An unreleased Michael Jackson song was previewed at the iHeartRadio Awards in L.A. “Love Never Felt So Good.” It was written in 1983 by Jackson and Paul Anka. The song appears on “XSCAPE,” a 17-track (the deluxe edition) album of previously unreleased Jackson songs that were recently enhanced in the studio to give the songs a more contemporary feel. The album will be released May 13.
At the awards show, Justin Timberlake appeared live to sing along with the track. The Jackson-Timberlake duet version of the song will be included in “ESCAPE’S” deluxe package. The song was previously recorded in 1984 by Johnny Mathis and Anka has been showcasing it during his concerts.
OBITS: LARRY RAMOS OF THE ASSOCIATION; JESSICA CLEAVES OF MAJOR SOUL GROUPS
Larry Ramos, the Hawaiian-born singer-guitarist who led ‘60s pop-rockers The Association for decades, died in Clarkson, Wash. at age 72, according to a post from his son on his Facebook page.
Ramos had battled several health issues in recent years and a bout with cancer forced his retirement from the group earlier this year.
After a stint in The New Christy Minstrels, Ramos joined The Association in early 1967 as lead guitarist and vocalist. A short time before he joined, the band began two years as one of the most popular groups on American radio.
Ramos performed on two of the group’s three No. 1 singles, “Windy” and “Never My Love,” both from 1967. Those two singles, plus the group’s first No. 1 biggie, “Cherish,” were all certified platinum and each sold more than 1 million copies. The band’s other Top 10 smashes include “Along Comes Mary” and “Every Thing That Touches You.”
In June that year, The Association opened the fabled Monterey Pop Festival, followed onstage by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Otis Redding, Simon and Garfunkel as well as The Mamas and The Papas.
Ramos continued to lead the band through the decades until this past February when both he and founding singer-guitarist Russ Giguere retired from touring.
Soul singing vet Jessica Cleaves, who co-founded The Friends of Distinction, died in Beverly Hills at age 65, according to NPR. The cause of death was not given.
Cleaves helped form vocal group The Friends of Distinction in L.A. in 1968. The band, discovered by football star-turned-actor Jim Brown, scored numerous R&B hits but is best remembered for a 1969 vocal version of Hugh Masekela’s instrumental “Grazing in the Grass” that hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop singles chart.
In 1972, Cleaves left The Friends for another band Brown discovered, Earth, Wind and Fire. She left that band the following year after recording a couple LPs with them, 1972’s “Last Days and Time” and 1973’s “Head to the Sky.” Later in the decade, she joined George Clinton and his space rockers Parliament-Funkadelic, with whom she remained through the mid-1990s. Her activities since leaving P-Funk are not known.
Among the recently released albums, digital reissues, MP3 downloads and deluxe box sets are the 11-song “Shine On,” the first album in four years from 46-year-old Nova Scotia soft rock songstress Sarah McLachlan, largely inspired by her father’s passing; “Natalie Merchant” is the sixth solo album from alt rocking former singer for 10,000 Maniac’s and is her first album in four years; and “Corazon” the first Spanish-language album from 66-year-old guitar deity Carlos Santana, sees him playing behind guests that include Juanes, Ziggy Marley, Gloria Estefan, and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs and also jazz sax legend Wayne Shorter.
A 2-CD/1-DVD set, “All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman,” sees the Allman Brothers veteran leader joined in concert at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre by his band as well as Sam and Dave survivor Sam Moore, John Hiatt, Dr. John, Keb’ ‘Mo, Taj Mahal. Susan Tedeschi and hubby Derek Trucks, Widespread Panic, steel pedal guitarist Robert Randolph, and country stars Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Trace Adkins, Eric Church and Zac Brown; “Road Shows 3,” from 83-year-old veteran sax player Sonny Rollins pulls live cuts recorded between 2001-2012; the nine-track “Someday World,” from art rocking former Roxy Music keyboardist and U2 producer Brian Eno and Karl Hyde sees them joined by Roxy Music saxophonist Andy Mackay and Coldplay drummer Will Champion.
“Supernova” is the fifth studio album in a decade from 40-year-old folk rocker Ray LaMontagne, who was inspired to become a singer-songwriter after listening to Stephen Stills’ 1972 2-LP, “Manassas”; a DVD, “A Celebration of Blues Soul: The 1989 Presidential Inaugural Concert” features performances from Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble “Superstition”), Willie Dixon with Albert Collins and Delbert McLinton (“Hoochie Coochie Man”), Percy Sledge (“When a Man Loves a Woman”), Bo Diddley (“I’m a Man”), Carla Thomas and Billy Preston (“When Something is Wrong With My Baby”), and Eddie Floyd (“Knock on Wood”).
Also, a 2-CD, “Live at Fillmore 1969” from England’s Move starring Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne; a 4-CD box set, “Complete Aristocrat & Chess Singles A’s & B’s 1947-62,” from Muddy Waters; a 3-CD box, “Complete US & UK Singles As & Bs 1955-62” from Connie Francis; and a 2-CD import, “All I Ever Wanted — the Anthology” from English New Wave pop singer Kirsty MacColl, who was killed in a boating accident in 2000 at age 41 while on vacation in Mexico.