Real Gone Music is hoping to make you so very happy with its first release slate of 2014! On January 7, the Real Goners compile for the very first time The Complete Columbia Singles of jazz-rock pioneers Blood Sweat & Tears, offer up The Complete Atlantic Recordings of the soul great Bettye Swann (“Make Me Yours”), unearth another vintage Grateful Dead show, and recover the lone long-player of R&B singer-songwriter Samuel Jonathan Johnson.
Despite 1968’s strong debut Child is Father of the Man, with Al Kooper as chief songwriter, Blood, Sweat & Tears quickly parted ways with founding members Kooper, Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss. Just months later, the group re-emerged with a new, self-titled album, adding Lew Soloff, Jerry Hyman, Chuck Winfield and Canadian lead vocalist David Clayton-Thomas to the mix. (Bobby Colomby, Steve Katz, Jim Fielder, Dick Halligan and Fred Lipsius all remained in the band.) Blood, Sweat & Tears, produced by James William Guercio (The Buckinghams, Chicago), rocketed the band to superstardom with the hit singles “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and “And When I Die.” And Clayton-Thomas quickly established himself as a contender for the title of best blue-eyed soul vocalist out there. Real Gone’s 2-CD set The Complete Columbia Singles offers all three of those smashes in their original mono mixes, plus 29 more single sides (five of which are making their CD debuts) all in original 45 RPM versions. The first eight tracks are in mono; the remaining cuts are in stereo.
Blood, Sweat & Tears was a platinum-selling, Grammy-winning Album of the Year. But inner turmoil still plagued the band. 1970’s follow-up Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 also reached No. 1, but following 1971’s fourth album, Clayton-Thomas, Halligan and Lipsius all departed for greener pastures. Clayton-Thomas was back in the fold by 1975, but the time for Blood, Sweat & Tears had passed. The band continued to record, with diminishing returns, despite the presence of well-known producers including Steve Tyrell, Bob James, Henry Cosby and Jimmy Ienner. BS&T’s final studio album for Columbia was released in 1976. Producer Ed Osborne's new liner notes include recollections from founding member Steve Katz, and the entire set has been remastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios in NYC. The Complete Columbia Singles looks to be a definitive anthology from one of the most underrated bands of the era.
After the jump: a look at the rest of the Real Gone line-up, plus pre-order links for all titles!
The complete treatment also goes to Bettye Swann. The Louisiana-born singer first made a splash with the 1967 R&B chart-topper “Make Me Yours” on the Money label, and spent a couple of years at Capitol records before beginning a nearly five-year stint at perhaps the industry’s premier soul label: Atlantic Records. The Complete Atlantic Recordings, produced for Real Gone and SoulMusic Records by the latter label’s David Nathan, presents 23 tracks – the entirety of Swann’s Atlantic period. These tracks encompass seven singles (including R&B chart hits “Victim of a Foolish Heart” and “Today I Started Loving You Again”), two tracks only issued on U.K. compilations, both sides of a duet single with Sam Dees (whose Atlantic release The Show Must Go On was also recently reissued by Real Gone), and five previously unreleased cuts. Charles Waring writes the new notes, which draw on quotes from Bettye Swann.
In the same soulful vein comes My Music, the one and only Columbia Records album of Samuel Jonathan Johnson. Produced in association with Chicago retailer Dusty Groove, this reissue of the original 1978 album reintroduces eight Johnson originals plus his recordings of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “What the World Needs Now is Love” and Patricia Johnson Wiggins’ “You.” Samuel Jonathan Johnson plays keyboards on this alternately mellow and funky fusion affair, which now features new liner notes from his daughter Yolanda Johnson and remastering by Maria Triana at Battery Studios. Real Gone compares this album to the work of Johnson’s contemporaries Roy Ayers and Norman Connors, so chances are you’ll want to sample its spacey sounds for yourself.
Finally, Real Gone returns to the catalogue of the one and only Grateful Dead with an out-of-order volume of the legendary band’s Dick’s Picks live series. Commencing with Vol. 36, Real Gone has been reissuing the Dick's Picks series in reverse order, but the label is now offering Vol. 10 to honor the Dead’s Bay Area tradition of performing a run of shows in the last week of December leading up to the year's end. With the exception of the years 1973-1975, the Dead was often found around the San Francisco area playing a New Year's Eve show, but starting in 1977, the group began to headline a series of concerts the last week of the year, a ritual they continued for 15 years. The 3-CD Dick’s Picks Volume 10 chronicles the December 29, 1977 show at Winterland Arena, just one year before the Dead closed the venue for good on New Year's Eve. Purists take note that this volume removes two songs ("It Must Have Been the Roses" and "Sunrise”) from the show in favor of a medley from the following night of "Estimated Prophet"/"Eyes of the World"/"St. Stephen"/"Sugar Magnolia.”
All four of these titles will make for a very Happy New Year, indeed, and arrive on January 7. You can pre-order them below!
January 7, 2014 Releases from Real Gone Music
Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Complete Columbia Singles (2-CD set) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Bettye Swann, The Complete Atlantic Recordings (CD) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Samuel Jonathan Johnson, My Music (CD) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Grateful Dead, Dick's Picks Vol. 10 - Winterland Arena December 29, 1977 (3-CD Set) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)