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Release Round-Up: Week of February 25

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Your ArsenalMorrissey, Your Arsenal: Definitive Master (Parlophone)

We don’t hate it when Moz becomes successful, as was the case with his third non-compilation album from 1992, which now comes with an unreleased live show on DVD.

CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Johnny Winter - True to the BluesJohnny Winter, True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story (Columbia/Legacy)

A four-disc tribute to the influential blues guitarist, who turned 70 on Sunday. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

Workbook 25Bob Mould, Workbook: 25th Anniversary Edition (Omnivore)

After the disbandment of Hüsker Dü, singer/guitarist Mould was on the solo beat with this album, now expanded with an unreleased 1989 concert at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Silversun PickupsSilversun Pickups, The Singles Collection (Dangerbird Records, 2014)

The L.A. rockers collect their last nine or so years of A-sides on a professionally-pressed CD-R compilation or a box of six vinyl singles; both feature a newly released track, “Cannibal.”

 

CD-R: Amazon U.S.
6 x 7″ box:  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Tabu boxVarious Artists, The Tabu Records Box (Tabu/Edsel)

A 6CD/1DVD/1 45 RPM overview of the classic ’70s/’80s R&B label, whose works have been thoroughly reissued by U.K. label Edsel over the past year. (Amazon U.K.)

And Once AgainIsaac Hayes, For the Sake of Love: Expanded Edition / And Once Again: Expanded Edition /Patti LaBelle, Released: Expanded Edition (Big Break Records)

Three new BBR reissues include two Isaac Hayes LPs for Polydor in the ’80s and LaBelle’s final studio album for Epic, which reunited her with producer Allen Toussaint. Joe, of course, has a full summary coming soon!

For the Sake of Love: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
And Once Again: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Released: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Just the Way You Like It: Hits, Videos Compiled on Tabu Box Set

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Tabu boxAfter more than a year of reissues of the Tabu Records catalogue by Edsel – reissues that have been relatively lavish but particularly divisive for their occasional lapses in audio quality – the label has prepped a thorough career-spanning box set.

The Tabu Records Box Set is a 6CD/1DVD affair collecting tracks from all of the label’s major releases between 1977 and 1991. Each disc will be broken down by theme; the first focuses on early soul albums by the likes of The S.O.S. Band and Brainstorm plus more left-of-center instrumental albums by Manfredo Fest and noted composer Lalo Schifrin. (Some of these tracks, particularly those by Schifrin, have not been celebrated with individual reissues, making their inclusion a particular treat.) Disc 2 highlights dance tracks from that early era (“Lovin’ is Really My Game,” “Groovin’ (That’s What We’re Doin’)”) while Disc 3 showcases the romantic side of the label’s roster.

Discs 4 and 5 highlight Tabu’s biggest peak in the ’80s, when producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, formerly of The Time, set up shop as writers/producers for Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle and The S.O.S. Band. Hits like “Just Be Good to Me,” “Never Knew Love Like This,” “Saturday Love” and “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On” blossomed from this period. The set closes with some of the lesser-known acts from the label’s twilight years, including Demetrius Perry, Kathy Mathis and Rhonda Clark.

Also included in the box is a DVD featuring promo videos (mostly by O’Neal) and interviews with label founder Clarence Avant as well as Jam & Lewis, and a bonus 7″ single featuring two of the label’s more obscure grooves, “Changin'” by (Ms.) Sharon Ridley and “Jungle Kitten” by Manfredo Fest. A 60-page booklet features notes by box compiler Ralph Tee plus an extensive label discography.

The whole affair is available February 24 and can be ordered after the jump, where you’ll find an exhaustive breakdown of the tracks! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 11, 2014 at 10:46

Purple Reign: Numero Anthologizes Early Minneapolis Funk Bands

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Purple SnowIt 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!

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 7, 2013 at 13:39

Strictly Tabu: Edsel Readies Reissue Campaign for R&B Label (UPDATED 8/29)

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Tabu 2013

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!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 4, 2013 at 09:05

Release Round-Up: Week of August 13

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Harry Nilsson - Flash HarryHarry Nilsson, Flash Harry (Varese Vintage)

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.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S.

The RiddleNik Kershaw, The Riddle: Remastered Expanded Edition (UMC)

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.)

South Side of Soul StreetVarious Artists, The South Side of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976 (Omnivore)

Two discs of single sides from the forgotten Nashville label Minaret are collected for your listening pleasure. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

 

Love Makes No SenseThe S.O.S. Band, Just the Way You Like It / Kathy Mathis, A Woman’s Touch / Alexander O’Neal, Love Makes No Sense: “Tabu Reborn” Expanded Editions (Tabu/Edsel)

The fifth wave of Tabu’s ongoing reissue campaign.

S.O.S. Band: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Kathy Mathis: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Alexander O’Neal: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Cash Life UnheardJohnny Cash, LIFE Unheard (Sony Music)

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.)

CSN Gold DiscHi-res reissues: Crosby, Stills & Nash, CSN / James Taylor, Gorilla (24K Gold CDs – Audio Fidelity) / Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits (SACD – Analogue Productions)

Thank God It's FridayCulture Factory remasters: 38 Special, Special Delivery Thank God It’s Friday: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack / Kim Carnes, Barking At Airplanes Lighthouse

Written by Mike Duquette

August 13, 2013 at 07:41

Release Round-Up: Week of July 9

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Best of Merry ClaytonMerry 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.)

All True ManBrainstorm, Journey Into the Light / The S.O.S. Band, On the Rise / Alexander O’Neal, All True Man / Cherrelle, The Woman I Am (“Tabu Reborn” Expanded Editions) (Tabu/Edsel)

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.

Written by Mike Duquette

July 9, 2013 at 08:20

Review: Tabu Wave 2 – Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle, Kathy Mathis and The S.O.S. Band

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SOS BandThe 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 »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 30, 2013 at 10:07

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