In the annals of underrated R&B vocalists, Ronnie Dyson (1950-1990) was among the greatest. A versatile singer equally comfortable with smooth soul, pure pop and showbiz pizzazz, Dyson left behind a small but rich catalogue for the Columbia and Cotillion labels. With the recent release of Phase 2 and Brand New Day from 1982 and 1983, respectively, Real Gone Music and SoulMusic Records have filled in two of the major holes in Dyson’s CD discography (RGM-0294). With the release of this stellar two-on-one disc, 1979’s If the Shoe Fits remains the late soul man’s lone album not yet on CD. (Dyson’s first and highest-charting album, 1970’s (If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You?, will be included on SoulMusic’s Lady in Red: The Columbia Sides, Plus, now available from Cherry Red. Watch for our full report soon.)
Ronnie Dyson was already a seasoned performer before he turned 20 years old; at the age of 18, he was selected to lead the company of Broadway’s groundbreaking Hair in introducing the future standard “Aquarius.” The Washington, DC-born actor/singer soon turned his attention to recording, scoring a Top 10 hit with a song from another rock musical (“(If You Let Me Make Love to You) Then Why Can’t I Touch You” from 1969’s Salvation) and inking a deal with Columbia Records. In 1973, Columbia sent Dyson to Philadelphia to work with Thom Bell in the hopes that Bell’s lush productions would prove a match with Dyson’s silky-smooth yet powerful falsetto vocals. Bell composed and produced a number of sides for the album that became One Man Band, and the LP was rounded out with remixed versions of past recordings including Barry Mann’s “When You Get Right Down to It” from 1971. Among Bell and lyricist Linda Creed’s contributions to One Man Band were the irresistible title track (No. 28 Pop, No. 15 R&B) and the wistful “I Think I’ll Tell Her,”) both as strongly melodic and lyrically memorable as the team’s best for the Stylistics and the Spinners. Thanks to the Bell/Creed productions, One Man Band remains one of the most criminally unknown albums in the R&B canon.
One of the Bell-produced tracks was written by the team of Bobby Eli, Vinnie Barrett and John Freeman. “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely” earned Dyson a No. 60 Pop/No. 29 R&B hit, and years later, Dyson turned to Eli for the production of his Cotillion debut album, appropriately entitled Phase 2. Guitarist-arranger Eli, of course, was a member of MFSB, the veteran crew of Sigma Sound house musicians so frequently utilized by Bell for his majestic productions. In addition to his dynamic session work for Philadelphia International, Salsoul and other labels, Eli had also come into his own a producer for such artists as Atlantic Starr and Keith Barrow. Recording at studios in New York and Philly and splitting the arrangement chores with fellow Philly veteran Richie Rome, Eli crafted a set for Dyson that subtly updated his sound for a new decade.
On Phase 2 as well as its follow-up LP included on this disc, Dyson’s voice is a bit rougher around the edges than on his earlier Columbia recordings, but it’s still a recognizable and powerful instrument. The brassy uptempo dancer “Bring It on Home,” written by Eltesa Weatherby, Frank Fuchs and Gavin Spencer, opens Phase 2. It adds a 1980s production sheen to the classic Philly soul formula; its opening drum pattern echoes that of The Spinners’ “One a Kind Love Affair,” and elsewhere Don Renaldo’s Horns and Strings swing as female backing vocalists coo sensually. A similar sound with then-modern keyboard flourishes and big drums is achieved on a contemporary makeover of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Soul Survivors oldie “Expressway to Your Heart.”
Dyson was always comfortable with ballads, and Eli – co-writer of Blue Magic’s stunning “Side Show,” among other songs – naturally knew his way around softer material. Eban Kelly and Charles Williams’ “Heart to Heart” is a slickly insinuating mid-tempo groove, and Dyson pleads with intensity on Samm Culley’s “Say You Will.” He conjures similar vocal fire on Allee Willis and Patrick Henderson’s “Now” and keeps things smooth and romantic on the album’s closing track, Timothy Wright’s “I Found Someone.”
After the jump: more on Phase 2, plus a look at Brand New Day! Read the rest of this entry »
Before Thunder, there was Terraplane. Thunder, the British hard-rock act that notched a No.2 record on the UK charts in 1992 with Laughing On Judgment Day had previously existed as Terraplane. Under that incarnation, the band released two albums in the 1980s. Cherry Red imprint HNE Recordings recently released an expanded edition of Terraplane’s debut effort, Black and White.
Hailing from South London, Terraplane’s membership was initially made up of Danny Bowes (vocals), Luke Morley (guitars), Gary James (drums) and Nick Linden (bass and piano). The group formed out of Bowes and Morley’s college band Nuthin’ Fancy and recorded a single for independent label City Records. In addition, they performed at many venues around London including numerous gigs at the Marquee Club which helped to garner the attention of Epic Records. Terraplane signed with Epic in February of 1984 and began work on their debut.
Finding a producer proved to be difficult but one was eventually decided upon: Liam Henshall, who had previously worked with the band King. Several guests were brought in for the album, including Jools Holland on “I’m The One” and Ruby Turner on “Couldn’t Handle the Tears.” Henshall would take the band to 10 different studios during the recording process and the production time for the album began to grow. During that period, they became a support act for Meat Loaf’s tour in 1985 and brought in an additional member: guitarist Rudi Riviere who contributed to “Talking to Myself” on the record.
The album was finally finished and ready for release but Terraplane and Epic could not agree on a title. The band members wanted to name the album Talking to God Down the Great White Telephone, but Epic found the title too obscure and called the album Black and White. This disagreement between band and label would prove to be an omen of things to come.
When Black and White was released in 1985, it only hit No. 74 on the U.K. charts. The singles which followed did not fare well, either. In Malcolm Dome’s new liner notes for this edition, Morley, Bowes and Henshall are interviewed. They candidly recount the tensions between the band and Epic, who wanted Terraplane to go in a more pop direction. A second album, Moving Target, was released in 1987, but fared even more poorly on the charts than its predecessor. After that, Terraplane was over. Bowes, Morley and James regrouped and reformed with two new members as Thunder, signing to EMI in 1989. Their first album under the new name, Backstreet Symphony, was released in 1990, hitting #21 in the U.K. and #114 in the U.S.
What will you find on the new Terraplane reissue? Hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »
This 12-CD box includes all five of Simon & Garfunkel’s stereo studio albums released between 1964 and 1970, newly remastered from first-generation analog sources plus first-time remasters of The Graduate soundtrack and 1981’s The Concert in Central Park; 1972’s Greatest Hits album (which contained some unique performances unavailable elsewhere); and the live concert albums from 1967, 1969 and 2004, as first released in 2002, 2008 and 2004, respectively.
UMe continues its series of deluxe, hardcover book-style editions of The Velvet Underground’s discography with this 6-CD edition of the band’s 1969 release including live and studio rarities. Highlights are also available in a 2-CD edition.
Capitol is reissuing and expanding the Neil Diamond compilation first issued this past July, and this time it jumps from 23 tracks on one CD to 42 tracks on two CDs. You can expect additions from Diamond’s new Melody Road and 2005 “comeback” 12 Songs as well as classics that didn’t make the cut on the original version such as “Heartlight,” “Desiree” and “Yesterday’s Songs.”
This 2-CD/2-DVD set features
- The original album and bonus tracks (three previously unreleased), remixed in 5.1 surround and stereo by Steven Wilson
- 10 orchestral pieces (nine previously unreleased) written for the proposed film’s soundtrack, four of which are remixed in 5.1 surround and stereo by Steven Wilson
- Flat transfers of the original LP mix at 96/24, and the original quadrophonic mix (with 2 bonus tracks) in 4.0.
- “The Third Hoorah” promo footage, and footage from a January 1974 photo session/press conference where the WarChild project was announced.
Bryan Adams, Reckless: Super Deluxe Edition (A&M)
Bryan Adams is marking the 30th anniversary of his breakthrough Reckless with a variety of reissues including a super deluxe set with 2 CDs (featuring both studio outtakes and a previously unreleased live concert), 1 DVD (Reckless: The Movie) and a BD-Audio disc with stereo and surround mixes in high resolution.
Dave Mathews Band, Under the Table and Dreaming (Legacy)
Legacy reissues and remasters Dave Matthews Band’s 1994 studio debut in time for its 20th anniversary on both CD and vinyl. The CD has three unreleased bonus tracks, including the original studio version of live favorite “Granny” and acoustic versions of “Dancing Nancies” and “The Song That Jane Likes,” and the bonus tracks will also be included on a download card with the vinyl LP.
The Legacy Collection – The Little Mermaid: Original Soundtrack (Walt Disney Records) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )
Disney continues its Legacy Edition series of deluxe expanded hardbound reissues with a 2-CD set dedicated to Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s The Little Mermaid!
The Bing Crosby Archive titles (Bing Crosby Enterprises/UMe)
The Bing Crosby Archive returns with four discs, every one of which is packed with previously unreleased material! Click on the “Bing Crosby Archive” link above for track listings and full details on each title!
The 1982 greatest-hits compilation arrives in high-resolution stereo on Audio Fidelity’s new hybrid SACD remastered by Kevin Gray.
For decades, The Disney Channel has served as a launching pad for the pop stars of tomorrow, from Justin Timberlake to Britney Spears to Selena Gomez and many more. One of the earliest shows to have stars emerge was Kids Incorporated which aired on The Disney Channel from 1986-1994 (after having moved there from syndication). Kids introduced audiences to, among others, Fergie and Jennifer Love Hewitt. But it was another cast member from the show who had early success stemming from her time on the program: Marta Marrero, or as she was billed on her self-titled debut album, Martika. This album has recently been reissued by Cherry Red imprint Cherry Pop in an expanded edition.
After having gotten her big break playing an orphan in 1982’s movie musical Annie, Martika played Gloria on Kids Incorporated for the show’s first three seasons from 1983-1987. During that time, she met producer/songwriter Michael Jay (Five Star). He recognized her talent and approached her about collaborating. Martika signed a record deal with Columbia in 1987 with Jay inked as the producer. Her debut recording for the label was the song “We Are Music,” issued only in Japan as a promotional release.
Martika and Michael Jay began work on what would become Martika. Jay wrote or co-wrote 6 of the 10 songs on the album. He was joined as a co-writer on two of the songs by Martika herself, who Jay had encouraged to begin writing. (She also co-wrote two other songs on the album.) The album was released in October of 1988 with the lead-off single “More Than You Know” coming in November. It hit No. 18 in the U.S. and No. 21 in the U.K. The next single would prove to be an even bigger success and become the song most associated with Martika: “Toy Soldiers.” Released in 1989, the single climbed to No. 5 in the U.K. but reached pole position in the U.S., going gold. The album itself also went gold, peaking at No. 15 in the U.S. and No. 11 in the U.K. Two other singles were released: the Carole King cover “I Feel the Earth Move” (No. 7 U.K.) and “Water” (No. 59 U.K.).
After the jump, we have more on Martika including the complete track listing with discography and order links!
Last year, UMe demanded that listeners “Respect the Classics” with a new series of multi-format reissues dedicated to landmark hip-hop albums from the vaults of labels including Def Jam, Interscope, Priority and Virgin. One of last year’s releases was an LP reissue of Public Enemy’s 1988 release It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. On November 24, Def Jam will revisit that title once again with a 2-CD/1-DVD expanded reissue.
The second album by hip hop group Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions only peaked at No. 42 on the Billboard 200, but has since been recognized as one of the most influential albums in the hip-hop genre. With lead MC Chuck D ratcheting up the group’s social commentary via his pointed lyrics, It Takes a Nation took a cue from Marvin Gaye’s seminal What’s Going On and attracted attention from the mainstream that Public Enemy’s 1987 debut failed to receive. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Black Albums list and made a Top 10 placement in the U.K. pop chart, as well. The LP has since been declared platinum and has been considered in some quarters to be the greatest hip-hop album of all time.
It Takes a Nation of Millions was the result of extensive preproduction. Rather than touring with the rest of the group Eric “Vietnam” Sadler and Hank Shocklee remained in the studio shaping the material for the Nation of Millions album, readying tracks for Chuck D and Flavor Flav’s return. Produced by production team The Bomb Squad (including Chuck D) under the auspices of executive producer Rick Rubin, the sixteen tracks on It Takes a Nation blended rap with funk, electronica, pop, soul and rock influences to create a singular aural assault. Music from the album has since been sampled by artists of various genres such as The Beastie Boys, The Game, Jay Z, Jurassic 5, Madonna and My Bloody Valentine.
After the jump, we have details on what you can expect from this set, plus pre-order links and the full track listing with discography!
Ace Super Soul Round-Up, Part Two: The “One in a Million” Songs of Sam Dees, The New Orleans Sound of Cosimo Matassa
Birmingham, Alabama native Sam Dees has worn many hats in a long and illustrious career – producer, singer, songwriter, among them. But it’s a songwriter that Dees has received his greatest acclaim. He’s gifted music to George Benson and Aretha Franklin (“Love All the Hurt Away”), Atlantic Starr (“Am I Dreaming”), Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Save the Overtime (For Me)” and Loleatta Holloway (“The Show Must Go On”) – as well as Larry Graham, whose No. 1 R&B/No. 9 pop hit “One in a Million You” lends its title to One in a Million: The Songs of Sam Dees.
This 22-track compilation draws upon Dees’ vast catalogue of soulful compositions, originally issued between 1970 and 1983. Dees himself kicks off the anthology with his own 1977 recording of “My World,” one of his strongest ballads. It goes on to feature a “Who’s Who” of soul royalty including The Spinners’ John Edwards (“Stop This Merry-Go-Round,” 1973), The Chi-Lites (the exclusive U.K. remix of “Vanishing Love” from 1977 – a song first recorded by…John Edwards!), Loleatta Holloway (the aforementioned “The Show Must Go On” from 1975), Esther Phillips (“Cry to Me,” from 1981 – first recorded by Loleatta!), Jackie Wilson (“Just as Soon as the Feeling’s Over,” from 1975), and Johnnie Taylor (“Seconds of Your Love,” from 1983). The latter was co-written by Dees and Philadelphia’s Ron Kersey, and also recorded by artists including Holloway, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Wilson Pickett and Jackie Moore. The Kersey/Dees partnership is also represented with The Temptations’ 1983 “What a Way to Put It,” featuring Dennis Edwards on lead vocals. Another Philly soul great, Bobby Martin, produced 1980’s “Where Did We Go Wrong” for LTD, co-written by Dees and LTD’s Jeffrey Osborne. The set, with track-by-track annotations from compiler Tony Rounce and remastering from Duncan Cowell, ends with Larry Graham’s “One in a Million You,” appropriate for a one-in-a-million solid gold songwriter.
The death earlier this year of Cosimo Matassa at the age of 88 truly marked the end of an era. Born in New Orleans in 1926, Matassa opened his first recording studio in 1945. He moved to a larger facility in 1955, and as studio owner and engineer, he became one of the most significant figures in New Orleans’ musical history – and therefore, the history of R&B. Cracking The Cosimo Code: ‘60s New Orleans R&B and Soul draws on the rich music recorded by Matassa at Cosimo Recording Studios, 521-525 Governor Nicholls Street, New Orleans. Matassa had been around to witness the changing of the guard in N’awlins R&B, from Fats Domino and producer Dave Bartholomew to younger production talents like Allen Toussaint, Wardell Querzegue and Harold Battiste and their stable of artists including Lee Dorsey, The Meters, Ernie K-Doe and The Neville Brothers. Though much else of the sound of the city changed, Matassa was a constant, presence and a constant innovator.
After the jump: more on Cosimo, order links and track listings for both titles!
Real Gone Music is saying “Happy New Year!” a couple of months early with the announcement of the label’s January 6 slate of releases. This customarily eclectic batch is highlighted by the classic soul of The Main Ingredient and Jackie Moore, blue comedy from Redd Foxx, two otherworldly soundtracks from the films of cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (on both LP and CD!), and more live jam-band greatness from Grateful Dead.
Real Gone’s press release, with full details on each title, follows!
LOS ANGELES, CA – One of the ironies of the career of Chilean-born filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is that while he is best known as a visual stylist, his most avid and loyal champions have often been musicians. When Jodorowsky arrived in New York from Mexico City in 1970 carrying a copy of the then-unreleased El Topo, it was the jazz producer Alan Douglas who bought the distribution rights to the film. When Jodorowsky and Douglas were looking for a venue in which to screen El Topo, it was John Lennon and Yoko Ono who asked for it to run at midnight following their short-film festival at New York’s Elgin Cinema. And after six months of sold-out midnight screenings at the Elgin, it was Lennon’s manager, Allen Klein (ABKCO’s founder), who bought the rights to El Topo and agreed to produce its follow-up, The Holy Mountain. But then, music has always played a very large role in Jodorowsky’s films—and that has never been more evident than in the soundtracks to The Holy Mountain and to his latest film, The Dance of Reality. Both soundtracks are being issued by Real Gone Music in association with ABKCO Music & Records for the first time on LP and stand-alone CD on January 6.
When Jodorowsky wanted, in his words, “another kind of music—something that wasn’t entertainment, something that wasn’t a show, something that went to the soul, something profound,” for the soundtrack to The Holy Mountain, forward came jazz legend Don Cherry and crack studio musician (and one-time Archie) Ron Frangipane to share composing and (along with Jodorowsky) conducting duties. And, boy, did they deliver—the score to The Holy Mountain is every bit as hallucinatory as the fantastic visual imagery in the film itself. The deep, primordial chants that begin the movie, “Trance Mutation,” give way to an almost jaunty percussion-and-plucked-strings melody, “Pissed and Passed Out.” On the next track, “Violence of the Lambs,” a single flute is slowly joined by a set of mournful strings while, onscreen, Gestapo-like soldiers in gas masks parade with bloody lamb carcasses on sticks. “Drink It,” an upbeat sitar folk melody, follows, briefly accompanying the main protagonist The Thief’s ill-considered decision to guzzle tequila (or sleeping potion). Then there is “Christs 4 Sale,” a blaring orchestral riff that sounds like it was ripped from a 1950s swords-and-sandals epic. The next track, “Cast Out and Pissed,” begins with a bee-like buzz, then is overwhelmed by a cacophony of drums, horns, and, finally, screaming. “Eye of the Beholder” which follows, changes moods entirely once again—a string section swells with overwrought romanticism. (Onscreen, a group of young prostitutes prays in a church. One of them later walks arm and arm with a chimpanzee.) And then there is “Communion,” a brooding, trumpet-led number that would be at home on the noir-steeped Chinatown soundtrack. (As “Communion” plays, the Thief is not driving through Los Angeles at night but eating the face off a statue of Christ.) This veritable cornucopia of musical styles would be more than enough to fill an entire movie. It would be more than enough to fill three movies. But in fact, the eight musical compositions described above play entirely in The Holy Mountain’s first 24 minutes. Still ahead lie the hard rock of “Psychedelic Weapons,” the pomp and circumstance of the waltz “Miniature Plastic Bomb Shop,” the gospel-inflected sax of “Isla (The Sapphic Sleep),” and so on. Every one of the 24 tracks on the film’s soundtrack presents another vertiginous twist in the philosophical and spiritual journey that is The Holy Mountain.
Now, Real Gone Music/ABKCO presents, on gatefold double-LP and CD, the original soundtrack to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 masterpiece The Holy Mountain. Both editions feature liner notes by New York Times contributor Eric Benson that include exclusive quotes from Jodorowsky himself, festooned with copious production stills. Produced for release by Grammy-winning producer Teri Landi and Mick Gochanour, and mastered from the original tapes by Joe Yannece (with lacquer cutting on the LP by Carl Rowatti at Trutone Mastering), this long-awaited release of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain: Original Soundtrack offers a major addition to the soundtrack canon and a completely unique listening experience.
For the soundtrack to The Dance of Reality, which marked his triumphant return to the film world in 2014 after a 23-year hiatus, Jodorowsky tapped his own son, Adan Jodorowsky (a.k.a. “Adanowsky”), whose work as a composer and performer (with Devendra Banhart among others) has won him an international following in his own right. In the radiantly visceral autobiographical film, a young Jodorowsky (played by his son, Brontis) is confronted by a collection of compelling characters that contribute to his burgeoning surreal consciousness. Adding to the autobiographical nature of the work, the film was shot in Tocopilla, a coastal town on the edge of the Chilean desert, where the filmmaker was born in 1929. Blending his personal history with metaphor, mythology, and poetry, The Dance of Reality reflects Jodorowsky’s philosophy that reality is not objective but rather a “dance” created by our own imaginations. To accompany the film’s rich, dense and disturbing imagery, Adanowsky’s score is alternately lush and comical, blending brooding string passages with hypnotically repeating piano figures that create a mood that is at times foreboding, at times wistful and, as is always the case with a score to a Jodorowsky film, surreal. Real Gone Music/ABKCO’s release of the complete soundtrack to The Dance of Reality on LP and CD features a number of beautiful production stills from the film displayed on the album jacket and CD booklet, with mastering by Joe Yannece. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s tradition of remarkable film soundtracks lives on with The Dance of Reality.
After the jump: a look at a treasure trove of rare and never-before-heard music from Jackie Moore (of Sweet Charlie Babe fame!), plus some off-color laughs from the inimitable Redd Foxx and more from The Main Ingredient and Grateful Dead!