Archive for the ‘Alexander O’Neal’ Category
It was something like Sly Stone or James Brown for the New Wave set: tight, sparse R&B jams peppered with funky guitar and pulsating bass, sweetened with electronic accoutrements in the percussion section and dazzling synthesizers where a horn section might be. The “Minneapolis sound” changed soul music dramatically in the ’80s, with Prince and his collaborators, associates and followers (The Time, Andre Cymone, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Alexander O’Neal) helping rewrite musical style for a new generation.
With much of Prince’s recent material partially focused on retrofied jams (his last studio albums in the U.S., 2009′s LOtUSFLOWER and MPLSound, were heavy on the Linn LM-1 drums and Oberheim OBX synths that propelled the likes of 1999 and Purple Rain into pop immortality), and an entire wave of activity surrounding the Tabu Records catalogue with the help of Edsel Records this year, the time seems right to revisit just where that sound came from. Enter cratedigger label extraordinaire Numero, whose double-disc compilation Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound takes listeners back to the earliest days of the funk revolution.
Many of the 32 tracks herein feature names familiar to Prince fans, but the leadoff track features The Purple One himself. “If You See Me” is a long-circulating outtake by 94 East, a band formed by local musician Pepe Willie, who was married to a cousin of Prince’s. The teenager was encouraged early on by Willie, who recruited both Prince and a childhood friend, bassist Andre Cymone, to play in his band. Prince would of course find success producing, writing, arranging and performing his own material when signed to Warner Bros. in 1978 – but he took Cymone with him in his live backing band. (Cymone was not an official member of the famed Revolution, eventually being replaced by bassist Mark Brown, though he did sign to Columbia Records shortly thereafter and cut three albums, most famously 1985′s The Dance Electric, with a title track written by – you guessed it – Prince.)
The notable names don’t stop there. Purple Snow features cuts by Flyte Tyme, a funk outfit that featured among its ranks keyboardists James Harris III and Monte Moir, bassist Terry Lewis and drummer Jellybean Johnson. Lead singer Cynthia Johnson would depart the group for Lipps Inc. (it’s her pipes that grace dance classic “Funkytown”), and she would be replaced by another Twin Cities up-and-comer, Alexander O’Neal. Those five would be considered for a project Prince was allowed to produce for Warner Bros.; ultimately, he kept all but O’Neal, whom he replaced with Morris Day. Adding guitarist Jesse Johnson and percussionist/comic foil Jerome Benton (and downplaying his writing-producing-performing output under the pseudonym Jamie Starr), Prince created The Time, arguably his best spin-off project. (Jam and Lewis were ejected from the band before the release of Purple Rain, in which The Time figure heavily; the band split up shortly thereafter but briefly reunited for new albums in 1990 and 2011.)
Jam and Lewis, of course, used the Flyte Tyme moniker to get their producing career off the ground in the middle of the decade, working for Tabu Records (writing and producing for O’Neal, Cherrelle and The S.O.S. Band) before hitting it big collaborating with Janet Jackson. But even before that, Jam was a principal member of Mind and Matter, another local outfit honored both on this set (with both sides of their only single and another outtake) and another forthcoming Numero title: 1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement), a compilation of nine unreleased home demos largely written and produced by the future Jam. Mind and Matter were, perhaps, a more organic alternative to the Minneapolis sound, and it’s a fascinating listen/companion piece to the mighty Purple Snow.
Purple Snow will be available as a 2CD or 4LP set, each packed in hardbound packages with copious liner notes and essays. The first 500 pre-orders from Numero’s website get an additional, Prince-ish vinyl treat: a 7″ single featuring “Twin Cities Rapp,” David “T.C.” Ellis’ 1985 single in tribute to the by-then internationally-renowned Minneapolis acts of the day. (T.C. would later affiliate himself with the Prince camp, co-starring in the bizarre Purple Rain sequel Graffiti Bridge in 1990 and releasing a full-length, True Confessions, on The Artist’s Paisley Park label a year later.) It’s in stores December 3, while Mind & Matter’s 1514 Oliver Avenue (Basement) is available now. After the jump, you’ll find the full track lists for both!
UPDATE (11/4): This post now has confirmed track lists for the FIRST EIGHT WAVES of reissues.
The long-gestating reissue campaign for Tabu Records by Demon Music Group looks to be taking shape – not only for the first wave of titles in the spring, but for a slew of content ambitiously planned through 2014.
Founded in 1976 by Clarence Avant (who’d previously started the Venture and Sussex labels), Tabu scraped by for six years until a chance meeting and an inconvenient snowstorm gave the label two of its greatest staff producers. An early key act, The S.O.S. Band, had a late disco hit with debut single “Take Your Time (Do It Right),” a Top 5 hit in 1980. Three years later, their fourth album On the Rise was being produced in their native Atlanta by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the keyboardist and bassist for Minneapolis funk outfit The Time.
When a freak blizzard caused the duo to miss a gig, Jam and Lewis were summarily fired by The Time’s creator, producer and songwriter, Prince. Their loss became Tabu’s gain, however, as Jam and Lewis, through their Flyte Tyme Productions partnership, produced a flurry of hits for not only Tabu artists but others, including Janet Jackson.
The Flyte Tyme sound – a more brazen variation on Prince’s “Minneapolis sound” – was well-formulated at Tabu. Alexander O’Neal, a vocalist with whom the pair had worked with in an early lineup of The Time, scored several big R&B hits with Jam and Lewis in the late ’80s, including “Fake,” “Criticize” and “If You Were Here Tonight.” Likewise, the duo did wonders for Cherrelle, a female vocalist who had her biggest successes duetting with O’Neal (“Saturday Love,” “Never Knew Love Like This”) but also had her own measure of solo success. (Hers was the first version of Jam and Lewis’ “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” later a Top 10 hit for Robert Palmer on both sides of the Atlantic.)
A recent Facebook post from the label indicates plans to “re-issue the entire Tabu catalogue on expanded re-mastered CDs, digital, a selection of 180GM vinyls, and some amazing boxsets.” Find out just what that covers after the jump!
Never released in the U.S. or on CD, the wave of Nilssonmania continues with this: Harry’s last album, released in 1980, now available on remastered vinyl or CD with several unheard bonus tracks.
Kershaw’s second LP, featuring one of the most criminally underrated singles ever in the title track, is reissued as a double-disc set with B-sides, remixes and rare vintage live cuts. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Various Artists, The South Side of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976 (Omnivore)
The fifth wave of Tabu’s ongoing reissue campaign.
A companion piece to a new book of rare and unreleased photos from LIFE magazine, this disc features a handful of tracks from the Cash Bootleg Series along with two unreleased cuts. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Culture Factory remasters: 38 Special, Special Delivery / Thank God It’s Friday: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack / Kim Carnes, Barking At Airplanes / Lighthouse
Merry Clayton, The Best of Merry Clayton (Ode/Legacy)
Tell all the people: the singer who gave The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” its soulful grit recorded several LPs for Lou Adler’s Ode label. In honor of her belated star turn in the new documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom, Legacy has released the first-ever compilation of selections from these works, including many impressive covers of the likes of The Doors, James Taylor and Neil Young. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
The fourth wave of Tabu reissues from Edsel stretch from 1978 to 1991, covering some of the lesser-known works of the label’s flagship artists.
The earth has music for those who listen, proclaimed Clarence Avant’s Tabu Records label. A major force in contemporary R&B from the late 1970s through the 1990s, Tabu followed in the footsteps of other black-owned, independent music empires as Berry Gordy’s Motown and Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International. While Tabu never achieved the same level of crossover success as those aforementioned labels, it indeed picked up the torch of “The Sound of Young America,” and its cutting-edge electronic style still reverberates in R&B and hip-hop today. Earlier in 2013, the U.K.’s Demon Music Group announced the reactivation of the Tabu label for an ambitious reissue program, the second wave of which has recently arrived in stores. This batch includes two classic titles from the era-defining production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Alexander O’Neal’s Hearsay (1987) and Cherrelle’s High Priority (1985), both reissued as double-disc sets. In addition, this wave includes single-disc expansions of The S.O.S. Band’s S.O.S. (1980) and Kathy Mathis’ Katt Walk (1987).
1980’s gold-selling S.O.S. marked the LP debut of The S.O.S. Band: Jason “T.C.” Bryant on keyboards and vocals, Billy “B.E.” Ellis on saxophone, keyboards and vocals, Mary Davis on vocals and percussion, James Earl Jones III on drums and vocals, Willie “Sonny” Killebrew on saxophone, flute and vocals, Bruno Speight on lead guitar and John Simpson on bass. The album was produced by Sigidi Abdullah; the band’s hits with Jam and Lewis would come later. Abdullah co-wrote “Take Your Time (Do It Right),” the No. 1 R&B/No. 12 Pop song that became the band’s first calling card. But it’s just one of eight essential tracks on this debut album which owes as much to the sound of the seventies as to the new decade it welcomed.
The S.O.S. Band successfully managed to synthesize the effusive but commercially-waning sound of disco with a solid bed of funk and a key pop sensibility that seemingly owed much to Earth, Wind and Fire. Like that group, the S.O.S. Band prominently employed horns for a style that would attract soul fans both young and old, and boasted talented vocalists, including the big-voiced Mary Davis. S.O.S. was truly the organic sound of a band at work, and showed off each side of its style, from slow-burning ballads to catchy dancefloor anthems. Almost every track on the album could have been pulled as a single,
The sleek EWF sound is most evident on “Open Letter,” while wistful, Bacharach-esque horns add dimension to the melancholy “What’s Wrong with Our Love Affair.” The exuberantly up-tempo “Love Won’t Wait for Love” emphasizes disco flourishes with its big strings, horns and suitable-for-dancing break. Of course, the sexy smash “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” also had its roots in disco, and hasn’t lost any of its luster in the ensuing years. Neither has “Take Love Where You Find It,” another big, brassy, disco-flavored track with tasty flute so redolent of the era. Six bonus tracks have been added to S.O.S., including the single edit and disco mix of “S.O.S. (Dit Dit Dit Dash Dash Dash Dit Dit Dit),” the long version and both sides of the single of “Take Your Time (Do It Right),” and the edit of “What’s Wrong with Our Love Affair.” Justin “Musicology” Kantor provides the liner notes, which contain fresh quotes from Mary Davis and trumpeter Abdul Ra’oof.
After the jump: the scoop on Cherrelle, Alexander O’Neal and Kathy Mathis! Read the rest of this entry »
The latest wave of Tabu reissues available from the U.K.: all have bonus tracks, with Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neal’s sets presented as two-disc packages. Amazon U.K. links are above; here are U.S. links for The S.O.S. Band, Cherrelle, Alexander O’Neal and Kathy Mathis.
A four-disc compilation highlighting the last five years of soundtracks the esteemed score label has released. And check out that amazing gala performance they’re hosting this weekend! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Small Faces, There Are But Four Small Faces (Varese)
.38 Special, Special Delivery (Culture Factory)
A straggler from last week’s Culture Factory batch, this is the long out-of-print second album from 1978 by .38 Special.
Brainstorm / S.O.S. Band / Cherrelle / Alexander O’Neal, “Tabu Reborn” Expanded CD Editions (Wave 1) (Tabu/Edsel)
After a fresh batch of vinyl last week, the Tabu Records reissue campaign (going strong through next year) kicks off with expanded editions of Brainstorm’s Stormin’, The S.O.S. Band’s III, Cherrelle’s Fragile and Alexander O’Neal’s self-titled debut. All feature bonus tracks (Alexander O’Neal has a bonus disc) and fresh deluxe packaging.
Moz’s latest remastered, reconfigured album is his 1991 sophomore effort (featuring a revised track list with two B-sides and an unreleased alternate version of “There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends”), and it will be promoted with new versions of his hit 1989 single with unreleased songs from a BBC session serving as the B-sides.
The irrepressible Sandie Shaw’s first three albums are remastered and expanded with many single sides, and a new career-spanning compilation puts it into perspective for the new fan.
Julio Iglesias, 1: Greatest Hits (Columbia/Legacy/Sony Music Latin)
Celebrate the Spanish crooner with this two-disc set of classic and newly-recorded versions of his greatest hits, also available as a deluxe set with a remastered 1990 concert on DVD.
Paul Anka, Duets (Legacy)
Electronic, Electronic: Special Edition (EMI)
A double-disc expansion of this collaborative effort between New Order’s Bernard Sumner and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, with a bonus disc of mostly unrelated extras. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Two musical scores from the Masterworks vault make their way to digital retailers, with the latter score featuring six bonus tracks from the show’s star, Danny Kaye.
The start of a lengthy reissue campaign from Demon Music Group, these are 180-gram vinyl reissues of The S.O.S. Band’s III (1982), Cherrelle’s 1984 debut Fragile, and Alexander O’Neal’s self-titled debut from 1985. Expanded editions of these albums come out on CD next week, followed by a great many more waves of product throughout 2013 and into 2014!
Two new lavish sets collect all the single sides worldwide by two of Motown’s most underrated vocal groups – and in the case of Martha & The Vandellas, there’s a bonus disc of unreleased “lost and found” content to enjoy, too!
Mad Season, Above: Deluxe Edition (Columbia/Legacy)
This short-lived grunge supergroup, featuring Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley and members of Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees, only put out one record, but it’s been expanded as a 2CD/1DVD set featuring unreleased tracks (with vocals by Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan) and live audiovisual content. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
David Gates, The Early Years: The Early Songwriting Genius of David Gates (Rare Rockin’)
Before leading Bread, Gates was a talented singer-songwriter whose early works were covered by a myriad of vocalists – many of which are making their CD debuts on this compilation. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Simple Minds, Celebrate: The Greatest Hits (Virgin/EMI)
As the ’80s hitmakers embark on a new tour, this new hits compilation – available in double and triple-disc variants – was made available in the U.K. last week. (A U.S. release is reportedly slated for later this spring.)
Rilo Kiley, RKives (Little Record Company)
A collection of rare and unreleased material from the now-defunct L.A. band.
Chet Atkins with The Boston Pops, The Pops Goes Country/The Pops Goes West / The Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 24: Cow Palace, Daly City, CA – 3/23/1974 / Tom Jans, Take Heart/Tom Jans / Barbara & Ernie, Prelude To… / Steve Lawrence, Winners!/On a Clear Day / Don Nix, Living by the Days / Eydie Gorme & The Trio Los Panchos, Amor/More Amor / Margaret Whiting, The Wheel of Hurt: Deluxe Edition / Maggie Isn’t Margaret Anymore/Pop Country / Alfred Newman, The Diary of Anne Frank: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The latest wares from Real Gone: plenty of two-fers, a rare Alfred Newman soundtrack, a new Dead reissue and expanded works from country-pop singer Margaret Whiting.
Jerry Butler, Love’s on the Mend/Suite for the Single Girl / Stephanie Mills, Merciless: Expanded Edition / Donna Washington, Going for the Glow: Expanded Edition / Nancy Wilson, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You/Now I’m a Woman (SoulMusic)
A slew of great titles from SoulMusic are out this week, including a Stephanie Mills album produced by the late Phil Ramone. Check out the above post for details.
And the latest expanded titles from Big Break include some Motown and T.K. rarities, including Anita Ward’s megahit “Ring My Bell.”
Eagles, The Studio Albums 1972-1979 (Elektra/Rhino)
Some small morsels of potential catalogue-oriented stuff coming your way on this fine Thursday:
- Demon Music Group promised back in July a slew of reissues from the Tabu Records catalogue, a label that included R&B hits by Cherrelle, Alexander O’Neal and The S.O.S. Band. It looks like those plans may be moving further forward: the label’s official Facebook page yesterday teased “huge plans for the label” in 2013.
- Though not out of reissue ideas for their own proper catalogue, Duran Duran look to be hinting at a revival of the long-abandoned TV Mania project. The self-described “social junk culture triptych opera” was a collaboration between founding keyboardist Nick Rhodes and former guitarist Warren Cuccurullo that was assembled in the 1990s; none of it was ever officially released, but TV Mania was the listed producer for Duran’s Medazzaland (1997) and Pop Trash (2000) albums. Details are scant, but an official site with mailing list sign-up went live yesterday.
- Living Colour, one of the best hard rock groups of the ’80s and ’90s, are touring in honor of the 25th anniversary of their debut LP, Vivid. The Grammy-winning disc spawned the hit “Cult of Personality”; the band will play the album in its entirety in a string of dates across Europe and North America this spring. Frontman Corey Glover recently alluded to a reissue of the album as well, though no concrete plans have been confirmed.
- One of rock’s last holdouts is bringing his catalogue to iTunes: Kid Rock will release all of his studio and live albums (Devil Without a Cause (1998), The History of Rock (2000), Cocky (2001), Kid Rock (2003), Live Trucker (2006), Rock N Roll Jesus (2007), Born Free (2010) and Rebel Soul (2012)) to the digital service on Tuesday, January 15.