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Archive for November 16th, 2011

ODB’s “36 Chambers” Reloaded for Deluxe Set

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Indie label Get On Down Records is preparing a lavish deluxe reissue of Return to the 36 Chambers, the solo debut by late, iconic Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Almost no one could have predicted the meteoric success of the Wu-Tang Clan, upon the release of 1993’s landmark Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, a seminal East Coast hip-hop record that slow-burned its way to a million copies by 1995 and spawned definitive tracks like “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Method Man.” That said, the gritty, nine-member outfit were shoo-ins for the charts compared to the hilariously profane, off-the-wall style of ODB, born Russell Tyrone Jones. Before his hyperkinetic turn rapping on Mariah Carey’s joyous “Fantasy (Bad Boy Remix)” and his did-you-see-that?! turn crashing Shawn Colvin’s Grammy acceptance speech in 1998, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version was the second solo iron the Clan would throw into the fire, following Method Man’s Tical in the fall of 1994.

For Return, producer/fellow Wu-Tang member RZA and affiliates True Master and 4th Disciple took the Wu-Tang formula and stripped it down, taking samples from Joe Tex, Lyn Collins, Stevie Wonder and Sly & The Family Stone and turning them on their sides for a stark, dissonant sonic landscape. (It wouldn’t be a Wu-Tang solo album without guest appearances from other members of the group; Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, GZA,RZA and Masta Killa all make appearances.) With killer cuts like “Brooklyn Zoo” and “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” the album ultimately cracked the Top 10 and picked up a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album.

Get On Down pulled out all the stops for this set, remastering the album and expanding it with a bonus disc of single-only remixes, instrumentals and rarities. The packaging is also rather delightful; both discs come housed in a specially-made billfold wallet featuring a laminated replica of ODB’s food stamps card (which served as the iconic cover image of the original album); an expanded booklet and tour poster replica are also in the box.

The reloaded 36 Chambers is out November 22 and can be found at the link above. The track list is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 16, 2011 at 16:27

When The Saints Go Marchin’ In: Louis Armstrong Goes to Storyville in New Box

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Louis Armstrong’s going to Storyville!

The venerable Copenhagen-based jazz label, founded in the early 1950s by Kurt Emil Knudsen, has just released a new box set that happens to be third major box in 2011 alone for the one and only Louis Armstrong.  Following Universal’s Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz and The Complete Masters, Storyville’s efficiently-titled The Armstrong Box arrived last Tuesday.  The 7-CD/1-DVD set falls somewhere between those two projects; Ambassador of Jazz is the first cross-licensed set to encompass Armstrong’s entire career, while Complete Masters presents the released takes of each Satchmo performance between 1925 and 1945.  The Armstrong Box, then, spans the period between 1947 and 1967 and is derived from the catalogue of Storyville.  It’s primarily devoted to live performances from the various groups of Armstrong’s famed All-Stars.  Louis Armstrong has been a presence on Storyville since the days of LPs, and some of those previously-issued performances appear here on compact disc, but there’s also a plentiful amount of never-before-reissued material, too.

The Armstrong Box is packaged with a 32-page booklet with liner notes written by Ricky Riccardi, the author of the must-read What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years.  Riccardi’s book puts the great trumpeter’s music and personal life in historical perspective in his book, and no doubt his contribution to this box set will do much the same.  Riccardi’s always-entertaining The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong blog has clued readers in as to what to expect on The Armstrong Box.

Among the box set’s 160 tracks, some highlights from the 1940s include a June 1947 performance at the Winter Garden with the band not yet named The All-Stars; a December 1948 gig at Chicago’s Blue Note; and an entire disc devoted to the Jack Teagarden/Earl Hines/Sid Catlett line-up from the Hollywood Empire in 1949.  From the 1950s, you’ll hear a rare broadcast from American Legion Park in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, circa 1954; a broadcast from the same year originating from San Francisco’s Club Hangover; a 1955 New Year’s Eve date, also from San Francisco (with the Trummy Young/Barney Bigard/Billy Kyle/Arvell Shaw/Barrett Deems iteration of the group); and the Trummy Young/Edmond Hall/Billy Kyle/Barrett Deems group from Copenhagen in 1955 and New York in 1956.  The final decade represented in the box set, the 1960s,has yielded the soundtrack to 1962’s Goodyear Jazz Concert film; a near-complete gig from Nice, France in 1962; a Chicago concert from the same year; and an unissued concert from Copenhagen in 1967 featuring the final edition of the All-Stars.  Whew!

The DVD has an approximate running time of 36 minutes, and it’s culled from highlights of Armstrong’s Timex All-Star Jazz Shows.  The DVD captures Armstrong collaborating with such greats as Jack Teagarden, Hoagy Carmichael and Dizzy Gillespie.  Riccardi offers insights into the performances on this box set on his blog.

The Armstrong Box is available now from Storyville Records at a budget price (currently running just above $60 at!) and you’ll find a pre-order link and track listing after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 16, 2011 at 15:15

Curt Was Mayfield – and Now It’s Reissued

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Here’s an under-the-radar catalogue release for your consideration this week: a reissue of Mayfield, a nice little solo album by Curt Smith, one-half of synth-rock legends Tears for Fears.

Unless you’re a major ’80s pop geek, you’d probably be okay with having no idea who made up the membership of Tears for Fears. But most of our readers probably know that singer/guitarist Roland Orzabal and singer/bassist Curt Smith made the nucleus of the band that gave us “Mad World,” “Shout,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Sowing the Seeds of Love” during the ’80s before seemingly disappearing from the radar in the 1990s.

Of course, that’s simply not the case, either. Orzabal and Smith had an acrimonious falling out, likely brought upon by the stress of consistent recording and touring for a decade (essentially since the end of both mens’ teenage years). Orzabal pushed on with the TFF moniker, releasing two incredibly underrated albums in the mid-’90s, while Smith released one all-but-forgotten album in the U.K. in 1993, reportedly to fulfill the remainder of his contract with PolyGram.

But before TFF ultimately reunited in the mid-2000s (and continue to tour overseas), Smith did engage in some musical experiments on his own. One of them was Mayfield, a 1998 project that saw Smith fronting a modest live band. (This ensemble was the first of many collaborations between Smith and guitarist Charlton Pettus, who co-wrote all of Mayfield‘s songs and worked on Tears for Fears’ Everybody Loves a Happy Ending in 2004.) As Smith himself remarks in the liner notes of the reissue, “The premise was to not use my name…and just try to rediscover the joys of playing music live.”

The record, reissued on Smith’s own KOOK Media (partly, as he admits, to satiate both fan demand and to make some money off the album, the original distributor having long since shuttered), features new artwork and one bonus track, a re-recording of the original album’s “Trees” with vocal instrumentalist Janice Whaley (best known for her work as The Smiths Project, a fascinating, a cappella cover of The Smiths’ entire discography).

The album is available through all digital retailers now, and is physically available through Amazon U.S. as a disc-on-demand title. Smith will also announce a deluxe bundle edition later this month.

You know where to find the track list.

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 16, 2011 at 13:40

In Case You Missed It: INXS Release New Hits Set

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You certainly wouldn’t be wrong in debating the merits of another INXS compilation on store shelves, particularly after the good job Rhino did with 2001’s double-disc Shine Like It Does: The Anthology and the breezy, single-disc The Best of INXS the next year. (The band, of course, haven’t released much new material worth covering since the tragic death of original frontman Michael Hutchence in 1997.) But in the U.K., new things are happening with the band’s catalogue – Universal Music has acquired the license to all of INXS’ albums outside the U.S. – and while great things are planned, it’s worth starting small and reminding the public of one of Australia’s best pop-rock acts of the past few decades.

With that in mind, October saw Universal release The Very Best, a new compilation both available in single-disc and deluxe two-CD/one-DVD formats. The single disc set includes all the hits you’d come to expect from an INXS hits set (“Need You Tonight,” “Original Sin,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” “Suicide Blonde,” “What You Need,” “New Sensation”) and a few you might not (“Just Keep Walking,” “Baby Don’t Cry”).

Collectors, and even those whose fandom is more than casual, are going to want to spring for the deluxe set. In addition to adding some of the more glaring omissions from the single disc version (“Don’t Change,” “The One Thing”) and a few album cuts (most from Kick), there are a few rarities and unreleased goodies to enjoy. These include “Good Times,” the band’s collaboration with former Cold Chisel frontman Jimmy Barnes that appeared on the soundtrack to The Lost Boys; four vintage live tracks and a mashup of “Need You Tonight” with an unlisted song by Gwen Stefani of No Doubt (if the proliferation of amateur remixes are any indication, it’s likely her solo hit “Hollaback Girl”). Additionally, a DVD includes a 45-minute documentary, videos and rare live performances for television.

The sets are available now and the full breakdown is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 16, 2011 at 12:33

Posted in Compilations, INXS, News

Get Together: The Youngbloods Reissued, Mick Fleetwood Visited By George Harrison, Peter Green On Wounded Bird

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Wounded Bird may fly a bit under the radar, but over the past couple of months, the no-frills reissue specialists have recently restored to catalogue well over 30 titles of interest across multiple genres!  For jazz fans, Wounded Bird has offerings from George Benson (1976’s compilation Benson Burner), Airto Moreira (1978’s Touching You…Touching Me, which alas, doesn’t have a Neil Diamond cover on it!), Ramsey Lewis (1974’s Solar Wind) and Maynard Ferguson (1981 compilation Maynard).  If you’re in the mood for some country, eight of Willie Nelson’s classic RCA albums have been reissued on four two-fers: Country Music Concert/The Willie Way, My Own Way/Minstrel Man, Before His Time/Angel Eyes and Make Way for Willie Nelson/My Own Peculiar Way.  If edgy political satire is the order of the day, you could hardly do better than this quartet of releases from The Fugs:  1967’s Tenderness Junction, 1968’s It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest, and 1969’s Golden Filth and The Belle of Avenue A.  The releases truly are an eclectic lot, with more titles from Redbone, The Bay City Rollers, David Essex and Mary Kay Place.  Among this batch are many releases from the RCA vaults, including Mick Fleetwood’s guest-packed 1981 effort The Visitor, and This is The Youngbloods, the 1972 two-album set from the band best known for “Let’s Get Together.”

During 1981, drummer and band namesake Mick Fleetwood became the third member of Fleetwood Mac to release a solo album, following both Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.  For The Visitor, however, Fleetwood would travel far beyond the confines of Los Angeles.  Fleetwood journeyed to Ghana in the early months of the year, setting up camp at the Ghana Film Industries Studio.   Despite the locale, though, Fleetwood brought his background in rock and blues to the album.  Fleetwood, bassist George Hawkins and guitarist Todd Sharp were joined there by musicians including percussionist Lord Tiki and vocalist Ebaali Gbiko, as well as two groups.  Vocals and percussion were contributed by the Adjo Group and The Ghana Folklore Group. Also on hand were guitarists Todd Sharp and bassist George Hawkins.

The Visitor may be most notable today, however, for its guest appearances.  Founding member of Fleetwood Mac Peter Green emerged from the shadows to re-record “Rattlesnake Shake,” a song which originated in 1969 on the Mac’s third studio album, Then Play On.  Even more attention-grabbing might have been the presence of George Harrison, armed with his usual slide guitar as well as a 12-string.  Harrison contributed guitars and backing vocals to “Walk a Thin Line,” the Lindsey Buckingham song which had just appeared on 1979’s Fleetwood Mac epic Tusk.  The Visitor, released on RCA Records, scored a respectable No. 43 placement on the Billboard chart.

C’mon, people now, hit the jump for a look at the Youngbloods, plus track listings for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 16, 2011 at 10:49