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Archive for August 2011

Wes Montgomery’s Verve Years “Movin'” to CD on New Box Set

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Hip-o Select announced their latest box set release just before the weekend: a massive chronicle of legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery’s output for Verve Records.

Montgomery was already an influential jazz player in the late ’50s and early ’60s when signed to Riverside Records. His thumb-picked guitar stylings influenced countless axe men, from Pat Metheny to Jimi Hendrix, and his plethora of recordings from the era give even the most seasoned fans much to treasure. But when he joined Impulse! Records founder Creed Taylor at Verve, something interesting happened: Montgomery began to infuse his jazz style with a more traditional pop bent, adding brassy and string-infused arrangements from the likes of Don Sebesky and Oliver Nelson and covering more pop-oriented material, including Little Anthony and The Imperials’ “Going Out of My Head” (his performance would win a Grammy) and the Sherman brothers’ classic “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. Though Montgomery would be taken from the music world not long after signing with A&M, passing away from a heart attack at the too-young age of 45, his music has lasted more than a lifetime.

And on Movin’: The Complete Verve Recordings, every note of this fertile two-year period is covered. The five-disc set includes all eight of Montgomery’s original Verve albums and a host of bonus material. While none of the bonus content is unreleased, owing to Verve’s heavy output of posthumous releases and CD bonus tracks, 82 tracks is a lot of ground to cover, and with sleek packaging and new liner notes from writer Marc Myers, you can be sure you’re getting the real deal on this set.

The box is available September 27, and can be pre-ordered after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 29, 2011 at 10:09

BREAKING NEWS! Good, Good, Good Vibrations: The Beach Boys’ “SMiLE” Arrives November 1

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Surf’s up.

At long last, we can finally announce that SMiLE is coming to a shop near you.  On November 1, Capitol Records will release The Beach Boys’ 1967 lost masterwork as The SMiLE Sessions in three editions: a 5-CD/2-LP/2 7-inch single box (yes, 9 discs!), a slimmer 2-CD version and a 2-LP set.  Where to start?  First, I recommend digging that artwork at your left.  Has it settled in that this set is becoming a reality?  Good.  Read on, friends.

The saga of SMiLE, 2011, was becoming as convoluted as that of SMiLE, 1967, beginning with an ill-timed leak from Beach Boy Al Jardine in February that led to a hasty retraction.  A little more than a month after Jardine’s initial statement, Capitol Records finally confirmed what everybody already expected, that SMiLE was finally on the way.  Not even Mrs. O’Leary’s cow could cause this hotly-anticipated project celebrating The Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary to go up in flames.  Well, it’s taken a few months, but pre-orders are finally being accepted at Amazon.com (see below) for all three editions, and we’ve got track listings and a wealth of details on every release including the box set!

If you’re one of those waiting to SMiLE this November, hit the jump for full specifications on all three versions, plus a condensed history of “the greatest lost album in rock history,” one that has finally been found. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 27, 2011 at 00:22

Dreams Come True: Aerosmith’s Classics Coming to iTunes

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While most fans of The Second Disc wouldn’t know it – likely owning some of the remasters and compilations that have been on shelves in the past – much of the Aerosmith catalogue has not been available digitally. This changes with the recent announcement of Aerosmith’s first Columbia-era output, including all studio and live albums and select compilations, coming to iTunes on September 6.

Pre-order links are already up through the digital provider for Aerosmith’s seven studio albums from 1973’s Aerosmith to 1982’s Rock in a Hard Place, three live compilations (1978’s Live! Bootleg and the two Classics Live! sets from 1986 and 1987) and a handful of studio collections, including 1980’s Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits (the pre-order links gives an incorrect title and cover art, using the basic details from 2004’s Greatest Hits 1973-1988 but featuring the same track list as the older set), the 1991 anthology Pandora’s Box and Devil’s Got a New Disguise, a 2006 set that was the first single-disc set to feature hits from all of Aerosmith’s label deals, including the late ’80s/early ’90s hit years on Geffen and their late ’90s return to Columbia.

Additionally, Aerosmith’s entry into Legacy’s Essential series will bow digitally and in stores on the same date. However, as is sometimes the case for the product line, The Essential Aerosmith is a repackaged version of the 2002 compilation O Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits, the only other compilation on the market to include Columbia and Geffen-owned tunes in equal measure. (For fans of physical product still looking to complete start their Aerosmith collections, there will also be an Essential 3.0 version of the set, adding a third, six-track disc of deeper cuts from the early Columbia years.

Walk this way (you knew that was coming, I’m sure) for the full list of offerings on iTunes. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 26, 2011 at 18:20

Miles Davis’ “Blue Flame” Continues To Burn Bright With New Fan-Selected Comp

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For many, the very art of jazz is inextricably tied to the art of improvisation, or creating in the moment.  So it’s both innovative and altogether appropriate that Legacy Recordings is spearheading an improvised album of a sort for one of jazz’s true greats, the trumpeter and composer Miles Davis.  Though christened Blue Flame, little else has been set in stone for the digital-only album which will be released on September 26.  (And even that title was chosen via a fan poll!  Doesn’t it tip the hat nicely to Davis’ 4x platinum 1959 LP, Kind of Blue?) Here’s where the improvisation comes in: Blue Flame will be wholly assembled from votes on Facebook.

Davis’ music, in all its periods from bebop to fusion, continues to speak to legions of fans and musicians alike, so this unique initiative is asking fans to select their favorite tracks from 40 selections offered on Davis’ Facebook page.  “The Miles Davis Fan Project” launched on August 1, and the 40 tracks offered in the program encompass many phases of Davis’ ever-chameleonic musical persona.  His lengthy Columbia Records career spanned 1957 and 1985, during which time his collaborators and sidemen included luminaries like John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans and so many more.  The tracks have been featured on Facebook via social sound sharing platform SoundCloud, powered by RootMusic’s BandPage application.  The tracks feature Facebook’s “Like” button (now virtually a part of the cultural lexicon, itself!) which prompts fans to vote.  The ten recordings that receive the most “Likes” will be assembled as Blue Flame.  A quick glance at Davis’ Facebook page shows favorite tracks like “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “E.S.P.,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “Nefertiti” among the titles in contention.

Hit the jump for more on this fresh initiative! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 26, 2011 at 14:37

Clapton Sings the Blues: Vinyl Box Set to Anthologize Late Period Albums

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Vinyl enthusiasts are going to have Slowhand for the holidays. A report from fanzine Where’s Eric? announces the November release of Clapton Blues, a five-vinyl box set that encompasses three of Clapton’s great late-period blues albums.

First up is From the Cradle, Clapton’s first LP since the triumphant success of his MTV Unplugged appearance in 1992. It’s a raw, straight pass of a set (the liner notes detail only two overdubs and no editing) comprised of 16 classic covers of blues legends from Elmore James to Muddy Waters. Strange as it sounds, this was Clapton’s first true all-blues album as a solo performer, but it was just what folks wanted to hear, topping the Billboard 200 and earning a triple platinum certification.

Clapton’s next foray into the blues was 2000’s Riding with the King, a collaboration with – who else? – the one and only B.B. King. While the then-74-year-old guitarist had worked with Clapton before (they first met Clapton when he was Cream’s guitarist and worked together on King’s Deuces Wild in 1997), this was their first full-blown joint effort. The response was exactly what you’d expect from two giants of the genre getting together: strong sales, critical respect and a Grammy for each of their shelves for Best Blues Album.

Finally, while not a collaboration in the strict sense of the word, Clapton in 2004 tackled the work of late blues pioneer Robert Johnson for Me and Mr. Johnson. Of course, the guitarist was no stranger to his work – his interest in Johnson in the ’60s paved the way for the critical reassessment and resurgence that Johnson’s output would enjoy in the decades to follow – but the record was kind of an accident, the output of a studio session with no new written material. The loose sessions were turned into an album, and Clapton’s blues legend was further underlined.

The box will feature Cradle and King on double vinyl and Johnson on single vinyl. According to the report, an exclusibe online preorder will feature the discs on blue vinyl as well.

Clapton Blues is available November 22. Reacquaint yourself with the track lists after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 26, 2011 at 13:26

Act Naturally: Buck Owens Is “Bound For Bakersfield”

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Buck Owens and Bakersfield have always gone together, the singer and guitarist inextricably linked to his California home.  Owens’ “Bakersfield Sound” was a carefully-developed response to the slick, string-laden productions frequently coming out of Nashville, and a return to real country roots in the late 1960s.   RockBeat Records is building an eclectic line-up (including a new studio recording from a California legend of the pop/rock world, Jackie DeShannon) and has announced Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection, due for release on September 26.

These tracks form the cornerstone of Owens’ long career, which took off when he signed to Capitol Records.  He recorded his first session for Capitol in 1957 and released his first long-player on the famed label in 1961.  His stripped-down sound inspired legions of admirers including The Beatles, who performed “Act Naturally” with Ringo Starr on lead vocals.  (Ringo and Buck performed a duet version of the song in 1989.)  Yet Owens may be best-remembered today for his lengthy run (1969-1986) on the television program Hee Haw, co-hosting with Roy Clark.

The 24-song reissue expands on previous collections of this material, including 2001’s 21-track Young Buck on the Audium label.  The new compilation opens with selections from his first known session in 1953 in Hollywood, which produced two singles (“Down on the Corner of Love” b/w “It Don’t Show on Me” and “The House Down the Block” b/w “Right After the Dance”) on Claude Caviness’ Pico Rivera-based Pep Records. It closes with a 1956 Bakersfield session that produced singles on Chesterfield Records and an album on La Brea Records. Included are previously unreleased alternate takes including an overdubbed version of “Hot Dog.”  These songs are largely honky tonk-style though Owens experimented with rockabilly on the route to perfecting his signature sound.

Hit the jump for more, including the track listing with discography, and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 26, 2011 at 10:29

Speaking of Monkees: Rhino Announces Very Limited “Head” Vinyl

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A no-nonsense brief on this story, because the product may be gone by the time you read: Rhino’s taking orders on a special vinyl repressing of Head for you Monkeemaniacs out there.

It’s not as involved as last year’s box set, but this 180-gram clear vinyl pressing of the album will feature a bonus 7″ single of two tracks from the Rhino Handmade deluxe edition, “Circle Sky (Live)” and “Can You Dig It (Mono Mix).” There’s only 500 of them going to be made, though, so act fast!

Here’s the link, and the track list is below.

The Monkees, Head (Clear Vinyl Reissue) (originally released as Colgems LP COSO-5008, 1968)

  1. Opening Ceremony
  2. Porpoise Song (Theme from “Head”)
  3. Ditty Diego-War Chant
  4. Circle Sky
  5. Supplicio
  6. Can You Dig It?
  7. Gravy
  8. Superstitious
  9. As We Go Along
  10. Dandruff?
  11. Daddy’s Song
  12. Poll
  13. Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?
  14. Swami–Plus Strings, Etc.

Bonus limited 7″ single: Circle Sky (Live) b/w Can You Dig It? (Mono Mix). Both tracks originally released on deluxe edition – Rhino Handmade RHM2 525670, 2010.

Written by Mike Duquette

August 25, 2011 at 14:16

Review: Original Cast, “Half-Past Wednesday”

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Anyone have a little love for Rumpelstiltskin?

The Brothers Grimm popularized the story of the mischievous imp in the early part of the 19th century, but he has never received the same kind of commercial fame as many of the Grimms’ other creations. No wonder, then, that Rumpelstiltskin was so ornery when he appeared as the villain of Shrek Forever After.  And how many indignities did he survive as the titular character of a 1996 grade B horror film!  Rumpelstiltskin has had a few moments in the spotlight, however, and one of the most unlikely of them has been revived on CD and digital download by Sony’s Masterworks Broadway division.  Take a look at how wild-eyed the little guy looks on the cover…

Half-Past Wednesday opened off-Broadway in New York City on April 6, 1962, which was a Friday.  It closed that Saturday, April 7, after its second performance.  So why was Half-Past Wednesday recorded by the prestigious Columbia Records the following month of May over three days?  Perhaps album producer Clifford Snyder saw something in the musical’s score by Robert Colby and Nita Jones, though it’s hardly spoken of in the same breath as, say, Stephen Sondheim’s Anyone Can Whistle.  That show was one notable for being preserved by Columbia President and leading cast album producer Goddard Lieberson, post-closing.  (The unconventional Whistle folded after nine performances in 1964.)  In fact, Half-Past Wednesday has barely been spoken of at all, and the title of the show is all but forgotten even on its own LP jacket, where “The New Musical Version of RUMPELSTILTSKIN” dominates.  And its obscurity makes us all the more grateful that Masterworks Broadway has given a new life to this footnote in off-Broadway history, perhaps most notable for the presence of a young actor named Dom DeLuise.

The little, five-person musical retells the familiar story of the Miller’s beautiful daughter (Audre Johnston) who strikes up a deal with a devilish elf (David Winters).  In exchange for his help turning straw into gold, he is promised her first-born with the Prince (Sean Garrison), and the only way out of the bargain if she can discern his name, represented in the show by musical notes played on an xylophone.  Dom DeLuise played the greedy King who threatens Erelda if she can’t spin straw into gold, and Robert Fitch (the future originator of Rooster in 1977’s Annie) completed the cast as Erelda’s father, the miller.  The show’s title was derived from the bargain with Rumpelstiltskin: “if by half-past Wednesday they cannot think what name his [musical] notes stand for, he will carry the baby away with him to the forest to keep him company forever,” according to Curtis F. Brown’s original liner notes, reprinted in the new reissue.

Hit the jump to meet me on Wednesday! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 25, 2011 at 13:36

Posted in Cast Recordings, Features, News, Reissues, Reviews

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What’s the World? James Offer Up New Rarities Box

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Manchester’s James have been going strong for nearly 30 years, amassing some 19 Top 40 singles in their native England. It’s kind of a surprise, then, that the recently-announced The Gathering Sound is only their first box set. But it sure is a good one.

The set chronicles James’ discography, from their earliest recordings in 1982 to last year’s EPs The Night Before and The Morning After, across three CDs, one DVD, a vinyl record and a USB stick. The three CDs feature a program of studio rarities, most of which are entirely unreleased or haven’t seen the light of day on compact disc, a set of live tracks and those aforementioned EPs collected on one disc. The 12″ vinyl features four unreleased demos, while the DVD contains the first release of the band’s 1991 Come Home Live video in the disc format.

To top it all off, an 8 GB, J-shaped USB drive contains all of the band’s studio albums, from 1986’s Stutter to 2008’s Hey Ma, as well as a small helping of non-LP material (the band’s non-LP singles later released on 1990’s Gold Mother and four tracks from greatest-hits compilations) – all in hi-res FLAC files or 320 kpbs MP3s. The drive also includes 24 of the band’s promotional music videos. (Completists take note: the bonus tracks from the band’s remastered editions of their 1990s albums are not present here. However, all tracks from Gold Mother, including the single tracks from the 1991 repressing, are present.)

Everything is encased in a 12″ x 12″ box with a 44-page liner notes booklet, badges and replicas of backstage passes. Additionally, the first 500 pre-orders get a special signed art print; all pre-orders will receive three exclusive demos as digital downloads. The Gathering Storm can be ordered here (expected to arrive October 17); the full track breakdown is after the jump. (Due credit to Slicing Up Eyeballs, who reported this while this author was on vacation!) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 25, 2011 at 13:02

UPDATED 8/25: Daydream Believing: “The Monkees” Returns To DVD

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When the winner of Outstanding Comedy Series was announced at the 1967 Emmy Awards, it came as quite a shock.  It wasn’t the timeless magic of Elizabeth Montgomery and co. in Bewitched, nor the homespun sweetness of The Andy Griffith Show.  Agent 99 and Agent 86 of Get Smart didn’t win the prize, and Colonel Klink and the gang at Hogan’s Heroes were similarly empty-handed.  The winner that year was The Monkees, a kooky and wildly irreverent comic romp starring those crazy kids, Micky, Davy, Peter and Mike.  And while show depicted the foursome as constantly struggling to make it as musicians, life had done art one better. 

It was no matter to America that The Monkees had been hired as actors playing musicians, first and foremost.  (The original casting announcement that kicked off the exhaustive talent search was seeking “Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series.”  The groundwork was already laid for the group’s eventual rebellion and fight for creative freedom.  While the audition notice is for “acting roles,” the producers were seeking musicians and singers from the outset, and the four Monkees eventually blossomed into fine songwriters and producers, too.) The group’s first album, released in October 1966, yielded the hit single “Last Train to Clarksville,” penned by the in-house team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.  A scant three months later, More of the Monkees arrived, replacing its predecessor at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and remaining at the top spot for a staggering eighteen weeks on the strength of another smash, Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer.”  (It took Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ Sounds Like… LP to dislodge the Monkees!)  When The Monkees took home the top prize at the Emmys, Monkeemania was in full swing.  And now you can relive it.  TVShowsonDVD.com reported earlier this month that, with Rhino’s 2003 releases long out-of-print and commanding exorbitant prices, Eagle Rock is bringing The Monkees back to DVD on September 27 with the release of The Monkees: Season One and Season Two.  Now, that esteemed site has confirmed the complete details of the set from the label.

If you’re like us, and can’t get enough of The Monkees’ unique brand of musical mayhem, hit the jump for the full scoop! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 25, 2011 at 10:22

Posted in DVD, News, Reissues, The Monkees