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Archive for September 30th, 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.

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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