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Archive for April 29th, 2013

U.K. Indie Pop Act The Primitives to Reissue Debut Album for 25th Anniversary

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Primitives lovelyIf you don’t slow down, you’re gonna crash into the news that Cherry Red is expanding The Primitives’ debut LP for its 25th anniversary.

Formed in the British city of Coventry, the indie pop group earned a following through several singles on their own Lazy Records imprint before signing to RCA for Lovely, their first studio LP. The band (at the time consisting of Paul Court on guitar, Steve Dullaghan on bass, Tig Williams on drums and vocalist Tracy Cattell – known as “Tracy Tracy”) combined the guitar-based sensibilities of other indie acts like The Jesus & Mary Chain and Primal Scream, while adding a distinct audiovisual flair thanks to Cattell’s distinctive vocals and bottle-blonde hairstyle. (Alongside U.K. acts Transvision Vamp and The Darling Buds, they were briefly credited with kickstarting the niche indie subgenre of “blonde pop.”)

Lazy became a hit thanks to the catchy lead single “Crash,” a Top 10 hit in the band’s native country and a No. 3 Modern Rock hit in America. (Years later, it was remixed and featured prominently on the soundtrack for the Jim Carrey-Jeff Daniels comedy Dumb & Dumber.) Much of the rest of the album features re-recorded versions of songs the band had previously released as singles.

Cherry Red’s new edition of Lovely, to be released in the U.K. on June 10, features a bonus disc full of single-only material. The band, which split in 1992 but reunited in 2009 after the death of Dullaghan, will tour Europe starting with dates in Spain next month. In September, the band will perform several U.K. dates specifically for the 25th anniversary of Lovely, featuring guest DJ sets by Mike Joyce, former drummer of The Smiths.

This release also calls to attention a new compilation of the band’s early indie material which was released by Cherry Red earlier this spring. You can read more about that title after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 29, 2013 at 17:52

Posted in Compilations, News, Reissues

Stage and Screen Bonanza: “World of Suzie Wong,” “Elephant Steps” and Gene Kelly’s “Clownaround” Coming Soon

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Elephant StepsMore treats are on the way for fans and collectors of rare cast albums and film soundtracks thanks to the ongoing work of the Masterworks Broadway and Kritzerland labels.

As part of its ongoing digital/CD-on-demand program, Masterworks is offering two of the most unexpected cast recordings from the label’s considerable library.  On May 7, Stanley Silverman and Richard Foreman’s Elephant Steps: A Fearful Radio Show makes its digital/CD(-R) debut, while on June 4, Moose Charlap and Alvin Cooperman’s Clownaround also receives its first-ever reissue.

Elephant Steps, from composer Stanley Silverman and lyricist/librettist/director Richard Foreman, was first produced at the Tanglewood music festival in 1968, the same year avant-garde pioneer Foreman founded his Ontological-Hysteric Theater.  Billed as “Multi-Media Pop-Opera Extravaganza with Pop Singers, Opera Singers, Orchestra, Rock Band, Electronic Tape, Raga Group, Tape Recorder, Gypsy Ensemble, and Elephants all under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas,” Elephant Steps told the tale of Hartman.  The liner notes to the original LP release described it as follows: “Hartman is looking for enlightenment. He has a mysterious guru by the name of Reinhardt. The reactionary factions keep warning him to stop seeing Reinhardt, but Hartman persists. After visiting Nighttown, and then being abducted and grilled in a radio station, where he dreams of returning to his childhood, he finally climbs a ladder, looks in the window of Reinhardt’s house, and what he sees brings him illumination.”

The production was well-received upon its debut.  It was Foreman’s first major directing experience (“except my little play at the Cinematheque,” he once wrote) as well as Tilson Thomas’ first time at the podium.   Time opined that it “sounded like a giant radio with its dials spinning crazily…. It had a cohesive rhythm of its own and succeeded in gripping the attention of the Tanglewood audience through its sheer theatrical flair.” New York pronounced it “The best piece of new music I’ve heard in concert all year.”

Paul Simon was among the music-theatre piece’s fans.  Simon had taken guitar lessons from Stanley Silverman (with whom he would work many years later on his own musical, The Capeman) and Foreman recalled the singer-songwriter asking him, “Richard, if all your dreams came true, what would happen with Elephant Steps?”  Simon apparently lost interest after receiving Foreman’s reply, which the director deemed “pretentious” in retrospect: “There are three or four people in New York whose opinions I really respect.  If those people liked it, that would be enough for me.”  Foreman added somewhat ruefully when writing of the conversation, “If I’d said ‘I think this could be as big as The Beatles,’ we probably would have had a major production on Broadway.”

The psychedelic, mixed-means theatre of Elephant Steps – blending “sound and light, language and music, images and movement, graphics and films, incense and machinery, props and performers” – finally made it to New York in 1970, albeit not on Broadway.  Foreman and Silverman went on to collaborate on numerous occasions, and of course, Tilson Thomas went on to further conducting triumphs.  Actress Marilyn Sokol and chorus member Patti Austin both also achieved fame.  The Columbia Records 1974 cast recording of Elephant Steps – with orchestrations by Harold Wheeler of Dreamgirls and Dancing with the Stars fame – will be released exclusively for purchase via on May 7 in a limited quantity of physical CD-Rs as well as digital download.  The CD will be available via Manufacture-On-Demand through Arkiv Music on June 4th, and downloads through digital service providers will be made available at that time, too.

After the jump: details on Clownaround and The World of Suzie Wong! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 29, 2013 at 15:32

Big Break Watch: Shalamar, Isley Brothers Lead Recent Reissue Slate

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Shalamar Friends 2CDA host of ’80s R&B titles are out in the U.K. this week from Cherry Red’s Big Break offshoot. They include a double-disc expansion of one of Shalamar’s best-loved albums, plus expanded editions of a few LPs by the likes of The Isley Brothers, The Gap Band and Billy Paul.

While 1982 was the year of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, U.K. R&B enthusiasts also count another album as influential to the genre that year: Shalamar’s Friends. After a string of hits around the world for the trio comprised of Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel and Howard Hewitt, Friends was their most successful album in England, owing to a seminal performance on Top of the Pops where Daniel demonstrated popping, locking and even (a year before Jackson did it on American television) moonwalking. “A Night to Remember,” “There It Is” and “I Can Make You Feel Good” were all Top 10 hits, with the title track peaking at No. 12. Daniel and Watley left the group after 1983’s The Look (with Watley enjoying worldwide solo success in the late ’80s, and Daniel working with Jackson in choreographing several music videos for singles from Bad in 1987 and 1988), making this one of the last and most iconic examples of the “classic” lineup of this revered trio.

The deluxe Friends includes three “outtakes” from the Friends era that were released on 1981’s Go for It album (a quickly-released LP from the band’s label, Solar Records’, transition from major-label distributors), as well as a bonus disc of single edits and remixes. A deluxe liner notes booklet features a new interview with Watley, adding insight into the era of Shalamar as U.K. hitmakers.

And what else is being released by BBR today? Hit the jump to find out!

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 29, 2013 at 13:34

Sophisticated Lady: Phyllis Hyman’s Arista Debut Is Expanded By SoulMusic Label

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Phyllis Hyman - SomewhereWhen Phyllis Hyman took her own life on June 30, 1995, one of the most potent, poignant voices in soul music was silenced.  A singer as well as a Tony Award-nominated actress, Hyman did leave behind a small but important discography of eight studio albums, which has since been bolstered by posthumous releases.  Indeed, it’s understandable why “new” recordings from the expressive vocalist are so sought after.  While the native Philadelphian never had a commercial pop breakthrough, notching far more successes on the R&B charts, she could inimitably make both pain and pleasure real with her effortless delivery and crystalline tone.  SoulMusic Records, an imprint of the Cherry Red Group, has recently reissued Hyman’s 1979 Arista Records debut Somewhere in My Lifetime in an expanded edition that retains the two bonus tracks included on U.S. label Reel Music’s previous reissue, and adds three more.

Hyman wasn’t thrilled, to say the least, when Clive Davis’ Arista label purchased her contract from the foundering Buddah Records.  She was a big fish in the small pond of Buddah, where she had released two albums to little fanfare.  From the start, Hyman was right at home in the emerging Quiet Storm format, but also deftly traversed the dance and jazz realms, too.  The first of her Buddah efforts, Phyllis Hyman, featured her rendition of Thom Bell and Linda Creed’s “I Don’t Want to Lose You,” as well as Thom and Leroy Bell’s “Loving You – Losing You.”  Her affinity with the Philadelphia soul pioneer’s music was evident as early as 1976 when she made her first major splash as vocalist on Norman Connors’ version of Bell and Creed’s “Betcha by Golly Wow.”  Bell would later produce Hyman at both Arista and Philadelphia International as well as on his soundtrack to The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.  Her sophomore Buddah LP, Sing a Song, only saw U.K. release, and Clive Davis saw it as the perfect entrée for Hyman onto his U.S. label roster – with a few changes.

Davis retooled Sing a Song’s original production by Skip Scarborough and [Hyman’s then-husband] Larry Alexander, dropping three of their tracks from the album and adding four new ones.  Three of the four were produced by T. Life, fresh off his successes with Evelyn “Champagne” King, and the fourth was the work of a hitmaking team with close ties to Arista: Barry Manilow and Ron Dante.   Taking its cue from the Jesus Alvarez ballad produced by Manilow and Dante, the album was retitled Somewhere in My Lifetime.

After the jump, we have more details, a full track listing and order link for the expanded Somewhere in My Lifetime! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 29, 2013 at 10:09