The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 27th, 2010

Back Tracks: The Cars

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The above picture is a bit of a shock, if you haven’t seen it yet: all four of the surviving members of The Cars – Ric Ocasek, Elliott Easton, Greg Hawkes and David Robinson – in a recording studio. It was posted to the official Facebook page for the Boston-based rockers on Thursday. No caption, no explanation. Just the members of The Cars, possibly gearing up for some new music.

And who’d have thought? Since the band broke up in 1988, chances seemed slim where a reunion was concerned. The death of bassist Benjamin Orr in 2000 seemed to make a reunion impossible – who would sing “Drive,” “Let’s Go” or “Just What I Needed”? – although Hawkes and Easton partook in the ridiculous New Cars project with Todd Rundgren on lead vocals. (Ocasek, for whatever reason, gave his blessing.) It’s a shame, though – there were few bands that could fuse synths and guitars like The Cars, and their perfectly crafted power pop/rock singles are the stuff of rock radio perfection to this day.

While The Cars’ future might not be so touch-and-go, we at least have a bit of catalogue titles here and there to fall in love with. Let’s go after the jump to look back at them, shall we?

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 27, 2010 at 14:51

Iconoclassic to Reissue Solo Carl Wilson and Guess Who in September

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If sensitive composer/producer Brian Wilson was the soul of The Beach Boys, and brash frontman Mike Love the voice, passionate singer/guitarist Carl Wilson was no doubt the heart. There was little Carl Wilson couldn’t do, vocally, whether the angelic tones of “God Only Knows,” the soulful shouting of “I Was Made to Love Her” or the dreamlike psychedelia of “Feel Flows.” And when brother Brian wasn’t able to guide the band through the tumultuous 1970s, Carl stepped up to the plate with an amazing run of songs bringing the band’s sound into a new decade: “Long Promised Road,” “Trader,” and the aforementioned “Feel Flows” among them. He channeled a nostalgic sound to co-write 1974’s “Good Timin’” with Brian, and also assumed the production reins to finish many of Brian’s lost masterworks, including “Surf’s Up” from the aborted SMiLE sessions.

Yet as the 1980s dawned, the Beach Boys found themselves a fractured unit. Carl, once the glue that held the group together, made the decision to embark on a solo recording career. He signed with James Guercio’s CBS-distributed Caribou label, home to Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue, and in March 1981, Carl Wilson was released. Despite the presence of the gorgeous ballad “Heaven” which was a Top 20 Adult Contemporary single, the album only reached No. 185 on the Billboard 200. Nearly two years later, in February 1983, the singer released his second and last solo effort, Youngblood. This Caribou release is being reissued for the very first time on CD on September 21 courtesy of the fine folks at Iconoclassic Records, who on the same date will be reissuing the Guess Who’s 1973 Artificial Paradise.  Hit the jump for more on the story behind these two albums, as well as the track listings and pre-order info! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 27, 2010 at 09:26

The Lady and Her Music: “The Essential Lena Horne” Coming in August

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Thanks to our friends at MusicTAP for the tip that, on August 24, Legacy will celebrate the life of a great lady of song with its release of The Essential Lena Horne: The RCA Years. Like The Essential Henry Mancini (scheduled to be released on the same day), this release is far from definitive, but appears to be a solid introduction to one period of the late Horne’s magnificent career. That career saw the artist rising from her nightclub roots to break racial barriers in Hollywood, becoming one of America’s first African-American stars. Horne made her mark in the political arena, the concert hall and the Broadway stage, as well as on record. She picked up eight Grammy Awards along the way, not to mention a Drama Desk, a Tony and an NAACP Image Award.

The Essential Lena Horne appears to span from some of Horne’s very first recordings in December 1941 through her 1975 album recorded with composer Michel Legrand, Lena and Michel. RCA was her primary recording home from the 1940s through the early 1960s, and she would return to the company from 1970 to 1976.  In between, she had stints at MGM (see Hip-o Select’s excellent overview as reported here), Charter, 20th Century Records, and United Artists Records, the latter of which saw her being refashioned as a Dionne Warwick-styled adult pop diva. Only two tracks on The Essential date past 1963, however, so this isn’t the place to find Lena’s cover recordings of “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Rocky Raccoon,” “Your Song” or “Bein’ Green.” (A compilation for another day, perhaps?)  Nor are Horne’s starmaking performances for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals here, as they have been released by Rhino/Turner Movie Music. What remains, though, is still the backbone of Horne’s recorded output, with stylish readings of standards by Cole Porter, Noel Coward, Duke Ellington and Harold Arlen, among others.

Unlike Legacy’s upcoming Mancini compilation, many of the tracks here can be are difficult to find, with few of Horne’s actual RCA LPs in print on CD, making this a welcome release for collectors. The Essential Lena Horne: The RCA Years is a 2-CD set with 38 tracks.  Pre-order here, and click on the jump for the track listing with select discographical information. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 27, 2010 at 07:55