Archive for November 22nd, 2011
One of the lynchpin songs on Elvis Presley’s 1971 Elvis Country was the singer’s reading of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away.” Presley undoubtedly connected with Nelson’s lyrics: “Well, hello there/My, it’s been a long, long time/How am I doing?/Oh, I guess that I’m doing fine…” Though Nelson’s narrator is addressing an old flame, Elvis could have been speaking directly to his fans. When Elvis walked through the doors of RCA’s Nashville Studio B in June 1970, the last time Elvis had set foot in any recording studio was in March 1969 for his co-starring film vehicle with Mary Tyler Moore, Change of Habit. His last original studio album was even earlier, in 1969. That was when he recorded in Memphis with producer Chips Moman, resulting in the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis LP. What would listeners expect from the album that came out of those June 1970 sessions and their follow-up date in September? Despite Elvis’ recent triumphs onstage at Las Vegas’ International Hotel and a record-breaking stint at the Houston Astrodome, few would have predicted the inspired conceptual classic Elvis Country.
Elvis Country and its “sequel” Love Letters from Elvis, drawn from the same sessions and released just months later, are being combined into one 2-CD set from RCA and Legacy Recordings under the Legacy Edition banner. Due on January 3, the Legacy Edition will mark the first Presley release of 2012, with a “full schedule” of reissues promised by Legacy and longtime archivists/producers Ernst Mikael Jorgensen and Roger Semon. Both albums have been expanded by associated singles and outtakes. Elvis Country debuted January 23, 1971 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album peaked at No. 12, spent 21 weeks on the chart, and was certified RIAA Gold. Three bonus tracks are drawn from the original recording sessions of June and September 1970. On the second disc, the 11-song Love Letters from Elvis was derived from the same June sessions. Love Letters made its chart debut on June 26, 1971, peaked at No. 33 and spent a none-too-shabby 15 weeks on the chart. It is also presented with three bonus tracks from the original sessions.
Elvis Country stands apart from the King’s other studio albums in its conceptual strength. Though the song “I Was Born About Ten Thousand Years Ago” didn’t appear on the album in full, excerpts from the track were strung between songs for an approach that had never before been taken on a Presley LP. The country classics tackled by Elvis might as well have been from ten thousand years ago, so ingrained were they in the performer even as he was embarking on a more flashy, more glitzy path in Las Vegas. I’m 10,000 Years Old even became the album’s subtitle. There were, of course, ballads, delivered in Presley’s booming voice with high drama. But Presley returned to rock with a smoking version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and an emphatic “I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water.” An unexpected highlight was Presley’s album-opening cover of Anne Murray’s “Songbird,” proving his acumen for contemporary material was still high.
Elvis was joined at these June 1970 sessions by a new band assembled by producer Felton Jarvis. Chip Young (guitar) and Charlie McCoy (harmonica) were familiar to Elvis, and three members were part of the original Muscle Shoals sound: bassist Norbert Putnam, pianist David Briggs, and drummer Jerry Carrigan. Of course, guitar legend James Burton was on hand to take care of business! The idea of a country-themed album began to take shape once both singer and band realized they had stumbled on a particularly successful groove.
Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »
It looks like it finally may be time to end the classic chapter of alt-rock icons New Order, with the upcoming release of a set of outtakes from the band’s 2005 album Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, their last album with original bassist Peter Hook.
Recent years have been tough for longtime fans of the band. The British outfit formed out of improbable circumstances – the tragic suicide of Ian Curtis, frontman for Joy Division, caused the band to rename itself and shift direction toward danceable, explicitly electronic music – and enjoyed a wave of success in their native land (and occasionally abroad) for most of the ’80s and ’90s.
Their late-’90s return from hiatus, which yielded two albums in 2001 and 2005, was seemingly cut short years later, when Hook repeatedly divulged to media outlets that he and singer/guitarist Bernard Sumner had severed their musical partnership. Sumner and drummer Stephen Morris repeatedly denied the rumors of a New Order split as Hook continued to tell all those interested that the band was essentially through.
While Sumner finally admitted that New Order looked done in an interview with The Guardian last summer, the band announced their reformation (without Hook, naturally) in September, with live dates ongoing through December. Days before that announcement, Hook spoke to Slicing Up Eyeballs about releasing a handful of outtakes from their last album as a way of delivering closure to the band’s semi-dissolution. Now, it seems that those outtakes, under the title Lost Sirens, will come out next month.
Almost all of the eight tracks on the album are unheard, except for “Hellbent,” the lone new track on Total, the Joy Division/New Order compilation released earlier this year. Interestingly, retailers indicate that the set will be available on CD and vinyl in the same package, with no separate versions available.
Amazon’s U.K. pre-order link indicates a December 12 release. Until then, read the track list after the jump.
If you don’t know the name Neal Hefti, you undoubtedly know the man’s music…whether it’s the indelible, insinuating, harpsichord-and-brass theme to The Odd Couple, or the frenetic, groovy Batman theme from the Caped Crusader’s campy television show. And Quincy Jones, the man known as Q, needs no introduction. Like Hefti a veteran of jazz and big band, Jones’ trailblazing productions on landmark albums such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller (to name just one) ensured his place in the pantheon. Today, the Kritzerland label announced the CD debut of two rare soundtrack recordings on CD: Neil Hefti’s 1965 Synanon and Quincy Jones’ 1967 Enter Laughing. Though the films themselves are quite different, the pairing of these two cool sixties scores makes for a cohesive listening experience. Hefti and Jones shared many experiences, and as Hefti was writing the score for Synanon, Jones had just replaced the older gentleman at the podium for Frank Sinatra’s second collaborative album with Count Basie, It Might As Well Be Swing. Hefti, of course, had conducted the first Sinatra/Basie recording and was a veteran of the Basie band.
Director Richard Quine’s 1965 Synanon was named for the real-life drug rehabilitation center it depicted. Edmond O’Brien depicted Charles E. Dederich, the center’s founder, while the film is dotted with stars like Eartha Kitt, Stella Stevens and Chuck Connors. TV Guide wrote that “a realistic portrayal of drug addicts trying to kick the habit is obtained by Quine and company through the use of the actual rehabilitation house which served as the inspiration for the film, Synanon House in Santa Monica, California,” and lauded O’Brien for his “commendable” performance. Hefti’s score was only his third, but he already had a firm grip on a signature melodic sound. He contributes an atmospheric main theme befitting the drama, but the score also incorporates jazz, swing and ballads.
Quincy Jones made his film scoring debut the same year as Neal Hefti, 1964. The multi-talented Jones was, like Hefti, an accomplished arranger, composer and conductor with roots in big band jazz. He was signed to pen the score for Carl Reiner’s Enter Laughing, based on Reiner’s own novel (subsequently adapted into a Broadway play by Joseph Stein, who later musicalized it with a score by Stan Daniels of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. We’ll save that one for another column!) Reiner, already a comedy giant thanks to The Dick Van Dyke Show, assembled an A-list of actors: Janet Margolin, Jose Ferrer, Elaine May, Jack Gilford, Don Rickles, Shelley Winters, and Michael J. Pollard among them! (How refreshing to see Reiner, Rickles and May all still very active today!) Reni Santoni stepped into the role of David Kolowitz, the Reiner analogue. Richard Deacon (of the Van Dyke Show) made an appearance as did Reiner’s young son Rob! The 1967 film was noted by The New York Times as Reiner’s “jovial reminiscence of his experiences as a stagestruck New York lad,” and Jones’ upbeat score captures that spirit perfectly. Mel Carter (“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”) performs the title song, and Carl Reiner himself has two vocals!
Synanon/Enter Laughing is available now for pre-order from Kritzerland for $19.98 plus shipping. The 1,000-copy limited edition is due to ship the third week of December, but those who have pre-ordered in the past from Kritzerland know that the label ships one to five weeks earlier than that date. Hit the jump for the full track listing with discography, plus the label’s press release with plenty more tidbits on these films! Read the rest of this entry »
It seems that the rush of catalogue titles for 2012 is starting earlier than normal. This week, we’ve already seen a lot of announcements and plans from the major labels, the likes of which are probably going to get us through the rest of the calendar year as day-to-day news goes.
The advance notice trend is hitting some of the indie labels, too – Funky Town Grooves just announced a bumper crop of expanded releases for January and February. And we think some of them will be right up your alley.
In the tradition of Big Break’s expanded edition of André Cymone’s A.C., FTG announces expansions of the other two of the former Prince bassist’s solo albums for Columbia. While Livin’ in the New Wave (1982) and Survivin’ in the 80’s (1983) don’t feature any contributions from His Royal Badness (as A.C. had the Prince-penned “The Dance Electric”), they’re definitely essential listens for those interested in the forging of the Minneapolis sound. Each title is expanded with four single-only remixes apiece, some of which were only released on promo discs.
Another pair of releases is also coming from Nona Hendryx. Though she’s probably best known as a third of LaBelle, she had a moderately successful career in the mid-’80s with a series of danceable LPs, first on Epic and then RCA. The latter label saw her first brush with chart success, as 1982’s Nona placed on both the pop and R&B album charts and spawned a minor hit in “Keep It Confidential.” Nona and its successor, The Art of Defense, will each be expanded with seven vintage remixes and edits. (The final RCA album, The Heat, was reissued by FTG earlier this year.)
Finally, the first quarter slate also brings news of a Jackson: La Toya, whose 1986 obscurity Imagination will get the red carpet treatment from Funky Town Grooves. While her previous LP, 1984’s Heart Don’t Lie, was a relative critical and commercial success, Imagination is often forgotten thanks to its release on the Private I label, which was in the process of folding just about the time the album was released. Three remixes of the title track and an instrumental of the single “Baby Sister” are added to the disc.
All titles have been remastered from the original master tapes and are able to be pre-ordered at the links after the jump (current pre-orders will get a discounted price of $2 off each title). Imagination and Nona have a street date of January 14, while the others are due out February 20.