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Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely: SoulMusic Reissues, Expands Ronnie Dyson’s Debut

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DysonSoulMusic Records has certainly shown a lot of love for Ronnie Dyson (1950-1990) this year. Following its U.S. release in conjunction with Real Gone Music of the late soul man’s two final albums for Cotillion Records, the label is turning back the clock to Dyson’s very first recordings for Columbia Records. Lady In Red: The Columbia Sides Plus, from SoulMusic and the U.K.’s Cherry Red Group, is in actuality an expanded edition of Dyson’s 1970 debut album (If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You? This 23-track anthology collects that LP’s eleven tracks on CD for the first time, and adds twelve bonuses (many never before on CD) drawn from a selection of Dyson’s single releases issued between 1969 and 1974.

Dyson’s name first became familiar as a member of the Broadway cast of Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni and James Rado’s groundbreaking Broadway musical Hair. Appropriately, SoulMusic kicks off Lady in Red with the single version of “Aquarius” from the RCA cast recording of Hair. The 18-year old Washington, DC native introduced “Aquarius” in the musical, the song which would later go to the top of the charts for The 5th Dimension in a medley with another highlight of the score, “Let the Sunshine In.” Dyson’s distinctive tenor complemented the gospel fervor in his beyond-his-years voice, a quality which surely brought him to the attention of Columbia Records, then under the auspices of Clive Davis. Columbia signed Dyson, assigning him to producer Billy Jackson (The Tymes). His first single with the label – “God Bless the Children” b/w “Are We Ready for Love” – arrived in 1969; both sides are included here. Jackson also helmed the full Why Can’t I Touch You LP, named for a song from Dyson’s second theatre triumph, Salvation. Though the rock musical by Peter Link and C.C. Courtney only lasted 239 performances off-Broadway, it was another stepping stone for Dyson. Though the cast recording was on rival Capitol Records, Dyson recorded his showstopping “(If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You?” as a single on Columbia. It scored him a Top 10 hit on both the Pop and R&B charts.

In addition to the Salvation tune – later recorded by artists as diverse as Johnny Mathis and Billy Paul – Dyson’s debut LP contained familiar covers rendered in pop-soul style overseen by Jackson and arranger-conductor Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner. Dyson brought his smooth but passionate sound to songs associated with B.J. Thomas (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “I Just Can’t Help Believin’”), Freda Payne (a rare male spin on “Band of Gold”), Laura Nyro (“Emmie”), Peggy Lee (“Fever”), Bread (David Gates’ “Make It with You”) and Simon and Garfunkel (the newly-minted Columbia hit “Bridge Over Troubled Water”). Another album track, Chuck Jackson’s “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” was selected as the follow-up to “Why Can’t I Touch You?” and also went Top 10 R&B. For the B-side of “Touch You,” Columbia picked an arrangement by a man who would figure prominently in Dyson’s later career: the on-the-rise Thom Bell. Billed as “Tommy Bell,” he arranged another male version of a song written for a female: the dramatic “Girl Don’t Come,” written by Chris Andrews for British pop starlet Sandie Shaw. Bell likely recognized the potential of Dyson as a male answer to Dionne Warwick, with a similar cool yet versatile quality to his voice. Bell’s work can also be heard on the frenetically funky version of “Fever.” Dyson’s debut LP may have been too stylistically eclectic – from MOR to spirited R&B with a dash of musical theatre panache – to attract a major audience. His next long-player would be somewhat more consistent.

But first, Columbia brought in producer Stan Vincent (The Five Stairsteps) to record a number of tracks. Five Vincent productions circa 1971-1972 are heard on Lady in Red: Dyson’s R&B hit version of Barry Mann’s oft-recorded “When You Get Right Down to It” and its B-side, Vincent’s own “Sleeping Sun;” Tony Davillo’s hard-driving “Abelene” (B-side of “A Wednesday in Your Garden,” not included here but available on the One Man Band album), and both sides of “Jesus Is Just Alright” b/w Dyson original “Love is Slipping Away.”

We have more after the jump, including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 6, 2015 at 11:34

Posted in News, Reissues, Ronnie Dyson

Release Round-Up: Week of January 6

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Jackie Moore - Complete

Jackie Moore, The Complete Atlantic Recordings (2-CD Release) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain: Original Soundtrack Gatefold Double-LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) or CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) or CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Real Gone Music kicks off the new year right with a slate filled with vintage R&B, classic rock and beyond including The Complete Atlantic Recordings of soul songstress Jackie Moore (“Sweet Charlie Babe”), two haunting soundtracks from the films of cinema auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky…

Main Ingredient - LTD and Black Seeds

The Main Ingredient, L.T.D./Black Seeds (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) /Redd Foxx, You Gotta Wash Your Ass (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 13—Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY 5/6/81 (3-CD Set) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

…a pair of albums from The Main Ingredient, the bitingly blue comedy of Redd Foxx, and an acclaimed set from Grateful Dead circa 1981!

Aretha - Storm

Aretha Franklin, Through the Storm: Expanded Edition (Funky Town Grooves) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

FTG’s 2-CD expansion of Aretha Franklin’s 1989 Arista album (featuring guests James Brown, The Four Tops, Kenny G, Whitney Houston and Elton John!) – with 18 bonus tracks! – arrives in the U.S. after a brief delay.

Real Elvis

Elvis Presley, The Real Elvis Presley: 60s Collection / Billy Ocean, The Real Billy Ocean / Perez Prado, The Real Perez Prado (Sony U.K.)

Elvis: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Billy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Perez: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Sony’s U.K. arm continues its series of budget-priced 3-CD compilations with entries for Elvis’ ’60s catalogue plus Billy Ocean and Perez Prado.

Written by Joe Marchese

January 6, 2015 at 09:04

Closing Time: Morello Reissues Lacy J. Dalton’s Final Two Columbia Albums

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LacyContinuing its reissue series drawn from her catalogue, Cherry Red’s Morello Records has recently released a twofer collecting Lacy J. Dalton’s Highway Diner and Blue Eyed Blues.  Dalton’s tenure at Columbia spanned eight albums and two greatest hits compilation between 1980 and 1987.  Morello has previously collected Dalton’s middle period at the label with twofer of Takin’ It Easy and 16th Avenue (Morello Records CD MRLL33).  This release closes out her time at the label with her final two albums under the Columbia banner.

Lacy J. Dalton was born as Jill Byrem in 1948 in Pennsylvania.   Following her musical muse, she eventually ended up in San Francisco in the latter part of the 1960s performing psychedelic rock with a band known as Office.  She married the band’s manager, becoming Jill Croston, but he sadly died in an accident.  Deciding to reinvent herself as a country singer, Croston adopted the name Lacy J. Dalton.  Her demo was heard by Billy Sherrill, the influential country producer who had worked with George Jones and Tammy Wynette.  He liked what he heard and Dalton was signed to Columbia Records in 1979.

Dalton’s first single was “Crazy Blue Eyes” which hit No. 17 on the U.S. Country charts.  The song was included on her eponymous debut which also featured two additional Top 20 Country hits:  “The Tennessee Waltz” and “Losing Kind of Love.”  Adding to her strong start at Columbia, she was also named “Best New Female Vocalist” at the 1979 Country Music Association Awards.  Dalton hit the country Top 10 for the first time with the No. 7 placing title track off of Hard Times from 1980 and achieved her highest charting Country single at No. 2 with 1982’s “Takin’ It Easy” off the album of the same name.

By the time of 1986’s Highway Diner, Dalton had decided to go back to her roots and add more rock and R&B to her music, similar to Bonnie Raitt.  The album was produced by Walt Aldridge (writer of Ronnie Milsap’s “(There’s) No Getting Over Me” and Earl Thomas Conley’s “Holding Her and Loving You”) and recoded at the venerable Fame Recording Studio in Alabama.   “Working Class Man” and “This Ol’ Town” were released as singles and peaked at No. 16 and No. 33 on the Country charts.  The album itself got to No. 32 on the Country LP charts.

Dalton’s last album for Columbia was 1987’s Blue Eyed Blues.  Following a pattern for many end-of- contract affairs, the album mixed new tracks with previously released material.  The new material consisted of the two songs “Have I Got a Heart For You” and “I’ll Love Them Whatever They Are.”  Four tracks were included from her previous albums (“Blue Eyed Blues,” Hillbilly Girl With the Blues,” “16th Avenue” and “My Old Yellow Car”). Duets with Bobby Bare, George Jones, David Allan Coe and Earl Scruggs rounded out the LP.  These songs had originally appeared on albums and singles by the duet partners.

Continue Lacy’s story after the jump!  Plus: the track listing with discography and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 5, 2015 at 14:42

Let’s Pretend: Edsel Unveils Deluxe Multi-Disc Reissues For Pretenders’ Catalogue

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PretendersEdsel isn’t just playing pretend.  On February 16, 2015, the Demon Music Group label will reissue all eight albums from The Pretenders as originally released by the Warner Bros. family of labels between 1979 and 1999 as deluxe editions.  (Or: that’s to say 8/10, or 4/5, of the entire Pretenders discography!  Only two albums have arrived since 1999, in 2002 and 2008.)  Every one of the eight titles is housed in a digipak, with six of the titles as 2-CD/1-DVD sets and two as 1-CD/1-DVD sets.

These “everything but the kitchen sink” reissues will bring together B-sides, live tracks, soundtrack one-off recordings (for films including The Living Daylights, Fever Pitch, G.I. Jane, Indecent Proposal and Boys on the Side), demos, promotional videos and BBC-TV appearances (most of which have never been commercially released) for the English-American band founded in 1978 by Chrissie Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon and Martin Chambers.  The DVDs feature 30 rare BBC performances, 21 promo videos and the complete 18-track Isle of View concert. The material first issued on Rhino’s expanded reissues of the group’s first four albums has been included, as have rare tracks from the Pirate Radio box set.  The Pretenders made their first splash in February 1979 with their debut single, a cover of Ray Davies’ “Stop Your Sobbing” produced by Nick Lowe. By the time their Chris Thomas-helmed debut LP arrived in January 1980, the band’s third single “Brass in Pocket” was on its way to No. 1 in the United Kingdom.  The album would reach that plateau as well.  (It reached the Top 15 of the U.S. Pop chart, and the album made the Top 10.)

After the jump, we have more details including the complete track listings for all eight multi-disc sets and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 5, 2015 at 11:09

The Year In Reissues: The 2014 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWelcome to The Second Disc’s Fifth Annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

As with every year’s awards, our goals are simple: to recognize as many of the year’s most essential reissues and catalogue titles as possible, and to celebrate as many of those labels, producers and artists who make these releases happen in an increasingly-challenging retail landscape.  The labels you’ll read about below have, by and large, bucked the trends to prove that there’s still a demand for physical catalogue music that you can purchase in brick-and-mortar stores.  And from our vantage point, there’s still great strength and health in our corner of the music industry.  By my estimate, The Second Disc covered roughly 500 compact disc releases in 2014 – and we have no reason to believe that number will decrease in the year ahead.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to the creators of the music and releases we cover, to the dedicated retailers who continue to support catalogue titles, and most importantly, to you, our readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past – this site’s raison d’etre – alive and well.

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Holidays From The Second Disc

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Christmas TreeIt’s that time of the year again.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…not even The Second Disc.  This Christmas Eve, we hope you’ll be heading home for the holidays, spending time with family and friends, enjoying a bounty of food and love, and reflecting on the good times you shared in 2014.

This was a very special year for us, especially when it came to the holiday season.  I had the great pleasure of revisiting favorite Christmas recordings of the past for Real Gone Music, as I compiled and annotated Robert Goulet’s Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings and wrote the liner notes for the label’s reissue of (Andy Williams and) The Williams Brothers Christmas Album.  Mike made magic under the Christmas tree as co-producer of one of this year’s most coveted gifts, Legacy Recordings’ ultra-cool Ghostbusters: Stay Puft Edition super deluxe vinyl set. We couldn’t have brought these projects to life without you, our readers.  We’re grateful to all of you for your support, day in and day out.

We’ll be back on a regular posting schedule in the first full week of the New Year with even more news, reviews and special features just for you!  And with The Second Disc’s fifth birthday coming up in January, we’re on the cusp of sharing with you our biggest and most exciting news yet.  Trust us – we have some major plans ahead to make 2015 our best year yet.

In the meantime, Mike and I would like to wish you and yours a merry and music-filled holiday and a very Happy New Year!  Cheers!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 24, 2014 at 12:46

Posted in News

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Captain Beefheart, “SUN ZOOM SPARK 1970 to 1972”

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Beefheart - Sun Zoom Spark“Art is rearranging and grouping mistakes.” So the late Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart, is quoted on the cover of the fourth disc of Rhino’s new box set SUN ZOOM SPARK: 1970 to 1972. It’s appropriate and ironic that the aphorism is featured on the sleeve of that disc, a collection of never-before-heard outtakes from the Captain and his Magic Band. But the tracks are far from mistakes; instead, they offer a window onto the process with which Van Vliet created his unmistakable brand of art. In addition to that disc, SUN ZOOM SPARK presents long-overdue, beautifully-remastered versions of Beefheart’s three albums released during the titular time period: Lick My Decals Off, Baby; The Spotlight Kid; and Clear Spot. The resulting compendium is a must-have for diehard Magic fans, and a surprisingly solid introduction for the more casual fan looking for a solid place to explore Van Vliet’s discography beyond the twin cornerstones of Safe as Milk and Trout Mask Replica.

1969’s Trout Mask, produced by Van Vliet’s lifelong frenemy and collaborator Frank Zappa, solidified his credentials as a true avant-garde pioneer with its highly experimental, frequently surreal blend of blues, free jazz, folk, rock and roll, and every other style that he could throw into a blender in pursuit of something new and something real. With Beefheart himself producing, Lick My Decals Off, Baby, recorded for Zappa’s Warner Bros.-distributed Straight label in summer 1970, continued in the avant-garde style of Trout Mask. It recalls elements of Ornette Coleman (reportedly a Beefheart inspiration), Tom Waits and of course, Zappa, but is too original to withstand many comparisons at all. Like Trout Mask, Decals was an unabashedly countercultural statement, but not in the traditional sense circa 1970. In fact, there’s nothing “traditional” at all about the record, which accounts for its out-of-time quality and ability to still confound and fascinate in equal measure. Van Vliet was unencumbered at this point by conventional notions of songcraft and determined to do it “his way,” and also managed to achieve a homemade sound despite recording the album for a major label in a major studio (Los Angeles’ United).

Regarded as one of the good Captain’s personal favorites of his recordings, the title of Decals reportedly referred to his desire to see objects for their merits rather than according to labels (or “decals”) placed upon them. For this LP featuring both instrumental and vocal tracks (most of which are quite short, with only two tracks exceeding three minutes), Beefheart – whose personal musical arsenal included clarinet, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone and chromatic harmonica – was joined by the Magic Band line-up of Bill Harkleroad on guitar, Mark Boston on bass, Art Tripp on percussion (including marimba, which adds vibrant color throughout), and John French on drums – all of whom utilized their considerable musical skills in service of Beefheart’s vision. The liner notes to this set fascinatingly detail Beefheart’s modus operandi. Onetime Magic Band member Bruce Fowler observes that “I knew too much [about music]. I was trapped in my practice. He’d pick up a sax and start wailing, and he could not play a scale or anything, so he’d just paint with the soprano.” The resulting music from Beefheart and his Magic Band often sounded improvised, but was in actuality, carefully planned and rehearsed. Though Beefheart wasn’t the trained musician Zappa was, they both pushed the boundaries of their art.

Decals shares with Trout Mask Replica a sense that the artist has rendered his vision with no compromise; its aural assault – of jagged rhythms, stuttering guitars, surreal, word-association lyrics (sometimes with an ecological bent, however hidden), growled, near-spoken vocals and clattering soundscapes – still jars today.  Some moments are more accessible here than others, if “accessible” is the right word, such as the happily goofy “I Love You, You Big Dummy” or the bizarrely catchy “Woe-is-uh-Me-Bop” and “The Smithsonian Institute Blues (or the Big Dig).” Those familiar with free jazz will likely be riveted by “Japan in a Dishpan,” or by the solo guitar piece “One Red Rose That I Mean” dazzlingly played by Harkleroad. “The Buggy Boogie Woogie” has one of Beefheart’s most vivid vocals, more like a beat-era monologue than a song with lyrics. There’s a peculiar, childlike quality to “The Clouds Are Full of Wine (Not Whiskey or Rye).” Lick My Decals Off, with its lack of conventional melodies, was – and is – doubtless a challenging record, but it set the stage for The Spotlight Kid.

Recorded at Los Angeles’ Record Plant during the summer of 1971 and issued in early 1972 on Reprise with a self-mocking cover of Van Vliet in a Nudie suit, The Spotlight Kid is the only album credited solely to Captain Beefheart rather than as a collaboration with his Magic Band. It features Harkleroad, Boston, French and Tripp, plus Elliot Ingber on guitar and drummer Rhys Clark (on one track). Produced again by Van Vliet, this time in collaboration with engineer Phil Schier, the album features slower, simpler and more fluid compositions, as Beefheart was in pursuit of a (slightly) more commercial sound. (He was “aware of the need to, um, eat,” quips Rip Rense in the SUN ZOOM SPARK liner notes.) He largely achieved it, as The Spotlight Kid isn’t as in-your-face or confrontational as Lick My Decals.

Hit the jump for much more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 24, 2014 at 11:02

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Wilco, “What’s Your 20? Essential Tracks 1994-2014”

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Wilco - What's Your 20We’d like to welcome back Ted Frank for today’s Holiday Gift Guide review! Ted is taking a look at the new two-CD anthology What’s Your 20?  Essential Tracks 1994-2014 from alt-rock greats Wilco. (Since 2004, the line-up has consisted of vocalist/guitarist Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen and drummer Glenn Kotche.) This first-ever retrospective of the Grammy Award-winning band has been produced for the Nonesuch label by Cheryl Pawelski of Omnivore Recordings – a current Grammy nominee this year for Hank Williams’ The Garden Spot Programs 1950 – with the participation of Tweedy and the band, and has been freshly remastered by Bob Ludwig and beautifully designed by Omnivore’s Greg Allen in a digipak. See here for more information on the companion piece to What’s Your 20?: the exquisite 4-CD rarities collection, Alpha Mike Foxtrot! Now, without further ado…

2014 could easily be considered the year of Jeff Tweedy.

It has been an impressive year for the man who started out in the alt-country band Uncle Tupelo (whose milestone album No Depression was reissued this year). Tweedy and his band Wilco released two career-spanning collections on the same day this past November and Tweedy even played alongside his 18-year-old son Spencer on this fall’s release Sukierae (not to mention having songs featured in two critically acclaimed films, Boyhood and St. Vincent). With these kinds of credentials, it would appear that Tweedy should be a cultural icon. Yet, why is it that when Jeff Tweedy sings, “I am so out of tune with you” on Wilco’s stunning track, “Sunken Treasure” from the breakthrough 1996 album Being There, it rings so true in terms of his and Wilco’s public profile?

As Wilco has never had a Hot 100 radio hit, what is the modus operandi when it comes to compiling a 20-year retrospective of the band – especially when the band on hand might just be content to self-reflexively refer to itself as being “out of tune” with its times? The answer comes in the new 2-CD collection from Nonesuch Records, What’s Your 20?   This year marks 20 years since Wilco originally came together as a band; hence, the album title. Being a coyly titled collection of 38 “essential tracks,” this newly-remastered set poses the question: What makes something essential? The album’s producer Cheryl Pawelski – aided by Jeff Tweedy, Tony Margherita, and Deb Bernardini – doesn’t actually limit the album to 20 songs, “settling” instead for a generous 38! Again, this is not a collection of chart toppers, nor is it the self-addressed love letter that tends to plague bands with those albatross hit singles. Rather, it is the soundtrack of a band working to bring the varied elements of their distinct sound together. To somewhat define this kind of collection, it is not your typical greatest hits collection. It is an album that reconsiders Wilco’s past only to chart out its future.

Despite lacking pop chart success, the songs selected here are timeless, taking in influences as varied as Woody Guthrie to the Beach Boys to Radiohead. To get an idea of how Wilco has evolved from alt-country to pop, just listen to the transition on Disc 1 from the country rocker “Casino Queen” (Track 4, from 1995’s A.M.) to the plaintive swells of “Misunderstood” (Track 5, from 1996’s Being There). A significant leap in style is evident here within the slide of a single track. It’s a progression comparable to that of Radiohead’s Pablo Honey into The Bends.

The anthology’s expansiveness suggests a bliss found in a wealth of riches. As it chronologically propels from Wilco’s first album A.M. to their 2011 release Whole Love, this anthology may be a good starting point album for the newly initiated, but it’s actually much more than a mere introduction. (And if 38 songs on two CDs is too major a commitment for you, how about starting with the timeless Summerteeth and then diving into this set next?  You’ll be hooked.)  Equivalent to a “selected poetry” collection rather than a “collected works,” the compilation demonstrates an artistry of omission and rearrangement; there is intentionality by Pawelski and her collaborators in the placement and selection of songs. On average, there are three-to-four songs from each album represented, with two highlights from The Mermaid Sessions, California Stars and Airline To Heaven, the latter of which (reminiscent of Mark Lang’s brilliant guitar playing on his 1976 song, Strawberry Man) is hard to believe was once a Woody Guthrie original lyric since it has been transformed into such a rocker.   With such a collection, there is not necessarily an expectation in terms of song selections (since, again, these are not hit singles in the traditional sense of the term), freeing the compilers to explore various avenues. What’s Your 20? is not intended to be a greatest hits album; instead, it rollickingly unfolds into a focused listening experience by a band that defies labels.

Hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 23, 2014 at 10:50

Release Round-Up: Weeks of December 23 and December 30

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Well, these are incredibly light weeks for new releases!  Thankfully, the Kritzerland and Audio Fidelity labels have stepped up with a quartet of titles to close out 2014 on a high note!

Classical Broadway

Cy Coleman, John Kander, Harvey Schmidt and Charles Strouse, Classical Broadway (Kritzerland) (available for pre-order now)

Kritzerland remasters this 1992 album (originally released on the Bay Cities label) featuring classical compositions from four of Broadway’s most legendary composers including Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, Barnum), John Kander (Cabaret, Chicago), Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks, 110 in the Shade) and Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie).  Though these pieces are for the concert hall and not for the musical stage, they still brim with the melody and flair of the composers’ theatre work.  This title will ship by the second week of February, but pre-orders placed directly through the label typically arrive an average of four weeks early.

Breaking Away

Patrick Williams, Breaking Away: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Kritzerland) (available for pre-order now)

Here’s the world premiere soundtrack release of Patrick Williams’ score (as conducted by the great Lionel Newman) for the beloved 1979 coming-of-age drama.  This deluxe release features Williams’ original cues, classical adaptations, as well as material cut from the finished film.  This title will ship by the second week of February, but pre-orders placed directly through the label typically arrive an average of four weeks early.

Guess Who SACD

The Guess Who, The Best of The Guess Who (Audio Fidelity) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (12/30)

Audio Fidelity premieres the 4.0 quadraphonic surround mix of The Guess Who’s 1971 compilation album on hybrid SACD (meaning a stereo layer is playable on standard CD players) – featuring such songs as “These Eyes,” “Laughing,” “No Time,” “Undun” and “American Woman.”  And that’s not the only quad classic coming to CD…

BS&T Quad

Blood, Sweat & Tears, Blood, Sweat & Tears (Audio Fidelity) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (12/30)

Following its 5.1 presentation of BS&T’s Al Kooper-helmed debut album, Audio Fidelity revisits the kickoff of the horn band’s David Clayton-Thomas era!  This original 4.0 quad mix of the 1969 smash features “Spinning Wheel,” “And When I Die” and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” all in vivid multichannel on hybrid SACD.

And lastly, we’d like to spread a little holiday cheer courtesy of one of our readers…

CD600G_out

The Man Who Saved Christmas: The Original Studio Cast Recording (Take the Cakeable Records) (Amazon U.S.) (available now)

This isn’t a reissue, but what it is, is a charming and unabashedly old-fashioned musical comedy as recorded by a cast of 34 singers and a 14-piece orchestra.  Ron Lytle’s bright musical is inspired by the life story of A.C. Gilbert.  The inventor of the erector set, Gilbert was dubbed “the man who saved Christmas” for his crusade against a proposed ban on toy sales during one pivotal holiday season!  The Studio Cast Recording of this charming show is available now at Amazon, and more information on the show can be found at its website.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 23, 2014 at 08:28

Croydon Municipal, Saint Etienne Enter Christmas Land With “Songs For a London Winter”

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Songs for a London WinterAs Bob Stanley writes in his liner notes to the new collection Songs for a London Winter, “Christmas has always been a special time in Saint Etienne’s world. We’ve release singles, EPs, covered Cliff Richard songs, played at the Palladium, thrown a few parties and sunk a few whisky macs. We love it. But this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to put together a Christmas compilation of other people’s songs.” Songs for a London Winter, on Stanley’s Croydon Municipal imprint of Cherry Red, features 24 recordings drawn from the 1950s and early 1960s. Every track is of British origin. “An American Christmas feels warm, with a golden brandy glow,” Stanley explains. “What do we have? Scrooge. Well, that’s a little harsh, but there’s certainly something more make-do-and-mend about a London Christmas.” On Songs for a London Winter, you’ll find jazz, rock and roll, instrumental pop, and novelty songs, and most excitingly, very few of these songs constitute typical fare for holiday compilations.

There are plenty of mood-setting instrumentals here, particularly from pianists. The “singalong piano” of Zack Laurence propels a jaunty (and punningly-titled) “Snowman’s Land,” while Joe “Mr. Piano” Henderson offers his own “Swingin’ Sleigh Ride.” Not to be outdone, Tony Osborne, His Piano and Orchestra bask in some “Winter Starlight” and Russ Conway drives a shimmering “Snow Coach.”

The “Heavenly Trumpet” of Kenny Baker conjures up “Winter Ice.” Bandleader Johnny Keating’s “We Three Kings” is a raucously uptempo instrumental take on the traditional song. Saxophonist Johnny Dankworth is heard on the smoky yet seasonal “Winter Wail,” while his wife Cleo Laine is also represented with her jazz-flavored vocal on the Shakespeare adaptation, “Blow Blou Thou Winter Wind.” The familiar lead guitar of Vic Flick enlivens “Get Lost Jack Frost,” a “When the Saints Go Marching In”-inspired melody from soon-to-be-film legend John Barry and his Seven.  The Ted Heath orchestra’s “Swinging Shepherd Blues” – first recorded in the U.S. by its composer Moe Koffman on flute – recasts the tune for soprano sax and clarinet to fine effect.

The vocal tracks, encompassing both straightforward pop tunes and novelty records, are equally enjoyable. Brother and sister duo Derek and Elaine (Thompson)’s sweet “It’s Christmas” and Lyn Cornell’s “Xmas Stocking” both bask in the nostalgic glow of a simpler time; The Beverley Sisters attain an ethereal sound on “Little Donkey.” Rock-and-rollers got into the holiday spirit, too. Adam Faith has the novelty-esque “Lonely Pup” (complete with children’s choir) while Billy Fury channels Elvis crossed with Gene Pitney on the melodramatic “My Christmas Prayer.” Composer-lyricist and Rolling Stones pal Lionel Bart went from rock and roll to Broadway with musicals including the international smash hit Oliver!; Songs from a London Winter features his charming and bouncy “Give Us a Kiss for Christmas.” Broadcaster, songwriter and musician Wally Whyton’s “Christmas Land” is another slice of low-key, enjoyable period pop.

There’s more after the jump, including the complete track listing with discography, and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 22, 2014 at 11:20