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Archive for January 16th, 2014

Feats Won’t Fail You Now on New Rhino Box Set

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Little Feat box

Rhino is giving the complete albums treatment to another classic rock artist on the Warner Bros. label: the eclectic combo Little FeatRad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990 will feature all 11 studio and live albums the band cut for the label, as well as two additional bonus discs of rare material.

Formed by ex-Mothers of Invention guitarist Lowell George, Little Feat first rose to prominence for their killer rock-blues style, particularly both versions of the song “Willin'” from the band’s first two albums. (Each version featured a distinctive slide guitar part, the latter played by George and the former by Ry Cooder, filling in for George after a model airplane accident hurt his hand.) It was notably covered by Linda Ronstadt on Heart Like a Wheel in 1974.

Lineup changes in 1972 – bassist Roy Estrada was replaced by Kenny Gradney and guitarist Paul Barrere and percussionist Sam Clayton were added to the existing lineup with George, keyboardist Bill Payne and drummer Richie Hayward – led to an interesting stylistic shift: albums Dixie Chicken and Feats Don’t Fail Me Now were decidedly funkier, with heavy influences from New Orleans-style jazz. Collaborations with drummer Chico Hamilton and singer Robert Palmer would follow (Palmer covered their “Sailin’ Shoes” and the band backed him on many of his early records).

But tragedy struck at the end of the decade when George died of a heart attack bought on by overindulgence. An album, Down on the Farm, was completed in 1979, and Hoy-Hoy!, a collection of outtakes and alternates, was released two years later. All was not over, though: in 1987, the band reformed with singer/songwriter/guitarist Craig Fuller and guitarist Fred Tackett. Resultant album Let It Roll and single “Hate to Lose Your Lovin'” were considerable hits. The band departed Warner Bros. in 1990, and Fuller himself would leave in 1993, but Barrere, Gradney, Tackett and Clayton (plus Gabe Ward on drums, following Hayward’s 2010 passing) continue to tour and record under the Little Feat banner, releasing Rooster Rag, their 15th album, in 2012.

Rad Gumbo features, in addition to all of the band’s studio albums (Little Feat (1971) to Representing the Mambo (1980)) and Hoy-Hoy!, the double-disc 2002 expanded edition of George-era live album Waiting for Columbus (featuring the complete, reordered album program on Disc 1 and Disc 2, followed by performances mixed for possible album release but ultimately unused and outtakes later issued on Hoy-Hoy!) and a bonus disc of tracks released on the 2000 box set Hotcakes & Outtakes (we’re waiting on official confirmation from Rhino as to which tracks feature on this disc).

Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990 is available February 25. Hit the jump for order links and all the info we have thus far!

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 16, 2014 at 11:31

Get Ready: Tommy Hunt’s “Sign of the Times” Revives Northern Soul Favorites

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Tommy Hunt - Sign of the Times

Trivia: who was the first artist to release Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “I Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” in 1962?  Hint: it wasn’t Dusty Springfield (1964) or Dionne Warwick (1966).  The answer is Tommy Hunt, onetime member of The Flamingos and a member of the Scepter Records family between 1961 and 1964.  At Scepter, Hunt introduced both of those now-classic songs and scored hits like “Human” (No. 5 R&B/No. 46 Pop, 1961) and “I Am a Witness” (No. 71 R&B, 1963).  Hunt followed his Scepter tenure with stints at Atlantic, Capitol and Dynamo, but by 1968, things looked bleak.  It took a trip across the pond to the United Kingdom to revitalize the soul man’s career.  The key next chapter of his musical life has recently been anthologized by Cherry Red’s Shout! label as A Sign of the Times: The Spark Recordings 1975-1976.

Born in 1933 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tommy Hunt’s family settled in Chicago during his formative years.  But difficulties plagued him.  He served in the U.S. Air Force but went AWOL after receiving the news of his mother’s terminal illness.  He spent time in jail for his desertion, but returned to Chicago with hopes of a brighter future.  There, he first pursued singing as a career.  With his group The Five Echoes, Hunt recorded for the Chance, Sabre and Chess labels; soon, he was deputized to fill in for a recently-drafted member of The Flamingos.  Hunt was with the group for their biggest hit, the 1959 revival of “I Only Have Eyes for You,” and its success gave him the ammunition to seek a solo career.  Luther Dixon signed Hunt to Florence Greenberg’s Scepter label in 1960, and “Human,” the original B-side of his very first 45, went Top 5 R&B.  Hunt worked with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller as well as Ed Townsend, Dixon, Bacharach and David at Scepter, and reunited with Dixon at Dynamo in 1966.  He also recorded with Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner and Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams there.  But when the hits dried up, Hunt had to look elsewhere, and began touring U.S. Army bases in Europe.

The British variety club circuit soon beckoned, and Hunt worked his way up to the more prestigious clubs.  In addition to the cabaret work, he returned to the studio to record for both Polydor and Pye.  But his biggest U.K. success came on the Northern Soul scene.  His performance at the Wigan Casino on the event of its second anniversary on September 27, 1975 was recorded for Spark Records, relaunching Hunt to a large audience hungry for American soul music.  In the new liner notes for Shout’s release, Hunt recalls, “When I got to Wigan, I refused to go in!  It scared me because it looked so rough!  I’d been playing these fabulous clubs.  When I looked at the outside, I said to the driver, ‘you must be at the wrong place.’  He said, ‘Tommy, wait ‘til you get inside.’  When I walked in there, I couldn’t believe it.  The place was a dump and there was so many people, masses of them.”  They were all eager to hear the singer at work.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

January 16, 2014 at 09:42

Posted in News, Reissues, Tommy Hunt