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BWW CD Review: Lina Koutrakos ARCHIVES - An Essential Evolution in Entertainment

This 2015 album is a gift three decades in the making - thank goodness it finally arrived.

BWW CD Review: Lina Koutrakos ARCHIVES - An Essential Evolution in Entertainment

The last thing a rock & roll goddess wants to hear applied to her cd is the word 'nostalgia' because it conjures up images of music that once was hot becoming muzak heard in the dentist's office, or worse, the elevator. Nevertheless, when this writer sat down to listen to Lina Koutrakos ARCHIVES Extended Edition, nostalgia was the order of the day. Not in that TCM, Christmastime, Grandma's perfume, Dinah Shore kind of way... this is more like high school sneaking out after midnight, college all-nighter, cigarette smoke, bourbon sweat, dragging your ass in at dawn nostalgia. Remember how invested you were in music back then? Do you remember how it felt when your favorite band came out with a new album? You couldn't wait to get that sucker home, get the shrink-wrap off, and the album onto the stereo so you could hear all that glorious brand-new music? Once adulthood has firmly taken root in our lives, comes a moment when we turn a corner, concentrate on the business of life, and that thrill fades into the background, not unlike the music in the dentist's office.

Dudes, reclaim that thrill.

ARCHIVES Extended Edition is nearly an hour and a half of brand new music (specifically 79 minutes) - compositions by Koutrakos and collaborators over the years, primarily genius New York artists Dick Gallagher and Rick Jensen, artists with whom Lina had long term and dedicated work relationships that would still be active, were it not for the deaths of her venerated colleagues. And because these recordings have been locked away in The Lina Vault for decades, what we are talking about here is genuine Eighties rock, blues, even some gospel, delivered, like treasures unearthed, to fans, friends, and family of the music industry pillar who has managed to remain only a music industry artist since those flaming first days when the decade was new, and Lina was, too. It is no small wonder this guy felt nostalgic because the Eighties was my decade and I DID have that relationship with new music, record albums, shrink wrap, and turntable arms. This music is (you'll pardon the vulgarity) my shit.

Koutrakos' colorful career has taken her on many a wild adventure in many a different direction, much of which is represented on ARCHIVES, which brings the Koutrakos catalog right up to 2015. Although Lina has settled in as a strong female leader in the cabaret community, her rock roots must never be diminished. The discovery and restoration of seventeen sumptuous live and studio tracks by Roger Lian is Lina's gift to the world of music, not just her fans, and this is a thrill-a-minute exploration that harkens back to the likes of Pat Benatar and the Wilson sisters of Heart. Melodically memorable and imaginatively visual of lyrics, each cut on the album was worth the effort taken to bring into the light. Particularly provocative tracks include Koutrakos' "As If I Couldn't See" (with Dan Cross), abundant of emotion from Lina, and her deliciously angry-sounding guitars and drums, and the immaculately perfect "Under The Rail" by Rick Jensen, which will keep breaking your heart long after the song has ended. The great thing about ARCHIVES, though, is that every person who listens to it is going to find those tracks that speak especially to them: not one of the seventeen cuts is a throw-away - not something every album of previously unreleased material can claim... there's always at least one dud. Not here. From the opening strains of Gallagher's "American Dream" it is patently clear that this is going to be one hell of a satisfying album to listen to.

Using all the parts of her acting and singing training, Ms. Koutrakos connects to each composition with depth and detail, whether she's performing the straight-up blues of "Roadhouse Sally" or the unabashedly musical theater-vibed "All Girl Band" (featuring Nancy LaMott) but the real treat that comes with the extended version of this essential album is hearing Lina Koutrakos sing David Friedman's epic rock ballad "Catch Me" - it will haunt your every moment, demanding you listen to it at least once a day, for a very long time. Don't. Don't just listen to one track on this CD once a day - do the whole record. Start to finish. And that's not nostalgia, it's just damn fine music from an enigmatic artist who just happens to be the best in the business... in any decade you care to nominate.

Lina Koutrakos ARCHIVES Extended Edition is a 2015 release on the Miranda Music label. It is available on all digital platforms and at the Lina Koutrakos website HERE.


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