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Archive for July 31st, 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