The Second Disc

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It’s A Happening World: Real Gone Announces Sixties Bonanza of Electric Prunes, Tokens, Timi Yuro, More

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It will be a sixties flashback on June 26 when Real Gone Music ushers in the summer with five releases from that golden decade of music.  “Complete Singles” collections are due from experimental rockers The Electric Prunes and big-voiced soul queen Timi Yuro, and the label is also anthologizing the legendary folk group The New Christy Minstrels.  Last but certainly not least, two original LPs are being remastered and expanded: an outré pop classic from The Tokens and the debut of “international teen-age sensation” Rita Pavone.

One of the most indelible of the Nuggets compiled by Lenny Kaye for the original 1972 compilation of psychedelic garage-rock “artyfacts” – and indeed, the first cut on the seminal anthology – was The Electric Prunes’ “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night.”  That No. 11 hit was only the Prunes’ second single, but it announced that the Seattle, Washington-formed band had plenty to say.  The story of the Prunes is a tumultuous one, with dominating producers (Dave Hassinger, David Axelrod) shaping the band’s sound and identity through a variety of changes to both the group sound’s and its line-up.  Yet the remarkably diverse music released under the Electric Prunes name has endured thanks to its consistently high quality.  The Complete Reprise Singles compiles for the very first time all 23 of the band’s Reprise single sides.  The Prunes’ music was described by band members James Lowe and Mark Tulin in 2007 as “Electric, eclectic, sinister, existential, whimsical, [and] innocent,” and all of those qualities are very much in evidence on these singles.  They’re presented in their original mono mixes, and Richie Unterberger supplies sleeve notes including commentary from the band and photos of the original singles.  And as a bonus, you’ll hear the Prunes’ demonstration of the Vox Wah-Wah Pedal!  The Complete Reprise Singles should make the perfect companion to Rhino U.K.’s 2007 compilation Too Much to Dream: Original Group Recordings 1966-1967, which presented the group’s first two LPs in expanded form.

The next artist to receive Real Gone’s “Complete Singles” treatment is Timi Yuro (1940-2004).  The Complete Liberty Singles is described by the label as the first to feature original mono single mixes rather than “after-the-fact stereo remixes or album tracks.”  This 2-CD collection includes for the first time the A- and B-sides of all of the U.S. singles Timi released on Liberty Records during her two stints with the label, , all remastered at Capitol Studios.   Despite her young age, the Chicago-born Yuro’s style was deeply soulful, influenced by R&B and jazz vocal greats.  In addition to her signature 1961 hit “Hurt,” The Complete Liberty Singles features Phil Spector’s uncredited production of “What’s A Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You),” the rare single and Northern soul favorite “It’ll Never Be Over for Me/As Long as There Is You” and the early Burt Bacharach/Hal David song “The Love of a Boy,” also arranged by Bacharach.  The set’s co-producer Ed Osborne writes the liner notes and supplies a singles discography along with photos.

Hit the jump to see what’s coming from The Tokens, The New Christy Minstrels and Rita Pavone!

Timi Yuro isn’t the only young star being remembered by Real Gone.  RCA Victor championed the career of Rita Pavone, whose 1964 album was modestly titled The International Teen-Age Sensation.  Born in Turin, Italy, Pavone shot to international popularity after winning an Italian talent show in 1962 at the age of 16.  Her 1963 recording of “Cuore (Heart)” was No. 1 for nine weeks in Italy, selling over one million copies.  RCA paired her with producer Joe Rene (Neil Sedaka, Nina Simone) in 1964 to make her American debut. The LP – the first of two RCA LPs recorded by Pavone in English that year – only reached No. 60 on the chart.  Its single, “Remember Me,” fared better, hitting No. 26.  International Teenage Sensation featured contributions from writers including Chip Taylor and the teams of Earl Shuman and Leon Carr and Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe.  Pavone’s 1964 English-language version of “Heart” has been appended as a bonus track.  Bill Dahl has written new liner notes  Rita Pavone’s career continues to this day abroad, but Real Gone’s reissue marks the first major reappraisal of the singer stateside.

Founded in 1961, The New Christy Minstrels survived many transitions in the music business to become one of the longest-lasting folk groups of all time.  A Retrospective 1962-1970 marks the first comprehensive single-disc anthology of the group’s history.  Real Gone has endeavored to include all aspects of the group’s music over its first eight years, from hit singles (“Green, Green”), classic album tracks (“This Land is Your Land”) and even covers of contemporary pop hits (“The Girl From Ipanema”).  Founded in 1962 by Randy Sparks, The New Christy Minstrels launched the career of many notable musicians, including Barry McGuire, Gene Clark, Kim Carnes and Kenny Rogers.  The set also includes four tracks making their CD debut and the booklet features rare photos and liner notes by Tom Pickles.  Collectors’ Choice Music, the label founded by Real Gone’s Gordon Anderson, collected the New Christy Minstrels’ repertoire on the 1998 double-disc set The Definitive New Christy Minstrels, which is now out-of-print and commanding high prices secondhand.  A Retrospective looks to be a fantastic reintroduction to the group’s great legacy.

Brooklyn’s The Tokens were founded a couple of years earlier than The New Christy Minstrels, and took their cue from doo-wop.  Born from the remains of The Linc-Tones (which included Neil Sedaka and future Tokens Hank Medress and Jay Siegel), the group scored its biggest hit with 1961’s “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  Between 1962 and 1970, The Tokens scored another nine Top 100 hits, and continued to make relevant music long past the demise of traditional street-corner doo-wop.  One of the strongest late-period Tokens albums, 1967’s Warner Bros. long-player It’s A Happening World, is now getting the deluxe reissue treatment from Real Gone.  The group looked to the present day with its cover of the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song that gave the album its title, and looked to its past with a remake of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” that emphasized just how different the group was, circa 1967.  Only the tight vocal harmonies had remained the group’s trademark.  It’s A Happening World embraces baroque and sunshine pop styles thanks to the arrangements of Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner (Spanky and Our Gang’s “Sunday Will Never Be The Same,” Len Barry’s “1-2-3”). Eleven of The Tokens’ non-LP Warner Brothers singles round out the package including the offbeat “Animal” and a medley of “Go Away, Little Girl” and “Young Girl.”  Phil Margo of the Tokens contributes to Richie Unterberger’s liner notes.  This reissue marks the album’s domestic CD debut.

All of these titles arrive in stores from Real Gone Music on June 26!

Written by Joe Marchese

May 15, 2012 at 13:31

One Response

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  1. Glad to see the next set of releases from Real Gone. What a fun label!


    May 16, 2012 at 01:24

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