Tag Archives: UMe

Music mavens have only one request from Santa: The massive “Unearthed”, a Johnny Cash canon

In the last decade of a career that spanned half a century, Johnny Cash capped off his musical legend with a breathtaking final act, recording a series of raw, stripped-down albums with producer Rick Rubin. Those albums reestablished Cash as a vital artist, while adding a remarkable closing chapter to his incredible body of work.

In November 2003, two months after Cash’s passing, Rubin’s label American Recordings released Unearthed, an expansive box set of material, most of it previously unreleased, recorded during the artist’s graceful twilight years. The set was originally planned to celebrate Cash and Rubin’s decade of recording together, and the final mixes had been sent to Cash, but he passed away before receiving them. The recordings, which run the stylistic gamut from stark balladry to punchy rockabilly to heartfelt gospel to classic covers, offer a stunning encapsulation of Cash’s wide-ranging musical vision, and provide a fitting epitaph for his iconic career.

To celebrate the Man in Black’s enduring and influential legacy, American Recordings and UMe have reconfigured this monolithic collection for its first-ever vinyl release, spreading Unearthed’s 79 songs over nine high-quality 180-gram vinyl LPs while expanding the original box’s distinctive packaging for the long-playing format.

Available November 3, the Unearthed vinyl box features a pair of cloth-bound books housed in an LP-sized black cloth slipcase. One book holds the nine LPs, while the other is a gorgeous 60-page coffee table book that incorporates Sylvie Simmons’ extensive liner notes, drawn from five days of interviews at Cash’s home in Tennessee, as well as Cash and Rubin’s comments on every song on the set, plus a copious selection of photographs from the recording sessions, including some of the last photos ever taken of Cash. Preorder Unearthed now: https://UMe.lnk.to/JohnnyCashUnearthed

Unearthed is divided into five thematic sections. Who’s Gonna Cry focuses on acoustic solo recordings, and finds Cash revisiting several classic songs from his legendary catalog. Trouble In Mind is oriented towards electric performances, and includes guest appearances by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Carl Perkins and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as Cash’s wife and longtime duet partner June Carter Cash. Redemption Songs is largely acoustic, and features duets with Joe Strummer, Fiona Apple, Nick Cave and Glen Campbell. My Mother’s Hymn Book demonstrates Cash’s lifelong affinity for gospel music, encompassing 15 time-honored gospel standards. Best of Cash On American offers a memorable 15-song selection of highlights from Cash’s first four albums with Rubin.

Indeed, in the years since Cash’s passing, the artist’s legend has grown and his music has gained in power.  It’s hard to think of a more appropriate and impressive sendoff for this one-of-a-kind American original than the massive musical statement that is Unearthed.

Universal Music Enterprises releases a double-vinyl LP “Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film”

Excited about the news from Universal Music Enterprises? Oui! Oui!

For the first time, the company has released a double-vinyl LP edition of Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film, the 2001 soundtrack which accompanied the release of his acclaimed motion picture. In addition to its standard black-vinyl release, the anniversary LP will also be released in a limited colored-vinyl edition that will be available exclusively through the online retailer, uDiscover.

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The film, a modern classic, is widely regarded as a reinvention of the film musical. Before the popularization of the mash-up, the “Elephant Love Medley” brought together a distillation of the twentieth century’s great songs into an argument-in-song between the Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. “Lady Marmalade” created a one-time-only super group. The album purposefully brought together an eclectic cross-section of artists and music creators to make a definitive musical statement at the dawn of the new millennium.  Where else can one hear the likes of Bono, Rufus Wainwright, Beck, David Bowie, Jose Feliciano, and Fatboy Slim all joining in a unified musical gesture?

“We wanted to celebrate the great songs of the twentieth century as a lens through which to view the world of the turn-of-the-century Paris Belle Epoque, while remaining visceral and relevant to the audience watching the film in 2001,” coos Baz Luhrmann.

The album is best known for its first single, “Lady Marmalade,” re-recorded by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink, produced by Missy Elliott and writing partner Rockwilder, with the lyrics transposing the original location from New Orleans to the title Paris nightclub.  “Lady Marmalade” reached #1 in its eighth week on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, spending five weeks at the top of the chart, the third airplay-only song in Billboard chart history to hit #1 without being released as a commercially available single. The soundtrack album debuted at #5, and peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200, while topping the charts in Australia and New Zealand. It eventually reached #1 on the Top Soundtracks chart and was certified in April, 2002, double-platinum.

The song earned a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and MTV Video Music Awards for Best Video of the Year and Best Video from a Film, along with nominations for Best Dance Video, Best Pop Video, Best Choreography and Best Art Direction. The album was Grammy-nominated in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. Luhrmann (along with music supervisor Anton Monsted, under the music production pseudonym BLAM), is a co-producer on cast recordings on the album. Luhrmann, along with music director Marius DeVries, oversaw all of the cast recordings for the film during pre-production.

The album includes Beck’s “Diamond Dogs” and Bono, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer’s take on T. Rex’s “Children of the Revolution,” among the highlights. Other tracks include Ewan McGregor and Alessandro Safina’s take on Elton John’s “Your Song,” Nicole Kidman and McGregor’s love song, “Come What May,” originally composed by David Baerwald and Kevin Gilbert for Luhrmann’s previous film, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, but first heard here.

Lionel Richie and his Commodores gets two vinyl releases with extended tune time

Heaven knows this would happen sooner than later. Commodores, the 1977 self-titled fifth studio album by the pop-funk-soul band known as the “Black Beatles,” will get a vinyl LP release from UMe, along with a special edition in blue vinyl for fans and collectors, on June 16. Both releases were cut from the original, unfaded masters, delivering on vinyl for the first time longer versions of seven of the nine tracks.Image result for commodores fifth lp

The original album spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Soul albums chart and was the group’s first crossover record, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, thanks to a pair of very different hit singles: the up-tempo “Brick House” and the sensuous Lionel Richie ballad, “Easy”.

“Easy,” the first single released from the album, reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B (known then as the Hot Soul Singles) chart and No. 4 on the Hot 100, and paved the way for Richie’s pop emergence. The song was an international hit, reaching the Top 10 in the U.K. and New Zealand and the Top 20 in Ireland and Canada.

“Brick House”, featuring the distinctive funky vocals of drummer Walter “Clyde” Orange and Ronald LaPread’s heavy-bottom bass line, which formed the foundation of the song, went to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. A group composition, its lyrics–celebrating a woman’s looks and her confidence in them–were written by Shirley Hanna-King, wife of the band’s trumpet player William “WAK” King, who initially claimed authorship before he admitted the truth.

Also featured on the LP is “Zoom”, a collaboration between Richie and Ronald LaPread. Although never officially released as a single, “Zoom” became one of the Commodores’, and Richie’s, best-known tunes. In the U.K., in fact, the LP was titled Zoom.

The Commodores were originally formed from two groups, the Mystics and the Jays, in 1968 at Tuskegee Institute, where the band members were students, signing with Motown in November, 1972 after opening for The Jackson 5 on tour. The group made a brief appearance in the 1978 film, Thank God It’s Friday, performing “Too Hot Ta Trot”.

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Songs from Commodores have enjoyed a long life in the guise of covers and samples. Fergie sampled “Zoom” on her song “All That I Got (The Make-Up Song)”, from her album The Dutchess. It has also been sampled by Snoop Dogg on “Pimpin’ Aint EZ”, a 2009 collaboration with R. Kelly from his album Malice N’ Wonderland); E-40 (from its 1998 album The Element of Surprise), Tricky (“Tricky Kid” from his 1996 album, Pre-Millennium Tension) and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (“Everytime” from their 2010 album, Uni5: The World’s Enemy).

Faith No More recorded a cover of “Easy” during the studio sessions for its 1992 album Angel Dust, following its repeated performances during their live shows, and it became an international hit in several countries, including Australia, where it went to #1, Norway, the U.K., Finland, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and Netherlands. The song was sampled by rap group Geto Boys for “Six Feet Deep” from their 1993 album, Til Death Do Us Part and by Cam’ron for his song, “Hey Ma.”

“Brick House” was the sampled foundation for the title cut of Foxy Brown’s hit LP, Ill Na Na, while the original was featured in the 1995 film Houseguest, the 1999 film Muppets From Space and the 2002 feature Undercover Brother. Prince’s ex-wife Mayte released a rap version of the song, “House of Brick,” on NPG Records in 1995, with Prince himself singing the chorus and verses. That same year, Dread Zeppelin covered the song as “Brick House (of the Holy)” on its Led Zeppelin-esque album No Quarter Pounder, while Rob Zombie, collaborating with Lionel Richie and Trina, did a version on his House of 1000 Corpses soundtrack in 2003.

Track listings

Title /Vinyl Reissue Track Time / Original LP track time

Side One
1. Squeeze the Fruit 3:03/same

2. Funny Feelings 5:57/4:53

3. Heaven Knows 6:16/4:46

4. Zoom 7:06/6:46

Side Two
1. Won’t You Come Dance With Me 4:08/3:50

2. Brick House  3:46/3:30

3. Funky Situation 4:12/3:46

4. Patch It Up 4:02/same

5. Easy 4:50/4:15

 

Glen Campbell says goodbye with ‘Adiós’, a song that brings his career full circle

Glen Campbell is saying goodbye with Adiós, the poignant title track from country legend’s farewell album. The song brings Campbell’s career full circle by reuniting him one last time with his lifelong collaborator Jimmy Webb, who penned Campbell’s stratospheric crossover hits “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” Popularized in 1989 by Linda Ronstadt, who made it a Top Ten Adult Contemporary hit, “Adiόs” is a song that Campbell always loved but never recorded.

“Glen and I used to play that song all the time,” Webb, who wrote four of the 12 tracks on the album, says. “We played it in dressing rooms, hotels, we played it over at his house, we played it at my house. He always loved that song. I heard ‘Adiós’ this morning and my wife and I both broke down and cried all over this hotel room. It’s the first time we ever heard it. This album is just kind of a gift from the gods.  This album is just kind of a gift from the gods.”

Adiós will be released June 9 on UMe and is available now for pre-order. All digital pre-orders receive an instant download of “Adiós”  along with the recently released “Everybody’s Talkin’,” Campbell’s take on the Fred Neil-penned hit made famous by Harry Nilsson in the film “Midnight Cowboy.” Pre-order @ UMe.lnk.to/AdiosPR

Campbell’s massive 1977 hit, “Southern Nights,” which was #1 on three separate charts including the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, is featured prominently in the summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and on the official soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2.

Adiós was recorded at Station West in Nashville following Campbell’s “Goodbye Tour” which he launched after revealing he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As Campbell’s wife of 34 years, Kim Campbell, explains in the album’s touching liner notes, “Glen’s abilities to play, sing and remember songs began to rapidly decline after his diagnosis in 2011. A feeling of urgency grew to get him into the studio once again to capture what magic was left. It was now or never.”

She concludes, “What you’re hearing when listening to Adiós is the beautiful and loving culmination of friends and family doing their very best for the man who inspired, raised, and entertained them for decades–giving him the chance to say goodbye to his fans, and put an amazing collection of songs onto the record store shelves.”

For the Adiós recording session, the Campbell’s turned to Glen’s longtime banjo player and family friend Carl Jackson to helm the production, play guitar and help his old friend. In preparation for the recording, Jackson, who joined Campbell’s band in the early ’70s as an 18-year-old banjo player, laid down some basic tracks and vocals for Campbell to study and practice. Jackson encouraged him every step of the way and although Campbell struggled at times because of his progressing dementia, he was clearly ecstatic about being in the studio.

The 12-track collection features songs that Campbell always loved but never got a chance to record, including several of Webb’s. In addition to the bittersweet title track, “Adiós,” Campbell also sings Webb’s longing love song “Just Like Always”and country weeper “It Won’t Bring Her Back.” He revisits “Postcard From Paris” with his sons Cal and Shannon and daughter Ashley singing the line, “I wish you were here,” resulting in a powerful and heartfelt message of a family singing together one last time.

Adiós sees Campbell putting his spin on several classic songs including “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right,” inspired by Jerry Reed’s version of Bob Dylan’s timeless tune and “Everybody’s Talkin’,” a banjo-filled take on the song that Campbell never recorded but famously performed on the “Sonny & Cher Show” in 1973 with a 19-year-old Carl Jackson. Campbell’s daughter Ashley plays banjo on the song and joins her dad on several tracks on the album. Other songwriters featured include Roger Miller with “Am I All Alone (Or Is It Only Me),” which begins with a home recording of Miller singing the tune at a guitar pull before going into Campbell’s rendition with Vince Gill on harmonies, Dickey Lee’s honky tonk heartbreaker “She Thinks I Still Care” and Jerry Reed’s Johnny Cash hit “A Thing Called Love.” Willie Nelson joins his old pal for a moving duet of Nelson’s 1968 “Funny How Time Slips Away” while Jackson tells Campbell’s life story in “Arkansas Farmboy.”

“I wrote ‘Arkansas Farmboy’ sometime in the mid- to late-‘70s on a plane bound for one of the many overseas destinations I played with Glen between 1972 and 1984,” reveals Jackson. “The song was inspired by a story that Glen told me about his grandpa teaching him ‘In The Pines’ on a five-dollar Sears & Roebuck guitar when he was only a boy. That guitar led to worldwide fame and fortune, far beyond what even some in his family could comprehend.”

Adiós was a labor of love and a way for Glen Campbell to have one more chance to do what he loves to do and leave a musical gift for fans. Campbell, who turned 81 on April 22, is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He lives in Nashville where he is surrounded by his loving family and getting the very best of care.

 

Frank Zappa’s Family Trust and UMe offer 24 (!) rare and limited-release recordings

It’s time to zap you with more Zappa news. Two dozen rare and limited-release Frank Zappa recordings will be made widely available around the world when UMe assumes distribution of the albums as part of their global partnership with the Zappa Family Trust.

In the U.S., the 24 albums are available on CD, download and streaming. They are also available internationally, with physical product to follow on April 28. Nine of the albums, including Zappa’s 100th release, Dance Me This, and the revered live disc, Roxy By Proxy, have never been available for download or streaming. The wide-ranging collection includes fan favorite and Grammy-winning titles from Zappa’s independent labels Barking Pumpkin, Vaulternative Records and Zappa Records and encompasses more than 20 years of releases, dating back to 1994’s posthumous release, Civilization Phaze III.

“For more than two decades, the only place to get exclusive Frank Zappa albums was through our mail order and website,” says Ahmet Zappa. “We are thrilled to be able to make these titles available to fans across the globe with the help of our friends at Universal.”

The albums being made available internationally to online retailers, record stores, digital retailers and streaming services include a diverse collection of previously limited releases comprised of live concerts, taped rehearsals, treasures from Zappa’s extensive and extraordinary vault, audio documentaries, archival recordings, the famed “Corsaga” series and other exciting audio ephemera. The releases span Zappa’s entire career, from his first records with the Mothers of Invention to some of the last compositions and projects he ever worked on.

Here’s the loot:

A Token Of His Extreme (Zappa Records, 2013)
In August 1974, Zappa and The Mothers of Invention taped two legendary sets at KCET-TV Studios in Hollywood, CA. This popular footage was used by Zappa in a number of different edits originally intended as a TV special and eventually featured in the home video release The Dub Room Special (1982). A Token Of His Extreme was officially issued on DVD in 2013 along with the release of the soundtrack on CD.

Buffalo (Vaulternative Records, 2007)
Originally released in 2007, Buffalo captures an entire concert recorded live at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York on October 25, 1980. The original tapes were salvaged from the Vault by Vaultmeister Joe Travers and mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Frank Filipetti.

Carnegie Hall (Vaulternative Records, 2011)
As history would have it, and thanks to the persistence of promoter Ron Delsener, Zappa & his Mothers actually played Carnegie Hall. The two shows on October 11, 1971 were recorded for posterity to mono 1/4” tape using a concealed Nagra tape machine and a Electrovoice 664 microphone.

Civilization Phaze III (Barking Pumpkin, 1994)
This is one of the final projects to be finished by Zappa before his passing, and completes the trilogy of Masterworks established first with Lumpy Gravy and We’re Only In It For The Money in 1968. Originally envisioned as Lumpy Gravy, Phase III, this music morphed over a period of years in various states of completion. Realized mainly on the Synclavier and including performances by the Ensemble Modern and newly recorded dialogue from inside the piano, Frank finally put the finishing touches on the double CD in 1992. It received a Grammy for Best Recording Package in 1995.

Congress Shall Make No Law . . . (Zappa Records, 2010)
Gail Zappa always said that Frank always made a point to “educate” his audience as well as entertain them. She continued on that note with this release, an informative document that focuses on the importance of his testimonies to fight censorship. Zappa’s address to the Senate Committee Hearings in 1985 and to the Maryland State Legislature in 1986 are featured here in their entirety combined with various Synclavier and interview excerpts found in the Vault.

Dance Me This (Zappa Records, 2015)
The 100th release by the Zappa Family Trust and the last project to be finished by Zappa before his passing, Dance Me This, was composed and realized on the Synclavier, FZ’s go-to digital workstation that was state of the art at the time of the recording. The music is described by the Maestro as “designed for modern dance groups.” The album was finished but shelved by the Trust until finally receiving its much anticipated release in 2015.

Everything Is Healing Nicely (Barking Pumpkin, 1999)
The Ensemble Modern from Frankfurt, Germany spent a lot of time with Zappa during the last few years of his life. As the group was working closely with Zappa preparing for a series of concerts scheduled in 1992 (to be known as “The Yellow Shark”), Zappa, in his typical manner, was digitally recording every rehearsal. Everything Is Healing Nicely features highlights from those recordings, hand-picked by Zappa, compiled posthumously by then staff engineer Spence Chrislu, and released exclusively through mail order in 1999.

Feeding the Monkies at Ma Maison (Zappa Records, 2011)
Around 1987 or so,  Zappa completed a digital master of this title which was intended for a vinyl release. He never released it and re-worked some of the material for another project, mainly Civilization, Phaze III. Feeding the Monkies at Ma Maison, realized on the Synclavier, eventually found a release in original form in 2011. The CD contains unreleased compositions, unedited versions and added bonus tracks from the time period.

Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa (Barking Pumpkin, 1996)
When released on Halloween 1996, Frank Zappa Plays the Music Of Frank Zappa was considered to be an “Audio Tombstone” by the family. It features the three signature guitar pieces: “Black Napkins,” “Zoot Allures” and “Watermelon In Easter Hay” in their original released form (remastered) with added live versions that predate the issued masters. Also included is “Merely A Blues In A: from Paris ’74.  A fitting “Memorial Tribute” indeed.

FZ: OZ (Vaulternative Records, 2002) 
FZ:OZ is the very first release from Vaulternative Records, the label created by the Zappa Family Trust that focuses on material found in the infamous Zappa Vault. Released in 2002, this audio nugget contains an almost complete concert from FZ’s second and final visit to Sydney, Australia in early 1976.

Greasy Love Songs (Zappa Records, 2010)
The third installment of the Project/Object Audio Documentary series focuses on the 40th anniversary of Zappa’s 1968 homage to doo-wop and R&B. Cruising With Ruben & The Jets was FZ & The Mothers’ fourth album release. Greasy Love Songs brings together the long awaited release of the original 1968 mix along with mix outtakes, interview excerpts and oddities from the sessions. Also contains liner notes from Cheech Marin.

Hammersmith Odeon (Zappa Records, 2010)
In early 1978, Zappa played a string of dates between January and February at the famous Hammersmith Odeon in London, England. Hammersmith Odeon, first issued in conjunction with a special birthday event at The Roundhouse in London in 2010, contains performances from those shows. These recordings are famous for being the basis for the Sheik Yerbouti album. This album contains all alternate performances and highlights from the master show tapes.

Imaginary Diseases (Zappa Records, 2006)
Released in 2006, Imaginary Diseases compiles for the first time all live recordings from a very rare and undocumented Zappa band line-up. In 1972, after taking a 20-piece “electric orchestra” on the road for eight dates as The Grand Wazoo, FZ reduced the personnel to 10 pieces and toured this new band for roughly two months. Billed as The Mothers of Invention but eventually becoming known as the “Petit Wazoo,” audio from this period was never released during Frank’s lifetime.

Joe’s Camouflage (Vaulternative Records, 2014)
In late summer 1975, Zappa formed a band that never got past the rehearsal stage, but managed to have their own band promo shots taken with fall touring rapidly approaching. This Joe’s series entry, Joe’s Camouflage, finds mainly 4-track rehearsal tapes that captured FZ experimenting with this group, updating arrangements of older songs along with some new compositions, some that were never revisited later in his career. Featuring Novi Novog on viola and keys, Robert ‘Frog’ Camarena on vocals and Denny Walley on guitar, all three of whom left the band shortly after these recordings were made.

Joe’s Corsage (Vaulternative Records, 2004)
The first in a series of special material released from the Vault. The titles of the “Corsaga” are a play on words of FZ’s famous Joe’s Garaget itle, with the contents produced and compiled by the Vaultmeister, Joe Travers. Joe’s Corsage, the first release created in 2004, was produced in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the creation of The Mothers in 1964. It focuses on the origin of the Mothers of Invention as told by Frank himself, along with early recordings made before their first record contract in early 1966.

Joe’s Domage (Vaulternative Records, 2004) 
This, the second entry from the “Corsaga” series, gives insight into how Frank worked. The recording from this primitive cassette tape captures the first rehearsal of the Wazoo band, freezing in time early ideas and arrangements of material that went on to be used on The Grand Wazoo & Waka/Jawaka album sessions of 1972. Recorded ambiently in Frank’s rehearsal room in Hollywood, Frank conducted these sessions while confined to a wheelchair after being pushed offstage in London, England roughly three months prior.

Joe’s Menage (Vaulternative Records, 2008)
 Zappa, notorious for recording everything, carried cassettes with him on the road. On one occasion backstage during the late ’70s, Frank gave longtime fan Ole’ Lysgaard a cassette which contained a dub of a live recording excerpt from a concert in Williamsburg, VA on November 1, 1975. Thanks to Ole’, this excerpt has been forever immortalized as the content for “Corsaga” number 4.  Joe’s Menage is transferred directly from the show master tape.

Joe’s Xmasage (Vaulternative Records, 2005)
Joe’s Xmasage was released on Frank’s birthday during the Christmas season of 2005. Joe worked closely with Gail Zappa on this third installment of the “Corsaga,” showcasing vintage recordings from Frank’s life in the early ’60s. Music, historical audio documents and Conceptual Continuity clues fill up this special Christmas dish from the Vault for you and yours.

MOFO (Zappa Records, 2006)
This two-disc version of the Making of Freak Out! Project/Object Audio Documentary contains highlights from the 4-disc version which is available only through mail order. MOFO was released in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of The Mothers of Invention’s first album, Freak Out!, it includes the original album’s 1966 vinyl mix along with exclusive tracks not found anywhere else.

One Shot Deal (Zappa Records, 2008)
Released in 2008, One Shot Deal features chunks of material found in the vault selected by FZ and compiled by Gail Zappa and Joe Travers. Ranging from 1972 to 1981, One Shot Deal blends live compositions, improvisations and guitar solos from various world tours, all recorded live.

Philly ’76 (Vaulternative Records, 2009)
Zappa played the Philadelphia Spectrum Theater on October 29, 1976. The concert was professionally recorded and was a perfect contender for the ongoing concert series from Vaulternative Records. Philly ‘76 was released in 2009 and features a complete show from a rare band line-up with another stellar mix from Grammy- winning engineer Frank Filipetti.

Roxy By Proxy (Zappa Records, 2014)
Roxy By Proxy contains material recorded live at the infamous run of shows at The Roxy Theater in Hollywood, CA, December 1973. It’s the first compilation made from digital mixes created in 1987 by Frank with Bob Stone at FZ’s home studio, The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. The sequencing plays like a full show while the package features extensive liner notes from the one and only Ruth Underwood, then the percussionist in the band.

The Dub Room Special (Zappa Records, 2007)
A previously unreleased soundtrack album created by Zappa himself, contains material found in The Dub Room Special, a 90-minute home video first released by mail order only in 1982. Tracks consist of live cuts from The Palladium in NYC on Halloween 1981, along with performances taped at KCET-TV studios in Los Angeles during 1974.

WAZOO (Vaulternative Records, 2007)
WAZOO contains a complete show recorded live to stereo tape at the Boston Music Hall on September 24, 1972. Originally released in 2007, this set is the only document found in the Vault of the short-lived Grand Wazoo, an ambitious 20-piece “electric orchestra” formed by Zappa and toured for only eight dates during the fall of 1972.

Universal music has the Brain to release ‘The Brain Box–Cerebral Sounds Of Brain Records 1972-1979″

It’s a no-brainer. Founded in 1972, German label Brain now commands a status and reputation among listeners and collectors all over the world that would have been unimaginable at the time. Today, it is regarded as one of the most important label outlets for German rock music of the ’70s, a genre generally referred to as krautrock, although the term hardly does justice to the range of styles covered by these groups and their records. In any case, it was coined by the English media and only became popular as an afterthought. Brain first used it in May 1974 in an advertisement in Musikexpress magazine for their “Kraut Rock” compilation. The label licensed international acts and albums right from the start in order to expand its portfolio.

Now, for the first time, the story of the label is revisited in depth, thanks to UMe. Set for release on April 21, The Brain Box–Cerebral Sounds Of Brain Records 1972-1979 contains 8 CDs and a total of 83 songs. The set is completed by a 76-page hardcover book with extensive information about the label as well as photographs and artwork; it also includes a Brain tote bag featuring their iconic logo. The collection was compiled by Mark Powell, who also provided the English liner notes. The German introduction was written by krautrock expert Andreas Dewald. Grobschnitt icon Eroc was in charge of remastering. The Brain Box can be pre-ordered here: brainrecords.lnk.to/CerebralSounds.

The general sense of upheaval and the revolutionary spirit of the late ’60s–politically, socially and artistically–began to create exciting results in the German music scene. Amon Düül II and Can released their first records; Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream pushed the boundaries of electronic music; Ihre Kinder and Floh De Cologne sang in German. And in 1969, journalist Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser launched the now equally iconic Ohr label, followed by Pilz and Kosmische Kuriere. However, soon two of his employees, Günter Körber and Bruno Wendel, got so irritated by the increasing eccentricity and LSD experiments of their boss that, in late 1971, they decided to quit and set up their own label under the umbrella of Hamburg-based company Metronome.

Some Ohr acts, such as Embryo, Guru Guru and Klaus Schulze, went with them and were soon joined by many more on their new label Brain: Jane, Cluster, Grobschnitt, Os Mundi, Thirsty Moon, and Emergency, to name just a few. Following the departure of Günter Körber around 1975 (he went on to start Sky Records), the label lost its driving force and headed in a more commercial direction. Today most of the repertoire is part of the Universal Music catalog.

 The first five CDs in this set are dedicated to German bands–from The Scorpions, Gomorrha, Sameti, Yatha Sidhra, Satin Whale, RMO, Eroc, Harmonia, Schicke Führs Fröhling, Liliental and Anyone’s Daughter with their four-part track “Adonis,. The sixth CD contains material from international records, including tracks by Steamhammer, Spyro Gyra, Atomic Rooster, Alexis Korner & Snape, Gryphon, Dutch group Light, Locomotiv GT from Hungary, and Finish band Tasavallan Presidentti and their guitarist Jukka Tolonen.

 A particular highlight of this box is the first-time release of the two “Brain Festival Essen” double albums, which first came out in 1977 and 1978 respectively, and during which the label presented its bands exclusively on a big stage and then on record: established acts such as Jane, Guru Guru, Novalis and RMO, as well as bands that were new at the time, including Gate, Message, SFF, To Be, Blonker and the Norwegian jazz rock five-piece Ruphus, which closed the event both times. These two albums mark the perfect documentary finish to an extraordinary label history which is always worth exploring.

 

Save the date! “Hits And Pieces–The Best of Marc Almond and Soft Cell” hits March 10

For the record: As a youngster growing up in Southport, Merseyside, Peter Mark Sinclair “Marc” Almond was immersed in the magical world of the three-minute single. Remember those 45s with those nice round holes in their centers? The 45-rpm single was King, and Almond worshipped at its spinning throne. Marc had always aspired to become a great singles artist; he wanted to follow in the footsteps of two of his heroes, David Bowie and Scott Walker in turning the single into an art form.

Those records, as well as tuning in to Radio Caroline, Radio Luxembourg and a weekly fix of Top of the Pops, acted as catalysts for the aspiring singer’s dreams and ambitions. He achieved exactly that when “Tainted Love” rocketed to the top of the UK chart in September 1981 (and became the biggest selling single of the year), commencing a singles chart love affair that has played a huge part in Marc’s 40 + year career and has seen him shift in excess of 30 million sales.

Now that impressive singles career is celebrated on March 10  with the UMe release of Hits And Pieces–The Best Of Marc Almond And Soft Cell, which comes available as a 2-disc or single CD digital download and traces Almond’s singles career from Soft Cell through to his solo work and collaborations.

Almond has always excelled at recording superb singles–he has secured a body of work that encompasses truly outstanding originals, covers and duets. Highlights of Hits And Pieces include “Tainted Love”; “What!”; “Say Hello Wave Goodbye”; the No. 1-reaching Gene Pitney duet “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart”; his interpretation of Scott Walker’s cover of Jacques Brel’s “Jacky” (with its epic kitchen sink production from Trevor Horn); a cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” (with Bronski Beat); “Melancholy Rose” and “Ruby Red” from the Mother Fist album, a Tony Visconti-produced nugget “The Dancing Marquis”; last year’s superb “The Velvet Trail”; the glam stomper “Varieté” and another unforgettable cover in the form of “The Days of Pearly Spencer”.

To complete the package is the newest track on this compilation: The previously unreleased “A Kind Of Love”, three effortlessly breezy minutes that hint at Almond’s past–the “light summery psychedelic sounds” on that mid-’60s transistor radio, the Northern soul scene that inspired Soft Cell to cover “Tainted Love” and “What!”–without really sounding much like anything Almond has recorded before. “A Kind Of Love” was co-written and produced by Chris Braide. The loving tune is Almond the Singles Artist showing once again how to turn three-and-a-half minutes into aural gold.

Almond, a LaVeyan Satanist, has been with the same man for more than two decades. Yet he says he dislikes being pigeon-holed as “‘gay’ . . . such a label “enables people to marginalize your work and reduce its importance, implying that it won’t be of any interest to anyone who isn’t gay”.

Skip the New Year’s bubbly. Head straight for the “Fresh Cream.”

A most musically way to begin the New Year: The deluxe edition UMe release of Fresh Cream, the debut album by the British, blues boom power trio, Cream.

The 3-CD + 1 Blu-Ray audio disc come housed in a gatefold sleeve within a rigid slipcase and includes a 64-page hardback book, featuring new sleeve notes by respected Rolling Stone writer David Fricke. The set comprises various alternate and new stereo mixes plus several, previously unreleased BBC sessions. A special six-album 180g vinyl edition of Fresh Cream will also be released in April.

Can you name who was who?

Originally released in 1966, at the height of the UK blues bloom, Fresh Cream showcased the not inconsiderable talents of three of the then music scene’s brightest lights: Eric Clapton, fresh from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers; drummer, Ginger Baker, straight from the Graham Bond Organisation; Jack Bruce who, at the time, had just left Manfred Mann. Collectively the three had decided to give up their roles as much sought after sidemen to form their own super group.

Coming together as Cream in the early summer of 1966, the trio moved at impressive speed to make the release of Fresh Cream in December of the same year. Highlights include the racing harmonica work-out and the call and response excitements on Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”; a spine-tingling vocal on the Willie Dixon classic, “Spoonful”; as well as the self-penned “Sleepy Time Time”, which gave Clapton a free hand to wake up all and sundry. Their rousing treatment of the traditional standard, “Cat’s Squirrel” alerted listeners to just how well Clapton, Baker and Bruce musically complemented each other.

 

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.

 

Diana Ross self-titled album returns on vinyl. Shall we and she have a drink?