Top Ten Posthumous Releases of 2017

Posted by Billyjam, December 19, 2017 11:45pm | Post a Comment

10: The upcoming year-end December 23rd 2017 release of King Capital is the most anticipated of
the year among Pro Era hip-hop fans. Avid followers of the Brooklyn hip-hop collective's late founder, who committed suicide half a decade ago while still in his teens, have been patiently awaiting Capital STEEZ's posthumous debut studio album since the Brooklyn artist born Courtney Jamal Dewar, Jr.'s tragic 2012 self-inflicted death seven months before his 20th birthday. And now thanks to such friends as Joey Bada$$, who announced the release during the third annual STEEZ Day Festival, the late artist's long overdue album is finally going to drop.

9: Easystreet
Into The Stars (no label). A little over exactly one year ago the Bay Area underground arts/music scene suffered a devastating blow with the deadly fire at Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse that took the lives of 36 people: most local artists who died from smoke inhalation. These included Chelsea Faith Dolan (aka KALX DJ and Not Not Fun record label artist Cherushii) and Travis Hough, aka the electronic dance duo of Velvet Chang and Michael Blitzen, whom together made up the Italodisco act Easystreet. Since the December 2016 deadly inferno, good friend and frequent music collaborator of Dolan and Hough’s, Eric Bateman painstakingly produced the posthumous seven song Easystreet mini LP Into The Stars. This he meticulously did by culling various digital media sound file components uncovered in the two late artists’ archives of demos, rough takes, and live concert recordings. Additionally for the duo’s unfinished piano balled “Places (I Will Never Go),” Bateman assembled about a dozen singing friends of the artists who, dubbing themselves the “Easystreet Choir,” held a successful recording session at Berkeley’s Fantasy Studios. That session completed Bateman’s posthumous production of Easystreet’s Into The Stars which was released last month as a lovingly made, albeit very underground, release with no label and only 100 copies pressed up.

8: J Dilla's Motor City (Ma Dukes Official) is just one of the 2017 posthumous releases from the beloved Detroit producer/rapper J Dilla (aka Jay Dee) who died back in 2006. Since then both his popularity and his catalog have grown substantially.  Two other 2017 posthumous releases by the artist that were vinyl releases on the recent Black Friday Record Store Day, J Dilla’s Delights Vol I  and Vol II, each sold out quickly at Amoeba. So too did the June 2017 vinyl release Jay Dee's  Ma Dukes Collection. Curated by Dilla’s mother “Ma Dukes,” the recommended Motor City was accurately reviewed by Amoeba in part as transcending simple archivist motivations while "framed as a handwritten letter to her son in the form of rare recordings sequenced together, with a  flow that emulates the effortless continuity of his most legendary release, Donuts."

Sean Price Imperius Rex (also on  vinyl/LP) (Duck Down). Back in August 2015, highly revered and most prolific 43 year old Brownsville, Brooklyn emcee great Sean Price passed in his sleep. Price had spent two decades building a rep via his membership of such groups as Heltah SkeltahRandom Axe, and the Boot Camp Clik crew in addition to his solo work and seemingly endless collaborations on others' projects. Even in the two years since the Duck Down Music artist's passing numerous guest verses of his have surfaced on other artists' tracks. Then this year his guest-heavy posthumous solo studio album Imperius Rex (also on  vinyl/LP) was finally released. His fourth solo studio album, the follow up to 2012's Mic Tyson, Imperius Rex  is an amazing hip-hop album boasting an impressively long list of collaborators who all perfectly compliment Price's flow. These include DOOM, Styles P, Method Man, Raekwon and Prodigy of Mobb Deep who himself passed away earlier this year from sickle-cell anemia at age 42.

6: Prince 4Ever [Box Set] (LP), which was released in late 2016 in CD format, was released as a 4 LP vinyl set in 2017 by Warner. 4Ever is a hits-packed collection by the iconic artist who died April 21, 2016, at his Minneapolis area Paisley Park compound. It's comprised of mostly singles' edits (shorter than the albums or extended mixes of songs) of three dozen plus familiar Prince songs including "Let's Go Crazy," "1999," "When Doves Cry,"  "Controversy,"  "When You Were Mine," "Purple Rain" and "Kiss." Also included, as well as an engaging booklet, is one previously unreleased track: "Moonbeam Levels."  4Ever was just one of many Prince vinyl releases from Warner in 2017. Others included vinyl reissues of such singles as "Pop Life" 12" and such album reissues as LoveSexy and the Batman OST. Back in April on the one-year anniversary of Prince's passing Rogue Music Alliance was to release the six-song EP Deliverance of all newly unveiled Prince material, recorded between 2006 and 2008. However within 24 hours of its intended release date the posthumous EP had been put under a restraining order to sell and  removed from all outlets following Prince's estate and Paisley Park Enterprises swiftly filing a lawsuit against the artist & sound engineer George Ian Boxill who had co-written and co-produced the EP's tracks with Prince.  Meantime Chaka Khan announced earlier this year that she is in possession of a bunch of tracks that she and Prince recorded at her home studio sometime before his death that she plans on releasing in 2018. Add that to the thousands of unheard Prince tracks, estimated to amount to an album's worth every year for the next century, that are sitting in the late great artist's famous Vault filled with recordings and Prince will likely become the most prolific posthumous artist of all time.

5: Michael Jackson, who tops Forbes magazine's list of top earning deceased artists (ahead of such other musicians as Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix), had the successful 2017 album release Scream (also as the 2LP vinyl release). MJ's first new title since 2014's Xscape, Scream was released by Epic/Sony via Michael Jackson's estate and billed as the “perfect collection of 13 all-time electrifying dance classics and fan favorites.” In addition to such MJ tracks as "Thriller," "Scream," "Dangerous" and "Blood On The Dance Floor," the newly packaged collection also included Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" and The Jacksons' songs "Torture" and "This Place Hotel (AKA Heartbreak Hotel)."  The 14 track release also featured one never-before-heard track entitled “Blood On The Dance Floor x Dangerous (The White Panda Mash-Up)” which is a 3 minute, 40 second five-song MJ mash-up. 

4: Gregg Allman's posthumous album Southern Blood (also in Deluxe CD/DVD edition and on vinyl/LP) was released by Rounder Records four months after the death of the rock n' blues pioneer / co-founder of The Allman Brothers Band (with his late brother, Duane Allman) who died on May 27th 2017 at age 69. Back in November of last year Gregg Allman announced to fans how he would be taking several months off from touring to "focus on his health.”  Then six months later on May 27th 2017 the rock and blues pioneer, who had undergone a liver transplant seven years ago, died from "complications of liver cancer" according to his press representative. His death came just four months after fellow Allman Brothers member, drummer Butch Trucks' death from apparent suicide in January. With Southern Blood, Allman left fans with the perfect parting gift: an album packed blues smothered guitars and haunting melodies of others' music (except for one song he co-wrote) that, with producer Don Was, took it back to his roots by recording at FAME Studios  in Muscle Shoals, Alabama where along with his brother Duane he had recorded back in the late 1960's and where the Allman Brothers held their very first rehearsals.

3: George Michael
died one year ago on Christmas Day (December 25th) 2016 at age 53. Thirty years ago the blue-eyed soul singer released his post Wham! solo hit debut album Faith. Three years later he followed it up with LIsten Without Prejudice Vol 1; the 48 minute, ten track album featuring such songs as "Freedom 90," "Praying For Time," "Heal The Pain" and "Soul Free." A couple of months ago SONY/Legacy reissued a remastered version of Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 on LP and other formats that packaged it with a 21 year old live concert and more. These included as the 2CD set LIsten Without Prejudice Vol. 1 / MTV Unplugged and as the Deluxe Edition 3CD + DVD set of Prejudice. with regular album, the live album, DVD version, plus B-sides and rarities by the artist. The bonus MTV Unplugged concert was recorded on October 11th, 1996 at London's Three Mills Island Studios with highlights including renditions of such songs as "Heal The Pain" and "Waiting For The Day." The 2017 release, that went to #1 in the artist's native Britain, was released just after the screening of Channel 4's new Freedom documentary that was co-directed and narrated by George Michael just before his death last year.

2: David Bowie No Plan (Columbia/Legacy) (also on 12" vinyl) was the extended play (EP) four song  posthumous release from David Bowie and featuring the four songs: "Lazarus," "No Plan," "Killing A Little Time" and "When I Met You." The EP was released one year after the sudden death of the longtime pop/rock icon who died from liver cancer (something he had not publicly announced).  Bowie's Januay 10th 2016 passing came just a couple of days after his 69th birthday and also of the release of his 25th studio album; the critically acclaimed Blackstar (also on vinyl/LP). And if the tracks contained on No Plan, which compiles the original songs written for the Bowie's Broadway musical Lazarus, capture a similar vibe to Blackstar, that's perhaps because they were all recorded during the Blackstar studio sessions. In fact the No Plan song "Lazarus" already appeared on the Blackstar album: a release whose cover art is similar to No Plan. All four songs appeared on the October 2016 soundtrack album version of Lazarus, recorded by the New York cast of the musical. Besides No Plan other 2017 Bowie releases included a 40th anniversary picture disc 7" single of "Heroes," the concert recording Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles '74), the vinyl/LP reissue by SONY UK of the 2003 album Reality, and the exhaustive 13-LP compilation collection, released by Parlaphone Denmark A New Career In A New Town [1977 - 1982] 13 LP set that was also released as an 11 CD box set. Both formats of this deep box set (ideal holiday gift for the special Bowie fan in your life) featuring remastered and some exclusive materials also includes a thick hard cover book on the unique artist that was David Bowie. For even more Bowie releases in 2017 and 2016 (many vinyl) and from previous years check out the full David Bowie Amoeba Online section.

1: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Soul Of A Woman (also on vinyl/LP) from Daptone Records is the final album from soul singer and friend of Amoeba Sharon Jones who died on November 18th 2016 at age 60 from pancreatic cancer. Read the Amoeblog tribute to the Dap-Kings' front woman that was written upon her passing and within the week of the release of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings' holiday album (on green vinyl) It's A Holiday Soul Party.  That Amoeblog post includes links to many of her other memorable recordings in addition to video clips including a trailer for her movie Miss Sharon Jones! plus her engaging What's In My Bag? segment at Amoeba Hollywood.

A powerful force both in life and in death Jones' swan song Soul Of A Woman "bursts with hope, joy, and love....flying high on classic soul and powerful gospel vibes, " as accurately articulated by Amoeba reviewers who perfectly dubbed this farewell album by the talented Jones as, "a lasting monument to the singer and her amazing career!" Note that this album was also released as a nicely priced 3CD box set that in addition to Soul Of A Woman also includes the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings albums Give The People What They Want (2013) and
I Learned The Hard Way (2010).

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Michael Jackson (57), Best Of 2017 Posthumous Releases (1), Soul Of A Woman (1), Sharon Jones (9), Gregg Allman (1), Best Of 2017 (19), Prince (64), J Dilla (36)