Archive for April 2013
The Southern-smoked legacy of Texas blues-rock band ZZ Top will be celebrated this summer with a new box set from Rhino Records that features all of the band’s classic albums for the London and Warner Bros. labels.
The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990 collects 10 great albums by the band in one box. The Texan trio – vocalist/guitarist Billy F. Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer/sole beardless member Frank Beard – first rose to prominence through early blues-based classics (ZZ Top’s First Album (1971), Rio Grande Mud (1972)) before enjoying a bit of crossover rock success (from Tres Hombres (1973) to 1981’s El Loco). In the next decade, ZZ Top established themselves as unlikely commercial juggernauts, thanks to colorful clips on MTV for pop-rock classics from the albums Eliminator (1983), Afterburner (1985) and Recycler (1990).
While there are no bonus tracks, unlike Rhino’s previous expansions of Tres Hombres, Fandango! (1975) and Eliminator (released as a deluxe CD/DVD), what fans will find, for the first time ever on compact disc, are the original album mixes of ZZ Top’s First Album, Rio Grande Mud, and Tejas (1976). Fans may recall in 1987, at the height of their popularity as a guitar band with synths and sequencers, that Warner released The ZZ Top Six Pack, remixing five of the band’s early albums (1979’s Degüello and 1981’s sequencer-friendly El Loco were spared) and summarily using these modern-sounding masters in place of the original versions on subsequent CD pressings. (Parts of the original mixes were finally loosed on Rhino’s Chrome Smoke & BBQ (2003) box set and Rancho Texicano (2004) two-disc compilation.)
So if you’ve never enjoyed any of ZZ Top’s classic masters, now is the time to get them in this sharp-dressed package. Like previous Rhino album boxes, it will feature original album art replicated on individual CD wallets, with all original packaging (including gatefold sleeves for several of the discs) faithfully retained. The box is out June 10, not long after the boys hit the road again for a world tour.
After the jump, you can reacquaint yourself with the track lists for these original albums. (Pre-order links have yet to go live.)
The Legacy of Harry Nilsson, Andy Williams, Johnny Winter, Jerry Lee Lewis and More Anthologized On “Essential” Releases
Today, Legacy Recordings issues a number of titles from some of music’s greatest artists as part of the label’s ongoing Essential series of anthologies. We’re taking a look at the collections from Harry Nilsson, Andy Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pete Seeger, Mott the Hoople and Midnight Oil! Plus: we have track listings for all titles!
A 2010 documentary posed the question, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? Well, if you don’t already know the answer, The Essential Nilsson will go a long way in providing it for you. Harry Nilsson was the songwriter’s songwriter, who enjoyed his two biggest hits with songs not written by him: Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” and Pete Ham and Tom Evans’ “Without You.” He was the hard-partying pal of John Lennon’s capable of almost painfully tender moments in song like “Don’t Forget Me.” He was the rocker who penned vaudeville tunes for The Monkees (“Daddy’s Song,” “Cuddly Toy”) and recorded an album of standards with legendary arranger Gordon Jenkins long before such albums were in vogue. And he was the composer of effortless pop melodies like “You’re Breakin’ My Heart,” which he provided with a four-letter punch line as if to torpedo its chances for the Top 40. Harry Nilsson was a man of many contradictions, but they’re all represented in this 2-CD, 40-track collection of his RCA years (1967-1977) produced by Rob Santos and Andrew Sandoval. (Sandoval also contributes the essay.)
By the numbers, The Essential Nilsson falls short of the standard set by 1995’s 49-song survey Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology. But even those who own Personal Best should invest in Essential, both for Vic Anesini’s revelatory remastering and for a couple of unreleased tracks and a handful of mono single rarities. You’ll savor Nilsson’s perky melody in the new, previously unissued remix of “Girlfriend” (better known as “Best Friend,” the theme to TV’s The Courtship of Eddie’s Father), and the touching simplicity of “Life Line” in a never-before-heard piano-and-voice take. There’s plenty of Harry’s trademark humor on The Essential (the aforementioned “You’re Breakin’ My Heart,” the novelty-esque hit “Coconut,” the offbeat television homage “Kojak Columbo”) as well as his tributes to pals Lennon and McCartney (“You Can’t Do That”) and Randy Newman (“Sail Away,” “Vine Street” and the sublime “Living Without You”). That last-named Newman song boasts the lyric “It’s so hard, it’s so hard, living without you.” For fans of intelligent, frequently stunningly-crafted pop, it’s been so hard living without Harry Nilsson. The Essential Nilsson captures Harry –the angel-faced choirboy of his early albums and the bearded, vocally-battered figure of his later albums – in all his many colors. Don’t miss it.
After the jump: plenty more on every title in this batch including full track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »
Shalamar, Friends: Deluxe Edition / The Isley Brothers, Winner Takes All: Expanded Edition / Bootsy Collins Presents Sweat Band: Expanded Edition / The Gap Band, Gap Band VII: Expanded Edition / Billy Paul, Lately: Expanded Edition (Big Break)
The Big Break titles we covered yesterday include a double-disc expansion of one of Shalamar’s most enduring LPs, plus Isleys, P-Funk and albums from Total Experience Records. Full coverage/pre-order links here!
Blue Oyster Cult, Imaginos / Sea Level, Cats on the Coast/On the Edge / Wilderness Road, Sold for the Prevention of Disease Only / David Allan Coe, Texas Moon / Eddy Arnold, Complete Original #1 Hits / Johnny Lytle, The Soulful Rebel/People & Love / Allspice, Allspice / Larry Williams, That Larry Williams (Real Gone Music)
Read all about Real Gone’s latest here.
Midnight Oil, Essential Oils / Indigo Girls, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mott the Hoople, Harry Nilsson, Pete Seeger, Andy Williams, Johnny Winter, The Essential (Legacy)
Two-disc Essential sets for a bunch of artists! Unreleased tracks can be enjoyed on the Andy Williams and Nilsson sets, and the others are solid overviews. Joe reviews ‘em here!
Indigo Girls: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Jerry Lee Lewis: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Midnight Oil: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Mott: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Nilsson: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Seeger: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Andy Williams: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Johnny Winter: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Eagles, History of the Eagles (Jigsaw)
The new two-part documentary on the legendary rock band, coupled with an unreleased concert from 1977.
The Tubes, Remote Control: Expanded Edition (Iconoclassic)
Ambrosia, Life Beyond L.A.: Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)
G.C. Cameron, Love Songs and Other Tragedies: Expanded Edition / Phyllis Hyman, Somewhere in My Lifetime: Expanded Edition / Meli’sa Morgan, Good Love: Expanded Edition / Nancy Wilson, Music on My Mind / Life, Love and Harmony (SoulMusic Records) (Order all titles here from Amazon U.K.)
Here’s the latest batch from Cherry Red’s SoulMusic Records label! Read Joe’s review of Somewhere in My Lifetime here!
The latest in mini-LP replica remasters from Culture Factory.
ORIGINAL POST (3/18/2013): Although they’ve been passed over for accolades such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the legacy of British rockers The Moody Blues will be celebrated in June with the release of Timeless Flight, a 17-disc deluxe career-spanning box set.
Although the Moodies started out as your typical English-American blues-rock band (with a lineup that featured future Wings guitarist Denny Laine), they soon found great success on both sides of the Atlantic fusing traditional rock archetypes to classical stylings – anticipating the psychedelic and progressive trends of the years to come. 1967’s Days of Future Passed was a lauded concept album that also spun off a hit single, “Nights in White Satin,” a No. 2 hit in America. Subsequent LPs like On the Threshold of a Dream (1969), A Question of Balance (1970) and Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) were also international hits; to this day, even after a brief hiatus in the late 1970s, the band (now a trio, with Days-era members Justin Hayward on lead vocals and guitar, John Lodge on bass and drummer Graeme Edge – a founding member of the band since 1964’s debut LP The Magnificent Moodies) still records and tours.
While a track list has not been unveiled, an official website confirms these details for Timeless Flight:
- 11 remastered CDs, each “featuring key album tracks, previously unreleased mixes, outtakes and complete live concerts.” Based on this admittedly confusing description, it doesn’t sound like complete albums will be included, although that could be totally off the mark.
- Three DVDs including “rare television performances from around the world, promotional videos and the previously unreleased live concert from Olympia, Paris in 1970″
- Three more DVD audio discs featuring 5.1 surround mixes of the band’s complete Deram Records discography Days of Future Passed, On the Threshold of a Dream, To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969), A Question of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Seventh Sojourn (1972). These mixes were released in the mid-2000s and have been out-of-print for years.
- A 120-page hardcover book of liner notes, including an essay by Moody Blues aficionado Mark Powell and rare and unreleased photos
- Replicas of “full colour tour poster and discography” as well as a press packet
- A specially-designed fabric patch
An as-yet unconfirmed limited edition variant of the box will also be available from Universal Music Group’s U.K. web store. We’ll share further details once we get closer to the box’s June 3 release date, so keep it here until then!
UPDATE (4/30/2013): The official track list has been confirmed by Universal! The first five discs highlight the best of the band in studio, including hits, rarities, outtakes and even tracks from the group’s solo albums in the mid-’70s. Discs 6-11 are live, including three entirely unreleased shows (one of which is a Blue Jays-era show featuring Justin Hayward and John Lodge during their solo era in 1975). Discs 11-14 are DVDs brimming with live footage and promo videos, and Discs 15-17 contain the surround mixes on DVD.
Additionally, Universal will release slimmed-down four-disc and two-disc versions, as well as that aforementioned limited edition variant, featuring a collectible (albeit non-working) replica of a cassette tape featuring both Days of Future Passed and Seventh Sojourn on it as owned and carried by astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson, who took the tape on missions aboard the Challenger, Columbia, Atlantis and Endeavour shuttles. (Only 300 copies of this version will be made.)
After the jump, check out the complete track list as well as Amazon links for these sets.
If you don’t slow down, you’re gonna crash into the news that Cherry Red is expanding The Primitives’ debut LP for its 25th anniversary.
Formed in the British city of Coventry, the indie pop group earned a following through several singles on their own Lazy Records imprint before signing to RCA for Lovely, their first studio LP. The band (at the time consisting of Paul Court on guitar, Steve Dullaghan on bass, Tig Williams on drums and vocalist Tracy Cattell – known as “Tracy Tracy”) combined the guitar-based sensibilities of other indie acts like The Jesus & Mary Chain and Primal Scream, while adding a distinct audiovisual flair thanks to Cattell’s distinctive vocals and bottle-blonde hairstyle. (Alongside U.K. acts Transvision Vamp and The Darling Buds, they were briefly credited with kickstarting the niche indie subgenre of “blonde pop.”)
Lazy became a hit thanks to the catchy lead single “Crash,” a Top 10 hit in the band’s native country and a No. 3 Modern Rock hit in America. (Years later, it was remixed and featured prominently on the soundtrack for the Jim Carrey-Jeff Daniels comedy Dumb & Dumber.) Much of the rest of the album features re-recorded versions of songs the band had previously released as singles.
Cherry Red’s new edition of Lovely, to be released in the U.K. on June 10, features a bonus disc full of single-only material. The band, which split in 1992 but reunited in 2009 after the death of Dullaghan, will tour Europe starting with dates in Spain next month. In September, the band will perform several U.K. dates specifically for the 25th anniversary of Lovely, featuring guest DJ sets by Mike Joyce, former drummer of The Smiths.
This release also calls to attention a new compilation of the band’s early indie material which was released by Cherry Red earlier this spring. You can read more about that title after the jump!
Stage and Screen Bonanza: “World of Suzie Wong,” “Elephant Steps” and Gene Kelly’s “Clownaround” Coming Soon
As part of its ongoing digital/CD-on-demand program, Masterworks is offering two of the most unexpected cast recordings from the label’s considerable library. On May 7, Stanley Silverman and Richard Foreman’s Elephant Steps: A Fearful Radio Show makes its digital/CD(-R) debut, while on June 4, Moose Charlap and Alvin Cooperman’s Clownaround also receives its first-ever reissue.
Elephant Steps, from composer Stanley Silverman and lyricist/librettist/director Richard Foreman, was first produced at the Tanglewood music festival in 1968, the same year avant-garde pioneer Foreman founded his Ontological-Hysteric Theater. Billed as “Multi-Media Pop-Opera Extravaganza with Pop Singers, Opera Singers, Orchestra, Rock Band, Electronic Tape, Raga Group, Tape Recorder, Gypsy Ensemble, and Elephants all under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas,” Elephant Steps told the tale of Hartman. The liner notes to the original LP release described it as follows: “Hartman is looking for enlightenment. He has a mysterious guru by the name of Reinhardt. The reactionary factions keep warning him to stop seeing Reinhardt, but Hartman persists. After visiting Nighttown, and then being abducted and grilled in a radio station, where he dreams of returning to his childhood, he finally climbs a ladder, looks in the window of Reinhardt’s house, and what he sees brings him illumination.”
The production was well-received upon its debut. It was Foreman’s first major directing experience (“except my little play at the Cinematheque,” he once wrote) as well as Tilson Thomas’ first time at the podium. Time opined that it “sounded like a giant radio with its dials spinning crazily…. It had a cohesive rhythm of its own and succeeded in gripping the attention of the Tanglewood audience through its sheer theatrical flair.” New York pronounced it “The best piece of new music I’ve heard in concert all year.”
Paul Simon was among the music-theatre piece’s fans. Simon had taken guitar lessons from Stanley Silverman (with whom he would work many years later on his own musical, The Capeman) and Foreman recalled the singer-songwriter asking him, “Richard, if all your dreams came true, what would happen with Elephant Steps?” Simon apparently lost interest after receiving Foreman’s reply, which the director deemed “pretentious” in retrospect: “There are three or four people in New York whose opinions I really respect. If those people liked it, that would be enough for me.” Foreman added somewhat ruefully when writing of the conversation, “If I’d said ‘I think this could be as big as The Beatles,’ we probably would have had a major production on Broadway.”
The psychedelic, mixed-means theatre of Elephant Steps – blending “sound and light, language and music, images and movement, graphics and films, incense and machinery, props and performers” – finally made it to New York in 1970, albeit not on Broadway. Foreman and Silverman went on to collaborate on numerous occasions, and of course, Tilson Thomas went on to further conducting triumphs. Actress Marilyn Sokol and chorus member Patti Austin both also achieved fame. The Columbia Records 1974 cast recording of Elephant Steps – with orchestrations by Harold Wheeler of Dreamgirls and Dancing with the Stars fame – will be released exclusively for purchase via MasterworksBroadway.com on May 7 in a limited quantity of physical CD-Rs as well as digital download. The CD will be available via Manufacture-On-Demand through Arkiv Music on June 4th, and downloads through digital service providers will be made available at that time, too.
After the jump: details on Clownaround and The World of Suzie Wong! Read the rest of this entry »
A host of ’80s R&B titles are out in the U.K. this week from Cherry Red’s Big Break offshoot. They include a double-disc expansion of one of Shalamar’s best-loved albums, plus expanded editions of a few LPs by the likes of The Isley Brothers, The Gap Band and Billy Paul.
While 1982 was the year of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, U.K. R&B enthusiasts also count another album as influential to the genre that year: Shalamar’s Friends. After a string of hits around the world for the trio comprised of Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel and Howard Hewitt, Friends was their most successful album in England, owing to a seminal performance on Top of the Pops where Daniel demonstrated popping, locking and even (a year before Jackson did it on American television) moonwalking. “A Night to Remember,” “There It Is” and “I Can Make You Feel Good” were all Top 10 hits, with the title track peaking at No. 12. Daniel and Watley left the group after 1983’s The Look (with Watley enjoying worldwide solo success in the late ’80s, and Daniel working with Jackson in choreographing several music videos for singles from Bad in 1987 and 1988), making this one of the last and most iconic examples of the “classic” lineup of this revered trio.
The deluxe Friends includes three “outtakes” from the Friends era that were released on 1981’s Go for It album (a quickly-released LP from the band’s label, Solar Records’, transition from major-label distributors), as well as a bonus disc of single edits and remixes. A deluxe liner notes booklet features a new interview with Watley, adding insight into the era of Shalamar as U.K. hitmakers.
And what else is being released by BBR today? Hit the jump to find out!