Friday, September 6, 2013

New Sony/Legacy releases include Christmas albums, more

I look forward to hearing some of these, especially the holiday ones...

Legacy Recordings’ Essential series is a vast catalog of career-spanning, chronologically sequenced, fully annotated collections available as double-CD packages or digital downloads.

It has has just released six new entries, available now:

The Essential Sarah McLachlan serves as a 25th anniversary commemoration of the singer-songwriter’s career, which evolves over the course of this 36-song double-CD. Starting in 1988, her career initially built with her first three albums, culminating with Fumbling Towards Ecstasy in 1993.

After the success of “I Will Remember You” from The Brothers McMullen movie soundtrack, she emerged as a global star in 1997, founding Lilith Fair, and releasing multi-platinum Surfacing (with Grammy-winning hit, “Building a Mystery,” “Sweet Surrender,” “Adia,” and “Angel”). Another multi-platinum effort, Afterglow, came in 2003 (“Fallen,” “Stupid,” “World On Fire”) and then, Afterglow Live in 2004 (“Push,” “Witness”).

Three of the single releases from 2010 album Laws Of Illusion (“Loving You Is Easy,” “Forgiveness,” “Illusions Of Bliss”) bring to a close this collection, which was produced by Darren Salmieri, and executive produced by Sarah. Brooklyn-based writer and arts critic Amy Linden contributes an essay to the package.

The Essential Nas marks the first major double-CD collection released in the U.S. that covers the full solo recording career of the hip-hop MC. The 30 tracks here focus on Nas' decade at Columbia, from his Illmatic debut in 1994 (with “The World Is Yours” and “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”), up through his final album for the label, the double-CD of 2004, Street’s Disciple. Two tracks represent Nas’ subsequent decade at Def Jam, both drawn from his most recent studio album, last year’s Life Is Good (“Nasty” and “Loco-Motive” featuring Large Professor). The compilation was produced by Noah Uman and contains a biographical liner notes essay by Gabriel Alvarez, co-author of ego trip's The Big Book of Racism! 

The Essential Santana covers nearly 40 years of recording. Carlos Santana personally compiled this 28-song double-CD. It contains their litany of hits from 1969 to the early ’90s: “Jingo,” “Everybody’s Everything,” “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen,” “Oye Como Va,” “No One To Depend On,” “She’s Not There,” and more.

Then there's material off the 15-times platinum Supernatural album that generated nine Grammys - “Smooth” (featuring Rob Thomas), “Maria Maria,” “The Calling” featuring Eric Clapton, and more. The story is told by Albany-based music journalist/jazz drummer Hal Miller, who has annotated numerous Santana reissues for Legacy, and now collaborating with Carlos and author Ashley Khan on the Santana autobiography.

The Essential Britney Spears runs from her #1 U.S. debut single of 1998, “...Baby One More Time” through to her late-2012 collaboration with, “Scream & Shout.” The 32-song compilation is Britney’s first double-CD package in the U.S., and virtually catalogs her entire singles’ career; chronologically presenting 31 of her 35 Billboard chart entries. This compilation was produced by Jeffrey James and Darren Salmieri. Detroit-based music journalist, author and radio personality Gary Graff tells the story.

The Essential Bill Withers
two CD package was compiled and produced by Leo Sacks and Marcia Withers (Bill’s wife and manager), who dig deep into his catalog, beyond the timeless quartet of ’71-’72 hits that established his career: “Ain't No Sunshine,” “Lean On Me,” “Grandma's Hands,” and “Use Me.”

The collection moves into personal (and fan) favorites and rare singles, as well as album tracks covering all of Bill’s eight studio albums, from 1971’s Just As I Am debut to 1985’s Watching You Watching Me. And a trio of off-label ’80s collaborations put Bill with the Jazz Crusaders (“Soul Shadows”), Grover Washington, Jr. (“Just The Two Of Us”), and Ralph MacDonald (“In The Name Of Love”). The package features a biographical essay by Los Angeles-based arts and culture journalist Lynell George.

The Essential Tammy Wynette arrives 15 years after Tammy’s death in 1998 at age 55; and 45 years since “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “Stand By Your Man” were back-to-back #1 hits in 1968. 

Tammy made a #1 country hit with her third single, “My Elusive Dreams," the first of 20 #1 country hits for Tammy and producer Billy Sherrill, 18 of which are included on this set. Tammy had at least one #1 country hit (sometimes two or three) every year from 1967 to ’73; in 1976 (the year after her divorce from George Jones), she had four consecutive #1 country hits, and she stayed a Top 20 presence well into the 1980s. Along the way, she had world­wide sales of more than 30 million albums. Compilation producer is Gregg Geller and liner notes essayist, Rich Kienzle.


Legacy Recordings’ Classic Christmas Album series rings in this year’s holiday season with new holiday collections available Oct. 8.

Each new collection gathers a dozen or more remastered tracks that span the career of each artist, all of whom recorded multiple holiday albums through the years (some on multiple record labels), as well as occasional Christmas tunes on other albums such as soundtracks or benefit albums.

The Classic Christmas Album by Neil Diamond, for example, draws its selections from his three holiday bestsellers: The Christmas Album (1992), The Christmas Album 2 (1994), and A Cherry Cherry Christmas (2009). The Classic Christmas Album by Alabama presents tracks from Alabama Christmas (1985), Christmas With The Judds And Alabama (1994), and Alabama Christmas Vol. II (1996). The Classic Christmas Album by Gladys Knight & the Pips gathers songs from Bless This House (1975, Buddah) and That Special Time Of Year (1980, Columbia).

With many of their holiday albums either out-of-print, or never issued on CD, or highly collectible rarities, each new title in the Classic Christmas Album series is a welcome cross-section of those hard-to-find classics. Each Classic Christmas Album gathers a career’s worth of precious memories, often spanning decades, while creating new memories at the same time.

The eight new Classic Christmas Album entries comprise the following:

The Classic Christmas Album by Alabama 

Selections: 1. Christmas In Dixie • 2. A Candle In The Window • 3. Christmas In Your Arms • 4. Tennessee Christmas • 5. When It Comes To Christmas • 6. The Night Before Christmas • 7. Hangin’ ’Round The Mistletoe • 8. New Year’s Eve 1999 • 9. The Blessings • 10. Angels Among Us • 11. I Was Young Once Too • 12. Tonight Is Christmas • 13. Joseph And Mary’s Boy • 14. O Little Town Of Bethlehem • 15. Little Drummer Boy • 16. Silent Night.

The Classic Christmas Album by Johnny Cash
Selections: 1. Christmas As I Knew It • 2. Christmas Time’s A-Comin’ • 3. That Christmasy Feeling • 4. Christmas With You • 5. Blue Christmas • 6. The Little Drummer Boy • 7. The Gifts They Gave • 8. King Of Love • 9. Merry Christmas Mary • 10. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day • 11. Joy To The World • 12. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear • 13. Ringing The Bells For Jim • 14. The Christmas Guest • 15. The Christmas Spirit • 16. Silent Night.

The Classic Christmas Album by Neil Diamond
Selections: 1. White Christmas • 2. Joy To The World • 3. O Come All Ye Faithful • 4. The First Noel • 5. Winter Wonderland • 6. You Make It Feel Like Christmas • 7. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) • 8. O Holy Night • 9. Silver Bells • 10. Sleigh Ride • 11. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas • 12. Silent Night.

The Classic Christmas Album by George Jones & Tammy Wynette 

Selections: 1. Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus • 2. A New Baby For Christmas • 3. Maybe Next Christmas • 4. Blue Christmas • 5. Lonely Christmas Call • 6. White Christmas • 7. Jingle Bells • 8. One Happy Christmas • 9. Silver Bells • 10. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear • 11. O Little Town Of Bethlehem • 12. Away In A Manger • 13. Joy To The World • 14. Silent Night, Holy Night • 15. (Merry Christmas) We Must Be Having One • 16. The Greatest Christmas Gift.

The Classic Christmas Album by Gladys Knight & The Pips

Selections: 1. Do You Hear What I Hear? • 2. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town • 3. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) • 4. This Christmas • 5. Jingle Bells • 6. The Night Before Christmas • 7. It’s The Happiest Time Of The Year • 8. Away In A Manger • 9. When A Child Is Born • 10. That Special Time Of Year • 11. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? • 12. Silent Night • 13. Bless This House • 14. The Lord’s Prayer.

The Classic Christmas Album by Martina McBride 

Selections: 1. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) • 2. Blue Christmas (duet with Elvis Presley) • 3. I’ll Be Home For Christmas • 4. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! • 5. Winter Wonderland • 6. Silver Bells • 7. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (duet with Dean Martin) • 8. Do You Hear What I Hear • 9. Away In A Manger • 10. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing • 11. What Child Is This • 12. O Come All Ye Faithful • 13. Silent Night • 14. O Holy Night • 15. White Christmas • 16. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

The Classic Christmas Album by Barbra Streisand

Selections: 1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas • 2. The Christmas Song (Chest­nuts Roasting On An Open Fire) • 3. I’ll Be Home For Christmas • 4. A Christmas Love Song • 5. The Best Gift • 6. It Must Have Been The Mistletoe • 7. I Remember • 8. I Wonder As I Wander • 9. Sleep In Heavenly Peace (Silent Night) • 10. Snowbound • 11. Jingle Bells • 12. My Favorite Things • 13. Christmas Lullaby • 14. O Little Town Of Bethlehem • 15. Christmas Mem’ries • 16. White Christmas.

The Classic Christmas Album by Andy Williams 

Selections: 1. Joy To The World • 2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! • 3. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) • 4. Winter Wonderland • 5. Silent Night • 6. O Little Town Of Bethlehem • 7. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas • 8. The Little Drummer Boy • 9. What Child Is This • 10. Silver Bells • 11. Kay Thompson’s Jingle Bells • 12. Angels We Have Heard On High • 13. My Favorite Things • 14. O Holy Night • 15. Ave Maria • 16. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.

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