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Archive for September 1st, 2011

The Masses Against the Classes: Manic Street Preachers Comp Coming This Fall

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Specs for National Treasures, the latest compilation by Manic Street Preachers, have been announced.

The new double-disc set, to be released in the U.K. October 31, presents all of the Welsh alt-rock band’s U.K. singles for Columbia Records, along with one of the band’s early, self-released singles (“Motown Junk”) and a new cover of The The’s “This is the Day,” which will be released as a single later this month.

A host of special packages will be made available from the group’s native country. In addition to the standard double-disc edition and standard deluxe edition, which adds a DVD of music videos and bonus video content, pre-orders from HMV will offer a bonus CD single of “This is the Day” with what looks like a previously unreleased track. buyers, meanwhile, will have their copies autographed by the band. An as-yet un-orderable deluxe box set will include an “38 x vinyl finish CD Singles, a poster, a DVD of all the videos, 7” vinyl of ‘New Art Riot,’ ‘Suicide Alley,’ ‘Jackie Collins Existential Question Time,’ Manics lipstick and vanity mirror and a limited number will also contain a 7” of ‘Motown Junk.'”

The band will commemorate the release – as well as the band’s 25 years together – with a one-off show at London’s O2 Arena in December. Hit the jump for the full track list for the standard compilation. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 1, 2011 at 16:42

Motown Memories Captured on New DVDs

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Oh, for the days when there was a bounty of venues to hear the latest, greatest music on television. By far, one of the greatest vanguards of popular music in the halcyon days of the medium was Ed Sullivan, host of his eponymous show from 1948 to 1971. While Sullivan found himself somewhat bemused by the wide variety of talent he showcased – legendarily confining camera angles on Elvis Presley to tight shots that wouldn’t expose too much of his gyrating hips – he generally picked performers regardless of the approval of the masses, a quality that led, happily, to a large amount of black performers on the show.

And by the 1960s, no roster of soul artists was more popular than Motown Records. Sullivan welcomed the greatest performers on Berry Gordy’s label to his program, from the jazz-soul of young Stevie Wonder and the upbeat harmonies of The Temptations to the breakthrough performances of The Jackson 5 and The Supremes – the latter of whom made nearly 20 appearances on the show and became a personal favorite of the host. On September 13, Sofa Entertainment, the controllers of The Ed Sullivan Show‘s library, will release three DVD sets chronicling great Motown performances from Sullivan’s program.

The first set, Motown Gold from The Ed Sullivan Show, is a two-disc, three-volume set that showcases the label’s top acts. In addition to the hit performances by The Supremes, The Temptations and The Four Tops (all of whom enjoyed a massive amount of exposure on the show up to the end of The Ed Sullivan Show‘s run), clips by Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and others are featured. While the clips aren’t in chronological order, they will make for a fine mix of Motown memories.

The same day will see releases of best-of DVDs for The Temptations and The Supremes. While some of the performances are featured on the Motown Gold set, a total of 25 performances (12 from The Temptations and 13 from The Supremes) are featured, including some great rarities like highlights from The Temptations’ 1971 performance, the last live broadcast of the show, and The Supremes’ 1970 performance of “Up the Ladder to the Roof” – the only group performance on the show without Diana Ross. (Ross’ solo career was in fact announced on the program in their final television appearance together.)

Hit the jump for pre-order links and the full rundown of each DVD, and prepare yourself for one of Second Disc HQ’s favorite sounds: “The Sound of Young America”! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 1, 2011 at 14:44

Review: Alberta Hunter, “Downhearted Blues”

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Alberta Hunter may have sang the blues, but she was far from forlorn when she took the stage at New York’s Cookery, at 8th Street and University Place, in 1981 to record the gig captured on Downhearted Blues: Live at the Cookery.  Newly remastered on both CD and 180-gram vinyl from Rockbeat Records (ROC-CD-3024, 2011), this 18-track live set captures the bawdy blues singer at the ripe age of 86 and just as vibrant than she was in the 1920s and 1930s recording for storied labels like OKeh, Victor, Paramount, Gennett and Decca.  Hunter’s story is a truly unbelievable one, and thanks to Rockbeat, it’s one with which we can become happily reacquainted.

Hunter joined Josephine Baker, Elisabeth Welch and Adelaide Hall among trailblazing African-American singers who decamped for Europe in the 1920s, changing views of America from abroad.  Born in 1895, Hunter was weaned on the blues of W.C. Handy.  When she wrote “Downhearted Blues,” it was quickly covered by the great Bessie Smith, becoming a signature song for Smith (and the song gives this album its title).  Hunter sang with the likes of King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake, Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet, and was quite possibly an “old hand,” even then.  Biographer Chris Albertson asserted that Hunter, always cagey about her age, may have started singing as early as 1906, at eleven years old, having relocated from Memphis to that toddlin’ town, Chicago.   Hunter arrived in Europe in 1927, in time to star opposite Paul Robeson in the London production of Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern’s Show Boat, redefining the role played on Broadway by Tess “Aunt Jemima” Gardella in blackface.  Hunter shuttled back and forth from America for roughly a decade, finding time to perform onstage and even hosting a radio show.  She then entertained American troops for the USO during WWII.

Despite having left behind some of the rawest blues captured on record, Hunter turned her back on show business for the world of nursing in 1956, at 62 years of age, only briefly breaking her “retirement” to record a couple of albums in 1961.   To obtain the nursing position, Hunter had lied about her age, and she still smarted when mandatory medical rules required her to bow out of the profession years later.  That, though, was the catalyst for her return to performing, and the New York cabaret stage welcomed her with open arms when she appeared at The Cookery beginning in 1977.  (She died in 1984, at the age of 89.)

The octogenarian Hunter put The Cookery on the map, and she sounds supremely confident on Downhearted Blues.  (She also recorded four albums for Columbia Records, and of those, only the 1978, John Hammond-produced Amtrak Blues has appeared on CD.  Are you listening, Rockbeat?)  Accompanied only by Gerald Cook on piano and Jimmy Lewis on bass, Hunter rips through 18 songs that are bluesy, tender, sweet and sour.   She reclaims “Downhearted Blues” from Bessie Smith, introducing the song, matter-of-factly, as one “I wrote in 1923, before most of you were born!”  She adds, “Many records were sold,” before cackling, “And I’m still collecting royalties!”  The joy is palpable, though never more so than during the song.  “I ain’t never loved but three men in my life,” she sings, then ad-libbing “I was a glutton for punishment!” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 1, 2011 at 14:16

Posted in Alberta Hunter, Features, Reissues, Reviews

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Different Drums: Music Club Compiles Linda Ronstadt and George Benson

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The U.K.-based Music Club Deluxe label continues to raid the Warner Music Group archives with two new collections following similar sets for Dionne Warwick and ChicagoLinda Ronstadt: The Collection and George Benson: The Collection are both due next Monday, September 5, and these 2-CD sets celebrate the long careers of two music legends.

Ronstadt’s fans will be glad to know that Music Club Deluxe has licensed tracks from Capitol Records to create a fairly comprehensive overview of the artist’s career.  At 46 tracks, it’s quite generous, eclipsing the 2-CD edition of The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt issued by Time-Life in 2003 (Warner Special Products/Time Life R162-26) which itself expanded the 21-track collection of the same title (Rhino R2 76109, 2002).  (This set bears the same striking cover portrait as those releases.)  Despite having placed 38 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including ten that went Top Ten, and 36 entries on the album chart, including ten that reached the Top Ten there too (her magic number!) and three that hit pole position, Ronstadt is often overlooked by the rock cognoscenti.  The Collection is a reminder of her mastery of many genres, as it goes so far to include not only her most beloved Southern California country-rock hit singles, but also a couple of tracks performed in Spanish and one standard (“What’s New”) recorded with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra.  It’s her definitive interpretations of songs by other artists, though, that dominate: Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Paul Anka, Mike Nesmith, Warren Zevon, Don Henley and Glenn Frey all saw their royalties accumulate substantially thanks to Ronstadt’s catalogue. 

Gazing at the track list, it’s clear that this California rock legend’s taste in songwriters has always been top-notch; she was an early champion of the works of Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Karla Bonoff, Randy Newman, Lowell George, Neil Young, Jimmy Webb and so many others.  The Collection includes a number of lesser-known album tracks alongside the familiar classics, although the non-chronological sequencing might drive a person crazy!  The compilation’s two discs span from 1967’s Stone Poneys LP Evergreen, Volume 2 (“Different Drum”) through 1996’s Dedicated to the One I Love (the title track and “Be My Baby”).

Hit the jump for the full track listing of both titles and pre-order links, plus more on George Benson’s Collection! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 1, 2011 at 10:23