How to describe the career trajectory of Sam Phillips? Leslie Ann Phillips first made a splash in the music world recording contemporary Christian pop in 1983, took the name “Sam,” moved to the mainstream in the late 1980s with then-husband T Bone Burnett at the production helm, and even threatened Bruce Willis as an onscreen nemesis (albeit a mute one!) in Die Hard with a Vengeance! Sam Phillips continues to write and record today, focusing her efforts on a digital subscription service of new music as well as on composing for the new ABC Family television series Bunheads. The gang at Omnivore Recordings, however, is turning the clock back for an expanded edition of Phillips’ 1994 Martinis & Bikinis. Her third outing for Virgin Records following 1989’s aptly-titled The Indescribable Wow and 1991’s Cruel Inventions, Martinis & Bikinis has never been released on vinyl till now. Both the vinyl and CD editions will be bolstered by four bonus tracks.
Like her past efforts for Virgin as well as her final release as Leslie Phillips, Martinis & Bikinis was produced by T Bone Burnett. Van Dyke Parks brought his singular talents as an arranger, and a team of musicians was enlisted to join Phillips including R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, John Zorn) and Jerry Scheff (Elvis Presley’s TCB Band).
Martinis & Bikinis was hailed by critics upon its release for steadfastly maintaining Phillips’ own voice and love of Beatles-influenced pop. In the New York Times, Alec Foege praised the “haunting arrangements” and “melodic phrases quoted from Beatles hits,” and concluded that “what’s surprising is that such gorgeous tunes aren’t topping the charts.” (That love of The Beatles’ pure songcraft extended to a cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” which closed the original album.) Phillips went on to score a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal for the album’s “Circle of Fire.”
Hit the jump for more details on Omnivore’s new reissue!
The new Martinis & Bikinis has been remastered by Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen at Lurssen Mastering. The 2-LP vinyl edition has been cut at Capitol Mastering by Ron McMaster; it is a limited edition of 1,500 copies pressed on white vinyl. Phillips commented on the new release, “When Martinis & Bikinis was released in 1994, it was my first CD-only release; it was never released on vinyl. Because we recorded to analog tape and because it’s my favorite cover art of all my own albums, I am happy to finally have a vinyl version available — in shiny white vinyl no less!”
Four bonus tracks have been included on both the CD and vinyl versions: “I Need Love (with The Section Quartet),” “Black Sky (Version 2),” the new “Strawberry Road (2012 Version),” and a remix of “Fighting with Fire” which first appeared on the compilation Zero Zero Zero in 1998. The bonus version of “I Need Love (with The Section Quartet)” can be previewed here on YouTube:
Phillips is currently finishing work on her ninth full-length LP in addition to composing and performing for Bunheads. The expanded Martinis & Bikinis will arrive in stores on July 17 from Omnivore Recordings, and can be pre-ordered now at the link below!
- Love and Kisses
- Same Rain
- Baby I Can’t Please You
- Circle of Fire
- Strawberry Road
- When I Fall
- Same Changes
- Black Sky
- Fighting with Fire
- I Need Love
- Wheel of the Broken Voice
- Gimme Some Truth
- I Need Love (with The Section Quartet)
- Fighting with Fire (remix)
- Black Sky (Version 2)
- Strawberry Road (2012 Version)
Tracks 14-15 previously unreleased on LP
Tracks 16-17 previously unreleased