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Archive for April 25th, 2011

It’s Motown Monday: Kent Releases The Definitive Monitors In June

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It’s Motown Monday here at The Second Disc as we’re pleased to spread the news of the latest title in Ace Records’ series of lost Motown treasures!  Previous releases have been devoted to The Satintones, The Contours and Marv Johnson, and this June will see the first-ever CD anthology dedicated to the recordings of The Monitors.  Led by future Temptation Richard Street, The Monitors released five singles on Berry Gordy’s V.I.P. and Soul labels and one LP on Soul.  Say You!: The Motown Anthology 1963-1968, on Ace’s Kent label, includes the entirety of Greetings!…We’re The Monitors (which included eight tracks already released as singles) plus two B-sides and a whopping twelve unreleased tracks directly from the Motown vaults.  The resulting set includes a version of every track released by The Monitors under that name during the group’s nearly seven-year stay at the Detroit label (i.e. every Monitors A- and B-side plus LP tracks).  Most are being reissued in stereo for the very first time.

Street, John “Maurice” Fagin, Warren Harris and Sandra Fagin (John’s wife) , a.k.a. The Monitors, began their recording life at Motown as The Majestics.  However, none of the original members of The Majestics remained by the time the group signed with Motown.  (The Majestics began recording in 1958 for the small Contour label and also recorded for Chex Records.)  “Hello, Love” was written by Street, Harris and Thelma Gordy, and was scheduled for release on V.I.P. in 1964, backed with “The Further You Look, The Less You See” written by two Motown legends, Smokey Robinson and Norman Whitfield.    Unfortunately V.I.P. 25010 never got past the test pressing stage.  The Majestics re-entered the Snakepit in 1965 to re-dub “Hello, Love” but this version was also consigned to the vault.

It wasn’t until 1966 and “Say You” that The Monitors finally received the greenlight for a released single.  (Somewhat ironically, Richard Street was a Quality Control analyst at Motown by day, seeing that only the finest records were released on the label!)  After the initial pressing, Motown learned that a white group named The Majestics had been recording on the Linda label.  And so The Monitors were born.  The 1964 “Hello, Love” saw a belated release on 2006’s The Complete Motown Singles Volume Four: 1964; the 1965 version remains unreleased.  “Hello, Love” is the only key Monitors song not included on Kent’s new CD, in either version.  “The Further You Look, The Less You See” was used as a B-side in 1968 and also appeared on The Monitors’ LP; that song is, indeed, part of the new anthology.  Greetings!…We’re the Monitors was the sole LP released by the group, and it featured a fine cover of Jay and the Techniques’ “Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music” as well as a Smokey Robinson ballad, “You Share the Blame.”

Hit the jump for more details on this new compilation plus the full track listing with discographical information and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 25, 2011 at 15:15

Review: Don Sebesky, “Giant Box”

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Why can’t jazz be populist and pure, both at the same time?  One imagines Creed Taylor asked that question when he launched CTI (Creed Taylor Incorporated) as a solo label back in 1970.  Three years earlier he had decamped from Verve and christened the CTI name as an imprint of Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ A&M Records.  At A&M, Taylor produced nearly 30 albums by such jazz greats as Wes Montgomery, Montgomery’s heir apparent George Benson, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Herbie Mann.  Taylor’s maverick plans extended beyond making jazz commercial; each album was a lavish art object, usually adorned with striking (and often provocative) photographs, many by Pete Turner. Thanks to their jacket visuals, CTI albums stood out from the rest.  Don Sebesky was the “house arranger” at the independent CTI, applying lush orchestral settings to most releases which lent them a unified sound.  (Composer and arranger Sebesky has gone on to a second career as a theatrical orchestrator, and his current projects include recreating the pop sound of the 1960s in the new musical Baby, It’s You!)

Though his name adorned countless CTI albums, Taylor also gave Sebesky the opportunity to stretch out on his own…or more accurately, with a little help from his (usual) friends.  Masterworks Jazz has just reissued Sebesky’s 1973 Giant Box (88697 86743 2, 2011) for the first time domestically on CD, and while it’s a Don Sebesky solo album by name, it’s more a meeting of some of the most remarkable names in jazz: Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, Ron Carter, Grover Washington, Jr., Paul Desmond, Jackie Cain, Roy Kral, Bob James, Airto Moreira and Milt Jackson, to name a few.

Sebesky began working with Taylor at Verve in the mid-sixties, where he crafted the orchestral arrangements on the Taylor-produced LPs for guitarist Wes Montgomery, many of which featured current pop covers not typically part of the jazz songbook.  Sebesky related that at CTI, Taylor would “take a given artist, find his commercial potential and draw in a larger audience.  So many listeners who were pop-oriented fans could come in the back door and discover jazz.”  The sprawling, eclectic Giant Box follows this mandate, and it’s a valuable entrée into the identifiable CTI sound and indeed, to jazz and fusion.  Taylor and Sebesky’s style wouldn’t win over every jazz purist, but the music they created together has held up remarkably well.

It was at Verve that Sebesky, who began his career as a trombonist, released his first solo records, both from 1968: Don Sebesky and the Jazz-Rock Syndrome and Distant Galaxy.  Both are a mixture of orchestrated jazz with pronounced pop/rock and soul overtones, and anticipate his work at CTI.  (Both albums are also very much of their time, which is far from intended as an insult.)  On the former, Sebesky tackles “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” and “You’ve Got Your Troubles,” while the latter features familiar titles like “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 25, 2011 at 13:32

Stage and Screen Classics, Reissued: “Until September” and “Camelot”

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If there’s a link between Kritzerland’s two new releases, it would have to be melody.  I’m speaking of sheer, unadulterated, romantic melody, courtesy of two of music’s finest purveyors of such themes: John Barry and Frederick Loewe.  This morning, the stage and screen specialists announced two limited edition titles of 1,000, and both are notable, indeed.  From Mr. Barry comes the 1984 score to Until September, while Mr. Loewe is represented by the first-ever CD release of the 1964 Original London Cast Album to his musical penned with Alan Jay Lerner, Camelot.  The U.K. production starred Laurence Harvey (The Manchurian Candidate) as King Arthur, the role originated by Richard Burton on Broadway.

Until September found Barry in the same lush, romantic vein he mined in films like Somewhere in Time.  While the film didn’t make waves upon its initial release, it boasts an impressive pedigree: the composer of countless James Bond films, the director of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, a star of Raiders of the Lost Ark.   The score couldn’t be more different than, say, The Knack …And How to Get It (recently reissued by Quartet Records), but Barry’s trademark gift for memorable themes is very much in evidence.  Until September follows Kritzerland’s splendid remaster of Barry’s evocative score to The Whisperers.  Here’s the full press release:

“An American In Paris named Mo misses her flight with her tour group and has become stranded in the City of Light.  She meets a debonair French banker named Xavier.  Pretty quickly he informs her he’d like to sleep with her despite the fact that he is married.  And therein lies the tale of an affair to remember and love conquers all.   Directed by Richard Marquand (fresh from directing Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi), the film stars Karen Allen as the spunky Mo Alexander, and Thierry Lhermitte as Xavier, the cocky, suave, rich, and good-looking Frenchman.  As the Gershwins wrote, who could ask for anything more?  Well, the audiences and critics of 1984, because they just weren’t buying Until September.  But eventually, on cable and video, the film found fans, fans that found the love story appealing, and the scenery irresistible.   But making the whole thing doubly appealing and irresistible is the gorgeous score by John Barry.

No one did this kind of score better than John Barry.  He’d already given the world the hyper-romantic score to Somewhere in Time, and would soon do Out of Africa, both of which spawned best-selling soundtracks.  Barry, of course, was already a legend for his James Bond scores, and had also provided classic music for any number of great films, including Séance On A Wet Afternoon, The Ipcress File, The Knack…And How To Get It, The Wrong Box, Born Free, The Whisperers, Mary, Queen of Scots, Midnight Cowboy, The Lion In Winter, Walkabout, Robin and Marian, King Kong, Body Heat, and that list doesn’t even scratch the surface.  Every cue in Until September drips with exquisite Barry melody and invention.  There is no use fighting it – just surrender, close your eyes, and let the music wash over you, its very own City Of Light.

The soundtrack to Until September has had several releases – an LP on Varese Sarabande, a CD of that album presentation on Silva Screen, and a limited edition release of the almost complete score by Intrada – the latter was an instant sellout, and many people missed out on that release.  And so we decided to make it available again in another edition of 1,000 units, so that the people who missed out would have another chance to get it, and because we wanted to honor the memory of the great John Barry with one of his most romantic and beautiful scores.  The Intrada release presented the score in film order.  To that, we decided to include the original LP sequencing, which was done by Mr. Barry, because it’s a whole different listening experience.  We have done our own remastering for this release.”

The story behind the Original London Cast Recording of Camelot follows after the jump along with track listings, discographical info and pre-order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 25, 2011 at 11:11

WE HAVE A WINNER!: Bob Dylan’s “The Other Side of the Mirror” on Blu-Ray

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The Second Disc would like to extend hearty congratulations to reader MICHAEL ELDER!  Michael is the winning entrant in our contest for The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965 on Blu-Ray, courtesy of our wonderful friends at Legacy Recordings!

Mike and I would like to extend a big “THANK YOU!” to all who entered, as well as a special thanks to those of you who had such nice things to say about The Second Disc along with your contest entries.  Your feedback is, as always, important to us, and we read each and every comment posted or emailed.  In the meantime, watch this space for future contest announcements and all of the other features you’ve come to expect from The Second Disc!

Congratulations, Michael!

Written by Joe Marchese

April 25, 2011 at 10:16