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Release Round-Up: Week of September 30

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ABBA Wembley

ABBA, Live at Wembley Arena (Polar/Universal) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

As part of ABBA’s 40th anniversary celebration, the band unveils this 2-CD, hardcover book-style set preserving its 1979 concerts at Wembley Arena.  The 25-track set features the first-ever release on record of Agnetha’s “I’m Still Alive” along with perennials like “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and “Fernando.”  Live at Wembley is also available on vinyl.

Oasis Morning Glory deluxe

Oasis, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (Big Brother)

CD: Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.
3CD: Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.
Box Set: Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.

Britpop’s favorite battling brothers have their seminal 1995 record remastered and reissued in various editions including vinyl, a single-disc edition, a 3-CD set with 28 bonus tracks and a super deluxe CD/LP edition loaded with swag!

Genesis - R-Kive

Genesis, R-Kive (Universal/Rhino)  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Here’s the  3-CD set bringing together selections from 4o+-years of Genesis and its individual members – Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett.

Robin Gibb - 50 St Catherine's Drive

Robin Gibb, 50 St. Catherine’s Drive (Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The final solo recordings of the late, great Robin Gibb are collected on this new 17-track collection, including a new version of his Bee Gees favorite “I Am the World.”

Real Gone September 30

Stories: Stories Untold — The Very Best of Stories (Amazon U.S.  / Amazon U.K. ) / Barbara Lynn: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. ) / Ronnie Dyson: Phase 2/Brand New Day (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. ) / Faith Hope & Charity: Life Goes On (Expanded Edition) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. ) / Kerry Chater: Part Time Love (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. ) / Kerry Chater: Love on a Shoestring (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. ) / Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol. 15 — Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ 9/3/77 (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

Real Gone Music has a whole batch of rare titles coming to CD – click on the cover collage above for full details!


Paul Parrish, The Forest of My Mind (Now Sounds) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Now Sounds excavates a lost psych-pop classic from Detroit, circa 1968, produced by Motown’s Clay McMurray!  This remastered edition features the original album and bonus singles, all in typically lavish Now Sounds fashion!  Watch for a full review coming soon.

Ray Charles - Genius 10th

Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Concord) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The eight-time Grammy-winning album from the late Ray Charles (featuring duets with Elton John, Diana Krall, James Taylor, Van Morrison, Johnny Mathis and others) is expanded with two bonus tracks on CD – “Mary Ann” with Poncho Sanchez and “Unchain My Heart” with Take 6 – plus a DVD of the hourlong “Making of Genius Loves Company.”

Gap Band V

Gap Band, IV and V: Jammin’ / Yarbrough and Peoples, Heartbeats: Expanded Editions (Big Break)

BBR continues the story of the Gap Band and Yarbrough and Peoples with three more deluxe, expanded and remastered editions!  Look for our full rundown coming soon!

Gap Band, IV: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Gap Band, V: Jammin’: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Yarbrough and Peoples, Heartbeats: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Motown 25

Motown 25 various editions (StarVista)

6-DVD Set: StarVista

3-DVD Set: Amazon U.S.

3-DVD Set with exclusive bonus content: Best Buy

The classic 1983 television special that reunited The Supremes and introduced the world to Michael Jackson’s moonwalk finally appears on DVD in a variety of formats including an online-exclusive 6-DVD box set available only from StarVista and a 3-DVD set with bonus disc available only at Best Buy.  (A 6-DVD/8-DVD set is also listed at StarVista as “backordered,” but no details are available at the website.)

Monty Python CD box

Monty Python’s Total Rubbish: The Complete Collection (Virgin)

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The Monty Python troupers have a new 9-CD set boxing up all of the band’s original U.K. albums from 1970 to 1983!

Engelbert Calling

Engelbert Humperdinck, Engelbert Calling (Megaforce) (Amazon U.S.  – new U.S. edition / Amazon U.K. – original U.K. edition)

Tom Jones reportedly rejected the invitation, but Engelbert Humperdinck snagged duets with Elton John, Dionne Warwick, Neil Sedaka, Lulu, Olivia Newton-John, Willie Nelson and others on his new album, receiving its belated U.S. bow this week.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Original Cast Recording, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Stage Door) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Stage Door Records premieres the first complete recording of the 1999 West End musical Tess of the D’Urbervilles with music by Stephen Edwards and lyrics by Justin Fleming.  This release brings together tracks from the 1999 original London production alongside the previously unreleased 1998 studio cast recording, and includes performances by Philippa Healey, Alasdair Harvey, Jonathan Monks, Cathy Sara, Martin Crewes, Mark Umbers, Heather Craney, Eliza Lumley and an ensemble of forty singers.

Prince - Art Official Age


ART OFFICIAL AGE: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.


Prince has not one, but two, new albums due this week – as always, the favorite son of Minneapolis is doing things his way!

Herb Alpert - In the Mood

Herb Alpert, In the Mood (Shout! Factory) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. TBD)

The great trumpeter follows up his acclaimed 2013 Steppin’ Out and returns with a new set of various standards including “Begin the Beguine,” “Let It Be Me,” “Blue Moon,” “Spanish Harlem” and “All I Have to Do is Dream” – and even better, the Amazon-exclusive edition features two additional tracks!


The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts – Complete Collection (StarVista) (Amazon U.S. )

This staggering 25-DVD collection features ALL 54 Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, pally, with such legendary showbiz icons as Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Jack Klugman, Tony Randall, Jack Benny, George Burns, Sammy Davis, Jr., Betty White and more – plus over 15 hours of bonus material:  11 newly-produced featurette interviews with former participants and fans: Don Rickles, Betty White, Jackie Mason, Phyllis Diller, Tim Conway, Rich Little, Norm Crosby, Carol Burnett and many others; 4 classic TV Specials including Dean’s Place and Red Hot Scandals of 1926, featuring Dean and friends including Jonathan Winters, Dom DeLuise, Robert Mitchum and more; rare, exclusive home movies from Dean’s private collection; bonus comedy sketches; 2 Dean Martin Variety Show DVDs featuring Bob Hope, John Wayne, Peggy Lee, Rodney Dangerfield and many others.  A 44-page book rounds out this package which is arriving now to general retail after a period of online exclusivity.

How Deep Is Our Love: Robin Gibb’s Final Album Set For September Release

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Robin Gibb - 50 St Catherine's DriveEarlier this year, Barry Gibb took to the road with his Mythology Tour, in which he looked back on the music of The Bee Gees and his decades-long collaboration with his late brothers Maurice and Robin. Barry’s warm onstage tributes to Robin, who died of cancer in May 2012, were among the emotional high points of each concert, with Barry candidly and affectingly acknowledging the friction that sometimes characterized their relationship. Barry’s son Stephen paid homage to his uncle with his lead vocal on “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” and Maurice’s daughter Samantha performed the tender “Run to Me.” Barry, finally, ceded “I Started a Joke” to Robin himself, appearing via video. It was clear that Robin Gibb’s passing is still keenly felt by those in his family as well as by all of the fans whom his voice touched over the years. On September 30, Rhino/Reprise will afford those fans one more chance to hear Robin Gibb with the release of 50 St. Catherine’s Drive, a collection of 17 songs recorded by the late vocalist between 2006 and 2011.

50 St. Catherine’s Drive is so named for Gibb’s birthplace on the Isle of Man. It’s likely an apt title as the recording sessions found Gibb in a reflective mood; he even revisited one key track from the Bee Gees’ past. Rolling Stone, the first to break the news on the album, is offering an exclusive preview of the album’s re-recording of “I Am the World,” a B-side to the group’s Australian hit “Spicks and Specks.” The other sixteen songs are said to be original compositions by Robin, some co-written with his son RJ; most were intended by Robin for the St. Catherine’s LP but some are demos dating as late as 2011.

Hit the jump for more details! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 30, 2014 at 16:50

Posted in Bee Gees, News, Robin Gibb

Review: Bee Gees, “The Warner Bros. Years: 1987-1991”

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Bee Gees - Warner Bros. YearsTonight, Barry Gibb’s Mythology tour continues making its way through the United States, as the surviving member of The Bee Gees celebrates his family’s legacy in song. From humble beginnings in Australia (1965’s The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs) through international stardom and a final studio farewell (2001’s This is Where I Came In), Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb mastered an ever-shifting array of styles. Baroque, lightly psychedelic pop/rock ceded to tough funk-infused R&B, which informed the brothers’ infectious brand of mainstream disco. When the eighties came around, the Gibbs kept their pulse on current radio, taking a break from the band but churning out hits for Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton like a mini-Brill Building. The Bee Gees finally followed up 1981’s Living Eyes with another full studio album in 1987, their first for Warner Bros. Records. That release, E.S.P., showcased a synth-pop style that would inform all three of the LPs made at Warners between 1987 and 1991. Over the years, those three albums have been lost in the shuffle, taking a backseat to the group’s first hitmaking records, and of course, the disco years. But they’ve returned, bolstered by a never-before-released live recording, in Rhino’s new 5-CD box set The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991.

E.S.P. fused the Bee Gees’ traditional melodic sensibility with thick, metallic production, drum machine beats and electronic instrumentation, and the stomping, majestic “You Win Again” proved that the group’s harmonies could flourish in such a setting. Every song on E.S.P. bore a shared songwriting credit for Barry, Maurice and Robin – the same would go for both of its Warner Bros. follow-ups included here. Lyrically, the album returns time and again to themes and imagery of resilience, togetherness and camaraderie in the face of darkness and adversity, altogether appropriate for the band’s first album in years. To helm E.S.P., Barry, Robin and Maurice turned to producer Arif Mardin, who had guided them to an artistic rebirth years earlier with Mr. Natural and Main Course, and assembled a band of rotating musicians including Robbie Kondor, Will Lee, Marcus Miller, Greg Phillinganes, and Brian Tench.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Barry Gibb dominates the album with eight solo or shared lead vocals, followed by Robin on four tracks and Maurice on two. Barry and Robin share the lead on the driving, catchy title track; Barry and Maurice share “Live or Die (Hold Me Like a Child)” on which Barry’s falsetto soars à la “Too Much Heaven.”   The busy, contemporary production distracts from the sheer beauty of the dreamy Barry Gibb ballad “Angela,” but “Crazy for Your Love” succeeds with its bright, Motown-goes-eighties feel. Barry also has a couple of the least successful tracks on the album with “Backtafunk” and the frenetic “This is Your Life.” The latter takes in a rap section referring to ten-plus Bee Gees classics (sample: “Jive talkin’, more rap, less crap/Times are bad, money is tight/Ain’t too much heaven on a Saturday night…”) to strained results. Robin offers a strong lead on the burbling “Giving Up the Ghost,” with Maurice joining on the chorus, and also has the lead on “The Longest Night,” a mid-tempo ballad with an unconventional structure. The Maurice-led “Overnight” has the heaviest sound on the album. The Warner Bros. Years adds five bonus tracks including three alternates of “E.S.P.” – the demo, the single edit and Arif Mardin’s extended mix – plus the extended “You Win Again” and the single edit of “Angela.” E.S.P. asserted the Gibbs’ chart supremacy in Europe, but barely reached the Top 100 in the U.S., and even more shockingly, “You Win Again” – a U.K. No. 1 and Ivor Novello Award-winning song – didn’t get any higher than No. 75 stateside.

Don’t go anywhere!  Join us after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 19, 2014 at 10:13

Posted in Bee Gees, Box Sets, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Release Round-Up: Week of April 15

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Bee Gees - Warner Bros. YearsBee Gees, The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

A new five-disc box collates the Bee Gees’ E.S.P. (1987), One (1989) and High Civilization (1991) – the first two of which have bonus tracks – and 1991’s One for All live concert, released for the first time on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Nas - IllmaticNas, Illmatic XX (Columbia/Legacy)

Queens’ favorite MC celebrates his landmark debut with a newly-expanded edition of the 1994 album with a bonus disc of rare remixes and unreleased tracks.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Donna LorenDonna Loren, These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings (Now Sounds)

Donna Loren is well-known for her appearances on television’s Shindig! and in the famous series of sixties Beach Party films, but Now Sounds’ new collection reveals her talents as a top-tier pop vocalist!  This expansive collection premieres previously unreleased material, and includes productions from David Axelrod and Steve Douglas, and arrangements by Jack Nitzsche, Billy Strange and H.B. Barnum – plus appearances by The Beau Brummels, Glen Campbell and the L.A. Wrecking Crew!  Look for Joe’s review Wednesday! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Black Sabbath boxBlack Sabbath, The Complete Albums 1970-1978 (Rhino)

A simple, compact box of all of Sabbath’s Ozzy-era albums. Perfect one-stop shopping! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Instant Funk Witch DoctorInstant Funk, Witch Doctor: Expanded Edition (Big Break Records)

The band’s second album for Salsoul, which followed up the hit single “I Got My Mind Made Up,” is remastered and expanded with three bonus tracks by BBR. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Lettermen First Four AlbumsThe Lettermen, The First Four Albums and More / Various Artists, Hard-to-Find Jukebox Classics 1963 (Eric)

Eric Records takes it back to the ’60s pop era with a two-disc compilation of albums from The Lettermen (including hit versions of “The Way You Look Tonight” and “When I Fall in Love,” plus 10 bonus tracks) and a set of rare singles and rarer mixes from 1963 (including the stereo debut of The Surfaris’ “Wipe Out”).

The Lettermen: Amazon U.S. (TBD) / Amazon U.K.
Hard to Find Jukebox ClassicsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 15, 2014 at 07:47

Too Much Heaven: Bee Gees’ “Warner Bros. Years” Box Set Premieres Unreleased Tracks, Complete Concert

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Bee Gees - OneFollowing the release of 1981’s Living Eyes, The Bee Gees effectively called it a day.  The band reportedly clashed during the making of the album, and its lack of chart success convinced Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb to pursue non-band projects for a time.  Solo albums and soundtrack recordings arrived, and the Barry Gibb/Karl Richardson/Albhy Galuten team worked its magic on releases by Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers and Diana Ross (featuring numerous songs co-written by all three brothers, of course).  But a new Bee Gees album didn’t arrive until 1987.  When it did, it was the group’s first ever release for Warner Bros. Records.  That “comeback” album, E.S.P., yielded the U.K. chart-topper “You Win Again.”  E.S.P. leads off The Warner Bros. Years, a new 5-CD box set due on April 15 chronicling the band’s three albums for the Warner label…and more!  The Warner Bros. Years includes the entirety of E.S.P. (1987), One (1989) and High Civilization (1991), and adds demos, single edits and remixes, as well as the world premiere of a 2-CD live album, One for All.

“You Win Again” was a worldwide smash virtually everywhere other than in the United States.  The single, which announced a modernized sound for The Bee Gees, went straight to pole position in Great Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Norway, and reached the Top 10 in Italy, the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden. When it reached No. 1 in October 1987 in the U.K., it made The Bee Gees the first group to reach No. 1 in three consecutive decades.   E.S.P. reunited Barry, Robin and Maurice with producer Arif Mardin, the R&B legend who helmed their seventies classics Mr. Natural and Main Course (including the U.S. No. 1 single “Jive Talkin’”).  The album itself went Top 5 in the U.K. and cracked the Top 100 of the Billboard 200 stateside.  The box set’s remastered edition of the album includes five bonus tracks: the demo, single edit and extended version of the title track, plus the single edit of “Angela” and the extended version of “You Win Again.”  (Other remixes of “E.S.P.” from producer Arthur Baker have not made the cut.)

The Bee Gees returned two years later with One (1989). Co-produced by the band and Brian Tench, it was group’s first digital recording.  And it finally rewarded Barry, Robin and Maurice with another U.S. Top 10 hit in its title track.  But the success of One was bittersweet.  While recording the album, brother Andy Gibb died unexpectedly.  Following a break in recording, Andy’s brothers returned to the studio with “Wish You Were Here” and dedicated the album to him. The original U.S. release of One had a different track listing than its international counterpart, switching “Ordinary Lives” and “One” in the running order, and dropping CD bonus track “Wing and a Prayer” in favor of another appearance of “You Win Again” from E.S.P.   (For those who hadn’t yet switched to CD, “Wing and a Prayer” was the vinyl single B-side of “One.”)  The version in the box set restores the original, preferred international sequence, and adds four bonus tracks.  Lead single “One” is included in its edited remix as well as 12-inch Dance and Club Mix versions.  (The dub version is not present.)  The fourth extra is “Shape of Things to Come,” which originally appeared on 1988 Summer Olympics Album: One Moment In Time.

After the jump: more on this new box set including the complete track listing and discography!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 18, 2014 at 14:50

“NOW” and Then: U.K. Compilation Series Celebrates Three Decades in Three Discs

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Now 30 YearsWhen I was heavily ensconced in a retail job, I had the task of stocking new music and movie releases and sharing the new releases with the rest of the store on Tuesday morning. Without fail, every time a NOW That’s What I Call Music! compilation came out, someone would marvel how many such compilations existed, prompting me to tell my co-workers that they should check out the NOW series as it originated in the U.K., back in 1983, where they were double albums and released with slightly more frequency to the point where the 84th volume hit stores in March (as opposed to the single-disc 47th volume that streeted in the U.S. last Tuesday).

Of course, here at The Second Disc, I’m surrounded by record collectors and pop enthusiasts, so this illumination is nothing new. (That’s one of many reasons why I’m a lot happier editing these pages, I’ll tell you that!) But anyway, the point is that NOW That’s What I Call Music is indeed celebrating 30 years – and its doing so with a new, triple-disc compilation of highlights from its lengthy run.

NOW That’s What I Call 30 Years features an interesting, semi-chronological hodgepodge of pop cuts from the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and today, from Michael Jackson to Madonna, Take That to the Spice Girls, Adele to PSY. It’s disappointingly centered on the traditional pop scene on both sides of the Atlantic, thereby ignoring some of the R&B and rock-infused diversity that the NOW series was often known for (Radiohead appeared on at least one volume, for cryin’ out loud). As such, it’s a very, very patchy portrait of pop, passing a good chunk of the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. (Also, a considerably more minor quibble, but what’s up with the 20th Century-Fox meets Pink Floyd cover art?)

But NOW are one of the best – and one of the only – games in town as far as anthologizing pop music for the masses, so NOW That’s What I Call 30 Years might be a set for your collection when it’s released May 27 in England. Hit the jump to check out the full track list and order your copy off Amazon.

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Morning of Their Lives: Bee Gees’ Original Australian Albums Reissued on CD by Festival Label

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Bee Gees - Morning of My LifeThough Bee Gees’ First introduced Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb to the world at large, the album title was actually a misnomer. The Bee Gees’ first album was, in fact, The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs, released in Australia in 1965 on Festival Records’ Leedon label.  Two albums were released in Australia before the Gibbs’ international debut, with a third “odds-and-ends” collection having arrived in late 1967 just months after Bee Gees’ First.  The Bee Gees’ Australian output has been released on CD numerous times over the years.  These editions have ranged from the comprehensive to the downright poor, from labels both legitimate and “gray area.”  Now, for the first time, all three of the Bee Gees’ original Australian albums are being prepped for reissue on remastered CDs from Festival Records, part of Warner Music Australia.  These discs (available individually or as part of a 3-CD box set) and a new Australian-era anthology, at left, will arrive down under from the recently-reactivated Festival imprint on February 1.

1965’s The Bee Gees Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs was the first long-playing album for Barry, Robin and Maurice, but the Brothers Gibb had been signed to Festival Records since early 1963.  The precocious (and precociously talented) youngsters recorded a number of singles as oldest brother Barry carved out a reputation as a professional songwriter.  The Bee Gees also appeared, often uncredited, on numerous recordings from other Festival artists.  (Many of these guest appearances were collected on the Assault the Vaults CD compilation, which fetches quite a bit secondhand if you can find it at all.)   The Sing and Play album was assembled from five new songs and nine previously released Barry-written songs dating back to the group’s second single in 1963 (“Timber!” b/w “Take Hold of That Star”). Of the five new songs, two were promoted via a new single (“I Was a Lover, A Leader of Men” b/w “And the Children Laughing”) while the remaining three were exclusive to the LP.  Every track on this LP is available on the 1998 Festival collection Brilliant from Birth (which is still available secondhand at reasonable prices), but the new reissue is the first time the original sequence has appeared on CD.

In 1966, the Bee Gees had their biggest success with a song that Barry Gibb still performs today: “Spicks and Specks.”  The catchy track made it to No. 3 in Sydney, staying in the Top 40 for 19 weeks, and in other areas of Australia reached pole position.  “Spicks and Specks” b/w “I Am the World” made such an impression that its release led to the group’s signing with Polydor in the U.K.; it became the group’s first single there.  The Bee Gees’ new album, naturally, was titled after the hit song.  Spicks and Specks used most of the tracks intended for an aborted LP entitled Monday’s Rain.  This album was never issued outside Australia, and again, while all of the tracks appear on Brilliant from Birth, the upcoming reissue is its first CD appearance in its original configuration.

There’s plenty more after the jump, including full track listings for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 18, 2013 at 09:58

Posted in Bee Gees, News, Reissues

Back Tracks, In Memoriam: Robin Gibb

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May 20, 2012: We’re deeply saddened to report that Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees passed away this morning in England at 10:47 a.m. (5:47 a.m. ET) at the age of 62.  Gibb’s passing comes following a brave battle with cancer, courageously fought in the public eye.  Robin Gibb will always be remembered for his great gift of song, with his angelic voice having provided comfort to so many of us in our saddest times and pure joy in our most upbeat moments.  Robin, we will miss you. 

In honor of this remarkable man, we offer Back Tracks: In Memoriam, originally published on April 27 as Gibb’s health had taken a turn for the better.    We hope you cue up “First of May,” “Juliet,” “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” “Stayin’ Alive” or “Too Much Heaven” and enjoy this look back at a man whose humanity was as deep as his love.

A lyric from what we believe to be Robin’s final recording, “Don’t Cry Alone” from this year’s Titanic Requiem, comes to mind as a source of comfort:

“I’ll be there for you forever/Don’t you ever cry/I’ll sweep away your tears and sorrow/And I’ll be with you close tomorrow/I’ll be with you/Don’t cry alone.”

Rest in peace, Robin.  Please share your memories of Robin Gibb below.

In the event of something happening to me, there is something I would like you all to see…it’s just a photograph of someone that I knew…

– Barry and Robin Gibb, “New York Mining Disaster 1941”

For many including yours truly, the best news to arrive on Record Store Day this past Saturday, April 21, wasn’t that of a great new vinyl acquisition or found treasure.  Rather, it was the news that Robin Gibb, vocalist, songwriter and Bee Gee, had emerged from a coma.  Gibb’s distinct voice has featured prominently on the Bee Gees’ most memorable hits, including their first song to be issued in the United States, “New York Mining Disaster 1941.”  His soaring vocals could hold their own or add contrast to brother Barry’s falsetto.  The road to Gibb’s recovery is still an uphill one, with the courageous artist facing advanced colorectal cancer and remaining in intensive care.  But Gibb’s physician, Dr. Andrew Thillainayagam, acknowledged that “it is testament to Robin’s extraordinary courage, iron will and deep reserves of physical strength that he has overcome quite incredible odds to get where he is now.”  Music played a central role in Gibb’s recovery, with Barry, wife Dwina, sons Robin-John and Spencer and daughter Melissa all having played music and serenaded Robin at his bedside.  Robin-John told the BBC on April 24, “They gave him an under 10% survival chance and he has beaten the odds… he really is something else,” adding that his father is “completely compos mentis [of sound mind] now.”

As we keep Robin Gibb, 62, in our hearts during this difficult time for him and his family, we’re celebrating the rarely-heard music he created as a solo artist between 1970 and 2012, and hoping that there’s much, much more to come from this singular musician.

Robin’s Reign
(Polydor, 1970)

Despite the beautiful harmony they created as vocalists and songwriters, The Bee Gees couldn’t shake familial tensions as 1968 turned into 1969.  Tension between brothers Barry and Robin grew more intense each day, reaching boiling point when producer Robert Stigwood selected Barry’s “First of May” over Robin’s “Lamplight” as the lead single off the group’s Odessa.  On March 19, 1969, Robin Gibb announced that he would turn his attention to solo recordings.  He began recording almost immediately, but contractual obligations prevented him from doing much in the ensuing months even as Barry and Robin’s twin brother Maurice soldiered on as a duo with the Cucumber Castle television film and album.  As autumn arrived, however, the air was somewhat cleared, and Robin concluded recording the album that became Robin’s Reign by October.  (In an ironic twist of fate, Maurice and Barry would declare The Bee Gees disbanded by year’s end.  Luckily for us, that turned out to be temporary.)

The first London session for Robin’s Reign yielded “Saved by the Bell,” which would become a No. 2 hit single in the U.K., as well as the album’s “Mother and Jack,” and two unreleased tunes, “Alexandria Good Time” and “Janice.”  Kenny Clayton provided orchestral arrangements, and Maurice contributed bass and piano.  Recording didn’t resume until September once Robin was extricated from his contract with Stigwood and signed with NEMS’ Vic Lewis.  In August he had named in the press eleven song titles for an album intended to be called My Own Work (including “Alexandria Good Time”) but none of them were present on Robin’s Reign.  The September and October sessions formed the basis of the eventual album, again employing orchestration (by Clayton and Zack Lawrence) not unlike that of The Bee Gees’ earliest U.K. albums.

The LP was released in February 1970 in the U.K. on Polydor and one month later in the U.S. via Atco.  Robin’s Reign sold so poorly that a second solo album already in progress was never issued, and the album has only appeared on CD in an extremely hard-to-find German pressing.  There’s much to admire here, though, and it’s long overdue for reissue.  In addition to the classic “Saved by the Bell” (which most recalls his work with his brothers), there’s the calypso-flavored “Mother and Jack,” the dark “Most of My Life” and bold “The Worst Girl in This Town.”  Other tracks such as the stately ballad “Down Came the Sun,” though not as distinct, offer strong vocals and sweeping arrangements.  Robin’s Reign is also thought to be one of the first albums to have employed (primitive) drum machines, which gives its sound a unique character.

Of course, The Bee Gees’ vocal blend is what’s missed most on Robin’s Reign, which beefs up the singer’s powerful tenor with multi-tracked vocals that are no substitute for his brothers’ harmonies.  And harmony ultimately won out over dissension.  On August 21, 1970, it was announced that the three Brothers Gibb would reunite.  How sympathetic were the brothers musically?  They reportedly wrote “Lonely Days” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” at their very first reunion session.

After the jump, we’ll meet you quite a few years later…1983, in fact! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 20, 2012 at 20:14

Posted in Bee Gees, Features, Reissues, Robin Gibb

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Andy Gibb’s Greatest Hits Reprised, and Flashback with Iron Butterfly

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Two long out-of-print greatest hits collections are back in print today thanks to the fine folks at Rhino Records.  Iron Butterfly’s Evolution: The Best of Iron Butterfly arrived on the Atco label in 1971 and brought together 11 tracks from the hard rock pioneers’ first four albums.  Andy Gibb’s 1991 Greatest Hits, originally on the Polydor label, differed from the 1980 RSO Records hits compilation, and offered 12 prime pop cuts from the youngest of the Brothers Gibb.

Although Rhino’s Light and Heavy: The Best of Iron Butterfly upped the number of tracks to 21 for the compact disc era, Evolution was the original LP worn out by fans of the “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” rockers.  Its 11 songs are all drawn from Heavy (1968), In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968), Ball (1969) and Metamorphosis (1970).  The calling card of the band, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is heard in its edited single version.  Together with Rhino Handmade’ s lavish 2-CD Fillmore East 1968 (watch for a review coming soon!), the all-killer, no-filler Evolution is a great reminder of one of the first bands to synthesize strains of hard rock, acid rock and psychedelia into a successful whole.  The group’s personnel, alas, wasn’t as consistent as its sound, dogged by line-up changes almost from the start.  Evolution is a fine opportunity, though, to remember guitarist Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt, who died on January 2 at the age of 63.  He can be heard on the tracks culled from Metamorphosis.  Doug Ingle’s organ and vocals tie the disparate tracks together: the garage fury of “Unconscious Power,” the pop of “Flowers and Beads,” the prog rock-anticipating instrumental force of “Iron Butterfly Theme,” the acid psychedelia of “Belda-Beast” and the folk-rock of “Slower than Guns.”  Evolution is a particular bargain courtesy the budget Rhino Flashback line; you’ll likely find it for around five bucks!

Hit the jump for the scoop on the re-release from Andy Gibb, plus order links and track listings for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 10, 2012 at 10:12

Release Round-Up: Week of December 6

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Neil Diamond, The Very Best of Neil Diamond (Columbia/Legacy)

A new single-disc greatest hits compilation that unites classic Columbia stuff with early works for Bang and Universal and the excellent, newer stuff he’s been doing with producer Rick Rubin. The E.T. song, though? Not here.  Watch for Joe’s review later today!

Amy Winehouse, Lioness: Hidden Treasures (Universal Republic)

The late, lamented neo-soul singer memorialized with a posthumous album.

Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s, The Lost Album featuring Watermelon Man (Hip-o Select/Polydor)

James Brown catalogue titles don’t necessarily have to be chock full of James Brown, as this lost album from the early ’70s proves.

Elvis Costello and The Imposters, The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! Super Deluxe Edition (Hip-O/UMe)

Which Elvis Costello box set? Oh yeah, that one.

Doris Day, My Heart (Arwin Productions)

Doris Day’s first album of original material in seventeen years hits stores in the U.S. after notching a chart success in the U.K.!  The American edition contains one previously unreleased bonus track, “Stewball.”

Bee Gees, Main Course (Rhino Flashback)

Barry, Robin and Maurice’s 1975 smash introduced the world to “Jive Talkin’,” “Nights on Broadway,” “Fanny (Be Tender with My Love)” and “Wind of Change.”  Long out-of-print, Main Course makes a budget-priced comeback thanks to our friends at Rhino!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 6, 2011 at 08:50