Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sights and Sounds: Chris Isaak, R.E.M., Jack's Mannequin, Joe Cocker, Chicago

Lots of news to share regarding upcoming releases, including several scheduled to arrive in October...

Chris Isaak's 'Beyond The Sun' - The Record He's Always Wanted To Make - Available October 18, 2011

After more than a quarter century into his career, Grammy nominated Chris Isaak has finally created the album he’s always wanted to make. Beyond the Sun, Isaak’s first Vanguard Records release out Oct. 18th —is truly a labor of love. As a child spinning his parents 45s in their Stockton, California home, this deeply committed artist has been obsessed with the glory days of Memphis’ Sun Studio and the visionary artists who got their starts there—including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis—all of them discovered and nurtured by the late, great Sun Records founder Sam Phillips.

Now, at long last, Isaak has acted on this lifelong obsession, magically recapturing the transformative hepcat brilliance of the classic sides cut by these greats at Sun with Phillips during the mid-’50s and ‘60s, while also getting down to the heart and soul of his own deeply rooted musical identity. “I did this because I love this music—that’s the entire reason,” Isaak explains. "These guys discovered this music for us and we had to rediscover it. There’s no way to do it exactly like they did it, so you’ve gotta give a little bit of your own take on it.”

Mostly recorded at Memphis’ Sun Studio with his longtime band, Chris and his bandmates hit the bulls-eye on these tunes. This handpicked collection includes “Trying To Get To You,” “It’s Now or Never,” “So Long I’m Gone,” “Ring of Fire,” “Dixie Fried,” "Pretty Woman,” and a blistering rendition of “Miss Pearl” by the nearly forgotten Sun artist Jimmy Wages. Both before and during the sessions, Chris penned some original tunes in the spirit of these sacred texts – “Live It Up” and on the second disc “Lovely Loretta.”

Beyond the Sun will be available in both the 14-song standard set as well as a deluxe package that includes the bonus disc with additional 11 tracks. A 2 LP vinyl edition of the deluxe package will be available in November.

Exclusive pre-order packages are available now at

R.E.M. Caps Its 31-Year Recording Career With Its First-Ever Definitive Greatest Hits Album, Due From Warner Bros. Records on November 15, 2011

After R.E.M. ignited the blogosphere on September 21st with the news that they had decided to "call it a day as a band" via a statement on their website, the beloved band have announced that they will release their final album, R.E.M., Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982 - 2011, on Warner Bros. Records on November 15, 2011. The album is a 40-song career-spanning retrospective that collects, for the first time ever, songs from R.E.M.'s entire back catalog, including the pioneering American band's years on both the IRS label (1982 to 1987) and Warner Bros. Records (1988 to 2011). The album is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. A brand-new song, "We All Go Back To Where We Belong," goes to radio and will be available for sale on October 18, 2011.

R.E.M. formed in 1980 when singer Michael Stipe met guitarist Peter Buck in an Athens, GA, record store where Buck worked. After recruiting bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry, R.E.M. released its first single, "Radio Free Europe," in 1981, followed by 1982's Chronic Town EP, capturing the imagination of a new generation of music lovers and bringing "guitar pop back into the underground lexicon," as All-Music put it. Widely credited with inventing the college-rock genre, R.E.M. became the most influential American alternative rock band in history -- inspiring such artists as Sonic Youth, Pavement, Nirvana, and Radiohead -- for achieving multi-platinum mainstream success while maintaining their distinct identity.

Over the course of its career, the band has released 15 studio albums: Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985), Life's Rich Pageant (1986), Document (1987), Green (1988), Out of Time (1991), Automatic For The People (1992), Monster (1994), New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996), Up (1998), Reveal (2001), Around the Sun (2004), Accelerate (2008), and Collapse Into Now (2011). They have sold more than 85 million albums worldwide.

"Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey," says Mike Mills of choosing the songs that appear on R.E.M., Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982 - 2011. "We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together."

In addition to liner notes written by band members Berry, Buck, Mills, and Stipe, the album also features three new songs that R.E.M. finished after they completed their last album, Collapse Into Now: "A Month of Saturdays," "We All Go Back To Where We Belong," and "Hallelujah," which were recorded over the summer in Athens with Accelerate and Collapse Into Now producer, the estimable Jacknife Lee. The band came roaring back with those two albums in the last two years, achieving some of the best reviews of their career and enabling them to go out at the top of their game.

The track-listing for R.E.M., Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982 - 2011 is as follows:

Disc 1:
Gardening At Night
Radio Free Europe
Talk About The Passion
Sitting Still
So. Central Rain
(Don't Go Back To) Rockville
Driver 8
Life And How To Live It
Begin The Begin
Fall On Me
Finest Worksong
It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
The One I Love
Pop Song 89
Get Up
Orange Crush
Losing My Religion
Country Feedback
Shiny Happy People

Disc 2:
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
Everybody Hurts
Man On The Moon
What's The Frequency, Kenneth?
New Test Leper
At My Most Beautiful
The Great Beyond
Imitation Of Life
Bad Day
Leaving New York
Living Well Is The Best Revenge
Supernatural Superserious
Oh My Heart
A Month of Saturdays
We All Go Back To Where We Belong

Jack's Mannequin to release 'People and Things' on Oct. 4, 2011

Jack's Mannequin will release the band's People and Things on Oct. 4, and will celebrate release week by hosting several unique events. On Monday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m., Jack's Mannequin will host a film screening at the Angelika Theatre in New York City to present short films for each of the songs on People and Things. The 11 short films were commissioned to provide an artistic visual counterpart to the album and were each directed by a different independent director.

The screening event will be followed by a stripped-down performance by frontman Andrew McMahon. Tickets for the screening sold out in record time, but the short films will also be premiering on YouTube at the same time as the theater event. The film for the track "Television" (which recently premiered on Entertainment Weekly) is up on YouTube now.

For more information on all things Jack's Mannequin, including the band's upcoming tour dates, visit:

Rock legend Joe Cocker preps new album 'Hard Knocks' for release by 429 Records on Nov. 22, 2011

Joe Cocker is without a doubt, a true musical legend. With 40 years and counting as a major player in the music business, the singer with that unmistakable bluesy soul voice has earned countless accolades for his artistry - Grammys, Golden Globes, Academy Awards and platinum selling albums worldwide. The iconic singer is now signed to 429 Records in North America and is gearing up for the release of “HARD KNOCKS”—his 21st album. “HARD KNOCKS” is a collection of 9 all new songs plus a cover version of the Dixie Chicks’ “I Hope.” Produced by Matt Serletic (Matchbox 20, Carlos Santana), “HARD KNOCKS” has the timeless “Cocker” sound fusing soul, pop and rhytm and blues into an undeniably infectious mix of a singularly unique contemporary style. “HARD KNOCKS” will be available on 429 Records on November 22nd.

The recording sessions took place in Serletic’s own Emblem studios in Los Angeles involving a host of acclaimed musicians like Ray Parker Jr., Tim Pierce and Joel Shearer on guitar, Josh Freese, Matt Chamberlain and Dorian Crozier on drums, Chris Chaney on bass and Jamie Muhoberac on keyboards. The songs were mixed by Chris Lord-Alge and mastered by Bob Ludwig. Songwriters Kara Dioguardi of recent American Idol fame and Marc Broussard have contributed songs to the collection.

Says Cocker, “I don’t really know what you would call this album: ‘rock/pop’? It’s a little more pop than I’ve been into for quite a while so it would scare me sometimes. I would do the basic tracks and then Matt would go away and do some of these overdubs and he had all these electronic things on there. It was sometimes like ‘Oh, my god!’. But I wanted to work with Matt very much. And I always knew what kind of record we would be making.”

Track listing:

1) Hard Knocks
2) Get On
3) Unforgiven
4) The Fall
5) So It Goes
6) Runaway Train
7) Stay The Same
8) Thankful
9) So
10) I Hope

For more information, visit:

Chicago Releases Very Special Christmas Record, 'O Christmas Three,' On October 4

Features Dolly Parton, America, Steve Cropper, and BeBe Winans

Chicago, the legendary "rock and roll band with horns" who Billboard has called the top American rock group of all time, will release a brand new Christmas record on October 4, 'O Christmas Three,' their 33rd record and third album of holiday music. The album features special guests Dolly Parton, America, Steve Cropper, and BeBe Winans, and was produced by veteran producer Phil Ramone, one of the most respected and prolific music producers in the recording industry (Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Elton John, Paul McCartney).

'O Christmas Three' features original Chicago members Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow and Walt Parazaider. The band is joined by Dolly Parton on Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time," America on "I Saw Three Ships," BeBe Winans on "Merry Christmas Darling," and celebrated guitarist Steve Cropper on "Rockin' And Rollin' On Christmas Day," a new song co-written by Loughnane.

"I think this Christmas album will be enjoyed by young and old alike," Loughnane said. "It was an exciting project to put together. I hope that our fans and other people who just happen to hear the album will feel that energy," Lamm added.

Clear Channel's top-rated New York City radio station, WLTW-FM, will host a special listening party for the new record on November 28th at NYC's BB Kings Blues Club, where Chicago will perform highlights from 'O Christmas Three.' It will also serve as a benefit for Musicians On Call, which brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities.

With constant touring - they've never missed a year - and sell-out shows all over the world, Chicago's musical proficiency is at a zenith. "I think the band is playing better than we ever have before," Loughnane said. Regarding the famous horn section, Parazaider added: "There is a magic. I liken it to a spiritual wire. Lee's here, Jimmy's here, I'm here, and that spiritual wire just passes through all three of us."

'O Christmas Three' will be available on the band's web site site, iTunes, and A music video of one of the songs will soon be up on the band's official website.

O Christmas Three track listing:
1) Wonderful Christmas Time (featuring Dolly Parton)
2) Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
3) I Saw Three Ships (featuring America)
4) Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
5) What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
6) It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
7) I'll Be Home For Christmas
8) On The Last Night Of The Year
9) Merry Christmas Darling (featuring Bebe Winans)
10) Rockin' And Rollin' On Christmas Day (featuring Steve Cropper)
11) My Favorite Things
12) O Christmas Tree
13) Jingle Bells
14) Here Comes Santa Claus/Joy To The World

Chicago is the first American rock band to chart Top 40 albums in five different decades. In Billboard Magazine's list of Top 100 artists of all time, Chicago came in at #13, the highest charting American band. Lifetime achievements include a Grammy Award, multiple American Music Awards, record sales of more than 100 million an incredible 25 of their 32 albums have been certified platinum, and the band has a total of 47 gold and platinum awards.

Other Chicago news:

For the last two years, the band has joined forces with the American Cancer Society to create "Sing With Chicago," a highly successful promotion that has raised tens of thousands of dollars to fight breast cancer, in which winning bidders sing the hit song "If You Leave Me Now" with the band at every concert. The proceeds from this year's "Sing With Chicago" promotion will be raised in the name of Paqui Kelly, the wife of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, who is battling breast cancer.

As Jimmy Pankow says, "ideas are always going." Known for their original and innovative music style, Chicago released an exciting Latin music project of 12 of their greatest hits called 'Chicago ¡Exitos!' earlier this year. They hired New York producer and arranger John Van Eps, who gathered the best Latin arrangers, musicians and singers that he could find and created amazing Latin style versions of Chicago's hits, Some of the Latin music styles featured on the record are Latin Pop, Bomba, Afro, Songo, Cha Cha, Mozambique, Joropo, Mambo, Merengue and Dancon.


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