Archive for the ‘News’ Category
For decades, The Disney Channel has served as a launching pad for the pop stars of tomorrow, from Justin Timberlake to Britney Spears to Selena Gomez and many more. One of the earliest shows to have stars emerge was Kids Incorporated which aired on The Disney Channel from 1986-1994 (after having moved there from syndication). Kids introduced audiences to, among others, Fergie and Jennifer Love Hewitt. But it was another cast member from the show who had early success stemming from her time on the program: Marta Marrero, or as she was billed on her self-titled debut album, Martika. This album has recently been reissued by Cherry Red imprint Cherry Pop in an expanded edition.
After having gotten her big break playing an orphan in 1982’s movie musical Annie, Martika played Gloria on Kids Incorporated for the show’s first three seasons from 1983-1987. During that time, she met producer/songwriter Michael Jay (Five Star). He recognized her talent and approached her about collaborating. Martika signed a record deal with Columbia in 1987 with Jay inked as the producer. Her debut recording for the label was the song “We Are Music,” issued only in Japan as a promotional release.
Martika and Michael Jay began work on what would become Martika. Jay wrote or co-wrote 6 of the 10 songs on the album. He was joined as a co-writer on two of the songs by Martika herself, who Jay had encouraged to begin writing. (She also co-wrote two other songs on the album.) The album was released in October of 1988 with the lead-off single “More Than You Know” coming in November. It hit No. 18 in the U.S. and No. 21 in the U.K. The next single would prove to be an even bigger success and become the song most associated with Martika: “Toy Soldiers.” Released in 1989, the single climbed to No. 5 in the U.K. but reached pole position in the U.S., going gold. The album itself also went gold, peaking at No. 15 in the U.S. and No. 11 in the U.K. Two other singles were released: the Carole King cover “I Feel the Earth Move” (No. 7 U.K.) and “Water” (No. 59 U.K.).
After the jump, we have more on Martika including the complete track listing with discography and order links!
Last year, UMe demanded that listeners “Respect the Classics” with a new series of multi-format reissues dedicated to landmark hip-hop albums from the vaults of labels including Def Jam, Interscope, Priority and Virgin. One of last year’s releases was an LP reissue of Public Enemy’s 1988 release It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. On November 24, Def Jam will revisit that title once again with a 2-CD/1-DVD expanded reissue.
The second album by hip hop group Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions only peaked at No. 42 on the Billboard 200, but has since been recognized as one of the most influential albums in the hip-hop genre. With lead MC Chuck D ratcheting up the group’s social commentary via his pointed lyrics, It Takes a Nation took a cue from Marvin Gaye’s seminal What’s Going On and attracted attention from the mainstream that Public Enemy’s 1987 debut failed to receive. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Black Albums list and made a Top 10 placement in the U.K. pop chart, as well. The LP has since been declared platinum and has been considered in some quarters to be the greatest hip-hop album of all time.
It Takes a Nation of Millions was the result of extensive preproduction. Rather than touring with the rest of the group Eric “Vietnam” Sadler and Hank Shocklee remained in the studio shaping the material for the Nation of Millions album, readying tracks for Chuck D and Flavor Flav’s return. Produced by production team The Bomb Squad (including Chuck D) under the auspices of executive producer Rick Rubin, the sixteen tracks on It Takes a Nation blended rap with funk, electronica, pop, soul and rock influences to create a singular aural assault. Music from the album has since been sampled by artists of various genres such as The Beastie Boys, The Game, Jay Z, Jurassic 5, Madonna and My Bloody Valentine.
After the jump, we have details on what you can expect from this set, plus pre-order links and the full track listing with discography!
Ace Super Soul Round-Up, Part Two: The “One in a Million” Songs of Sam Dees, The New Orleans Sound of Cosimo Matassa
Birmingham, Alabama native Sam Dees has worn many hats in a long and illustrious career – producer, singer, songwriter, among them. But it’s a songwriter that Dees has received his greatest acclaim. He’s gifted music to George Benson and Aretha Franklin (“Love All the Hurt Away”), Atlantic Starr (“Am I Dreaming”), Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Save the Overtime (For Me)” and Loleatta Holloway (“The Show Must Go On”) – as well as Larry Graham, whose No. 1 R&B/No. 9 pop hit “One in a Million You” lends its title to One in a Million: The Songs of Sam Dees.
This 22-track compilation draws upon Dees’ vast catalogue of soulful compositions, originally issued between 1970 and 1983. Dees himself kicks off the anthology with his own 1977 recording of “My World,” one of his strongest ballads. It goes on to feature a “Who’s Who” of soul royalty including The Spinners’ John Edwards (“Stop This Merry-Go-Round,” 1973), The Chi-Lites (the exclusive U.K. remix of “Vanishing Love” from 1977 – a song first recorded by…John Edwards!), Loleatta Holloway (the aforementioned “The Show Must Go On” from 1975), Esther Phillips (“Cry to Me,” from 1981 – first recorded by Loleatta!), Jackie Wilson (“Just as Soon as the Feeling’s Over,” from 1975), and Johnnie Taylor (“Seconds of Your Love,” from 1983). The latter was co-written by Dees and Philadelphia’s Ron Kersey, and also recorded by artists including Holloway, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Wilson Pickett and Jackie Moore. The Kersey/Dees partnership is also represented with The Temptations’ 1983 “What a Way to Put It,” featuring Dennis Edwards on lead vocals. Another Philly soul great, Bobby Martin, produced 1980’s “Where Did We Go Wrong” for LTD, co-written by Dees and LTD’s Jeffrey Osborne. The set, with track-by-track annotations from compiler Tony Rounce and remastering from Duncan Cowell, ends with Larry Graham’s “One in a Million You,” appropriate for a one-in-a-million solid gold songwriter.
The death earlier this year of Cosimo Matassa at the age of 88 truly marked the end of an era. Born in New Orleans in 1926, Matassa opened his first recording studio in 1945. He moved to a larger facility in 1955, and as studio owner and engineer, he became one of the most significant figures in New Orleans’ musical history – and therefore, the history of R&B. Cracking The Cosimo Code: ‘60s New Orleans R&B and Soul draws on the rich music recorded by Matassa at Cosimo Recording Studios, 521-525 Governor Nicholls Street, New Orleans. Matassa had been around to witness the changing of the guard in N’awlins R&B, from Fats Domino and producer Dave Bartholomew to younger production talents like Allen Toussaint, Wardell Querzegue and Harold Battiste and their stable of artists including Lee Dorsey, The Meters, Ernie K-Doe and The Neville Brothers. Though much else of the sound of the city changed, Matassa was a constant, presence and a constant innovator.
After the jump: more on Cosimo, order links and track listings for both titles!
Real Gone Music is saying “Happy New Year!” a couple of months early with the announcement of the label’s January 6 slate of releases. This customarily eclectic batch is highlighted by the classic soul of The Main Ingredient and Jackie Moore, blue comedy from Redd Foxx, two otherworldly soundtracks from the films of cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (on both LP and CD!), and more live jam-band greatness from Grateful Dead.
Real Gone’s press release, with full details on each title, follows!
LOS ANGELES, CA – One of the ironies of the career of Chilean-born filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky is that while he is best known as a visual stylist, his most avid and loyal champions have often been musicians. When Jodorowsky arrived in New York from Mexico City in 1970 carrying a copy of the then-unreleased El Topo, it was the jazz producer Alan Douglas who bought the distribution rights to the film. When Jodorowsky and Douglas were looking for a venue in which to screen El Topo, it was John Lennon and Yoko Ono who asked for it to run at midnight following their short-film festival at New York’s Elgin Cinema. And after six months of sold-out midnight screenings at the Elgin, it was Lennon’s manager, Allen Klein (ABKCO’s founder), who bought the rights to El Topo and agreed to produce its follow-up, The Holy Mountain. But then, music has always played a very large role in Jodorowsky’s films—and that has never been more evident than in the soundtracks to The Holy Mountain and to his latest film, The Dance of Reality. Both soundtracks are being issued by Real Gone Music in association with ABKCO Music & Records for the first time on LP and stand-alone CD on January 6.
When Jodorowsky wanted, in his words, “another kind of music—something that wasn’t entertainment, something that wasn’t a show, something that went to the soul, something profound,” for the soundtrack to The Holy Mountain, forward came jazz legend Don Cherry and crack studio musician (and one-time Archie) Ron Frangipane to share composing and (along with Jodorowsky) conducting duties. And, boy, did they deliver—the score to The Holy Mountain is every bit as hallucinatory as the fantastic visual imagery in the film itself. The deep, primordial chants that begin the movie, “Trance Mutation,” give way to an almost jaunty percussion-and-plucked-strings melody, “Pissed and Passed Out.” On the next track, “Violence of the Lambs,” a single flute is slowly joined by a set of mournful strings while, onscreen, Gestapo-like soldiers in gas masks parade with bloody lamb carcasses on sticks. “Drink It,” an upbeat sitar folk melody, follows, briefly accompanying the main protagonist The Thief’s ill-considered decision to guzzle tequila (or sleeping potion). Then there is “Christs 4 Sale,” a blaring orchestral riff that sounds like it was ripped from a 1950s swords-and-sandals epic. The next track, “Cast Out and Pissed,” begins with a bee-like buzz, then is overwhelmed by a cacophony of drums, horns, and, finally, screaming. “Eye of the Beholder” which follows, changes moods entirely once again—a string section swells with overwrought romanticism. (Onscreen, a group of young prostitutes prays in a church. One of them later walks arm and arm with a chimpanzee.) And then there is “Communion,” a brooding, trumpet-led number that would be at home on the noir-steeped Chinatown soundtrack. (As “Communion” plays, the Thief is not driving through Los Angeles at night but eating the face off a statue of Christ.) This veritable cornucopia of musical styles would be more than enough to fill an entire movie. It would be more than enough to fill three movies. But in fact, the eight musical compositions described above play entirely in The Holy Mountain’s first 24 minutes. Still ahead lie the hard rock of “Psychedelic Weapons,” the pomp and circumstance of the waltz “Miniature Plastic Bomb Shop,” the gospel-inflected sax of “Isla (The Sapphic Sleep),” and so on. Every one of the 24 tracks on the film’s soundtrack presents another vertiginous twist in the philosophical and spiritual journey that is The Holy Mountain.
Now, Real Gone Music/ABKCO presents, on gatefold double-LP and CD, the original soundtrack to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 masterpiece The Holy Mountain. Both editions feature liner notes by New York Times contributor Eric Benson that include exclusive quotes from Jodorowsky himself, festooned with copious production stills. Produced for release by Grammy-winning producer Teri Landi and Mick Gochanour, and mastered from the original tapes by Joe Yannece (with lacquer cutting on the LP by Carl Rowatti at Trutone Mastering), this long-awaited release of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain: Original Soundtrack offers a major addition to the soundtrack canon and a completely unique listening experience.
For the soundtrack to The Dance of Reality, which marked his triumphant return to the film world in 2014 after a 23-year hiatus, Jodorowsky tapped his own son, Adan Jodorowsky (a.k.a. “Adanowsky”), whose work as a composer and performer (with Devendra Banhart among others) has won him an international following in his own right. In the radiantly visceral autobiographical film, a young Jodorowsky (played by his son, Brontis) is confronted by a collection of compelling characters that contribute to his burgeoning surreal consciousness. Adding to the autobiographical nature of the work, the film was shot in Tocopilla, a coastal town on the edge of the Chilean desert, where the filmmaker was born in 1929. Blending his personal history with metaphor, mythology, and poetry, The Dance of Reality reflects Jodorowsky’s philosophy that reality is not objective but rather a “dance” created by our own imaginations. To accompany the film’s rich, dense and disturbing imagery, Adanowsky’s score is alternately lush and comical, blending brooding string passages with hypnotically repeating piano figures that create a mood that is at times foreboding, at times wistful and, as is always the case with a score to a Jodorowsky film, surreal. Real Gone Music/ABKCO’s release of the complete soundtrack to The Dance of Reality on LP and CD features a number of beautiful production stills from the film displayed on the album jacket and CD booklet, with mastering by Joe Yannece. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s tradition of remarkable film soundtracks lives on with The Dance of Reality.
After the jump: a look at a treasure trove of rare and never-before-heard music from Jackie Moore (of Sweet Charlie Babe fame!), plus some off-color laughs from the inimitable Redd Foxx and more from The Main Ingredient and Grateful Dead!
In two short years, Johnny Mathis will likely celebrate his 60th anniversary with Columbia Records, a towering achievement by any standard. But even the strongest marriages must sometimes weather separations, as was the case when the vocalist jumped ship to rival Mercury Records for the period between 1963 and 1967. At Mercury, Mathis formed Global Productions to administer his master recordings, and recorded some eleven albums (only ten of which were originally released) under its aegis. Upon his return to Columbia, a select few of Mathis’ Mercury recordings were reintroduced to the catalogue; the others remained dormant. A 2-CD set, The Global Masters, arrived in 1997 as an overview of this period, and in 2012, Real Gone Music finally reissued the ten original albums, and the eleventh shelved album, in full. Now, Legacy Recordings has released The Complete Global Albums Collection with all eleven LPs plus two more discs of bonus material, more than half of which has never previously seen the light of day. Within the compact, nondescript package, the box set contains some of the most beguiling music ever recorded by the velvet-voiced singer. And as the 1963-1967 period birthed some of the most seismic shifts in popular music, the box also traces the evolution of the Mathis style as he transitioned from Broadway and Hollywood standards to contemporary pop without sacrificing his rich, warm vibrato or the manner in which he caressed a lyric.
At Mercury, Mathis didn’t veer too far from the richly romantic ballad style that made him famous. He made the decision to self-produce a number of his albums, modestly reflecting in his specially-penned liner notes that “I tried to do what I could, but I had no idea what would be good for the market.” Crucially, though, he enlisted a number of the arrangers with whom he had worked at Columbia, including Don Costa and Glenn Osser.
Costa helmed Mathis’ Mercury debut, 1963’s The Sounds of Christmas, which is only now premiering on CD as part of this set in its original format. Columbia’s past LP and CD reissues retitled the album Christmas with Johnny Mathis and dropped two songs (“The Little Drummer Boy” and “Have Reindeer, Will Travel”). Both are happily reinstated here. The collaboration between singer Mathis, arranger Osser and producer Costa resulted in one of Mathis’ strongest and most diverse holiday sets – with spiritual songs, Tin Pan Alley favorites and novelties all represented.
Most of Mathis’ earliest Mercury albums concentrated on Broadway and Hollywood repertoire, exquisitely sung and lushly arranged, from songwriters of the past and present: Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen (“Call Me Irresponsible”) Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (“A Ship Without a Sail”), Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe (“Camelot”), Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (“Put on a Happy Face”). Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin (“Long Ago and Far Away”) and Jay Livingston and Ray Evans (“Never Let Me Go”) among them. The smart and sophisticated songs of Bart Howard also made a striking impression on these albums. Mathis championed his friend by recording such compositions as “Forget Me Not,” “Sky Full of Rainbows,” “What Do You Feel in Your Heart,” “Fantastic,” “Tomorrow Song,” “A Thousand Blue Bubbles.”
The most radical long-player of The Global Albums is 1964’s adventurous Olé, arranged by Allyn Ferguson. On this true departure of a record, Mathis performed a number of Latin American songs in their original language. These weren’t just much-covered songs from the bossa nova boom (although he did record Luis Bonfá’s “Manha de Carneval”) but also light classical pieces from the likes of Heitor Villa-Lobos and even Desi Arnaz’ signature “Babalu.”
Keep reading after the jump!
Following the label’s 2012 two-disc expansion of Aretha Franklin’s 1985 “comeback” Who’s Zoomin’ Who, December will see similar releases for two more titles plucked from her Arista catalogue: 1986’s Aretha (her second album of that name for Arista) and 1989’s Through the Storm.
Aretha welcomed back producer Narada Michael Walden and yielded a number of chart hits including a rowdy take on The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” featuring moonlighting Stones Keith Richards (who also produced the track) and Ron Wood, “Jimmy Lee,” “If You Need My Love Tonight” and a duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me.” The latter earned the Queen her first No. 1 Pop single since “Respect” in 1967, and helped propel Aretha to Gold status. FTG adds a whopping 19 bonus tracks to the original 9-song album which also featured a sublime rendition of the Burton Lane/E.Y. Harburg standard “Look to the Rainbow,” from the musical Finian’s Rainbow. The bonus material includes five different mixes each of “Rock-a-Lott,” “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” plus the single edit of “An Angel Cries,” two mixes of “Jimmy Lee,” and the non-album “Aretha Megamix.”
Franklin followed her pop smash with a return to her gospel roots via One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, but was back in the secular realm with 1989’s Through the Storm, the second of FTG’s new 2-CD reissues. Disappointingly, the short, eight-song album again overseen by Narada Michael Walden stalled outside of the top 50 on the Billboard 200 despite the Top 20 single hit with the title track featuring Elton John. That duet is one of the four on the LP. It also features Whitney Houston on “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be,” which like “Through the Storm” was written by the team of Albert Hammond (“It Never Rains in Southern California”) and the ubiquitous Diane Warren. The Four Tops and Kenny G join Franklin on “If Ever a Love There Was,” and Soul Brother No. 1 James Brown drops in for “Gimme Your Love.” FTG is adding 18 bonus cuts: six versions of the Brown duet plus an interview with Brown and Franklin on the first disc, and eleven, count ‘em, eleven mixes of “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be” on Disc Two.
After the jump, we have more on these titles including pre-order links and the complete track listings! Read the rest of this entry »
Ace Super Soul Round-Up, Part One: Wayne Cochran, Arthur Prysock, and More “When Country Meets Soul”
Wayne Cochran was known as “The White Knight of Soul,” for his outrageous onstage attire and white pompadour. But underneath all the glamour of his showbiz persona, Cochran was a commanding soul vocalist. With Goin’ Back to Miami: The Soul Sides 1965-1970, Ace aims to showcase Wayne Cochran, the singer. This 2-CD, 38-track set collects recordings for the King, Mercury and Chess labels during the five-year period in which Cochran immersed himself in true R&B. As Alec Palao explains in his introduction to the thick, 28-page booklet, “He came on as a novelty [at venues such as The Apollo] and left as a fully-fledged blue-eyed soul brother.” Much of the rest of the booklet is filled with Cochran’s own illuminating recollections of his pop life; today, he’s a minister in Florida.
Inspired by his friend James Brown, Cochran’s approach was full-throttle in every respect. He made his debut on King in 1963, just a year before he would score his biggest success as a songwriter with J. Frank Wilson (and later, Pearl Jam)’s “Last Kiss.” He was encouraged to take his music in a harder-hitting direction by King labelmate Brown as evidenced by his recording of “Think” included here. He next moved to the small Soft label and then to Mercury during the period in which his club shows with the C.C. Riders really set his live work skyrocketing. Philadelphia’s Jerry Ross produced Cochran’s “Goin’ Back to Miami” in 1966, name-checking the city in which he’s lived since 1964. After Mercury had failed to set his chart career ablaze (despite fine work from Ross and his frequent arranger Joe Renzetti, and others), Cochran moved to Chess, where he recorded at Muscle Shoal’s Fame Studios. He returned to King in 1969 where plans were afoot for a live album. Though The Wayne Cochran Show LP (cut “live in the studio,” not actually “live”) never materialized, Ace has included it in full on the second disc of this collection. With Cochran’s interpretations of songs made famous by Otis Redding, Sly and the Family Stone, Sam and Dave and The Temptations, it’s a time capsule to the heyday of Cochran’s trademark “Vegas soul.” Cochran ended his recording career in the 1970s at Epic, also bringing his live work to a close late in that decade. He started a ministry in the early 1980s, where he happily remains ensconced today. But Goin’ Back to Miami is a fine appreciation of his towering, often underrated vocal talents, equal parts showbiz and passion. The set has been remastered by Nick Robbins.
After the jump, we’re taking a look at music from Arthur Prysock and the When Country Meets Soul series! Read the rest of this entry »