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Archive for January 16th, 2013

Numero is (Possibly) Purple on Forthcoming LP Reissue

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Lewis ConnectionNearly 35 years after the unceremonious release of The Lewis Conection, a local Minneapolis band’s sole funk LP, The Numero Group is resurrecting the disc, giving it a premiere release next month. (It’s part of an forthcoming phase at Numero to unearth significant and rare recordings from the early days of the Minneapolis sound.)

What makes this set so special? According to popular lore, while recording the album at Minneapolis’ Sound 80 Studios, The Lewis Connection invited an 18-year-old singer/songwriter who was tracking his first professional recordings in the same studio to sing and play guitar on one of their tunes, “Got to Be Something Here.”

That kid was Prince Rogers Nelson. The young man who would, in less than a decade, solidify his position as one of the 20th century’s greatest artists, made his first released professional appearance on another artist’s track with that session, a small but notable footnote in the sprawling Prince canon. (Hardcore fans correctly point to Prince’s tenure in the Twin Cities funk outfit 94 East, alongside cousin-in-law Pepe Willie and childhood friend André Cymone, as Prince’s first pro experience in the studio; that said, those recordings were not commercially released until Purple Rain had taken the world by storm.)

The Lewis Connection’s sole album of funk jams never crossed over beyond the local scene, where only about 200 copies were ever pressed (none of which even spelled the band’s name right – all copies credit “The Lewis Conection”). There was, ironically, one more connection to His Royal Badness some years down the pike, however; the band’s bassist, Sonny Thompson, would be Prince’s rhythmic backbone in the 1990s as part of The New Power Generation.

Below, you can listen to one of the album cuts, “Higher,” and check out the track list and a pre-order link.

The Lewis Connection (originally released by P.A. Productions, 1979 – reissued Numero Group, 2013)

  1. Get Up
  2. Higher
  3. Feel Good to Ya
  4. Got to Be Something Here
  5. Dynamic Duo
  6. Mr. G

Written by Mike Duquette

January 16, 2013 at 14:54

Posted in News, Prince, Reissues, Vinyl

Say Their Name: “Love Songs” Arrives from Destiny’s Child, Includes New Song

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Destiny's Child - Love SongsThe upbeat dance-pop/R&B of Destiny’s Child successfully updated the girl group sound for the late 1990s and early 2000s, and launched the careers of Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Beyoncé Knowles.  In late 2012, Legacy Recordings marked the fifteenth anniversary of the group’s No. 1 debut single with the release of Playlist: The Very Best of Destiny’s Child.  That disc soon became the most successful entry in the Playlist series.  So it might come as no surprise that the label will soon release another retrospective compilation.  On January 29, Love Songs is slated to arrive, and the 14-track album will premiere the group’s first new recording since 2004.

Whereas Playlist focused on the group’s hits (including all five No. 1 Pop and No. 1 R&B hits), Love Songs takes a different approach.  All four of Destiny’s Child’s non-holiday studio albums are represented via lesser-known gems with a romantic flavor.  The group’s first two such albums, Destiny’s Child (1998) and The Writing’s on the Wall (1999), featured a different line-up of Knowles, Rowland, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson.  Two tracks come from that eponymous debut, and three from the breakthrough sophomore effort (which reached No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard 200).    Two more tracks are drawn from 2001’s No. 1 record Survivor, which introduced Michelle Williams as a full-fledged member and included the group’s cover of the Bee Gees-penned “Emotion”.  It’s one of the tracks reprised on Love Songs.  After a hiatus, Destiny’s Child returned with 2004’s Destiny Fulfilled.  Four cuts on Love Songs originated on Fulfilled.  Kelly Rowland’s 2002 solo recording “Heaven” also makes an appearance, as well as Timbaland’s 2002 remix of “Say My Name,” the ubiquitous chart-topper from The Writing’s on the Wall.

Love Songs concludes with the reunion recording of “Nuclear.”  Written by The Neptunes’ Pharrell Williams, Michelle Williams, James Fauntleroy and Lonny Bereal, “Nuclear” was produced by Pharrell Williams.  Vocal production on the song was handled by Beyoncé Knowles and Bereal.

Hit the jump for the full track listing with discographical annotation, a pre-order link and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 16, 2013 at 13:36

Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues: Jack White’s Label Issues Rare Blues Masters on Vinyl

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Blind Willie McTellJack White’s Third Man Records label, not merely content to issue unique offerings of the ex-White Stripe’s music on a variety of formats, is now getting into the historical catalogue business with three forthcoming LPs of vintage blues masters.

The new venture, Document Records, will present “the building blocks and DNA of American culture,” as the announcement put it. This first wave of recordings features the early works of Charley Patton, the lauded “Father of the Delta Blues”whose powerful voice influenced a young Howlin’ Wolf and whose guitar showmanship anticipated Jimi Hendrix’s theatrics; Blind Willie McTell, whose “Statesboro Blues” was an early signature tune for The Allman Brothers; and The Mississippi Sheiks, a guitar/fiddle ensemble whose “Sittin’ on Top of the World” was covered by everyone from Dylan to Sinatra.

All titles will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl and features new artwork and detailed liner notes. All titles are available to order now and will be available in shops January 29. Hit the jump for order links and track lists for each title!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 16, 2013 at 12:32

Big Break Goes Disco with KC and the Sunshine Band, George McCrae, Johnnie Taylor

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KC and the Sunshine Band - Part 3The Temptations had sunshine on a rainy day, John Denver had it on his shoulders, and the O’Jays took their cue from an old standard to address a loved one as “my sunshine.”  But Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, forming Miami’s KC and the Sunshine Band, had sunshine both in the band name and in the joyful, exultant brand of music they played.  Big Break Records has recently reissued one title recorded by those disco titans, one title produced by them, and one with another connection to the genre.  All three of BBR’s expanded editions will transport you to those heady days when the dance underground became the pop mainstream.

KC and the Sunshine Band’s 1976 long-player was simply and efficiently titled Part 3 (CDBBR 0817).  As the title made explicit, the album wasn’t an attempt to redefine or expand the band’s sound.  Instead, Part 3 continued the style the group of musicians had already established.  After 1974’s unsuccessful Do It Good, Casey and Finch reinvented their group with a self-titled album in 1975 that asked listeners to “Get Down Tonight.”  That was clearly the way listeners liked it (uh huh, uh huh), so Part 3, too, was all about the groove – and how it makes you move!  With simplicity and clarity, KC and the Sunshine Band invited listeners to “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Your Booty.”  And though the other seven selections on the album would inevitably fall in the shadow of that No. 1 Pop and R&B hit, this new reissue proves the album is an upbeat delight from start to finish.

In the fine and detailed liner notes from J. Matthew Cobb (who supplies the essays for all three titles reviewed here), Harry Wayne Casey reveals “Shake, Shake, Shake” as an ode to self-empowerment and to fearlessness of doing your own thing.  Of course, that unbridled freedom was a major part of the disco identity at its roots, and few groups expressed personal liberation with more vitality than KC and the Sunshine Band.  Cobb’s essay also frankly discusses the implications of Casey and Finch, two Caucasian men, making such an impact in disco, and the feelings from some quarters that they had somehow co-opted black music.  This probing discussion gives a subtext to the listening experience that can’t be overestimated.  Still, Part 3 is a sunny, ready-to-party record, as evidenced by that significant rainbow on the front of the album artwork.

The album’s other major hit, “I’m Your Boogie Man,” followed “Booty” to No. 1 Pop (and No. 3 R&B).  And if it’s not as stone-cold a classic, it has all the hallmarks of KC’s disco-funk-pop perfection.  “Let’s Go Party” could be the band’s mantra, and the funk is ladled on this tight track, too.  It’s certainly not excessive, at under three minutes’ length, but is a reminder that KC and co. were deft musicians far more than “just” a disco band.  Casey and Finch’s production hallmarks extend to the lesser-known tracks;  “Baby I Love You (Yes I Do)” was only released on 45 as a flip, but it could have been an A-side, with its (likely intentional) echoes of “That’s the Way I Like It.”  It’s difficult to discern any deeper meaning to “Wrap Your Arms Around Me” (“Come on, come on!”) with its shrieks and wails of pleasure, but it’s likely you’ll want to join in.  “I Like to Do It” is another simple but insistent affirmation with bold horns, its melody set to the familiar KC percolating dance groove: to boogie down all night long, to shake it up, all “with you.”  The album-closing “Keep It Comin’ Love” is another sexy pop confection with an irresistible hook (“Don’t stop it now, don’t stop it now”).

BBR has added two bonus tracks, the single versions of “Boogie Man” and “Keep It Comin’ Love,” to Part 3.  (Singles were also released for “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Your Booty,” of course, as well as “I Like to Do It” and “Wrap Your Arms Around Me.”)  KC and the Sunshine Band’s disco hits are still staples of oldies radio today, but this full-service reissue makes the experience of listening to the band’s music a more immediate, and ultimately more fulfilling, one.

Hit the jump for the scoop on the latest reissues from George McCrae and Johnnie Taylor! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 16, 2013 at 10:04