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June 7, 2016


Mono Box: The Complete Specialty and Vee-Jay Albums

due out July 15th on Specialty Records

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Specialty Records — an imprint of Concord Bicycle Music — is pleased to announce the release of Mono Box: The Complete Specialty and Vee-Jay Albums: a deluxe, 5-LP box set that celebrates one of the most influential entertainers in popular music history, Little Richard. The collection includes the entire output of studio albums that Little Richard had recorded for both the Specialty and Vee-Jay labels, spanning 1957–1965. The albums, each featuring original label and jacket art, have been meticulously remastered from analog tapes and are presented in their original mono mixes. Completing the collection is a 16-page booklet featuring new liner notes by journalist Bill Dahl, plus era-specific photos.

In the early ’50s, Little Richard Penniman combined the spirit of church music, the bawdiness of blues and the swing of New Orleans jazz and turned it into something altogether new — rock ’n’ roll. When the Macon, Georgia native signed to Art Rupe’s Specialty Records, Little Richard began to develop his signature sound and flamboyant persona. His legendary debut album, Here’s Little Richard(1957), is a bold introduction to the artist, featuring the iconic tracks “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally.” His 1958 follow-up, Little Richard, finds the singer on his rise to superstardom, with hits like “Lucille,” “Good Golly Miss Molly” and the title track of Jayne Mansfield hit flick The Girl Can't Help It, in which Little Richard appeared. The artist’s third and final album for Specialty, The Fabulous Little Richard(1959), was released soon after Richard had traded in a life of fame to focus on spreading the gospel. The LP featured standout tracks from Richard’s 1955-57 Specialty sessions, including “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” “Lonesome and Blue” and “Kansas City.”

Having taken several years out of the spotlight to focus on religion, Little Richard returned to his rock ’n’ roll roots in the early ’60s. This period kicked off with a successful European tour, followed by a new record contract with Vee-Jay Records. His first release with the label was 1964’s Little Richard Is Back — a triumphant collection of old favorites and new tunes, with a backing band that featured a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Richard’s second and final studio release with Vee-Jay was 1965’s His Greatest Hits. Despite the name, this album is not a compilation, but rather features the singer revisiting his classic hits nearly a decade later, introducing new arrangements and instrumentation. In his liner notes for the Mono Box, musicologist Bill Dahl writes, “As the end of the decade grew near and the first rock and roll revival loomed, Richard emerged at its forefront, his outrageous image earning him overdue network TV exposure.” Indeed, by the end of his tenure on Vee-Jay, Richard had firmly cemented his status as a rock ’n’ roll legend. Dahl continues, “It’s impossible to imagine how the genre would have developed if not for his massive innovations.”

Mono Box: The Complete Specialty and Vee-Jay Albums will be released July 15th on Specialty Records.

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March 28, 2016

Miles David, the Prestige Years. Photo by Esmond Edwards/CTSIMAGES

11-LP box set includes all of Davis’ 10-inch albums
on Prestige Records that feature the artist as a leader

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In advance of what would have been Miles Davis’ 90th birthday, Prestige Records, a division of Concord Bicycle Music, will celebrate this milestone with The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection — a lavish, 11-LP box set that commemorates the legendary trumpeter’s appearances as a young leader for Prestige Records during the 10-inch LP era, from 1951 to 1954. Street date is May 13, 2016.

The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection presents all ten 10-inch LPs on which Miles Davis appeared as a leader for Prestige Records, plus a bonus record featuring Davis as a guest artist with Lee Konitz, all remastered from the original analog master tapes and faithfully reproduced on 10-inch vinyl, including the original cover artwork and liner notes. Also in the box is a 16-page booklet featuring rare photographs and insightful new notes by GRAMMY® Award-winning author Ashley Kahn, as well as a collectible print of a painting by Davis. The complete list of albums includes: Modern Jazz Trumpets (featuring Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham and Fats Navarro); The New Sounds; Blue Period; Miles Davis Plays the Compositions of Al Cohn; Miles Davis Quartet; Miles Davis All Star Sextet; Miles Davis Quintet; Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins; Miles Davis All Stars, Vol. 1; Miles Davis All Stars, Vol. 2 and, as a bonus, Lee Konitz’s The New Sounds, featuring Davis as a guest artist. These records offer an incredible lineup of talent, including performances by Art Blakey, Al Cohn, Roy Haynes, Percy Heath, Milt Jackson, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver and Zoot Sims, among many other legends of the genre.

Nick Phillips, the producer of the box set, remarks, “This collection presents an exciting and important period in Miles Davis’ development as an artist; one in which he is clearly distinguishing himself from the other bop stylists of the era and is rapidly developing the uniquely lyrical and powerful voice that remains so instantly recognizable and influential to this day.”

In addition to the vinyl box set, Concord is in the process of making Davis’ entire Prestige catalog of 12-inch albums available as 24-bit digital editions. Each title has been meticulously restored from the original analog tapes by GRAMMY® Award-winning mastering engineer Paul Blakemore. The campaign, which has been ongoing since February 2016, includes such albums as Dig, Walkin’, Cookin’, Relaxin’, Workin’, and Steamin’, among others. The rollout is expected to be completed by May, 2016.


June 17, 2015


Twelve-song compilation, due July 31,
contains hits from the Peanuts soundtracks,
plus a rare vocal by Guaraldi,
with new liner notes by Guaraldi historian Derrick Bang

LOS ANGELES , Calif. — While the Peanuts comic strip appeared daily in newspapers across the world, Vince Guaraldi’ s music helped bring the gang to wider audiences through his jazzy Peanuts television and film soundtrack recordings. Charles M. Schulz created the world of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy from his outpost in the Midwestern city of St. Paul, Minnesota. Meanwhile, westward in California, pianist Vince Guaraldi was helping put San Francisco on the jazz map through a series of early recordings with the likes of Cal Tjader, Woody Herman and Conte Candoli.

In early 1964, when Lee Mendelson began work on a television documentary about the world of Peanuts, he heard Guaraldi’s GRAMMY® Award-winning instrumental hit “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” on the radio, while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Mendelson knew he’d found precisely the right musical foil for Peanuts. Over the next decade, Guaraldi composed and performed scores for numerous Peanuts TV specials — including the evergreen A Charlie Brown Christmas — along with a feature film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

On July 31, 2015, Fantasy Records will release Peanuts Greatest Hits, a 12-song survey of some of the most popular music from the Guaraldi Peanuts soundtracks. It is also planned for a vinyl LP release in September 2015.

The compilation features “Linus and Lucy,” the song that most frequently comes to mind when one thinks of Peanuts soundtracks, as well as “Oh, Good Grief” and several seasonal pieces (“Great Pumpkin Waltz,” “Thanksgiving Theme,” “Christmas Is Coming” and more).

Most selections feature Guaraldi backed by one of his longtime trios: Monty Budwig, bass; and Colin Bailey, drums; or, in later years, Fred Marshall, bass; and Jerry Granelli, drums. You’ll also hear some notable additions to the core trio format: “Little Birdie” features Guaraldi's own vocals, with the addition of horns as well. Two versions of “Christmas Time Is Here” appear: one by the trio, the other adding the young members of the St. Paul's Church Choir from nearby San Rafael, California.

Television producer Mendelson, who orchestrated the conversion of Peanuts from comic strip to successful TV and movie franchise, thereby spawning a 37-year collaboration with Schulz, said of Guaraldi: “Vince’s music was so right, and so perfect, for Charlie Brown and the other characters. Something deep inside of me said, ‘This is gonna make the whole thing work.’ Vince's music was the missing ingredient that would make everything happen.”

Guaraldi died unexpectedly at the young age of 47 in 1976, ending his 26-year musical career. He had just finished recording the soundtrack for It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown. His life is chronicled in Vince Guaraldi at the Piano, authored by Derrick Bang, who wrote the liner notes for this and other Fantasy reissues.

Track Listing:
1. Linus and Lucy
2. Charlie Brown Theme
3. Baseball Theme
4. Oh, Good Grief
5. Happiness Theme
6. Little Birdie
7. Great Pumpkin Waltz
8. Thanksgiving Theme
9. Christmas Is Coming
10. Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental)
11. Skating
12. Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal)

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April 23, 2015


Directly From My Heart: The Best of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years
features 64 classics and rarities spanning the mid-’50s through the mid-’60s. Set features 36-page booklet with notes by Billy Vera.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In the early ’50s, Little Richard Penniman combined the spirit of church music, the barroom-hewn raunch of blues and the swing of New Orleans jazz and turned it into something altogether new — rock ’n’ roll. When the Macon, Ga. native signed to Art Rupe’s Specialty Records in Los Angeles, he was in turn dispatched to New Orleans to record at Cosimo’s legendary studio. Over the course of several sessions, the Little Richard sound began to develop around hits like “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Lucille,” to name a few.

On June 2, 2015, Specialty Records — a unit of Concord Music Group — will release Directly From My Heart: The Best of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years, an all-new three-CD box set containing 64 songs that chronicle Richard’s Specialty and Vee-Jay years — 1956 to 1965. The collection contains Richard’s classics as well as B-sides and rarities. Also included is a 30-plus page illustrated booklet featuring a handful of rare photos plus new liner notes by singer/songwriter/music historian Billy Vera.
Many artists begin their career on small labels and work their way up to the majors. Conversely, Richard began his recording career at RCA Victor, brought to the label’s attention by an Atlanta DJ. There he released four singles, no hits among them. Next he signed to Don Robey’s Houston-based Duke/Peacock Records, initially as part of the Tempo Toppers band and later as a solo. The solo sides remained unreleased until Richard struck gold at his next destination, Specialty Records.

It was at New Orleans’ legendary J&M Music Shop that Richard chanced upon Specialty’s New Orleans A&R rep, Bumps Blackwell, who brought him to the attention of Rupe in Los Angeles. On September 14, 1955, Richard, Blackwell, and New Orleans’ R&B “A team” of session players (Lee Allen and Red Tyler,saxophones; Huey Smith, piano; Justin Adams, guitar; Frank Fields, bass and Earl Palmer, drums) went into Cosimo Matassa’s studio on Rampart Street. Sadly, despite the roomful of talent, the session was, as Vera describes “an exercise in commonplace.”

An unexpected bout of magic would shortly ensue. As Vera writes, “During a lunch break at the Dew Drop Inn, Richard hopped up on the piano and began shouting out a ribald tune he always performed, usually in drag, for those college boys, ‘Tutti Frutti, Good Bootie.’ Blackwell’s eyes lit up, for the first time hearing something special in the entertainer. Spotting local songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie across the room at another table, he asked if she could clean up the naughty lyric for public consumption. She did so back at Cosimo’s and, ‘Wop bop-a-loom-bop alop bam boom,’ a hit and a career were born.”
Over the next two years, Little Richard went on to place fourteen songs in the Rhythm & Blues top ten. These include his iconic performances of “Lucille,” “Jenny Jenny,” “Keep a Knockin’” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.” The astonishing fact is, all these classics were recorded within a mere 18-month period.

Richard continued with Specialty until 1964, when he was brought to the attention of Chicagoans Vivian Carter and Jim Bracken — whose first initials formed the name of Vee-Jay Records. Having freshly lost both The Beatles and The Four Seasons, and having lost control of the company in a move to the West Coast, the label was on its final legs. It didn’t help that in the studio Richard used his road band, the Upsetters, who were not quite studio quality at a time the Wrecking Crew was setting the standard. On top of that, the Beatles had broken big, and a fellow flamboyant Georgia native named James Brown had broken onto the R&B scene with a brand new bag. With a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar, Richard recorded a Don Covay tune (Covay had once been employed by Richard as his chauffer and opening act), “I Don’t Know What You’ve Got But It’s Got Me,” which reached #12 on the R&B chart. The song was done in James Brown’s style and briefly brought Richard back. However, music had changed, and the R&B sounds of the day were now emanating from Stax and Motown.

Little Richard continued to make records for South Los Angeles’ Modern Records , CBS R&B subsidiary OKeh, Brunswick , and briefly, Specialty again (in 1971), before signing to Reprise , where his “Freedom Blues” cracked the Top 50 pop and Top 30 R&B. His peak recording years behind him, Richard remained on the scene into the ’80s and early ’90s as a colorful personality.

Vera elaborates: “Changing his look, wearing an outlandish wig, outrageous outfits and letting his large personality come out, he became a sought after guest on talk shows, like Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas, taking over every conversation and talking over even the hosts. Couch potato America loved it and high paying concerts followed.”
In recent years, the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Hollywood Walk of Fame star recipient has stayed closer to the homefront. But the three-CD set Directly From My Heart: The Best of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years is a reminder of the time, place and circumstance that helped define rock ’n’ roll.



July 29, 2014


Albums available September 2
Packaging to include new liner notes by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Stax Records will reissue two seminal albums by one of the most influential bands of the 20th century: #1 Record and Radio City by Big Star. Both releases, which have been out of print as individual CDs in the U.S. for many years, will be remastered from the original analog tape sources, and are due out September 2, 2014.

#1 Record and Radio City will be available digitally in standard, Mastered-for-iTunes and 24-bit high-resolution audio. LPs of the two albums are presently in print, available via Stax Records. Liner notes by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills (a vocal fan of Big Star, as well as a core musician on the “Big Star’s Thirdconcert series) will accompany the releases.

Big Star, considered to be among the founders of power pop, has been cited as an influence by many of the major alternative bands of the ’80s and ’90s, and continues to be a powerful presence in today’s musical landscape. Artists such as R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, The Replacements (who famously penned the song“Alex Chilton”) and Wilco all enthusiastically tout the artistic impact of the group. Mike Mills recalls Big Staras “a band who had gotten it right, who made records that sounded like rock and roll bands should sound. A band who wrote all the songs, from flat-out rockers to achingly beautiful ballads that were still somehow rock songs.”

The Memphis band formed in 1971, with a lineup of singer/songwriters Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel. Heavily inspired by the British Invasion, Chilton and Bell drew on the Lennon/McCartney style of collaborative songwriting to create their debut — Chilton taking a visceral approach, often laying down guitar and vocal tracks in one take, while Bell added polish with overdubs and harmonies. Ardent Records founder John Fry engineered the album in his studio and released #1 Record on his Stax-distributed label in 1972 to sweeping critical success.

In the fall of 1973, following the departure of Chris Bell, the band regrouped and began work on album number two with Alex Chilton at the helm and Fry once again behind the console. Losing the creative input of a major talent such as Bell could have wreaked havoc on the band’s progress, however, Chilton was able to use this opportunity to shine, and prove himself to be an incredible songwriter on his own. Journalists and fans agreed: bearing another tongue-in-cheek title, Radio City garnered rave reviews and produced several cult favorites, including “September Gurls,” which has been covered by everyone from The Bangles to Superdrag.

The legacies of #1 Record and Radio City have far exceeded the original commercial letdowns of both albums, which are now considered to be milestones in the history of rock by critics and musicians alike. The two LPs made it onto Rolling Stone ’s 500 “Greatest Albums of All Time” lists, while tracks from each album (“Thirteen” and “September Gurls”) are also among the magazine’s 500 “Greatest Songs of All Time.” Numerous artists (Elliot Smith, Beck and Jeff Buckley to name a few) have recorded covers of the band’s songs. Big Star has been honored with a tribute record ( Big Star Small World, 2006) a documentary (2012’s Nothing Can Hurt Me ) and a touring live show, “Big Star’s Third ,” which features the sole-surviving original member of the band, Jody Stephens, on drums, guest vocalists, a chamber orchestra and a core band including Mike Mills, Chris Stamey of The dB’s, The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and others. The ever-changing ensemble performs Big Star’s album Third/Sister Lovers, as well as favorites from the first two records.

Of the reissues, Stephens says, “Very glad to see these two coming out with the sonic approval of John Fry. Grateful for Chris, Andy and Alex and for Jon and Ken. The music’s journey continues.”

Fry adds, “All I can say is that these were the best projects I have ever worked with and the best artists and friends I have ever had the pleasure to know. I love the music and the cast of characters: Chris, Alex Andy and Jody. I think fans will be pleased by the sound and the packaging. They may have to turn the volume up a bit, since we did not want to remove the analog dynamic range. Sit back and enjoy the definitive digital versions of #1 Record and Radio City , two of my three favorite albums.”

The band’s enduring legacy can be attributed to many factors, but perhaps Mike Mills summarizes it best: “Songwriting has always been, for me, the most vital gauge of a band’s quality, and these guys were clearly masters ... [Big Star] gave you something satisfying to listen to, no matter how many times you heard them.”


April 7, 2014


Ten-disc boxed set from triple-threat musician
surveys Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s
45-year career; out on Fantasy Records August 5.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The stellar work of singer-songwriter-guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Nils Lofgren receives a comprehensive retrospective in Face the Music, a definitively annotated nine-CD/one-DVD boxed set that takes in Lofgren’s 45-year solo career, due from Fantasy Records on August 5, 2014.

The collection’s music component, selected by Lofgren himself, comprises 169 tracks, stretching back to Lofgren’s early work with his Washington, D.C.-area band Grin, which he founded at the age of 17 in 1968, and surveying both his major-label solo albums and independent self-released music. Two of the CDs contain 40 previously unreleased tracks and rarities. The DVD features 20 video clips selected from a body of performances as diverse as Nils’ career.

A detailed, lavishly illustrated 136-page booklet, with an introduction by noted rock journalist Dave Marsh, contains Lofgren’s track-by-track commentary and personal reflections on his work, as well as his tours of duty as a sideman with such luminaries as Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and Ringo Starr. The set also contains homages to Lofgren by such colleagues as Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Sting, Bono, and Paul Rodgers.

In its entirety, the set gives a full-length, intimately detailed picture of the performer Neil Young — who hired the 18-year-old Lofgren to play piano and guitar on After the Gold Rush in 1969 — calls “an inspiration to me for many years.” A true triple threat, Lofgren has distinguished himself as the writer of melodic, affecting, and hard-rocking songs, a sensitive and seemingly ageless singer, and a guitarist of incomparable power and imagination.

Lofgren says the project was initiated during a 2012 meeting with executives from Concord Music Group. “To my surprise, they said they wanted to do this boxed set, a retrospective of my entire 45 years, of my music,” he says. “That’s how the ball got rolling. The record company had their good ideas, and then they said, ‘It’s your boxed set, so you pick.’ They asked me to make the final choices and decisions, including every song.”

Lofgren selected his own personal favorites from his four albums with Grin (1970-73) and his highly praised solo releases for A&M, MCA/Backstreets, CBS, and Rykodisc (1975-1992), many of which had been allowed to go out of print during the compact disc era. He says, “If it takes 45 minutes of work on the Internet to find one track from 40 years ago, that’s not really available in my eyes.”

Selections include such Grin classics as “Like Rain,” “White Lies,” “Slippery Fingers,” and “Beggar’s Day” (the last of which he also recorded on Crazy Horse’s 1971 debut), plus solo gems like “Back It Up,” “The Sun Hasn’t Set,” “You’re the Weight,” “Incidentally … It’s Over,” and “Dreams Die Hard.” His collaborators include Young, Springsteen, Starr, Graham Nash, Levon Helm, Al Kooper, Buddy Miles, Aynsley Dunbar, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

He also culled material from 10 unjustly overlooked albums issued since 1993 on his own Cattle Track Road Records imprint and sold via his web site,

“The writing was on the wall,” Lofgren says, “and in the mid-’90s I realized, look, without some hit records and some power to throw your weight around with the companies, you’re lost. Thanks to technology, I realized, ‘Now is the time for me to walk away from that and put out music I’m proud of on a web site,’ which I’ve done for 20 years. At the end of the day, I’ve continued to make solo records and release them. The downside is that it’s very grass-roots, and a lot of people might not hear about it. The upside is I’ve kept that kind of artistic freedom that I got kind of spoiled with.”

Lofgren’s selection includes gripping tracks from his studio collections of original songs — Damaged Goods (1995), Break Away Angel (2001), Sacred Weapon (2006), and Old School (2011) — plus cuts from four live albums, the soundtrack to the 1993 film Every Breath, his all-instrumental release Tuff Stuff! The Best of the All-Madden Team Band (2001), and his recital of Neil Young songs The Loner (2008). Such stars as Willie Nelson, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Paul Rodgers, Foreigner’s Lou Gramm, and Sam Moore of Sam & Dave appear.

Lofgren says of the glittering group of musicians who lent their talents to his records, “Those were times that I don’t think can happen anymore. I look back and I’m quite amazed that I’ve been that blessed to make that kind of music with that cast of characters. Things like that are just magical. I never could have dreamed that they’d happen.”

Long-time Lofgren fans will find some delightful surprises on the two CDs of unissued material, which reaches back in time to his work with the pre-Grin band Paul Dowell and the Dolphin and includes rarities from the Grin era. He says, “The piece de resistance for me was finding an old master tape of Neil Young singing and playing piano on ‘Keith Don’t Go’ with Grin, and getting his permission to use it after we remixed it.”

As revealing as the music are Lofgren’s personal recollections in the set’s generous booklet, which looks at his life from his days as an accordion-playing youth in Chicago to his tours of duty with Springsteen’s E Street Band. Originally, the musician had planned to write the notes with his friend Dave Marsh. In the end, it became as close to a Nils Lofgren autobiography as we are likely to get. “Early on Dave broke the bad news: ‘This is going to be much better, and potentially a great story, if you write it and I edit it,’” Lofgren says. “I hadn’t planned on doing that kind of writing, but I couldn’t disagree with him. Hand-writing the story, it does have a completely different flavor to it. People have always asked me to write a book, and I’ve always said no. I would have to talk about my very famous friends a lot, which could probably be done with dignity, but my heart’s not in it. Dave kept saying, ‘Go deeper, write more.’ This was kind of a great excuse to share some of these stories through the history of the music. Hopefully it will give people, even fans, a deeper insight into what was going on.”

Face the Music is a much-needed in-depth look at the groundbreaking solo work of one of rock’s most underestimated, creative, and irreplaceable musicians. Summing up his monumental project, the unfailingly modest Lofgren says, “We were just grateful to play our faces off, anywhere and everywhere. To look back 45 years and to hand-pick this music and to hear it all together is pretty stunning. I’m really grateful that Concord gave me the creative license to put it together. It’s something I’ve never done before, and had given up hope of doing, and I’m very excited about it.”

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October 18, 2013


Six CDs with 121 tracks include entire Fantasy album catalog
as well as many live performances and full disc of pre-CCR rarities

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Even the most in-depth exploration of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fantasy Records catalog wouldn’t necessarily reveal that they hailed from the Bay Area. Their glorious brand of stripped-down roots rock seemed to emanate straight from the murky swamps of Louisiana and smoky juke joints dotting the outskirts of Memphis, with a fierce musical attack that was raw and primal. CCR was one of the most important and commercially popular bands of the late 1960s and early ’70s, defined by John Fogerty’s whipsaw vocals, slashing lead guitar, and prolific muse. Their seminal albums for Fantasy Records (six platinum, the other gold) are loaded with timeless hits.

Set for reissue on November 11, Creedence Clearwater Revival: Boxed Set contains everything the rockers cut in the studio for Fantasy from 1967 to 1972 — their seven studio albums (Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys, Cosmo’s Factory, Pendulum, and Mardi Gras) packed with smashes (“Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Down on the Corner,” “Fortunate Son,” “Green River,” “Travelin’ Band,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”). There’s nearly a disc-and-a-half of live material from concerts at the Oakland Coliseum and across the European continent as well, proving that CCR was as explosive onstage as within the confines of the studio.

Also on board are 25 1961-1967 rarities from the days when John, his brother Tom (on rhythm guitar and some lead vocals), bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford did business as Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets and then the Golliwogs. These hard-rocking garage band gems, collectors’ items all, comprise the entire first disc of this box.

The big difference between this edition of the CCR box and its acclaimed 2001 predecessor is its sleeker, highly attractive packaging. The artwork highlights the band’s strong affinity for Kustom amplifiers in all their Naugahyde-covered glory, paying clever tribute to CCR’s gritty garage–rock roots in the process. Its “amplified” cover looks like a Kustom rig; prominently featured elsewhere is a photo of John and Doug sharing an onstage high-five with one of those distinctive amps in the background. It’s featured on the inner sleeve of each disc, divided into six sections. When laid out together in the correct order, those six individual sleeves create the full photograph. The joyous image is as powerful as the music itself.

Comprehensive liner notes by well-known rock journalists Ben Fong-Torres, Robert Christgau, Ed Ward, Joel Selvin, Craig Werner, Alec Palao and Dave Marsh expertly detail CCR’s career in the deluxe accompanying booklet, which contains a plethora of vintage photos of the iconic band. No box set will ever cover CCR’s history more comprehensively than this one — or do it more attractively.

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October 3, 2013

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Guitarist John Fahey’s concept of Christmas music was a little different from the norm. The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album, the acoustic guitarist’s visionary 1968 set, was a scintillating collection of solo steel-string adaptations of beloved traditional Yuletide melodies (“Joy to the World,” “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”). It reportedly sold more than 100,000 copies on Fahey’s own Takoma label, tabbing it as his best-selling album, and inspired several more memorable holiday sets from the guitarist: Christmas With John Fahey Vol. II (1975, also on Takoma), Christmas Guitar Volume One (1982, on the Varrick label), and Popular Songs of Christmas & New Year’s, a duet collection with fellow guitarist Terry Robb (1983, on Varrick).

All four of those brilliant albums are generously represented on Fantasy’s newly compiled Christmas Guitar Soli With John Fahey, a 14-song compilation of highlights from Fahey’s Yuletide catalog. Scheduled for October 29 CD release, the collection provides a lovely soundtrack for the upcoming holiday season and boasts newly created cover art by Tom Weller, who designed the artwork for many of Fahey’s original Takoma albums, that’s done in the style of those classic sets. In addition, Fantasy will reissue The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album in its original vinyl LP form on November 5.

The new CD’s first five selections (the three mentioned above, plus “Auld Lang Syne” and a medley of “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” and “O, Come All Ye Faithful”) hail from the classic ’68 set. “Oh Holy Night,” “Carol of the Bells” (a duet with guitarist Richard Ruskin), and a medley of “Oh, Tannenbaum,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “Jingle Bells” are taken from his 1975 follow-up LP. Moving over to the Varrick imprint, Fahey recorded “The First Noel,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” and “Silent Night, Holy Night” for Christmas Guitar Volume One, while “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “The Christmas Song,” and a medley of “Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” hail from the duet album with Robb. The compilation’s 14 selections summarize Fahey’s long-term commitment to finger-picking timeless Christmas melodies on his acoustic axe.

Born February 28, 1939 in Washington, D.C., Fahey was brought up from age six in suburban Takoma Park, Maryland (inspiring the name of his future label). Blending country, bluegrass, and blues into a groundbreaking guitar technique that also incorporated classical influences (a hybrid later termed American Primitivism), Fahey first recorded in 1958 and released his debut album (which introduced his alter ego of Blind Joe Death) the next year on his fledgling Takoma imprint. Only 100 copies were pressed initially. In 1963, Fahey and fellow record collector ED Denson tracked down pre-war blues legend Bukka White, recording him anew for Takoma and relaunching White’s career. Fahey released his own Takoma encore set, Death Chants Breakdowns and Military Waltzes, during this same period. t releasing all of his subsequent albums on Takoma, Fahey continued to record prolifically for the label that he founded into the early 1980s. He weathered a bout with ill health and lived in poverty for a time, but made a heartwarming comeback during the ‘90s. Fahey died February 22, 2001 following a coronary bypass operation.

The concept of playing holiday classics on acoustic steel-string guitar was unheard of until Fahey explored the tantalizing possibility. Christmas Guitar Soli With John Fahey collects the best of his Yuletide performances on one warmly inspiring collection.


August 25, 2013


Limited edition six-CD set is packaged with 78-rpm vinyl record, DVD and 258-page book. Contains complete Library of Congress recordings
(released in their entirety for the first time).

78 disc features Bob Dylan performing Guthrie’s “VD City”
backed with Guthrie singing “The Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done.”

BOSTON, Mass. — Woody Guthrie may be more popular in the 21st century than he ever was in the 20th. The unexpected success of Mermaid Avenue — the 1998 and 2000 albums of Woody Guthrie lyrics set to music by Billy Bragg, Wilco and others —have sparked a resurgence of interest in Guthrie’s own recordings. Several fine anthologies have been released in this new century, but only this year has the ultimate treasure trove of the songwriter's earliest recordings been unlocked and shared with the wider world.

Woody Guthrie: American Radical Patriot
, set for release on Rounder Records <> on October 22, 2013 in time for holiday gift giving, will prove a revelation to even the most devoted Guthrie fan, for it unveils hours of songs, interviews and even radio dramas that the general public has never heard.

In 1940, a 27-year-old Guthrie recorded his music for the first time (other than some radio airchecks) when he visited the U.S. Government's Library of Congress and taped five hours of singing and talking with the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. Here were many of the classic compositions that Guthrie would soon record for Folkways and RCA Victor: “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh,” “Do Re Mi,” “Pretty Boy Floyd,” “I Ain’t Got No Home” and “Hard, Ain’t It Hard.” But the stories Guthrie told Lomax about his life created a rich context for the songs, and the songs put an emotional charge into the stories.

The three-hour version of those sessions (released as The Library of Congress Recordings by Elektra in 1964 and reissued by Rounder in 1998) was justly hailed by critic Bill Friskics-Warren as “three volumes of conversation, songs and humanity that offer the most complete portrait of America’s greatest folksinger.” Now it’s an even more complete portrait. Here for the first time is the full five-hour session, presented in cleaned-up audio with a word-for-word transcript in the 258-page book (available as a PDF) that anchors this boxed set.

But the Library of Congress sessions take up only four of the six audio CDs in American Radical Patriot — and the box also includes the book, a DVD and a 78-rpm vinyl disc. Much of the material has never been encountered by any but the luckiest researchers, and taken as a complete package, the set broadens and deepens our understanding of the singer-songwriter who so profoundly influenced Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Richie Havens, Neil Young, Ani DiFranco, Taj Mahal, U2, the Byrds, the Band and many more.

This exclusive set, limited to 5,000 copies, also includes the 17 songs Guthrie composed and recorded while an employee of the Pacific Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration (including a never-before-released version of “Pastures of Plenty”), the five songs he composed and performed with the Almanac Singers to support the anti-fascist effort in World War II, two radio dramas that Guthrie helped write and perform for the U.S. Office of War Information, three songs from broadcasts of Jazz America, 10 songs he composed and performed for the U.S. Public Health Service’s anti-venereal disease campaign and a health-themed radio drama that he helped write and perform for Columbia University. The 78 disc contains Bob Dylan’s 1961 home recording of Guthrie’s “VD City” and Guthrie’s 1951 home recording of “The Greatest Thing That Man Has Ever Done.”

A connecting thread runs through this material: It's all tied to the American government in some way, either commissioned directly by a federal agency or created to support a national military or health effort. This may surprise people who know of Guthrie as an agitator for unions, the poor and the marginalized and as a columnist for two different newspapers published by the U.S. Communist Party (though he was never a party member).

Yet Guthrie was named after a U.S. president (Woodrow Wilson) and was a consistent supporter of collective action (whether through left-wing organizations or the government’s New Deal programs like the dam-building along the Columbia River). He served more than a year in the Merchant Marine and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946.

“Was it a paradox that a ‘radical’ would record songs for a government he opposed?” asks Bill Nowlin, the co-founder of Rounder Records who wrote the essays and notes that fill up much of this set’s book. Nowlin answered his own question by coming up with the package’s title: American Radical Patriot. But it’s the paradox of that title that Nowlin explores in depth in the full-length book that's as central to this boxed set as the DVD or any of the CDs.

“Woody Guthrie loved his country,” asserts Nowlin. “He didn’t agree with all of the policies of the government, or the ways in which some people took advantage of
others . . . But he appreciated and understood and embraced the imperfections and he seemed to have a fundamental faith that people would see to it that things got fixed, if only more people realized that there really could be better ways.”

The story of how Guthrie was born and raised in the oil-boom town of Okemah, Oklahoma, how he watched his family destroyed by fires, illness and bankruptcy, joined the Dust Bowl migration to California, and began singing for camp dances, union rallies and local radio shows has been told in multiple biographies and films as well as in Guthrie’s own three autobiographical books: Bound for Glory, Seeds of Man and House of Earth. But none of them can match the experience of hearing that story told by Guthrie himself and embellished with his own songs.

Perhaps it’s ironic that it took an American government agency, the Library of Congress, to document this oral history of a self-described “lonesome traveler.” Perhaps it’s ironic that it took another, the Bonneville Power Administration, to spur Guthrie to the most productive songwriting month of his career —“probably the best time of his life,” according to his son Arlo. Or maybe it’s not so ironic, after all. Maybe, as Nowlin suggests in his provocative essay, a democratic government was the only vehicle that could realize Guthrie’s vision of the people working together to create “the biggest thing that man has ever done.”

# # #


August 16, 2013


Package, available as CD and double-LP vinyl on Rounder Records on October 15, coincides with festival screenings of Lily Keber’s film Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker

NEW ORLEANS, La. — The Bayou Maharajah. The Piano Pope. The Ivory Emperor. The Bronze Liberace. Music Magnifico. Gonzo. The Piano Prince of New Orleans. James Booker coined more than a few extravagant nicknames for himself, and he lived up to every one of them.

James Carroll Booker III was also an unheralded genius of American music, a New Orleans pianist whose dizzying technique and mastery of the keyboard was matched only by his imagination and his soulfulness. His short and often flamboyant life was also marked by struggle and lost opportunity.

Classified, recorded in October, 1982, was one of only two studio albums released during his lifetime, and this remixed and expanded edition offers a poignant and often surprising look at his music, for if James Booker is often cited in the piano lineage that passes from Jelly Roll Morton to Professor Longhair to his own student, Harry Connick Jr., New Orleans tradition was only his jumping-off point.

On October 15, 2013, Rounder Records will release James Booker’s Classified: Remixed and Expanded. The expanded volume’s 22 tracks, which include nine never-before-released performances, range from the pure rhythm and blues of “All Around the World,” to the light classical “Madame X,” to his astonishing version of the jazz standard “Angel Eyes.” Among the unreleased songs is the slow blues instrumental, “I’m Not Sayin’,” and his syncopated reading of Nino Rota’s “Theme From the Godfather.” Whether playing solo or accompanied by saxophonist Alvin “Red” Tyler, bassist James Singleton and drummer Johnny Vidacovich, Booker ties together a giddy array of musical influences with virtuosity and an often quirky sense of humor. If New Orleans was the only place that could have produced such a talent and such a character as James Booker, the scope of his musical vision was boundless, and he stands alone in the New Orleans piano pantheon.

All Music Guide cites the original edition of Classified as arguably Booker’s best album (even if that mythical collection may still reside in the live recordings his passionate fans have traded over the years). Three decades later, with the new material and dramatically improved sonics, it stands as a lynchpin in his discography.

Included are new notes by co-producer Scott Billington and several new photographs. Classified will be released both on CD and as a limited edition double-LP vinyl set. Lily Keber’s film, Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker, has been playing to rave reviews, and that interest in James Booker is expanding beyond his devoted cult following.

According to Grammy Award-winning pianist George Winston, “James Booker and Professor Longhair and Dr. John are the three biggest influences and inspirations for the New Orleans piano renaissance that is happening more and more, and James’s music is even more influential now than when he was alive. He is my biggest overall piano influence and has been since I first heard his recordings in 1982. It’s so great to have everything here from his final studio sessions.”

Track Listing:
1. Classified
2. If You're Lonely
3. Warsaw Concerto* 2:47
4. Lawdy Miss Clawdy (solo piano alternate take)*
5. Medley: Tico Tico / Papa Was a Rascal / So Swell When You're Well*
6. All Around the World
7. Angel Eyes
8. Lonely Avenue*
9. Professor Longhair Medley: Tipitina / Bald Head
10. King of the Road
11. Theme from The Godfather*
12. Lawdy Miss Clawdy
13. I'm Not Sayin'*
14. Hound Dog
15. All These Things*
16. Yes Sir, That's My Baby*
17. Baby Face
18. If You're Lonely (solo piano alternate take)*
19. Madame X
20. One For the Highway
21. Three Keys
22. Amen

*previously unreleased

For More About the Film, Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker, visit:


August 1, 2013


Remastered recordings, due out September 17, 2013,
commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Pablo label

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Concord Music Group will release five new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series on September 17, 2013. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, bonus tracks (some previously unreleased), and new liner notes to provide historical context to the originally released material, the series celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pablo Records, the prolific Beverly Hills–based label that showcased some of the most influential jazz artists and recordings of the 1970s and ’80s.
The five new titles in the series are:

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: The Ellington Suites
Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Mickey Roker: Dizzy’s Big 4
Oscar Peterson & Stephane Grappelli: Skol
Zoot Sims: Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers
Art Tatum: The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, Vol. 1

The story of Pablo records is a story of one veteran producer’s return to the music he loved best. Norman Granz, founder of Jazz at the Philharmonic, so missed the recording aspect of the music business — which he’d abandoned in 1962 when he sold his Clef, Norgran, and Verve labels to MGM — that a little more than a decade later he decided to take the plunge and start up yet another label. Based in Beverly Hills, California, at the time, Granz secured a distribution deal and launched Pablo Records in 1973, quickly building a world-class catalog of albums by legendary artists Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass, and Oscar Peterson — all of whom Granz managed — as well as Count Basie, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, Sarah Vaughan, and many others. After releasing more than 350 albums in a span of less than 15 years, Granz sold Pablo to Fantasy in 1987, which in turn merged with Concord Records in 2004 to form Concord Music Group.

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: The Ellington Suites

The three Ellington Suites in this release were recorded at different times along Ellington’s legendary and prolific arc: The Queen’s Suite in February and April 1959 (written for and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II, but not widely released until 1970); the Goutelas Suite in April 1971; and the Uwis Suite in October 1972.
“Ellington would record his orchestra at his own expense, and then stockpile the recordings,” says Nick Phillips, Vice President, Catalog and Jazz A&R at Concord and producer of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. “These were recordings that were later sold to Norman Granz, who had the good sense in the ’70s to collect these then-unreleased suites on one album.”

Nearly 40 years after its first release, “this latest edition of The Ellington Suites adds a studio discovery: the never-before-released ‘The Kiss’ is a track recorded in 1972 at the same session that yielded the Uwis Suite,” says Ashley Kahn, author of the new liner notes for the reissue. “[It] is included herein as a reminder of how — all the way to the end of his timeline — Ellington was at work at new creations, ever intrepid and ever expansive. Today The Ellington Suites, music he produced to his specifications and at his expense, are as powerful a statement as any to the remarkable consistency that colored the entire, storied career.”

Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Mickey Roker: Dizzy’s Big 4

Recorded in September 1974, Dizzy’s Big 4 provides a snapshot of the bebop pioneer still in superb form at age 57. “Joined by a rhythm section of fellow Pablo all-stars, Diz is heard at his bebopping best in a compelling mix of Gillespie classics (‘Be Bop’ and ‘Birks’ Works’), a then-new Gillespie composition (‘Frelimo’), and standards (‘September Song’ and ‘Jitterbug Waltz’),” says Phillips. “The sheer joy of four like-minded musicians spurring each other to new musical heights is palpable throughout this Pablo classic.”

Willard Jenkins, author of the new liner notes for the reissue, concurs. “Befitting a Pablo session, the four musicians comprising Dizzy Gillespie’s Big 4 have an obvious simpatico with each other’s artistry,” he says. “Despite the fact that this is an all-star assemblage, the parts are beautifully matched and throughout the session a keen sense of camaraderie prevails.”

The reissue includes two bonus tracks, previously unreleased alternate takes of “Russian Lullaby” and “Jitterbug Waltz” — both of which are significantly different versions of the same songs that appeared in the original release. “When you’re talking about master jazz improvisers like Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, and Mickey Roker, every single take of any given song is going to be fresh and different,” says Phillips. “These alternate takes are no exception.”

Oscar Peterson & Stephane Grappelli: Skol

Recorded live at Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark, on July 6, 1979, Skol features the six tracks from the album’s original LP release, plus three previously unreleased bonus tracks from the same performance: “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Solitude,” and “I Got Rhythm.”

“The title of the album, Skol, is of course a Scandinavian toast: ‘Cheers!’” says Tad Hershorn, archivist at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University and author of the new liner notes for the reissue. “It exactly suits the spirit of this sparkling music reintroduced here in observation of Pablo’s fortieth anniversary.”

Hershorn adds: “Oscar Peterson was just over the halfway point of a career beginning in the mid-1940s up until just shortly before the time of his death in 2007 at age 82 . . . Stephane Grappelli catapulted to fame in the 1930s as part of the original Quintette du Hot Club de France led by legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt.”

But the two co-leaders are just the beginning of this story, says Phillips. “Add Joe Pass, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, and Mickey Roker, the end result is an impressive array of talent on a single album.”

Zoot Sims: Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers

Recorded in June 1975, Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers is a set of ten well-known Gershwin classics executed by Sims on saxophone, backed by Oscar Peterson on piano, George Mraz on bass, Joe Pass on guitar, and Grady Tate on drums. “It’s arguably the best album Zoot Sims ever made,” says Phillips, “not just on Pablo but in his entire career. It’s that good. He sounds absolutely amazing on this album.”

In addition to the ten tracks from the original release, the reissue includes three bonus tracks: “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and previously unreleased alternate takes of “Oh, Lady, Be Good!” and “I’ve Got a Crush on You.”

“Zoot brought to the formal business of studio recording the same unflagging spirit of swing that motivated him in casual settings like the Paris boîte and the Mississippi steamer,” says Doug Ramsey, author of the new liner notes to the reissue. “For this music by the Gershwins, he had at his disposal a dream rhythm section of four peers who shared his dedication to the propositions that jazz must swing and must pursue the ideal of beauty.”

Ramsey adds: “Let your ears be your guide and let Zoot, Oscar, Joe, George, and Grady guide your ears. It is good that this music has new life and is again available as an essential installment of the Zoot Sims legacy.”

Art Tatum: The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, Vol. 1

The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, Vol. 1 got under way with an evening session in December 1953 where Tatum walked into the studios of Radio Recorders in Hollywood with a portable radio. He sat down at the piano bench, opened the first of many bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon (provided by Granz), listened to about a half hour of UCLA basketball and said, “Let’s go.”

“From there, the music poured forth to produce 69 masters over two days, nearly all on first takes with no playbacks,” says Hershorn in his new liner notes to the reissue. “It was an auspicious beginning for a peak moment in the histories of Granz and Tatum. Picking up again in April 1954 and concluding in January 1955, the series came in at over 125 songs . . . The endurance of the Tatum recordings, celebrated with this reissue of Volume 1 in recognition of the fortieth anniversary of Pablo Records, proves that the highest ambitions of both men continue to be revered in the 60 years since Tatum, a man of few words and a daredevil on the keyboard, first uttered, ‘Let’s go.’”

# # #



February 21, 2013


Release teems with King’s best-known songs: “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Crosscut Saw,” “Oh, Pretty Woman” and “Laundromat Blues.” Steve Cropper, Booker T. & the MGs, the Memphis Horns and Stax’s songwriters help make it an all-time blues classic.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Any list of seminal 1960s electric blues albums is incomplete without Albert King ’s Born Under a Bad Sign positioned near the top. The Indianola, Mississippi-born “King of the Blues Guitar,” who cut his professional teeth as a resident of the St. Louis suburb of Lovejoy, Ill., cemented his legacy with his Stax Records debut album. While he’d recorded for labels like Vee-Jay, Parrot and Bobbin, it was his chemistry with the Stax team — label executives Al Bell, Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, songwriters Booker T. Jones and William Bell, and backing from Booker T. & the MGs and the Memphis Horns — that put King on the blues map.

The Stax Remasters deluxe edition of Born Under a Bad Sign will be released by Stax Records, a unit of Concord Music Group, on April 2, 2013.

Music historian Bill Dahl wrote the new set of liner notes. King was influenced by pre-World War II bluesmen Lonnie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson, and post-war artists T-Bone Walker and Howlin’ Wolf. He came to Stax by way of Al Bell, a Little Rock native who’d met King when he played shows in the area. King’s first Stax recording was “Laundromat Blues,” included on this album, backed by Booker T. Jones on piano; Duck Dunn, bass; and Al Jackson, Jr., drums; plus the Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love) and Raymond Hill (sax player on Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88”). The song had come by way of an unsolicited songwriting demo that Stax co-founder Estelle Axton correctly believed could be a hit for King.

“Crosscut Saw” is one of King’s best-known recordings as yet dated back to 1941 when Delta bluesman Tommy McClennan recorded it for Bluebird, and Willie Sanders & the Binghamton Boys cut it in ’63. A.C. “Moohah” Williams, a veteran DJ at Memphis R&B station WDIA-AM, brought it to King’s attention.

Booker T. Jones and Stax soul singer William Bell came up with the thundering bass riff that defined the title track “Born Under a Bad Sign.” The song notched #49 on the R&B chart in 1967, and was covered in short order by Cream on its 1968 Wheels of Fire album. Soon King himself was playing venues like the Fillmore Auditorium to young white rock audiences.

Another one of the signature tracks, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” written by WDIA DJ Williams, required the steady presence of Steve Cropper’s rhythm guitar to augment King’s lead licks. King received songwriting help from David Porter, on leave from his usual collaboration with Isaac Hayes, on “Personal Manager,” which was the B-side of the title track single.

Born Under a Bad Sign was also notable for its selection of covers. King gave the Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller R&B standard “Kansas City” an urban blues treatment. He’s right at home with Fenton Robinson’s “As the Years Go Passing By.” Ivory Joe Hunter’s “I Almost Lost My Mind” is a rare King ballad with countrypolitan overtones and jazz flute, an unlikely showcase for his rich baritone.

For this special reissue Stax Records has reached into its vaults to provide previously unissued bonus tracks in the form of alternate takes of “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Crosscut Saw,” “The Hunter,” “Personal Manager” and an untitled, never-before-released instrumental. According to annotator Dahl, “Thanks to Born Under a Bad Sign, Albert King became a full-fledged blues luminary, masterfully bridging the gap between the Chitlin’ Circuit and the rock arena. He would make more great Stax albums, but he’d never top this one.” Albert King will be posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on April 18, 2013.

# # #

January 28, 2013


Seven CD set, due out March 5 on Rounder Records,
includes rare recordings by Allman’s early bands:
the Escorts, Allman Joys, the 31st of February, and the Bleus.
Extensive liner notes are accompanied by a tribute from Allman’s daughter.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Even if he’d never formed the Allman Brothers Band, Duane Allman would be a major figure in American popular music. Long before his name became known to mainstream audiences, he had already established his credentials as a once-in-a-lifetime guitar visionary, leaving his unmistakable stamp on a broad array of recordings. On March 5, 2013, Rounder Records, a division of Concord Music Group, will release the most ambitious retrospective of Allman’s short but influential career titled Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective.

The deluxe seven-disc collection, carrying a list price of $139.98, contains the guitarist’s best-known and most commercially successful recordings with the Allman Brothers Band and Derek & the Dominos, as well as session work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Boz Scaggs, Clarence Carter, King Curtis, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Ronnie Hawkins, Otis Rush, Laura Nyro, Lulu, the Sweet Inspirations, Laura Lee, Spencer Wiggins, Arthur Conley, Willie Walker, the Lovelles, the Soul Survivors, Johnny Jenkins, John Hammond, Doris Duke, Eric Quincy Tate, Herbie Mann and more.

The set was produced by Galadrielle Allman (Duane’s daughter) and two-time Grammy® winning producer Bill Levenson. Rounder Records’ Scott Billington served as executive producer. Scott Schinder contributed comprehensive historical liner notes, complemented by additional notes by Galadrielle Allman.

In her recollection of her father, who died when she was a young child, Galadrielle writes, “I am very lucky that my father is Duane Allman, an artist who left behind a wealth of incredible music . . . Working on this retrospective, I have gotten closer than I ever have been to understanding my father’s development as a musician and a man.”

Duane Allman, known to his bandmates as Skydog, was born in Nashville in 1946. With Gregg, his only sibling, Duane had his first moment of musical revelation upon witnessing a late ’50s R&B bill that featured B.B. King and Jackie Wilson. By 1960, both Duane and Gregg owned guitars and played in a series of neighborhood garage bands in Tennessee and Florida. Continuing their interest in blues and R&B in the shadow of blues radio station WLAC-AM’s continent-spanning signal, as well as absorbing the influence of the British Invasion, the brothers launched the Escorts in 1965 and the Allman Joys, who recorded a handful of sides in Bradley’s Barn in Nashville in 1966. By 1967, Duane and Gregg signed to Liberty as the Hour Glass and recorded two albums in Nashville and Los Angeles. When the band sought to defy the label and spread its musical wings, they were dropped. The brothers returned to Florida, hooked up with drummer Butch Trucks, and recorded two sides as the 31st of February, and later at Ardent Studio in Memphis as the Bleus.

By this time Duane had developed a reputation as a leading session guitarist. He was on Fame Studio’s A list, his guitar licks coloring hits by Wilson Pickett. Atlantic Records producer and executive Jerry Wexler took note and hired him to perform on Atlantic sessions by King Curtis, Otis Rush, Arthur Conley, the Soul Survivors and Sweet Inspirations. Wexler signed him to a solo Atlantic deal, resulting in a session that contained the raucous original “Happily Married Man” and more. The session, contained on the Skydog set, was abandoned mid-stream. But by then Capricorn Records’ Phil Walden had noticed the rumblings from Muscle Shoals. Duane gathered up brother Gregg, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, Jai Johanny Johanson and others and the Allman Brothers Band was born.

According to reissue annotator Schinder, “The [Allman Brothers Band’s] music was complex and adventurous, yet unfailingly accessible. The subtle and harmonic interplay between Duane and Dickey’s dual lead guitars was matched by the three-man rhythm section’s surging, swinging cross-rhythms, with Gregg’s massively expressive singing and organ playing keeping the music firmly grounded in human emotion.” The band’s profile grew with each release — the self-titled debut, Idlewild South and eventually the band’s breakthrough, At Fillmore East.

Testament to his energy and ambition, Duane still found time for side projects. When bandmates would hole up at home after tours, Duane joined fellow world-class guitarist Eric Clapton on Derek & the Dominos’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. While not an official member, he quickly emerged as a major contributor to the classic album, his twin guitar interplay with Clapton shaping the hits “Layla” and “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad.” He also worked with Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and Laura Nyro between Allman Brothers Band projects.

By then acknowledged as one of rock’s premier guitarists, Duane and the Allman Brothers Band began recording their follow-up to At Fillmore East — Eat a Peach. Tom Dowd, another legendary Atlantic house producer, oversaw sessions at Criteria Studios. Then on October 29, 1971, four days after Fillmore had been certified gold, Duane was riding his motorcycle and swerved to avoid hitting a truck. He crashed and died of internal injuries. He was 24 years old.
The band forged ahead as a quintet on Eat a Peach, which became one of their best selling albums. The Allman Brothers, led by Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks, continue to perform to this day.

Schinder notes, “More than four decades after his death, Duane Allman remains a towering figure whose stature has only increased in his absence. His influence lives on, not only in the multiple generations of guitarists who have been motivated by his input, but also in the legions of listeners who have continued to find inspiration in his vibrant vision of American music, which remains as fresh and truthful today as when it was created.”

“When a musician of my father’s caliber dies, every note he ever recorded becomes even more precious,” writes Galadrielle. “Each song is pressed into the service of telling his story. The longer Duane is gone, the clearer it becomes that there will never be another like him.”

Over seven discs, Skydog tells the Duane Allman story with rare and never-before-heard gems alongside smash hits.

“I hope the celebration of Duane’s life inspires you to live fearlessly and enjoy life,” Galadrielle concludes. “I know that would have made him proud.”

# # #



January 15, 2013


Available on CD and blue vinyl, packaging evokes the look and feel
of a late ’60s Stax/Volt album that Redding might have released at the height of his career


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Otis Redding’s Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding could pass for a title Stax/Volt might have released in the late ’60s. The look of the album reflects Stax’s design themes of the era. But in fact it’s a collection that never existed, until now, that homes in on one mood and one theme —heartbreaking, yearning ballads — of which Redding had many. The album will be released as a CD and blue vinyl LP on March 5, 2013 on Stax Records through Concord Music Group.

Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding contains the hits (“I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “These Arms of Mine,” “My Lover’s Prayer,” “Free Me”) alongside many lesser-known songs (“Gone Again,” “Open the Door,” “Waste of Time,” “Everybody Makes a Mistake,” to name a few). They’re all included in this compilation because they share the tangled theme of sorrow.

According to compilation producer David Gorman, “Given how nobody delivered a gut-wrenching sad song like Otis, I always felt he should have made an album you could put on late at night and settle into with a glass of something strong. The mood and the subject of every song is the same — Otis, heartbroken, and begging for love. I tried to find the saddest most potently heartbreaking songs he ever sang, with no regard for chart position or notoriety. There are a few hits on the album, but they’re there because they fit the mood, not because we wanted to include the hits.”

For instance, an alternate version of “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” features lyrics that are darker and tell a more personal story than the better-known hit version. Little-known tracks like “Gone Again” and “A Waste of Time” are given the same weight as “I’ve Been Loving You too Long.” The motif of love is even subtly addressed in the sequencing, the album closing with “Send Me Some Lovin’” and “My Lover’s Prayer.”

The concept of Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding plays out in the packaging as well, which was intentionally designed by Gorman to look as if Redding actually did put this album out at the height of his career. The typography, color palette, and layout are all meant to adhere to the Stax/Volt LP designs of the time. This extends to the liner notes, which are written in the present tense and credited to a fictitious DJ so that they read as if they were written while Redding was alive at his peak.

“The goal,” explains Gorman, “was to create the best album Otis never made and ‘reissue’ it in 2013 rather than do another hits compilation. We hope this album will reframe him as something more than an oldies radio staple and become his Night Beat (a classic 1963 Sam Cooke LP) — the album that exists as a starting point for people wondering why so many consider Otis Redding the greatest soul singer of all time.”

Track Listing:
1. I Love You More Than Words Can Say
2. Gone Again
3. Free Me
4. Open the Door [Skeleton Key Version]
5. A Waste of Time
6. These Arms of Mine
7. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
8. Everybody Makes a Mistake
9. Little Ol’ Me
10. I’ve Got Dreams to Remember [Rougher Dreams]
11. Send Me Some Lovin’
12. My Lover’s Prayer



June 27, 2012



Title track inducted into GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1999 and Library of Congress's National Recording Registry in 2012

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Concord Music Group will release Booker T. & the MGs’ Green Onions as part of its Stax Remasters series on July 24, 2012. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, two live bonus tracks and newly written liner notes by Grammy Award-winning Stax historian Rob Bowman, the reissue not only spotlights one of the most entertaining and influential soul and R&B recordings of the 1960s, but also reaffirms the album’s enduring nature a half-century after its original release.

Underscoring the historical significance of this 1962 recording is the recent decision by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, to add the album’s widely recognized title track to the National Recording Registry. The song was selected for preservation because it is “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant,” according to a Library of Congress announcement at the end of May 2012.

“Green Onions,” the leadoff track to the album of the same name, was a number one single on the Billboard R&B chart — a rare accomplishment for an instrumental track — and eventually climbed to number three on the Billboard Hot 100. But the title track is just one song on a watershed album by the instrumental R&B combo that served as the house band for the Stax label and the backup unit for some of the most iconic soul and R&B artists to record there in the 1960s, says Nick Phillips, Concord’s Vice President of Catalog A&R and a producer of the Stax Remasters series.

“Beyond ‘Green Onions,’ which was their biggest hit single,” says Phillips, “there are so many other great songs on this album which Booker T. & the MGs transformed into timeless R&B instrumental classics, like ‘Comin’ Home Baby,’ ‘Twist and Shout,’ and Ray Charles’s ‘I Got a Woman.’ No matter what song they started with, by the time they were done with it, it was uniquely and unmistakably their own.”

The album’s original 12 tracks are executed by the lean but formidable roster of organist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Lewis Steinberg, and drummer Al Jackson, Jr. The reissue also includes two bonus tracks — live renditions of “Green Onions” and “Can’t Sit Down,” both recorded at the 5/4 Ballroom in Los Angeles in August 1965. These extra tracks — which Bowman describes in his liner notes as “turbo-charged, extended, uber-muscular versions” — include Donald “Duck” Dunn replacing Steinberg on bass and joined by Packy Axton on saxophone on “Can't Sit Down.”

“In the annals of American music, there have been only a handful of rhythm sections that have all but single-handedly set the course for a whole genre of music,” says Bowman. “In the case of Booker T. & the MGs, the genre in question is Southern soul music. Although Southern soul has its roots in select 1950s recordings by James Brown, Sam Cooke, and Ray Charles, the genre coalesced in the early and mid-’60s at Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, where Booker T. & the MGs served as the ‘house band.’”

He concludes: “Together, Green Onions and the live cuts from the 5/4 Ballroom provide a good sense of the very early days of the incomparable Booker T. & the MGs . . . Soul simply doesn’t get much better.”

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