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Real Gone Is “In Tune” With September Slate Featuring Grateful Dead, Ides of March, Willie Hutch, More

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Real Gone - September 2014

September 1 marks Labor Day, but Real Gone Music isn’t taking much time off! The very next day, the label launches a new crop of eight titles emphasizing soul, funk and R&B but also encompassing country, classic rock and a touch of prog!

At Motown, Willie Hutch gifted The Jackson 5 with his song “I’ll Be There,” saw his songs recorded by the label’s elite including Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, and penned funky soundtracks including The Mack. In 1977, he departed Berry Gordy’s empire for Whitfield Records, headed (of course) by Motown expatriate Norman Whitfield. Hutch’s two Whitfield albums In Tune and Midnight Dancer are arriving on U.S. CD for the first time anywhere. Hutch is joined by R&B great Esther Phillips on the Real Gone roster, as the label has a reissue of Phillips’ 1973 CTI/Kudu platter Alone Again Naturally. The former Little Esther tears into not only Gilbert O’Sullivan’s title track but gives her all to the likes of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” and Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s “Do Right Man, Do Right Woman,” popularized by Aretha Franklin. Real Gone’s edition is based upon the out-of-print edition by Reel Music including its two live bonus tracks and A. Scott Galloway’s essay. Alone Again has resulted from the partnership of Real Gone and SoulMusic Records; the labels’ affiliation is also yielding two rare albums by the soulful Ullanda McCullough for the Atlantic label on one CD, including a set written and produced for the singer by Ashford and Simpson!

Not in an R&B mood? Real Gone has country fans covered with the first-ever compendium of the chart hits of Ray Griff, the country singer-songwriter known to his fans as The Entertainer! Griff’s The Entertainer – Greatest U.S. and Canadian Hits collects 24 tracks from seven (yes, seven) record labels spanning the period of 1967-1986!

If classic rock is your bag, you might want to hop a ride on an expanded edition of Vehicle from the other Chicago horn band, The Ides of March! This reissue adds four bonus singles and new liner notes by Richie Unterberger (including new quotes from Ides of March/Survivor man Jim Peterik) to the original 1970 album and celebrates the band’s 50th anniversary. You might say “Yes!” to Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record, recorded shortly after the keyboard great rejoined Yes for the Going for the One album in 1977. Last but not least, Real Gone returns to Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks series for a key 1969 show on the band’s home turf at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium!

Hit the jump for Real Gone’s press release with more details on all eight titles, plus pre-order links! All releases are due from the label on September 2.

Los Angeles, California – Willie Hutch got his first big break writing, producing and arranging songs for the 5th Dimension, but when he penned the lyrics to the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There;” Berry Gordy immediately hired him as a Motown writer, arranger and producer. After co-writing songs for Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Miracles and others, Hutch stepped into the spotlight as an artist in his own right for Motown, becoming a go-to Blaxploitation film score composer (The Mack; Foxy Brown) and scoring hits with “Brother’s Gonna Work It Out,” “Slick” and “Love Power.” But in 1977, Willie joined fellow Motown producer Norman Whitfield’s own Whitfield label, where he cut the two disco/funk classics In Tune and Midnight Dancer, which married Whitfield’s trademark psychedelic soul sound to his own sharp songwriting, with a bit of Barry White thrown into the mix. Long requested by soul and disco fans worldwide, these two records see their first reissue of any kind with these Real Gone releases, which feature added photos and liner notes by Gene Sculatti.

Following the 1972 release of her groundbreaking From a Whisper to a Scream album, Esther Phillips -who had enjoyed hits as a child star (Little Esther) in the ’50s and as a R&B/jazz stylist in the ’60s – was experiencing a career rejuvenation with Creed Taylor’s Kudu label after kicking a long-time drug addiction and a spell in rehab. Keeping with the same basic formula of surrounding the distinctive soulful vocalist with redoubtable arranger Don Sebesky, top class label mates Hank Crawford, George Benson, Eric Gale and Ron Carter and all-star players (James Brown alumni Maceo Parker and rhythm arranger Pee Wee Ellis, Billy Cobham, Richard Tee, Cornell Dupree, Ralph MacDonald and Gordon Edwards), producer Taylor provided the perfect setting for Esther’s interpretative skills. The result was the best-selling Alone Again Naturally, a Top 20 jazz and Top 30 R&B album in 1973, to which we’ve added two bonus tracks. The first is a rare live 1972 recording of Joe Turner’s “Cherry Red” that Esther performed at a CTI All-Stars concert at the Hollywood Bowl in July 1972; the second is her superlative reading of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child” from the same show, with accompaniment by Hubert Laws, Freddie Hubbard, Grover Washington Jr., Milt Jackson, Deodato, Airto, Bob James and Jack DeJohnette among others. Liner notes are by renowned U.S. writer A. Scott Galloway from his original essay for the out-of-print (and jaw-droppingly expensive) reissue of the original album. Intense and soulful stuff, released in partnership with SoulMusic Records.

One of the most respected and active session singers of the mid-’70s and early ’80s, Ullanda McCullough‘s distinctive voice could be heard on numerous popular jingles (including 1971’s Coca-Cola campaign, “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”) as well as albums by Eddie Floyd, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Patti Austin, Cissy Houston, Bionic Boogie, Carly Simon, Chic, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross, the soundtrack for the movie The Wiz and Ashford & Simpson, with whom she toured as a primary background vocalist during the late ’70s. In 1979, Ullanda recorded her first solo album (Love Zone) for Ocean/Ariola Records before signing with Atlantic Records where she recorded two albums, 1981’s Ullanda McCullough and 1982’s Watching You, Watching Me. Real Gone Music in association with SoulMusic Records is proud to present the worldwide CD debut of these two rare LPs, together on a two-on-one CD. Ullanda McCullough was written and produced in its entirety by Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson and includes the cut “Warm And Gentle Explosion,” which became a popular rare groove track in the UK in the ’90s along with other gems penned by the famed pair such as “Bad Company” (with a single edit included here as a bonus track), “Rumors,” “It’s You” and “You’re Gonna Wanna Come Back.” Key musicians included Simpson on piano, guitarist Eric Gale, drummer Yogi Horton, keyboardist Philip Woo and percussionist Ralph MacDonald. Watching You, Watching Me was produced by renowned arranger/conductor and producer Bert DeCoteaux and featured an all-star cast of famed players (such as keyboardist Ray Chew, bassists Marcus Miller, Tinker Barfield and Wayne Brathwaite and percussionist Sammy Figueroa) and the cream of New York’s session singers, including Luther Vandross — who did the background vocal arrangements for four of the album’s eight tracks – Tawatha Agee (of the band Mtume) and Brenda White, who would go on to sing on albums by Vandross and tour with Aretha Franklin. Standout tracks include “Men Kiss And Tell,” (originally recorded by Carrie Lucas), Ullanda’s own “What’s It All About” and William Eaton’s compelling title track, covered in 1985 by Bill Withers. Liner notes are by SoulMusic Records’ founder David Nathan.

Ray Griff earned his nickname, “The Entertainer,” by being one of the hardest working artists in country music. As a singer, he charted over 40 hits from the 1960s onward, and as a songwriter, he wrote over 700 songs for the biggest stars of country music: George Jones, Jim Reeves, Conway Twitty, Eddy Arnold, Dolly Parton, Mel Tillis, Ray Price, and many others. Now, Real Gone Music presents Ray Griff: The Entertainer – Greatest U.S. & Canadian Hits, the first-ever anthology of Griff’s biggest chart smashes. Spanning the years 1967-1986 and seven (!) record labels, the anthology includes Griff’s charting sides for MGM, Dot, Royal American, ABC, Capitol, Vision, and RCA. Among the 24 songs are 22 U.S. country hits, featuring the classic songs “If I Let Her Come In,” “The Mornin’ After Baby Left Me Down,” and “You Ring My Bell” as well as Griff’s signature song, the Top 10 Canadian country hit “The Entertainer.” The collection is remastered by Ray Griff himself, and the notes by Greg Adams feature quotes and photos from the artist’s private collection. Griff was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and is celebrated as one of Canada’s most successful country songwriters. The Entertainer — Greatest U.S. and Canadian Hits is a long overdue tribute to this multitalented international hit maker.

Rick Wakeman was always something of a maverick within the proggy confines of Yes, so it’s no surprise that for his seventh solo release — recorded right after he rejoined Yes in 1977 for the Going for the One album – he turned to the transgressive subjects of crime, punishment and villainy. And he got his just desserts – Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record hit the charts in both the U.S. and U.K., where it went Top 30, and remains a favorite among his fanbase. Both Alan White and Chris Squire play on the record, which features (on “Judas Iscariot”) the same church organ from St. Martin’s church in Vevey, Switzerland used on Going for the One to great effect. Oddly, this standout record from Wakeman’s catalog has only been available domestically on a limited-edition, long out-of-print CD; our Real Gone release adds notes by Bill Kopp and includes the text from the inner sleeve, which sets the stage for each song with scholarly notes on such charming subjects as the guillotine.

With its release of well-received titles by Blood, Sweat & Tears and Tower of Power, Real Gone has become something of a home for the great “horn bands” of the late ’60s and early ’70s, and with its reissue of The Ides of March‘s classic Vehicle album on the 50th anniversary of the band’s founding, the label is bringing another one into the fold. “The Ides” began in a basement in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn on October 16th, 1964, and have stayed together ever since; only the Rolling Stones really rival them for longevity. And this album, “Vehicle”, was their commercial high-water mark; its title track went to #2 and the album to #55 on the 1970 charts. It’s a happy collision (no pun intended) of the band’s garage-y British pop influences and the more progressive sounds of Chicago and BS&T that were sweeping through FM radio at the time; our Expanded Edition features four single bonus tracks and notes by Richie Unterberger featuring quotes from the band’s Jim Peterik and Larry Millas.

Reputedly one of Dead archivist Dick Latvala’s favorite concerts, and the first of the Dick’s Picks series to present a ’60s show, Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol. 16 — Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA 11/8/69 or, more specifically, disc one of Vol. 16, captures a crucial turning point in the band’s history. There you will find embryonic versions of the songs that were to form Workingman’s Dead, as the group begins to steer away from the psychedelic, blues-based jamming of their early years towards the country-rock pole star that was to guide much of their early ’70s music (and the friendly hometown crowd at the Fillmore proves the ideal audience for the premiere of the new material). The rest of the show, however, features the earlier incarnation of the band at its finest; in fact, it’s sort of an alternate version of Live Dead, which was recorded about eight months earlier and hit the stores just days after this concert, offering a truly inspired, 90-minute medley of “Dark Star”/”The Other One”/”Dark Star”/”Uncle John’s Band Jam”/”St. Stephen”/”The Eleven”/”Caution”/”Feedback” capped off with a 25-minute “Turn On Your Lovelight” from the previous night. Pivotal performances from a remarkable period of growth for the Grateful Dead.

September 2, 2014 Releases from Real Gone Music

Willie Hutch, In Tune (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Willie Hutch, Midnight Dancer (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Esther Phillips, Alone Again, Naturally (Expanded Edition) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

Ullanda McCullough, Ullanda McCullough/Watching You, Watching Me (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ray Griff, The Entertainer – Greatest U.S. & Canadian Hits (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Rick Wakeman, Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Ides of March, Vehicle (Expanded Edition) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 16 – Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA 11/8/69 (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. Link TBD)

Written by Joe Marchese

July 28, 2014 at 10:08

3 Responses

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  1. Willie Hutch’s In Tune has already had a Japanese cd-released earlier this past spring. It’s a budget priced item still easily available in the US.


    July 28, 2014 at 10:39

  2. well, unfortunately my reaction to these releases is…”meh”


    July 28, 2014 at 12:33

  3. Wonderful second set from the Dead on DP 16, but the first set is a band in transition (and the set is plagued by some sound problems) and it shows. Things would really blossom a year later for them, but that second set is worth seeking out. Though maybe not at Real Gone’s outrageous prices.


    July 28, 2014 at 17:31

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