As a fan of Christmas and holiday music, like many, I tend to stick with the classics. “White Christmas” from Bing Crosby, “Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry, “The Christmas Song” from Nat King Cole. That said, what is considered “classic” today at one time was a new holiday song. For example, “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney, which by any account is a classic Christmas song came out in 1979. A Charlie Brown Christmas album by The Vince Guaraldi Trio originally came out in 1965. George Winston’s December came out in 1982.
My point is that new Christmas music comes out each year, and aside from very well-done covers of the classics (“Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” by Springsteen, Stevie Nicks’s version of “Silent Night”) attempts at new Christmas songs are generally tricky propositions. A good Christmas song is more than just holiday adjacent lyrics with some sleigh bells slapped on it for good measure, though scads of this seem to be the norm.
So, when Colemine Records, my favorite R&B label out of central Ohio announced that Kelly Finnigan was releasing a record of Christmas and Holiday songs, I was really interested to hear it. The legacy of Colemine Records stems from acts influenced by all of the big R&B labels: Motown, Stax/Volt, Atlantic, Philadelphia International, Philles, Chess, and the list goes on. Most of these labels put out Christmas records at some point (Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You and Altlantic Records Soul Christmas, being two legendary examples), so it stands to reason that Colemine would know what the bar would be for a great record.
Kelly Finnigan is a bit of a secret weapon for Colemine Records. The Bay Area musician, songwriter and producer is a recent addition to the amazing Monophonics on keys and vocals and whose 2020 album It’s Only Us is start to finish a brilliant record with a huge lush sound. His solo album The Tales People Tell from 2019 was a strong debut with Finnigan playing most of the instruments on the record, which took over two years to complete. I recently noticed that he’s a co-writer on one of my favorite Colemine singles “Next To You” by Gene Washington & The Ironsides.
You’d think that with a strong 2019 solo release and the new Monophonics record that would be enough new music, but he is closing 2020 out with a Christmas record– A Joyful Sound which came out on Tuesday digitally with the general vinyl and CD releases coming out on December 11th.
For this album, Finnigan wrote or co-wrote most of the songs. In a couple of cases, he retooled some R&B chestnuts to be Christmas songs.
The other track is from a really obscure Detroit R&B record “To Be Young” recorded by The Magic Tones. The re-boot as “To Be Young At Christmas” is a tastefully polished track, and unless you knew the original track, you wouldn’t think this wasn’t a Christmas song from the start.
My favorite song on the album, though is the heart-wrenching “No Time To Be Sad” which was the first song I heard from the album and pushed me to pre-order it instantly. That french horn, FTW. Holy crap.
I got in on the pre-order, which was a red and white swirled vinyl and came with a slipmat matching the tartan pattern of the record as well as a CD. I got the wonderful news that these pre-orders have shipped! The regular releases will come out on 12/11 and include a regular black vinyl version as well as an indie record store Christmas tree green pressing.
With so many fantastic releases coming out of Colemine, it isn’t surprising that they’d have a strong holiday release like A Joyful Sound. This is an essential release for R&B fans and Christmas music fans alike.
Titled Blue World, the album (out September 27th) is made up of recordings Coltrane’s classic quartet with Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner tracked on June 24, 1964 at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. These songs were tracked for Quebecois film producer Gilles Groulx to be used for his film Le chat dans le sac (“The Cat In The Bag”). The songs were mostly new recordings of songs from Coltrane’s catalog plus a new song “Blue World” (which, according to an article by NPR, was itself a variation of a previously-recorded song the pop standard “Out Of This World” by Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer). Revisiting previous works in the studio isn’t something Coltrane had done before, or from what I can tell, since. This gives us a unique way to view the development Coltrane and band were going through by comparing previous recordings to these reinterpretations.
The first thing I did when I heard about this release was to check my faithful jazz session database at jazzdisco.org and it was missing! This has since been remedied as the details of this release came to light. According to the interview with Barbara Ulrich (who played the lead also named Barbara in the film) for the liner notes (written by Jazz scholar Ashley Kahn) of the release quoted in the NPR.org article, Groulx was a fan of John Coltrane and it was through an acquaintance that he knew Jimmy Garrison which was likely the connection to Coltrane’s involvement in the film. Groulx attended the recording session on June 24th and was handed the 37-minute 1/4″ mono tape at the end of the session. Since it wasn’t an official release and these sessions weren’t part of an album recording, they didn’t make it to the database.
“Gilles had a list of the music he wanted and later he told me when he gave the list to Coltrane, Coltrane said, ‘Okay, I can do this — I can’t do that, it’s not mine. OK I get it, I know what you want.’ Then they just started jamming and recorded for several hours. Then Rudy gave Gilles the tape and that was it. When he got back he was absolutely ecstatic. He knew exactly where he was going to use the music in the film.”
Le chat dans le sac featured an original score by John Coltrane, an African American saxophonist whose music was often associated with Black Nationalism. The film’s jazz soundtrack was dans l’air du temps [current fashion]. It echoed Louis Malle’s Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1958) and John Cassavetes’ Shadows (1959) which featured contributions by jazzmen Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. However, the music also serves to validate the language of decolonization which Claude deploys throughout the film. Groulx’s main protagonist reads Frantz Fanon’s Les damnés de la terre, Louis E. Lomax’s La révolte noire and Parti pris. Claude, a [Quebecois separationist revolutionary] , listens to jazz as he plans his revolt. …. Coltrane’s music legitimizes Claude’s quest for emancipation in ways that Barbara cannot.
The Cinema of the Quiet Revolution: Quebec‟s Second Wave of Fiction Films and the National Film Board of Canada, 1963-1967 p 60
The Rolling Stone article says that the tape eventually made it to the National Film Board of Canada and that was how Impulse! came to get it early last year. The National Film Board of Canada was the organization that underwrote Le chat dans le sac originally. There is a funny story in the Fillon paper I quoted above about how the NFB was only interested in producing television content at the time that Gilles Groulx was working with them. Groulx agreed to shooting a TV show, and apparently gave them the Canadian theme of “snow” for this project. Instead he took the funds and shot Le chat dans le sac.
Here are the tracks on the album along with my notation of which album the original version is on. It’s interesting, if not notable, that “Naima” from Giant Steps and the two songs from Jazz (“Village Blues”, “Like Sonny”) were all recorded originally during the same sessions in 1959 and 1960. In many ways Jazz can be looked at as the outtakes from the Giant Steps sessions.
TRACKS SIDE A 1 Naima (Take 1) (4:34) originally on Giant Steps (1959) 2 Village Blues (Take 2) (3:41) originally on Jazz (recorded 1959, released 1961) 3 Blue World (6:08) 4 Village Blues (Take 1) (3:51) Jazz (1961) SIDE B 1 Village Blues (Take 3) (3:45) Jazz (1961) 2 Like Sonny (2:43) originally on Jazz (1961) 3 Traneing In (7:42) originally on John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio (1958) 4 Naima (Take 2) (4:10) Giant Steps (1959)
Blue World has been mastered from its original mono analog tape by Kevin Reeves at Universal Music Mastering in New York. The new 180g vinyl edition’s lacquers were cut by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios.
The big news from the Tom Petty camp is the announcement of a new 60-track career retrospective called Tom Petty: An American Treasure. It comes in three physical formats, one is a 4 CD version that includes an 84-page hardcover book (available only through tompetty.com) there is also a 4 CD version without the hardcover book. Additionally, there is a 6-LP version of it that doesn’t include the hardcover book, which comes out on Black Friday Record Store Day on 11/23, coincidentally (though likely not– it is probably an “RSD First” release, which means it is a regular release, and not limited to RSD).
The box set has a mixture of album tracks, outtakes and alternative versions and live tracks. In some ways this box set is the sequel to the 1995 Playback box set which focused on studio songs, outtakes, unreleased and b-sides. This set mixes in some live tracks like the 2009 The Live Anthology did. An American Treasure is a fairly complimentary addition to those collections.
With the assistance of posts on Steve Hoffman Forums and Mudcrutch Farm Tom Petty forums, I started taking a look at what is on this box in greater detail. There is some disappointment from folks due to the 18 album tracks and the bit of overlap with the Playback boxset and tracks that were available on Highway Companion bonus downloads. That said, there is a treasure trove of new stuff here. The album tracks are kind of deeper tracks from albums that haven’t been focused on before. And– surprise– no “Free Fallin'”!
Here is a breakdown (so to speak) of the new tracks on here. This is the full track list, so I’ve included the album tracks, but didn’t provide any commentary on those. I also provide some thoughts about possible future archive releases.
Surrender (Previously unreleased track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sessions—1976) – The first place we heard this song in any form was on 2000 release Anthology: Through the Years. The version on this compilation was a new recording of the song created specifically for this release (and was the last studio recording of Howie Epstein before his death, according to Wikipedia). In 2009 we got a version on The Live Anthology as a live performance from June 11, 1983 from Irvine Meadows. In 2010 a studio version of this song was added to the Deluxe Edition reissue of Damn The Torpedoes. We don’t know yet whether the version here is the same version that was included on that reissue, since Damn The Torpedoes was, according to Wikipedia, recorded between 1978 and 1979.
Listen To Her Heart (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA—November 11, 1977) Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA—November 11, 1977)
These two tracks came from a radio broadcast on KWST FM 106 in Los Angeles. This recording has been floating around as a widely-traded bootleg.
When The Time Comes (Album track from You’re Gonna Get It!—May 2, 1978) You’re Gonna Get It (Alternate version featuring strings from You’re Gonna Get It! sessions—1978) Unheard version from what I can tell.
Radio Promotion Spot (1977)
Rockin’ Around (With You) (Album track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers —November 9, 1976)
Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It) (Alternate version from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—1976)
Breakdown (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA—November 11, 1977) See above.
The Wild One, Forever (Album track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—November 9, 1976)
No Second Thoughts (Album track from You’re Gonna Get It!—May 2, 1978)
Here Comes My Girl (Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions—1979) Not on the Deluxe Edition of Damn The Torpedoes!
What Are You Doing In My Life (Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions—1979) Not on the Deluxe Edition of Damn The Torpedoes!
Louisiana Rain (Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions—1979) Not on the Deluxe Edition of Damn The Torpedoes!
Lost In Your Eyes (Previously unreleased single from Mudcrutch sessions—1974) On the 1995 Playback box set, we got a few Mudcrutch sessions tracks (“On The Street”, “Depot Street”, “Cry To Me”, “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “I Can’t Fight It”) but this is a new one. There is a bootleg that collects all of the Mudcrutch sessions from 1974 and 1975 which doesn’t include the Playback tracks, but does include this (other Mudcrutch songs that haven’t seen official release: “Another Lonely Night, “Don’t It Get Weird”, “You’re Driving me Crazy”, “She’s A Screamer”, “Parade of Loons”, “Makin’ Some Noise”, “You Don’t Care”, “Don’t Bring me Down”, “Save Me”, “Don’t Make It Any Easier”, “Long way From Home”, “Once Upon a Time Somewhere”, “Country Girls Run Dry”)
Keep A Little Soul (Previously unreleased track from Long After Dark sessions—1982) The first single from this box set, and is the download you get for the pre-order.
Even The Losers (Live at Rochester Community War Memorial, Rochester, NY—1989) No songs from this show are on The Live Anthology, so this is an unheard track.
Keeping Me Alive (Previously unreleased track from Long After Dark sessions—1982) A version of this song is on Playback. Is this a different take?
Don’t Treat Me Like A Stranger (B-side to UK single of “I Won’t Back Down”—April, 1989) Not part of the b-sides on Playback.
The Apartment Song (Demo recording (with Stevie Nicks)—1984) From Playback.
Concert Intro (Live introduction by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Forum, Inglewood, CA—June 28, 1981) King’s Road (Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA—June 28, 1981) Clear The Aisles (Live concert announcement by Tom Petty, The Forum, Inglewood, CA—June 28, 1981) A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me) (Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA—June 28, 1981)
In 1981 during the Hard Promises tour, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers played a three-night run at The Forum in Inglewood, CA: June 28-30th. Tracks from this run have appeared before. The two duet tracks with Stevie Nicks on the live album Pack Up The Plantation: Live (“Insider” and “Needles and Pins”) were from one of those nights (I haven’t found setlists for those shows yet). The Live Anthology has a bunch of songs from those nights:
“Ladies and Gentlemen…”, “Nightwatchman.” (June 30, 1981)
“A Thing About You” (June 28, 1981)
“Breakdown” (June 30, 1981)
“A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)” (June 29, 1981)
“The Waiting” (June 28, 1981)
“Good, Good Lovin'” (June 30, 1981)
“I Need To Know” (June 29, 1981)
In my opinion, at the risk of redundancy, they could do a Grateful Dead style boxset encompassing all three nights, since clearly they have very high quality recordings of those nights.
Straight Into Darkness (Alternate version from The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—May 5, 1982) A version we haven’t heard.
You Can Still Change Your Mind (Album track from Hard Promises—May 5, 1981)
Rebels (Alternate version from Southern Accents sessions—1985) As someone on the Mudcrutch board observed, the sessions for Southern Accents were “problematic” and Petty broke his hand punching a wall during them in frustration. Maybe this will be a very different version of “Rebels” due to all of the recording they did trying to get the album completed.
Deliver Me (Alternate version from Long After Dark sessions—1982) This is a new outtake we haven’t heard.
Alright For Now (Album track from Full Moon Fever—April 24, 1989)
The Damage You’ve Done (Alternate version from Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) sessions—1987) Another new version we’ve not heard.
The Best Of Everything (Alternate version from Southern Accents sessions—March 26, 1985)
Walkin’ From The Fire (Previously unreleased track from Southern Accents sessions—March 1, 1984) New version.
King Of The Hill (Early take (with Roger McGuinn)—November 23, 1987) – Interesting inclusion. Petty co-wrote this with Roger McGuinn for his Back From Rio album.
I Won’t Back Down (Live at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA—February 4, 1997) Tom Petty performed an epic 20-night sold out run from January 10th to February 7th, 1997 at The Fillmore in San Francisco. This was the 20th anniversary of the band. We also have some songs on The Live Anthology from this run:
“Diddy Wah Diddy” (2/1/97)
“I Want You Back Again” (2/7/97)
“Friend of the Devil” (2/7/97)
“Jammin’ Me” (2/7/97)
“County Farm” (2/4/97)
Similarly to the run of shows at The Fillmore in 1981, we could get a boxset of these shows. That would be pretty amazing.
While we’re talking about it, they did another residency at The Fillmore in 1999, from March 7th to the 16th. The nights of the 15th and 16th created the High Grass Dogs : Live at The Fillmore film.
Gainesville (Previously unreleased track from Echo sessions—February 12, 1998) Too new to be included in Playback— but I’m looking forward to hearing other tracks from the under-appreciated album.
You And I Will Meet Again (Album track from Into The Great Wide Open—July 2, 1991)
Into The Great Wide Open (Live at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena—November 24, 1991)
No 1991 tour songs at all on The Live Anthology.
Two Gunslingers (Live at The Beacon Theatre, New York, NY—May 25, 2013) This is the same version that was on the Highway Companions fanclub download Live 2013 and on the Kiss My Amps Vol. 2 Record Store Day vinyl release.
Lonesome Dave (Previously unreleased track from Wildflowers sessions—July 23, 1993) To Find A Friend (Album track from Wildflowers—November 1, 1994) Crawling Back To You (Album track from Wildflowers—November 1, 1994) Wake Up Time (Previously unreleased track from early Wildflowers sessions—August 12, 1992) Grew Up Fast (Album track from Songs and Music from “She’s the One”—August 6, 1996)
Oh boy. The hopeful amongst the Tom Petty faithful are now looking at 2019 as the 25th anniversary of Wildflowers to get the expanded version with “All The Rest.” So, now we have what is likely some of the tracks that would have been included in the promised expanded edition of Wildflowers here in this box set. I just hope Wildflowers: All The Rest comes out before I die.
I Don’t Belong (Previously unreleased track from Echo sessions—December 3, 1998) More cool unheard stuff from Echo. Accused Of Love (Album track from Echo—April 13, 1999) Lonesome Sundown (Album track from Echo—April 13, 1999)
Don’t Fade On Me (Previously unreleased track from Wildflowers—sessions—April 20, 1994) See above.
You And Me (Clubhouse version—November 9, 2007) This is a song from The Last DJ. The Clubhouse is the Heartbreakers rehearsal and gear storage space. I’m sure there’s lots of interesting recordings from The Clubhouse we haven’t heard.
Have Love Will Travel (Album track from The Last DJ—October 8, 2002) Money Becomes King (Album track from The Last DJ—October 8, 2002)
Bus To Tampa Bay (Previously unreleased track from Hypnotic Eye sessions—August 11, 2011) Oooh. Hypnotic Eye outtakes!!
Saving Grace (Live at Malibu Performing Arts Center, Malibu, CA—June 16, 2006) The 2006 tour was a strong one– it also generated the “Live From Gatorville” show and they played Bonnaroo.
Down South (Album track from Highway Companion—July 25, 2006)
Southern Accents (Live at Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL—September 21, 2006) Insider Live (with Stevie Nicks at O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL—September 21, 2006)
“Live From Gatorville” or “One 30th Anniversary Concert from Gainesville, FL” which was a pay-per-view (I think) and then the bonus DVD included with the “Runnin’ Down A Dream” documentary. These songs are from this. We got a bunch of songs from this show on The Live Anthology: “I’m A Man”, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, “Southern Accents” (so this is repeated here)
Two Men Talking (Previously unreleased track from Hypnotic Eye sessions—November 16, 2012) Fault Lines (Album track from Hypnotic Eye—July 29, 2014) Sins Of My Youth (Early take from Hypnotic Eye sessions—November 12, 2012)
Cool to hear more from the Hypnotic Eye sessions.
Good Enough (Alternate version from Mojo sessions—2012) Something Good Coming (Album track from Mojo—July 15, 2010)
I would have thought that there would be more alternate and outtakes from Mojo, since it seemed like they were jamming more. Nevertheless, it will be cool to hear something from those sessions.
Save Your Water (Album track from Mudcrutch 2—May 20, 2016)
Like A Diamond (Alternate version from The Last DJ sessions—2002)
Hungry No More (Live at House of Blues, Boston, MA—June 15, 2016) This was previously released on the Highway Companion club download The Very Best Performances of the 2016 Mudcrutch Tour live Mudcrutch compilation.
An American Treasure seems like a really thought out tribute to Tom Petty, even though it’s kind of a mixed bag. The inclusion of album tracks and other tracks that have been released elsewhere makes it not exactly a perfect collection for die-hard fans of Petty. The album tracks it does have, don’t include any hits, so it’s not really for the casual fan either. For a Tom Petty completist like me, it’s one to add to the collection, even if it is kind of a compromise.