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Happy New Year: Real Gone Ushers In 2014 With Blood, Sweat & Tears, Grateful Dead, More

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Blood Sweat and Tears - SinglesReal Gone Music is hoping to make you so very happy with its first release slate of 2014!  On January 7, the Real Goners compile for the very first time The Complete Columbia Singles of jazz-rock pioneers Blood Sweat & Tears, offer up The Complete Atlantic Recordings of the soul great Bettye Swann (“Make Me Yours”), unearth another vintage Grateful Dead show, and recover the lone long-player of R&B singer-songwriter Samuel Jonathan Johnson.

Despite 1968’s strong debut Child is Father of the Man, with Al Kooper as chief songwriter, Blood, Sweat & Tears quickly parted ways with founding members Kooper, Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss. Just months later, the group re-emerged with a new, self-titled album, adding Lew Soloff, Jerry Hyman, Chuck Winfield and Canadian lead vocalist David Clayton-Thomas to the mix. (Bobby Colomby, Steve Katz, Jim Fielder, Dick Halligan and Fred Lipsius all remained in the band.) Blood, Sweat & Tears, produced by James William Guercio (The Buckinghams, Chicago), rocketed the band to superstardom with the hit singles “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and “And When I Die.” And Clayton-Thomas quickly established himself as a contender for the title of best blue-eyed soul vocalist out there.  Real Gone’s 2-CD set The Complete Columbia Singles offers all three of those smashes in their original mono mixes, plus 29 more single sides (five of which are making their CD debuts) all in original 45 RPM versions.  The first eight tracks are in mono; the remaining cuts are in stereo.

Blood, Sweat & Tears was a platinum-selling, Grammy-winning Album of the Year. But inner turmoil still plagued the band. 1970’s follow-up Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 also reached No. 1, but following 1971’s fourth album, Clayton-Thomas, Halligan and Lipsius all departed for greener pastures. Clayton-Thomas was back in the fold by 1975, but the time for Blood, Sweat & Tears had passed. The band continued to record, with diminishing returns, despite the presence of well-known producers including Steve Tyrell, Bob James, Henry Cosby and Jimmy Ienner. BS&T’s final studio album for Columbia was released in 1976.  Producer Ed Osborne’s new liner notes include recollections from founding member Steve Katz, and the entire set has been remastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios in NYC.  The Complete Columbia Singles looks to be a definitive anthology from one of the most underrated bands of the era.

After the jump: a look at the rest of the Real Gone line-up, plus pre-order links for all titles!

Bettye Swann - AtlanticThe complete treatment also goes to Bettye Swann.  The Louisiana-born singer first made a splash with the 1967 R&B chart-topper “Make Me Yours” on the Money label, and spent a couple of years at Capitol records before beginning a nearly five-year stint at perhaps the industry’s premier soul label: Atlantic Records.  The Complete Atlantic Recordings, produced for Real Gone and SoulMusic Records by the latter label’s David Nathan, presents 23 tracks – the entirety of Swann’s Atlantic period.  These tracks encompass seven singles (including R&B chart hits “Victim of a Foolish Heart” and “Today I Started Loving You Again”), two tracks only issued on U.K. compilations, both sides of a duet single with Sam Dees (whose Atlantic release The Show Must Go On was also recently reissued by Real Gone), and five previously unreleased cuts.  Charles Waring writes the new notes, which draw on quotes from Bettye Swann.

Samuel Jonathan JohnsonIn the same soulful vein comes My Music, the one and only Columbia Records album of Samuel Jonathan Johnson.  Produced in association with Chicago retailer Dusty Groove, this reissue of the original 1978 album reintroduces eight Johnson originals plus his recordings of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “What the World Needs Now is Love” and Patricia Johnson Wiggins’ “You.”  Samuel Jonathan Johnson plays keyboards on this alternately mellow and funky fusion affair, which now features new liner notes from his daughter Yolanda Johnson and remastering by Maria Triana at Battery Studios.  Real Gone compares this album to the work of Johnson’s contemporaries Roy Ayers and Norman Connors, so chances are you’ll want to sample its spacey sounds for yourself.

Grateful Dead - Dicks Picks 10Finally, Real Gone returns to the catalogue of the one and only Grateful Dead with an out-of-order volume of the legendary band’s Dick’s Picks live series.  Commencing with Vol. 36, Real Gone has been reissuing the Dick’s Picks series in reverse order, but the label is now offering Vol. 10 to honor the Dead’s Bay Area tradition of performing a run of shows in the last week of December leading up to the year’s end. With the exception of the years 1973-1975, the Dead was often found around the San Francisco area playing a New Year’s Eve show, but starting in 1977, the group began to headline a series of concerts the last week of the year, a ritual they continued for 15 years.  The 3-CD Dick’s Picks Volume 10 chronicles the December 29, 1977 show at Winterland Arena, just one year before the Dead closed the venue for good on New Year’s Eve.  Purists take note that this volume removes two songs (“It Must Have Been the Roses” and “Sunrise”) from the show in favor of a medley from the following night of “Estimated Prophet”/”Eyes of the World”/”St. Stephen”/”Sugar Magnolia.”

All four of these titles will make for a very Happy New Year, indeed, and arrive on January 7.  You can pre-order them below!

January 7, 2014 Releases from Real Gone Music

Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Complete Columbia Singles (2-CD set) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Bettye Swann, The Complete Atlantic Recordings (CD) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Samuel Jonathan Johnson, My Music (CD) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 10 – Winterland Arena December 29, 1977 (3-CD Set) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

Written by Joe Marchese

November 22, 2013 at 11:03

6 Responses

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  1. Sorry to say that I am interested in fewer and fewer Real Gone titles with each of their release schedules. None of these titles interest me at all. I hope they sell well because I want the label to succeed but I personally have been disappointed with the most recent releases.


    November 22, 2013 at 12:44

    • I haven’t been all that interested in their offerings either.

      I’m a huge Grateful Dead fan, but I had many of the Dick’s Picks from their original release back when you could only buy them directly from the Dead and they were *a lot* less expensive than Real Gone sells them for. When Rhino bought the Dead’s catalogue, and they sold the DPs in stores, they still weren’t all that pricey. Now, however, the Real Gone prices are outrageous.

      For the handful of DPs that I don’t have but would still like to have, I am not willing to pay Real Gone’s prices. It’s easy enough to find those releases through other means (including legal ones).

      Anyhow, I wish Real Gone the best too. It might’ve overly optimistic to hope they’d have enough pull to reissue stuff like Buckingham Nicks, or John Fogerty’s 1975 self-titled album, but what they’re trying to do is a great idea nonetheless.


      November 23, 2013 at 11:04

  2. I’m definitely in for the BS&T!!! I agree, though, that fewer and fewer Real Gone titles truly captivate me these days, but I hope to get the Animals box if funds allow, and this BS&T comp looks nice as well. I already have the “What Goes Up” 2-CD anthology from Legacy, and really like that, but this upcoming Real Gone comp might fit nicely alongside that one.

    Chief Brody

    November 22, 2013 at 13:21

  3. I don’t know. I guess someway you might say that the BS&T singles collection is the “definitive anthology”… but no, not really. BS&T have been anthologized so many times, and still will be. To quote Monty Python this is the definitive anthology until the next one.
    And yes, as previous comments have stated, I too am less and less interested in Real Gone releases.


    November 23, 2013 at 18:06

    • No, it’s not definitive–I’m not even sure what that term means anymore regarding reissues–but I generally like Real Gone’s mastering, so personally it’d be worth a try for me. But we all roll the dice on these things anyway at some point, don’t we? A title comes along that looks intriguing, we buy it, it’s superseded in a few years by the “latest/greatest” edition, which is in turn superseded eventually, etc., and the great wheel of marketing continues to turn. We’ve all been reeled in by it. Just gotta do your your due diligence and decide if a particular title/version is worth it to you. The Python boys had it right, but we’re not exactly powerless; as music buyers, we don’t HAVE to buy anything if we don’t like it.

      Chief Brody

      November 24, 2013 at 06:19

  4. Don’t be so quick to discount Bettye Swann, folks. I have her compilation cds covering the Money and Capitol years, and they are quite enjoyable. Any collection of Soul music on Atlantic from the early to mid 1970s (which I am assuming is the era this cd will cover) always gets my attention.

    Plus, as others have said, Real Gone is a terrific label, so I expect top notch sound and liner notes.


    November 25, 2013 at 14:33

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