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Archive for May 10th, 2012

You Can Do Magic: America, Burritos, Atlanta Rhythm Section Reissues Coming to CD From BGO

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Whether you’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name, found some Rhythm in Atlanta or visited the gilded palace of sin, the United Kingdom’s BGO label just might have a reissue for you.  On June 4, the label will introduce bring long-out-of-print titles from The Flying Burrito Brothers and Atlanta Rhythm Section to CD, and bring back a pair of hard-to-find albums from America.

Though the group’s original incarnation was short-lived, The Flying Burrito Brothers remain a cornerstone of country-rock.  The band had its roots in The Byrds, formed by Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons of that band with Chris Ethridge and “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow in 1968.  This line-up recorded just one album, The Gilded Palace of Sin, before the departure of bassist Ethridge.  Hillman moved over to bass, future Eagle Bernie Leadon joined on guitar, and another ex-Byrd, Michael Clarke, joined on drums.  This group recorded 1970’s Burrito Deluxe, but internal strife led founder Parsons to decamp for a solo career which would be cut short by his untimely death.  Rick Roberts joined the remaining four members for 1971’s self-titled album, but after 1972’s Last of the Red Hot Burritos live album, the band would break up.  By the time of Red Hot, Leadon and Kleinow had also jumped ship, with Hillman, Roberts and Clarke joined by Al Perkins and Kenny Wertz on guitars.  A group that once held so much promise had crashed and burned.  Of course, the Burritos would be Flying Again in 1975, with yet more personnel changes, but that’s a tale for another day.

Following Gram Parsons’ death in 1973 of a drug overdose, interest in his back catalogue naturally grew, and A&M Records issued a double-LP, 23-song compilation, Close Up the Honky Tonks, to meet the growing demand.  It contained one LP of tracks from the Burritos’ first two records, adding the non-LP single “The Train Song.” The second LP introduced 11 previously unreleased tracks including covers of The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody,” Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over, Beethoven” and the Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up, Little Susie.”  It’s somewhat surprising that it’s taken this long for Honky Tonks to receive a CD reissue, but it’s now here, courtesy of BGO.  Most of these tracks have been reissued in various places over the years, but Close Up the Honky Tonks offers one-stop shopping as a combined best-of and rarities set.

Hit the jump for the scoop on reissues from America and Atlanta Rhythm Section! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 10, 2012 at 14:28

Review: The Ad Libs, “The Complete Blue Cat Recordings”

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Ooh-wah, ooh-wah, cool, cool kitty!  Tell us about the boy from New York City…

And indeed, much of America listened to the Ad Libs tell of that kinda tall, really fine guy in his mohair suit.  The Top 10 hit turned radio’s attention from Swinging London back to New York City for a brief moment, but the group was never able to repeat the song’s success.  It wasn’t for lack of trying, though, as Real Gone Music’s The Complete Blue Cat Recordings (Real Gone RGM-0500, 2012) proves.  Though the Ad Libs’ released output at Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and George Goldner’s Blue Cat Records consisted of just four singles (eight sides), the Real Goners have added a wealth of unreleased material to create the definitive portrait of the vocal group.

Blue Cat, an imprint of Leiber, Stoller and Goldner’s Red Bird label, boasted its own cool kitty, a blue, horn-playing feline on each of its records.  “The Boy From New York City” was the group’s first A-side for Blue Cat.  And how could the song, written by John Taylor, have gone wrong, with Leiber and Stoller producing, future Philly soul legend Leon Huff on piano, Artie Butler arranging, and Phil Ramone engineering the session at New York’s Mira Sound studio?  In his introduction to the liner notes here, Tim Hauser of The Manhattan Transfer states most accurately and succinctly that the 1964 song was a “’60s Brill Building version of classic street-corner doo-wop,” and that mix, indeed, marks the small but enjoyable crop of music recorded at Blue Cat by the Ad Libs.  The group was born from the remains of Bayonne, New Jersey’s The Arabians and The Creators, and initially signed by Red Bird/Blue Cat as The Cheerios!  Taylor, too, was residing in Bayonne when he wrote “The Boy From New York City.”

Like contemporaries The Essex (“Easier Said Than Done”) and Ruby and the Romantics (“Our Day Will Come”), The Ad Libs were distinguished by the presence of a female vocalist, Mary Ann Thomas.  Spotted in Hoboken, Thomas filled out the quintet also including Hughie Harris, Danny Austin, Dave Watt and Norman Donegan.  John Taylor had been providing them with material since 1962, but George Goldner knew that “The Boy From New York City” was the song with the most hit potential when The Ad Libs offered an a cappella performance of it at an audition.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

May 10, 2012 at 11:27