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With You I’m Born Again: SoulMusic Label Revives Motown Duets with Syreeta and Billy Preston, Thelma Houston and Jerry Butler

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Billy Preston and SyreetaWith two of its latest releases, Cherry Red’s SoulMusic Records imprint has revisited three classic Motown duets albums on two CDs.

Longtime collectors of SoulMusic Records’ releases know that the label frequently jumps back and forth with an artist’s catalogue rather than releasing titles in chronological order.  Such is the case with its latest reissue from Syreeta, born Syreeta Wright.  In recent months, SoulMusic has revisited Motown queen Syreeta’s third and fourth solo albums, 1977’s One to One and 1980’s Syreeta.  In between those LPs, however, Syreeta busied herself with duet projects.  Following Rich Love, Poor Love with The Spinners’ G.C. Cameron, Motown paired Syreeta with keyboard great Billy Preston for the soundtrack of the otherwise-undistinguished film Fast Break.  The decision to team Syreeta and Preston paid off when their duet version of David Shire and Carol Connors’ “With You I’m Born Again” went all the way to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979.  Though Preston appeared on a couple of tracks on Syreeta and a duet single was released of Preston’s “It Will Come in Time,” a full duets album was inevitable.  That LP, 1981’s functionally-titled Billy Preston and Syreeta, has just arrived from SoulMusic, expanded with seven additional cuts.

Billy Preston and Syreeta, like Syreeta, was the work of multiple producers.  Ollie E. Brown, Michael Masser, and the “Born Again” team of Shire and Connors all contributed to the album’s production.  Masser co-wrote all four of his tracks, two with Randy Goodrum and two with Gerry Goffin.  (The album’s closing song “What We Did for Love” is not a duet cover of the Marvin Hamlisch/Ed Kleban composition from A Chorus Line but rather a Masser/Goodrum original.)  Brown penned the album’s opening cuts “Someone Special” and “Searchin’,” and Connors and Shire reunited for the jazzy and playful “It’s So Easy.”  Despite the strong pedigree, Billy Preston and Syreeta was lost in the shuffle of Motown’s distribution shake-up, and the album might have been released too late to capitalize on the success of “Born Again.”  SoulMusic makes a case for the album’s artistic merits, however, and adds seven bonus tracks including four singles from Fast Break (the vocal and instrumental versions of “Born Again,” and 7- and 12-inch singles of Shire and Connors’ disco theme “Go for It”), the interim single release “It Will Come in Time,” and the single versions of Preston’s two duets on Syreeta, “One More Time for Love” and “Please Stay.”  The former was written by Jerry Peters, who produced some of Syreeta, and the latter was another Connors/Shire creation.  SoulMusic’s reissue has been remastered by Alan Wilson, and includes liner notes from Sharon Davis drawing on a new interview with Carol Connors.

After the jump: we’ll take a peek at a two-for-one set from Thelma Houston and Jerry Butler, plus we have full track listings and order links for both releases! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 13, 2013 at 09:51

Release Round-Up: Week of September 30/October 1

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Most titles this week are already out in the States, on account of Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 hitting stores on Monday. So without further ado…

Rush_TheStudioAlbums_ProductShotRush, The Studio Albums 1989-2007 Vapor Trails Remixed (Atlantic/Rhino)

All of the Canadian rock gods’ albums for Atlantic in one box, with 2002’s Vapor Trails newly remixed (and available separately).

The Studio AlbumsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Vapor Trails Remixed: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Phantom TrainThe Bongos, Phantom Train / Richard Barone, Cool Blue Halo: 25th Anniversary Edition Cool Blue Halo: 25th Anniversary Concert (Jem Recordings)

The Hoboken power-pop group releases a lost classic – an album recorded with Eric “E.T.” Thorngren in 1986 – and frontman Richard Barone reissues his deluxe packages of 1987 solo debut Cool Blue Halo (and a 2012 2CD/1DVD concert in tribute of that album) through the recently reactivated Jem Recordings, which once distributed The Bongos’ earliest works. (Coming later this week: an interview with Richard Barone on Phantom Train and more!)

Phantom Train: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Cool Blue HaloAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Cool Blue Halo 25th Anniversary Concert: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Real Gone September 30 GroupPatti Page, The Complete Columbia Singles 1962-1970 From Nashville to L.A. – Lost Columbia Masters 1963-1969 / Perry Como, Just Out of Reach – Rarities from Nashville Produced by Chet Atkins / The Lords of the New ChurchThe Lords of the New Church / Is Nothing Sacred? The Method to Our Madness / Billy Preston16-Yr. Old Soul / The Grateful DeadDick’s Picks Vol. 21 – Richmond, Virginia 11/1/85

The latest Real Gone batch includes hits and rarities from Patti Page, long out-of-print albums by punk group The Lords of the New Church and more!

Andrew GoldAndrew Gold, Andrew Gold/What’s Wrong with This Picture?/All This and Heaven Too/Whirlwind…Plus (Edsel)

Edsel thanks you for being a friend by packing up, in one set, all of Andrew Gold’s pop albums for Asylum and all of the bonus tracks on previous Collector’s Choice reissues. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Patrice Rushen Edsel 1Patrice Rushen, Patrice/Pizzazz/Posh Straight from the Heart/Now (Edsel)

Speaking of Edsel sets collecting an artist’s discography, “Forget Me Nots” hitmaker Patrice Rushen has two sets out featuring all of her albums for Elektra plus rare 12″ remixes.

Patrice/Pizzazz/Posh: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Straight from the Heart/Now: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Old 97's & Waylon JenningsOld 97’s, Old 97’s & Waylon Jennings (Omnivore)

An astounding four-track EP (previously a Record Store Day exclusive) featuring collaborative demos between the Dallas alt-country group and one of the genre’s finest outlaws. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

John Martyn box frontJohn Martyn, The Island Years (Universal U.K.)

The U.K. folk star’s entire discography for Island is expanded and collected in a mega 17CD/1DVD swag-filled box. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Gladys Knight - ImaginationGladys Knight & The Pips, Imagination: Expanded Edition Life: Deluxe Edition (Funkytowngrooves)

The first of several expanded Buddah/Columbia-era albums from FTG; Imagination has immortal hit “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

Imagination: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Life: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Rush Hemispheres SACDHybrid SACDs from Audio Fidelity: America, America / Sarah McLachlan, Touch / Poco, Pickin’ Up the Pieces / Rush, Hemispheres

From Perry to Post-Punk: Real Gone Unearths Lords of the New Church, Perry Como, Patti Page, Grateful Dead, Billy Preston Rarities

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Real Gone September 30 Group

Just a bit more than a week after the arrival of autumn, Real Gone music will deliver a slate of releases that might put you in an appropriately reflective mood.  On September 30, two late vocal legends, Patti Page and Perry Como, get the Real Gone treatment complete with numerous previously unissued performances.  A bona fide rock and R&B legend, Billy Preston, sees an early classic reissued alongside another concert rescued from the Grateful Dead’s vault.  And the batch is rounded out by not one, not two, but three albums from The Lords of the New Church – the post-punk group featuring members of The Dead Boys, The Damned, The Barracudas and Sham 69.

Without a doubt, it’s going to be a Real Gone fall.  Hit the jump for the full details including the label’s press release, pre-order links and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 16, 2013 at 09:41

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, It’s Yours: SoulMusic Reissues Motown Gem “Syreeta”

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Syreeta 1980Though Syreeta Wright never received the same level of acclaim as many of her Motown contemporaries, her stamp on the company is indelible.  The late artist (1946-2004) wasn’t just a distinctive vocalist, but also a songwriter with credits like The Spinners’ “It’s a Shame” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” and “If You Really Love Me.”  SoulMusic Records has just followed up its recent reissue of Syreeta’s 1977 One on One with her very next Motown solo album, 1980’s Syreeta.  In between, however, Syreeta recorded two duet projects, one of which proved to be crucial.  First came Rich Love, Poor Love, an album with G.C. Cameron of The Spinners.  Then was the big one: “With You I’m Born Again,” a single with the great Billy Preston.  The mainstream success that had long eluded Syreeta had finally arrived.  The David Shire/Carol Connors movie tune (from the soundtrack of Fast Break) went all the way to the Top 5 on the U.S. and U.K. Pop charts.  Building on the success of that late 1979 single, Motown gave its star the go-ahead for another solo LP; perhaps indicative of her new beginning, it was another self-titled album.

Production duties were primarily split between Jerry Peters (writer of The Friends of Distinction’s “Going in Circles”) and Richard Perry (Ringo Starr, Barbra Streisand, The Pointer Sisters).  Peters took the reins of three songs and Perry handled four; of the remaining tracks, Motown mainstay Hal Davis produced two, and composer David Shire co-produced one with Billy Preston.  The result, however musically diverse, was aimed squarely at the pop marketplace.

There’s more after the jump, including the track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 31, 2013 at 10:08

“Get Back” To The Beatles With Ace’s “Black America Sings Lennon and McCartney”

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“Yesterday” is considered the most-covered popular song of all time, but might The Beatles also be the most-covered band of the rock era?  I’ll leave that one to the Guinness folks, but needless to say, there are thousands of cover versions of songs introduced by The Fab Four, most of which were written under the “Lennon and McCartney” umbrella.  On June 7, Ace will release a follow-up to its acclaimed 2010 collection How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan, turning the spotlight onto the much-covered catalogue of the boys from Liverpool.

Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon and McCartney brings together 24 such examples.  While this may be considered a soul compilation in the broadest sense, the songs encompass a wide variety of genres: blues, gospel, pop and funk among them.  The artists selected are a virtual “Who’s Who” of popular music: Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Little Richard, “Fifth Beatle” Billy Preston, and lesser-known but no less respected artists like Maxine Brown, Mary Wells, The Chairmen of the Board and The Main Ingredient.

As is expected from Ace, there are many rare treats awaiting discovery.  Mary Wells makes a post-Motown appearance with “Please Please Me” while Scepter/Wand goddess Maxine Brown implores, “We Can Work It Out.”  Chubby Checker takes on The White Album with a 1969 recording of “Back in the USSR” on the Buddah label, and the sweet soul harmonies of The Moments enliven “Rocky Raccoon” from that same seminal Beatles set.  “Paperback Writer” shows that there was more to R.B. Greaves than “Take a Letter, Maria,” while the Chairmen of the Board appear with the title track, “Come Together.”

Come Together features versions of The Beatles’ first major U.S. hit (“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” courtesy Al Green) and their last (“The Long and Winding Road,” via The New Birth).  More than one half of the tracks are from the period between 1965 and 1969; the earliest cut is Wells’ “Please Please Me” (1964) and the latest is “The Long and Winding Road” (1976).  (The B-side of Wells’ single was actually the “My Guy” girl’s take on “I Should Have Known Better.”)  Ace’s tribute is only appropriate as The Beatles openly admitted their great debt to the music of Black America.

Hit the jump for the complete track listing plus discographical annotation for each track.  Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon and McCartney is due in the U.K. on June 7 and in the U.S. shortly thereafter. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 26, 2011 at 13:44

Release Round-Up: Week of March 15

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Queen, Queen / Queen II / Sheer Heart Attack / A Night at the Opera / A Day at the Races: Deluxe Editions (Island/UMe)

Deluxe editions of the band’s first five albums are out in the U.K., all remastered with bonus discs of rare or unreleased content. (They’ll be out in the U.S. in May!) (Official site)

Nick Lowe, Labour of Lust (Proper (U.K.)/Yep Roc (U.S.))

Lowe’s New Wave classic, featuring the immortal “Cruel to Be Kind,” is reissued on both sides of the Atlantic, featuring all the tracks heard on original U.K. and U.S. pressings and a non-LP B-side. (Yep Roc)

Rick Springfield, Eartha Kitt, Django Reinhardt, Steve Vai, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, Paul Revere and The Raiders and Ricky Skaggs, The Essential(RCA/Columbia/Epic/Legacy)

New two-disc compilations for each of the above artist, each featuring their share of hits and deeper cuts. (We’ve posted the track lists for The 5th Dimension and Paul Revere and The Raiders and will post the remaining track lists later today.) (Amazon)

Peabo Bryson, Reaching for the Sky / Crosswinds: Expanded Edition / Billy Preston, Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music / Jennifer Holliday, I’m on Your Side (Soul Music/Cherry Red)

Remastered editions of four soul classics (the Peabo set is expanded with some U.S. single edits) coming out in the U.K. today. (Soul Music: Peabo, Preston, Holliday)

The Collage, The Collage: Expanded Edition (Now Sounds)

A lost psych-pop classic with some impressive people involved in its recording and production gets a deluxe release on the Now Sounds label in the U.S., having been out for two weeks in England. (Now Sounds)

Inner City: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Masterworks Broadway/Arkiv)

The out-of-print soundtrack to the Tony-winning musical is out through Arkiv as a made-to-order CD-R. (Masterworks)

Various Artists, American Idol 10th Anniversary: The Hits (19/RCA)

Notable tracks from various winners and finalists of American Idol in America. (Official site)

Written by Mike Duquette

March 15, 2011 at 08:51

Cherry Red Reissues A-Plenty in March

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As if the impressive release schedule from Big Break Records wasn’t enough to excite catalogue fans, next month will see another impressive wave of reissues from other labels in the Cherry Red family. 7Ts, Cherry Pop and Soul Music are all planning some impressive remastered and expanded discs which will bring some pop, rock and R&B acts from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s back into print.

From 7Ts comes expansions of the first two LPs by singer/actress Suzi Quatro. While these two glam-rock LPs attracted little attention in the U.S., they were both considerably successful in Europe. (Quatro’s Stateside success began with a guest role as Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days and culminated in the Top 5 hit “Stumblin’ In” in 1979.) These reissues of Suzi Quatro (1973) and Quatro (1974) are augmented with non-LP singles and B-sides, which along with the albums themselves were largely written and produced by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn (who wrote another big hit around the same time, Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz,” and would write or co-write plenty of hits in the ’80s for Pat Benatar, Huey Lewis and The News and Tina Turner).

Cherry Pop has prepped reissues of both the first and last albums by the classic line-up of A Flock of Seagulls. The quintessential ’80s band, known for both the worldwide (except for the band’s native U.K.) hit “I Ran” and lead singer/keyboardist Mike Score’s distinctive haircut, will see expanded versions of the band’s self-titled 1982 debut and 1986’s Dream Come True, all augmented with bonus B-sides and remixes. (The band released one last album in 1995, The Light at the End of the World, but Mike Score was the only original member involved.)

Finally, the Soul Music label has four albums coming back into print. Peabo Bryson’s first two albums for Capitol (his second and third overall), Reaching for the Sky (1977) and Crosswinds (1978), will be released together as a two-disc set with three U.S. single edits as bonus tracks. The label will also issue straight remasters of Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music, the 1973 LP by Billy Preston, and I’m on Your Side (1991), the most recent pop album by Jennifer Holliday, famed for her Tony-winning turn in Dreamgirls and the hit “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

The Soul Music titles have a U.K. release date of March 14, while the rest hit U.K. shops a week later. Full track lists and order links are after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 24, 2011 at 13:16

Billy Preston’s Debut to Get Digital Reissue

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Interest in Billy Preston has piqued in recent years thanks to reissues of his work with The Beatles (“Get Back,” of course one of the last great hits on The Fab Four’s recent, Grammy-winning remasters) and beyond (two albums for The Beatles’ Apple Records, reissued last year). Now, ABKCO goes a bit deeper into the vaults to release, for the first time in years, Preston’s first album.

16 Year Old Soul, released in 1963 on Sam Cooke’s SAR/Derby label, captured Preston at the very beginning. He had impressed Cooke with his session work on Nightbeat earlier that year, and so was rushed into the studio to cut his own LP months later. It was the first stepping stone to a career that included rubbing elbows with Leon Russell and Delaney Bramlett on the television show Shindig!, becoming the only artist to be credited next to The Beatles on a single and many more great R&B moments that live on even as Preston is no longer with us (having passed away in 2006 at the too-young age of 59).

The release, which will be available to all digital retailers on February 22, includes all of the original tracks from 16 Year Old Soul plus two bonus rarities. Read the press release and track listing after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 14, 2011 at 15:54

Review: The Apple Records Remasters, Part 4 – Harrison’s Soulful Trio

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In the penultimate installment of our weeklong series on the new Apple Records remasters, we listen to the label’s three most soulful singers: Jackie Lomax, Doris Troy and Billy Preston, and along the way, encounter George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and a number of their most famous friends!

In yesterday’s installment, we looked at the less commercial side of Apple Records. Today, we turn the spotlight on four records that positively smoke, by three soulful troubadours.
The funky “Speak to Me” opens Jackie Lomax’s Is This What You Want? (SAPCOR 6), and introduced the big-voiced, muscular-voiced blue-eyed soul singer (with emphasis on the soul!) to the Apple roster in 1969. In the liner notes to the 2010 remaster, Lomax talks of the Motown influence on this song, but that’s evident listening. It’s just as obvious what drew The Beatles to Lomax, as they shared similar musical roots. With many artists, there would be a danger titling an album with such a question, but it’s easy to predict that most listeners now and then would answer a resounding “yes!”

Lomax tips the hat back to his patrons on “Is This What You Want?”, where the verses recall “I Am the Walrus,” with gospel backing vocals and string orchestration by John Barham. I thought perhaps it was just me that heard “Walrus” in this song until reading the liner notes where Lomax acknowledges it but defends the song’s pure R&B chorus. Lennon had actually encouraged Lomax to go solo, familiar with his work as the lead singer in The Lomax Alliance, a group managed by Brian Epstein. Although John is absent from the album, which was recorded during sessions for The Beatles and produced largely by George, both Ringo and Paul appear as guests. They joined pals Nicky Hopkins, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann in supporting Lomax.

As talented a songwriter as a singer, the entire album is comprised of Lomax originals save one, a song gifted by George Harrison, “Sour Milk Sea.” Written by Harrison in India, it fit Lomax’s big voice like a glove. Clapton plays on this track as well as on “You’ve Got Me Thinking,” enhanced by female backing vocals and brassy, bleating horns. Is This What You Want? is unique in the Apple discography in that it also contains contributions by the famed Wrecking Crew’s Hal Blaine, Joe Osborn and Larry Knechtel recorded during Lomax’s time at the Los Angeles Sound Recorders studio quite a way from Abbey Road!

Besides the Motown-esque title song, “Sunset” stands out for an unusual piano jazz interlude, while “Fall Inside Your Eyes” shows Lomax’s equal facility for a ballad as well as a barnstormer. And though Harrison’s instrumental presence is felt throughout, the low-key delivery on “Baby You’re a Lover” recalls his vocal influence, too, and is an album highlight.

Of the 2010 reissue’s generous six bonus tracks, “New Day” is the Mal Evans-produced U.K. mono single mix. “How the Web Was Woven” b/w “Thumbin’ a Ride” was his last Apple single (Apple 23) from 1970; Harrison produced Side A (a Clive Westlake/David Most song), while McCartney took the production reins for Side B’s Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller cover. The remaining three tracks are all previously unreleased originals. “You’ve Got to Be Strong” and “Can You Hear Me” were both co-written with Doris Troy (she covered “You’ve Got to Be Strong” on her Apple LP), and “You Make It with Me” is another Lomax original.

“Won’t You Come Back,” from 1991’s CD SAPCOR 6, is orphaned, while that disc’s “Going Back to Liverpool” and the stereo mix of “New Day” recur on the box set’s bonus discs along with first-time-on-CD mono mixes of “Sour Milk Sea,” “The Eagle Laughs at You” and “Little Yellow Pills.” Hit the jump for the scoop on Doris Troy and Billy Preston’s work for Apple! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 18, 2010 at 10:16

Release Round-Up: Week of October 26

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And now, here it is: the catalogue titles coming to your local stores this week.

Various Artists including James Taylor, Billy Preston and Badfinger, The Apple Records remasters (Apple/EMI)

This year’s Beatles remasters are remasters of albums on The Beatles’ short-lived Apple label. There’s a lot of great, varied stuff to be hand across many genres. There’s 14 individual remasters plus a new compilation with some other hard-to-find tunes (Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records), not to mention an indie sampler (10 Green Apples) and a 17-disc box set compiling all those discs alongside two more CDs of extra tracks only otherwise available through digital providers (those digital bonus cuts – as of this writing, which was penned several hours before it was posted – seem to have not been made available through online retailers). (Official site)

Miles Davis, The Genius of Miles Davis (Columbia/Legacy)

Did you miss all the out-of-print Miles Davis session box sets? Do you have $750 to spare? Do you like box sets packed with extra swag inside a trumpet case? Then this is the best day of your life. The Genius of Miles Davis is 43 discs of the trumpet legend, packed in 21 pounds of material possession. (Sony Music Digital)

The Monkees, Head: Deluxe Edition (Rhino Handmade)

The Pre-Fab Four’s most bizarre project is extensively expanded to three discs of psychedelia, live cuts, outtakes, alternate mixes and vintage interviews with Davy Jones. If you’ve a Monkees fan in your inner circle, this is the holiday gift they’ll thank you for. (Rhino)

Crowded House, The Very Very Best Of Crowded House (EMI/Capitol)

A new best-of from the Aussie pop masters takes the best of their career save this year’s excellent Intriguer. A digital edition features an expanded track list and a live B-side. (Amazon, iTunes)

There’s more after the jump, of course.

Read the rest of this entry »