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AC/DC leads the charge for November’s new music

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November’s new music release schedule is traditionally populated with big names and this crazy year proves no exception, despite the fact that fewer new titles are being released this fall. About 100 new titles of note saw release in November 2019, according to PauseandPlay.com, a leading online source for music release dates. Roughly 60 new, non-archival titles are listed for release this month, a number no doubt impacted by the pandemic.

AC/DC – “PWRϟUP” – (Columbia; Nov. 13)

The return of AC/DC, and the recording of this album, has been one of rock’s worst kept secrets, but all of that buzz only managed to fuel anticipation for the band’s 17th album, due out Friday. Brian Johnson is back on lead vocals after being forced to step away mid-tour in 2016 to deal with hearing issues, Phil Rudd has sorted out his problems and is back on drums and the now-unretired Cliff Williams returns on bass. First single “Shot in the Dark” (a quintessential AC/DC title if there ever was one) is exactly the kind of thunderous riff-heavy power-chord crunching rock you expect from a band that’s always managed to stay true to itself while it gives the people what they want. The songs are credited to Angus Young and his late brother Malcolm, the band’s long-serving rhythm guitarist, to whom this record is dedicated.

George Benson – “Weekend in London” (Provogue/Mascot; Nov. 13)

This icon of jazz guitar and vocals, who brilliantly managed to cross over to the pop charts in the ‘70s and ‘80s, has still got it. Recorded last year at the 250 seat Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club - one of London’s most storied music rooms, Benson and his band deliver a fresh mix of hits and covers on this record produced by Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Journey, Rush). Highlights include an extended take on “Give Me The Night” and a mesmerizing version of Donny Hathaway’s “The Ghetto,” where Benson gives his Ibanez hollowbody electric a chance to sing. This is your Sunday morning record after spending Saturday night cranking the new AC/DC album.

Johnny Cash and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – (Columbia/Legacy; Nov. 13)

Gotta be honest, I’m generally not a fan of these posthumously orchestrated records that reimagine a timeless artist’s oeuvre (see Elvis, Roy Orbison, et al.) but I admit some of this works pretty well. Johnny Cash master tapes from different eras were transported to Abbey Road studios in London where the RPO were added to the mix. “I Came to Believe,” a song Cash wrote while recovering from drug addiction, is even more moving in its freshly orchestrated form, but 1963’s “Ring of Fire” should have remained unaltered. Neil Diamond plans to release a similarly constructed album on November 20, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Chris Stapleton – “Starting Over” (Mercury Nashville; Nov. 13)

Stapleton surprised fans in August by scrubbing past content from his social media pages to appropriately preview the title song for his fourth album. After spending five years in music-making motion, Stapleton stepped back to take stock of his life, career and relationships during a breather that found him collaborating with friends old and new, including Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers. Stapleton and Campbell wrote for this record, and for Campbell’s “The Dirty Knobs” project out next week. A number of these tracks, including the hopeful and optimistic title song, which features backing vocals from Stapleton’s wife, Morgane, premiered during his live shows in 2018 and 2019.

John Fogerty – “Fogerty’s Factory” (BMG Rights Management; Nov. 20)

The title and cover art recall one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s best albums but this is an altogether different collection of Fogerty tunes recorded this year, as he Covid-hunkered down with members of his family and shot an informal series of music videos to share with the world. Sons Shane and Tyler and daughter Kelsy join their father on 12 originals and covers, some dating back to Fogerty’s hit-making peak with CCR. “It’s supposed to sound like a jam,” Fogerty said in a statement. In reality, it’s a mostly acoustic campfire soundtrack from one of the best songwriters America has produced.

Jimmy Buffett – Songs You Don’t Know By Heart – (Mailboat; Nov. 20)

This is Buffett’s second album to be released this year, and another record (like Fogerty’s) that came out of the artist’s desire to share music with fans online at a time when he couldn’t do it in a live setting. Buffett’s daughter, director Delaney Buffett (“The Spring,”) filmed her father telling the stories behind some of the lesser-known fan favorites in his songbook, followed by a live acoustic performance of the song. Highlights include “Woman Goin’ Crazy on Caroline Street,” “Peanut Butter Conspiracy” and “Tonight I Just Need My Guitar.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 November 2020 06:56

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