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Archive for January 2011

Short Takes: Legacy’s New Essentials, Concord’s New Jazz Reissues and a Catalogue Score from Perserverance

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  • Legacy’s latest release schedule update promises three new titles in the Essential series: Paul Revere & The Raiders, Django Reinhardt and Eartha Kitt. All are going to be double disc sets, and specifically, the Raiders set (compiled by Bob Irwin of Sundazed Music) will feature some promo-only tracks and some mono single mixes. All are due on March 15.
  • Concord has four new reissues of classic jazz titles also planned for March 15. They are Monk’s Music (1958) by Thelonious Monk, Cal Tjader/Stan Getz Sextet (1958), Ugetsu (1963) by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and Ella Fitzerald and Oscar Peterson’s Ella and Oscar (1975). At least two of them will feature bonus tracks. Read here for some more info.
  • Perseverance Records, which scored a coup in the film score world by releasing the soundtracks to Red Sonja and Rain Man last year, have another victory on hand: the music to the 1989 sci-fi film Slipstream, composed by Elmer Bernstein. It’s due on an unspecified date in the future.

Pearl Jam Reissue Details Trickling Out

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We’ve previously covered the forthcoming wave of Pearl Jam reissues from Legacy, this time pertaining to the band’s second and third LPs Vs. (1993) and Vitalogy (1995). It seems that these sets might be closer to stores than previously known, thanks to some Amazon listings.

The retailer has March 29 dates for expanded editions of each album, as well as a box that looks to collate both of them with possible additional material. (This clears up a bit of confusion from a Rolling Stone story that seemed to suggest that there would indeed be a box set of both albums in one package.) Interestingly, there are provisional track listings attached to each page (well, attached to the Vs. and deluxe box set pages, at least) that indicate at least three bonus tracks for each of the albums. Vs. will have three non-LP songs (at least two of which were previously released in some form) while Vitalogy will feature three alternate versions of songs from the original LP.

Presumably, the deluxe box (which has nice-looking packaging) will feature a wealth of riches on par with the Ten box released in 2009. Assuming that’s the case, you might want to place a pre-order; the box is priced shockingly low – at just over $35 as of this writing. Information is certainly still to come on these sets, so tune in to The Second Disc to be ready when it arrives! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 31, 2011 at 13:15

The Name Was Barry

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It is with a heavy heart that I pass along to you the news that film composer John Barry died on Sunday. Barry, a five-time Oscar winner, is of course best known for his work on 12 of the 22 James Bond films. Though his authorship of the iconic theme is under dispute even after a U.K. court ruled that it was Dr. No composer Monty Norman’s work alone, Barry is still the name most synonymous with Bond music, and crafted some of the series’ best themes.

The timing of Barry’s passing comes at an unusual time for this author: while entertaining some friends this weekend, a lively discussion of the music of 007 took place. While my friends have diverse musical interests, it’s rare that our tastes truly sync up when it comes to works of a catalogue-oriented nature. So comparing and contrasting our favorite Bond songs and which of the LPs we owned on CD or vinyl is now a particularly treasured memory. The loss of Barry reminds me that our musical heroes should be celebrated whenever and wherever possible; you never know when music helps deepen a bond (no pun intended) that was already pretty strong to begin with, or form a new one entirely.

We may do some sort of feature on Barry’s film musc, but if nothing else, I wanted to say a few words in honor of one of the best film composers of the 20th century, by far. Rest in peace, John Barry.

Written by Mike Duquette

January 31, 2011 at 11:04

New Neil Diamond Compilation: How Much Bang for Your Buck? (UPDATED 2/2)

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Come this March, Neil Diamond won’t be such a solitary man. Diamond will find plenty of stellar company when he’s inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 14.  While Diamond has maintained his superstar status in both the recording studio and the concert stage for 45 years, chances are that the recordings he made for Bang Records between 1966 and 1968 were foremost on voters’ minds when choosing to induct the singer into the venerable hall. It’s during this period that Diamond “graduated” from the Brill Building ranks and established himself as a formidable rock and roll force with the albums The Feel of Neil Diamond and Just for You for Bert Berns’ vibrant New York label.

Yet the 27 unique recordings released by Diamond on Bang (consisting of 25 individual songs, with “Shilo” and “Solitary Man” released in two distinct versions each) have for the most part been unavailable in the CD era. A 1983 compilation, Classics: The Early Years (Columbia 38792), was duly issued on compact disc in 1986, but only collected twelve of Diamond’s hits. Other Bang rarities have since trickled out on various box sets and anthologies, but the Bang era has never been collected comprehensively, nor have the original albums seen reissue. This is particularly ironic because Diamond’s status as a hitmaker was in high gear, aided by the production of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich: “Cherry, Cherry,” “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” “Solitary Man,” and “Shilo” all originated during the Bang years.

This finally changes with the March release, timed to coincide with the Rock Hall induction, of The Bang Years 1966-1968.  So what’s included, and what hasn’t made the cut?  Hit the jump to find out, including full track listing and discographical details! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 31, 2011 at 09:38

Would New Queen Reissues Ever Take on the World Someday?

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For catalogue fans, the announcement of the track listings for the upcoming Queen reissues was the hot story of the week. New versions of the band’s first five albums, each expanded with a host of bonus tracks, are due in the U.K. in March as part of the band’s new licensing agreement with Universal Music Group – and there’s plenty of room on the fence, because many have taken a stand for or against the sets.

To this writer, the track lists probably could have been better – but can’t they all be, really? Getting some of the band’s previously-unreleased demos or BBC sessions, even if they’re sandwiched next to instrumental mixes or live cuts that are familiar to even casual fans, are better than nothing at all. Compared to Hollywood Records’ previous remasters from the early 1990s, which don’t hold up well either due to mastering or bonus content, these sets look pretty neat.

Of course, the funny thing about them is that U.S. fans have to pay a pretty penny for them in the first place. Queen’s deal with Island is effective only outside of the U.S., where Hollywood still licenses the catalogue. Quite frankly, Hollywood doesn’t have much of a function concerning the music of Queen these days, outside of rehashing the same handful of tracks in compilations. And if you’re like most of us, you might have to wonder why that is.

See, Hollywood isn’t owned by any of the major labels – EMI, Warner, Sony or Universal – it’s owned by Disney. And Queen is the only catalogue act (other than Disney’s own neglected library) that Hollywood has the rights to – the rest is teen pop acts like The Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus. One could certainly make a convincing argument that Disney sees no worth in giving Queen the deluxe treatment in America – the band never made a splash as big as they did in England outside of those inescapable hits (“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Under Pressure” and the like), and much of Hollywood’s best Queen catalogue treatment was done in the years immediately following Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991, when U.S. interest was naturally higher. But it’s equally possible Disney doesn’t have the energy, having no such experience in the pop/rock catalogue world. (They don’t even distribute their own material; in a massive set of ironies, Hollywood’s domestic distribution was handled by Elektra, the band’s original U.S. label, at the time of the 1991 remasters, and Universal is the current domestic handler.)

All of this begs the question: if Queen Productions could take their material from EMI to Universal with relative speed, couldn’t a similar U.S. deal be ironed out? If Universal has the chops to distribute Hollywood’s catalogue outright, wouldn’t the surviving members of the band want to pursue some sort of renewed revenue stream on our shores? It wouldn’t seem all that out of place for these new Queen remasters to come out through UMe in the future; however, it’s doubtful that any attempt to move will be made until the reissue campaign in the U.K. is successful enough.

What say you, dear reader, of the future of Queen reissues in the U.S.? Sound off below and vote in our poll.

Written by Mike Duquette

January 28, 2011 at 15:25

All Aboard “The Big Bus”! FSM Releases Comedy Score by David Shire

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Released some years before Airplane! – hell, even before That’s Armageddon! – the world had The Big Bus, a 1976 comedy lampooning the then-fashionable swath of disaster films. Though The Big Bus received nowhere near the accolades that Airplane! got, it was a pretty silly romp with stars like Stockard Channing, Ned Beatty, and John Beck (best known as Mark Graison, one of Pamela’s beaus on Dallas). It also boasted a score by David Shire, who composed the scores to ’70s classics All the President’s Men and The Conversation (and would have the semi-thankless task of doing the orchestral score to the Bee Gees-dominated Saturday Night Fever in 1977 – “Manhattan Skyline” and “Night on Disco Mountain” were his works).

Shire’s score to The Big Bus is getting a premiere release from Film Score Monthly. The set features the complete score – mixed from the original 16-track masters under the supervision of Shire – along with several alternate and source cues. Chief among them is a vocal performance by Tommy Joyce, a lounge singer on the wayward bus played by Murphy Dunne, perhaps best known as the second keyboardist for The Blues Brothers after Paul Shaffer. (It’s Murph, not Shaffer, who appears in the film.)

The set is limited to 2,000 copies and can be ordered here. The track list is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 28, 2011 at 15:03

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Friday Feature: “Almost Famous”

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Thank you, Cameron Crowe.  You had me at “hello.” You cost me plenty, but my record collection has long been grateful for the education!

The integration of popular song and cinema has been around as long as the talking film itself, since the day Al Jolson prefaced his performance of “Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goodbye)” with the epochal dialogue “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” These lines from 1927’s The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length “talkie” in which synchronized spoken dialogue was used dramatically, sent ripples through Hollywood and America. (Jolson actually performed “Dirty Hands, Dirty Face” earlier in the film before speaking any dialogue, for those keeping track of such things.) Directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Mike Nichols and Woody Allen, to name a mere few, have indelibly altered the way we hear certain songs, those songs now accompanied by images which may be romantic, comic or disturbing.

In the modern era, though, has any filmmaker perfected the art of the song score in the way Cameron Crowe has? In many ways, crafting a film around existing songs is even more difficult than doing so with an original score. With an original score, the music is being created to complement the action on screen or comment on it. With popular songs, a filmmaker gains the advantage of being able to play on viewers’ existing history with a particular song, but also must combat against the dangers of those preconceived notions.

Crowe’s directorial debut, 1989’s Say Anything, introduced the prototypical Crowe soundtrack, a hip and eclectic blend of styles from artists like Living Colour, Joe Satriani, The Replacements and Peter Gabriel. Of course, Crowe’s then-wife Nancy Wilson of Heart was present. Crowe followed Say Anything with 1992’s Singles, widely credited as having exposed the mainstream of America to the Seattle grunge scene, and had his commercial breakthrough with Jerry Maguire in 1996. In addition to spawning catchphrases like “Show me the money” and “You had me at ‘hello’,” Maguire spawned a hit soundtrack album stretching back to include Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young and The Who, while the film also included tracks by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, Merrilee Rush, Tom Petty and Charles Mingus. Bruce Springsteen’s “Secret Garden” charted two years after its initial release thanks to its exposure in the film. But Crowe hit his sweet spot with his next, arguably most personal film, 2000’s Almost Famous.

Based on Crowe’s experiences as a teenaged journalist working for Rolling Stone, music permeates every frame of Almost Famous. Over 50 songs are heard in the film, which follows 15-year old William Miller (Patrick Fugit) as he follows the band Stillwater in pursuit of a cover story for the magazine. Danny Bramson and Crowe co-produced the soundtrack album, which went on to be certified gold, and was rewarded with a Grammy. While that album hasn’t been the recipient of a reissue (yet!), it’s derived almost entirely from catalogue music, making it ready-made for today’s Friday Feature. The time is right to celebrate; the acclaimed film makes its long-awaited American Blu-ray debut as a Best Buy exclusive on Sunday (yes, Sunday!), January 30. Hit the jump to explore the sounds of 1973 as filtered through the lens of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2011 at 10:09

Robert Flack Compilation is Killing Us Softly from the U.K.

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U.K. music fans, do you need some romance in your life? Rhino’s got you covered the forthcoming release of Love Songs, a new compilation by Roberta Flack.

Flack is, of course, one of the most legendary artists on the Atlantic roster, scoring an impressive run of Top 5 hits (including three chart-toppers) through the 1970s. Her iconic “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Killing Me Softly with His Song” were the first back-to-back Record of the Year Grammy winners by the same artist – and her voice, whether alone or paired with duet partners Donny Hathaway or Peabo Bryson, remains one of those warm, sensual touchstones for soul music as a whole.

Though nothing on the set is previously unreleased, a few of the tracks – notably Flack’s live work with Bryson and the theme to the 1981 film Bustin’ Loose – are largely unavailable on most other compilations. So it’s a nice, alternate look for the new or casual fan.

Pre-order the set from Amazon U.K. here. It’s out on February 15. And as always, the track list is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 27, 2011 at 14:13

Reissue Theory: Cher, “A Woman’s Story: The Warner Bros. Years”

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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. Before Madonna, before Lady Gaga, there was Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPiere Bono, better-known as Cher. Today, we look at a largely forgotten period of the diva’s career, now entering its sixth(!) decade.

Cher’s latest hit song may be titled “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” but really, who thought we had? We listeners don’t need a modest little Diane Warren power ballad to remind us that Cher isn’t going anywhere. Even as she bade farewell to the concert stage for the umpteenth time, we knew we hadn’t seen the last of Cher. And so it wasn’t surprising that the superstar recently became the first artist in Billboard history to attain a chart-topping single in six consecutive decades when the Golden Globe-winning “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” (from the critically-lambasted film Burlesque) hit No. 1 on the Dance/Club Play chart. (Only Barbra Streisand holds a similarly impressive record, with No. 1 albums in five consecutive decades.) What is a surprise, however, is that the ever-chameleonic singer/actress/entertainer still hasn’t had her entire catalogue represented on CD.

In 1975, Cher signed with the decade-defining Warner Bros. Records label, after a long string of solo hits first overseen by Sonny Bono at Imperial and then Snuff Garrett at Kapp and MCA. (Sonny & Cher’s duet records were released on Atlantic’s Atco division, and a brief detour to Muscle Shoals in 1969 produced one of Cher’s most underrated solo albums, 3614 Jackson Highway, for that label. It was expanded by Rhino Handmade in 2003 and then reissued as a bare-bones edition by Collectors’ Choice in 2009.) Yet none of Cher’s albums or singles released between 1975 and 1979 has received CD release. How could Cher’s Warner Bros. output could be successfully reissued? Today’s Reissue Theory answers with A Woman’s Story: The Warner Bros. Years.

The Warner Bros. years found Cher experimenting with a variety of musical styles and producers for a handful of singles and four complete albums: Stars (1975), I’d Rather Believe in You (1976), Cherished (1977) and Two the Hard Way (1977). The lineup of talent who joined Cher at Warner Bros. is staggering: Phil Spector, Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb, Snuff Garrett, Steve Barri, then-husband Gregg Allman, and even Sonny Bono.

Hit the jump for the details on how we would collect this sadly-neglected period of Cher’s career as a two-CD set, and a full track listing with pertinent discographical information! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 27, 2011 at 11:59

Posted in Cher, Compilations, Features, Reissues

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A “Perfect Way” to Get Scritti Politti’s Hits Coming Soon

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Here’s an under-the-radar release for you on this ridiculously snowy day: a new compilation for ’80s dance-rock band Scritti Politti from EMI/Virgin.

Founded by singer/songwriter Green Gartsdale in Leeds in the late 1970s, Scritti Politti began as a left-leaning post-punk outfit championed by John Peel and signed to Rough Trade and spent the ’80s evolving into a funky, synth-based ensemble. “Wood Beez,” “Absolute,” “The Word Girl” and “Oh Patti” were some of the band’s Top 20 singles in their native U.K., but their biggest hit abroad was the gleaming “Perfect Way,” which climbed to No. 11 in America.

Absolute – the band’s first career-spanning compilation – includes a handful of single mixes, the rare debut single “Skank Bloc Bologna” (a favorite of Peel’s) and two brand-new tracks, “Day Late and a Dollar Short” and “A Place We Both Belong.” Amazon U.K. has a pre-order page here, but no release date; EMI’s schedule (as seen in the link above) puts its release date as February 28.

View the track list after the jump. (Thanks to our ’80s guru Vinny Vero for tipping us off.) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 27, 2011 at 10:25