Record Reviews

Leonard Cohen: Songs From A Room

By Harvey Kubernik ©  2019

April 7, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s second Columbia Records album, Songs From A Room in 1969. It reached No.

Courtesy of Sony Music

63 on the US Billboard Top LPs and No. 2 on the UK charts. 

Initially, Songs From A Room felt like a trespass,” suggested writer Marina Muhlfriedel. “How dare Leonard Cohen dilute the sacred incursion his first album, forged into my being? For some reason, I never considered the possibility of a follow-up. Songs of Leonard Cohen was so personal, so monolithic, I assumed it to be a singular event.

“It took a friend planting me on a couch, cranking up the speakers and demanding I listen. Before ‘Bird On the Wire’ was over, tears flowed. It was so damn beautiful — a hymn, a confession, a deep bow of humility striking a nearly unbearable nerve. Leonard seemed a bit older, wearier, less embellished, but once again that trickster sunk right into my soul.”

“Leonard wrote songs because he had to, and because he wanted to get laid,” observed author, record producer and deejay Andrew Loog Oldham in a 2014 interview we conducted. “Later he wrote songs because he wanted to get paid. That’s when I decided he had something to say.”

I was on the UCLA campus in Westwood, California when Cohen debuted in 1970 at Royce Hall. Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas was one of Leonard’s singers that evening. Mama Cass Elliot had already covered “You Know Who I Am” from Cohen’s Songs From A Room on her 1968 album Dream a Little Dream.        Continue reading

The 2019 Janis Joplin Legacy; 50TH Anniversary of Big Brother & The Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills

Celebrated With New Collection of Recordings

By Harvey Kubernik © 2019    

Columbia/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment on November 30, 2018 celebrated the 50th anniversary of Big Brother & The Holding Company’s major label debut with the premiere edition of Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills.  

Courtesy of Sony Music

 

Released at last under its original title (nixed by the record label as too controversial a half century ago), Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills restores the band’s vision and intent in an essential new collection of 30 rare performances including 29 studio outtakes (25 previously unreleased) from the mythic 1968 sessions that generated Big Brother & The Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills, the breakout album that introduced Janis Lyn Joplin to the world. 

Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills includes liner notes penned especially for this commemorative product by Jefferson Airplane’ vocalist/songwriter Grace Slick and Big Brother & The Holding Company drummer David Getz. 

“Then I heard that voice,” writes Slick.  “Good Lord–spontaneous explosions of every emotion–no holds barred…. Janis had no trouble sliding from the apron clad fifties into the no bra sixties.  We all took every advantage of the new freedoms, and it was reflected in the music…. This album, because of its worldwide success, made it possible for everybody to hear the phenomenon that was previously limited to the San Francisco Bay Area. Now, a new generation gets the ‘Cheap Thrillsexperience to enjoy.” Continue reading

It WAS 50 YEARS AGO TODAY THAT JOHNNY CASH TAUGHT THE WORLD HOW TO SLAY

Johnny Cash Live At San Quentin Album

Johnny Cash “A Boy Named Sue”
The Johnny Cash Show Television Series
New Book The Man Who Carried Cash:  Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash and the Making of an American Icon

By Harvey Kubernik ©  2018

“A Boy Named Sue,” written by humorist, poet, and singer/songwriter Shel Silverstein became a popular hit record during 1969 by Johnny

Courtesy of Sony Music

Cash.

On February 24, 1969, two days before he turned 37, Cash recorded the song live in concert at California’s San Quentin State Prison for his Johnny Cash At San Quentin album produced by Bob Johnston, issued on Columbia Records June 26, 1969.

Born Sheldon Allan “Shel” Silverstein in Chicago in 1930, Silverstein was known for his cartoons, songs, children’s books and contributions to Playboy magazine.  

During 1969 Silverstein’s own recording of “Boy Named Sue,” a 45 RPM on the LP Boy Named Sue (And His other Country Songs),was produced by Chet Atkins and Felton Jarvis.     

It has been said that Silverstein’s inspiration for the song’s title came from a man named Sue K. Hicks, who was a judge in the state of Tennessee. Silverstein heard Hicks speak at an event, and was intrigued by the name of Sue for a man. Apparently it was the father of Sue Hicks who   named the boy after his mother, Susanna Hicks, who died during hospital birth. Continue reading

THE MOODY BLUES IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD (50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION)

Commemorative Releases Available In 3CD/2DVD Box Set, Deluxe and Standard Digital Collections, CD, and Vinyl LP Packages

By Harvey Kubernik c 2018

On November 2, Polydor/Republic/UMe released the 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of The Moody Blues’ classic third album, In Search of

Courtesy of UMe

the Lost Chord.

The deluxe format is a 3CD/2DVD box set, featuring the album’s remastered original stereo mix and new stereo mix, plus rare and unreleased tracks, including a never-before-heard mono version of Legend of a Mind. There are BBC Radio One John Peel Top Gear and Afternoon Pop Show sessions, as well as mono mixes of the related Deram single A and B sides.

DVD1 (Audio) contains In Search of the Lost Chord 96kHz/24-bit 5.1 surround mix, new stereo mix, and original stereo mix.

DVD2 (Video) comprises BBC TV Colour Me Pop: In Search of the Lost Chord (14th September 1968); Ce Soir On Danse: The Moody Blues – ORTF French TV (13th July 1968, previously unreleased) and Carte d’Or – ORTF French TV (29th October 1968, previously unreleased).

A 76-page book is also included, with extensive sleeve notes by compiler Mark Powell, plus a host of rare photos and memorabilia images. Continue reading

Neil Young Songs For Judy Released

By Harvey Kubernik © 2018   

Neil Young has just issued Songs For Judy on CD and digitally on November 30. A vinyl edition is out December 14.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros./Shakey Pictures Records

Songs For Judy is the debut release on Shakey Pictures Records, Young’s own imprint distributed by Reprise Records. Songs for Judy is available in hi-res at NYA, Neil Young Archives.com.

Songs For Judy houses live acoustic performances culled from Neil’s November 1976 solo tour and features twenty-two songs recorded at various cities along the tour.  Writer and Cameron Crowe and photographer Joel Bernstein curated this collection.

This song cycle of live recordings is particularly unique. Young had spent much of the year traveling around the world on tour with Crazy Horse.

When touring on his own, he recharged and focused on songs that would not surface in recorded form for several years. Of the albums many treasures, “No One Seems To Know” would not see the light of day until now and it remains unreleased in any other iteration.

The raw versions of the tracks found on Songs For Judy find Young allowing the songs to breath and to find their own shape when performed in a solo performance. Continue reading