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Archive for October 21st, 2013

Kritzerland Can’t “Wait” For Two Dave Grusin Premieres; “Moon” Swings With Billy May, Too!

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Heaven Can WaitFor more than fifty years, Robert David Grusin – or Dave Grusin, as he’s better known – has been making music to the tune of multiple Grammys and an Oscar, not to mention Golden Globes and various other honors.  Grusin has successfully scored for motion pictures and kept a busy profile in pop, soul and jazz, co-founding GRP Records and encouraging compact disc technology at the dawn of the era.  The Kritzerland label has visited the Grusin well before with releases of his scores to films as diverse as A Dry White Season, Mulholland Falls and Divorce American Style.  Now, Kritzerland is turning its attention to the world premiere soundtrack releases of two of the composer’s finest scores: 1978’s Heaven Can Wait, which netted Grusin an Oscar nomination, and 1984’s Racing with the Moon.  The latter also features a number of vintage songs arranged and conducted by one of Frank Sinatra’s go-to music men, Billy May.  With two scores on one CD, Heaven Can Wait/Racing with the Moon is available for pre-order now.

Based on Harry Segall’s original stage play of the same name previously lensed as 1941’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Heaven Can Wait told the story of football player Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) who is killed in an accident but returns to earth in the body of a millionaire thanks to his guardian angel (Buck Henry).  The comedy cleaned up when Oscar nominations arrived, receiving a whopping nine nods.  In addition to Grusin’s Original Score nomination, the film competed for Best Picture, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actor (Beatty), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Warden), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Dyan Cannon), and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.  Beatty co-wrote the screenplay with Elaine May and co-directed with Buck Henry, and the cast also included James Mason as the mysterious Mr. Jordan, Julie Christie and Charles Grodin.

Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel opines of Grusin’s work, “One of the key elements of the film that makes it work so well is Grusin’s score. Composers and directors have to decide how much music any film should have. In the case of Heaven Can Wait, Grusin wrote a short score – Beatty clearly didn’t want the film loaded with music from start to finish. In the end, there was only about fifteen minutes of original Grusin music used, but what music it is! It’s a testament to what Grusin wrote that it seems like there’s much more music in the film than there actually is. His main theme, the jaunty and captivating ‘Heaven Walk,’ is one of Grusin’s most memorable melodies – it’s used throughout and every time it appears it’s like having an old friend say hello. And then there is the gorgeous, simple, but hugely touching music for the romance of the Beatty and Christie characters.”  Newly mixed from the original 16-track masters housed at Paramount, Kritzerland’s Heaven Can Wait presentation is bolstered by seven bonus tracks, all outtakes and alternates.

It’s joined on one CD by Grusin’s Racing with the Moon which features a number of arrangements by the great Billy May (Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly with Me, Trilogy).  Hit the jump for more details, plus the complete track listings for both scores and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 21, 2013 at 14:12

Virgin Records Celebrates “40 Years of Disruptions” with New Compilation, Picture Discs

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Virgin 40Virgin Records, one of England’s most iconic labels, turns 40 this year – and they’re celebrating with a new compilation full of hits from their storied existence.

The Virgin label was largely the brainchild of one young businessman named Richard Branson. The London-born Branson began his career selling records by mail order and later opening a shop on Oxford Street. The Virgin label was blessed with early success thanks to a willingness to sign acts that major U.K. labels were keen to dismiss. This netted them a smash hit with their very first release, Mike Oldfield’s captivating instrumental “Tubular Bells,” as well as a place in cultural history as the label who’d ultimately made the strongest commitment to punk band The Sex Pistols, after EMI and A&M each dropped the band. (It was Virgin who’d pressed the commercial version of their No. 2 hit “God Save The Queen” as well as their sole studio album, Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols.)

The decades to come found Virgin succeeding with all sorts of genres: MTV-ready pop/rock (Culture Club, The Human League, The Spice Girls), groundbreaking alt-rock and New Wave (Simple Minds, XTC), multi-generational rock (Genesis and its two most famous frontmen, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins; The Rolling Stones, for a time) hip-hop and dance (Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry, Daft Punk, Massive Attack) and more, all the way up to the present (recent critical and commercial hits include tracks by Swedish House Mafia, Emili Sandé and CHVRCHES).

Branson would ultimately sell Virgin to EMI in 1992 to keep other parts of his business empire afloat; the iconoclastic entrepreneur found success in everything from air travel to publishing to music festivals (Europe’s V Festival) to record stores (the late Virgin Megastores) to mobile phones to…well, even more interesting stuff (Branson plans to be aboard the inaugural Virgin Galactic flight – a commercial space trip – this year.) The label continues to exist, now of course under the Universal Music Group family.

Virgin Records: 40 Years of Disruptions plans to honor the label’s indomitable spirit across two discs, along with a bonus EP of current Virgin artists covering some classic tracks, including cuts by John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack and others. The set is in stores today, amid a swath of exhibitions in honor of the label around the U.K. area. The label is also selling a handful of their most beloved titles, including singles and albums, as limited edition vinyl titles (many of which are picture discs). The full list is available at Universal’s Uvinyl page.

As always, you can check out the track list and buy the set after the jump.

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“Smile”: Laura Nyro’s 1976 Album Returns To CD From Iconoclassic

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Laura Nyro - SmileIconoclassic Records is giving fans of the late Laura Nyro a reason to Smile with tomorrow’s expanded reissue of the singer-songwriter’s 1976 album of the same name.  Smile marked Nyro’s return to music after a four-year hiatus following her Gamble and Huff-produced Philly soul gem Gonna Take a Miracle. This reissue – which appends three bonus tracks receiving their first domestic release – is the latest in Iconoclassic’s impressive series which also includes reissues of Season of Lights (1977), Nested (1978) and A Mother’s Spiritual (1984).

Much had changed for Laura Nyro since the R&B-flavored LaBelle collaboration Gonna Take a Miracle.  She married and divorced David Bianchini, and during the recording of Smile, was faced with the death of her mother from ovarian cancer, the same disease that would take her own life two decades later. Despite these challenges and heartaches, Nyro sounded to be in relatively content territory on much of Smile. Charlie Calello, with whom she had worked on 1968’s Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, returned as producer for the first time in almost a decade, and she brought a clutch of new, timely, and intensely personal compositions to the studio.

This time, the prevailing sound was jazz-influenced, with the Brecker Brothers, Will Lee, Hugh McCracken and Rick Marotta among the players. The result made Nyro sound a bit like Joni Mitchell to casual listeners, despite the fact that Nyro’s earliest pop/jazz forays predated the famous Canadian’s. It was impossible to hear the albums’ opening cut, Moments cover “Sexy Mama” (the album’s lone song not written by Nyro), and not hear a bit of Court and Spark.  But elsewhere, Smile couldn’t have been mistaken for anything but the work of the boundary-breaking, genre-bending Laura Nyro.  She’s playful adopting the voice of a rather perceptive feline in “The Cat-Song,” heartbroken but guardedly optimistic on “Stormy Love,” and wounded but stronger on the ironically upbeat “Money,” likely a jab at her former manager David Geffen.  “Midnite Blue” is a love song likely aimed at then-boyfriend Greg Bennett; the impressionistic and musically spellbinding “I Am the Blues,” on the other hand, builds on its lyrical conceit with a variety of evocative images.

After the jump: more details including the full track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 21, 2013 at 10:20

Posted in Laura Nyro, News, Reissues

Their Feet Keep Dancing: Rhino U.K. Updates CHIC Compilation, Plans Triple-Disc Disco Set

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Up All Night Disco EditionRhino U.K. is bringing disco back with a new triple-disc compilation of dance classics, and an updated reissue of a successful compilation released earlier this year.

First up, Rhino’s reissuing the new Nile Rodgers/CHIC compilation Up All Night. The double-disc set, originally compiled by Wayne A. Dickson of Big Break Records and mastered by Dickson and BBR engineer Nick Robbins, with liner notes from Christian John Wikane, was released in July to capitalize on Rodgers’ highly enjoyable wave of success this year. (The legendary guitarist/producer played and co-wrote several tracks on Daft Punk’s critically-acclaimed album Random Access Memories, including international chart-topper “Get Lucky,” and played several key dates in Europe. Since then, CHIC has been once again nominated for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

Up All Night: The Disco Edition features a slightly rearranged track list, with several lesser-known hits dropped in favor of five newly-added tracks: the CHIC-produced “Frankie” by Sister Sledge; two Rodgers-produced ’80s hits (Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and Duran Duran’s “The Reflex”), a megamix of CHIC Organization tracks and a live cut from Rodgers’ performance at the Glastonbury Festival this summer.

12%22 Disco CollectionThe fine folks at Big Break (Dickson along with compiler Malcolm McKenzie) have also produced another forthcoming discofied Rhino set: 12″ Disco: The Collection compiles 34 tracks – mostly from the Warner Bros., Elektra, T.K. and Atlantic vaults, naturally – including four cuts that have never been released on CD before. In addition to CHIC and Sister Sledge, tracks from Chaka Khan, The Trammps, Ben E. King, The Spinners, Change, George McCrae and Narada Michael Walden are all featured herein.

12″ Disco: The Collection is available in U.K. shops today, while Up All Night: The Disco Edition is out next Monday, October 28. Pre-order links, full track lists and U.K. discographical info for both titles can be found after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 21, 2013 at 08:32