Real Gone Releases: Johnny Mathis, David Cassidy, Grateful Dead & More

The summer dog days bring a diverse selection of Real Gone Music reissues, ideal for vacation listening. On August 28, 2012, the label will release six titles including Johnny MathisTender Is the Night/Wonderful World of Make-Believe and Broadway, an entire unreleased album from his underrated Mercury Records catalog paired with his Love Is Everything LP; David Cassidy’s Cassidy Live!, and Gettin’ It in the Street; Gary Lewis & the PlayboysThe Complete Liberty Singles; and a four-CD Grateful Dead Dick’s Picks selection, Dick’s Picks Vol. 28—2/26/73 Pershing Municipal Auditorium, Lincoln, NE 2/28/73 Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, UT.

Dick Latvala was the official tape archivist for the Grateful Dead until 1999. His inspiration and encyclopedic knowledge of the band’s vaults spawned the fabled Dick’s Picks series of live Dead concert recordings. Comprising 36 volumes, Dick’s Picks follows the band on its long, strange trip through a multitude of eras, tours and venues, featuring handpicked shows that display the band at its visionary, improvisational height. Dick’s Picks Vol. 28—2/26/73 Pershing Municipal Auditorium, Lincoln, NE 2/28/73 Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, UT (four-CD set) features two 1973 concerts that took place shortly after the Dead added a large number of new, jazzy numbers to its repertoire. One such song, “Eyes of the World,” plays a central role in both shows excerpted here. As usual, the medleys hold the most jaw-dropping feats of improvisational derring-do: the first night’s “Dark Star/Eyes of the World/Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” is seamlessly sublime (or is that sublimely seamless?), while the second night’s “Truckin’/The Other One/Eyes of the World/Morning Dew” covers a prodigious amount of terrain, from raucous to frenzied to lilting to lyrical in the space of nearly one glorious hour. Also noted with pleasure is the appearance of “Box of Rain,” which the Dead performed live sparingly. This collection is presented in HDCD sound — never before available in stores.

Johnny Mathis’ mid-’60s sides for the Mercury label have long been overlooked, though they rank among the most commercially and artistically successful recordings of his career. Why? Well, for one thing, Johnny has been a flagship artist for Columbia Records for so long that folks tend to forget that he spent three years apart from the label. But more importantly, those recordings, most notably the ten LPs he cut for Mercury, have been out of print during the entire compact disc era, as only Johnny’s Christmas album has ever come out on CD. Now, by special arrangement with Sony Music, the artist and his management, Real Gone Music will issue these essential albums (everything but the Christmas album, which remains in print) on compact disc for the first time — nearly 50 years after Johnny’s first release on Mercury. Each release consists of two albums, each newly remastered at Battery Studios in New York, complete with original art and comprehensive liner notes featuring an exclusive interview of Johnny by pop vocal expert James Ritz (who counts these Mercury albums as his favorite Mathis recordings, by the way). And our first wave of releases includes a never-before-released album of Broadway-themed songs recorded by Johnny in 1964-1965, paired with his charting album from 1965, Love Is Everything, while our other twofer, Tender Is the Night/Wonderful World of Make-Believe, features Johnny’s first two “secular” albums for Mercury (his first release for the label was Sounds of Christmas). Both albums hit the charts in 1964, with Tender Is the Night reaching #12, and both albums feature Johnny’s dreamy takes on stage and film songs, with arrangements on Tender by the great Don Costa.
 
The all-time king of teen idols was arguably David Cassidy, eldest son of television’s Partridge Family. Cassidy’s star was so bright, in fact, that he was one of the very few ’70s teen idols who was able to achieve a successful, long-lived solo career after the initial burst of teen hype — in fact, it was Cassidy’s desire to tackle more mature musical material that in part led to the end of the show. Despite their commercial success, however, those solo recordings have remained largely unavailable, with only Cassidy’s first two albums reissued on compact disc in this country. Real Gone Music is delving into Cassidy’s rich catalog with a series of releases featuring liner notes by ’70s pop expert Mike Ragogna and new remastering by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios in NYC, and begins with Cassidy’s most collectible titles. Recorded in Britain during his 1974 world tour, the live album Cassidy Live! provides eloquent testimony both to the kind of hysteria David Cassidy concerts generated and to his global appeal. Despite that global appeal, however, the album has never appeared on CD anywhere in the world. Featuring tunes by Oscar Hammerstein & Richard Rodgers, Leon Russell and Stephen Stills, it confirms that Cassidy had bigger things in mind than teen idol-dom. Meanwhile, Cassidy’s 1976 album Gettin’ It in the Street never saw a proper release in the U.S. even though it featured songwriting from Brian Wilson, guitar work by Mick Ronson and co-production by America’s Gerry Beckley. This overlooked gem from the Cassidy catalog has only been on CD in Japan.
 
The definitive Gary Lewis & the Playboys two-CD, 45-track The Complete Liberty Singles anthology came and went in a heartbeat a few years ago; the critical and commercial response was so good (and continues to be — used copies sell for megabucks online) that Real Gone Music decided to reissue it. It’s still the ideal way to explore the recordings of one of the great singles bands of the ’60s, featuring the A- and B-side of every single they issued on the Liberty label. Many of these original mono singles mixes and most of the B-sides were completely unavailable until this collection came along — these after all are the mixes fans heard cracklin’ from their radio back in the day. The annotation by Ed Osborne features interviews with producers Bones Howe and Snuff Garrett, drummers Hal Blaine and Jim Keltner, singer (and Gary’s “ghost” voice) Ron Hicklin and even Lewis himself.
 
About Real Gone Music
Real Gone Music, formed and helmed by industry vets Gordon Anderson and Gabby Castellana, aims to establish itself as the most eclectic and prolific catalog and reissue label in the country. The label has announced distribution through by Razor & Tie. Anderson and Castellana each started businesses in 1993 — Collectors’ Choice Music and Hep Cat Records & Distribution, respectively — that became two of the most important outlets for buyers and sellers of vintage music recordings. Now, 18 years later, they have joined forces to launch Real Gone Music, a reissue label dedicated to serving both the collector community and the casual music fan with a robust release schedule combining big-name artists with esoteric cult favorites. Real Gone Music is a music company dedicated to combing the vaults for sounds that aren’t just gone — they’re REAL gone.

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