Notre Dame on fire ...
Love Will Find a Way
The soft-focus production stands in stark contrast to the clean, crisp edges of Bailey’s hit-making days with Earth, Wind & Fire and Phil Collins. The falsetto, however, remains recognizable if not quite the same, as do the Curtis Mayfield covers (anachronisms no matter what Bailey thinks) and Marvin Gaye’s “Just to Keep You Satisfied.” Recognizable but better than the original is the Return to Forever cover. Recognizable but weirder is Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” Coming from a Gospel-Grammy winner, it may be profounder too.
Seeds of Change (Expanded Edition)
If Epic/Legacy had waited one more year, they could’ve touted this expanded, MP3-only edition of the best album by anyone associated with Kansas (Kansas included) as a 40th-anniversary treat. But better early than never. What’s doing the expanding? Horns-boosting and occasionally measure-adding remixes of all seven songs. What’s the reward of listening closely enough to notice such negligible differences? Getting to hear Ronnie James Dio, Steve Walsh, LeRoux’s Jeff Pollard, and Ambrosia’s David Pack give thrilling voice to Livgren’s newfound Christian faith twice.
Late Night Feelings
The failure of the Miley Cyrus collaboration “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” to approach the popularity of Ronson’s 2015 Bruno Mars collaboration “Uptown Funk” isn’t exactly inexplicable. Four years is a long time for the attention-deficit generation to stick with a DJ who isn’t Avicii, and Cyrus is nothing if not divisive. Still, it’s not only Cyrus’ finest 3½ minutes but also the best song that Stevie Nicks never recorded. Consider it the cake of an album a-swirl with delectable pop-soul icing.
Hotel Last Resort
“The obvious, the silly, and the true,” wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “had got to be defended,” and Gordon Gano’s just the man for the job. Cases in point: the obvious “I’m Nothing” (a ramshackle reminder that square pegs despise round holes), the silly “Sleepin’ at the Meetin’” (aka “Way That I Creep,” disinterred from Gano’s Under the Sun), and the true “Adam Was a Man” (a folk-punk exposition of Genesis 2 and 3). As for the minor-key “God Bless America,” it combines all three.
When the Call burst onto the scene in 1982, its combination of whomping beats, prophetic lyrics, and the late Michael Been’s rock-operatic vocals earned the group comparisons with U2. And while the similarities made the Call a hit among Christians whose tastes exceeded the boundaries of CCM, it also gave short shrift to what made the Call unique (its intensity for one thing) and probably didn’t help the group to win over radio-station programmers either.
Collected (Universal), a new three-disc compilation, features tracks not only from every Call album but also from Michael Been’s solo work, making it the most comprehensive Call anthology to date. Listeners whose familiarity with the band starts with the first of its two Hot 100 singles (“The Walls Came Down”) and ends with the second (“Let the Day Begin”) will be pleased to discover deep cuts that cut deeper. “Walk Walk” is one, “You Run” another. Progressing pilgrims have rarely rocked harder. —A.O.