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Top Picks: Alabama Shakes' album 'Sound & Color,' the film '1971,' and more

The National Memorial Day Concert returns on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington , D.C., Van Morrison's new duets album is his best in years, and more top picks.

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Concert to remember

The National Memorial Day Concert returns May 24 from the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna will host the event, which includes tributes to the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, disabled veterans, and children who have lost a parent in a war. Gloria Estefan and Tessanne Chin, a “Voice” winner, will perform. It airs live on PBS at 8 p.m. 

Before Watergate

On March 8, 1971, a band of ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pa., and stole hundreds of files. The documents, which unveiled a vast and illegal regime of spying on and intimidating Americans, were mailed to the news media and members of Congress. The burglars were never caught. Now, members of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI share their story in 1971, an “Independent Lens” film that premières May 18 at 10 p.m. on PBS. Check local listings.

Van Morrison shines again

There has never been much clamor for loner and curmudgeon Van Morrison to make a duets album, but he did and – surprise – it’s his best album in decades. On Duets: Reworking the Catalogue, Van the Man sounds inspired by the material and invigorated by the company he keeps. The variety of voices is a timbre-filled treat. Among the guests are Michael Bublé, Mavis Staples, Stevie Winwood, and Mark Knopfler. 

Riot of sounds

Imagine a late-night jam session with the Sun Ra Arkestra and Al Green’s Hi Records band, awash in echo. “It” band Alabama Shakes’s new album, Sound & Color, could have been conceived in such a petri dish. It is challenging, sonically thrilling, and chock-full of twists on the soul genre, but it leans toward being a bit too “out there” for its own good. 

Inside Abbey Road

The London landmark made famous by the Beatles is still a busy and functioning studio as the recording home of the London Symphony Orchestra and pop stars Adele, Coldplay, and Kanye West, among others. Google has created a VIP pass at; you can take a guided tour with host Giles Martin, a house producer and son of the so-called Fifth Beatle, producer George Martin. Listen to interviews and live clips, and try your hand at production.

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