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Archive for June 3rd, 2013

What’s It All About: Burt Bacharach Celebrated On PBS, Lost Song Included on “Dionne Warwick Sings Burt Bacharach”

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Dionne Sings Burt CDThe first voice you’ll hear on My Music: Burt Bacharach’s Best, now airing on PBS stations nationwide, is that of The Maestro himself.  “What’s it all about, Alfie?,” he sings in his familiar, quavering tone, finding the fragility in the Hal David lyric that he calls his favorite.  Then comes “What the World Needs Now is Love,” sung by its composer with an assist from that International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers (Mike Myers).  It’s appropriate that the solo Bacharach introduces this first-ever collection of complete archival performances drawn from the heyday of his still-thriving career.  He’s soon joined by a “Who’s Who” of popular music including Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, The Carpenters, The 5th Dimension, Tom Jones, Christopher Cross and Chuck Jackson.  Hosted by Robert Wagner, the program is a fascinating, and long-overdue, video jukebox tribute to the songwriter.  As is customary for such broadcasts, it’s available to supporters of PBS as a DVD with additional footage, but the team at TJL Productions has sweetened the deal.  Burt Bacharach’s Best is available along with Dionne Warwick Sings Burt Bacharach, a new, 25-track CD culled from some of the duo’s best – and not just the oft-anthologized hits.  This disc presents, for the first time anywhere, one of the three “reunion” recordings made by Bacharach and Warwick in 1974, “And Then You Know What He Did.”  Like the special itself, it’s been worth the wait.

Bacharach’s music has always been most closely associated with female singers, and the composer was lucky enough to have provided material for the crème de la crème.  My Music: Burt Bacharach’s Best, which draws entirely on rare, vintage footage from numerous television specials as well as programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Merv Griffin Show, turns over a number of slots to Bacharach’s most frequent muse, Dionne Warwick.  A lithe, cool Dionne participates in a production number dedicated to “Walk On By,” joining with its undulating dancers for one memorable sequence.  Her subtlety, grace and control come across on “Alfie” and “This Girl’s In Love with You,” and she also joins Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight for the show-closing “That’s What Friends Are For.”  But Dionne’s most tantalizing appearance on My Music is via footage of a recording session in which she and Hal David join Bacharach at the piano to rehearse “I Say a Little Prayer.”  The excerpts here of the color film are fascinating, and leave the audience wanting more of this “insider” peek.  (In modern interview footage seen on the broadcast, Warwick touchingly reflects on the resonance of “I Say a Little Prayer” to Vietnam-era vets and their families.)

Burt Bacharach's Best DVDDionne is in good company with the divine Dusty Springfield.  Dusty wanders through giant a set of giant photographs of herself (and her ever-evolving hairstyles!) as she sings “The Look of Love,” but even better is the intense rendition of “A House is Not a Home” she performs with Bacharach accompanying on piano.  Though famously critical of her own work, Springfield reportedly was “quite proud of” this performance from 1970’s Another Evening with Burt Bacharach…and with good reason.  The song builds to an emotional crescendo with both Springfield and Bacharach giving their all.  Marilyn McCoo is seen in a clip leading the original 5th Dimension on the melancholy “One Less Bell to Answer,” offering soulful new vocals over the familiar backing track, and Jackie DeShannon is enthralling in stark black-and-white on “What the World Needs Now is Love.”  Both McCoo and DeShannon can also be seen on the broadcast’s pledge breaks sharing their modern-day impressions of Bacharach and music.

Of course, the most famous male interpreters of the Bacharach oeuvre don’t get the short shrift.  Tom Jones playfully gyrates his way through “What’s New Pussycat,” and Chuck Jackson lathers on the soul for Bacharach and Bob Hilliard’s “Any Day Now,” joined by the composer.  (It should be noted that some of these television performances are lip-synched to the original recordings, as was standard practice of the era, but a great many from Dionne, Dusty, Jackie, et. al. are unique, and quite wonderful.)  In one memorable clip, B.J. Thomas tries to prove that “nothin’s worryin’ me” as more than mere “Raindrops Keep Falling on [His] Head.”  B.J. is surrounded by dancers with umbrellas as he sings through a rainstorm created on the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show!  He offers warm words for Bacharach in a new segment.  Herb Alpert’s seminal and heartfelt “This Guy’s in Love with You,” Bacharach and David’s first No. 1 Pop song as well as the first for Alpert’s A&M label, is much more subdued.  Christopher Cross performs his Academy Award-winning “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” live with its co-writers Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager joining him and clearly having a good time.

After the jump: what’s on Dionne Warwick Sings Burt Bacharach?  We have a full track listing and much more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 3, 2013 at 12:49

Review: Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, “Playlist: The Very Best Of”

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Southside Johnny PlaylistWhen Bruce Springsteen gave the green light to officially release his 1973 recording of “The Fever” on 1999’s 18 Tracks, The Boss’ decision was rightfully greeted with acclaim.  But many of us Jersey boys were in on a secret: Bruce wrote it, but “The Fever” belonged to Southside Johnny Lyon and his Asbury Jukes.  Springsteen’s torrid evocation of a burning blue-collar romance, as produced by “Miami” Steve Van Zandt, was the centerpiece of the band’s 1976 Epic Records debut I Don’t Want to Go Home.  And it’s one of fourteen freshly remastered slabs of red-hot R&B – both live and in the studio – on Playlist: The Very Best of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (Epic/Legacy 88765 48611 2, 2013).

“The Fever” – with its unforgettable bass vocals from a pseudonymous Clarence Clemons – is one of three tracks from I Don’t Want to Go Home on the new anthology.  Playlist focuses just a single five-year period of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes’ long career, but during those years of 1976-1981, it was entirely possible that the Jersey shore was the epicenter of pure rock and roll.  And the sound of the Jersey shore was, in large part, the sound of the Jukes as fully formed on I Don’t Want to Go Home, the first of three landmark Epic albums.  It was an exultant open invitation to a bar that never closes, with Lyon (vocals/harmonica), Kenny “Popeye” Pentifallo (drums/vocals), Kevin Kavanaugh (keyboards/vocals), Billy Rush (guitar), Alan Berger (bass), Carlo Novi (tenor saxophone), the future Little Steven (guitars/vocals) and The Miami Horns providing the blood, sweat and tears.  (The Jukes’ lineup would be fluid on the albums represented in this set with innumerable guest musicians and singers popping in.)

The band’s spirit was epitomized in the opening lines of that LP’s title track written by Van Zandt and reprised here: “Oh I know that it’s getting late, but I don’t want to go home/I’m in no hurry, baby, time can wait/’Cos I don’t want to go home/Listen to the man sing his song/But I don’t want to go home/I don’t mind if they take all night long/’Cos I don’t want to go home!”  Southside’s whiskey-soaked rasp instantly conjures up the time and place.  In the year of Born to Run, Lyon, Springsteen, Van Zandt, engineer Jimmy Iovine and co. were synthesizing Stax horns, Drifters strings, Four Seasons pathos, and The Rascals’ blue-eyed soul into a vibrant style that either transcended the familiar tag of “bar band” or significantly raised the, um, bar for all of the other such groups out there!

There’s more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 3, 2013 at 10:36

Resistance is Futile: Iconic “Star Trek: TNG” Episode Gets Expanded Score Release

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“I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life, as it has been, is over. From this time forward, you will service us.”

Fewer words sent a chill down the spine of millions of Trekkies on the night of June 18, 1990, toward the conclusion of “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I,” the third season finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Not since James T. Kirk engaged Khan Noonien Singh in the Mutara Nebula in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan had a crew of the USS Enterprise engaged in such high-stakes warfare – and the result was not only one of the finest moments in Trek history, but in all of television.

“The Best of Both Worlds” found Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and crew face to face with the fearsome alien race known as The Borg. Singularly focused on conquering Earth and forcing it into its own collectivist image, the season-ending cliffhanger climaxed with Picard, fully overtaken by The Borg, announcing his intentions to assimilate his own crew, to which first officer Lt. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) delivers an equally chilling reply: “Mr. Worf, fire.”

Of course, Picard would break free of The Borg’s bonds when the fourth season commenced, and the TNG-era crew enjoyed a total of seven seasons and four films as the dominant faces of Trek. But it would be hard to escape the image of Picard as Locutus; the ordeal had great repercussions throughout the series’ history, both in Trek canon and in real life. “The Best of Both Worlds” earned two Emmy Awards and was named among the 100 greatest television episodes and 100 greatest television moments by TV Guide. Upon the recent Blu-Ray release of TNG‘s third season, the two-part episode was even remastered, re-edited and released as a limited theatrical feature.

TNG Best of Both Worlds ExpandedWith Star Trek still a hot property in pop culture (J.J. Abrams’ second film in the series, Star Trek Into Darkness, opened in theatres several weeks ago), it’s a pleasure to see that Ron Jones’ captivating score to “The Best of Both Worlds” is being newly remastered and expanded on CD by GNP Crescendo Records. Long associated with Trek soundtracks, GNP’s license of the soundtrack to the episode (the second-ever release of TNG music on CD more than 20 years ago) meant its exclusion from even Film Score Monthly’s exhaustive box set of TNG music, or La-La Land’s follow-up four-disc anthology.

But the label, long thought dormant by most Trekkies, has come back in a big way, expanding the series’ film scores it still maintains the rights to, and has now added an expanded “Best of Both Worlds” soundtrack disc to its catalogue. All the episode’s music is included in remastered form, including several short but pivotal cues arriving to CD for the first time. The package is also augmented with a 16-page booklet of liner notes detailing the episode’s production and scoring, newly written by Film Score Monthly founder Lukas Kendall and writer John Takis.

The score to “The Best of Both Worlds” is now available to order from GNP; links and track details are below.

Ron Jones, Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds Part I & II: Original Television Soundtrack (Expanded Edition) (originally released as GNP Crescendo GNPD-8026, 1991 – reissued GNP Crescendo GNPD-8083, 2013)

  1. Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
  2. New Providence
  3. Not Ready/Job Grabber/Early Worm/No Doubt *
  4. Preparations/What Do You Want?/Fatigue/Hansen’s Message **
  5. Borg Engaged
  6. First Attack/Looks/Tell It Like It Is **
  7. Contemplations *
  8. Borg Take Picard/Death is Irrelevant/His Place **
  9. Away Team Ready/On The Borg Ship/Nodes
  10. Captain Borg
  11. Energy Weapon Fails
  12. Repairs/Humanity Taken **
  13. Contact Lost
  14. Repairs Complete/Cemetery of Dead Ships *
  15. Currents *
  16. Intervention
  17. Sitting Ducks/Borg Reach Saturn *
  18. The Link
  19. Sleep Command/Destruct Mode/Picard is Back **
  20. Picard’s Nightmare
  21. Star Trek: The Next Generation End Title (3rd Season – Long Version)

* indicates previously unreleased track. ** indicates track with previously unreleased material.
Tracks 1-10 from Part I. Tracks 11-21 from Part II.
Track 1 contains “Theme from Star Trek: The Original Series” written by Alexander Courage
Tracks 1 and 21 contains “Theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture” written by Jerry Goldsmith.

Written by Mike Duquette

June 3, 2013 at 09:49

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks