Archive for July 5th, 2012
On August 13, the German label will release Shortcuts: The 7 Inch Mixes (1979-1984) and Extended: The 12 Inch Mixes (1979-1984), a pair of two-disc sets chronicling every side released by the group, in every size, on every label the band were signed to around the world.
The brothers Mael – Ron and Russell, from Pacific Palisades, California – already had a major round of chart success in the U.K. shortly after forming Sparks in 1972. The single “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us” was a No. 2 hit in England in 1974, sending their breakthrough album Kimono My House to the Top 5 overseas. By the end of the ’70s, the Maels found themselves back in the States and weary of the rock format they had pursued for years. Their switch to electronic-based music had a strong influence on the burgeoning New Wave scene at the time, thanks in no small part to the production work of Giorgio Moroder, whom the brothers had admired since the release of the Moroder-produced “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer.
Sparks’ and Moroder’s first collaboration, 1979′s No. 1 in Heaven, yielded the band their last Top 40 singles in the U.K., “The Number One Song in Heaven” and the Top 10 “Beat the Clock.” Follow-up album Terminal Jive (1980), produced by Moroder and Harold Faltermeyer, yielded a chart-topping smash in France, “When I’m with You.” Sparks later worked with Queen producer Mack on Whomp That Sucker (1981) and Angst in My Pants (1982) and produced themselves on 1983′s Sparks in Outer Space, which saw the band earn the first of several respectably-charting U.S. dance hits through the ’80s and ’90s: “Cool Places,” which featured vocals from fan and former Sparks fanclub president Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s.
Shortcuts features all international A-sides Sparks released during this period in their original single edits along with a generous helping of B-sides. Extended, by similar design, features every 12″ A- or B-side released by Virgin, Atlantic, Ariola, Carrere and Underdog, along with a 1997 extended version of “The Number One Song in Heaven” featuring Jimmy Somerville. Amazon U.S. links will be provided when they go live; ’til then, hit the jump to check out the track lists!
Jimmy Webb wrote those words for the unlikely rock star by the name of Arthur Garfunkel, a former architecture student endowed with a purity of tone and the ability to pierce the heart. And thankfully, both the singer and the song remain very much alive today. Garfunkel, of course, was the yin to Paul Simon’s yang, the Tom to his Jerry. It’s most appropriate, then, that he will bookend his old friend with a new anthology coming on August 28 from Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings. Art Garfunkel: The Singer serves as a new companion to the recently-released Paul Simon: Songwriter.
The 2-CD set was originally slated for release on April 10, but word arrived on February 21 that the title had been taken off the schedule. Though The Singer has undergone some changes from its initially-announced iteration, it remains the first ever 2-CD career-spanning anthology for Garfunkel. Its thirty-four tracks have been personally selected by the artist, beginning with 1964’s Simon and Garfunkel debut Wednesday Morning, 3 AM and going right up to his most recent solo studio set, 2007’s Some Enchanted Evening. Whereas the original line-up of The Singer offered forty songs, sixteen of which were from the Simon and Garfunkel catalogue, the revised edition has eight songs from that magnificent team. They’re drawn from four of the original S&G studio albums, the best-selling Greatest Hits and 2004’s Old Friends: Live on Stage. In addition, the new track listing includes two previously unreleased songs from Garfunkel recorded especially for this collection: “Lena,” with Dean Parks on guitar, and “Long Way Home,” with Maia Sharp. Like last year’s Paul Simon collection, this isn’t a standard “greatest hits” but rather a chronicle of the artist’s personal journey in music.
The Forest Hills-born Garfunkel, who turned 70 on November 5, met his future partner Paul Simon in the halls of P.S. 164 in the sixth grade, with both young men cast in a school production of Alice in Wonderland. They soon bonded over a mutual love of music, with Garfunkel citing Nat “King” Cole as just one early influence. (Garfunkel would come full circle, recording an entire album of American standards in 2007.) Beginning in 1956, Simon and Garfunkel locally performed as “Tom and Jerry,” modeling themselves on the Everly Brothers, with whom they would later collaborate. Though he and Simon briefly split in the early 1960s, with Garfunkel pursuing his continuing education at New York’s Columbia University, they reunited for Wednesday Morning 3 AM, a low-key collection of folk songs, including a number of originals penned by the precociously talented Simon. It was lost in the shuffle of the British Invasion, however, and Simon retreated to England while Garfunkel resumed his studies. When Columbia Records decided to reissue Wednesday Morning’s “The Sound of Silence” with electric overdubs in September 1965, Simon and Garfunkel were presented with ample reason to reform: the song was climbing its way to No. 1, hitting that coveted spot on New Year’s Day, 1966. Their second album, Sounds of Silence, was recorded in December 1965 during that heady time when “Silence” was making waves in the music industry. The rest is history.
Hit the jump to explore The Singer, plus a pre-order link and finalized track listing with album discography! Read the rest of this entry »