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Archive for January 30th, 2014

I Can Read Your Mind: The Alan Parsons Project’s “Complete Albums” Box Arrives In March

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Alan Parsons Project - CompleteOn March 31, The Alan Parsons Project’s many tales of mystery and imagination will come to life anew on Arista Records and Legacy Recordings’ 11-CD box set The Alan Parsons Project – The Complete Albums Collection.  This new set marks the first time that the Project’s complete discography has been assembled in one place, from 1976’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination to 1987’s Gaudi.  Sweetening the pot will be the first-ever release of the APP’s fifth album The Sicilian Defence.

The Complete Albums Collection follows the 2013 Legacy Edition reissue of I Robot, the APP’s 1977 sophomore effort and Arista debut.  That album proved that high-concept, progressive art-rock could still impact the charts when it placed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200.  Further triumphs were still to come for the studio group spearheaded by producer-engineer Alan Parsons (The Dark Side of the Moon) and songwriter-executive producer Eric Woolfson, especially 1982’s Eye in the Sky.  The album shot to No. 7 on the Billboard 200, the APP’s first album since I Robot to crack the Top 10, and the Woolfson-written and –sung title track made it all the way to No. 3 on the Hot 100 and the Hot AC chart.

The Scottish band Pilot provided the Alan Parsons Project with its core musicians.  Ian Bairnson (guitar) played on every APP album, David Paton (bass and vocals) appeared on all albums except the 1987 swansong Gaudi, and Stuart Tosh (drums) played on Tales of Mystery and Imagination and I Robot before joining 10cc and being replaced by Stuart Elliott of Cockney Rebel.  Pilot’s Billy Lyall also played keyboards on those first two APP albums.  It was a bit of reciprocity at work; Parsons had produced Pilot’s debut album including the hit single “Magic,” and produced two more albums for the band as well.   Vocalists on the APP albums include Woolfson, Lesley Duncan (the contemporary standard “Love Song,” recorded by artists including Elton John, Dionne Warwick, and Neil Diamond), Clare Torry (The Dark Side of the Moon), Allan Clarke of The Hollies, Colin Blunstone of The Zombies, Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, Lenny Zakatek, John Miles and others.

The main attraction of the new box may be an album that nobody has ever heard.  The Sicilian Defence was created by Parsons and Woolfson over a three-day session at France’s Bear Studios and delivered to Arista Records in March 1981 amid tense contract negotiations between the Project and Clive Davis’ Arista label.  The title derived from the name of a series of opening chess moves, which was apt considering the circumstances surrounding it.  Reportedly a dissonant, atonal collection that was far-removed from what Davis expected of the band, The Sicilian Defence was shelved.  The Project remained on Arista through 1987’s Gaudi, its final release.  (Parsons and Woolfson resumed their collaboration on the 1990 album Freudiana, the studio cast recording of a Woolfson-composed rock opera.)  An edited  version of “Elsie’s Theme” from The Sicilan Defence was included as a bonus track on an expanded edition of the 1979 album Eve, but the full-length track and the album from which it was derived makes its first-ever appearance as part of this box set.

After the jump: what else can you expect from The Complete Albums Collection? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 30, 2014 at 14:22

Say Hello, Hello: UMe Pays Lavish Tribute to Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

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Elton GBYR 40It’s an odd irony that Elton John began his seventh and most ambitious studio album with a piece he imagined would play in the event of his death. The singer-songwriter-pianist was one of the most alive rockers on the planet at that point; with a dazzlingly theatrical stage presence, a cracking live band and an increasing string of successes (his most recent album at that point, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, was released at the top of 1973 and was both his second No. 1 album in the U.S. and his highest seller, with a double platinum certification), it was hard to imagine how he could get any bigger.

Enter Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, a double album that didn’t seem to have a dud on it. All four of its singles – the rollicking “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” the Marilyn Monroe tribute ballad “Candle in the Wind,” the glammed-out “Bennie and The Jets” and the anthemic farewell to capricious youth of the title track – were Top 20 hits on one or both sides of the Atlantic, with more added  to U.S. radio playlists beyond the promotion cycle. (Chief LP cuts included the sprawling 11-minute intro, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” and the sublime “Harmony,” with more than enough vocal multitracking to earn its title.) Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin’s potent collaboration yielded some of its best and most intriguing work, from silly reggae (“Jamaica Jerk-off”) to piano-pounding boogie (“Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘N Roll”), concert-hall melancholia (“This Song Has No Title”) and dusty-road, Americanized nostalgia (“Roy Rogers”).

The plaudits were many: over 7 million units have moved through the United States (one of his most successful albums), Rolling Stone named it one of the 100 best rock albums of all time in 2003 – and now, on March 25, Universal Music Enterprises will pay tribute to the album with a multi-format reissue of the album, a few months past its 40th anniversary.

After the jump, you’ll find a comprehensive breakdown of all five versions of this new reissue, with pre-order links and track lists to boot!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 30, 2014 at 12:36

You’re Gonna Hear From Her: Dory Previn’s Debut Album Reissued on CD

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Dory Langdon - My Heart is a HunterWhen songwriter Dory Previn died in 2012, The Los Angeles Times noted one of the contradictions inherent in her life and art: “Although she was an Oscar-nominated songwriter, Dory Previn was better known for ballads that spoke to wounded souls.”  Truth to tell, even her early film music was often believably personal, intense, and filled with emotion.  It’s no wonder that vocalists including Judy Garland, Dionne Warwick, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin, Barbra Streisand, Matt Monro, Nancy Wilson, Liza Minnelli and Tony Bennett have all recorded Dory Previn’s songs.  (And can anybody explain how “You’re Gonna Hear from Me” from Inside Daisy Clover and “(Theme From) Valley of the Dollsdidn’t get Oscar nods?  For the record, Ms. Previn received nominations for songs from Pepe, Two for the Seesaw and The Sterile Cuckoo.)  Now, Cherry Red’s new Croydon Municipal label – founded by Bob Stanley of St. Etienne – has unearthed Previn’s first, largely forgotten solo recording, 1958’s The Leprechauns are Upon Me, and reissued it on CD under the name of one of its songs, My Heart is a Hunter.  It’s cause for celebration.

Born in Rahway, New Jersey in 1925 or 1929 (reports vary) as Dorothy Veronica Langan, the future Dory Previn made a connection with legendary lyricist and producer Arthur Freed.  At MGM, Freed (Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon) hooked up Dory – writing as Dory Langdon – with another young but already established talent, the composer Andre Previn.  The pair became creatively and romantically linked, and married in 1959 – but not before they joined forces to record The Leprechauns are Upon Me for Verve Records.  Previn, on piano, joined Kenny Burrell on guitar to accompany Dory for a set of thirteen original songs.  Dory wrote all of the lyrics herself, while melodies were contributed by Andre as well as Gene DePaul (Li’l Abner, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), David Raksin (Laura), Herm Saunders, Lyn Murray, J. Raymond Henderson and Dory herself.

After the jump, we’ll take a deeper look at My Heart is a Hunter!  Plus: order links and track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 30, 2014 at 10:32

Posted in Dory Previn, News, Reissues, Reviews

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