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Archive for April 9th, 2012

Put Your Hands Together: Massive 10-CD Philadelphia International Box Due [UPDATED]

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Philadelphia International Records has turned 40, and you’re invited to the party!

Sony’s Legacy Recordings thrilled fans earlier this year with the archival release of Golden Gate Groove, a Don Cornelius-hosted concert that brought together many of the label’s biggest and brightest stars, from the O’Jays to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass.  The folks across the pond at the Harmless label have already dropped Philadelphia International: The Re-Edits, with 21 tracks on 2 CDs from DJs like Todd Terje (Dee Dee Sharp Gamble’s “Easy Money”) and Tim McAllister (Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’ “Be For Real”), and next week sees the 4-CD box Philadelphia International Classics: The Tom Moulton Remixes.  This treasure trove from the father of the 12-inch mix offers the original seven Moulton tracks from the Philadelphia Classics LP, plus seven rare remixes and sixteen brand-new tracks created by Moulton especially for this set.  But these projects are just the tip of the iceberg where the celebration of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s storied label is concerned.

April 9 May 21 is the current date for the Philadelphia International 40th Anniversary Box Set.  The title may be simple, but the music certainly isn’t.  For this 10-CD box set, compilation producer Ralph Tee has created a non-chronological cross-section of the label’s releases between 1971 and 1995 placing emphasis on both hits and rarities.  Tee, the man behind 1986’s 14-LP Philadelphia International box set, has brought under one package over 13-1/2 hours of music from familiar names like Lou Rawls, The O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, The Three Degrees and The Jacksons, as well as cuts from Dick Jensen, Bobby Bennett, Robert Upchurch, Derek & Cyndi, Elliot Hoffman and other names not nearly as recognizable.  Also included within the package will be a 60-page full-size booklet containing sleeve notes and track details from Tee, the author of Who’s Who In Soul Music) while David Grimes offers the first-ever comprehensive discography of all U.S. releases from Philadelphia International and its related labels like Gamble and Golden Fleece.

Hit the jump for more details on this tremendous project including a full track listing (as sourced from SpinCDs and numerous other sites) with exhaustive discography and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Philadelphia Freedom: Dexter Wansel Is “Captured” By Robinsongs

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Welcome to our second feature today spotlighting artists of the Philadelphia International label!  First we looked at The O’Jays’ pre-PIR period!  Now it’s time to look at a lost post-PIR album from Dexter Wansel!

The name of Dexter Wansel may not be as famed as that of Thom Bell, Bobby Martin, Vince Montana, Norman Harris or any of the other talented gentlemen who helped shape the Sound of Philadelphia with Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.  But the Philadelphia-born Wansel made quite an impression in the City of Brotherly Love, eventually becoming one of the leading lights of the Gamble and Huff organization’s “second golden age” of 1976-1983.  A keyboard virtuoso equally at home as a composer, arranger and producer, Wansel recorded four well-regarded albums for Philadelphia International Records’.  Between 1976’s Life on Mars and 1979’s Time is Slipping Away, the versatile Wansel made stabs at funk, jazz, soul and disco, all of which were major components of the Philly Sound.  He also found time to serve as PIR’s director of A&R and contribute to albums from Lou Rawls, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle and others on the label roster.

Robinsongs, a label of the Cherry Red Group, has just turned its attention to a rare post-PIR effort from Dexter Wansel.  Captured was the musician’s 1986 10 Records release which reunited him with PIR alumni Bunny Sigler, The Jones Girls and Cynthia Biggs.  The Wansel/Biggs team had previously penned songs for The Jones Girls including “Nights Over Egypt” in addition to tracks by The Jacksons (“Jump for Joy”), Lou Rawls (“Lover’s Holiday”), Grover Washington Jr. (“The Best is Yet to Come”) and Patti LaBelle (the chart-topping “If Only You Knew”).  A couple of tracks for the album were even recorded at Philadelphia’s hallowed Sigma Sound Studios.  Robinsongs’ edition marks the first appearance of Captured on CD, and includes the 12-inch mix of the title song as a bonus track.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

April 9, 2012 at 13:46

Albert King Will “Play the Blues for You,” with Vault Material

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Here’s a title for Stax fans to mark on their calendars: a reissue of Albert King’s I’ll Play the Blues for You (1972), expanded with four bonus tracks in anticipation of the album’s 40th anniversary.

King was already revered for his work with Stax Records, which he had been signed to since 1966. It was a boom period for the Memphis label, with Otis Redding earning high marks for his crossover performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival and Sam & Dave entering the pop charts with some timeless singles. On I’ll Play the Blues for You, King worked with a different set of musicians than usual, partially out of necessity (most of the members of his band before 1967 were members of The Bar-Kays, and perished in the same plane crash that took Redding’s life). The new Bar-Kays and Isaac Hayes’ backing band The Movement, including bassist James Alexander and drummer Willie Hall, joined King on these decidedly funkier sessions, as did The Memphis Horns.

What followed was, according to music journalist Bill Dahl’s liner notes in the new reissue, “a typically brilliant mixture of pile-driving blues and hot Memphis soul grooves…one of Albert’s best long-players.” The disc featured a number of extended jams, including the two-part title track, which would become one of King’s signature numbers, as well as a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I’ll Be Doggone” and the standard “I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home.”

This new disc, part of Stax’s ongoing reissue and remaster campaign, features four bonus tracks released for the first time anywhere, including alternate takes of “I’ll Play the Blues for You” and “Don’t Burn Down the Bridge” and two entirely unreleased compositions. It’s out May 22 and can be ordered here.
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Written by Mike Duquette

April 9, 2012 at 12:41

Posted in Albert King, News, Reissues

First Stop on the Love Train: The O’Jays’ “Imperial Years” Collected On Shout Label

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The music business has always had a funny way of turning artists into overnight sensations.  But although The O’Jays achieved widespread fame on the Philadelphia International label with 1972’s one-two punch of “Back Stabbers” and “Love Train,” the group hardly broke through overnight.  As the Mascots, the Ohio natives recorded their first single in 1960.  As the O’Jays (named after their manager, Cleveland DJ Eddie O’Jay), they recorded for the Daco, Apollo and Little Star labels.  It was Little Star’s H.B. Barnum, an ace arranger and producer in his own right, who secured The O’Jays a deal with Imperial Records.  The group remained on Imperial until 1966, which brings us to Shout Records’ new anthology We’ll Never Forget You: The Imperial Years 1963-1966.  This compilation marks the very first time that the group’s entire Imperial output as issued during those years has been released on one CD.  It boasts a number of tracks new to CD.

Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, Bill Isles, Bobby Massey and William Powell were all struck by the sheer power and magnetism of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers after witnessing the doo-wop legends on American Bandstand in 1957, and set out to create their own unique vocal blend.  Isles would depart the group during their Imperial stay, and Massey would also exit before the Philadelphia International days. We’ll Never Forget You includes both sides of all 13 singles recorded by the O’Jays for the label, plus two album-only tracks from 1965’s Comin’ Through.  These 28 songs collectively represent their complete Imperial recordings issued between 1963 and 1966.  Some tracks, unreleased at the time, were introduced on the 2002 EMI compilation Working on Your Case, and those are not duplicated here.

Expectedly, the earliest tracks show off doo-wop stylings, but the group didn’t hit its stride until 1963’s “Lonely Drifter,” produced and arranged by Barnum.  Its title notwithstanding, the song is, indeed, Drifters-esque in the sense that it combines dramatic orchestration with soulful vocals and a New York Latin beat.  “Lonely Drifter” placed the group in the U.S. Hot 100 for the first, but not the last, time.  Equally sophisticated is “The Storm is Over,” penned by Levert, Williams and Powell, which shared a single with an early song penned by Jack Nitzsche, “That’s Enough.”  Despite the success of “Lonely Drifter,” the group still searched for a consistent sound, returning to romantic doo-wop balladry with “You’re on Top” and adopting a rock-and-roll beat on “Lovely Dee.”  Both of those songs were written by Brice Coefield and Chester Pipkin of the group The Untouchables.  Yet whichever musical direction The O’Jays pursued, their harmonies were faultless.  These are on full display on another group-written original, “Oh, How You Hurt Me.”  Powell’s falsetto anticipates the smooth Philly soul to come.

Hit the jump for much more, including the full track listing with discography and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 9, 2012 at 11:14

Bellamy Brothers Release Box Set Through Reader’s Digest

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Country-pop crossovers The Bellamy Brothers are releasing a box set through Reader’s Digest, collating four discs’ worth of hits with rare and new tracks.

Howard and David Bellamy, self-taught brothers from Florida who enjoyed mixing traditional country sounds with rock/pop influences, first enjoyed success behind the scenes of the music industry. David wrote Top 5 country hit “Spiders and Snakes” for Jim Stafford, while Howard became his road manager. (Trivia alert: Stafford’s previous manager was a man named Leo Gallagher, who would become a famed stage act when he dropped his first name and took a sledgehammer to a plethora of watermelons.) Eventually, the brothers signed to Curb Records and released an international hit, the soaring “Let Your Love Flow,” in 1976.

The single only hit No. 21 on the country charts, however, and subsequent chart success would be hard to come by until 1979, when the duo scored their first country No. 1 single, “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me.” Thus began a string of country hits through the ’80s (all but one of their singles reached the Top 40 during the decade), released through Curb and distributed by a number of labels, including Warner Bros., Elektra and MCA.

In the ’90s, the brothers eked out some success releasing their recordings on their own label. (They briefly returned to Curb in 2006 for Angels and Outlaws, Vol. 1, a new compilation featuring duets with other country superstars.) They continue to tour and record, garnering some minor controversy in 2010 for the politically charged track “Jalapeños.” That track is one of 60 included on this four-disc set, as well as two new tracks, “Spanish Bible” (to be released on a forthcoming gospel album) and “What a Country.”

You can order the Bellamy box here and check the track list after the jump. (A note on discographical information: the duo have recorded and re-recorded their catalogue in the past, and there’s unfortunately no way as of now to tell which are original masters and which might be re-recorded. To that end, we have not included any sourcing at this time.)

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 9, 2012 at 10:50

Trans-New York Express: Kraftwerk Box Makes Appearance at MoMA Exhibit

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If you’re one of the lucky few attending Kraftwerk’s sold-out week of concerts at New York’s Museum of Modern Art beginning this Tuesday, keep an eye out for a reissue of the band’s much-coveted The Catalogue box set to be sold at the gigs.

The influential German electronic band’s exhibit, Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, will feature, over eight nights, the group performing one album in full each night (from 1974’s Autobahn to 2003’s Tour de France Soundtracks), augmented with additional performances and multimedia including 3-D projections.

Of course, ardent and patient fans have known that this is not too dissimilar to the remastering and reissuing of the band’s catalogue in 2009’s The Catalogue box set. Initially scheduled for release in 2004 under the title 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, the box of remasters was not released until five years later. (Individual remasters of all albums were released in the U.S., barring Computer World (1981), Electric Café (1986) and The Mix (1991), tied up by licensing restrictions.)

While the MoMA-exclusive box – which is also on sale through the museum’s online store – features the same musical material as the original release of The Catalogue, it will feature new, limited-edition artwork. Only 2,000 numbered copies will be produced.

Kraftwerk, Der Katalog / The Catalogue (Kling Klang/EMI (DE) / Kling Klang/Astralwerks (U.S.) KLANGBOX002, 2009)

Disc 1: Autobahn (originally released as Philips 6305 231-D, 1974)
Disc 2: Radio-Aktivität (originally released as Kling Klang 1C 062-82 087, 1975)
Disc 3: Trans Europa Express (originally released as Kling Klang 1C 064-82 306, 1977)
Disc 4: Die Mensch-Maschine (originally released as Kling Klang 1C 058-32 843, 1978)
Disc 5: Computerwelt (originally released as Kling Klang 1C 064-46 311, 1981)
Disc 6: Techno Pop (originally released as Electric Café – Kling Klang 1C 064-24 0654 1, 1986)
Disc 7: The Mix (originally released as Kling Klang 1C 164-7 96650 1, 1991)
Disc 8: Tour de France (originally released as Tour de France Soundtracks  – Kling Klang 591 708 1, 2003)

Written by Mike Duquette

April 9, 2012 at 09:37