The Second Disc

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Archive for May 8th, 2014

Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Dave Matthews Band’s Debut Makes Vinyl Premiere

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Dave Matthews Band - Remember Two ThingsFor many, it’s just not summer without a Dave Matthews Band tour, and on May 16, the favorite sons of Charlottesville, Virginia will kick off their latest U.S. trek on which fans can expect to hear band favorites in freshly improvised style. While the tour will likely feature contemporary and vintage material, the group will revisit where it all began on June 17 with the Bama Rags/RCA/Legacy Recordings expanded reissue of Remember Two Things. The 1993 album, primarily consisting of music recorded live at three venues, was the first official release on the group’s own Bama Rags label, and paved the way for DMB’s 1994 major label breakthrough Under the Table and Dreaming.

Remember Two Things, certified platinum in 2002, introduced singer/guitarist Dave Matthews, drummer Carter Beauford, saxophonist LeRoi Moore, violinist Boyd Tinsley and bassist Stefan Lessard, plus special guest guitarist Tim Reynolds on four tracks. The LP was recorded live at three clubs, two of which were located in the band’s native Virginia: Trax in Charlottesville, VA, Flood Zone in Richmond, VA and The Muse in Nantucket, MA. Two studio tracks, “Minarets” and “Seek Up” were recorded at Flat Five Studios in Salem, VA. Remember introduced listeners to live versions of “Ants Marching” and “Satellite,” both of which would be featured on the Steve Lillywhite-produced Under the Table.

After the jump: what extras will you find on the new reissue? Plus: the full track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 8, 2014 at 14:12

Review: Real Gone Offers Temptations From David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks

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David Ruffin - My Whole World EndedThree recent releases from the team at Real Gone Music feature the solo music of David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, two-fifths of the original Temptations line-up. The label has reissued Ruffin’s first four albums on two single CDs, two to each CD, and has premiered Kendricks’ post-Motown LP Love Keys, for Atlantic Records, on CD.

David Ruffin had departed The Temptations after the April 1968 release of the Wish It Would Rain album, with Dennis Edwards officially joining the group onstage in July and on record in November for the joint effort Diana Ross & The Supremes Join the Temptations. Wish It Would Rain is considered to be the Temps’ final album squarely in the “classic Motown” bag, as producer Norman Whitfield steered them in a “psychedelic soul” direction with their next group-only album, Cloud Nine. The Sound of Young America, however, was abundant on Ruffin’s 1969 solo debut My Whole World Ended.

Its cover depicts an introspective-looking Ruffin, and though the album’s lyrics are filled with woeful tales – perhaps none more so than the bleak “I’ve Lost Everything I’ve Ever Loved” – it’s hardly a depressing or downbeat listen. There’s nary a straight ballad on the set, with grief-stricken lyrics usually set to mid- or uptempo melodies. It’s anchored by the No. 9 Pop/No. 2 R&B title track from a host of writers including Johnny Bristol, Jimmy Roach, Pam Sawyer and its producer, Harvey Fuqua. “My Whole World Ended” is a stunning piece of utterly despairing pop set to an irresistibly dramatic melody, which Ruffin sings as if his whole life depended upon it. Far from ending, the song augured a new beginning for the Temptation.

The numerous producers whose work was tapped to create the album – Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua, Henry Cosby, Ivy Jo Hunter and George Gordy – all put Ruffin’s powerful, versatile voice front and center. Ruffin had a husky rasp that lent itself to expressions of pain and passion, whether crooning tenderly or reaching for his falsetto register for a well-placed shriek of anguish (as he does frequently). None of the songs on My Whole World Ended would have seemed like a radical departure from his lead vocals with The Temptations although the female backing vocals on a number of the tracks lent quite a different quality. Ruffin even engages in a bit of church-inspired call-and-response with the chorus on “World of Darkness.” Another atypical track is Bristol and Marv Johnson’s “My Love is Growing Stronger” with its unusual (for Motown, anyway) waltz tempo. “Everlasting Love” is a Motown spin on the Buzz Cason/Mac Gayden song that was a hit for Robert Knight (in 1967), Love Affair (in 1968), Carl Carlton (in 1974) – just to name a few of the artists who have had chart success with the driving melody! “Flower Child” is early Motown psychedelia, with a funky, Whitfield-style rhythm and a dirty electric guitar.

Follow-up album Feelin’ Good (which doesn’t have a cover of the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse song of that title) again was the work of numerous producers, among them the returning Johnny Bristol, George Gordy and Henry Cosby plus Leonard Caston, Clay McMurray, Al Kent, Terry Johnson, Nickolas Ashford and Valarie Simpson, and even Berry Gordy. It arrived later in 1969, just months after its predecessor, with a freshly-minted cover of Jackie DeShannon’s hit “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” one of the tracks here to subtly add a contemporary edge with sitar. Other tracks were actually recorded prior to sessions for Ruffin’s first album. Though there’s still plenty of Despair, Ruffin-Style, it’s a lighter listen than My Whole World Ended, too.

The boisterous and brassy “I Could Never Be President” (“…just as long as I’m lovin’ you!”) arrived at Motown from southern soul scribes “We Three,” a.k.a. Homer Banks, Bettye Crutcher and Raymond Jackson. Closer to home, Gladys Knight, her brother and Pip Merald Knight and Johnny Bristol penned “I Pray Everyday You Won’t Regret Leaving Me,” which sizzles thanks to Ruffin’s dynamic vocal on its shifting melody. He can’t top Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s recording of Ashford and Simpson’s “What You Gave Me” (which recalls “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in its melody and arrangement) but comes close on this sweet track.  Another Motown great, Smokey Robinson, co-wrote “The Letter.”

Despite the variety of material, Ruffin simply wasn’t capable of turning in a less-than-authentic vocal performance. Berry Gordy oversaw the full-tilt gospel of “I’m So Glad I Fell for You” with the choir (credited as The Hal Davis Singers) and the requisite organ; on the other end of the spectrum is a straightforward cover of Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright” (why wasn’t that selected as the album’s title?) with the familiar piano part of the Joe Cocker recording. Oddly, a couple of tracks sound more like The Four Tops than The Temptations: Clay McMurray’s urgent “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” and Norma Toney, Albert Hamilton and William Garrett’s “One More Hurt.”

After the jump: a look at David Ruffin/Me ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll are Here to Stay and Eddie Kendricks’ Love Keys! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 8, 2014 at 12:46