Archive for May 14th, 2012
What defines country music? The answer isn’t an easy one. Dolly Parton is undoubtedly singing a country-and-western song when she reminisces about “My Tennessee Mountain Home,” but how about when she’s warbling “Here You Come Again” by the Brill Building team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil? Are Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift country artists as pop stars, or pop stars as country artists? Billboard recently described none other than Bruce Springsteen as “a symbolic fencepost in modern country.” Clearly, country music comes in all varieties. This hasn’t been lost on the fine folks at Real Gone Music, who have recently issued a group of country-themed collections that are about as different as different can be. The artists are three late troubadours: Cowboy Copas (1913-1963), Eddie Rabbitt (1941-1998) and Mel McDaniel (1942-2011). Real Gone’s three new compilations prove that these singers were able to carve out their own niches in the overall country-and-western landscape.
The Taylor Swifts of the world might be most indebted to Eddie Rabbitt, whose music practically defines “crossover country.” Perhaps this was due to his upbringing; Rabbitt was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised across the Hudson in East Orange, New Jersey, a highly unlikely breeding ground for a country music superstar. Rabbitt’s 13 Original # 1 Hits (Real Gone Music RGM-0047, 2012) is not one of Real Gone’s more comprehensive collections, but despite its brief running time, it nonetheless traces Rabbitt’s ascendancy from rising country star to pop crossover success.
Though Rabbitt made his debut on record in 1964, this collection of his thirteen No. 1s (on various charts) picks up in 1976. That was six years after Elvis Presley made the world take notice of Rabbitt when he recorded the songwriter’s “Kentucky Rain,” still a perennial favorite of the late King’s fans. Rabbitt remained a consistent hitmaker until 1986, and Real Gone has gone the extra mile in licensing these tracks from labels including Capitol, Warner Bros. and RCA. Rabbitt was equally comfortable as a songwriter and interpreter of others’ material, and was quite adaptable in musical styles.
The earliest track here is pure honky-tonk country, musically and lyrically (“Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind),” co-written with Even Stevens) but by the second song, from 1978, the change in Rabbitt’s style is pronounced. The piano is no longer rollicking but plaintive for the Alan Ray/Jeff Raymond composition “You Don’t Love Me Anymore,” a big, sumptuous pop ballad with not a twangy guitar in sight. Soon enough, strings and backing vocalists were added to the radio-ready equation (“I Just Want to Love You,” written by Rabbitt, Stevens and David Malloy) in a sound that was more AM pop than countrypolitan. The change paid off, with both songs hitting pole position on the C&W chart.
Rabbitt continued his climb atop the charts, bringing a light country flavor to pop tunes (the movie theme “Every Which Way But Loose”) or abandoning the Nashville overtones altogether (the slick, blue-eyed soul song “Suspicions”). His crossover gambits worked beautifully, as the endurance of smash hits like jukebox sing-along “I Love a Rainy Night” (No. 1 Pop, C&W and AC in 1980) and Crystal Gayle duet “You and I” (No. 1 C&W, No. 2 AC and No. 7 Pop) proves. The collection concludes with the romantic “Both to Each Other (Friends and Lovers)” which found Rabbitt joining Juice Newton in an attempt to recapture some of the magic of his Crystal Gayle duet. Bill Dahl offers a solid and informative essay to accompany 13 Original # 1 Hits, but unfortunately the booklet contains no discographical information to the original issue number of each single and chart positions.
The next release in Real Gone’s country trio comes from a contemporary of Rabbitt’s, Mel McDaniel. Hit the jump where you’ll find baby with her blue jeans on! Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been a winding road for Black Sabbath fans, likely anxious over the band’s somewhat perilous reunion late last year. Original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward announced their plans late last year to tour and release a new album in 2012 – a plan that’s been semi-sidelined by Iommi undergoing treatment for lymphoma and contractual disagreements with Ward. Only three dates have been announced for the band this year, including a pair of overseas gigs and a stint at Lollapalooza in August.
That said, Sanctuary, the controller of the band’s catalogue in Europe, is planning a modest push for new fans with the release of a new compilation this summer. Iron Man: The Best of Black Sabbath is a 14-track disc featuring material from six of the band’s first eight albums, all of which featured Osbourne as lead vocalist.
If you’ve purchased the many, many releases of the band’s back catalogue, there’s certainly nothing here you don’t already own. But new fans might want to spin “Paranoid,” “Iron Man,” “Snowblind” and other killer cuts, and they’ll have a shiny new disc with which to do so when this appears in shops on June 4.
Check out the track list after the jump.
Here’s some news fit for Page Three: ’80s pop tart Samantha Fox is expanding her first four albums on Cherry Pop Records this summer.
Touch Me (1986), Samantha Fox (1987), I Wanna Have Some Fun (1989) and Just One Night (1991) have all been digitally remastered and will be presented as double-disc sets featuring not only a heap of dance mixes, but a generous amount of rare and unreleased material from the vaults.
Fox gained immediate notoriety in 1983 when she became U.K. tabloid The Sun‘s youngest Page Three model at the tender age of 16. (Fox’s parents gave written consent for their daughter to pose topless, shocking the more conservative side of British culture.) Music was her first love, though; two years before, she formed her own band, S.F.X., and released a handful of singles on the Lamborghini label.
Several of those tracks are included on the expansion of Touch Me – among their first “official” releases on a Fox album. Hits including “Touch Me (I Want Your Body),” “Do Ya Do Ya (Wanna Please Me),” “Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” abound in various configurations on the sets, along with several vaulted tracks from Fox’s many collaborations with the production teams Stock Aitken Waterman and Full Force.
All four sets will be out in the U.K. on June 25, and you can order and preview them after the jump.
Within My World: Dave Clark’s “Time” Reissued, Features Freddie Mercury, Dionne Warwick, Julian Lennon, Cliff Richard, More
Today, London’s Dominion Theatre is home to We Will Rock You, a tongue-in-cheek “jukebox musical” featuring the music of Queen. That show is currently celebrating its 10th year at the Dominion, but even before the “Bohemian Rhapsody” chaps came to town, the Dominion was no stranger to mega-musicals from rock stars. In 1986, Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five put his name above the title of a lavish spectacle called Time. Clark collaborated on the musical’s book and lyrics with David Soames; the music was provided by Jeff Daniels (not the actor of the same name). Clark was also credited with “creating and devising” the elaborate stage production. The April 1986 debut of the musical starred Cliff Richard as The Rock Star, and Sir Laurence Olivier, the latter appearing as a pre-filmed holographic giant head (!) named Akash. Arlene Phillips (Starlight Express) contributed choreography along with director Larry Fuller (Evita, Merrily We Roll Along), and John Napier (Sunset Boulevard, Les Miserables) designed the massive production.
Time never received an original London Cast Recording, however, with Clark opting instead to release the show’s score as a star-filled, two-LP concept album prior to the London opening. Cliff Richard, of course, was enlisted to perform on the album, along with a “Who’s Who” of pop, rock and soul including Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Leo Sayer, Julian Lennon and the recently-reunited team of Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach. Olivier appeared on the Time album, as well. Close your eyes and picture the great actor intoning dialogue such as this:
Stand before me on the Sign of Infinity, all you of the Earth. With the granting of “The Law of Probenation” comes the application of change. I will give you the key. And with this knowledge, please realize, comes the responsibility of sharing it. I will show you the way: (It’s very simple). Throughout the Universe there is order: in the movement of the plane, in nature, and in the functioning of the human mind. A mind at is in its natural state of order is in harmony with the Universe, and such a mind is timeless. Your life is an expression of your mind. You are a creator of your own Universe, for as a human being you are “free to will” whatever state of being you desire through the use of your thoughts and words. There is great Power there. It can be a blessing or a curse…
Dave Clark has apparently never been comfortable with the compact disc, having refused nearly every offer to bring his storied DC5 catalogue to the format over the years. A mere handful of official releases have materialized including Hollywood Records’ 1993 double-CD anthology The History of the Dave Clark Five, EMI U.K.’s shorter counterpart Glad All Over Again, and Universal’s 2010 The Hits. He’s been more forthcoming with releases on iTunes, and now, the starry studio cast recording of Time is once more available. For its belated 25th anniversary, Time has joined the DC5 catalogue as available from that digital music provider.
There’s more in Time after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »