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CCR Take It Back to ’69 with Record Store Day Compilation

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CCR 69 Singles RSDCreedence Clearwater Revival are taking it back to the year it all started – sort of – for a new compilation to be released on Record Store Day.

To those who were paying attention, Creedence Clearwater Revival were pretty active before 1969. Singer-songwriter-guitarist John Fogerty, older brother/rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford had been performing and recording together in their native San Francisco since 1959, first under the name of The Blue Velvets (in which Tom wrote and sang while Cook played piano instead of bass) and then The Golliwogs, the latter of which saw them move to local jazz label Fantasy Records. When the lineup crystallized around John’s distinctive vocals and southern/roots-inspired songwriting prowess, CCR was born, issuing their first self-titled album in 1968 and enjoying their first hit, the Top 20 single “Susie Q.”

But it was that next year, 1969, that solidified their reputation as one of the defining rock bands of the ’60s. That year saw them touring incessantly, including a headlining spot at the Woodstock festival. And amazingly, they found time in their schedules to release not one, not two, but three albums between January and November of that month. Bayou CountryGreen River and Willy and The Poor Boys were all Top 10 hits on Billboard‘s albums chart (with Green River topping that chart), and they spun off four iconic singles: the now-standard “Proud Mary” (No. 2) backed with “Born on the Bayou”; the rollicking “Bad Moon Rising” (No. 2) coupled with “Lodi” (No. 52); “Green River” (No. 2) and its B-side “Commotion” (No. 30) and the irresistible “Down on the Corner” (No. 3), coupled with the anti-war anthem “Fortunate Son” (No. 14).

CCR enjoyed several more years of success, with two albums in 1970 and a final LP in 1972 (without Tom Fogerty), plus several more Top 10 hits (never, however, a No. 1 hit). They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and their catalogue is still widely available, thanks to several compilations and remasters and endless licensing (mostly executed by Fantasy Records without the approval of Fogerty).

In addition to a new 10″ white-vinyl compilation, The ’69 Singles, including all eight sides the band released in that year, dropping into all participating indie retailers on Record Store Day, Fantasy and CCR are keeping the spirit of ’69 alive with vinyl reissues of those three albums (Bayou Country was repressed this year, while Green River and Willy and The Poor Boys are expected August 5 and November 4, respectively), a new compilation and “high-resolution audio releases.”

The ’69 Singles (Fantasy FAN-35329-01, 2014)

  1. Proud Mary
  2. Born on the Bayou
  3. Bad Moon Rising
  4. Lodi
  5. Green River
  6. Commotion
  7. Down on the Corner
  8. Fortunate Son

Tracks 1-2 from Fantasy single 619 Bayou Country (Fantasy 8387, 1969)
Tracks 3-6 from Fantasy singles 625 and 634 and Green River (Fantasy 8393, 1969)
Tracks 7-8 from Fantasy single 622 Willy and The Poor Boys (Fantasy 8397, 1969)

Written by Mike Duquette

March 5, 2014 at 11:34

Release Round-Up: Week of November 11/12

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Beatles - On AirThe Beatles, Live At The BBC / On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (Capitol)

What’s better than a remaster of The Fab Four’s 1994 double-disc set of live BBC sessions? How about another two-disc set of those sessions?

Live At The BBC (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Live At The BBC (3LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (3LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Live At The BBC: The Collection (4CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Hathaway Never My LoveDonny Hathaway, Never My Love: The Anthology (ATCO/Rhino)

A fine-looking four-disc anthology for the late, great soul singer, featuring his greatest hits and rare singles, a disc of unreleased studio outtakes, an unissued live performance at New York’s Bitter End in 1971, and his complete duets with Roberta Flack. Beautiful, beautiful stuff here. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Miles Davis - Original Mono RecordingsMiles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings (Columbia/Legacy)

A nine-disc set featuring a crash course in jazz education in glorious monaural sound! Classics ‘Round About Midnight (1957), Miles Ahead (1957), Milestones (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959), Kind of Blue (1959), Sketches of Spain (1960) and Someday My Prince Will Come (1961) are joined by two rare, out-of-print LPs: 1959’s Jazz Track (featuring a side of quintet recordings for a French soundtrack and a side of rarities from the sextet that cut Kind of Blue) and Miles & Monk At Newport (1964), featuring two live sets recorded five years apart at the Newport Jazz Festival. (Look for several of these albums on LP once again for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event!) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

Herbie packshotHerbie Hancock, The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988 (Columbia/Legacy)

This 34-disc set features every one of the jazz pianist’s albums for Columbia/CBS, including 11 which have never been on CD in the U.S. before (eight of these albums were only released in Japan). (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Tommy SDEThe Who, Tommy: Deluxe Editions (Geffen/UMe)

Another expanded version of The Who’s magnum opus features the original album with an unissued spread of demos, outtakes and live bootlegs.

2CD Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3CD/1BD Super Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1CD Remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP Remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Disney ClassicsVarious Artists, Disney Classics (Walt Disney Records)

A neat new four-disc box set spanning the entire Disney gamut (film, television and theme parks) in celebration of 90(!) years of musical magic. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Fisherman's BoxThe Waterboys, Fisherman’s Box: The Complete Fisherman’s Blues Sessions 1986-1988 (Parlophone)

After some delays, the six-disc version of this mammoth box (sans “influences” bonus disc or vinyl LP) is available this week. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CCR Box 2013Creedence Clearwater Revival, Creedence Clearwater Revival (Box Set) (Fantasy)

A reissue of the band’s career-spanning six-disc 2001 box, featuring all nine of their studio and live albums and a disc of pre-CCR single sides, is now available in a new package not made of wood. (Amazon U.S.)

Ry Cooder boxRy Cooder, 1970-1987 (Rhino)

All 11 of the famed guitarist’s Warner-Reprise albums in one box. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Direct HitsThe Killers, Direct Hits (Island)

The Vegas modern-day New Wavers release their first compilation, with new single “Shot At the Night.” A deluxe edition adds a few more bonus tracks, including the original demo for hit single “Mr. Brightside.”

Standard: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Super Deluxe CD/10″ edition: Amazon U.K.

KeaneKeane, The Best of Keane (Island)

Another Island act from the ’00s (albeit one from England), Keane too release a compilation in a variety of formats.

Standard 1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe 2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Super Deluxe 2CD/DVD (Amazon exclusive): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

P Montreal 1977Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Live in Montreal 1977 (Shout! Factory)

Welcome back, my friends, to a complete show in support of Works Volume 1 on two discs. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lamb of God As The Palaces BurnLamb of God, As the Palaces Burn: 10th Anniversary Edition (Razor & Tie)

The thrash/groove quartet’s breakthrough 2000 album is remixed, remastered and expanded with three demos and a DVD documentary.

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

Grizzly Bear ShiledsGrizzly Bear, Shields: Expanded (Warp)

The Brooklyn band’s 2012 album, now with a bonus disc of demos and remixes.

Shields: Expanded (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Shields: B-Sides (LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Classic CCR Box Set Choogles Back Into Print

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CCR Box 2013A box set of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s official studio and live discography, first released in 2001, is getting reissued again for the holiday box set season.

Creedence Clearwater Revival was a six-disc set collecting all of the Southern (by way of California) rock band’s studio albums – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968), Bayou CountryGreen RiverWilly and the Poor Boys (all 1969), Cosmo’s FactoryPendulum (both 1970) and Mardi Gras (1972) – along with both of their posthumous live albums, Live in Europe (1973) and The Concert (1980).

The group (lead singer/guitarist John Fogerty; his brother, rhythm guitarist Tom; bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford), of course, had their share of massive hits, including Top 5 singles “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” “Down on the Corner,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and others. But the box didn’t stop there, adding a disc of rare and unreleased pre-CCR compositions by the quartet under the names Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets and The Golliwogs. While additional archival material was loosed on a series of 40th anniversary remasters by the group’s original label, Fantasy Records, in 2008, this box offers the complete essentials in one package.

The original package featured copious photos and notes from the likes of Ben Fong-Torres, Robert Christgau, Dave Marsh, Joel Selvin and others, as well as a wooden box packaging. While this iteration of the box looks a little simpler, it’s a safe bet all the extra information in the packaging would be included once more. This pressing of the box is available November 12 and can be pre-ordered after the jump, which is, as always, where you’ll find the complete track rundown. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 7, 2013 at 16:55

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Ultimate CCR: Greatest Hits and All-Time Classics”

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Did John Fogerty write “Proud Mary,” or did it come to the Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman by some kind of divine inspiration?  After all, the modern folk song has become such a part of the American cultural tapestry that it’s hard to believe the song’s origins were so, well, ordinary: Fogerty cobbled together a spontaneously-improvised riff at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom with lyrics inspired by diverse sources and experiences to create the song that anchored the band’s sophomore album and became a No. 2 hit single.  Since that original version, it’s been recorded or performed by artists running the gamut.  Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, Neil Sedaka, Solomon Burke, Ed Ames, Leonard Nimoy and even The Chipettes (!) have all brought something to the tune about the guy who hitched a ride on a “riverboat queen.”  And that’s not even mentioning the transformative rendition by Ike and Tina Turner, who worked the chooglin’, laid-back rhythm into a high-energy frenzy as only they could have done, complete with Tina’s unique choreography.  Yes, like Proud Mary herself, the big wheel of Creedence Clearwater Revival has kept on turnin’, kept on burnin’, still rollin’ on that immortal river.

Yet John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook have hardly been in harmony since the band’s acrimonious split in October, 1972 after a brief run that began under the Creedence name in 1967.  (The four members had actually played together since the early part of the decade.)  A true reunion, of course, is precluded by Tom’s death in 1990, and even a recent and tentative (and well-publicized) extension of the olive branch by John has been spurned by Clifford and Cook.  Yet forty years after the break-up, the music that quartet created together remains a spellbinding, beguiling brew of swamp rock, funk, blues, folk and R&B.  52 such examples have just been compiled by Fantasy Records, the group’s original label now part of the Concord Music Group umbrella, as Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival: Greatest Hits and All-Time Classics (Fantasy FAN-34162, 2012).

When a group only has a limited amount of material such as CCR’s seven albums, the challenge over time becomes to repackage that small treasure trove in new formats and editions.  Sometimes the result is a retread and frustrating to longtime fans; other times, a compilation becomes an illuminating look back.  As for CCR, the band’s entire catalogue has been remastered numerous times (including most recently in anniversary editions with bonus tracks) and has even been collected in a “complete” box set.  So Ultimate CCR, then, is likely aimed at those who don’t already own the individual albums and aren’t interested in a pricey box set, but want more than a single-disc comp (a number of which are already available).  This companion of sorts to 2009’s excellent The Singles Collection succeeds, then, in distilling the essence of the group both onstage and in the studio in a budget-priced 3-CD set released just in time for the holiday season.  There’s no unheard material, alas.  But what’s here is well-curated, with the overall package a well-designed one.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

November 13, 2012 at 10:34

Release Round-Up: Weeks of October 30 and November 6

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Election Day is upon us today!  But if you’re looking to cast your vote for some music, too, we might be able to help!  Though we were able to keep the lights on each day at The Second Disc, Hurricane Sandy kept us from publishing a Release Round-Up last week.  So without further ado, here’s the best of the best for the weeks of October 30 and November 6!

Louis Armstrong, The Complete OKeh, Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings 1925-1933 (OKeh/Columbia/RCA/Legacy) (10 CDs) / Charlie Christian, The Genius of the Electric Guitar (Columbia/ Legacy) (4 CDs) / Duke Ellington, The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1951-1958 (Columbia/ Legacy) (9 CDs) / Bessie Smith, The Complete Columbia Recordings (Columbia/ Legacy) (10 CDs)

Four titans of jazz are celebrated with comprehensive box sets from Legacy Recordings!  Full details on each box can be found here!

Glen Campbell, Try a Little Kindness / The Glen Campbell Goodtime Album / The Last Time I Saw Her (BGO)

Three long-out-of-print albums from the country and pop legend arrive on two CDs from BGO!  Campbell’s renditions of “MacArthur Park,” “Honey, Come Back,” “Try a Little Kindness,” “Just Another Piece of Paper,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night” are among the great songs you’ll hear here!

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival: Greatest Hits & All-Time Classics (Fantasy, 2012)

You’ll find 3 CDs of hits, deep cuts and live tracks here from the Bay Area swamp-rock legends!  Full track listing and more can be found here.

El Topo Soundtrack (LP & CD)/ David Peel & the Lower East Side, Have a Marijuana / Perry Como, Complete RCA Christmas Collection / Doris Day, The Complete Christmas Collection / SSgt. Barry Sadler, Ballads of the Green Berets

Real Gone Music’s October 30 slate included a counterculture classic from David Peel, a lost Apple Records soundtrack, two Christmas collections from beloved vocalists and an expanded reissue of SSgt. Barry Sadler’s Ballads of the Green Berets!  Full details are here!

Bert Jansch, Heartbreak: 30th Anniversary Edition (Omnivore) (CD / LP)

The great guitarist, singer and songwriter’s 1982 album arrives in an expanded edition on both CD and LP from Omnivore Recordings!  Track listing and all details are here.

Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick: 40th Anniversary Edition (Chrysalis) (CD/DVD Box and 2-LP Edition)

Extra!  Extra!  Jethro Tull’s 1971 album is celebrated in a CD/DVD box set and as a 2-LP vinyl edition!  Read all about it here.

Barbara Lewis, The Complete Atlantic Singles / Johnny Mathis, This Is Love/Olé / Johnny Mathis, The Sweetheart Tree/The Shadow of Your Smile

For November 6, Real Gone has released a 2-CD set of soulful singles from the “Baby, I’m Yours” singer, plus another two of Johnny Mathis’ long-unavailable Mercury Records albums! Full details are here!

Gary Lewis and the Playboys, (You Don’t Have To) Paint Me a Picture / New Directions / Now! (BGO)

Three albums circa 1967-1968 arrive on CD from the sixties’ pop sensations, including New Directions with its line-up of songs from the “Happy Together” team of Bonner and Gordon; and Now! with its Playboys takes on pop hits such as “Windy” and “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight.”  You’ll also find contributions on this new 2-CD set from the young Leon Russell.

The Rolling Stones, Charlie is My Darling (Super Deluxe Box Set) (ABKCO, 2012)

The documentary Charlie is My Darling chronicles the early days of The Rolling Stones, and it’s arrived in a DVD/BD/CD/LP box set from ABKCO!  Track listing and full details are here.

James Taylor, James Taylor at Christmas (UMe)

JT’s 2004 Christmas collection arrives, with an altered track listing and a couple of newly-compiled tracks, in a new iteration from Universal!  Watch this space for full details!

Various Artists, Now That’s What I Call Disney (Sony/Universal/EMI/Walt Disney)

This 20-track collection reaches back as far as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and brings the Disney legacy up to date with songs from more recent classics like Toy Story and Tangled.  The title is derived from a 2011 3-CD compilation that arrived in the United Kingdom.

Various Artists, Rodgers & Hammerstein: The Complete Broadway Musicals (Masterworks Broadway, 2012)

Oh, what a beautiful box set!  This impressive 12-CD box set brings together one recording of each of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s groundbreaking Broadway musicals!  Full details are here.

The Velvet Underground and Nico: 45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Verve/UMe, 2012)

The Velvets’ debut album goes Super Deluxe in this 6-CD set.  Read more here!

Dionne Warwick, Now (Blue Horizon)

The legendary singer returns with an all-new studio set revisiting classics from Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  The Phil Ramone-produced album includes four songs (two penned by Bacharach and two by David) which Warwick had never previously recorded.  The whole story is here!

The Who, Live at Hull 1970 (Geffen/UMe)

The incendiary 2-CD concert from Pete, Roger, John and Keith arrives for the first time as a stand-alone edition; it was previously available as part of the 2010 Live at Leeds box set.  You’ll find the track listing here.

Bill Withers, The Complete Sussex and Columbia Masters (Columbia/Legacy)

You can rediscover the entire album catalogue of the “Ain’t No Sunshine”/Lean on Me” man with this 9-CD box set from Legacy Recordings!  Full track listing and more can be found here!

Frank Zappa, 11 catalogue reissues (UMe/Zappa Records)

Another round of Official Releases from the Frank Zappa camp has arrived, from 1984’s Francesco Zappa through 1991’s Make a Jazz Noise Here.  Plus: the 2012 compilation Understanding America makes its debut.  Read the full rundown with order links here!

Born on the Bayou: “Ultimate Collection” Compiles Live, Studio Creedence Clearwater Revival

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With just seven albums released over a four-year period between 1968 and 1972, Creedence Clearwater Revival managed to tap into the roots of rock and roll with songs like “Down on the Corner,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” Fortunate Son,” and of course, “Proud Mary.”  All of those songs, and more, will be appearing on CCR’s 3-CD set Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival: Greatest Hits & All-Time Classics, due on November 6 from Fantasy Records.

Despite having such a small catalogue (virtually all of which was collected on a 6-CD box set containing every studio and live album plus copious additional material), the band keeps on chooglin’ with anthologies and themed compilations.  The last significant addition to the catalogue was Fantasy’s 2009 The Singles Collection, containing the A- and B-side of every one of the band’s singles (30 tracks total), plus a bonus DVD of select music videos.  Ultimate CCR offers 40 songs over two CDs, plus a third disc of live cuts.

The two studio discs include the familiar hit singles plus deeper cuts from all seven of the band’s albums.  As for the third disc of all live material, its tracks have been derived from performances in Oakland, San Francisco, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin and elsewhere throughout 1970-1971.  Though discographical information is not yet available, it’s likely that many (though not all) of the tracks have been culled from the band’s two official live releases: 1973’s Live in Europe (recorded in 1971) and 1980’s The Concert (recorded in 1970).  Other live recordings have appeared as bonus tracks on the 40th anniversary expanded issues of the band’s albums.  A CD/DVD release of Live at the Royal Albert Hall was mooted in 2011, with Amazon at one point even accepting pre-orders, but the release was (indefinitely?) cancelled and no further word has arrived.  Ironically, the 1980 live album was initially titled The Royal Albert Hall Concert until it was determined that it was, in fact, recorded in Oakland, California!

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

Written by Joe Marchese

October 1, 2012 at 11:12

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time (Part 2: #95-91)

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Welcome to our brand-new, exhaustive feature to take us to the end of another great year for reissues and box sets: our first-ever official Second Disc Buyers Guide! From now until Christmas, we’re taking you on a delightful trip through the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003, through the filter of when and how these classic albums have been reissued, remastered and repackaged. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself which versions of these albums to buy for certain bonus tracks and the like, wonder no more.

In our second installment, you’ll travel from the bayou to the Yellow Brick Road, and everywhere in between.  We’ll journey from the 1950s through the 1980s with a group of true legends: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Prince, Buddy Holly and Elton John!

95. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Green River (Fantasy, 1969)

If you tuned into the Thanksgiving Day parade coverage on CBS last week, you might have found a sight that had nothing to do with Macy’s, giant floats or cartoon characters.  That sight was one John Fogerty, late of the band Creedence Clearwater Revival , playing many of his classic hits for an appreciative audience that Thanksgiving morning.  Fogerty hasn’t always had such a warm relationship with his back catalogue, the result of acrimony between the singer/songwriter and both his bandmates and his original label.  Though tensions have since cooled, with Fogerty even indicating to Rolling Stone that he would be open to considering a reunion (“It’s possible, yeah. I think the call would maybe have to come from outside the realm … [But] I haven’t really wasted mental energy being angry for quite some time.”), only one thing has remained a constant in all of these years: the vitality of Fogerty’s so-called “swamp rock” created with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook and his brother Tom Fogerty in Creedence.

The band’s third album, 1969’s Green River, crystallized the sound of its predecessor Bayou Country.  Both albums have a number of similarities: an all-Fogerty line-up of original songs supplemented by one cover version (“Good Golly, Miss Molly” on the earlier album, “Night Time is the Right Time” on the later one), a powerful title song, a blend of evocative, haunting imagery with good-time rock.  But the songs on Green River were tighter, more focused and more idiosyncratic.  (The entire album is barely thirty minutes long.)  “Lodi” exposed Fogerty’s fear of becoming a musician stuck playing dead-end dives in a town such as Lodi, California (some 70 miles away from Fogerty’s Bay Area home), while “Bad Moon Rising” was the most perfect expression yet of the songwriter’s darkness-meets-light ethos.  The elegiac “Green River” painted an evocative picture of a South that might have never been, but now always will be, in song.

Green River has been issued numerous times on CD, and all editions save the most recent edition have featured only the original nine-song track listing.  The original Fantasy CD (Fantasy 4514) was upgraded by the label with “20-Bit K2 Super Coding” remastering (FCD24-8393) in 2000, but some listeners might prefer the limited edition 24K Gold CD released in 1994 by DCC Compact Classics (GZS-1064) as remastered by Steve Hoffman.  Hoffman himself revisited Green River for Analogue Productions in 2003 as a hybrid stereo SACD (Analogue Productions CAPP 8393 SA) with amazingly crisp sound or a 180-gram vinyl LP.  Green River was also included in full on the 2001 box set Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy 6CCRCD-4434-2) with the 20-bit “K2” sound.  Fantasy, under the new ownership of Concord Records, mended fences with John Fogerty after his clashes with former label boss Saul Zaentz, and issued definitive 40th Anniversary Editions of the Creedence catalogue.  Green River (FAN-30878, 2008) was expanded by five bonus tracks: two instrumental test tracks recorded prior to the sessions which yielded the album (“Broken Spoke Shuffle” and “Glory Be”) and three live renditions (“Bad Moon Rising” from Berlin on September 16, 1971, “Green River/Suzie Q” from Stockholm on September 21, 1971 and “Lodi” from Hamburg on September 17, 1971).

94. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970)

If Miles Davis’ groundbreaking work with his Second Great Quintet was far-removed from his early bebop days, or his Gil Evans-arranged orchestral albums, nothing could have prepared listeners fully for 1970’s Bitches Brew.  On this sprawling double album, Davis embraced electric instrumentation and an improvised rock spirit that wouldn’t have fazed fans of Jimi Hendrix.  The gambit paid off when Bitches picked up Grammy Awards and gold records.  Entirely self-composed by Davis with the exception of Joe Zawinul’s “Pharoah’s Dance” and Wayne Shorter’s “Sanctuary,” Bitches Brew featured use of the studio itself as a musical instrument, with its lengthy tracks spliced and edited to their final form.  Davis’ trumpet playing had become more aggressive and he shares the solo spotlight with the soprano saxophone of Shorter.   Tracks featured up to 12 musicians playing at any time, including Zawinul,  Shorter, Ron Carter, Airto Moreira, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Don Alias, Bennie Maupin, Larry Young, and Lenny White.  Bitches Brew is a landmark recording not simply in jazz-rock or fusion, but in jazz itself, inspiring countless imitators and proving that Davis circa 1970 remained a restlessly inventive artist who refused to be relegated to music’s back pages.  Critical reaction was divided as to Davis’ polarizing, innovative new style, and the album is still much-discussed today.

Much like Davis’ 1959 modal jazz breakthrough Kind of Blue, Bitches Brew has been reissued with great frequency.  Early CD issues (such as Columbia C2K 40577 under the “CBS Jazz Masterpieces” banner) replicated the original 6-song track listing, while Legacy’s 1999 remaster (C2K 65774) added one bonus track to the second disc, Wayne Shorter’s “Feio.”  That track was recorded in early 1970 with much of the same personnel as the core album.  However, the Legacy remaster featured a remix of the album; the original can be found on older Japanese issues such as CSCS 5151-2 or 50DP 703-4 as well as on the 1996 Japan-only SRCS 9118-9.  Sony’s ace engineer Mark Wilder explained the remix as follows: “[The] two tracks [i.e. the actual stereo mix down master tape] had not aged well. So we could either work with inferior tape copies from other countries, or go back to the original eight tracks and remix them, and so save ourselves a generation. The decision was made to remix from the original multitracks.”  The remix became the norm for subsequent reissues.  Bitches Brew has also been released on SACD in its remixed form as SIGP-20/21 in 2003 and SICP 10089-90 in 2007.

1998’s The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (Columbia/Legacy 65570) is the sixth in a series of chronological “complete” box sets chronicling Miles Davis’ Columbia Records career.  That 4-CD set compiles all tracks Davis recorded between August 19, 1969 and February 6, 1970, including Bitches Brew in its entirety.  At the time of its release, some questioned the curating process for this set.  Outside of the tracks which originally appeared on Bitches Brew, none of the other tracks on the box were recorded during the same August 1969 sessions that resulted in the final album. Some material recorded for, but not used on Bitches Brew, was not included, primarily rehearsal takes and unedited performances of the six album tracks.  This box set was reissued in 2004 with new packaging as Columbia/Legacy 90924.

The Bitches Brew saga continued in 2010 with both a 3-CD/1-DVD/LP Super Deluxe Edition (Columbia/Legacy 88697 70274 2) and 2-CD/1-DVD Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy 88697 54519 2) in commemoration of the album’s 40th anniversary.  The first CDs include the original album (albeit in remixed form) plus six bonus tracks: two previously unreleased alternate takes of “Spanish Key” and “John McLaughlin” as well as the single edits of “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down,” “Spanish Key,” “Great Expectations,” and “Little Blue Frog.”   The third CD captures a live gig at Tanglewood from August 1970 with August 1970, with Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira and Gary Bartz.  The 71-minute DVD Copenhagen Live 1969 preserves a complete performance by a quintet that includes Shorter, Corea, Holland, and DeJohnette.  The Legacy Edition included the first two CDs and the Copenhagen DVD only.   Bitches Brew Live (Columbia/Legacy 88697 81485 2) appeared in early 2011, with nine rare performances recorded at festivals nine months before Bitches Brew‘s release (Newport Jazz Festival, July 1969, the first three tracks, previously unissued) and four months after (Isle Of Wight, August 1970, the final six tracks).

Hit the jump for the scoop on entries from Prince, Buddy Holly and Elton John! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 29, 2011 at 13:35