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Archive for August 5th, 2014

Once Upon A Dream: Walt Disney Records Unveils Legacy Collection’s “Sleeping Beauty”

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Sleeping Beauty - Legacy Collection

Earlier this year, Walt Disney Pictures scored a runaway hit with its unlikely reinvention of one of the studio’s most frightening villains as an unlikely heroine. Maleficent enchanted audiences to the tune of a $234 million-plus gross with its retelling of the fairy tale Disney first dramatized in 1959’s Sleeping Beauty. A highlight of the 2014 film’s soundtrack was Lana Del Rey’s haunting rendition of “Once Upon a Dream,” penned for Sleeping Beauty by tunesmiths Sammy Fain and Jack Lawrence (with a little help from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky). Come October 7, Mary Costa’s original version of the song will be heard on the latest volume of Walt Disney Records’ deluxe Legacy Collection series. The Legacy Collection: Sleeping Beauty follows releases for The Lion King and Mary Poppins, and will feature on two CDs the original soundtrack to Walt Disney’s classic animated film plus a Lost Chords presentation (vintage demos and new, fully-produced recordings of the songs) and other rare bonuses.

When Walt Disney envisioned Sleeping Beauty as an animated film, he knew that he wanted to incorporate the music of Tchaikovsky into its score. The Russian composer (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker) had completed his Sleeping Beauty ballet in 1889, setting to music the same story by Charles Perrault, La Belle au bois dormant (1697), from which Disney drew inspiration. (Disney also drew upon The Brothers Grimm’s version of the tale.) It fell upon George Bruns, a mainstay of the studio’s music department since 1953, to adapt the classical compositions for use in the film. Bruns, a four-time Academy Award nominee and co-writer of such Disney fare as “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me),” proved himself more than up to the task. He composed the orchestral score, and contributed to the songs, as well. Other songwriters including Fain and Lawrence, Winston Hibler and Ted Sears, Tom Adair and Erdman Penner all made contributions to the song score.

Much as Sleeping Beauty broke new ground visually – it was the first animated picture to be shot in the Super Technirama 70mm widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated picture to be released in anamorphic widescreen – it innovated musically, as well. Disneyland Records’ Tutti Camarata was so impressed with the orchestral score, recorded in Germany, that he wanted to present it on the soundtrack album along with the songs. (Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is recognized as birthing the first commercially released soundtrack album, but as became common for most musical films, the album only contained the songs.) Camarata’s practice became the standard at Disneyland (today Walt Disney Records) and elsewhere.

What will you find on The Legacy Collection volume? Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 5, 2014 at 13:56

Splish Splash! Bobby Darin’s “The Milk Shows” Premieres Two Discs of Never-Before-Heard Recordings

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Bobby Darin - Milk ShowsBobby Darin knew he was in a race with time. If it was a race he would inevitably lose as a result of the heart condition he fought for his 37 years, Darin accomplished more in that short period of time than many artists who lived twice as long. A master of reinvention, Darin successfully transformed himself from teen idol to sophisticated hipster to folk troubadour and back again before his death in 1973. He also left behind a catalogue of impressive size at Atlantic, Capitol, Motown and his own Direction label, most – but not all – of which has been reissued on CD. But, with Darin departed for more than 40 years now, any discovery of new music from the singer is cause for celebration. As such, Edsel’s release of The Milk Shows – with some 96 songs on two CDs, only a couple of which have ever appeared anywhere before – is a major event for fans of The Great American Songbook and one of its most famous proponents.

96 songs on just two discs, you might be asking? Wouldn’t that have been too herculean a feat even for the perennially cocksure Bobby Darin? In the early 1960s (likely 1963), Darin recorded a series of five-minute, five-song radio shows for NBC sponsored by the American Dairy Association, hence the title The Milk Shows. Naturally, his performances range from mere seconds (14 seconds of “Fools Rush In”) to nearly two minutes in length (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “I Have Dreamed” and “Climb Every Mountain”), but these recordings are not mere throwaways. Not only did Darin invest them with the full range of his interpretive skills, but he performed many songs he didn’t otherwise record. In addition, the format was an unusual one for Darin. Rather than utilizing the full orchestra he often had at his disposal, The Milk Shows were recorded with just an ace jazz quartet of Richard Behrke on piano, Ronnie Zito on drums, Milt Norman on guitar, and Billy Krist on bass. When Darin’s manager Steve Blauner and archivist Jimmy Scalia turned up these recordings in 2002, they set about transferring them into a digital format and organizing them into a cohesive album. The result, these many years later, is The Milk Shows.

As the recordings employed no overdubs or multi-tracking, The Milk Shows grants listeners an intimate audience with Darin, up close and personal. Each disc begins and ends with a show introduction, and there are a couple of commercials plus occasional chatter from Darin, but by and large, these rare recordings have been sequenced not to replicate the original broadcasts but to present wall-to-wall Bobby Darin.

The programs are announced as “from New York,” but were apparently recorded at Hollywood’s Capitol Studios; Darin was recording for the label at the time. The appreciative applause heard throughout was apparently added later, despite Darin’s referring to it often. A great number of the selections were, naturally, plucked from the decades-spanning Broadway songbook, representing true songwriting royalty. George and Ira Gershwin (“They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So”) Frank Loesser (“Guys and Dolls,” “Standing on the Corner”); Johnny Mercer solo (a hot Latin-style “Something’s Gotta Give”), with Henry Mancini (“Moon River,” “Days of Wine and Roses”) and with Harold Arlen (“Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Ac- cent-tchu-ate the Positive”); Richard Rodgers, both with Lorenz Hart (“I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” “Blue Moon”) and Oscar Hammerstein II (“Hello, Young Lovers,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” “Climb Every Mountain”); and Cole Porter (“What is This Thing Called Love?”) are just a sampling of the talents whose songs are heard here.

Pour yourself a glass – of milk, of course! – and join us as we dive into The Milk Shows after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 5, 2014 at 11:16

Posted in Bobby Darin, Compilations, News, Reviews

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Release Round-Up: Week of August 5

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Elvis - That's the Way It Is BoxElvis Presley, That’s the Way It Is: Deluxe Editions (RCA/Legacy)

The King regained his crown with a 1970 stint at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, as depicted in the acclaimed documentary of the same name. A new box set features the original album on CD along with seven recorded live shows plus that documentary in two separate cuts on DVD; the documentary bows on Blu-ray next week.

8CD/2DVD box set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Legacy Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
TTWII Blu-ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Nils Lofgren - Face the Music ContentsNils Lofgren, Face the Music (Concord)

An impressive 9CD/1DVD box set celebrating the singer/songwriter/guitarist’s multifaceted career when not jamming in The E Street Band for the last three decades. Includes two whole discs of unreleased material! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Chairmen of the Board BoxChairmen of the Board, The Complete Invictus Studio Recordings 1969-1978 (Edsel)

The Detroit soul group behind “Give Me Just a Little More Time” gets a deluxe box set featuring all of their group and related solo studio albums plus two discs of bonus cuts and rarities. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Herbie Hancock - WB YearsHerbie Hancock, The Warner Bros. Years: 1969-1972 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

Before his lengthy tenure on Columbia, Hancock cut three albums for Warner Bros.; they are now compiled in one set with five rare and unreleased single sides. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Stephanie Mills For the First TimeThe Waters, Watercolors: Expanded Edition / Stephanie Mills, For the First Time: Expanded Edition / Lenny Williams, Rise Sleeping Beauty: Expanded Edition / Boys Town Gang, Disco Kicks: The Complete Moby Dick Recordings (1981-1984) (Big Break Records)

Big Break Records and sister imprint Hot Shot have a number of deluxe editions on tap this week including an expanded edition of Stephanie Mills’ 1975 Motown album For the First Time, which marked songwriter-producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s only sojourn to Motown – and their final full-length LP together!

The Waters: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Stephanie Mills: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lenny Williams: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Boys Town Gang: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

August 5, 2014 at 08:30