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BBR Completes Pointer Sisters’ Planet Catalogue with “Priority” and “Black and White” Remasters

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Pointer Sisters - PriorityBetween 1978 and 1988, The Pointer Sisters recorded a stunning series of nine albums with producer Richard Perry (Barbra Streisand, Harry Nilsson), first for his Elektra-distributed Planet Records label, and then for RCA, to whom Perry eventually sold Planet.  During this period, June, Ruth and Anita finally were able to Break Out on the U.S. charts – to quote the title of the group’s multi-platinum 1983 album which introduced four U.S. Top 10 hits.  Previously the Pointers had mastered jazz, blues, funk and even country – the latter with the Grammy-winning “Fairytale.”  But with Perry at the helm, the trio emphasized lithe R&B grooves equally steeped in dance, pop and rock rhythms.  In other words, Perry and the Pointer Sisters synthesized all of their influences into one recognizably “Pointer” style.  Big Break Records has just completed its reissue program for all of the Perry/Pointer Sisters albums with the recent releases of Priority (1979) and Black and White (1981).  In addition to getting the expanded treatment, the latter title is also appearing for the very first time on CD in its original album mix.

Even for fans of the sleek Pointer records like “Jump (For My Love)” and “He’s So Shy,” 1979’s Priority might come as a bit of a surprise.  As Perry reflects in Christian John Wikane’s incisive liner notes, the priority of the title was to produce genuine “rock-oriented material with a black group.”  And so, for the second collaborative album between Perry and the Pointer Sisters, the group tackled songs originally performed or written by The Rolling Stones, The Band, Ian Hunter, Graham Parker and the Rumour, and Bruce Springsteen.  It was the latter’s “Fire” – a No. 2 hit from the Pointers’ Planet debut Energy – that pointed the way for the more aggressive direction on Priority.  To support the vocalists, Perry enlisted some of Laurel Canyon’s finest, raiding Rick Marotta (drums), Waddy Wachtel (guitar) and Dan Dugmore (guitar) from Linda Ronstadt’s band.  Pianist Nicky Hopkins (The Rolling Stones, Nilsson) joined the personnel, as did Little Feat’s Bill Payne on keyboards, William “Smitty” Smith on organ, Scott Chambers on bass, and session great David Spinozza on slide guitar.  Though headlined by a vocal group, Priority feels very much like a “band record.”

“Who Do You Love” (“Is it her or is it me?”), pulled from Ian Hunter’s 1975 solo album, features a gritty June Pointer lead over a track adorned with barroom piano and bluesy guitar (with Wachtel soaring on lead) that would have been equally comfortable for Ronstadt or any of her country-rocking L.A. brethren.  The Pointer Sisters may have been from the Bay Area, but clearly the sound of Southern California could inspire them as well.  Though a uniform sound adorned most of the album’s tracks, their origins were diverse.  The arrangement of Detroiter Bob Seger’s “All Your Love” was cut from the same cloth as that of “Who Do You Love,” but, with Ruth’s even smokier vocal, emphasized the roughness around the edges.  Any group must be brave to tackle the Rolling Stones songbook, but the Pointers did just that with the Exile on Main Street rave-up “Happy,” with June filling in for Keith Richards and Nicky Hopkins reprising his role on piano.

Just as bold was the choice to cover a Bruce Springsteen song, though it was inevitable considering the Pointers’ success with The Boss’ “Fire.”  Arguably even more smoldering than “Fire,” “The Fever” was written and originally sung by Springsteen, but not released until the 1990s.  Allan Rich gave it a shot as “Fever For the Girl,” but the song became the property of Southside Johnny Lyon when he recorded it – with a memorable vocal contribution from E Streeter Clarence Clemons – in 1976.  Ruth was the perfect choice to sing lead, her husky tones giving weary life to the blues of Springsteen’s lyric.  The lack of Southside Johnny’s signature horn section also lends “(She’s Got) The Fever” a different quality here, and the mutual R&B roots of Springsteen and The Pointer Sisters are in evidence.

“Blind Faith,” a Gerry Rafferty/Joe Egan song for their band Stealer’s Wheel is hardly as well-known as Glimmer Twin Keith’s signature “Happy.”  But Perry imbued it with a down ‘n’ dirty spin on a girl group record as Ruth intoned the bluesy lead, June and Anita “bop-shoo-bopping” with ironic spirit behind her.  Richard Thompson’s “Don’t Let a Thief Steal Into Your Heart” might feature the best vocal and instrumental interplay on the album.  Chambers adds funky bass as the versatile Wachtel soars on slide, with June, Ruth and Anita each playing a substantial role in the vocals.  Robbie Robertson’s raucous “The Shape I’m In” concludes the album on a high note.

Priority did grant listeners one brief oasis of calm, however.  David Palmer and William D. Smith’s “Dreaming as One” had been recorded previously by The Walker Brothers and Warren Zevon associate Jorge Calderon, but Anita’s sensitive, cooing vocal didn’t force the sweet, natural emotion of the song.  In a fine decorative touch, Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel added the country flavor with which Anita was accustomed.  For all this fine material, the album lacked one song with strong enough pop single potential, by producer Perry’s own admission.  Still, one can’t help but believe that the group’s embrace of rock on Priority was another feather in their cap and another stepping stone to the superstardom that beckoned in the new decade.

Big Break’s reissue doesn’t add any bonus material, but the album has been remastered by reissue producer Wayne A. Dickson and includes a typically lavish and colorful booklet with full credits and Wikane’s new essay.  As usual, the attention to detail is top-notch right down to the Planet/BBR label on the CD itself.

After the jump: a look at Black and White, plus order links and track listings for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 7, 2013 at 11:11

Posted in News, Reissues, Reviews, The Pointer Sisters

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Merry Christmas, Baby! “A Very Special Christmas” Reissued with New DVD at Target Stores

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A Very Special Christmas TargetIf you can get over the shock of a good amount of holiday CDs available on the shelves at Target, you’ll find a surprise new exclusive: a reissue of the classic 1987 compilation A Very Special Christmas with a brand new DVD about the long-running holiday benefit series.

Produced by acclaimed engineer-turned-label impresario Jimmy Iovine, A Very Special Christmas featured the brightest stars in pop music, from Springsteen to Madonna, recording new versions of classic carols (plus one modern classic, Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis”). Nearly all of its 15 tracks have become staples of holiday radio, and the original album has moved more than 4 million units in the United States. The best part? Proceeds from the sale of the album went to The Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s worldwide organization allowing intellectually-disabled children and adults to compete in sporting events. (Over $100 million has been raised by the album series, now spanning across nine titles.)

With a new subtitle, The Story and The Music, appended to its iconic Keith Haring-designed album sleeve, this new version of A Very Special Christmas features a new 60-minute DVD of highlights from the series’ quarter century-plus history. It comes alongside the most common pressing of the original AVSC album – which substituted a live cover of “Back Door Santa” by Bon Jovi for the same band’s studio recording of a new ballad, “I Wish Every Day Could Be Like Christmas.” (You’ll hear more from us soon on the package, from mastering to bonus content, in a forthcoming review – albeit one closer to the holiday season!)

Head to your local Target to buy this new set now, or order it through the store’s website. Full product specs are after the jump!

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Review: A Quartet From BBR – The Pointer Sisters, Buddy Miles, Pharoah Sanders, Greg Phillinganes

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Among the most recent reissues from Big Break Records is a 1974 album from Electric Flag founder and Jimi Hendrix drummer Buddy Miles entitled All the Faces of Buddy Miles.  But one could easily title any given batch of music from the Cherry Red-affiliated label as All the Faces of BBR, so reliably diverse is each group of the label’s releases.  Today’s capsule reviews look at four of the latest from the Big Break team!

Buddy Miles, All the Faces of Buddy Miles (Columbia KC-33089, 1974 – reissued Big Break CDBBR 0123, 2012)

Producer Johnny Bristol was one of the brightest names at Motown in the late 1960s, responsible for such hits as Diana Ross and the Supremes’ “Someday We’ll Be Together,” David Ruffin’s “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)” and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”  Following his departure from Motown, Bristol continued producing other artists but embarked on a successful solo career, first at MGM Records and later for labels including Atlantic.  The same year he charted on MGM with the Top 10 “Hang on in There Baby,” Bristol took the controls for All the Faces of Buddy Miles.  He brought along Funk Brothers cohorts including bassist James Jamerson and guitarist Melvin “Wah Wah Watson” Ragin, and lent the titular drummer a smooth sound at the crossroads of pop, funk and soul.  Miles ceded the drum chair and concentrated on vocals for the settings provided by Bristol and veteran arranger H.B. Barnum, who had worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin.  Although Miles wasn’t a vocal powerhouse, he brought a great deal of passion to a largely original set that touched on most of the faces of seventies soul music.

Bristol supplied most of the material, with future Warren Zevon collaborator Jorge Calderon contributing a couple of new songs.  Calderon’s “All the Faces” supplied the album with its title, as Miles queried, “How can all the faces be a part of who I am?”  There’s not much of the forceful funk-rock Miles of Electric Flag and Band of Gypsys.  There’s more of the Miles who played with Ruby and the Romantics and The Delfonics.  But Miles and the band cut loose on Calderon’s raucous “Kiss and Run,” Bristol’s tougher “Wants and Needs (The Earth Song)” and the album’s lone instrumental, “Baby Don’t Stop (Sit on the Rock).”  The softer influence of Philly soul is felt on Bristol’s “I’m Just a Kiss Away.”  A revival of Tommy Edwards’ “It’s Only the Good Times” is cabaret gone to church, and Bristol’s “Pain” smolders and simmers with the title emotion until the singer and the song reach boiling point.   A jazzy saxophone lends “Pain” a late-night vibe.  Miles even ventures into Barry White territory with the sensual R&B of “Got to Find Ms. Right.”

Keyboardist Clarence McDonald contributes to the liner notes in this fine package, which also includes the single version of “Pull Yourself Together” as a bonus track.  All the Faces of Buddy Miles is one album that lives up to its title, and will likely be mandatory listening for fans of under-the-radar seventies soul.

Pharoah Sanders, Love Will Find a Way (Arista 4161, 1978 – reissued Big Break CDBBR 0117, 2012)

How to commercialize the sound of one of the leading pioneers of the free jazz movement?  That was the question that producer Norman Connors positioned himself to answer when he signed with Clive Davis’ Arista Records label.  Saxophonist Pharoah Sanders was lauded by Ornette Coleman as “probably the best tenor player in the world,” and had been closely associated with the avant garde jazz of Sun Ra and John Coltrane.  Sanders first joined Coltrane on record for 1965’s Ascension, and Meditations (1966) spectacularly featured the two men on “dueling” tenor saxophones with extensive “free” passages.  After Coltrane’s 1967 death, Sanders played with his wife Alice, and also served as a leader, continuing to push the boundaries of jazz.  But Norman Connors, a songwriter, arranger, and drummer who had scored a hit with 1976’s You Are My Starship, had designs on updating Sanders’ sound without compromising it.  The result was Love Will Find a Way, which walks the line between R&B, fusion and even smooth jazz.

Though Connors smartly didn’t try to disguise the fact that Sanders was, first and foremost, a jazz musician, the surroundings (courtesy Motown stalwarts McKinley Jackson and Paul Riser) were markedly different than the lengthy, frequently dissonant jazz his fans had come to expect.  The title track found Sanders melodically playing over a lush bed of strings, tinkling piano and sweet background singers.  “Pharomba,” arranged by Jackson, allowed Sanders more room to wail over funky support from Connors and Kenny Nash on percussion, Lenny White on drums and Alex Blake on bass.  As producer, though, Connors kept the track melodic and tight.  He also enlisted a not-so-secret weapon in the form of the budding vocal star Phyllis Hyman.  Hyman had made her first big splash when Connors produced her on You Are My Starship’s revival of Thom Bell and Linda Creed’s “Betcha By Golly Wow.”  She lent her remarkable and appropriately jazz-inflected voice to three tracks: “Love is Here,” “As You Are” and “Everything I Have is Good.”   For “Everything I Have,” Connors himself sang a duet with Hyman.  With vocalists out front, Sanders’ playing is much more restrained but no less dexterous.  Sanders takes the soprano sax for a languid instrumental version of the 1953 standard “Answer Me, My Love” and gets the party started with a cover of Marvin Gaye’s then-recent Motown hit “Got to Give It Up.”  But Pharoah’s version isn’t as funky as Gaye’s cool original, and it’s one of the less distinguished tracks here.  (Nor was it a favorite of Connors’, according to the extensive liner notes by Shelley Nicole.)

It’s impossible not to note the irony that a groundbreaker in the free jazz arena came very close to the realm of smooth jazz with Love Will Find a Way.  This transformation of Pharoah Sanders might be anathema to those moved by the extended explorations of his past, and indeed, Sanders soon returned to the style of music that was more personal to him.  But thanks to Norman Connors’ contributions, Love is a singular hybrid of R&B and soul with jazz as well as a true time capsule.  Big Break’s expanded edition adds the single versions of “As You Are” and “Got to Give It Up.”

We’ll meet you after the jump with looks at the latest reissues from The Pointer Sisters and Greg Phillinganes! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 18, 2012 at 12:07

Big Break’s Full Summer Slate Includes Isleys, Pointers, Prince Partners

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The fine folks at Big Break Records have got another large batch of new titles for release in the U.K. on July 25, and we figured now was a good time to share not only the track lists and details with you, but look ahead at some of the huge titles they’re prepping for next month.

There are a few really great, underrated titles from some big-name acts in next week’s batch, including expansions of The Isley Brothers’ Between the Sheets (1983) and I Can See Clearly Now (1972) by Johnny Nash. But there are some deeper titles for cratediggers, all augmented with bonus tracks. Particularly, two discs from the Total Experience Records catalogue (Prime Time’s Flying High (1984) and The Gap Band’s Gap Band 8 (1986)) and some other dance/soul classics from around the Sony Music catalogue (The Nite-Liters, Keith Barrow, The Joneses).

But August is just as exciting a month for the label, featuring some Prince-ly project and the what may be Big Break’s most ambitious release yet. Read all about it after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 13, 2011 at 12:29

Release Round-Up: Week of July 5

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Erasure, Wonderland / The Circus: Deluxe Editions (EMI)

Vince Clarke and Andy Bell’s first two albums, expanded with bonus B-sides and remixes across two CDs and DVDs full of live footage. (Official site)

Jim Capaldi, Dear Mr. Fantasy: The Jim Capaldi Story (Universal U.K.)

The late Traffic legend is memorialized in a four-disc box set. (Official site)

Paul McCartney, Driving Rain (MPL/Concord)

Another Macca remaster, this one of Paul’s 2001 album. No frills, but I imagine “Freedom” will get officially included on the track list. (Official site)

Ashford and Simpson, High Rise: Expanded Edition / Switch, Am I Still Your Boyfriend? Expanded Edition / The Pointer Sisters, Hot Together: Expanded Edition / Yarbrough & Peoples, Guilty: Expanded Edition / Prime Time, Flying High: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

A new brace of titles from Big Break Records, with the usual non-LP remixes and B-sides rounding out the albums. There’s more coming from BBR this month; keep your eyes peeled for a round-up post pretty soon. (Big Break)

Various Artists, The London American Label, Year By Year – 1958 (Ace)

Ace’s latest volume in the London American series, which honors one of the U.K.’s most beloved U.S. import labels, includes hits from Chuck Berry, Bobby Darin, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran and The Chipmunks! (Official site)

Written by Mike Duquette

July 5, 2011 at 17:24

Friday Feature: “Night Shift”

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Fate works in mysterious ways.  Dionne Warwick was home one evening, half-asleep while the 1982 film Night Shift played on her television set.  “I didn’t really pay attention to the names that were going up on the credits,” Warwick recounted, “but I knew that was Burt Bacharach’s melody.  There was no way in the world it could be anybody else’s.”  She was speaking of “That’s What Friends Are For,” an all-but-forgotten song written for the 1982 film Night Shift, Ron Howard’s major big screen directorial debut.  “Friends” set lyrics to Bacharach’s main love theme for the film, and was performed by Rod Stewart.

Warwick had recently reconciled with Bacharach after a decade-plus of estrangement; the catalyst was producer Aaron Spelling, who wished to have a Bacharach/Warwick collaboration as the theme to his 1984 television drama Finder of Lost Loves.  The very next day after hearing “Friends,” Warwick phoned Bacharach and his then-wife and principal lyricist, Carole Bayer Sager.  She let them know that she wished to cut the song herself.  “And they were thrilled,” said Warwick.  “They figured that nobody had heard the song, except the two of them – and Rod Stewart!”  Warwick then hit upon the idea of inviting some of her famous friends to join the recording sessions, and a groundbreaking No. 1 record (both pop and R&B!) was born.  “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends (Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder) would be the biggest hit of Warwick’s career, a feather in the cap for Bacharach and Sager, and perhaps most importantly, a major rallying cry and fundraiser for AIDS awareness.  Arista Records, the artists, producers, publishers and respective unions all donated their proceeds to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR).  When Rhino Records included the song on its 1998 box set The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection, Rhino followed suit.

“That’s What Friends Are For” is the major musical legacy of Night Shift.  The original soundtrack version remains a hidden gem in Rod Stewart’s deep catalogue.  But for today’s Friday Feature, we look not only at the original “Friends,” but the soundtrack contributions from Quarterflash, Al Jarreau, The Pointer Sisters, Marshall Crenshaw, Talk Talk and more!  Hit the jump to join Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton and Shelley Long on the night shift! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 22, 2011 at 12:10

Big Break Delivers Big Slate of Soul Classics in March

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Our friends at the U.K.-based Big Break label haven’t given much thought lately to a break! A recently-announced slate of March releases bring the label’s total catalogue to nearly 50 titles since its inception in 2009, and covers a wide and diverse swath of soulful artists. Some are returning to the label (The Pointer Sisters, Deniece Williams, Billy Ocean) and others are making their label debuts (Dennis Edwards, Ashford and Simpson, The Originals).

Deniece Williams is recipient of her third Big Break reissue. My Melody was her 1981 triumph co-produced by Thom Bell, who also contributed as a writer, arranger and conductor. Bell, an architect of the Philadelphia sound, brought out the best in Williams, and My Melody spawned the hit single “What Two Can Do” and the lush “Silly,” now one of the songs most associated with the singer. My Melody will feature two bonus tracks, the single versions of “Silly” and “It’s Your Conscience.” The Pointer Sisters also receive their third Big Break release. Contact was the group’s first record for the RCA label after their successful tenure on Richard Perry’s Planet label; Special Things and So Excited, both for Planet, were BBR’s first two releases from the Pointers. 1985’s Contact was also produced by Perry, and went platinum. “Dare Me” charted on the R&B and Pop charts in addition to placing atop the Dance chart, while “Freedom” and “Twist My Arm” also had impressive placings. Contact also features songwriting contributions from 1980s chart-toppers Mr. Mister. Contact boasts an incredible nine bonus tracks, including B-sides, dance mixes and single versions.

Billy Ocean returns to BBR with 1982’s Inner Feelings from the Epic label. Nigel Martinez brought his production skills to the table, and Inner Feelings paved the way for his hugely-successful hits like “Caribbean Queen” and “When the Going Gets Tough.” Inner Feelings will include two single versions and one 12″ dance remix. Also from 1982 is Ashford and Simpson’s Capitol Records debut, Street Opera. Written and produced by the famous hitmaking team, Street Opera scored with R&B hit “Street Corner.” That song is included among the bonus tracks in both single and dance versions, with the ballad “Love It Away” also included in its single version.

While Ashford and Simpson spent many of their early years at the Motor City’s biggest label, Big Break’s next two releases actually hail from the famed Motown library. Dennis Edwards’ Don’t Look Any Further (1984) was produced by Dennis Lambert, who ironically gave The Four Tops their biggest non-Motown hits with songs like “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got).” The former Temptation and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” vocalist duetted with Siedah Garrett (duet partner on Michael Jackson’s “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”) and enjoyed the vocal support of Paulette Williams, formerly of Rufus, on this long-lost LP. Four bonus tracks have been added, including both the U.S. and U.K. 12″ mixes of the title track. The Originals’ California Sunset has an even more legendary pedigree, as the 1975 LP was produced by Lamont Dozier, who arranged its tracks with Jimmie Haskell and Paul Riser. This smooth soul classic has been expanded by one bonus cut, the single version of “Good Lovin’ is Just a Dime Away.”

All titles are due in the U.K. in March. Hit the jump for the full track listings, pre-order links and discographical information! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 18, 2011 at 08:36

Release Round-Up: Week of November 23

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With most retailers putting out their new releases today to get a jump on the inevitable holiday weekend blitz, here’s the big catalogue releases for the week a day early!

Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson’s Vision (Epic/Legacy)

A three-DVD set that includes just about any MJ video you could be searching for. Of course, the one unreleased clip just officially hit the Internet, making you wonder what the fuss is all about. Oh wait, it’s Michael Jackson. (Official site)

Jay-Z, The Hits Collection Vol. 1
(Def Jam)

The first domestic compilation by one of the most respected MCs in the game. A deluxe version features five unreleased tracks. The perfect soundtrack to reading his new memoir. (Official site)

The Who, Live at Leeds: 40th Anniversary Edition (Geffen/UMe)

If you haven’t bought Live at Leeds in any of its three previous incarnations, this set adds the complete Hull show in addition to the complete Leeds show and throws in some vinyl and book bonuses. (Amazon)


The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones Vinyl Box Set 1964-1969 (ABKCO/UMe) / The Rolling Stones Vinyl Box Set 1971-2005 (Rolling Stones/UMe)

Two hefty boxes of wax collecting all the albums, EPs and compilations The Stones ever committed to tape. (Amazon – 1964-1969)

Pet Shop Boys, Ultimate Pet Shop Boys (EMI)

A thin hits compilation made slightly more worthwhile by the presence of a deluxe edition with a well-stocked DVD of Top of the Pops performances and other live treats. (Official site)

Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine (Null Corporation/Bicycle Music Company/UMe)

Trent Reznor remasters and reissues NIN’s debut album with one bonus track. (Amazon)

Mr. Mister, Pull (RCA/Legacy)

Released from the vault after 20 years, Legacy issues a digital (and limited physical) release of the fourth Mr. Mister LP, alongside digital releases of two other Mr. Mister albums (I Wear the Face (1984) and Go On… (1987)) and two LPs by the pre-Mister group Pages. (Official site) Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of November 9

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Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Damn the Torpedoes: Deluxe Edition (Geffen/UMe)

With a bonus disc of B-sides and unreleased outtakes and an optional Blu-Ray audio version, audiophiles hopefully won’t have a reason to say “don’t do me like that” with this set. (Official site)

Bon Jovi, Greatest Hits: The Ultimate Collection (Island)

If 1994’s Cross Road isn’t enough of a Bon Jovi comp for you, this career-spanning set (available in single and double-disc formats) combines all the usual hits with two new tracks (or four, depending on what set you buy). (Official site)

Elvis Presley, Viva ELVIS: The Album (RCA/Legacy)

The King gets his own equivalent to The Beatles’ Love, complete with a soundtrack of remixed, re-imagined classics. (More material you’re not going to find on the box set.) (Official site)

The Rolling Stones, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (Box Set) (Eagle)

The Stones’ classic Exile-era concert film (just recently released on DVD) is paired with this year’s The Stones in Exile and a bunch of bonus material in a limited, numbered box. (Amazon)

Bing Crosby, The Crosby Christmas Sessions (Collector’s Choice) / The Television Specials Volume 2: The Christmas Specials (Infinity)

Hooray for Christmas catalogue titles! Collector’s Choice honors Bing’s holiday spirit with a trove of mostly-unreleased Yuletide tracks, while Infinity Entertainment gets his holiday television specials on DVD. (Official site) Read the rest of this entry »

And They Just Can’t Hide It: Big Break Records to Reissue Two Pointer Sisters Classics

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If you’re a reader of The Second Disc and you’re about to lose control, then we think you’ll like this story: Cherry Red’s Big Break imprint is reissuing two classic albums by The Pointer Sisters: Special Things (1980) and So Excited! (1982).

The Pointer Sisters were instantly recognized as a unique R&B group with their self-titled debut LP in 1973. Their voices were strong and their style was distinctively retro, dealing heavily in jazz and be-bop. They even decked themselves out in costumes of the period, to boot. But by 1977, Bonnie Pointer had flown for a solo career and the remaining sisters (Annie, June and Ruth) were unsure of which musical direction to forge ahead in. Risking their futures on a more contemporary sound (with the help of producer Richard Perry), the Pointers were greeted with even more success stretching through the end of the ’70s and well into the ’80s. Those unique voices and frenetic arrangements amounted to some of the best pop and R&B of the age, including “Fire,” “He’s So Shy,” “I’m So Excited,” “Jump (for My Love),” “Neutron Dance” and others.

These two BBR releases catch the sisters at the peak of their powers: Special Things was the record that yielded “He’s So Shy” and moderate hit “Could I Be Dreaming.” It also featured some of the most seasoned veterans of the music industry, whether it was songwriters (Tom Snow and Cynthia Weil penned “He’s So Shy,” while Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager wrote “The Love Too Good to Last”) or session musicians – a list that included Bacharach and Snow themselves alongside Michael Boddicker, Paulinho da Costa, Greg Phillinganes and Motown legend James Jamerson. And So Excited!, in addition to including most of those musicians (and Perry once again in the producer’s chair), had songwriting credits from Terry Britten (co-writer of “What’s Love Got to Do with It” for Tina Turner), Michael Bolton and Prince (the sisters were the first to cover his “I Feel for You,” a version which sounds faithful to his bouncy version from 1980’s Prince. Of course, two years later, Chaka Khan would turn it into something else entirely.)

Each package contains at least one bonus track (non-LP B-side “Movin’ On” was released on Wounded Bird’s 2007 reissue of Special Things, which is now out of print; two 12″ remixes augment So Excited!) and new liner notes featuring interviews from surviving sisters Anita and Ruth Pointer. The sets will be made available on November 22, but you can order them here.

Let’s get excited for some track lists after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 7, 2010 at 12:35