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Review: The Paley Brothers, “The Complete Recordings”

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Paley Brothers - CompleteIf The Brill Building had survived as the fulcrum of pop songwriting activity through the 1970s, chances are that Andy and Jonathan Paley would have been found in a cubicle there, turning out one infectious pop nugget after another like “Come Out and Play” and “Here Comes My Baby.”  As it turned out, the category-defying Paley Brothers were men out of time.  Singers as well as songwriters, they were signed to the Sire Records roster between the Ramones and Talking Heads, and managed to bridge the gap between Shaun Cassidy and, say, The Patti Smith Group.  After one EP, one LP, and some one-offs, however, The Paley Brothers disappeared.  Andy and Jonathan stayed in the music biz, with Andy notably working with Brian Wilson and overseeing film and television soundtracks from Dick Tracy to Spongebob Squarepants while Jonathan produced bands including the Dogmatics and Shrapnel.  Real Gone Music has just compiled the definitive anthology of the brief but blazing career of Andy and Jonathan as The Paley Brothers – The Complete Recordings.  This 26-track, non-chronologically arranged compendium, with 11 never-before-heard songs including one produced by Phil Spector, is one of the most deliciously upbeat releases of the year.  The Paley Brothers used the music of their own heroes as a jumping-off point, but created memorable songs that have earned their own place in the canon.  And now those songs can come out from the underground.

Jimmy Iovine (Bruce Springsteen, American Idol) helmed the Sire debut of the Paleys, a four-track EP recorded in a small New Jersey studio in 1976.  All four tracks from that EP are reprised on The Complete Recordings, and they’re treats one and all.  The Paleys let the stylistic hallmarks of their forebears come through loud and clear, but their two-part harmony and rawer sound kept them from descending into mere pastiche.  And so “Come Out and Play,” with Roy Bittan of the E Street Band on piano, plays like a marriage of Brian Wilson, Neil Sedaka and The Vogues.  “Rendezvous,” on which Bittan also appeared, is a Beach Boys twist on the Spector sound – and the Paleys would return to that well many times, each with creative and affectionate results.  (The legendary Beach Boy leader’s influence on the Paley Brothers’ ouevre is particularly apparent in the vocal phrasing.)  “Hide and Seek,” with its wailing saxophone, touches on Spector while also evoking The Rascals of “A Girl Like You.”  Its bubblegum lyrics (“Tried to remember baby way back when/I was eleven, you were ten/You and me, we were so carefree/Each and every day, all we’d do is play hide and seek!”) are rendered with what must have been a refreshing lack of irony.  Thanks to a rambunctious guitar, “Ecstasy” is the hardest-rocking of the quartet of songs, but its effortless melody and bright, teenager-in-love lyrics keep it light.  (“Come Out and Play” was written by both Paleys; Andy composed “Hide and Seek” and “Rendezvous” solo, and “Ecstasy” was the work of Billy Connors.)

Earle Mankey (Sparks, The Runaways, The Three O’Clock) was selected to produce The Paley Brothers’ 1978 full-length Sire debut.  Jonathan and Eric Rose played guitar, Andy handled keyboards and harmonica, Jan Uvena played drums, and Jim Haslip and Leigh Foxx shared bass duties.  Adding a layer of verisimilitude, the album was recorded at The Beach Boys’ Brother Studios.  Every track from The Paley Brothers is represented on The Complete Recordings, but fans and collectors alike should know that they’re included in never-before-released alternate takes or mixes – not in the original album versions.  Mankey didn’t dissuade the brothers from their well-crafted homages, but brought out the originality in their compositions, too.  The relatively stripped-down instrumentation married to sunny, hook-filled melodies and youthful lyrics lent The Paleys a distinct sound in the mid- to late-seventies rock landscape.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

October 4, 2013 at 13:30

Release Round-Up: Week of September 3

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Rod Stewart - RaritiesRod Stewart, Rarities (Mercury/UMe)

It’s Rod at his rarest: two discs of outtakes, non-LP singles and other good stuff, including two unreleased BBC session tracks. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Real Gone September 30 GroupJefferson Starship, Live in Central Park NYC May 12, 1975 / Claudia Lennear, Phew! / Ponderosa Twins Plus One, 2+2+1=Ponderosa Twins Plus One / Jo Ann Campbell, All the HitsHer Complete Cameo Recordings / Joanie Sommers, Come Alive!—The Complete Columbia Recordings / Stonewall Jackson, Original Greatest Hits / The Paley Brothers, The Complete Recordings (Real Gone Music)

The latest releases from the folks at Real Gone Music, all of which you can read about here.

Jefferson Starship: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Claudia Lennear: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Ponderosa Twins Plus One: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Jo Ann Campbell: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Joanie Sommers: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Stonewall Jackson: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Paley Brothers: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Crises BoxMike Oldfield, Five Miles Out Crises: Deluxe Editions (Mercury/UMC)

The latest in the Mike Oldfield reissue series includes a triple-disc version of his seventh album from 1982 and a five-disc version of the 1983 follow-up.

Five Miles Out CD: Amazon U.K.
Five Miles Out 2CD+DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Five Miles Out LP: Amazon U.K.
Crises CD: Amazon U.K.
Crises 2CD: Amazon U.K.
Crises 3CD+2DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Crises LP: Amazon U.K.

yesboxYes, High Vibration SACD Box (Warner Music Japan)

A new hybrid SACD box set includes every Yes album from 1969 to 1987, plus a 12-track disc of bonus non-LP tracks and remixes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Rocky Horror BoxVarious Artists, The Rocky Horror Show: Album Box Set (Salvo)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show box set, released on CD in 1990, is replicated on this new set from Salvo. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Breeders LSXX vinylThe Breeders, LSXX (4AD/Beggars Archive)

Already available on CD, this expanded edition of The Breeders’ Last Splash comes as a seven-disc vinyl box. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Kim Wilde Close 25Kim Wilde, Close: Remastered Expanded Edition (Universal U.K.)

One of Kim Wilde’s most successful albums gets the double-disc treatment. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Monterey PopVarious Artists, Monterey International Pop Festival (Salvo)

Four discs of performances from the acclaimed 1967 festival. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Gilbert Every Song Has Its PlayGilbert O’Sullivan, By Larry Every Song Has Its Play (Salvo/Union Square Music)

O’Sullivan’s 1994 and 1995 albums are the latest to be reissued by Salvo, with new sleeve notes (and a bonus track for Larry).

By Larry: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Every Song Has Its Play: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Rush Hemispheres SACDPoco, Pickin’ Up the Pieces / Rush, Hemispheres (Hybrid SACD-DSD) (Audio Fidelity)

The latest SACDs from Audio Fidelity: Poco’s 1969 debut, mastered by Steve Hoffman, and a Kevin Gray-mastered version of Rush’s sixth album.

Poco: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Rush: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

It’s a Real Gone September with Jefferson Starship, The Paley Brothers, Joanie Sommers and More

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Jefferson Starship - Live

While we await previously announced titles coming later this month from Dionne Warwick, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., P-Funk offshoot Parlet and more, Real Gone Music is already looking forward to summer’s end with a new release slate due on September 3.

Real Gone is making a couple of very contemporary connections with releases from Claudia Lennear and Ponderosa Twins Plus One.   Lennear, a longtime background singer, recently stepped to the fore as one of the artists featured in director Morgan Neville’s documentary 20 Feet from Stardom.  And the all-but-forgotten Jackson 5 sound-alikes Ponderosa Twins Plus One were sampled by none other than Kanye West on his new album Yeezus.  Add to those a comprehensive collection from musical sweetheart Joanie Sommers (including an unreleased track penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David), two discs of previously unreleased music from Jefferson Starship, a complete anthology from power-pop icons The Paley Brothers (with a never-before-issued Phil Spector production!), plus more unexpected country and rock-and-roll treats, and you’ve got an idea of what to expect from Real Gone in September!

Hit the jump for the scoop on each title plus pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »