Archive for January 16th, 2012
When The Monkees’ Instant Replay was released in February 1969, less than three years had passed since the band’s vinyl debut in October 1966. But the pop world of 1966 might have been a lifetime ago. Five days before Instant Replay’s February 15 release, The Beach Boys unveiled the album 20/20, on which America’s band surreptitiously recorded a song by Charles Manson. Two days after, The Temptations skyrocketed to Cloud Nine, meeting psychedelia head-on. By the year’s end, the dream of peace that had flowered at Woodstock seemed shattered in the violence of a Rolling Stones concert at California’s Altamont Speedway. It was into this heady time that Instant Replay was released, the product of a fractured group of Monkees. Peter Tork had departed the group after filming the 33-1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee television special in December 1968, which would air to disastrous ratings the following April. Instant Replay fared somewhat better, climbing to No. 32 to stake its claim as The Monkees’ final Top 40 album. The album’s production period was not without tension, and Michael Nesmith would depart the band after just one more album, leaving Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones to soldier on as the lone Monkees as 1970 progressed. Instant Replay is unmistakably the sound of a fractured group, with Nesmith having assessed it as “a final choking cough of the engine before it completely died.” Andrew Sandoval to the rescue! The producer has uncovered enough hidden treasures to warrant its journey from a 12-track LP to a 19-track CD in 1995 to finally, a lavish 89-track box set containing three CDs and one 45 RPM vinyl single (Rhino Handmade RHM2 528791, 2011).
Instant Replay is marked chiefly by the sound of three individuals rather than a band. It’s tempting to call the album the Monkee equivalent of The White Album, but a more accurate comparison might be to a hypothetical LP containing tracks from McCartney, All Things Must Pass, Plastic Ono Band and yes, Ringo’s Sentimental Journey! The grab-bag of songs is disparate and varied, and don’t sound as if they necessarily belong on the same album; the remaining band members originally intended the LP to echo the sounds of the past while still looking musically forward. The greatly expanded content of the box set works in the album’s favor, illuminating each nook and cranny of what once resembled a crazy quilt of Monkee music.
The three discs of the new Instant Replay are largely arranged by mixes. The first disc is dedicated to stereo and contains a newly-remastered and restored transfer of the original album, expanded with 16 additional stereo mixes including “nearly all” of Nesmith’s 1968 Nashville sessions (more on those soon). Disc Two is all-mono, which is particularly intriguing as Instant Replay was never issued in true mono. (The Birds, The Bees and the Monkees was the band’s last Colgems album to see such a release.) But most of the album’s songs were mixed into mono, so those tracks make their first appearances here. Rare and unreleased recordings round out the disc. Finally, Disc 3 is subtitled “Sessions,” and two thirds of the disc is devoted to backing tracks, though the completed songs from the surviving video master of 33-1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee should intrigue even the most difficult to please fan of the group!
Hit the jump and go Instantly into more Monkee-mania! Read the rest of this entry »
Cherry Red’s stable of reissue labels has become a little bigger: this month, the group established a new imprint, Hot Shot Records, that looks to expand the horizons of reissues for pop and dance hits of yesteryear.
Established under the group’s thriving Big Break Records label, Hot Shot’s mission, according to its Facebook page, is “to breathe life back into a variety of smart pop, dance gems and hidden treasures.” From its outset, it looks like the label is looking to make a mark with forgotten gems of the 1980s – the first title, available to order now, is an expansion of Like Gangbusters, the 1983 debut by JoBoxers which yielded U.K. Top 10 hit “Just Got Lucky.” The disc includes the remastered 10-track album with another 10 B-sides and remixes – the usual par for the course from Cherry Red’s discography.
And future titles, announced through Facebook, indicate a continuation of the British New Wave/soul of the decade, with planned expansions of ‘Til Tuesday’s thrilling debut Voices Carry (1985) and New York at Dawn (1983), the sole album by Elbow Bones and The Racketeers, a big band/disco-inspired outfit overseen by August Darnell, best known by his Latin-flavored alter ego Kid Creole.
Best of luck to Cherry Red with their new venture, which you can partake in by getting your copy of the expanded Like Gangbusters after the jump.
England, Russia, China, Africa, Egypt, Israel…all of the above are stops on the O’Jays’ perennial “Love Train.” We all know that the train started in Philadelphia, home to Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, the song’s writer-producers, and Thom Bell, its co-arranger (with Bobby Martin). But a new release from Philadelphia International Records and Legacy Recordings reveals another pivotal stop: San Francisco. For one remarkable night, brotherly love washed over the city by the bay. Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia 1973 is a 14-track live set due in stores on January 31, revisiting a crucial night for a label basking in the glow of its biggest successes yet.
Recorded on July 27, 1973, the concert was held at CBS Records’ company convention, and featured performances from the T.S.O.P. all-stars including Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass, The Three Degrees, Billy Paul, and the O’Jays. But the vocalists weren’t the only stars onstage, as the MFSB (that’s “Mother, Father, Sister, Brother,” unless you prefer your acronyms of the blue variety, in which case you can use your imagination…) Orchestra that evening counted among its 35 members two architects of the Philadelphia sound: Leon Huff and Thom Bell on piano and organ, respectively. Huff and Bell were joined by a couple of Philly’s finest arrangers, Norman Harris and Bobby Eli (guitars), plus Earl Young (drums), Ronnie Baker (bass), Lenny Pakula (piano/keyboards), Jack Faith (saxophone), Vince Montana (vibes) and other notables. The group was conducted by another great duo, Bobby Martin and Richard Rome. In addition to supplying the orchestral bed for the vocalists, MFSB commanded the stage for two instrumental showcases: “Freddie’s Dead” and the familiar “T.S.O.P.” theme adopted by Soul Train.
What did this illustrious group have to prove? Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »