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Album Reviews

Sting, ‘The Last Ship’ – Album Review

Frank Ockenfels
Frank Ockenfels

Sting has never hid his pretensions. In fact, he's gone out of his way to flaunt them, going all the way back to the Police, when he casually referenced Vladimir Nabokov in the band's first Top 10 U.S. hit and then explored Jungian philosophies on the band's biggest-selling album. Things only got worse with his solo career.

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Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, ‘Unvarnished’ — Album Review

Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images
Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts have been basically mining the same field for over 30 years now. And, as the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Crunching guitars, pounding drums and attitude abound on 'Unvarnished,' the band's first new album in over seven years.

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The Band, ‘Live at the Academy of Music 1971′ – Album Review

John Scheele
John Scheele

The Band's historic performances at New York City's Academy of Music on Dec. 28-31, 1971 have been collected before, on one of the '70s' best live albums, 'Rock of Ages.' But the five-disc 'Live at the Academy of Music 1971' (which includes a DVD) paints a more complete picture of the shows.

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The Clash, ‘Sound System’ – Album Review

Adrian Boot
Adrian Boot

The Clash's official studio output makes up more than half of the 12-disc box set 'Sound System,' which could be the most definitive document on the legendary punk band. Their five great albums are here; 'Cut the Crap,' the 1985 LP they made without guitarist Mick Jones, is not. You really don't need anything else.

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Elvis Costello and the Roots, ‘Wise Up Ghost’ – Album Review

Danny Clinch
Danny Clinch

Elvis Costello has been down this path before. New collaborators. New sounds. Old songs approached in new directions. On 'Wise Up Ghost,' an album recorded with hip-hop crew the Roots, he slips into a new groove, for him at least, that adds some fresh texture to his old style.

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Rod Stewart, ‘Rarities’ – Album Review

Mercury / UMe
Mercury / UMe

Rod Stewart has taken his punches over the years. First in the late '70s for his disco hit 'Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?' and most recently for his series of albums featuring a bunch of old songs your grandma and grandpa used to get busy to back in the day. But before all that, he was one of rock's greatest singers.

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The Beach Boys, ‘Made in California’ – Album Review

Capitol Photo Archives
Capitol Photo Archives

The Beach Boys' 2012 reunion album was released during the group's 50th-anniversary celebration. But more than just marking a milestone, 'That's Why God Made the Radio' strapped itself into a time capsule and did its best to rocket itself back to 1962 or at least to 1967 (or maybe 1972).

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Bob Dylan, ‘Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)’ – Album Review

John Cohen
John Cohen

There's no telling what was really going on in Bob Dylan's head in 1970. But that hasn't stopped fans from theorizing over the years that he was tired of his fame and looking for a way out of the mythology that had built up around him throughout the '60s.

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Nilsson, ‘The RCA Albums Collection’ – Album Review

Tom Hanley
Tom Hanley

Harry Nilsson's relatively short life was messy, complicated and not easily explained in a sentence or two. Likewise, his music was just as scattered, unfocused and undefinable.

It makes boxing up his career a tough and possibly futile task. Which is why, even at 17 discs, 'The RCA Albums Collection' can't really pinpoint the restless artist. Nothing can, really. But this massive set makes a valiant effort.

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Black Sabbath, ’13′ – Album Review

Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath / Facebook

Here's the rundown on '13,' Ozzy Osbourne's first full-length album with Black Sabbath in 35 years: It's not embarrassing in the least. In fact, it's pretty darn good and at times it's great.

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