Tag Archive for 'Christmas'

Prince Greatest Hits Collection “Prince 4Ever” With Vault Track Out 11/22/16 – Comparison to 1993 “Hits”

prince-4ever

Warner Brothers Records in conjunction with NPG Records announced today that they’re releasing a new 40-track greatest hits collection titled Prince 4Ever. Due out strangely on Tuesday 11/22 (the release day in the US was moved generally to Fridays), this marks the first posthumous new release for Prince since his untimely death in April.

This release marks the first of the legendary “Vault” of unreleased recordings seeing the light of day since his estate has been taken over. Prince had released some things in the past– notably on the Crystal Ball box set as well as the Warner Brother contract-obligation release The Vault: Old Friends for Sale.

This release reminds me of the 1993 releases The Hits 1, The Hits 2 and the 3-CD collection The Hits/The B-Sides.  The way I remember those releases was that The Hits 1 was considered a “clean” release, and The Hits 2 was more of a “dirty” release, so people could choose to avoid the racy songs. I can’t find any reference to that being the case, but if you look at the tracklists, certainly 2 has the racy singles on it. Sadly, the epic anthem “Purple Rain” is on the 2nd disc, so it would be disappointing to just buy one of the CD’s. The 3-CD version has both 1 & 2 and adds a third disc of B-Sides. As a collector of Prince 7″ and 12″ singles, I was delighted to get CD versions of those songs, which were often as good or better than the album songs.

Prince 4Ever’s track list, as you might imagine is very close to that 1993 collection. The 1993 collection was based on the single versions of the songs instead of the album versions. I don’t have track times to compare it to verify, however. I think that Prince 4Ever does a much better job of featuring a wider selection of the Warner Brothers catalog. The 1993 collection seemed to stay away from the deeper tracks on All Around The World In A Day and Parade and we get a few more here.

Also interesting about this collection is that it stops at the same year the 1993 collection does– with tracks from the 1992 Love Symbol Album. It does not include the four contentious Warner Brothers albums that followed: Come, The Black Album, The Gold Experience, Chaos and Disorder, or The Vault: Old Friends For Sale. Admittedly, those albums didn’t have many big singles on them, so stopping at 1992 marks the last of the big singles period for Prince. Below is the tracklist of Prince 4Ever and I’ve indicated what tracks were not on the original compilation.

1. 1999
2. Little Red Corvette
3. When Doves Cry
4. Let’s Go Crazy
5. Raspberry Beret
6. I Wanna Be Your Lover
7. Soft and Wet
8. Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad
9. Uptown
10. When You Were Mine
11. Head
12. Gotta Stop (Messin’ About) ** on The B-Sides, non-album single from 1981, but was B-Side to “Let’s Work”
13. Controversy
14. Let’s Work ** not on Hits
15. Delirious
16. I Would Die 4 U
17. Take Me With U ** not on Hits
18. Paisley Park ** not on Hits
19. Pop Life
20. Purple Rain
21. Kiss
22. Sign ‘O’ The Times
23. Alphabet Street
24. Batdance ** not on Hits
25. Thieves In The Temple
26. Cream
27. Mountains ** not on Hits
28. Girls & Boys ** not on Hits
29. If I Was Your Girlfriend
30. U Got The Look
31. I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man
32. Glam Slam ** not on Hits
33. Moonbeam Levels ** not on Hits – the lone song from the Vault on here.
34. Diamonds and Pearls
35. Gett Off
36. Sexy MF
37. My Name Is Prince ** not on Hits
38. 7
39. Peach **debuted on Hits as a non-album single
40. Nothing Compares 2 U

This compilation is in many regards a better compilation than Hits was. I like the songs that they added to this, and some of the songs that Hits included are not missed: “Adore,” “Pink Cashmere (debuted on Hits 1),” “Pope” (A tribute to comedian Bernie Mac. Not a bad song, but certainly not really a great single from Prince.). The loss of the essential “Dirty Mind” is unfortunate, and I think that “Do Me Baby” is essential in the catalog. “I Feel For You” is probably better known as a Chaka Khan track than a Prince one.

The lone Vault track on here is “Moonbeam Levels” a song originally recorded in July of 1982 for 1999 and re-recorded for the aborted Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic (not to be confused with Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic which was released in 1999, or Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic released in 2001). Incidentally, “Pink Cashmere,” from Hits 1 was also a track considered for the aborted album.

According to Wikipedia, The Hits/The B-Sides sold 40,000 copies following Prince’s death, allowing it to re-enter the Billboard 200 at #6. With the Warner Brother reissue campaign in full swing, it makes sense to capitalize on Prince’s catalog with a new compilation of his best-known songs. Just in time for the holiday rush, and before Black Friday, it’s sure to end up in stockings and under trees. The only pre-sale information I’ve seen lists this as a 2 CD. I have to believe they’ll do vinyl, but It would have to be 3 or 4 LP’s.

Miles Davis Black Friday RSD 7″ Blue Xmas

Miles Davis Blue Xmas 7This Friday, November 28 is Black Friday 2014, but more importantly is “Back to Black” Friday, or Black Friday Record Store Day. There are a few releases this time that I’m looking forward to, so I’m going to make the trek to Moondog Music in Dubuque– my regular RSD haunt.

I’m planning on picking up the 2nd Neil Young 4 LP archives set that I covered previously here. As part of Omnivore’s Game Theory reissue campaign they are pressing a couple of early Game Theory EP’s on 10″ exclusively for RSD.

One piece I think is particularly interesting is a Miles Davis Christmas 7″. In transparent blue vinyl, it includes two tracks recorded in August 1962 with the short-lived Miles Davis Sextet. This sextet lineup is Miles Davis (trumpet) Frank Rehak (trombone) Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone) Paul Chambers (bass) Jimmy Cobb (drums) and Willie Bobo (percussion).

Even more interesting is that it is a collaboration with Bob Dorough, who you might be more familiar with as the “Bill” from “I’m Just A Bill” Schoolhouse Rock.

According to the Wikipedia article on Bob Dorough, Columbia asked Davis to contribute a track to their upcoming Jingle Bell Jazz compliation and he called on Bob Dorough to collaborate since Davis was a fan of Dorough’s 1956 album Devil May Care.  The resulting sessions yielded the dark and antithematic holiday track in “Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern).” During those same 2-day sessions, Dorough also tracked “Nothing Like You” which would eventually end up on Davis’s 1967 album Nefertiti. Davis wrapped those sessions up with a version of “Devil May Care.” This single for RSD is “Blue Xmas” on the A side and Davis’s version of “Devil May Care” on the flip.

The two tracks were previously also included in the 1970 import collection Facets Vol. 1.

Here is “Blue Xmas”

Here is “Devil May Care”

So, a release with a really interesting pedegree and one that is pretty essential for Miles Davis fans.

Free Download: Umphrey’s McGee’s Christmas Gift EP

Hot off the heels of the Umphrey’s Holidaze Cruise to Jamaica and all rested up for the upcoming NYE run, the boys of Umphrey’s McGee were feeling generous in the spirit of the season and have decided to give away a free holiday 3-song EP of never-before released material spanning the holiday shows from the past few years.

Downloading the EP requires that you have a UMLive account– which you would have if you are participating in the Mantis pre-orders or have ever ordered any shows from the band. Either way, if you don’t have one it is pretty painless and worth it.

Tracklisting:

1. Greensleeves > Carol of the Bells (4:18)
2. Christmas Time is Here (2:44)
3. Christmas Medley (1:51) (Jingle Bells > Deck the Halls > Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer (Dub Style) > Menard’s Theme)

They don’t tell you which years these tracks are from, unfortunately. Maybe it will be more clear when we get the Acoustic Christmas tracks in the Mantis bonuses. I about fell out of my chair when they broke into the Menard’s commercial. Clearly they are from the Midwest, where the Menard’s commerials are part of the advertising din!

Click on the banner above to sign up and download your free Christmas mp3’s from Umphrey’s McGee!

B-Sides in the Bins #38 : On A Charlie Brown Christmas by The Vince Guaraldi Trio

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" on my turntable

I made a quick stop in at Half-Price books last Thursday. Sherry needed me to stop at GNC for some flu-fighting stuff on my way home from work, so I took the opportunity to stop in. I saw a couple of interesting pieces in the Rock section that I need to get at some point including The Knack’s Get the Knack, and Isaac Hayes Hot Buttered Soul, but I didn’t want to pick up a bunch of stuff. I walked around to the Jazz section and I was really happy to see A Charlie Brown Christmas in the nearby Children’s section! The cover has no ringwear, but the sleeve was curved which has seemed to cause the printing to separate from the sleeve and wrinkle a bit. No matter, the vinyl is in fantastic shape and with the season upon us, I laid out the $2.98.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a very important album in my life in that it was the gateway to my appreciation of Jazz music today. I wish I could say that my Jazz listening started with something much more complex like Miles Davis, or Thelonious Monk or even John Coltrane– all of which I listen to today– but it started with the seminal Peanuts Christmas special.

In 1965, the pairing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” the TV special and Vince Guaraldi was initially met with resistance from executives from the show’s original home at CBS. They felt that Guaraldi’s West Coast Jazz was not a good fit for a children’s TV show. According to the Wikipedia article on Guaraldi, Lee Mendelson– the producer of the show– had heard “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” which was a huge single for Guaraldi and felt that his style was the right fit for the show. In retrospect, it was this innovative decision that lends to the timeless charm of the show and defined popular Christmas music for the generations of people like myself who make it a tradition to watch the delightful show year-after-year. It was the choice of the signature Guaraldi sound that would define all of the Peanuts specials made (sixteen!) until Guaraldi’s untimely death in 1976 shortly after he wrapped up “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown.” Guaraldi was only 47.

Fantasy Records issued A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy 8431) that same year as the soundtrack to the show and added “The Chrismas Song,” which wasn’t in the special.

In the liner notes for George Winston’s 1982 release December– itself a hallmark of Christmastime music– he says,

“There is a great wealth of traditional and contemporary music to draw from in doing an album for the winter season. These five albums have been very inspirational to me in conceiving of this album for the seasons.”

Of course the first album listed is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I first heard December standing in the Musicland in Dubuque when I was in high school around Christmas and bought it immediately. When I got it home and read the liner notes I took note of the A Charlie Brown Christmas mention. George Winston would go on to record a complete album of Guaraldi compositions called Linus and Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi in 1996.

In 1988, Fantasy finally released A Charlie Brown Christmas on CD (Fantasy FCD-8431). I picked it up a couple of years after that, and that is the version I have on CD today. The 1988 release of the CD and the LP included the song “Greensleeves” which was recorded during the sessions but not included on the original release. In 1997 Fantasy made a Starbucks Exclusive edition which was faithful to the original release by omitting “Greensleeves.”

My pressing of A Charlie Brown Christmas is a 70’s issue. It has a new cover that uses the original illustration, but has a different font and that It has the newer “circle-F” logo on the LP label, but doesn’t have that logo on the front cover– unlike the 1988 release. The front cover has “The Original Sound Track Recording of the CBS Television Special” across the top. This is the same cover that was used in the 1988 remaster (aside from the logo change).

In 2006, Concord Music Group— which has Fantasy Records these days– reissued and remastered A Charlie Brown Christmas and added some bonus tracks in the form of alternate takes of  “Christmas Is Coming,” “The Christmas Song,” “Greensleeves,” and the vocal take of “Christmas Time Is Here.” Unfortunately, during the remastering process they used the wrong takes for “Linus and Lucy” (actually half of a take as the standard “Linus and Lucy” is made of two takes) and “Christmas is Coming.” They initially offered a replacement for people who got the “bad” disc. I think that if I had gotten one of those, I would have kept it! This release also extended some of the original songs that were edited. “O Tannenbaum” was missing the intro, “Christmas Time Is Here (Instrumental)” was missing the last chord of the song, and “Skating” gains an additional ten seconds restoring the bass solo at the end. They also brought the original cover back which gets rid of the “CBS Special” line at the top of the front cover.

Of note also is the 2006 remastering done by legendary mastering engineers Steve Hoffman and Kevin Grey at AcousTech for Analogue Productions. This was available in a limited (1000 copies)  numbered series of two 180g 45RPM records and is faithful to the original release by not including “Greensleeves.”  A quick search on the ‘net yields none to be had at the moment (although they apparently were available until earlier in December– DRAT!). I’ll have to keep an eye out for one of these. Click Here to see other titles that were and are available from their Fantasy Jazz series of reissues.

The special was aired the night before last on its new home at ABC and even though I own it on DVD, I was transfixed to watch it on TV. One thing I noticed that I’d never noticed before was the song “Skating” is not played during the skating scene in the beginning– it is “Christmas Time Is Here.” I think– like most people who’ve grown up since 1965– the Charlie Brown Christmas special represents the beginning of the holiday season. I usually break out the CD shortly after Thanksgiving (much to my wife’s dismay) to help get into the season. It’s also the ’60’s bebop Jazz sound of A Charlie Brown Christmas that moved me to look for other artists who shared a similar sound like Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans for the piano sound, and Miles Davis’s years on Prestige Records which led me to John Coltrane. Although I listen to other Jazz styles, I tend to come back to this style most often.

A cool find in the used bins in time for the holidays.

Update: Acoustic Sounds found another crate of these in early 2009, and I bought a copy. I traded my 1970’s copy to a friend for an early pressing of Led Zeppelin II.  On Christmas Day 2010, it looks like Acoustic Sounds has these in stock again. Click Here.

Related Posts with Thumbnails