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Archive for September 17th, 2010

Polled as Love

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We kick off the weekend with a poll for you, dear readers: with the myriad of options coming up for Experience Hendrix/Legacy’s upcoming Jimi Hendrix box set, West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology, which one do you think you’ll be picking up?

Have fun voting!

Written by Mike Duquette

September 17, 2010 at 12:43

Don’t Look Now, There’s a Monkey on Your Back: “Faith” Reissue Delayed

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In what may be the most potent anti-drug message for catalogue fans, George Michael’s reissue of Faith has been postponed.

The singer, recently jailed for eight weeks for driving under the influence of drugs, was to have seen his solo album – a landmark of ’80s pop – reissued in several configurations on September 28. A Legacy spokesperson says the release has been delayed to next year.

Stay tuned for more info as it develops.

Written by Mike Duquette

September 17, 2010 at 12:38

Friday Feature: “Twister”

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When you feel down – regardless of your gender – you probably have some sort of ritual that gets you through your funk. This has become almost a cliche among the fairer sex; almost too easily conjured is the image of girls watching The Notebook while wearing comfortable sweatpants and eating some Haagen-Dazs ice-cream for comfort. I can at least empathize with the film aspect of that cliche, although my “comfort film” involves Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt and a nightmarish load of property damage.

That’s right – for some reason, Twister (1996) is a film that oddly captivates and keeps me upbeat no matter when or where it happens to be playing. In a strange way, the movie seemed to do the same for lots of others. The film was the second highest-grossing of that year and helped kick off a second wave of disaster movies – a genre thought to have peaked in the 1970s. Other disaster films like Armageddon, Deep Impact, Dante’s Peak, Volcano and even Hard Rain would be released to various levels of success in the two years after Twister, but there’s something about the tornado film – its folky charm, its bizarre ensemble cast (including small turns by Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) and Jami Gertz (Less Than Zero)), its screenplay by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton and then-wife Anne-Marie Martin – that manages to captivate more than any of the other late ’90s disaster flicks. (It’s also the only one among that crop to receive its own theme park attraction.)

There’s also a surprisingly good amount of things to say about the music. The pop soundtrack, anchored by tracks from Mark Knopfler, Alison Krauss, The Goo Goo Dolls and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, was highlighted by two of the last notable songs by Van Halen. There was the main single “Humans Being,” but there was also a much better instrumental between Eddie and Alex Van Halen entitled “Respect the Wind,” which played over the end credits. (Reportedly, “Respect the Wind” was written because Eddie hated “Humans Being,” which Sammy Hagar chiefly wrote. This led to the arguments that led to Hagar leaving the band, being temporarily replaced by David Lee Roth and then Extreme frontman Gary Cherone.)

And let’s not forget the surprisingly solid orchestral score by Mark Mancina. The composer was relatively new to film composition but had already worked on several high-profile projects, including Speed (1994) (also directed by Twister director Jan De Bont) and Bad Boys (1995), as well as arrangements for Hans Zimmer’s Oscar-winning score to The Lion King (1994). The score, with an almost darkly romantic theme and more than a few nods to American composer Aaron Copland, remains a favorite of both fans and the composer himself. (La La Land Records, which recently released Mancina’s score to Speed 2: Cruise Control, has allegedly been at work overcoming legal hurdles to expand the long out-of-print score album, which commands high prices on the secondary market.)

Get sucked into the musical releases of Twister after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 17, 2010 at 12:31

A Little Bit o’ Soul: A Busy Fall from Big Break and Superbird

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Funky Town Grooves announced quite a lineup of soul classics to hit shelves this fall, as reported yesterday by The Second Disc, and we’re happy to follow up with news of the latest exciting releases coming from two Cherry Red labels across the pond, Big Break Records and Superbird.

First up, Big Break (BBR) delves further into the Philadelphia International (PIR) catalogue, dormant here in the United States but also being mined concurrently by the U.K.’s Edsel label. September 20 sees the release of Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’ 1973 LP Black & Blue, the group’s second for the label, with the chart-topping single “The Love I Lost” anchoring a typically-strong set of Gamble and Huff productions including an unusual, jazzy take on John Kander and Fred Ebb’s Broadway classic “Cabaret.” Black & Blue will be bolstered by the inclusion of two rare single edits. October 11 will then bring the group’s PIR debut, I Miss You, which contains among its songs the indelible “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and the Thom Bell-arranged title track. Three single edits and a live version of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” round out its four bonus tracks. This album is better-known by its eponymous title of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, but Big Break’s edition restores the original title and artwork. Both titles’ liner notes draw from a new interview with ace Philly arranger Bobby Eli.

Also on October 11, BBR releases the latest in its Three Degrees series, which previously has seen the trio’s PIR debut and a post-PIR effort for Ariola (New Dimensions) both restored to print. International was the group’s second album for Gamble and Huff’s label, and while known on its original U.K. release by the title of its hit single “Take Good Care of Yourself,” it is restored for this edition to its original name. The CD features six bonus tracks making it truly International: five foreign language versions from the rare Japanese version of the album (including a song sung in French but released only in Japan!) and a great Tom Moulton remix of “TSOP.”

Another singer with a Philly connection, Deniece Williams, finds her When Love Comes Calling (CDBBR0017) reissued, following BBR’s expansion last month of Songbird (CDBBR0009). This 1979 album was originally released on Maurice White’s ARC label, with Williams embracing disco head-on under the supervision of producers David Foster and Ray Parker, Jr. Bonus tracks include two rare disco remixes and one single edit. Evelyn “Champagne” King is another name hallowed in dance circles. Her 1977 RCA debut Smooth Talk (CDBBR0015) follows the label’s reissue of 1980’s Get Loose (CDBBR0006) and includes smash hits “Shame” and “I Don’t Know If It’s Right.” Both songs are heard three times on this expanded reissue, including each original album version, 12” disco remix and the single edit. Yet more names familiar to Philly soul fans appear on Smooth Talk: Dexter Wansel, Bunny Sigler and Don Renaldo, while Teddy Pendergrass (of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes!) actually co-wrote one song, “Dancin’, Dancin’, Dancin’.”

Williams and King aren’t the only disco survivors to reappear on Big Break this fall. A Taste of Honey, the hitmakers behind “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” will have their first two LPs expanded on October 25: 1978’s self-titled debut LP (CDBBR0016) now contains three different mixes of “Boogie.” 1979’s second album, accurately named Another Taste (CDBBR0019), didn’t produce another big hit but carries the same exciting sound as the first set, with both produced by Fonce Mizell and Larry Mizell. Another Taste offers alternate versions of “I Love You” and “Do It Good” as bonus material.

Earth Wind & Fire had much success in the disco and funk fields, and the group remains active today and still a perennial on the summer concert circuit. BBR has unearthed the horn-driven group’s 1980 double-LP, Faces (CDBBR0014), for release on September 27. Despite being released in arguably the group’s prime, Faces has long been lost; Big Break rectifies this with an expanded edition. Faces gains three bonus tracks: single mixes of “You” (which went Top 10 R&B) and “And Love Goes On,” and the 12” remix of “Let Me Talk.”

Finally, fellow Cherry Red label Superbird offers a much sought-after album by a true legend of the soul, R&B and disco genres: Van McCoy. While McCoy may today be best-remembered for “The Hustle,” his 1975 dance craze, his CV was actually one of the most impressive in popular music, making him far more than just a one-hit wonder. After penning singles for Gladys Knight and The Pips, Brenda and The Tabulations, Ruby and The Romantics, Jackie Wilson, Barbara Lewis and others, Columbia signed McCoy for a solo LP, hoping to mold the soulful singer/producer/songwriter into a crooner of the Johnny Mathis style. Mathis had recently defected to Mercury, and so Columbia’s Mitch Miller brought McCoy into the studio in 1966 for Night Time is Lonely Time (SBIRD0032CD). On the September 27 release, you’ll hear McCoy’s smooth renditions of standards like “How High the Moon,” “I Get Along Without You Very Well” and Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” but he also recorded a few of his own compositions. Premier string arranger Glenn Osser, who had worked with Mathis, provided the same duty for McCoy’s long player. Night Time is Lonely Time has long been unavailable; while squarely aimed at the “adult” record market of 1966, it’s nonetheless a missing link worth seeking out for fans of the multi-faceted McCoy’s more soulful endeavors. (His career as a writer/producer has been anthologized by Ace on The Sweetest Feeling: A Van McCoy Songbook 1962-1973 and the label promises another volume in its stellar McCoy series soon.)

All Big Break titles can be pre-ordered directly from the label here, while Superbird’s Van McCoy reissue can be pre-ordered here. Like all Cherry Red titles, however, they can also be ordered from the usual suspects!  Hit the jump for full track listings and discographical information for each title. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 17, 2010 at 10:01

…And These ARE the Contents of the CHIC Box Set

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Hot off the presses, folks. Thanks to super-reader RoyalScam for the tip back in this post. Hit the jump for some good times!

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 17, 2010 at 09:16