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Hi-Rez Round-Up: Audio Fidelity Plans Clapton, Butterfield Reissues; Mobile Fidelity Does Sinatra, Chicago, Hall and Oates

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Clapton - Behind the SunAll that glitters is not (necessarily) gold.  Two of the U.S.’ preeminent audiophile labels, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab and Audio Fidelity – the latter a successor to DCC Compact Classics – made their name on Gold CDs, and have in recent years made the gradual change to hybrid stereo SACDs.  These discs, playable on all CD players in standard CD quality, are remastered to the same high standard as the gold releases but also give consumers with SACD playback capabilities the opportunity to listen in high-resolution, superior-to-CD sound.   Both Mobile Fidelity and Audio Fidelity have been busy in 2014.  The former label has released, or will release, hybrid SACDs from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Chicago, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Los Lobos and Daryl Hall and John Oates; the latter label has just offered titles from Heart, Jon Anderson, Alice Cooper and Peter, Paul and Mary, and has announced forthcoming releases from The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Eric Clapton.

Though Mobile Fidelity has made the gradual switch to the SACD format, Audio Fidelity has recently issued a statement confirming that the label will no longer manufacture 24K Gold CDs.  Label founder Marshall Blonstein has written in an email to subscribers of AF’s limited edition series that “as many of you know, over the past months we have had many delays with our 24K release schedule. Primarily it’s been due to the inability of our manufacturer to secure the gold target necessary to make 24K discs.  Since 2013, we’ve responded to the encouragement of many of our fans and friends by converting to the Hybrid SACD format.”

Blonstein continues, “Though it’s possible in the future we could release 24K titles, it’s not likely.  We’ve made this decision after a lot of thought and realistic evaluation of market conditions – our 24K manufacturer is unable to assure us that in the future they would be able to deliver the product you expect and we demand.  Meanwhile, we’re having a great run with our Hybrid SACD titles, our brand remains intact and our unique and appealing slipcase packaging remains consistent with our tradition.

So, it is with great sadness we are informing you that we will leave an old friend, our 24K Gold disc behind, but with also with great joy, knowing that we are moving forward with a much more consistent and broadly appealing format.”

After the jump, we’ll take a look at the recent release slate from both Audio Fidelity and Mobile Fidelity! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of September 10

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Clash - Sound SystemThe Clash, Sound System Hits Back / 5 Studio Album Box Set (Columbia/Sony Music/Legacy)

Coming from the U.K., a new double-disc Clash compilation, a simple box of the band’s classic albums in new mini-LP packaging (The Clash (U.K.), Give ‘Em Enough RopeLondon Calling, Sandinista! and Combat Rock) and a deluxe swag-filled set featuring those five albums, three discs of non-LP tracks and unreleased rarities and a DVD full of more rare treats.

Hits Back (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Hits Back (3LP): Amazon U.K.
5 Studio Album Box Set (CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
5 Studio Album Box Set (LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Sound SystemAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Hall and Oates - No Goodbyes (H&Ode)Daryl Hall & John Oates, No Goodbyes (Wounded Bird)

When the famed soul-pop duo split from Atlantic for RCA, this compilation (featuring tracks from their three LPs for the label plus three unreleased recordings) was released to capitalize on their newfound fame. This reissue is actually its first time on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Back to BoomtownThe Boomtown Rats, Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits (Universal U.K.)

Bob Geldof’s reunited Irish punk band, set to tour this winter, returns with a new 16-track compilation with two brand-new tunes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

September 10, 2013 at 08:28

Can’t Stop the Music: Hall and Oates’ “No Goodbyes” Arrives on CD

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Hall and Oates - No Goodbyes (H&Ode)John Oates, the famously mustachioed half of the legendary blue-eyed soul duo Hall and Oates, once described their tenure at Atlantic Records as “three steps towards finding a sound. Whole Oats had a folksiness to it, Abandoned Luncheonette started combining acoustic folk with a little bit of funk, and War Babies was our more adventurous rock ‘n’ roll side.” He keenly observed of these early records with Daryl Hall that “the albums that followed drew on all of those elements.” So, when Hall and Oates began to score hits at RCA with 1976’s “Sara Smile,” Atlantic didn’t wish to be left out in the cold. In February 1977, the label issued No Goodbyes, a 10-track “best-of” drawing on all three Atlantic LPs and three previously unreleased recordings. No Goodbyes languished for years without a reissue. It was first superseded by Rhino’s 21-track The Atlantic Collection (1996) which contained all but one of its tracks (“Love You Like a Brother,” one of the three new songs). Then, “Love You” finally appeared on CD via Legacy’s indispensable 2009 box set Do What You Want, Be What You Are, and the entirety of the released Atlantic output was issued on Edsel’s 2011 The Atlantic Albums…Plus. But Wounded Bird Records is counting on some fans – and H&O completists – fondly remembering No Goodbyes. It’s bringing the original compilation to domestic CD for the first time on September 10.

In addition to its three unique tracks (“It’s Uncanny,” “Love You Like a Brother” and “I Want to Know You for a Long Time”), No Goodbyes reprises one track from the duo’s 1972 debut Whole Oats (“Lilly (Are You Happy)”), three from the 1973 classic Abandoned Luncheonette (“Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song),” “She’s Gone” and “When the Morning Comes”) and another three from the 1974 Todd Rundgren-helmed War Babies (“’70s Scenario,” “Beanie G and the Rose Tattoo” and “Can’t Stop the Music (He Played It Much Too Long)”).

We’ll take a closer look after the jump! Plus: the full track listing with discography, and a pre-order link!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 25, 2013 at 08:30

Whole Hall and Oates: Famed Duo’s Complete Atlantic Years Collected

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Daryl Hall and John Oates made their first significant dent on the pop charts with 1976’s “Sara Smile,” released on RCA Records. “Rich Girl” followed as their first No. 1 single in 1977, and a few short years later, they were proclaimed the most successful duo in rock history thanks to an amazing string of ubiquitous pop singles: “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” “Maneater,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” and so on. But those who only know Hall and Oates from those remarkable 1980s productions only know one part of the story. Edsel Records is more than happy to fill you in, however. The U.K. label plans the July 25 release of a 3-LPs-on-2-CDs package bringing together all three of the duo’s Atlantic albums, Whole Oats (1972), Abandoned Luncheonette (1973) and War Babies (1974). But that’s not all. Edsel is including all three songs unique to 1977’s “best-of” No Goodbyes as well as one Whole Oats outtake which previously was only available on Rhino’s single disc compilation The Atlantic Collection. These 34 tracks add up to the most complete overview yet of the team’s Atlantic tenure.

John Oates has described the three albums collected here as “three steps towards finding a sound. Whole Oats had a folksiness to it, Abandoned Luncheonette started combining acoustic folk with a little bit of funk, and War Babies was our more adventurous rock ‘n’ roll side. The albums that followed drew on all of those elements.” Indeed, each album has its own identity that recalls part of the magic Hall and Oates formula. Whole Oats was produced by Arif Mardin, who also contributed string, horn and woodwind arrangements for the Philadelphia duo’s early songs. (Some of the Whole Oats tracks had been previously recorded by Hall and Oates, and these embryonic versions have been packaged and re-packaged over the years. The most comprehensive release, legitimately licensed from producer John Madara, is Varese’s 2006 The Philadelphia Years. ) As Oates acknowledged, there’s a folk tinge to Whole Oats, and that’s evident on tracks like the melodic “Goodnight and Goodmorning,” written by Hall on mandolin and finished by the duo. There’s, of course, also a pronounced Philadelphia soul influence, none more so evident than on Hall’s “Fall in Philadelphia.” The song, in Hall’s words, is a personal recollection “about how horrible it is to be in Philadelphia,” though he added, “they still play it there on the radio every fall.” It’s easy to see why; the melody and hook are irresistible, and the lyrics conjure up potent, vivid imagery as well as heartfelt resignation: “A roving band of youths beat up on Johnny/Everybody’s gettin’ richer sellin’ that dope/Say, the stolen bikes are gathering by the thousands/Along with seven million people without a hope…I’m gonna spend another fall in Philadelphia.” Sweeter sounds are conjured up on the Stax-inspired “I’m Sorry” and the gentle, classical-influenced “Waterwheel.” “Lilly (Are You Happy)” looks forward to the blue-eyed soul of later years, a delicious R&B groove co-written by the duo.

What came next at Atlantic?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 6, 2011 at 09:32

Review: Various Artists, “Manhattan Soul: Scepter, Wand and Musicor”

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Tomorrow evening, New York’s Broadhurst Theatre will be filled with the sounds of soul. The new Broadway musical Baby, It’s You! will begin previews on March 26, bringing to the stage the story of New Jersey housewife Florence Greenberg (portrayed by Tony Award winner Beth Leavel) and her mighty musical empire founded in 1959. Greenberg, a pioneering woman in a field then dominated by men, nurtured the careers of The Shirelles and Dionne Warwick, among others, shepherding the songs of Carole King, Van McCoy, Burt Bacharach and Luther Dixon to worldwide recognition. Somewhat overlooked today in the shadow of the Motown girls that followed, The Shirelles were the first American girl group to top the Billboard Hot 100. Their music had a direct effect on not only Motown’s “Sound of Young America” but the British Invasion acts that followed. Baby, It’s You! tells their story, as well as that of Greenberg’s taboo romance with Luther Dixon and Warwick’s meteoric rise to fame at Scepter.

While The Shirelles’ “Dedicated to the One I Love” and the Bacharach/Mack David/Barney Williams “Baby, It’s You” will be heard every evening, the hits were just the tip of the iceberg. There were many other, lesser-known performers signed to Scepter and its sister label Wand, both initially based out of that famous Broadway address, No. 1650: the “second Brill Building.” The U.K. label Kent remembers these artists and the music they’ve left behind with the new release of Manhattan Soul: Scepter, Wand and Musicor (Ace/Kent CD KEND 347), exploring the vaults of Greenberg’s labels as well as Aaron Schroeder’s Musicor, the home of Gene Pitney and also based at 1650. Opening a Kent anthology is often like discovering a long-hidden treasure chest, and this compilation is no exception. Kent has previously issued many Scepter, Wand and Musicor masters, but only one of the 24 tracks here has ever appeared on the label before, and there are previously unreleased cuts, too.

Of the hitmaking composers and producers mentioned above, Van McCoy makes an appearance on Manhattan Soul, as of course does Luther Dixon, arguably Scepter’s most prominent writer and arranger until Bacharach (and his protégé Dionne Warwick) came along. Dixon is represented three times, while Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson appear twice. The songs of Curtis Mayfield, Inez Foxx (of “Mockingbird” fame) and even a young Daryl Hall also are featured. Compilation producer and annotator Ady Croasdell has selected the crème of the crop; although not every track is an instant classic, none are less than interesting, most are worthy of re-examination, and some are positively electric. Hit the jump to travel back to 1650 Broadway, circa the swinging ’60s! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 25, 2011 at 10:14

Reissue Theory: Hall and Oates, Extended

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, here we reflect on well-known albums of the past and the reissues they could someday see. Today’s post might be out of touch, but we remind fans that Sony’s not out of time to release a collection of remixes for one of their greatest acts of the 1980s.

There are so many artists who have a lot of great 12″ mixes that are either out of print on compact disc or entirely unavailable on the format. Oddly, some of the brightest stars of the MTV era suffer from such a condition – Prince and Michael Jackson have had welcome if not thorough compilations of remixes, and Madonna is amazingly still M.I.A. on that front. One other perfect example of a dance-pop artist with a lot of mostly unavailable remixes are Daryl Hall & John Oates – at least, that’s the case depending on what territory you call home.

As Hall & Oates’ stock rose from the early 1970s (where they were a Philly-soul duo with pop leanings on Atlantic Records) to the latter part of the decade and the ’80s (where they jumped to RCA and released increasingly soul-oriented pop/dance music), the label began commissioning extended versions and remixes to earn club play. Beginning with 1980’s Voices and culminating with 1984’s Big Bam Boom, Hall & Oates were a danceable force to be reckoned with, garnering three chart-toppers on Billboard‘s Dance chart (“I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” “Say It Isn’t So” and “Out of Touch”). While they still had some hip-shaking hits in the late ’80s, having moved from RCA to Arista, the first half of the decade boasted their best cuts for the dance floor.

In 2004, when BMG reissued most of the RCA albums on CD, they included some of those remixes as bonus tracks. Yet despite a good handful of themed compilations from BMG and later Legacy (which has the luck to have the RCA and Arista albums in their collective catalogue), there’s never been one devoted to those remixes. Granted, H&O fans should rejoice for what is out there, as it’s often made with a lot of love (from 2009’s box set to the rarity-packed Playlist disc) – but a remix collection would be welcome.

At least, it would be welcome on American shores. A year before the BMG reissue campaign, the label’s Japanese Funhouse arm released not one but two Hall & Oates remix collections, spanning all the major A-sides of the ’80s, a few modern-day remixes and both (somewhat rare) sides of the “Jingle Bell Rock” single (each side bearing a different vocal for the song, one by Daryl and one by John). Perhaps one day a similar set will come to light in the U.S.; until then, though, let’s take a look at that set, Reissue Theory-style, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 25, 2011 at 15:53