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Archive for March 2011

Reissue Theory: Aretha Franklin at Arista

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The music industry is littered with careers that crashed after a second chance at the spotlight. This could have easily befallen even a legend like Aretha Franklin; the Queen of Soul had in fact risen on a second chance at Atlantic after a largely unsuccessful career with Columbia, but by the late 1970s, Aretha’s attempts to fall in with the trends of rhythm and blues were frequently derided, and ultimately she would sever her ties with the label.

Against all odds – not counting the fact that she’s Aretha Franklin – the Queen secured a deal with Arista, and within a few years was back on top of the pop/R&B game, enticing both adults and the kids of the MTV era with her slickly-produced sound. That wave of success carried over into her 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – the first woman to receive this honor – and, even more stunningly, her status as living legend was bolstered several times throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Aretha just celebrated her 69th birthday – a welcome milestone after a bout with an unspecified illness – and Columbia/Legacy honored the Queen’s early days with the massive Take a Look: Complete on Columbia box set (Joe’s review is coming tomorrow). Joe also took us through Aretha’s “lost” Atlantic years in a Reissue Theory post, which leads us to today: a theoretical box set devoted to Franklin’s Arista years (the catalogue of which is also owned by Sony/Legacy).

Hit the jump to revisit this second chance unlike few others.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 31, 2011 at 15:03

We Will Box You: Queen Remasters Box Coming to U.S.

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Just a quick note for those of you thinking about how you’re going to tackle these Queen remasters when they come to the United States on May 17 (they’re of course already available in the U.K.): just as England got a special box of all five deluxe editions, so will we. But it’s not going to be found in any store.

Queen’s Facebook page (the band is actually really good at using social media to update fans appropriately) just linked to an Amazon-exclusive Queen 40 box that will contain the deluxe editions of Queen, Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races in one convenient package. So if you were going to import these sets just to get the box and you’re okay with waiting a bit longer, the box will be available day-and-date with the other reissues on May 17.

As always, keep it here for the latest updates on Queen and all other catalogue greats!

Written by Mike Duquette

March 31, 2011 at 13:10

Posted in Box Sets, News, Queen, Reissues

Bing Crosby Goes “Through the Years” and Crosby Archive Continues Digitally

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With the Collector’s Choice Music label in a state of flux and no new releases on the horizon, disappointment is in the air. One of the most acclaimed series created at Collector’s Choice in recent years is The Bing Crosby Archive. With the cooperation of Crosby’s family and access to his personal collection, executive producer Gordon Anderson spearheaded a deluxe series of expanded reissues restoring the legendary artist’s album catalogue to print. While no formal announcement has been made by Joe Van Horn, Anderson’s successor at Collector’s Choice, the label (and series) remains dormant.

Fans of Crosby aren’t totally out in the cold, however. The singer’s fans know that he has an extensive library of over 2,000 commercially released songs, not to mention innumerable radio and television performances. British label Sepia has announced the latest volume of its comprehensive Through the Years series, Volume 7, produced in cooperation with the International Club Crosby. Through the Years is a continuation of Jonzo Records’ series The Chronological Bing Crosby, which totalled a whopping 51 volumes! Those 51 discs anthologized every commercial master released by Crosby between 1926 and the fall of 1950, and Sepia picked up the line in 2008, spanning the end of 1950 and part of 1951. Volume 7, due for release on May 10, covers 1954, primarily the album A Musical Autobiography recorded for Decca.

That isn’t all. It’s unknown whether The Bing Crosby Archive will continue on Collector’s Choice, but the series is currently offering two digital-only collections exclusively available on iTunes, With All My Heart and Shall We Dance? Hit the jump for information on these releases, as well as the new Sepia volume, including complete track listings with discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 31, 2011 at 11:37

Don’t Know Why It Is At All: Universal Releases New Aerosmith Compilation

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Aerosmith hasn’t released an album of new material since 2004 (and that was a covers record, so the last album of original material was in 2001). Recent affairs between Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have veered toward acrimony, after Tyler injured himself on tour and began insisting his desire to work on “Brand Tyler” (i.e.: a solo album); this ultimately manifested itself into a gig replacing Simon Cowell as a judge on American Idol, a gig that has been bizarre but not disastrous.

It would not be a surprise to see Aerosmith appear toward the season finale of Idol, given the sheer amount of viewers it’d give them. But Geffen, the band’s home from 1984 to 1995 (and a label owned by Universal Music Group, which starting this season will provide the contract for Idol winners), is jumping on Tyler’s newfound wave of popularity by issuing Tough Love: Best of the Ballads, a new compilation of entirely old material.

This set has already been roundly criticized by others for not even bothering to live up to its title; hit singles “Love in an Elevator,” “Rag Doll,” “Janie’s Got a Gun” and “Livin’ on the Edge” are not particularly well-defined as “ballads,” but they are included anyway. Of course, the band’s most notable ballad, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the soundtrack to Armageddon (1998), was released during their second run with Columbia and is not included (something tells me Geffen wanted to spend as little on licensing as possible). However, early hit “Dream On” closes the set. It wouldn’t be surprising to find this is a live version, which is how Geffen padded out Young Lust: The Aerosmith Anthology.

If you’ve got to have it, Tough Love is out May 10 and can be pre-ordered here. The track list is after the jump. (Thanks to VVN Music for the tip.)

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 31, 2011 at 10:08

Tom Waits Has Other Sonic Problems

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Tom Waits’ voice may not be for everyone, but there were bigger problems than that to notice on the recent repressings of his first four albums on red vinyl from Rhino.

The reissues, put out several months back, have been plagued with sporadic problems that seem to lie with the mastering or transfer onto vinyl. Fortunately, Anti- Records has begun an exchange program and promised their customers that these problems will be corrected and avoided for future vinyl reissues of the Waits catalogue.

Here’s their full statement, which we’ve reposted after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 30, 2011 at 15:27

Posted in News, Reissues, Tom Waits, Vinyl

Reissue Theory: Aretha Franklin, “Sweet Passion: The Lost Atlantic Years”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on great albums and the reissues they could someday see. Aretha Franklin began her groundbreaking stint at Atlantic Records in 1967 and it wasn’t long before a legendary star was in the ascendant. Yet the final chapter of Aretha’s Atlantic story has been all but forgotten.  Today’s Reissue Theory takes us back to 1974 as we revisit the “lost albums” of Aretha Franklin.

There are plenty of adjectives that can be used to describe Aretha Franklin. Columbia Records used a great many of them for early album titles: tender, moving, swinging, electrifying. Heck, let’s add the title of her Dinah Washington tribute: Unforgettable. Atlantic described her on a 1968 album as Lady Soul, while a 1971 LP was entitled Young, Gifted and Black. The young, gifted, unforgettable Queen of Soul has no doubt been well-represented in the compact disc era. After innumerable compilations, Legacy last week released the remarkable box set Take a Look collecting Franklin’s entire Columbia output (a review is forthcoming). Rhino reissued Franklin’s Atlantic tenure from 1967-1974 as individual discs and also anthologized the artist’s best with a box set, 1992’s Queen of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings. But even that four-disc treasure trove all but ignores the final five studio albums recorded by Aretha Franklin for Atlantic between November 1974 and September 1979.

Franklin’s last five Atlantic releases have never appeared on CD, which remains quite staggering considering the magnitude of the artist and the importance of her groundbreaking Atlantic catalogue. With Everything I Feel in Me (1974), You (1975), Sweet Passion (1977), Almighty Fire (1978) and La Diva (1979) each have something unique to offer even if they don’t stack up to the peak Atlantic LPs. But then again, what albums could live up to the lofty heights of I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You or Lady Soul? With that in mind, today’s Reissue Theory presents the hypothetical Sweet Passion: The Lost Atlantic Years. Our three-CD box set collecting these five albums features a “Who’s Who” of songwriter and producers, among them Lamont Dozier, Jerry Wexler, Curtis Mayfield, Barry Mann, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Van McCoy, Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager. True, none of these LPs were pop smashes, but all were successful on the R&B charts (the first three going Top Ten) and most importantly, all have something to offer not only for fans of Aretha but all pop and soul enthusiasts.

If you’re not familiar with these albums, you’re in for a treat. And if you don’t know the story of the tantalizing almost-collaboration (or was it?) between Aretha Franklin and CHIC, look no further. Hit the jump to begin our exploration of Aretha Franklin’s Sweet Passion: The Lost Atlantic Years! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 30, 2011 at 15:10

Legacy Provides Relief for Japan

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Now here’s a surprise. iTunes, in concert with the major record labels, put together a 38-song compilation called Songs for Japan, the proceeds of which would go to relief funds for the ongoing crises in Japan following a massive earthquake and tsunami that left the country in a state of peril.

And now, Amazon has a listing for the compilation on CD from Legacy. (This two-disc set actually omits some of the tracks heard on the iTunes version, namely tracks by Madonna and David Guetta.) While it’s not a boon for collectors – collecting notable tracks by John Lennon, U2, Sting, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and almost every other famous rock artist one can think of – it’s certainly worth the $10 for a good cause, and we would be remiss if we didn’t pass on to our loyal readers that one can help by simply buying some music – something you and I likely do a lot!

Order Songs for Japan here and hit the jump for the track list.

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Cherry Red Fills in Gaps for April

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The Cherry Red label group has been insanely busy in recent weeks prepping expanded and remastered albums for consumption in England. We’ve already seen new releases from their Now Sounds, Big Break and Soul Music labels, but April will see a few other worthy titles for your consideration on the Cherry Red, Cherry Pop, El and Iron Bird labels.

First up is a reissue of How Long: The Very Best of Ace, one of the surprisingly few career-spanning sets by pub-rockers Ace. The band’s brief brush with success manifested through the excellent single “How Long,” a No. 3 hit in America. Ace, of course, was the first of many bands to feature vocalist/keyboardist Paul Carrack, who would later lend his talents to Squeeze’s East Side Story (1981) and Mike + The Mechanics in the mid-’80s and ’90s. This compilation, featuring a newly expanded and updated booklet, looks to be the start of a reissue campaign by the label. This one’s due out April 11 in the U.K. and a week later in America.

Coming from the same label on April 25 (again, a U.K. date) is an expansion of The Fall’s The Marshall Suite (1999). Not too dissimilar to the band’s early albums put out as “Omnibus Editions” by Beggars’ Archive, the chaotic post-punk band’s long-out-of-print techno-influenced semi-concept album will be augmented by a disc of B-sides, remixes and BBC sessions and another disc of a live concert for XFM Radio in 1999. This set will feature new liner notes by Daryl Easlea of MOJO.

Cherry Pop has a delightful oddity in a reissue of the debut album by Pepsi & Shirlie. The singing and dancing duo were best known as part of the back-up band for WHAM! in the mid-’80s, but All Right Now (1987) saw the girls collaborating with pop producers Stock Aitken Waterman on a mostly original set featuring U.K. Top 10 hits “Heartache” and “Goodbye Stranger.” In traditional Cherry Pop fashion, B-sides and remixes are the order of the day as expanded material goes, along with two mixes of a previously-unreleased tune from the era, “Who’s Gonna Catch You?” The expansion of All Right Now is also due April 25 in England.

The Iron Bird label, which specials in hard rock and metal reissues, has a “three-fer” collecting the first three albums by Warrant. The Hollywood-based hair-metal rockers rose to fame in 1989 with the No. 2 power ballad “Heaven,” but most fans know them for the poppy, eyebrow-raising “Cherry Pie,” a Top 10 hit from a year later. This two-disc set includes straight reissues of the band’s first three LPs for Columbia – Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (1988), Cherry Pie (1990) and Dog Eat Dog (1992) – but omits the bonus demos included on previous remasters by Legacy Recordings in the States. Still, for those looking for a bargain way to acquire all of these albums, this is your opportunity when it arrives in the U.K. on April 18.

Finally, an interesting early rock classic comes to El Records with some interesting (if not exactly relevant) bonus material. The Ventures might not be a household name to casual rock fans, but their influence is massive. The Tacoma, Washington duo were instrumental (no pun intended) in the development of guitar-based rock, experimenting with various effects and textures that would become staples of various rock genres. Their hit “Walk, Don’t Run” – easily one of the best surf-rock songs of all time, and an overall favorite of this author – was a deserved success, and set the band on a path of continued popularity and legacy, culminating with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. El reissues the Walk, Don’t Run album in both the original stereo and mono mixes, but also adds eight selected sides by Bert Weedon, an influential English jazz-rock guitarist who was one of the first to take a rock instrumental, “Guitar Boogie Shuffle,” toward the top of the U.K. charts. It’s a pretty neat history lesson, and it’s out April 18 in the United Kingdom.

Track lists and pre-order links are all available after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 30, 2011 at 11:36

Another Round of “ICON” Track Lists (UPDATED 4/4)

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UPDATE 4/4: We now have confirmation on the track lists for each set!

Original post: Next week, another batch of ICON compilations will be released by Universal Music Group. This is particularly interesting, considering that all of the track lists for these upcoming sets have yet to be revealed.

Indeed, pre-order links on Amazon and other sites don’t even have all of these track lists, or cover art, finalized. (This is doubly ironic considering another batch of ICON titles is slate for May, and pre-order links are starting to crop up.) Fortunately, we’ve managed to pull together all but one of the sets (the two-disc compilation track list for The Who remains elusive) into one post for your perusal. It’s a mostly classic rock-oriented batch (The Who, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens) with some new and old soul/blues acts (Quincy Jones, B.B. King, Avant), modern rock (Sublime) and a few smaller names (Nonpoint, Local H) thrown in for good measure. The set by the metal band Nonpoint features some previously unreleased material, which must be one of the first such instances on the usually barebones ICON sets.

Each title comes out April 5. The remaining track lists will be plugged in when they’re confirmed; the rest are after the jump!
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Written by Mike Duquette

March 29, 2011 at 11:59

Ventura Highway, Revisited: America Offers Re-Recorded “Hits”

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Buyer, beware! Eagle-eyed music browsers may have noticed a new title from America, the 1970s hitmakers behind such soft rock radio perennials as “Sister Golden Hair,” “Ventura Highway,” “I Need You,” and of course, the deathless “A Horse with No Name.” America Records released Hits: 40th Anniversary Edition last week, and buyers could be forgiven for thinking it was another repackage of History: America’s Greatest Hits. Seven of the twelve tracks on each compilation are identical. It would be hard to top Rhino Records’ stellar America releases of the past (including a box set, 2000’s Highway: 30 Years of America, and 2001’s The Complete Greatest Hits) but we here at Second Disc HQ wouldn’t mind a 40th anniversary celebration for the often underrated band. That said, the new Hits, carrying on the band’s tradition of albums starting with the letter “H,” isn’t that retrospective celebration. It’s, in fact, a collection of re-recorded songs that hew closely to the original arrangements but otherwise lack the magic. This type of late-career project is nothing new, especially to oldies artists and groups struggling to make a living sometimes without even a single original member. Neil Sedaka, Paul Anka, Squeeze, Chicago and even Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra are a few of the higher-profile artists to have made similar re-recordings, often for licensing purposes or to sell at concert appearances.

The trio consisting of Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek, three sons of U.S. Air Force officers stationed in the U.K., scored a big impression with 1972’s self-titled debut which spent five weeks atop the U.S. album chart. (The album was actually a reissue itself; the 1971 edition was withdrawn when “A Horse with No Name” became a hit. When it was added to the LP, both album and band took off!) America was most clearly influenced by the rich harmonies and acoustic guitar sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, with some listeners even mistaking “Horse with No Name” for a Young song (to Neil’s chagrin?). Besides Bunnell’s cryptic equine paean, he offered the haunting “Sandman” while Beckley showed off his timeless melodic sensibility with “I Need You.” If follow-up Hat Trick didn’t repeat its predecessor’s success, the band’s finest and most cohesive album, Homecoming, certainly did. Bunnell’s evocative “Ventura Highway” was another smash single while Peek’s “Don’t Cross the River” and Beckley’s “To Each His Own” were equally mesmerizing. America’s journey continues after the jump!  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 29, 2011 at 10:44