We’re up to our proverbial styli in box sets with the latest edition of As The Disc Spins. For starters, we'll take a tour through the massive and equally impressive 16 disc U.S. Singles Collection from The Beach Boys. Then, let's rip the shrink-wrap off of the second installment in the re-evaluation of John Coltrane's Impulse! Albums. Finally, in honor of The Red-Headed Stranger's 75th birthday, the long-awaited release of One Hell Of A Ride -- chronicling five decades of 'Shotgun' Willie with a four-CD/100 song anthology.

 

 
Volume 5, Number 3 - June 16, 2008
 
   

 
The Beach Boys -- U.S. Singles Collection - The Capitol Years (1962 - 1965) (Capitol/EMI)
 

On the heels of similar compiles -- most notably from The Beatles, Blondie and Duran Duran --  Capitol/EMI have invested a great deal of care in digitally updating the Beach Boys' first 15 American 45 rpm releases. Many potential consumers might feel as if this undeniably pricey compendium is a further marketing ploy to rehash and/or exploit the Beach Boys considerable back catalogue. Granted, all but eight of the 66 selections have been included on CD before now -- but never in the same place and certainly not with the tremendous attention to detail.

However, from the point of view of a hardcore [read: gotta have it all] Beach Boys devotee, perhaps the most significant factor is exactly why the set's producers chose to stop just shy of The Beach Boys' Party (1965) album -- which boasts one of the combos biggest chart-toppers "Barbara Ann". That point of contention aside and with the sincere hope that a second and possibly third follow-up set will rectify the issue, what is served up over the course of these two-and-half hours is pure, unadulterated manna for the nostalgic soul.

Of primary importance are faithful presentations of the respective monaural A and B sides -- several of which contained double-sided chart entries -- of "Surfin' Safari" b/w "409"; "Ten Little Indians" b/w "County Fair"; "Surfin' USA" b/w "Shut Down"; "Surfer Girl" b/w "Little Deuce Coupe"; "Be True To Your School" b/w "In My Room"; the seasonal "Little Saint Nick" b/w "The Lord's Prayer"; "Fun, Fun, Fun" b/w "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?"; "I Get Around" b/w "Don't Worry Baby"; "When I Grow Up To Be A Man" b/w "She Knows Me Too Well"; the four-play EP with "Wendy" and "Don't Back Down" b/w "Little Honda" and "Hushabye"; "Dance, Dance, Dance" b/w "The Warmth Of The Sun"; a second holiday-themed pairing of "The Man With All The Toys" b/w "Blue Christmas"; "Do You Wanna Dance?" b/w "Please Let Me Wonder"; "Help Me, Rhonda" b/w "Kiss Me, Baby" and "California Girls" b/w "Let Him Run Wild".

That is only half the story as each CD also packs in stereo mixes and the occasional rarity. Of primary interest to collectors are formerly unissued offerings, such as the  reading of "409," recorded live in Chicago in late March of 1965, an alternate mono edit of "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?," new stereophonic mixes of "When I Grow Up To Be A Man," "She Knows Me Too Well," "Little Saint Nick," "Do You Wanna Dance?," and mono mixes of the rarity "All Dressed Up For School" as well as "I'm So Young".
The deluxe packaging gets a specific nod as the discs are respectively housed in replicas of the 45 rpm sleeves with meticulous attention to artwork. Even more striking is the 48-page hardbound photo book sporting a tactile sand-like finish. And the whole affair comes in a remarkably intricate wooden inlay box.

 

 

John Coltrane -- The Impulse! Albums: Volume Two
(Impulse!/Verve/UMe)


 

Following up on the inaugural volume, this collection gathers the next half-dozen albums in John Coltrane's landmark Impulse! output, focusing on his 1963 and '64 long players: John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman (1963), Impressions (1963), Live At Birdland (1963), Crescent (1964) and the genre-redefining A Love Supreme (1964).

The March 7th, 1963 session that yielded the half-dozen popular American Songbook standards can be considered an extension of 'Trane's previous all-instrumental Ballads (1962). The most significant difference being the addition of sublime jazz vocalist Johnny Hartman into the mix of Coltrane (tenor sax), McCoy Tyner (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums). While the melodies are uniformly superb, the treatments given to "Dedicated To You," "Lush Life" and "You Are Too Beautiful" are refined elegance personified.

The Impressions project could not have been more different from the collaboration with Hartman. To begin with, the LP blended a pair of extended excursions with the opener "India" and the title track "Impressions" -- both from a November 3rd, 1961 outing at the venerable Village Vanguard. The tune stack is rounded out with the addition of the two studio pieces "Up 'Gainst The Wall" and "After The Rain". Enthusiasts of 'Trane's live interactions with Eric Dolphy (bass clarinet/alto sax) are strongly encouraged to seek the four-disc Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (1997) as well.
To the same end, Live At Birdland (1963) combines studio and concert tapes onto one of the artist's less lauded platters. This is especially true for modern listeners in the wake of such epic anthologies as the aforementioned multi-disc Village Vanguard release and the eight CD tome gathering the Classic Quartet's Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings (1998). Of the non-stop highlights are the 10+ minute "Afro-Blue," "I Want To Talk About You" and "The Promise" circa an early October '63 stint at Birdland. That isn't to say that "Alabama" and "Your Lady" --from a mid-November of '63 studio date -- are any less enticing.

Crescent is marked by a considerable reallocation of the Classic Quartet's energies away from cover versions of familiar standards and into the realm of completely original Coltrane compositions. "Bessie's Blues," "Lonnie's Lament" and "Wise One" are unqualified works of genius. This course would continue to an even more profound level on the four-movement A Love Supreme. Astute 'Trane aficionados will similarly note the bandleaders shift from soprano to tenor sax during this era. The development would, for all intents and purposes, be complete by early December 1964 -- when A Love Supreme  was documented.

Each of the five titles in Impulse! Albums: Volume Two (2008) are housed in fold-out digi-packs that authentically reproduce the original album artwork and liner notes. Plus, the audio mastering is unquestionably the best currently available on compact disc.

 

 

Willie Nelson -- One Hell Of A Ride
(Columbia/Legacy)


 

Fifty years in the making, the omni-talented Willie Nelson has finally gotten his due. His name has become practically synonymous with Americana. And rightfully so, as he has written and performed among the most distinctive music of the 20th and 21st centuries. The oh-so appropriately monikered One Hell Of A Ride (2008) corals 100 examples of  The Red-Headed Stranger at his best, taking a primarily chronological overview of Nelson's entire career that has spanned a dozen or so different record labels during the course of five decades.

And what better way to start than with the very earliest known single to have been issued under Willie's own name -- the ironically-titled "When I've Sang My Last Hillbilly Song". While precise details remain lost to the ages, what is known is that Nelson cut the track at Pleasanton, Texas radio station KBOP in the mid 1950s. Showing just how far he's come, the last song on Disc Four is a remake of the number from 2007 -- documented half-a-century later and approximately 125 miles due South at the Pedernales Recording Studios in Spicewood, Texas.

One Hell Of A Ride stands as the most complete domestic distillation of Nelson's 90-plus LP catalogue. There are well-known hits, deep album sides and collaborative efforts galore. A cursory glance at the tune stack reveals such gems as "Nite Life," "Hello Walls," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Crazy," "Good Times," "I Gotta Get Drunk," "Me And Paul," "Good Hearted Woman," "Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" (with Waylon Jennings), "Shotgun Willie," "Sad Songs And Waltzes," "Uncloudy Day," "Bloody Mary Morning," "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," "If You've Got The Money I've Got The Time," "Stardust," "Georgia On My Mind," "A Song For You," "Whiskey River," "Help Me Make It Through The Night," "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys ," "On The Road Again," "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground," "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter," "Always On My Mind," "Old Friends" (with Roger Miller), "Pancho And Lefty," "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" (with Julio Iglesias), "Seven Spanish Angels" (with Ray Charles), "What Was It You Wanted," "Everywhere I Go" (with Emmylou Harris), as well as his unforgettable take of "Rainbow Connection". And folks, that is a mere sampling.

The CDs are accompanied by a resplendent 100-page full-color liner notes booklet that sports dozens of never-before seen photographs, and full discographical information and an introductory blurb from Nelson's harmonica player Mickey Raphael and a historically-based extended essay by Texas musician/music journalist Joe Nick Patoski -- who recently published Nelson's biography, Willie Nelson: An Epic Life.

Ever the environmentalist and espouser of the pro-green campaign (in more ways than one), the entire packaging is 100% recyclable and isn’t derived from any plastic-based compounds … sans the CDs of course.

 


 

 

 

   
 
     

 

Copyright 2002-2008 Matthew Rowe.
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Disclaimer: various news pieces may state a specific media publication or program as a source. All other news is considered 'rumour' only. That goes double for release dates.

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"Even though most of the people I knew in my youth are gone, I still reach out to them..." Norman Maclean - Paraphrase

"...we should enjoy every sandwich." -- Warren Zevon
"Buy the ticket, take the ride." -- Hunter S Thompson
"...you best wake up 'fore tomorrow comes creepin' in...: -- Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad)
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." -- Kurt Vonnegut
"Because they wouldn't let me go for three..." -- Woody Hayes (OSU)
"Show me peaceful days before my youth has gone" -- Neil Diamond (Serenade)