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Archive for March 8th, 2011

Experience Hendrix/Legacy, Round 3

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Mark your calendars, Hendrix fans: another batch of Experience Hendrix/Legacy reissues are coming your way.

Next month, Legacy will reissue three more titles in the Hendrix catalogue. The first is South Saturn Delta, a 1997 outtakes compilation first released during Experience Hendrix’s partnership with MCA. That set, which featured plenty of sought-after outtakes in a more official context, will be pressed onto compact disc as well as vinyl. Then there’s a DVD reissue of Hendrix’s January 1, 1970 performance at New York’s Fillmore East with Band of Gypsys. This set, which won a Grammy in 1999, was famously captured on record in 1970 and was added to the EH/Legacy catalogue last year in Europe. The DVD includes a 5.1 surround sound mix by Eddie Kramer, Hendrix’s engineer, and interviews with famous fans and band members.

The most exciting release, though, has to be the out-of-print tribute album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Originally released in 2004, the set features new and old covers of Hendrix’s tunes from a diverse group of acts, including Sting, Prince, Cee-Lo Green, Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

There are also some Record Store Day goodies to expect from Experience Hendrix, as outlined in this press release. While all of the titles have been previously released, it’s nice to see them all back in print. They’re out April 12, and more info can be found after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 8, 2011 at 16:07

Reissue Theory: R.E.M., From Start to Finish

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. With a new R.E.M. LP in stores today, we think about something that’s missing from their extensive discography: a full, career-spanning compilation.

Today is the day that R.E.M.’s fourteenth studio LP, Collapse Into Now, hits stores. I haven’t bought it yet myself, but I have been keeping the Athens, Georgia-based rock icons in heavy rotation today; their lengthy, Rock and Rall Hall of Fame-inducted catalogue is full of plenty of strong moments. (I’m also particularly looking forward to our good friend Slicing Up Eyeballs’ hour-long tribute on their Strangeways Radio show tonight.)

Now, you probably know this, but R.E.M. are one of those acts that have been around long enough to have had a spot on several label rosters. From 1982 to 1987, the band were contracted to Miles Copeland’s I.R.S. Records, whose catalogue in turn is distributed through several majors (the deluxe editions of albums from 1983 to 1984 are distributed through Universal, and everything afterward is distributed through EMI/Capitol). In 1988, R.E.M. switched to a major for the first time, signing to Warner Bros. and staying with them through Collapse Into Now. (R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills recently told Billboard that their contract is currently fulfilled with the new record, but did not hint as to whether or not the band would re-sign, go indie or migrate elsewhere.)

While there are two pretty darn good introductions to each era of the band on CD – 2003’s Warner-era In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 and 2006’s And I Feel Fine: The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 – there has yet to be a set that joins the best of both eras together on one set. In honor of Collapse Into Now, we humbly present today’s Reissue Theory: a theoretical compilation that covers the hits (and a few rarities) on one disc. Bear in mind this isn’t meant to be anywhere near comprehensive (probably not unlike how a real label would do it) – some really enjoyable tracks, rather than hits, have been thrown in, along with a few soundtrack and compilation appearances.

Talk about the passion after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 8, 2011 at 15:34

Posted in Compilations, Features, Reissues, REM

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Is Billy Squier’s Latest Your Kinda Compilation?

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Billy Squier fans who wore out their copies of 16 Strokes (1995) or Absolute Hits (2005) now have a new compilation opportunity at the end of the month.

Essential Billy Squier takes 15 of the singer/guitarist’s best cuts, spanning from 1980’s Tale of the Tape to 1993’s Tell the Truth. All the usual suspects are here, including U.S. Mainstream Rock chart-toppers “Everybody Wants You” and “Rock Me Tonite”; the latter-day hit “Don’t Say You Love Me” and of course Squier’s endearing single “The Stroke.”

There’s no word on any new packaging details or remastering (a 30th anniversary edition of Don’t Say No was released last year), but we do have a track listing, yours to read after the jump. Essential Billy Squier is out March 29. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 8, 2011 at 14:01

Review: Neil Diamond, “The Bang Years 1966-1968”

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When it comes to Neil Diamond, I’m a believer. There’s not a trace of doubt in my mind that Diamond burst onto the scene at the right time – not necessarily the night time, though I, too, thank the lord for it. No, Diamond made a big noise in the corridors of Bang Records in the period between 1966 and 1968, an era when the music business was experiencing change more rapidly than anyone could have predicted. And it was far from predictable that the somber and intense young man pictured on The Feel of Neil Diamond would one day graduate to glitter shirts and stadium anthems, but that’s just what happened. In those two years, Diamond found his voice, abandoning his self-described “sophomoric, derivative and mundane rock ‘n’ roll songs” for deeply personal, sensitive, and yes, dramatic statements wrapped in radio-friendly packages. Today’s eagerly-awaited release of The Bang Years: 1966-1968 (Columbia/Legacy 88697 85331-2) is the first comprehensive anthology of the soon-to-be Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s earliest work, and this splendid album has indeed been worth the wait. It collects 23 examples from the brief, fertile period when Neil Diamond became the first Brill Building songwriter to reach the very summit of superstardom.

The songs on The Bang Years are the cornerstone of a recording career that endures to the present day, and all are presented in their original mono mixes, many for the first time on CD. A great number are still familiar today; the four tracks “Solitary Man,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” and “Kentucky Woman” merely comprise the opening salvo. The May 1966 single release of “Solitary Man” was Diamond’s breakthrough, even as he was on the cusp of scoring hits (“I’m a Believer” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” both for The Monkees) via his original career path, strictly as a songwriter. As his first Bang single, “Solitary Man” defined Diamond’s persona via an introspective and personal lyric which anticipated the singer/songwriter movement. The singer of “Solitary Man” is honest and conversational (“Then Sue came along/Loved me strong/Well, that’s what I thought…”) in admitting his failures, but defiantly assured (“Don’t know that I will but until I can find me/A girl that will stay and won’t play games behind me/I’ll be what I am, a solitary man”). The melody was instantly memorable and the arrangement just a touch dangerous, with the guitar-and-brass combination adding a potent edge. The artist’s acoustic guitar enhances “Solitary Man” and most of the songs on The Bang Years; his guitar sound is so recognizable that one can see why producer Rick Rubin encouraged Diamond to pick up the instrument again and reconnect with his roots for 2005’s acclaimed, back-to-basics 12 Songs. Bob Dylan had afforded rock lyrical freedom, and Diamond took advantage of that liberty while embracing traditional craft. Surely this melding of styles was encouraged by his producers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, the “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Be My Baby” songwriters who had taken him under their wing.

“Cherry, Cherry” followed “Solitary Man”, as joyful as its predecessor was dark, and its Top 10 chart placement saw that Diamond was off and running. One of the abundant joys of The Bang Years is rediscovering these rock and roll songs, listening to them in their originally-intended mono. When Diamond sings “Talk about money, girl…I ain’t got any!” in the exuberant “Thank the Lord for the Night Time,” it’s direct and believable. (There’s a fun image in the booklet of a check from BMI made payable to Diamond in December 1966.  It’s in the amount of 43 cents!) Diamond felt the key was speaking from an “open and honest” place about his “own life and experiences,” and his songs bore this out. As Diamond’s songs became more personal, they consequently became more universal. His individuality was unique among the Brill Building group of masters, and it would serve him well in the future; hits like “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “I Am, I Said” were as idiosyncratic as these formative compositions.

There are some songs better-known by other artists. There’s, of course, “I’m a Believer,” but also “The Boat That I Row” which was popularized by Lulu, and “Red, Red Wine,” belatedly turned into a mega-hit by UB40. Then The Bang Years offers a handful of cover versions. There’s an endearing “Monday, Monday” which Diamond begins with his gentle humming, and a straight-ahead version of Paul Simon’s “Red Rubber Ball.” (Perhaps Simon will thank him for the cover when he inducts Diamond into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next week!) Diamond even tackled mentor/producers Greenwich and Barry’s “Hanky Panky,” attempting to salvage the nonsensical lyric with a stab at humor. Unsurprisingly, this remains the weakest track on the set.

Many listeners will undoubtedly be discovering the lesser-known songs for the first time. “Do It,” the original B-side to “Solitary Man,” is a slight ballad built around a piano figure. “I’ll Come Running” is another earnest slow-burner, but better is “The Long Way Home,” with a big, killer chorus. The moody “You’ll Forget” (“You’ll forget that you love me/And you’ll stop thinking of me/You’ll forget what you feel right now/But how?”) stands out for its organ part. “Love to Love,” also recorded by The Monkees, is smashing early Diamond in familiar mode with a “Solitary Man”-style arrangement and an oddly affected vocal. The final track on The Bang Years led Neil Diamond to begin a new chapter in his career. Read about it after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 8, 2011 at 12:54

Posted in Compilations, Neil Diamond, Reissues, Reviews

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Intrada Premieres Scores for “Flying Machines,” “Wrongfully Accused”

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Intrada’s first releases for March involve two premiere score releases from two very different eras – a roadshow flick from the ’60s and an action satire from the late ’90s.

First up is Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, a 1965 ensemble comedy from England starring luminaries including Benny Hill, Terry-Thomas and Red Skelton. Ron Goodwin’s light, poppy theme went on to have some success as a pop single, although the resultant album was an odd one, featuring music and dialogue in either mono or stereo offerings – although on either release, the music was monaural! This release, limited to 2,000 copies, presents the complete, expansive roadshow version of the score in stereo from the original session elements at 20th Century Fox.

And then there’s Wrongfully Accused, a satirical take on The Fugitive written and directed by Pat Proft (co-writer of the Naked Gun and Hot Shots! films). Despite the broad parody throughout the film, Bill Conti – he of the Rocky franchise – delivers a straight action score with a distinctive, malleable theme. The complete score, released for the first time, is limited to 1,500 copies.

Both sets are available now; order links and track lists are after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 8, 2011 at 10:23

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Release Round-Up: Week of March 8

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Billy Joel, Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert (Columbia/Legacy)

The best of the Shea Stadium farewell shows on two CDs and a DVD or Blu-Ray. Not my favorite Joel show, but it’s now yours for the buying. (Official site)

Neil Diamond, The Bang Years 1966-1968 (Columbia/Legacy)

Two Bang LPs (and one non-album single) on a nicely put-together disc – hopefully the first of many deserved tributes to the Solitary Man on the eve of his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. (Official site)

Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water: 40th Anniversary Edition (Columbia/Legacy)

The folk duo’s studio swan song, presented with a previously unissued concert special and making-of documentary on DVD. (Official site)

Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley’s Beach Party (Hip-o Select)

Bo knows live music, and this long out-of-print concert proves it. (Hip-o Select)

Elvis Presley, Elvis is Back! Legacy Edition (RCA/Legacy)

Two Elvis LPs (Elvis is Back! and Something for Everyone) and a handful of single sides on a fresh two-disc set. (Official site)

Traffic, John Barleycorn Must Die: Deluxe Edition (Island/UMe)

An expanded edition of the seminal Traffic reunion album, with a bonus disc of unreleased studio work and previously released live material. (Amazon)

Rainbow, Down to Earth: Deluxe Edition / Rising: Deluxe Edition (Polydor/UMe)

Recently released in the U.K., these two Rainbow albums – featuring the guitar of Ritchie Blackmore and the vocals of Ronnie James Dio – are metal classics. And now they’re expanded with tons of rare and unreleased content. (Amazon: Down to Earth, Rising)

Serge Gainsbourg, Integrale (Universal U.K.)

The latest in imported megaboxes: a 20-disc collection of material from the late French singer-songwriter. (Amazon U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

March 8, 2011 at 08:24