The Second Disc

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Archive for December 15th, 2010

Reissue Theory: “Christmas Cheers from Motown”

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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 the least-remembered Christmas album on Motown Records, from a lean but not unlistenable time in the label’s long history.

One of the best things about the holiday season is the union of two of the greatest kinds of music: Christmas carols and Motown tunes. The definitive sound of the Detroit label, when paired with holiday standards, is blissful; when Motown did well enough to start adding their own entries into the Christmas canon, it was pure, unadulterated magic.

But today’s post isn’t about the Motown Christmas tunes we all know and love, by the likes of The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Miracles and The Jackson 5. It’s a look at a much later, much different era in the label’s five decade-plus history – one that’s not heavily covered in terms of catalogue releases but one we turn our focus to today. Hit the jump for some Christmas cheers from Motown. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 15, 2010 at 17:12

Review: Michael Jackson, “Michael”

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Michael Jackson - Michael 2010Last winter, with Michael Jackson’s sudden passing not even five months in the past, Motown and Universal Music Enterprises released I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters, a ten-track compilation that was certainly the first in a long salvo of cash-in, vault-clearing titles in honor of the King of Pop (it was wisely marketed as commemorating the 40th anniversary of the J5’s first single, which was true enough). Surprisingly, after a great but ill-timed box set collecting Jackson’s solo albums and a series of not-entirely-necessary remixes from the label, I Want You Back! was a fitting tribute to the first great period of Jackson’s long career, featuring strong vault tracks that had largely never been heard before.

Anxiously, fans waited for a similar set from Epic and Legacy Recordings, controllers of what may be the most famous part of Jackson’s discography, particularly the unbroken train of solo greatness that was Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987). Sony’s first posthumous venture, a soundtrack tie-in to the This is It rehearsal film, was not kind to collectors, tacking on one vault song at the end of a hits disc and sticking a mere four demos onto a bonus CD. Finally, after a record-setting album deal and a heaping helping of controversy, the first batch of vault cuts has been released, under the simple title Michael (Epic 88697 66773-2).

In short, the album is nothing you’d expect it to be: it is not the work of a legend rising like a phoenix from the ashes of failure, and it is not a dismal, hackneyed album exemplifying how much Jackson squandered his talent. What is it, then? Let’s talk after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 15, 2010 at 14:46

Posted in Compilations, Michael Jackson, Reviews

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Eagle Rock is Still Twisted

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Fans were hoping for a decent set of remasters for the ’80s shock-rockers Twisted Sister at some point in the near future. (A previous set of reissues on the Spitfire label were of intensely dubious quality.) Unfortunately, Warner Music Group seems to have bestowed the remaster task not to Rhino but to Eagle Rock Entertainment, who’ve put out a steady stream of TS product in the past few months.

Now, on January 25, Eagle Rock has another two reissues coming out: the band’s sophomore album You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll (1983) and the first volume in the Club Daze series from 1999, collating various tracks the band recorded in the decade before being signed to Atlantic Records. These sets have the same track listings as the Spitfire versions (Club Daze was of course only ever released on that label), but one hopes they will be presented in superior quality.

Track lists and order information are after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 15, 2010 at 13:26

Back Tracks: The Christmas Sounds of the Beach Boys

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There may be no group more associated with the sounds of summer than The Beach Boys, favorite sons of Hawthorne, California. Yet the boys of summer could also accurately be described as the boys of winter, based on their timeless, perennial music celebrating Christmas. While the entire official Beach Boys Christmas catalogue is based around just one released album and another shelved one, the group’s contribution to seasonal music can’t be underestimated. On the eve of the group’s 50th anniversary, Back Tracks explores the holiday music of Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston: The Beach Boys. Hit the jump to hitch up your Little Saint Nick and join us! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 15, 2010 at 10:22