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Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for March 9th, 2011

La-La Land’s Going “Mad” Next Week

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Not too long ago, La-La Land Records announced it had only one title due out March 15. Now they’ve revealed what score they’ve unearthed – but it’s something that’s been reissued before.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) is one of the most madcap comedies ever released by Hollywood. Part road picture – groups of people working against each other to find a hidden stash of cash in California – and part Tinseltown epic (dozens of comedians and movie stars appear in the film, including Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Spencer Tracy, Carl Reiner, Don Knotts, Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton, Ethel Merman, Peter Falk, The Three Stooges and many more), the film was a smash hit.

An inevitably rearranged and re-recorded LP (on the United Artists label) of Ernest Gold’s soundtrack was prepared at the time of release. A CD reissue on Rykodisc in 1997 featured that original presentation intercut with dialogue from the film; a subsequent reissue on Kritzerland last year restored the LP sequence and added seven bonus cues, presented directly from the film’s sound track (with accompanying sound effects).

La-La Land will finally release a complete score presentation – alongside the original LP, naturally – next week. But it wasn’t easy getting it to sound great. A note from the set’s producer, Ray Faiola, says it all:

As one of those die-hard fans of IAMMMMW (my 16mm IB/Scope print is one of my most prized possessions), it has long been a wish of mine to have a recording of the complete original soundtrack score. For some time it was believed that the dubbing stems survived, but this turned out not to be the case. So, we’ve taken an extreme step and used the limited range rear recording angles from the original six-track composite soundtrack. This presented us with both positive and negative aspects of the materials. The positive was that, for the most part, the tracks were music-only. Only one cue had a major sound effect that commandeered the tracks, necessitating a portion of re-modulating and replacing those few bars of music. The negative was that while many of the cues were overt and took primary occupation of the track space, many others were dubbed far beneath dialogue sequences. This resulted in several cues having a noise-to-signal ratio of nearly 70 per cent. In bringing the music level to acceptable volume, the radically increased noise had to be suppressed as best as possible. Thus, some cues are of significantly lesser fidelity than others. Also, the entire soundtrack had to be corrected for audio-dipping during dialogue portions that lasted from moments to many seconds. All-in-all, many hundreds of edits, adjustments, transitions, and, yes, even a few artistic choices had to be made. The rear channels were, in fact, a single “split” signal, similar to the early Re-Channeled-for-Stereo LP’s had been. Rather than have two channels each with partial information, they have been recombined into two pure mono channels. Since all the “program” music (Overture, entr’acte, exit music) as well as the chorals from the main, intermission and end titles are in full stereo, the mono score channels have been separated by a third of a frame to give expansion and create graceful segues into the stereo chorals and program tracks. It should be noted that the harmonica solo at the beginning of “Exit Smiler Grogan” did not appear on the surround channels and is irrevocably combined with dialogue. Nor did the Shirelles’ “31 Flavors” appear on the surrounds. Finally, none of the rear surround music from the so-called “restored” sequences were available and our soundtrack represents the general release print of the film. The resulting disc is certainly not an optimum recording of the soundtrack score. But, given that these are the materials that survived we have made our best effort create a complete symphonic presentation.

The producer later confirmed that while the score would be a mix of mono and stereo, the LP would of course be presented in stereo. A track list will follow next Tuesday, when the limited-edition set (2,000 copies) is ready to order.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 9, 2011 at 14:59

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Another “Promise” to Keep

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Even though the Darkness on the Edge of Town box from last winter was as exhaustive as anyone could wish for a box set, there’s a last trickle of material coming to DVD with a forthcoming standalone release of the accompanying documentary, The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town.

The documentary, directed by Grammy and Emmy winner Thom Zimny, chronicled the making of one of The Boss’ most landmark albums through both new interviews with Bruce, The E Street Band and other principal associates and never-before-seen home movies of the album sessions. It was easily one of the many cherries on top of the sundae that was the Darkness box.

Now, it’s coming out on DVD on its own May 3, with a pair of new bonus features. One is “Songs from The Promise,” footage from Bruce’s smashing Asbury Park concert in December, where songs from the Darkness box were performed for the first time. The other, “Conversation with His Fans,” is an interview with Bruce conducted by Dave Marsh before an intimate audience. an intimate, 22-minute question-and-answer session featuring Springsteen discussing the album before a small audience of fans.

The disc is coming out May 3; read all about it here.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 9, 2011 at 12:13

Posted in Double Dip, DVD, News, Reissues

Review: Simon and Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water: 40th Anniversary Edition”

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“What’s the point of [making] this album?,” an impossibly youthful Paul Simon asks in the 1969 television special Songs of America. “The world is crumbling.” If Simon didn’t know then why he was “just” recording an album despite all of the tumult around him, he almost certainly knows now. After all, he and partner Art Garfunkel have seen Bridge Over Troubled Water make it to 40 years (actually, 41!), and have even participated in the celebration. The duo have also seen the accompanying album and its title track embraced by countless citizens of the planet over the past decades, especially in times of crisis. Bridge received colossal commercial and critical plaudits upon its release; six Grammy Awards and three Top Ten singles are among its accomplishments. But its greatest measure of success may simply be the way that “When you’re weary, feeling small…when tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all” can still gently reassure one in need. Bridge Over Troubled Water has arrived in a stellar 40th Anniversary edition (Columbia/Legacy 88697 82724-2) containing the original album on CD plus a DVD. The landmark original LP still retains its power, for sure. But the real raison d’etre of this package is the two hours-plus of never-before-released content on the DVD. The Songs of America program and a new documentary, The Harmony Game, both take viewers back to a time when two musicians seemed on the brink of bridging the generation gap, voicing the concerns of youth in a way even their parents might understand.

Paul Simon holds that he didn’t intend Bridge as a eulogy for the soon-to-break-up duo, and the songs weren’t written to conform to a theme of farewell. (The fact that they were composed over a long period of time seems to confirm Simon’s recollection.) Still, it’s hard for a listener today to ignore the knowledge that Bridge would be Simon and Garfunkel’s final studio album to date, and contains achingly beautiful valedictories. “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” finds Simon addressing his partner, a one-time architecture student: “So long, Frank Lloyd Wright/All of the nights we’d harmonize till dawn/I never laughed so long.” In “Song for the Asking,” a Garfunkel favorite, Simon wrote, “Thinking it over, I’ve been sad…Ask me and I will play/All of the love that I hold inside.” The album’s one cover version is, appropriately, the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love.” Not that it’s all elegiac; nobody could claim that of an album including the rocking “Ceciilia,” rollicking “Keep the Customer Satisifed” and exuberant “Baby Driver.” For a beautifully-crafted album with no filler, however, the title track still towers over the rest, even the indelibly poignant “The Boxer” and Peruvian-influenced “El Condor Pasa.” In “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Paul Simon could fairly claim divine inspiration.

Bridge is heard in its Vic Anesini remaster; Anesini remastered the album in 2001 and there is no indication that this is a fresh remaster. That said, it sounds comparably excellent to the previous issue.  Unlike the 2001 edition, however, the 40th Anniversary Edition contains no bonus tracks. There were possibilities for inclusion; in The Harmony Game, Simon and Garfunkel acknowledge that both “Cuba Sí, Nixon No” and “Feuilles-O” almost made the cut before the final 11-track lineup was settled. (There’s no mention by either gentleman of “Groundhog,” often considered the album’s third outtake and recorded by Peter Yarrow in 1973.) Simon didn’t feel that Garfunkel’s Bach-inspired “Feuilles-O” fit on the album, while Garfunkel vetoed Simon’s politically-charged “Cuba,” protesting that he had “a hard time getting behind that lyric.” While Garfunkel says he might feel differently today, he made the right decision; “Cuba Sí” would have irrevocably dated the album which instead remains relevant today. (“Feuilles-O” eventually was reworked on Garfunkel’s 1973 album Angel Clare as “Feuilles-Oh/Do Space Men Pass Dead Souls on Their Way to the Moon?”) Should “Cuba” have made its belated appearance on this 40th Anniversary Edition? One, of course, wishes that it had, along with the early demo of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that appeared on Legacy’s 2001 remaster. If Messrs. Simon and Garfunkel, along with reissue producer Bob Irwin, were firm in their intention for the Bridge LP on Disc 1 to appear as it did in 1970, perhaps the much-desired “Cuba” could have appeared with the still-unheard “Feuilles-O” and previously-released “Bridge” demo as audio extras on the DVD?  These rare tracks are about the only things we’re left wanting from this superb reissue.

Hit the jump for the scoop on the lengthy DVD’s two programs, Songs of America and The Harmony Game! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 9, 2011 at 10:18

Posted in DVD, Reissues, Reviews, Simon and Garfunkel

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