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Spring 2007

 

     
 


FOREVER CHANGING

 
HUGH HOPPER


ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA

THE FOUR SEASONS

TRACEY ULLMAN

JAMES WARREN
 
     
  VARIOUS ARTISTS
Forever Changing
(
Rhino)

After checking out Rhino’s 2007 5 CD box set tribute to the vaults of Elektra Records, entitled Forever Changing, the question is: what genre of music didn’t Elektra make a huge contribution to? And the answer is no branch of pop music went untouched by “the house the Jac built.” We’re referring to Elektra mogul Jac Holzman and the incredible music his label brought to the music world starting in 1963. Elektra, although formed as a rootsy Americana folk label, landed The Doors in 1967 and the rest is history. There are some glowing vault omissions (in addition to tons of stuff that didn’t make Rhino’s first Elektra installment) over 118 tracks spread over five CDs, yet for the most part Forever Changing: The Golden Age Of Elektra Records - 1963-1973 hits the nail on the head. There’s countless classic folk, blues, rock and pop jewels here that were great when they first came out decades ago, and are still great. With track by track discussion, new interviews with artists and Elektra insiders, Forever Changing offers a fascinating glimpse into the greatest indy record label success story in 20th century American music history. www.rhino.com

 


 
  HUGH HOPPER
Hopper Tunity Box
(Cuneiform)

Always a label on the cutting edge of modern music and specifically Euro-rock remasters, Cuneiform land a big fish with the 2007 reissue of an album classic from bass guitar icon Hugh Hopper. Remembered for his brilliant work on Soft Machine Volume II, Hopper was an early member of the legendary English jazz / art rock band but he really hit his stride with his 1977 solo album HopperTunity Box, reissued in 2007 by Cuneiform Records. With the original Lp cover on the backside of the CD booklet, the booklet features new cover art, 2006 liner notes by Hopper with added sheet music arrangements of his melodic arrangements. Featuring Hopper in rare form with memorable melodies flowing and his fuzz-bass rockin’, Hopper Tunity Box has through the years maintained its unique status as one the most innovative instrumental jazz-rock albums of the ‘70s. A fine addition to their every growing catalog of Hopper and Softs related remasters, Cuneiform’s CD remaster of Hopper Tunity Box is a major coup for purveyors of classic U.K. fusion. www.cuneiformrecords.com

 


 
 

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Out Of The Blue
(Epic / Legacy)

With their early 2007 reissues of Out Of The Blue and Balance Of Power, Legacy concludes their successful reissue program of the ELO back catalog. That’s a lot of music as was especially the case with ELO’s 1977 double Lp Out Of The Blue. The CD remaster sounds amazing and Legacy pairs the 17 original Lp cuts with 3 bonus cuts. On OOTB Jeff Lynne scaled new heights on classic rockers that combine Lynne’s love of Roy Orbison with Mozart and beyond. ‘77 was the height of disco, the precursor of punk, and there was a cultural war in the U.S. so these ‘50s flecked symphonic rockers were the perfect fodder to take your mind off how bad things were going to get in a few short years. Looking back on these late ‘70s ELO sounds, you could just imagine John Lennon baking bread in the Dakota reveling in OOTB cuts like “Turn To Stone” and others on WNEW-FM. Released ten years before Balance Of Power (1986, coming on CD), Out Of The Blue is further supplanted by excellent liner notes from Lynne, who adds, “Out Of The Blue was probably the hardest work I’ve ever done but also the most satisfying” and ELO web master Rob Caiger. www.ftmusic.com

 


 
  THE FOUR SEASONS
The 4 Seasons Entertain You
(Collector's Choice)

The musical glue that connected ‘50s rock to Beatlemania, The 4 Seasons ruled the radio waves during those great Camelot years of ‘61-63. Hit after hit, the Seasons had it all. During my interview with Brian Wilson in 1998, he spoke a great line saying he wanted his next album to have Four Seasons inspired vocal sound. A legend of the NY/NJ metropolitan area, The 4 Seasons had it all including great group vocals and two illustrious men named Bob—Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe—the Seasons co-writing keyboardist and behind the scenes producer / arranger/ songwriter, Bob Crewe. Despite having never gained the respect of the late‘60s rock crowd, there isn’t a classic rock singer worth his salt that doesn’t cite Frankie Valli as an influence. The original quartet with the four piece vocal lineup of Valli, Gaudio, guitarist Tommy DeVito and bassist Nick Massi, recorded a number of rockin' 45’s and Lps in the early ‘60s. Now, in 2007 Collector’s Choice has a bunch of late ‘60s CD remasters of 4 Seasons recordings. 4 Seasons fans will remember the band’s ‘65 lp classic Working My Way Back To You, named after the title track smash. That album is paired in a double CD set from CC with the group’s psychedelia Lp, the January ‘69 release of The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette. In addition Collector’s Choice offers a double CD pairing of The 4 Seasons Entertain You with On Stage With The Four Seasons, two studio titles from ‘65. A concept album of sorts, On Stage is actually a studio set with canned studio noise. Out of the mainstream rock scene, the 4 Seasons kept going over the years and CC offers a 19 track CD pairing of Half & Half (last Phillips album from 1970) and Helicon (1977) and another double CD pairing of Streetfighter (from ‘85) with Hope & Glory (1992). Interestingly Valli, Crewe, Gaudio and song writing ace Sandy Linzer were involved in the latter years as well. Last of the current CC 4 Seasons remasters is a 15 track reissue of 1980’s Frankie Valli 4 Seasons Reunited Live, with both Bob’s on hand again to produce. All these 4 Seasons remasters on CC feature excellent sound and historic liner notes from Bill Dahl. www.ccmusic.com

 


 
  TRACEY ULLMAN
You Broke My Heart In 17 Places
(Stiff)

Back in the early ‘80s, the U.K. based Stiff label was one of the coolest post-punk bastions of great music including artists like Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Madness and more. In April 2007, the label is poised to start opening their vaults to reissue some of the prized music classics on CD here in the U.S. for the first time. High on the list of Stiff classics coming on CD in 007 include You Broke My Heart In Seventeen Places by singer Tracey Ullman. If Ullman’s voice and songs don’t get you pining for the early ‘80s then nothing will. Inspired by classic U.K. singers like Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield, Ullman recorded a certified pop classic in ‘83 and Stiff have wisely remastered the entire album in all it’s glory, complete with a round of excellent b-sides and informative liner notes. Stiff keeps up the reissue work with a 2007 CD of Fool Around by U.S. singer Rachel Sweet. Although Sweet was just 16 when Stiff signed her, her good looks and excellent singing—not to mention fine production work from Liam Sternberg and Pete Solley—made her a favorite with the post-punk pop crowd. Again, this Stiff CD classic features original art, a bounty of b-sides and fine liners. Keep a look out for future Stiff CD reissues coming in ‘07. www.stiff-records.com


 
  JAMES WARREN
Burning Questions
(Angel Air)

Over in England, Angel Air honor their fellow countrymen with the release of more archive titles from Stackridge and the band’s offshoots. First off is a reissue of an 1985 title from founding Stackridge singer-songwriter and guitarist James Warren entitled Burning Questions. Assisted by his band mate in both Stackridge and The Korgis, Andy Davis, the pair are also aided by keyboardist Nick Magnus and singer Eddi Reader, who is here with a non Lp b-side from 1987. Although quite well established with Anglo-prone audiophiles, Stackridge, Davis and Warren never made much of a big 'commercial' dent here in the U.S. That lack of success in and of itself is most unfortunate but in the case of James, Burning Questions is an excellent period piece pop artifact from the heyday of the ‘80s, one that highlights Warren’s penchant for writing great Beatles inspired pop hooks. Long time Stackridge watchers will also want to see and hear 2007 reissues of long awaited key CD reissues from the band on Angel Air, including The Man In The Bowler Hat (1973) and Friendliness (1972). A definite highlight of this multi-disc reissue bonanza featuring Stackridge is a straight reissue of the band's follow up to Bowler Hat, Extravaganza—a 1975 album that saw Warren replaced by singer-songwriter Rod Bowket, who also made a surprisingly cool foil for Davis. A great guitarist and singer, Warren of course would be the one to kick start the Stackridge resurgence, starting in the late ‘ 90s with a newly formed Stackridge capped off with Davis finally rejoining the fold for the band's brilliant 2005 comeback album Sex & Flags, also out on CD on AA. Prior to Sex & Flags, Stackridge actually began their current comeback with the band’s 1999 indy release of Something For The Weekend, which for some reason didn’t include Andy Davis! Nothing much was said about it for about five years when Angel Air signed Davis and was primed to re-vault the entire Stackridge catalog with their new album Sex & Flags. Now, with Angel Air’s 2007 CD reissue of Something For The Weekend—including fab recent pics of the original band + some excellent sounding original demo bonus tracks penned by Davis for possible inclusion before he mysteriously left the band, Davis, Warren and Stackridge and The Korgis as well, continue getting excellent reissue treatment from the experts at Angel Air. Each of these Angel Air Stackridge CD remasters features excellent remastering, restored art work, pages of photos and loads of detailed liner notes on each title. www.angelair.co.uk / www.stackridge.net

 



 

 

 
 
 
   
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