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Archive for August 20th, 2013

Favorite Things: Concord Reissues, Expands John Coltrane’s “Afro Blue Impressions”

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John Coltrane - Afro Blue

When John Coltrane’s Afro Blue Impressions was released on LP by Pablo Records in 1977, it marked the tenth anniversary of the saxophone great’s 1967 passing.  Capturing his classic quartet in its prime, Afro Blue was recorded live in 1963 in Stockholm and Berlin.  Now, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of its recording, and the fortieth anniversary of Pablo, Concord Music Group has remastered and expanded Afro Blue Impressions.

The roots of Coltrane’s great quartet can be traced to 1960.  By fall of that year, Coltrane’s group had coalesced with McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums, and Steve Davis on bass.  The foursome recorded material released by Atlantic on Coltrane Jazz, Coltrane Plays the Blues, Coltrane’s Sound, and most notably, My Favorite Things.  The title track became a landmark in jazz, with Coltrane on soprano saxophone leading a tour de force modal interpretation of the then-recent Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway hit.  The transformation from bop to modal jazz (in which solos build from the key rather than from chord changes only) was a key one in Coltrane’s tragically-curtailed career.  By early 1961, Davis had been replaced by Reggie Workman on bass, and the following year saw Jimmy Garrison fill that role.  The classic John Coltrane Quartet line-up (1962-1965) was born.

Tyner, Garrison and Jones would support Coltrane as he experimented with more avant-garde free jazz forms.  The group reached its pinnacle with the 1965 album A Love Supreme.  Its marriage of free jazz and hard bop on yielded one of the most influential, and most successful, jazz albums of all time.  Afro Blue Impressions is imbued with this probing and adventurous style – haunting and creative, yes, but also accessible.  (“My Favorite Things,” in its first Atlantic recording by Coltrane, was even released as a single!)  These performances – with Coltrane on tenor and soprano saxes – pointed the way towards 1964’s dark Crescent as well as A Love Supreme.  The great impresario Norman Granz, founder of Pablo, not only produced the original album but also produced the concerts at which the recordings were made.

On Afro Blue Impressions, Coltrane can be heard on “My Favorite Things,” of course, reinventing Richard Rodgers’ melody (now regarded as a holiday perennial as well as a theatrical standard) in ways the composer surely never imagined.  Though the quartet also found room for Billy Eckstine’s “I Want to Talk About You” and Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue,” most songs were Coltrane originals. These included reinterpretations of music from the classic Giant Steps (“Naima,” “Cousin Mary”), Crescent (“Lonnie’s Lament”), Live at the Village Vanguard (“Chasin’ the Trane,” “Spiritual”) and Impressions (its title track).  Most tracks were recorded in Berlin on November 2, 1963; “Spiritual” and “Impressions” hailed from an October 22, 1963 performance in Stockholm.

What will you find on this new edition?  Hit the jump for full details plus order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 20, 2013 at 13:13

Come On and Love Him: Iconic Lenny Kravitz LP to Be Expanded

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Lenny Kravitz Are You Gonna Go My Way 20Lenny Kravitz’s third album, Are You Gonna Go My Way – which spawned a monster hit in the Hendrix-ian/Prince-like title track – is getting the double-disc reissue treatment for its 20th anniversary in September.

Are You Gonna Go My Way established Kravitz as a successful R&B-rocker around the world; the title track was not only a No. 1 Mainstream Rock hit in the States, but a Top 5 U.K. hit. Follow-up singles “Believe” and “Heaven Help” were also successful.

The deluxe edition of Are You Gonna Go My Way features a wealth of rare and unreleased material, including 10 non-LP B-sides (including acoustic tracks and the tune “Spinning Around Over You,” released on the soundtrack to Reality Bites in 1994) and a host of unreleased demo material. In addition to six rough tracks from the album sessions, the bonus disc in this set includes three demo tracks recorded by Kravitz for the English language debut album by French model/Kravitz paramour Vanessa Paradis, originally released in 1992. Of these tunes, one, “I May Not Be a Star,” has never been heard in any format.

This remastered and expanded set streets on September 24 on Virgin/UMe. Hit the jump for the full track list and Amazon pre-order links.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 20, 2013 at 11:54

Review: Dionne Warwick, “We Need to Go Back: The Unissued Warner Bros. Masters”

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Dionne - We Need to Go BackWe need to go back to the songs we used to sing…

– Nickolas Ashford and Valarie Simpson, “We Need to Go Back”

What’s remarkable about the 19 outtakes on Dionne Warwick’s We Need to Go Back: The Unissued Warner Bros. Masters (Real Gone Music RGM-0170) is that they’re every bit as good as – and in many cases, superior to – the music actually released during Warwick’s stormy five-year stay at the label.  Every one of the soulful stylist’s Warner albums is represented with outtakes save 1972’s debut Dionne, the final Bacharach-David-Warwick production.  In addition, abortive sessions with Nickolas Ashford and Valarie Simpson, Randy Edelman, and Joe Porter are also included here, nearly in full.  (More on that “nearly” soon.)  We Need to Go Back is a companion volume to Real Gone’s The Complete Warner Bros. Singles; if you missed our review, click on this link and then join us back here!

The 1972 Holland-Dozier-Holland production “Too Far Out of Reach” – like Ashford and Simpson’s pair of productions, “We Need to Go Back” and “Someone Else Gets the Prize” – sounds tailor-made for Diana Ross.  But that’s not to say that Warwick didn’t bring her elegant vocal instrument and expressive musical personality to her performance.  “Too Far Out of Reach” beautifully blends funky drums and bass with orchestral grandeur, similar to the best songs crafted by the team for Miss Ross.  But Warwick brings sheer conviction to the song’s insistent refrain that “you’re only hurtin’ yourself and nobody else!” as the strings swell with Detroit style.  “Too Far Out of Reach” sits comfortably alongside H-D-H’s more reflective “It Hurts Me So,” in which Warwick confronts her unfaithful lover (“You didn’t tell me that you had a wife/Suddenly, I’m left to find I’ve got to make a new life/Without you, who’s gonna see me through?”).  With its horn flourishes, “It Hurts Me So” has a slight Bacharach-esque feel redolent of the album’s “I Always Get Caught in the Rain.”

Recorded in May 1973, Ashford and Simpson’s “We Need to Go Back” is one of the unquestionable highlights here, even if the vocal coos and soft singing that open the track again recall Ross.  Soon, it’s pure Warwick magic, though, with her lead gliding effortlessly over strings and backing vocals in a nostalgic reverie: “We need to go back to the songs we used to sing…”  The song deftly balances the earthbound with the divine as Dionne concludes, “Maybe we need to pray!”  It’s a mystery why the Ashford and Simpson sessions were discarded, considering the strength of “We Need to Go Back” and the other track included here, “Someone Else Gets the Prize.”  (The song is a different one than Diana Ross’ “No One Gets the Prize,” though the later song may have been influenced lyrically by the title phrase here.)  Warwick’s innate grace and dignity keeps her from ever being pitiable as she ponders “why does it always turn out someone else gets the prize?”  These two songs would have made one hell of a single release, yet they were inexplicably consigned to a “might-have-been.”  Real Gone has dropped one tantalizing footnote, though: a seven-and-a-half-minute version of “We Need to Go Back” still exists in the WEA vaults.  Though the proposed single edit of the track made the cut here, the full version deserves imminent release as well.  (There’s the “nearly” here!)

After the jump: discover new works from Randy Edelman, Burt Bacharach, Thom Bell and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 20, 2013 at 10:34

Release Round-Up: Week of August 20

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Fleetwood Mac - Then Play OnFleetwood Mac, Then Play On: Deluxe Edition Fleetwood Mac: 1969-1972 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

The pre Buckingham-Nicks era of the Mac gets some love on CD and vinyl: their last Peter Green-led album from 1969 is expanded with bonus tracks, and it’s also included in a remastered vinyl box set with follow-ups Kiln House (1970), Future Games (1971) and Bare Trees (1972) (plus the 1969 single “Oh Well” on 45).

Then Play OnAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1969-1972Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The_Jimi_Hendrix_Experience_(Box_set)_coverJimi Hendrix, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

The famous “purple box” from 2000 – the first box set released in the official Experience Hendrix catalogue – is reissued with four extra tracks, including live material and rare non-LP B-side “The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice.” (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Richard Pryor The Studio AlbumsRichard Pryor, The Studio Albums 1974-1983 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

A rather interesting discovery: Rhino has given the complete-albums-in-an-affordable-box treatment to Richard Pryor (whose Warner Bros. catalogue was rather generously sampled on Shout! Factory’s recent box set No Pryor Restraint). So this is essentially Rhino’s …And It’s Deep Too! box in a smaller package and without the bonus disc. Given the price of that long out-of-print box, the loss of the bonus disc is acceptable compared to the wealth of material herein. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Afro Blue ImpressionsJohn Coltrane, Afro Blue Impressions (Pablo/Concord)

Recorded in Europe in 1963 and released in 1977, this double-disc offering of live ‘Trane is newly remastered and expanded with new liner notes and three unreleased bonus tracks. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Staple Singers - This Time AroundThe Staple Singers, This Time Around (Stax/Ace)

Previously unreleased on CD, this 1981 compilation features outtakes from 1970-1972 sweetened with overdubs from Herb Jimmerson, one half of Fantasy recording duo Paradise Express. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

HeadquartersThe Monkees, Headquarters: Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)

Rhino’s 2007 double-disc deluxe edition, featuring the 1967 album in stereo and mono mixes and a host of bonus tracks, is licensed and reissued by Friday Music. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

LumineersThe Lumineers, The Lumineers: Deluxe Edition (Duatone)

The “Ho Hey” folk rockers expand their album with unreleased tracks and a DVD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Essential Britney SpearsSarah McLachlan, Nas, Santana, Britney Spears, Bill WIthers, Tammy WynetteThe Essential (Legacy)

The latest entries in Legacy’s two-disc compilation series. (That feeling you’re experiencing is horror that Britney Spears has had enough time on the market to rack up enough material for The Essential series!)