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Archive for June 2011

He Shall Be Levon: Helm Two-Fer Brings Together Rare Solo LPs

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Though The Band remains a likely candidate for Group Least Likely to Reunite, Levon Helm hasn’t been resting on his laurels.  After a 25-year year hiatus from his career as a solo artist (during which time he participated in the recording of three Band albums sans Robbie Robertson and successfully underwent treatment for throat cancer) Helm returned to recording with 2007’s acclaimed Dirt Farmer.  Since then, he’s maintained a busy live schedule, and last month’s Ramble at the Ryman preserved a gig at the legendary Ryman Auditorium with special guests Sheryl Crow, Buddy Miller, John Hiatt and Billy Bob Thornton. 

Australia’s Raven Records, however, is now turning back the clock and compiling two original albums from Helm in one package entitled Take Me to the River, due July 12.  Though the singer/multi-instrumentalist didn’t evince much creativity in titling Levon Helm (1978) and Levon Helm (1982), the albums demonstrate his mastery of all forms of American music.

A previous Raven two-fer brought together Helm’s first and third solo albums, 1977’s Levon Helm and the RCO All-Stars (ABC) and 1980’s American Son (MCA), and this companion set features his second and fourth outings.   Hit the jump for the scoop on both albums including track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 27, 2011 at 11:06

People All Over the World! A New “Soul Train” Comp Rolls Your Way

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For most of its 35-year run, there was no better outlet for soul music on television than Soul Train. Featuring a diverse palette of R&B artists and the commanding presence of creator/producer/host Don Cornelius, Soul Train has become an institution, the longest-running, nationally syndicated show in American history – albeit one that modern audiences would be slow to appreciate, were it not for the efforts of Time-Life Entertainment in releasing several official DVDs of content from the shows back in 2009.

Now, Time-Life follows up those discs with a special compilation, The Best of Soul Train Live, in stores tomorrow. While most of the performances on the program were lip-synched to the original tracks, a few here and there were not. And a dozen such performances will be captured on this DVD. Most of them stem from the show’s first four seasons, although there is a legendary 1979 duet between Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson on his “Ooo, Baby Baby” and a medley of hits from Stevie Wonder performed in 1991.

Hit the jump for full track details and an Amazon link, and remember – as always, we wish you love, peace…and soul! Read the rest of this entry »

Reissue Theory: Michael Jackson, “Bad: The Remixes”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. As the world reflects on the two-year anniversary of the loss of the King of Pop, we take a look at some of Michael Jackson’s most accessible vault material and envision a simple way of getting some of that material into the awaiting arms of the public.

It’s hard to believe Michael Jackson’s been gone two years this Saturday. We’ve all mourned together, and we’ve all watched with varying degrees of interest the catalogue material that Universal and Sony have each put out. We’ve had our copies of This is It and Michael and Vision in our possession, and we wonder what’s next to come from the vaults. (Smart money would be on a soundtrack to the upcoming MJ/Cirque du Soleil attraction.)

There’s been plenty of speculation about what one might add to reissues of Off the Wall or even Bad or Dangerous. (While a third Thriller reissue would strike many as overkill, I think there’s enough material to provide for a Pet Sounds Sessions-esque box set.) Naturally, a discussion would hinge on what’s in the vaults versus what might be lurking around on long-out-of-print singles or videos. I’d like to present a look at the latter, namely, the first album in which Jackson seemed on board with extended mixes for vinyl singles.

After the jump, let’s have a listen to some of Michael Jackson’s remixes to Bad – including a couple of neat surprises! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 24, 2011 at 11:35

Gentle On His Mind: Two Early Glen Campbell Classics Reissued By BGO

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It’s knowing that your door is always open and your path is free to walk/That makes me tend to leave my sleepin’ bag rolled up and stashed behind your couch…

For nearly fifty years, many of us have opened our doors to Glen Campbell on record and on television.  So it came as a shock that, just two months before the release of what’s being billed as his final studio recording, Campbell announced that he has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.  The beloved singer and guitar legend still intends to embark on a farewell tour, and his wife Kim, speaking to People, assured fans that “Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer.  But if he flubs a lyric or gets confused onstage, I wouldn’t want people to think ‘What’s the matter with him?  Is he drunk?”  For the new album, Ghost on the Canvas, Campbell will be joined by a number of musicians whom he has influenced, including Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan, Billy Corgan, Robert Pollard and Rick Nielsen.  But before that valedictory LP is released, the U.K.’s BGO label is affording fans the opportunity to revisit two Campbell classics on one CD.  1967’s Gentle on My Mind and By the Time I Get to Phoenix were the artist’s 6th and 7th studio albums for Capitol Records, and both were built around the titled hit singles.  Both were country chart-toppers and the former peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 while the latter reached No. 15.  The two-on-one CD is due in stores on July 4.

Gentle on My Mind was produced by Al De Lory, with De Lory arranging and conducting alongside none other than Leon Russell.  Many familiar titles can be heard on the LP alongside John Hartford’s title song, which became one of Campbell’s signature songs.  Donovan’s “Catch the Wind,” Jimmie Rodgers’ “It’s Over,” Petula Clark’s “You’re My World,” Harry Nilsson’s “Without Her” and Roy Orbison’s “Cryin’” all were recipients of the Campbell treatment.  The band was, naturally, an accomplished one.  Two players came from the famed Los Angeles “Wrecking Crew,” of which Campbell was a member, playing for everyone from Frank Sinatra to The Beach Boys (and Campbell, of course, was even a one-time touring Beach Boy himself).  Joe Osborn handled bass and Leon Russell played piano as “Russell Bridges.”  Campbell, on acoustic guitar, was joined by another legend of the instrument, James Burton, on both acoustic and electric, while Doug Dillard played banjo.  Future Domino (of Derek and the Dominos) Jim Gordon played drums.  “Gentle on My Mind,” the song, won two Grammy Awards.  But just three months after Gentle’s release in August 1967, Capitol unveiled another Glen Campbell LP.

Hit the jump to read about the album that made Grammy Awards history, plus the complete track listing and discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 24, 2011 at 09:23

Queen Adopts iTunes LP for Reissues – But Who Else Does?

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At first I thought there wasn’t much to post about this article from MusicWeek. Queen and Universal are throwing their support behind the iTunes LP for the band’s upcoming reissues (the next batch of which is out next week). Big deal, right?

But then I thought about a few paragraphs from the middle of the piece, that really seem to tell a more intriguing story than the idea of a band trying to promote their catalogue titles:

Universal’s commitment to iTunes LP could prove a shot in the arm for the format, which has yet to really break through since launch in September 2009, despite acts like Gorillaz experimenting with the format and The Beatles’ albums being available as iTunes LPs.

Criticisms of iTunes LP have included the price – they can be as much as twice the price of a standard digital album – and the fact that they only work on the iTunes desktop, so consumers don’t get the full experience on an iPad or iPhone.

I think, in a nutshell, these paragraphs pretty accurately sum up the issues of the format. Look, here’s the problem (and I realize I’m not saying anything groundbreaking, but here it is): nobody seems certain of which demographic the iTunes LP (never a favorite format at The Second Disc) is meant to cater to. As with even physical products, older fans aren’t going to spring for it if the content isn’t totally excellent and deserving of the deluxe treatment (that’s not even taking into consideration the whole “older consumers will stick to physical product” argument). And younger fans aren’t going to see any value in bonus content, since they’ve been trained by years of downloading to not see a whole heck of a lot of intrinsic value in any kind of music.

There are certainly exceptions on both sides, but the majority of people who would even be interested in the offerings of an iTunes LP would just as soon buy them in a physical format. Labels owe it to themselves to cater to that market share as long as it’s around while still figuring out some sort of strategy that will honor a deluxe package in a non-physical format – all the better for younger music fans to get hooked on.

Have you ever bought an iTunes LP? What are your thoughts on the format? What might sensibly replace them?

Written by Mike Duquette

June 23, 2011 at 18:49

“Kryptonite” to Be Reissued – That’s What I Said, Now

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It appears 20th anniversary music reissues come in threes. Yesterday had words on Nirvana’s Nevermind and U2’s Achtung Baby; now, there’s word from Legacy Recordings that August will see an expanded edition of…Spin Doctors’ Pocket Full of Kryptonite.

Sure, giggle all you want, but it’s hard to deny that Spin Doctors had quite a moment in the sun in the early 1990s. Formed in New York City in the late ’80s, Spin Doctors were initially known more for their jam-friendly live shows (often performing alongside Blues Traveler, whose frontman John Popper was originally a member of the band and a friend of Spin Doctors frontman Chris Barron) than their studio work. But after increasing their fan base through the first-ever installment of the H.O.R.D.E. Festival, and heightened attention from MTV thanks to the videos for singles “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong,” Pocket Full of Kryptonite skyrocketed, ultimately sending two singles into the U.S. Top 20 and going triple platinum.

And hardcore fans of the band are going to have plenty to enjoy on this new reissue. The album is augmented with 17 bonus tracks, including a non-LP B-side version of closing track “Hard to Exist” and a sampling of tunes from the band’s first demo tapes, Can’t Say No (1989) and Piece of Glass (1990). The disc features several tracks from Kryptonite (including demo versions of “Two Princes” and opening track “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues”), a few tracks that ended up on future Spin Doctors LPs and some outright unreleased material. The bonus disc closes with two live tracks from the band’s lengthy tour in support of the record.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, to be sure, but if you want to find out more, read the press release here and find the track list after the jump. Just go ahead now! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 23, 2011 at 16:38

Posted in News, Reissues, Spin Doctors

One Box: U2 to Compile Early ’90s Reissues This Fall

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Looks like Universal’s Nevermind box set isn’t the only such package coming from the label this year. Rolling Stone‘s newest issue reports some progress on the long-expected 20th anniversary edition of U2’s Achtung Baby – and it looks like there’s going to be a few surprises in store.

The article – which isn’t is now available online but was duly reported by @U2 and Slicing Up Eyeballs – indicates that both Achtung Baby (1991) and its follow-up, 1993’s Zooropa will be remastered and incorporated into some sort of box set, likely to be paired with other audio and video artifacts of the Zoo TV era. While the writing was on the wall for Achtung Baby – the band had been reported to have been remastering the album last year, and last month was spotted shooting documentary footage as their 360 Tour went through Canada – including Zooropa is a surprise.

Also surprising is what some have perceived to be some cynical commentary from the band’s longtime manager Paul McGuinness. “There will be multiple formats,” McGuinness said of the project. “If you pile a lot of extra material and packaging and design work into a super-duper box set, there are people who will pay quite a lot for it, so you can budget it at a very high level and pump up the value.”

Ouch. Considering U2 have done some of the best reissues of the past few years, it’s kind of harsh for McGuinness to sound as opportunistic as he does. Maybe the skepticism is coming from the concern that an Achtung Baby reissue may finally be the U2 expansion to not live up to the hype (anyone who has the Salomé bootleg – three discs’ of Achtung outtakes – might empathize). Maybe it’s the misguided bitterness from this one author that Rattle and Hum is getting left in the lurch as reissues go.

Of course, there’s not even a firm release date for the project yet (RS vaguely cites a fall release), so perhaps judgment should be reserved for firmer details. And of course, when those details arrive, you’ll find them here!

Written by Mike Duquette

June 23, 2011 at 11:22

Posted in Box Sets, News, Reissues, U2

Reissue Theory: Bette Midler, “The Divine Miss M”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we take a look at notable albums and the reissues they may someday see.  Long before “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “From a Distance,” Bette Midler was blazing a path like few others before or since with her blend of outrageous comedy, musical invention and pure showmanship.  Yet despite a treasure trove of unreleased material, Midler’s platinum debut, The Divine Miss M, has never been expanded on CD.  What might such a reissue be like?

“One bathhouse. We played one bathhouse….No, it was only ever that one bathhouse.”

So responded Barry Manilow earlier this month to Vanity Fair when queried whether he was nostalgic for the bathhouses he played in the early days of the 1970s as Bette Midler’s musical director. But Manilow’s stint playing for Midler at New York’s Continental Baths has entered into show biz lore, as it launched not one, but two, superstar careers that endure to the present day. As Manilow explained, “[The Continental Baths] had a cabaret stage, and they hired me as the house piano player. They asked me, ‘Hey, do you want to play piano here full-time?’ And I was like ‘Sure, why not?’ I played with all of the acts that came through, all the singers. Bette was the best of them…so I stayed with her…She was fucking brilliant. I mean it. You never saw anything like it. It topped anything Lady Gaga is doing today. And she did it without any stage tricks or fancy effects. It was just Bette and me and a drummer.” And while Manilow may sound hyperbolic, many reports at the time confirm his recollections.  Bette Midler was, and is, unquestionably an original.

Midler had played her first engagement at the Baths in August 1970, after she had already begun courting much larger stages with appearances on The David Frost Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and the biggest talk show of them all, Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. The girl from Hawaii who had played a lengthy run as Tzeitel in Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof and then a stint in the off-Broadway rock musical Salvation had her eyes on mainstream success. She was an instant smash with Carson on her first appearance of August 12, 1970; she began at the Baths two nights later and returned to the Tonight Show and its smitten host on August 31. Barry Manilow came into her life in late 1970 or early 1971; though exact dates are fuzzy, he became Midler’s musical director by the time of the September 1971 stand at New York’s Downstairs at the Upstairs cabaret. Though she had become the toast of New York and television with her boisterous, outrageous stage antics and wild reworkings of old standards, novelties and rock and roll tunes, Midler naturally desired to become a recording star. A 1969 demo session including her then-trademark take on Harry Akst and Grant Clark’s 1929 “Am I Blue?” was shopped around but hadn’t led anywhere. Perhaps her bawdy persona and eclectic repertoire simply couldn’t be contained on vinyl?

That all changed with the release of 1972’s The Divine Miss M on the Atlantic label. Though it received a remastered edition in 1995 and last month was reissued as an audiophile LP from Mobile Fidelity, the album has never been expanded on CD. Yet there a number of riches that still remain in the Atlantic vaults that paint a fuller picture of the hungry young performer, equal parts singer, actress and performance artist. Today’s Reissue Theory imagines a 2-CD expanded edition of Midler’s eclectic, electric debut.  Hit the jump for a story involving Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, music legend Ahmet Ertegun, Philly soul architect Thom Bell, jazz guru Joel Dorn, Brill Building stalwart Doc Pomus, and of course, Barry Manilow and Bette Midler! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 23, 2011 at 10:42

La-La Land Preps Reissues for Goldsmith and Trevor Jones Plus Titles for Comic-Con

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La-La Land Records released its newest titles yesterday featuring some A-list composers – all the while, as always, amid speculation for their next releases at the San Diego Comic-Con.

This week’s releases were Bad Girls by Jerry Goldsmith and The Sender by Trevor Jones. Bad Girls, a Western about a quartet of prostitutes (Andie MacDowell, Drew Barrymore, Mary Stuart Masterson and Madeline Stowe) on the run in Texas after a justifiable homicide and subsequent jailbreak. The score boasted the kind of action material (this time with a natural Western twist) that Goldsmith was already legendary for, and this release greatly expands the original Fox Records CD, which ran just under 40 minutes. Meanwhile, The Sender is an early horror score from Trevor Jones, the South African composer who’d later become famous for scores to Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986) as well as 1992’s The Last of the Mohicans.

These two titles are La-La Land’s last for a month; the next three will be announced on July 19, but they will be available first at the San Diego Comic-Con that weekend (July 21-24) before being offered for the general public on August 2. Fan speculation is, as always, rampant; the label’s Comic-Con batch last year included excellent expansions of the scores to Krull (1983) and Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). There has been semi-official confirmation that Elliot Goldenthal’s score to Batman Forever (1995) will get an expanded release this year – but its status as Comic-Con title has been debunked by Goldenthal’s Facebook page, which puts the release on track for October. While this may be disappointing for some, that means there are even more titles worthy of such a major announcement in the pipeline!

Bad Girls is limited to 3,000 copies, while The Sender caps out at half of that – 1,500 units. Track lists and ordering info are after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 22, 2011 at 13:18

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Hendrix “In The West” Emerges With New Performances, Retooled Track List

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Those looking forward to Experience Hendrix’s upcoming reissue of In the West might be surprised to find that the new In the West isn’t quite the same album it was upon its original release in 1972, and not just because of the three added bonus tracks.  Confirmation has come from Experience Hendrix’s website that, while In the West’s original eight songs still figure on the disc, two will be heard in different performances.

The original LP was drawn from Hendrix’s concerts 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.  For the September 13 reissue, both of the Royal Albert Hall performances have been replaced.   “Little Wing” will now be heard in a rendition from the second show at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom on October 12, 1968.  “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” from Royal Albert Hall has been replaced with a performance from the San Diego Sports Arena on May 24, 1969, exactly three months after the Royal Albert Hall date.

Hit the jump for more information on this unexpected change, and the full track listing with each performance venue indicated! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 22, 2011 at 10:42