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Archive for April 3rd, 2012

Review: Johnny Cash, “Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth”

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“John, let’s do a shot for the warden,” photographer Jim Marshall reportedly implored Johnny Cash during the singer’s 1969 performance at San Quentin Prison.  Cash’s snarling response, with his middle finger in air, made for one of the most famous music photographs of all time.   Cropping up on T-shirts, posters and the like, Marshall captured the outlaw side of Johnny Cash like no photographer before or since.  Though it might have, indeed, been worth a thousand words, the image still only revealed part of the story of John R. Cash.  At the foundation of Cash’s life and music-making was his spiritual fervor, ingrained in him from an early age.  His devotion to gospel music stayed with him throughout his career, from one of his earliest albums (1959’s Hymns with Johnny Cash) through one of his very last (2003’s posthumous My Mother’s Hymn Book).  Late in life, The Man in Black even recorded the entire New Testament as a spoken-word multi-CD set.  Columbia/Legacy’s fourth installment of Cash’s Bootleg Series is entirely devoted to this aspect of the Cash canon, and as such, The Soul of Truth (88697 98538 2, 2012) may be the most raw, personal entry in the series yet.

The Bootleg Series launched in 2006 with Personal File’s 49 previously unissued home-recorded songs, belatedly resuming four years later with From Memphis to Hollywood.  Its 57 rare tracks included 16 wholly unreleased titles spanning the period of 1954-1969.  2011’s Live Around the World focused solely on live recordings, with 39 of 51 tracks previously unreleased.  This fourth volume takes a different approach, reissuing three long out-of-print albums in full and adding appropriate outtakes and rare, related material.

Bootleg IV’s first disc contains the twenty tracks recorded for Cachet Records’ 1979 double album A Believer Sings the Truth. (Half of its songs were reprised under the same name in 1982 on Priority Records, Columbia’s boutique gospel imprint.)  Arrival Records’ 1984 LP I Believe… also drew on tracks from A Believer, adding four more recordings.  Those four songs are now appended to the original twenty.  The final cut on the first disc gives the new compilation its title. “Truth” is believed to have been based on a poem written by The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. He presented the poem to Cash, who set it to music but never released the track. The poem was, in fact, written by Sufi leader Hazrat Inayat Khan and contains the pivotal line, “The soul of truth is God.”  It makes its debut here.

The second disc starts off with twelve tracks recorded in 1975 for an untitled LP. Two of these tracks have appeared on compilations over the past five years, but the album was never released until now in its intended form.  (It may have been shelved because Cash already had released one gospel album in 1975, Sings Precious Memories.)  Disc 2 continues with the ten tracks from Word Records’ 1986 release Believe in Him, but in their original sequence as selected for Priority’s withdrawn 1983 release Gospel Singer.  Four previously unissued outtakes from the same sessions complete this disc.

A Believer Sings the Truth (1979) is this set’s rightful centerpiece.  A lengthy, sprawling double album that encompasses many musical styles, it features a large group of musicians including, of course, Bob Wootton, Marshall Grant and W.S. “Fluke” Holland as well as Jack Clement, The Carter Family and the 21st Century Singers.  The great majority of the songs here are originals, either by Cash or others, rather than adaptations of traditional religious standards.  Themes of family, heritage and America run side by side with spirituality in Cash’s world.  In “Lay Me Down in Dixie,” a duet with daughter Cindy Cash, Johnny and Cindy wax rhapsodic about the sound of a southern drawl!  Like his secular songs, these tracks reflect the artist’s core values.  As Cash’s son John Carter Cash admits in the liner notes, “[he] had never stopped professing or singing about his faith, but he had wandered away from it” in the throes of pill addiction in 1967.  At that time and for the rest of his life, he found the strength to express those values in music even during the periods when life’s temptations kept him from embracing them in practice.

We pick up after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 3, 2012 at 14:02

Posted in Features, Johnny Cash, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Happy Birthday, Doris Day! Screen Legend Celebrated With “Ultimate Collection” and TCM “Smile and a Song”

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Doris Day made quite a splash in 2011 when My Heart, her first album of primarily original material in some seventeen years, entered the British album charts with a Top 10 placement.  The singer, actress and animal rights activist turns 88 today, April 3.  Day remains greatly beloved around the world, and our coverage of My Heart quickly became one of The Second Disc’s most-visited articles since our inception in January 2010.  Now, two new releases are looking back on her rich musical legacy.  We have previously reported on With a Smile and a Song, a 2-CD anthology released by Sony Masterworks in conjunction with Turner Classic Movies and Warner Home Video.  It arrives in stores today and coincides with a new 4-DVD box set from Warner Home Video, TCM Greatest Legends: Doris Day, and a 5-night “Star of the Month” retrospective on the cable network.  Across the pond, Sony Music has delivered The Ultimate Collection, a single-disc set bringing the Day catalogue up to the present day with the inclusion of two tracks from My Heart.

With a Smile and a Song has been curated by the great lady herself, with two 15-track CDs.  Though many of Day’s all-time favorites are present, this isn’t a typical “greatest hits” set.  Songs like “Everybody Loves a Lover” and “Move Over, Darling” among the absent titles.  The first disc is dedicated to “The Leading Lady of Movies,” featuring songs performed by Day on the silver screen from motion pictures like Love Me or Leave Me, Billy Rose’s Jumbo and of course, The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which Day introduced Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera).”  Calamity Jane’s classic “Secret Love” is here, as is the title song to Pillow Talk and Romance on the High Seas’ memorable “It’s Magic.”

The second disc of With a Smile and a Song, “The Leading Lady of Song,” is no less impressive, offering tracks from the late 1940s right up through the mid-1960s.  Two tracks are offered from Day’s sublime 1962 pairing with Andre Previn, Duet, while another two songs from Latin for Lovers see the singer addressing the bossa nova phenomenon.  Some of America’s greatest composers are represented on this disc, including Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and George Gershwin, and the collection’s namesake is also heard here.  “With a Smile and a Song,” from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, also titled Day’s 1965 Columbia album for children of all ages.

Hit the jump for details on The Ultimate Collection, plus track listing and discography for both releases, as well as news of the Warner Home Video box set and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 3, 2012 at 11:01

Intrada Conjures Disney Magic with “The Black Cauldron”

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Here’s a real treat for Disney fans coming from their co-branded series wit Intrada Records: the premiere release of Elmer Bernstein’s original score to the studio’s controversial animated feature The Black Cauldron.

Based on the Welsh mythology-inspired fantasy series The Chronicles of PrydainCauldron is the tale of Taran, a young pig-keeper embarks on adventure to save his home from the fearsome Horned King and his armies of the undead. As Joe explained it in our Disney/Intrada wishlist post (by the way, that’s three scores from our post that have now been released!), Cauldron arguably marked the lowest point in Disney feature animation. At the time the most expensive animated film ever made, The Black Cauldron was a costly failure. Audiences stayed away from this dark, intense fantasy which controversially earned the studio its first PG rating ever for an animated film. It collapsed under the weight of its own ambition: Cauldron was the first Disney film since Sleeping Beauty to be shot in 70 mm, boasted the studio’s first-ever use of groundbreaking CGI and boasted advances in surround sound.

One thing the film had going for it, though, was Elmer Bernstein’s sweeping score. The veteran composer lent his typical orchestral flourishes to a score equally inspired by his spate of scores for the sci-fi/fantasy genre, then most recently the off-the-wall soundtrack to Ghostbusters. Perhaps due to the film’s box-office failure, the soundtrack got short shrift on home media: a half-hour of re-recorded cues performed by Bernstein with the Utah Symphony Orchestra was released by Varese Sarabande alongside the film, and re-released on iTunes by Disney in 2007.

Now, though, Intrada presents the complete, original score as heard in the film, remastered from the original elements and produced by Disney soundtrack guru Randy Thornton. It’s 75 minutes of music with a new package featuring liner notes by Jeff Bond and rare behind-the-scenes photos from the film and scoring sessions. It looks to be a hit for Disney fanatics who’ve doubtlessly paid a pretty penny for the original soundtrack LP and CD. Hit the jump to order your copy now!

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 3, 2012 at 10:03

Release Round-Up: Week of April 3

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Johnny Cash, Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth (Columbia/Legacy)

Three complete gospel albums – one of which was never released – and a heap of unreleased material make this one to look out for if you like The Man in Black at his sacred best.

Morrissey, Viva Hate: Deluxe Edition (Liberty/EMI)

If you can call it that, an expanded edition of Moz’s debut album, remastered with one bonus track, one edited track and one excised track.

Elvis Costello & The Imposters, The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! (Hip-O/UMe)

The standalone CD and DVD contents of that box set that everyone rightfully hated, including Costello himself.

Doris Day, With a Smile and a Song (Turner Classic Movies/Sony Masterworks)

Just in time for the legend’s birthday! A two-disc set of highlights personally selected by Day, devoted equally to her songs in film and on standalone albums.

fIREHOSE, lowFLOWs”: The Columbia Anthology 1991-1993 (Columbia/Legacy)

Mike Watt’s late ’80s/early ’90s punk trio’s last two albums, with a heap of B-sides and rarities, in honor of fIREHOSE’s reunion tour.

The Human League, Dare: Deluxe Edition (Virgin/EMI)

Don’t you want this expanded edition of the British synthpop band’s breakthrough album?

The Smiths, The Smiths Hatful of Hollow / Meat is Murder The Queen is Dead The World Won’t Listen Louder Than Bombs Strangeways, Here We Come / “Rank” (Sire/Rhino)

The remasters released in that mega box set last year are now available on their own.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 3, 2012 at 08:35