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Archive for May 3rd, 2011

“Lifes Rich Pageant” Gets Richer for 25th Anniversary

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It’s always good to see a band focusing on their catalogue while they’re still putting out fresh, new music. This year, R.E.M. is one of the acts to have a foot in both camps, releasing their 15th studio album, Collapse Into Now, in March, and will release another 25th anniversary edition of an album this summer, with Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) getting the deluxe treatment from EMI/Capitol.

R.E.M.’s fourth LP, which was produced by Don Gehman (producer of John Mellencamp’s ’80s hit records), was an eco-socially conscious affair (“Fall on Me,” “Cuyahoga”) with one of the band’s most enduring early favorites, a cover of The Clique’s “Superman.” Peaking at No. 21 on the Billboard charts, it was the Athens, GA-based band’s highest-charting effort yet. It was also their first gold record, moving over 500,000 copies upon release.

While Lifes Rich Pageant was expanded outside of America along with the band’s other I.R.S. output, the recent string of 25th anniversary editions feature entirely unreleased bonus material, and this set is no different. A bonus disc includes 19 demos recorded in Athens in early 1986, featuring unreleased early versions of not only the songs from the original LP but songs that would be recorded between one year later (“March Song” would later become “King of Birds” on Document) and 17 years forward (“All the Right Friends” and “Bad Day”). One tune, “Wait,” has never been released in any official capacity.

Featuring lift-top packaging with an enclosed poster and postcards (the go-to approach for EMI’s deluxe editions of late) and new liner notes by writer Parke Puterbaugh, the deluxe Pageant will be available on July 12. Hit the jump for the full track list and a pre-order link.

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Written by Mike Duquette

May 3, 2011 at 20:17

Posted in News, R.E.M., Reissues

Review: Loudon Wainwright III, “40 Odd Years”

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Lucky for us, Loudon Wainwright III is only “so damn happy” on an infrequent basis.   The singer-songwriter-humorist-satirist-actor (is that enough of a multi-hyphenate for you?) posited the question “Is it necessary to feel like shit in order to be creative?” He arrived at the final answer “yes!” but prefaced it with “unless you’re J.S. Bach.” Over the course of 91 songs on four CDs and another 38-plus on DVD, Shout! Factory’s new box set 40 Odd Years (82663-12189, 2011) – dig the double meaning of that title! – invites listeners on a journey through the singular world of the thankfully malcontented Wainwright.  What does such a trip entail?  Prepare yourself for songs alternately emotional and humorous (and frequently both!) reflecting on the subject’s favorite themes: childhood, parents, children, booze, death, the passage of time, and of course, show business.

40 Odd Years accomplishes one of the rarest feats of all, as it’s suitable for both the new fan seeking an entrée into the artist’s catalogue and the diehard looking for unheard rarities.  All phases of Wainwright’s body of work are covered, beginning with 1970’s self-titled debut for Atlantic Records and ending with 2009’s High Wide and Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project.  Even after taking in all 91 audio tracks, though, the question remains: Who is Loudon Wainwright III?  The artist abbreviated as LW3 has sometimes been compared to Randy Newman, and like Newman, had his biggest commercial success with an atypical song.  (For Newman, it’s the oft-misunderstood “Short People,” while Wainwright’s success came via the novelty-style “Dead Skunk.”)  But whereas Newman’s songs are almost exclusively sung in character, usually by a deviant of one stripe or another, Wainwright’s character is most often his own.

Upon the release of that 1970 debut, he was hailed as a “new Dylan.”  But who, then, wasn’t?  The comparison isn’t completely off-the-mark, given Loudon’s pinched, somewhat nasal voice as he accompanied himself on acoustic guitar.  But the lyrical content of Wainwright’s songs couldn’t be more far-removed from the favorite son of Hibbing, Minnesota.  Having been born to an affluent family (his father wrote the column “The View From Here” in Life) and raised in a New York suburb, Wainwright hailed from a different place.  Liza Minnelli was even a classmate of his!  In his terrific 2004 speech “My Cool Life: The Singer-Songwriter as Autobiographer” (reprinted in 40 Odd Years’ booklet), Wainwright name-checks classic Broadway songwriting teams, and in fact, he signed as a young songwriter to Frank Music, the publishing firm owned by Frank Loesser of Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying fame.  (It’s now owned by Paul McCartney.)  His understanding of the classic Tin Pan Alley and Broadway songwriting idiom is reflected in the considered structure and craft of his songs.  But the siren song of the burgeoning hippie and folk movements also called to Wainwright, a professed fan of Leadbelly, Tom Lehrer, Hank Williams and Louis Prima.  Talk about diverse influences!

The Shout! box covers those 40 odd years in chronological order, and adds one disc of unreleased and rare material as well as a 3+ hour DVD that may be the most comprehensive “bonus DVD” yet in a box set of this kind. Hit the jump to find out how well 40 Odd Years represents the music of a true eccentric, Loudon Wainwright III. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 3, 2011 at 13:45

More Intrada Obscurities Arrive

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This week’s soundtrack reissues from Intrada are an underrated ’70s soundtrack album making its CD debut and the premiere of a ’50s World War II score.

First up, the score to Sleuth, a 1972 film adaptation of the Tony-winning play by Anthony Shaffer. The British playwright adapted his own work for the screen, and All About Eve director Joseph L. Mankiewicz was at the helm, with a stellar cast anchored by Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, both of whom were nominated for Oscars for their performances. The score, written by John Addison (who wrote the award-winning scores for Tom Jones and A Bridge Too Far), was also an Oscar nominee, and the baroque-styled music received its own LP (with added dialogue) on Columbia Records. That presentation has been remastered from the original album tapes and makes its CD debut, 1,500 copies strong.

Also from the label this week is the score to Destination Gobi, a 1953 WWII picture scored by Sol Kaplan. Though Kaplan is perhaps known better for his work for the small screen (two early scores to the original Star Trek series were tracked endlessly throughout subsequent episodes) – not to mention his status as one of those blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee – his film score work has recently enjoyed a greater reception from the indie soundtrack labels, and this score – a rousing affair conducted by 20th Century Fox’s Alfred Newman – is presented in pristine mono from the original 35mm optical elements, with seven bonus tracks included (one alternate take and six cues in stereo). This set is limited to 1,000 copies.

Both albums can be ordered from the label; links and discographical info is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

May 3, 2011 at 11:24

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

UPDATE: Don’t “Walk Away”: Left Banke Reissues Coming from Sundazed on June 28

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Today, The Left Banke is probably best known for “Walk Away Renee.” A No. 5 pop hit in 1966, the song has been recorded by The Four Tops, Frankie Valli, Linda Ronstadt and Eric Carmen, to name a few, and remains a staple of oldies radio today. But was The Left Banke a mere flash in the pan, just a one-hit wonder? Far from it. Yet things have been stacked against the group for quite a while now: neither of their two original Smash LPs has ever seen CD release in America, and the definitive CD-era anthology There’s Gonna Be a Storm, produced by Bill Inglot and annotated by Andrew Sandoval, was released in 1992 (Mercury 848 095-2), only to disappear thereafter. It today commands high prices in the second-hand market. Luckily, Sundazed Music has come along to remind us that there was much more to The Left Banke than that one irresistible song. On June 28, the label will reissue Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina and The Left Banke Too in their original stereo mixes, on both 180-gram vinyl and CD, reminding listeners of the lush sound of this all-too-short-lived band.

The group behind “Walk Away Renee” consisted of Michael Brown, Steve Martin, George Cameron and Tom Finn. Inspired by Finn’s then-girlfriend Renee Fladen, “Walk Away Renee” was the recipient of heavy promotion from Mercury Records’ Smash division and led the vanguard of what would soon be classified as “baroque pop” – or “baroque rock” – by those who feel the need to place such labels on great music. (Certainly Mercury did, using the punning phrase “go for baroque” on record album copy!) “Renee” indeed blended a killer pop melody with complex string arrangements, as did its follow-up, “Pretty Ballerina.” This followed “Renee” into the upper reaches of the chart, going Top Fifteen in 1967. Don’t walk away; hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 3, 2011 at 10:22

Release Round-Up: Week of May 3

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Sade, The Ultimate Collection (Epic)

The sultry British soul band anthologized across two discs, featuring several brand-new tracks – the perfect teaser for their long-awaited summer tour. (Official site)

Loudon Wainwright, 40 Odd Years (Shout! Factory)

The witty singer/songwriter is anthologized across four CDs and a DVD. Check for Joe’s review later today! (Shout! Factory)

Rush, Moving Pictures: Deluxe Edition (Blu-Ray) (Mercury/UMe)

Already available at Best Buy since April, the CD/Blu-Ray edition of the classic Canadian rockers’ album makes a wider retail debut. (Official site)

The Association, And Then…Along Comes The Association! Expanded Edition (Now Sounds)

A forgotten classic of ’60s folk-pop, presented in mono for the first time since its original vinyl release and expanded with a dozen bonus cuts. Do note: this title, as well as the next three entries, have been available in the U.K. for a week and are now stocked with U.S. retailers. (Now Sounds)

Pennye Ford, Pennye Ford: Expanded Edition / Yarbrough & Peoples, Be a Winner: Expanded Edition / Loose Change, Loose Change: Expanded Edition / Tom Moulton, TJM: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

The latest slate from Big Break, featuring rare 12″ mixes and what have you. (Big Break)

The Fall, The Marshall Suite: Expanded Edition (Cherry Red)

An expanded version of the indie rockers’ techno-influenced album, expanded to three discs, featuring CD single material and rare live tracks. (Cherry Red)

Pepsi & Shirlie, All Right Now: Special Edition (Cherry Pop)

The former WHAM! backup singers’ debut album, expanded with rare single sides. (Cherry Pop)

Poison, Double Dose: Ultimate Hits (EMI/Capitol)

Do you need another Poison compilation? If so, here you are! A two-disc one. (Official site)

Barry Manilow, Duets (Arista/Legacy)

Another Manilow comp, focusing on his work with others. (Official site)

Rob Zombie, ICON (Geffen/UMe)

Oh dear, reader Don wasn’t kidding. This first came out back in 2010. This is a reissue of a reissue. The universe is clearly about to turn inside out. But…there’s a single-disc edition this time around, so…there’s that. (Amazon: 1-CD, 2-CD)

Written by Mike Duquette

May 3, 2011 at 08:57