Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: From Lennon to Gaga to Green

Dallas Green of City and Colour performs at Iron City on March 6, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Dallas Green of City and Colour performs at Iron City on March 6, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. David A. Smith / Getty Images

This is the first week of the all-important fourth quarter, the recording industry’s sprint to the end of the fiscal year.

Time to bring out the final big guns of the year.

1. John Lennon, Imagine

A year after The Beatles dissolved, John Lennon was already on his second solo album. Eschewing the rawness of 1970’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Lennon and producer Phil Spector opted for a much more refined sound. The centrepiece of the album is the title track and remains Lennon’s most-beloved piece. This new reissue tells the story of this album over four CDs and two Blu-ray discs filled with new mixes of the album, outtakes, studio jams, demos, stray singles from the era (Merry Xmas (War is Over))and even interviews with John and Yoko. If you thought you knew this album, just wait until you dive into this thing.

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2. Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, Shallow

Trivia question: How many times has A Star is Born been made? Answer: Four. There was the original 1937 film starring Frederic March and Janet Gaynor; a musical in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason; and the 1976 edition with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristopherson. (Clint Eastwood tried to do it again in 2011 with Beyonce, but the project crashed and burned). Somehow, though, Bradley Cooper was able to pull it all together as producer and director. And when Gaga signed on, things took off. There are 34 songs on the soundtrack, the majority of which are brand new and written by Gaga. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of chart success this record will have.

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3. City and Colour, Guide Me Back Home

When Dallas Green launched last year’s An Evening with City and Colour tour last year, he made sure that every show was recorded for a possible live album. The result is a 20-track collection recorded at venues across the country. There’s also a lot of talking between tracks with Dallas providing context for his songs about sadness and dying.

4. Twenty One Pilots, Trench

Is it just me or am I the only one annoyed at the lack of the hyphen in the band’s name? Fans won’t care, of course, because they’ve been anticipating this fifth album (yes, there’s plenty to 21P’s career before Stressed Out) ever since they discovered a few Easter eggs on the band’s website. There are plenty of sci-fi elements to the record involving the city of Dema and The Yellow Eye. Expect this record to be in the public eye for the next 12-18 months.

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5. Tokyo Police Club, TPC

The band almost broke up a while back, but all seems to be forgiven and in order. TPC is the band’s first full album in four years and their fourth overall (not counting the two Mellon Collie and the Infinite Radness EPs back in 2016, of course.) Quirky, spikey, and angular, just like fans expected.

London Calling: Echo and the Bunnymen, The Stars, The Ocean & The Moon

With the exception of three years back in the 1990s, Echo has been together since 1978. This album features 13 tracks, 11 of which are re-recordings of material from their back catalogue. (Look at the titles of the songs re-imagined and you’ll understand the title of the album). There are also two new tracks, both of which feature Echo’s signature neo-psych vibe.

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Undiscovered Gem: The Lad Classic, Figure It Out

Here’s a young Toronto trio with an obvious reverence for the punk-funk of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Throwback Thursday: Soundtrack of Our Lives, Sister Surround

This Swedish band was a sensation at home almost from the moment they were formed in 1996. In 2001, their Behind the Music album suddenly became a priority for the North American branch of their record label. But after this single and album ran its course, all interest on this side of the Atlantic seemed to evaporate. Don’t feel bad, though, because they continued to have big-selling records in Europe until their breakup in 2012.

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Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and Q107, and a commentator for Global News.

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