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Archive for September 5th, 2014

High Time: Henry Mancini’s Film Music Celebrated On 9-CD, 18-Score Box Set

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Henry Mancini - Classic CollectionIt’s been a good year to be a fan of Henry Mancini. And it’s about to get even better!

The career of the composer, arranger and conductor – the rare artist for whom the word “legendary” is not only apt, but perhaps an understatement – has been recognized on disc in 2014 by labels including Varese Vintage, Vocalion, Intrada and Sony’s Legacy Recordings. Legacy previously marked the 50th anniversary of Mancini’s iconic music of The Pink Panther with a limited edition pink vinyl release for Record Store Day (this author’s top RSD pick!), and promised the release of a deluxe box set culled from Mancini’s long association with RCA Records and beyond. That box set has just been announced, continuing the celebration of what would have been the maestro’s 90th year. The Classic Soundtrack Collection, scheduled for November 19, features 18 of Mancini’s seminal soundtrack albums for RCA, Columbia and Epic Records on nine CDs, spanning the period between 1960’s High Time and 1978’s Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (That latter soundtrack received its first-ever CD reissue earlier this year from Varese.) Even better, bonus material – including Julie Andrews’ previously unreleased vocal version of “Nothing to Lose” from 1968’s The Party and songs from Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis – has been appended.

While eschewing Mancini’s television scores like Peter Gunn and Mr. Lucky as well as his numerous pop albums for RCA, The Classic Soundtrack Collection is the most comprehensive overview yet of the composer’s vintage scores. Many of Mancini’s most beloved themes can be heard here (“Moon River,” “Charade,” “Baby Elephant Walk,” “The Pink Panther”), and for many years, these soundtracks were the only available audio presentations of these scores. Mancini re-recorded his classic music for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, The Pink Panther and more in frequently swinging, pop-friendly LP packages that achieved incredible popularity in the 1960s; only in recent years have a number of his true original film soundtracks (including Tiffany’s, Charade and Hatari!) seen release. Mancini’s lyricists on these many albums include Johnny Mercer, Leslie Bricusse, Rod McKuen and Don Black.

In his career, Mancini received 20 Grammy Awards and four Academy Awards. A master of cinematic scoring, he could turn out expert work for thrillers, romances, dramas, adventures, noirs, westerns, and even science-fiction pictures. In fact, you’ll hear many of those styles on this box set, all filtered through Mancini’s melodic sensibility. But the idiom most associated with Mancini may be comedy. A full ten scores here represent the roughly 35-year collaboration between Henry Mancini and director-screenwriter Blake Edwards. The partnership of the versatile composer and the comic master endured until Mancini’s death. These soundtracks include all-time classics such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Pink Panther, of course, but also the crime adventure Gunn (based on Peter Gunn), the zany Peter Sellers vehicle The Party, the Bing Crosby-starring college romp High Time, and the ambitious musical Darling Lili. The latter film, starring Edwards’ wife Julie Andrews, threatened to derail the Mancini/Edwards team, but the two men were far too in tune to let their collaboration languish for too long. For one of the most unusual works from the Edwards/Mancini team, look no further than the chilling Experiment in Terror. Its vivid score – filled with Mancini’s trademark sixties lounge sound yet with an undercurrent of tension – is included here in its RCA album presentation.

What can you expect to find on this new set? Hit the jump for a full list of included albums, complete rundown of the bonus material, and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 5, 2014 at 13:41

Back to the House That Jack Built: Cherry Red Uncovers More Music From Tracie Young

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BTracie Young - No Smoke Without Fireack in 2010, Cherry Red Records rescued Tracie Young’s 1984 debut Far from the Hurting Kind from obscurity. Four years later, the label has returned to the British pop singer’s discography for the first-time release of No Smoke Without Fire. Intended as the follow-up to Hurting Kind, No Smoke was slated to be issued in 1985, only to be consigned to the vaults. Cherry Red’s new edition includes ten songs from the original album plus seven rare bonus tracks from Young’s catalogue.

Tracie Young – sometimes billed just as Tracie – was discovered by “The Modfather” Paul Weller when the singer placed an advertisement seeking singers for his Respond Records label. Young’s demo stood out from the rest, and Weller made her signing a top priority. Before recording solo work for Respond, however, Weller brought the soulful young singer into the fold of The Jam. Young provided background vocals for the band’s final single, “Beat Surrender.” Released in November 1982, it became the group’s fourth Number One hit. Young appeared with Weller and co. on television to promote the single, and when Weller moved on from The Jam to The Style Council, Young was right there with him.

Tracie sang on “Speak Like a Child,” the first single from Weller’s new band, and appeared in its music video, as well. She toured alongside The Style Council, and as promised, Weller launched her as a solo artist on Respond, taking full advantage of her powerful, expressive pipes. In March 1983, Respond released her first single, Paul Barry and John Robinson’s “The House That Jack Built” (no relation to the Aretha Franklin hit). It reached the U.K. Top 10. Her next 45, “Give It Some Emotion,” reached a very respectable plateau of No. 24 in July. In between, NME proclaimed her “the girl star Paul Weller would build” in a March cover story, and Far from the Hurting Kind was issued in June.

Young reunited with The Style Council to add vocals to “Boy Who Cried Wolf” in 1985, and when Respond shuttered the following year, she signed with Polydor to record No Smoke Without Fire. A handful of the album’s tracks (among them Paul Barry’s “Italian Girl,” Paul Weller’s “(When You) Call Me,” KC and the Sunshine Band’s “I Can’t Leave You Alone”) snuck out on 45, but the album was never released until this edition from Cherry Red.

What will you find on this new release?   Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 5, 2014 at 10:18