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Archive for October 25th, 2012

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

Bert Jansch’s “Heartbreak” Reissued and Expanded by Omnivore on CD, LP and Digital

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We first reported on this title back in August, but as the release date is nearing, we thought you might like a refresher, plus active order links!

Founding member of Pentangle and major exponent of the 1960s British folk music revival, the Scotland-born musician and songwriter Bert Jansch (1943-2011) left a tremendous musical mark before his untimely death last year, aged 67. Though Jansch’s first solo album was released in 1965, he remained a vital force on the folk scene, recording with regularity through the mid-2000s. One of Jansch’s most beloved albums is getting the deluxe treatment from Omnivore with the 30th Anniversary Edition of Heartbreak (1982), due on November 6. It will make a fitting reminder of the legacy of the often-unheralded folk figure, who received Lifetime Achievement Awards from BBC Radio, the MOJO Merit Award and was chosen as one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Long out of print, Heartbreak is returning in style. The first pressing of the vinyl edition will be issued on 1,500 pieces of clear vinyl (with subsequent pressings on black vinyl), while the 2-CD version includes the original Heartbreak album in its entirety plus 14 previously unreleased tracks recorded in June 1981 inside McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California. At McCabe’s, Jansch performed a handful of the Heartbreak tracks as well as other favorites such as Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Run the Game” and Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Both the vinyl and CD versions will arrive near what would have been Jansch’s 69th on November 3. Folk legend Ralph McTell has provided new liner notes, as have the album’s original producers, Rick and John Chelew.

There’s more after the jump, including track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 25, 2012 at 12:50

Posted in Bert Jansch, News, Reissues

Something So Strong: Jim Capaldi’s “Some Come Running” with Clapton, Harrison, Winwood Reissued

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There’s been some heavy Traffic at the record store lately.  This month has already seen a 2-CD edition of Steve Winwood’s Arc of a Diver, and it’s recently been joined by Esoteric Recordings’ latest offering from the catalogue of Winwood’s Traffic cohort, the late Jim Capaldi.  Following reissues of the songwriter and drummer’s Oh, How We Danced (1972), Whale Meat Again (1974), The Sweet Smell of Success (1980) and Let the Thunder Cry (1981), the Cherry Red Group imprint has turned its attention to 1988’s Some Come Running.

Though Traffic was an on-and-off concern until 1974, Capaldi’s solo career began in 1972 with Oh How We Danced.  As the decade progressed, he flirted with numerous styles, from soul with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section to hard rock, pop and, yes, disco.  He even had a dalliance with film scoring.  A 1975 cover version of “Love Hurts” went Top 5 in the U.K. but it wasn’t until 1982 that he finally gained entrée into the lucrative American radio market with “That’s Love” from the album Fierce Heart, featuring old friend Winwood on keyboards. Capaldi continued collaborating with many artists throughout his career.  Besides Winwood, they included Carlos Santana, Squeeze’s Paul Carrack (with whom he wrote the Eagles hit “Love Will Keep Us Alive”) and two fellows who helped raised the profile of Some Come Running: George Harrison and Eric Clapton, themselves lifelong friends and both one-time husbands of the former Pattie Boyd!

Besides the guest appearances, Some Come Running was notable as Capaldi’s return to drumming in a major way, as he had been content on many of his other solo projects to hand over the drumsticks.  It also marked his return to original home Island Records, which he had departed more than ten years prior.  Peter Vale (guitars/vocals/keyboards/bass) and Miles Waters (guitars/keyboards) produced the album with Capaldi, and the trio wrote five songs for the LP.  The remaining three songs were two Capaldi originals with other co-writers, and a cover recording of “Oh Lord, Why Lord,” introduced in 1968 by Spanish band the Pop Tops.

For Capaldi’s much-publicized Island comeback, Winwood played keyboards and sang on the title track, and supplied a guitar part to the opening song “Something So Strong.”  Eric Clapton added guitar to “You Are the One,” co-written by Capaldi and his keyboard player Chris Parren, and also appeared alongside Harrison on “Oh Lord, Why Lord.”  Harrison’s guitar is typically recognizable, as is Clapton’s during an incendiary solo.  Eighties production touches place the album in a very specific time period, but Capaldi’s songwriting was energized by his embrace of the new recording technology.

After the jump: more on Some Come Running, plus a track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 25, 2012 at 10:08