Vinyl Renaissance: Omnivore Recordings Offers Art Pepper, Spain on Vinyl

The term “record store” (two rather hallowed words in these parts!) has long been used to describe those stores that sell music, even well into the age of the CD, and now, the digital download.  But lately, record store walls have been lined with more and more actual vinyl records.  In 2011, more records were purchased than in any other year in the past two decades, with sales up 36 percent over 2010, to a not-too-shabby 3.9 million. Sales for 2012 are likely to best that number.  Since its founding in 2010, Omnivore Recordings has been committed to the art of the vinyl record, even as it continues to make music available in CD and digital formats, too.  Omnivore has recently announced three vinyl-only projects sure to excite collectors.

The late Ray Dobard’s Music City Records label, of Berkeley, California, is one of the most acclaimed regional labels of all time.  Its deep catalogue reflects the titanic changes in African-American music styles from doo-wop to funk, and that catalogue has been the foundation for recent releases from Omnivore and its U.K. distributor, Ace Records.  Ace’s 3-CD box set The Music City Storyspanned 25 years and 78 tracks of R&B in all its guises, while Omnivore has tapped the label further for Darondo’s Listen to My Song: The Music City Sessions and The Two Things in One’s Together Forever: The Music City Sessions.  Three vinyl-only, various-artists releases are coming soon from Omnivore with more classic Bay Area funk from the early 1970s.  The Music City Sessions, Volume 1: Richmond Experience, just arrived on August 14.  It will be followed by The Music City Sessions, Volume 2: Super Strut on September 18, and finally, The Music City Sessions, Volume 3: Soul Show on October 23. Each unlimited edition will be pressed on black vinyl, and will include a digital download card. All three volumes have been researched, produced, and annotated by Alec Palao, whose essay for Ace’s 2011 Music City Story box, received a Grammy Award nomination.

What can you expect on these three LPs?  Hit the jump to find out – plus news on Omnivore’s reissue campaign for Josh Haden’s ’90s group Spain and alto sax great Art Pepper, with pre-order links and track listings for all titles! 

All three Music City LPs will debut previously unreleased material from the label’s considerable vaults.  As listeners to The Two Things in One’s Together Forever can attest (read our review here!), Music City productions made up in excitement what they lacked in polish.  In Omnivore’s words, “equal-opportunity exploiter”  and producer Dobard’s “lack of technical expertise communicates a weird immediacy to the proceedings, which in combination with the occasional veracity of the musicians—drunk, high, inexperienced, or a combination of all—makes for a compelling listen.”  These tracks are so rare that some of are completely unknown origin, even as to the artist!  The first volume arrives on August 14.

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That’s not all coming from Omnivore, however!  Josh Haden’s group Spain released three albums on Reckless Records between 1995 and 2001, drawing on jazz, pop, and rock influences.  The son of legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden and a bassist in his own right, Josh was joined for Spain’s 1995 debut The Blue Moods of Spain by Ken Boudakian (guitar/organ), Merlo Podlewski (guitar) and Evan Hartzell (drums) as well as sisters Petra Haden and Tanya Haden.   Though Spain only recorded through 2001, Josh Haden formed a new version of the group in 1997 and earlier this year released The Soul of Spain, a new studio album. R  The time is right to explore the group’s original three Reckless albums, all of which are being reissued on vinyl from Omnivore.

The Blue Moods of Spain, its 1999 follow-up She Haunts My Dreams, and 2001’s I Believe are all making their first appearances on vinyl, available in stores and online on August 28. The LP-only reissues will be available as limited edition first pressings on 180-gram colored vinyl, totaling 1,000 copies per album. The Blue Moods of Spain, a 2-LP set featuring one bonus track, will be issued on translucent blue vinyl; She Haunts My Dreamson clear vinyl; and I Believe on translucent orange vinyl.  Subsequent pressings will be on standard black vinyl.

“I’m very proud and grateful that Omnivore after all these years is releasing the first three Spain albums on vinyl,” said Josh Haden. “The quiet spaces and high fidelity of Blue Moods particularly lends itself to a vinyl experience. The recording of those albums came at a very innocent and spontaneous period of my life; it was an amazing musical era for me, and I’m glad it can be shared again.”  Haden will mark the occasion with an album released party at Los Angeles’ Bootleg Bar, during which he will reunite with sisters Petra, Tanya and Rachel Haden to perform alongside special guests.  All three reissues from Josh Haden’s Spain are due for release on August 28.

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Lastly, the Omnivores are unearthing some vinyl treasure from the late alto saxophonist Art Pepper (1925-1982).  Three volumes of previously-unreleased live performances are slated for release under the Neon Art banner, beginning September 1.

Pepper’s time as a leader began in 1951, following apprenticeships with the likes of Stan Kenton, Benny Carter and Shorty Rogers.  With his unique tone, the California native rose through the ranks of the West Coast school of jazz, and in 1952 was even voted second place as Best Alto Saxophonist by Down Beat Magazine, bested only by Charlie Parker.  Like far too many of his contemporaries, Pepper’s career was marred by substance abuse, and he turned to crime.  In turn, his transgressions led to a series of stints behind bars.  Still, records preserved him at his best, whether leading a band, supporting Chet Baker or Henry Mancini, or joining Buddy Rich in his Big Band.  In the final years of his life, aided by methadone therapy, Pepper successfully toured, wrote an autobiography and continued to make music.

Cut at Capitol Records by Ron McMaster, Neon Art: Volume One will be pressed on red vinyl, and will contain a digital download card.  It features two extended songs from Pepper’s gig at Parnell’s in Seattle, Washington on January 28, 1981. Both sides feature Pepper’s own compositions, with Side One dedicated to “Red Car,” and “Blues for Blanche” on the flipside.  The two songs total nearly 35 minutes of unheard Pepper.  Volumes Two and Three will both feature previously-unreleased performances from a 1981 concert tour in Japan. Volume Two arrives on October 23, with “Mambo Koyama,” Allen’s Alley” and Wizard of Oz standard “Over the Rainbow,” pressed on neon pink vinyl (with download card included, of course).  Volume Three follows on November 20 with “Make a List,” “Arthur’s Blues,” and a favorite of Frank Sinatra, “Everything Happens to Me.”  It’s on neon yellow vinyl with download card.

The Omnivore releases have been produced in cooperation with Pepper’s widow, Laurie.  She states in the press release, “Our mission at Widow’s Taste Records is to introduce unreleased and unheard Art to people who love him, as well as to people who don’t yet know him.  Art hated the idea that people put jazz in a pigeonhole. He wanted to make people forget the categories and ‘make them open up and listen.’” On August 28, Widow’s Taste Records will also release Unreleased Art Pepper, Vol. VII, a two-CD set recorded in November 1980 in Osaka, Japan.

You can order the Art Pepper and Spain titles, as well as The Music City Sessions series of LPs, below!

Various Artists, The Music City Sessions, Volume 1: Richmond Experience (Omnivore, 2012)

Side One

  1. Just A Man* — Chucky Thurmon & Pharris Wheel
  2. Giant Hamburger (part two)* — Victor Green
  3. Freedom Train — Kevin Burton & Peace
  4. TP Paper* — The Soul Sensations
  5. Get Down — Unknown Artist

Side Two

  1. Gumbo — Victor Green
  2. Check Me Out (alternate version) — Little Denice
  3. Wouldn’t It Be A Shame* — The Soul Messengers
  4. Havin’ Fun — Unknown Artist
  5. Richmond Experience — Kevin Burton & Peace

 All tracks previously unissued except those marked by (*)

Various Artists, The Music City Sessions, Volume 2: Super Strut (Omnivore, 2012)

Side One

  1. Super Strut – Cookin’ Bag
  2. House Rocker – Love Uprisers
  3. Backyard – Houston Outlaws
  4. Bumpin’ on Sunset/We Got More Soul* – Charles “Doc” Williams featuring Darondo
  5. Drifting – Chucky Thurmon & Pharris Wheel

Side Two

  1. I Just Got To Be Loving You* – Houston Outlaws
  2. City Country City – Cookin’ Bag
  3. Let’s Get It Together (Early Version) – The Two Things In One
  4. Victor’s Theme – Victor Green
  5. Is It Right* – Kevin Burton & Peace

All tracks previously unissued except those marked by (*)

Various Artists, The Music City Sessions, Volume 3: Soul Show (Omnivore, 2012)

Side One

  1. Girl I’d Like To See You* – William Bostic
  2. Farewell Goodbye My Love* – The Performers
  3. Disco Man – Unknown Artist
  4. A Man That Is Not Free* – The Soul Sensations
  5. You Could Have Tried – Karen Sanders Group
  6. Silly Song (Early Version) – The Two Things In One

Side Two

  1. Gimme Some (Version 1)* – Darondo
  2. Time Flies* – Benida Madison
  3. Children Need Our Love – The New Generation
  4. Loving You Isn’t Enough* – The Ballads
  5. Girl I Tried – The Performers

All tracks previously unissued except those marked by (*)

Spain, The Blue Moods of Spain (Reckless Records, 1995 – reissued Omnivore, 2012)

Side One

  1. It’s So True
  2. Ten Nights
  3. Dreaming of Love

Side Two:

  1. Untitled # 1
  2. Her Used-to-Been
  3. Ray of Light

Side Three:

  1. World of Blue

Side Four:

  1. I Lied
  2. Spiritual
  3. Phone Machine (B-Side, Bonus Track)

Spain, She Haunts My Dreams (Reckless Records, 1999 – reissued Omnivore, 2012)

Side One

  1. I’m Leaving You
  2. It’s All Over
  3. Before It All Went Wrong
  4. Hoped and Prayed
  5. Waiting for You to Come
  6. Easy Lover

Side Two

  1. Bad Woman Blues
  2. Nobody Has to Know
  3. Every Time I Try
  4. Our Love is Gonna Live Forever

Spain, I Believe (Reckless Records, 2001 – reissued Omnivore, 2012)

Side One

  1. She Haunts My Dreams
  2. Born to Love Her
  3. You Were Meant for Me
  4. Do You See the Light
  5. Mary

Side Two

  1. Make Your Body Move
  2. I Believe
  3. Oh That Feeling
  4. If We Kissed
  5. Long Time Ago

Art Pepper, Neon Art: Volume One (Omnivore, 2012)

  1. Red Car (16:53)
  2. Blues for Blanche (17:56)

Tracks 1 & 2 previously unreleased, recorded 1/28/81 at Parnell’s, Seattle, Washington

Band: Art Pepper – Alto Sax, Milcho Leviev – Piano, David Williams – Bass, Carl Burnett – Drums

Art Pepper, Neon Art: Volume Two (Omnivore, 2012)

  1. Mambo Koyama (18:38) (recorded 11/19/81 Koseinenkin Hall – Sapporo, Japan)
  2. Over The Rainbow (14:38) (recorded 11/13/81 Shakai Kyoiku Center – Tottori, Japan)
  3. Allen’s Alley (9:17) (recorded 11/24/81 Shibuya Public Hall – Tokyo, Japan)

All tracks previously unissued.

Band: Art Pepper – Alto Sax, George Cables – Piano, David Williams – Bass, Carl Burnett – Drums

Art Pepper, Neon Art: Volume Three (Omnivore, 2012)

  1. Make A List (Make A Wish) (24:39) (recorded 11/13/81 Shakai Kyoiku Center – Tottori, Japan)
  2. Everything Happens To Me (8:34) (recorded 11/14/81 Kinrokaikan Hall – Nogoya, Japan)
  3. Arthur’s Blues (10:27) (recorded 11/19/81 Koseinenkin Hall – Sapporo, Japan)

All tracks previously unissued.

Band: Art Pepper – Alto Sax, George Cables – Piano, David Williams – Bass, Carl Burnett – Drums


Joe Marchese