The Second Disc

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Archive for April 28th, 2010

Review: Carole King, “The Essential Carole King”

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“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

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Boxed In

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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.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 28, 2010 at 15:00

Reissue Theory: System of a Down – “Toxicity”

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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