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Archive for September 17th, 2013

Review: Joanie Sommers, “Come Alive! The Complete Columbia Recordings”

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Joanie Sommers - Come AliveOn the opening track of Joanie Sommers’ 1966 Columbia LP Come Alive!, the velvet-voiced singer seductively taunted, “You better love me while you may!  Tomorrow I may fly away…”  True, the Hugh Martin/Timothy Gray tune was originally sung by the late Elvira, a ghost haunting her husband in the musical High Spirits.  But it could just as easily have applied to Sommers.  Following a string of hit albums and singles for Warner Bros. Records, her home since 1960, the winsome “Pepsi Girl” and “Voice of the Sixties” decamped Warners for Columbia.  Though WB had guided Sommers to stardom from her teenage years, the move made perfect sense, as Columbia was home of the great vocalists – Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, and Robert Goulet, to name a few.  Her brand of adult pop would fit right in.  Her label debut was titled after her Pepsi campaign jingle, produced by Allen Stanton and arranged and conducted by Mort Garson, perhaps best known for composing “Our Day Will Come.”  But soon, Sommers did indeed fly away from the music business.  Save a few singles and one unreleased LP, another new album didn’t bear her name until 1982.  And Come Alive! slid into obscurity…until now.  The original LP has been rescued and reissued by Real Gone Music, adding twelve rare sides (six of which are previously unreleased) to create Come Alive! The Complete Columbia Recordings (RGM-0185).

At Warner Bros., Sommers brought her sweet but deft touch to pop songs (Sherman Edwards and Hal David’s “Johnny Get Angry”), Broadway showtunes (“One Boy” from Bye Bye Birdie) and bossa nova ballads (1965’s Softly: The Brazilian Sound, with guitarist Laurindo Almeida).  Though promoted as a teen star, Sommers was also paired with jazz heavyweights like Marty Paich and Neal Hefti for maturely sung collections of standards.  (Her wide-ranging music can be sampled on Real Gone’s Complete Warner Bros. Singles.)  For her Columbia debut, Stanton and Garson didn’t veer too far from the formula, showcasing Sommers’ distinctive and seasoned pipes in beguiling settings.  Most of the album is devoted to then-current songs of stage and screen.  Sommers charms on Garson’s cha-cha arrangement of “You’d Better Love Me,” and is similarly radiant on the upbeat “A Wonderful Day Like Today” from The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd.  Most impressively, on the bright “I’m All Smiles” from the short-lived musical adaptation of The Yearling, Sommers holds her own against none other than Columbia labelmate Barbra Streisand.  La Streisand’s dreamy version can be found on her 1964 People LP; whereas that version was released before The Yearling hit the stage, the musical was long gone by the time of Sommers’ release.  Following eleven previews, it ran just three performances at New York’s Alvin Theatre in December 1965!

The film songs are an equally classy lot.  Sommers is as tender on the Academy Award-winning “The Shadow of Your Smile,” from The Sandpiper, as she is insouciant on “Sunday in New York” from the movie of the same name.  The Peter Nero melody was also recorded by Mel Torme, Bobby Darin and Nero himself.  If Sommers can’t beat Darin’s rendition for sheer swing, her invitation is just as delightful.  Her soft, girl-next-door vocals are gentle and persuasive on The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’s “Watch What Happens,” swathed in an orchestration with swirling strings, atmospheric flute and vibes.  Sommers and Garson even reached back to 1951’s Royal Wedding for a sensual reading of Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane’s wistful standard “Too Late Now.”  Sommers’ proclivity for jazz shines through on Neal Hefti and Bobby Troup’s slinky “Girl Talk” from the biopic Harlow, as well as on a brassy version of Tony Hatch’s (non-film song) pop hit “Call Me.”

Real Gone’s reissue, produced by Jim Pierson and sublimely remastered by Sean Brennan at Battery Studios, adds 12 bonus tracks to the album’s original 11 songs.  Let’s take a listen, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 17, 2013 at 14:23

Slaves to the Rhythm: ZTT Celebrates 30 Years with New Two-Disc Compilation (UPDATED 9/17)

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ZTT Organization of PopTo mark their three wild, wonderful decades on the bleeding edge of U.K. pop and rock, ZTT Records will release a new two-disc compilation in October.

The Organization of Pop: Music from the First Thirty Years of ZTT Records collects 28 tracks that run the gamut of ZTT’s influence, from Frankie Goes to Hollywood to Propaganda, 808 State to The Buggles, Grace Jones to Seal, The Art of Noise to The Frames. The huge hits – Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose,” Frankie’s “Relax,” The Art of Noise’s “Moments in Love” – come together on the first disc, while some of the lesser known cuts and buried treasures (The Buggles’ “We Can Fly from Here,” later covered by Yes in 2011, and The Frames’ “Say It to Me Now,” later re-recorded by band frontman Glen Hansard for the soundtrack to the acclaimed Once, in which he starred in 2007) appear on the second. That disc also includes three unreleased tracks by Nasty Rox, Inc., Das Psycho Rangers and The Art of Noise with guest raps by acclaimed MC Rakim.

The Organization of Pop, for now, is actually exclusive to the U.S., making it one of the first ZTT titles released in the States under their new licensing deal with Razor & Tie. A “London version,” entitled (what else?) The Organisation of Pop, has been promised by the label in 2014, along with another volume of The Art of the 12″ and a CD/DVD edition of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood compilation Frankie Said.

Expect The Organization of Pop in stores October 15. The Amazon U.S. link and track list (courtesy of Slicing Up Eyeballs) are after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 17, 2013 at 12:30

Somebody Told Me The Killers Were Releasing a Compilation

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Direct HitsOne of the more notable mainstream rock bands of the 2000s, The Killers, is releasing their first greatest hits compilation.

Direct Hits collects 13 of the Las Vegas band’s best loved songs and adds two new tracks: “Shot At the Night,” produced by French electronic duo M83, and “Just Another Girl,” produced by longtime collaborator Stuart Price (who’s remixed many of their singles under the pseudonym Jacques Lu Cont/The Thin White Duke). A deluxe version adds three more tracks: “Be Still,” from their most recent album Battle Born (2012); the original demo for 2004 hit “Mr. Brightside” and a remix of 2006’s “When You Were Young” by Scottish producer Calvin Harris. Finally, a U.K. super deluxe version will add a DVD documentary and all of the single tracks on five 10″ records.

When The Killers burst onto the scene with Hot Fuss in 2004, critics were quick to hail their revivalist New Wave/post-punk sound and hooky dance-rock tracks like “Somebody Told Me,” “Mr. Brightside” and “All These Things That I’ve Done.” Follow-up Sam’s Town, which took influence from Bruce Springsteen and U2, remains one of the genre’s most polarizing follow-ups (no thanks to frontman Brandon Flowers telling the press it was “one of the best albums in the past 20 years” and “the album that keeps rock & roll afloat”), but the band’s commercial fortunes as an album and touring act have rarely struggled since, particularly in England, where all four of their studio albums have shot to the top of the charts.

Direct Hits will be out on November 11. Pre-order links are not yet available, but the track list (courtesy of NME) is below.

Direct Hits (Island, 2013)

  1. Mr Brightside
  2. Somebody Told Me
  3. Smile Like You Mean It
  4. All These Things That I’ve Done
  5. When You Were Young
  6. Read My Mind
  7. For Reasons Unknown
  8. Human
  9. Spaceman
  10. A Dustland Fairytale
  11. Runaways
  12. Miss Atomic Bomb
  13. The Way It Was
  14. Shot At the Night *
  15. Just Another Girl *
  16. Mr Brightside (Original Demo) **
  17. When You Were Young (Calvin Harris Remix) **
  18. Be Still **

Tracks 1-4 from Hot Fuss (Island, 2004)
Tracks 5-7 from Sam’s Town (Island, 2006)
Tracks 8-10 from Day & Age (Island, 2008)
Tracks 11-13 and 18 from Battle Born (Island, 2012)
* new track
** new/deluxe edition track

Written by Mike Duquette

September 17, 2013 at 11:50

He Left His Heart In Las Vegas: Tony Bennett’s “Live at the Sahara: 1964” Arrives In October

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Tony Bennett - Live at the SaharaWhen Tony Bennett took the stage at Las Vegas’ Sahara on April 8, 1964 he was riding high.  Bennett was in the business of creating standards, after all.  During that seminal year, he released three studio albums immortalizing such songs as “When Joanna Loved Me,” “The Rules of the Road,” and “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me).”  Columbia Records recorded Bennett’s show live from the Sahara’s Congo Room, but the recording sat on the shelf until 2011 when it was included in Bennett’s Complete Collection box set.  Now, roughly two years after the release of that box, Columbia, RPM and Legacy Recordings are granting Live at the Sahara: Las Vegas 1964 a standalone release in CD and digital formats, due October 8.  It follows the recent release of Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962, which preserves for posterity a remarkable 1962 performance from Bennett and jazz great Dave Brubeck.

Accompanied by longtime musical director Ralph Sharon and his trio as well as Louis Basil’s orchestra, Bennett delivered a diverse set.  Three songs appropriately came from 1964’s Bennett/Sharon Trio collaborative LP When Lights are Low: Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s “The Rules of the Road” (previously recorded by the singer in 1961), Billy Mayhew’s “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie,” and Fats Waller’s classic “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”  Robert Emmett Dolan and Johnny Mercer’s showtune “I’m Way Ahead of the Game” from their short-lived musical Foxy was recorded for When Lights are Low but left unreleased until 2011.  Other selections were still fresh from Bennett’s two albums released in 1963.  From I Wanna Be Around…, Tony performed its title song by Johnny Mercer and Sadie Vimmerstedt – still one of his signatures today – as well as Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado).”  From This Is All I Ask, the Sahara audience heard the Al Jolson chestnut “Keep Smiling at Trouble (Trouble’s a Bubble)” and Tex Satterwhite and Frank Scott’s “The Moment of Truth.”  The latter song’s title was also featured on the Sahara’s marquee which proudly read, “The Moment of Truth – Tony Bennett” to trumpet the singer’s engagement.

After the jump: more about Live at the Sahara, including the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 17, 2013 at 10:06

Posted in News, Reissues, Tony Bennett

Release Round-Up: Week of September 17

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The Band - Academy of MusicThe Band, LIve at the Academy of Music: The Rock of Ages Concerts (Capitol/UMe)

This five-disc box set (four CDs and a DVD) features selections from The Band’s famed four-night run in New York in 1971. Though these shows would create the live Rock of Ages album, this box instead features highlights from the shows on two discs (including guest appearances by Bob Dylan), another two discs of the complete soundboard mix of the final concert on New Year’s Eve 1971, and a DVD with 5.1 surround mixes and newly-discovered film of two of those performances.

4CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD highlights: Amazon U.S.

Sunshine Daydream packshotGrateful Dead, Sunshine Daydream (Rhino)

One of the most sought-after Dead shows, from the summer of 1972, is released in full on CD and in 5.1 surround sound.

3CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. deluxe version with 40-page booklet and Grateful Days documentary: DVD / BD
4LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Alternate MonroMatt MonroAlternate Monro (Parlophone U.K.)

Twenty-seven alternate takes of classic songs from the underrated British crooner. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

I Robot Legacy EditionThe Alan Parsons Project, I Robot: Legacy Edition (Arista/Legacy)

The Alan Parsons Project’s sophomore album (and first for Arista) featured the band’s second Top 40 hit, “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” amid a narrative structure on artificial intelligence. This Legacy Edition features a bonus disc with all the tracks from the 2007 reissue plus even more bonus material.

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

Roy Orbison In DreamsRoy Orbison, In Dreams: Greatest Hits (Legacy)

A rare example of acclaimed re-recorded versions of an artist’s earlier hits! In Dreams, first released in 1987 after Orbison’s unexpected popularity boost by way of Blue Velvet, was the catalyst to a remarkable comeback for the Big O – one that lasted well beyond his sudden passing in 1988. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Pablo ReissuesDizzy Gillespie, Dizzy Gillespie’s Big 4 / Zoot Sims, Zoot Sims and The Gershwin Brothers / Art Tatum, The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces Volume 1 / Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, The Ellington Suites / Oscar Peterson and Stephane Grappelli, Skol (Original Jazz Classics)

Five titles originally released on the Pablo Records label and featuring some of the century’s biggest names in jazz are reissued on CD; all but the Tatum title have been expanded with unreleased material!

Dizzy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Zoot: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Tatum: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Duke: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Oscar: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Glen Campbell ICON ChristmasGlen Campbell, ICON Christmas (Capitol/UMe)

Typically, news of an ICON title gets flung into the sun; however, this disc features, for the first time on CD, Campbell’s 1968 album That Christmas Feeling. The product line comes through! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)