Archive for February 27th, 2012
Sure, now The Funk Brothers, Motown Records’ legendary in-house band, are notable names to pop and soul aficionados, thanks in large part to 2002′s Standing in the Shadows of Motown documentary and its Grammy-winning soundtrack. But for nearly the entire golden age of the Detroit label, the group was kept away from the spotlight. Hip-o Select’s newest title collects, for the first time on CD, the sole exception to that rule.
In 1965, Motown quietly released That Motown Sound, an album credited to Earl Van Dyke and The Soul Brothers. It’s not hard to guess who makes up the group (though label founder Berry Gordy insisted on the name change from “funk” to “soul”), and the familiar hit songs played on the album, including “Come See About Me,” “My Girl” and “Money (That’s What I Want)” are in fact the original backing tracks with new keyboard overdubs by Van Dyke, the band’s main keyboardist.
Van Dyke and the band were recording more sides even while laying down some of the most notable grooves in pop history. Some, including “Soul Stomp” and “The Flick,” were released as singles on Motown’s Soul imprint; many were left in the fabled vaults. A 1970 live album, The Earl of Funk, saw the band run through live covers of Motown hits as well as tracks by Ben E. King, Jimmy Webb, The Meters and Sly and The Family Stone.
The Funk Brothers moniker would be largely unused by the end of the decade (although Marvin Gaye credited them by name for the first time on 1971′s What’s Going On), and Van Dyke passed away in 1992 at the age of 62. But the legacy lives on like never before in this new, two-disc set, featuring both complete Van Dyke albums in stereo, all the non-LP sides and nine unreleased tracks. The set, housed in a digipak, also boasts new liner notes by Allan Slutsky, who penned the original Standing in the Shadows of Motown book and produced the documentary of the same name.
You can pre-order the set after the jump (the shipping date is listed as March 6), and get a look at the track list as well.
- Yesterday, February 26, would have been the 80th birthday of Johnny Cash, and his family tells Rolling Stone that there are quite a few festivities planned – and that includes some catalogue activity. We already know about Legacy’s Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth in April, which collects rare and unreleased gospel material from the ’70s and ’80s. But the RS story also hints at a possible seventh volume of Cash’s American Recordings series as well as a possible PopMarket-style box of “everything Cash released on Sun and Columbia Records in the first three decades of his recording career, along with unreleased music.”
- It looks like one of the biggest shoo-in anniversary reissues of the year is one step closer to reality: NME reports that The Sex Pistols have signed to Universal Music Catalogue in the U.K. ahead of a forthcoming 35th anniversary expansion of iconic LP Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols. The album was originally released by Virgin in 1977.
Review: Carole King, “The Carole King Collection: Simple Things, Welcome Home, Touch the Sky, and Pearls”
Carole King was ready for a fresh start in 1977. She had recently split from manager/producer Lou Adler’s Ode Records, the label with which she had signed back in 1968 as the lead singer of The City. It was, of course, at Ode where King triumphed with Tapestry, and over the years introduced a parade of memorable songs like “It’s Too Late,” “So Far Away,” You’ve Got a Friend,” “Sweet Seasons,” “Been to Canaan” and “Jazzman.” Yet the four albums recorded by King at Capitol between 1977 and 1980 have been overlooked since their original releases; all but one had never been domestically released on compact disc. Through her own Rockingale Records label and Concord Music Group, King has now reissued Simple Things (RKG 33601-02), Welcome Home (RKG-33597-02), Touch the Sky (RKG-33599-02) and Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King (RKG-33603-02) as The Carole King Collection. This quartet fills in a major gap in King’s catalogue, and there’s plenty to rediscover!
King’s band Navarro took the place of her Ode-era stalwarts like Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar and second husband Charles Larkey. But despite the fine musicianship of Navarro (guitarists Rob McEntee and Mark Hallman, bassist Rob Galloway, drummer Michael Wooten, percussionist Miguel Rivera and flutist/saxophonist Richard Hardy), the sound of Simple Things doesn’t stray too far from King’s stylistic signature. The title track “Simple Things,” co-written with King’s third husband, Rick Evers, features that same warm acoustic sound, augmented with a subtle string arrangement. King embraced a “back to nature” outlook both in life and in song, relocating with Evers to his home state of Idaho: “Simple things mean a lot to me/Some things only children can see/Simple things, like horses running free/And easy acceptance of life.” In making this life change, King had discovered an answer to friend and collaborator James Taylor’s “Secret o’ Life.” She even concludes in song, “The secret of living is life.” The album begins with “Simple Things” and ends with a reprise of the same sentiments in “One”: “He is one, she is one/A tree is one, the earth is one, the universe is one/I am one, we are one.”
Evers was King’s only co-writer for the LP, with three songs to his credit; the remaining seven compositions were all from King’s pen alone. He also contributed guitar to a couple of songs, with King herself stepping from behind the piano to play guitar on “Hold On.” She’s in fantastic voice throughout the album, contributing strong vocals and harmonies to ballads like the beautiful, piano-driven “In the Name of Love” and “Time Alone.” Richard Hardy fills in for Tom Scott for the jazzy saxophone on “Labyrinth,” and the beguiling Latin rhythms of Ode hit “Corazon” get a new spin on one of the most memorable tracks off Simple Things, “Hard Rock Café” – no relation to the chain of restaurants founded in 1971! Elsewhere, King and Navarro credibly rock on “You’re the One Who Knows” and “God Only Knows,” although the latter pales in comparison to another, rather better-known song of the same name. It’s hard not to read into the lyrics of “To Know That I Love You,” on which King sounds blissful in love: “Over and over again, we light the flame/Rediscovering that we are the same/And I love you.” Evers joins her for a duet on this touching paean to a deeply felt romance. Simple Things may be the great lost album of King’s long career, with the title song, “Hard Rock Café” and “In the Name of Love” all able to stand alongside her most sterling accomplishments.
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There’s plenty of buzz over here about Universal U.K.’s upcoming Small Faces remasters, but another project of Small Faces frontman Steve Marriott is also getting some reissue love. Marriott left the Small Faces in late 1968 to join Peter Frampton, Greg Ridley and Jerry Shirley in Humble Pie, free of the pop expectations of his former band. Signed to Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label, also home to the Small Faces, Humble Pie launched its career with 1969’s As Safe as Yesterday Is. For its series of three remastered original albums, Cherry Red’s Lemon Recordings imprint is looking forward, though, to the band’s time at Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ A&M Records between 1970 and 1975. On March 27, Lemon will reissue Humble Pie (1970), Eat It (1973) and Thunderbox (1974) in remastered editions with new liner notes drawing on interviews with the band members. The series does not include the two studio albums that arrived between Humble Pie and Eat It, namely Rock On (1971) and Smokin’ (1972).
Humble Pie’s first single,” Natural Born Woman” (or “Natural Born Boogie,” augured for great things to come. A U.K. Top 10 hit right out of the gate, it was inevitable that the single would lead to a full album by the recently-formed unit. As Safe as Yesterday emphasized the band’s blues-rock sound, though not without touches of folk and pop. Rolling Stone’s Mike Saunders is considered by some to have coined an entire sub-genre of rock when he described the album as “Here, Humble Pie were a noisy, unmelodic, heavy metal-leaden shit-rock band, with the loud and noisy parts beyond doubt.” (Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” and its “heavy metal thunder” lyric, however, is likely the phrase’s first usage in a rock context.) The band’s second album, Town and Country, was a somewhat quieter affair, even featuring a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat.”
Hit the jump for details on Lemon’s new editions! Read the rest of this entry »