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Hooked on a Feeling: Real Gone Readies Complete B.J. Thomas, Frankie Avalon, The Tubes, a “Rock Messiah” and More

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Raindrops might be falling on your head, but there’s one thing I know: the March slate of releases from Real Gone Music will assuredly keep those blues at bay!  Featuring both returning favorites from the old Collectors’ Choice label as well as artists and recordings new to the Real Gone family, there’s something for everyone!  Joining B.J. Thomas’ The Complete Scepter Singles on March 27 will be Frankie Avalon’s Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions, The Tubes’ Young & Rich/Now, Rick Springfield’s Beginnings . . ., David Axelrod’s Messiah, Wishbone Ash’s Live Dates II and Clint Eastwood’s Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites.

Billy Joe Thomas was born in Oklahoma in 1942, but his family moved to Texas when he was just a couple weeks of age.  And it was in Texas where the young musician made a name for himself first as a member of The Triumphs and then under the tutelage of Huey P. Meaux.  The Meaux empire included such future stars as Ronnie Milsap, Doug Sahm, Johnny Winter, Barbara Lynn and Freddy Fender, and an A&R man by the name of Steve Tyrell.  When B.J. Thomas’ 1964 single of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” on the small Pacemaker label began to attract national attention, Meaux turned the single over to Florence Greenberg’s Scepter Records.  Thomas and Scepter began a long and fruitful association and as of 1967, all of Thomas’ records began appearing exclusively on Scepter.  Steve Tyrell, too, would join Scepter and participate in the success of the label’s premier recordings by Dionne Warwick and the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who, in turn, would give B.J. Thomas his No. 1 pop breakthrough with 1969’s Academy Award-winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”  Various compilations of Thomas’ Scepter catalogue have proliferated, most notably Ace’s 2003 The Scepter Hits and More.  Gordon Anderson’s Collectors’ Choice label brought a number of Thomas’ Scepter LPs to CD for the very first time, and now Real Gone’s 44-track anthology The Complete Scepter Singles is the first to offer A- and B-sides of every one of Thomas’ Scepter singles, including his 19 hits. Many of the B-sides never appeared on an album, and these rare tracks are making their long overdue CD debuts. DJ/journalist Mike Ragogna penned the notes, which feature quotes from Thomas.

Predating Thomas’ career by a few years is that of Frankie Avalon, beach party king.  The recordings made by Avalon for the Chancellor label have been compiled numerous times in the past, but his United Artists recordings have languished in virtual obscurity.  That’s about to change with the release of Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions.  Offering 20 stereo tracks recorded in 1964 and 1965, the new compact disc offers the entire album Muscle Beach Party and Other Movie Songs, a tie-in to director William Asher’s 1964 film starring Frankie and Annette Funicello, for which The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson composed songs with Roger Christian and Gary Usher.  (Annette released a competing Muscle Beach Party album on the Disneyland label!)  Avalon also tackles songs from other famous films, including Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses.”  Appended to the original LP are rare singles plus tracks from the soundtrack of I’ll Take Sweden, a 1965 Bob Hope comedy in which he co-starred. The set features notes by Tom Pickles as well as photographs.

At the same time Frankie Avalon was enjoying his days at the beach, a young actor named Clint Eastwood was starring in the television western Rawhide (1959-1965).  A talented composer himself, Eastwood has always taken his music as seriously as his acting, and in 1963, he recorded the LP   Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites.  Although Collectors’ Choice Music already released the album on CD in 2010, Real Gone is resuscitating it for a first-time return to vinyl for a 180-gram pressing.  That CD is returning to print, too, from Real Gone.  Like the first time around, both sides of Eastwood’s 1962 single “Rowdy” b/w “Cowboy Wedding Song” will be included on the CD version.

Hit the jump for Wishbone Ash, The Tubes, David Axelrod, and track listings with discographical annotation for every title!

Fans of the weird and the wacky surely know the name of arranger and producer David Axelrod.  Although Axelrod produced considerably more staid work for artists like Lou Rawls, he’s developed a cult following with his more outré work.  Having turned a Catholic Mass into a psych-rock rave-up in 1967 with the Electric Prunes’ 1971 Mass in F Minor, it likely wasn’t much of a stretch for Axelrod to orchestrate Georg Friedrich Handel’s Messiah for a contemporary rock orchestra.   For David Axelrod’s Rock Interpretations of Handel’s Messiah, Axelrod enlisted jazz great Cannonball Adderley to conduct the orchestra, and the result should sit comfortably on your shelf next to not only the Prunes album, but Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, too.   Real Gone brings this cult classic album to CD for the very first time, adding new liner notes and photos.

The following year, Rick Springfield released his very first album, Beginnings.  Despite his success the following decade, this chapter of General Hospital star Springfield’s career has remained long-overlooked.  At the time he was signed to Capitol, Springfield had scored a major hit in Australia with “Speak to the Sky” (the song appears here in its re-recorded U.S. hit version) when he moved to the U.S. to record Beginnings.  According to Real Gone, “there was a serious disconnect between the music and the marketing. The label seemed bent on selling him as a Tiger Beat teen heartthrob but Springfield’s songwriting betrayed an artist with loftier ambitions, switching from Big Star-esque power pop (‘Mother Can You Carry Me’) to T-Rexish glam (‘Hooky Jo’) to McCartney-esque balladry (‘What Would the Children Think’).“  Springfield departed Capitol shortly after the album’s release, but this eclectic offering from an 80s pop icon displays his developing musicianship in full force.

The Tubes burst onto the music scene in 1975 with the Al Kooper-produced The Tubes.  Despite that splash, the band’s second and third long-players have been out of print for years, with third album Now never having seen a CD release in the United States.  The two-disc set brings under one “roof” two LPs originally on the A&M label, Young and Rich (1976) and Now (1977).  The new liner notes by Gene Sculatti draw on a new interview with drummer Prairie Prince.  Young & Rich cracked the American Top 50, a feat the band didn’t repeat until the 1979 Todd Rundgren-produced Remote Control; the band’s commercial peak, however, wouldn’t come until 1983’s Outside Inside, propelled by the success of single “She’s a Beauty,” in part the work of uber-producer David Foster.

The final Real Gone releases for March are from Wishbone Ash, proponents of a unique brand of two-guitar rock.  The Wishbone experience is best served in concert, hence the band’s three albums all titled Live Dates, beginning with a 1973 entry.  Live Dates (1973) charted, and Live Dates III (2001) is similarly well-regarded, but Live Dates II (originally released in 1980 and assembled from 1976-1980 performances) has fallen under the radar.  With the band line-up consisting of guitarists Andy Powell (Flying V) and Laurie Wisefield, bassist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton, the Real Gone edition of Live Dates II includes the complete, limited-edition double-album.   Only 25,000 copies were originally released, and only in the United Kingdom; this CD marks the title’s American debut.

Look for this batch of titles on March 27!  You’ll find pre-order links and full track listings with discography below!

Frankie Avalon, Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions (Real Gone Music, 2012)

  1. Muscle Beach Party
  2. Surfer’s Holiday
  3. Boy Needs a Girl
  4. Beach Party
  5. Don’t Stop Now
  6. Runnin’ Wild
  7. Nevertheless
  8. More
  9. Days of Wine and Roses
  10. Moon River
  11. Stolen Hours
  12. Again
  13. Don’t Make Fun of Me
  14. Every Girl Should Get Married
  15. New Fangled, Jingle-Jangle Swimming Suit from Paris
  16. Here to Stay
  17. I’ll Take Sweden
  18. There ll Be Rainbows Again
  19. Would Ya Like My Last Name
  20. The Bells Keep Ringin’

Tracks 1-12 from Muscle Beach Party and Other Motion Picture Songs, United Artists LP UAS-6371, 1964
Tracks 13-14 from United Artists single 728, 1964
Tracks 15-16 from United Artists single 748, 1964
Tracks 17-18 from United Artists single 895, 1965
Tracks 19-20 from I’ll Take Sweden, United Artists LP UAS-5121, 1965

David Axelrod, David Axelrod’s Rock Interpretations of Handel’s Messiah (RCA Victor LP LSP-4636, 1971 – reissued Real Gone Music, 2012)

  1. Overture
  2. Comfort Ye People – Recitative
  3. And the Glory of the Lord – Chorus
  4. Behold – Recitative
  5. Pastoral Symphony
  6. And the Angel Said Unto Them – Recitative
  7. Glory to God –Chorus
  8. Hallejulah – Chorus
  9. Worthy is the Lamb – Chorus

Clint Eastwood, Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites (Cameo LP C-1056, 1963 – reissued Real Gone Music, 2012)

  1. Bouquet of Roses
  2. Along the Santa Fe Trail
  3. The Last Round-Up
  4. Sierra Nevada
  5. Mexicali Rose
  6. Searching for Somewhere
  7. I’ll Love You More
  8. Tumbling Tumbleweeds
  9. Twilight on the Trail
  10. San Antonio Rose
  11. Don’t Fence Me In
  12. Are You Satisfied
  13. Rowdy (Cameo single C-240, 1962 – CD only)
  14. Cowboy Wedding Song (Cameo single C-240, 1962 – CD only)

Rick Springfield, Beginnings (Capitol LP SMAS 11047, 1972 – reissued Real Gone Music, 2012)

  1. Mother Can You Carry Me
  2. Speak to the Sky
  3. What Would The Children Think
  4. 1,000 Years
  5. The Unhappy Ending
  6. Hooky Jo
  7. I Didn’t Mean to Love You
  8. Come On Everybody
  9. Why
  10. The Ballad of Annie Goodbody

B.J. Thomas, The Complete Scepter Singles (Real Gone Music, 2012)

CD 1

  1. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (#8 Hit, 1966) (Scepter 12129-A, 1966)
  2. Candy Baby (Scepter 12129-B, 1966)
  3. Mama (#22 Hit, 1966) (Scepter 12139-A, 1966)
  4. Wendy (Scepter 12139-B, 1966)
  5. Bring Back the Time (#75 Hit, 1966) (Scepter 12154-A, 1966)
  6. I Don’t Have a Mind of My Own (Scepter 12154-B, 1966)
  7. Tomorrow Never Comes (#80 Hit, 1966) (Scepter 12165-A, 1966)
  8. Your Tears Leave Me Cold (Scepter 12165-B, 1966)
  9. Plain Jane (Scepter 12179-A, 1966)
  10. My Home Town (Scepter 12179-B, 1966)
  11. I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You) (#94 Hit, 1967) (Scepter 12194-A, 1967)
  12. Baby Cried (Scepter 12194-B, 1967)
  13. Treasure of Love (Scepter 12200-A, 1967)
  14. Just the Wisdom of a Fool (Scepter 12200-B, 1967)
  15. Human (Scepter 12201-A, 1967)
  16. The Girl Can’t Help It (Scepter 12205-A, 1967)
  17. Walkin’ Back (Scepter 12205-B, 1967)
  18. The Eyes of a New York Woman (#28 Hit, 1968) (Scepter 12219-A, 1968)
  19. I May Never Get to Heaven (Scepter 12219-B, 1968)
  20. Hooked on a Feeling (#5 Hit, 1968) (Scepter 12230-A, 1968)
  21. I’ve Been Down This Road Before (Scepter 12230-B, 1968)
  22. It’s Only Love (#45 Hit, 1969) (Scepter 12244-A, 1969)
  23. You Don t Love Me Anymore (Scepter 12244-B, 1969)

CD 2

  1. Fairy Tale of Time (Scepter 12255-A, 1969)
  2. Pass the Apple Eve (#97 Hit, 1969) (Scepter 12255-B, 1969)
  3. Skip a Rope (Scepter 12259-A, 1969)
  4. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (#1 Hit, 1969) (Scepter 12265-A, 1969)
  5. Never Had It So Good (Scepter 12265-B, 1969)
  6. Everybody’s Out of Town (#26 Hit, 1970) (Scepter 12277-A, 1970)
  7. Living Again (Scepter 12277-B, 1970)
  8. I Just Can’t Help Believing (#9 Hit, 1970) (Scepter 12283-A, 1970)
  9. Send My Picture to Scranton, PA (Scepter 12283-B, 1970)
  10. Most of All (#38 Hit, 1970) (Scepter 12299-A, 1970)
  11. The Mask (Scepter 12299-B, 1970)
  12. No Love at All (#16 Hit, 1971) (Scepter 12307-A, 1971)
  13. Have a Heart (Scepter 12307-B, 1971)
  14. Mighty Clouds of Joy (#34 Hit, 1971) (Scepter 12320-A, 1971)
  15. Life (Scepter 12320-B, 1971)
  16. Long Ago Tomorrow (#61 Hit, 1971) (Scepter 12335-A, 1971)
  17. Burnin’ a Hole in My Mind (Scepter 12335-B, 1971)
  18. Rock and Roll Lullaby (#15 Hit, 1972) (Scepter 12344-A, 1972)
  19. Are We Losing Touch (Scepter 12344-B, 1972)
  20. That’s What Friends Are For (#74 Hit, 1972) (Scepter 12364, 1972)
  21. Happier Than the Morning Sun (#100 Hit, 1972) (Scepter 12364, 1972)

The Tubes, Young and Rich/Now (Real Gone Music, 2012)

CD 1: Young and Rich (A&M LP SP-4580, 1976)

  1. Tubes World Tour
  2. Brighter Day
  3. Pimp
  4. Stand Up and Shout
  5. Don’t Touch Me There
  6. Slipped My Disco
  7. Proud to Be an American
  8. Poland Whole/Madam I’m Adam
  9. Young and Rich

CD 2: Now (A&M LP SP-4632, 1977)

  1. Smoke (La Vie en Fumér)
  2. Hit Parade
  3. Strung Out on Strings
  4. Golden Boy
  5. My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains
  6. God-Bird-Change
  7. I’m Just a Mess
  8. Cathy’s Clone
  9. This Town
  10. Pound of Flesh
  11. You’re No Fun

Wishbone Ash, Live Dates II (MCA Records MCG-4012, 1980 – reissued Real Gone Music, 2012)

  1. Doctor
  2. Living Proof
  3. Runaway
  4. Helpless
  5. F.U.B.B.
  6. The Way of the World
  7. Lorelei
  8. Persephone
  9. You Rescue Me
  10. Time Was
  11. Goodbye Baby Hello Friend
  12. No Easy Road

Written by Joe Marchese

February 16, 2012 at 13:43

4 Responses

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  1. I hope they offer signed versions like they have been doing.

    Robert Lett

    February 16, 2012 at 19:11

    • Indeed! I treasure my signed CDs from BJ courtesy Collectors’ Choice and its fantastic campaign reissuing his original LPs!

      Joe Marchese

      February 16, 2012 at 23:52

  2. I wonder if that is the actual cover art for the BJ Thomas Scepter singles collection? Kind of a creepy photo of BJ.


    February 16, 2012 at 20:10

  3. I would definitely challenge the assertion that Live Dates II is superior in any way to Live Dates, the original (and first) live set from the underrated British band. And that is taking nothing away from the wonderful Mark II lineup that you hear on Live Dates II. It’s just that Live Dates rank as one of the great live albums. Comparatively, Live Dates II is a distant second. Live Dates III? Good, but not a great album by any measure.

    Live Dates II was released in America as Hot Ash on the MCA label (for those that do not know this).

    MusicTAP (@MusicTAP)

    February 17, 2012 at 01:15

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