The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 6th, 2010

Score Round-Up: Intrada Goes to Washington and La-La Land is the Judge

leave a comment »

The week (or post-holiday part of the week) kicks off few release notes from around the soundtrack catalogue labels. Intrada has two releases – one which celebrates another hero of the early days of the U.S.A. – and La-La Land has a two-fer dealing with the films of a biting American satirist.

Intrada’s releases are The Black Bird – Jerry Fielding’s 1976 score to the goofy semi-sequel to The Maltese Falcon – and Laurence Rosenthal’s score to the 1984 miniseries George Washington (the label previously released Bruce Broughton’s score to George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation (1986)). Both sets are making their first appearance on CD, and Washington will be a two-disc set. (It’s limited to 1,000 copies, while The Black Bird tops out at 1,500.)

La-La Land, meanwhile, has prepped a set of scores to the first two films by Mike Judge. The writer/director gained notoriety for his MTV staple Beavis and Butt-head and later crossed over into more mainstream animation with the FOX comedy King of the Hill. But it’s his first two live-action films, 1999’s Office Space and 2006’s Idiocracy, that may be the most hilarious. Each provide a biting send-up of their subject matter (corporate culture in the first and the American stereotype against thinking in the second) and, while neither set the box office on fire, they have become best-sellers on DVD and are entrenched in the American comedy canon. La-La Land presents the complete scores to each film (Office Space scored by John Frizell and Idiocracy composed by Theodore Shapiro) with a handful of alternates and source cues for Idiocracy. The set is limited to 1,200 copies and early batches will be autographed by each composer.

Check out each track listing after the jump, and head to the Intrada order pages here and here, and the La-La Land order page here. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 6, 2010 at 12:23

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Review: “Promises, Promises: Original MGM Broadway Cast Recording”

with 6 comments

The Fourth of July isn’t usually a holiday known for gifts. But your humble reviewer felt as if he got a gift, and what a gift!, on July 3 when Kritzerland’s limited edition deluxe 2-CD reissue of the original cast album of Promises, Promises (KR 20015-9) arrived in the mail. As a result, much of the weekend was spent listening to an album I’ve known for years, but hearing it as if for the first time. For background on this release, see The Second Disc’s post of June 14 and join us after reading. Up to speed? Great!

Disc 1 marks the CD debut of the Grammy-winning album mix of the 1968 United Artists release, produced by Henry Jerome and Phil Ramone, a close collaborator of Promises’ composer Burt Bacharach. The difference between the mix here and that used on both previous CD reissues from Rykodisc (RCD 10750) and Varese Sarabande (302 066 647 2) is quite audible to anyone familiar with the album. James Nelson’s mastering is crisp and clear, and if the album itself has harsh somewhat harsh stereo separation, it’s a marked improvement over previous CD releases of the LP. Producer Bruce Kimmel’s liner notes point out one of the reasons why this album has such a unique sound: Promises, Promises was actually recorded with a chamber-type reverb, rather than adding reverb during the mix. Promises was the first show to implement a recording studio-style setup in the theatre, complete with mixing board, to allow Bacharach’s patented sound to survive the translation to live performance. The LP beautifully captures the nuances in Bacharach and David’s bright score, Jonathan Tunick’s dynamic, pulsating orchestrations (best heard in the Overture, still one of the most thrilling ever penned) and of course, the performances by Jerry Orbach, Jill O’Hara, Edward Winter, Donna McKechnie and others.

But the real revelation is Disc 2 of Kritzerland’s set. I’m usually hesitant to use the word “revelation” as it’s a mite hyperbolic. But this completely remixed version of the album (from the edited eight-track session masters), produced by Kimmel, mixed by John Adams and mastered by Nelson, is worthy of any and all plaudits sent its way. The remix allows the score to be heard anew. The soundstage is much larger with instruments and voices spread in a more natural setting. Listening to it, I actually felt as if I was in the Shubert Theatre, circa 1968. Quirks in an orchestration I thought I knew well are audible for the first time and the omnipresent Bacharach background singers (lending the score a flavor unlike that of any other Broadway musical) can be heard with improved clarity. For the first time, individual vocalists shine through on the hymn-like chorale “Christmas Day.” Much is made at mastering engineer Steve Hoffman’s audiophile forum about a recording’s “breath of life.” Well, the breath of life is indeed present on this reissue of the seminal Bacharach and David score. Bacharach’s melodies are not only inventive, but they could practically tell the musical’s story alone: “A Young, Pretty Girl Like You” is a funny melody. How many composers could pull that off with no gimmicky tricks or effects? “Knowing When to Leave” veers from pensive to determined in one song while “She Likes Basketball” sounds like unbridled optimism and discovery. (And it does so in waltz time!) Of course, Hal David’s lyrics match the melodies song for song.

And then there’s Kimmel’s judicious use of pitch correction techniques on the vocal performances. Perhaps as a result of the time-honed practice of recording Broadway cast albums in one day (usually on the actors’ day off, a Monday, after the performers are already tired from an eight-show week), many of the performers on Promises, Promises were off-pitch throughout. Modern technology has corrected that, and wow, what a difference it makes! Jerry Orbach, who already imbued his performance with personality and character, actually sounds more youthful, more vibrant and more present on the disc. To anyone familiar with the LP, the pitch-correction of Orbach’s performance will be instantly noticeable. “She Likes Basketball” soars even more than before, “Half as Big as Life” is filled with even more yearning and drive. Edward Winter’s “Wanting Things” similarly is improved a hundredfold by these subtle tweaks. The integrity of these indelible original performances is intact, but they have been remarkably transformed all the same. As if all that isn’t enough, the LP’s tracks are finally restored to show order (it’s odd hearing the groovy instrumental “Grapes of Roth” in its correct spot!) and a bonus track is included of Jill O’Hara’s version of the title song. Kimmel also supplies liner notes filled with his personal recollections that clearly show just how much this album has meant to him over the years and what a labor of love this project is. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 6, 2010 at 11:31

Posted in Burt Bacharach, Reissues, Reviews

Tagged with

Come Back When You Grow Up: Lost Bobby Vee Tracks to See Release

with 2 comments

The early 1960s could be thought of as the era of the Bobbys: Darin, Rydell, Vee. Despite rising to prominence in the unfairly-derided period between the birth of rock & roll and the British Invasion, these post-Elvis pop stars all stormed the charts and left behind great recorded legacies. Darin was a multi-faceted entertainer who touched on pop, standards and folk-rock with equal ability before passing away at a too-young age, Rydell waxed some of the most indelible pop confections out of Philadelphia and Vee was a prime exponent of the work of the Brill Building’s best and brightest. He took Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Take Good Care of My Baby” to No. 1 in 1961 and was admired by no less a friend than Bob Dylan; he survived the British onslaught and continued having big hits through 1967’s No. 3 “Come Back When You Grow Up”, making final chart appearances in 1970. He, like Rydell, still tours and records today.

Bobby Vee’s complete Liberty singles were released by EMI Gold in the United Kingdom in the impressive 3-disc box set The Singles Collection (0946 3 67379 2 8), comprising the American A & B sides, U.K.-only singles, rare versions and Italian language renditions over 95 tracks. Now, a companion to that 2006 set is slated for release later this year. Entitled Rare and Unreleased Gems from the EMI/Capitol Vaults, the 2-CD set will feature 60 tracks recorded between 1959 and 2002. While EMI Gold is currently only planning a British release, Vee is currently attempting to secure a release by the American Capitol label. Among the 60 tracks are rare Vee renditions of songs by Carole King and Burt Bacharach, with musicians including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell. In this interview with The St. Cloud Times, it’s mentioned that over 130 unreleased Vee songs reside in the vaults; while the 60 tracks currently scheduled for release represent the cream of the crop, it’s not impossible that the others will see the light of day.  The interview link also contains video footage and song samples that are well worth checking out.

Click after the jump for the full track listing, with thanks to IMWAN forum member Wony252. The still-active musician and singer Bobby Vee sees his Rare and Unreleased Gems from the EMI/Capitol Vaults scheduled for release in the United Kingdom in October. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 6, 2010 at 11:21