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“ICON” is Now a Capitol Idea

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Belinda Carlisle ICONAnother few batches of Universal’s eye-rolling ICON series are on the way – and while they offer a few genuine surprises, there’s a lot, perhaps even more than usual, to shake one’s head over.

The big surprise right off the bat is that the mid-price compilation series will now chronicle not only Universal-controlled catalogue artists, but EMI-controlled ones as well. This is hardly a surprise, given the past year’s big story of music business restructuring that’s leaving the world with three major music labels including a Universal/EMI conglomerate.

But the budget compilation idea is nothing new for EMI artists – and frustratingly, ICON is starting off by covering those EMI artists with more than enough compilations to go around, including The Beach Boys, Poison and Pat Benatar. While we have a few surprises to go around on the Universal side of the ICON list – Liberace and Captain & Tennille are prime examples on the “didn’t see that coming” list – there’s very little new or exciting in these batches. (The ICON entry for Bon Jovi is, in fact, a clone of the band’s 1994 compilation Cross Road with the cover art poorly repurposed.)

The only real boon for collectors is the ICON title for Go-Go’s frontwoman (and recent acquisition by Demon Music Group) Belinda Carlisle, whose set will feature a brand-new recording, “Sun,” her first recording to hit U.S. stores in 15 years.

These new batches kick off tomorrow with five EMI-controlled gospel artists (including Amy Grant, whose biggest pop hits were ironically on Universal’s A&M label). Another 15 follow the next week, and two more (Jimmy Cliff and Bon Jovi) follow the week after that. And they’re all yours to consider after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 11, 2013 at 12:36

“Ram,” “SMiLE,” Woody Earn Catalogue Credits At Grammys

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Ram Box SetLet’s start the day with a quick, annual reminder of the hardworking people in the catalogue music business who were recognized for their efforts by way of nominations at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.

Three such box sets were nominated for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: Paul McCartney’s Ram: The Paul McCartney Archive Collection, The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls: Super Deluxe Edition and Woody Guthrie’s Woody At 100: The Centennial CollectionRam and Woody At 100 also shared nominations for Best Historical Album alongside the beautiful SMiLE Sessions box set by The Beach Boys, while three writers of notes for reissues and box sets were given nods in the Best Album Notes category.

The full list of relevant nominees are below, while the entire list (including an impressive six-way tie for most nominations by a single artist or band) is here.

Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Soundtrack From The Motion Picture)
Rob Sheridan, art director (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)
(Null/Madison Gate Records)

Go Fly A Kite
Liz Kweller, art director (Ben Kweller)
(The Noise Company)

Ram – Paul McCartney Archive Collection (Deluxe Edition)
Simon Earith & James Musgrave, art directors (Paul And Linda McCartney)
(Hear Music)

Some Girls: Super Deluxe Edition
Stephen Kennedy, art director (The Rolling Stones)
(UMe/Universal Republic)

Woody At 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection
Fritz Klaetke, art director (Woody Guthrie)
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

Best Album Notes

Banjo Diary: Lessons From Tradition
Stephen Wade, album notes writer (Stephen Wade)
(Smithsonian Folkways)

First Recordings: 50th Anniversary Edition
Hans Olof Gottfridsson, album notes writer (The Beatles With Tony Sheridan)
(Time Life)

The Pearl Sessions
Holly George-Warren, album notes writer (Janis Joplin)
(Columbia/Legacy)

Piazzolla In Brooklyn
Fernando Gonzalez, album notes writer (Pablo Aslan Quintet)
(Soundbrush)

Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles
Billy Vera, album notes writer (Ray Charles)
(Concord)

Best Historical Album

He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul Of Arizona Dranes
Josh Rosenthal, compilation producer; Bryan Hoffa & Christopher King, mastering engineers (Arizona Dranes)
(Tompkins Square)

Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music: 34 Historic Songs, Ballads, And Instrumentals Recorded In The Great Smoky Mountains By “Song Catcher” Joseph S. Hall
Kent Cave, Michael Montgomery & Ted Olson, compilation producers; John Fleenor & Steve Kemp, mastering engineers (Various Artists)
(Great Smoky Mountains Association)

Opika Pende: Africa At 78 RPM
Steven Lance Ledbetter & Jonathan Ward, compilation producers; Michael Graves, mastering engineer (Various Artists)
(Dust-to-Digital)

Ram – Paul McCartney Archive Collection (Deluxe Edition)
Paul McCartney, compilation producer; Simon Gibson, Guy Massey & Steve Rooke, mastering engineers (Paul And Linda McCartney)
(MPL/Hear Music/Concord)

The Smile Sessions (Deluxe Box Set)
Alan Boyd, Mark Linett, Brian Wilson & Dennis Wolfe, compilation producers; Mark Linett, mastering engineer (The Beach Boys)
(Capitol)

Woody At 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection
Jeff Place & Robert Santelli, compilation producers; Pete Reiniger, mastering engineer (Woody Guthrie)
(Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

Written by Mike Duquette

December 6, 2012 at 10:10

Black Friday 2012: Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa Lead Off Packed Slate of RSD Exclusives

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Here in the U. S. of A., Black Friday is almost upon us: that unusual date following the prior day of giving thanks, in which consumers make a mad dash to the local big-box store, mall or shopping center to procure bargains for the holiday season ahead.  Retailers are controversially beginning Black Friday “festivities” even earlier than usual this year, with many sales starting on Thanksgiving Day itself and not even at midnight but in the early part of the evening.  For a number of recent years, music buyers have had our own Black Friday, that day in April known as Record Store Day in which the aisles of our independent retailers are filled with hunters of collectible vinyl and CD releases.  Record Store Day has in the past sponsored a mini-RSD event on Black Friday, but this year, the titles on offer are as enticing and nearly as plentiful as those on the main RSD itself.  For some, this will be a source of frustration, for others, excitement.

This year’s line-up for Record Store Day – Black Friday brings titles from some of the biggest names in rock including The Beach Boys, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Nirvana, plus cult favorites like Leonard Cohen, Lee Hazlewood and Frank Zappa, and country-and-western legends such as Wanda Jackson and Buck Owens.

After the jump and without further ado, we’ll fill you in on the crème of the reissued crop come this Black Friday!  Just click for your full list of the catalogue releases to watch! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of November 19

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Led Zeppelin,Celebration Day (Swan Song/Atlantic)

The one-off reunion nobody expected and everyone loved – a 2007 gig at the O2 in London – is now available in a variety of formats for your listening enjoyment. (Odds are this isn’t the last LZ catalogue bit you’ll see in the next year.) (2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (2CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (2CD/Blu-Ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (2CD/1DVD/Blu-Ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (Blu-Ray Audio: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (3LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Frank Zappa, 8 album reissues (Zappa/UMe)

A good chunk of the fifth and final wave of Zappa album remasters (the other three in the wave have been moved back to December 18), including the first-ever CD release of the Mothermania compilation and four volumes of You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore. The link above has more info and pre-order links!

The Jam, The Gift: Deluxe Edition (Polydor/UMC U.K.)

A lavish deluxe version of The Jam’s final album, augmented with B-sides, unreleased demos, live tracks and video footage, all in a fancy “gift” bag. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

10cc, Tenology (UMC U.K.)

One of the more underrated bands of the ’70s, 10cc finally gets their due with a multi-disc CD/DVD box set. Hits, album cuts and B-sides abound. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

ABBA,ABBA: Deluxe Edition (Polydor/UMC U.K.)

Mamma Mia! The Swedish legends’ 1976 album is reissued as a CD/DVD set with rare archival video. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Naked Eyes, Burning Bridges: Expanded Edition (Cherry Pop)

The album that gave us hits like “Always Something There to Remind Me” and “Promises, Promises” is expanded by Cherry Pop with B-sides and bonus remixes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Kelly Clarkson, The Hits: Chapter One (RCA/19)

The first true greatest hits collection from an American Idol winner. That crushing feeling is the sands of time upon you. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Elvis Costello, In Motion Pictures (UMe)

If E.C. had a song in a movie, it’s probably here. Probably. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Beach Boys, Live in Concert: 50th Anniversary (SMC)

Good news: a live Beach Boys show from this year’s tour! Bad news: hugely edited. Like, more than half. (DVD: Amazon U.S. Blu-Ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

AC/DC, Live at River Plate (Columbia)

The band’s 2009 set in Argentina, released on DVD a few years back, is now available on two CDs or three red LPs. (2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) (3LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Art Pepper, Neon Art Volume 3 (Omnivore)

The third and final volume of Omnivore’s Art Pepper colored vinyl series; this one features part of a 1981 live show on yellow wax.

3 Doors Down, The Greatest Hits (Universal Republic)

A greatest hits compilation we only just found out about, like, two days ago. Full story coming up later. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

t.A.T.u., 200 Km/H in the Wrong Lane: 10th Anniversary Edition (Cherrytree/Interscope/Universal Russia)

Wait, what? Yup. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Review: The Beach Boys Remasters, Part Two: The Album-by-Album Guide

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It’s about time now!  Don’t you know now?  It’s about time we get together to be out front and love one another…

- Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Bob Burchman and Al Jardine (1970)

Isn’t it time we danced the night away?  How about doing it just like yesterday?

- Brian Wilson, Joe Thomas, Jim Peterik, Larry Millas and Mike Love (2012)

No, Mike Love didn’t fire Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys.  But that didn’t stop the Beach Boys’ leader, producer and chief songwriter from telling The Los Angeles Times last week, “It sort of feels like we’re [he, David Marks and Al Jardine] are being fired.”  Wilson was replying to Love’s announcement that he would pursue small-venue dates with longtime member Bruce Johnston and a band including son Christian Love, John Cowsill and Scott Totten rather than continue the group’s well-received 50th anniversary tour.  With Wilson, Jardine and Love playing out their business disagreements in the pages of the Times (Wilson: “I welcome Mike to call me”), surf’s up once again on the offstage turmoil that has marked the 50-year career of The Beach Boys, a group whose joyous sounds of harmony onstage have long been juxtaposed with unease and turmoil behind the curtain.  Both Wilson and Love took pains to stress family ties; Love’s daughter Ambha even joined the fray online in defense of her dad.  Is blood thicker than the water that inspired “Surfin’ USA” and the rest?  What remains, ultimately, is the music.  In conjunction with a 1-CD Greatest Hits and 2-CD 50 Big Ones: Greatest Hits, both reviewed in Part One, Capitol Records has just reissued twelve of The Beach Boys’ classic albums in new, remastered editions.  All have been encoded in HDCD (for those with HDCD capabilities).

Covering the period between 1963’s sophomore LP Surfin’ USA and 1971’s Surf’s Up, the new program doesn’t (yet) encompass every one of The Beach Boys’ seminal original LPs. From their first decade, the series omits the band’s very first album Surfin’ Safari (1962) plus The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album (1964, currently available in a reshuffled edition entitled Christmas Harmonies), The Beach Boys’ Concert (1964) and a trio of late-1960s, post-SMiLE underrated classics: Wild Honey (1967), Friends (1968) and 20/20 (1969). Of course, any of these titles could be addressed in a second wave of releases, along with some beloved post-Surf’s Up albums that found the band stretching out artistically (1972’s Carl and the Passions: So Tough, 1973’s Holland and In Concert), returning to their rock-and-roll roots (1976’s 15 Big Ones) and pioneering lo-fi pop (1977’s The Beach Boys Love You). Ideally, each one of the band’s catalogue titles might be remastered to the highest, most advanced standard.  What sets this reissue campaign apart from past efforts, however, is the presence of both mono and stereo versions on ten of the twelve albums.

True stereo versions are premiering of Today, Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!), Party! and Smiley SmileAnd for the first time, both mono and stereo programs are being included for every title except the stereo-only Sunflower and Surf’s Up.  It’s eye-opening to hear the original, punchy mono mixes of every beloved song as you might have remembered them from an AM radio alongside sparkling stereo versions, some newly created for this wave of titles.  All have been remastered by Brian Wilson associate Mark Linett, and there’s plenty to rediscover on these twelve albums – particularly for those who only know the Beach Boys’ rich catalogue of radio staples.

After the jump: come rediscover these albums with us, via our Back Tracks-style album-by-album guide including information as to what’s new with each mixRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 16, 2012 at 10:07

Posted in News, Reissues, Reviews, The Beach Boys

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Review: The Beach Boys Remasters, Part One: “50 Big Ones: Greatest Hits”

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We’re continuing our series of in-depth features dedicated to America’s band, The Beach Boys, and the various projects that have kept the group occupied throughout 2012!  Today, as the Boys launch a new series of album reissues and compilation titles, we explore Greatest Hits, 50 Big Ones and more!

It was the headline heard the world (wide web) over: Mike Love Fires Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys.  Of course, it wasn’t true.  No matter, though: suddenly, good, good, good vibrations were nowhere to be seen even as the reunited Beach Boys completed a triumphant 75-date, worldwide fiftieth anniversary tour.  It’s in this climate that Capitol Records and EMI have just this week launched a Beach Boys reissue campaign, the band’s first major catalogue overhaul in over a decade.

Truth be known, it always seemed the unlikeliest of possibilities that Brian Wilson and Al Jardine would resume touring with the slimmed-down, Mike Love-led iteration of The Beach Boys.  Love and Bruce Johnston (who joined the group in 1965) had been touring for thirteen years under the group name, the license having been granted to the frontman by the Beach Boys’ Brother Records organization.  Love had already made his reservations known in a Rolling Stone interview about the grand scale of the reunion tour, in which two of his touring bandmates, John Cowsill and Scott Totten, were joined by a phalanx of Brian Wilson’s own, versatile band members.  It seemed inevitable that Love would return to his smaller version of the group to continue his nearly non-stop touring, with the lingering possibility that the reunited, full line-up would tour or record in the future, perhaps as early as 2013.  In the meantime, nothing would preclude Brian Wilson from his own solo activities, either.  Alas, nothing is ever simple in the world of the Beach Boys.

Mike Love issued a press release in late September that apparently closed the door on future activities with Wilson, Jardine and David Marks.  This rather inelegantly-worded statement apparently blindsided both Wilson and Jardine, who issued comments either directly or through press representatives expressing disappointment at Love’s decision.  Wilson had, by most accounts, already been contemplating another Beach Boys album, and told CNN, “I’m disappointed and can’t understand why Love doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me.  We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.”

A simple “We look forward to the possibility of touring with Al, David and Cousin Brian in the future” from Love might have been sufficient to deflect the unwanted media attention, which was almost universally negative towards Love.   Instead, the singer was forced into spin control mode, which culminated in a rather more eloquent statement he gave the Los Angeles Times.  His October 5 editorial affirmed that “I did not fire Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys.  I cannot fire Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys.  I am not his employer.  I do not have such authority.  And even if I did, I would never fire Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys.”  He continued to stress his love for Wilson and his admiration for Jardine, but emphasized, “The plan was always to go back to our respective lives post the 50th anniversary run.”  This is true, no doubt – but has damage had already been done in the public eye?  Once again, the men with the angelic voices have been revealed as simply human.

Will Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks do it again?  Or will the Beach Boys return to their pre-fiftieth status quo, with the perception of heroes (Wilson) and villains (Love), however limiting those tags are?  Whether or not the creative visionary and the brash lead singer ever set foot on a stage or in a studio together again, one thing remains: the music.  That, of course, brings us to Capitol’s series of twelve remastered original albums recorded between 1963 and 1971, and two newly-assembled greatest hits packages.

We’ll explore them all, right after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 9, 2012 at 10:06

Release Round-Up: Week of October 9

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The Beach Boys, 2012 Remasters / Greatest Hits Greatest Hits: Fifty Big Ones (Capitol/EMI)

The summer gets a little more endless with a new compilation (in two formats) and remasters of nearly all of the band’s ’60s albums. (A full breakdown of those albums is here, and a full review is coming up from Joe today!)

The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour (Apple/EMI)

The Fab Four’s kooky film is making its Blu-Ray debut in standard and deluxe box formats.

Deep Purple, Machine Head: 40th Anniversary Edition (EMI)

A five-disc box set devoted to this classic rock LP, featuring various different mixes of the album (including quad and 5.1 mixes) and other goodies.

Barbra Streisand, Release Me (Columbia)

The incomparable Barbra’s newest album is actually an offering of entirely unreleased performances from the vaults. Lots of great discoveries herein!

B.B. King, Ladies and Gentlemen…Mr B.B. King (Hip-O/UMe)

Available in four-disc and Amazon-exclusive 10-disc formats, these box sets are the latest way to honor one of the greatest living blues legends.

The Supremes, I Hear a Symphony: Expanded Edition (Hip-O Select/Motown)

Another Supremes classic expanded to two discs, featuring the original album in mono and stereo and a host of live and studio treasures from the vault.

David Ruffin, David: The Unreleased LP and More (Hip-O Select/Motown)

Out of print for years, Hip-O Select reissues this compilation of the Temptation’s unissued 1971 album and a host of outtakes from the album sessions.

Various Artists, The Best of Bond…James Bond: 50 Years, 50 Tracks (Capitol/EMI)

It’s been 50 years since Dr. No hit theaters and it’s only a few weeks until Skyfall is released, so it’s time for a new 007 compilation that features all the classic title themes on one disc and a sampling of other tracks from the Bond films on the other.

Level 42, Running in the Family: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Polydor/UMC)

This ’80s hit is available from the U.K. as a double-disc expansion or four-disc, extras-packed box set.

The Who, Live in Texas 1975 (Eagle Rock)

Their latest at the time was The Who by Numbers, but this newly-restored show, on DVD in its first official release, is anything but.

Old 97′s, Too Far to Care: Deluxe Edition (Omnivore)

A demo-packed reissue of the 1997 country-rocker.

Various Artists, Athens, GA – Inside Out (Omnivore)

A nice deluxe set featuring both the classic documentary on the colorful Athens, GA music scene in the 1980s on DVD (with new special features) and the expanded soundtrack on CD.

Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas: Original Sound Track from the CBS Television Special (Fantasy)

The classic holiday album gets a brand new remaster with three bonus tracks. Full review coming later today!

Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb, In Session (Fantasy)

Two legends collaborate on this live performance from 1983, newly released as a CD/DVD set.

Adam AntDestiny’s Child, Shawn ColvinAlan Jackson, Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, George Jones & Tammy Wynette, Carole KingTaj MahalRicky Martin, Johnny Mathis, Meat Loaf, Laura Nyro, Collin Raye, Starship, Porter Wagoner & Dolly PartonPlaylist (Legacy)

A surprisingly strong batch of Playlist titles includes a few neat surprises, too, from brand-new compilations for Destiny’s Child and Ricky Martin to rare and unreleased tracks on the Meat Loaf, Starship and Laura Nyro sets.

The Chipmunks, Christmas Collection (Capitol)

Because it wouldn’t be the holidays without some squeaky-voiced renditions of holiday classics, plus the immortal “Christmas Don’t Be Late.”

Edie Adams, The Edie Adams Christmas Album (Omnivore)

Another Christmas treat, sourced from rare kinescopes of Adams on television in the ’50s.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Universal Studios Home Video)

A timeless favorite at Second Disc HQ (in particular, Mike’s favorite movie!) comes home on Blu-Ray for the first time, featuring the restored original 1982 version of the film and a new retrospective consisting entirely of on-set footage shot by John Toll. Retail exclusives abound: Target’s offering a deluxe steelbook package (available internationally as a basic deluxe edition), Best Buy has a special book package with pages of full-color notes and artwork, Walmart throws in a free E.T. doll for the kids, and Amazon carried a limited deluxe package (now sold out) housed in a replica of E.T.’s spaceship.

Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut (Warner Home Video)

One of the most purely fun musicals of the past few decades, this loving musical adaptation of the Roger Corman cult classic features a killer, ’60s-flavored pop score from future Disney legends Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. For this special Blu-Ray release, the hilarious, 20-minute alternate ending (seen only on a quickly-recalled, highly-collectible DVD) has been fully restored and added to the end of the picture, and other great special features abound, too!

7Ts Wakes Up in Love This Morning with David Cassidy Reissues; Beach Boys Among Guests

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David Cassidy sure is getting a lot of love on both sides of the Atlantic.

Almost simultaneously, reissue campaigns for the singer, actor and former teen idol were launched in the U.S. by Real Gone Music and in the U.K. by Cherry Red’s 7Ts imprint.  The former label has already reissued 1974’s Cassidy Live!, 1976’s Gettin’ It in the Street, and 1985’s Romance.  7Ts began its own campaign with a two-fer of Cherish and Rock Me Baby (both from 1972) and is continuing chronologically with four more studio albums on two CDs.  The Bell Records release Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes (1973) has been paired with RCA debut The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall (1975), while Home is Where the Heart Is and Gettin’ It in the Street (both from 1976, on RCA) are combined on the second two-fer.  Perhaps surprisingly for those unfamiliar with Cassidy’s catalogue, all four albums are distinct experiences well worth revisiting, and there are plenty of songs and guest appearances from other notable musicians, including Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston and Ricky Fataar of the Beach Boys.

Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes was produced by Harry Nilsson collaborator Rick Jarrard, who may have suggested that Cassidy record Nilsson’s “The Puppy Song,” originally written by Nilsson for Mary Hopkin’s Post Card album.  (His own rendition can be heard on the Harry LP.)  The choice paid off when “The Puppy Song” was one side of a double A-side single with Terry Dempsey’s “Daydreamer,” and the single went to No. 1 in the U.K.  Nilsson’s lyric also gave the album its title, and the LP reached the same lofty position as the single.  Yet neither the album nor single dented the U.S. charts.  No matter, though; Partridge-mania may have been subsiding, but Cassidy was determined to make the kind of music that wouldn’t render him a flash in the pan.

Dreams includes some off-the-beaten path covers.  In addition to the vaudevillian-styled “Puppy Song,” Cassidy included a refreshingly straight reading of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific anthem “Bali Ha’i,” a retro take on John Sebastian’s “Daydream” (not to be confused with “Daydreamer,” of course) and a funky R&B makeover for the Little Willie John/Peggy Lee-popularized “Fever.”  Of the less familiar material, “Daydreamer” was a strong, sweet ballad (with a slight melodic resemblance to Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You”).  Partridge Family stalwart songwriter Tony Romeo provided the likeable “Summer Days” (previously recorded by the Partridges) and “Sing Me,” and Cassidy himself penned a couple of tracks (the wistful “Can’t Go Home Again” and the soulful “Preyin’ on My Mind”) with an up-and-coming singer/songwriter who had accompanied him in concert, by the name of Kim Carnes!

1974 was a quiet year on the studio front for Cassidy, with just one single of two non-LP sides released in the U.K. (“If I Didn’t Care” b/w “Frozen Noses”) and the Cassidy Live LP, now available on Real Gone.  The year was also a tragic one when a teenaged fan of Cassidy’s died in a crush of fans at a London concert.  He retreated from the spotlight, returning in 1975 with a new RCA contract and an album co-produced with the Beach Boys’ Bruce Johnston.

The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall showed an increasing maturity in Cassidy’s vocals and material.  He was surrounded by the Hollywood musical elite on both background vocals and in the band, including Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America, Carl Wilson and Ricky Fataar from the Beach Boys, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (a.k.a. Flo and Eddie), Ned Doheny, Lee Sklar, Jim Gordon, Neil Diamond associates Tom Hensley and King Errisson, and Danny Kortchmar, to name a few.  The centerpiece was Johnston’s own “I Write the Songs,” recorded before Barry Manilow’s version, and still the only “I Write the Songs” to have made the U.K. charts.  (It reached No. 11.)  Cassidy’s version offers a window into what a Beach Boys version might have sounded like, with Carl Wilson in particular offering some stunning vocals that give the song a very different character than Manilow’s well-known recording.  Again, the tracks were a blend of covers (The Beach Boys’ “Darlin’”, Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-a-Lula,” a personalized revision of Harry Nilsson’s “This Could Be the Night”) and originals (Cassidy’s own, sprawling multi-part statement “When I’m a Rock N Roll Star,” sleek “Fix of Your Love” and gentle “Love in Bloom,” penned with Buffalo Springfield’s Richie Furay).

All these songs added up to a loose concept album about stardom and the transition from teen idol to adult performer.  Cassidy’s ever-confident vocals were enhanced by Johnston’s lush production and killer backing from L.A.’s crème de la crème.  Ned Doheny’s “Get It Up for Love” may have been banned by the BBC for its rather on-the-nose lyrics, but the song still managed No. 1 for South Africa, and is irresistible in Cassidy’s urgent recording.  There are some self-indulgent moments, for sure, such as the spoken-word interlude “Massacre at Park Bench.”  But if you’ve ever wondered what David Cassidy would sound like in Laurel Canyon circa 1975, here’s your answer.

Hit the jump for details on Home is Where the Heart Is/Gettin’ It in the Street, plus full track listings and order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 8, 2012 at 10:14

Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio? “The Ramones Heard Them Here First” Arrives

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Ace Records is cheering “Gabba gabba hey!” with the recent release of The Ramones Heard Them Here First, an overview charting the influences behind New York’s seminal punk pioneers.  Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy didn’t exactly try to hide their inspirations when they included a cover of Chris Montez’ 1962 hit “Let’s Dance” on their debut long-player Ramones in 1976 and over the years, they continued to tip the hat to rock and roll heroes from The Ronettes to The Beach Boys.  The new compilation includes the original versions of twenty-four songs covered by Ramones between 1976 and 1995’s Adios Amigos, and as such, is a rollicking stew of pop, rock, bubblegum, and psychedelic sounds absorbed by the Forest Hills foursome (plus later members Marky, C.J. and Richie).

When Ramones arrived on Sire Records, it signaled a return to, and a celebration of, primal rock and roll after the excess of progressive rock and the glitz of disco.  Primitive in its execution but colossal in its ambition, Ramones distilled the previous, pre-Woodstock era of pop-rock into fast and ferocious two-minute nuggets.  Though their productions weren’t as polished or immaculate as those they worshipped, they captured the same energy that turned teenagers onto the rebellious art form two decades earlier.  A classic example of a band whose influence far outweighed its sales, the group continued to recognize the past even as it flirted with subjects like Nazism, violence, drug use and prostitution.  (No hippy-dippy peace-and-love for these boys!)  And even though the surname “Ramone” was adopted by all members, they shared a common “less is more” sensibility that made them a true, if dysfunctional, band of brudders.

Many Ramones albums, including their first five, featured amped-up AM radio-style “cover” songs, many of which appear here.  Compilation producer Mick Patrick has arranged the tracks chronologically in the order that the songs appeared on a Ramones set.  So “Let’s Dance” is followed by The Rivieras’ “California Sun,” covered on 1977’s sophomore effort Leave Home, then by The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” and The Beach Boys’ “Do You Wanna Dance,” both aired on Rocket to Russia.  (“Do You Wanna Dance,” of course, was originally written and recorded by Bobby Freeman, but it’s likely that the immaculate, Brian Wilson-produced, Dennis Wilson-sung version was The Ramones’ go-to choice.)  1978’s Road to Ruin featured a take on Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono’s “Needles and Pins,” which is also reprised here in its hit version by The Searchers.  But the band’s biggest success on 45 in the U.K. came from 1980’s controversial End of the Century, in which Phil Spector took the production reins.  That hit single was a recording of Spector’s own “Baby, I Love You,” which he originally produced for The Ronettes, and the album itself also became the band’s highest-charting stateside.  The immortal, Ronnie Spector-led track (arranged by the aforementioned Nitzsche) represents the band’s brief association with Phil Spector.  Following End of the Century, a number of albums were recorded of entirely original Ramones compositions, among them Pleasant Dreams (1981), Too Tough to Die (1984), and Animal Boy (1986).

There’s lots more Ramones-mania after the jump, including an order link and complete track listing with discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 26, 2012 at 10:10

Isn’t It Time! Beach Boys Reissues Confirmed For U.S., Two “Greatest Hits” Sets Also Arriving! [UPDATED 9/10]

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UPDATE 9/10: It appears that the mono/stereo catalogue remasters for The Beach Boys will now arrive from Capitol/EMI on October 9 in North America, alongside the two greatest hits sets, not the previously announced September 25.  As of today’s date, we have not confirmed any change of date for the international releases.  Watch this space for any further updates!

BREAKING NEWS 8/8: The Beach Boys have announced plans for the CD and digital release of two new commemorative hits collections by Capitol/EMI on September 24th outside of North America and on October 9th in North America.  12 remastered Beach Boys studio albums will also be released by Capitol/EMI on September 24th outside of North America and on September 25th in North America.  

For many years, The Beach Boys have happily embraced the title of “America’s band.”  And why not?  The group proved the stateside answer to the Beatles, both commercially and artistically, in the band’s heyday of the 1960s, and has rarely stopped since then in spreading the California gospel of “fun, fun, fun” to audiences worldwide.  Sure, like any family, The Beach Boys have had more than their share of growing pains and rough patches.  But the American spirit is embodied in The Beach Boys’ resilience, tenacity and optimism, so beautifully expressed in the band’s current, headline-making 50th Anniversary reunion tour featuring Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks, and on the band’s new album, That’s Why God Made the Radio.  Late last year, Capitol Records promised “commemorative catalog releases” among the Beach Boys’ plans for 2012.  Now, it has been confirmed that those releases are on the schedule!

The website of EMI Japan first revealed that exciting plans were underway.  A group of twelve remastered titles were released in Japan on July 25, and these are the same reissues due in the U.S. on September 25.  Ten of these albums contain both mono and stereo versions, which is particularly exciting news because many of The Beach Boys’ most enduring early classics have never before been available in true stereo.  The rundown is as follows, now with pre-order links!

  1. Surfin’ USA (Capitol ST-1890, 1963)
  2. Surfer Girl (Capitol ST-1981, 1963)
  3. Little Deuce Coupe (Capitol ST-1998, 1963)
  4. Shut Down Vol.2 (Capitol ST-2027, 1964)
  5. All Summer Long (Capitol ST-2110, 1964)
  6. The Beach Boys Today! (Capitol T-2269, 1965)
  7. Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) (Capitol T-235, 1965)
  8. Beach Boys’ Party! (Capitol DMAS-2398, 1965)
  9. Pet Sounds (Capitol T-2458, 1966)
  10. Smiley Smile (Brother 9001, 1967)
  11. Sunflower (Brother/Reprise RS 6382, 1970)
  12. Surf’s Up (Brother/Reprise RS 6453, 1971)

In addition, two newly-curated compilations will also arrive from America’s Band, both of which are due on October 9 in America.  Greatest Hits features 20 of the band’s most popular songs, including “California Girls,” “Good Vibrations,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “God Only Knows,” “Kokomo,” their latest single “That’s Why God Made The Radio,” and many more.  (This collection offers ten fewer tracks than 2003′s smash Sounds of Summer.)  More enticing is Greatest Hits: 50 Big Ones.  Taking its title cue from 1976′s 15 Big Ones, this 2-CD deluxe set offers two tracks from 2012 hit album That’s Why God Made the Radio including the title song and the new single version of “Isn’t It Time?”  This 2-CD box seems to have been compiled based on the band’s recent concert setlists, including favorites such as “All This is That,” “Add Some Music to Your Day,” “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times,” “Cotton Fields,” and “California Saga” that haven’t frequently appeared on Greatest Hits sets.  The inclusion of these tracks makes for a fine souvenir of the record-breaking reunion tour.  The lift-top package also includes an expanded booklet with liner notes by Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild and seven postcards.  (Oddly, “Be True to Your School” is on the single-disc edition, but not the 2-CD version.)

Hit the jump for more details on these upcoming reissues including full track listings for both compilations!  Plus: a new Blu-Ray/DVD documentary is also on the way!  And please join us for a special survey! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 10, 2012 at 17:12

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