The Second Disc

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Archive for January 2013

Amoeba Records Becomes Digital Archivist

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AmoebaPerhaps you’ve heard this story by now, but it’s awesome even if you have: West Coast record chain Amoeba Music is digitizing their rarest and out-of-print stock to sell online. From Variety:

Many of the LPs have been getting remastering upgrades from the original vinyl and shellac sources. Currently, there are only about 1,000 titles for sale, but Amoeba is adding 10 or 15 more every day.

Some Vinyl Vaults artists are readily familiar, and in some cases Amoeba’s source material emanates from its owners’ own collections. Some of Prinz’s rare Louis Armstrong 78s were digitized and are being sold as downloads, while [Amoeba co-owner Marc] Weinstein’s prized collection of 144 Sun Ra albums has also been ripped.

Best of all, for those concerned about royalties going in the right place, the digital sale rights have been cleared wherever possible – and for those artists so obscure that no proper catalogue ownership can be determined, profits from the sale of those records will go into an escrow account, where any claimants can properly earn what’s theirs.

Now, certainly The Second Disc’s coverage isn’t usually focused on artists you’ve never heard of – or, if you haven’t, they’re at least catalogues that are owned by a major label. But I for one certainly applaud Amoeba’s efforts.

It’s easy to dispute the claim that the ease of Internet distribution (whether legal or not) has made it easy to find everything you want to add to your music library. How many single-only remixes or hard-to-find edits can you think of that still haven’t made it past your old vinyl, or at the very least, out-of-print maxi-CD singles? I can think of plenty – and if it’s going to take outside interests like a major record store to loose those chains around the songs we want to hear, have at it!

And what of you, dear reader? What great tracks do you wish your local indies would digitize for your consumption? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Mike Duquette

January 31, 2013 at 11:32

Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars: Él Collects Vintage Gilberto, Jobim, Bonfá on CD

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Joao Gilberto - The LegendFewer images in music are more evocative than that of the tall and tan and young and lovely girl from Ipanema, walking like a samba and inspiring passersby to go, “Aaaah.”  Jazz musicians of every stripe and every instrument latched onto Brazil’s bossa nova sound after it exploded to popularity in the wake of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luis Bonfá, Vinicius de Moraes and João Gilberto’s soundtrack to the 1959 film Black Orpheus.  Though Black Orpheus was the breakthrough, it wasn’t the birth of bossa nova.  From the very beginning, though, was João Gilberto.  Él Records, an imprint of the Cherry Red Group, has just released two new collections that chronicle the early, heady days of bossa nova and the works of Gilberto: the 2-CD mini-box set João Gilberto: The Legend and the various-artists songbook collection The Hits of João Gilberto.

João Gilberto began recording in his native Brazil as early as 1951, but his earliest work was mere prelude to the seismic contributions he would make to world music later in the decade.  “Bim-Bom,” written by Gilberto in 1956 but not recorded until 1958, has been considered the first true bossa nova song.  The artist’s hushed, intimate style of voice-and-guitar epitomized the breezy yet sophisticated genre which refined the traditional sound of samba into something altogether more intimate.  Identified by gentle acoustic guitar and sometimes piano, and often adorned with subtle string or horn accents, bossa nova de-emphasized the more percussive aspects of samba.  Instead, an emphasis was placed on the inviting melodies and rich harmonies.  Gilberto’s 1959 album Chega de Saudade, named after a composition by his friends Jobim and de Moraes, was the first bossa nova LP, and ignited the genre.  It’s the first of three consecutive albums from Gilberto included on Disc One of The Legend.  This disc also includes 1960’s O Amor, O Sorriso e a Flor, and 1961’s self-titled João Gilberto.

Gilberto popularized many cornerstones of the bossa nova songbook on these three albums, many written by his compatriot Jobim, often referred to as “the Gershwin of Brazil.”  Chega de Saudade, with arrangements and productions from Jobim, features “Desafinado (Off-Key)” alongside Gilberto’s own “Bim-Bom” and songs from future bossa legends Dori Caymmi and Carlos Lyra.  O Amor, also produced and arranged by Jobim, included yet more standards-to-be such as “Samba de Uma Nota So (One Note Samba),” “Meditação (Meditation)” and “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars).”  Whereas Chega had also updated samba classics in the new style, O Amor widened its net to transform vintage American songs such as Mort Dixon and Harry Woods’ venerable “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.”   1961’s eponymous album found Gilberto teaming not just with Jobim but with organist Walter Wanderley.  Jobim and Wanderley split arrangement duties, and Gilberto tackled more compositions from Lyra and Caymmi as well as a handful of songs from Jobim including “Insensatez (How Insensitive).”

These three albums formed the roots of bossa nova, and by the release of the 1961 album, the genre was poised for its imminent international success.  The second disc of The Legend, however, turns the clock back for a collection of Antiques and Curios.  This odds-and-ends collection has embryonic bossa tracks from Gilberto dating to 1951 and 1952, but also draws from a number of recordings during and after the period chronicled on the first disc.  Hence, Antiques offers a sampling from Black Orpheus (including the much-covered “Manha de Carnaval”) alongside seven songs from vocalist Elizete Cardoso recorded with both Gilberto and Jobim in 1958 and four from singer Jonas Silva on which he is accompanied by Gilberto.  Also included are selections from the soundtrack of 1962’s Copacabana Palace film, which (like Black Orpheus) had the participation of Gilberto, Jobim and Bonfá.  The Legend is handsomely packaged in a slipcase containing a booklet of liner notes and both discs in individual mini-LP sleeves.

After the jump: what’s on The Hits of João Gilberto?  Plus: track listings and order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 31, 2013 at 10:09

Short Takes, Classic Pop Edition: What’s Coming From Willie Nelson, Bing Crosby, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett

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Willie Nelson - Let's Face the Music

Today’s Short Takes looks at a variety of upcoming releases with one thing in common: great vocalists in the tradition of the Great American Songbook!

First up, let’s take a look at an album of new recordings from a favorite reissue label.  One genre has never been enough to contain the musical restlessness of Willie Nelson.  The country legend and honky-tonk hero created his own standards with his early songs such as “Crazy” and “Funny How Time Slips Away” before paying tribute to the Great American Songbook of yore with 1978’s chart-topping Stardust.  Since that seminal album, the prolific Nelson has made frequent returns to the realm of standards of both the pop and country genres.  His latest such effort arrives from our friends at Legacy Recordings on April 15.

Roughly two weeks before Nelson celebrates his 80th birthday on April 30, Legacy will release Let’s Face the Music and Dance from Willie Nelson and Family.  Recorded in Austin, Texas and produced by Buddy Cannon, the album of all-new recordings is titled after the 1936 Irving Berlin song.   He’s joined by Family, the band he formed with his sister Bobbie Nelson (on piano), drummer Paul English and Mickey Raphael on harmonica.  They’re accompanied by Paul’s brother Billy English (keeping it all in the family, after all) on electric gut string and snare drum, Kevin Smith on upright bass and Jim “Moose” Brown on B-3 organ.  Willie’s son Micah Nelson, who contributed to Nelson’s 2011 Legacy debut Heroes, contributes percussion.  Pop, rock, jazz and country classics all have found a place on Let’s Face the Music and Dance, including songs from Carl Perkins (“Matchbox”), Frank Loesser (“I Wish I Didn’t Love You So”), Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”) and Django Reinhardt (“Nuages”).

Willie’s celebratory jaunt through some of the songs that have shaped his own musical legacy hits stores on April 15.

Jane Morgan - What Now

The U.K.’s Sepia Records label continues to offer a number of rare vocal, soundtrack and cast album treats, many of them available as a result of the U.K.’s current public domain laws.  Last month’s batch of reissues included titles from Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and Enoch Light.  Come February 12, Sepia will release the following:

Pat Boone, I’ll See You in My Dreams/This and That – Sepia continues its series dedicated to Pat Boone with this new release.  The label is supplementing two original Boone LPs with seven bonus tracks, and many of these tracks have not appeared on CD outside of Bear Family’s complete box sets.  Rather than being in rock-and-roll mode here, Boone tackles standards including “That Old Black Magic,” “My Blue Heaven,” “The Tennessee Waltz” and even “Peg o’ My Heart.”

Jane Morgan, What Now My Love/At the Cocoanut Grove – The great chanteuse’s final two albums for Kapp Records, both from 1962, are joined together on one CD.  What Now My Love, a collection of torch songs, is notable for having been arranged and conducted by the young Burt Bacharach.  It includes Bacharach and Bob Hilliard’s song “Waiting for Charlie to Come Home.”  (Morgan first recorded a new Bacharach song with 1959’s “With Open Arms.”  Around the time of the LP, Bacharach recorded his “Forever My Love” with Morgan as the B-side to the single of “What Now My Love,” and he also arranged and conducted a Terry Gilkyson song, “Ask Me to Dance,” for her.)   Cocoanut Grove features Jane on extended medleys of Paris-themed songs and tunes popularized by actress/singer Lillian Russell (1860-1922).

Tony Mottola, Roman Guitar 2/Spanish Guitar – Sepia pairs two 1962 Command Records LPs from session guitarist extraordinaire Tony Mottola on one CD.  Roman Guitar 2 made it all the way to No. 46 on the U.S. Billboard album chart and contains performances of Italian-themed favorites like “Funiculi Funicula.”  For Spanish Guitar, Mottola turned to “Tico-Tico,” “Granada” and even “Lady of Spain.”  Mottola continued to record into the 1980s, but this pair of albums finds the guitarist in his prime, making music ready-made for dancing in front of the hi-fi.

Original Soundtrack Recordings, The Road to Hong Kong/Say One for Me – Two rare soundtracks starring Bing Crosby have been collected on one CD.  From 1962 and 1959, respectively, The Road to Hong Kong and Say One for Me have never previously been available on CD.   The original Liberty Records soundtrack to Hong Kong finds Crosby and Bob Hope joined by Joan Collins and Dorothy Lamour; Columbia’s Say One for Me album features Debbie Reynolds and Robert Wagner.

After the jump: Wounded Bird revives a long out-of-print title from the Queen of Soul, and travel with Tony Bennett as time goes by! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 30, 2013 at 11:25

Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English” Fixes Up Nice for Expanded Reissue

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Broken English Deluxe EditionAs reported in this morning’s Release Round-Up, Marianne Faithfull’s iconic Broken English is getting the deluxe treatment from Universal’s U.K. catalogue arm.

Upon initial release in 1979, Broken English was a major surprise for almost everyone involved and listening. Then in her early 30s at the time, Faithfull had lived enough for a handful of people, going from chart-dominating folk singer (debut hit “As Tears Go By” was written for her by Mick Jagger) to swinging London sex symbol (she left her first husband for Jagger) before flaring out on the streets of Soho in the ’70s, a homeless drug addict unable to get her act together. Eventually, she did long enough for 1977’s Dreamin’ My Dreams, an attempt to re-engage a folk/country-influenced sound greatly hampered by the effects of drug abuse and laryngitis on her vocal abilities.

Broken English, by contrast, works within those limitations (and the burgeoning sounds of punk and New Wave) to craft a record full of incendiary originals (the title track, a meditation on modern terrorism, and the fiery closer “Why D’Ya Do It,” a blazing condemnation of infidelity violent enough to be dropped from certain international pressings) and relevant covers (John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” Dr. Hook’s “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”).

This two-disc edition is not short on extras. The first disc features the remastered album plus a short promotional film for the album directed by the late, acclaimed British director Derek Jarman, commercially released for the first time here. Disc 2 features an alternate, more “rock”-oriented mix of the album recently rediscovered in the vaults, plus single remixes of “Broken English” and “Why D’Ya Do It” and a B-side version of “Sister Morphine,” a track Faithfull co-wrote for The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers.

Order your copy from Amazon U.K. or Amazon U.S. and hit the jump for a full discographical breakdown!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 29, 2013 at 14:23

Review: Dick Jensen, “Dick Jensen” – A Lost Philadelphia Soul Classic

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Dick Jensen - Dick JensenWhen Dick Jensen was signed to ABC’s Probe Records label in 1969, only one album title seemed appropriate: White Hot Soul.  The Hawaiian-born entertainer’s stage moves earned him comparisons to James Brown and Jackie Wilson, while his voice recalled the booming sonorities of Tom Jones or Engelbert Humperdinck.  Tucked away on Side Two of that Don Costa-produced LP, Jensen included The Soul Survivors’ “Expressway to Your Heart” as part of a medley.  That 1967 Top 5 hit, of course, was written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, later to found Philadelphia International Records.  Jensen couldn’t have known that just a few years later, he would be poised for his American breakthrough as one of the artists signed to PIR.  The showbiz veteran had taken his act to Mexico City, New York City, Las Vegas and throughout the Hawaiian Islands by the time he was welcomed to the label of the O’Jays, Billy Paul and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.  That breakthrough, alas, never came, and 1973’s Dick Jensen became one of the most neglected items in the PIR catalogue.  The LP is long-deleted, and a CD edition was only released in Japan.  Thanks to the upcoming reissue by Big Break Records, however, you can rediscover an album which stands squarely among the best released by the iconic label.

Being an early production made before the famous MFSB orchestra splintered, Dick Jensen teamed the vocalist of Hawaiian, French, English, Danish and Irish descent with the combined forces of the greatest musicians the city had to offer.  Indeed, the line-up recorded at Sigma Sound Studios is quintessential: co-producer Leon Huff on piano, Norman Harris, T.J. Tindall, Bobby Eli, and Roland Chambers on guitar, Earl Young on drums, Ronnie Baker on bass, Larry Washington on congas, Lenny Pakula on organ and Vince Montana on vibes.  Don Renaldo brought his Horns and Strings, and the Sweethearts of Sigma (Carla Benson, Barbara Ingram and Evette Benton) were on hand for the background vocals.  Gamble and Huff, Bunny Sigler and Thom Bell all contributed production, while Bell, Montana, Harris and Bobby Martin all wrote arrangements for Jensen’s artistic rebirth.

Are you sold on this LP yet?  You know what to do – hit the jump for more on Dick Jensen! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 29, 2013 at 13:12

Posted in Dick Jensen, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Big Break Serves Up Soul, Jazz and Funk from Carmen McRae, Billy Paul, Azteca and More

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Carmen McRae - I Am MusicTimeless soul music knows no regional boundaries, at least based on the latest quintet of releases from Cherry Red’s Big Break Records imprint.  With this group of reissues, you’ll travel to Philadelphia by way of Hawaii, Oakland, Harlem and Chicago.  All of the titles previewed below are available now in the U.K. and next Tuesday, February 5, in the U.S.!

Two new titles hail from the Philadelphia International Records catalogue.  Perhaps most exciting is the first CD release outside of Japan for 1973’s Dick Jensen, the self-titled album by the renowned entertainer from Hawaii.  Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff enlisted the MFSB orchestra plus producers and arrangers like Bobby Martin, Bunny Sigler and Thom Bell to craft a major musical statement from the high-energy performer, but Dick Jensen quickly sank without a trace.  It was no reflection on the album’s quality, however, as the LP is filled with stunning mini-pop/soul masterpieces.  BBR’s edition features new liner notes by Stephen “Spaz” Schnee that shed light on the late, enigmatic singer and this lost classic.  Click here for our full review of Dick Jensen!

Big Break is also delivering another title in its series of releases from Philadelphia’s own Billy PaulGoing East (1971) was not only Paul’s first PIR platter, but the label’s very first album altogether.  As such, the smooth PIR soul sound was still in its formative stages, and Going East bears many of the jazz hallmarks that informed 1970’s Ebony Woman (previously reissued on BBR).  Musically, Going East is rough-hewn, with the full MFSB Orchestra not in the picture.  Of the familiar players, Norman Harris and Roland Chambers appeared on guitars, Vince Montana chimed in with vibes, and Don Renaldo as usual supplied the (subtle) strings.  The prominent flute of Tony Williams adds a distinct character to the album.  Eddie Green wrote the rhythm charts for the album, and Lenny Pakula arranged horns and strings for the epic title track, a slow-burning, mystical meditation on slavery which does look forward to similarly widescreen productions like “War of the Gods” from the album of the same name (also a recent BBR reissue).

Billy Paul - Going EastThe rest of the album’s horn and string charts were divided between Thom Bell and Bobby Martin, who each arranged four songs.  Bell’s symphonic stylings are most apparent on a striking rendition of Jimmy Webb’s “This is Your Life,” while his arrangement of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” is simply atypical for both Bell and Paul.  “(If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You?” came from Peter Link and C.C. Courtney’s off-Broadway musical Salvation, and was previously recorded by Ronnie Dyson.  Dyson, of course, recorded an album with Bell that didn’t include the Salvation song; here’s your chance to hear what a Bell arrangement of the song sounded like, with Paul’s incomparably mature vocals.  (It’s worth noting that Going East was issued in September 1971; two months later, the Thom Bell-produced debut of The Stylistics followed.  How remarkably different his work is here, minus most of the stylistic and instrumental hallmarks for which he would become renowned.  Yet all three issued singles from Going East were Bell’s handiwork.)  Of the Bobby Martin tracks, there’s a slick, languid version of Rodgers and Hart’s On Your Toes standard “There’s a Small Hotel,” and Martin’s own song “I Wish It Were Yesterday,” which has the same late-night cabaret vibe.  A pleasant if unexceptional Gamble and Huff tune, “Love Buddies,” and a fiery take on Eugene McDaniels’ “Compared to What” continue the album’s diverse approach.  Going East is one of the most unusual PIR albums, but Paul’s vocal mastery was in its prime even if Gamble and Huff hadn’t yet found the formula to best marry those jazz-honed pipes with silky soul.  BBR’s edition includes all three single A-sides released from the album along with new liner notes from Andy Kellman drawing on an interview with Billy Paul himself.

After the jump: Azteca, Tyrone Davis and Carmen McRae take the spotlight, plus track listings with discography and order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 29, 2013 at 10:01

Release Round-Up: Week of January 29

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RumoursDeluxeBoxFleetwood Mac, Rumours: Expanded/Deluxe Editions (Warner Bros.)

Ahead of the band’s forthcoming tour, a new 4CD/1DVD/LP deluxe box set edition of their most popular album, featuring the original album on CD and vinyl, two discs of studio outtakes (including the one from the 2004 reissue) and an unreleased documentary. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) A three-disc edition collects the album and the two new bonus CDs, so if you own the last expansion and can live sans DVD, you can pick the rest up for a reasonable fee. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Miles Davis - Bootleg 2Miles Davis Quintet, Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Volume 2 (Columbia/Legacy)

This 3CD/1DVD set features Miles’ “lost” quintet lineup (featuring Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland, who never laid down studio tracks on their own) in four European shows from France, Stockholm and Berlin. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Double TroubleStevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Texas Flood: 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy)

SRV’s searing debut LP, newly expanded with an unreleased live set from the period. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Destiny's Child - Love SongsDestiny’s Child, Love Songs (Music World/Columbia/Legacy)

A new compilation of lesser-known, romantic album cuts, bolstered by – gasp! – the first new Destiny’s Child track since the mid-’00s! Place your bets as to whether Beyoncé will include the tune in her Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday… (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Deep Purple Paris 1975Deep Purple, Paris 1975 (Eagle Rock)

First in a series of upcoming live Deep Purple reissues, this set chronicles the band’s last Mark III-era show, before Ritchie Blackmore left to perform with his new band Rainbow. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Broken English Deluxe EditionMarianne Faithfull, Broken English: Deluxe Edition (Island/Universal U.K.)

Faithfull’s incendiary, signature 1979 album has been expanded in the U.K. with some great audiovisuals, including rare and unreleased mixes. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Five StarFive Star, Five Star: Deluxe Edition Shine: Expanded Edition (Cherry Pop)

Available in the U.K. today are two comparatively obscure albums by the British pop/R&B group, expanded with many remixes. (Five Star: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S., Shine: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Playlist - Box TopsVarious Artists, Playlist: The Very Best Of (Legacy)

Among the titles in this batch: neat mixes of hits and deep-ish cuts from Andy Williams, The Highwaymen and Harry Nilsson; Sun-era sets for Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins and a disc of Box Tops singles, all in glorious mono.

Ace Embarks On Final “Sea Cruise” For Concluding Volume of “The Ace Story”

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The Ace Story Volume 5In 1979, Ace Records of London released Volume One of The Ace Story on LP, celebrating the music of its namesake label, Ace Records of Jackson (Mississippi).  Roughly five years later, Ace issued the fifth and final volume in the series.  Fast-forward to 2010.  That was when Ace revisited The Ace Story with a CD reissue of that original 1979 LP, expanded with bonus tracks.  The new and improved Ace Story series has itself just come to a close with the recent release of Volume 5 on CD.

The new Volume 5 draws on the period between 1956 and 1962 when Johnny Vincent’s Ace enterprise and its imprints (such as the Vin label) ruled the roost of New Orleans R&B.  1962 can be considered the line of demarcation for Ace, as Vincent had decided by then to concentrate on pop, rather than R&B.  Jimmy Clanton scored a hit that year with “Venus in Blue Jeans” penned by the Brill Building team of Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller, signaling just how far afield the label had come from its N’awlins roots.  The success of “Venus” led Vincent to take an A&R position with competitor Vee-Jay, though he continued to sporadically issue singles on Ace.  There was a return to soul music with a briefly reactivated label in the 1970s, and once again in the 1990s.  But the heyday of the original Ace will always be those heady days of the mid-to-late fifties and early sixties.

Some of the label’s most familiar artists appear on Volume 5, expanded from the LP’s 15 tracks to a generous 24.  Huey “Piano” Smith (“Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”) and His Clowns are heard on two tracks, “Educated Fool” (1962) and “If It Ain’t One Thing, It’s Another” (also 1962).  Huey also appears on the original 1958 recording of his song “Sea Cruise.”  Recorded with Gerri Hall, Johnny Vincent refused to release the “Huey and Jerry” version, and of course, Ford’s version went on to hit status and in fact kicked off the original Ace Story Volume One.  You can decide for yourself whether Vincent was right!  Charles Brown (“Merry Christmas, Baby”) offers “Love’s Like a River” (1960), and Lee Dorsey (“Working in the Coal Mine”) is represented with his 1959 recording of “Rock.”  Like Joe Tex and Benny Spellman, Ace recording artist Dorsey would soon find much greater success elsewhere.  Ace star Clanton sings two tracks here, “You Aim to Please” (1958) and “What Am I Living For” (1961), with the former co-written by New Orleans music impresario Cosimo Matassa.

What role did a legendary Night Tripper play at Ace?  Hit the jump!  Plus: the full track listing with discography, and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2013 at 14:05

Skydog, Celebrated: Life of Duane Allman Explored in New Career-Spanning Box Set

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Skydog - Duane Allman Retrospective

Duane Allman was just 24 when he perished on the streets of Macon, Georgia, the victim of an accident involving his motorcycle and a flatbed truck carrying a lumber crane. Yet in a short but intense period of time, the Nashville-born slide guitar virtuoso had established a reputation as a creative and versatile musician with invention to spare.  His distinct tones on a Wilson Pickett recording caught the ear of Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler, and while based at Rick Hall’s Muscle Shoals studio, Allman graced albums by everyone from Percy Sledge and Aretha Franklin to Lulu and Laura Nyro.  As leader of The Allman Brothers Band, Duane had only participated in three studio albums and one groundbreaking live set before his death, but his music still resonates today for anyone who’s ever felt a connection to soulful southern rock.  Now, more than 40 years after his 1971 death, Rounder Records is celebrating the legacy of Duane Allman with the release of a comprehensive, career-spanning box set.  Due on March 5, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective is a 7-CD, 129-track box set drawing on every period of Allman’s career from session stalwart to adventurous bandleader.  Rare album tracks and long out-of-print singles sit alongside hits and fan favorites for a box that could easily be called The Ultimate Duane Allman.

Skydog is the first box set to put the entirety of Allman’s too-short career in perspective.  The first disc chronicles Duane’s pre-Allman Brothers bands.  His early band The Escorts, with brother Gregg, opened for The Beach Boys before morphing into the Allman Joys.  Though that pun is hard to resist, it wasn’t long before The Allman Joys joined with the remains of The Men-its to become the trendier Hour Glass. Signed to Liberty Records, the Hour Glass made its name opening for the likes of The Doors and Buffalo Springfield, and recorded two albums of pop-soul very much of its time.  Though Duane and Gregg’s heart was in a sound much earthier, the works of The Hour Glass showed the Allman brothers’ flexibility.  Disc One of Skydog features recordings by The Escorts, The Allman Joys and Hour Glass as well as 31st of February and The Bleus.

Allman’s remarkable session guitar takes precedence on the second disc, adorning tracks by such Atlantic Records artists as Clarence Carter (“Light My Fire”), the “Wicked” Wilson Pickett (“Hey Jude”), Arthur Conley (“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”), Aretha Franklin (“The Weight”), King Curtis (“Games People Play”) and the Sweet Inspirations (“Get a Little Order”).  By the third CD, you’ll find Allman Brothers Band recordings starting to alternate with Duane’s still-busy session career, as well as three tracks from an abortive solo session helmed at Muscle Shoals by Jerry Wexler.  Duane’s “Goin’ Down Slow,” “No Money Down” and “Happily Married Man” are all treats you’ll hear from that date.

What else will you find?  Plenty!  Hit the jump for all of the details, including a full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2013 at 10:11

Call “Echo Valley 2-6809” For 7Ts’ Latest Partridge Family Reissues

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Partridge - Sound Magazine and Shopping BagEven Reuben Kincaid might be happy with two upcoming releases from Cherry Red’s 7Ts label: two-for-one reissues of The Partridge Family’s Sound Magazine and Shopping Bag; and The Partridge Family Notebook and Crossword Puzzle.  Continuing 7Ts’ David Cassidy and Partridge Family reissue series, both two-fers are out now in the U.K. and on February 5 in U.S. stores.

1971’s U.S. Top 10 album Sound Magazine, the third LP from the TV group fronted by David Cassidy and Shirley Jones, followed its two predecessors up the charts.  Like The Partridge Family Album and Up to Date (released in 2012 by 7Ts on one CD) as well as those albums that followed, Sound Magazine featured the instrumental talents of the Los Angeles “Wrecking Crew” including Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborn and Tommy Tedesco.  Producer Wes Farrell developed a remarkably consistent team for all of the Partridges’ sunny pop records, and Sound Magazine featured songs by Farrell and Paul Anka (“One Night Stand”), Rupert Holmes and Kathy Cooper (“Echo Valley 2-6809”) and Partridge mainstay Tony Romeo (“You Don’t Have to Tell Me,” “Summer Days,” “I Would Have Loved You Anyway”).  Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown’s “I Woke Up in Love This Morning” was the album’s biggest hit, peaking just outside the Top 10 at No. 13 in America.  The Partridge Family Christmas Album (not part of 7Ts’ program) arrived next, but the proper follow-up album Shopping Bag arrived in early 1972 and featured much of the same personnel and songwriters.  Bobby Hart teamed with both Farrell and longtime partner Bobby Hart for a couple of songs, Farrell teamed with Romeo for three more, and David Cassidy supplied his own “There’ll Come a Time.”  It was Cassidy’s third and final songwriting credit on a Partridge Family album.  Though Shopping Bag cracked the Top 20 in the U.S. at No. 18, it didn’t yield any Top 10 singles.  Tony Romeo’s “It’s One of Those Nights” did hit No. 20 Pop.  “Am I Losing You,” by Levine and Brown, only managed to hit No. 59, signaling that Partridge-mania had perhaps subsided.

Hit the jump for details on the next two-fer, plus pre-order links and discography for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 25, 2013 at 10:15