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The Legacy of Harry Nilsson, Andy Williams, Johnny Winter, Jerry Lee Lewis and More Anthologized On “Essential” Releases

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Essential NilssonToday, Legacy Recordings issues a number of titles from some of music’s greatest artists as part of the label’s ongoing Essential series of anthologies.  We’re taking a look at the collections from Harry Nilsson, Andy Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pete Seeger, Mott the Hoople and Midnight Oil!  Plus: we have track listings for all titles!

A 2010 documentary posed the question, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?  Well, if you don’t already know the answer, The Essential Nilsson will go a long way in providing it for you.  Harry Nilsson was the songwriter’s songwriter, who enjoyed his two biggest hits with songs not written by him: Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” and Pete Ham and Tom Evans’ “Without You.”  He was the hard-partying pal of John Lennon’s capable of almost painfully tender moments in song like “Don’t Forget Me.”  He was the rocker who penned vaudeville tunes for The Monkees (“Daddy’s Song,” “Cuddly Toy”) and recorded an album of standards with legendary arranger Gordon Jenkins long before such albums were in vogue.  And he was the composer of effortless pop melodies like “You’re Breakin’ My Heart,” which he provided with a four-letter punch line as if to torpedo its chances for the Top 40.  Harry Nilsson was a man of many contradictions, but they’re all represented in this 2-CD, 40-track collection of his RCA years (1967-1977) produced by Rob Santos and Andrew Sandoval.  (Sandoval also contributes the essay.)

By the numbers, The Essential Nilsson falls short of the standard set by 1995’s 49-song survey Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology.  But even those who own Personal Best should invest in Essential, both for Vic Anesini’s revelatory remastering and for a couple of unreleased tracks and a handful of mono single rarities.  You’ll savor Nilsson’s perky melody in the new, previously unissued remix of “Girlfriend” (better known as “Best Friend,” the theme to TV’s The Courtship of Eddie’s Father), and the touching simplicity of “Life Line” in a never-before-heard piano-and-voice take.  There’s plenty of Harry’s trademark humor on The Essential (the aforementioned “You’re Breakin’ My Heart,” the novelty-esque hit “Coconut,” the offbeat television homage “Kojak Columbo”) as well as his tributes to pals Lennon and McCartney (“You Can’t Do That”) and Randy Newman (“Sail Away,” “Vine Street” and the sublime “Living Without You”).  That last-named Newman song boasts the lyric “It’s so hard, it’s so hard, living without you.”  For fans of intelligent, frequently stunningly-crafted pop, it’s been so hard living without Harry Nilsson.  The Essential Nilsson captures Harry –the angel-faced choirboy of his early albums and the bearded, vocally-battered figure of his later albums – in all his many colors.  Don’t miss it.

After the jump: plenty more on every title in this batch including full track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 30, 2013 at 10:05

Release Round-Up: Week of April 30

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Shalamar Friends 2CD

Shalamar, Friends: Deluxe Edition / The Isley Brothers, Winner Takes All: Expanded Edition / Bootsy Collins Presents Sweat Band: Expanded Edition / The Gap Band, Gap Band VII: Expanded Edition / Billy Paul, Lately: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

The Big Break titles we covered yesterday include a double-disc expansion of one of Shalamar’s most enduring LPs, plus Isleys, P-Funk and albums from Total Experience Records. Full coverage/pre-order links here!

David Allan Coe

Blue Oyster Cult, Imaginos / Sea Level, Cats on the Coast/On the Edge Wilderness Road, Sold for the Prevention of Disease Only / David Allan Coe, Texas Moon / Eddy Arnold, Complete Original #1 Hits / Johnny Lytle, The Soulful Rebel/People & Love / Allspice, Allspice / Larry Williams, That Larry Williams (Real Gone Music)

Read all about Real Gone’s latest here.

Essential Mott

Midnight Oil, Essential Oils / Indigo Girls, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mott the Hoople, Harry Nilsson, Pete Seeger, Andy Williams, Johnny Winter, The Essential (Legacy)

Two-disc Essential sets for a bunch of artists! Unreleased tracks can be enjoyed on the Andy Williams and Nilsson sets, and the others are solid overviews.  Joe reviews ’em here!

Indigo Girls: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Jerry Lee Lewis: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Midnight Oil: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Mott: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Nilsson: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Seeger: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Andy Williams: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Johnny Winter: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

History of Eagles

Eagles, History of the Eagles (Jigsaw)

The new two-part documentary on the legendary rock band, coupled with an unreleased concert from 1977.

DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Blu-ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Super Deluxe Blu-Ray: Amazon U.S.

Tubes - Remote Control

The Tubes, Remote Control: Expanded Edition (Iconoclassic)

Four unreleased tracks complement this new version of the band’s final A&M album, a classic concept album produced by Todd Rundgren. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ambrosia - Life Beyond LA

Ambrosia, Life Beyond L.A.: Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)

Led by David Pack, this smooth album spun off the hit “How Much I Feel”; here, it’s expanded with an unreleased bonus live set. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Phyllis Hyman - Somewhere

G.C. Cameron, Love Songs and Other Tragedies: Expanded Edition / Phyllis Hyman, Somewhere in My Lifetime: Expanded Edition / Meli’sa Morgan, Good Love: Expanded Edition / Nancy Wilson, Music on My Mind / Life, Love and Harmony (SoulMusic Records) (Order all titles here from Amazon U.K.)

Here’s the latest batch from Cherry Red’s SoulMusic Records label!  Read Joe’s review of Somewhere in My Lifetime here!

James Taylor - JT Paper Sleeve

West, Bruce and Laing, Whatever Turns You On / West, Bruce and Laing, Live ‘n’ Kickin’ / Walter Egan, Fundamental Roll/Not Shy / James Taylor, JT/Flag/Dad Loves His Work (Culture Factory)

The latest in mini-LP replica remasters from Culture Factory.

Cleveland (Still) Rocks: Ian Hunter “Complete Singles Collection 1975-83” Released By 7Ts

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What do Great White, The Presidents of the United States of America and Barry Manilow have in common?  Why, Ian Hunter, of course.  The former Mott the Hoople frontman provided those three with enduring songs, respectively, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” “Cleveland Rocks” and “Ships.”  The career of the singer and songwriter is being celebrated by Cherry Red’s 7Ts label with the release of Ian Hunter’s Singles Collection 1975-83.  This 2-CD set compiles all 29 sides released by Hunter as a solo artist during that period, including two stints on CBS and one on Chrysalis Records.

Though Mott the Hoople’s biggest hit came from David Bowie’s glam anthem “All the Young Dudes” (No. 3 U.K., 1972), Hunter was a prolific songwriter himself.  Flush with the success of a hit single, both Hunter and the band, previously on the verge of a break-up, were revitalized.  Mott rode the glam rock train with further hits like “Honaloochie Boogie” and “All the Way from Memphis,” and scored successful albums, as well.  But all wasn’t well within the Mott camp.  Despite having just brought guitarist and frequent Bowie collaborator Mick Ronson into the band in 1974, Hunter soon departed.  By the year’s end, he had departed Mott, citing nervous exhaustion.  Ronson followed suit.  But despite calling it quits with a successful band, Ian Hunter wasn’t done with making music.

The Singles Collection kicks off with the 1975 single that made Hunter’s name as a solo artist, the original version of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.”  Recorded at George Martin’s AIR Studios, it was taken from his eponymous solo debut.  Hunter was joined by Ronson as arranger, guitarist and co-producer for the track which made it to No. 14 on the U.K. chart.  (Great White’s 1989 cover version went all the way to the Top 5 in America.)  Phil Hendriks’ detailed, track-by-track liner notes for The Singles Collection point out that “Once Bitten” was Hunter’s only hit U.K. single as a solo artist, but clearly, fellow musicians were taking notice.  His next album, All American Alien Boy, saw him joined by jazz greats David Sanborn and Jaco Pastorius, as well as drummer Aynsley Dunbar and even the members of Queen!  Queen can be heard on “You Nearly Did Me In.”  (For fans of that album, the single version of its title track might come as a surprise, as it was a wholly unique recording.)

Cover versions of Hunter’s songs also began to proliferate, a trend which would continue as the decades passed.  “Who Do You Love” received a recording by The Pointer Sisters.  1979’s “Cleveland Rocks” was recorded by The Presidents of the United States of America in 1997 and got a second lease on life when the song was selected as the theme song to television’s long-running The Drew Carey Show.  And Barry Manilow brought the tender, haunting ballad “Ships” into the American Top 10; Hunter has credited Manilow with adding the key changes that transformed the song into a bit of a power ballad.  (The Singles Collection also includes the original version of “Cleveland Rocks,” recorded as “England Rocks,” in 1977.)

What does Meat Loaf have to do with Ian Hunter?  What tracks will you find on The Singles Collection?  How can you order?  You’ll find answers to all of those questions, and more, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 27, 2012 at 09:54