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California Dreamin’: Carole King, Merry Clayton, The Everly Brothers Featured on “Lou Adler: A Musical History”

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Lou Adler - A Musical HistorySongwriter, manager, A&R man, producer, director, impresario, diehard L.A. Lakers fan – in his eighty years, Lou Adler has worn all of those labels proudly.  It’s hard to believe that the same man behind The Rocky Horror Show – both on stage and on screen – and Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke also helmed one of the most successful records ever in Carole King’s Tapestry, or that the same man penned a bona fide standard in Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World.”  But much of Lou Adler’s extraordinary career has defied belief, and Ace Records has recently summed it up in an exciting new compilation entitled Lou Adler: A Musical History.  Over 25 tracks released between 1958 and 1974, the anthology chronicles a singular showbiz life and also serves as a mini-history of Los Angeles pop-rock.

A Musical History traces the ascent of Chicago-born, L.A.-raised Adler from hustling songwriter to in-demand producer.  With future Tijuana Brass bandleader and A&M Records leader Herb Alpert, the young Adler co-wrote tunes for a diverse crop of artists including Cooke (“All of My Life”), Sam Butera and the Witnesses (“Bim Bam”), Jan and Dean (“Honolulu Lulu”) and Johnny “Guitar” Watson (“Deana Baby”).  Equally adept at rock-and-roll, doo-wop and R&B, the duo also found time to produce not just their own songs for these artists, but outside compositions.  The Adler/Alpert team revived The Spaniels’ “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight” for The Untouchables and gave The Hollywood Argyles a run for their money with a cash-in cover of “Alley-Oop” by Dante and the Evergreens.  These slices of early-sixties pop kick off this set on a high note, but Adler’s first Golden Age really came when he split with Alpert in 1961.

The parting of the ways worked out for both men, with Alpert launching The Tijuana Brass, the hit “The Lonely Bull” and of course, A&M Records, just one year later with new partner Jerry Moss.  As for our man Adler, his association with Don Kirshner led to his opening the West Coast office of Aldon Music, as well as a production credit on tracks like The Everly Brothers’ Top 10 hit “Crying in the Rain.”  Most importantly, though, Adler made connections at Aldon that would come to, in large part, define his career – connections with the likes of Carole King and P.F. Sloan.  The achingly vulnerable “Crying” was co-written by Carole King and Howard Greenfield, moonlighting from their respective partners Gerry Goffin and Neil Sedaka.   In addition to King, Adler also met P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri at Aldon, pairing the two songwriters up and soon snatching them away from Kirshner’s empire to his newly-formed Dunhill Productions.

After the jump: much more on Adler’s illustrious career, including the complete track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 17, 2014 at 09:02

Sweeter Than Wine: “This Magic Moment” Compiles Brill Building Nuggets

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Brill Building CompToday, 1619 Broadway in the heart of New York City’s theatre district doesn’t particularly stand out. Despite the building’s ornate façade, 1619 appears to be just another office building on a busy thoroughfare populated with every kind of attention-grabbing signage.  But this building – along with its neighbor to the north, 1650 Broadway – is as much a part of rock and roll history as Sun Studios or Abbey Road.  1650 is the one and only Brill Building, incubator to some of the finest songs in the American popular canon.  For a fertile period in the 1950s and 1960s, 1619 and 1650 (and to a lesser extent, 1697 Broadway, as well!) were lined with cubicles in which some of the busiest and best songwriters competed with one another to conquer the charts with their frequently youthful compositions.  The U.K.’s Jasmine label, drawing on public domain recordings made through 1962, has assembled a 2-CD, 64-song, non-chronologically sequenced overview of this remarkable period of creativity.  The appropriately-entitled This Magic Moment: The Sound of the Brill Building is available now.

In his liner notes, Groper Odson describes the “First Team” of the Brill Building as era of consisting of seven duos.  Noted next to their names are some of the songs you’ll hear on this new compilation:

  • Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (“Charlie Brown,” “Stand by Me”)
  • Gerry Goffin and Carole King (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “The Locomotion,” “Chains”)
  • Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman (“A Teenager in Love,” “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame”)
  • Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield (“Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen,” “Where the Boys Are”)
  • Burt Bacharach and Hal David (“Only Love Can Break a Heart,” “It’s Love That Really Counts”)
  • Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (“Uptown,” “Bless You”)
  • Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (Greenwich’s “Our Love It Grows,” Barry’s “Teenage Sonata” and “Tell Laura I Love Her”)

And while all of those songwriters are represented on This Magic Moment – named for a Pomus and Shuman tune, of course – so are some names that might be more unfamiliar: Jack Keller, Mark Barkan, Tony Powers, Larry Kolber, Ben Raleigh, Hank Hunter, Bob Hilliard, Bernie Baum, Florence Kaye and Bill Giant among them.  But even if you don’t know those names, chances are you know many of their songs.  This Magic Moment deftly blends those famous songs that have endured over the course of seven decades with some tracks that were cut from the same cloth but didn’t necessarily have the same staying power.

After the jump: a closer look at This Magic Moment including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 3, 2014 at 10:24

Release Round-Up: Week of November 26

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Animals - Mickie Most YearsThe Animals, The Mickie Most Years and More / Tower of Power, Hipper Than Hip: Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow – Live on the Air & in the Studio 1974 / Lisa Fischer, So Intense / The Alabama State Troupers, Road Show / The Obsessed, The Church Within (Real Gone Music)

An Animals box set and a compilation of unreleased Tower of Power greatness head off Real Gone’s slate for the end of the year!

The Animals: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Tower of Power: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lisa Fischer: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Alabama State Troupers: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Obsessed: CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Badfinger - TimelessBadfinger, Timeless: The Musical Legacy (Apple)

A new single-disc compilation devoted to the would-be Beatle heirs, the first to be derived from Apple’s 2010 remasters. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Big Star - PlaylistBig Star, Playlist: The Very Best of Big Star (Legacy) / Nothing Can Hurt Me (Magnolia)

A double dose of Big Star today: a new compilation in Legacy’s Playlist line that marries some of the band’s classic early recordings with latter-day live tracks from their mid-’90s reunion, and a new feature-length documentary on the band.

PlaylistAmazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.
Nothing Can Hurt Me: DVD (Amazon U.S.) BD (Amazon U.S.)

Thelonious Monk Paris 1969Thelonious Monk, Paris 1969 (Blue Note)

An unreleased live set from later in Monk’s career, available in multiple formats (including an equally unseen video!).

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

Screaming Life-FoppSoundgarden, Screaming Life/Fopp (Sub Pop)

An expanded remaster of the Seattle grunge icons’ debut EPs.

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

Barbra - Back to BrooklynBarbra Streisand, Back to Brooklyn (Columbia)

Barbra takes Brooklyn – specifically, the new Barclays Center – by storm in these shows, recorded in October 2012.

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

It's a Scream How LevineVarious Artists, It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba (Idelsohn Society)

Subtitled “The Latin-Jewish Musical Story 1940s-1980s,” this double-disc set (featuring performances by Carole King, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and more) is a fun, occasionally wacky musical archaeology session that’ll keep you amused and informed. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Wicked - DeluxeWicked: Original Broadway Cast Recording 10th Anniversary Special Edition (Verve/UMe)

Defy gravity with this deluxe two-disc version of the Tony-winning musical about the witches of Oz. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

It’s a Scream! “Rhumba” Takes Latin-Jewish Musical Journey with Carole King, Herb Alpert, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, More

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It's a Scream How LevineLast year, The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation regaled listeners with ‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah, an eclectic and offbeat anthology that breathed life into the concept of a holiday-themed compilation.  With its mission “to look at Jewish history and the Jewish experience through recorded sound” firmly in mind, the organization this year has released another two-disc set that lives up to the much-overused word unique.  Whereas last year’s release focused on the relationship in song between Christmas and Hanukkah, the colorfully-titled It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba (RSR 021) explores an even less familiar topic: the shared history of Latin and Jewish music.  The ties between the two cultures run quite deep, as this set shows over the course of its 41 tracks recorded between 1947 and 1983 and arranged in chronological fashion.

Vocal and instrumental performances sit side by side on It’s a Scream, which takes its title from the 1952 novelty by the saucy Ruth Wallis.  It’s one of many such novelties here, but they transcend that label in the context of Idelsohn’s presentation.  The oldest tracks fall into this category, such as Irving Kaufman’s “Moe the Schmo Takes a Rhumba Lesson,” sung in character as Kaufman’s favorite schmo (or schmoe) and transferred from a crackly 78.  Another is The Barry Sisters’ “Channah from Havanna” dating to the mid-fifties.  The punchline of this comic story-song still can bring a smile.  Mickey Katz, Yiddish comedian, klezmer clarinetist and father of Joel Grey, is represented with the lively and goofy “My Yiddishe Mambo” (not “My Yiddishe Mama,” for sure!) in which he uses his arsenal of exaggerated voices and pulls out all of the showbiz stops.

Fans of the big-band sound will find plenty to delight in here, from leaders including Xavier Cugat (“Miami Beach Rhumba,” a rhumba spin on “Autumn Leaves”), Pupi Campo (“Joe and Paul,” a Yiddish radio jingle performed by a Cuban bandleader with an arrangement by Tito Puente!), Al Gomez (“Sheyn Vi Di Levone,” a Yiddish love song in Spanish), Puente himself (“Pan, Amor Y Cha Cha Cha” with Cugat’s wife, singer Abbe Lane) and many more.

There’s also room for salsa, on tracks like “Marvelous Jew” Larry Harlow’s “Yo Soy Latino,” Eddie Palmieri’s 1963 “El Molestoso,” Willie Colon’s “Junio ‘73,” or “Hava Nageela” from salsa queen Celia Cruz.  Cruz’s exciting take, from 1964, isn’t the only spin on the traditional “Hava Nagila” here, either.  The Hebrew folk song went merengue in 1972 by Dominican pianist Damiron, and got a rock-and-roll makeover when it was crossed with a dance sensation by bandleader Perez Prado to become “The Twist of Hava Nageela” in 1962!  Early doo-wopping rock-and-rollers The Crows (“Gee”) even got into Latin/Jewish fusion with 1954’s punning “Mambo Shevitz (Man Oh Man).”

We have plenty more on this musical exchange of cultures after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 25, 2013 at 14:23

Review: Merry Clayton, “The Best of Merry Clayton”

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Best of Merry ClaytonSay “yes” to Merry Clayton!

It takes a certain kind of talent to exercise restraint, to be able to generously support another artist while maintaining your own high standard of art, expression and individuality.  That’s the story of the background singer, and the story told by director Morgan Neville in his new film 20 Feet from Stardom.  Merry Clayton is seen in the film, both savoring and gently ribbing her role as the “diva” of the background singing clique – as the “lead background singer,” if you will.  But like many of the singers profiled in Neville’s fine film, Clayton harbored hopes for a solo career.  Riding high from her featured part on The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” the vocalist found a patron in Ode Records’ Lou Adler.  Between 1969 and 1975, Clayton recorded a handful of singles and one-off tracks plus three well-received albums for Ode; that body of work forms the basis of Legacy’s new anthology The Best of Merry Clayton.

Clayton was an interpretive singer recording at the height of the singer-songwriter movement.  So, at Ode, she drew on the songs of many of those talents, including James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bill Withers, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell and her labelmate Carole King.  In doing so, she reaffirmed the universality of the very personal songs they were writing.  The sound of almost all these tracks is R&B, or deep soul, with a firm rooting in gospel.  Though he certainly wished to break in Clayton as a marquee artist, producer Lou Adler certainly wasn’t aiming for a pure pop sound.  He was well-versed in that style, however, and his astute choice of pop and rock material showed off the many colors of Clayton’s (by necessity, adaptable) voice.  And the voice rarely holds back!  In the film, it’s posited that these records were met with commercial indifference because there was only room on the charts for one gospel-based artist: Aretha Franklin.  Clayton might also have been at a disadvantage not writing her own songs; the charts were also generally inhospitable at the time to those recording entire albums of “covers,” frequently the province of so-called MOR artists like Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis.  But the 17 gutsy, full-voiced tracks here don’t disappoint.

Take a look after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 9, 2013 at 09:53

Starbucks Serves “Self-Portraits” of Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and Others

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Starbucks Self-PortraitsSome of the music featured on Starbucks Entertainment’s latest compilation album, Self-Portraits, is a bit atypical for a coffeehouse setting: Warren Zevon, Judee Sill, Randy Newman, John Prine, Loudon Wainwright III.  The songs on Self-Portraits, by and large, demand attention, as all are drawn from the realm of the singer-songwriter with an emphasis on confessional or first-person songs.  The 16-track CD focuses on the 1970s (with just one track from 1969), and although there are a few unquestionably familiar, oft-anthologized songs, there are also a few that might make this disc worth perusing.

The hit singles come first on Self-Portraits.  Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” kicks off the disc, as it did King’s 1971 sophomore solo album Tapestry.  That was, of course, the album that ignited King’s career as a solo artist, and the same could be said for James Taylor’s second long-player.  “I Feel the Earth Move” is followed by “Fire and Rain,” from the troubadour’s 1970 Sweet Baby James, which featured (you guessed it) Carole King on piano.  Though Judy Collins had the hit single of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” Self-Portraits includes Mitchell’s version from her 1969 album Clouds, and then segues to British piano man Elton John for a track off his second album: the ubiquitous “Your Song.”

Following “Your Song,” the disc – as curated by Starbucks’ Steven Stolder – veers off in interesting directions.  Leon Russell, whose style was an influence on budding artist John’s, is represented with his piano-pounding “Tight Rope.”  Like Leon Russell (a key player in the Los Angeles “Wrecking Crew” of session musicians), Jimmy Webb spent his formative years behind-the-scenes.  In Webb’s  case, he was a songwriting prodigy with hits like “Up, Up and Away,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman” under his belt by the time he began his proper solo career with 1970’s “Words and Music.”  From that album, Self-Portraits draws “P.F. Sloan,” Webb’s remarkable, multi-layered ode to a songwriting colleague.  Any discussion of popular songwriters would be incomplete without a mention of Bob Dylan, and his “If You See Her, Say Hello” from his singer-songwriter masterwork Blood on the Tracks is the choice here.  Perhaps the least-known songwriter here is Judee Sill, the troubled Lady of the Canyon whose small discography yielded touching and unusual gems like “The Kiss.”

Self-Portraits also includes tracks from artists with more explicitly folk leanings than, say, King, Webb and Taylor.   Both Loudon Wainwright III (whose only hit single remains “Dead Skunk,” alas) and his wife Kate McGarrigle are heard here; Kate is joined by her sister Anna for “Talk to Me of Mendocino” from their eponymous album.  Another folk hero, John Prine, gets a spot with “Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone,” with which Prine draws comparisons between the Indian actor’s life and his own.  From the Brit-folk scene, Richard and Linda Thompson (“Dimming of the Day”) and Nick Drake (“Northern Sky”) appear.

After the jump: we have much more on the new comp, including the full track listing and an order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Short Takes, Bonus Tracks Edition: Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Carole King Offer Exclusives

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In recent years, the retailer-exclusive bonus track has become an important if controversial part of music sales.  Today’s Short Takes, then, is your public service announcement and guide to the bonus tracks available with three recent and upcoming titles from some of music’s most legendary artists.  Chances are you might want to own these previously-unreleased rarities!

Last week saw the release of Carole King’s The Legendary Demos from Rockingale Records and Hear Music.  Its thirteen tracks, recorded between 1961 and 1970, offer King at her stripped-down best, pounding the piano and passionately singing newly-minted compositions written for artists such as The Everly Brothers, The Monkees and ultimately, Carole King herself.  Two additional demos have surfaced as iTunes exclusive downloads.  “Every Breath I Take,” written by King with Gerry Goffin, was a 1961 hit for Gene Pitney as produced by the young Phil Spector, and the demo shows off King’s sure arranging sense as she vocalizes all of the dip dip doo bop bop bops plus the background harmonies!  It’s joined by “Oh No, Not My Baby,” a Goffin/King tune introduced by Maxine Brown in 1964 after an abortive attempt by The Shirelles; it was later covered by Manfred Mann, Cher, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart and others. This demo is less revelatory as King already released solo versions of the song in 1980 and 2001, but offers a worthwhile comparison to those two familiar recordings.  King is achingly vulnerable on one of her most beautiful songs.  These tracks are available individually on iTunes.

Hit the jump to see what Paul Simon and Paul McCartney have in store, bonus track-wise! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 2, 2012 at 14:51

Review: Carole King, “The Legendary Demos” and “Something Good from the Goffin and King Songbook”

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Though there’s no one formula for creating a great song, there’s no denying the success of the method that flourished first in New York’s Tin Pan Alley (28th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, for those wondering) and later a bit uptown in and around the Brill Building (1619 Broadway near 49th Street).  A couple of blocks away at 1650 Broadway at 51st Street, during the halcyon days of the 1960s, you would have found the home of Aldon Music, and the team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King.  “Aldon Music has been described as boot camp for songwriters.  That it was.  And yes, we did write in cubicles,” King confirms in her recent, acclaimed memoir A Natural Woman.  “The proximity of each cubicle to the next added an ‘echo’ factor.  While I was playing the song on which Gerry and I were working, we heard only our song.  As soon as I stopped playing, we could hear the song on which the team in the next cubicle was working.  Not surprisingly, with each of us trying to write the follow-up to an artist’s career hit, everyone’s song sounded similar to everyone else’s…”  But King doesn’t find this a bad thing at all: “[The] competitive atmosphere fostered by Donnie [Kirshner] spurred each team on to greater effort, which resulted in better songs.”

Hot on the heels of the publication of A Natural Woman, two indispensable new releases are revisiting those days of 1650 Broadway and proving just how right Carole King is.  The music you’ll find on The Legendary Demos (Rockingale/Hear Music HRM-33681-02) and Something Good from the Goffin and King Songbook (Ace CDCHD 1327) amounts to one of the most joyful noises in popular music, and each title addresses a crucial part of the 9-to-5 Brill Building/Aldon Music process.  The former makes available, for the very first time, the demos with which Carole King presented her newest songs to artists like The Monkees, The Everly Brothers and Bobby Vee.  The latter includes Goffin and King’s songs in released versions by those very artists and many more.

The Legendary Demos, of course, starts at the very beginning, but it hasn’t arrived without its share of surprises.  King’s publishing demos were well-known up and down Broadway; as producer Lou Adler accurately observes in the liner notes, “Within her piano, you could hear a string part, or another background part, and she did the background parts!”  These seminal recordings, dating from 1961-1970, have long been requested, but until now have eluded commercial release.  The good news is that all thirteen tracks show King at the absolute peak of her form.  The bad news is that there are only thirteen tracks (compare with the twenty-six on Something Good!) and the album’s total running time is just under forty minutes.  These songs – culled from some 118 hits penned by King – are just the tip of the iceberg.

The most eyebrow-raising aspect of the album may be the presence of five demos from 1971’s Tapestry, meaning that listeners are likely already familiar with King’s renditions of the songs.  (A sixth song from Tapestry, “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman,” is heard in a galvanizing demo intended for Aretha Franklin, predating the Tapestry album.)  The biggest thrill of Legendary Demos comes from hearing Carole King sing The Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday” or The Righteous Brothers’ “Just Once in My Life.”  Good as these demos of “It’s Too Late” and “You’ve Got a Friend” are, one has the nagging wish that they had been saved for a Tapestry: The Demo release, allowing King’s versions of songs written for others to take the spotlight here.

King’s gifts as a vocalist truly come to the fore on these intimate demos.  She never imitated a singer for whom she’s “pitching” a song (in fact, some of those singers ended up imitating King’s demo!) but adopted different tones and phrasing for each title that might recall the artist for whom the song is intended.  More likely, it was just intuition of knowing which artist might be most suited to a particular composition and tailoring that demo to his or her strengths.  Though the approach is non-chronological here, it still traces the journey from staff songwriter to singer/songwriter.  Long before “confessional” songwriting was in vogue, honesty and believability was at the core of the Goffin and King songbook.  Goffin had the knack for verbalizing the emotions of kids his own age; Goffin was just 20 and King 17 when they married in 1959.  Although Legendary Demos also contains songs with lyrics by Howard Greenfield (“Crying in the Rain”), Toni Stern (“It’s Too Late”) and King herself (“You’ve Got a Friend,” “Tapestry,” “Way Over Yonder”), the early songs with Goffin are the heart of this collection.

Hit the jump for much more on both new sets! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 24, 2012 at 10:02

Release Round-Up: Week of April 24

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Carole King, The Legendary Demos (Rockingale/Hear Music)

Who wouldn’t want to hear early recordings of some of the greatest pop songs ever recorded? I know I would.

Davy Jones, The Bell Recordings 1971-1972The Monkees, Pool It! Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)

The late Monkee’s first post-band project released on CD and expanded with bonus tracks, as well as a CD/DVD of the band’s penultimate 1987 album with two bonus tracks and the group’s videography.

T. Rex, Electric Warrior: Deluxe Edition (Polydor)

The glam classic is greatly expanded overseas, with a bonus disc of unreleased demos and a DVD of rare performances. This is likely going to stay import-only, so get it while it’s hot.

Louis Armstrong, Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours (Smithsonian Folkways)

One of Satchmo’s last recordings ever, a short set with surprise bliss from his trumpet.

Cilla Black, Completely Cilla 1963-1973 (EMI)

The U.K. pop singer gets a swinging box set: five CDs of George Martin-produced tunes and a DVD of rare BBC television appearances.

ABBA, The Visitors: Deluxe Edition (Universal Music Catalogue)

The Swedish pop icons’ final album, reissued as a CD/DVD set, features plenty of extras, including an unreleased track heard in its entirety for the first time anywhere.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 24, 2012 at 07:59

Natural Woman: Hear Music Unveils Carole King’s “Legendary Demos” At Long Last

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Some years back, I was attending a performance of Carole King’s Living Room Tour at New York’s theatre-in-the round then known as the Westbury Music Fair, its cozy environs just perfect for King’s intimate show.  Midway through the set, a fan shouted to the stage, “Release your demos, Carole!”  King smiled knowingly.  “Talk to the publisher!” she replied.  It clearly wasn’t the first time she had heard the request; indeed, legendary isn’t too strong a word for the original vocal-and-piano tracks supplied by King and her frequent lyricist and then-husband Gerry Goffin to the likes of The Monkees, Bobby Vee, Aretha Franklin, The Everly Brothers and others.  Well, it’s taken a while, but a number of King’s demos are finally seeing official CD release as, yes, The Legendary Demos.  On April 24, Hear Music will release the collection of 13 demos from King’s extensive repertoire of 118 (!) hits placed on the Billboard Hot 100.

Most of the songs on The Legendary Demos were written within the confines of 1650 Broadway in the offices of Aldon Music.  These are the songs which established King as the Brill Building Queen, even though the actual Brill Building was down the street at 1619.  Regardless of address, the songwriters ensconced in these buildings’ cubicles defined the sound of American pop music throughout most of the 1960s.  The collection leads off with King’s demo of “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” a 1967 hit for The Monkees.  That fab foursome also recorded “So Goes Love,” one of the lesser-known tracks on the new anthology, which was also covered by The Turtles!  King’s 1961 “Take Good Care of My Baby,” a number one hit as recorded by Bobby Vee, is included in its original demo form.   Gene Pitney is most associated with Goffin and King’s “Yours Until Tomorrow,” although that smoldering ballad was also recorded by artists as diverse as Dee Dee Warwick, Engelbert Humperdinck, Johnny Maestro and Cher!

The very next year, King moonlighted from Gerry Goffin when she teamed with Neil Sedaka’s usual lyric partner, Howard Greenfield, to deliver “Crying in the Rain” to the Everly Brothers.  Don and Phil were duly rewarded with a No. 6 pop hit.  Goffin and King supplied “Just Once in My Life” to another group of Brothers, although unlike the Everlys, the Righteous Brothers weren’t related!  The Top 10 hit followed “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” which was actually written by Goffin and King’s close friends and closest “competitors” in the Brill Building hierarchy, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil!

Hit the jump for much more on The Legendary Demos, including the full track listing, a pre-order link and a song preview! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 9, 2012 at 15:18