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Archive for October 14th, 2013

Omnivore Re-Joins Jellyfish Fan Club with Unreleased Radio Performances

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Radio JellyfishFans of eternally underrated power-pop outfit Jellyfish have had nothing but friends over at Omnivore Recordings. The label first released the band’s two studio albums, Bellybutton and Spilt Milk, on vinyl. Then there was the unreleased Live At Bogart’s and the Stack-a-Tracks compilation, which featured mostly-instrumental mixes of the two albums uncovered from the vaults.

Now, Omnivore prepares Radio Jellyfish, a ten-track compilation of radio broadcasts recorded two decades ago. All but one of the tracks are presented here for the first time (one first surfaced on a long out-of-print Jellyfish box set from 2002), and paint another clear picture of just what an impressive band Jellyfish were, live in studio.

In 1993, Jellyfish released their sophomore album, Spilt Milk, with a slightly modified lineup that included returning members Andy Stuermer (vocals/drums) and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (vocals/keyboards) and new members Tim Smith (bass) and Eric Dover (guitar) in place of the departed Jason Falkner (and, in concert, bassist Chris Manning and second guitarist Niko Wenner). Spilt Milk was a more elaborate affair than even its densely-packed predecessor, with tracks like “The Ghost At Number One,” “New Mistake” and “Joining a Fan Club” featuring even more complex arrangements and overdubs.

While Jellyfish were no stranger to replicating these big sounds in concert, the two broadcasts included on Radio Jellyfish – one recorded in The Netherlands, one in Australia – showcase a band happily playing to the “unplugged” style of the rock world (the live acoustic MTV series was arguably at the peak of its popularity). But even stripped-down Jellyfish has the same qualities you love about the band proper, from hooky melodies to chill-inducing vocals. With selections ranging from both of their albums, and two covers to boot (The Move’s “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” and Badfinger’s “No Matter What”), this disc is shaping up to be another pleasant sting from Omnivore in the ever-increasing Jellyfish discography.

Radio Jellyfish streets on December 10. Hit the jump to preorder your copy (on CD or vinyl) and check out the track list!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 14, 2013 at 12:15

Posted in Jellyfish, News, Reissues, Vinyl

In A Sentimental Mood: Pablo Expands Sarah Vaughan’s “Ellington Songbooks”

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Sarah Vaughan - Sophisticated LadyOver a long recording career encompassing roughly ten labels and 45 years, “Divine One” Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990) followed her muse wherever it led.  That meant she might record an album of poetry by Pope John Paul II one day (1984’s The Planet is Alive…Let It Live!) and bossa nova with Sergio Mendes the nest day (1987’s Brazilian Romance, recently reissued as part of Legacy’s Complete Columbia Albums Collection, or a Beatles anthology (1977’s Songs of the Beatles, belatedly released in 1981) followed by a couple of volumes of The Duke Ellington Song Book (1979 and 1980).  Whether jazz, blues, soul, or pop, however, Vaughan created music that was distinctly “Sassy.”  Those tributes to Edward Kennedy Ellington (1899-1974), originally released on Norman Granz’s Pablo label, were in the tradition of past salutes to George and Ira Gershwin (1957), Irving Berlin (1957), Henry Mancini (1965) and Michel Legrand (1972).  Granz surrounded Vaughan with the jazz elite plucked from Pablo’s roster and elsewhere, including Joe Pass, Zoot Sims, Bucky Pizzarelli, Jimmy Rowles, Grady Tate, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, and Andy Simpkins.  The Duke Ellington Song Books One and Two have been brought together for Pablo’s 40th anniversary series as Sophisticated Lady: The Duke Ellington Songbook Collection, and as a bonus, the new 2-CD set includes six tracks from a previously unreleased session arranged by the great composer and multi-instrumentalist Benny Carter.

In the exemplary and comprehensive new liner notes by Tad Hershorn, Gary Giddins’ 1978 review of Vaughan’s Pablo release How Long Has This Been Going On?  is quoted: “It will be interesting to see if she continues to work with producer Norman Granz, because if he parades the entire Pablo stock company through her sessions (including one hopes, a set of Benny Carter arrangements), he will be mining the most valuable lode since Ella Fitzgerald discovered songbooks.”  That set of Carter arrangements is finally here, premiering for the first time on Sophisticated Lady.  It seems that Vaughan began work on the project with Carter but refused their release allegedly because Granz hadn’t included space for her then-husband, trumpeter Waymon Reed, to solo.  During the same August 15, 1979 Hollywood session during which she recorded the Carter charts, Vaughan recorded three of the same songs (“Solitude,” “Day Dream” and “Sophisticated Lady”) in arrangements by trombonist Billy Byers, also a Broadway orchestrator of some note (City of Angels, A Chorus Line).  Recording continued in August and September 1979 in Hollywood and New York, with Vaughan alternating between Byers’ orchestra and a small group, concluding in January 1980 with two small group dates.  Vaughan tackled many of the most famous songs in the Ellington canon during these sessions – among them “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good),” “In a Sentimental Mood,” “I Didn’t Know About You” and “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart.”

Hit the jump for more details, including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 14, 2013 at 10:30