The Second Disc

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Archive for June 25th, 2010

Review: The Jackson 5, “Live at The Forum”

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One of the oddest takeaways from watching Michael Jackson perform live was always the screaming.

Watch almost anything Jackson ever commissioned for live release – snippets from Moonwalker, the Bucharest concert recorded during the Dangerous tour – and you’ll see an increasingly disturbing parade of young people, sweating, screaming, crying, hyperventilating and fainting at the mere notion of a glance, point or step from the King of Pop – their king, their idol, an undying figure that law, fame and drugs could never break.

Those with any kind of performance or marketing savvy can easily deduce that, surely, these shrieking faces were just another piece in the gigantic, self-congratulatory puzzle that Jackson yearned to create for himself and the world. Sure, he was a pop idol for the ages, and as easily an inspiration of hysterics as, say, Elvis or The Beatles. But it’s a construct…right?

The last seconds of the first disc of Live at the Forum, a new vintage Jackson 5 title from Hip-o Select, may have you reconsidering that stance. The end of that first set, a record-breaking visit to the Los Angeles Forum, is pure white noise, punctuated only by the short, futile insistence of the show’s emcee, Rick Holmes, that the crowd settle down.

It’s easy to understand why the crowd isn’t listening. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 25, 2010 at 16:09

Posted in Reissues, Reviews, The Jackson 5

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Back Tracks: Michael Jackson Part 2 – The Epic Years and Beyond

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After poring through Michael Jackson’s Motown years, we commemorate the year anniversary of his passing with a look at the material he recorded as an adult for Epic Records. If the J5 material was platinum, much of this stuff is uncut diamond – and the world is eagerly waiting to see what Sony will do with this material for catalogue purposes. (A multi-album deal has been struck, with the first batch of material likely due for the holidays, alongside a new video game based on Jackson’s music.)

Again, this can’t possibly as thorough or comprehensive as anyone would like. But this is the meat and potatoes of anyone’s Jackson collection, and it’s never too late to start  paying attention to this work (or rediscovering it, for that matter). Do your best to make sure it’s a part of yours. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 25, 2010 at 12:16

Friday Feature: “Grease”

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Quick, name a late ’70s blockbuster with a propulsive, lasting soundtrack!

Okay, now name one that wasn’t written by John Williams.

Chances are you’ve got two films atop your list: Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Both were classics of their time, full of dancing, John Travolta and the influence of one or more Brothers Gibb. But it’s the latter we’re going to look at to definitively cap our look at summer reissues. Even 32 years after its release, Grease still seems to be the word – the film, complete with sing-along lyrics, is due for a limited theatrical reissue in a few weeks – but what is it that makes this soundtrack so notable?

It might be the star power. Travolta, as golden-hearted bad boy Danny Zuko, and Olivia Newton-John as definitive good girl Sandy, are one of the most enduring couples in musical history, and the pair that portrayed them have rarely been better.

It might have been the era; folks seemed to have been clamoring for a simpler time while hurtling through the highly decadent end of the 1970s straight to the 1980s, and the ’50s-friendly subject matter was a Happy Days-level breath of fresh air.

It might be those songs – not only the killer numbers from writers Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey (“Greased Lightnin’,” “Summer Nights,” “We Go Together”) or the early rock classics added to the film (played by rock legends Sha Na Na), but the newly-included showstoppers from Aussie producer John Farrar (“Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “You’re the One That I Want”) and Barry Gibb (who penned the left-field title track for Frankie Valli to sing). All of which put the film’s soundtrack through sales in excess of 28 million copies across the globe.

Whatever the reason, Grease is a heck of a soundtrack to kick off the summer. Hit the jump and The Second Disc will tell you more, tell you more about the many releases of the record, including the singles that set charts on both sides of the Atlantic on fire. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 25, 2010 at 10:36

Posted in Features, Reissues, Soundtracks

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