The Second Disc

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Archive for January 12th, 2011

Reissue Theory: Sting, Compiled (UPDATED 1/12)

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, here we reflect on well-known albums of the past and the reissues they could someday see. Today’s installment concerns a former Police man and his lack of decent compilations over the past few decades.

There’s something disconcerting when an artist gets to the point where they’re comfortable enough to do whatever they want, but that “whatever they want” just doesn’t count toward reissues, box sets or the like.

One such example I’ve been thinking of lately is Sting, the erstwhile frontman of The Police and the world’s most hell-bent, pretentiously literary pop star. The Police have been treated well on CD, whether it’s through the Message in a Box set from 1993 or a series of SACD remasters in 2003. Sting’s catalogue, meanwhile, is in need of some sort of attention, regardless of how often ridiculous his albums are.

The last time Sting was even compiled on CD by himself (a threadbare 1997 compilation paired his early singles with the hits of The Police) was 1994. That’s nearly 20 years ago. Now, they say the greatest-hits compilation is sometimes a kiss of death; so often are the post-greatest hits albums kind of boring. Sting has done three pop albums since: the mostly forgettable Mercury Falling (1996), the surprise hit Brand New Day (2000) and the retread Sacred Love (2003). Everything since then has been increasingly pretentious – the lute album, the winter carols album, the orchestral covers album – but you could get a decent single disc compilation of Sting songs from his entire pop career if you (or Universal) wanted.

After the jump, here’s what a new Sting compilation might look like, while we wait for him to reissue some of his early, great albums. (We can wait. We’re patient.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 12, 2011 at 13:04

Back Tracks, In Memoriam: Margaret Whiting (1924-2011)

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In 1997, a musical revue came and went at Broadway’s Royale Theatre. The revue, Dream, was a mostly unexceptional journey through the music and lyrics of the legendary Johnny Mercer. Why the “mostly,” then? Dream had one very exceptional living link to Mercer, and that was the resplendent Margaret Whiting, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 86 in Englewood, New Jersey.

When Mercer (along with Buddy DeSylva and Glenn Wallichs) started Capitol Records in 1942, one of the first artists he signed was 18-year old Margaret, daughter of composer Richard (“Too Marvelous for Words,” “Ain’t We Got Fun,” “Hooray for Hollywood”) Whiting. Mercer, a frequent co-writer of Richard’s, had known Margaret since she was a child, and formed a lasting friendship and mentorship with her. He gifted the Freddie Slack Orchestra with “That Old Black Magic” (a Mercer/Harold Arlen composition), with Margaret as featured vocalist. Their rendition on Capitol 126 hit the Top Ten in 1943, facing stiff competition from the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s recording. The next year, Whiting was one of the very first artists to record “Moonlight in Vermont,” and she went on to help popularize such songs as “It Might As Well Be Spring” (from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 film musical State Fair) and in a duet with Mercer himself, Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (first heard in 1949’s Neptune’s Daughter). Whiting remained with Capitol until switching to Dot in 1957 and then to Verve in 1960. She returned to Capitol for a brief stint and then finished out the decade on London Records, having her last hit single with “The Wheel of Hurt,” which reached No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart in the rapidly-changing music world of 1966. Whiting, known for her clear, smooth voice and youthful, somewhat innocent look, persevered. She reinvented herself as a premier cabaret artist and also acted in musicals, in addition to making periodic return visits to the recording studio.

Where to begin exploring the great lady’s catalogue? Many of the best Whiting anthologies are no longer available, and of them, many cover the same era. Hit the jump for The Second Disc’s tribute and guide, in modified Back Tracks style, to the one and only Margaret Whiting. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 12, 2011 at 11:15

“Isn’t Anything” Sacred? Another MBV Release Date Change

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It’s unsurprising and a bit morbidly hilarious to report, as Slicing Up Eyeballs did the other day, that reissues of My Bloody Valentine’s shoegaze masterpieces Isn’t Anything and Loveless have been delayed once again. The straight remastered discs are slated for release on March 14, pushed back from a prior date in January, itself part of a long line of releases that stretch back to June of 2008.

These things better sound flawless. Veteran collectors: what other reissue/remaster/box set delays can you remember as long as or longer than this wait? Sound off below.

Written by Mike Duquette

January 12, 2011 at 09:13