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What’s Going On: “Motown 25″ Comes To DVD In New Box Set, Highlights DVDs

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Motown 25

On the evening of March 25, 1983, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium was alive with the sound of music – the Sound of Young America, to be more specific.  Motown Records was celebrating its 25th anniversary, and producer Suzanne de Passe wasn’t pulling any stops.  “Once in a lifetime” was as overused in 1983 as it is today, but the galaxy of stars assembled by de Passe couldn’t be described any other way: Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Martha Reeves, Junior Walker, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and the Jackson 5 were all there.  And the moment Michael Jackson broke out of the shadow of his brothers, once and for all, to show America the moonwalk, the evening billed as Motown: Yesterday, Today, Forever entered into the annals of history.  With host Richard Pryor presiding over reunion performances ranging from the warm (The Miracles) to the seemingly contentious (The Supremes), a Temps/Tops “battle of the bands” and even tribute performances from visiting stars like Adam Ant and Linda Ronstadt, Motown 25 was an event the likes of which wouldn’t be seen again.  The program aired on NBC-TV on May 16, 1983, and was subsequently issued on MGM/UA Home Video in 1991, but DVD release had eluded it…until now.  On September 30, the Emmy Award-winning Motown 25 will arrive from Time Life/StarVista (in conjunction with de Passe Jones Entertainment and Berry Gordy’s West Grand Media) in a variety of formats echoing Time Life’s lavish treatment of The Midnight Special and other titles.

The crown jewel of this campaign is the 6-DVD box set, which – in Time Life/StarVista tradition – will be an online exclusive at MOTOWN25DVDS.COM. It’s available there now for pre-order.  The release features an extended version of the show, with over 20 additional minutes not seen on the original broadcast, as well as a brand-new 5.1 surround sound mix. The 6-DVD set also includes nine newly-produced featurettes and additional bonus features including:

  • “Signed, Sealed, Delivered – The Making of Motown 25,” which tells the behind-the-scenes story of the making of the program, and offers new insights into the rise of Motown and its roster of super stars
  • “What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye”
  • “Come and Get These Memories: Inside Hitsville”
  • “Dancing In The Street: History of Motown”
  • Rare footage of Marvin Gaye ad-libbing at the piano prior to a soulful version of “What’s Going On”
  • Stevie Wonder rehearsal footage
  • A two-part Motown 25 Performers Roundtable featuring Smokey Robinson and Duke Fakir (Four Tops), Otis Williams (The Temptations) and Executive Producer Suzanne de Passe, taped at the location of the original concert, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium
  • A “Yesterday-Today-Forever” Production Roundtable with de Passe, Director/Producer Don Mischer and others
  • Over 25 exclusive interviews with performers and crew, including Claudette Robinson (The Miracles), Martha Reeves (Martha and the Vandellas), Smokey Robinson, Nelson George, Gloria Jones, Adam Ant, Ashford and Simpson, Buz Kohan (Head Writer), David Goldberg (Executive in Charge of Production), Mickey Stevenson (Former Head of A&R/Songwriter), Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Songwriters/Producers) and many more.

The box set, pictured above, is packaged with an exclusive 48-page booklet packed with information about the show and artists, production materials and never-before-scene photos from the production, essays on Motown performers, a copy of the original Motown 25 program, and more.

Two versions – a 3-DVD set and a single-disc release – will arrive to retail on September 30.  The 3-DVD set features the concert and over six hours of extras including four featurettes, the Marvin Gaye rehearsal footage, the Performer and Production Roundtables and more.  The single DVD features the newly-remastered concert and over one hour of bonus features.

About the only thing missing from this comprehensive campaign is an audio component, such as a new reissue of the 1983 version of the Grammy-nominated The Motown Story audio documentary or a first-time-ever actual soundtrack of the evening’s performances.  After the jump, we’ll break down the contents of each release for you! Read the rest of this entry »

Morales Preps the (Dance) Sound of Young America on “Club Motown”

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Club MotownCalling all ’80s Motown fans! Universal’s U.K. arm has issued a double disc set of 20 classic club mixes from the label, curated by noted remixer John Morales.

Motown of course crafted the sound of young America throughout the ’60s and created some deeply affecting funk and soul in the ’70s, but the ’80s was still a prolific time, thanks to popular R&B/dance acts including Rick James and DeBarge as well as established acts like The Temptations and Commodores frontman Lionel Richie. Morales and partner Sergio Munzibal, the “M+M” mixing team, turned many of those tracks into club hits, and Club Motown features some familiar hits as well as some mixes that were only ever released in Europe, for the likes of Michael Lovesmith or Bobby Nunn.

In addition to the classic vintage dance sides on Club Motown, Morales has completed work on six new “throwback” club mixes of tracks by Teena Marie, Diana Ross, Thelma Houston and more! A double 12″ single set, John Morales Presents Motown Divas, features some of these new mixes plus instrumentals in a vintage-style sleeve.

After the jump, you can check out the track lists for both sets and place your orders!

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We Want “Muscles” and Other Diana Ross Albums for RCA, Expanded by Funkytown Grooves

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Diana RossDiana Ross is well-known as the Queen of Motown, but for real record geeks and catalogue enthusiasts, it’s her post-Motown works – released in the U.S. on RCA Records and on Capitol/EMI worldwide – that deserves a revisitation, thanks to its high energy dance grooves supplied by several very famous collaborators. This fall, Funkytowngrooves is doing what Diana’s fans have wanted for years: remastering and expanding her six albums from 1981 to 1987 for the first time ever.

After two decades with the famed Detroit label, as a member of The Supremes and an increasingly popular solo starlet and actress, Ross left Motown on a high note with 1980’s diana, featuring backing and production from CHIC founders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. (The duo were initially slated to produce her first RCA effort, but bowed out due to other commitments.) With a $20 million dollar deal in hand, Ross’ first effort was a modest dance record, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, anchored by the title track (a cover of Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers’ immortal doo-wop classic), a new solo version of “Endless Love” (her No. 1 duet with Lionel Richie) and “Work That Body,” co-written with Donna Summer collaborator Paul Jabara and noted session man Ray Chew. (The latter was a Top 10 U.K. hit.) “Muscles,” off of follow-up Silk Electric (1982), was another Top 10 hit, one written and produced by Michael Jackson right before Thriller took off. (Muscles was the name of his pet boa constrictor.)

1983’s Ross saw production duties divided between Ross, Steely Dan producer Gary Katz and Ray Parker Jr., a year before “Ghostbusters.” Swept Away, issued a year later, was an all-star affair, boasting production, vocals and songwriting from Lionel Richie (“Missing You”), Bernard Edwards (“Telephone”) Daryl Hall and Arthur Baker (“Swept Away”) and Julio Iglesias (“All of You”). Eaten Alive, from 1985, boasted near full writing and production from the Bee Gees (Michael Jackson returned to write the killer chorus to the title track alongside the Gibbs’ verses). Her final effort for RCA, Red Hot Rhythm and Blues (1987), was a considerably greater success in Europe than the U.S., as evidenced by the heavy presence of single mixes on the EMI label as well as several tracks that didn’t make the album Stateside. In 1989, she rejoined Motown with the Nile Rodgers-produced Workin’ Overtime.

Funkytowngrooves has remastered all six of these underrated albums with the help of Sean Brennan at Battery Studios. All will feature single mixes and/or B-sides as bonus tracks (including all U.S. and U.K. mixes for Red Hot and one unreleased outtake); the first three albums are single-disc presentations while the latter three are double-disc sets. The label has opened up discounted pre-orders on their site, anticipating to receive their stock for September 29; after that date, the price will go back to normal and will be open to buy through Amazon.

Now looks the time to get in on this exciting set of releases by one of soul music’s most beloved divas. Hit the jump for specs and links!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 23, 2014 at 12:35

Posted in Diana Ross, News, Reissues

Release Round-Up: Week of April 29

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Nightclubbing DeluxeGrace Jones, Nightclubbing: Deluxe Edition (Island/UMe)

Pull back up to the bumper with a generously expanded version of the almighty Jones’ most beloved album.

2CD: Amazon U.K.
1CD: Amazon U.S.
2LP:  Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Blu-Ray Audio: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Supremes - Funny GirlDiana Ross & The Supremes, Sing and Perform Funny Girl: Expanded Edition (Motown Select)

A digital-only expansion of The Supremes’ 1968 album of the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill musical, featuring the original LP alongside a brand-new remix and a pair of live cuts. (Amazon U.S.)

Funny Girl Box SetFunny Girl: Original Broadway Cast Recording – 50th Anniversary Edition (Capitol/UMe)

Speaking of which, the original cast album – featuring the one and only Barbra Streisand – is also reissued today as a CD/LP set with a deluxe book! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Vanilla Fudge Atco SinglesBob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Riding Your Way — The Lost Transcriptions for Tiffany Music, 1946-1947 / Vanilla Fudge, The Complete ATCO Singles / Rick Wakeman, White Rock / X, Under the Big Black Sun: Expanded & Remastered Edition / Cannonball Adderley, The Black Messiah

The latest Real Gone slate is quite the eclectic one! Read all about it here.

Bob Wills: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Vanilla Fudge: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Rick Wakeman: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
X: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
Cannonball Adderley: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Rush ReDISCoveredRush, Rush: ReDISCovered Box Set (Mercury/UMe)

A deluxe recreation of the Canadian legends’ first album on vinyl. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Blue Light Til DawnCassandra Wilson, Blue Light ‘Til Dawn: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blue Note/UMe)

The neo-blues vocalist’s breakthrough album, featuring stirring interpretations of tracks by Robert Johnson, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and others, is reissued with three unreleased live tracks. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Can't Fight FateTaylor Dayne, Can’t Fight Fate Soul Dancing: Deluxe Editions (Cherry Pop)

The ’80s dance diva’s second and third albums are expanded as two-disc sets with plenty of rare and unreleased remixes and B-sides, plus an all-new remastering for each original album.

Can’t Fight Fate: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Soul DancingAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Cryan ShamesThe Cryan Shames, A Scratch in the Sky: Deluxe Expanded Mono Edition (Now Sounds)

Now Sounds presents the Chicago band’s 1967 sunshine pop-flavored album for the first time on CD in mono, adding a plethora of bonus tracks! Joe’s full review is coming soon! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Silver ConventionSilver Convention, Save Me / The Salsoul Orchestra, Up the Yellow Brick Road / How High (Big Break Records)

Joe’s full writes-ups on three more Salsoul/BBR reissues are coming soon!

Save Me: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Up the Yellow Brick Road: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
How High: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The (Motown) Music That Makes Me Dance: The Supremes’ “Funny Girl” Gets Expansion

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Supremes - Funny GirlI’m the greatest star/I am by far! But no one knows it…

- Fanny Brice, Funny Girl

Back in 2012, while reviewing Hip-o Select’s splendidly expanded edition of The Supremes at the Copa, I wrote of the “altogether enjoyable [and] still inexplicably not on CD” album The Supremes Sing and Perform Funny Girl. Indeed, that 1968 LP, featuring Motown’s greatest stars tackling the showstoppers from Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s score, has long been one of the rarest and most-requested titles in the Supremes discography. Yet Funny Girl has remained unavailable throughout the entirety of the compact disc era…until now. The good news is that the long-awaited reissue will arrive in lavishly expanded form, with twelve bonus tracks, on April 29. But with every parade must come some rain: this deluxe edition of Diana Ross and the Supremes Sing and Perform Funny Girl is currently only scheduled for release as a digital download. It will appear the same day that the 50th anniversary of the Broadway production of the musical is celebrated with a new CD/LP box set of its original cast recording from Capitol Records, sister imprint of Motown Select within Universal Music Enterprises (UMe).

The eight-time Tony-nominated musical by librettist Isobel Lennart, composer Styne and lyricist Merrill opened in March 1964 at New York’s Winter Garden Theatre, sealing the deal on superstardom for its leading lady, Barbra Streisand. Streisand’s tour de force as Ziegfeld Follies comedienne Fanny Brice became the stuff of legend, and Styne and Merrill’s score yielded the near-instant standards “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and, of course, “People.” Funny Girl didn’t go unnoticed by Motown chief Berry Gordy. In concert, Diana Ross rendered the sweetly upbeat “I Am Woman (You Are Man)” to coquettish perfection while Florence Ballard belted the dramatic “People” from the heart.

It wasn’t unusual for The Supremes to switch gears back and forth between Holland-Dozier-Holland’s explosive Top 40 R&B and classic Broadway and standard repertoire. It was all part of Berry Gordy’s plan to make his artists true stars, appealing to the affluent supper club set as well as the teenagers buying the latest 45s. In early 1965, The Supremes began work on There’s a Place for Us, so named for Stephen Sondheim’s West Side Story lyric to “Somewhere,” for which they recorded both “People” and “I Am Woman.” That summer, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard made their debut at the Copacabana, singing live many of the songs they had recorded for There’s a Place for Us. With the release of The Supremes at the Copa, the studio album was shelved, eventually arriving on CD in 2004. Other Broadway-themed Supremes recordings were made, however, some even with Holland-Dozier-Holland at the helm. 1967’s The Supremes Sing Rodgers and Hart, produced by Berry Gordy and arranger Gil Askey, reached back to the Broadway of decades before Funny Girl.

In 1968, however, Gordy and Askey had good reason to turn their attention back to the Styne and Merrill musical. Its big-screen adaptation was arriving from Columbia Pictures; Streisand would win an Oscar for reprising her role as Fanny. Hitting record stores on August 26, 1968 (other sources say May) in advance of the movie’s September 19 release, Diana Ross and the Supremes Sing and Perform Funny Girl – performed by the new line-up of Diana, Mary and Cindy Birdsong – included nine Styne and Merrill songs (eight from the stage score and the movie’s title song) plus “My Man,” a signature song of Brice’s that was replaced in the stage score by the ravishing “The Music That Makes Me Dance.” (The movie featured “My Man” instead of “Music,” but Diana and the girls did both!) The Supremes promoted the album with a medley on The Ed Sullivan Show, and even Jule Styne gave his stamp of approval to the project by writing an adoring, appreciative note for the sleeve. The great composer (Gypsy, Bells Are Ringing) observed, “Although the girls are young and new and part of the now world, they have always showed great respect towards composers Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin (and now Jule Styne). Thank God. They are always aware of what’s new by their appreciation of the sounds of Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb, etc. What Diana Ross does…is something else again. If I sound excited, I am…My life is now complete. From Frank Sinatra, to Barbra Streisand, to Diana Ross and the Supremes. What a parlay!”

Despite the enormous success of the motion picture, the Supremes’ Funny Girl album only reached No. 150 on the Billboard 200 and No. 45 on the R&B chart. The motion picture soundtrack featuring Streisand fared rather better with a No. 12 peak, but Diana, Mary and Cindy didn’t have to wait long to return to chart supremacy. The very next month after the Funny Girl LP’s arrival, the group released the single “Love Child.” By November, it had reached No. 1. And that wasn’t all. Their collaborative album Diana Ross and the Supremes Join the Temptations, released the same month of November, reached No. 2 and its single “I’m Gonna Make You Loved Me” became a Billboard No. 2 Pop smash on 45. Miss Ross kept some of the Funny Girl music in her live repertoire well into her post-Supremes solo years.

What will you find on this new Funny Girl?  Hit the jump for that and more!

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Written by Joe Marchese

April 25, 2014 at 10:06

Their Feet Keep Dancing: Rhino U.K. Updates CHIC Compilation, Plans Triple-Disc Disco Set

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Up All Night Disco EditionRhino U.K. is bringing disco back with a new triple-disc compilation of dance classics, and an updated reissue of a successful compilation released earlier this year.

First up, Rhino’s reissuing the new Nile Rodgers/CHIC compilation Up All Night. The double-disc set, originally compiled by Wayne A. Dickson of Big Break Records and mastered by Dickson and BBR engineer Nick Robbins, with liner notes from Christian John Wikane, was released in July to capitalize on Rodgers’ highly enjoyable wave of success this year. (The legendary guitarist/producer played and co-wrote several tracks on Daft Punk’s critically-acclaimed album Random Access Memories, including international chart-topper “Get Lucky,” and played several key dates in Europe. Since then, CHIC has been once again nominated for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

Up All Night: The Disco Edition features a slightly rearranged track list, with several lesser-known hits dropped in favor of five newly-added tracks: the CHIC-produced “Frankie” by Sister Sledge; two Rodgers-produced ’80s hits (Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and Duran Duran’s “The Reflex”), a megamix of CHIC Organization tracks and a live cut from Rodgers’ performance at the Glastonbury Festival this summer.

12%22 Disco CollectionThe fine folks at Big Break (Dickson along with compiler Malcolm McKenzie) have also produced another forthcoming discofied Rhino set: 12″ Disco: The Collection compiles 34 tracks – mostly from the Warner Bros., Elektra, T.K. and Atlantic vaults, naturally – including four cuts that have never been released on CD before. In addition to CHIC and Sister Sledge, tracks from Chaka Khan, The Trammps, Ben E. King, The Spinners, Change, George McCrae and Narada Michael Walden are all featured herein.

12″ Disco: The Collection is available in U.K. shops today, while Up All Night: The Disco Edition is out next Monday, October 28. Pre-order links, full track lists and U.K. discographical info for both titles can be found after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 21, 2013 at 08:32

Release Round-Up: Week of July 2

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CHIC Up All Night Greatest HitsCHIC and Various Artists, Nile Rodgers Presents The CHIC Organization: Up All Night – The Greatest Hits (Rhino U.K.)

This new double-disc compilation, featuring hits from CHIC, Sister Sledge, Debbie Harry and more, might be the best Nile Rodgers-centric compilation in its price range. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Blood Sweat & Tears - Rare Rarer & RarestBlood Sweat & Tears, Rare, Rarer & Rarest / Joe Farrell Quartet, Joe Farrell Quartet / Herbie Hancock, Treasure Chest / Sha Na Na, The Night is Still Young (Wounded Bird)

A new batch from Wounded Bird includes a compilation of rarities from Blood, Sweat & Tears (featuring, among other things, their soundtrack to The Owl and The Pussycat) and a disc featuring all three of Herbie Hancock’s albums for Warner Bros., before joining Columbia in the ’70s.

Blood, Sweat & Tears: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Joe Farrell Quartet: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Herbie Hancock: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Sha Na Na: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The AssociationThe Association, The Association: Deluxe Expanded Edition (Now Sounds)

The Association’s 1969 album is newly expanded with 10 bonus cuts, including mono mixes and non-LP singles! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Eat a Peach MoFiThe Allman Brothers Band, Eat a Peach / Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde / Foreigner, 4 /Billy Joel, An Innocent Man (SACDs) (Mobile Fidelity)

The latest hybrid SACDs from MoFi.

The Allman Brothers Band: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Bob Dylan: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Foreigner: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Billy Joel: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Hackamore BrickHackamore Brick, One Kiss Leads to Another (CD/LP) / Russ Giguere, Hexagram 16 / The Browns, Complete Pop & Country Hits / Ahmed Abdul Malik, Spellbound / George Braith, Musart / Stan Hunter & Sonny Fortune, Trip on the Strip / Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 22 – Kings Beach Bowl, Kings Beach Lake Tahoe, CA 2/23-2/24/68 / Fire on the Mountain: Reggae Celebrates the Grateful Dead Vols. 1 & 2 (Real Gone Music)

Among the highlights of Real Gone’s release slate this week is the expanded reissue of the long-lost One Kiss Leads to Another by cult Brooklyn band Hackamore Brick.

Los NuggetzVarious Artists, Los Nuggetz: 1960s Punk, Pop, Psychedelic from Latin America (RockBeat)

America and Europe weren’t the only happening scenes in the ’60s, as this new box showcases.

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