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Archive for May 11th, 2011

The Seventies Preservation Society: Audio Fidelity Revisits Bad Company and Ten Years After

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Audio Fidelity is getting back to the basics of classic rock with two upcoming 24k Gold CD reissues scheduled for May 24. Mastering engineer Steve Hoffman will work the controls for both 1971’s A Space in Time from Ten Years After and 1975’s Straight Shooter from Bad Company. While these two albums may not share much on the surface, both albums represent a return to back-to-basics blues-rock from two successful British bands.

1971’s A Space in Time was the seventh album by Ten Years After,and the band’s first to be released on the Columbia label in America. (Chrysalis handled distribution in the U.K.) With their smoking performance at Woodstock in August 1969 still resonating with the public, A Space in Time caught the band at the peak of its powers, and it remains guitarist/vocalist/lead songwriter Alvin Lee’s favorite album. Lee, Chick Churchill (keyboards), Leo Lyons (bass) and Rick Lee (drums) created a largely acoustic album, but it manages to include those crunchy blues-rock riffs that made the band famous. “I’d Love to Change the World,” the band’s biggest hit, is included here, along with the folk-styled “Here They Come,” the early rock-and-roll homage “Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock ‘n’ Roll You” and the psychedelic “Let the Sky Fall.” Riding the success of single “I’d Love to Change the World,” A Space in Time is the best-selling album of Ten Years After’s career. Most of the cuts on the album are tight, leading it to have a more “pop” feel than some of the band’s other work. But “Uncle Jam” is present, credited to all of the band members, reminding listeners that few jammed better than Ten Years After.

Bad Company emerged onto the scene in 1974 on Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label, a true British supergroup: Free’s Paul Rodgers on vocals and rhythm guitar and Simon Kirke on drums, King Crimson’s Boz Burrell on bass and Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople on guitar.  “Can’t Get Enough” and “Movin’ On” off the band’s self-titled debut both became radio hits and the LP itself hit pole position. Hopes were naturally high for the follow-up, and Bad Company more than delivered with Straight Shooter. The album’s first two tracks, “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love” both were released as singles, with the former going to No. 36 and the latter all the way to No. 10. Like Ten Years After, Bad Company had its roots in blues-rock, and Straight Shooter shows the supergroup at its stripped-down, hard-rocking best.

Hit the jump for the track listings, pre-order links and more!

Neither release contains bonus tracks, and both titles are limited, numbered editions.  Audio Fidelity remastered Bad Company’s debut in 2006, and that disc now commands collectors’ prices, so now might be the time to order!  A Space in Time and Straight Shooter are due in stores from Audio Fidelity on May 24.

Ten Years After, A Space in Time (Columbia 30801, reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ112, 2011)

  1. One of These Days
  2. Here They Come
  3. I’d Love to Change the World
  4. Over the Hill
  5. Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock ‘n’ Roll You
  6. Once There Was a Time
  7. Let the Sky Fall
  8. Hard Monkeys
  9. I’ve Been There Too
  10. Uncle Jam

Bad Company, Straight Shooter (Swan Song SS 8413, reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ117, 2011)

  1. Good Lovin’ Gone Bad
  2. Feel Like Makin’ Love
  3. Weep No More
  4. Shooting Star
  5. Deal with the Preacher
  6. Wild Fire Woman
  7. Anna
  8. Call On Me

Written by Joe Marchese

May 11, 2011 at 11:21

A Quartet of Broadway Classics Coming From Masterworks

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Back on April 5, we filled you in on the latest slate of reissues from Sony’s Masterworks Broadway division, available as digital downloads or discs-on-demand from Arkiv Music. Next week, May 17, sees release of RCA Victor’s 1964 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Recording of Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow, making its very first appearance in the CD age. The classic operetta is joined by four new releases returning to print: the Original Broadway Cast Recordings of Irving Berlin’s Mr. President and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg’s The Happiest Girl in the World, as well as the 1964 New York World’s Fair Cast Recording of To Broadway, With Love, and the 1957 Studio Recording of Brigadoon, starring Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones.

The reissue of the 1964 Music Theater of Lincoln Center Recording of The Merry Widow features American soprano and Metropolitan Opera star Patrice Munsel singing the title role, while the supporting cast includes Bob Wright, Joan Weldon and Frank Poretta. They are joined by Oscar nominee Mischa Auer (My Man Godfrey) and Tony nominee Sig Arno (Time Remembered). The operetta by Franz Lehar debuted in Vienna in 1905 (where else?) and made its Broadway debut two years later at the New Amsterdam Theatre, today home to Disney’s Mary Poppins. The Merry Widow remained a staple of the operetta repertoire, receiving regular New York revivals through the 1940s. Produced by Richard Rodgers, whose musical theatre innovations ironically led to operettas falling out of favor, The Merry Widow was conducted by Franz Allers (My Fair Lady, Camelot).

Though written in 1961, The Happiest Girl in the World has an operetta connection. Fred Saidy and Henry Mayers’ book was based on Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata, and Yip Harburg (The Wizard of Oz, Finian’s Rainbow) adapted the score from the music of operetta favorite Jacques Offenbach. Cyril Ritchard (Captain Hook opposite Mary Martin’s Peter Pan) both directed and starred, and a young Lainie Kazan appeared. The Happiest Girl told the familiar story of the women of Sparta and Greece who, inspired by the goddess Diana, vow to withhold sex from their husbands until they promise to end their violence. Diana’s uncle, the underworld leader Pluto, expectedly balks at the idea of peace and sets out to defeat her. Despite Harburg’s typical wit and the musical’s satire on the battle of the sexes, an Offenbach operetta wasn’t a theatregoer’s priority in 1961, and the show closed after 98 performances.

To Broadway with Love is the true curiosity of the bunch. The brainchild of Angus G. Wynne, Jr. (also the founder of Six Flags), the musical revue debuted in a specially-built 2,400-seat theatre at the Texas Pavilion of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. Ostensibly a salute to Broadway musicals, To Broadway with Love had a top-notch creative team. Morton DaCosta of The Music Man directed, and Donald Saddler (Wonderful Town, No, No, Nanette) choreographed. Original musical material was provided by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the famed composer and lyricist of Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me and the Pulitzer-Prize winning Fiorello! The musical wasn’t a success, closing after only 97 performances at the Fair. Some blame the fact that the show had a separate admission fee, others that it simply cost too much ($1,250,000.00). Perhaps the show offered too little Broadway, desipte its title. The 1940s are represented by six numbers (“There’s No Business Like Show Business” and a shortened “Carousel Waltz” among them), the 1930s by one song, “F.D.R. Jones” from Sing out the News. The 1920s, 1950s, and 1960s are represented by nothing at all, hardly an enticement to audience members hoping to hear their favorite songs onstage. Thanks to Columbia’s cast recording, though, the five original songs by Bock and Harnick live on.

1962’s Mr. President marked Irving Berlin’s final score for the musical stage, and the production starring Robert Ryan and Nanette Fabray eked out a respectable 265 performances before folding.  President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie actually attended the musical during its Washington, DC tryout, but the Kennedy association with another musical, Camelot, proved more lasting! Berlin’s score offers some rousing songs, however, including the patriotic anthem that closes the show, “This is a Great Country.” Hopes were so high that RCA even recorded a studio cast album with Perry Como, Kaye Ballard and Sandy Stewart singing Berlin’s score with Philip J. Lang’s orchestrations!  (There’s my vote for an upcoming Masterworks reissue!)  A far stronger score can be heard on the 1957 Studio Cast Recording of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s Brigadoon. Cassidy and Jones never sounded better than on this Goddard Lieberson-produced set, bringing to life such timeless songs as “Almost Like Being In Love,” “Come to Me, Bend to Me” and “The Heather on the Hill.” Susan Johnson and Portia Nelson make memorable appearances, too.

Hit the jump for track listings and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 11, 2011 at 10:01