The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for June 21st, 2010

Back Tracks: Randy Newman

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With apologies to the popular Disneyland attraction and video game, nearly everybody in America was experiencing Toy Story mania this past weekend. And chances are if a tune is running through our collective head, it’s Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” which debuted in 1995’s Toy Story and is reprised in the third entry, estimated to have grossed $109 million on its opening weekend.

Yet that song enjoyed by kids of all ages reflects just one side of its composer’s dual nature. If Randy Newman’s Dr. Jekyll is the respected film composer and purveyor of timeless Disney songs that can stand alongside the Sherman Brothers’ best, his Mr. Hyde is the man behind an unparalleled series of albums joining classic songcraft to a singularly scathing, satirical wit. So on the occasion of America embracing Newman the Oscar-winning family tunesmith, Back Tracks looks now at the truly idiosyncratic solo catalog of the other Randy Newman, the songwriter who influenced a generation.  Join us after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 21, 2010 at 14:53

Posted in Features, Randy Newman, Reissues

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Tracking You Down

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A little early-afternoon treat to readers of The Second Disc: another poll! The last one, drafted during the Exile on Main St. reissue bonanza, was pretty darn successful, and this one’s going to get things moving with a pretty simple question we’ve never asked before.

What sort of bonus tracks get you to buy a reissue or deluxe title? It’s a simple question, but one that can spark a myriad of discussion. Of course, it can be a case-by-case query. Prince fans are probably looking more for unreleased songs from the fabled vault, while Madonna fans might be interested in the many, many dance remixes that propelled her career through the ’80s. Deadheads would want nothing more than live content, and so forth.

But if your local record store clerk broke into your house, stole all your music and vowed never to give it back until you answered the poll seen after the jump, which answer would you choose? Your commentary is, as always, much appreciated. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 21, 2010 at 12:22

Reissue Theory: Brian Wilson, “Imagination”

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Monday, June 21 marks the first day of Summer 2010. How appropriate, then, that the 68th birthday of Brian Wilson was a mere day earlier on June 20. Few musicians, if any, have contributed as much to the American myth of summer as Beach Boys leader Wilson. Years after galvanizing popular music with albums like 1966’s much-reissued Pet Sounds and singles such as the same year’s psychedelic “Good Vibrations,” Wilson embarked on a solo career in 1988. Like so much of the man’s journey through life, the road to solo success was a bumpy one. This author sees 2000’s release of Live at the Roxy Theatre (available in various CD editions, each with slightly different track lineups) as the turning point in which Wilson began a new chapter of his career, touring and recording solo alongside a group of collaborators as sympathetic to his vision as the original Beach Boys were some 40 years earlier. But the music produced by Wilson between 1988 and 2000 over the course of five albums, one of which remains unreleased to this day, is startlingly ripe for rediscovery.  So, while wishing Mr. Wilson a very happy 68th and eagerly awaiting the new Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin scheduled for August, Reissue Theory turns the spotlight onto 1998’s Imagination (Giant CD 9 24703).

By 1998, Wilson was finally free of the influence of Dr. Eugene Landy, the controversial therapist who may have saved his life, but embroiled him in a frightening scenario which saw the good doctor controlling virtually every aspect of his famous subject’s existence. It was in 1995, his own man once again, that Wilson married Melinda Ledbetter and began on the road to recovery and the eventual triumphant completion of the abandoned SMiLE project in 2004. With Carl Wilson’s death earlier in 1998 and The Beach Boys fractured as a result, Wilson enlisted producer Joe Thomas to create the album that became Imagination. Co-producers were no longer new to the once famously-autocratic genius: 1988’s solo debut Brian Wilson teamed him (under Landy’s guidance) with Russ Titelman, Jeff Lynne, Lenny Waronker, Andy Paley and Lindsey Buckingham. Don Was took the controls for 1995’s I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times (featuring stark reworkings of Beach Boys classics) and Van Dyke Parks was the producer and arranger of the same year’s Orange Crate Art. While Thomas’ production was heavily reliant on synthesized sounds that recalled 1980s adult contemporary rather than Wilson’s 1960s orchestral pop heyday, Imagination featured a number of tracks worthy of the man’s greatest.  Read about them after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 21, 2010 at 10:53