Getting Real Gone in July with Sanford and Townsend, Clover, 20/20, Jackie Gleason and More
Real Gone Music may not be going “to the moon, Alice,” but the eclectic reissue gurus are going just about everywhere else with their batch of offerings set for July 31. Yes, Jackie Gleason features in a line-up also including poet Charles Bukowski, Sanford and Townsend (Smoke from a Distant Fire), a member of Bread, and a couple of underrated rock-and-roll bands.
After the recent, potent reissue of the self-titled debut from Durocs, Real Gone jumps back into the power pop game with 20/20. Tulsa’s own Steve Allen and Ron Flynt recorded two albums and a pair of non-LP singles for the Portrait label, and all of those recordings are being collected on one disc by the Real Goners. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Gallo and keyboardist Chris Silagyi joined the duo for 1979’s 20/20 while drummer Joel Turrisi replaced Gallo for 1981’s Look Out! “Child’s Play” and “People in Your Life,” both from 1981, round out Real Gone’s survey of the group’s Portrait output. (These two singles have never been on CD, while previous reissues of the albums proper now command high prices in the secondhand market.) The group split in 1983, having recorded just one more album following the two for Portrait (1982’s Sex Trap on the Mainway label). New liner notes draw on interviews with the band members. Maria Triana at Battery Studios has remastered all tracks.
If Clover is remembered at all today, it’s likely for backing Elvis Costello on his incendiary 1977 debut, My Aim Is True, or perhaps for morphing into the hitmaking Huey Lewis and the News. The country-rock group was actually founded in 1967 by future Doobie Brother John McFee, Alex Call (author of Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny”) and bassist/session pro Dr. John Ciambotti, with Mitch Howie playing drums through 1971. The band’s first two records, Clover and Fourty Niner [sic] were recorded for the Fantasy label in 1970 and 1971, respectively, and bear the influence of Bay Area friends and Fantasy labelmates Creedence Clearwater Revival. For Real Gone’s first-ever Clover revival, Alex Call supplies the new liner notes.
After the jump: Bread’s James Griffin! Charles Bukowski! Sanford and Townsend! And the Great One himself!
Six years before joining David Gates and Robb Royer in Bread, James (then Jimmy) Griffin was signed by A&R head Jimmy Bowen to Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label. So promising was Griffin that Bowen elected to produce the artist’s Reprise debut himself, with the already in-demand Jack Nitzsche handling arrangements. Where Nitzsche could be found, LA’s crème of the musicians’ crop, a.k.a. the Wrecking Crew, weren’t usually far behind. And so Leon Russell, Hal Blaine, Glen Campbell and the rest of the best can all be heard on Summer Holiday, and Campbell even supplied a couple of songs for the album. Jimmy Griffin’s Summer Holiday makes its CD debut from Real Gone, and has been expanded with all of the singer’s non-LP Reprise singles. Singer/composer Brian Gari has written the liner notes.
The Seventies Preservation Society might place Sanford and Townsend near Bread on the list of classic hitmakers from that decade. Alabama natives Ed Sanford and John Townsend had begun their careers in the L.A. music scene as songwriters, notably co-writing “Peacemaker” with Kenny Loggins for Loggins and Messina. When they struck out on their own as artists, they hit the Top 10 with the irresistible “Smoke From a Distant Fire,” which they supported on tour opening for Fleetwood Mac and others. Atlantic Records’ legendary Jerry Wexler produced Sanford and Townsend’s debut LP (originally self-titled, but later retitled Smoke from a Distant Fire after the hit single) with Barry Beckett, recording at Alabama’s Muscle Shoals studio. Real Gone has paired it with the duo’s 1979 album Nail Me to the Wall; that latter LP (their third) makes its CD debut on this new two-fer. Alas, it didn’t repeat the success of Smoke, and Sanford and Townsend disbanded shortly after its release. Gene Sculatti writes new liner notes including an interview with John Townsend.
And now for something completely different…Charles Bukowski Reads His Poetry. The title basically sums up this release, recorded on September 14, 1972 and released in 1980 on John Fahey’s Takoma label. Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was described by Time as “a laureate of American lowlife,” and indeed, he turned a spotlight on the poor, ordinary and disenfranchised in his work. In Real Gone’s words, the album concentrates on “perversions, poverty, drunkenness, gambling, and bodily functions. But Bukowski’s bemused air and self-deprecating humor blunts the shock value of the words and emphasizes the universality of the themes.” Real Gone will issue Bukowski’s explicit, provocative poetry on vinyl.
Jackie Gleason wasn’t called “The Great One” for nothing. The larger-than-life actor also holds an unusual record: an album emblazoned with his name still stands as holding the most weeks in the U.S. Top 10 album charts. Yes, 1952’s Music for Lovers Only is no ordinary album, befitting the most extraordinary Jackie Gleason. The Capitol collection of lush romantic balladry was released as a 10-inch LP in 1952, and in 1955 as a 12-inch set. The original 1952 release included only eight tracks, but Capitol’s first 12-inch issue added eight more for a total of 16. However, future LP issues reduced the tracks to 12, and the album’s only prior CD reissue followed the original eight-song sequence only. Real Gone is remedying this, however, with the release of the full, 16-track album in its original mono sound. We’ll let the label take it from here: “As for those wondering what musical contribution Mr. Gleason made to the album, some say he conceived of melodies in his head and described them vocally to his assistants. But when Bobby Hackett, whose wistful trumpet lines were the focal point of the Gleason sound and of this album, was asked what Jackie contributed to the recordings, he replied: ‘He brought the checks!’” Regardless of Gleason’s role, he had quite a musical career, lending his name to a number of “mood music” albums over the years; his first ten albums each sold over one million copies!
All of Real Gone’s July titles will arrive on the 31st of that month and can be pre-ordered at the above links! Mark your calendars!