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📣 News Burt Bacharach: The A&M Years...And More [Digital reissue]

I just noticed that A&M (via UMe) has digitally reissued a set similar to the Something Big: The Complete A&M Years box set. It looks like it was released March 24, 2023 to all the digital streaming/download platforms.

Burt Bacharach: The A&M Years...And More!

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The track list looks to be the same as the CD box set, including all the A&M albums, the single "Etta's Theme," "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle," and the tracks from the two overlapping albums on Kapp.

Just a cursory comparison to "Reach Out" the mastering appears to be the same for both. So, a straight reissue. If you missed the box set and can't find a used one for a reasonable cost, the digital version will get you Burt's entire A&M output, and many extras, all in one shot, in rather good sound quality.


Cost for the lossless CD-quality version in non-proprietary FLAC is currently $82.59 from Qobuz.



A lossy MP3 version from Amazon is currently $51.99 from Amazon.

Amazon product ASIN B0BZHKZ8GC
 
It's a great set. I'm glad I bought the CD set from Hip-O while it was in print. The price of the downloads certainly is better than the current price of the out-of-print set on Amazon: $499.

Amazon product ASIN B000AO773O
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Agreed--the downloads are a bargain in comparison. Granted, the liner notes and packaging are not part of the price with downloads, but at least the music is obtainable and includes practically everything UMe has in the vaults (all the albums, a couple of singles). The liner notes for downloads from places like Qobuz often provide the liner notes via an attached PDF file, but who knows if this stuff even still exists at UMe? Between burning up their vaults and being generally careless, it wouldn't surprise me if the art was deleted long ago from a corporate hard drive. (As I use Qobuz through Roon Player, if there is a PDF available, a link is provided right in the player to open it in a separate window. And there is no PDF associated with this title.)

In addition to what is on Amazon, Discogs has four sellers at the moment and pricing is in Euros, so, all are overseas. None are available in the US. Even the lowest price from Discogs history is $80, so it's definitely valuable. Wasn't the original Hip-O list price $89.99? I don't recall. That was also 19 years ago. Wow...19 years, and it seems like it was only a few years ago. 😕

Anyway, I'm glad it's available today, at least in digital form, so those who missed out the first time around still have a chance to hear all these albums.

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I plan to get this digitally as I missed out the first time especially for futures and woman and the extras this will definitely make a completion of my A&M Bacharach set
 
And Now I have it in all my devices but here's a twist I had a $50 credit because of a defective item I had to return so the credit paid for most of the cost and at the end It only cost me $2 kind of feels like a huge bargain to me I been listening to it and everything sounds very good the bonuses are great too the regular albums sound very much improved to my ears and I finally have Futures and Woman now my Bacharach collection is complete
 
It's amazing how well that Bacharach music has endured. I don't really listen to any other "orchestral" music, but the Bacharach A&M albums are irreplaceable to me. Desert island stuff. For full album listening I pull out the first five the most, and Woman and Futures less often, but I have favorite songs on those albums too.
 
In my case, I find it's the self-titled, Futures, and Woman that I listen to the most. I think the latter two because they were so different to his other recordings. Futures takes a while to grow on a person since these are difficult and often moody songs that take repeated listens to appreciate, and Burt is exploring new territory post-Hal David. Woman is what Burt called his "expensive failure" but has to be one of the most sophisticated instrumental recordings I've heard--pop-leaning instrumentals in an orchestral setting (with drum kit, bass and guitar). That same spirit is why I like the self-titled record, especially "Wives and Lovers" (shed of its embarrassing lyrics) and "And The People Were With Her."
 
Those are two tours de force for sure. There really isn't a song I don't like on the self-titled album. My favorite songs on Woman are "New York Lady" and "There is Time," and on Futures I tend to like "When You Bring Your Sweet Love to Me," "Another Spring Will Rise," "The Young Grow Younger Every Day" and the title track the most. Oh and "Time And Tenderness." Almost any Bacharach instrumental will be on my list.
 
Almost any Bacharach instrumental will be on my list.
An interesting playlist is to take the instrumental songs that Bacharach apparently wrote for each album and compile them. It's makes for a nice listen. I also include "Wives and Lovers" even though it technically doesn't fit, but since it was essentially completely rearranged (almost rewritten) for an orchestral treatment, it is a good one to include. "Nikki" gets a vote also.

I'm pretty certain these are all what I'm thinking of (pulled from his albums in order):

Pacific Coast Highway
She's Gone Away
Nikki
Wives and Lovers
And The People Were With Her
Free Fall
Monterey Peninsula
Futures
Another Spring Will Rise
Time and Tenderness

Ten songs make for two nice album sides.

Bonus tracks would be any non-vocal songs from Woman:

Summer of '77
Woman
Magdalena
New York Lady
The Dancing Fool (even though I don't like the song at all, and suspect it might have vocals as it's co-credited to Anthony Newley)

And one could throw in a handful from Butch Cassidy, eliminating duplicate themes:

The Sundance Kid
Not Goin' Home Anymore
South American Getaway (the scat vocals are wordless, so I'm OK with those)
The Old Fun City

Finally, to stretch it even further, throw on the tracks from At This Time:

In Our Time
Danger
 
I just wonder if the releasing of this set doesn't contain a little tiny bit of this attitude from Universal: "See, we didn't lose everything in the fire! Look at this complete set of Burt Bacharach!" (All of course from the Hip-O mastering.)
 
Probably some of that, and a little bit of, "Let'$ ca$h in on Burt $ince the box $et i$ out of print." 😁 But to their credit, at least it's not sitting in a vault somewhere for all eternity, and there is now a way to get ahold of the set again.

Sadly, keeping the shareholders happy is why storage facilities catch on fire, and also why having no good backup copies will bite someone in the end. I'd say 25 or more years ago, Sony began archiving all of their masters to DSD. So even if the masters were destroyed somehow, the DSD copies are very high resolution copies that can serve all sorts of purposes--cutting to vinyl, downsampling and releasing on CD or through streaming and downloads, etc. And copying a digital file incurs no loss in quality, so a backup stored in an alternate location is a perfect replica of the original--the only added cost is storage space on a file server.

I think Legacy (Sony) see themselves as being caretakers for an artist's body of work, as opposed to Universal seeing storage and backup as a debit on a balance sheet.
 
There's another nice instrumental for the list above -- it's the side-two opener of the soundtrack "Arthur 2 On the Rocks," called "The Best of Times." The original album never came out on CD to my knowledge, all I ever had of it it was an LP, and on that record the high-hat cymbals were kind of overmodulated and sounded mushy, for lack of a better description. Of course the album was not a hit (since the movie flopped) but that song has some very good sax and trumpet work in it.

Listening to it now via a distorted version on YouTube, it's pretty dated to the '80s, moreso than Bacharach's other instrumentals -- mostly due to the keyboards.
 
I stuck to A&M-only tracks in the list (I probably wouldn't add the two At This Time tracks--I honestly don't like that album), but an expanded version could pull in quite a few more tracks from other albums. The original Arthur soundtrack also had some decent instrumentals on side two. There are some from the Casino Royale soundtrack that I'd use, and possibly After The Fox, but many of those don't really sit too well outside the context of a soundtrack album as they are more tied to visual cues in the film.

It's hard to find a good listing of Bacharach albums since so many lists or sites lump in all the various artists compilations of his compositions under his name. Much of that can be blamed on the budget labels who tag Bacharach as the album artist, where he should only be tagged as a composer.
 
My dad always had a radio playing at work. I remember hearing "Bond Street" on the radio when I was working at the store as a teenager. They also played "Are You There (With Another Girl)." I remember hearing quite a few of the classic A&M tunes on that station -- even "After Sunrise" by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '77. The same station is still broadcasting today, but now they're a classic country station.
 
The track list looks to be the same as the CD box set, including all the A&M albums, the single "Etta's Theme," "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle," and the tracks from the two overlapping albums on Kapp.

Just a cursory comparison to "Reach Out" the mastering appears to be the same for both. So, a straight reissue.

On Amazon Music "Unlimited," the set does not include the two B.J. Thomas vocals from "Butch Cassidy"... "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head," and "On A Bicycle Built For Joy." I wonder if those songs are on the CD issue, or is just a fluke with Amazon Music "Unlimited?"

I guess there really ARE limits after all.
 
Yes, the B.J.Thomas tracks that appeared on A&M are on the Hip-O CD box set.
 
On Amazon Music "Unlimited," the set does not include the two B.J. Thomas vocals from "Butch Cassidy"... "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head," and "On A Bicycle Built For Joy." I wonder if those songs are on the CD issue, or is just a fluke with Amazon Music "Unlimited?"

I guess there really ARE limits after all.
I checked on Spotify, and those two songs are also missing from the Butch Cassidy soundtrack album.
 
They’re both on the ITunes version of the soundtrack, but you have to purchase the entire album to get them.
 
On my version the two BJ Thomas tracks are missing I suspect there were Licensing and clearance issues but thankfully I have those two already from past needledrops so it's not really an issue for me
 
On Amazon Music "Unlimited," the set does not include the two B.J. Thomas vocals from "Butch Cassidy"... "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head," and "On A Bicycle Built For Joy." I wonder if those songs are on the CD issue, or is just a fluke with Amazon Music "Unlimited?"
Those two tracks are not licensed to streaming. I needed one of those for a project I was working on and couldn't locate an official A&M/UMe version on YouTube Music. I'm not sure if it's the label that B.J. Thomas was contracted to at the time, or if it's a restriction the artist, or artist's estate, has in place, but any other "official" version of "Raindrops" isn't the one that appeared on A&M. They are very close (perhaps alternate takes) but I did hear differences between his label's version vs. A&Ms. At this point, it's nothing I would waste even a microsecond of my time comparing as I simply don't care, and I already have the Hip-O box.
 
If the opening line is:

"Raindrops keep fallin' on my head" - then it's the A&M soundtrack version from BUTCH CASSIDY.

"Raindrops are fallin' on my head" - then it's the Sceptre Records version.
 
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