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Release Round-Up: Week of April 15

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Bee Gees - Warner Bros. YearsBee Gees, The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

A new five-disc box collates the Bee Gees’ E.S.P. (1987), One (1989) and High Civilization (1991) – the first two of which have bonus tracks – and 1991′s One for All live concert, released for the first time on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Nas - IllmaticNas, Illmatic XX (Columbia/Legacy)

Queens’ favorite MC celebrates his landmark debut with a newly-expanded edition of the 1994 album with a bonus disc of rare remixes and unreleased tracks.

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

Donna LorenDonna Loren, These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings (Now Sounds)

Donna Loren is well-known for her appearances on television’s Shindig! and in the famous series of sixties Beach Party films, but Now Sounds’ new collection reveals her talents as a top-tier pop vocalist!  This expansive collection premieres previously unreleased material, and includes productions from David Axelrod and Steve Douglas, and arrangements by Jack Nitzsche, Billy Strange and H.B. Barnum – plus appearances by The Beau Brummels, Glen Campbell and the L.A. Wrecking Crew!  Look for Joe’s review Wednesday! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Black Sabbath boxBlack Sabbath, The Complete Albums 1970-1978 (Rhino)

A simple, compact box of all of Sabbath’s Ozzy-era albums. Perfect one-stop shopping! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Instant Funk Witch DoctorInstant Funk, Witch Doctor: Expanded Edition (Big Break Records)

The band’s second album for Salsoul, which followed up the hit single “I Got My Mind Made Up,” is remastered and expanded with three bonus tracks by BBR. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Lettermen First Four AlbumsThe Lettermen, The First Four Albums and More / Various Artists, Hard-to-Find Jukebox Classics 1963 (Eric)

Eric Records takes it back to the ’60s pop era with a two-disc compilation of albums from The Lettermen (including hit versions of “The Way You Look Tonight” and “When I Fall in Love,” plus 10 bonus tracks) and a set of rare singles and rarer mixes from 1963 (including the stereo debut of The Surfaris’ “Wipe Out”).

The Lettermen: Amazon U.S. (TBD) / Amazon U.K.
Hard to Find Jukebox ClassicsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 15, 2014 at 07:47

“Weird Scenes Inside” Rhino’s Record Store Day Slate

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Doors - Weird ScenesWith April 19’s Record Store Day a little more than a week away, it might be time to start making those checklists! We’ve already filled you in on exciting releases from Legacy Recordings, Real Gone Music, SundazedOmnivore Recordings, Varese Sarabande and many others, but today it’s all about Rhino! The Warner Music Group catalogue arm has a bumper crop of more than 25 exclusive offerings from some of the biggest names classic rock, vintage R&B and beyond – including The Doors, Grateful Dead, Ramones, Randy Newman, and, as previously reported, R.E.M.! And that’s not all.

A number of new titles are at the heart of Rhino’s RSD campaign. The Dead premieres Live at Hampton Coliseum for the first time on double vinyl, preserving the band’s Virginia concert of May 4, 1979. Another live set getting a first-ever vinyl issue is Donny Hathaway’s Live at the Bitter End 1971, first issued last year on the Never My Love: The Anthology box set. The Pogues with Joe Strummer Live in London 1991, was like the Donny Hathaway release, first issued on CD in a recent box set (last year’s 30 Years complete albums box) and makes its first appearance in the LP format. It dates back to the period when the Clash frontman filled in for Shane MacGowan in the Pogues line-up. Rhino’s new releases are rounded out by a collection of new-to-vinyl outtakes from country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, a new Greatest Hits from rapper and longtime Law and Order: SVU star Ice-T, and of course, R.E.M.’s eagerly awaited Unplugged 1991/2001: The Complete Sessions.

Randy Newman - Randy NewmanRhino continues its Side by Side series of 45s featuring two versions of the same song with pairings of Devo and The Flaming Lips (“Gates of Steel”), Dinosaur Jr. and The Cure (“Just Like Heaven”), Pantera and Poison Idea (“The Badge”) and two Mystery Artists– and Mystery Song, natch.  The label is also bringing a number of classic LPs back into print. These rare treats include The Birthday Party from Jeff Lynne’s pre-ELO psych-rock band The Idle Race, Randy Newman’s stunningly original debut solo LP – on which he created something new under the sun! – in its original mono version, Otis Redding’s mono Pain in My Heart, and classics from The Everly Brothers, The Velvet Underground, Hüsker Dü and many others.

Last but not least, Rhino has an array of compilations and singles on tap. Perhaps the most unexpected title is The Doors’ Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine, the band’s first compilation following the untimely death of Jim Morrison. First released in 1972, Gold Mine will also get a first-time CD reissue in May. A rare Ramones EP (1980’s Meltdown with the Ramones) and the first-ever U.S. release of Fleetwood Mac’s 1970 single “Dragonfly” b/w “Purple Dancer” join titles from Joy Division, The Specials, The Stranglers and even a reissue of Elektra’s 1964 multi-LP box set The Folk Box. The latter even comes with a bonus single featuring Judy Collins and Tom Paxton!

We wouldn’t leave you hanging with all of this tantalizing information; just hit the jump for the full specs (including limited edition numbers, vinyl details, etc.) as helpfully provided by our very own Mike D. for every title mentioned above and more! Look for Rhino’s releases at your finest local independent record retailer on Saturday, April 19. Read the rest of this entry »

Ain’t No Stopping Them Now: Sony Acquires Entire Philadelphia International Catalogue, Box Set Coming Soon [UPDATED]

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Philadelphia International Box

UPDATED 4/9 WITH NEW INFORMATION, LINKS AND IMAGES: The love train is pulling back into the station.

Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records, distributed by CBS Records, began life in 1971 with the release of Billy Paul’s Going East on LP and The Ebonys’ “You’re the Reason Why” on 45.  (Trivia fans, take note: Gideon Smith’s single “Arkansaw Wife” – yes, you read that right – has an earlier catalogue number, but the quintessentially Philly track by The Ebonys appears to have been released first.)  The R&B empire, which had built a catalogue of some of the most iconic soul music of all time, continued to be distributed by CBS until 1984.  At that time, control of the label’s post-1975 masters went to Gamble and Huff, with initial reissues (as well as new albums) coming under the EMI umbrella.  Pre-1976 recordings remained with CBS successor Sony Music Entertainment.  In 2007, Sony’s Legacy Recordings announced regained rights to the post-1975 recordings, and now, Sony and PIR have come full circle with the announcement that Sony has gained global ownership of all post-1975 PIR masters.

What this means for Sony is clear: the music industry giant now adds key titles to its roster from artists including Lou Rawls, Teddy Pendergrass, Jean Carn, The Jones Girls, The Stylistics, Archie Bell and the Drells, Jerry Butler, Phyllis Hyman, and others who began recording for PIR in 1976 and beyond.  What does this mean for fans and collectors?  In 2014, Legacy will launch a series of new physical and digital releases created from the combined PIR catalogue including “a definitive Philadelphia International Records box, budget single artist anthology titles, 12-inch and 7-inch vinyl replica collectibles and more.” 

In recent years, numerous PIR album reissues have arrived from Cherry Red Group’s Big Break Records (drawing on the pre-1976 recordings controlled by Sony) and Demon Music Group (the post-1976 recordings controlled by Gamble and Huff).    In early 2012, Legacy thrilled fans with the archival release of Golden Gate Groove, a Don Cornelius-hosted concert that brought together many of the label’s biggest and brightest stars, from the O’Jays to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass.  In 2013, Demon’s Harmless imprint issued a comprehensive (if oddly arranged) 10-CD box set drawing on the entire discography plus rare recordings from Gamble and Huff’s pre-PIR labels including Neptune, Gamble and North Bay and sister labels like TSOP, Golden Fleece, Tommy and Thunder.

The new catalogue activity from Sony starts in May!  What can you expect?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 9, 2014 at 13:21

Nils Lofgren “Faces the Music” with Massive, Career-Spanning 10-Disc Box Set

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Nils Lofgren - Face the Music CoverThis Thursday evening, Nils Lofgren joins the esteemed ranks of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers when he’s inducted into the institution as a member of The E Street Band. But Lofgren’s work as one of Bruce Springsteen’s resident axemen is only one facet of his exhilarating 45-year career in music. On May 27, 2014, Fantasy Records will deliver the ultimate celebration of Lofgren’s creativity and longevity with Face the Music. This definitive 9-CD/1-DVD box set contains 169 tracks drawn from Lofgren’s major-label and independently-released solo albums (including with his early band Grin), not to mention his own archives. Two of the CDs feature 40 previously unreleased recordings, while the DVD includes 20 diverse video clips.

The Chicago-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist had been immersed in music since his childhood, and was still in his teenage years when Neil Young called upon him to add piano and guitar to his now-classic 1970 album After the Gold Rush. It began an association between Lofgren and Young’s music that continues to this very day, and the young musician even briefly joined Crazy Horse, playing on the 1971 self-titled album by Young’s frequent collaborators. Lofgren’s own band, Grin, recorded four well-received albums of melodic yet edgy rock-and-roll between 1971 and 1973 on the Epic and A&N labels, before Nils launched his own solo career with 1975’s eponymous debut on A&M.

That solo career has lasted to this very day, even as Lofgren continues as a member of The E Street Band, a position he has held since 1984. Between 1975 and 2011, he’s released over twenty solo albums on labels including MCA, CBS, Rykodisc and his own Cattle Track Road Records. Many of these recordings are difficult to find today; as Lofgren notes in the press release for Face the Music, “If it takes 45 minutes of work on the Internet to find one track from 40 years ago, that’s not really available in my eyes.” Needless to say, many of Lofgren’s friends dropped in during his studio sessions, and so the box set features contributions from such luminaries as Young, Springsteen, Ringo Starr, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Levon Helm, Al Kooper, Buddy Miles, Aynsley Dunbar, Willie Nelson, Lou Gramm and Sam Moore of Sam and Dave. A testament to Lofgren’s prolific songwriting, the box also makes room for songs co-written by Lofgren and the late Lou Reed as well as with Alice Cooper’s associates Dick Wagner and Bob Ezrin.

Lofgren himself was instrumental in selecting the 169 tracks, stating, “[Fantasy parent Concord Records] had their good ideas, and then they said, ‘It’s your boxed set, so you pick.’ They asked me to make the final choices and decisions, including every song.” Grin is represented with such tracks as “Like Rain,” “White Lies,” “Slippery Fingers,” and “Beggar’s Day” (the last of which he also recorded with Crazy Horse), plus solo tracks like “Back It Up,” “The Sun Hasn’t Set,” “You’re the Weight,” “Incidentally … It’s Over,” and “Dreams Die Hard.”  Of his later-period material, Lofgren has tapped his records of original compositions plus live recordings, the soundtrack to the 1993 film Every Breath, his 2001 all-instrumental release Tuff Stuff! The Best of the All-Madden Team Band and 2008’s The Loner, a tribute to his longtime friend Neil Young. Besides the stellar Young covers of favorites like “Mr. Soul” and “I Am a Child,” there are also songs from Del Shannon (“I Go to Pieces”) and Bruce Springsteen (“Wreck on the Highway”).

The two CDs of previously unreleased music starts with Lofgren’s pre-Grin days with Paul Dowell and the Dolphin, and also features never-before-heard nuggets from Grin. Lofgren says, “The piece de resistance for me was finding an old master tape of Neil Young singing and playing piano on ‘Keith Don’t Go’ with Grin, and getting his permission to use it after we remixed it.”

After the jump, we have much, much more on Nils, including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 8, 2014 at 10:35

Release Round-Up: Week of April 1

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Cyndi Lauper - She's So UnusualCyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual: A 30th Anniversary Celebration (Portrait/Epic/Legacy)

One of MTV’s first queens wears the crown anew on this deluxe set featuring new remixes, rarities from the vault, rare photographs and a fun expanded package with a diorama and reusable sticker set.

Amazon U.S.: 1CD / 2CD / LP
Amazon U.K.: 1CD2CD / LP

Keith AllisonReal Gone slate: Doris Day, Music, Movies & Memories / Doris Day, Sings Her Great Movie Hits / Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, The Complete Atlantic Sides Plus (2-CD Set) / Cowboy, Reach for the Sky / Keith Allison, In Action — The Complete Columbia Sides and More!/ The Ohio Express, Beg, Borrow and Steal — The Complete Cameo Recordings / Eddie Kendricks, Love Keys / Vicki Lawrence, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia — The Complete Bell Recordings / The Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 19 — 10/19/73 Oklahoma City Fairgrounds Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

The latest Real Gone slate includes two compilations to celebrate Doris Day’s 90th birthday, soul rarities from Eddie Kendricks and Patti LaBelle and a great new Keith Allison set featuring new liner notes from Joe!

Doris Day/Music, Movies & MemoriesAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Doris Day/Great Movie HitsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Patti LaBelle: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Cowboy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Keith Allison: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Ohio Express: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Eddie Kendricks: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Vicki Lawrence: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Grateful Dead: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Alan Parsons Project - CompleteThe Alan Parsons Project, The Complete Albums Collection (Arista/Legacy)

The complete Alan Parsons Project discography in one box, including their non-Arista debut, 1976′s Tales of Mystery and Imagination: Edgar Allen Poe and the unreleased 1981 instrumental album The Sicilian Defence. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Dylan's GospelThe Brothers and Sisters, Dylan’s Gospel (Ode/Light in the Attic)

Ten gospel-fied covers of Bob Dylan tunes, featuring singers from Merry Clayton to Patrice Holloway, arrangements from Gene Page and contributions from Ode artists and friends including Carole King and John Phillips. First time in print in more than a decade!

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

Andy CappAndy Capp: Original West End Cast Recording (Stage Door Records)

Stage Door revives the original London cast recording of the 1982 musical based on Reg Smythe’s long-running comic strip. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

TCM Play It Again SamVarious Artists, Play It Again: The Classic Sound of Hollywood (TCM/Masterworks)

Joe will have a full rundown of the latest title in Masterworks and TCM’s vintage Hollywood series later this week! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

She’s The Greatest Star: Barbra Streisand’s Broadway “Funny Girl” Goes Super Deluxe For 50th Anniversary

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Funny Girl Box Set

Attention people who need people! Funny Girl is turning 50, and that’s no laughing matter.   To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the classic Broadway musical that launched Barbra Streisand to superstardom, Capitol/UMe is releasing a CD/LP super deluxe edition of the original cast album of Funny Girl on April 29th.

The musical by librettist Isobel Lennart, composer Jule Styne (Gypsy, Bells Are Ringing) and lyricist Bob Merrill (Carnival, New Girl in Town) depicted the rise to fame of comedienne/Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice (Streisand, in her second Broadway role) and her troubled relationship with husband Nicky Arnstein (Sydney Chaplin, son of Charlie and star of Styne’s Bells Are Ringing and Subways Are For Sleeping). Kay Medford and Danny Meehan also starred as Mrs. Brice and Eddie Ryan, respectively, and future All in the Family “Dingbat” Jean Stapleton was featured as Mrs. Strakosh. Funny Girl, directed by Garson Kanin and produced by Brice’s son-in-law Ray Stark, opened on March 26, 1964 after 17 previews at the Winter Garden Theatre (today, home to the musical Rocky). It then transferred to two more theaters before closing in 1967 after 1,348 performances; Mimi Hines succeeded Streisand as Fanny.   The show earned eight Tony nominations, but won none of them thanks to the unstoppable competition from David Merrick’s production of Hello, Dolly!. Streisand would be awarded for her portrayal of Fanny, however, when she won Golden Globe and Academy Awards for the 1968 film version. It would be her first role in a film. The musical produced a number of standards, including “I’m The Greatest Star,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and, of course, “People,” not to mention one of the most electrifying overtures ever composed.

The original cast album, one of Streisand’s only recordings not on Columbia Records, was recorded over just one session (as was standard practice at the time) at the Manhattan Center studios on April 5, 1964 and was produced by Dick Jones. Longtime Broadway champion Goddard Lieberson, the president of Columbia, reportedly passed on the cast album but made a stipulation that Streisand record a number of songs from the score for Columbia which she did in December of that year. (Two – “Who Are You Now” and “Cornet Man” – still remain locked in the Columbia vaults.)  Lieberson might have rethought his passing on the album if he could have foreseen its success. In stores just a scant week after it was recorded, it went on to spend 51 weeks on the Billboard chart. It peaked at No. 2, kept from pole position only by The Beatles’ Second Album (illuminating how much the charts have changed over 50 years!). The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Funny Girl would eventually be certified Gold in September of 1964 and go on to win the Grammy for Best Original Cast Album. It was released on CD in 1987 on Capitol and in 1992 on EMI’s Broadway Angel Label, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.

What will you find on the 50th Anniversary release?  Hit the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 26, 2014 at 12:32

Release Round-Up: Week of March 25

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Johnny Cash Out Among the StarsJohnny Cash, Out Among the Stars (Columbia/Legacy)

This new album of newly-discovered mid-’80s outtakes is perhaps better than what was released at the time. Gorgeous and, at times, haunting, the way Johnny Cash albums should be.

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

Elton GBYR 40 Super DeluxeElton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: 40th Anniversary Edition (Mercury/Rocket/UMe)

Elton’s classic double album comes back to glorious life with several lavish editions, featuring new covers of songs from the set, B-sides, live material and more.

1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
4CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Okie from MuskogeeMerle Haggard, Okie from Muskogee: 45th Anniversary Special Edition (Capitol Nashville)

Haggard and The Stranger’s classic 1969 live album is remastered and paired with the next year’s follow-up The Fightin’ Side of Me, in its first-ever CD release. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Miles at the FillmoreMiles Davis, Miles at the Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy)

Four discs of mostly-unheard jazz experimentation from one of Miles’ most challenging and enjoyable periods. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Rod Stewart - Live BoxRod Stewart, Live 1976-1998: Tonight’s the Night (Warner Bros./Rhino)

This long-rumored box, featuring 58 unheard recordings, now offers a fitting chronicle of Rod in concert. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

My Chem May Death Never  Stop YouMy Chemical Romance, May Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013 (Reprise)

New Jersey’s own late lamented My Chem, one of the best alt-rock bands of the past decade, release a career-spanning compilation with one unreleased song and several demos.

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

Essential Eric CarmenEric Carmen, The Essential Eric Carmen (Arista/Legacy)

A lovingly-assembled two-disc compilation honoring the talents of the singer/songwriter, from The Raspberries to today. Includes the gorgeous new track “Brand New Year.” (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Blue Nile Peace At LastThe Blue Nile, Peace At Last: Deluxe Edition (Virgin/UMC)

A surprise expansion of the Glasgow pop group’s 1996 album. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Far Beyond DrivenPantera, Far Beyond Driven: 20th Anniversary Edition (EastWest/Rhino)

The band’s hit 1994 album paired with a live bootleg disc of the band’s Monsters of Rock Festival 1994 performance. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

High Land Hard RainAztec Camera, High Land Hard Rain: Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition (Domino)

The Scottish rock band’s first album is expanded to just about completion, with single sides and unreleased tracks on a bonus disc.

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

TotoToto, TotoHydra / Turn Back (Rock Candy)

Toto’s perfectly crafted AOR-pop blend is represented by their first three albums, newly remastered for CD by Rock Candy.

Toto: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
HydraAmazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Turn BackAmazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Bruce BDVarious Artists, A MusiCares Tribute to Bruce Springsteen (Columbia)

Last year’s multi-artist live tribute concert in honor of The Boss, capped with a mini-set by Springsteen and The E Street Band.

DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Micky DolenzMicky Dolenz, Micky Dolenz Puts You to Sleep / Broadway Micky (Friday Music)

Two of Micky’s children’s albums for Kid Rhino from 1991 and 1994 reappear in print on one disc. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Message from the MagicBlue Magic, Message from the Magic (FunkyTownGrooves)

The Philadelphia soul band’s fifth album from 1977 is remastered and released for the first time on CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Island HarvestRonnie Lane and Slim Chance, Ooh La La: An Island Harvest (Mercury)

A hits-and-rarities compilation from the late Small Faces/Faces bassist’s mid-’70s group. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lou Reed BDJoni Mitchell, Woman of Heart and Mind + Painting with Words and Music / Lou Reed, Classic Albums: Transformer + Live at Montreux 2000 (Eagle Rock)

Eagle Rock brings four vintage programs back to video with these two Blu-ray releases, both part of the label’s new “SD Blu-ray” line.  As indicated, these programs are in upscaled standard definition video but have been upgraded to “uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD high resolution surround sound.”

Joni: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lou: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Review: Little Feat, “Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990″

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Little Feat - Complete WB“Well they say that time loves a hero/But only time will tell/If he`s real he`s a legend from heaven/If he ain`t he was sent here from hell…”  Though Little Feat’s singer-songwriter-guitarist Lowell George wasn’t among the writers of the song “Time Loves a Hero” from the band’s 1977 album of the same name, the lyric might well describe him.  Time has, indeed, told: almost 35 years after George’s death in June 1979, his legacy still resonates as does that of the band which he founded.  Yet during its first lifetime, Little Feat never scored a hit record.  One critic, in 1977, noted that the band was “still slogging around the country playing 3,000-seat arenas” despite praise from Led Zeppelin and The Marshall Tucker Band, not to mention The Rolling Stones.  Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Buffett, Linda Ronstadt and Phish have all celebrated Little Feat.  So why was Little Feat destined to remain a band’s band (as Buffett described them) or even a cult band rather than, say, a people’s band?  One definitive answer will likely remain elusive.  But the journey of discovery has never been as easily accessible as it is now, thanks to Rhino’s release of Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990.

This new 13-CD box set includes Little Feat’s first ten core albums, the 2002 expanded edition of the acclaimed 1978 live album Waiting for Columbus, and a bonus disc of rarities from the now out-of-print 2000 box set Hotcakes and Outtakes.  It spans the entire original run of Feat (1971-1979) as well as the first two albums from the regrouped unit circa 1988-1990.  Over the years, Feat endured a couple of key personnel changes.  Bassist Roy Estrada, who founded the group with his fellow Mother of Invention alumnus Lowell George as well as drummer Richie Hayward and keyboardist Bill Payne, was featured on just two albums.  The group briefly disbanded after those first two records, but once its members reconvened sans Estrada, the roster remained consistent from 1972-1979, with Hayward, Payne and George joined by bassist Kenny Gradney, guitarist Paul Barrere, and percussionist Sam Clayton.  When Little Feat reformed in 1988, its surviving members Hayward, Payne, Barrere, Gradney and Clayton enlisted vocalist Craig Fuller and guitarist Fred Tackett to round out the line-up.  But what remained the same was the group’s singular brand of good-time boogie.

Southern rock by way of southern California, Little Feat’s sound encompassed rhythm and blues, rock, country, jazz and funk, led by George’s distinctive slide guitar.  Other groups incorporated many of those influences, and the band was sometimes lumped in with the SoCal rock of Jackson Browne, the Eagles or Linda Ronstadt.  The latter was a friend of George’s, and no doubt fattened his bankbook when she included “Willin’” on her chart-topping 1975 album Heart Like a Wheel.  Of course, his truckers’ anthem to the pleasures of “weeds, whites and wine” wasn’t likely to follow “You’re No Good” and “When Will I Be Loved” to the top spots on the Billboard survey.

If George’s edgy, idiosyncratic, somewhat off-kilter lyrics didn’t augur for the band’s commercial fortunes, the group was lucky to have a committed label in the artist-friendly Warner Bros. Records.  The development of, and changes to, Little Feat’s sound becomes apparent on Rad Gumbo.  Showcasing its tight quartet of musicians and the songs of George and Payne (individually and collectively), the 1971 Russ Titelman-produced debut Little Feat established the band’s blue-collar country-rock cred thanks to tracks like “Truck Stop Girl,” “Hamburger Midnight,” “Strawberry Flats” and the first version of future signature song “Willin’.”  Kirby Johnson’s orchestration also showed that the band was, um, willin’ to go out on a musical limb.  The next year’s Sailin’ Shoes continued in the country-rock vein of Little Feat, but George’s amusingly surreal songwriting had become even stronger and more focused.  Producer Ted Templeman smoothed out the rougher musical edges on key tracks like the shoulda-been-a-hit “Easy to Slip” and a definitively re-recorded “Willin’,” plus an assortment of ballads and blues.  George’s title track attracted the attention of another Warner Bros. iconoclast, Van Dyke Parks, who included it on his steel drum-flecked calypso album Discover America.

When the “new” band premiered on 1973’s Dixie Chicken, it was imbued with the rollicking, soulful spirit of New Orleans.  Now also in the producer’s chair, George continued as the dominant writer and lead vocalist in the band.  He album tipped his hat to one of the Crescent City’s finest with a smoking cover of Allen Toussaint’s “On the Way Down,” but Little Feat was on the way up.  The band’s musicianship was tighter than ever, allowing for jams and intricate interplay.  Future full-time member Fred Tackett (also a close collaborator of Jimmy Webb) provided his acoustic guitar on the LP, with background vocals supplied by Bonnie Raitt, Gloria Jones and Bonnie Bramlett.  The fiercely funky title track garnered cover versions from artists ranging from Jack Jones (yes, that Jack Jones) to, years later, Garth Brooks.  Dixie Chicken remains Little Feat’s crowning achievement, but the band continued to hone the style of the album on future releases.

There’s much more Gumbo after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 21, 2014 at 13:49

Posted in Box Sets, Little Feat, Reissues, Reviews

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KISS Prep Smashes, Thrashes, Hits, Everything Else for Vinyl Mega-Box (UPDATED)

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KISSteriaThink of all the reissues, repackagings and other ephemera released over the decades by the unforgettable rock band (and impending Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees) KISS. Now quadruple them. That’s pretty much what to expect with KISSteria, the latest box set announced by the band.

This limited edition set, of which 1,000 units will be made, features 34 KISS albums on vinyl in an Anvil road case packed with more merchandise than you can wave a Love Gun (or anything else, really) at. This includes nearly all their studio albums (2009′s Sonic Boom is a no-show), the original members’ four solo albums from 1978, all five Alive! releases and even a few compilations. The included merch, according to USA Today, includes 11 archival 11″x17″ posters (including the band’s first promotional poster), four lithographs, vinyl cleaning supplies (including a cloth and turntable mat), dominos and a numbered certificate of authenticity.

The fearsome foursome (original lead singer Paul Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons plus current guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer), who will headline a tour with Def Leppard this summer, have more goodies from the vault expected, including KISS 40, a double-disc compilation featuring “one track from every major album, plus live cuts and an unreleased demo from 1977.” All of the vinyl reissues in KISSteria save for KISS Symphony: Alive IV and all of the compilations, will also be made available individually, with Amazon links prepping more than a dozen titles over the next two months.

Full pre-order info on KISSteria, including release date and pricing, will be made available at a later date, with fans being able to sign up for notification on the band’s official site. The full list of included albumsis posted below, with Amazon listings and street dates for some of the individual vinyl titles. (An Amazon U.S. listing for KISS 40, with a May 27 street date, is also live.)

  • KISS (1974) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Hotter Than Hell (1974) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Dressed to Kill (1975) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Alive! (1975) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Destroyer (1976) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Rock and Roll Over (1976) (vinyl available 5/27)
  • Love Gun (1977) (vinyl available 5/6 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Alive II (1977) (vinyl available 6/24)
  • Double Platinum (compilation, 1978) **
  • Gene Simmons (1978) (vinyl available 6/24)
  • Ace Frehley (1978) (vinyl available 6/24)
  • Paul Stanley (1978) (vinyl available 6/24)
  • Peter Criss (1978) (vinyl available 6/24)
  • Dynasty (1979) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Unmasked (1980) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Music from “The Elder” (1981) (vinyl available 5/27) +
  • Killers (compilation, 1982) **
  • Creatures of the Night (1982) (vinyl available 5/6 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Lick It Up (1983) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Animalize (1984) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Asylum (1985) (vinyl available 5/6 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Crazy Nights (1987) (vinyl available 5/27)
  • Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (compilation, 1988) **
  • Hot in the Shade (1989) (vinyl available 5/27)
  • Revenge (1992) (vinyl available 4/1 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • Alive III (1993) (vinyl available 5/27)
  • KISS Unplugged (1996) (vinyl available 5/6 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!! (1996) **
  • Greatest KISS (compilation, 1997) **
  • Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions (1997) (vinyl available 5/27) *
  • Psycho Circus (1998) (vinyl available 4/22 – Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
  • KISS Symphony: Alive IV (2003) **
  • Alive! The Millennium Concert (2006) (vinyl available 5/27 – Amazon U.S.) *
  • Monster (2012)

* vinyl debut
** vinyl exclusive to KISSteria box
+ available for the first time on vinyl in “concept album sequence”

Written by Mike Duquette

March 18, 2014 at 13:13

Posted in Box Sets, KISS, News, Reissues, Vinyl

Release Round-Up: Week of March 18

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Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis Legacy EditionElvis Presley, Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis: Legacy Edition 

The King’s 1974 live gig in his home turf is remastered and paired with a show in Richmond, Virginia from two days before and a handful of RCA studio rehearsals in Hollywood. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Belinda Anthology fullBelinda Carlisle, The Anthology / The Collection (Edsel/Demon)

Edsel did a great job of expanding Belinda’s solo catalogue last year; now, they’ve prepped a CD/DVD hits set and 3CD/2DVD box for the fans, with singles, rarities, promo videos and live material.

The Anthology (3CD/2DVD): Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
The Collection (CD/DVD): Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Odyssey I've Got the MelodyOdyssey, I Got the Melody Happy Together (Big Break Records)

The last two albums by the “Native New Yorker” dance group. Features the singles “Going Back to My Roots” (penned by Lamont Dozier), “Together” (written by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards) and “Inside Out”; both albums feature new liner notes and bonus tracks.

I Got the Melody: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Happy Together: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Barbara MasonBarbara Mason, Transition (Soul Brother/Passion Music)

A remastered edition of the “Yes I’m Ready” soul queen’s funky 1974 Buddah Records release, with arrangements from Philly soul greats Norman Harris, Bobby Eli and Richard Rome. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Sandra RhodesSandra Rhodes, Where’s Your Love Been (Omnivore)

Known for her background vocals and songwriting for everyone from Al Green to Conway Twitty, this forgotten 1972 album for Fantasy Records is rediscovered with seven bonus tracks and a whole lot of country-soul in the mix. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Goulet Brigadoon-Kiss Me KateRobert Goulet, Brigadoon / Kiss Me Kate: Original Television Soundtracks (Masterworks Broadway)

Robert Goulet stars in this pair of classic musicals-for-television!  This release marks the first time on CD(-R) for these rare Columbia Special Products albums originally released through, of all places, Armstrong flooring stores. They’re available exclusively at masterworksbroadway.com.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 18, 2014 at 08:39

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