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Review: Elvis Presley, “That’s The Way It Is: Deluxe Editions”

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Elvis - That's the Way It Is BoxIn 1992, American voters were asked to vote on not one, but two, matters of national importance: who should be the next President of the United States – and which image of Elvis Presley should grace a postage stamp. Bill Clinton won the former with roughly 43% of the popular vote, and as for the latter decision? It was “young Elvis” by a reported 75% landslide. The lithe, “Heartbreak Hotel”-era image of the pelvis-swiveling icon had triumphed over the jumpsuit-clad “old Elvis” – who, in fact, wasn’t that old. In 1969, when Elvis first set foot onstage at the International Hotel’s showroom, the biggest in Las Vegas, he was just 34 years old. He was dead a little over eight years later, at 42. But for those early days when Elvis ruled as the reigning King not just of Rock and Roll but of Sin City, too, there was likely no more electrifying performer. The proof is in the pudding – or more exactly, in the wealth of recordings left behind. If one were to leave a time capsule for future generations to discover the sound of American music – of rock and roll, pop and country melded into one blazing showbiz creation – it might look and sound a lot like RCA and Legacy Recordings’ massive new, 8-CD/2-DVD box set dedicated to Elvis’ That’s the Way It Is.

That’s the Way It Is was the title of both director Denis Saunders’ documentary/concert film chronicling the ascent of the “new Elvis” and RCA’s own hybrid LP consisting of eight recent studio recordings and four live tracks derived from the same 1970 Vegas “Summer Season” as the motion picture. (It was his third engagement at The International.) The matter-of-fact title might have disguised the fact that the contents of both projects were far from standard-issue. Admittedly, a better hint might have been the album’s cover artwork of Elvis in the kind of flamboyant white jumpsuit that defined his late period onstage attire (and was depicted in the rejected postage stamp). This wasn’t your mother’s – or at least, your older sister’s – Elvis. In 1970, Elvis’ past and present collided in exuberant fashion. The performer was capable of channeling the rock-and-roll fire that exuded such danger and sensuality roughly fifteen years earlier, but had moved into a new period in which he found the bigger the emotion, the better. “Hound Dog” and “Blue Suede Shoes” still played a part in this persona, but so did “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The role of big-voiced pop balladeer fit Elvis like a glove, and he filled much of his music in this era with equal parts heart, soul and sweat.

Legacy’s newest iteration of That’s the Way It Is continues the label’s series of Presley reissues that treat the artist’s catalogue with the respect it rarely received in his lifetime. His original album releases were often hastily-assembled collections of recordings drawn from various periods and sources and therefore lacking cohesion. Legacy’s reissues, often drawing on material excavated for the comprehensive, mail-order Follow That Dream program, have “cleaned up” the catalogue with such projects as Elvis at Stax and a number of expanded concert titles: Elvis in Person at the International Hotel and On Stage, Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden, Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite, and Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis. That’s the Way It Is marks the most gargantuan undertaking in the series – even more packed than 2011’s remarkable Young Man with a Big Beat.

The album was last expanded by RCA in 2001 as a 3-CD set and then in 2008 by Follow That Dream. The 2001 set included the original album with additional studio performances, the complete August 12, 1970 midnight concert and rehearsals/unreleased tracks, while the 2008 FTD release concentrated on the Nashville studio sessions for the album, presenting more than a full disc’s worth of alternate takes, rehearsals, rough mixes and more (including a couple of live performances). The new box drops most of the studio extras (all available elsewhere; it would take a detailed diagram to outline all of the releases of material from the Nashville 1970 sessions – especially as they also were tapped for the Elvis Country and Love Letters from Elvis LPs) and presents, instead, a deep and vivid exploration of the live performing artist on eight discs:

  • CD 1 – The Original Album plus a selection of alternate takes (outtakes) and single versions
  • CD 2 – August 10, 1970 Opening Night concert at Las Vegas’ International Hotel (previously released on One Night in Vegas from Follow That Dream)
  • CD 3 – August 11, 1970 Dinner Show (first release of full concert)
  • CD 4 – August 11, 1970 Midnight Show (previously released on Live in Las Vegas from Follow That Dream)
  • CD 5 – August 12, 1970 Dinner Show (first release of full concert)
  • CD 6 – August 12, 1970 Midnight Show (previously released on That’s the Way It Is in 2001)
  • CD 7 – August 13, 1970 Dinner Show (previously released on The Wonder of You from Follow That Dream)
  • CD 8 – Rehearsal Highlights

In addition, this release is the first to include the MGM motion picture along with its music. The DVDs in the box set are identical to those released in 2007:

  • DVD 1: 2001 Special Edition, Restoration Featurette, Elvis Career Highlights, Director/Restorer Filmographies, Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD 2: 1970 Original Theatrical Version, Outtakes

For those unwilling or unable to drop high coin on the box, Legacy has also offered a spiffy alternative in the form of a 2-CD highlights set. This Legacy Edition release includes the box set’s complete, 21-track first disc with the 1970 LP, alternate takes and 45 RPM single versions, as well as a second disc with the complete August 12 Dinner Show (CD 5 of the box set).

We’ve got plenty more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 8, 2014 at 12:43

Posted in Box Sets, Elvis Presley, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Release Round-Up: Week of August 5

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Elvis - That's the Way It Is BoxElvis Presley, That’s the Way It Is: Deluxe Editions (RCA/Legacy)

The King regained his crown with a 1970 stint at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, as depicted in the acclaimed documentary of the same name. A new box set features the original album on CD along with seven recorded live shows plus that documentary in two separate cuts on DVD; the documentary bows on Blu-ray next week.

8CD/2DVD box set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Legacy Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
TTWII Blu-ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Nils Lofgren - Face the Music ContentsNils Lofgren, Face the Music (Concord)

An impressive 9CD/1DVD box set celebrating the singer/songwriter/guitarist’s multifaceted career when not jamming in The E Street Band for the last three decades. Includes two whole discs of unreleased material! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Chairmen of the Board BoxChairmen of the Board, The Complete Invictus Studio Recordings 1969-1978 (Edsel)

The Detroit soul group behind “Give Me Just a Little More Time” gets a deluxe box set featuring all of their group and related solo studio albums plus two discs of bonus cuts and rarities. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Herbie Hancock - WB YearsHerbie Hancock, The Warner Bros. Years: 1969-1972 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

Before his lengthy tenure on Columbia, Hancock cut three albums for Warner Bros.; they are now compiled in one set with five rare and unreleased single sides. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Stephanie Mills For the First TimeThe Waters, Watercolors: Expanded Edition / Stephanie Mills, For the First Time: Expanded Edition / Lenny Williams, Rise Sleeping Beauty: Expanded Edition / Boys Town Gang, Disco Kicks: The Complete Moby Dick Recordings (1981-1984) (Big Break Records)

Big Break Records and sister imprint Hot Shot have a number of deluxe editions on tap this week including an expanded edition of Stephanie Mills’ 1975 Motown album For the First Time, which marked songwriter-producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s only sojourn to Motown – and their final full-length LP together!

The Waters: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Stephanie Mills: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lenny Williams: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Boys Town Gang: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

August 5, 2014 at 08:30

Rhino Gets The Led Out, Wave Two: “Led Zeppelin IV” and “Houses of the Holy” Arrive in October

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Led Zeppelin - IV Box

It may be the dog days of summer, but that hasn’t stopped Led Zeppelin from adding a little more heat.  Following yesterday’s news of the next two reissues in Paul McCartney’s Archive Collection series, the legendary blues-rock band has announced the two next installments in its own definitive reissue program.  On October 28, Rhino/Atlantic – in conjunction with Zeppelin’s Swan Song label – will release Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy in a variety of CD, vinyl and digital formats.

The album referred to as Led Zeppelin IV arrived in late 1971, bearing no album title or even the band’s name on its cover.  Not that anybody was confused; with songs like “Stairway to Heaven,” “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll” and “Going to California,” sales soared.  Though it peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, it’s currently the second-best selling album ever in the U.S., nestled between Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  How to top that?  Houses of the Holy, consisting of all original material, arrived in spring 1973, and moved the band even further away from its blues-based brand of hard rock.  Its layered production and intricate compositions of “The Rain Song,” “The Song Remains the Same” and the reggae-based “D’yer Mak’er” a chart-topping album on both sides of the Atlantic.

Both albums will be available in the style of the recent Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III reissues, in the following formats:

  • Standard CD – Remastered album packaged in a gatefold card wallet.
  • 2-CD Deluxe Edition (2CD) – Remastered album plus previously unreleased companion audio disc.
  • Standard LP – Remastered album on 180-gram vinyl, packaged in a replica sleeve of the album’s first pressing.
  • Deluxe Edition Vinyl (2LP) – Remastered album and previously unreleased companion audio pressed on 180-gram vinyl.
  • Digital Download – Remastered album and companion audio will both be available.
  • Super Deluxe Box Set featuring the remastered original album and companion audio on both CD and 180-gram vinyl, plus a high-resolution digital download card for all content, housed in a hardbound 80-page book with a high-quality print of the album cover (the first 30,000 of which are individually numbered) also included.

After the jump, we have more information including the complete track listings and pre-order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 29, 2014 at 12:13

Release Round-Up: Week of July 29

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Allman Brothers - Fillmore BoxThe Allman Brothers Band, The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings (Mercury/UMe)

The four shows in March 1971 that made up the band’s legendary breakthrough album are presented in full for the first time, along with the group’s closing set at the Fillmore East that following June. The Blu-ray version features the material in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound.

6CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3-BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
4LP Highlights: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Dream Academy - Morning LastedPeggy Lipton, The Complete Ode Recordings / Gene Rains, Far Away Lands — The Exotic Music of Gene Rains /How to Stuff a Wild Bikini: Original Stereo Soundtrack / Cass Elliot, Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore Plus Rarities – Her Final Recordings / Dee Dee Warwick, The Complete Atco Recordings / The Shirelles, Happy and in Love/Shirelles / The Dream AcademyThe Morning Lasted All Day — A Retrospective (Real Gone Music)

This diverse Real Gone set includes a compilation from underrated ’80s synthpop group The Dream Academy and recordings from Peggy Lipton, star of The Mod Squad; she covers the songs of Carole King, Laura Nyro, Brian Wilson and Tony Asher, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Jimmy Webb on this release, which has liner notes from our own Joe Marchese!

Peggy Lipton: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Gene Rains: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Wild BikiniAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Cass Elliot: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Dee Dee Warwick: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Shirelles: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Dream Academy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Deep Purple Mark 1Deep Purple, Hard Road: The Mark 1 Studio Recordings 1968-1969 (Parlophone U.K.)

Deep Purple’s first three albums get the box set treatment with bonus tracks and stereo and mono mixes of the first two albums. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

Get On UpJames Brown, Get on Up: The James Brown Story – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Polydor/UMe)

In honor of the new film opening this week, Universal’s got a new JB compilation, naturally featuring a pair of unreleased live tracks from 1966. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The BreezeEric Clapton and Friends, The Breeze (An Appreciation of J.J. Cale) (Bushbranch/Surfdog)

The legendary bluesman and some famous friends (Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer) pay tribute to the late blues singer-songwriter on this new album.

Standard Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Box Set: Surfdog Records
4LP: Surfdog Records

LC CookeL.C. Cooke, The Complete SAR Records Recordings (ABKCO)

This anthology collects the complete recordings of L.C. Cooke for his older brother Sam’s SAR Records label, including one complete shelved album produced and largely written by Sam, plus alternate takes, unreleased tracks, session chatter and bonus recordings from the Checker and Destination labels!  Musicians include Bobby and Cecil Womack, Billy Preston and “Pink Panther” saxophonist Plas Johnson! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

I Hope We Get to Love in TimeSilver Convention, Get Up and Boogie: Expanded Edition / Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., I Hope We Get to Love in Time: Expanded Edition / Phyllis Nelson, Move Closer (Big Break Records)

Big Break has three more R&B classics arriving on CD this week  including the first post-5th Dimension album from Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. featuring their smash “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show).”

Silver Convention: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Marilyn & Billy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Phyllis Nelson: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Super ChiefVan Dyke Parks, Super Chief (Yep Roc)

Yep Roc reissues Van Dyke Parks’ 2013 “orchestral fantasy” on standalone CD (previously only available as part of a Record Store Day vinyl package) for the first time! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

GOTG SoundtrackVarious Artists, Guardians of the Galaxy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (Hollywood Records)

Here’s the only collection approved for listening by The Star Lord! This indeed-awesome all-catalogue mix includes vintage cuts from The Jackson 5, The Raspberries, David Bowie, The Runaways, Blue Swede, Rupert Holmes and more – all but one of which (Norman Greenbaum’s immortal “Spirit in the Sky”) play key roles in the Marvel blockbuster-to-be! Also available as part of a 2CD or 2LP deluxe edition also including the film’s orchestral score by Tyler Bates!

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

Essential NSYNC*NSYNC, The Essential *NSYNC (Jive/Legacy)

This two-disc set from the late ’90s/early ’00s boy band lives up to its name for fans, featuring all the great hits (“Bye Bye Bye,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “Pop”) plus a myriad of rarities from compilations, soundtracks and international pressings. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ghostbusters_SoundtrackVarious Artists, Ghostbusters: Original Soundtrack Album (Arista/Legacy)

A sequel of sorts to the Record Store Day single co-produced by our own Mike Duquette, this is a straight reissue of the original soundtrack, newly remastered for vinyl. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Release Round-Up: Week of July 22

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Beatles - Japan BoxThe Beatles, The Japan Box (Apple/UMe)

Stereo remasters, mono remasters, U.S. albums…and now, the first five albums from Japan on CD! What will they think of next? (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Herbie Hancock - WB YearsHerbie Hancock, The Warner Bros. Years: 1969-1972 (Rhino)

UPDATE: This title has been delayed to August 5.  Three Warner Bros. albums (released before Herbie prolifically joined Columbia), each expanded with rare and unreleased promo single versions. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lost Time in a BottleJim Croce, Lost Time in a Bottle (Cleopatra)

A compilation of rare and unreleased demos and live performances from the celebrated singer, including two sets from 1964 and 1973. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Power and the GloryGentle Giant, The Power and the Glory (Alucard)

Steven Wilson remixes Gentle Giant’s 1974 album in stereo and 5.1 on a variety of formats!

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
DVD-Audio/CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Blu-ray Audio/CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Roslyn KindRoslyn Kind, Give Me You/This is Roslyn Kind (Masterworks Broadway)

Masterworks brings together the 1969 and 1968 RCA albums from Barbra Streisand’s talented half-sister, Roslyn Kind, on one CD-R or DD – including songs by Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and more!

Steve Lawrence Walking ProudSteve Lawrence with Eydie Gorme, Walking Proud: The Teen Pop Sides 1959-1966 (Teensville/Rare Rockin’ Records)

The Australian Teensville label compiles 33 sides from Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, individually and collectively, concentrating on the Brill Building-style pop songs they recorded for the ABC-Paramount, United Artists and Columbia labels! (Amazon U.S.)

Rio VINYLDuran Duran, Rio (Expanded Vinyl) (Parlophone)

This 180-gram, 2LP version of the classic New Wave album (possibly available when the album was expanded in 2009) features the original U.K. album master of Rio with a bonus 12″ featuring five remixes by David Kershenbaum for the original U.S. pressing. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

July 22, 2014 at 07:59

Smashing Pumpkins Give Fans Something to “Adore”

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Adore boxThe next installment in The Smashing Pumpkins’ ongoing catalogue campaign has been announced – and in traditional Smashing Pumpkins fashion, it’s accompanied by a typically Billy Corgan moment.

Released in 1998, the follow-up to the band’s acclaimed double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Adore found the Pumpkins enduring some structural and personal changes: drummer Jimmy Chamberlain was out, and frontman Corgan endured a divorce, the death of his mother, and a shift in musical direction. Gone were the distorted, alt-rock staple guitars, replaced instead with folk-inspired, electronic-based songs. Despite critical high marks and modern rock hits in “Ava Adore” and “Perfect,” Adore was disliked by some fans, and Corgan’s responses toward that backlash didn’t make him many friends.

So now the time has come for Adore to be rediscovered, as a seven-disc box set featuring the album in stereo (and mono, as heard on the original vinyl release), four discs of outtakes and live material plus a DVD from a stop on the band’s An Evening with The Smashing Pumpkins, which found the band playing mostly new material in unusual venues for charity. The announcement was not without its controversy, as seen in Corgan’s online missive criticizing Amazon for leaking the track list before the box was officially announced.

After the jump, you’ll find that track list, as well as a link for just the full box set thus far (additional formats will be expected over time). It’s due out September 23.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 21, 2014 at 13:56

Call Him The Breeze: Clapton and Friends Celebrate Music of J.J. Cale On New Album, Exclusive Box Set

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Eric Clapton - The BreezeIn 2006, Eric Clapton teamed with singer-songwriter J.J. Cale for the collaborative album The Road to Escondido.  The guitar god had long been a fan and patron of Cale’s; he included “After Midnight” on his 1970 solo debut and took “Cocaine” to the Top 30 in 1977.  Escondido earned both men a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and it would prove to be among Cale’s final recordings.  He released the album Roll On in 2009, featuring Clapton on its title track.  Then, in 2013, Cale passed away at the age of 74.  On July 29, Clapton pays homage to his old friend with The Breeze: An Appreciation of J.J. Cale.  In the spirit of The Road to Escondido, Clapton has called on pals and admirers alike to celebrate Cale’s legacy, among them Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson, Derek Trucks and John Mayer.  The Bushbranch/Surfdog Records release is being paired in a special online-exclusive box set with a disc of Cale’s original songs as covered on the new record, including three previously unissued tracks, as well as a special USB stick and more special content.

The Breeze takes its title from “Call Me the Breeze,” which Cale first recorded on his own solo debut, 1972’s Naturally.  The song was picked up by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare and John Mayer; Clapton tackles it himself on The Breeze.  Mayer joins Clapton on the new album for another Naturally tune, “Magnolia,” as well as for “Lies” (from 1973’s Really) and “Don’t Wait” (from 1982’s Grasshopper).  Tom Petty, whose latest album with The Heartbreakers also arrives this summer, handles “Rock and Roll Records,” “The Old Man and Me” and “I Got the Same Old Blues,” all from 1974’s Okie.  (Petty and his band covered the Okie track “I’d Like to Love You Baby” in concert, leading to its inclusion on their 2009 Live Anthology.)  Cale’s country-blues style also appealed to Willie Nelson, who appears on The Breeze with “Starbound” from Okie and the previously unheard “Songbird.”  Willie is supported on the former by The Allman Brothers Band’s Derek Trucks, who also is represented by “Crying Eyes” from Naturally.

Another guitar virtuoso, Mark Knopfler, is featured on two more previously unreleased Cale songs, “Someday” and “Train to Nowhere” with Don White.  Cale helped White form his first band and played guitar in that unit; White pays tribute to his friend and mentor with two more tracks, as well – “Sensitive Kind” and “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me),” from 5 and Okie, respectively.

After the jump, we have full specs on the box set plus track listings, order links and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 18, 2014 at 11:55

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