The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 20th, 2011

Back Tracks: CHIC

with 3 comments

It’s a crime that when you talk about CHIC, many of the players who made up arguably the greatest band of the disco era aren’t alive to hear your words of praise. Bernard Edwards, CHIC’s bassist and co-producer, died in 1997; drummer Tony Thompson passed away in 2003. Nile Rodgers, guitarist, co-producer and keeper of the CHIC flame, could easily have met the same early fate had he not been lucky enough to discover the cancer that he’s been since late last year. (Rodgers, one of the best users of the Internet to connect with fans, has kept readers entertained and informed with his Walking on Planet C blog since the start of the year, and will release his memoir, Le Freak, in the fall.)

The other day at Second Disc HQ, we were reminded by our good friend Eric Luecking of Record Racks that another member of the CHIC Organization had passed away: Raymond Jones, who played piano and keyboards on “Le Freak,” “Good Times” and “We Are Family,” succumbed to pneumonia earlier this month at the too-young age of 52. (Jones also worked with the Tom Tom Club and Jeffrey Osbourne, writing “Stay with Me Tonight” for the latter.)

In honor of Jones and all the other members of the CHIC Organization who are not here to enjoy our expressions of love and respect for their music, today’s Back Tracks takes a look at the music of CHIC and the many reissues and compilations that have been released all over the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 20, 2011 at 17:43

In Case You Missed It: Cherry Red Brings Out Pop Will Eat Itself, Soul Reissues

leave a comment »

Last week at Cherry Red saw news an expansion of Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy’s solo debut and a host of titles from Big Break Records. But that wasn’t all. Monday saw the release of four other expanded titles from the label group: two from a legendary British alternate rock outfit and another two overlooked soul albums.

Pop Will Eat Itself, the Stourbridge-based band, first gained attention when their self-released debut EP, The Poppies Say GRRrrr!, was lauded by NME and added to the BBC’s Radio 1 playlist. The band would flirt with mainstream success in the 1990s, after signing to RCA and a raucous opening slot for Public Enemy, culminating with their sole U.K. Top 10 single, “Get the Girl! Kill the Baddies!” Singer Graham Crabb continues to work with a reformed version of the band after a full reunion in the mid-2000s, but it’s that classic lineup that will be saluted with two expanded sets from Cherry Red.

The first, Now for a Feast!, was actually the band’s second full-length release, collating much of their non-LP material from 1986 to 1987. That set is now expanded to two discs, including all of their primary single sides and a bonus disc of B-sides, alternate versions and unreleased material, including rare early demos by the band (some cut while they were still working under the name Wild and Wandering). Additionally, the band’s first proper LP, 1987’s Box Frenzy, has been reissued with additional material, including non-LP mixes and tracks and three unreleased demos.

Cherry Red’s also got two albums out on the label. One is Stares and Whispers, a late-’70s album from Freda Payne (she of “Band of Gold” fame), which features two non-LP B-sides and a single cut with Tavares (her labelmates on Capitol at the time). The other is Back for More, a 1980 album by Al Johnson (onetime lead singer of the ’60s soul group The Unifics), augmented by both edited sides of the single Columbia released to promote the album.

All track lists and order pages can be seen after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 20, 2011 at 11:59

Ease On Down For Hip-o’s New Stephanie Mills Anthology

with 2 comments

Stephanie Mills’ very first LP was titled Movin’ in the Right Direction. And although the 1975 LP on the ABC-Paramount label didn’t launch her career as a recording artist with a bang, its title was certainly apt. A few years later, the label would be 20th Century Fox instead of Paramount, and Mills would skyrocket to superstardom in the disco era. Her hitmaking records for 20th Century Fox Records are being compiled by Hip-o Select for the August 23 release of Feel the Fire: The 20th Century Collection. This 2-CD anthology brings together Mills’ three albums for the label recorded between 1979 and 1981, and adds a brace of singles and 12-inch mixes for a definitive overview of her time there.

Mills was only 18 in 1975, but her showbiz career had begun many years earlier. At the age of 11, she won Amateur Night at New York’s Apollo Theatre a record six times, and shortly thereafter she was cast as one of the children in the 1968 Broadway musical Maggie Flynn starring Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones. (The delightful RCA Victor cast album of Maggie Flynn has just been reissued by our good friends at Sony’s Masterworks Broadway.) Mills recorded her first single for ABC in 1973, and her persistence finally paid off with her breakthrough performance as Dorothy when William F. Brown and Charlie Smalls’ The Wiz opened at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre on January 5, 1975.

Mills was one major reason for the show’s phenomenal success when it finally arrived in New York after a tumultous tryout at Baltimore’s Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in late 1974.  (You can read just one amusing account here!)

She earned two signature songs from Charlie Smalls’ score, as expertly orchestrated by Harold Wheeler (today the conductor of television’s Dancing with the Stars!), when she introduced “Home” and “Ease On Down the Road.” Following The Wiz, she focused on her recording career. Despite the lack of success of Movin’ in the Right Direction, Motown signed her. The storied label paired Mills with Burt Bacharach and Hal David for that team’s final co-production, recorded during a brief reconciliation during their period of estrangement. It was their only work for Berry Gordy’s empire, though the Motown stable of artists frequently raided their songbook. The long out-of-print For the First Time introduced many Bacharach and David originals along with a couple of remakes of songs associated with Dionne Warwick, “This Empty Place” (also popular with many Merseybeat artists) and “Loneliness Remembers (What Happiness Forgets).” Despite the strength of such songs as “No One Remembers My Name,” “I Took My Strength From You” and “Living on Plastic,” as well as Bacharach’s contemporary arrangements that showed his musical evolution from his sixties heyday, the album didn’t go anywhere. Typical for Motown, Mills continued to record, but her remaining tracks didn’t see release until 1982. By that time, she could bask in the glow of the recording success that had previously eluded her, thanks to the success of a string of albums on the 20th Century Fox label.

Hit the jump for a trip through Stephanie’s 20th Century years plus a full track listing and pre-order link for the new set! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 20, 2011 at 09:04