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Archive for July 2013

Geldof Goes “Back to Boomtown” with New Compilation

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Back to BoomtownBefore millions of children of the ’80s knew Bob Geldof as the Irishman behind a wave of international charitable rock, including Band Aid and Live Aid, he made a name for his home country as a hub for rock with the punky band, The Boomtown Rats. More than 25 years after their last performance, The Boomtown Rats are reforming for a new album and tour – and they’re starting things off with a new compilation in September.

Led by the irascible, verbose Geldof, The Boomtown Rats – which featured guitarists Garry Roberts and Gerry Cott, keyboardist Johnnie FIngers, bassist Pete Briquette and drummer Simon Crowe – became the first Irish band to top the U.K. charts with 1978’s “Rat Trap,” produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange. The next year, follow up “I Don’t Like Mondays” – a heartwrenching New Wave tune about a school shooting, was a worldwide Top 5 hit (save for the U.S., where it scraped to No. 73 after a boycott of sorts due to the song’s content.) Cott left the band in 1981, after which the Rats continued as a quintet increasingly in the shadow of Geldof’s increasing public stature. After the band’s final performance in 1986, Geldof pursued a solo career with Briquette in tow and Fingers became a highly in-demand producer in Japan.

Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits features all of the band’s biggest hits, including “I Don’t Like Mondays,” “Like Clockwork,” “Rat Trap,” “Banana Republic” and more, as well as two new tracks by the current band lineup (Geldof, Roberts, Briquette and Crowe) bookending the disc. (The digital version will be slightly more comprehensive, including a song apiece from the band’s final two albums, 1982’s V Deep and In the Long Grass (1984).) The Boomtown Rats are on tour in England, Ireland and Scotland in October and November.

The new compilation is out September 9. Hit the jump for the full track list and order links!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 31, 2013 at 15:20

Head Hunting: Legacy Celebrates Herbie Hancock With 34-CD “Complete Columbia Album Collection”

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Herbie box coverWhen the 67-year old pianist and composer Herbie Hancock picked up the Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the 50th annual awards ceremony in 2008, he was making history.  His River: The Joni Letters became only the second jazz album to take the prize, and the first in over four decades – since 1964’s Getz/Gilberto, from Stan (Getz) and Joao (Gilberto).   Hancock, who earlier in the night had participated in a tribute to those who came before – including Miles Davis, with whom he famously served as part of the trumpeter’s Second Great Quintet with Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams – was never shy about his acknowledging his predecessors even as he pushed the limits of jazz composition and style.  By 2008, he had long been a part of the firmament himself, however, inspiring younger generations to find their own improvisatory voices.  “I’d like to thank the Academy for courageously breaking the mold this time, [and] in doing so, honoring the giants upon whose shoulders I stand, some of whom like Miles Davis, John Coltrane…unquestionably deserved the award in the past,” Hancock noted onstage. “But this is a new day that proves that the impossible can be made possible.”  Now, Sony’s Legacy Recordings is doing the impossible with the November 12 release of Hancock’s The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988.

This deluxe box set, first mooted years ago, contains all 31 albums – on 34 CDs – from Hancock’s impressive Columbia tenure, including the first U.S. release of eight albums originally released by CBS/Sony in Japan only. Three other albums have never been issued on CD in the U.S. (Sunlight, Magic Windows, Lite Me Up), and some that have been issued on CD are returning to the format after a long absence.  In addition, a number of discs in the box set contain bonus tracks.

After the jump, we have plenty more details on what you can expect from this deluxe package! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 31, 2013 at 14:09

INTERVIEW: Excavating Jem with Marty Scott

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JEM Recordings469BrnThe list of American cities tied to record labels is small, but certainly notable. Memphis has Stax and Sun, Detroit is defined by Motown, Sub Pop defined the Seattle sound…and then there’s Jem Records, which made its home in the middle-class borough of South Plainfield, New Jersey.

Jem, as well as its sub-labels like Passport (a joint venture with Seymour Stein of Sire Records) and PVC, became something of a cratedigger’s dream in the 1970s and 1980s, licensing content from all over the world and getting it into stores across America, effectively breaking bands that may have never been heard otherwise. Boys Don’t Cry, the American debut album by The Cure, was a Jem product. So were albums by The Good Rats, The Bongos, several spinoffs of Genesis (co-founder/guitarist Anthony Phillips; jazz-fusion combo Brand X, for which Phil Collins played drums), Judas Priest, King Crimson, Siouxsie & The Banshees – even, for a time, huge sellers like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and – when Epic first passed on a domestic release – Cheap Trick’s At Budokan.

The original incarnation of Jem folded in 1988, after nearly 20 years in business, but co-founder Marty Scott is about to resurrect the label – and the timing couldn’t be better. Tonight, as Hoboken rockers The Bongos take the stage as the final act at the venerable rock venue Maxwell’s (as members of local band “a,” they were the first act on the stage in 1978), they will announce the new Jem’s first release – a new Bongos album, Phantom Train, recorded in 1986 for Island Records but unreleased until this year.

As a catalogue enthusiast who grew up mere miles away from Jem’s original headquarters, I am very pleased to present – as we remember a monumental place for rock music in New Jersey – this brand-new, exclusive interview with Marty Scott on the past, present and future of Jem Recordings.

What made you decide to get back into the music business after so much time away?

Over the years, people always said, “Well, why don’t you get back in [the business]?” And I always say, “Well, the business has changed.” I believe there’s very little artist development and it’s all very song-driven, or producers are making the music and the singers are overlaying tracks. A little more than a year ago, Richard Barone contacted me about getting involved in a documentary being filmed for the 25th anniversary of Cool Blue Halo, which we had put out in 1987. That was a seminal record – the beginning of what later became the unplugged era.

So I did the documentary around May of 2012, and I got to talking to Richard again. I’d found out there was an unreleased Bongos record – a record I never even knew existed. It was recorded for Chris Blackwell at Compass Point after they’d left RCA, but Blackwell had left to form Palm Pictures, and the record sort of languished. I’d said, “Well, let’s do something with this.” Richard had the tapes, we listened to them, and they sounded pretty damn good. He and Steve Addabbo at Shelter Island Sound started to rework the tapes – they had to bake them! Steve’s the best baker in the business – he just worked on the next Bob Dylan Bootleg Series that’s coming out. I should give him a chef’s hat next time I see him! [laughs]

Bongos My Wildest DreamsThe record, Phantom Train, is going to come out October 1. The band is going to announce from the stage of Maxwell’s, that they’ll be releasing a track the next morning, called “My Wildest Dreams.” And the band will be touring to back it up.

What was it that drew you to importing?

I was really big into The Who, and I had found out that there was a Who record available only in England, called Direct Hits. I still have that record, which I went to England to buy, in my office at home!

In college, we were selling American records near our colleges – I went to Franklin & Marshall College, and my two childhood friends and partners went to Cornell and Wesleyan. As soon as we’d get them from the post office, we were outselling the record stores nearby. After we graduated, we went to Europe to sell records to other college kids. And I got Direct Hits and thought, well, if I want this record, there’s got to be other people that want this!

There’s more Marty Scott after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 31, 2013 at 13:00

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, It’s Yours: SoulMusic Reissues Motown Gem “Syreeta”

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Syreeta 1980Though Syreeta Wright never received the same level of acclaim as many of her Motown contemporaries, her stamp on the company is indelible.  The late artist (1946-2004) wasn’t just a distinctive vocalist, but also a songwriter with credits like The Spinners’ “It’s a Shame” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” and “If You Really Love Me.”  SoulMusic Records has just followed up its recent reissue of Syreeta’s 1977 One on One with her very next Motown solo album, 1980’s Syreeta.  In between, however, Syreeta recorded two duet projects, one of which proved to be crucial.  First came Rich Love, Poor Love, an album with G.C. Cameron of The Spinners.  Then was the big one: “With You I’m Born Again,” a single with the great Billy Preston.  The mainstream success that had long eluded Syreeta had finally arrived.  The David Shire/Carol Connors movie tune (from the soundtrack of Fast Break) went all the way to the Top 5 on the U.S. and U.K. Pop charts.  Building on the success of that late 1979 single, Motown gave its star the go-ahead for another solo LP; perhaps indicative of her new beginning, it was another self-titled album.

Production duties were primarily split between Jerry Peters (writer of The Friends of Distinction’s “Going in Circles”) and Richard Perry (Ringo Starr, Barbra Streisand, The Pointer Sisters).  Peters took the reins of three songs and Perry handled four; of the remaining tracks, Motown mainstay Hal Davis produced two, and composer David Shire co-produced one with Billy Preston.  The result, however musically diverse, was aimed squarely at the pop marketplace.

There’s more after the jump, including the track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 31, 2013 at 10:08

Review: Nilsson, “The RCA Albums Collection”

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Nilsson - RCA Albums Cover

A largess universal like the sun
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all,
Behold, as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night.

– William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV

He’s a pretty nifty guy
Always looks you in the eye
Everybody passing by will sigh
For Harry…

– Eric Idle, “Harry”

Harry Nilsson had the voice of an angel, and raised hell like the devil.  A consummate songwriter, he had his biggest hits with two songs written by others: Tom Evans and Pete Ham’s “Without You” and Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’.”   He turned The Beatles’ “You Can’t Do That” into a dazzlingly sophisticated mélange of words and music and just as easily spun one single chord into musical gold with “Coconut.”  He celebrated the songcraft of Irving Berlin and Harold Arlen with no irony, shortly after making his own bid for a radio hit with “You’re Breaking My Heart” (“So f—k you!” goes the chorus).  The high and the low routinely co-existed in Nilsson’s life and music.

Harry Edward Nilsson III (1941-1994) was a man of many contradictions who began his career at RCA Records with tremendous promise and ended it with considerably less fanfare, alienated from both the record label brass and his dwindling fan base.  In recent years, many projects have sought to understand this complicated artist, including John Scheinfeld’s documentary Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) and Alyn Shipton’s biography Nilsson: The Life of a Singer/Songwriter.  The book’s very title seemingly reflected the author’s desire to place the emphasis not on Nilsson’s hard-partying ways, but on his art…just where it belongs.  If the real Harry Nilsson might have been a man of many faces – he certainly was a man of many voices – his heart and soul doubtless resided in his life’s work.  And that life’s work forms the basis of an absolutely stunning new box set from RCA Records and Legacy Recordings entitled Nilsson: The RCA Albums Collection.  With 17 discs, 14 expanded albums and over 50 previously unreleased tracks, it is an illuminating window into the spirited world of an artist who stubbornly stayed true to himself and left behind a body of work ripe for rediscovery.  A little touch of Harry in the night – or the morning, or the afternoon – is one both fascinating and revelatory.

After the jump, we’re exploring the new box with an album-by-album look at the man and his art.  Join us, won’t you? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 30, 2013 at 12:46

Posted in Box Sets, Harry Nilsson, News, Reviews

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I Just Freeze: Repertoire Plans Remix Compilation for Icehouse

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Icehouse 12 InchesUPDATE (7/30/2013): There are now two Icehouse remix sets scheduled from Repertoire. The second, out August 26, features more remixes from the singles covered on the first volume and selections from 1994’s Full Circle remix project. Both sets are now after the jump.

ORIGINAL POST (5/28/2013): Having done remix compilations for the likes of Sparks and Giorgio Moroder in recent months, German label Repertoire turns their attention down under, to the dance mixes of Australian group Icehouse.

Led by Iva Davies, the synth-pop/rock band (first known as Flowers, but renaming themselves after their first album due to legal restrictions) became local chart mainstays with early singles like “Great Southern Land,” “Hey Little Girl” and “Love in Motion,” then later on in the decade with Top 5 hits “My Obsession,” “Crazy” and “Electric Blue.” (The latter, co-written by noted Icehouse fan John Oates, was the band’s biggest hit worldwide, peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard charts.)

“Electric Blue” is one of many, many Icehouse classics represented on this two-disc set, which includes mixes from all over their catalogue, on various international pressings. “Hey Little Girl,” “Mr. Big,” “No Promises,” “Big Wheel” and “Great Southern Land” (featured in its original 12″ version and a special aboriginal version on 1993’s Spin One EP) are all here, too. Record Collector writer Michael Heatley pens the liner notes for the set.

Available on June 10, The 12 Inches can be pre-ordered now after the jump, which is of course where you’ll also find the track list. (Thanks to super-reader Mark Goring for the tip!)

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 30, 2013 at 12:27

Posted in Compilations, Icehouse, News

“Preminger At Fox” Salutes Director’s Hollywood Film Noir Music

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Preminger at FoxDuring Otto Preminger’s long and distinguished career, the director tackled virtually every genre of film: drama, thriller, musical, even absurdist comedy.  For the musicals, Preminger had scores by George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward (Porgy and Bess) and Oscar Hammerstein II and 19th century composer Georges Bizet (Carmen Jones).  His non-musical films also featured scores by illustrious talents, including David Raksin, Elmer Bernstein, Duke Ellington, and even Harry Nilsson!  A number of Preminger’s films for 20th Century Fox have been issued on DVD under the Fox Film Noir umbrella, including the all-time classic Laura (1944).  The score to Laura has already been released by the Kritzerland label on CD, and now Kritzerland is revisiting that classic along with four more titles in the Fox Film Noir series for a special 2-CDs-for-the-price-of-1 release containing music from five motion pictures.

Preminger at Fox features Raksin’s music for Fallen Angel (1945), Daisy Kenyon (1947), Whirlpool (1949) and a suite from Laura, plus Cyril J. Mockridge’s score for Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) which includes thematic material from the great Alfred Newman.  This limited edition of 1,000 units is one-stop shopping for some of the most dramatic music associated with Preminger’s impressive, 35-film career.  It’s due in the second week of September, but pre-orders placed at Kritzerland usually arrive an average of four weeks early.  Hit the jump for all of the details on Preminger at Fox, plus pre-order link and complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 30, 2013 at 10:08

Don’t Be a Drag, Participate: Rhino U.K. Represses CHIC Hits on Vinyl

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CHIC Vinyl SinglesIf the summer didn’t have enough Nile Rodgers for you, what with a hand in the summer’s biggest jam and a new double-disc compilation, there’s more good news on the way. Rhino’s U.K. division will release a selection of CHIC sides on vinyl in a new box set at the end of the month.

The 12″ Singles Collection is somewhat of a misnomer, as only one of these five records was really a 12″ single (and it was a reissue at that, pairing the band’s first singles “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “Everybody Dance” onto one piece of wax). But all of these songs were indeed released as singles, including immortal hits “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love,” “Good Times,” “My Forbidden Lover” and “My Feet Keep Dancing.”

This box even includes two relatively lesser known tracks, in “Hangin’,” from the group’s 1982 album Tongue in CHIC and “CHIC Mystique” from Rodgers and Bernard Edwards’ reunion album CHIC-ism (1992). So it’s sort of its own outsize vinyl greatest hits. Packed in retro-style packaging, with labels and dust jackets that recall the disco era (if not the original Atlantic labels note for note), The 12″ Singles Collection is poised to be a high-end collectible for fans of CHIC and disco music in general.

It’s available in the U.K. August 26 and a week later in America. Hit the jump to check out the specs!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 30, 2013 at 09:35

Release Round-Up: Week of July 30

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Nilsson - RCA Albums BoxNilsson, The RCA Albums Collection (RCA/Legacy)

Easily one of the box set purchases of the year. Every one of the legendary singer/songwriter’s 14 solo albums for the RCA label, newly remastered and expanded with bonus tracks, mono mixes and other treasures, plus another three discs of rarities and outtakes. The packaging is beautiful and the music more than matches. You will not be disappointed. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Dionne - We Need to Go BackDionne Warwick, The Complete Warner Bros. Singles / We Need to Go Back — The Unissued Warner Bros. Masters / Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., The Two of Us (Expanded Edition) / Marilyn & Billy (Expanded Edition) / Parlet, Pleasure Principle / Invasion of the Booty Snatchers / Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, Zero Time (Real Gone Music)

Real Gone’s Portsmouth Sinfonia title may have been unfortunately cancelled, but there are some amazing titles coming from the label this week.

The Complete Warner Bros. SinglesAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
We Need to Go BackAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Two of UsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Marilyn & BillyAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Pleasure PrincipleAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Invasion of the Booty SnatchersAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Zero TimeAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Big Country At The BBCBig Country, At The BBC (Mercury/Universal)

A 3CD/1DVD box chronicling just about everything the Scottish rockers had recorded by the BBC in the 1980s. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Electric PeaceThe Cult, Electric Peace (Beggar’s Archive)

The post-punk band’s acclaimed 1987 album, produced by Rick Rubin, is paired up with the original version of the album helmed by producer Steve Brown for the first time in one package.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Sly and the Family Stone - There's a Riot Gold

Sly and the Family Stone, There’s a Riot Goin’ On: Gold Edition (Get On Down)

Sly and the Family Stone’s incendiary 1971 album There’s a Riot Goin’ On – which spawned the hit single “Family Affair” – gets the gold CD treatment from Get On Down.  Along with some detailed liner notes, the label is promising actual embroidered fabric for the flag on the CD’s cover!  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Life Is a Carnival with The Band’s Box Set “Live at the Academy of Music: The Rock of Ages Concerts”

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The Band - Academy of MusicThe Band’s Rock of Ages has long been a mighty document of a mighty quintet at the height of its powers.  And it’s about to get even mightier.

Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel closed 1971 with four nights at New York City’s Academy of Music, reveling in new horn arrangements by New Orleans’ legendary Allen Toussaint and jamming with old mate Bob Dylan on New Year’s Eve.  Highlights from the concert spawned the Top 10 album Rock of Ages, and a 2001 reissue added ten tracks to the original release’s eighteen.  But on September 17, Capitol Records will unveil Live at the Academy of Music: The Rock of Ages Concerts, a 4-CD/1-DVD box set chronicling these shows in unprecedented detail.  Housed in a 48-page hardbound book, Live at the Academy presents new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes of the music of Rock of Ages, including 19 more previously unreleased performances and newly discovered footage of two songs filmed by Howard Alk and Murray Lerner.  Unlike many so-called “super deluxe” boxes, this set does not include the original album on which it’s based; the 1972 LP version of Rock of Ages is absent with the new box serving more as a companion than a replacement to it.

After Americana/roots-rock trailblazers The Band completed their fourth album, Cahoots, they set out for Europe to play a brief tour in spring 1971.  More live performances followed that summer, culminating in the album’s release in October.  The Band promoted Cahoots with a number of American dates, building up to a December 28-31 stand on Manhattan’s East 14th Street between Irving Place and 3rd Avenue at The Academy of Music.  The 3,000-seat venue (sadly demolished by New York University following its closure in 1997) had filled the gap in New York nightlife recently vacated by Bill Graham’s Fillmore East, and proved the perfect spot for The Band’s brand of musical magic.

The Band had first worked with Allen Toussaint when he contributed horn arrangements to Cahoots’ single “Life is a Carnival.”  When it became clear that the performances at the Academy of Music were to be recorded for a live album, The Band invited the writer of “Mother-in-Law” and “Working in the Coalmine” to beef up the group’s sound with his N’awlins brass.  Horns weren’t new to The Band; multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson had added tuba, euphonium and saxophones on the group’s very first album.  But Toussaint brought a wealth of experience as an arranger and orchestrator, and a distinct funky sound all his own.  “I felt very much at home with The Band,” Toussaint told writer Rob Bowman in 2000.  “There was nothing ‘stock’ about them.  Coming together as a group, that magic that formed from such individual love and interest, I just felt really good.”

The road to the Academy was a bumpy one, though, especially when the unbelievable happened and Toussaint’s bag containing eleven musical scores was lost at the airport!  The famously cool Toussaint took it in stride, telling Bowman, “I’m glad it did happen because what was written in Woodstock [where he traveled to meet the group to rehearse prior to the Manhattan stand] was better than anything I could have come up with at home.  More appropriate at least…I felt so fresh and so much better about it after getting there and seeing the guys and being in that environment.”

The concerts consisted of two sets each night, first with The Band alone, then with the five-man horn section.  The set list was consistent, and nine songs had been added from the dates earlier that fall to beef up the concerts for the album.  Interestingly, the sets were light on songs from Cahoots.  “Shoot Out in Chinatown” had been dropped from the earlier gigs, and only two songs from the LP survived (“Life is a Carnival” and “Smoke Signal,” the latter of which wasn’t even included on the original Rock of Ages release).  In a surprise move, Bob Dylan showed up for the December 31 show to ring in New Year’s 1972.

The late, great Phil Ramone was the recording engineer for Rock of Ages, working with Mark Harman.  Yet as early as the album’s release in late summer 1972, there was confusion as to which tracks were utilized for the LP.  Ramone told the press that most of the album came from the December 30 performance, while Robbie Robertson opined that eighty percent was recorded on December 31.  The Dylan tracks were not included on the original release, but they were added to the 2001 reissue produced by Cheryl Pawelski and Andrew Sandoval.  That included bonus recordings from all four nights as its second disc, with the original album remaining in sequence on Disc One.

Exactly what will you find on Live at the Academy?  Hit the jump, won’t you? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 29, 2013 at 14:10