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Archive for September 2011

These Are the Good Times: U.K. Gets New CHIC Compilation, Too

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As if the revelation of a new U.K. compilation for today’s birthday boy Johnny Mathis (with an unreleased track from the CHIC-produced I Love My Lady, no less) wasn’t exciting enough, Edsel’s Music Club Deluxe imprint has also announced a similar set for CHIC themselves – and rarity-seekers are going to be excited.

Magnifique! The Very Best of CHIC captures the greatest hits and album cuts from the inimitable disco band, spanning not only through their biggest period of success from 1977 to 1983 but also including the band’s 1992 comeback album CHIC-ism. (Most of the big hits, including “Le Freak,” “Everybody Dance,” “I Want Your Love” and “My Feet Keep Dancing,” are presented in their original single edits, while others, like “Good Times” and “My Forbidden Lover,” are presented in full.) A few of the edits are relatively rare to CD, including single versions of “CHIC Mystique” and “Your Love” from CHIC-ism and an edit of “You Can Get By,” from the band’s first album, which first appeared on the back of the “Everybody Dance” 7″ single.

The two most exciting tracks for collectors, though, might be the couple of U.K.-only single sides that are rare, if not entirely new, to CD. Disc 1 closes out with an edit of the “MegaCHIC” medley released to promote the U.K compilation of the same name in 1990. Disc 2, meanwhile, features one of the rarest CHIC jewels of all: the instrumental of Carly Simon’s “Why,” a U.K. Top 10 hit from the band’s Soup for One soundtrack, previously only available on the British 12″ single. (A 12″ single released in the U.S. featured a live instrumental version, instead.)

Magnifique!, out in the U.K. next Monday, October 3, might be the perfect soundtrack for your upcoming reading of Nile Rodgers’ new book. Read the track list and find a link to order after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 30, 2011 at 14:08

Posted in CHIC, Compilations, News

Review: Buck Owens, “Bound For Bakersfield: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection 1953-1956”

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Though Buck Owens made his name in Bakersfield, California, his adopted hometown from the age of 21, he was a familiar face to audiences across America as co-host of Hee Haw, the country music variety show that launched in 1969 and lasted until 1992.  (Owens remained with the show until 1986.)  Despite the silliness of the television show, Owens was serious about his music, which was a direct answer to the “countrypolitan” sound storming Nashville in the 1960s.  Owens and his Buckaroos, along with Bakersfield colleagues like Ferlin Husky and Merle Haggard and the Strangers, brought country back to its honky-tonk roots, pure and simple.  But his path to stardom, like that of so many others in those pre-American Idol days, was a circuitous one.  Owens made his major-label debut at Capitol in 1957, releasing his first LP for the Tower in 1961.  But he had been a presence in Bakersfield since 1951, playing sessions for Faron Young and Wanda Jackson circa 1954, and shopping his songs around. 

During the years 1953-1956, Owens made his first solo recording, recorded a clutch of singles for the small Pico Rivera, California-based Pep label and continued to record demos, many of which were collected (of course) after his fame.  All of these recordings, and more, have been brought together by RockBeat Records, with the cooperation of the Owens family, as Bound for Bakersfield: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection 1953-1956 (ROC-CD-3028, 2011).

A number of the tracks on Bakersfield have been packaged and re-packaged before, but this 24-song collection produced by Jim Shaw and James Austin expands on perhaps the most comprehensive of them, 2001’s 21-track Young Buck on the Audium label.  The new compilation opens with two 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 Pep. It comes to a close with a 1956 Bakersfield session with Owens on the verge of his breakthrough.

These compact songs, a number of which clock in at under two minutes’ length, draw on elements of honky-tonk and western swing for a traditional country-and-western sound.  There’s prominent fiddle and pedal steel, as well as tinkling piano and of course, Owens’ Telecaster guitar, the unique sound of which drew attention to the young star-to-be in Bakersfield.  The tracks largely don’t stray from that sound, and the sameness would threaten to bog down the compilation if not for the charm of Owens’ compositions.  Owens is responsible for writing all but one track here, “Blue Love” by Melba Rocha.  He co-wrote “Hot Dog” with Denny Dedmon. 

“Hot Dog” and its flip, “Rhythm and Booze,” are the most atypical tracks here, both recorded under the pseudonym Corky Jones in an attempt to court the rockabilly market.  (Owens is quoted in Rich Kienzle’s liner notes speaking of the pure country partisans in Bakersfield: “If you even got caught smilin’ over at the rockabilly folks, the Elvis folks or any of that, if anybody ever saw you do that, you was out!”) “Hot Dog” boasts a prominent drum beat and a breathless vocal.  “Rhythm” is a downright weird song, all tension and jitters, with the singer moaning and wailing through the fade!  It’s interesting, for sure, but Owens doesn’t have the danger in his voice that marks much of the best of the rockabilly genre, and his tentativeness with the genre shows.

We’ll pick up after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 30, 2011 at 13:56

Posted in Buck Owens, Features, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Disturbed Round Up “Lost Children” for B-Sides Set

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The rock world may be getting a bit quieter next year, with the planned hiatus of alt-metal group Disturbed. But for longtime fans and collectors, they’re at least going out with a bang, releasing a compilation of B-sides and unreleased material as a going-away present.

The Lost Children collates 16 tracks from the Chicago-based band, many of which have appeared on Japanese pressings, import CD singles, soundtracks or digital downloads, all in one place for the first time. The set spans the band’s entire chronology, from “God of the Mind” and “A Welcome Burden,” both of which appeared on last year’s 10th anniversary reissue of The Sickness, to a set of rare and unreleased tracks recorded during sessions for the band’s latest effort, Asylum (2010) – the fourth consecutive album out of the band’s five-album discography to debut at No. 1 in the United States. (One of the most intriguing is “3,” released as a digital download to raise money for the West Memphis Three last year, making its debut on physical media.)

The lead single, “Hell,” was released as an extra track on some international editions of 2005’s Ten Thousand Fists. The whole set comes out November 8, and the track list is yours to view after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 30, 2011 at 11:37

Johnny Mathis “Ultimate Collection” Coming to the U.K. with Unheard CHIC Production

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How to encapsulate the career of Johnny Mathis into one compilation?  John Royce Mathis of Gilmer, Texas began his recording career at Columbia Records in 1956, nearly 21 years of age, and with the exception of a 1963-1966 stint at Mercury, he’s remained at the label ever since.  Mathis has embraced jazz, traditional pop, so-called MOR, soul, R&B, disco, dance, gospel, and most recently, country.  In each genre, however, Mathis has brought his romantic vocals and gut instincts as to what makes a classic song.  And he’s introduced plenty of those, some of which are included in the latest “greatest hits” compilation coming from Columbia’s U.K. division.  The Ultimate Collection arrives in the U.K. on October 10, featuring 23 tracks spanning the period of 1957 to 2010, and highlighted by two tracks from CHIC’s legendary “lost” production for Mathis, 1981’s I Love My Lady.  One of these, “Something to Sing About,” surfaced on last year’s The CHIC Organization box set from Warner Music France, while the other, the title song “I Love My Lady,” makes its first appearance anywhere on The Ultimate Collection.  (Four of the album’s eight tracks will now be available with the release of this set.  Might a full edition of the album finally be in the offing?)

Mathis’ long recording career, which to date has produced some 73 charting albums and sales of 350 million records, began in 1956 under the wing of Columbia jazz producer George Avakian.  A switch to the legendary, if controversial, Mitch Miller’s office gave Mathis his first pop hits.  Miller paired him with some of the best ballad arrangers in the business, including Ray Conniff, Ray Ellis, Glenn Osser and Robert Mersey.  Mathis didn’t turn his back on his muse, though, recording 1957’s religious-themed Good Night, Dear Lord, 1959’s guitars-and-voice-only Open Fire, Two Guitars, and 1961’s I’ll Buy You A Star with Nelson Riddle during his run of pop hits.  Like his Columbia contemporary Andy Williams, Mathis’ music has become particularly beloved during the holiday season, when it frequently appears on radio.  Most remarkably, Mathis has continued recording at a solid pace, cutting an album roughly every two years for the past two decades, and continuing to make concert appearances around the world.  He’s also an avid golfer, a supporter of a great many charitable causes, and the recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and three records in the Grammy Hall of Fame (“It’s Not For Me to Say,” “Misty” and “Chances Are”).

What will you find on The Ultimate Collection?  Hit the jump!  We’ve also got a full track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 30, 2011 at 10:17

Slipknot Return to “Iowa” for 10th Anniversary

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Iowa is more than Johnny Carson and John Wayne’s home state. It’s also the name of one of the heaviest metal albums of the past decade, by the native sons of Slipknot. The landmark album is being reissued this fall by Roadrunner Records, adding a bonus CD of live rarities and a DVD of video treasures.

With their attention-grabbing wardrobe of numbered jumpsuits and off-the-wall masks, a frenetic musical style augmented by unique percussive elements and a rough-and-tumble live stage presence, Slipknot has long stood head and shoulders above the crowded alt-metal scene of the early 2000s. But sophomore album Iowa found the band at a bit of a crossroads: band tension was at an all-time high, and addiction, management conflicts and production delays only exacerbated the situation. “When we did Iowa,” drummer Shawn “Clown” Crahan told Revolver in 2008, “we hated each other. We hated the world; the world hated us.”

But that hate became significantly easier to work through upon Iowa‘s release. Fans were elated with hard-hitting tracks like “Left Behind,” “My Plauge” and “I Am Hated,” and the album was a strong commercial success, debuting in Billboard‘s Top 5, topping the U.K. album charts and ultimately earning two Grammy nominations. Slipknot would embark on a world tour and a three-year hiatus before coming back with the strong Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses in 2004.

Roadrunner’s 10th anniversary reissue is heavy with bonus material. In addition to brand-new artwork and a bonus track, a new mix of “My Plague,” a bonus CD includes all of the live performances as captured on the Disasterpieces concert video from 2002. A bonus DVD features Goat, a new hour-long documentary on the album and its aftermath directed by Crahan and four music videos. The new package drops November 1 and can be pre-ordered after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 29, 2011 at 15:22

Posted in News, Reissues, Slipknot

Don’t Mess with the Messer: Gold Legion Reissues Early Grace Jones Albums

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With her striking, even fearsome, physical appearance, distinctive voice and commitment to only the most danceable of music – a commitment that’s netted her scores of Top 10 hits on Billboard‘s dance charts – it’s safe to say there is no one quite like Grace Jones. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Gold Legion label, part of Jones’ oft-overlooked early history is coming back out on compact disc.

Jones’ discography is considered most bountiful during her time on Island Records, working with producers Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin on records like Warm Leatherette (1980), Nightclubbing (1981) and Slave to the Rhythm (1985). But before that, she recorded a trilogy of albums, also on Island, with disco legend Tom Moulton that set the groundwork for the rest of her career.

The albums – 1977’s Portfolio, 1978’s Fame and 1979’s Muse – all follow a very similar pattern. The first side of each album features a lengthy, continuous presentation of songs, sometimes around a similar theme (Portfolio features three showtunes – Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” “What I Did for Love” from A Chorus Line and “Tomorrow” from Annie – while Muse‘s song cycle centers on songs about sin and salvation). Each second side is a non-continuous, non-thematic side, sometimes featuring notable songs in French (“La Vie en Rose” on Portfolio, “Autumn Leaves (Les feuilles mortes)” on Fame, featuring English lyrics by Johnny Mercer). While all were respectable hits in nightclubs, particularly those lengthy side-long medleys, their releases dovetailed with the growing anti-disco backlash, forcing Jones to change her style and thereby leading to the gloriously off-the-wall music that would make her a star in the ’80s.

Gold Legion is now bringing the last two of Jones’ Moulton-produced albums to CD, one of which makes its debut on the format. (Fame was released on CD in Europe and Australia under PolyGram’s Karussell/Spectrum imprints in 1993 – a disc that commands very high prices on the secondary market.) While no bonus material is included – a few international bonus cuts would have been viable additions to Fame – it’s certainly a blast to have them on CD for a relatively more affordable price. Both discs are remastered from the original tapes and feature new liner notes by Christian John Wikane, a contributing editor for PopMatters.

Order links and track lists are after the jump. (Thanks to super reader Dean Harris for the tip!) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 29, 2011 at 14:59

Posted in Grace Jones, News, Reissues

Perversion! “The First Nudie Musical” Arrives On CD and Blu-Ray

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Few disputed the title of 1976’s The First Nudie Musical.  And if there’s been a second nudie musical, nobody’s told me about it.  But even if a second one does exist, chances are it doesn’t have a fraction of the satirical charm of the film described by the New York Post’s Judith Crist as “the Star Wars of nudie musicals!”  In fact, the Paramount Picture sat just beneath the science-fiction behemoth and the James Bond thriller The Spy Who Loved Me during its first week of wide release in 1977.  Though The First Nudie Musical received a “26th Anniversary Edition” DVD release in 2002 (with the first run of the DVDs also including a soundtrack CD), it’s taken another nine years for the film to receive the deluxe treatment.  That red carpet is being rolled out by Kritzerland, the stage and screen specialist label founded by Bruce Kimmel, writer, co-director and star of the only movie musical to feature the showstopping “Dancing Dildos” and “Lesbian, Butch, Dyke.”  (Mark Haggard co-directed with Kimmel.)  As Mike reported back on September 20, Kritzerland is bringing Nudie Musical into the 21st century with its Blu-Ray debut.  But there’s more!  An expanded edition of the Original Soundtrack Recording is also coming on CD.

The cult classic satire was declared by Joseph Gelmis of Newsday to be “one of the most memorable movies of the year,” while the New York Times’ Janet Maslin opined, “at the conclusion of The First Nudie Musical, Stephen Nathan and Cindy Williams, a clean-scrubbed couple with matching pug noses, decide to get married, he proposing shyly and she all aglow. This show of naiveté, however touching, comes as something of a surprise, since the pair have just shuffled their way through a musical number about oral sex.”  The film, indeed, offers a mix of the sweet and the risqué.  There’s something for everybody in its zany story of a ragtag group’s efforts to make a movie musical entitled Come…Come Now!  It starred Stephen Nathan of Godspell as the producer, Cindy Williams just prior to her Laverne and Shirley breakthrough as his sassy tap-dancing secretary, Alexandra Morgan as the leading lady, Diana Canova of Soap as fiery Cuban Juanita, and Bruce Kimmel as the director putting it all together.  Canova appears on the film’s soundtrack, along with Annette O’Toole and the Tony Award-winning actress and singer Debbie Gravitte (formerly Shapiro).  Even future superstar director Ron Howard has a cameo in the film!  (And for those wondering, the answer is no!  America’s sweetheart Williams doesn’t go nude in the movie.)

As Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits put it, “This is probably the most innocent, inoffensive movie ever set against the backdrop of pornographic filmmaking.”  That good-hearted spirit is in evidence throughout the film and its soundtrack.  The 35th Anniversary CD contains the original soundtrack recording as well as the newly arranged soundtrack to Nick Redman’s documentary, From Dollars To Donuts: An Undressing Of The First Nudie Musical, which has the Nudie songs arranged by Grant Geissman, the noted composer of Two-And-A-Half Men and Mike and Molly. The booklet contains liner notes by Nick Redman and Bruce Kimmel.

For full specs on both releases, plus track listing and pre-order links, just hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 29, 2011 at 14:10

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Doors Manager: “L.A. Woman” Box Delayed to 2012, Black Friday Vinyl Box Due

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The fall is upon us, and we all know what that means: the holiday shopping season is right around the corner.  Like so many years in recent memory, 2011 is marked by a crowded field of super deluxe catalogue boxes, from venerable artists like Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley, Sting, The Who, Nirvana and Jethro Tull.  One more hotly-anticipated box set is Rhino’s lavish celebration of The Doors’ L.A. Woman, which celebrated its 40th anniversary back in April.  We duly passed Rhino’s initial press release on to you, which promised the deluxe edition this fall.  Later reports indicated a November release.  Now, an unexpected announcement has come straight from the source – Jeff Jampol, The Doors’ manager – that L.A. Woman has been delayed to the start of 2012, at the earliest.

In a statement made to The Doors’ official forum, Jampol indicated that Elektra founder Jac Holzman has signed on to help supervise a “Year of the Doors” program, beginning this November with the Black Friday release of a seven-inch vinyl box set for participating Record Store Day retailers.  Jampol confirms that the Super Deluxe 5-CD L.A. Woman is still in the works, along with an array of other projects including two digital apps and two CD box sets dedicated to the band’s London Fog and Matrix performances.  Doors producer/engineer Bruce Botnick is also involved in the upcoming “Year of the Doors” campaign, and has suggested “remastering and recutting of certain lacquers…regarding final mixes (he came up with some brilliant finds/opinions/solutions/suggestions on some vinyl material).”

For the complete text of Jeff Jampol’s statement, just hit the jump!  Watch this space for more details on L.A. Woman and “The Year of the Doors” as it arrives. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 29, 2011 at 10:11

Review: Elvis Presley, “Young Man with the Big Beat: The Complete ’56 Elvis Presley Masters”

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Well, it’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go!

With such words was a revolution born!  Those simple lyrics were the first sung by Elvis Presley on his 1956 RCA Victor debut, accompanied by the blasts of Scotty Moore’s guitar, then the frantic beats of D.J. Fontana’s drums.  It’s unlikely that Presley ever anticipated that his recording of Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” would provide the soundtrack to a country’s coming of age, or for that matter, lead off a massive 6-disc box set suitable for prominent placement on your coffee table or bookshelf.

Young Man with the Big Beat (RCA/Legacy 88697 93534-2, 2011) is LP-sized, probably the only proportion large enough to hold the big beat contained within.  This weighty, ambitious collection – five audio CDs, an 80-page book, and an envelope filled with replica swag – is part box set and part cultural artifact, but most importantly, it’s a fully immersive entrée into The Complete ’56 Elvis Presley Masters, as it’s subtitled.  Elvis Presley turned 21 in the buttoned-up, repressive climate of the American south circa 1956.  Soon his music, synthesizing African-American R&B, pop, soul, country and gospel into something wholly new, hit a raw nerve.  Presley’s debut recordings crystallized the power of the American teenager on both culture and the music business, selling the album format (previously the territory of adults) to youth, and influencing clothes, hairstyles and attitudes.

Yet trawling through Presley’s catalogue on CD has long been an amazingly daunting task, with compilations more readily available than actual albums, and numerous issues of the same material.  Since acquiring the Presley catalogue, Legacy has been mercifully streamlining it.  Two-disc Legacy Editions of On Stage/In Person, From Elvis in Memphis/Back in Memphis, and Elvis is Back!/Something for Everybody have combined two essential albums with associated singles.  The first two discs of Young Man with the Big Beat contain Elvis’ debut studio set and its successor, plus related single and EP tracks, or the entirety of Presley’s complete studio recordings dating from 1956.  (These two CDs are also available as Elvis Presley: Legacy Edition, minus three tracks.)  A 1996 RCA package entitled Elvis ’56 had a similar concept, but this package exceeds that one in every way possible, from sonics to presentation.  Unreleased material isn’t the main attraction here, though you’ll find a good amount of it via a live concert and numerous interviews.  Rather, Young Man puts a period of our music history in better perspective than any release that has come before.

After the jump, join us at the RCA Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, circa 1956! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 28, 2011 at 13:22

It’s Remixes, B*tch: Britney Spears Gets Mixed Up on New Compilation

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A slight break from yesterday’s activities of more classic pop/rock-oriented catalogue action to shine the spotlight on some dance collectibles from one of pop’s more recognizable faces. Britney Spears is releasing a second volume of dance remixes for your bum-shaking pleasure in October.

B in the Mix: The Remixes Volume 2, a sequel to the starlet’s 2005 compilation (one of the top 10 best-selling remix albums, as it happens), collects remixes of tracks from her last three studio efforts, Blackout (2007), Circus (2008) and this year’s Femme Fatale. Most of them are making their debut on CD or commercial disc, while one track, “Criminal,” will be the single to tie in with the set. (Apparently, this release will close Spears’ longtime contract with Jive Records; she will join the RCA Music Group – also owned by Sony Music – under the guidance of newly appointed label head Antonio “L.A.” Reid.)

The set is out October 7 and can be ordered after the jump (same place the full track list is). Our thanks to super reader Hank for reminding us about this set.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 28, 2011 at 12:40