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Release Round-Up: Week of August 19

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The Posies, Failure (Omnivore)

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

Omnivore expands the 1988 debut album from power-pop heroes The Posies.  The new Failure restores the album’s original 12-track running order (preserved on cassette but cut down by one song on vinyl) and adds eight bonus tracks. Many of these are sourced from a long out-of-print 2000 box set and a 2004 reissue of the album proper, but one, a demo of “At Least for Now,” is being heard for the first time on this disc.  The deluxe configuration is available on CD, and the original 12-track album on vinyl plus the bonus tracks on a download card.  Even better, the first pressing of the LP will be green vinyl!


Professor Longhair, Let’s Go to New Orleans: The Sansu Sessions (Fuel) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Fuel continues to raid the catalogues of Allen Toussaint’s Sansu and Dessu labels with a compilation of Toussaint-helmed sides for New Orleans’ great piano man Professor Longhair.

On the Town - London

Original London Cast Recording, On the Town (Masterworks Broadway)

In conjunction with the upcoming Broadway revival of the classic Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical, Masterworks Broadway brings the 1963 Original London Cast Recording to CD-R and DD for the first time.  Elliott Gould, Don McKay, Franklin Kiser and Carol Arthur star in this recording of the production directed and choreographed by Joe Layton.  Available exclusively at for a limited time.


Smokey Robinson, Smokey and Friends (Verve) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Okay, this isn’t a catalogue title, but we couldn’t resist putting the spotlight on Smokey Robinson’s new studio collection!  Smokey puts his own spin on the now-de rigeur duets album, featuring many of his famous Motown hits in new versions alongside Elton John, Sheryl Crow, John Legend, James Taylor, Steven Tyler and more!

Bitter Tears Revisited

Various Artists, Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited (Sony Masterworks) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This isn’t a reissue, either, but rather a tribute to The Man in Black’s 1964 concept album which daringly shed light on the plight of Native Americans.  This 50th anniversary set presents Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and veteran of the original LP Norman Blake as they reinvent Cash’s original songs with producer Joe Henry.  Look Again to the Wind is also a companion piece to the new documentary film We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited, chronicling the story of Bitter Tears and this new recording.

Spider - Kritzerland

Soren Hyldgaard, The Spider: Original Soundtrack Recording (Kritzerland)

Pre-orders are now being accepted for Kritzerland’s latest offering: Soren Hyldgaard’s spellbinding score to the 2000 Danish miniseries The Spider, a noir set in Copenhagen in the wake of World War II.  This 1,000-unit limited edition release improves on an earlier CD release in Denmark, upping the running time from around 44 minutes to nearly 79, mastered from the composer’s complete score tapes. The disc will ship by the last week of September, but pre-orders directly from Kritzerland usually arrive three to five weeks ahead of schedule.

Blow Out OST

Pino Donaggio, Blow Out: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Intrada)

Intrada has pre-orders open for this reissue of the soundtrack by Pino Donaggio (Carrie) for Brian DePalma’s 1981 thriller starring John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz and John Lithgow.  Though the haunting score was previously released on CD in 2002, Intrada corrects errors in track titles and sequencing, and otherwise upgrades its presentation for a new group of listeners who might have missed out on the first, now out-of-print release.

It’s Carnival Time At Ace With “The Ric and Ron Story Volume 1”

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Ric and Ron Story Vol 1While Ric and Ron Records were not the first little labels to make big noises out of New Orleans, Louisiana, they certainly were among the most influential. Between 1958 and 1963, Joe Ruffino’s labels boasted some of the Crescent City’s greatest artists – Professor Longhair, Irma Thomas, Chris Kenner, Eddie Bo, and Johnny Adams, to name a few. The U.K.’s Ace Records label has recently begun a new series chronicling The Ric and Ron Story, kicking off with Volume 1, You Talk Too Much. The compilation is so named for Ric single 972 by Joe Jones, the label’s only major nationwide hit – and perhaps, ironically, a side that was acquired on its way to the Top 10 by Morris Levy’s Roulette Records. This initial volume covers the period of 1958-1960 with 24 spirited, soulful R&B tracks in non-chronological order. All songs are in their original mono mixes.

Ric and its sister label Ron were founded in 1958 by New Orleans-based Joe Ruffino, and named for his sons. Though the labels were only active for a short period, some of the city’s greatest talents passed through the company’s doors. Ruffino founded Ric armed with masters from New Orleans’ Ace label (namesake for the current Ace Records) and went on to sign guitarist Al Blanchard in an A&R capacity and Al Johnson as an artist. When Blanchard moved on from the label, he was succeeded by Harold Battiste and Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, two gentlemen who would fill chapters in any book of N’awlins musical history. This illustrious team gave a break to the now-legendary Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas, who recorded her first single “(You Can Have My Husband but) Don’t Mess with My Man” for the Ron label. Thomas is featured on two sides here, the aforementioned “Don’t Mess with My Man” and the B-side of her follow-up single “I May Be Wrong.”

Al Johnson, Ruffino’s first artist, is represented with two songs, “You Done Me Wrong” and “Carnival Time.” Along with title track “You Talk Too Much,” Johnson’s “Carnival Time” may be the signature song here. Recorded at Cosimo Matassa’s renowned studio, it reflects the joyous mood we still associate with the resilient city of New Orleans to this very day. And although it’s still a well-known song around Mardi Gras time, the story of Big Easy native Johnson is one of as much darkness as light. Drafted into the U.S. Army after recording the song, he returned in 1964 to find himself in dire financial straits. (His sole discography consists of two singles released on Ric in 1958 and 1960.) But Johnson continued to persevere and perform. A refugee of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Johnson became a resident of Harry Connick Jr.’s Musicians Village project. He still can be found today, rousing appreciate audiences with “Carnival Time.”

Another New Orleans native, piano man Eddie Bo first made his name in traditional jazz circles before “defecting” to R&B. Apparently he was as dexterous with carpentry as with piano-playing; legend has it that Bo even built the Ric studio, coming from a long line of carpenters, bricklayers and shipbuilders! Also affected by the ravages of Katrina, Bo used his carpentry skills to help rebuild his neighborhood before his 2009 death. He’s heard here on 1959’s “You Got Your Mojo Working” and 1960’s “Tell It Like It Is” (not the same song that another famous son of New Orleans, Aaron Neville, took to the No. 2 spot on the Hot 100 in 1966).

Johnny Adams (you guessed it: a New Orleans native!) had his biggest successes in the late 1960s but began his recording career at Ric, where he worked with Mac Rebennack a.k.a. Dr. John as well as Eddie Bo. The future Dr. John produced “I Won’t Cry,” Adams’ first single for Ric, heard here in both its original version and a rare demo performance with guitar accompaniment. Adams arrived at Ric with a dramatic delivery (which inspired Aaron Neville, among others) and a big vocal style. Possessed with a great range, he could transition to a falsetto with ease. He’s also heard on “Come On,” also from 1959. Adams experienced a late-career resurgence when he signed with Rounder Records in 1983; he remained with the label until his death in 1998.

Edgar Blanchard was one of the most well-known session guitarists in New Orleans and had been a bandleader since the 1940s. Although he played on sessions for labels including Atlantic and Specialty, he actually recorded Ric’s first issued single. One side of that 45, “Let’s Get It,” is included here. Blanchard died in 1972. Like Blanchard, Professor Longhair, a.k.a. Henry Roeland “Roy” Byrd (1918-1980), was already an established name when he joined Ruffino’s labels. The good Professor’s piano style, it’s fair to say, shaped what is today thought of as the sound of New Orleans, and influenced Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Harry Connick, Jr., and countless others. He’s featured here with his definitive 1959 recording of “Go to the Mardi Gras” (which he first recorded in 1950) as well as with “Cuttin’ Out (Hey Now Baby).” Both tracks hail from his lone session for Ruffino. A special bonus here is a previously unreleased demo of Professor Longhair’s signature “Tipitina” recorded for Ric in 1959.

We have more after the jump, including the full track listing with discography, and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 22, 2014 at 10:09

Goin’ Back to New Orleans: Rounder Anticipates Mardi Gras With New Collection

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Laissez les bons temps rouler!  Each year, the good times do indeed roll in New Orleans, Louisiana, when the city throws the biggest Mardi Gras bash in the country.  Though carnival season is celebrated around the world, the revelry in New Orleans surely has one of the richest legacies, and a major part of that legacy is, of course, its music.  Rounder Records, founded in 1970 and now part of the Concord Music Group, has built a solid foundation of Cajun and carnival favorites in its impressive roots-music catalogue.  Twelve songs have been culled from the vaults of both Rounder and sister label Specialty Records for a new 12-track collection ins stores today, Meet Me at Mardi Gras.  With New Orleans’ Mardi Gras just a little over a month away (Tuesday, February 21 is the date!), the time is right for this instant party disc.

The twelve tracks date from the 1950s to the present day, blending both the familiar and the lesser-known.  The Soul Rebels’ 2011 sing-along “Say Na Hey” opens the album and is the most recent cut on the collection, juxtaposing some scorching electric guitar with the expected brass.  Another modern slant on the classic sound is present in the form of the New Orleans’ Nightcrawlers’ “Funky Liza,” their take on the traditional brass band favorite “Li’l Liza Jane.”  Chuck Carbo of The Spiders closes out the set with “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On,” a bit of carnival fun.

Vintage R&B sides take their place alongside these “future classics.”  Perennial “Bad Boy” Larry Williams is heard on his smoking 1957 reading of “Jockamo,” before the Dixie Cups reinvigorated the tune as “Iko-Iko.”  Also from the Specialty catalogue comes the classic jazz of Joe Liggins’ “Goin’ Back to New Orleans.”  One of the fathers of New Orleans piano, Professor Longhair, is represented with two songs.  He’s heard on a 1960s take of his own “Go to the Mardi Gras,” while Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias do the honors on the Professor’s “Tipitina” from their 1990 album I’m Back…at Carnival Time.  Al Johnson’s original 1960 recording of “Carnival Time” adds more authentic flavor.

Cajun music still thrives today in the French-speaking churches south and west of New Orleans, but holds a special place in Mardi Gras tradition.  “Mardi Gras Mambo,” originally recorded by Art Neville’s Hawkettes, is heard here in a rendition by Zachary Richard.  Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys contribute “La Danse de Mardi Gras,” a song central to Cajun dance festivities at Mardi Gras time.

Rounder’s Scott Billington has compiled the disc, and provides liner notes as well.  Meet Me at the Mardi Gras is in stores today from Rounder Records.  Hit the jump for an order link and the full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 10, 2012 at 13:30