All she wants to do is dance

Fresh releases for the fresh spring air

By Alan Sculley

Neil Young & the BlueNotes // Bluenote Café  // Warner Bros.

Of the many musical side trips Young has taken during his career, one of the most successful was forming his horn-driven big band, the Bluenotes, for a 1988 album, Ten Men Working, and subsequent tour. Bluenote Café captures this powerhouse group live with performances from 11 different concerts on the 1987-88 tour. If anything, the music feels more alive in the concert setting than on what was a lively studio album. The key tracks from Ten Men Working are featured, including the swinging title track, the single “This Note’s For You” (a broadside against corporate sponsorship of music) the driving rocker “Life in the City” and the moody and romantic ballad “Twilight.” But the tour’s set lists featured lots of unreleased songs only played on this tour (at least in this horn-fueled form), and that’s what makes Bluenote Café so valuable for Young enthusiasts. Some songs, like the hard-swinging epic, “Welcome to the Big Room,” the jazzy ’50s rock-rooted “Hello Lonely Woman” (written by Young in 1964) and the stirring, sweet and soulful “Fool for Your Love” and the rocking soul tune “Crime of the Heart” are good enough that one wonders why they were left off of the Ten Men Working studio album (or other Young studio efforts). Add in a few tunes recorded on other Young albums, including an epic 18-minute version of “Tonight’s The Night,” and Bluenote Café stands as one of the most essential albums in Young’s Archive series of live albums.

File next to: Brian Setzer Orchestra, Otis Redding

Rating: 4 stars

Fleetwood Mac // Tusk // Warner Bros./Rhino 

Facing the daunting prospect of following up their blockbuster 1977 album Rumours, Fleetwood Mac (with guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham taking a lead role) made an audacious move, creating a double album in Tusk that showcased a quirky and eccentric side (“That’s Enough For Me,” “Not That Funny” and “Tusk”), along with other more accessible songs (“Sara,” “Think About Me”) in the vein of earlier hits. Reviews were mixed initially and sales (which have topped four million copies) were seen as disappointing. But over the years, Tusk has come to be seen as the daring, consistently good work it always was. Now the album gets the box set deluxe issue treatment, which expands notably on the 2004 reissue that already included a disc of outtakes. Along with the original album, the new edition expands on the outtakes, incorporating a few of the 2004 bonus tracks into one disc that presents an alternate version of the full album (with notably different versions of a few songs such as “Sara,” “Think About Me” and an early version of “Brown Eyes” with original guitarist Peter Green) and others into a second disc of outtakes that includes the debut of multiple versions of the songs “Tusk” and “I Know I’m Not Wrong” that illustrate the evolution of those tunes. Those who splurge for the pricey six-CD edition also get two discs of live performances from various shows on the Tusk tour (Buckingham shines as he lets loose on guitar on many songs) and the original album in DVD 5.1 surround sound and on vinyl.

File next to: Mumford & Sons, The Eagles

Rating: 4.5 stars
Don Henley // Cass County // Capitol 

For his fourth solo album, Don Henley is twanging it like it’s 1973, returning to the kind of country/pop/rock sound he helped pioneer with the Eagles four-plus decades ago. So don’t look for any slicked-up, synthed-up tunes like “Boys of Summer” or “Sunset Grill” here. Most of the songs are ballads with plenty of acoustic and steel guitar, although there are a pair of humorous grooving rockers in the Henley/Stan Lynch originals, “No, Thank You” and “Where I Am Now,” and a fine expansive rocker “That Old Flame” that features Martina McBride sharing vocals. McBride is far from the only guest here. As for the country material, the easy-going cover of Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose” finds Henley joined by the odd couple of Miranda Lambert and Mick Jagger on vocals (the Stones frontman sounding a bit square pegg-ish with his vocal). Dolly Parton is in fine form trading lines with Henley on the Louvin Brothers’ “When I Stop Dreaming,” while Merle Haggard’s weathered voice is a fine foil for Henley on the original, “The Cost of Living,” one of the best songs on the album. Cass County is a bit overstuffed at 16 songs (“Too Much Pride” the cover of “She Sang Songs Out of Tune” are fairly pedestrian) but otherwise, the songs range from solid to superb (falling into the latter category are the dramatic original “Take a Picture of This” a cover of the classic “Too Far Gone” with Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss singing harmony, and the bittersweet ballad “Words Can Break Your Heart”). Henley’s music, both solo and with the Eagles, has taken him far and wide from how he started out, but Cass County shows he could go home again and sound comfortable in his country-rock shoes.

File next to: The Byrds, Poco

Rating: 3.5 stars

Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at

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