The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for May 6th, 2010

Long Live Live Music

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It’s going to be kind of a slow day at The Second Disc, as your roving reporter has tickets to see a-ha play to a sold-out crowd in New York City. Their Ending on a High Note Tour has been a top draw for ’80s pop fans, but it’s also led to a lot of thought concerning concerts and what they mean to us – not just as a reissue fan, but as a lover of music in general.

While The Second Disc may be a haven for all the expanded and remastered news and commentary you can shake your SACD player at, I can’t overstate how much joy there is in buying a ticket to a live venue and coming back with great stories and memories for years to come. Personally, in my six years of going to concerts, there isn’t a show I’ve gone to where I’ve come back just shrugging my shoulders.

And in those six years, I’ve been particularly lucky. In 2006, I was able to attend the last of 12 sold-out Madison Square Garden dates for Billy Joel – a venue record for one tour that earned him his own number hanging above the rafters. His set list was fantastic, avoiding the typical hits-revue fare of his fellow vintage acts (Elton John, I’m looking at you) and drawing from album cuts from favorites Glass Houses and The Nylon Curtain. (It’s also the only show I’ve been to that was ever partially commercially released through the great 12 Gardens Live double-disc set from that summer).

Then there was The Police. My favorite band in high school, and a group that had been defunct since the 1980s. If you told my 16-year-old self not only that Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland would reunite but that I would catch them twice, I might have fainted.

Those are but a few stories in the patchwork of my musical life. It’s hoped that you, the reader, are smiling as you read this and think of your own experiences. Little things like being able to stay out late to see your favorite band, buying your first beer, taking off from work to get to that show extra-early and getting lost on the way home and laughing about it with friends all those years later.

We all hear stories about how our beloved record industry is dying. But how can you catch a great live show and not see anything but life itself? The Second Disc will always be devoted to the preservation of ideas on a record, their history and meaning – but we would be remiss if we didn’t implore you to make some memories at a concert every once in awhile. Together, our experiences make up the best of the gifts music has to offer us.

Friends: what are your favorite live musical memories? Which acts would you love to see hit the road? Ever seen a gig caught on tape later on? Share your stories here!

Written by Mike Duquette

May 6, 2010 at 10:37

Posted in Features, Open Forum

Review: Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim, “Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings”

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“Tall and tan and young and handsome…” Those lyrics to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “The Boy from Ipanema” kicked off a bossa nova boom that saw virtually every noteworthy vocalist and jazz musician of the 1960s recording in the mellow Brazilian style. Frank Sinatra, though, was hardly one to follow a trend for hipness’ sake. By 1967, the label he founded, Reprise, was turning its sights to Laurel Canyon and Haight-Ashbury, and the bossa craze was on the wane. Sinatra would, as always, record on his own terms. An album teaming Sinatra with Jobim himself (often called the Gershwin of bossa nova) was proposed for the label, and on January 30, 1967, sessions began for what would become Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim. That hallowed album and its shelved sequel form the basis of Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings, released this week on Concord (CRE-32026) as part of their ongoing Frank Sinatra Collection.

To these ears, Sinatra’s recordings with Jobim are his finest recordings of the 1960s, and quite possibly some of his finest ever. The vocalist challenged himself to sing in a new idiom, and his soft, hushed vocals are among his most sensual and romantic. His phrasing and always-impeccable interpretive powers emphasized the wistful, longing quality of Jobim’s compositions (such as a gender-reversed “Girl from Ipanema” that still stands today as one of the song’s definitive renditions) as well as of some hand-picked standards rearranged to fit with the album’s prevailing mood: Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You,” Irving Berlin’s “Change Partners,” Wright and Forrest’s “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” which Sinatra infuses with great yearning. Jobim’s guitar and gentle, complementary backing vocals bring his partner into a world so far-removed from Nelson Riddle’s insistent brass or Gordon Jenkins’ lush, sweeping strings, the LP might as well have been called Another Side of Frank SinatraFAS & ACJ was an instant success, even in the changing musical landscape, and work began on a belated sequel two years later. For this album, to be simply titled Sinatra/Jobim, arranger/conductor Claus Ogerman was replaced by young Brazilian star-on-the-rise Eumir Deodato as arranger and Hollywood vet Morris Stoloff as conductor. Deodato’s work is slightly less relaxed than Ogerman’s, a bit more swinging, but equally effective and authentic.  There are no items in Sinatra’s catalogue anything like the tricky, rhythmic “Drinking Water (Aqua de Beber)” or “One Note Samba (Samba de Uma Nota So).” 

But all wasn’t well with this sequel. Sinatra felt great unease about 3 of the 10 songs recorded for the sequel; his “suggestion” to kill the album was of course taken seriously. Despite the presence of some beautiful songs Sinatra would make his own (such as the gorgeous, melodically complex “Wave” which he recites almost effortlessly), the album was shelved. The seven acceptable tracks would form Side 2 of a hastily-assembled album in 1972 entitled Sinatra & Company; the other side would be filled with Don Costa-arranged pop fare like “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” and “Close to You.” Needless to say, one side intrigued fans far more than the other. The remaining 3 songs would trickle out over the years on foreign compilations and finally on the magnificent Complete Reprise Studio Recordings “suitcase” box set (Reprise 47045). The Concord CD marks the first time all 20 Jobim collaborations have been brought together on one disc. (The duo would record one further duet for Sinatra’s 1994 Duets II, but that version of “Fly Me to the Moon” hasn’t been included here.  Truthfully, it would have disrupted the vibe of the 20 recordings present.) Does Concord’s new package do these recordings justice? Find out after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 6, 2010 at 01:27