With Great Songs of The Heart From The Fifties and Sixties making a timely arrival for Valentine’s Day, February sees an additional string of new releases, putting 2015 firmly in full swing. Along with matters of the heart, there are further forays of infatuation. All About Elvis: A Tribute To The King stays rooted in the same period yet remains fanatically focused on the unmistakeable titanic pop phenemonon of Elvis Presley, as reflected in the imitative dedications of his contemporaries. Compiled across a 3CD set are songs delivered in his style, songs defined by an association with him, and finally, those more obscure homages. Documeting his magnetism and influence, the set features those who have themselves attained a similar regard within the rock’n’roll hall of fame (Roy Orbison, Wanda Jackson, and Jerry Lee Lewis to name a few.) Yet despite the notable calibre of some inclusions, only when the full extent of the compilation is considered does it become clear just how monumental his life and work was, to both the artists of his time and the fans who’ve appreciated his work since. 2015 marks 60 years since he signed his first major recording contract in November 1955, the same year in which he would have been 80 years old. All About Elvis, a collection of recordings which span the novelty pop, country, rhythm & blues and rock & roll fields, shows why he still remains such an indisputably adored figure.
Our next February release continues in a similiar vein to our acclaimed American Music Library series, with a thorough curation of outlying sounds from Billboard Magazine’s Bubbling Under Chart. But whereas the AML series prized the winners, Bubbling Under The American Charts champions the less distinguished but equally compelling fringe hits made between 1959 and 1963. Judged by the discoveries brought together by Austin Powell, the fact these records were excluded from a greater standing in the charts was owed more to arbitrary ill-fortune than any notion of diminished excellence, as also demonstrated by those who feature, with Ray Charles, Ike & Tina Turner, and Johnny Cash rubbing shoulders with interesting curios from the less familiar. A collection which will certainly delight record collectors but will also make for stellar listening for those in search of the finest near misses of American Chart Hits.
This month’s final output comes in the form of a long awaited vinyl release, the first in an ongoing series. One of our most lauded compilations, Heavy Sugar: The Pure Essence of New Orleans R&B, sees the first in Stuart Colman’s Sugar series reaching a format which will no doubt augment the exceptional character of these recordings. Stuart has overcome the difficult task of whittling down the original 75 track CD set to a concise 32 cuts, those which best represent all the sounds emanating from the city, at a time when Cosimo Matassa’s studio in the French Quarter was a vibrant nuclaus of the scene and the city’s numerous clubs were the fertile testing grounds for the many talents originating there. The resultant set condenses the quintessential essence of New Orleans R&B into a very special, limited edition 2LP set.