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MARCH /
APRIL 2004

 

     
 


THE BRITISH INVASION

 
HAIR


JIMMY BRYANT

JOHN KONGOS

JIMMY WEBB

ALBERT LEE
 
     
  VARIOUS ARTISTS
The British Invasion 1963-1967
(Hip-O)

Celebrating 40 years since the arrival of The Beatles to American shores, the Hip-O / UMG release of The British Invasion 1963-1967 digs deep into the vaults of the Universal Music axis, while also providing some cross-references of considerable merit. Boasting several Lennon & McCartney productions of Billy J.Kramer With The Dakotas, Peter & Gordon, The Silkie and The Beatles themselves (an early Polydor vault cover of “Ain’t She Sweet”), the triple CD set goes on to literally plumb the Universal vaults with British Invasion hits from The Who, The Troggs, Los Bravos, Cat Stevens, Spencer Davis Group, Dusty Springfield, The Zombies, Tom Jones, The Walker Brothers, Wayne Fontana, The Moody Blues, Procol Harum and much more. The inclusion of stellar artists from a variety of record labels like The Kinks, The Move, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, Donovan and even Freddie & The Dreamers—along with excellent CD sound, unique packaging and a 45 page CD booklet—makes The British Invasion 1963-1967 a collection well worth checking out. For fans who can’t seem to get enough of a good thing, Universal have simultaneously released 20th Century Masters / Millennium Collections from two certified British Invasion legends. Featuring eleven tracks a piece, both The Best Of The Troggs and The Best Of Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders are telling reminders that the best pop music of the 20th Century happened in the mid ‘60s. www.hip-o.com


 
  HAIR
Broadway Deluxe Collector's Edition
(Victor)

BMG and Victor reissued the great 1968 pop musical Hair complete with 24/96 digital mastering, rare recording session photos and bonus tracks. This original Broadway Cast album CD release on the RCA / BMG Victor imprint is supported with a bonus CD consisting of the first ever CD reissue of the entire 1967 Off-Broadway cast recording of Hair, along with three bonus tracks and an audio interview with original Hair music composer, and a true American musical genius, Galt MacDermot—who also played electric piano on the Broadway soundtrack alongside musicians like Idris Muhammad (drums) and Steve Gillette and Alan Fontaine (on guitars). Spawning such evergreen pop hits like, “Aquarius”, “Let The Sunshine In”, “Easy To Be Hard”, “Good Morning Starshine” and of course the title track—complete with nudity and drug references—which was taken to top of the pop world on a 1969 45rpm by The Cowsills!, Hair went on to become a highlight of the ‘67-68 season and predictably, won the 1968 Grammy for best original cast album. Victor’s 2003 Broadway Deluxe Collector's Edition of Hair features excellent repackaging along with a 31 page booklet that recaptures the sights and sounds of the late ‘60s Hair phenomenon. www.victor-music.com


 
 

JIMMY BRYANT
Frettin' Fingers
(Sundazed)

The story goes that back in 1950 Leo Fender gave Georgia-bred guitarist Jimmy Bryant the still unnamed Fender Telecaster and the rest is history. Together with pedal steel partner, Speedy West, guitarist Bryant eventually took his rightful place alongside the best country-jazz guitar greats of the 20th Century. Critically wounded in Germany during WWII, Bryant recovered with the aid of a Stella guitar and a new found love for Belgian gypsy-jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. The complete history behind how Bryant, aided by Speedy West, helped revolutionize instrumental guitar-based country jazz is superbly scoped out in Frettin’ Fingers: The Lightening Guitar Of Jimmy Bryant. The 75 track 3 CD retrospective compiles and distills the wealth of music Bryant recorded in the ‘50s for Capitol and Imperial Records back in the ‘60s. Although he passed away back in September 1980, Bryant’s massive innovative guitar talent and compositional techniques remains a huge influence on younger players today. In their usual fashion, Sundazed has turned Frettin’ Fingers into the definitive compendium on the life and times of the man guitar fans still often refer to as ‘the fastest guitar in the country.’ www.jimmybryant.us / www.sundazed.com


 
  JOHN KONGOS
Kongos
(Collector's Choice)

Although this album was reissued in Europe several times over the past two decades, the Collector’s Choice CD release of Kongos marks it’s first ever reissue in the U.S. since it’s 1971 Lp release on Elektra Records. Simply put, John Kongos was one of the great musical discoveries of the year 1971. A South African pop genius, Kongos struck gold several times earlier in the ‘60s with a range of releases including his ‘69 album classic, Confusions About A Goldfish, yet with the simply titled nine track Kongos album he delivered a series of powerful right hooks that could not be ignored by pop mavens. Kicking off with the burning rock anthem, “Tokoloshe Man”, the South Africa native proved he could be just as pop savvy as Cat Stevens, David Bowie and Elton John—all rolled into one! Having Elton’s producer Gus Dudgeon at the helm—along with classic EJ sidemen like guitar ace Caleb Quaye and drummer Roger Pope—added to the musical majesty. Although Mr. K sadly drifted off the musical radar after the unfortunate oversight of Kongos, the Kongos legacy lives on and thanks to the reissue experts at Collector’s Choice, we’re finally able to relive one of the great album classics from the magical year of 1971. For their Kongos reissue, CC has wisely chosen to utilize Elektra’s original Lp packaging. Properly reissued with new liner notes and without peripheral bonus tracks, Kongos revisits a vital musical legacy—just as it happened in 1971—from start to finish. www.ccmusic.com

 


 
  VARIOUS ARTISTS
The Songs Of Jimmy Webb
(Raven)

Down under in Australia, Raven Records keeps cutting CD reissue classics. Most notably in late 2003, Raven released a cool double CD set entitled The Songs Of Jimmy Webb: Tunesmith. One of the greatest songwriters of the ‘60s, Webb will forever be linked with his best songs like “MacArthur Park” (featured here in the original 1968 version by Richard Harris), “Galveston” (by Glen Campbell), “Up, Up And Away” (by 5th Dimension) “P.F. Sloan” (by The Association). These classic originals along with so many more favorites and curios are collected on Raven’s 46 track, 150 minute double CD Webb retrospective. Other artists appearing here include Brooklyn Bridge, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Four Tops, Art Garfunkel, Strawberry Children (featuring Webb on lead vocals), Arlo Guthrie, The Temptation...so much more and even alt-rockers R.E.M., who offer a fine rocking version of “Wichita Lineman”. Extensive liner notes by Glenn A. Baker puts the icing on this expertly conceived Jimmy Webb song anthology. www.ravenrecords.com.au


 
  ALBERT LEE
That's All Right Mama
(Castle / Sanctuary)

Featuring a pair of collectible singles and an array of guitar-flecked rockabilly rave-ups, That’s All Right Mama is a fine showcase of some late ‘60s music from guitar icon Albert Lee. Subtitled The Country Fever & Black Claw Sessions, the 27 track CD on Castle documents Lee’s ascent into one of the prime movers and guitar shakers on the worldwide country rock stage of the ‘60s. The future founder of his band Heads, Hands & Feet, Lee was inspired early on by Everly Bros. and Ricky Nelson guitarist James Burton. It was during that critical mid ‘60s period that saw the ascent of country rock pioneers like Mike Nesmith (of The Monkees), John Sebastian (Lovin’ Spoonful) and Steve Stills (Buffalo Springfield) that Lee began refining his unique guitar approach to country, R&B and rockabilly psychedelia. There’s no doubt among those in the know that Lee remains one of the greatest guitarists to ever emerge from the U.K. and 27 great reasons why are to be found on the 2003 Sanctuary / Castle release of That’s All Right Mama. Of particular note here is the inclusion, in original order from start to finish, of Lee’s outstanding 1969 Derek Lawrence-produced album, Country Fever. With Lee appearing on every track here, the entire CD compilation is heavily influenced by Sweetheart Of The Rodeo-era Byrds and features a number of Lee originals and cool Lee covers of classics composed by Bob Dylan and Lee’s other heroes, The Band. The CD’s superb liner notes and excellent package artwork sheds further light on Albert Lee’s guitar legacy. www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com www.albertlee.co.uk



 
 
 
   
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