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Archive for May 7th, 2013

Everything’s Inwards: “Big Country At The BBC” Box Announced

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Big Country At The BBCThree decades after their signature hit “In a Big Country” became one of the best rock songs of the decade, Mercury will celebrate the legacy of the Scottish band with a new live box set this summer.

Big Country At The BBC is a 3CD/1DVD box collecting just about everything the BBC recorded pertaining to Big Country between 1982 and 1990. Included are two Radio 1 sessions with Kid Jensen and John Peel in 1982 and 1983 as well as live dates from 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1989, from Hammersmith Palais to the Soviet embassy in London. A DVD collects various performances for Top of the PopsThe Old Grey Whistle TestOxford Road Show and others, including a host of live material and a rare interview with the band conducted by Richard Jobson, who was bandmates with late Big Country frontman Stuart Adamson in the Scottish punk outfit The Skids (the pair wrote one of their signature songs, “The Saints Are Coming.”)

The set comes in an oversize box with a 32-page hardback book featuring liner notes by author Tim Barr and rare photos. An exclusive poster and postcard set also appears in the box for collectors to enjoy.

Big Country At The BBC is announced as the band – fronted by Mike Peters of The Alarm since 2010 – release The Journey, their first new LP in 14 years. It’s out either June 24 (per Amazon U.K.) or July 29 (per Universal Music’s site).

An annotated track list and pre-order link is after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 7, 2013 at 16:07

Posted in Big Country, Box Sets, News

Real Gone’s Duos, Reviewed: Tom Jans and Mimi Fariña, Chet Atkins and Les Paul, Barbara and Ernie

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Tom JansReal Gone Music has recently released three very different albums from three duo acts, and we’re looking at each one of them!

Tom Jans is perhaps best known today as the songwriter of “Loving Arms,” so memorably recorded by Elvis Presley in 1973 and also cut by everyone from Etta James to Kenny Rogers.  But in his tragically short lifetime – he died in 1984, aged 35 or 36 depending on the source – Jans also recorded five albums as a singer-songwriter.  His first two, including an album of duets with Mimi Fariña, have been reissued on one CD by Real Gone (RGM-0132).

Jeffrey Shurtleff introduced Jans to Joan Baez, who in turn introduced Jans to her younger sister Fariña.  Mimi was seeking a return to music after her second failed marriage; her first, to Richard Fariña with whom she had recorded a series of folk LPs, ended when he perished in a motorcycle accident.  Jans was an ideal collaborator, and their harmonious blend earned them a following in and around the Bay Area.  They toured with Cat Stevens and James Taylor before signing to A&M for 1971’s Take Heart, the first of the two albums on Real Gone’s new CD.

For their album debut, Jans and Fariña enlisted three-fourths of the famed Section of L.A. musicians: Craig Doerge on piano, Leland Sklar on electric bass and Russ Kunkel on drums.  Another session pro, Jim Keltner, filled Kunkel’s chair on some tracks; “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow also contributed pedal steel to one track.  The album crafted by this core band under the aegis of “the other” Michael Jackson as producer is a tender, soft, folk-style affair, anchored by Jans and Fariña’s tight harmonies and acoustic guitars.  Every song was written by Jans, Fariña, or the two artists in tandem, save one.

The album opens with the lyric “Carolina’s on my mind,” except in Jans’ song “Carolina,” the title refers to a woman, not a state (or a state of mind).  It’s just the first of the character studies on Take Heart.  On “Charlotte,” Fariña’s pure, crystalline voice, so reminiscent of her sister Joan Baez’s, is enhanced by Edgar Lustgarten’s cello for a story of a girl who’d “like to see her sister take a fall, up, up on a stage, where the whole world could see.”  If any parallels – intentional or otherwise – bothered Baez, she didn’t let on, and supported her sister by recording the album’s “In the Quiet Morning” for her own A&M album.  Mimi’s song was a eulogy for Janis Joplin (“That poor girl, she cried out her song so loud/It was heard the whole world ‘round…”), but it wasn’t the only tribute to fallen friends.  Mimi also wrote “Reach Out,” subtitled “For Chris Ross,” who was “so lonesome that he died.”  She tempers the song with the encouraging chorus: “Reach out, make a little contact/Reach out, send a little love!/You may think this life is trying, but this is it, so do the best with it/’Cause for now, it’s all you’ve got…”  The country-flecked “Letter to Jesus” shows off the duo’s gorgeous vocal blend at its most lovely, while “After the Sugar Harvest” features just their shimmering acoustic guitars.  Clearly both Jans and Fariña enjoyed the sound of country duos; the album’s lone cover is Buck Owens’ “The Great White Horse,” which Owens sang with Susan Raye.

After the jump: more on Tom Jans, plus reviews of Chet Atkins and Les Paul, and the jazz-pop-R&B team of Barbara (Massey) and Ernie (Calabria)! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 7, 2013 at 14:46

Don’t Make Him Over: New Box Set Chronicles Burt Bacharach’s “Art of the Songwriter” On Six CDs

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Burt - Anyone Who Had a HeartBurt Bacharach has been speaking through his music for the past 60+ years, since his very first recorded composition,“Once in a Blue Moon,“ appeared on Nat “King“ Cole’s Penthouse Serenade in 1952.  But today, Bacharach is speaking in his own voice with the publication of his first-ever memoir, Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music.  Co-written by Robert Greenfield (Ahmet Ertegun biography The Last Sultan), the book has been described by Kirkus Reviews as “illuminating and gritty“ while Mitchell Cohen in Rock’s Back Pages praised its “tales of multiple takes, artists bravely attempting to navigate those whiplash changes and hat-size tempos.“  (The latter refers to Frank Sinatra’s quip of Bacharach, “He writes in hat sizes – seven and three-fourths!“)

With the book’s release today, it might come as a surprise that no new anthology of Bacharach’s music has been released as a tie-in.  Yet.  Universal U.K. has planned such a title, but it’s not scheduled to be released until June 10, to coincide with the British publication of the autobiography.  Anyone Who Had a Heart: The Best of Burt Bacharach – The Art of the Songwriter is a 6-CD box set (twice the number of discs as Rhino’s definitive The Look of Love – The Burt Bacharach Collection from 1998).  The first four CDs trace Bacharach’s career in a roughly chronological fashion, from 1955’s “These Desperate Hours,“ performed by Mel Torme, to 2010’s  “Some Lovers,“ sung by Rumer from the 2011 musical of the same name.  The fifth CD compiles highlights from Bacharach’s solo recording career (already addressed in full on Hip-o Select’s Something Big box set) and the sixth offers an eclectic array of Bacharach songs as performed mainly by jazz artists.

Here’s where the plot thickens: the set will also be offered as a standard 2-CD edition, but the U.S. and U.K. versions appear to differ significantly, with both 2-CD versions including unique tracks not on the box set (and not on each other).  The U.S. release arrives a bit earlier, on May 28.

After the jump: we take a closer look, plus you’ll find track listings for all three versions, plus pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 7, 2013 at 10:04

Release Round-Up: Week of May 7

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HearsayTABU Reborn, Wave 3: The S.O.S. Band, S.O.S. / Cherrelle, High Priority / Alexander O’Neal, Hearsay / Kathy Mathis, Katt Walk (Tabu/Edsel)

The latest wave of Tabu reissues available from the U.K.: all have bonus tracks, with Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neal’s sets presented as two-disc packages. Amazon U.K. links are above; here are U.S. links for The S.O.S. Band, Cherrelle, Alexander O’Neal and Kathy Mathis.

Burt - Anyone Who Had a Heart bookBurt Bacharach, Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music (Harper)

One of the century’s greatest songwriters tells his incredible story, in his own words! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Varese 35Various Artists, Varese Sarabande: 35th Anniversary Celebration (Varese Sarabande)

A four-disc compilation highlighting the last five years of soundtracks the esteemed score label has released. And check out that amazing gala performance they’re hosting this weekend! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Show Boat 1959Show Boat: 1959 Studio Cast Recording (Varese Sarabande)

Dame Shirley Bassey shines in this recording of the acclaimed Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II musical. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

There Are But Four Small FacesSmall Faces, There Are But Four Small Faces (Varese)

The band’s first American album, originally released on Immediate Records, gets its first ever unaltered CD release with some bonus stereo remixes. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

38 Special - Special Delivery.38 Special, Special Delivery (Culture Factory)

A straggler from last week’s Culture Factory batch, this is the long out-of-print second album from 1978 by .38 Special.