The Second Disc

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Archive for July 1st, 2014

Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing: Two CTI/Kudu Albums From Hank Crawford Reissued On One CD

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Hank Crawford Two-Fer

Alto saxophonist and Ray Charles’ onetime musical director Hank Crawford had a keen ear for incorporating R&B influences into jazz, making him a perfect addition to Creed Taylor’s CTI roster.  At CTI’s Kudu imprint, Taylor encouraged his jazz artists to court the mainstream while still staying true to their artistry and musicianship, and in the process, his label released some of the best fusion jazz with funk, soul and pop influences.  Crawford’s third and fourth albums with Taylor, 1973’s Wildflower and 1974’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing, have just been reissued on one CD from Cherry Red’s Robinsongs imprint.

Crawford’s tenure at Kudu, which lasted from 1972 to 1978, was sandwiched between two similarly impressive label stints.  He began his career as a leader at Atlantic, where he remained from 1960 to 1971.  Following his time at Kudu, Crawford’s next major label affiliation was with Milestone.  He remained with the label from 1982 through 2001, with just a handful of outside projects.  Though surrounded at Kudu by the label’s virtual house band of esteemed players (including Bob James, Joe Beck, Idris Muhammad, Ron Carter, Joe Farrell and others), Crawford hardly changed the blueprint he established at Atlantic, blending original compositions with soul-jazz covers of the day’s pop and R&B hits.  Crawford brought his full range of experience, from bop to blues, to his recordings with producer Taylor.

1973’s Wildflower contained just five tracks – one original (“Mr. Blues”) and four “cover” songs encompassing one standard and three contemporary cuts.  Bob James arranged and conducted the sessions recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s New Jersey studio, playing electric piano, clavinet and the ARP synthesizer.   The top-tier team of musicians featured Richard Tee on piano and organ, Idris Muhammad on drums, Joe Beck on electric guitar and Ralph MacDonald on percussion.  The album opens with Crawford’s sizzling reinterpretation of Carole King’s then-recent, Latin-flecked “Corazon,” first recorded by the singer-songwriter on her Fantasy album.  Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright’s “You Got It Bad Girl” emanated from Wonder’s 1972 Talking Book LP.  The title track, written by Doug Edwards and Dave Richardson, was first recorded in 1972 by Canadian group Skylark.  The band notched its only hit when “Wildflower” reached the top of the Adult Contemporary chart and No. 9 on the pop survey.  Crawford reached back considerably further for the ballad “Good Morning Heartache,” first recorded by Billie Holiday in 1946.

After the jump: the scoop on Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing plus the full tracklist and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 1, 2014 at 13:11

A Dream Goes On Forever: Vintage Todd Rundgren and Utopia Show Comes To CD

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Todd and Utopia - Electric BallroomTodd Rundgren has been rather generous of late with his archive, treating fans to a number of live concert recordings on various labels including gigs from 2010 (Todd Rundgren’s Johnson Live), 1990 (Live at the Warfield Theatre, San Francisco) and 1975 (Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Live at Hammersmith Odeon). Cherry Red’s Esoteric Recordings label continues its Archive Series with the release of Todd Rundgren and Utopia’s 2-CD set Live at the Electric Ballroom: Milwaukee, 23rd October 1978.

As longtime Utopia fans will know, Electric Ballroom features the “classic” Utopia line-up that wasn’t yet completed as of the 1975 Hammersmith show of Rundgren (guitar/vocals), Willie Wilcox (drums/vocals), Roger Powell (keyboards/vocals) and Kasim Sulton (bass/vocals). At Hammersmith, John Siegler was still handling bass duties. Months before Hammersmith (Utopia’s U.K. debut), the band had recorded Another Live when it was still a six-piece group with Rundgren, Powell, Wilcox, Siegler, Moogy Klingman and Ralph Schuckett. The tight band on Electric Ballroom would more or less remain in place until disbanding in 1986; they would briefly reunite in 1992.

The concert preserved on this release was an offshoot of Rundgren’s Back to the Bars tour. In May 1978, Rundgren began a series of live shows featuring many of the musicians with whom he had worked over the years; the eventual double-album commemoration of the tour featured recordings from New York’s Bottom Line, Los Angeles’ Roxy, and Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom. Those concerts, drawing on virtually the whole of the artist’s solo career, led to another extensive U.S. tour slated to run through November of that year. Rundgren and Utopia played two nights at Milwaukee’s Electric Ballroom, a former movie house that still stands today, shuttered.

Live at the Electric Ballroom captures the first of two shows played there. It was recorded directly through the PA system’s mixing desk to be broadcast on local radio. The set skillfully balanced pop compositions with more progressive rock-oriented material, indulging both sides of Rundgren and Utopia’s talents. Most of the songs played were from Rundgren’s solo albums though a handful of songs emanated from Utopia’s Another Live and Oops! Wrong Planet including two co-writes: Rundgren and Wilcox’s “Gangrene” and Rundgren and Powell’s “Abandon City.”

The setlist stretched back to Todd’s 1973 breakthrough Something/Anything, reprising that double album’s “Couldn’t I Just Tell You,” “Black Maria,” “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” and the hit single “Hello, It’s Me.” From his next two albums A Wizard, A True Star and Todd, the band played the anthemic “Just One Victory” and a solo-piano “A Dream Goes On Forever,” respectively. Three songs hailed from 1975’s Initiation (“Real Man,” “The Death of Rock and Roll” and an epic, 12-minute “Eastern Intrigue/Initiation”) and two from its follow-up, the half-covers, half-originals Faithful (“Love of the Common Man” and “The Verb ‘To Love,’” both originals). Rundgren’s most recent solo album at the time, 1978’s Hermit of Mink Hollow, was divided into The Easy Side and The Difficult Side. From The Easy Side, it yielded a performance in Milwaukee of the stirring ballad “Can’t We Still Be Friends.” From The Difficult Side came “You Cried Wolf.”

You’ll find more details and the complete track listing after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 1, 2014 at 09:56

Posted in News, Todd Rundgren, Utopia

Release Round-Up: Week of July 1

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Legend 30 packshotBob Marley,  Legend: 30th Anniversary Edition (Tuff Gong/Island/UMe)

The best-selling reggae album of all time is back with two unreleased studio rarities and, on Blu-ray, a new 5.1 surround mix.

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

Division Bell BoxPink Floyd, The Division Bell: 20th Anniversary Edition (Parlophone)

The 20th anniversary of the last Pink Floyd album means an Immersion-level box set with a new 5.1 surround sound mix on Blu-ray and bonus vinyl pieces.

CD (2011 Discovery Edition): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD/BD/Vinyl box set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bon Jovi Super DeluxeBon Jovi, New Jersey: Deluxe Edition (Mercury/UMe)

The New Jersey rockers celebrate the 25th anniversary of their fourth album (and their 30th anniversary as a band) with an expanded edition of the record that gave us “Bad Medicine,” “I’ll Be There for You” and others. Rarities include a bonus disc of demos and a DVD of rare video content.

1CD remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD/1DVD Super Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Audio with a GFrankie Valli and The Four Seasons, The Classic Albums Box / Frankie Valli, Selected Solo Works / Various Artists, Audio with a G: Sounds of a Jersey Boy – The Music of Bob Gaudio (Rhino)

Following up the release of the soundtrack to the Jersey Boys film last week, Rhino is releasing two box sets of The Four Seasons’ complete albums and most of Valli’s solo efforts (his Motown works are omitted), plus a compilation of the best of Four Seasons member/co-writer Bob Gaudio’s lengthy discography.

The Four Seasons: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Frankie Valli: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Bob Gaudio: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Jayhawks SmileThe Jayhawks, Sound of Lies Smile Rainy Day Music: Expanded Editions (American Recordings/UMe)

The alt-country group’s full studio discography from 1997 to 2003 is remastered and expanded on CD with rare and unreleased bonus tracks.

Sound of LiesAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
SmileAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Rainy Day MusicAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Jethro Tull - Passion Play ContentsJethro Tull, A Passion Play: An Extended Performance (Chrysalis/Rhino)

Jethro Tull’s sixth album, released in 1973, get the deluxe treatment with new stereo and surround mixes from Steven Wilson plus unreleased sessions and video content.

2CD/2DVD box set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP (Wilson stereo mix of original album): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Lulu AtcoSpanky & Our Gang, The Complete Mercury Singles / Lulu, The Atco Sessions 1969-1972 / Gal Costa, Gal Costa / Ronnie Dove, The Complete Original Chart Hits 1964-1969 / X, More Fun in the New World: Expanded & Remastered Edition / The New York Community Choir, Make Every Day Count: Expanded Edition / Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 17 — Boston Garden 9/25/91 (Real Gone Music)

The latest Real Gone slate features a little something for everyone, from harmonic ’60s pop (Spanky & Our Gang) to ’70s R&B (The New York Community Choir) to ’80s punk (X) – and some Grateful Dead, for good measure.

Spanky & Our Gang: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lulu: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Gal Costa: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Ronnie Dove: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
X: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The New York Community Choir: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Grateful Dead: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Soul Mining 30The The, Soul Mining: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Legacy)

The The’s breakthrough 1983 album plus seven bonus tracks, pressed on 180-gram vinyl. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Brain Salad SurgeryEmerson, Lake & Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery: 40th Anniversary Edition (U.S. Release) (Razor and Tie)

Reissued some time ago in the U.K., ELP’s show that never ends is a three-disc affair featuring the remastered album in stereo, and alternate album assembly plus a DVD of old and new stereo mixes. (Amazon U.S.)