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Archive for September 28th, 2011

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

Super Duper Hits: EMI to Release Joss Stone Compilation

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It’s been a long time coming, but Joss Stone’s first compilation, The Best of 2003-2009, is finally ready for release next week after a six-month wait.

For a time in the early 2000s, it was hard to lose sight of Joss Stone. The British crooner was only a teenager when her debut, 2003’s The Soul Sessions, became a Top 5 smash in her native country. With a voice that recalled Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, Stone first rose to prominence with a few inspired soul-influenced covers (her reworking of The White Stripes’ “Fell in Love with a Girl,” Sugar Billy’s “Super Duper Love”) and kept working her way up, cutting albums with retro-soul savvy producers like ?uestlove of The Roots, Betty Wright, Salaam Remi and Raphael Saadiq. Stone became the youngest female artist to top the U.K. charts and took home multiple Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, for her work.

While Stone has moved on after an acrimonious split with Virgin/EMI in 2009, she’s still going strong, self-releasing a record earlier this year with producer Dave Stewart and joining Stewart, Damien Marley, A.R. Rahman and Mick Jagger on the SuperHeavy project. Her greatest hits are yours to revisit on October 4.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 28, 2011 at 11:13

TGI Friday Music : Monkees, Zevon, Midler, Rundgren, Beck, Yes, Jefferson Starship On Tap

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The temperatures might be dropping, but as sure as fall turns to winter, the slate of catalogue reissues heats up each year for the lucrative holiday market.  Friday Music, the CD and vinyl reissue label, sure hasn’t wasted any time in preparing an eclectic slate of killer releases slated for the months ahead.  The label’s Joe Reagoso, a.k.a. Joe Friday, has taken to Twitter and Facebook announcing a number of exciting projects.  And here, without further ado, are just the facts

The first-ever CD release of Davy Jones’ Colpix debut arrives in stores today from Friday, following the label’s recent reissues of The Monkees’ Changes and The Monkees Present.  Well, the band’s recent tour may have come to an early wrap-up, but the reissue parade marches on.  Not only do the liner notes in Davy Jones hint at a future reissue of Jones’ 1971 Bell LP (featuring Jones’ hit rendition of Neil Sedaka’s “Rainy Jane”) but Friday has announced plans for a deluxe reissue of 1987’s Rhino Records “comeback” album for The Monkees, Pool It!.  As with the band’s recent tour, Michael Nesmith sat out of Pool It! which reached No. 72 on the Billlboard album charts.  Its lead single, “Heart and Soul,” cracked the Hot 100 at No. 87.  A companion VHS, Heart and Soul, was billed as “The Official Monkee Videography,” promising “a behind-the-scenes look featuring music videos from their current album ‘Pool It!,’ interviews and a barrelful of special surprises.”  In what’s certainly a surprise, Pool It! will be paired with Heart and Soul for a CD/DVD edition.

Much as Friday has taken the reins from Rhino to create deluxe Monkees reissues, the label has done the same for progressive rock giants Yes.  1980’s 2-LP Yesshows was the British unit’s second live album, drawing on performances recorded between 1976 and 1978.  The original LP split the track “Ritual” between Sides Three and Four of the vinyl; Friday’s edition restores it to its unedited, full length, and adds two bonus tracks of “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Roundabout.”  These tracks were also added to an expanded Yesshows by Warner Music Japan in 2009.  Yes’ third live album, 1985’s 9012LIVE: The Solos, will receive a similar treatment from Friday Music; it, too, was reissued by Warner Japan in 2009.

More titles are on the way from the Warner/Rhino catalogue.  Friday has confirmed a reissue of Warren Zevon’s 1980 Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School.  Anyone who’s listened to any of Zevon’s albums knows that the man had so much more to offer than just the hit “Werewolves of London.” Zevon’s fourth LP, Bad Luck Streak offered more of his unique version of Laurel Canyon rock.  Zevon was joined on his mordantly witty compositions by “usual suspects” including his onetime producer Jackson Browne, David Lindley, Linda Ronstadt, J.D. Souther, Waddy Wachtel, Leland Sklar, Ben Keith and four Eagles: Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Don Felder and Joe Walsh.  Whew!  Most notable, however, might be “Jeannie Needs a Shooter,” co-written by Zevon’s admirer and friend Bruce Springsteen.  T-Bone Burnett co-wrote “Bed of Coals” and Jorge Calderon, another longtime associate of the artist, co-wrote “Jungle Work.”  A cover of Allen Toussaint’s “A Certain Girl” rounds out this exciting LP which has been far too long out-of-print.

Two more confirmed classics are en route, this time from the RCA library.  Jefferson Starship’s Freedom at Point Zero and Winds of Change will be brought together in a two-CD digipak, following Friday’s 2009 Modern Times/Nuclear Furniture pairing, and No Protection/Love Among the Cannibals for the band’s 1980s iteration as simply Starship.  1979’s Freedom at Point Zero was the first Jefferson Starship album to feature the vocals of Mickey Thomas, later to lead Starship.  Its single “Jane” made a solid Top 15 showing on the Billboard chart.  1982’s Winds of Change marked the return of Grace Slick to the fold (she is absent on Freedom) and she, of course, would later join Thomas in Starship.  Aynsley Dunbar, perhaps best known for his work with Frank Zappa, contributed drums to the album which spawned a couple of minor charting singles in “Be My Lady” and the title song “Winds of Change.”  One bonus track has been added to this package, the mono single 45 RPM edit of “Jane.”

There’s much more after the jump, friends! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 28, 2011 at 10:06