Chances are, Johnny Mathis fans are going to be counting down until November 17.
On that date, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings will release The Complete Global Albums Collection, a first-of-its-kind set compiling the entire recorded output of Mathis during his Mercury Records period. A Columbia artist since 1956, Mathis departed his label home just once – recording some eleven albums (ten of which were released) under the imprimatur of his own Global Records production company between 1963 and 1967, at which time he returned to Columbia. Legacy’s new clamshell-design box set collects all eleven LPs plus two discs of singles and previously unissued rarities, plus a booklet containing album-by-album notes from Mathis.
The Complete Global Albums Collection features these ten LPs originally released on Global/Mercury, all remastered and in mini-LP jacket replicas:
- The Sounds of Christmas (1963) – first-time reissue on CD in its original, unaltered form
- Tender is the Night (1964)
- The Wonderful World of Make-Believe (1964)
- This Is Love (1964)
- Olé (1965)
- Love Is Everything (1965)
- The Sweetheart Tree (1965, also contains all unique tracks from international edition, Away From Home, for first time on CD)
- The Shadow of Your Smile (1966)
- So Nice (1966)
- Johnny Mathis Sings (1967)
The box then adds:
- Broadway (a “lost” album largely consisting entirely of previously unreleased covers of classic Broadway showtunes, recorded 1964-1965 and first released in 2012 by Real Gone Music as part of Real Gone’s landmark series of first-time Global reissues); and
- The Global Singles and Unreleased (2 CDs and 28 tracks: non-album singles and unreleased songs)!
After the jump, we have much, much more on The Complete Global Albums Collection including the track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »
Randy Sparks was right. ”Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.” likely wouldn’t have commanded attention on a marquee. “John Denver” would – and did. The beloved troubadour, who perished in 1997 at just 53, took the advice of the New Christy Minstrels’ leader. Choosing a new name from his favorite state, which he would immortalize numerous times in song, Denver went on to a career encompassing seven multi-platinum, thirteen platinum and 20 gold albums. During that sadly-curtailed career, he also penned some of the most beloved and indelible works in the canon of American song: “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High.” On November 4, RCA Records and Legacy Recordings will celebrate the enduring music of John Denver on a new 4-CD career spanning anthology, All of My Memories: The John Denver Collection.
All of My Memories chronicles the two-time Grammy Award winner’s career from 1964 to 1997 over the course of 90 songs recorded between 1964 and 1997 by Denver solo, as member of The Chad Mitchell Trio, and with duet partners including Emmylou Harris, Olivia Newton-John, Placido Domingo, Sylvie Vartan, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and that inimitable song stylist, Miss Piggy! With his boyish good looks, gentle voice and enthusiasm for music and nature, Denver was one of the preeminent pop voices of the 1970s, incorporating folk and country influences into his popular material. He charted more than 40 Billboard Hot 100, AC and Country songs from 1971 to 1988, and this box set features a number of them alongside key album tracks, live performances, and rarities including promotional-only and privately-pressed tracks. In addition, six songs make their first appearances anywhere on this set:
- Cover versions of “The Road” and “Far Side Of The Hill,” both demos recorded for Capitol Records in Hollywood, 1964, prior to Denver’s tenure with the Mitchell Trio;
- “Rhymes And Reasons,” an original composition cut in early ’69 for Reprise Records, re-recorded as the title track of Denver’s RCA debut later that year;
- “Spirit,” first recorded on 1975’s Windsong LP, as recorded live at the Sydney Opera House in 1977, but not included on the 1999 concert album release;
- An alternate take of “Eli’s Song” from 1976 with a lyric described by the record label as “prophetic”: “See the airplane fly, see the trees rush by/ Be brave and strong when you hurt yourself/ Don’t you have a worry in the world…”; and
- An alternate version of the vintage tune “It’s A Sin to Tell a Lie” from 1973. Denver’s mother’s favorite song, he famously performed it on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show one year earlier.
Many of Denver’s own compositions are, naturally, featured alongside tracks composed by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert (who co-wrote “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “I Guess He’d Rather Be In Colorado”), Buddy Holly (“Everyday”), John Prine (“Blow Up Your TV (Spanish Pipe Dream)”), Joe Henry, and others.
After the jump, we have more details on this set from the onetime Poet Laureate of Colorado, including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »
From you’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off you to voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?, some of the most memorable phrases in popular music came courtesy of Bob Crewe. The multi-hyphenate talent – a songwriter, producer, singer, entrepreneur, artist, philanthropist, activist, and candidate for the title of “Fifth Season” – passed away yesterday at the age of 82, but not before leaving behind a rich legacy guaranteed to endure for decades to come. Crewe’s songs were built around big, powerful emotions, packed with drama and filled with heart.
Newark, New Jersey-born Stanley Robert Crewe dreamt big. His early years saw him studying architecture at Parsons School of Design, working successfully as a fashion model, and trying his luck as a singing star and potential teen idol. But Crewe, despite his good looks, found his truest calling behind the scenes of the music business. With writing partner Frank Slay, he gifted “Silhouettes” to The Rays and “Tallahassee Lassie” to Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon. Then, he formed arguably his most felicitous creative partnership with fellow Jersey boy Bob Gaudio. “[Gaudio] brought the finished song [“Sherry”] to Bob Crewe, independent hit record producer,” read the liner notes of the Seasons’ debut platter Sherry and 11 Others. “One listen was all Bob (Crewe) needed to be sold on the idea. The song was recorded and released immediately. An unknown group only a couple of months ago, today the whole music business and public alike are talking about the ‘different sound’ of The 4 Seasons.” They still are. Jersey Boys, chronicling the group’s rocky road to stardom and beyond, has been breaking records on Broadway since 2005. A film adaptation directed by Clint Eastwood premiered in 2014. Though the film was critically dismissed, Mike Doyle earned praise for his touching, funny and multilayered portrayal of Bob Crewe.
Sherry and 11 Others, of course, bore production credit for Crewe. A renaissance man, he was also credited with arrangements, conducting the orchestra, and even designing the cover artwork! The album ended with “Sherry,” but began with “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” heralding the arrival of the Bob Gaudio/Bob Crewe writing team. With Crewe primarily supplying lyrics to Gaudio’s melodies, the pair created that “different sound.” Though rooted in doo-wop and street-corner harmonies honed on the mean streets of northern New Jersey, Crewe and Gaudio’s fresh songs and immaculate, elegant productions exploded from AM radios. Valli’s ethereal falsetto soared above a youthful, vibrant and contemporary beat imbued with rock-and-roll attitude. The artful songs the team crafted throbbed with urgency and grit. Crewe’s gutsy words had universal appeal but remained honest to the group’s working-class backgrounds: “Walk Like a Man,” “Big Man’s World,” “Rag Doll,” “Ronnie,” “Save It for Me,” “Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye).” The ballads were just as impressive as the stomping rockers, and were similarly drawn from the heart: the shimmering “Silence is Golden,” the aching “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”
We continue our Bob Crewe tribute after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Talking About Rock ‘N’ Roll Mercenaries: Cherry Red Revisits Meat Loaf’s “Blind Before I Stop” With New Reissue
By 1986, Meat Loaf found himself in a bit of a predicament. 1984’s Bad Attitude had failed to reach the heights scaled by Bat Out of Hell or even its follow-up Dead Ringer for Love. After the disappointing sales of 1983’s Midnight at the Lost and Found, that made two straight albums which failed to meet the artist’s potential. So the powerhouse vocalist chose to wait a bit before recording his next album. He hoped to bring back the main ingredient of his first two albums: composer/lyricist/auteur Jim Steinman. His record label at the time, Arista, had other plans. They wanted a record out much sooner and did not want to wait on the famously perfectionist Steinman. Without his principal collaborator, Meat Loaf entered the studio in January 1986 to begin recording what would become Blind Before I Stop. The 1986 album has just been reissued by the Cherry Red imprint Hear No Evil Recordings. This follows the label’s reissues of Bad Attitude and 1987’s Meat Loaf: Live at Wembley.
Blind was a sonic departure for the singer. It was the first of his albums to fully embrace the production style of the 80s with a large reliance on synths and electronics. This shift was undoubtedly due to the producer brought into to oversee the project, Frank Farian. Hailing from Germany, Farian was the mastermind behind the 1970s group Boney M. Not only achieving great success in his native land, they also scored two UK No. 1 albums: 1978’s Nightflight to Venus and 1979’s Oceans of Fantasy. In addition, they had a No. 1 UK single with “Rivers of Babylon” (reaching a peak of No. 30 in the U.S.) and the U.K. top Christmas single in 1978: “”Mary’s Boy Child – Oh My Lord” (a cover of the Harry Belafonte song in a medley with a newly composed tune.) While not an issue for Farian when working with Meat Loaf, the members of Boney M who performed live were not all the same musicians and singers who recorded the songs for their albums. This did not generate controversy for the group at the time, but Farian’s practice would gain much more notoriety with his next major success as a producer later in the 1980s: Milli Vanilli.
The story continues after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Edsel has gone red – Simply Red, that is – on its recent series of deluxe CD and DVD editions from the British pop-soul band. By the time of Simply Red’s breakup in 2010, founding member and lead vocalist Mick Hucknall was the last man standing, but the legacy left behind by the group – and its songs including “Holding Back the Years” and revivals of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New” – remains strong. Edsel’s new Simply Red series encompasses three 2-CD/1-DVD sets from the band’s final decade as well as two standalone DVDs. The 2 or 3-CD/1-DVD sets, housed in lavish casebound editions in the style of recent releases from Belinda Carlisle, Todd Rundgren and Everything But the Girl, expand 2003’s Home, 2005’s Simplified, and 2007’s Stay – all three of which were previously available on the band’s own label. The videos Home: Live in Sicily and Cuba! Simply Red – Recorded Live at El Gran Teatro Havana both brim with special bonus features in these new BD/DVD/2-CD combo editions. (Whew!) All CDs have been remastered by Phil Kinrade and/or Tony Cousins and feature impressively-designed booklets with new liner notes from Alan Robinson, lyrics, and more.
Simply Red’s very first album, 1985’s Picture Book, established the band that then featured Hucknall (vocals), Fritz McIntyre (keyboards/vocals), Chris Joyce (drums/percussion), Tony Bowers (bass), Sylvan Richardson (guitar) and Tim Kellett (trumpet). The album earned a 5x Platinum certification in the U.K. and a Platinum record in the U.S. aided by the strength of “Holding Back the Years,” a U.S. No. 1 hit in 1986 that only fared slightly less well in the U.K. at No. 2. (Its original U.K. issue a year earlier only hit No. 51.) That original song by Hucknall and Neil Moss wasn’t the only hit single from Picture Book; a cover of The Valentine Brothers’ “Money’s Too Tight (To Mention)” reached No. 13 on the U.K. charts in 1985 and No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986.
Six more LPs followed, each one of which achieved at least a Platinum certification in the U.K.; 1991’s Stars was a staggering 12x Platinum smash. Hit singles also continued to arrive on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world, most notably “The Right Thing” (No. 11 U.K., No. 27 U.S.), Cole Porter’s chestnut “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” (No. 11 U.K.), “It’s Only Love” (No. 13 U.K., No. 57 U.S.), “A New Flame” (No. 17 U.K.) and Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” (No. 2 U.K., No. 1 U.S.). The band’s final album under the Warner Music Group umbrella, 1999’s Love and the Russian Winter, featured only Hucknall from the original line-up.
Four years later, Simply Red remerged, offering new music on Hucknall’s own label simplyred.com ltd. The band’s line-up for live performances included Hucknall (vocals), Ian Kirkham (saxophone/keyboards), Dave Clayton (keyboards), Kenji Suzuki (guitar), Kevin Robinson (trumpet/flugelhorn/percussion), Steve Lewinson (bass guitar) and Pete Lewinson (drums). This grop of musicians featured on Simply Red’s albums, too, but they were also joined by session musicians. From 2003 until 2008, John Johnson (trombone), Dee Johnson (vocals), Sarah Brown (vocals) and Chris De Margary (saxophone) also appeared on Simply Red’s albums and tours.
After the jump: a detailed look at what you’ll find on Edsel’s reissues, including complete track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »
Blame it on the bossa nova. So pervasive was that intoxicating, romantic and gentle Brazilian beat that an alternative had to arrive. It came in the form of tropicalia, or tropicalismo, blending the popular with the avant-garde, fusing Brazilian and African rhythms with that old-time rock and roll. Tropicalia rose to prominence along with música popular brasileira (MPB), offering young people an alternative to bossa nova, which had by that point risen to international prominence. Emerging Brazilian artists of the day found a sound of their own. Real Gone Music and its Dusty Groove imprint have recently reissued one of the best and most beguiling examples of this distinctive Brazilian style. 1969’s Gal Costa (RGM-0257) was the first full solo album from the Brazilian vocalist, following an EP and a collaborative album with Caetano Veloso. The glamorous if pensive image of the singer on the cover might have been misleading as to the forward-thinking music contained within its grooves – alternately tense and relaxed, dark and sunny.
A major principle of tropicalia was antropofagia, basically a cultural “cannibalism” that encouraged the fusion of disparate influences to form something wholly new. The movement – which extended to literature, theatre and poetry, as well – had as its manifesto of sorts the album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis featuring contributions by Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Os Mutantes and Gal Costa. The eponymous Gal Costa LP chronologically followed both Domingo, the traditional, bossa nova-flavored album with Veloso, and the radical Tropicália. Beautiful and unsettling, Gal Costa – sung in Portuguese, save one English track – continued to push the musical envelope with antropofagia in mind.
Rogerio Duprat, Gilberto Gil and Lanny Gordin provided the expansive, varied arrangements to frame Costa’s resonant voice. The politically-charged environment of young artists bristling at Brazil’s military government (which would arrest and imprison both Veloso and Gil in 1969) contributed mightily to Gal Costa’s countercultural, psychedelia-goes-to-the-tropics feel. There’s more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
In 2014, Guy Clark netted the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album for My Favorite Picture of You. Dedicated to his wife and muse of 40 years, Susanna Clark, My Favorite Picture proved that the years hadn’t dulled the ability of the Texas-born pioneer of the progressive country movement to craft a moving, tender, keenly-observed and well-crafted collection of songs. Following its release of the Clark anthology Hindsight 21/20 (1975-1995), Australia’s Raven Records label has revisited his catalogue for An American Dream: 4 Classic Albums 1978-1992. This new 2-CD set features four Clark albums originally released under the Warner Music Group umbrella. The first three arrived consecutively from the less-than-prolific artist on the Warner Bros. label: 1978’s self-titled album, 1981’s The South Coast of Texas and 1983’s Better Days. Following Better Days, Clark didn’t release another album until 1988 when he re-emerged with Old Friends on the Sugar Hill label. An American Dream resumes, however, with his next Warner release, 1993’s Boats to Build, on the just-reactivated Asylum label.
Alongside such artists as Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark was at the vanguard of so-called progressive country. The sub-genre rebuffed the lush Nashville Sound and edged country-and-western into the present day by blending traditional honky-tonk style with newer elements influenced by rock and the burgeoning singer-songwriter sound. Progressive country also spawned outlaw country, which took the rock attitude even further. In fact, it was Walker (“Mr. Bojangles”) who helped raise Clark’s profile considerably when he recorded Clark’s songs “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train.” (Three early Walker albums have also been recently reissued in one package by Raven.)
Mentoring talents like Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle while nurturing his own solo career, first at RCA and then at Warner Bros., Clark also befriended contemporaries like fellow Texan Van Zandt whom he considered a major influence; in fact, he included Van Zandt songs on numerous LPs including two of the albums presented here. Clark’s third album, 1978’s self-titled Guy Clark, opens Raven’s set with seven Clark compositions, one by Van Zandt, one by Crowell and one Jimmie Rodgers cover. Many familiar sidemen joined Clark for his Warner Bros. debut including Willie Nelson’s long-serving harmonica man, Mickey Raphael, plus “Nashville” David Briggs on piano, Buddy Emmons on steel guitar, Albert Lee on guitar, and Don Everly and Rodney Crowell on background vocals. “Fools for Each Other” cracked the Billboard country chart at No. 96.
Clark followed the album three years later with The South Coast of Texas, on which Crowell played a much larger role. The former member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band had launched his own solo career in 1981 to acclaim. Proving Oscar Hammerstein II’s adage that “by your pupils you’ll be taught,” Crowell became as much an influence on Clark as Clark had been on Crowell. For South Coast, the younger artist co-wrote a couple of songs with Clark in addition to taking over production duties from Neil Wilburn. Crowell’s then-wife Rosanne Cash and future superstar Vince Gill joined the sessions to contribute vocals, and Crowell assembled another top-tier band including Glen D. Hardin on keyboards, Emory Gordy on bass, Richard Bennett on piano, Hank DeVito on guitar, and Ricky Skaggs on fiddle. One year later, in 1982, bluegrass master Skaggs would earn a No. 1 C&W hit with Clark’s “Heartbroke.” The Clark/Crowell co-write “The Partner Nobody Chose” reached No. 38 on the C&W singles chart, while “She’s Crazy for Leavin’” – their other co-composition – was revisited by Crowell in 1988 on his Diamonds and Dirt album. It went to No. 1 and remained on the chart for fourteen weeks!
Don’t miss a thing – there’s more on this set after the jump, including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »