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Archive for January 2014

Kritzerland Heads Into The Arena With “Demetrius and the Gladiators”

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Demetrius and the GladiatorsTwentieth Century Fox’s 1953 Biblical epic The Robe boldly trumpeted on its posters, “The First Motion Picture in CinemaScope – The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses!”  So confident was Fox about the success of The Robe and indeed, the widescreen CinemaScope format, that the studio began production on a sequel (or “continuation,” as it was dubbed) before the first film had even reached theatres.  Screenwriter Philip Dunne, producer Frank Ross, art directors George W. Davis and Lyle Wheeler, and actors Victor Mature as the titular slave-turned-gladiator, Michael Rennie as Peter, and Jay Robinson as the notorious Caligula all returned for Demetrius and the Gladiators.  Director Henry Koster, cinematographer Leon Shamroy, and composer Alfred Newman – all still occupied with The Robe – gave way to Delmer Daves, Milton Krasner and Franz Waxman, respectively for Demetrius.  But though the sequel didn’t match the success of its predecessor, it was far from a disappointment and actually ranked as the fourth highest-grossing film of 1954.  In addition to its repeat performances from the above-mentioned actors, Demetrius also featured Ernest Borgnine, Susan Hayward, Anne Bancroft and Julie Newmar among its cast!  The picture has held up remarkably well, with no small credit due to Waxman’s score.  Kritzerland is premiering a new restoration of this grandiose soundtrack as its latest release, now available for pre-order.

Franz Waxman deftly incorporated Alfred Newman’s themes for The Robe into the sonic tapestry he devised for Demetrius and the Gladiators.  Kritzerland producer Bruce Kimmel writes that Waxman’s score “manages to display a modernist élan and power all its own. Demetrius and the Gladiators was this fabulously versatile composer’s first Biblical epic; as usual, he adapted his talents to a new genre with superbly dramatic dexterity. Beginning with a pulse-pounding ‘Prelude’ which twines Newman’s themes with his own, Waxman moves on to one stunning cue after another.”

After the jump: the lowdown on what sets the 2014 Demetrius apart from its past CD release, plus a pre-order link and the full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2014 at 10:20

Release Round-Up: Week of January 28

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Uncle Tupelo - No Depression Legacy EditionUncle Tupelo, No Depression: Legacy Edition (Legacy)

After at least two teasers in the form of Record Store Day releases, one of the most beloved alt-country albums is greatly expanded as a double-disc set with a host of rare and unreleased demos. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Tony Bennett - The ClassicsTony Bennett, The Classics (RPM/Columbia/Legacy)

One of the most beloved singers of the 20th century is the subject of a new career-spanning compilation, available in single and double-disc iterations.

1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S.

Sinatra with LoveFrank Sinatra, Sinatra, with Love (Capitol/UMe)

The first in a new Sinatra series (now distributed by Universal) explores the Chairman’s romantic side, with an unreleased alternate take on “My Foolish Heart” from Sinatra’s last studio session for Reprise. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Gaslight Anthem B-SidesThe Gaslight Anthem, The B-Sides (SideOneDummy)

The New Jersey rockers compile their rarer tracks on a new single-disc compilation.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Presenting Dionne EdselDionne Warwick, Presenting Dionne Warwick/Anyone Who Had a Heart/Make Way for Dionne Warwick/The Sensitive Sound of Dionne WarwickHere I Am/Live in Paris/Here Where There is Love/On Stage and In the MoviesThe Windows of the World/Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls/Promises, Promises/Soulful…PlusI’ll Never Fall in Love Again/Very Dionne/Dionne/Just Being Myself (Edsel)

Sixteen Dionne Warwick albums (plus some bonus tracks) combined on four new sets from Edsel.

Presenting…Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.
Here I Am…Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Windows…Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
I’ll Never Fall in Love Again…Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Everybody's Dancin'Kool & The Gang, The Force / Kool & The Gang, Everybody’s Dancin’ / Leon Haywood, Naturally (Big Break Records)

The latest from BBR includes two semi-obscure Kool & The Gang LPs (released between their biggest hit periods of the early-mid ’70s and early-mid ’80s) and a funky classic from Leon Haywood.

The Force: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Everybody’s Dancin’: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Naturally: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Hazell Dean - BacharachHazell Dean, The Sound of Bacharach and David (Cherry Pop)

An ultra-rare promotional LP from the Hi-NRG queen, making its debut on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

DORY LANGDONDory Previn (Langdon), My Heart is a Hunter (Croydon Municipal)

The debut LP from the Oscar-winning singer/songwriter (otherwise known as The Leprechauns Are Upon Me). Features new sleeve notes by Bob Stanley, author of the recent Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Privates on ParadePrivates on Parade: Original London Cast Recording (Stage Door Records)

The original cast recording to this U.K. farce (later made into a film with John Cleese) gets a CD release. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Review: Tower of Power, “Hipper Than Hip: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – Live on the Air and In the Studio”

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Tower of Power - LiveWhat is hip?

Based on the evidence of Tower of Power’s Hipper Than Hip: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – Live on the Air and in the Studio (RGM-0208), the Bay Area band certainly qualifies.  Real Gone Music’s crackling first-time release of a 1974 concert recorded for radio is a potent reminder of why Tower of Power’s rip-roaring horns have enlivened a host of recordings from artists as diverse as Elton John, Grateful Dead, Poison, Neil Diamond, Santana, and Aerosmith.

Tower of Power scored its commercial breakthrough with its third, self-titled album (and second for Warner Bros. Records), originally released in May 1973.  The album welcomed a number of new faces to the band.  Lenny Williams joined as lead vocalist, Chester Thompson assumed keyboard duties, Lenny Pickett replaced Skip Mesquite as lead saxophonist and Bruce Conte replaced original guitarist Willie James Fulton.  This new, 11-strong line-up’s first album together spawned three hit singles, “So Very Hard to Go,” “What is Hip?” and “This Time It’s Real.”  All three songs established that the group’s songwriting – by band members including tenor saxophonist Emilio Castillio, baritone saxophonist Stephen “Doc” Kupka, and drummer David Garibaldi – was as deft as its musicianship.  One year later, in May ’74, TOP released its Back to Oakland album on the Warner label, and entered the studios of Long Island’s progressive-minded WLIR-FM for a live, in-studio performance.  Now, nearly forty years later, that smoking concert has finally seen release as a 2-CD set.  The fourteen-song set naturally drew heavily on Back to Oakland, with half of that LP appearing (“Oakland Stroke,” “Squib Cakes,” “Just When We Start Makin’ It,” “Time Will Tell,” “Man from the Past”).  Old favorites were also reprised, of course including the three hit singles from Tower of Power.

With two trumpeters (Greg Adams and Mic Gillette), three saxophonists (Castillio, Kupka and Pickett), one guitarist (Conte), one bassist (Francis Rocco Prestia), one keyboardist (Thompson), one drummer (Garibaldi), one percussionist (Brent Byars on congas) and one lead vocalist (Williams), the large aggregation’s sound was singular.  The WLIR broadcast showed off all sides of the band with tight instrumentals, vocal showcases, and extended jazz-flavored workouts.  Luckily for TOP, this was a period during which the charts were welcoming to such diversity and experimentation. The band’s guitar-keyboard-brass blend reflected the prominence of fusion in jazz, while the big, prominent horns echoed the hits that had dominated the charts from the likes of Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears  TOP was less pop-rock and less jazz, more funk ‘n’ soul, but similar touchstones were recognizable.

As Leo Sacks astutely points out in his new liner notes for Real Gone’s release, 1974 was also a time when anything was possible in R&B alone.  Perhaps never before had so many different strains achieved such mainstream success.  Thom Bell was bringing urbane sophistication and a sweetly melodic yet still funky sensibility to his work with The Spinners.  Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye were redefining the Motown sound for a socially-conscious new generation.  Barry White was emphasizing intimacy on his steamy, lush bedroom ballads.  Miles Davis was alienating old fans and gaining new ones as he proved that a jazzman, with all his chops, could out-rock and out-funk damn near anybody else.  Earth, Wind and Fire were tapping into a bold, expansive sound all their own.  And disco, of course, was taking rise in Philadelphia and elsewhere, bringing the sounds of the underground to the mainstream.  In this soul stew, Tower of Power found that their audience-pleasing style extended beyond the Bay Area, bringing energy and a massive, often massively joyous sound to music that owed a debt to classic soul.  One of the band’s songs not performed for WLIR nonetheless could have been TOP’s manifesto: “You Got to Funkifize.”

After the jump: more on this sizzling live set! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 27, 2014 at 14:23

Posted in News, Reviews, Tower of Power

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UPDATE: Nice ‘n’ Easy Does It Every Time: “Sinatra, With Love” Arrives From New Signature Sinatra Imprint, Premieres One Previously Unreleased Track

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Sinatra with LoveLate last October, Frank Sinatra Enterprises – the joint venture between the late artist’s family and Warner Music Group – and Universal Music Enterprises quietly made history when they announced that, for the first time, Sinatra’s Capitol and Reprise catalogues would be united under the terms of a new agreement in North America.  (UMe previously had the Reprise-era license for a series of European straight album reissues.  Concord Music Group had, until recently, been releasing Sinatra’s Reprise reissues in the United States.)  UMe, who controls the singer’s Capitol catalogue as a result of its purchase of Capitol from EMI, acquired the license for his Reprise material, finally bringing the bulk of his recordings under one roof for a longer term than just a one-off release.  (Sony Music still controls Sinatra’s early RCA Victor and Columbia recordings.)  UMe and FSE launched Signature Sinatra, a new imprint dedicated to the artist, with the multiple-format reissues of Duets and Duets II, and UMe has also released a handful of budget projects with the Sinatra imprimatur (and both Capitol and Reprise material) including two Icon volumes and a 5 Classic Albums entry.  Now, with the Sinatra Centennial of 2015 just a year away (and the promise of new reissues and perhaps even a comprehensive box set), Signature Sinatra has announced its second project, a Valentine’s Day-aimed anthology entitled Sinatra, with Love.  It’s due from Capitol Records on January 28.

Sinatra, with Love naturally covers familiar ground, as similar compilations have been released in the past by both Capitol and Reprise.  This set’s repertoire, spanning the period between 1954 and 1988, is evenly divided down the middle between both eras and features contributions by arrangers including Nelson Riddle, Neal Hefti, Don Costa, Billy May and Eumir Deodato.  There are, naturally, staples of the Great American Songbook (the Gershwins’ “Love is Here to Stay,” Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields’ “The Way You Look Tonight,” Cole Porter’s “From This Moment On,” “I Love You” and “Just One of Those Things,” the latter a somewhat odd choice for a romantically-inclined set!) as well as favorites from Sinatra’s go-to team of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen (“The Tender Trap,” “The Look of Love”) and for this author’s money the most sensual vocal ever recorded by Sinatra, of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave.”  One track has been confirmed by Nancy Sinatra at the Sinatra Family Forums as a previously-unissued recording: an alternate take of Victor Young and Ned Washington’s “My Foolish Heart” from Sinatra’s final Reprise studio session of June 6, 1988.  The 1995 Complete Reprise Recordings box set included one take of this song, arranged and conducted by Billy May, from the session during which Sinatra recorded at least 17 takes.  The previously unissued Sinatra, with Love take includes an unedited trumpet solo from Jack Sheldon.  Nancy states that “it is not the same take as on the Complete Reprise box set.”

After the jump, we have more information including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 27, 2014 at 12:57

New Box Set Explores The “Love, Poetry and Revolution” of ’60s British Psychedelia

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Love, Poetry and Revolution

It’s only appropriate that “a journey through the British psychedelic and underground scenes” would remain one of the best-kept secrets of late 2013.  Love, Poetry and Revolution is the name of the recent box set from Grapefruit, the Cherry Red Group’s dedicated U.K. psych imprint.  (Grapefruit is also responsible for the new John’s Children anthology featuring Marc Bolan.)  Over nearly four hours, this  3-CD set surveys the fertile, creative period in the U.K. musical underground between 1966 and 1972 in which various styles were all blossoming: psychedelic rock and pop, progressive rock, acid folk, even psychedelic blues.

In his introductory note, compiler David Wells notes that “psychedelia and the underground was always a broad church, a house of many windows that sought to incorporate poetry, jazz, pop, folk, rock and many other aspects of the arts.”  And so Love, Poetry and Revolution touches on all of those sounds.  The box draws on bands both well-known (The Spencer Davis Group, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Hawkwind) and all but unknown (Sun Dragon, Neon Pearl, Crocheted Doughnut Ring) over the course of its 65 trippy tracks which are arranged in chronological order.  Best of all, each and every track is accompanied by an individual note in the 36-page booklet delineating the original release information as well as details on the artist’s background.

A number of familiar names pop up here, sometimes on unexpected tracks.  The Bee Gees – Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb – penned the whimsical “Mrs. Gillespie’s Refrigerator,” recorded in 1967 by the band Sands on (Bee Gees manager) Robert Stigwood’s Reaction label.  Maurice Gibb shows up, incognito, on the fabled Beatles sound-alike single “Have You Heard the Word,” credited to The Fut.  The 1970 track was the work of Gibb, his brother-in-law (and Lulu’s brother) Billy Lawrie, and the Australian duo Tin Tin.  What happened to Sands?  The band’s Rob Freeman and Ian McLintock regrouped as the groovy duo Sun Dragon, and their 1968 single “Peacock Dress,” heard here, found them backed by the core of Deep Purple: Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice!  The Spencer Davis Group is heard on a couple of post-Steve and Muff Winwood tracks (“Mr. Second Class,” “Morning Sun”), while offshoot Hardin-York (featuring former Group members Eddie Hardin and Pete York) is represented with the 1969 Bell single “Tomorrow Today.”

If you don’t know the name of Fat Mattress, you likely do know the band’s star member, Jimi Hendrix Experience Noel Redding.  Fat Mattress was a result of Redding’s desire to be heard as both a songwriter and a guitarist, and the band also featured Neil Landon of The Flower Pot Men and Jim Leverton, a bassist who had performed with Cat Stevens and the Walker Brothers.  The group was short-lived, but the box presents their 1969 single B-side “Iridescent Butterfly.”  Another famous name here is that of Greg Lake.  Before he hooked up with Emerson and Palmer, Lake paid his dues in groups like The Shame and Shy Limbs, both of which are heard here – The Shame with the Janis Ian cover “Don’t Go ‘Way Little Girl” (originally “Too Old to Go ‘Way Little Girl”) and the latter with single B-side “Love.”  Trivia: the guitarist on “Love” was none other than Lake’s soon-to-be King Crimson bandmate, Robert Fripp!

After the jump: which tracks are making their first appearance anywhere here?  Plus: the full track listing with discography, and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 27, 2014 at 09:46

Posted in Box Sets, Compilations, News

Hello Hooray: Audio Fidelity Preps SACDs for Alice Cooper, Peter, Paul and Mary, Yes’ Jon Anderson and Heart

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Olias of Sunhillow SACDThis February, the Audio Fidelity label continues to grow its collection of stereo hybrid SACDs with four new releases that touch upon classic rock, progressive rock, and vintage folk.

Jon Anderson‘s debut solo album Olias Of Sunhillow was released in the summer of 1976 and climbed the charts to the U.S. Top 50 as well as to an even more impressive No. 8 in Anderson’s U.K. home.  The Yes frontman and multi-instrumentalist utilized a variety of synthesizers, tape loops, unexpected instruments and sound effects to create the album inspired by Roger Dean’s cover artwork for Yes’ 1972 album Fragile as well as the rich literary world of J.R.R. Tolkien.  Anderson’s Olias is named for the titular character, an architect who designs a spacecraft on which the aliens of Sunhillow can travel to a new land.  Audio Fidelity describes the cosmic concept album as showcasing “Anderson’s uncommon gifts for melody and harmony as well as for songwriting. Together with arrangements that veer from the rustic to sci-fi, the music appears to travel through Earth and Space, incarnating the elements of the material and ethereal worlds. The scope of the music is cinematic, freely pursuing concepts to every corner of its vision and fashioning an experience that is as breathtaking for its range as it is for its depth.”  The SACD package replicates the original artwork by artist David Fairbrother Roe.  Kevin Gray has remastered the album at Cohearant Audio.

Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar SACDShock rockers supreme Alice Cooper delivered one of the band’s all-time classics with 1973’s U.S. and U.K. chart-topping Billion Dollar Babies.  Alice’s sixth studio album, the platinum-selling LP produced by Bob Ezrin yielded four Billboard Hot 100 hits including “Elected”, “Hello Hooray,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”  After the album was released, the band embarked on a tour which reportedly broke U.S. box office records previously held by the Rolling Stones despite not meeting revenue projections.  Magician James Randi designed special effects for the spectacularly horrific production.  Building on the success of the previous year’s School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies (with its songs about everything from dentistry to necrophilia) was the perfect vehicle for Cooper’s hard rock theatre to come alive – or dead.  Audio Fidelity’s SACD edition has been remastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering.

Hit the jump for a look at what’s coming from Heart and Peter, Paul and Mary!  Plus: pre-order links and track listings! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 24, 2014 at 09:53

Short Takes: Digital Updates on Billy Joel, Black Sabbath and More

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When not releasing intriguing physical products, sometimes labels like to do neat things to spice up their digital offerings, making complete discographies available or taking advantage of Apple’s “Mastered for iTunes” initiative. Here’s a few notable digital-oriented stories we’ve caught wind of in recent days!

52nd Street Billy Joel

  • He’s a living legend, a multiplatinum bestseller, a Kennedy Center honoree and – in 2014 – the first musical franchise at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This week, Legacy Recordings calibrated Billy Joel’s resurgence into a newly-streamlined offering on iTunes. All of the Piano Man’s studio and live albums have been Mastered for iTunes, and the 2011 Complete Albums Collection is available for digital purchase as well. (This box does, of course, not entirely live up to its title: several live albums, including KOHUEPT (1987) and 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert (2000), are omitted in favor of a bonus disc collecting tracks from compilations and other rarities, many found on the My Lives box set of 2005.)

    But it’s not only about digital treats for Joel: next week, Showtime will premiere a new documentary about Joel’s sojourn to the Soviet Union to perform live in 1987 – one of a few Western acts to penetrate the Iron Curtain. A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia combines new interviews with rare and unreleased concert and behind-the-scenes footage of Joel, his band and his family in what was a very strange land to an American in the late ’80s. (I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a release of this film, perhaps paired with the original KOHUEPT concert film released on videotape back in the day.)

We Sold Our Soul for Rock N Roll

  • Hot off the success of their latest album, last year’s 13 (which reunited most of the band’s classic lineup), metal gods Black Sabbath have also been treated to a fancy new iTunes store. The Mastered for iTunes treatment is only bestowed on the albums with the original lineup of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward – that’d be 1970’s self-titled debut to 1978’s Never Say Die, plus the compilations We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘N’ Roll (1976) and Greatest Hits 1970-1978 (2006) – but it looks like the original albums are all there. (A digital box set collecting those MFiT titles is also available.)

Romantics

  • They’re best known for a pair of New Wave/MTV-friendly singles – 1979’s “What I Like About You” and 1983’s Top 5 hit “Talking in Your Sleep.” But Legacy Recordings has made all five of The Romantics’ albums for Nemperor Records (now part of the Epic Records family) available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Digital newcomers National Breakout (1980), Strictly Personal (1981) and In Heat (1983) – which spun off “Talking in Your Sleep” – join 1980’s self-titled debut and their Nemperor swan song Rhythm Romance (1985) on all digital providers.

Si Se Puede

  • On March 11, in honor of legendary activist Cesar Chavez’s birthday at the end of the month (and a forthcoming biopic starring Michael Peña as the labor leader), Fantasy Records will digitally release a Chavez tribute album, Sí Se Puede!, for the first time. This 1976 LP, which donated money to Chavez’s United Farm Workers, marked the recording debut of East L.A. band Los Lobos, two years before their proper debut LP and a decade before attaining international acclaim on the soundtrack to La Bamba.

Written by Mike Duquette

January 23, 2014 at 17:31

Cherry Pop Revives Hazell Dean’s Rare Burt Bacharach LP, Weather Girls’ Second Album

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Hazell Dean - BacharachThe sound of Hazell Dean has long been associated with the sound of Hi-NRG, the dance-pop genre in which she scored hits like “Searchin’ (I Gotta Find a Man),” “Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)” and “Who’s Leaving Who.”  But thanks to Cherry Pop, fans can discover another side of Hazell Dean on The Sound of Bacharach and David.  This ultra-rare promotional LP, originally issued in 1981, was commercially released for the first time on CD this week in the U.K.; it hits U.S. stores next Tuesday.

The future Hi-NRG queen came to the catalogue of Burt Bacharach and Hal David via writer-producer Paul Curtis, with whom she had worked in the band Union Express and also recorded “I Couldn’t Live Without You for a Day,” his 1976 entry in the Song for Europe competition.  (Curtis holds the record as the songwriter with the most songs to make the finals of this contest in which the annual Eurovision song entry for the U.K. is selected.)  Curtis’ publishing was administered by Carlin Music, who also controlled the Bacharach/David copyrights.  Carlin’s Freddy Bienstock approached Curtis and Dean about recording an album of the duo’s famous songs to be used for placement in radio, television, films and commercials.  As Dean recalls in her new liner notes for Cherry Pop’s reissue, “I had to sing the songs very straight, no bending notes, and no ad libs.  In other words, I could not make the songs my own or put my unique vocal stamp on them.  That was very hard for me.”

Despite the challenges of recording such a project, The Sound of Bacharach and David has become a prized item among Hazell Dean’s fans over the years.  Her straightforward delivery well-served the familiar Bacharach and David compositions such as “What the World Needs Now is Love,” “Walk on By,” “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” and “Close to You.”  (The closest thing to a “deep cut” from the B&D catalogue is “To Wait for Love,” which had previously been recorded by Tony Orlando, Tom Jones, Jackie DeShannon and Herb Alpert, among others.)  Producer/background vocalist Curtis surrounded her pristine and versatile voice with a variety of mostly stripped-down settings that sometimes echoed the original arrangements and other times updated them.  Dean today recalls The Carpenters’ vocal style as an influence on the backing vocals which she and Curtis performed themselves, and indeed, the arrangement here of “Close to You” adopts the hallmarks of Richard Carpenter’s famous chart.  Though the LP was first released in 1981, Dean notes that the album “brings back so many memories of the ‘70s,” an accurate assessment of its style.

The Sound of Bacharach and David is a most welcome addition to Cherry Pop’s series of Hazell Dean reissues, following expanded editions of such albums as Always and Heart First.  Dean’s sleevenote accompanies numerous rare photographs in the CD’s booklet as well as images of the original album.  Andy Pearce has remastered from the original vinyl, as the master tapes for this project are long lost.

After the jump: Cherry Pop returns to the catalogue of The Weather Girls! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 23, 2014 at 14:11

Def Leppard Work It Out with Expanded Edition of “Slang”

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Def Leppard SlangDef Leppard went in a bold new direction for the release of their sixth album Slang in 1996. Now, nearly 20 years later, they’re dusting it off as a long-promised deluxe edition.

Slang came at the end of a very successful period for the British rockers. Over the past decade, the band and producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange created a host of arena-shaking, MTV-ready pop/rock albums, including Pyromania (1983), Hysteria (1987) and Adrenalize (1992) (the latter produced by the band and Mike Shipley and executive produced by Lange). Thirteen Top 10 singles were taken from those albums in the U.S., and many were released on the band’s multiplatinum compilation Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits, in 1995.

After a period of personal trials, including divorce, death and illness, the members of the band – vocalist Joe Elliott, guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell (who’d joined the band after the death of Steve Clark, who succumbed to substance abuse early in the recording of Adrenalize), bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen – convened in Spain without Lange to record a much more organic, introspective album than its predecessors. (Part of the key to this new formula was a new, acoustic drum kit taken up by Rick Allen, whose iconic drum effects crystallized the band’s early sound.)

The result? An album that, unfortunately, was the beginning of the end of Def Leppard’s commercial hot streak. It was their first album not to go platinum in the U.S., missed the Billboard Top 10 and had few hit singles in any territory (the title track was the highest-charting from the album, managing only No. 17 in the U.K.; in America, none of the songs charted on the Hot 100, though “Work It Out” was a Top 10 Mainstream Rock single). But the band remains partial to the album, issuing outtakes from the Slang sessions as B-sides to the band’s next album, Euphoria, in 1999.

And, as this new reissue on the band’s own Bludgeon Riffola label indicates, there was much experimentation during the album sessions. This two-disc set includes the original album, five previously-released bonus tracks and a disc of 14 unreleased demos, alternate mixes and outtakes.

Slang: Deluxe Edition will be available on three different formats: a double-disc CD edition, a 180-gram double-vinyl set featuring the original album and seven of the 19 bonus tracks included on the CD and a digital edition which will feature “its own set of exclusive songs” (as yet undetermined). A digital Slang Video Collection will feature the original promo videos for “Slang,” “Work It Out” and “All I Ever Wanted.” Everything is available February 11; full bonus track specs and Amazon links are after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 23, 2014 at 12:50

Posted in Def Leppard, News, Reissues

Wanna Have Fun: Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual” Revisited for 30th Anniversary

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Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual

She’s So Unusual!  On October 14, 1983, the world discovered that of Cyndi Lauper, catapulting the artist’s debut album to Top 5 status.  The native New Yorker picked up two Grammy Awards for She’s So Unusual, and over the years has remained in the limelight as a recording star, club favorite, Broadway composer, fashion icon and LGBT rights activist.  On April 1, Legacy Recordings will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Lauper’s first album with a reissue available in 1-CD, 2-CD and 1-LP formats.  The centerpiece of the campaign is the 2-CD edition, which will feature never-before-released demos, rehearsals, live performances and more.  All three editions will also boast three new remixes, hardly an unusual move for an artist whose music still reverberates on the dancefloor.  Lauper’s “Sex is in the Heel,” from her Tony Award-winning musical Kinky Boots, was a Top 10 Dance hit in the U.S. even before the show opened on Broadway.

She’s So Unusual marked Lauper’s creative freedom following the break-up of her band Blue Angel.  In addition to four tracks co-written by Lauper including “Time After Time,” the LP repertoire included tracks by Prince (“When You Were Mine”), Robert Hazard (“Girls Just Want to Have Fun”), Jules Shear (“All Through the Night” and Lauper co-write “I’ll Kiss You”), former Hollies member Mikael Rickfors (“Yeah, Yeah”) and even the late Al Sherman, father of Disney Legends Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman (the brief title track, written as “He’s So Unusual” in the 1920s!).

Five singles were released from the Portrait Records album, and all five reached the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 30 – “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” “All Through the Night” and “Money Changes Everything.”  The first four all shot to the Top 5, with “Time After Time” reaching the coveted No. 1 spot and “Girls” not far behind at No. 2.  Produced by Rick Chertoff and featuring Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian of the band The Hooters as well as Brill Building legend Ellie Greenwich on background vocals, She’s So Unusual made Lauper the first female artist to have four Top 10 singles on a debut album. It went on to sell over 16 million copies worldwide and netted Grammys for Best Album Package as well as for Lauper as Best New Artist.  Her unique fashion sense and bold, colorful personality also made her a natural for the nascent music video form, and she picked up an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

All formats of She’s So Unusual include three new remixes of album tracks – the Yolanda Be Cool remix of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and Nervo and Bent Collective remixes of “Time After Time.”  (On the LP, these remixes will be included on a download card.)  The 2-CD edition includes a nine-track second disc, with demos of “Girls” (two different versions) and “Money Changes Everything” plus rehearsal recordings of “Rules and Regulations” and “All Through the Night,” a 1984 live performance from Boston of “Witness,” Arthur Baker’s remix of “She-Bop,” a rough mix of “Time After Time,” and the non-LP B-side “Right Train, Wrong Track,” co-written by Lauper, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Kent.

In addition to these additional recordings, the physical deluxe edition includes a rather unusual surprise from the team at Legacy. It includes a reusable sticker set, including vinyl cut outs of Lauper’s cutting-edge outfits and accessories that can be arranged in different combinations on a 3-D fold-out backdrop of the bedroom featured in her “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” music video.   Author Jancee Dunn, who worked with Lauper on her 2012 autobiography A Memoir, penned the new liner notes.  The upcoming releases do not carry over the live bonus tracks (“All Through the Night,” “Money Changes Everything” and “She Bop”) appended to the 2000 reissue.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

January 23, 2014 at 10:28