The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for May 2011

Beatles’ “Anthology” Receives a Very Digital Remaster

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So here’s some good news for Beatlemaniacs: the Anthology series, the three-volume clearinghouse of Beatles outtakes and vault material released in 1995-1996, is getting digitally remastered. The bad news? You’re not going to find it in your local record shop.

This new remaster of each two-disc set is actually going to be an iTunes exclusive – quite a difference from years ago, when no Beatles material was sold digitally. Not only did Apple Computer crack the code for Apple Records, they also offered unreleased bonus tracks when the Love soundtrack for the Cirque du Soleil show was offered through the digital retailer earlier this year.

EMI has already confirmed that this remaster will not be available physically, nor will the iTunes albums include the Anthology documentaries, either. For those whose interest in The Beatles was piqued by finally having the catalogue accessible on iTunes, this is obviously a good thing, but most collectors aren’t going to care one way or another. And isn’t a digital remaster in an uncompressed format a contradiction in terms?

A physical product would have made perfect sense for collectors or anyone still missing those sets – I don’t believe all three Anthology entries were ever packaged as a six-disc box set (nor were they ever combined with the Anthology documentaries on DVD for a whopper of a 10-disc set) – but it is what it is, at the moment.

The Beatles’ Anthology is on iTunes June 14. The full details for the digital sets are after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 31, 2011 at 18:04

Miles Davis’ “Tutu” Is Expanded and Remastered By Warner Jazz

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1986’s Tutu marked a rebirth for Miles Davis.  It was his first album after nearly 30 years as a Columbia Records recording artist, and appeared on the Warner Bros. label.  Producer Marcus Miller was Davis’ chief foil, composing nearly every track and playing multiple instruments, while Jason Miles, George Duke, Paulinho da Costa and Michal Urbaniak all made appearances.  Duke’s “Backyard Ritual” was covered on the album as well as pop group Scritti Politti’s “Perfect Way.”  Tutu was very much a product of its time, emphasizing mid-1980s R&B textures and utilizing synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines.  Although controversial at the time of its release, Tutu has been recognized of late as somewhat of a Davis classic.  The European Warner Jazz label is giving listeners the opportunity to rediscover its riches via a 2-CD deluxe edition which is already in stores in the U.K. and due on our shores today, May 31.  It comes on the occasion of what would have been Davis’ 85th birthday on May 26.

Though the album could be considered more pop-fusion than jazz, its modern, funk-influenced sound proved that the trumpeter was determined to continue evolving as a relevant artist.  He was rewarded for his troubles when Tutu earned two Grammy Awards.  The album was named for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the first black Anglican Archbishop of South Africa, and also featured the track “Full Nelson,” a tribute to Nelson Mandela with a nod to Davis’ own “Half Nelson.”  The jazz titan’s move to Warner Bros. also paid off commercially, as the album crossed over into the pop and rock markets. 

What new material has been added to Tutu?  And what does Prince Rogers Nelson have to do with the whole thing?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 31, 2011 at 13:43

School’s Out, Alice Cooper Box is In

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We’ve got less than a month until the new Alice Cooper mega box set starts shipping, so now’s as good a time as any to take a look at the track list for the set.

As previously reported, Old School 1964-1974 encompasses four CDs and a vinyl LP and single, each of which chronicles Vincent Furnier’s time as the frontman for Alice Cooper, the band which gave him his stage name. (Beginning in 1975 with Welcome to My Nightmare, Cooper’s albums were largely solo efforts.) Only about three of these tracks have been released before – one by Furnier’s high school band The Spiders (which also featured Alice Cooper members Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce and Dennis Dunaway), and a reproduced vinyl single by The Nazz, which was The Spiders’ line-up with drummer Neal Smith. (The Nazz would later change their name to Alice Cooper.)

The majority of the CDs consist of vintage live material (chief among them a show from the Killer tour in 1971, also reproduced on vinyl), demos, outtakes and radio ads. There’s also a bonus CD of Cooper’s memories of the band’s early days and a 64-page hardcover yearbook, packed with rare photos and other swag in a desk-shaped box.

You can enroll with Old School through Alice’s official website (orders ship June 20) and hit the jump for discographical info. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 31, 2011 at 10:48

Posted in Alice Cooper, Box Sets, News

“Masada”! Intrada! Another Soundtrack Holy Grail Comes to CD

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One word describes a television movie event that harkened back to epics like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments. That same word is the title of a soundtrack from one of film’s great musical legends that’s become one of the most-desired archival releases. And now, the wait is over: Intrada Records today announced the release of the complete original score to Masada (1981).

Masada was based on the siege of the titular Jewish citadel in Israel in A.D. 73. The defenders of the citadel held bravely against the looming Roman army, but Rome’s empire was too strong and numerous. However, rather than admit defeat, the freedom fighters took their own lives en masse. The story may have been one for the history books, but the parallels with current events were all too evident; some three years prior to the broadcast, Jim Jones and 909 members of his cult committed mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana – the largest non-natural disaster-induced loss of life at the time.

The four-part series had impressive pedigrees, chief among them a script adapted from the novel The Antagonists by Ernest K. Gann and star turns by Peter O’Toole and Peter Strauss (the latter of which was a star on the miniseries circuit thanks to programs like Kane and Abel and Rich Man, Poor Man). Both men would be nominated for an Emmy for their roles on either side of the conflict – but the trophy went to another stellar actor in the program: David Warner, a Shakespearean actor best known to American audiences as the photographer who uncovers some terrible secrets in The Omen (1976). The win cemented Warner’s breakthrough in America, and he would continue playing notable parts in films like TRON (1982) and Titanic (1996), not to mention considerable voice work.

The music of Masada came from two men with considerable pedigrees. One was Jerry Goldsmith, the iconic composer behind some of film’s greatest scores. (At the time, his most recent hits included Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (both 1979) and Outland (1981).) Goldsmith’s sweeping, adventurous themes and action cues were classic Goldsmith – but even though it netted him an Emmy, he wasn’t the only one behind the music.

While Goldsmith did write the score and conduct the first two parts of the series, conducting duties for the last two parts went to Morton Stevens, one of Goldsmith’s protegees. Stevens had an impressive resume on his own, namely the theme to Hawaii Five-O and music for Gunsmoke, and his work on Masada was essential. That material – along with many of the bigger action cues done by Goldsmith – were curiously left off the original soundtrack album released by MCA Records. (The album, consisting of re-recorded cues, was released on CD by Varese Sarabande.) This two-disc release, however, features every cue from all four parts of the series, sourced from the immaculate four-track stereo session masters. The package is augmented by liner notes by prominent film music historian Jon Burlingame.

Masada, limited to 5,000 copies, is available to order now but will start shipping this Wednesday, June 1. Hit the jump to read the full track list! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 31, 2011 at 09:40

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Release Round-Up: Week of May 31

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Ozzy Osbourne, Blizzard of Ozz / Diary of a Madman: Legacy Edition (Epic/Legacy)

The Prince of Darkness’ first two LPs, finally put back into print with the original drum and bass tracks and expanded with bonus material (including a previously unreleased live disc for Diary). A box set packs all the CDs in with vinyl, a commemorative book and the new documentary Thirty Years After the Blizzard. (Official site)

Twisted Sister, Under the Blade: Deluxe Edition (Eagle)

Another welcome hard-rock reissue that restores the original mix of Twisted Sister’s debut LP to CD and adds some bonus EP tracks and a DVD of the band’s gig at the Reading Festival in 1982. (Official site)

Kate Bush, Director’s Cut (Fish People/EMI)

The magnificent singer/songwriter’s latest album project – her first in six years, and already released in the U.K., where it hit No. 2 – features remixed and re-recorded versions of tracks from The Sensual World (1989) and The Red Shoes (1993). A deluxe set features those original albums remastered as well. (Official site)

James Taylor, JT (Mobile Fidelity)

One of Taylor’s most satisfying albums gets the hybrid SACD treatment. (Mobile Fidelity)

The Guess Who, Flavours: Expanded Edition (Iconoclassic)

The Guess Who reissue series continues with the band’s penultimate LP for RCA. (Iconoclassic)

The O’Jays, Back Stabbers: Expanded Edition / Jon Lucien, Song for My Lady: Expanded Edition / Linda Lewis, Woman Overboard: Expanded Edition / Linx, Intuition: Expanded Edition (Big Break Records)

The latest crop of BBR reissues makes its way to U.S. shores. Back Stabbers looks like it’s gonna be a good one, what with one of the best Philly soul songs ever in “Love Train.” (Big Break Records)

Written by Mike Duquette

May 31, 2011 at 08:30

Memorial Day Special: The Andrews Sisters and the Sherman Brothers, “Over Here!”

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We interrupt our regularly-scheduled Memorial Day hiatus to bring you this surprise holiday feature!

It was 1972, but 1959 was all the rage.  Grease was the word then, as it is now.  The little musical from Chicago’s Kingston Mines Theatre had opened on Broadway where it would garner seven Tony Award nominations, run for a then- record-breaking 3,388 performances and spawn a massively successful film version.  Grease was the toast of New York, launching the careers of Adrienne Barbeau, Barry Bostwick and Walter Bobbie, among others.  But its producers, Kenneth Waissman and Maxine Fox, naturally wondered how they could top their hit.  How about doing for the 1940s what Grease did for the 1950s?  The result was Over Here!, a light-hearted romp billed as “America’s big band musical.”  On Memorial Day 2011, we celebrate this nostalgic wartime musical in tribute to the courageous and heroic servicemen who have given their lives for their country. 

Waissman and Fox enlisted a veritable Grease army for their new production.  Set designer Douglas W. Schmidt, costume designer Carrie Robbins, vocal and dance arranger Louis St. Louis, choreographer Patricia Birch and director Tom Moore all returned to the fold.  This team was joined by the top-billed Andrews Sisters, a young actor from a Grease touring company named John Travolta, writer Will Holt and two very special gentlemen of whom we’re very fond here at The Second Disc: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

Known for their scores to countless classic Walt Disney productions (from films to theme park attractions), The Sherman Brothers were both veterans of United States military service, Richard in the Korean War and Robert in World War II.  Hired directly by Walt Disney as the company’s first staff songwriters, the Shermans contributed countless songs to the fabric of Americana, including “It’s a Small World,” often considered the most performed song in history, and the Academy Award-winning score to Mary Poppins.  After Disney’s passing in 1966, they continued working inside and outside the company, and in 1971, they premiered the score to their first stage musical.  Victory Canteen had its debut at Los Angeles’ Ivar Theatre starring Patty Andrews, of The Andrews Sisters.  Robert told Didier C. Deutsch, “[Waissman and Fox] had seen Victory Canteen…and thought it might be a good idea for Broadway,” and Richard continued, “They decided it wasn’t big enough in scope, so they brought in a new writer, Will Holt, a very talented guy with a lot of theatrical experience.”  Holt replaced original writers Milt Larsen (co-founder of Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle) and Bobby Lauher, and while the Sherman Brothers were retained, they fashioned an entirely new score to match the new script.  Holt’s story depicted Pauline and Paulette DePaul, entertainers en route to Europe to perform for U.S. servicemen.  They’re seeking a third voice to fill out their harmonies, and find the ideal voice in Mitzi.  The only problem?  Mitzi is a German spy!  And she’s equipped with lipstick that’s really a radio transmitter! 

Let’s meet at the canteen after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 30, 2011 at 13:21

Miss Peggy Lee’s Capitol Catalogue Goes Digital

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Norma Deloris Egstrom of Jamestown, North Dakota, was born in 1920, but as Peggy Lee she blazed a trail like few others in American popular music.  A triple threat singer/songwriter/actress, Lee had a long recording career spanning over fifty years.  Her first No. 1 was scored in 1942 and her final track was released in 1995, seven years before her death in 2002.  She was an Academy Award-nominated actress (Pete Kelly’s Blues) and a talented songwriter whose collaborators included Harold Arlen, Cy Coleman, Duke Ellington and Lalo Schifrin.  Lee was also a fierce advocate of artists’ rights, winning a highly-publicized lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company over home video exploitation of Lady and the Tramp, the 1955 film for which she supplied songs (including the sultry “He’s a Tramp,” romantic “Bella Notte” and delightful “Siamese Cat Song”) and the voice of – who else? – Peg.  EMI/Capitol has just announced a major digital campaign celebrating what would have been Lee’s 91st birthday, introducing 22 albums to the digital domain.

These albums, available from all digital service providers, include a number of titles out-of-print on CD.  Much of Lee’s Capitol catalogue has previously been released on CD from Capitol in America, EMI in the U.K., DRG, and the much-missed Collectors’ Choice Music label.  The albums in this campaign range from 1992 to 2002, with that last title (Peggy Lee at Basin Street East: The Unreleased Show) a first-time issue of a concert recorded in 1961.  The original LP drawn from that concert, Basin Street East Proudly Presents Peggy Lee, is also among this batch of titles.

Lee’s first release as a solo artist on Capitol was in 1945; she remained at the Tower until 1972, absent only for a brief stretch at Decca between 1952 and 1957.  Lee was a femme fatale, for sure, with a husky and knowing tone.  Her hit “Fever,” a canny reworking of the Otis Blackwell-penned tune which was an R&B hit for Little Willie John, remains a summation of the distinct Peggy Lee sound.  Despite an ambitious jazz sensibility that saw her through collaborations with George Shearing, Benny Carter and others, Lee also embraced the pop/rock songbook in the 1960s and 1970s, reinventing songs by The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King, Bread and The Kinks.  Paul McCartney even wrote and produced 1974’s “Let’s Love” for Peggy, which turned out to be her 70th and final chart hit. 

Hit the jump for more details including the complete list of albums in this collection! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 27, 2011 at 10:55

Legacy Sets Simon to Rhymin’ for June 7

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Legacy has finally set a date for their new batch of Paul Simon reissues. New editions of Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin’ and Still Crazy After All These Years are coming out surprisingly soon, on June 7, according to a press release issued today.

Many have speculated on these reissues ever since Simon’s solo catalogue was licensed back to Columbia last year (where they were originally released) after years of existing in Warner Bros.’ catalogue. The constant question is simple: what’s going to be different? The answer? Not much. The three studio albums will boast the same mastering and bonus tracks as the expanded editions released by Rhino in 2004. The major addition is, of course, Live Rhymin’. The album was not reissued by Rhino last time around, and this release includes two previously unreleased live cuts.

One would expect, as the year continues, further reissues of the Paul Simon catalogue. Whether those sets are different or not, in terms of content, packaging or mastering, remain to be seen.

Hit the jump for the full discographical breakdown.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 26, 2011 at 18:20

Posted in News, Paul Simon, Reissues

Review: Rosanne Cash, “The Essential Rosanne Cash”

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It should come as no surprise to fans of Rosanne Cash that she believes “at the heart of all country music lies family, lies a devotion to exploring the boundaries of blood ties, both in performance and songwriting.”  In her revealing 2010 memoir Composed, Cash acutely puts her finger on the qualities missing from modern country, finding it lacking in “desperate loss” with even the stories of family fading from sight.  Where are the stories of grievous loss, dead babies, even dead dogs that inspired the epic musical storytelling of the past?  While Cash is far from a pure traditionalist in her music, embracing modern textures almost from the first, she possesses keen understanding of her lineage – both as the daughter of Johnny and more broadly, the daughter of Hank Williams and Carl Perkins and Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs.  All facets of Cash’s long career are fully on display on the career-spanning anthology The Essential Rosanne Cash (Columbia/Legacy 88697 82710 2) which was compiled by the artist and released on Tuesday to coincide with her 56th birthday.

Cash’s high standards and respect for the craft of songwriting has led her to be one of the few artists equally skilled as a singer/songwriter and an interpretive singer.  As such, The Essential showcases both deeply personal songs written by Cash in addition to those composed by John Hiatt, Rodney Crowell, John Stewart, Steve Goodman, Tom Petty and even John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  The earliest track on the collection is also its most rare.  “Can I Still Believe in You” hails from Cash’s 1978 German-only debut for Ariola Records, an eponymous affair that’s remained unavailable in the CD era.  Much of Cash’s sound is already intact on this song written by Rosanne and produced by her future husband, Rodney Crowell .  Even early in her career, Cash had exacting standards and a sense of her musical self.  A gentleman by the name of Bernie Vonficht pleaded with her to record a song called “Lucky” for the Ariola album.  She refused, feeling the song totally wrong for her.  Vonficht had a hit with the song, but Cash had already proven that she could stick to her guns and persevere.

The following year she was signed to Columbia, her father’s longtime label, and set out to assert her own musical identity.  She and Crowell married during the mixing of Right or Wrong, and that album’s “Baby, Better Start Turnin’ ‘Em Down,” with its hint of Motown, already revealed a strong and confident voice beyond her 24 years.  She had able support from Emory Gordy Jr., Brian Ahern, James Burton and even Hal Blaine, and impressed in this illustrious, diverse company. 

If Right or Wrong was a triple, then Seven Year Ache, its follow-up, was a home run.  Three chart-toppers are included here, two of which were written by Rosanne: the irresistibly melodic, heartbreaking title song and “Blue Moon with Heartache.”  Seven Year Ache paved the way for the modern country superstar, employing 1981 production values (with synthesizers, big drum sounds and rock band backing) on a collection of future standards.  Combining a punk attitude with a classic approach to songwriting, Cash showed off her ability to make personal themes ring true for a universal audience.  Not every track on The Essential sound explicitly autobiographical yet most are idiosyncratic and indeed rooted in her own experiences.  (Cash’s rebellious side can be heard frequently over these two discs; it’s too bad that “Second to No One” from 1985’s Rhythm and Romance wasn’t included, as it shattered some barriers when Cash sang the word “whore.”  How times have changed!  Still, Cash calls the album “a painful memory” despite its Grammy-winning success.  )  Trivia note: Seven Year Ache was mastered shortly after John Lennon’s murder, and Rosanne had “Goodbye, John” engraved into the run-out groove of the original 25,000 LPs.  Continue reading after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 26, 2011 at 12:12

Carly Simon Goes For The Gold: “No Secrets” Coming In 24K

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Only yesterday, we shared the speculation of our good buddies at MusicTAP that big things might be in store for the catalogue of Carly Simon.  Well, we’ve got a start, just one day later!  On June 21, Audio Fidelity will drop a remastered, limited 24K Gold edition of the songstress’ third – and some say, best – album, No Secrets.

1971’s Carly Simon announced a major new talent, offerings songs like the epic and hauntingly personal “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be,” the folk-rock of “Alone” and country of “One More Time.”  She followed her debut with the unforgettable Anticipation.  Aided by super-producer Richard Perry, Simon refined her sound for the breakthrough No Secrets.  Simon was often compared to Carole King, despite their very different backgrounds.  Carole was a modest Brooklyn girl who practically grew up in the Brill Building scene, whereas the folk-singing Carly was daughter of the mighty Simon and Schuster publishing empire.  Carole was an earth mother while Carly exuded sex appeal.  Let’s not be disingenuous; among other things in common, Carly married one of Carole’s most sympathetic collaborators, James Taylor, and they frequently employed the same crop of LA musicians.  But No Secrets definitively proved that Carly Simon was her own liberated woman.

Like her first two albums, 1972’s No Secrets was deeply autobiographical.  It remains a testament to her sophisticated and timeless songwriting.  Album opener “The Right Thing to Do” is a piano-driven pop song that marries one of Simon’s brightest, most infectious melodies to a perfect (and perfectly simple) horn and string arrangement subtly enhancing the tension under the surface.  When she intones “Hold me in your hands like a bunch of flowers,” what man could resist?  It’s joyful, inviting and sensual.  The fierce “You’re So Vain” launched one of rock’s most enduring mysteries and will forever be Ms. Simon’s calling card.  “We Have No Secrets” not only gave the album its title, but it has a typically clever lyric of self-discovery.  James Taylor provided the bluesy “Night Owl.”  “The Carter Family” and “His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin” are poetic yet accessible art songs.

Hit the jump for more on No Secrets, plus the track listing with discographical information and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 26, 2011 at 10:11

Posted in Carly Simon, News, Reissues