May 2, 2011 » Billboard
By Phil Gallo
High Moon Records, a specialty label focusing on the music of the 1960s and ’70s. held a record release party and concert April 29 recalling two Sunset Strip legends, Arthur Lee’s Love and the Byrds’ Gene Clark. Music from the label’s first two releases, Love’s “Black Beauty” and Clark’s “Two Sides to Every Story,” were played by musicians who backed the two late band leaders in the ’60s and ’70s.
The projects distinguish High Moon from other reissue labels — “Black Beauty,” recorded in 1973 by the only all-black lineup of Love, was never released; “Two Sides to Every Story” has been out of print in the United States for more than two decades. Initially scheduled for release on June 7, the two titles have been pushed back due to European rights issues and finalization of bonus tracks, label owner George Wallace said at the show held at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, Calif.
Wallace and the label’s general manager Craig Hyman said future projects include reissues of music from Lotti Golden and Sopwith Camel plus unreleased material from the Ace of Cups, the only all-female ’60s San Francisco band. They are also in talks to reissue the only Love album not in print, “Reel to Real,” and live recordings and video of various acts from the era.home
“We’re students of reissue labels,” said Wallace, who has based High Moon in New York with co-owner J.D. Martignon. “We see the great things that have been done and try to do them one step better — better packaging, more liner notes, more unpublished photographs.
“This is a way to beat downloading. There are still people out there looking for aesthetically pleasing packages. Almost anything can be made quasi-commercial if it is contextualized in the right way.”
Hyman, who sees the label’s mission being a rock ‘n’ roll version of the folk and blues anthropological work of Harry Smith and Alan Lomax, added, “We’re not going into this to have hits. It’s to honor a vision and a passion and build a catalog.” The Love album will be released on vinyl, CD and digitally; the Clark album, licensed by his estate and Universal Music, will be physical only.
For the record release party, which attracted an healthy crowd of fans of both bands, was the first reunion of Love’s Melvan Whittington, drummer Joe Blocker and bassist Sherwood Akuna in 34 years. Clark was represented by the band of his son Kai Clark, who played “Two Sides” straight through, and a reunion of the Gene Clark Group from 1966, whose set included the Byrds classics “Feel a Whole Lot Better” and “Eight Miles High.”
“After all these years I’m glad I got to see it come out,” said Whittington, who was in contact with Lee up to his death in 2006. “Arthur does some great vocals on that album. I like playing this music so if it happens to (lead to) more gigs, I’d like to have more opportunities to say ‘thank you, Arthur.'”
— Phil Gallo, Los Angeles
New Label To Release Love’s Black Beauty
On June 7, High Moon Records–the new boutique reissue label–will launch with Black Beauty, the never-before-released masterpiece by Arthur Lee’s legendary psychedelic rock band Love. Set for release on CD, vinyl, and digitally, Black Beauty contains all ten original songs recorded in 1973 as well as rare bonus tracks, beautiful packaging with detailed liner notes by Ben Edmonds and never-before-seen photographs. The album was re-mastered by GRAMMY-winner Dan Hersch (Ramones, Alice Cooper).
Love is widely considered one of the most influential bands of the psychedelic era, and ‘Black Beauty” has long represented the Holy Grail for Love enthusiasts. Shelved shortly after its completion when Lee”s then-label Buffalo Records folded, ‘Black Beauty” was previously available only as a low quality bootleg. David Fricke wrote about the album in his guide to Arthur Lee and Love bootlegs for Rolling Stone: “Black Beauty might have been received as a strong comeback for Lee, a turn to steamy R with heavy-guitar punch — if it had come out.”
Black Beauty is the missing link in a catalog that also includes Forever Changes, the classic 1967 Love album the New York Times called “one of the most affecting and beguiling albums of all time.” It features Lee”s first all-black lineup and marked his return to the studio after his 1972 solo debut Vindicator for A&M Records.
Arthur Lee – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Melvan Whittington – Lead Guitar
Robert Rozelle – Bass
Joe Blocker – Drums, Percussion
Co-founded by George Wallace (President), J.D. Martignon (Vice President) with Craig Hyman (General Manager/Consultant), High Moon Records is New York City-based reissue label, specializing in unearthing exceptional, rare, previously-unreleased, and out-of-print material on CD, vinyl, digital, DVD, and books — from the ’60s, ’70s and beyond. The catalogue will comprise essential releases, ranging from lesser-known gems, to cult legends, to acknowledged music visionaries.
“We are honored to be launching our label with a record as singular/special as Black Beauty, says Wallace. “It is that rarest of Rock artifacts: a never-before-released, full-length studio album, from an undisputed musical genius. With Black Beauty, Arthur Lee manages to combine searing ’70s rock with gorgeous melodies and stellar songwriting – all topped off by one of the most astounding vocal performances I’ve ever heard in any genre of music.”