The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for March 7th, 2011

Paul Rutherford Says “Oh World” Once More

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Since The Second Disc has started, we’ve seen some pretty neat catalogue projects tied to Frankie Goes to Hollywood, namely reissues of the band’s original two LPs from ZTT/Salvo and a 12″ remix compilation featuring rare tracks from the band. Cherry Pop has another FTGH-oriented catalogue project coming out in U.K. next week.

Oh World was the first LP by Paul Rutherford, known as a backing vocalist and dancer with Frankie (and one of the two openly gay members of the band). In 1989, not long after the solo debut by FTGH lead singer Holly Johnson (whose work has been similarly expanded by Cherry Pop), Rutherford cut an LP for Island/4th & Broadway with massive input from ABC members and associates Martin Fry, Dave Clayton and Mark White. Despite their commitment to great pop-house-worthy songwriting (and a not-bad cover of CHIC’s “I Want Your Love”), the album was not a commercial success.

But Cherry Pop resurrects it for fans across the globe in a new double-disc set that adds single edits, B-sides and a whole bonus disc of remixes to the package. It’s coming out March 14 and can be ordered on Amazon U.K. here. A very special thanks to Jason of the pretty awesome The Mixes and The Dubs for the tip!

Check the track list after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 7, 2011 at 18:24

Warner Classics Coming Back to Vinyl for Record Store Day

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Warner Bros. Records issued a press release last week touting their forthcoming vinyl reissues for Record Store Day, and the results are pretty neat for catalogue enthusiasts.

We already told you about the upcoming Flaming Lips vinyl box, and several other classic WB-oriented LPs are coming for the special event, too. Audiophile editions of Eric Clapton’s Unplugged, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American and the first two LPs by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers will be pressed on vinyl. Several of these platters have been remastered by Bernie Grundman Mastering, while Bleed American – which spawned massive hits in “Sweetness” and “The Middle” – will feature a bonus LP of B-sides and rarities.

For the full rundown of all the releases, including some new stuff from R.E.M. and some other collectible singles, click here.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 7, 2011 at 17:34

Review: Billy Joel, “Live at Shea Stadium” and “Last Play at Shea”

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One of the biggest pitfalls as a music writer is reading something – usually a review – that spells out your thoughts so well that you have no idea where to go with your own piece. Popdose editor-in-chief Jeff Giles did that alarmingly well with his scathing assessment of Billy Joel’s Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert (Columbia/Legacy 88697 85424-2, 2011), calling it “pungently shitty, the nadir of a relatively distinguished career, and the type of release that justifies the awful music business tradition of referring to albums as ‘product.’”

Now, it’s not for me to say how right he is – Giles has been a Joel fan far longer than I have – but I tend to agree with him, to an extent. Live at Shea Stadium is far closer to the relatively toothless Концерт, taken from the Piano Man’s 1987 tour of the Soviet Union, than the essential Songs in the Attic (1981) or the surprisingly fiery 12 Gardens Live (2006). But I tend to think that’s the point; Billy Joel essentially has nothing left to prove, and thus has no reason to let it all hang out on tour. And yet, that’s precisely what he did five years ago, in a series of concerts to promote a box set.

Maybe my opinion is influenced by personal perspective – I was present at the twelfth Madison Square Garden show in the winter of 2006, and saw Joel spin through some of my personal favorite deep cuts – but I was not present for the Shea shows on July 16 and 18, 2008. (I know several who were, though, including our own Joe Marchese.) 12 Gardens Live was a tacit admission of age, what with Joel transposing nearly every song down a key, but both the selection and the delivery of those tunes was almost an atonement for not releasing a pop record since the early ’90s, for falling back on his haunches in a miasma of Elton John tours, classical records, Broadway shows and drunk driving.

And yet, here we are years later, on the eve of another planned catalogue expansion, and I can’t help but bite a nail or two in nervous anticipation knowing that Live at Shea Stadium isn’t a reaffirmation of Joel’s sterling, late-period live reputation but a document, a victory lap meant to appease casual fans and concert attendees. The set is heavy on both hits and lesser-known sides – “Piano Man,” “She’s Always a Woman,” “Keeping the Faith” and “The River of Dreams” sit alongside “Zanzibar,” “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and “Summer, Highland Falls” – and stuffed to the gills with guests (Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, Paul McCartney, John Mayer and Steven Tyler chief among them); on those criteria alone, it should be a pretty decent set.

But it’s not, and Joel himself is to blame. His vocal performance is lazy to the point of insult – he seems to be mocking Bennett on “New York State of Mind” and he sneers “Get a pre-nup!” to a man who proposes to his girlfriend during “She’s Always a Woman” – and he seems to have checked himself out of the show by the end of Disc 2. “Piano Man” is largely carried by the audience, and – in what may be the most egregious error on the set – Joel and McCartney sing different lyrics at one point while harmonizing on “Let It Be.” And that’s just what you hear on the two CDs; watching the DVD is perhaps even more painful, with Joel looking tired and bloated. (In fairness, he has since had double-hip replacement surgery and looks a little better.)

While Live at Shea Stadium may not be the pre-reissue burst of excitement we’ve been waiting for (and indeed, no forthcoming product is teased inside this package), the separately released documentary covering the same event, The Last Play at Shea (Lionsgate 29584, 2011) does a pretty good job of filling that void. The secret to its success is the film’s downplaying of the performance itself, focusing instead on Billy’s career and the evolution of Shea. It’s shockingly easy to draw the parallels between Joel and the New York Mets, but the appeal for music fans is a rare look at the beginning of his career, a topic too rarely explored in any medium. The Shea plot threads are compelling even to non-sports fans (like myself); one of the neater anecdotes revolves around a groundskeeper who worked on both Joel’s shows as well as the historic performance by The Beatles at the same venue in 1965.

We still don’t know what’s going to appear on the forthcoming Billy Joel reissues, but I’m not as hostile to the probability of vintage live shows as I once was, if only to wash the taste of Live at Shea Stadium from my palate. I’m not sorry it exists – it’s certainly a worthy souvenir for people who were there, and it’s probably the last nail in the coffin of the idea of Joel as late-period sad sack – but it’s not something I think I’m going to keep  coming back to when it comes to the Piano Man live.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 7, 2011 at 13:20

Posted in Billy Joel, DVD, Reviews

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Nektar’s “A Tab in the Ocean” Released in Expanded Edition

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“I wonder what would happen if a giant tab of acid was dropped into the sea?” asked a member of the progressive rock band Nektar some forty years ago, recalled Roye Albrighton, Nektar’s guitarist and vocalist. Albrighton and his mates parlayed their curiosity into the group’s acclaimed second album, appropriately titled A Tab in the Ocean. Philadelphia’s ItsAboutMusic.com label has just reissued that recording in a deluxe two-CD set also containing a bonus “lost album,” In the Beginning: The Boston Tapes. This 8-track collection was recorded in 1970 and contains the very first recordings of the band.

Europe was first to catch on to this British collective’s work, but success soon followed in the United States. A Tab in the Ocean built on the sound of Nektar’s first album, Journey to the Centre of the Eye, but further emphasized a “concept” over its five tracks (the lengthiest being album opener “A Tab in the Ocean”) and took the band musically in a tighter, more structured and focused direction. Whereas the first disc represents the band at one of its high points, the second disc features Nektar in a formative period with a style hewing closer to traditional “classic rock” of 1969 than the progressive sound for which they became known. There’s even a cover of Brian Hyland’s “Sealed with a Kiss” on The Boston Tapes! (“Do You Believe in Magic,” however, is not the Lovin’ Spoonful song.) Fans should be aware that this reissue presents the original 1972 LP mix and drops the 1976 American mixes added on Dream Nebula’s 2004 edition.

ItsAboutMusic.com’s two-CD reissue of A Tab in the Ocean was released on February 22. The label is currently planning expansions of the entire Nektar catalogue. Hit the jump for the label’s complete press release, pre-order information and track listing with discographical annotation! Thanks to the good folks at the indispensable MusicTAP for the heads-up on this one! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 7, 2011 at 11:15

Posted in Nektar, News, Reissues

Ike and Tina Turner! Phil Spector! “River Deep” Returns in April

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Producer Phil Spector should have been sitting on top of the world in 1966, just one year after The Righteous Brothers continued their wave of success with “Just Once in My Life,” “Ebb Tide” and of course, “Unchained Melody.” He had recently signed Ike and Tina Turner to Philles, but the male half of that duo was of little consequence to him. In Tina Turner’s force-of-nature voice, Spector saw the latest and arguably most powerful vehicle for his increasingly majestic musical statements. When he recorded “River Deep-Mountain High,” a song he wrote with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Spector felt that this was going to be the big one. It was his largest production ever, with a massive arrangement by Jack Nitzsche, and the cost was as extravagant as the sound. But upon its release in June 1966, the booming “River Deep-Mountain High” on Philles 131 didn’t go anywhere fast, only making it to the bottom reaches of the Top 100 singles chart. A bone was thrown to Spector in the form of its success abroad; Beatle George Harrison described the song as “a perfect record from start to finish – you can’t improve on it!” and it went Top 5 there. Spector commented, “We can only assume that England is more appreciative of talent and exciting music than the U.S. is,” while Ike Turner (who was not actually on the single) added, “In England, they don’t judge records according to race or anything like that.”

The American failure of “River Deep” led Spector to withdraw from the music business for a period of roughly two years, and the releases of Ike and Tina Turner’s output for Philles (four singles and one LP) quickly vanished. Some mono editions of Philles LP 4011 were pressed, but this release never made it to the cover printing stage. The completed album was issued in the U.K. on the London label and later in America on A&M with one variation in the track listing.

The LP River Deep-Mountain High received its belated American bow from the A&M label in 1969. Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss of A&M had signed Spector to a production deal; the biggest hit to come out of the Spector/A&M association would be “Black Pearl” by The Checkmates, Ltd. On the heels of Legacy’s new collections of Spector productions, Hip-o Select will reissue A&M’s original 12-track album to general retail on April 5; it is already available for pre-order directly from the label.

What’s included? What’s missing? Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 7, 2011 at 10:04