The Second Disc

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Archive for May 20th, 2010

Fit for a King

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Count your pennies, readers: Legacy is set to announce a box set that will be one heck of a collector’s item. You might want to sit down for these, especially if you’re a fan of…The King.

Elvis Presley: The Complete Masters. It’s happening. Thirty(!) discs of 711 tracks. It’s everything you could imagine for Elvis – listed as “every song Elvis recorded for release during his lifetime in a single collection” plus “103 additional tracks, rarities and a 240-page hardbound book featuring an annotated discography, album artwork, rare and classic photos, a complete song index and an essay by Elvis scholar Peter Guralnick.”

Now here’s the crazy part. This set is going to be limited to 1000 numbered copies. Call me crazy, but if soundtrack labels can print more than 1000 copies for their big-ticket releases, surely this set can sell more than just that much.

Time will tell when the set goes up for pre-order; it’ll be available here starting July 27. A final release date and track list have not been released (Legacy says September TBD), but of course we’ll let you know.

Written by Mike Duquette

May 20, 2010 at 13:06

Miles and Miles of Miles

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Well, damn. After blowing minds in the jazz world with last year’s The Complete Columbia Album Collection, Legacy gears up a few more Miles Davis reissues that are sure to pique the interests of devoted listeners and rarity hunters.

On August 31, Columbia and Legacy will re-release the trumpeter’s acclaimed Bitches Brew as a Legacy Edition. The original album in its eight-track studio mix (as opposed to more recent digital remixes) will be enhanced with bonus session tracks and a newly-released DVD of the Miles Davis Quintet playing live in Copenhagen in 1969. A deluxe 40th Anniversary Edition (similar to the 50th anniversary set done for Kind of Blue in 2008) will add the original album on double vinyl, the aforementioned concert on CD, and more memorabilia in a 12″ x 12″ box.

There’s a bigger Miles gun that’s going to be revealed by the label in less than a week, but it probably deserves its own post. For now, while we wait to hear more about the bonus material on the Bitches Brew set (surely comprising the best of the outtakes from 1998’s The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions box set), you can at least remind yourself of what’s on this record after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

May 20, 2010 at 11:55

Review: The Rolling Stones, “Exile on Main Street” Deluxe Edition

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Few records hold the mystique of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. Myths have grown and books have been published in an attempt to explain the sprawling album. The story generally goes that 1972 found the band, literally, as tax exiles, seeking refuge across the English Channel in France. A villa in Villefranche-sur-Mer named Nellcote is rented. Music is made. Sex and drugs abound. Somehow in all this debauchery a record is produced, and that record is Exile on Main St. When Universal Music acquired the rights to reissue and remaster the Rolling Stones catalogue, the big news was the long-promised expanded edition of Exile. It’s arrived, in a variety of forms, and it remains as fascinating and frustrating as ever.

Decadence seems to be synonymous with Exile in every aspect. Stuffed with 18 tracks, it distills the Stones to their purest essence: dark, boozy, cocksure, swaggering, menacing, and above all, rocking. Exile’s territory was hardly new to the band; most of the songs veer between blues, country, soul and R&B, creating that familiar Stones sound. Yet mixed reviews greeted the now-acknowledged masterwork on its initial release. Why? Besides its lengthy running time, one can only speculate that its legendarily-murky mix was a big factor. Mick Jagger’s throaty vocals are often  buried in a dense instrumental blend. In addition to Keith Richards’ and Mick Taylor’s guitars, Charlie Watts’ drums and Bill Wyman’s bass, Nicky Hopkins makes an indelible impression on piano. Jim Price’s trumpet and Bobby Keyes’ saxophone are both prominent pieces of the Exile puzzle. Billy Preston even contributes his trademark organ. Dr. John pops up on backing vocals. The thick mix has been a source of controversy since the album’s release; how would it be handled for the deluxe reissue?  Even when a melody sounds rollicking, it has a bleak, world-weary, wrenching feel.

Purists can breathe easily that the notoriously sludgy mix has been left intact in this new edition remastered by Stephen Marcussen and Stewart Whitmore. Interviews have borne out that a remix was briefly considered (and this author would find one illuminating as a companion to, rather than replacement of, the existing mix – especially in a high-res format!) but vetoed. “I Just Want to See His Face” still sounds as if it was recorded in a tunnel. But it’s a testament to the enduring quality of Jagger and Richards’ edgy, intense songs that Exile (assembled ultimately from not only the France sessions but work in London and Los Angeles) remains a gripping listen from start to finish. “Rocks Off” is an appropriately sleazy opener complete with pulsating horns, while “Happy” (enhanced by Paul Buckmaster’s strings) and “Tumbling Dice” are as exciting as they were the first day we heard them. “Shine a Light” received prominence recently as the title song of Martin Scorsese’s 2008 concert film of the Stones, and it retains its primal power as Exile’s penultimate track.

But if the first disc (available as a stand-alone CD, for those interested) should make purists smile, the second disc of the Deluxe Edition is the most talked-about part of the reissue campaign. Jagger & co. have long been reticent to revisit the past, rarely opening the vaults and releasing the kinds of  rarities compilations offered by so many of their contemporaries. Their few excursions into this area, such as 2005’s Rolling Stones Rarities 1971-2003 (EMI/Virgin 0946 3 45401 2 4) generally induced yawns from the fans, who already owned much stronger material via private trading circles. But with Disc 2 of Exile’s Deluxe Edition, the Rolling Stones successfully beat the bootleggers by offering 10 tracks containing multiple new overdubs not just by Jagger and Richards, but even by long-departed guitarist Mick Taylor in a very unexpected reunion with thrilling results. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 20, 2010 at 10:14

Posted in Reissues, Reviews, The Rolling Stones

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