Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy Records’

Valerie june 12.03.21

Valerie June has shared a new climactic, string-laden piano ballad from her upcoming album “The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers”. Valerie June’s voice is always great, but it really soars on this one. Produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, John Legend) and Valerie June, “The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers” is sweeping and ambitious with earthy R&B production and a touch of psychedelia amidst its astral folk-pop orchestration, the pair arrived at a sound that is elegant and endlessly surprising. At the center is June’s spellbinding vocals and infectious sense of wonder that finds the Brooklyn-via-Memphis artist narrating the often precarious journey to joyful possibility.  The ethereal clip for “Why The Bright Stars Glow” embodies a dreamer’s aura as Valerie’s shimmering figure cuts against a night sky.

Conjuring a next-generation fusion of folk, soul, gospel, country and transcendental blues,The Moon and Stars, Prescriptions For Dreamers, Valerie June’s third full-length album for Fantasy Records is a deeply affecting work of genuine beauty and unassuming wonder.

“Why The Bright Stars Glow” from the album “The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers”, out March 12th, 2021 via Fantasy Records

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Consistency was a hallmark of Creedence Clearwater Revival in more ways than one. During the Northern California rock band’s prime, there really was no such thing as a long wait for the next CCR album, with the group pumping out five studio albums in two years.

Without hesitation or ambiguity, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford agree that CCR’s output was fuelled in large part by a steady thought running through the mind of singer, songwriter and guitarist John Fogerty: If Creedence dropped off the charts, the public would forget about the band.

Cook says he doesn’t know where Fogerty came up with that idea, but at the same time, Cook theorizes that CCR “was treated too well by radio,” meaning stations cycled through the band’s singles at an accelerated pace.

“They always flipped the singles over and played the B-side,” he explains. “They killed the A-side early and flipped it. So we had a lot of platinum singles, but we were going through them like wildfire. We didn’t get the normal chart life out of any one song; two songs kept us on the charts about as long as one and half songs (would have for another band).”

He adds, “Creedence was a singles band, and when we had enough singles, then we would go into the studio and crank out the remainder, and then we had an album.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival released its self-titled debut album on Fantasy Records in 1968. Then the band pumped out three albums in 1969: Bayou Country, Green River  and Willy and the Poor Boys, with “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Down on the Corner” among their Billboard Hot 100 hits that year. The steady output continued into the new decade, withCosmo’s Factory arriving in July 1970 and eventually spending nine weeks at No. 1 on the American charts. And while in many ways it’s true to the CCR albums that came before and after, Cosmo’s Factory also stands apart for subtle as well as significant reasons.

Preceding an album’s release with a single was typical for Creedence, but with Cosmo’s Factory, the band issued two singles well in advance. “Travellin’ Band”/“Who’ll Stop the Rain” entered the Billboard Hot 100 in late January 1970, followed by “Up Around the Bend”/“Run Through the Jungle” in late April. From the subsequent sessions that filled out the 11-song album came another two-sided single, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”/“Long As I Can See the Light,” which hit the Hot 100 in early August.

In classic Creedence fashion, most of the singles were short recordings, but Fogerty, Cook, Clifford and guitarist Tom Fogerty outdid themselves with the feverish, saxophone-supported “Travellin’ Band,” which barely surpasses two minutes.

“Well, ‘Travellin’ Band’ is a tribute to the great Little Richard,” Cook says. And in coming up with his part, Cook put himself in the position of the bassist who played in the rock pioneer’s backing band.

“If we’re going to borrow from Little Richard, let’s go all the way and be true to the whole thing,” Cook adds. “So I just picked a simple bass part that drove it and didn’t get in the way. It was well within my playing skills.”

Conversely, Cosmo’s Factory contains two of the longer tracks in the Creedence catalogue. The 11-minute cover version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” had humble beginnings. This was an idea of John’s that started out very loosely as presented to the band, and we basically jammed for weeks,” Cook says. “We jammed the jam, back and forth (on the chords), for a couple of hours per day, Monday through Friday. And then a week before we went into the studio to record it, John said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m sticking “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” on the front of (the jam).’ And we said, ‘Sounds good to us.’ ” Cook adds, “The jam was really a jam; it was probably Creedence’s only jam. We all threw ideas around, and each of us as players kept coming back and refining the stuff that we thought individually and collectively worked best on the track. And when the red light was on, all we had to do was fall back on the stuff we’d been jamming on for some period of time, and it went down in one or two takes, like most Creedence recordings.” Normally, Clifford would have his drum parts planned out, but that wasn’t entirely the case with “Grapevine.”

“When we were cutting it, it reached a magic point where there are things I had never played before and John had never played before,” he recalls. “That was pretty exciting, and at the end, when we had the take, I said, ‘I kinda varied on some spots.’ And he said, ‘So did I,’ and that was rare for him to (do that).”

Then there’s “Ramble Tamble,” the long and intricate track that opens the album. “The song, to a nonmusical ear, has a good flow, has different parts and fits together well,” Cook says, “but it’s very strict in its sections that, when combined, make up the entire arrangement, which was completely unlike what the other Bay Area bands were doing at the time.” Over the course of the song’s seven-plus minutes, Clifford incorporates a double-time beat and also a steady-snare Motown-style beat. “The tough part in that song was slowing down the tempo, and (it was also a challenge) bringing it back (up) — and it had to be exactly right, or the song didn’t work,” Clifford says.

Cosmo’s Factory closes with the slow, soulful “Long As I Can See the Light,” which like “Travellin’ Band” features saxophone. Yet it’s Clifford’s high-hat work as the song winds down that stands out, the result of him switching from 14-inch to 18-inch high-hat cymbals. “I wanted a more melodic tone from the high-hat,” says Clifford. But in that quest, he encountered a problem: Due to the weight of the bigger high-hat cymbals, he couldn’t get them to open. “So I went to the hardware store and got a spring, put it in there, cut it down to size, put it back in, and it worked perfectly,” he says. “I opened them up at the end of that song, and they were really screaming — wide open, just pounding them with the shank of the stick, trying to get as much wood on them as possible.”

The ominous opening to “Run Through the Jungle” was the result of some experimentation.

“We had a (toy version of a) kalimba, the African finger piano — that, with a slowed-down backward tape, just trying to use some of the techniques that George Martin was using at the time,” says Cook. “A guitar string being hit, then tuned at the same time — tuning it up, then down. Speeding things up, slowing them down so they got a surreal texture. Laying that all onto the multitrack, then trying to come up with a blend.”

Clifford credits John Fogerty with coming up with the title for Cosmo’s Factory, and the factory itself was the band’s rehearsal space in Berkeley at 1230 Fifth St., where the album cover photo was shot by another Fogerty brother, Bob.

Like every CCR album cover up to this point, Cosmo’s Factory showed all four members of the band — only this time, there were plenty of props, too.

“Coming up with any kind of a picture is not quite as hard as coming up with a band name, but what do you do?” Cook says. “We took a bunch of junk that was laying around … the Lite-Brite kit (positioned under Tom’s raised feet). Doug was on his 15-speed bike. John had his motorcycle; I was laying on the floor playing some toy piano.” “I rode that bike to work every day,” adds Clifford. “I lived up in the hills, seven and a half miles away. Coming to practice was all downhill, and going home after playing drums for hours, it was (uphill through the traffic).”

Five decades later, Cosmo’s Factory remains the bestselling non-compilation album in the Creedence Clearwater Revival catalogue, with the Recording Industry Association of America bestowing multiplatinum status for sales of 4 million. CCR’s heyday wrapped with Pendulum, released in late 1970, and the band broke up after 1972’s Mardi Gras.

Even though its title contains Clifford’s nickname, Cosmo’s Factory is the drummer’s second favourite CCR album. At the top, he says, is Bayou Country, and for good reasons: “It wasn’t too far away from when we were playing in the bars, six nights a week, five sets a night. And ‘Born on the Bayou’ is my favourite Creedence song of all time.”

Cook describes Creedence as “an incredible rocket ride” that followed “nine and a half years of struggling,” during which the band went by other monikers, such as The Golliwogs.

“Now I can look back 50 years later (at Cosmo’s Factory) and go, ‘Well, I still love it,’ ” he adds. “It’s a great album.”

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.

Lukas Nelson Turn Off The News album

Lukas Nelson and his band Promise Of The Real have unveiled the video for ‘Bad Case,’ the first of two upfront tracks to be released from their upcoming album Turn Off the News (Build a Garden), out on 14th June.

As Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas is not the only famous offspring on the project: the clip is co-directed by Adria Petty, daughter of Tom, whose resumé also includes videos for the likes of Beyoncé and Regina Spektor. The co-director on ‘Bad Case’ is Alan Bibby, with whom she oversaw Coldplay and Rihanna’s ‘Princess of China’ promo; Bibby’s other credits include the Ariana Grande/Stevie Wonder collaboration ‘Faith.’

“Lukas and Promise of the Real are amazing musicians and human beings,” Petty said. “So it was a huge honour to work on this collaboration shoulder to shoulder.”

In the lead-up to the release of Turn Off the News (Build a Garden), Nelson and his compadres have been typically hard at work on the road. They opened for The Who last month, played with longtime mentor Neil Young at several West Coast shows and performed their own sold out show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

The album, the band’s second for Fantasy Records, is another fascinating blend of rock ‘n’ roll, country, soul, folk and R&B. “We wanted these songs to be fun and upbeat,” says Nelson, “but we also wanted to have something to say. Rock ‘n’ roll began as a countercultural movement, so in the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, we’re trying to encourage a lifestyle where people can be active in their local communities, rather than glued to a device.

“We listen to so many artists — the Byrds, Tom Petty, Al Green, Neil Young, Little Feat, J.J. Cale — and this album carries forth something they all represented, the idea of turning off the news and doing something constructive. It’s a statement about how you can live your life with your heart leading the way.”

“Bad Case” is off the new album from Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real, “Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) available everywhere June 14th.

Tyler Ramsey will perform at SXSW 2019.

Tyler Ramsey has reached his widest audience during the years he spent as a guitarist and songwriter in Band of Horses, though he’s also enjoyed a creatively fruitful solo career dating back to 2005. Sometimes, that solo work has sounded like the beardily searching, Fleet Foxes-style ballad “1000 Blackbirds,” but on his new single “A Dream of Home,” the singer and multi-instrumentalist finds a sweet spot that brings to mind the lush folk-rock rambles of Damien Jurado.

Tyler Ramsey lives near Asheville, NC and likes to reflect the sweetness of his life, member of the band Band of Horses, in his music. This lush folk rock track is everything that’s right about music production in 2019.

It’s easy to come up with comparisons like Neil Young, but honestly it’s the way that Ramsey’s “complete package” comes together that has us excited. It’s what we love about others in this space like Noah Gundersen and David Ramirez. This single’s got us looking forward to the rest of the music this chill folk rocker has coming soon.

Tyler Ramsey – “A Dream Of Home” – the first single off his new solo record, For The Morning, out April 5th on Fantasy Records.

Alejandro Escovedo

Despite the success of teaming up with legendary producer Tony Visconti and co-writer Chuck Prophet for his previous three studio releases, Americana icon (the Nuns, Rank & File, True Believers, solo) Alejandro Escovedo clearly felt it was time for a change. Out go Visconti and Prophet, in come Scott McCaughey (Minus 5) and Peter Buck (R.E.M.) to handle both producing and co-writing.

Those two likely helped Escovedo connect with this album’s other backing musicians. They include guitarist Kurt Bloch (The Fastbacks), drummer John Moen (the Decemberists), baritone saxist Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and singers Kelly Hogan and Corin Tucker: an Americana supergroup of sorts. This results in a set that doesn’t forgo Escovedo’s influences (“Shave the Cat” borrows T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong” lick), but incorporates them subtly into reflective, introspective songs often musing on ageing and its effect on the rock and roll lifestyle. Titles such as “Sunday Morning Feeling,” “Redemption Blues,” “I Don’t Want to Play Guitar Anymore” and the (almost) closing “Farewell to the Good Times,” the latter with lyrics “there’s nothing left to believe in,” show where Escovedo’s mind is.

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There are plenty of ballads to reflect on , some with ghostly, moving backing vocals as on “Beauty and the Buzz” that add a cool, somewhat ghostly approach. But Escovedo rocks hard in the tough garage attack of “Luna De Miel,” the thumping, talk/sung Velvet Underground influenced aggression in “Beauty of Your Smile” and especially the call and response wah-wah guitar enhanced boogie of the booming opening “Horizontal.”

Even the acoustic based “Suit of Lights” (“look at me/a sailor with no compass lost at sea”) and the chiming, Byrds’ inflected, soulful “Sunday Morning Feeling” (“I’ve seen better days/I’ve got nothing left to say/but that’s alright”) display a dark, edgy intensity that permeates the entire program. Nowhere is that more evident than on the ominous, near nightmare-ish folk-noir with restrained guitar feedback “Redemption Blues,” (“someday I’ll find a little peace”) one of the most harrowing songs in his catalog and surely a highlight of this set. Escovedo always delivers, occasionally even spits out, his lyrics with passion, but he seems particularly inspired throughout the disc’s 12 selections (and a startling, mesmerizing bonus cut with erratic drums and spectral backing singing “Thought I’d Let You Know” not listed on the cover).

There are no weak tracks, proving that this collaboration with Buck & McCaughey provided the energy and creativity to help Escovedo’s 12th studio release be one of his finest, which is no small feat in his already exceptionally productive, creative and influential career.

White Bear is on final countdown for release in the USA. Having stormed the charts on both sides of the Atlantic already with a Top 20 album chart entry in the UK and the debut single Oh Lorraine riding the #1 spot on Canada’s Active Rock Chart for an amazing 7 weeks in a row, it is now the turn of the US to witness what Classic Rock Magazine called “A rare and exquisite panache”. The album is released with two bonus tracks, Do The Revelation and Time Won’t Leave, both released on Fantasy Records

We were really humbled to be able to work with the amazing Stephen Sebring on both the album artwork and his amazing video for the title track White Bear, he truly took us to the 4th dimension! Nick comments:

“The idea of doing the White Bear video using the Revolution system was an exciting prospect and the results are stunning. Our connection with Steven has given us the opportunity to make a visually beautiful piece of work using techniques that haven’t been seen before.”

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A Record Store Day collectors’ heads up: Concord (UMG) will release the Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969 Box Set– 3 vinyl and ephemera from the time period celebrating the historic year. The box will also come complete with 3 CDs and 3 international EPs on 7” vinyl.  Albums include Green River, Bayou Country and Willy And The Poor Boys. A sneak peak at this amazing piece can be seen here

Creedence Clearwater Revival

From the Fantasy vaults comes the Record Store Day 1969 Archive Box celebrating Creedence Clearwater Revival’s epic year. In that year alone the band released three Top Ten albums, had four hit singles (charting at #2, #2, #2 and #3 respectively) with three additional charting B-sides. This archive box collects artifacts from 1969, documenting the global success of a band from El Cerritos, who were believed by many to be from the Mississippi Delta. Meticulously reproduced artifacts include 3 x LPs, 3 x CDs (of each of the above LPs), 3 x 7” vinyl International, EPs, 2 x Posters, 1 x Concert Ticket, 1 x Bumper Sticker, 1 x Publicity photo 60 page scrapbook and more. Limited to 7000 copies.