Today I review an eclectic mix of late-2017 releases, including one of Kiss performing live in Las Vegas, a Bad Brains documentary and a compilation album that includes contempary artists Ed Sheeran, Little Big Town, Nick Jonas and others.
‘Now That’s What I Call Music 55,’ Various Artists (Sony Music Entertainment, ☆☆☆)
This may not be the latest chapter in the Now That’s What I Call Music series by this time, but I bypassed reviewing it last year because I’m not fond of many of the songs. The ones I enjoy are few and far between: Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and Taylor Swift’s “Style” are familiar. “Chains” (Nick Jonas), a Maroon 5 song, “Love Me Like You Do” (Ellie Goulding), “Want to Want Me” (Jason Derulo), “Cheerleader” (Omi) and “Honey I’m Good” (Andy Grammer) are others some readers may enjoy.
Don’t get me started on songs by someone “featuring” others, but this is as usual a good package of then-current hits.
‘Finding Joseph I: The HR From Bad Brains Documentary,’ Directed by James Lathos (MVDvisual, ☆☆☆☆)
This DVD released in November, presents a documentary about Paul “HR” Hudson from punk/reggae band Bad Brains, and how his devotion to Rastafarianism (tied in with mental illness) affected his life. Bad Brains began in the early 1980s, and HR was always the wild card, veering from punk to reggae with various musicians.
His brother Earl Hudson, Ian MacKaye, members of Sublime, Deftones, Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law, The Wailers and various supporters, managers and folks who have tried to help him stabilize his schizophrenia (and eventually did get him going to the doctor and on medication) are featured.
Fans of Bad Brains, Zion Train and other projects will enjoy this disturbing portrait of a living legend.
‘Kiss Rocks Vegas,’ Kiss (eagle Rock Entertainment, ☆☆☆)
This August package (DVD/CD, Blu-Ray/CD, DVD/two-LP and Deluxe Edition DVD/Blu-Ray/two-CD) presents Kiss during a Vegas residency that occurred during their 2014 40th Anniversary tour.
The 2014 Kiss line-up includes founding members bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons and rhythm guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley plus drummer Eric Singer and lead guitarist/producer Tommy Thayer. The show is slicker than I remember from two long-ago Mobile shows, and the Vegas crowd is less rabid. An acoustic, no make-up “meet and greet” set is also featured.
Favorite electric tunes: “Detroit Rock City,” “War Machine,” “Lick It Up,” “God of Thunder,” “Do You Love Me,” “Love Gun,” “Black Diamond” (lead vocal Eric Singer), “Shout It Out Loud” and “Rock And Roll All Nite.”
Acoustic faves include “Coming Home,” “Plaster Caster” and “Hard Luck Woman.”
Die-hard Kiss Army members and curiosity seekers will enjoy this package.
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at email@example.com.