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Rare Gems Hidden in New “Playlist” Wave

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Playlist - Box TopsThe latest wave of Playlist releases is almost here from Legacy Recordings, and the series dedicated to collecting “the hits plus the fan favorites” doesn’t look to disappoint.  On January 29, Playlist volumes will be released for an eclectic cadre of artists in a variety of genres: vintage metal (Accept), traditional pop (Andy Williams), blue-eyed soul (The Box Tops), classic rock (Mountain, The Doobie Brothers, Harry Nilsson), country (Sara Evans, The Highwaymen), hip-hop (G. Love and Special Sauce, Nas), rock-and-roll (Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis) and even New Age (Yanni).  There are bona fide rarities on the volumes from Andy Williams, The Box Tops, G. Love and Special Sauce, and more.  All Playlist titles are now packaged in traditional jewel cases, and each title’s booklet contains a historical essay plus complete discographical annotation.

The late cult hero Alex Chilton got his start as the deep, soulful voice of The Box Tops, lending his pipes to the band’s classic renditions of Wayne Carson Thompson’s “The Letter,” “Soul Deep” and “Neon Rainbow,” Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s “Cry Like a Baby,” and so many other stone-cold Memphis classics.  Playlist: The Very Best of the Box Tops offers fourteen selections, all drawn from the group’s singles discography.  Most excitingly, all of these titles (including each song named above) are heard in their original mono single mixes.  Of the lesser-known songs, Playlist includes Chilton’s first composition released on a single, “I See Only Sunshine,” and Chilton favorite “Turn on a Dream,” penned by Mark James of “Suspicious Minds” and “Hooked on a Feeling” fame.  Southern soul-pop doesn’t get any better than this.

Playlist - Andy WilliamsWhen Howard Andrew Williams, better known as Andy Williams, died on September 25, 2012, American popular music lost one of its titans.  Like his Columbia Records contemporary Johnny Mathis, Williams blazed a musical path that allowed him to record everything from early rock and roll to lush renditions of standards, film themes, Broadway hits and MOR pop.  Ten of the fourteen tracks on Playlist: The Very Best of Andy Williams date to Andy’s 1960s heyday, with the remaining four songs from his still-vibrant 1970s period.  In the former category, you’ll hear Academy Award-winning classic “Moon River” (of course) but also three other movie tunes written by Williams’ friend Henry Mancini: “In the Arms of Love,” “Dear Heart” and “Days of Wine and Roses.”  Williams’ pop hits “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” and “Music to Watch Girls By” are also included, while two more famous cinema songs are represented from the seventies: “Speak Softly Love” from The Godfather and “Where Do I Begin” from Love Story.  Most exciting for collectors, though, will be a rare 1964 promotional single.  Written by the Li’l Abner team of Johnny Mercer and Gene DePaul, “Exercise Your Prerogative” encourages young listeners to “get the vote through on the big Election Day…let liberty and freedom live, go and exercise your prerogative!”  It’s all set to a swinging big-band chart by Dave Grusin.

After the jump: more specs on rarities, plus full track listings and pre-order links for every title! Read the rest of this entry »