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Archive for April 2012

Wash Away the Rain: Soundgarden Box Up Albums for Europe

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Rock fans have a nice surprise coming to them if they check out the soundtrack to the highly-anticipated Marvel Comics blockbuster The Avengers, opening this week: “Live to Rise,” the first all-new single from grunge pioneers Soundgarden since their 2010 reunion. It’s a promising sign of life from the group, who are slated to release their latest full-length LP later this year.

To commemorate that flurry of activity, Universal Music Group is releasing in Europe a special box set of the group’s A&M catalogue. Classic Album Selection will feature, in one set, the band’s four studio albums for A&M recorded between 1989 and 1996 (Louder Than LoveBadmotorfingerSuperunknown and Down on the Upside) as well as Live on I-5, a 2011 collection of live performances from the group’s last tour in 1996.

There doesn’t seem to be any differences in mastering, and there are no bonus tracks included, but all albums are being housed in mini-LP sleeve replicas. So if you’re a collector or are curious to deepen your knowledge past 2010’s Telephantasm compilation, now might be your best chance. The box is out on May 21 in the U.K. and a week later in the States.

Soundgarden, Classic Album Selection (A&M/UMC (EU), 2012)

Disc 1: Louder Than Love (originally released as A&M Records SP 5252, 1989)

Disc 2: Badmotorfinger (originally released as A&M Records 750 215 374-1, 1991)

Disc 3: Superunknown (originally released as A&M Records 314 540 198-1, 1994)

Disc 4: Down on the Upside (originally released as A&M Records 314 540 526-1, 1996)

Disc 5: Live on I-5 (originally released as A&M/UMe B0015418-72, 2011)

Written by Mike Duquette

April 30, 2012 at 15:39

Posted in Box Sets, News, Reissues

Sister Act: Heart Gets Box Set Treatment This Summer

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The wait is over for the first-ever career-spanning box set from Heart. Legacy Recordings will release Strange Euphoria, a 3 CD/1 DVD package, in stores on June 5.

The set spans from the early phases of Ann and Nancy Wilson’s musical career as members of “The Daybreaks” in 1967 all the way to their latest album, the Top 10 hit Red Velvet Car (2010). Along the way, there are plenty of hits and unreleased material, including demos of killer cuts like “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You,” a live version of Barracuda, radio staples from the band’s mid-’80s comeback including “Alone,” “These Dreams” and “Never” (the latter presented as a live version with a guest appearance by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones) and studio and live tracks by ’90s side project The Lovemongers. The set also features a 1976 live concert captured on DVD for the first time.

Those who purchase the set through Amazon are in for additional treats in the form of a bonus five-song EP of Led Zeppelin covers. “Heart Zeppish” features run-throughs of “Immigrant Song,” “The Battle of Evermore,” “Misty Mountain Hop” and more.

Hit the jump to order your copy and preview the track list of Strange Euphoria.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 30, 2012 at 11:40

Posted in Box Sets, DVD, Heart, News

Funk Soul Brothers: Ace Collects “Royal Grooves” From King, “Southern Soul” From Stax

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If you prefer your soul with a twist of funk, the Ace family of labels has two offerings that should get your fingers clicking and your feet dancing.  Both Royal Grooves: Funk and Groovy Soul from the King Records Vaults (BGP CD BGPD250) and Nobody Wins: Stax Southern Soul 1968-1975 (Kent CDKEND 370) cover roughly the same turbulent period of music history, with the former compilation drawing on tracks recorded between 1967 and 1973, and the latter taking in the “Second Golden Age” of Stax Records between 1968 and 1975.  This is the period when King, the Cincinnati-based label that was home to James Brown, was following in the Godfather’s funky footsteps, and Stax was reinventing itself with a new roster of artists that could follow the legendary likes of Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Booker T and the MGs.

Though King Records was founded in 1943 by consummate record man Syd Nathan and made its name emphasizing country-and-western, it was successful in the decision to move into the R&B field.  But Nathan was unprepared for the revolution that one of those R&B artists, James Brown, would create.  Nathan and Brown’s relationship had become strained when Brown, his star in the ascendant, signed with Mercury’s Smash label while still under contract to King.  But he returned to King in 1965 with “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and by 1967, when this anthology picks up the story, the label’s roster was largely dedicated to Brown, his associates or sound-alike records, some of which were released under the “James Brown Productions” banner.  Nathan died in 1968, but the company continued to thrive until Brown’s departure in 1971, at which time he took his back catalogue to Polydor with him.  New owners (including Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) attempted to revive King’s fortunes, but the label eventually reconciled itself with its fate as a strictly back-catalogue operation.

Royal Grooves covers this tumultuous period for the label in detail.  James Brown’s presence is heavily felt, and he’s represented with productions from Wendy Lynn (“I Can Remember”), Kay Robinson (“The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow”), Leon Austin (“Steal Away”) and Carlton “King” Coleman (“The Boo Boo Song”).  He’s also a co-writer of The Brownettes’ “Baby, Don’t You Know” and Clay Tyson’s “Clay Tyson (Man on the Moon).”  The Brownettes, formerly the Jewels, performed with the James Brown Revue and frequently sang background vocals on his recordings.  Tyson was another performer in the Revue, a comedian who rapped over the backing track to Brown’s “I Got the Feeling” for “Man on the Moon,” one of this set’s truest curiosities.  Hank Ballard, the writer of “The Twist” who was signed to King in 1953, joined Brown’s revue in 1967.  “Unwind Yourself” from that year’s You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down LP is heard here.

From the post-Brown period, Royal Grooves includes a Leiber/Stoller-produced revival of “Cool Jerk” by The Coasters, and Gloria Edwards’ “(Need Nobody to Help Me) Keep Up with My Man” produced by Huey Meaux’s Crazy Cajun Productions.  Collectors might thrill most to a track from Barbara Burton and the Messengers.  As The Messengers Unlimited with Sonny Morrison as lead singer, they released the rare Soulful Proclamation album. For their lone single on DeLuxe, Barbara took the lead for “Love’s Sweet Water.”  This lost funk workout is so rare, it’s possibly that the single was never actually released, but Ace has liberated the 1972 cut for inclusion here.

Hit the jump for a trip to Memphis! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 30, 2012 at 10:05

Review: Iron Butterfly, “Fillmore East 1968”

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Where were you 44 years ago today?  If you happened to be passing by 105 Second Avenue in New York City’s East Village, you would likely have seen a fantastic group of names displayed on the marquee at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East.  On Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27, 1968, Iron Butterfly shared an explosive bill with Traffic and Blue Cheer.  The Fillmore East itself is now just a memory, of course.  Its exterior and entrance now welcomes you to a bank, and the storied auditorium has been demolished.  But the music recorded at the venue lives on.  Artists as diverse as The Allman Brothers Band, Laura Nyro, Miles Davis and The Mothers of Invention have all released live albums from the Fillmore East.  Recently, Rhino Handmade unveiled another live set from the legendary New York spot with Iron Butterfly’s Fillmore East 1968 (RHM2 526745, 2011).

The new release is culled from the band’s four sets on those two April evenings, three of which are presented in full.  (The Friday late show is incomplete due to tapes of two songs being unusable.)  “A gentleman by the name of Jimi Hendrix will be joining us on Friday night” is the first thing you hear from the Fillmore’s announcer before he introduces Iron Butterfly to the eerie strains of an organ.  We’ll hear variations on this pre-show announcement more than once over these two discs; there’s a definite feeling of déjà vu as the band runs through a tight set four times with some variations in each set.

The sets focus mainly on material from Iron Butterfly’s first album Heavy, and predate the official commercial release of the band’s most famous song, the sprawling “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”  In fact, it hadn’t been recorded yet at the time of these concerts, so there’s no recognition applause for the song.  One wonders, what did the audiences make of the epic song, hearing it for the first time?  Two versions of it are on Fillmore East, the band having saved it for the late shows.  One workout runs 17 minutes, similar to the running time of the studio original; the other take is a comparatively brisk 15 minutes!   Still perhaps the the apotheosis of psychedelic hard-rock excess, “In-A-Gadda” is introduced in the late Saturday set with “This is called ‘In Our Gadda Da Vida…which doesn’t mean a damn thing!”   In addition to the title track, two more songs were previewed from the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album (“My Mirage,” “Are You Happy”).  “Her Favorite Style,” played at Saturday’s late show, wouldn’t arrive on vinyl until 1969’s Ball.

Iron Butterfly can boast one of the most frequently altered line-ups in rock history, with over 50 line-ups having played under the band’s name over the years.  Three of the group’s original five members departed after studio debut Heavy, so Fillmore East offers a chance to hear new members Lee Dorman (bass) and Erik Brann (guitar) joining Doug Ingle (organ/lead vocals) and Ron Bushy (drums) on songs from that album.  Though they hadn’t been playing together for very long, these four members were attuned to each other intimately.  This album makes for a stronger overall collection than the somewhat-maligned 1970 Live album from this same quartet (on which “In-A-Gadda” took up the entire second side!) recorded over a year later, in May 1969.

Hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 27, 2012 at 14:53

Posted in Iron Butterfly, News, Reissues, Reviews

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At The Copa: The Supremes Take New York City By Storm On New Expanded Edition

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The name of the Copacabana conjures up many memories: maybe of Lola’s love triangle with Tony and Rico, maybe of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz trying to get their husbands there in the very first episode of I Love Lucy to air.  The famous New York nightspot opened in 1940 on East 60th Street, playing host to the biggest and brightest names in entertainment and becoming synonymous with sophistication and glamour.  It made headlines when it ended its “no blacks” policy, playing host to acclaimed gigs by Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr. and Sam Cooke.  So it was no surprise that when Berry Gordy wished his top girl group, The Supremes, to cross over to a more “mainstream” (read: white) audience, he got Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson booked into The Copacabana.  The August 1965 engagement was such a success that it led to stands there by Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.  It also yielded the only full live album issued by the classic Supremes trio line-up, and the November release of The Supremes at the Copa scored a respectable No. 11 placement on the Billboard pop chart and fared even better (No. 6) on the R&B survey despite its supper-club repertoire.

Though the original album has briefly appeared on CD before, Hip-o Select is pulling out all the stops for its return to CD, with a 2-disc expanded edition due on May 11 from the label and May 29 at general retail.  Disc One of At The Copa: Expanded Edition kicks off with the remastered original 15-track stereo album.  The repertoire is eclectic, from Motown hits (“Back in My Arms Again,” “Baby Love,” “Stop!  In the Name of Love”) and showtunes (“Put On a Happy Face” from Bye Bye Birdie, “Make Someone Happy” from Do Re Mi, “Somewhere” from West Side Story) to current hit covers (“The Boy From Ipanema”) and even a medley of songs made famous by past Copa headliner Sam Cooke.  However, Supremes aficionados know that this album used lead vocals overdubbed by Diana Ross in the studio.  The expanded edition follows the original album with ten previously unreleased original mono reference mixes, with Ross’ original live lead vocals.

But that’s not all.  There’s much, much more vault material on Disc Two!  Just hit the jump, and you’ll find that information plus a full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 26, 2012 at 10:03

“Going Blank Again,” Again: Ride to Reissue Sophomore Album with Bonus Live Film

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Following Rhino’s great expansion of the debut LP by shoegaze pioneers Ride, the U.K. band are expanding their second album through an independent label with some audiovisual extras packaged in the set.

Going Blank Again, released 20 years ago in 1992, was a bit of an evolution from the traditional, reverb-heavy sounds of their full-length debut, 1990’s Nowhere. While the guitars still had their typical buzzsaw sensibilities, the band experimented with more layered vocals and a less guitar-heavy mix, drawing comparisons with, surprisingly, power-pop labelmates Teenage Fanclub. NME‘s review sums it up nicely: “[Going Blank Again] fills in the lines between Ride’s beauty with cement and then builds like a demon. There is no stone left unturned, as they open up to new reference points…would you believe King Crimson? New Order? The Who? The Beach Boys?”

The deluxe edition of Going Blank Again, to be released through Oxford Music, will feature four bonus tracks from non-LP singles (the same tracks appended on a reissue from Ignition Records in the U.K. in 2001), as well as the first-ever DVD release of Brixton, a 1992 live show released on VHS (and laserdisc in Japan). The show is presented fresh from the original digital video master, with a new audio remix by John Catlin and Catherine Marks (the latter of whom mixed the live show on the bonus disc of Rhino’s Nowhere reissue).

The first 2,000 copies of the album – discounted at £20, from a non-numbered list price of £24 – will be numbered (as of this writing, more than 1,400 are left); of those, 50 random copies will be signed by all four members of the band. A pound from every sale will be donated to the U.K. charity Friends of the Earth Bee Cause.

Check out the set after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 25, 2012 at 15:49

Posted in News, Reissues, Ride

In Case You Missed It: Cold Chillin’ Comp Has Got What You Need

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Here’s a fun one that went under the radar a week or so ago: a new compilation highlighting the early works of rap label Cold Chillin’ Records.

Cold Chillin’, which thrived in the late ’80s and early ’90s, was the home for an informal group of Queens-based artists known as The Juice Crew. Known for their “answer records” and propensity for rapping about “beefs” with rival artists, the Cold Chillin’ roster was comprised of hitmakers like producer Marley Marl, battle rapper MC Shan, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo and – perhaps most famously, rapper/beatboxer Biz Markie, whose comical, somewhat off-key single “Just a Friend” became the label’s biggest hit.

Top 4: The Best of Cold Chillin’ Records includes cuts from those four artists, from album spanning from 1987 to 1992, including Kool G Rap and DJ Polo’s somewhat controversial gangsta album Live and Let Die, which original CC distributor Warner Bros. refused to distribute in the wake of Ice-T’s “Cop Killer” scandal.

This new compilation, distributed by Traffic Entertainment Group (who’ve also done some great expansions of these Cold Chillin’ classics), is available now and yours to order after the jump.

Various Artists, Top 4: The Best of Cold Chillin’ Records (Traffic Entertainment Group TEG-77518-2, 2012)

  1. Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing – MC Shan
  2. The Bridge – MC Shan
  3. Down by Law – MC Shan
  4. Pickin’ Boogers – Biz Markie
  5. Vapors – Biz Markie
  6. Make the Music with Your Mouth Biz – Biz Markie
  7. Droppin’ Science – Marley Marl featuring Craig G.
  8. Duck Alert – Marley Marl featuring Craig G.
  9. Wack Itt – Marley Marl featuring Roxanne Shanté
  10. I Pioneered This – MC Shan
  11. Juice Crew Law – MC Shan
  12. Just a Friend – Biz Markie
  13. Spring Again – Biz Markie
  14. On the Run – Kool G Rap and DJ Polo
  15. Ill Street Blues – Kool G Rap and DJ Polo

Tracks 1-3 from Down by Law (Cold Chillin’ 25676, 1987)
Tracks 4-6 from Goin’ Off (Cold Chillin’ 25675, 1988)
Tracks 7-9 from In Control, Volume 1 (Cold Chillin’ 25783, 1988)
Tracks 10-11 from Born to Be Wild (Cold Chillin’ 25797, 1989)
Tracks 12-13 from The Biz Never Sleeps (Cold Chillin’ 26003, 1989)
Tracks 14-15 from Live and Let Die (Cold Chillin’ CC 5001, 1992)

Written by Mike Duquette

April 25, 2012 at 12:35

Posted in Compilations, News

La-La Land Takes Flight on an Incredibly Vintage Title

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The latest offering from La-La Land Records may be among the oldest music we’ve ever covered for the site! The label is releasing a new recording of J.S. Zamencik’s score to Wings, a 1927 silent picture forever noted by trivia buffs as the first film to take home an Academy Award for Best Picture (or as it was known then, Most Outstanding Production).

Wings, which starred Charles “Buddy” Rogers and Richard Arlen as rival pilots in World War I and Clara Bow as the small-town girl in love with one of them, capitalized on the country’s fascination with flight – owing in no small part to Charles Lindbergh’s recent Transatlantic journey – to become one of the first major recognized successes by the fledgling Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, earning the award for Most Outstanding Production in 1929. (It was only one of two silent films to earn the award; the last was The Artist, released in 2011!)

The score was composed by J.S. Zamecnik, a composer largely forgotten to history but notable for composing the “photoplay” scores to many silent pictures of the era. As such, there was no “original” soundtrack, as the music was played live to picture, usually by an organist in the theater. For Paramount Pictures’ 100th anniversary – an occasion which saw the film restored and released on DVD and Blu-Ray earlier this year – the studio commissioned a new recording of Zamecnik’s music, orchestrated by Dominik Hauser (who’s done scores for DaredevilFreddy vs. Jason and The Chronicles of Riddick, among many others). This 2,000-unit release marks the first time any Zamecnik score has been released as a full album.

Your chance to own a piece of film score history is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 25, 2012 at 11:34

Posted in News, Soundtracks

Let the Good Times Roll: Dr. John, Barbara Lynn, Johnny Adams Featured On New Box Set

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When it comes to two of the most influential labels in New Orleans music history, the vinyl renaissance (celebrated just this past weekend with another successful Record Store Day) is definitely in full swing.  Ric Records and its sister label Ron Records were founded in 1959 by Joe Ruffino, based in New Orleans.  Though the labels were only active for roughly three years, some of New Orleans’ greatest talents passed through the company’s doors.  Mac Rebennack, or Dr. John, served as a writer and producer, and even spent time as label president!  Harold Battiste (Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You, Babe”) was among the other arrangers, and artists on Ric and Ron included Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair, Johnny Adams and Joe Jones.  It was Jones who provided Ric with its biggest hit, “You Talk Too Much”, which peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1960. The now-legendary Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas recorded her first single “(You Can Have My Husband but) Don’t Mess with My Man” for the Ron label.

Rounder Records is celebrating the Ric Records and Ron Records labels with a 10-record box set, From the Vaults of Ric & Ron Records: Rare and Unreleased Recordings 1958-1962.  The box, which was first available on Record Store Day, contains ten 45 RPM singles of rare and unreleased material, including the audition recording by Johnny Adams of “I Won’t Cry.”  This special set is being released in conjunction with the Numero Group in North America and Ace Records in the United Kingdom.  In addition to this vinyl collectible, digital customers have a big treat in store for them.  CD purchasers, however, are being left out in the cold with the digital release of all 140 songs released as 45 RPM singles by Ric and Ron.  These have been released on seven 20-song digital albums.

Hit the jump for more details on Rounder’s new reissue program! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 25, 2012 at 10:02

Posted in Compilations, News, Reissues

Presley’s Jukebox: Bob Dylan, Bobby Darin, Rick Nelson, Jerry Butler Shine on “Elvis Heard Them Here First”

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Though Elvis Presley rose through the ranks of Sun Records alongside artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins (his fellow members of the “Million Dollar Quartet,” if you will), Elvis and Jerry Lee differed from Johnny and Carl in that they primarily leaned upon the songs of others.  Cash and Perkins predated the pop-rock singer/songwriter revolution of the next decade, and in fact, harkened back to an older tradition in country and blues of performing your own material.

Yet by the time the King of Rock and Roll came out of the army, returned from Hollywood and reinvented himself on the concert stage, much had changed.  Armed with their guitars, Bob Dylan and The Beatles had proved that singers didn’t need a cadre of professional writers to craft their songs, whether from New York’s Brill Building or Nashville’s Music Row.  Soon, “singer/songwriter” would enter the lexicon, upping the emotional ante for these “confessional” writers.  “Covers” of existing hits were largely the province of adult-aimed “MOR” singers like Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis.  Where did this leave Elvis Presley?  Ace Records makes a compelling case with the new compilation Elvis Heard Them Here First that Presley simply continued to do what he had done all along: synthesize strains from a wide range of genres and songs into material that was always uniquely “Elvis.”

The 24-track compilation is based on Ace’s You Heard It Here First series, which presents original versions of songs made famous by other interpretive singers.  Producer Tony Rounce acknowledges in his introductory essay that the playing field was rather wide.  Even during those early Sun years, all but three of Elvis’ recordings on the label were of previously-performed songs.  Rather than limiting himself to one era, Rounce collects songs recorded by Elvis between his 1959 return from the Army and his death in 1977.  The disc avoids the overly familiar (Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog,” etc.) and offers up a fascinating journey through the records that just might have inspired Elvis to turn in some of his best vocals.

What songs will you hear?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 24, 2012 at 15:12