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Entries in Universal Music (13)

Friday
Aug302013

The Band: Live at The Academy of Music 1971

CD and DVD collection: Live at The Academy of Music 1971 by The Band
Release date: 30 September 2013
Label: Capitol / Universal 

During the final week of 1971, The Band played four legendary concerts at New York City’s Academy Of Music, ushering in the New Year with electrifying performances, including new horn arrangements by Allen Toussaint and a surprise guest appearance by Bob Dylan for a New Year’s Eve encore. Select highlights from the concerts were compiled for The Band’s classic 1972 double LP, Rock Of Ages, which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and remains a core album in the trailblazing group’s storied Capitol Records catalog. For the first time, all four of the concerts’ multi-track recordings have been revisited for Live At The Academy Of Music 1971, a new 4CD+DVD collection to be released September 17 by Capitol/UMe. The expansive new collection features new stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes, including 19 previously unreleased performances and newly discovered footage of two songs filmed by Howard Alk and Murray Lerner. Live At The Academy Of Music 1971 takes a deep dive into The Band’s historic shows for a definitive document of the pioneering group’s stage prowess at the apex of their career. On the same date, the collection’s first two discs will also be released as a 2CD set.

Live At The Academy Of Music 1971 is presented in a deluxe, 48-page hardbound book with previously unseen photos, a reproduction of Rolling Stone’s original Rock Of Ages review by magazine co-founder Ralph J. Gleason, an essay by The Band’s Robbie Robertson, and appreciations of The Band and the set’s recordings by Mumford & Sons and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. The collection’s first two discs feature performances of every song played over the course of the four concerts, and the New Year’s Eve soundboard mix on discs 3 and 4 puts the listener in the room for that entire legendary night: Uncut, unedited, taken straight from the master recordings and presented in full for the first time. The set’s DVD presents the tracks from discs 1 and 2 in 5.1 Surround, plus Alk and Lerner’s filmed performances of King Harvest (Has Surely Come) and The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show.

Live At The Academy Of Music 1971 is produced by Robbie Robertson, with co-producers Michael Murphy and Matt D’Amico. The stereo mixes for the first two discs and the DVD’s 5.1 Surround mix were done by Bob Clearmountain, with the stereo mixes for discs 3 and 4 helmed by Sebastian Robertson and Jon Castelli, assisted by Ryan Nasci. The collection was mastered by Patricia Sullivan at Bernie Grundman Mastering. The concerts were originally recorded by Phil Ramone with Mark Harman.

By the late 1960s, The Band had become one of the most popular and influential rock groups in the world. Robertson, reflecting on the time and the decision to record the Academy Of Music concerts, recalls, “We were in a huddle of playing music, enjoying what we were doing, and I had a feeling, ‘We should capture this.’ To end 1971 with these shows felt, for all of us, like the right thing to do. This is a fulfillment of that extraordinary musical experience that I feel great about sharing.”

Of the set’s complete New Year’s Eve recording, Robertson says, “This is like being there.  It was the final night; there was a thrill in the air.  We were excited about New Year’s Eve, and then Dylan joined us for the encore. When he came out, we thought we could wing it, and wing it we did. We thought, ‘We’re not gonna fall off this wire.’  That whole night had a bit of magic to it.”

The Band’s members shared an extensive collaborative history. Between 1960 and 1962, the then-teenaged multi-instrumentalists Levon Helm (drums, vocals, mandolin), Robbie Robertson (guitar, piano, vocals), Rick Danko (bass, vocals, fiddle), Richard Manuel (keyboards, vocals, drums) and Garth Hudson (keyboards, horns) first performed and recorded together as members of the backing band for Ronnie Hawkins called the Hawks. In late 1963, the Hawks struck out on their own and became Levon & the Hawks, playing and recording under this name in 1964 and 1965.

In 1965, Robertson met with Bob Dylan in New York, just as Dylan was seeking an electric guitarist for his touring band. The Band was born, with all of the former Hawks backing Dylan on the road from October 1965 through 1966 as he incensed audiences in the U.S., Australia and Europe, performing electric sets. Disheartened by the vocally disdainful ‘folkie purist’ audience response to their first plugged-in performances with Dylan, Helm left The Band in November 1965.

After the 1966 tour concluded, The Band woodshedded for the next year in upstate New York, often in the company of Dylan, forging a highly original sound that in one way or another encompassed the panoply of American roots music: country, blues, R&B, gospel, soul, rockabilly, the honking tenor sax tradition, Anglican hymns, funeral dirges, brass band music, folk music, modern rock, fused and synthesized in ways that no one had ever before thought possible.  

Helm re-joined The Band in 1967, as the group prepared to record their first full-length album.  Released in 1968, Music From Big Pink received glowing reviews; a journalist for Life magazine wrote that The Band “dipped into the well of tradition and came up with a bucketful of clear, cool, country soul that washed the ears with a sound never heard before.”  While the album only reached No. 30 on Billboard’s chart when it was released, it has become recognized over time as one of the most important albums in the history of rock. 

Between 1968 and 1978, The Band released nine albums. In 1989, The Band was inducted into the Canadian Juno Hall of Fame; five years later they were accorded the same honor by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2008, The Band was honored with The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sadly, three members of The Band, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko and Levon Helm, have passed away, but The Band’s legacy lives on, in their recordings and in their tangible influence on popular music since they first hit the scene, wowing not only Bob Dylan, but many other major players of the day, including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Miles Davis. Making Americana music before the term even existed, Rick, Levon, Garth, Richard and Robbie collectively constituted the only ensemble to ever rightfully earn the sobriquet The Band.

View full track listing here.

Monday
Aug132012

Universal marks 45th anniversary of 'The Velvet Underground and Nico' with deluxe six-CD collection

Super Deluxe six-CD collection features previously unreleased recordings from Factory rehearsals, Scepter Studios acetate, live performances

"Modern music begins with The Velvets.” - Lester Bangs

When The Velvet Underground & Nico album was released in March 1967 on Verve Records, with its Andy Warhol-designed, peel-off banana cover, it was far from a chart-topper. In fact, as the quote attributed to Brian Eno famously put it, the album may not have sold many copies, “but everyone who bought it formed a band.” And its reputation as a groundbreaker has only increased over the four-and-a-half decades since its original release. 

Universal Music / Polydor will celebrate the now-iconic album’s 45th anniversary on October 30 2012 with a multi-format, worldwide release on October 29th and 30th that includes stereo and mono versions remastered from the original tapes, previously unreleased recordings of the band’s rehearsals in Warhol’s Factory and the subsequent rare April 1966 Scepter Studios recordings captured on acetate which feature early, alternate versions of songs later issued on the album.

A limited-edition, super deluxe six-CD box set will also feature a previously unavailable November ’66 live concert performed by the Velvets’ original, five-person lineup — Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Moe Tucker and Nico — at the Valleydale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio, and Nico’s Chelsea Girl, an album released in October 1967 (seven months after the Velvets’ disc) which featured all the members of the band as well as a teenage folksinger named Jackson Browne. It also includes an 88-page booklet with a new essay by band biographer Richie Unterberger. All remastering, tape transfers and digital assembly was overseen by veteran A&R producer Bill Levenson at the prestigious Sterling Sound Studios in New York; Levenson has been involved with previous Velvet Underground reissues for more than 30 years, working on VU and Another VU in the ’80s, the banana-covered box set in the ’90s and UMG’s first expanded, deluxe edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico in 2002.

This six-CD set captures the Velvets in a crucial period in their development, covering the band’s Factory rehearsals in January ’66, the original Scepter recording sessions that April, then a live show in November, leading up to the March ’67 release, almost a year after the album was finished. Nico’s Chelsea Girl, which came out seven months later in October, completes the set’s almost two-year arc, chronicling the band both before and directly after its historic debut. 

The super deluxe set allows fans to compare the mono and stereo versions of the album. Longtime Velvets aficionados have touted the mono mix because of its lo-fi quality, with the music coming off even tougher as a result of its compression. 

The Velvet Underground & Nico album has achieved many honours since its release: The Observer placed it number 1 in 50 Albums that Changed the World; Uncut placed it at number 1 of 100 Greatest Debut Albums; it was placed in the top 10 of Mojo's 100 Greatest Albums Ever Made and it continues to consistently top UK polls. 

In the US, the earned the original band a slot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Rolling Stone placed it at number 13 on the list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in November 2003, dubbing it “the most prophetic rock album ever made”; Spin Magazine placed it atop its list of the Top 15 Most Influential Albums of All Time that same year and the album is one of 225 recordings in the prestigious Library of Congress National Recording Registry. In Czechoslovakia, the band gave its name to the Velvet Revolution, which overthrew the Communist regime in that country. Globally, the album is seen just like Sgt. Pepper’s and Pet Sounds, as a seminal, influential high-water mark in rock music history.

Universal will release the album worldwide simultaneously in six different physical and digital versions. Aside from the Super Deluxe edition, The Velvet Underground & Nico will be available in a brand-new two-CD Deluxe Edition which includes a stereo version of the album along with a separate disc of the Factory rehearsals and Scepter Studios sessions. There will also be a digital exclusive and a one-CD original stereo album remaster in both physical and digital form (alongside a remastered vinyl edition).

The deluxe edition and digital reissue of The Velvet Underground & Nico is not only for hard-core fans, but for anyone who wishes to trace the two-year development of a world-class band in the process of creating one of the greatest albums in rock history through rare and previously unreleased recordings.

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Friday
Aug032012

Ladies and Gentlemen...Mr B.B. King

B.B. King Box Set

Box set: Ladies and Gentlemen...Mr B.B. King
Release date: 24 September 2012
Label: Universal 

'B.B. King is one of America’s few, long-standing musical treasures whose stature has grown to an unassailable, international level. Despite his 85 years, King continues to tour, perform and to grow in influence, casting a shadow that reaches far beyond the blues scene from whence he first came. His warm, downhome vocal style, his distinctive, “talking” blues guitar playing, and his songs that sing of love’s joys and hardships – Sweet Sixteen, How Blue Can You Get?, Help The Poor, The Thrill Is Gone and countless others – are all indelibly imprinted elements in the modern musical heritage.' – Ashley Kahn

Celebrating his 50th-anniversary signing to ABC-Paramount Records in 1962, Universal Music brings you this multi-format career retrospective, a slick 10-CD, 194-track collection chronicling his entire career from his first recordings in 1949 through to his most recent studio album. Housed in a beautiful luxe box, the package includes a 72-page silver-gilded hardback book, featuring essays from Ashley Kahn and Dick Shurman. The box set is also packed with glorious images and memorabilia, illustrating King's incredible career. All lovingly assembled and engineered by Universal's Grammy Award winning consultants Bill Levenson and Andy McKaie.

Key features:

  • Two CDs chronicling his early years on Bullet, Modern/RPM and Kent/Crown Records
  • Eight CDs chronicling his recording achievements on ABC-Paramount, ABC Bluesway, ABC, ABC/Impulse, MCA and Geffen Records, as well as high profile collaborations
  • Key recordings from every ABC/MCA/Geffen era album
  • Rare, non-album singles
  • Rare album tracks
  • Rare “One Touch” EP tracks:      
  • Packaging to feature career spanning photos and memorabilia, essays by noted authors Ashley Kahn and Dick Shurman, extensive recording credits
  • 4CD Cutdown Box
  • Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Digital Exclusives

More information / press enquiries

For all enquiries, please contact us. If you feature this story in your publication, blog or site, we'd really appreciate it if you could let us know.

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