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Archive for September 25th, 2012

Love Is (Still) The Message: MFSB Classic Expanded and Remastered by Big Break

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There was clear irony in Bart Forbes’ cover artwork for MFSB’s Love is the Message.  The 1973 album showed off Philadelphia International Records’ hallowed house band at its smoothest, espousing the gospels of peace, love, tolerance and unity.  The cover illustration, however, depicts a skull clad in a military helmet, a mushroom cloud, a swastika, death, a howling dog, a Klansman and a grief-stricken man among its disturbing images.  This was heady stuff, but then again, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s label never shied away from serious subjects even if they were presented palatably and accessibly.  Clearly, Gamble and Huff hoped love would win out over society’s all-too-real ills, and if music be the food of love, the team played on with the beautiful sounds on this album, newly remastered and expanded by Big Break Records.

Love is the Message was the sophomore outing for MFSB.  That’s “Mother, Father, Sister, Brother,” although some less familial variations exist, too!  Though brief at just 35 minutes, the album showcases the many sides of the orchestra thanks to the arrangements from stalwarts Bobby Martin, Jack Faith and Vince Montana.  (Montana would later decamp for Salsoul Records, taking most of the original MFSB line-up with him to form The Salsoul Orchestra.)  Though not individually credited on the album, with Gamble and Huff preferring to let the mighty initials speak for themselves, musicians included Leon “Zack” Zachary (saxophone), Bobby Eli, Roland Chambers and Norman Harris (guitars), Ronnie Baker (bass), Larry Washington (percussion), Lenny Pakula (piano), Vince Montana (vibes) and Earl Young (drums).  Don Renaldo, as always, provided the strings.  Gamble and Huff produced most of the tracks, handing off “My One and Only Love” to its arranger, Vince Montana, and “Bitter Sweet” to its co-writers, Bruce Hawes and Jack Faith (who did arrangement duty, as well).

Without a doubt, the album’s pièce de résistanceis “T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia),” also known as the theme from Don Cornelius’ Soul Train.  In Bobby Martin’s potent and slick arrangement, “T.S.O.P.” distills all of the ingredients for Philadelphia soul into three-and-a-half minutes of musical bliss that anticipated disco.   Earl Young’s distinctive drum patterns anchor the large and lush orchestral sound, with ample spotlights for the bass and guitar, plus the sweet, smooth and soulful vocals (from the Three Degrees!).  The catchy and danceable melody, of course, is as irresistible as any, and the track crossed over to score mightily with listeners looking for pop, soul/R&B, funk and dance music.  The single version went to No. 1 Pop and R&B in the U.S., and propelled the album to a No. 4 Pop/No. 1 R&B showing, as well.

But that’s not the only track to recommend Love is the Message.  Read more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 25, 2012 at 11:38

Posted in MFSB, News, Reissues

In Case You Missed It: Edsel’s Mega-Release Slate

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The recent release slate from U.K. super-reissue label Edsel is what we at Second Disc HQ like to call “an embarrassment of riches.” You’ve seen our giveaways over the past few weeks highlighting some of the best expanded discographies Edsel’s had to offer this year: Suede, The Beat, Sugar, Everything But the Girl and Jimmy Somerville, to name just five. Then there’ve been other expansions, like the recent Aztec Camera reissues, and neat compilations on the Music Club Deluxe sister label.

Can it get any better? We say yes!

In this post, you’ll find a comprehensive breakdown of all the major discographical overhauls announced and released by Edsel in the past month or two. Some are welcome straight reissues of underappreciated albums, but most are exhaustively(!) thorough expansions of some of the best alternative bands and artists to grace the United Kingdom during the 1980s and 1990s.

Let’s just cut right to the chase after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 25, 2012 at 10:35

Release Round-Up: Week of September 25

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Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb, In Session (Concord)

The legendary songwriter and equally legendary country superstar join forces for two 1988 television broadcasts, joined together on one DVD and accompanied by a CD of the programs’ musical selections!  Campbell’s only recording of Webb’s “Sunshower” can be found here, among other gems.  For those of you anticipating the arrival of In Session today, it appears that this title has been delayed until October 9!  You can read more about it here.  Now, onto some titles actually arriving in stores today…

Aretha Franklin, Love All the Hurt Away / MFSB, Love is the Message / Platypus, Platypus / Lipps, Inc., Mouth to Mouth / Dionne Warwick, Heartbreaker (Big Break Records)

It’s another soul banquet from the good people at Big Break Records with expanded and remastered titles from the catalogues of Casablanca, Arista and Philadelphia International!  Watch for features and reviews on all of the above, coming soon!  These are out in the U.K. today, while a U.S. berth follows next week.

Dickie Goodman, Long Live the King/Moving Sidewalks, The Complete Collection (RockBeat)

RockBeat Records returns with two new releases: a single-disc compilation spanning the career of the “break-in record” king, Dickie Goodman, and a two-CD anthology of music from Billy Gibbons’ pre-ZZ Top band, The Moving Sidewalks!  Here’s the scoop on these titles and more from RockBeat.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The 50th Anniversary Collection (Columbia/Legacy)

The New Orleans institution turns 50, and celebrates the occasion with this deluxe box set of performances recorded between 1962 and 2010, including five previously unreleased tracks!  Read more here!

R.E.M., Document: 25th Anniversary Edition (EMI)

R.E.M.’s fifth studio album has turned 25!  Document was recorded by vocalist Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry, and was the band’s first album to achieve platinum sales.  The remastered album is joined by a previously unreleased 1987 concert, and it’s all packaged in a sturdy lift-top box with four postcards.  Read all about it here.

Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia, Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings (Fantasy/Concord)

Fantasy Records issues four CDs of prime live Garcia, in which the Grateful Dead leader is joined by Merl Saunders.  These remarkable Bay Area performances are packaged in a handsome box with copious notes and a bit of swag, too.  Watch for our review as part of our Holiday Gift Guide, coming soon!

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., Christmas with the Rat Pack (Capitol)

2012 is bringing another new version of Capitol’s Rat Pack holiday compilation, and it appears to have lost a few tracks since its original 2002 release (and subsequent 2006 reissue).  Still, this music simply can’t be beat, pallies.

Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols: Super Deluxe Edition (Universal U.K.)

Never mind the rest, the Sex Pistols have gone super-deluxe!  That means you’ll get a remastered version of the original album, a CD of outtakes and rarities (including previously unreleased tracks), a live CD, and a DVD, too, plus the requisite swag including a replica of the original A&M pressing of “God Save the Queen.”  This is available in the U.K. now, and in the U.S. next week!  If you don’t think this set is a load of bollocks, you’ll want to read more about it here!

Barbra Streisand, Release Me (Columbia)

La Streisand unlocks the vault doors for this first collection of previously-unreleased material recorded between 1967 and 2011, with songs by world-class composers like Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman, Paul Williams and Michel Legrand.  Word has it that future volumes might follow as Streisand kicks off her 50th year of recording for Columbia Records.  Release Me is out today on vinyl, while the CD release follows on October 9.

The John Wilson Orchestra, That’s Entertainment: A Celebration of the MGM Film Musical (EMI)

The John Wilson Orchestra’s 2009 BBC Prom concert, with guest stars Seth MacFarlane, Kim Criswell and Curtis Stigers singing reconstructed tunes from classic MGM musicals, receives an American release.  It’s available as a standard edition and a deluxe one, with the latter containing liner notes and session photos in a casebound, hardcover book plus a DVD containing a featurette and music videos.  A stand-alone DVD of the concert is also available.

Frank Zappa, 12 catalogue reissues (UMe/Zappa Records)

Twelve more Zappa classics arrive on CD, many in freshly-remastered editions. Full details and pre-order links for every title can be found in yesterday’s full rundown, or just click on the li’l fella, above, to order and jump headfirst into FZ Territory!

Warren Zevon, Mr. Bad Example/Mutineer (Friday Music)

The late Warren Zevon’s witty, mordant and moving oeuvre is celebrated on this two-fer from Friday Music, bringing together his 1991 and 1995 studio albums.

Original Soundtrack, Dirty Dancing: The Anniversary Edition (RCA/Legacy)

Will you have the time of your life with this deluxe version of the smash soundtrack album to the 1987 film?  Only the original 12 songs are present, but they’re joined in a commemorative package by six suitable-for-framing art cards and a bumper sticker.