The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 13th, 2010

Live Aid at 25

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It was 25 years ago today that two massive, historic concerts were organized for African famine relief. Live Aid, performed in London’s Wembley Arena and Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium on July 13, 1985, was one of those rare overblown rock success stories – dozens of superstars and members of rock royalty coming together not at the behest of a politician or a natural disaster, but simply because it seemed the right thing to do. It raised millions for charity, it provided a massive plug for the Concorde jet (Phil Collins took one to play at both shows) and it helped make a little Irish band one of the biggest in the world.

In 2005, after lots of eager waiting from music fans, portions of the Live Aid broadcast were released on DVD for the 20th anniversary of the shows. It wasn’t easy to get the footage on DVD; Geldof originally wanted none of the shows to be preserved on tape, to enhance the once-in-a-lifetime feel of the event. (Even American network ABC-TV willingly erased the footage when they were done with it – and backups donated to the Smithsonian Institution remain missing.) Ultimately, the shows were sourced from footage recorded by the BBC and MTV, although some of the footage and audio were edited differently than originally intended.

Whatever the merits of the DVD set may be to you, treasured reader, your humble catalogue correspondent is sure you might agree that Live Aid was an important moment in rock history, and deserves some sort of preservation. To that end, it’s curious that Live Aid organizers Bob Geldof and Midge Ure never collaborated with the major music labels to release some sort of audio-document of Live Aid (a Herculean task, to be sure, but one Geldof would probably be able to do, given his tireless sense of activism).

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you were allowed the opportunity to select which portions of the shows would be released. Assuming you could only pick five songs (to go into a pool of possible tunes), which ones would you pick? The killer version of U2’s “Bad”? Something from Queen’s incendiary set? Duran Duran? The Hooters? Madonna? That almost-Led Zeppelin reunion? Run-D.M.C.? (I’d pick any of those – and I’d throw in a bonus track recorded after Live Aid but still fitting within the context: the never-on-CD, Sport Aid charity single/remix of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Run the World.”)

Feel free to share your memories and thoughts of Live Aid below.

Written by Mike Duquette

July 13, 2010 at 12:39

Back Tracks: R.E.M. – The I.R.S. Years

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Today, the 25th anniversary reissue of R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction hits stores. Athens, Georgia’s favorite rock band has spent the past five years or so establishing their place in the pop-rock firmament: since 2006, the band’s early recordings for I.R.S. Records – a six-year span between 1982 and 1987 – have been the center of much catalogue attention from EMI and Universal (each has a piece of the I.R.S. catalogue). The four members of the band – vocalist Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and (now-retired) drummer Bill Berry – were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, their first year of eligibility. But the band hasn’t rested on their haunches amid all the adulation; 2007’s Accelerate marked a bit of a critical resurgence in the years since Berry left the group, and the band commenced recording their latest LP – their fifteenthjust months ago.

But catalogue enthusiasts should take note: although these new 25th anniversary editions of Murmur, Reckoning and Fables of the Reconstruction are stuffed with plenty of goodies in nice deluxe packages (unreleased live content for the first two and a hefty set of demos for Fables), these are far from the first reissues of these records. Chalk it up to R.E.M.’s long-standing influence in the rock world – or the fact that I.R.S. wanted a piece of the action when the band signed to Warner Bros. – but all of these LPs have been expanded in some way before.

To that end, your humble catalogue correspondents at The Second Disc present a look back at the reissues of R.E.M.’s early years, from compilations to collectors’ editions. If you’re confused about where to start, have some time alone after the jump, and you’ll feel fine.

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 13, 2010 at 12:01

Posted in Compilations, Features, Reissues, REM

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