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Archive for the ‘Luther Vandross’ Category

Never Too Much: New Luther Vandross Compilation Highlights Album Cuts and Rarities

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If you miss the smooth, soulful voice of Luther Vandross – and, perhaps, wish to dig deeper than his greatest hits – a new compilation from Epic Records and Legacy Recordings might have you covered.

On April 17, just three days before what would have been the singer’s 61st birthday, the label will release Hidden Gems, a compilation of album cuts and non-LP tracks intended to showcase one of the greatest male voices in contemporary R&B history.

The 15-track compilation, compiled and produced by Vandross’ niece Seveda Williams and cousin Brenda Shields, spans Luther’s entire career, from “You Stopped Loving Me” off debut album Never Too Much, to “Once Were Lovers” and a cover of “Buy Me a Rose,” a song made famous by Kenny Rogers, from posthumous Grammy-winning album Dance with My Father. In addition to Luther’s own compositions, there are some impressive covers, including versions of “The Impossible Dream” from the Broadway hit Man of La Mancha, Little Anthony and The Imperials’ “Goin’ Out of My Head” and the Lieber-Stoller-co-written “I (Who Have Nothing),” sung as a duet with R&B singer Martha Wash.

While it’s not chock full of obscurities if you’ve tracked down Luther’s albums – “I’d Rather” was a sizable Adult Contemporary hit and received a substantial amount of radio play – there are a few harder-to-find cuts on the disc, notably a song from the 1997 compilation One Night with You: The Best of Love, Volume 2, two early-’90s soundtrack songs and a Japanese bonus track from the artist’s penultimate, self-titled album on J Records in 2001.

The package features liner notes by Vandross’ good friend and collaborator Fonzi Thornton, and makes for a great next step in your Luther collection. Check out the track list after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 20, 2012 at 15:41

Ever Changing Times: Aretha In The 1980s, Anthologized by Legacy

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On March 25, 2012, Aretha Franklin will turn 70 years old.  That hardly means she’s ready to slow down, however.  2011 found the Queen of Soul looking trim and sounding vibrant as she returned to the concert stage and released a new studio album.  Surely her landmark birthday will be celebrated with countless airings of her 1960s golden hits like “Respect,” “Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools.”  But Legacy Recordings and Arista Records are seeing to it that a latter-day hitmaking period for the music icon is given its due attention.

Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998 will arrive on January 31.  It spans almost the entirety of Franklin’s tenure at Clive Davis’ storied Arista label, with tracks from every studio album recorded by the singer between 1980’s Aretha and 1998’s A Rose is Still a Rose.  (Only 2003’s So Damn Happy is not represented.)  Its chronologically-sequenced sixteen cuts reveal a still-growing artist sounding revitalized in a modern setting after a string of unsuccessful (and still unavailable on CD) records on the Atlantic label, home to her greatest triumphs.

What’s most remarkable about the selections on Knew You Were Waiting is how simple it is to draw a line from the deep soul of the Atlantic days to the glossy productions at Arista.  The compilation’s lead-off track, 1980’s “United Together,” features Aretha once again backed by the Sweet Inspirations (Cissy Houston, Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shenwell and Estelle Brown).  Atlantic’s legendary producer and arranger Arif Mardin helmed “Love All the Hurt Away,” a 1981 duet with George Benson.  (Incidentally, Benson was recording at Columbia in the mid-1960s under the aegis of John Hammond, one of Franklin’s guiding lights during her time with the label!)  Burt Bacharach, who supplied Franklin with the enduring Atlantic hit “I Say a Little Prayer,” finally got the chance to produce her at Arista on “Ever Changing Times.”  The 1987 song was originally recorded for the film Baby Boom by Siedah Garrett (best known for joining Michael Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”) but Bacharach and co-writer/producer Carole Bayer Sager delivered it to Franklin for 1991’s rather unfortunately-titled What You See is What You Sweat.  Franklin and her duet partner, Michael McDonald, then took the song to the Top 20 of the R&B chart!  It’s presented here in a mix that’s previously unreleased on CD!

Hit the jump for much more, including the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 2, 2012 at 09:59

Back Tracks: CHIC

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It’s a crime that when you talk about CHIC, many of the players who made up arguably the greatest band of the disco era aren’t alive to hear your words of praise. Bernard Edwards, CHIC’s bassist and co-producer, died in 1997; drummer Tony Thompson passed away in 2003. Nile Rodgers, guitarist, co-producer and keeper of the CHIC flame, could easily have met the same early fate had he not been lucky enough to discover the cancer that he’s been since late last year. (Rodgers, one of the best users of the Internet to connect with fans, has kept readers entertained and informed with his Walking on Planet C blog since the start of the year, and will release his memoir, Le Freak, in the fall.)

The other day at Second Disc HQ, we were reminded by our good friend Eric Luecking of Record Racks that another member of the CHIC Organization had passed away: Raymond Jones, who played piano and keyboards on “Le Freak,” “Good Times” and “We Are Family,” succumbed to pneumonia earlier this month at the too-young age of 52. (Jones also worked with the Tom Tom Club and Jeffrey Osbourne, writing “Stay with Me Tonight” for the latter.)

In honor of Jones and all the other members of the CHIC Organization who are not here to enjoy our expressions of love and respect for their music, today’s Back Tracks takes a look at the music of CHIC and the many reissues and compilations that have been released all over the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 20, 2011 at 17:43

R&B Releases: A Classic “Thing,” Plus Some Buried Grooves

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If you’re itching for some vintage R&B from around the way, a few labels have some new releases to keep you satisfied. One is a classic soul LP making its debut on CD, the other two are some solid disco efforts with some bonus cuts to boot.

Iconoclassic Records has planned a June 22 reissue of It’s Our Thing by The Isley Brothers. Released on the Isleys’ own label after leaving a solid but fleetingly successful tenure at Motown, this disc includes the funky, anthemic “It’s Your Thing.” This is the first release of this R&B Top 5 LP on CD, if you can believe that, and a nice complement to the label’s reissues of the Isleys’ latter-day LPs Showdown and Go All the Way.

The underrated Funky Town Grooves label has a pair of new expansions of nearly-forgotten dance/R&B records. One is Hot Butterfly, the 1978 sophomore album by Gregg Diamond and Bionic Boogie. Diamond, a power player in the disco era, is perhaps best-known for writing and producing “More, More, More” for The Andrea True Connection, but the real secret weapon here is the man on lead vocals – the one and only Luther Vandross. This first-time remaster from the original tapes (a previous, Japan-only CD issue was a vinyl rip) includes four bonus remixes and is slated to ship in June.

FTG also has an expansion of Glenn Jones’ Finesse ready to go for June as well. This LP – Jones’ first for RCA (following the Everybody Loves a Winner EP from the previous year) – was a Top 20 R&B hit and yielded the Top 5 R&B single “Show Me.” This new package comes with three remixes, including two vintage mixes of “I Am Somebody” from Everybody Loves a Winner.

Order these discs here, here and here. Check out all the track lists after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 24, 2010 at 14:02