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Release Round-Up: Week of March 12

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Motown Musical - OriginalsVarious Artists, Motown the Musical – Originals: The Classic Songs That Inspired the Broadway Show (Motown/UMe)

The Sound of Young America is now the sound of The Great White Way, with a new musical entering previews this week. This new compilation presents all the original versions of the songs that feature in the show!

1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

TV ManiaTV Mania, Bored with Prozac and the Internet? (Tapemodern)

Completed by Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes and former band guitarist Warren Cuccurullo in the late ’90s and presumed lost until recently, this experimental concept disc offered some surprisingly trenchant social commentary on an increasingly wacky media culture. (MP3: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Stack-a-Tracks-Digi-with-discsJellyfish, Stack-a-Tracks (Omnivore)

Released last year as a Record Store Day/Black Friday exclusive, this 2CD set, featuring original, lead vocal-free mixes of the power pop legends’ Bellybutton and Spilt Milk, is now available for all audiences to enjoy. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Jamiroquai, Emergency on Planet Earth Return of the Space Cowboy Travelling Without Moving: Deluxe Editions (Sony Music U.K.)

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the U.K. dance group’s first album, the first three Jamiroquai LPs have been remastered and expanded.

Emergency 2CD: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S. :: 2LP: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S. (no pre-order link available at present)
Cowboy 2CD:  Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S. :: 2LP: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Travelling 2CD:  Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S. :: 2LP: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Paul Revere - Evolution to RevolutionPaul Revere and the Raiders, Evolution to Revolution: 5 Classic Albums 1965-1967 (Raven)

Five of The Raiders’ classic Columbia LPs are put on two discs for the value-savvy collector. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Merman - Her GreatestAndrews Sisters, Greatest Hits in Stereo/Great Golden Hits / Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, Provocative Percussion 3 & 4 / Ethel Merman, Her Greatest / Various Artists, Stars for a Summer Night (Sepia Recordings)

The latest vintage hits compilations from Sepia include some classic compilations from The Andrews Sisters and Ethel Merman and a great set of easy listening classics for summertime!

Andrews: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Enoch: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Ethel: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
StarsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Coming Up Roses: Sepia Reissues Ethel Merman’s “Greatest” On CD

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Merman - Her GreatestWhen Ethel Merman opened on Broadway in 1930’s Girl Crazy, introducing the world to George and Ira Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” The New Yorker described her, precisely and accurately, as “imitative of no one.”  She was only 22 at the time, but already Ethel Merman was recognized as having a tone unlikely any before or since.  The actress-singer with the booming, clarion voice called the Great White Way her home for the next forty years with regularity, going from triumph to triumph via the likes of Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy.  Sure, there was the occasional misfire along the way.  But with songwriters like George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerry Herman, and Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim tailoring songs for her over a four-decade period on the New York stage, who could ask for anything more, indeed?  Thankfully, The Merm made frequent side trips to recording studios.  One of her best albums, arranged and conducted by Frank Sinatra’s frequent associate Billy May, is finally arriving on CD from the U.K.’s Sepia label.  Merman: Her Greatest was recorded for the Chairman’s Reprise label and released in 1962 and has been expanded by Sepia for a March 12 release.

In addition to her never-bettered cast album performances on the seminal aural documents of musicals including Annie Get Your Gun (twice, in 1946 and 1966) and Gypsy, Merman recorded a number of oft-anthologized sides from the earliest days of her career onward.  Beginning with an RCA test session in 1931, Merman recorded in the thirties for labels such as Brunswick, Victor, HMV, and Liberty Music Shop.  These sessions afforded her a chance to preserve for posterity many songs she introduced by Porter (“You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Down In the Depths (on the 90th Floor),” “Ridin’ High”) and others.   In fact, Merman likely introduced more Porter classics than any other singer, having starred in five of his musicals: Anything Goes, Red, Hot and Blue, DuBarry Was a Lady, Panama Hattie and Something for the Boys!

In the forties, Merman scored her first – but not her last – Billboard chart appearance with 1944’s “Move It Over” on RCA, but she primarily called Decca her recording home.  There, she committed songs from Panama Hattie to vinyl as well as the full 1946 cast recording of Annie Get Your Gun (a No. 2 success on the Billboard chart) and Songs She Made Famous, recorded in December 1947 with conductor Jay Blackton (Annie Get Your Gun).

Decca smartly held onto Merman, signing her to an exclusive contract.  In 1950, she recorded her songs from her Tony-winning turn in Irving Berlin’s Call Me Madam for the label, leaving the rest of the cast to record the show with Dinah Shore over at RCA Victor.  (RCA held cast album rights and Decca wouldn’t loan Merman to the rival label for the occasion.)  Merman’s album followed Annie to a No. 2 chart berth.  Twenty singles were recorded for Decca in 1950 and 1951; these would be released on CD in 2005 as The World Is Your Balloon.  Film soundtracks were released on the label, too, including Call Me Madam (No. 5, 1953) and There’s No Business Like Show Business (No. 6, 1954).  1955’s studio album Memories was a collection of songs from the 1890s through the 1920s like “A Bicycle Built for Two” and “Sweet Rosie O’Grady,” and the same year’s A Musical Autobiography teamed her with Buddy Cole and His Combo for another walk down her own memory lane.  Her starring role in the 1956 Broadway musical Happy Hunting, introducing “Gee, But It’s Good to Be Here,” was recorded not by Decca, however, but by RCA, following the expiration of Merman’s contract.

After the jump: the scoop on Merman: Her Greatest and beyond! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 11, 2013 at 13:21

Posted in Ethel Merman, News, Reissues