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Donna Loren’s Complete Capitol Anthology Reveals A Wealth Of Pop Treasures

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Donna Loren“I’m just a little girl, but I feel a woman’s love for you,” Donna Loren sings on the first track of Now Sounds’ delicious new anthology These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings. Those familiar with the teen starlet’s lone Capitol long-player, Beach Blanket Bingo, might be forgiven for thinking this release would be more of the same sand-and-surf fun. But as Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Just a Little Girl” reveals, there’s much more to the music of Donna Loren. The newly discovered tracks on Good Times lyrically hew, in large part, to the teen-pop territory of melancholy and devotion.   But in every respect – not least of all vocally and musically – they’re prime West Coast pop nuggets. Fans of the Los Angeles sound will recognize every name here, all at the top of their game: producers David Axelrod, the outré pop guru, and Steve Douglas, Wrecking Crew saxophonist; arrangers Jack Nitzsche, H.B. Barnum, Gene Page and Billy Strange; musicians Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Lyle Ritz, Ray Pohlman, Tommy Tedesco, Larry Knechtel, Don Randi, Plas Johnson, Julius Wechter, and future headliners Glen Campbell and Leon Russell.

Donna Loren turned eighteen in 1965, when two-thirds of this collection’s 29 songs were cut. She first entered Capitol’s Hollywood studios, one year earlier in 1964, as the winsome “Dr. Pepper girl” and a beach party film ingénue. Fresh off a brief stint at Challenge Records, she recorded a handful of singles with David Axelrod and arranger-conductor H.B. Barnum, and all of these 45s are included on the non-chronologically-sequenced Good Times. “Just a Little Girl” was among the first songs Loren recorded at Capitol, yet it stands out as one of the strongest of her tenure with the label. “Ninety Day Guarantee,” another early single, boasts surf guitar and groovy organ. But a handful of songs that were left in the can from 1964 are more exciting than the released tracks from that year. Bob Montgomery’s sassy “Leave Him to Me” shows Donna cutting loose with a convincing growl in her voice. If she’s positively commanding there, the goofy “Drop the Drip” is light, enjoyable teenage fun (“Just because he doesn’t wear tight pants, combs his hair a kooky way/’Cause he doesn’t like the latest dance, they call him Squaresville, USA!”) from one of America’s sweethearts. “Good Things” has a bit more of an R&B feel.

Loren returned to Capitol’s studios in March 1965 to lay down vocals for her Beach Blanket Bingo album on which she sang all of the songs from the American-International picture – including those performed in the film by Annette Funicello, still recording for Disney and unavailable for the soundtrack. The songs by Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner make for a pleasant if lightweight listen. The pair gave Loren one of her performance staples, “It Only Hurts When I Cry” alongside MOR fare like this volume’s title track “These Are the Good Times.” But Beach Blanket isn’t altogether indicative of Loren’s versatility. One non-LP side emerged from the same March 1965 session, a kooky novelty called “So, Do the Zonk.” Alas, the Zonk dance craze never took off!

When she next entered the Tower, Loren was paired with producer Steve Douglas and arranger Jack Nitzsche for the five songs that form the heart of this compilation. Shockingly, only one of these recordings was originally selected for release by Capitol: Tony Hatch’s oft-recorded “Call Me.” Like so many of the songwriter supreme’s other hits, it was written for Petula Clark. But the U.S. hit of the song went to A&M artist Chris Montez in Herb Alpert’s breezy clap-along arrangement. In 1966, Frank Sinatra and his longtime arranger Nelson Riddle transformed it into a slow yet sizzling swing standard for the Chairman’s Strangers in the Night album. Loren’s version predated both of those renditions, and it’s inexplicable that she didn’t chart with it. Nitzsche inventively ladles on the strings, horns and background vocals over Loren’s coquettish lead, which frequently evokes an expressive cross between Jackie DeShannon and Tammy Grimes. “Call Me” was paired on 45 with a boisterous visit to Ashford, Simpson and Armstead’s “Smokey Joe’s,” proving that Loren was as adept with big beat as with big ballads.

Nitzsche scored another Goffin/King tune for Loren, “They’re Jealous of Me,” which was also recorded by Earl-Jean (“I’m Into Something Good”) and Connie Stevens.   It makes its debut here. The full Wall of Sound treatment was naturally applied to Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Spector’s “Woman in Love (With You).” The Ronettes’ recording of the song was released in 1975, while The Crystals’ (led by La La Brooks) didn’t receive a commercial release until 2011. This was one unlucky song; Donna’s sublime rendition sat in the vaults until Ace Records unearthed it in 2006 for Hard Workin’ Man, its second Nitzsche compendium. Nitzsche also brought baroque flourishes and Spectorian pomp to Mann and Weil’s sublime “That’s the Boy.” It was first released on Ace’s Glitter and Gold anthology of the duo’s work. The anthemic “Hold Your Head High” from the team of Randy Newman and Jackie DeShannon is another stunningly mature, previously unreleased track from the Loren/Nitzsche/Douglas/Wrecking Crew cadre. Donna’s direct, emotional vocal cuts through the martial beat and big production, and delivers a surprising degree of intimacy.

The rare and never-before-heard music doesn’t stop there. The Beau Brummels backed Donna on the folk-rock of Brummel Ron Elliott’s “It’s Gotta Be,” with Glen Campbell also on guitar, from October ’65. And then there’s “You Can’t Lose Something You Never Had.”   This majestically dramatic song from the pre-fame Al Kooper with his then-regular writing partners Bob Brass and Irwin Levine has been described by Kooper as “admittedly Bacharachian” and “still one of my favorites from the old days.” It’s not hard to see why, as his emotional melody soars in unexpected directions. Kooper once stated that he was only aware of the MGM Records original 45 by Bruce Scott and the demo by Jimmy Radcliffe; one hopes he hears Donna’s recording post haste. The production by Douglas and arrangement by Billy Strange is less overtly Bacharach-esque than on the Scott single, with The Wrecking Crew expertly recalling Pet Sounds in its introduction (which it, of course, predated) and Tony Hatch in its brassy elegance. Loren’s vocal is filled with the requisite urgency; these two-and-a-half minutes alone would be reason enough to take a chance on These Are The Good Times. Strange was also the arranger of “My Way,” which isn’t Frank Sinatra’s defiant anthem but rather a pleasant beat tune. Alas, the identity of its writer(s) has been lost to time.

There’s more Loren after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 16, 2014 at 13:16

Posted in Compilations, Donna Loren, News, Reviews

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Favorite Things: Resonance Celebrates Wes Montgomery, Charles Lloyd For Record Store Day, Plans Lost John Coltrane Concert For Fall

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Wes Montgomery - Montgomery JohnsonResonance Records, known for its deluxe archival packages of recently-discovered recordings from jazz greats including Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery, has a busy 2014 ahead. The label has recently announced plans for two Record Store Day releases with more unheard Montgomery music and one RSD exclusive with never-before-released material from Charles Lloyd.  Then, this fall, the label will premiere a live performance from John Coltrane for the first time on commercially released CD.

Resonance’s Echoes of Indiana Avenue preserved early 1957-1958 recordings from the influential guitarist Wes Montgomery, and as such was the first full collection of unheard Montgomery material in over 25 years. On Record Store Day – Saturday, April 19 – Resonance will issue two rare recordings from even earlier in the late artist’s career, both with the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet (Buddy, Monk and Wes Montgomery plus Alonzo Johnson on saxophone and Robert Johnson on drums).

Wes Montgomery and the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet is a limited edition 10-inch vinyl release produced in cooperation with Sony Music. Culled from a recently-discovered lost recording session for Epic Records, these recordings are amongst the earliest known recordings of Wes Montgomery and his brothers, plus the now-legendary Quincy Jones as a producer. Jones organized the session after knowing the Montgomery brothers through his tenure in the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, and it predates his 1957 debut album This is How I Feel About Jazz which was produced by Creed Taylor. Resonance has designed this release as it might have appeared in 1955 with vintage art, logos, and the classic period Epic label. Liner notes include highlights of an interview of Quincy Jones conducted by Ashley Kahn in 2013. These five songs (“Love for Sale, “Leila,” “Undecided,” “The Blues” and “Far Wes”) will also be featured on the 2-CD or 3-LP Resonance release Wes Montgomery: In The Beginning, due later this year. The RSD 10-inch vinyl collectible is limited to 2,000 copies.

Wes Montgomery - Turf ClubIt’s joined on RSD by Wes and the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet’s Live at the Turf Club. Sourced from recordings made by 22-year old Butler College student and devoted Montgomery Brothers fan Philip Kahl, Turf Club also makes its first-ever commercial appearance. Kahl had access to the brothers at this period of time, recording them at three different venues. (All three recordings will appear on In the Beginning.) The six tracks here were captured at Indianapolis’ Turf Club in 1956. On “Going Down To Big Mary’s House,” Debbie Andrews of Duke Ellington’s band drops in to supply guest vocals. Resonance first obtained these recordings in 2011 from Buddy Montgomery’s widow Ann, who also provided never-before-published photos taken at The Turf Club. Resonance tracked down the original quarter-inch tape reels, and Bernie Grundman was enlisted to remaster the music for optimal sound.  The RSD release of Live at the Turf Club is limited to 2,000 copies on “whiskey-colored” translucent 10-inch vinyl. The album features “Wes’s Tune”, “Fascinating Rhythm”, “Six Bridges to Cross”, “Down To Big Mary’s”, “Caravan” and “Django.”

Charles Lloyd - SlugsAlso on Record Store Day, Resonance unveils Live at Slugs from multi-instrumentalist (and to fans of The Beach Boys, “Feel Flows” flautist) Charles Lloyd.  Recorded at the long-gone Manhattan nightspot Slugs Saloon, Live at Slugs features Lloyd’s 1965 all-star quartet with guitarist Gabor Szabo, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Pete LaRoca.  Resonance describes the release:  “Slugs was a staple of the Manhattan Jazz Scene from 1965 to 1972, and was the intersection of music and counterculture. Live at Slugs was recorded by Swedish visionary Bjorn von Schlebrugge, who accompanied Lloyd to his Manhattan gigs. This release features the earliest recording of the Charles Lloyd classic composition “Dream Weaver,” (which would later be recorded with Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette for Atlantic Records on the album of the same name). The interplay between the musicians is remarkable, especially the musical dialogue between Lloyd and Szabo which goes back to their days together, playing with the late, great, Chico Hamilton. This special limited edition 10-inch record is to commemorate the upcoming Charles Lloyd release Manhattan Stories, out later this year on Resonance Records.”  The RSD-exclusive vinyl pressing at 33-1/3 RPM is limited to 2,000 copies worldwide.

After the jump: what does Resonance have planned from John Coltrane?  Plus: full track listings for all releases! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 16, 2014 at 09:59

Review: Miles Davis, “Miles at the Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3″

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Miles at the FillmoreMiles Davis was never one to embrace the predictable. When many of his peers were turning to orchestrated pop-jazz and embellishing the era’s AM radio hits, he was embracing rock and roll – not just the sound, but moreover, the spirit – with the vivacity of a younger man. Davis was 44 when he stepped onstage at Manhattan’s Fillmore East for the series of concerts recently issued in full for the very first time as the third volume of his Bootleg Series.  The title, Miles at the Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3, might be a bit unwieldy, but within its four discs there’s a striking, angular beauty.

This isn’t easily digestible music. Much of it is ferocious and frenzied, with a rock pulse underpinning the uninhibited, unpredictable improvisations of Davis and his six cohorts. The sets performed by the great trumpeter on June 17-20, 1970 with Steve Grossman (tenor and soprano saxophones), Chick Corea (electric piano), Keith Jarrett (organ, tambourine), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums) and Airto Moreira (percussion, flute) were exceedingly light on melody and traditional harmony, and heavy on sonic exploration. When preparing the original 2-LP set Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East in 1970, Davis’ longtime producer Teo Macero boiled down each of the four nights’ performances into one sound collage. The four “suites” were then each placed on one side of vinyl. This deluxe 4-CD package presents the four evenings in full, plus bonus tracks culled from the April 11 performances at sister venue The Fillmore West. In total, there’s roughly 100 minutes of never-before-released music from Wednesday through Saturday, with additional 35 or so minutes from the San Francisco show.

The core of Davis’ sets remained the same each evening. Joe Zawinul’s funky “Directions” (first recorded by Davis in the studio in November 1968, and played every night from 1969-1971, but not issued on record until 1980) kicked off the proceedings, followed by “The Mask,” a new composition that Davis recorded two weeks before the Fillmore East shows near the end of the Jack Johnson sessions. “It’s About That Time” from 1969’s In a Silent Way followed, and then the title track of the just-released Bitches Brew. The only other piece performed every night was the brief, inevitable closer, “The Theme.” While those five were the only songs played at the opening Wednesday show, Davis and his remarkable band spiced up each of the following sets. Bitches’ “Spanish Key” appeared as a rare encore on Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, a surprising return to the standard repertoire with “I Fall in Love Too Easily” led into former Davis saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s “Sanctuary.” (On Bitches Brew, “Sanctuary” begins with Davis and Corea improvising on the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne tune before stating Shorter’s theme.) Saturday’s packed set retained “Fall in Love” and “Sanctuary” but also added the oddly-named “Willie Nelson,” first played by Davis during the Jack Johnson sessions.

The artist who once said he took inspiration from Frank Sinatra in learning how to “sing” on his trumpet was, at the Fillmore, taking his cues from the amped-up spirit and fire of Jimi Hendrix – albeit with even less adherence to convention. The electricity onstage, both literally and figuratively, couldn’t have happened without a fully committed band behind the leader, however. The Fillmore East recordings are perhaps most significant because both Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea played in the group together for only a three month-period, and their rare work together is very nearly the engine that propels the music forward. Jarrett and Corea’s electric piano and organ, respectively, play with a sharp, searing intensity. Their sounds are as forceful and as prominent as an electric guitar on a “rock” recording might be. In fact, they take on the characteristics of the electric guitar as they duel and shred, with Jarrett using plenty of wah-wah, and Corea pushing the limits of the Fender Rhodes. The teamwork of Corea and Jarrett could be interpreted as one-upmanship, so in synch are the two players as they swirl around one another, intersecting and engaging and challenging each other.

Don’t miss a thing; hit the jump to keep reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 15, 2014 at 13:16

Posted in Miles Davis, News, Reviews

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Varese Goes On A Record Store Day “Odessey” With The Zombies, The Everly Brothers, Norman Greenbaum [UPDATED]

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Odessey and OracleUPDATED 4/15: It’s the time of the season for Varese Sarabande’s Vintage imprint.  The label has recently announced its four limited edition vinyl offerings for this April 19’s Record Store Day, with two LPs from The Zombies plus goodies from The Everly Brothers, and Norman Greenbaum.  We also have details on the label’s vinyl Genesis reissue coming later this year.

Initially rejected by Clive Davis and then championed by Al Kooper, The Zombies’ 1968 Odessey and Oracle remains the British band’s most beloved album.  Rod Argent reflected on it in the liner notes to Rhino’s 1987 reissue: “The songs were inspired by a variety of influences, but they were songs which came from our hearts. They were not the result of a producer or record company imposing their views of what a hit single might be. Some of the songs were romantic, others sparked by literature (‘Butchers Tale,’ ‘Brief Candles’) – ‘A Rose for Emily’ was inspired by a Faulkner short story. Chris reflected on his experience growing up near Beechwood Park in his song of that name. ‘Time of the Season’ was actually influenced by Smokey Robinson’s ‘The Tracks of My Tears.’”  All of these diverse influences added up to a haunting, intricate song cycle with baroque orchestration, psychedelia, blues and rock hand-in-hand.  For RSD, Varese is returning Odessey to vinyl in its original stereo mix.  It will be joined by The Zombies, in mono.  This LP dates to 1966, when it was released by the band’s original label Decca as I Love You in Europe and Japan only.  I Love You compiled twelve single sides (including the hit “She’s Not There”) onto one LP; Varese gave the album its first U.S. release in 2004 on CD in a reworked and expanded edition.  Now it’s appearing for the first time on vinyl in the United States.

Songs Our Daddy Taught UsThe Everly Brothers’ 1958 LP Songs Our Daddy Taught Us was recently covered, song-for-song, by the odd couple duo of Norah Jones and Billie Jo Armstrong as Foreverly.  Just a couple of weeks ago, Varese reissued this classic collection on CD with six previously unissued bonus tracks.  On RSD, the original 12-track Cadence album returns to vinyl.  Far cries from hits like “Bye Bye Love” and “Bird Dog,” these Songs were passed down to Don and Phil from their father, concerned with the likes of murder, thievery, jail and aging.  Though Songs wasn’t commercially successful at the time, it’s since been rediscovered as a true cornerstone of Americana.  (Look for our review of Varese’s reissue in the days prior to Record Store Day!)

After the jump: we’ll look at Varese’s offerings from Genesis and Norman Greenbaum…plus full track listings for all five titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 15, 2014 at 10:55

Release Round-Up: Week of April 15

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Bee Gees - Warner Bros. YearsBee Gees, The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

A new five-disc box collates the Bee Gees’ E.S.P. (1987), One (1989) and High Civilization (1991) – the first two of which have bonus tracks – and 1991′s One for All live concert, released for the first time on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Nas - IllmaticNas, Illmatic XX (Columbia/Legacy)

Queens’ favorite MC celebrates his landmark debut with a newly-expanded edition of the 1994 album with a bonus disc of rare remixes and unreleased tracks.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Donna LorenDonna Loren, These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings (Now Sounds)

Donna Loren is well-known for her appearances on television’s Shindig! and in the famous series of sixties Beach Party films, but Now Sounds’ new collection reveals her talents as a top-tier pop vocalist!  This expansive collection premieres previously unreleased material, and includes productions from David Axelrod and Steve Douglas, and arrangements by Jack Nitzsche, Billy Strange and H.B. Barnum – plus appearances by The Beau Brummels, Glen Campbell and the L.A. Wrecking Crew!  Look for Joe’s review Wednesday! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Black Sabbath boxBlack Sabbath, The Complete Albums 1970-1978 (Rhino)

A simple, compact box of all of Sabbath’s Ozzy-era albums. Perfect one-stop shopping! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Instant Funk Witch DoctorInstant Funk, Witch Doctor: Expanded Edition (Big Break Records)

The band’s second album for Salsoul, which followed up the hit single “I Got My Mind Made Up,” is remastered and expanded with three bonus tracks by BBR. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Lettermen First Four AlbumsThe Lettermen, The First Four Albums and More / Various Artists, Hard-to-Find Jukebox Classics 1963 (Eric)

Eric Records takes it back to the ’60s pop era with a two-disc compilation of albums from The Lettermen (including hit versions of “The Way You Look Tonight” and “When I Fall in Love,” plus 10 bonus tracks) and a set of rare singles and rarer mixes from 1963 (including the stereo debut of The Surfaris’ “Wipe Out”).

The Lettermen: Amazon U.S. (TBD) / Amazon U.K.
Hard to Find Jukebox ClassicsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 15, 2014 at 07:47

Hey Hey! They’re Boyce and Hart – And You Can Help Complete Their Documentary!

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Boyce and Hart Movie Poster

For a few years in the halcyon days of the sixties, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were on top of the world. Singers, songwriters and producers, Boyce and Hart – individually or collectively – were behind some of the most enduring hits of that era or any other: “Last Train to Clarksville,” “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone,” “Come a Little Bit Closer,” “Hurt So Bad,” “I Wanna Be Free,” “Valleri,” “Pretty Little Angel Eyes,” and of course, the immortal “Theme from The Monkees.” As if turning out hits for The Monkees and so many others wasn’t enough, Tommy and Bobby recorded three hip albums for A&M Records as a performing duo.  They reached the Top 10 in 1967 with “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite,” which crackles with youthful abandon, energy and, frankly, a killer AM radio-ready hook. Yet the Boyce and Hart story isn’t as well-known as the team’s most famous songs. That’s all about to change, however, with the upcoming release of Boyce and Hart: The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em. And this feature-length documentary needs your help.

The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em, for the first time, fixes the spotlight on the lives and career of Tommy Boyce (who died in 1994) and Bobby Hart (who is very much alive and a key participant/narrator in the film). It’s not Boyce and Hart’s first brush with the silver screen; the team wrote music for such motion pictures as The Ambushers and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. On television, the duo also had a high profile. Not only were they The Monkees’ favorite and most recorded songwriters, but the telegenic tunesmiths made appearances on I Dream of Jeannie (opposite no less a personage than Phil Spector!), The Flying Nun and Bewitched. On the latter sitcom, Tommy and Bobby played what was arguably their grooviest concert ever – at the otherworldly affair for the elite “in crowd” of witches and warlocks, The Cosmos Cotillion! Elizabeth Montgomery even joined them during the episode to perform their 1969 single “A Kiss in the Wind” as good witch Samantha’s deliciously scheming cousin Serena. Samantha hoped to send those “howling hippies” back to Earth, but even she couldn’t help dancing along!

In addition to their work onscreen and on record, Boyce and Hart also were active participants in the sixties political revolution. Their final A&M single was entitled “L.U.V. (Let Us Vote),” and advocated for the right of teenagers to vote and the voting age to be reduced to eighteen. But by the end of the decade, the duo had broken up, torn apart by personal and professional conflicts. In the mid-seventies, however, they were reunited with The Monkees’ Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart, touring around the world and releasing both a studio and a live album. After the new group disbanded, they turned their attention once again to solo endeavors. Hart went on to receive an Academy Award nomination in 1983 for his song “Over You” for the film Tender Mercies; Boyce contributed to a number of recordings by artists including Iggy Pop and Darts.

The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em is a labor of love for writer-subject Hart, writer-producer-director Rachel Lichtman and writer-producer Andrew Sandoval. On such indispensable projects over the years as Varese Sarabande’s 1995 various-artists compilation The Songs of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and 2005’s A&M anthology I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight: The Best of Boyce and Hart – not to mention the numerous Monkees projects which he has spearheaded for the Rhino label – Sandoval has kept the B&H flame burning bright.  The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em promises to raise the duo’s profile even higher. According to the film’s official information, it has been compiled from “never-before-seen home movies, photographs and audio interviews combined with one-of-a-kind archival television clips, set against the Boyce and Hart songs that outsold both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined in 1967.” No, that’s not a misprint! Narrator Bobby Hart is joined in the film by Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Kim Fowley and Keith Allison, all of whom have given new interviews. (Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Allison is also the subject of Real Gone Music’s recent release In Action: The Complete Columbia Sides Plus! for which I provided the liner notes based on an interview with Keith. It features “Action Action Action” and “I Wanna Be Free,” both penned by Boyce and Hart!) Vintage commentary from the late Boyce is also featured as an integral part of the film.

Where do you come in? Hit the jump for full information on how you can be a part of this important undertaking! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 14, 2014 at 09:55

Big Break’s Big Round-Up: Label “Phreeks” Out with Patti LaBelle, Isaac Hayes, Gwen McCrae, More

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Isaac Hayes - For the Sake of Love

One of the busiest labels on the reissue front is undoubtedly Cherry Red Group’s Big Break Records imprint.  We’ve just turned the spotlight on BBR’s releases from Donna Summer and John Barry, and Leon Haywood and Carl Carlton, and The Salsoul Orchestra and Loleatta Holloway.  Coming up, we have reviews and features planned on titles from The Hues Corporation, Odyssey, and more.  But today, we’re taking a look at another handful of the busy BBR label’s most recent offerings – from top-tier R&B artists including Isaac Hayes, Patti LaBelle, Gwen McCrae and Patrick Adams!

  • Whether as an architect of the Stax Records sound in the sixties, the soulful Black Moses of the seventies or even as “Chef” on television’s South Park in the nineties and beyond, Isaac Hayes made a cultural impact spanning generations.  The late seventies weren’t quite Hayes’ salad days, however.  But even if Hayes struggled both personally and creatively during the period, it wasn’t all barren.  BBR has recently remastered and expanded two of Hayes’ Polydor albums from the period following his tenures at Stax and ABC.  1978’s For the Sake of Love, in true Hayes fashion, featured just six smoldering tracks.  Its diverse selections featured originals by Hayes (including the title track and the funky Top 20 R&B hit “Zeke the Freak”) plus reinventions of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” and James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” and even a danceable makeover of Hayes’ own “Shaft” as “Shaft II.”

Isaac Hayes - And Once Again

  • Hayes followed the LP up with Don’t Let Go, the disco-fied title track of which returned him to the pop chart, and then with 1980’s And Once Again.  (Like Hayes’ Polydor debut New Horizon, Don’t Let Go has already received a reissue from BBR.)  Hayes crooned, rapped, blew his saxophone and generally threw himself into the album’s set of just five songs including a reworking of Tommy Edwards’ oldie “It’s All in the Game.”  Many a tear didn’t have to fall for Hayes, though, as And Once Again yielded minor hits both with “Game” and the album’s lone up-tempo track, “I Ain’t Never.”  Equally impressive was his epic take on “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter,” best known in Angela Bofill’s rendition.  BBR has added two bonus cuts to For the Sake of Love and four to And Once Again (see full track listings below).  Both discs have been remastered by Kevin Reeves and annotated by J. Matthew Cobb.  Both Hayes albums are reissued in Super Jewel Boxes.

After the jump: Miss Patti LaBelle, Gwen McCrae and Phreek…plus full track listings and order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 11, 2014 at 09:54

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