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Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for May 13th, 2011

La-La Land May Report Third Bat Sighting

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It started, as these things so often do, with a question on composer Elliot Goldenthal’s Facebook page: “What’s the score?” Just a fan making simple conversation about the composer’s music, past, present and future. The answer was a shocker: Goldenthal’s camp confirmed that La-La Land Records was following up their great releases of the complete scores to Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), each composed by Danny Elfman, with Goldenthal’s complete score to Batman Forever (1995).

While Forever was the beginning of the end for the Batman franchise – director Tim Burton stepped into the producer’s chair, and director Joel Schumacher turned Gotham City into a garish world of neon and over-the-top performances from Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones as The Riddler and Two-Face (not to mention a wooden effort from new Batman Val Kilmer) – the rousing, heroic themes by Goldenthal, a composer then best known for his work on films like Alien3 (1992) and Interview with the Vampire (1994) (for which he received an Oscar nomination), were a bright spot for the flick. Of course, it was overshadowed by a soundtrack featuring the smash “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal and other tunes from U2, PJ Harvey and The Flaming Lips, and while the score received a truncated CD release, fans have clamored for more.

Now, there is more. Goldenthal’s camp confirmed the score would stretch across two discs, and La-La Land head MV Gerhardt did a tongue-in-cheek job of confirming things, hinting that the score – with liner notes featuring input from both Goldenthal and Schumacher – would receive a summer release, likely around the same time as Batman‘s premiere at the San Diego Comic-Con a year ago.

Fascinating news for film score and Batman fans. One wouldn’t be surprised if LLL completed the cycle by releasing Goldenthal’s score to 1997’s Batman & Robin in the future – the only Bat-score to receive no commercial release.

Written by Mike Duquette

May 13, 2011 at 15:30

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Queen Update: U.S. Release Dates and Digital Videos

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Here’s some more news about the ongoing waves of expanded reissues by Queen – namely, when the next batch will come out in America and a note on digital extras.

Next week, U.S. fans will have their chance to buy the first five Queen 40th anniversary remasters – Queen, Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races – without paying import prices. And now, the next batch (News of the World, Jazz, The Game, Flash Gordon and Hot Space) have a domestic release date from Hollywood Records. They will be released in North America on…September 27. It’s a lengthy gap between releases, considering that the first batch hit the rest of the world in March and the second will come out in June. That’s a three-month gap versus four months here; I’d bet that the third batch would be ready to go by the time the U.S. gets the second. But again, if you don’t want to pay import prices or would rather get a verdict from friends and collectors who will likely not wait that long, your chance is here.

It’s also worth pointing out, if you’re into this sort of thing, that all the reissues have been or will be released as iTunes LPs, with extra visual content. In addition to some sort of digital liner notes or photo gallery, each come with videos as well. We’ve included all those video track lists, including the just-announced lists for the second batch, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 13, 2011 at 14:26

Posted in Digital, News, Queen, Reissues

Review: Derek and the Dominos, “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs: 40th Anniversary Edition”

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Size isn’t everything.

Though Universal’s new super-deluxe box set of Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (Polydor/Universal 0600753314326) is about as hefty as these packages come, the best of the box set could fit into a standard jewel case.  The 40th anniversary collection includes (drum roll, please) 4 CDs, an audio DVD (though not DVD-Audio – more on that later), 2 LPs, a 48-page hardcover book, an art print, badges, pop-up artwork and a scratch-plate sticker.  But the best argument for boxing Layla in a package like this can simply be found in the grooves of the 2 LPs or even smaller, pressed on the compact discs within.  Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs is still a scorching rock album by a band in the right place at the right time.  The 40th anniversary box set dedicated to this potent barnstormer of an album is at once impressive and clumsy, overwhelming and disappointing.

Layla features the sound of an impossibly tight band, sympathetic and attuned to each other, producing a joyful noise.  They played the blues, for sure, but with a joy, too, that’s nearly unmatched in the annals of rock.  The band was born out of sessions held for George Harrison’s solo debut All Things Must Pass, when Eric Clapton, a Brit, found himself jamming with three American wunderkinds: Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon.  Clapton was a restless journeyman, tortured by his personal demons (most significantly, a passion for his friend George’s wife Pattie) but also ever searching for the perfect musical identity, too.  He departed The Yardbirds when the group was becoming too pop, and though a blues purist, felt too confined by John Mayall’s ranks.  Clapton had his biggest success in Cream, but was losing interest in the somewhat indulgent jams.  Through Blind Faith and then with Delaney and Bonnie, Clapton connected with his desire to be a bandmate, but was frustrated when he still wound up the star attraction with the Delaney and Bonnie band.  (See the LP title: Delaney and Bonnie and Friends On Tour with Eric Clapton.)  Derek and the Dominos, though, for a short time appeared to be the answers to God’s prayer.  God, of course, was Clapton, so named by the graffiti artists of London, and God became Derek, leading this band under an unassuming doo-wop style handle.  The band’s name itself was a throwback to those simpler times, though their music was far from nostalgic.

The core Layla album is presented in numerous formats in the box set: 2 LPs of vinyl, a remastered CD, and an audio DVD.  The latter format is most definitely the ideal way to go!  The undisputed master of surround sound, Elliot Scheiner, has created a new 5.1 mix that handily bests the 2004 SACD surround mix by Mick Guzauski and Simon Climie.  Scheiner, all too infrequently employed in the present, diminished surround market, has provided a dramatic mix that isn’t a mere wall of sound.  It’s a room of sound, a total barrage.  The rear channels are used to amazing effect, with pianos tinkling and guitars ringing.  Can I ever listen to “Bell Bottom Blues” in stereo again?  I’m not sure!  Scheiner’s immersive interpretation of Layla deserves a stand-alone release in the DVD-Audio or Blu-Ray Audio format, as DTS and Dolby Digital don’t offer full advanced resolution sound.  (Oddly, Universal made Rush’s Moving Pictures available in surround in both formats.)  The good news, though, is that anyone with a DVD player and 5.1 setup can hear this mix.  Scheiner’s mixes are never subtle but they’re always tasteful and realistic, devoid of gimmicks.  Layla is no exception.  (One bonus track, “Mean Old World,” has also been mixed into surround and concludes the DVD program.)

But whether in stereo or surround, Layla remains a searing experience.  The band was famously joined by Duane Allman, who lent his guitar to twelve songs.  Albhy Galuten, a trusted collaborator of Barry Gibb, played piano on one track, a cover of Jimmy Cox’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.”  Covers were deftly blended with originals by the Clapton/Whitlock team, individually and collectively, and all of the songs feel of a piece.  Clapton’s work, including “Bell Bottom Blues” and the title song (co-written with Jim Gordon), was largely inspired by his burning passion for Pattie Boyd, the then-Mrs. Harrison.

Most striking is how well the album appeals to those looking for extended instrumental showcases while still largely adhering to structured songwriting.  “Keep On Growing” is one example, a jam that literally grew into a full-fledged song.  “Why Does Love Have to Be So Sad” is another, a hard-rocking original that heads straight into jazz improv territory.  “Tell the Truth” had morphed from the original Spector “wall of sound” single into a funkier groove with Allman’s presence.  The album literally builds to the thunderous storm that is “Layla,” and relaxes with the lyrical “Thorn Tree in the Garden.”  In a most rare scenario, the album was actually sequenced, for the most part, in the order that the songs were recorded!

What else does this new box set offer?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 13, 2011 at 13:43

It’s the Summer of “SMiLE”!

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We’ve got a pair of dueling release dates for you regarding the long-awaited release of The Beach Boys’ legendary lost SMiLE set.

Depending on what you’ve read, the sets – a two-disc “best of” from the sessions as well as a four-disc box set with a double-vinyl LP set, two vinyl singles and a hardbound book – will be released either July 12 or August 9.

It seems that the source for both dates is a report from Direct Current Music, which has been duly picked up by several sources, including our good friends at Pause & Play. Oddly, checking that same report now has the initial date replaced by the later August 9 street date.

So who’s right? It’s not entirely certain yet – but if SMiLE indeed drops July 12, it’s going to have some interesting titles to share the date with – EMI’s set both expanded reissues of Megadeth’s Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? and R.E.M.’s Lifes Rich Pageant on the same day.

Keep an eye out while we attempt to lock down the date!

Written by Mike Duquette

May 13, 2011 at 12:33