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Ooh Wah, Ooh Wah, Cool Cool Kitty: Grateful Dead, Ad Libs, Eddie Rabbitt Coming From Real Gone Music

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Yee-haw!  Real Gone Music has announced its late April/early May slate of releases, and you can count on plenty of country plus helping heapings of R&B, pop and, well, The Grateful Dead!  On April 17, the label will release the Complete Hit Singles As and Bs from soul legend Little Willie John as well as a vintage Complete Hit Singles As and Bs collection for “Cowboy” Copas.  Then on May 1 comes The Complete Blue Cat Recordings of The Ad Libs, straight from the vaults of Leiber and Stoller’s Red Bird Records, plus two more reissued installments of The Grateful Dead’s Dick Picks.  Rounding out this group are hits collections for 1970s country superstars Eddie Rabbitt and Mel McDaniel.

Little Willie John (born William Edward John) died at the age of 30 inside a state penitentiary, serving time for a manslaughter conviction.  But before that sad ending, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer scored a series of hit records for Cincinnati’s King Records between 1955 and 1961.  King, of course, later was the home to James Brown, who learned a few tricks from John as an opening act and later paid homage to him with the Little Willie John…and a Few Nice Things album.  Real Gone Music’s comprehensive The Complete Hit Singles As and Bs boasts 32 tracks over 2 CDs including all of John’s chart hits plus their B-sides.  His first recording, a cover of Titus Turner’s “All Around the World” is joined by the original version of “Need Your Love So Bad,” and of course, “Fever,” later immortalized by Peggy Lee.  Bill Dahl provides new liner notes for this exciting compilation, and draws on comments by Lamont Dozier, who spent time alongside John’s sister Mable at Detroit’s Hitsville USA, Motown!

Following the same format is a collection dedicated to Lloyd Estel “Cowboy” Copas spanning the years 1946-1963.  Real Gone sheds some much-deserved light on this country pioneer who is perhaps best known for having perished in the same plane crash that took the life of Patsy Cline.  The label reveals that Copas actually had fourteen hits during his lifetime versus Cline’s nine!  The 2-CD Complete Hit Singles As and Bs contains 30 tracks including those rarely-heard flipsides.  Colin Escott (co-writer of Broadway’s Million Dollar Quartet) supplies the liner notes, writing of Copas that “his records were so personable and so unlike any others from that day and time. Not honky tonk, not bluegrass, not Western swing, not hillbilly, not pop crossover, they could be labeled Cowboy Copas records.”

We jump a number of years in the country-and-western vein for two new anthologies dedicated to Mel McDaniel and Eddie Rabbitt, respectively.   The late Mel McDaniel scored a string of 41 hits during the 1970s and 1980s, and 21 of those appear on Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On — His Original Capitol Hits.  In addition to the title track, you’ll hear rollicking McDaniel favorites like “Louisiana Saturday Night” and “Big Ole Brew.”  Another light on the Capitol roster was Eddie Rabbitt, another bona fide country superstar in those decades.  Real Gone’s 13 # 1 Hits not only draws on Rabbitt’s Capitol period, but also his work for Elektra/Warner and RCA.  Featured songs include the smash “I Love a Rainy Night” plus “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “Every Which Way But Loose” and the chart-topping duet with Juice (“Angel of the Morning”) Newton, “Both to Each Other (Friends and Lovers).”

Hit the jump for The Ad Libs, The Grateful Dead and more!

Real Gone’s recent Red Bird Girls: Very First Time in True Stereo 1964-1966 premiered a number of stereo tracks directly from the vault of Red Bird Records, the short-lived label founded by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and George Goldner.  One of the most enduring hits from Red Bird imprint Blue Cat was The Ad Libs’ “The Boy From New York City,” and now comes a collection of 24 Blue Cat tracks recorded by that group.  Producers Ron Furmanek and Ash Wells have accessed the original master session tapes for this complete Blue Cat Recordings which debuts five unreleased songs and nine unreleased alternate takes!  Among those previously-unissued alternates are three versions of 1964’s “The Boy from New York City,” highlighted by an a cappella demo version emphasizing the Ad Libs’ fantastic vocal interplay. Most tracks make their true stereo debut, while the 12-page booklet includes liner notes by James Moniz with contributions from original Ad-Lib Norman Donegan and a foreword from Tim Hauser.  A founding member of The Manhattan Transfer, Hauser’s group scored a Grammy Award for their 1981 update of the Ad Libs’ song!

Finally, Real Gone Music continues truckin’ with its Dick’s Picks series of reissues originally curated by the late Grateful Dead archivist Dick Latvala.  The 4-CD set Dick’s Picks Vol. 30 was recorded at New York’s long-gone Academy of Music on March 25 and 28, 1972.  It features the one and only Bo Diddley on five tracks (culled from a 3/25/72 benefit for the Hell’s Angels), and its final three discs present a complete show from March 28, recorded by Dead sound guru Betty Cantor-Jackson. The set is encoded in HDCD and contains the Dead’s only renditions of “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” and “Are You Lonely for Me.”

Dick’s Picks Vol. 31 also hails from two Tri-State Area venues, just a couple of years later than Vol. 30.  This volume was recorded at Jersey City’s now-demolished Roosevelt Stadium as well as Philadelphia’s Civic Center during the Wall of Sound tour on August 4-6, 1974. The Wall of Sound wasn’t Phil Spector’s studio sound, but rather, the sound system designed by Owsley “Bear” Stanley with truly unique features.  Among its special attributes?  Each string of Phil Lesh’s bass had its own speaker!  Unlike most Dick’s Picks collections, this 4-CD set offers highlights from three consecutive nights of shows (again, all in HDCD sound) rather than presenting any complete performances.

We’ll fill in track listings for the above releases once they’re released!  The full list of titles is just below with corresponding street dates and pre-order links, where available!

April 17, 2012

Little Willie John, Little Willie John’s Complete Hit Singles As and Bs

Cowboy Copas, Complete Hit Singles As and Bs

May 1, 2012

The Ad Libs, The Complete Blue Cat Recordings

Mel McDaniel, Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On — His Original Capitol Hits

Eddie Rabbitt, 13 Original #1 Hits

Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 30 — Academy of Music, New York City, NY 3/25 & 3/28/72

Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 31 – 8/4-5 Philadelphia Civic Center, Philadelphia, PA 8/6/74, Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ

Written by Joe Marchese

March 8, 2012 at 09:53

3 Responses

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  1. Good music on Dick’s Picks 31, but that release was a bit infuriating to some Heads, since it took just bits and pieces from a great run of shows during the Dead’s “Wall of Sound” era rather than giving us some more complete shows. 8/6/74 is a particular standout, highly recommended for bootleg collectors.

    DP 30 is OK, but the performances are a bit ragged. The Bo Diddley set is interesting, and perhaps one of the better reasons to pick up that set, but it’s not a mind-blowing performance or anything. I haven’t looked at the prices, but if Real Gone is still overcharging for the DP titles then I’d say to put your money elsewhere.

    Shaun

    March 8, 2012 at 18:45

    • Wow. I just clicked on the links (which go to Amazon). I cannot believe what they’re asking for the DP reissues. Just… Wow.

      Shaun

      March 8, 2012 at 18:48

      • Not sure what made me look again, but the price for the Dick’s Pick’s releases has dropped since yesterday. On Thursday, both sets were going for a whopping $65 (each) on Amazon, now they’re down to $48 apiece. Still really overpriced, compared to what the Dead used to charge directly, but better I guess.

        The previous set of DP reissues, Oakland ’76 and Alpine Valley ’82, are complete shows and probably better ones to get than the two here, although I can’t blame anyone for wanting the performances on DP 31.

        Shaun

        March 9, 2012 at 20:16


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