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Archive for July 18th, 2012

Get Up! KISS’ “Destroyer: Resurrected” Brings Classic Album to Life with New Remix

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Buildings reduced to rubble. The jeering ring of electric guitars. Lots of black and white makeup. Yep, another KISS Katalogue title is koming…er, coming.

Universal has set an August 21 date for Destroyer: Resurrected, a new version of what might be the band’s best-known studio effort. A project for Destroyer‘s 35th annversary last year has been in the cards for some time, and while the final effort – a sort of teaser for the band’s upcoming Monster album this fall – is certainly far shorter on bonus material than some may have hoped, fans will certainly be able to experience a new spin on an old classic.

The first studio effort from the iconic quartet after their breakthrough Alive!Destroyer is almost your archetypal KISS record: catchy riffs (“Detroit Rock City,” “Shout It Out Loud,”), no shortage of theatricality (“God of Thunder”) and a big sonic landscape from master producer Bob Ezrin. But it took an anomaly to send the record into the stratosphere; originally a B-side, the sentimental “Beth,” co-written and sung by drummer Peter Criss, was a lushly arranged heartbreaker that sent lighters in the air and fingers on the telephone dial to request their local stations. The tune was the band’s first and highest-charting Top 10 single (at No. 7), and took Destroyer to double-platinum status.

Destroyer: Resurrected gives the classic record a makeover, both inside and out. Not only is the original cover art by Ken Kelly reinstated (the alternate painting of the band triumphantly plowing through the wreckage of a city was initially considered too violent by Casablanca Records), but Ezrin has newly remixed the album, as well. In some cases, this involved the reinstatement of overdubs and sections left off the original masters, including extra vocals on “Beth” and an alternate guitar solo on “Sweet Pain,” which provides the album’s sole bonus track. (Ezrin recently did a great interview with KissFAQ that will likely influence your decision, one way or another, to give the reissue a shot.)

You can preorder Destroyer: Resurrected now, on CD or vinyl.

Destroyer: Resurrected (originally released as Casablanca Records NBLP 7025, 1976 – reissued Mercury/UMe, 2012)

  1. Detroit Rock City
  2. King of the Night Time World
  3. God of Thunder
  4. Great Expectations
  5. Flaming Youth
  6. Sweet Pain
  7. Shout It Out Loud
  8. Beth
  9. Do You Love Me?
  10. Rock and Roll Party
  11. Sweet Pain (Alternate Guitar Solo) (bonus track)

Written by Mike Duquette

July 18, 2012 at 14:12

Posted in KISS, News, Reissues, Vinyl

The Feeling Is Right: Kent Offers Expanded Etta James LP, Clarence Carter Singles Collection

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When Argo Records crowned Etta James The Queen of Soul on the cover of a 1964 LP, Aretha Franklin hadn’t yet staked claim to that title.  Revisiting that album today, Etta’s status as royalty still seems unassailable.  Thankfully, we have that opportunity thanks to Kent Records via its new expansion of Queen of Soul with fourteen bonus tracks added to the original LP’s ten songs.  Plus, Kent has delivered a new release from one of the undisputed kings of soul: Clarence Carter.  The Fame Singles Volume 1: 1966-1970 includes his career-making “Slip Away,” but that’s just one of the 24 soulful tracks you’ll find here.

When Etta James passed away earlier this year at the age of 73, it truly marked the end of an era.  The woman born Jamesetta Hawkins channeled her demons into passionate blues, soul and jazz over a career lasting nearly 60 years.  James charted two dozen singles during a remarkable 16-year reign at Chess (Argo’s parent label) between 1960 and 1976, and immortalized the standards “At Last” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.”  Kent’s reissue follows similar expansions of 1967’s Call My Name and 1971’s Losers Weepers from the label, and is a handy reminder of why nobody would have challenged James’ soul supremacy in 1964.

Most of Queen of Soul was recorded in Chess’ home base of Chicago, though some tracks originated in sessions held in both New York and Nashville.  Billy Davis was the primary producer, and some of the recordings dated back to 1962.  In his personal sleeve note, Garth Cartwright speculates that “perhaps the rise of the Motown and Stax sounds had made [James] appear old-fashioned or she was so out of control that DJs and the public were shying away from her.”  Whatever the reason, though, the music on Queen of Soul has aged incredibly well.  Chess had encouraged her to pursue the sophisticated, adult vein of “At Last,” but no matter what the repertoire, James’ fiery delivery couldn’t be tamped down.  A couple of tracks were written or co-written by Ed Townsend, the one-time “For Your Love” crooner who later co-wrote “Let’s Get It On” with Marvin Gaye.  The New York sound is present on Townsend’s “Bobby is His Name,” with James emoting over swirling strings and throbbing brass.  James paid homage to another soul queen, the one and only Soul Queen of New Orleans, with her cover of Irma Thomas’ “I Wish Someone Would Care.”   James is downright saucy on Clint (“You’re No Good”) Ballard’s “That Man Belongs Here with Me,” and when she offers “Flight 101,” it might as well have been a lesson in Soul 101!  “Loving You More Every Day” is a slice of barroom blues; James just can’t be contained as she questions, “What are doing to me?” to her man.  “Mellow Fellow” is anything but, with James wailing to a stomping beat.

The bonus tracks are drawn from a variety of sources including singles and CD compilations.  These tracks were recorded between late 1962 and 1965; three songs (including a take on Gene Autry’s “Be Honest with Me”) hailed from Nashville in November 1962, as did the album’s “I Worry About You.”  The bonus tracks also include collaborations with arranger Riley Hampton and a stab at Jule Styne and Bob Hilliard’s standard “How Do You Speak to an Angel” from the 1953 Broadway musical Hazel Flagg.  Billy Davis’ percolating “Pay Back” is another “should-have-been-a-hit,” with James ready to pay back what her guy is dishing out!  With its dramatic pauses, Bert Keyes’ arrangement is an unusual one, too.  Then there’s a near-definitive reading of another classic blues standard, “Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be),” and even a fun spin on the girl group sound with 1963’s “Two Sides (To Every Story).”  Kent’s CD includes a full-color booklet with numerous label scans as well as Cartwright’s notes.

Kent is also tackling the Clarence Carter catalogue, and we’ve got plenty about that after the jump!  Plus: track listings with discography, and pre-order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 18, 2012 at 11:58

Back to “Barcelona”: Queen Frontman’s Final Solo Disc Gets Super Deluxe Treatment

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“I’m moving into opera now. Forget rock and roll.” With those words, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury moved in on what may be the most grandiose phase in a long career full of theatrics. In 1987, with Queen not yet knowing they would have played their final live show one year before, the band’s whimsical frontman ventured into uncharted waters with Barcelona, an operatic rock album featuring a talented soprano whose voice he idolized, and put one of the final great flourishes on a career (and a life) carried out with brilliant extravagance.

Now, 25 years after the release of the “Barcelona” single, 20 years after its charting and for what would have been the singer’s 66th birthday, Barcelona comes back in a big way,  reissued and reimagined with a brand new orchestration and three discs of extra content in September.

“I have now heard the best voice in the world,” Mercury told friends in 1981 after attending a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House in London. But the Queen singer was not speaking of star Luciano Pavarotti, but mezzo-soprano female lead Caballé. After some years, the duo arranged to meet; Mercury bought with him a demo co-written with arranger Mike Moran that the diva fell in love with immediately.

When approached to create a song for the 1992 Olympic Games held in the Spanish city Barcelona – Monsterrat’s birthplace – it was obvious with whom Mercury would collaborate. The pair worked separately on songs for a full album (all of which were primarily written by Mercury and Moran, with some input from Caballé and lyricist Tim Rice), with Freddie laying down falsetto guide vocals for Montserrat to sing.

The album was a respectable success upon release in 1988, with the title track climbing to No. 8. Mercury returned to Queen for The Miracle (1989) and Innuendo (1991), hiding the terrible news of his declining health due to AIDS until the day before his death at the end of 1991. While many remember the reascension of “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the U.K. pop charts that holiday, “Barcelona” made a stunning return when reissued to commemorate that stirring Olympic ceremony, in which Montserrat took the stage herself to duet with Freddie’s ethereal voice during the opening exercises.

Now, Barcelona‘s coming back in a big way, and you can find out how after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 18, 2012 at 10:40

Wonderful! Wonderful! Johnny Mathis’ Long-Lost Mercury Catalogue Comes to CD from Real Gone Music

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Johnny Mathis’ association with Columbia Records began in 1956, which makes it one of the longest relationships between artist and label in popular music.  But it’s often overlooked that Mathis departed Columbia for a brief period at rival Mercury Records, right as some young upstarts from across the pond were changing the face of music forever.  (Keep in mind that Mathis himself wasn’t even 30 when he made the shift!)  During a prolific three years (1963-1966) at Mercury, Mathis recorded eleven albums, including one Christmas collection and one Broadway-themed set that never saw release.  Despite the singer’s endurance, none of these Mercury albums have ever seen compact disc release in its original form; only the Christmas album has been released on CD, and even then under a different title and with some songs dropped.  Real Gone Music is rectifying this longtime wrong with its new reissue program of Mathis’ underrated work for Mercury Records.  The series of two-fers begins on August 28 with the release of 1964’s Tender is the Night paired with the same year’s The Wonderful World of Make-Believe, plus the unreleased 1965 Broadway joined with that year’s Love Is Everything.  The Mathis releases will join Real Gone’s other vintage titles due in August from Gary Lewis and the Playboys, David Cassidy and The Grateful Dead.

By 1963, Mathis had notched some eighteen Top 40 hits for Columbia and over fifteen albums that emphasized his romantic side.  After a jazz-leaning debut in 1956, the label steered the young singer towards lush balladry, with productions and arrangements from Percy Faith, Ray Conniff, Nelson Riddle, Glenn Osser, Don Costa and Ralph Burns.  He even returned to a jazz format with 1959’s Open Fire, Two Guitars, backed just by the guitars of Al Caiola and Tony Mottola plus an upright bass played by Frank Carroll and Milt Hinton.  But Mathis’ versatile voice could handle swingers (see the Burns and Riddle sets), too, and he had long displayed an affinity with the wide-ranging material from the Hollywood and Broadway songbooks.  At Mercury, he tackled both classics and contemporary songs.

We have full details, track listings with discographical annotation, and pre-order links after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 18, 2012 at 10:02