Late in 2011, Ace curated the definitive chronicle of Rick Hall’s Fame Studios with The Fame Studios Story, a 3-CD box set including performances recorded at the storied Muscle Shoals, Alabama studio by artists including Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding, Irma Thomas and Aretha Franklin. The label has also expanded the Fame story with Hall of Fame volumes of previously unissued material and single-artist compilations dedicated to the likes of Clarence Carter, George Jackson, James Govan and Dan Penn. A new 2-CD set has just launched a three-volume series of The Complete Fame Singles.
This initial volume covers the period between 1964 and 1967 over 52 chronologically-sequenced A- and B-sides in original mono. Rick Hall opened Fame Studios in 1961, scoring a quick hit with Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” on the Dot label. In the early years, Hall issued records on the Fame and R and H labels, licensing out other Fame-recorded masters to larger national labels. But when Hall couldn’t find a buyer for the pivotal slice of southern soul “Steal Away” by Jimmy Hughes, he started a full-fledged record label of his own. That 1964 single, Fame catalogue number 6401, kicks off The Complete Fame Singles. Hall’s gamble paid off when “Steal Away” was picked up by Vee-Jay; that label, in turn, then agreed to distribute the new Fame label’s releases. Distribution was later famously picked up by Atlantic Records’ Atco division.
These two discs trace not just the development of the Muscle Shoals sound, but of the songwriting team of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham; individually or collectively, Penn and Oldham are responsible for 22 songs here. A full eleven of these 45s were recorded by Fame’s first star Jimmy Hughes, whose complete Fame singles output is included here. Other tracks come from Penn solo, Oldham as Spooner and The Spoons, Arthur Conley, and Clarence Carter, whose commercial breakthrough will arrive on the next volume of the series. Though most of the tracks fit in the smoldering southern soul bag, there are unexpected treats like the pop-rock of future Motown producer Terry Woodford, or Florida band The Villagers. The latter’s 1966 single encompassed Roy Whitley’s “Laugh It Off” backed with a cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.”
Co-producers Dean Rudland and Tony Rounce’s comprehensive track-by-track liner notes in the generously-illustrated color booklet fill in the details on both the artists and the history of Fame. Nick Robbins has remastered all of the tracks.
After the jump: travel to California with Music City and Doré Records! Plus: track listings and order links for all three titles! Read the rest of this entry »
Kritzerland Celebrates “Summer” With Jerome Kern and Alfred Newman, Goes “Hollywood” With Neal Hefti
At first blush, Kritzerland’s two new releases don’t have much in common – though one celebrates the Golden Age of Hollywood and one is actually from The Golden Age of Hollywood. But both titles hail from celebrated and influential composers, and both of these scores are making their first-ever appearances on soundtrack albums. The composers are the legendary Jerome Kern and the big band great-turned-swinging sixties theme titan Neal Hefti, and the films are Centennial Summer and Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood, respectively. And since two Heftis are better than one, the label is pairing the latter title with another treat from his pen: his score to the screen adaptation of (are you ready?) Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad.
1946’s Twentieth Century Fox musical Centennial Summer turned out to boast the final score by Jerome Kern (1885-1945). By the time of the film’s production, Kern had already advanced the art of the musical theatre with his groundbreaking work on musicals such as Show Boat. His work on Broadway and in Hollywood with a variety of talented lyricists turned out a catalogue of standards still performed today, including “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Ol’ Man River,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “I Won’t Dance,” “A Fine Romance,” “Pick Yourself Up,” and “All The Things You Are.” Though the first part of his career was largely dominated by writing for the stage, Kern had spent several years in California before permanently settling there in 1937 and concentrating on motion pictures. He penned his final Broadway score in 1939 with Very Warm for May but continued to write for the movies.
Centennial Summer, based on Albert E. Idell’s novel, was intended to capitalize on nostalgia in much the same escapist manner as MGM’s Meet Me in St. Louis had two years earlier, in 1944. Otto Preminger directed Jeanne Crain, Cornel Wilde, Walter Brennan, Linda Darnell and William Eythe in the story of one Philadelphia family’s exploits at the city’s 1876 Exposition. Kern was tapped to write the score, with lyrics from luminaries Oscar Hammerstein II, E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, and Leo Robin. He died in November 1945 the age of 60, but not before completing a score that would net him a posthumous Academy Award nomination for the song “All Through the Day,” written with Hammerstein. The film’s underscore and musical direction were both handled by the studio’s chief music man, Alfred Newman, who also received an Oscar nomination for his work on the picture.
Kritzerland’s Centennial Summer, featuring both Newman’s score and Kern’s songs including “Cinderella Sue,” “In Love in Vain” and “Up with the Lark,” is the first authorized release of the Centennial Summer soundtrack. The score has been transferred from original ¼” elements housed at Fox and newly restored by Mike Matessino. Kritzerland’s release is limited to 1,000 units, and is scheduled to ship by the first week of September, though pre-orders placed directly through the label usually arrive three to five weeks early.
Neal Hefti (1922-2008) didn’t come to Hollywood from Broadway but rather from the big band world. Serving in the mid-1940s in Woody Herman’s First Herd, trumpet player Hefti became a prolific composer and arranger, moving on to the Count Basie band in 1950. With Basie, Hefti came into his own. He composed and arranged Atomic Basie, considered the great pianist’s finest record, and scored at the Grammy Awards for the album. Hefti’s great gift during this period was the ability to tailor inventive arrangements to the identities and skills of the band’s members, and earned the praise of Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra for his ingenious work. Hefti diversified his efforts working on television with stars like Kate Smith, and when The Chairman enlisted him to arrange and conduct at his Reprise label, he answered. By the mid-1960s, Hefti was in demand in Hollywood as a soundtrack composer, turning out his arguably his two most memorable themes – for the soon-to-arrive-on-home-video Batman television show and for both the movie and sitcom The Odd Couple.
Kritzerland has the first-ever soundtrack release of Hefti’s final film score, for Paramount’s 1976 satire Won Ton Ton, or the Dog Who Saved Hollywood. The label’s Bruce Kimmel explains, “Won Ton Ton seems almost the end of an era. The cast included a huge number of cameos by an amazing array of Hollywood veterans, over fifty of them. The leading cast featured Bruce Dern, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr and Art Carney, and a brilliant performance by Augustus von Schumacher as Won Ton Ton. To the filmmakers, it must have seemed like a film that could not lose. The film came out, received middling reviews, and disappeared until the advent of home video and cable allowed people to find it and enjoy it for what it was – a fun, celebrity-filled lark with some truly amusing sequences. And the producers could not have made a better choice of film composer than the great Neal Hefti.”
After the jump: more on Won Ton Ton, plus the full track listings and pre-order links for both CDs! Read the rest of this entry »
Call Him The Breeze: Clapton and Friends Celebrate Music of J.J. Cale On New Album, Exclusive Box Set
In 2006, Eric Clapton teamed with singer-songwriter J.J. Cale for the collaborative album The Road to Escondido. The guitar god had long been a fan and patron of Cale’s; he included “After Midnight” on his 1970 solo debut and took “Cocaine” to the Top 30 in 1977. Escondido earned both men a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and it would prove to be among Cale’s final recordings. He released the album Roll On in 2009, featuring Clapton on its title track. Then, in 2013, Cale passed away at the age of 74. On July 29, Clapton pays homage to his old friend with The Breeze: An Appreciation of J.J. Cale. In the spirit of The Road to Escondido, Clapton has called on pals and admirers alike to celebrate Cale’s legacy, among them Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson, Derek Trucks and John Mayer. The Bushbranch/Surfdog Records release is being paired in a special online-exclusive box set with a disc of Cale’s original songs as covered on the new record, including three previously unissued tracks, as well as a special USB stick and more special content.
The Breeze takes its title from “Call Me the Breeze,” which Cale first recorded on his own solo debut, 1972’s Naturally. The song was picked up by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare and John Mayer; Clapton tackles it himself on The Breeze. Mayer joins Clapton on the new album for another Naturally tune, “Magnolia,” as well as for “Lies” (from 1973’s Really) and “Don’t Wait” (from 1982’s Grasshopper). Tom Petty, whose latest album with The Heartbreakers also arrives this summer, handles “Rock and Roll Records,” “The Old Man and Me” and “I Got the Same Old Blues,” all from 1974’s Okie. (Petty and his band covered the Okie track “I’d Like to Love You Baby” in concert, leading to its inclusion on their 2009 Live Anthology.) Cale’s country-blues style also appealed to Willie Nelson, who appears on The Breeze with “Starbound” from Okie and the previously unheard “Songbird.” Willie is supported on the former by The Allman Brothers Band’s Derek Trucks, who also is represented by “Crying Eyes” from Naturally.
Another guitar virtuoso, Mark Knopfler, is featured on two more previously unreleased Cale songs, “Someday” and “Train to Nowhere” with Don White. Cale helped White form his first band and played guitar in that unit; White pays tribute to his friend and mentor with two more tracks, as well – “Sensitive Kind” and “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me),” from 5 and Okie, respectively.
After the jump, we have full specs on the box set plus track listings, order links and more! Read the rest of this entry »
Masterworks 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!
Relight Their Fire: BBR Compiles Hits, Rarities For Loleatta Holloway, Skyy and Evelyn “Champagne” King
It’s no secret that Big Break Records, an imprint of Cherry Red Group, has mastered the art of the reissue when it comes to vintage R&B, soul and disco. But the label has expanded its horizons recently with a new series of deluxe 2-CD artist anthologies combining hits, rarities, remixes and key album tracks into one package. Three such titles are available now from the label, dedicated to the sensational Loleatta Holloway, “Shame” diva Evelyn “Champagne” King and the band Skyy.
Though Chicago-born Loleatta Holloway (1946-2011) only released four albums on Salsoul Records’ Gold Mind imprint between 1976 and 1980, the gospel-trained singer with the powerful, passionate voice made her mark by putting the soul in Salsoul. During her tenure at the label, Holloway not only headlined her own albums – with productions from R&B legends Norman Harris (also Gold Mind’s chief) and Bobby Womack as well as her husband Floyd Smith – but her voice graced tracks by The Salsoul Orchestra (the galvanic “Run Away” and “Seconds”) and Bunny Sigler (the romantic “Only You”). Dreamin’: The Loleatta Holloway Anthology (1976-1982) begins with Holloway’s arrival at Salsoul following a brief but pivotal tenure at Atlanta’s Aware Records where she charted with the single “Cry to Me.” Salsoul transitioned Holloway into the disco market, but with Harris primarily at the helm, she never lost sight of her deep soul roots.
The chronologically-assembled Dreamin’ selects highlights from Holloway’s four Gold Mind releases (all of which are available in expanded editions from BBR). From label debut Loleatta, you’ll hear six songs including the defiant roar of Allan Felder, Ron Tyson and Norman Harris’ R&B and Disco chart single “Hit and Run,” arranged and produced by Harris in pull-out-all-the-stops mode. “Dreamin’,” which gives this compilation its title, afforded Holloway spoken monologues to which she committed the same level of fervor as she did singing. T.G. Conway arranged the sassy Philly soul update of a girl group record – with prominent backup vocals – with Holloway confronting another woman with eyes for her man. “Dreamin’” should have gotten Loleatta to the top of the pops, but alas, the track only hit No. 72 on the U.S. Pop chart. Before completing her second LP Queen of the Night, Loleatta joined The Salsoul Orchestra’s leader Vince Montana Jr. for “Run Away,” an effervescent opus that reached No. 3 on the Disco chart with an impossibly catchy hook and a deliciously elaborate production.
Five songs have been reprised from Queen of the Night including the sensual Bunny Sigler duet “Only You” and Walter Gibbons’ 12-inch mix of “Catch Me on the Rebound” showcasing Holloway’s forceful vocal style, and co-writer/producer Harris’ array of liquid guitar licks, swelling strings, funky bass, nonstop percussion and punchy horns. 1979’s self-titled album yields another four cuts here including a funky reworking of Burt Bacharach, Mack David and Luther Dixon’s “Baby It’s You” as a duet with its producer Bobby Womack, and Floyd Smith’s production of the anthem “The Greatest Performance of My Life.” Loleatta’s final Gold Mind platter, 1980’s Love Sensation, earned Holloway a Disco No. 1 with its Dan Hartman-helmed title song, one of four songs from the LP heard here.
Hartman figures prominently on Dreamin’. Not only is “Love Sensation” here in Tom Moulton’s mix, but this is the very first Holloway compendium ever to include “Vertigo/Relight My Fire,” Hartman’s sizzling smash featuring Holloway which also reached No. 1 on the Disco chart in 1979. Other highlights include “Seconds,” a reunion with The Salsoul Orchestra from their 1982 Patrick Adams-produced collection Heat It Up, and Walter Gibbons’ 12-inch remix of “Hit and Run.” Wayne A. Dickson and Malcolm McKenzie have produced this beautiful set (housed in a Super Jewel Box) which features remastering by Nick Robbins, a fine, concise essay by Christian John Wikane and an appreciation from such luminaries as Tom Moulton, Bobby Eli, Bob Esty, Bunny Sigler, Patrick Adams and the late Bobby Womack. Loleatta Holloway might not have reached the pop stardom of her contemporaries – Eli opines in his note that she “should have been just as big or even bigger than Aretha Franklin” – but her scorching brand of soulful disco hasn’t aged a day.
After the jump: the full track listing and order links for Dreamin’, plus the scoop on the releases from Skyy and Evelyn “Champagne” King! Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
You’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!)