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Release Round-Up: Week of May 6

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Steeltown DeluxeBig Country, Steeltown: Deluxe Edition (Mercury/UMC)

The second, criminally underrated album by the Scottish rockers behind “In a Big Country” is remastered and expanded with a bonus disc of single sides and outtakes. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.UPDATE: This one’s been pushed back to September, folks!

Philadelphia International BoxPhiladelphia International: The Collection – 2o Original Albums / The Very Best of Teddy PendergrassLou RawlsThe Three DegreesThe IntrudersThe O’JaysBilly Paul and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (Sony Music U.K.)

Sony Music recently announced their acquisition of all post-1975 Philadelphia International Records masters (previously they were only licensed by Sony), so we can expect some more celebrating of all things Gamble, Huff and so on – starting with a 20-disc box set of some the best albums on the label and some new U.K.-exclusive compilations for PIR’s biggest artists.

Philadelphia International: The Collection (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)
Amazon U.K.: The IntrudersHarold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The O’Jays, Billy PaulTeddy PendergrassLou RawlsThe Three Degrees

Gloria GaynorGene Chandler, Get Down / Gloria Gaynor, Gloria Gaynor (Big Break Records)

BBR’s remastered/expanded release slate this week includes some interesting finds: “Duke of Earl” Gene Chandler’s first disco-oriented album for Chi Sound Records in 1978 and Gloria Gaynor’s tenth album (and only one for Atlantic), released in 1982 and featuring a cover of The Supremes’ “Stop in the Name of Love.”

Gene Chandler: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Gloria Gaynor: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Message from the MagicBlue Magic, Message from the Magic (Funkytowngrooves)

The Philadelphia R&B group’s fifth and final album for ATCO Records is remastered and released on CD for the first time ever! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ain’t No Stopping Them Now: Sony Acquires Entire Philadelphia International Catalogue, Box Set Coming Soon [UPDATED]

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Philadelphia International Box

UPDATED 4/9 WITH NEW INFORMATION, LINKS AND IMAGES: The love train is pulling back into the station.

Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records, distributed by CBS Records, began life in 1971 with the release of Billy Paul’s Going East on LP and The Ebonys’ “You’re the Reason Why” on 45.  (Trivia fans, take note: Gideon Smith’s single “Arkansaw Wife” – yes, you read that right – has an earlier catalogue number, but the quintessentially Philly track by The Ebonys appears to have been released first.)  The R&B empire, which had built a catalogue of some of the most iconic soul music of all time, continued to be distributed by CBS until 1984.  At that time, control of the label’s post-1975 masters went to Gamble and Huff, with initial reissues (as well as new albums) coming under the EMI umbrella.  Pre-1976 recordings remained with CBS successor Sony Music Entertainment.  In 2007, Sony’s Legacy Recordings announced regained rights to the post-1975 recordings, and now, Sony and PIR have come full circle with the announcement that Sony has gained global ownership of all post-1975 PIR masters.

What this means for Sony is clear: the music industry giant now adds key titles to its roster from artists including Lou Rawls, Teddy Pendergrass, Jean Carn, The Jones Girls, The Stylistics, Archie Bell and the Drells, Jerry Butler, Phyllis Hyman, and others who began recording for PIR in 1976 and beyond.  What does this mean for fans and collectors?  In 2014, Legacy will launch a series of new physical and digital releases created from the combined PIR catalogue including “a definitive Philadelphia International Records box, budget single artist anthology titles, 12-inch and 7-inch vinyl replica collectibles and more.” 

In recent years, numerous PIR album reissues have arrived from Cherry Red Group’s Big Break Records (drawing on the pre-1976 recordings controlled by Sony) and Demon Music Group (the post-1976 recordings controlled by Gamble and Huff).    In early 2012, Legacy thrilled fans with the archival release of Golden Gate Groove, a Don Cornelius-hosted concert that brought together many of the label’s biggest and brightest stars, from the O’Jays to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass.  In 2013, Demon’s Harmless imprint issued a comprehensive (if oddly arranged) 10-CD box set drawing on the entire discography plus rare recordings from Gamble and Huff’s pre-PIR labels including Neptune, Gamble and North Bay and sister labels like TSOP, Golden Fleece, Tommy and Thunder.

The new catalogue activity from Sony starts in May!  What can you expect?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 9, 2014 at 13:21

Holiday Tunes Watch: Sony CMG Celebrates The Season with Bing, Buck, B.J., JB, Elvis and More

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Christmas With Bing CoverOccasionally the aisles of your local grocery or big-box store turn up releases you won’t find even in your local indie music store.  Such is the case with a recent batch of holiday-themed titles from Sony Commercial Music Group.  Just in time for Christmas ’13, CMG has unveiled a number of holiday compilations – and a handful of straight album reissues – for fans of classic pop (Bing Crosby, Patti Page), country (B.J. Thomas, Buck Owens, Roy Clark), rock-and-roll (Elvis Presley) and R&B (James Brown, and latter-day incarnations of The Drifters, The Platters, The Miracles and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes).  As you’ll see, there are some buried treasures to be discovered here.

Bing Crosby Enterprises has released a number of projects in recent years featuring ultra-rare Crosby tracks from the late legend’s archives, and the new Christmas with Bing! is no exception.  This release follows other recent, unique seasonal collections like 2011’s Bing Crosby Christmas from Sonoma Entertainment and South Bay Music and Christmas Favorites from Somerset Entertainment. Produced by Robert S. Bader, the compilation offers 14 tracks including a few reprised from the indispensable Crosby Christmas Sessions (Collectors’ Choice Music, 2010).  Three duets are sprinkled in among vintage singles and rare radio performances, including Ella Fitzgerald on “A Marshmallow World,” Bing’s widow Kathryn Crosby on “Away in a Manger,” and David Bowie on, of course, “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.”   Real Gone Music has recently reissued the late Patti Page’s 1955 Mercury release Christmas with Patti Page; now CMG has delivered the singer’s 1965 Columbia set of the same name which featured re-recordings of some of the earlier album’s music plus new holiday songs.  The Columbia Christmas with Patti Page includes such favorites as “Silver Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Christmas Bells” and “Pretty Snowflakes.”

Buck Owens ChristmasThe late Bakersfield, California country hero Buck Owens has been in the spotlight for much of 2013 thanks to Omnivore Recordings’ stellar release program and the release of his autobiography Buck ‘Em!.  CMG’s Christmas with Buck Owens, produced by Rob Santos and licensed directly from Owens’ estate, includes twelve originals from Owens and his Buckaroos, including “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy,” “Santa’s Gonna Come in a Stagecoach” and a still-relevant lament about “Christmas Shopping.”  Its eleven tracks sample Owens’ Capitol long-players Christmas with Buck Owens and His Buckaroos (1965) and Christmas Shopping (1968).  Buck’s Hee-Haw co-host and compatriot Roy Clark also gets a holiday overview with A Christmas Collection, produced by Doug Wygal.  Its fifteen tracks including such classics as “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” “Home for the Holidays” and “White Christmas” have all been licensed from Grand Ole Opry member Clark.

B.J. Thomas - Christmas LiveSony collects twelve Christmas tunes from Lee Greenwood (“God Bless the U.S.A.”) on Christmas, licensed from Cleopatra Records.  As well as “Tennessee Christmas” and “Lone Star Christmas,” Greenwood sings traditional classics from “The Little Drummer Boy” to “White Christmas.”  For years, B.J. Thomas has successfully walked the line between country and pop, and he showcases his still-strong voice on his enjoyable Christmas Live set.  This collection, licensed from Cleopatra and of mid-2000s vintage, features twelve live Christmas songs from the “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” man, including “The Christmas Song,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Tennessee Christmas.”  A longer version of the concert, with some non-holiday material, can be obtained on CD-R from Goldenlane Records as Hooked on Christmas or on DVD from Video Music as B.J. Thomas’ Christmas.

B.J. shared some of his repertoire, such as “Suspicious Minds” and “I Just Can’t Help Believin’,” with Elvis Presley.  Twelve of the King’s Christmas staples are represented on Merry Christmas…Love Elvis, produced by Jeff James and Lisa Grauso and remastered by Tom Ruff.  The compilation is drawn from Elvis’ 1957 and 1971 Christmas albums plus the 1966 single “If Every Day Was Like Christmas.  On the classic rock front, CMG also offers up a reissue of Ann and Nancy Wilson’s A Lovemongers’ Christmas.  Originally released in 1998 as The Lovemongers’ Here is Christmas, credited to the Wilsons’ Heart side project, it’s since been reissued under the official Heart name.  This edition contains the two bonus tracks that did not appear in 1998 but have been added to subsequent reissues, Patty Griffin’s “Mary” and Ann Wilson and Sue Ennis’ “Let’s Stay In.”

After the jump: we have the scoop on the soulful titles in this series, plus full track listings and pre-order links for all releases, plus discographical information where available! Read the rest of this entry »

Put Your Hands Together: Massive 10-CD Philadelphia International Box Due [UPDATED]

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Philadelphia International Records has turned 40, and you’re invited to the party!

Sony’s Legacy Recordings thrilled fans earlier this year with the archival release of Golden Gate Groove, a Don Cornelius-hosted concert that brought together many of the label’s biggest and brightest stars, from the O’Jays to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass.  The folks across the pond at the Harmless label have already dropped Philadelphia International: The Re-Edits, with 21 tracks on 2 CDs from DJs like Todd Terje (Dee Dee Sharp Gamble’s “Easy Money”) and Tim McAllister (Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’ “Be For Real”), and next week sees the 4-CD box Philadelphia International Classics: The Tom Moulton Remixes.  This treasure trove from the father of the 12-inch mix offers the original seven Moulton tracks from the Philadelphia Classics LP, plus seven rare remixes and sixteen brand-new tracks created by Moulton especially for this set.  But these projects are just the tip of the iceberg where the celebration of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s storied label is concerned.

April 9 May 21 is the current date for the Philadelphia International 40th Anniversary Box Set.  The title may be simple, but the music certainly isn’t.  For this 10-CD box set, compilation producer Ralph Tee has created a non-chronological cross-section of the label’s releases between 1971 and 1995 placing emphasis on both hits and rarities.  Tee, the man behind 1986’s 14-LP Philadelphia International box set, has brought under one package over 13-1/2 hours of music from familiar names like Lou Rawls, The O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, The Three Degrees and The Jacksons, as well as cuts from Dick Jensen, Bobby Bennett, Robert Upchurch, Derek & Cyndi, Elliot Hoffman and other names not nearly as recognizable.  Also included within the package will be a 60-page full-size booklet containing sleeve notes and track details from Tee, the author of Who’s Who In Soul Music) while David Grimes offers the first-ever comprehensive discography of all U.S. releases from Philadelphia International and its related labels like Gamble and Golden Fleece.

Hit the jump for more details on this tremendous project including a full track listing (as sourced from SpinCDs and numerous other sites) with exhaustive discography and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of January 31

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Aretha Franklin, Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of 1980-1998 (Arista/Legacy)

The Queen of Soul’s comeback years, in a new anthology. Check back soon for a review from Joe as well as a Greater Hits from me stacking this set up to other compilations from this part of Aretha’s discography.

Various Artists, Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia Live in San Francisco 1973 (Philadelphia International/Legacy)

A sublime showcase of some of the best Philly soul in concert.

Various Artists, Giant Single: The Profile Records Rap Anthology (Arista/Legacy)

One of the most underrated hip-hop labels out there – home to Run-D.M.C. and DJ Rob Base and E-Z Rock – anthologized over two great discs.

The Tymes, So Much in Love (Real Gone)

The first-ever CD release for a ’60s classic, with four bonus tracks, no less!

Bonnie Pointer, Bonnie Pointer: Expanded Edition / Isaac Hayes, Don’t Let Go: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

The U.K. soul label’s latest expanded reissues.

Metallica, Beyond Magnetic (Warner Bros.)

A physical release for this EP of outtakes from Metallica’s last album, Death Magnetic.

Various Playlist releases (Legacy)

You know the drill on this one.

Review: “Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia, Live in San Francisco 1973”

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No love, no peace, no shoes on my feet…no home, just a shack where I sleep…

In the fall of 1971, Philadelphia International Records launched its long-playing series with Billy Paul’s Going East, and the title opus in which the velvet-voiced crooner spins a slow-burning yarn of slavery.  It was hardly Top 40 fare (Paul would have to wait till producers/songwriters/label entrepreneurs Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff gifted him “Me and Mrs. Jones” the following year) but signaled the dramatic experimentation with which the label would define TSOP, or “The Sound of Philadelphia.”  Socially conscious, even spiritual lyrics would rest comfortably on a jazz-influenced bed of orchestral splendor, as smooth as it was funky.  With the very next PIR album, the label would start a nearly-unbroken string of music that’s as classic today as it was relevant, then: Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ self-titled debut (“If You Don’t Know Me By Now”), The O’Jays’ Back Stabbers (“Back Stabbers,” “Love Train”), 360 Degrees of Billy Paul (“Me and Mrs. Jones”).

Each one of those artists and songs can be heard on a remarkable time capsule that’s newly arrived from Legacy Recordings and Philadelphia International.  Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia, Live in San Francisco 1973 (88691906232, 2012) is somewhat paradoxical, capturing a 1973 night in the City by the Bay introducing the brightest stars from the City of Brotherly Love.  But in any setting, boy, can these Mothers (and Fathers, Sisters, and Brothers) play!  It’s the first (but hopefully not the last) volley from Legacy in the 40th anniversary celebration of Philadelphia International Records.

Recorded on July 27, 1973, the concert was held at CBS Records’ company convention inside the plush environs of the Fairmont Hotel.  Previous performers at the convention included Bruce Springsteen and Engelbert Humperdinck.  Joe Tarsia, the owner of Philly’s hallowed Sigma Sound Studios and the concert’s engineer, recalls in the liner notes that the event was attended by everyone on the CBS roster from Perry Como to Edgar Winter.  (What a sight that must have been!)  And nearly everyone associated with the success of Philadelphia International was up there, on that stage.  Vocalists included Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass, The Three Degrees, Billy Paul, and the O’Jays. The MFSB Orchestra that evening counted among its 35 members two-thirds of the city’s “Mighty Three,” Leon Huff and Thom Bell on piano and organ, respectively. Huff and Bell were joined by a duo of Philly’s finest arrangers, Norman Harris and Bobby Eli (guitars), plus Earl Young (drums), Ronnie Baker (bass), Lenny Pakula (piano/keyboards), Jack Faith (saxophone), Vince Montana (vibes) and other notables. Bobby Martin and Richard Rome, two more arrangers with key contributions to the Philadelphia sound, took turns conducting.

Gamble and Huff considered the evening a crucial one to secure ongoing promotion at CBS Records for their fledgling label despite its already-proven hitmaking ability.  That urgency is evident in the performances.  (Thom Bell was the third partner in Gamble and Huff’s publishing company, and a frequent face at the label despite his outside productions for The Stylistics, The Spinners, Ronnie Dyson, New York City, Johnny Mathis and so many others.)  Hit the jump to meet the evening’s emcee, the one and only Mr. Don Cornelius! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 30, 2012 at 12:01

Vintage, Retro Mixes Shine on U.K. Philadelphia International Box Set

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Now’s as good a time as any to get into the sweet sounds and lush arrangements of Philadelphia soul in the 1970s. 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of legendary writer/producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s creation of a label that set the groundwork for some of the best soul and R&B sounds of the decade, and this year’s seeing a lot of excellent catalogue projects honoring that legacy.

We’ve already told you about Legacy’s Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia Live in San Francisco 1973 (keep an eye out for a review from Joe!), and there are more great titles in store in the coming months as well. One of them is a stellar four-disc box set that combines the great arrangements of Philly soul with the ace mixing techniques of Tom Moulton.

Moulton, the father of the modern-day remix, is about as far from a stranger to Philadelphia International as you can get. In 1977, he mixed classic sides by The O’Jays, The Three Degrees, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and MFSB for the double album Philadelphia Classics. Over time, he was commissioned for a variety of other projects for the label, some of which never saw the light of day past a few rarer promo records or obscure compilations.

With the release of Philadelphia International Classics: The Tom Moulton Remixes, Harmless Records – a subsidiary of the U.K.’s Demon Music Group – has compiled all eight cuts from Philadelphia Classics and combined them with not only seven rare or unreleased vintage mixes, but another 15 extended versions commissioned just for this set. The Intruders, The Trammps, Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, Teddy Pendergrass – those are just a few of the artists ripe for rediscovery on this set. In addition to the four separately packaged discs, the box will also feature 16 pages of newly-written liner notes by acclaimed British music journalist Lloyd Bradley and rare photos of Moulton at work in Sigma Sound Studios, birthplace for countless classics of the label.

The box will be out February 27 in the U.K., and it can be yours to pre-order (for a rather stellar price, given the worth of the music) at Amazon after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 30, 2012 at 10:24

If You Don’t Know Them By Now: Philadelphia International Heads West For “Golden Gate Groove”

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England, Russia, China, Africa, Egypt, Israel…all of the above are stops on the O’Jays’ perennial “Love Train.”  We all know that the train started in Philadelphia, home to Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, the song’s writer-producers, and Thom Bell, its co-arranger (with Bobby Martin).  But a new release from Philadelphia International Records and Legacy Recordings reveals another pivotal stop: San Francisco.  For one remarkable night, brotherly love washed over the city by the bay.  Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia 1973 is a 14-track live set due in stores on January 31, revisiting a crucial night for a label basking in the glow of its biggest successes yet.

Recorded on July 27, 1973, the concert was held at CBS Records’ company convention, and featured performances from the T.S.O.P. all-stars including Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass, The Three Degrees, Billy Paul, and the O’Jays.  But the vocalists weren’t the only stars onstage, as the MFSB (that’s “Mother, Father, Sister, Brother,” unless you prefer your acronyms of the blue variety, in which case you can use your imagination…) Orchestra that evening counted among its 35 members two architects of the Philadelphia sound: Leon Huff and Thom Bell on piano and organ, respectively.  Huff and Bell were joined by a couple of Philly’s finest arrangers, Norman Harris and Bobby Eli (guitars), plus Earl Young (drums), Ronnie Baker (bass), Lenny Pakula (piano/keyboards), Jack Faith (saxophone), Vince Montana (vibes) and other notables.  The group was conducted by another great duo, Bobby Martin and Richard Rome.  In addition to supplying the orchestral bed for the vocalists, MFSB commanded the stage for two instrumental showcases: “Freddie’s Dead” and the familiar “T.S.O.P.” theme adopted by Soul Train.

What did this illustrious group have to prove?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 16, 2012 at 10:14

People All Over the World! A New “Soul Train” Comp Rolls Your Way

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For most of its 35-year run, there was no better outlet for soul music on television than Soul Train. Featuring a diverse palette of R&B artists and the commanding presence of creator/producer/host Don Cornelius, Soul Train has become an institution, the longest-running, nationally syndicated show in American history – albeit one that modern audiences would be slow to appreciate, were it not for the efforts of Time-Life Entertainment in releasing several official DVDs of content from the shows back in 2009.

Now, Time-Life follows up those discs with a special compilation, The Best of Soul Train Live, in stores tomorrow. While most of the performances on the program were lip-synched to the original tracks, a few here and there were not. And a dozen such performances will be captured on this DVD. Most of them stem from the show’s first four seasons, although there is a legendary 1979 duet between Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson on his “Ooo, Baby Baby” and a medley of hits from Stevie Wonder performed in 1991.

Hit the jump for full track details and an Amazon link, and remember – as always, we wish you love, peace…and soul! Read the rest of this entry »

A Little Bit o’ Soul: A Busy Fall from Big Break and Superbird

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Funky Town Grooves announced quite a lineup of soul classics to hit shelves this fall, as reported yesterday by The Second Disc, and we’re happy to follow up with news of the latest exciting releases coming from two Cherry Red labels across the pond, Big Break Records and Superbird.

First up, Big Break (BBR) delves further into the Philadelphia International (PIR) catalogue, dormant here in the United States but also being mined concurrently by the U.K.’s Edsel label. September 20 sees the release of Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’ 1973 LP Black & Blue, the group’s second for the label, with the chart-topping single “The Love I Lost” anchoring a typically-strong set of Gamble and Huff productions including an unusual, jazzy take on John Kander and Fred Ebb’s Broadway classic “Cabaret.” Black & Blue will be bolstered by the inclusion of two rare single edits. October 11 will then bring the group’s PIR debut, I Miss You, which contains among its songs the indelible “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and the Thom Bell-arranged title track. Three single edits and a live version of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” round out its four bonus tracks. This album is better-known by its eponymous title of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, but Big Break’s edition restores the original title and artwork. Both titles’ liner notes draw from a new interview with ace Philly arranger Bobby Eli.

Also on October 11, BBR releases the latest in its Three Degrees series, which previously has seen the trio’s PIR debut and a post-PIR effort for Ariola (New Dimensions) both restored to print. International was the group’s second album for Gamble and Huff’s label, and while known on its original U.K. release by the title of its hit single “Take Good Care of Yourself,” it is restored for this edition to its original name. The CD features six bonus tracks making it truly International: five foreign language versions from the rare Japanese version of the album (including a song sung in French but released only in Japan!) and a great Tom Moulton remix of “TSOP.”

Another singer with a Philly connection, Deniece Williams, finds her When Love Comes Calling (CDBBR0017) reissued, following BBR’s expansion last month of Songbird (CDBBR0009). This 1979 album was originally released on Maurice White’s ARC label, with Williams embracing disco head-on under the supervision of producers David Foster and Ray Parker, Jr. Bonus tracks include two rare disco remixes and one single edit. Evelyn “Champagne” King is another name hallowed in dance circles. Her 1977 RCA debut Smooth Talk (CDBBR0015) follows the label’s reissue of 1980’s Get Loose (CDBBR0006) and includes smash hits “Shame” and “I Don’t Know If It’s Right.” Both songs are heard three times on this expanded reissue, including each original album version, 12” disco remix and the single edit. Yet more names familiar to Philly soul fans appear on Smooth Talk: Dexter Wansel, Bunny Sigler and Don Renaldo, while Teddy Pendergrass (of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes!) actually co-wrote one song, “Dancin’, Dancin’, Dancin’.”

Williams and King aren’t the only disco survivors to reappear on Big Break this fall. A Taste of Honey, the hitmakers behind “Boogie Oogie Oogie,” will have their first two LPs expanded on October 25: 1978’s self-titled debut LP (CDBBR0016) now contains three different mixes of “Boogie.” 1979’s second album, accurately named Another Taste (CDBBR0019), didn’t produce another big hit but carries the same exciting sound as the first set, with both produced by Fonce Mizell and Larry Mizell. Another Taste offers alternate versions of “I Love You” and “Do It Good” as bonus material.

Earth Wind & Fire had much success in the disco and funk fields, and the group remains active today and still a perennial on the summer concert circuit. BBR has unearthed the horn-driven group’s 1980 double-LP, Faces (CDBBR0014), for release on September 27. Despite being released in arguably the group’s prime, Faces has long been lost; Big Break rectifies this with an expanded edition. Faces gains three bonus tracks: single mixes of “You” (which went Top 10 R&B) and “And Love Goes On,” and the 12” remix of “Let Me Talk.”

Finally, fellow Cherry Red label Superbird offers a much sought-after album by a true legend of the soul, R&B and disco genres: Van McCoy. While McCoy may today be best-remembered for “The Hustle,” his 1975 dance craze, his CV was actually one of the most impressive in popular music, making him far more than just a one-hit wonder. After penning singles for Gladys Knight and The Pips, Brenda and The Tabulations, Ruby and The Romantics, Jackie Wilson, Barbara Lewis and others, Columbia signed McCoy for a solo LP, hoping to mold the soulful singer/producer/songwriter into a crooner of the Johnny Mathis style. Mathis had recently defected to Mercury, and so Columbia’s Mitch Miller brought McCoy into the studio in 1966 for Night Time is Lonely Time (SBIRD0032CD). On the September 27 release, you’ll hear McCoy’s smooth renditions of standards like “How High the Moon,” “I Get Along Without You Very Well” and Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” but he also recorded a few of his own compositions. Premier string arranger Glenn Osser, who had worked with Mathis, provided the same duty for McCoy’s long player. Night Time is Lonely Time has long been unavailable; while squarely aimed at the “adult” record market of 1966, it’s nonetheless a missing link worth seeking out for fans of the multi-faceted McCoy’s more soulful endeavors. (His career as a writer/producer has been anthologized by Ace on The Sweetest Feeling: A Van McCoy Songbook 1962-1973 and the label promises another volume in its stellar McCoy series soon.)

All Big Break titles can be pre-ordered directly from the label here, while Superbird’s Van McCoy reissue can be pre-ordered here. Like all Cherry Red titles, however, they can also be ordered from the usual suspects!  Hit the jump for full track listings and discographical information for each title. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 17, 2010 at 10:01