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Archive for October 8th, 2013

This Time They’ll Be Sweeter: SoulMusic Label Reissues Marlena Shaw, Angela Bofill Gems

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Marlena Shaw - Just a Matter of TimeFor two of its most recent releases, Cherry Red’s SoulMusic Records imprint has turned its attention to two soulful divas who have already called the label home.  SoulMusic’s reissue series for Marlena Shaw and Angela Bofill have continued with Just a Matter of Time and Intuition, respectively.

Whether singing jazz, funk, blues, pop, or some combination thereof, Marlena Shaw has always sounded right at home.  Signed to Chess Records in 1967 on the strength of a successful stint performing at Chicago’s Playboy Club, Shaw established herself with the albums Out of Different Bags and The Spice of Life.  Variety really was Shaw’s spice of life as she demonstrated with repertoire ranging from Brill Building pop (“Go Away Little Boy,” “Looking Through the Eyes of Love”) to harder-edged funk (“Woman of the Ghetto”).  Coming off a stint singing with the Count Basie band, Shaw signed to Blue Note Records in 1971.  She would remain at Blue Note for five albums including two already reissued by SoulMusic: 1973’s From the Depths of My Soul and 1975’s unforgettably-titled Who is This Bitch Anyway?.  Just a Matter of Time (1976) was her swansong for Blue Note and like its predecessors touched on a variety of styles save pure jazz.  As Shaw reveals in A. Scott Galloway’s new liner notes, “I was so excited about being on the [Blue Note] label thinking I was going to be singing standards but everybody was looking for a hit…they would talk about all the wonderfulness of jazz and ‘oh, you’re such a dynamic scatter,’ but they didn’t want me scattin’ on no records!”

So while Shaw didn’t scat, she did deliver scorching vocals on the album’s ten tracks, most of which were infused with various strains of R&B from Philly-style soul to disco.  Producers Bert DeCoteaux and Tony Silvester crafted the LP around a varied group of songs with differing histories.  Opening track “It’s Better Than Walking Out” was in a disco-flavored bag, and has the distinction of being the first track remixed for a 12-inch single by Blue Note.  Gwen Guthrie, no slouch as a singer herself, and Patrick Grant contributed “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter” and “Think About Me.”  The former has become a soulful staple, also recorded by Linda Lewis, Roberta Flack, Martha Reeves, Angela Bofill and Deniece Williams, among others.  Southern soul greats Bettye Crutcher and Frederick Knight wrote “Take My Body” and “Be for Real,” respectively.  Benard Ighner, producer of Who is This Bitch Anyway and a prime contributor to Carmen McRae’s 1975 Blue Note outing I Am Music, crafted “Sing to Me” expressly for Shaw.  Joe Jefferson and Charles Simmons’ “Love Has Gone Away” was first recorded by The Spinners and gets an earthy makeover here.  (Interestingly, Frederick Knight’s “Be for Real” has more of a Philly feel due to its electric sitar part.)

The extended 12-inch mix of “It’s Better Than Walking Out” has been added to It’s Just a Matter of Time, and the album has been remastered by Alan Wilson.  Marlena Shaw continued working with Bert DeCoteaux throughout the next chapter of her great career, at Columbia Records.  Her three albums there have also been reissued on CD by Big Break Records (Sweet Beginnings, Acting Up) and SoulMusic (Take a Bite).

After the jump, check out Angela Bofill’s Intuition!  Plus: order links and track listings for both CDs! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 8, 2013 at 10:30

Release Round-Up: Week of October 8

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Tony Bennett - Live at the SaharaTony Bennett, Live At The Sahara: Las Vegas 1964 (RPM/Columbia/Legacy)

Previously exclusive to The Complete Collection box set, Bennett’s first headlining act in Sin City is now available for standalone purchase. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Electricity by Candlelight_ NYC 2_13_97Alex Chilton, Electricity by Candlelight: NYC 2/13/97 (Bar None)

The late Big Star frontman had a talent that not even a power outage at New York’s Knitting Factory could blot out, as this spontaneous, covers-heavy release showcases. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Kinks - Muswell Hillbillies DeluxeThe Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies: Deluxe Edition (Sanctuary)

The Kinks’ ninth album (and first originally recorded for RCA) gets a two-disc reissue worthy of any 20th century man you might know. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Barbra Streisand - Classic ChristmasAlabama/Johnny Cash/Neil Diamond/George Jones & Tammy Wynette/Gladys Knight & The Pips/Martina McBride/Barbra Streisand/Andy Williams, The Classic Christmas Album (Legacy)

Following the success of last year’s wave of mid-priced holiday compilations, another eight are coming to fill your stockings with Christmas cheer.

Alabama: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Johnny Cash: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Neil Diamond: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
George Jones & Tammy Wynette: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Gladys Knight & The Pips: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Martina McBride: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Barbra Streisand: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Andy Williams: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

CBGB SoundtrackVarious Artists, CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Omnivore)

This 20-track compilation for the new film about the legendary New York club features some of the biggest bands who played that stage, plus a recording by founder Hilly Krystal and a new version of Blondie’s “Sunday Girl.” (Rhino will distribute a digital version in the future with exclusive tracks.)

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