Vampires! Dragons! Keanu Reeves! Plus two revered pop-rock classics: Varese Sarabande has a little bit of everything on its five-title Record Store Day slate arriving this Saturday, April 16, in finer independent stores everywhere.
Record Store Day may take place on a Saturday, but thanks to The Easybeats, it’s a Good Friday. Varese has the first-ever U.S. release of the Australian band’s debut U.K. album originally issued on United Artists Records. Good Friday was issued in the U.S. as Friday on My Mind after the album’s hit single, a Top 20 hit in America, and given a new cover as well as a modified running order, alternate mixes, and different track line-up. This 180-gram replica edition recreates the original U.K. album produced by Shel Talmy (The Kinks, The Who) as well as its striking cover artwork (and a replica UA-style label, too!). It features the original songs of the five-piece band’s Harry Vanda and George Young as well as choice covers from Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector (“River Deep, Mountain High”) and Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (“Hound Dog,” dropped from the U.S. release). Chances are the original pressings of this rocking classic from Australia’s favorite rockers don’t sound as crisp as this punchy platter remastered for vinyl from the original tapes at D2 Mastering.
The Easybeats aren’t the only band with a rare album getting the deluxe treatment for RSD. Also new to 180-gram vinyl is The Moody Blues, # 1, also known as Go Now. Future Wings member Denny Laine (guitar, vocals, harmonica), Ray Thomas (vocals, harmonica, flute), Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals), Clint Warwick (bass, vocals) and Graeme Edge (drums) came together in Birmingham circa spring 1964 as a rocking R&B ensemble. The Moodies signed with the Ridgepride management company of actor/songwriter/jack-of-all-trades Alex Wharton (a.k.a. Alex Murray) who landed them a deal with Decca. Though the band’s first single didn’t make much noise despite a promotional appearance on ITV’s Ready Steady Go!, the second one did. “Go Now,” written by Larry Banks and Milton Bennett, and first recorded by Larry’s ex-wife Bessie Banks, was recorded by the Moodies with Laine on guitar and lead vocals. It reached No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart in January 1965, the same month they opened on a U.K. tour for Chuck Berry. Weeks later, it entered the charts in the U.S., peaking at a still-impressive No. 10.
# 1 was the U.S. edition of the band’s U.K. debut The Magnificent Moodies. # 1 has four different songs and a unique running order. Among the tracks you’ll hear here, in addition to “Go Now,” are Bert Berns’ “I Don’t Want to Go On Without You,” James Brown’s “I’ll Go Crazy,” Barry and Greenwich’s “I’ve Got a Dream,” the Gershwins and DuBose Heyward’s Porgy and Bess standard “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” and a number of originals penned by Denny Laine and Mike Pinder. Alex Murray produced “Go Now,” “I Don’t Want to Go On Without You” and the Sue Sandler/Kay Bennett/Gene Redd song “It’s Easy Child,” while Denny Cordell helmed the remainder of the album. Steve Massie has remastered for Varese. Per usual, there are fantastic London Records-style replica labels to sweeten the pot!
The most haunting title of the Varese line-up is undoubtedly The Original Music from ABC-TV’s Dark Shadows. Originally released on Philips Records in 1969, the album reached an impressive Top 20 peak on the Billboard 200 and remains one of the most beloved television soundtracks of all time. Varese’s reissue presents Robert Cobert’s musically varied score to Dan Curtis’ cherished 1966-1971 daytime gothic horror serial which chronicled the exploits of the mysterious and supernatural denizens of Collinsport, Maine. Cobert’s atmospheric melodies, played by ensembles ranging from a duo to a full orchestra, reflected the many moods of the soap opera, ranging from suspenseful and haunting to delicate and even groovy. (Dig the mellow surf-guitar sounds of “No. 1 at the Blue Whale” or the bright “Back at the Blue Whale,” both referring to the popular Collinsport pub!) Stars Jonathan Frid and David Selby appear on the LP, as well, via memorable spoken narrations and dramatic recitations over lush musical beds.
Long available on CD from the label, this 180-gram LP replica reissue (right down to the painstakingly recreated label with Varese subbing for Philips) is presented on colorful splatter vinyl and includes a reproduction of the original album’s poster of Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) and Quentin Collins (David Selby). This release makes a fine companion to Varese’s 2014 CD reissue of Cobert’s evocative score to Dan Curtis’ Dracula.
Joining Dark Shadows are two soundtracks of a more contemporary vintage. John Powell received an Academy Award nomination for his score to the 2010 animated film How to Train Your Dragon. Varese’s 180-gram edition of this new-to-vinyl release includes a poster, and features 12 tracks pressed on green vinyl that cleverly resembles the dragon’s eye with white veins and black labels: eleven cues from Powell’s charming, acclaimed score plus “Sticks and Stones” written and performed by Jónsi.
It’s joined by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard’s soundtrack to the 2014 action thriller John Wick. Fourteen tracks from the original album are present on this vinyl release. One side is dedicated to the instrumental cues while the other presents the film’s songs performed by Marilyn Manson, M86 and Susie Q, KALEIDA, and others. Two tracks are previously unreleased and not on the original CD: Manson’s “Killing Strangers” (written and produced by Manson with Tyler Bates) and a significantly extended version of Le Castle Vania’s “LED Spirals.” It’s pressed on gunmetal (gray)-colored vinyl.
All of these limited edition releases will become available on Record Store Day this Saturday! You can view a list of participating retail locations here!