As part of the breakup of EMI that left most – but not all – of the former monolith controlled by Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group acquired the venerable Parlophone label, founded in 1896 and onetime home to The Beatles. Though Universal kept the Fab Four, Warner obtained current artists like Coldplay and the back catalogues of classic ones like The Hollies and Matt Monro…and a certain David Bowie. Parlophone hasn’t announced any major plans for Bowie’s albums as of yet; in-print titles such as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars were simply repressed with the new label logo (replacing that of EMI label Virgin Records, now controlled by Universal). Parlophone has also offered a number of Record Store Day vinyl exclusives bearing the Bowie imprimatur. On September 23, the label has a repackaged version of the artist’s out-of-print, 4-CD Sound + Vision anthology returning to stores.
Named for the track on Bowie’s album Low, Sound + Vision was first issued in 1989 by Rykodisc. That independent label, now also controlled by Warner, had just gained the rights to the Bowie-controlled masters of his pre-1983 albums formerly available on RCA. Housed in an LP-sized box, the original Sound + Vision boasted three CDs (or six LPs or three cassettes) spanning the period between Bowie’s second, self-titled album in 1969 and 1980’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). It blended familiar songs and rare or previously unissued alternate versions of familiar songs with rarities, and also included a CD-Video disc with three previously unreleased recordings and the video of “Ashes to Ashes.” This impressive set won a Grammy Award for Best Album Package and racked up staggering sales for an expensive box set, eventually being certified Gold in the U.S. (and entering the Top 100 of the Billboard 200), Platinum in the U.K., and 4x Platinum (!) in Canada.
Rykodisc reissued Sound + Vision in 1995, streamlining the packaging and replacing the disc in the defunct CD-V format with a standard CD-ROM. The next iteration of the set came in 2003, by which time Bowie had moved his catalogue from Rykodisc to EMI’s Virgin Records label. This version of Sound + Vision dropped the “Vision” (the CD-V/CD-ROM!), added a fourth CD to cover the period of 1982-1997, and moreover, tweaked the original track listing. Though the original’s 50 tracks (including the bonus video disc) had grown to 67, four of the original tracks were replaced with alternate versions of the same songs (“The Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud,” “London Bye Ta-Ta,” “Round and Round” and “Fascination”) and all four performances from the CD-V were dispensed with entirely.
What can you expect on the new version? Hit the jump for details including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »
The Posies, Failure (Omnivore)
Omnivore expands the 1988 debut album from power-pop heroes The Posies. The new Failure restores the album’s original 12-track running order (preserved on cassette but cut down by one song on vinyl) and adds eight bonus tracks. Many of these are sourced from a long out-of-print 2000 box set and a 2004 reissue of the album proper, but one, a demo of “At Least for Now,” is being heard for the first time on this disc. The deluxe configuration is available on CD, and the original 12-track album on vinyl plus the bonus tracks on a download card. Even better, the first pressing of the LP will be green vinyl!
Fuel continues to raid the catalogues of Allen Toussaint’s Sansu and Dessu labels with a compilation of Toussaint-helmed sides for New Orleans’ great piano man Professor Longhair.
Original London Cast Recording, On the Town (Masterworks Broadway)
In conjunction with the upcoming Broadway revival of the classic Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical, Masterworks Broadway brings the 1963 Original London Cast Recording to CD-R and DD for the first time. Elliott Gould, Don McKay, Franklin Kiser and Carol Arthur star in this recording of the production directed and choreographed by Joe Layton. Available exclusively at MasterworksBroadway.com for a limited time.
Okay, this isn’t a catalogue title, but we couldn’t resist putting the spotlight on Smokey Robinson’s new studio collection! Smokey puts his own spin on the now-de rigeur duets album, featuring many of his famous Motown hits in new versions alongside Elton John, Sheryl Crow, John Legend, James Taylor, Steven Tyler and more!
This isn’t a reissue, either, but rather a tribute to The Man in Black’s 1964 concept album which daringly shed light on the plight of Native Americans. This 50th anniversary set presents Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and veteran of the original LP Norman Blake as they reinvent Cash’s original songs with producer Joe Henry. Look Again to the Wind is also a companion piece to the new documentary film We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited, chronicling the story of Bitter Tears and this new recording.
Soren Hyldgaard, The Spider: Original Soundtrack Recording (Kritzerland)
Pre-orders are now being accepted for Kritzerland’s latest offering: Soren Hyldgaard’s spellbinding score to the 2000 Danish miniseries The Spider, a noir set in Copenhagen in the wake of World War II. This 1,000-unit limited edition release improves on an earlier CD release in Denmark, upping the running time from around 44 minutes to nearly 79, mastered from the composer’s complete score tapes. The disc will ship by the last week of September, but pre-orders directly from Kritzerland usually arrive three to five weeks ahead of schedule.
Pino Donaggio, Blow Out: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Intrada)
Intrada has pre-orders open for this reissue of the soundtrack by Pino Donaggio (Carrie) for Brian DePalma’s 1981 thriller starring John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz and John Lithgow. Though the haunting score was previously released on CD in 2002, Intrada corrects errors in track titles and sequencing, and otherwise upgrades its presentation for a new group of listeners who might have missed out on the first, now out-of-print release.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama is a long way from Glasgow, Scotland. But when Lulu took the trek in 1969, the “To Sir with Love” songbird proved that she could play with the big boys. Though neither New Routes nor its Miami-recorded, Dixie Flyers-assisted follow-up Melody Fair scaled the heights commercially, both projects proved the versatility of the vocal dynamo. In 2007, Rhino U.K. issued The Atco Sessions 1969-72 collecting both of Lulu’s lost southern soul forays in one deluxe 2-CD package. Upon its deletion from the catalogue, The Atco Sessions began fetching high coin. Real Gone Music has come to the rescue, however, with a reissue of the complete package (RGM-0268) that once again makes some of the finest music of Lulu’s career available at a reasonable price.
The ballad “To Sir with Love” established Lulu in the United States, remaining at No. 1 for five weeks and becoming the top single of 1967. (Ironically, it didn’t even chart in Lulu’s native United Kingdom.) In addition to singing the Mark London/Don Black title theme, Lulu also appeared in the film. How to capitalize upon her newfound American success? After splitting with her longtime producer Mickie Most, Lulu signed to Atco in the States and headed to Muscle Shoals with the Atlantic Records trinity of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin. This move into R&B might have been perceived as a left turn by her new American fans, but not those who had followed her career since 1965. Though Lulu won the U.K. the Eurovision song contest of 1969 with the lightweight “Boom Bang-a-Bang” – it tied with entries from Spain, France and the Netherlands – her first U.K. single hit was a cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout!” Subsequent tracks like Bert Berns’ bluesy “Here Comes the Night” and Goffin and King’s “I Can’t Hear You No More” were also essentially R&B recordings. Many of Lulu’s more overtly pop recordings – like her U.K. Top 10 hit of Neil Diamond’s “The Boat That I Row” – were so potent because of her soulful sound. Though her vocals were filled with youthful abandon, they also reflected an old soul. Lulu had a great desire during this period to diversify her talents; though the production didn’t come to fruition, Lulu was even set to make her West End debut in a musical adaptation of Vanity Fair in the challenging role of the cunning Becky Sharp!
New Routes, released in February 1970, blended both pop and soul into a beguiling whole. The album featured Muscle Shoals’ take-no-prisoners rhythm section of Barry Beckett on keyboards, David Hood on bass, Roger Hawkins on drums, and Eddie Hinton, Jimmy Johnson, Cornell Dupree and a certain Duane Allman on guitar; horns and strings would flesh out the sound. Duane Allman’s scorching blues licks enhanced four tracks on New Routes, most notably “Dirty Old Man” from Mac Davis and Delaney Bramlett, and Fran Robbins’ rockin’ n’ rollickin’ instructions to “Sweep Around Your Own Back Door.”
With Lulu in the midst of her rocky marriage to Maurice Gibb of Lulu’s Atco labelmates The Bee Gees, two songs on the LP bore the group’s imprimatur, including the whimsical “Marley Purt Drive” and Barry Gibb’s ballad “In the Morning.” Lulu cut loose with her throaty wail throughout the LP, particularly on “People in Love” from guitarist Eddie Hinton and Grady Smith and the lament “Is That You Love” from Jackie Avery and John Farris. Hinton co-wrote “Where’s Eddie” with Donnie Fritts; the same team penned “Breakfast in Bed” as recorded by Dusty Springfield on her now-legendary southern-soul excursion Dusty in Memphis. Lulu hit just the right note of desperation on their rueful, tense ballad.
Other moments ranged from the funky (a loose run through Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright”) to the reflective (“Mr. Bojangles”). Jerry Jeff Walker first recorded his “Mr. Bojangles” for Atco; Lulu’s version of the song predates the more famous interpretations by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Sammy Davis, Jr., among so many others. Her heartfelt reading of the song is low-key and stripped-down, free of horns, strings or other ornamentation.
A fellow Glasgow native, Jim Doris, provided two tracks: the passionate “After All (I Live My Life)” as well as the album’s biggest success – both artistically and commercially. The marriage of evocative lyrics with the dramatically-building melody of Doris’ “Oh Me, Oh My (I’m a Fool for You, Baby)” gained Lulu entrée into the U.S. Top 30 for the first time since “To Sir with Love.” The sensual, simmering track is the centerpiece of New Routes.
There’s more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Back in 2011, Cherry Red’s Cherry Pop label gave the deluxe treatment to the two albums that established Billy Ocean’s chart supremacy in the 1980s: the Jive Records releases of Suddenly (1984) and Love Zone (1986). Now, the label has returned to the Trinidad-born, U.K.-raised singer’s catalogue with an expanded edition of 1988’s Tear Down These Walls.
Ocean had been recording since 1972, and scored memorable hits in his home of England with the No. 2s “Love Really Hurts Without You” and “Red Light Spells Danger.” But his true commercial breakthrough on the worldwide level didn’t come until 1984 and Suddenly. If his rise was far from sudden, the album’s success certainly was. It spawned three Top 5 U.S. hits via the title track, “Loverboy” and the No. 1 “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run).” He followed up the double platinum LP two years later with Love Zone, switching producers from Keith Diamond to the team of Barry J. Eastmond and Wayne Braithwaite. The title song reached the Top 10 of the Hot 100, and “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” did even better, hitting the peak position on the chart. Love Zone also featured “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” from the film Jewel of the Nile; it rewarded Ocean with a No. 2 smash. The album would become Ocean’s second to achieve double platinum certification. Both LPs went Gold in the U.K., as well, with the U.K. charts also favoring “Caribbean Queen,” “Suddenly” and “When the Going Gets Tough.”
Naturally, anticipation was high for Ocean’s third album with Jive. Producers Eastmond and Braithwaite returned, to be joined by Robert “Mutt” Lange and Teddy Riley. Lange had worked on both previous LPs and co-wrote “When the Going Gets Tough.” For the album entitled Tear Down These Walls, Lange co-wrote and produced three tracks (two with Riley) including the title song. One of his productions would become a signature song for Billy Ocean.
Ocean and Lange’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” (reportedly inspired by a lyric from The Sherman Brothers’ “You’re Sixteen,” a Top 10 hit for Johnny Burnette in 1960 and a No. 1 for Ringo Starr in 1974) was released on 45 in January 1988. Bolstered by a video in heavy rotation on MTV, the track ascended to No. 3 in the U.K. and No. 1 in seven countries including the U.S., of course.
Seven songs on Tear Down These Walls were produced and co-written by Barry J. Eastmond and his team including the ballad “The Colour of Love,” another U.S. Top 20 hit. Lange and Ocean had paid tribute to Ocean’s roots with “Calypso Crazy;” Eastmond and co. did the same with the calypso-flavored “Pleasure.” Other songs touched on bass-driven grooves (“Gun for Hire”), modern-day Motown (“Stand and Deliver”), and contemporary R&B (“Because of You”).
Hit the jump for more details including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »
Tell Me How You Like It: Harmless Reissues, Expands Philly Disco From John Davis and the Monster Orchestra
What makes for a Monster Orchestra? For Philadelphia composer-arranger-conductor John Davis, it was an array of the best musicians the city had to offer. Between 1976 and 1979, Davis led his Monster Orchestra for four disco LPs on the SAM Records label, plucking its members from the A-Team of Philadelphia International’s MFSB and Salsoul Records’ Salsoul Orchestra. Guitarists Bobby Eli and Roland Chambers, percussionist/conga player Larry Washington, drummer Charles Collins, bassist Michael “Sugar Bear” Foreman, and string and horn leader Don Renaldo (plus stalwart backing vocalists Barbara Ingram, Yvette Benton and Carla Benson, a.k.a. The Sweethearts of Sigma) all joined John “The Monster” Davis (an alumnus of productions for Carol Douglas, Arthur Prysock, The Philly Devotions and William DeVaughn) for four of the most memorably musical albums in the disco canon. All four of those titles have recently been remastered and expanded on two 2-CD sets from Demon Music Group’s Harmless label and its Disco Recharge series.
Night and Day/Up Jumped the Devil pairs Davis and the Monster Orchestra’s 1976 and 1977 platters, respectively. Night and Day put Davis’ group on the map, adding a dance backbeat and a resplendent, symphonic overlay to the Cole Porter songbook. One can only imagine what Porter, who died in 1964, would have thought of the Monster Orchestra’s approach, but surely the great composer-lyricist would have approved of seeing his classic songs speak to a new generation and “Night and Day” rise to the Top 5 on the Billboard Disco chart. Davis gave the lavish disco treatment to six evergreens from the eternally witty, often risqué Porter songbook, drawing on hits from stage (“I Get a Kick Out of You” from Anything Goes, “You Do Something to Me” from Fifty Million Frenchmen, “Night and Day” from Gay Divorce, “It’s De-Lovely” from Red, Hot and Blue) and screen (“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” from Born to Dance, “In the Still of the Night” from Rosalie) alike. Much as Vince Montana frequently did leading his iteration of The Salsoul Orchestra on various standards, Davis balanced a certain, inherent amount of camp with an unwavering dedication to impeccable musicianship. He rounded out the LP with a couple of original compositions which he co-wrote with Monster guitarist Craig Snyder, “Tell Me How You Like It” and “I Can’t Stop.” The lyrics weren’t quite Porter, but they certainly kept listeners on their feet!
Up Jumped the Devil aimed for a funkier sound than its predecessor, which it accomplished via cuts like Davis’ title track and the Davis/Snyder co-write “Got to Give It Up.” Davis’ breezy “We Can Fly” recalled the sweet soul side of the Philadelphia players – a style they practically invented – while the epic medley of “The Magic is You/You’re the One/Recapitulation” was designed for club play and melded funk, rock and symphonic soul. All seven tracks were originals written or co-written by Davis, and the album succeeded in taking The Monster Orchestra in a new direction without losing the elements – and musicians – that led to its success in the first place.
Night and Day has been expanded with five bonus tracks – the 7-inch single edits of the title track, “Tell Me How You Like It” and “I Can’t Stop,” plus the extended 12-inch versions of “I Can’t Stop,” “Night and Day” and “I Get a Kick (Out of You).” Up Jumped the Devil has six bonuses, including both the 7-inch and 12-inch versions of the title song and “You Gotta Give It Up,” as well as the 7-inch edits of “The Magic is You” and “You’re the One.”
After the jump: a look at Ain’t That Enough for You/The Monster Strikes Again, and complete track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »
“Eternal Flame,” “So Emotional,” “Like a Virgin,” “True Colors” – the songs of Billy Steinberg not only nearly defined the sound of eighties pop, but have endured to the present day. Yet before Steinberg joined with Tom Kelly to pen those songs and so many others, he was fronting a power pop/new wave quartet with the unlikely name of Billy Thermal – Billy for Steinberg, Thermal for the city in which his father’s vineyards were located. The group, consisting of Steinberg, guitarist Craig Hull, drummer Efren Espinosa and bassist (and future “Butterfly Kisses” hitmaker) Bob Carlisle, received a featured spot on a compilation of up-and-coming artists for Richard Perry’s Planet Records and subsequently self-released one EP, but no other music ever surfaced…until now. Omnivore Recordings has just unearthed the lone LP from Billy Thermal (OVCD-95), the shelved 1980 album from which the five-track EP was sourced. If this cool little record may not change your world, it just might rock it for 45 minutes or so.
Billy Thermal’s tight, energetic, three-minute-or-so power pop nuggets fit squarely into the new wave genre of the day with just enough variety in the tempi and arrangements to make the album a compelling listen. The lean, compact, take-home tunes on this fresh, fun time capsule sound as if they were composed to be played onstage at maximum volume by the crack, take-no-prisoners rhythm section, combining a smidgen of punk attitude with a heaping helping of pop know-how. Though he wrote all of the music and lyrics for Billy Thermal, Steinberg found his truest calling later as a lyricist, penning the words to Tom Kelly’s melodies which were of a much more sweeping nature than the compositions here.
In the liner notes, Steinberg describes the band’s songs as “intensely personal,” and indeed, many of the relationship songs here have intimacy and honesty despite being firmly rooted in pop territory. Some are less distinctive and less keenly-observed such as “I’m Your Baby” (“And I’m your baby/I’m your baby/I’m your baby/I’m your baby/I’m your ooh!”) with its eighties-meets-Peter Gunn feel, but it’s clear that Steinberg the embryonic songwriter was well on his way.
Don’t miss a thing – hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Shine Her Light: “The Midnight Special” Box Set Arrives In September with Fleetwood Mac, Bee Gees, ELO, More
Between August 1972 and May 1981, late night television was a little more rockin’. Producer Burt Sugarman’s The Midnight Special followed Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show on Friday evenings, welcoming viewers with Johnny Rivers’ rousing rendition of the traditional tune (a Top 20 hit for Rivers in 1965). Over the course of 450 episodes, The Midnight Special presented a staggering array of music’s top talent on network television with most songs performed live for the majority of its run. The program, featuring announcer Wolfman Jack and a variety of guest hosts, premiered as a one-off special in August 1972 but was promoted to full-time status in February 1973. It first arrived on DVD in 2006 with episodes available as mail order exclusives, heavily promoted via infomercials. On September 9, however, StarVista/Time Life will make The Midnight Special more widely available for the first time with 11-DVD, 6-DVD and 1-DVD releases. With the resurgence in many of the ‘70s’ greatest pop hits thanks to the hit Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack the time couldn’t be better! (Indeed, many of the Star Lord’s favorite songs were performed on The Midnight Special and will be included on these DVDs.)
The 11-disc Midnight Special Collectors’ Edition is now available to order exclusively online at MIDNIGHTSPECIALDVDS.COM for just under $100.00; while it’s expected that this set may eventually arrive to general retail (in the tradition of other StarVista sets for The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts), it will remain a website exclusive for the foreseeable future. This edition features roughly 10 hours of musical performances plus 5 hours of newly-produced bonus material and a 32-page booklet. The single-disc and 6-disc versions will be released on September 9 to stores everywhere. The Midnight Special played host to artists from the many genres that occupied the Top 40 slots on the Billboard Hot 100 during the 1970s, including Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees, Linda Ronstadt, The O’Jays, Dolly Parton, David Bowie (who broadcast his final television appearance as Ziggy Stardust on the program), Alice Cooper, Electric Light Orchestra, Neil Sedaka, Barry Manilow, Alice Cooper, frequent host Helen Reddy, and countless others who are featured on StarVista’s new sets. The Midnight Special also gave the spotlight over to the era’s top comedians like Richard Pryor, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin and Freddie Prinze.
After the jump: a look at what you can expect to find on these collections! Read the rest of this entry »