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Archive for the ‘Jackie Gleason’ Category

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Round-Up: Reissues Arrive from James Taylor, Jackie Gleason, Ferrante and Teicher

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‘Tis the season to be jolly – and so, ‘tis the season for more reissues of classic holiday music!  We’ve already filled you in on recent and upcoming releases from the likes of Percy Faith, Perry Como, Doris Day and Edie Adams, plus a classic Peanuts soundtrack and an entire series of holiday favorites from Legacy Recordings.  Today, we’re turning the spotlight on three more perennials that you just might wish to revisit this holiday season, from Jackie Gleason, Ferrante and Teicher, and James Taylor!

Friday Music’s Relayer label has just dipped into the EMI vaults for two reissues sure to excite fans of vintage instrumental Christmas music.  First up is a two-fer from The Great One himself, Jackie Gleason.  The entertainer’s first foray into a holiday variation on his popular “mood music” came in 1956 with Merry Christmas for the Capitol label.  He returned to holiday tunes more than a decade later with the 1967 release of ‘Tis the Season. The single disc, housed in a jewel case, includes reproductions of the original front and back cover art for both LPs, and brief notes from reissue producer Joe Reagoso on the tray card.  Reagoso has remastered from the original Capitol master tapes.

The same format has been followed for a two-fer from pianists Arthur Ferrante and Lou Teicher.  Ferrante and Teicher’s Snowbound (1962) and We Wish You a Merry Christmas (1966) were originally produced by Perry Como associate Nick Perito for United Artists Records.  Like the Gleason set, the Ferrante and Teicher albums are presented in reverse chronological order.  Relayer’s Reagoso has teamed with Scott Smith to remix and remaster Snowbound and We Wish You a Merry Christmas from the original UA master tapes.  Both the Gleason and Ferrante and Teicher albums represent the golden era of orchestral pop, and both are available in stores now.

After the jump: order links and track listings, plus the full story on the expanded edition of James Taylor’s lone holiday album! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 6, 2012 at 16:06

Reviews: Real, Real Gone with Sanford and Townsend, Jimmy Griffin and Jackie Gleason

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Long before Barry White, a rather different music maker was providing the soundtrack for a romantic rendezvous in the moonlight, but his name might be surprising to some: Jackie Gleason.  Even if one can’t readily picture Ralph Kramden seducing Alice with its lush accompaniment, the American record buying public had no such reservations. The Great One’s 1952 Music for Lovers Only sold over half a million copies, and spent a still-unbeaten record of 153 (!) weeks in the U.S. Top 10 album chart.  Real Gone Music has just lowered the lights and lit the candles for its return to CD, in the most complete edition yet (RGM-0082, 2012).

Yes, the times have undoubtedly changed since the album’s original release.  Even its strikingly photographed cover today seems a remnant of another age: two lit cigarettes (unfiltered, natch!) reside on opposite sides of an ash tray as two nearby glasses cast a shadow.  A woman’s purse is nearby, her glove draped over the edge of the table, and a key, significantly placed outside the purse.  This urbane, sophisticated and altogether sensual image of days gone by sets the scene for the album’s music, a collection of slow, melodic and elegantly orchestrated ballads, all from the standard songbook: Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s “Alone Together,” George and Ira Gershwin’s “But Not For Me,” Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s “I Only Have Eyes for You” (pre-Flamingos!), Mel Torme’s “A Stranger in Town.”  There’s no swinging here, just exquisitely arranged and passionately played mood music.  By most accounts, this is the album that coined the phrase, and the mood is love.

Just what the heck did comedian and actor extraordinaire Jackie Gleason have to do with the whole thing, anyway?  Reissue producer Gordon Anderson’s liner notes explain all.  Cornet player Bobby Hackett, featured prominently on the album, famously quipped, “He brought the checks” of Gleason.  And Hackett’s (uncredited) musical contribution shouldn’t be overlooked, as he’s generally recognized as the album’s arranger and perhaps the bandleader, as well.  But Anderson reveals that Gleason did much more, putting his own money on the line to record the album and see through his vision of the perfect romantic long-player.  It seems that Gleason took conducting very seriously and even composed one song on the LP, its closing track “My Love for Carmen.”  All sixteen songs are swathed in strings that would have made Gordon Jenkins (Sinatra’s arranger of choice for his most lush outings) proud.  Many of these songs are still familiar today; their endurance speaks volumes for Gleason’s taste, as well.

The notes also shed light on the convoluted release history of the original record.  The original mono 8-song album was released as both a 10-inch LP and a double 7-inch EP in 1952.  Three years later, it was reissued in a 16-song version, still in mono, which is the version replicated on Real Gone’s CD edition.  In 1958, however, Capitol enlisted Gleason to record a new 12-track version in stereo.  This wasn’t an uncommon practice at the label.  Even vocal stars were asked to do the same; hence the two versions of classic albums like June Christy’s Something Cool.  At his former label, Collectors’ Choice Music, Anderson had reissued the 8-track mono album from ’52 (still following me here?) on a two-fer with the 12-track version of its “sequel” album, Music to Make You Misty.  Four of the eight remaining mono tracks then were paired with another Gleason release, 1953’s soundtrack to the television ballet Tawny.  This release marks the very first full reissue of the mono Music for Lovers Only.  Maria Triana has remastered this beautifully-recorded set.

The languid Music for Lovers Only will sound great on your modern hi-fi.  But I can’t recommend listening to it alone; you just might get depressed and shed a tear or two in the drink that should almost certainly be by your side.  (I won’t blame you if you eschew the cigarettes, though.)  So invite your significant other over and see if playing this sultry, classy and refined collection of orchestral ballads still works as well as it must have in 1952!  You just might thank Mr. Gleason later.

After the jump: a pre-Bread James Griffin goes on a Summer Holiday, and there’s Smoke from a Distant Fire! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 20, 2012 at 12:21

Release Round-Up: Week of July 31

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Frank Zappa, Official Reissues #1-13 (Zappa/UMe)

The iconoclastic musician’s catalogue is back in print thanks to a new agreement with Universal, and his first 13 albums (most of them newly remastered from the original analog masters) are available today. Joe gave us a great breakdown of what’s what on these new masters, which also has convenient links to both these new titles and the forthcoming second wave of remasters next month.

Blur, Blur 21 (Virgin/EMI)

21 refers not only to the legendary British band’s lifespan to date, but the amount of discs in this collection: all seven studio albums expanded with bonus discs (which are available separately, if that’s your thing), plus another four discs of rarities and three mostly live DVDs.

Neil Diamond, Hot August Night: 40th Anniversary Edition (Geffen/UMe)

Hard to believe it’s been 40 years since Neil’s second, terrific live LP was issued! This two-disc edition adds four unreleased tracks, offering just about every minute of that fateful night at LA’s Greek Theatre.

Elvis Presley, I Am An Elvis Fan (RCA/Legacy)

The latest Elvis compilation was fan-sourced, leading to some slightly different track choices than your typical Elvis fare, including a nice handful of live cuts from the latter half of the King’s career.

Charles Mingus, The Complete Columbia & RCA Studio Albums Collection / The Thelonious Monk Quartet, The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection / Weather Report, The Complete Columbia Albums 1971-1975 (Columbia/Legacy)

PopMarket’s latest complete boxes showcase some of the best jazz/fusion players to ever grace the Columbia label, and there are some great surprises in these boxes, including two rare tracks in the Mingus box and the first-ever domestic release of a Japanese live album in the Weather Report set.

20/20, 2o/20/Look Out! ; Clover, Clover/Fourty Niner ; Jimmy Griffin, Summer Holiday: Expanded Edition ; Sanford & Townsend, Smoke from a Distant Fire/Nail Me to the Wall ; Charles Bukowski, Charles Bukowski Reads His Poetry ; Jackie Gleason, Music for Lovers Only (Real Gone)

A diverse selection of releases from the eclectic reissue label: “The Great One,” the future Bread frontman, an American poet, a future Elvis Costello backing band and more!

Various Artists, Good Vibrations: The Beach Boys Songbook (Columbia/Sony Music Japan)

A quirky compilation from Japan (on Blu-Spec CD, no less) featuring some intriguing Beach Boys covers from the likes of Todd Rundgren, The Tokens, Andy Williams and others.

Getting Real Gone in July with Sanford and Townsend, Clover, 20/20, Jackie Gleason and More

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Real Gone Music may not be going “to the moon, Alice,” but the eclectic reissue gurus are going just about everywhere else with their batch of offerings set for July 31.  Yes, Jackie Gleason features in a line-up also including poet Charles Bukowski, Sanford and Townsend (Smoke from a Distant Fire), a member of Bread, and a couple of underrated rock-and-roll bands.

After the recent, potent reissue of the self-titled debut from Durocs, Real Gone jumps back into the power pop game with 20/20.  Tulsa’s own Steve Allen and Ron Flynt recorded two albums and a pair of non-LP singles for the Portrait label, and all of those recordings are being collected on one disc by the Real Goners.  Singer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Gallo and keyboardist Chris Silagyi joined the duo for 1979’s 20/20 while drummer Joel Turrisi replaced Gallo for 1981’s Look Out!  “Child’s Play” and “People in Your Life,” both from 1981, round out Real Gone’s survey of the group’s Portrait output.  (These two singles have never been on CD, while previous reissues of the albums proper now command high prices in the secondhand market.)  The group split in 1983, having recorded just one more album following the two for Portrait (1982’s Sex Trap on the Mainway label).  New liner notes draw on interviews with the band members.  Maria Triana at Battery Studios has remastered all tracks.

If Clover is remembered at all today, it’s likely for backing Elvis Costello on his incendiary 1977 debut, My Aim Is True, or perhaps for morphing into the hitmaking Huey Lewis and the News. The country-rock group was actually founded in 1967 by future Doobie Brother John McFee, Alex Call (author of Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny”) and bassist/session pro Dr. John Ciambotti, with Mitch Howie playing drums through 1971.  The band’s first two records, Clover and Fourty Niner [sic] were recorded for the Fantasy label in 1970 and 1971, respectively, and bear the influence of Bay Area friends and Fantasy labelmates Creedence Clearwater Revival.  For Real Gone’s first-ever Clover revival, Alex Call supplies the new liner notes.

After the jump: Bread’s James Griffin!  Charles Bukowski!  Sanford and Townsend!  And the Great One himself! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 15, 2012 at 10:23