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Archive for December 2010

The Year in Reissues, Part III: The Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Well, another New Year is in sight, the CD still isn’t dead (told you so!) and celebration is in the air at The Second Disc. Back on December 23, Mike shared The Year in Reissues both here and over with our pals at Popdose. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 bucks until you read these indispensable columns!

Are you back with me? Good. Now, I’d like to take this opportunity to take a fun look back at a few of my favorite things via Joe’s Gold Bonus Disc Awards! I’m awarding these to the reissues that have raised the bar over the past 12 months. You’ll notice a number of titles that have already been praised by Mike, as well as new entries, but overall, I’ve simply tried to recognize as many diverse, worthy releases as possible. It’s my sincere hope, though, that you’ll take a chance on a title previously unknown to you; all of the artists, producers, and labels mentioned here have kept great music alive in 2010.

Friends, as always, please share your thoughts and comments below. Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2010’s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

The Final Burton/Elfman Non-troversy

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If there’s any ongoing bad blood about Warner Bros. The Danny Elfman & Tim Burton 25th Anniversary Music Box, The Second Disc accepts full responsibility. We were excited when it was announced and we were floored by the track list (and the price). But when other retailers started taking orders for what was supposed to be a limited edition, direct-order set, there was a lot of confusion in the air. Then, after the limited first run had sold out, direct buyers were promised a signed bonus disc – arguably not the best way to announce it, after there was no chance of ordering a copy for oneself.

Well, a Film Score Monthly message board user has received his bonus disc. And if you were hoping for some exclusive content…well, keep hoping. The bonus disc acts as a sampler for the whole set, distinguished of course by the composer’s signature on the case itself. But there is not – we repeat, not – any new or exclusive music on the bonus disc.

In a way, that’s a good thing. Yes, the FSM boards will bitch (oh, how they will bitch!), but first-run buyers now have a nice exclusive – Elfman’s signature – and no other music with which to taunt second-run buyers on Amazon and elsewhere. Of course, this sigh of relief could have been prevented had there been more up-front, transparent info from the get-go – but that argument is getting more and more repetitive, isn’t it?

Without further ado, hit the jump for the bonus disc track list.

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 31, 2010 at 09:06


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We’re just about to put the “Closed” sign on the door of The Second Disc HQ, but should any of you stumble upon The Second Disc on Christmas, I want this to be the first thing you see for two reasons.

One, you’re going to find a compendium below of all the Christmas articles Joe and myself have done this season. Let them fill you with Christmas cheer whenever you need some!

And second, and most importantly, may you, the treasured reader of The Second Disc, have a Merry, Merry Christmas and a happy holiday weekend. We’re not going to take off a tremendous amount of time, but we’re definitely going to rest and relax (and enjoy great music!) tomorrow and Sunday, and I hope you do the same – preferably with someone you love. If I may speak for both myself and Joe, we’re continuously honored and thankful for your readership over what’s almost been a full year – and 2011 will hopefully be an even bigger and better year for all of us as catalogue enthusiasts!

Stay safe, warm and merry this weekend, and we’ll see you very soon! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2010 at 16:12

Review: James Brown, “The Complete James Brown Christmas”

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What artists do you associate with Christmas? The Beach Boys? Andy Williams? Perry Como? How about James Brown?

That last one isn’t a name one might immediately associate with the holiday season, outside of December 25, 2006 being the day of his death. But Brown cut no less than three holiday albums during his career, and for the first time, Hip-o Select has compiled those LPs (and more, naturally) into a two-disc set, The Complete James Brown Christmas (Polydor/Hip-o Select B0014791-02). The best Yuletide albums, of course, involve an artist taking Christmas classics and making them their own. The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, however, took that idea and ran with it as only he could.

You see, the three albums contained herein – Christmas Songs (King KLP-1010, 1966), Soulful Christmas (King KS-1040, 1968) and Hey America (King KS-1124, 1970) – are Christmas albums. But they’re also James Brown albums – funky, riff-y affairs that could be sampled for eons – and the dichotomy between both genres is the highlight of this set. Christmas Songs is exactly what it says: a lot of standards (“Merry Christmas Baby,” “Please Come Home for Christmas” and two versions of “The Christmas Song”) and a couple of great originals (the jaunty “Merry Christmas, I Love You” and the super-serious “Let’s Make This Christmas Mean Something This Year”). Gradually, Brown shifts away from the classics and forges his own path for the holidays.

That path was no more evident than on the second album, Soulful Christmas. While there are great originals on this set – perhaps the best of the three, including “Let’s Unite the Whole World at Christmas Time” and the instrumentals “You Know It” and “Believers Shall Enjoy (Non-Believers Shall Suffer)” – the standout tune has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” had already been released as a 45 in August of 1968 and topped the R&B charts, but its full album version debuted, in all places, on Soulful Christmas. Its inclusion on the set is somewhat jarring for those who were expecting straightforward Christmas cheer, but who are we to argue with greatness from JB?

The final album, Hey America, is the shortest and perhaps least focused of the three, but it still boasts some quality if off-the-wall tunes, including “Santa Claus is Definitely Here to Stay” and the slow-burning, spoken-word “My Rapp.” Its presence on Disc 2 is augmented by some great single-only edits and versions. A single including “You Know It” and “Believers Shall Enjoy” included some great alternate organ solos (done by Brown himself but overdubbed on LP by staff producer Gene Redd), and instrumentals of “Hey America” and “Santa Claus is Definitely Here to Stay” will get your holiday party guests movin’ and shakin’. To complement a nicely presented package, there’s some pretty gift wrap, too, in the form of an authoritative essay by former JB tour manager Alan Leeds, who detailed Brown’s growing affection for the season of giving over the years and the construction of these unique albums in the JB canon (which, it should be noted, were among his first studio albums made as albums, rather than compilations of singles and other tracks).

The spirit of the holiday season and the buoyancy of James Brown’s funky Famous Flames mesh stunningly well together, and this new collection is the best way to experience it, all in one place. Play The Complete James Brown Christmas at your holiday party and you’ll be grinning as widely as Brown himself does on the cover.

Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2010 at 15:36

Reissue Theory: The Beatles at Christmas

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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. With one day before Christmas, the discussion turns to a long-lost Yuletide treasure still unreleased on CD – the release of which would be…Fab.

One of the most common complaints about the hype about The Beatles on iTunes was the lack of vault material beyond the Washington, D.C. concert on film. Live at the Hollywood Bowl, any of the U.S. albums – countless ways to package the stuff digitally past what was reissued last year.

Perhaps the most appropriate thing from the vault to reflect on, in the twilight of another Christmas season, are the seven flexi-discs Beatles Fan Club members in the U.K. received each December. The short bits of holiday greetings, skits, jokes and the odd tune from John, Paul, George and Ringo were a nice treat for British fan club members (but not American ones until around 1966 or so), but have never made a full, official, Apple-sanctioned appearance on CD.

That’s not to say they’ve never been released by Apple themselves. In 1970, after the band broke up earlier in the year, the label released a full LP of all the material from the seven original discs (it was called The Beatles Christmas Album in the U.S. and From Then to You in the U.K.). While it’s an official release, it was not a high-quality one, being sourced from the original flexi-discs and not the master tapes. An edit of “Christmas Time is Here Again,” an original from the 1967 disc, was to be included on a 1985 Beatles outtakes compilation called Sessions, but it was scrapped by EMI. (The song appeared as a B-side to the “Free As a Bird” single, one of the “new” tracks from The Beatles Anthology (1995).) Part of the 1963 single was included as bonus content on The Beatles Rock Band video game.

Maybe next Christmas, boys? (Not that they’re impossible to find on the Internet.) Here’s the track list after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2010 at 14:44

More ZTT and All That

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Not only is a deluxe edition of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Liverpool prepped for February 2011, but another vault-clearing compilation is on the way from the ZTT label.

Zang Tuum Tumb and The Art of the 12″ is two discs’ worth of rare or unreleased dance cuts from the best acts to ever grace the roster from 1983 to 1989 or so: Frankie, Propaganda, Art of Noise, 808 State and plenty more. It’s also got a handful of those distinctively ZTT short tracks that ended up on the odd single from time to time.

The set is available February 7 (the same day as the Liverpool reissue), and the track list is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2010 at 13:11

Review: John Williams, “Home Alone: Expanded Original Motion Picture Score”

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When you discuss the best modern entry into the Christmas music canon, most discussion centers on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The 1994 song did a fantastic job of paying tribute to the always-excellent A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector (1963), bringing the Wall of Sound to the ’90s, and it’s lived on for over 15 years.

One Yuletide tune that deserves your attention from earlier in that decade, however, is “Somewhere in My Memory,” the heartwarming main theme from the holiday comedy Home Alone (1990). Master composer John Williams has spent the past 35 years of his career delivering eminently hummable, popular film melodies, and Home Alone was no exception. Several Williams originals – with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, no less – formed the backbone to one of (if not the) most memorable scores to a Christmas film; now, two decades later, La La Land Records has honored the film’s surprisingly rich legacy with a limited edition expansion of Williams’ music to the film (La La Land Records LLLCD1158). After the jump, have a look at the story behind one of The Maestro’s most spirited score and its new presentation on disc!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2010 at 11:41

Posted in Reissues, Reviews, Soundtracks

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Going Back to “Liverpool”

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Earlier this year, ZTT’s ongoing reissue campaign gave us a 25th anniversary edition of Welcome to the Pleasuredome, the hit LP from U.K. dance-pop act Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Next year, ZTT and Salvo Music are releasing a similarly expanded version of Liverpool, Frankie’s follow-up and finale.

By the album’s release in late 1986, England was suffering from serious Frankie overexposure. Their singles were everywhere – “Relax,” “Two Tribes” and “The Power of Love” had all topped the U.K. charts, and “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” was haughtily promoted as their next No. 1 single. It missed the pole position by one spot, not a failure by most standards but the beginning of the end if ever there was one. Liverpool, recorded all over the world and experimenting with some harder rock and dance sounds, only hit No. 5 in Frankie’s native country, with only lead single “Rage Hard” going Top 10. After a 1987 tour, lead singer Holly Johnson split for a solo career, and Frankie said little else.

This latest entry in ZTT’s Element Edition series of reissues includes a nice amount of B-sides and outtakes, as well as the debut appearance on CD of the cassette single megamixes of “Warriors of the Wasteland” and “Watching the Wildlife.” It’s due out February 7 and the track list can be seen after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2010 at 10:20

Fly Him to the Moon

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Nobody’s denying the greatness of Rod Stewart’s early career, both with The Faces and on his own. But since 2002, the man can’t stop putting out MOR albums devoted to The Great American Songbook. And it’s inspired a host of copycats, from Barry Manilow to Phil Collins.

Not content with his five(!) Songbook LPs, J Records will release The Best of The Great American Songbook next year. It’s a no-frills collection of the highlights of all those albums and will probably sell a million copies to the surprise of both everyone and no one.

Curious folks: order it here and parse the track list after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 23, 2010 at 12:28

John Barleycorn Must Be Expanded

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Well, at least it will be expanded. Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die (1970) is coming out as a double-disc deluxe edition in February.

Originally intended as Steve Winwood’s first solo album after the dissolution of Blind Faith, John Barleycorn became a reunion project for Traffic and spawned several well-known songs including “Glad” and “Empty Pages.” It was also the highest-charting album of Traffic’s career in the U.S., hitting No. 5.

A previous reissue in the U.K. in 1999 added two studio tracks within the album order and added three live cuts from a show at the Fillmore East. Those live cuts were dropped for the U.S. reissue in 2001. This new set includes more from that run of concerts (which were recorded for a live album, ultimately scrapped for 1971’s Welcome to the Canteen), but does not include those studio bonus tracks. You apparently can’t win them all.

The set’s coming your way on February 7 (a U.K. release date); order it here and check the track list after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 23, 2010 at 12:02