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Release Round-Up: Week of October 21

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Ghostbusters Stay Puft

Ray Parker Jr. & Run-DMC, Ghostbusters: Stay Puft Edition Super Deluxe Vinyl (Legacy)

The Marshmallow Man is back!  The Stay Puft Super Deluxe Edition Vinyl is a limited edition collectible that every Ghostbusters fan will want to take home!  Co-produced by The Second Disc’s Mike Duquette, this set contains the No. 1 hit single “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. and the “Ghostbusters” rap by Run-DMC for the film’s hit sequel, with both tracks on a white 12” single in a deluxe, puffy, package that smells like marshmallows!


Suzi Quatro, The Girl from Detroit City (Cherry Red) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Cherry Red has a 4-CD, 82-track overview of the glam rock icon (and Happy Days star)’s career, including her early, 60s pop sides, her prime hitmaking period, and even her forays into musical theatre!  Joe will have a full review up soon!

Hollies - 50 at Fifty

The Hollies, 50 at Fifty (Parlophone/Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This new 3-CD Hollies anthology, marking the harmony purveyors’ 50th year of recording, arrived in the U.K. last month but today gets its American release from Rhino.

Oldfield Box

Mike Oldfield, The Studio Albums 1992-2003 (Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Rhino boxes up eight Oldfield albums in one CD box set, including three Tubular Bells variations.


Spandau Ballet, The Very Best of Spandau Ballet: The Story (Rhino)

The New Romantic hitmakers behind “True” look back on their career with this set, available in 1-CD and 2-CD iterations.

1-CD: Amazon U.S.  / Amazon U.K.

2-CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. 

Ian Hunter - All American

Ian Hunter, All-American Alien Boy (Varese Sarabande) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Varese is restoring the second solo album from Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter to print in the U.S. with the six bonus tracks first appended to the 30th anniversary edition.  The 1976 album features personnel including Jaco Pastorius, David Sanborn, Lew Soloff, Auyn and the members of Queen!  Watch this space for an exciting opportunity to WIN a copy of this reissue!

Gavin DeGraw

Gavin DeGraw, Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw (RCA) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The singer-songwriter and Dancing with the Stars contestant has an 11-track compilation, featuring producer Max Martin’s previously unreleased version of “In Love with a Girl” and a new version of “Finest Hour.”

Melody Road

Neil Diamond, Melody Road (Capitol) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Neil Diamond returns with his 32nd studio album and first for Capitol, and its 12 songs in the artist’s vintage style add up to a warmly nostalgic trip for longtime fans.  Target has an exclusive edition with two bonus tracks which may be outtakes from his 2010 covers project Dreams: renditions of George Harrison’s “Something” and Harry Nilsson’s”Remember,” and this edition is also available as an import at this link.  Look for my review of Melody Road soon!

EWF - Holiday

Earth, Wind & Fire, Holiday (Legacy) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The venerable R&B outfit offers its first-ever holiday album, with favorites like “Winter Wonderland” and “Sleigh Ride” alongside reworked versions of “September” (yup, it’s “December”!) and “Happy Feelin'” – which this joyous celebration just might give you!

Scott Walker - Soused

Scott Walker and Sunn O))), Soused (4AD) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The sixties pop crooner-turned-avant garde hero Scott Walker teams up with California drone metal band Sunn O))) for a 5-track, 50-minute record that pushes the envelope for both artists.  We’re marking this unusual release this week with a look back at the entirety of Walker’s career in a special two-part Back Tracks retrospective beginning tomorrow!

Aretha - Diva

Aretha Franklin, Sings the Great Diva Classics (RCA) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Queen of Soul reunites with Clive Davis for her latest studio album, a tribute to her fellow divas – then and now – including Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Dinah Washington and Adele!

Billy Idol - Kings and Queens

Billy Idol, Kings and Queens of the Underground (Kobalt) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Billy Idol is back with his rebel yell and sneer intact on his first album since 2005, produced by Trevor Horn and Greg Kurstin!

Annie Lennox - Nostalgia

Annie Lennox, Nostalgia (Blue Note) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Annie Lennox usually hasn’t been one to bask in nostalgia, but here she is, bringing her own spin to such Great American Songbook standards as “Summertime” and “God Bless the Child.” The Amazon U.S.-exclusive edition has a bonus disc featuring a Lennox interview and a live version of blues staple “I Put a Spell on You.”

Don’t Stop The Music: A Big Break Bounty, Part Two

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EWF - SpiritWelcome to the second part of our series exploring the bounty of summer offerings from Cherry Red’s Big Break Records label!

Big Break has a pair of releases from 1976 including an expanded edition of Earth, Wind and Fire’s Spirit. The 1976 LP was a major turning point for the band – with leader Maurice White assuming the producer’s chair following the death of Charles Stepney during its sessions – as well as one of its most successful records, peaking at No. 2 Pop and R&B on the Billboard charts and eventually going Double Platinum.  Spirit followed the back-to-back smashes Gratitude and That’s the Way of the World, both of which went to No. 1 Pop and R&B and established EWF’s brassy soul-funk supremacy.  Yet Spirit’s success is even remarkable considering that the tight (9 tracks in 36 minutes!), soaring and incredibly musical album didn’t produce a hit Pop single on the order of “Shining Star” or “Sing a Song.”

Its title track honored Charles Stepney, whose innovative work with Rotary Connection, Minnie Riperton and EWF (among others) brought a hip and psychedelic, yet musically sophisticated, sensibility to R&B and funk.  Stepney’s completed charts were joined by those of Jerry Peters and Tom Tom 84 for the LP.  The single “Getaway” arrived in advance of the album’s release and rewarded EWF with a No. 12 Pop/No. 1 R&B hit; “Saturday Nite” made a big splash on R&B (No. 2) but stalled just outside of the Pop Top 20.  Spirit today remains one of the most perfect examples of EWF’s art, combining pop, soul, funk and spirituality into a stirring whole.  BBR’s new edition features comprehensive liner notes from Christian John Wikane (drawing on interviews with Maurice White, Larry Dunn and Philip Bailey), remastering from Dickson, and a full complement of nine bonus tracks.  All five bonuses from Columbia/Legacy’s 2001 U.S. reissue have been happily retained, and four more have been newly added: the 12-inch mix and instrumental version of “Getaway,” and the single edits of “Saturday Nite” and “Departure.”  Spirit is housed in a Super Jewel Box.

DM MistyFrom the same year, BBR has a reissue of Misty Blue from southern soul great Dorothy Moore.  The album’s title track took the Mississippi-born vocalist to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 3 on the Pop countdown, crowning a career that had already found her as part of an Epic Records girl group (The Poppies) and singing backgrounds for Jean Knight and King Floyd on “Mr. Big Stuff” and “Groove Me,” respectively.  Those two hits were recorded by Jackson, Mississippi’s own Malaco Productions team, and it was the Malaco label which would release “Misty Blue.”  Moore promoted the smoldering slab of R&B on American Bandstand, Soul Train and The Midnight Special, and three months after the 45’s January 1976 release, Malaco issued the Misty Blue LP.

After the jump: more on Dorothy Moore, plus Phyllis Nelson, Yarbrough and Peoples, and The Waters! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 27, 2014 at 10:27

Review: Sam & Dave and Philip Bailey, Expanded Editions from Edsel

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Mention “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and chances are you can hear that confident, swaggering horn riff that insistently opens the Sam and Dave classic.  Indeed, all you really need to know is in that riff!  All four albums recorded by Sam and Dave for Stax/Atlantic have been collected by Edsel on two new releases, and these expanded editions (including various single sides) add up to true cornerstones for any R&B or soul music library.  But the label hasn’t stopped there.  A very different kind of R&B is on display on a two-on-one CD bringing back to print two of the three secular albums recorded for Columbia Records by Earth Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey.  Liner notes for both the Sam and Dave and Bailey titles have been provided by Tony Rounce, and the annotator is able to draw a line between these early soul men and a latter-day great.

Sam Moore & Dave Prater were actually signed by Jerry Wexler to the Atlantic label proper, but almost immediately loaned out to the Stax label, then distributed by Atlantic.  Wexler must have intuitively sensed that the company’s New York uptown soul stylings wouldn’t be quite right for the duo, but that the Stax team could work their magic on the vocal duo.  Eight of the songs on that first album released in April 1966 and entitled Hold On, I’m Comin’ after the hit single were co-written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, arguably as important a duo as the titular one.  They made equally important contributions on all four of the albums collected by Edsel, including five of the songwriting credits on the follow-up Double Dynamite, with which Hold On is paired as Edsel EDSS 1035.

Still one of the Stax label’s calling cards, the Hayes/Porter single was an R&B chart topper, the first such for the label since 1962’s “Green Onions.”  (Odd footnote:  the reissue adds a “g” to “comin’” on the spine and album cover, while Atlantic actually pressed a second printing with “I’m A-Comin’” to avoid any risqué suggestion in the title phrase!)  The album itself doesn’t live up to the high standards of its title track, containing five previously-issued tracks.  It’s a fine listening experience but not a true “album” in the classic sense, as Stax was very much a singles-oriented company at that time.  One does wonder, however, why the duo was riding a turtle on the cover, for they were definitely in the fast lane, from the greasy “Ease Me” (“with your lovin’”) to the churchy ballad “Just Me.”  Steve Cropper and Eddie (“Knock on Wood”) Floyd’s “I Got Everything I Need” is a Memphis soul stew with a sound instantly recognizable to any fan of deep southern soul – impassioned vocals, languid piano contrasting with sly, smoking horns, rock-steady drums, crisp guitars.  Floyd also teamed with Willa Parker to write “Don’t Make It So Hard on Me,” and the album’s twelve tracks make for a pleasing bag of tunes in various tempi but all suited to the same mood and themes of love lost and found.

The driving “You Don’t Know Like I Know” is heard here in mono, while all of the other album tracks are in stereo; the stereo version was missing an overdub so Edsel opted to include the more “complete” mono version.  Three singles have been appended to Hold On, I’m Comin’.

Much had changed in just a few months by winter 1966 when Double Dynamite was released in January 1967.  The Summer of Love was just around the corner.  The groovy, psychedelic cover art may have been a concession to the times, but the music within was still timeless.  It’s not a markedly different album in tone than its predecessor; “You Got Me Hummin’” is the highlight, but this unusual funk workout failed to make a big noise at the time for Sam and Dave.  “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” offers a more muscular (modern?) sound but the Hayes/Porter song lacked the hook and memorable riff of “Hold On,” the yardstick by which every subsequent Sam and Dave song would be measured.

For the first time, cover versions were introduced into the mix including Sam Cooke’s “Soothe Me” and Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s “I’m Your Puppet” (a hit for another soul duo, James and Bobby Purify).  Though the chorus harmonies of Sam and Dave were uniquely their own, the production lacks the distinctive glockenspiel echoes of the Purifys’ version but otherwise stays true to the blueprint.  But, boy, did the Porter/Hayes team deliver with “When Something’s Wrong with My Baby,” a stone-cold ballad classic.  It barely missed the Top 40 but this song (actually recorded first by Charlie Rich) gave Moore and Prater their best placing in many singles.

Hit the jump for Edsel’s second Sam and Dave release, plus Philip Bailey’s Chinese Wall/Inside Out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 23, 2012 at 14:55

Legacy Plans Artist Collections, Themed Sets for New “Playlist” Batch

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Brace yourselves, compilation collectors: Legacy’s got another batch of Playlist titles out next week.

The latest batch of set, due out January 31, skew mainly toward modern country and rootsier rock (Gretchen Wilson, Montgomery Gentry, solo works by Gregg Allman) with some wild cards thrown in for good measure (R&B from Charlie Wilson of The Gap Band and Wyclef Jean, contemporary pop-rockers Augustana, a set from The Hooters that was delayed from the last batch). In a nice change of pace, a few multi-artist themed compilations are present, too – one for February’s Black History Month and one of modern reggae tunes.

All the scoop on these sets is after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 23, 2012 at 13:33

Come to the Pop Market: Complete Collections Due From ELO, EWF, Cohen, Simone, Desmond and More

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And the (complete) hits just keep on comin’.  Sony’s PopMarket site has become a must-visit destination for many music fans, not only due to daily deals on existing box sets and back catalogue titles but also due to a line of new boxes under the Complete Albums Collection umbrella.  Initial recipients of this treatment were Sam Cooke, The Byrds. Stan Getz and Return to Forever.  A second wave offered collections from John Denver, Grover Washington Jr., Kansas and Wayne Shorter.  Another eight titles have recently been announced, and like their predecessors, these offer an artist’s complete albums from a particular period or label affiliation in mini-LP sleeves with an accompanying booklet, all housed in one tidy package.  The latest group encompasses some all-time greats of rock, soul and jazz.  PopMarket is  now offering:

  • Earth Wind & Fire: The Complete Columbia Masters Collection;
  • Electric Light Orchestra: The Classic Albums Collection;
  • Leonard Cohen: The Complete Albums Collection and The Complete Studio Albums Collection;
  • Paul Desmond: The Complete RCA Albums Collection;
  • Dexter Gordon: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection;
  • Wynton Marsalis: Swingin’ into the 21st;
  • Woody Shaw: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection; and
  • Nina Simone: The Complete RCA Albums Collection.

Hit the jump for the scoop on these sets, including the list of all included albums! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 22, 2011 at 14:29

Giving Them The Best That He Got: Warwick, LaBelle, Bailey Featured on Skip Scarborough Anthology

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Skip Scarborough (1944-2003) may not have ever gained the name-brand recognition of some of his songwriting peers. But the man born Clarence Alexander Scarborough penned some of the most instantly recognizable classics in the soul music pantheon. Anita Baker’s “Giving You the Best That I Got,” The Friends of Distinction’s “Love or Let Me Be Lonely” and Earth Wind & Fire’s “Can’t Hide Love” are just three of Scarborough’s most memorable compositions. The latter went on to be recorded by Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae and Patti LaBelle, among others. Until now, though, Scarborough has never been the subject of a career anthology. Expansion Records on April 26 will release The Skip Scarborough Songbook, bringing together 18 soul classics including rare gems and familiar favorites.

The songwriter/producer/arranger had a diverse CV boasting two No. 1 R&B hits: L.T.D.’s “Love Ballad” and Con Funk Shun’s “Ffun.” He was equally at home with vocalists as well as groups; in the latter category he produced Earth Wind and Fire, Blue Magic, the Emotions and the Los Angeles quintet Creative Source, managed by The 5th Dimension’s Ron Townson. Scarborough notably wrote, produced and played on LPs by the late jazz/soul diva Phyllis Hyman, and another diva to benefit from his production expertise was Patti LaBelle. Scarborough supplied LaBelle with “It’s Alright with Me” from 1979’s Music is My Way of Life, but his biggest hit was Anita Baker’s “Giving You the Best That I Got,” from the 1988 three-million selling LP of the same name. The single topped the R&B charts and went Top 3 pop, and also won Scarborough a Grammy Award. Despite success with funk, disco and soul, Scarborough never stayed too far away from those artists with jazz leanings; he collaborated with Nancy Wilson through the 1990s on LPs such as Nancy Now!, Lady with a Song, and If I Had My Way.

Artists represented on Expansion’s new set include Earth Wind & Fire, the group’s Philip Bailey, Dionne Warwick, Syreeta, Freda Payne, Jerry Butler and Thelma Houston, Patti LaBelle and Phyllis Hyman.

Hit the jump for the complete track listing with discographical information and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 29, 2011 at 09:36

Iconoclassic Adds Three Titles to Reissue Slate (UPDATED)

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The Iconoclassic label kicks off their year in reissues with some exciting surprise expansions of some great ’70s and ’80s titles. The three titles, which have no street dates or official track lists as of yet, are nonetheless tantalizing.

The label has handled a good portion of expanding and remastering the catalogue of Canadian rockers The Guess Who; this campaign’s latest installment will see the reissue of Flavours (1975) for its 35th anniversary. The album, which included the last Guess Who Top 40 hit, “Dancin’ Fool,” will feature unreleased outtakes, new liner notes, and remastering by Vic Anesini.

Next up is a 30th anniversary edition of Raise!, the hit album by Earth, Wind and Fire which spawned a huge pop hit in “Let’s Groove” and the Grammy-winning “Wanna Be with You.” Several vinyl-only mixes will be included as bonus tracks.

And finally, another 30th anniversary edition, this time for the first Capitol album by The Tubes, The Completion Backward Principle. This was the band’s first album produced by David Foster, who’d put them on the path to success with “She’s a Beauty” later in the decade. Non-LP tracks, including singles and B-sides, will be included as bonus cuts.

Track lists and order links are now live over at the label’s Web site. Hit the jump to check ’em out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 3, 2011 at 15:50