The Second Disc

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Archive for October 12th, 2010

Reissue Theory: Tony Bennett, “Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today!”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on well-known albums of the past and the reissues they could someday see. This installment spins what may be the least-loved Tony Bennett LP into a lost classic for the ages.

Today’s Reissue Theory takes a look at one of the most reviled albums of all time, the LP thought to be the nadir of a career still going strong after nearly 50 years. The artist is Tony Bennett, and the album is Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today! , released in the final days of 1969.

Long before he encouraged Santana, Barry Manilow and Rod Stewart to do the same, then-Columbia Records chief Clive Davis felt the solution to Bennett’s declining sales in the rapidly-changing music biz of the late 1960s was simple: record familiar pop/rock songs. The result was an album that was and is anathema to the artist, who still can’t resist the opportunity to bring it up in interviews. In 2006, he told writer Mitch Albom, “To this day, if I had my druthers, I would take it out of my catalogue.” True to his word,  the infamous Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today! has never appeared on CD, but it’s fair game for Reissue Theory. (The LP does have its own Facebook page, however!)

Bennett has volunteered that he got physically ill immediately prior to the first sessions for the album. The story goes that it led to his departure from Columbia and his founding of his own label, Improv, which had its greatest success with Bennett’s artistically-triumphant collaborations with jazz giant Bill Evans. This is all true, but the break with Columbia was hardly lickety-split. Bennett actually remained at the label for another two years, with releases drawn from previous material continuing to appear through 1975. In 1972, he signed for two albums with MGM/Verve, continuing to pepper his releases with contemporary material. Only with the 1973 founding of Improv did Bennett return exclusively to the Great American Songbook he helped popularize, exploring his art as a jazz singer of the highest order.

So why a reissue of Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today!? Could an album so vilified actually have worthwhile music to offer? Of course it does. Hit the jump to find out about those diamonds in the rough. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 12, 2010 at 17:00

Posted in Features, Reissues, Tony Bennett

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Playlist Tracks Aplenty

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Way back in August, The Second Disc reported on a flood of titles in Legacy’s budget Playlist series. Today, a whole bunch of them are released, and if you haven’t yet made your weekly trip to the record store and were wondering what might be in store, you’ll have your answer after the jump.

Read on to see the newest compilations for Barry Manilow, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Isley Brothers, gospel titles from Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton and much more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 12, 2010 at 15:35

Kritzerland Crosses “Bridge” and Unearths the Tortures of “Sadismo!”

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Hopefully fans of classic 1960s film scores have been saving their pennies, as the limited editions just keep on comin’.

Intrada just made available two classic western scores from Universal; Kritzerland has two briskly-selling new releases now available, both rescued from the MGM library. Making its debut in any medium is Les Baxter’s score to 1967’s shockfest, Sadismo. The American International release was one of a series of documentaries spawned by 1962’s Mondo Cane, each film featuring graphic scenes of torture and brutality. No wonder, then, that Sadismo hasn’t seen a video release. The score, however, shouldn’t languish in the same obscurity as the film; as producer Bruce Kimmel points out, it’s “Baxter in full exotica mode, and he truly puts the mondo in the music.” Whatever the dubious merits of the films, the Mondo series sure did produce great music; Mondo Cane introduced the now-standard “More” (“More than the greatest love the world has known…”) to the world. Baxter has already been represented this year by La-La Land reissues of his scores to Hell’s Belles and Beach Blanket Bingo; Sadismo is a worthy follow-up. (And it certainly has the most wickedly fun title!)

In a more serious vein, Kimmel restores to catalogue the score to Richard Attenborough’s 1977 film A Bridge Too Far, composed and conducted by John Addison (Tom Jones, Torn Curtain). An all-star cast included Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman and Liv Ullman, and the screenplay was by acclaimed writer William Goldman. Rykodisc previously released this original United Artists soundtrack album as part of its MGM Soundtrack series, but it is long out-of-print and has actually been one of the most difficult titles in that series to find. A Bridge Too Far has been totally remastered for this edition, and features new liner notes.

Both Sadismo and A Bridge Too Far are available in limited editions of 1,000 copies; Kimmel reports to Film Score Monthly‘s message board that A Bridge Too Far is nearly 80% sold out only one day after its release.

Hit the jump for track listings with sound samples for both titles.  The cue titles for Sadismo alone are worth the click…as the tag line for the film asked, “HOW MUCH SHOCK CAN YOU STAND?” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 12, 2010 at 14:16

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Legacy Plays Brubeck on New Compilation

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Legacy Recordings recently announced the kick-off to a yearlong celebration of master jazz pianist Dave Brubeck – who turns 90 on December 6 – with a new compilation of Brubeck’s legendary Columbia material.

Legacy of a Legend is a two-disc, 21-track compilation spanning from 1954 to 1970 and compiled by Brubeck himself, featuring great performances in studio and in concert from Brubeck and his classic quartet (including bassist Eugene Wright, sax player Paul Desmond and drummer Joe Morello). There’s also one previously unreleased gem on this set: a live version of “Three to Get Ready” recorded at the quartet’s final concert in 1967.

The set will be available November 16, ahead of Brubeck’s 90th birthday, which will see the airing of a new Turner Classic Movies documentary (Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way) produced by Clint Eastwood. Legacy also promises a year’s worth of Brubeck celebrations; place your bets on an oversized complete albums box set for the coming year. Read the press release here and hit the jump for the track list!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 12, 2010 at 11:48

Universal, Intrada Raid Vaults for Western/War Scores

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Intrada’s biggest release last year was the score for Back to the Future, but this month sees the label going back to the past with Universal Pictures’ help, with the premiere release of two 1960s soundtracks by Bronislau Kaper and Dimitri Tiomkin.

It’s been a relatively big year for reissues of both mens’ work – Kritzerland reissued two of their Western scores on one disc last month, and Kaper was the subject of a three-disc set from Film Score Monthly in July – and now Intrada releases Kaper’s score to Tobruk, a 1967 World War II picture with Rock Hudson and George Peppard, and The War Wagon, a Tiomkin score for a John Wayne Western from the same year.

Both sets, released for the first time ever, are remixed in stereo directly from Universal’s original multitrack elements, which can be happily reported as in mint condition. Each disc is limited to 2,000 copies and costs $19.99. Satisfy your curiosity after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 12, 2010 at 10:40

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks