The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 8th, 2010

Back Tracks: The Apple Tree, Part I

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The news of the Apple Records catalogue getting a new remastering and reissuing is one of the many catalogue stories one should file under “cautious optimism.” It is awesome to have these classic, underappreciated records from luminaries like Badfinger, James Taylor and Billy Preston back into local record shops, bearing fresh digital remasters by the team that did a pretty darn good job on last year’s Beatles remasters.

But there are things we have to remember as fans. First, pretty much all of this material has been put out on disc before – some of it even had bonus content (which the new remasters will hopefully replicate and expand upon) – plus, although these LPs are going to be released digitally (the first in the Apple catalogue to receive such treatment), it’s not going to be the litmus test for the (hopefully) eventual iTunes release of The Beatles’ catalogue. (As good as these artists are, you can’t tell me they’ll indicate how The Beatles will sell digitally. Not that EMI seems to be banking on that notion, but even so.)

Anyway, with some time to go before the October 25 reissue date for these albums, The Second Disc provides you with a look back at this material and how it was released on CD in the past. This is the first in a two-part series; Part 2, to be posted tomorrow, will look at the other parts of the Apple catalogue not covered in this upcoming reissue campaign – namely, a few soundtracks and all the music released on the label by anyone who was a Beatle.

Have a go at Apple’s Back Tracks after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 8, 2010 at 15:30

Reissue Theory: D’Angelo, “Brown Sugar”

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The music industry is too often based upon unreachable expectations. An artist will sell millions of copies and gain critical acclaim and widespread public admiration on one album, and get lambasted come the next record for not perfectly matching the arc of their predecessor. Ridiculously, nobody takes the time out to realize that holy crap, for some fleeting moment, an artist unified the public through their music. Even if an artist is only fleetingly consistent (like Guns N’ Roses) or maddeningly consistent (like Sade), it’s worth noting with at least some interest when a legacy artist comes from virtually nowhere to flex their creative muscles.

Case in point: Michael Archer, better known by his stage name D’Angelo, was a virtual force of nature in the mid-1990s/early-2000s R&B scene. With a voice that was equal parts Maxwell and Marvin Gaye and a style that was as sacred as it was sultry, D’Angelo became one of the pioneers of the burgeoning neo-soul movement alongside luminaries like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and Maxwell. His debut LP, 1995’s Brown Sugar, was a Top 5 R&B hit, a double platinum record and a four-time Grammy nominee; follow-up Voodoo (2000) sold almost as much, topped the Billboard 200 and managed to win two Grammys.

And then: nothing. He’s been working on stuff, sure, but no LP to blow audiences away like he did throughout the latter half of the ’90s. But that’s alright, because we have that music he did give to us, and what music it is. As a matter of fact, not even a week ago was it 15 years since Brown Sugar made its way into stores. It’s a bit past the mark, but a deluxe edition of the record would be something else – and thanks to producer Nile Rodgers’ active hand in social media (despite the fact he had nothing to do with the album), we now know there’s a nice bit of unreleased material to be had for an expanded set (not to mention some tracks on compilations and soundtracks here and there).

Get ready to get funky in a hypothetical way with a Reissue Theory look at D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 8, 2010 at 11:15

Posted in D'Angelo, Features, Reissues

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Starr-Struck: Vini Poncia and Jackie Lomax, Reissued

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Oh my, my! Ringo Starr turned 70 on July 7 and celebrated with a concert at Radio City Music Hall and an afternoon “Peace and Love” celebration. After the breakup of The Beatles, few would have believed what a prolific career the former Richard Starkey would have; his 15th studio album, Y Not, saw release via Hip-O Records just this past January.

Ringo’s always gotten by, well, with a little help from his friends. His first solo LP, 1970’s Sentimental Journey, found George Martin in the producer’s chair, and famous friends like Maurice Gibb, Quincy Jones and Klaus Voormann contributing arrangements. In 1973, Starr released Ringo, not only a platinum-selling smash but notable for the appearance of all four Beatles (though no more than three on one track!). Y Not completes the circle with McCartney again appearing, alongside Van Dyke Parks, Joss Stone, Joe Walsh, Ben Harper and Richard Marx. Yet a lesser-known figure was one of Starr’s key collaborators throughout the 1970s, singer and songwriter Vini Poncia.  Poncia first joined Ringo as co-writer and musician on Ringo, and continued contributing on 1974’s Goodnight, Vienna and 1976’s Ringo’s Rotogravure. The Starr/Poncia team wrote the majority of the Arif Mardin-helmed Ringo the 4th in 1977, and Poncia finally ascended to the producer’s chair a year later for Bad Boy.

But before his association with Starr, Poncia was best-known for his work as a songwriter teamed with Peter Anders. Anders and Poncia, along with Norman Marzano, recorded as early as 1960 as The Videls, under which name they scored with single “Mr. Lonely.” Brought into the Brill Building scene by the legendary Doc Pomus, the duo teamed with Phil Spector. That association led to classic songs including “The Best Part of Making Up” and “Do I Love You” for The Ronettes, and roles for Anders and Poncia in Spector’s house band. After parting ways with Spector, Anders and Poncia found themselves working for more rock royalty in the form of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, at Red Bird Records. Shortly thereafter, Anders and Poncia were christened The Tradewinds, as whom they released an LP in 1967, Excursions, on the Kama Sutra label (KLPS-8057). Excursions included the hit 1965 single “New York’s a Lonely Town,” an intoxicating, harmony-laden gem that brought the sound of The Beach Boys east to New York and the Brill Building. Other tracks on the album were more far-out including 1966’s “Mind Excursion,” as psychedelic as its title would imply. But the times they were a-changin’, and so did Anders and Poncia. For their next LP, they were known as The Innocence and delivered a self-titled set for Kama Sutra (KLPS-8059). This album also looked west, but in a gentler, more ethereal sunshine pop vein. Anders and Poncia would record in their own name before splitting up, and Poncia would go on to not only collaborate with Starr, but to co-write with Leo Sayer the smash hit “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” for Sayer’s album Endless Flight.

Both titles have been difficult to find on CD, available only as grey-market editions and Japanese pressings. Cherry Red’s Rev-Ola division now makes them available in new reissues, each with two bonus tracks. Excursions hits U.S. shores next Tuesday, July 13, and can be pre-ordered here; The Innocence was scheduled to drop the same day, but it may be delayed until August 16 for its initial U.K. release, with an American date usually coming shortly thereafter. It can be pre-ordered here.

Another Starr pal was soulful singer Jackie Lomax. Ringo played on his single “Sour Milk Sea” written and produced by George Harrison for The Beatles’ Apple label. It’s just been announced that Lomax’s 1968 Apple long-player Is This What You Want?, with Starr on drums, will see reissue this fall via EMI and Apple. But Rev-Ola’s RPM label has recently unearthed Lost Soul: Singles and Demos 1966-1967 collecting loose ends from Lomax from that pre-Apple period, including his work with The Lomax Alliance. These tracks should be of real interest to folk-rock fans, recorded with John Simon at the board and Roy Halee among the engineers. One included solo single is the Robert Stigwood-produced “Genuine Imitation Life” (famously recorded by The Four Seasons) b/w “One Minute Woman,” a composition by the Gibb brothers. As a bonus, Disc 2 of Lost Soul comprises the 1974 LP White Lady by his post-Apple band, Badger, recorded for Epic Records and produced by Allen Toussaint. Lost Soul streets next Tuesday, as well, and can be pre-ordered here.

Check out the track listings for these works by Ringo’s collaborators after the jump, and take a minute to wish Ringo a very happy 70th…and of course, peace and love to all! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 8, 2010 at 08:51

Posted in News, Reissues