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Archive for the ‘Smokey Robinson’ Category

Motown Memories Captured on New DVDs

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Oh, for the days when there was a bounty of venues to hear the latest, greatest music on television. By far, one of the greatest vanguards of popular music in the halcyon days of the medium was Ed Sullivan, host of his eponymous show from 1948 to 1971. While Sullivan found himself somewhat bemused by the wide variety of talent he showcased – legendarily confining camera angles on Elvis Presley to tight shots that wouldn’t expose too much of his gyrating hips – he generally picked performers regardless of the approval of the masses, a quality that led, happily, to a large amount of black performers on the show.

And by the 1960s, no roster of soul artists was more popular than Motown Records. Sullivan welcomed the greatest performers on Berry Gordy’s label to his program, from the jazz-soul of young Stevie Wonder and the upbeat harmonies of The Temptations to the breakthrough performances of The Jackson 5 and The Supremes – the latter of whom made nearly 20 appearances on the show and became a personal favorite of the host. On September 13, Sofa Entertainment, the controllers of The Ed Sullivan Show‘s library, will release three DVD sets chronicling great Motown performances from Sullivan’s program.

The first set, Motown Gold from The Ed Sullivan Show, is a two-disc, three-volume set that showcases the label’s top acts. In addition to the hit performances by The Supremes, The Temptations and The Four Tops (all of whom enjoyed a massive amount of exposure on the show up to the end of The Ed Sullivan Show‘s run), clips by Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and others are featured. While the clips aren’t in chronological order, they will make for a fine mix of Motown memories.

The same day will see releases of best-of DVDs for The Temptations and The Supremes. While some of the performances are featured on the Motown Gold set, a total of 25 performances (12 from The Temptations and 13 from The Supremes) are featured, including some great rarities like highlights from The Temptations’ 1971 performance, the last live broadcast of the show, and The Supremes’ 1970 performance of “Up the Ladder to the Roof” – the only group performance on the show without Diana Ross. (Ross’ solo career was in fact announced on the program in their final television appearance together.)

Hit the jump for pre-order links and the full rundown of each DVD, and prepare yourself for one of Second Disc HQ’s favorite sounds: “The Sound of Young America”! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 1, 2011 at 14:44

People All Over the World! A New “Soul Train” Comp Rolls Your Way

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For most of its 35-year run, there was no better outlet for soul music on television than Soul Train. Featuring a diverse palette of R&B artists and the commanding presence of creator/producer/host Don Cornelius, Soul Train has become an institution, the longest-running, nationally syndicated show in American history – albeit one that modern audiences would be slow to appreciate, were it not for the efforts of Time-Life Entertainment in releasing several official DVDs of content from the shows back in 2009.

Now, Time-Life follows up those discs with a special compilation, The Best of Soul Train Live, in stores tomorrow. While most of the performances on the program were lip-synched to the original tracks, a few here and there were not. And a dozen such performances will be captured on this DVD. Most of them stem from the show’s first four seasons, although there is a legendary 1979 duet between Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson on his “Ooo, Baby Baby” and a medley of hits from Stevie Wonder performed in 1991.

Hit the jump for full track details and an Amazon link, and remember – as always, we wish you love, peace…and soul! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of June 14

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Paul McCartney, McCartney: Deluxe Edition / McCartney II: Deluxe Edition (MPL/Concord)

The next entries in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, Macca’s first two purely solo LPs, originally released in 1970 and 1980. You’ve got your choice of formats: regular remasters, double-disc deluxe editions packed with extra content, vinyl sets or super-deluxe editions in hardback book cases (McCartney‘s deluxe edition adds a DVD while McCartney II adds another CD and a DVD). (Official site)

The Beatles, Anthology (Digital) (Apple/EMI)

Speaking of Beatles, iTunes now has all three volumes of Anthology available to download. They’re remastered, which of course doesn’t make any sense for a service like iTunes, which deals exclusively in low-res sound files. (iTunes)

ABBA, Super Trouper: Deluxe Edition (Polydor/UMe)

Another ABBA 30th anniversary edition, pairing the original album and bonus tracks with a DVD of new and old video content. (Official site)

Smokey Robinson, The Solo Albums: Volume 5 – Smokin’ (Hip-o Select/Motown)

Smokey’s 1978 live album, remastered and expanded with two bonus tracks. (Hip-o Select)

Neil Young and The International Harvesters, A Treasure (Reprise)

More live stuff from the archives, in this case an unreleased album from a 1984-1985 world tour available on CD or vinyl. (Official site)

Sebadoh, Bakesale: Deluxe Edition (Sub Pop)

The Massachusetts indie outfit’s 1994 album is expanded with a bonus disc of demos, B-sides and the like. (Official site)

Various Artists, Carousel: Studio Cast Recording (Masterworks/Arkiv)

A reissue of the 1955 studio cast recording of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical, the most complete version of the music at the time. (Arkiv)

Written by Mike Duquette

June 14, 2011 at 07:58

Dionne Warwick “Playlist” Includes CD Debut of Isaac Hayes Duet

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A couple of weeks back, Mike filled you in on the track listings for Sony’s upcoming slate of Playlist releases.  This eclectic bunch – including Muddy Waters, Dave Brubeck, Janis Ian and the Psychedelic Furs – hits stores next week on May 10.  Only one title’s track listing proved elusive, and now we can reveal that, too.  Most happily, it’s worth the wait.  Playlist: The Very Best of Dionne Warwick is, like many of the titles, an odd collection.  It’s not a “greatest hits” but more a random selection of key tracks and under-the-radar favorites.  And though Sony controls Warwick’s Arista catalogue, tracks have been licensed to make this more than just another “Dionne in the 1980s” compilation.

Warwick’s Playlist boasts one new-to-CD song, and it’s a keeper, the nearly 8-minute duet between Warwick and Isaac Hayes on two Burt Bacharach and Hal David classics, “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” and “Walk On By.”  Taken from the 1977 ABC Records live release A Man and A Woman, this long-unheard epic track finds Hayes and Warwick melding their distinct (and very different!) renditions of the songs into one harmonious whole.  Kudos to Playlist for going the extra mile to license this track.  Now, would a reissue of the entire album be too much to ask…?  (If you like what you hear, the Warwick/Hayes duet of “By The Time I Get to Phoenix/I Say a Little Prayer” made an appearance on CD via the 2005 Stax compilation Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It?. )

Other duets appear, as well.   The Thom Bell-produced Philly soul chart-topper “Then Came You,” with The Spinners, makes an appearance, licensed from Warner Bros., while The Shirelles reprise “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” with their former Scepter labelmate.  Smokey Robinson turns up on 1987’s “You’re My Hero,” and of course, “That’s What Friends Are For” is present, with Dionne singing alongside Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder.

The lone Scepter-era track is “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” not the Elton John song but rather a bossa nova-flavored Bacharach and David original from 1966’s LP Here I Am.  Two songs from 1980’s No Night So Long, only recently reissued in a wide release as an import, take a place on Playlist, though not the hit title track.  Three songs have been selected from Warwick’s 1979 Arista debut Dionne, including “Deja Vu,” written by Isaac Hayes and album producer Barry Manilow’s frequent lyricist Adrienne Anderson, and the radio staple “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.”  The Bee Gees-penned hit “Heartbreaker” has also been included, from the album of the same name.

Hit the jump for the full track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 5, 2011 at 11:38

Robinson Is “Smokin'” On 1978 Live Set Due from Hip-o Select

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The Supremes aren’t the only Motown act getting a little bit of reissue love today from Hip-o Select!

William “Smokey” Robinson has lived up to his nickname in a staggering seven decades now, setting the charts ablaze with particular frequency in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.  So it was with a deep catalogue already behind him – and yet more hits ahead of him – that Robinson recorded the double live album Smokin’, which arrived in stores in October 1978.

Back in January, The Second Disc confirmed the news that Volume 5 of Hip-o Select’s ongoing Smokey Robinson: The Solo Albums series would be dedicated to Smokin’. This was a relief to fans and collectors who found the album skipped over when Volume 4 included the albums directly before and after the live set, Love Breeze and Where There’s Smoke.  The label will restore to print this sprawling live document in a remastered edition on June 14. 

Smokin’ wasn’t the first live album recorded by Robinson, but it was his first without the Miracles.  (All three of the group’s live albums have been released on CD in various configurations by Hip-o Select.)  As such, he drew most heavily on current material, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to also revisit some of the classics that defined the Sound of Young America. 

Smokey Robinson spent much of the 1970s concentrating on his behind-the-scenes role as Vice-President at the rapidly-growing Motown corporation, but he stretched himself as producer and composer of the film Big Time and still pursued solo projects.  1975’s A Quiet Storm spawned an entire genre marrying soulful vocals to mellow, slow R&B grooves.   A Quiet Storm definitively proved that Robinson was just as musically groundbreaking as he had been in the previous decade.  Three tracks off that seminal album were performed during the 1978 concert stand (“Baby That’s Backatcha,” “The Agony and the Ecstasy” and the title cut).  The LP released directly before Smokin’, 1978’s Love Breeze, was the most well-represented on the live set, with five songs (“Love So Fine,” “Why You Wanna See My Bad Side,” “Daylight and Darkness,” “Madam X” and “Shoe Soul”).  1973’s solo debut Smokey and 1977’s Deep in My Soul yielded one track each, “Baby Come Close” and “Vitamin U,” respectively.

Robinson paid homage to his former group, The Miracles, with renditions of “The Tracks of My Tears,” “The Tears of a Clown,” “Bad Girl/(You Can) Depend on Me,” “Here I Go Again,” “Mickey’s Monkey,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Second That Emotion” and “Ooo Baby Baby.”  Many of these songs still form the backbone of Robinson’s concert repertoire.

Hit the jump for pre-order information, track listing and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 19, 2011 at 13:32

Release Round-Up: Week of February 15

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Smokey Robinson, The Solo Albums Volume 4 (Motown/Hip-o Select)

The Motown great’s next two vintage studio albums (Love Breeze and Where There’s Smoke) go back into print on one CD with a bonus B-side instrumental added on. (Hip-o Select)

Teena Marie, ICON (Motown/UMe)

The late, great Motown singer is canonized in Universal’s budget compilation series. (Amazon)

Phil Collins, No Jacket Required (Audio Fidelity)

The Genesis frontman/drummer’s biggest and best pop LP gets the 24K gold CD treatment, mastered by Steve Hoffman. (Audio Fidelity)

Jackie DeShannon, Come and Get Me: The Complete Liberty and Imperial Singles, Volume 2 (Ace)

The second volume of Ace’s DeShannon singles series covers “What the World Needs Now is Love” and beyond. (Ace)

Doris Troy, I’ll Do Anything: The Doris Troy Anthology 1960-1996 (Kent)

There’s more to Troy than “Just One Look” and her Apple album, as this compilation deftly shows off. (Ace)

Al Jarreau, L is for Lover: Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)

Jarreau’s 1986 LP, produced by Nile Rodgers, is reissued on CD with three bonus single mixes, including the hit “Moonlighting.” (Friday Music)

Grand Funk Railroad, We’re An American Band / REO Speedwagon, High Infidelity (Friday Music)

Two bands, two hit albums, two 180-gram vinyl reissues! (Friday Music – GFR, REO)

More Smokey Reissues Cruisin’ Your Way (UPDATED)

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(UPDATE 1/26: This set is now available to order direct from Hip-o Select.)

Usually, the first place to hear about Hip-o Select titles is through Hip-o Select themselves. They keep a semi-frequent newsletter and an active Twitter feed which usually gets the links out to their new reissues and box sets.

It’s strange, then, that there hasn’t yet been a peep about their forthcoming installment in the long-running The Solo Albums two-fers from Smokey Robinson. Meanwhile, Amazon has put up a full track list, something which rarely happens before Hip-o gets theirs up.

The fourth volume in the successful series collates Smokey’s last two studio LPs of the 1970s: Love Breeze (1978) and Where There’s Smoke… (1979). The latter of the two was Robinson’s first Top 40 album since 1975’s A Quiet Storm, thanks largely to the delightful “Cruisin’,” which would be the singer’s highest-charting solo single at the time, peaking at No. 4. (It earned the adoration of a new generation in 2000, when it was covered by Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow for the largely forgettable film Duets.)

A bonus track will also be included in the form of an instrumental version of “Get Ready,” a tune Smokey wrote for The Temptations in 1966. It appeared on the 12″ single of the song in 1979. There’s also no word yet on any Hip-o Select release of Smokin’, the 1978 double live album released in between these studio efforts. (UPDATE: We just got off the phone with Motown reissue guru Harry Weinger, who confirmed that The Solo Albums Volume 5 is going to be Smokin’.)

The Solo Albums Volume 4 is out February 15, per Amazon. View the track list after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 25, 2011 at 12:16

Smokey Robinson, Live from Cracker Barrel

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Great music often turns up in the darnedest places.

In addition to eating a hearty meal and browsing a selection of rustic tchotchkes at your local Cracker Barrel, you now can pick up a new CD by none other than Motown legend and the man Bob Dylan once called “America’s greatest living poet,” Smokey Robinson. Cracker Barrel has long carried a selection of exclusive music; new CDs have been offered from artists like Dolly Parton (who provided Cracker Barrel with an expanded edition of her 2008 Backwoods Barbie album) while the catalogues of George Jones and Kenny Rogers have also been mined for new compilations. Cracker Barrel has diversified its selection beyond just the country genre, and the Robinson told Spinner.com that it was a “milestone” to be the first African-American artist to release a new disc via the Southern-style eating institution and “old country store.”

Now and Then (Cracker Barrel/Saguaro Road/Robso CD 26057-D) is a twelve-track compilation released in late 2010 on Robinson’s own label. It includes six tracks from the artist’s 2009 album Time Flies When You’re Having Fun, and six previously unreleased, recently-recorded live cuts of prime Motown material. The Time Flies portion of the album includes a cover of the Jesse Harris-penned “Don’t Know Why” (popularized by Norah Jones) and five Robinson originals. These tracks marked a largely successful return to the artist to the romantic “quiet storm” sound he pioneered in the 1970s.

Is the disc worth picking up? For the casual fans being targeted, it’s a fine sampler. Chances are a dedicated Robinson fan might already own Time Flies; and in any event, the album is strong enough to warrant a purchase in full. But if the six live songs aren’t particularly adventurous choices (“Going to a Go-Go,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “The Tears of a Clown,” “Being with You” and “The Tracks of My Tears”), they represent how Robinson currently performs them in concert, and make a nice souvenir of his current live program. While full credits are included for the live tracks, there’s no indication of the specific recording dates or venues. (All live selections were recorded in 2010.) A brief note from Robinson is included in the digipak.

Smokey Robinson’s Now and Then can be ordered for $11.99 from Cracker Barrel here.

Smokey Robinson, Now and Then (Cracker Barrel/Saguaro Road/Robso CD 20657-D)

  1. Time Flies
  2. Don’t Know Why
  3. Girlfriend
  4. One Time
  5. That Place
  6. Love Bath
  7. Going to a Go-Go (Live)
  8. I Second That Emotion (Live)
  9. Ooo Baby Baby (Live)
  10. The Tears of a Clown (Live)
  11. Being with You (Live)
  12. The Tracks of My Tears (Live)

Tracks 1-6 from Time Flies When You’re Having Fun (Robso CD 40020, 2009)
Tracks 7-12 previously unreleased

Written by Joe Marchese

January 11, 2011 at 11:24

Release Round-Up: Week of November 16

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Bruce Springsteen, The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story (Columbia/Legacy)

Bruuuuuuuuce celebrates one of his most acclaimed albums in a big way. Darkness will be augmented with two discs’ worth of outtakes and three(!) DVDs, including the new making-of documentary The Promise. (The outtakes are available as their own double-disc set as well.) (Official site)

Jimi Hendrix, West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology / BBC Sessions / Live at Woodstock Blues / Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

The latest chapter of the Hendrix reissue campaign from Sony includes a new box set of rare and unreleased material (available on CD or vinyl) that features a neat overview of Hendrix’s early days as a sideman with other rock and soul acts. (A single-disc compilation will feature the best of the outtakes, and will also be sold as a double-disc set with the new documentary DVD from the box.) The same date will see CD/DVD versions of BBC Sessions and Blues alongside new reissues of Hendrix’s Woodstock set and collector-favorite Christmas EP.

Billy Joel, The Hits (Columbia/Legacy)

The Piano Man’s first-ever single-disc compilation – geared to entice casual fans into partaking in next year’s Billy Joel catalogue blitz – is a very straightforward (and very debatable) release, but one that’s worth buying, especially if you like Billy Joel. (Note: it is this writer’s opinion that it is easy to like Billy Joel. Results may vary.) (Amazon)

The Stooges, Have Some Fun: Live at Ungano’s / 1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions (Elektra/Rhino Handmade)

Orders begin shipping this week on two new Stooges sets: an unreleased live show from 197o and the reissue of the out-of-print seven-disc box set version of The Stooges.

Bee Gees, Mythology (Rhino)

This four-disc box set, featuring an overview of all of the Gibbs (including Andy) and including three unreleased tracks, was supposed to come out last holiday season. Better late than never? (Amazon) Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of November 2

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Another week, another batch of reissues!

Wings, Band on the Run: Special Edition (Concord)

After reissues of John Lennon’s solo catalogue and the Apple Records discography, another Beatles-oriented campaign kicks off with a new reissue of Band on the Run, Paul McCartney and Wings’ classic LP. It’s the first of his classic discs to be re-released on Concord, and will be available in a wide variety of formats. (Best of all, it’s the first drop in the bucket – an insert inside the sets confirms upcoming reissues of more McCartney and Wings sets.) (Official Site)

Weezer, Pinkerton: Deluxe Edition / Death to False Metal (Geffen/UMe)

With Weezer no longer a part of the Geffen roster, UMe begins mining the pop-rock band’s considerable back catalogue (after a 10th anniversary reissue of the band’s 1994 debut). This week brings a similar deluxe edition of 1995’s Pinkerton, long thought to be the band’s crowning achievement, and a compilation of outtakes, Death to False Metal. (Official Site)

Various Artists, The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition (RCA/Legacy)

To time with the film’s debut on Blu-Ray, Sony reissues The Sound of Music yet again, with a rendition of “My Favorite Things” by Glee star Lea Michele as a bonus track. (Amazon)

Pet Shop Boys, Ultimate Pet Shop Boys (EMI)

A slim, single-disc distillation of the PSB discography, with a new track, “Together.” A deluxe edition adds a DVD full of goodies, including all the band’s live BBC performances and their acclaimed set at Glastonbury back in June. (Amazon U.K.) Read the rest of this entry »