The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘The Ad-Libs’ Category

Review: The Ad Libs, “The Complete Blue Cat Recordings”

leave a comment »

Ooh-wah, ooh-wah, cool, cool kitty!  Tell us about the boy from New York City…

And indeed, much of America listened to the Ad Libs tell of that kinda tall, really fine guy in his mohair suit.  The Top 10 hit turned radio’s attention from Swinging London back to New York City for a brief moment, but the group was never able to repeat the song’s success.  It wasn’t for lack of trying, though, as Real Gone Music’s The Complete Blue Cat Recordings (Real Gone RGM-0500, 2012) proves.  Though the Ad Libs’ released output at Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and George Goldner’s Blue Cat Records consisted of just four singles (eight sides), the Real Goners have added a wealth of unreleased material to create the definitive portrait of the vocal group.

Blue Cat, an imprint of Leiber, Stoller and Goldner’s Red Bird label, boasted its own cool kitty, a blue, horn-playing feline on each of its records.  “The Boy From New York City” was the group’s first A-side for Blue Cat.  And how could the song, written by John Taylor, have gone wrong, with Leiber and Stoller producing, future Philly soul legend Leon Huff on piano, Artie Butler arranging, and Phil Ramone engineering the session at New York’s Mira Sound studio?  In his introduction to the liner notes here, Tim Hauser of The Manhattan Transfer states most accurately and succinctly that the 1964 song was a “’60s Brill Building version of classic street-corner doo-wop,” and that mix, indeed, marks the small but enjoyable crop of music recorded at Blue Cat by the Ad Libs.  The group was born from the remains of Bayonne, New Jersey’s The Arabians and The Creators, and initially signed by Red Bird/Blue Cat as The Cheerios!  Taylor, too, was residing in Bayonne when he wrote “The Boy From New York City.”

Like contemporaries The Essex (“Easier Said Than Done”) and Ruby and the Romantics (“Our Day Will Come”), The Ad Libs were distinguished by the presence of a female vocalist, Mary Ann Thomas.  Spotted in Hoboken, Thomas filled out the quintet also including Hughie Harris, Danny Austin, Dave Watt and Norman Donegan.  John Taylor had been providing them with material since 1962, but George Goldner knew that “The Boy From New York City” was the song with the most hit potential when The Ad Libs offered an a cappella performance of it at an audition.

Hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 10, 2012 at 11:27

Release Round-Up: Week of May 1

leave a comment »

George Harrison, Living in the Material World / Early Takes Vol. 1 (Hip-O/UMe)

The big release in the U.S. today: Martin Scorsese’s documentary about the esteemed Beatle on DVD and Blu-Ray, and a 10-track disc of entirely unreleased demos and outtakes.

The Beach Boys, 50th Anniversary Collection ‘ZinePak (Capitol/EMI)

A new compilation/mini-booklet, available exclusively at Walmart stores in America, that features classic Beach Boys singles alongside the first-ever album appearance of the band’s new recording of “Do It Again.”

Greg Phillinganes, Pulse: Expanded Edition (Big Break Records)

The famous session keyboardist’s 1984 solo album, featuring the Michael Jackson outtake “Behind the Mask,” gets expanded and re-released in the U.K. by Big Break.

Lee Hazlewood, The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes, & Backsides (1968-1971) (Light in the Attic)

Released on vinyl for Record Store Day, this compilation of solo tracks from the “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” writer/producer gets a CD release today.

The Ad-Libs, The Complete Blue Cat Recordings / Mel McDaniel, Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On — His Original Capitol Hits / Eddie Rabbitt, 13 Original #1 Hits / The Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 30 — Academy of Music, New York City, NY 3/25 & 3/28/72 and Dick’s Picks Vol. 31 – 8/4-5 Philadelphia Civic Center, Philadelphia, PA 8/6/74, Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ (Real Gone)

A diverse offering from the fine folks at Real Gone, including two reissues of classic Dead shows.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, We Salute You (Warner Bros.)

In honor of their recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, the Chili Peppers release this digital-only EP of B-side and non-LP covers of their fellow inductees.

Ooh Wah, Ooh Wah, Cool Cool Kitty: Grateful Dead, Ad Libs, Eddie Rabbitt Coming From Real Gone Music

with 3 comments


Yee-haw!  Real Gone Music has announced its late April/early May slate of releases, and you can count on plenty of country plus helping heapings of R&B, pop and, well, The Grateful Dead!  On April 17, the label will release the Complete Hit Singles As and Bs from soul legend Little Willie John as well as a vintage Complete Hit Singles As and Bs collection for “Cowboy” Copas.  Then on May 1 comes The Complete Blue Cat Recordings of The Ad Libs, straight from the vaults of Leiber and Stoller’s Red Bird Records, plus two more reissued installments of The Grateful Dead’s Dick Picks.  Rounding out this group are hits collections for 1970s country superstars Eddie Rabbitt and Mel McDaniel.

Little Willie John (born William Edward John) died at the age of 30 inside a state penitentiary, serving time for a manslaughter conviction.  But before that sad ending, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer scored a series of hit records for Cincinnati’s King Records between 1955 and 1961.  King, of course, later was the home to James Brown, who learned a few tricks from John as an opening act and later paid homage to him with the Little Willie John…and a Few Nice Things album.  Real Gone Music’s comprehensive The Complete Hit Singles As and Bs boasts 32 tracks over 2 CDs including all of John’s chart hits plus their B-sides.  His first recording, a cover of Titus Turner’s “All Around the World” is joined by the original version of “Need Your Love So Bad,” and of course, “Fever,” later immortalized by Peggy Lee.  Bill Dahl provides new liner notes for this exciting compilation, and draws on comments by Lamont Dozier, who spent time alongside John’s sister Mable at Detroit’s Hitsville USA, Motown!

Following the same format is a collection dedicated to Lloyd Estel “Cowboy” Copas spanning the years 1946-1963.  Real Gone sheds some much-deserved light on this country pioneer who is perhaps best known for having perished in the same plane crash that took the life of Patsy Cline.  The label reveals that Copas actually had fourteen hits during his lifetime versus Cline’s nine!  The 2-CD Complete Hit Singles As and Bs contains 30 tracks including those rarely-heard flipsides.  Colin Escott (co-writer of Broadway’s Million Dollar Quartet) supplies the liner notes, writing of Copas that “his records were so personable and so unlike any others from that day and time. Not honky tonk, not bluegrass, not Western swing, not hillbilly, not pop crossover, they could be labeled Cowboy Copas records.”

We jump a number of years in the country-and-western vein for two new anthologies dedicated to Mel McDaniel and Eddie Rabbitt, respectively.   The late Mel McDaniel scored a string of 41 hits during the 1970s and 1980s, and 21 of those appear on Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On — His Original Capitol Hits.  In addition to the title track, you’ll hear rollicking McDaniel favorites like “Louisiana Saturday Night” and “Big Ole Brew.”  Another light on the Capitol roster was Eddie Rabbitt, another bona fide country superstar in those decades.  Real Gone’s 13 # 1 Hits not only draws on Rabbitt’s Capitol period, but also his work for Elektra/Warner and RCA.  Featured songs include the smash “I Love a Rainy Night” plus “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “Every Which Way But Loose” and the chart-topping duet with Juice (“Angel of the Morning”) Newton, “Both to Each Other (Friends and Lovers).”

Hit the jump for The Ad Libs, The Grateful Dead and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 8, 2012 at 09:53