R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax
22 SEP 14 CONCORD MUSIC GROUP
Today we are celebrating one of the greatest musicians to ever live, Ray Charles. The Genius would have been 84 today.
"Ray Charles was one of those rare artists who, throughout his incredible career, had far-reaching impact that forever changed the conventions of popular music as well as the music business," said Concord Music Group Chief Creative Officer John Burk. This resounding statement and similar sentiments have echoed throughout the music industry for decades, as countless individuals have expressed Charles' indelible contributions and influence.
Guest stars who appeared on Ray Charles' tremendously successful duet album, Genius Loves Company, shared their feelings back in 2004: Norah Jones, who teamed with Charles on “Here We Go Again” stated, "He was as big an influence on me as you can get. I couldn’t believe that I got to sing with him. It was such an honor.” Elton John, who performed with Charles on the emotionally stirring "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," offered, "He had an enormous effect on my career. Anything he put out, I bought. He has one of the greatest voices of all time."
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the legend’s final milestone recording, Concord/Hear Music will release deluxe reissues of Genius Loves Company in a variety of formats beginning September 30th, 2014. One of Charles’ most inspirational and historically significant albums, Genius Loves Company captures the genius of the music icon in his last studio recording pairing him with legendary guest artists including Norah Jones, Diana Krall, James Taylor, Elton John, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt, to name a few. The album went on to receive an astounding 8 GRAMMY® Awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
09 SEP 14 CONCORD MUSIC GROUP
Stax Records/Concord Music Group is proud to announce the release of Take Me To the River: Music from the Motion Picture. The companion album to Martin Shore’s award-winning soulful documentary Take Me to the River features 13 tracks from the film's all-star ensemble cast including William Bell, Snoop Dogg, Mavis Staples, Otis Clay, Lil P-Nut, Charlie Musselwhite, Bobby 'Blue' Bland, Yo Gotti, Bobby Rush, Academy Award®-winner Frayser Boy and The North Mississippi All-Stars.
The Take Me to the River documentary, executive produced by John Beug, Snoop Dogg, Ted Chung, and Terrence Howard, brings multiple generations of award-winning Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians together, following them through the creative process of recording a historic new album to re-imagine the interracial, intergender and intergenerational collaboration of Memphis in its heyday. For more information, please visit: www.TMTTR.com.
09 SEP 14 CONCORD MUSIC GROUP
Upon its release in 2004, few could have predicted the extraordinary, game-changing effect that Ray Charles’ final recording would have on both his career and the industry as a whole. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the legend’s milestone recording, Concord/Hear Music will release deluxe reissues in a variety of formats beginning September 30th, 2014.
One of Charles’ most inspirational and historically significant albums, Genius Loves Company captures the genius of the music icon in his last studio recording pairing him with legendary guest artists including Norah Jones, Diana Krall, James Taylor, Elton John, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt to name a few. The album went on to receive an astounding 8 GRAMMY® Awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year. To help launch a then-groundbreaking consumer marketing campaign, Genius Loves Company was tapped as the first original release through the Starbucks Hear Music imprint in conjunction with Concord Music Group. Since its release on August 31st, 2004, Genius Loves Company has been certified multi-platinum with worldwide sales in excess of 5 million copies.
The 10th anniversary deluxe reissues celebration encompasses a three-phase rollout that begins September 30th, 2014. First is the 2-disc Genius Loves Company Deluxe Edition, which features the full-length album, bonus tracks and special packaging along with a brand new, 1-hour behind-the-scenes documentary on DVD. The 3-Disc (1CD-2DVD) Limited Collectors Edition, available November 11th, 2014, features the Deluxe Edition components plus the Academy Award®-winning original motion picture Ray on DVD. On December 9th, 2014, audiophiles will be treated to a special 2LP, 45RPM, 180-gram Vinyl Edition. The package likewise contains a high definition digital download card with two bonus tracks.
The behind-the-scenes Making of Genius Loves Company documentary reveals the inside story of this landmark musical event, including the historical relationship between Starbucks/Hear Music and Concord Records. The DVD features interviews with Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer, Howard Schultz, producer John Burk, Ray Charles Foundation president Valerie Ervin, new interviews and insights from some of the album’s stellar guest artists and unreleased video from the legendary recording sessions. The Limited Collectors Edition builds on the story with the addition of the original motion picture Ray starring Jamie Foxx in his Academy Award®-winning Best Actor performance.
Norah Jones, who teamed with Charles on “Here We Go Again” shares that she was both excited and nervous about singing with one of her biggest idols. “I didn’t want to ruin it with me, [but] I had to do it,” she says in the Making Of documentary. “I would never forgive myself if I didn’t.” Elton John notes that he “got a lump in [his] throat and people in the control room were crying” when he and Charles laid down vocals for “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.”
Produced by John Burk, Concord Music Group’s chief creative officer, and co-produced by the legendary Phil Ramone, Genius Loves Company garnered critical acclaim upon its release. NPR All Things Considered hailed, “It’s got flashes of fire you wouldn’t expect from such a setting, gems of phrasing that remind you how Ray Charles transformed the wreckage of heartbreak into poignant sound,” and Rolling Stone added, “the tone is reverential and warm, as the Genius sings…”
“Ray was shocked that these people wanted to sing with him,” recalls Ray Charles Foundation president Valerie Ervin. “He just didn’t understand the magnitude of where he was in the industry. As weak as he became…he made sure he gave his best for every artist that was there for him.”
“Ray Charles was one of those rare artists who, throughout his incredible career, had far-reaching impact that forever changed the conventions of popular music as well as the music business,” said Concord Music Group chief creative officer John Burk. “Looking back at the last 10 years, it’s clear that this album was certainly no exception. We are humbled, honored and blessed to have had the opportunity to work with such a musical giant, and we are eternally grateful to Ray for elevating both Concord Records and Hear Music to new heights, far beyond our wildest dreams ten years ago.”
29 JUL 14 CONCORD MUSIC GROUP
Stax Records will reissue two seminal albums by one of the most influential bands of the 20th century: #1 Record and Radio City by Big Star. Both releases, which have been out of print as individual CDs in the U.S. for many years, will be remastered from the original analog tape sources, and are due out September 2, 2014.
#1 Record and Radio City will be available digitally in standard, Mastered-for-iTunes and 24-bit high-resolution audio. LPs of the two albums are presently in print, available via Stax Records. Liner notes by R.E.M.’s Mike Mills (a vocal fan of Big Star, as well as a core musician on the “Big Star’s Third” concert series) will accompany the releases.
Big Star, considered to be among the founders of power pop, has been cited as an influence by many of the major alternative bands of the ’80s and ’90s, and continues to be a powerful presence in today’s musical landscape. Artists such as R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, The Replacements (who famously penned the song “Alex Chilton”) and Wilco all enthusiastically tout the artistic impact of the group. Mike Mills recalls Big Star as “a band who had gotten it right, who made records that sounded like rock and roll bands should sound. A band who wrote all the songs, from flat-out rockers to achingly beautiful ballads that were still somehow rock songs.”
The Memphis band formed in 1971, with a lineup of singer/songwriters Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel. Heavily inspired by the British Invasion, Chilton and Bell drew on the Lennon/McCartney style of collaborative songwriting to create their debut — Chilton taking a visceral approach, often laying down guitar and vocal tracks in one take, while Bell added polish with overdubs and harmonies. Ardent Records founder John Fry engineered the album in his studio and released #1 Record on his Stax-distributed label in 1972 to sweeping critical success.
In the fall of 1973, following the departure of Chris Bell, the band regrouped and began work on album number two with Alex Chilton at the helm and Fry once again behind the console. Losing the creative input of a major talent such as Bell could have wreaked havoc on the band’s progress, however, Chilton was able to use this opportunity to shine, and prove himself to be an incredible songwriter on his own. Journalists and fans agreed: bearing another tongue-in-cheek title, Radio City garnered rave reviews and produced several cult favorites, including “September Gurls,” which has been covered by everyone from The Bangles to Superdrag.
The legacies of #1 Record and Radio City have far exceeded the original commercial letdowns of both albums, which are now considered to be milestones in the history of rock by critics and musicians alike. The two LPs made it onto Rolling Stone’s 500 “Greatest Albums of All Time” lists, while tracks from each album (“Thirteen” and “September Gurls”) are also among the magazine’s 500 “Greatest Songs of All Time.” Numerous artists (Elliott Smith, Beck and Jeff Buckley to name a few) have recorded covers of the band’s songs. Big Star has been honored with a tribute record (Big Star Small World, 2006), a documentary (2012’s Nothing Can Hurt Me) and a touring live show, “Big Star’s Third,” which features the sole-surviving original member of the band, Jody Stephens, on drums, guest vocalists, a chamber orchestra and a core band including Mike Mills, Chris Stamey of The dB’s, The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and others. The ever-changing ensemble performs Big Star’s album Third/Sister Lovers, as well as favorites from the first two records.
Of the reissues, Stephens says, “Very glad to see these two coming out with the sonic approval of John Fry. Grateful for Chris, Andy and Alex and for Jon and Ken. The music’s journey continues.” Fry adds, “All I can say is that these were the best projects I have ever worked, with the best artists and friends I have ever had the pleasure to know. I love the music and the cast of characters: Chris, Alex Andy and Jody. I think fans will be pleased by the sound and the packaging. They may have to turn the volume up a bit, since we did not want to remove the analog dynamic range. Sit back and enjoy the definitive digital versions of #1 Record and Radio City, two of my three favorite albums.”
The band’s enduring legacy can be attributed to many factors, but perhaps Mike Mills summarizes it best: “Songwriting has always been, for me, the most vital gauge of a band’s quality, and these guys were clearly masters … [Big Star] gave you something satisfying to listen to, no matter how many times you heard them.”
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