This isn't the spot to lay down odds on the third race. OTB is where Others Talk Back and give you the lowdown on what they've been feeling lately. This one's for the customers.

Blitzen Trapper – “Furr 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition”  It is hard to believe that ten years have elapsed since this album was first released.    “Furr” is perhaps Blitzen Trapper’s best remembered and beloved album.  Their roots rock mixed with sixties/seventies pop sound that they perfected with this album was what made “Furr” the classic that it is.  The original album’s thirteen tracks are joined by an additional twelve tracks.  I have read that the band recorded almost three albums of material during sessions for “Furr.”  The additional thirteen tracks are the best of the material that was tracked way back then.   And truthfully, most of the bonus tracks are winners.   It is fitting that an album as good as “Furr” is honored by being reissued.  And the music fan also gets another album of material in addition to the original album. - Ted

Giant Sand – “Return to the Valley of Rain”  This album was first released in 1985, but most of the recording was done in 1983.  Howe Gelb, the band’s main songwriter, guitarist and singer, has been unhappy with the sound of the record since it was released.  He considered it too low-fi.   So late last year,  Mr. Gelb got together with two ex-members  of the band back in 1983, and recruited two new guitarists to rerecord the album.  The band used eighties musical equipment and the producer used eighties production techniques to get it right.  The sound is now much cleaner and crisper than the original.  Giant Sand’s desert rock sound has never sounded better.  At times “Valley of Rain” sounds like a new album, but you then realize that it really isn’t.   Few bands get a second chance to redo the past, especially a past that is over thirty years old.  Giant Sand made the most of that second chance. - Ted

Alejandro Escovedo and Don Antonio – “The Crossing”  The fact is that Don Antonio is the Italian band that backs up Mr. Escovedo on this album.  That being said, “The Crossing” is a concept album about two immigrants who come to America.  One of the immigrants is from Italy and the other from Mexico.   One would think that a concept album might be great in theory but clunky in practice.  Mr. Escovedo has gathered all of his musical talent to make this album succeed.  “The Crossing” has many styles of music to successfully make the concept and the album work - from rockers to ballads and all styles in between.  One has to remember that Mr. Escovedo never made a bad album.  And he has made more than his fair share of great albums.   And “The Crossing’ is one of his great albums. - Ted

Bob Seger & the Last Heard – “Heavy Music:  The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967” All the singles on this album have remained locked away for decades.  There was not really a legitimate way to hear this music since their release over fifty years ago. That is unless you somehow acquired the rare 45s. That being said, before Mr. Seger became a superstar in the seventies, he was a hard-scrabble musician, who was unknown outside of his hometown of Detroit.   The music on this album certainly isn’t representative of his output of the last forty years.  But on the other hand, the music on this album is really catchy sixties garage pop.  You get fuzz guitars, cheesy organs – the whole sixties garage milieu.  It is also evident from this album that Mr. Seger has always had the ability to write great songs.  It was more bad luck than lack of talent that prevented some of these songs being more than regional hits.  At the very least, “Heavy Music” is a really fun record.  And when was the last time you said that about a Bob Seger album? - Ted

The Posies – “Frosting on the Beater”  The Posies and their fans call “Frosting on the Beater” their guitar album.   It has a lot of loud electric guitar, but it also has some of their best songs on it.  This is the album where the band put the power into power pop.  Not only is the original album remastered, but there are fifteen tracks on it that haven’t seen the light of day until now.  Plus there are sixteen tracks appended to the album that were released on box sets, compilations and singles that are out of print.  Most power pop and Posies fans consider this 1993 album the band’s finest moment.   This twenty-five year old album still sounds as fresh as it did all that time ago.  And that is really saying something in this day and age. - Ted

Spiritualized – “And Nothing Hurt”  Talk is that this is the last Spiritualized album.  After twenty-six years the band that has been called the perfect music for “floating into space”” may be calling it quits.   And if this truly is their last album, it is a fitting end to the band.  “And Nothing Hurt” is without a doubt their best album since the late nineties.  The songs are so well constructed and intricately produced that one can only really think that the main singer, songwriter and guitarist, Jason “Spaceman” Pierce, may be the new century Phil Spector.   Plus this has to be the loudest album released so far this year.  While I don’t wish for Spiritualized to break up, this album would. - Ted