Archive for the ‘Reissues’ Category
Holiday Gift Guide Review: A Real Gone Christmas With Andy Williams, Patti Page and The New Christy Minstrels
When Andy Williams passed away on September 25, 2012 at the age of 84, the loss was keenly felt by anyone who had ever played the “red album” and the “green album” during the holiday season. The Andy Williams Christmas Album (1963) and Merry Christmas (1965) were the best-selling Columbia LPs that led Williams to embody the title of “Mr. Christmas.” His rich, warm and resonant tenor was ideally suited to holiday music of both the secular and spiritual traditions, and his association with the holiday lasted for his entire life, through albums, television appearances and stage performances. Real Gone has just delivered the ultimate celebration of Williams’ Christmas perennials with the 2-CD set The Complete Christmas Recordings (RGM-0197).
This collection includes the entirety of those two aforementioned albums plus 1974’s long out-of-print Christmas Present LP and a clutch of five rare bonus tracks (two of which are making their first ever appearance here). The Andy Williams Christmas Album (the “red album”), produced and arranged by Robert Mersey, was divided into a secular side and a religious side, but the treatments of the songs were surprisingly adventurous. On the former side, Williams’ association with the legendary arranger and nightclub singer Kay Thompson led to the inclusion of her own version of “Jingle Bells” plus a swingin’ medley of Thompson’s “The Holiday Season” with Irving Berlin’s “Happy Holiday.” The familiar “Twelve Days of Christmas” was also turned on its ear as “A Song and a Christmas Tree.” On the latter side, Williams’ pure, crystalline tone was at its most pristine on “Silent Night” and “The First Noel.” But The Andy Williams Christmas Album’s most lasting contribution to pop culture was the introduction of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” the Edward Pola/George Wyle song that may still today be the single most exuberant track ever to celebrate the holiday season. It also became a theme song for Williams perhaps second only to Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s “Moon River.”
Naturally, a follow-up album was planned. 1965’s Merry Christmas followed the template of its predecessor, with Williams and Mersey applying their combined talents to another group of songs from across the holiday spectrum. The same “Side One – Tin Pan Alley, Side Two – Church” format was also adhered to, except Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “Silver Bells” crept onto the second side! No matter, though. “Silver Bells” was just one of the beautifully-sung songs here. A moody arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” made for one of the song’s finest recordings; the exciting treatment of “Sleigh Ride” featured Williams deftly navigating a staggering number of key changes. Williams and arranger Bob Florence (subbing for Mersey on just one track) made magic from “Christmas Holiday,” Craig Smith’s otherwise-unknown seasonal tune with an adventurous melody and jubilant lyrics. Christmas Album and Merry Christmas are included in their entirety here, but both albums have been wholly resequenced for this compilation.
Following Merry Christmas, Williams didn’t return to the holiday songbook at Columbia until 1975. That was the year he issued Christmas Present, the most atypical of his three Christmas sets for the label. It also may be Williams’ most personal. The opening title track, a pleasant slice of mid-seventies MOR, cedes to a frequently-solemn, ravishingly-sung collection of hymns and spiritual music including “Joy to the World,” “What Child is This?,” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and both the Schubert and Gounod settings of “Ave Maria.” Williams’ voice never sounded more natural or more direct in its power, even if the joyous, celebratory feel of the previous two albums was altogether absent. Christmas Present is a passionate set worth a second look, and Real Gone’s Complete Christmas Recordings marks its return to CD after roughly two decades. It’s presented in its original running order.
After the jump: more on Andy, plus Patti Page and The New Christy Minstrels! Read the rest of this entry »
We’re giving away some majestic power-pop from Jellyfish, available only on Omnivore Recordings, for our Second Day of Second Discmas! Click the link above and see what’s inside!
Happily for fans, Omnivore Recordings has willfully ignored the unwritten rule that reissue labels wind down for a bit toward the end of the calendar year. They’ve just announced the latest catalogue projects of what is already shaping up to be a busy 2014, with rare and unreleased recordings due from Paisley Underground group The Dream Syndicate, country-rockers Lone Justice and legendary ex-Hüsker Dü member Bob Mould.
Omnivore announced yesterday the expansion of Workbook, Mould’s 1989 solo debut, as a 2CD or 2LP set. Released a year after the Minnesota punk band’s acrimonious split, the album saw Mould exploring intensely personal and furiously proficient songcraft (critics and fans have called Mould’s guitar playing on Workbook some of his best), more than a little removed from the noisy power-pop bliss of his follow-up band Sugar. The two-disc Workbook 25 features the remastered album and non-LP B-side “All Those People Know” on one disc, and a mostly-unreleased live show from Chicago’s Cabaret Metro, just two weeks after the album’s original release. (Mould will also embark on seven tour dates to commemorate the album, commencing with a special set at San Francisco’s Noise Pop Festival in February.) A double-vinyl version will add “All Those People Know,” as well.
Mere weeks before The Dream Syndicate convened in the studio to record their full-length debut, The Days of Wine and Roses, they took to a studio inside the offices of KPFK-FM in Los Angeles, playing a rapturous set of new and old originals (from their self-titled EP released earlier that year) and covers of Donovan (“Season of the Witch”), Bob Dylan (“Outlaw Blues”) and Neil Young (“Mr. Soul”) to a receptive audience that included members of R.E.M. and The Bangles. First released nearly a decade after the band’s split, The Day Before Wine and Roses captures the live spirit of this seminal band – a spirit which audiences recently got to experience in California for a special set of reunion shows alongside fellow Paisley Underground bands The Three O’Clock, Rain Parade and The Bangles. This reissue features both new liner notes by band frontman Steve Wynn and vintage ones from producer Pat Thomas.
Finally, a spate of unreleased tracks by L.A. rockabilly/roots group The Lone Justice, will be released by Omnivore. Recorded two years before their debut LP for Geffen (which featured an all-star supporting cast including producer Jimmy Iovine, songs co-written by Tom Petty and Steven Van Zandt and session work by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ own Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench) with engineer David Vaught, the aptly-named This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes is a successful snapshot of the band’s raucous spirit as a then-primarily live act. In addition to its 12 tracks, nine of which are unreleased, the CD or red-vinyl LP package features a host of liner notes and essays, from guitarist Ryan Hedgecock and bassist Marvin Etzioni, Billboard‘s Chris Morris and even longtime fan Dolly Parton.
Expect This is Lone Justice on January 14, The Day Before Wine and Roses on February 4 and Workbook 25 on February 25. Hit the jump for full track listings for all of them!
Eric Clapton, Give Me Strength: The ’74/’75 Recordings (Polydor/UMe)
One of Clapton’s most prolific periods is revisited with this six-disc box, featuring expanded versions of 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974), There’s One in Every Crowd (1975), a remixed and expanded double-disc version of live album E.C. Was Here (1975), a disc of sessions at Criteria Studios with blues legend Freddie King and a Blu-Ray featuring new 5.1 surround and original quadrophonic mixes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Jellyfish, Radio Jellyfish (Omnivore)
Join the fan club! The power-pop cult legends took a stripped-down approach for a 1993 radio tour, and we now get to enjoy these performances for its first official release.
John Mellencamp, John Mellencamp 1978-2012 (Mercury/UMe)
All of Mellencamp’s official studio albums for Riva, Mercury, Columbia and Rounder – from 1979′s John Cougar to 2010′s No Better Than This - plus the out-of-print soundtrack to his 1992 acting and directorial debut, Falling from Grace. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat: 45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Polydor/UMe)
The VU’s second album gets the deluxe treatment as a triple-disc set, featuring the album in mono and stereo with 11 bonus tracks, plus a third disc recorded live at New York’s Gymnasium in 1967. (A double-disc version omits the mono disc.)
Neil Young, Live At The Cellar Door (Reprise)
A previously-unreleased disc culled from Young’s late-1970 run at the small Washington, D.C. club – the latest in his ongoing Archive Performance Series.
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Walt Disney Records)
The deluxe version of this new release – from a new Disney film telling the tale of how Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) brought P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson)’s classic children’s novels to the screen – contains never-before-released “pre-demos” from the original 1964 film! (In the U.K., those demos are available on a new double-disc reissue of the original Mary Poppins soundtrack.)
Various Artists, The Complete Motown Singles Volume 12B: 1972 (Hip-O Select/Motown)
Various Artists, Verve – The Sound of America: The Singles Collection (Verve/UMe)
When Herbert Buckingham “Tiny Tim” Khaury, 37, married Victoria May “Miss Vicki” Budinger, 17, on December 17, 1969 before Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon, The Rev. William Glenesk and a studio audience filled with 268 of the happy couple’s closest friends, roughly 40 million people were watching. It was a high point for Carson’s Tonight Show, and some 44 years later when TV Guide counted down television’s 60 Greatest Talk Show Moments, the wedding of Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki made the Top 15. Indeed, Tiny Tim fascinated the nation from his first appearance on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Introduced as “The Toast of Greenwich Village,” the 6’1” jacketed figure with the mane of long hair entered, pulled a ukulele out of a shopping bag, and proceeded to warble “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” and “On the Good Ship Lollipop” in perhaps the strangest falsetto ever. The audience roared at both Tim’s performance and co-host Dick Martin’s comically dumbfounded glare at his new discovery. A star – of a kind not seen before and not likely to be seen again – was born.
An early fan of this most peculiar man was Peter, Paul and Mary’s Peter Yarrow. He introduced Reprise Records’ legendary honcho Mo Ostin to Tim, and Ostin signed the former “Larry Love, The Singing Canary” to The House That Frank Built. Tiny Tim recorded three albums for Reprise, and now, his 1968 Top 10 debut LP God Bless Tiny Tim has just been reissued in a deluxe expanded mono edition from Now Sounds. The late singer-comedian-enigma died in 1996, aged 64, but his outsized personality and outré, time-displaced style live on here. Even those who own the 2006 Rhino Handmade stereo box set God Bless Tiny Tim: The Complete Reprise Studio Masters…and More will find much new to discover.
Dear friends, join us after the jump for more, won’t you?
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Bobby Darin, “The 25th Day of December” and Various Artists, “Funky Christmas”
Real Gone Music is ensuring that it’s going to be a merry Christmas, indeed, with a number of holiday-themed releases that practically beg to be enjoyed alongside a glass of egg nog and a warm fireplace.
Bobby Darin’s The 25th Day of December, the late singer’s only holiday LP, arrived on the Atco label in 1960. However, the album wasn’t the work of Bobby Darin, the splish-splashin’ rock-and-roller, or Bobby Darin, the finger-snapping, tuxedoed crooner. It’s not even the work of Bob Darin, the folk troubadour. Instead, it displays another side of the versatile Darin: a reverent, spiritual artist determined to avoid the traditional trappings and Tin Pan Alley Christmas songs that would likely have dominated his contemporaries’ holiday records in 1960.
On Real Gone’s first-ever CD release of the original stereo album mix, The 25th Day of December still retains the power to surprise and enthrall. It came in a busy year for the singer in which every project seemed different than the one that preceded it – an original studio album, a live set at the Copa, a duet project with Johnny Mercer (the latter recorded in 1960 and released the following year). Darin turned to Bobby Scott, who had accompanied him in live performances and in the studio, to craft the album’s arrangements and lead the choir dubbed The Bobby Scott Chorale. Though the album emphasized the sacred over the secular – there’s no “Silver Bells” or “Sleigh Ride” here – Scott and Darin clearly desired to take listeners not just to a staid, solemn congregation, but to a foot-stompin’, soul-savin’ revival.
Darin seemingly reached to the depths of his soul for the up-tempo gospel of “Child of God,” “Baby Born Today” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” growling and wailing his call-and-response vocals with Scott’s choir. “Poor Little Jesus” is as deeply bluesy as “Jehovah Hallelujah” is utterly rousing. The straightforward hymn “Holy Holy Holy” shows off Scott’s choral arrangements for male and female voices, and “Ave Maria” (the Bach-Gounod setting, not the Schubert) features some of Darin’s most sensitive, impassioned and subtle singing. It’s a far cry from the brash upstart persona Darin cultivated with songs like “Mack the Knife.” So is the stately take on “Silent Night.” Darin even sang in Latin on the album’s de facto finale, “Dona Nobis Pacem.” (A brief a cappella “Amen” follows the track.)
After the jump: more on Bobby Darin, plus a look at Funky Christmas! Read the rest of this entry »
Maybe it’s his catalogue in the hands of a new owner, with Parlophone now being managed by Rhino/Warner Music Group. Maybe it’s the rushing wave of acidic nostalgia that came with publishing his hit Autobiography. Or maybe it’s just been too long since the last reissue. Whatever the reason, Morrissey’s 1992 album Your Arsenal is getting remastered and expanded for a February release.
Featuring a new band anchored by guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte – still Moz’s chief collaborators to this day – and a rockabilly-inspired production by the late Mick Ronson, Your Arsenal was the first of many Morrissey albums hailed as a return to form for the ex-Smiths frontman. While it was not without its share of controversy (the war on Morrissey waged by NME had perhaps hit a fever pitch at this time, thanks to their perception of some of the album’s lyrics as glorifying of hooliganism and far-right English politics), it nonetheless did well on both sides of the Atlantic, with audiences embracing songs like “Glamorous Glue,” “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful” and “Tomorrow” on the U.S. modern rock charts.
It wouldn’t be a Morrissey reissue without a little bit of original album tweaking, and while this is perhaps his most subtlest reconfiguration yet, it is indeed a reconfiguration: “Tomorrow” is featured in its U.S. single mix version. But this “Definitive Master” edition will include perhaps more bonus material than ever before seen or heard on a Moz re-release: a DVD featuring a complete show from the previous year’s Kill Uncle tour, recorded at California’s Shoreline Amphitheater on Halloween 1991. This set not only featured the band that would record Your Arsenal, but includes two new tracks that would be recorded at that time: “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful” and non-LP B-side “Pashernate Love.”
Your Arsenal: Definitive Master is out on February 24 and 25 as a CD/DVD or vinyl remaster (the latter featuring a new gatefold sleeve). Hit the jump for the full specs and pre-order links!
“May you live to be one hundred and may the last voice you hear be mine.” The image of Frank Sinatra, glass in hand, delivering that favorite toast is an indelible one. His wasn’t just a voice, after all. Before he was Ol’ Blue Eyes or The Chairman of the Board, he was simply The Voice. And through all its many changes, The Voice endured. The pure, romantically-charged timbre that set the hearts of bobbysoxers pounding in the forties transformed into the ultimate instrument of ultimate cool during the fifties and sixties. Cigarettes, whiskey and experience deepened the once-crystalline tone as the decades rolled on, but in any year, Frank Sinatra exuded an air somehow both untouchable and intimate…and always unflaggingly honest. Yet until now, none of the roughly 60 studio albums recorded by the artist had ever been expanded into box set format. Capitol Records has finally made that move with 1993’s triple-platinum Duets, now combined with its 1994 platinum follow-up Duets II. The Duets – Twentieth Anniversary campaign includes a 2-CD/1-DVD Super Deluxe Edition box set (Capitol B0019342-00), 2-CD Deluxe Edition (with both audio discs from the box set, including bonus tracks), 2-LP vinyl set (with just the original albums) and single-CD Best of Duets highlights disc.
Duets, originally released on November 2, 1993 and included as the first disc of the Super Deluxe box, marked Sinatra’s return to Capitol Records after a more than thirty-year absence. His first studio album for the label since 1962’s Point of No Return, Duets teamed the celebrated icon with producer Phil Ramone, co-producer Hank Cattaneo, and a host of performers from various musical genres and eras. It took a good deal of coaxing to get the 77-year old superstar into the studio to bring Duets to life, and a good deal of Ramone’s studio wizardry, too. Duets, for good or ill, helped popularize the now rather commonplace concept of the virtual duet, as Ramone recorded Sinatra in the famous Studio A with Bill Miller at the piano and a full orchestra conducted by Patrick Williams…and nary a duet partner in sight. (Wasn’t Sinatra always a trendsetter?) All of the famous personnel would be added later, with Ramone using a fiber-optics system developed in part by George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound to record Sinatra’s guests. Twenty years on, divorced from any controversy about the recording techniques, Duets holds up surprisingly well. For all the illustrious talent on display on the LP, the reason why boils down to three words: Francis Albert Sinatra (with a little help from his friends).
Hit the jump to join us as we dive into Duets: Twentieth Anniversary! Read the rest of this entry »
When Screaming Lord Sutch promised the presence of some “Heavy Friends,” he wasn’t messing around. The cover of 1970’s Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends boasts some of the heaviest hitters in rock and roll: guitarists Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, drummer John Bonham, pianist Nicky Hopkins and Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding. It’s recently been remastered and reissued by Cherry Red’s Esoteric Recordings imprint, and certainly qualifies for release on a label called Esoteric!
David Edward Sutch (1940-1999) was a showman through and through, whether rocking-and-rolling in his horror-themed stage act or sending up politics as founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. (And yes, the Monster Raving Loonies have actually won elections!) Though he wasn’t much of a singer, “Screaming” Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow, made a splash with the Joe Meek-produced, banned-by-the-BBC single “Jack the Ripper” in 1963. (His nickname was inspired by Screaming Jay Hawkins, and he wasn’t really an Earl…but no matter!) That was the same year he stood in his first election, representing the National Teenage Party. Always a colorful character, Sutch and his manager Reginald Calvert even formed a pirate radio station, inventively named “Radio Sutch.” Sutch was known to emerge from a coffin onstage, and could be found offstage tooling around in his Union Jack-adorned Rolls Royce.
Until 1970, however, Sutch had never released an LP. He called on some of his very famous friends to participate in sessions for the album that would become Heavy Friends, though most subsequently disowned it when Sutch emblazoned their names on the cover of the LP rather than allowing them the reportedly-promised anonymity. Recorded at Hollywood’s Mystic Sound Studios in 1969, Heavy Friends has a loose, off-the-cuff feel, as if the recorders had been turned on during a late-night jam session. Sutch resisted the temptation to record a batch of oldies, instead bringing self-described “modern rock ‘n’ roll with the real Zeppelin sound” to the table. Though it’s debatable whether he quite achieved that, one couldn’t deny Sutch’s understated assertion that “John Bonham is a tremendous drummer.” Jimmy Page ended up with a co-producer credit (“very nice of [Sutch],” he commented in 1970) and as co-writer of six of the album’s twelve songs. Sutch and co. were joined by Daniel Edwards, Martin Kohl and Rick Brown on bass, Kent Henrey on guitar, and Carlo Little and Bob Metke on drums.
Malcolm Dome, in his new liner notes, persuasively makes the argument for this “oddball yet strangely charismatic” and “weird and effective” album, but reaction upon its release was hardly so kind. Rolling Stone called it “absolutely terrible” and Page insisted the album was no more than a joke that “became ugly.” But Heavy Friends today plays like a primal early exercise in what would become punk, with musical nods to blues-rock and rock-and-roll. Sutch’s distinctive, if not particularly musical, vocals may not be to everyone’s tastes, but Beck’s guitar shines on “Gutty Guitar,” and Page and Bonham’s interplay on a number of tracks is particularly worthwhile. In addition, tracks like “Union Jack Car” and “L-O-N-D-O-N” are offbeat but memorable and very much of the period. Stripped-down, wild and woolly, and certainly original, Heavy Friends is certainly one of the strangest records to have been created by an all-star supergroup. Page and Bonham appear on seven songs, with Beck on one track, and Hopkins and Redding on three each (Redding supplies the “Thumping Beat” on the song of the same name).
After the jump: more on Heavy Friends, including the track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »
Kritzerland has just jumped headfirst into the holiday season with three exciting releases on the soundtrack front. Continuing the label’s commitment to the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond, the label has just made these three titles available for pre-order:
- John Wayne at Fox: The Westerns – Two CDs and three scores for the price of one CD! This double-disc anthology brings together three classic scores from films featuring The Duke: Elmer Bernstein’s The Comancheros (1961), Lionel Newman’s North to Alaska (1960) and Hugo Montenegro’s The Undefeated (1969)! Though all three titles have been previously released, they have been fully remastered for Kritzerland’s release. North to Alaska features vocal performances from Johnny Horton and Fabian. A 1,000-unit limited edition, John Wayne at Fox is available for $19.98 from Kritzerland.
- Sabrina / We’re No Angels – Following Intrada’s recent release of Henry Mancini’s original soundtrack to Blake Edwards’ Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Kritzerland premieres another memorable score from an Audrey Hepburn film from an iconic director. This time, the film is 1954’s Sabrina and the director is Billy Wilder. Frederick (The Blue Angel) Hollander’s score to Sabrina is paired with another Hollander treat: his score to the 1956 Humphrey Bogart Christmas comedy We’re No Angels! As a special bonus, the disc is rounded out with vintage Hollander cues from a number of his other films. This 1,000-unit limited edition is available from Kritzerland at $19.98.
- Finally, Kritzerland re-presses its sold-out release of Bernard (Psycho, Taxi Driver) Herrmann’s scores to two vintage television specials: a 1954 adaptation of A Christmas Carol starring Fredric March and Basil Rathbone; and the next year’s A Child is Born starring Nadine Conner and Theodor Uppman of the Metropolitan Opera. These two scores show another side of the renowned suspense composer’s immense talent. This 1,000-unit limited edition is available at the low holiday price of $14.98 from the label.
Kritzerland indicates that “our hope is that CDs will ship by the last week of December or hopefully even sooner, but this is the busiest time of year for pressing plants, so there is the off chance that it could be early January. But the hope is to have them out the door before Christmas.” In addition, the label’s annual Christmas sale is on! You can sample the many bargains right here!
After the jump, we have the full contents of Kritzerland’s press release, plus track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »