The Second Disc

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Archive for January 13th, 2014

If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It: Stage Door Records Brings “Privates on Parade” To CD

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Privates on ParadeReviewing The Michael Grandage Company’s 2012 production of Peter Nichols’ play with music Privates on Parade, critic Charles Spencer summed up the feelings of many of his colleagues when he called the production “gloriously entertaining and often deeply touching.”  Nichols’ semi-autobiographical 1977 play drew on his own experiences as a young British serviceman with Combined Services Entertainment, providing song and dance to the country’s Armed Forces.  Now, Stage Door Records is bringing the Original London Cast Recording of Privates on Parade to CD in a newly-remastered edition due on January 27.

Set in Singapore and Malaysia circa 1948 during the Malayan Emergency, Nichols’ play focused on the fictional Song and Dance Unit South East Asia, or S.A.D.U.S.E.A.  As the double-entendre of a title indicated, the play promised privates of both the army variety and perhaps the other variety.  Composer Denis King joined playwright/lyricist Nichols to bring his bawdy, farcical – yet surprisingly dark and biting – satire to life.  The Royal Shakespeare Company premiered Privates on Parade at Stratford-upon-Avon before successfully transferring the show to the West End’s Aldwych Theatre in February 1977, today the home of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Stephen Ward.  The London production directed by Michael Blakemore and starring stage and screen veterans Denis Quilley and Nigel Hawthorne, ran for 207 performances.

There’s more after the jump, including pre-order links and the track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 13, 2014 at 14:28

Rhino Rediscovery: Wounded Bird to Reissue Handmade Titles As Budget Sets

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Wounded Bird logoRhino Handmade is back! Sort of.

Reissue label Wounded Bird Records will release this week seven titles originally released on Warner Music’s boutique label in the early to mid-2000s. These sets were originally handsome vault-clearing exercises for a diverse crop of artists who were on the Warner, Atlantic or Reprise labels at some point in their careers, including works by Doug Sahm of Sir Douglas Quintet, blues legend Taj Mahal, rockabilly-punk outfit The Blasters, singer-songwriter Danny O’Keefe (“Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”), Crazy Horse (sans Neil Young), John Sebastian and bluesman Long John Baldry.

A few notes are in order for the discerning buyer: if you’ve bought titles by Wounded Bird in the past, you might know that the packaging is not what you might expect from a major boutique label. The liner notes and in-depth track information that graced these original releases is unfortunately gone. Also gone in some cases is actual repertoire: John Sebastian’s The Reprise Recordings (originally titled Faithful Virtue on Handmade) loses two live sets on the third disc, including Sebastian’s set at Woodstock and another performance at Winterland in 1969. Two tracks recorded by The Blasters for the cult soundtrack to the film Streets of Fire in 1984 are also left off the band’s otherwise-complete set.

But if there is an upside, it’s that Wounded Bird has gotten seven long-out-of-print titles onto CD for the first time in nearly a decade – and for those interested in the music above all, that can’t be a bad thing. All titles are available in the States this Tuesday; hit the jump for a full breakdown of each with order links!

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BBR “Heats It Up” with Salsoul Orchestra, Joe Bataan, Herbie Mann, Chris Jasper

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Joe Bataan - SalsoulAs Big Break Records’ first releases for 2014 hit stores in the U.K. today (more on those shortly!), the time is right to take a look at more from the label’s closing slate of 2013.  This eclectic roster – from legendary Latin music artist Joe Bataan, the post-Vince Montana iteration of The Salsoul Orchestra, jazz flautist Herbie Mann and soul man Chris Jasper – is doubtless one of BBR’s strongest.

So influential was Joe Bataan’s 1974 Mericana Records release Salsoul that it literally inspired an entire label.  The Filipino-African-American artist, born Bataan Nittolano in New York’s Spanish Harlem, captured the manifold energies of the city streets on his records which blended street-corner R&B with Latin dance rhythms.   Incarcerated at age 16 for car theft, the young man turned his life around with music.  He learned music theory from a Juilliard graduate while in prison, and taught himself piano.  Soon, Bataan became known for composing his own songs and transforming popular hits like The Impressions’ “Gypsy Woman” into a soulful style that was distinctly his own.  Often singing in English over rhythms familiar to Spanish-speaking audiences, Bataan tapped into both markets with a series of albums beginning in 1967 for the pioneering salsa label Fania Records.  By 1972, however, the relationship between Bataan and Fania had soured.  He formed his own Ghetto Records label even as he fulfilled his Fania contract that year, and soon he sought out Joe, Ken and Stanley Cayre of the new Mericana label.  Bataan made it clear that he would like to throw in his lot with Mericana, and the result was Salsoul.

Salsoul, its title simply stating Bataan’s mix of salsa and soul, looked to both the past and the future.  He delivered Spanish interpretations of songs he previously recorded in English (“My Cloud” as “Mi Nube,” “Ordinary Guy” as “Muchacho Ordinario”), a funky mambo take on the standard “When Sunny Gets Blue,” and a sweet-soul reworking of “Mujer Mia,” another tune from his Fania days.  Instrumentals – including a groovy, dancefloor-ready take on Eumir Deodato’s “Latin Strut” – sat alongside vocal tracks from the hard-hitting tale of “Johnny” to the ballad plea for “Peace, Friendship, Solidarity.”  But all of the album’s nine songs contained Bataan’s urgent and brassy yet melodic stamp.  Mericana was rewarded for its belief in Bataan when Salsoul reportedly sold over 15,000 copies in just one week of release.  Ever the canny businessmen, the Cayre brothers took the title of Bataan’s album as the name of their new record label, installing Bataan as quarter-owner of an interest in the company and as A&R director.  Salsoul proved how an artist could bridge genres and cultures, and its namesake label carried on its tradition.  BBR has expanded this landmark album with four rare mono single versions plus the non-LP track “Continental Square Dance.”  Nick Robbins has remastered the album and Rico “Superbizzee” Washington has written new notes drawing on an interview with Bataan.

After the jump: The Salsoul Orchestra and more – plus full track listings and order links for all four titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 13, 2014 at 09:28