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Archive for June 20th, 2012

Checkmate: Get On Down to Expand GZA’s Acclaimed “Liquid Swords”

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When it was first released in 1995, Liquid Swords, the acclaimed solo album from GZA of the immortal rap collective Wu-Tang Clan, was credited to its maker as “Genius/GZA.” Nearly two decades later, with a deluxe edition forthcoming from specialty label Get On Down, it’s hard to argue that.

Liquid Swords came at a time when the Wu-Tang Clan, who’d turned many a head with their patchwork lyrical style, idiosyncratic sense of humor and straightforward look at urban life. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) was a critical and commercial smash, buoyed by singles “Method Man,” “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Protect Ya Neck.”

In a bold move, the Clan were able to negotiate with Geffen solo record deals for the group’s members. From there, the members of Wu-Tang Clan went from strength to strength, with Method Man’s Tical in 1994 and the seminal Return to the 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version) from Ol’ Dirty Bastard (recently reissued by Get On Down), Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and GZA’s Liquid Swords all dropping in 1995.

With a perfect blend of Wu-Tang guest slots, production from fellow band member RZA and what The Chicago Tribune called “one of the most substantial lyrical journeys in hip-hop history,” it’s easy to see why Liquid Swords stands head and shoulders above its hip-hop contemporaries, making it a killer choice for a deluxe reissue from Get On Down. In the label’s typical fashion, the content is not only expanded – adding a bonus disc featuring an instrumental version of the entire album – but lavish packaging featuring a full chess set.

Liquid Swords: The Chess Box is available July 24 and can be ordered here. Hit the jump to check out the track list!

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 20, 2012 at 14:06

Posted in GZA, News, Reissues, Wu-Tang Clan

Review: Omnivore’s Legends of Music and Comedy, Buck Owens and Ernie Kovacs

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In the pantheon of American comedy legends, you’d likely find Ernie Kovacs, the gifted, gone-too-soon (1919-1962) personality who carved out a niche in the early days of American television.  Joining Ernie in that esteemed company might well also be Buck Owens (1929-2006), the influential guitarist and songwriter who made a second career out of joking, a-pickin’ and a-grinnin’ on the cornpone television variety show Hee Haw.  However different these two gentlemen are, however, Omnivore Recordings has celebrated both of them in high style with two recent releases, Buck Owens’ Live at the White House (…And in Space) and Ernie Kovacs’ Percy Dovetonsils…Thpeaks!

Though Buck could be quite a character in the environs of Kornfield Kounty, even the genial host might have been at a loss had Percy Dovetonsils been guesting on Hee Haw!  One of Ernie Kovacs’ most beloved creations, the lisping poet Mr. Dovetonsils could most often be found reciting his unusual odes in thick glasses with glued-on eyeballs, and a stylish, zebra-patterned smoking jacket.  What place is there in 2012 for such a, um, genteel and tasteful soul?  Omnivore makes a case for the longevity of Percy with his first and only LP release, the long-lost Speaks, I mean, Thpeaks (OVCD-27).  The album was recorded in 1961 but has remained unreleased till now, when it could be launched upon a discerning public.

Percy sets the scene for his vinyl (not to mention CD and digital) debut: “I’m sitting here beside my Italian harpischord…”  He describes the instrument in detail, and makes it clear that he’s sipping a martini.  But that’s not all.  ”Behind me is a marble bust…well, perhaps not a bust, but it wasn’t a complete success, either!”  Kovacs’ sincere delivery makes even the hoariest joke worthy of a smile.  You’ll find more about Percy and Buck after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 20, 2012 at 13:02

Posted in Buck Owens, Ernie Kovacs, Reissues, Reviews

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Soundtrack Bi-fecta: Goldsmith, Grusin and More Arrive from Intrada, FSM

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After a quiet month for soundtracks, save the score reissue to little-seen art-house flick Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the past week has seen three releases from Intrada and Film Score Monthly readied for film music aficionados.

Intrada’s first title did an excellent job of satiating anyone’s post-Trek desire for more Jerry Goldsmith; it’s the unreleased, unused score to 1996’s 2 Days in the Valley. A twisty thriller with a solid cast (Charlize Theron, Eric Stoltz, James Spader, Teri Hatcher and Jeff Daniels among its ranks), 2 Days inspired Goldsmith to create a score that evoked the suspenseful Chinatown in some ways, with a main theme anchored around a trumpet line and strings. While a rock-themed score by Anthony Marinelli ultimately scored the picture, fans can now uncover a lost treasure in the late, great composer’s discography. The disc., sourced from Bruce Botnick’s two-track digital session mixes in the Paramount vaults, features liner notes by Jeff Bond.

The quirkier of the two entries in Intrada’s catalogue this time around is the label’s latest Signature Edition title. Richard Band’s score to Dragonworld, an obscure but fun family-friendly adventure film featuring mythical, winged beasts in Scotland, is the order of the day, featuring the complete, heretofore score with liner notes from Band and director Ted Nicolanu.

And what did Film Score Monthly prepare as it inches toward the finish line? Find out after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 20, 2012 at 11:40

Positively 4th Street: Bob Dylan’s First “Greatest Hits” Goes Gold

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When Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits first appeared on record store shelves in March 1967, it was Dylan’s first offering since the previous year’s Blonde on Blonde double-LP opus and subsequent, well-publicized motorcycle accident.  Although the 10-track Columbia Records set has since been superseded by numerous other compilations from the Bard of Hibbing, Dylan’s first ever Greatest Hits captures the moment in time when there was arguably no more influential songwriter.  On July 3, the original Dylan compilation will return to CD in a 24K Gold CD edition from Audio Fidelity, remastered by Steve Hoffman.

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits hit the U.S. Top 10 upon its release, and contains every Top 40 single charted by Dylan up to 1967.  Those six chart hits are joined by one non-charting single and three key LP tracks.  That lone non-charting 45, Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” had of course scaled the charts in a version not sung by its composer but rather by Peter, Paul and Mary.  Of the three album tracks, “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” were also hits in versions recorded by other artists: The Turtles and The Byrds, respectively.  The oft-covered “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” one of Dylan’s most beloved songs, was not released as a single in the United States, but hit the Top 10 across the pond in the United Kingdom.    Greatest Hits marked an appearance on LP for the non-album single “Positively 4th Street,” the 1965 song which reached No. 7 in the United States.  To this day, it would be difficult to compile a more incendiary 10 tracks than those found on this album.

Hit the jump for more details, the track listing with discographical annotation and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 20, 2012 at 09:52

Posted in Bob Dylan, News, Reissues