The Dictators posed the question on their 2011 reunion album D.F.F.D. (that’s “Dictators Forever, Forever Dictators,” in case you were wondering), but many listening might have felt that The Dictators themselves could have been the saviors. Yet despite recording three well-received albums between 1975 and 1978, and gaining such high-profile fans as Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven Van Zandt, The Dictators’ anarchic, acerbic brand of rock-and-roll never garnered the group mainstream success. But Raven Records believes in The Dictators, and has just celebrated the band with its first-ever career-spanning, multi-label anthology. Faster…Louder: The Dictators’ Best 1975-2001 draws on all four studio albums for a fast and furious introduction to the group Van Zandt asserted was “the missing link between The New York Dolls and punk.”
Vocalist/bassist/chief songwriter Andy Shernoff joined lead guitarist Ross “The Boss” Friedman, rhythm guitarist Scott “Top Ten” Kempner, drummer Stu Boy King and lead vocalist “Handsome” Dick Manitoba in the first lineup of The Dictators. This quintet unleashed The Dictators Go Girl Crazy! on Epic Records in 1976, produced by Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman, known for their work with hard rockers Blue Öyster Cult. With its humorously biting lyrics and full-throttle garage-style musical attack, Girl Crazy is often considered one of the building blocks of the punk sound. Six tracks are culled from Girl Crazy for Raven’s anthology, including “California Sun,” one of the original LP’s two covers. (The other was “I Got You, Babe,” nodding to the punks’ affection for – and satire of – sixties pop.) Of Shernoff’s originals included here, “(I Live For) Cars and Girls” was the songwriter’s tribute to Brian Wilson; “Master Race Rock” wasn’t quite as malevolent as the title might indicate, opening with “Hippies are squares with long hair/And they don’t wear no underwear” and going from there!
After a brief breakup, The Dictators reconvened with Manitoba, Friedman and Kempner joined by drummer Richie Teeter and bassist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza. Shernoff stayed on to play keyboards and write most of the group’s 1977 Asylum debut Manifest Destiny. Four tracks, including a live cover of The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” from CBGB’s, are reprised here. Though the musicianship was as savage as ever, Manifest presented a more diverse hard-rock sound encompassing arena rock, punk, metal, and even power ballads. One more album followed for Asylum, 1978’s Bloodbrothers, from which five songs have been extracted. Shernoff once again handled the lion’s share of songwriting, even enlisting an uncredited Bruce Springsteen for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it vocal cameo on “Faster and Louder,” the track which gives this compilation its title. “Slow Death” was a cover of the Flamin’ Groovies’ anti-drug song from 1972.
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On June 3, Morrissey is picking up where he left off. Parlophone Records will follow the February CD/DVD reissue of 1992’s Your Arsenal with the next album in his considerable catalogue, 1994’s Vauxhall and I. Like Your Arsenal, the remastered CD of Vauxhall will be packaged with a previously unreleased live concert performance, this time also on CD.
Vauxhall and I was a very different animal than its predecessor. Since the release of Arsenal, the artist had suffered the loss of that album’s producer, Mick Ronson. He paired with producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Big Country) for Vauxhall. Lillywhite crafted a spare, often acoustic aesthetic to match the dark, somber and introspective songs written by Morrissey with his collaborators Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer. Whyte and Boorer both contributed guitar to the LP and were joined by Jonny Bridgwood on bass and Woodie Taylor on drums. The result was a stripped-down, elegiac, less heavily guitar-oriented LP.
Parlophone’s press release describes it as follows: “Vauxhall and I signaled an acceptance of ageing amidst the tyranny of time, casting off the shackles of the past, with a will to embrace the future. Along the way the album visits a cast of characters, including, references to Brighton Rock – gorgeous, exhilarating album opener ‘Now My Heart Is Full’ – those whom disregard all social conventions and ‘take life at five times the average speed’ (‘Spring-Heeled Jim’) and rejected romantics (‘Billy Budd’ – also a Herman Melville character). It also lays waste to ignorant and selfish tourist whom are ‘jaded by stagnation’ (‘The Lazy Sunbathers’), the unthinking and unquestioning (‘Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself’ – later covered by The Killers), and tackles the inevitable loss of innocence (‘Used To Be A Sweet Boy’), amongst other inimitable themes.”
Despite the personal nature of the material, however, the artist scored an unexpected hit. Lead single “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” became his only song – either solo or with The Smiths – to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., where it reached No. 46. It also reached No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. In his native United Kingdom, the track went all the way to No. 8, and was the artist’s only Top 10 of the decade. The album itself was also a success. In the U.S., it made the Top 20 of the Billboard 200; in the U.K., it became Morrissey’s second No. 1 album after his 1988 solo debut Viva Hate.
After the jump, we have more on Vauxhall and I including pre-order links and the full track listing of both CDs! Read the rest of this entry »
The inviting cover image of Lesley Gore’s 1964 LP features the teenage star on the telephone, poised for some Girl Talk with her best girlfriends. Ace Records, following its expanded version of Gore’s shelved album Magic Colors, has recently reissued Girl Talk in similarly lavish fashion, with thirteen bonus tracks (Ace CDCHD 1383).
Ace’s disc spotlights one of the great, largely unheralded “triangle marriages” in pop music – artist Lesley Gore, producer Quincy Jones and arranger Claus Ogerman. With engineer Phil Ramone in the mix, the trio crafted music that transcends the “teenage” tag. With background singers Jean Thomas and Mikie Harris prominent on Girl Talk, the LP has a girl-group feel that was quintessentially American at the height of the British Invasion. Yet, as a result of Beatlemania, the sound of music was changing faster than ever. Would Lesley Gore be able to keep up with the times? The answer was a resounding “Yes!” as this eclectic album and its bonus tracks proves.
Two Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich songs on Girl Talk kept Gore prominent on the Top 40. Their stunning pop confection “Look of Love” packs a range of emotions in just under two minutes, during which the lovelorn Lesley wistfully reflects on “the way he looks at her, the way he smiles…I remember when he was mine, I remember when things were fine/Look at the way he looks at her now…isn’t that the look of love?” Lesley’s winsome yet grounded delivery keeps the tune from being bitter or maudlin, in perfect synch with the bright melody. “Maybe I Know” (No. 14) from the same team became another quintessential Gore classic. It finds the singer in a familiar setting, lamenting that “Maybe I know he’s been cheating/Maybe I know he’s been untrue…but what can I do?” as she insists “deep down inside, he loves me, though he may run around…” The character voiced by Lesley might be delusional, but the catchy record, unsurprisingly, struck a universal chord.
Though overshadowed by “Look of Love” and “Maybe I Know,” the album’s lesser-known tracks are worthy of rediscovery. Sonny Gordon’s mod, swinging, hand-clapping “Hey Now” was a perfect opening salvo to a collection of songs that paint Gore in transition, poising her for the career that continues to this very day. Larry Marks, a mainstay on both the A&M and Lee Hazlewood Industries (LHI) labels, wrote the dark and dramatic ballad “Say Goodbye.” Lesley and producer Jones turned to “You Don’t Own Me” songwriters John Madara and David White for “Live and Learn” (“I’m an expert loser/No more sweet little girl now, I’ve learned my lesson and I vow/I won’t make the same mistakes now…”). Like “Maybe I Know,” its bright, dreamy melody stands in sharp contrast to the lyrics. The groundbreaking “You Don’t Own Me” itself is echoed in Ogerman’s haunting arrangement for Jeffrey Davis and Curtis Mann’s “Little Girl Go Home,” not to mention Steve Donroy and John Gluck’s “Sometimes I Wish I Were a Boy.” Though the song is far from the most mature on Girl Talk and was never a favorite of Lesley’s, it has an undeniably pointed message as Gore confidently sings of her frustration that a woman could not make the first move in a relationship.
Gore became a successful, Oscar-nominated songwriter, and her lone song on Girl Talk, the melodramatic “I Died Inside,” received a spicy Latin flavor from Ogerman. More standard teenage fare came with “Wonder Boy” and “Movin’ Away, but R&B great and future “Hustle” man Van McCoy supplied the soulful “You’ve Come Back” and lush album closer, “It’s About That Time.” Ogerman, whose arrangements graced numerous bossa nova albums including Frank Sinatra’s first and best collaboration with Antonio Carlos Jobim, adds a bossa flavor to the song.
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“Keep an eye out for the funniest movie about growing up ever made,” read the poster to 1982’s raunchy comedy Porky’s. It depicted the eye of a Peeping Tom, looking onto a woman showering. “You’ll be glad you came!” Despite – or more likely, because of – its puerile humor, the modestly-budgeted teen sex comedy Porky’s became a runaway hit and spawned two theatrical sequels by 1985. The third Porky’s film, Porky’s Revenge, was the least successful, grossing just $20 million compared to the first movie’s $100+-million take. But if the film hasn’t endured, its soundtrack certainly has, thanks to the efforts of its chief contributor, Dave Edmunds. Varese Vintage has reissued Porky’s Revenge for the first time in a decade on a new, remastered compact disc.
The Porky’s films took place at Florida’s fictional Angel Beach High School, casting a raunchy eye on the not-so-squeaky-clean 1950s. Whereas the first two movies were scored with era-appropriate oldies, Welsh rocker Edmunds was approached to contribute an original soundtrack for the third film. Unlike director James Komack’s movie itself, Edmunds’ soundtrack featured an all-star cast. He enlisted Jeff Beck, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Clarence Clemons, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and one true 1950s hitmaker: Carl Perkins. The icing on the cake was a rare appearance by none other than George Harrison. Serving as a de facto “house band” for the project was Chuck Leavell on keyboards, Kenny Aaronson on bass and Michael Shrieve on drums.
Edmunds performed four songs himself – two originals and two revivals of classic hits. In the former category, the album’s opening track, “High School Nights,” blended a rock-and-roll spirit with a decidedly eighties modern production style recalling Edmunds’ collaboration with ELO’s Jeff Lynne on the album Information. Edmunds’ pulsating instrumental “Porky’s Revenge” was another gleaming creation seemingly intended to give a contemporary touch to the otherwise nostalgic album. His two covers, of Bobby Darin’s “Queen of the Hop” and Bobby Freeman’s “Do You Want to Dance,” were in the back-to-basics, straight-ahead rock-and-roll style that Edmunds perfected with his band Rockpile.
The typically flashy guitar hero Jeff Beck delivered an affectionately straightforward take of Santo and Johnny’s 1959 laconic hit “Sleepwalk,” and Carl Perkins revisited his own “Blue Suede Shoes” with all of the fire he had back in 1955. (Perkins and Edmunds had previously worked together on the Class of ’55 album which reunited the Sun recording artist with his pals Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. Edmunds was among the guest musicians on that project.) Willie Nelson surveyed “Love Me Tender,” co-written by another famous Sun alumnus, Elvis Presley, in a new recording helmed by Class of ’55 producer Chips Moman. The Fabulous Thunderbirds, on the cusp of their breakthrough with the Edmunds-produced Tuff Enuff, offered up the brash “Stagger Lee,” and Robert Plant joined Edmunds on guitar, Paul Martinez on bass and Phil Collins on drums as The Crawling King Snakes to tackle Charlie Rich’s “Philadelphia Baby.” Clarence Clemons visited Angel Beach High by way of E Street for Henry Mancini’s deliciously menacing “Peter Gunn Theme.”
The most remarkable track on Revenge, though, was undoubtedly George Harrison’s premiere of a then-unheard Bob Dylan song. “I Don’t Want to Do It” was written by the Bard of Hibbing back in 1968 but was unreleased at the time of Harrison’s soundtrack recording. The former Beatle had been experimenting with the song as far back as the All Things Must Pass sessions in 1970, and nailed it for Porky’s. (An alternate mix of the song was released as a single; the standard soundtrack version appears here.) “I Don’t Want to Do It” was also notable for its appearance during what would end up a 5-year recording hiatus from Harrison, between his studio albums Gone Troppo and Cloud Nine.
After the jump, we have more details on the new Porky’s Revenge, plus order links and the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »
Joe Satriani, The Complete Studio Recordings (Epic/Legacy)
Yes, The Yes Album (Panegyric)
The prog group’s breakthrough third LP gets expanded and remixed in surround by Steve Wilson, who worked similar magic on Close to the Edge and XTC’s Nonsuch.
XTC, Skylarking: Corrected Polarity Edition (Ape House)
Speaking of XTC, the band’s Todd Rundgren-produced 1986 effort, presented with intended album art and running order (with “Dear God” integrated into the track list), was remastered for vinyl in 2010; now, that superior presentation makes its way to CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Toto, Toto / Hydra / Turn Back (Rock Candy)
Get ready to “Hold the Line” with these new remasters from Rock Candy of Toto’s first three albums (their debut includes a 12″ mix of “Georgy Porgy”).
The third, flop installment in the Porky’ franchise nonetheless had a killer soundtrack assembled by Dave Edmunds and featuring contributions from George Harrison, Jeff Beck, Willie Nelson and more. Joe’s full article will run later today! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
The details are out on Real Gone Music’s June 3 release slate, and it’s so eclectic and so packed with rarities that you might find yourself exclaiming of the Real Gone team, “It must be them!” Of course, “It Must Be Him” was Vikki Carr’s signature hit, and Vikki is featured on not one, but two, releases from her Columbia Records tenure – including one with a full seventeen previously unissued recordings! If you like your female artists a bit more rocking, Real Gone has an expanded edition of Charity Ball, the 1971 sophomore album from Fanny, the first all-female rock band to find a major label home. And if it’s R&B ladies you’re after, you’ll find some of the best on The Complete Atlantic Singles Plus of the legendary Sweet Inspirations featuring Cissy Houston. And that’s not all. The disco trio Faith, Hope and Charity’s 1975 RCA long-player, produced by “Hustle” man Van McCoy, makes its worldwide CD debut, as does Color Me Country from groundbreaking African-American country vocalist Linda Martell. Real Gone continues its series reissuing Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks. And if the Dead isn’t enough to take you to a higher level of consciousness, you might want to check out the first-ever compilation of the New Age recordings of Robert Bearns and Ron Dexter’s Golden Voyage.
After the jump, you’ll find full details on this eclectic, expansive group of titles courtesy of Real Gone’s press release – plus pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »