This Week in Music, August 27, 2013: Bob Dylan’s “Self Portrait,” naked Page 2
Sly and the Family Stone: Higher!
Archival release (Epic/Legacy)
Back to mono: So say the folks at Legacy when it comes to this four-CD set of Sly and the Family Stone. Among the mono single masters here are “Dance to the Music,” “Everyday People,” “Sing a Simple Song,” “I Want to Take You Higher,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Everybody Is a Star,” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” — all “paying homage to the golden age of transistor radios,” as the press release puts it.
The PR info also claims this is a “career-spanning anthology,” but that’s incorrect. Whereas it does begin at the beginning — with seven pre-Epic tracks (including singles that Sly released as a solo act in 1964-65 on Autumn while working as a producer for that label) — the box concludes with “Family Again” from 1976’s Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back and two previously unreleased tracks from that album’s era. Well, he’s been back again three times after that, on 1979’s Back on the Right Track and 1982’s Ain’t but the One Way (both credited to Sly and the Family Stone and released by Warner Bros.) and 2011’s I’m Back! Family & Friends (credited to Sly alone and released by Cleopatra, with mostly remixes and covers of old material but also including three new tracks). Of course, it could be argued that even earlier than 1979, Sly didn’t have much of a “career” left, but that’s another discussion . . .
Our discussion here should note that, besides the pair of unreleased tracks mentioned above, there are 15 more unissued selections, including a batch of formative recordings from 1967 and various instrumentals. Live versions of “Dance to the Music” and the “Music Lover / I Want to Take You Higher” medley are sourced from the Isle of Wight in 1970. Two other Wight numbers, “Stand!” and “You Can Make It If You Try,” were on a 1971 Columbia triple LP called The First Great Rock Festivals of the Seventies, and they reappear here as well. Additional rarities: the 1967 Loadstone single “I Ain’t Got Nobody (for Real)” b/w the Otis Redding song “I Can’t Turn You Loose” and, credited to the French Fries, the Francophone “Danse à la Musique.”
The 104-page book features an essay by the band’s authorized biographer, Jeff Kaliss, as well as an illustrated timeline and track-by-track notes, with input from original members Greg Errico, Larry Graham, Jerry Martini, and Cynthia Robinson — plus, thankfully, the auteur originally born as Sylvester Stewart.
Other reissues and archival releases
The Beach Boys: Made in California (Capitol/UMe)
There have been Beach Boys boxes before. What’s the attraction here? For starters, this six-CD set has more than 60 previously unreleased tracks. The fifth disc, for example, is dominated by an assortment of unissued live performances, ranging from a 1965 “Runaway” to a 1995 “Sail On Sailor.” And almost all of the sixth disc, subtitled “From the Vaults,” will be new to fans’ ears, including demos, a cappella mixes, instrumental tracks, and unreleased songs. The Boys’ entire saga is represented in this box, starting with their first single, 1961’s “Surfin’,” plus other tracks from their 1962 debut album, Surfin’ Safari, and ending with two selections from That’s Why God Made the Radio, the 2012 studio reunion of Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks. The whole thing comes in a hardbound tome meant to evoke a high-school yearbook, complete with “My Philosophy,” a high-school essay written by Wilson in 1959.
Belle and Sebastian: The Third Eye Centre (Matador)
Nineteen B-sides and other rare tracks recorded since the band’s previous like-minded compilation, 2005’s Push Barman to Open Old Wounds.
The Leathercoated Minds: A Trip Down the Sunset Strip
The Daisy Chain: Straight or Lame
The Love Exchange: The Love Exchange
Three psychedelic oddities from 1967 and ’68, each reissued here in a Limited Edition of 1,000 copies on 180-gram vinyl. Daisy Chain: female quartet. Love Exchange: quintet with 16-year-old female singer. Leathercoated Minds: instrumental versions of the era’s hits, produced by Snuff Garrett, led by guitarist J.J. Cale (who also provided four originals). Details at sundazed.com.
Mario Lanza: The Toast of Hollywood (Turner Classic Movies/Sony Masterworks)
Disc 1: “A Tenor at the Movies,” with songs and arias from his classic MGM musicals. Disc 2: “A Tenor in Love,” with Great American Songbook selections, Broadway tunes, and more, all recorded for radio broadcasts of The Mario Lanza Show in 1951 and ’52.