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Archive for October 4th, 2013

Review: The Paley Brothers, “The Complete Recordings”

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Paley Brothers - CompleteIf The Brill Building had survived as the fulcrum of pop songwriting activity through the 1970s, chances are that Andy and Jonathan Paley would have been found in a cubicle there, turning out one infectious pop nugget after another like “Come Out and Play” and “Here Comes My Baby.”  As it turned out, the category-defying Paley Brothers were men out of time.  Singers as well as songwriters, they were signed to the Sire Records roster between the Ramones and Talking Heads, and managed to bridge the gap between Shaun Cassidy and, say, The Patti Smith Group.  After one EP, one LP, and some one-offs, however, The Paley Brothers disappeared.  Andy and Jonathan stayed in the music biz, with Andy notably working with Brian Wilson and overseeing film and television soundtracks from Dick Tracy to Spongebob Squarepants while Jonathan produced bands including the Dogmatics and Shrapnel.  Real Gone Music has just compiled the definitive anthology of the brief but blazing career of Andy and Jonathan as The Paley Brothers – The Complete Recordings.  This 26-track, non-chronologically arranged compendium, with 11 never-before-heard songs including one produced by Phil Spector, is one of the most deliciously upbeat releases of the year.  The Paley Brothers used the music of their own heroes as a jumping-off point, but created memorable songs that have earned their own place in the canon.  And now those songs can come out from the underground.

Jimmy Iovine (Bruce Springsteen, American Idol) helmed the Sire debut of the Paleys, a four-track EP recorded in a small New Jersey studio in 1976.  All four tracks from that EP are reprised on The Complete Recordings, and they’re treats one and all.  The Paleys let the stylistic hallmarks of their forebears come through loud and clear, but their two-part harmony and rawer sound kept them from descending into mere pastiche.  And so “Come Out and Play,” with Roy Bittan of the E Street Band on piano, plays like a marriage of Brian Wilson, Neil Sedaka and The Vogues.  “Rendezvous,” on which Bittan also appeared, is a Beach Boys twist on the Spector sound – and the Paleys would return to that well many times, each with creative and affectionate results.  (The legendary Beach Boy leader’s influence on the Paley Brothers’ ouevre is particularly apparent in the vocal phrasing.)  “Hide and Seek,” with its wailing saxophone, touches on Spector while also evoking The Rascals of “A Girl Like You.”  Its bubblegum lyrics (“Tried to remember baby way back when/I was eleven, you were ten/You and me, we were so carefree/Each and every day, all we’d do is play hide and seek!”) are rendered with what must have been a refreshing lack of irony.  Thanks to a rambunctious guitar, “Ecstasy” is the hardest-rocking of the quartet of songs, but its effortless melody and bright, teenager-in-love lyrics keep it light.  (“Come Out and Play” was written by both Paleys; Andy composed “Hide and Seek” and “Rendezvous” solo, and “Ecstasy” was the work of Billy Connors.)

Earle Mankey (Sparks, The Runaways, The Three O’Clock) was selected to produce The Paley Brothers’ 1978 full-length Sire debut.  Jonathan and Eric Rose played guitar, Andy handled keyboards and harmonica, Jan Uvena played drums, and Jim Haslip and Leigh Foxx shared bass duties.  Adding a layer of verisimilitude, the album was recorded at The Beach Boys’ Brother Studios.  Every track from The Paley Brothers is represented on The Complete Recordings, but fans and collectors alike should know that they’re included in never-before-released alternate takes or mixes – not in the original album versions.  Mankey didn’t dissuade the brothers from their well-crafted homages, but brought out the originality in their compositions, too.  The relatively stripped-down instrumentation married to sunny, hook-filled melodies and youthful lyrics lent The Paleys a distinct sound in the mid- to late-seventies rock landscape.

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Written by Joe Marchese

October 4, 2013 at 13:30

Intrada Conjures Up Magic, “Miracle”; Kritzerland Returns to “Alien Nation”

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Alien NationThis week has seen some great archival soundtrack releases courtesy of Intrada and Kritzerland – all featuring some big names in the film score world.

Kritzerland’s latest title is already shaping up to be a hot one: a greatly expanded double-score reissue from the cult classic Alien Nation. This 1988 film featured James Caan and Mandy Patinkin as partnered cops in a future Los Angeles where a race of aliens, called Newcomers, have landed on Earth and have done their best to fit in with our planet’s culture. The catch, of course, is that Patinkin is the first Newcomer detective on the LAPD. The unlikely pair eventually have to solve a case that takes them into the criminal underbelly of the Newcomer culture. The film was successful enough to spin off a short-lived TV series, five subsequent TV movies and a host of comics and novels.

The music of Alien Nation has an intriguing pedigree: Jerry Goldsmith originally wrote a strongly thematic, electronic-dominated score for the film before it was significantly re-edited. Composer Curt Sobel stepped in to record a new, somewhat darker and noir-inspired score, while Goldsmith reused his Alien Nation theme for the 1990 spy film The Russia House. (The theme was in fact rejected once before, for Oliver Stone’s Wall Street.)

While Varese Sarabande released Goldsmith’s score years back, Kritzerland’s double-disc set remasters and presents both scores, with Sobel’s appearing on CD for the first time anywhere. (The score on this release was prepared in part from a cancelled album.) Limited to 1,200 copies (and likely selling fast), Alien Nation is shipping now.

After the jump, find out what Intrada’s scared up from Elmer Bernstein and The Walt Disney Company!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 4, 2013 at 12:04