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Archive for June 17th, 2011

Review: Two By Richard Rodgers, “On Your Toes” (1952) and “Carousel” (1955)

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June is busting out all over, and so is the music of Richard Rodgers. Then again, the work of the composer (1902-1979) is always busting out all over. Even in 2010, Rodgers had the third most-covered song of the year, according to ASCAP. The song was “My Funny Valentine,” with lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and it was written in 1937, proving that Richard Rodgers’ music is, indeed, timeless.  Masterworks Broadway, drawing from Sony Music Entertainment’s Columbia and RCA Victor vaults, has been a leading light in bringing classic theatre titles into the digital age, as downloads and CDs on demand. The past month has brought two titles composed by Rodgers, and they couldn’t be more different.

Rodgers’ partnership with Hart is characterized by the insouciant, jazz-inflected musical comedies they created, which produced perhaps the greatest run of standards in musical history: “Where or When,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Blue Moon,” “It Never Entered My Mind,” “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” and “I Could Write a Book” are just a few. One of those titles, 1936’s On Your Toes, received its first recording in 1952 from Columbia Records, and that title has arrived in digital splendor. The Rodgers and Hart partnership went on a temporary hiatus in 1943 when Rodgers teamed with Oscar Hammerstein II, a playwright, lyricist and innovator of the operetta form, to write Oklahoma!.  That collaboration changed the face of musical theatre, perfecting the art of integrating song, dance and dialogue into a seamless whole.  Rodgers and Hart had one final hurrah reteaming to write new material for a revival of their 1927 A Connecticut Yankee, but Hart died soon after, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, the team, was born. But this was a largely different Rodgers, composing sweeping, majestic, dramatic melodies for “musicals,” often a different animal than “musical comedies.” In 1955, RCA Victor brought out the most complete recording of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical Carousel, and that, too, has just received the Masterworks treatment.

Should fans of On Your Toes and Carousel invest in these new reissues, both of which are studio cast recordings making their first-ever digital/CD(-R) debuts? Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 17, 2011 at 12:26

Review: Ozzy Osbourne, “Blizzard of Ozz: Expanded Edition” and “Diary of a Madman: Legacy Edition”

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There’s something wonderful about seeing things in a different light than before. Some of us go through our lives thinking certain things are one way, when others might see the same thing in a totally opposite way. If those two sides see eye-to-eye, though? It’s a beautiful thing.

I’d like to think that there’s a bit of that eye-to-eye business with Epic/Legacy’s new reissues of the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums. New fans who pick these packages up will learn that there is so much more to the Prince of Darkness than some cheap shocks and silly reality shows – and the label itself gets a fine lesson on how not to mess with a good thing.

In case you’ve missed this story before, when Blizzard of Ozz (1980) and Diary of a Madman (1981) were last released by Legacy in 2002 (as Epic/Legacy EK 85247 and 85249, respectively), they were grossly misleading products. The original bass and drum tracks, performed by Ozzy’s touring band members Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake, were scrubbed off the reissues and replaced by new tracks performed by Robert Trujilo of Metallica and Mike Bordin of Faith No More. The reason was fairly simple – Osbourne was engaged in lawsuits with the musicians and essentially used this as a kiss-off – but there was no indication that any of the new discs had re-recorded parts.

Now, however, these new reissues (Epic/Legacy 88697 73818-2 and 88697 73821-2) feature the albums as they were originally meant to be heard – a must-buy in and of itself – but what fans know (and what fans-to-be will certainly find out) is that the real stars of the show aren’t the rhythm tracks, but the two members of the band whose first names end in “y.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 17, 2011 at 10:11

UPDATE 6/17: Jimi Hendrix “In The West” and “Winterland” To Be Expanded in September, Track Listings For Singles and Bonus Discs Announced

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Rolling Stone first revealed the upcoming plans from Experience Hendrix and Legacy Recordings for the next round of Jimi Hendrix reissues, and all of the info is now in!  This wave should please even the most demanding fans of the late, legendary guitar god.

On September 13, Experience Hendrix will reissue In the West and Winterland for the first time under its aegis.  In the West, a posthumously-released 1972 collection of live Hendrix performances, was originally issued by Polydor and Reprise.  The album contains songs from Hendrix’s performances at the Royal Albert Hall on February 24, 1969, the San Diego Sports Arena on May 24, 1969, Berkeley Community Theatre on May 30, 1970 and the Isle of Wight Festival on August 30, 1970.  According to both Experience Hendrix’s item page and the official press release, the upcoming reissue, housed in a digipak on CD and also available on vinyl, will expand the album’s eight tracks (including covers of “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Johnny B. Goode” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”) with five new songs, but the track listing only indicates three extras (“Fire,” “I Don’t Live Today” and “Spanish Castle Magic”).  The accompanying 24-page booklet will include rare and previously unreleased photographs by Jim Marshall, the man behind the album’s classic cover photo.

Live at Winterland with The Jimi Hendrix Experience was first released in 1987 on the Rykodisc label.  Live at Winterland documented The Experience’s performances at the famous San Francisco ballroom (also home of The Band’s The Last Waltz) where they played two shows each night on October 10, 11 and 12, 1968.  The big news is that Winterland (with simplified title) will be expanded to a 4-CD box set, therefore making an ideal holiday gift.  The box will include a 36-page booklet with notes by David Fricke and previously unpublished photographs.  If you prefer vinyl to CD, an 8-LP version will be released concurrently, and for those who don’t want the whole shebang, a single-disc highlights set will also arrive.  Amazon.com will offer a 5-CD exclusive edition and an 8-LP/1-CD exclusive set.  Both packages include a bonus disc consisting of four recordings from the February 4, 1968 performance at Winterland not otherwise represented on the box set.  These tracks were previously only available on the Dagger Records “official bootleg” Paris ’67/San Francisco ’68.

Winterland, the box, will be preceded by a single release of “Like a Rolling Stone” b/w “Purple Haze” in a previously unreleased Winterland performance not available on the box itself.  The single will be available on Tuesday, August 23 in the United States and one day earlier overseas.  One CD of Winterland highlights will also arrive on September 13.

Complementing these audio releases will be two new DVDs, an uncut edition of Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight, and Jimi Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show, presenting all of the programs in which Hendrix guested with the famed raconteur.  Mike has all of the details on these two releases here.

Hit the jump for the track listings for In the West and Winterland plus pre-order links at Experience Hendrix! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 17, 2011 at 01:22