It took quite a while for a definitive Barry White compilation to hit the market, but All-Time Greatest Hits – part of Mercury's Funk Essentials series – finally filled the bill in 1995. Boasting a full 20 tracks from White's heyday of 1973-1978, more than half of which made the R&B Top Ten, All-Time Greatest Hits is easily the most generous single-disc White collection on the market. It includes the edited single versions, not the full-length album tracks, which actually makes for a more digestible introduction to White's achievements. Like his forebear Isaac Hayes, White was not just a deep-voiced crooner, but a talented producer and arranger who'd spent years honing his craft behind the scenes in the industry. And like Hayes, White spent a great deal of time setting up moods on his albums, using lush, sweeping orchestrations to build very gradually to climaxes. (Actually, that probably explains a good deal of his effectiveness.) But White was not simply a Hayes disciple; his swirling productions were less complex than Hayes', but more in tune with the emerging disco sound, which certainly boosted his popularity.
Thanks to the dedicated effort of the folks at Real Gone, this often bootlegged date by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band gets its first official release. These 13 tracks come from a smoking date at the Unicorn Coffee House in Boston. Nobody's sure of the exact date, but estimates put it somewhere during a two-week run in May, two months before the band's classic East-West was released. There's over an hour of music on what amounts to the first recorded document from this sextet: hard-grooving Chicago drummer Billy Davenport (Sam Lay left after the band's debut album) joined vocalist/harmonicist Butterfield, guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, organist Mark Naftalin, and bassist Jerome Arnold.
Critically acclaimed by the international press for her innate musicianship, radiant voice, and a sovereign stage presence far beyond her years, Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman is in great demand as a concert artist and opera singer. So much to tell, on the CBC Records label, is Ms. Brueggergosman’s debut CD, accompaniment by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra conducted by the legendary Roy Goodman. The title of the CD, So much to tell, comes from the text of Dickinson’s "Dear March, come in!" Just as Copland felt a connection to the poetry of Dickinson, so too did Samuel Barber have an affinity for the texts of James Agee, and far from simply writing "popular songs", George Gershwin’s works contain a rich melodic and harmonic language.
The Chicago Transit Authority recorded this double-barreled follow-up to their eponymously titled 1969 debut effort. The contents of Chicago II (1970) underscore the solid foundation of complex jazz changes with heavy electric rock & roll that the band so brazenly forged on the first set. The septet also continued its ability to blend the seemingly divergent musical styles into some of the best and most effective pop music of the era. One thing that had changed was the band's name, which was shortened to simply Chicago to avoid any potential litigious situations from the city of Chicago's transportation department – which claimed the name as proprietary property…