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Archive for December 7th, 2010

Open Forum: A Holiday Head-Scratcher from WHAM! (UPDATED 12/7)

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Here’s a Christmas conundrum that’s stumping this catalogue correspondent: are there more than two versions of WHAM!’s “Last Christmas”?

A year ago this author bought a copy of The Essential NOW That’s What I Call Christmas (UMG Recordings B0011941-02, 2008). Only this year did I open the disc and discover a mix of “Last Christmas,” WHAM!’s perennial holiday chestnut, that I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before.

Most WHAM! fans can tell you that “Last Christmas” was on the opposite side of the “Everything She Wants” single during the holiday season of 1984. A version of roughly 4:27 was on the 7″ single (Epic QA-4949 (U.K.)) while the 12″ version was the “Pudding Mix” which clocked in at 6:45, with a lengthier intro and outro (Epic TA-4949 (U.K.) and later released on the U.S. LP Music from the Edge of Heaven in 1986). The version on this NOW disc, however, is 4:46 – but the differences don’t stop there. A different drum machine pattern sits in the center of the mix, and some different ad-lib vocals in the second chorus replace the second verse entirely (at which point the song jumps to the last bits of the song as heard in the Pudding Mix).

My question to you, dear reader: where does this come from? Radio stations in my area play what I’m positive is the single version; what does that make this? In an effort to further clear the air, I provide a one-minute sample of the song as heard on this CD for your listening pleasure.

Any illumination, as always, would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE (12/7): Thanks to all the commenters who contributed to solving the “Last Christmas” conundrum. Commenter AudioDile was the first of a few to note that this mix turned up on a Japanese 12″ single (Epic/Sony 123P-575, 1984). It’s listed as the “Pudding Mix,” but is obviously not. One more Christmas mystery solved, thanks to our awesome readers!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2010 at 19:54

Re-eh-sue Theory

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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. Today’s focus is on two hosers from the Great White North and the strangely funny musical legacy they left behind.

The first flurries of the new winter stuck to the lawn outside The Second Disc HQ yesterday. Inevitably, we’re going to need something to warm us up into the holiday season and the bitterest cold months of 2011. Sweaters? Check. Tuques? Check. Beer? Check.

Well, that’s not everyone’s recipe for warmth, but it’d do for the likes of Bob and Doug McKenzie, the lovable hosers on sketch show SCTV in the early 1980s. The dopey duo, played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, were among the first runaway successes of late-20th-century North American sketch comedies, not only on television but in film and – yes – on record. After the jump, take a look at the history of the McKenzies and the albums they recorded. Good day, eh? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2010 at 17:09

Posted in Features, Reissues, Soundtracks

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Back Tracks: Andy Williams at Christmas

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Welcome to the first installment in a special series of holiday-themed Back Tracks in which we’ll explore an artist’s entire seasonal catalogue!

When it comes time each year to create my annual Christmas mix for family and friends, it’s always an uphill battle to not open with Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” From the brassy fanfare to the upbeat chorus, it may be one of the ultimate Christmas anthems. This cherished song from the team of Edward Pola and George Wyle made its debut in 1963 on The Andy Williams Christmas Album. While it remains the most successful song penned by Pola and was arguably eclipsed for Wyle only by the theme to “Gilligan’s Island” (!), “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” became a theme for Andy Williams, perhaps second only to “Moon River.” (As a team, Pola and Wyle delivered other tailor-made songs to Williams, such as the tribute to his daughter, “Noelle.”) The Andy Williams Christmas Album also established the popular singer as one of the holiday genre’s foremost interpreters, and millions of television viewers welcomed the sweater-clad vocalist and his family into their homes every year when his Christmas specials became an annual tradition in the 1960s.

We kick off a special holiday series of Back Tracks with the Christmas music of Wall Lake, Iowa’s favorite son and a true voice of the American songbook, Andy Williams. Hit the jump and we’ll begin in 1963! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 7, 2010 at 11:50

Posted in Andy Williams, Features, Reissues

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Release Round-Up: Week of December 7

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ABBA, ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits – Special Edition / The Vinyl Collection (Polydor/UMe)

The most popular ABBA compilation ever gets expanded with a DVD of music videos, including a previously unreleased animated clip. Also, a deluxe box of the band’s eight LPs on vinyl alongside a ten-track record of single and non-LP tracks will be released the same day. (Official site)

Joy Division, +- (Rhino U.K.)

A box of ten partially fictional singles on vinyl to honor deceased frontman Ian Curtis, 30 years after his death. (Rhino U.K.)

Bob Dylan, The Original Mono Recordings (Vinyl) (Columbia/Legacy)

Dylan’s mono albums, just recently released to CD, get the same reissue treatment on vinyl. (Amazon)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2010 at 08:14