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Calling “Gloria”: Laura Branigan’s Debut Album Gets Expanded Reissue

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Laura Branigan - Branigan“What kind of an artist are you?”

The question has been asked again and again in this age of music reality shows in which a fickle public can make a recording star – at least for fifteen minutes – by dialing an 800 number or sending a text message. Truth to tell, Laura Branigan could have been any kind of artist she desired. Armed with a powerful, resonant and highly individual voice, Branigan worked her way up the ranks of stardom.  She ultimately chose to embrace the sounds of contemporary pop, forever to be associated with the big, sleek sound of the 1980s. But if the late artist will inevitably be remembered for “Gloria” or “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You,” her body of work reveals a multi-faceted vocalist whose alto was excitingly adaptable. The first phase of Branigan’s all-too-short career gets its most comprehensive exploration yet thanks to Other Half Entertainment and Gold Legion’s expanded CD reissue of her debut album for Atlantic Records, 1982’s Branigan. This loving reminder of Branigan’s dynamic talent adds seven delicious bonuses – six of which predate the album itself.

German producer Jack White and his co-producer/arranger Greg Mathieson were enlisted by Atlantic to shape Branigan’s debut platter after a number of singles failed to establish the singular vocalist in the pop mainstream. (More on those later!) With an A-list band including Toto’s Steve Lukather on guitar, Leland Sklar and Bob Glaub on bass, Carlos Vega on drums and Michael Boddicker on synthesizers, plus Maxine and Julia Waters on background vocals, Atlantic wasn’t taking any chances. White was determined to showcase many facets of Branigan’s burnished voice, alternating ballads with rockers and perhaps most key, dance-oriented floor-fillers.

Branigan begins modestly enough. Opening cut (and the album’s leadoff single) “All Night with Me,” written by future Walt Disney Music President Chris Montan, is an adult contemporary mid-tempo ballad placing Branigan’s warm voice out front. She embellishes the soft verses with vulnerability and the hook-laden chorus with sweetly seductive confidence, but the smooth composition serves as mere prelude.  Though it came second on the album, Umberto Tozzi, Giancarlo Bigazzi and Trevor Veitch’s “Gloria” is second to none in the Branigan songbook. The track exploded onto the turntable with a torrent of urgency; its fiery, anthemic arrangement by Greg Mathieson (who arranged the original Italian version of the song) with its commanding power chords was matched by Branigan’s furious vocal. If the singer kept her cards close to the vest on “All Night with Me,” she unleashed her inner tigress four minutes into Branigan on “Gloria.” Branigan’s plea to the titular lady to “slow down before you start to blow it” was delivered as if the lives of both the singer and the subject of her admonishment were on the line. The Americanized “Gloria,” with Veitch’s new lyrics, couldn’t miss. It proved to be a supremely fierce performance wrapped in an irresistibly catchy package for the post-disco generation of dancefloor dwellers. It took Branigan to the top of the Cash Box chart and No. 2 on Billboard.

Following “Gloria” would be no easy feat on any album, so White and Mathieson provided Branigan with a move away from dance and towards rock. Adrian John Loveridge and John Wonderling’s melodramatic “Lovin’ You Baby” burns with requisite passion and desperation (“How could I live? Where would I go and what would I give? What can I say? How do I stand…if there’s no more lovin’ you, baby?”). It wasn’t the only rock-oriented track on the nine-song album.  Dive in – after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 30, 2014 at 13:37

Posted in Laura Branigan, News, Reissues, Reviews

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The American Metaphysical Circus: Esoteric Label Mines Art Rock From The USA, John Cale

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United States of AmericaUnder the auspices of its new president, Clive Davis, Columbia Records aggressively courted the rock revolution in the late 1960s. The classy home to Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams built upon its successes with Paul Revere and the Raiders, Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan to tap into the youth market with a wide variety of rock artists. Two outré albums from the venerable Columbia catalogue have recently been reissued by Cherry Red’s Esoteric Recordings imprint, and they both live up to the label’s name.

The United States of America only released one album in its short career. The self-titled 1968 LP for Columbia’s classical Masterworks division was unusual even for the heady, excitingly adventurous times and a true example of “alternative” rock! The six-person band consisting of Joseph Byrd (electronic music/electric harpsichord/organ/calliope/piano), Dorothy Moskowitz (lead vocals), Gordon Marron (electric violin/ring modulator), Rand Forbes (electric bass), Craig Woodson (electric drums/percussion) and Ed Bogas (“occasional” organ/piano/calliope) defiantly rejected the conventions of the young rock scene. With no guitar player, the band’s sound was heavily electronic and unabashedly avant-garde. Byrd was a student of avant-garde hero John Cage and a member of the Fluxus “anti-art” art movement. Despite these credentials, he became interested in the power of pop and rock with young people. Through an association with Masterworks head, producer John McClure, Byrd and co. were signed to Columbia in the hopes of earning their underground sound a wider audience.

Byrd and the band dubbed The United States of America blended San Francisco-style acid rock with dense soundscapes and experimentation achieved by electronically altering the sound of conventional instrumentation. The self-titled The United States of America was uncompromising and unlike any other release on the pop-rock scene. Produced by David Rubinson – who would go on to collaborate with Herbie Hancock, The Pointer Sisters and Phoebe Snow – it melded compositional and musical sophistication with utter primitivism. Its tracks formed a song cycle about American life, with sharply satirical, often absurdist lyrical observations and no concessions to a commercial sensibility. Columbia marketed the album with an ad reading, “There’s a United States of America that’s a far cry from Mom, Apple Pie and The Flag,” but it was never destined for mainstream success.

After the jump: more on The United States of America, plus a lost album from John Cale and Terry Riley – and order links, track listings, etc.! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 30, 2014 at 10:19

Rhino Gets The Led Out, Wave Two: “Led Zeppelin IV” and “Houses of the Holy” Arrive in October

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Led Zeppelin - IV Box

It may be the dog days of summer, but that hasn’t stopped Led Zeppelin from adding a little more heat.  Following yesterday’s news of the next two reissues in Paul McCartney’s Archive Collection series, the legendary blues-rock band has announced the two next installments in its own definitive reissue program.  On October 28, Rhino/Atlantic – in conjunction with Zeppelin’s Swan Song label – will release Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy in a variety of CD, vinyl and digital formats.

The album referred to as Led Zeppelin IV arrived in late 1971, bearing no album title or even the band’s name on its cover.  Not that anybody was confused; with songs like “Stairway to Heaven,” “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll” and “Going to California,” sales soared.  Though it peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, it’s currently the second-best selling album ever in the U.S., nestled between Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  How to top that?  Houses of the Holy, consisting of all original material, arrived in spring 1973, and moved the band even further away from its blues-based brand of hard rock.  Its layered production and intricate compositions of “The Rain Song,” “The Song Remains the Same” and the reggae-based “D’yer Mak’er” a chart-topping album on both sides of the Atlantic.

Both albums will be available in the style of the recent Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III reissues, in the following formats:

  • Standard CD – Remastered album packaged in a gatefold card wallet.
  • 2-CD Deluxe Edition (2CD) – Remastered album plus previously unreleased companion audio disc.
  • Standard LP – Remastered album on 180-gram vinyl, packaged in a replica sleeve of the album’s first pressing.
  • Deluxe Edition Vinyl (2LP) – Remastered album and previously unreleased companion audio pressed on 180-gram vinyl.
  • Digital Download – Remastered album and companion audio will both be available.
  • Super Deluxe Box Set featuring the remastered original album and companion audio on both CD and 180-gram vinyl, plus a high-resolution digital download card for all content, housed in a hardbound 80-page book with a high-quality print of the album cover (the first 30,000 of which are individually numbered) also included.

After the jump, we have more information including the complete track listings and pre-order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 29, 2014 at 12:13

Release Round-Up: Week of July 29

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Allman Brothers - Fillmore BoxThe Allman Brothers Band, The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings (Mercury/UMe)

The four shows in March 1971 that made up the band’s legendary breakthrough album are presented in full for the first time, along with the group’s closing set at the Fillmore East that following June. The Blu-ray version features the material in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound.

6CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3-BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
4LP Highlights: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Dream Academy - Morning LastedPeggy Lipton, The Complete Ode Recordings / Gene Rains, Far Away Lands — The Exotic Music of Gene Rains /How to Stuff a Wild Bikini: Original Stereo Soundtrack / Cass Elliot, Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore Plus Rarities – Her Final Recordings / Dee Dee Warwick, The Complete Atco Recordings / The Shirelles, Happy and in Love/Shirelles / The Dream AcademyThe Morning Lasted All Day — A Retrospective (Real Gone Music)

This diverse Real Gone set includes a compilation from underrated ’80s synthpop group The Dream Academy and recordings from Peggy Lipton, star of The Mod Squad; she covers the songs of Carole King, Laura Nyro, Brian Wilson and Tony Asher, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Jimmy Webb on this release, which has liner notes from our own Joe Marchese!

Peggy Lipton: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Gene Rains: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Wild BikiniAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Cass Elliot: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Dee Dee Warwick: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Shirelles: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Dream Academy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Deep Purple Mark 1Deep Purple, Hard Road: The Mark 1 Studio Recordings 1968-1969 (Parlophone U.K.)

Deep Purple’s first three albums get the box set treatment with bonus tracks and stereo and mono mixes of the first two albums. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

Get On UpJames Brown, Get on Up: The James Brown Story – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Polydor/UMe)

In honor of the new film opening this week, Universal’s got a new JB compilation, naturally featuring a pair of unreleased live tracks from 1966. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The BreezeEric Clapton and Friends, The Breeze (An Appreciation of J.J. Cale) (Bushbranch/Surfdog)

The legendary bluesman and some famous friends (Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer) pay tribute to the late blues singer-songwriter on this new album.

Standard Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Box Set: Surfdog Records
4LP: Surfdog Records

LC CookeL.C. Cooke, The Complete SAR Records Recordings (ABKCO)

This anthology collects the complete recordings of L.C. Cooke for his older brother Sam’s SAR Records label, including one complete shelved album produced and largely written by Sam, plus alternate takes, unreleased tracks, session chatter and bonus recordings from the Checker and Destination labels!  Musicians include Bobby and Cecil Womack, Billy Preston and “Pink Panther” saxophonist Plas Johnson! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

I Hope We Get to Love in TimeSilver Convention, Get Up and Boogie: Expanded Edition / Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., I Hope We Get to Love in Time: Expanded Edition / Phyllis Nelson, Move Closer (Big Break Records)

Big Break has three more R&B classics arriving on CD this week  including the first post-5th Dimension album from Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. featuring their smash “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show).”

Silver Convention: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Marilyn & Billy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Phyllis Nelson: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Super ChiefVan Dyke Parks, Super Chief (Yep Roc)

Yep Roc reissues Van Dyke Parks’ 2013 “orchestral fantasy” on standalone CD (previously only available as part of a Record Store Day vinyl package) for the first time! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

GOTG SoundtrackVarious Artists, Guardians of the Galaxy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (Hollywood Records)

Here’s the only collection approved for listening by The Star Lord! This indeed-awesome all-catalogue mix includes vintage cuts from The Jackson 5, The Raspberries, David Bowie, The Runaways, Blue Swede, Rupert Holmes and more – all but one of which (Norman Greenbaum’s immortal “Spirit in the Sky”) play key roles in the Marvel blockbuster-to-be! Also available as part of a 2CD or 2LP deluxe edition also including the film’s orchestral score by Tyler Bates!

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Essential NSYNC*NSYNC, The Essential *NSYNC (Jive/Legacy)

This two-disc set from the late ’90s/early ’00s boy band lives up to its name for fans, featuring all the great hits (“Bye Bye Bye,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “Pop”) plus a myriad of rarities from compilations, soundtracks and international pressings. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ghostbusters_SoundtrackVarious Artists, Ghostbusters: Original Soundtrack Album (Arista/Legacy)

A sequel of sorts to the Record Store Day single co-produced by our own Mike Duquette, this is a straight reissue of the original soundtrack, newly remastered for vinyl. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Listen To What The Man Said: Paul McCartney Announces “Venus and Mars,” “Wings at the Speed of Sound” Archive Sets

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Venus and Mars Box Set

BREAKING NEWS!

Eagle-eyed readers might have noticed links that appeared on Amazon this morning for the rumored upcoming Paul McCartney Archive Collection editions of d Wings’ 1975 and 1976 albums Venus and Mars and At the Speed of Sound, respectively.  Well, the rumor is now a fact, as Concord Music Group’s Hear Music label and McCartney’s MPL have confirmed the September 23 arrival in the U.S. of both titles.

True to form, both albums will be available in a plethora of formats including 2-disc standard editions, 3-disc (2-CD/1-DVD) hardbound book editions, gatefold vinyl and digital, each with a disc of rare and previously unreleased bonus material.

Venus and Mars, released in May 1975, had the unenviable task of following the phenomenally successful Band on the Run.  Though Band had been recorded by the slim, three-person line-up of Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine, Macca made the decision to bolster the group with the addition of Jimmy McCulloch on guitar and Geoff Britton on drums.  Before settling on Allen Toussaint’s Sea-Saint Studios as the recording venue of choice, Wings entered Abbey Road where early versions of three songs were cut for the new album.  After just six months in Wings, however, Britton departed the band, and American drummer Joe English completed the sessions for Venus and Mars.  Toussaint, Dave Mason and Tom Scott all guest-starred on the album which delivered on its promise of a true “Rock Show.”  If McCartney, indeed, had worried about building on the success of Band on the Run, he needn’t have.  Venus and Mars spawned a No. 1 single – the rollicking “Listen to What the Man Said” – and went to the top spot on both the U.S. and U.K. album charts. It also provided a platform for Wings to launch the Wings Over the World tour – which, of course, included the Wings Over America leg and album.

Between the Australian and European legs of Wings Over the World, McCartney and Wings entered Abbey Road to record the album that would become Wings at the Speed of Sound.  It was Macca’s first album wholly recorded in the U.K. since 1973’s Red Rose Speedway (still awaiting a deluxe Archive Collection reissue) and featured a number of lead vocals from singers other than Paul – Denny on “The Note You Never Wrote” and “Time to Hide,” Jimmy on “Wino Junko,” Linda on “Cook of the House,” and Joe on “Must Do Something About It.”  Of course, it was two songs sung by Paul that catapulted the album to another smash success: the endearing, childlike “Let ‘Em In” (No. 2 U.K./No. 3 U.S./No. 1 U.S. Easy Listening) and the unapologetically buoyant “Silly Love Songs” (No. 1 U.S./No. 1 U.S. Easy Listening).  The latter was a record-breaking 27th No. 1 for Paul the songwriter.  Released in March 1976, Speed of Sound went to No. 2 in the U.K. and the top spot in the U.S. for seven non-consecutive, becoming McCartney’s most successful album ever in America and setting the stage for the Wings Over America tour to take flight that May.

After the jump, we have more details courtesy the complete press release, plus pre-order links, the full track listings, and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 28, 2014 at 13:03

Real Gone Is “In Tune” With September Slate Featuring Grateful Dead, Ides of March, Willie Hutch, More

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Real Gone - September 2014

September 1 marks Labor Day, but Real Gone Music isn’t taking much time off! The very next day, the label launches a new crop of eight titles emphasizing soul, funk and R&B but also encompassing country, classic rock and a touch of prog!

At Motown, Willie Hutch gifted The Jackson 5 with his song “I’ll Be There,” saw his songs recorded by the label’s elite including Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye, and penned funky soundtracks including The Mack. In 1977, he departed Berry Gordy’s empire for Whitfield Records, headed (of course) by Motown expatriate Norman Whitfield. Hutch’s two Whitfield albums In Tune and Midnight Dancer are arriving on U.S. CD for the first time anywhere. Hutch is joined by R&B great Esther Phillips on the Real Gone roster, as the label has a reissue of Phillips’ 1973 CTI/Kudu platter Alone Again Naturally. The former Little Esther tears into not only Gilbert O’Sullivan’s title track but gives her all to the likes of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” and Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s “Do Right Man, Do Right Woman,” popularized by Aretha Franklin. Real Gone’s edition is based upon the out-of-print edition by Reel Music including its two live bonus tracks and A. Scott Galloway’s essay. Alone Again has resulted from the partnership of Real Gone and SoulMusic Records; the labels’ affiliation is also yielding two rare albums by the soulful Ullanda McCullough for the Atlantic label on one CD, including a set written and produced for the singer by Ashford and Simpson!

Not in an R&B mood? Real Gone has country fans covered with the first-ever compendium of the chart hits of Ray Griff, the country singer-songwriter known to his fans as The Entertainer! Griff’s The Entertainer – Greatest U.S. and Canadian Hits collects 24 tracks from seven (yes, seven) record labels spanning the period of 1967-1986!

If classic rock is your bag, you might want to hop a ride on an expanded edition of Vehicle from the other Chicago horn band, The Ides of March! This reissue adds four bonus singles and new liner notes by Richie Unterberger (including new quotes from Ides of March/Survivor man Jim Peterik) to the original 1970 album and celebrates the band’s 50th anniversary. You might say “Yes!” to Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record, recorded shortly after the keyboard great rejoined Yes for the Going for the One album in 1977. Last but not least, Real Gone returns to Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks series for a key 1969 show on the band’s home turf at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium!

Hit the jump for Real Gone’s press release with more details on all eight titles, plus pre-order links! All releases are due from the label on September 2. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 28, 2014 at 10:08

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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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

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!

Read the rest of this entry »

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

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