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Are You Ready: Now Sounds Expands “The Association,” Real Gone Uncovers “Hexagram 16”

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The Association“Where have I gone, where have I gone?” pondered Terry Kirkman on the haunting opening track to The Association’s 1969 long-player.  Though the group’s fifth album, it was simply titled The Association, signifying an artistic rebirth.  Gone were the session players and ornate Bones Howe production that marked their previous album, 1968’s Birthday.  Taking the production reins themselves in tandem with John Boylan, The Association – Kirkman, Russ Giguere, Brian Cole, Jim Yester, Larry Ramos, Ted Bluechel., Jr. and the just-returned Jules Alexander – created one of their most beguilingly eclectic collections.  The Association, also known as “The Stonehenge album” for its spacey cover, didn’t contain any hit singles.  But it showed off the group’s trademark harmonies in gleaming form as each man’s songwriting continued to grow in maturity.  Now Sounds has just delivered The Association in a deluxe stereo expanded edition with 10 bonus tracks, many in mono.

The Association addressed the heady, rapidly-changing times with the very first song as Kirkman pondered over an ethereal chorale, “Oh, it’s a hard way down to the time I raised my hand and swore I’d gladly die for my God and Uncle Sam/There was so much I didn’t know, and what I know, I didn’t understand/Look at me, look at me/Where have I gone, where I have gone?”  But soon, Kirkman turned his questioning outward, too, with “Look at Me, Look at You.”  The voices were familiar but the accompaniment, flecked with Doug Dillard’s banjo, acknowledged country-rock.  Jim Yester leaned in that direction, too, with “What Were the Words.”  This look back from relationship’s end was originally written for The Dillards, and incorporates twangy instrumentation alongside those lush voices.  Jules Alexander wrote his own country-rock song with the reflective “Dubuque Blues.”  This was, doubtless, an earthier Association, although folk influences had been a major component of the band since their earliest days.  On The Association, the multi-layered vocals hadn’t lost the sheer and exhilarating beauty of “Everything That Touches You” or “Cherish,” but frequently hinted at a darker place.

Even the love songs took on a more subtle air.  Alexander’s “Love Affair,” yearningly sung by Yester, paints a picture of “kids to the world of the old” with “dreams that we’re living [which] they will never know…you in your Levis and I in my hair…”  The imagery is spare yet potent, and very much of a window into the time though its author opines in reissue producer Steve Stanley’s comprehensive new liner notes that it “was about a woman I was going with at the time…nothing more than that, really.”  Bluechel co-wrote the ambitious “The Nest,” juxtaposing downbeat solo verses (“Without love, home’s an empty house/And you might be the one who’s left within it”) with a more optimistic group-sung chorus in which the famed sunshine pop purveyors were at least hinting at a ray of sunshine.

The most commercial track on The Association was producer Boylan’s “Yes I Will.” Warner Bros. correctly selected the track for single release, but it couldn’t rise above a disappointing No. 120 on the pop chart.  Still, it’s one of the band’s stronger rock-inflected songs, packing a simple yet powerful punch, even if it feels somewhat out of place on this more subtly reflective set.  “Goodbye Forever,” written by Kirkman, Alexander and Rita Martinson, was originally submitted as a title song to the 1969 film Goodbye Columbus, but was rejected in favor of Jim Yester’s stab at a title song for the movie.  It was retitled for The Association’s recording, and boasts a catchy melody if rather silly lyrics playing on the film’s then-risqué, hip and contemporary themes:    “Not just another pretty bottom/But a genuine blue boobie/Not just another pretty bottom/But a genuine cheap groovy…”

Larry Ramos and Tony Ortega’s frenetic soul rocker, “Are You Ready,” has a tough guitar riff and some horns arranged by Bones Howe’s frequent collaborator Bob Alcivar.  Brian Cole and Jules Alexander’s “I Am Up for Europe” (“…or any other place where I don’t speak the language or recognize a face”) emphasizes heavy guitars to a restless and searching lyric espousing a “gentle revolution.”  Russ Giguere’s only songwriting contribution is the jokey “Broccoli,” about, well, broccoli.  Kirkman closed out the album on a suitably poetic note, though, with “Boy on the Mountain,” co-written with arranger Richard Thompson (not of Fairport Convention fame).

After the jump: what bonus material will you find on The Association?  Plus: a look at Russ Giguere’s solo album Hexagram 16! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 7, 2013 at 12:18

Release Round-Up: Week of July 2

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CHIC Up All Night Greatest HitsCHIC and Various Artists, Nile Rodgers Presents The CHIC Organization: Up All Night – The Greatest Hits (Rhino U.K.)

This new double-disc compilation, featuring hits from CHIC, Sister Sledge, Debbie Harry and more, might be the best Nile Rodgers-centric compilation in its price range. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Blood Sweat & Tears - Rare Rarer & RarestBlood Sweat & Tears, Rare, Rarer & Rarest / Joe Farrell Quartet, Joe Farrell Quartet / Herbie Hancock, Treasure Chest / Sha Na Na, The Night is Still Young (Wounded Bird)

A new batch from Wounded Bird includes a compilation of rarities from Blood, Sweat & Tears (featuring, among other things, their soundtrack to The Owl and The Pussycat) and a disc featuring all three of Herbie Hancock’s albums for Warner Bros., before joining Columbia in the ’70s.

Blood, Sweat & Tears: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Joe Farrell Quartet: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Herbie Hancock: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Sha Na Na: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The AssociationThe Association, The Association: Deluxe Expanded Edition (Now Sounds)

The Association’s 1969 album is newly expanded with 10 bonus cuts, including mono mixes and non-LP singles! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Eat a Peach MoFiThe Allman Brothers Band, Eat a Peach / Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde / Foreigner, 4 /Billy Joel, An Innocent Man (SACDs) (Mobile Fidelity)

The latest hybrid SACDs from MoFi.

The Allman Brothers Band: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Bob Dylan: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Foreigner: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Billy Joel: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Hackamore BrickHackamore Brick, One Kiss Leads to Another (CD/LP) / Russ Giguere, Hexagram 16 / The Browns, Complete Pop & Country Hits / Ahmed Abdul Malik, Spellbound / George Braith, Musart / Stan Hunter & Sonny Fortune, Trip on the Strip / Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 22 – Kings Beach Bowl, Kings Beach Lake Tahoe, CA 2/23-2/24/68 / Fire on the Mountain: Reggae Celebrates the Grateful Dead Vols. 1 & 2 (Real Gone Music)

Among the highlights of Real Gone’s release slate this week is the expanded reissue of the long-lost One Kiss Leads to Another by cult Brooklyn band Hackamore Brick.

Los NuggetzVarious Artists, Los Nuggetz: 1960s Punk, Pop, Psychedelic from Latin America (RockBeat)

America and Europe weren’t the only happening scenes in the ’60s, as this new box showcases.

One Kiss Leads To Another: Real Gone Unearths Hackamore Brick, Grateful Dead, The Association’s Russ Giguere and More

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Hackamore BrickReal Gone Music has just announced its slate for July 2, and it’s clear that the prolific label isn’t taking a summer vacation!  A number of cult favorites and new-to-CD titles populate this batch of records that won’t be “real gone” for much longer.

Atop the list is a true rarity.  Real Gone will be bringing One Kiss Leads to Another from Hackamore Brick to CD and vinyl in a newly-remastered and expanded edition.  Who is Hackamore Brick, you might ask?  The Brooklyn band’s 1970 album was an anomaly for the bubblegum specialists at Kama Sutra Records.  It’s most often spoken of in the same breath as The Velvet Underground, and it sounds as if it were built on the groundwork laid by that quintessential New York band.  Yet Hackamore Brick’s songwriters Tommy Moonlight and Chick Newman claimed to not have heard Lou, John and co. till after their album was recorded.  But indebted to that group or not, the quartet offers up a heady brew of its own.  Country-style harmonies and punk attitude sit alongside Doors-esque blues flourishes, incisive, Kinks-style lyrics, and primal rock simplicity on this true lost album.

Real Gone has also rescued a solo effort from The Association’s Russ Giguere.  Hexagram 16 offers songs from the likes of Judee Sill and Randy Newman and guest spots from Judy Henske, Jerry Yester and Bernie Leadon.  There’s a country-rock flavor on Hexagram, but Real Gone also offers more traditional country with the Nashville-style folk-pop of fifties favorites The Browns on Complete Pop and Country Hits.  Country, of course, also played a role in the Americana stew of The Grateful Dead, and Real Gone continues its reissuing of the Dick’s Picks series with some psychedelia from 1968.  A long-lost reggae tribute to the Dead is also reappearing in July.  Finally, Real Gone teams with Dusty Groove for three more deep-cut jazz albums from Ahmed Abdul-Malik, George Braith, and the duo of Stan Hunter and Sonny Fortune.

After the jump, Real Gone provides all of the details via the label’s press release, and we have pre-order links for all titles for you! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 15, 2013 at 10:13

Release Round-Up: Week of March 26

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Stephen Stills - Carry OnStephen Stills, Carry On (Rhino)

The “S” in “CSNY” finally gets his own career-spanning box set, a four-disc affair with a couple dozen rare and unreleased tracks and a whole lot of great songs to boot. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Gene Clark - Here TonightGene Clark, Here Tonight: The White Light Demos (Omnivore)

A dozen tracks of early ’70s demos from the former Byrd, which laid the framework for his first album of that decade. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Maiden EnglandIron Maiden, Maiden England ’88 (UMe)

A quarter-century after Maiden toured behind Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, the original concert video chronicling the tour has been painstakingly remastered and expanded with unreleased performances and treasures from the band’s video vault. A double-disc presentation of the concert is also available on CD and vinyl.

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

Steve Forbert - JackrabbitSteve Forbert, Alive on Arrival/Jackrabbit Slim: Special Anniversary Edition (Blue Corn Music)

This two-disc set expands the first two albums by the “Romeo’s Tune” troubadour with unreleased outtakes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Wendy and LIsaWendy & Lisa, Wendy & Lisa: Expanded Edition (Cherry Pop)

Prince may have split up The Revolution, but this 1987 debut LP from two of his most famous collaborators is worth your time. U.K. label Cherry Pop appends a few bonus remixes and new liner notes on this version. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Electric Music For The Mind And BodyCountry Joe & The Fish, Electric Music for the Mind and Body (Ace)

Not only available for the first time on CD, but available for the first time since its original release: the original mono and stereo mixes of San Francisco’s first psychedelic long-player on two discs. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Tandyn Almer - Along ComesTandyn Almer, Along Comes Tandyn (Sundazed)

He penned “Along Comes Mary” for The Association and collaborated with Brian Wilson, but the late Tandyn Almer is only now getting his due with the premiere commercial release of this 1967 demo LP pressed to turn artists on to his precious pop.

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

Sweet As The Punch: “Along Comes” Songs of Tandyn Almer

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Tandyn Almer - Along ComesIf you don’t know the name of Tandyn Almer, you likely do know his Top 10 pop hit “Along Comes Mary,” so memorably recorded by The Association in 1966.  And you just might know two of the songs on which he shared songwriting credit with a certain Brian Wilson, “Marcella” and “Sail On, Sailor.”  But the only commercial release to have carried Almer’s name as artist has long been a 1970 Warner Bros. single, “Degeneration Gap” b/w “Snippin’ the Silver Chord.”  The Sundazed label changes all that with the March 26 release of Along Comes Tandyn on both CD and LP.

Though “Along Comes Mary” represented Almer’s commercial peak, he didn’t exactly disappear.  He was far too unique a songwriter for that; in fact, none other than Leonard Bernstein had interviewed Almer as one of the up-and-coming rock musicians profiled on his 1967 Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution television documentary.  (This was the same program that featured Brian Wilson at the piano, powerfully introducing SMiLE’s “Surf’s Up” to an unsuspecting world.)  Almer, who died on January 8 of this year, lived a quiet life by most accounts.  But it was a colorful one.  He wrote songs recorded by Sagittarius and The Ballroom, once served as a staff songwriter for A&M Records, produced songs for artists including The Purple Gang, and apparently even devised a rather effective waterpipe once described as “the perfect bong.”   In his later years, he contributed songs to Washington, DC’s annual political revue Hexagon, and also wrote “fake books” with arrangements of popular hits.

The fifteen songs on Along Comes Tandyn were written and recorded in Almer’s heyday for a demo LP released by Almer’s music publisher, Davon Music.  The purpose of the album was to garner recordings of the songs from other artists, but the album reveals more of the musical mastery of Almer himself.  Sundazed describes its musical contents as follows: “Included within this demonstration disc is the nasty, buzzing fuzztone and haunting vocals of The Purple Gang’s version of ‘Bring Your Own Self Down,’ the engaging Pop feel of ‘Find Yourself,’ the smooth groove of ‘Anything You Want’ and ‘Victims of Chance’ (recorded as an instrumental by L.A. jazz combo The Afro Blues Quintet), along with the straight-ahead Folk-Rock of ‘About Where Love Is’ and ‘Sunset Strip Soliloquy’ – the latter about the atmosphere which led to the demonstrations of late ’66.”

After the jump: more including the track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 26, 2013 at 14:20

The Year in Reissues: The 2012 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWow!  Was it just over a year ago when a rather dubious report began circulating (that, shockingly, was picked up by many otherwise-reputable publications) that proclaimed the death of the CD was secretly scheduled by the major labels for 2012?  Well, 2012 has come and (almost) gone, and it might have been the most super-sized year in recent memory for reissues, deluxe and otherwise, from labels new and old.  Here at the Second Disc, we consider our annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards a companion piece to Mike’s own round-up over at Popdose, and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible – over 80 worthy, unique titles.  We also hope to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2012. As we’re literally deluged with news around these parts, these ladies and gentlemen prove, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to them, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Association, “The Complete Warner Bros. and Valiant Singles Collection”

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“Everyone knows” the answer to the musical question of Who’s trippin’ down the streets of the city / Smilin’ at everybody she sees?  But here’s another one: what’s the record label reaching out to capture a moment, bendin’ down to give us a rainbow?  Everyone (at least everyone reading The Second Disc!) knows it’s Now Sounds.   The Cherry Red-affiliated label has recently released the latest in its ongoing series of deluxe reissues of The Association’s catalogue, and it’s the most impressive effort yet.  The Complete Warner Bros. and Valiant Singles Collection (Now Sounds CRNOW 35D) collects every one of the A- and B-sides released by the California band on those two labels between 1965 and 1971.  After that golden six-year period, The Association never again scaled the heights of commercial success, but oh, what a rich legacy of music the group left behind!

The full range of The Association’s gift of harmony is on display over these 37 tracks, all of which are presented in their authentic single mixes (and all but two of which are in mono).  Songs like “Never My Love” and “Windy,” of course, remain oldies radio staples and deservedly so.  But the real surprise for many will come in the might-have-been tracks unfamiliar to all but longtime fans and collectors.  Whether singing lush ballads, bright pop or jangly folk-rock, The Association brought a hallmark of quality to all of its recordings, and that quality is matched by the love lavished on the band under Now Sounds’ imprimatur.  This set makes a most excellent companion to Rhino’s indispensable Just the Right Sound: The Association Anthology (2002).  We’ll meet you back after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 12, 2012 at 09:32

Release Round-Up: Week of June 5

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The Beatles, Yellow Submarine (Blu-Ray) (Apple/EMI)

Take a trip back to Pepperland with the Fab Four’s animated film, now available as a feature-laden Blu-Ray Disc. The 1999 Yellow Submarine Songtrack remix album is also added to the Beatles remaster canon. (Keep a close eye on our giveaway; we’re announcing a winner very soon!)

Paul Simon, Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition (Legacy)

A man walks down the street, sees many configurations of the Graceland reissue (namely a CD/DVD featuring newly released outtakes and the new documentary Under African Skies – also separately available on DVD and Blu-Ray – and a four-disc box set which adds an entire 1987 concert from the Graceland tour on DVD) and gets pretty darn excited.

David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars: 40th Anniversary Edition (EMI)

Ziggy falls to earth once again, albeit just as a newly-remastered CD with no bonus content; the bonuses are on the LP/DVD combo, which features out-of-print and unreleased surround mixes.

Jerry Goldsmith, Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Limited Edition (La-La Land Records)

Available to order later today (around 4 p.m. EST), this three-disc edition is the definitive word on Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic score for the first Trek film, with the complete score, alternate and rejected cues, the original LP program and many other audio treasures. (If you haven’t yet, do check out the first part of our interview with the set’s co-producer Mike Matessino, and check back for part two later this week!)

Michael Jackson, I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (CD Single) (Epic/Legacy)

Available only at Walmart stores in the U.S., this CD single, backed with the unreleased demo “Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round,” kicks off the Bad 25 campaign.

Maroon 5, Songs About Jane: 10th Anniversary Edition (A&M/Octone)

Weeks away from the release of their fourth studio album, a double-disc version of Maroon 5’s first breakthrough album, featuring demos and unlockable video content, is now available.

Sugar, Beaster: Deluxe Edition (Edsel)

The latest in the Sugar reissue campaign (seminal debut Copper Blue was reissued last week) is an expansion of the band’s second release, an EP, with a bonus DVD of performance clips.

Heart, Strange Euphoria (Epic/Legacy)

A 3 CD/1 DVD box chronicling the highs of Ann and Nancy Wilson’s lengthy careers, with hits and rarities in equal measure.

Lenny Kravitz, Mama Said: 21st Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Virgin/EMI)

Kravitz’s sophomore album, featuring hit single “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,” expanded with non-LP B-sides, live material and archival demos.

America, Perspective / In Concert, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Close Up the Honky Tonks, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Are You Ready! (BGO)

Some hidden gems from some of the best ’70s and ’80s rockers, all of which are either rare or new to CD.

Kylie Minogue, The Best of Kylie Minogue (EMI Catalogue)

A simple, compact collection of Kylie hits. A special edition features a DVD of music videos.

Black Sabbath, Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath (Sanctuary U.K.)

A bare-bones Sabbath compilation.

The Association, The Complete Warner Bros. and Valiant Singles Collection (Now Sounds)

Every last one of The Association’s singles for the Valiant and Warner Bros. labels are collected on two CDs!  Watch for full coverage of this collection soon!

Happiness Is: The Association’s “Insight Out” Expanded and Remastered

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Who’s trippin’ down the streets of the city / Smilin’ at everybody she sees / Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment?  Everyone knows it’s Windy!

And most everyone knows Ruthann Friedman’s 1967 pop classic which not only hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart but was featured on The Association’s third album and first long-player for Warner Bros. Records, Insight Out.  But everyone would be forgiven for thinking that the LP was entitled Windy, so prominent was the name of the single on the album cover.  But there’s much more to Insight Out.

Helmed by producer Bones Howe, beginning a short but important relationship with the group, it also boasts P.F. Sloan’s shimmering “On a Quiet Night,” and two songs by the team of Dick and Don Addrisi. The first, the ebullient “Happiness Is,” could virtually be the calling card of the entire sunshine pop genre.  The second, “Never My Love,” was an instant standard.  It climbed its way to a No. 2 chart placement, and BMI actually ranked the song the second-most played hit on radio and television of the entire twentieth century.  (For those wondering, it was sandwiched between “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” at No. 1 and “Yesterday” at No. 3.  Not bad company, eh?)  Mike Deasy, known more as a top session guitarist rather than a songwriter, brought in a strong song of his own, “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’,” which was outfitted with a timely sitar arrangement.  Now, all of those songs and more are yours to savor on a deluxe, expanded mono edition of Insight Out from Now Sounds, following the label’s reissues of three other albums by the classic band of harmony purveyors.

The success of Insight Out was far from pre-ordained.  The band had become accustomed to a revolving door of producers, with Curt Boettcher having helmed their debut And Then…Along Comes the Association and Jerry Yester in charge of its follow-up, Renaissance.  Yester hoped to continue working with The Association, but his productions of “Never My Love” and the antiwar “Requiem for the Masses” hadn’t met with much favor by the Valiant Records brass.  Jules Alexander had exited the group for a pilgrimage to India.  And The Association’s Valiant home was about to be purchased by Warner Bros. Records, along with the band’s contract.  After the lofty heights scaled by “Cherish” and “Along Comes Mary” from the first album, the two singles off Renaissance failed to make much of an impression.  Enter Bones Howe, originally an engineer with a varied C.V. who had scored successes producing The Turtles on such songs as P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri’s “You Baby” and Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”

As Howe recalls in reissue producer Steve Stanley’s comprehensive liner notes for the new edition, ““I made a deal with their manager, Pat Colecchio.  Initially he called me up and said, ‘The guys are going to write some songs and you can bring some songs to them.’ And I said, ‘Well look, are they going to turn me down on every song because they didn’t write it?’ And Pat said, ‘You bring songs to them and they’ll bring songs to you. If you both like them, you can record them.’ And I thought that was fair enough; I’m sure that we can find some common ground. And ‘Never My Love’ was one of those songs. That, in my estimation, was one of the best records I ever made.”  Considering Howe also produced those Turtles hits, The 5th Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” The Monkees’ “Someday  Man” and music for artists ranging from Elvis Presley to Tom Waits, that’s no small praise from the modest producer.  (I won’t spoil any more of the interviews you’ll find excerpted in Insight Out’s 16-page booklet, including reminisces from Ruthann Friedman, Dick Addrisi, P.F. Sloan and Association members Russ Giguere, Jim Yester, Terry Kirkman and Larry Ramos!)  Though the members of The Association were accomplished musicians, the studio veterans of Los Angeles’ Wrecking Crew were brought in for the sessions.

After the jump, we’ve got more Insight on Out, including the full track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 1, 2011 at 11:31

Release Round-Up: Week of November 1

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Nothing important comes out today, right?




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Written by Mike Duquette

November 1, 2011 at 07:54