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Archive for October 2012

The Digital Master Company Turns 30: GRP Records Celebrated with New Compilation

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Though the 50th anniversary of Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ A&M Records got some well-deserved attention earlier this year, another unit of Universal Music Group was also celebrating a milestone anniversary.  GRP Records, founded by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, was founded in 1978, as an imprint of Arista Records known as “Arista/GRP.”  This arrangement was similar to Creed Taylor’s CTI label, which first existed as part of A&M.  Much as Taylor struck out on his own, so did Grusin and Rosen, and in 1982, GRP went independent.  That’s the date chosen by Verve Music Group as the true birth of GRP, and the starting point for GRP 30: The Digital Master Company 30th Anniversary, a 2-CD, 30-track overview compiled by Grusin, Rosen and Richard Havers.

By 1978, keyboardist/composer Dave Grusin was already an established figure in the worlds of film scoring (The Graduate, Three Days of the Condor) and jazz.  Larry Rosen was a musician, too, starting his career as a drummer.  In the early 1960s, the two men became acquainted as members of Andy Williams’ band – Grusin as pianist and conductor, Rosen as drummer.  When Rosen was producing 1972’s Rashida for artist Jon Lucien, he called upon Grusin as an arranger.  Soon after, the two began a production partnership that encompassed recordings on various labels, from artists as diverse as Earl Klugh and Patti Austin.  It was only natural, then, that Grusin and Rosen would spread their wings and fly solo.  After the success of Arista/GRP, the next logical step was to go independent.  GRP took inspiration from jazz labels like CTI and ECM, and got attention early as “The Digital Master Company.”  Grusin and Rosen both took a keen interest in digital recording and compact disc technology, and GRP was at the vanguard of the CD’s initial launch.  The GRP roster included Grusin himself as bandleader, plus his brother Don, Lee Ritenour, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Diane Schuur, Patti Austin, The Brecker Brothers and many others.  The label took on projects from legends of the jazz genre like Dizzy Gillespie and Gerry Mulligan, and in its later years, discovered the young Diana Krall.

In 1987, GRP entered into a distribution deal with MCA Records, and in 1990, MCA (later Universal Music Group) purchased GRP from Grusin and Rosen.  The label was soon renamed MCA-GRP and took over control of many of MCA’s classic jazz holdings including records from the Impulse! and Decca catalogues.  Grusin and Rosen departed GRP in 1995, with noted producer Tommy LiPuma taking the reins from them.  GRP was later absorbed into Verve, where the imprint resides today.

What will you find on GRP 30?  Hit the jump for more, including a full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 31, 2012 at 13:11

Honey Don’t! Rockstar Records Releases Live Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, But Ringo Says “It’s Not Me”

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Among the many footnotes in Beatles lore has been Ringo Starr’s tenure with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.  The group was one of the most popular acts on the early Merseybeat scene, playing Liverpool and Hamburg, and alternating sets with The Beatles at the Kaiserkeller.  Yet there’s precious little recorded evidence of the band and even less of Starr’s tenure as drummer.  An Oriole label single in 1963 yielded “Dr. Feelgood” b/w “I Can Tell.”  Parlophone released “America” (from West Side Story) b/w “Since You Broke My Heart” in 1964, with Brian Epstein as producer.  Starr had joined the Hurricanes in 1959, but was out by August 1962, at which time he was invited to join his mates in The Beatles.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Earlier this year, Rockstar Records announced it would be making history of its own, when it announced the first-ever album by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, featuring Ringo Starr.  The newly discovered recordings were found in the basement of Iris Caldwell, sister of Rory Storm (born Alan Caldwell in 1938) and arrived on CD late in September.  The tapes, released as Live at the Jive Hive, March 1960, reportedly document a performance at the Jive Hive club in Crosby, north of Liverpool, recorded on March 5, 1960, plus four home recordings by Storm circa the same period.  The plot thickened, however, when Ringo Starr denied that he appeared on the tapes.

“It’s not me,” Ringo said in a statement via his publicist shortly after the original announcement was issued by Rockstar.   “That was done after I’d left to join the Beatles. I don’t know who the drummer was but I hope that Rory fans enjoy it anyway.  The only two tracks I was on were recorded while we were in Germany in 1960, when we made a two-track acetate, and for those of you in the digi world that is a-ce-tate, of ‘Mailman Bring Me No More Blues,’ a Buddy Holly song sang by Lou Walters, and ‘Fever,’ and I’d love to hear those tracks ‘cause I don’t have a copy.”

That still hasn’t ended the story of Live at the Jive Hive, however.  There’s more after the jump including a track listing and order link!  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 31, 2012 at 08:09

More “Essentials” Arrive From Jefferson Airplane and Starship, Martina, Run-D.M.C., Incubus

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Tomorrow might be Halloween, but there’s nothing scary about Legacy Recordings’ four latest additions to the Essential series roster!  Today sees the release of career-spanning anthologies from a diverse group of artists: alt-metal rockers Incubus, hip-hop pioneers Run-D.M.C., country queen Martina McBride and ever-evolving Bay Area legends Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship!  All of these double-CD anthologies combine familiar hit singles, album tracks and rarities to create what might become the definitive surveys of each artist’s career.

The Essential Incubus follows Legacy’s issue earlier this year of Incubus HQ Live, preserving a string of live performances from the summer of 2011.  For that release, frontman Brandon Boyd ruminated on Incubus’ career as “twenty years, seven albums, multiple live albums, EPs, DVDs, somewhere in the ballpark of 1,500 live shows and an etcetera stint that would go on for a paragraph.” Well, the band’s full C.V. is reflected on The Essential, its 28 alt-metal tracks blending alternative rock, metal, funk, rap, hip-hop, techno and even jazz (and everything in between).  Every one of the band’s sixteen Billboard Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock chart hits are present on the new compilation, including the four songs which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart: “Drive,” “Megalomaniac,” “Anna Molly” and “Love Hurts.”  All songs have been remastered.  The Essential Incubus makes a fine companion to 2009’s Monuments and Melodies and includes new liner notes from Gary Graff.

Run-D.M.C. is still regarded today as one of the most influential groups in rap and hip-hop.  The Essential Run-D.M.C. spans the period between 1983 and 2001, one year before Jam Master Jay was murdered and the group disbanded.  Legacy’s 29-track anthology celebrates the group with selections from seven albums, one expanded reissue, and even a various-artists anthology.  The first rap group to earn RIAA platinum and multi-platinum albums and MTV’s choice for The Greatest Hip-Hop Group of All Time, Run-D.M.C. made an impression on the national consciousness with 1986’s Aerosmith collaboration “Walk This Way” and again in 1987 with “Christmas in Hollis,” immortalized in the film Die Hard.  Noah Uman has produced the new compilation, and authorized biographer Bill Adler provides new liner notes.

After the jump: Martina McBride and the Jefferson Airplane family take off – plus complete track listings and pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 30, 2012 at 13:01

Tuesday Tidbits, Classic Rock Edition: News from The Rolling Stones, The Who and Del Shannon

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Starbucks’ latest Opus Collection CD release is tying in with the recent release of Who frontman Pete Townshend’s memoir Who I Am. The Who: Opus Collection offers 15 tracks from the legendary band and as per the usual for this series of releases, combines both familiar songs and tracks which might be unfamiliar to the casual fan. Opus Collection begins with “I’m the Face,” from the band’s very first single released under the name of The High Numbers in 1964, and concludes with “Who Are You,” the anthem and CSI theme from 1978’s album of the same name. Though classics like “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,” “The Kids are Alright” and “Pinball Wizard” have been overlooked, the set does include perennials like “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Baba O’Riley.” (Oddly, one-third of Opus Collection consists of tracks from 1971’s Who’s Next.) As is typical for Starbucks’ releases, the packaging is deluxe. The 20-page booklet features a six-page essay from Steven Stolder and detailed track-by-track liner notes, as well. If you’re looking for a little mod action with that pumpkin spice latte, Opus Collection is in Starbucks locations now. It can be ordered here.

From the 1961 release of his first-ever single “Runaway,” a chart-topper on both sides of the Atlantic, to his tragic death by his own hand in 1990, Del Shannon was rock-and-roll royalty. He’s now receiving an exhaustive career anthology via Music Club Deluxe’s The Essential Collection 1961-1991. This budget-priced 52-track collection offers just about every highlight from Shannon’s singular career. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee followed up “Runaway,” with its memorably eerie Musitron organ part, with another Top 10 hit “Hats Off to Larry.” “Little Town Flirt” did almost as well, and Shannon continued his winning streak when he became the first American artist to record a Beatles song with his 1963 cover of “From Me to You.” More hits followed: revivals of “Do You Wanna Dance” and “Handy Man,” and “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun).” As the sixties progressed, Shannon experimented with psychedelic productions, but his alcoholism slowed his productivity in the 1970s. Still, he found time to work with younger artists for whom he had been an influence, including Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Dave Edmunds and the Smithereens. The final track on The Essential Collection, “Walk Away,” was a posthumously-released collaboration with Petty and Lynne. Michael Heatley’s liner notes round out the package chronicling the career of a truly underrated singer and songwriter. The melancholy underneath the surface eventually got the better of Del Shannon, but he left behind a memorable body of work both haunting and joyous. You can order The Essential Collection here.

After the jump: details on The Rolling Stones’ latest Archives release plus track listings for all three titles!

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Written by Joe Marchese

October 30, 2012 at 07:59

What a Feeling: Giorgio Moroder Rarities Due from Repertoire

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What could be cooler than the recent news that disco super-producer Giorgio Moroder joined music-sharing site SoundCloud and started posting high-quality rare and unreleased tracks for fans to stream? How about Moroder making not one, but two more accounts holding such audio treasures?

But what could be cooler than that for fans of physical discs? Simple: Repertoire Records is releasing a double-disc set of rare gems produced by the man who gave us the greatest hits of Donna Summer, Blondie’s “Call Me” and the soundtracks to FlashdanceTop Gun and Scarface.

On the Groove Train Volume 1: 1975-1993 focuses on some of the least-known works Moroder had a hand in during his early and later career, including producing singles for artists on his Oasis Records label, including Trax, Roberta Kelly and Munich Machine, as well as a handful of instrumental tunes under his own name. That’s not to say his most famous collaborators are ignored on this compilation, though; the first disc closes with the sought-after 1975 Netherlands-only single “Virgin Mary” by the late, great Donna Summer (included on Dutch pressings of The Queen of Disco’s Love to Love You Baby album), while the second CD features “Carry On,” Summer and Moroder’s collaboration for the producer’s Forever Dancing album in 1992. (That track was included on a U.S. compilation, The Donna Summer Anthology, the following year.)

Also present is Keith Forsey, who cut two solo singles produced by Moroder in 1981 but was of course far better known as a drummer on Summer’s recordings, a co-writer of Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” Irene Cara’s “Flashdance…What a Feeling” and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds and a producer for Billy Idol. Helen St. John makes a few appearances, including her “Love Theme from Flashdance,” as does Paul Engemann, best known for the Moroder-produced “Push It to the Limit” from Scarface but featured as a vocalist on the European single “Shannon’s Eyes.”

This 33-song compilation has an October 30 release date in America, but a November 12 street date in the U.K.; odd, considering Repertoire is a European label. Order it from Amazon U.S. and U.K. and hit the jump for a detailed look at the track list. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 29, 2012 at 14:52

Gems from the Diamond Mine: Blue Rodeo Collect Early Albums, Unreleased Demos on New Box

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Fans of Canadian country-rockers Blue Rodeo have something to get excited about, with the recent release of a box set collecting their first five albums with another three discs of unreleased material.

Blue Rodeo 1987-1993 celebrates the Northern rockers, who have won 11 Juno Awards in their native Canada and placed 10 singles in the Top 10 of the Canadian charts, including “Try,” “Til I Am Myself Again,” “Lost Together” and “5 Days in May.” Anchored by singer/songwriter/guitarists Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, Blue Rodeo have been one of the country’s preeminent bands for some time. (They’re also partially responsible for giving an early push to a young singer-songwriter and fellow countrywoman, Sarah McLachlan, who guested on tracks on Five Days in July, released the same year as her landmark Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.

The band’s new box, put together by the band in conjunction with Warner Music Canada, features remastered editions of Outskirts (1987), Diamond Mind (1989), Casino (1990), Lost Together (1992) and Five Days in July (1993), along with a new remix of outskirts produced and overseen by Keelor and two discs of demos – one focusing on the Casino era and another entitled Odds and Ends. In total, 30 rare and unreleased tracks appear on those demo discs. The set also includes a 44-page book of liner notes by Jason Schneider of Exclaim! magazine.

Blue Rodeo 1987-1993 is available now from Amazon U.S., a full track breakdown is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 29, 2012 at 11:52

T Stands For “Trouble Man”: Marvin Gaye Classic Gets Expanded on CD

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At long last, Trouble Man.

With the upcoming 40th anniversary edition of Marvin Gaye’s 1972 album currently slated for November 13 release, each one of the Motown legend’s studio albums between 1971’s seminal What’s Going On and 1982’s Midnight Love has been expanded as a 2-CD set.  (In the case of What’s Going On, an even more deluxe edition was released in 2011.)  Trouble Man, the soundtrack to the 20th Century Fox “blaxploitation” film, turned out to be Gaye’s only excursion into movie scoring.  It followed the enormous success of What’s Going On and earned Gaye a No. 12 Pop/No. 3 R&B chart placement, proving that he could hold his own against the other soul stars-turned-film composers such as Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield – as if there was ever any doubt.

A largely instrumental, soul/jazz soundtrack might not have been the most expected move for Gaye in 1972.  But after emerging triumphant in his hard-won battle for creative control, and with a hefty contract in tow, Gaye was free to follow his muse.  Trouble Man, the film, starred Robert Hooks, whose credits range from A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway to Star Trek III: The Search for Spock on the silver screen.  Hooks’ “Mr. T” is a private detective who’s not afraid to take the law into his own hands even as he becomes embroiled in a power play between rival crime lords.  Paul Winfield (Sounder, The Terminator) and Ralph Waite (The Waltons) joined Hooks as two of those gangland figures, while Paula Kelly (Sweet Charity, The Andromeda Strain) portrayed T’s love interest.  Gaye might have identified with T, crafting much of his score around the character with compositions like “T Plays It Cool,” “T Stands for Trouble,” “Don’t Mess with Mister T” and “There Goes Mister T.”  Gaye recorded the Trouble Man album at Motown’s Los Angeles Hitsville West outpost, with his score arranged by such esteemed personnel as Jack Hayes, Leo Shuken and Gene Page.

Critics weren’t kind to the film Trouble Man; in The New York Times, Vincent Canby noted that “it’s not a bad film” but “represents such a peculiar collaboration of interests that it should be of concern to both black and white film sociologists.  Also, it dramatizes such a wild confusion of values, I’m not sure it wants to be described as cool or uppity.”  Yet Gaye remained rightly proud of his score, which melded funk, jazz, soul and orchestral writing into a seamless and often stunning whole.  Hip-o Select’s 2-CD expansion of the 1972 Trouble Man album should go a long way in furthering even a diehard fan’s appreciation of Gaye’s multi-layered score.  The remastered original LP will be joined by 29 previously unreleased recordings including alternate takes and for the first time anywhere, the original film soundtrack performances as actually heard in the movie.

What else will you find?  Hit the jump!  We’ve also got a full track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 29, 2012 at 08:21

WE HAVE A WINNER of Rare Jellyfish Vinyl LPs from Omnivore Recordings!

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Written by Joe Marchese

October 29, 2012 at 07:01

Real Gone Music Partners with Dusty Groove, Releases Hartford, Mathis and Grateful Dead in December

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If you’re in the market for any last-minute holiday gifts, Real Gone Music has got you covered.  The reissue specialists have announced their December slate of six titles, including three from an exciting new partnership!  As usual for the eclectic Real Goners, the releases cover a wide spectrum of genres, from traditional vocal pop to country, rock and jazz!  On December 4, the label will unveil these six titles: Johnny Mathis’ So Nice/Johnny Mathis Sings;John Hartford’s Aereo-Plain/Morning Bugle—The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings; Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks Vol. 26–4/26/69 Electric Theater, Chicago, IL 4/27/69 Labor Temple Minneapolis, MN; Gene Harris’ Gene Harris/The Three Sounds/Gene Harris of the Three Sounds; Bobbi Humphrey’s Dig This; and Jeremy Steig’s Wayfaring Stranger.  The final three titles are being released in collaboration with Chicago music retailer Dusty Groove.

Real Gone concludes its reissue series of Johnny Mathis’ Mercury albums with So Nice (1966) and Johnny Mathis Sings (1967).  So Nice (which hit No. 50 on the 1966 charts) took its title from Marcos Valle’s bossa nova ballad, and Mathis drew other songs from Broadway musicals (three songs from the then-current smash Man of La Mancha) and the pop charts (Bacharach and David’s “What the World Needs Now is Love,” Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.”) Johnny Mathis Sings (which reached No. 103) was even more diverse, with more Bacharach and David (“Always Something There to Remind Me,” “Saturday Sunshine”) joined by Lennon and McCartney (“Eleanor Rigby”) and Bobby Hebb (“Sunny”).  Mathis also tackled contemporary film and theatre songs on his tenth and final set for Mercury Records.  Soon after the release of Sings, he was back at Columbia Records to start another chapter.  Both albums make their CD debut, remastered by Mark Wilder at Battery Studios and featuring liner notes written by James Ritz featuring quotes from Mathis himself.

From a great singer to a great songwriter: Real Gone is also issuing, for the first time, The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings of John Hartford.  The “Gentle on My Mind” songwriter, having established onscreen fame paired with Glen Campbell and The Smothers Brothers on television, signed to Warner Bros. in 1971 and issued two singular long-players.  For 1971’s Aereo-Plain, Hartford brought together fiddler Vassar Clements, dobroist Tut Taylor, guitarist Norman Blake and bassist Randy Scruggs to play a set that paved the way for the so-called “newgrass” movement of contemporary bluegrass music.  Despite its lack of commercial success, Hartford pressed ahead with 1972’s Morning Bugle, on which he was joined by Blake and bassist Dave Holland.   Real Gone’s definitive survey of Hartford’s WB period includes eight previously unreleased tracks (four from each session), with notes by Hartford historian Andrew Vaughan and photos donated by the artist’s family.

After the jump: The Grateful Dead, plus three lost gems from Real Gone and Dusty Groove! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 26, 2012 at 10:10

Verve Goes “Off to the Races” with Remastered Reissue of Rupert Holmes’ “Mystery of Edwin Drood”

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“I had been over at Barry Manilow’s house, and he said ‘you know Rupert Holmes?’  I said, ‘No,’” recalled Academy Award-winning producer Craig Zadan to author Kenneth Turan.  “[Barry] played me his records, and I flipped out.  I got all his records, and I made Joe [Papp] and [his wife] Gail listen to them and they fell in love with the work…at one point, Rupert came up with an idea about a show about a recording studio, but it ultimately didn’t jell.  But I told him, ‘I believe you’re a great theatrical writer and you should write for here [the Public Theater].”  Holmes, always a mystery buff, had another idea.  This one paid off.  When The Mystery of Edwin Drood opened on Broadway in 1985, following a run in New York’s Central Park, Holmes found himself showered with Tony Awards, as Drood took home the statuettes for Best Book of a Musical, Best Score, Leading Actor in a Musical (George Rose), Best Director (Wilford Leach) and Best Musical.  Had the Best Orchestrations Tony been invented yet, Holmes would likely have won that, too.  With the first-ever Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood now in previews from director Scott Ellis and the Roundabout Theatre Company, Verve has taken the opportunity to bring the long out-of-print Original Broadway Cast Recording back to CD.

Holmes was already a veteran of the music business when he entered the world of theatre.  He had survived bubblegum, writing, arranging and/or singing for The Cuff Links, The Street People, The Buoys and The Partridge Family, before launching own solo career with 1974’s WidescreenWidescreen, produced by his frequent collaborator Jeffrey Lesser, contained songs with sound effects, dialogue and various-sized bands and orchestration, creating what Holmes deemed film-rock.  He was a creative artist and songwriter whose imagination knew no bounds, and eventually his C.V. included production clients from Barbra Streisand to Sparks.  Holmes also scored the final No. 1 hit of the 1970s and the first of the 1980s with his “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).”  The tune was no less inventive than his other records, but it became the first to strike a truly universal chord.

We’ve explored Holmes’ back catalogue in depth in an early installment of Back Tracks, but needless to say, he brought the full scope of his experiences as a songwriter and musician to the task to musicalized Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  And novel, Holmes’ musical was!  For one thing, it was billed as “The Solve-It-Yourself Broadway Musical,” for the audience actually chose the murderer each evening from a multitude of possibilities!  The score encompassed styles from traditional English music hall to ravishing balladry, but there was nary a trace of Holmes’ urban pop sound, making his transition to theatre all the more impressive.  The constants, however, were his clever, witty and absorbing lyrics.  (For the record, Holmes and Rita Coolidge did record a lovely pop single version of the duet “Perfect Strangers.”)

The Broadway Cast Recording preserves the peerless original cast in a play within a play, including George Rose as Mr. William Cartwright, the evening’s Mayor and Chairman, Patti Cohenour as Rosa Bud/Deirdre Peregrine, Howard McGillin as John Jasper/Clive Paget, Cleo Laine as Princess Puffer/Angela Prysock, Judy Kuhn as Alice/Isabel Yearsley, Donna Murphy as Beatrice/Florence Gill, and Betty Buckley as Alice Nutting and the gender-bending Edwin Drood.

Don’t take the garden path to Hell!  Just hit the jump instead, won’t you? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 25, 2012 at 15:11