The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 1st, 2010

The Finer-er Things

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As many of our readers know, Island released a new-ish Steve Winwood box set, Revolutions: The Very Best of Steve Winwood. I say “new-ish” because the offerings weren’t terribly different from the last expansive anthology of Winwood material, 1995’s The Finer Things. Predictably, the set didn’t do terribly well – a shame because Winwood is a solid, enjoyable performer to listen to, but simultaneously not a shame since it doesn’t offer enough new stuff for catalogue enthusiasts to savor.

But the single-disc version of the set is actually pretty darn good for the budding Winwood fan. There aren’t many single-disc anthologies of the man’s entire career; 1987’s Chronicles only focused on the past decade of solo Winwood, an entry in Universal’s 20th Century Masters series covered Winwood’s best work with The Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and Traffic but nothing else, and the U.K. import The Ultimate Collection, while comprehensive, was three discs. You might as well buy one of the box sets if that’s your alternative.

So what would one compare the Revolutions disc to? Your catalogue correspondent has but one answer, and it’s not a common one. When The Finer Things was released in 1994, Island and Chronicles (now Universal Music Enterprises) issued a promo disc taking the best of the box and distilling it to a single disc. It may be unfair to compare a public compilation to a non-commercial promo, but it’s not terribly hard to find on the secondary market. Thus, The Second Disc shall now attempt to answer which of these sets the budding Winwood fan should seek. All shall be revealed after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 1, 2010 at 15:31

Apple, Cored

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A quick, relatively inconsequential bit from gossipy gadfly Roger Friedman: he’s apparently getting word that EMI/Capitol is planning to start overhauling the much-in-need-of-overhauling catalogue of Apple Records.

As any Beatlemaniac can tell you, Apple Records was The Beatles’ own label, created in 1968 (part and parcel of the whole Apple Corps unit The Fab Four had spearheaded). Although the band broke up not long after its creation, Apple would be the home to several notable names through the first half of the 1970s. In addition to many of John, Paul George and Ringo’s early solo releases, the label put out material by Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, Doris Troy and others. The most notable for collectors, though, might be Badfinger (the tragic power-pop legends and arguably one of the best non-Beatle acts to come from the label) and James Taylor (whose debut LP was released on the label in 1968 and has never seen a CD release  my mistake, it was put on CD at least once).

Now, what’s Friedman’s claim to the reissue news? Nothing, admittedly. And as nice as it would be to see these many rare records get their due on CD, it’s not going to be an easy process. For years, Apple Corps had been too engaged in legal wrangling with EMI (over royalties) and Apple Computer (over trademark disputes) to put out much product. Now that those suits have mostly been defused (giving us The Beatles’ remasters and The Beatles: Rock Band video game), it’s EMI’s turn to have problems with just about everything.

Also, Friedman’s insinuation that Capitol is going to distribute Apple reissues runs counter to the prevailing rumor that it’ll be Rhino, not EMI, overseeing future dealings with the non-Beatles portion of Apple’s catalogue. It was more or less confirmed on the Hoffman boards that remastering work had commenced on a handful of the other Apple LPs at Abbey Road (a discussion that was quickly squashed when the conversation began to insinuate that previous masterings – some of which were done by Steve Hoffman himself for DCC – were not based off the original master tapes).

Granted, everything we’re dealing with on both sides is simply rumor. But it would be a treat for fans old and new to discover or rediscover the Apple discography past those fab young men. Hopefully more concrete info will surface as the year continues.

Written by Mike Duquette

July 1, 2010 at 14:39

News Round-Up: Live CSNY, XTC on Vinyl, Teardrop Expands

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  • An article from The Columbian of Clark County, Washington is making the rounds for noting that a box set is being prepped chronicling the 1974 tour of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Planned to enter stores around the holiday season, the set is said to comprise three CDs and a DVD, culled from eight of the best stops on the tour. The 1974 tour saw CSNY performing after a four-year hiatus; the outdoor-arena shows (among the first of their kind) often stretched to three hours of electric and acoustic performances.
  • A hat tip to the top cats at Slicing Up Eyeballs for this story and the next: XTC’s 1986 LP Skylarking is getting a new reissue on double vinyl. The package corrects a bizarre error present on all the previous pressings of the album: for some reason, the sound polarity on all pressings had been reversed (meaning, to quote the original post, “sound waves that should be pushing out from your speakers are actually pulling them back and projecting from the rear”). A CD reissue has not been announced, nor has a final track list been issued (note that original U.K. pressings did not include the single “Dear God,” although the 2001 remaster appended the song to the end of the disc).
  • Finally, The Teardrop Explodes – Julian Cope’s early-’80s post-punk outfit – are expanding their first LP, 1980’s Kilimanjaro, to a three-disc set due out July 12 in the U.K. from Universal. It includes a disc of B-sides and non-LP tracks and another disc of live BBC sessions. You can read the track list after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 1, 2010 at 10:57

Loesser is Always More: Happy Birthday, Frank Loesser!

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While his name may not be instantly recognizable today, many of the songs penned by Frank Loesser most certainly are: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Heart and Soul,” “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” The man himself passed away in 1969, but his catalog lives on. June 29 would have marked Loesser’s 100th birthday, and Sony’s Masterworks Broadway division marks the centennial with this week’s release of the 19-track compilation Heart and Soul: Celebrating the Unforgettable Songs of Frank Loesser.

Academy Award- and Tony Award-winner Loesser’s contributions to American popular song still stand tall today. His songs have been covered by Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett, not to mention Don Henley, Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson. His 1950 musical Guys and Dolls is a frequent staple not only in theatres throughout the world but on Broadway, and his 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying will return to the Great White Way in 2011 starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Sony’s collection doesn’t draw, however, on its library of original cast recordings, nor on modern-day rock or pop interpretations of Loesser classics. Instead, it is primarily drawn from the recordings of big bands, jazz singers and popular vocalists on the Columbia and RCA Victor labels. Performers represented include Johnny Mathis, Pearl Bailey, Vic Damone, Dinah Shore and Helen Forrest. Barry Manilow contributes the most recent selection, the album track “Luck Be a Lady” from 1991’s Showstoppers, although his 1980 charting single of Loesser’s “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” co-written with Jule Styne, might have been a better choice.

It would be impossible for any single CD to cover all of the hit songs written by Loesser, both solo and with collaborators. I found myself looking in vain for “A Slow Boat to China” and the aforementioned “Sit Down…” But the collection appears to offer a fine cross-section of his work over the years, giving a look at both his comedic songs and heartfelt ballads. Similarly, both his early tenure in Hollywood and his later years on Broadway are given roughly equal attention.

Unfortunately, Sony has opted not to grant this Loesser primer a physical CD release, almost causing the set to slip under the reissue radar. Heart and Soul is available through digital providers such as iTunes and Amazon MP3, and for those (like yours truly) interested in a physical disc, a CD-R with full artwork and booklet is available exclusively through Arkivmusic.com. Arkiv specializes in classical recordings but has recently entered into an agreement with Sony that has seen many of its classic cast albums restored to the catalog (some in remastered and/or expanded form) as CD-Rs available only through the Arkiv website.

The track listing for Heart and Soul follows after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 1, 2010 at 00:09

Posted in Compilations, News, Reissues