The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for April 2010

Friday Feature: “Commando”

with one comment

As a forgiving film fan, I was appalled by the recent news that 20th Century Fox was planning on remaking Commando, the 1985 action flick that became Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first star vehicle after The Terminator the previous year. Hollywood’s fascination with remakes is too well-known, but surely someone could have drawn a line with Commando.

The film has Schwarzenegger as – what else? – a one-man wrecking crew named John Matrix determined to rescue his daughter after she’s kidnapped by a South American dictator and his band of goons (the leader of which is one of Matrix’s old war buddies). Unsurprisingly, Matrix wins, having relentlessly slaughtered well over a hundred bad guys in the process and delivered the first of many hilarious quips in Schwarzenegger’s film career.

If this plot sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been done a million times since. That’s why a Commando remake – no matter how much of a “real-world spin” Fox promises to give it – makes no sense. Just make another movie about one determined, skillful man who has to rescue a family member from a bunch of silly thugs. (As a matter of fact, Fox did just that two years ago with Liam Neeson in Taken.)

A Commando remake would likely earn demerits for mucking with the over-the-top action violence, eminently quotable lines and unnecessary homoerotic tension between Matrix and the villainous Bennett (who, through actor Vernon Wells, comes off as an Australian Freddie Mercury on steroids). It would also miss out on one of the most goofy, enjoyable turns by composer James Horner. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 30, 2010 at 13:32

Back Tracks: Poison

with 2 comments

The way culture advances nowadays, it’s not surprising to realize you’ve forgotten certain ways you might have thought or felt about a musician in particular. For instance, when singer Bret Michaels was rushed to the hospital last week after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage, I’m sure many people (especially younger ones with less perspective) immediately thought of Michael’s career as a reality show star – he’s currently on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice and has spent three years on the abysmal VH1 dating show Rock of Love.

Fortunately, there were probably some who heard the unfortunate news – and the much better news that Michaels is slowly showing signs of improvement – and thought about Michaels’ ongoing tenure as frontman for Poison, one of the better pop-metal bands of the 1980s. There aren’t many people who were teens in the ’80s that can forget the band; they were at once one of the best party-starters and creators of one of the best tunes to slow-dance to at prom.

Although their back catalogue is distributed by the industry’s favorite punching bag, EMI, there have still been a few choice remasters and compilations created from the Poison discography. As we wish Michaels a speedy recovery, take a trip down memory lane with Poison’s Back Tracks. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 29, 2010 at 16:13

Posted in Compilations, Features, Poison, Reissues

Tagged with

Review: Carole King, “The Essential Carole King”

with 3 comments

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman.” “Up on the Roof.” “You’ve Got a Friend.” All of these songs have found a permanent home as part of The Great American Songbook, and all come from the pen of one Carole King. Her repertoire as both singer and songwriter is celebrated with this week’s release of Legacy’s The Essential Carole King (Ode/Epic/Legacy 88697 68257 2), the first set to focus on both aspects of King’s now 50-plus year career.

Producers Lou Adler, Steve Berkowitz and Rob Santos made the smart decision to compile Disc One as “The Singer,” and Disc Two as “The Songwriter.” (Adler, in particular, is well-qualified to assemble this set, having originally produced all but five tracks on “The Singer.”) Thus Disc One opens with the 1962 single “It Might As Well Rain Until September,” with young King emulating the girl group sound that prevailed at that time, a sound which she helped engineer as composer of hits like “One Fine Day” and “Chains” (more on them later). “September,” though, is a quaint precursor to the mature music that follows. Adler & co. jump a number of years to 1970, and we pick up with the Brill Building Queen (as named in Andrew Loog Oldham’s entertaining liner notes) having moved to L.A.’s Laurel Canyon as the 1970s began. Unfortunately nothing is heard from The City, the short-lived band featuring King, Charles Larkey and Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar. The smoldering “Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll),” rocking “Now That Everything’s Been Said” or elegant “Snow Queen” would all have been great choices for inclusion. But with “Child of Mine” from 1970’s Writer, we hear the style fully in place that would lead to King’s most familiar hits and establish her as an icon and influence to a new generation.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 28, 2010 at 15:19

Posted in Carole King, Compilations, Reissues, Reviews

Tagged with

Boxed In

with 6 comments

Reaction to the recently-released tracklist for John Mellencamp’s On the Rural Route 7609 box set has been a bit mixed, and for good reason. It’s hard to greet a four-disc box set full of album tracks and just over a dozen unreleased outtakes with a price tag of nearly $100. But it’s becoming clear that there’s a bigger issue here at stake than Mellencamp fans getting soaked.

Friends, the entire concept of a box set is in a state of crisis. It’s been a long two decades since compact disc box sets became a burgeoning haven for hardcore catalogue fans. They presented music as art , even as the entire listening experience was becoming increasingly artless. But it may finally be time to rethink the whole strategy of collating tracks onto multiple discs with a fancy package to boot.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 28, 2010 at 15:00

Reissue Theory: System of a Down – “Toxicity”

leave a comment »

Lots of coverage on The Second Disc deals with music that has stayed part of the collective consciousness for decades. But it’s been stated before that fans and labels should always look into the recent past to find classics worth reissuing.

Toxicity, the second LP by Armenian-American metal band System of a Down, is one of those records. Of all the five LPs SoaD released in their brief tenure before embarking on an indefinite hiatus, Toxicity hits the hardest. It’s one of those one-in-a-million records where every track is worth dozens of spins (and that’s saying a lot in the age of downloads).

It also had an unpredictable amount of crossover success. I say “unpredictable” because it’s not often that ethnopolitical songs with cutting lyrics and multidynamic tunes end up in the mainstream – especially not when the album was released, just a week before America was hit by one of its worst terrorist attacks in history.

The album has a longevity to it that might be well-documented in the not-too-distant future, perhaps as a bridge to future System LPs (unlikely though they may seem). And it turns out there was a lot of extra studio content available; sure, one could cherrypick bonus tracks from the original Toxicity II bootleg that formed the basis for the band’s Steal This Album! in 2002. But there actually existed a few tracks hidden on soundtracks and even some vinyl singles that would make for some good extras on a reissue.

Free your mind with the Reissue Theory take on Toxicity after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 28, 2010 at 00:24

Soundtrack Miracles and More

leave a comment »

A heads-up for two brand-new releases from indie soundtrack label Intrada. This week’s batch is quite eclectic: first up is Laurence Rosenthal’s score to the classic 1962 film version of The Miracle Worker, available for the first time on CD. This disc is sourced from Rosenthal’s own first-generation mono 1/4″ tapes and produced with full support from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film’s distributor. This is a limited one at just 1,000 copies, so act fast.

Intrada’s other release turns to the small screen with a popular television drama from the recent past: JAG. Created by T.V. legend Donald P. Bellisario (Magnum P.I., Quantum Leap, JAG spin-off NCIS), the long-running legal drama about members of the military’s legal eagles (the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, or JAG for short) has two episodes presented on one disc. There’s the original pilot episode, scored by Bruce Broughton (who composed the series’ memorable theme), and the score to second-season episode “Cowboys and Cossacks,” written by Steve Bramson. This set is an unlimited release.

As always, you can preview clips of the scores and order them at Intrada’s official site. Take a look at the track listings after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 27, 2010 at 10:27

Posted in News, Soundtracks

R-O-C-K in the B-O-X

with 7 comments

Awesome! After what feels like years, Island Records and Universal Music Enterprises have finalized a release date and track listing for On the Rural Route 7609, a career-spanning box set from John Mellencamp.

Drawing from more than 30 years of recordings, this four-disc set features 15 previously unreleased recordings, liner notes by Rolling Stone veteran Anthony DeCurtis, Mellencamp’s track-by-track annotations and 72 pages of notes and photos, all packaged in a book-style case.

Hit the jump to get all the tracks, and you can pre-order the set at Amazon (word of warning: the current price, $89.99, is somewhat steep for a four-disc set, even for as good an artist as Mellencamp). On the Rural Route is released June 15, just in time for Father’s Day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 27, 2010 at 09:43

Release Round-Up: Wilde and Grey Edition

with 2 comments

We’ve got a few reissue notes (in case you missed them) to start off your week.

  • First up, Cherry Pop is prepping another batch of Kim Wilde reissues. The label re-released Wilde’s RAK-era LPs – Kim Wilde (1981), Select (1982) and Catch as Catch Can (1983) to a strong reaction from her fanbase, and are now prepping two-disc editions of Teases & Dares (1984) and Another Step (1986), Wilde’s first two records for the MCA label. The latter is notable for being co-produced by Rod Temperton and Bruce Swedien, two names that longtime Michael Jackson fans will recognize as songwriter and engineer, for the King of Pop, respectively. These new reissues will be released sometime this summer.
  • EMI continues to let it all hang out with some massive U.K. reissue projects. The latest is a triple-disc re-release of Attack of the Grey Lantern, the 1997 debut album from acclaimed indie-rockers Mansun. This new package will contain the original, chart-topping semi-concept album as well as two discs of non-LP material, a newly-produced remix and extensive liner notes by former Mansun frontman Paul Draper. It streets on June 15 in the U.K.
  • Finally, in case you missed the word on these, Amazon is showing listings for deluxe reissues of a-ha’s Hunting High and Low (1985) and Scoundrel Days (1986) from Rhino on June 15 (internationally). They’re coming up as imports thus far, but I have little doubt they’ll come out in the U.S., especially with the band about to hit the States on their farewell tour. No word yet on extras – I have e-mailed Rhino to no avail thus far (so if you’re reading this and from the label, send a message to – but once there’s more info, it’ll be here. After all, we’ll have to compare to the Reissue Theory posts done on both of these LPs!

Have a look at the details for both Kim Wilde and Mansun after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 26, 2010 at 13:50

Back Tracks: Paul McCartney

with 6 comments

Every now and then a catalogue-oriented story breaks into the mainstream. This week, we’ve had one of those moments: Paul McCartney is moving his back catalogue distribution to Concord Music Group from increasingly beleaguered EMI. Reissues will commence in August with a new pressing of Band on the Run, his high watermark with former band Wings.

Of course, for someone of McCartney’s caliber, this is not the first time his albums have been reissued. EMI did a massive remastering of 16 McCartney/Wings albums in 1993; while almost all of them were armed with rare or unreleased tracks, they were often taken to task for their anemic mastering. But in the four months until a third reissue of Band on the Run hits stores, why not venture through Back Tracks and find out what previous McCartney reissues and other catalogue titles have looked like?

Read on after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 23, 2010 at 16:55

Friday Feature: “Licence to Kill”

leave a comment »

Recent coverage of soundtracks on The Second Disc has been warmly received. To this end, we have added a the Friday Feature. Every Friday, you’ll find some sort of article devoted to a soundtrack or film composer of merit. We hope you enjoy these trips through Hollywood’s musical landscape!

Our first Friday Feature deals with one of the oddest of the James Bond films. No, not Never Say Never Again (that’s not really a Bond film, anyway). Licence to Kill was the second and final feature with Timothy Dalton as 007 and the last to be filmed during the existence of Bond’s mortal enemy, the Soviet Union. That alone should make it an intriguing journey, but Licence to Kill is more than a little strange.

In the film, 007 turns rogue to avenge an ally, DEA agent Felix Leiter (protrayed by David Hedison, who also played Leiter in 1973’s Live and Let Die). His adventures take him to the fictional “Republic of Ithsmus” and pit him against drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi).

Though it received a fair amount of acclaim upon release (less so today – many mistakenly believe its commercial failure in the U.S. delayed the franchise until 1995’s GoldenEye picked up the pace), Licence to Kill is a bit of an odd duck in the 007 franchise for a few reasons. Dalton’s portrayal of Bond was far less cheeky than Roger Moore’s tenure as the agent, but Licence to Kill is almost devoid of humor entirely. The fantastical elements were kept to a minimum, too; the villains were unconcerned with world domination and more driven by the drug trade (a real-world concern at the time). It was also considerably gorier than its predecessors, becoming the first Bond film to receive a PG-13 rating. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 23, 2010 at 11:22