The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Culture Factory Reveals “Supreme” Slate with Motown, James Taylor, Robert Palmer and More [UPDATED]

with 27 comments

Supremes - Cream of the Crop Paper SleeveUPDATE: In the days since this article has been posted, Culture Factory has revised the street dates for all of the titles mentioned here.  See below for corrected information as of March 28, 2013.

ORIGINAL POST OF 3/25: Since its inaugural wave of releases in 2011, the Culture Factory label has carved out a niche in the catalogue field. Artists such as Robert Palmer, Hot Tuna, Paul Williams, Bob Welch, The Flamin’ Groovies, Sylvie Vartan, Rare Earth and The Motels are all among the recipients of the Culture Factory treatment. The label’s modus operandi finds the original album with no bonus tracks or additional liner notes packaged in a Japanese-style paper sleeves with an OBI strip. The CD label itself resembles black vinyl with period label art. All discs are remastered with 96 kHz/24-bit technology (although playback in that high resolution is not possible as these are standard “redbook”44/16 compact discs playable in all units). The next waves of releases from Culture Factory widen the label’s scope further, with campaigns dedicated to a classic singer-songwriter, some diverse and well-chosen rockers, and perhaps most tantalizingly, choice offerings from the “Sound of Young America.”

On April 30, Culture Factory will reissue two albums from West, Bruce and Laing, another two from Walter Egan, and a trio of titles from James Taylor.  Amped-up blues-rock was the order of the day when Jack Bruce of Cream joined forces with Leslie West and Corky Laing of Mountain to form a new power trio.  The union was short-lived but burned brightly; Clive Davis recalled fierce competition in signing the band to CBS/Columbia.  West, Bruce and Laing ultimately recorded just three albums (two in the studio, and one live) before disbanding, though Jack Bruce’s son Malcolm replaced his dad in a revised band line-up years later, in 2009.  WB&L’s second studio album, 1973’s Whatever Turns You On, and the 1974 live album/swansong Live ‘n’ Kickin’ have both been selected for the Culture Factory treatment.

1977’s Fundamental Roll and 1978’s Not Shy kicked off the career of singer-songwriter Walter EganNot Shy was co-produced by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Richard Dashut and yielded the gold-selling single “Magnet and Steel,” for which Egan is still best known today.  “Magnet and Steel” was, of course, inspired by Stevie Nicks.  She sang background vocals on the song, and had worked with Buckingham and Egan on Fundamental Roll.

James Taylor - JT Paper SleeveJames Taylor’s first three albums for Columbia round out Culture Factory’s April 30 slate.  1977’s JT was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy, and Taylor picked up the trophy for his sublime revival of Otis Blackwell and Jimmy Jones’ “Handy Man.”  Other highlights include the upbeat “Your Smiling Face” and reflective “Secret o’ Life.”  JT followed JT with 1979’s Flag, which included his two songs for the Broadway musical Working (“Millworker” and “Brother Trucker”) as well as covers of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” and Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Up on the Roof.”  The latter became a Top 30 U.S. hit and is still a signature song for Taylor.  1981’s Dad Loves His Work introduced the No. 1 Pop single duet with co-writer J.D. Souther, “Her Town, Too.”

After the jump: the lowdown on titles from Robert Palmer, the New York Dolls, Edgar Winter, .38 Special, and a certain Miss Ross!  Plus: pre-order links for all titles!

New York Dolls - Too Much CD FaceRoad Work, from multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter’s White Trash, arrived on Epic in 1973 as produced by Rick Derringer.  The second of only three albums recorded by the band, the sprawling double album includes among its highlights a 17-minute version of “Tobacco Road” and high-energy runs through “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” “Back in the U.S.A.” and “Turn on Your Love Light.”  Culture Factory’s reissue is due on December 3.  On May 21, two titles from different eras of the Robert Palmer catalogue are scheduled for reissue.  1974’s Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley featured support from Little Feat’s Lowell George as well as Allen Toussaint and The Meters.  Palmer’s eighth album, 1985’s Riptide, generated the No. 1 hit single “Addicted to Love” and earned the English singer-songwriter a Grammy Award.  Also on May 21, Culture Factory revisits The New York Dolls’ 1974 sophomore album, Too Much Too Soon from the scorching line-up of David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain, Johnny Thunders, Arthur “Killer” Kane and Jerry Nolan.

FM Soundtrack - Culture FactoryA surprise on the May 21 lineup is a new CD reissue of the FM soundtrack.  John A. Alonzo’s 1978 film starring Michael Brandon, Eileen Brennan, Alex Karras, Cleavon Little and Martin Mull revolved around the wild goings-on at a radio station taken over by its DJs.  Billed as “A Now Story with Now Music,” the Grammy-winning, Top 5-charting FM soundtrack included songs by a true rock “Who’s Who”: Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Joe Walsh, Linda Ronstadt, Bob Seger, The Steve Miller Band and others.  Then, on August 13, .38 Special’s second album, Special Delivery, is reissued.  As the last CD version of the A&M album is out-of-print and fetching high prices online, this is a particularly welcome reissue.

Supremes - A Go Go CD FaceLast but certainly not least, Culture Factory launches a series dedicated to Diana Ross, with and without The Supremes.  This July, seven classic Motown reissues will arrive.  Though there are no bona fide rarities (like a CD reissue of Diana Ross and the Supremes Sing and Perform ‘Funny Girl’!) a number of the titles are returning to print in the U.S. for the first time in many years.  1966’s I Hear a Symphony and Supremes a-Go Go are the earliest titles reissued; the former was released in 2012 as an expanded collector’s edition from Hip-o Select (now selling for over 200 bucks at Amazon!) while the latter has been available in import editions from Europe and Japan.  1967’s Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland, 1968’s Join the Temptations and Love Child, and 1969’s Cream of the Crop complete this (initial?) Supremes program.  From Diana Ross’ solo catalogue, Culture Factory has plucked 1979’s Ashford and Simpson-helmed The Boss and a considerably rarer title, 1977’s live double album An Evening with Diana Ross.  All titles hit stores on July 16!

All titles can be pre-ordered at the links below!  The prolific Culture Factory label has many more releases on track as 2013 unfolds, so stay tuned!

April 30

West, Bruce and Laing, Whatever Turns You On (Windfall/Columbia KC 32216, 1973)

West, Bruce and Laing, Live ‘n’ Kickin’ (Windfall/Columbia KC 32899, 1974)

Walter Egan, Fundamental Roll (Columbia PC 34679, 1977)

Walter Egan, Not Shy (Columbia PC 35077, 1978)

James Taylor, JT (Columbia JC 34811, 1977)

James Taylor, Flag (Columbia FC 35068, 1979)

James Taylor, Dad Loves His Work (Columbia TC 37009, 1981)

May 21

New York Dolls, Too Much Too Soon (Mercury SRM 1-1001, 1974)

Robert Palmer, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley (Island (U.S.) ILPS 9294, 1974)

Robert Palmer, Riptide (Island (U.S.) 90471-1, 1985)

Various Artists, FM: The Original Movie Soundtrack (MCA MCA2-12000, 1978)

July 16

Diana Ross, The Boss (Motown M8-923M1, 1979)

Diana Ross, An Evening with Diana Ross (Motown M7-877R2, 1977)

Diana Ross and the Supremes, Cream of the Crop (Motown MS 694, 1969)

Diana Ross and the Supremes, Love Child (Motown MS 670, 1968)

The Supremes, I Hear a Symphony (Motown MS 643, 1966)

Diana Ross and the Supremes, Join the Temptations (Motown MS 679, 1968)

The Supremes, Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland (Motown MS 650, 1966)

The Supremes, Supremes A Go-Go (Motown MS 649, 1966)

August 13

.38 Special, Special Delivery (A&M SP-3165, 1978)

December 3

Edgar Winter’s White Trash, Roadwork (Epic KEG 31249, 1972)

Written by Joe Marchese

March 28, 2013 at 13:04

27 Responses

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  1. Unfortunately, the sound quality of Culture Factory’s reissues so far have not been great, and most customer reviews on Amazon attest to this. I’ve kept one, Moon Martin’s “Escape From Domination”, but it sounds like it’s coming out of a transistor radio – maximized and very screechy.

    Kym

    March 25, 2013 at 10:39

    • Totally agree with Kym. I bought two of the Romantics reissues and could barely get through one (though, I love the music itself). Very loud and uncomfortable.

      Too bad, because these are all great titles.

      Tom

      March 25, 2013 at 12:33

    • The only Culture Factory CDs I have purchased so far have been the three recent Kim Carnes titles (Mistaken Identity, Voyeur and Cafe Racers) and they all sound great to me. Hopefully it was just the early reissues from the label that lacked decent sound quality. I am excited for most of these new releases. I hope the label goes for more and more, especially out of print titles. It would be nice if they would acknowledge e-mails.

      Zubb

      March 25, 2013 at 20:11

  2. This is my first time hearing of this company. If I could get one message to them: Please release these titles with a carefully balanced tone. No more screechy high-end and no more headachey bass, please. Also, downloadable high-resolution files at would be better than CD-quality.

    Christopher

    March 25, 2013 at 18:02

  3. Same with the Bob Welch “Three Hearts” release — too darn loud and distorted…….basically unlistenable…..wish I could get my money back…

    Rich Dudas

    March 25, 2013 at 20:35

  4. Perhaps Second Disc can get a hold of someone at the label to address the sound issues so many seem to be having with their CD releases. I’ve attempted to contact them a couple times regarding other matters and they don’t even bother to respond. You would think a relatively new label in a shrinking CD market would appreciate consumer interest more than they apparently do.

    Zubb

    March 25, 2013 at 22:15

  5. Culture Factory has a remastering section on their website. Read on:
    http://www.culturefactoryusa.com/component/content/article/8-information/6-remastering

    Kym

    March 26, 2013 at 01:17

    • That FAQ is hilarious. It reads like it was written by a high school student who just learned about sound reproduction. I particularly like “There is no need to use a high level of amplification, the disc is already encoded at a robust level. In general, it is also not necessary to adjust the playback settings for bass, midrange and treble. Rather, leave your equalization set to flat settings and, in particular, refrain from using a loudness filter. Our CDs are already configured with all that is necessary for the optimal listening experience.” In other words, we have maxed everything out already. Here’s an idea- Culture Factory should back off the EQ and allow the listeners (their customers) to set their own. After all the talk of loudness wars over the past decade it amazes me that people who are catering to music enthusiasts (the only people who still buy reissues of catalogue titles like this) just don’t get it.

      Jason Michael

      March 26, 2013 at 09:35

      • I sure hope they address these issues. I love what they are doing and want them to succeed.

        Zubb

        March 26, 2013 at 22:07

  6. I will be the first to admit that I enjoy my music loud and yes, compressed. I know that I’m in the minority, yet too much is simply too much. I own the Culture Factory reissues of The Motels’ back catalog, and the latter three albums are way too loud. “All Four One” and “Little Robbers” are the worst with harsh, unnatural, distorted sound. Their so-called mastering engineer has gone overboard and needs a reality check and a new set of ears. Note that the first two Motels albums (“The Motels” and “Careful”) do not suffer from the extreme loudness of the latter three. Did a different person remaster those efforts? I’m thinking yes.

    Jason

    March 26, 2013 at 15:19

    • Why would you like music compressed??? Do you even know what the term means?? Clearly you’ve not heard music properly recorded and played back on decent gear. That’s the craziest thing I’ve heard from anyone professing to love music.

      Drew

      May 18, 2013 at 07:57

  7. I have a copy of the Motels “Careful” disc and I like it fine. I’m interested in the “FM” soundtrack and, later in the year, “Thank God It’s Friday,” but hope they can get a handle on the extreme loudness issue between now and then.

    Dean

    March 28, 2013 at 13:27

    • Is Culture Factory putting out Thank God It’s Friday as well. That would be great. I wish they would also do the ST to American Hot Wax. For the matter, I wish someone would put out American Hot Wax on DVD!

      Zubb

      March 28, 2013 at 20:12

    • Same two I’m interested in! If the sound sucks, though, I’ll seek out the previous masterings on Amazon Marketplace. Not sure what they go for, but the prices should drop once these come out and the “Digitally Remastered” lemmings have at them.

      RoyalScam

      March 29, 2013 at 10:05

      • I got the “FM” soundtrack out of morbid curiosity, and boy does it sound AWFUL. There has been NO improvement in Culture Factory’s mastering whatsoever; it still sounds very loud and compressed to the nth degree. This is the worst you’ll ever hear Steely Dan on CD.

        And they had the gall to put the original LP credit of “Mastered by Gary Katz” on the CD labels. Gary Katz should sue because he would never put something out that sounds like THIS.

        Kym

        July 8, 2013 at 01:52

  8. The Ross titles are most perplexing. Culture Factory’s rollout is not only immediately following, but literally STEPPING on the recent SHM-CD remasters from Japan (the exact same titles to boot). And those THEMSELVES are just place-markers until we receive the 2-CD deluxe editions from UMGSelect later this year and 2014. If Culture factory really wanted to impress Ross-O-Philes, they would have licensed all the “concept” LP’s (A Bit Of Liverpool, The Supremes Sing Country, Western & Pop, We Remember Sam Cooke, Diana Ross & The Supremes Sing and Perform ‘Funny Girl’), the TV soundtracks (T.C.B., On Broadway) and the live albums (Live At London’s Talk Of The Town and FAREWELL). UMGSelect won’t be getting to these for some time while they concentrate on the core pop albums in the Supremes’ discography, and Culture Factory could have had that whole niche to themselves and avoid duplication in the marketplace.

    The Rock Snob

    March 28, 2013 at 20:58

  9. I’ve been waiting for a remaster of the Edgar Winter for years. Roadwork is one of the finest live albums ever. I had hoped for an expanded version on Legacy, but gave up that dream long ago. Hope they do it justice. I’ll be reading reviews before I leap on this.

    Mark Bumgardner

    March 28, 2013 at 21:49

  10. A co-worker recently picked up the Rare Earth reissues on Culture Factory and he is very happy with them.

    Zubb

    March 28, 2013 at 22:11

  11. I have all the Quicksilver titles, and they’re just fine.

    The Rock Snob

    March 28, 2013 at 22:13

  12. Where is Robert Palmer’s “Pressure Drop”?

    zekedog

    March 29, 2013 at 13:09

  13. My colleagues and I at Culture Factory USA were pleased to read Joe Marchese’s article highlighting our expanding schedule of upcoming releases that will all be available from our website directly or Amazon.
    But I am concerned by the comments from readers who were disappointed in the sound of some CDs and I want to say that we take great care to remaster the audio with state of the art equipment. We strive to achieve an authentic sound with highest fidelity to the original studio masters and to do this we use the least amount of compression possible. For best results, we recommend that listeners at first try setting their playback equipment with flat equalization, tone controls at neutral settings. At the same time we recognize that the way music sounds is essentially a matter of personal taste, as can be seen by the varying opinions posted. In fact several of the artists whose work we reissued tell us their albums never sounded better. We are continuing to refine our remastering and are mindful of the benefit of not overamping the loudness of the finished CDs. I hope you’ll enjoy the results on our upcoming releases.

    Rory

    April 21, 2013 at 10:41

    • No. Brickwalled is NOT good. (And if you don’t know what the term is you shouldn’t be in the business you’re in. ) There are compressed files available all over the internet for people who want them (iPod/earbud people). Anyone with good audio gear appreciates the dynamics that brickwalling eliminates. I get so tired of hearing the crap that gets passed off for “remastering” these days. If you want to hear what quality music engineering SHOULD sound like listen to Jim Anderson’s work for Patricia Barber. Listen to Rudy Van Gelder’s work.

      Drew

      May 17, 2013 at 18:54

      • Honestly, you don’t even need good or high-end gear to hear how awful these Culture Factory reissues sound.

        Kym

        July 8, 2013 at 01:54

  14. Worst mastering I have ever heard in my life on the titles I purchased. I feel cheated. So disappointing. Zero dynamics, digital clipping, top end so high my ears actually rang after listening to Moon Martin. The Motels, Mink Deville etc. all the same. It’s so disappointing because the title choices are superb. They should listen to the mastering on MFSL tiltles to understand how it could be done so it actually sounds like music.
    Why put anything on CD in 2013 if one isn’t going to utilize the full benefits of the technology. Might as well be MP3s.

    Art Rambo

    May 17, 2013 at 16:23

  15. I just bought Culture Factory’s audiophile reissue CD of Johnny and Edgar Winter Together Live recorded in 1976. The sound is awesome, full, and really F’ing rocks. I have a very high end sound system that would blow the roof off Madison Square Garden and this disc sounds amazing. I’m very very happy with Culture Factory. I haven’t listened to their other titles, but this one is killer good. Some of the previous complaints seem to be from “whiners” that drink white zinfandel. I’m considering buying Culture Factory’s Iggy Pop releases, Quicksilver, and Edgar Winter’s White Trash “Roadwork” if that one becomes available.

    Jim P

    October 10, 2014 at 09:21

  16. I’ll also add that Rory and his Culture Factory staff are really nice folks, and are a pleasure to do business with. I’m not a shill in the least. I’m the first to slam a lousy product, restaurant, or hotel, but these CDs are very high fidelity and quality, Culture Factory delivers quickly, and they’re conscientious about service.I bought the Johnny & Edgar Winter Together Live disc on EBAY. Count me as a fan and 2 thumbs way up.

    Jim P

    October 10, 2014 at 09:31

  17. I compared the Culture Factory version of Surrealistic Pillow with the 2003 BMG version (the first 11 tracks) using the Foobar Dynamic Range Meter plugin and got a dynamic range of 6 vs.11.
    Conclusion: brickwalled by Culture Factory.

    Roelof

    December 3, 2014 at 13:11


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