Archive | September, 2010

New Stuff from Marty, Neil and Harry

29 Sep

Marty Stuart continues to crank out classic country in the honky tonk tradition.

Neil Young is aging, but he still likes his music LOUD! Just ask Daniel Lanois.

Harry Nilsson is finally getting his due with his very own documentary.

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Undiscovered Ray Charles Masters are Released by Concord Records

24 Sep

Concord Records is celebrating the 80th birthday of the legendary Ray Charles with a special gift for his legions of fans: Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters. This treasure trove of newly discovered recordings, highlighted by a duet with fellow icon Johnny Cash, will become available on October 26th, 2010.

Culled from four decades worth of demos and other previously unreleased material, Rare Genius showcases the remarkable artistic vision, stylistic range and emotionally rich vocals that crafted Charles enduring legacy. Listening to the ten gems from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s that comprise this CD, fans will have no trouble envisioning the late singer rocking back and forth at the piano as he effortlessly segues between R&B/soul, pop, country and gospel. “Ray would always get inside the meaning of a lyric and make the listener believe every word,” says Concord Music Group Chief Creative Officer, John Burk. “His vocals carried incredible emotion and intensity, even on demo tapes. What we have here with Rare Genius is on par with some of his greatest works.”

And that’s crystal clear right from the album’s sparkling opener, “Love’s Gonna Bite You Back.” The March 1980 session track features an upbeat horn arrangement behind what Rare Genius liner notes author Bill Dahl calls “a Charles vocal that’s a signature mixture of sandpaper grit and heavenly goodness.” Up next is the stunning ballad “It Hurts to Be in Love,” which underscores the album’s main thematic focus and one of Charles’ favorite subjects: the ups and down of romance. Another compelling standout is the gospel-stirred Charles and Cash duet on Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me, Lord?” Discovered in the Sony vaults, the song was produced by Billy Sherrill in Nashville and recorded in 1981 for an anticipated release on a CBS album. For unknown reasons, that didn’t come to pass. What’s more important, however, is the emotional charge you get listening to these two powerful voices come together in this spirited and inspired pairing.

Except for “Lord,” the nine other Rare Genius tracks including the soul-drenched “I Don’t Want No One But You,” a blues-infused cover of songwriter Hank Cochran’s country classic “A Little Bitty Tear” and the joyous “I’m Gonna Keep on Singin'” were found in the vault at Charles’ R.P.M. International Studios in Los Angeles. Adding a little sweetening to some of the sparse, stripped-down tracks was a team of top-notch musicians and artists: guitarists Keb’ Mo’ and George Doering, organist Bobby Sparks, trumpeter Gray Grant, trombonist Alan Kaplan, bassists Trey Henry and Chuck Berghofer, drummers Gregg Field and Ray Brinker and background vocalist Eric Benet.

As with its Concord predecessor, 2004’s Grammy-winning Album of the Year Genius Loves Company, Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters is another fitting tribute to Charles, who would have turned 80 on September 23, 2010. It’s a fresh, vibrant reaffirmation of the music icon’s unparalleled artistry and legacy.

http://www.concordmusicgroup.com/albums/Rare-Genius-The-Undiscovered-Masters/

Four Live Recordings from the Jefferson Airplane Coming in Late October

20 Sep

LIVE JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TO BE RELEASED OCTOBER 26 ON COLLECTORS’ CHOICE MUSIC LIVE

Four albums include Grace Slick’s first show at the Fillmore in 1966

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The argument rages on, but for many music fans in the ’60s, the best live band from the Bay Area was Jefferson Airplane. Formed during the summer of 1965 in San Francisco, the group triumphed in 1967 with Surrealistic Pillow, one of the key recordings of the Summer of Love, containing the hits “Somebody to Love,” “White Rabbit” and “Today.” The Airplane featured three master instrumentalists (Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Spencer Dryden) and three vocalists: Grace Slick (replacing original singer Signe Anderson in 1966), Marty Balin and Paul Kantner. The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees made a total of eight studio albums and released a smattering of live albums including 1969’s Bless Its Pointed Little Head.

But what most fans don’t know is that there are vast reserves of never-released live material by Jefferson Airplane capturing key moments in their history. On October 26, 2010, Collectors’ Choice Music Live will release four previously unreleased live albums: Live at the Fillmore Auditorium 10/15/66 Late Show — Signe’s Farewell, Live at the Fillmore Auditorium 10/16/66 Early & Late Shows — Grace’s Debut, Live at the Fillmore Auditorium 11/25/66 & 11/27/66 — We Have Ignition, and Return to the Matrix 2/1/68.

The first three releases document the astonishing growth of the band, and follow the near-seamless absorption of Grace Slick’s voice and material into the Airplane’s sound just as they were entering the studio to record Surrealistic Pillow. The fourth release captures the group triumphantly returning to their home turf at Marty Balin’s club The Matrix for a relaxed, exploratory set in an intimate setting, performing material from their first four albums, including Crown of Creation, seven months before its release. Taken together, the four releases confirm that at its best, when Jorma was soaring, Jack rumbling and the three voices joining in ecstatic melisma, no other band could ascend to the heights attained by the Airplane. Hand-picked by a team of devotees, annotated by frequent Airplane flyer Craig Fenton (author of the book Take Me To A Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual), and featuring rare photos inside handsome digi-packs, these concerts distill and express the dream and promise of the Haight-Ashbury scene.

• Live at the Fillmore Auditorium 10/15/66 Late Show — Signe’s Farewell:
The Grace Slick era of the Airplane has understandably received most of the attention paid the band over the years. But they had released a good album (Jefferson Airplane Takes Off) and were already a powerful live outfit before Slick came aboard. The 10/15/66 release not only marks the first appearance on CD of a live recording featuring Signe Anderson with the band, but also her very last show. Both Marty Balin and the Fillmore’s Bill Graham give her shout-outs. Songs include “3/5ths of a Mile in Ten Seconds,” “Tobacco Road,” “Midnight Hour,” “High Flyin’ Bird” and “Chauffeur Blues” (which Grace never performed out of respect for Signe, who’d made the old blues tune her own). It was the end of an era. But a new one was about to begin the very next day, and is the subject of the 10/16/66 release.

• Live at the Fillmore Auditorium 10/16/66 Early & Late Shows — Grace’s Debut: The 10/16/66 volume chronicles the first set of concerts featuring Grace Slick as a member of the Airplane, a mere day after Signe Anderson officially left the band. The band has yet to add the material Slick brought to the band (“Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit) to the set list, but Grace’s harmony work with Marty and Paul is impressive, and you can literally hear her confidence growing from the first set to the second. The album contains “The Other Side of This Life,” “Let Me In,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Run Around” and “High Flying Bird,” plus versions of “3/5ths of a Mile in 10 Seconds” and “Tobacco Road” with the new line-up, and Leiber & Stoller’s “Kansas City,” which has never appeared on any Airplane studio or live album. Surrealistic Pillow photographer Herbie Greene contributes photos. Things would never be the same for the band or for ’60s rock.

• Live at the Fillmore Auditorium 11/25/66 & 11/27/66 — We Have Ignition: CCM Live subtitled these shows “We Have Ignition” as they believe this is when the Airplane transformed from a high-flying bird into a psychedelic spaceship (but not yet a Starship.) It’s difficult to believe, when comparing these November shows with Grace’s live debut on 10/16/66, that only six weeks have elapsed. Not only has the band (particularly guitarist Jorma Kaukonen) progressed as musicians, but the infusion of Surrealistic Pillow material some four months before the album hit the stores shifts the focus of this folk-rock band to rock. Included are “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” “High Flyin’ Bird,” “Bringing Me Down,” “ D.C.B.A-25,” “My Best Friend,” “Go to Her,” “She Has Funny Cars,” “3/5ths of a Mile in 10 Seconds,” “Skip Spence’s “J.P.P. McStep B Blues,” “White Rabbit,” “Today” and more. Two rarities are a mind blowing, 9:45-minute version of “The Other Side of Life” (performed for a photo session) that neither its author, the folk singer-songwriter Fred Neil, nor the band could ever have anticipated, and the only known recording of an instrumental known in some quarters as “My Grandfather’s Clock.” This is the Airplane at its early apex.

• Return to the Matrix 2/1/68: The Airplane returned to the first club they ever played, the Matrix, in 1968 for a 103-minute show at the height of their commercial prowess. They band premiered two songs from the Crown of Creation album (which was months away from being released): “Share a Little Joke” and an instrumental version of “Ice Cream Phoenix.” They also performed “Blues From an Airplane,” a song from its first (pre-Slick) album. Also here: “Somebody to Love,” “Young Girl Sunday Blues,” “She Has Funny Cars,” “Two Heads,” “Martha,” “Kansas City,” “Other Side of this Life,” “Today,” “Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon,” “It’s No Secret,” “Watch Her Ride,” “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” “Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil,” “White Rabbit,” “Fat Angel” and “3/5ths of a Mile in 10 Seconds.”

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