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And One More For The Road: Frank Sinatra’s “Duets” Goes Super Deluxe In November

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Frank Sinatra - Duets SDE

The way he wore his hat…the way he sipped his tea (or likely, something stronger)…the memory of all that…no, they can’t take that away from us.  Frank Sinatra’s influence is still felt every day – in style, in attitude, especially in song.  Though 2013 has been a quiet year for the Chairman’s catalogue, that’s about to change on November 19 when Capitol and UMe celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Sinatra’s triple-platinum Duets album with a variety of commemorative reissues including a 2-CD/1-DVD Super Deluxe Edition, 2-CD Deluxe Edition and 2-LP vinyl set.  All iterations will include Duets II, the 1994 Grammy-winning follow-up, and both CD editions will include bonus duets with Tom Scott, Tanya Tucker, Willie Nelson, Luciano Pavarotti and George Strait.

Duets, originally released on November 2, 1993, marked Sinatra’s return to Capitol Records after a more than thirty-year absence.  His first studio album for the label since 1962’s Point of No Return, Duets teamed the celebrated icon with producer Phil Ramone, co-producer Hank Cattaneo, and a host of performers from various musical styles.  Some of Sinatra’s choices for duet partners were naturals, such as his friends Tony Bennett (his self-professed “favorite singer”) and Liza Minnelli, or Barbra Streisand.  Others came from the worlds of R&B (Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin), and rock (Bono).  Natalie Cole, daughter of Nat, had a deep connection to the standards created by the likes of Sinatra and her dad, while Carly Simon had ventured into the Great American Songbook on her 1981 collection Torch.  Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias and Charles Aznavour all added international flavor to the album.

Frank Sinatra - Duets DEPhil Ramone was able to deftly blend Sinatra’s classic style of recording with modern technological advances allowing for virtual duets.  He chose to record Sinatra in Capitol’s Studio A, the same room Sinatra had inaugurated in 1956.  Sinatra would sing an array of his most famous songs in front of a live orchestra, as always, with musical director Patrick Williams conducting his own charts as well as those by Nelson Riddle, Don Costa, Billy Byers and Quincy Jones.  Ramone told The Independent just before the album’s release, “We had separated him from the band in the beginning – not extremely, but with enough separators and bits of plexiglass and stuff and he was very uncomfortable.  He said, ‘I wanna be with the guys.’ The only thing to do was to put him out in the middle of the room…We put [his longtime accompanist] Bill Miller in front of him, so he could tease him, bust him. Bill’s been with him 40 years…Ordinarily, I would use two mikes on him – one above, one below. But he wasn’t comfortable, so I got him a stool and a hand-mike. It’s a way in which I’ve recorded Jagger and Bono. It’s not going to win any audio awards. But he’s the most comfortable with that. He did nine songs one night, straight. Three of the tracks that made it to the album are Take Ones.”  As he recalled in his book Making Records, Ramone utilized the Entertainment Digital Network system, developed in part by George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound, to record the duet partners via long-distance: Aznavour in Paris, Minnelli in Brazil, Bono in Ireland, Estefan and Iglesias in Miami, and Franklin and Baker in Detroit.

Duets was an unqualified commercial success, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard album chart in the U.S. and No. 5 in the U.K., and selling over three million copies in the United States.  The following year, Capitol released Duets II, once again in time for the holidays.  This time, Ramone and Sinatra corralled an arguably even more diverse gallery of duet partners.  Sinatra’s pals Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme showed up, as did old friend Antonio Carlos Jobim and the legendary Lena Horne.  Willie Nelson, who successfully transformed standards into his own laconic style on Stardust, joined Sinatra, as did Linda Ronstadt, who shared with Sinatra a close collaboration with Nelson Riddle.  Neil Diamond, Jimmy Buffett, Chrissie Hynde, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder all brought their instantly recognizable styles to Duets II.  Frank Sinatra, Jr. even joined his pop on a swinging “My Kind of Town.”  Duets II also made the Billboard Top 10, though it fared less well abroad with a No. 29 peak in the United Kingdom.  It went on to sell over one million copies and netted Sinatra the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance.

What will you find on Capitol’s various anniversary editions of Duets?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Julio Iglesias, “1 – Greatest Hits: Deluxe Edition”

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Julio Iglesias - 1 DeluxeHow to define Julio Iglesias?  Perhaps the iconic Spanish entertainer can be best summed up by the numbers.  In a career spanning well over 40 years, Iglesias has recorded 80 albums, sold 300 million records, and sung in 14 languages.  Now, Iglesias, who will turn 70 later this year, has been feted with the first American release of a new collection with a number in the title.  1 – Greatest Hits, already a multi-platinum seller in numerous Spanish-speaking territories, has arrived in the U.S. from Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings as a 2-CD standard edition and a 2-CD/1-DVD deluxe edition adding a 1990 concert from the Greek Theatre on DVD (88765 46961 2, 2013).  It covers a wide swath of Iglesias’ impressive career over 37 tracks on its two discs, but falls short of being a definitive hits survey, as numerous tracks have been re-recorded specifically for the collection.

In his brief liner note, Iglesias writes, “This has been a unique project in my life.  Being able to go back and sing songs from a time when technology hadn’t yet met the digital age.”   He isn’t the first artist to re-record his classic hits, and nor will he be the last.  But it’s the original tracks – well-recorded in the first place by producers including Iglesias’ longtime collaborator Ramon Arcusa – that are the most timeless here.  Iglesias’ voice, circa 2011 (when the lion’s share of the re-recordings were made), is still smooth and velvety if naturally somewhat deeper.  But arrangement-wise, it’s frequently “spot the difference” time with the new versions hewing closely to the style and tempo of the originals.  There are no notes or essays in the thin booklet explaining why songs were selected or what changes were made; there’s not even any indication as to the provenance of each track other than the date on the copyright line.  With no background or discographical information for these songs, it feels less like a career retrospective and more like a set aimed at a casual fan who won’t wonder whether “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” is the original recording or not.

Coincidental though it may be, it’s worth noting that 1 – Greatest Hits arrives on the same day as Paul Anka’s Duets, another mélange of new and old recordings.  Like 1, the Anka collection (reviewed here) offers duets with Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson!  Hit the jump for more on Julio! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 10, 2013 at 14:18

Release Round-Up: Week of April 9

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Alexander O'Neal vinylBrainstorm / S.O.S. Band / Cherrelle / Alexander O’Neal, “Tabu Reborn” Expanded CD Editions (Wave 1) (Tabu/Edsel)

After a fresh batch of vinyl last week, the Tabu Records reissue campaign (going strong through next year) kicks off with expanded editions of Brainstorm’s Stormin’, The S.O.S. Band’s III, Cherrelle’s Fragile and Alexander O’Neal’s self-titled debut. All feature bonus tracks (Alexander O’Neal has a bonus disc) and fresh deluxe packaging.

StorminAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
IIIAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
FragileAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Alexander O’NealAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Kill Uncle 2013Morrissey, Kill Uncle: Expanded Edition The Last of the Famous International Playboys (Single) (EMI)

Moz’s latest remastered, reconfigured album is his 1991 sophomore effort (featuring a revised track list with two B-sides and an unreleased alternate version of “There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends”), and it will be promoted with new versions of his hit 1989 single with unreleased songs from a BBC session serving as the B-sides.

Album (CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Album (LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Single (CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Sandie ShawSandie Shaw, Sandie / Me / Love Me, Please Love Me: Expanded Editions Long Live Love: The Very Best of Sandie Shaw (Salvo)

The irrepressible Sandie Shaw’s first three albums are remastered and expanded with many single sides, and a new career-spanning compilation puts it into perspective for the new fan.

SandieAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
MeAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Love MeAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Long Live Love
Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Julio Iglesias - 1 DeluxeJulio Iglesias, 1: Greatest Hits (Columbia/Legacy/Sony Music Latin)

Celebrate the Spanish crooner with this two-disc set of classic and newly-recorded versions of his greatest hits, also available as a deluxe set with a remastered 1990 concert on DVD.

Standard: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Paul Anka - DuetsPaul Anka, Duets (Legacy)

The acclaimed singer-songwriter has a new compilation of old and new duets with legends from Michael Jackson to Willie Nelson and almost everyone in between! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Electronic Special EditionElectronic, Electronic: Special Edition (EMI)

A double-disc expansion of this collaborative effort between New Order’s Bernard Sumner and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, with a bonus disc of mostly unrelated extras. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lady in the Dark - 1963Bravo Giovanni and Lady in the Dark: Cast Recordings (Masterworks Broadway)

Two musical scores from the Masterworks vault make their way to digital retailers, with the latter score featuring six bonus tracks from the show’s star, Danny Kaye.

To All The Fans He’s Loved Before: Julio Iglesias Revisits His Legacy on New “Greatest Hits”

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Julio Iglesias - 1The artist born Julio José Iglesias de la Cueva practically defines “international superstar.”  Iglesias, with roughly eighty albums under his belt since his 1969 debut, can boast over 300 million units sold worldwide, and has recorded in fourteen languages.  On April 9, Legacy Recordings will recognize his extensive career with the first American release of 1 – Greatest Hits.  Already certified multi-platinum in many Spanish-speaking territories, the 2-CD Greatest Hits differs from the typical such set, though, as it’s built around new recordings of old favorites made in 2006 and 2011.

Julio Iglesias rose to fame in his native Spain in the late 1960s.  The rising star was elected to represent the country in the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest, in which he came in fourth place for his song “Gwendolyne.”  This was no setback, though.  It wasn’t long before he scored a No. 1 hit with “Un Canto a Galicia” and spread his romantic musical gospel around Europe, recording in French and Italian as well as Spanish.  Following a move to the United States, the Discos Columbia artist was signed to the label’s U.S. parent, CBS, as the eighties dawned.  At CBS, he continued to sing and write repertoire in a variety of languages also including Portuguese and German.  Iglesias’ fame had spread to English-speaking areas with the U.K. success of his 1981 revival of Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.”  The standard went all the way to No. 1 in the U.K. and paved the way for 1984’s breakthrough album 1100 Bel Air Place.  Bolstered by the success of the Albert Hammond/Hal David-penned “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” performed as a duet with Willie Nelson, Bel Air Place sold four million albums in the United States alone.  The romantic troubadour had truly arrived, and was greeted on the album not only by Nelson, but by The Beach Boys (on a cover of Hammond’s “The Air That I Breathe,” previously a hit for The Hollies) and Diana Ross (on the hit single “All of You,” written by Iglesias with Cynthia Weil and Tony Renis).  Yet even that phenomenally successful LP was just the icing on the cake of a remarkable career; in 1983, The Guinness Book of World Records awarded the charismatic crooner its first and only Diamond Award for having sold more records in more languages than any other artist in music history.

In the years that followed, Iglesias racked up record-breaking sales, sold-out tours, a Grammy Award, and even a guest appearance on The Golden Girls!  As patriarch, he found himself nominated for a Grammy the same year (1998) as his son, Enrique.  Prior to Greatest Hits – 1, which arrived in many Latin countries in 2011, Iglesias’ last album was 2006’s Romantic Classics on which he brought his stamp to songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, George Michael and The Bee Gees.

After the jump: details on Greatest Hits, plus full track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 5, 2013 at 13:48