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Welcome Back: Edsel Reissues John Sebastian’s Reprise Catalogue, Adds Previously Unreleased Live Concert DVD

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John Sebastian - EdselEdsel is saying “welcome back” to John Sebastian with the recent release of a quartet of albums in one deluxe package: John B. Sebastian, The Four of Us, Tarzana Kid and Welcome Back.  Edsel has bundled these releases, representing the Lovin’ Spoonful founder’s complete Reprise studio recordings, with a live concert DVD making its very first appearance anywhere.  In Concert: John Sebastian Sings John Sebastian was broadcast by the BBC in October 1970, months following the release of John B. Sebastian.

New York native Sebastian fused pop and folk when he joined with Zal Yanovsky, Steve Boone and Joe Butler as The Lovin’ Spoonful, and as their chief songwriter penned the era-defining hits still in rotation on oldies radio today: “Do You Believe in Magic,” “Daydream,” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind,” “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice” (with Boone), “Summer in the City” (with brother Mark Sebastian and Boone).  A solo career might have seemed inevitable, and indeed, in 1968, Sebastian left the group.  He didn’t remain idle for long, though.  He wrote songs for Murray Schisgal’s Broadway play Jimmy Shine starring Dustin Hoffman and Rue McClanahan, and in 1969, his impromptu solo set at Woodstock became a festival highlight.  But few at Woodstock knew that Sebastian’s first solo album was already completed and awaiting release.

A contractual snafu led MGM Records to claim ownership of the album, and in fact MGM released a version of the John B. Sebastian album in 1970.  Reprise, to whom Sebastian felt he was rightfully signed, was forced to sue MGM.  When the smoke cleared, the Reprise edition of John B. Sebastian prevailed, eventually becoming Sebastian’s best-selling solo record.  On the album, Sebastian revisited his first solo single “She’s a Lady” as well as The Spoonful’s “You’re a Big Boy Now,” and welcomed a variety of guests including all three members of Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as CSN drummer Dallas Taylor, Buzzy Linhart on vibes and The Ikettes on backing vocals.

Another studio recording arrived in 1971, The Four of Us.  It was a concept album chronicling Sebastian’s meeting with, courtship of, and marriage to his wife Catherine, culminating in the 16-minute epic title track.  Produced like its predecessor by Paul A. Rothchild of Doors fame, Sebastian enlisted Dallas Taylor, Mountain’s Felix Pappalardi, CSNY bassist Greg Reeves, The Turtles’ Johnny Barbata and the Esso Trinidad Steel Band to play on The Four of Us.  In addition to his new songs, the album featured a traditional tune (“Well, Well, Well”) arranged by Josh White and a cover of Clifton Chernier’s “Black Snake Blues.”

Following a hiatus to raise a family, Sebastian returned to Reprise with 1974’s Tarzana Kid.  The LP also reunited him with Lovin’ Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen.  Jacobsen and Sebastian co-produced this set featuring contributions from Toto’s David Paich, Little Feat’s Lowell George, Ry Cooder, Buddy Emmons, Emmylou Harris, David Lindley, The Pointer Sisters and even Phil Everly.  On Tarzana Kid, Jacobsen and Sebastian revisited The Spoonful’s “Sportin’ Life” and “Wild About My Lovin’,” both of which had appeared on the Spoonful’s first long-player, as well as Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken.”  Alas, Tarzana failed to chart, and Sebastian found himself at odds with Reprise.  That would soon change.

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Written by Joe Marchese

March 7, 2014 at 09:58

Release Round-Up: Week of January 14

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igh HopesBruce Springsteen, High Hopes (Columbia)

It’s a new album, but one assembled from songs and outtakes Bruce has been amassing for the last few years: we’ll take it (in the hope that this new album means Bruce is in a vault mood for the rest of the year)! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. – both with exclusive DVD of the entire Born in the U.S.A. album live on the Wrecking Ball tour)

Elvis Soundtrack BoxElvis Presley, The Movie Soundtracks (RCA/Sony Music U.K.)

Why should the States get all the fun? An import box set featuring 20 discs of Elvis’ film soundtracks (some great, others…a little different). (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Lone JusticeLone Justice, This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes (Omnivore)

A spirited studio set cut two years before the band’s acclaimed debut album on Geffen Records. A must for rockabilly fans!

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

Mark LoneganMark Lanegan, Has God Seen My Shadow? An Anthology 1989-2011 (Light in the Attic)

A killer career-spanning compilation from the ex-Screaming Trees frontman, featuring a dozen unreleased tracks.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Lucinda WilliamsLucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams: Deluxe Edition (Thirty Tigers)

First released on Rough Trade Records and long out of print, the album with some of Williams’ best known compositions (“Passionate Kisses,” “I Wanted to See You So Bad,” “Changed the Locks”) is expanded with not only the live bonus tracks from a previous remaster but another contemporaneous live show that’s never been released before.

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

Li'l Abner OSTLi’l Abner: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Columbia/Sony Masterworks)

The long-unavailable soundtrack to the 1959 adaptation of the 1956 musical, featuring a song score by Johnny Mercer & Gene DePaul and arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, is finally released as an on-demand CD title. (CD-R/DD: My Play Direct)

Billy Paul Cadillac Club BBRBilly Paul, Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club (Big Break Records) / Dan Hartman, Relight My Fire: Expanded Edition / Sheryl Lee Ralph, In the Evening: Expanded Edition (Hot Shot Records)

The latest from BBR includes a reissue of Philadelphia soul legend Billy Paul’s debut (studio) album and two expanded titles from underrated greats Dan Hartman and Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Billy Paul: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Dan Hartman: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Sheryl Lee Ralph: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Taj Mahal Wounded BirdJohn Baldry, Boogie Woogie: The Warner Bros. Recordings / Taj Mahal, Sing a Happy Song: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings / John Sebastian, The Reprise Recordings / Crazy Horse, Scratchy: The Complete Reprise Recordings / Doug Sahm, The Genuine Texas Groover: The Complete Atlantic Recordings / The Blasters, The Slash Recordings / Danny O’Keefe, Classics / Hubert Laws, Carnegie Hall / The Chicago Theme / Crying Song / How to Beat the High Cost of Living (with Earl Klugh) / Say It with Silence (Wounded Bird)

We told you about Wounded Bird’s Rhino Handmade budget reissues yesterday, but there’s also a bunch of straight reissues from jazz flutist Hubert Laws due from the label today, too.

John Baldry: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Taj Mahal: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
John Sebastian: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Crazy Horse: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Doug Sahm: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Blasters: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Danny O’Keefe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Carnegie Hall: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Chicago ThemeAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Crying SongAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
How to Beat the High Cost of Living: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Say It with Silence
: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Rhino Rediscovery: Wounded Bird to Reissue Handmade Titles As Budget Sets

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Wounded Bird logoRhino Handmade is back! Sort of.

Reissue label Wounded Bird Records will release this week seven titles originally released on Warner Music’s boutique label in the early to mid-2000s. These sets were originally handsome vault-clearing exercises for a diverse crop of artists who were on the Warner, Atlantic or Reprise labels at some point in their careers, including works by Doug Sahm of Sir Douglas Quintet, blues legend Taj Mahal, rockabilly-punk outfit The Blasters, singer-songwriter Danny O’Keefe (“Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”), Crazy Horse (sans Neil Young), John Sebastian and bluesman Long John Baldry.

A few notes are in order for the discerning buyer: if you’ve bought titles by Wounded Bird in the past, you might know that the packaging is not what you might expect from a major boutique label. The liner notes and in-depth track information that graced these original releases is unfortunately gone. Also gone in some cases is actual repertoire: John Sebastian’s The Reprise Recordings (originally titled Faithful Virtue on Handmade) loses two live sets on the third disc, including Sebastian’s set at Woodstock and another performance at Winterland in 1969. Two tracks recorded by The Blasters for the cult soundtrack to the film Streets of Fire in 1984 are also left off the band’s otherwise-complete set.

But if there is an upside, it’s that Wounded Bird has gotten seven long-out-of-print titles onto CD for the first time in nearly a decade – and for those interested in the music above all, that can’t be a bad thing. All titles are available in the States this Tuesday; hit the jump for a full breakdown of each with order links!

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