Real Gone Music’s October schedule is definitely adding some color to the autumnal soundscape, as the label “leaves” no genre unexplored in its continuous pursuit of unexplored crannies in every genre of popular music. Leading the line-up is the great female singer and entertainer Keely Smith, whose ‘60s solo sessions for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label represent one of the last strongholds of unreleased recordings from the decade. Real Gone is launching a comprehensive reissue campaign of the LPs Smith released after splitting from Louis Prima with a deluxe version of The Intimate Keely Smith album, complete with bonus tracks including a duet with Sinatra. And the label has discovered a priceless cache of performances by The Queen of Gospel Song, Mahalia Jackson, featuring her with jazz greats Shelly Manne, Red Mitchell, and Barney Kessel. These 16 historic tracks have never been released in any audio format.
Then, Real Gone takes a deep dive into the vaults of two rich libraries and surfaces with three titles apiece. First, the label continues its acclaimed string of double-CD retrospectives from the Sony vaults with complete hits collections from blue collar rocker Eddie Money and disco diva Evelyn “Champagne” King, plus a definitive anthology from orchestral arranger and composer extraordinaire Percy Faith. Then, the label raids the Concord vaults for a reissue of what is generally considered the first “world music” album ever, Sandy Bull’s Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo, and a long-overdue look at Mirrors, the only album recorded for Vanguard by the great white bluesman John Hammond yet to be released on CD. And Real Gone has assembled, with the help of the artist herself, the first compilation of jazz singer Eden Atwood’s Concord sides.
Finally, following the wildly successful reissue early in 2016 of The Return of the Living Dead soundtrack featuring music by The Cramps, The Damned, The Flesh Eaters, and other punk rock notables, the label is back with not one, not two, not three, but four different brain-eating, colored vinyl versions in time for Halloween. Zombie lovers, take your mark!
You can’t get any more popular in American entertainment than Keely Smith was in the early ‘60s. Having blown the doors out in Las Vegas, winning a Grammy, having hit after hit and lighting up television screens playing straight “man” to husband Louis Prima, she’d navigated the tricky waters of a professional and personal divorce, striking out on her own and starting her own record label, Keely Records, in partnership with close friend and mentor Frank Sinatra, under the auspices of his Reprise label. A groundbreaking businesswoman, as well as recording artist, Keely recorded 5 classic albums for Reprise. Because she’d seen enough show business shenanigans to last a lifetime, a generation before it became standard practice to do so, she retained the rights to her masters. Those albums have NEVER come out legitimately on CD anywhere in the world. Now, Real Gone Music, in concert with Keely & her family, is very proud to announce that the label is going to answer the pleas of pop fans worldwide and release ALL of Keely’s Reprise albums on CD for the first time in deluxe packages featuring bonus tracks, rare photos, and new liner notes by Steve Hochman.
Produced by Keely’s husband-to-be & Reprise hitmaker Jimmy Bowen, 1964’s The Intimate Keely Smith is, as the steamy cover and saucy title suggest, a sexy, swinging affair and the quintessential Keely Smith recording from her Reprise period. A concept album, the project was the long form representation of her legendary “mood spot” concert segment, a staple of Keely’s live shows. Key album tracks include a rendition of Sinatra’s “Time After Time” and a version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child”…this album presents Keely really taking wing as an artist. And the bonus tracks? Well, Keely’s strong rapport and long history with Frank Sinatra are well known. As one of the foundational artists at Reprise, which was at full creative flower, Keely was part of some really great projects outside of her own releases. With the blessing of Frank Sinatra Enterprises, we’ve included her duet with Frank, “Twin Soliloquies,” from the The Reprise Musical Repertory Theatre Presents South Pacific album, plus the rare non-LP single of the King-Goffin-Spector track “No One Ever Tells You,” arranged by Jack Nitszche and also produced by Bowen.
Mahalia Jackson was the greatest gospel singer that ever lived, a transformative figure who transcended the genre to become a household name both here and abroad. But, ironically, out of her voluminous catalog of recordings for labels like Decca, Apollo, and, of course, Columbia, the performances that perhaps exposed the most people to her majestic artistry have remained unavailable for over half a century, never issued in any physical audio format…until now! A little background…in 1961, Mahalia, fresh from her triumphant performance at John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball, hooked up with Irving Townsend (producer of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue among many other landmark albums) to film 58 performances of no more than five minutes’ duration to be aired as TV program “filler” on Sunday mornings. These renditions, aired under the banner of Mahalia Jackson Sings, not only introduced untold numbers of viewers to the Queen of Gospel Song, but also captured her at her absolute best. Drawing upon his jazz connections, producer Townsend assembled a crack backing band highlighted by drummer Shelly Manne, bassist Red Mitchell, and guitarist Barney Kessel, with Jackson’s long-time accompanist Mildred Falls as musical director. As a result, the 16 tracks collected on Mahalia Jackson Sings—The Great Television Performances—which range from old favorites like “I Asked the Lord,” “Didn’t It Rain,” and “The Lord’s Prayer” to lesser-known gospel gems like “God Will Take Care of You” and “Highway Up to Heaven” to songs, like “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “I Believe,” that fall outside the gospel canon altogether—rank as some of Mahalia Jackson’s greatest—and rarest—recordings, a monumental and essential addition to her discography. Audio engineer Mike Milchner polishes up the sound, while Davin Seay contributes liner notes accompanied by photos. A hugely important discovery from one of 20th century music’s towering figures.
After famously dropping out of the New York Police Academy to pursue his rock and roll dreams, Eddie Money burst on to the scene in the late ‘70s with a series of sweaty, blue collar hits in the mold of Bob Seger, Mitch Ryder, and Bruce Springsteen, then capitalized on the MTV era by narrating a series of funny videos that cemented his image as a rock and roll Everyman, albeit one with a sneaky good songwriting touch and a powerful blue-eyed soul set of pipes. The lifestyle got the best of him during the mid-‘80s, but he made a remarkable comeback in the late ‘80s and continues on the circuit to this day offering his trademark mix of no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll and regular guy stage persona. The Complete Hits and More! is by far the biggest Eddie Money collection ever, offering, like the title says, all 24 chart hits plus tracks drawn from 10 different albums and some rare live tracks drawn from the promo-only Livin’ It Up EP (which debuts on CD here in its entirety), featuring “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Baby Hold On,” “Think I’m in Love,” “Shakin’,” his comeback duet with Ronnie Spector, “Take Me Home Tonight”/”Be My Baby,” “I Wanna Go Back,” “Walk on Water,” and “Peace in Our Time.” Bill Kopp supplies the liner notes, with added photos and album art. 35 tracks remastered by Maria Triana at Battery Studios…two CDs to paradise for Eddie Money fans.
Evelyn “Champagne” King ranks right up there with Donna Summer and Patti LaBelle at the top of the disco diva pantheon, but there has never been a domestically released collection to do her glittering career justice. Which is a real “shame”…but The Complete RCA Hits and More! not only offers, like the title says, all 24 hits she scored on the R&B and Pop charts for the RCA label, but also presents them in the 12”, alternate mix, and remix versions that really got the dance floor shaking back in the day! So you get the 12” mixes of big hits like “Shame,” “I Don’t Know If It’s Right,” “I’m in Love,” and “Love Come Down,” the “Dance Mix” of “Your Personal Touch,” remixes of “High Horse” and “Shake Down,” and so on. Soul expert David Nathan contributes liner notes with exclusive quotes from Evelyn, and we’ve added photos from the RCA vaults and 12” single and album art. All 26 tracks are remastered by Maria Triana at Battery Studios in New York…Break out the bubbly, cuz the definitive Evelyn “Champagne” King collection is finally here.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Percy Faith invented easy listening music; along with Mantovani, he pioneered the use of string sections to soften and sweeten the brass-dominated sound that dominated popular music during the ‘40s. Faith was also one of Mitch Miller’s main men at Columbia Records, where he provided arrangements for everybody from Doris Day to Tony Bennett to Johnny Mathis, and he composed some of the most memorable soundtrack themes of all time. Now, Real Gone pays tribute to one of the great arrangers and composers in pop music history with The Definitive Collection, a 32-track set spanning 22 years of recordings, including hit singles, tracks drawn from a total of 20 different albums, and a number of his most revered compositions for the screen. Among the highlights: the #1 hits “Delicado,” “Where Is Your Heart (from ‘Moulin Rouge’),” and “The Theme from ‘A Summer Place;’” his soundtrack themes to the films Tammy Tell Me True, The Oscar, and The Love Goddesses, and the TV series The Virginian; and some of his signature adaptations of Latin music like “How Insensitive (Insensataez)” and “Brazil (Aquarela Do Brasil).” Joe Marchese provides the notes, and the package includes photos from the Columbia vaults as well as some of the great cover art that adorned Faith’s album releases. Remastered by Maria Triana at Battery Studios in New York…like the title says, the definitive—and largest ever—Percy Faith collection!
Multi-instrumentalist Sandy Bull’s debut, Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo, was for all intents and purposes the beginning of the “world music” movement. And if that seems like a bold claim, keep in mind that while many classical composers had borrowed folk motifs throughout the centuries, the mélange of folk, jazz, blues, classical, gospel, and even rock ‘n’ roll that this record offered—back in 1963!—was simply unprecedented. It all comes together on the album’s first track, a 21 minute and 51 second stylistic odyssey appropriately entitled “Blend.” Backed by jazz drummer Billy Higgins, Bull improvises in a fashion akin to jazz, but his guitar style displays elements of folk, and the droning quality and raga-like climax echo aspects of Middle Eastern and Indian music. The rest of the album is no less peripatetic, offering interpretations of German composer Carl Orff, English Renaissance composer William Byrd, a Southern mountain tune, and a gospel song. Nowadays, of course, this kind of stylistic leapfrogging is commonplace; but Bull was so far ahead of his time in 1963 that the record predictably did not sell well, though it did attract an avid cult following and gained praise from the New York Times and Down Beat. Now, Real Gone Music takes great pleasure in bringing this groundbreaking recording back into print for the first time ever on CD, with notes by Richie Unterberger supplementing Nat Hentoff’s original notes and remastering by Joe Tarantino. One of the great lost treasures of the ‘60s, ripe to be rediscovered.
The cleverly-conceived cover shot tips you off to the fact that the 1967 record Mirrors—comprised of outtakes from sessions for his John Hammond, Big City Blues, So Many Roads, and Country Blues albums—displays two different sides of the great white bluesman John Hammond, one electric, one acoustic. The electric side features a backing band for the ages, consisting of Band members Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson plus Mike Bloomfield (on piano!) and Charley Musselwhite, while the acoustic side is just Hammond on guitar. There is little doubt that members of blues-rock bands both current and future listened carefully to this record; “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” (Grateful Dead), “Statesboro Blues” (Allman Brothers), and “Keys to the Highway” (Derek & the Dominos) all appear here, and indeed Hammond was friends with Eric Clapton and Duane Allman as well as with the members of The Band that play on the album. More importantly, however, Hammond lays a convincing claim to being one of his generation’s greatest bluesmen, especially with his takes on the Robert Johnson tunes “Travelling Riverside,” “Stones in My Passway,” and “Walking Blues.” This is the only Hammond album recorded for Vanguard in the ‘60s yet to be released on CD, and our Real Gone reissue includes notes by Richie Unterberger with exclusive quotes from John Hammond himself. Remastered by Joe Tarantino…a long-lost classic.
Signed to Concord Records at the ripe old age of 23 after being discovered by Marian McPartland, singer Eden Atwood came from some fine bloodlines; her father Hub Atwood was a composer and arranger for Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole among others, and her grandfather was noted novelist A.B. Guthrie, Jr. (The Big Sky; The Way West)! Little wonder, then, that Eden was a precocious artist indeed; not only was she one of the few singers of his generation to tackle the American standard songbook in the jazz idiom, but even in these early recordings she displayed a sensitivity for the lyrical material well beyond her years. Real Gone is proud to present the first-ever compilation of Eden’s Concord years, I’m Glad There Is You—The Best of the Concord Years, 14 tracks taken from all four of the albums (No One Ever Tells You, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, There Again, and A Night in the Life) she recorded for Concord, with disarmingly honest, track-by-track liner notes written by the artist herself.
There are zombies…and then there are brain-eating zombies! And The Return of the Living Dead was the film where brain-eating zombies got their first lease on, er, life. Co-written by John Russo, who was George Romero’s writing partner on Night of the Living Dead, this 1985 quasi-sequel introduced more “splatstick” humor to the horror formula as well as the indelible image of ghouls groaning “Braainsss” as they shuffle along. All set to a KILLER score featuring the greatest punk and death rock bands of the era, including The Cramps, 45 Grave, The Flesh Eaters, The Damned, Roky Erickson, The Jet Black Berries, T.S.O.L. and SSQ. Now, to celebrate Halloween, Real Gone Music is releasing no less than four colored vinyl versions: a grey “brainsss” vinyl version limited to 750 copies, a black and blood red starburst vinyl version limited to 750 copies exclusive for independent record stores, a green and orange “pumpkin” starburst version limited to 720 copies for the Transworld chain of stores including F.Y.E. and the company’s other properties, and, finally, a glow in the dark version limited to 500 copies and for sale only via the Real Gone Music website. But you’ll have to fight off the hordes of zombies seeking to consume each and every version…