The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 1st, 2011

Friday Feature: “The Transformers: The Movie”

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That crunching, crashing sound you hear is another Transformers movie rolling out into theaters. The series’ third installment, Dark of the Moon, features Autobots and Decepticons yet again pummeling each other into scrap metal with the fate of the Earth at stake.

While it remains to be seen – at least by this author – if the new film is any worse than the abhorrent Revenge of the Fallen from 2009 (which featured an enemy with a crotch made of wrecking balls, hereafter referred to as “Decepticles”), it did provoke some thoughts on the lengthy history of the first Transformers film, released some 25 years ago, and the lengthy list of albums that have been released to commemorate it.

At the end of this post, one shall stand and one shall fall – so pull up a chair, maximize your Energon cubes and read about some of the most endearingly silly music to come from a soundtrack of the ’80s! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 1, 2011 at 12:27

Patti Smith Still “Outside Society” On New Legacy Comp

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October 30, 2009.  Electricity was in the air at the second evening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  In a crowning irony, quintessential downtown icon Patti Smith had taken the uptown stage in this most mainstream of venues.  She was on hand to sing her 1978 hit “Because the Night” with its co-writer and the unofficial ringleader for the two marathon shows, Bruce Springsteen, and pianist Roy Bittan.  The song required a couple of takes to get it right for the broadcast, but take it from one who was there: the first try was raw, unvarnished, imperfect rock and roll.  And who better to embody that spirit than Patti Smith, often recognized as the godmother of punk?

Her story is the stuff of legend.  An intense affair with controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. A residence at the Chelsea Hotel (where else?). Performance art on the streets of Paris.  A play co-written with notorious “bad boy” Sam Shepard.  Gigs at CBGB’s.  A singer, musician, poet, artist, writer and activist, Patti Smith can’t be boxed into one category.  But a great place to start exploring the many sides of Smith just might be the upcoming release of Outside Society from Legacy Recordings.   This 18-track anthology (available in 1-CD or 2-LP configurations) is the first single-disc compilation to explore the entirety of Smith’s recording career on both Arista and Columbia Records, from 1975’s debut Horses through 2007’s Twelve.  (A previous collection, Land, was a two-disc affair current as of 2002.)

Chronologically, Smith’s career begins and ends with pure rock.  The first track on Outside Society (and first on 1975’s Horses) is her cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” maybe the quintessential garage anthem.  2007’s Twelve revisited more songs influential to Smith, and Outside Society picks its reinvention of Kurt Cobain’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” underlining the lasting power of primal primitivism in music.  Along the way, Outside Society collects highlights from all ten of Smith’s studio albums which feature her singular mix of rock, jazz, poetry and improvisation.  (The singer has always defied easy classification despite those hanging “art rock” or “punk” tags on her albums.)  She hasn’t been particularly prolific as a recording artist, but her influence has been immense.  One song included is Smith’s take (from 1979’s Todd Rundgren-produced Wave) on Roger McGuinn’s withering “So You Want To Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star?”  Whether or not she intended to become one, Patti Smith certainly did.

The compilation features the contributions of her bandmates, with original Nuggets creator Lenny Kaye (guitar) and Jay Dee Daugherty (drums) the longest-serving members.  Kaye, Daugherty, Richard Sohl (keyboard/piano) and Ivan Kral (bass) formed the Patti Smith Group, which hit its commercial peak in 1978 with Easter and “Because the Night.”  Smith contributes track-by-track liner notes for the new release, and says this of her enduring hit: “Bruce Springsteen gave me a great gift in allowing me to lend verses to his beautifully constructed anthem.  My contribution was written for my future husband, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith. Though we have performed it hundreds of times, the strong response it draws always makes it fresh and exciting to sing.”  Springsteen finally released his original take on “Because the Night” on 2010’s The Promise, and Natalie Merchant’s 10,000 Maniacs, of course, took it back up the charts in 1993.  But for many, it remains Patti Smith’s song.

Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing with discographical annotation and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 1, 2011 at 10:49

Masterworks Broadway Announces Three More CD Debuts Including “Divine Hair”

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In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Scott Farthing, Sony Masterworks’ Senior Director of Marketing, estimated that the Sony vaults house 80-85% of all [American] cast recordings ever made. Largely built on the combined catalogues of Columbia Records and RCA Victor (and their associated labels), the Masterworks Broadway label has gradually been making that immense library available once again in the digital domain. Masterworks has just announced its summer line-up, and as usual, it’s a varied one!

July 19 sees the reissue of RCA Victor’s 1954 cast recording of one of only two operas ever to win the “Best Musical” citation of the New York Drama Critics Circle. Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Saint of Bleecker Street is also one of the relatively few operas to play The Great White Way. It’s followed on August 23 by the 1962 Off-Broadway Cast Recording of a very fractured fairy tale. Half Past Wednesday starred the late, great Dom DeLuise in one of his breakthrough roles, and is a modern take on the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Finally, on September 20, Divine Hair is reissued. What’s Divine Hair, you might ask? In April of 1971, as Hair was celebrating its third anniversary on Broadway, the Bishop of New York invited the company to participate in a celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a Mass performed in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. At the mass, Hair composer Galt MacDermot premiered a new work entitled Mass in F. Divine Hair captured this once-in-a-lifetime event on RCA.

Gian Carlo Menotti’s 1954 The Saint Of Bleecker Street premiered at The Broadway Theatre, today home to Sister Act, where it ran for 92 performances. Sung in English, the three-act musical drama is set in New York’s Little Italy. It follows young Annina, who suffers the stigmata and hears voices. Her brother Michele, a confirmed atheist, is confronted by his neighbors, who all believe Annina to be the titular saint. Soprano Gabriele Ruggiero starred as Annina and tenor David Poleri as Michele. Thomas Schippers, who won a Tony Award for his musical direction, conducted the recording. The opera won Menotti the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1955 but is largely forgotten today. With any luck, Masterworks’ reissue will rectify this.

Half-Past Wednesday, the Off-Broadway musical from 1962, may be one of the least-expected titles in the series so far. No less an authority than The New York Times hailed its young star Dom DeLuise as “a comic genius” for his performance as the King. Robert Fitch, later the original Rooster in Annie, is also heard on the recording. With music by Robert Colby and lyrics by Robert Colby and Nita Jonas, Half-Past Wednesday opened at the Opheum Theatre (where Stomp continues its long run today) on April 6, 1962. Sean Garrison won a Theatre World Award for his performance. Perhaps to make its cast album more commercially attractive, Half-Past Wednesday was retitled Rumpelstiltskin. But no matter – it quickly vanished into obscurity. The time is ripe to rediscover this album in the best sound yet; like all of the titles in Masterworks’ series, Half-Past Wednesday has been mastered from the original tapes for this reissue.

Hit the jump for the story of Divine Hair, plus the track listings and discographical information for all three shows, and what else to expect from Masterworks Broadway this summer! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 1, 2011 at 08:12