The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

So Much News

with 12 comments

Apologies if The Second Disc is flooding your Web space with posts today. I, for one, am thrilled; it’s nice to see great news getting us catalogue enthusiasts through the week. And here are three little briefs to further your excitement for all things reissues:

  • Steven Van Zandt recently talked to a U.K. radio station about the long-in-development reissue of Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978). It looks like it might follow the format of this year’s Exile on Main St. reissue; Van Zandt said that at least ten outtakes not included on the Tracks outtake box set have been found – and Springsteen is doing “a little bit of fixes” on them. “I’m not sure how many we’ll put on there,” he said. “We’ll go back and he might finish a lyric on one or two, or finish a harmony on one or two, but we’ll keep them intact pretty much.”
  • EMI has given out a few streamable goodies from the upcoming reissue of R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction (1985). Hear the demo of “Auctioneer (Another Engine)” at Consequence of Sound and the demo of “Can’t Get There from Here” at Entertainment Weekly‘s Music Mix blog.
  • And some grist for the rumor mill: David Wild, one of your catalogue correspondent’s favorite journalists, is penning liner notes for something related to Barry Manilow. Last time I recall him mentioning liner notes, it was Bon Jovi-related, months before the reissues were announced. So this might be a hint at something. Stay tuned, as always.

Written by Mike Duquette

June 29, 2010 at 15:11

12 Responses

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  1. We don’t need any further Manilow mastering of anything through “One Voice”. The last round of Legacy remasters are uniformly excellent, IMO.

    What we do need, however, is the continuation of the campaign, from 1980’s out of print “Barry” through at least 1987’s “Swing Street”. Which would include his best album, IMO, “2 A.M. Paradise Cafe”.

    RoyalScam

    June 29, 2010 at 16:09

    • Seconded! (If Legacy has no intention of continuing the campaign, couldn’t an Iconoclassic, Shout!, or even a Wounded Bird or Friday Music pick up the torch?)

      Another option could be Wild penning notes for Manilow’s long-promised “Musical Autobiography” project, for which he claims there are literally discs’ worth of outtakes and demos not included on his previous box set (which could also use updating). Can’t wait to find out.

      Joe Marchese

      June 29, 2010 at 16:45

      • Now THAT I’d be up for.

        RoyalScam

        June 30, 2010 at 17:39

  2. I’d heard the Darkness reissue was going to be more like the Born To Run 30th anniversary set a few years ago, with a DVD of a live show from around the time of the album. What you’re reporting here is totally new (at least to me).

    A CD of unreleased material would be interesting, but I’m not interested in Bruce rewriting history by tinkering with the recordings like the Stones did with the Exile reissue. Leave the tracks alone!

    Mostly though, and I’ve said this before, I’d like to see Sony open up the vaults and get more classic live concerts released.

    Shaun

    June 29, 2010 at 21:46

    • I have a feeling the Exile-style reworking of unfinished old tunes won’t be soon going away.

      I’m always of two minds about it; on one hand, I love hearing original demos, works in progress, and alternate takes, etc. On the other hand, why do we music fans hold artists up to a different standard than say, authors of books, plays or screenplays?

      It’s no secret that many authors will write and rewrite and rewrite until they get something right. Woody Allen’s last film was a rewrite of a project he’d started for Zero Mostel in the 1970s, to name just one recent instance. Examples are even more rampant with books, where an author dusts off an old manuscript after being away from it for 5, 10 or 20 years, and then polishes it to an acceptable standard. Nobody in the book publishing world or even in that craziest of places, Hollywood, blinks at this rewriting process.

      So, my question is, why do so many of us get up in arms when an artist does the same thing? I’m not talking about those musicians who “improve” on previously-released material via remixing, overdubs, etc.; that’s a discussion for another day. I’m just curious why some of us get frustrated about an artist reworking unreleased tracks that we were never meant to have heard in the first place, but may have due to bootleg recordings (which, if that’s the case, we’ll still have after the new version is released!)

      If somebody other than Bruce Springsteen wanted to rework 30-year old unfinished songs, I might have an issue with it. If Springsteen himself wants to finish something to his satisfaction, why should any of us not support him in that effort?

      In an ideal world, I suppose Bruce would release the “work tracks” alongside the newly-finished versions for comparison’s sake. But in any event, I’m happy to have new Springsteen material, irrelevant of its vintage. I felt much the same about the Exile bonus disc’s contents.

      Let the comments begin. 🙂

      Joe Marchese

      June 29, 2010 at 23:02

  3. Well, there was the matter of George Lucas “improving” his original Star Wars films… I don’t know that too many SW fans, at least those of us old enough to have seen the originals in the theatre, were terribly fond of George’s “upgrades. At least I wasn’t.

    Anyhow, I’m not saying Bruce shouldn’t be able to do what he wants to do. I’m just saying I’m not enamored with the idea of tinkering with old recordings. Now if he’s got songs from then that he never recorded and he wants to complete those songs, great! I might like it better than much of his more recent stuff anyhow. But if he’s going to release old recordings, I say leave them be. Or at least release them along side the upgrades, as you suggested.

    I think back to some unfinished tracks that have been released (“The Big Payback” on the Essential Bruce, for instance) and they sound great. I like the raw sound of that. To me, the Exile stuff was a disappointment but I understand the appeal.

    Shaun

    June 30, 2010 at 07:46

    • Thanks so much for your comments, Shaun. The Star Wars situation is different, because Lucas was reworking a previously-released product (and worse, allowing it to supercede the original). I was strictly speaking of reworking something commercially *un*released into a finished product. I don’t think Springsteen is going to be reworking the title track of “Darkness,” but rather some outtakes we weren’t intended to hear in the first place.

      But the bottom line appears to be, how will the reworked outtakes sound? And like everything else, that will just come down to a matter of personal taste. I look forward to resuming the discussion when that day approaches.

      Joe Marchese

      June 30, 2010 at 10:08

  4. Musicians re-work their music all the time; I see no problem with this as long as the originals are still available. A few years ago Alanis Morrissette released “Jagged Little Pill: Acoustic.” But it’s not like she took the originals off the market and said “the acoustic versions are definitive and will replace the original album.”

    In the case of Springsteen, he can remix, rework, re-record all he wants, so long as he saves those experiments for the proverbial Disc 2 and leaves the originals on Disc 1.

    Don

    June 30, 2010 at 16:33

  5. I had no problem with the Stones “finishing” the Exile bonus tracks with new overdubs. But you can TOTALLY tell that Mick’s vocals are recent. I read an interview somewhere where Don Was said Mick sang the new vocal tracks in the same range and style he sang on the original sessions. Bullsh*t.

    RoyalScam

    June 30, 2010 at 17:43

  6. OK, so Star Wars isn’t the same thing… Just throwing an example out there. RoyalScam sums up my feelings on this. Those tinkered-with Exile tracks don’t sound right at all. They sound like something the current, or at least recent, Stones would’ve done. It doesn’t sound like Exile, at least not after Mick and Don Was got a hold of the tapes.

    I’d like to trust Bruce’s instincts, but the Bruce of 2010 doesn’t sound like the Bruce of 1978, and it’s just not going to be like it was had these songs been released back then.

    He can tinker with tracks all he wants, but here’s a thought… If Bruce, or Mick, are going to rework these old tracks why not just re-record the songs OR re-work the songs as you see fit, and make it part of a new album? There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes a song will sit around for years before an artist feels it’s right. Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” for instance… He wrote it in 1983, but it didn’t see release until 1989’s Storm Front album. He had a version back in ’83 (it showed up on the My Lives box), but he ended up re-recording it.

    I just think that passing the songs off as something from 1978 is not entirely true. If the song is strong enough, finish it up and make it part of a new album. As it is, I’m just not sure it’s worth double dipping for an album I’ve already got (and sounds fine as it is).

    Shaun

    June 30, 2010 at 22:20

  7. I’m no audiophile, but “Darkness” is easily the worst-sounding album I own (except for possibly “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ”) and I’m simply looking forward to hearing this disc finally remastered to something beyond 1980’s standards.

    FWIW, about 15 years ago, Bruce released a version of Hungry Heart that was essentially new vocals recorded over the original studio backing track.

    That said, I really don’t get all the wailing over artists finishing incomplete recordings with new overdubs. Seems to me that people who hate the “new” EOMS tracks were determined to hate them before they even heard them. (And the bitching about Star Wars has gotten old as well–the DVD’s with the “original” original trilogy have been sitting on the shelves of my nearby Wal-Mart for nearly four years now.)

    Hank

    June 30, 2010 at 22:51

  8. Well good for you, Hank… When I watch my SW DVDs I watch the original originals. Lucas can do what he wants, but I will stick with what I remember and love best. So be it.

    As for Darkness sounding bad, I’m no audiophile either and it sounds fine to me. Some remasters, the Beatles CDs from last year for instance, I can tell the difference. Maybe I will with Darkness as well, but I can say I’ve had no complaints with the copy I have.

    Perhaps others will disagree (you, for one) but I don’t hear a major difference between the Born To Run remaster and the version I had before the box set came out. I mostly bought it for the live DVD that came with it.

    I wasn’t aware of Bruce recording new vocals for “Hungry Heart”… Where is that, and why did he do it? My copy of The River is older than that, so I have the original at least.

    Anyhow, to each their own. I don’t get how excited some get about remixes on this site, or about some of the artists, but I don’t refer to people as “wailing” or “bitching” or any other putdowns I could come up with. We’re all music fans, in form or another. I think there’s valid point to be made about how tinkering with an old recording and passing it off as an “outtake” from a vintage album isn’t exactly legitimate. If you’re OK with it, however, then enjoy it.

    Shaun

    June 30, 2010 at 23:19


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