The centerpiece of the February batch just might be the first-ever complete collection of Louisiana man Tony Joe White’s Warner Bros. recordings! Singer-songwriter White (“Willie and Laura Mae Jones,” “Polk Salad Annie”) has one of the most distinctive voices in southern soul, and Real Gone’s new collection celebrates a major period his career with a new 2-CD set collecting three albums and six non-LP singles! The label then has a new collection of inspirational music from one of country’s most beloved – and shall we say, tumultuous! – couples: George Jones and Tammy Wynette! This hitherto-unexplored side of George and Tammy is one you won’t want to miss.
Cult favorites aren’t being left out in the cold, either. Real Gone has, for the first time, Bobby Lance’s (“The House That Jack Built”) two Atlantic/Cotillion releases on one CD, and the only solo album from Texas’ Jerry Williams. On the rock side, the label is expanding “Power” from Orleans’ John Hall as well as the eponymous album from Ray Kennedy, one of the co-writers of The Beach Boys’ anthemic “Sail On Sailor.” Two landmark June 1974 shows are featured on a new pressing of Grateful Dead’s twelfth volume of Dick’s Picks. And last but not least, Real Gone and its SoulMusic Records imprint have combined Apollo Saturday Night and Saturday Night at the Uptown – two classic live albums from New York and Philly with headliners including Otis Redding, The Drifters and the “wicked” Wilson Pickett – on one CD!
71 years old and still going strong, Louisiana-born Tony Joe White is nothing short of a national musical treasure. White first gained fame mainly through his songwriting; 1969’s “Polk Salad Annie” was his only Top Ten hit, but artists such as Dusty Springfield (“Willie and Laura Mae Jones”), Brook Benton (“Rainy Night in Georgia”) and Elvis Presley (“For Ol’ Times Sake”; “I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby”) took his songs to the charts. But White has always been a singular performer in his own right; the honeyed burr of his baritone, his alternately tough and tender vocal delivery and liberal use of his “whomper stomper” wah-wah pedal lend him a completely distinctive sound, Simply put, nobody, but nobody, sounds like Tony Joe White, and on this 2-CD collection, we’ve rounded up all three of the classic albums he recorded for Warner Bros. in the early ‘70s—all of which are out of print and costing a mint online—plus non-LP singles to create The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings. Recorded in Memphis (partly at Ardent Studios of Big Star fame), 1971’s Tony Joe White paired him with producer Peter Asher (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt) and shifted the focus slightly from the fuzz-drenched swamp rock of White’s Monument recordings to a more introspective style, though “They Caught the Devil and Put Him in Jail in Eudora, Arkansas” and “My Kind of Woman” could blow the doors off any roadhouse you’d care to name. White’s next album, 1972’s The Train I’m On, continued this gentler, more vulnerable style to great effect; produced by the legendary team of Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd, with the mighty Muscle Shoals sessioneers in support, Train’s set of songs tackled complex themes of dislocation, alienation and loss with a blend of blues, soul and folk highlighted by some beautiful acoustic guitar work by White and Tippy Armstrong. It’s a masterpiece. And 1973’s Homemade Ice Cream might be even better; White’s original version of “For Ol’ Times Sake” is just devastating, and “I Want Love (‘Tween You and Me),” “Taking the Midnight Train” and the title track are every bit as good. Co-producer Tom Dowd and a crack band of guitarist Reggie Young, bassist Norbert Putnam, drummer Kenny Malone and keyboardist David Briggs (of Neil Young fame) catch every nuance of these deceptively simple songs. Real Gone’s presentation of this essential material features liner notes by Ben Edmonds featuring fresh quotes from Tony Joe White himself. Not to be missed.
Part of the attraction of country music is the way it juxtaposes the pious and profane, the sacred and sinful; Saturday night’s partier is Sunday morning’s penitent. And never was this contradiction at the core of country music quite so captured than by the very public ups and downs of the marriage between George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Plenty of attention has been paid to George and Tammy’s wild side; our new collection, Songs of Inspiration, focuses on their “mild” side, with 26 tracks of inspirational music taken from two albums and some singles. The first 11 tracks hail from their 1972 album We Love to Sing About Jesus, while the next 11 songs come from Tammy’s album Inspiration (CD debut!), which was released in 1969, the year she married George (and shortly after “Stand by Your Man” made her a superstar). Four single sides from the ‘70s, three by Tammy, one by George, round out the set. As far as we can tell this is the only collection ever to highlight George and Tammy’s inspirational material, and it is a real treat to hear them tackle this uncharacteristic fare. John Alexander supplies the liner notes, and the music is remastered at Sony’s own Battery Studios. A real treat, and not just for Sundays.
Nowadays, Bobby Lance is best remembered for having penned (along with writing partner and sister Fran Robins) Aretha Franklin’s “The House That Jack Built” among a number of hits for doo wop and girl group acts, but by the early ‘70s, when he recorded his only two solo albums, he was another in the seemingly endless supply of excellent soul singers recording for the Atlantic family of labels. His first release, 1971’s First Peace on the Cotillion imprint, had just about all the legendary Muscle Shoals sessioneers (Roger Hawkins, Eddie Hinton, Barry Beckett, David Hood) on it, plus King Curtis on horns, the Sweet Inspirations on background vocals and—allegedly—Duane Allman on guitar. More importantly, Lance’s fine songwriting and impassioned vocals give his elite supporting cast plenty to work with. A real lost gem. 1972’s Rollin’ Man, meanwhile, came out on the Atlantic label and was recorded and mixed by Geoff Haslam (Cactus, Velvet Underground, Bette Midler); it features guitarist Kenny Mims (on his first professional gig) and is more of a rock ‘n’ roll record, somewhere in that early ‘70s Stones/Faces vein. Our twofer, First Peace/Rollin’ Man, presents both albums on CD for the first time, with liner notes by Bill Kopp that feature input from Lance himself. Another Real Gone resurrection from the vaults.
First scheduled for release in 1979, Jerry Williams’ debut album for Warner Brothers Records was pulled from distribution before it ever made the record stores, victim of a dispute with the label. But the story didn’t end there; though only promotional copies of the album were ever minted—this record was indeed “Gone”—those copies have been passed from hand over the last 35 years and have become hotly sought-after collector items. Indeed, Gone was going to be the breakthrough album for Williams. Produced by Chris Kimsey as his first project following the production of the Rolling Stones’ smash Some Girls album, Gone offered a totally unique mix of rock and soul, and featured players like bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, drummer Jeff Porcaro and guitarist Steve Cropper. But, due to a falling-out with the label so severe that Williams was served with a restraining order barring him from entering the Warner Bros. building, the album was quashed. But Williams wasn’t done; two years after its release, singer Delbert McClinton hit the Top Ten with the Gone track “Givin’ It Up for Your Love,” and the next year Eric Clapton would record such Williams songs as “Forever Man,” “Pretending” and “Running on Faith.” Bonnie Raitt began recording Williams originals in 1982 and has never quit. Fans like Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, the Eagles and The Fabulous Thunderbirds have spread the Texan’s songs around the world, with millions of copies sold. Now, as one of the most enigmatic and intriguing musical figures of the past 50 years, someone whose outsized talent landed him in Little Richard’s band at the age of 16 (with another guitarist named Jimmy James a.k.a. Jimi Hendrix) and someone whom the Los Angeles Times eulogized after his death in 2005 as “probably the most successful unknown songwriter in rock and rhythm and blues,” Jerry Williams is an artist whose time has come. Our Real Gone reissue of Gone comes with liner notes by Williams champion Bill Bentley, who has over the years bought about 50 copies of the LP to share with friends—a long-overdue CD debut to say the least.
By the early ‘60s, Atlantic Records was starting to gain traction as one of the go-to labels in the world of R&B, thanks to the success of Ray Charles, The Drifters, Ruth Brown, Lavern Baker and The Coasters among others. As the genre was gaining more popularity, the label shrewdly chose to capture the excitement and energy of shows staged on the famous “chitlin’ circuit,” a term used to refer to a group of theaters in cities with a significant African-American population. And the two most essential stops on the circuit were The Uptown in Philadelphia and the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. Atlantic recorded shows at the two venues in 1964, resulting in the two long-cherished live albums collected on this new twofer, Apollo Saturday Night/Saturday Night at the Uptown, from Real Gone Music and SoulMusic Records. The first of the two albums was Apollo Saturday Night, which presented four solo artists from the label – Otis Redding, Doris Troy, Rufus Thomas and headliner Ben E. King – and two groups, show-openers The Falcons (featuring Wilson Pickett) and The Coasters, playing before a packed house at the venue on 125th Street. With renowned saxophonist (and Atco recording artist in his own right) King Curtis as bandleader, each act performed their main hits of the day, with the exception of Troy, who had in fact been an usherette at the venue during her teen years. An encore brought everyone back onstage for a rousing version of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.” The bill at the Uptown had a similar mix of major hitmakers (The Drifters and The Vibrations) with others who were just making headway as R&B stars, most of whom, interestingly, did not record for Atlantic. Among them were New Jersey natives Patty & The Emblems, Washington D.C. group The Carltons, Patti Labelle & The Bluebelles, then on the verge of signing with Atlantic, and Barbara Lynn, who was recording for local Philadelphia label Jamie Records. The Atlantic acts included the L.A.-based Vibrations and Wilson Pickett, now no longer with The Falcons and just signed with the company, performing his hit “If You Need Me.” Atlantic’s mainstay group, The Drifters, understandably had the top spot and thrilled the audiences with a reprise of their classics “There Goes My Baby,” “On Broadway” and “Under the Boardwalk.” Just over 50 years after they were recorded, these two albums still pulse with the excitement and passion that made the Uptown and the Apollo world-famous venues. Liner notes are by noted UK author, R&B historian and Solar Radio broadcaster Clive Richardson…79 minutes of live soul at its finest.
Sure, various congressmen have dabbled in music, but how many congressmen founded a platinum-selling band?! Well, 2007-2011 U.S. Representative for New York’s 19th congressional district John Hall did…in fact, he not only started Orleans, but wrote (along with then-wife Johanna Hall) their two big hits, “Still the One” and “Dance with Me!” Hall left the group in 1977 to pursue a dual-track career in music and political activism, co-founding Musicians United for Safe Energy along with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Graham Nash, and releasing his 1979 album, Power, whose environmental concerns come across loud and clear, especially in the title track and in the bonus single track, “Plutonium Is Forever” (which was featured prominently on the No Nukes concert album along with “Power”), that we’ve included on this Expanded Edition. It’s late-‘70s, soul-dipped, radio-friendly, socially-conscious pop at its finest (with an all-star supporting cast that included James Taylor, Carly Simon, Tony Levin and Jon Pousette-Dart), to which we’ve added liner notes by Gene Sculatti that explore the one-of-a-kind career trajectory taken by this politically-minded musician. Expanded CD debut!
The late Ray Kennedy wrote, recorded and toured with a Who’s Who list of musicians, including Brian Wilson (“Sail On Sailor”), Jeff Beck, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Dave Mason, Michael Schenker and many more. He also was the “K” in the supergroup KGB, the group he formed in the mid-‘70s with Barry Goldberg and Mike Bloomfield. But in 1980, he struck off on his own and signed with the Arc label for his self-titled solo album, which was produced by David Foster and boasted such big studio names as Jeff Porcaro, Steve Lukather, and Bill Champlin. The record notched a couple of hits with “Just for the Moment” and “Starlight,” and we’ve added an unreleased track, “Dance the Night Away,” to this Expanded Edition along with the original mixes of “It Never Crossed My Mind” and “Just for the Moment” mixed by Kennedy and Jack Conrad prior to David Foster’s involvement with the project, plus the single mix of “Starlight!” Liner notes by Gene Sculatti examine the career of this elite pop musician. CD debut.
Combining the second sets of two different nights is not standard operating procedure for the Dick’s Picks series of live Grateful Dead shows, but this volume is the exception that proves the rule—the playing is so extraordinary, and the repertoire so unusual, that one can understand why Dick Latvala played more curator than archivist on Dick’s Picks Vol. 12—Providence Civic Center 6/26/74 & Boston Garden 6/28/74. The first disc picks up the second set from Providence three songs in, featuring a short jam that leads into what many have labeled the most extraordinary live version of “China Cat Sunflower” ever recorded, complete with a sublime transition (“Mud Love Buddy Jam” a.k.a. “Mind Left Body Jam”) into “I Know You Rider.” The revelatory moments continue throughout the Providence set, highlighted by a dazzling, 15-minute “Spanish Jam.” But the second set of the Boston show—which appears here complete, beginning on CD two after a superb encore performance of “Eyes of the World” from Providence—is the one that has passed into legend among Dead fans (that it begins with a rare performance of Phil Lesh and Ned Lagin’s electronic music piece “Seastones” gives you an idea of what an adventurous night this was). The set boasts one of the most renowned live jams of the band’s career, a flawless, 14-minute “Weather Report Suite: Prelude/Pt. 1/Pt. 2-Let It Grow” leading into a 27-minute “Jam” that is simply one of the most far-ranging, telepathic improvisations ever played by, well, anybody. That this set also includes a separation of the “Sunshine Daydream” section from “Sugar Magnolia” for only the second time ever is just gravy. Out of print for years and a must for your Dead collection (oh, and did we mention this was a Wall of Sound concert?)! (Please note: Real Gone is also reissuing, in a limited-edition 300-unit run, the long out of print Dick’s Picks Vol. 35, which presented 1971 concert tapes discovered on Keith Godchaux’s houseboat.)
All titles can be pre-ordered below!
Real Gone Music February 3, 2015 Releases
Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol. 35—San Diego, CA 8/7/71, Chicago, IL 8/24/71 (4-CD Set, Limited Edition 300-Unit Repress) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. Links TBD)