Archive for the ‘Diana Ross’ Category
The Beach Boys, Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour (Capitol)
Townes Van Zandt, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt / High, Low and In Between (Omnivore)
You heard the demos, now rediscover these great country albums, on CD or vinyl!
A dozen or so new entries in the Playlist series are coming your way this week. Watch this space tomorrow for a full breakdown on them all!
How to define Julio Iglesias? Perhaps the iconic Spanish entertainer can be best summed up by the numbers. In a career spanning well over 40 years, Iglesias has recorded 80 albums, sold 300 million records, and sung in 14 languages. Now, Iglesias, who will turn 70 later this year, has been feted with the first American release of a new collection with a number in the title. 1 – Greatest Hits, already a multi-platinum seller in numerous Spanish-speaking territories, has arrived in the U.S. from Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings as a 2-CD standard edition and a 2-CD/1-DVD deluxe edition adding a 1990 concert from the Greek Theatre on DVD (88765 46961 2, 2013). It covers a wide swath of Iglesias’ impressive career over 37 tracks on its two discs, but falls short of being a definitive hits survey, as numerous tracks have been re-recorded specifically for the collection.
In his brief liner note, Iglesias writes, “This has been a unique project in my life. Being able to go back and sing songs from a time when technology hadn’t yet met the digital age.” He isn’t the first artist to re-record his classic hits, and nor will he be the last. But it’s the original tracks – well-recorded in the first place by producers including Iglesias’ longtime collaborator Ramon Arcusa – that are the most timeless here. Iglesias’ voice, circa 2011 (when the lion’s share of the re-recordings were made), is still smooth and velvety if naturally somewhat deeper. But arrangement-wise, it’s frequently “spot the difference” time with the new versions hewing closely to the style and tempo of the originals. There are no notes or essays in the thin booklet explaining why songs were selected or what changes were made; there’s not even any indication as to the provenance of each track other than the date on the copyright line. With no background or discographical information for these songs, it feels less like a career retrospective and more like a set aimed at a casual fan who won’t wonder whether “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” is the original recording or not.
Coincidental though it may be, it’s worth noting that 1 – Greatest Hits arrives on the same day as Paul Anka’s Duets, another mélange of new and old recordings. Like 1, the Anka collection (reviewed here) offers duets with Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson! Hit the jump for more on Julio! Read the rest of this entry »
ORIGINAL POST OF 3/25: Since its inaugural wave of releases in 2011, the Culture Factory label has carved out a niche in the catalogue field. Artists such as Robert Palmer, Hot Tuna, Paul Williams, Bob Welch, The Flamin’ Groovies, Sylvie Vartan, Rare Earth and The Motels are all among the recipients of the Culture Factory treatment. The label’s modus operandi finds the original album with no bonus tracks or additional liner notes packaged in a Japanese-style paper sleeves with an OBI strip. The CD label itself resembles black vinyl with period label art. All discs are remastered with 96 kHz/24-bit technology (although playback in that high resolution is not possible as these are standard “redbook”44/16 compact discs playable in all units). The next waves of releases from Culture Factory widen the label’s scope further, with campaigns dedicated to a classic singer-songwriter, some diverse and well-chosen rockers, and perhaps most tantalizingly, choice offerings from the “Sound of Young America.”
On April 30, Culture Factory will reissue two albums from West, Bruce and Laing, another two from Walter Egan, and a trio of titles from James Taylor. Amped-up blues-rock was the order of the day when Jack Bruce of Cream joined forces with Leslie West and Corky Laing of Mountain to form a new power trio. The union was short-lived but burned brightly; Clive Davis recalled fierce competition in signing the band to CBS/Columbia. West, Bruce and Laing ultimately recorded just three albums (two in the studio, and one live) before disbanding, though Jack Bruce’s son Malcolm replaced his dad in a revised band line-up years later, in 2009. WB&L’s second studio album, 1973’s Whatever Turns You On, and the 1974 live album/swansong Live ‘n’ Kickin’ have both been selected for the Culture Factory treatment.
1977’s Fundamental Roll and 1978’s Not Shy kicked off the career of singer-songwriter Walter Egan. Not Shy was co-produced by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Richard Dashut and yielded the gold-selling single “Magnet and Steel,” for which Egan is still best known today. “Magnet and Steel” was, of course, inspired by Stevie Nicks. She sang background vocals on the song, and had worked with Buckingham and Egan on Fundamental Roll.
James Taylor’s first three albums for Columbia round out Culture Factory’s April 30 slate. 1977’s JT was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy, and Taylor picked up the trophy for his sublime revival of Otis Blackwell and Jimmy Jones’ “Handy Man.” Other highlights include the upbeat “Your Smiling Face” and reflective “Secret o’ Life.” JT followed JT with 1979’s Flag, which included his two songs for the Broadway musical Working (“Millworker” and “Brother Trucker”) as well as covers of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” and Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Up on the Roof.” The latter became a Top 30 U.S. hit and is still a signature song for Taylor. 1981’s Dad Loves His Work introduced the No. 1 Pop single duet with co-writer J.D. Souther, “Her Town, Too.”
After the jump: the lowdown on titles from Robert Palmer, the New York Dolls, Edgar Winter, .38 Special, and a certain Miss Ross! Plus: pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »
When Motown: The Musical opens at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 14, it will mark yet another career landmark for Berry Gordy, the songwriter-producer-entrepreneur who turned Detroit, Michigan into Hitsville, USA some fifty-five years ago. The musical, written by Gordy and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, depicts the rise to prominence of the Sound of Young America, with Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple, The Scottsboro Boys) starring as Gordy. He’s joined by a cast of roughly 40 including Valisia Lekae as Diana Ross, Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson, Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye and Ryan Shaw as Stevie Wonder. Despite the considerable talent of the youthful cast, however, the star of Motown: The Musical is undoubtedly the music written by such composers and lyricists as Brian Holland, Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Gordy himself. While plans are already afoot for the Original Broadway Cast Recording to arrive from UMe, the label is further supporting the new “jukebox musical” with the release of Motown Originals: The Classic Songs That Inspired the Broadway Show, available in 1-CD, 2-CD and digital formats on March 5.
The Broadway berth of Motown isn’t Gordy’s first foray into theatre. Motown, under Gordy’s aegis, made a sizeable investment in Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s 1972 musical Pippin, directed by the legendary Bob Fosse. Gordy’s team at Motown saw the potential in the score by Stephen Schwartz, who had already made a name for himself with Godspell and its hit single “Day by Day” on the Bell label. In exchange for the company’s investment in the musical, Motown’s Jobete publishing arm received rights to Schwartz’s delectable pop-rock-flavored score for Pippin. Hence, the Diana Ross-less Supremes recorded the torch ballad “I Guess I’ll Miss the Man,” the Jackson 5 surveyed the beautifully yearning “Corner of the Sky,” and solo Michael Jackson tackled the optimistic “Morning Glow.” Motown also released the original cast recording, the label’s first, co-produced by Schwartz and Phil Ramone. Gordy’s investment paid off; when Pippin closed in June 1977, it had run 1,944 performances. It returns to Broadway this spring in its first revival, melding an all-new circus concept by director Diane Paulus to choreography inspired by Bob Fosse’s original work.
Motown also isn’t the first time Gordy has attempted to bring the story of his renowned label to the musical theatre stage. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough was announced in late 2006 to close out the season at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre in summer 2007. A report in Variety promised “a book by Gordy and 30 Motown tunes.” Ain’t No Mountain even announced an opening date of July 15, but it wasn’t meant to be. The production was scrapped, and Gordy continued the journey that has finally taken his story to Broadway. The new Motown: The Musical has assembled an 18-piece orchestra to play the orchestrations of Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, likely inspired by the original hit record arrangements.
After the jump: what will you find on the various versions of Motown: Originals? We’ve got more details, full track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »
Through the years, fans of Diana Ross and The Supremes have had a lot of catalogue goodies to enjoy, what with expanded reissues and compilations covering both the killer Motown girl group and its iconic frontwoman. But one release that’s eluded everyone in the CD era is finally making its way to a smaller disc courtesy of the folks at Universal Music Japan, who recently released an SHM-CD pressing of Diana’s 1978 ”album,” Ross.
Released a year after the Richard Perry-produced Baby It’s Me, Ross is something of a compilation with two distinct sides: the first is mostly new and unreleased material recorded earlier that year with producers Hal Davis and Greg Wright, led off by “Lovin’, Livin’ and Givin’,” Diana’s contribution to the iconic, disco-heavy soundtrack to the film Thank God It’s Friday. (The version used on Ross was identical to the mix used on original LP pressings; subsequent releases of the soundtrack used a slightly longer remix.)
The other half of the album features outtakes and some lesser-known material from 1971 to 1975, mostly produced by Michael Masser (except for a cover of “Reach Out I’ll Be There” produced by Ashford & Simpson and released on 1971′s Surrender) and newly remixed for Ross by Russ Terrana. “Sorry Doesn’t Always Make It Right” and “Together” were a non-LP single in 1975, while the other songs, “Where Did We Go Wrong” and the Gerry Goffin co-penned “To Love Again,” were outtakes from the Last Time I Saw Him and Mahogany sessions, respectively.
While a good half of these songs have ended up on CD before (in large part due to expanded editions of diana and the compilation To Love Again in 2003), this SHM-CD marks the first time the original compilation has made its appearance on the format. Numerous alternate/original mixes of these tracks abound, as well, which could certainly make this a worthy project for Hip-O Select’s vault-unearthing team somewhere down the line.
Ross is about $33 or so through this link at HMV (no Amazon links appear to exist yet); the track list, as well as the other CD appearances of the tracks on this set, are below.
Ross (originally released as Motown LP M7-907R1, 1978 – reissued Universal Music Japan SHM-CD UICY-75388, 2012)
- Lovin’, Livin’ and Givin’ (LP Mix)
- What You Gave Me (LP Mix)
- Never Say I Don’t Love You
- You Were the One
- Reach Out I’ll Be There (Remix) *
- Sorry Doesn’t Always Make It Right (Remix) *
- Where Did We Go Wrong (Remix) *
- To Love Again (Remix)
- Together (Remix) *
* indicates track previously unreleased on CD
Tracks 1 and 4 released on diana: Deluxe Edition (Motown B0000791-02, 2003)
Track 2 released on Diana Ross: Dance Songs (K-Tel KTLP/CD 210-1/2 (EU), 1985)
Tracks 3 and 8 released on To Love Again: Expanded Edition (Motown/Chronicles 440 067 054-2, 2003)
The building on New York’s East 60th Street might between 5th and Madison Avenues might not have looked like much from the outside. But within the walls of 10 E. 60th, it was a different story altogether, as that address housed the fabled Copacabana. Lyricist Fred Ebb asserted of New York City itself, “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere,” but he could have been writing of The Copacabana. And Berry Gordy wanted to make it there. More accurately, the Motown Records chief wanted his acts to make it there, breaking not just a color barrier but an age barrier. Diana, then Diane, Ross quipped from the Copa stage, “I know if there were teenagers in the house, they’d know our names!” as she introduced her fellow group members to the sophisticated Manhattan crowd. The Supremes’ August 1965 engagement was such a success that it led to stands there by Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. It also yielded the only full live album issued by the classic Supremes trio line-up, which has just been remastered and expanded by Hip-o Select. In its new 2-CD form, The Supremes at the Copa (Motown/Hip-o Select B0016644-02, 2012) has never sounded fresher.
The Supremes weren’t the first African-American artists to play The Copacabana, with Harry Belafonte, Sam Cooke and Sammy Davis Jr. all having preceded them. But when they triumphed at the venue, it was clear that the Sound of Young America had appeal to a much wider demographic than might have been expected. The transformation of the Supremes, already the No. 1 vocal group in America, into supper-club superstars was orchestrated to a tee by arranger/musical directors Gil Askey and Maurice King, choreographer Cholly Atkins and Artist Development personnel including producer Harvey Fuqua and instructor Maxine Powell. No stone was left unturned in Motown’s quest for true Supremacy. Luckily for Gordy, Diane Ross (jokingly referred to as “the intelligent one” in her own stage patter), Mary Wilson (“the sexy one”) and Florence Ballard (“the quiet one”) were all up to the task.
Hit the jump to explore The Supremes at the Copa! Read the rest of this entry »
The hair is the first thing you notice when Diana Ross emerges from a troupe of grass skirt-clad dancers on stage at Central Park in New York City on July 21, 1983. Miss Ross, as she’s gotten older, is easily distinguished for that dark, curly mane, like a proud lioness. But while her hair was as resplendent as usual on this night, it was…askew.
Musicologists and hardcore Diana fans know why without any explanation: Ross’ Central Park concert had the unfortunate circumstance of being schedule the same night a torrent of wind and rain blanketed the city. The ensuing concert special, airing on Showtime, captured a beautiful, almost surreal night, with Ross’ unique powerhouse persona – slender limbs outstretched to the sky, gleaming grin winding up a near-hysterical audience – as New York’s first line of defense against Mother Nature.
The incredible battle of wills, which crescendoed into an early end to the first concert and a quickly scheduled follow-up show on the following, drier night, has finally been captured on DVD. Diana Ross: Live in Central Park (Shout! Factory 826663-13128) is a heck of a collectible for her fan base, but does a pretty astounding job of crossing over into essential viewing for soul and R&B enthusiasts in general.
Diana Ross’ post-Supremes packaging may not be for everyone. Sometimes, it felt she vacillated too easily between soothing soul goddess and Norma Desmond-ish diva. (For younger readers, this is, not surprisingly, sort of how Michael Jackson carried himself, too.) But that almost obstinate resistance came in handy as the ’80s dawned, first with the release of the excellent, CHIC-produced diana in 1980 (on which Ross sounded as spirited as she had in the ’60s, with a decidedly modern twist), and then with the Central Park special Diana: For One and For All.
The 47-minute program, broadcast live to satellite on Showtime in the U.S., has the then-39-year-old star all but laughing in the face of the elements. She urges calm among her audience, and doesn’t shy away from anything. She insists on extending an onstage ramp to get closer to the crowd, and refuses to retreat from the increasing downpour. (The affable commentary on the special by Cable ACE-winning director Steve Binder only serves to perpetuate the idea that Diana’s attitude came less from a “come see about me” mindset and more from a need to entertain her fans.)
Funnily enough, the power of the rain-shortened concert almost makes the next night’s sunny full show an afterthought. But Diana’s energy hasn’t let up in the 24-hour gap between shows. (Another small treat for nostalgists: the recap of the previous show that starts the full feature, complete with clips of vintage New York newscasts.) Though the first third is ripe with the same emotional beats as the night before, the full show also gives us stellar performances of “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down,” as well as some choice covers (Michael Sembello’s “Maniac,” Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky,” a slight but spirited run-through on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”).
It’s hard to complain about having Diana Ross: Live in Central Park to add to our collections. (The transfer, it should be noted, is pretty great, with only a few artifacts toward the end of the original special and a clear transfer on the full concert.) If a little “love shower” couldn’t stop Miss Ross from putting on a hell of a show…well, who are we to argue?
Pantera, Vulgar Display of Power: 20th Anniversary Edition (ATCO/Rhino)
One of the heaviest albums of the ’90s, expanded with one bonus track from the vault and a bonus DVD of live material and music videos.
Diana Ross, Live in Central Park (Shout! Factory)
Both of Miss Ross’ iconic nights in Central Park in 1983 – one with rain, one without – on DVD for the first time anywhere.
The Tubes, Outside Inside: Expanded Edition (Iconoclassic)
Step inside another world with The Tubes’ most famous of pop/rock albums, newly remastered with bonus B-sides.
Various Artists, No Room for Rockstars: The VANS Warped Tour (Shout! Factory)
A documentary on the history of the influential punk rock concert tour, with a bonus CD of studio tracks by some of the tour’s most famous acts.
The name of the Copacabana conjures up many memories: maybe of Lola’s love triangle with Tony and Rico, maybe of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz trying to get their husbands there in the very first episode of I Love Lucy to air. The famous New York nightspot opened in 1940 on East 60th Street, playing host to the biggest and brightest names in entertainment and becoming synonymous with sophistication and glamour. It made headlines when it ended its “no blacks” policy, playing host to acclaimed gigs by Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr. and Sam Cooke. So it was no surprise that when Berry Gordy wished his top girl group, The Supremes, to cross over to a more “mainstream” (read: white) audience, he got Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson booked into The Copacabana. The August 1965 engagement was such a success that it led to stands there by Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. It also yielded the only full live album issued by the classic Supremes trio line-up, and the November release of The Supremes at the Copa scored a respectable No. 11 placement on the Billboard pop chart and fared even better (No. 6) on the R&B survey despite its supper-club repertoire.
Though the original album has briefly appeared on CD before, Hip-o Select is pulling out all the stops for its return to CD, with a 2-disc expanded edition due on May 11 from the label and May 29 at general retail. Disc One of At The Copa: Expanded Edition kicks off with the remastered original 15-track stereo album. The repertoire is eclectic, from Motown hits (“Back in My Arms Again,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love”) and showtunes (“Put On a Happy Face” from Bye Bye Birdie, “Make Someone Happy” from Do Re Mi, “Somewhere” from West Side Story) to current hit covers (“The Boy From Ipanema”) and even a medley of songs made famous by past Copa headliner Sam Cooke. However, Supremes aficionados know that this album used lead vocals overdubbed by Diana Ross in the studio. The expanded edition follows the original album with ten previously unreleased original mono reference mixes, with Ross’ original live lead vocals.
But that’s not all. There’s much, much more vault material on Disc Two! Just hit the jump, and you’ll find that information plus a full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »
What you will see after the jump are eight more of Universal’s generic ICON titles, released this past Tuesday. There are two country acts, two Motown acts, two Motown compilations, one from Dean Martin and one from pop/rock band Fall Out Boy. A stranger collection you’ll rarely find. I’d give a halfhearted recommendation to the Motown ones if you want to spend a little money on someone who has the distinct displeasure of never having heard any Motown song, ever. If you have more money to spend, though, get a box set or something. You won’t regret it. Trust me.
Follow the jump for order links (the single-disc Motown Classics did not appear on Amazon; we’ve used a Barnes & Noble link instead.)