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Archive for March 3rd, 2014

Neil Young’s “Time Fades Away” to Be Reissued on Record Store Day

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Time Fades AwayHe’s called it “the worst record I ever made,” but Neil Young’s putting his 1973 live album Time Fades Away back into print for only the second time, as part of a limited box set for Record Store Day.

The Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 5-8 box set, limited to 3,500 copies at participating independent retailers on this year’s Record Store Day events on April 19, will feature 180-gram reissues of Time Fades AwayOn the Beach (1974), Tonight’s the Night (1975) and Zuma (1975), newly remastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering, pressed at Pallas MFG Germany and featuring reproduced artwork overseen by Young’s longtime designer Gary Burden. (In 2009, the first volume in this box set series was released, featuring similarly lush vinyl reissues of Neil Young (1968), Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969), After the Gold Rush (1970) and Harvest (1972).)

Time Fades Away, for its own part, remains a crucial link in Young’s early career. A live album backed by Young’s Harvest-era band The Stray Gators (pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, pianist Jack Nitzsche, bassist Tim Drummond and drummer Johnny Barbata) and consisting entirely of new material, Time Fades Away was recorded on a lengthy tour marred by alcohol abuse, erratic behavior and, by the trek’s end, a throat infection that required David Crosby and Graham Nash to supply some much-needed support. Recorded directly from the soundboard to 16-track by a Quad-8 CompuMix, the first digital mixer of its kind, the album retained a murky, uncertain quality, but critics were quick to praise it. Despite this, Young has largely disavowed its existence, dismissing the “audio verite” approach in a liner notes passage that was cut from the beloved Decade compilation in 1977. A 1995 HDCD release was scrapped late in development, and despite constant petitions there appear to be no plans to issue the album anywhere other than vinyl. (Young did indicate that a “sequel” drawn from alternate selections on the same tour would appear in the long-gestating Archives Vol. 2 box set.)

Written by Mike Duquette

March 3, 2014 at 15:18

Working Men: Rush Announce Deluxe Vinyl Reissue of Debut LP

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Rush ReDISCovered

A little over four decades after its first release, Canadian rockers Rush will reissue their first album on high-quality vinyl in April.

Rush, the band’s self-titled debut on the band’s own label Moon Records, was a primitive but promising start for the band. Singer/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer John Rutsey (who, within a year’s time, would be replaced by current drummer Neil Peart) turned out a low-fidelity but enthusiastic batch of originals bearing a stronger resemblance to other ’60s and ’70s hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Cream than their later, more progressive, genre-defining works.

Only 3,500 copies of the album were pressed on first run, but one of those made their way to Cleveland disc jockey Donna Halper of WMMS-FM, who added album cut “Working Man” to her playlists. The album was quickly repressed and reissued by Mercury Records from the same album master; later pressings featured a remix by producer Terry Brown, who would helm several of the band’s classics including 2112 and Moving Pictures.

This special box set reissue, part of UMe’s “ReDISCovered” vinyl series, goes back to the original analog stereo master, “cut to copper plates using the Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) process at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.” The 200-gram audiophile vinyl pressing will be packaged in a recreation of the original Moon Records sleeve, down to the original matrix number etched into the disc, and will also feature “a 16″ x 22″ reproduction of the first Rush promo poster, three 5″ x 7″ lithographs of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey, a 12″ x 12″ Rush Family Tree poster, and a digital download card,” all in a lidded custom box.

You can pre-order the set at the link below; it’s available on April 15.

Rush: ReDISCovered Box Set (originally released as Moon Records MN-100, 1974 – reissued Mercury/UMe, 2014)

  1. Finding My Way
  2. Need Some Love
  3. Take a Friend
  4. Here Again
  5. What You’re Doing
  6. In the Mood
  7. Before and After
  8. Working Man

Written by Mike Duquette

March 3, 2014 at 13:49

Posted in Box Sets, News, Reissues, Rush, Vinyl

Review: Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, “The King of Soul” and “The Queen of Soul”

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Otis Redding - King of SoulAll hail The King and Queen.

The careers of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin have been inextricably linked since Franklin entered New York’s Atlantic Studios on Valentine’s Day, 1967, with producer Jerry Wexler to record Redding’s “Respect.”  Even before that pivotal moment, however, the two artists shared a label in Atlantic Records (distributor of Redding’s Stax records) and an ability to invest any song with raw honesty and unvarnished emotion.  Atlantic and Rhino Records have recently issued two newly remastered 4-CD retrospectives dedicated to Redding and Franklin: respectively, The King of Soul and The Queen of Soul.

“Respect” was originally cut by the soul shouter supreme and producer Steve Cropper at Stax’s Memphis, Tennessee studios in July 1965, and became his second-biggest pop hit to that point.  In Redding’s original, he’s insistent as he addresses his woman.  His intensity is as blazing as the song’s horns are frantically bleating.  She can do him wrong, do what she wants to, take his money – but he demands “a little respect” when he comes home.  It’s what he wants, sure.  But moreover, it’s what he needs.  It’s no surprise that Redding’s urgent entreaty to maintain his pride and self-worth took on greater depth against the backdrop of the civil rights movement.  Redding’s personal plea had universal resonance.

When Franklin approached “Respect,” she turned it on its ear.  Whereas Redding asked, “What you want?  Honey, you got it!  What you need, baby you got it!,” Aretha  taunted with equal measures of command and sass, “What you want?  Baby, I got it!  What you need?  You know I got it!”  Franklin and Wexler fleshed the song out, adding an instrumental bridge courtesy of saxophone great King Curtis, and dialing up the funk but relaxing the frenetic tempo.  Aretha, with her sisters/background singers Erma and Carolyn, also personalized the song, throwing in some indelible ad libs (“Sock it to me,” “Take care, T.C.B.!”) and demanding her “propers.”  She might give her man all her money, but there’s no doubt of who’s in control.  The anthemic quality already inherent in Otis’ “Respect” came to the fore in Aretha’s empowered reading, which was crowned by one final, key touch – the spelling out of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”  Her electrifying reinvention went to the top of both the Pop and R&B (Black Singles) charts, prompting Redding to kiddingly stammer that it was the song “that a girl took away from me, a friend of mine, this girl, she just took this song!”

“Respect,” of course, features on both box sets – twice on Redding’s collection, once in the studio and once in a live setting.  But that immortal song is just the tip of the iceberg for these compilations.  In addition to offering a wealth of some of the most sublime soul music ever recorded, The King of Soul and The Queen of Soul serve as affordable, no-frills primers for those who don’t own all of the artists’ individual Atlantic albums on compact disc.  The Redding set is particularly valuable in this regard; while most of Franklin’s CD releases are still in print, Rhino’s reissues of Redding’s Stax/Volt/Atco catalogue are considerably more difficult to find.

The King of Soul (Atlantic/Rhino R2 541306, 2014) coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the late legend’s debut album, 1964’s Pain in My Heart.  Over its 92 tracks, these four discs trace Redding’s meteoric rise to superstar status, spanning the fast and furious period between 1962 and his tragic passing in 1967.  King of Soul draws on both studio and live recordings, including key singles and tracks from such landmark albums as 1965’s Otis Blue, 1967’s Carla Thomas duets set King and Queen, and 1968’s posthumously-released The Dock of the Bay.  Every one of Redding’s original studio albums through 1970 is represented here,  and compiler Reggie Collins has also drawn upon the 1968 various-artists album Soul Christmas and 1993’s lavish, now out-of-print Rhino box set Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding.  (Collins was credited as the “research director” on that box.)  As Redding’s catalogue is limited in size, some albums are nearly-complete here, such as 1965’s torrid Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul.  Ten out of the original LP’s eleven tracks are reprised.  (The lone omission is Redding’s version of the Sam Cooke hit “Wonderful World.”)  As Stax did not begin recording in stereo until 1965, the majority of the first three CDs are in mono; the fourth disc is nearly all-stereo.

After the jump: more on Otis, plus the lowdown on Aretha’s Queen of Soul! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 3, 2014 at 12:51

Review: Johnny Winter, “True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story”

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Johnny Winter - True to the BluesIf there’s some truth to the importance of being in the right place at the right time, Johnny Winter might attest to it.  The slide guitar virtuoso came up in the ranks of show business when blues-rock was rising in popularity.  He embodied an American alternative to Clapton, Page or Mayall, and offered a grittier take than Hendrix, more of the earth than the cosmos.  Since debuting in 1969, Winter has rarely strayed from his signature style even as he’s stretched its boundaries, remaining True to the Blues.  And that’s the entirely-fitting title chosen for Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings’ new large-scale retrospective of his still-strong career.  Over four CDs and 58 tracks, True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story stands a testament not just to the soul and inspiration of its subject but to the durability of the blues idiom itself.  If stylistic diversity isn’t one of the strong suits of True to the Blues, its subject’s artistic consistency is certainly one of its hallmarks.

Following an incendiary guest spot at New York’s Fillmore East, the Mississippi-born, Texas-raised albino scored what was reportedly the biggest-ever sum paid to a new signing to Columbia Records: $600,000.00.  (Remember: that’s in 1969 dollars!)  Mike Bloomfield (subject of another recent, engrossing box set from Columbia/Legacy) introduced his friend Winter at the Fillmore East in December, 1968 as “the baddest motherfucker,” adding an understated “This cat can play!” for good measure.  Coming from the great Bloomfield, that was no small compliment.  The proof is in the pudding, a scorching 11-minute jam on B.B. King’s “It’s My Own Fault.”  It’s just one electrifying moment for blues-rock devotees here.

The chronologically-sequenced (in order of recording, not release) box set draws on 27 albums originally released on labels including Liberty/Imperial, Columbia, Blue Sky/Epic, Alligator, Point Blank/Virgin, Friday Music, Collectors’ Choice Music, Megaforce and Legacy.  It traces his development as an artist both in studio and live settings, accompanied by a number of greats including Bloomfield and Al Kooper, Dr. John, Derek Trucks, Booker T. Jones, Muddy Waters and even Vince Gill.  Though Winter’s licks were torrid, an underlying, infectious joy in sharing this music often permeated his approach.

His swaggering attitude was exemplified on Second Winter, his sophomore Columbia studio effort from 1969 (and that rarest of creatures, a double-LP set with only three sides of music!).  Winter kicked Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” up a notch via a startlingly-reinvented, rip-roaring take, with his near-spoken delivery as idiosyncratic as Dylan’s own.  If Winter’s singing voice might have kept him from greater success – the same was often said of Bloomfield – his harsh, throaty yelp was never less than wholly authentic.  (For comparison’s sake, the box set also makes room for a 1993 blazing live version of “Highway 61” from Dylan’s 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, on which the still-fiery Winter is backed by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn of Booker T. and the M.G.’s, plus G.E. Smith and session vets Anton Fig and Jim Keltner.)  The inclusion of Dylan, Percy Mayfield (“Memory Pain”) and Little Richard (“Miss Ann,” with a tasty saxophone solo from Edgar) covers alongside his own material like the breakneck “Hustled Down in Texas” on Second Winter typified Winter’s catholic tastes.  His style enlivened R&B, rock and roll, rockabilly and soul, all of which are represented on True to the Blues.  And as for that vocal instrument?  Winter is almost sweet on a 1977 cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do” from his White, Hot and Blue album.

Unsurprisingly, each of the four discs contains a substantial amount of live material, as Winter’s rawest performances have been among his finest.  True to the Blues heats up early with “Leland Mississippi Blues” from Woodstock (backed by brother Edgar on keyboards, plus Tommy Shannon on bass and “Uncle” John Turner on drums).  So powerful was Winter’s performance at Yasgur’s Farm that the band sounds much larger than its actual size.  His guttural growl and strutting guitar pyrotechnics upped the rock quotient and certainly must have brought some of the audience members down to earth from a heightened level of consciousness!

Just as good are three previously unreleased performances from the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival, with Johnny backed once again by Edgar, plus two members of The McCoys (“Hang On Sloopy,” “Fever”) – Rick Derringer and Randy Hobbs.  With Derringer, Hobbs and Rick’s brother Randy Zehringer, Johnny formed the band Johnny Winter And.  Fellow guitarist Rick spurred Winter on to even more creativity when their axes were pitted in battle.  The band’s 1970 eponymous studio album introduced Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” the most commercial song Winter had recorded to that point.  The vocals were a bit clearer, the musical interplay a little tighter, but the raw power and searing guitar pyrotechnics and flair still intact.  Heavy metal thunder courses through the psychedelic “Guess I’ll Go Away” while Winter’s rapport with Derringer is evident on the drawling “Out on a Limb.” High-octane covers in the muscular, fluid power-blues manner are highlights throughout True to the Blues; he even out-performs The Rolling Stones on their own “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” in a 1971 performance with his band “Johnny Winter And” from the long-shuttered Florida amusement park Pirate’s World.  But Winter’s own ample contributions to the blues-rock songbook are also plentiful.

After the jump, we have much more on Johnny! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 3, 2014 at 09:56

Posted in Box Sets, Johnny Winter, News, Reviews

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