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Archive for January 22nd, 2013

Such Greater Heights: Sub Pop Reissues The Postal Service

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Postal ServiceIt was one chance group of collaborations between one of the most acclaimed indie-rock frontmen and a celebrated electronic producer – arguably both similar to and unlike anything either man had done before. And, bolstered by some unforgettable songs, it’s a collaboration from which the world anxiously awaits more.

Now, there is more – sort of: The Postal Service, the duo of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello, will expand and reissue their sole LP, Give Up, with a bonus disc of rare and unreleased material (including two new tracks) and commemorate their success with a tour.

After Gibbard contributed vocals to a song for Tamborello’s Dntel project, the pair decided to further their collaboration. Tamborello would create tunes in the studio and mail them to Gibbard, who would sing and edit the tracks and mail them back to Tamborello (hence, naturally, the name). The album charted in the lower half of Billboard‘s Top 200, but sold over a million copies – after Nirvana’s Bleach, it’s the most successful album put out by the Sub Pop label.

And what made the album such a smash? “Such Great Heights,” the lead single, never charted, but a myriad of soundtrack and commercial appearances (not to mention affectionate covers from Iron & Wine, Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Rilo Kiley and others) made the quirky, lovely tune impossible to ignore. By the time electronic act Owl City released the similar “Fireflies,” it was clear The Postal Service made an indelible mark on pop music.

For this 10th anniversary edition, the album will be appended by a bonus disc featuring seven non-LP tracks, including the new recordings “Turn Around” and “A Tattered Line of String,” six live cuts and remixes from original singles and two covers of key Postal Service songs by fellow indie darlings The Shins and Iron & Wine. It will also be available on triple vinyl.

Look for all versions in your local record shop on April 9 (a day earlier in the U.K., naturally). While we wait for pre-order links, hit the jump to get the full track list!

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 22, 2013 at 16:08

For Your Eyes Only: Edsel Plans Expanded Two-Fers of Sheena Easton’s Catalogue

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Sheena Twofer 1Edsel is expanding and reissuing four albums by Scottish pop star Sheena Easton as a pair of double-disc sets in February.

After the success of 1980’s insanely catchy “Morning Train (9 to 5),” Easton generally continued recording in the soft, synth-based pop vein in which she’d proven to work well. But sophomore You Could Have Been with Me, released by EMI in 1981, was most bolstered by two singles that didn’t appear on the album: “When He Shines” was a Top 20 hit in the U.K., and “For Your Eyes Only,” one of the best James Bond title themes of the ’80s, was a worldwide Top 10 hit. (Easton appeared in the film’s title sequence, lip synching to Bill Conti and Mick Leeson’s sensuous tune. Until last year’s smash theme to Skyfall as performed by Adele, it was also the last Bond song to garner an Oscar nomination.)

Third album Madness, Money and Music, released in 1982, was not chock full of hits – in the U.K., only “Machinery” dented the Top 40 – but ballad enthusiasts will appreciate one of the first major recordings of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” several years before Bette Midler and Beaches turned it into a smash.

After the jump (and a skipped album), Sheena shows off her wild side – and has some Stateside hits on her hands.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 22, 2013 at 14:33

Back Tracks: Adam Ant

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It’s the statement few in the Internet age expected to type: today, Adam Ant releases his first album in nearly 20 years. Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunnar’s Daughter (try saying that three times fast) features brand-new original compositions by Ant with longtime collaborators/guitarists Marco Pirroni and Boz Boorer, and is the first album on his new label, the eponymous Blueblack Hussar Records.

Adam AntEarly critical notes indicate an album that’s weird and urgent – fair descriptors of the best of Ant’s work. The man born Stuart Leslie Goddard in London back in 1954 has had a long, unpredictable and at times erratic career (all of which he’s been incredibly candid about as the years have gone on), but the five (now six) albums he’s released have been occasionally brilliant and always catchy. And fortunately for music geeks, there has been plenty of attention to his catalogue, so fans old and new have plenty to collect.

Goddard’s serious musical career began in November 1975, when, as bassist for the pub rock band Bazooka Joe, he watched in amazement a set by the band’s support act: The Sex Pistols. It was their first gig; so taken was Goddard that he soon quit his own band and pursued the punk sound. It was around the same time that, following a depressive episode that left him in the hospital with a pill overdose, Goddard declared himself “dead,” instead naming himself Adam Ant.

Forming a band with guitarist Matthew Ashman, bassist Andy Warren and drummer David Barbarossa, Adam and The Ants secured a management deal with iconic Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.

The rest, which is certainly history, is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 22, 2013 at 13:04

Reviews: Buck Owens, “Honky Tonk Man: Buck Sings Country Classics” and Don Rich, “Sings George Jones”

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Buck Owens - Honky Tonk Man coverWith its two latest releases, Omnivore Recordings continues its great Bakersfield rescue mission.  Texas-born and Arizona-raised, Buck Owens made his mark in that California city, answering the prevailing “countrypolitan” style with a return to a pure and unadorned honky-tonk sound.  But that “natural” sound had roots that ran deep in Bakersfield.  Yet Owens’ parallel career as the avuncular, perpetually joking co-host of television’s cornpone Hee Haw may have caused audiences to take his once-adventurous brand of music less seriously, a fact that reportedly wasn’t lost on Buck.  Owens eventually was recognized for his towering achievements (including nineteen No. 1 country singles between 1963 and 1969 alone) with berths in the Country Music and Rockabilly Halls of Fame, but he still doesn’t often receive the plaudits one might associate with an artist of his stature.  Omnivore has done all in its power to change that, having released numerous Owens titles including the delightful Buck Owens Coloring Book; the Buck Sings Eagles EP; and the Live at the White House album.  It’s rescuing the legend of Bakersfield country music with two new must-haves for any C&W connoisseur: Owens’ Honky Tonk Man: Buck Sings Country Classics (OVCD-52) and Don Rich Sings George Jones (OVCD-50).  Though packaged with Omnivore’s customary care and attention to detail in both design and annotation, what makes these releases remarkable is that none of the music on either disc has been previously issued.  Both discs add up to a true treasure trove.

Perhaps ironically, all of the songs on Honky Tonk Man have been derived from recordings made for Hee Haw.  Despite the show’s humorous “Laugh-In Goes Country” premise, Owens saw that its musical performances were always top-notch.  All musical tracks on the show were pre-recorded by his Buckaroos so that Owens could sing live over the band’s taped instrumentals for the broadcast.  He recorded “reference vocals” over these tracks, however, and those vocals would be removed when it came time to transfer the recordings for the TV track.  Yet the full voice-and-accompaniment recordings remained in Owens’ vault, making it possible for Omnivore to release them from the original multitracks.  And though these vocals weren’t intended for air, they’re evidence that Owens still gave it his all.

When selecting the music for Hee Haw, Owens frequently turned to the songbooks of contemporaries and inspirations.  And so Honky Tonk Man finds him tackling Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard, Hank Snow and John D. Loudermilk.  On these 1972 and 1973 sessions, vocalist/acoustic rhythm guitarist Owens was backed by The Buckaroos (Don Rich on electric guitar and fiddle, Buck’s son Buddy Alan Owens on acoustic guitar, Jerry Brightman on pedal steel, Ronnie Jackson on banjo, Jim Shaw on piano and organ, Doyle Curtsinger on bass and Jerry Wiggins on drums); Don Lee on electric guitar and Jana Jae on fiddle replaced the late Rich for a handful of songs from 1975.

After the jump: more on Buck, plus a look at the long-lost solo LP by Don Rich! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 22, 2013 at 11:34

Kritzerland’s Got the Action with “Butch and Sundance” and Vintage Dean Martin Comedy

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Butch and SundanceKritzerland has just announced its first releases for 2013, and these two rare soundtracks, both of which are making their CD debuts, couldn’t be more different: George Duning’s Who’s Got the Action? and Patrick Williams’ Butch and Sundance: The Early Days.

Almost ten years after the runaway success of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 20th Century Fox realized its hopes for a follow-up film with Butch and Sundance: The Early Days.  At the conclusion of the first film, though, raindrops weren’t just falling on the titular anti-heroes’ heads: Butch and Sundance were mowed down in a blaze of gunfire.  Hollywood’s solution, then, was to release a prequel film; in fact, some have suggested that Butch and Sundance was the first film to use the term “prequel.”  Director George Roy Hill didn’t return, and Richard Lester (A Hard Day’s Night, Robin and Marian) took the directorial reins.  Screenwriter William Goldman, who picked up an Oscar for his work on the original film, did return for the prequel as an executive producer and co-writer with Allan Burns (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant).  Joining Hill among the absent, however, was Burt Bacharach, who won two Oscars for his work on Butch Cassidy.  Burns enlisted frequent collaborator Patrick Williams to provide the score.  An accomplished composer and arranger, Williams’ credits included Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show, and the 1978 film Breaking Away, for which he received an Oscar nomination.  To fill the shoes of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, Tom Berenger and William Katt were enlisted.  Familiar faces like Peter Weller, John Schuck, Brian Dennehy and Christopher Lloyd rounded out the cast.  Williams wisely didn’t try to emulate Bacharach’s style for his score, but in the words of reissue producer Bruce Kimmel, he composed “an eclectic score – playful, beautiful, filled with adventure and bravado, tenderness, and gorgeous melodic themes. It works perfectly in the film, complementing the visuals, the comedy, and the drama, a real old-fashioned honest-to-goodness film score by a master composer.”

Williams recorded virtually all of his score for Butch and Sundance: The Early Days twice. Some cues remained exactly the same in both orchestration and writing, while others had slight variations in orchestration and timing.  Still other cues had very different musical material. Kritzerland’s expanded edition offers the entire score as used in the film (plus one unused cue), plus a bonus section.  The bonus tracks present the original versions of cues where they differed from the re-recorded cues.   Butch and Sundance: The Early Days is limited to 1,000 copies, and is set for release the last week of February, though pre-orders directly from the label usually arrive an average of four weeks’ early.

After the jump: Who’s Got the Action?  We’ve got the answer, plus track listings and pre-order links for both titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 22, 2013 at 09:54

Release Round-Up: Week of January 22

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Billy Joel - Love SongsBilly Joel, She’s Got a Way: Love Songs (Columbia/Legacy)

The romantic side of the Piano Man is featured on this new compilation. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Searching for Sugar Man Blu-RayRodriguez, Searching for Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

One of the most captivating catalogue music documentaries of 2012 is now available on DVD  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) and Blu-Ray (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)!

Blue Nile HatsThe Blue Nile, A Walk Across the Rooftops / Hats: Deluxe Editions (Virgin/EMI)

Slated for release in the U.K. late last year, these two double-disc expansions of The Blue Nile’s first two LPs, featuring many rare and unreleased recordings, are on the schedule today, as well. (A Walk Across the RooftopsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. – Hats: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Buck Owens - Honky TonkBuck Owens, Honky Tonk Man: Buck Sings Country Classics / Don Rich, Don Rich Sings George Jones (Omnivore)

Two never-before-released sets from two legends of Bakersfield are coming from Omnivore! (Buck Owens: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. – Don Rich: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Very Best of The PoguesThe Pogues, The Very Best of The Pogues (Shout! Factory)

A new Pogues compilation – according to the label, the only one in print in the U.S. right now. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Four Seasons - Gold Vault of HitsFrankie Valli and The 4 Seasons, Gold Vault of Hits 2nd Vault of Golden Hits (Rhino)

Two original 4 Seasons compilations, released by Philips in 1965 and 1966, work their way to CD from Rhino. (Gold VaultAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.2nd Vault: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Say Anything All My Friends Are EnemiesSay Anything, All My Friends Are Enemies: Early Rarities (Equal Vision)

A three-disc set featuring Max Bemis and his emo ensemble’s first self-released albums. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)