars' arrival and departure, these recordings are amazingly light, capturing a multitude of perfect moments in the herd of humanity. The disc features HyperCD technology, a Web-based link to view a portion of this unique project, with a full-length DVD due next year.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Natalie Merchant this evening, Duncan Sheik on Thursday, Papa Roach on Friday, and Lyle Lovett on Monday; The Late Show with David Letterman hosts Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys on Friday and the Dixie Chicks on Tuesday; Late Night with Conan O'Brien stays up late with The Breeders on Monday overnight and Rubyhorse on Tuesday overnight; and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn is the place to be on Friday overnight, as his special musical guest is Beth Orton.
New Releases Coming Tuesday, August 27:
... and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change
The Barbershop - original motion picture soundtrack (Epic) with music from Stingy, Jagged Edge, Amel Larrieux, Ginuwine, and more
Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash - Distance Between (Ultimatum) enhanced CD
Beatnuts - Ya Better Believe It (Landspeed)
Black Crowes - Live (V2) two-CD set from Boston's Orpheum Theater
James Brown - The Next Step (Fome Records) all-new studio album featuring the track "Killing Is Out, School Is In"
Frank Bruno - A Cat May Look at a Queen (Absolutely Kosher)
Johnny Cash - Live at Madison Square Garden (Columbia Legacy) recorded December 5, 1969
Chevelle - Wonder What's Next (Epic) gear-head rawk currently touring with Ozzfest
Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head (Parlophone/Capitol) featuring the single "In My Place"
Conjure One - Conjure One (Nettwerk) new from Rhys Fulber of Front Live Assembly and Delerium
Dillinger Escape Plan - Irony Is a Dead Scene (Epitaph) with Mike Patton of Faith No More
Dixie Chicks - Home (Open Wide/Monument) all new with songs written by Stevie Nicks, Marty Stuart, and Patty Griffin
Eighteen Visions - Vanity (Trustkill)
Eve - Eve-olution (Interscope) with guest Alicia Keys
Jimmy Fallon - The Bathroom Wall (Dreamworks)
Fastball - Painting the Corners: The Best of (Hollywood)
Free Loan Establishments - Ever Been To Mexico? (Shelflife)
Gus Gus - Attention (Moonshine) third album from the widely acclaimed Icelandic media arts collective
Miles Hunt - Miles Hunt Club (Eagle) new from the Wonderstuff front man
Mike Johnson - What Would You Do (Up Records) new solo album from the Dinosaur Jr. bassist, with guests Jim Roth of Built to Spill and Jason Albertini of Duster
Lagwagon - Let's Talk About Leftovers (Fat Wreck Chords) 25 outtakes and B sides
Magnet - Caffeine Superstar (Magnetic) featuring bassist Victor Krummenacher of Camper Van Beethoven and a slow, dreamy cover of The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated"
Aimee Mann - Lost in Space (United Musicians)
Ms. Jade - Girl Interrupted (Interscope) with guests Jay-Z and Nelly Furtado
Joan Osbourne - Womanly Hips (Compendia)
Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (Interscope) with guests Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Dean Ween of Ween, and Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees
Duncan Sheik - Daylight (Nonesuch/Atlantic) featuring a song co-written with Mick Jones of Foreigner
Shimmer Kids Underpop Association - The Natural Riot (Hidden Agenda)
Silverchair - Diorama (Eleven/Atlantic) featuring arrangements with guest collaborator Van Dyke Parks of Beach Boys production fame
Sons of the Never Wrong - 4 ever on (Gadfly) harmonious nu-folk from this two-gal-and-one-fella Chicago trio
Spiritu - Spiritu (Meteor City) excellent syrupy sludge-metal from New Mexico, riding tall in the saddle of a flaming warhorse courtesy of producer Jack Indino, and playing the "toasty" Stoner Hands of Doom Festival in Phoenix this November
Spock's Beard - Snow (Metal Blade) two-CD set with 28-page digi-book
Tipsy - Tipsy Remix Party (Asphodel)
Viva Death - Viva Death (Vagrant) debut from Trevor Keith of Face to Face and Josh Freese of A Perfect Circle
The Washdown - The Washdown (Lookout) CD EP from the Tampa, Florida, band, just off tour with Bratmobile