The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘Reissues’ Category

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

leave a comment »

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

Tagged with

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

with 2 comments

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

with 11 comments

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

with one comment

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

leave a comment »

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”

leave a comment »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 21, 2014 at 13:56

Masterworks Goes “On the Town” With Roslyn Kind’s RCA Albums, Bernstein Musical’s London Cast

with 4 comments

Roslyn Kind - Give Me You Two-FerMasterworks Broadway has announced the balance of its summer slate of CD-Rs/DD reissues from the Sony Music archives with both releases making their debut in the digital domain.  Next week, the label will reissue for the very first time both RCA albums by vocalist and cabaret star Roslyn Kind – not only a talented artist in her own right but also the half-sister of one Barbra Streisand.  Then, on August 19, Masterworks will bring to CD-R and DD the original 1963 London Cast Recording of Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s On the Town, just in time for its Broadway revival this fall.

Masterworks describes the unusual circumstances behind Roslyn Kind’s 1968 debut album Give Me You: “On a late spring morning in 1968, seventeen-year-old Roslyn Kind graduated from high school in Brooklyn and immediately began a new job later the same day.  ‘I graduated to ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ in the morning,’ she recalls, ‘and that evening I was in RCA Studio B, down around 23rd Street in Manhattan, making my first recording.’  The young singer remained at RCA for two albums and a handful of singles, and now both of those albums will be available once more.

Give Me You, primarily helmed by composer and arranger Lee Holdridge, featured Kind wrapping her expressive, big pipes around an array of contemporary songs beginning with the title track by the Broadway team of Larry Grossman and Hal Hackady (Play It Again, Sam, Minnie’s Boys, Goodtime Charley) and continuing with material from Jimmy Webb (the Bacharach-esque “If You Must Leave My Life”), John Lennon and Paul McCartney (“The Fool on the Hill”), future Holdridge collaborator Neil Diamond (“A Modern-Day Version of Love”), Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (“The Shape of Things to Come”) and Holdridge himself (“Who Am I?”).

Following this auspicious debut, Kind returned to RCA’s studios for 1969’s This is Roslyn Kind.  She returned to the Mann and Weil songbook with “Make Your Own Kind of Music” (which Barbra Streisand would later perform) and also surveyed tunes by the likes of The Association’s Larry Ramos (“It’s Gotta Be Real”) and Harry Nilsson (“I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City”).  Roslyn remained on RCA for a 1970 single with “Foresight” from the musical Gantry backed with Grossman and Hackady’s “Rich Is” from Minnie’s Boys, and eventually moved on to Streisand’s label, Columbia, where she recorded songs by Paul Williams and Peter Allen, among others.  She’s appeared on Saturday Night Live and The Nanny, headlined at The Plaza’s Persian Room, and returned in 1994 with another full-length LP.  Today, Kind is a draw in concert, most recently performing a hot-ticket engagement at New York’s 54 Below nightspot.

Give Me You/This is Roslyn Kind will be released exclusively for purchase via MasterworksBroadway.com on July 22 as MOD CD-Rs, as well as for digital download.  The CD-Rs will be available through Arkiv Music on August 19, plus streaming and downloads via digital service providers the same day. After the jump: details on On the Town, plus full track listings for both titles and more!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 17, 2014 at 13:48

The Allman Brothers Band’s “Fillmore East” Goes Super Deluxe In New Box Set

with 12 comments

Allman Brothers - Fillmore Box

2014 has been a year of upheaval for The Allman Brothers Band.  Following word that Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks would be departing the venerable group at year’s end, Gregg Allman confirmed that he, too, would stop touring after 2014 – effectively ending the band that bears his name.  Despite his claims that “this is the end of it,” Allman has left the door open to reunions down the road. “Who’s to say?,” he pondered in the pages of Relix.  “We may get together every five years and just do one play at a time.”  In the meantime, there could hardly be a better time to celebrate not the end, but the beginning, of The Allman Brothers Band’s live legacy.  On July 29, Universal will release The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings, a 6-CD or 3-BD complete sets  or 4-LP highlights set expanding the band’s first, landmark live album.

The original At Fillmore East – the 1971 album that was the group’s third release overall – was recorded during the band’s three-night stand in March ’71 at Bill Graham’s sadly-departed New York rock palace.  The double-LP set introduced those who hadn’t seen the band live to its epic improvisational abilities, featuring just seven songs on four sides of vinyl.  Producer Tom Dowd captured Gregg Allman, Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Jai Johanny Johanson and Butch Trucks on a set of originals and covers including Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” T Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday,” Gregg’s “Whipping Post” and Betts’ “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”  Two more tracks from the March Fillmore gigs premiered on Eat a Peach, the 1972 studio-live hybrid album released by the band in the wake of Duane Allman’s tragic October 1971 death.

These thunderous blues-rock jam sessions have been revisited on numerous past releases.  The Duane Allman Anthology volumes unearthed tracks, as did the 1975 compilation The Road Goes On Forever (itself expanded on CD in 2001) and 1989’s Dreams box set.  1992’s The Fillmore Concerts combined tracks from the original At Fillmore East and Eat a Peach with one track from a June Fillmore performance, remixed and re-edited by Tom Dowd.  2003’s Deluxe Edition of At Fillmore East added six previously issued tracks from both the March and June stands – including “Drunken-Hearted Boy” performed with support act Elvin Bishop – to recreate a complete concert experience.  More previously unheard material from June premiered on the 2006 Deluxe Edition of Eat a Peach.

What’s on the new box set?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 16, 2014 at 10:32

Soundtrack? Yes, I Know: La-La Land Preps “Naked Gun” Reissue

with 4 comments

Naked GunYou’ve read the ad, you’ve seen the movies – now for the first time, La-La Land Records will release the complete scores to all three of the hilarious films in The Naked Gun trilogy, as composed by Ira Newborn.

Detective Lieutenant Frank Drebin of Police Squad made a small but dedicated group of people laugh in Police Squad, the short-lived (six brilliant episodes!) ABC television series created by Airplane! masterminds Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrams and David Zucker. Leslie Nielsen’s unflappable member of the force would be resurrected by ZAZ and Paramount in 1988 with the film The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! The combination of accessible slapstick and rapid-fire wordplay, plus great performances by Priscilla Presley, Ricardo Montalbán, George Kennedy and O.J. Simpson, made the film considerably more successful than the show from which it came, and two sequels followed in 1991 and 1994.

Ira Newborn, musical director for The Blues Brothers and composer for several John Hughes productions (Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), had made a splash on the original Police Squad with his brassy, throwback theme song, and was called to reprise his work on each subsequent film, which packed memorable themes alongside humorous cues, snazzy source music and even a few popular tunes used for great effect: Peter Noone re-recorded Herman’s Hermits “I’m Into Something Good” for the first film, Nielsen sings to varying effect on the first two films (“The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Besame Mucho”) and Pia Zadora covered Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something” for the third film.

Varese Sarabande released a compilation featuring music from the first two films in 1992, but this triple-disc set features just about all of the three scores, including the premiere of any music from The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, all beautifully restored (check out this amazing in-depth article about said restoration). Limited to 2,000 copies, there’s a 50/50 chance that it might still be available by the time you click the link after the jump. But there’s only a 10 percent chance of that.

(Special thanks to Charlie Brigden of Films on Wax for the headline inspiration!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 15, 2014 at 15:04

Oh! Oh! Here He Comes: Herbie Hancock’s “Warner Bros. Years” Revisited On Expanded New Set

with 2 comments

Herbie Hancock - WB YearsHerbie Hancock began his career as a leader with the appropriately-titled 1962 release Takin’ Off on the Blue Note label.  Supported by Dexter Gordon on tenor saxophone, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Butch Warren on bass and Billy Higgins on drums, it was – and is – an electrifying debut for the pianist.  Though rooted firmly in the hard bop idiom, Takin’ Off spawned a pop hit with “Watermelon Man,” first in Hancock’s Top 100 rendition and then in Mongo Santamaria’s Top 10 version.  Hancock remained at Blue Note for seven albums, through 1969, collaborating with legends like Hubert Laws, Willie Bobo, Paul Chambers, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd, and his partners in Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet, Tony Williams and Ron Carter.  Hancock departed Blue Note for the Warner Bros. label, where he remained for three albums and roughly three years.  That oft-overlooked period of Hancock’s career will be newly anthologized on July 22 with the release of the 3-CD set The Warner Bros. Years: 1969-1972.

By the end of his Blue Note tenure, Hancock had carved out a post-bop niche, pushing the envelope of melody and improvisation and incorporating textures derived from his groundbreaking work with Davis’ group as well as from rock and soul.  He made his Warner Bros. debut with the December 1969 release Fat Albert Rotunda.  Much of the album’s music derived from Hancock’s compositions for Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert, the NBC primetime special that introduced Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert alter ego.  Fat Albert Rotunda was a leap forward from Hancock’s Blue Note work, emphasizing soul rather than pure jazz and looking forward to his future groundbreaking jazz-funk period.  For the LP, songwriter-leader-producer Hancock was joined by personnel including Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone and alto flute, Johnny Coles on trumpet and flugelhorn, Garnett Brown on trombone, Buster Williams on bass, and Albert Heath on drums, as well as some originally-uncredited players including Joe Farrell (tenor sax), Eric Gale (guitar), Joe Newman (trumpet), and Bernard Purdie (drums).

Mwandishi, released in early 1970 under the aegis of producer David Rubinson, featured just three lengthy compositions.  It was his most pronounced jazz-rock fusion album yet, and he took the Swahili name “Mwandishi” for its recording.  Hancock on the Fender Rhodes electric piano was joined by Buster Williams on bass, Billy Hart on drums, Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Bennie Maupin on woodwinds and Julian Priester on trombone, all of whom also adopted Swahili names for this spacey effort.  Rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose of the band Montrose even contributed guitar.  Two of its tracks were composed by Hancock, with the third – the almost 22-minute long “Wandering Spirit” on Side Two – written by Priester.  Employing proto-funk and free-form jazz, Mwandishi felt like a logical extension of Hancock’s work with Davis.

Herbie Hancock’s final Warner Bros. album proved to be 1972’s Crossings, which pushed his exploration of fusion and electronic textures even further into the realm of the avant garde.  He played piano, electric piano, mellotron and percussion on the challenging LP, with Patrick Gleeson on the Moog synthesizer.  A quintet of singers rounded out the line-up, with David Rubinson again producing.  The personnel of Mwandishi returned for another three long tracks, including the nearly 25-minute five-part suite “Sleeping Giant” which occupied the first side of the original vinyl.

After the jump: what extra material will you find on this new collection? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 15, 2014 at 12:44

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,946 other followers