Welcome to this week’s Release Round-Up!
Elton John, Jewel Box (EMI/UMe)
8CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
Deep Cuts 4LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
Rarities & B-Sides 3LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
And This Is Me… 2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
Elton John is reaching deep into the vault with Jewel Box, a new, super-sized collection of rare and unreleased material. The British pop legend’s deep dive into his expansive, five-decade-plus archive features 148 tracks on 8 CDs, approximately 63 of which are previously unreleased, plus three dozen B-sides being compiled together for the first time. The discs are thematically organized as Deep Cuts, Rarities, B-Sides, and And This Is Me…, with the latter collecting songs discussed in John’s acclaimed memoir Me. Three mini-collections culled from the box are also available as individual vinyl sets, too. Read more here.
The Staple Singers, Come Go with Me: The Stax Collection (Craft Recordings/Stax)
Earlier this year, Craft Recordings released The Staple Singers’ Come Go with Me: The Stax Collection in vinyl and digital editions. The set compiled all six of The Staple Singers’ 1968-1974 albums for the Stax label plus a volume of rarities, non-LP single sides, and live recordings. On November 13, that box will come to CD as remastered from the original analog tapes by Jeff Powell at Take Out Vinyl. The slipcased collection includes a booklet with rare photos and liner notes from historian Levon Williams (formerly of the Stax Museum and the National Museum of African American Music) and folklorist, ethnomusicologist and author Dr. Langston Wilkins. Read more here.
Various Artists, The Gospel Truth: The Complete Singles Collection (Craft Recordings/Stax)
The Gospel Truth: The Complete Singles Collection features all 17 singles issued by Stax Records imprint Gospel Truth between 1972 and 1974 – 34 songs on 2 CDs or 3 LPs – including both non-LP singles and samplings of the imprint’s album catalogue. Among the highlights are numerous tracks from Gospel Truth’s first signing, Michigan’s The Rance Allen Group, who specialized in reworkings of secular songs into spiritual ones. Also featured are four sides from Joshie Jo Armstead including her rendition of Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields’ “Ride Out the Storm” which she introduced onstage in the pre-Broadway tryout of Seesaw. While both editions will be handsomely packaged, the LP – due on December 11 – is housed in a triple gatefold, with the vinyl pressed at Memphis Record Pressing. Read more here.
Ready for Christmas, Bakersfield-style? Omnivore Recordings has dusted off and freshened up Buck Owens and His Buckaroos’ 1970 double-album of Christmas favorites. Whereas that set dropped four tracks from Buck’s two Capitol Christmas platters, Omnivore’s new CD reinstates them – plus two rare Toys for Tots PSAs – for a complete survey of Buck’s Capitol Christmas recordings. Everything has been remastered from the original analog master tapes by Michael Graves. Available on CD and digitally. Read more here.
The Man in Black might not be the most obvious choice for a symphonic album, but here it is, featuring Cash’s original vocals on such tracks as “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire,” and “The Gambler” melded with newly-recorded orchestrations. (Some of the the original rhythm section tracks have been retained, too.) The set, available on CD, vinyl, and digital formats, also includes tracks with Bob Dylan (“Girl from the North Country”), June Carter Cash (“The Loving Gift”), Duane Eddy (“Farther Along”), and The Highwaymen (“Highwayman”). John Carter Cash, producers Don Reedman and Nick Patrick, Duane Eddy, and “Highwayman” composer Jimmy Webb all provide liner notes. Vic Anesini has mastered.
Stage Door Records has two delightful yuletide titles today. Christmas in London collects 11 seasonal tracks from the legendary Petula Clark, all recorded between 1950 and 1961. These include Polygon singles, songs from two Pye EPs, and previously unreleased radio versions of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Some Enchanted Evening.” The latter, of course, isn’t a Christmas song but indeed captures the spirit of this festive release. An 8-page booklet with annotations accompanies the CD.
Following last year’s release of A Vintage Broadway Christmas, Stage Door has brought together 57 seasonal treats on 2 CDs from the biggest movie stars of Hollywood’s golden age including Doris Day, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Debbie Reynolds, Gordon MacRae, Nelson Eddy, Jeanette MacDonald, and Danny Kaye as well as some surprising choices (Red Buttons, Tab Hunter), too. The second disc also features the CD premiere of the 1959 LP We Wish You a Merry Christmas: Great Christmas Favorites Sung by Warner Bros. Stars, featuring Connie Stevens, Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Roger Moore (!), and others. Both of this week’s Stage Door releases are made possible via current U.K. public domain laws. A 12-page booklet is included with track-by-track notes and discographical annotation.
Nonesuch brings the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s classic Grand Guignol musical to vinyl. The 2-LP set (mirroring the deluxe CD version of the complete soundtrack) features Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Sacha Baron Cohen.
The Cranberries, No Need to Argue (UMe)
No Need To Argue continues The Cranberries’ reissue series, offering the remastered 1994 album – including the international hits “Zombie” (the music video of which just hit one billion views on YouTube) and “Ode to My Family” – along with B-sides and a disc of demo and live material. Of particular interest to longtime fans are two tracks that have never been officially released in any capacity: “Yesterday’s Gone,” as performed on the group’s appearance on MTV Unplugged, and the demo “Serious.” Read more here.
Dame Vera Lynn, who passed away earlier this year at 103, is posthumously celebrated with this new collection. Keep Smiling Through pairs her classic vocals with newly-recorded orchestrations by groups including the Royal Philharmonic, the City of Prague Philharmonic, the RAF Squadronaires, and others. The set features two bonus tracks: “White Christmas” and a medley consisting of “White Cliffs of Dover,” “Over the Rainbow,” and her signature song “We’ll Meet Again.”
Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos, Live at the Hollywood Palladium (BMG)
Keith Richards is reissuing and remastering his 1988 Hollywood Palladium set from the Talk Is Cheap tour for a variety of editions including standard CD, red vinyl, and a deluxe box set with the album on CD and black vinyl; a 10-inch vinyl single with three unreleased tracks; a DVD of the original concert film; a hardback book with a new interview of Richards by David Fricke; and various swag.
Various Artists, Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987 (Captured Tracks)
The Captured Tracks label picks up where Numero Group left off with this impressive 2-CD or 2-LP, 28-track collection looking at the unknown “jangle pop” artists whose sound would be familiar to fans of R.E.M., The Rain Parade, or The Dream Syndicate. With a D.I.Y. aesthetic, the artists here managed to create melodic pop-rock nuggets at a time when radio wasn’t hospitable to them. The slipcased CD is accompanied by a 100-page, squarebound booklet with an in-depth oral history of the period as well as a second, 16-page booklet with track-by-track notes.
George Benson releases his intimate 2019 show at Ronnie Scott’s in London featuring “Give Me the Night,” “Turn Your Love Around,” “The Ghetto,” “Moody’s Mood,” “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” and more. Available on CD and vinyl.
Singer-songwriter-guitarist Jules Shear may be best-known for the songs he’s given away, including The Bangles’ “If She Knew What She Wants,” Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night,” and Alison Moyet’s “Whispering Your Name.” But he’s been recording terrific solo albums since 1983 (and albums with The Funky Kings and Jules and The Polar Bears before that). Now he’s back with Slower, recorded in his producer Lee Danziger’s Woodstock home studio. Written in and for these strange times in which we’re living, Slower exists at the crossroads of folk, rock, and classic pop. None other than John Sebastian guests on “Sugar All Day.” Slower is available on CD and digital formats.
AC/DC, Power Up (Columbia)
For their seventeenth studio album, AC/DC has reunited with Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam) for twelve new, power-packed songs. Available in multiple formats including standard CD, vinyl, digital, and a special CD edition housed in a light-up box with its own built-in speaker that plays the opening of “Shot in the Dark.”
The Littlest Revue: Original Cast Recording (Kritzerland)
Kritzerland is continuing its reissue series from the Ben Bagley archives with this 1962 cast album of The Littlest Revue. Conceived by Bagley, the production featured music and lyrics by Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash with contributions from an eclectic group including Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (Bye Bye Birdie) and Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof), John LaTouche (The Golden Apple), and novelist/short story author Eudora Welty. The show’s youthful cast featured Joel Grey, Charlotte Rae, Tammy Grimes, and Larry Storch. Kritzerland has spruced up the sound and is presenting the album with its original cover artwork, while the back of the booklet will feature the more familiar CD-era artwork, too. This edition, limited to 500 copies, will ship by the last week of December, but pre-orders from the label typically arrive 3-5 weeks earlier.
The Twentieth Century: Original Soundtrack Recording (Kritzerland)
Kritzerland’s second pre-order of the week is the first soundtrack album from host Walter Cronkite’s 1957-1966 CBS documentary program The Twentieth Century. The erudite program – which profiled people as well as events that shaped the century – featured original music by a host of film and classical composers including Darius Milhaud (under whom Burt Bacharach famously studied), George Antheil, Gail Kubik, Paul Creston, and Harold Shapero, all of whom are featured on this collection. The selections are drawn primarily from the program’s second season, with one score from the first. All have been sourced from 1/4-inch tape and mastered by James Nelson. This edition, limited to 500 copies, will ship by the last week of December, but pre-orders from the label typically arrive 3-5 weeks earlier.