FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 2011
TODD RUNDGREN’S LIVE PEFORMANCE OF CLASSIC ALBUM TODD COMING ON S’MORE/ROCKBEAT ON FEBRUARY 14, 2012 ON DVD AND CD
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — By the time he recorded the eponymous Todd in 1973, Todd Rundgren had charted with such evergreen hits as “Hello It’s Me,” “I Saw the Light” and “We Gotta Get You a Woman,” and had also been dubbed “Rock’s Renaissance Man” by Rolling Stone after releasing studio masterpieces Something/Anything? and A Wizard, A True Star. Todd was a departure; the iconoclastic artist included pop ballads alongside medleys, anthems, and prog rock. The album is universally heralded as one of Rundgren’s best, often compared to Electric Ladyland and Pet Sounds.
In 2010 — 37 years after its original release — Rundgren performed Todd live in its entirety for the first time ever, as part a special limited six-date sold-out tour (the Healing album was also performed, which will be a subsequent stand-alone live DVD/CD release). The September 14 date at Philadelphia’s Keswick Theater, in Rundgren’s hometown, was videotaped and is being released as both a live DVD by S’More Entertainment and a live audio CD by sibling RockBeat Records. Joining him onstage were Utopia’s Kasim Sulton (bass), The Cars’ Greg Hawkes (keyboards), The Tubes’ Prairie Prince (drums), Guitar Player Magazine’s editor Jesse Gress (guitar), Bobby Strickland (sax) and a full choir. Both the DVD and CD will hit retail on February 14, 2012.
In addition to the musical performance, multiple Emmy Award-winning television personality and sportscaster Roy Firestone, whose knowledge of Rundgren’s work is encyclopedic, was enlisted to conduct an extensive in-depth conversation with Rundgren onstage, which will also be packaged with the DVD.
From pop classic “A Dream Goes on Forever” to rocker “Heavy Metal Kids,” from the anthemic “Sons of 1984” to the explosive Blue Eyed Soul of “The Last Ride,” from the industry satire “An Elpee’s Worth of Toons” to the Gilbert & Sullivan homage “The Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song,” Todd is a masterful example of Rundgren’s broad musical palette.
About Todd Rundgren:
A Wizard, A True Star. The title of Todd Rundgren’s 1973 solo album aptly sums up the contributions of this multi-faceted artist to state-of-the-art music. As a songwriter, video pioneer, producer, recording artist, computer software developer, conceptualist, and, most recently, interactive artist (re-designated TR-i), Rundgren has made a lasting impact on both the form and content of popular music.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rundgren began playing guitar as a teenager, going on to found and front The Nazz, the quintessential ’60s cult group. In 1969, he left the band to pursue a solo career, recording his debut offering, the legendary Runt. But it was 1972’s seminal Something/Anything?, on which he played all the instruments, sang all the vocal parts, and acted as his own producer, that catapulted Todd into the superstar limelight, prompting the press to unanimously dub him “Rock’s New Wunderkind.” It was followed by such landmark LPs as The Hermit of Mink Hollow and the above mentioned A Wizard, A True Star, as well as such hit singles as “I Saw the Light,” “Hello It’s Me,” “Can We Still Be Friends,” and “Bang the Drum.”
In 1974, Todd formed Utopia, an entirely new approach to the concept of interactive musicianship, and embarked on an extensive round of touring and recording. Standout Utopia offerings included Oops! Wrong Planet, Adventures in Utopia, and Oblivion. Along the way, Utopia combined technical virtuosity and creative passion to create music that, for millions, defined the term “progressive rock.”
Rundgren’s myriad production projects include albums by Patti Smith, Cheap Trick, Psychedelic Furs, Meatloaf, XTC, Grand Funk Railroad, and Hall and Oates. Rounding out his reputation as rock’s Renaissance Man, Rundgren composed all the music and lyrics for Joe Papp’s 1989 Off-Broadway production of Joe Orton’s Up Against It (the screenplay commissioned by the Beatles for what was meant to have been their third motion picture). He also composed the score for several features including Dumb & Dumber as well as for a number of television series, including Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Crime Story.
Early last year Rundgren performed his iconic 1973 album A Wizard, A True Star in concert in its entirety for the first time ever, and recently did the same with a double bill: Todd and Healing. His latest two studio albums are Todd Rundgren’s Johnson, a collection of classic Robert Johnson songs, and reProduction, covers of songs Todd has produced for other artists.
In 1998 Todd debuted his new PatroNet technology, which for the first time allowed fans to subscribe directly to an artist’s musical output via the Internet. This caps a long history of groundbreaking early multimedia “firsts,” including:
• 1978: The first interactive television concert, broadcast live over the Warner/QUBE system in Columbus, Ohio (the home audience chose each song in real time during the concert by voting via QUBE’s 2-way operating system).
• 1978: The first live nationally broadcast stereo radio concert (by microwave), linking 40 cities around the country.
• 1979: The opening of Utopia Video Studios, a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art facility. The first project produced by Todd there is Gustav Holst’s The Planets, commissioned by RCA SelectaVision as the first demonstration software for their new videodisc format.
• 1980: Creation of the first color graphics tablet, which was licensed to Apple and released as the Utopia Graphics Tablet.
• 1981: Time Heals, the first music video to utilize state-of-the-art compositing of live action and computer graphics (produced and directed by Todd), becomes the second video to be played on MTV (after Video Killed the Radio Star).
• 1982: The first live national cablecast of a rock concert (on the USA Network), simulcast in stereo to over 120 radio stations.
• 1982: The first two commercially released music videos, one of which was nominated for the first-ever Grammy awarded for “Best Short Form Video” in 1983.
• 1992: The release of No World Order, the world’s first interactive record album on CD-i. Also the first commercially available music downloads via CompuServe.
• 1994: The release of The Individualist, the world’s first full-length Enhanced CD.
• 1995: The world’s first interactive concert tour.
• 1998: Launches PatroNet, the world’s first direct artist subscription service.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2011
BUCK OWENS’ PRE-CAPITOL RECORDS RECORDINGS
COLLECTED ON BUCK OWENS — BOUND FOR BAKERSFIELD 1953-1956, DUE ON ROCKBEAT RECORDS ON SEPTEMBER 27
Owens’ tracks for Pep, Chesterfield and La Brea Records, recorded in Hollywood and Bakersfield, illustrate the roots of Owens’ sound with collaborators like Fuzzy Owen and Corky Jones
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Buck Owens is synonymous with the Bakersfield sound of country music that also gave rise to the Maddox brothers and Rose, Tommy Collins, Ferlin Husky and in later years Merle Haggard.
Owens’ earliest recordings for independent labels in Southern California — ahead of his lucrative career on Capitol Records in the ’60s and ’70s — have been collected on Buck Owens — Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection, scheduled for release on September 27 on RockBeat Records through e0ne Entertainment. The suggested retail price is $14.98.
The 24-song reissue opens with selections from his first known session in 1953 in Hollywood, which produced two singles (“Down on the Corner of Love” b/w “It Don’t Show on Me” and “The House Down the Block” b/w “Right After the Dance”) on Claude Caviness’ Pico Rivera-based Pep Records. It closes with a 1956 Bakersfield session that produced singles on Chesterfield Records and an album on La Brea Records. Included are previously unreleased alternate takes including an overdubbed version of “Hot Dog.”
Liner notes for Bound for Bakersfield were written by Rich Kienzle, a music historian with special expertise in West Coast country. RockBeat VP or A&R James Austin and Jim Shaw of Buck Owens’ Buckaroos compiled the collection.
According to Kienzle’s notes, “Buck Owens was 21 when he rolled into Bakersfield from Phoenix in May, 1951, a part-time musician and laborer who had his eye on a musical career. It would take some time. There were lessons to be learned and dues to be paid. But in the final analysis, the Buck of legend, of the raw honky-tonk vocals, catchy commercial tunes, twangy Fender Telecasters and churning, aggressive ‘freight train’ rhythms was forged in Bakersfield's honky tonks and recording studios there and in L.A. from 1951 to 1957.”
Owens is best known for his later Capitol Records hits like “Tiger by the Tail,” “Foolin’ Around” and “Act Naturally.” But his ’50s pre-Capitol recordings find him working in a honky tonk milieu (except for the rockabilly tracks such as the 1957 single “Hot Dog”). One can hear early flashes of the distinctive sound he'd perfect at Capitol, the sound that made him famous.
With his indie singles earning him both regional recognition and buzz from A&R departments at both Capitol and Columbia Records, Owens passed on New York’s Columbia (whose producer told Owens to “hold on” until he could come to the West Coast) in favor of Hollywood-based Capitol Records, which made him an offer on the spot. Owens was known to Capitol from his work on sessions by one of the originators of the Bakersfield sound, Tommy Collins. Buck’s own first Capitol session in 1957 aimed for a pop-rock audience, trying, as he later said, “to make the biggest hillbilly in Bakersfield into somethin’ he wasn’t.” In 1959, he was recorded as his true, honky-tonking self, with great success.
Kienzle notes, “Buck Owens was always known for his spot-on instincts. Clearly, his expectation that he’d have no recording career beyond Pep and the odd demo or two was a rare miscalculation. These raw, primal performances, blended with hundreds of hours onstage at the Blackboard (club in Bakersfield), were essentially part of a long rehearsal for the fame that came soon enough.”
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2011
JACKIE DeSHANNON’S WHEN YOU WALK IN THE ROOM REVISITS INFLUENTIAL SINGER-SONGWRITER’S HITS, DUE SEPTEMBER 27 ON ROCKBEAT RECORDS
Included are newly-recorded, timelessly produced versions of “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” “Bette Davis Eyes” and other originals, plus one song apiece by Jack Nitzche/Sonny Bono and Burt Bacharach/Hal David.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — “Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart.” That was the opening mantra of Jackie DeShannon’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” which she penned with her brother Randy Myers and Jimmy Holiday. The 1969 single took the singer-songwriter to the pinnacle in popular music, selling more than a million copies. In the late 1980s, Annie Lennox and Al Green paired up on a hit remake but it was Jackie’s original recording that served as one of the anthems of a generation during the socially and politically turbulent Vietnam War era.
On When You Walk in the Room, the newly-recorded collection of revisited favorites from the DeShannon oeuvre scheduled for September 27, 2011 release on RockBeat Records (through eOne Entertainment), the gems are allowed to breathe through stripped-down productions, allowing their lyrics to resonate and touch your soul. Liner notes are by Huffington Post music writer Mike Ragogna.
The album contains such classics as “When You Walk in the Room,” “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” “Bette Davis Eyes,” “Come and Stay With Me,” and “Heart in Hand” — all of which are DeShannon originals or co-writes, plus Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono’s “Needles and Pins” and Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love.”
One listen to the relaxed tempo treatment of “Breakaway” or the soft-ballad rebirth of “When You Walk in the Room” and you’ll understand why Jackie DeShannon remains one of the most cherished artists of the singer-songwriter era and why she was inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.
Nothing but an acoustic guitar and bass are needed whenever a vocalist this expressive is involved. That approach — with splashes of strings and an electric guitar or two — is how Jackie tackles these recordings. This includes a new song, “Will You Stay in My Life,” a highly visual creation that reinforces the romanticism inherent in DeShannon’s repertoire.
The revisited Jackie DeShannon classics featured on this package are like mile markers on pop’s journey through the decades. “When You Walk in the Room,” with words and music by the singer, and “Needles and Pins” represent the early 1960s Jackie. Her long tenure with Liberty/Imperial Records was best expressed by her work with eclectic arranger-composer Nitzsche, a close friend and artistic collaborator. U.K. Mersey Beat band the Searchers hung their star over both sides of the pond with covers of the DeShannon tunes that would become rock standards. But on her versions, Jackie reads the lyrics with a wider range of emotions, revealing a deep, evolving artist.
As the ’60s evolved, DeShannon grew as a writer and recording artist. She had the good fortune to join the Beatles in 1964 as an opening act on their first U.S. tour, performed with blues guitarist Ry Cooder at the legendary Ash Grove, and wrote with fellow Metric Music Publishing song scribe Randy Newman. Folk-rock pioneers the Byrds featured Jackie’s original “Don’t Doubt Yourself Babe” on their debut album. In England, she composed and recorded with a pre-Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page, and subsequently wrote one of British songbird Marianne Faithfull’s signature songs, “Come and Stay With Me.” Back home, Jackie was a frequent presence on hip television music shows such as Shindig! and sang with Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell and the Everly Brothers.
DeShannon achieved a top ten hit in 1965 with her exquisitely soulful rendition of Bacharach and David’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” The recording — which earned three Grammy nominations, including Best Female Vocal, Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Vocal and Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Single — became the definitive interpretation and was a recent induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Jackie firmly established herself with a song of her own, on her own terms, with “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” bringing her another Best Contemporary Female Vocal Grammy® nomination. She also came up with the bluesy “Bad Water,” which Ray Charles’ Raelettes issued in 1970. As that decade progressed, DeShannon wrote with Van Morrison and John Bettis, among others.
Her writing work with Donna Weiss took DeShannon into the ’80s: their “Bette Davis Eyes” broke Kim Carnes as a major artist of that decade. The song was one of the U.S.’s first “new wave” hits, and earned Jackie the 1982 Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
On When You Walk in the Room, DeShannon revisits these tunes in a timeless context. The songs themselves are the stars of the album.
Jackie DeShannon’s songs have been performed by a wide range of artists, including Van Morrison, Al Green, Annie Lennox, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, The Byrds, Marianne Faithfull, The Temptations, Cher, The Searchers, Brenda Lee, Rick Nelson, The Carpenters, Anne Murray, Delaney & Bonnie, Ella Fitzgerald, Steve Forbert, Pam Tillis, The Dave Clark Five, Tracey Ullman, Dean Martin, Mary Mary, Dionne Warwick, Bobby Vee, The Fleetwoods, Dobie Gray, Rita Coolidge, Duane Eddy and dozens more.
About RockBeat Records:
Arny Schorr, president of S’more Entertainment, Inc., proud purveyors of classic TV, cult films, long-form music and unique special interest programming, has announced the formation of Rockbeat Records, a new audio label dedicated to the release of enhanced CDs and vinyl and the creation of reissues and compilations on a variety of music genres. James Austin, previously Vice President of A&R at Rhino Records, has joined the company in the capacity of Vice President of A&R, overseeing the acquisition and development of all audio releases for the new label. S’more Entertainment and RockBeat have entered into an exclusive distribution license with eOne Entertainment for distribution for the company’s CD, vinyl and DVD product mix, as well as for digital distribution.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2011
ALBERTA HUNTER’S DOWNHEARTED BLUES: LIVE AT THE COOKERY, ONE OF THE CLASSIC BLUES SINGER’S FINAL RECORDINGS,
TO BE RELEASED AS CD AND 180-GRAM 2-LP VINYL SET
Backed by pianist Gerald Cook and bassist Jimmy Lewis on this 1981 album, Hunter was at the height of her career revival.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — It’s difficult to decide which was the most remarkable facet of pioneering blues chanteuse Alberta Hunter’s incredible career. Was it her role in the vanguard of the “classic blues” movement of the early 1920s, when she recorded prolifically for Paramount and other labels during the industry’s first foray into the idiom? Her entertainment of grateful U.S. troops during not one war, but two? Or her heartwarming late 1970s/early 1980s comeback on the New York cabaret circuit after more than two decades away from singing professionally, when she was well into her 80s? One fact is inescapable: when she died on October 17, 1984 in New York at age 89, Hunter was a genuine star once more.
In 1974, the singer had largely retired from music due to health concerns. But musical pursuits called once again when club owner Barney Josephson invited her to star for six weeks at the Cookery, his hip Greenwich Village cabaret, in October 1977. The live recording of a subsequent 1981 Cookery performance resulted in Downhearted Blues: Live at the Cookery, which will be released on both CD and 180-gram vinyl August 30, 2011 on RockBeat Records, a new label focused on quality reissues and new recordings by heritage artists, distributed by eOne Distribution. Musicologist Bill Dahl contributed liner notes. (The title was previously available on CD, but has been re-mastered and will now be available on CD and 180-gram vinyl for the first time.)
Born on April 1, 1895 in Memphis, Hunter was weaned on W.C. Handy’s pioneering blues. By 16 she was in Chicago in the midst of a celebrated five-year residence at the city’s Dreamland club, singing in front of King Oliver & His Creole Jazz Band with Louis Armstrong. Hunter made her recording debut in 1921 for Black Swan Records, one of the first black-owned labels, with “How Long, Sweet Daddy, How Long” b/w “Bring Back the Joys.” From there she went to Paramount Records, cutting half a dozen sides including the original “Down Hearted Blues,” which she wrote with piano accompanist Lovie Austin and forcefully revisited on the 1981 live album. (Bessie Smith, the immortal Empress of the Blues, ended up scoring a bigger hit with the song in 1923.) Hunter continued to record prolifically for Paramount, backed by Fletcher Henderson and, on 1923’s “Stingaree Blues! ,” Fats Waller.
Having conquered Chicago, Hunter moved to New York in 1923. She recorded for Gennett, OKeh, RCA Victor and Columbia. During this time she ventured to jazz-obsessed France in 1927, where she co-starred with Paul Robeson in a production of Showboat and recorded into the ’30s for HMV. When she returned to the U.S., she recorded for ARC, Decca and Bluebird. She hosted a radio program in the ’30s and Broadway welcomed her back in 1939, when she shared the stage with Ethel Waters in Mamba’s Daughters. When World War II broke out, Hunter boldly served her country in the USO, entertaining troops across the globe. She continued into the Korean conflict.
There were scattered post-war sessions. But when her beloved mother died in 1954 and after starring in a Broadway flop, Hunter bowed out of performing to train as a nurse. Upon graduation in 1957 at age 62 — an age at which many folks contemplate retirement — she began a new career at a New York hospital. Other than recording a couple of Chris Albertson-produced LPs cut two weeks apart in 1961 (Songs We Taught Your Mother, a set for Prestige Bluesville also featuring Victoria Spivey and Lucille Hegamin) and Chicago: The Living Legends for Riverside, she kept a determinedly low profile for more than two decades — afraid the hospital would learn how far past mandatory retirement age she was and let her go.
In 1974, Hunter was forced out of her job by hospital regulations. It was October 1977 when Cookery’s Josephson invited her to headline his room. Next, legendary A&R man John Hammond cut an album’s worth of her classics (with a few new ones) for the Columbia soundtrack of director Alan Rudolph’s 1978 film Remember My Name. Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas invited her to brighten their TV talkfests, 60 Minutes profiled her, and Columbia recorded three more albums.
The live recordings that form Downhearted Blues: Live at the Cookery are from one of her many triumphant evenings at the club. Her sense of swing and theatricality remained impeccable, with longtime pianist and arranger Gerald Cook and sturdy upright bassist Jimmy Lewis providing sterling accompaniment. Hunter glided through saucy double-entendre-loaded numbers (“Handy Man,” “Two-Fisted Workin’ Man”), time-honored standards (a rip-roaring “I Got Rhythm,” the tender “Georgia On My Mind”), and the touching ballads “The Love I Have From You” (from Remember My Name) and “You’re Welcome To Come Back Home.”
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