The Soul Sessions Vol. 2
Joss Stone was only 15 when she recorded her first album The Soul Sessions, a collection of R&B covers that were originally released years before she was born. After a decade of self-penned songs and a stint with Mick Jagger’s not-so-super supergroup SuperHeavy, Stone returns to the all-covers format on her sixth album, a sequel to her breakthrough debut. And like the 2003 record, The Soul Sessions Vol. 2 steers clear of the usual karaoke hits and mines more obscure R&B nuggets, like the Chi-Lites’ “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People,” the Dells’ “The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind),” and Sylvia’s “Pillow Talk.” Stone has grown into her voice over the past 10 years, so she gives these songs plenty of sweaty, sexy growl. They’re no replacements for the originals, of course, but they sure beat the usual American Idol recycling.
Blur 21: The Box
This massive box – which includes all seven of the band’s studio albums plus a bunch of unreleased tracks and other rarities – should settle once and for all which Britpop group from the ’90s mattered most. Unlike Oasis, Blur didn’t get blustier as they got bigger; they got artsier and smarter. And they were a restless bunch, jumping from ’60s-style garage rave-ups to club-shaking dance music to guitar-stabbing alt-rock without missing a beat.
I Am an Elvis Fan
Just in time for the 35th anniversary of the King’s death comes this 21-song collection curated by fans. A quarter of a million Elvis lovers from across the globe voted on the album’s contents, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect: big hits (“Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heartbreak Hotel”), movie songs (“Blue Hawaii,” “Viva Las Vegas”), gospel cuts (“Peace in the Valley,” “How Great Thou Art”), and zero tracks from his influential Sun period.
Sparkle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The only reason to hear this soundtrack to the remake of the 1976 movie about a 1960s girl group is for the last two songs recorded by Whitney Houston (who also stars in the film) before her death. She flies solo on the blah gospel cut “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” and duets with Jordin Sparks (who plays Sparkle) on the festive “Celebrate.” A bunch of songs by the movie’s stars and one by Cee Lo Green round out the record.