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Archive for August 21st, 2013

It’s Been Good to Know Yuh: Woody Guthrie Rarities Collected on New Box Set

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Woody Guthrie American Radical PatriotIn the annals of American history, few singer-songwriters were as incisive about our country as Woody Guthrie (1912-1967). He tirelessly dedicated himself and his songcraft to the hard-working, common man of the country, and was as equally vocal about injustices he saw in his many travels across the nation. And lately, as fans recently celebrated what would have been his 100th birthday, several great products came out in celebration of this milestone.

But what many have forgotten about Guthrie is the full extent of his patriotism. Indeed, many of his recordings – those which championed the poor and the hungry, or those who turned to unions and the Communist Party to feel like their voices were heard –  were done in some service of the American government. American Radical Patriot, Rounder Records’ new 85-song 6 CD/1 DVD/1 LP box set, will explore that dichotomy in great detail.

Four of the discs in American Radical Patriot feature, for the first time, the complete Woody Guthrie-Alan Lomax recordings. In 1940, the 27-year-old Guthrie visited the Library of Congress, and allowed researcher/folklorist Lomax to record both original songs, including “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh,” “Do Re Mi,” “Pretty Boy Floyd” and “I Ain’t Got No Home,” and interviews over a five-hour period. Three hours of this historic session were released on Elektra Records in 1964 as The Library of Congress Recordings. Now presented with newly-remastered audio and a full transcript in the box’s 258-page book, this is the first time all of these sensational documents have been available in full.

American Radical Patriot includes even more sensational rarities from Guthrie’s life and career, including:

  • 17 songs Guthrie wrote and recorded for the Pacific Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration
  • Five songs composed and performed with the Almanac Singers to support anti-fascist efforts in World War II
  • Two radio dramas for the U.S. Office of War Information
  • Three songs from broadcasts of Jazz America
  • 10 compositions for an anti-venereal disease campaign created by the U.S. Public Health Service, along with a health-themed radio drama commissioned by Columbia University

In addition to a DVD with as-yet unspecified features, American Radical Patriot closes out with a 78-rpm vinyl disc featuring on one side a 1951 home recording of “The Greatest Thing That Man Has Ever Done” by Guthrie, and on another, a 1961 recording of “VD City” by a young Guthrie admirer who went by the name of Bob Dylan.

For fans of Americana and folk, this may be the box set to beat in 2013. American Radical Patriot, limited to 5,000 copies, is due September 24. Order your copy here and check out an unreleased track from the box at Rolling Stone.

Written by Mike Duquette

August 21, 2013 at 14:30

Metal, Rated “XXX”: Roadrunner Marks Three-Decade-Plus Mark with Four-Disc Box Set

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Roadrunner Box SetOne of the top labels in straight-up rock and heavy metal, Roadrunner Records, will celebrate their more than 30 years in the business with a new box set, XXX: Three Decades of Roadrunner Records, in October.

From its inception in 1980, Roadrunner was often toward the forefront of metal, from traditional heavy and thrash metal in the 1980s and early 1990s to the fast-paced tracks and nu metal stylings of the late ’90s. Along the way, they’ve opened up their roster to all kinds of hard rock, serving as a solid home base for veterans and upstarts alike. Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Type O Negative, Dream Theater, Megadeth, Slipknot, Nickelback, Korn, Rush, Porcupine Tree, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Dresden Dolls and Heaven & Hell (the late ’00s project by Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice – essentially, the Dio-led version of Black Sabbath) have all called Roadrunner home at one time or another.

And of these and more will be featured on this themed, 54-track box set, divided into four discs: Foundations, featuring early heavy metal cuts from the label’s early days; Horns Up, a summary of Roadrunner’s output in the late 1990s and early 2000s; And Metal for All, featuring recent metal releases (including the 2004 label supergroup Roadrunner United) and Rock for the Ages, featuring everything that rocked in between. XXX: Three Decades of Roadrunner Records will also feature liner notes from Decibel writer Chris Dick, including interviews and quotes with label founder Cees Wessels as well as King Diamond, Max Cavalera of Sepultura and Soulfly, Matt Heafy of Trivium and more.

XXX: Three Decades of Roadrunner Records will be available October 1. Hit the jump for the usual full track list and (so far, just an Amazon U.K.) pre-order links!

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Take the Midnight Train to Eight New Gladys Knight and the Pips Reissues from FTG

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Gladys Knight - ImaginationFunkytowngrooves is leaving on the midnight train to Georgia with a series of six expanded reissues from the catalogue of Gladys Knight, both solo and with the Pips. September 16 and 30 are the dates to mark for the label’s reissues of four vintage albums originally released on Buddah (Imagination, I Feel a Song, 2nd Anniversary and The One and Only…), one on Bell (In the Beginning) and three on Columbia (Gladys Knight, Visions and Life).  It’s a good time to be a fan of Gladys’ ouevre; the U.K.’s winning Big Break Records label has its own deluxe, freshly remastered reissues of Imagination and LIfe on tap, and we’ll report back on those soon, too.

Imagination (Buddah, 1973) might have been Gladys Knight and the Pips’ eleventh studio album and first since leaving Berry Gordy’s Motown empire, but it marked a rebirth for the group. Their first album for Buddah, Imagination yielded three smash hit singles. Jim Weatherly’s “Midnight Train to Georgia” topped both the R&B and Pop charts, while Jim “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” and Gerry Goffin and Barry Goldberg’s “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” both topped the R&B chart and went Top 5 Pop. In addition to three more Weatherly compositions, the album also featured the group’s takes on Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now,” Paul Williams’ “Perfect Love” and the group’s own composition “Window Raisin’ Granny.” FTG is adding both sides of the single “Midnight Train” b/w “Granny,” as well as a rare and never-before-released instrumental of “Midnight Train.”

Gladys Knight - I Feel a SongThe group next released an album of Curtis Mayfield’s songs from the film Claudine, but I Feel a Song (Buddah, 1974) was the proper studio follow-up to Imagination. Though it didn’t repeat the huge success of its predecessor, it still had much to offer. A medley of Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s “The Way We Were” with Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s “Try to Remember” (from the musical The Fantasticks) went to No. 6 R&B/No. 11 Pop. Producer Tony Camillo, who had produced “Midnight Train” for Imagination, supplied the album’s title song, and it became a No. 1 R&B/No. 21 Pop hit. Jim Weatherly returned for a couple of songs including “Love Finds Its Own Way,” a No. 3 R&B/No. 47 Pop hit. Burt Bacharach supplied one of the album’s best and most unusual tracks, “Seconds,” which was written with playwright Neil Simon for an abortive film version of Bacharach and Hal David’s Broadway musical Promises, Promises. I Feel a Song topped the R&B chart, and FTG is expanding it with the single version of “The Way We Were/Try to Remember” and the never-on-CD singles from Claudine, “Make Yours a Happy Home” and “On and On.”

2nd Anniversary (Buddah, 1975) came next, and is third in FTG’s reissue program. Gene McDaniels’ “Money” was selected as the first single, hitting No. 4 R&B and No. 50 Pop. Bread man David Gates’ “Part Time Love” fared slightly better, also reaching No. 4 R&B but peaking at No. 22 Pop. The album also made room for Jim Weatherly’s “Where Do I Put His Memory,” a couple more songs from McDaniels’ pen including the Roberta Flack hit “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher’s “You and Me Against the World,” and a cover of “Georgia on My Mind,” recalling the group’s last Georgia-themed success. FTG’s expanded edition adds three previously unreleased session outtakes, “We Don’t Look for Trouble,” “Alone Again” and “Rainbow Ride.”

Gladys Knight - One and OnlyFTG jumps ahead to continue with an expanded edition of The One and Only… (Buddah, 1978). Gladys Knight and the Pips’ final album for Buddah, it failed to achieve any crossover success, but Michael Masser and Pam Sawyer’s “Sorry Doesn’t Always Make It Right” managed a No. 24 R&B showing, and British songwriter Tony Macaulay’s “It’s Better Than a Good Time” making No. 16 R&B. The eclectic album also featured songs from Barry Manilow and Marty Panzer (“All the Time”), Van McCoy and Joe Cobb (“Come Back and Finish What You Started”), The Addrisi Brothers (“Don’t Say No to Me Tonight”) and Paul Williams with the Bergmans (“The One and Only”). The new reissue adds six bonus tracks: 7-inch singles of “It’s Up to You (Do What You Do),” “I’m Still Caught Up with You,” “It’s Better Than a Good Time” and “Everybody’s Got to Find a Way,” and 12-inch singles of “It’s Better Than a Good Time” and “Saved by the Grace of Your Love.”

After the jump, we have the scoop on Gladys’ Columbia years and the vintage anthology In the Beginning, plus full track listings with discography for all titles!

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Written by Joe Marchese

August 21, 2013 at 10:04