Archive for the ‘George Jones’ Category
Holiday Gift Guide Spotlight: Diamond, Streisand, Williams, Cash, Jones, Wynette and More Join “Classic Christmas Album” Roster [UPDATED]
Last year brought volumes from a variety of artists across the rock, pop, country and R&B spectrum including Barry Manilow, Luther Vandross, John Denver, Willie Nelson, Kenny G and Elvis Presley. For 2013, another eight seasonal anthologies have arrived under the Classic Christmas Album umbrella from Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Andy Williams, Barbra Streisand, Alabama, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Martina McBride.
Christmas is the one time of the year you’re guaranteed to hear the voice of the late, great Andy Williams on the radio. In fact, thanks to Andy, you just might think of Christmas as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” And that 1963 Edward Pola/George Wyle standard is just one of the sixteen favorites you’ll hear on Williams’ Classic Christmas Album, newly remastered by Tim Sturges. Selections have been drawn from all three of Andy’s Columbia Christmas recordings: 1963’s timeless The Andy Williams Christmas Album, 1965’s equally-impressive follow-up Merry Christmas, and the far lesser-known, low-key 1975 Christmas Present. On the latter, Williams mainly limited his repertoire to traditional hymns, and the new compilation features five of them (“Joy to the World,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “What Child is This,” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Ave Maria”) tenderly sung in the vocalist’s pristine tone. Highlights from the first two, perennial Christmas albums include “Kay Thompson’s Jingle Bells” and “The Christmas Song” (1963) and “Winter Wonderland,” “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and the haunting reading of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” (1965). One simply can’t go wrong with any anthology of Andy Williams’ holiday recordings, including The Classic Christmas Album. But one would be better advised to check out Real Gone Music’s new 2-CD anthology The Complete Christmas Recordings. This set, licensed from Columbia, includes the entirety of Williams’ three Columbia Christmas LPs plus three singles and two previously unreleased tracks. As every track is essential listening, it’s one-stop shopping for Andy’s Columbia-era holiday music.
Another Columbia Records mainstay, Barbra Streisand, released her first Christmas album, simply entitled A Christmas Album, in 1967, not recording another holiday-themed set until 2001 and Christmas Memories. Barbra’s Classic Christmas Album reprises nine titles from the first LP and seven from its belated sequel. Naturally, among the 1967 tracks is Streisand’s iconic reinvention of “Jingle Bells,” along with other staples such as “The Christmas Song,” “My Favorite Things” and “White Christmas.” From 2001, you’ll hear standards like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” as well as more contemporary material including Ann Hampton Callaway’s “Christmas Lullaby,” Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Don Costa’s “Christmas Mem’ries,” the Bergmans and Johnny Mandel’s “A Christmas Love Song,” and Streisand’s seasonal reinterpretation of Stephen Sondheim’s haunting “I Remember,” written for the 1967 television musical Evening Primrose. This is an intelligently-compiled sampler, but both complete original Streisand albums are essential. Tim Sturges has again remastered.
Streisand’s fellow Brooklynite and onetime duet partner Neil Diamond is the subject of his own Classic Christmas Album. Diamond’s twelve-track compilation is drawn from his first two massively successful Columbia Christmas releases, 1992’s The Christmas Album and 1994’s Volume Two. (Diamond returned to Christmas music for 2009’s A Cherry Cherry Christmas, which blended five new songs with nine returning favorites, but its new songs – among them the self-referencing title track and a cover of Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song” – have been overlooked here.) Classic Christmas Album makes room for Neil’s very own holiday standard “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” (originally recorded on 1984’s Primitive but remade for The Christmas Album) alongside Diamond-ized renditions of songs both spiritual (“Joy to the World,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Holy Night”) and secular (“The Christmas Song,” “Silver Bells,” “Sleigh Ride”). Don’t let Neil’s country-western attire on the cover artwork fool you; The Classic Christmas Album features 12 tracks of traditional holiday pop, even if selections from A Cherry Cherry Christmas would have made this Christmas dish even sweeter. (An extra bonus: whereas most titles in this series have no liner notes, Diamond has penned an introduction for his volume.) Diamond’s preferred mastering engineer Bernie Becker has handled those duties here.
After the jump: we cross over to the country side of town and beyond! Plus: we have full track listings with discographical annotation, and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »
Tony Bennett, Live At The Sahara: Las Vegas 1964 (RPM/Columbia/Legacy)
Previously exclusive to The Complete Collection box set, Bennett’s first headlining act in Sin City is now available for standalone purchase. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Alex Chilton, Electricity by Candlelight: NYC 2/13/97 (Bar None)
The Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies: Deluxe Edition (Sanctuary)
Alabama/Johnny Cash/Neil Diamond/George Jones & Tammy Wynette/Gladys Knight & The Pips/Martina McBride/Barbra Streisand/Andy Williams, The Classic Christmas Album (Legacy)
Following the success of last year’s wave of mid-priced holiday compilations, another eight are coming to fill your stockings with Christmas cheer.
Alabama: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Johnny Cash: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Neil Diamond: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
George Jones & Tammy Wynette: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Gladys Knight & The Pips: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Martina McBride: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Barbra Streisand: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Andy Williams: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Various Artists, CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Omnivore)
This 20-track compilation for the new film about the legendary New York club features some of the biggest bands who played that stage, plus a recording by founder Hilly Krystal and a new version of Blondie’s “Sunday Girl.” (Rhino will distribute a digital version in the future with exclusive tracks.)
Cherry Red’s busy Morello Records imprint has continued its classic country revival with three recent releases – all available now – from some very legendary names: George Jones, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck and Marty Robbins.
Morello’s exploration of Jones’ latter-day work has now brought the reissue on one CD of two Epic Records albums: he autobiographically-titled Too Wild Too Long (1987) and You Oughta Be Here with Me (1990). Too Wild built on the success of 1986’s gold album Wine Colored Roses, which was previously paired on CD by Cherry Red’s T-Bird imprint with 1985’s Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes. Too Wild Too Long continued Jones’ long-standing partnership with renowned producer Billy Sherrill, and it yielded three hit Country singles: “I’m a Survivor” (No. 26), “The Bird” (No. 52) and “The Old Man No One Loves” (No. 63). The album itself placed at a respectable No. 14 on the Billboard Country chart. Jones didn’t pen any material for the album, but he did film a music video for Wyman Asbill’s “The Old Man No One Loves.”
You Oughta Be Here with Me three years later followed the same template. (One Woman Man, another prime candidate for reissue, came in between.) The songs were written by a number of familiar names, including Roger Miller (the title song) and Derek and the Dominos’ Bobby Whitlock with Jack “Peaceful Easy Feeling” Tempchin (“Someone That You Used to Know”). The LP was Jones’ final collaboration with Sherrill, and though it didn’t score any hit singles for Jones, two of its songs actually charted for other artists when “Somebody Paints the Wall” went Top 10 Country for Tracy Lawrence in 1992 and Blake Shelton took “Ol’ Red” to the Top 20 in 2001.
Alan Wilson has remastered both albums, and Michael Heatley has supplied a brief essay. After the jump, we’ll check out two of Jones’ duets albums, plus a two-for-one CD from Marty Robbins! Read the rest of this entry »
When George Jones died on April 26, 2013 at the age of 81, American song lost one of its all-time greats. Yet Jones’ music lives on thanks to a steady stream of reissues drawn from his deep catalogue, including a recent two-for-one package from Cherry Red’s Morello imprint. Jones inaugurated the Morello label last year with four albums on two CDs, and he’s returned to the roster with Jones Country and You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart, from 1983 and 1984, respectively. Morello’s second-ever CD came from another late country-and-western great, Marty Robbins. Four more Robbins LPs have arrived from the label as paired on two CDs: El Paso City (1976) and Adios Amigo (1977); and The Legend (1981) and Come Back to Me (1982). These albums are all making welcome appearances on CD.
Jones Country/You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart rewinds The Possum’s story from Morello’s last two-fer, which joined Bartender’s Blues, from 1978 with 1983’s Shine On. Jones Country arrived mere months after Shine On, in October 1983, while You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart followed in May 1984. Both of these Epic albums, like Shine On and so many before it, were produced by Billy Sherrill and recorded in Nashville. Jones Country took its name from an outdoor music park owned by Jones in his home state of Texas; Jones and wife Nancy operated the park for a six-year period, through 1988. Despite the tie-in, Epic released no singles from Jones Country, though it managed a respectable No. 27 Country placement nonetheless. Jones remained fond of the material on the LP; “Radio Lover” and “Burning Bridges” would reappear on his 1989 album One Woman Man, and “You Must Have Walked Across My Mind Again” was re-recorded for 1992’s Walls Can Fall. The album featured plenty of quality material. “Hello, Trouble” had been a hit for Buck Owens, and John Anderson charted with his own “The Girl at the End of the Bar.” Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter’s “Dream On” had been successfully recorded by both The Righteous Brothers and The Oak Ridge Boys prior to Jones’ rendition.
You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart fared better than its predecessors on the country chart, hitting No. 17. It features a bona fide Jones classic in the title track, written and first recorded by Leon Payne. A No. 14 country hit for Con Hunley in 1978, Jones’ version went all the way to No. 3 Country. Kris Kristofferson’s “Come Sundown” was another highlight, and Jones also recorded his own “I’m Ragged But I’m Right,” written in 1956. But Jones’ music was always timeless. The original album liner notes called him “The Master of the Sad Song,” but in truth, Jones was the Master of the Song. The title to You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart still rings true.
Jones’ two-for-one CD is available now. After the jump, we have the scoop on Morello’s two releases from Marty Robbins! Read the rest of this entry »
Joe’s review of all three of these new country/rock singles anthologies from Omnivore speaks for each of them pretty well!
Borderline, Sweet Dreams and Quiet Desires/The Second Album / Sam Dees, The Show Must Go On / Kenny O’Dell, Beautiful People / Pozo Seco, Shades of Time / Sam Samudio, Hard and Heavy / Billy Joe Shaver, The Complete Columbia Recordings /Rick Wakeman, No Earthly Connection (Real Gone Music)
The latest from Real Gone (some of which is on tap in the preceding link), including a solo LP from Sam The Sham, all of Billy Joe Shaver’s Columbia work and a solo disc from Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman.
Two new entries in Rhino’s “Original Album Series” sets, budget boxes packaging five albums by the same artist together, with a minimum of frills. R.E.M.’s set includes their final five albums, all recorded as a trio after drummer Bill Berry retired (Up (1998), Reveal (2001), Around the Sun (2004), Accelerate (2008) and Collapse Into Now (2011)), while Yes’ box includes their final works for Atlantic/Atco (Going for the One (1977), Tormato (1978), Drama (1980), 90125 (1983) and Big Generator (1987)).
Already available in the U.K., this domestic new release features the iconic singer-songwriter’s first ten albums in one box. Nothing new in the way of packaging or remastering, just a quick way to snag ‘em all at once. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Pat Boone, I’ll See You in My Dreams/This and That / Jane Morgan, What Now My Love/At the Cocoanut Grove / Tony Mottola, Roman Guitar 2/Spanish Guitar / Original Soundtrack Recordings, The Road to Hong Kong/Say One for Me (Sepia)
Some special two-for-one albums, many with bonus tracks, making their CD debuts from this British reissue label.
What makes a (living) legend most? Based on the label’s three most recent releases, Omnivore Recordings certainly has some ideas. Omnivore has just issued singles anthologies from three tried-and-true country titans: Merle Haggard’s The Complete ’60s Capitol Singles, George Jones’ The Complete United Artists Solo Singles, and Wanda Jackson’s The Best of the Classic Capitol Singles. All three titles reiterate the eclectic label’s commitment to reissuing some of the most significant C&W music of all time.
Like another Omnivore favorite, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard epitomized the “Bakersfield sound” of country music, a style rooted in pure honky-tonk. Unlike the Texas-born and Arizona-raised Owens, Haggard was actually born in Bakersfield, California and raised just across the river from that country capital. Owens played a major role in his career, though, when he hired Haggard as his bass player; Haggard also would make Buck’s ex-wife, Bonnie Owens, his second of five wives. The penultimate track on The Complete ’60s Capitol Singles (OVCD-57) is “Okie from Muskogee,” the controversial song that catapulted the singer-songwriter to superstardom. But the 26 tracks before “Okie” (and one after!) show why he’s one of the most revered names in country music, and are much more straightforward than that oft-misunderstood classic. These songs are built around themes familiar to any country fan: the twin temptations of women and drink, the outlaw life, solitude, the love of a mother, all rendered with the piercing honesty on which Haggard built a still-formidable reputation.
And though misery and sadness do frequently prevail, Merle evinced a keen sense of humor as far back as his first Capitol single “I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can” (“I’m gonna travel all around the worl’/I’ll be a threat to the sweetest girl/I’m gonna break every heart I can/Or my name ain’t Merle!”). 2010 Kennedy Center Honoree Haggard called Capitol home from 1965 to 1977, where he notched an impressive string of hits including many country No. 1s. Many of the best are here.
Haggard wrote most of the As and Bs here, but also paid tribute to Hank Cochran and Jimmie Rodgers with covers, and his first Country No. 1, “The Fugitive,” was the work of Liz and Casey Anderson. December 1966’s release of “The Fugitive” began Haggard’s impressive run of chart-topping hits, all of which dealt with the themes of the outlaw life, drawing on the singer’s own time spent in prison. “Branded Man” (No. 1, June 1967: “No matter where I’m livin’, a black mark follows me…”) was followed by death-row anthem “Sing Me Back Home” (No. 1, October 1967) and then by the bluegrass-flavored “The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde” (No. 1, February 1968). Unbelievably, “Mama Tried” followed on the same theme (No. 1, June 1968). Music may have saved Haggard from a life of crime; as an inmate at San Quentin, he was inspired by seeing Johnny Cash perform there. Clearly, he grasped the humanity of the characters he wrote in song and much like Cash, had a great deal of empathy for those who didn’t always “walk the line.”
Some of the all-time great drinking songs are here, including Merle’s first Capitol hit “Swinging Doors” (No. 5 Country) (“I’ve got swinging doors, a jukebox and a bar stool/And my new home has a flashing neon sign/Stop by and see me any time you want to/’Cause I’m always here at home ‘til closing time”), as well as “The Bottle Let Me Down” (No. 3) and “I Threw Away the Rose” (No. 2). These 1966 hits could be maudlin or cliché as rendered by other voices. But the emotional directness of Haggard’s resonant baritone keeps them rooted in reality, with those deep, low notes that seem to have come from the earth itself.
Many might be unaware of the role of Glen Campbell in Haggard’s recordings. While serving as a session stalwart in the L.A. “Wrecking Crew,” Haggard’s Capitol labelmate Campbell was frequently called upon to provide both guitar and background vocals to Merle’s recordings as produced by Ken Nelson and Charles “Fuzzy” Owen. When Campbell’s soaring tenor blended with Haggard’s lead and Bonnie Owens’ harmony vocal, the result was pure magic. Drummer Jim Gordon and guitar legend James Burton also made their mark on these singles. Their elegant musicianship and the singer’s own agreeable twang often masked the lyrical anguish. Even the stellar recording of Hank Cochran’s “Loneliness Is Eating Me Alive” conjures a jazzy mood; the Haggard/Bonnie Owens co-write “[Today] I Started Loving You Again” is gorgeously understated.
If the balance of the material on Complete ‘60s Singles wasn’t presented so compellingly, it would be easy for “Okie from Muskogee” to cast its long shadow over every other song here. The topical, politically incendiary song’s power might have even taken its author by surprise. The song is seemingly a condemnation of “long [haired] and shaggy” hippies who smoke marijuana, practice free love and burn their draft cards, but in recent years, Haggard has taken to interpreting it ironically. Regardless of his intentions writing the song, many took its “patriotic” message to heart, and it thrust Haggard to the next stage of fame and success. The B-side of “Okie,” “If I Had Left It Up to You,” is the concluding track on the compilation, and a much more traditional tune. How appropriate that Haggard closed out the 1960s with the “Okie” single; how appropriate that Omnivore has left us wanting more from Merle Haggard, posed for greater crossover success on the heels of a rather atypical song.
Deke Dickerson has written the copious liner notes, and every track has been remastered from the original single masters (most in mono) save one which could not be located, 1969’s “California Blues.”
After the jump: we check out companion volumes from George Jones and Wanda Jackson! Read the rest of this entry »
One thing the folks at Omnivore Recordings are, well, omnivorous about is country music. For Record Store Day’s Black Friday event, the label previewed four upcoming releases with special vinyl EPs from Buck Owens, Wanda Jackson, Merle Haggard and George Jones. Following the January 23, 2013 release of Owens’ Honky Tonk Man and Don Rich Sings George Jones, Omnivore will issue three new compilations on February 12: Haggard’s The Complete ’60s Capitol Singles, Jones’ The Complete United Artists Solo Singles, and Jackson’s The Best of the Classic Capitol Singles. The vinyl EPs will remain as companion discs to these new CDs, containing unique rarities not available elsewhere.
2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Wanda Jackson released her 31st studio album, Unfinished Business, just a couple of months ago, just the latest success in a long recording career dating back to 1954. The Queen of Rockabilly signed with Capitol Records in 1956, and remained with the label until 1973. The Best of the Classic Capitol Singles contains 29 songs from her Capitol tenure, all derived from the original analog mono masters. Expect rockabilly, country and gospel in a distinct Jackson stew which Omnivore promises will include rockers like “Fujiyama Mama” (1957) and “Mean Mean Man” (1958) as well as three-hanky tearjerkers like “No Wedding Bells for Joe” (1957) and “(Every Time They Play) Our Song” (1958). Daniel Cooper puts Jackson’s groundbreaking country-and-western stylings into perspective via his new liner notes.
While Jackson hailed from Oklahoma, her Capitol labelmate Merle Haggard hailed from California, where he remained to become a central proponent of the back-to-basics Bakersfield Sound alongside Buck Owens. 2010 Kennedy Center Honoree Haggard called Capitol home from 1965 to 1977, where he notched an impressive string of hits including many country No. 1s. “The Fugitive” kicked off Haggard’s run of chart-toppers in 1966, his sixth single to have reached the country charts. He ended the decade with another No. 1, the politically incendiary (and oft-misunderstood) “Okie from Muskogee.” Like Jackson, Haggard is still going strong today, and his pivotal first decade in music is definitively chronicled on The Complete ’60s Capitol Singles. The new anthology features 28 A & B sides taken from the original analog mono masters, and musician Deke Dickerson has written the liner notes.
After the jump, we look at what’s coming from George Jones! Plus: pre-order links and more! Read the rest of this entry »