Oldies News & Notes: Reissues highlight works of Arthur Alexander, Beau Brummels and more!

By  Bill Dahl

Muscle Shoals soul pioneer Arthur Alexander waged a valiant comeback with his Ben Vaughn-produced 1993 Nonesuch album Lonely Just Like Me, only to die shortly after its release.

On Aug. 21, 2007, HackTone Records restores the poignant set, cut in Nashville with sidemen Dan Penn, Donnie Fritts and Reggie Young, to print. Subtitled The Final Chapter, it’s expanded with four songs from Alexander’s National Public Radio appearance, four “hotel-room demos” with Vaughn on guitar, and a rendition of his 1962 hit “Anna” taken from a gig at the Bottom Line.

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BeauBrummels66CD-01-01.jpgKnown for writing their own hits, the Beau Brummels went in the opposite direction on their first LP for Warner Bros., Beau Brummels 66, now on CD from Collectors’ Choice.

Fronted by Sal Valentino, the San Francisco rockers instead cut a dozen covers, giving distinctive treatments to songs by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Mamas and the Papas.

Not only did the Brummels try the war horses “Hang On Sloopy” and “Louie, Louie” on for size, they managed to transform “Bang Bang,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” into reasonable if unlikely vehicles.

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On July 31, Shout! Factory released a deluxe expanded version of Johnny Rivers’ Last Boogie in Paris album that sports eight previously unissued tracks, including renditions of Johnny Otis’ “Willie And The Hand Jive” and Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood.”

Originally released on Atlantic, the album was cut in 1973 at the Olympia Theatre in Paris with the L.A. Boogie Band, whose ranks encompassed guitarist Dean Parks, drummer Jim Gordon and saxophonist Jim Horn.

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Classics Records, a French reissue label that’s amassed a vast and valuable catalog of postwar R&B CDs over the last few years, is back in action.

First up is a 22-song collection by Billy Ward & His Dominoes titled 1953-1954 that covers the transitional period when Jackie Wilson took over from Clyde McPhatter as lead tenor of the popular vocal group. Discs by Ruth Brown, Jimmy McCracklin and alto sax ace Earl Bostic are next up on Classics’ release slate.

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