The Second Disc

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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.

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, I Miss You (Philadelphia International LP KZ-31648, 1972 – reissued Big Break CDBBR0018, 2010)

  1. I Miss You
  2. Ebony Woman
  3. Yesterday  I Had the Blues
  4. If You Don’t Know Me by Now
  5. Be for Real
  6. Let Me Into Your World
  7. Let It Be You
  8. I Miss You (Part 1) (Single Version) (Philadelphia International ZS7-3516, 1972)
  9. Yesterday I Had the Blues (Single Version) (Philadelpha International ZS7-3525, 1972)
  10. Be for Real (Single Version) (Philadelphia International ZS8-3569, 1975)
  11. If You Don’t Know Me by Now (Live)

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Black & Blue (Philadelphia International LP KZ-32407, 1973 – reissued Big Break CDBBR0013, 2010)

  1. Cabaret
  2. The Love I Lost
  3. It All Depends on You
  4. Concentrate on Me
  5. Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)
  6. Is There a Place for Me
  7. I’m Weak for You
  8. I’m Comin’ Home Tomorrow
  9. The Love I Lost (Part 1) (Single Version) (Philadelphia International ZS7-3533, 1973)
  10. I’m Weak for You (Single Version) (Philadelpha International ZS7-3543, 1973)

Three Degrees, International (Philadelphia International LP KZ-33162, 1975 – reissued Big Break CDBBR0020, 2010)

  1. Another Heartache
  2. Take Good Care of Yourself
  3. Get Your Love Back
  4. Lonelier Are Fools
  5. Distant Lover
  6. Together
  7. Long Lost Lover
  8. Here I Am
  9. TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)
  10. Loving Cup
  11. La Chanson Populaire
  12. Somos Novios (It’s Impossible)
  13. Nigai Nimida
  14. When Will I See You Again (Japanese Version)
  15. Midnight Train (Sekai No Koibito Surii Diguriizu)
  16. TSOP (Tom Moulton Disco Remix) (Philadelphia International 4Z8-3711, 1979)

Tracks 11-15 from Philadelphia International/CBS LP ECPO-10-PH, Japan only

Deniece Williams, When Love Comes Calling (ARC/Columbia 35568, 1979 – reissued Big Break CDBBR0017, 2010)

  1. I Found Love
  2. Are You Thinking
  3. My Prayer
  4. I’ve Got the Next Dance
  5. Touch Me Again
  6. When Love  Comes Calling
  7. God Knows
  8. Like Magic
  9. Turn Around
  10. Why Can’t We Fall in Love
  11. I’ve Got the Next Dance (Single Version) (ARC/Columbia 3-10971, 1979)
  12. I Found Love (12” Disco Remix) (ARC/Columbia 43-11141, 1979)
  13. I’ve Got the Next Dance (12” Disco Remix) (ARC/Columbia 23-10991, 1979)

Evelyn “Champagne” King, Smooth Talk (RCA Victor APL1-2466, 1977 – reissued Big Break CDBBR0015, 2010)

  1. Smooth Talk
  2. I Don’t Know If It’s Right
  3. ‘Til I Come Off the Road
  4. Dancin’, Dancin’, Dancin’
  5. Shame
  6. Nobody Knows
  7. We’re Going to a Party
  8. The Show is Over
  9. Shame (12” Disco Remix) (RCA Victor PD-11213, 1977)
  10. I Don’t Know If It’s Right (12” Disco Remix) (RCA Victor PD-11415, 1977)
  11. Shame (Single Version) (RCA Victor PB-11122, 1977)
  12. I Don’t Know If It’s Right (Single Version) (RCA Victor PB-11386, 1977)

A Taste of Honey, A Taste of Honey (Capitol ST-11754, 1978 – reissued Big Break CDBBR0016, 2010)

  1. Boogie Oogie Oogie
  2. This Love of Ours
  3. Distant
  4. World Spin
  5. Disco Dancin’
  6. You
  7. If We Loved
  8. Sky High
  9. You’re in Good Hands
  10. Boogie Oogie Oogie (Single Version) (Capitol 4565, 1978)
  11. Disco Dancin’ (12” Disco Remix) (Capitol  8507, 1978)
  12. Boogie Oogie Oogie (12” John Luongo ‘New Boogie Mix’) (Capitol SPRO-9189, 1984)

A Taste of Honey, Another Taste (Capitol SOO-11951, 1979 – reissued Big Break CDBBR0019, 2010)

  1. Do It Good
  2. The Rainbow’s End
  3. Dance
  4. I Love You
  5. Race
  6. Let’s Begin
  7. Take the Boogie or Leave It
  8. Your Love
  9. Do It Good (Alternate Version) (possibly Capitol S-95771, 1979)
  10. I Love You (Alternate Version) (possibly Capitol S-95771, 1979)

Earth Wind & Fire, Faces (ARC/Columbia KC2-36795, 1980 – reissued Big Break CDBBR0014, 2010)

  1. Let Me Talk
  2. Turn It Into Something Good
  3. Pride
  4. You
  5. Sparkle
  6. Back on the Road
  7. Song in My Heart
  8. You Went Away
  9. And Love Goes On
  10. Sailaway
  11. Take It to the Sky
  12. Win or Lose
  13. Share Your Love
  14. In Time
  15. Faces
  16. Let Me Talk (12” Remix) (CBS 12 8982, 1980)
  17. You (Single Version) (ARC/Columbia 11407)
  18. And Love Goes On (Single Version) (ARC/Columbia 11434, 1980)

Van McCoy, Night Time is Lonely Time (Columbia 2497, 1966 – reissued Superbird CD SBIRD0032, 2010)

  1. Night Time is Lonely Time
  2. My Reverie
  3. You Were My First Love
  4. How High the Moon
  5. I Can Dream, Can’t I
  6. The House That Love Built
  7. Through a Long and Sleepless Night
  8. A Young Fool in Love
  9. I’ll Close My Eyes
  10. I Get Along Without You Very Well
  11. Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye

Written by Joe Marchese

September 17, 2010 at 10:01

3 Responses

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  1. “Faces” is one of my favorite EW&F albums! Should have been huge. The US Columbia CD sounds excellent, but I might have to check this one out.

    How has the mastering been on the PIR stuff being released by Cherry Red? Cause Esdel UK has done an excellent job on the post-1976 releases they’ve done. I was hoping they would get the pre-1976 stuff too.


    September 17, 2010 at 19:27

    • While there have been conflicting opinions about the sound quality of BBR’s Gloria Gaynor reissues, I was quite pleased with the label’s job on the Three Degrees’ self-titled album. Though not a PIR release, BBR’s Odyssey reissue definitely sounds good to these ears, too. In addition, the packages (in super jewel cases for the first 1000 copies pressed) have detailed liner notes to compare favorably with Tony Rounce’s excellent notes for Edsel, and the design is top-notch.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve been really pleased with BBR’s work so far, and I’m looking forward to this upcoming batch…lots of great titles. Can’t wait for “Faces,” either!

      Joe Marchese

      September 18, 2010 at 10:30

  2. “Faces” deserves a second look. From 1979 to 1982, the record biz was in a depression. Thus “Faces” was a double album in a single album world.


    September 28, 2010 at 22:25

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