News in Review: John Lennon, Miles Davis, Marvin Isley
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2010, Volume 17, #8
Written by John Metzger
Wed August 11, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
Revisiting John Lennon’s Solo Canon
Will the battle for supremacy between Paul McCartney and John Lennon never end? Just a few weeks ago, Concord announced plans to reissue McCartney’s catalogue of albums, beginning with his blockbuster set Band on the Run, which is slated for release in August. EMI, which previously controlled the rights to McCartney’s solo endeavors, is striking back by reintroducing Lennon’s post-Beatles efforts to the world. Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, Some Time in New York City, Mind Games, Walls and Bridges, Rock ’n‘ Roll, Double Fantasy, and Milk and Honey will be remastered from the original mixes and made available beginning on October 9, the day on which Lennon would have turned 70. Aside from Double Fantasy, which will include a second disc that features a stripped-down version of the Grammy-winning album, none of the new collections will feature bonus material.
In addition, EMI is also preparing to issue several new compilations of Lennon’s work: Power to the People: The Hits will be available as a single, 15-track disc as well as a two-CD set. Gimme Some Truth is a four-disc boxed set that groups Lennon’s compositions by theme (roots and influences, socio-political, love, and life). Finally, The John Lennon Signature Box is an expansive, 11-CD collection that includes the eight remastered efforts and an EP of non-album singles as well as a newly pressed endeavor that contains rare and previously unreleased recordings.
Celebrating 40 Years of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew
Miles Davis was ridiculously prolific, which allowed his output to be sliced, diced, and compiled in countless ways over the years. No matter how it is presented, however, it is clear that his genius remains unparalleled. In August 1969, Davis retreated to Columbia Studios in New York City to begin work on a new album with an astounding line-up of musicians: Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Harvey Brooks, Bennie Maupin, Lenny White, Jack DeJohnette, Don Alias, and Jumma Santos. The three-day series of recording sessions ultimately produced his boundary-smashing classic Bitches Brew, which was issued the following April. It became the first album of Davis’ career to become certified gold.
In 1998, Sony/Legacy had compiled all of the studio tracks that Davis had made between August 1969 and February 1970 within the four-disc boxed set The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions. On August 31, Sony/Legacy will revisit this era of his work with two new editions of the original endeavor. To create Bitches Brew: Legacy Edition, a remastered rendition of the original album will be paired with six bonus tracks as well as a DVD of Davis’ quintet (featuring Shorter, Corea, Holland, and DeJohnette) performing in Copenhagen in November 1969. Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition will also include a CD of a performance by Davis’ quintet (featuring Jarrett, Corea, Holland, and DeJohnette with Airto Moreira and Gary Bartz) at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts in August 1970 as well as a 180-gram vinyl version of the album, a 48-page book, and other assorted memorabilia.
Further commemoration likely is unnecessary. Nevertheless, to coincide with the release of Bitches Brew: Legacy Edition and Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is planning to unveil Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, a dark beer that promises an abundance of flavor.
Marvin Isley Checks Out
Bass player Marvin Isley, best known for his work with The Isley Brothers, passed away on June 6 in Chicago at the age of 56. He had been suffering from diabetes, and complications from the disease took his life. Isley was the youngest member of the band, which he had joined during its second phase. Isley had entered the music business in the late 1960s when he formed a trio with his brother Ernie and his brother-in-law Chris Jasper. In 1973, his outfit joined with the original version of The Isley Brothers to record the album 3+3. Over the course of the next 11 years, his heavy, driving bass lines powered hit songs such as That Lady (Part 1 & 2), Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love), and Fight the Power (Part 1 & 2). In 1984, Marvin and Ernie Isley along with Jasper left The Isley Brothers, and quickly topped the R&B charts with Caravan of Love.
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