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Archive for December 18th, 2013

Motown Rarities Uncovered on Vinyl Box, Digital Outtakes Set

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Motown 7sMotown aficionados have a lot of fun stuff to dig through on a number of formats, with the recent release of a box set collecting 14 rare cuts on vinyl and a new, copyright law-busting compilation of 52 previously unavailable outtakes from some of the label’s biggest names.

Recently issued in the U.K., The Motown 7s Box: Rare and Unreleased Vinyl seems to take more of a tack about “tracks unreleased to vinyl” than “never-before-released tracks on vinyl.” Everything here has been made available in some way, shape or form, including rare studio cuts from Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Four Tops and even David Ruffin, The Spinners and Kim Weston. But perhaps only one of them, Frank Wilson’s “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” ever made it to vinyl before CD. (That original single is, in fact, one of the rarest in the world.) Producer Richard Searling offers track-by-track liner notes on the box, though no official mastering information is supplied.

Motown Unreleased 1963Meanwhile, digital retailers have started carrying Motown Unreleased 1963 another copyright-savvy compilation of Motown outtakes from five decades past. (Outside the U.S., copyright law governs that recordings not issued within 50 years lapse into public domain, prompting rights holders to quickly issue collections from Bob Dylan to, this week, The Beatles and The Beach Boys. A similar volume from Motown cropped up last year, too.)

While it’s open to interpretation as to what, if any, true finds exist on the set, many of Motown’s best are featured herein on recordings you’ve never heard before, from The Miracles, The Supremes (a cover of “Funny How Time Slips Away”!), Stevie Wonder (alternate and early takes of “Fingertips” and “Blowin’ in the Wind”), The Temptations and even lesser-known acts on the roster, including Labrenda Ben and The Contours.

After the jump, you’ll find order links and full specs on each of these unique sets.

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 18, 2013 at 17:19

Of Mamas, Papas, Raiders and Soundtracks: Real Gone’s February Slate Revealed

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Together OST CDThe announcement of Real Gone Music’s release schedule for February 2014 would be cause for celebration any day of the week. But this particular day is special, as you’re about to find out.

In addition to an ironclad lineup that includes A Gathering of Flowers, the long out-of-print 1970 collection from The Mamas & The Papas; The Complete Recordings by Brotherhood, an unfairly obscure psych-rock band comprised of Phil Volk, Drake Levin and Mike “Smitty” Smith of Paul Revere & The Raiders that cut three LPs for RCA; a twofer by Smith (A Band Called Smith/Minus-Plus), the L.A. soul band which had a Top 5 hit in a cover of “Baby, It’s You” (arranged by Del Shannon, who discovered the band) and a pair of 1976 Grateful Dead shows for the 20th volume of Dick’s Picks,  two intriguing, long out-of-print film soundtracks make their domestic CD debuts: Together? – a Burt Bacharach-led pop feast featuring lyrics from Paul Anka and vocals from Jackie DeShannon and Michael McDonald – and Toomorrow, a 1970 sci-fi movie musical assembled by Harry Saltzman and Don Kirshner with vocals from a very unknown Australian actor-chanteuse named Olivia Newton-John.

And what makes those two soundtrack releases so exciting? The Second Disc is extremely proud to report that our own Joe Marchese is writing the liner notes to these releases! Joe’s insight that served readers so well on a previous post about the Together? soundtrack will now guide fans through the first ever Stateside releases of this and Toomorrow. We’ve rarely been more thrilled for you to read some Second Disc-style work without even needing to open your laptop!

All titles are set for a February 4 release. For the full release schedule, which also includes releases by Canadian trio Troyka and country-gospel crooner Jim Reeves, hit the jump!

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Piano Jazz: Robinsongs Revives Ramsey Lewis, Richard Tee LPs on CD

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Richard Tee - Strokin' and NaturalIf you’re in the mood for funky jazz played by two piano giants, Cherry Red’s Robinsongs label has a couple of recent releases just for you.

The late Richard Tee (1943-1993) may be best known for his session work; the pianist/arranger’s credits include pivotal recordings by Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, George Harrison, Daryl Hall and John Oates, The Bee Gees, Dionne Warwick and many others.  For much of the seventies, if you needed electric piano, keyboards or organ on a session, Richard Tee was your go-to man.  In addition to the aforementioned pop and R&B work, Tee played with jazz artists such as Hank Crawford, George Benson, Hubert Laws, Grover Washington Jr. and Stanley Turrentine.  In 1976, Tee formed the jazz/funk group Stuff, also featuring guitarists Cornell Dupree and Eric Gale and drummer Steve Gadd.  Stuff recorded three studio LPs with Tee between 1976 and 1979.  But the solo bug called to Tee, too.  So when he decided to take the plunge into solo recording, he turned to Bob James’ Tappan Zee Records label (then distributed by Columbia).  Like Tee, James was a veteran of Creed Taylor’s CTI label.  James produced Tee’s Tappan Zee debut Strokin’, which has just been combined by Robinsongs on one CD with its follow-up, Natural Ingredients, also produced by James.

The line-up on Strokin’ reads like a studio “Who’s Who.” Gale and Gadd from Stuff joined Chuck Rainey on bass, Ralph MacDonald on percussion, Tom Scott on saxophone and lyricon (an electronic wind instrument), Hugh McCracken on harmonica, and The Brecker Brothers, naturally leading up the horn section.  Tee arranged and conducted seven tracks including covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America” and Billy Strayhorn’s classic “Take the ‘A’ Train.”  Tee and Bill Withers co-wrote “Every Day,” Tee went it alone for “Virginia Sunday,” and Rainey brought along “First Love.” MacDonald joined with frequent partner William Salter for “I Wanted It, Too.”  The funky fusion continued on Natural Ingredients.  Matthew Bragg subbed for Chuck Rainey, but Steve Gadd, Hugh McCracken, Ralph MacDonald and Tom Scott all returned, as did Randy Brecker.  Lani Groves and Valarie Simpson contributed to the background vocals.  Tee and Withers co-wrote “The Nut’s Off of the Screw,” and MacDonald and Salter supplied “What a Woman Really Means.”  Willie Dixon’s “Back Door Man” and Mendelssohn’s (!) “Spinning Song” are among the more surprising song selections.

While neither of these albums charted, they should pack plenty of appeal for fans of the R&B-tinged jazz of The Brecker Brothers, Bob James or Tom Scott.  Tee continued to sporadically record solo (in between engagements with superstars like Paul Simon) until his untimely death from prostate cancer.  Robinsongs’ two-for-one reissue adds liner notes by Lois Wilson, and both albums have been remastered by Alan Wilson.

After the jump, we’re in with Ramsey Lewis’ in-crowd! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 18, 2013 at 10:59

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Donny Hathaway, “Never My Love: The Anthology”

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Hathaway Never My LoveThis time of year, it’s nearly impossible to spend much time on a holiday music station without hearing the familiar, resonant voice persuasively imploring, “Hang all the mistletoe/I’m gonna get to know you better/This Christmas!”  Donny Hathaway’s 1970 single “This Christmas” has become one of the most frequently-sung latter-day Christmas standards, recorded in recent years by everybody from Carole King to Mary J. Blige.  In a too-short life that was tragically curbed at 33 in January 1979, the soul singer proved himself a gifted interpreter of the songs of others, as well as a songwriter of no small skill (see: “This Christmas,” for one).  He didn’t reinvent the wheel of R&B, but took his place in a line of soul men with the power to deliver messages of hope, love, loss, and empowerment.  Rhino has recently surveyed Hathaway’s short but vibrant career in a new four-disc box set entitled Never My Love: The Anthology.

Never My Love follows Someday We’ll All Be Free, a similarly-designed box from Rhino Music France which was released in 2010.  That career-spanning, 61-song retrospective premiered seven previously unissued tracks across its four discs; live material occupied half of the third disc and all of the fourth.  Never My Love, named for The Addrisi Brothers’ hit for The Association which Hathaway made his own, takes a different approach via its 58 songs.  The first CD is a straightforward “best of,” with mono single versions sprinkled into the mix.  A second disc introduces another thirteen previously unissued studio recordings, and the third presents an entire unreleased live performance from 1971 at the Bitter End.  The fourth and final disc brings together Hathaway’s duets with Roberta Flack including the all-time classics “Where is the Love” and “The Closer I Get to You.”  When all is said in done, the box contains a substantial portion of Hathaway’s core solo ouevre, which consists of just three studio solo albums, a duets set with Roberta Flack, three live albums (two released posthumously) and one soundtrack…plus “This Christmas,” of course.

After the jump, we’ll take a closer look at Never My Love: The Anthology! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 18, 2013 at 10:17