The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for August 5th, 2011

Weekend Straw Poll: One Box

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It almost goes without saying, but that U2 box has been a real hot topic among friends at The Second Disc.

This author has long held the belief that UMe’s U2 reissues, starting with the 20th anniversary package for The Joshua Tree in 2007 have been among the best expanded sets released by a major label. The packaging is detailed, the mastering is pretty good (details uncovered on audiophile CD versions of the early albums are replicated on the reissues) and the bonus content is a potent mix of non-LP material and discoveries from the vault. (Like it or not, that’s probably the best sort of configuration to appease both moderate collectors, new fans and die-hards.)

Achtung takes the cake over all of them, though. While the other reissues had deluxe components, often paired with DVDs in big-enough boxes, this set takes things to a new level with 10 discs – six CDs and four DVDs – of material. Whatever your take on the bonus material, it’s hard not to have an opinion on this set. (My main gripes? It’s certainly unfortunate that Zooropa was shoehorned into the box – I don’t see it as essential to the story of the album before it. Plus, did the other earlier albums – which make up my favorite of the band’s material – deserve this kind of royal treatment?)

Opinions aside, it’s what we express with our wallets that count the most. That leads us to this weekend’s poll: which set are you likely going to pick up this fall?

Written by Mike Duquette

August 5, 2011 at 15:12

Stax Remasters Continue with Thomas, Brown and The Dramatics (UPDATED 8/5 WITH TRACK LISTINGS)

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While Berry Gordy was defining “The Sound of Young America” in Detroit, Jim Stewart, Estelle Axton and Al Bell were pioneering deep, gritty Southern soul in Memphis.  To many, Motown and Stax were two sides of the same coin, both offering powerhouse R&B sounds that spoke directly to the country’s youth.  Since acquiring Stax from Fantasy Records in 2004, Concord Music Group has relaunched Stax as an active concern with new artists and has introduced a number of healthy catalogue initiatives to celebrate the classic sounds of Stax, circa 1968-1975.  (The majority of the pre-1968 Stax recordings are currently controlled by Warner Music Group due to the label’s distribution deal with Atlantic Records.)

On September 13, Concord will continue its Stax Remasters series with Rufus Thomas’s Do the Funky Chicken, the Dramatics’ Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get and Shirley Brown’s Woman to Woman.  Each of these three titles features a bona fide classic title song, 24-bit remastered sound, bonus tracks, and detailed new liner notes.

Rufus Thomas could fairly stake claim to having laid the foundation for the entire Stax empire.  With his daughter Carla, Rufus recorded “Cause I Love You” in 1960, the success of which led to the distribution deal with Atlantic and the further hits to come.  Though Thomas’ career was languishing as the 1960s drew to a close, he continued to record for Stax.  One year after recording an unreleased LP with Booker T and the MG’s entitled May I Have Your Ticket Please?, Thomas re-entered the studio again with members of the Bar-Kays and son Marvell Thomas to record a song with the unlikeliest of titles, “Do the Funky Chicken.”  Well, in the tradition of Thomas’ dancefloor stompers like “Walkin’ the Dog” and “Can Your Monkey Do the Dog?,” listeners took a shine to the song.  It returned Thomas to the upper reaches of the charts, reaching No. 5 R&B and No. 28 Pop. Rufus was back on top, and the album Do the Funky Chicken followed. The new reissue is expanded by tracks including “Funky Mississippi,” from the unreleased May I Have Your Ticket Please? as well as “Funky Way” and  “Itch and Scratch.”  That last single was recorded not at Stax, however, but at Jackson, Mississippi’s Malaco Studios.

With the 1970s dawning, Stax executive Al Bell keenly felt the need to diversify the label roster, and one of his new recruits, producer Don Davis, brought Detroit’s The Dramatics with him.  The group signed with Stax in 1968 but didn’t score their first hit at the company until writer/producer Tony Hestor gave them “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get.”  The song even bested the placement of “Funky Chicken,” going No. 3 R&B and No. 9 Pop in the summer of 1971 on Stax’s Volt label. Its follow-up, “In the Rain,” even bettered its predecessor’s placement on the pop chart when it hit No. 5. The Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get reissue contains an entire album’s worth of bonus tracks.  Among the nine additional cuts are two more hit singles, “Fell for You” and “Hey You! Get Off My Mountain,” both of which were recorded in Detroit instead of Memphis. The closer “Hum a Song (From Your Heart)” has a connection to the halcyon days of the Stax/Atlantic partnership, as it was produced at Atlantic South Criterion Studios by the legendary production and arrangement team of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin.

Hit the jump for the details on Woman to Woman, plus pre-order links and track listings for all three titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 5, 2011 at 13:13

Love Hurts, But This Nazareth Box Looks Painless

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Madness isn’t the only artist getting a career box set from Salvo Music this year. The U.K. label is affording the same treatment to Scottish rockers Nazareth.

While the band had only fleeting chart success in either the U.K. or the U.S. (enjoying early success at home with Top 10 hits “Broken Down Angel” and “Bad Bad Boy,” as well as high-charting tunes like their rocking takes on Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight” and Tomorrow’s “My White Bicycle,” and having one brief Top 10 in the U.S. with the Boudleaux Bryant ballad “Love Hurts” (originally performed by no less than The Everly Brothers!), their fan base is still strong (owing in part to Salvo’s lengthy reissue campaign in recent times). The band still tours and even records, releasing an album earlier this year.

Now comes news of a new box set for Nazareth, The Naz Box, coming this fall. The four-disc set features two discs of singles, album cuts and B-sides across the band’s entire career alongside two discs of live tracks recorded by the BBC (while the source of these tracks have not been determined, they have likely seen release on other archival titles or as bonus tracks on the Salvo reissues) and, most exciting for fans, nine unreleased demos and outtakes.

The Naz Box is out September 19 and can be ordered on Amazon U.K. here. Have a look at the track list after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 5, 2011 at 11:50

Posted in Box Sets, Nazareth, News