Category Archives: CDs

UMe rushes the great news: Three collectible, expanded editions of Rush’s classic “2112”

We don’t mean to rush things, but the news from UMe deserves a push. Big time. After celebrating over 40 years together with the same trio line-up, UMe continues the celebration of the Rush catalog with the release of three 40th anniversary expanded editions of the band’s classic 1976 album 2112.

On December 16, just in time for the Jolly Fat One to put under the tree or bush, 2112—40th will be released in three distinct variations. The 2-disc/DVD edition will include a newly remastered CD of the original album by Abbey Road Studios, along with an additional CD of rare, live and previously unreleased material including newly-recorded tracks from 2112 featuring Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters along with Nick Raskulinecz, Billy Talent, Steven Wilson, Jacob Moon and Alice In Chains.unnamed-1The set’s third disc is a DVD featuring a newly restored vintage 1976 Rush concert recorded at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey, plus bonus videos of the Grohl/Hawkins/Raskulinecz track and Billy Talent track, and a new 25+ minute interview featuring Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and longtime producer/engineer Terry Brown. The new 2112 remaster originally appeared on the much-acclaimed 2015 hologram vinyl edition of the album; this marks the Abbey Road Studios master first time on CD.

UMe is also releasing a three-LP 200-gram vinyl edition incorporating all of the aforementioned audio material, plus a special laser-etched LP side, the 2015 hologram on 2112‘s  B-side and a unique turntable mat featuring the band’s iconic Starman character. Fans will also have the option of purchasing a Super Deluxe edition, incorporating both CDs, the DVD, all three LPs plus its bonus items, and several exclusive collectible items including two 12-inch x 12-inch lithos, one featuring Hugh Syme’s original Starman pencil sketching, the second showcasing a 1976 Massey Hall ticket stub; a reprint of the 1976 Massey Hall handbill and three buttons featuring each band member, all housed in a box lined with velvet flocking.download

For the first 1,000 Super Deluxe pre-order purchases at Rush.com, us.udiscovermusic.com and udiscovermusic.com,  the purchaser will receive a limited edition 7-inch pressing of the album’s first single “The Twilight Zone” (b/w “Lessons”) and a custom red star 45 large hole adapter ring, both newly designed by Hugh Syme.

All three versions of 2112—40th feature extensive liner notes by renowned rock historian Rob Bowman, and newly designed artwork by longtime Rush art director Hugh Syme. The set’s rare recordings include “Solar Federation,” spotlighting the isolated Neil Peart vocals that close the song “2112” in “Grand Finale,” two outtakes from the 1976 Massey Hall concerts including “Something For Nothing” and a nearly complete 15+ minute performance of “2112,” as well as a recently-rediscovered live version of the album track “The Twilight Zone,” which has only been performed twice in the band’s long history.

The epic 2112 album which guitarist Alex Lifeson described as “the first record where we sounded like Rush,” is widely regarded as a crucial landmark in Rush’s body of work. Although it was the band’s fourth album, it’s generally considered to be the one on which the band’s epic sound and ambitious conceptual approach blossomed. Resisting record-company pressure to focus on shorter, more radio-friendly songs, the band stuck to its guns and constructed the album’s seminal seven-part, 20-minute title piece, a conceptual suite set in a dystopian future.

In addition to its status as a creative landmark, 2112 was also Rush’s commercial breakthrough, becoming the band’s first album to reach the Billboard LP chart and the first Rush album to achieve Gold sales status in the U.S. (it was subsequently certified Platinum). 2112 was also Rush’s first platinum album in Canada, spawning a now-legendary Canadian tour that culminated in a three-night stand at Massey Hall in Toronto, which was recorded for Rush’s first live album, All the World’s a Stage.

 

The Zappa Family Trust and UMe make it easy to rock around the Christmas tree with 5 vinyl releases

And so the music is flowing, from A to Z, with the emphasis on Z . . . as in “Zappa.” Following this month’s release of three new Frank Zappa albums, the Zappa Family Trust and UMe are continuing their extensive reissue campaign by releasing five iconic works of the musical innovator on vinyl for the first time in decades: Cruising With Ruben & The Jets, Joe’s Garage, Lumpy Gravy, Weasels Ripped My Flesh and We’re Only In It For The Money. The albums spanning Zappa’s incredibly fertile late ’60s-late ’70s period will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl and available December 9. Talk about rockin’ around the Christmas tree!

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Zappa’s first release, the Mothers of Invention’s debut album Freak Out!, and to celebrate the Zappa Family Trust and UMe are steadily reissuing the cultural icon’s catalog and rarities from his famed vault on CD, LP and digitally as part of a long-term licensing agreement. The five vinyl releases follow new albums Meat Light (The Uncle Meat Project/Object Audio Documentary) Little Dots and Chicago ’78, released earlier this month, and several other exciting projects. The 50th anniversary of Zappa’s first single “How Could I Be Such A Fool” is also being celebrated with a limited edition pink vinyl 7-inch; the flipside will feature “Help I’m A Rock (3rd Movement: It Can’t Happen Here).”

The five albums represent some of Zappa and his cohorts’ most challenging, exhilarating and groundbreaking work.

Zappa’s first solo album, Lumpy Gravy is the work of Zappa the composer. Recorded at Capitol Studios in 1967 by legendary producer Nick Venet, Zappa’s compositions were performed by the 50-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra, which included several musicians from the legendary Wrecking Crew. Armed with the session tapes and a razor blade, Zappa sat in his New York City apartment and pieced together a masterwork that included the use of tape collages, dialogue, parody, musique concrete and DADAist tendencies. The self-produced album became one of his personal favorites. The LP will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl from a pristine 1968 analog safety tape found in Zappa’s vault.zappa

In the top 300 of Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums, We’re Only In It for the Money is a scathing satire of right-versus-left politics that’s as fresh in today’s charged political atmosphere as it was upon release in 1968. In part a parody of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the album pits the hippies against the squares, skewering them equally, as pawns held sway by corporate sellouts catering to the masses in the name of profit.  The restored original 1968 mix is pressed on 180-gram vinyl from FZ’s approved Digital Master.

Cruising with Ruben & The Jets is the fourth Mothers of Invention album. Released at the end of 1968, the concept album was written in the style of 1950s doo-wop and classic R&B, a childhood love of Zappa’s and members of the band, including singer Ray Collins, who all came up with the idea while in the studio recording other music. It is being reissuedwith the original 1968 mix from the master analog tape on 180-gram vinyl.

Weasels Ripped My Flesh is the last album of recordings made by the original Mothers of Invention lineup released after it was disbanded by Zappa. The group, which included a horn section, made the blend of studio and live experimental and traditional tracks from 1967-69. Weasels Ripped My Flesh, released in 1970, provides a fascinating look at the group’s range and diversity of influences, from avant-garde tracks like “Didja Get Any Onya” to the straight-up R&B of their cover of Little Richard’s “Directly From My Heart to You.” In an interesting historical footnote, Lowell George makes an appearance here with the band previous to forming Little Feat with bass player Roy Estrada.

Conceptually and musically as challenging as anything Zappa released in the ’70s, three-act rock opera Joe’s Garage was released as two separate packages in 1979 (the new release arrives as a three-LP set). Zappa described the dystopian tale as “a stupid little story about how the government is going to do away with music.” The rock opera proved prophetic years later when the government began to examine ways to limit the spread of explicit content in music. The song cycle, conceived over a weekend, tells the story of a young rock ‘n’ roller who’s thrown into prison and released into a world turned upside down by evil corporate, political and religious forces who’ve outlawed music. Zappa used the practice of “xenochrony” to record parts of the album, taking previously cut live guitar solos and overdubbing them onto new studio tracks. This 2016 vinyl edition is mastered in all analog by Bernie Grundman using the 1979 1/4” safety master tapes from The Vault.

Taken together the albums are a master’s class in subversive wit, creative genius and uncompromising artistry that flies in the face of convention.

 

Queen Latifah and a bunch of newcomers promise a gay ol’ time with the new series “Star”

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Gee, we hope the Queen doesn’t show up on “Star” this way . . .

A star is born. Well at least not until December 14, when Star, a new series featuring original music and stunning music performances, set for a special  premiere on FOX. Republic Records and Twentieth Century Fox Television have entered a partnership to present music from the show.

Created by Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Lee Daniels, co-creator and executive producer of Empire, and Tom Donaghy, Star follows three talented singers–running from their pasts and desperate for a new start–with ambitions of stardom, as they navigate the cut-throat music business on their road to success.  But reality soon dawns on the girls’ fantasies, and they start to learn that ambition often comes at a cost.

“Monte Lipman and his team at Republic Records continue to be at the forefront of what’s new and evolving in today’s current music scene,” says Daniels. “They know how to push boundaries and take risks–which is the essence of this new series and our group of girls.  We’re looking forward to what is going to be a beautiful collaboration.”

Adds Mark Pearson, Executive Vice President, Brand Management and Digital, TCFTV: “Monte, Tom and everyone at Republic demonstrated a passion for STAR that impressed us all. They understood the show, they had a vision for what to do with our performers and they offered really innovative A&R and marketing ideas. Republic is the perfect musical partner for Lee and Tom’s inspired new series.”

So what the fuss? Meet Star (played by newcomer Jude Demorest), a tough-as-nails young woman, who came up in the foster care system and decides one day to take control of her destiny. Star tracks down her sister, Simone (second newcomer Brittany O’Grady), and her Instagram bestie, Alexandra (third newcomer Ryan Destiny), and together, the trio journeys to Atlanta with the hope of becoming music superstars.

Queen Latifah stars as Carlotta, a surrogate mother to the young crew;  the series will also feature guest star Lenny Kravitz.

Watch the official trailer for STAR HERE

 

 

Masterworks Broadway raises the curtain of three top-notch CDs

Once again, Masterworks Broadway has raised the curtain on a triumvirate of classic albums from the archives. Each CD is accompanied by new album pages and photos. Brava!

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Claudia McNeill rehearsing “Simply Heaven,” May 19, 1958

Starring Claudia McNeil and Melvin Stewart, Simply Heavenly was written by Harlem renaissance poet Langston Hughes based on his novel “Simple Takes a Wife and Other Simple Stories.” With music by David Martin, Simply Heavenly was originally produced for the Off-Broadway 85th Street Playhouse. The show transferred to Broadway’s Playhouse Theatre on August 20, 1957, when fire violations forced the closure of the original venue.  Hughes continually looked to the musical stage for success following the groundbreaking 1947 original production of Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice’s Street Scene for which he wrote lyrics. Set in Harlem of the ‘50s, Simply Heavenly follows Jess Simple as he tries to raise enough money for a divorce so he can marry his new love and eloquently captures the color, humor and poetry of that time and place.
McNeil had made her Broadway debut as a replacement cast member in the groundbreaking original Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. She would later originate the role of Lena Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun both on Broadway and in the feature film.

Based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic novella, A Christmas Carol was presented annually at New York City’s Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden from 1994 through 2003.

Over its nine years, A Christmas Carol featured a slew of notable actors as “Scrooge” including F. Murray Abraham, Tim Curry, Tony Randall, Roddy McDowall (in his final role), Frank Langella, Tony Roberts, Jim Dale and Roger Daltrey.

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The cast of “Spoon River Anthology”; Joyce Van Patten (left) and Betty Garrett (center) . . . their backs, at least!

Charles Aidman adapted and starred in Spoon River Anthology, a play with music based on Edgar Lee Masters’ renowned collection of short free-form poems. With music by Naomi Caryl Hirshhorn and Hal Lynch, Spoon River Anthology weaves the epitaphs of the residents of fictional small town Spoon River into a chilling history of turn-of-the century America. Also starring Betty Garrett, Joyce Van Patten and Robert Elston, the show opened at the Booth Theatre on September 29, 1963 and ran for 111 performances. This original Broadway cast recording of Spoon River Anthology is making its CD debut.

 

Local songwriters sing, sing a song, for the 2017 Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle CD

Pittsburgh a most desirable city? Don’t think so . . . it boats some of the country’s worst air, high crime rates and roads that are more cracked than Trump’s family.

But the music is good. Or so we hear. And we hear that non-profit music organization Calliope will be hosting the Annual Pittsburgh Songwriters Circle CD release soiree on Friday, November 4. For a mere $7, you can join the Calliope crew for an evening of “remarkable performances” by dozens of participating Pittsburgh songwriters. (The 2017 CD features 29 Pittsburgh-area songwriters.) The gala is being held at The Roots Cellar, “the acoustically-sound subterranean room at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.” It’s very difficult to find: Note the address is 6300 Fifth Avenue.Jewel 4 Panel-PSC2017

Working under the auspices of Calliope, the Songwriters Circle conducts a weekly songwriters’ open stage at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, holds monthly meetings focused on song craft, places songwriters in front of audiences and produces this annual compilation album series to help to nurture regional songwriters and foster community among artists who are compelled to write songs. Whew! Since the project started in 2005, more than 100 local songwriters have participated in this album series. You can find some of their CDs at CDBaby.com.

Get in the groove by getting more info at calliopehouse.org or by visiting pittsburghsongwriterscircle.org.

 

Go tell it on the mountain: Jennifer nettles releases her first Yuletide CD

 

Christmas is being doubly good to Jennifer Nettles. She stars in Dolly Parton’s straight to DVD Christmas special, and she’s prepping for the season early with the release of her first holiday album, To Celebrate Christmas, out October 28 on Big Machine Records. The 10-track collection highlights Jennifer’s signature Country twang while her enthusiastic spirit illuminates the mix of festive anthems and traditional standards.

Wrapping each track with care, Grammy-winning producer Julian Raymond joined Jennifer in the studio. The project shines with star-studded collaborations, including dynamic harmonies with Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel on “Little Drummer Boy,” and the jazz-influenced melody alongside American-soul sensation Andra Day on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.” Friend and mentor, 40DD-17-36 Parton, penned “Circle Of Love.” 1

“I’m such a lover of this season and all of the magical feelings that surround us during the holidays so it will be exciting to share it with fans at our live shows,” coos Jennifer. “Especially since the birth of my son, who arrived to us in December, I’ve found even more joy Christmas traditions and music. Having both Idina and Andra lend their idyllic voices to some of my favorite songs is the bow on top!”

 

 

Olivia-Newton John teams with two friends to create a CD that helps healing the pain of loss. Brava!

As gifted author Anne Lamott has said: “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

Loss causes intense feeling of being lost. The pain seems endless. The darkness seems to shroud the heart. Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky have teamed  to lend vocal and songwriting talents to create Liv On, (UMe), a collaborative, newly recorded 11-song collection intended for those who wish to transcend loss while walking a journey toward new-found meaning and hope.  This powerful new album, now available through all digital partners, emerges on CD on October 14.71rscbpkf1l-_sl1200_

This inspiring new project grew out of the trio’s personal experiences with loss and illness, which they all survived to Liv On and celebrate each day with a depth of gratitude. This labor of love stemmed from the trio sharing their stories together and expressing their deepest feelings from the most difficult to the most celebratory. It’s the hope that this music can uplift hearts burdened by grief while at the same time bring comfort to the listener.

“As a group, it’s our intention with this album to create songs with a message of compassion and hope,” says Newton-John. “They are for anyone facing a time of challenge in their life, whether it is grieving a loss—or on the journey to health and recovery.”

Liv On–means “to thrive, to have hope and to remember.”  The message is clear in the lyrics of the album’s title song:

Live on, Live on
Brighter skies will come again
Cry the tears you cry
And then live on, live on
Love is all we leave when we are gone . . .
Live on

Loss and grief occur for many reasons—whether it’s losing a loved one, a relationship, one’s health, a pet or a job. It’s important to remember that each person’s grief is as individual as his or her DNA—and there truly is no timeline for healing from loss.

With the fast-paced society we live in, we are often forced to “get over things.” However, for every individual, grief has its own clock.  Olivia, Beth and Amy called upon their personal experiences in creating this collection of songs which will aid, uplift and comfort those working their way through the maze of grief and loss. While taking into consideration the many causes of grief, they hope to provide the unique ability for those in need of support to heal through this music.

With songs such as “Don’t Know What To Say,” “My Heart Goes Out to You,” “Immortality” and “Stone In My Pocket,” the lyrics express different phases of the delicate recovery process while validating the experience so the listener can heal once again and soar. In addition, each artist revisits songs that have brought love and light to many of their fans. The album includes new interpretations of “Grace and Gratitude” (Newton-John), “Sand and Water” (Nielsen Chapman) and “I Will Take Care of You” (Sky).

Why is this CD important? It’s estimated that approximately 76 million Americans and tens of millions more globally are set to enter into the end of life care continuum either as patients or caregivers.  At no time in our country’s history have we seen such an unprecedented need for bereavement care.

Liv On harnesses the unique talents of these three internationally-recognized artists – and showcases the transforming power of music—to heal and shed light on the fact that it’s OK to grieve—and that the process is different for everyone. The message of Liv On is clear and affirming: the reason we grieve is because we love, and therein lies the strength for healing.

“We are honored to partner with the artists and mission of this project by contributing funds for creating a unique grief outreach and educational initiative to coordinate with this inspiring music,” says Paul VerHoeve, President of the Gentiva Hospice Foundation.

Directing the outreach and educational initiative is Dianne Gray of Hospice and Healthcare Communications. Gray explains, “It’s how we grieve that asks so much of us.  We have choices to make as we venture forth. ‘Liv On,’ the music and the resources, will help people do just that—live on!”

 

Something so strong: Crowded House celebrates their 30th anniversary with reissues of their entire catalog

A reason to put up with crowds: Crowded House will be celebrating their 30th anniversary by reissuing their entire catalog in two-disc CD packages and 180-gram heavyweight vinyl, unlocking a wealth of rare material that has been personally selected by Neil Finn and the band. They will be released on Friday,  November 18 through Universal Catalog, and are available to pre-order at the official Crowded House Store.  Digital versions will also be available on November 4.

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The two-CD packages will feature the original album with a bonus disc of rarities, B-sides and previously unreleased home demos and outtakes unearthing more than 100 unreleased tracks across the campaign. Each CD package will be delivered in high quality fan-deluxe packaging, with extended notes featuring new interviews with the band and memorabilia from personal and fan archives in a 36 page book. Exclusive CD bundles will also be available here.

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That’s Finn on the left

True to the original releases, there will also be classic reissues of each album on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl. These are all cut from the original analogue tapes at Abbey Road Studios. The LPs will not include bonus tracks.

Says Finn: “We are thrilled all seven of our albums are about to be reissued in all formats including vinyl, each one accompanied by a rich trove of rarities including writing demos and other unreleased musical curiosities, as well as new original artwork from my dear friend Nick Seymour. This has been many years in the making with much of the exhaustive listening, editing and remixing being done by the keeper of knowledge Jeremy Ansell in Auckland. It has been a labor of love for us and our mission all along was making a superlative quality, definitive document of Crowded House’s unique history for all the fans who have given us their affection over the years.”

 

 

 

This November, almost 20 years to the day when Crowded House said Farewell to the World with a celebrated concert held on the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House, they return to that iconic space to celebrate their induction into the ARIA Hall Of Fame at the 2016 ARIA Awards.

Crowded House will perform two very special Encore shows exclusive to Sydney and Australia, their only appearances worldwide during 2016, on Friday, November 25 and Saturday, November 26.

Frank Zappa Family Trust and UMe team for a frankly incredible genre-leaping Zappa canon

In his trailblazing and incredibly prolific career, artist, composer and all-around musical pioneer Frank Zappa released more than 60 albums in his lifetime, as a solo artist and with his bands the Mothers of Invention and the Mothers. Coupled with more than 40 posthumous releases since his death in 1993 at 52, figuring out where to start in Zappa’s vast, genre-leaping catalog can be daunting. ZAPPAtite–Frank Zappa’s Tastiest Tracks, due September 23 on Zappa Records/UMe and available for pre-order now, collects some of Zappa’s best known and beloved compositions, from his early psychedelic rock beginnings to his avant-garde experimentation, jazz-rock explorations, symphonic suites and satirical send-ups, compiling them into one easily digestible collection and offering key entryways into the many musical worlds of the visionary musician.
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Available on CD and digitally, with vinyl to come at a later date, the album is divided into three courses–Appetizers, Entrees and Desserts–and the food-centric theme oozes throughout the album art, which features Zappa in a diner on the cover, a track list that resembles a menu and some of Zappa’s favorite eats.

The 18 compositions that make up ZAPPAtite were compiled by Zappa’s son Ahmet Zappa and encyclopedic Zappa archivist, VaultmeisterJoe Travers.

“This isn’t a greatest hits album as Frank didn’t really have ‘hits,’ per se, nor is it a ‘best of’ since that would be an impossibility to fit so much awesome onto one disc,” says Ahmet. “It’s a veritable smorgasbord of musicality for the curious and a buffet of favorites for the fans, ZAPPAtite collects a cross section of my favorite songs composed by my dad, that lean more towards the rock side of his expansive repertoire. I hope you’re hungry because this meal for your ears rocks!”

Kicking off with the one-two punch of “I’m The Slime” and “Dirty Love” from Zappa’s 1973 watershed Gold album, Over-Nite Sensation, the collection quickly introduces Zappa’s eclecticism and salacious tongue as the songs meld polyrhythmic psychedelic rock and heavy funk with his trademark innuendo-filled lyrics. From there, the album travels through Zappa’s sprawling musical universe, highlighting vital songs and important eras of his career.frank-zappa-mona-lisa-poster

The Appetizers portion also includes the Grammy-nominated disco satire “Dancin’ Fool” and the controversial European smash “Bobby Brown Goes Down” from Zappa’s popular 1979 album, Sheik Yerbouti; and “Trouble Every Day” from Zappa’s embryonic rock band the Mothers of Invention’s groundbreaking 1966 debut, Freak Out!.

Entrees includes one of Zappa’s best known works, the universally loved instrumental “Peaches En Regalia from his classic 1969 solo sophomore record, Hot Rats; ubiquitous Top 40 hit Valley Girl, featuring his then 14-year-old daughter Moon Unit affecting a valley girl “gag-me-with-a-spoon” patois, from 1982’s Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch; to the possible autobiographical track from a parallel dimension “Joe’s Garage” of 1979’s LP of the same name; and the waggish blues rocker Cosmik Debris and the humorous Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, two standouts from one of Zappa’s most commercial and accessible albums, 1974’s Apostrophe (‘).

Desserts explores Zappa’s musical virtuosity and singular live performances and includes the comedic“Titties & Beer” from the 1978 live album, Zappa In New York; the frenetic Synclavier-fueled “G-Spot Tornado” from 1986’s Jazz From Hell; the anti-drug screed, “Cocaine Decisions” from 1983’s The Man From Utopia; and “Zoot Allures,” the heady instrumental featuring some of Zappa’s electrifying guitar playing, from 1976’s Zoot Allures. The album culminates with a performance of “Strictly Genteel” with the London Symphony Orchestra. The epic, orchestral-rock piece originally served as the grand finale to Zappa’s surrealist 1971 film, “200 Motels.”

As this year marks 50 years since the release of the Mothers of Invention’s seminal debut album, Freak Out!, hailed as one of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time by Rolling Stone, Zappa’s music and enduring legacy has been experiencing a renaissance as younger generations discover his music. A pair of documentaries has also brought about a renewed interest and focus on the forward-thinking iconoclast’s lasting impact. In June, Sony Pictures Classics released the feature documentary, “Eat That Question – Frank Zappa In His Own Words” to widespread acclaim. Comprised of TV interviews, performances and rare archival footage, the film reveals a provocative 20th century musical genius, rock legend and intellectual firebrand whose worldview reverberates into the present day and beyond. In April, filmmaker Alex Winter announced his plans for a documentary entitled, Who The F*@% Is Frank Zappa, and it quickly pushed past its goal of $500,000 to became the highest-funded documentary film in Kickstarter’s history by collecting just over $1.1 million by offering t-shirts, posters, inclusion in the film’s credits, access to never-released audio recordings, video footage, visual materials from the vault, and even the chance to purchase Zappa’s 8,000 sq. ft. Hollywood home.

Since the Zappa Family Trust and UMe entered into a global partnership for a long-term, licensing agreement encompassing Zappa’s entire recorded catalog, as well as rights management participation across the rest of the cultural icon’s creative canon, together they have been steadily reissuing the catalog on CD, LP and digitally. They have also been digging deep into Zappa’s famed vault to make available a bevy of unreleased material, live concerts and other assorted rarities.

Continuing the reissues, Zappa’s classic Hot Rats was just released on 180-gram vinyl on August 26. Recorded in 1969, his second solo album is widely known for its pioneering fusion of jazz and rock and contains one of his best known songs, “Peaches En Regalia.” Mostly an instrumental album, sans “Willie The Pimp” which features Captain Beefheart’s craggy vocals, the six-song LP is filled with complex musical passages, breathtaking playing and some beautifully melodic moments.

Enjoy a listen here UMe.lnk.to/ZappaHotRatsStream.

A chat with Barbara Cook: “If someone reads my book with an open mind, he or she can come back from dark places”

The tastiest cookbook this season? Make that Cook book, as in Barbara Cook’s autobiography Then and Now: A Memoir  (Harper, $28.99). The 88-year-old icon shares her life and career, the highs and lows, some of which are quite painful to read. There are warm memories of her golden years as Broadway’s newest ingénue and Broadway’s favorite soprano in the original productions of Plain and Fancy (1955), Candide (1956), The Music Man (1957) and She Loves Me (1963) and later into a sophisticated cabaret and concert artist . . . as well as much sadder, deeply painful memories.barbaracook01_1320848280
At the lowest point of her career, she was drunk and desperate, sleeping through the day and “I didn’t shower or brush my teeth for days at a time.” She confesses that she was “so broke I was stealing food from the supermarket by slipping sandwich meat into my coat pocket.”

Today, Cook suffers from polymyalgia rheumatica, a disease that forces her to use a wheelchair. She may be slower, her voice much softer, but she refuses to give in.  As a recovering alcoholic she still attends her AA meetings. (She quit drinking in 1977.) For that we continue to applaud her. We caught up with Cook one summer afternoon at her Upper West Side apartment and had a lovely conversation, fraught with lots of coughing and short sentences, of the good and bad and both acts—before and after sobriety—of her life. Read her story, and enjoy performances we share.2016-06-27-1467056258-9031733-Cover_BarbaraCook-thumb

First things first: You have been asked to write a book for years. Why did you finally write an autobiography?
Yes, people have wanted me to write a book for some time. I kept saying, ‘Why? Who the hell cares?’ Then it occurred to me that I have had this up and down life, and if someone reads my book with an open mind he or she can come back from dark places and have a successful career. I wrote every word, mostly by hand, on white-lined paper.

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And what dark places!
They were things I have lived with for so long. They were a huge part of my life. It’s the first time I am talking about them publicly . . . it was time to talk about the things I had held inside for a long time. It had always been easier not to discuss mother, my sister’s death, the shame and blame I had felt. I spent decades often thinking that I didn’t deserve the nice things that have happened for me. I drank and I ate. I found myself mad at my mother since she blamed me for my sister’s death from double pneumonia. I thought I could help people who have gone through or who are going through what I did. [Barbara’s sister died at 18 months; Barbara was three years old]

No wonder we didn’t like your mother after reading the book. She blamed you, as a child, for your sister’s death!
Yes. My sister had pneumonia, and then I got pneumonia and whooping cough. I gave her whooping cough on top of the pneumonia. (Pauses) When I was in therapy, my first therapist said something that was so smart ‘Did it ever occur to you that she caught it and that you didn’t give it to her?’ Wow. That really helped me because I grew up thinking I was responsible for my sister’s death. I started to think, well, if my sister hadn’t died father wouldn’t have left. I was five. (Pauses, quietly) I became responsible for my sister’s death and his leaving as well.

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When I interviewed Liza Minnelli, she told me even recovering alcoholics must always refer themselves as alcoholics. Did Liza break rules by talking about AA? 
AA does not have rules. It has suggestions. They don’t call them rules. I supposed one can break one’s own anonymity which I don’t do.

What did you think went wrong with Liza?
I know Liza and have sat around talking with her. But I don’t think I know her well enough to talk about that.

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Cook with Leonard Bernstein, during the recording of the cast album of “Candide,” the comic operetta, based on Voltaire’s satirical novel

It’s sad seeing you in a wheelchair. Do you believe you will get out of that chair one day?
Well I guess if the condition gets good I will. My spirits are mostly okay, but nobody likes to be like this. There are days when I get down, but I don’t seem to stay down for long.

Many of your fans are gay. Your only child, Adam LeGrant, is gay. You and I are talking less than a month after the tragic massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando. When I say ‘homophobia’ . . .
(Interrupts) It affects me like everyone else. Homophobia is a stupid, horrible way of thinking. It’s getting better, but it’s still, oh God! awful.

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Cook with her son Adam at the opening night of “Sondheim on Sondheim” at Studio 54 on April 22, 2010. Photo by Bruce Glikas

Were you disappointed when you learned your son Adam was gay?
When Adam told me he had something to tell me, I had no idea he was going to tell me he was gay. I thought he was going to tell me he broke up with his girlfriend and was never going to marry her. When he said he was gay, I knew I would never have grandchildren—that entered my psyche immediately. I thought there’s something wrong. I have a son I don’t know. I was really upset and I screamed and cried like crazy for about five days. It occurred to me that  all my life I felt like a little girl with her nose pressed against the glass of a candy shop. I didn’t feel part of real life. But when I bore a son I felt more connected to the world. When Adam told me was gay, I didn’t feel connected anymore.   After crying, I thought, ‘Wait a minute. What on earth is going on with you? What the hell is wrong with you? He is your son!’

I asked Liza about why she has such a gay following. She told me her fans relate to her pain, just as they related to her mother’s pain. You are aware you have a large gay following?
Oh sure. I talked about it with friends a couple of times. But I don’t know what it’s about. Could I be they relate to my problems? Who knows? We all have problems.

You made your Broadway debut in the 1951 musical Flahooley; you won a Tony for The Music Man. A far cry from growing up in Atlanta in such poverty you used to eat dinners of white bread and ketchup. You are a legend! A special survivor!
(Long laugh ) Oh God,  I don’t think of it as way. We all think we’re special. I know I am very, very grateful of the gift I have given. Singing is a wonderful way to move and touch people. I feel that I must sing because it feels so good to get all that out! I suppose it’s a gift from a  higher power.

Where do you keep your Tony?
I have a dining room and it’s kept in a bookcase in there.

After reading your book, I still cannot figure out if you liked Elaine Stritch.
(Laughs) I liked her, but not always what she did. Her behavior sometimes. Somewhere inside her was a very nice person.

Barbara+Cook+Roundabout+Theatre+Company+2016+Ligbg69Xb9flI am going to push you in a corner. What’s your favorite song?
(Laughs) Oh my goodness! The answer is no. I have no favorite.

How about a song you never sang?
I don’t think of things that way; I think of shows I wished I had done. I wanted to do The Most Happy Fella. I auditioned again and again for that and I really wanted to do it. But if I had done that, I wouldn’t have been able to do Candide.

You will be 89 on October 25. Ever think how you want to be remembered? What will be on your gravestone?
Oh gee. Wow. No one ever asked me that. (Pauses) SHE DID HER BEST.