Bob Marley, "Legend Remixed" (Tuff Gong/Universal)
This disc takes Marley's classic posthumous greatest hits compilation, the bestselling reggae album of all time, and hands it over to many of EDM's top producers, including Marley's sons, Ziggy and Stephen.
This really could have been close to sacrilege. After all, what makes "Legend" so important and such a perennial bestseller is how timeless it still sounds, even as it nears its 30th anniversary.
However, the love and respect these producers show for Marley's songs is evident in the meticulous remixes. Jim James strips back much of "Waiting in Vain," which showcases the powerful melody even more than the original. Stephen Marley and Jason Bentley try to lighten the already-sunny "Three Little Birds" with more sweet backing vocals. Nickodemus adds some dub beats to "Jamming," as well as finding a new Afrobeat riff to emphasize in the song.
Yes, it will take some time to get used to the dubstep drop and bonkers breakdown Stephen Marley puts into the middle of "No Woman, No Cry." And the way Beats Antique bounces between the loping reggae of the original "Satisfy My Soul" and some wild drum and bass beats may freak some people out, though it's Roni Size's galloping breakbeat for "I Shot the Sheriff" that may be most shocking. But that is the point of "Legend Remixed," to bring some new listeners to these great songs in hopes they get hooked on Bob Marley's brilliance. The legions of "Legend" fans have all been sold on that for a while.
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
Quinn Sullivan, "Getting There" (SuperStar)
"Sitting in with B.B. King and Buddy, that stuff doesn't happen every day," blues guitar prodigy Sullivan marvels on "Things I Won't Forget." Especially when you're just 14 years old, and not only have you traded licks with those two blues titans, but also Buddy Guy has declared that "players like him come once in a lifetime."
"Getting There" is aptly titled, as Sullivan's debut reveals a prodigious but still developing talent. He's fortunate to be working with a top-notch producer, writer and drummer in Tom Hambridge, who helps ensure that Sullivan's dazzling chops are used in the service of tight, solid songs. He moves easily between authoritatively heavy blues-rock and tunes with a more melodic pop touch.
Sullivan's voice still has a youthful callowness. If it catches up to the depth and strength of his playing, then he will have fully arrived as a bluesman.
Nick Cristiano, Philadelphia Inquirer
Hunter Hayes, "Hunter Hayes (Encore)" (Atlantic)
As a marketing idea, this album makes no sense. It's half new material, including his smash single "I Want Crazy," and half of his 2011 eponymous debut, including the hit "Wanted." Considering how good the new stuff is, the 22-year-old country/pop phenom really should have made it an album. His work with Jason Mraz on the playful ballad "Everybody's Got Somebody but Me" could launch him as a pop star, while his tender ballad duet with Ashley Monroe, "What You Gonna Do," is another country charmer. Hayes' "(Encore)" will land him a lot of applause.
Glenn Gamboa, Newsday