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Baby, It’s Burt: “The Warner Sound” and “The Atlantic Sound” Compile Rare Bacharach Tracks

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Warner Sound of BacharachIn his 85th year, Burt Bacharach has kept a pace that would wear out many a younger man.  In addition to performing a number of concert engagements, the Oscar, Grammy and Gershwin Prize-winning composer has released a memoir, continued work on three musical theatre projects, co-written songs with Bernie Taupin and J.D. Souther, and even penned a melody for Japanese singer Ringo Sheena.  Though Bacharach keeps moving forward, numerous releases this year have looked back on his illustrious catalogue.  Universal issued The Art of the Songwriter in 6-CD and 2-CD iterations to coincide with the publication of his memoir, Real Gone Music rescued his three sublime “lost” 1974 productions for Dionne Warwick from obscurity, and Warner Music Japan reissued the near-entirety of Warwick’s Scepter and Warner Bros. tenures under the umbrella of Burt Bacharach 85th Birth Anniversary/Dionne Warwick Debut 50th Anniversary.  Two more titles have recently been added to that Japanese reissue series: The Atlantic Sound of Burt Bacharach and The Warner Sound of Burt Bacharach.  These 2-CD anthologies are both packed with rarities and familiar songs alike for a comprehensive overview of the Maestro’s recordings on the Warner family of labels.

The Warner Sound of Burt Bacharach is the more wide-ranging compilation of the two, drawing on recordings made not just for Warner Bros. Records but for Valiant, Festival, Elektra, Reprise, Scepter, and foreign labels like Italy’s CDG and Sweden’s Metronome.  This 2-CD set is arranged chronologically, with the first CD covering 1962 (Dionne Warwick’s “Don’t Make Me Over,” her only appearance on the set) to 1978 (Nicolette Larson’s “Mexican Divorce”), and the second taking in 1981 (Christopher Cross’ Oscar-winning chart-topper “Arthur’s Theme”) to 2004 (Tamia and Gerald Levert’s “Close to You”).

On the Elektra label, Love scored a hit with “My Little Red Book,” presented here in its mono single version.  The composer didn’t care for the band’s melodic liberties, but the Sunset Strip rockers’ version is today better known than the Manfred Mann original.  From the Reprise catalogue, you’ll hear the great arranger Marty Paich with a swinging instrumental version of “Promise Her Anything,” a genuine Bacharach and David rocker originally recorded by Tom Jones.  Trini Lopez’s groovy “Made in Paris” is also heard in its mono single version.  Morgana King is sultry on a Don Costa arrangement of “Walk On By.”  Buddy Greco delivers a hip “What the World Needs Now,” and Tiny Tim makes the same song his own.  Ella Fitzgerald puts her stamp on “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” produced like Tiny Tim’s “World” by Richard Perry.  Another production great, Wall of Sound architect Jack Nitzsche, brings a touch of class to the Paris Sisters’ dreamy “Long After Tonight is All Over.”

Numerous tracks on the first CD come from the worldwide Warner vaults.  The two stars of the original Italian production of Promises, Promises – Catherine Spaak and Johnny Dorelli – are heard in their beautiful, low-key performance of “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” as released on the CDG label.  The Sweden Metronome label yields Svante Thuresson’s “This Guy’s In Love with You,” Siw Malmkvist’s “I Say a Little Prayer,” and one of the strangest songs in Bacharach and David’s entire catalogue, “Cross Town Bus” as sung by the Gals and Pals in English.  Australia’s Festival label – the original home of the Bee Gees – has been tapped for Noeleen Batley’s “Forgive Me (For Giving You Such a Bad Time)” and Jeff Phillips’ “Baby It’s You.”  The treasures on the Warner Bros. label proper are just as eclectic, from Liberace’s gentle “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” to The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band’s torrid “I Wake Up Crying.”  Harpers Bizarre’s “Me Japanese Boy (I Love You),” with an atmospheric Nick DeCaro arrangement, is another highlight.  The Everly Brothers truncated Bacharach’s melody to “Trains and Boats and Planes” but their harmony blend is at its peak in a 1967 recording.

The second disc of The Warner Sound emphasizes latter-day R&B as Bacharach branched out with a variety of lyricists.  Chaka Khan is heard on “Stronger Than Before” by Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager;  Earth Wind and Fire on “Two Hearts” co-written with Philip Bailey and Maurice White; Tevin Campbell on “Don’t Say Goodbye Girl” co-written with Narada Michael Walden and Sally Jo Dakota; and Randy Crawford on “Tell It To Your Heart” from Bacharach and Tonio K.  Mari Ijima’s original version of “Is There Anybody Out There” – penned by Bacharach, John Bettis, James Ingram and Puff Johnson – is a welcome surprise; the song was recorded in 2012 by Dionne Warwick on her Now album.  Ingram is also heard with “Sing for the Children.”  On the 1993 track, co-producer/arranger Thom Bell channeled Bacharach’s classic flugelhorn sound to great effect.  Old favorites are also revisited and reinterpreted on this disc via Everything But the Girl’s “Alfie,” The Pretenders’ “The Windows of the World,” Linda Ronstadt’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” Anita Baker’s “The Look of Love,” guitarist Earl Klugh’s “Any Old Time of Day” and frequent Bacharach collaborator Elvis Costello’s “Please Stay.”  With big hits (“Arthur’s Theme”) alongside rarely-anthologized gems (the George Duke-produced “Let Me Be the One” performed by Marilyn Scott), there’s something for everybody here.

After the jump: check out The Atlantic Sound of Burt Bacharach!  Plus: track listings with discography and order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Bread Winners: Early Songs of David Gates Compiled By Rare Rockin’ Records

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David Gates - Early YearsLong before “Make It With You,” “Everything I Own” and “If” became soft-rock standards for his band Bread, David Gates had toiled behind the scenes as a songwriter, producer, arranger and musician on the Hollywood scene.  He worked with everybody from The Monkees to Captain Beefheart before striking out with Robb Royer and James Griffin to form Bread.  The band’s debut album was released in 1969, featuring the original version of “It Don’t Matter to Me.”  The song soon mattered quite a bit for Bread, though, when it charted Top 10 Pop in a single version.  Now, the Australian label Rare Rockin’ Records is turning the pages back to David Gates’ pre-Bread days with the March 18 release of David Gates – The Early Years 1962-1967.  It follows the label’s two previous songwriter retrospectives, one each for Burt Bacharach and Billy Meshel (who wrote for Del Shannon, Lenny Welch and Dion before moving on to a long, successful career in music publishing).

The Tulsa, Oklahoma-born Gates first found success on the local music scene, backing Chuck Berry while still in high school and even releasing a regional hit single, “Jo-Baby.”  The siren call of Hollywood soon persuaded Gates to make the move west, and beginning in 1961, he soon found gainful employment.  By 1964, he had achieved his first major success as a songwriter when The Murmaids took his “Popsicles and Icicles” to No. 3 on the Hot 100 under the aegis of the frequently colorful impresario Kim Fowley.  In 1966, The Monkees included Gates’ “Saturday’s Child” on the group’s first album, and he even contributed the title song to Hanna-Barbera’s big screen romp Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear in 1964.  As an arranger, Gates worked his magic on Glenn Yarbrough’s “Baby the Rain Must Fall” in 1965.

All the while, he was developing a solo career, recording for labels like Mala, Del-Fi and Planetary both under his own name and under pseudonyms like Del Ashley and The Manchesters.  When Gates was hired to produce, arrange and conduct the Uni Records LP debut of Los Angeles pop group The Pleasure Fair in 1967, though, it turned out to be more than just another assignment.  One member of The Pleasure Fair was Robb Royer, whose song “Say What You See” would be arranged by Gates and produced by Royer’s sometimes-songwriting partner James Griffin in 1968 for the group The Curtain Calls.  Soon, Griffin, Royer and Gates teamed up as Bread.  The group went on to score 13 hits on the Hot 100, and Gates notched a further seven as a solo artist.

After the jump: what will you find on David Gates – The Early Years 1962-1967?  Hit the jump for more details plus the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 25, 2013 at 10:25

Baby, It’s Burt: Cherry Red’s Él Label Collects Early Bacharach On “Long Ago Last Summer”

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Although Burt Bacharach had been composing songs at least since 1952, when he kicked off a long career with the instrumental “Once in a Blue Moon” for Nat “King” Cole, the Burt Bacharach “sound” didn’t truly crystallize until the early 1960s.  Prior to his reshaping of the sound of adult R&B, Bacharach teamed with a variety of lyricists to craft songs in virtually every genre imaginable: rock-and-roll, rockabilly, country, pop balladry, jazz, even the novelty song.  Naturally, the earliest period in Bacharach’s career has long taken a back seat to the post-1962 works.  That was the year that Bacharach and lyricist partner Hal David first recorded “Make It Easy on Yourself” for Jerry Butler and the year that Dionne Warwick recorded her first Bacharach/David song, “Don’t Make Me Over.”  Although not credited beyond an “Arranged by” on the label of “Make It Easy on Yourself,” Bacharach has often cited Butler’s recording as his first real production, including orchestration.  With that track, a style was born.

Cherry Red’s Él label (itself a venerable institution, founded by Mike Alway in the 1980s) first tackled the earliest years of Bacharach’s career in 2009 with The First Book of Songs (ACMEM166CD), covering the period between 1954 and 1958 over 28 songs.  (That set erroneously included Patti Page’s “Another Time, Another Place,” credited on the label to Bacharach and David but actually written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, also of publishing house Famous Music.)  The label has just released a belated sequel, Long Ago Last Summer: 1959-1961 which culminates in The Shirelles’ 1961 hit “Baby, It’s You,” written by Bacharach, Mack David and Barney Williams, a.k.a. Luther Dixon.  Although its whopping 33 songs don’t represent every song from Bacharach’s pen recorded during those years, it’s a true cross-section of both the best and the weirdest!  As such, it’s a must-own for collectors, premiering a number of long-lost tracks on CD.

Hit the jump to dig deep with Bacharach and the Él team, including a full track listing with discographical annotation for the new CD! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 21, 2012 at 09:59

The Grateful Dead, Cameo-Parkway Christmas, ? and the Mysterians, Ed Ames On Deck From Real Gone

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Real Gone Music, the label founded by Gordon Anderson and Gabby Castellana, has announced its debut slate for November, and it’s no surprise that the founders of Collectors’ Choice Music and Hep Cat Records, respectively, are launching their new venture with a broadly eclectic line-up of releases crossing all genre lines. 

With distribution from Razor and Tie, Real Gone’s slate includes releases from The Grateful Dead, a contingent of sixties girls, legendary garage group ? and the Mysterians, and a trio of holiday releases to make your Christmas a bit brighter.

On November 8, three previously-reported singles collections from Shelby Flint, Connie Stevens and Joanie Sommers are joined by a delightfully unexpected release all the way from Hooterville!  Come one and come all, and we’ll take that Cannonball to the junction, Petticoat Junction, with the original Imperial Records singles from The Girls of Petticoat Junction!  Featuring Linda Kaye Henning, Lori Saunders and Meredith MacRae, this collection marks these rare singles’ very first time on CD.  Every track is making its first appearance in stereo, and previously unreleased cuts have been appended.  Look for songs by Jimmy Webb, Neil Sedaka and more!

The following week, come hear Uncle John’s Band for three volumes of the long-running Dick’s Picks series, from the archives of the Grateful Dead!  Named for Dick Latvala, the official tape archivist for the Dead until 1999, these three volumes of Dick’s Picks will be available at retail from Real Gone, and spotlight gigs from Rochester, New York (1977); San Diego, California (1971); and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1972). 

The Dead is joined by another band whose career could be summed up as a long, strange trip!  ? (that’s Question Mark to you!) and the Mysterians hit it big with the chart-topping “96 Tears” in 1966.  Real Gone brings the band’s 96 Tears album as well as its 1967 follow-up, Action!, to 180-gram vinyl.  These two LPs are available thanks to Real Gone’s relationship with ABKCO, successor to the original Cameo-Parkway label.  The Cameo-Parkway vaults have also been opened for Cameo-Parkway Holiday Hits, a compilation originally announced for Collectors’ Choice Music.  The 18-track comp boasts 13 new-to-CD cuts from the Philadelphia label’s roster, including  Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker, Bobby the Poet, The Rudolph Statler Orchestra, the Lonesome Travelers and even Bob Seger and the Last Heard!

On November 22, two more Christmas-themed titles will arrive, following in Collectors’ Choice’s grand tradition of bringing rare holiday music to compact disc.  Composer/arranger David Rose (“The Stripper”) is represented with 1968’s The David Rose Christmas Album from the vaults of Capitol Records, and beloved vocalist Ed Ames (“My Cup Runneth Over”) is the recipient of a two-fer bringing his 1967 Christmas with Ed Ames and 1970 Christmas is the Warmest Time of Year to CD, both originally released on RCA Victor.

Are you excited yet?  Hit the jump for the complete schedule!

  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 20, 2011 at 13:21

Real Gone Rescues Shelby, Joanie and Connie: Complete Singles Coming In November

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It was nearly one year ago to the day – September 13, 2010 – that The Second Disc brought you news of four exciting collections planned from Collectors’ Choice Music: Complete Singles collections from beloved sixties gals Petula Clark, Connie Stevens, Joanie Sommers and Shelby Flint.

Shortly thereafter, on October 7, news broke that the Clark set had been cancelled.  Gordon Anderson, the then-veep of Collectors’ Choice, confirmed to The Second Disc that “at the eleventh hour, Petula’s management decided that they did not want the project to come out.”

The other three releases were still on the schedule last October, but they, too, were soon scuttled when Collectors’ Choice abandoned its thriving reissue label.  Good things do often come to those who wait, however.  Flash-forward to the present day, and Anderson has launched Real Gone Music with business partner Gabby Castellana.  Surely many smiles came when Real Gone tweeted last Friday evening that three of the label’s debut releases would be the long-in-gestation Complete Warner Bros. Singles of Connie Stevens and Joanie Sommers, and Complete Valiant Singles of Shelby Flint!

November 8 is the new date that you can expect all three collections to be released by Real Gone.  In the meantime, hit the jump for more info, including track listings and discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 13, 2011 at 09:41