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The Eighth Day of Second Discmas

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Well, friends, all good things must come to an end, but we couldn’t be more excited with the offerings we have for you today, the final day of Second Discmas!

Courtesy of our terrific friends at Rhino Entertainment, we’ve got an amazing pack of three of the label’s finest Handmade releases of 2011: the expanded 2-CD box set of The Beau BrummelsBradley’s Barn; the first-ever release of the heavy psychedelia of Iron Butterfly‘s Fillmore East 1968; and finally, the brand-new, hot-off-the-presses 3-CD/1-7″ single box set of The MonkeesInstant Replay!

And that’s not all.  Not one, not two, but three winners will take home this exciting collection of some of the grooviest and altogether most adventurous music reissued in 2011!

You can be one of the lucky winners of the Rhino Handmade 3-pack by e-mailing us (theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com)!  Just be sure to include your name, city and state in your email, with “Rhino” (what else?) in your subject line!

But that’s not your only way to win!  You can also “like” this post as it appears on Facebook or retweet the post on Twitter!  Drawings for The Beau Brummels/Iron Butterfly/The Monkees must be received by Friday, December 23, at 3:00 p.m. EST.  And if you’ve already entered a previous Second Discmas drawing, you’re still eligible to take this prize home!

Winners for Week 2 of Second Discmas, including the Rhino 3-pack, will be announced tomorrow, Friday, December 23, after this drawing has closed.  Thanks, everybody, for entering, and good luck!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 22, 2011 at 15:04

Come to the Sunshine: Now Sounds Expands, Remasters Harpers Bizarre’s “Feelin’ Groovy”

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Leon Russell might have been reluctant to return to his pop music roots when producer Lenny Waronker invited him to sit in the arranger’s chair for Harpers Bizarre’s 1967 debut album.  But in retrospect, a Master of Time and Space must have been involved in any LP that listed among its credits Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Paul Simon, Richard Rodgers and Sergei Prokofiev!  The California quintet’s Feelin’ Groovy long-player is still one of the boldest, most imaginative and most fun debut albums of all time, and it’s getting the red carpet treatment from the fine folks at Now Sounds!  The Deluxe Expanded Mono Edition of Feelin’ Groovy expands the original 10-band album to a packed 26 tracks.  And what a groovy complement of bonuses they are: instrumentals, single mixes, and seven tracks from the band’s earlier incarnation, The Tikis!

At the time The Tikis (a.k.a. Dick Yount, Eddie James, John Petersen, Dick Scoppettone and Ted Templeman) found themselves on the roster of Warner Bros. Records, the young turks running the water tower were making Burbank the place to be.  Under the direction of Mo Ostin, Joe Smith and Lenny Waronker, Warner Bros. was establishing a hip, young identity.  The label that had begun in 1958 with Tab Hunter and Jack “Just the facts, ma’am” Webb on the roster was now expanding its ranks to include The Tokens (It’s a Happening World!), The Everly Brothers, The Association, The Beau Brummels and The Grateful Dead.  Like The Tikis, The Beau Brummels came to Warner via the label’s acquisition of the Bay Area-based Autumn Records, and Tikis member John Petersen was himself an ex-Brummel.  And the embryonic Dead had actually shared stages in the past with The Tikis.   In this fertile, creative atmosphere, producer Waronker keenly matched artist to song when he offered the soon-to-be Harpers Bizarre a completely original reworking of Paul Simon’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song.”  Wordsmith and arranger Van Dyke Parks recalls being the one who renamed the band for a counterculture audience that wouldn’t accept the square-sounding Tikis!  Harpers Bizarre was then born.

In Simon and Garfunkel’s original version, the song is casual (almost tossed-off), low-key and completely charming.  In the arrangement crafted by Waronker and master orchestrator Leon Russell, “The 59th Street Bridge Song” became an ambitious pocket symphony, complete with choir and baroque instrumental interlude.  Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that this big reworking retained the innocent, carefree spirit of the original.  In reissue producer Steve Stanley’s compelling liner notes, Waronker recounts Russell winning him over with his intricate charts for instruments unusual to the typical AM single. Unsurprisingly, the musicians of the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew were deployed in full force, including Russell himself on piano, Glen Campbell on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, and other names that should be familiar to those reading this, like Joe Osborn, Carol Kaye and Lyle Ritz (bass) and Mike Deasy, Al Casey and Tommy Tedesco (guitar).  “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” b/w “Lost My Live Today” (a Tikis track that is, of course, included here) made it all the way to the Top 15 on the pop charts.

Though it gives the album its title, the song is just the tip of the iceberg here.  Hit the jump for much more, including the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 6, 2011 at 10:54

Review: The Beau Brummels, “Bradley’s Barn: Expanded Edition”

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Before Abbey Road or Caribou, The Beau Brummels immortalized a famous recording studio as the title of Bradley’s Barn, their 1968 album for Warner Bros. Records.  The San Francisco pop-rock outfit had travelled to Nashville, Tennessee to record at Owen Bradley’s storied venue at roughly the same time their contemporaries, The Byrds, were on the other side of town cutting Sweetheart of the Rodeo.   Though the “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” hitmakers beat the Brummels to the punch with a release date of a few months earlier, Bradley’s Barn made similar strides in defining the sound of what would become known as “country-rock.”  Finally, Bradley’s can be put in perspective with the release of Rhino Handmade’s lavish tribute to what may be the Brummels’ finest LP.  Housed in a sturdy hardbound book, the expanded Bradley’s Barn (RHM2 524919) makes the case for a band that ultimately looked forward by looking back.

Strictly speaking, however, this wasn’t the Bay Area-vs.-the-British-Invasion band of “Laugh, Laugh” and “Just a Little” fame.  That lineup of Ron Elliott, Sal Valentino, Dec Mulligan, Ron Meagher and John Petersen had scaled the heights of fame (and even were immortalized in animated form as The Beau Brummelstones on The Flintstones!) before dissolving, bit by bit, after those early glory days.  Meagher departed during sessions for the psychedelia-tinged Triangle in 1967, leaving Valentino and Elliott as the architects of Bradley’s Barn.  The third major influence was that of producer Lenny Waronker, who was building the rosters of Warner Bros. and Reprise in A&R while spearheading the careers of artists like Randy Newman and Harper’s Bizarre, a founding member of which was the Beau Brummels’ John Petersen.  After producing Triangle, Waronker hit on the notion that Elliott and Valentino should record in Nashville.  (He says he was partially inspired by Dylan’s travels there – but then, who wasn’t?)  Other acts had a similar “back-to-the-land” trajectory after experimenting in psychedelia, some spurred on by the success of The Band’s first album, released in July 1968.  But a country-rock synthesis was long ingrained in The Brummels, as could be heard on their 1965 cut “Dream On” and even on Triangle with its Merle Travis cover, “Nine Pound Hammer.”  Bradley’s brought those tendencies to the fore.  But the sophisticated Waronker didn’t equate country with simplicity; instead, he envisioned a “guitar orchestra” that would still push the sonic envelope while embracing the best that the Nashville sound had to offer.

Hit the jump to join us down at Bradley’s Barn! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 3, 2011 at 12:21

Sit Down I Think It’s Van Dyke Parks: Music Man’s “Arrangements” Arrive on CD

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Forgive the hyperbole, but there’s nobody quite like Van Dyke Parks.  Composer, arranger, producer, singer, musician, actor, author, raconteur, Parks is one-of-a-kind.  Known for his dazzling, sometimes oblique wordplay, and sheer musical invention, Parks has contributed production, arrangements and songs to an incredible number of renowned artists over the years, often blazing new trails while harnessing his vast knowledge of popular music.  For the first time, the renaissance man’s work as a multi-hyphenate is being collected.  Fifteen tracks are being compiled for September 20 release by the artist’s own label, Bananastan, as Arrangements, Volume 1.

Arrangements is drawn primarily from the catalogue of Warner Bros./Reprise, where Parks toiled as artist, producer, arranger and A&R man, often working closely with his good friend Lenny Waronker.  While at Warner Bros., Parks lent his considerable skills to Randy Newman, The Beau Brummels, The Mojo Men, Ry Cooder, Little Feat, and others.  Still, these names just scratch the surface.  Consider some of his other musical cohorts: The Byrds, Tim Buckley, Harry Nilsson, U2, The Everly Brothers, Carly Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, and Cher.  Parks’ work isn’t exclusive, though, to classic artists.  He’s lent his expertise to a younger generation of musicians including Rufus Wainwright, Joanna Newsom, Silverchair, Inara George and Fiona Apple.

Did I forget something?  Oh, yeah.  Parks also was the co-architect of The Beach Boys’ SMiLE, playing lyrical foil and inspiration to Brian Wilson’s limitlessly creative composer.  (Though Capitol Records has been quiet in recent months, plans are still afoot to finally release that legendary lost album later this year.)  Though Arrangements spotlights some of his favorite collaborations, Parks has also included a number of his own performances, making a collection of material, both familiar and tantalizingly rare, that is a veritable tour of American music.  (The emphasis, however, is not on cuts from Parks’ solo albums, but rather singles and rarities.  Anybody who’s read this far shouldn’t hesitate to explore 1968’s Song Cycle – in many ways a further exploration of the modular songwriting employed on SMiLE – and his other offbeat solo confections for some of the wildest, most devilishly creative music out there.)

Hit the jump to find out just which Arrangements have been included, plus discography and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 3, 2011 at 09:12

Rhino Handmade Going to “Bradley’s Barn” (UPDATED)

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Another Rhino Handmade title is coming out this summer – a two-disc expansion of Bradley’s Barn, the seminal 1968 album by The Beau Brummels.

Considered one of the first early successes of the burgeoning San Francisco music scene in the ’60s, The Beau Brummels were early adopters of the British Invasion sound on their first two hit singles, “Laugh, Laugh” and “Just a Little.” By the time the band released their psych-folk classic Triangle in 1967, the band, originally a quintet, was reduced to a trio. And after Triangle, only singer Sal Valentino and guitarist/songwriter Ron Elliott would remain. Undeterred, the band recorded with producer Lenny Waronker and a host of legendary session players, including Bob Dylan drummer Kenny Buttrey, guitarist Jerry Reed and others and recorded an album in a converted barn in Nashville owned by an Owen Bradley – the same barn that a young Buddy Holly used to lay down his first professional recordings.

Energized by the country-tinged sessions, the compositions primarily written by Elliott and Valentino (closing track “Bless You California” was of course penned by a young Randy Newman!) and the energy of the studio, The Beau Brummels named the LP after the location. While it was not a commercial success, it has since been regarded highly as an early pioneering step in the country-rock genre. Now, Rhino Handmade presents a double-disc version of the original stereo album with 26 bonus cuts, 14 of which are previously unreleased.

Featuring demos, alternate takes and other non-LP material making its CD debut, as well as a vintage radio interview – all mastered by Dan Hersch and Andrew Sandoval – the package is rounded out with new liner notes by Alec Palao that draws from commentary by Elliott, Valentino, Waronker and lyricist Bob Durand. It’s available for pre-order now, and the set is due out July 26. The press release and track list are after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 15, 2011 at 17:03