Good Grief! Varese Premieres “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” On CD

When Charles Schulz, director-producer Lee Mendelson and co-producer Bill Melendez announced they were bringing Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts gang to the big screen for the very first time, anticipation was naturally high.  A Boy Named Charlie Brown was well-received upon its December 1969 theatrical debut, going on to do good business and receiving credit for breaking the Disney monopoly on feature-length animation.  Today, it's still remembered as the best of the four Peanuts animated

Meet Me Down in Soulville: Numero Unearths The Royal Jesters’ “English Oldies”

To residents of San Antonio, Texas, The Royal Jesters are hometown heroes.  To even the most astute music fans outside of the San Antonio region, the vocal group might be all but unknown.  Thanks to Chicago's Numero Group reissue specialists, however, The Royal Jesters have gotten a big break.  The group founded by high school pals Oscar Lawson, Henry Hernandez, Mike Pedraza and Louis Escalante in 1958 continued to perform and record through 1977, with sporadic reunions after that.  Their sound

Review: Robin Gibb, “Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works 1968-1970″

Give me a smile!  With the new release of Robin Gibb's Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1968-1970 (R2 549315), Rhino/Reprise has unveiled the most significant archival collection related to The Bee Gees in nearly a decade.  Not since 2006's The Studio Albums 1967-1968 has the vault door been opened to reveal such a remarkable wealth of pop treasure from an artist with the surname of Gibb - in this case, the late Robin. This three-CD set, produced with stunning attention to

Review: Little Richard, “Directly From My Heart”

The annals of rock have been filled with colorful characters, but few can compare to Richard Penniman, a.k.a. Little Richard.  Over the course of just eighteen months beginning in 1955, the man who has called himself The King and Queen of Rock and Roll recorded the songs that laid the foundation of the genre, notching seventeen R&B Top 10s - four of which also made the Pop Top 10.  After that initial burst of fame, however, Richard retreated from the spotlight.  The new box set Directly from

Hey, Look Me Over! Harbinger Celebrates The Music of Cy Coleman On New Collection

When Bob Dylan released his first collection of standards earlier this year, the venerable singer-songwriter took umbrage at the notion that he was "covering" classic songs.  "I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way," he reflected.  "They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them."  Among the songs uncovered by Dylan was Cy Coleman and Joseph McCarthy's "Why Try to Change Me Now," first recorded by Frank Sinatra

Review: Nils Lofgren, “Nils Lofgren”

Nils Lofgren was only in his teenage years when Neil Young called upon him to add piano and guitar to his now-classic 1970 album After the Gold Rush. The Chicago-born musician's association with Young announced him in a big way, launching a career that flourishes to this very day.  Lofgren served a brief stint in Crazy Horse, playing on that band's 1971 album, and with his own band Grin recorded four well-received albums between 1971 and 1973 on the Epic and A&M labels.  It was in 1975 for

River Deep Mountain High: Ace Returns to the Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich Songbook

With Sweet Things, Ace Records has picked a most apt title for its third volume of music from the Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry songbook (Ace CDCHD 1434).  Though Greenwich and Barry were united as husband and wife for just the short period of 1962-1965, and only worked together for a short time after that, a year hasn't gone by since when their enduring songs haven't been recorded and re-recorded.  The collection's 24 titles span 1963-1978 and blend hits and rarities from the duo with tracks

Review: Andrew Gold, “The Late Show – Live 1978″

Isn't it about time for an Andrew Gold renaissance?  Then again, the late artist's music is still very much a part of today.  Just tune in to TV Land, Hallmark, or Logo TV and you'll hear Cynthia Fee's rendition of Gold's "Thank You for Being a Friend" introducing the exploits of Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia on every episode of The Golden Girls.  And when "yacht rock" playlists started popping up, reviving breezy, laid-back 1970s soft rock sounds (many of which emanated out of California),

Review: Peggy Lee, “At Last: The Lost Radio Recordings”

When Mad Men returned to television on April 5 for the first of its final seven episodes, viewers saw a different Don Draper - perhaps ready, at last, to realize what he'd become.  To underscore his possible epiphany of disillusionment, the strains of Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" recurred numerous times throughout the episode.  The song's placement underscored just how resonant Lee's music - mysterious, elegant, startling, bluesy, sensual, sly, hip, alternately hot and cool - continues to

Review: Wes Montgomery, “In the Beginning”

Never-before-heard music by Wes Montgomery isn't easy to come by.  Montgomery - an influence to George Benson, Jimi Hendrix, Pat Metheny and every great guitar man in between - didn't enter a recording studio until 25 years of age, didn't record as a leader until another ten years had elapsed, and was dead ten years after that, felled by a heart attack at age 45. His body of work can neatly be divided into three distinct periods at different labels: Riverside (1959-1964), Verve (1964-1966) and