The Second Disc

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Archive for May 13th, 2013

There It Is: UMe Celebrates 50 Years of James Brown at The Apollo with New Compilation

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JB Apollo 50“So now, ladies and gentlemen, it is Star Time. Are you ready for Star Time?”

With those words by emcee Fats Gondor on the stage of The Apollo Theater in New York City on October 24, 1962, history was made. James Brown was set to take the stage at the famed Harlem theater – but what could have been just another show on Brown’s breakneck touring schedule became a flashpoint for not only Brown’s career but for the entire pop, rock and soul canon, thanks to Brown’s insistence on recording and, the following May, releasing the show (at his own expense!).

Now, 50 years after the release of the acclaimed Live At The Apollo LP, UMe is releasing a new compilation, Best of Live at The Apollo: 50th Anniversary.

Live performance was, of course, an accepted fact of the genre; millions would gasp at Elvis Presley’s hip-swiveling dance moves on network variety shows, and Beatlemania spread to America the second the Fab Four graced the stage on The Ed Sullivan Show. But releasing a live album? It hadn’t really been done before.

But even Mr. Dynamite himself couldn’t be accurately represented through his deeply funky sides on wax. And not only did Live At The Apollo seal the deal for plenty of cratediggers that Brown was truly the hardest working man in show business, it established a symbiotic bond between performer and venue – one of the first, and perhaps most notable, of its kind in pop history.

James Brown released three live albums recorded at The Apollo during his prime years as a recording artist: the 1963 original and 1968′s Live At The Apollo Volume II (both released on King Records) and 1971′s Revolution of the Mind: Recorded Live At The Apollo Vol. III, released by Polydor Records. Best of Live At The Apollo will feature the highlights of those three original Apollo LPs, and two tracks from another, ultimately shelved fourth LP, recorded in September 1972. (That album, Get Down At The Apollo with The J.B.’s: Live At The Apollo Vol. IV, was to feature not only Brown’s new band, created in 1970, but also The Female Preacher herself, Lyn Collins.) 

Both of those new tracks  - the instrumental “Hot Pants Road” and “There It Is” – have been remixed just for this disc; this live take of “There It Is” previously appeared on the 1988 compilation Motherlode, and the original LP mix of the track appeared on a Record Store Day single last year.

Best of Live At The Apollo: 50th Anniversary hits stores on June 25. Hit the jump to place your order and check out the track list!

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Written by Mike Duquette

May 13, 2013 at 12:35

Review: Judy Garland, “Creations 1929-1962: Songs She Introduced”

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Judy Garland CreationsIn the first two lines of the introductory essay that accompanies JSP Records’ new box set Judy Garland – Creations 1929-1962: Songs She Introduced, the box’s compiler Lawrence Schulman sets forth its raison d’être: “That Judy Garland (1922-1969) was one of the most talented singers and actresses of her generation is known.  That she introduced close to a hundred songs to the Great American Songbook is not.”  Thanks to this 4-CD, 94-song collection, that secret shouldn’t be a secret any longer.  Many of the songs introduced by Judy Garland have gone on to have lives of their own.  “How About You?,” “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” “The Boy Next Door,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,”  and “The Man That Got Away” are just a few of the perennials first sung by Garland.  And let’s not forget a little song called “Over the Rainbow.”  All of those are here, and many more, from 1929’s “Blue Butterfly” sung by the seven-year old still known as Frances Gumm to 1962’s “Roses Red, Violets Blue,” sung by Judy Garland – capital “J,” capital “G.”

The four discs are divided by period (1929-1940, 1941-1943, 1943-1948 and 1948-1962) and feature songs from a “Who’s Who” of American music.  Harold Arlen, “Yip” Harburg, Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Irving Berlin, Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane, Harry Warren, and Johnny Mercer are some of the more familiar composers and lyricists here.  Their melodies afforded Garland the opportunity to sing swing, jazz, pop, novelties, comic songs and dramatic tour de forces alike; in other words, the gamut of popular song of the day.  Almost from the very start, Garland could imbue her material with a never-replicated blend of vulnerability and bravura.  Even when belting to the rafters, there is an intimacy in a Judy Garland vocal.  Though many of these songs are from motion pictures, one needn’t see the accompanying visuals to realize why this particular artist still captivates and fascinates today.  (At the time of this writing, Olivier and Tony Award nominee Tracie Bennett is still touring as Garland in the play End of the Rainbow.  And that show wasn’t even the first on Broadway with Judy Garland as a character.)  Indeed, despite her impressive body of work as a recording artist for Decca and Capitol, Garland may be the only major interpretive singer to have primarily created her art on the silver screen.  Creations allows listeners to appreciate that considerable oeuvre on a purely aural level.

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Written by Joe Marchese

May 13, 2013 at 10:34

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