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Archive for November 2011

Thanks!

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With Thanksgiving approaching at Second Disc HQ, we’re doing what most folks are doing this weekend and engaging in radio silence, more or less. There might be a Friday Feature coming up, timed to one of the big, excellent new movies in theaters this weekend. And you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for La-La Land Records, who will announce their last four catalogue soundtrack titles for the year at midnight (Pacific time) on Friday.

But in the meantime, we wanted to hang a sign at the top of the page reminding and informing you of some great catalogue-oriented things that you might want to think about this weekend:

  • Amazon’s lightning deals for this week, which began on Monday, include some great catalogue titles, both new and old. Sales are still going on every few hours through next Monday, so have a look and plan accordingly!
  • Similarly, our friends at PopMarket are also planning a day’s worth of lightning deals on box sets, vinyl titles and other collector’s sets on Black Friday. It’s worth noting that both Sony and Warner Music Group are now in on PopMarket’s deal-making ways, adding a little to the selections you’ll be able to enjoy. Here’s a list of all the deals going down on that day.
  • And of course, Black Friday means a second “Record Store Day” for 2011, with exclusive releases from The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, The Doors, Janis Joplin and many more hitting your local independent record retailer!  You can peruse our extensive list of these hot-ticket limited editions  here!

We’d like to take the opportunity to tease a few things going on closer to home that you and your music-loving friends won’t want to miss. First of all, starting Monday and taking us all the way to December 23, we’re engaging in one of the most unique features we’ve ever done: a comprehensive buyer’s guide to reissues based on Rolling Stone‘s list of the greatest albums ever made. The original list, published in 2003, covered 500 titles; we have cut them down to the top 100 and will provide you, our treasured readers, with a sort of ultimate edition of our Back Tracks feature, detailing every major reissue, remastering and expansion of these definitive rock albums. Consider it an all-in-one gift-giving idea for the major music geeks in your life.

Second of all, as we’ve hinted on our Facebook page (which, along with our Twitter feed, are prime Internet real estate to peruse and share when you’re not here!  And don’t forget to follow Mike and Joe on Twitter for more news and views!), we’ve got an awesome addition to the Christmas holidays this year. We’re calling it “Second Discmas,” and we’re going to be giving you more than just music news and features, but the actual gift of music itself! We’re working overtime with some of our favorite catalogue labels to bring you some awesome treats, so definitely keep an eye out for that.

Until things start going back to normal on Monday, enjoy some turkey, hug your loved ones, be safe if you go out to the malls on Friday, and above all, never forget to have some good music to keep you and yours company. This Thanksgiving, and every day of the year, we are thankful for you.

Written by Mike Duquette

November 24, 2011 at 12:01

Pet Shop Boys Flush “Format” with New B-Sides Compilation

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Add another catalogue set for 2012 to the list: this winter will see the release of the Pet Shop Boys’ second B-sides compilation, spanning the past 15 years of their recording career.

As reported by our dear friends at Slicing Up Eyeballs, the Boys (who are also working on a new LP for the new year) revealed to Varsity, Cambridge University’s paper, their intent of releasing a new B-sides set, following the tradition of 1995’s Alternative, the group’s first two-disc set of rarities from 1986 to 1994.

Within days, a track list was announced, showcasing tracks such as a 1995 remake of “In the Night,” the original of which was itself one of the group’s first B-sides (to “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” in 1985); a demo of “Confidential,” a song written for Tina Turner’s Wildest Dreams album in 1996 and the group’s 2006 cover of “In Private,” a song written for Dusty Springfield in 1991 and here presented as a duet with Elton John.

The set is slated for a February 6 release in the U.K., although no pre-order links have shown up yet. In the meantime, enjoy the track list after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 23, 2011 at 20:05

Entering the Culture Factory: New Reissue Label Launches with Robert Palmer, Paul Williams’ “Paradise”

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Despite the spurious reports of the “death of the CD,” the reissue biz is still thriving on the little silver platter, offering up all manner of deluxe editions for the discerning customer.  (That means you, dear reader!)  In 2011, we’ve seen the launch of such heavyweights-to-be as Real Gone Music, Omnivore Recordings and RockBeat Records, and we’re now happy to welcome another name to the fold.  Culture Factory USA quietly launched this past September, with releases from Mink DeVille, Moon Martin, Kim Wilde and the Motels.  This month brings deluxe audiophile reissues of five consecutive albums from the late rock/jazz/soul giant Robert Palmer as well as a cult classic soundtrack from the pen of Mr. Paul Williams.

Each Culture Factory reissue contains the original album sequence plus a Japanese-style OBI strip and a “vinyl replica deluxe” design.  The CD labels are adorned with period label art, and the titles have been remastered using 96 kHz/24-bit technology (although playback in that high resolution is not possible as these are standard “redbook” 44/16 compact discs).  Though Culture Factory’s website is currently on the sparse side, to be kind, each title so far has been available from the label itself on Amazon.com at very reasonable prices, especially compared to the high stickers being charged by Amazon proper.

In the heady atmosphere of 1970s Hollywood, the new breed of film auteurs taking the town was finally able to follow some rather radical muses.  This impulse of exploration led to the cult classic Phantom of the Paradise, a rock musical written and directed by Brian De Palma.  At the time of Phantom’s filming, De Palma was perhaps best-known for his Hitchcock-inspired 1973 thriller Sisters (with a score by no less than Bernard Herrmann!), and films like Carrie (1976) and Scarface (1983) still to come.

Phantom took clear inspiration from early Hollywood horror and most notably the film adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera, much as De Palma had channeled Hitchcock in past efforts.  The film follows Winslow Leach (William Finley), whose rock treatment of the Faust legend catches the attention of the demonic producer known as Swan, portrayed by songwriter Paul Williams.  After getting his head caught in a vinyl press (!), Leach is transformed into the scarred Phantom.  But rather than the Paris Opera House, Winslow’s Phantom haunts The Paradise, Swan’s hot new concert palace.   In the words of critic Robert Horton, “the movie seems to predict the Studio 54 scene, MTV, and punk rock–the last, especially, in the figure of Beef, a screeching singer played by the unhinged Gerrit Graham.  [Williams’] performance is a reminder of his peculiar, self-spoofing presence… Comedy, musical, horror film, ’70s artifact–this movie isn’t quite definable, and that’s what’s wonderful about it.”  The original 10-track soundtrack album, released on Williams’ then-home of A&M, preserves his freewheeling score which draws on both pop and glam sounds, with some tracks recalling Alice Cooper’s theatrical horror-rock sound.  Williams performs three of the songs himself.  The only drawback to Culture Factory’s reissue is that it wasn’t out in time for Halloween!

Hit the jump for information on the Robert Palmer reissue series, plus track listings and discographical information! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 23, 2011 at 10:22

Expanded “Elvis Country” Coming From Legacy, Joined with “Love Letters”

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One of the lynchpin songs on Elvis Presley’s 1971 Elvis Country was the singer’s reading of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away.”  Presley undoubtedly connected with Nelson’s lyrics: “Well, hello there/My, it’s been a long, long time/How am I doing?/Oh, I guess that I’m doing fine…”  Though Nelson’s narrator is addressing an old flame, Elvis could have been speaking directly to his fans.  When Elvis walked through the doors of RCA’s Nashville Studio B in June 1970, the last time Elvis had set foot in any recording studio was in March 1969 for his co-starring film vehicle with Mary Tyler Moore, Change of Habit.  His last original studio album was even earlier, in 1969.  That was when he recorded in Memphis with producer Chips Moman, resulting in the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis LP.  What would listeners expect from the album that came out of those June 1970 sessions and their follow-up date in September?  Despite Elvis’ recent triumphs onstage at Las Vegas’ International Hotel and a record-breaking stint at the Houston Astrodome, few would have predicted the inspired conceptual classic Elvis Country.

Elvis Country and its “sequel” Love Letters from Elvis, drawn from the same sessions and released just months later, are being combined into one 2-CD set from RCA and Legacy Recordings under the Legacy Edition banner.  Due on January 3, the Legacy Edition will mark the first Presley release of 2012, with a “full schedule” of reissues promised by Legacy and longtime archivists/producers Ernst Mikael Jorgensen and Roger Semon.  Both albums have been expanded by associated singles and outtakes.  Elvis Country debuted January 23, 1971 on the Billboard 200 album chart.  The album peaked at No. 12, spent 21 weeks on the chart, and was certified RIAA Gold.  Three bonus tracks are drawn from the original recording sessions of June and September 1970.  On the second disc, the 11-song Love Letters from Elvis was derived from the same June sessions.  Love Letters made its chart debut on June 26, 1971, peaked at No. 33 and spent a none-too-shabby 15 weeks on the chart.  It is also presented with three bonus tracks from the original sessions.

Elvis Country stands apart from the King’s other studio albums in its conceptual strength.  Though the song “I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago” didn’t appear on the album in full, excerpts from the track were strung between songs for an approach that had never before been taken on a Presley LP.  The country classics tackled by Elvis might as well have been from ten thousand years ago, so ingrained were they in the performer even as he was embarking on a more flashy, more glitzy path in Las Vegas.  I’m 10,000 Years Old even became the album’s subtitle.  There were, of course, ballads, delivered in Presley’s booming voice with high drama.  But Presley returned to rock with a smoking version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and an emphatic “I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water.”  An unexpected highlight was Presley’s album-opening cover of Anne Murray’s “Songbird,” proving his acumen for contemporary material was still high.

Elvis was joined at these June 1970 sessions by a new band assembled by producer Felton Jarvis.  Chip Young (guitar) and Charlie McCoy (harmonica) were familiar to Elvis, and three members were part of the original Muscle Shoals sound: bassist Norbert Putnam, pianist David Briggs, and drummer Jerry Carrigan.  Of course, guitar legend James Burton was on hand to take care of business!  The idea of a country-themed album began to take shape once both singer and band realized they had stumbled on a particularly successful groove.

Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 22, 2011 at 13:31

Test of True Faith: New Order End Peter Hook Era with Outtakes Album

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It looks like it finally may be time to end the classic chapter of alt-rock icons New Order, with the upcoming release of a set of outtakes from the band’s 2005 album Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, their last album with original bassist Peter Hook.

Recent years have been tough for longtime fans of the band. The British outfit formed out of improbable circumstances – the tragic suicide of Ian Curtis, frontman for Joy Division, caused the band to rename itself and shift direction toward danceable, explicitly electronic music – and enjoyed a wave of success in their native land (and occasionally abroad) for most of the ’80s and ’90s.

Their late-’90s return from hiatus, which yielded two albums in 2001 and 2005, was seemingly cut short years later, when Hook repeatedly divulged to media outlets that he and singer/guitarist Bernard Sumner had severed their musical partnership. Sumner and drummer Stephen Morris repeatedly denied the rumors of a New Order split as Hook continued to tell all those interested that the band was essentially through.

While Sumner finally admitted that New Order looked done in an interview with The Guardian last summer, the band announced their reformation (without Hook, naturally) in September, with live dates ongoing through December. Days before that announcement, Hook spoke to Slicing Up Eyeballs about releasing a handful of outtakes from their last album as a way of delivering closure to the band’s semi-dissolution. Now, it seems that those outtakes, under the title Lost Sirens, will come out next month.

Almost all of the eight tracks on the album are unheard, except for “Hellbent,” the lone new track on Total, the Joy Division/New Order compilation released earlier this year. Interestingly, retailers indicate that the set will be available on CD and vinyl in the same package, with no separate versions available.

Amazon’s U.K. pre-order link indicates a December 12 release. Until then, read the track list after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 22, 2011 at 12:26

Q Applause For Mr. Jones and Mr. Hefti: “Enter Laughing” and “Synanon” Come to CD

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If you don’t know the name Neal Hefti, you undoubtedly know the man’s music…whether it’s the indelible, insinuating, harpsichord-and-brass theme to The Odd Couple, or the frenetic, groovy Batman theme from the Caped Crusader’s campy television show.   And Quincy Jones, the man known as Q, needs no introduction.  Like Hefti a veteran of jazz and big band, Jones’ trailblazing productions on landmark albums such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller (to name just one) ensured his place in the pantheon.  Today, the Kritzerland label announced the CD debut of two rare soundtrack recordings on CD: Neil Hefti’s 1965 Synanon and Quincy Jones’ 1967 Enter Laughing.  Though the films themselves are quite different, the pairing of these two cool sixties scores makes for a cohesive listening experience.  Hefti and Jones shared many experiences, and as Hefti was writing the score for Synanon, Jones had just replaced the older gentleman at the podium for Frank Sinatra’s second collaborative album with Count Basie, It Might As Well Be Swing.  Hefti, of course, had conducted the first Sinatra/Basie recording and was a veteran of the Basie band.

Director Richard Quine’s 1965 Synanon was named for the real-life drug rehabilitation center it depicted.  Edmond O’Brien depicted Charles E. Dederich, the center’s founder, while the film is dotted with stars like Eartha Kitt, Stella Stevens and Chuck Connors.  TV Guide wrote that “a realistic portrayal of drug addicts trying to kick the habit is obtained by Quine and company through the use of the actual rehabilitation house which served as the inspiration for the film, Synanon House in Santa Monica, California,” and lauded O’Brien for his “commendable” performance.  Hefti’s score was only his third, but he already had a firm grip on a signature melodic sound.  He contributes an atmospheric main theme befitting the drama, but the score also incorporates jazz, swing and ballads.

Quincy Jones made his film scoring debut the same year as Neal Hefti, 1964.  The multi-talented Jones was, like Hefti, an accomplished arranger, composer and conductor with roots in big band jazz.  He was signed to pen the score for Carl Reiner’s Enter Laughing, based on Reiner’s own novel (subsequently adapted into a Broadway play by Joseph Stein, who later musicalized it with a score by Stan Daniels of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  We’ll save that one for another column!)  Reiner, already a comedy giant thanks to The Dick Van Dyke Show, assembled an A-list of actors: Janet Margolin, Jose Ferrer, Elaine May, Jack Gilford, Don Rickles, Shelley Winters, and Michael J. Pollard among them!  (How refreshing to see Reiner, Rickles and May all still very active today!)  Reni Santoni stepped into the role of David Kolowitz, the Reiner analogue.  Richard Deacon (of the Van Dyke Show) made an appearance as did Reiner’s young son Rob!  The 1967 film was noted by The New York Times as Reiner’s “jovial reminiscence of his experiences as a stagestruck New York lad,” and Jones’ upbeat score captures that spirit perfectly.  Mel Carter (“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”) performs the title song, and Carl Reiner himself has two vocals!

Synanon/Enter Laughing is available now for pre-order from Kritzerland for $19.98 plus shipping.  The 1,000-copy limited edition is due to ship the third week of December, but those who have pre-ordered in the past from Kritzerland know that the label ships one to five weeks earlier than that date.  Hit the jump for the full track listing with discography, plus the label’s press release with plenty more tidbits on these films! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 22, 2011 at 11:01

Jackson, Cymone, Hendryx Move to Funky Town

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It seems that the rush of catalogue titles for 2012 is starting earlier than normal. This week, we’ve already seen a lot of announcements and plans from the major labels, the likes of which are probably going to get us through the rest of the calendar year as day-to-day news goes.

The advance notice trend is hitting some of the indie labels, too – Funky Town Grooves just announced a bumper crop of expanded releases for January and February. And we think some of them will be right up your alley.

In the tradition of Big Break’s expanded edition of André Cymone’s A.C., FTG announces expansions of the other two of the former Prince bassist’s solo albums for Columbia. While Livin’ in the New Wave (1982) and Survivin’ in the 80’s (1983) don’t feature any contributions from His Royal Badness (as A.C. had the Prince-penned “The Dance Electric”), they’re definitely essential listens for those interested in the forging of the Minneapolis sound. Each title is expanded with four single-only remixes apiece, some of which were only released on promo discs.

Another pair of releases is also coming from Nona Hendryx. Though she’s probably best known as a third of LaBelle, she had a moderately successful career in the mid-’80s with a series of danceable LPs, first on Epic and then RCA. The latter label saw her first brush with chart success, as 1982’s Nona placed on both the pop and R&B album charts and spawned a minor hit in “Keep It Confidential.” Nona and its successor, The Art of Defense, will each be expanded with seven vintage remixes and edits. (The final RCA album, The Heat, was reissued by FTG earlier this year.)

Finally, the first quarter slate also brings news of a Jackson: La Toya, whose 1986 obscurity Imagination will get the red carpet treatment from Funky Town Grooves. While her previous LP, 1984’s Heart Don’t Lie, was a relative critical and commercial success, Imagination is often forgotten thanks to its release on the Private I label, which was in the process of folding just about the time the album was released. Three remixes of the title track and an instrumental of the single “Baby Sister” are added to the disc.

All titles have been remastered from the original master tapes and are able to be pre-ordered at the links after the jump (current pre-orders will get a discounted price of $2 off each title). Imagination and Nona have a street date of January 14, while the others are due out February 20.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 22, 2011 at 10:48

Reissue Theory: The Andrea True Connection

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they may someday see. Today, we honor a recently deceased disco queen by telling the story of her unusual brush with chart success.

Word crept out last night that former disco diva and adult film actress Andrea True passed away earlier this month. At Second Disc HQ, it certainly prompted a few spins of her signature hit “More, More, More,” one of disco’s most senseless earworms. It also prompted a bit of a reassessment of her most unusual pair of careers.

True, born Andrea Marie Truden in 1943, was just another teenage girl seeking fame on the movie screen in 1960s New York. But fame was, as always, fleeting. Outside of minor roles (including an extra role on The Way We Were), Truden had little luck. Desperate, she began working in the burgeoning adult film industry (under various names, including Inger Kissin, Andrea Travis and Catherine Warren) and found both recognition and modest salaries.

Her biggest break came in a surprising place: Jamaica. True was hired by a realtor to shoot commercials when a failed political coup left her stuck on the island, unable to leave as long as there was money in her pocket. Rather than waste her time or money doing nothing, she made a bold move: she called a friend, producer Gregg Diamond (of Bionic Boogie fame) to her side to record some music with local talent under the moniker The Andrea True Connection. Diamond came with a half-finished song that packed a few catchy choruses and instrumental breaks, to which True set some simple lyrics. The last piece of the puzzle, though, was disco legend Tom Moulton, who took the finished master (which was allowed out of Jamaica) and mixed it into a pristine, dance floor-filling single. Buddah Records was happy to release the song, “More, More, More,” as a single to discos in the winter of 1976, but its height on Billboard‘s Hot Dance Club Play chart (where it reached No. 2) led the label to release the song as a commercial single. It made the Top 5 on both sides of the Atlantic, peaking at No. 4 in America.

An album was inevitable, and More, More, More was exactly what you’d expect: passable disco-pop with risqué enough lyrics for an X-rated starlet to sing with conviction. The album peaked in the middle ranges of both the black album charts and pop charts. Follow up singles “Party Line,” “N.Y., You Got Me Dancing” and “What’s Your Name, What’s Your Number” were all Top 10 dance hits, but none had the crossover appeal of “More,” and sophomore album White Witch was a flop. (In 1980, True recorded a punk-rock album, War Machine, which was never released in the States.)

True briefly returned to adult films, but her age combined with the increasing popularity of the genre on video instead of theaters made work slight. A goiter on her vocal cords canned any chances of singing again, but True made do as an astrologer and drug counsellor in Florida. (It certainly didn’t hurt that her co-writing credit on “More, More, More” bought in a royalty check here and there, especially when Canadian sibling act Len sampled the hypnotic instrumental break of the song for their own “Steal My Sunshine,” which climbed to the Top 10 in the U.S.)

For our Reissue Theory, we’ve envisioned a release of both Andrea True Connection albums on one disc, neither of which have appeared on the format. All the tracks, some of which stretch out to ten minutes (your standard disco jams, indeed!), would be included in their entirety. For disco fanatics, it would do exactly what True told VH-1 she wanted her music to: give people pleasure. (Surely there was a wink in there!)

Read our theoretical track list and enjoy some of the music of The Andrea True Connection after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 21, 2011 at 13:24

Concord Collates “Charlie Brown Christmas”

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Christmas time is here! Okay, maybe not yet, but that’s not stopping Concord Music Group from releasing another set of holiday-ready discs from the Peanuts universe today.

The Charlie Brown Collection is a four-disc set featuring some of the best seasonal music written for Charles M. Schultz’s boy named Charlie Brown. Of course, much of that musical credit goes to Vince Guaraldi, the composer of 17 Charlie Brown television specials, including the iconic A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965. Guaraldi was selected by producer Lee Mendelsohn to score a Peanuts documentary after hearing the pianist’s Grammy-winning “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” in a taxicab. Not only did Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas add several jazzy compositions to the holiday canon (including the gorgeous “Christmas Time is Here”), but it also introduced the world to “Linus and Lucy,” to this day the musical shorthand for the whole Peanuts universe.

While the Charlie Brown Christmas set has been reissued more times than can be imagined – pull up a chair and enjoy this great article about that very phenomenon – Concord has put together a modest set for this collection. The first two discs follow the original CD programs of A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Boy Named Charlie Brown, keeping the bonus tracks included with each disc but ignoring subsequent archival material. The third disc is 2010’s Peanuts Portraits compilation, a hodgepodge of rare and unreleased Guaraldi originals, while the fourth disc, 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas, is a 2005 set that featured tributes to the music from the likes of David Benoit, Brian McKnight, Dave Koz, Chaka Khan, Vanessa Williams and more.

If you don’t own any of these sets (and are okay without the full bonus tracks from A Charlie Brown Christmas, as was originally re-released in 2006), the $30 price tag for four discs might be right up your alley. With a relatively light offering for holiday reissues this year, The Charlie Brown Collection might be the one to make your spirits bright.

After the jump, check out the full track breakdown and Amazon order links.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 21, 2011 at 11:45

Soulful and Seductive: Grateful Dead, Glen Campbell, The Roches, Bill Medley, Maynard Ferguson Kick Off Real Gone 2012

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Are you ready to get gone, Real Gone, with the new kids on the reissue block?  The label founded by Gordon Anderson and Gabby Castellana is following its debut slate (reviews to come!) with an eclectic group of releases for January 2012 that will start the New Year off right!  One batch of titles is due January 24, with the remaining releases arriving the following week.

Few artists have had a career as legendary as that of Glen Campbell, and few have been as brave in the face of tragedy.  Campbell recently revealed an Alzheimer’s diagnosis but committed to remaining on tour in support of his farewell studio album, the justly-acclaimed Ghost on the Canvas.  That album musically and lyrically looked back to Campbell’s past triumphs, and many of them can be revisited on Real Gone’s CD debut of Campbell’s 1975 Live in JapanLike Leon Russell’s live album of the same title (recently revived by the Omnivore label), Campbell’s live set never received a domestic release…until now!  On January 24, Real Gone will reissue the 13-track album in a replica of its lavish original gatefold package.  Campbell’s set includes both his familiar hits (“Galveston,” a medley including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Honey, Come Back” and “Gentle on My Mind”) and well-chosen cover versions (“The Way We Were,” “Try to Remember,” even “My Way”).  Though budget label collections proliferate of late-era live material from the artist, Live in Japan is a rare CD of live Campbell in his prime and shouldn’t be missed!

Few could have expected Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield to disband The Righteous Brothers after their string of titanic hits in the mid-1960s, but that’s exactly what happened in 1968.  Though Hatfield initially attempted to carry on the Righteous name with another vocalist, Medley took the solo route.  (The original duo would reunite in 1974.)  After the Righteous split, Medley remained at MGM Records, parent of the Brothers’ then-label Verve.  Medley released four albums (one of which was issued in two variations) at MGM and recorded two more that remain unissued to this day.  The first two Medley LPs for MGM, Bill Medley 100% and Soft & Soulful, are arriving on one CD from Real Gone.   Among the blue-eyed soul hits included on these two LPs are “Brown-Eyed Woman” by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (No. 43), “Peace Brother Peace” (No. 48), and the ironically-titled “I Can’t Make It Alone” by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.  “I Can’t Make It Alone” recreates the Spector Wall of Sound with a stunning arrangement and vocal, disproving its own title!  Burt Bacharach enthusiasts will also enjoy Medley’s take on the Bacharach/Bob Hilliard co-write “Any Day Now,” and Medley even takes on the deathless “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.

Over on the country side of town, Real Gone is anthologizing the Complete Epic Hits of country-pop crossover artist Jody Miller, best known for “Queen of the House,” her 1965 answer to Roger Miller’s  “King of the Road.” In 1970, Miller switched from Capitol to Epic Records where she teamed with famed producer Billy Sherrill.  A full 25 of their collaborations appear on this 69-minute compilation. You might recognize the Top 10 hits “He’s So Fine,” “There’s a Party Goin’ On,” “Darlin’ You Can Always Come Back Home” and “Good News.” Jody Miller has consulted on this release, and has supplied rare photographs for the booklet.

The favorite sisters of Park Ridge, New Jersey – The Roches! – next receive the Real Gone treatment.  Seductive Reasoning is the 1975 Columbia Records album by sisters Maggie and Terre Roche.  The first release from the Roche family, it was also the sisters’ only LP as a duo; Suzzy Roche joined shortly thereafter.  Seductive Reasoning features the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and, on one track, production and backing vocals from Paul Simon.  He was returning the Roches’ favor, as the sisters performed on his own Columbia LP There Goes Rhymin’ Simon!   On The Roches’ website, Suzzy writes of this lost classic, “This album was made through 1974-75. The songs are a result of the years before that. It is a perfect document of the time. But beyond that it is an expression that remains vital and relevant today. If you love music you will love this record. If you love poetry you will love this record. It has already done time in music business jail and now it is (re-)released — thank God. Enjoy — it’s a classic!”  Maggie Roche contributes notes and photos from her own archive.

Hit the jump for The Grateful Dead and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 21, 2011 at 09:52