The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for May 13th, 2014

The Salsoul Orchestra Goes “High,” “Up the Yellow Brick Road”

with one comment

Salsoul Orchestra - Up the Yellow Brick RoadBig Break Records’ non-chronological series of remastered and expanded reissues for The Salsoul Orchestra has already taken listeners from 1975’s eponymous debut to 1982’s farewell release Heat It Up. With the recent releases of 1978’s Up the Yellow Brick Road and 1979’s How High, the label has filled in the gaps of its lavishly produced program of the Orchestra’s classic non-holiday studio albums. (No fear, however – there are other collaborative albums and even a collection credited to The Salsoul Strings still left to reissue!)

For what would turn out to be his final album leading The Salsoul Orchestra, producer-arranger-conductor Vince Montana, Jr. sought his inspiration from Hollywood, often by way of Broadway. Up the Yellow Brick Road featured just five tracks, each inspired by a different film: The Wiz (1978, based on the 1975 musical), West Side Story (1961, based on the 1957 musical), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978, based on The Beatles’ 1967 album and director Tom O’Horgan’s 1974 Off-Broadway staging), Fiddler on the Roof (1976, based on the 1964 musical) and A Star Is Born (1976). With this in mind, the album could have been sacrilegious: Disco Beatles? Disco Bernstein? But with the sure hand of bandleader Montana, the Orchestra’s MFSB-honed core (Bobby Eli and T.J. Tindall on guitar, Jack Faith on flute, Larry Washington on congas, Don Renaldo on violin) and the Sweethearts of Sigma (Barbara Ingram, Yvette Benton and Carla Benson) on vocals, the result is enjoyable camp crafted with impeccable musicianship.

Unsurprisingly, Charlie Smalls’ effusive invitation to “Ease on Down the Road” lends itself most to the disco treatment, and Montana’s arrangement of the Wiz showstopper isn’t too far away from Harold Wheeler’s original. What would Leonard Bernstein have thought of Montana’s West Side Story medley of five selections from the Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim score? It’s hard to say, but seeing as how Bernstein believed in making music accessible to the most people possible, it’s not inconceivable that he would have approved. After all, West Side has always been music made for dancing: Bernstein’s magnificent score captured the intensity and rhythms of New York City, accompanying the dynamic, now-iconic choreography of Jerome Robbins. (The 12-inch Disco Version of the West Side medley is included as the bonus track here.) An even lengthier medley of Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s Fiddler on the Roof tunes goes a bit further astray, incorporating Ernest Gold’s theme to the film Exodus, his own “Sherele” and even the traditional “Hava Nagila” into its musical mélange.

Montana’s take on “Sgt. Pepper’s” – truly the odd track out here – cleverly begins with a blast of “A Day in the Life.” He wisely avoids full-on disco for the track, instead ceding center stage to The Sweethearts of Sigma who coquettishly deliver the Lennon/McCartney lyrics and are rather persuasive intoning, “We’d like to take you home with us!” Montana adds a bit of woozy brass interplay for an enjoyable reinterpretation. A lovely, lightly Latin rendering of Barbra Streisand and Paul Williams’ Academy Award-winning ballad “Evergreen” closes out Up the Yellow Brick Road. The Sweethearts are accompanied by lushly decorative strings, and Montana’s own, prominent vibes. “Evergreen” would also appear on How Deep is Your Love, the soft 1978 album credited to The Salsoul Strings.

Don’t miss a thing!  Hit the jump for more!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 13, 2014 at 10:39

Posted in News, Reissues, Reviews, Salsoul Orchestra

Tagged with

Release Round-Up: Week of May 13

with 2 comments

Michael Jackson - XscapeMichael Jackson, Xscape (Epic)

Where was this three years ago? This collection of eight outtakes, augmented with tasteful future-retro production by Timbaland, Stargate, L.A. Reid and others, is possibly the best project to escape the MJ vaults yet. For the discerning fan, Epic’s done you a solid, offering a deluxe package with the same songs in their untouched demo form. It’s really something.

Standard CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Brain Salad SurgeryEmerson, Lake & Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery: Deluxe Edition (Sony Music U.K.)

One of ELP’s defining albums is now available in an imported deluxe multi-disc box featuring original and new stereo remixes of the album, an alternate assembly from rare and unreleased outtakes and DVDs featuring documentary footage and a 5.1 mix of the album.

3CD/2DVD/1LP: Amazon U.K.
2CD/1DVD: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S. (on Razor & Tie 7/1)

A Boy Named Charlie BrownThe Vince Guaraldi Trio, Jazz Impressions of A Boy Named Charlie Brown (Fantasy)

Before A Charlie Brown Christmas, this was Vince Guaraldi’s first album devoted to Charles M. Schultz’s lovable comic strip hero – the score to a never-aired documentary. It’s been remastered and expanded for its 50th anniversary, and a full story is forthcoming!

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

Porter Dolly boxPorter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, Just Between You and Me: The Complete Recordings 1967-1976 (Bear Family)

A brilliant six-disc box set chronicling the dozen-plus RCA Victor albums created by this immortal country duo, not to mention more than a dozen rare and unreleased tracks. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Beat - Complete BoxThe Beat, The Complete Studio Recordings (Edsel)

Edsel’s no stranger to The (English) Beat’s catalogue, but this smart new box keeps it to the essentials: all three original studio LPs, plus a disc of essential B-sides and remixes. (Amazon U.S. Amazon U.K.)

Elaine Paige - Ultimate CollectionElaine Paige, The Ultimate Collection (Warner Music UK)

A brilliant career-spanning compilation from the U.K. musical theatre star, available in standard and deluxe editions with some choice rarities to boot.

Standard Version:  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Special Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Delicate Sound of ThunderPink Floyd, Delicate Sound of Thunder (Parlophone)

A new remaster of Pink Floyd’s 1988 double live album, recorded on the Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ned Doheny - Separate OceansNed Doheny, Separate Oceans (Numero Group)

A cult favorite on the edges of the California rock sound of the ’70s, Ned Doheny is celebrated with a new compilation combining some previously released tracks for Columbia and Asylum with ten unreleased demos – three of which feature the talents of Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles.

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


The Sound - Jeopardy Plus BoxThe Sound, Jeopardy/From the Lion’s Mouth/All Fall Down…Plus (Edsel)

A criminally underrated British post-punk band gets their due on a new set from Edsel collating the band’s first three albums, all expanded, with a DVD of BBC performances. (Amazon U.S. Amazon U.K.)

Glad All Over BDThe Dave Clark Five, The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over DVD & Blu-ray (PBS Home Video)

Fifty years after the DC5 took part in the British Invasion, this documentary features new testimonials from famous fans and contemporaries plus great, rarely-seen archival footage.

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

Androcles OST

Original Television Soundtrack Recording, Androcles and the Lion (Masterworks Broadway)

The RCA Victor soundtrack recording of composer/lyricist Richard Rodgers’ 1967 television musical Androcles and the Lion – starring Ed Ames, Noel Coward, John Cullum, Inga Swenson and Norman Wisdom is receiving its first-ever reissue in any format exclusively from Masterworks in a limited quantity of MOD CD-Rs as well as digital download.

Dave Van Ronk - Monterey

Dave Van Ronk, Live in Monterey 1998 (Omnivore)

Omnivore presents sixteen never-before-released live tracks from the great folk troubadour who inspired Inside Llewyn Davis. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)