The Second Disc

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Archive for June 8th, 2011

Judas Priest Prep Singles Box

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Judas Priest may be heading toward the finish line, at least as live performances go, with their current Epitaph World Tour (though sadly without founding guitarist K.K. Downing, who elected to retire a bit early), but they still have plenty of irons in the fire – including a neat catalogue set for hardcore collectors.

The band announced the impending release of Single Cuts: The Complete U.K. Singles Collection, a 20-disc set replicating every one of the band’s British singles, right down to the picture sleeves.

Of particular interest to collectors is the inclusion of a large amount of live B-sides, many of which have never been available on CD (some made it onto Legacy’s Setlist entry for the band). While many of the band’s singles had album cuts on the flip sides, about 13 of the tracks on the box are live and as aggressive as ever. (There’s also another interesting B-side in “The Judas Priest Audio File,” a sort of mega-mix of Priest’s best songs at the time of release.)

The collection certainly isn’t complete; some U.S. singles had other live cuts and even a few dance mixes by the end of the ’80s, many of which have yet to surface on CD. And some of the discs in the box follow the 12″ single track lists, while others just stick to the basic 45 lineup. But it’s still a pretty awesome set for the dedicated fan – and fans have seen sets with far less for a higher price tag than the $99 being charged for this set in the States.

Single Cuts can be ordered through Priest’s official website. The full track breakdown is after the jump (note that some tracks were not described as live on the official site, although they were as such on the singles – we shall correct any errors we find out about). (A special thanks to super reader George for staying on top of this one!) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 8, 2011 at 14:06

Tony Bennett’s Improv Years Revisited By Concord For Crooner’s 85th Birthday

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In 1975, Tony Bennett was without a record label and at a crossroads.  He had turned down numerous entreaties to return to Columbia Records, the label that launched him to stardom in 1950 but refused to give him the creative freedom he deserved.  (See our special feature on Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today for more on that!)  He had finished a two-album tenure at MGM Records and felt the time was right to strike out on his own.  And so Improv Records was born.  And although the label only released ten albums or so in its roughly two years of existence, don’t call it a failure when Tony Bennett is around.  “It’s ridiculous!  These guys are crazy to look at Improv as a failure,” the singer lamented to eminent jazz critic Will Friedwald.  “I had Bill Evans, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, Charlie Byrd, Torrie Zito, Jimmy and Marian McPartland, all the greatest musicians.  The critics went crazy for the albums; they thought they were the greatest albums ever made.  So the company fails because I had some hooligans handling it.”  And time has proven Anthony Dominick Benedetto correct.  The music recorded by Bennett on his five albums for Improv is among the finest music he, or any other jazz vocalist, has ever recorded.  With Bennett’s 85th birthday, a new album and landmark concert engagements all coming up this year, Concord Records is celebrating with a single-disc distillation of Bennett’s Improv years.

Tony Bennett: The Best of the Improv Recordings collects 16 tracks released between 1975 and 1977 onto a single disc, Tony Bennett: The Best of the Improv Recordings. Due in stores on July 12, just three weeks prior to Bennett’s birthday, the compilation is a distillation of 2004’s lavish four-disc box The Complete Improv Recordings, which included all five Bennett albums plus numerous alternate takes, outtakes and singles.

“These tracks capture the moment in Tony Bennett’s career when he had complete artistic freedom,” says Nick Phillips, Vice President of Catalog and Jazz A&R at Concord Music Group and producer of the 2004 box.  “As the head of his own label, he was the person who was calling all the shots and running the show. He was free to record what he wanted to record — music that was really important to him and resonated with him . . . I think the results are nothing short of stellar.”

Hit the jump for a tour through Bennett’s Improv period, plus track listing with discographical information and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 8, 2011 at 10:02