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Archive for March 2010

The Not-So-Finer Things

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The announcement of Revelutions: The Very Best of Steve Winwood – a new compilation from Island available as either a single-disc compilation or a four-disc box set – should be exciting. Winwood is a hell of a musician whose illustrious career has seen him work with Blind Faith, Traffic and The Spencer Davis Group, not to mention his own successful solo work.

But this set is boring, not just for its lack of vault content but because it’s essentially been released before. The Finer Things was a 1995 box set that covered Winwood’s career just as well; the choice to regurgitate much of the same material from the earlier set on Revolutions is kind of sad. (All told, about 40 of the 63 tracks from The Finer Things end up on this set.) You’d think the money could be better spent by at least repressing some of his material back on CD (a lot of those solo albums before “Higher Love” are hard to come by.)

Then of course, there’s the inexplicable omission of “Roll with It,” a four-week No. 1 hit in the U.S., from the box set track list. (It is included on the single-disc Revolutions – here’s hoping for a typo).

Anyway, if you’d at least like to see what’s going to be on the box set, you can have a go at the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 31, 2010 at 20:20

In Case You Missed It: Monsieur Hathaway

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A little bit of old news for you, but a must-know if you didn’t already: the folks at Rhino have put together Someday We’ll All Be Free, a four-disc overview of soul singer Donny Hathaway’s brief but powerful career. The set includes all four studio albums, a heap of live tracks, and seven previously unreleased recordings.

Here’s the catch, though: it seems that it’s only available – as a 5,000-copy limited edition, at that – in France. While I had little to no idea of Hathaway’s apparently strong French fanbase (strong enough to warrant such a set, at least), I suppose there’s a first time for everything – and hopefully the seven vault tracks will make their way to our shores before too long.

In the meantime, fans who need to fully flesh out their collection can take a look at the set’s Amazon page or hit the jump for the specs. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 31, 2010 at 00:13

Guessing Game: Devo – “New Traditionalists” (UPDATED 3/30)

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It was recently announced that, not long after Devo’s Duty Now for the Future reissue and upcoming new single, Warner Bros. will be continuing the reissue chain with New Traditionalists, the band’s fourth LP from 1981, due back in stores on May 11.

To date, no bonus tracks have been announced. Prior reissues have seen bonus tracks ranging from new live material (the 2009 live performance of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! that accompanied the reissue of the original) to old live material (the DEV-O Live EP was added to the Freedom of Choice reissue) or just a bunch of B-sides (as is the case on the forthcoming Duty Now for the Future reissue).

With all of this in mind, it seemed like a good idea to pore through some tracks that might be included.

  • “Working in the Coalmine”: this song was cut from New Traditionalists but, after being a minor hit from the Heavy Metal soundtrack, it was included as a bonus 7″ single with the album itself. There’d be no reason not to include it, honestly.
  • “Mecha-Mania Boy”: a non-LP single that was included on the Infinite Zero reissue of New Traditionalists in 1997 (along with “Coalmine” and the next track.
  • “Nu-Tra Speaks (New Traditionalist Man)”: A spoken-word transmission for the Devo devotees that was the B-side to the “Beautiful World” 7″ picture-disc and included on the Infinite Zero reissue.
  • The Dance Velocity Remixes: While they’re not for everybody, there was a 7″ single pressed with remixes of “Through Being Cool” and “Going Under” that, as far as I know, haven’t seen a CD release.
  • Devo on Fridays: In October of 1981, Devo made their final of three appearances on the cult comedy show Fridays. The band performed five songs in total – “Adventures of the Smart Patrol,” “Jerkin’ Back ‘N’ Forth,” “I Saw Jesus,” “Through Being Cool” and “Working in the Coalmine.” View them all here.
  • Demos: The Recombo DNA demo compilation by Rhino Handmade included demos of “I Saw Jesus,” “Pity You,” “Beautiful World” and “The Super Thing” (under the title “Psychology of Desire”), and the Rykodisc Hardcore Devo collection of pre-Warner demos included a version of “Working in the Coalmine.” Perhaps these (or others as yet unreleased) might be dusted off for the reissue.

UPDATE: Anti-Music has posted the full track list, including six bonus tracks, for New Traditionalists – and The Second Disc got two of them right! Check out the full track list after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 30, 2010 at 22:15

Posted in Devo, News, Reissues

Reissue Theory: Tracy Chapman, “Tracy Chapman”

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We music fans live for that moment when a song comes from nowhere – through a radio, perhaps, or more likely through your computer speakers nowadays – grabs us and doesn’t let go. That was undoubtedly the case with “Fast Car,” the first single by singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman.

The song – for the ten or so of you who might have missed it over the better part of 20 years – is an achingly bittersweet, first-person ballad about a woman planning to escape her impoverished, broken family only to fall into the same hardships herself with the man she loves. The rapid delivery of the lyrics – sung in Chapman’s beautiful low voice without sounding overwrought – is balanced with those chords coming out of her acoustic guitar, particularly the moving bridge sequence that just knots your stomach with those lines at the end: “I had a feeling that I belonged/I had a feeling I could be someone.”

It’s hard to believe that, by all accounts, Chapman had a long, hard road to major-label success (Rolling Stone once reported that she sent a demo to a label which turned her down and suggested she learn how to tune her guitar). Frankly, had “Fast Car” not become a Top 10 hit and Chapman not won three Grammys (including Best New Artist) that year, it’s hard to imagine the next decade being as populated with such strong female singer-songwriters as Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morrissette or Tori Amos.

It’s harder still to realize that, as Tracy Chapman the album gets older, it hasn’t seen the kind of reissue that such a lauded record usually gets. To honor her achievements (not to mention her 46th birthday, which is today), why don’t we take a look at how a re-release might go down, the Reissue Theory way. Hit the jump and keep on drivin’. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 30, 2010 at 09:48

Posted in Features, Reissues, Tracy Chapman

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Rarities Editions: Round Two

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The Second Disc did a run-through earlier this month concerning Universal Music Enterprises’ “Rarities Editions,” repackagings of the second discs of various Universal Deluxe Editions. Some of them were worth it if you avoided buying the Deluxe Edition before, but a few lacked the bonus tracks that were on some of the deluxe titles’ first discs.

However, they must have been enough of a success for UMe, because another seven in the series have been announced for April 27. Thus, it would be worth taking a look at these titles and assessing their worth to you, the buyer. Read on after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 30, 2010 at 00:54

News Round-Up: Broken Wings, Hendrix Rocks, Phish in Exile and Film Score Tidbits

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  • A big reissue is coming from indie reissue label Friday Music: a 25th anniversary reissue of Welcome to the Real World, the 1985 sophomore LP by Mr. Mister. This record, which spawned the Top 10 hits “Broken Wings,” “Kyrie” and “Is It Love,” is remastered direct from RCA’s original master tapes and comes in a digipak. (No bonus tracks, but outside of a dance mix and dub for “Is It Love,” there were none, really.) Amazon has this one listed for an April 20 release. (Thanks to Pause & Play for the release date heads-up.)
  • If any readers play the Rock Band series of video games, a heap of downloadable content is coming your way from Experience Hendrix. Starting tomorrow, fans will be able to download Axis: Bold as Love (less the opening track “EXP”), along with the new vault cut “Valleys of Neptune” from the recent compilation of the same name. It looks to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Experience Hendrix and Rock Band developer Harmonix; “Fire” was included in last year’s LEGO Rock Band game, and rumors have been floating around regarding a Hendrix-exclusive title in the series may hit stores by the end of the year, as well as other Hendrix-branded content for the game series.
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, previously announced to celebrate the upcoming Exile on Main St. reissue with a week of artists revisiting tracks from the record, have named the first musical guest to contribute. Jam band extraordinaire Phish, who performed the album in its entirety for their annual Halloween cover album gig in 2009, will play Fallon’s studio in Rockefeller Center on Thursday, May 13, as tweeted by Questlove, drummer for Late Night house band The Roots.
  • Film score aficionados might want to read this great interview with Michael V. Gerhard, co-founder of score reissue label La-La Land Records. In addition to all but confirming the forthcoming expanded release of David Arnold’s score to Independence Day (take a close look at the banner of covers on the left side of the page), M.V. also hints at some other forthcoming releases from his label. To wit: scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Les Baxter, Danny Elfman, Michael Kamen and John Williams will all see releases from La-La Land, and Gerhart adds that he “[has] a feeling” fans will see releases for Independence Day (duh), Spartacus (likely from Varese Sarabande) and Leonard Roseman’s score to hilarious B-horror film The Car (a genuine, welcome surprise) this year as well.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 29, 2010 at 23:52


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Hooray! Slicing Up Eyeballs reports that the triple-disc reissue of Disintegration by The Cure seems to finally have a release date. The reissue press release was recently posted to The Cure’s official site with a May 24 release date from Polydor/Universal in the U.K.

Hopefully this means a May 25 release from Rhino in the U.S. will be locked down before long. There have been far too many inexplicable delays of ’80s reissues in the States lately. Stay tuned as always for more!

Written by Mike Duquette

March 29, 2010 at 13:38

Posted in News, Reissues, The Cure

Reissue Theory: a-ha – “Scoundrel Days”

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The Ending on a High Note Tour, the farewell trek by synthpop legends a-ha, has been in full swing for some time now. In about a month, the band takes their show to the U.S.A., a country that knows them for that first great hit “Take on Me,” but little else.

Readers of The Second Disc, however, likely know that the band continued to succeed (particularly in Europe and South America) through the mid-1990s and again in 2000, when comeback album Minor Earth, Major Sky earned them a new generation of fans. (Less discussed is the fact that in the same year, U2 had a massive hit that sounds just a bit similar to one of a-ha’s other U.S. Top 20 hits – and a band whose lead singer loves a-ha went mainstream.)

Still, unless you’re a diligent fan, it can be tough to figure out what goes where in the discography. For years – years – I thought the band’s second LP was Stay on These Roads (1988), and was therefore surprised to discover Scoundrel Days, the band’s actual second record. It’s possible that, due to this error, I have a softer spot for the big tracks on Roads (the title track, “The Blood That Moves the Body,” “The Living Daylights”) – but that’s not to count out Scoundrel Days at all. It sounds rawer and edgier than their debut, and possesses that dark kind of ambience that good synth-driven records can provide.

It seems the band (or at least Warner Music Group) likes Scoundrel Days as well; this Norwegian article which you will likely be unable to read mentions in the second-to-last paragraph a bunch of potential future a-ha releases, including deluxe versions of Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days. (A major hat tip to faithful reader Don, who sent this link some time ago – you have not been forgotten!)

While the honchos at Rhino may very well be poring through the vaults to come up with nice track lists for these potential reissues, it can’t hurt to take a look at what’s there, Reissue Theory-style. (It also doesn’t hurt to note that a previous RT post on Hunting High and Low is one of the most popular posts on The Second Disc.)

You know where to find the tracks! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 29, 2010 at 10:54

Posted in a-ha, Features, Reissues

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One of the biggest unasked or unanswered questions about The Second Disc is: why catalogue stuff? Is the site meant to conjure up memories of musical generations past? Is it trying to remind labels that their back catalogues should be treated with the utmost care in conjunction with their burgeoning new acts? Is there something else about it? The answers are maybe, yes and yes.

At heart, though, The Second Disc has more to do with journalism than anything. Journalism, they say, is the first draft of history. And while that industry is generally doing no better than the music industry, the application of journalistic skills is something that must not be devalued. Telling various stories from various perspectives – be it reissues, compilations or box sets – can be wildly beneficial to the public’s understanding or enjoyment of certain artists.

That’s why it always seems weird when certain “no-brainers” of the catalogue world just don’t happen. For instance, it would be a no-brainer to reissue Cold Spring Harbor, Billy Joel’s first LP, including both the original mix (albeit speed-corrected) from 1971 and the (admittedly sterile) 1983 remix that graces CD today. Same goes for mono issues of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first two LPs.

The list goes on and on, of course, and that’s where you come in. In your mind, what is the most obvious reissue, expansion or compilation that just hasn’t happened yet?

Written by Mike Duquette

March 29, 2010 at 10:51

Posted in Features, Open Forum

Reissue Theory: More Novelties

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It’s almost the weekend, which hopefully means for you, the reader, a few days of fun and frolic. To that end, let’s get the fun started early with a few particularly goofy Reissue Theory novelties. One is a one-hit wonder who managed to combine New Wave and a slightly older generation of music, and the other is an inexplicably house-oriented companion piece to a popular video game. Bet you won’t find that combination anywhere else on the Internet today!

Hit the jump to see which red-letter works get the red-carpet treatment after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 26, 2010 at 01:03

Posted in Features, Reissues, Soundtracks

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