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Archive for January 20th, 2014

There’s No Place Like Oz: Sepia Celebrates 75th Anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” With New Rarities Anthology

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WizardWhen L. Frank Baum published his novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at the turn of the century in 1900, could the author have ever possibly imagined that his characters would still be known by virtually every man, woman and child some 114 years later?  Much of that success, however, is attributable to MGM’s lavish, Oscar-winning 1939 musical film adaptation which immortalized Judy Garland as Dorothy along with Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr as, respectively, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion.  Thanks to the success of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz – which solidified its place in American culture largely thanks to annual television airings beginning in 1956 – “There’s no place like home” and “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” have entered the lexicon.  The film introduced the world to Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg’s “Over the Rainbow,” voted the 20th Century’s Best Song  by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts, in front of “White Christmas,” “This Land is Your Land,” “Respect” and “American Pie.”  It also set the stage (pun intended) for further adaptations based on the original source material such as the Broadway blockbuster Wicked, itself based on Gregory Maguire’s Oz spin-off novel of the same name.  Now, U.K. label Sepia Recordings is celebrating the film’s 75th anniversary (already recognized by current rights-holder Warner Bros. with a 3-D Blu-ray presentation and lavish new box set) with an unusual anthology that should pique the interest of Ozians everywhere.

The Wizard of Oz: 75th Anniversary Anthology brings together songs from the film in rare and little-heard versions recorded by its stars such as Judy Garland, composer Harold Arlen and popular performers including Glenn Miller and His Orchestra.  Live radio broadcasts to promote the movie are heavily drawn upon, and devotees will find four recordings of “Over the Rainbow” performed by Garland: the original movie version, a live performance, a “pop” version and finally, one with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra recorded to sell government war bonds. Big bands are represented here by Miller as well as Vincent Lopez and Frankie Masters, each performing their “dance band” version of songs from the Arlen/Harburg score.  This disc, basically a collection of “bonus tracks,” makes a fine complement to Rhino/Turner Classic Movies’ definitive 1995 soundtrack restoration and other associated releases such as 1998’s The Story and Songs of the Wizard of Oz.

After the jump, we have more details including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 20, 2014 at 14:00

Billy Paul Is “Feelin’ Good” On BBR Reissue Of His First Studio Album

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Billy Paul - Cadillac ClubBig Break Records and Billy Paul – they’ve got a thing going on.

The label, an imprint of the Cherry Red Group, has just returned to the soul titan’s catalogue for the sixth time – and with this release has gone back to the very beginning.  BBR’s previous reissues from the “Me and Mrs. Jones” singer have explored his Philadelphia International discography as well as his Neptune release Ebony Woman and  a post-PIR album for Total Experience Records.  Now, the label has turned its attention to Paul’s debut LP, 1968’s Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club.  Despite its title, Feelin’ Good is not a live recording, but rather a studio creation based upon the singer’s successful club act.  And though it’s far from a typical “soul” album, one listen reveals just how much soul always resided within Billy Paul.

Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club was financed for $365.00 (yes, you read that right – three hundred and sixty five dollars) by the singer, then approaching his mid-thirties, and his wife and business partner Blanche Williams.  Paul and Williams delivered the LP, nearly complete, to the budding entrepreneur Kenny Gamble.  Before Philadelphia International, Gamble and Leon Huff had tried their hand at a number of record labels, among them Excel and Gamble.  Feelin’ Good would be just the second LP ever released on the Gamble label, following The Intruders Are Together from the “Cowboys to Girls” vocal group.

Paul recorded the album at Philly’s Virtue Studios with just his jazz trio: pianist/arranger Stanley Johnson, drummer Norman Fearrington and bassist Bill Collick.  Paul, also serving as producer, and Gamble resisted any temptation to “sweeten” the tracks, and so the sound is far-removed from the orchestrated R&B with which Gamble and Huff would soon conquer the charts.  In other words, this is the pure Paul.  The singer’s act had been honed at venues including the titular Philly club.  “[The Cadillac] was a famous, famous club.  Aretha Franklin worked there.  Me and George Benson used to work there all the time,” Paul recalls in the exemplary new liner notes penned for BBR’s reissue by Andy Kellman.

After the jump: much more on Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 20, 2014 at 09:40

Posted in Billy Paul, News, Reissues, Reviews

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