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The Two Things In One: Omnivore, Ace/BGP Team Up For “Together Forever”

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You can’t keep a good Rhino down.

Many alumni associated with the heyday of the Rhino label (still active and producing some remarkable releases under the Handmade banner, by the way) have recently launched new labels, among them James Austin and Rockbeat Records, and Cheryl Pawelski and Omnivore Recordings.  Omnivore, founded by Pawelski and partners Greg Allen and Brad Rosenberger, announced an impressive and diverse slate with releases by Leon Russell, The Motels, and Jellyfish.  The young label has also launched a partnership with its European distributor, Ace Records.  Both the logos of Omnivore and Ace’s BGP (Beat Goes Public) label adorn an exciting title coming your way tomorrow.  The Two Things In One’s Together Forever: The Music City Sessions brings together the band’s recording output during their 1971-1973 period with the Bay Area-based Music City label.  The 16-track CD compilation includes the band’s three local hit singles, “Silly Song,” “Together Forever,” and “Overdose (Of Your Love),” and some well-selected covers including the Allman Brothers’ “Dreams,”  CSNY’s “Ohio,” Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her” and Bacharach and David’s “Walk On By.”  A vinyl edition of10 tracks will receive a first pressing limited to 1,500 pieces on translucent red vinyl, followed by an unlimited edition on standard black vinyl.

Together Forever turns the spotlight on a precociously talented quintet, with an average age of sixteen, who followed in Sly Stone’s footsteps in blending soul, jazz, funk, pop and rock into a groovy whole.  Michael Jeffries (vocals), Michael Griggs (guitar), Kevin Burton (keyboards), Johnnie Tucker (bass) and Marciel Garnier hailed from Richmond, California, just across the bay from San Francisco.    KDIA radio deejay Bob James became an early patron of the band, introducing the group to Ray Dobard of the Music City shop and label.  Dobard believed in the band’s Stevie Wonder-meets-the-Meters sound, and succeeded in procuring them bookings around the Bay Area.  The group’s taste was eclectic (“By the Time I Got to Phoenix” even made it to its live repertoire) and they shared stages with Earth Wind & Fire, War, Bill Cosby, the Sylvers, the Whispers and Funkadelic.  You’ll hear not only the 10-minute-plus funk jam “Cantaloupe Island,” but smooth shoulda-been-a-hit single sides including “Close the Door,” “Together Forever” and “Silly Song.”

You’ll find much more about The Two Things in One after the jump, including the full track listing of Omnivore’s new release!

As so often happens, though, business matters between band and label threatened to derail the group.  Kevin Burton exited, and was replaced by Richard Meyer.  By 1974, members of The Two Things in One had sought legal counsel to extricate themselves from the Music City contract.  A new name (Skye) and a single on an A&M subsidiary followed a move to Los Angeles, but the band was never the same, and eventually fractured for good.  Michael Griggs went on to form progressive punk group The Tong and Marciel Garnier found gainful employment as a session drummer.  Johnnie Tucker continued to record as Sargent Tucker, and Kevin Burton made music with Frankie Beverly and Maze as well as Joe Louis Walker.  Michael Jeffries became the sixth lead singer of Tower of Power.  The original quintet is even planning a reunion!

Bay Area music authority Alec Palao has compiled and produced the new disc which lives up to the high standards already set by Omnivore’s past releases and familiar to longtime Ace collectors.  Its 22-page, full color booklet is lavishly annotated and illustrated, and the original band members have shared their recollections.  The vinyl edition has 10 tracks vs. the CD’s 16, but one song (the later version of “Confusion”) is exclusive to the LP; the CD replaces it with an early attempt.

Together Forever: The Music City Sessions is in stores tomorrow, October 11, from BGP and Omnivore Recordings.  (The two labels previously teamed up for the release of The Music City Sessions for another Bay Area funk legend, Darondo.)  You’ll find pre-order links and track listings below!

The Two Things In One, Together Forever: The Music City Sessions (BGP/Omnivore, 2011 – CD/LP)

CD (OVCD-11)

  1. Let’s Get It Together
  2. Over Dose (Of Your Love) (Music City 893, 1973)
  3. Together Forever (Music City 891, 1973)
  4. Snag Nasty (Music City 890, 1971)
  5. You’re No Good
  6. Dreams
  7. Stop Telling Me (Music City 891, 1973)
  8. Teardrops
  9. Walk On By
  10. Silly Song (Music City 890, 1971)
  11. Thangs
  12. Confusion (Early Version – CD-Only Track)
  13. Ohio
  14. I Was Made to Love Her
  15. Cantaloupe Island
  16. Close The Door (Music City 893, 1973)

All titles previously unreleased except as noted.  Discographical information is identical for the LP, below.

LP (OVLP-11)

Side One:

  1. Let’s Get It Together
  2. Over Dose (Of Your Love)
  3. Snag Nasty
  4. Silly Song
  5. Dreams

Side Two:

  1. Stop Telling Me
  2. Walk On By
  3. Confusion (Later Version – Vinyl-Only Track)
  4. You’re No Good
  5. Together Forever

Written by Joe Marchese

October 10, 2011 at 10:26

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