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Give It to Us, Baby: Rick James’ Motown Masters (and More) Are Digitally Reissued

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Rick James Complete Motown AlbumsSinger, songwriter, bassist, producer, partier, punk-funk pioneer – however you know him, one thing’s clear: he’s Rick James. (You’ll have to imagine the word that usually follows.)

Though the world lost the “Super Freak” hitmaker 10 years ago this summer, his legend continues: this week sees the release of his authorized biography Glow, written with David Ritz, and to celebrate, two labels are joining forces to update his killer catalogue in the digital domain.

From the earliest moments of his musical career, Rick James (born James Ambrose Johnson, Jr.) was a bad boy. That career actually started with a violation of the law: Rick failed to report for active naval duty and fled to Canada, forming a band called The Mynah Birds (whose lineup would include some amazing heavy hitters of rock and roll, including Nick St. Nicholas of Steppenwolf and Neil Young on guitar!). The Mynah Birds were signed to Motown, but Rick’s past caught up to him, resulting in a yearlong jail sentence and an album that remains unreleased. As Rickie Matthews, the artist began writing and producing for Motown in the late ’60s, then hopscotched around several West Coast bands before returning to the Detroit-bred label in 1977.

Even before Prince laced up his highest heels, Rick James – whether it was solo, with his Stone City Band or protegees like the late, great Teena Marie – was one of the first major artists to meld traditional black soul and pop stylings with traditional rock and roll, a style he’d come to call “punk funk.” Tracks like “You and I,” “Mary Jane” and “Love Gun” were sensations in dance clubs and among rock critics. It was his fifth album, 1981’s Street Songs, that made him a crossover star, thanks to the Top 40 hits “Give It to Me Baby” and “Super Freak (Part 1).” (The latter, of course, will never die thanks to MC Hammer’s rap smash “U Can’t Touch This,” released in 1990.) Rick partied hard and played hard, releasing 11 Top 10 R&B singles over eight years with Motown’s Gordy label.

Eventually, though, he’d fly the coop for Reprise, earning an R&B chart-topper in “Loosey’s Rap” with Roxanne Shanté. But his second album for the label, 1989’s Kickin’, was shelved, and the 1990s were a blur of cocaine addiction and legal charges. James returned to music making in the late ’90s, and got one last major exposure shortly before his death: a loving comedic tribute from Dave Chappelle, whose Chapelle’s Show featured an extended sketch about James (featuring Chappelle as the young musician and James himself recounting his abusive friendship with Charlie Murphy, brother of comedian Eddie, whose debut R&B album was produced by James) that made them both stars.

The celebration of James’ life leads us to two conjoined catalogue initiatives from both Motown/UMe and Reprise/Rhino – and the full specs are after the jump!

To commemorate the release of the Glow book, Motown has overhauled James’ discography considerably. Five of James’ Gordy albums have been expanded and Mastered for iTunes, including debut Come Get It! (1978), Bustin’ Out of L Seven (1979) and James’ last three for the label, released digitally for the first time: Cold Blooded (1983), Glow (1985) and The Flag (1986). (Street Songs and follow-up Throwin’ Down (1982) have also gotten the MFiT treatment.) Together with expansions of Fire It Up (1979) and Garden of Love (1980), previously released on CD by Hip-o Select, all nine albums are also available in a digital box set, The Complete Motown Albums.

Rick James Kickin'But UMe’s not done digging through the vaults! No less than five Rick James-oriented projects are bowing digitally after years out of print. James’ backing ensemble, The Stone City Band, will see three of their albums resurrected (Rick James Presents Stone City Band In ‘N’ Out (1980), The Boys Are Back (1981) and Out from the Shadow (1983)), along with productions by James for Bobby M. (Rick James Presents Bobby M.: Blow (1982)) and Val Young (Seduction (1985)). And if that wasn’t enough, there are more planned: the exceptionally rare self-titled 1972 album by The Great White Cane – released on Lion/MGM, featuring Rick singing and writing or co-writing the material and Jimmy Ienner (Three Dog Night, Bay City Rollers) producing – will get a digital release, as will an unreleased Mary Jane Girls albumConversation.

And Rhino’s also entering the ring with digital debuts of Wonderful (1988) and Kickin’ (1989), heard here for the first time ever. Altogether, it’s a killer time to be a Rick James fan. No physical releases have been announced, but here’s a chance to rediscover this amazing discography with more than a little convenience. You can get all of Rick’s albums on iTunes here, and we’ve got Amazon links for the complete digital box, the Reprise masters and the side projects!

Rick James: The Complete Motown Albums (Motown/UMe, 2014)

Come Get It! (Gordy G7-918R1, 1978)

  1. Stone City Band, Hi!
  2. You and I
  3. Sexy Lady
  4. Dream Maker
  5. Be My Lady
  6. Mary Jane
  7. Hollywood
  8. Stone City Band, Bye!
  9. You and I (Extended M+M Mix) (Record Store Day 12″ A-side – Motown B0020265-11, 2014)
  10. You and I (Extended M+M Mix Instrumental) *

Bustin’ Out of L Seven (Gordy G7-984R1, 1979)

  1. Bustin’ Out (on Funk)
  2. High on Your Love Suite: One Mo Hit (of Your Love)
  3. Love Interlude
  4. Spacey Love
  5. Cop ‘N’ Blow
  6. Jefferson Ball
  7. Fool on the Street
  8. Bustin’ Out (on Funk) (12″ Extended Version) (12″ A-side – Motown MD 5001G4, 1979)
  9. Bustin’ Out (on Funk) (12″ Instrumental) (12″ B-side – Motown MD 5001G4, 1979)

Fire It Up (Gordy G8-990M1, 1979)

  1. Fire It Up
  2. Love Gun
  3. Lovin’ You is a Pleasure
  4. Love in the Night
  5. Come Into My Life
  6. Stormy Love
  7. When Love is Gone
  8. Love Gun (12″ Version) (promo 12″ A-side – Motown PR-60, 1979)

Garden of Love (Gordy G8-995M1, 1980)

  1. Big Time
  2. Don’t Give Up on Love
  3. Island Lady
  4. Gettin’ It On (in the Sunshine)
  5. Summer Love
  6. Mary-Go-Round
  7. Gettin’ It On (in the Sunshine) (Reprise)
  8. Big Time (Extended Version) (from Hip-o Select/Motown CD B0014077-02, 2010)
  9. Gypsy Girl (Demo) (from Hip-o Select/Motown CD B0014077-02, 2010)

Street Songs (Gordy G8-1002M1, 1981)

  1. Give It to Me Baby
  2. Ghetto Life
  3. Make Love to Me
  4. Mr. Policeman
  5. Super Freak
  6. Fire and Desire (with Teena Marie)
  7. Call Me Up
  8. Below the Funk (Pass the J)
  9. Give It to Me Baby (12″ Version) (12″ A-side – Motown M-35001V1, 1981)
  10. Super Freak (12″ Version) (12″ A-side – Motown M-35002V1, 1981)

Throwin’ Down (Gordy 6005GL, 1982)

  1. Dance Wit’ Me
  2. Money Talks
  3. Teardrops
  4. Throwdown
  5. Standing on the Top (with The Temptations)
  6. Hard to Get
  7. Happy (with Teena Marie)
  8. She Blew My Mind (69 Times)
  9. My Love
  10. Standing on the Top (with The Temptations) (12″ Version) (promo 12″ A-side – Motown PR-96, 1982)
  11. Hard to Get (12″ Instrumental) (U.K. 12″ B-side – Motown TMGT 1277, 1982)
  12. She Blew My Mind (69 Times) (12″ Version) (promo 12″ A-side – Motown PR-107, 1982)
  13. She Blew My Mind (69 Times) (12″ Instrumental) (promo 12″ B-side – Motown PR-107, 1982)

Cold Blooded (Gordy 6043GL, 1983)

  1. U Bring the Freak Out
  2. Cold Blooded
  3. Ebony Eyes (with Smokey Robinson)
  4. 1,2,3 (You, Her and Me)
  5. Doin’ It
  6. New York Town
  7. P.I.M.P the S.I.M.P. (with Grandmaster Flash)
  8. Tell Me (What You Want)
  9. Unity
  10. Cold Blooded (12″ Instrumental) (12″ B-side – Motown 4511MG, 1983)
  11. U Bring the Freak Out (12″ Version) (promo 12″ A-side – Motown PR-133, 1983)
  12. U Bring the Freak Out (12″ Instrumental) (promo 12″ B-side – Motown PR-133, 1983)

Glow (Gordy 6135GL, 1985)

  1. Can’t Stop
  2. Spend the Night with Me
  3. Melody Make Me Dance
  4. Somebody (The Girl’s Got)
  5. Glow
  6. Moonchild
  7. Sha La La La La (Come Back Home)
  8. Rock and Roll Control
  9. Glow (Reprise)
  10. Glow/Glow (Reprise) (12″ A-side – Gordy 4539GG, 1985)
  11. Glow (12″ Instrumental) (12″ B-side – Gordy 4539GG, 1985)
  12. Spend the Night with Me (12″ Version) (European 12″ A-side – Gordy ZT 40418, 1985)
  13. Spend the Night with Me (12″ Instrumental) (European 12″ B-side – Gordy ZT 40418, 1985)
  14. Can’t Stop (Instrumental) (U.K. 12″ B-side – Motown TMGT 1378, 1985)
  15. 17 (from Reflections – Gordy 6095GL, 1984)
  16. 17 (12″ Instrumental) (12″ B-side – Motown 4522MG, 1984)
  17. Oh What a Night (4 Luv) (from Reflections – Gordy 6095GL, 1984)
  18. You Turn Me On (from Reflections – Gordy 6095GL, 1984)
  19. You Turn Me On (Long Version) (promo 12″ A-side – Gordy PR-158, 1984)
  20. You Turn Me On (Long Version Instrumental) (promo 12″ B-side – Gordy PR-158, 1984)

The Flag (Gordy 6185GL, 1986)

  1. Freak Flag (Intro)
  2. Forever and a Day
  3. Sweet and Sexy Thing
  4. Free to Be Me
  5. Save It for Me
  6. Freak Flag (Cue)
  7. R U Experienced
  8. Funk in America/Silly Little Man
  9. Slow and Easy (Interlude)
  10. Slow and Easy
  11. Om Raga
  12. Painted Pictures
  13. Freak Flag (Reprise)
  14. Sweet and Sexy Thing (12″ Extended Mix) (exact origin undetermined)
  15. Sweet and Sexy Thing (12″ Instrumental) (12″ B-side – Gordy 4561GG, 1986)
  16. Sweet and Sexy Thing (12″ Version) (12″ A-side – Gordy 4561GG, 1986)
  17. Forever and a Day (12″ Version) (12″ A-side – Gordy 4565GG, 1986)
  18. Forever and a Day (12″ Instrumental) (12″ B-side – Gordy 4565GG, 1986)

Wonderful (Reprise 25659, 1988)

  1. Wonderful
  2. Judy
  3. Loosey’s Rap (with Roxanne Shanté)
  4. So Tight
  5. Sexual Luv Affair
  6. Love’s Fire
  7. I Believe in U
  8. In the Girl’s Room
  9. Hypnotize
  10. Sherry Baby
  11. Hot Summer Nights (with Chrissi Scinta)

Kickin’ (Reprise (cancelled), 1989)

  1. Kickin’
  2. Day and Night
  3. Teach Me
  4. Black and White
  5. Runaway Love
  6. School Me
  7. Anything and Everything
  8. You Got It Real Bad
  9. Get Wit It
  10. Rock and Roll Eyes

The Stone City Band, Rick James Presents The Stone City Band: In ‘N’ Out (Gordy G7-991R1, 1980)

  1. In ‘N’ Out (Overture)
  2. Little Runaway
  3. Strut Your Stuff
  4. Party Girls
  5. In ‘N’ Out
  6. Havin’ You Around
  7. South American Sneeze
  8. F.I.M.A. (Funk in Mother Afrika)
  9. In ‘N’ Out (Reprise)

The Stone City Band, The Boys Are Back (Gordy G8-1001M1, 1981)

  1. All Day and All of the Night
  2. Feel Good ‘Bout Yourself
  3. Keep Love Happy
  4. Ganja
  5. Freaky
  6. Funky Reggae
  7. Lovin’ You is Easy
  8. Tin Soldier

Bobby M., Rick James Presents Bobby M.: Blow (Gordy 6023GL, 1982)

  1. Alto Man
  2. Let’s Stay Together
  3. How Do You Feel Tonight
  4. Blow
  5. Redliner
  6. A Little Song for You
  7. Charlie’s Backbeat
  8. Rome Tones

The Stone City Band, Meet The Stone City Band! Out from the Shadow (Gordy 6042GL, 1983)

  1. Introduction
  2. Bad Lady
  3. Love Hassles
  4. Spend the Night
  5. Telephone
  6. Introduction
  7. Ladies Choice
  8. Shake (Make Your Body Move)
  9. Dance So Fine
  10. Lover and Only Man

Val Young, Seduction (Gordy 6147GL, 1985)

  1. Mind Games
  2. If You Should Ever Be Lonely
  3. Let’s Fall in Love
  4. Tellin’ Me Lies
  5. Come Hang Out
  6. Seduction
  7. Piece of My Heart
  8. Waiting for You
  9. Make Up Your Mind

Written by Mike Duquette

July 9, 2014 at 11:52

6 Responses

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  1. This is another nail in the coffin for collectors of ‘The Physical Release’ [sic]….a cd release i hope along with Tata Vega’s ‘Try My Love’ which to my chagrin isn’t even available digitally in the UK.

    fredpostmanf

    July 9, 2014 at 12:21

  2. Everybody and their mother gets a Complete Albums CD box…unless you’re a Universal artist, apparently. (John Mellencamp excluded…)

    Rob Maurer

    July 9, 2014 at 14:18

    • Agreed! I want my cd’s!

      Rick

      July 9, 2014 at 15:19

  3. Wow, this is a NICE looking set. I’d gladly buy a physical release.

    Jason Michael

    July 9, 2014 at 22:50

  4. Apparently, the days of Hip-O Select releasing CD’s are over. It’s a decision by Universal Music fat cats.

    Philip Cohen

    July 10, 2014 at 05:52

  5. It’s not unlike Rhino Records, which did such amazing physical releases all those years and then basically flamed out. As a huge fan of both labels, it’s a drag. Just happy for all the great stuff Hip-O did during their run, especially TCMS boxes.

    Robert Lett

    July 10, 2014 at 23:36


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