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Archive for April 23rd, 2012

Review: Sam & Dave and Philip Bailey, Expanded Editions from Edsel

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Mention “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and chances are you can hear that confident, swaggering horn riff that insistently opens the Sam and Dave classic.  Indeed, all you really need to know is in that riff!  All four albums recorded by Sam and Dave for Stax/Atlantic have been collected by Edsel on two new releases, and these expanded editions (including various single sides) add up to true cornerstones for any R&B or soul music library.  But the label hasn’t stopped there.  A very different kind of R&B is on display on a two-on-one CD bringing back to print two of the three secular albums recorded for Columbia Records by Earth Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey.  Liner notes for both the Sam and Dave and Bailey titles have been provided by Tony Rounce, and the annotator is able to draw a line between these early soul men and a latter-day great.

Sam Moore & Dave Prater were actually signed by Jerry Wexler to the Atlantic label proper, but almost immediately loaned out to the Stax label, then distributed by Atlantic.  Wexler must have intuitively sensed that the company’s New York uptown soul stylings wouldn’t be quite right for the duo, but that the Stax team could work their magic on the vocal duo.  Eight of the songs on that first album released in April 1966 and entitled Hold On, I’m Comin’ after the hit single were co-written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, arguably as important a duo as the titular one.  They made equally important contributions on all four of the albums collected by Edsel, including five of the songwriting credits on the follow-up Double Dynamite, with which Hold On is paired as Edsel EDSS 1035.

Still one of the Stax label’s calling cards, the Hayes/Porter single was an R&B chart topper, the first such for the label since 1962’s “Green Onions.”  (Odd footnote:  the reissue adds a “g” to “comin’” on the spine and album cover, while Atlantic actually pressed a second printing with “I’m A-Comin’” to avoid any risqué suggestion in the title phrase!)  The album itself doesn’t live up to the high standards of its title track, containing five previously-issued tracks.  It’s a fine listening experience but not a true “album” in the classic sense, as Stax was very much a singles-oriented company at that time.  One does wonder, however, why the duo was riding a turtle on the cover, for they were definitely in the fast lane, from the greasy “Ease Me” (“with your lovin’”) to the churchy ballad “Just Me.”  Steve Cropper and Eddie (“Knock on Wood”) Floyd’s “I Got Everything I Need” is a Memphis soul stew with a sound instantly recognizable to any fan of deep southern soul – impassioned vocals, languid piano contrasting with sly, smoking horns, rock-steady drums, crisp guitars.  Floyd also teamed with Willa Parker to write “Don’t Make It So Hard on Me,” and the album’s twelve tracks make for a pleasing bag of tunes in various tempi but all suited to the same mood and themes of love lost and found.

The driving “You Don’t Know Like I Know” is heard here in mono, while all of the other album tracks are in stereo; the stereo version was missing an overdub so Edsel opted to include the more “complete” mono version.  Three singles have been appended to Hold On, I’m Comin’.

Much had changed in just a few months by winter 1966 when Double Dynamite was released in January 1967.  The Summer of Love was just around the corner.  The groovy, psychedelic cover art may have been a concession to the times, but the music within was still timeless.  It’s not a markedly different album in tone than its predecessor; “You Got Me Hummin’” is the highlight, but this unusual funk workout failed to make a big noise at the time for Sam and Dave.  “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” offers a more muscular (modern?) sound but the Hayes/Porter song lacked the hook and memorable riff of “Hold On,” the yardstick by which every subsequent Sam and Dave song would be measured.

For the first time, cover versions were introduced into the mix including Sam Cooke’s “Soothe Me” and Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s “I’m Your Puppet” (a hit for another soul duo, James and Bobby Purify).  Though the chorus harmonies of Sam and Dave were uniquely their own, the production lacks the distinctive glockenspiel echoes of the Purifys’ version but otherwise stays true to the blueprint.  But, boy, did the Porter/Hayes team deliver with “When Something’s Wrong with My Baby,” a stone-cold ballad classic.  It barely missed the Top 40 but this song (actually recorded first by Charlie Rich) gave Moore and Prater their best placing in many singles.

Hit the jump for Edsel’s second Sam and Dave release, plus Philip Bailey’s Chinese Wall/Inside Out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 23, 2012 at 14:55

Back Tracks: Men at Work

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The sudden, recent news of the passing of Greg Ham, saxophonist/flautist and founding member of Australian rock band Men at Work, comes at a strange and sad time. Yesterday in fact marked the 30th anniversary of the release of the band’s breakthrough debut, Business As Usual, in America. More importantly, though, it’s the sad loss of a figure who contributed a lot to early ’80s rock music.

Ham, who was 58, was the spice that set Men at Work’s hard driving, New Wave-inspired sounds apart from their international contemporaries. Scottish-born, Australian-raised vocalist Colin Hay had a keening tenor that recalled Sting in places, and guitarist Ron Strykert’s textures could really turn heads on some songs. But that extra magic on the band’s first two chart-topping singles, “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under,” was all Ham’s, who lent his talents to the saxophone riff of the former and the flute figure of the latter. In a statement, Hay praised the work of his bandmate and friend for 40 years. “The saxophone solo on “Who Can It Be Now” was the rehearsal take. We kept it, that was the one. He’s here forever.”

It’s interesting, then, that the band only had three studio albums to their credit, making for a pretty swift overview by way of reissues and compilations. Join us in paying tribute to Hay, Ham and the rest of Men at Work with this special Back Tracks trip down memory lane.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 23, 2012 at 12:46

Posted in Compilations, Men at Work, News, Reissues

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Do It Again: Beach Boys Include New Track on Commemorative 50th Anniversary Magazine and CD

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The Beach Boys are finally, officially ready to “Do It Again.”  America’s Band kicks off its 50th Anniversary Tour on Tuesday evening in Tucson, Arizona, and a new single, “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” should hit the airwaves imminently, with a promotional video already having been leaked to the public.  With the band’s as-yet-untitled new album currently listed on numerous retail sites for a June 5 release but as yet unconfirmed by Capitol Records, news is here about the first music release to tie in with the reunion tour.  May 1 is the date for The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Commemorative ‘ZinePak, a CD/magazine hybrid to be available exclusively at Wal-Mart.  Tantalizingly, the ‘ZinePak will include the group’s recent re-recording of its 1968 hit “Do It Again,” for the first time on CD as part of the set’s 11-track compilation disc.

‘ZinePak was founded just last year by Kim Kaupe, 26, and Brittany Hodak, 28, of New York.  The upstart company has already thrived with the successful release of over one dozen ‘ZinePaks including sets featuring Selena Gomez, Scotty McCreery and Rascal Flatts.  The Academy of Country Music Awards’ ‘Zinepak actually debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, No. 4 on Top Compilation Albums and No. 19 on Top Independent Albums.  The Beach Boys edition, co-produced with Capitol Records, might be the highest –profile project yet for the young company and its first major entrée into the classic rock marketplace.  (The collectible CD/magazine concept isn’t unique to ‘Zinepak, however.   We spotlighted the WHSmith-exclusive “Bookazine” for Matt Monro last October.)

Hit the jump for more on what to expect from this 50th anniversary tribute set including the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 23, 2012 at 11:22

Here’s Wha’ppening with Edsel’s Beat Reissues

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The Beat - I Just Can't Stop It coverAs previously reported, the discography of British ska band The Beat (or as they’re primarily known in the States, The English Beat) is getting the expanded reissue treatment by two separate labels across the globe. Shout! Factory is releasing a five-disc box set featuring all three of the band’s albums, B-sides, remixes and Peel sessions, as well as a new compilation and a CD/DVD of the band’s US Festival performance in 1983. Now, we can share the details of U.K. label Edsel’s forthcoming presentations of these albums. (Special thanks to super-reader John for the tip!)

Since it’s never easy being a catalogue enthusiast, it’s our duty to tell Beat superfans that you’ll have to buy both the new box and these 2 CD/1 DVD reissues if you want absolutely everything. On the audio side, there’s a hefty bit of overlap between the two. The major bits that the Edsel sets have that Shout! Factory’s do not are:

  • Extra remixes: in addition to the few mixes of “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “I Confess” and “Ackee 1-2-3” commissioned to promote the first Beat compilation What is Beatin 1983, these reissues also feature (on the I Just Can’t Stop It bonus disc) four remixes created for 1996’s B.P.M. hits set.
  • More live material: The Edsel reissues include not only the three John Peel BBC sessions being released on Shout! Factory’s box (plus an extra track on the 1982 session), but extra vintage sessions conducted by Mike Read in 1980 and a track recorded for David Jensen in 1982. A handful of live tracks recorded at the Hammersmith Palais in October 1982 that became B-sides for several configurations of the single “I Confess” have been resequenced and added to the Special Beat Service bonus disc. The Edsel sets do not, however, include the live cuts recorded in Boston that feature on The Complete Beat box.
  • Video content: None of the promo videos or live bits recorded for Top of the PopsThe Tube and others appear in Shout! Factory’s reissues, so Edsel wins this round.
  • An unreleased track: the Special Beat Service-era outtake “It Makes Me Rock” makes its first appearance anywhere on the expanded edition of that album.

Edsel’s sets will be out in U.K. shops June 25, a few weeks before Shout! Factory’s box set arrives on our shores. Hit the jump for a full breakdown of the Edsel sets, and participate in our poll to let us know which of The Beat’s newest sets you’ll be getting!

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 23, 2012 at 10:15

Step Inside Love: Cilla Black’s Historic Recordings with George Martin Collected In Complete 5 CD/1 DVD Box Set [UPDATED 4/23]

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What’s it all about, Cilla?

Though “Alfie” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart” are very much the property of Ms. Dionne Warwick in the United States, Liverpool’s Cilla Black can fairly stake claim to them across the pond.  Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White, the protégé of Brian Epstein and close Beatle pal scored a string of beloved hit singles at the height of Swinging London, though her profile has long remained under the radar in America.  Well, not if The Second Disc has anything to say about it!  In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of Cilla’s show business debut in 2013, EMI U.K. will release Completely Cilla: 1963-1973, a whopping 5-CD/1-DVD box set, on April 23.  Featuring 139 recordings all produced by Sir George Martin, Completely Cilla will introduce twelve tracks to CD, and will also premiere long-unseen BBC footage of the singer covering the period of 1968 to 1977.  The tracks are presented, for the first time, in chronological session order.

During her 15-year tenure at Parlophone/EMI, Cilla Black scored nineteen Top 40 singles (including two Number Ones in 1964), released ten studio albums and became Britain’s biggest-selling female artist of the 1960s, which is no small feat when one considers Black’s contemporaries.  Black’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart” is, according to BBC Radio 2, the U.K.’s biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s.  Completely Cilla is a particular boon for collectors, as Black’s catalogue (including the seven George Martin-helmed albums) was remastered in 2009 for a digital-only initiative.

After the jump to explore Completely Cilla and the career of Cilla Black OBE with newly updated information! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 23, 2012 at 10:04