Little Feat, Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990 (Warner Bros./Rhino)
The eclectic rock band’s near two-decade run on Warner Bros. is celebrated in this new box set, featuring all the band’s original studio albums, an expanded edition of the live Waiting for Columbus and a bonus disc of recordings sourced from the band’s 2000 box set Hotcakes & Outtakes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
The Grass Roots, The Complete Original Dunhill/ABC Hit Singles / Irma Thomas, Full Time Woman — The Lost Cotillion Album / Professor Longhair, The Last Mardi Gras / Dr. John, The Night Tripper, Gris Gris / David Ruffin, My Whole World Ended/Feelin’ Good / David Ruffin, David Ruffin/Me ‘N Rock ‘N Roll Are Here to Stay / Marilyn McCoo, Solid Gold (Expanded Edition) / Charley Pride, The Gospel Collection (Real Gone Music)
Real Gone’s March madness features a host of titles, including two Mardi Gras-themed offerings from two New Orleans legends: Dr. John’s first album and a double-disc live set from jazz pianist Professor Longhair.
The Grass Roots: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Irma Thomas: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Professor Longhair: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Dr. John: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
David Ruffin #1: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
David Ruffin #2: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Marilyn McCoo: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Charley Pride: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Bob Dylan, The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Columbia/Legacy)
This multi-artist live tribute to The Bard, recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1992, is reissued as an expanded CD set as well as in a newly-restored DVD or Blu-Ray version with unreleased performances and behind-the-scenes footage.
Before Marc Bolan hit the sweet spot, 1970 saw him cutting two albums – the last credited to “Tyrannosaurus Rex” and the first credited to “T. Rex,” respectively – that saw him moving from psych-folk to the kind of music that made him a legend. Both albums are expanded with unreleased demos, outtakes and single material (including beloved glam cut “Ride a White Swan”).
Rufus Wainwright, Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright (DGC/Interscope/UMe)
A greatest-hits compilation from the theatrical singer-songwriter, son of fellow-renowned musician Loudon Wainwright III.
Light in the Attic kicks off its new Vanguard Vault series exploring the “obscure, non-traditional side of the legendary Vanguard Records archive” with the 1972 self-titled album from Bob Frank (“the best songwriter you never heard” per Big Star producer Jim Dickinson) and the rare 1968 follow-up to Peter Walker’s mystical psych-folk Rainy Day Raga LP.
New, Steve Hoffman-mastered editions of two classic titles on hybrid SACD.
He’s called it “the worst record I ever made,” but Neil Young’s putting his 1973 live album Time Fades Away back into print for only the second time, as part of a limited box set for Record Store Day.
The Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 5-8 box set, limited to 3,500 copies at participating independent retailers on this year’s Record Store Day events on April 19, will feature 180-gram reissues of Time Fades Away, On the Beach (1974), Tonight’s the Night (1975) and Zuma (1975), newly remastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering, pressed at Pallas MFG Germany and featuring reproduced artwork overseen by Young’s longtime designer Gary Burden. (In 2009, the first volume in this box set series was released, featuring similarly lush vinyl reissues of Neil Young (1968), Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969), After the Gold Rush (1970) and Harvest (1972).)
Time Fades Away, for its own part, remains a crucial link in Young’s early career. A live album backed by Young’s Harvest-era band The Stray Gators (pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, pianist Jack Nitzsche, bassist Tim Drummond and drummer Johnny Barbata) and consisting entirely of new material, Time Fades Away was recorded on a lengthy tour marred by alcohol abuse, erratic behavior and, by the trek’s end, a throat infection that required David Crosby and Graham Nash to supply some much-needed support. Recorded directly from the soundboard to 16-track by a Quad-8 CompuMix, the first digital mixer of its kind, the album retained a murky, uncertain quality, but critics were quick to praise it. Despite this, Young has largely disavowed its existence, dismissing the “audio verite” approach in a liner notes passage that was cut from the beloved Decade compilation in 1977. A 1995 HDCD release was scrapped late in development, and despite constant petitions there appear to be no plans to issue the album anywhere other than vinyl. (Young did indicate that a “sequel” drawn from alternate selections on the same tour would appear in the long-gestating Archives Vol. 2 box set.)
A little over four decades after its first release, Canadian rockers Rush will reissue their first album on high-quality vinyl in April.
Rush, the band’s self-titled debut on the band’s own label Moon Records, was a primitive but promising start for the band. Singer/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer John Rutsey (who, within a year’s time, would be replaced by current drummer Neil Peart) turned out a low-fidelity but enthusiastic batch of originals bearing a stronger resemblance to other ’60s and ’70s hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Cream than their later, more progressive, genre-defining works.
Only 3,500 copies of the album were pressed on first run, but one of those made their way to Cleveland disc jockey Donna Halper of WMMS-FM, who added album cut “Working Man” to her playlists. The album was quickly repressed and reissued by Mercury Records from the same album master; later pressings featured a remix by producer Terry Brown, who would helm several of the band’s classics including 2112 and Moving Pictures.
This special box set reissue, part of UMe’s “ReDISCovered” vinyl series, goes back to the original analog stereo master, “cut to copper plates using the Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) process at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.” The 200-gram audiophile vinyl pressing will be packaged in a recreation of the original Moon Records sleeve, down to the original matrix number etched into the disc, and will also feature “a 16″ x 22″ reproduction of the first Rush promo poster, three 5″ x 7″ lithographs of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey, a 12″ x 12″ Rush Family Tree poster, and a digital download card,” all in a lidded custom box.
You can pre-order the set at the link below; it’s available on April 15.
Rush: ReDISCovered Box Set (originally released as Moon Records MN-100, 1974 – reissued Mercury/UMe, 2014)
- Finding My Way
- Need Some Love
- Take a Friend
- Here Again
- What You’re Doing
- In the Mood
- Before and After
- Working Man
The careers of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin have been inextricably linked since Franklin entered New York’s Atlantic Studios on Valentine’s Day, 1967, with producer Jerry Wexler to record Redding’s “Respect.” Even before that pivotal moment, however, the two artists shared a label in Atlantic Records (distributor of Redding’s Stax records) and an ability to invest any song with raw honesty and unvarnished emotion. Atlantic and Rhino Records have recently issued two newly remastered 4-CD retrospectives dedicated to Redding and Franklin: respectively, The King of Soul and The Queen of Soul.
“Respect” was originally cut by the soul shouter supreme and producer Steve Cropper at Stax’s Memphis, Tennessee studios in July 1965, and became his second-biggest pop hit to that point. In Redding’s original, he’s insistent as he addresses his woman. His intensity is as blazing as the song’s horns are frantically bleating. She can do him wrong, do what she wants to, take his money – but he demands “a little respect” when he comes home. It’s what he wants, sure. But moreover, it’s what he needs. It’s no surprise that Redding’s urgent entreaty to maintain his pride and self-worth took on greater depth against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. Redding’s personal plea had universal resonance.
When Franklin approached “Respect,” she turned it on its ear. Whereas Redding asked, “What you want? Honey, you got it! What you need, baby you got it!,” Aretha taunted with equal measures of command and sass, “What you want? Baby, I got it! What you need? You know I got it!” Franklin and Wexler fleshed the song out, adding an instrumental bridge courtesy of saxophone great King Curtis, and dialing up the funk but relaxing the frenetic tempo. Aretha, with her sisters/background singers Erma and Carolyn, also personalized the song, throwing in some indelible ad libs (“Sock it to me,” “Take care, T.C.B.!”) and demanding her “propers.” She might give her man all her money, but there’s no doubt of who’s in control. The anthemic quality already inherent in Otis’ “Respect” came to the fore in Aretha’s empowered reading, which was crowned by one final, key touch – the spelling out of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Her electrifying reinvention went to the top of both the Pop and R&B (Black Singles) charts, prompting Redding to kiddingly stammer that it was the song “that a girl took away from me, a friend of mine, this girl, she just took this song!”
“Respect,” of course, features on both box sets – twice on Redding’s collection, once in the studio and once in a live setting. But that immortal song is just the tip of the iceberg for these compilations. In addition to offering a wealth of some of the most sublime soul music ever recorded, The King of Soul and The Queen of Soul serve as affordable, no-frills primers for those who don’t own all of the artists’ individual Atlantic albums on compact disc. The Redding set is particularly valuable in this regard; while most of Franklin’s CD releases are still in print, Rhino’s reissues of Redding’s Stax/Volt/Atco catalogue are considerably more difficult to find.
The King of Soul (Atlantic/Rhino R2 541306, 2014) coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the late legend’s debut album, 1964’s Pain in My Heart. Over its 92 tracks, these four discs trace Redding’s meteoric rise to superstar status, spanning the fast and furious period between 1962 and his tragic passing in 1967. King of Soul draws on both studio and live recordings, including key singles and tracks from such landmark albums as 1965’s Otis Blue, 1967’s Carla Thomas duets set King and Queen, and 1968’s posthumously-released The Dock of the Bay. Every one of Redding’s original studio albums through 1970 is represented here, and compiler Reggie Collins has also drawn upon the 1968 various-artists album Soul Christmas and 1993’s lavish, now out-of-print Rhino box set Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding. (Collins was credited as the “research director” on that box.) As Redding’s catalogue is limited in size, some albums are nearly-complete here, such as 1965’s torrid Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul. Ten out of the original LP’s eleven tracks are reprised. (The lone omission is Redding’s version of the Sam Cooke hit “Wonderful World.”) As Stax did not begin recording in stereo until 1965, the majority of the first three CDs are in mono; the fourth disc is nearly all-stereo.
After the jump: more on Otis, plus the lowdown on Aretha’s Queen of Soul! Read the rest of this entry »
If there’s some truth to the importance of being in the right place at the right time, Johnny Winter might attest to it. The slide guitar virtuoso came up in the ranks of show business when blues-rock was rising in popularity. He embodied an American alternative to Clapton, Page or Mayall, and offered a grittier take than Hendrix, more of the earth than the cosmos. Since debuting in 1969, Winter has rarely strayed from his signature style even as he’s stretched its boundaries, remaining True to the Blues. And that’s the entirely-fitting title chosen for Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings’ new large-scale retrospective of his still-strong career. Over four CDs and 58 tracks, True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story stands a testament not just to the soul and inspiration of its subject but to the durability of the blues idiom itself. If stylistic diversity isn’t one of the strong suits of True to the Blues, its subject’s artistic consistency is certainly one of its hallmarks.
Following an incendiary guest spot at New York’s Fillmore East, the Mississippi-born, Texas-raised albino scored what was reportedly the biggest-ever sum paid to a new signing to Columbia Records: $600,000.00. (Remember: that’s in 1969 dollars!) Mike Bloomfield (subject of another recent, engrossing box set from Columbia/Legacy) introduced his friend Winter at the Fillmore East in December, 1968 as “the baddest motherfucker,” adding an understated “This cat can play!” for good measure. Coming from the great Bloomfield, that was no small compliment. The proof is in the pudding, a scorching 11-minute jam on B.B. King’s “It’s My Own Fault.” It’s just one electrifying moment for blues-rock devotees here.
The chronologically-sequenced (in order of recording, not release) box set draws on 27 albums originally released on labels including Liberty/Imperial, Columbia, Blue Sky/Epic, Alligator, Point Blank/Virgin, Friday Music, Collectors’ Choice Music, Megaforce and Legacy. It traces his development as an artist both in studio and live settings, accompanied by a number of greats including Bloomfield and Al Kooper, Dr. John, Derek Trucks, Booker T. Jones, Muddy Waters and even Vince Gill. Though Winter’s licks were torrid, an underlying, infectious joy in sharing this music often permeated his approach.
His swaggering attitude was exemplified on Second Winter, his sophomore Columbia studio effort from 1969 (and that rarest of creatures, a double-LP set with only three sides of music!). Winter kicked Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” up a notch via a startlingly-reinvented, rip-roaring take, with his near-spoken delivery as idiosyncratic as Dylan’s own. If Winter’s singing voice might have kept him from greater success – the same was often said of Bloomfield – his harsh, throaty yelp was never less than wholly authentic. (For comparison’s sake, the box set also makes room for a 1993 blazing live version of “Highway 61” from Dylan’s 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, on which the still-fiery Winter is backed by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn of Booker T. and the M.G.’s, plus G.E. Smith and session vets Anton Fig and Jim Keltner.) The inclusion of Dylan, Percy Mayfield (“Memory Pain”) and Little Richard (“Miss Ann,” with a tasty saxophone solo from Edgar) covers alongside his own material like the breakneck “Hustled Down in Texas” on Second Winter typified Winter’s catholic tastes. His style enlivened R&B, rock and roll, rockabilly and soul, all of which are represented on True to the Blues. And as for that vocal instrument? Winter is almost sweet on a 1977 cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do” from his White, Hot and Blue album.
Unsurprisingly, each of the four discs contains a substantial amount of live material, as Winter’s rawest performances have been among his finest. True to the Blues heats up early with “Leland Mississippi Blues” from Woodstock (backed by brother Edgar on keyboards, plus Tommy Shannon on bass and “Uncle” John Turner on drums). So powerful was Winter’s performance at Yasgur’s Farm that the band sounds much larger than its actual size. His guttural growl and strutting guitar pyrotechnics upped the rock quotient and certainly must have brought some of the audience members down to earth from a heightened level of consciousness!
Just as good are three previously unreleased performances from the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival, with Johnny backed once again by Edgar, plus two members of The McCoys (“Hang On Sloopy,” “Fever”) – Rick Derringer and Randy Hobbs. With Derringer, Hobbs and Rick’s brother Randy Zehringer, Johnny formed the band Johnny Winter And. Fellow guitarist Rick spurred Winter on to even more creativity when their axes were pitted in battle. The band’s 1970 eponymous studio album introduced Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” the most commercial song Winter had recorded to that point. The vocals were a bit clearer, the musical interplay a little tighter, but the raw power and searing guitar pyrotechnics and flair still intact. Heavy metal thunder courses through the psychedelic “Guess I’ll Go Away” while Winter’s rapport with Derringer is evident on the drawling “Out on a Limb.” High-octane covers in the muscular, fluid power-blues manner are highlights throughout True to the Blues; he even out-performs The Rolling Stones on their own “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” in a 1971 performance with his band “Johnny Winter And” from the long-shuttered Florida amusement park Pirate’s World. But Winter’s own ample contributions to the blues-rock songbook are also plentiful.
After the jump, we have much more on Johnny! Read the rest of this entry »
Talk about fusion! For “Hands Down,” the opening cut of his 1979 album Relight My Fire, Dan Hartman enlisted rock and roll great Edgar Winter to weave his alto saxophone licks throughout the Latin-flavored disco track, and Stevie Wonder to provide his instantly recognizable harmonica. Hartman wasn’t just a dilettante, but a regular musical renaissance man. A veteran of the Johnny Winter Band and the Edgar Winter Group, he wrote the latter’s smash hit “Free Ride,” and successfully completed the transition to solo stardom with 1978’s “Instant Replay,” a No. 1 Disco hit that also reached the Pop Top 30. In the eighties, he revitalized James Brown’s career with “Living in America” and gave blue-eyed soul a contemporary makeover with “I Can Dream About You.” The title song of “Relight My Fire,” on which Hartman was joined by Salsoul queen Loleatta Holloway, proved that he could capture the disco magic twice, as the song remained atop the Billboard dance chart for six weeks. In 1993, it became a hit all over again for Take That and Lulu. Now, thanks to Hot Shot Records, Hartman’s Fire has once again been relit.
Over just six tracks – all written by Hartman, who also played keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and percussion on the album – Relight My Fire pulsates with the energy of the era as filtered through Hartman’s pop sensibility. It was a catholic sensibility that made the musician and songwriter adaptable to pop, rock and soul settings. For the album centerpiece “Vertigo/Relight My Fire,” Hartman traveled to Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios and enlisted veteran Norman Harris (Blue Magic, The O’Jays) to arrange and conduct. Harris brought his sublime orchestrated style to the introductory “Vertigo” as well as to the main body of the sizzling, catchy “Relight My Fire,” with a typically passionate duet vocal from Loleatta Holloway. (Harris had also frequently produced Holloway at Salsoul.) Whether in the original, nearly 10-minute album version of “Vertigo/Relight My Fire” or the 3+-minute single edit of “Relight” (among the six bonus tracks on Hot Shot’s reissue), Hartman and Holloway’s musical invitation can’t be denied.
“Just for Fun” (“Just do what makes you feel all right…If you’re hungry for some good times now, don’t be late, let me show you how!”) is lyrically in the good-time, hedonistic vein expected of a disco record, and the singer’s enthusiasm is infectious, as is his boogie piano solo. (The piano has a bit of the flavor of another disco anthem, Peter Allen’s “I Go to Rio.”) The same goes for the bubbly “I Love Makin’ Music,“ which flows out of “Just for Fun” and epitomizes what could have been Hartman’s personal credo throughout his all-too-short 43 years. “Love makin’ music, love makin’ love,” the female background vocalist coo during the track, but on Relight My Fire, the two acts seem synonymous. Hartman’s disco remake of his own “Free Ride” is surprisingly effective. If it doesn’t replace the original, it succeeds on the strength of the song’s abundant melody, signature riff and energetic performance here.
After the jump, we have more on Relight My Fire, plus a look at Hot Shot’s rediscovery of actress-singer Sheryl Lee Ralph’s foray into contemporary R&B! Read the rest of this entry »
Deep Purple’s monstrous power as a live act was solidified more than four decades ago with the release of their first live album, Made in Japan. This May, a tidal wave of Made in Japan reissues are surging your way, from remasters to expansions to box sets on CD, vinyl and Blu-Ray. (Whew!)
In 1972, Deep Purple were flying higher than ever. The quintet – at the time, singer Ian Gillan, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Roger Glover, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice – had just released their sixth album in five years (and third with the Mk II lineup), Machine Head. It was their first chart-topper in their native England, and also went Top 10 in the States. By this time, the band had quite a sterling reputation as a live act, but were reluctant to attempt a live album for fear they could not produce the exact kind of polished set they could in studio.
Ultimately, upon discovering a burgeoning bootleg market around their tours, they relented, recording three consecutive nights in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan (where the band were particularly adored). Focusing solely on putting on a great show and less on how the final product would sound (to this day, members of the band have reportedly never heard the album), Deep Purple’s gamble paid off handsomely. A single backed with both studio and live versions of the instant classic (and arguable progenitor of heavy metal) “Smoke on the Water” was a U.S. Top 5 hit. The album went Top 10 in America and Top 20 in England, eventually earning a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America for over a million units shipped.
Given the hallowed status of the album, there have been several reissues of the Japan shows. A 1993 box set collected much of the three sets, and further parts were included on an expanded reissue of the album proper in 1998. But what have Universal U.K. got planned for this (almost) 40th anniversary celebration? Read on after the jump.