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Archive for December 11th, 2012

As a Matter of Opinion I Think She’s Tops: Mary Wells Celebrated On New Releases from Hip-o Select, Soul Music Records

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Mary Wells Something NewMary Wells had a number of firsts under her belt. The first true Motown superstar, she became the first of the company’s artists to net a Grammy Award nomination. She also was the first superstar artist to leave Berry Gordy’s empire at the height of her fame. In 1965, Wells departed for a lucrative deal with 20th Century Fox Records, but her greatest successes were already behind her. Yet despite her death at just 49 years of age in 1992, Wells’ star still burns bright, largely thanks to her string of smash collaborations with the Motor City’s poet laureate, Smokey Robinson: “The One Who Really Loves You” (No. 8 Pop/No. 2 R&B), “You Beat Me to the Punch” (No. 9 Pop/No. 1 R&B), “Two Lovers” (No. 7 Pop/No. 1 R&B) and a little song called “My Guy” (No. 1 Pop/No. 1 R&B). Now, two very exciting new releases are reflecting on the earliest years of Mary Wells’ career, both at Motown and at 20th Century. Soul Music Records, an imprint of the Cherry Red Group, has just unveiled the 2-CD Complete 20th Century Fox Recordings, consisting of Wells’ two albums for the label plus copious bonus tracks. It has been joined by Hip-o Select’s 2-CD Something New: Motown Lost and Found, bringing a whopping 23 unreleased tracks circa 1961-1964 (out of 47 rare songs!) out of the vault and into your collection. First up: Something New!

Hip-o reveals that “like every other artist on the growing [Motown] roster, Wells recorded as often as possible, creating more than enough for her singles and albums releases.” The label goes on to promise that Something New: Motown Lost and Found includes “all of [Wells’] amazing ‘extra’ music: 47 rare tracks, 23 of them never before released.” This chronologically-arranged collection, of course, offers unheard productions from Wells’ closest Motown partner, Smokey Robinson, but also features tracks from Berry Gordy, Mickey Stevenson, the Holland/Dozier/Holland triumvirate and even Sylvester Potts of the Contours. If you’re not already salivating by this point, you just might be thrilled at the prospect of hearing a set of songs in which Wells is joined by the Four Tops (including a take on “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face” from My Fair Lady!) If that’s still not enticing enough, how about Mary Wells teamed with The Supremes? You’ll hear those songs, too! The Temptations are here, too. There are standards (“The Party’s Over,” “I Wanna Be Around”), Motown standards (“Money (That’s What I Want)”) and much, much more.

Something New also includes all of the songs released by Motown following Wells’ controversial departure from the label roster: seven performances from the 1966 album Vintage Stock, three duets with Marvin Gaye from his very first Motown box set, eleven songs from the compilation Looking Back, and three others first released on prior rarities sets. Yet even these tracks are presented here with a difference: all are heard in previously unreleased stereo mixes. It’s all topped off with a 32-page booklet featuring liner notes from Stu Hackel and rare photographs of the star. Something New is available now.

After the jump: Soul Music Records follows Mary Wells to 20th Century Fox!

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Written by Joe Marchese

December 11, 2012 at 11:53

Vinyl Watch: Black Sabbath, Death Cab Box Up Remastered LPs on Wax

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Black Sabbath vinyl boxThere are only two weeks left until Christmas, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of interesting catalogue projects around the way. Two recently-released vinyl boxes pack up a good chunk of two very diverse discographies for your perusal, with boxes for rock legends Black Sabbath and indie darlings Death Cab for Cutie available now.

The import-only Album Box Set by Black Sabbath, released today by Sanctuary Records, features all of the band’s albums for Vertigo/Warner Bros. with Ozzy Osbourne as frontman. (That’s Black Sabbath and Paranoid (1970), Master of Reality (1971), Volume 4 (1972), Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973), Sabotage (1975), Technical Ecstasy (1976)and Never Say Die! (1978), as well as 1980’s Live at Last…) Not merely content to present the original albums remastered on vinyl and replicated down to the last insert and sleeve, Sanctuary has also thrown in a copy of the band’s first single, “Evil Woman,” backed by non-LP B-side “Wicked World,” as well as a hardbound book replicating all of the band’s tour programs from that era. Order this box through Amazon U.S. or Amazon U.K. now.

Death Cab vinyl boxAlso available to order online only is a box set devoted to the early works of Washington alt-rock band Death Cab for Cutie. The Barsuk Years chronicles everything the band put out for the independent Seattle label before signing with major label Atlantic, as well as the band’s first release, the cassette-only demo You Can Play These Songs with Chords (1997). That album, in its vinyl debut, is exclusive to the box, along with exclusive vinyl editions of the Forbidden Love and Stability EPs from 2000 and 2002. Proper albums Something About Airplanes (1998), We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes (2000), The Photo Album (2001) and breakthrough disc Transatlanticism (2003). All but that final disc have been newly remastered by Roger Seibel at SAE to maintain a sonic quality consistent with that final disc. Limited to 1,500 signed, numbered boxes, The Barsuk Years is available here through the Artist in Residence imprint.

Written by Mike Duquette

December 11, 2012 at 10:29

Release Round-Up: Week of December 11

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The World is a Ghetto 40War, The World is a Ghetto: 40th Anniversary Edition (Hip-O Select/Avenue)

The Cisco Kid can be a friend of yours with this remastered edition of the 1972 funk classic, boasting four unreleased bonus tracks. (Amazon U.S. / U.K.)

Interpol Bright Lights 10Interpol, Turn On the Bright Lights: 10th Anniversary Edition (Matador)

The New York band’s breakthrough album, which saw them rise to the top of the critically-acclaimed indie rock pile, is expanded for its 10th anniversary with a bonus disc of rare and unreleased tracks and a DVD of music videos and two live concerts. (2 CD/1 DVD: Amazon U.S. / U.K. ; 2 LP/1 DVD: Amazon U.S. / U.K.)

The Jam, The Gift: Deluxe Edition (Polydor/UMe)

A U.S. cut-down version of last month’s hefty deluxe box set, featuring the first two discs of said box (the original album and non-LP B-sides on one disc, a clutch of rare and unreleased demos on the other). (Amazon U.S. / U.K.)

PPMInJapanPeter, Paul & Mary, Live in Japan 1967 (Rhino)

This release, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beloved folk trio, includes Deluxe: Live in Japan, a regional-only album making its domestic CD debut, and a bonus disc of 12 unreleased tracks from the same performance. (Amazon U.S. / U.K.)

Black Sabbath vinyl boxBlack Sabbath, Vinyl Album Box Set (Sanctuary)

This U.K. box features newly remastered, replicated versions of all the Ozzy Osbourne-era Black Sabbath albums, recreated down to the inserts, plus a hardbound book of replica tour programs and a copy of the band’s first 7″ single, “Evil Woman.” Plus, a download code is included to take all those songs on the go! (Amazon U.K. / U.S.)

Finally, we cap off this short release week with the latest reissues on hi-res formats and vinyl:

Big Brother and The Holding Company, Cheap Thrills (Amazon U.S. / U.K.) / Joe Walsh, But Seriously, Folks (Amazon U.S. / U.K.) (24KT Gold CDs) (Audio Fidelity)

Television, Marquee Moon (180-Gram LP) (Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

December 11, 2012 at 07:33