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From Miss Ross to a Friend of the Boss: Legacy’s Latest Wave of “Playlists” Offer Hits and Deep Cuts

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Playlist - Diana RossPlaylist, Legacy Recordings’ series of single-disc anthologies spotlighting “The Hits plus the Fan Favorites,” keeps on rollin’ with a new, typically eclectic group of artists covering a wide swath of genres and styles.  Today, May 21, Legacy releases volumes in the series dedicated to the best of R&B (Diana Ross, Donna Summer), pop (Billy Ocean), country-and-western (Chet Atkins, Patty Loveless, Restless Heart, Mindy McCready), Latin jazz (Tito Puente) and the many strains of rock (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Warrant, Jeff Buckley, Switchfoot, Iggy Pop).  All Playlist titles are now housed in traditional jewel cases, and each title includes a booklet with a historical essay and discographical annotation.  Some of the titles even include new-to-CD and previously unissued rarities.

Playlist: The Very Best of Diana Ross kicks off with three seminal tracks from Miss Ross’ late period at Motown: “Love Hangover” from her second eponymous album in 1976, and “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out” from 1980’s CHIC-helmed smash diana.  (Don’t miss a loving and truly comprehensive tribute to diana from one of our favorite scribes, Christian John Wikane, over at Popmatters.)  Following that Motor City appetizer, the set kicks into high gear with eleven tracks from the legendary singer’s oft-overlooked tenure at RCA, released between 1981 and 1985.  Highlights such as “Chain Reaction” and “Eaten Alive” are derived from the Barry Gibb production Eaten Alive, with the latter track providing a reunion between Ross and Michael Jackson.  Four songs have been taken from 1981’s Why Do Fools Fall in Love, including Ross’ solo version of “Endless Love.”  Silk Electric, Ross and Swept Away are also represented, with every track in pristinely remastered sound from Mark Wilder.  The No. 2 AC hit “All of You” with Julio Iglesias is among the Swept Away tracks you’ll find in this tasty survey of Ross at RCA.

Playlist - Donna SummerThe late Donna Summer gets feted with Playlist: The Very Best of Donna Summer.  Unlike most entries in Legacy’s series, this Playlist volume isn’t derived from the superstar diva’s original recordings but rather from a concert performance.  Summer’s blazing 1999 show at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom was previously captured on disc as VH1 Presents Donna Summer Live and More Encore, but Playlist premieres four previously unissued tracks from that concert (“Is There Music There,” “Riding Through the Storm,” “Don’t Wanna Work” and “Nobody”).  It adds up to a live summary of the legendary vocalist’s hit-filled career, with “MacArthur Park,” “On the Radio,” “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” (with Tina Arena filling in for Barbra Streisand), “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Bad Girls,” “Hot Stuff” and the inevitable “Last Dance” all making appearances.  Vlado Mellor has remastered at Sony Studios New York.  Those who already own Live and More will likely wish to grab this for the four newly-released songs and the remastered sound, but both discs are essential for the full program.  “My Life,” “Love is the Healer” and “I Will Go with You (Con te partirò)” are absent from the new Playlist.  The latter two songs were studio recordings added to the Live and More CD; Grammy nominee “I Will Go with You” was a No. 79 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and fared even better in the U.K., with a No. 44 chart berth.  In addition, both of the studio tracks reached the top spot on the U.S. dance chart.

Playlist - Billy OceanThough he’d been charting hits in the U.K. for nearly a decade prior, the Trinidad-born singer made his first major splash on the U.S. Hot 100 when “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” shot to No. 1, the same berth it occupied on the R&B chart.  The song began a hot streak for Ocean, the results of which are captured on Playlist: The Very Best of Billy Ocean.    The non-chronologically-sequenced 14-track set kicks off with “Caribbean Queen,” and also finds room for “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” (No. 2 Pop/No. 6 R&B), “Loverboy” (No. 2 Pop/No. 20 R&B), “Suddenly” (No. 4 Pop/No. 5 R&B) and “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” (No. 1 Pop/No. 1 R&B).  In all, six albums are represented, and every track has been remastered by Tom Ruff.

After the jump: details on Jeff Buckley, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Chet Atkins, Iggy Pop and the rest – plus full track listings with discography and order links for each and every title! Read the rest of this entry »

Cherry Red Fills in Gaps for April

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The Cherry Red label group has been insanely busy in recent weeks prepping expanded and remastered albums for consumption in England. We’ve already seen new releases from their Now Sounds, Big Break and Soul Music labels, but April will see a few other worthy titles for your consideration on the Cherry Red, Cherry Pop, El and Iron Bird labels.

First up is a reissue of How Long: The Very Best of Ace, one of the surprisingly few career-spanning sets by pub-rockers Ace. The band’s brief brush with success manifested through the excellent single “How Long,” a No. 3 hit in America. Ace, of course, was the first of many bands to feature vocalist/keyboardist Paul Carrack, who would later lend his talents to Squeeze’s East Side Story (1981) and Mike + The Mechanics in the mid-’80s and ’90s. This compilation, featuring a newly expanded and updated booklet, looks to be the start of a reissue campaign by the label. This one’s due out April 11 in the U.K. and a week later in America.

Coming from the same label on April 25 (again, a U.K. date) is an expansion of The Fall’s The Marshall Suite (1999). Not too dissimilar to the band’s early albums put out as “Omnibus Editions” by Beggars’ Archive, the chaotic post-punk band’s long-out-of-print techno-influenced semi-concept album will be augmented by a disc of B-sides, remixes and BBC sessions and another disc of a live concert for XFM Radio in 1999. This set will feature new liner notes by Daryl Easlea of MOJO.

Cherry Pop has a delightful oddity in a reissue of the debut album by Pepsi & Shirlie. The singing and dancing duo were best known as part of the back-up band for WHAM! in the mid-’80s, but All Right Now (1987) saw the girls collaborating with pop producers Stock Aitken Waterman on a mostly original set featuring U.K. Top 10 hits “Heartache” and “Goodbye Stranger.” In traditional Cherry Pop fashion, B-sides and remixes are the order of the day as expanded material goes, along with two mixes of a previously-unreleased tune from the era, “Who’s Gonna Catch You?” The expansion of All Right Now is also due April 25 in England.

The Iron Bird label, which specials in hard rock and metal reissues, has a “three-fer” collecting the first three albums by Warrant. The Hollywood-based hair-metal rockers rose to fame in 1989 with the No. 2 power ballad “Heaven,” but most fans know them for the poppy, eyebrow-raising “Cherry Pie,” a Top 10 hit from a year later. This two-disc set includes straight reissues of the band’s first three LPs for Columbia – Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (1988), Cherry Pie (1990) and Dog Eat Dog (1992) – but omits the bonus demos included on previous remasters by Legacy Recordings in the States. Still, for those looking for a bargain way to acquire all of these albums, this is your opportunity when it arrives in the U.K. on April 18.

Finally, an interesting early rock classic comes to El Records with some interesting (if not exactly relevant) bonus material. The Ventures might not be a household name to casual rock fans, but their influence is massive. The Tacoma, Washington duo were instrumental (no pun intended) in the development of guitar-based rock, experimenting with various effects and textures that would become staples of various rock genres. Their hit “Walk, Don’t Run” – easily one of the best surf-rock songs of all time, and an overall favorite of this author – was a deserved success, and set the band on a path of continued popularity and legacy, culminating with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. El reissues the Walk, Don’t Run album in both the original stereo and mono mixes, but also adds eight selected sides by Bert Weedon, an influential English jazz-rock guitarist who was one of the first to take a rock instrumental, “Guitar Boogie Shuffle,” toward the top of the U.K. charts. It’s a pretty neat history lesson, and it’s out April 18 in the United Kingdom.

Track lists and pre-order links are all available after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 30, 2011 at 11:36

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