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Archive for April 16th, 2012

The Hungry Years: Neil Sedaka’s “Tra-La Days” and “Overnight Success” Arrive on CD, 10cc and Elton John Guest

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From “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen” to “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” Neil Sedaka drew on a seemingly endless well of onomatopoeic hooks to enliven his early rock-and-roll records, leaving no Tra-la-la or do-be-doo untouched.  The Juilliard-trained musician and native of Brooklyn, New York was one of the relatively rare few rockers of his generation equally adept at both performing and songwriting.  As active members of Don Kirshner’s Aldon Music stable (alongside Carole King and Gerry Goffin as well as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil!), Sedaka and his frequent lyricist Howard Greenfield turned out one tune after another for a great number of famous artists including Connie Francis, Bobby Darin, and Little Anthony and the Imperials.

As an artist, however, Sedaka’s last hit in the U.S. had come in 1965, and he’d tried to make it over the next few years almost exclusively as a songwriter in the waning days of the Brill Building scene.  Sedaka found it difficult to compete with the new breed of singer/songwriters, although he had written his own material in tandem with Greenfield since he was a teenager!  Though RCA Victor dumped his recording contract in 1966, he found success in the latter part of the decade supplying songs for The 5th Dimension, The Monkees, Tom Jones, Frankie Valli and others.  Sedaka’s rebirth as a recording artist began with 1971’s Emergence, recorded for Aldon boss Don Kirshner’s own Kirshner Records label. Sedaka followed that with 1972’s Solitaire, teaming with new lyricist Phil Cody and musicians Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, then members of the band Hotlegs and soon to take the pop world by storm as 10cc.  Solitaire was recorded at the band’s own Strawberry Studios, and signaled the beginning of a new phase in Sedaka’s career, with the title track recognized as an instant standard and one of Sedaka’s finest compositions.

That brings us to 1973’s The Tra-La Days Are Over, an album making its long-awaited return via a CD set from BGO, pairing it with 1975’s Overnight Success for release today, April 16.  Like its predecessor Solitaire, The Tra-La Days Are Over didn’t even warrant an American release at the time, but its success in the U.K. was sufficient for Sedaka to stage a comeback in his home country.  This marks a continuation of BGO’s Sedaka series which previously saw Emergence and Solitaire combined as one package.

Hit the jump to explore both of these albums, plus you’ll find a track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 16, 2012 at 16:15

Take Off the Mask: Greg Phillinganes’ “Pulse” Expanded by Big Break Records

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Never a label to count out in the R&B reissue game, one of Big Break Records’ latest reissues is guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of liner note hounds everywhere: Pulse, the second solo album from keyboard legend Greg Phillinganes.

While the 28-year-old Phillinganes may not have been a household name when Pulse was released at the end of 1984, anyone with a serious ear for pop and R&B had likely already heard his work: from 1976 to 1981, he served as a keyboardist for Stevie Wonder’s backing band, Wonderlove. Crucially, he enjoyed a partnership with Michael Jackson and his musical family, laying down tracks for The Jacksons’ sublime Destiny (1978) and Triumph (1981) albums and all of Michael’s groundbreaking solo Epic albums from 1979’s Off the Wall to 1995’s HIStory. His place in the Jackson legend has been further cemented as the keyboardist and bandleader of the ensemble playing in Cirque Du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour show.

But before that, Phillinganes was a major player in one of Jackson’s most sought-after unreleased songs: “Behind the Mask.” Part cover, part adaptation of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Yellow Magic Orchestra song from 1979, it was left off the lineup for Thriller in 1982 due to royalty disputes. Phillinganes performed his own take the song, and took it to the Top 5 on Billboard‘s dance charts. Two years later, a cover by Eric Clapton, featuring keyboards and background vocals by Phillinganes, was a Top 20 U.K. hit. (A heavily-remixed version of Jackson’s original track was finally released in 2010 on the posthumous Michael album.)

“Behind the Mask” is but one centerpiece on the album, which features guest work from a heap of other legendary session players and stars (Nathan East on bass, Michael Boddicker on synths, percussion from Paulinho da Costa and special appearances by The Pointer Sisters, James Ingram and Robbie Nevil). This newly remastered edition includes instrumental and extended mixes of singles “Mask” and “Playin’ with Fire” as well as the rare non-LP track “Only You.”

The expanded Pulse is due out April 30 in the U.K. and a week later in the States. Hit the jump for the full scoop.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 16, 2012 at 15:54

Beat Crazy: Legendary Ska Group to Receive Catalogue Overhaul in Two Countries!

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In what is quite possibly the first such occurrence since The Second Disc opened up shop in 2010, one popular ska band from England is getting two very different sets of catalogue reissues in their native land as well as the United States.

The Beat – known as The English Beat in North America – were among the top bands of the late-’70s/early-’80s ska revival in England. With an eclectic lineup (Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger sharing lead vocals, Andy Cox on guitar, bassist David Steele, drummer Roger Morton and Lionel “Saxa” Martin on saxophone) and some of the catchiest tunes of the genre (“Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Hands Off…She’s Mine,” “Too Nice to Talk To” and a cover of The Miracles’ “Tears of a Clown” were all U.K. Top 10 hits), The Beat cut a large swath in British rock with their short but sweet run of three albums from 1980 to 1982.

The band broke up in 1983, and its members found more success throughout the ’80s in other outfits (Wakeling and Roger formed General Public, while Cox and Steele joined vocalist Roland Gift to form Fine Young Cannibals). In 2003, Wakeling, Roger, Morton and Saxa performed at the Royal Albert Hall for a sold-out, one-off gig; since then, the band has rather confusingly toured in two iterations across both sides of the Atlantic, with Roger being the sole member of The Beat in the U.K. and Wakeling heading The English Beat (currently on tour with Squeeze) in America.

Now, The Beat are getting celebratory catalogue releases from two labels internationally: Shout! Factory in the U.S., and Edsel in their native England. The British reissues of albums I Just Can’t Stop It (1980), Wha’ppen? (1981) and Special Beat Service (1982) are due out on June 25; however, full specifications have not been released, outside of Amazon U.K. listings citing the sets as 2 CD/1 DVD packages.

The U.S. titles are coming out July 10, and are anchored around three sets. First, and most excitingly, is The Complete Beat, a five-disc box set featuring I Just Can’t Stop ItWha’ppen? and Special Beat Service, all expanded with B-sides, plus two “Bonus Beat” discs, one of 12″ dubs and remixes and another featuring almost entirely unreleased live material, including three complete BBC sessions with John Peel. (One track from those Peel sessions, along with U.K. B-side “Which Side of the Bed…?” can now be streamed at Rolling Stone‘s website.)

There’s also going to be Keep The Beat, a brand-new career-spanning compilation (admittedly, one of many). And finally, the band’s 1983 set at The US Festival will be released as a CD/DVD set as well. (Currently, it is only listed as a free gift with purchases of the box set from Shout! Factory’s official store.)

While we wait for track listings for the Edsel sets, we do have the track lists for Keep the Beat and The Complete Beat to share after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 16, 2012 at 13:47

Reissue Theory: Guns N’ Roses, “Appetite for Destruction: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Now that they’re safely ensconced in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s time to imagine a deluxe edition of Guns N’ Roses’ landmark debut album – and we think we made up a pretty good list.

It’s safe to say the door has finally, unquestionably closed on the classic Guns N’ Roses lineup as of this weekend, when the legendary California hard-rockers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Original members Slash, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler, as well as Use Your Illusion-era members Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke, took to the stage to perform some of their biggest hits for an enthusiastic crowd. (The other two founding members, Izzy Stradlin and W. Axl Rose, did not attend, with vocalist Rose writing a strong but somewhat-measured letter declining his honor.)

Of course, Rose has been shedding original GN’R members since the mid-’90s, and had lost all of them by 1997. And since 1993’s covers album The Spaghetti Incident? there’s only been one album of Guns material: the long-gestating, semi-passable Chinese Democracy (2008). But no matter your opinion on the mercurial frontman’s stance on the Rock Hall induction, it is near impossible to deny that when Guns N’ Roses are good – regardless of whatever drama surrounds them – they’re damned good.

And, as late ’80s rock albums and certainly debut albums go, Appetite for Destruction ranks deservedly high on the list.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 16, 2012 at 12:34

Posted in Features, Guns N' Roses, Reissues

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Get Up, Stand Up: “Marley” Soundtrack Chronicles Reggae Legend in Song

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With the impending release of Marley, a new documentary chronicling the life and work of Jamaica’s favorite son, Universal is releasing a new compilation of tunes featured in the movie, featuring a few rare and unreleased goodies.

Robert Nestor Marley remains one of the definitive forces in the reggae genre. From his early works as a member of The Wailers alongside fellow legends Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, to his reinvention of the group as a backing band for his increasingly beautiful, rhythmic and socially-conscious records in the mid-1970s, Marley remains a pioneer who is arguably responsible for the Western world taking any interest in the genre. (The 1984 compilation Legend, released three years after the singer passed away, remains the biggest-selling album of the genre.)

While the Marley soundtrack (to be released over two compact discs and three vinyl albums) features Marley and The Wailers’ biggest hits, including “Stir It Up,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” “Three Little Birds” and “One Love/People Get Ready,” there are a few surprises to be had. In addition to the inclusion of a great deal of early Wailers material, much of which was released in the mid-’60s on Jamaican labels like Upsetter, Beverley’s and Marley’s own Wail’n Soul’m, and only belatedly introduced to American audiences on collectors’ sets like 1992’s Songs of Freedom box set, there is one completely unreleased track: a live version of “Jammin'” at the One Love Peace Concert held in Kingston in 1978. The concert, intended to quell political and social unrest in Marley’s home country, was the singer’s first live appearance there since surviving an assassination attempt two years earlier. During this performance, Marley invited Prime Minister Michael Manley and his rival, Jamaican Labour Party leader Edward Seaga, to the stage and held hands with them both – a striking gesture of Marley’s tireless efforts for peace.

The soundtrack is available Tuesday, April 17, and the full track list is after the jump.

Bob Marley & The Wailers, Marley: The Original Soundtrack (Tuff Gong/Island B0016736-02, 2012)

Disc 1

  1. Corner Stone
  2. Judge Not
  3. Simmer Down
  4. Small Axe
  5. Mellow Mood
  6. Stir It Up
  7. Concrete Jungle
  8. Crazy Baldhead
  9. Natty Dread
  10. Trenchtown Rock (Live @ The Roxy, West Hollywood – 5/26/1976)
  11. Get Up, Stand Up
  12. Work

Disc 2

  1. Jammin’ (Live @ The National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica – 4/22/1978)
  2. Exodus Dub (Kindred Spirit Dub Mix)
  3. No Woman, No Cry (Live @ The Lyceum, London – 7/18/1974)
  4. War/No More Trouble (Live @ The Rainbow, London – 6/4/1977)
  5. I Shot the Sheriff (Live @ The Lyceum, London – 7/18/1974)
  6. Roots, Rock, Reggae
  7. Three Little Birds
  8. Real Situation
  9. Could You Be Loved
  10. One Love/People Get Ready
  11. Redemption Song
  12. High Tide, Low Tide

Disc 1, Track 1 from Soul Rebels (Upsetter/Trojan, 1970)
Disc 1, Track 2 released on Beverley’s single, 1962
Disc 1, Track 3 from The Wailing Wailers (Studio One, 1965)
Disc 1, Tracks 4 and 11 from Burnin’ (Tuff Gong/Island, 1973)
Disc 1, Track 5 released on Wail’n Soul’m single, 1966
Disc 1, Tracks 6-7 from Catch a Fire (Tuff Gong/Island, 1973)
Disc 1, Track 8 and Disc 2, Track 6 from Rastaman Vibration (Tuff Gong/Island, 1976)
Disc 1, Track 9 from Natty Dread (Tuff Gong/Island, 1974)
Disc 1, Track 10 from Natural Mystic (Tuff Gong/Island, 1995)
Disc 1, Track 12 and Disc 2, Tracks 8-9 and 11 from Uprising (Tuff Gong/Island, 1980)
Disc 2, Track 1 previously unreleased
Disc 2, Track 2 released on Tuff Gong/Island 12″ single (U.K.), 1992
Disc 2, Tracks 3 and 5 from Live! (Tuff Gong/Island, 1975)
Disc 2, Track 4 from Exodus: Deluxe Edition (Tuff Gong/Island, 2001)
Disc 2, Tracks 7 and 10 from Exodus (Tuff Gong/Island, 1977)
Disc 2, Track 12 first released on Songs of Freedom (Tuff Gong/Island, 1992)

Written by Mike Duquette

April 16, 2012 at 12:20

King of Cool: Career-Spanning Dean Martin Box Set “Collected Cool” Coming in June, Uncut Dino DVDs Arriving in May

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How lucky can one guy be?  Although Dean Martin’s exhaustive catalogue has been definitively anthologized on four massive box sets released by Germany’s Bear Family label between 1997 and 2001, unheard material from the King of Cool continues to be discovered.  Reporting in February 2011 about the then-recent Cool Then, Cool Now 2-CD/book box set, this writer opined: “A true career retrospective box with material from each label and era would be essential for those Martin fans looking for more than single-disc compilations but less than 30 discs from Bear Family! How a three- or four-CD treatment in that vein has eluded Martin this long is a mystery.”  Now, such a box set is here.

On June 12, 2012, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) will release Collected Cool, a 3-CD/1-DVD collection that is being touted as the “first and only career-defining box set” for the late and much-loved crooner.  It includes selections from his tenures on the Capitol and Reprise labels plus two previously unreleased concerts, one in CD format and one on DVD.  The concert CD preserves a 1962 Lake Tahoe show at Cal-Neva Lodge in full; only selected tracks have been made available in the past.  The DVD jumps forward to 1983 and a London performance at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.  This program was aired on cable in 1983 and hasn’t been seen since.

Disc One covers the Capitol Records period between 1949 and 1961 and includes a spoken word introduction taped in 1949.  During his fruitful period at Capitol, Martin made a splash with such Italian- flavored songs as “That’s Amore” (a No. 2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100), “Return to Me” (No. 4) and “Volare” (No.  12).   This disc’s nineteen tracks also include lesser-known songs like Martin’s homage to his friend Bing Crosby, 1953’s “If I Could Sing Like Bing,” and “My Own, My Only, My All,” one of his very first singles for Capitol.  Martin’s film career was in full swing during the Capitol years, and he teams with Jerry Lewis on “Pardners” from their 1956 film of the same name.  The theme to 1959’s Rio Bravo (which starred Martin opposite John Wayne and Rick Nelson) has also been included.  Frank Sinatra conducted Pete King’s arrangements for Martin’s 1959 album Sleep Warm, and its title track has made the cut.

Hit the jump to explore Discs 2 through 4 of this career-spanning box.  You’ll also find a complete track listing with discography!  We’ve also got news on the upcoming Uncut release of The Dean Martin Show! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 16, 2012 at 09:32