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A&M Records Celebrates Half-Century Mark with Three-Disc Compilation

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Ask the most voracious of music trivia buffs what “A&M Records” stood for and they’ll tell you simply: Herb Alpert, noted jazz trumpeter and bandleader; and music promoter Jerry Moss, a duo who crafted the label from Alpert’s garage in 1962.

50 years later, with the upcoming release of the three-disc A&M 50: The Anniversary Collection, it’s clear that A&M stood for something else, too: one of the most intriguingly eclectic rosters in pop history, encompassing everything from jazz and modern R&B to New Wave and singer/songwriter pop. (There’s been a great amount of activity surrounding the label’s anniversary in Japan, like this compilation of Works by longtime A&M arranger Nick DeCaro.)

The three discs are rather cleverly themed: Disc 1, “From AM to FM,” chronicles some of the label’s earliest and most potent pop radio hits, from Alpert’s “The Lonely Bull” with The Tijuana Brass to the Carpenters’ beautiful “Close to You” all the way to Sheryl Crow’s inescapable “All I Wanna Do.” Things get great on Disc 2, “A Mission to Rock,” which features some of the best rock and New Wave acts of the ’70s and ’80s, including The Police, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, Split Enz, Styx, Free, Joe Cocker and many more. Disc 3 loops around to “Soul, Jazz and More,” showcasing the likes of Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, Gato Barbieri, Milton Nascimiento, The Brothers Johnson and Jeffrey Osborne. (All in all, the set covers roughly 30 years of works, with most of A&M’s output after the sale to PolyGram and break-up throughout Universal Music Group – overlooked.)

While there’s not a lot particularly rare on all three discs (save for some of the deep cuts on the ’70s side of things, including tracks from Alpert and Hugh Masekela as well as Alpert’s talented wife, Lani Hall), what does raise eyebrows are some song choices: “Roxanne,” not “Every Breath You Take,” is The Police’s entry, as “Caught Up in You” by 38 Special is included over “Hold On Loosely.” Minor quibbles aside, this looks to be a really fun keepsake of a deservedly-treasured label.

A&M 50 is out on August 28 and can be pre-ordered after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 23, 2012 at 11:48

Upcoming Slate from Big Break Includes Edwin Starr, Patti LaBelle and More

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Cherry Red’s Big Break Records imprint has been the busiest arm of the U.K. reissue label group’s roster by far. Joe filled you in on the expanded edition of Melba Moore‘s first album for Epic in 1978, but there are 11, count ’em, 11! new reissues on the slate between now and March.

Of the artists covered in the latest batch, Patti LaBelle and Jon Lucien each have the most – two albums each – being reissued. For LaBelle, it’s her first and third solo albums originally released on Epic, 1977’s Patti LaBelle and 1979’s It’s Alright with Me. Each of them are augmented with single edits and instrumental tracks. For Lucien, the underrated jazz vocalist from the Virgin Islands, his first two albums for RCA, I Am Now (1970) and Rashida (1973) (the latter a two-time Grammy nominee), will be released. Bonus single edits will complement these discs as well.

Also on the horizon are releases by Edwin Starr, The Three Degrees, The Brothers Johnson, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Marlena Shaw and more. All of them have bonus tracks, including non-LP B-sides and alternate mixes. They all have different release dates, of course, with dates even varying between the label and Amazon. (The Edwin Starr set, for instance, is listed by BBR as having been released last week, but Amazon’s street date is tomorrow.) You can see BBR’s release dates in the link from the first paragraph, while Amazon pre-order links will be available along with the descriptions of each title after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 24, 2011 at 14:57