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Soulful and Seductive: Grateful Dead, Glen Campbell, The Roches, Bill Medley, Maynard Ferguson Kick Off Real Gone 2012

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Are you ready to get gone, Real Gone, with the new kids on the reissue block?  The label founded by Gordon Anderson and Gabby Castellana is following its debut slate (reviews to come!) with an eclectic group of releases for January 2012 that will start the New Year off right!  One batch of titles is due January 24, with the remaining releases arriving the following week.

Few artists have had a career as legendary as that of Glen Campbell, and few have been as brave in the face of tragedy.  Campbell recently revealed an Alzheimer’s diagnosis but committed to remaining on tour in support of his farewell studio album, the justly-acclaimed Ghost on the Canvas.  That album musically and lyrically looked back to Campbell’s past triumphs, and many of them can be revisited on Real Gone’s CD debut of Campbell’s 1975 Live in JapanLike Leon Russell’s live album of the same title (recently revived by the Omnivore label), Campbell’s live set never received a domestic release…until now!  On January 24, Real Gone will reissue the 13-track album in a replica of its lavish original gatefold package.  Campbell’s set includes both his familiar hits (“Galveston,” a medley including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Honey, Come Back” and “Gentle on My Mind”) and well-chosen cover versions (“The Way We Were,” “Try to Remember,” even “My Way”).  Though budget label collections proliferate of late-era live material from the artist, Live in Japan is a rare CD of live Campbell in his prime and shouldn’t be missed!

Few could have expected Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield to disband The Righteous Brothers after their string of titanic hits in the mid-1960s, but that’s exactly what happened in 1968.  Though Hatfield initially attempted to carry on the Righteous name with another vocalist, Medley took the solo route.  (The original duo would reunite in 1974.)  After the Righteous split, Medley remained at MGM Records, parent of the Brothers’ then-label Verve.  Medley released four albums (one of which was issued in two variations) at MGM and recorded two more that remain unissued to this day.  The first two Medley LPs for MGM, Bill Medley 100% and Soft & Soulful, are arriving on one CD from Real Gone.   Among the blue-eyed soul hits included on these two LPs are “Brown-Eyed Woman” by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (No. 43), “Peace Brother Peace” (No. 48), and the ironically-titled “I Can’t Make It Alone” by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.  “I Can’t Make It Alone” recreates the Spector Wall of Sound with a stunning arrangement and vocal, disproving its own title!  Burt Bacharach enthusiasts will also enjoy Medley’s take on the Bacharach/Bob Hilliard co-write “Any Day Now,” and Medley even takes on the deathless “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.

Over on the country side of town, Real Gone is anthologizing the Complete Epic Hits of country-pop crossover artist Jody Miller, best known for “Queen of the House,” her 1965 answer to Roger Miller’s  “King of the Road.” In 1970, Miller switched from Capitol to Epic Records where she teamed with famed producer Billy Sherrill.  A full 25 of their collaborations appear on this 69-minute compilation. You might recognize the Top 10 hits “He’s So Fine,” “There’s a Party Goin’ On,” “Darlin’ You Can Always Come Back Home” and “Good News.” Jody Miller has consulted on this release, and has supplied rare photographs for the booklet.

The favorite sisters of Park Ridge, New Jersey – The Roches! – next receive the Real Gone treatment.  Seductive Reasoning is the 1975 Columbia Records album by sisters Maggie and Terre Roche.  The first release from the Roche family, it was also the sisters’ only LP as a duo; Suzzy Roche joined shortly thereafter.  Seductive Reasoning features the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and, on one track, production and backing vocals from Paul Simon.  He was returning the Roches’ favor, as the sisters performed on his own Columbia LP There Goes Rhymin’ Simon!   On The Roches’ website, Suzzy writes of this lost classic, “This album was made through 1974-75. The songs are a result of the years before that. It is a perfect document of the time. But beyond that it is an expression that remains vital and relevant today. If you love music you will love this record. If you love poetry you will love this record. It has already done time in music business jail and now it is (re-)released — thank God. Enjoy — it’s a classic!”  Maggie Roche contributes notes and photos from her own archive.

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Written by Joe Marchese

November 21, 2011 at 09:52