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Archive for March 26th, 2012

Review: Randy Vanwarmer, “Warmer/Terraform” and “Beat of Love/The Things That You Dream”

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Bespectacled singer/songwriter Randy Vanwarmer became one of the unlikeliest radio heroes of the late 1970s when his gentle ballad “Just When I Needed You Most” began its ascent up the Billboard chart amidst an onslaught of disco (“I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff”) and New Wave (“Heart of Glass”).  Vanwarmer’s bittersweet memory of a long-gone lover hit a nerve with listeners looking for an escape from the dance floor.  Although the song would qualify him as a one-hit wonder, Vanwarmer continued to record and write songs for other artists until his death from leukemia complications in 2004 at the age of 48.  The U.K.’s Edsel label continues its Bearsville Records series with four Vanwarmer albums on two single-CD releases, the first bringing together 1979’s Warmer and 1980’s Terraform, while the second combines Beat of Love (1981) with The Things That You Dream (1983).  Previous CD editions of the first two albums have been commanding high prices in the secondhand market, making Edsel’s reissues very welcome, indeed.

Based on Vanwarmer’s debut Warmer, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the song title was a pun on the artist’s name.  Paul Myers’ detailed liner notes reveal otherwise, that the title owed to the album’s warm MOR sound, and hence, Randy Van Wormer became Randy Vanwarmer.  The artist’s style on this album isn’t unlike that of prime Dan Fogelberg or Christopher Cross, although the surging popularity of the latter artist actually led Bearsville parent Warner Brothers to concentrate less on Vanwarmer.  Producer Del Newman (Cat Stevens, Elton John) added subtle textures to Vanwarmer’s delicate and confessional songs, while Ian Kimmet and Bearsville’s John Holbrook remixed the album at Warner Brothers’ and Bearsville owner Albert Grossman’s behest.

But the familiar “Just When I Needed You Most,” enlivened by John (“Welcome Back”) Sebastian’s autoharp, isn’t the only great song waiting for you here as Vanwarmer traverses a number of styles all within the adult contemporary context.  Despite the number of mid-tempo, radio-ready ballads on the album, the record label initially opted for the glossy, lightly funky “Gotta Get Out of Here” as the album’s first single.  With its big choral sound on the hook, it was perhaps an attempt to court the new wave audience.  The falsetto chorus of “I Could Sing” has a light disco flavor very much of the time, and Vanwarmer even comes close to rocking out on “Convincing Lies,” with its up-front electric guitars.  Though its title is hardly original, “Call Me” is one of the most appealing tracks here, with another strong melodic hook and vocals again recalling Christopher Cross.  The subtle, twangy guitars of “Forever Loving You” presage Vanwarmer’s later work supplying artists like Alabama and The Oak Ridge Boys with hits out of Nashville.

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Written by Joe Marchese

March 26, 2012 at 14:01

Posted in Features, News, Randy Vanwarmer, Reissues, Reviews

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Foghat Remasters Slow Ridin’ In from Edsel

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British blues-rockers Foghat are bringing their classic catalogue back in a big way on Demon Music Group’s Edsel label.

The British band, famous for the classic rock staple “Slow Ride,” will see their ’70s and ’80s catalogue for Bearsville Records released as two-fer discs in U.K. shops starting today. The first five sets cover from 1972’s self-titled debut to 1980’s New Wave-inspired Tight Shoes, two LPs to a CD and with almost no bonus material (save for the Fool for the City / Night Shift reissue, which features the outtake “New Place to Call Home,” from the Wounded Bird reissue of Night Shift).

But it’s the final volume that’s packed with rarities. The double disc three-fer features the band’s final Bearsville albums, Girls to Chat & Boys to Bounce (1981), In the Mood for Something Rude (1982) and Zig-Zag (1983), as well as 11 bonus tracks, including rare single edits, non-LP tracks and several newly-heard outtakes and alternate mixes.

Formed by ex-members of Savoy Brown, Foghat’s slide guitar-based boogie rock stylings and relentless touring schedule earned them five gold records and a host of fans. While the band continued to exist throughout the ’80s, they released no albums and saw a constant shift in band personnel. (The original quartet – singer/guitarist Dave Peverett, lead guitarist Rod Price, bassist Tony Stevens and drummer Roger Earl, reunited in 1993 at the suggestion of producer Rick Rubin; Peverett died in 2000 and Price passed away six years later. The band still tours with Earl on drums and Craig McGregor, the band’s bassist from 1976 to 1982.)

All new Foghat reissues are available today; order them and check out the track lists after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 26, 2012 at 13:08

Posted in Foghat, News, Reissues

Don’t Pass Him By: Get Acquainted With Paul Korda’s “Passing Stranger”

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If you don’t know the name of Paul Korda, you might have reason to be grateful that the compilers at RPM Records do!  Korda’s story is one dotted with familiar personages: P.P. Arnold, Roger Daltrey, Chris Spedding, Madeline Bell, Doris Troy, Andrew Loog Oldham, Onnie McIntyre and Alan Gorrie (Average White Band), Vic Smith (The Jam) on the musical side, Cat Stevens and even Johnny Depp on the personal side.  Korda’s career has taken him from the original West End cast of Hair (alongside Paul Nicholas and Marsha Hunt) to the silver screen in the first two Pirates of the Caribbean films, but a lasting legacy has been his 1971 debut album Passing Stranger.  Originally released on Gordon Mills’ MAM label, also the home of Gilbert O’Sullivan, the album was well-received upon its release but has languished ever since, with only a Japanese release in the CD era.  Thankfully, RPM has remedied that with its new, expanded reissue of Passing Stranger.

Paul Korda’s musical apprenticeship was a diverse one, including stints as a singer for the U.K. Columbia label, a producer at Fontana and Parlophone/EMI, and a staff songwriter for Immediate Records, the label owned by Rolling Stones impresario Andrew Loog Oldham.  A detour into musical theatre led to a success with Hair, but songwriting still called to Korda.  After forming the fusion-rock group Dada (with Elkie Brooks among its members) and recording with Dada for Atco, Korda signed with MAM and decamped at London’s Olympic Studios to record the album that became Passing Stranger.

The backing vocals of Doris Troy and Madeline Bell (both established vocalists in their own right and also famed for their contributions to Rolling Stones records) add mightily to the leadoff single, “Between the Road.”  The presence of Troy, Bell and Nanette Newman give the song a distinctly soulful vibe, and Korda’s full-throttle attack led the NME to favorably compare it to the music of Hair, and his more aggressive side also comes out on the rocking “To Love a Woman” and the raw “Into Your Station.”  On the other end of the spectrum, ballads like “Morning Wakes the Sun” and folk/rock songs like “Ode to the Ministry” recall the best of Cat Stevens, a friend of Korda’s.  There’s even a Beatlesque lilt to “Pass Me Winter” and a gentle, melodic “We Are Each Other” that’s not too far off from the singer/songwriter style of James Taylor.  Chris Spedding, Onnie McIntyre, Alan Gorrie, Andy Roberts and Ray Russell all perform on the album, recorded by co-producers Korda and Vic Smith.

What extras are included on Passing Stranger?  Hit the jump for that info, and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 26, 2012 at 12:02

Posted in News, Paul Korda, Reissues

Brave New World: Catalogue Labels Take to Spotify for Featured Content

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When it first launched in America in November of last year, Spotify looked like it might be the answer to the question of how to move music consumption into the digital frontier in a positive way. It’s no secret the music industry has been crippled by technological advances labels were unfortunately not able to predict or adapt to very quickly, and it’s thrown the nature of buying, collecting and immersing oneself into music the way we once did into question.

But Spotify’s model – where, either through a free, ad-based model or nominal subscription service, fans can stream millions of tracks and albums, create playlists and sync their music to multiple devices for listening anywhere – is a godsend if used properly, so it’s only natural that the industry would follow suit. Last week, amid a string of new and featured applications Spotify users can add to their listening (including specialized playlists and featured content from Billboard and Rolling Stone), two of our beloved catalogue labels launched their own unique experiences with which to enjoy and discover both new and classic music.

Warner Music Group’s The Warner Sound may feature Saul Bass’ vintage “W” logo, but there’s no time like the present over there. There’s a heavy emphasis on new music, but the “Family Tree” feature ties a current hit to classic Warner bands that an artist might take their cues from. Power-pop band fun., whose hit “We Are Young” has been a refreshing chart-topper for several weeks, get tied to other quirky power-pop acts like The Format, Jellyfish, They Might Be Giants and Big Star, while country star Blake Shelton’s music traces its roots to Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam and Neil Young.

The Warner Sound is also a home for several artist and personality-curated playlist series, taking a page from Rhino’s early Rhinofy playlist venture. Actor Fred Armisen, punk icon Henry Rollins, music industry insider Bob Lefsetz and our good friends at Slicing Up Eyeballs have all presented playlists, and others pay tribute to classic artists like The Grateful Dead or Rhino box sets like Whatever: The ’90s Pop Culture Box and No Thanks! The ’70s Punk Rebellion.

Legacy Recordings also recently revealed their own app, The Legacy Of. Like The Warner Sound, The Legacy Of draws deeply from Sony/Legacy’s rich history of classic artists and devises four playlists for each: a selection of their greatest works, mixes of artists counted as influences and artists the act in question would influence and notable covers. Daryl Hall and John Oates, for instance, have Maroon 5, Terence Trent D’Arby, George Michael, Train and Justin Timberlake in their “followers” playlist and covers by everyone from Nina Simone and Lou Rawls to Paul Young and Everclear. (While the lack of traditional soul artists in their “influences” playlist is confusing – the list leans heavier on blues-rock pioneers like Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – we imagine you get the general idea.) The Legacy Of only counts Hall and Oates, Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Miles Davis in their app so far, and doesn’t provide much in the way of biographical information. But it’s a promising start.

Perhaps, before too long, we’ll see all of our favorite catalogue labels represented as Spotify apps, bringing one of the best of music fandom – the sharing – back into the mix.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 26, 2012 at 11:20

Mondo Reale: Peter Gabriel Releases Discography Box Set in Italy

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If you’re an Italian Peter Gabriel collector, or are looking for a way to get just about his entire solo discography in one fell swoop, you’ve met your match. Gabriel is partnering with Italian publications TV Sorrisi e Canzoni and Corriere della Sera to sell just about all of his studio albums to create a mega-box for fans.

Beginning with his latest project, last year’s orchestral New Blood album, 18 sets will be sold at kiosks, one per week, and will ultimately provide a semi-definitive album-by-album overview for the iconic performer. New Blood comes with a box to hold everything in, while the second in the series, his 1977 debut album, comes with “an unpublished book with an an exclusive interview and album by album story of Peter’s musical career.”

Gabriel’s solo albums from 1978 to 2010’s Scratch My Back will follow in the coming weeks (including 2000’s OVO, the soundtrack to London’s Millennium Dome show), as well as five live sets (CDs Plays Live (1983) and Secret World Live (1994) and DVDs Growing Up Live (2003), Still Growing Up: Live and Unwrapped (2004) and New Blood Live in London (2011)), 2004’s Play: The Videos DVD and the soundtracks to Birdy (1985) and Passion: Music for the Last Temptation of Christ (1989).

The definitiveness of the set is somewhat challenged by some gaps: the non-LP material from 1990’s Shaking the Tree compilation doesn’t show up, nor does Long Walk Home, the 2002 soundtrack from Rabbit-Proof Fence. (There’s also whatever might be found in the forthcoming So reissue, for which Gabriel’s site recently started a mailing list in anticipation of its September release.) Still, if you’re a collector looking for a fix, this might be your moment.

Hit the jump for a full line-up of what fans can add to the box.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 26, 2012 at 10:24

Release Round-Up: Week of March 26

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Most new music comes out today in the U.S., so here’s a look at what to expect!

Frankie Avalon, Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions / The Tubes, Young and Rich/Now / Rick SpringfieldBeginnings /Clint Eastwood, Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites (Real Gone)

Real Gone’s offerings include rarities from Frankie Avalon in the ’60s, some remasters of early albums by Rick Springfield and The Tubes and a vinyl edition of Clint Eastwood’s album for the Cameo-Parkway label!

Quiet Riot, Live at the US Festival 1983 (Shout! Factory)

Cum on feel the noize with this vintage live set from Shout! Factory, part of an ongoing series digging up performances from the famous festival.

Chicago, Hot Streets: Expanded Edition (Friday Music)

Friday Music starts a Chicago reissue campaign with this repressing of Rhino’s expanded edition of the band’s 1981 album, one of a few not named “Chicago.”

Katy Perry, Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection (Capitol)

The pop starlet’s second major-label album, which tied Michael Jackson’s record for chart-topping singles off one disc, is back with seven bonus tracks, including the new No. 1 single “Part of Me.”

Moe Tucker, I Feel So Far Away: Anthology 1974-1998 (Sundazed)

The eclectic solo output of The Velvet Underground’s drummer is anthologized in a new two-disc collection.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 26, 2012 at 07:39

Posted in Compilations, News, Reissues

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