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Archive for September 4th, 2013

Legacy is Miles Ahead on Davis’ Mono CD Box Set

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Miles Davis - Original Mono Recordings

Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings are getting Miles Ahead with a new box set due on November 12.   Miles Davis’ The Original Mono Recordings is a definitive portrait – in crisp monaural sound – of the legendary trumpeter’s earliest, era-defining period at Columbia Records.  Its nine albums, recorded between 1956 and 1961 (and released between 1957 and 1964), include some of the greatest landmarks in recorded jazz as well as a couple of lost treasures:

  • ‘Round About Midnight (1957)
  • Miles Ahead (1957)
  • Milestones (1958)
  • Jazz Track (1959)
  • Porgy and Bess (1959)
  • Kind of Blue (1959)
  • Sketches of Spain (1960)
  • Someday My Prince Will Come (1961)
  • Miles & Monk at Newport (1964)

While the other seven titles have been a mainstay of the Miles Davis catalogue, both the long out-of-print Jazz Track and Miles & Monk at Newport are making their first appearances in any domestic Davis CD collection.

In addition, to mark Record Store Day’s annual Black Friday event on November 29, Columbia/Legacy will issue mono vinyl editions of Kind Of Blue, Miles & Monk At Newport, and Jazz Track, following the previously released ‘Round About Midnight, Miles Ahead, Milestones, Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain, and Someday My Prince Will Come.

After the jump: more details on Miles Davis’ The Original Mono Recordings including a full track listing with discography, and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 4, 2013 at 16:14

Couldn’t Love Him More: John Martyn Box Set Due This Month

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John Martyn boxUniversal’s U.K. arm has made a nice habit in recent years of exhaustive box sets devoted to one artist. The Moody Blues’ Timeless Flight was an 11CD/6DVD overview of the British rock band; this fall includes box sets devoted to Sparks and Tears for Fears’ The Hurting. The upcoming The Island Years, an exhaustive box devoted to folk icon John Martyn, is 18 discs – 17 CDs and one DVD – that looks to be quite the knockout for anyone’s shelf.

Martyn was a notable figure in the British folk scene of the 1960s and a key act of Chris Blackwell’s Island Records for many years. With a distinctive vocal timbre and a lengthy list of collaborators from Eric Clapton to Phil Collins to Lee “Scratch” Perry, Martyn’s music and influence ran the gamut of styles in the 1970s and 1980s.

John Martyn box frontThe Island Years is packed with material both familiar and unreleased. Every one of Martyn’s studio and live albums for Island, from 1967’s London Conversation to 1986’s Piece by Piece, is included herein. Two unreleased shows – Live At The Hanging Lamp, Richmond – 5/8/1972 and Live in Sydney 8/14/1977 – are included, as well as, for the first time, the original mix of The Apprentice, a 1987 album that was controversially received by Island, resulting in his exit from the label the following year. (Martyn re-recorded and released the album at his own expense in 1990 to critical acclaim.) Numerous bonus tracks, including non-LP and archival material, are also appended to nearly every disc. A DVD rounds out the set with appearances on The Old Grey Whistle Test and others, as well as a complete concert at London’s Town & Country Club in 1986, part of which was released on VHS as Foundations in 1987.

Rounded out with the usual memorabilia, including a 120-page hardback book and replicas of original press kits and tour programs, The Island Years is out on September 30. The full track list and order links are after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 4, 2013 at 12:35

Cherry Pop “Thinks It Over” With Two Reissues From Cissy Houston

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Cissy Houston - Cherry PopWhen Cissy Houston was signed to Private Stock Records in 1977 to record the first of two albums just reissued by the Cherry Pop label, her C.V. spoke for itself. Music practically ran in the veins of the vocalist born Emily Drinkard in Newark, New Jersey, 1933.  Cissy first made her mark as a member of The Drinkard Singers, the group said to have recorded the very first major-label gospel album (1959’s A Joyful Noise, on RCA Victor).  Among Cissy’s fellow Drinkard Singers was her sister Lee Warrick, mother of Marie Dionne and Delia Mae “Dee Dee” Warrick – later Warwick.  During the same period her niece Dionne was pursuing solo fame at Scepter Records, Cissy was getting ready to give birth to a baby girl she would christen Whitney and also forming the in-demand session group The Sweet Inspirations with Dee Dee among its initial members.  The Sweet Inspirations sang with Elvis Presley, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin and countless others, and also recorded a string of well-received solo albums for Atlantic Records.

But Cissy had her eyes on solo stardom, and eventually departed the ranks of the Sweet Inspirations. She headlined the just-reissued Presenting Cissy Houston (and was first to record Jim Weatherly’s “Midnight Train to Georgia”) in 1970, but continued to sing with a diverse array of artists.  That’s Cissy cooing on Bette Midler’s “Do You Want to Dance” and taking the lead on Burt Bacharach’s “One Less Bell to Answer.”  So Houston wasn’t exactly sitting on her laurels when she signed to Larry Uttal’s Private Stock label, where she remained for two albums.  Cherry Pop has brought both back to CD – 1977’s Cissy Houston and 1978’s Think It Over – the latter in an expanded edition.

To produce Cissy Houston, with its eponymous title signifying a new beginning for the singer, Private Stock turned to Jersey boy Michael Zager.  At Private Stock, Zager would front a disco band and score a hit with “Let’s All Chant.”  But Cissy Houston steered clear of dancefloor beats in favor of a tasteful, pop-soul approach.  Houston applied her powerful and versatile voice to nine selections arranged and conducted by Zager to emphasize her gospel background and emotive style.  A surprising highlight is the album’s opening track, one of the very first recordings of Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s “Tomorrow.”  The song was introduced in the musical Annie, which opened on Broadway on April 21, 1977 following a pre-Broadway tryout at Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House.  Cissy Houston was released the very next month, in May, affording those who hadn’t yet seen the musical a chance to learn the optimistic credo that tomorrow “is only a day away.”  The rendition is straightforward, but as expected, there’s some choice vocalizing from Houston that adds a mature dimension to the future standard.

Considerably more familiar by 1977 were a pair of songs plucked from the recent past: Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Your Song” and Bobby Russell and Bobby Scott’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (a hit for The Hollies).  These choices weren’t even slightly radical; both tunes had crossed over from the Top 40 to be covered by artists such as Andy Williams.  But backing choir The Voices of Hope adds gospel flair to “Your Song,” while “He Ain’t Heavy” also allows Houston to soar, sanctified-style.

On the earlier Presenting Cissy Houston, the singer tackled her niece Dionne’s songbook with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself,” turning the ballad into an up-tempo groove.  Here, she takes “Make It Easy on Yourself” – first recorded as a demo by Dionne but released first by Jerry Butler, in 1962 – and slows it down considerably.  Houston digs deep into David’s pained words, embellishing many with dramatic, swooping runs, or melisma.  Listening to this track, it’s evident to see just how much of an influence Cissy had on her daughter Whitney.  (The physical resemblance between Cissy and Whitney circa her own debut album is also clear on the cover photograph of Cissy Houston, while photos in the booklet to follow-up Think It Over nicely show the Houston-Warrick family similarity.)

The album is rounded out by a few original cuts.  Zager and Aram Schefrin’s funky, saucy “Morning Much Better” (“I like it in the morning…the morning’s much better!”) has a bit of the lyrical flavor of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s delicious “Just a Little Lovin’,” and is Houston at her earthiest.  (Schefrin was a member of the band Ten Wheel Drive with Zager.)  The album’s first single, “Love is Something That Leads You” by Zager and Barbara Soehner, is smooth, deliciously catchy R&B.   Its B-side, the upbeat “It Never Really Ended,” answers the question “What happens when you go back to an old love affair hoping that the feeling will still be there?”

After the jump, we’ll revisit Think It Over!  Plus, we have full track listings and order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 4, 2013 at 10:14