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O-o-h Child! Real Gone’s December Line-Up Features Five Stairsteps, Grateful Dead, B.J. Thomas and More

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Five Stairsteps - Two-ferO-o-h Child! Real Gone Music has announced its December 2 release slate, and following the label’s holiday offerings set for November 4, it’s packed with rare soul, classic rock and folk!

The Real Goners have a complete collection of Linda Jones’ recordings for not one, not two, but three labels – Warner Bros., Atco and Loma –marking the most comprehensive collection yet for the “Hypnotized” songstress, including tracks new to CD! Joining the Linda Jones set is a two-for-one release of two Buddah albums from The First Family of Soul, The Five Stairsteps: 1968’s Our Family Portrait and 1970’s Stairsteps, the latter of which introduced the Top 10 hit “O-o-h Child.”

On the rock front, you’ll find two collections from western-themed bands! Real Gone continues the story of Cowboy with 5’ll Getcha Ten, the band’s 1971 album featuring the legendary Duane Allman sitting in; and the label adds a couple of tracks to the lone album from the 1980s’ wild roots-rockers The Unforgiven!  And speaking of roots-rock of a kind, the ongoing Dick’s Picks reissue series for Grateful Dead continues with two 1973 shows from the Boston Music Hall!

The legendary Theodore Bikel makes his first appearance on Real Gone with a long out-of-print collection originally issued on Rhino Handmade. Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk and Theatre Songs contains 26 tracks from Bikel’s seminal Elektra recordings made between 1958 and 1964 at a time when popular music was rapidly changing, and will remind listeners, even today, of the enduring power of Bikel’s classic repertoire.

BJ2These six titles will be joined by two more releases originally scheduled for November 4. In the mid-1970s, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” icon B.J. 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.  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.  I’ve written new liner notes for both titles, with fresh contributions from B.J. himself!

After the jump, we have the contents of Real Gone’s full press release plus pre-order links for all eight releases!

Linda Jones - Real GoneAlthough her recording career only spanned just eight years, Newark, New Jersey-born Linda Jones left an indelible mark on the world of soul music thanks to her distinctive melismatic vocal style.  Her phrasing and approach were so unique that, 42 years after her untimely passing in March 1972 (the result of a diabetes-induced coma), Linda is still hailed by soul music aficionados and other recording artists (such as the late Teena Marie, who considered her a prime musical influence) as one of the genre’s greatest singers. Starting out as a member of a family gospel group, Linda made her first secular recording in 1963 (under the name “Linda Lane”); however, it was after she was introduced to producer/songwriter George Kerr (briefly a member of Little Anthony & The Imperials) that her recording career took off.  With Kerr, she recorded two singles – one for Atco and one for Blue Cat – before she cut the song “Hypnotized,” a song written by the Poindexter Brothers, in April 1967.  Kerr found a home for the now-classic and timeless track at Loma Records, the R&B arm of Warner Brothers Records at the time, and within two months of its release, “Hypnotized” had reached No. 4 on Billboard’s R&B chart and No. 21 on the Hot 100.  An entire album named after Linda’s biggest hit was cut in the summer of 1967 with renowned keyboardist Richard Tee providing the arrangements.  From those sessions came “What’ve I Done (to Make You Mad),” issued in October ’67 and another Top 10 R&B hit. On the strength of the success of the hit title track, the Hypnotized album made it to the R&B Top 30.  Subsequent recordings included  “My Heart Needs a Break,” issued as a single in the spring of ’68 and peaking at No. 50 on the R&B, and a version of The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” both making their CD debut on The Complete Atco-Loma-Warner Bros. Recordings, a new compilation from Real Gone Music in association with SoulMusic Records. Also included are tracks from Linda’s final sessions for Warner Brothers including a brilliant version of “I Who Have Nothing,” 1969’s “It Won’t Take Much (to Bring Me Back)” and the single, “I Just Can’t Live My Life” b/w “My Heart (Will Understand),” with the latter three songs appearing for the first time on CD and rounding out this wonderful tribute to a one-of-a-kind soul singer.  Liner notes by founder David Nathan include quotes from producer George Kerr.  Remastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision.

Formed in Chicago in 1965 and known initially as “The First Family of Soul,” The Five Stairsteps consisted of Alohe Jean, Clarence Jr., James, Dennis and Kenneth (‘Keni’) Burke, and were managed by their father Clarence Sr., who also played bass behind them and co-wrote some of their material.   After winning a talent contest at the famed Regal Theater, the group was introduced to the legendary Curtis Mayfield by Fred Cash of The Impressions, which led to their first recording contract with Mayfield’s Windy C label.  After Windy C folded, the group continued their association with Curtom Records, distributed at the time by Buddah Records; in total, The Five Stairsteps cut two albums under Mayfield’s wing before switching to Buddah in 1968 for their first LP for the label, Our Family Portrait, with lead singer/primary composer Clarence Jr. and his father as co-producers.  The album included two charted singles, “Something’s Missing” (R&B #17, Pop #88) and a cover of the doo-wop classic, “A Million to One” (R&B #28, Pop #68), a song written by Righteous Brother Bill Medley.  Each member of the group took turns singing lead on various tunes, including the Burkes’ youngest son, Cubie (then just five years old).  Released as “The 5 Stairsteps & Cubie,” the LP reached No. 20 on the R&B Albums chart and No. 195 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. In 1970, the group (minus Cubie) began working with producer/arranger Stan Vincent on the album Stairsteps. In addition to further Burke originals, there were two Beatles covers, “It’s Getting Better” and “Dear Prudence,” but it was the song originally issued as the flipside of the latter’s release as a single that would ensure the group’s place in music history.  The bright and upbeat anthem “O-o-h Child” sold over a million copies, was certified gold and reached No. 8 on the Hot 100 and No. 14 on the R&B charts. Now reissued for the first time in their original form, these two classic soul albums appear together on The Five Stairsteps: Our Family Portrait/Stairsteps (Expanded Twofer Edition) along with three non-album singles: “Madame Mary” (a 1968 track produced and written by Curtis Mayfield and arranged by Donny Hathaway), “The Shadow of Your Love” from the Family Portrait sessions, and “America/Standing,” produced by Stan Vincent, a Hot 100 charting single (#83) in 1970.  Liner notes by renowned writer and soul music expert Kevin Goins include quotes from Keni Burke, producer Vincent and music industry veterans Cecil Holmes of Buddah Records and Curtom label co-founder Eddie Thomas. Remastered by Sean Brennan at Sony’s own Battery Studios in NYC. A Real Gone Music/SoulMusic release.

The UnforgivenIn 1984, after an article in UK music magazine NME touted The Unforgiven as the next big thing, the six-man guitar band with a look straight out of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly exploded onto an unsuspecting LA hair metal scene with a profoundly different image and sound than anything happening on the Sunset Strip at the time. Within months, the young band found themselves in the middle of one of the biggest bidding wars in music business history. They signed with Motley Crüe’s manager, Metallica’s attorney, powerhouse booking agency CAA, and inked a multi-million dollar recording contract with Elektra Records. But the ill-fated country-rock act recorded only one album, The Unforgiven, produced by famed Boston producer, John Boylan. The album featured an iconic, black and white cover shot that looked like a movie poster from a 60s western, and it yielded a hit video at MTV for the band’s first single: “I Hear the Call.” So what went wrong? Well, The Unforgiven set new standards for rock ‘n’ roll excess, at one point being banned from the state of Colorado for life while on tour with ZZ Top. Then, the incorrigible band of guitar heroes was dropped by both management and label as they succumbed to infighting and the ravages of the road. As a result, this album never quite got its due; but today, it sounds like the Technicolor frontier love child of the Clash, U2, the Pogues, Def Leppard, Big Country and Ennio Morricone, definitely a hit record that coulda woulda shoulda been. And, of course, the spaghetti western look of the band proved to be enormously influential on everyone from Guns and Roses to Bon Jovi. Now, we at Real Gone Music are proud to present this lost ‘80s classic in its entirety, with a bonus track, the single version of “I Hear the Call,” and a new track, “The Long Run Out (Ballad of the Unforgiven),” recorded by the band in support of their one-off appearance at the 2012 Stagecoach Festival. Liner notes by Chris Morris feature quotes from the band along with copious photos. Don your duster and get ready to rock.

Cowboy - 5'll Getcha TenLed by Scott Boyer and Tommy Talton, the Jacksonville band Cowboy was discovered by none other than Duane Allman, who, as legend has it, banged on their door at 7 am one day and asked to hear some songs. He then recommended them to Capricorn label owner Phil Walden, who sent Allman Brothers producer Johnny Sandlin to check them out; Sandlin ended up producing several Cowboy albums for Capricorn, of which this 1971 release was the second. The Allman Brothers connection on this album is even more explicit than it was on their debut album (Reach for the Sky, also reissued by Real Gone Music); Allman plays guitar on “Lookin’ for You” and dobro on “Please Be with Me,” while ABB keyboardist Chuck Leavell appears on half of the album tracks. But what makes 5’ll Getcha Ten special—and indeed what makes it many Cowboy fans’ favorite record—is the songwriting. “Please Be with Me” was covered by Eric Clapton on his classic 461 Ocean Boulevard release, and throughout the album a gentle undercurrent of spirituality courses through these beautifully played and sung songs, particularly on “What I Want Is You,” “Innocence Song” and the title tune. Scott Schinder’s notes contain revealing quotes from Tommy Talton; we’ve also added some great period photos and provided a pristine remastering job by Maria Triana at Battery Studios in New York. Worldwide CD debut.

Dick's Picks 14Dick’s Picks Vol. 14—Boston Music Hall 11/30/73 & 12/2/73 is one of the more unusual volumes in the entire Dick’s Picks series, both with respect to band configuration—neither Mickey Hart nor Donna Godchaux (who was off tour having a baby) are here—and the circumstances of the recording, as the first disc begins with a version of “Morning Dew” that had to serve as both a show opener and a sound check because the band was three hours late arriving for the gig! Interestingly, the last disc ends with an encore of  “Morning Dew” (in a particularly spectacular version) too, and one imagines archivist Dick Latvala chuckling over that symmetry as he put together this 4-CD set, which compiles highlights from two nights of a three-night stand at Boston Music Hall. Lovers of Keith Godchaux’s keyboard work will find much to savor, as he is higher in the mix here than on probably any other Pick, and the “Mind Left Body Jam” on Disc Four coming out of “Playing in the Band” is stellar. And how often do you hear (on Disc One) a FIRST set that begins with “Morning Dew” and ends with “Playing in the Band?!” All with a uniquely mellow vibe throughout…this is the Grateful Dead easing away from the jazzy 1973 sound towards the next step in their ceaseless evolution (the Wall of Sound is four short months away). Another keeper, out of print for years (Please Note: due to popular demand, Real Gone Music is also re-pressing, in a limited edition run of 300 copies, the very first Dick’s Pick the label released back in 2011, Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol. 36—The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA 9/21/72, which was a show so good that archivist Dick Latvala considered releasing it as the very first Dick’s Pick).

Theodore BikelTheodore Bikel is one of the most important folk singers of the recording era, and during his legendary tenure at Elektra Records, he recorded a multitude of albums exploring virtually every nook and cranny of the ethnic folk music canon. But it is his three Yiddish recordings—1958’s Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folk Songs, 1959’s More Jewish Folk Songs and 1964’s Theodore Bikel Sings Yiddish Theatre & Folk Songs—that have remained the most sought after albums in his vast catalog, treasured by record collectors throughout the world. Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs—previously available in a hard-to-find limited edition version—consists of 26 freshly remastered songs from these three original albums, with notes by Theodore Bikel and producer Jac Holzman, the man who brought him to Elektra Records. And this Treasury is not just for those conversant in Yiddish—the booklet also includes the lyrics in phonetic Yiddish with English translations.  Important recordings by a true master and living legend.

December 2 Releases from Real Gone Music

Linda Jones, The Complete Atco-Loma-Warner Bros. Recordings (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

The Five Stairsteps, Our Family Portrait/Stairsteps (Expanded Twofer Edition) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

The Unforgiven, The Unforgiven (Expanded Edition) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

Cowboy, 5’ll Getcha Ten (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 14—Boston Music Hall 11/30/73 & 12/2/73 (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Theodore Bikel, Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

B.J. Thomas, Home Where I Belong/Happy Man (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

B.J. Thomas, You Gave Me Love/Miracle (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Written by Joe Marchese

October 20, 2014 at 10:24

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