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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! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 20, 2014 at 10:24

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 Year in Reissues: The 2012 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWow!  Was it just over a year ago when a rather dubious report began circulating (that, shockingly, was picked up by many otherwise-reputable publications) that proclaimed the death of the CD was secretly scheduled by the major labels for 2012?  Well, 2012 has come and (almost) gone, and it might have been the most super-sized year in recent memory for reissues, deluxe and otherwise, from labels new and old.  Here at the Second Disc, we consider our annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards a companion piece to Mike’s own round-up over at Popdose, and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible – over 80 worthy, unique titles.  We also hope to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2012. As we’re literally deluged with news around these parts, these ladies and gentlemen prove, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to them, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Hooked On A Feeling (Again): B.J. Thomas “Complete Singles” Back On Schedule, Plus Germs Update

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Longtime readers of The Second Disc know that Real Gone Music is one of our favorite reissue labels.  And the level of dedication from the Real Gone team brings a silver lining to what would otherwise be an update as to a long-delayed title.  Back in February, the Real Goners announced the March 27 release of The Complete Scepter Singles of B.J. Thomas, the “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and “Hooked on a Feeling” hitmaker.  March, of course, came and went, and as of June 6, this eagerly-anticipated title still hasn’t arrived.  But that’s all about to change!

On June 19, The Complete Scepter Singles will arrive in stores and even better than expected.  Here’s the story, straight from Real Gone’s email newsletter: “Shortly after we sent out the press release and started production, we discovered that, while stereo recordings for the album versions of B.J.’s singles were easily accessible, the tapes were missing for most of B.J.’s original mono singles. We then embarked on a worldwide search for those single tapes – worldwide because the Scepter label has had a lot of owners over the years, and sometimes the tapes have been left behind as ownership transferred. Well, we’re happy to say our work paid off – we found a good number of tapes stashed in various vaults over the globe, and the result is all but two of the 46 tracks come from tape, and the other two -including, for the first time ever on CD, the long stereo version of ‘Rock and Roll Lullaby’ – are seamless disc dubs made from mint copies [of the original singles].”

In short, June 19 will bring the first-ever anthology to include the Texas-raised singer’s original single mixes (38 mono, six stereo) including all nineteen of his chart hits.  In addition, the first 50 customers to order The Complete Scepter Singles from Real Gone will receive a booklet autographed by Thomas himself.   (Customers who previously ordered the title from the label will receive a booklet, as well).

But that’s not all.  Real Gone’s release of the self-titled album from The Germs has also received an “upgrade,” so to speak!  Hit the jump for details!

Real Gone enlisted Pat Smear, current Foo Fighters guitarist and former guitarist for The Germs, for the liner notes to its reissue of 1979’s Joan Jett-produced album (GI).  Smear clued the Real Gone crew into the existence of an unreleased track from the original album sessions engineered by Jett, “Caught in My Eye,” that had been withheld from release as a potential single. The Real Gone newsletter picks up the story: “We checked with the licensor, Rhino, and, sure enough, there were a lot of versions of that song in the vaults. So, we figured, one of those had to be the right version, right? So, we announced the inclusion of the bonus track, designed the art (and got some killer Jenny Lens photos to add to the package along with lyrics and liner notes), and were ready to roll when we got the bad news – all that was in the vault was the Chris D. remix of the song that had appeared on an earlier Germs compilation! Forehead…meet wall.  But then, right before we were about to scrap the art and announce to the world that we goofed, we got a call – Rhino had discovered a track on their tape logs that looked like it could be the one we were looking for. We had them send it over via email, and it sounded great to us, definitely different from the previous remix. But it still awaited the true test: Pat’s blessing. So we sent it over to him and sure enough, it’s the real deal!”

The Germs’ (GI) is in stores now, complete with “Caught in My Eye.”  It can be ordered here, while the June 19 release of B.J. Thomas’ The Complete Scepter Singles can be pre-ordered at this link or right here directly from Real Gone!

Written by Joe Marchese

June 7, 2012 at 09:45

Love So Fine: Nick DeCaro’s “Works” Features James Taylor, B.J. Thomas, Andy Williams, More

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Though the A&M stands for (Herb) Alpert and (Jerry) Moss, A&M Records has meant a great many things to a great many people since its founding in 1962.  Those who came of age in the 1980s may think of the famous logo adorning records by Sting, Janet Jackson or Bryan Adams.  In the 1970s, the label was home to The Carpenters, Cat Stevens and Joe Cocker.  In the 1960s, A&M was not only a label but a “sound.”  That sound was a certain, beguiling style of sophisticated adult soft-pop epitomized by founder Herb Alpert as well as Burt Bacharach, Sergio Mendes, Chris Montez and Roger Nichols. Though Alpert and Moss sold their label (at one point the largest and most successful independent record company in the world) to PolyGram in 1989 and it is now a unit of Universal Music Group, its classic artists and albums have never fallen out of favor.

Universal Music Japan has launched an A&M 50th Anniversary Collection as well as a series of releases under the Nick DeCaro Posthumous 20th Anniversary umbrella.  A prolific arranger, composer and producer, DeCaro (1938-1992) was a mainstay of the early A&M era.  Among the titles already released in the series are albums by The Sandpipers, Chris Montez, Tijuana Brass offshoot The Baja Marimba Band, and DeCaro himself.  (Many of these titles are making their CD debuts.)  One new compilation has emerged, though, that celebrates DeCaro as well as some legendary artists from the A&M roster and elsewhere.

Nick DeCaro: Works is a 23-track anthology of DeCaro’s output as a producer and arranger between 1967 and 1982, and if it proves anything, it’s just how eclectic and adaptable the man’s style was.  Though he largely toiled behind the scenes in America, DeCaro became a star in Japan thanks to his 1974 solo effort Italian Graffiti, so it’s only fair that Japan is celebrating him with this diversely curated new release.

Mel Carter’s 1965 “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” on the Imperial label was Nick DeCaro’s first major hit as a producer and arranger, but it was the tip of the iceberg of his work at Imperial.  He produced records for studio groups like The Sunset Strings and a pre-Philadelphia O’Jays, and befriended young staff songwriter Randy Newman, who would later enlist him to write arrangements for his Good Old Boys album in 1974.  When he decamped for A&M, he became a primary architect of the label’s pop style, producing and/or arranging six albums for Claudine Longet, four for Chris Montez and six for the Sandpipers.  His work with Longet naturally brought him to the attention of her husband, Columbia Records artist Andy Williams, for whom DeCaro produced and arranged three LPs.  DeCaro also amazingly found time to arrange at Warner Bros. and Reprise, and he reunited with his old friend Newman writing charts for Harpers Bizarre’s renditions of Randy’s songs.

His own fitful solo career was less successful than his work for others, particularly when his 1969 solo debut Happy Heart went head-to-head with Andy Williams’ own version of its title song.  Williams had wanted his friend DeCaro to produce and arrange his recording, but DeCaro demurred, and Williams created a successful record of the song without DeCaro’s participation.  1974’s Italian Graffiti earned him cult status in Japan, but DeCaro continued to make his biggest hits for others.  Just a few of the names on the arranger’s client list reads like a “Who’s Who” of popular music: Gordon Lightfoot (If You Could Read My Mind, Sundown), James Taylor (Gorilla, In the Pocket), Little Feat (Time Loves a Hero), Neil Diamond (Beautiful Noise), Helen Reddy (I Don’t Know How to Love Him), Barbra Streisand (The Way We Were, Barbra Joan Streisand, Wet), Rickie Lee Jones (Rickie Lee Jones, Pirates),  Dolly Parton (Here You Come Again).  DeCaro was also in demand for his abilities on the accordion and concertina, adding the instrument to recordings by everyone from The Rolling Stones to renowned multi-instrumentalist Prince!  Before his passing in 1992, DeCaro returned to solo recording in Japan, toured the country twice and produced Japanese artists, as well.  But The Works focuses on some of his most renowned American work, with an emphasis on his productions during the golden years of A&M.

Hit the jump for the full run-down on Works, including the track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 10, 2012 at 10:07

Keep On Dancing: Elvis, Dusty, The Wicked Pickett All Appear on “Memphis Boys”

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Just last year, Ace Records’ Kent imprint issued a definitive 3-CD survey of Fame Studios, the Muscle Shoals, Alabama home of many of the greatest soul records ever committed to vinyl.  Over in Tennessee, however, another joyful noise was arriving courtesy of the musicians at Memphis, Tennessee’s American Studios.  Ace is celebrating the multifaceted sounds of Chips Moman and Don Crews’ American Studios with the new Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios, a 24-track tribute featuring such visitors to Memphis as Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, B.J. Thomas, Solomon Burke and a certain King named Elvis.  While it’s one hell of a listen on its own merits, Memphis Boys also serves as the soundtrack to Roben Jones’ 2011 book of the same name.

Though the artists in front of the microphones inevitably bear more famous names, Memphis Boys introduces you to the work of the session men who created the sound: guitarists Reggie Young and Mike Leech, bassist Tommy Cogbill, drummer Gene Chrisman, keyboardists Bobby Emmons and Bobby Woods.  Between 1964 and 1972, these men held court at 827 Thomas Street, creating the “Memphis Soul Stew” immortalized in song by saxophone giant King Curtis in 1967 and preserved as this compilation’s perfect opening shot.  Curtis was just one of the many Atlantic Records artists who set up shop at American, including the great Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Arthur Conley and Dusty Springfield, represented here by (what else?) “Son of a Preacher Man.”  Though Springfield, a notorious perfectionist, re-cut her vocals in New York City, she likely wouldn’t have been able to dig so deeply without having soaked up the atmosphere at American while the tracks were recorded.

Studio owner Chips Moman produced one-third of the tracks on Memphis Boys, including Merilee Rush’s smash “Angel of the Morning.”  It’s probably the song most associated with American alongside The Box Tops’ “The Letter,” produced by Dan Penn and also featured here.  Moman too was in charge of The Gentrys’ “Keep on Dancing,” the studio’s first major hit and a ridiculously catchy song that was as simple as some of American’s later masterpieces were sophisticated.  Another Moman monument is Joe Simon’s dark “Nine Pound Steel.”  The slow-burning tale of a prisoner, written by Penn (“Dark End of the Street”) and Wayne Carson Thompson (“The Letter”), is a far cry from Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang.”  The Memphis boys were equally adept at brassy funk (Arthur Conley’s “Funky Street”), sweet pop (Sandy Posey’s “Born a Woman”) and just about every style in between.  Other than the obvious top-notch musicianship, the common thread here is the sheer humanity in each of the tracks, or shall we just call it soul?

There’s plenty more soul after the jump, friends! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 19, 2012 at 11:02

Hooked on a Feeling: Real Gone Readies Complete B.J. Thomas, Frankie Avalon, The Tubes, a “Rock Messiah” and More

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Raindrops might be falling on your head, but there’s one thing I know: the March slate of releases from Real Gone Music will assuredly keep those blues at bay!  Featuring both returning favorites from the old Collectors’ Choice label as well as artists and recordings new to the Real Gone family, there’s something for everyone!  Joining B.J. Thomas’ The Complete Scepter Singles on March 27 will be Frankie Avalon’s Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions, The Tubes’ Young & Rich/Now, Rick Springfield’s Beginnings . . ., David Axelrod’s Messiah, Wishbone Ash’s Live Dates II and Clint Eastwood’s Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites.

Billy Joe Thomas was born in Oklahoma in 1942, but his family moved to Texas when he was just a couple weeks of age.  And it was in Texas where the young musician made a name for himself first as a member of The Triumphs and then under the tutelage of Huey P. Meaux.  The Meaux empire included such future stars as Ronnie Milsap, Doug Sahm, Johnny Winter, Barbara Lynn and Freddy Fender, and an A&R man by the name of Steve Tyrell.  When B.J. Thomas’ 1964 single of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” on the small Pacemaker label began to attract national attention, Meaux turned the single over to Florence Greenberg’s Scepter Records.  Thomas and Scepter began a long and fruitful association and as of 1967, all of Thomas’ records began appearing exclusively on Scepter.  Steve Tyrell, too, would join Scepter and participate in the success of the label’s premier recordings by Dionne Warwick and the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who, in turn, would give B.J. Thomas his No. 1 pop breakthrough with 1969’s Academy Award-winning “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”  Various compilations of Thomas’ Scepter catalogue have proliferated, most notably Ace’s 2003 The Scepter Hits and More.  Gordon Anderson’s Collectors’ Choice label brought a number of Thomas’ Scepter LPs to CD for the very first time, and now Real Gone’s 44-track anthology The Complete Scepter Singles is the first to offer A- and B-sides of every one of Thomas’ Scepter singles, including his 19 hits. Many of the B-sides never appeared on an album, and these rare tracks are making their long overdue CD debuts. DJ/journalist Mike Ragogna penned the notes, which feature quotes from Thomas.

Predating Thomas’ career by a few years is that of Frankie Avalon, beach party king.  The recordings made by Avalon for the Chancellor label have been compiled numerous times in the past, but his United Artists recordings have languished in virtual obscurity.  That’s about to change with the release of Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions.  Offering 20 stereo tracks recorded in 1964 and 1965, the new compact disc offers the entire album Muscle Beach Party and Other Movie Songs, a tie-in to director William Asher’s 1964 film starring Frankie and Annette Funicello, for which The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson composed songs with Roger Christian and Gary Usher.  (Annette released a competing Muscle Beach Party album on the Disneyland label!)  Avalon also tackles songs from other famous films, including Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses.”  Appended to the original LP are rare singles plus tracks from the soundtrack of I’ll Take Sweden, a 1965 Bob Hope comedy in which he co-starred. The set features notes by Tom Pickles as well as photographs.

At the same time Frankie Avalon was enjoying his days at the beach, a young actor named Clint Eastwood was starring in the television western Rawhide (1959-1965).  A talented composer himself, Eastwood has always taken his music as seriously as his acting, and in 1963, he recorded the LP   Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites.  Although Collectors’ Choice Music already released the album on CD in 2010, Real Gone is resuscitating it for a first-time return to vinyl for a 180-gram pressing.  That CD is returning to print, too, from Real Gone.  Like the first time around, both sides of Eastwood’s 1962 single “Rowdy” b/w “Cowboy Wedding Song” will be included on the CD version.

Hit the jump for Wishbone Ash, The Tubes, David Axelrod, and track listings with discographical annotation for every title! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 16, 2012 at 13:43