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Archive for March 15th, 2012

In Case You Missed Them: EMI Budget Boxes from Robin Trower, Kevin Ayers

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In the past few months, EMI has released or announced more of their budget box sets which collect swaths of complete albums and rare tracks over multiple, low-frills discs. In particular, today we spotlight two such sets from two virtuosic British musicians.

In February, the label released Farther On Up the Road: The Chrysalis Years 1977-1983 by Robin Trower. The London-born Procol Harum guitarist cut a steady amount of solid blues-based albums after leaving the “Whiter Shade of Pale” band in 1971, eventually paring his sound down to a power trio with vocalist/bassist James Dewar and drummer Reg Isidore. Bill Lordan would replace Isidore behind the drum kit starting with 1975’s For Earth Below; this trio is largely what’s heard on Farther On Up the Road, except for two of the final albums of Trower’s Chrysalis tenure.

On 1981’s B.L.T., he was joined by legendary Cream bassist Jack Bruce (the trio’s last initials make up the quirky album title); Bruce played on subsequent disc Truce, released later that year, with Isidore rejoining the group on drums. This set features every album from In City Dreams (1977) to Back It Up (1983), along with two non-LP B-sides.

Meanwhile, EMI will release in April a bigger, if slightly more frustrating, such set for Kevin Ayers, noted psychedelic musician and a founder of Soft Machine, a noted band in the genre. Ayers amicably left the shapeshifting band in 1968 (toward the end of his time in Soft Machine, he played with a then-unknown guitarist named Andy Summers, later the axe-man for The Police) and focused on an eclectic solo career. His time as one of the first artists on the Harvest label (a distinction shared in part with Pink Floyd) saw a great many collaborators in his musical life, including Syd Barrett and Mike Oldfield.

While The Harvest Years 1969-1974 includes Ayers’ first five solo records (including The Confessions of Dr. Dream and Other Stories, which was released by Island, not Harvest), it does not include every bonus track featured on expanded editions of these albums released by EMI in the mid-2000s. Many are included, however – all non-LP single sides and several rounds of BBC sessions (previously released on a non-EMI U.K. compilation in 2005) make up the bonus material.

The Trower box is available now; the Ayers box will be released April 26 in the U.K. and a week later as an import in the States. Both can be previewed after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 15, 2012 at 17:25

Broadway Babies: Sony’s Masterworks Label Reissues Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett Classics on CD

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In 1962, Carol Burnett was one of America’s fastest-rising comedy stars, having reigned on Broadway as a brassy princess in Once Upon a Mattress and endeared herself to the rest of America as a regular on The Garry Moore Show. Julie Andrews shared a stage pedigree with Burnett, a performer since childhood and the originator of iconic roles in Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady and Camelot.  When Andrews teamed with Burnett as a guest on Moore’s program, the chemistry was all too evident.  Burnett told Good Housekeeping in 1963: “In the first five minutes of rehearsal, as eyewitnesses have since reported, it became quite clear to the whole company that one of those things was happening on stage that ‘ardly ever ‘appens between two female performers. There was no jealousy, no upstaging, no competition. Whether it’ sour chemistry or simply that we’re the same kind of nut – as Lou [Wilson, Andrews’ then-manager] said that night – we seem to be at our best in each other’s company.  The next morning everybody was on the phone persuading us to do a one-hour TV special, which eventually (in June, 1962) became Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall.”  The soundtrack to the special was released by Columbia Records, and briefly saw CD issue in 1989.  Come April 3, Masterworks Broadway will celebrate 50 years of the program’s debut with the new release The CBS Television Specials: Live at Carnegie Hall/Live at Lincoln Center, uniting the original 1962 special and the duo’s 1971 follow-up on 2 CDs.

Produced by Bob Banner and directed by Burnett’s future husband Joe Hamilton, Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall also enlisted the services of Mike Nichols as writer, and orchestrator Irwin Kostal (West Side Story, Mary Poppins) as musical director.  Nichols’ “hilarious hand” was singled out by Billboard in its review of the “scintillating” show.  The musical material was diverse, from Frank Loesser’s “Big D” from his musical The Most Happy Fella to the old English folk song “Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be.”  The centerpiece was a lengthy duet “History of Musical Comedy” beginning with 1910’s long-forgotten Madame Sherry and going straight through Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ 1957 West Side StoryMy Fair Lady was briefly addressed with “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?”  But perhaps the most prescient piece of special material was a little spoof called “From Switzerland: The Pratt Family,” gently satirizing the Von Trapp Family Singers.  Could Andrews have ever imagined that she would be stepping into Maria Von Trapp’s shoes just a couple years later?  Julie and Carol originally aired on CBS the evening of June 11, 1962, and the following year picked up the 1963 Emmy Award for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Music.  Burnett also picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series for her work both in the special and her own An Evening with Carol Burnett.

Hit the jump for the scoop on Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center, plus the full track listing and pre-order link for the new CD! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 15, 2012 at 10:02

We Have a Winner! Someone’s Going to “Hell in a Handbasket”

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We proudly announce Gregg Alley as the winner of our Meat Loaf contest! Gregg wins a copy of the new album Hell in a Handbasket from Legacy Recordings.

The Jim Steinman-penned “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” performed by Meat Loaf on Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose (2006), was first performed by a Steinman-created studio project, Pandora’s Box. Their version of “It’s All Coming Back”, from the album Original Sin (which also featured three songs used by Meat on Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993)), predated Celine Dion’s hit version by seven years!

Thanks to all who entered!

Written by Mike Duquette

March 15, 2012 at 08:43