The holiday season must be upon us, for Real Gone Music has announced its Christmas-themed offerings – but that’s not all! The enterprising label has two offerings with Apple Records ties (one actually from the Apple catalogue!), the complete singles of a soul legend, a counterculture classic, a distinctly non-counterculture classic, and well…just read on about the rest!
First up, four more of Johnny Mathis’ long-unavailable Mercury Records LPs are arriving on CD for the first time! (Read about the first batch and Mathis’ history with the label here!) On November 6, Real Gone pairs 1964’s This Is Love, one of the romantic balladeer’s most sublime efforts, with one of his most unusual: 1965’s Olé. Featuring Latin songs sung in Spanish and Portuguese (including two from the groundbreaking bossa nova film score to Black Orpheus) Olé finds Mathis tackling challenging repertoire, including light classical, aided by Allyn Ferguson’s authentic arrangements. The next two albums arriving from Real Gone are more traditional, yet no less worthwhile. The Sweetheart Tree (1965) is titled after Henry Mancini’s theme from The Great Race, while The Shadow of Your Smile (1966) takes its cue from the Johnny Mandel/Paul Francis Webster song from The Sandpiper. The former largely sees Mathis wrapping his velvety vocals around familiar standards, while the latter takes a more contemporary bent with two Beatles tunes, three songs from Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane’s Broadway musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, “A Taste of Honey” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Corcovado.” (The Sweetheart Tree was issued in the U.K. with a rejiggered track line-up including some additional songs. Based on the current track listing supplied to Amazon, it doesn't appear that the non-U.S. tracks have been included, but we'll report back should we find otherwise!)
Over at Atlantic Records, Barbara Lewis was making her way up the charts with such sensual, memorable soul ballads as “Hello Stranger” (which she wrote!), “Baby I'm Yours” and “Make Me Your Baby.” The 2-CD The Complete Atlantic Singles is the first truly exhaustive survey of Lewis’ sixties tenure at Atlantic, and contains tracks penned by Lewis, Chip Taylor, Billy Vera and Van McCoy, as well as productions by Bert Berns, Arif Mardin and Artie Butler. The set contains the A-sides and B-sides of all 17 singles she issued for the label, many of which are making their debut on CD. Lewis has contributed to Richie Unterberger’s liner notes. It’s due on November 6.
After the jump: a veritable feast of Christmas classics! Plus: Real Gone takes a bite out of the Apple, and pre-order links for all titles!
The highlight of Real Gone’s holiday bonanza is undoubtedly a deluxe edition of Percy Faith’s 1954 classic simply titled The Music of Christmas. As the label points out, “you know a Christmas album is classic when it gets re-recorded in stereo five years after its initial release, when that re-recording hits the charts a full five years after its initial release, and when the record company goes to the trouble of giving a subsequent Christmas album the same name a full seven years after its initial release under a different title. There’s only one Christmas album (or one album, period) that fits all these criteria: Percy Faith’s 1954 masterpiece, The Music of Christmas!” Yet the original mono recording by Columbia Records mainstay Faith has never before appeared on CD, although the 1959 stereo re-recording has remained in print all of these years. Disc One of Real Gone’s The Complete Music of Christmas features that original mono LP, while Disc Two presents the original stereo version of Faith’s 1958 release Hallelujah!, which wasretitled The Music of Christmas Volume 2 in 1965. The Complete Music of Christmas, a 2-CD set, has been freshly remastered by Maria Triana. It arrives on November 13.
Two more titles were previously issued by Collectors’ Choice Music and are returning to the catalogue from Real Gone. One of The Second Disc’s most popular articles of 2011 was dedicated to Doris Day’s My Heart, her first album of unheard studio material in seventeen years. So we’re happy to report that Doris Day’s The Complete Christmas Collection, a 22-track collection containing Doris’ complete, holiday-themed recordings, is back on CD from Real Gone. The 2008 compilation is currently fetching over $80.00 a pop at Amazon.com secondhand, but it can be yours for considerably less! Its first 12 tracks originate on 1964’s The Doris Day Christmas Album, and they’re joined by a plethora of rarities: two tracks she recorded with Frank DeVol in 1959, five non-LP Columbia singles, and two songs from her early-’50s radio show and her late-’60s CBS-TV show, respectively. The set concludes with an Day’s stirring performance of “Let No Walls Divide” from Columbia’s all-star Christmas album We Wish You the Merriest from 1961. Its release date is October 30.
That same day, Real Gone reissues The Complete RCA Christmas Collection of the one and only Mr. Perry Como. The 2010 set has been seeing an asking price of $188.00 used and $400.00 new (yes, you read that right!) and now it can be yours for around 25 bucks! Every one of the holiday-themed recordings Perry made for RCA over 36 years taken was remastered from the original tapes for this compilation, with excellent liner notes supplied by his longtime admirer (and co-producer of this anthology) Richard Carpenter. You’ll get 53 Christmas classics performed as only the smooth crooner could, from 1946’s 78-rpm album Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas all the way through Perry’s final holiday recording from 1982, “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Forever.” Only 1,000 copies of this 53-track collection (chock-filled with both familiar songs and true rarities) were made in 2010 before it went out of print, but it’s yours to own once again from Real Gone on October 30.
In another vein entirely is the soundtrack to director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surreal 1970 quasi-western El Topo remains one of the controversial movies ever made. Jodorowsky composed the score himself, creating a tapestry of music that’s as offbeat as the film itself, encompassing “atonal, Tibetan Buddhist thighbone trumpets [with] beautiful, even sentimental, chamber orchestra pieces alongside pan flute rhapsodies, brass bands and parlor jazz,” according to the Real Goners. The label has teamed with ABKCO Music & Records to reissue the original 1971 Apple Records release on both CD and vinyl. This surreal trip of an album has been out of print since that initial LP release, and Real Gone and ABKCO have retained all design elements of the original packaging (including a four-page booklet featuring some of the film’s hallucinogenic imagery). This favorite of Beatle John joins Doris and Perry on October 30.
Another favorite of the aforesaid Mr. Lennon was David Peel. The recent Occupy Wall Street protestor and longtime musical agitator made his LP debut in 1968 on the Elektra label with his band, beginning a career of political and song-filled mayhem. David Peel & the Lower East Side’s Have a Marijuana caught the ear of Lennon, who produced the even more controversial 1972 Apple LP controversially entitled The Pope Smokes Dope. Have a Marijuana, however, was hardly less shocking (and even managed to crack the lower end of the Billboard 200). As Real Gone points out, “songs as ‘Up Against the Wall,’ ‘I Like Marijuana’ and ‘Here Comes a Cop’ may embody for some the worst excesses of the hippie movement while reminding others of the enduring struggle for social justice and personal freedom. Or they might just provoke a guffaw or two—or maybe a Yippie.” Whatever your view on this cultural curio, Have a Marijuana makes for fascinating listening. Real Gone brings you its first-ever domestic stand-alone CD release on October 30, with original album art and new liner notes featuring quotes from Peel himself.
Chances are that David Peel’s audience wasn’t a big fan of SSgt. Barry Sadler’s Ballads of the Green Berets(1966). Sadler tapped into the “silent majority” not participating in antiwar demonstrations or protests for peace, with his album of patriotic anthems. The album sold two million copies in five weeks, the the title track reached #1 and #2 in the pop and country charts, respectively, and John Wayne even starred in a movie based on the song! The Real Gone reissue has also been rescued from the Collectors' Choice catalogue, and it's to be released October 30 with the original artwork of the RCA Victor LP, new liner notes and a bonus track, SSgt. Sadler’s hit follow-up single, “The ‘A’-Team.”
Order links and street dates can be found below for all titles!
October 30, 2012:
El Topo Soundtrack (LP & CD)
David Peel & the Lower East Side, Have a Marijuana
Perry Como, Complete RCA Christmas Collection
Doris Day, The Complete Christmas Collection
SSgt. Barry Sadler, Ballads of the Green Berets
November 6, 2012:
Barbara Lewis, The Complete Atlantic Singles
Johnny Mathis, This Is Love/Olé
Johnny Mathis, The Sweetheart Tree/The Shadow of Your Smile
November 13, 2012: