News From Old Friends: James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Big Star, Hot Rize, Led Zep and Vashti Bunyan

I have been meaning to share a big mountain of cool news regarding reissues and returns of bands from the past. Hopefully, I’m not too far behind the curve in sharing.

This Friday, the new James Brown bio-pix Get On Up is coming out and Shout! Factory is celebrating with a gift to all music fans. From Aug. 1 through the 10th, they will a free stream, in its entirety, of its 3-disc DVD set I Got The Feelin’: James Brown In The ‘60s on the James Brown YouTube Channel and Pluto.TV. If you gotta, gotta, gotta have your own version, the set will have a special sale price during that period at the (which also has all the details on this event).


It’s Rock & Roll Time again for Jerry Lee Lewis. The music hall of famer and legendary American bad boy has a star-studded album coming out on Vanguard on Oct. 28. Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young and Shelby Lynne are among the contributors to this album, which finds Lewis covered songs by Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Reed. Oct. 28 also is the day that his biography Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story comes out.

September gurls will have it bad this September 2nd as that is the day Stax Records will be reissuing a pair of landmark albums – Big Star’s #1 Record and Radio City. Both have been unavailable for quite a while as single CDs. The reissues will come remastered and with new liner notes from R.E.M.’s Mike Mills. Coinciding with these Sept. 2 release, there will be several shows from Big Star’s Third, an ensemble featuring Big Star’s Jody Stephens along with Mike Mills, Chris Stamey, Ken Stringfellow and other musicians who are big Big Star fans.


“Dancing days are here again” for Zeppelin fans as Rhino continues its Led Zep reissue campaign. Slated for an Oct. 28 release (nicely timed with Halloween) will be deluxe editions of Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy. Looking over the songlist, it’s impressive how even a casual Zeppelin fan like myself knows all of these songs – thank you WMMS.

Also slated for the Halloween season is a reissue of We Are Times by the influential early ‘80s post-punk band The Pop Group as well as a rarities compilation intriguingly entitled Cabinet of Curiosities. A more melodic UK band, Teenage Fanclub will see two of their Merge albums – Man-Made and Shadows re-issued on Aug. 5 on vinyl no less, as part of the label’s 25th anniversary series. Oasis will once again ask the musical question: What’s The Story Morning Glory?, when the group unveils a deluxe version of the popular 1996 album.

Iain Matthews will see his 1978 Stealin’ Home album get the reissue treatment on Sept. 9. The album, which is coming out on Omnivore, was one of his more popular albums, with “Shake It” landing as a Top 20 single. Trivia fans will be interested to note – if they don’t know already – that the album was credited to Ian Matthews. This reissue comes packed with 9 live tracks too.

Willie Hutch

Willie Hutch

Real Gone Music has another batch of cool reissues readied for September. Soul brothers and sisters can dig a Willie Hutch set that showcases the well-known writer/producer/Blaxploitation score composer’s own music as well as an expanded edition of Esther Phillips’ 1973 soul/jazz outing Alone Again Naturally and a twofer representing renown session singer’s Ullanda McCullough’s solo efforts from the early ‘80s. Real Gone has heads north of the border for a greatest hits package of Canadian country music legend Ray Griff.

Hot news in the bluegrass world is the reunion of the Hot Rize. The landmark modern bluegrass quartet (featuring founding members Nick Forster, Tim O’Brien and Pete Wernick along with Bryan Sutton) has putting out their first album in nearly a quarter century – When I’m Free arrives Sept. 30 through Thirty Tigers.

P.F. Sloan

P.F. Sloan

In the 1960’s P.F. Sloan was one of the top American pop/rock songwriters, penning hits like “Eve of Destruction,” “You Baby” and “Secret Agent Man.” He has made his first album in nearly 10 years. My Beethoven is an orchestral outing that reflects Sloan’s longstanding admiration for Beethoven. Sloan also has written an autobiography What’s Exactly The Matter With Me!

It’s also has been around a decade since former Squirrel Nut Zippers frontman Tom Maxwell has put out a album, but he has not only has a new CD (Tom Maxwell & The Minor Drag) but has written a memoir too. Maxwell’s record and the book both have an August 26 release date.

Vashti Bunyan continues her return to the music scene. The cult folkie will be putting out just her third album (her first was in 1970 and her second was in 2005). Heartleap is slated for an Oct. 7 release on DiCristina in the U.S. The name Karen Haglof might not ring many bells but underground music scenesters of the ‘80s will remember her playing with Rhys Chatham and in the group Band of Susans. Haglof now is a doctor but she has recorded her first solo album, which features contributions from Mitch Easter and Steve Almaas (raise your hand if you remember Beat Rodeo, people!)

About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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