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Ace’s “Girls with Guitars 3″ Features Guitar Rock From Jackie DeShannon, Brenda Lee, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, More

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Girls with Guitars 3Ace Records began its Girls with Guitars CD series in 2004.  That first volume took its inspiration from a 1989 LP issued by the label and featured 24 tracks from lesser-known American girl groups worthy of attention from garage-rock fans.  The music of Girls with Guitars was diverse, encompassing a variety of sixties sounds from garage to pop and soul.  A second volume, Destroy That Boy: More Girls with Guitars, followed in 2009 ramping up the star wattage with a couple of mind-blowing cuts by Ann-Margret.  Now, Volume 3 – entitled The Rebel Kind after Lee Hazlewood’s song famously recorded by Dino, Desi and Billy and surveyed here by New Zealand’s The Chicks – collects 24 more rockin’ girl rarities from the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Japan and beyond.

The most famous names on The Rebel Kind belong to Jackie DeShannon and Brenda Lee.  Jackie has been a fixture on the Ace scene, with the label offering volumes of her complete Liberty and Imperial singles as well as a collection of her work as a songwriter.  (A second such volume is on the way.)  Girls with Guitars naturally indulges the more rocking side of the “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” and “What the World Needs Now is Love” chanteuse, featuring her 1964 recording of “Dream Boy,” recording during the same London trip that yielded her folk-rock gem “Don’t Turn Your Back on Me.”  Jimmy Page, then a hot session guitar slinger, joins Jackie on the track.  Nashville queen and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” gal Brenda Lee also found herself in London in 1964 with Jimmy Page at her side and on fire.  With producer Mickie Most (The Animals, Donovan), Lee recorded the version of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” heard here.

Donovan himself is represented with “You Just Gotta Know My Mind” from actress, singer and future David Bowie pal and collaborator Dana Gillespie.  The Donovan tune was Gillespie’s first single for Decca Records, and yup, featured the ubiquitous Page!    Donovan isn’t the only famous name here in the songwriting department.  Bob Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” is heard via a 1966 single by The Honeybeats – in Italian!  Brill Building stalwarts Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Chico’s Girl” was cut in Los Angeles by producer and Wrecking Crew sax man Steve Douglas for a 1966 single reprised here.  L.A. band The Turtles served as the backing group for The Chymes on another sound of ’66 –the Chattahoochee Records single “He’s Not There Anymore,” written and produced by Nita Garfield and her boyfriend, The Turtles’ Howard Kaylan.

Rock on after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 25, 2014 at 10:49

Look Up To The Sun: Ruthann Friedman Goes Beyond “Windy” On Now Sounds’ “Complete Constant Companion”

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Ruthann Friedman - Constant CompanionRoughly one year ago, Now Sounds released Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook. Its colorful cover was adorned with a striking photograph of the artist, intense and beautiful, in a verdant setting. The label has now continued the Ruthann Friedman story with The Complete Constant Companion Sessions, and its cover is as to Windy’s as night is to day. Its stark black-and-white line art by Peter Kaukonen appears to depict an angel on a landscape of rolling hills, conjuring cryptic text and an arrangement of branches. The drawing is both spare and intricate, mysterious and inviting. It’s an apropos introduction to the intimate world of Constant Companion. The lush Wrecking Crew-aided pop arrangements as heard on Windy have ceded to delicate voice-and-guitar, folk-style performances, though the individuality of Friedman’s exquisite original compositions is – put simply – the one constant.

Ruthann Friedman is best known, of course, for penning The Association’s 1967 chart-topper “Windy” which was ranked among BMI’s Top 100 songs of the twentieth century. Now Sounds’ 2013 anthology premiered tracks salvaged from an aborted LP intended for A&M Records produced by Tommy LiPuma (George Benson, Diana Krall), as well as sessions with Curt Boettcher (The Association, Sagittarius) and others. It featured guests including Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks and The Beau Brummels’ Ron Elliot on tracks recorded between 1966 and 1973. The centerpiece of this new collection is the 1969 Reprise LP Constant Companion; with the A&M project shelved, it was Friedman’s debut and her only studio release until 2013. To the album’s original twelve tracks, Now Sounds has added twelve more, most from its sessions and all previously unissued.

“Come all you likely people and hear these sounds I wail,” implores the singer as “Piper’s Call” begins. The de facto first track of Constant Companion, following the short, jazzy a cappella “Topsy Turvy Moon,” the beguiling, acoustic psych-folk ballad (co-written with Steve Mann) sets the fragile tone of the album. Friedman’s lyrics are more than occasionally impressionistic, employing timeless, often pastoral images in their storytelling. With Friedman accompanying herself on guitar, there’s nothing to detract from her piercing, expressive vocals on these moody, low-key reflections as produced in understated fashion by Joe Wissert (The Turtles, Boz Scaggs).

Many tracks here feel deeply personal or drawn directly from the artist’s experience, such as the contemplative “Looking Back Over Your Shoulder.” Friedman shares in her candid track-by-track liner notes that “Ringing Bells” (“…and blinking lights/In and after dawns of hard-lived nights”) was inspired by an acid trip, and indeed, it’s an eloquent evocation of the experience: “Here, I’ve found a never place/With shining souls on every face/Around the corner of a sigh/Between the twinkle of an eye.” A vivid snapshot of a particular era, she concludes, “High in constant never time, I dig the workings of my mind.” Similarly, the lovely and hopeful “Peaceable Kingdom” is very much of its time, dreaming of a better place within flight’s reach. “Danny,” written for Friedman’s nephew, is tender and one of the loveliest moments on Constant Companion. Other songs are far darker and more somber, like the hauntingly offbeat “Fairy Prince Rainbow Man,” and the sparse, poetic chronicle of the end of relationship, “Too Late to Be Mourning.”

Friedman, perhaps her own harshest critic, dismisses “People” as “moaning, whining, wimpy bullshit.” But there’s something touching and indeed, universal, hearing her reach a painful moment of self-discovery: “I have spent so many years trying to find myself/Now that I know where I am, I find that I am by myself.” The surrounding lyrics are a bit florid, but her awareness and ability to relate emotional truths can’t be denied. The up-tempo “No Time” is pointedly criticized by its songwriter as “another bullshit song,” and it is of a piece with “People.” Though Friedman is being hard on herself, both songs are directed at those who didn’t understand her. In “People,” she chastises, “People, you know you are just the same as me/The only difference is the lie we see…” and in the latter, it’s “Damn the chaos and down with the fools/And don’t bug me with all your rules.” The artist has certainly matured, but her sentiments still likely ring true for those of a certain age today, in the process of their own soul-searching.

A bluesy melody enhances “Morning Becomes You,” which would have made a great candidate for a harmony-pop rendition by the likes of The Association. (So many of the songs here are so intimate and so personal that it’s hard to imagine other artists tackling them.) The original album’s closing track, “Look Up to the Sun,” is also one of its most sensual. As on “Windy,” Friedman skillfully blends both the celestial and the earthbound into the fabric of her music.

Constant Companion has been expanded with numerous bonus tracks!  Read about them and more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 24, 2014 at 09:29

Posted in News, Reissues, Reviews, Ruthann Friedman

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Sumpin Funky Going On: “Country Funk II” Features Willie, Dolly, Bobby, Jackie, Kenny and More

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Country Funk 2Almost two years ago, we reported on Light in the Attic’s Country Funk, an anthology celebrating the hybrid genre of the title.  Back then, LITA described country funk as an “inherently defiant genre” encompassing “the elation of gospel with the sexual thrust of the blues, country hoedown harmony with inner city grit.  It is alternately playful and melancholic, slow jammin’ and booty shakin’.  It is both studio slick and barroom raw.”  Well, if the 16 nuggets on that 2012 release weren’t enough for you, the label has returned to the well with another 17 slabs of soulful country-and-western tunes with Country Funk II.  Whereas the first volume spanned the period 1969-1975, this second installment takes in tracks from 1967 to 1974.

One familiar name has returned for Volume II.  It’s Bob, formerly known as Bobby, Darin, with another track from his Bob Dylan-inspired Commitment album of 1969.  “Me and Mr. Hohner” is about as far-removed from “Mack the Knife” as one can get, but Darin filled the role of hippie-folkie troubadour with the same conviction he had brought to the role of tuxedo-clad showman.  The luminous Jackie DeShannon also crossed over from the world of pop.  The “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” and “What the World Needs Now” artist was an early lady of the canyon with her 1969 LP Laurel Canyon, from which Country Funk II has derived her gritty cover of The Band’s immortal “The Weight.”

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton famously teamed up in 1983 for the chart-topping single “Islands in the Stream,” but both artists were by then well-versed in blurring genre lines – so it’s no surprise to see them here.  Rogers is heard with his band The First Edition, best-known for their psychedelic “Just Dropped In,” on the 1971 single “Tulsa Turnaround.”  Parton’s contribution is “Getting Happy” from her still-not-on-CD 1974 album Love is Like a Butterfly.  Willie Nelson had the same deft ability to traverse the worlds of pop and country as Parton and Rogers, and he shows up here with “Shotgun Willie,” the title track of his 1973 Atlantic Records outlaw-country breakthrough album.

The Byrds’ Gene Clark helped that seminal folk-rock band incorporate elements of country, bluegrass and psychedelia into their own music, and in 1968, he teamed up with banjo great Doug Dillard to form Dillard and Clark.  The duo produced two albums for A&M including 1969’s Through the Morning, Through the Night, from which their reinvention of Lennon and McCartney’s “Don’t Let Me Down” is reprised here.  Another duo, Larry Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, created an unusual fusion in 1967 when they teamed with psych-rockers The Kaleidoscope for the Okeh single “Nobody.”  The song was covered by Three Dog Night for that band’s debut album; the original recording is presented on Country Funk II.  Three Dog Night scored a No. 1 hit with “Joy to the World” from the pen of Hoyt Axton; the Oklahoma-born songwriter’s “California Women” from his Joy to the World album appears here.

We have more details – plus the full track listing with discography and order links – after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 23, 2014 at 13:37

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!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 23, 2014 at 12:35

Posted in Diana Ross, News, Reissues

Old School: Soul Man Willie Jones Has “Fire In My Soul” On Comeback Album, Welcomes Frank Black, Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere

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Willie Jones - Fire In My SoulWe interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a special news bulletin: Willie Jones, vocalist for The Five Jokers back in the early 1960s, has returned to recording for the first time in decades! His new solo album, Fire in My Soul, arrived this week in the U.K. from Cherry Red Records’ Shout! label, and we’re happy to report that it’s a treat for vintage soul enthusiasts!

Much has been made of today’s crop of “neo-soul” artists, fusing organic elements of traditional R&B into more contemporary grooves. But one modern soul revivalist was actually there at the ground floor: “Willie Jones was the first guy to sing rhythm and blues in Detroit,” said soul singer par excellence Bettye LaVette. “Everybody in the world would come down to watch [Willie’s group] The Royal Jokers. They did, and said, ‘I can do that’ and off they went and made a lot of money, and nobody in Detroit offered a kind of leg-up to Willie that he needed to get his career going.” Yet miraculously, nearly 60 years after Jones first appeared on Atlantic Records, the veteran soul man has reappeared with Fire in My Soul via Cherry Red’s Shout! imprint. Its fifteen robust tracks harken back to classic R&B and gutbucket southern soul but with a vibrant edge befitting the 77-years young singer.

The vocal instrument – an expressive tenor – that led Jones to establish himself as a popular recording artist at Atlantic and a host of independent labels in the early days of popular R&B is largely undiminished despite the passage of time. Jones is joined by a core rhythm section of album producer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Tiven on keyboards, saxophone and guitar and Sally Tiven on bass plus a rotating line-up of drummers including Anton Fig, Simon Kirke, Chester Thompson, Harry Stinson, Darrell Peyton, Tariq Snare and Greg Morrow.  “I’ve got a fire in my soul and I just can’t put it out,” he sings on the funky title track, a collaboration with Stax legend Steve Cropper and the Young Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere. Cropper and Cavaliere, who co-wrote the track with Tiven, contribute their signature guitar and keyboards, respectively, to the song as well as to “In the Wind.” (The pair have previously issued two joint albums, 2008’s Nudge It Up a Notch and 2010’s Midnight Flyer. The contemporary blues-soul approach of those projects is echoed here.) Black Francis, a.k.a. The Pixies’ Frank Black, joins Jones on the big, honking soul stew of “Janie, Turn It Over.”

Bettye LaVette, for whom Jones wrote the Atlantic single “Shut Your Mouth” in 1962, pays tribute to her old friend with a typically soul-deep vocal – and even a bit of rap – on “Without Redemption” (“Without redemption, all human goodness fails/Without redemption, there is no peace…”) penned by Jones, Tiven and LaVette with poet-lyricist Stephen John Kalinich, best-known for his collaborations with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Kalinich also co-wrote “Janie” and the brassy, up-tempo “Troubled World” on which Jones duels with Tiven’s searing guitar. Another special guest on Fire in My Soul is Jon Auer of The Posies and Big Star. Auer co-wrote and plays both guitar and keyboards on the rueful “Scar B4 I Bruise” (“They gave me a pillow to sleep on/But I had to make my own bed of nails…”). “Reasons” is similarly dark, though the arrangement has an Allen Toussaint vibe to it. “Add It Up” is a slow blues-flecked scorcher that would have fit snugly in the Otis Redding songbook.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

July 23, 2014 at 10:28

Posted in News, Reviews, Willie Jones

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Mad About Her: Edsel Preps Next Wave of Belinda Carlisle Reissues

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Belinda EdselEdsel earned some deservedly high marks for last year’s red carpet treatment of Belinda Carlisle’s solo catalogue, remastering and expanding her albums for Virgin (in the U.K.)/MCA (in the U.S.) and issuing a career-spanning compilation as well. Now, they’ve announced expansions of three more albums Go-Go’s frontwoman.

The U.K. catalogue label will release a CD/DVD edition of solo debut Belinda (1986), which featured the Top 5 hit “Mad About You” and a cover of Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold” (remixes of which featured Payne herself); a 2CD/DVD version of 1996′s A Woman and a Man, which featured U.K. Top 10 hits “In Too Deep” and “Always Breaking My Heart,” and an expanded CD of her most recent studio effort, 2007′s Voila, which featured spirited covers of French-language pop standards.

Belinda comes with remixes of “Mad About You” and “Band of Gold” plus “Dancing in the City,” from the soundtrack to the film Burglar, as well as the original Belinda live concert video. A Man and a Woman features 19 bonus tracks and four music videos, while Voila features, on one disc, the original album and a four-track bonus EP of English language versions.

All four releases are due September 1; after the jump you’ll find complete track listings and Amazon U.K. order links!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 22, 2014 at 13:55

Not Soon Forgotten: Deep Purple’s Overlooked “Purpendicular” Gets Reissue From Hear No Evil

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PurpendicularThere’s rarely a lull in activity for the catalogue of Deep Purple, one of the most enduring bands to emerge from the British hard and progressive rock scenes of the late 1960s.  Cherry Red’s Hear No Evil Records imprint has recently continued its reissue series for Deep Purple’s 1990s catalogue with an expanded edition of 1996’s Purpendicular [sic], chronologically following Slaves and Masters (1990) and The Battle Rages On… (1993).

Hear No Evil’s raison d’être for this reissue is simple.  Malcolm Dome lays out the case in his new liner notes: “It’s odd how much of Deep Purple’s recorded output has been ignored.  In fact, anything that came out between 1970 and 1974 is applauded.  The rest is criticized – or even worse – just plain ignored…and 1996’s Purpendicular is certainly one album that deserves more attention and acclaim.”

With Ritchie Blackmore having departed Purple in 1993 during the tour for The Battle Rages On, Deep Purple was faced with a gaping hole when it came time to return to the studio.  Ace shredder Joe Satriani had stepped in for Blackmore on tour, and even signed on for another tour with Purple.  But Satriani’s own obligations prevented him from recording with the group, and so Steve Morse of Kansas and Dixie Dregs was enlisted.  The new Deep Purple Mk. VII line-up of Morse, Roger Glover (bass), Ian Gillan (vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards) and Ian Paice (drums) proved a felicitous one, and remained in place until 2002 when Lord departed to go solo.  Purpendicular was an auspicious debut for the line-up.

All five members were credited with the album’s twelve original songs.  Dome quotes Roger Glover: “There was a great feeling, great vibe in the band, so we did all those tunes in the first few weeks.”  Glover added that the album felt like an artistic rebirth after the band’s final days with Blackmore had turned sour: “I’m playing, probably for the first time in my life, like a bass player.  I feel like a bass player.  Before, I always felt there was no control of what I did.  What I did had to sort of fit, and there was always this struggle to find a space where I could work.  Now, I have all the space in the world.  Anything can happen.”

Deep Purple settled at Greg Rike Productions’ studio in Orlando, Florida to record Purpendicular, with the band taking production credit.  Morse’s effect on the band was heard immediately on the album’s first track, “Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic.” The new guitarist employed the technique of pinch harmonics in which the player’s thumb or index finger on the picking hand slightly catches the string after it is picked thereby canceling the fundamental frequency of the string, and letting one of the harmonics dominate, often resulting in an unusual, high-pitched squeal.  Morse’s bandmates were so impressed with his creative sounds that “Vavoom” entered the band’s live set also as its opening number.

After the jump: what extras will you find here?  Plus: the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 22, 2014 at 09:09

Posted in Deep Purple, News, Reissues

Release Round-Up: Week of July 22

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Beatles - Japan BoxThe Beatles, The Japan Box (Apple/UMe)

Stereo remasters, mono remasters, U.S. albums…and now, the first five albums from Japan on CD! What will they think of next? (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Herbie Hancock - WB YearsHerbie Hancock, The Warner Bros. Years: 1969-1972 (Rhino)

UPDATE: This title has been delayed to August 5.  Three Warner Bros. albums (released before Herbie prolifically joined Columbia), each expanded with rare and unreleased promo single versions. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lost Time in a BottleJim Croce, Lost Time in a Bottle (Cleopatra)

A compilation of rare and unreleased demos and live performances from the celebrated singer, including two sets from 1964 and 1973. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Power and the GloryGentle Giant, The Power and the Glory (Alucard)

Steven Wilson remixes Gentle Giant’s 1974 album in stereo and 5.1 on a variety of formats!

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
DVD-Audio/CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Blu-ray Audio/CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Roslyn KindRoslyn Kind, Give Me You/This is Roslyn Kind (Masterworks Broadway)

Masterworks brings together the 1969 and 1968 RCA albums from Barbra Streisand’s talented half-sister, Roslyn Kind, on one CD-R or DD – including songs by Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and more!

Steve Lawrence Walking ProudSteve Lawrence with Eydie Gorme, Walking Proud: The Teen Pop Sides 1959-1966 (Teensville/Rare Rockin’ Records)

The Australian Teensville label compiles 33 sides from Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, individually and collectively, concentrating on the Brill Building-style pop songs they recorded for the ABC-Paramount, United Artists and Columbia labels! (Amazon U.S.)

Rio VINYLDuran Duran, Rio (Expanded Vinyl) (Parlophone)

This 180-gram, 2LP version of the classic New Wave album (possibly available when the album was expanded in 2009) features the original U.K. album master of Rio with a bonus 12″ featuring five remixes by David Kershenbaum for the original U.S. pressing. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

July 22, 2014 at 07:59

Smashing Pumpkins Give Fans Something to “Adore”

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Adore boxThe next installment in The Smashing Pumpkins’ ongoing catalogue campaign has been announced – and in traditional Smashing Pumpkins fashion, it’s accompanied by a typically Billy Corgan moment.

Released in 1998, the follow-up to the band’s acclaimed double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Adore found the Pumpkins enduring some structural and personal changes: drummer Jimmy Chamberlain was out, and frontman Corgan endured a divorce, the death of his mother, and a shift in musical direction. Gone were the distorted, alt-rock staple guitars, replaced instead with folk-inspired, electronic-based songs. Despite critical high marks and modern rock hits in “Ava Adore” and “Perfect,” Adore was disliked by some fans, and Corgan’s responses toward that backlash didn’t make him many friends.

So now the time has come for Adore to be rediscovered, as a seven-disc box set featuring the album in stereo (and mono, as heard on the original vinyl release), four discs of outtakes and live material plus a DVD from a stop on the band’s An Evening with The Smashing Pumpkins, which found the band playing mostly new material in unusual venues for charity. The announcement was not without its controversy, as seen in Corgan’s online missive criticizing Amazon for leaking the track list before the box was officially announced.

After the jump, you’ll find that track list, as well as a link for just the full box set thus far (additional formats will be expected over time). It’s due out September 23.

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 21, 2014 at 13:56

From Muscle Shoals to Music City, Ace Mines Lost R&B Gold On New Collections

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Complete Fame SinglesAce Records continues to mine the rich legacy of American R&B with recent releases dedicated to a trio of the finest independent labels in soul music: Fame, Music City, and Doré.

Late in 2011, Ace curated the definitive chronicle of Rick Hall’s Fame Studios with The Fame Studios Story, a 3-CD box set including performances recorded at the storied Muscle Shoals, Alabama studio by artists including Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding, Irma Thomas and Aretha Franklin. The label has also expanded the Fame story with Hall of Fame volumes of previously unissued material and single-artist compilations dedicated to the likes of Clarence Carter, George Jackson, James Govan and Dan Penn. A new 2-CD set has just launched a three-volume series of The Complete Fame Singles.

This initial volume covers the period between 1964 and 1967 over 52 chronologically-sequenced A- and B-sides in original mono. Rick Hall opened Fame Studios in 1961, scoring a quick hit with Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” on the Dot label. In the early years, Hall issued records on the Fame and R and H labels, licensing out other Fame-recorded masters to larger national labels. But when Hall couldn’t find a buyer for the pivotal slice of southern soul “Steal Away” by Jimmy Hughes, he started a full-fledged record label of his own. That 1964 single, Fame catalogue number 6401, kicks off The Complete Fame Singles. Hall’s gamble paid off when “Steal Away” was picked up by Vee-Jay; that label, in turn, then agreed to distribute the new Fame label’s releases. Distribution was later famously picked up by Atlantic Records’ Atco division.

These two discs trace not just the development of the Muscle Shoals sound, but of the songwriting team of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham; individually or collectively, Penn and Oldham are responsible for 22 songs here. A full eleven of these 45s were recorded by Fame’s first star Jimmy Hughes, whose complete Fame singles output is included here. Other tracks come from Penn solo, Oldham as Spooner and The Spoons, Arthur Conley, and Clarence Carter, whose commercial breakthrough will arrive on the next volume of the series. Though most of the tracks fit in the smoldering southern soul bag, there are unexpected treats like the pop-rock of future Motown producer Terry Woodford, or Florida band The Villagers. The latter’s 1966 single encompassed Roy Whitley’s “Laugh It Off” backed with a cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.”

Co-producers Dean Rudland and Tony Rounce’s comprehensive track-by-track liner notes in the generously-illustrated color booklet fill in the details on both the artists and the history of Fame. Nick Robbins has remastered all of the tracks.

After the jump: travel to California with Music City and Doré Records! Plus: track listings and order links for all three titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 21, 2014 at 12:28

Posted in Compilations, News

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