Five more CDs of Connie Francis, picking up right where Bear Family's earlier White Sox, Pink Lipstick set left off, in 1960 – although its 300-plus minutes of music only cover the period of 1960 to 1962. By this time, Connie Francis was established as one of the top female vocal talents of her generation, and she was ready to experiment – you hear her successful move into country music, wonderful outtakes, and never-issued songs from her early-'60s sessions…
Having come to the U.S. from his native Nigeria to study medicine, percussionist Babatunde Olatunji eventually became one of the first African music stars in the States. He also soon counted jazz heavyweights like John Coltrane ("Tunji") and Dizzy Gillespie among his admirers (Gillespie had, a decade earlier, also courted many Cuban music stars via his trailblazing Latin jazz recordings). And, in spite of it being viewed by some as a symbol of African chic, Drums of Passion is still a substantial record thanks to Olatunji's complex and raw drumming.
Merle Haggard, RIP. In Memoriam. Merle Haggard, an icon of American music, died at his home in California on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. It was the singer, songwriter, and musician’s 79th birthday. In 2008 he battled lung cancer, and was hospitalized in December 2015 with double pneumonia. Haggard returned to the stage soon after, but was sidelined again in February due to continuing health concerns. “A week ago Dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday,” Merle’s son and lead guitarist, Ben, revealed the day his father died, “and he wasn’t wrong.”
Ferlin Husky shares billing on his volume of Bear Family's ongoing rockabilly and country-boogie series, Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight, with Simon Crum and Terry Preston – two aliases he adopted in the thick of and at the start of his career, respectively. Unlike Collectors' Choice Music's 2002 collection Country Music Is Here to Stay, the focus of this 2016 set is not on the novelties of Simon Crum. Instead, this rounds up 32 sides Husky recorded in any incarnation, with the uniting factor being its swing.
Twelve years after they released their first Merle Haggard box, The Untamed Hawk, Bear Family delivered the sequel, Hag: The Studio Recordings 1969-1976. This picks up where The Untamed Hawk left off, which is more of a musical dividing point than it initially seems. If The Untamed Hawk caught Haggard as he was reaching full flight, Hag captures him in his prime, as every single he released reached the Country Top Ten – often capturing the number one slot – and as he sometimes crossed over into the pop Top 40. Hag was without a doubt the biggest star in country music but the remarkable thing about his reign at the top was that he never played it safe.
Chuck Berry fanatics, your ship has come in, and it’s the Queen Mary — or maybe we should call it the Queen Maybellene. As you’d expect from the Bear Family label, which specializes in gargantuan reissues, this 16-CD, 396-song box doesn’t simply span Berry’s career, it embraces virtually every musical note the man has ever issued. You’ll find all of his released album tracks and singles, starting with an obscure 1954 recording and including everything from the Chess, Mercury and Atco labels, plus every surviving alternate take. Also here are five CDs’ worth of concert performances from 1956 to 1972.
The mambo has become fashionable again lately, but for Tito Puente it has never gone out of fashion. In 1957 he cut two stellar albums for RCA, but just how good they were didn't become obvious until the advent of the CD. The full, rich sound on these LPs is nothing short of astonishing. This is mambo at its most ecstatic: blasting brass, sensual saxes, and that irresistible Afro-Cuban rhythm section led by Tito, Ray Baretto and Mongo Santamaria. This set contains 23 titles, including 3-D Mambo, Mambo Gozon, Conga Alegre, Hot Timbales…. etc.. Ay! Ay! Ay!
In 1993, Bear Family released Night Beat/Mucho Puente, Plus, which contained two complete albums – Night Beat (1957) and Mucho Puente (1964), both originally released on RCA – by Latin jazz giant Tito Puente on one compact disc.
1-CD-Album Digipak (4-plated) with 44-page booklet, 29 tracks, playing time approx. 75 mns. The forgotten recordings of Edna McGriff a Fifties R&B star! Few ever reissued on CD, most unheard since the 1950s! Includes fabulous R&B versions of pop songs like The Fool, Born To Be With You, Freight Train, and I Enjoy Being A Girl with the cream of New York's R&B session men! First full-length biography by R&B scholar Bill Dahl.
8-CD box (LP-size) with 47-page book, 137 tracks. Playing time approx. 725 mns. The third German Jazz Festival in 1955 was a four-day event that featured nearly 30 groups and soloists. It was recorded by Deutsche Grammophon for release on Brunswick, but only parts of it were released on long-deleted EPs. The complete tapes survived though. The 1954 festival was also recorded, but only the portion issued on an EP was saved. Now the surviving portion of the 1954 festival and the entire 1955 festival are issued complete by Bear Family on eight CDs.