Posts Tagged ‘Craft Recordings’

Craft Recordings continue their salute to the enduring musical legacy of Creedence Clearwater Revival with the official release of half speed mastered editions of the band’s two final albums: 1970’s Pendulum and 1972’s Mardi Gras.

Continuing the 50th anniversary celebration of America’s all-time greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, with the release of 180-gram, half-speed mastered editions of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s final two studio albums; 1970’s Pendulum and 1972’s Mardi Gras. Both LPs were mastered at Abbey Road Studios and come housed in beautifully crafted jackets replicating the albums’ original packaging.

Pendulum marked CCR’s second release of 1970—following Cosmo’s Factory—and was the group’s sole record to feature all original material. The album found the guitar-heavy group expanding their sonic palate—experimenting with new sounds (including the use of saxophones, vocal choirs, and keyboards) and even venturing into psychedelia. Pendulum spawned two global Top Ten hits: “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Hey Tonight.”

CCR’s seventh and final studio album, Mardi Gras, followed the departure of founding member and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty. Highlights off the album include a cover of the rockabilly classic “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as the John Fogerty-penned rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker.” The poignant “Someday Never Comes,” meanwhile, marked the group’s final single.

Roughly half a century later, fans can enjoy a new vibrancy when they revisit these albums, thanks to the exacting process of half-speed mastering. Working from high-res transfers from the original analogue tapes, the half-speed mastering technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, resulting in more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts. The result on the turntables is an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch.

Both titles are available now via Craft Recordings. 

See the source image

Pendulum

50th anniversary pressing of the penultimate studio album from America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band; first released in 1970 at the peak of Creedence’s prolific career. Includes the hits “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” “Hey Tonight” and more. The album was mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. This 180-gram vinyl comes housed in a tip-on jacket replicating the original pressing packaging. During 1969 and 1970, CCR was dismissed by hipsters as a bubblegum pop band and the sniping had grown intolerable, at least to John Fogerty, who designed “Pendulum” as a rebuke to critics.

He spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side. To some fans of classic CCR, this approach may feel a little odd since only “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and maybe its B-side “Hey Tonight” sound undeniably like prime Creedence. But, given time, the album is a real grower, revealing many overlooked Fogerty gems. Yes, it isn’t transcendent like the albums they made from Bayou Country through Cosmo’s Factory, but most bands never even come close to that kind of hot streak. Instead, Pendulum finds a first-class songwriter and craftsman pushing himself and his band to try new sounds, styles, and textures. His ambition results in a stumble — “Rude Awakening 2” portentously teeters on the verge of prog-rock, something CCR just can’t pull off — but the rest of the record is excellent, with such great numbers as the bluesy groove “Pagan Baby” the soulful vamp “Chameleon” the moody “It’s Just a Thought,” and the raver “Molina” Most bands would kill for this to be their best stuff, and the fact that it’s tucked away on an album that even some fans forget illustrates what a tremendous band Creedence Clearwater Revival was.

See the source image

Mardi Gras

50th anniversary pressing of the final studio album from America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band; first released in 1972. Highlights include a cover of “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as the Fogerty-penned rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”a Top Ten hit in the US, Australia, Canada, and across Europe. The poignant “Someday Never Comes,” marked the group’s final single. Mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. This 180-gram vinyl comes housed in an embossed jacket replicating the original packaging. Pared down to a trio, Creedence Clearwater Revival had to find a new way of doing business, since already their sound had changed, so they split creative duties evenly. It wasn’t just that each member wrote songs  they produced them, too.

Doug Clifford and Stu Cook claim John Fogerty needed time to creatively recharge, while Fogerty says he simply bowed to the duo’s relentless pressure for equal time. Both arguments make sense, but either way, the end result was the same: “Mardi Gras” was a mess. Not a disaster, which it was dismissed as upon its release, since there are a couple of bright moments. Typically, Fogerty is reliable, with the solid rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker” the country ramble “Lookin’ for a Reason” a good cover of Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou,” and the pretty good ballad “Someday Never Comes” These don’t match the brilliance of previous CCR records, but they sparkle next to Clifford and Cook’s efforts.

That implies that their contributions are terrible, which they’re usually not they’re just pedestrian. Only “Sail Away” is difficult to listen to, due to Cook’s flat, overemphasized vocals, but he makes up for it with the solid rocker “Door to Door” and the Fogerty soundalike “Take It Like a Friend.” Clifford fares a little better since his voice is warmer and he wisely channels it into amiable country-rock, yet these are pretty average songs by two guys beginning to find their own song writing voice. If Clifford and Cook had started their own band (which they did after this album) it would be easier to be charitable, but when held up against Creedence’s other work, Mardi Gras withers. It’s an unpretty end to a great band.

Pendulum was the follow-up to the band’s chart-topping Cosmo’s Factory, and peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200. The accompanying Mardi Gras is CCR’s swan song, with it being the only album the band made without rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, who left the group in 1971

ccr ad v3 (1)

Previously released in a truncated form on a CD in 2010, now George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ legendary Boston 1982 show now arrives in its complete form (with 12 previously unreleased tracks) and on vinyl for the first time. This limited pressing is presented on red marbled vinyl alongside a poster and liner notes. It’s all part of Craft recording’s celebration of Rounder Records’ 50th anniversary. “1982 was an absolute high-water mark for us,” Thorogood said in a statement. “Everything was going our way and it shows in this recording…This is George Thorogood and The Destroyers at our best!”

This 2020 reissue of Live in Boston, 1982 adds 12 never-before-available live tracks to the previously released material. This live set captures the remarkable high point in the band’s career, having just come off of a tour opening for the Rolling Stones. The power and focus of the band at this point in their career can be heard in every track. This live release is also a fitting exclamation point to the Destroyers’ breakthrough days with Rounder Records. This release is available for the first time on vinyl and comes as a 4-LP set.

Live in Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert

Image may contain: one or more people

Originally released in 1972 and 1974, respectively, #1 Record and Radio City can still take your breath away with their bracing guitars, soaring melodies, emotionally-charged lyrics, and song structures that often zag when you’re expecting them to zig. Though the Fab Four are an audible influence on the albums, it’s generally more White Album–era Beatles being drawn upon than A Hard Day’s Night, along with such disparate elements as Led Zeppelin’s swaggering hard rock, Kinks leader Ray Davies’ brooding introspection, and the sweet soul music of Big Star’s Memphis hometown.

In rock and roll, there are moments when bands poised to break barriers and redefine an era are held back from their destiny because of logistics, promotional neglect, bandwidth, or all of the above. In the early 1970s there was no bigger victim of all three than the band Big Star. What began as a Memphis–based quartet soon became a power trio. They were a group who created a pop rock sound that would frame the musical future of bands like R.E.M. and The Replacements (It’s safe to say that Matthew Sweet’s 1991 hit record Girlfriend wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for Big Star). Even Paul Stanley of KISS has called them “an early influence.” Their moment was brief but lasting.

The Memphis band was formed in 1971 by singer-songwriters Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel. Working with Ardent Records’ founder and engineer John Fry, Chilton laid down guitar and vocal tracks — often in one take, while Bell added polish with overdubs and harmonies to songs like “The Ballad of El Goodo,” “Thirteen” and “In The Street.” #1 Record was released to wide critical acclaim, yet distribution issues severely limited the album’s availability in stores. It would sell fewer than 10,000 copies. Things didn’t improve with the two releases that followed and the band quickly dissolved.

Since then, awareness of their music has only grown, widening the band’s base and spreading their influence. The music they made was expansive, ambitious and anchored in their love for the British Invasion of the 1960s. The bands that lead that charge can regularly be heard within the seams and between the folds of Big Star’s infectious production. They were never focused on fame or fortune. Instead, Big Star was a creative hot shop with boundless imagination and a drive to make music that aligned strictly to their personal vision.

Now, Craft Recordings is about to reissue Big Star’s first two albums on 180-gram vinyl. It’s a Memphis based affair. Jeff Powell at Memphis’ Take Out Vinyl conducted an all-analogue mastering, and manufacturing is being handled locally at Memphis Record Pressing. This is fitting for a band that is now part of the cultural fabric of Memphis.

Jody Stephens, the last surviving member and the rhythmic heart of Big Star, about this rerelease and what he thinks matters most about the band’s enduring legacy. We continue to build an audience. People continue to be into the music and it gives us a platform to do the “Big Star’s Third Live” performances. [Live performances of Big Star’s 3rd album.] It also gives a platform for Those Pretty Wrongs with Luther Russell. We released a new album in September with Burger Records. We also did seven dates in England and two in Scotland and it was really enabled by having been in Big Star. It’s great to just to continue to play these songs, play them for this community and feel connected. I never attach physical sales or anything to it. It would be awesome if it sold a lot so that Concord (Craft Recordings) will keep doing this and continue to make the music available. That keeps us relevant and maintains our profile.

Big Star's 180-gram vinyl reissues of #1 Record and Radio City via Craft Recordings.

On August 2nd, Craft Recordings will release the Official full hour-long concert by Creedence Clearwater Revival in a 50th year celebration of the appearance at the Woodstock Festival. The show delivered a classic run-through of eleven well-known CCR songs. This historic show will be delivered on vinyl 2LP package. The set will be called “Live At Woodstock”.

Woodstock has long been considered the classic Rock and Roll event by which ALL festivals pattern, govern, and aspire to. To date, none have superseded the event. Many bands refused to go and be a part of soon to be historic festival, but for those that did, they forever became a strong tie-in to Woodstock. One of those bands was Creedence Clearwater RevivalCCR were at a peak and this hour-long set helped to contribute to their growing fame. I’m sure no band ever regretted joining this ‘at the time’ unsure festival plagued with everything that could possibly go wrong.

This long sought-after release celebrates the 50th anniversary of Woodstock by giving fans a front-row seat to relive Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hour-long set as it was performed that historic night in August of 1969. Kicking off with “Born on the Bayou,” the album features the band’s biggest singles of the day including “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” and more. Full of creative energy, John, Tom, Stu, and Doug delve deep into their music, playing extended improvisations of “I Put a Spell on You,” “Keep on Chooglin’” and “Suzie Q.”

Taken from Creedence Clearwater Revival “Live At Woodstock”, available August 2 via Craft Recordings.

Creedence Clearwater Revival at the Fillmore

Craft Recordings is continuing the 50th anniversary celebration of Creedence Clearwater Revival.  In 1968, John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook released their first album together, providing the perfect soundtrack for a tumultuous period in American history. Over just seven albums issued between 1968 and 1972, the band’s rootsy rock-and-roll sensibility yielded such all-time classic hits as “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” “Down on the Corner,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Last November, Craft Recordings released a deluxe box set containing CCR’s complete seven-album studio discography in new half-speed masterings by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios.  On March 15th, those new 180-gram, half-speed mastered editions of the first two albums –“Creedence Clearwater Revival” and “Bayou Country” will receive stand-alone LP releases.

In its press release for the box, Craft described the mastering procedure for these albums: “Using high-res transfers from the original analog tapes, the half-speed mastering process involves playing back audio at half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is turned at half the desired playback speed. The technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, allowing more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts.”  Miles Showell offers further insight into his own approach: “I’ve tried to be as authentic as I could, and just make it sound like music. Not over-hyped, not over-processed. Up until now a lot of processing has been done on these recordings, so my approach was to strip them right back and just expose them for what they are – because what they are is great music.”

Released in the summer of 1968 — a year after the summer of love, but still in the thick of the Age of Aquarius  Creedence Clearwater Revival’s self-titled debut album was gloriously out-of-step with the times, teeming with John Fogerty’s Americana fascinations. While many of Fogerty’s obsessions and CCR’s signatures are in place  weird blues (“I Put a Spell on You”), Stax R&B (Wilson Pickett’s “Ninety-Nine and a Half”), rockabilly (“Susie Q”), winding instrumental interplay, the swamp sound, and songs for “The Working Man” — the band was still finding their way. Out of all their records (discounting Mardi Gras), this is the one that sounds the most like its era, thanks to the wordless vocal harmonies toward the end of “Susie Q,” the backward guitars on “Gloomy” and the directionless, awkward jamming that concludes “Walking on the Water” Still, the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.

Fogerty’s songwriting is a little tentative. Not for nothing were two of the three singles pulled from the album covers (Dale Hawkins’ “Susie Q,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You”) — he wasn’t an accomplished tunesmith yet. Though “The Working Man” isn’t bad, the true exception is that third single, “Porterville” an exceptional song with great hooks, an underlying sense of menace, and the first inkling of the working-class rage that fueled such landmarks as “Fortunate Son.” It’s the song that points the way to the breakthrough of Bayou Country, but the rest of the album shouldn’t be dismissed, because judged simply against the rock & roll of its time, it rises above its peers.

Bayou Country (40th Anniversary Edition)

Opening slowly with the dark, swampy “Born on the Bayou,” Bayou Country reveals an assured Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band that has found its voice between their first and second album. It’s not just that “Born on the Bayou” announces that CCR has discovered its sound — it reveals the extent of John Fogerty’s myth-making. With this song, he sketches out his persona; it makes him sound as if he crawled out of the backwoods of Louisiana instead of being a native San Franciscan. He carries this illusion throughout the record, through the ominous meanderings of “Graveyard Train” through the stoked cover of “Good Golly Miss Molly” to “Keep on Chooglin'” which rides out a southern-fried groove for nearly eight minutes. At the heart of Bayou Country, as well as Fogerty’s myth and Creedence’s entire career, is “Proud Mary.” A riverboat tale where the narrator leaves a good job in the city for a life rolling down the river, the song is filled with details that ring so true that it feels autobiographical. The lyric is married to music that is utterly unique yet curiously timeless, blending rockabilly, country, and Stax R&B into something utterly distinctive and addictive. “Proud Mary” is the emotional fulcrum at the center of Fogerty’s seductive imaginary Americana, and while it’s the best song here, his other songs are no slouch, either. “Born on the Bayou” is a magnificent piece of swamp-rock, “Penthouse Pauper” is a first-rate rocker with the angry undertow apparent on “Porterville” and “Bootleg” is a minor masterpiece, thanks to its tough acoustic foundation, sterling guitar work, and clever story. All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.

Despite the personal and professional tensions that plagued the band, CCR’s joyous brand of Americana keeps on chooglin’. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers are still active today, with John Fogerty headlining his own solo shows, and Cook and Clifford performing as Creedence Clearwater Revisited. (Tom Fogerty died in 1990.)

The timeless Creedence Clearwater Revival and Bayou Country are due from Craft Recordings on March 15th.  (Note that Amazon is currently showing a March 29th release date.)

Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy 8382, 1968 – reissued Fantasy/Craft, 2019)

R.E.M. / In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 to be reissued on 2LP vinyl

Warners’ 2003 R.E.M. compilation In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 will be reissued by Craft Recordings as a double vinyl set in May.

This album collects highlights from the band’s post-I.R.S. Records years from 1988’s Green to 2001’s Reveal. The 18 tracks include hits like ‘Losing My Religion’, ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘Stand’; selections from soundtracks (‘The Great Beyond’ and ‘All the Right Friends’) and the previously unreleased ‘Bad Day’ and ‘Animal’.

This set was commercially very successful and issued across a number of formats –  as well as standard CD and cassette editions, there was a 2CD package with a bonus disc of B-sides and rarities and a DVD-Audio with 5.1 surround mixes.

A two-LP vinyl set was issued at the time, but it was only released in Europe and was extremely limited (reflected in the astronomical prices required to secure one on the used market . So this new vinyl edition from Craft Recordings will be very welcome and represents the first time it has been available in the USA and Canada on vinyl.

In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003will be issued as a 2LP set on 10 May 2019

It was in the summertime half a century ago that the world first met CCR, a group that would reach sky-high success while retaining a resolutely rootsy, earthbound sound. An incredible legacy that was formed in just four years of unbridled creative output (1968 – 1972).

Beyond its anti-war sentiment, “Fortunate Son”is an anthem for the 99%ers, condensing a critique of elitism and class privilege into three simple, but powerfully defiant words: It Ain’t MeCraft partnered with director Ben Fee (Band of Horses, The War on Drugs, The Lumineers, Aesop Rock) to give a whole new generation a visual entry point into the world of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The song already has an undeniable place in history as one of the most visceral, attention-grabbing protest tunes of the Vietnam era. And though the Vietnam War is in the rearview mirror, the underdogs CCR spoke for in “Fortunate Son” are still the heart and soul of America, only facing a whole new set of challenges.Fee turned the video into a celebration of their indomitable spirit, giving viewers a glimpse of the broad array of characters comprising the patchwork that is our country at its core.

Fee’s video road trip took him across the country, from Los Angeles to Miami and all points in-between. The footage captures people across America of diverse ages, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and locations (including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, California, Washington and Hawaii) to document the true spirit that makes up the fabric of the United States, for which CCR have been the soundtrack for 50 years. Says Fee, “I wanted to highlight the community and positivity that everybody shares . . . I wanted to show what America feels like when you actually hit the road and drive throughout the States.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival
: The Complete Studio Albums: Half Speed Masters Deluxe Boxset

The arrival of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 50th anniversary brings an unprecedented celebration of everything the band contributed in their short but startlingly epochal time together (1968 – 1972). To commemorate this milestone, Craft Recordings is releasing a deluxe box set comprising the band’s complete seven-album studio output: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys, Cosmo’s Factory, Pendulum and Mardi Gras. Each album in this collection has been mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch, bringing these classic recordings a new vibrancy. The 180-gram LPs come housed in handsome tip-on jackets replicating the packaging of the original pressings. Along with the complete studio album collection comes an 80-page book featuring new liner notes from music journalist Roy Trakin, archival photos and reproductions of band ephemera — offering something for both new and the most die hard of Creedence fans. Available November 30th, 2018.

The evolution of the album art for Buddy Guy’s 1968 Chicago blues classic, A Man and the Blues.

One of the great living musical legends, blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy has had a fundamental influence on modern music. Born in Louisiana, Guy relocated to Chicago in his early 20s, where he would collaborate with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Junior Wells. Bridging traditional blues with a modern, sometimes avant-garde style, Guy’s flashy stage presence and pioneering electric guitar techniques would make him a star in his own right, and by the late ’60s, with the release of his second album, A Man and the Blues, Guy was influencing the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Throughout the ’70s, and ’80s, Guy spent much of his time on the road, performing in Europe as well as the US, and opening a Chicago nightclub, Buddy Guy’s Legends, in 1989. The ’90s and ’00s found Guy enjoying renewed success as a recording artist, earning several gold records and multiple GRAMMY® Awards. Guy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, received the National Medal of the Arts in 2003 and was awarded with Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. Having released over 20 studio and live albums, Buddy Guy continues to record and tour, always delivering a masterful show, ever-evolving in his style and sound.

Buddy Guy’s legendary electric guitar licks and passionate vocals are on display in A Man and His Blues, with an adept backing band that includes the great Otis Spann on piano and a snappy sax trio. Featuring a handful of original tracks, a surprising and highly original rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” plus classics like “Money (That’s What I Want),” Guy’s influential second album bridges Chicago blues with R&B. This 50th anniversary reissue was also cut from the original analog master by Capitol Mastering’s Ron McMaster.

Buddy Guy will be touring in the U.S. throughout the summer in 2018, and will be a part of the Rock Legends Cruise VII in February 2019.  Guy also recently appeared on David Letterman’s series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, available now on Netflix.

Junior Wells (1934–1998), was known as the “Godfather of the Blues,” he was one of the giants of the Chicago electric blues scene. Best remembered for his soulful, dynamic amplified blues harp playing and incendiary vocals. Junior and guitar legend Buddy Guy shared one of the blues’ most famous and fertile musical partnerships, tag-teaming in the studio and on stages around the world for 30 years. Junior’s Coming at You (1968) showcases the duo’s stylistic synergy as they infuse a selection of blues standards with a double dose of fiery attitude, backed by a tight band including Lefty Dizz on guitar, Douglas Fagan on sax and Clark Terry on trumpet.

Junior Wells one of the preeminent Chicago bluesmen, known best for his impressive amplified harmonica stylings and fervent vocals. As a teenager in the early ’50s, Wells began his career with the Muddy Waters Band, replacing Little Walter on the harmonica. By the end of the decade, Wells was successfully leading his own groups, often teaming up with fellow Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy. Infusing his blues with the sounds of contemporary rock, funk and soul, Wells was easily embraced by a rock audience, and by 1970, he was playing the Fillmore West and touring with the likes of the Rolling Stones and Canned Heat. Known for commanding the stage with his impassioned live performances, Wells would continue to perform (often with Guy) and record throughout the blues resurgence of the ’80s and ’90s. Even now—two decades after his death—he remains a revered and influential musical icon.

An iconic, electric blues album of the ’60s, Coming at You features harmonica and singer Junior Wells at his finest. With fellow Chicago musician Buddy Guy on lead guitar, Coming at You showcases the two fiery musicians’ talents in the studio as they play a selection of blues standards, backed by a tight band including Lefty Dizz on guitar, Douglas Fagan on sax and Clark Terry on trumpet. Back on vinyl for the first time in over 40 years, this 50th anniversary reissue was cut from the original analog master by Ron McMaster at Capitol Mastering.