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Archive for March 4th, 2014

75 Years of Blue Note Records to Be Honored in Two Years of Reissues

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Blue Note 75

Venerable jazz label Blue Note Records celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and they’re celebrating well into the next year with an ambitious campaign that will see parent company Universal Music Group reissue dozens of titles on vinyl through 2015.

Founded in 1939 by mogul Alfred Lion and musician Max Margulis, Blue Note started as your average traditional jazz label before 1947, at which point the company started to focus on innovations in the genre, namely bebop and hard bop. Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Art Blakey, Fats Navarro, Hank Mobley, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock are just a few names that recorded for the label at some point in their storied careers. The label began to fade by the late ’60s, when it was acquired by Liberty Records, which was in turn acquired by United Artists (the conglomerate of which was bought by EMI in 1979). However, an early CD-era reissue program saw the name revived in the mid-’80s, and the label became associated with many of Capitol-EMI’s jazz ventures since – most notably Come Away with Me, the Grammy-winning 2002 debut album by Norah Jones.

Of the ambitious venture to release classic albums from the Blue Note repertoire on vinyl, five at a time, between this March and October of 2015(!), label president and noted producer Don Was issued this statement:

Two years ago, we decided to begin remastering the jewels of the Blue Note catalog in hi-def resolutions of 96k and 192k. In order to develop a guiding artistic philosophy for this delicate endeavor, we donned our lab coats, ran dozens of sonic experiments and carefully referenced every generation of our reissues. Ultimately, we decided that our goal would be to protect the original intentions of the artists, producers and engineers who made these records and that, in the case of pre-digital-era albums, these intentions were best represented by the sound and feel of their first-edition vinyl releases. Working with a team of dedicated and groovy engineers, we found a sound that both captured the feel of the original records while maintaining the depth and transparency of the master tapes…the new remasters are really cool!

While these new versions will become available in Digital Hi Def, CD and the Mastered for iTunes formats, the allure of vinyl records is WAY too potent to ignore. This year, Blue Note – along with our friends at Universal Music Enterprises – is launching a major 75th Anniversary Vinyl Initiative that is dedicated to the proposition that our catalog should be readily available at a low cost – featuring high quality pressings and authentic reproductions of Blue Note’s iconic packaging. Beginning in March 2014, we’ll start rolling out five remastered vinyl reissues every month. Although this program begins in celebration of Blue Note’s 75th Anniversary, our catalog runs so deep that we will faithfully be reissuing five albums a month for many years to come!

The first two batches will be available in stores March 25 and April 22, featuring titles by Coltrane, Rollins, Hancock, Adderley, Wayne Shorter and more. Pre-order links for these vinyl reissues are after the jump; click here for the full list of planned titles!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 4, 2014 at 15:00

Brotherhood’s “Complete Recordings” Show Another Side of Former Paul Revere and the Raiders Members

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BrotherhoodRock’s back pages are littered with “creative differences.”   Such differences split Paul Revere and the Raiders into two warring factions – Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay on one side; Phil “Fang” Volk, Mike “Smitty” Smith and Drake “The Kid” Levin on the other.  The Volk-Smith-Levin triumvirate bristled at the more pop direction that the onetime garage band had been taking, and were none too pleased with the studio musicians being enlisted to beef up the Raiders’ recordings.  In early 1967, the trio departed the band, leading to litigation and acrimony.  But both parties soldiered on.  Revere and Lindsay were joined in The Raiders by Freddy Weller, Joe Correro, Jr. and Keith Allison, and Volk, Levin, and Smith formed The Brotherhood.  But while Revere continued to notch hits, The Brotherhood wasn’t quite so lucky.  Its small three-album discography for RCA has gone all but forgotten in the ensuing years.  Luckily, Real Gone Music has found this missing link in Raiders history.  Brotherhood’s The Complete Recordings (RGM-0220, 2014) brings together all three of these fascinating LPs in one deluxe 2-CD set.

With a new label and newfound autonomy, bassist Volk, guitarist Levin and drummer Smith took few cues from their old band when they formed Brotherhood.  Organist Ron Collins rounded out the group which tried to live up to its name; on the first album, every songwriting credit was shared by the three core members.  Brotherhood’s first, self-titled long-player from 1968 began hopefully with the sound of applause, but despite the wealth of possibilities in its twelve tracks, a listener could be forgiven for wondering, “Just who are these guys?”  The versatile talents of Brotherhood failed to create a cohesive album for their debut, but succeeded in showing off the many musical styles they had mastered, gleefully jumping from genre to genre – at times in the same song!  The opening track “Somebody” veers from snarling garage rock to showbiz brassiness with a dash of reggae for good measure, but it gets even stranger from there.  Levin’s “Pastel Blue” is a gently wistful bossa nova tune, while “Lady Faire” is a decidedly Parisian cabaret jaunt.  “Box Guitar” is a slightly twee soft-shoe vaudeville track with enjoyable tack piano from Collins, but none of these tracks could have satisfied expectations of a new band built around the talents of the Raiders’ rhythm section.

Despite the smiling faces on the album cover, darkness permeates much of Brotherhood, too.  One rocking track pleads to “Close the Door” (“before they find us…”), and the specter of Vietnam looms over the tense, slow and lysergic “Doin’ the Right Thing (The Way),” featuring Levin on sitar.  (Volk’s brother Capt. George Francis Volk of the U.S. Army was killed in Vietnam in 1967.)  “Love for Free” begins on an ominous note before ceding to harmony-psychedelia.  The band indulged its baroque, impressionistic sensibilities on “Seasons” (with a guest cello spot) and the lyrically-cryptic “Ice Cream.”  Brotherhood was an album in search of a single, as the band was aware.  They settled on “Jump Out the Window,” with the LP’s most straightforward and enjoyable pop-rock melody.  The lyric urges the title act as a kind of liberation, and most of it is innocuous enough:  “I’m a hip Mary Poppins/I fly so naturally/I go where the wind blows/And the wind knows I’m free…”  But the plea to jump out the window likely didn’t help it climb the pop charts.  Bill Kopp’s comprehensive liner notes find Phil Volk confessing that he found the song’s message “irresponsible.”  By the time of the album’s finale, the hypnotic, Moog-splashed “Forever” as sung by Levin, it was still difficult to discern what kind of band Brotherhood was, and wanted to be.

Where did the band head next?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 4, 2014 at 13:52

Out of the Dungeons: Numero Collects Dark Fantasy Rock, Creates “Darkscorch” Game

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Darkscorch CanticlesIn past years, Numero Group’s Wayfaring Strangers series has taken adventurous listeners along to hear Ladies from the Canyon, Guitar Soli and Lonesome Heroes, drawing on rare or privately-pressed folk music and casting it in a new light.  With its latest release, however, Numero is traversing even more unexpected territory.  The punningly-titled Warfaring Strangers volume entitled Darkscorch Canticles will immerse listeners in a world of mystics and mages, devils and demons, and yes, dungeons and dragons.  The 16-track anthology, due in stores today on CD, LP and MP3, is a first-of-its-kind compilation of fantasy-based hard rock from the 1970s.  But more unbelievably, it will soon also become available in one of the most unusual box set configurations we’ve seen in our four-plus years here at The Second Disc: as a bona-fide role playing game!

If you’ve never heard of Triton Warrior, Stone Axe, Stoned Mace, Hellstorm, Medusa, or (doing Medusa one better) Gorgon Medusa, you’re not alone.  But you might not forget them after spinning Darkscorch Canticles.  “This music hails from an occluded realm, somewhere just beyond the pot-addled minds of its creators,” Numero explains.  Those young minds were likely listening to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin – and maybe Camel or even early, pre-glam Tyrannosaurus Rex – while exploring new worlds in Dungeons and Dragons, the role-playing game that first appeared in 1974 to spearhead the RPG genre.  “In this collection,” Numero states, “medieval Bonham thunk and febrile Iommi guitar leads crowd out the bluesy Americana that foregrounded [Zeppelin and Sabbath], replacing hippie pastoralism with mythology, armored conflict, sorcery, and doom.”  This is garage rock from a world in which wizards, elves, dwarves, monsters and wizards might be hiding next door to the garage in question.

Hit the jump for much more on Darkscorch Chronicles – the CD and the role-playing game – including the complete track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 4, 2014 at 10:34

Release Round-Up: Week of March 4

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Little Feat boxLittle Feat, Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

The eclectic rock band’s near two-decade run on Warner Bros. is celebrated in this new box set, featuring all the band’s original studio albums, an expanded edition of the live Waiting for Columbus and a bonus disc of recordings sourced from the band’s 2000 box set Hotcakes & Outtakes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Dr John - Gris GrisThe Grass Roots, The Complete Original Dunhill/ABC Hit Singles / Irma Thomas, Full Time Woman — The Lost Cotillion Album / Professor Longhair, The Last Mardi Gras / Dr. John, The Night Tripper, Gris Gris / David Ruffin, My Whole World Ended/Feelin’ Good / David Ruffin, David Ruffin/Me ‘N Rock ‘N Roll Are Here to Stay / Marilyn McCoo, Solid Gold (Expanded Edition) / Charley Pride, The Gospel Collection (Real Gone Music)

Real Gone’s March madness features a host of titles, including two Mardi Gras-themed offerings from two New Orleans legends: Dr. John’s first album and a double-disc live set from jazz pianist Professor Longhair.

The Grass Roots: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Irma Thomas: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Professor Longhair: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Dr. John: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
David Ruffin #1: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
David Ruffin #2: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Marilyn McCoo: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Charley Pride: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bob Dylan - 30th ConcertBob Dylan, The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Columbia/Legacy)

This multi-artist live tribute to The Bard, recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1992, is reissued as an expanded CD set as well as in a newly-restored DVD or Blu-Ray version with unreleased performances and behind-the-scenes footage.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
BD: Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.

A Beard of Stars DeluxeT. Rex, A Beard of Stars T. Rex: Deluxe Editions (Universal U.K.)

Before Marc Bolan hit the sweet spot, 1970 saw him cutting two albums – the last credited to “Tyrannosaurus Rex” and the first credited to “T. Rex,” respectively – that saw him moving from psych-folk to the kind of music that made him a legend. Both albums are expanded with unreleased demos, outtakes and single material (including beloved glam cut “Ride a White Swan”).

A Beard of Stars: 2CD (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.) / 2LP (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)
T. Rex: 2CD (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.) / 2LP (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Rufus VibrateRufus Wainwright, Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright (DGC/Interscope/UMe)

A greatest-hits compilation from the theatrical singer-songwriter, son of fellow-renowned musician Loudon Wainwright III.

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

Bob FrankBob Frank, Bob Frank / Peter Walker, “Second Poem to Kamela” or Gypsies Are Important (Light in the Attic)

Light in the Attic kicks off its new Vanguard Vault series exploring the “obscure, non-traditional side of the legendary Vanguard Records archive” with the 1972 self-titled album from Bob Frank (“the best songwriter you never heard” per Big Star producer Jim Dickinson) and the rare 1968 follow-up to Peter Walker’s mystical psych-folk Rainy Day Raga LP.

Bob Frank: LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Peter Walker: LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Heart Magazine SACDHeart, Magazine / Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter, Paul and Mary (Audio Fidelity)

New, Steve Hoffman-mastered editions of two classic titles on hybrid SACD.

Heart: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Peter, Paul and Mary: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 4, 2014 at 08:32