The Second Disc

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Archive for October 16th, 2013

Happy Hearts: The Four King Cousins Return With “More Today Than Yesterday”

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Four King Cousins - More TodayIn those halcyon days of television variety, when ABC’s The Hollywood Palace rubbed shoulders with CBS’s The Ed Sullivan Show, it wasn’t hard to spot the music-making King Family.  After all, the ensemble was more than 30 members strong, consisting of big band sweethearts The King Sisters, guitarist Alvino Rey, and some 32 brothers, sisters, children, wives, aunts and uncles.  Following much-talked-about appearances on Hollywood Palace, The King Family went on to headline its own variety show for the network, first from January 1965 to January 1966, and then from March to September 1969.   The family also starred in 17 syndicated specials, guested on talk and game shows, and recorded a number of albums for Warner Bros. Records (reissued a few years back by the Collectors’ Choice label).  It wasn’t long before The Four King Cousins – daughters of The King Sisters – spun off from the larger unit.  Sisters Tina Cole (lead singer and star of television’s My Three Sons) and Cathy Cole Green, and their cousins Candy Conkling Brand and Carolyn Thomas Cameron, came into their own.  Today, the winsome quartet with the exquisitely sparkling harmonies is back together. A retrospective concert is scheduled for November 6 at Hollywood’s Catalina Jazz Club, and a new CD of never-before-released archival recordings, More Today Than Yesterday: Classic Songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s (Polly O. Entertainment, no cat. no., 2013) is now available.

The group actually began life as The Five King Cousins when they appeared on NBC’s summer version of the famous Kraft Music Hall in 1966, but when Jamie Conkling left the group to pursue her education, Five became Four.  In 1968, The Four King Cousins signed to Capitol Records, where The King Sisters had recorded memorable music a decade earlierIntroducing The Four King Cousins was produced, arranged and conducted by another King cousin – Lex de Azevedo, son of King Sister Alyce King Clarke.  His diverse credits included The Human Beinz, The Outsiders, and Laurindo Almeida, and for his cousins, he styled a soft-pop gem that compares favorably to the genre’s most enjoyable records.  That album found the Four King Cousins applying their smooth and bright four-part harmonies to breezily orchestrated songs from the contemporary songbook by Bacharach and David (“This Guy’s in Love with You,” “Walk On By”), Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Liebling (Lesley Gore’s hit “California Nights”), The Beatles (“Here, There and Everywhere,” “Good Day Sunshine”) and The Beach Boys (“God Only Knows”).  It may be most notable for including fine renditions of two songs composed by one of sunshine pop’s rightful high priests, Roger Nichols of Small Circle of Friends fame: “Love So Fine” with lyrics by Tony Asher and “I Fell” with lyrics by Paul Williams.

The cousins maintained a busy slate of television and live appearances including performances at Walt Disney World’s oft-remembered Top of the World nightspot, and recorded another album for the Japanese market in 1976 (The Way We Were, on the Playboy/Trio Records label).  But other than the now-out-of-print reissue of Introducing The Four King Cousins on Cherry Red’s él label in 2006 and a Japanese release from the same year, the group has been largely overlooked in the CD era.  That disc now commands high prices secondhand, but you can hear a number of songs from the same vintage on the new collection More Today Than Yesterday.

Hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 16, 2013 at 14:38

UPDATE: Real Gone Music Is “Obsessed” With Late November Slate, Featuring Animals Box Set and Live Tower of Power

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Animals - Mickie Most YearsReal Gone Music’s November 25 release slate is so packed that the label has decided to roll it out a few titles at a time.  The label is kicking things off for the pre-Thanksgiving rush with some soulful Southern rock, a hidden gem from one of the stars of 20 Feet from Stardom, a slab of metal, a previously unissued live concert from the soulful horn band Tower of Power, and a 5-CD box set from the pride of Newcastle upon Tyne, The Animals!

Real Gone is going wild with perhaps its most ambitious title yet – a deluxe box set!  A project of ABKCO Records through Real Gone, The Animals’ 5-CD The Mickie Most Years and More celebrates the music of Eric Burdon, Alan Price, Chas Chandler, Hilton Valentine and John Steel, plus later additions Dave Rowberry and Barry Jenkins.  The Mickie Most Years contains the soulful rockers’ first four U.S. albums plus bonus tracks and an original 4-track EP.  Three of these were produced by Most (1938-2003), also known for his work with artists such as Donovan, Lulu and Herman’s Hermits.  Each one of these four original albums – The Animals (1964), The Animals on Tour (1965), Animal Tracks (1965) and Animalization (1966) – has been transferred by remastering engineer Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering from the original first generation mono tapes.  In addition, each album contains an assortment of bonus tracks including four tracks never before released in the U.S., unique single versions of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “I’m Gonna Change The World,” and “Roadrunner,” a UK-only track.  Another bonus is the complete 4-track EP I Just Wanna Make Love to You, originally issued in 1963 on the Graphic Sound label.  This EP was later reissued by Decca in the U.K. as In the Beginning There Was Early AnimalsRolling Stone Senior Editor and music historian David Fricke contributes new liner notes to each CD, and the box set also includes an Animals T-shirt (size XL, 100% cotton).

Tower of Power - LiveOakland, California’s Tower of Power has more than lived up to its name over the past 40+ years.  The horn band’s soulful and funky R&B grooves have enlivened over 20 studio and live albums plus countless appearances with other artists from Elton John to the Grateful Dead and everybody in between.  Tower of Power scored its commercial breakthrough with its third, self-titled album, originally released in May 1973.  The album spawned three hit singles, “So Very Hard to Go,” “What is Hip?” and “This Time It’s Real.”  Of course, the band wasn’t going anywhere, and was unquestionably hip – for real.  In May 1974, T.O.P. entered the studios of Long Island’s progressive-minded WLIR-FM for a live, in-studio set.  Now, nearly forty years later, Real Gone Music is issuing that blazing concert on 2 CDs.  The performance on Hipper Than Hip came on the heels of the band’s fourth album Back to Oakland, and includes such favorites as “So Very Hard to Go,” “You’re Still a Young Man,” “Time Will Tell” and of course, “What is Hip?” with Lenny Williams on vocals.  Real Gone’s package includes a booklet with photographs and new liner notes from R&B historian Leo Sacks.

Lisa Fischer - So IntenseIn recent months, we’ve seen reissued music from a number of the top-tier background vocalists featured in Morgan Neville’s acclaimed documentary 20 Feet from StardomDarlene Love, Merry Clayton, and Claudia Lennear (the latter on Real Gone).  Now, Lisa Fischer can be added to that list.  Fischer won a Grammy Award for her R&B chart-topping 1991 single “How Can I Ease the Pain,” but soon retreated from the solo spotlight in favor of her stellar background singing career.  Fischer has performed and toured with artists as diverse as The Rolling Stones, Sting, Tina Turner, and Nine Inch Nails, but fans haven’t forgotten her sole 1991 solo album on the Elektra label, So Intense.  Real Gone is revisiting So Intense, with productions by an A-list including Narada Michael Walden and Luther Vandross, in a deluxe edition expanded with five bonus tracks.  So Intense: Deluxe Edition, from one of Mick Jagger’s most frequent and favorite duet partners, includes new liner notes by Pat Thomas.

After the jump: head down to Muscle Shoals and beyond!  Plus: pre-order links and track listings for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 16, 2013 at 11:57

The “Lowdown” On Legacy’s Upcoming “Essential Boz Scaggs”

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Essential Boz ScaggsEarlier this year, Boz Scaggs returned from a five-year absence from the studio with Memphis, a collection celebrating classic southern soul like “Rainy Night in Georgia,” “Love on a Two Way Street” and “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl.”  In just a couple of weeks, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings will be celebrating Scaggs’ own music with the October 29 release of the 2-CD anthology The Essential Boz Scaggs.  This 32-song set draws on Scaggs’ landmark tenure at Columbia Records which yielded 1976’s Silk Degrees but also on his recordings for Atlantic, Virgin and 429 Records right up through Memphis.

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Scaggs made a splash on the first two albums by the Steve Miller Band before departing that group’s ranks to pursue solo fame.  1969’s Atlantic Records LP Boz Scaggs wasn’t his debut; that honor actually went to the all-but-forgotten, never-reissued Boz, which received a release in Sweden only in 1965.   But Boz Scaggs (co-produced by Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone) paired the singer-songwriter-guitarist with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and the great Duane Allman on guitar, and attracted enough attention to gain him a Columbia Records contract.  1971’s Moments began his association with Columbia, and its mellow brand of blue-eyed soul would lead to the 1976 breakthrough Silk Degrees.

Scaggs’ seventh overall album and fifth for Columbia, Silk handily bested the No. 81 chart placement of its predecessor Slow DancerSilk Degrees, produced by Joe Wissert with backing from future Toto men David Paich, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro and David Hungate, peaked at No. 2 and spent 115 weeks on the Billboard chart.  Three of its singles, “Lowdown,” “It’s Over” and “Lido Shuffle” all made the Top 40.  A fourth single, “What Can I Say,” barely missed that mark, with a No. 42 berth.  “Lowdown” netted Scaggs a Grammy Award, and the album’s closing song (and the B-side of two separate singles) “We’re All Alone” went on to receive numerous cover versions of which Rita Coolidge’s Adult Contemporary chart-topper was undoubtedly the most successful.  Scaggs’ winning streak continued with the platinum sellers Down Two Then Left (1977) and Middle Man (1980) as well as the No. 3 AC/No. 14 Pop single “Look What You’ve Done to Me” from the film Urban Cowboy.  “Look What You’ve Done to Me” – with backing vocals from Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles – and the Top 15 hit “Miss Sun” both appeared on 1980’s Hits! LP, and are reprised here.

What else will you find on The Essential?  Hit the jump for more details plus the track listing with discographical annotation and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 16, 2013 at 10:51

Caught in a Mosh, Again: Anthrax’s “Island Years” Features Classic LPs, Bonus Tracks Aplenty

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Anthrax Island Years boxInfluential thrash-metal band Anthrax were celebrated in the U.K. this week with The Island Years, a new budget box set combining four of their most notable albums, plus a bevy of bonus material.

The New York City-based quintet, dubbed one of metal’s “Big Four” alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, earned early accolades in the mid-1980s, signing to Island Records and garnering fans for their intense musical style and accessible, non-serious image. The band’s colorful MTV-style personalities (particularly rhythm guitarist and founding member Scott Ian, known to younger folks as a frequent talking head on VH-1 during the late ’90s and early ’00s) and pop cultural-influenced lyrics (a signature song, “I Am the Law,” was based on the catchphrase of comic book character Judge Dredd) only added to their appeal, as did their willingness to tackle unique musical horizons (a cover of Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time” was an early single, and the band’s embrace of hip-hop led to a name-check in Public Enemy’s iconic “Bring the Noise” – and, ultimately, a stunning duet version with the rap group in 1991).

While the band’s line-up has shifted back and forth over the years, Anthrax continues to record and tour, with much of the Island-era lineup (Ian, vocalist Joey Belladonna, bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante) still in the band, joined by guitarist Jonathan Donais earlier this year.

The Island Years collects the band’s four albums for the label: 1985’s Spreading the Disease, 1986’s Among the Living (featuring signature songs “Indians” and “Caught in a Mosh”), 1988’s State of Euphoria and 1991’s Persistence of Time. While none have been remastered for this set, the latter three all feature bonus tracks (Among the Living received a CD/DVD deluxe edition from UMe’s U.K. arm in 2009; all of those bonus tracks reappear here). Many of these B-sides and bonus cuts didn’t even see the light of day on the band’s 1991 compilation Attack of the Killer B’s, so this is a huge boon for fans of the group.

The box is available now (at a rather nice U.K. price) and can be ordered here. Hit the jump to check out the full track list!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 16, 2013 at 09:58

Posted in Anthrax, Box Sets, News, Reissues