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Sumpin Funky Going On: “Country Funk II” Features Willie, Dolly, Bobby, Jackie, Kenny and More

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Country Funk 2Almost two years ago, we reported on Light in the Attic’s Country Funk, an anthology celebrating the hybrid genre of the title.  Back then, LITA described country funk as an “inherently defiant genre” encompassing “the elation of gospel with the sexual thrust of the blues, country hoedown harmony with inner city grit.  It is alternately playful and melancholic, slow jammin’ and booty shakin’.  It is both studio slick and barroom raw.”  Well, if the 16 nuggets on that 2012 release weren’t enough for you, the label has returned to the well with another 17 slabs of soulful country-and-western tunes with Country Funk II.  Whereas the first volume spanned the period 1969-1975, this second installment takes in tracks from 1967 to 1974.

One familiar name has returned for Volume II.  It’s Bob, formerly known as Bobby, Darin, with another track from his Bob Dylan-inspired Commitment album of 1969.  “Me and Mr. Hohner” is about as far-removed from “Mack the Knife” as one can get, but Darin filled the role of hippie-folkie troubadour with the same conviction he had brought to the role of tuxedo-clad showman.  The luminous Jackie DeShannon also crossed over from the world of pop.  The “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” and “What the World Needs Now” artist was an early lady of the canyon with her 1969 LP Laurel Canyon, from which Country Funk II has derived her gritty cover of The Band’s immortal “The Weight.”

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton famously teamed up in 1983 for the chart-topping single “Islands in the Stream,” but both artists were by then well-versed in blurring genre lines – so it’s no surprise to see them here.  Rogers is heard with his band The First Edition, best-known for their psychedelic “Just Dropped In,” on the 1971 single “Tulsa Turnaround.”  Parton’s contribution is “Getting Happy” from her still-not-on-CD 1974 album Love is Like a Butterfly.  Willie Nelson had the same deft ability to traverse the worlds of pop and country as Parton and Rogers, and he shows up here with “Shotgun Willie,” the title track of his 1973 Atlantic Records outlaw-country breakthrough album.

The Byrds’ Gene Clark helped that seminal folk-rock band incorporate elements of country, bluegrass and psychedelia into their own music, and in 1968, he teamed up with banjo great Doug Dillard to form Dillard and Clark.  The duo produced two albums for A&M including 1969’s Through the Morning, Through the Night, from which their reinvention of Lennon and McCartney’s “Don’t Let Me Down” is reprised here.  Another duo, Larry Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, created an unusual fusion in 1967 when they teamed with psych-rockers The Kaleidoscope for the Okeh single “Nobody.”  The song was covered by Three Dog Night for that band’s debut album; the original recording is presented on Country Funk II.  Three Dog Night scored a No. 1 hit with “Joy to the World” from the pen of Hoyt Axton; the Oklahoma-born songwriter’s “California Women” from his Joy to the World album appears here.

We have more details – plus the full track listing with discography and order links – after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 23, 2014 at 13:37

High Moon Rising: Reissues From Gene Clark and Arthur Lee’s Love Now Available For Pre-Order

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Love - Black BeautyAt long last, High Moon is rising.  Yesterday, on January 2, the long-aborning record label revealed on its Facebook page that pre-orders were being taken for the label’s CD releases of Gene Clark’s Two Sides to Every Story and Love’s Black Beauty. We’ve closely followed the High Moon story here at The Second Disc, from the label’s initial announcements in Spring 2011 through an optimistic status update almost two years ago on January 30, 2012.  Deluxe, 180-gram vinyl LPs arrived for both titles in 2013, but until now, the promised CD releases hadn’t materialized.  Thankfully, these titles look to be worth the wait and are promised to ship this month (January)!  See below for full details on both releases, including complete track listings and further new information in bold.

POST OF 1/30/12: Some of you with long-term memories might recall our happily breaking the news about High Moon Records back in May 2011.  The New York-based independent label had recently held a release party to announce reissues of Love’s 1973 unreleased album Black Beauty and Gene Clark’s 1977 Two Sides to Every Story.  Both inaugural titles were slated to arrive on June 7.  June came and went, as did 2011, with no sign of either of these much-anticipated releases.

So we’re happy to relate the news shared last month by High Moon’s owners George Wallace and J.D. Martignon.  As of December 9, High Moon was “finalizing the artwork for both releases on LP and CD” and offered new hints as to the talented names working on the albums.  Both albums were remastered by multi-Grammy Award nominee Dan Hersch; the lacquers were mastered and cut by Doug Sax, a name likely familiar to all collectors of audiophile vinyl.  The same care is being put into the albums’ booklets.  The essay for Black Beauty was written by Ben Edmonds (Rolling Stone, Mojo), and Edmonds’ notes will be joined by over fifty never-before-seen pictures of Arthur Lee and the band during the sessions, taken by Herbert Worthington (Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours).   As for Clark’s Two Sides, his biographer John Einarson has provided the new essay.  High Moon will include more never-seen photography, this time by Ed Caraeef from the original album photo session.

Both discs will be packaged in hardbound eco-books for the CDs, while the 180-gram LPs will be housed in tip-on jackets with full-color, 11″x 11″ magazine-style inserts.  For much more on High Moon Records, including track listings and discographical info for these two albums, hit the jump for the salient details! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 3, 2014 at 10:29

Omnivore Unveils Colorful Black Friday Slate with Van Zandt, Clark, Kovacs

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Here at Second Disc HQ, we know that we can count on Omnivore Recordings for some of the most colorful and fun releases for Record Store Day’s Back to Black Friday shopping event!  On the day after Thanksgiving, you might find yourself at your local indie record store to pick up one of Omnivore’s three Black Friday collectibles.  As usual, it’s a diverse trio, with releases from two late troubadours – Townes Van Zandt and Gene Clark – and one legendary late comedian, Ernie Kovacs.

Omnivore Black Friday 2013This past March, Omnivore unveiled The White Light Demos from The Byrds’ Gene Clark, which traced the development of the music that was released on Clark’s August 1971 LP for A&M Records, White LightFor Back to Black Friday, The White Light Demos arrives as a limited edition orange vinyl pressing.  Clark’s second post-Byrds solo record, White Light was a rootsy collection of intensely personal, and frequently transcendent, music.  Of the twelve demos on Omnivore’s release, six (“White Light,” “For A Spanish Guitar,” “Where My Love Lies Asleep,” “The Virgin” “Because Of You,” and “With Tomorrow”) appeared in final form on White Light. Two (“Opening Day” and “Winter”) appeared in final form as bonus tracks on A&M’s 2002 CD reissue of the album. One track (”Here Tonight”) is an alternate version of a song that appeared on the Flying Burrito Brothers compilation Close Up The Honky Tonks.  The remaining trio of songs (“For No One,” “Please Mr. Freud” and “Jimmy Christ”) had never been issued previously in any form prior to Omnivore’s CD release.  This is the first appearance of The White Light Demos on vinyl.

After the jump: what’s coming from Townes Van Zandt and Ernie Kovacs? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 29, 2013 at 13:28

Release Round-Up: Week of March 26

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Stephen Stills - Carry OnStephen Stills, Carry On (Rhino)

The “S” in “CSNY” finally gets his own career-spanning box set, a four-disc affair with a couple dozen rare and unreleased tracks and a whole lot of great songs to boot. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Gene Clark - Here TonightGene Clark, Here Tonight: The White Light Demos (Omnivore)

A dozen tracks of early ’70s demos from the former Byrd, which laid the framework for his first album of that decade. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Maiden EnglandIron Maiden, Maiden England ’88 (UMe)

A quarter-century after Maiden toured behind Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, the original concert video chronicling the tour has been painstakingly remastered and expanded with unreleased performances and treasures from the band’s video vault. A double-disc presentation of the concert is also available on CD and vinyl.

2DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Steve Forbert - JackrabbitSteve Forbert, Alive on Arrival/Jackrabbit Slim: Special Anniversary Edition (Blue Corn Music)

This two-disc set expands the first two albums by the “Romeo’s Tune” troubadour with unreleased outtakes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Wendy and LIsaWendy & Lisa, Wendy & Lisa: Expanded Edition (Cherry Pop)

Prince may have split up The Revolution, but this 1987 debut LP from two of his most famous collaborators is worth your time. U.K. label Cherry Pop appends a few bonus remixes and new liner notes on this version. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Electric Music For The Mind And BodyCountry Joe & The Fish, Electric Music for the Mind and Body (Ace)

Not only available for the first time on CD, but available for the first time since its original release: the original mono and stereo mixes of San Francisco’s first psychedelic long-player on two discs. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Tandyn Almer - Along ComesTandyn Almer, Along Comes Tandyn (Sundazed)

He penned “Along Comes Mary” for The Association and collaborated with Brian Wilson, but the late Tandyn Almer is only now getting his due with the premiere commercial release of this 1967 demo LP pressed to turn artists on to his precious pop.

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

The Fantastic Expedition of Gene Clark: Omnivore Unveils Previously Unheard Demos from Late Byrd

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Gene Clark - Here TonightThough Gene Clark first made his mark as an original member of The Byrds, where he penned such classic folk-rock songs as “Feel a Whole Lot Better,” he left behind as rich a legacy as a solo artist as he did with The Byrds.  Clark’s tenure as a Byrd wasn’t a long one; though the group rose to prominence with its 1965 Columbia debut Mr. Tambourine Man, Clark left the band in early 1966 amid interpersonal strife and a dislike of touring.   He re-emerged quickly on a 1967 Columbia set with The Gosdin Brothers, and followed that LP up as one-half of Dillard and Clark for two albums with Doug Dillard in 1968 and 1969.  It wasn’t until 1971, though, that Gene Clark made his proper solo debut with White Light on the A&M label.  Now, Omnivore Recordings is readying a release that will fill in the gap between the final Dillard and Clark record and White LightHere Tonight: The White Light Demos, due on March 26, traces the development of the compositions that were released on White Light in August 1971.

By early 1970, Gene Clark had left the bustle of Los Angeles for the wide open spaces of Little River, Calif., near Mendocino, with his girlfriend and soon to be wife, Carlie McCummings, in tow.  Clark, a true pioneer of the folk-rock genre, had been gravitating in a more roots-based direction (as had his old band The Byrds) and swore off the electric guitar as he began to compose his latest set of songs.  “There was no deadline,” says McCummings. “He wasn’t under any pressure. And as a result, the songs just flowed out of him. The lyrics were so pure. They don’t come out of any manufactured experience.”

Of the twelve demo tracks on the new release, six (“White Light,” “For A Spanish Guitar,” “Where My Love Lies Asleep,” “The Virgin” “Because Of You,” and “With Tomorrow”) appeared in final form on White Light. Two (“Opening Day” and “Winter”) appeared in final form as bonus tracks on A&M’s 2002 reissue of the album. One track (”Here Tonight”) is an alternate version of a song that appeared on the Flying Burrito Brothers compilation Close Up The Honky Tonks.  The remaining trio of songs (“For No One,” “Please Mr. Freud” and “Jimmy Christ”) have never been issued previously in any form. Liner notes are by John Einarson, author of the 2005 Clark biography Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of Gene Clark.

There’s more on Gene Clark, including the track listing for The White Light Demos and a pre-order link, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 7, 2013 at 10:15

A Whole Lot Better: Sundazed Announces Singles Slate for Record Store Day

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Sundazed Records, one of our favorite independent catalogue labels, has announced their exclusive titles for Record Store Day.

This year, the label has prepped some killer cuts from some of the best ’60s folk and garage-rock ensembles – including a few rare tracks making vinyl debuts and even some unreleased treasures.

The late, great Gene Clark is the standout artist in the batch, with a three appearances on Record Store Day – one with Doug Dillard (in which two non-LP A-sides are released on one vinyl platter) and two with The Byrds (a single with two alternate takes from the Mr. Tambourine Man sessions, and one, credited as a solo single, featuring two tracks cut with the band in 1970 before the band officially reunited three years later.)

Elsewhere, outtakes and rarities from Paul Revere & The Raiders, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Blues Magoos, Chocolate Watch Band and The Blues Project make appearances on vinyl singles.

In true collectible fashion, each single features a period-accurate label (from A&M, Verve Folkways, Tower and Columbia Records). Additionally, the Byrds and Raiders singles will be colored vinyl releases.

Hit the jump to check out the Sundazed slate, and as always, keep it here for more Record Store Day news!

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 14, 2012 at 16:31