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Archive for September 11th, 2014

Simply Deluxe: Edsel Expands and Remasters Simply Red In New Multi-Disc Sets

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Simply Red - HomeEdsel has gone red – Simply Red, that is – on its recent series of deluxe CD and DVD editions from the British pop-soul band.  By the time of Simply Red’s breakup in 2010, founding member and lead vocalist Mick Hucknall was the last man standing, but the legacy left behind by the group – and its songs including “Holding Back the Years” and revivals of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New” – remains strong.  Edsel’s new Simply Red series encompasses three 2-CD/1-DVD sets from the band’s final decade as well as two standalone DVDs.  The 2 or 3-CD/1-DVD sets, housed in lavish casebound editions in the style of recent releases from Belinda Carlisle, Todd Rundgren and Everything But the Girl, expand 2003’s Home, 2005’s Simplified, and 2007’s Stay – all three of which were previously available on the band’s own label.  The videos Home: Live in Sicily and Cuba! Simply Red – Recorded Live at El Gran Teatro Havana both brim with special bonus features in these new BD/DVD/2-CD combo editions.  (Whew!)  All CDs have been remastered by Phil Kinrade and/or Tony Cousins and feature impressively-designed booklets with new liner notes from Alan Robinson, lyrics, and more.

Simply Red’s very first album, 1985’s Picture Book, established the band that then featured Hucknall (vocals), Fritz McIntyre (keyboards/vocals), Chris Joyce (drums/percussion), Tony Bowers (bass), Sylvan Richardson (guitar) and Tim Kellett (trumpet).  The album earned a 5x Platinum certification in the U.K. and a Platinum record in the U.S. aided by the strength of “Holding Back the Years,” a U.S. No. 1 hit in 1986 that only fared slightly less well in the U.K. at No. 2.  (Its original U.K. issue a year earlier only hit No. 51.)  That original song by Hucknall and Neil Moss wasn’t the only hit single from Picture Book; a cover of The Valentine Brothers’ “Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)” reached No. 13 on the U.K. charts in 1985 and No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986.

Six more LPs followed, each one of which achieved at least a Platinum certification in the U.K.; 1991’s Stars was a staggering 12x Platinum smash.  Hit singles also continued to arrive on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world, most notably “The Right Thing” (No. 11 U.K., No. 27 U.S.), Cole Porter’s chestnut “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” (No. 11 U.K.), “It’s Only Love” (No. 13 U.K., No. 57 U.S.), “A New Flame” (No. 17 U.K.) and Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s  “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” (No. 2 U.K., No. 1 U.S.).  The band’s final album under the Warner Music Group umbrella, 1999’s Love and the Russian Winter, featured only Hucknall from the original line-up.

Four years later, Simply Red remerged, offering new music on Hucknall’s own label ltd.  The band’s line-up for live performances included Hucknall (vocals), Ian Kirkham (saxophone/keyboards), Dave Clayton (keyboards), Kenji Suzuki (guitar), Kevin Robinson (trumpet/flugelhorn/percussion), Steve Lewinson (bass guitar) and Pete Lewinson (drums).  This grop of musicians featured on Simply Red’s albums, too, but they were also joined by session musicians. From 2003 until 2008, John Johnson (trombone), Dee Johnson (vocals), Sarah Brown (vocals) and Chris De Margary (saxophone) also appeared on Simply Red’s albums and tours.

After the jump: a detailed look at what you’ll find on Edsel’s reissues, including complete track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 11, 2014 at 12:54

Divine, Marvelous: “Gal Costa” Bridges Bossa Nova and Tropicalia

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Gal CostaBlame it on the bossa nova. So pervasive was that intoxicating, romantic and gentle Brazilian beat that an alternative had to arrive. It came in the form of tropicalia, or tropicalismo, blending the popular with the avant-garde, fusing Brazilian and African rhythms with that old-time rock and roll. Tropicalia rose to prominence along with música popular brasileira (MPB), offering young people an alternative to bossa nova, which had by that point risen to international prominence. Emerging Brazilian artists of the day found a sound of their own. Real Gone Music and its Dusty Groove imprint have recently reissued one of the best and most beguiling examples of this distinctive Brazilian style. 1969’s Gal Costa (RGM-0257) was the first full solo album from the Brazilian vocalist, following an EP and a collaborative album with Caetano Veloso. The glamorous if pensive image of the singer on the cover might have been misleading as to the forward-thinking music contained within its grooves – alternately tense and relaxed, dark and sunny.

A major principle of tropicalia was antropofagia, basically a cultural “cannibalism” that encouraged the fusion of disparate influences to form something wholly new. The movement – which extended to literature, theatre and poetry, as well – had as its manifesto of sorts the album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis featuring contributions by Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Os Mutantes and Gal Costa. The eponymous Gal Costa LP chronologically followed both Domingo, the traditional, bossa nova-flavored album with Veloso, and the radical Tropicália. Beautiful and unsettling, Gal Costa – sung in Portuguese, save one English track – continued to push the musical envelope with antropofagia in mind.

Rogerio Duprat, Gilberto Gil and Lanny Gordin provided the expansive, varied arrangements to frame Costa’s resonant voice. The politically-charged environment of young artists bristling at Brazil’s military government (which would arrest and imprison both Veloso and Gil in 1969) contributed mightily to Gal Costa’s countercultural, psychedelia-goes-to-the-tropics feel.  There’s more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 11, 2014 at 10:29

Posted in Gal Costa, News, Reissues, Reviews

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