The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for March 16th, 2010

Back Tracks: U2

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Is it inherently lazy to do a U2 post on a music blog for St. Patrick’s Day? Whether it is or not, it’s done for two reasons.

First, since The Second Disc is all about reissues, it’s worth tipping a hat to Universal’s ongoing series of U2 reissues. They have been some of the best on the market in recent years. The packaging is nice, the content is comprehensive and groundbreaking (in other words, the fan gets all those hard-to-find tracks he or she is looking for plus a score of vault material) and the input from the band (specifically The Edge, who’s done a bang-up job curating these sets) is a refreshing change of pace from the “I-look-forward-not-back” approach of too many artists with deep, worthy catalogues.

Second – and perhaps more importantly – it is this writer’s opinion that U2 have completely fallen off the rails in the past decade. All That You Can’t Leave Behind wasn’t perfect, but there were some pure pop moments that any band in their 20th year would kill for. Since then, though? The iPod commercials. The singles that just sound like the same song over and over again. The proselytizing prophet known as Bono. An album – one that made Pop look like an underappreciated risk (maybe it is, after all) – that earned inexplicable crticial salivation. And a fine candidate for the worst musical ever.

If one were to spin the last decade of U2’s new material in a positive way, perhaps they’re spending too much of their energy on making killer catalogue sets. So with Ireland’s biggest holiday upon us, here’s Ireland’s biggest band, as seen through the eyes of their back tracks. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 16, 2010 at 23:50

Posted in Box Sets, Compilations, Features, Reissues, U2

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News Round-Up: Disintegrated, Devo and Lena Horne Unearthed

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  • Chain of Flowers reports that the upcoming expansion of Disintegration by The Cure still lacks a release date. In a related story, ARRRRRRRGH.
  • Amazon is taking pre-orders for a reissue of Duty Now for the Future, Devo’s 1979 sophomore album. This title, due on April 13 (presumably with bonus content), follows the deluxe versions of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and Freedom of Choice released last year.
  • Hip-O Select tweeted a tease for an upcoming release: “Lena Horne did 16 singles on MGM – never on CD, until…. Coming soon…” Actual discographical information has been hard to pin down regarding Horne on MGM, but my research indicates this may consist of Lena Horne Sings, a 1951 10-inch LP, and/or The One & Only Lena Horne, a planned 1982 LP that was never issued but likely covered the same material.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 16, 2010 at 16:45

Posted in Devo, Lena Horne, News, The Cure

Reissue Theory: – Public Enemy, “Fear of a Black Planet”

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Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Fear of a Black Planet, the third album by hip-hop legends Public Enemy. Billboard did a great write-up about the album’s impact after two decades, which dovetails rather interestingly into a highly-recommended recent documentary I had the pleasure to see last week. The film, Copyright Criminals, is a thought-provoking look into the rise of sampling in music and the ongoing legal challenges faced by samplers.

Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, as well as members of production team The Bomb Squad and media assassin Harry Allen, are quoted heavily in the doc, which does a good job of reminding you how shockingly unique the P.E./Bomb Squad sound was at the turn of the ’80s. The thicket of samples throughout the record, combined with those unmistakable rhymes by Chuck D. and Flavor Flav, create an urgent, bold, angry sound. But one should not misinterpret the meaning of “angry” – it’s not meant to invoke images of black militants. The best rappers during the early ’90s had this overall sound that evoked rebellion against the status quo. You can hear it in the lyrical delivery as well as the musical background – but if you’re listening right, you don’t feel scared but empowered, ready to take on the world with music as your weapon.

That’s what P.E. did to stunning effect during their near-flawless tenure at Def Jam. Of course, planning a reissue of any of their classic albums would be a holy terror for lawyers everywhere. Would all of those samples, then uncredited, have to clear with other labels? Would the group – no fan of their former corporate overlords at the new Def Jam, now part of Universal Music Group – be willing to play fair with the suits? Would there even be enough material to fit a bonus disc? (None of it would fit on one disc, next to the hour-long album.)

But the idea of a CD/DVD version – viewable after the jump – might be a fitting tribute to the group – and the beats – that made hip-hop such a cultural force. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 16, 2010 at 10:47

Posted in Features, Public Enemy, Reissues

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Five Things the Michael Jackson-Sony Deal Should Consider

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After a deafening silence broken only by the just-OK This is It album, Michael Jackson’s posthumous release projects at Sony just amped up. The King of Pop’s estate and Sony Music have brokered a $250 million, ten-album deal that will keep the Jackson train rolling at Sony through 2017.

Speculation has already begun over what the nine forthcoming titles (the This is It soundtrack is retroactively included in the deal) will be. Rumored audio titles include:

  • New reissues of Off the Wall and Bad
  • A number of discs of unreleased material, the first due as early as the end of the year
  • A remix album (hopefully a compilation of old remixes instead of unnecessary new ones)
  • The soundtrack to a rumored Cirque du Soleil show based on MJ’s music

There’s also been talk of a comprehensive DVD set of Jackson’s entire music video archive. Obviously, all these titles are super-exciting if you’re a Jackson fan/catalogue enthusiast. But fans have been burned before by entries from the Jackson catalogue with less-than-perfect presentation. With that (and the importance of maintaining Jackson’s catalogue to the most perfect degree) in mind, you’ll find after the jump a list of five things Sony should take into account while they’re prepping material. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 16, 2010 at 10:03