You know that old saying about March going in like a lion and going out like a lamb? Well, that would apply to Real Gone Music’s March release schedule, except that this set of titles actually already chewed up that lion and spit him out…it’s that fearless and far-ranging. Kicking it off is some unreleased, funky, live soul-jazz from flautist Herbie Mann and his incredible, late-‘60s band featuring free jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock…two CDs’ of amazing jams. Then, the label once again proves its pop bona-fides with a 2-CD set featuring the hitherto largely unavailable Motown recordings of the great Bobby Darin, the missing chapter of a legendary career. And Real Gone devotes two more two-CD sets to a pair of giants, guitarist-singer-songwriter Dave Mason and honky-tonker supreme (and club owner) Mickey Gilley. In both cases, the packages are the most comprehensive collections ever afforded the artist.
R&B has not been a musical genre well served by the vinyl revolution of the past several years, but Real Gone has a couple of absolutely seminal releases coming out in March that will slake the appetite of starved soul fans everywhere. First off, the label is releasing Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ masterful soundtrack to Waiting to Exhale, which featured everybody from Whitney Houston to Aretha Franklin to Mary J. Blige to Patti LaBelle to Chaka Khan, on vinyl for the first time ever in America. The release features newly created gatefold packaging and limited edition purple vinyl. Then, the O’Jays’ beyond-classic album Back Stabbers receives its first-ever reissue, in limited-edition 180-gram black vinyl. A must for every self-respecting soul collection.
Finally, the label is releasing complete collections from two artists on its roster. And, true to form, they are strange bedfellows indeed: post-punkers The Lords of the New Church and pop vocalist Margaret Whiting. These new packages offer consumers to own the artists’ complete oeuvre at a new low price.
While jazz flautist Herbie Mann is often remembered as a pop-jazz player, he was actually a pioneer in popularizing world music and even prog-rock with recordings released on his own Embryo imprint (as part of Atlantic Records). And in the late ‘60s, he was fronting one of the most progressive and electrifying bands in the world: guitarist Sonny Sharrock, Miroslav Vitous on electric & upright bass, saxophonist Steve Marcus, drummer Bruno Carr, and vibraphonist Roy Ayers. Together, the sextet cut the dynamic Live at the Whisky A Go Go album in 1969, drawn from a four night run at the legendary nightclub on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip. Though the band’s repertoire was quite varied on these dates, just two side-long tracks, “Ooh Baby” and “Philly Dog,” surfaced on the Atlantic Records release. Now, reissue producer Pat Thomas has unearthed the multi-track tapes for these shows (never before mixed), and has programmed a double-CD set entitled Live at the Whisky 1969—The Unreleased Masters that shows this high-energy jazz-rock outfit stretching out – sometimes, on Sharrock’s solos, way out – with, as an added bonus, the appearance of Linda Sharrock on songs that appeared (in studio versions) on the seminal Sonny Sharrock album Black Woman released around the time of these live shows. All performances are previously unreleased, including a 23-minute jam of Donovan’s “Tangier” blending into Tim Hardin’s “If I Were A Carpenter” and a newly discovered take of “Ooh Baby” that clocks in at 21 minutes! Sonny Sharrock’s searing lead guitar work is featured on songs first recorded by Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, and Simon & Garfunkel – plus “Black Woman” and “Portrait of Linda in Three Colors” with Linda on vocals. Live at the Whisky 1969—The Unreleased Masters presents two CDs filled to the brim with explosive, yet ethereal innovative jazz-rock at its best. Fans of Bitches Brew, The Inner Mounting Flame, early Weather Report and similar-era titles will quickly realize that Herbie Mann was not just a pop-jazzbo – but a force to be taken more seriously than history has accorded him. File this CD between Soft Machine 3rd and the jazz-funk of The Crusaders. Packaging includes several previously unpublished live photos of this band in action, with notes by Thomas. A huge jazz find.
Bobby Darin was so much more than just “Mack the Knife.” In just 37 years, the singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and entrepreneur raced against the clock to conquer records, film, and television as he successfully transitioned from rock-and-roll teen idol to tuxedoed swinger and then to denim-clad folk troubadour. At the dawn of the 1970s, and still battling the chronic heart problems that had plagued him since youth, the superstar artist signed with Berry Gordy’s renowned Motown Records. At Motown, the versatile artist reinvented himself yet again, recording some of the most vibrant and vital music of his remarkable career. He tackled Hitsville, USA-style R&B and soul alongside original songs and personal re-interpretations of favorites by the day’s top pop and rock songwriters including Randy Newman, Cat Stevens, Paul Williams, and Bob Dylan. Darin released just one studio album and a number of singles at Motown before his untimely death in December 1973; the following year, producer Bob Crewe assembled a posthumous LP to celebrate his friend’s life and music. Yet, as the decades passed, Darin’s artistically wide-ranging Motown recordings were all but forgotten. Now, just two months before what would have been the singer’s 80th birthday on May 14, 2016, Real Gone Music and Second Disc Records proudly present the first-ever retrospective of the final chapter of the legendary Bobby Darin’s musical life. The 2-CD Another Song on My Mind: The Motown Years brings together the self-titled 1972 Bobby Darin album – never released on CD anywhere in the world – with Crewe’s original, never-on-CD mix of the posthumous Darin 1936-1973. If that’s not enough, this definitive, freshly-remastered anthology also adds every one of Bobby’s Motown singles as well as the remixed tracks from the short-lived CD reissue of Darin 1936-1973! The Second Disc’s Joe Marchese supplies the new liner notes for this landmark release, with remastering by Mike Milchner at SonicVision. Another Song on My Mind: The Motown Years is certain to prove one of 2016’s most significant archival collections for fans of Motown, R&B, pop, soul, and classic vocals, and celebrates the singer’s 80th birthday in style.
After British singer-songwriter-guitarist Dave Mason left Traffic, the band he co-founded, he embarked on a successful session and solo career that saw him notch seven straight Top 100 charting albums for the Columbia label between 1973 and 1980. Now, Real Gone Music is releasing by far the most comprehensive collection of this crucial part of Mason’s career; the two-CD set The Columbia Years—The Definitive Anthology includes 30 tracks drawn from all of his albums for Columbia (It’s Like You Never Left, Dave Mason, Split Coconut, Certified Live, Let It Flow, Mariposa De Oro, and Old Crest on a New Wave). Along the way you’ll hear such chart hits and FM radio faves as “We Just Disagree,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away),” “Let It Go, Let It Flow,” “Save Me,” and “Head Keeper,” plus smokin’ live versions of early career highlights like “Feelin’ Alright,” “Pearly Queen,” and “Only You Know and I Know.” Bill Kopp’s notes feature an exclusive interview with Dave Mason, and the package is remastered by Maria Triana at Sony’s Battery Studios. Mason’s solo oeuvre remains underappreciated; this collection sheds new light on one of rock’s most valuable players.
Long-time co-owner of the famous Gilley’s nightclub that was featured in Urban Cowboy, cousin to both Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, and country music superstar with over 45 chart hits to his credit (and a licensed commercial airplane pilot to boot!), Mickey Gilley is a larger than life figure if there ever was one. Yet, to date, there has never been a comprehensive collection that covered his entire career, which saw him adopt honky-tonk, countrypolitan, and “crossover” country-pop styles with equal success over three decades. Now, Real Gone Music has assembled a 41-track package that contains 36 chart hits—we’re not calling it The Definitive Hits Collection for nothing! In fact, of his chart smashes for the Playboy and Epic labels, where he spent the prime of his career, all but five of them appear here, including such legendary tracks as “Room Full of Roses,” “City Lights,” “She’s Pulling Me Back Again,” “Stand by Me” (featured in the film Urban Cowboy), “You Don’t Know Me,” “True Love Ways,” and “Paradise Tonight,” his hit duet with Charly McClain. Notes by Chris Morris featuring an interview with Mickey Gilley, and remastering by Maria Triana at Sony’s Battery Studios make this set an absolute must for any country music fan.
Waiting to Exhale was a phenomenon on so many levels. First, it was a literary phenomenon, as the 1992 novel launched author Terry McMillan to superstardom. Then, when the feature film based on the book was released in 1995, it became a broader cultural phenomenon—a mainstream Hollywood film focusing on the lives of four African-American women was a genuinely revolutionary act at the time. And, finally, it was a musical phenomenon, as its soundtrack seamlessly blended female R&B divas new (Whitney Houston, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, etc.) and old (Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan) in a masterful suite of songs composed and produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Critical and commercial reaction to the soundtrack was over the top; The New York Times deemed the album one of the Top Ten releases of the year, and the record topped the Billboard Pop and R&B charts for five and ten weeks, respectively, spawning the #1 hit singles “Exhale (Shoop Shoop),” “Not Gon’ Cry,” and “Let It Flow.” Yet, because the album came out in 1995 at the height of the CD era, Waiting to Exhale never came out on LP in the U.S., and was released in Europe as a low-budget 2-LP set with both records stuffed inside a single album jacket pocket. Now, Real Gone Music is releasing this landmark ‘90s R&B album on vinyl in America for the first time in a limited edition (of 1000) gatefold double-LP package sporting a luminous photo of the movie’s four principal actors (Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon, and Loretta Devine) on the inside spread and pristine vinyl pressed in purple (Whitney’s favorite color). Gently pulsating and seductive, Waiting to Exhale is Babyface’s masterpiece, and one of the great make-out records of all time, finally available in vinyl Stateside.
Deemed by many the pinnacle of the Philly Sound as perfected by legendary producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, 1972’s Back Stabbers from the vocal trio The O’Jays scored no less than two Top Five Pop and three Top Five R&B smashes with the songs “Love Train,” “Time to Get Down,” and the title tune (plus another Top 20 R&B hit with “992 Arguments”). But it’s more than the hits that make this album a soul classic; honed by a decade of woodshedding, the vocal arrangements of O’Jays Eddie Levert, William Powell and Walter Williams are simply sublime, and, when married to Gamble & Huff’s polished backing tracks, they render such album tracks as “(They Call Me) Mr. Lucky” and “Who Am I” every bit as potent as the better-known songs. In short, Back Stabbers is a masterpiece through and through, one that brought both the O’Jays and Gamble and Huff to national attention, but it’s never been reissued on vinyl in the “modern” era. With lacquer cutting by Kevin Gray, Real Gone Music’s limited (to 700 copies) 180-gram black vinyl edition just might sound better than the original pressing, and includes the original artwork.
Phrases don’t get much more oxymoronic than “punk supergroup,” but The Lords of the New Church had a pedigree no punk band could match. Lead singer Stiv Bators had spearheaded the Dead Boys, one of America’s preeminent young, loud, and snotty outfits, while guitarist Brian James was the guitarist for the Damned, who, along with the Sex Pistols and the Clash, were in the first wave and first rank of Britain’s punk groups. The rest of the band were no slouches, either; bassist Dave Tregugna and drummer Nick Turner hailed from Sham 69 and the Barracudas, respectively, two acts not quite as hallowed but each highly-esteemed. Anticipation was high among the leather jacket and Mohawk set, therefore, when their debut album came out in 1982, but the Lords, secure in their punk bona-fides, brought a highly stylized look and a new melodic polish to the music, which alienated some followers but brought a whole new element into their fan base. Furthermore, what the music lacked in fury, the band made up for with incendiary live shows which often ended up with Bators doing physical harm to himself (and reputedly being clinically dead for several minutes after one gig). Now, Real Gone Music is offering the first three, classic albums that the band recorded for the I.R.S. label (and the only ones recorded by the original line-up)—The Lords of the New Church, Is Nothing Sacred?, and The Method to Our Madness—in one nicely-priced 3-CD set entitled The Complete I.R.S. Albums Collection. Each album comes complete with notes by Scott Schinder, too—get a big chunk of seminal post-punk in one fell swoop!
Together with Peggy Lee, Margaret Whiting was the only female vocalist to have hits in the ‘40s, ‘50s and even in the late ‘60s, when the rock and roll sound sidetracked the career of most of her peers. But unlike Peggy, Margaret’s ‘60s recordings—made with producer Arnold Goland and released on the London label—remained tough to find for years. Now, Real Gone Music, in conjunction with the Whiting estate, has compiled a 2-CD, 50-track set offering The Complete London Recordings, with notes by highly esteemed music critic Will Friedwald and pictures from the Whiting family’s private archive. Inside are Margaret’s London albums The Wheel of Hurt, Maggie Isn’t Margaret Anymore, and Pop Country, all remastered from the original stereo master tapes, plus 13 non-LP singles and four other rarities. Paydirt for pop vocal fans.
MARCH 4, 2016 RELEASES FROM REAL GONE MUSIC
The O’Jays: Back Stabbers (Limited 180-Gram Vinyl Edition)
The Lords of the New Church: The Complete I.R.S. Albums Collection (3-CD Set)
Margaret Whiting: The Complete London Recordings (2-CD Set)
MARCH 11, 2016 RELEASES FROM REAL GONE MUSIC
Herbie Mann: Live at the Whisky 1969—The Unreleased Masters (2-CD Set)
Bobby Darin: Another Song on My Mind—The Motown Years (2-CD Set)
Dave Mason: The Columbia Years—The Definitive Anthology (2—CD Set)
Mickey Gilley: The Definitive Hits Collection (2-CD Set)
Waiting to Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album (Limited Purple Vinyl Gatefold Edition) (2-LP Set)