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In Memoriam: Phil Ramone (1934-2013)

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Phil Ramone 1Today, The Second Disc remembers Phil Ramone.

The multiple Grammy-winning producer, 79, died on Saturday, leaving behind a legacy of song from artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to Paul McCartney, Barry Manilow to The Band.  Yet unlike so many of his contemporaries, Phil Ramone didn’t have a signature style.  Instead of molding a band or singer to a preferred sonic specialty, he was a true architect of sound, tailoring each production to the individual artist.  Ramone was equally comfortable with pop, rock, jazz, R&B, and the worlds of Broadway and Hollywood, not to mention classical – the genre in which Ramone started his love affair with music, as a Juilliard-trained violin prodigy.

Phil Ramone modestly titled his 2007 memoir Making Records, because that’s precisely what he did, from the day he and partner Jack Arnold opened the doors of New York’s A&R Studios in 1959.  Prior to that, he had been mentored by Charles Leighton at JAC Recording.  At A&R, Ramone perfected the art of engineering.  He earned his first Grammy for Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto’s immortal Getz/Gilberto, and soon A&R was the preferred destination for producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David to craft their movies-in-miniature with Dionne Warwick.  Ramone’s eclectic C.V. as an engineer and later, producer, took in pop princesses (Lesley Gore), folkies (Peter, Paul and Mary), jazz legends (Tony Bennett), superstars (Barbra Streisand), Beatles (Paul McCartney), Geniuses (Ray Charles), and Chairmen (Frank Sinatra), as well as everyone in between.

Chicago, Phoebe Snow, Kenny Loggins, Carly Simon, B.J. Thomas, Liza Minnelli, Rod Stewart, and of course, Paul Simon and Billy Joel all logged studio time with Phil Ramone at the console.  With Simon, Ramone helmed such beloved albums as There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and Still Crazy After All These Years, still cornerstones of the singer-songwriter’s catalogue.  With Joel, Ramone embarked on a seven-album, nine-year partnership that remains one of the most successful in rock history.  The duo also hold a place in the history books, as Joel’s 52nd Street, produced by Ramone, became the first commercially released compact disc when it hit stores in Japan on October 1, 1982.

To every project, Ramone brought an understated, subtle touch of class that squarely put the emphasis on music and sound: making each musician and singer’s contribution heard, cleanly and resonantly.  Even a partial list of songs with Ramone’s involvement is staggering: “Times of Your Life,” “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” “It Never Rains in Southern California,” “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born),” “Loves Me Like a Rock,” “Just the Way You Are,” “Afternoon Delight,” “Poetry Man,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Maniac.”

Phil Ramone could have ushered in 2013 basking in the glow of acclaimed recent albums from Dionne Warwick and Tony Bennett, but he remained active.  At the time of his death, he was working on a variety of characteristically diverse projects with artists such as George Michael and Glee star Matthew Morrison.  Bette Midler eulogized him as “kind beyond words,” echoing the sentiments of so many others.  Ben Folds called him “brilliant, generous, talented,” while Tony Bennett noted his “wonderful sense of humor and deep love of music.”  To celebrate the career of the legendary Phil Ramone, Mike and I have each contributed a playlist of ten favorite projects on which he worked.  These aren’t necessarily his most significant, or his most famous, though some might indeed be.  Taken together, they simply represent twenty slices of the versatility, dynamism and sheer hallmark of quality that made Phil Ramone an in-demand talent, and sympathetic collaborator of so many, for over fifty years.

If there’s a rock-and-roll heaven, you know they’ve got one helluva band, true.  But now there’s one helluva producer sitting at the desk.

Hit the jump for two interactive Phil Ramone Top 10s! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of February 14

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Barry White, Let the Music Play: Expanded Edition (Hip-o Select/Mercury)

What’s Valentine’s Day without a little satin soul? Numerous bonus tracks abound on a new pressing of this underrated gem of an album.

Captain Beefheart, Bat Chain Puller (Zappa)

The original, intended edition of the Captain’s lost album.

Cotton Mather, Kontiki: Deluxe Edition (The Star Apple Kingdom)

An underrated work of ’90s power-pop, expanded with a bonus disc of rarities and unreleased materials that was funded entirely through Kickstarter!

Pulp, ItFreaksSeparations: Deluxe Editions (Fire)

Before they signed to Island and caught a Britpop wave, Jarvis Cocker and company released these three albums, all newly expanded with rare and unreleased tracks.

Bryan Adams, Cuts Like a Knife / Dio, Holy Diver (Audio Fidelity)

Two classics of the ’80s newly mastered on 24KT gold CDs.

Phoebe Snow, Phoebe SnowJoe Walsh, But Seriously, Folks… (Friday Music)

The latest audiophile vinyl offerings from our friends at Friday Music.

The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (Mobile Fidelity)

The first MoFi/SACD pressing of a most classic of albums.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 14, 2012 at 07:57

Legacy Orders Another Round of “Playlist”

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It feels like it’s been a long time since the last batch of Playlist titles from Legacy (by our records, it’s been five months), but a bunch of new titles are on shelves as of yesterday.

There’s a lot of country and modern rock in this batch, including titles from Gene Autry, Phil Vassar and Joe Diffie (on the country end) and Say Anything, Coheed and Cambria and Mudvayne (on the rock end). There’s also one from rap/reggae artist Matisyahu (surely you recall the Orthodox Jewish musician, whose toasting abilities were stunningly high), sets from The Hooters, Kris Kristofferson, Rosemary Clooney and Phoebe Snow and at least one title pushed back from a previous batch (Philly-soulsters The Intruders).

All the sets are pretty generic hits-and-album-cuts compilations, the standard Playlist fare for sure (the Phil Vassar set is actually identical to his 2006 compilation Greatest Hits Vol. 1), but the set for former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland features a great amount of remixes from promos and hard-to-find CD singles that hardcore fans would probably want to add to their collections.

Hit the jump to check out all the titles and order them on Amazon here.

Kelly Rowland, Playlist: The Very Best of Kelly Rowland (Columbia/Legacy 88697 56711-2, 2011)

  1. When Love Takes Over – David Guetta with Kelly Rowland
  2. Dilemma (with Nelly)
  3. Haven’t Told You
  4. I’m Beginning to See the Light
  5. Beyond Imagination
  6. Work (Freemasons Radio Edit)
  7. Train on a Track (Rob Fusari Remix)
  8. Stole (5AM Remix)
  9. Like This (with Eve)
  10. Comeback
  11. Every Thought is You
  12. Still in Love with My Ex
  13. Daylight
  14. Can’t Nobody (Cedsolo Hip-Hop Remix)

Track 1 from One Love (Virgin/EMI, 2009)
Tracks 2-3 and 5 from Simply Deep (Columbia, 2002)
Track 4 from Mona Lisa Smile: Music from the Motion Picture (Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax, 2003)
Track 6 from “Work” CD single (Columbia, 2007). Original version from Ms. Kelly.
Track 7 from “Train on a Track” international CD single (Columbia, 2003). Original version from Simply Deep.
Track 8 from “Stole” U.K. CD single (Columbia, 2003). Original version from Simply Deep.
Tracks 9-12 from Ms. Kelly (Music World/Columbia, 2007)
Track 13 from Ms. Kelly: Diva Deluxe (Music World/Columbia, 2008)
Track 14 from “Can’t Nobody” U.K. CD single (Columbia, 2003). Original version from Simply Deep.

Matisyahu, Playlist: The Very Best of Matisyahu (Epic/Legacy 88697 80499-2, 2011)

  1. King Without a Crown
  2. Chop ‘Em Down (Live)
  3. Close My Eyes (Live)
  4. Youth
  5. Warrior
  6. Jerusalem (Out of Darkness Comes Light)
  7. Indestructible
  8. Spark Seekers
  9. Message in a Bottle
  10. One Day
  11. I Will Be Light (Live Acoustic)
  12. Smash Lies
  13. For You
  14. Temple

Tracks 1, 4 and 7 from Youth (JDub/Or/Epic, 2006)
Tracks 2-3 from Live at Stubb’s (JDub/Or, 2005)
Tracks 5-6 and 9 from No Place to Be (JDub/Or/Epic, 2006)
Track 8 from Youth Dub (JDub/Or/Epic, 2006)
Tracks 10 and 12-13 from Light (JDub/Or/Epic, 2009)
Track 11 previously unreleased
Track 14 from iTunes edition of Light (JDub/Or/Epic, 2009)

The Intruders, Playlist: The Very Best of The Intruders (Epic/Legacy 88697 80920-2, 2011)

  1. Together
  2. A Love That’s Real
  3. (We’ll Be) United
  4. Cowboys to Girls
  5. Me Tarzan, You Jane
  6. Friends No More
  7. Slow Drag
  8. (Love is Like a) Baseball Game
  9. Sad Girl
  10. When We Get Married
  11. Jack Be Nimble
  12. (You’d Better) Check Yourself
  13. I’ll Always Love My Mama
  14. Energy of Love

Tracks 1-3 and 12 from The Intruders Are Together (Gamble, 1967)
Tracks 4, 6 and 8-9 from Cowboys to Girls (Gamble, 1968)
Track 5 from Gamble single 225, 1969
Track 7 from Gamble single 221, 1968
Track 10 from When We Get Married (Gamble, 1970)
Track 11 from Music Voice single 504, 1964
Track 13 from Save the Children (Philadelphia International, 1973)
Track 14 from Energy of Love (TSOP, 1974)

Say Anything, Playlist: The Very Best of Say Anything (RCA/Legacy 88697 88912-2, 2011)

  1. The Writhing South
  2. Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too
  3. Woe
  4. I Want to Know Your Plans
  5. Every Man Has a Molly
  6. Admit It!!!
  7. Baby Girl, I’m a Blur
  8. Shiksa (Girlfriend)
  9. The Church Channel
  10. Hate Everyone
  11. Do Better
  12. Less Cute
  13. Crush’d
  14. Cemetery

Tracks 1 and 3-6 from Say Anything…is a Real Boy (Doghouse, 2004 – reissued J, 2006)
Track 2 from Say Anything…Was a Real Boy bonus disc (J, 2006)
Tracks 7-9 from In Defense of the Genre (J, 2007)
Tracks 10-14 from Say Anything (RCA, 2009)

The Hooters, Playlist: The Very Best of The Hooters (Columbia/Legacy 88697 92780-2, 2011)

  1. Brother, Don’t You Walk Away
  2. Day by Day
  3. All You Zombies
  4. And We Danced
  5. Satellite
  6. Karla with a K
  7. Fightin’ on the Same Side
  8. South Ferry Road
  9. Deliver Me
  10. Johnny B.
  11. Don’t Knock It ‘Til You Try It
  12. 500 Miles
  13. Blood from a Stone
  14. Graveyard Waltz

Tracks 1, 9, 11 and 12 from Zig Zag (Columbia, 1989)
Tracks 2-4, 8 and 13 from Nervous Night (Columbia, 1985)
Tracks 5-7, 10 and 14 from One Way Home (Columbia, 1987)

Mudvayne, Playlist: The Very Best of Mudvayne (Epic/Legacy 88697 93187-2, 2011)

  1. Dull Boy
  2. Dig
  3. Not Falling
  4. Fish Out of Water
  5. Do What You Do
  6. Beautiful and Strange
  7. Determined
  8. Scream with Me
  9. World So Cold
  10. Death Blooms
  11. Fall Into Sleep
  12. -1
  13. 1000 Mile Journey
  14. Happy?

Tracks 1 and 4-5 from The New Game (Epic, 2008)
Tracks 2, 10 and 12 from L.D. 50 (No-Name/Epic, 2000)
Tracks 3 and 9 from The End of All Things to Come (Epic, 2002)
Tracks 6, 8 and 13 from Mudvayne (Epic, 2009)
Tracks 7, 11 and 14 from Lost and Found (Epic, 2005)

Coheed & Cambria, Playlist: The Very Best of Coheed & Cambria (Columbia/Legacy 88697 93190-2, 2011)

  1. Welcome Home
  2. Here We Are, Juggernaut
  3. Devil in Jersey City
  4. Feathers
  5. The Running Free
  6. Pearl of the Stars
  7. The Suffering
  8. Ten Speed (of God’s Blood and Burial)
  9. A Favor House Atlantic
  10. Everything Evil
  11. No World for Tomorrow (Live)
  12. Blood Red Summer
  13. In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
  14. Wake Up (Acoustic)

Tracks 1 and 8 from Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (Columbia, 2005)
Tracks 2 and 6-7 from Year of the Black Rainbow (Columbia, 2010)
Tracks 3 and 10 from The Second Stage Turbine (Equal Vision/Defiance, 2002)
Tracks 4-5 from Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume 2: No World for Tomorrow (Columbia, 2007)
Track 11 from Neverender: Children of the Fence (Columbia, 2009)
Tracks 9 and 12-13 from In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (Equal Vision/Columbia, 2003)
Track 14 exact origin unknown

Phoebe Snow, Playlist: The Very Best of Phoebe Snow (Columbia/Legacy 88697 93886-2, 2011)

  1. Autobiography (Shine, Shine, Shine)
  2. Two-Fisted Love
  3. Teach Me Tonight
  4. No Regrets
  5. In My Girlish Days
  6. San Francisco Bay Blues (Live)
  7. Pre-Dawn Imagination
  8. Goin’ Down for the Third Time
  9. Sweet Disposition
  10. Garden of Joy Blues
  11. At Last (Live)
  12. There’s a Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon for New York
  13. Poetry Man
  14. Good Times (Live)

Tracks 1, 3 and 5 from It Looks Like Snow (Columbia, 1976)
Tracks 2, 4, 7-9 and 12 from Second Childhood (Columbia, 1976)
Track 6 exact origin unknown
Track 10 from Never Letting Go (Columbia, 1977)
Track 11 from The New York Rock and Soul Revue: Live at the Beacon (Giant, 1991)
Track 13 from Phoebe Snow (Shelter, 1974)
Track 14 from The Very Best of Phoebe Snow (Columbia/Legacy, 2001)

Rosemary Clooney, Playlist: The Very Best of Rosemary Clooney (Columbia/Legacy 88697 94178-2, 2011)

  1. Come On-a My House
  2. In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening
  3. Hey There
  4. Half as Much
  5. Botch-a-Me (Ba-Ba-Bacciami Piccina)
  6. The Lady is a Tramp
  7. You Started Something
  8. You Make Me Feel So Young
  9. Blue Rose
  10. Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me
  11. Blame It on My Youth
  12. Mambo Italiano
  13. This Ole House
  14. Tenderly
  15. Mangos
  16. From This Moment On

Billy Swan, Playlist: The Very Best of Billy Swan (Monument/Legacy 88697 94237-2, 2011)

  1. Everything’s the Same (Ain’t Nothin’ Changed)
  2. Your True Love
  3. Shake Rattle and Roll
  4. Number One
  5. I Just Want to Taste Your Wine
  6. Don’t Be Cruel
  7. Ubangi Stomp
  8. You’re the Pain (in My Heart)
  9. (You Just) Woman Handled My Mind
  10. Stranger
  11. Matchbox
  12. Vanessa
  13. Rock and Roll Moon Blues, Pt. 1
  14. I Can Help

Tracks 1, 7-10 and 13 from Rock ‘n’ Roll Moon (Monument, 1975)
Tracks 2, 4-5 and 12 from Billy Swan (Monument, 1976)
Tracks 3, 6 and 14 from I Can Help (Monument, 1974)
Track 11 from Choice Cuts (BMG, 1997)

Kris Kristofferson, Playlist: The Very Best of Kris Kristofferson (Monument/Legacy 88697 94238-2, 2011)

  1. Why Me
  2. To Beat the Devil
  3. Me and Bobby McGee
  4. Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down
  5. The Silver Tongued Devil and I
  6. Help Me Make It Through the Night
  7. Sugar Man
  8. Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)
  9. Stranger
  10. The Taker
  11. Nobody Wins
  12. For the Good Times
  13. Once More with Feeling
  14. Living Legend

Tracks 1, 7 and 11 from Jesus Was a Capricorn (Monument, 1972)
Tracks 2-4, 6 and 12 from Kristofferson (Monument, 1970)
Tracks 5, 8 and 10 from The Silver Tongued Devil and I (Monument, 1971)
Track 9 from Who’s to Bless and Who’s to Blame (Monument, 1975)
Track 13 from Shake Hands with the Devil (Monument, 1979)
Track 14 from Easter Island (Monument, 1978)

Gene Autry, Playlist: The Very Best of Gene Autry (Legacy 88697 94240-2, 2011)

  1. Back in the Saddle Again
  2. That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine
  3. You’re the Only Star (in My Blue Heaven)
  4. South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)
  5. My Mexicali Rose
  6. Blueberry Hill
  7. You Are My Sunshine
  8. I Hang My Head and Cry
  9. I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
  10. At Mail Call Tonight
  11. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
  12. Don’t Fence Me In
  13. Red River Valley
  14. Home on the Range

Track 1 from Columbia single 37010
Tracks 3 and 5 from Columbia single 37002

Joe Diffie, Playlist: The Very Best of Joe Diffie (Epic/Legacy 88697 94367-2, 2011)

  1. Home
  2. If You Want Me To
  3. If the Devil Danced (in Empty Pockets)
  4. Is It Cold in Here
  5. Not Too Much to Ask
  6. Ships That Don’t Come In
  7. Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)
  8. Honky Tonk Attitude
  9. John Deere Green
  10. Pickup Man
  11. Third Rock from the Sun
  12. So Help Me Girl
  13. Bigger Than The Beatles
  14. This is Your Brain

Tracks 1-3 from A Thousand Winding Roads (Epic, 1990)
Tracks 4 and 6 from Regular Joe (Epic, 1992)
Track 5 from Come On Come On (Columbia, 1992)
Tracks 7-9 from Honky Tonk Attitude (Epic, 1993)
Tracks 10-12 from Third Rock from the Sun (Epic, 1994)
Track 13 from Life’s So Funny (Epic, 1995)
Track 14 from Twice Upon a Time (Epic, 1997)

Phil Vassar, Playlist: The Very Best of Phil Vassar (originally released as Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – Arista Nashville 82876 78729-2, 2006 – reissued Arista Nashville/Legacy 88697 96972-2, 2011)

  1. Bye Bye
  2. In a Real Love
  3. Carlene
  4. I’m Alright
  5. Last Day of My Life
  6. My Next Thirty Years
  7. Little Red Rodeo
  8. American Child
  9. Twenty One
  10. Just Another Day in Paradise
  11. For a Little While
  12. The Woman in My Life
  13. Six-Pack Summer
  14. That’s When I Love You
  15. I’ll Take That as a Yes (The Hot Tub Song)

Tracks 1, 4-7, 9, 11 and 12 from Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (Arista Nashville, 2006)
Tracks 2 and 15 from Shaken Not Stirred (Arista Nashville, 2004)
Tracks 3, 10, 13 and 14 from Phil Vassar (Arista Nashville, 2000)
Track 8 from American Child (Arista Nashville, 2002)