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All These Things: “Classified,” From New Orleans Piano Great James Booker, Is Remixed, Remastered and Expanded

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James Booker - ClassifiedWhen it comes to New Orleans, there’s something about a piano.  The Louisiana city has been home to some of the most famous players of that 88-keyed instrument: think Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, Harry Connick, Jr. or Fats Domino.  But ask Dr. John or Connick to single out one N’awlins piano influence, and either might be likely to name one James Booker.  The good Doctor – a.k.a. Mac Rebennack – described Booker as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”  Booker tutored Rebennack and Connick, who absorbed his style into their own.  The so-called Bayou Maharajah (a.k.a. The Bronze Liberace, The Piano Prince of New Orleans, The Ivory Emperor, or The Piano Pope – to name a few of his illustrious nicknames) led a tumultuous life before passing away at the age of 43 in 1983.  He’s being celebrated in 2013 with filmmaker Lily Keber’s documentary film Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker as well as with a newly expanded reissue on the Rounder label of his 1983 studio album Classified.

James Booker was one in a line of pianists; both his father and grandfather played the instrument.  After spending much of his early childhood on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Booker returned to his native New Orleans as an adolescent.  By the age of fifteen, the piano prodigy had already recorded for the Imperial label (home to Fats Domino) and done session work with Domino and others.  At home with classical music as well as jazz, Booker even impressed the great concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein.  Though addiction to drugs plagued him, Booker played with his piano disciple Dr. John as well as with The Jerry Garcia Band, The Doobie Brothers, Maria Muldaur, and even Ringo Starr.  He also maintained a residency as the house pianist at New Orleans’ Maple Leaf Bar from 1977 to 1982.

There’s more on Classified after the jump including the track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 23, 2013 at 10:32

Posted in James Booker, News, Reissues

Release Round-Up: Week of October 15

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Unplugged ExpandedEric Clapton, Unplugged: Expanded and Remastered Edition (Reprise/Rhino)

The guitar god’s ’90s comeback was done on an acoustic. The Grammy-winning, best-selling album and the acclaimed episode of MTV Unplugged from which it was taken are paired up and considerably expanded, more than two decades later. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

King Crimson, The Road to Red (Panegyric)

Holy crumbs, this 21CD/1DVD/2BD set is a massive tribute to King Crimson’s Red album, including new stereo and surround mixes of the album and 16 soundboard-quality live sets in a box that puts the deluxe edition concept in its place. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

Paul Simon Complete packshotPaul Simon, The Complete Albums Collection / Over the Bridge of Time: A Retrospective (1964-2011) (Legacy)

American tunes shine on both this exhaustive box set of Simon’s solo career, featuring expanded editions of all of his studio albums (including the U.K.-only The Paul Simon Song Book from 1964 and both Rhino and Legacy-era bonus tracks on Graceland), as well as the double-live Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park and 2011’s acclaimed So Beautiful or So What. A single-disc compilation boils his career down to its basest elements, from Simon & Garfunkel to the present.

The Complete Albums CollectionAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Over the Bridge of TimeAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

James Booker - ClassifiedJames Booker, Classified: Remixed and Expanded (Rounder)

One of only two releases in the short but incredible lifetime of this New Orleans pianist, the man who mentored Dr. John and Harry Connick, Jr. is the focus of a new documentary – and this, his last proper studio album, is greatly expanded and remixed for a new generation to enjoy.

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

Ring Ring DeluxeABBA, Ring Ring: Deluxe Edition (Polydor/Universal U.K.)

The legendary dance quartet’s first album gets expanded with a DVD of rare performances and a host of even rarer pre-ABBA songs. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

ZTT Organization of PopVarious Artists, The Organization of Pop: Music from the First Thirty Years of ZTT Records (ZTT/Razor & Tie)

A double-disc compilation – the first in ZTT’s new U.S. distribution deal with Razor & Tie – featuring hits from Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Buggles, The Art of Noise, Seal and more. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Al Hirt - Sound of ChristmasAl Hirt, The Sound of Christmas (Friday Music/Relayer)

The trumpet virtuoso’s 1965 holiday album, expanded and remastered by Friday Music, its first time on CD in over two decades. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Taylor Dayne PlaylistBasia / Deborah Cox / Taylor Dayne / Exposé / Lita Ford / The Jeff Healey Band / The Jimi Hendrix Experience / Incubus / MercyMe / Mobb Deep / The Alan Parsons Project / The Partridge FamilyPlaylist: The Very Best Of (Legacy)

Another wave of the ol’ reliable series from Legacy. Key points: rare original single mixes abound on Basia, Deborah Cox, Taylor Dayne and Exposé’s volumes; Hendrix’s is a converted version of the famed Smash Hits compilation, and Partridge fans will enjoy the first-ever release of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” in stereo. All Amazon U.S. links are posted above!

Deep Purple Rhino boxDeep Purple, The Complete Albums 1970-1976 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

This ten-disc set compiles all of the band’s original Mk. II, Mk. III and Mk. IV-era studio and live albums. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)