Monday, March 15, 2010

Kathy McCord's debut album for CTI is back on CD, with 16 unreleased tracks from the '70s

Ace-Big Beat Records (UK) has just released "Kathy McCord: New Jersey to Woodstock," a 2-disc, 28-track collection with a whole CD of previously unissued recordings.

Kathy McCord's lone 1969 for Creed Taylor's CTI Records (arranged by Don Sebesky & engineered by Rudy Van Gelder) has long been a cult folk-psych classic, rated highly by all those who enjoy artists such as Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan and their ilk. Its cult status has been boosted by its incredible scarcity - a true holy grail in collector circles, if ever there was one.

Aside from its original vinyl issue in early 1970, the only other time it's been available in 40 years was via an almost impossible-to-find, limited Japanese CD reissue (released in 1999 by Vivid Sound Corporation) that is, if anything, harder to find than the original album now!

Now, the London-based Ace Records is delighted to reinstate this precious music to catalogue and to bring it to what is potentially its biggest-ever audience. Besides the 10 tracks from the CTI LP (recorded at Van Gelder Studios, in New Jersey, on November 18, 19, 20 & 24 and December 2, 1969, featuring Harvey Brooks - the bassist who recorded on Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" -, John Hall, Paul Harris, Wells Kelly, Ed Shaugnessy and Hubert Laws, who had just been signed to CTI too), this new 2-CD set also includes both sides of an even rarest pre-CTI single (recorded in 1968 for the Rainy Day label) and nearly 20 demos that Kathy cut in Woodstock during the 1970s. All are from Kathy's own collection, and none has ever been released commercially prior to this CD.

"While the legendary Paul Butterfield was always a musical presence in the Woodstock community and offered his advice and commentaries freely, he was not on the sessions," Kathy says. "However Howard "HoJo" Johnson, the Brecker Bros., blues master Kal David, the multi-talented Marty Grebb and many others are, contributing their unique musical talents, for which I am eternally grateful."
The "many others" also include David Sanborn (on whose album "Promise Me the Moon" she would later appear), Amos Garrett, Tommy "T-Bone" Wolk, John Platania, Tom Malone, Lou Marini, Lew Del Gatto, and Levon Helm & Rick Danko (of The Band), along with vocal backing by the Voices of East Harlem.

Assembled with the full cooperation of Kathleen McCord and her brother, the equally-celebrated Billy Vera (both of whom contribute new sleeve notes), "New Jersey To Woodstock" is a musical journey very much worth taking.DISC ONE
Rainbow Ride
I'm Leaving Home (She's Leaving Home)
Candle Waxing
Baby James
The Love Flow
New York Good Sugar / Love Lyric #7
For You, Child
Take Away This Pain
Velvet Smile
(all from the CTI LP)
I'll Give My Heart to You
I'll Never Be Alone Again
(2 bonus tracks from the Rainy Day single)
New Horizons
Baby, Come Out Tonight
That's a Love That's Real
No Need to Wait
I'll Be Lovin' You Forever
Captain Cody Memorial
Keep Peace in the Family
You'd Convince the Devil
Who's Been Coolin' You?
Don't Go Talkin' to Strangers
Every Little Thing You Do
I Wanna Know Why
Shine On
(all 16 tracks previously unreleased)
Here are some images from the original CTI LP cover:
New text by Tony Rounce:

Had events taken a different turn, Kathy McCord might now be regarded as a 60s pop icon, rather than a cult heroine. It was her early mentor Chip Taylor’s intention that she would record the original of the now-classic ‘Angel Of The Morning’, but his partner Al Gorgoni favoured Evie Sands. Instead Kathy got to record a single for their Rainy Day label in 1968 that fell stillborn from the presses.

A year later, Kathy became the first non-jazz artist to be signed to Creed Taylor’s renowned CTI imprint. Her eponymous album featured musicians of the calibre of John Hall, future founder of Orleans, on guitar and flautist Hubert Laws. Its ethereal beauty failed to reach its intended audience, and it was not until years later – decades, even – that it started to achieve a belated recognition, particularly among those who enjoy the works of such McCord peers as Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan. Copies of the original LP have crept up in price and nowadays fetch a pretty penny when offered for sale. A limited edition Japanese CD from the mid-90s sold out almost before it hit the streets.

In the 21st century, the cult of Kat continues to snowball. When the opportunity arose for Ace to license and re-reissue “Kathy McCord”, we jumped at it. She is, after all, family by relation – her big brother Billy Vera has long been part of the Ace team, as both compiler and annotator. Billy is a thrilled as we are that we’re able to give his little sister the treatment that her small but mighty catalogue deserves. It was Billy who approached her on our behalf to see if she had unissued material lurking in corners or cupboards that we could use to make that catalogue even bigger.

To everyone’s delight, Kathy trawled through her tapes and found 16 tracks that make up CD2 of this set. The fi is not always hi on these, but her abundant talent shines through on each and every one of them. They were recorded at various times during the 1970s, while Kathy was living in Woodstock and hanging out with the likes of the Fabulous Rhinestones, Amos Garrett, Paul Butterfield and assorted members of the Band – most if not all of whom can be heard in this half of our programme.

Listening to the repertoire of “New Jersey To Woodstock”, it’s quite incredible that Kathy never got the kind of breaks that were afforded to considerably less talented contemporaries of hers. She had the look, and the looks. She wrote most of her own material and sung it with supreme confidence and soulfulness. Her lack of success can only be down to a matter of being on the wrong label, or in the wrong place, at the wrong time. But it’s never too late to travel from New Jersey To Woodstock, so buy your ticket and let Kathy McCord make your journey worthwhile.


Unknown said...

The Rainy Day single is a treat - I've loved it for years. I need to check out the rest of the set.

Unknown said...

I have loved the Rainy Day single since it first came out, and didn't know any more about this artist until very recently. I need to check out the 2 CD set; I'm sure it has been done with Ace's usual masterful touch.

Alain Manuel said...

Bonjour Arnaldo
Nouveau mini lp Kathy McCord