The coming of a new year always has a strong effect on the music industry. Artists, labels and music publishers often focus their efforts on prepping releases and building hype, and it usually starts well before the holidays. 2014 is no different, with a handful of near-future releases already drumming up a great deal of excitement among music fans. Narrowing down which albums might actually be worth hearing, though, isn’t always easy given the plethora of releases scheduled for the coming six months.
2013 was certainly a great year for music, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that 2014 may even be more packed with top-caliber releases.
Here are 5 of the most anticipated major label releases scheduled to come out over the course of the next year:
1. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes
Everyone knows Springsteen is The Boss for a reason, and his upcoming album High Hopes has a great deal of hype surrounding it, even if it isn’t exactly a proper new release (it’s a collection of odds and ends from Springsteen’s career). Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine guest stars, and there are also appearances from classic members of the E Street Band Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici. If you’re a Springsteen fan, this record will no doubt make you happy.
2. Dr. Dre – Detox
Hip hop fans hold Dr. Dre in high regard, and for good reason – he’s one of the godfathers of the genre. Given the history of his release schedule, though, it seems as if he has a hard time staying relevant. His first release in a handful of years, Detox is being called Dre’s return to the limelight, and will no doubt be one of the biggest rap releases in 2014. The record is full of cameos and even has its own blog for marketing and promotion purposes, making it one of the most anticipated releases for 2014. It’s still too early to tell whether or not it’ll be worth the hype though.
We must give the music industry credit: just when it appears that they have completely run out of ways to spin their back catalogs into gold for the umpteenth time, they find a way. (They’re nothing if not survivalists, those guys.) In addition to featuring a number of big box sets this year, we’ve also included some excellent concert films, as well as one The Beatles’ most famous movies.
Click on the image next to each item to purchase it online, and for more gift ideas, check out the other categories in our Holiday Gift Guide.
Bob Dylan – The Complete Album Collection V.1
Box sets often make for great gifts, and this mega-set will put a smile on the face of any serious Bob Dylan fan. The CD set contains 35 studio titles (including the first-ever North American release of 1973′s Dylan album on CD), six live albums, and a hardcover book featuring extensive new album-by-album liner notes penned by Clinton Heylin and a new introduction written by Bill Flanagan. It also includes two “Side Tracks” discs that include a wealth of previously released non-album singles, tracks from various compilations and songs from films. This set is also available as a limited-edition harmonica-shaped USB stick containing all the music, in both MP3 and FLAC lossless formats, with a digital version of the hardcover booklet, but according to the reviews on Amazon, you should probably stick with the CD box set.
The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
Finally. After 21 years, the full April 1992 show featuring the surviving members of Queen fronted by a murderer’s row of early ‘90s rock star gods (and Liza Minnelli) is seeing the light of day, and on Blu-ray, to boot. (Inexplicably, the DVD of the set is still missing a few songs.) Extreme’s medley of Queen tracks has been added, as have sets by Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses and even Saint Bob Geldof (and Spinal Tap appears on the Blu-ray). The main show features one showstopper after another, whether it’s James Hetfield singing “Stone Cold Crazy,” George Michael singing “Somebody to Love,” Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott banging out “Tie Your Mother Down,” or Elton John and Axl Rose teaming up to take on “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The bonus featurettes from the 2002 DVD release are here as well. For the Queen fan in your life (or even the Muse fan in your life), this is a slam dunk.
If you talk to die-hard Bruce Springsteen fans, many of them will list “Incident on 57th Street” as one of their favorite Springsteen songs. The song leads off the second side of Bruce’s second album, “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” released in 1973, with “Rosalita” and “New York City Serenade.” The jazzy sound of these songs was dominated by the incredible piano playing of David Sancious who preceded Roy Bittan in the E Street Band.
The live version in the video above was released as a B-side in the mid-Eighties when Springsteen released his first live album, but I can’t find it anywhere on iTunes or in a legal digital format. It’s by far the best live version I’ve heard of this song and it features an excellent and mellow guitar solo by Bruce at the end that’s much better than the solo on the original recording.
This fan video was created by a Springsteen fan on YouTube who has posted a number of excellent Springsteen videos. He mashes up concert footage and other Springsteen footage to create visually interesting interpretations of the songs, and he translates the lyrics into Spanish subtitles.
This story is getting plenty of play today, as it should. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band capped off a marathon show in Hyde Park in London by inviting Paul McCartney on stage. They ripped through “I Saw Her Standing There” and then moved on to “Twist and Shout” when all of the mikes were cut off. Apparently they had gone beyond the curfew and someone decided it was time to end the show. What a shame.