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Archive for the ‘Instant Funk’ Category

Life Is A Dance: BBR Reissues Chaka Khan, Silver Convention, Instant Funk

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Chaka Khan - ChakaChaka Khan announced her solo freedom with “I’m Every Woman,” the euphoric opening track on 1978’s Chaka. At 25 years old, Khan was already a veteran of the funk-rock band Rufus with whom she had recorded landmark hits like “Tell Me Something Good” and “Sweet Thing,” but Chaka took her passionate style in a new, mainstream R&B direction. The Warner Bros. album, produced by the legendarily versatile Arif Mardin (Dusty Springfield, Bette Midler, The Bee Gees), placed Khan’s powerful voice front and center with the support of the cream of New York’s session scene. BBR has newly remastered Chaka for its 35th anniversary.

Ashford and Simpson’s fiery “I’m Every Woman,” tailor-made by the songwriters for Khan, would be a tough act to follow on any album. But the musically sophisticated Mardin, renowned for having “the greatest ears in town” as per one accurate tribute, curated a selection of songs to show off each facet of Khan’s vocal instrument. Khan had the intuition of a jazz singer, the pipes of a gospel singer, the grit of an R&B shouter, and the intuition of a pop star – making for an unbeatable, distinctive style.  The album boasted a remarkably consistent sound in no small part due to the participation of the top-tier musicians who were well-versed in both pop and jazz, among them The Brecker Brothers, Richard Tee, David Sanborn, Airto Moreira, and Will Lee.

Don’t miss a thing!  There’s more on Chaka, plus Instant Funk and Silver Convention, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 3, 2014 at 14:07

Release Round-Up: Week of April 15

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Bee Gees - Warner Bros. YearsBee Gees, The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

A new five-disc box collates the Bee Gees’ E.S.P. (1987), One (1989) and High Civilization (1991) – the first two of which have bonus tracks – and 1991’s One for All live concert, released for the first time on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Nas - IllmaticNas, Illmatic XX (Columbia/Legacy)

Queens’ favorite MC celebrates his landmark debut with a newly-expanded edition of the 1994 album with a bonus disc of rare remixes and unreleased tracks.

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

Donna LorenDonna Loren, These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings (Now Sounds)

Donna Loren is well-known for her appearances on television’s Shindig! and in the famous series of sixties Beach Party films, but Now Sounds’ new collection reveals her talents as a top-tier pop vocalist!  This expansive collection premieres previously unreleased material, and includes productions from David Axelrod and Steve Douglas, and arrangements by Jack Nitzsche, Billy Strange and H.B. Barnum – plus appearances by The Beau Brummels, Glen Campbell and the L.A. Wrecking Crew!  Look for Joe’s review Wednesday! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Black Sabbath boxBlack Sabbath, The Complete Albums 1970-1978 (Rhino)

A simple, compact box of all of Sabbath’s Ozzy-era albums. Perfect one-stop shopping! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Instant Funk Witch DoctorInstant Funk, Witch Doctor: Expanded Edition (Big Break Records)

The band’s second album for Salsoul, which followed up the hit single “I Got My Mind Made Up,” is remastered and expanded with three bonus tracks by BBR. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Lettermen First Four AlbumsThe Lettermen, The First Four Albums and More / Various Artists, Hard-to-Find Jukebox Classics 1963 (Eric)

Eric Records takes it back to the ’60s pop era with a two-disc compilation of albums from The Lettermen (including hit versions of “The Way You Look Tonight” and “When I Fall in Love,” plus 10 bonus tracks) and a set of rare singles and rarer mixes from 1963 (including the stereo debut of The Surfaris’ “Wipe Out”).

The Lettermen: Amazon U.S. (TBD) / Amazon U.K.
Hard to Find Jukebox ClassicsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 15, 2014 at 07:47

Do The (Salsoul) Hustle: Big Break Celebrates Salsoul Records Legacy with Four Reissues

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By 1975, Philadelphia soul had become too big even for the City of Brotherly Love.  In the first half of the decade, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff had, along with the third member of their Mighty Three, Thom Bell, reinvented the sound of soul music.  The Pennsylvania city had become synonymous with sweeping strings, punchy horns and the hi-hat cymbal of drummer Earl Young, offering up music that could be dramatic, sweet and funky, sometimes all within the same three-minute song!  Bell had long kept a foot outside the Philadelphia International Records offices with his productions for Atlantic, Columbia, Avco and other labels, even while contributing arrangements for Gamble and Huff, especially in PIR’s early years.  The crème of the Philly crop, though, could be found at Joe Tarsia’s Sigma Sound Studios playing in MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother).  PIR’s house orchestra, MFSB backed the likes of Billy Paul, The O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and the Three Degrees for Gamble and Huff, and The Stylistics and The Spinners for Bell.  Eventually, though, individual musicians and arrangers desired to step out of the Mighty Three’s shadow.  Norman Harris, Ronnie Baker, Earl Young, Bobby Martin, Bobby Eli and a certain Vincent Montana, Jr. all began to strike out on their own, bringing their individual spins to the already-familiar orchestral, proto-disco sound.  Enter Joe, Ken and Stan Cayre, the three brothers behind New York’s Mericana Records label.

What happened next is currently being surveyed on CD by Cherry Red’s Big Break Records imprint.  The Cayres went on to form Salsoul Records, still one of the most beloved labels in dance, disco and R&B circles.  Yet, until now, the mightily impressive Salsoul catalogue has never gotten the same kind of lavish treatment on CD as PIR’s for any number of reasons.  Likely high among those reasons is the fact that the label hasn’t always had a major distributor, as the Cayres were initially turned down by CBS, Atlantic and Polydor!  The existing CDs hardly seemed aimed at collectors, lacking deluxe packaging and fidelity to the original albums.  Finally, though, this new reissue series aims to restore Salsoul to its rightful place in the soul music pantheon.  Big Break has just launched its Salsoul campaign with four classic titles from the company’s catalogue, from The Salsoul Orchestra, First Choice, Instant Funk and Double Exposure, respectively.  Each title has been definitively expanded with bonus tracks and new liner notes, allowing this music to be explored and enjoyed once more.  (It’s no coincidence that Big Break has also been reissuing a number of PIR titles, including last month’s Love is the Message from the original MFSB line-up, featuring many of the players who went on to form the Salsoul Orchestra.)

After the jump: we pick up with the Salsoul story and take a look at all four titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 15, 2012 at 10:02