Phyllis Hyman sure looked like a Goddess of Love on the cover of her 1983 album of the same name. Now, the striking and statuesque former fashion model’s fourth and final album for Arista Records is back. It’s just been reissued by Cherry Red’s SoulMusic imprint in an expanded edition that boasts two more tracks than Reel Music’s 2010 release.
In a quest to find Hyman a degree of commercial success commensurate with her great talent, Clive Davis paired her with different producers for each one of her Arista albums. 1979’s Somewhere in My Lifetime (itself recently reissued by SoulMusic) featured productions by Larry Alexander and Skip Scarborough, T. Life, and Barry Manilow and Ron Dante. You Know How to Love Me, from later the same year, was helmed by James Mtume and Reggie Lucas. 1981’s Can’t We Fall in Love Again was produced by Chuck Jackson and Norman Connors, individually and collectively. Finally, for Arista swansong Goddess of Love, Davis and Hyman turned to an obvious choice. That choice was Thom Bell, whose song “Betcha by Golly Wow” provided most people’s introduction to Hyman in 1976. She had gone on to record two more Bell songs on her eponymous solo debut for Buddah, and the two old friends collaborated on the soundtrack to The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh. As they began recording Goddess, Bell was riding high from the success of his co-productions with vocalist Deniece Williams. But his work would be supplemented, at Clive Davis’ behest, by three songs from Narada Michael Walden. Apparently, Davis hadn’t smelled a hit in the eight tracks produced by the Philly soul legend, only six of which made the final album cut.
Hit the jump for much more, including the track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »
The new CD/DVD set is entitled Woody Guthrie at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center, but in fact, Woody never made it past 55. This document of an altogether lively concert program from a wide assortment of admirers proves, however, that his music has not only lasted ‘til 100, but will likely survive us all. This is a celebration, yes, but a celebration with a conscience. A strong thread of morality and social awareness ran through all of Guthrie’s songs, as he believed music could make a difference in America. That same belief is shared by the performers who took the stage of Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center on October 14, 2012, including Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Donovan, Judy Collins, Tom Morello, John Mellencamp and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. That evening, they showcased the spectrum of Guthrie’s work from protest songs to children’s sing-alongs.
As produced by Woody’s daughter Nora Guthrie, Bob Santelli and Garth Ross, the concert is well-sequenced, beginning with the joyous barrage of nonsense lyrics in Old Crow Medicine Show’s bluegrass-style “Howdi Do.” The string band continues the jamboree with Guthrie’s rapid-fire story of a “Union Maid” who’s “stickin’ to the union ‘til the day I die,” and indeed, Guthrie’s commitment to the ideals of unionization recur throughout the program.
A major highlight is the mini-suite of songs thematically connected by imagery of the open road and the hobo, with contemporary folksinger Joel Rafael’s harmonica-accompanied “Ramblin’ Reckless Hobo” (for which he set Guthrie’s lyrics to his own music), Jimmy LaFave’s “Hard Travelin’,” Donovan’s “Riding in My Car” and Rosanne Cash’s “I Ain’t Got No Home.” Listening to Rafael, it’s hard not to hear a Bob Dylan influence, or more precisely, how Guthrie influenced Dylan and in turn, Rafael. Texas singer LaFave’s “Hard Travelin’” contrasts a jaunty melody with the story of a hard-working itinerant who brushes up against the law; “I Ain’t Got No Home” introduces a similar character with an even sadder tale. While “Hard Travelin’” utilizes awkward grammar (“I’ve been layin’ in a hard-rock jail, I thought you knowed”) and jolts of dry humor in its lyric (“Damned old judge, he said to me, ‘It’s 90 days for vagrancy”), “I Ain’t Got No Home” is all too touching and troubling. Cash, accompanied only by her own guitar and that of guitarist-vocalist-husband John Leventhal, gets to the root of the song in her low-key, empathetic vocal. She doesn’t overplay the despair but rather renders the character she embodies with a quiet resolve and dignity.
Donovan leads a sing-along on Guthrie’s children’s song “Riding in My Car,” which fits snugly among the other, more “adult” songs. It’s no mystery why: Guthrie wrote for adults in the same simple and lyrically unadorned style he wrote for children. Grown-ups will likewise want to sing along to the mandolin- and fiddle-adorned refrain of The Del McCoury Band and Tim O’Brien’s “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh.”
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-ZZ Top, “Brown Sugar”
I hate to play favorites, but from day one, I’ve been a fan of Legacy Recordings’ “complete albums” concept. The slick packaging of an artist’s classic albums in one package, with nicely-crafted mini jackets, replicated label art on disc and the always promising idea of bonus content is often too good to pass up. I’m probably not the typical target buyer – really, when am I ever – but as someone hungry to dive in with a beloved band, these boxes really do the trick.
I’ve often hoped to see other labels follow suit on the concept, and the newest catalogue project from Rhino, ZZ Top’s The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990 (Warner Bros. 8122-79664-2), is exactly what I’m getting at. This little set is the one to buy if you’re looking to cannonball into the Texas trio’s brand of Southern-smoked boogie.
ZZ Top are one of those bands that just know how to keep their fan base. The lineup of lead singer/guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard hasn’t changed in four decades – nor has their commitment to raw, good-time 12-bar blues. With Hill and Beard as a whip-cracking rhythm section, Gibbons allows his six-string skills to shine in a way that few other rock guitarists allow. He’s distinctive without laying it on too thick – just flashy enough to stay ahead of the pack. From rockin’ singles like “La Grange,” “Tush” and “Sharp Dressed Man” to lesser-known cuts like the ballads “Sure Got Cold After the Rain Fell” or “I Need You Tonight,” Gibbons – and, by extension, ZZ Top – are a master of their craft.
Keep reading about the “little ol’ band from Texas” after the jump, and find out what else we like about the box, too!
When 1965’s “Make the World Go Away” entered the Pop Top 10, it was unusual, even for those heady days of pop diversity. The singer, Eddy Arnold, had first signed to RCA Victor in 1943. The Musicians’ Union’s strike prohibited the young vocalist from recording until it was settled in December, 1944, but when Arnold finally entered WSM’s radio studios to record four songs, he was making history. His session was the first for a major label to be held in Nashville, Tennessee. His star was soon on the ascendant. 1946’s honky-tonkin’, fiddle-adorned “What is Life Without Love” was but his first No. 1 on the Billboard country chart. In the period of 1947-1948, Arnold held the top spot for 60 consecutive weeks (!) and in 1947-1949, he remained there for 79 out of 112 weeks (!!). In all, it wasn’t a bad career for the sharecropper’s son from Tennessee. Despite this great success, it hasn’t been an easy task tracking down Arnold’s original RCA recordings, as he revisited his classic catalogue later in his career for re-recordings – frequently with overdubbed strings and additional instrumentation. Real Gone Music has remedied the situation with Complete Original No. 1 Hits (RGM-0081), containing all 28 of Arnold’s original Country chart-toppers out of 147 chart hits.
The Tennessee Plowboy was the first country star to have his own television program and led the charge to make country mainstream; 37 hits in all also made the pop chart. The earliest recordings on this compilation reveal a smooth, direct and often romantic tenor voice, which by the 1960s had transformed into a burnished baritone. Young Elvis Presley cited Arnold as an influence, and in another connection, “Colonel” Tom Parker was Arnold’s manager until 1953.
Though heartbreak naturally plays a role in many of the songs on Complete Original No. 1 Hits, Arnold’s genial presence was indebted to the tradition of singing cowboys like Gene Autry. He also was a disciple of Bing Crosby, and one can hear Crosby’s easygoing charm, and intimacy, in Arnold’s recordings. (Crosby recorded his share of country-style songs, too!) Some compared Arnold to Perry Como, and both singers indeed boasted a similarly laconic delivery. The compilation covers the period of 1946-1968, but 1955-1965 was a fallow period for Arnold, with no songs reaching the coveted top spot.
The very first song here, “What is Life Without Love,” is one of eight tracks co-written by Arnold, who was no slouch in the songwriting department. But he also had good taste in recording the songs of others. Bob Hilliard, who also collaborated with Burt Bacharach and co-wrote the score to Walt Disney’s Peter Pan, wrote lyrics to Steve Nelson’s melody for “Bouquet of Roses,” one of the many Arnold songs with a marked pop leaning. “A Heart Full of Love (For a Handful of Kisses),” by Nelson, Ray Soehnel and Arnold, is another one of the many pure pop lyrics here. Much of the country comes from the arrangements, usually adorned with fiddle and the distinctive steel guitar of “Little” Roy Wiggins. There’s a yodel in Arnold’s voice on songs like “One Kiss Too Many” and Cindy Walker’s “Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me,” again playing the role of the heartsick, lovelorn hero. The Ed Nelson/Steve Nelson/Arnold songwriting partnership yielded the even more maudlin “I’m Throwing Rice (At the Girl I Love)” (“After she just said ‘I do’”).
Hit the jump for more on Arnold, plus David Allan Coe’s Texas Moon! Read the rest of this entry »
Patty Duke, Don’t Just Stand There/Patty / Sings Songs from Valley of the Dolls/Sings Folk Songs (Time to Move On) (Real Gone Music)
All four of Patty’s United Artists albums released on a pair of two-fers, including 1968′s unreleased Sings Folk Songs.
A bunch of Supremes classics – six albums from 1966′s The Supremes A Go-Go to 1969′s Cream of the Crop, their last with Diana Ross – all get the mini-LP treatment from Culture Factory.
Culture Factory also brings Miss Ross’ long out-of-print concert disc back to CD, along with a new, mini-LP edition of the Ashford and Simpson-helmed favorite The Boss.
Julia Fordham, Porcelain / Swept: Deluxe Editions (Cherry Pop)
The second and third LPs by U.K. singer Julia Fordham are expanded and remastered for the first time.
The soundtrack to the anticipated new documentary about the best backup singers you might not have known, from Darlene Love to Merry Clayton. (Legacy’s releasing Clayton’s first-ever best-of compilation next month.) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Various Artists, Woody Guthrie at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center (Legacy)
Not sure if this concert kills fascists, but this CD/DVD tribute to a folk legend, featuring John Mellencamp, Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash and more is a fitting way to honor one of the century’s best songwriters. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
If you thought Edsel’s box set edition of T. Rex’s The Slider (or UMC’s super-deluxe Electric Warrior) was as big as it could get for the glam rock legends, it might be time to rethink things: SpinCDs reports a six-disc box set encapsulating all of Marc Bolan’s performances for the BBC – including both tracks by T. Rex and John’s Children – will be released in the U.K. this fall.
Marc Bolan At The BBC is hardly the first compilation to collect these live-in-studio recordings – 2006′s out-of-print triple-disc Bolan At The Beeb was the latest - but it considerably ups the ante by including every known surviving recording Bolan did for the BBC. (It was long the BBC’s policy to erase tapes after use, unwittingly rarefying moments of rock history like these.) This includes not only all of the officially-released recordings (including a full two discs of album tracks specifically remixed for the BBC), but a heap of alternate sources, including BBC transcription discs and reel-to-reel recordings. The variety of sources may not make for a consistent listening experience, but this set should hopefully present these recordings in the best possible way.
All of it was compiled by producer/unabashed fan Clive Zone, over a period of six years. Zone’s efforts have allowed for much to be presented anew, including a rare 1968 set from Bolan’s first psychedelic group John’s Children and early John Peel sessions for the band first known as Tyrannosaurus Rex. The box will also feature a new essay by Mark Payress, the author of the Bolan bio Bolan: The Rise and Fall of a 20th Century Superstar); all tracks are remastered by Keiron McGarry at Universal Mastering Studios London to their best possible fidelity.
The box is expected out on August 26. A tentative Amazon U.K. link is here; in the meantime, the full track list is after the jump.
There’s even more film soundtrack news coming your way today, thanks to Kritzerland’s latest announcement! The label will release a special two-for-one CD combining the scores to two vintage adventure films starring Charlton Heston: 1955’s Lewis and Clark drama The Far Horizons and 1954’s exotic Secret of the Incas, the latter of which is frequently cited as a direct inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. This 1,000-unit limited edition is set for release by the first week of August, though pre-orders from the label usually arrive an average of four weeks earlier.
The Far Horizons, with Heston as Lt. William Clark and Fred MacMurray as Capt. Meriwether Lewis, featured an original score by Hans J. Salter (1896-1994). Though not well-known today, Salter composed music for some of the most beloved horror films of all time including The Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. He was equally comfortable in other genres, also scoring comedies like Come September and Bedtime Story (the inspiration for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) as well as Fritz Lang’s film noir Scarlet Street. Director Rudolph Mate’s film was shot in Technicolor and in Paramount’s widescreen VistaVision process, and Salter provided a score to match the lush visuals. Kritzerland describes his music as “a majestic beauty, with a wonderful main theme that gets plenty of variations, along with some great dramatic scoring.” The new CD includes all of the surviving cues (most of the score as heard in the film) in mono sound.
After the jump, we discover the Secret of the Incas, and we have a track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »