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David Foster Makes Christmas “Merry and Bright” With Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, More

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Merry and Bright

In a career spanning five decades, producer-musician-songwriter David Foster has virtually become a brand name in himself. After making his name in bands like Skylark and Airplay, the Canadian multi-hyphenate contributed as sideman, writer and arranger to albums by George Harrison, Diana Ross, Donna Summer and Earth Wind and Fire; he won one of his sixteen Grammy Awards for co-writing that band’s “After the Love is Gone.” Beginning in the 1980s, he launched a solo career and also established himself as a marquee producer for artists as diverse as The Tubes, Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Chicago. Today, he heads up the venerable Verve Music Group. The Foster oeuvre, ranging from R&B to AOR and MOR, has been anthologized in the past, but Starbucks is putting a spin on a “Foster’s greatest hits” CD with a new, exclusive holiday compilation. Merry and Bright samples the holiday music recorded by producer Foster over the years with contributions from artists including Celine Dion, Michael Bublé and Rod Stewart.

Unsurprisingly, Merry and Bright leans heavily on the adult contemporary balladeers that have become Foster’s stock in trade. Michael Bublé kicks off the compilation with Meredith Willson’s classic “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” from the fellow Canadian’s chart-topping 2011 holiday release. Mel Tormé and Robert Wells’ standard “The Christmas Song” is rendered by Celine Dion from her 1998 Grammy-nominated These Are Special Times. Dion shared a duet on that album with Italian crossover tenor Andrea Bocelli, who is featured on two songs here: “O Tannenbaum” and a duet on “Jingle Bells” with Jim Henson’s famous Muppets. A major break for Josh Groban was subbing for Bocelli on a rehearsal of his Dion duet, “The Prayer,” for the 1998 Grammy Awards. Groban became another associate of Foster’s. “Little Drummer Boy” is heard here from Groban’s 2007 quintuple-platinum release Noël, the best-selling album in the U.S. for the entire year.

After the jump: more details including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 26, 2014 at 15:06

Review: Rod Stewart, “Live 1976-1998: Tonight’s the Night”

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Rod Stewart - Live BoxAfter more than a decade mining the Great American Songbook, seventies rock, vintage soul and Christmas carols, Rod Stewart returned to original rock material with the 2013 release of Time. And while much of the titular subject had indeed passed since his last album of new songs, Stewart’s distinctive voice and joie de vivre were happily intact. The spirit that has kept Stewart a superstar is fully on display in the new 4-CD box set Tonight’s the Night – Live 1976-1998. Over its four discs and 58 previously unheard live recordings, we hear Stewart the singer coexisting with Stewart the showman, blazing through songs both familiar and rarely performed.

It’s easy to forget just how damn good a singer Stewart is – but there’s ample evidence on this belated companion to the lavish Sessions box set also produced by Andy Zax and Cheryl Pawelski. It doesn’t hurt that he’s surrounded himself over the years with a group of sympathetic musicians, many of whom were long-serving. Guitarists Jim Cregan, Gary Grainger and Billy Peek, bassist Phil Chen, drummer Carmine Appice (most notably of Vanilla Fudge) and keyboardists John Jarvis and later, Kevin Savigar, particularly make an impression here with the performances between 1976 and 1980. Cregan and Savigar also are heard on the shows from 1981 and 1984, with Cregan returning again in 1993 with Stewart’s old Faces cohort Ian McLagan on organ.

Stewart’s connection with his audience is palpable, with numerous audience sing-alongs preserved on these four discs. (A long audience interlude on the first disc’s “Maggie May” brings the radio staple up to nearly the nine-minute mark!)   This expertly-curated set makes the case that Stewart never really stopped rocking, and that even when his records were overly slick, he was still pouring heart, soul and sweat into his live performances. No, for the most part, these live cuts don’t veer too far from the studio originals, and there’s not a lot of onstage banter included, but there’s energy and a pleasing rough-and-tumble quality that make for substantially different listening. Surprisingly, there’s little repetition on this set, as well, so all four discs feel fresh.

The first disc is culled entirely from U.K. performances in December 1976, and practically plays like a “Greatest Hits Live,” with “You Wear It Well,” “Tonight’s the Night,” “I Don’t Want to Talk About It,” and “Maggie May” among its selections. A Night on the Town was Stewart’s most recent studio set, and he drew on it for these concerts in Leicester and Newcastle with “Tonight’s the Night,” “The Killing of Georgie,” “Big Bayou” and “The Wild Side of Life.” Just one month before these concerts, Stewart’s Beatles cover “Get Back” saw release on the soundtrack of All This and World War II, and that’s here, too.   The original six-piece Rod Stewart Group (with Cregan, Grainger, Peek, Jarvis, Chen and Appice) was equally adept with rock and roll and balladry. “Big Bayou” and “The Wild Side of Life” show off stinging guitars and pounding piano inspired by the likes of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock and Roller,” which also heard here in a lengthy “jam” version clocking in at nearly nine minutes in length. And the ballads have a happily ragged feel, with Danny Whitten’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” (a hit twice over for Stewart, in 1975 and 1989) a particular standout.

The lusty “Tonight’s the Night” is one of the best examples of the artist’s knack for pop songcraft, and the song is well-served live by his throaty rasp. Grit has always been an important part of the Stewart sound, and if the voice wasn’t usually pretty, it was always expressive; his radio-banned admonition to “Spread your wings and let me come inside” is even more pointed here. (There are, naturally, plenty of audible screams from the ladies in the house.)

On all four discs, Stewart’s interpretations of songs made famous by others are a main attraction. Rod had recorded the first cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel” for his 1972 Never a Dull Moment. It’s hard-rocking, but Stewart and his band emphasized the song’s sweet soul, too. In addition to the rollicking, spirited “Get Back,” the first disc also captures Stewart’s love of Motown expressed via the barroom rock of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and “This Old Heart of Mine,” the latter in a rather low-key performance. A 1991 performance of the Isley Brothers’ “Old Heart” is also included for comparison’s sake.

It’s gonna be alright if you hit the jump to keep reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 9, 2014 at 09:56

Posted in Box Sets, Compilations, Reviews, Rod Stewart

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Release Round-Up: Week of March 25

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Johnny Cash Out Among the StarsJohnny Cash, Out Among the Stars (Columbia/Legacy)

This new album of newly-discovered mid-’80s outtakes is perhaps better than what was released at the time. Gorgeous and, at times, haunting, the way Johnny Cash albums should be.

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

Elton GBYR 40 Super DeluxeElton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: 40th Anniversary Edition (Mercury/Rocket/UMe)

Elton’s classic double album comes back to glorious life with several lavish editions, featuring new covers of songs from the set, B-sides, live material and more.

1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
4CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Okie from MuskogeeMerle Haggard, Okie from Muskogee: 45th Anniversary Special Edition (Capitol Nashville)

Haggard and The Stranger’s classic 1969 live album is remastered and paired with the next year’s follow-up The Fightin’ Side of Me, in its first-ever CD release. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Miles at the FillmoreMiles Davis, Miles at the Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy)

Four discs of mostly-unheard jazz experimentation from one of Miles’ most challenging and enjoyable periods. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Rod Stewart - Live BoxRod Stewart, Live 1976-1998: Tonight’s the Night (Warner Bros./Rhino)

This long-rumored box, featuring 58 unheard recordings, now offers a fitting chronicle of Rod in concert. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

My Chem May Death Never  Stop YouMy Chemical Romance, May Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013 (Reprise)

New Jersey’s own late lamented My Chem, one of the best alt-rock bands of the past decade, release a career-spanning compilation with one unreleased song and several demos.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. 
CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. 
2LP/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Essential Eric CarmenEric Carmen, The Essential Eric Carmen (Arista/Legacy)

A lovingly-assembled two-disc compilation honoring the talents of the singer/songwriter, from The Raspberries to today. Includes the gorgeous new track “Brand New Year.” (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Blue Nile Peace At LastThe Blue Nile, Peace At Last: Deluxe Edition (Virgin/UMC)

A surprise expansion of the Glasgow pop group’s 1996 album. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Far Beyond DrivenPantera, Far Beyond Driven: 20th Anniversary Edition (EastWest/Rhino)

The band’s hit 1994 album paired with a live bootleg disc of the band’s Monsters of Rock Festival 1994 performance. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

High Land Hard RainAztec Camera, High Land Hard Rain: Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition (Domino)

The Scottish rock band’s first album is expanded to just about completion, with single sides and unreleased tracks on a bonus disc.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

TotoToto, TotoHydra / Turn Back (Rock Candy)

Toto’s perfectly crafted AOR-pop blend is represented by their first three albums, newly remastered for CD by Rock Candy.

Toto: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
HydraAmazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Turn BackAmazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Bruce BDVarious Artists, A MusiCares Tribute to Bruce Springsteen (Columbia)

Last year’s multi-artist live tribute concert in honor of The Boss, capped with a mini-set by Springsteen and The E Street Band.

DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Micky DolenzMicky Dolenz, Micky Dolenz Puts You to Sleep / Broadway Micky (Friday Music)

Two of Micky’s children’s albums for Kid Rhino from 1991 and 1994 reappear in print on one disc. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Message from the MagicBlue Magic, Message from the Magic (FunkyTownGrooves)

The Philadelphia soul band’s fifth album from 1977 is remastered and released for the first time on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Island HarvestRonnie Lane and Slim Chance, Ooh La La: An Island Harvest (Mercury)

A hits-and-rarities compilation from the late Small Faces/Faces bassist’s mid-’70s group. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lou Reed BDJoni Mitchell, Woman of Heart and Mind + Painting with Words and Music / Lou Reed, Classic Albums: Transformer + Live at Montreux 2000 (Eagle Rock)

Eagle Rock brings four vintage programs back to video with these two Blu-ray releases, both part of the label’s new “SD Blu-ray” line.  As indicated, these programs are in upscaled standard definition video but have been upgraded to “uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD high resolution surround sound.”

Joni: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lou: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

He Wears It Well: Long-Delayed Rod Stewart Box Set Back On Track For March Release

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Rod Stewart - Live Box

2014’s gonna be alright for fans of Rod Stewart.

Following 2012’s sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll memoir Rod: The Autobiography and the 2013 release of Rarities (largely culled from the box set The Rod Stewart Sessions: 1971-1998), the one-time Rod the Mod and all-time superstar is still in a reflective mood.  Stewart will look back on three decades of concert performances with the March 18 release from Warner Bros. Records of Live 1976-1998: Tonight’s the Night.  This long-rumored box set consists of 4 CDs and 58 never-before-released live recordings, and draws on various sources from both sides of the Atlantic such as Stewart’s 1976 U.K. tour, L.A. gigs from 1979 and 1993, Wembley Arena concerts from 1980 and 1981, a 1984 performance in San Diego, a 1989 stand in New Jersey, and a 1998 return to London.

The first disc, from the 1976 tour, sets the box’s template, with hits appearing alongside cover versions (some familiar in Rod’s renditions, others not).  Hence, you’ll hear Rod doing “You Wear It Well,” “Maggie May” and the title track “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” as well as Danny Whitten’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” (a 1977 chart-topping single for Stewart which was re-recorded in 1998 and became a hit a second time), The Beatles’ “Get Back” (recorded by Rod for the film All This and World War II) and Motown favorites like “(I Know) I’m Losing You” from Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story and “This Old Heart of Mine” from  Atlantic Crossing.

Disc 2 covers the period of 1976-1981 and Stewart’s live explorations from blues-rock to disco.  The classic R&B soulbook (to steal from the title of Rod’s 2009 covers album) was tapped for medleys (“(I Know) I’m Losing You/It’s All Over Now/Standin’ in the Shadows of Love/Layla” and “Twistin’ the Night Away/Every Picture Tells a Story”) and stand-alone songs like Willie Dixon’s torrid “I Just Want to Make Love to You.”  Stewart’s 1977 hit “Hot Legs” is heard as a sizzling duet with Tina Turner, as is the rocking title track of 1978’s Blondes Have More Fun.  The third CD (1984-1989) has the 1977 hit “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” and the deathless disco romp “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” along with 1988’s Bob Dylan-inspired “Forever Young” and Otis Redding staples “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” and “Try a Little Tenderness.”  Rod’s reinvention of Jeff Fortgang’s “Some Guys Have All the Luck” (first recorded by The Persuaders in 1973) appears, as does a live performance of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.”

The final disc of the set takes Stewart from 1991 to 1998, reprising “This Old Heart of Mine” as well as “Twistin’ the Night Away” (this time paired with Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang”).  Many of Stewart’s key singles are represented, such as 1989’s Tom Waits cover “Downtown Train,” Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe” (1992), Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” (1992/1993) and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” (1992).  “Cigarettes and Alcohol” and “Rocks” close out the box set, both from Rod’s final studio album of the 1990s, When We Were the New Boys.  This disc also features a stab at Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music” and concert favorites like “Mandolin Wind,” “Handbags and Gladrags” and Faces’ “Stay with Me.”

After the jump, we have the complete track listing, pre-order links and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 18, 2014 at 10:46

Posted in Box Sets, News, Rod Stewart

Release Round-Up: Week of September 3

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Rod Stewart - RaritiesRod Stewart, Rarities (Mercury/UMe)

It’s Rod at his rarest: two discs of outtakes, non-LP singles and other good stuff, including two unreleased BBC session tracks. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Real Gone September 30 GroupJefferson Starship, Live in Central Park NYC May 12, 1975 / Claudia Lennear, Phew! / Ponderosa Twins Plus One, 2+2+1=Ponderosa Twins Plus One / Jo Ann Campbell, All the HitsHer Complete Cameo Recordings / Joanie Sommers, Come Alive!—The Complete Columbia Recordings / Stonewall Jackson, Original Greatest Hits / The Paley Brothers, The Complete Recordings (Real Gone Music)

The latest releases from the folks at Real Gone Music, all of which you can read about here.

Jefferson Starship: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Claudia Lennear: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Ponderosa Twins Plus One: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Jo Ann Campbell: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Joanie Sommers: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Stonewall Jackson: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Paley Brothers: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Crises BoxMike Oldfield, Five Miles Out Crises: Deluxe Editions (Mercury/UMC)

The latest in the Mike Oldfield reissue series includes a triple-disc version of his seventh album from 1982 and a five-disc version of the 1983 follow-up.

Five Miles Out CD: Amazon U.K.
Five Miles Out 2CD+DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Five Miles Out LP: Amazon U.K.
Crises CD: Amazon U.K.
Crises 2CD: Amazon U.K.
Crises 3CD+2DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Crises LP: Amazon U.K.

yesboxYes, High Vibration SACD Box (Warner Music Japan)

A new hybrid SACD box set includes every Yes album from 1969 to 1987, plus a 12-track disc of bonus non-LP tracks and remixes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Rocky Horror BoxVarious Artists, The Rocky Horror Show: Album Box Set (Salvo)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show box set, released on CD in 1990, is replicated on this new set from Salvo. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Breeders LSXX vinylThe Breeders, LSXX (4AD/Beggars Archive)

Already available on CD, this expanded edition of The Breeders’ Last Splash comes as a seven-disc vinyl box. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Kim Wilde Close 25Kim Wilde, Close: Remastered Expanded Edition (Universal U.K.)

One of Kim Wilde’s most successful albums gets the double-disc treatment. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Monterey PopVarious Artists, Monterey International Pop Festival (Salvo)

Four discs of performances from the acclaimed 1967 festival. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Gilbert Every Song Has Its PlayGilbert O’Sullivan, By Larry Every Song Has Its Play (Salvo/Union Square Music)

O’Sullivan’s 1994 and 1995 albums are the latest to be reissued by Salvo, with new sleeve notes (and a bonus track for Larry).

By Larry: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Every Song Has Its Play: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Rush Hemispheres SACDPoco, Pickin’ Up the Pieces / Rush, Hemispheres (Hybrid SACD-DSD) (Audio Fidelity)

The latest SACDs from Audio Fidelity: Poco’s 1969 debut, mastered by Steve Hoffman, and a Kevin Gray-mastered version of Rush’s sixth album.

Poco: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Rush: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Wake Up, Maggie: Mercury Compiles Rod Stewart’s Early “Rarities” On 2 CDs

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Rod Stewart - RaritiesEarlier this year, Rod Stewart released Time, marking the return of Stewart the songwriter. Time found the one-time Mod in reflective mode. Rolling Stone praised its “lighthearted warmth” while The Guardian noted its “wistful, nostalgic love songs [and] thoughtful divorce laments.” Clearly, Stewart had found some inspiration following a decade-long sojourn into the Great American Songbook, classic rock and soul tracks, and even holiday music. These “covers” collections left many critics cold but were unquestionably successful, and among the most commercially rewarding music of Stewart’s long career. Still, it was a breath of fresh air in 2009 when Warner Bros. and Rhino celebrated his early sound with The Rod Stewart Sessions. The 4-CD box set produced by Cheryl Pawelski and Andy Zax premiered 63 unreleased recordings spanning a 25-year period of creativity. Mercury is revisiting that set with the September 3 release of Rarities, a new 2-CD, 24-track anthology. Rarities reprises 12 tracks from Sessions and adds other singles and one-offs, plus two previously unreleased live radio recordings.

The 12 tracks originally issued on Sessions represent alternates and early versions of songs from Stewart’s third, fourth and fifth solo LPs Every Picture Tells a Story (1971), Never a Dull Moment (1972) and Smiler (1974). An early version of Stewart’s signature hit “Maggie May” and an alternate of the Brewer and Shipley-penned “Seems Like a Long Time” represent Every Picture, produced by the singer and featuring the Faces save Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones. Ron Wood, Andy Pyle and Danny Thompson took over bass from Lane, and Mick Waller stepped in for Jones on drums. Guitarist Martin Quittenton was another major player, co-writing “Maggie May” and helping to shape Stewart’s sound with his acoustic tone.

Never a Dull Moment (an accurate title if there ever was one) picked up where its predecessor left off, and featured much of the same crew plus Jones and Lane. From this album, Rarities includes embryonic versions of its biggest hit “You Wear It Well” (like “Maggie,” written by Stewart and Quittenton) and “Italian Girls,” plus a stripped-down alternate of “Los Paraguayos” and unique takes of two covers: the Etta James scorcher “I’d Rather Go Blind” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.”

1974’s Smiler didn’t repeat the acclaim of Stewart’s past work, but the songs from its sessions heard on Rarities make a strong case for the LP. Stewart and Quittenton’s strong “Farewell” is a bit longer than the final album version. A Rod Stewart/Ron Wood composition, “Think I’ll Pack My Bags,” was never completed for Smiler, but turned up with new lyrics as “Mystifies Me” on Wood’s 1974 solo album I’ve Got My Own Album to Do… with Rod on backing vocals. “So Tired,” written by the solo Stewart, was originally recorded for Smiler but remained unreleased until 1995’s Handbags and Gladrags compilation. It’s heard twice on Rarities: once in the rough Sessions version and once in the Handbags version. The song’s evolution can also be charted with the alternate lyric of “Missed You.” That track, too, premiered in 1995 and is included here. Also from Handbags: outtakes “You Put Something Better Inside Me” and “Crying Loving Laughing Lying,” and a summer 1973 take of Cole Porter’s 1944 standard “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” that anticipates Stewart’s Great American Songbook recordings by nearly 30 years. Rounding out the Smiler tracks are alternates of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Man” and Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country.”

What else will you find on Rarities? Hit the jump for more, plus the full track listing and pre-order links!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 1, 2013 at 10:15

Friday Feature: “Night Shift”

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Fate works in mysterious ways.  Dionne Warwick was home one evening, half-asleep while the 1982 film Night Shift played on her television set.  “I didn’t really pay attention to the names that were going up on the credits,” Warwick recounted, “but I knew that was Burt Bacharach’s melody.  There was no way in the world it could be anybody else’s.”  She was speaking of “That’s What Friends Are For,” an all-but-forgotten song written for the 1982 film Night Shift, Ron Howard’s major big screen directorial debut.  “Friends” set lyrics to Bacharach’s main love theme for the film, and was performed by Rod Stewart.

Warwick had recently reconciled with Bacharach after a decade-plus of estrangement; the catalyst was producer Aaron Spelling, who wished to have a Bacharach/Warwick collaboration as the theme to his 1984 television drama Finder of Lost Loves.  The very next day after hearing “Friends,” Warwick phoned Bacharach and his then-wife and principal lyricist, Carole Bayer Sager.  She let them know that she wished to cut the song herself.  “And they were thrilled,” said Warwick.  “They figured that nobody had heard the song, except the two of them – and Rod Stewart!”  Warwick then hit upon the idea of inviting some of her famous friends to join the recording sessions, and a groundbreaking No. 1 record (both pop and R&B!) was born.  “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends (Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder) would be the biggest hit of Warwick’s career, a feather in the cap for Bacharach and Sager, and perhaps most importantly, a major rallying cry and fundraiser for AIDS awareness.  Arista Records, the artists, producers, publishers and respective unions all donated their proceeds to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR).  When Rhino Records included the song on its 1998 box set The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection, Rhino followed suit.

“That’s What Friends Are For” is the major musical legacy of Night Shift.  The original soundtrack version remains a hidden gem in Rod Stewart’s deep catalogue.  But for today’s Friday Feature, we look not only at the original “Friends,” but the soundtrack contributions from Quarterflash, Al Jarreau, The Pointer Sisters, Marshall Crenshaw, Talk Talk and more!  Hit the jump to join Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton and Shelley Long on the night shift! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 22, 2011 at 12:10

Release Round-Up: Week of February 1

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George Michael, Faith: Legacy Edition (Epic/Legacy)

There’s going to be a review of the two-disc/one-DVD edition of this album (also available as a deluxe box set) coming up later today, but let me say right now: Damn. If you forgot how good this record was – how it makes a lot of ’80s pop look temporarily flawed and full of effort – go buy this immediately. I’ll wait. (Official site)

Bob Marley and The Wailers, Live Forever: September 23, 1980 – The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA (Tuff Gong/UMe)

A two-disc set of Marley’s final concert, presented in full to honor the reggae immortal. Note that this is the first catalogue set of the year with some retail exclusives: Best Buy’s version comes with a bonus disc (exact content has not been confirmed), while Target’s exclusive is a T-shirt. Of course, hardcore fans can skip both and get the super-deluxe version of this set. (Official site)

Aretha Franklin, The Great American Songbook (Columbia/Legacy)

A single-disc teaser for March’s exhaustive box set covering her entire Columbia tenure, before the Queen joined Atlantic. (Amazon)

Kiki Dee, I’m Kiki Dee: The Fontana Years (RPM)

Before she promised Elton John not to go breakin’ any hearts, Kiki Dee was a soulful pop singer on Fontana Records; a good chunk of her work is collected herein. (RPM)

Rod Stewart, The Best of the Great American Songbook (J)

Zzzzzzzzzz…..oh! Sorry. A compilation of the five Great American Songbook albums Rod has released in the past decade. (Official site)

Written by Mike Duquette

February 1, 2011 at 08:48

Fly Him to the Moon

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Nobody’s denying the greatness of Rod Stewart’s early career, both with The Faces and on his own. But since 2002, the man can’t stop putting out MOR albums devoted to The Great American Songbook. And it’s inspired a host of copycats, from Barry Manilow to Phil Collins.

Not content with his five(!) Songbook LPs, J Records will release The Best of The Great American Songbook next year. It’s a no-frills collection of the highlights of all those albums and will probably sell a million copies to the surprise of both everyone and no one.

Curious folks: order it here and parse the track list after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 23, 2010 at 12:28

News Roundup: Rhino Releases, Ray Davies and More – 1/13/2010

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  • Anyone worried about last year’s report on the seeming demise of Rhino Entertainment can rest a little easier. Not only are they still afloat, but Rhino handmade, their specialty boutique arm, is actually offering a poll to bring back into print one of several limited edition sets.
  • Speaking of Rhino, there are a few neat new online-only titles up for sale. There’s Rod Stewart’s Once in a Blue Moon, a semi-“lost” album of covers intended for release in 1993; an exhaustively comprehensive Wilson Pickett set, Funky Midnight Mover: The Atlantic Studio Recordings 1962-1978 and a triple-disc deluxe edition of The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees. Links are here, here and here.
  • In case you missed it during the holiday season, Ray Davies announced on his official Web site that 2010 would see deluxe editions of some records by The Kinks, particularly Something Else by The Kinks, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of The British Empire) and Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. No clue as to which label will distribute these (recent catalogue material has been handled by Castle/Sanctuary in the UK, which is distributed by Universal).
  • Finally, a few notable catalogue titles from Universal coming along the pipes thanks to MusicTAP: namely, The Who’s Greatest Hits Live from Geffen/UMe on March 23 and a 50th Anniversary Collection title for Loretta Lynn on MCA Nashville a week later, on March 30.

Got any reissue/remaster tips you want to see in this space, or just some feedback on the catalogue news of the day? Shoot an e-mail to

Written by Mike Duquette

January 13, 2010 at 14:51