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Ray Charles, Glen Campbell, Chet Baker, Peggy Lee Featured On Soundtrack Bumper Crop From Varese

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Any Which Way You CanVarese Vintage is going any which way they can with an exciting trio of soundtrack releases from the library of Snuff Garrett’s Viva Records label.  Garrett, of course, was the producer behind major hits from Gary Lewis and the Playboys (“This Diamond Ring”), Cher (“Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves”) and future “Mama” Vicki Lawrence (“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”).  At Viva, he oversaw an eclectic array of releases from artists like the Midnight String Quartet, Alan O’Day, Ray Price and even crooner Rudy Vallee.  (If you ever wanted to hear Vallee warbling “Winchester Cathedral” and “Michelle,” look no further than 1967’s Hi-Ho Everybody on Viva!)  He also helmed a number of film soundtracks, three of which are arriving on CD from Varese: 1980’s Any Which Way You Can, 1981’s Sharky’s Machine, and 1982’s Honkytonk Man.  Collectively, these feature original music by an all-star roster including Ray Charles, Glen Campbell, Fats Domino, Marty Robbins, Ray Price, The Manhattan Transfer, Chet Baker, Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan – to name a few!

Music has played an important part in the career of Clint Eastwood since his earliest days.  Though the actor-director has limited his onscreen musicals to one (1969’s Lerner and Loewe adaptation Paint Your Wagon), Clint recorded an album of country-and-western songs (Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites) in 1963 and has appeared in, or directed, a number of films with prominent musical moments or scores.  Think The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Play Misty for Me, Bird, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and so on.  Eastwood has composed the scores for numerous films including J. Edgar, Changeling and Mystic River, and this June, he returns to musicals as the director of the big screen adaptation of Jersey Boys.  So it’s no surprise that music was front and center in Every Which Way But Loose and Honkytonk Man.

The comedy-action film Any Which Way You Can, a sequel to 1978’s Every Which Way But Loose, again paired Eastwood’s Philo Beddoe with his pet orangutan Clyde for a series of misadventures.    Audiences couldn’t get enough of Philo and Clyde, as the movie became the fifth highest grossing picture of the year.  The soundtrack, an Eastwood-Garrett production overseen by Snuff and arranger-conductor Steve Dorff, hit the Country Top 5 and spawned seven (!) charting C&W singles out of just twelve tracks.  The album, remastered by David Shirk, is a breezily enjoyable listen.  Eastwood reminisces with Ray Charles on “Beers to You” (No. 55), Fats Domino laconically dreams not of “My Blue Heaven” but of “Whiskey Heaven” (No. 51), and Johnny Duncan turns things tropical on “Acapulco” (No. 16).  Jim Stafford also scored with “Cow Patti” (No. 65) and Gene Watson with “Any Way You Want Me” (No. 33).  But the two biggest hits came from Glen Campbell and the duo of Lefty’s younger brother David Frizzell and Dottie’s daughter Shelly West.  Frizzell and West had recorded a few albums both jointly and separately for Viva, and took the soundtrack’s “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” all the way to No.1 Country.  Campbell’s rendition of the soaring MOR-country Dorff/Garrett/Milton Brown title ballad went to No. 10.  The soundtrack is rounded out by a couple of performances from Eastwood’s onscreen and offscreen co-star Sondra Locke, a bluegrass selection from The Texas Opera Company, and even an ode to the “Orangutan Hall of Fame” by Cliff Crofford.

After the jump, we’ll dive into Honkytonk Man and Sharky’s Machine – plus we have full track listings and order links for all three CDs! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 12, 2014 at 09:19

La La Land Has “True Grit” With First Release Of Complete Elmer Bernstein Score with Four Glen Campbell Vocals

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True Grit SoundtrackWhen directors Joel and Ethan Coen adapted Charles Portis’ novel True Grit in 2010 for its second big-screen adaptation, one element was noticeably missing: the Academy Award-nominated title song by Elmer Bernstein and Don Black, so winningly introduced by Glen Campbell in the 1969 film version.  Campbell’s recording yielded a Top 10 Country and AC/Top 40 Pop single, and remains one of his most beloved songs today.  “True Grit” appeared on a brief, 10-track album in which two renditions as sung by Campbell bookended eight tracks of Bernstein’s stirring score.  But that was just the tip of the iceberg for both the orchestral score and songs of True Grit.   Happily, nearly 45 years later, La La Land Records has just delivered the first complete soundtrack to Henry Hathaway’s original film including six vocals by Glen Campbell and one by country songwriting great John Hartford.

John Wayne received his only Academy Award for his portrayal of the irascible, one-eyed U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, starring opposite Campbell as the young Texas Ranger named Le Boeuf and Kim Darby as 14-year old Mattie Ross.  Mattie enlists Cogburn and Le Boeuf to track down the outlaw that murdered her father in the western adventure.   True Grit was so successful that it spawned a sequel, 1975’s Rooster Cogburn, with Wayne reprising the title role opposite another cinema legend, Katharine Hepburn.  And one of the elements of True Grit’s success was the score by Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004).  Though he was a versatile composer in any genre, the Academy Award-winning Bernstein became a western-movie legend thanks to his instantly recognizable theme to The Magnificent Seven.  He also had a long history with Wayne, scoring films such as 1961’s The Comancheros, 1965’s Hathaway-directed The Sons of Katie Elder and later, 1971’s Big Jake, 1973’s Cahill U.S. Marshal, 1974’s McQ and 1976’s The Shootist (Wayne’s final film role).

What will you find on the deluxe new True Grit?  Hit the jump for more details, the complete track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 25, 2013 at 14:33

Short Takes, Christmas Edition: Glen Campbell, Judy Collins, Al Hirt Bring Holiday Cheer

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Glen Campbell ICON Christmas

  • At long last – Capitol Records has That Christmas Feeling.  Glen Campbell’s first Christmas album, from 1968, has long been absent from CD, but the label has rectified that with the new release of Campbell’s ICON Christmas.  Though retitled and with new artwork, ICON Christmas is, in fact, That Christmas Feeling as newly remastered by Mike Jones at Universal Mastering.  (The previous, now-hard-to-find CD issue, from the Netherlands, also presented the album with new art.)  Produced by Al De Lory – who also helmed many of Campbell’s classic singles including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman” – That Christmas Feeling has the same warm, orchestral pop-country style as those timeless 45s.  Three of the album’s eleven songs came from the pen of legendary wordsmith Sammy Cahn, two with his frequent music man Jimmy Van Heusen.  “Christmas is For Children” (also recorded by Jo Stafford) and “It Must Be Getting Close to Christmas” were the Cahn/Van Heusen contributions; Cahn also adapted the familiar 19th century melody “There’s No Place Like Home,” a.k.a. “Home Sweet Home.”  Glen also brought his smooth tones to familiar holiday tunes like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Blue Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” as well as Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” and Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains.”  A true seasonal staple, it’s good to have That Christmas Feeling in stores once again.  Don’t be fooled by the new cover art and skimpy packaging (lacking liner notes or any indication of the songs’ origins) – this is the real deal.  (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

After the jump: what Christmas-themed reissues are on the way from Al Hirt and Judy Collins? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 23, 2013 at 11:03

Release Round-Up: Week of September 17

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The Band - Academy of MusicThe Band, LIve at the Academy of Music: The Rock of Ages Concerts (Capitol/UMe)

This five-disc box set (four CDs and a DVD) features selections from The Band’s famed four-night run in New York in 1971. Though these shows would create the live Rock of Ages album, this box instead features highlights from the shows on two discs (including guest appearances by Bob Dylan), another two discs of the complete soundboard mix of the final concert on New Year’s Eve 1971, and a DVD with 5.1 surround mixes and newly-discovered film of two of those performances.

4CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD highlights: Amazon U.S.

Sunshine Daydream packshotGrateful Dead, Sunshine Daydream (Rhino)

One of the most sought-after Dead shows, from the summer of 1972, is released in full on CD and in 5.1 surround sound.

3CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. deluxe version with 40-page booklet and Grateful Days documentary: DVD / BD
4LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Alternate MonroMatt MonroAlternate Monro (Parlophone U.K.)

Twenty-seven alternate takes of classic songs from the underrated British crooner. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

I Robot Legacy EditionThe Alan Parsons Project, I Robot: Legacy Edition (Arista/Legacy)

The Alan Parsons Project’s sophomore album (and first for Arista) featured the band’s second Top 40 hit, “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” amid a narrative structure on artificial intelligence. This Legacy Edition features a bonus disc with all the tracks from the 2007 reissue plus even more bonus material.

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

Roy Orbison In DreamsRoy Orbison, In Dreams: Greatest Hits (Legacy)

A rare example of acclaimed re-recorded versions of an artist’s earlier hits! In Dreams, first released in 1987 after Orbison’s unexpected popularity boost by way of Blue Velvet, was the catalyst to a remarkable comeback for the Big O – one that lasted well beyond his sudden passing in 1988. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Pablo ReissuesDizzy Gillespie, Dizzy Gillespie’s Big 4 / Zoot Sims, Zoot Sims and The Gershwin Brothers / Art Tatum, The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces Volume 1 / Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, The Ellington Suites / Oscar Peterson and Stephane Grappelli, Skol (Original Jazz Classics)

Five titles originally released on the Pablo Records label and featuring some of the century’s biggest names in jazz are reissued on CD; all but the Tatum title have been expanded with unreleased material!

Dizzy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Zoot: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Tatum: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Duke: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Oscar: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Glen Campbell ICON ChristmasGlen Campbell, ICON Christmas (Capitol/UMe)

Typically, news of an ICON title gets flung into the sun; however, this disc features, for the first time on CD, Campbell’s 1968 album That Christmas Feeling. The product line comes through! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Special Review: Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb Conjure Old Ghosts On Two New Releases

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Glen Campbell - See You ThereSince 1967, it’s been difficult to think of Glen Campbell without thinking of Jimmy Webb – and vice versa. When the ace session guitarist interpreted the young songwriter’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” on the album of the same name, the result wasn’t just a Grammy-winning hit single, but the beginning of a partnership that’s survived through six decades. Campbell scored successes with a string of Webb’s songs in the late 1960s (“Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Where’s the Playground, Susie”), celebrated his friend’s ouevre with the 1974 LP Reunion, and tapped Webb for the title song of 1979’s Highwayman, later recorded by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. When Campbell departed Capitol for Atlantic Records in the early eighties, Webb was there with “I Was Too Busy Loving You” (Old Home Town), “Cowboy Hall of Fame” and “Shattered” (It’s Just a Matter of Time). The 1987 MCA album Still Within the Sound of My Voice notched Campbell a Top 5 Country hit with its title song, penned by Webb, and the following year’s Light Years was almost a proper sequel to Reunion, with eight of ten tracks from Jimmy. And when the singer took an even greater leap to the realm of contemporary Christian music, the Oklahoma-born minister’s son joined him with compositions like “Where Am I Going,” “The Four Horsemen” and “Only One Life.”

Flash-forward to the present day. Campbell, in a valiant fight with Alzheimer’s, recorded a “farewell”-style album, 2011’s Ghost on the Canvas (a stark collection of original compositions and songs new to Campbell, all helmed by producer Julian Raymond) and completed his victorious “Goodbye Tour.” But Surfdog Records revealed earlier this year that, during sessions for Ghost, Campbell found time to re-record a number of classics from his back catalogue. These vocal tracks, augmented with spare new instrumentation by producers Dave Darling and Dave Kaplan, form the basis of Campbell’s latest (final?) studio album, See You There. In what can only be described as a coincidence, Jimmy Webb released his most recent studio album less than a month following Campbell’s. His Still Within the Sound of My Voice – titled after his finest interpreter’s 1987 hit – also revisits his own past triumphs in stripped-down fashion. Both albums are nostalgic but fresh reinterpretations by two venerable musicians who have created a songbook for the ages.

On See You There (Surfdog 1-18012), Campbell’s voice is placed out front. It’s still robust when called for, but most often burnished and wizened. The arrangements are spare, especially when compared to the grand orchestral productions of the 1960s, but envelop Campbell in an earthy, dark-hued blend of acoustic guitars, dirty electric ones, thick bass, slide, pedal steel, banjo, dobro and occasionally retro percussion. The result emphasizes the intimacy and directness in Campbell’s weathered voice, and is frequently heartbreaking. It also spiritually recalls Johnny Cash’s late-career American Recordings made under the aegis of Rick Rubin. “The road of life is a long, long road, when you walk alone,” he intones on “Hey Little One,” a rootsy take on the 1968 Top 20 Country/AC hit. He’s piercing as he confesses, “Then I found you, and I found a love/A love I’ve never known,” his age adding a completely new, sadder dimension to the familiar Dorsey Burnette/Barry DeVorzon song.

Three recent songs co-written by Julian Raymond and Campbell are reworked to equally strong effect including the touching “There’s No Me…Without You,” which sounds as timeless as any of the staples that have preceded it, and the powerful “What I Wouldn’t Give.” Their third collaboration, “Waiting on the Comin’ of My Lord,” is heard in both its original outtake version from Ghost on the Canvas and the stripped-down version. As Campbell confidently asks Jesus to “take my hand and guide me to the Promised Land,” assuring us that “this is just a temporary stop for me, ‘cause I’m on that train to Jordan town….,” he’s facing his mortality with a brave and reassuring face.

Four Webb songs are tackled (“Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” and the lesser-known “Postcard from Paris,” originally a bonus track on Ghost on the Canvas under the alternate title of “Wish You Were Here”. Campbell is particularly affecting on a mournful reading of “Phoenix,” and he likewise mines the deep well of emotion on “Wichita Lineman” even when flubbing the lyrics’ “main road/overload” rhyme as “main roads/overload.” Viola and gentle background vocals enhance the “Wish you were here” refrain of the wistful “Postcard from Paris.” A thumping, muffled drum adds to the raw and yearning “Galveston,” as powerful an anti-war statement as any, and one with particular resonance today.

After the jump: more on Glen Campbell, plus Jimmy Webb’s new Still Within the Sound of My Voice!

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Written by Joe Marchese

September 11, 2013 at 10:25

Posted in Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb, News, Reviews

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Classic Campbell: BGO Brings Three Vintage Glen Campbell Albums to CD

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Glen Campbell - Glen Travis Three-FerThe BGO label has continued its ongoing Glen Campbell reissue series by bringing three long-out-of-print albums to CD in one package.  Following the late 2012 release of Try a Little Kindness/The Glen Campbell Goodtime Album/The Last Time I Saw Her, BGO has just brought together a trio of LPs originally released in 1972 and 1973: Glen Travis Campbell, I Knew Jesus (Before He Was a Star) and I Remember Hank Williams.

Following the release of Campbell’s New Jersey-recorded Live album from 1969, BGO has taken a more-or-less chronological approach to the singer-guitarist’s Capitol catalogue, overlooking duets albums (such as Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell and Anne Murray/Glen Campbell, both recently brought to CD by the Morello label), seasonal and gospel sets (That Christmas Feeling, Oh Happy Day) and soundtracks (True Grit, Norwood).  Glen Travis Campbell/I Knew Jesus (Before He Was a Star)/I Remember Hank Williams is BGO’s sixth set for the artist.

Campbell closed out 1972 with the release of Glen Travis Campbell, the first of the three LPs in BGO’s package.  With no new songs from Jimmy Webb and a new producer (Jimmy Bowen, replacing Al De Lory), Campbell was in somewhat uncharted territory.  Bowen assembled an eclectic set of material from Leon Russell (“My Cricket”), Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen (“All My Tomorrows”), Roy Orbison (“Running Scared”) and Tom Paxton (“The Last Thing on My Mind”).  Glen Travis Campbell yielded a couple of minor singles in Ronnie Gaylord’s “I Will Never Pass This Way Again” and “One Last Time” from the pen of The Addrisi Brothers of “Never My Love” fame.  (The Addrisis also recorded “One Last Time” on their own 1972 Columbia long-player.)  The album squeaked into the Top 150, which was a better showing than that of 1973’s I Knew Jesus (Before He Was a Star).

The title track of I Knew Jesus, co-written by Neal Hefti, earned Campbell a Top 50 placement on both the pop and country charts, but the album floundered commercially.  With production again by Bowen and a musical team including Wrecking Crew members Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye and James Burton, I Knew Jesus didn’t limit itself to any one musical style.  Glen tackled songs by Bob Dylan (“If Not for You”), Kinky Friedman (“Sold American”), Kenny O’Dell (“Take It On Home”) and Lefty Frizzell (“I Want to Be with You Always”).  The final album on BGO’s collection saw Campbell and Bowen try a different approach.  For his very next and 25th album, the singer and producer turned to a true country giant.  I Remember Hank Williams eschewed most of the Wrecking Crew personnel (save pianist Larry Knechtel) and took a rootsier country approach to Williams’ catalogue as a songwriter and artist.  Campbell surveyed such familiar songs as “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Cold, Cold Heart,” as well as Fred Rose and Hy Heath’s “Take These Chains From My Heart,” a posthumous hit for Williams in 1953.  Despite a down-to-earth approach to some of the greatest C&W songs ever written, I Remember Hank Williams didn’t make much of an impression to record buyers, missing the U.S. pop album chart entirely.

After the jump: more details including complete track listings with discography, and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 12, 2013 at 12:19

“ICON” is Now a Capitol Idea

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Belinda Carlisle ICONAnother few batches of Universal’s eye-rolling ICON series are on the way – and while they offer a few genuine surprises, there’s a lot, perhaps even more than usual, to shake one’s head over.

The big surprise right off the bat is that the mid-price compilation series will now chronicle not only Universal-controlled catalogue artists, but EMI-controlled ones as well. This is hardly a surprise, given the past year’s big story of music business restructuring that’s leaving the world with three major music labels including a Universal/EMI conglomerate.

But the budget compilation idea is nothing new for EMI artists – and frustratingly, ICON is starting off by covering those EMI artists with more than enough compilations to go around, including The Beach Boys, Poison and Pat Benatar. While we have a few surprises to go around on the Universal side of the ICON list – Liberace and Captain & Tennille are prime examples on the “didn’t see that coming” list – there’s very little new or exciting in these batches. (The ICON entry for Bon Jovi is, in fact, a clone of the band’s 1994 compilation Cross Road with the cover art poorly repurposed.)

The only real boon for collectors is the ICON title for Go-Go’s frontwoman (and recent acquisition by Demon Music Group) Belinda Carlisle, whose set will feature a brand-new recording, “Sun,” her first recording to hit U.S. stores in 15 years.

These new batches kick off tomorrow with five EMI-controlled gospel artists (including Amy Grant, whose biggest pop hits were ironically on Universal’s A&M label). Another 15 follow the next week, and two more (Jimmy Cliff and Bon Jovi) follow the week after that. And they’re all yours to consider after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 11, 2013 at 12:36

Review: “Classic Singles” of Merle Haggard, George Jones and Wanda Jackson

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Merle - SinglesWhat makes a (living) legend most?  Based on the label’s three most recent releases, Omnivore Recordings certainly has some ideas.  Omnivore has just issued singles anthologies from three tried-and-true country titans: Merle Haggard’s The Complete 60s Capitol Singles, George Jones’ The Complete United Artists Solo Singles, and Wanda Jackson’s The Best of the Classic Capitol Singles.  All three titles reiterate the eclectic label’s commitment to reissuing some of the most significant C&W music of all time.

Like another Omnivore favorite, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard epitomized the “Bakersfield sound” of country music, a style rooted in pure honky-tonk.  Unlike the Texas-born and Arizona-raised Owens, Haggard was actually born in Bakersfield, California and raised just across the river from that country capital.  Owens played a major role in his career, though, when he hired Haggard as his bass player; Haggard also would make Buck’s ex-wife, Bonnie Owens, his second of five wives.  The penultimate track on The Complete 60s Capitol Singles (OVCD-57) is “Okie from Muskogee,” the controversial song that catapulted the singer-songwriter to superstardom.  But the 26 tracks before “Okie” (and one after!) show why he’s one of the most revered names in country music, and are much more straightforward than that oft-misunderstood classic.  These songs are built around themes familiar to any country fan: the twin temptations of women and drink, the outlaw life, solitude, the love of a mother, all rendered with the piercing honesty on which Haggard built a still-formidable reputation.

And though misery and sadness do frequently prevail, Merle evinced a keen sense of humor as far back as his first Capitol single “I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can” (“I’m gonna travel all around the worl’/I’ll be a threat to the sweetest girl/I’m gonna break every heart I can/Or my name ain’t Merle!”).  2010 Kennedy Center Honoree Haggard called Capitol home from 1965 to 1977, where he notched an impressive string of hits including many country No. 1s.  Many of the best are here.

Haggard wrote most of the As and Bs here, but also paid tribute to Hank Cochran and Jimmie Rodgers with covers, and his first Country No. 1, “The Fugitive,” was the work of Liz and Casey Anderson.  December 1966’s release of “The Fugitive” began Haggard’s impressive run of chart-topping hits, all of which dealt with the themes of the outlaw life, drawing on the singer’s own time spent in prison.  “Branded Man” (No. 1, June 1967: “No matter where I’m livin’, a black mark follows me…”) was followed by death-row anthem “Sing Me Back Home” (No. 1, October 1967) and then by the bluegrass-flavored “The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde” (No. 1, February 1968).  Unbelievably, “Mama Tried” followed on the same theme (No. 1, June 1968).  Music may have saved Haggard from a life of crime; as an inmate at San Quentin, he was inspired by seeing Johnny Cash perform there.  Clearly, he grasped the humanity of the characters he wrote in song and much like Cash, had a great deal of empathy for those who didn’t always “walk the line.”

Some of the all-time great drinking songs are here, including Merle’s first Capitol hit “Swinging Doors” (No. 5 Country) (“I’ve got swinging doors, a jukebox and a bar stool/And my new home has a flashing neon sign/Stop by and see me any time you want to/’Cause I’m always here at home ‘til closing time”), as well as “The Bottle Let Me Down” (No. 3) and “I Threw Away the Rose” (No. 2).  These 1966 hits could be maudlin or cliché as rendered by other voices.  But the emotional directness of Haggard’s resonant baritone keeps them rooted in reality, with those deep, low notes that seem to have come from the earth itself.

Many might be unaware of the role of Glen Campbell in Haggard’s recordings.  While serving as a session stalwart in the L.A. “Wrecking Crew,” Haggard’s Capitol labelmate Campbell was frequently called upon to provide both guitar and background vocals to Merle’s recordings as produced by Ken Nelson and Charles “Fuzzy” Owen.  When Campbell’s soaring tenor blended with Haggard’s lead and Bonnie Owens’ harmony vocal, the result was pure magic.  Drummer Jim Gordon and guitar legend James Burton also made their mark on these singles.  Their elegant musicianship and the singer’s own agreeable twang often masked the lyrical anguish.  Even the stellar recording of Hank Cochran’s “Loneliness Is Eating Me Alive” conjures a jazzy mood; the Haggard/Bonnie Owens co-write “[Today] I Started Loving You Again” is gorgeously understated.

If the balance of the material on Complete ‘60s Singles wasn’t presented so compellingly, it would be easy for “Okie from Muskogee” to cast its long shadow over every other song here.  The topical, politically incendiary song’s power might have even taken its author by surprise.  The song is seemingly a condemnation of “long [haired] and shaggy” hippies who smoke marijuana, practice free love and burn their draft cards, but in recent years, Haggard has taken to interpreting it ironically.  Regardless of his intentions writing the song, many took its “patriotic” message to heart, and it thrust Haggard to the next stage of fame and success.  The B-side of “Okie,” “If I Had Left It Up to You,” is the concluding track on the compilation, and a much more traditional tune.  How appropriate that Haggard closed out the 1960s with the “Okie” single; how appropriate that Omnivore has left us wanting more from Merle Haggard, posed for greater crossover success on the heels of a rather atypical song.

Deke Dickerson has written the copious liner notes, and every track has been remastered from the original single masters (most in mono) save one which could not be located, 1969’s “California Blues.”

After the jump: we check out companion volumes from George Jones and Wanda Jackson! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 12, 2013 at 13:12

The Year in Reissues: The 2012 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWow!  Was it just over a year ago when a rather dubious report began circulating (that, shockingly, was picked up by many otherwise-reputable publications) that proclaimed the death of the CD was secretly scheduled by the major labels for 2012?  Well, 2012 has come and (almost) gone, and it might have been the most super-sized year in recent memory for reissues, deluxe and otherwise, from labels new and old.  Here at the Second Disc, we consider our annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards a companion piece to Mike’s own round-up over at Popdose, and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible – over 80 worthy, unique titles.  We also hope to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2012. As we’re literally deluged with news around these parts, these ladies and gentlemen prove, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to them, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Play Something Sweet: Ace Taps R&B and Rock Legends for “The Allen Toussaint Songbook”

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What is success? For Allen Toussaint, it’s been a career that’s lasted for over fifty years in which he’s created some of the most memorable music ever committed to tape: “Mother-in-Law.” “Whipped Cream.” Lady Marmalade.” “Working in the Coal Mine.” “Southern Nights.” “Yes We Can Can.” The latter song, a hit for the Pointer Sisters, took on added significance when it became associated with Barack Obama’s 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign. As writer, producer, vocalist and arranger, Allen Toussaint’s stamp has been made on not just the music of his hometown New Orleans, not just on the music of America, but on the entirety of popular music. U.K. label Ace has just celebrated this remarkable career with Rolling with the Punches: The Allen Toussaint Songbook. The 24-track anthology conclusively proves that yes he could.

Rolling with the Punches spans the period between 1961 and 1992, a little over thirty productive years in a career that spans to this very day. Naturally, some of the very finest artists in Louisiana music history are represented here, as most were affiliated with Toussaint at one time or another. Though “Mother-in-Law” is absent, Ernie K-Doe opens the set with his 1971 “Here Comes the Girls,” its insistent riff having thrived thanks to a 2008 ad campaign from retailer Boots and a Sugababes sample later the same year. Lee Dorsey, the original “Working in the Coal Mine” man, makes appearances with “Holy Cow” and the fiendishly memorable “Occapella,” on which Toussaint makes one of his many prominent vocal appearances on this compilation. (“Coal Mine” is here, too, in The Judds’ 1985 countrified version.) Toussaint’s magic touch was felt by the Neville Brothers, naturally, and Aaron Neville’s rare 1961 single “Let’s Live” has been included here. Its songwriting credit was ascribe to one of Toussaint’s most famous pen names, that of Naomi Neville. (No relation to the Brothers!) The Meters played on many of Toussaint’s most memorable productions, and he groomed them for fame on their own, too, with songs like 1970’s “Ride Your Pony.” Benny Spellman, the famous answer voice on Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-in-Law,” got his own instant classic from writer/arranger Toussaint with “Fortune Teller” (also the title track of a recent, Toussaint-dominated singles collection from RPM). And no Toussaint collection would be complete without a track from Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans. She’s heard with “Sweet Touch of Love,” from her 1992 album True Believer.

There’s much more after the jump, including the full track listing with discography, and order link!

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Written by Joe Marchese

December 6, 2012 at 11:39