Welcome to this week’s Release Round-Up!
The 50th anniversary celebration of America rolls on with a massive new box set. Half Century is an expansive 7-CD/1-DVD box packed with rare and previously unreleased material from the beloved band featuring Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and the late Dan Peek. There’s a slew of unreleased demos circa 1970; a remastered full-length radio session in Bremen from 1973; rehearsals and demos for the Hideaway album; 11 unheard session recordings from 1981; a disc full of rarities from the overlooked period of the 1990s; and interviews and promotional material. If that weren’t enough, there’s also a DVD of home movies filmed from 1972 to 1975 that give America aficionados an inside look at the band’s early years. You’ll hear intimate jams, get a sneak peek behind the scenes of the Bremen session, see the band onstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and in-the-studio at George Martin’s AIR facilities, and much more. All of the tracks were sourced from the band’s personal archives and are exclusive to the box set. There’s also a fair amount of memorabilia included in the lavish package, including posters, promo pictures, and a book. An America Records sampler CD rounds out the package. Read our interview with America archivist Jeff Larson here!
Doug Carn featuring Jean Carn, Spirit of the New Land (Real Gone Music)
This week, Real Gone Music kicks off its reissue campaign of the Black Jazz catalogue. The first Record Store Day drop tomorrow sees the vinyl-only release of Gene Russell’s New Direction on exclusive clear vinyl; today’s three Black Jazz titles are all available on CD and LP.
Doug Carn was the most prolific of the artists on the Black Jazz roster, releasing four albums. Two featured his then-wife, future Philadelphia International Records star Jean Carn. On Spirit of the New Land, he’s joined by saxophonist George Harper, trumpeter Charles Tolliver, trombonist Garnett Brown, tuba player Earl McIntyre, and drummer Alphonse Mouzon. Throughout, Carn showcases his approach to adding words to standards like Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green” and Lee Morgan’s “Search for the New Land,” as well as his composition skills on originals like “Arise and Shine” and “My Spirit,” while Jean’s vocals allow them to take flight. The highly collectible title now arrives on black vinyl with new liner notes by Pat Thomas.
Walter Bishop, Jr., Coral Keys (Real Gone Music)
From Real Gone Music’s Black Jazz Records reissue campaign comes this title from pianist Walter Bishop, Jr. This soul-jazz classic features Bishop on piano, Harold Vick on flute and sax, Reggie Johnson on bass, Alan Schwartz Benger and Idris Muhammad on drums, and Woody Shaw on trumpet on a handful of tunes. The album has been remastered by Mike Milchner. Vinyl Me Please has an orange/black swirl variant vinyl edition available, too.
The Awakening, Hear, Sense, and Feel (Real Gone Music)
Black Jazz Records’ only group, The Awakening had roots in the Chicago jazz movement as part of the AACM (the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). Featuring AACM members Reggie Willis (bass) and Ari Brown (tenor sax and flute), as well as Young-Holt Unlimited alumni Frank Gordon (trumpet) and Ken Chaney (keys), among others, The Awakening “inhabit[ed] that sweet spot between the free jazz and Afrocentric explorations of the Art Ensemble and [a] rhythm-heavy soul-jazz sound.” Hear, Sense and Feel remains one of the most sought-after releases in the Black Jazz catalog, with rare original copies going for hundred of dollars online. But you won’t have to shell out nearly that much for the new reissue, featuring replica artwork and extensive new liner notes by Pat Thomas. It’s been remastered by Mike Milchner. Read more about all three titles here.
Verve/UMe is teaming up with Acoustic Sounds to launch a series of audiophile vinyl release drawn from the many labels within the Verve group. This offering, 1964’s landmark Getz/Gilberto from Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, and guest vocalist Astrud Gilberto, remains a high watermark in the bossa nova genre with such all-time classics as “The Girl from Ipanema,” “Desafinado,” and “Corcovado.” It’s been remastered in an all-analog chain and pressed on 180-gram vinyl by Quality Record Pressings. The LP is housed in a deluxe tip-on gatefold packaging done at Stoughton Printing Company.
Verve and Acoustic Sounds’ series of audiophile jazz reissues features this 1959 trumpet-and-piano classic from Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson accompanied by Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, and Louie Bellson on standards such as “You Go to My Head,” “That Old Feeling,” and “Sweet Lorraine.” The album has been newly remastered in an all-analog chain, pressed on 180-gram vinyl at QRP and housed in a tip-on jacket made at Stoughton. Read more about this series here.
The band Unicorn blended CSN-style harmonies with Beatles-inspired songcraft, Motown energy, and lyrics bearing a British rather than American sensibility, and the fusion was so spellbinding that it caught the attention of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. Now, three of the band’s LPs have been brought together as a new 4-CD box set from Cherry Red’s Esoteric Recordings. Slow Dancing: The Recordings 1974-1979 contains Esoteric’s 2017 expanded editions of Blue Pine Trees (1974), Too Many Crooks (1976), and One More Tomorrow (1977) plus an all-new bonus disc of previously unreleased archival recordings. The set makes a strong case for this underrated group and its brand of melodic rock. Read more here!
Elliott Smith, Elliott Smith: 25th Anniversary Edition (Kill Rock Stars)
Kill Rock Stars reissues Elliott Smith’s self-titled sophomore album on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. The 2-CD set includes the newly remastered album; a coffee table book containing never-before-published photographs of the artist by J.J. Gonson as well as Smith’s handwritten lyrics, memories from his friends and collaborators, and a bonus disc presenting the earliest known recording of Smith as a solo artist. This concert from September 17, 1994 at Portland, Oregon’s Umbra Penumbra features ten songs including “Alphabet Town” which would appear on Elliott Smith.
The Land of Sensations & Delights: The Psych Pop Sounds of White Whale Records, 1965-1970 features 26 gems culled from the fabled White Whale label. While White Whale is best known for The Turtles, that group was far from all the label had to offer. This collection – co-produced by Andrew Sandoval, Steve Stanley, and Cary E. Mansfield, annotated by Sandoval and designed by Stanley – spotlights the best of the rest including the Latin-tinged Triste Janero, the Laughing Gravy (a solo project by Dean Torrence, of Jan & Dean fame), Sunset Strip regulars Smokestack Lightnin’, and Professor Morrison’s Lollipop, whose garage-rock single “You Got the Love” gained traction as a regional hit. A Record Store Day release tomorrow is limited to 2,000 copies worldwide while the CD iteration is out everywhere today.
Dan Penn is the legendary songwriter behind such classics as “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” “Cry Like a Baby,” “The Dark End of the Street,” “I’m Your Puppet,” and “You Left the Water Running.” But he’s also one living legend not content to rest on his laurels. Hence, Living on Mercy – his first new solo album in more than a quarter-century. Out today on CD and digital (with an LP coming on October 23), the record – recorded in Nashville and Muscle Shoals – is filled with the kind of passionate soul only Penn could write – and sing – so convincingly.
With this new release – his 27th studio album – Bobby Rush once again proves himself to be Rawer Than Raw. Here, he salutes the great Mississippi bluesmen including Skip James, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, and Sonny Boy Williamson. The passage of hasn’t dulled Rush’s spirit or his authenticity; if anything, his interpretive skills have only gotten deeper and more powerful – as this new set amply proves. Available on CD, LP, and digital.
The second album from the Allman Betts Band – Devon Allman (guitar, vocals), Duane Betts (guitar, vocals), Berry Duane Oakley (bass, vocals), Johnny Stachela (guitar, vocals), John Ginty (keyboards), R. Scott Bryan (percussion, vocals) and John Lum (drums) – arrives today on CD, LP, and digital platforms.
The soul queen returns with a powerful new album featuring her renditions of classics including The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” Johnny Mercer’s “Drinking Again,” and Nina Simone’s “I Hold No Grudge.” Available on CD, LP, and digital platforms.
S&M2 preserves Metallica’s 2019 concerts with the San Francisco Symphony and musical director Michael Tilson Thomas in a variety of formats including 2-CD, 4-LP, 2-CD/1-DVD, 2-CD/1-BD, and 4-LP/2-CD/1-BD. All formats are available now at the links above.