The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for August 18th, 2011

Got Its Mojo Working: Magazine Launches New Label, First Releases Coming Soon

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If you frequently peruse the magazine racks at your local Barnes and Noble or the soon-to-be-late, lamented Borders, chances are you’re familiar with Mojo.  The U.K.-published music magazine leads the vanguard of music publications across the pond along with publications like Uncut, Q, Classic Rock and Word, as high-end, glossy publications tailored for the music-centric crowd.  One monthly feature of Mojo and Uncut is the inclusion of a cover-mounted CD designed to tie in with that month’s content, sometimes drawing on archival material and other times on newly-recorded music.  So, some eighteen years after Mojo’s founding in 1993, it doesn’t come as a total surprise that the magazine is launching its own record label, and drawing on its own vaults for the first two releases/reissues.

The new Mojo label is a partnership with the Cherry Red Group (home of other favorite labels like Now Sounds, Big Break, Cherry Pop and RPM) and they’ve brought out the heavy hitters as inspirations for their first two releases.  Both are tributes to classic rock concept albums, and both are due August 22.  Sgt. Pepper: With a Little Help From His Friends is a reinterpretation of The Beatles’ 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as an “alternative rock opus” by artists like Simple Kid, Circulus, Stephanie Dosen and Fionn Regan.  It arrives alongside The Wall Re-Built!, a similar new look at Pink Floyd’s 1979 album.  Alessi’s Ark, Engineers, Peter Broderick, Soundcarriers, Simon Bookish, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, The Amazing, The Ralfe Band, and Snowbird (featuring Dosen and ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde) have all participated in this reimagining of Roger Waters’ compositions into “eerie and even stranger territory.”

For more information on both titles, including full track listings, hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 18, 2011 at 15:33

Prepare Ye: “Godspell” Turns 40, Celebrates With Deluxe Album Reissues

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Prepare ye the way of the Lord.  Just as the musical gears up for its first-ever Broadway revival, Masterworks Broadway is giving the deluxe treatment to Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak’s Godspell with a new 2-CD set to celebrate both the new revival and the show’s 40th anniversary.  Godspell and its score announced a major new talent in Stephen Schwartz, alumnus of Carnegie-Mellon University (the birthplace of his next musical, the legendary Pippin).  With its varied and diverse textures, as well as a decidedly modern feel, Schwartz’s score yielded a Top 15 pop single on the Hot 100 with “Day by Day,” and paved the way for his future triumphs including Pippin, The Magic Show and of course, Wicked.

Masterworks’ 40th anniversary Godspell features the original Top 40-charting 1971 off-Broadway cast album on the first disc, while the second is devoted to the soundtrack to the 1973 film version starring Victor Garber. The original staging’s Robin Lamont also appeared in the film to perform her hit rendition of “Day by Day.” Although no additional tracks have been included on either disc, both recordings have been remastered for this edition, and Schwartz has been tapped to pen the new liner notes.  He was first brought on board after an embryonic college staging directed by Tebelak, with music and lyrics by the student cast members.  Though Schwartz was hardly older than the young troupe, his vibrant score was both youthfully exciting and professionally polished.  (One song was retained from the original Godspell, “By My Side.”  It was written by Jay Hamburger and Peggy Gordon, and remains in the show’s libretto to this day.)  He drew lyrical inspiration from authentic hymns while still contributing his own unique lyrical voice.

Godspell opened off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre on May 17, 1971, moving uptown to the larger Promenade Theatre on August 10 of that year.  It eventually took a Broadway berth in 1976, ending its run the following year after 527 performances on the Great White Way.  Its unique structure of loose parables and catchy musical illustrations of those stories (primarily adapted from the Gospel of Matthew) set it apart from traditional musicals; its dramatic content has continued to be revised with each subsequent staging, though Schwartz’s score is a constant.  He added one pivotal song to that score in 1973 for the film version, the uplifting “Beautiful City.” Over the years, Godspell has introduced the image of Jesus clad in a Superman T-shirt to theatres everywhere, while its songs (particularly “Day by Day”) have been covered and numerous recordings of productions all over the world have been released on vinyl and CD.

Hit the jump for Masterworks’ full press release, plus a pre-order link and complete track listing!  Godspell – The 40th Anniversary Celebration arrives in stores, physically and digitally, on September 6. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 18, 2011 at 12:24

Review: Three From Dave Grusin, Cy Coleman and Henry Mancini

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With hyperbole the norm, it’s questionable just how many buyers took notice of a 1957 album on the Liberty label entitled The Versatile Henry Mancini.  Yet fewer record titles have proven as apt. As frequent collaborator Blake Edwards noted, “Whether the situation is romantic, humorous, tragic, ironic or full of action, Mancini creates exactly the right musical mood.”  Mancini’s breakthrough came two years after that LP’s release, when Edwards enlisted him to provide the cool jazz-inflected score to the television drama Peter Gunn.  Though no such albums exist, it’s easy to imagine LPs titled The Versatile Dave Grusin and The Versatile Cy Coleman.  These gentlemen shared with Mancini a passion for jazz, a vibrant recording career and an uncanny knack for film scoring.  Grusin, a co-founder of GRP Records, began his film score career in 1967, parallel to his work as an arranger, composer and musician.  Coleman, after making a name for himself as the pianist and leader of The Cy Coleman Trio, was still a young man when he made major contributions to the American songbook with tunes like “Witchcraft,” “You Fascinate Me So” and “The Best Is Yet to Come.”  He then established himself as a top-tier composer of Broadway musicals like Sweet Charity and Barnum, dabbling in film composition along the way.

Thanks to the tireless talents of producers Douglass Fake and Bruce Kimmel, at the Intrada and Kritzerland labels, respectively, three very different scores by Messrs. Mancini, Grusin and Coleman have recently arrived on CD.  These albums are about as close to pure musical joy as one could find.  Intrada has delivered the first-ever soundtrack for the 1976 television miniseries The Moneychangers (Special Collection 172), starring Christopher Plummer and Kirk Douglas, with an expansive score by Mancini, while Kritzerland has offered a two-on-one release of the soundtracks to two comedies starring Dick Van Dyke: 1965’s The Art of Love, by Coleman, and 1967’s Divorce, American Style by Grusin (KR 20019-6).  Even if you’re not a film score aficionado, you can’t go wrong with these albums; both are distinct listening experiences that conjure up a particular instrumental milieu and transport you there.

To steal from one of Coleman’s titles, “Kick Off Your Shoes,” hit the jump, and I’ll meet you there! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 18, 2011 at 11:26