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Archive for September 2014

Review: The George Harrison Remasters – “The Apple Years 1968-1975”

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Harrison Box Cover

“Silence often says much more/Than trying to say what’s been said before/But that is all I want to do/To give my love to you…”

Those lyrics, penned by George Harrison for his song “That is All,” could be directed to a female lover or to a higher power, but the sentiment rang true for the artist in any circumstance. Harrison’s lifetime of work was marked by its forward thinking, a trajectory that is eloquently expressed on the new box set The Apple Years 1968-1975. Over the six albums contained in this small box of wonders, the onetime “Quiet Beatle” eschewed the virtues of silence to speak volumes through his music. He also refused to “say what’s been said before,” experimenting with various sonic palettes during this creatively fertile period which saw the collapse of the most important band in music history and the birth of a solo artist who struggled to find his place “living in the material world,” and made that struggle a major part of his life in song.

This new cube-style box set, designed to complement 2004’s Dark Horse Years 1976-1992 collection, includes new, beautifully-remastered digipak editions of Harrison’s six Apple LPs beginning with 1968’s Wonderwall Music – the very first solo album by any Beatle – and continuing with the even more experimental Electronic Sound as issued on the Zapple label (1969), the acclaimed triple-LP All Things Must Pass (1970), Living in the Material World (1973), Dark Horse (1974) and Harrison’s Apple swansong Extra Texture (Read All About It) (1975). The all-star Concert for Bangla Desh is not included; it last saw a deluxe reissue in 2005. All of the individual CDs are also available as standalone releases, though a DVD of bonus material will remain exclusive to the box. Whether purchased individually or as one package, these discs offer a fresh perspective on Harrison’s most prolific years.

The Beatles established Apple Records with lofty goals, envisioning a kind of musical utopia for the band and for talented newcomers whom they would shepherd to success. Though the Apple story didn’t turn out quite as planned, Harrison thrived both as a solo artist and as the most prolific producer in the Fab Four. At Apple, he lent his talent to records by Badfinger, Jackie Lomax, Lon and Derrek Von Eaton, Radha Krsna Temple, Doris Troy, Billy Preston and others. As a solo artist, he inaugurated the label’s LP series with 1968’s Wonderwall Music soundtrack and nearly closed it out with the final Apple album of original material (Extra Texture).

Read on, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 23, 2014 at 13:03

Let It Snow! Legacy Has Eight New “Classic Christmas” Titles Including Unheard Sinatra, Mathis Tracks

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FrankIt’s that time of the year again! Legacy Recordings’ Classic Christmas Album series has become an annual tradition, and the label is once again drawing on the Sony Music vaults to offer new seasonal anthologies from a group of truly celebrated artists. This year, the bona fide legends include Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Perry Como, and Johnny Mathis, and their volumes will be joined by an entry for the classical crossover quartet Il Divo as well as by various-artists compilations spotlighting hard rock, country and pop Christmas classics. These eight new, remastered titles will be available October 7, 2014 and feature a variety of holiday treats!

This year’s line-up introduces various-artists releases to the series, and also expands its purview to include previously unissued tracks and rarities (much in the style of Sony’s long-running Playlist series) on the Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra titles. Frank Sinatra’s Classic Christmas Album features 14 holiday favorites from his 1940s Columbia Records period, long before he was “Ol’ Blue Eyes” or “The Chairman of the Board.” At Columbia, Sinatra was “The Voice” – the voice which inspired bobbysoxers to riot and listeners everywhere to swoon. In addition to familiar fare (“Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “White Christmas”), this collection offers two spirituals first issued on a 1947 single (“Jesus is a Rock (In a Weary Land),” “I’ve Got a Home in That Rock”) and two previously unissued performances: Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with singer Dorothy Kirsten and an alternate version of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne’s “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” with the Page Cavanaugh Trio. This alternate version follows a different approach to the performance of the same song Sinatra recorded four years later with the B. Swanson Quartet in 1950 (which is also included on the CD). Sinatra performed “Baby” with Kirsten on 1949’s Light Up Time radio program; “Let It Snow” with Cavanaugh dates to 1946’s Songs by Sinatra show.

JMCCRare songs also feature on the Johnny Mathis volume. Two previously unissued tracks make their first appearances anywhere – “Ol’ Kris Kringle” and “Give Me Your Love for Christmas.” The latter has been confirmed as an alternate recording to the familiar version from 1969’s Give Me Your Love for Christmas LP. This holiday collection also includes both sides of two rare singles: “Christmas in the City of the Angels” b/w “The Very First Christmas Day” (1979) and “Christmas Is” b/w “Sign of the Dove” (1971). “Christmas Is” was previously issued on CD by Sony Special Products in 1999 as the title track of a budget compilation, but the other three single sides make their CD debuts here. In total, Johnny’s Classic Christmas Album includes 14 songs including his 2006 duet with Bette Midler of “Winter Wonderland/Let It Snow!,” drawing on his rich Christmas catalogue which dates back to 1958’s Merry Christmas and to date encompasses six full-length holiday LPs.

After the jump: Perry Como, Barbra Streisand, Il Divo and more – plus pre-order links and track listings for all eight titles!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 23, 2014 at 11:20

Release Round-Up: Week of September 23

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Harrison Box Contents

George Harrison, The Apple Years 1968-1975 (Apple/Universal, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Here, at last, are George Harrison’s complete albums for Apple Records, all beautifully remastered and featuring select bonus material.  These six albums are available in a deluxe box set with a bonus DVD or as individual reissues:

Wonderwall Music (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Electronic Music (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

All Things Must Pass  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Living in the Material World  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Dark Horse (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Extra Texture (Read All About It)  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Bowie - Sound and Vision Contents

David Bowie, Sound + Vision  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

In case you missed it the last time around, here’s a slimmed-down reissue of the 2003 iteration of Bowie’s box set covering the chameleonic rock star’s career through 1997 on four CDs.

John Coltrane - Offering

John Coltrane, Offering: Live at Temple University (Impulse!/Resonance) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

Here, at last, is the famous concert in which John Coltrane put down his saxophone and sang – or at least vocalized in an intense, some might say inexplicable, manner.  Ashley Kahn puts this remarkable, and remarkably inscrutable, 1966 Philadelphia performance in perspective in the deluxe 24-page booklet that accompanies this 2-CD release.

Hollies - 50 at Fifty

Hollies, Fifty at 50 (Parlophone/Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

This new 3-CD Hollies anthology, marking the harmony purveyors’ 50th year of recording, arrives in the U.K. today with a U.S. edition to follow next month.

JLL

Jerry Lee Lewis, The Knox Phillips Sessions: The Unreleased Recordings (Saguaro Road) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K. )

In the mid-1970s, Jerry Lee Lewis returned to Sun Studios with Sam Phillips’ son Knox now running the show; Knox recorded the piano pounder on country, pop and gospel classics from “Beautiful Dreamer” to “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.”  Ten tracks from the Knox Phillips sessions are included on this single-disc release.

Pugwash

Pugwash, A Rose in a Garden of Weeds (Omnivore) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

Omnivore has a “preamble through the history of Pugwash,” the Irish band described by the label as a “mix of The Beach Boys meets ELO meets XTC.”  This 17-track collection spans the period between 1999’s Almond Tea As Served By… through 2011’s The Olympus Sound and should serve as a perfect introduction to an underrated group.

Edwin Starr - Involved

Edwin Starr, Soul Master: Expanded Edition / Involved: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

Big Break dips back into the Motown vault for two generously expanded editions of albums from “War” hero Edwin Starr including his 1968 Motown LP debut Soul Master with a whopping 17 bonus tracks, and 1971’s Involved (featuring “War’) with 13 bonuses!

Soul Master: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Involved: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

LC

Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems (Columbia) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The poet and troubadour celebrates his 80th birthday with the release of a new album featuring nine new songs.

TBLG

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek (Interscope/Columbia) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Also not a reissue, but certainly of interest – the 88-years young jazz vocal great teams with the audacious pop superstar for a set of swinging standards.  Available in standard and deluxe editions, as well as Target, iTunes and HSN exclusives with extra material.

Written by Joe Marchese

September 23, 2014 at 08:19

A Well-Respected Band: The Kinks Prep “Essential,” A New Deluxe “Muswell” and “Anthology” Box Set

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Kinks Anthology

It’s going to be a Kink-sized autumn on both sides of the Atlantic. Legacy Recordings, newly-exclusive licensor of The Kinks’ 1971-1985 catalogue for North America, is kicking things off on October 14 with the release of The Essential Kinks, a 2-CD career-spanning retrospective of the group’s music for Pye/Reprise, RCA, Arista and Columbia. Then, on November 10, Legacy follows with a Legacy Edition CD/DVD set celebrating the band’s 1971 album Muswell Hillbillies. One week later on November 17, Sanctuary Records (BMG/InGrooves in the U.S.) has a 5-CD box set coming. The Anthology 1964-1971 has been curated by longtime Kinks historian Andrew Sandoval and includes roughly a full disc’s worth – 23 tracks – of previously unissued material. Finally, Legacy has already made available 16 Kinks albums as high-resolution digital downloads in North America via HDTracks, from Muswell Hillbillies through Return to Waterloo (1985) and Come Dancing with the Kinks (1986).

“I’ve never heard a Kinks song I didn’t like,” writes David Bowie in his new liner notes penned for The Essential Kinks. This truly stuffed package – with 48 songs on 2 CDs – begins with 1964’s U.K. chart-topper/U.S. Top 10 hit “You Really Got Me” and concludes with 1993’s “Phobia,” The Kinks’ final original single to date. In between, you’ll find most of The Kinks’ hits including “All Day and All of the Night,” “Tired of Waiting for You,” “Sunny Afternoon,” “Waterloo Sunset,” and “Come Dancing,” plus live renditions of “’Till the End of the Day,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone” and “Lola.” (The group’s MCA period of 1986-1989 is the only label affiliation which is overlooked here.)

The Essential Kinks will be followed by a Legacy Edition of Muswell Hillbillies on November 10. The band’s ninth studio album, it was named after Muswell Hill, the area of North London that Ray Davies and his brother Dave once called home. Like The Kinks’ classic Village Green Preservation Society before it, Muswell concerned itself with themes relevant to British life, wryly addressing working-class conditions and the changes affecting the populace. A Deluxe Edition was released by Sanctuary and Universal in 2013, which presented the original album on its first disc and fourteen bonus cuts on its second disc.

The upcoming Legacy Edition retains eight of the thirteen bonus tracks on the 2013 Deluxe Edition, dropping three BBC radio performances from The John Peel Show (“Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues,” “Holiday” and “Skin and Bone”) and the 1976 remixes of “Muswell Hillbilly” and “20th Century Man.” It then adds a separate DVD with thirteen previously-unreleased performances: two songs from a January 1972 broadcast of The Old Grey Whistle Test and eleven from BBC’s Live at the Rainbow program from July 1972.

After the jump, we’ll explore The Kinks Anthology 1964-1971. Plus we have track listings and pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 22, 2014 at 13:37

Thank You, Friends: Omnivore Readies Live Big Star, Complete Works of Queen’s Roger Taylor

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Big Star - LiveOmnivore Recordings is greeting autumn with projects from a couple of, well, big artists. By big, we mean perhaps the biggest cult band of all time – Big Star – and if that’s not big enough, how about the drummer from one of the biggest rock bands in the world? As in, Roger Taylor of Queen? On October 27, Omnivore will issue the first-ever retrospective of Taylor’s solo work in anticipation of the November 11 U.S. release of his complete, all-encompassing solo box set, The Lot. On November 4, the label brings fans the only professionally-filmed complete concert from Memphis’ favorite power-poppers with Big Star – Live in Memphis.

Live in Memphis continues the Big Star story with the premiere on DVD, CD, DD, and 2-LP vinyl (with download card) of the band’s performance of October 29, 1994. That evening, Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, and Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies ran through a packed set of Big Star classics and covers in front of an appreciative hometown audience. Filmed at the New Daisy Theatre, Live in Memphis includes Big Star favorites such as “Thank You Friends,” “September Gurls,” and “The Ballad of El Goodo,” plus the late Chris Bell’s “I Am The Cosmos,” and songs from T. Rex (“Baby Strange”), The Kinks (“Till the End of the Day”), Todd Rundgren (“Slut”) and even Antonio Carlos Jobim (“The Girl from Ipanema”). All told, the audio editions have 19 songs, and the DVD has 18, eliminating “Fire.”

Though the concert was billed as Big Star’s farewell, it was far from it – the band continued to tour together for another 16 years until Chilton’s untimely death in 2010. Big Star – Live in Memphis includes liner notes from filmmaker Danny Graflund, Ardent Studios’ producer John Fry, Jody Stephens, Jon Auer, and Ken Stringfellow in the CD, LP, and DVD packages. In addition, the first pressing of the LP will be pressed on colored vinyl, with standard black to follow. This once-in-a-lifetime chronicle of the one and only Big Star is due on November 4.

After the jump, Omnivore is going ga-ga with Queen’s Roger Taylor! Plus the full track listings and pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 22, 2014 at 10:16

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Real Gone Christmas: Label Preps Robert Goulet, Andy Williams and the Williams Brothers, B.J. Thomas, More

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GouletThe first day of autumn is almost here, but Real Gone Music is looking ahead to winter – and the most spectacular line-up of holiday music we’ve seen since The Second Disc started up nearly five years ago!  The label has just unveiled its release slate for November 4, with a whopping seven Christmas titles, two contemporary Christian albums from a classic pop legend that make a perfect seasonal  complement, and – just to keep things rocking – a hotly-anticipated CD from a classic rock great.

I’m doubly proud to announce that four of the titles in this batch are extra-special to us here at Second Disc HQ.  I’ve compiled and annotated the first-ever collection of The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings of the one and only Mr. Robert Goulet!  That means both of Mr. Goulet’s sparkling holiday LPs (This Christmas I Spend with You and Robert Goulet’s Wonderful World of Christmas), of course, but we’re also adding a little extra under the Christmas tree with both sides of a rare mono 45 and all three duets recorded by Goulet and his then-wife Carol Lawrence – including “The Christmas Waltz,” never before on CD!  Spectacularly remastered at Sony’s Battery Studios, these long out-of-print Christmas classics from one of the most distinctive vocalists of all time have never sounded better!

Williams BrothersI’ve also written the liner notes for another true labor of love for the Real Gone team: the first-ever wide-release CD issue of 1970’s The Williams Brothers Christmas Album – the only full-length album featuring Andy Williams and his brothers Bob, Dick and Don!  With some of the most spectacular harmony singing ever put on a Christmas record, the album is highlighted by an amazing side-long medley of holiday favorites and the Williams Brothers’ renditions of Kay Thompson’s “The Holiday Season” and “Jingle Bells,” this original Barnaby Records release – freshly remastered from the original tapes for the first time by Mike Milchner at SonicVision – finally can take its place among Andy Williams’ Christmas treasures on compact disc.  This reissue of  The Williams Brothers Christmas Album follows last year’s comprehensive, 2-CD release from Real Gone of Andy’s complete Columbia Christmas recordings!

BJ - Home HappyReal Gone is also chronicling a key chapter in the career of B.J. Thomas with two new releases.  In the mid-1970s, Thomas became one of the most successful artists ever in the field of contemporary Christian music, recording a series of record-breaking, Grammy Award-winning albums for the Myrrh label that reflected the style and high production values of his pop material but with a spiritual emphasis.  Featuring key players from Muscle Shoals and the Nashville A-Team and songs by Hal David, Chris Christian, Archie Jordan, Pete Drake, and B.J. and his wife Gloria, these albums have never received their due on CD – until now!  Home Where I Belong/Happy Man and You Gave Me Love/Miracle, with two albums on each CD, reveal a major chapter in the career of B.J. Thomas – and these amazing, heartfelt and incredibly catchy records aren’t just for Christian music fans!  Best of all, B.J. was kind enough to contribute to my liner notes for both releases, illuminating this often-misunderstood period of his remarkable, and still-thriving, career.

These four titles are joined by other must-have stocking stuffers from The Statler Brothers, The Brothers Four, The Kingston Trio, Frank DeVol and Rosemary Clooney – plus Real Gone has the long-lost solo album from Alice Cooper and Lou Reed’s frequent collaborator Dick Wagner on CD!  After the jump, we have the label’s press release and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

The Sound of Young America, Seventies-Style: Big Break Goes Motown

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Lenny Williams - RiseBig Break Records has long kept each month packed with the most soulful records of all time, but the label has recently done something a little extra special – an entire group of six releases drawn exclusively from the vaults of Motown Records!  (And there’s more on the way!)

Atop this mighty list is a long-awaited remaster of Stephanie Mills’ Motown debut, For the First Time.  Released in 1975 – the same year Mills took Broadway by storm in The Wiz – the LP was the “first time” she recorded for Motown, and the last time that Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote and produced an album together.  We’ll be covering that title soon in a special review!

Lenny Williams, former lead singer for Tower of Power, didn’t break through as a solo artist until he signed with ABC Records in 1977.  But prior to that, Williams released two LPs: one for Warner Bros. while he was still with Tower of Power, and one with Motown: Rise Sleeping Beauty.  Seeking not to veer too far away from the ToP sound, he teamed as co-producer with the band’s Chester Thompson.  Six of the ten tracks on Sleeping Beauty were co-written by Williams and David Stallings; among the album’s musicians were ToP alumni Steve Kupka and Mic Gillette.  Despite some controversy over the cover – a fairy-tale image which seems rather tame today – the album, recorded in San Francisco, scored one minor hit with the Sly and the Family Stone-influenced “Since I Met You.”  In addition to the album version, the track is included in its promotional single version on Big Break’s new reissue as a bonus cut. Alternating between lushly romantic songs and funky grooves, Rise Sleeping Beauty is both a missing link in the Williams story and a lost R&B gem.  Andy Kellman provides the new, comprehensive liner notes, and Kevin Reeves has remastered. Rise Sleeping Beauty is handsomely presented in a Super Jewel Box, as are all of these Motown releases.

Originals - Down to Love TownBig Break returns to the catalogue of The Originals with 1977’s Down to Love Town, following the label’s 2011 reissue of the group’s 1975 California Sunset.  The Originals, formed in 1966 but with roots tracing back to the 1950s’ Voice Masters group, worked their way up the Motown ranks as background singers for Stevie Wonder, Edwin Starr and Jimmy Ruffin.  With Marvin Gaye championing them, The Originals scored their most memorable hits with “Baby, I’m for Real” (1969) and “The Bells” (1970), both co-written and produced by the Motown legend. Down to Love Town, on the Soul imprint, followed 1976’s Communiqué, and had its roots in that LP.  The title track, “Down to Love Town,” was featured on Communiqué, and its 12-inch remix took The Originals all the way to No. 1 on the U.S. Disco chart, their best chart showing since “The Bells.” This extended version, which cut many of the lyrics and emphasized the groove, appeared on the new LP.  “(Call on Your) Six Million Dollar Man” from “Love Town” co-writers Michael B. Sutton and Brenda Sutton also notched a No. 6 Disco hit for the vocal quartet.  Michael Sutton produced three of the album’s seven tracks, with two more produced by the group itself (led by founding member Freddie Gorman) and one by Sutton and Motown stalwart Frank Wilson (who would join Lenny Williams at ABC). Down to Love Town proved to be The Originals’ Motown swansong; their next album appeared on the Fantasy label.  Big Break’s new reissue of this lost disco-soul platter, remastered by Reeves, features copious notes from Justin Cober-Lake.  One bonus track, an alternate version of the title track, is also included to round out the package.

High InergyA few months later in 1977, Motown’s Gordy imprint released the debut of High Inergy. Turnin’ On introduced the four-person girl group that Berry Gordy hoped would follow in the footsteps of The Supremes.  Gordy’s older sister, Gwen Gordy-Fuqua, guided Vernessa and Barbara Mitchell, Linda Howard and Michelle Martin to Motown and assigned a number of producers to the album: Kent Washburn, Jimmy Holiday, Al Willis and Dee Ervin.  They, in turn, drew on Motown’s Jobete publishing arm to supply High Inergy with fresh material.  Two songs had origins in material Washburn had recorded in demo form for Diana Ross herself: “Let Me Get Close to You” and “Searchin’ (I’ve Got to Find My Love).”    Another track, “Love is All You Need,” was previously recorded by Tata Vega but given a smoking new interpretation by High Inergy.  One song came from the tried-and-true team of Marilyn McLeod and Pam Sawyer (“You Can’t Turn Me Off (In the Middle of Turning Me On),” introduced by Millie Jackson) and two more from future soul superstar James Ingram (“Could This Be Love,” “Save It for a Rainy Day”).  All of this assembled talent – including musicians Ray Parker, Jr. and Ollie Brown – augured for success, and Turnin’ On achieved it.  With its contemporary blend of R&B styles – from classic-styled romantic balladry to light disco and funk – the album reached a No. 6 R&B peak and also went Top 30 Pop, while “You Can’t Turn Me On” hit No. 2 R&B and a still-impressive No. 12 Pop position.  Second single “Love is All You Need” also went Top 20 R&B, and cracked the top 100 on the Pop side.  BBR’s Kevin Reeves-remastered reissue chronicles the group’s history in a fine new essay from Rico “Superbizzee” Washington and adds both of those single versions.

After the jump: the scoop on Platinum Hook and Switch, plus full track listings and order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 19, 2014 at 10:32

Ooh Baby Baby: New “Opus Collection” Celebrates Linda Ronstadt

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LR OpusStarbucks has unveiled the latest addition to its Opus Collection library, and the subject artist is one who’s always beat to a “different drum”: Linda Ronstadt.  Throughout her career, Ronstadt has rocked to Buddy Holly and Warren Zevon, performed Gilbert and Sullivan on Broadway, sang out front of Nelson Riddle’s orchestra, made sweet country harmonies with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, celebrated her rich Mexican heritage, and explored folk and Cajun traditions.  In short, Ronstadt’s remarkable – and remarkably diverse career – can’t possibly be encapsulated on one compact disc, but the new Opus Collection does offer 16 tracks displaying the breadth of Ronstadt’s vocal talents.  It follows other recent releases for the artist including Rhino’s volume of Duets and Universal’s budget-priced ICON compilation.

This Opus Collection spans the period between Ronstadt’s second solo album, 1970’s Silk Purse, and 2006’s Grammy-nominated studio farewell, Adieu, False Heart, a collaborative LP with Ann Savoy.  Following the usual template of this series, Ronstadt’s edition includes a number of hits but eschews others in favor of lesser-known gems.  That the earliest track is Gary White’s ballad “Long, Long Time” is appropriate; with its No. 25 placement on the Billboard Hot 100, it was a milestone for Ronstadt that also earned her a Grammy nomination.  (“Different Drum,” from The Stone Poneys, had reached No. 13 in 1967 but “Long, Long Time” marked Ronstadt’s first major solo hit.)

Compilation producer Steven Stolder has selected some of Ronstadt’s most beloved hits from her amazing streak in the 1970s produced by Peter Asher: “You’re No Good” (No. 1, 1975, from Heart Like a Wheel), “Blue Bayou” (No. 3, 1977, from Simple Dreams), “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” (No. 31, also from Simple Dreams), and “Ooh Baby Baby” (No. 7, 1979, from Living in the U.S.A.)  Anna McGarrigle’s title track to 1974’s chart-topping album Heart Like a Wheel, featuring an understated piano/string quartet arrangement and the harmony vocals of Maria Muldaur, is also a selection.

Ronstadt’s natural affinity and ability to blend with her fellow singers has never been in doubt.  Opus Collection draws on the Grammy-winning Trio II album from Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris for the traditional “Lover’s Return,” first popularized by the Carter Family in the 1930s, and on Adieu False Heart for Ronstadt and Ann Savoy’s delicious reinvention of The Left Banke’s pop hit “Walk Away Renee.”   Another favorite duet partner of Ronstadt’s is the great New Orleans soul man Aaron Neville; he’s heard on Tom Snow, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Don’t Know Much,” a No. 2 Pop/No. 1 AC hit in 1989 from the multi-platinum album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind.  From that same LP, this collection reprises Jimmy Webb’s poignant “Adios,” featuring the angelic, multi-layered harmonies of Brian Wilson, and the Eric Kaz-written title track.  Kaz also co-wrote the beguiling title song to Ronstadt’s acclaimed 1993 album Winter Light, heard here, with Ronstadt and film score composer Zbigniew Antoni Preisner.

The final quartet of tracks represents Ronstadt’s varied forays into standards.  Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Bobby Capó’s “Piel Canela” is derived from Ronstadt’s Grammy-winning Frenesí.  Two tracks are taken from Ronstadt’s series of albums with the legendary arranger-conductor Nelson Riddle – “What’ll I Do” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.”  Opus Collection closes with “Cry Me a River,” another venerable standard from the Great American Songbook.  Ronstadt recorded it not with an orchestra, but with a jazz combo, for her 2004 Verve album Hummin’ to Myself.

After the jump, we have more on this set including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 18, 2014 at 13:55

Listen to the Nyah-Rock: Cherry Red Expands Cymande’s First Three Albums

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CymandeOn September 25, 2014, Cymande will appear at the Koko in London. The gig will be the first time that all of its original members have performed together in the U.K. since 1974. The group, named for the Calypso word for Dove and pronounced “sah-mahn-day,” blends together funk, jazz, calypso, African tribal music and reggae into a sound of music the group dubbed “Nyah Rock.” Due to the sampling of some their songs in recent times, Cymande’s reputation has grown larger and Cherry Red Records have recently reissued expanded edition of their three LPs:   1972’s Cymande, 1973’s Second Time Around and 1974’s Promised Heights.

In 1972, John Schroeder (a producer who wrote Helen Shapiro’s “Walking Back to Happiness” and also discovered the band that became Status Quo) walked into a Soho nightclub to discover new talent and found Cymande.   The group (all hailing from islands in the Caribbean) had been founded a year earlier by Patrick Patterson (guitar) and Steve Scipio (bass). The pair was joined by Mike Rose (sax, flute, percussion), Sam Kelly (drums), Derek Gibbs (alto sax) and Pablo Gonzales (congas, bongos). A little later, vocalists Ray King and Joey Dee, plus saxophonists Peter Serreo and Desmond Atwell came onboard.

Cymande - Second TimeSchroeder took them into the studio to record their songs (most written by Paterson and Scipio but with contributions from others in the band; vocals alternated but predominantly featured Joey Dee) on what became their self-titled debut LP. He got them signed to Janus in the U.S., an imprint of Chess Records. A single of “The Message” was released and it climbed to the Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at No. 20 on the R&B Chart. They began an American tour supporting Al Green and becoming the first British band to perform at the famed Apollo Theater.

Ironically, Cymande’s U.S. success didn’t translate to their U.K. home. In Britain, they mostly booked shows in clubs and their second LP in 1973 did not even get a British release. It did better in the U.S. and lead to another American tour where the band had reverted to its core of Patterson, Scipio, Rose, Kelly, Gonzales, Dee and Gibbs.

Cymande released a third and final record in 1974 (which did get issued in the U.K. on Contempo) but it fared poorer than its predecessors. The Nyah-rockers broke up in 1975 with a final single from their last recording session being released in 1976. The members went their separate ways, some into music and others into other pursuits. Some have formed together for various Cymande tributes over the years. In 1981, Paterson produced what was called “a new Cymande project” entitled Arrival, but it is not considered part of the band’s official release canon.

After the jump: more on Cymande, including the complete track listings for all three titles plus order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 18, 2014 at 10:43

Posted in Cymande, News, Reissues

Everybody Out There: Paul McCartney Expands “New” In October As 2-CD/1-DVD Set

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newThe week before hotly-anticipated Archive Collection releases arrive of Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound, Paul McCartney is looking to a more recent title for a deluxe reissue.  On October 28, McCartney will revisit New, first released in October 2013.  The 2-CD/1-DVD set expands the album that entered both the U.K. and U.S. album charts at No. 3 and has since sold nearly a quarter of a million copies in the U.S. in addition to having earned platinum and gold certifications elsewhere in the world.

This new edition of New presents the original album on its first CD, followed by a 7-track CD of bonus tracks including outtakes (one previously released as a Japanese exclusive, two never before released) and live material.  The DVD, with a running time of nearly two hours, may be the most impressive component of the package, featuring a New documentary, an interview and music videos in addition to “making of” featurettes for the videos plus eight promotional appearances from Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon’s television shows as well as appearances in Las Vegas, Times Square, and even HMV’s venerable Oxford Street, London shop.

For New, McCartney famously collaborated with a variety of producers including Academy Award-winning songwriter Paul Epworth (Adele’s “Skyfall,” 21) and Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black), as well as two producers with impressive credits whose fathers just happened to have had Beatle pedigrees – Ethan Johns, son of Glyn, and Giles Martin, son of Sir George and co-sonic architect of The Beatles’ Love stage show.  Rolling Stone praised McCartney’s efforts with the fresh production team as “the music of eternal youth… energized and full of joyous rock & roll invention.”  Both McCartney and his producers comment on New in “Something New,” the Don Letts-directed documentary included on the DVD.

Among the new audio material on New are the previously unissued tracks “Hell to Pay” and “Demon Dance” plus the Japanese bonus track “Struggle.”  The second disc also includes live performances of “Save Us”, “New”, “Queenie Eye” and “Everybody Out There” from McCartney’s November 2013 gig at the Tokyo Dome.

After the jump: more details including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 17, 2014 at 13:18