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Donna Loren’s Complete Capitol Anthology Reveals A Wealth Of Pop Treasures

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Donna Loren“I’m just a little girl, but I feel a woman’s love for you,” Donna Loren sings on the first track of Now Sounds’ delicious new anthology These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings. Those familiar with the teen starlet’s lone Capitol long-player, Beach Blanket Bingo, might be forgiven for thinking this release would be more of the same sand-and-surf fun. But as Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Just a Little Girl” reveals, there’s much more to the music of Donna Loren. The newly discovered tracks on Good Times lyrically hew, in large part, to the teen-pop territory of melancholy and devotion.   But in every respect – not least of all vocally and musically – they’re prime West Coast pop nuggets. Fans of the Los Angeles sound will recognize every name here, all at the top of their game: producers David Axelrod, the outré pop guru, and Steve Douglas, Wrecking Crew saxophonist; arrangers Jack Nitzsche, H.B. Barnum, Gene Page and Billy Strange; musicians Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Lyle Ritz, Ray Pohlman, Tommy Tedesco, Larry Knechtel, Don Randi, Plas Johnson, Julius Wechter, and future headliners Glen Campbell and Leon Russell.

Donna Loren turned eighteen in 1965, when two-thirds of this collection’s 29 songs were cut. She first entered Capitol’s Hollywood studios, one year earlier in 1964, as the winsome “Dr. Pepper girl” and a beach party film ingénue. Fresh off a brief stint at Challenge Records, she recorded a handful of singles with David Axelrod and arranger-conductor H.B. Barnum, and all of these 45s are included on the non-chronologically-sequenced Good Times. “Just a Little Girl” was among the first songs Loren recorded at Capitol, yet it stands out as one of the strongest of her tenure with the label. “Ninety Day Guarantee,” another early single, boasts surf guitar and groovy organ. But a handful of songs that were left in the can from 1964 are more exciting than the released tracks from that year. Bob Montgomery’s sassy “Leave Him to Me” shows Donna cutting loose with a convincing growl in her voice. If she’s positively commanding there, the goofy “Drop the Drip” is light, enjoyable teenage fun (“Just because he doesn’t wear tight pants, combs his hair a kooky way/’Cause he doesn’t like the latest dance, they call him Squaresville, USA!”) from one of America’s sweethearts. “Good Things” has a bit more of an R&B feel.

Loren returned to Capitol’s studios in March 1965 to lay down vocals for her Beach Blanket Bingo album on which she sang all of the songs from the American-International picture – including those performed in the film by Annette Funicello, still recording for Disney and unavailable for the soundtrack. The songs by Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner make for a pleasant if lightweight listen. The pair gave Loren one of her performance staples, “It Only Hurts When I Cry” alongside MOR fare like this volume’s title track “These Are the Good Times.” But Beach Blanket isn’t altogether indicative of Loren’s versatility. One non-LP side emerged from the same March 1965 session, a kooky novelty called “So, Do the Zonk.” Alas, the Zonk dance craze never took off!

When she next entered the Tower, Loren was paired with producer Steve Douglas and arranger Jack Nitzsche for the five songs that form the heart of this compilation. Shockingly, only one of these recordings was originally selected for release by Capitol: Tony Hatch’s oft-recorded “Call Me.” Like so many of the songwriter supreme’s other hits, it was written for Petula Clark. But the U.S. hit of the song went to A&M artist Chris Montez in Herb Alpert’s breezy clap-along arrangement. In 1966, Frank Sinatra and his longtime arranger Nelson Riddle transformed it into a slow yet sizzling swing standard for the Chairman’s Strangers in the Night album. Loren’s version predated both of those renditions, and it’s inexplicable that she didn’t chart with it. Nitzsche inventively ladles on the strings, horns and background vocals over Loren’s coquettish lead, which frequently evokes an expressive cross between Jackie DeShannon and Tammy Grimes. “Call Me” was paired on 45 with a boisterous visit to Ashford, Simpson and Armstead’s “Smokey Joe’s,” proving that Loren was as adept with big beat as with big ballads.

Nitzsche scored another Goffin/King tune for Loren, “They’re Jealous of Me,” which was also recorded by Earl-Jean (“I’m Into Something Good”) and Connie Stevens.   It makes its debut here. The full Wall of Sound treatment was naturally applied to Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Spector’s “Woman in Love (With You).” The Ronettes’ recording of the song was released in 1975, while The Crystals’ (led by La La Brooks) didn’t receive a commercial release until 2011. This was one unlucky song; Donna’s sublime rendition sat in the vaults until Ace Records unearthed it in 2006 for Hard Workin’ Man, its second Nitzsche compendium. Nitzsche also brought baroque flourishes and Spectorian pomp to Mann and Weil’s sublime “That’s the Boy.” It was first released on Ace’s Glitter and Gold anthology of the duo’s work. The anthemic “Hold Your Head High” from the team of Randy Newman and Jackie DeShannon is another stunningly mature, previously unreleased track from the Loren/Nitzsche/Douglas/Wrecking Crew cadre. Donna’s direct, emotional vocal cuts through the martial beat and big production, and delivers a surprising degree of intimacy.

The rare and never-before-heard music doesn’t stop there. The Beau Brummels backed Donna on the folk-rock of Brummel Ron Elliott’s “It’s Gotta Be,” with Glen Campbell also on guitar, from October ’65. And then there’s “You Can’t Lose Something You Never Had.”   This majestically dramatic song from the pre-fame Al Kooper with his then-regular writing partners Bob Brass and Irwin Levine has been described by Kooper as “admittedly Bacharachian” and “still one of my favorites from the old days.” It’s not hard to see why, as his emotional melody soars in unexpected directions. Kooper once stated that he was only aware of the MGM Records original 45 by Bruce Scott and the demo by Jimmy Radcliffe; one hopes he hears Donna’s recording post haste. The production by Douglas and arrangement by Billy Strange is less overtly Bacharach-esque than on the Scott single, with The Wrecking Crew expertly recalling Pet Sounds in its introduction (which it, of course, predated) and Tony Hatch in its brassy elegance. Loren’s vocal is filled with the requisite urgency; these two-and-a-half minutes alone would be reason enough to take a chance on These Are The Good Times. Strange was also the arranger of “My Way,” which isn’t Frank Sinatra’s defiant anthem but rather a pleasant beat tune. Alas, the identity of its writer(s) has been lost to time.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

April 16, 2014 at 13:16

Posted in Compilations, Donna Loren, News, Reviews

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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 »

Review: Linda Ronstadt, “Duets”

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Linda Ronstadt - DuetsTonight, Linda Ronstadt receives her long-overdue recognition into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But rock and roll, of course, played only a small – if key – role in Ronstadt’s career. The breadth of that career is revealed on Rhino’s new release of Linda Ronstadt – Duets (Rhino R2 542161), containing fourteen tracks originally released between 1974 and 2006 plus one previously unreleased performance. While there are no duets here from Ronstadt’s Tony-nominated turn in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Pirates of Penzance or her Mexican recordings , her immersions into the realms of country, folk, jazz, R&B, and of course, Southern California rock are all here. She’s joined by a “Who’s who” of artists including Frank Sinatra, James Taylor, Bette Midler, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville, James Ingram, and J.D. Souther.  Ronstadt won’t be attending tonight’s ceremony, but her music speaks for itself.

Compiled and remastered by her longtime manager, John Boylan, Duets is a reminder of just how catholic Ronstadt’s tastes were. From her earliest days as a member of country-rock band The Stone Poneys (“Different Drum”), she refused to be pigeonholed in one genre. On Duets, the songs of Irving Berlin and Warren Zevon are performed with the same sympathetic understanding and respect for the art of the song. Boylan has neatly sequenced the compilation as a musical travelogue from folk to country to rock to standards, both modern and vintage.  The sound changes along with the style of song, building and growing from acoustic to orchestral.

Three selections from Ronstadt’s final studio recording, 2006’s Adieu False Heart with Cajun singer Ann Savoy, open Duets. Their tight harmonies on the low-key opening cut, “Adieu, False Heart,” are adorned with light acoustic flourishes, and the already-poignant song takes on additional meaning when placed in context as likely the concluding chapter of Ronstadt’s career as a vocalist. Of the three Savoy duets, however, the most revelatory is their reinvention of The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee.” This folk reinterpretation of Michael Brown’s song can’t help but bring to mind Ronstadt’s famous recasting of “oldies” from Motown to Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers into her own style.

Though Bette Midler is the partner on the fun, Barry Manilow-arranged recording of Irving Berlin’s “Sisters,” Ronstadt’s truest sisters in song might be Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. Though there are no recordings here from their Trio recordings, each is represented on one track. On the traditional “I Never Will Marry,” accompanied by just acoustic guitars (Waddy Wachtel and Ronstadt) and dobro (Mike Auldridge), Ronstadt and Parton’s voices blend with a beautiful simplicity. More boisterous is the delightfully bright bounce of Ronstadt and Harris’ take on Hank Williams’ familiar “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You).” Peter Asher’s clean production, featuring the tireless Andrew Gold on guitar, piano and ukelele along with “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow on steel guitar and David Lindley on fiddle, made no concessions to the sound of rock circa 1974. Ronstadt’s affinity for classic country recurs throughout her catalogue, and she blends exquisitely with Carl Jackson on a 2003, fiddle-and-dobro-flecked rendition of The Louvin Brothers’ chestnut “The New Partner Waltz.”

Keep reading after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 10, 2014 at 10:45

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

You Must Remember This: TCM, Masterworks Compile “Classic Sound of Hollywood” From Mancini, Williams, Morricone, More

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Play It Again - Classic HollywoodOn April 1, Sony’s Masterworks division and Turner Classic Movies marked the cable network’s twentieth anniversary with a new 2-CD collection of vintage Hollywood movie themes. Play It Again: The Classic Sound of Hollywood continues the Masterworks/TCM series that has previously encompassed archival releases from Doris Day, Mario Lanza and Fred Astaire. Composers represented include Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Maurice Jarre, Elmer Bernstein, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone and John Williams.  Most of the tracks on Play It Again aren’t derived from the original film soundtracks, but rather from renditions played by the likes of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Boston Pops.

The first disc is drawn entirely from RCA Red Seal’s series of Classic Film Scores as recorded by conductor Charles Gerhardt and London’s National Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 1970s. It includes three suites from composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold featuring his themes from Of Human Bondage, Between Two Worlds, and The Sea Hawk. Underscoring the diversity of this set, the disc also contains cues from the sensationally steamy Peyton Place (Franz Waxman), the creature feature The Thing (From Another World) (Dimitri Tiomkin) and even the Biblical epic Salomé (Daniele Amfitheatrof).  In 2010, Masterworks reissued this series as it originally appeared on LP, orphaning a handful of recordings.  The three of these “stray” recordings are the Peyton Place main title, the “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salomé and the suite from The Thing.  In addition, the Korngold suites for The Sea Hawk and Of Human Bondage are different edits from those contained on the reissued Korngold CD in the Gerhardt series; this disc marks their first appearance on CD in over a decade.

What will you find on Disc 2?  Hit the jump for that, and more – including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

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 8

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Waterloo 40ABBA, Waterloo: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits – 40th Anniversary Edition (Polar/UMC)

In celebration of the Swedish quartet’s breakthrough single (and Eurovision contest winner), here are two of many planned ABBA catalogue projects for the year – a CD/DVD expansion of the band’s 1974 album with plenty of rare video footage, and a triple-disc set featuring the band’s best-selling 1992 compilation, a 1993 sequel, More Gold: More ABBA Hits and a new disc of single B-sides.

WaterlooAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
ABBA Gold: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bobby Darin ShowBobby Darin, The Bobby Darin Show (MPI)

Thirteen full-length episodes of the great entertainer’s NBC variety show make it to DVD with guest appearances from Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, Peggy Lee, Nancy Sinatra and more!  The 3-DVD set also includes bonus material such as newsreel, promo and documentary footage. (Amazon U.S.)

Emmylou - Wrecking Ball DeluxeEmmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball: Deluxe Edition (Nonesuch)

Harris’ Grammy-winning 1995 album, produced by Daniel Lanois, is expanded with a bonus disc of a dozen outtakes and a new documentary on the making of the LP. (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

Linda Ronstadt - DuetsLinda Ronstadt, Duets (Rhino)

As we prepare for Ronstadt’s deserved acceptance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week, this compilation offers several of her greatest hits with partners. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Evelyn Champagne King AnthologyChaka Khan, Chaka: 35th Anniversary Edition / Evelyn “Champagne” King, Action - The Evelyn “Champagne” King Anthology 1977-1986 (Big Break Records)

Chaka’s debut solo album and a new Evelyn King compilation are up from the U.K. soul reissue label this week. As always, a full rundown of BBR’s titles will be coming soon!

Chaka: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Evelyn: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

 

Jo Stafford Live In LondonJo Stafford, Live in London 1959 (Sepia)

Sepia unearths a rare concert from the late vocalist, recorded at the London Palladium and featuring songs by Lerner and Loewe, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter and others. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

April 8, 2014 at 07:53

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.)

Reviews: Real Gone Goes R&B with Bettye Swann and Samuel Jonathan Johnson

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Bettye Swann - AtlanticShreveport, Louisiana-born Bettye Swann never liked her birth name of Betty Jean Champion, yet when it came to soul music, Swann was certainly a champion.  Her debut single for Money Records, 1965’s “Don’t Wait Too Long,” became a Top 30 R&B hit, and two years later, “Make Me Yours” went all the way to the No. 1 spot on that chart.  It was inevitable that bigger labels than Money would come calling, and sure enough, Swann recorded two country-flavored LPs in 1969 and 1970 for Capitol.  Rick Hall of the FAME label and studios was among Bettye’s fans, and with a distribution deal through Capitol, signed Swann to his production company.  But by the time he was ready to release any recordings by Bettye, the deal with Capitol was up.  Following one 45 issued directly on FAME, Hall brokered a deal to sign Swann to one of the cornerstones of American soul music: Atlantic Records.  Real Gone has teamed up with SoulMusic Records for The Complete Atlantic Recordings.  This new compilation rounds up all 23 sides recorded by Swann for the New York giant between 1972 and 1975, five of which are making their very first appearance anywhere.

Unlike some of her earthier counterparts, Swann possessed a smooth, girlish and frankly pretty voice.  Hall, in charge of Swann’s first seven Muscle Shoals-recorded Atlantic sides, deployed that voice to great effect on this collection’s opening single, the ironically-upbeat “Victim of a Foolish Heart,” in which Swann implores her man not to fall prey to the charms of an old paramour.  Though Swann’s message is clear, it’s delivered in such a sweet way that one can’t see how the weak-willed guy could possibly turn Bettye down!  Hall and Swann took a more traditionally torrid southern-soul approach on a revival of “I’d Rather Go Blind” with its tight guitar licks, organ and stabs of brass, but Swann’s coquettish lead allows the gritty lyric to be heard anew.  Swann and Hall also recut Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again” which she had recorded at Capitol, and took a stab at the oft-recorded Carole King/Gerry Goffin copyright “Yours Until Tomorrow.”  Swann’s recordings lacks the fervor of Dee Dee Warwick’s or the drama of Gene Pitney’s, but compensates with the mature, intelligent delivery of Goffin’s pleading lyric.

Despite the strength of the Muscle Shoals recordings including an irresistible makeover of Gloria Jones and Pam Sawyer’s Supremes cut “I’m Not That Easy to Lose,” none of Swann’s singles got any higher on the Hot 100 than “Today I Started Loving You Again” with its No. 46 placement.  So Atlantic set Swann up at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios in 1973, teaming her with The Young Professionals, a.k.a. LeBaron Taylor, Phil Hurtt and Tony Bell, younger brother of Philadelphia soul architect Thom Bell.  Though Philly soul could be as sweet as it comes, Taylor, Hurtt and Bell’s first recording with Swann made the Muscle Shoals tracks sound positively sugary in comparison.  “The Boy Next Door” is swaggering Philadelphia-style funk, with burbling guitar licks, slashing strings and an insistent groove.  Arranger Tony Bell’s second track for Swann, B-side “Kiss My Love Goodbye,” should have been the A-side.  It’s a quintessential, up-tempo Spinners-style track, and for Swann’s next single, Tony Bell turned to his older brother Thom to provide the charts.  You can hear Bell’s influence in the soft horns, strings and ethereal male backing vocals of the gorgeously melancholy “Time to Say Goodbye,” providing a cushion as soft as Swann’s velvety voice.  Thom also arranged the A-side of “Time,” the darker, funk-infused “When the Game is Played on You” in which Swann once again serves up a tasty dish of vengeance to the one who’s done her wrong: “How does it feel, baby, when the game is played on you?”

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Written by Joe Marchese

March 31, 2014 at 12:37

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