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Cherry Red’s él Label Revisits Henry Mancini, Esquivel and Piero Piccioni On New Anthologies

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Playboy ThemesThe latest crop of titles from Cherry Red Group’s él label criss-cross the globe from the U.S.A. to Mexico to Italy with releases from American legend Henry Mancini, bandleader Esquivel, and composer Piero Piccioni.

Fans of Henry Mancini’s cool jazz and lounge stylings are the target audience for Playboy Themes, a collection of the great maestro’s music recorded between 1958 and 1962.  This 28-track compilation takes in both Mancini’s own compositions as well as those he recorded by others.  The title is derived from the Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, Barnum) song interpreted by Mancini on his 1960 Combo! album featuring such jazz greats as Art Pepper, Shelly Manne, Pete Candoli, Dick Nash and Ted Nash, as well as the young Johnny (later Academy Award-winner John) Williams on piano and harpsichord!  In addition to Coleman, Mancini brings his distinctive touch to songs by Claude Thornhill (“Snowfall”), Nino Rota (“Drink More Milk”) and Mikis Theodorakis (“Love Theme from Phaedra”), but the emphasis is on his own classic music from the television series Peter Gunn and Mr. Lucky, and the films Touch of Evil, High Time, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Bachelor in Paradise, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, The Days of Wine and Roses and more.  Both sides of his RCA single from the film The Great Impostor are also here.  A couple of tracks are actually covers of Mancini songs, such as the sublime guitarist Laurindo Almeida’s “Moon River” and “Baby Elephant Walk” from another guitar great, Al Caiola.  Brief liner notes round out the package.  You can further explore Mancini’s groundbreaking film music on a new box set from RCA Victor and Legacy Recordings, The Classic Soundtrack Collection.

EsquivelTracks like “Playboy’s Theme” and “A Cool Shade of Blue” are perfect accompaniment for a groovy bachelor pad; and so is the music you’ll find on the two-for-one expanded reissue of Latin-Esque and Exploring New Sounds in Stereo from bandleader Juan Garcia Esquivel (1918-2002).  The King of Space Age Pop made his name on these early records, migrating from RCA Victor’s Mexican division to its American label with his “exotica” records featuring trademark cocktail piano, quirky and lush, often Latin-inspired instrumentation, wordless vocals (like his famous “zu-zu-zu”) and a futuristic sound.  On these albums, he pushes the envelope of stereo separation; there’s even a “Guide to Listening” in the booklet explaining the exaggerated, frequently striking stereo effects used.  Recording in Hollywood, Esquivel used many of the same musicians as Henry Mancini, including Bud Shank, Ted Nash, Plas Johnson, and Vincent De Rosa; Laurindo Almeida sat in on guitar.  This set pairs 1962’s Latin-Esque with 1959’s Exploring New Sounds in Stereo, and adds selections from both volumes of Infinity in Sound (1960 and 1961) for a swinging overview of Esquivel’s early period at RCA.  Standards like “My Blue Heaven,” “Lazy Bones,” “All of Me” and “Take the A Train” – all of which were featured alongside Esquivel originals and traditional tunes – never quite sounded the same!

There’s much more after the jump, including full track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 18, 2014 at 11:20

Release Round-Up: Week of November 17

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Henry Mancini - Classic Collection

Henry Mancini, The Classic Soundtrack Collection (RCA/Legacy) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Classic Soundtrack Collection features 18 of Mancini’s most memorable soundtrack albums for RCA, Columbia and Epic Records on nine CDs, spanning the period between 1960’s High Time and 1978’s Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, and adds bonus material from vocalists including Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams and, on a previously unreleased track, Julie Andrews.

Mathis - Global Box Set

Johnny Mathis, The Global Albums Collection (Legacy) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

A Columbia artist since 1956, Johnny Mathis departed his label home just once – recording some eleven albums (ten of which were released) under the imprimatur of his own Global Records production company between 1963 and 1967, at which time he returned to Columbia. Legacy’s new  box set collects all eleven LPs plus two discs of singles and previously unissued rarities, plus a booklet containing album-by-album notes from Mathis.

Bruce Box

 

Bruce Springsteen, The Album Collection Vol. 1 1973-1984 (Columbia/Legacy)

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

Vinyl: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Amazon MP3: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Collected here in one 8-CD or vinyl LP box set for the first time in newly-remastered editions are the artist and icon’s first seven albums.

Bowie - Nothing Has Changed

David Bowie, Nothing Has Changed (Legacy)

3 CD DELUXE EDITION (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

2 CD EDITION (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Thin White Duke looks back on his remarkable career with Nothing Has Changed from his newest single, the previously unissued “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime),” all the way back to 1964 and “Liza Jane.”

Joni - Love Has Many Faces

Joni Mitchell, Love Has Many Faces (Rhino) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

The legendary Miss Mitchell has transformed a sequence of her songs originally intended for the ballet stage into a thematically-arranged four-CD box set which doubles as a highly personal career retrospective.

Beefheart - Sun Zoom Spark

Captain Beefheart, SUN ZOOM SPARK: 1970-1972 (Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This new 4-CD box set revisits three albums from Don Van Vliet and his Magic Band – Lick My Decals Off, Baby, The Spotlight Kid, and Clear Spot– in freshly remastered editions, and adds a fourth disc containing fourteen previously unreleased outtakes and alternates from Beefheart and his musical cohorts.

Wilco - Alpha Mike Foxtrot

Wilco,What’s Your 20 and Alpha Mike Foxtrot (Nonesuch)

What’s Your 20? Essential Tracks 1994-2014 (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rarities 1994-2014:

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

Vinyl: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Nonesuch has two new collections celebrating the 20th anniversary of Chicago alt-rock band Wilco in high style!  Alpha Mike Foxtrot, a new box set (4 CDs, 4 LPs or digital), brings together rare studio and live recordings culled from the band’s archives.  What’s Your 20, the first-ever compendium of Wilco’s previously released studio recordings, is also now available on 2 CDs or digital.

Stones - LA

Rolling Stones, From the Vault: L.A. Forum – Live in 1975 (Eagle Rock)

CD/DVD: Amazon U.S.

Vinyl: Amazon U.S.

DVD: Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.

DVD + 3-LP: Amazon U.K.

The Stones continue to bring their digital archive to physical media with this campaign of releases dedicated to the band’s 1975 L.A. Forum show!

Peter Paul and Mary - Discovered

Peter Paul and Mary, Discovered: Live in Concert (Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This new release is drawn from the archive of the beloved trio and features 13 songs never before released on a PP&M album. Only one track has been previously issued: “Mi Caballo Blanco,” which was included on the 2004 box set Carry It On.

Crimson Elements

King Crimson, Elements of King Crimson (DGM) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This new limited edition box from the prog legends houses a 24-page “tour booklet” and two CDs of extracts, elements from studio recordings, alternate takes, live tracks, rehearsals & finished recordings from 1969-2014 – many of which are previously unreleased on CD.

Somerville

Jimmy Somerville, Bronski Beat and the Communards, Dance and Desire: Rarities and Videos (Edsel) (Amazon U.S. TBD / Amazon U.K. )

On 2 CDs and 1 DVD, Edsel compiles rare remixes, B-sides, and 24 promo videos for Jimmy Somerville, Bronski Beat and the Communards!

Old 97s

Old 97s, Hitchhike to Rhone (Omnivore)

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

Vinyl: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. 

Omnivore’s new 2-CD version of Old 97’s’ 1994 debut  Hitchhike To Rhome contains the original landmark alt-country album, plus a second disc of 12 rare and unreleased tracks, many mixed from the original multi-tracks for the first time by longtime Old 97’s engineer Rip Rowan. The double LP (limited edition first pressing on translucent orange vinyl) features the LP on 3 sides with 6 of the bonus tracks on the 4th. The download card included has the complete 2-CD program. Both formats include rare photos, memorabilia and new liner notes!

 

Art of McCartney

Various Artists, The Art of McCartney (Kobalt)

2-CD: Amazon U.S.  / Amazon U.K.

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

3-LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Jeff Lynne, Brian Wilson, Cat Stevens, Harry Connick Jr. and Barry Gibb are just a few of the artists who have assembled to celebrate the music of Paul McCartney on this new 2-CD collection.  Amazon U.S. and U.K. have two exclusive editions with bonus material on CD and DVD.

From Hoagy To Popcorn: Croydon Municipal Mines Carmichael Tunes, Vintage Pop, R&B and Film Music

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Buttermilk SkiesSt. Etienne co-founder Bob Stanley’s Croydon Municipal imprint from the Cherry Red Group continues to have some of the most eclectic releases out there, emphasizing classic fifties and early sixties pop, R&B and beyond. The label’s latest offerings include a tribute to the pride of Bloomington, Indiana – Mr. Hoagy Carmichael – as well as a return to the realm of Popcorn, and a collection of cool, swinging film themes!

Any songwriter would likely sell his soul to compose a song with the endurance of “Stardust,” the 1931 standard written by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics later added by Mitchell Parish. But “Stardust” was just one of the many eternal songs penned by Carmichael (1899-1981); others include “Heart and Soul,” “I Get Along Without You Very Well” and “Georgia on My Mind.”  So Carmichael is a fitting selection for Croydon’s first songwriter anthology. Buttermilk Skies: The Hoagy Carmichael Songbook has, among its 24 tracks, all of the songs mentioned above and many others.

Hoagy himself was a singer-songwriter long before the term was in vogue, so Buttermilk Skies includes his own versions of the nominal title track “Ole Buttermilk Sky” and “My Resistance is Low.”   But compiler Stanley has also showcased the breadth of Carmichael’s songwriting talent with performances from across the musical spectrum.  Some of the performers here come from the classic pop vocal tradition, such as Matt Monro with his rich rendition of “Skylark,” Bobby Darin with his brash “Up a Lazy River” and Mel Torme with the lightly swinging “One Morning in May.”  Torme was a jazz vocalist par excellence, and other jazz singers and instrumentalists also get the spotlight – trumpeter Chet Baker with his hushed vocal performance of “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” Billie Holiday with “April in My Heart,” Nina Simone with “Memphis in June,” Carmen McRae with a smoky “Baltimore Oriole” and Louis Armstrong with a vocal version of “Ev’ntide.”  Big band legends are represented (Glenn Miller with “We’re the Couple in the Castle,” Tommy Dorsey with “Walk It Off”) and R&B giants such as “The Genius” Ray Charles with his never-bettered “Georgia on My Mind” from 1960, and Billy Ward and the Dominoes with their hit 1957 revival of “Stardust.”  Bob Hope and Shirley Ross are heard on “Two Sleepy People,” co-written with Frank Loesser, which they performed in the 1939 film Thanks for the Memory.  Another film star, the brassy Betty Hutton, sings “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief,” her Billboard No. 1 from 1945.

There are some surprising omissions here (no “The Nearness of You” or “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” for which Carmichael won an Academy Award), but Buttermilk Skies is a thoroughly enjoyable primer on the innovative songwriter who brought jazz influences into American popular song.  The compilation includes an essay on Carmichael’s life and legacy by Matthew Lees, although we must question Lees’ assertion that “the other great songwriters of the era” represented “the more treacly world of stage and film musicals.”  (Cole Porter and George Gershwin?  Treacly?)  Alas, the booklet contains no discographical annotation and no credits for Carmichael’s many collaborators, among them Loesser, Parish, Paul Francis Webster, and Johnny Mercer.

After the jump: the scoop on more Popcorn and a selection of Troxy Music: Fifties and Sixties Film Themes! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 5, 2014 at 13:59

Release Round-Up: Week of September 16

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JH

Jimi Hendrix, The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

Legacy and Experience Hendrix have reissues of Jimi Hendrix’s first two posthumously-released albums, both from 1971; The Cry of Love is long out-of-print on CD, while Rainbow Bridge makes its first authorized appearance in the CD format.  Both titles have been freshly remastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog masters.

The Cry of Love: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Rainbow Bridge: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack : Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

 

CL

Charles Lloyd, Manhattan Stories (Resonance) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Jazz great Charles Lloyd, on saxophone and flute, is joined by guitarist Gábor Szabó, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Pete La Roca on this set premiering two 1965 New York concerts.  The deluxe 2-CD edition, remastered by Bernie Grundman, features new liner notes by Stanley Crouch, Willard Jenkins, Don Heckman & Michael Cuscuna.

Scruffy

Scruffy the Cat – Good Goodbye: Unreleased Recordings 1984-1990 (Omnivore) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

College radio heroes and alt-country rockers Scruffy the Cat return on this new anthology from Omnivore Recordings featuring 23 songs – one issued on a rare single and 22 never released anywhere – encompassing both live and studio tracks.

Galway

James Galway, The Man with the Golden Flute: The Complete RCA Albums Collection (RCA/Masterworks) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

This 73-disc (!) box set chronicles the career of “The Man with the Golden Flute.”  Over  71 CDs and 2 DVDs, Galway tackles both classical and pop repertoire with collaborators including Henry Mancini, The Chieftains, Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, and many of the greatest orchestras and conductors in the world.

Salsoul Christmas

The Salsoul Orchestra, Christmas Jollies: The Deluxe Edition (Friday Music) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Friday Music’s new collection re-presents The Salsoul Orchestra’s first holiday album from 1976, produced, arranged and conducted by the late, great Vince Montana, plus three bonus tracks – “New Year’s Americana Suite” and the single versions of “Merry Christmas, All” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Ray Price Christmas

Ray Price, The Ray Price Christmas Album (Friday Music) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )

Friday Music also has the late country crooner’s 1969 Columbia holiday LP on CD featuring “Jingle Bells,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “The Little Drummer Boy” and more.

BS

Barbra Streisand, Partners (Columbia) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Okay, this isn’t a catalogue title, but it’s Barbra Streisand!  The legendary artist returns with her latest studio album, featuring duets with Billy Joel, John Legend, John Mayer, Blake Shelton, Michael Buble, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and the late Elvis Presley.  Target stores have an exclusive edition with five bonus tracks – four previously released duets with Barry Gibb, Barry Manilow, Bryan Adams and Frank Sinatra plus one outtake with the album’s co-producer, Babyface.  (He’s also heard on Partners with “Evergreen.”)  This edition is also available in the U.K. from general retailers!

Northern Soul - The Soundtrack

Various Artists, Northern Soul: The Soundtrack (Harmless) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Demon Music Group’s Harmless imprint has the soundtrack to director Elaine Constantine’s new film chronicling the U.K. Northern Soul movement that gave new life to classic American soul records; the soundtrack set consists of two CDs (the actual songs from the film on the first CD and other Northern Soul favorites compiled by the director on the second disc) plus an exclusive DVD with Elaine Constantine being interviewed about the making of the film by actor James Lance who portrays Northern Soul DJ Ray Henderson in the movie.  A special limited edition set of vinyl singles is also available.

Real Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini / Neil Sedaka / Paul Anka / Harry Belafonte / Aretha Franklin, The Real… (Sony U.K.)

The U.K. arm of Sony Music continues its series of 3-CD anthologies drawing primarily from the Columbia and RCA archives, adding a number of favorite classic pop artists to a series that’s already 25+-titles strong.

The Real Henry Mancini: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The Real Neil Sedaka: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The Real Paul Anka: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The Real Harry Belafonte: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The Real Aretha Franklin: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Elmer Bernstein - GE

Elmer Bernstein, Themes from the General Electric Theatre / See No Evil (Intrada)

The Intrada label has two new titles from the composer and maestro Elmer Bernstein including the CD premiere of Columbia Records’ soundtrack to the anthology television series starring future President Ronald Reagan, and the world premiere release of Bernstein’s score to Richard Fleischer’s 1971 thriller starring Mia Farrow, See No Evil!

High Time: Henry Mancini’s Film Music Celebrated On 9-CD, 18-Score Box Set

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Henry Mancini - Classic CollectionIt’s been a good year to be a fan of Henry Mancini. And it’s about to get even better!

The career of the composer, arranger and conductor – the rare artist for whom the word “legendary” is not only apt, but perhaps an understatement – has been recognized on disc in 2014 by labels including Varese Vintage, Vocalion, Intrada and Sony’s Legacy Recordings. Legacy previously marked the 50th anniversary of Mancini’s iconic music of The Pink Panther with a limited edition pink vinyl release for Record Store Day (this author’s top RSD pick!), and promised the release of a deluxe box set culled from Mancini’s long association with RCA Records and beyond. That box set has just been announced, continuing the celebration of what would have been the maestro’s 90th year. The Classic Soundtrack Collection, scheduled for November 19, features 18 of Mancini’s seminal soundtrack albums for RCA, Columbia and Epic Records on nine CDs, spanning the period between 1960’s High Time and 1978’s Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (That latter soundtrack received its first-ever CD reissue earlier this year from Varese.) Even better, bonus material – including Julie Andrews’ previously unreleased vocal version of “Nothing to Lose” from 1968’s The Party and songs from Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis – has been appended.

While eschewing Mancini’s television scores like Peter Gunn and Mr. Lucky as well as his numerous pop albums for RCA, The Classic Soundtrack Collection is the most comprehensive overview yet of the composer’s vintage scores. Many of Mancini’s most beloved themes can be heard here (“Moon River,” “Charade,” “Baby Elephant Walk,” “The Pink Panther”), and for many years, these soundtracks were the only available audio presentations of these scores. Mancini re-recorded his classic music for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, The Pink Panther and more in frequently swinging, pop-friendly LP packages that achieved incredible popularity in the 1960s; only in recent years have a number of his true original film soundtracks (including Tiffany’s, Charade and Hatari!) seen release. Mancini’s lyricists on these many albums include Johnny Mercer, Leslie Bricusse, Rod McKuen and Don Black.

In his career, Mancini received 20 Grammy Awards and four Academy Awards. A master of cinematic scoring, he could turn out expert work for thrillers, romances, dramas, adventures, noirs, westerns, and even science-fiction pictures. In fact, you’ll hear many of those styles on this box set, all filtered through Mancini’s melodic sensibility. But the idiom most associated with Mancini may be comedy. A full ten scores here represent the roughly 35-year collaboration between Henry Mancini and director-screenwriter Blake Edwards. The partnership of the versatile composer and the comic master endured until Mancini’s death. These soundtracks include all-time classics such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Pink Panther, of course, but also the crime adventure Gunn (based on Peter Gunn), the zany Peter Sellers vehicle The Party, the Bing Crosby-starring college romp High Time, and the ambitious musical Darling Lili. The latter film, starring Edwards’ wife Julie Andrews, threatened to derail the Mancini/Edwards team, but the two men were far too in tune to let their collaboration languish for too long. For one of the most unusual works from the Edwards/Mancini team, look no further than the chilling Experiment in Terror. Its vivid score – filled with Mancini’s trademark sixties lounge sound yet with an undercurrent of tension – is included here in its RCA album presentation.

What can you expect to find on this new set? Hit the jump for a full list of included albums, complete rundown of the bonus material, and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 5, 2014 at 13:41

Mancini’s Got Soul: Vocalion Revisits Composer’s Latin, Jazz-Funk Albums

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Henry Mancini - Latin Two-FerThe Vocalion label continues to mine Henry Mancini’s RCA Victor catalogue for two new releases, each containing two of the late composer’s albums.  The Big Latin Band of Henry Mancini/The Latin Sound of Henry Mancini brings together the recordings from 1968 and 1965, respectively; Symphonic Soul /The Cop Show Themes combines the LPs from 1976 and 1975, respectively.

The Latin Sound of Henry Mancini arrived in 1965, the same year as Mancini’s score album on RCA for his frequent collaborator Blake Edwards’ epic romp The Great Race.  The composer-conductor was no stranger to Latin sounds; in fact, he had released an entire album of Latin-styled arrangements in 1961 with Mr. Lucky Goes Latin.  On Latin Sound, he only recorded one of his own compositions, a reworking of his famous Peter Gunn theme.  The cover depicted Mancini in front of a map, and indeed, on the album he visited the music of Brazil (Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)”, Zequinha de Abreu’s “Tico Tico”), Cuba (Ernesto Lecuona’s “Andalucia (The Breeze and I)”), Argentina (Edmundo Zaldivar’s “Carnavalito”), Mexico (“La Raspa,” a.k.a. The Mexican Hat Dance), Puerto Rico (Rafael Hernandez’s “Preciosa”), and other locales.

Mancini belatedly followed up The Latin Sound with The Big Latin Band of Henry Mancini in 1968 not long after providing Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers with a swinging soundtrack to their absurdist comedy The Party.  The bandleader’s sense of humor shone through on these recordings which emphasized movie music.  Big Latin Band added a playful sensibility to Elmer Bernstein’s theme to The Magnificent Seven and took Mel Brooks’ ode to bad taste “Springtime for Hitler” in a cha-cha direction.  Though tightly arranged and far from improvisatory, Mancini’s charts also frequently allowed for soloists to take the spotlight including trumpeter Graham Young on Ennio Morricone’s theme to A Fistful of Dollars and Dominic Frontiere’s Hang ‘Em High, and saxophonist Ronny Lang on Mancini’s own theme to Touch of Evil.  Mancini also wrote one new composition in the Latin spirit, “Las Cruces,”  Other composers represented included the great Cuban bandleader Perez Prado (“Patricia”) and Lalo Schifrin (“Mission: Impossible”).

After the jump, we’ll take a look at Symphonic Soul and The Cop Show Themes! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 17, 2014 at 14:25

Henry Mancini’s “Who Is Killing The Great Chefs of Europe?” Inaugurates New Vintage Soundtrack Series From Varese

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Who is Killing the Great ChefsThe 1978 film Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? billed itself as “a delicious mystery.”  Naturally, a delicious mystery would require a delicious score.  To accompany the film’s recipe of drama, suspense, comedy and action, director Ted Kotcheff turned to “top chef” Henry Mancini.  No stranger to all of those genres and more, composer-arranger-conductor Mancini crafted a score that became one of the film’s most memorable assets.  The long out-of-print soundtrack album, originally released on Epic Records and produced for records by Joe Reisman, has just arrived in its first-ever CD issue from Varese Sarabande as part of the label’s new Vintage Soundtracks series of limited editions.

Based on Nan and Ivan Lyons’ novel Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, the movie follows renowned pastry chef Natasha O’Brien (Jacqueline Bisset) who arrives in London to aid in the preparation of a state dinner for the Queen organized by food critic Max Vandeveer (Robert Morley).  Max has recently published an issue of his food magazine highlighting his favorite chefs, and before long, they’re meeting their final fates, one by one, in grisly ways recalling their culinary specialties – i.e. the chef whose specialist is lobster gets drowned in a tank of lobsters, a baker gets offed in the oven, et cetera.  Screenwriter Peter Stone (Charade, 1776) adapted the novel with his trademark wit and ability to blend comedy with true suspense.

Mancini’s score never condescends, from the first notes of its baroque yet sprightly main title.  This cue makes it clear that the film won’t take itself too seriously.  It’s reprised in the cue “The Gathering” in humorously pompous style and again in “Fiery Finale,” which at 4 minutes, 20 seconds is the longest track here and one of the most dramatically action-packed.  Mancini’s cues reflect the European setting (“Pesce!”) and employ the composer’s typical good humor.  “The Moveable Feast,” his spoof of a television cooking show theme, is jaunty and delightfully over-the-top; in parts, it melodically recalls the supremely ironic tune crafted by John Kander for the title song to his musical Cabaret.

But despite the tongue-in-cheek moments, the score isn’t all as light as a soufflé.  “Late Night Call” is one of the cues to best showcase Mancini’s evocative writing for strings.  “Well Done Louis” underscores the death-by-oven of the Swiss chef, and reflects the maestro’s ability to create and control suspense as its eerie, subtle atmospherics build to a crescendo of terror.  The tension -packed “Italian Soup” and “They Hang Chefs, Don’t They?” further demonstrate the composer’s mastery of drama and darkness.  “The Final Feast” is a sorrowful, elegiac melody.

The urbane “Natasha’s Theme” for Bisset’s character is presented in four versions on the soundtrack album, two of which don’t appear in the final motion picture.  It’s introduced in “Bombe Richelieu,” and in “Natasha in Venice,” it takes on a haunting, music box-esque quality.  Mancini himself provides the solo piano on a lovely orchestral rendition recorded especially for the album.  “Natasha’s” isn’t one of the Mancini’s most soaring themes, however, remaining somewhat restrained and appropriately mysterious and tense.  The lush end title version wasn’t used in the film but is the most “pop” and very reminiscent of Mancini’s work on the television drama The Moneychangers from 1976.

We have more details, an order link and the track listing after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 7, 2014 at 09:36

The Second Disc’s Record Store Day 2014 Must-Haves

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RSD '14 Banner

If you’ve been following these pages for the past few weeks, you’ve likely noticed an awful lot of coverage about Record Store Day!  Well, the day is nearly here!   Tomorrow, Saturday, April 21, music fans and collectors will flock to their local independent record stores to celebrate both the sounds on those round black platters and the very concept of shopping in a physical retail environment. To many of us, both are a way of life.  We’re doubly excited this year because one special title was co-produced by our very own Mike D.: Legacy Recordings’ Ecto-Green glow-in-the-dark vinyl single containing four versions of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters.”

Each year around this time, we here at Second Disc HQ take a few moments to count down the titles to which we’re most looking forward to picking up! I’ll take my turn first, and then after the jump, you’ll find my colleague’s picks for some of the finest offerings you might find at your local retailer! And after you’ve picked up your share of these special collectibles, don’t hesitate to browse the regular racks, too…there’s likely even more treasure awaiting you.

You’ll find more information and a link to a downloadable PDF of the complete Record Store Day list right here, and please share your RSD 2014 experiences with us below. Don’t forget to click on the Record Store Day tag below, too, to access all of our RSD ’14 coverage.  Happy Hunting!

Pink Panther OST

  1. Henry Mancini and His Orchestra, The Pink Panther LP (RCA/Legacy Recordings)

On April 16, 2014, the great composer/conductor Henry Mancini would have turned 90.  To mark the occasion, the all-new HenryMancini.com was launched, and Legacy announced plans for a yearlong celebration of the maestro’s enduring, engaging ouevre.  The label has major plans including an 11-CD box set of Mancini’s soundtracks as well as a newly-curated retrospective, but the festivities kick off on Saturday with the release on eye-catching pink vinyl of Mancini’s original album of music from Blake Edwards’ all-time classic comedy caper The Pink Panther.

This soundtrack album (slated for expansion later this year for the movie’s 50th anniversary) was, as per Mancini’s custom, a re-recording of the film’s major themes for the record-buying audience. In addition to the now-famous, sly ‘n’ slinky title theme with saxophone by Plas Johnson (which went Top 40 as a single; the soundtrack itself went Top 10), other highlights of the score include “It Had Better Be Tonight,” an Italian-style love song recently covered by Michael Bublé and performed in the film by Fran Jeffries (and on disc by Mancini’s chorus), and “Something for Sellers,” a great example of Mancini’s feel for what we today think of as lounge music.  Mancini’s “The Pink Panther” is currently the single most-streamed song in the entire Sony Music catalogue – a testament to the ongoing power of the gifted composer Henry Mancini.

Randy Newman Mono

  1. Randy Newman, Randy Newman (Mono LP) (Rhino)

Prior to the release of 1968’s self-titled debut, Randy Newman was a staff songwriter for Los Angeles’ Metric Music, a West Coast answer to the Brill Building where he worked alongside the likes of Jackie DeShannon honing his skills.  The back of the LP, now being reissued for RSD in its original mono edition, read: “Randy Newman creates something new under the sun!” And while intended ironically (irony being one of Newman’s favorite weapons, always at the ready!), it wasn’t far from the truth. Produced by his childhood friend Lenny Waronker and quirky wunderkind Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman featured some scathing social commentary sheathed in large, gorgeous orchestrations by the composer himself. Even this early on, it was evident that Randy learned something from his uncles, Lionel and Alfred Newman, two of the most illustrious composers in Hollywood history. The young Newman was the rare talent equally gifted in both melody and lyrics. “Davy the Fat Boy” and “So Long, Dad” are uncomfortably hysterical, while “Love Story” plainly tells the story of a couple from marriage to death, playing checkers all day in a Florida nursing home. Newman’s unique humor was already in full bloom, to wit this exchange from “Love Story”: “We’ll have a kid/Or maybe we’ll rent one, He’s got to be straight/We don’t want a bent one.” All of these songs were delivered in his off-hand, growl of a drawl, providing a contrast to the beautiful arrangements. When Randy Newman turned serious, the results were heartbreaking and simple (though far from simplistic): “Living Without You” or the oft-covered “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” which managed to be both cynical and achingly sad. A major new talent had arrived.

Bob Wills - Front Cover

  1. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Transcriptions (Real Gone Music)

Vintage music from the pre-rock-and-roll era gets an airing on Record Store Day thanks to releases such as this one, along with other key releases from Omnivore Recordings and Blue Note Records.  Here, Real Gone Music unearths 10 tracks from the King of Western Swing, four of which will remain exclusive to this vinyl release.  These have been drawn from the more than 200 songs recorded by Wills for Tiffany Music, Inc. which remained under lock and key for years.  (Wills recorded a total of almost 400 songs for Tiffany in 1946 and 1947.)  This remastered release has been painstakingly designed after an original transcription disc.  The vinyl is housed inside a replica package in the style of the actual mailers in which Tiffany discs were sent to radio stations in the 1940s – with “pre-distressed” trompe l’oeil wrinkles and wear on the record jacket and a cutaway hole infront showing the vintage Tiffany logo on the vinyl label, whichcontinues the Tiffany numbering system of assigning a recordnumber to each side. Furthering this tremendous attention to detail, the back cover also presents vintagegraphics from the period, and the records are pressed in the style of some of the original discs on 150-gram red vinyl. This release precedes Real Gone’s upcoming 2-CD set drawn from Wills’ Tiffany Transcriptions, and tracks include such songs as Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” and Johnny Mercer’s “I’m an Old Cowhand.”  Count me in!

High Fidelity Omnivore RSD

  1. Various Artists, Live from High Fidelity: The Best of the Podcast Performances (Omnivore)

It wasn’t easy to choose from Omnivore Recordings’ great slate, including rare music from late legends Hank Williams and Jaco Pastorius, but Live from High Fidelity encapsulates the label’s dedication to preserving great music from all eras and genres.  This 14-track translucent green vinyl release is drawn a podcast hosted by L.A.’s High Fidelity Records, and features contributions from some TSD favorites like Sam Phillips, Rhett Miller of The Old 97’s, members of Spain, and most especially, appearing for the second time on this small list, Mr. Van Dyke Parks.  It’s about time podcast performances went physical, isn’t it?

Eric Carmen - Brand New Year

  1. Ronnie Spector and the E Street Band, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go” / Eric Carmen, “Brand New Year (Alternate Mix)” b/w “Starting Over (Live 1976)” singles (Legacy)

Two of Legacy’s 7-inch singles caught our fancy this year.  The label has followed up this year’s Playlist: The Very Best of Ronnie Spector with a replica 45 of “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go,” on which the former Ronette is backed by none other than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  Arranged and produced by a certain Mr. Van Zandt – that’s Little Steven now, and Sugar Miami Steve circa this single’s original release – these 1977 sides are blazing rock-and-roll at its finest.  Billy Joel’s A-side was a stunning Phil Spector homage in its original recording; with Ronnie on lead and Clarence Clemons honking on the sax, it became transcendent.  Eric Carmen’s new “Brand New Day” also arrives on vinyl in a previously unreleased alternate mix supporting The Essential Eric Carmen, on which the song first appeared. Featuring Carmen supported by Jeffrey Foskett, Darian Sahanaja, Nick Walusko and Mike D’Amico of Brian Wilson’s band, this 2013 composition is vintage Carmen – lush, gorgeous and memorably melodic.  You won’t want to miss these.

Dream with Dean

Honorable Mentions go to Rhino’s first-ever U.S. release of Fleetwood Mac’s 1970 single “Dragonfly” b/w “Purple Dancer” and its excavation of the 1968 LP The Birthday Party from Jeff Lynne’s psych-pop pre-ELO band The Idle Race; plus Legacy’s painstakingly-recreated stereo LP of “King of Cool” Dean Martin’s romantic long-player Dream with Dean on which he’s joined by a quartet for his most intimate jazz stylings; and Sundazed’s vinyl debut of two tracks by The Sunrays, the band that Murry Wilson intended to groom in the style of his former charges The Beach Boys.  Murry’s own song “Won’t You Tell Me” features the legendary L.A. Wrecking Crew, and the band’s Rick Henn supplies new liner notes for this 45!

After the jump: take it away, Mr. Duquette! Read the rest of this entry »

You Must Remember This: TCM, Masterworks Compile “Classic Sound of Hollywood” From Mancini, Williams, Morricone, More

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Play It Again - Classic HollywoodOn April 1, Sony’s Masterworks division and Turner Classic Movies marked the cable network’s twentieth anniversary with a new 2-CD collection of vintage Hollywood movie themes. Play It Again: The Classic Sound of Hollywood continues the Masterworks/TCM series that has previously encompassed archival releases from Doris Day, Mario Lanza and Fred Astaire. Composers represented include Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Maurice Jarre, Elmer Bernstein, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone and John Williams.  Most of the tracks on Play It Again aren’t derived from the original film soundtracks, but rather from renditions played by the likes of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Boston Pops.

The first disc is drawn entirely from RCA Red Seal’s series of Classic Film Scores as recorded by conductor Charles Gerhardt and London’s National Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 1970s. It includes three suites from composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold featuring his themes from Of Human Bondage, Between Two Worlds, and The Sea Hawk. Underscoring the diversity of this set, the disc also contains cues from the sensationally steamy Peyton Place (Franz Waxman), the creature feature The Thing (From Another World) (Dimitri Tiomkin) and even the Biblical epic Salomé (Daniele Amfitheatrof).  In 2010, Masterworks reissued this series as it originally appeared on LP, orphaning a handful of recordings.  The three of these “stray” recordings are the Peyton Place main title, the “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salomé and the suite from The Thing.  In addition, the Korngold suites for The Sea Hawk and Of Human Bondage are different edits from those contained on the reissued Korngold CD in the Gerhardt series; this disc marks their first appearance on CD in over a decade.

What will you find on Disc 2?  Hit the jump for that, and more – including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Henry Mancini’s “Once is Not Enough,” Sol Kaplan’s “Spy Who Came in from the Cold” Premiere on CD from Intrada

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Once is Not EnoughThanks to the Intrada label, it was a swinging March for film soundtrack fans.  Intrada has just recently released the world premiere of one of Henry Mancini’s finest scores together with a deluxe expanded edition of a spy classic from composer Sol Kaplan.  Mancini penned the score to the 1975 film adaptation of Once is Not Enough, the deliciously trashy 1973 novel by Jacqueline Susann of Valley of the Dolls fame.  Though it’s positively bursting with melodies both bright and haunting from the maestro, the rich score to Once is Not Enough never received a soundtrack album.  Intrada has rectified this with a deluxe edition containing all of the music used in the film as well as alternates and bonuses direct from the Paramount vaults in an all-new stereo mix.  Of particular interest might be three different lyrics to Mancini’s theme tune.  The first was provided by Oscar-winning legend Sammy Cahn (“All the Way,” “Three Coins in the Fountain”).  It was then replaced by a lyric from Tony Asher of Pet Sounds renown.  Asher’s lyric, too, was rejected, and ultimately the assignment went to Larry Kusik (“Speak Softly Love,” “The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle”).  All three lyrics premiere here on CD.  Mancini’s score is typically eclectic and typically accomplished, with lush orchestral passages accompanied by electronic, rock and lounge-flavored cues.

The second release from Intrada also has a literary source –John le Carré’s famous 1963 novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.  Martin Ritt (The Front, The Great White Hope) directed the 1965 Hollywood adaptation starring Richard Burton, and Sol Kaplan (Star Trek, the 1953 Titanic) provided the brassy, bold period score.  Intrada’s CD release includes both the original RCA Victor soundtrack album and the actual music as presented in the motion picture. After the jump, we have the full text of Intrada’s releases on both titles plus order links and complete track listings!

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Written by Joe Marchese

April 7, 2014 at 13:05