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Archive for June 14th, 2011

Review: “Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love: Motown’s Mowest Story 1971-1973”

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The sound is familiar but different.  The harmony is spellbinding if a bit woozy.  You’ve only given me a flower/I wish I had the whole bouquet… The track, led by acoustic guitar and gently funky percussion, is spare and raw.  If I should ask you for an hour/Is there a chance that you would stay/And maybe spend the day?  The falsetto is recognizable but eerily haunting.  The song is “You’re A Song (That I Can’t Sing)” performed by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons for the album Chameleon, the group’s first effort at Mowest.  It signaled a change in direction for the famed “Jersey Boys” when they crossed the country to sign with Motown’s new California-based label Mowest.  Neither the Seasons’ tenure nor the Mowest label itself would endure, but between 1971 and 1973, Mowest released roughly ten albums and nearly fifty singles.  The crème of the crop has been collected by Light in the Attic’s masters of musical esoterica on the delicious Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love: Motown’s Mowest Story 1971-1973 (LITA 064, 2011).

The 16-track anthology takes its title (and evocative cover image) from a 1972 effort by Odyssey, a band with no relation to the disco hitmakers of “Native New Yorker.”  Donnie Dacus, later a member of Chicago, played guitar alongside Don Peake for the multi-ethnic band fronted by lead vocalist Royce Jones and singer/multi-instrumentalist Kathleen Warren.  No fewer than three tracks are excerpted from Odyssey’s first and only album.  Odyssey’s tracks are melodic and soulful, but the band had a unique sound thanks to Warren’s vibraphone, C.L. Robert James’ flute and the male/female vocal blend.  Songs like “Battened Ships” are hopeful, bright and exciting.  Odyssey eked out an entire album before Donnie Dacus’ exit hastened the end of the band; The Nu Page only managed one single, but its B-side is present here and how lucky we are!  “A Heart is a House” is, simply, the best 5th Dimension song never recorded by the 5th Dimension.  Marilyn McLeod sounds like a sister of Marilyn McCoo (in actuality, she was Alice Coltrane’s sister!) with her luscious vocal floating over a Gene Page orchestral arrangement.  This smooth soul offering was produced by Berry Gordy’s brother Robert and was ready-made for the airwaves.  How this song managed to stay hidden for almost 40 years is a real Motown mystery.

Syreeta, formerly Rita Wright, was one artist who was moved to Mowest from Detroit.  The sweet and seductive “I Love Every Little Thing About You” was written and produced by her ex-husband Stevie Wonder as her first Mowest single.  Syreeta’s 1968 debut single for the Gordy label, Ashford and Simpson’s “I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel For You,” is heard here in a rendition by Suzee Ikeda, Motown’s first Asian-American talent and later a prominent personality behind the scenes at the company.  Ikeda’s take on the song is charming and confident but it didn’t lead to a sustained recording career.

Despite the promise of the California sun that graced the Mowest logo, it wasn’t all sweetness and light. Rock and funk sit comfortably alongside pop and soul on Motown’s Mowest Story signifying the parent company’s attempt to not impose a strict genre guideline on its newly signed artists.   Read on after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 14, 2011 at 12:33

Posted in Compilations, Reissues, Reviews

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“Roll The Bones” In A Rush To Hit Gold CD

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Earlier this year, Mercury celebrated 30 years of Rush’s Moving Pictures with a deluxe edition including surround mixes and music videos. A more unexpected anniversary for Rush will be recognized next month when Audio Fidelity releases a 24k Gold CD of Roll the Bones, just in time for the platinum seller’s 20th anniversary. The 1991 album, the 14th studio effort by Rush, was produced by the band and Rupert Hine (Tina Turner, Howard Jones) and became Rush’s first Top 5 album in a decade. Audio Fidelity’s limited edition is available for pre-order now through the label’s website.

Roll the Bones found Geddy Lee (bass), Alex Lifeson (guitar) and Neil Peart (drums) refining the hard rock-meets-new wave Rush sound for a new decade. The title track even features a surprising rap section! The rare instrumental “Where’s My Thing?” netted the band a Grammy nomination. And if the overall production was a bit more guitar-driven and pop-flavored, Rush didn’t back away from darker lyrical explorations. Every song was credited to the three band members and despite mortality being a key theme of the album, “Bravado,” “Ghost Of A Chance,” “Roll the Bones” and “Dreamline” all received significant radio airplay. “Dreamline” reached the top spot on the US Mainstream Rock chart; “Bones” and “Ghost” both went Top Ten. The success of Roll the Bones paved the way for 1993’s Counterparts, which became Rush’s highest-charting album in the United States when it hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

Audio Fidelity’s Gold CD is mastered by Kevin Gray and as soon as an Amazon link becomes available, we’ll insert a pre-order link below! In the meantime, hit the jump for the direct Audio Fidelity link as well as the track listing with discographical information! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 14, 2011 at 10:27

Posted in News, Reissues, Rush

Intrada Preps Pouledoris and Exciting New Series on the Horizon

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Intrada has two very interesting catalogue soundtrack titles up for order today – but it’s their plans for later in the month that have film score fans dizzy with anticipation.

Today brings another set of scores from Basil Pouledoris in Cherry 2000 (1987), a sci-fi cult classic with Melanie Griffith as a sexy automaton of the future, and The House of God (1984), a barely-seen 1984 adaptation of the satirical medical novel of the same name. While Cherry 2000 will be familiar to fans of Pouledoris, having been released by Prometheus Records some years back (Intrada retains the same mastering in a slightly different running order), its return to print – and pairing with a short but intriguing score from the same composer – is most welcome.

The other release is a synthesizer-heavy score to Prison, a 1988 film (one of the first by Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin) starring Viggo Mortenson as the ghost of a wrongfully-executed inmate who returns to wreak havoc on his old town. The soundtrack album was released by Varese Sarabande at the time of release, but the masters were lost soon after; fortunately, the composers kept their original 1/2″ session masters to provide a recreation of the original LP program with some unreleased material added here and there.

But what has Intrada got planned for their next batch? Read on and find out. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 14, 2011 at 09:11

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Release Round-Up: Week of June 14

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Paul McCartney, McCartney: Deluxe Edition / McCartney II: Deluxe Edition (MPL/Concord)

The next entries in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, Macca’s first two purely solo LPs, originally released in 1970 and 1980. You’ve got your choice of formats: regular remasters, double-disc deluxe editions packed with extra content, vinyl sets or super-deluxe editions in hardback book cases (McCartney‘s deluxe edition adds a DVD while McCartney II adds another CD and a DVD). (Official site)

The Beatles, Anthology (Digital) (Apple/EMI)

Speaking of Beatles, iTunes now has all three volumes of Anthology available to download. They’re remastered, which of course doesn’t make any sense for a service like iTunes, which deals exclusively in low-res sound files. (iTunes)

ABBA, Super Trouper: Deluxe Edition (Polydor/UMe)

Another ABBA 30th anniversary edition, pairing the original album and bonus tracks with a DVD of new and old video content. (Official site)

Smokey Robinson, The Solo Albums: Volume 5 – Smokin’ (Hip-o Select/Motown)

Smokey’s 1978 live album, remastered and expanded with two bonus tracks. (Hip-o Select)

Neil Young and The International Harvesters, A Treasure (Reprise)

More live stuff from the archives, in this case an unreleased album from a 1984-1985 world tour available on CD or vinyl. (Official site)

Sebadoh, Bakesale: Deluxe Edition (Sub Pop)

The Massachusetts indie outfit’s 1994 album is expanded with a bonus disc of demos, B-sides and the like. (Official site)

Various Artists, Carousel: Studio Cast Recording (Masterworks/Arkiv)

A reissue of the 1955 studio cast recording of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical, the most complete version of the music at the time. (Arkiv)

Written by Mike Duquette

June 14, 2011 at 07:58