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Archive for May 24th, 2010

R&B Releases: A Classic “Thing,” Plus Some Buried Grooves

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If you’re itching for some vintage R&B from around the way, a few labels have some new releases to keep you satisfied. One is a classic soul LP making its debut on CD, the other two are some solid disco efforts with some bonus cuts to boot.

Iconoclassic Records has planned a June 22 reissue of It’s Our Thing by The Isley Brothers. Released on the Isleys’ own label after leaving a solid but fleetingly successful tenure at Motown, this disc includes the funky, anthemic “It’s Your Thing.” This is the first release of this R&B Top 5 LP on CD, if you can believe that, and a nice complement to the label’s reissues of the Isleys’ latter-day LPs Showdown and Go All the Way.

The underrated Funky Town Grooves label has a pair of new expansions of nearly-forgotten dance/R&B records. One is Hot Butterfly, the 1978 sophomore album by Gregg Diamond and Bionic Boogie. Diamond, a power player in the disco era, is perhaps best-known for writing and producing “More, More, More” for The Andrea True Connection, but the real secret weapon here is the man on lead vocals – the one and only Luther Vandross. This first-time remaster from the original tapes (a previous, Japan-only CD issue was a vinyl rip) includes four bonus remixes and is slated to ship in June.

FTG also has an expansion of Glenn Jones’ Finesse ready to go for June as well. This LP – Jones’ first for RCA (following the Everybody Loves a Winner EP from the previous year) – was a Top 20 R&B hit and yielded the Top 5 R&B single “Show Me.” This new package comes with three remixes, including two vintage mixes of “I Am Somebody” from Everybody Loves a Winner.

Order these discs here, here and here. Check out all the track lists after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 24, 2010 at 14:02

News Roundup: Going for the Gold

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Yet another sub-genre of the catalogue world is the audiophile reissue. Companies like Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Audio Fidelity and Analogue Productions specialize in reissuing classic titles for an audiophile audience, often utilizing the original master tapes for a release on gold CD, hybrid SACD or high-quality LP. With excellent sound quality as the main mandate, bonus tracks and new liner notes are rare on these releases which generally intend to replicate the original artwork and listening experience. Audio Fidelity last week announced two titles due on CD in June which may be of more than passing interest to readers of The Second Disc.

Stevie Wonder’s 1972 Talking Book is one of Wonder’s most beloved albums, including the massive hits “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” in addition to the gorgeous “I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever).” Jeff Beck, David Sanborn and Ray Parker, Jr. all guested on the album which receives the Audio Fidelity 24 Karat Gold CD treatment courtesy of mastering engineer Kevin Gray. This marks the first Motown release to be licensed to Audio Fidelity.

In addition, the label will offer the audiophile debut of Laura Nyro’s Time and Love: The Essential Masters, a 2000 Sony Legacy compilation containing 16 of the influential singer/songwriter’s best tracks. While Nyro may be best known for providing classic hit singles for artists as diverse as The Fifth Dimension (“Wedding Bell Blues,” “Stoned Soul Picnic”), Three Dog Night (“Eli’s Comin’”), Barbra Streisand (“Stoney End”) and Blood Sweat and Tears (“And When I Die”), her own renditions of her famous songs are considered by many to be definitive. This release should be a fitting tribute to the late, underrated Nyro, who successfully blended Broadway, blues, gospel, jazz, soul and rock into a sound uniquely her own. Her musical collaborators on these tracks include notable talents such as Roy Halee, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, Charlie Calello, Arif Mardin and Felix Cavaliere. Steve Hoffman does the mastering honors here.

Pre-order here and here, and read the track listings after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 24, 2010 at 11:53

From The King of the New York Streets to The Wolf King of L.A.

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It seems that the Cherry Red family of labels’ slogan should be “expect the unexpected.” Each label is run by a different team, resulting in an extremely diverse array of offerings. Steve Stanley’s Now Sounds celebrates, but isn’t strictly limited to, the musical era of 1964-1972. Past reissues have encompassed such styles as harmony and sunshine pop (Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends, The Association), folk (Janis Ian), light psychedelia (Colours), “Bacharock” (The Golden Gate) and the sunkissed sounds of the West Coast (Mark Eric). Now Sounds has just announced two upcoming reissues that continue its mission of presenting long-lost LPs for a new generation.

Due on June 8 is Dion DiMucci’s 1969 LP Wonder Where I’m Bound. This album is a rare example of a vault collection being artfully assembled into a unique product of its own. Essentially a collection of studio outtakes – all dating no later than 1965 – excavated by the label in the wake of Dion’s 1968 “comeback” on the Laurie label with “Abraham, Martin and John,” Wonder Where I’m Bound features production on some tracks by Tom Wilson (of Simon & Garfunkel and Velvet Underground fame) and reveals the singer to have been an early proponent of what would become known as folk-rock. Its title track is a cover of a Tom Paxton composition, with orchestration added by renowned producer Jimmy Wisner to echo the sound of “Abraham, Martin and John.” Bob Dylan’s songs make their compulsory appearance via “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and the lesser-known “Farewell.” DiMucci foreshadows his later blues explorations (such as 2006’s Bronx in Blue on Razor & Tie 79301 82960-2 and 2007’s Son of Skip James on Verve Forecast B0010173-2) with Woody Guthrie’s “900 Miles” and even references his own doo-wop roots with a reworking of “A Sunday Kind of Love.” Anthologies have covered Dion’s Columbia era before, but 4 tracks make their CD debut here, as does the album in its complete, original sequence.  While there are no bonus tracks, one can typically count on Now Sounds for lavishly annotated and illustrated liner notes.

While Dion is practically synonymous with the street corners of New York City, Now Sounds turns to the West Coast for its July 6 reissue of the self-titled album Jamme, originally released in 1970 on John Phillips’ short-lived Warlock Records label. Don and Keith Adey formed the duo, and were joined on the LP by session vets Larry Knechtel on bass and Jim Gordon on percussion. Phillips himself produced in his home studio (with such luminaries as George Harrison and Keith Richards reportedly in attendance), and with this release, another chapter of The Mamas and The Papas story is unearthed. Now Sounds have secured no fewer than 6 unreleased tracks to bolster the LP’s 10 songs, and have also added both sides of a mono 45, bringing the grand total to 18 songs. Harmonies are of course on display, and the label likens the album’s sound to that of artists as different as Badfinger, Emmit Rhodes, Buffalo Springfield, The Bee Gees and even Big Star. For Mamas and the Papas fans and those interested in the further musical explorations of Phillips, this looks like a must-have release. The booklet features unreleased photos and new liner notes by Mamas and the Papas historians Jeffrey A. Greenberg and Chris Campion with full cooperation of Jamme. This disc also should be a fine complement to Varese Vintage’s ongoing “Papa John Phillips Presents” series, the latest title of which is Many Mamas, Many Papas (Varese 067016), slated for June 29 release and comprising 2 discs of primarily-unreleased recordings from a latter-day incarnation of the fabled group.

Check out Amazon pre-order listings here and here, and read the track listings after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 24, 2010 at 11:39