Archive for November 19th, 2010
This month has seen a resurgence of interest in The Sound of Music thanks to an impressive reissue of the film on Blu-Ray and another release of the classic film soundtrack on CD. Countless amounts of kids and adults have grown up on the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, made especially memorable by Julie Andrews as the free-spirited Maria Von Trapp – a role that earned her a second Oscar nomination, just one year after her win for Mary Poppins.
For this writer, it’s Poppins that remains Andrews’ most satisfying work, and it’s the subject of this week’s Friday Feature. Read on after the jump to learn about the movie and its winning music – a score sweeter than any spoonful of sugar.
If that name isn’t sounding particularly “reggae,” it’s because the artist – born Matthew Miller and raised in White Plains, New York – is a Hasidic Jewish artist. The juxtaposition of these two cultures – note-perfect in the reggae tradition, but sung by a bearded, soft-spoken man in traditional Hasidic garb – nonetheless made Matisyahu a notable act, and debut single “King Without a Crown,” first heard on breakthrough concert LP Live at Stubb’s (2005) and released from major-label debut Youth (2006), was a Top 30 hit.
Matisyahu has released another handful of albums since then, including most recent studio effort Light (2009), but Epic has taken the time to reissue the artist’s first-ever album, 2004′s Shake Off the Dust…Arise (recorded for indie label JDub), which had fallen out of print and commanded high prices on the secondary market. The physical disc is available through Matisyahu’s official Web site and can be downloaded through the usual providers.
Hit the jump to see the track list. Read the rest of this entry »
In the final part of our Apple Records series, we open the import-only Apple Box Set and spin the label’s first-ever “greatest hits” set.
While the label only lasted a tumultuous seven years between 1968 and 1976, the legacy of Apple Records survives on today’s radio airwaves: “Those Were the Days.” “Day After Day.” “Come and Get It.” Notwithstanding The Beatles’ albums, both solo and as a group, that bore the famous label design, there was no shortage of great music emanating from the Savile Row offices.
While the early 1990s brought the first round of expanded Apple remasters for the CD age, EMI’s current program offers two unique items for the very first time. The logical jumping-on point is the first ever compilation of Apple’s best, expectedly titled Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records (Apple/EMI 50999 646397 2 7). While no Beatles tracks are included (one or two might have been welcome, but such tracks could easily have overshadowed the other artists), all four Fabs are represented in this enjoyable set.
What makes this compilation so special, however, isn’t the presence of the three songs above, or the other familiar titles (including James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind” and Billy Preston’s “My Sweet Lord”) but the rare songs, many making first-ever CD debuts. Between 1968 and 1973, the label released around 50 singles by non-Beatles artists, and this collection brings together 21 of the best. (Only a complete singles anthology would have been preferable, and perhaps one might still appear at a later date!) With an eclectic variety of artists represented, Come and Get It is a fun listen from start to finish.
Of the tracks unavailable elsewhere, there are many highlights. The Black Dyke Mills Band’s “Thingumybob,” the theme to a short-lived television series starring Stanley Holloway (My Fair Lady) is jarring on disc, coming after the lush baroque symphony of the Iveys’ “Maybe Tomorrow.” But Paul McCartney’s delicious oom-pah-pah theme reaffirms his affinity for the classic British melody, and this is a fine companion to “Penny Lane” or “When I’m Sixty-Four.” Perhaps the most controversial track on the set, and a most welcome addition, is Brute Force’s “King of Fuh.” You either get it, or you don’t…and John Lennon certainly did. This naughty lyrical novelty (“All hail the Fuh King”) saw release as Apple 8, although the run was strictly limited as EMI refused to manufacture a track of this nature! Of course, the King received absolutely no airplay, but the Fuh King lives on.
There are a few rare Apple renditions of familiar songs penned by the Fabs. The Hot Chocolate Band’s reggae-fied take on “Give Peace a Chance” found a fan in John Lennon, despite the lyrical additions and changes made in its impromptu recording session. (The released recording, heard here, was actually a demo that found its way to the Apple offices!) Trash’s version of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” was released only one week after Abbey Road, and hews closely to the Beatles original.
Phil Spector makes a couple of appearances here, most significantly with Ronnie Spector’s terrific recording of George Harrison’s “Try Some, Buy Some,” orchestrated by John Barham and produced by Phil and George. (Too bad its B-side “Tandoori Chicken” didn’t make the cut.) Spector also co-produced Bill Elliot and the Elastic Oz Band’s “God Save Us,” written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in support of Oz, a magazine embroiled in an obscenity case in 1971. Elliot would go on to form half of Splinter, signed by George Harrison’s Dark Horse label. Dark Horse’s roster, of course, awaits rediscovery.
Ringo Starr vouched for Chris Hodge, whose “We’re on Our Way” is a trashy bubblegum track about UFOs that appealed to T. Rex fan Starr. “Saturday Nite Special,” by The Sundown Playboys, caught Apple’s ear with this joyful Cajun track, while Lon and Derrek van Eaton, one of the last acts signed to Apple, are heard with their pleasant if unexceptional pop track, “Sweet Music.”
The 12-page booklet is attractive, with copious track-by-track notes (as always, by Andy Davis) and sleeve illustrations. Oddly, the catalogue numbers are missing from the discographical information provided for each track. We look inside The Apple Box Set after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »