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“Catch the Love Parade” With Second Volume of Now Sounds’ “Book a Trip”

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Book a Trip 2Between 1965 and 1970, Los Angeles’ Capitol Tower – standing then, as it does now, near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine – was the place to be.  Capitol Records had The Beatles, and the Beach Boys, too.  But the label that Nancy Wilson and The Lettermen called home also hosted a number of bands with groovy names like The Tuneful Trolley, The Sugar Shoppe, The Pink Cloud, The New Kick and (my personal favorite) The Unforscene.  These happening acts, and many more, take the spotlight on Book a Trip 2: More Psych Pop Sounds of Capitol Records, the new anthology from Cherry Red’s Now Sounds label.  The first volume of Book a Trip arrived in 2010, and some of the names on this worthy successor will be familiar to those who own Volume One: Chris and Craig, The Sidewalk Skipper Band, The Staccatos, Griffin.  But the rest of the artists on this musical mystery tour (from L.A. to London, Canada to New York by way of Boston, and back!) might become favorites, too.

Like its predecessor, Book a Trip 2 is a celebration of an era of concise, melodic songcraft, as well as optimism and youthful energy.  The harmonies were as bright as the future seemed, and the instruments were real and varied.  If you listen while reading along to producer/designer Steve Stanley’s track-by-track liner notes, you’ll start connecting the dots between personnel, songwriters, performers, producers and arrangers.  Talents frequently overlap on these criminally-unknown recordings which otherwise share in common the Capitol label and its subsidiaries, plus a five-year time period and a pure pop sensibility.

After the jump, join us on our far-out Trip! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 8, 2014 at 14:05

Review: The Knack, “Rock and Roll is Good for You: The Fieger/Averre Demos”

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Before there was The Knack, there was Doug Fieger and Berton Averre.  The former was a Detroit native and a member of the band Sky, the latter a working musician from the San Francisco Bay Area.  They began collaborating in 1973, beginning an odyssey that would reach its first milestone six years later when the sensibly-titled Get the Knack on Capitol Records reportedly became the fastest-selling debut album since Meet the Beatles.  But before “My Sharona” took Fieger, Averre, Bruce Gary and Prescott Niles to “the toppermost of the poppermost,” songwriter/bassist Fieger and guitarist Averre were writing and recording, sometimes as the duo “Douglust.”  Sixteen demos recorded by the twosome in 1973 and 1975 have been excavated for The Knack’s Rock & Roll is Good for You: The Fieger/Averre Demos (Omnivore Recordings/Zen Records OVCD-39, 2012).  This ground-floor look follows Omnivore’s Havin’ a Rave-Up!  Live in Los Angeles 1978 in charting the early career of the power-pop hitmakers.

The major revelation of these stripped-down, raw demos is just how developed Doug Fieger was as a songwriter at an early age.  In his liner notes, Lee Lodyga (who co-produced this collection with Cheryl Pawelski) takes pain to note, however, that Averre’s “orchestration by guitar…fleshed out the songs,” adding that “even though Fieger was the main ‘songwriter’ in name, it was Averre’s flourishes that built on and tied the music together, giving it a sense of consistency and continuity.”  Fieger and Averre are certainly very much in tune on these tracks, creating a sound that would blossom into the familiar Knack style and avoids outright period pastiche.  Still, Lodyga points out Averre’s admiration of the chord changes in songs like Mort Garson and Bob Hilliard’s “Our Day Will Come,” and that understanding of what made a classic pop tune served him well as guitarist and de facto arranger of these songs.  (Averre is credited as co-writer of just one song: the catchy “Little Lies,” with its Beatlesque guitar riff and little vocal embellishments – “Uh-yay-yeah!”)  Fieger and Averre knew when they had a winner; hence the new anthology contains two songs reworked for Get the Knack: a 1973 recording of “That’s What the Little Girls Do” and a 1975 take of “Good Girls Don’t.”  Another ’75 song, “Corporation Shuffle (Daddy Turns the Volume Down),” reappeared many years later in 1998 as “Terry and Julie Step Out” on the album Zoom.

Truth to tell, these punchy demos have much in common with the primal performances on the Sunset Strip preserved on Omnivore’s 1978 live disc.  Those had the frisson of an audience, but Fieger and Averre channeled a similar same energy and hunger when they entered the studio to record.  Though by necessity spare, the demos often suggest what a fully-produced version might sound like; only occasionally is the sound actually more full, as with the drums on songs like “You’ll Never Know” and “Get on the Plane,” or the background harmonies on “That’s What the Little Girls Do.”  The garage-ish demo recordings are a reminder that one can do a lot with just two voices, two guitars and a few good tunes!

There’s more Knack after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 12, 2012 at 13:13

Posted in Compilations, Reviews, The Knack

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Release Round-Up: Week of September 11

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer Tarkus: Deluxe Editions (Razor & Tie)

Full review coming soon, but you should know that these are 2-CD/1-DVD sets featuring unreleased alternate takes and 5.1 surround mixes for these two classic prog-rock LPs.

Dio, Singles Box Set (UMC)

A U.K.-made collectible box replicating all of Dio’s Vertigo 12″ singles, plus the Intermission live EP and a DVD of music videos.

The English Beat, Live at The US Festival ’82 & ’83 (Shout! Factory)

Initially available as a pre-order bonus with Shout! Factory’s Complete Beat box, this CD/DVD set (featuring audio highlights from the group’s two US Festival sets and the complete shows on video) is the last piece of what’s been a great year for The Beat’s catalogue.

The Knack, Rock and Roll is Good for You: The Fieger/Averre Demos (Omnivore)

Sixteen demos spotlighting the songwriting partnership between Doug Fieger and Berton Averre (including an early version of “Good Girls Don’t”) are unleashed on disc.

Various Artists, Broadway in a Box: The Essential Broadway Musicals Collection (Masterworks Broadway)

Need a major musical fix? How about 25 of the best original cast albums ever, including My Fair LadySouth PacificWest Side Story and A Chorus Line, in one box?

The Desert Song: Studio Cast Recording (RCA/Masterworks Broadway)

The premiere CD release of this 1959 studio revival of a classic operetta.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out (Hybrid SACD) (Analogue)

This immortal jazz album, newly reissued by Analogue Productions, includes a brand-new stereo SACD remaster, plus the long out-of-print original Sony multi-channel mix and standard CD stereo layer. Not bad at all!

Duran Duran, The Biggest and The Best! / Yazoo, The Collection (Music Club Deluxe)

A pair of U.K. budget compilations from Demon combine hits, B-sides and album cuts from these two great ’80s bands.

David Guetta, Nothing But the Beat 2.0 (AstralWerks)

The French DJ/producer’s guest-heavy 2011 pop album gets reorganized and expanded.

Written by Mike Duquette

September 11, 2012 at 08:24

Getting the Knack (No, Not That Knack!) From Now Sounds

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When The Knack burst onto the scene in 1979 with the album Get the Knack, allegedly the fastest-selling debut LP since Meet the Beatles, was it a case of déjà vu for Dink Kaplan, Larry Gould, Pug Baker and Michael Chain?  The “My Sharona” group was a quartet that came to prominence in Los Angeles, played the Sunset Strip, signed to Capitol Records, and was lauded for a Beatlesque pop style via a massive promotional campaign.  But Kaplan, Gould, Baker and Chain had been through it all before.  They had formed a quartet by the name of The Knack, came to prominence in Los Angeles, played the Sunset Strip, signed to Capitol Records, and were lauded for a Beatlesque pop style via a massive promotional campaign.  So why did that Knack disappear?

Cherry Red’s Now Sounds label attempts to answer that elusive question with Time Waits for No One: The Complete Recordings of The (original) Knack, in stores now.  Perhaps a more distinct name would have behooved our Knack; the British group that would become The Gun had already started as The Knack, too!  But the moniker chosen by the former InMates might be the band’s only misstep, based on the 14 tracks included on this dynamic new collection.  You’ll hear a touch of the Raiders, a dollop of the Buckinghams and a dash of the Byrds, but that’s no knock on a band brimming with enthusiasm and talent: Michael Chain on lead vocals and guitar, Larry Gould on bass, Michael “Dink” Kaplan on guitar and Howard “Pug” Baker on drums.

Over four decades after the band’s breakup, Now Sounds has lovingly created an album that never was.  As with the label’s recent excavation of the recordings of MC Squared, producer Steve Stanley has flawlessly designed an LP jacket that could well have adorned a Knack album in 1967, but this CD release was certainly worth the wait.  (Of course, the CD’s label is also a perfect evocation of 1967 Capitol Records!)  It collects all of the group’s four singles (eight sides) plus extant other material, totaling five previously unreleased songs and one alternate mix, all fresh from the Capitol archives.

There’s plenty more, after the jump, including order link and full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 6, 2012 at 10:08

Posted in News, Reissues, Reviews, The Knack

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Release Round-Up: Week of May 22

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Chubby Checker, It’s Pony Time/Let’s Twist Again/Durocs, Durocs/Terry Knight and the Pack, Terry Knight and the Pack/Reflections/The Orlons, The Wah Watusi/South Street/Various Artists, Remember Me Baby: Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups Vol. 1 (Real Gone Music)

The latest group from Real Gone Music includes classics from the vaults of Philadelphia’s Cameo-Parkway label plus power-pop from San Francisco’s Durocs!

Isaac Hayes and Dionne Warwick, A Man and A Woman/Cissy Houston, Presenting Cissy Houston (Expanded Edition)/Dee Dee Warwick, Foolish Fool (Expanded Edition) (SoulMusic Records)

Dionne Warwick and Isaac Hayes’ long-unavailable 1977 live concert LP makes its CD debut alongside two other titles from members of the Warwick family: Dionne’s aunt Cissy Houston’s 1970 solo collection Presenting Cissy Houston, and sister Dee Dee’s 1969 Mercury LP Foolish Fool!  Watch for reviews later this week!

The Knack, Havin’ a Rave-Up!  Live in Los Angeles, 1978 (Zen/Omnivore)

The New Wave quartet is at its most powerful on this live album drawn from pre-fame performances on the Sunset Strip!  Joe’s review is at the link above!

Dean Martin, The Dean Martin Variety Show Uncut (Time Life)

Time Life releases the first-ever DVD set of complete and uncut episodes of The Dean Martin Show!  Dino’s guests include Cyd Charisse, Joey Heatherton, Barbara McNair, Zero Mostel, Leslie Uggams, Abbe Lane, Buck Owens and The Lettermen!

Paul and Linda McCartney, Ram (Hear Music)

It’s finally here!  Paul and Linda McCartney’s 1971 album has been remastered and reissued in a variety of formats with loads of bonus content!  Our review arrives tomorrow!

Neil Sedaka, The Tra-La Days Are Over/Overnight Success (BGO)

Neil Sedaka’s 1973 and 1975 albums are paired by BGO.  The combined collection features guest stars Elton John and 10cc, and includes such favorites as “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “The Hungry Years” and “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.”

Three Degrees, Standing Up for Love (Funky Town Grooves)

Funky Town Grooves reissues and expands The Three Degrees’ post-Philadelphia International album recorded in 1977 for CBS/Epic!

Various Artists, The Philadelphia International 40th Box Set (Harmless/Demon)

The long-delayed 10-CD box set celebrating Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International label finally arrives in the U.K. courtesy Harmless Records!

Review: The Knack, “Havin’ a Rave-Up! Live in Los Angeles, 1978”

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Not every album lives up to its title, but The Knack’s Havin’ a Rave-Up! certainly does!  The group – Doug Fieger on vocals and rhythm guitar, Berton Averre on lead guitar, keyboards and vocals, Prescott Niles on bass, and Bruce Gary on drums – had quite a number of rave-ups on Los Angeles’ famed Sunset Strip in 1978, and made quite a big noise.  The quartet was suddenly being deemed the American answer to The Beatles.  Musicians the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Ray Manzarek were taking turns sitting in with The Knack.  (Manzarek could have been said to be passing the torch, as The Doors made quite a splash at the Whisky a Go-Go themselves!)  The Beatles comparisons continued when the band signed to Capitol Records.  In fact, 1979’s Get the Knack became the fastest-selling debut album since Meet the Beatles.  When “My Sharona” became the biggest-selling single of 1979, the rest of the U.S. caught wind of what denizens of Los Angeles already knew: The Knack had the goods.  Those pre-fame days are vividly captured on Omnivore Recordings’ new Havin’ a Rave-Up!  Live in Los Angeles, 1978 (Zen/Omnivore OVCD-18, 2012).

If you’re looking for pristine sound quality, you might have to look elsewhere.  These performances, culled from the late Doug Fieger’s own archives, aim for “authorized bootleg quality,” according to a booklet note.  Though there aren’t specific recording dates included, all tracks come from The Whisky a Go-Go and Doug Weston’s Troubadour circa 1978 when The Knack was filling the clubs of the Sunset Strip with stardom just around the corner.  Six songs would be introduced to a wide audience when Get the Knack spent five weeks atop the Billboard chart, and are performed here at their highest possible energy levels.  That energy came from punk; the songs, though, were firmly in the pop tradition.  The “New Wave” label has often been hung on The Knack, perhaps to differentiate them from the harder-edged, more outré acts we think of as “post-punk.”  But whatever you call their music, it was insistently catchy, played with a primal urgency and just a hell of a lot of fun.  It was a respite from both punk and disco, and made it clear that there was still a place for pure pop, before that word had a pejorative connotation.

Hit the jump for a trip to the Whisky! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 22, 2012 at 13:33

Posted in News, Reissues, Reviews, The Knack

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An Omnivore’s Appetite: Tasty Treats From Jellyfish, The Knack, Buck Owens and Ernie Kovacs Coming Soon

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Nobody could accuse the fine folks at Omnivore Recordings of not living up to the label’s name!  After all, “omnivore” is derived from the Latin for “all” and “everything.”   And Omnivore’s recently announced slate of upcoming releases certainly qualifies as encompassing music from an incredibly wide variety of genres and eras.  The label’s packed line-up for May, June and July takes in legends from the world of comedy and country-and-western plus new wave and power pop pioneers!

Two releases were previewed on Record Store Day and are now arriving in complete form.   A RSD-exclusive vinyl EP from The Knack sampled two live songs from the archive of late Knack frontman Doug Fieger, and now comes the full release, Havin’ a Rave-Up!  Live in Los Angeles, 1978. Recorded at two of Los Angeles’ most renowned music spots, the Whisky a Go-Go and Doug Weston’s Troubadour, Havin’ A Rave-Up! Live In Los Angeles, 1978 captures The Knack on the cusp of stardom.  Indeed, shortly after these 1978 sets were recorded, Capitol Records signed The Knack and “My Sharona” (the album’s closing track) took the country by storm.

Bassist Prescott Niles remembered, “Midway through our first show at the Whisky a Go-Go I felt a tingling sense that I was finally in that dream band. And it was called The Knack. We had been together as a band for a mere two weeks and this was our first public performance . . . we blew the roof off the place . . . We all knew on that night in 1978 that we had found our collective dreams, our boyhood fantasies, and a ticket to ‘the toppermost of the poppermost’ (as Doug would often quote).”  The date for Havin’ a Rave-Up! is May 22 in both CD and digital formats.

Hee-haw!  There’s more Buck Owens on the way.  A fantastically whimsical coloring book from the Bakersfield legend and television host was another highlight of Omnivore’s Record Store Day releases, and a flexi disc included with that vintage coloring book featured tracks recorded by Owen and his Buckaroos at the White House of President Lyndon B. Johnson.  On June 19, Buck Owens’ Live at the White House will arrive for the first time on CD and digitally, and as a bonus will also include The Apollo 16 Program.  The core White House set documented Washington, DC performance of Owens, Buddy Alan, Doyle Holly, Don Rich and The Buckaroos on September 9, 1968 and includes the hit single “You Ain’t Gonna Have Ol’ Buck to Kick Around No More.”  Four years later in 1972 (coincidentally the same year Capitol released the Live at the White House album on vinyl), Owens recorded a unique half-hour program intended for the astronauts aboard Apollo 16.  Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke recalled that the crew “played those tapes a lot during our flight to and from the Moon.”  Omnivore has included this true rarity on Live at the White House, which is set for release on June 19!

After the jump: previously-unreleased treasures from Ernie Kovacs and Jellyfish – when was the last time those two names appeared in the same sentence? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 2, 2012 at 09:08

Bowie, McCartney, Joplin, Springsteen, Clash, Davis, Small Faces, More Lead Record Store Day Pack

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We’re just three weeks away from Record Store Day on April 21, and following individual announcements from fantastic labels like Omnivore Recordings, Concord Records, Sundazed Music and Rhino/Warner Bros., we can finally reveal the full line-up of RSD-related goodies!

These limited editions, available at independent music retailers across the U.S. and even internationally, are primarily vinyl releases in various formats (7-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, etc.) and range from replicas of classic albums to EPs and singles premiering exclusive content.  Some of our favorite artists here at TSD HQ are represented, including David Bowie, James Brown, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Lee Hazlewood, Janis Joplin, Buck Owens, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Bruce Springsteen, and even the “odd couple” pairing of Neil Young and Rick James as members of Motown’s The Mynah Birds!  All told, there’s plenty for fans of rock, pop and jazz on offer this year!

Without further ado, hit the jump for our exhaustive list of RSD releases related to the catalogue artists we celebrate each and every day here at The Second Disc.  For those in need of a checklist, you can find a downloadable PDF here of the complete list, and this official Record Store Day list also includes all of the releases of a more recent vintage.  Sound off below on which title you are most eagerly awaiting, and thanks for supporting your local independent record retailer! Read the rest of this entry »

The Knack (And How to Get It): Omnivore Offers Knack EP, Rare Buck Owens Coloring Book For Record Store Day

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We’re less than two months away from Record Store Day, and with that means the promise of major limited edition releases from many of the labels you read about each day here at The Second Disc.  Los Angeles’ Omnivore Recordings, one of our favorite new labels of 2011, is leading the pack with its announcement of two unique titles to be made available on April 21 for Record Store Day.  The more unusual of the two is, believe it or not, a coloring book!  Yes, Omnivore is offering a 2,500-copy limited edition of an actual 1970 Buck Owens coloring book, complete with a colorful flexi-disc containing four songs!  (A digital download card will also be included to bring the package into the 21st century!)  And that’s not all.  Omnivore will also issue a 10-inch “authorized bootleg” EP from power pop legends The Knack.  Live in Los Angeles: 1978 chronicles the band before “My Sharona” vaulted them to the big time one year later.  (The song is, however, heard on the EP!)  Befitting the spirit of Record Store Day, both titles are vinyl-only releases.

Buck Owens, pioneer of the Bakersfield Sound and Hee-Haw television personality, planned to release his official coloring book back in 1970.  In the “better late than never” department, it finally sees wide release for the first time on Record Store Day.  The package consists of a coloring book from Owens’ original stock plus a newly-pressed flexi-disc (available in red, white or blue).  The coloring book tells the story of Buck and his Buckaroos, with the grand finale a concert performance that can be heard on the flexi-disc.  “Act Naturally,” “Together Again,” “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” and “Crying Time” are all mentioned in the coloring book and can be played by you, the reader!  All four songs come from Owens’ White House performance on September 9, 1968 before President Lyndon B. Johnson.  A digital download card also contains all four songs.  The original Live at the White House LP was issued on September 5, 1972 and hasn’t yet seen reissue on CD…until now.  Omnivore will, later this year, issue that seminal recording along with some very special bonus tracks: a previously unissued set recorded by Owens for the astronauts of Apollo 16 in 1972.  The label cheekily notes that these tracks have “never before been heard on planet Earth!”

Hit the jump to get the Knack! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 5, 2012 at 11:04

Back Tracks: The Knack

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Rock fans have had some sad news to cope with today: Doug Fieger, the unmistakable lead singer for The Knack, died today after a lengthy battle with cancer. While The Knack may be seen by some as a semi-sleazy one-hit wonder (or two-hit, if you count “Good Girls Don’t”), their brand of power pop was emblematic of everything the genre should be: fun, catchy and not the least bit serious.

In honor of Fieger’s band and their contributions to the pop-rock scene, here’s a special look back at the reissues of their 30-year catalogue. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 14, 2010 at 23:32

Posted in Features, Reissues, The Knack

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